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Canon 9

[A.M. SDC-97-2-P. February 24, 1997]

SOPHIA ALAWI, complainant, vs. ASHARY M. ALAUYA, Clerk of Court VI, Shari'a District Court,
Marawi City, respondent.

DECISION
NARVASA, C.J.:

Sophia Alawi was (and presumably still is) a sales representative (or coordinator) of E. B. Villarosa&
Partners Co., Ltd. of Davao City, a real estate and housing company. Ashari M. Alauya is the incumbent
executive clerk of court of the 4th Judicial Shari'a District in Marawi City. They were classmates, and used
to be friends.
It appears that through Alawi's agency, a contract was executed for the purchase on installments by
Alauya of one of the housing units belonging to the above mentioned firm (hereafter, simply Villarosa& Co.);
and in connection therewith, a housing loan was also granted to Alauya by the National Home Mortgage
Finance Corporation (NHMFC).
Not long afterwards, or more precisely on December 15, 1995, Alauya addressed a letter to the
President of Villarosa& Co. advising of the termination of his contract with the company. He wrote:

" ** I am formally and officially withdrawing from and notifying you of my intent to terminate the
Contract/Agreement entered into between me and your company, as represented by your Sales
Agent/Coordinator, SOPHIA ALAWI, of your company's branch office here in Cagayan de Oro City, on the
grounds that my consent was vitiated by gross misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, dishonesty and abuse of
confidence by the aforesaid sales agent which made said contract void ab initio. Said sales agent acting in
bad faith perpetrated such illegal and unauthorized acts which made said contract an Onerous Contract
prejudicial to my rights and interests."

He then proceeded to expound in considerable detail and quite acerbic language on the "grounds which
could evidence the bad faith, deceit, fraud, misrepresentation, dishonesty and abuse of confidence by the
unscrupulous sales agent ** ;" and closed with the plea that Villarosa& Co. "agree for the mutual rescission
of our contract, even as I inform you that I categorically state on record that I am terminating the contract
**. I hope I do not have to resort to any legal action before said onerous and manipulated contract against
my interest be annulled. I was actually fooled by your sales agent, hence the need to annul the
controversial contract."
Alauya sent a copy of the letter to the Vice-President of Villarosa& Co. at San Pedro, Gusa, Cagayan
de Oro City. The envelope containing it, and which actually went through the post, bore no stamps. Instead
at the right hand corner above the description of the addressee, the words, "Free Postage PD 26," had
been typed.
On the same date, December 15, 1995, Alauya also wrote to Mr. Fermin T. Arzaga, Vice-President,
Credit & Collection Group of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) at Salcedo
Village, Makati City, repudiating as fraudulent and void his contract with Villarosa& Co.; and asking for
cancellation of his housing loan in connection therewith, which was payable from salary deductions at the
rate of P4,338.00 a month. Among other things, he said:

" ** (T)hrough this written notice, I am terminating, as I hereby annul, cancel, rescind and voided, the
'manipulated contract' entered into between me and the E.B. Villarosa& Partner Co., Ltd., as represented
by its sales agent/coordinator, SOPHIA ALAWI, who maliciously and fraudulently manipulated said contract
and unlawfully secured and pursued the housing loan without my authority and against my will. Thus, the
contract itself is deemed to be void ab initio in view of the attending circumstances, that my consent was
vitiated by misrepresentation, fraud, deceit, dishonesty, and abuse of confidence; and that there was no
meeting of the minds between me and the swindling sales agent who concealed the real facts from me."

And, as in his letter to Villarosa& Co., he narrated in some detail what he took to be the anomalous
actuations of Sophia Alawi.
Alauya wrote three other letters to Mr. Arzaga of the NHMFC, dated February 21, 1996, April 15, 1996,
and May 3, 1996, in all of which, for the same reasons already cited, he insisted on the cancellation of his
housing loan and discontinuance of deductions from his salary on account thereof.a He also wrote on
January 18, 1996 to Ms. Corazon M. Ordoez, Head of the Fiscal Management & Budget Office, and to the
Chief, Finance Division, both of this Court, to stop deductions from his salary in relation to the loan in
question, again asserting the anomalous manner by which he was allegedly duped into entering into the
contracts by "the scheming sales agent."b
The upshot was that in May, 1996, the NHMFC wrote to the Supreme Court requesting it to stop
deductions on Alauya's UHLP loan "effective May 1996," and began negotiating with Villarosa& Co. "for the
buy-back of ** (Alauya's) mortgage, and ** the refund of ** (his) payments."c
On learning of Alauya's letter to Villarosa& Co. of December 15, 1995, Sophia Alawi filed with this
Court a verified complaint dated January 25, 1996 -- to which she appended a copy of the letter, and of the
above mentioned envelope bearing the typewritten words, "Free Postage PD 26."[1] In that complaint, she
accused Alauya of:

1. "Imputation of malicious and libelous charges with no solid grounds through manifest ignorance and
evident bad faith;"

2. "Causing undue injury to, and blemishing her honor and established reputation;"

3. "Unauthorized enjoyment of the privilege of free postage **;" and

4. Usurpation of the title of "attorney," which only regular members of the Philippine Bar may properly use.

She deplored Alauya's references to her as "unscrupulous, swindler, forger, manipulator, etc." without
"even a bit of evidence to cloth (sic) his allegations with the essence of truth," denouncing his imputations
as irresponsible, "all concoctions, lies, baseless and coupled with manifest ignorance and evident bad
faith," and asserting that all her dealings with Alauya had been regular and completely transparent. She
closed with the plea that Alauya "be dismissed from the service, or be appropriately disciplined (sic) ** "
The Court resolved to order Alauya to comment on the complaint. Conformably with established usage
that notices of resolutions emanate from the corresponding Office of the Clerk of Court, the notice of
resolution in this case was signed by Atty. Alfredo P. Marasigan, Assistant Division Clerk of Court.[2]
Alauya first submitted a "Preliminary Comment"[3] in which he questioned the authority of Atty.
Marasigan to require an explanation of him, this power pertaining, according to him, not to "a mere Asst.
Div. Clerk of Court investigating an Executive Clerk of Court." but only to the District Judge, the Court
Administrator or the Chief Justice, and voiced the suspicion that the Resolution was the result of a "strong
link" between Ms. Alawi and Atty. Marasigan's office. He also averred that the complaint had no factual
basis; Alawi was envious of him for being not only "the Executive Clerk of court and ex-officio Provincial
Sheriff and District Registrar," but also "a scion of a Royal Family **."[4]
In a subsequent letter to Atty. Marasigan, but this time in much less aggressive, even obsequious
tones,[5] Alauya requested the former to give him a copy of the complaint in order that he might comment
thereon.[6] He stated that his acts as clerk of court were done in good faith and within the confines of the
law; and that Sophia Alawi as sales agent of Villarosa& Co. had, by falsifying his signature, fraudulently
bound him to a housing loan contract entailing monthly deductions of P4,333.10 from his salary.
And in his comment thereafter submitted under date of June 5, 1996, Alauya contended that it was he
who had suffered "undue injury, mental anguish, sleepless nights, wounded feelings and untold financial
suffering," considering that in six months, a total of P26,028.60 had been deducted from his salary.[7] He
declared that there was no basis for the complaint; in communicating with Villarosa& Co. he had merely
acted in defense of his rights. He denied any abuse of the franking privilege, saying that he gave P20.00
plus transportation fare to a subordinate whom he entrusted with the mailing of certain letters; that the
words: "Free Postage PD 26," were typewritten on the envelope by some other person, an averment
corroborated by the affidavit of Absamen C. Domocao, Clerk IV (subscribed and sworn to before
respondent himself, and attached to the comment as Annex J); [8] and as far as he knew, his subordinate
mailed the letters with the use of the money he had given for postage, and if those letters were indeed
mixed with the official mail of the court, this had occurred inadvertently and because of an honest mistake.[9]
Alauya justified his use of the title, "attorney," by the assertion that it is "lexically synonymous" with
"Counsellors-at-law," a title to which Shari'a lawyers have a rightful claim, adding that he prefers the title of
"attorney" because "counsellor" is often mistaken for "councilor," "konsehal or the Maranao term "consial,"
connoting a local legislator beholden to the mayor. Withal, he does not consider himself a lawyer.
He pleads for the Court's compassion, alleging that what he did "is expected of any man unduly
prejudiced and injured."[10] He claims he was manipulated into reposing his trust in Alawi, a classmate and
friend.[11] He was induced to sign a blank contract on Alawi's assurance that she would show the completed
document to him later for correction, but she had since avoided him; despite "numerous letters and follow-
ups" he still does not know where the property -- subject of his supposed agreement with Alawi's principal,
Villarosa& Co. -- is situated;[12]He says Alawi somehow got his GSIS policy from his wife, and although she
promised to return it the next day, she did not do so until after several months. He also claims that in
connection with his contract with Villarosa& Co., Alawi forged his signature on such pertinent documents as
those regarding the down payment, clearance, lay-out, receipt of the key of the house, salary deduction,
none of which he ever saw.[13]
Averring in fine that his acts in question were done without malice, Alauya prays for the dismissal of the
complaint for lack of merit, it consisting of "fallacious, malicious and baseless allegations," and complainant
Alawi having come to the Court with unclean hands, her complicity in the fraudulent housing loan being
apparent and demonstrable.
It may be mentioned that in contrast to his two (2) letters to Assistant Clerk of Court Marasigan (dated
April 19, 1996 and April 22, 1996), and his two (2) earlier letters both dated December 15, 1996 -- all of
which he signed as "Atty. Ashary M. Alauya" -- in his Comment of June 5, 1996, he does not use the title
but refers to himself as "DATU ASHARY M. ALAUYA."
The Court referred the case to the Office of the Court Administrator for evaluation, report and
recommendation.[14]
The first accusation against Alauya is that in his aforesaid letters, he made "malicious and libelous
charges (against Alawi) with no solid grounds through manifest ignorance and evident bad faith," resulting
in "undue injury to (her) and blemishing her honor and established reputation." In those letters, Alauya had
written inter alia that:

1) Alawi obtained his consent to the contracts in question "by gross misrepresentation, deceit, fraud,
dishonesty and abuse of confidence;"

2) Alawi acted in bad faith and perpetrated ** illegal and unauthorized acts ** ** prejudicial to ** (his) rights
and interests;"

3) Alawi was an "unscrupulous (and "swindling") sales agent" who had fooled him by "deceit, fraud,
misrepresentation, dishonesty and abuse of confidence;" and

4) Alawi had maliciously and fraudulently manipulated the contract with Villarosa& Co., and unlawfully
secured and pursued the housing loan without ** (his) authority and against ** (his) will," and "concealed
the real facts **."

Alauya's defense essentially is that in making these statements, he was merely acting in defense of his
rights, and doing only what "is expected of any man unduly prejudiced and injured," who had suffered
"mental anguish, sleepless nights, wounded feelings and untold financial suffering," considering that in six
months, a total of P26,028.60 had been deducted from his salary.[15]
The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA
6713) inter alia enunciates the State policy of promoting a high standard of ethics and utmost responsibility
in the public service.[16] Section 4 of the Code commands that "(p)ublic officials and employees ** at all
times respect the rights of others, and ** refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good
customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest."[17] More than once has this Court
emphasized that "the conduct and behavior of every official and employee of an agency involved in the
administration of justice, from the presiding judge to the most junior clerk, should be circumscribed with the
heavy burden of responsibility. Their conduct must at all times be characterized by, among others, strict
propriety and decorum so as to earn and keep the respect of the public for the judiciary."[18]
Now, it does not appear to the Court consistent with good morals, good customs or public policy, or
respect for the rights of others, to couch denunciations of acts believed -- however sincerely -- to be
deceitful, fraudulent or malicious, in excessively intemperate. insulting or virulent language. Alauya is
evidently convinced that he has a right of action against Sophia Alawi. The law requires that he exercise
that right with propriety, without malice or vindictiveness, or undue harm to anyone; in a manner consistent
with good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, supra; or otherwise stated, that he "act with
justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith."[19] Righteous indignation, or vindication
of right cannot justify resort to vituperative language, or downright name-calling. As a member of the Shari'a
Bar and an officer of a Court, Alawi is subject to a standard of conduct more stringent than for most other
government workers. As a man of the law, he may not use language which is abusive, offensive,
scandalous, menacing, or otherwise improper.[20] As a judicial employee, it is expected that he accord
respect for the person and the rights of others at all times, and that his every act and word should be
characterized by prudence, restraint, courtesy, dignity. His radical deviation from these salutary norms
might perhaps be mitigated, but cannot be excused, by his strongly held conviction that he had been
grievously wronged.
As regards Alauya's use of the title of "Attorney," this Court has already had occasion to declare that
persons who pass the Shari'a Bar are not full-fledged members of the Philippine Bar, hence may only
practice law before Shari'a courts.[21] While one who has been admitted to the Shari'a Bar, and one who has
been admitted to the Philippine Bar, may both be considered "counsellors," in the sense that they give
counsel or advice in a professional capacity, only the latter is an "attorney." The title of "attorney" is
reserved to those who, having obtained the necessary degree in the study of law and successfully taken
the Bar Examinations, have been admitted to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and remain members
thereof in good standing; and it is they only who are authorized to practice law in this jurisdiction.
Alauya says he does not wish to use the title, "counsellor" or "counsellor-at-law," because in his region,
there are pejorative connotations to the term, or it is confusingly similar to that given to local legislators. The
ratiocination, valid or not, is of no moment. His disinclination to use the title of "counsellor" does not warrant
his use of the title of attorney.
Finally, respecting Alauya's alleged unauthorized use of the franking privilege, the record contains no
evidence adequately establishing the accusation.
WHEREFORE, respondent Ashari M. Alauya is hereby REPRIMANDED for the use of excessively
intemperate, insulting or virulent language, i.e., language unbecoming a judicial officer, and for usurping the
title of attorney; and he is warned that any similar or other impropriety or misconduct in the future will be
dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Baguio City

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 154207 April 27, 2007

FERDINAND A. CRUZ, Petitioner,


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

DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

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

The antecedents:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I.

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

II.

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

III.

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

IV.

THE RESPONDENT COURT[s] ARE CLEARLY IGNORING THE LAW WHEN THEY PATENTLY REFUSED TO
HEED TO [sic] THE CLEAR MANDATE OF THE LAPUT, CANTIMBUHAN AND BULACAN CASES, AS WELL
AS BAR MATTER NO. 730, PROVIDING FOR THE APPEARANCE OF NON-LAWYERS BEFORE THE LOWER
COURTS (MTCS).4

This Court, in exceptional cases, and for compelling reasons, or if warranted by the nature of the issues
reviewed, may take cognizance of petitions filed directly before it.5

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

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

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

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


RULE 138-A
LAW STUDENT PRACTICE RULE

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

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

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

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

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

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

The phrase "In the court of a justice of the peace" in Bar Matter No. 730 is subsequently changed to "In the court
of a municipality" as it now appears in Section 34 of Rule 138, thus: 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The petitioner is correct in stating that there being no reservation, waiver, nor prior institution of the civil aspect in
Criminal Case No. 00-1705, it follows that the civil aspect arising from Grave Threats is deemed instituted with
the criminal action, and, hence, the private prosecutor may rightfully intervene to prosecute the civil aspect.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution and Order of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 116, Pasay City are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 45, Pasay City is
DIRECTED to ADMIT the Entry of Appearance of petitioner in Criminal Case No. 00-1705 as a private
prosecutor under the direct control and supervision of the public prosecutor.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

Bar Matter No. 139 October 11, 1984

RE: ELMO S. ABAD, 1978 Successful Bar Examinee, ATTY. PROCOPIO S. BELTRAN, JR., President of the
Philippine Trial Lawyers Association. Inc., complainant,
vs.
ELMO S. ABAD, respondent.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:

On March 28, 1983, this Court held respondent ELMO S. ABAD in contempt of court for unauthorized practice of
law and he was fined P500.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case he failed to pay the fine. (121 SCRA 217.)
He paid the fine.

On May 5, 1983, Atty. Procopio S. Beltran, Jr., the complainant, filed a MOTION TO CIRCULARIZE TO ALL
METRO MANILA COURTS THE FACT THAT ELMO S. ABAD IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO PRACTICE LAW.

Asked to comment on the Motion, Mr. Abad opposed it. He denied the allegations in the Motion that he had been
practicing law even after our Decision of March 28, 1983.

Because the Motion and the Opposition raised a question of fact, in Our resolution of April 10, 1984, We directed
"the Clerk of Court to conduct an investigation in the premises and submit a report thereon with appropriate
recommendation."

In a comprehensive and well-documented Report which is hereby made a part of this Resolution, the Clerk of
Court concluded:

The aforesaid documentary and testimonial evidence, as well as the above report of the NBI,
have clearly proved that respondent Abad is still practicing law despite the decision of this Court
of March 28, 1983.

The Clerk of Court makes the following recommendations:

a. imposed a fine of P2,000.00 payable within ten (10) days from receipt of this
resolution or an imprisonment of twenty (20) days in case of non-payment thereof,
with warning of drastic disciplinary action of imprisonment in case of any further
practice of law after receipt of this resolution; and

b. debarred from admission to the Philippine Bar until such time that the Court
finds him fit to become such a member.

It is further recommended that a circular be issued to all courts in the Philippines through the
Office of the Court Administrator that respondent Elmo S. Abad has not been admitted to the
Philippine Bar and is therefore not authorized to practice law.

We find the Report to be in order and its recommendations to be well-taken. However, the latter are not
sufficiently adequate in dealing with the improper activities of the respondent.

The Report has found as a fact, over the denials of the respondent under oath, that he signed Exhibits B, C, and
D, and that he made appearances in Metro Manila courts. This aspect opens the respondent to a charge for
perjury.

The Report also reveals that Atty. Ruben A. Jacobe collaborated with the respondent as counsels for Antonio S.
Maravilla one of the accused in Criminal Case Nos. 26084, 26085 and 26086 of the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City. (Exhibit D.) Atty. Jacobe should be called to account for his association with the respondent.

WHEREFORE, Elmo S. Abad is hereby ordered to pay a fine of P12,000.00 within ten (10) days from notice,
failing which he shall be imprisoned for twenty (20) days. He is also warned that if he persists in the unauthorized
practice of law he shall be dealt with more severely.

The Court Administrator is directed to circularize all courts in the country that the respondent has not been
authorized to practice law. A copy of the circular should be sent to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

The Clerk of Court is directed to file with the City Fiscal of Manila an appropriate complaint for false testimony
against the respondent.

Finally, Atty. Ruben A. Jacobe is required to explain within ten (10) days from notice why he should not be
disciplined for collaborating and associating in the practice of the law with the respondent who is not a member of
the bar.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee, Actg. C.J., Makasiar, Aquino, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Escolin, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente
and Cuevas, JJ., concur.

Guerrero, J., took no part.

Fernando, C.J. and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., are on leave.

Concepcion, Jr., J., on leave.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

RE: Bar Matter No. 139


Elmo S. Abad, 1978 Successful
Bar Examinees

This report is submitted in compliance with the resolution of April 10, 1984.

In the En Banc decision of March 28, 1983 in the above-entitled case, the Court found respondent Elmo S. Abad,
who passed the 1978 Bar examinations but has not been admitted to the Philippine Bar, in contempt of Court for
illegal practice of law, and imposed upon him a fine of P500.00. Respondent paid the fine on May 2, 1983.

On May 5, 1983 complainant filed a motion to circularize to all Metro Manila courts the fact that respondent is not
authorized to practice law. The Court in its resolution of May 26, 1983 required respondent to comment on the
said motion. Respondent filed "Opposition to Motion and Manifestation" which was noted in the resolution of June
30, 1983.

The complainant on March 14, 1984 reiterated his motion to circularize to all Metro Manila courts that respondent
is not authorized to practice law, with prayer that the latter be punished with greater severity. He stated that "Mr.
Abad is still practicing law as evidenced by the fact that last December 8, 1983 at about 2:00 o'clock in the
afternoon, Mr. Abad appeared before the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 100
located at the 11th Floor, City Hall, Quezon City presided by the Honorable Judge Jorge C. Macli-ing that Mr.
Abad appeared as counsel for a certain Caroline T. Velez in Criminal Case Nos. 26084, 26085 and 26086
entitled People of the Philippines vs. Maravilla, et al. Mr. Abad even cited in the pleading his Professional Tax
Receipt to prove that he is a licensed legal practitioner which is utterly false. Mr. Abad gave his address as
Ruben A. Jacobe& Associates, Ground Floor, ADC Building, Ayala Avenue, Makati, Metro Manila."

Respondent filed an "Opposition to Motion" denying the complainant's allegation, to wit:

4. ... respondent is not presenting himself to the general public as a Practicing Lawyer like what
Atty. Procopio S. Beltran insists to the Honorable Court;

5. That this motion is motivated by Atty. Beltran's personal desire to inflict malice and oppression
upon the respondent who even until now does not accede to the terms and conditions of the
former in connection with several cases filed against him by the said Atty. Beltran;

6. Respondent respectfully submits that Atty. Beltran is trying his very best to harass the
respondent under the guise of conducting a Crusade personally with the end in view that
respondent submit to his ill-desires and veiled threats and finally come into terms with him.

In the hearings conducted by the undersigned, to prove the allegations in his motion, complainant presented the
records in Criminal Cases Nos. 26084, 26085 and 26086, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Antonio S.
Maravilla, Jr., et al." of Branch 100, Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, which were brought to this Court and
Identified by Atty. Candido A. Domingo, Clerk of Court of said trial court, and marked by the undersigned as the
following exhibits:

1. Transcript of stenographic notes taken down during the initial trial of the aforesaid criminal cases on December
8, 1983, at 1:30 in the afternoon (Exhibit "A") where it is stated that Atty. Elmo Abad was counsel for Juan del
Gallego III (Exhibit "A-1");

2. Urgent motion for withdrawal from custody of motor vehicle filed for Caroline T. Velez by Elmo Abad (Exhibit
"B") with his name and signature appearing therein as counsel for the said movant (E exhibit "B-1");

3. Page 4 of aforesaid motion (Exhibit "C") with the name and signature of Elmo Abad appearing therein as
submitting the aforesaid motion for consideration of the trial court (Exhibit "C-1");

4. Urgent motion for deferment of arraignment and trial filed for accused Antonio S. Maravilla, assisted by
counsel Ruben A. Jacobe with Elmo Abad (Exhibit "D"), with the names and signatures of Elmo Abad and Ruben
A. Jacobe appearing as counsel for the accused movant Antonio S. Maravilla (Exhibit "D-1");

5. Also page 3 of the aforesaid motion for deferment of arraignment and trial where the name and signature of
Elmo Abad, together with those of Ruben A. Jacobe, appear as submitting the aforesaid motion for the
consideration and approval of the trial court (Exhibit "D-2"); and

6. Order of Judge Jorge C. Macli-ing dated July 26, 1983 Exhibit "E") wherein on page 1 thereof appears the
statement that the urgent motion for deferment of arraignment and trial and the urgent motion for withdrawal from
court of motor vehicle were filed by "Atty. Elmo Abad (Exhibit "E-1").

Complainant also presented Exhibit "F", his letter to the branch Clerk of Court, Branch 100, Regional Trial Court,
Quezon City requesting for certification that Mr. Abad had appeared as counsel for a certain Ma. Caroline T.
Velez in the case entitled People vs. Maravilla, et al., with Exhibit "F-1" to indicate that said Clerk of Court was
the addressee of the said letter.

After the original of the above records were presented to and marked as exhibits by the Investigator, the same
were xeroxed and the xerox copies were certified by Atty. Candido Domingo, Clerk of Court of Branch 100,
Regional Trial Court, Quezon City.

Complainant also testified that on December 8, 1983 he was at the 11th floor of the Quezon City Regional Trial
Court NCJR, Branch 100, Quezon City and saw respondent Abad pass by in coat and tie and because he knew
that Mr. Abad is a respondent in a case before the Supreme Court and had been declared as a non-lawyer in its
decision of March 28, 1983, he (complainant) got curious and followed respondent and saw the latter enter the
sala of Branch 100 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City; that he saw him there and after about twenty
minutes when he went back to the same sala, he saw respondent in the place of the said court where the lawyers
were supposed to be seated; that some days after, he went back to the said sala and inspected the records of
the criminal cases numbered 26084, 26085 and 26086,* which are the subject matters of the certification of the
Clerk of Court, Atty. Domingo, before the Investigator (TSN, May 26, 1984, pp. 24-26).

Mrs. Eufrocina B. Ison the Court Reporter who took down and transcribed the stenographic notes of the
proceedings in the afternoon of December 8, 1983 in the said criminal cases in the aforesaid trial court, appeared
before the undersigned Investigator and positively Identified respondent Elmo Abad as the Atty. Elmo Abad who
appeared as counsel for Juan del Gallego III in the aforesaid proceedings that afternoon of December 8, 1983
(pp. 1 & 2, TSN, May 11, 1984). She furthermore testified that she has no reason to be interested in this case in
Identifying respondent Abad as the one who appeared in said court on said afternoon of December 8, 1983 (pp.
19-20, TSN, May 11, 1984).

Respondent, when asked about the aforesaid motions, Exhibits "B" and "D", and the signatures therein, denied
that he filed the same and that the signatures therein are his. He also denied that he appeared in the hearing in
the afternoon of December 8, 1983 in the said trial court. According to him, he was in Batangas at the time. He
also testified that the only explanation he could give regarding the signatures in the aforesaid exhibits is that the
same could have been effected by Atty. Beltran to show the Supreme Court that he (respondent) was still illegally
practicing law.

In connection with his defense, he filed

(1) a motion to present the video tape to show his whereabouts at the time of the said hearing in the afternoon of
December 8, 1983 in Branch 100, Regional Trial Court, Quezon City; and

(2) a motion that his signature in the aforesaid motions filed in the said trial court in said criminal cases be
compared with his genuine signature.

The Investigator orally denied respondent's motion to present the video tape for the reason that the matter
intended to be proved thereby, that is the time of day, cannot be accurately determined from the film as the same
could be doctored by lighting effects (p. 16, TSN, May 11, 1984).

As to the motion for examination and analysis of respondent's signature, the Investigator, to afford respondent full
opportunity to prove his defense, sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation to compare
respondent's signature in the aforesaid exhibits with the signatures appearing in the pleadings that he filed in the
Supreme Court, which latter signature he admits as genuine and as his own.

On August 7, 1984, the National Bureau of Investigation submitted its report regarding the questioned signatures
of respondent. Quoted hereunder are its findings and conclusion:

Findings: Comparative examination of the specimens, under magnification and stereoscopic


microscope, with the aid of photographic enlargements, reveals that there exist fundamental,
significant similarities in writing characteristics and Identifying details between the questioned and
the standard signatures ELMO S. ABAD, such as in:

1. Structural formation of the elements of the signatures

2. Proportion characteristics

3. Movement impulses

4. Direction of strokes

5. Manner of execution which is free, spontaneous and coordinated.

CONCLUSION: The questioned and the standard signatures ELMO S. ABAD were written by one
and the same person.

The aforesaid documentary and testimonial evidence, as well as the above report of the NBI, have clearly proved
that respondent Abad is still practicing law despite the decision of this Court of March 28, 1983.

Moreover, the Investigator, thru the Office of the Court Administrator, requested the Metro Manila courts to inform
said Office if a certain Atty. Elmo Abad is appearing or has appeared in their courts. In response to said query, the
Branch Clerk of Court, Branch XCIV, Quezon City sent to the undersigned certified xerox copies of the following
that showed that Elmo Abad is appearing in Civil Case No. 36501: **

Certifie
d True

Xerox
Copies
of

Court
Record
filed

For &
Wh signed
om by
Elmo

C Title C as Abad
a o Cou
s u nsel
e r
t
N
o
.

3 MerianE R For 1.
6 stimada T Def Motion
5 C end for
0 ant
1

vs. May N & reconsi


N. Avila C Thir deration
J d
R Part
y

B Plai dated
r ntiff Aug.
. 29,
X
C
I
V

Q 1983
. signed
C by
.

Elmo
Abad

2.
Transcri
pt of

hearing
of

above
motion
in

the
morning

(9:00
A.M.)
on
Septem
ber 22,

1983
shows
his

appear
ance for

said
party.

3.
Minutes
of said

hearing
signed

by Elmo
Abad

There was likewise received a certification dated May 9, 1984 from the Branch Clerk of Court of the Regional
Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Pasig, Branch CLIII, stating that Elmo Abad y Sanchez is appearing
before said court as accused in Criminal Case No. 50651, *** entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Atty. Elmo
Abad y Sanchez" for Qualified Theft (Carnapping).

The actuations of respondent as shown from the foregoing constitute contempt of court that should be punished
more severely considering his temerity in still continuing the practice of law despite the decision of March 28,
1983.

It is thus respectfully recommended that respondent be:

a. imposed a fine of P2,000.00 payable within ten (10) days from receipt of this resolution or an
imprisonment of twenty (20) days in case of non-payment thereof, with warning of drastic
disciplinary action of imprisonment in case of any further practice of law after receipt of this
resolution; and

b. debarred from admission to the Philippine Bar until such time that the Court finds him fit to
become such a member.

It is further recommended that a circular be issued to all courts in the Philippines through the Office of the Court
Administrator that respondent Elmo S. Abad has not been admitted to the Philippine Bar, and is therefore not
authorized to practice law.

Respectfully submitted:

(SGD.) GLORIA C. PARAS


Clerk of Court

Respondent fined P2,000.00.


[G.R. No. 109149. December 21, 1999]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. LEONCIO SANTOCILDES, JR. y SIGA-


AN, accused-appellant.

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

Where an accused was not duly represented by a member of the Philippine Bar during trial, the
judgment should be set aside and the case remanded to the trial court for a new trial. A person who
misrepresents himself as a lawyer shall be held liable for indirect contempt of court.
Subject of the present appeal is the decision dated October 29, 1992, of the Regional Trial Court of
Iloilo City, Branch 33, convicting accused-appellant of the crime of rape, sentencing him to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua, and ordering him to pay the offended party the amount of P50,000.00 and to pay the
costs.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
On February 17, 1992, appellant was charged with the crime of rape [1] of a girl less than nine (9) years
old, committed on December 28, 1991, in the town of Barangay San Luis, San Joaquin, Iloilo.
Upon arraignment, appellant entered a plea of not guilty. Trial ensued and the prosecution presented as
its witnesses the victim, her mother, her six (6) year-old playmate, and the medico-legal officer who
examined the victim.
For the defense, appellant presented one German Toriales and himself. Appellant denied committing
the rape and claimed that he merely tried to stop the two girls, the victim and her playmate, from quarreling.
On October 29, 1992, the trial court rendered a decision [2] finding appellant guilty as charged. The
dispositive portion of the decision states:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and
sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua together its accessory penalty. The accused is
ordered to pay the amount of P50,000.00 to the complainant and another amount for costs, without
subsidiary penalty in case of failure to pay the civil liability and the cost.

If qualified under Art. 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 6127, as amended, and he has
agreed in writing to abide by the same rules imposed upon convicted prisoners, he shall be credited with the
full duration of his preventive imprisonment; otherwise, he shall only be credited with 4/5 of the same.

SO ORDERED.

Hence, appellant duly filed a Notice of Appeal. [3] In his brief,[4] appellant made the following assignment
of errors:

I. THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN FINDING THAT THE
ACCUSED IS GUILTY OF RAPE INSPITE OF CONFLICTING TESTIMONIES OF THE PRIVATE
COMPLAINANT AND HER WITNESSES ON MATERIAL POINTS.
II. THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT WAS DEPRIVED THOUGH NO FAULT OF HIS OWN TO BE
DEFENDED BY A PERSON AUTHORIZED TO PRACTICE LAW AMOUNTING TO DENIAL OF DUE
PROCESS.

Considering the importance of the constitutional right to counsel, we shall now first resolve the issue of
proper representation by a member of the bar raised by appellant.
Appellant contends that he was represented during trial by a person named Gualberto C. Ompong, who
for all intents and purposes acted as his counsel and even conducted the direct examination and cross-
examinations of the witnesses. On appeal, however, appellant secured the services of a new lawyer, Atty.
Igmedio S. Prado, Jr., who discovered that Gualberto C. Ompong is actually not a member of the
bar. Further verification with the Office of the Bar Confidant confirmed this fact. [5] Appellant therefore argues
that his deprivation of the right to counsel should necessarily result in his acquittal of the crime charged.
The Office of the Solicitor General, on the other hand, maintains that notwithstanding the fact that
appellants counsel during trial was not a member of the bar, appellant was afforded due process since he
has been given an opportunity to be heard and the records reveal that said person presented the evidence
for the defense with the ability of a seasoned lawyer and in general handled the case of appellant in a
professional and skillful manner. However, the right of the accused to be heard by himself and his counsel,
in our view, goes much deeper than the question of ability or skill. It lies at the heart of our adversarial
system of justice. Where the interplay of basic rights of the individual may collide with the awesome forces
of the state, we need a professional learned in the law as well as ethically committed to defend the accused
by all means fair and reasonable.
On the matter of proper representation by a member of the bar, we had occasion to resolve a similar
issue in the case of Delgado v. Court of Appeals.[6] In Delgado, petitioner and two others were convicted by
the trial court of the crime of estafa thru falsification of public and/or official documents. One accused did not
appeal. Petitioner Delgado and her remaining co-accused appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed
petitioners conviction but acquitted her co-accused. After entry of judgment, petitioner discovered that her
lawyer was not a member of the bar and moved to set aside the entry of judgment. The Court of Appeals
denied petitioners motion, hence, she filed a petition for certiorari with this Court. The Court set aside the
assailed judgment and remanded the case to the trial court for a new trial, explaining that -

This is so because an accused person is entitled to be represented by a member of the bar in a criminal
case filed against her before the Regional Trial Court. Unless she is represented by a lawyer, there is great
danger that any defense presented in her behalf will be inadequate considering the legal perquisites and
skills needed in the court proceedings. This would certainly be a denial of due process.[7]

Indeed, the right to counsel is of such primordial importance that even if an accused was represented
by three successive counsels from the Public Attorneys Office, the Court has ordered the remand of a rape
case when it found that accused was given mere perfunctory representation by aforesaid counsels such that
appellant was not properly and effectively accorded the right to counsel. In the recent en banccase
of People v. Bermas, G.R. No. 120420, April 21, 1999, the Court, speaking through Justice Vitug,
admonished three (3) PAO lawyers for failing to genuinely protect the interests of the accused and for
having fallen much too short of their responsibility as officers of the court and as members of the Bar. Verily,
we can do no less where the accused was not even duly represented by a certified member of the
Philippine Bar, no matter how zealous his representation might have been.
The presence and participation of counsel in criminal proceedings should never be taken lightly. [8] Even
the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the science of the law, particularly in the rules of
procedure, and, without counsel, he may be convicted not because he is guilty but because he does not
know how to establish his innocence. [9] The right of an accused to counsel is guaranteed to minimize the
imbalance in the adversarial system where the accused is pitted against the awesome prosecutory
machinery of the State.[10] Such a right proceeds from the fundamental principle of due process which
basically means that a person must be heard before being condemned. The due process requirement is a
part of a persons basic rights; it is not a mere formality that may be dispensed with or performed
perfunctorily.[11]
The right to counsel of an accused is enshrined in no less than Article III, Sections 12 and 14 (2) of the
1987 Constitution. This constitutional mandate is reflected in Section 1 of Rule 115 of the 1985 Rules of
Criminal Procedure which declares the right of the accused at the trial to be present in person and by
counsel at every stage of the proceedings from the arraignment to the promulgation of judgment.In turn,
Section 5 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution vests the power to promulgate rules concerning the
admission to the practice of law to the Supreme Court. Section 1 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court explicitly
states who are entitled to practice law in the Philippines, and Section 2 thereof clearly provides for the
requirements for all applicants for admission to the bar. Jurisprudence has also held that the right to practice
law is not a natural or constitutional right but is in the nature of a privilege or franchise. It is limited to
persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The right does not
only presuppose in its possessor integrity, legal standing and attainment, but also the exercise of a special
privilege, highly personal and partaking of the nature of a public trust. [12]Indeed, so strict is the regulation of
the practice of law that in Beltran, Jr. v. Abad,[13] a Bar candidate who has already successfully hurdled the
Bar examinations but has not yet taken his oath and signed the roll of attorneys, and who was caught in the
unauthorized practice of law was held in contempt of court. Under Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of
Court, a person who undertakes the unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt of court for
assuming to be an attorney and acting as such without authority.
WHEREFORE, the assailed judgment is SET ASIDE, and the case is hereby REMANDED to the trial
court for new trial.
With respect to the unauthorized practice of law by the person named Gualberto C. Ompong in
connection with this case, the local Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines of Iloilo City is
DIRECTED to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation regarding this matter and to report its
recommendations to the Court within ninety (90) days from notice of this order. Let all concerned parties,
including the Office of the Bar Confidant, be each furnished a copy of this Decision for their appropriate
action.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
REY J. VARGAS AND EDUARDO A.
PANES, JR.,
Complainants,

- versus -

ATTY. MICHAEL A. IGNES, ATTY.


Respondents.

RESOLUTION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before the Court is a petition for review of Resolution No. XVIII-2008-335 [1] passed on July 17, 2008 by the
Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in CBD Case No. 07-1953. The IBP Board
of Governors dismissed the disbarment case filed by the complainants against the respondents.

The facts and proceedings antecedent to this case are as follows:

Koronadal Water District (KWD), a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), hired
respondent Atty. Michael A. Ignes as private legal counsel for one (1) year effective April 17, 2006.[2] The
Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and the Commission on Audit (COA) gave their
consent to the employment of Atty. Ignes.[3] However, controversy later erupted when two (2) different
groups, herein referred to as the Dela Pea board and Yaphockun board, laid claim as the legitimate Board of
Directors of KWD.

On December 28, 2006, the members of the Dela Pea board filed Civil Case No. 1793 [4] for
Injunction and Damages, seeking to annul the appointment of two (2) directors, Joselito T. Reyes and Carlito
Y. Uy, who will allegedly connive with Director Allan D. Yaphockun whose hostility to the present Board of
Directors, the Dela Pea board, is supposedly of public knowledge.

On January 18, 2007, the Dela Pea board also adopted Resolution No. 009 [5] appointing respondents Atty.
Rodolfo U. Viajar, Jr. and Atty. Leonard Buentipo Mann as private collaborating counsels for all cases of
KWD and its Board of Directors, under the direct supervision and control of Atty. Ignes.

Subsequently, on February 9, 2007, Attys. Ignes, Viajar, Jr. and Mann filed SCA Case No. 50-24 for Indirect
Contempt of Court[6] entitled Koronadal Water District (KWD), represented herein by its General Manager,
Eleanor Pimentel-Gomba v. Efren V. Cabucay, et al. On February 19, 2007, they also filed Civil Case No.
1799 for Injunction and Damages[7] entitled Koronadal Water District (KWD), represented herein by its
General Manager, & Eleanor Pimentel-Gomba v. Rey J. Vargas. On March 9, 2007, KWD and Eleanor
Pimentel-Gomba filed a supplemental complaint[8] in Civil Case No. 1799.

Meanwhile, in Contract Review No. 079 [9] dated February 16, 2007, the OGCC had approved the
retainership contract of Atty. Benjamin B. Cuanan as new legal counsel of KWD and stated that the
retainership contract of Atty. Ignes had expired on January 14, 2007.

In its letter[10] dated March 2, 2007, the OGCC also addressed Eleanor P. Gombas insistence that the
retainership contract of Atty. Ignes will expire on April 17, 2007. The OGCC stated that as stipulated, the
KWD or OGCC may terminate the contract anytime without need of judicial action; that OGCCs grant of
authority to private counsels is a privilege withdrawable under justifiable circumstances; and that the
termination of Atty. Igness contract was justified by the fact that the Local Water Utilities Administration had
confirmed the Yaphockun board as the new Board of Directors of KWD and that said board had terminated
Atty. Igness services and requested to hire another counsel.

Alleging that respondents acted as counsel for KWD without legal authority, complainants filed a disbarment
complaint[11] against the respondents before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), docketed as CBD
Case No. 07-1953. Complainants alleged that respondents filed SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No.
1799 as counsels of KWD without legal authority. They likewise stated in their position paper [12] that Atty.
Ignes continued representing KWD even after the OGCC had confirmed the expiration of Atty. Igness
contract in its April 4, 2007 manifestation/motion [13] in Civil Case No. 1796-25 entitled Koronadal Water
District (KWD), represented herein by its General Manager, Eleanor Pimentel Gomba v. Supreme
Investigative and Security Agency, represented by its Manager Efren Y. Cabucay.

In his defense,[14] Atty. Mann stated that he and his fellow respondents can validly represent KWD until April
17, 2007 since Atty. Ignes was not notified of his contracts pre-termination. Atty. Mann also stated that he
stopped representing KWD after April 17, 2007 in deference to the OGCCs stand. Attys. Ignes, Viajar, Jr.
and Nadua echoed Atty. Manns defense.[15]

On March 10, 2008, complainants filed a manifestation [16] before the IBP with the following attachments: (1)
the transcript of stenographic notes taken on January 28, 2008 in Civil Case No. 1799, and (2) the notice of
appeal dated February 28, 2008 of the January 7, 2008 Order dismissing Civil Case No. 1799. Aforesaid
transcript showed that Atty. Ignes appeared as counsel of KWD and Ms. Gomba. He also signed the notice
of appeal.

In his report and recommendation,[17] the Investigating Commissioner recommended that the charge against
Atty. Ignes be dismissed for lack of merit. The Investigating Commissioner held that Atty. Ignes had valid
authority as counsel of KWD for one (1) year, from April 2006 to April 2007, and he was unaware of the pre-
termination of his contract when he filed pleadings in SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1799 in
February and March 2007.

As to Attys. Viajar, Jr., Mann and Nadua, the Investigating Commissioner recommended that they be
fined P5,000 each for appearing as attorneys for a party without authority to do so, per Santayana v.
Alampay.[18] The Investigating Commissioner found that they failed to secure the conformity of the OGCC
and COA to their engagement as collaborating counsels for KWD.

As aforesaid, the IBP Board of Governors reversed the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner
and dismissed the case for lack of merit.

Hence, the present petition.

Complainants contend that the IBP Board of Governors erred in dismissing the case because
respondents had no authority from the OGCC to file the complaints and appear as counsels of KWD in Civil
Case No. 1799, SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1796-25. Complainants point out that the
retainership contract of Atty. Ignes had expired on January 14, 2007; that the Notice of Appeal filed by Atty.
Ignes, et al. in Civil Case No. 1799 was denied per Order dated April 8, 2008 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) for being filed by one not duly authorized by law; and that the authority of Attys. Viajar, Jr. and Mann
as collaborating counsels is infirm since Resolution No. 009 of the Dela Pea board lacks the conformity of
the OGCC. As a consequence, according to complainants, respondents are liable for willfully appearing as
attorneys for a party to a case without authority to do so.
In his comment, Atty. Ignes admits that their authority to represent KWD had expired on April 17, 2007, but
he and his fellow respondents stopped representing KWD after that date. He submits that they are not guilty
of appearing as counsels without authority. In their comment, Attys. Viajar, Jr. and Nadua propound similar
arguments. They also say that their fees were paid from private funds of the members of the Dela Pea
board and KWD personnel who might need legal representation, not from the public coffers of KWD. In his
own comment, Atty. Mann submits similar arguments.

After a careful study of the case and the parties submissions, we find respondents administratively liable.

At the outset, we note that the parties do not dispute the need for OGCC and COA conformity if a GOCC
hires private lawyers. Nonetheless, we shall briefly recall the legal basis of this rule. Under Section 10,
Chapter 3, Title III, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, it is the OGCC which shall act as the
principal law office of all GOCCs. And Section 3 of Memorandum Circular No. 9,[19] issued by President
Estrada on August 27, 1998, enjoins GOCCs to refrain from hiring private lawyers or law firms to handle
their cases and legal matters. But the same Section 3 provides that in exceptional cases, the written
conformity and acquiescence of the Solicitor General or the Government Corporate Counsel, as the case
may be, and the written concurrence of the COA shall first be secured before the hiring or employment of a
private lawyer or law firm. In Phividec Industrial Authority v. Capitol Steel Corporation,[20] we listed three (3)
indispensable conditions before a GOCC can hire a private lawyer: (1) private counsel can only be hired in
exceptional cases; (2) the GOCC must first secure the written conformity and acquiescence of the Solicitor
General or the Government Corporate Counsel, as the case may be; and (3) the written concurrence of the
COA must also be secured.

In the case of respondents, do they have valid authority to appear as counsels of KWD?

We find that Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann had no valid authority to appear as collaborating counsels of
KWD in SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1799. Nothing in the records shows that Atty. Nadua was
engaged by KWD as collaborating counsel. While the 4th Whereas Clause of Resolution No. 009 partly
states that he and Atty. Ignes presently stand as KWD legal counsels, there is no proof that the OGCC and
COA approved Atty. Naduas engagement as legal counsel or collaborating counsel. Insofar as Attys. Viajar,
Jr. and Mann are concerned, their appointment as collaborating counsels of KWD under Resolution No. 009
has no approval from the OGCC and COA.

Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann are in the same situation as the private counsel of Phividec Industrial
Authority in Phividec. In that case, we also ruled that said private counsel of Phividec Industrial Authority, a
GOCC, had no authority to file the expropriation case in Phividecs behalf considering that the requirements
set by Memorandum Circular No. 9 were not complied with. [21] Thus, Resolution No. 009 did not grant
authority to Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann to act as collaborating counsels of KWD. That Atty. Ignes was
not notified of the pre-termination of his own retainership contract cannot validate an inexistent authority of
Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann as collaborating counsels.

In the case of Atty. Ignes, he also appeared as counsel of KWD without authority, after his authority as its
counsel had expired. True, the OGCC and COA approved his retainership contract for one (1) year
effective April 17, 2006. But even if we assume as true that he was not notified of the pre-termination of his
contract, the records still disprove his claim that he stopped representing KWD after April 17, 2007.

Atty. Ignes offered no rebuttal to the verified manifestation of complainants filed with the IBP on March 10,
2008. Attached therein was the transcript of stenographic notes [22]in Civil Case No. 1799 taken on January
28, 2008 when Atty. Ignes argued the extremely urgent motion for the immediate return of the facilities of
the KWD to the KWD Arellano Office. The RTC was compelled to ask him why he seeks the return
of KWD properties if he filed the motion as counsel of Ms. Gomba. When the RTC noted that KWD does not
appear to be a party to the motion, Atty. Ignes said that KWD is represented by Ms. Gomba per the caption
of the case. Atty. Ignes also manifested that they will file a motion for reconsideration of the orders
dismissing Civil Case No. 1799 and Civil Case No. 1793. The RTC ruled that it will not accept any motion for
reconsideration in behalf of KWD unless he is authorized by the OGCC, but Atty. Ignes later filed a notice of
appeal[23] dated February 28, 2008, in Civil Case No. 1799. As the notice of appeal signed by Atty. Ignes
was filed by one (1) not duly authorized by law, the RTC, in its Order [24] dated April 8, 2008, denied due
course to said notice of appeal.

As we see it, Atty. Ignes portrayed that his appearance on January 28, 2008 was merely as counsel of Ms.
Gomba. He indicted himself, however, when he said that Ms. Gomba represents KWD per the case title. In
fact, the extremely urgent motion sought the return of the facilities of KWD to its Arellano Office. Clearly,
Atty. Ignes filed and argued a motion with the interest of KWD in mind. The notice of appeal in Civil Case
No. 1799 further validates that Atty. Ignes still appeared as counsel of KWD after his authority as counsel
had expired. This fact was not lost on the RTC in denying due course to the notice of appeal.

Now did respondents willfully appear as counsels of KWD without authority?

The following circumstances convince us that, indeed, respondents willfully and deliberately appeared as
counsels of KWD without authority. One, respondents have admitted the existence of Memorandum Circular
No. 9 and professed that they are aware of our ruling in Phividec.[25] Thus, we entertain no doubt that they
have full grasp of our ruling therein that there are indispensable conditions before a GOCC can hire private
counsel and that for non-compliance with the requirements set by Memorandum Circular No. 9, the private
counsel would have no authority to file a case in behalf of a GOCC. Still, respondents acted as counsels of
KWD without complying with what the rule requires. They signed pleadings as counsels of KWD. They
presented themselves voluntarily, on their own volition, as counsels of KWD even if they had no valid
authority to do so.

Two, despite the question on respondents authority as counsels of KWD which question was actually raised
earlier in Civil Case No. 1799 by virtue of an urgent motion to disqualify KWDs counsels [26] dated February
21, 2007 and during the hearing on February 23, 2007[27] respondents still filed the supplemental complaint
in the case on March 9, 2007. And despite the pendency of this case before the IBP, Atty. Ignes had to be
reminded by the RTC that he needs OGCC authority to file an intended motion for reconsideration in behalf
of KWD.

With the grain of evidence before us, we do not believe that respondents are innocent of the charge even if
they insist that the professional fees of Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann, as collaborating counsels, were
paid not from the public coffers of KWD. To be sure, the facts were clear that they appeared as counsels of
KWD without authority, and not merely as counsels of the members of the Dela Pea board and KWD
personnel in their private suits.

Consequently, for respondents willful appearance as counsels of KWD without authority to do so, there is a
valid ground to impose disciplinary action against them. Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a
member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any
deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take
before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for
corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so.

Disbarment, however, is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power to disbar
must always be exercised with great caution, and should be imposed only for the most imperative reasons
and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of
the court and member of the bar.Accordingly, disbarment should not be decreed where any punishment less
severe such as a reprimand, suspension or fine, would accomplish the end desired.[28] In Santayana,[29] we
imposed a fine of P5,000 on the respondent for willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case
without authority to do so. The respondent therein also appeared as private counsel of the National
Electrification Administration, a GOCC, without any approval from the OGCC and COA.

Conformably with Santayana, we impose a fine of P5,000 on each respondent.

On another matter, we note that respondents stopped short of fully narrating what had happened after the
RTC issued four (4) orders on March 24, 2007 and on April 13, 2007 in Civil Case No. 1799.[30] As willingly
revealed by complainants, all four (4) orders were nullified by the Court of Appeals. [31] We are compelled to
issue a reminder that our Code of Professional Responsibility requires lawyers, like respondents, to always
show candor and good faith to the courts.[32]

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution No. XVIII-2008-335 passed on July 17,
2008 by the IBP Board of Governors in CBD Case No. 07-1953 isREVERSED and SET ASIDE.

Respondents Attys. Michael A. Ignes, Leonard Buentipo Mann, Rodolfo U. Viajar, Jr., and John Rangal D.
Nadua are found GUILTY of willfully appearing as attorneys for a party to a case without authority to do so
and FINED P5,000 each, payable to this Court within ten (10) days from notice of this Resolution. They
are STERNLY WARNED that a similar offense in the future will be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to respondents personal records in the Office of the Bar Confidant.

SO ORDERED.

Canon 10

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

CBD Case No. 176 January 20, 1995

SALLY D. BONGALONTA, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. PABLITO M. CASTILLO and ALFONSO M. MARTIJA, respondents.

RESOLUTION

MELO, J.:

In a sworn letter-complaint dated February 15, 1995, addressed to the Commission on Bar Discipline, National
Grievance Investigation Office, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, complainant Sally Bongalonta charged Pablito
M. Castillo and Alfonso M. Martija, members of the Philippine Bar, with unjust and unethical conduct, to wit:
representing conflicting interests and abetting a scheme to frustrate the execution or satisfaction of a judgment
which complainant might obtain.

The letter-complaint stated that complainant filed with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Criminal Case No. 7635-
55, for estafa, against the Sps. Luisa and SolomerAbuel. She also filed, a separate civil action Civil Case No.
56934, where she was able to obtain a writ of preliminary attachment and by virtue thereof, a piece of real
property situated in Pasig, Rizal and registered in the name of the Sps. Abuel under TCT No. 38374 was
attached. Atty. Pablito Castillo was the counsel of the Sps. Abuel in the aforesaid criminal and civil cases.

During the pendency of these cases, one Gregorio Lantin filed civil Case No. 58650 for collection of a sum of
money based on a promissory note, also with the Pasig Regional Trial Court, against the Sps. Abuel. In the said
case Gregorio Lantin was represented by Atty. Alfonso Martija. In this case, the Sps. Abuelwere declared in
default for their failure to file the necessary responsive pleading and evidence ex-parte was received against
them followed by a judgment by default rendered in favor of Gregorio Lantin. A writ of execution was, in due time,
issued and the same property previously attached by complainant was levied upon.

It is further alleged that in all the pleadings filed in these three (3) aforementioned cases, Atty. Pablito Castillo and
Atty. Alfonso Martija placed the same address, the same PTR and the same IBP receipt number to wit"
Permanent Light Center, No. 7, 21st Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City, PTR No. 629411 dated 11-5-89 IBP No.
246722 dated 1-12-88.

Thus, complainant concluded that civil Case No. 58650 filed by Gregorio Lantin was merely a part of the scheme
of the Sps. Abuel to frustrate the satisfaction of the money judgment which complainant might obtain in Civil Case
No. 56934.

After hearing, the IBP Board of Governors issued it Resolution with the following findings and recommendations:

Among the several documentary exhibits submitted by Bongalonta and attached to the records is
a xerox copy of TCT No. 38374, which Bongalonta and the respondents admitted to be a faithful
reproduction of the original. And it clearly appears under the Memorandum of Encumbrances on
aid TCT that the Notice of Levy in favor of Bongalonta and her husband was registered and
annotated in said title of February 7, 1989, whereas, that in favor of Gregorio Lantin, on October
18, 1989. Needless to state, the notice of levy in favor of Bongalonta and her husband is a
superior lien on the said registered property of the Abuel spouses over that of Gregorio Lantin.

Consequently, the charge against the two respondents (i.e. representing conflicting interests and
abetting a scheme to frustrate the execution or satisfaction of a judgment which Bongalonta and
her husband might obtain against the Abuel spouses) has no leg to stand on.

However, as to the fact that indeed the two respondents placed in their appearances and in their
pleadings the same IBP No. "246722 dated
1-12-88", respondent Atty. Pablito M. Castillo deserves to be SUSPENDED for using, apparently
thru his negligence, the IBP official receipt number of respondent Atty. Alfonso M. Martija.
According to the records of the IBP National Office, Atty. Castillo paid P1,040.00 as his delinquent
and current membership dues, on February 20, 1990, under IBP O.R. No. 2900538, after
Bongalonta filed her complaint with the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline.

The explanation of Atty. Castillo's Cashier-Secretary by the name of Ester Fraginal who alleged in
her affidavit dated March 4, 1993, that it was all her fault in placing the IBP official receipt number
pertaining to Atty. Alfonso M. Martija in the appearance and pleadings Atty. Castillo and in failing
to pay in due time the IBP membership dues of her employer, deserves scant consideration, for it
is the bounded duty and obligation of every lawyer to see to it that he pays his IBP membership
dues on time, especially when he practices before the courts, as required by the Supreme Court.

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that Atty. Pablito M. Castillo be SUSPENDED from


the practice of law for a period of six (6) months for using the IBP Official Receipt No. of his co-
respondent Atty. Alfonso M. Martija.

The complaint against Atty. Martija is hereby DISMISSED for lack of evidence. (pp. 2-4,
Resolution)

The Court agrees with the foregoing findings and recommendations. It is well to stress again that the practice of
law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the State on those who show that they possess, and continue to
possess, the qualifications required by law for the conferment of such privilege. One of these requirements is the
observance of honesty and candor. Courts are entitled to expect only complete candor and honesty from the
lawyers appearing and pleading before them. A lawyer, on the other hand, has the fundamental duty to satisfy
that expectation. for this reason, he is required to swear to do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
court.

WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Pablito M. Castillo guilty committing a falsehood in violation of his
lawyer's oath and of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND him from the
practice of law for a period of six (6) months, with a warning that commission of the same or similar offense in the
future will result in the imposition of a more severe penalty. A copy of the Resolution shall be spread on the
personal record of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 2152 April 19, 1991
TEODORO I. CHAVEZ, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. ESCOLASTICO R. VIOLA, respondent.

RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
In a letter-complaint dated 9 May 1990 1 addressed to this Court, complainant Teodoro I. Chavez
prayed for the disbarment of or other appropriate penalty upon respondent Escolastico R. Viola, a
member of the Philippine Bar, for gross misconduct or malpractice.
The letter-complaint stated that respondent Viola was engaged by FelicidadAlvendia, Jesus Alvendia
and Jesus Alvendia, Jr. as their counsel in connection with Civil Case No. 3330-M 2 filed sometime in
1966 with the then Court of First Instance (CFI) of Bulacan against Teodoro Chavez (herein
complainant), Lucia dela Cruz, Alpondela Cruz and Eugenio dela Cruz. In the complaint, 3 respondent
alleged, on behalf of the Alvendias (plaintiffs therein), that FelicidadAlvendia and Jesus Alvendia were
the holders of Foreshore Lease Applications Nos. V-1284 and 2807 covering portions of public land
situated in Barrio Baluarte, Municipality of Bulacan, Province of Bulacan, and that lease contracts 4 had
been executed in their favor by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Respondent
prayed in the complaint that his clients (the Alvendias) be declared bona fide lessees of the land in
controversy . . . . 5In an Order dated 2 October 1969, 6 the CFI dismissed the complaint filed in Civil
Case No. 3330-M for non-appearance of the Alvendias.
On 18 June 1966, Congress passed Republic Act No. 470, which provides:
SECTION 1. The parcel of public domain comprising a portion of the foreshore fronting the Manila
Bay along the Province of Bulacan . . . is hereby withdrawn from sale or settlement and reserved for
communal fishing ground purposes which shall hereafter be called the Bulacan Fishing Reservation. 7
It appears that the foreshore land being occupied by the Alvendias was part of the communal fishing
ground reserved by Republic Act No. 470.
On 8 November 1977, respondent filed, on behalf of the Alvendias, Amended Application for Original
Registration of Title 8 in Land Registration Case (LRC) No. 3711-M with the then CFI of Bulacan
praying that the land covered by Psu-141243, Amd. 2 9 be registered in the name of the spouses
Alvendias. Respondent alleged in the Amended Application that the applicant Alvendias were the
owners of the land, they having acquired the same from one TeresitaVistan by sale sometime in 1929.
It is petitioners contention that respondent, in filing the Amended Application for Original Registration of
Title in LRC No. 3711-M stating that his clients were the owners of the property applied for despite his
full knowledge of the fact that his clients were mere lessees of the land in controversy as so described
in the complaint respondent had filed in Civil Case No. 3330-M, had willingly aided in and consented to
the pursuit, promotion and prosecution of a false and unlawful application for land registration, in
violation of his oath of office as a member of the Bar.
In his Answer, 10 respondent alleged that the Application for Original Registration of Title was originally
instituted by one Atty. Montesclaro, and when said lawyer withdrew his appearance therein, respondent
filed the Amended Application for Original Registration of Title; that he believed his clients had the right
to apply for the registration of the land; and that assuming his clients did not in fact have any such right,
the court where the Application for Original Registration of Title was filed had not yet passed upon it;
hence, this complaint for disbarment was filed prematurely.
Complainant filed a Reply to the Answer. 11

In a Resolution dated 29 October 1980, the Court resolved to refer the case to the Solicitor General for
investigation, report and recommendation.
On 11 March 1981, respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss 12 the complaint for disbarment. In said
Motion, he alleged for the second time that he was not the original lawyer who filed the application
in the land registration case, but a certain Atty. Montesclaro. Respondent further alleged:
. . . Your respondent, not content with just having conferred with Atty. Montesclaro when he took over,
even went to the extent of verifying from the Bureau of Lands if the application was proper. The Legal
Department of the Bureau of Lands assured your respondent that it was. He was informed that judicial
application for registration is one of the methods of acquiring such lands, said lands being alienable
and disposable. There are, however, other means of obtaining the said lands, but the applicants (with
Atty. Montesclaro) chose the present action for land registration.
Undersigned wishes to point out that he merely took over from the original lawyer when said counsel
withdrew his appearance. Your respondent, hence, was in good faith when he took over the land
registration case, subject matter of this present administrative investigation.
The Court, in a Resolution dated 8 June 1981, forwarded the Motion to Dismiss to the Solicitor General.
In a Report 13
dated 28 February 1990, the Solicitor General stated that:
In his answer to the letter complaint, respondent avers that his clients, i.e., the Alvendias, have the
right to apply for registration of the land in question.
However, respondent does not deny that he prepared and signed the Amended Application for Original
Registration of Title in Land Reg. Case No. 3711-M wherein he alleged that the Alvendias are the
owners of the land covered by Psu 141243, Amd. 2. Respondent does not offer any explanation at all
as to why his submission in said application was diametrically opposite to his allegations in the
complaint in the earlier Civil Case No. 3330-M that the Alvendias were permittees and later the lessees
of the same property.
It is evident, then, that respondent has knowingly made a false statement to the court in the land
registration case. As proven by complaint, respondent has willingly aided and consented in the filing
and prosecution of a groundless, if not false, application for land registration, in violation of his oath as
a lawyer and member of the bar. 14
It is well to stress again that the practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the State on
those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications required by law for the
conferment of such privilege. 15 One of those requirements is the observance of honesty and candor. It
cannot be gainsaid that candidness, especially towards the courts, is essential for the expeditious
administration of justice. Courts are entitled to expect only complete candor and honesty from the
lawyers appearing and pleading before them. A lawyer, on the other hand, has the fundamental duty to
satisfy that expectation. Otherwise, the administration of justice would gravely suffer if indeed it could
proceed at all. It is essential that lawyers bear in mind at all times that their first duty is not to their
clients but rather to the courts, that they are above all officers of court sworn to assist the courts in
rendering justice to all and sundry, and only secondarily are they advocates of the exclusive interests of
their clients. For this reason, he is required to swear to do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any
in court. 16
In the instant case, respondent Viola alleged in an earlier pleading that his clients were merely lessees
of the property involved. In his later pleading, he stated that the very same clients were owners of the
same property. One of these pleadings must have been false; it matters not which one. What does
matter is that respondent, who, as a member of the ancient and learned profession of the law, had
sworn to do no falsehood before the courts, did commit one. It was incumbent upon respondent to
explain how or why he committed no falsehood in pleading two (2) incompatible things; he offered no
explanation, other than that he had not originated but merely continued the registration proceedings
when he filed the Amended Application, and that he really believed his clients were entitled to apply for
registration of their rights. Respondents excuses ring very hollow; we agree with the Solicitor General
and the complainant that those excuses do not exculpate the respondent.
It is clear to the Court that respondent Viola violated his lawyers oath and as well Canon 22 of the
Canons of Professional Ethics which stated that [t]he conduct of the lawyer before the court and with
other lawyers should be characterized by candor and fairness (now Canon 10 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility prescribing that [a] lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the
courts). He has been deplorably lacking in the candor required of him as a member of the Bar and an
officer of the court. In his apparent zeal to secure the title to the property involved for his clients, he
disregarded his overriding duty to the court and to the law itself.
WHEREFORE, finding respondent Escolastico R. Viola guilty of committing a falsehood in violation of
his lawyers oath and of the Canons of Professional Ethics (now the Code of Professional
Responsibility), the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law for a period of
five (5) months, with a WARNING that commission of the same or similar offense in the future will result
in the imposition of a more severe penalty. A copy of this Resolution shall be spread on the personal
record of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 71177 February 29, 1988

ERECTORS, INC., petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION AND DANILO CRIS, respondents.

SARMIENTO, J.:

This case should not have reached this Tribunal. It should have, in fact, been terminated three years ago but for
the petitioner's counsels who had the temerity to cite a non-existent law with the obvious intention of delaying the
proceedings if not outrightly evading financial responsibility under the law. This actuation, indeed, is flagrant
dishonesty. We cannot let it pass.

But before we proceed, a recital of the background of the controversy is in order.

The private respondent, DaniloCris, a contract worker as Earthworks Engineer in Taif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
filed the case with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on February 27, 1984 for the
illegal termination of his contract of employment with the petitioner herein, Erectors, Inc. The petitioner, as a
defense, contended that the private respondent was estopped from questioning the legality of his termination as
he already voluntarily and freely received his termination pay. The POEA, on September 27,1984, rendered a
decision adverse to petitioner, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered ordering the respondents ERECTORS, INC. and SOCIETE
AUXILLAIRE D'ENTERPRISES (S.A.E.) jointly and severally, to pay the complainant, DANILO
CRIS the sum of SEVEN THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SIXTY SIX DOLLARS AND SIXTY SIX
CENTS ($ 7,166.6), or its equivalent in Philippine Currency at the time of actual payment,
representing the unpaid salaries for the unexpired term of complainant's contract. 1

The decision was received by the petitioner on October 25, 1984. Fifteen days later, or on November 9 of the
same year, the petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration with the respondent National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC). The motion which was treated as an appeal was dismissed by the NLRC "for having been
filed out of time." 2

The petitioner, through counsel, alleged that the respondent NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in
dismissing the case and affirmed that the motion for reconsideration or appeal was seasonably filed explaining
thus:

xxx xxxxxx
While it is true that between 25 October 1984 (date of receipt of the POEA decision) and 09
November 1984 (actual date of filing of petitioner's motion for reconsideration), there were
actually fifteen (15) calendar days, however, it can not be disputed that within said period there
were only ten (10) working days, and five (5) non-working or legal holidays, which were as
follows:

October 26, 1984--Saturday

October 27,1984--Sunday

November 1, 1984--All Saint's Day

November 3, 1984--Saturday

November 4,198--Sunday 3

xxx xxxxxx

In support of its contention, the petitioner cited two provisions allegedly of the 1984 POEA rules and procedures,
specifying Rule XXIV, sec. 1, and Rule XXV, sec. 2, thereof, which purportedly provide:

Rule XXV

xxx xxxxxx

Section 2. Finality of Decision, Order or Award all decisions, orders or award shall become
final after the lapse of ten (10) working days from receipt of a copy thereof by the parties and no
appeal has been perfected within same period.

RULE XXIV

Section 1. Motion for Reconsideration. The aggrieved party may within ten (10) working
days from receipt of the decision, order or resolution of the Administration, may file for a motion
for reconsideration; otherwise, the decision shall be final and executory (Emphasis supplied) 4

These cited rules do not exist. Nowhere in any law or rules relative to the POEA may the above provisions be
found.

The POEA was created only on May 1, 1982 by virtue of Executive Order No. 797. Pursuant to the said
Executive Order, the then Minister of Labor, Blas F. Ople promulgated on September 5, 1983 the POEA Rules
and Regulations on Overseas Employment which took effect on January 1, 1984. These 1984 Rules were
superseded on May 21, 1985 by the POEA Rules & Regulations.

For the reason that the petitioner's appeal with the NLRC was filed on November 9,1984, the 1984 Rules should
govern. And this was precisely what the petitioner insisted upon the POEA rules obtaining in 1984 must be
applied. 5 Yet therein, it is clear that the period for perfecting an appeal or a Motion for Reconsideration is ten (10)
calendar days. The pertinent rule on the matter is found in Book VII, Rule 5, of the 1984 Rules and Regulations on
Overseas Employment (POEA/MOLE) to wit:

Section 1. MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND/OR APPEAL. The aggrieved party may,
within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the decision, order or resolution file a motion for
reconsideration which shall specify in detail the particular errors and objections, otherwise the
decision shall be final and executory. Such motion for reconsideration shall be treated as an
appeal as provided in this Rule otherwise the same shall not be entertained.

The above rule is expressed in a language so simple and precise that there is no necessity to interpret it.

Moreover, as early as 1982, this Court, in the landmark case of Vir-Jen Shipping & Marine Services, Inc. vs.
NLRC6 construed the ten (10) day period for filing of appeals 7 from decisions of Labor Arbiters or compulsory
arbitrators as ten (10) calendar days, as well as the raison d' etre for the shorter period, thus:

xxx xxxxxx

...if only because We believe that it is precisely in the interest of labor that the law has
commanded that labor cases be promptly, if not peremptorily, disposed of. Long periods for any
acts to be done by the contending parties can be taken advantage of more by management than
by labor. Most labor claims are decided in their favor and management is generally the appellant.
Delay, in most instances, gives the employers more opportunity not only to prepare even
ingenious defense, what with well-paid talented lawyers they can afford, but even to wear out the
efforts and meager resources of the workers, to the point that not infrequently the latter either give
up or compromise for less than what is due them.

xxx xxxxxx

The POEA rule applicable in this case is precisely in consonance with the above ruling in that it expressed in no
uncertain terms that the period for appeal is ten (10) calendar days. For "not even the Secretary of Labor has the
power to amend or alter in any material sense whatever the law itself unequivocably specifies or fixes." 8

There is, thus, no doubt that the law mandates that the period for filing a motion for reconsideration or appeal
with the NLRC is ten (10) calendar days and not ten (10) working days.

It is, therefore, obvious that the counsels for the petitioner deliberately tried to mislead this Court if only to suit
their client's ends. On this regard, said counsels have much explaining to do.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition is hereby DISMISSED and the assailed Resolution of the
public respondent, dated December 28, 1984, AFFIRMED. The Temporary Restraining Order issued by this Court
on July 10, 1985 is hereby LIFTED. The counsels for the petitioner are also admonished for foisting a non-
existent rule with the warning that repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely. With
triple costs against the petitioner.

This Decision is IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 144412. November 18, 2003]

ALLIED BANKING CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and POTENCIANO L.


GALANIDA, respondents.

DECISION
CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review [1] assailing the Decision[2] of 27 April 2000 and the Resolution
of 8 August 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 51451. The Court of Appeals upheld the
Decision[3] of 18 September 1998 and the Resolution of 24 December 1998 of the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) in NLRC Case No. V-000180-98. The NLRC modified the Decision dated 23
December 1997 of Labor Arbiter Dominador A. Almirante (Labor Arbiter) in NLRC Case No. RAB VII-05-
0545-94 holding that Allied Banking Corporation (Allied Bank) illegally dismissed Potenciano L. Galanida
(Galanida). The NLRC awarded Galanida separation pay, backwages, moral and exemplary damages, and
other amounts totaling P1,264,933.33.

Antecedent Facts

For a background of this case, we quote in part from the Decision of the Court of Appeals:

Private respondent Potenciano Galanida was hired by petitioner Allied Banking Corporation on 11 January
1978 and rose from accountant-book(k)eeper to assistant manager in 1991. His appointment was covered
by a Notice of Personnel Action which provides as one of the conditions of employment the provision on
petitioners right to transfer employees:

REGULAR APPOINTMENT: xxx It is understood that the bank reserves the right to transfer or assign you to
other departments or branches of the bank as the need arises and in the interest of maintaining smooth and
uninterrupted service to the public.

Private respondent was promoted several times and was transferred to several branches as follows:

a) January, 1978 to March, 1982


Tagbilaran City Branch
b) April, 1982 to May, 1984
Lapulapu City Branch
c) June, 1984
Mandaue City Branch
d) July, 1984 to April, 1986
Tagbilaran City Branch
e) May, 1986 to May, 1987
Dumaguete City Branch
f) June, 1987 to August, 1987
Carbon Branch, Cebu City
g) September, 1987 to Sept. 1989
Lapulapu City Branch, Cebu
h) October, 1989 to Sept. 1992
Carbon Branch, Cebu City
i) October 1992 to Sept. 1994
Jakosalem Regional Branch,
Cebu City (Rollo, p. 47)

Effecting a rotation/movement of officers assigned in the Cebu homebase, petitioner listed respondent as
second in the order of priority of assistant managers to be assigned outside of Cebu City having been
stationed in Cebu for seven years already. Private respondent manifested his refusal to be transferred
to Bacolod City in a letter dated 19 April 1994 citing as reason parental obligations, expenses, and the
anguish that would result if he is away from his family. He then filed a complaint before the Labor Arbiter for
constructive dismissal.

Subsequently, petitioner bank informed private respondent (Rollo, p. 86) that he was to report to the
Tagbilaran City Branch effective 23 May 1994. Private respondent refused. In a letter dated 13 June 1994,
petitioner warned and required of private respondent as follows:

There is no discrimination in your transfer. In fact, among the officers mentioned, only you have refused the
new assignment citing difficulty of working away from your family as if the other officers concerned do not
suffer the same predicament. To exempt you from the officer transfer would result in favoritism in your favor
and discrimination as against the other officers concerned.

In furtherance of maintaining a smooth and uninterrupted service to the public, and in accordance with the
Banks order of priority of rotating its accountants places of assignments, you are well aware that Roberto
Isla, AM/Accountant, assigned in Cebu for more than ten (10) years, was, on February 14, 1994, reassigned
to Iligan City Branch and then to Cagayan de Oro City Branch on June 8, 1994. Hence, your objection on
the ground of your length of service is without merit.

xxx

As discussed, your refusal to follow instruction concerning your transfer and reassignment to Bacolod City
and to Tagbilaran City is penalized under Article XII of the Banks Employee Discipline Policy and Procedure
[which] provides:

XII Transfer and Reassignment


Refusal to follow instruction concerning transfers and reassignments.

First and subsequent offenses


The penalty may range from suspension to dismissal as determined by management. The employee shall
be required to comply with the order of transfer and reassignment, if the penalty is not termination of
employment.

In view of the foregoing, please explain in writing within three (3) days from receipt hereof why no
disciplinary action should be meted against you for your having refused to follow instructions concerning the
foregoing transfer and reassignment. xxx[4]

On 16 June 1994, Galanida replied that (w)hether the banks penalty for my refusal be Suspension or
Dismissal xxx it will all the more establish and fortify my complaint now pending at NLRC, RAB 7. [5] In the
same letter, he charged Allied Bank with discrimination and favoritism in ordering his transfer, thus:

xxx What I cannot decipher now under the headship of Mr. Olveda is managements discriminatory act of
transferring only the long staying accountants of Cebu in the guise of its exercise of management
prerogative when in truth and in fact, the ulterior motive is to accommodate some new officers who happen
to enjoy favorable connection with management. How can the bank ever justify the transfer of Melinda T.
Co, a new officer who had experienced being assigned outside of Cebu for more than a year only to
Tabunok Branch? If the purpose is for check and balance, is management implying that Melinda Co can
better carry out such function over Mr. Larry Sabelino, who is a seasoned and experienced accountant or
any of the Metro Cebu accountants for that matter? Isnt this act of management an obvious display of
favoritism? xxx[6]

On 5 October 1994, Galanida received an inter-office communication [7] (Memo) dated 8 September
1994 from Allied Banks Vice-President for Personnel, Mr. Leonso C. Pe. The Memo informed Galanida that
Allied Bank had terminated his services effective 1 September 1994. The reasons given for the dismissal
were: (1) Galanidas continued refusal to be transferred from the Jakosalem, Cebu City branch; and (2) his
refusal to report for work despite the denial of his application for additional vacation leave. The salient
portion of the Memo reads:

Therefore, your refusal to follow instruction concerning your transfer and reassignment to Bacolod City and
to Tagbilaran City is without any justifiable reason and constituted violations of Article XII of the Banks EDPP
xxx

In view of the foregoing, please be informed that the Bank has terminated your services effective
September 1, 1994 and considered whatever benefit, if any, that you are entitled as forfeited in accordance
with 04, V Administrative Penalties, page 6 of the Banks EDPP which provides as follows:

04. Dismissal.
Dismissal is a permanent separation for cause xxx
Notice of termination shall be issued by the Investigation Committee subject to the confirmation of the
President or his authorized representative as officer/employee who is terminated for cause shall not be
eligible to receive any benefit arising from her/his employment with the Bank or to termination pay.

It is understood that the termination of your service shall be without prejudice to whatever legal remedies
which the Bank may have already undertaken and/or will undertake against you.

Please be guided accordingly. (Emphasis supplied)[8]

The Ruling of the Labor Arbiter

After several hearings, the Labor Arbiter held that Allied Bank had abused its management prerogative
in ordering the transfer of Galanida to its Bacolod and Tagbilaran branches. In ruling that Galanidas refusal
to transfer did not amount to insubordination, the Labor Arbiter misquoted this Courts decision in Dosch v.
NLRC,[9] thus:

As a general rule, the right to transfer or reassign an employee is recognized as an employers exclusive
right and the prerogative of management (Abbott Laboratories vs. NLRC, 154 SCRA 713 [1987]).

The exercise of this right, is not however, absolute. It has certain limitations. Thus, in Helmut Dosch vs.
NLRC, et al. 123 SCRA 296 (1983), the Supreme Court, ruled:

While it may be true that the right to transfer or reassign an employee is an employers exclusive right and
the prerogative of management, such right is not absolute. The right of an employer to freely select or
discharge his employee is limited by the paramount police power xxx for the relations between capital and
labor are not merely contractual but impressed with public interest. xxx And neither capital nor labor shall
act oppressively against each other.

Refusal to obey a transfer order cannot be considered insubordination where employee cited reason for
said refusal, such (sic) as that of being away from the family.[10] (Underscoring supplied by the Labor Arbiter)

The Labor Arbiter reasoned that Galanidas transfer was inconvenient and prejudicial because Galanida
would have to incur additional expenses for board, lodging and travel. On the other hand, the Labor Arbiter
held that Allied Bank failed to show any business urgency that would justify the transfer.
The Labor Arbiter also gave credence to Galanidas claim that Allied Bank gave Ms. Co special
treatment. The Labor Arbiter stated that Allied Bank deliberately left out Ms. Cos name from the list of
accountants transferred to Cebu as contained in Allied Banks letter dated 13 June 1994. However, Mr.
RegidorOlveda, Allied Banks Vice President for Operations Accounting, testified that the bank transferred
Ms. Co to the Tabunok, Cebu branch within the first half of 1994.
Still, the Labor Arbiter declined to award Galanida back wages because he was not entirely free from
blame. Since another bank had already employed Galanida, the Labor Arbiter granted Galanida separation
pay in lieu of reinstatement. The dispositive portion of the Labor Arbiters Decision of 23 December
1997 provides:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering respondent Allied Banking
Corporation to pay complainant the aggregate total amount of Three Hundred Twenty Four Thousand Pesos
(P324,000.00) representing the following awards:

a) Separation pay for P272,000.00;


b) Quarter bonus for 1994 P16,000.00;
c) 13th month pay for 1994 P16,000.00;
d) Refund of contribution to Provident Fund - P20,000.00.

SO ORDERED.[11]

The Ruling of the NLRC

On appeal, the NLRC likewise ruled that Allied Bank terminated Galanida without just cause. The NLRC
agreed that the transfer order was unreasonable and unjustified, considering the family considerations
mentioned by Galanida. The NLRC characterized the transfer as a demotion since the Bacolod and
Tagbilaran branches were smaller than the Jakosalem branch, a regional office, and because the bank
wanted Galanida, an assistant manager, to replace an assistant accountant in the Tagbilaran branch. The
NLRC found unlawful discrimination since Allied Bank did not transfer several junior accountants
in Cebu. The NLRC also held that Allied Bank gave Ms. Co special treatment by assigning her to Cebu even
though she had worked for the bank for less than two years.
The NLRC ruled that Galanidas termination was illegal for lack of due process. The NLRC stated that
Allied Bank did not conduct any hearing. The NLRC declared that Allied Bank failed to send a termination
notice, as required by law for a valid termination. The Memo merely stated that Allied Bank would issue a
notice of termination, but the bank did not issue any notice.
The NLRC concluded that Allied Bank dismissed Galanida in bad faith, tantamount to an unfair labor
practice as the dismissal undermined Galanidas right to security of tenure and equal protection of the
laws. On these grounds, the NLRC promulgated its Decision of 18 September 1998, the relevant portion of
which states:

In this particular case, We view as impractical, unrealistic and no longer advantageous to both parties to
order reinstatement of the complainant. xxx For lack of sufficient basis, We deny the claim for 1994 quarter
bonus. Likewise, no attorneys fees is awarded as counsels for complainant-appellee are from the City
Prosecutors Office of Cebu.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Labor Arbiter dated December 23, 1997 is hereby
MODIFIED by increasing the award of separation pay and granting in addition thereto backwages, moral
and exemplary damages. The respondent-appellant, ALLIED BANKING CORPORATION, is thus ordered to
pay to herein complainant-appellee, POTENCIANO L. GALANIDA, the following amounts:

a) P336,000.00, representing separation pay


b) P833,600.00, representing backwages
c) P 5,333.23 representing proportional 1994 13th month pay
d) P 20,000.00 representing refund of Provident Fund Contribution
e) P 50,000.00 representing moral damages
f) P 20,000.00 representing exemplary damages
===========
P1,264,933.33 TOTAL AWARD

All other claims are dismissed for lack of basis. The other respondents are dropped for lack of sufficient
basis that they acted in excess of their corporate powers.

SO ORDERED.[12]

Allied Bank filed a motion for reconsideration which the NLRC denied in its Resolution of 24 December
1998.[13]
Dissatisfied, Allied Bank filed a petition for review questioning the Decision and Resolution of the NLRC
before the Court of Appeals.

The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Citing Dosch v. NLRC,[14] the Court of Appeals held that Galanidas refusal to comply with the transfer
orders did not warrant his dismissal. The appellate court ruled that the transfer from a regional office to the
smaller Bacolod or Tagbilaran branches was effectively a demotion. The appellate court agreed that Allied
Bank did not afford Galanida procedural due process because there was no hearing and no notice of
termination. The Memo merely stated that the bank would issue a notice of termination but there was no
such notice.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of the NLRC in its Decision of 27 April 2000, thus:

WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the petition is DISMISSED and the assailed Decision of public respondent
NLRC is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED. [15]

Allied Bank filed a motion for reconsideration which the appellate court denied in its Resolution of 8
August 2000.[16]
On 26 April 2001, Allied Bank appealed the appellate courts decision and resolution to the Supreme
Court. Allied Bank prayed that the Supreme Court: (1) issue a temporary restraining order or writ of
preliminary injunction ex parte to restrain the implementation or execution of the questioned Decision and
Resolution; (2) declare Galanidas termination as valid and legal; (3) set aside the Court of Appeals Decision
and Resolution; (4) make permanent the restraining order or preliminary injunction; (5) order Galanida to
pay the costs; and (6) order other equitable reliefs.

The Issues
Allied Bank raises the following issues:
1. WHETHER UNDER THE FACTS PRESENTED THERE IS LEGAL BASIS IN PETITIONERS
EXERCISE OF ITS MANAGEMENT PREROGATIVE.
2. WHETHER PRIVATE RESPONDENTS VIOLATIONS OF COMPANY RULES CONSTITUTE A
GROUND TO WARRANT THE PENALTY OF DISMISSAL.
3. WHETHER UNDER THE FACTS PRESENTED, THERE IS LEGAL BASIS TO HOLD THAT
ALLIED BANK AFFORDED PRIVATE RESPONDENT THE REQUIRED DUE PROCESS.
4. WHETHER UNDER THE FACTS, THERE IS LEGAL BASIS TO HOLD THAT PRIVATE
RESPONDENT CANNOT RECOVER ANY MONETARY AWARD.[17]
In sum, Allied Bank argues that the transfer of Galanida was a valid exercise of its management
prerogative. Allied Bank contends that Galanidas continued refusal to obey the transfer orders constituted
willful disobedience or insubordination, which is a just cause for termination under the Labor Code.
On the other hand, Galanida defended his right to refuse the transfer order. The memorandum for
Galanida filed with this Court, prepared by Atty. Loreto M. Durano, again misquotedthe Courts ruling
in Dosch v. NLRC, thus:

xxx His [Galanidas] refusal to transfer falls well within the ruling of the Supreme Court in Helmut Dosch vs.
NLRC, et. al., 123 SCRA 296 (1983) quoted as follows:

xxx

Refusal to obey a transfer order cannot be considered insubordination where employee cited reason for
said refusal, such as that of being away from the family.[18]

The Ruling of the Court

The petition is partly meritorious.

Preliminary Matter: Misquoting Decisions of the Supreme Court

The memorandum prepared by Atty. Durano and, worse, the assailed Decision of the Labor Arbiter,
both misquoted the Supreme Courts ruling in Dosch v. NLRC. The Court held inDosch:

We cannot agree to Northwests submission that petitioner was guilty of disobedience and insubordination
which respondent Commission sustained. The only piece of evidence on which Northwest bases the charge
of contumacious refusal is petitioners letter dated August 28, 1975 to R.C. Jenkins wherein petitioner
acknowledged receipt of the formers memorandum dated August 18, 1975, appreciated his promotion to
Director of International Sales but at the same time regretted that at this time for personal reasons and
reasons of my family, I am unable to accept the transfer from the Philippines and thereafter expressed his
preference to remain in his position, saying: I would, therefore, prefer to remain in my position of Manager-
Philippines until such time that my services in that capacity are no longer required by Northwest
Airlines. From this evidence, We cannot discern even the slightest hint of defiance, much less imply
insubordination on the part of petitioner.[19]

The phrase [r]efusal to obey a transfer order cannot be considered insubordination where employee
cited reason for said refusal, such as that of being away from the family does not appear anywhere in
the Dosch decision. Galanidas counsel lifted the erroneous phrase from one of the italicized lines in
the syllabus of Dosch found in the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA).
The syllabus of cases in official or unofficial reports of Supreme Court decisions or resolutions is not the
work of the Court, nor does it state this Courts decision. The syllabus is simply the work of the reporter who
gives his understanding of the decision. The reporter writes the syllabus for the convenience of lawyers in
reading the reports. A syllabus is not a part of the courts decision. [20] A counsel should not cite a syllabus in
place of the carefully considered text in the decision of the Court.
In the present case, Labor Arbiter Almirante and Atty. Durano began by quoting from Dosch, but
substituted a portion of the decision with a headnote from the SCRA syllabus, which they even
underscored. In short, they deliberately made the quote from the SCRA syllabus appear as the words of the
Supreme Court. We admonish them for what is at the least patent carelessness, if not an outright attempt to
mislead the parties and the courts taking cognizance of this case. Rule 10.02, Canon 10 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility mandates that a lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent the text of
a decision or authority. It is the duty of all officers of the court to cite the rulings and decisions of the
Supreme Court accurately.[21]

Whether Galanida was dismissed for just cause

We accord great weight and even finality to the factual findings of the Court of Appeals, particularly
when they affirm the findings of the NLRC or the lower courts. However, there are recognized exceptions to
this rule. These exceptions are: (1) when the findings are grounded on speculation, surmise and conjecture;
(2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of
discretion in the appreciation of facts; (4) when the factual findings of the trial and appellate courts are
conflicting; (5) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, has gone beyond the issues of the case
and such findings are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (6) when the judgment of
the appellate court is premised on a misapprehension of facts or when it has failed to consider certain
relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a different conclusion; (7) when the findings of fact
are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; and (8) when the findings of
fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the absence of evidence but are contradicted by the evidence
on record.[22] After a scrutiny of the records, we find that some of these exceptions obtain in the present
case.
The rule is that the transfer of an employee ordinarily lies within the ambit of the employers
prerogatives.[23] The employer exercises the prerogative to transfer an employee for valid reasons and
according to the requirement of its business, provided the transfer does not result in demotion in rank or
diminution of the employees salary, benefits and other privileges. [24] In illegal dismissal cases, the employer
has the burden of showing that the transfer is not unnecessary, inconvenient and prejudicial to the displaced
employee.[25]
The constant transfer of bank officers and personnel with accounting responsibilities from one branch to
another is a standard practice of Allied Bank, which has more than a hundred branches throughout the
country.[26] Allied Bank does this primarily for internal control. It also enables bank employees to gain the
necessary experience for eventual promotion. The BangkoSentralngPilipinas, in its Manual of Regulations
for Banks and Other Financial Intermediaries, [27] requires the rotation of these personnel. The Manual directs
that the duties of personnel handling cash, securities and bookkeeping records should be rotated and that
such rotation should be irregular, unannounced and long enough to permit disclosure of any irregularities or
manipulations.[28]
Galanida was well aware of Allied Banks policy of periodically transferring personnel to different
branches. As the Court of Appeals found, assignment to the different branches of Allied Bank was a
condition of Galanidas employment. Galanidaconsented to this condition when he signed the Notice of
Personnel Action.[29]
The evidence on record contradicts the charge that Allied Bank discriminated against Galanida and was
in bad faith when it ordered his transfer. Allied Banks letter of 13 June 1994[30]showed that at least 14
accounting officers and personnel from various branches, including Galanida, were transferred to other
branches. Allied Bank did not single out Galanida. The same letter explained that Galanida was second in
line for assignment outside Cebu because he had been in Cebu for seven years already. The person first in
line, Assistant Manager Roberto Isla, who had been in Cebu for more than ten years, had already
transferred to a branch in Cagayan de Oro City. We note that none of the other transferees joined Galanida
in his complaint or corroborated his allegations of widespread discrimination and favoritism.
As regards Ms. Co, Galanidas letter of 16 June 1994 itself showed that her assignment to Cebu was
not in any way related to Galanidas transfer. Ms. Co was supposed to replace a certain Larry Sabelino in
the Tabunok branch. The employer has the prerogative, based on its assessment of the employees
qualifications and competence, to rotate them in the various areas of its business operations to ascertain
where they will function with maximum benefit to the company.[31]
Neither was Galanidas transfer in the nature of a demotion. Galanida did not present evidence showing
that the transfer would diminish his salary, benefits or other privileges. Instead, Allied Banks letter of 13 June
1994 assured Galanida that he would not suffer any reduction in rank or grade, and that the transfer would
involve the same rank, duties and obligations. Mr.Olveda explained this further in the affidavit he submitted
to the Labor Arbiter, thus:

19. There is no demotion in position/rank or diminution of complainants salary, benefits and other privileges
as the transfer/assignment of branch officers is premised on the role/functions that they will assume in the
management and operations of the branch, as shown below:

(a) The Branch Accountant, as controller of the branch is responsible for the proper discharge of the
functions of the accounting section of the branch, review of documentation/proper accounting and control of
transaction. As such, the accounting functions in the branch can be assumed by any of the following officers
with the rank of: Senior Manager/Acctg.; Manager/ Acctg.; Senior Asst. Manager/Acctg.; Asst.
Manager/Acctg.; Accountant or Asst. Accountant.

xxx

20. The transfer/assignment of branch officer from one branch, to another branch/office is lateral in nature
and carries with it the same position/rank, salary, benefits and other privileges. The assignment/transfer is
for the officer to assume the functions relative to his job and NOT the position/rank of the officer to be
replaced.

There is also no basis for the finding that Allied Bank was guilty of unfair labor practice in dismissing
Galanida. Unfair labor practices relate only to violations of the constitutional right of workers and employees
to self-organization[32] and are limited to the acts enumerated in Article 248 of the Labor Code, none of which
applies to the present case. There is no evidence that Galanida took part in forming a union, or even that a
union existed in Allied Bank.
This leaves the issue of whether Galanida could validly refuse the transfer orders on the ground of
parental obligations, additional expenses, and the anguish he would suffer if assigned away from his family.
The Court has ruled on this issue before. In the case of Homeowners Savings and Loan
Association, Inc. v. NLRC,[33] we held:

The acceptability of the proposition that transfer made by an employer for an illicit or underhanded purpose
i.e., to defeat an employees right to self-organization, to rid himself of an undesirable worker, or to penalize
an employee for union activities cannot be upheld is self-evident and cannot be gainsaid. The difficulty lies
in the situation where no such illicit, improper or underhanded purpose can be ascribed to the employer, the
objection to the transfer being grounded solely upon the personal inconvenience or hardship that will be
caused to the employee by reason of the transfer. What then?

This was the very same situation we faced in Phil. Telegraph and Telephone Corp. v. Laplana. In that
case, the employee, Alicia Laplana, was a cashier at the Baguio City Branch of PT&T who was directed to
transfer to the companys branch office at Laoag City. In refusing the transfer, the employee averred that she
had established Baguio City as her permanent residence and that such transfer will involve additional
expenses on her part, plus the fact that an assignment to a far place will be a big sacrifice for her as she will
be kept away from her family which might adversely affect her efficiency. In ruling for the employer, the
Court upheld the transfer from one city to another within the country as valid as long as there is no bad faith
on the part of the employer. We held then:

Certainly the Court cannot accept the proposition that when an employee opposes his employers decision
to transfer him to another work place, there being no bad faith or underhanded motives on the part of either
party, it is the employees wishes that should be made to prevail.

Galanida, through counsel, invokes the Courts ruling in Dosch v. NLRC.[34] Dosch, however, is not
applicable to the present case. Helmut Dosch refused a transfer consequential to a promotion. We upheld
the refusal because no law compels an employee to accept a promotion, and because the position Dosch
was supposed to be promoted to did not even exist at that time. [35] This left as the only basis for the charge
of insubordination a letter from Dosch in which the Court found not even the slightest hint of defiance, much
less xxx insubordination.[36]
Moreover, the transfer of an employee to an overseas post, as in the Dosch case, cannot be likened to
a transfer from one city to another within the country,[37] which is the situation in the present case. The
distance from Cebu City to Bacolod City or from Cebu City to Tagbilaran City does not exceed the distance
from Baguio City to Laoag City or from Baguio City toManila, which the Court considered a reasonable
distance in PT&T v. Laplana.[38]
The refusal to obey a valid transfer order constitutes willful disobedience of a lawful order of an
employer.[39] Employees may object to, negotiate and seek redress against employers for rules or orders
that they regard as unjust or illegal. However, until and unless these rules or orders are declared illegal or
improper by competent authority, the employees ignore or disobey them at their peril.
[40]
For Galanidas continued refusal to obey Allied Banks transfer orders, we hold that the bank dismissed
Galanida for just cause in accordance with Article 282 (a) of the Labor Code. [41] Galanida is thus not entitled
to reinstatement or to separation pay.

Whether Galanidas dismissal violated the


requirement of notice and hearing

To be effective, a dismissal must comply with Section 2 (d), Rule 1, Book VI of the Omnibus Rules
Implementing the Labor Code (Omnibus Rules), which provides:

For termination of employment based on just causes as defined in Article 282 of the Labor Code:

(i) A written notice served on the employee specifying the ground or grounds of termination, and
giving said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain his side.
(ii) A hearing or conference during which the employee concerned, with the assistance of counsel if
he so desires is given opportunity to respond to the charge, present his evidence, or rebut the
evidence presented against him.
(iii) A written notice of termination served on the employee indicating that upon due consideration of
all the circumstances, grounds have been established to justify his termination.
The first written notice was embodied in Allied Banks letter of 13 June 1994. The first notice required
Galanida to explain why no disciplinary action should be taken against him for his refusal to comply with the
transfer orders.
On the requirement of a hearing, this Court has held that the essence of due process is simply an
opportunity to be heard.[42] An actual hearing is not necessary. The exchange of several letters, in which
Galanidas wife, a lawyer with the City Prosecutors Office, assisted him, gave Galanida an opportunity to
respond to the charges against him.
The remaining issue is whether the Memo dated 8 September 1994 sent to Galanida constitutes the
written notice of termination required by the Omnibus Rules. In finding that it did not, the Court of Appeals
and the NLRC cited Allied Banks rule on dismissals, quoted in the Memo, that, Notice of termination shall be
issued by the Investigation Committee subject to the confirmation of the President or his authorized
representative.[43] The appellate court and NLRC held that Allied Bank did not send any notice of termination
to Galanida. The Memo, with the heading Transfer and Reassignment, was not the termination notice
required by law.
We do not agree.
Even a cursory reading of the Memo will show that it unequivocally informed Galanida of Allied Banks
decision to dismiss him. The statement, please be informed that the Bank has terminated your
services effective September 1, 1994 and considered whatever benefit, if any, that you are entitled [to] as
forfeited xxx[44] is plainly worded and needs no interpretation.The Memo also discussed the findings of the
Investigation Committee that served as grounds for Galanidas dismissal. The Memo referred to Galanidas
open defiance and refusal to transfer first to the Bacolod City branch and then to
the Tagbilaran City branch. The Memo also mentioned his continued refusal to report for work despite the
denial of his application for additional vacation leave.[45] The Memo also refuted Galanidas charges of
discrimination and demotion, and concluded that he had violated Article XII of the banks Employee
Discipline Policy and Procedure.
The Memo, although captioned Transfer and Reassignment, did not preclude it from being a notice of
termination. The Court has held that the nature of an instrument is characterized not by the title given to it
but by its body and contents.[46] Moreover, it appears that Galanida himself regarded the Memo as a notice
of termination. We quote from the Memorandum for Private Respondent-Appellee, as follows:

The proceedings may be capsulized as follows:

1. On March 13, 1994[47] Private Respondent-Appellee filed before the Region VII Arbitration Branch a
Complaint for Constructive Dismissal. A copy of the Complaint is attached to the Petition as Annex H;

xxx

5. On September 8, 1994, Petitioner-Appellant issued him a Letter of Termination. A copy of said letter
is attached to the Petition as Annex N;

6. Private Respondent-Appellee filed an Amended/ Supplemental Complaint wherein he alleged illegal


dismissal. A copy of the Amended/Supplemental Complaint is attached to the Petition as Annex O;
xxx[48] (Emphasis supplied)

The Memorandum for Private Respondent-Appellee refers to the Memo as a Letter of


Termination. Further, Galanida amended his complaint for constructive dismissal [49] to one for illegal
dismissal[50] after he received the Memo. Clearly, Galanida had understood the Memo to mean that Allied
Bank had terminated his services.
The Memo complied with Allied Banks internal rules which required the banks President or his
authorized representative to confirm the notice of termination. The banks Vice-President for Personnel, as
the head of the department that handles the movement of personnel within Allied Bank, can certainly
represent the bank president in cases involving the dismissal of employees.
Nevertheless, we agree that the Memo suffered from certain errors. Although the Memo stated that
Allied Bank terminated Galanidas services as of 1 September 1994, the Memo bore the date 8 September
1994. More importantly, Galanida only received a copy of the Memo on 5 October 1994, or more than a
month after the supposed date of his dismissal. To be effective, a written notice of termination must
be served on the employee.[51] Allied Bank could not terminate Galanida on 1 September 1994 because he
had not received as of that date the notice of Allied Banks decision to dismiss him. Galanidas dismissal
could only take effect on 5 October 1994, upon his receipt of the Memo. For this reason, Galanida is entitled
to backwages for the period from 1 September 1994 to 4 October 1994.
Under the circumstances, we also find an award of P10,000 in nominal damages proper. Courts award
nominal damages to recognize or vindicate the right of a person that another has violated. [52] The law
entitles Galanida to receive timely notice of Allied Banks decision to dismiss him. Allied Bank should have
exercised more care in issuing the notice of termination.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of 27 April 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 51451
upholding the Decision of 18 September 1998 of the NLRC in NLRC Case No. V-000180-98 is AFFIRMED,
with the following MODIFICATIONS:
1) The awards of separation pay, moral damages and exemplary damages are hereby deleted for lack
of basis;
2) Reducing the award of backwages to cover only the period from 1 September 1994 to 4 October
1994; and
3) Awarding nominal damages to private respondent for P10,000.
This case is REMANDED to the Labor Arbiter for the computation, within thirty (30) days from receipt of
this Decision, of the backwages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits, due to Potenciano L. Galanida
for the time his dismissal was ineffectual from 1 September 1994 until 4 October 1994.
Labor Arbiter Dominador A. Almirante and Atty. Loreto M. Durano are ADMONISHED to be more careful
in citing the decisions of the Supreme Court in the future.
SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 2837 October 7, 1994

ESTEBAN M. LIBIT, complainant,


vs.
ATTYS. EDELSON G. OLIVA and FLORANDO A. UMALI, respondent.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:

In civil Case No. 84-24144 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled "Pedro Cutingting, plaintiff versus
Alfredo Tan, defendant", the Honorable Presiding Judge Domingo Panis issued the following order:

The Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is hereby ordered to conduct an
investigation with the end in view of determining the author of the Sheriff's Return which appears
to have been falsified and to institute such criminal action as the evidence will warrant. (p. 1, Final
Report.)

After conducting the necessary investigation, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), through herein
complainant, charged respondents as follows:

That sometime in May 1984 in the City of Manila, at the Regional Trial Court, Branch XLI, Manila,
Philippines, the above-named Respondents, as Counsels for PEDRO CUTINGTING in Civil Case
No. 84-24144, entitled PEDRO CUTINGTING, Plaintiff vs. ALFREDO TAN, Defendant, did then
and there, knowingly, willfully introduced/presented in evidence before the aforesaid Regional
Trial Court, a falsified Sheriff's Return of Summons during the hearing of the aforesaid Civil Case
thereby impending and/or obstructing the speedy administration and/or dispensation of Justice.
(p. 2, Final Report, ff. p. 69, Record.)

Respondents in their respective answers denied having any hand in the falsification of the said sheriff's return.

Pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court and the resolution of the Court En Banc of April 12, 1988, the case
was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report, and recommendation.

In view, however, of the report of the National Bureau of Investigation to the effect that the signature above the
typewritten name FlorandoUmali on the last page of the complaint in said civil case is not his signature,
complainant, through counsel, agreed to the dismissal of the case with respect to Atty. Umali.

With respect to Atty. Edelson G. Oliva, the IBP submitted the following report and recommendation:

There is ample evidence extant in the records to prove that


Atty. Oliva has something to do with the falsification of the Sheriff's Return on the Summons in
said Civil Case No. 84-24144.

The oral and documentary evidence of the complainant strongly tend to show the following: (1)
The Sheriff's Return of the Summon in the said civil case was falsified as it was not signed by
Deputy Sheriff Rodolfo Torella (Exh. "J" Sworn Statement of Rodolfo Torella dated February 1,
1985, and Exh. "S", which is the falsified Sheriff's Return); (2) The summons was received from
the clerk of the Court of the Manila
RTC-Branch LXI by Ronaldo Romero, a messenger in the law office of Attys. Umali and Oliva and
said messenger brought the summons to the law office of the respondents (Exh. "H"
SinumpaangSalaysayni Ronaldo Romero, and Exh. "G", Exh. "I" Sworn Statement dated
February 28, 1985 of Mariano Villanueva, Chief Staff Asst. 2, RTC, Manila; (3) On the basis of the
falsified Sheriff's Return on the Summons, Atty. Oliva, counsel for the defendant [should be
plaintiff] in said civil case, filed a typewritten Motion to Declare Defendant in Default (Exh.) "R"
Motion to Declare Defendant In Default in said civil case signed and filed by Atty. Oliva);
(4) On March 29, 1984, Atty. Oliva, in his capacity as Operations Manager of Judge Pio R.
Marcos Law Office, sent a final demand letter on Alfredo Tan, the defendant in said Civil case, for
payment of the sum of P70,174.00 (Exh. "T" Demand Letter dated March 28, 1984 of Atty.
Oliva addressed to Alfredo Tan); (5) The demand letter of Atty. Oliva (Exh. "T"), the complaint in
said civil case (Exh. "Q", "Q-1", and "Q-2"), the falsified Sheriff's Return on the Summons (Exh.
"S"), the Motion To Declare Defendant In Default dated October 30, 1984 signed and filed by
Atty. Oliva (Exh. "R" and "R-1") were typed on one and the same typewriter, as shown in the
Questioned Document Report No. 198-585 dated 19 June 1985 (Exh. "Q", "Q-1" and "Q-2"; Exh.
"V", "V-1" and
"V-2").

After the careful review of the record of the case and the report and recommendation of the IBP, the Court finds
that respondent Atty. Edelson G. Oliva committed acts of misconduct which warrant the exercise by the Court of
its disciplinary powers. The facts, as supported by the evidence, obtaining in this case indubitably reveal
respondent's failure to live up to his duties as a lawyer in consonance with the strictures of the lawyer's oath, the
Code of Professional Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics. A lawyer's responsibility to protect
and advance the interests of his client does not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives and malicious
intentions against the other party.

At this juncture, it is well to stress once again that the practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the
State on those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications required by law for the
conferment of such privilege. One of these requirements is the observance of honesty and candor. It can not be
gainsaid that candidness, especially towards the courts, is essential for the expeditious administration of justice.
Courts are entitled to expect only complete candor and honesty from the lawyers appearing and pleading before
them. A lawyer, on the other hand, has the fundamental duty to satisfy the expectation. It is essential that lawyers
bear in mind at all times that their first duty is not to their clients but rather to the courts, that they are above all
court officers sworn to assist the courts in rendering justice to all and sundry, and only secondarily are they
advocates of the exclusive interests of their clients. For this reason, he is required to swear to do no falsehood,
nor consent to the doing of any in court (Chavez vs. Viola, 196 SCRA 10 [1991].

In this case, respondent Atty. EdelsonOliva has manifestly violated that part of his oath as a lawyer that he shall
not do any falsehood. He has likewise violated Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which
provides:

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.

Accordingly, the Court resolved to impose upon Atty. EdelsonOliva the supreme penalty of DISBARMENT. His
license to practice law in the Philippines is CANCELLED and the Bar Confidant is ordered to strike out his name
from the Roll of Attorneys.

The case is ordered dismissed as against Atty. FlorandoUmali.

SO ORDERED.

RE : SUSPENSION OF ATTY. ADM. CASE No. 7006


ROGELIO Z. BAGABUYO, FORMER
SENIOR STATE PROSECUTOR Present:

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

DECISION

AZCUNA, J.:

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

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

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

The case was transferred to Branch 29 of the RTC of Surigao City, presided by Judge Jose Manuel
P. Tan. In an Order dated November 12, 2002, Judge Tan favorably resolved the Motion to Fix the Amount of
Bail Bond, and fixed the amount of the bond at P40,000.

Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order dated November 12, 2002, which motion
was denied for lack of merit in an Order dated February 10, 2003. In October, 2003, respondent appealed
from the Orders dated November 12, 2002 and February 10, 2003, to the Court of Appeals (CA).

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

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

Senior state prosecutor Rogelio Bagabuyo lambasted Judge Manuel Tan of


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

Plaza reportedly posted a P40-thousand bail bond.

Bagabuyo argued that the crime of murder is a non-bailable offense. But Bagabuyo
admitted that a judge could still opt to allow a murder suspect to bail out in cases when the
evidence of the prosecution is weak.

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

xxx

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

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

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

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

The said Order stated that contrary to the statements in the article, Judge Buyser described the
evidence for the prosecution as not strong, but sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused only for
homicide. Moreover, it was not true that Judge Buyser inhibited himself from the case for an unclear
reason. Judge Buyser, in an Order dated August 30, 2002, declared in open court in the presence of
respondent that he was inhibiting himself from the case due to the harsh insinuation of respondent that he
lacked the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.

On the scheduled hearing of the contempt charge, Mark Francisco admitted that the Mindanao Gold
Star Daily caused the publication of the article. He disclosed that respondent, in a press conference, stated
that the crime of murder is non-bailable. When asked by the trial court why he printed such lies, Mr.
Francisco answered that his only source was respondent.[4] Mr. Francisco clarified that in the statement
alleging that Judge Buyser inhibited himself from the case for an unclear reason, the phrase for an unclear
reason, was added by the newspapers Executive Editor Herby S. Gomez.[5]
Respondent admitted that he caused the holding of the press conference, but refused to answer
whether he made the statements in the article until after he shall have filed a motion to dismiss. For his
refusal to answer, the trial court declared him in contempt of court pursuant to Sec. 3, Rule 71 of the Rules
of Court.[6] The Courts Order datedSeptember 30, 2003 reads:

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

SO ORDERD.[7]

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

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

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

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

The hearing for the second contempt charge was set on December 4, 2003.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let copies of the relevant records be immediately forwarded to the Supreme Court for
automatic review and for further determination of grounds for [the] disbarment of Prosecutor
Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo.[10]

The trial court found respondents denials to be lame as the tape of his interview on October 2, 2003,
duly transcribed, showed disrespect of the court and its officers, thus:

TONY CONSING: Fiscal, nanglabay ang mga oras, nanglabay ang gamayng panahon ang
samad sa imong kasingkasing nagpabilin pa ba ni. O ingnon nato
duna na bay pagbag-o sa imong huna-huna karon?

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

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

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

xxx

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

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

xxx

BAGABUYO : Yes, nag-ingon ang iyang Order. . . . Ngano nga nakaingon ako nga bakakon
kini, nag-ingon nga kini konong order given in open court, ang
kalooy sa dios, ang iyang order sa Korte wala siya mag-ingon ug
kantidad nga P100,000.00 nga bail bond. . . .
(Yes, his Order said that . . . . Why did I say that he is a liar? It states that this Order was
given in open court, and in Gods mercy, he did not state the
amount of P100,000.00 as bail bond. . . .)

BAGABUYO : Kay dili man lagi mahibalo sa balaod, ako


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

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

xxx

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


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

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

xxx

TONY CONSING : So karon, unsay plano nimo karon?

(So what is your plan now?)

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

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

xxx

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

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

xxx

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

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

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


kini, with all this problem sa Korte Suprema.

(So you are filing a disbarment case? We hope that this be given action with all the problems
in the Supreme Court.)

BAGABUYO : Dili ako mabalaka niana kay usa ka truck ang akong jurisprudence, nga ang
mga Huwes nga di mahibalo sa balaod pagatangtangon gayod sa
ilang pagka Huwes. . . . Apan unsa man intawon ang balaod ang
iyang gibasa niini nadunggan ko nga kini kuno siya madjongero,
mao bitaw na, madjong ang iyang guitunan?

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

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

The trial court stated that it is empowered to suspend respondent from the practice of law under Sec.
28, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court[12] for any of the causes mentioned in Sec. 27[13] of the same
Rule. Respondent was given the opportunity to be heard, but he opted to be silent. Thus, it held that the
requirement of due process has been duly satisfied.
In accordance with the provisions of Sec. 29,[14] Rule 138 and Sec. 9,[15] Rule 139 of the Rules of
Court, the RTC of Surigao City, Branch 29, transmitted to the Office of the Bar Confidant the Statement of
Facts of respondents suspension from the practice of law, dated July 14, 2005, together with the order of
suspension and other relevant documents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to
respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of thePhilippines, the Department of Justice,
and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 79690-707 February 1, 1989

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,


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

G.R. No. 80578 February 1, 1989

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,


vs.
HON. RAUL M. GONZALES, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987
Constitution, respondent.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:

We have examined carefully the lengthy and vigorously written Motion for Reconsideration dated October 18, 1988 filed by
counsel for respondent Raul M. Gonzalez, relating to the per curiam Resolution of the Court dated October 7, 1988. We have
reviewed once more the Court's extended per curiam Resolution, in the light of the argument adduced in the Motion for
Reconsideration, but must conclude that we find no sufficient basis for modifying the conclusions and rulings embodied in
that Resolution. The Motion for Reconsideration sets forth copious quotations and references to foreign texts which, however,
whatever else they may depict, do not reflect the law in this jurisdiction.

Nonetheless, it might be useful to develop further, in some measure, some of the conclusions reached in the per
curiam Resolution, addressing in the process some of the "Ten (10) Legal Points for Reconsideration," made in the Motion for
Reconsideration.
1. In respondent's point A, it is claimed that it was error for this Court "to charge respondent [with] indirect
contempt and convict him of direct contempt."

In the per curiam Resolution (page 50), the Court concluded that "respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of contempt of
court in facie curiae and of gross misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the bar." The Court did not use the
phrase "in facie curiae" as a technical equivalent of "direct contempt," though we are aware that courts in the United States
have sometimes used that phrase in speaking of "direct contempts' as "contempts in the face of the courts." Rather, the court
sought to convey that it regarded the contumacious acts or statements (which were made both in a pleading filed before the
Court and in statements given to the media) and the misconduct of respondent Gonzalez as serious acts flaunted in the face
of the Court and constituting a frontal assault upon the integrity of the Court and, through the Court, the entire judicial system.
What the Court would stress is that it required respondent, in its Resolution dated 2 May 1988, to explain "why he should not
be punished for contempt of court and/or subjected to administrative sanctions" and in respect of which, respondent was
heard and given the most ample opportunity to present all defenses, arguments and evidence that he wanted to present for
the consideration of this Court. The Court did not summarily impose punishment upon the respondent which it could have
done under Section 1 of Rule 71 of the Revised Rules of Court had it chosen to consider respondent's acts as constituting
"direct contempt."

2. In his point C, respondent's counsel argues that it was "error for this Court to charge respondent under
Rule 139 (b) and not 139 of the Revised Rules of Court."

In its per curiam Resolution, the Court referred to Rule 139 (b) of the Revised Rules of Court pointing out that:

[R]eference of complaints against attorneys either to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor
General is not mandatory upon the Supreme Court such reference to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or
to the Solicitor General is certainly not an exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139 (b) of the
Revised Rules of Court, especially where the charge consists of acts done before the Supreme Court.

The above statement was made by the Court in response to respondent's motion for referral of this case either to the Solicitor
General or to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines under Rule 139 (b). Otherwise, there would have been no need to refer to
Rule 139 (b). It is thus only necessary to point out that under the old rule, Rule 139, referral to the Solicitor General was
similarly not an exclusive procedure and was not the only course of action open to the Supreme Court. It is well to recall that
under Section 1 (entitled "Motion or complaint") of Rule 139, "Proceedings for the removal or suspension of attorneys may be
taken by the Supreme Court, (1) on its own motion, or (2) upon the complaint under oath of another in writing" (Parentheses
supplied). The procedure described in Sections 2 et seq. of Rule 139 is the procedure provided for suspension or disbarment
proceedings initiated upon sworn complaint of another person, rather than a procedure required for proceedings initiated by
the Supreme Court on its own motion. It is inconceivable that the Supreme Court would initiate motu proprioproceedings for
which it did not find probable cause to proceed against an attorney. Thus, there is no need to refer a case to the Solicitor
General, which referral is made "for investigation to determine if there is sufficient ground to proceed with the prosecution of
the respondent" (Section 3, Rule 139), where the Court itself has initiated against the respondent. The Court may, of course,
refer a case to the Solicitor General if it feels that, in a particular case, further factual investigation is needed. In the present
case, as pointed out in the per curiamResolution of the Court (page 18), there was "no need for further investigation of facts
in the present case for it [was] not substantially disputed by respondent Gonzalez that he uttered or wrote certain statements
attributed to him" and that "in any case, respondent has had the amplest opportunity to present his defense: his defense is
not that he did not make the statements ascribed to him but that those statements give rise to no liability on his part, having
been made in the exercise of his freedom of speech. The issues which thus need to be resolved here are issues of law and
of basic policy and the Court, not any other agency, is compelled to resolve such issues."

In this connection, we note that the quotation in page 7 of the Motion for Reconsideration is from a dissentingopinion of Mr.
Justice Black in Green v. United State. 1 It may be pointed out that the majority in Green v. United States,through Mr.
Justice Harlan, held, among other things, that: Federal courts do not lack power to impose sentences in excess of one
year for criminal contempt; that criminal contempts are not subject to jury trial as a matter of constitutional right; nor
does the (US) Constitution require that contempt subject to prison terms of more than one year be based on grand jury
indictments.

In his concurring opinion in the same case, Mr. Justice Frankfurter said:

Whatever the conflicting views of scholars in construing more or less dubious manuscripts of the Fourteenth
Century, what is indisputable is that from the foundation of the United States the constitutionality of the
power to punish for contempt without the intervention of a jury has not been doubted. The First Judiciary Act
conferred such a power on the federal courts in the very act of their establishment, 1 State 73, 83, and of
the Judiciary Committee of eight that reported the bill to the Senate, five member including the chairman,
Senator, later to be Chief Justice, Ellsworth, had been delegates to the Constitutional Convention (Oliver
Ellsworth, Chairman, William Paterson, Caleb Strong, Ricard Basett, William Few. 1 Annals of Cong 17). In
the First Congress itself no less than nineteen member including Madison who contemporaneously
introduced the Bill of Rights, had been delegates to the Convention. And when an abuse under this power
manifested itself, and led Congress to define more explicitly the summary power vested in the courts, it did
not remotely deny the existence of the power but merely defined the conditions for its exercise more clearly,
in an Act "declaratory of the law concerning contempts of court." Act of Mar. 2, 1831, 4 Stat 487.

xxxxxxxxx

Nor has the constitutionality of the power been doubted by this Court throughout its existence . In at least
two score cases in this Court, not to mention the vast mass of decisions in the lower federal courts, the
power to punish summarily has been accepted without question. ... 2

To say that a judge who punishes a contemnor judges his own cause, is simplistic at best. The judge who finds himself
compelled to exercise the power to punish for contempt does so not really to avenge a wrong inflicted upon his own person;
rather he upholds and vindicates the authority, dignity and integrity of the judicial institution and its claim to respectful
behaviour on the part of all persons who appears before it, and most especially from those who are officers of the court.

3. In his point D, respondent counsel urges that it is error "for this Court to apply the "visible tendency" rule
rather than the "clear and present danger" rule in disciplinary and contempt charges."

The Court did not purport to announce a new doctrine of "visible tendency," it was, more modestly, simply paraphrasing
Section 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Revised Rules of Court which penalizes a variety of contumacious conduct including: "any
improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice."

The "clear and present danger" doctrine invoked by respondent's counsel is not a magic incantation which dissolves all
problems and dispenses with analysis and judgment in the testing of the legitimacy of claims to free speech, and which
compels a court to exonerate a defendant the moment the doctrine is invoked, absent proof of impending apocalypse. The
clear and present danger" doctrine has been an accepted method for marking out the appropriate limits of freedom of speech
and of assembly in certain contexts. It is not, however, the only test which has been recognized and applied by courts.
In Logunzad v. Vda. de Gonzales, 3 this Court, speaking through Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera said:

...The right of freedom of expression indeed, occupies a preferred position in the "hierarchy of civil liberties"
(Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization v. Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., 51 SCRA 191
[1963]. It is not, however, without limitations. As held in Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, 27 SCRA
835, 858 [1960]:

"From the language of the specific constitutional provision, it would appear that the right is not susceptible of
any limitation. No law may be passed abridging the freedom of speech and of the press. The realities of life
in a complex society preclude however, a literal interpretation. Freedom of expression is not an absolute. It
would be too much to insist that all times and under all circumstances it should remain unfettered and
unrestrained. There are other societal values that press for recognition."

The prevailing doctrine is that the clear and present danger rule is such a limitation. Another criterion for
permissible limitation on freedom of speech and of the press, which includes such vehicles of the mass
media as radio, television and the movies, is the "balancing-of-interests test" (Chief Justice Enrique M.
Fernando on the Bill of Rights, 1970 ed., p. 79). The principle "requires a court to take conscious and
detailed consideration of the interplay of interests observable in a given situation or type of
situation (Separate Opinion of the late Chief Justice Castro in Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, supra,
p. 899). (Emphasis Supplied) 4

Under either the "clear and present danger" test or the "balancing-of-interest test," we believe that the statements here made
by respondent Gonzalez are of such a nature and were made in such a manner and under such circumstances, as to
transcend the permissible limits of free speech. This conclusion was implicit in the per curiamResolution of October 7, 1988.
It is important to point out that the "substantive evil" which the Supreme Court has a right and a duty to prevent does not, in
the instant case, relate to threats of physical disorder or overt violence or similar disruptions of public order. 5 What is here at
stake is the authority of the Supreme Court to confront and prevent a "substantive evil" consisting not only of the
obstruction of a free and fair hearing of a particular case but also the avoidance of the broader evil of the degradation
of the judicial system of a country and the destruction of the standards of professional conduct required from members
of the bar and officers of the courts. The "substantive evil" here involved, in other words, is not as palpable as a threat
of public disorder or rioting but is certainly no less deleterious and more far reaching in its implications for society.

4. In his point H, respondent's counsel argues that it is error "for this Court to hold that intent is irrelevant in
charges of misconduct." What the Court actually said on this point was:

Respondent Gonzalez disclaims an intent to attack and denigrate the Court. The subjectivities of the
respondent are irrelevant so far as characterization of his conduct or misconduct is concerned. He will not,
however, be allowed to disclaim the natural and plain import of his words and acts. It is, upon the other
hand, not irrelevant to point out that the respondent offered no apology in his two (2) explanations and
exhibited no repentance (Resolution, p. 7; footnotes omitted).
The actual subjectivities of the respondent are irrelevant because such subjectivities (understood as pyschological
phenomena) cannot be ascertained and reached by the processes of this Court. Human intent can only be shown
derivatively and implied from an examination of acts and statements. Thus, what the Court was saying was that respondent's
disclaimer of an intent to attack and denigrate the Court, cannot prevail over the plain import of what he did say and do.
Respondent cannot negate the clear import of his acts and statements by simply pleading a secret intent or state of mind
incompatible with those acts or statements. It is scarcely open to dispute that, e.g., one accused of homicide cannot
successfully deny his criminal intent by simply asserting that while he may have inserted a knife between the victim's ribs, he
actually acted from high motives and kind feelings for the latter.

5 In his point 1, respondent's counsel argues that it is error "for this Court to punish respondent for contempt
of court for out of court publications."

Respondent's counsel asks this Court to follow what he presents as alleged modern trends in the United Kingdom and in the
United States concerning the law of contempt. We are, however, unable to regard the texts that he cites as binding or
persuasive in our jurisdiction. The Court went to some length to document the state of our case law on this matter in its per
curiam Resolution. There is nothing in the circumstances of this case that would suggest to this Court that that case law,
which has been followed for at least half a century or so, ought to be reversed.

6. In his point J, respondent's counsel pleads that the imposition of indefinite suspension from the practice
of law constitutes "cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment". The Court finds it difficult to consider this a
substantial constitutional argument. The indefiniteness of the respondent's suspension, far from being
"cruel" or "degrading" or "inhuman," has the effect of placing, as it were, the key to the restoration of his
rights and privileges as a lawyer in his own hands. That sanction has the effect of giving respondent the
chance to purge himself in his own good time of his contempt and misconduct by acknowledging such
misconduct, exhibiting appropriate repentance and demonstrating his willingness and capacity to live up to
the exacting standards of conduct rightly demanded from every member of the bar and officer of the courts.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DENY the Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit. The denial is FINAL.

G.R. No. 585 December 14, 1979

EMILIA E. ANDRES, petitioner,


vs.
STANLEY R. CABRERA, respondent.

GUERRERO, J.:

In a resolution of this Court dated October 11, 1979, respondent Stanley R. Cabrera. a successful bar examine in 1977 and
against whom a petition to disqualify him from membership in the Bar is pending in this Court in the above-entitled case, was
required to show cause why he should not be cited and punished for contempt of court.

The above citation for contempt against the respondent was issued by the Court following the persistence of the respondent
in the use of, abusive and vituperative language despite the Court's admonition implicit in Our previous resolution of June 5,
1979 deferring the oath-taking of respondent pending showing that he has amended his ways and conformed to the use of
polite, courteous and civil language.

The petition to disqualify respondent from admission to the Bar was filed by Atty. Emilia F. Andres, Legal Officer II in the
Office of the Minister, Ministry of Labor on the ground of lack of good moral character as shown by his propensity in using
vile, uncouth, and in civil language to the extent of being reprehensively malicious and criminally libelous and likewise, for his
proclivity in filing baseless, malicious and unfounded criminal cases.

It appears that Atty. Emilia E. Andres, designated as Special Investigator to investigate the administrative charge filed by Mrs.
Presentacion R. Cabrera, mother of the respondent, against one, Atty. Benjamin Perez, former Hearing Officer of the defunct
Workmen's Compensation Unit, Region IV, Manila, for alleged dishonesty, oppression and discourtesy, recommended the
dismissal of the charge even as the records of two relevant Workmen's Compensation cases were not produced at the
hearing, notwithstanding the request of the respondent. When the Minister of Labor dismissed the charges upon Atty. Andres'
recommendation, respondent filed with the City Fiscal of Manila criminal charges of infidelity in the custody of documents.
falsification of public documents, and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against the investigator.

Supporting these criminal charges are affidavits of respondent Stanley R. Cabrera wherein Atty. Andres. now the petitioner,
points to the vile, in civil and uncouth language used by respondent, as shown in the following excerpts:

9. That the moronic statements of Atty. Ernesto Cruz and Atty. Emilia Andres are the product ofmoronic
conspiracy to conceal the said falsified, fraudulent and unauthorized document in the sense that how can
the CARS conduct a diligent search tor the aforesaid document when according to themoronic excuse of the
Chief of the said office which took over the functions of the defunct WCC considering that it is easier to
resort to the list of the inventory of cases before conducting a diligent search unless both are morons with
regards to their public office ... (emphasis supplied).

10. That due to the fact that Acting Referee Benjamin R. Perez, Alfredo Antonio, Jr., Atty. Ernesto Cruz and
Atty. Emilia Andres has perpetrated a moronic but criminal conspiracy to conceal the falsified fraudulent and
unauthorized petition ... (emphasis supplied).

... And to show beyond reasonable doubt that that the letter is a manufactured evidence respondent Atty.
Andres in another demonstration of her unparalleled stupidity in the discharge of her public
functions moronically failed to affix her signature to further aggravate matters said manufactured evidence
was moronically received upon unlawful inducement by respondents Atty. Cruz and Atty. Andres in
furtherance of the criminal conspiracy by the Idiotic with regards to the discharge of public functions ...
(emphasis supplied)

The same words and phrases are used in respondent's other affidavits supporting the criminal cases against the petitioner
such as the following:

Her moronic but criminal participation as a conspirator

another demonstration of her unparalleled stupidity in the discharge of her public functions moronically
failed to affix her signature

said manufactured evidence was moronically received by unlawful inducement by respondents

idiotic receiving clerk of CAR

unparalleled stupidity of chief respondent

On April 28, 1977, this Court required respondent to file an answer to the petition to disqualify him from admission to the Bar
and ordered at the same time that his oath-taking be held in abeyance until further orders. In his answer, respondent admits
the filing of criminal cases in the City Fiscal's Office against the petitioner but he claims that his language was not vile
uncouth and un civil due to the simple reason that the same is the truth and was made with good intentions and justifiable
motives pursuant to respondent's sense of justice as cherished under the New Society, aside from being absolutely
privileged. Respondent's answer, however, repeats his former allegations that "Atty. Emilia Andres is not only a moron" and
reiterates "the moronic discharge of public functions by complainant Atty. Emilia Andres."

The records show repeated motions of respondent dated October 21, 1977 and February 22, 1978 for the early resolution of
his case and in his letter dated April 11, 1978 addressed to then Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, respondent sought, in his
very words "some semblance of justice from the Honorable Supreme Court of the Philippines" and another letter to the Chief
Justice dated August 17, 1978 making reference to the "avalance of the sadistic resolution en banc," "the cruel and inhuman
punishment the Court has speedily bestowed upon undersigned respondent," "the Court does not honor its own resolution,"
and closing his letter thus "A victim of the Court's inhuman and cruel punishment through its supreme inaction."

We referred the petition of Atty. Emilia Andres to the Legal Investigator of the Court for investigation, report and
recommendation which was submitted on May 24, 1979. Acting on said report, the Court resolved to defer the oath-taking of
respondent pending showing that he has amended his ways and has conformed to the use of polite, courteous and civil
language. Thereafter, respondent filed on September 3, 1979 an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to annul Our resolution of June 5,
1979 and to reinvestigate the case, preferably giving opportunity to respondent to argue his case orally before the Court or to
allow him to take his oath of office as an attorney. We denied the motion.

On September 11, 1979, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Contempt of Court, praying the Supreme Court to cite
complainant Atty. Emilia Andres for contempt of court, alleging that her false and malicious accusations coupled with her
improper and obnoxious acts during the investigation impeded, obstructed and degraded the administration of justice. Under
paragraph 2 of said motion, he states:

2. That with all due respect to this Court, the aforestated resolution en banc to DEFER my oath-taking as an
attorney pending showing that "he has amended his ways and has conformed to the use of polite,
courteous, and civil language" is a degradation of the administration of justice due to the fact that the same
is bereft of legal foundation due to the fact that the investigation conducted by Atty. Victor J. Sevilla,
whose supreme stupidity in the discharge of his official functions is authenticated by his overt partiality to
the complainant as authenticated by the transcript of records of this case thus depriving undersigned
respondent-movant of the "Cold and neutral impartiality of a judge" tantamount to lack of due process of
law; (emphasis supplied).

We noted that the above paragraph is a repetition of paragraph 4 in respondent's previous Urgent Ex-Parte Motion dated
September 3, 1979 which also states:

4. That with all due respect to this Court, the aforestated resolution en banc to DEFER my oath-taking as an
attorney pending showing that "he has amended his ways and has conformed to the use of polite, courteous
and civil language" is a degradation of the administration of justice due to the fact that same is bereft of
legal foundation due to the fact that the investigation conducted by Atty. Victor J. Sevilla, whose supreme
stupidity in the discharge of his official functions is authenticated by his overt partiality to the complainant as
authenticated by the transcript of records of this case thus depriving undersigned respondent-movant of the
"cold and neutral impartiality of a judge, " tantamount to lack of due process of law: (emphasis supplied).

We also took note in respondent's Urgent Motion for Contempt of Court the language used by him in praying this Court "to
impose upon said Emilia E. Andres imprisonment commensurate to the humiliation and vomitting injusticeundersigned
respondent-movant suffered and still suffering from this Court due to complainant Atty. Emilia E. Andres' wanton dishonesty."

It is obvious and self-evident that respondent has not amended his conduct despite the Court's admonition. Respondent
persists and keeps on using abusive and vituperative language before the Court. Accordingly, We resolved in Our resolution
of October 11, 1979 to require respondent to show cause why he should not be cited and punished for contempt of court.

Respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration dated September 27, 1979 wherein he tried to assure the Court that
he has amended his ways and has conformed to the use of polite, courteous and civil language and prayed that he be
allowed to take the lawyer's oath. We denied it on October 16, 1979.

Thereafter, respondent submitted a pleading entitled "Subrosa" dated October 22, 1979 and answered the citation for
contempt against him in the following wise and manner:

3. That without prejudice to my Urgent Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. 27, 1979, undersigned
respondent respectfully states to this Court that the respondent charges that the Court's Resolution of June
5, 1979 is a "degradation of the administration of justice, " was never intended as a defiance of this Court's
authority. nor to scandalize the integrity, dignity, and respect which this Court enjoys, but was an statement
made with utmost good faith out of frustration out of respondent's inability to take his lawyer's oath since
April, 1977 and in justifiable indignation at the illegalities perpetrated by both complainant Emilia E. Andres
and Legal Investigator Victor Sevilla, both members of the Bar which are evident with a cursory perusal of
the typewritten transcript of the stenographic notes of the hearings conducted by Legal Investigator Sevilla
which this Court adopted; (emphasis supplied).

We reject totally respondent's supposed humble apology "for all his non-conformity to the use of polite, courteous and civil
language in all his pleadings filed with the Court and on his solemn word of honor pledges not to commit the same
hereinafter" and his disavowal of intent of "defiance of (the) Court's authority nor to scandalize (its) integrity, dignity and
respect which this Court enjoys." Such apology and disavowal appear to be in sincere, sham and artful for respondent in the
same breadth contends that his statement calling the Court's resolution of June 5, 1979 as "a degradation of the
administration of justice" was made "with utmost, good faith out of frustration of respondent's inability to take his lawyer's oath
since April, 1977 and in justifiable indignation of the illegalities perpetrated by both complainant Emilia E. Andres and Legal
Investigation Victor Sevilla."

Although respondent is not yet admitted to the legal profession but now stands at the threshold thereof, having already
passed the Bar examinations, it is as much his duty as every attorney-at-law already admitted to the practice of law to
..observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers (Sec. 20, (b), Rule 138, Rules of Court)
and "to 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" (Sec. 20, (f), Rule 138). According to the
Canons of Professional Ethics, it is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude not for the sake
of the temporary incumbent of the Judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance. Judges, not being
wholly free to defend themselves, are particularly entitled to receive the support of the Bar against unjust criticism and
clamor. This duty is likewise incumbent upon one aspiring to be a lawyer such as the respondent for the attorney's oath
solemnly enjoins him to "conduct myself as a lawyer according to to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good
fidelity as well to the Courts as to my client.

The power of the Supreme Court to punish for contempt is inherent and extends to suits at law as well as to administrative
proceedings as in the case at bar for it is as necessary to maintain respect for the courts, in administrative cases as it is in
any other class of judicial proceedings. Under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a person guilty of any improper conduct tending,
directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice may be punished for contempt, and the
reason is that respect for the courts guarantees their stability and permanence Without such guaranty, the institution of the
courts would be resting on a very loose and flimsy foundation, such power is essential to the proper execution and effective
maintenance of judicial authority.

Respondent's use of vile rude and repulsive language is patent and palpable from the very words, phrases and sentences he
has written and which are quoted herein. 'They speak for themselves in their vulgarity, insolence and calumny. Specifically,
respondent's direct reference to the Court on the ..sadistic resolution en banc, " "the cruel and inhuman punishment the Court
has speedily bestowed" upon him, that "the Court does not honor its own resolution," that he is "a victim of the Court's
inhuman and cruel punishment through its supreme inaction," and that he is suffering "humiliation and vomitting in justice"
from this Court is not only disrespectful but his charges are false, sham and unfounded.

'There is no excuse, much less plea or pretext to brand ultimately the Court's resolution deferring oath-taking of the
respondent as a new lawyer issued June 5, 1979 as "a degradation of the administration of justice." By his improper conduct
in the use of highly disrespectful insolent language, respondent has tended to degrade the administration of justice; he has
disparaged the dignity and brought to disrepute the integrity and authority of the Court. He has committed contempt of this
Court.

WHEREFORE respondent Stanley Cabrera is found guilty of contempt and he is hereby sentenced to pay this Court within
ten days from notice hereof a fine of Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00) or imprisonment of fifty (50) days.

Let a copy of this resolution be attached to respondent's personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant.

SO ORDERED

G.R. No. L-60007 February 29, 1988

NOE C. BAJA, petitioners,


vs.
HONORABLE JUDGE ANTONIA CORPUZ MACANDOG and JULIAN MUNEZ, respondents.

SARMIENTO, J.:

The petitioner instituted in the then Court of First Instance, now Regional Trial Court, of Negros Occidental 1 a civil case for
specific performance of contract and damages against the private respondent, defendant therein. In his complaint, the
petitioner alleged that one of the conditions in the contract of lease entered into between him as lessor and the private
respondent as lessee was that the latter should pay the real estate taxes on the leased land; and this same condition
was re-stated in their second contract of lease; that the petitioner later discovered that the private respondent had
failed to pay the said taxes amounting to more than P4,000.00, and still refused to pay the same despite the
petitioner's demand.

After receipt of a copy of the complaint, the private respondent filed a "Manifestation" in court stating that he had already paid
the realty taxes that were due on the land, as evidenced by a xerox -copy of the official receipt issued by the municipal
treasurer Escalante, Negros Occidental, and that he prayed, therefore, for the dismissal of the complaint. Acting on this
"Manifestation" orders, dated July 24, 1981, which states:

Acting on the Manifestation dated July 17. 1981 filed by Julian Munez, defendant of the above-entitled case,
stating among others that he had already paid the realty taxes due and finding the same to be well-taken,
and also so as to avoid congestion of the Court's docket, the same is hereby granted. This case is hereby
dismissed. 2

The petitioner subsequently filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing order and an "Ex Parte Motion to Declare the
Defendant in Default and to Disqualify, the Presiding Judge." The hearing of these motions was set for September 2, 1981 at
3:00 o'clock in the afternoon. On the said date, however, the petitioner failed to appear; the respondent Judge ordered him in
contempt of court and required him to explain within 72 hours why he should not be punished for contempt by filing the two
motions above adverted to and which she considered as "highly contemptuous and libelous," and to explain within 72 hours
why he failed to appear before the said court. 3 Upon the petitioner's failure to submit the required explanations within the
stated period, the respondent Judge found the petitioner guilty of direct contempt of court and thereupon ordered his
arrest and imprisonment for six months, "by virtue of Sections 1 and 6 (sic), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court." 4 On
September 8,1981, the petitioner was arrested and confined in the city jail of San Carlos City in Occidental Negros. A
notice of appeal 5 from the above order sentencing him to six months of imprisonment, was filed by the petitioner with
the court a quo for the purpose of elevating the case to the Supreme Court on a question of law, but, for one reason or
another, the case was never so elevated. Then on January 14, 1982 6 the petitioner, while still serving his six-month
contempt imprisonment in the San Carlos City Jail, wrote the respondent Judge a letter which states in part:

xxx xxx xxx

Isn't this a clear example of a non sequitor?

To tell the truth, which should not be suppressed, I am particularly interested in Spec. Proc. No. X-315,
entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of the Late Agustin Gutierrez, Sr.," because it is a revelation of
ignorance of the law, incompetence, and perhaps bribery Have you not remanded until now the record of
this case to the Supreme Court, since you have already received the Order of Mr. Justice Claudio
Teehankee, dated November 16,1981, requiring you, Mrs. Elphedia Castellano Vda. de Gutierrez, your
deputy sheriff (Edilberto Caballero, does he a service eligibility required by the Supreme Court et al to return
the P50,000.00 to the intestate estate? (sic)

I hope that you would be more honest and candid to yourself, and would refrain from telling lies and throw
your weight around because, for your information, as you are living in the ivory tower, many courageous
good people of San Carlos City and environs and many lawyers here are already wise to your dubious if not
nefarious ways.

As for myself and at my age, you and your husband can never intimidate me, anytime anywhere, although
you two remind me since long ago of 'Bonnie and Clyde"!

The respondent found this letter slanderous and libelous. Thus, she issued an order dated January 29, 1982 7requiring the
petitioner to show cause why he should not be punished for indirect contempt. The petitioner subsequently filed a
"Manifestation" stating that "there is nothing to explain." 8 Consequently, in an order dated February 12, 1982, the
respondent Judge declared the petitioner in contempt of court thereby ordering his arrest and incarceration until he
shall have obeyed the order of the court requiring from him an explanation.

In the instant petition, the petitioner vigorously asserts that the respondent Judge had committed a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to an excess of jurisdiction in issuing the three orders dated July 24, 1981, January 29, 1982, and February 12,
1982. In a resolution dated March 31, 1982, we issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the respondent Judge from
enforcing any further her orders of January 29,1982 and February 12, 1982, and ordering the respondent Judge and the
Station Commander of the Integrated National Police of San Carlos City to immediately release the petitioner if he had
already been placed in jail as a result of the aforesaid orders of the respondent Judge.

There is merit in the petitioner's objection to the July 24,1983 order dismissing his complaint. It is a fundamental rule of
procedure that when a civil complaint is filed in court, the defendant is required to answer the complaint or, in the alternative,
he may file a motion to dismiss within the time for pleading. The private respondent in this case did neither of these, and yet
the respondent Judge dismissed the case upon a mere "Manifestation" by the private respondent, making the questioned
dismissal highly irregular and improper. The court cannot dismiss a case motu proprio without violating the plaintiffs right to
be heard, except in the following instances: if the plaintiff fails to appear at the time of the trial; if he fails to prosecute his
action for an unreasonable length of time; or if he fails to comply with the rules or any order of the court; 9 or if the court finds
that it has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit. 10 None of these causes obtained in the case of specific
performance filed by the herein petitioner and dismissed by the respondent Judge, and which became the casus
belli between the two, as adverted to above.

While the said "Manifestation" may be considered as a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of payment, the respondent Judge
seriously erred in dismissing the case without giving the petitioner the chance to present evidence to disprove the said
motion. The rule is that there must be a hearing, wherein the Motion to Dismiss may be proved or disproved affidavits,
depositions or oral testimony, as directed by the court, just as in ordinary hearings. 11 The two exceptions to this rule are:
when the Motion to Dismiss is based on the failure of the complaint to state a cause of action, in which case no
evidence may be considered to test the sufficiency of the complaint except the very facts pleaded therein, and in the
above-enumerated instances when the courts may dismiss a case sua sponte.

The respondent Judge contends that the Motion for Reconsideration of the dismissal of the petitioner's complaint was denied
by her in an order dated January 14, 1982, but that the petitioner, upon being served with a copy of the said order refused to
receive the same; and that the questioned order is now final. The truth or falsity of this allegation notwithstanding, it is thus
evident that the petitioner had valid cause to complain by reason of the unwarranted dismiss of his complaint.

While the petitioner's letter, dated January 14, 1982, contained strongly worded personal attacks against the character of the
respondent Judge as well as her husband, we are not, however, convinced of the complete correctness of the questioned
contempt order dated February 12, 1982. When the petitioner submitted his "Manifestation" wherein he stated, inter alia, that
"there is nothing to explain for in indirect contempt there must be first a charge in writing to be filed, and that the accused
must be given the opportunity to be heard by himself or counsel," he was, in effect, complying with the other questioned order
dated January 29,1982, requiring him to explain why he should not be punished for contempt. It is plain to see that the
petitioner was simply being truthful and candid to the court when he gave that answer as he could have honestly believed
that there should be a separate charge in writing.

We have consistently held that the power to punish for contempt should be used sparingly, so much so that only in cases of
clear and contumacious refusal to obey should the said power be exercised. But that is not so in this case. Petitioner merely
manifested to the court what he believed to be the correct answer to its question.

More importantly, the power to punish for contempt should be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive
principle; with the corrective rather than the retaliatory Idea of punishment. It has not escaped our notice that relations
between the petitioner and the respondent Judge were, to put it mildly, quite strained ever since the questioned dismissal of
the petitioner's complaint. As a matter of fact, the petitioner was twice declared in contempt of court by the respondent Judge
in the same case, and had even been confined in the city jail in San Carlos City. Additionally, despite the filing by the
petitioner of a notice of appeal from the second contempt order, the respondent Judge, giving various exams, has not
elevated the record of the case up to the present time, thereby depriving the petitioner of the opportunity to have the said
order reviewed by a higher court. The exchange of charges and counter-charges between them even resulted in the filing by
the petitioner of an administrative complaint against the respondent Judge.

Parenthetically, the imposition of the punishment of six months imprisonment for direct contempt, by order of the respondent
Judge dated September 7, 1981, was patently erroneous because pursuant to Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of court, the
punishment of imprisonment cannot exceed ten days. Six months imprisonment is imposable only in cases of indirect
contempt committed against a superior court or judge and after charge and hearing. 12

It is propitious to remind our judges that they should not be so thin-skinned or sensitive as to feel personally hurt or affronted
everytime a complaining lawyer momentarily loses his "cool" and writes in or utters less than polite language, more so when
the lawyer is merely expressing an honest opinion about them which may not altogether be flatter "After all what matters is
that a judge performs his duties in accordance with the dictates of his conscience and the light that God has given him. A
judge should never allow himself to be moved by pride, prejudice, passion, or pettiness in the performance of his
duties." 13 Especially when the judge has sensed that the lawyer's reason is already clouded with intense emotion, he is
caged upon to exercise a more tolerant attitude, and not to immediately wield the power of courts to punish for
contempt. For it can hardly be denied that such power can be quite easily abused by a vindictive, biased, and
unreasonable judge. It follows, however, that what is a fair and reasonable reaction on the part of a judge, to verbal
criticisms hurled against him, varies, depending on the circumstances.

On the other hand, lawyers are charged with the basic duty observe and maintain the respect due to the court of justice and
judicial officers;" 14 they vow solemnly to conduct themselves "with all good fidelity ... to the courts." 15 As a matter of fact,
the first canon of legal ethics enjoins them "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." The lawyer's duty to
render res civility, without fawning, to the courts is indeed essential to the orderly administration of justice. Thus,
lawyers should be courteous, fair, and circumspect not petulant, or combative, or bellicose in their dealings with the
courts. We had an occasion to say: "The use of disrespectful, intemperate, manifestly baseless, and malicious
statements by an attorney in his pleadings or motions is not only a violation of the lawyer's oath and a transgression of
the canons of professional ethics, but also constitutes direct contempt of court for which a lawyer may be disciplined. 16

The foregoing considered, the use by the petitioner, who is a member of the bar, of offensive and disrespectful language in
his letter addressed to the respondent Judge, as well as in his motions submitted to the court, cannot be countenanced by
us. On this regard, we sustain the respondent Judge in finding that contempt was committed, nevertheless we hold that, all
things considered, a reprimand would be sufficient sanction. Our holding in Ceniza vs. Sebastian finds relevance in the
instant case.

It thus appears that because of the deep-seated ill-will that e between the petitioner and respondent Judge
a fact made manifest by their voluminous pleading it would be most difficult for respondent judge to
act with restraint and judiciousness. The power to punish for contempt could then be a manifestation of
whim, caprice, or arbitrariness, or something analogous to it. Here, while the words were contumacious it is
hard to resist the conclusion, considering the background of this occurrence that respondent Judge in
imposing the ten-day sentence was not duly mindful of the exacting standard that preservation of the dignity
of his office not indulging his sense of grievance sets the limits of the authority he is entitled to exercise. 17

WHEREFORE, certiorari is GRANTED, quashing the warrant of arrest and declaring NULL and VOID the Order dated July
24,1981, the sentence imposing a six-month imprisonment for direct contempt, as well as the sentence imposing an indefinite
period of imprisonment for indirect contempt, without prejudice to whatever action the petitioner may wish to pursue against
the respondent Judge. The Temporary Restraining Order issued on March 31,1982 is hereby made permanent. The Order
dated February 12, 1982 is MODIFIED in that in lieu of imprisonment, the petitioner is hereby REPRIMAND ED for the
offensive and disrespectful statements in his letter and motions.

No Costs.

G.R. No. 102781. April 22, 1993.

BONIFACIO SANZ MACEDA, Presiding Judge, Branch 12, Regional Trial Court, Antique, petitioner,
vs.
HON. OMBUDSMAN CONRADO M. VASQUEZ AND ATTY. NAPOLEON A. ABIERA, respondents.

Bonifacio Sanz Maceda for and in his own behalf.

Public Attorney's Office for private respondent.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; JURISDICTION; OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN HAS JURISDICTION TO INVESTIGATE OFFENSE
COMMITTED BY JUDGE WHETHER OR NOT OFFENSE RELATES TO OFFICIAL DUTIES; REASON. Petitioner also
contends that the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over said cases despite this Court's ruling in Orap vs. Sandiganbayan,
since the offense charged arose from the judge's performance of his official duties, which is under the control and supervision
of the Supreme Court . . . The Court disagrees with the first part of petitioner's basic argument. There is nothing in the
decision in Orap that would restrict it only to offenses committed by a judge unrelated to his official duties. A judge who
falsifies his certificate of service is administratively liable to the Supreme Court for serious misconduct and inefficiency under
Section 1, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, and criminally liable to the State under the Revised Penal Code for his felonious
act.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; JURISDICTION TO INVESTIGATE OFFENSE RELATED TO OFFICIAL DUTIES SUBJECT TO PRIOR
ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TAKEN AGAINST JUDGE BY SUPREME COURT; REASON. However, We agree with
petitioner that in the absence of any administrative action taken against him by this Court with regard to his certificates of
service, the investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman encroaches into the Court's power of administrative
supervision over all courts and its personnel, in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PROCEDURE TO BE OBSERVED BY OMBUDSMAN REGARDING COMPLAINT AGAINST JUDGE OR
OTHER COURT EMPLOYEE; PURPOSE. Thus, the Ombudsman should first refer the matter of petitioner's certificates of
service to this Court for determination of whether said certificates reflected the true status of his pending case load, as the
Court has the necessary records to make such a determination . . . In fine, where a criminal complaint against a judge or
other court employee arises from their administrative duties, the Ombudsman must defer action on said complaint and refer
the same to this Court for determination whether said judge or court employee had acted within the scope of their
administrative duties.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; OMBUDSMAN CANNOT SUBPOENA SUPREME COURT AND ITS PERSONNEL; REASON. The
Ombudsman cannot compel this Court, as one of the three branches of government, to submit its records, or to allow its
personnel to testify on this matter, as suggested by public respondent Abiera in his affidavit-complaint. The rationale for the
foregoing pronouncement is evident in this case. Administratively, the question before Us is this: should a judge, having been
granted by this Court an extension of time to decide cases before him, report these cases in his certificate of service? As this
question had not yet been raised with, much less resolved by, this Court, how could the Ombudsman resolve the present
criminal complaint that requires the resolution of said question?

DECISION

NOCON, J p:

The issue in this petition for certiorari with prayer for preliminary mandatory injunction and/or restraining order is whether the
Office of the Ombudsman could entertain a criminal complaint for the alleged falsification of a judge's certification submitted
to the Supreme Court, and assuming that it can, whether a referral should be made first to the Supreme Court.

Petitioner Bonifacio Sanz Maceda, Presiding Judge of Branch 12 of the Regional Trial Court of Antique, seeks the review of
the following orders of the Office of the Ombudsman: (1) the Order dated September 18, 1991 denying the ex-parte motion to
refer to the Supreme Court filed by petitioner; and (2) the Order dated November 22, 1951 denying petitioner's motion for
reconsideration and directing petitioner to file his counter-affidavit and other controverting evidences.

In his affidavit-complaint dated April 18, 1991 filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, respondent Napoleon A. Abiera of
the Public Attorney's Office alleged that petitioner had falsified his Certificate of Service 1 dated February 6, 1989, by
certifying "that all civil and criminal cases which have been submitted for decision or determination for a period of 90 days
have been determined and decided on or before January 31, 1998," when in truth and in fact, petitioner knew that no
decision had been rendered in five (5) civil and ten (10) criminal cases that have been submitted for decision. Respondent
Abiera further alleged that petitioner similarly falsified his certificates of service for the months of February, April, May, June,
July and August, all in 1989; and the months beginning January up to September 1990, or for a total of seventeen (17)
months.

On the other hand, petitioner contends that he had been granted by this Court an extension of ninety (90) days to decide the
aforementioned cases.

Petitioner also contends that the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over said case despite this Court's ruling in Orap vs.
Sandiganbayan, 2 since the offense charged arose from the judge's performance of his official duties, which is under the
control and supervision of the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the investigation of the Ombudsman constitutes an
encroachment into the Supreme Court's constitutional duty of supervision over all inferior courts.

The Court disagrees with the first Part of petitioner's basic argument. There is nothing in the decision in Orap that would
restrict it only to offenses committed by a judge unrelated to his official duties. A judge who falsifies his certificate of service is
administratively liable to the Supreme Court for serious misconduct and inefficiency under Section 1, Rule 140 of the Rules of
Court, and criminally liable to the State under the Revised Penal Code for his felonious act.

However, We agree with petitioner that in the absence of any administrative action taken against him by this Court with
regard to his certificates of service, the investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman encroaches into the Court's power
of administrative supervision over all courts and its personnel, in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.

Article VIII, section 6 of the 1987 Constitution exclusively vests in the Supreme Court administrative supervision over all
courts and court personnel, from the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals down to the lowest municipal trial court clerk.
By virtue of this power, it is only the Supreme Court that can oversee the judges' and court personnel's compliance with all
laws, and take the proper administrative action against them if they commit any violation thereof. No other branch of
government may intrude into this power, without running afoul of the doctrine of separation of powers.
The Ombudsman cannot justify its investigation of petitioner on the powers granted to it by the Constitution, 3 for such a
justification not only runs counter to the specific mandate of the Constitution granting supervisory powers to the Supreme
Court over all courts and their personnel, but likewise undermines the independence of the judiciary.

Thus, the Ombudsman should first refer the matter of petitioner's certificates of service to this Court for determination of
whether said certificates reflected the true status of his pending case load, as the Court has the necessary records to make
such a determination. The Ombudsman cannot compel this Court, as one of the three branches of government, to submit its
records, or to allow its personnel to testify on this matter, as suggested by public respondent Abiera in his affidavit-complaint.
4

The rationale for the foregoing pronouncement is evident in this case. Administratively. the question before Us is this: should
a judge, having been granted by this Court an extension of time to decide cases before him, report these cases in his
certificate of service? As this question had not yet been raised with, much less resolved by, this Court. how could the
Ombudsman resolve the present criminal complaint that requires the resolution of said question?

In fine, where a criminal complaint against a Judge or other court employee arises from their administrative duties, the
Ombudsman must defer action on said complaint and refer the same to this Court for determination whether said Judge or
court employee had acted within the scope of their administrative duties.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The Ombudsman is hereby directed to dismiss the complaint filed
by public respondent Atty. Napoleon A. Abiera and to refer the same to this Court for appropriate action.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

[A.C. - CBD No. 471. June 10, 1999]

LT. LAMBERTO P. VILLAFLOR, complainant, vs. ALVIN T. SARITA, respondent.

RESOLUTION
KAPUNAN, J.:

This administrative case originated from a sworn affidavit-complaint [1] dated 14 March 1997, filed before
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Commission on Bar Discipline, by Lt. Lamberto P. Villaflor
seeking the disbarment of Atty. Alvin T. Sarita for disregarding the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
issued by the Court of Appeals in relation to the case entitled Lamberto Villaflor vs. Biyaya Corporation, et
al.[2]now pending with the same court.
Respondent Atty. Alvin T. Sarita is the counsel of Biyaya Corporation, the plaintiff in the ejectment
case[3] filed against complainant Lt. Lamberto P. Villaflor before the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 53, of
Kalookan City. Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Romanito A. Amatong decided the ejectment case in favor of
Biyaya Corporation. Complainant appealed this decision to the Regional Trial Court of Kalookan City,
Branch 131,[4] which affirmed the decision of the MTC. Not satisfied with the decision of the RTC,
complainant brought the case on appeal before the Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA G.R No.
50623.[5] Losing no time, complainant also filed with the Court of Appeals an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for the
Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the impending demolition of his family home.
In a Resolution dated 27 December 1996, the Court of Appeals granted the prayer for a TRO, the
dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, let a restraining order forthwith issue against defendants-appellees
including the public respondent Judge or Sheriff or any person under him from evicting and demolishing the
family house of the movant, pending appeal. x x x

SO ORDERED.

The TRO was specifically addressed to, and personally served on, the Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch
131, Kalookan City; the Sheriff/Deputy Sheriff, RTC Branch 131, Kalookan City; Atty. Alvin T. Sarita; and
Atty. Romeo F. Barza.[6] Despite the TRO issued by the Court of Appeals, respondent on 8 January 1997,
filed before the MTC an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for the Implementation and/or Enforcement of the Writ of
Demolition[7] which had already been issued by the trial court as early as 12 August 1996. In his motion
which is quoted hereunder, respondent stated the reason why he did not heed the TRO:
1. That last January 7, 1997, plaintiff received a Resolution dated December 27, 1996 from
the Thirteenth Division of the Court of Appeals granting the issuance of a Temporary Restraining
Order (TRO).
2. A close scrutiny of the afore-said Resolution including the Notice of Resolution and
the Temporary Restraining Order show that it was directed to the Honorable Presiding Judge
(Honorable Antonio J. Fineza) of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 131 and
to the assigned (deputy) sheriff thereon and NOT to this Honorable Court and its deputy sheriff.
3. The only conclusion therefrom is that the Honorable Metropolitan Trial Court is not restrained nor
prohibited from enforcing and/or implementing its judicial process such as the subject writ of
demolition.
XXX
On 9 January 1997, Judge Amatong granted the motion of respondent and issued an order [8] for the
implementation of the writ of demolition. The demolition order was actually carried out the next day, or on 10
January 1997, by the deputy sheriff of the lower court.[9]
In response to the situation, complainant filed before the Court of Appeals an action for Indirect
Contempt against respondent, Biyaya Corporation, Judge Amatong, And the Register of Deeds of Kalookan
City.
The Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated 20 February 1997, found respondent and his co-
defendants, Judge Amatong and Biyaya Corporation, guilty of indirect contempt. The dispositive portion of
the resolution states:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing disquisitions, defendants-appellees Biyaya


Corporation and MTC Judge Ramonito Amatong, and their counsel, Atty. Alvin Sarita are hereby
adjudged GUILTY OF CONTEMPT OF COURT as they are hereby fined to pay the amount of P30,000.00
each, as per SC Administrative Circular No. 22-95, amending Section 6, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, with
a warning that repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

Atty. Alvin Sarita is likewise REPRIMANDED for his contemptuous or improvident act despite receipt of Our
Restraining Order, without prejudice to any further administrative sanction the injured party may seek in the
proper forum.
Describing the unfortunate behavior of respondent, the Court of Appeals said:

Specifically, the Court is convinced that Atty. Alvin Sarita should answer for contempt of court for misleading
if not deceiving the defendant-appellee MTC Judge into doing a precipitate act of implementing the writ of
demolition of appellants family house which is restrained by this Court, or for making false allegations that
led his clients to commit a contemptuous act. (Cu Unjieng vs. Mitchell, 58 Phil. 476.) His misinterpretation of
the resolution is no defense otherwise, all lawyers can effectively avoid restraining orders of the higher court
by arguing around the bush.[10]

The Court of Appeals also granted the prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory
injunction and ordered Biyaya Corporation and Judge Amatong to immediately restore the demolished
family house of complainant or, return to him the estimated value of the same.
Thereafter, complainant filed a case for disbarment against respondent before the IBP Commission on
Bar Discipline. The commissioner[11] assigned to investigate the case issued an order[12] dated 3 September
1997, directing respondent to file his answer or comment to the complaint. The period of time allotted to
answer the complaint lapsed without respondent submitting his comment. On 8 December 1997, an
order[13] was issued by the investigating commissioner requiring the parties to attend the hearing of the case
on 10 February 1998. Respondent failed to appear therein. The hearing was postponed and reset to 6
March 1998. A notice of hearing[14] was sent to respondent but again he failed to attend the
proceeding. After giving respondent enough opportunity to face the charges against him, which the latter did
not avail, the case was submitted for resolution on 6 March 1998.[15]
The commissioners report dated 10 September 1998, recommending the disbarment of Atty. Alvin T.
Sarita stated in part:

As clearly established in the resolution of the Honorable Thirteenth Division of the Court of Appeals in its
disquisition on his culpability, Atty, Sarita is liable not only for deliberately misleading if not deceiving the
defendant-appellee MTC Judge into violating the appellate courts restraining order, but also for making false
allegations that led his clients to commit a contemptuous act;

As a member of the Bar, Atty. Sarita is mandated by his oath to obey the laws as well as the duly constituted
authorities therein and not to do any falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court;

In filing his urgent ex-parte motion to implement the writ of demolition issued against the residence of the
complainant, Atty. Sarita was well-aware that what he was seeking to do was specifically restrained by the
court of Appeals in no uncertain terms. Even if we were inclined, in a gesture of utmost liberality, to hold for
Atty. Saritas (sic) and resolve any doubts in his favor, we are simply overwhelmed by the thought that as a
lawyer, Atty. Sarita knew quite well or must have known quite well that what he was asking for in his motion
was violative not only of an order from the second highest court but more personally was violative of his own
oath as a lawyer;

The findings of the Court of Appeals says it all. What all the more moves the undersigned to recommend the
ultimate penalty of disbarment against Atty. Alvin T. Sarita is the evident, even palpable disdain, in which he
clearly holds this Office in particular, and the Integrated Bar in general. Nowhere is this disdain more felt
than in Atty. Saritas deliberate and pointed refusal, not only to file an Answer to the complaint against him
but also his unjustified refusal to appear before this Office despite repeated notices. It appears that Atty.
Sarita is beyond caring for whatever sanctions this Office may recommend against him. Surely, he cannot
turn his back on the possibility that the complainants prayer may be granted given the seriousness of his
(Saritas) misdeeds. But then, considering that Atty. Sarita has no compunctions about misleading a judge of
the Metropolitan Trial Court into disregarding and violating an order from the Court of Appeals, it is no
surprise that he would ignore the Commission on Bar Discipline;

We recommend for the disbarment of Atty. Alvin T. Sarita.

In its 4 December 1998 Resolution, the IBP Board of Governors resolved to adopt the findings of the
investigating commissioner, to wit:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Resolution/Decision as Annex A; and finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record
and the applicable laws and rules, Respondent Atty. Alvin T. Sarita is DISBARRED from the practice of law.

The facts and evidence obtaining in this case clearly reveal respondents failure to live up to his duties
as a member of the Bar in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Lawyers Oath and
Section 20 (b), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, thus warranting disciplinary sanction.
As an officer of the court, it is the duty of a lawyer to uphold the dignity and authority of the court, to
which he owes fidelity, according to the oath he has taken. It is his foremost responsibility to observe and
maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers. [16] The highest form of respect to the
judicial authority is shown by a lawyers obedience to court orders and processes.
Atty. Alvin T. Sarita committed an immeasurable disservice to the judicial system when he openly defied
the TRO issued by the Court of Appeals. By such act, he deliberately disregarded or ignored his solemn
oath to conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his knowledge and discretion, with all good
fidelity to the courts. He neglected his duties to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice
and judicial officers,[17] and to act with candor, fairness and good faith to the courts.[18]
Moreover, even assuming ex gratia argumenti that the TRO issued by the Court of Appeals was
ambiguous in its phraseology, respondent should have carried out the intent and the spirit of the said TRO
rather than choose to be narrowly technical in interpreting and implementing the same. In De Leon vs.
Torres,[19] this Court said:

We desire to call attention to the fact that courts orders, however erroneous they may be, must be
respected, especially by the bar or the lawyers who are themselves officers of the courts. Court orders are
to be respected not because the judges who issue them should be respected, but because of the respect
and consideration that should be extended to the judicial branch of the Government. This is absolutely
essential if our Government is to be a government of laws and not of men. Respect must be had not
because of the incumbents to the positions, but because of the authority that vests in them. Disrespect to
judicial incumbents is disrespect to that branch of the Government to which they belong, as well as to the
State which has instituted the judicial system.

Not only did respondent disobey the order of the Court of Appeals, he also misled the trial court judge
into issuing the order to implement the writ of demolition which led to the destruction of the family home of
complainant. In doing so, respondent violated his oath of office and Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not do any falsehood nor consent to the doing
of any in court. Surely, such conduct of respondent is starkly unbecoming of an officer of the court.
Respondents behavior also exhibited his reckless and unfeeling attitude towards the complainant. By
disobeying the TRO issued by the Court of Appeals, he inflicted deep physical and moral injury upon
complainant and his family by making them homeless. Obviously, it did not matter to him whether
complainant and his family would still have a place to stay as long as he won the case for his client. We
would like to emphasize that a lawyers responsibility to protect and advance the interests of his client does
not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives and malicious intentions against the other party.
[20]
Respondent failed to live up to this expectation.
We find the complaint against respondent fully substantiated by the evidence. However, we believe that
the penalty of disbarment imposed by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is too
severe and, hereby reduce it to suspension for two (2) years from the practice of law.[21]
ACCORDINGLY, respondent Atty. Alvin T. Sarita is hereby SUSPENDED for two (2) years from the
practice of law and from the enjoyment of all rights and privileges appurtenant to membership in the
Philippine Bar, effective immediately.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
all courts throughout the country.
SO ORDERED.
A.M. No. 10-10-4-SC March 8, 2011

RE: LETTER OF THE UP LAW FACULTY ENTITLED "RESTORING INTEGRITY: A STATEMENT BY THE FACULTY OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND
MISREPRESENTATION IN THE SUPREME COURT"

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

For disposition of the Court are the various submissions of the 37 respondent law professors 1 in response to the Resolution
dated October 19, 2010 (the Show Cause Resolution), directing them to show cause why they should not be disciplined as
members of the Bar for violation of specific provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility enumerated therein.

At the outset, it must be stressed that the Show Cause Resolution clearly dockets this as an administrative matter, not a
special civil action for indirect contempt under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, contrary to the dissenting opinion of Associate
Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno (Justice Sereno) to the said October 19, 2010 Show Cause Resolution. Neither is this a
disciplinary proceeding grounded on an allegedly irregularly concluded finding of indirect contempt as intimated by Associate
Justice Conchita Carpio Morales (Justice Morales) in her dissenting opinions to both the October 19, 2010 Show Cause
Resolution and the present decision.

With the nature of this case as purely a bar disciplinary proceeding firmly in mind, the Court finds that with the exception of
one respondent whose compliance was adequate and another who manifested he was not a member of the Philippine Bar,
the submitted explanations, being mere denials and/or tangential to the issues at hand, are decidedly unsatisfactory. The
proffered defenses even more urgently behoove this Court to call the attention of respondent law professors, who are
members of the Bar, to the relationship of their duties as such under the Code of Professional Responsibility to their civil
rights as citizens and academics in our free and democratic republic.

The provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility involved in this case are as follows:

CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal
processes.

RULE 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in
the legal system.

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 paper, the language or the
argument of opposing counsel, or the text of a decision or authority, or knowingly cite as law a provision already
rendered inoperative by repeal or amendment, or assert as a fact that which has not been proved.

Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.

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

RULE 11.05 A lawyer shall submit grievances against a Judge to the proper authorities only.

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.

Established jurisprudence will undeniably support our view that when lawyers speak their minds, they must ever be mindful of
their sworn oath to observe ethical standards of their profession, and in particular, avoid foul and abusive language to
condemn the Supreme Court, or any court for that matter, for a decision it has rendered, especially during the pendency of a
motion for such decisions reconsideration. The accusation of plagiarism against a member of this Court is not the real issue
here but rather this plagiarism issue has been used to deflect everyones attention from the actual concern of this Court to
determine by respondents explanations whether or not respondent members of the Bar have crossed the line of decency
and acceptable professional conduct and speech and violated the Rules of Court through improper intervention or
interference as third parties to a pending case. Preliminarily, it should be stressed that it was respondents themselves who
called upon the Supreme Court to act on their Statement, 2 which they formally submitted, through Dean Marvic M.V.F.
Leonen (Dean Leonen), for the Courts proper disposition. Considering the defenses of freedom of speech and academic
freedom invoked by the respondents, it is worth discussing here that the legal reasoning used in the past by this Court to rule
that freedom of expression is not a defense in administrative cases against lawyers for using intemperate speech in open
court or in court submissions can similarly be applied to respondents invocation of academic freedom. Indeed, it is precisely
because respondents are not merely lawyers but lawyers who teach law and mould the minds of young aspiring attorneys
that respondents own non-observance of the Code of Professional Responsibility, even if purportedly motivated by the purest
of intentions, cannot be ignored nor glossed over by this Court.

To fully appreciate the grave repercussions of respondents actuations, it is apropos to revisit the factual antecedents of this
case.

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

Antecedent Facts and Proceedings

On April 28, 2010, the ponencia of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo (Justice Del Castillo) in Vinuya, et al. v. Executive
Secretary (G.R. No. 162230) was promulgated. On May 31, 2010, the counsel 3 for Vinuya, et al. (the "Malaya Lolas"), filed a
Motion for Reconsideration of the Vinuya decision, raising solely the following grounds:

I. Our own constitutional and jurisprudential histories reject this Honorable Courts (sic) assertion that the Executives
foreign policy prerogatives are virtually unlimited; precisely, under the relevant jurisprudence and constitutional
provisions, such prerogatives are proscribed by international human rights and humanitarian standards, including
those provided for in the relevant international conventions of which the Philippines is a party. 4

II. This Honorable Court has confused diplomatic protection with the broader, if fundamental, responsibility of states
to protect the human rights of its citizens especially where the rights asserted are subject of erga omnes
obligations and pertain to jus cogens norms.5

On July 19, 2010,6 counsel for the Malaya Lolas, Attys. H. Harry L. Roque, Jr. (Atty. Roque) and Romel Regalado Bagares
(Atty. Bagares), filed a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration in G.R. No. 162230, where they posited for the first time
their charge of plagiarism as one of the grounds for reconsideration of the Vinuya decision. Among other arguments, Attys.
Roque and Bagares asserted that:

I.

IN THE FIRST PLACE, IT IS HIGHLY IMPROPER FOR THIS HONORABLE COURTS JUDGMENT OF APRIL 28, 2010 TO
PLAGIARIZE AT LEAST THREE SOURCES AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN 2009 IN THE YALE LAW JOURNAL OF
INTERNATIONAL LAW, A BOOK PUBLISHED BY THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS IN 2005 AND AN ARTICLE
PUBLISHED IN 2006 IN THE CASE WESTERN RESERVE JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND MAKE IT APPEAR
THAT THESE SOURCES SUPPORT THE JUDGMENTS ARGUMENTS FOR DISMISSING THE INSTANT PETITION
WHEN IN TRUTH, THE PLAGIARIZED SOURCES EVEN MAKE A STRONG CASE FOR THE PETITIONS CLAIMS. 7

They also claimed that "[i]n this controversy, the evidence bears out the fact not only of extensive plagiarism but of (sic) also
of twisting the true intents of the plagiarized sources by the ponencia to suit the arguments of the assailed Judgment for
denying the Petition."8

According to Attys. Roque and Bagares, the works allegedly plagiarized in the Vinuya decision were namely: (1) Evan J.
Criddle and Evan Fox-Decents article "A Fiduciary Theory of Jus Cogens;" 9 (2) Christian J. Tams book Enforcing Erga
Omnes Obligations in International Law; 10 and (3) Mark Ellis article "Breaking the Silence: On Rape as an International
Crime."11

On the same day as the filing of the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration on July 19, 2010, journalists Aries C. Rufo and
Purple S. Romero posted an article, entitled "SC justice plagiarized parts of ruling on comfort women," on the Newsbreak
website.12 The same article appeared on the GMA News TV website also on July 19, 2010. 13

On July 22, 2010, Atty. Roques column, entitled "Plagiarized and Twisted," appeared in the Manila Standard Today. 14 In the
said column, Atty. Roque claimed that Prof. Evan Criddle, one of the authors purportedly not properly acknowledged in the
Vinuya decision, confirmed that his work, co-authored with Prof. Evan Fox-Decent, had been plagiarized. Atty. Roque quoted
Prof. Criddles response to the post by Julian Ku regarding the news report 15 on the alleged plagiarism in the international law
blog, Opinio Juris. Prof. Criddle responded to Kus blog entry in this wise:

The newspapers16 [plagiarism] claims are based on a motion for reconsideration filed yesterday with the Philippine Supreme
Court yesterday. The motion is available here:

http://harryroque.com/2010/07/18/supplemental-motion-alleging-plagiarism-in-the-supreme-court/

The motion suggests that the Courts decision contains thirty-four sentences and citations that are identical to sentences and
citations in my 2009 YJIL article (co-authored with Evan Fox-Decent). Professor Fox-Decent and I were unaware of the
petitioners [plagiarism] allegations until after the motion was filed today.

Speaking for myself, the most troubling aspect of the courts jus cogens discussion is that it implies that the prohibitions
against crimes against humanity, sexual slavery, and torture are not jus cogens norms. Our article emphatically asserts the
opposite. The Supreme Courts decision is available
here:http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2010/april2010/162230.htm 17

On even date, July 22, 2010, Justice Del Castillo wrote to his colleagues on the Court in reply to the charge of plagiarism
contained in the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. 18

In a letter dated July 23, 2010, another purportedly plagiarized author in the Vinuya decision, Dr. Mark Ellis, wrote the Court,
to wit:
Your Honours:

I write concerning a most delicate issue that has come to my attention in the last few days.

Much as I regret to raise this matter before your esteemed Court, I am compelled, as a question of the integrity of my work as
an academic and as an advocate of human rights and humanitarian law, to take exception to the possible unauthorized use
of my law review article on rape as an international crime in your esteemed Courts Judgment in the case of Vinuya et al. v.
Executive Secretary et al. (G.R. No. 162230, Judgment of 28 April 2010).

My attention was called to the Judgment and the issue of possible plagiarism by the Philippine chapter of the Southeast Asia
Media Legal Defence Initiative (SEAMLDI),19 an affiliate of the London-based Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), where I
sit as trustee.

In particular, I am concerned about a large part of the extensive discussion in footnote 65, pp. 27-28, of the said Judgment of
your esteemed Court. I am also concerned that your esteemed Court may have misread the arguments I made in the article
and employed them for cross purposes. This would be ironic since the article was written precisely to argue for the
appropriate legal remedy for victims of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

I believe a full copy of my article as published in the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law in 2006 has been
made available to your esteemed Court. I trust that your esteemed Court will take the time to carefully study the arguments I
made in the article.

I would appreciate receiving a response from your esteemed Court as to the issues raised by this letter.

With respect,

(Sgd.)
Dr. Mark Ellis20

In Memorandum Order No. 35-2010 issued on July 27, 2010, the Court formed the Committee on Ethics and Ethical
Standards (the Ethics Committee) pursuant to Section 13, Rule 2 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court. In an En Banc
Resolution also dated July 27, 2010, the Court referred the July 22, 2010 letter of Justice Del Castillo to the Ethics
Committee. The matter was subsequently docketed as A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC.

On August 2, 2010, the Ethics Committee required Attys. Roque and Bagares to comment on the letter of Justice Del
Castillo.21

On August 9, 2010, a statement dated July 27, 2010, entitled "Restoring Integrity: A Statement by the Faculty of the
University of the Philippines College of Law on the Allegations of Plagiarism and Misrepresentation in the Supreme Court"
(the Statement), was posted in Newsbreaks website 22 and on Atty. Roques blog.23 A report regarding the statement also
appeared on various on-line news sites, such as the GMA News TV24 and the Sun Star25 sites, on the same date. The
statement was likewise posted at the University of the Philippines College of Laws bulletin board allegedly on August 10,
201026 and at said colleges website. 27

On August 11, 2010, Dean Leonen submitted a copy of the Statement of the University of the Philippines College of Law
Faculty (UP Law faculty) to the Court, through Chief Justice Renato C. Corona (Chief Justice Corona). The cover letter dated
August 10, 2010 of Dean Leonen read:

The Honorable
Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines

Through: Hon. Renato C. Corona


Chief Justice

Subject: Statement of faculty


from the UP College of Law
on the Plagiarism in the case of
Vinuya v Executive Secretary

Your Honors:

We attach for your information and proper disposition a statement signed by thirty[-]eight (38) 28members of the faculty of the
UP College of Law. We hope that its points could be considered by the Supreme Court en banc.

Respectfully,

(Sgd.)
Marvic M.V.F. Leonen
Dean and Professor of Law

(Emphases supplied.)

The copy of the Statement attached to the above-quoted letter did not contain the actual signatures of the alleged signatories
but only stated the names of 37 UP Law professors with the notation (SGD.) appearing beside each name. For convenient
reference, the text of the UP Law faculty Statement is reproduced here:

RESTORING INTEGRITY

A STATEMENT BY THE FACULTY OF


THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW
ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND MISREPRESENTATION
IN THE SUPREME COURT

An extraordinary act of injustice has again been committed against the brave Filipinas who had suffered abuse during a time
of war. After they courageously came out with their very personal stories of abuse and suffering as "comfort women", waited
for almost two decades for any meaningful relief from their own government as well as from the government of Japan, got
their hopes up for a semblance of judicial recourse in the case of Vinuya v. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 162230 (28 April
2010), they only had these hopes crushed by a singularly reprehensible act of dishonesty and misrepresentation by the
Highest Court of the land.

It is within this frame that the Faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law views the charge that an Associate
Justice of the Supreme Court committed plagiarism and misrepresentation in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary. The plagiarism
and misrepresentation are not only affronts to the individual scholars whose work have been appropriated without correct
attribution, but also a serious threat to the integrity and credibility of the Philippine Judicial System.

In common parlance, plagiarism is the appropriation and misrepresentation of another persons work as ones own. In the
field of writing, it is cheating at best, and stealing at worst. It constitutes a taking of someone elses ideas and expressions,
including all the effort and creativity that went into committing such ideas and expressions into writing, and then making it
appear that such ideas and expressions were originally created by the taker. It is dishonesty, pure and simple. A judicial
system that allows plagiarism in any form is one that allows dishonesty. Since all judicial decisions form part of the law of the
land, to allow plagiarism in the Supreme Court is to allow the production of laws by dishonest means. Evidently, this is a
complete perversion and falsification of the ends of justice.

A comparison of the Vinuya decision and the original source material shows that the ponente merely copied select portions of
other legal writers works and interspersed them into the decision as if they were his own, original work. Under the
circumstances, however, because the Decision has been promulgated by the Court, the Decision now becomes the Courts
and no longer just the ponentes. Thus the Court also bears the responsibility for the Decision. In the absence of any mention
of the original writers names and the publications from which they came, the thing speaks for itself.

So far there have been unsatisfactory responses from the ponente of this case and the spokesman of the Court.

It is argued, for example, that the inclusion of the footnotes from the original articles is a reference to the primary sources
relied upon. This cursory explanation is not acceptable, because the original authors writings and the effort they put into
finding and summarizing those primary sources are precisely the subject of plagiarism. The inclusion of the footnotes
together with portions of their writings in fact aggravates, instead of mitigates, the plagiarism since it provides additional
evidence of a deliberate intention to appropriate the original authors work of organizing and analyzing those primary sources.

It is also argued that the Members of the Court cannot be expected to be familiar with all legal and scholarly journals. This is
also not acceptable, because personal unfamiliarity with sources all the more demands correct and careful attribution and
citation of the material relied upon. It is a matter of diligence and competence expected of all Magistrates of the Highest
Court of the Land.

But a far more serious matter is the objection of the original writers, Professors Evan Criddle and Evan Fox-Descent, that the
High Court actually misrepresents the conclusions of their work entitled "A Fiduciary Theory of Jus Cogens," the main source
of the plagiarized text. In this article they argue that the classification of the crimes of rape, torture, and sexual slavery as
crimes against humanity have attained the status of jus cogens, making it obligatory upon the State to seek remedies on
behalf of its aggrieved citizens. Yet, the Vinuya decision uses parts of the same article to arrive at the contrary conclusion.
This exacerbates the intellectual dishonesty of copying works without attribution bytransforming it into an act of intellectual
fraud by copying works in order to mislead and deceive.

The case is a potential landmark decision in International Law, because it deals with State liability and responsibility for
personal injury and damage suffered in a time of war, and the role of the injured parties home States in the pursuit of
remedies against such injury or damage. National courts rarely have such opportunities to make an international impact. That
the petitioners were Filipino "comfort women" who suffered from horrific abuse during the Second World War made it
incumbent on the Court of last resort to afford them every solicitude. But instead of acting with urgency on this case, the
Court delayed its resolution for almost seven years, oblivious to the deaths of many of the petitioners seeking justice from the
Court. When it dismissed the Vinuya petition based on misrepresented and plagiarized materials, the Court decided this case
based on polluted sources. By so doing, the Supreme Court added insult to injury by failing to actually exercise its "power to
urge and exhort the Executive Department to take up the claims of the Vinuya petitioners. Its callous disposition, coupled with
false sympathy and nonchalance, belies a more alarming lack of concern for even the most basic values of decency and
respect. The reputation of the Philippine Supreme Court and the standing of the Philippine legal profession before other
Judiciaries and legal systems are truly at stake.

The High Court cannot accommodate less than absolute honesty in its decisions and cannot accept excuses for failure to
attain the highest standards of conduct imposed upon all members of the Bench and Bar because these undermine the very
foundation of its authority and power in a democratic society. Given the Courts recent history and the controversy that
surrounded it, it cannot allow the charges of such clear and obvious plagiarism to pass without sanction as this would only
further erode faith and confidence in the judicial system. And in light of the significance of this decision to the quest for justice
not only of Filipino women, but of women elsewhere in the world who have suffered the horrors of sexual abuse and
exploitation in times of war, the Court cannot coldly deny relief and justice to the petitioners on the basis of pilfered and
misinterpreted texts.

The Court cannot regain its credibility and maintain its moral authority without ensuring that its own conduct, whether
collectively or through its Members, is beyond reproach. This necessarily includes ensuring that not only the content, but also
the processes of preparing and writing its own decisions, are credible and beyond question. The Vinuya Decision must be
conscientiously reviewed and not casually cast aside, if not for the purpose of sanction, then at least for the purpose of
reflection and guidance. It is an absolutely essential step toward the establishment of a higher standard of professional care
and practical scholarship in the Bench and Bar, which are critical to improving the system of administration of justice in the
Philippines. It is also a very crucial step in ensuring the position of the Supreme Court as the Final Arbiter of all controversies:
a position that requires competence and integrity completely above any and all reproach, in accordance with the exacting
demands of judicial and professional ethics.

With these considerations, and bearing in mind the solemn duties and trust reposed upon them as teachers in the profession
of Law, it is the opinion of the Faculty of the University of the Philippine College of Law that:

(1) The plagiarism committed in the case of Vinuya v. Executive Secretary is unacceptable, unethical and in breach
of the high standards of moral conduct and judicial and professional competence expected of the Supreme Court;

(2) Such a fundamental breach endangers the integrity and credibility of the entire Supreme Court and undermines
the foundations of the Philippine judicial system by allowing implicitly the decision of cases and the establishment of
legal precedents through dubious means;

(3) The same breach and consequent disposition of the Vinuya case does violence to the primordial function of the
Supreme Court as the ultimate dispenser of justice to all those who have been left without legal or equitable
recourse, such as the petitioners therein;

(4) In light of the extremely serious and far-reaching nature of the dishonesty and to save the honor and dignity of
the Supreme Court as an institution, it is necessary for the ponente of Vinuya v. Executive Secretary to resign his
position, without prejudice to any other sanctions that the Court may consider appropriate;

(5) The Supreme Court must take this opportunity to review the manner by which it conducts research, prepares
drafts, reaches and finalizes decisions in order to prevent a recurrence of similar acts, and to provide clear and
concise guidance to the Bench and Bar to ensure only the highest quality of legal research and writing in pleadings,
practice, and adjudication.

Malcolm Hall, University of the Philippines College of Law, Quezon City, 27 July 2010.

(SGD.) MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN


Dean and Professor of Law

(SGD.) FROILAN M. BACUNGAN (SGD.) PACIFICO A. AGABIN


Dean (1978-1983) Dean (1989-1995)
(SGD.) MERLIN M. MAGALLONA (SGD.) SALVADOR T. CARLOTA
Dean (1995-1999) Dean (2005-2008) and Professor of Law

REGULAR FACULTY

(SGD.) CARMELO V. SISON (SGD.) JAY L. BATONGBACAL


Professor Assistant Professor

(SGD.) PATRICIA R.P. SALVADOR DAWAY (SGD.) EVELYN (LEO) D. BATTAD


Associate Dean and Associate Professor Assistant Professor

(SGD.) DANTE B. GATMAYTAN (SGD.) GWEN G. DE VERA


Associate Professor Assistant Professor

(SGD.) THEODORE O. TE (SGD.) SOLOMON F. LUMBA


Assistant Professor Assistant Professor

(SGD.) FLORIN T. HILBAY (SGD.) ROMMEL J. CASIS


Assistant Professor Assistant Professor

LECTURERS

(SGD.) JOSE GERARDO A. ALAMPAY (SGD.) JOSE C. LAURETA

(SGD.) ARTHUR P. AUTEA (SGD.) DINA D. LUCENARIO

(SGD.) ROSA MARIA J. BAUTISTA (SGD.) OWEN J. LYNCH

(SGD.) MARK R. BOCOBO (SGD.) ANTONIO M. SANTOS

(SGD.) DAN P. CALICA (SGD.) VICENTE V. MENDOZA

(SGD.) TRISTAN A. CATINDIG (SGD.) RODOLFO NOEL S. QUIMBO

(SGD.) SANDRA MARIE O. CORONEL (SGD.) GMELEEN FAYE B. TOMBOC

(SGD.) ROSARIO O. GALLO (SGD.) NICHOLAS FELIX L. TY

(SGD.) CONCEPCION L. JARDELEZA (SGD.) EVALYN G. URSUA

(SGD.) ANTONIO G.M. LA VIA (SGD.) RAUL T. VASQUEZ

(SGD.) SUSAN D. VILLANUEVA29


(SGD.) CARINA C. LAFORTEZA
(Underscoring supplied.)

Meanwhile, in a letter dated August 18, 2010, Prof. Christian J. Tams made known his sentiments on the alleged plagiarism
issue to the Court.30 We quote Prof. Tams letter here:

Glasgow, 18 August 2010

Vinuya, et al. v. Executive Secretary et al. (G.R. No. 162230)

Hon. Renato C. Corona, Chief Justice

Your Excellency,
My name is Christian J. Tams, and I am a professor of international law at the University of Glasgow. I am writing to you in
relation to the use of one of my publications in the above-mentioned judgment of your Honourable Court.

The relevant passage of the judgment is to be found on p. 30 of your Courts Judgment, in the section addressing the
concept of obligations erga omnes. As the table annexed to this letter shows, the relevant sentences were taken almost word
by word from the introductory chapter of my book Enforcing Obligations Erga Omnes in International Law (Cambridge
University Press 2005). I note that there is a generic reference to my work in footnote 69 of the Judgment, but as this is in
relation to a citation from another author (Bruno Simma) rather than with respect to the substantive passages reproduced in
the Judgment, I do not think it can be considered an appropriate form of referencing.

I am particularly concerned that my work should have been used to support the Judgments cautious approach to the erga
omnes concept. In fact, a most cursory reading shows that my books central thesis is precisely the opposite: namely that the
erga omnes concept has been widely accepted and has a firm place in contemporary international law. Hence the
introductory chapter notes that "[t]he present study attempts to demystify aspects of the very mysterious concept and
thereby to facilitate its implementation" (p. 5). In the same vein, the concluding section notes that "the preceding chapters
show that the concept is now a part of the reality of international law, established in the jurisprudence of courts and the
practice of States" (p. 309).

With due respect to your Honourable Court, I am at a loss to see how my work should have been cited to support as it
seemingly has the opposite approach. More generally, I am concerned at the way in which your Honourable Courts
Judgment has drawn on scholarly work without properly acknowledging it.

On both aspects, I would appreciate a prompt response from your Honourable Court.

I remain

Sincerely yours

(Sgd.)
Christian J. Tams31

In the course of the submission of Atty. Roque and Atty. Bagares exhibits during the August 26, 2010 hearing in the ethics
case against Justice Del Castillo, the Ethics Committee noted that Exhibit "J" (a copy of the Restoring Integrity Statement)
was not signed but merely reflected the names of certain faculty members with the letters (SGD.) beside the names. Thus,
the Ethics Committee directed Atty. Roque to present the signed copy of the said Statement within three days from the
August 26 hearing.32

It was upon compliance with this directive that the Ethics Committee was given a copy of the signed UP Law Faculty
Statement that showed on the signature pages the names of the full roster of the UP Law Faculty, 81 faculty members in all.
Indubitable from the actual signed copy of the Statement was that only 37 of the 81 faculty members appeared to have
signed the same. However, the 37 actual signatories to the Statement did not include former Supreme Court Associate
Justice Vicente V. Mendoza (Justice Mendoza) as represented in the previous copies of the Statement submitted by Dean
Leonen and Atty. Roque. It also appeared that Atty. Miguel R. Armovit (Atty. Armovit) signed the Statement although his name
was not included among the signatories in the previous copies submitted to the Court. Thus, the total number of ostensible
signatories to the Statement remained at 37.

The Ethics Committee referred this matter to the Court en banc since the same Statement, having been formally submitted
by Dean Leonen on August 11, 2010, was already under consideration by the Court. 33

In a Resolution dated October 19, 2010, the Court en banc made the following observations regarding the UP Law Faculty
Statement:

Notably, while the statement was meant to reflect the educators opinion on the allegations of plagiarism against Justice Del
Castillo, they treated such allegation not only as an established fact, but a truth. In particular, they expressed dissatisfaction
over Justice Del Castillos explanation on how he cited the primary sources of the quoted portions and yet arrived at a
contrary conclusion to those of the authors of the articles supposedly plagiarized.

Beyond this, however, the statement bore certain remarks which raise concern for the Court. The opening sentence alone is
a grim preamble to the institutional attack that lay ahead. It reads:

An extraordinary act of injustice has again been committed against the brave Filipinas who had suffered abuse during a time
of war.

The first paragraph concludes with a reference to the decision in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary as a reprehensible act of
dishonesty and misrepresentation by the Highest Court of the land. x x x.

The insult to the members of the Court was aggravated by imputations of deliberately delaying the resolution of the said
case, its dismissal on the basis of "polluted sources," the Courts alleged indifference to the cause of petitioners [in the
Vinuya case], as well as the supposed alarming lack of concern of the members of the Court for even the most basic values
of decency and respect.34 x x x. (Underscoring ours.)

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

While most agree that the right to criticize the judiciary is critical to maintaining a free and democratic society, there is also a
general consensus that healthy criticism only goes so far. Many types of criticism leveled at the judiciary cross the line to
become harmful and irresponsible attacks. These potentially devastating attacks and unjust criticism can threaten the
independence of the judiciary. The court must "insist on being permitted to proceed to the disposition of its business in an
orderly manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its functions and tending to embarrass the administration of
justice."

The Court could hardly perceive any reasonable purpose for the facultys less than objective comments except to discredit
the April 28, 2010 Decision in the Vinuya case and undermine the Courts honesty, integrity and competence in addressing
the motion for its reconsideration. As if the case on the comfort womens claims is not controversial enough, the UP Law
faculty would fan the flames and invite resentment against a resolution that would not reverse the said decision. This
runs contrary to their obligation as law professors and officers of the Court to be the first to uphold the dignity and authority of
this Court, to which they owe fidelity according to the oath they have taken as attorneys, and not to promote distrust in the
administration of justice.35 x x x. (Citations omitted; emphases and underscoring supplied.)

Thus, the Court directed Attys. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Froilan M. Bacungan, Pacifico A. Agabin, Merlin M. Magallona,
Salvador T. Carlota, Carmelo V. Sison, Patricia R.P. Salvador Daway, Dante B. Gatmaytan, Theodore O. Te, Florin T. Hilbay,
Jay L. Batongbacal, Evelyn (Leo) D. Battad, Gwen G. De Vera, Solomon F. Lumba, Rommel J. Casis, Jose Gerardo A.
Alampay, Miguel R. Armovit, Arthur P. Autea, Rosa Maria J. Bautista, Mark R. Bocobo, Dan P. Calica, Tristan A. Catindig,
Sandra Marie O. Coronel, Rosario O. Gallo, Concepcion L. Jardeleza, Antonio G.M. La Via, Carina C. Laforteza, Jose C.
Laureta, Owen J. Lynch, Rodolfo Noel S. Quimbo, Antonio M. Santos, Gmeleen Faye B. Tomboc, Nicholas Felix L. Ty, Evalyn
G. Ursua, Raul T. Vasquez, Susan D. Villanueva and Dina D. Lucenario to show cause, within ten (10) days from receipt of
the copy of the Resolution, why they should not be disciplined as members of the Bar for violation of Canons 1, 36 11 and 13
and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.37

Dean Leonen was likewise directed to show cause within the same period why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with for
violation of Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03 for submitting through his letter dated August 10, 2010, during the
pendency of G.R. No. 162230 and of the investigation before the Ethics Committee, for the consideration of the Court en
banc, a dummy which is not a true and faithful reproduction of the UP Law Faculty Statement. 38

In the same Resolution, the present controversy was docketed as a regular administrative matter.

Summaries of the Pleadings Filed by Respondents in Response to the October 19, 2010 Show Cause Resolution

On November 19, 2010, within the extension for filing granted by the Court, respondents filed the following pleadings:

(1) Compliance dated November 18, 2010 by counsels for 35 of the 37 respondents, excluding Prof. Owen Lynch
and Prof. Raul T. Vasquez, in relation to the charge of violation of Canons 1, 11 and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility;

(2) Compliance and Reservation dated November 18, 2010 by Prof. Rosa Maria T. Juan-Bautista in relation to the
same charge in par. (1);

(3) Compliance dated November 19, 2010 by counsel for Prof. Raul T. Vasquez in relation to the same charge in par.
(1);

(4) Compliance dated November 19, 2010 by counsels for Dean Leonen, in relation to the charge of violation of
Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03; and

(5) Manifestation dated November 19, 2010 by counsel for Prof. Owen Lynch.

Common Compliance of 35 Respondents (Excluding Prof. Owen Lynch and Prof. Raul Vasquez)

Thirty-five (35) of the respondent UP Law professors filed on November 19, 2010 a common compliance which was signed
by their respective counsels (the Common Compliance). In the "Preface" of said Common Compliance, respondents stressed
that "[they] issued the Restoring Integrity Statement in the discharge of the solemn duties and trust reposed upon them as
teachers in the profession of law, and as members of the Bar to speak out on a matter of public concern and one that is of
vital interest to them."39 They likewise alleged that "they acted with the purest of intentions" and pointed out that "none of
them was involved either as party or counsel"40 in the Vinuya case. Further, respondents "note with concern" that the Show
Cause Resolutions findings and conclusions were "a prejudgment that respondents indeed are in contempt, have
breached their obligations as law professors and officers of the Court, and have violated Canons [1], 11 and 13 and Rules
1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional Responsibility." 41

By way of explanation, the respondents emphasized the following points:

(a) Respondents alleged noble intentions

In response to the charges of failure to observe due respect to legal processes 42 and the courts43 and of tending to
influence, or giving the appearance of influencing the Court 44 in the issuance of their Statement, respondents assert
that their intention was not to malign the Court but rather to defend its integrity and credibility and to ensure
continued confidence in the legal system. Their noble motive was purportedly evidenced by the portion of their
Statement "focusing on constructive action."45 Respondents call in the Statement for the Court "to provide clear and
concise guidance to the Bench and Bar to ensure only the highest quality of legal research and writing in
adjudication," was reputedly "in keeping with strictures enjoining lawyers to participate in the development of the
legal system by initiating or supporting efforts in law reform and in the improvement of the administration of justice"
(under Canon 4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility) and to "promote respect for the law and legal processes"
(under Canon 1, id.).46 Furthermore, as academics, they allegedly have a "special interest and duty to vigilantly
guard against plagiarism and misrepresentation because these unwelcome occurrences have a profound impact in
the academe, especially in our law schools."47

Respondents further "[called] on this Court not to misconstrue the Restoring Integrity Statement as an institutional
attack x x x on the basis of its first and ninth paragraphs." 48 They further clarified that at the time the Statement was
allegedly drafted and agreed upon, it appeared to them the Court "was not going to take any action on the grave and
startling allegations of plagiarism and misrepresentation." 49 According to respondents, the bases for their belief were
(i) the news article published on July 21, 2010 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer wherein Court Administrator Jose
Midas P. Marquez was reported to have said that Chief Justice Corona would not order an inquiry into the
matter;50 and (ii) the July 22, 2010 letter of Justice Del Castillo which they claimed "did nothing but to downplay the
gravity of the plagiarism and misrepresentation charges." 51 Respondents claimed that it was their perception of the
Courts indifference to the dangers posed by the plagiarism allegations against Justice Del Castillo that impelled
them to urgently take a public stand on the issue.

(b) The "correctness" of respondents position that Justice Del Castillo committed plagiarism and should be held
accountable in accordance with the standards of academic writing

A significant portion of the Common Compliance is devoted to a discussion of the merits of respondents charge of
plagiarism against Justice Del Castillo. Relying on University of the Philippines Board of Regents v. Court of
Appeals52 and foreign materials and jurisprudence, respondents essentially argue that their position regarding the
plagiarism charge against Justice Del Castillo is the correct view and that they are therefore justified in issuing their
Restoring Integrity Statement. Attachments to the Common Compliance included, among others: (i) the letter dated
October 28, 2010 of Peter B. Payoyo, LL.M, Ph.D., 53 sent to Chief Justice Corona through Justice Sereno, alleging
that the Vinuya decision likewise lifted without proper attribution the text from a legal article by Mariana Salazar
Albornoz that appeared in the Anuario Mexicano De Derecho Internacional and from an International Court of Justice
decision; and (ii) a 2008 Human Rights Law Review Article entitled "Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and
International Human Rights Law" by Michael OFlaherty and John Fisher, in support of their charge that Justice Del
Castillo also lifted passages from said article without proper attribution, but this time, in his ponencia in Ang Ladlad
LGBT Party v. Commission on Elections.54

(c) Respondents belief that they are being "singled out" by the Court when others have likewise spoken on the
"plagiarism issue"

In the Common Compliance, respondents likewise asserted that "the plagiarism and misrepresentation allegations
are legitimate public issues."55 They identified various published reports and opinions, in agreement with and in
opposition to the stance of respondents, on the issue of plagiarism, specifically:

(i) Newsbreak report on July 19, 2010 by Aries Rufo and Purple Romero; 56

(ii) Column of Ramon Tulfo which appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 24, 2010; 57

(iii) Editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer published on July 25, 2010; 58

(iv) Letter dated July 22, 2010 of Justice Del Castillo published in the Philippine Star on July 30, 2010; 59
(v) Column of Former Intellectual Property Office Director General Adrian Cristobal, Jr. published in the
Business Mirror on August 5, 2010;60

(vi) Column of Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on August
8, 2010;61

(vii) News report regarding Senator Francis Pangilinans call for the resignation of Justice Del Castillo
published in the Daily Tribune and the Manila Standard Today on July 31, 2010; 62

(viii) News reports regarding the statement of Dean Cesar Villanueva of the Ateneo de Manila University
School of Law on the calls for the resignation of Justice Del Castillo published in The Manila Bulletin, the
Philippine Star and the Business Mirror on August 11, 2010;63

(ix) News report on expressions of support for Justice Del Castillo from a former dean of the Pamantasan ng
Lungsod ng Maynila, the Philippine Constitutional Association, the Judges Association of Bulacan and the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines Bulacan Chapter published in the Philippine Star on August 16,
2010;64 and

(x) Letter of the Dean of the Liceo de Cagayan University College of Law published in the Philippine Daily
Inquirer on August 10, 2010.65

In view of the foregoing, respondents alleged that this Court has singled them out for sanctions and the charge in the
Show Cause Resolution dated October 19, 2010 that they may have violated specific canons of the Code of
Professional Responsibility is unfair and without basis.

(d) Freedom of expression

In paragraphs 28 to 30 of the Common Compliance, respondents briefly discussed their position that in issuing their
Statement, "they should be seen as not only to be performing their duties as members of the Bar, officers of the
court, and teachers of law, but also as citizens of a democracy who are constitutionally protected in the exercise of
free speech."66 In support of this contention, they cited United States v. Bustos, 67 In re: Atty. Vicente Raul
Almacen, 68 and In the Matter of Petition for Declaratory Relief Re: Constitutionality of Republic Act 4880, Gonzales
v. Commission on Elections.69

(e) Academic freedom

In paragraphs 31 to 34 of the Common Compliance, respondents asserted that their Statement was also issued in the
exercise of their academic freedom as teachers in an institution of higher learning. They relied on Section 5 of the University
of the Philippines Charter of 2008 which provided that "[t]he national university has the right and responsibility to exercise
academic freedom." They likewise adverted to Garcia v. The Faculty Admission Committee, Loyola School of
Theology70 which they claimed recognized the extent and breadth of such freedom as to encourage a free and healthy
discussion and communication of a faculty members field of study without fear of reprisal. It is respondents view that had
they remained silent on the plagiarism issue in the Vinuya decision they would have "compromised [their] integrity and
credibility as teachers; [their silence] would have created a culture and generation of students, professionals, even lawyers,
who would lack the competence and discipline for research and pleading; or, worse, [that] their silence would have
communicated to the public that plagiarism and misrepresentation are inconsequential matters and that intellectual integrity
has no bearing or relevance to ones conduct." 71

In closing, respondents Common Compliance exhorted this Court to consider the following portion of the dissenting opinion
of Justice George A. Malcolm in Salcedo v. Hernandez, 72 to wit:

Respect for the courts can better be obtained by following a calm and impartial course from the bench than by an attempt to
compel respect for the judiciary by chastising a lawyer for a too vigorous or injudicious exposition of his side of a case. The
Philippines needs lawyers of independent thought and courageous bearing, jealous of the interests of their clients and
unafraid of any court, high or low, and the courts will do well tolerantly to overlook occasional intemperate language soon to
be regretted by the lawyer which affects in no way the outcome of a case. 73

On the matter of the reliefs to which respondents believe they are entitled, the Common Compliance stated, thus:

WHEREFORE:

A. Respondents, as citizens of a democracy, professors of law, members of the Bar and officers of the Court,
respectfully pray that:
1. the foregoing be noted; and

2. the Court reconsider and reverse its adverse findings in the Show Cause Resolution, including its
conclusions that respondents have: [a] breached their "obligation as law professors and officers of the Court
to be the first to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, and not to promote distrust in the
administration of justice;" and [b] committed "violations of Canons 10, 11, and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05
of the Code of Professional Responsibility."

B. In the event the Honorable Court declines to grant the foregoing prayer, respondents respectfully pray, in the
alternative, and in assertion of their due process rights, that before final judgment be rendered:

1. the Show Cause Resolution be set for hearing;

2. respondents be given a fair and full opportunity to refute and/or address the findings and conclusions of
fact in the Show Cause Resolution (including especially the finding and conclusion of a lack of malicious
intent), and in that connection, that appropriate procedures and schedules for hearing be adopted and
defined that will allow them the full and fair opportunity to require the production of and to present
testimonial, documentary, and object evidence bearing on the plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in
Vinuya v. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 162230, April 28, 2010) and In the Matter of the Charges of
Plagiarism, etc. Against Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC); and

3. respondents be given fair and full access to the transcripts, records, drafts, reports and submissions in or
relating to, and accorded the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses who were or could have been
called in In The Matter of the Charges of Plagiarism, etc. Against Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo
(A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC).74

Compliance and Reservation of Prof. Rosa Maria T. Juan-Bautista

Although already included in the Common Compliance, Prof. Rosa Maria T. Juan-Bautista (Prof. Juan-Bautista) filed a
separate Compliance and Reservation (the Bautista Compliance), wherein she adopted the allegations in the Common
Compliance with some additional averments.

Prof. Juan-Bautista reiterated that her due process rights allegedly entitled her to challenge the findings and conclusions in
the Show Cause Resolution. Furthermore, "[i]f the Restoring Integrity Statement can be considered indirect contempt, under
Section 3 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, such may be punished only after charge and hearing." 75

Prof. Juan-Bautista stressed that respondents signed the Statement "in good faith and with the best intentions to protect the
Supreme Court by asking one member to resign." 76 For her part, Prof. Juan-Bautista intimated that her deep disappointment
and sadness for the plight of the Malaya Lolas were what motivated her to sign the Statement.

On the point of academic freedom, Prof. Juan-Bautista cited jurisprudence 77 which in her view highlighted that academic
freedom is constitutionally guaranteed to institutions of higher learning such that schools have the freedom to determine for
themselves who may teach, what may be taught, how lessons shall be taught and who may be admitted to study and that
courts have no authority to interfere in the schools exercise of discretion in these matters in the absence of grave abuse of
discretion. She claims the Court has encroached on the academic freedom of the University of the Philippines and other
universities on their right to determine how lessons shall be taught.

Lastly, Prof. Juan-Bautista asserted that the Statement was an exercise of respondents constitutional right to freedom of
expression that can only be curtailed when there is grave and imminent danger to public safety, public morale, public health
or other legitimate public interest.78

Compliance of Prof. Raul T. Vasquez

On November 19, 2010, Prof. Raul T. Vasquez (Prof. Vasquez) filed a separate Compliance by registered mail (the Vasquez
Compliance). In said Compliance, Prof. Vasquez narrated the circumstances surrounding his signing of the Statement. He
alleged that the Vinuya decision was a topic of conversation among the UP Law faculty early in the first semester (of
academic year 2010-11) because it reportedly contained citations not properly attributed to the sources; that he was shown a
copy of the Statement by a clerk of the Office of the Dean on his way to his class; and that, agreeing in principle with the
main theme advanced by the Statement, he signed the same in utmost good faith. 79

In response to the directive from this Court to explain why he should not be disciplined as a member of the Bar under the
Show Cause Resolution, Prof. Vasquez also took the position that a lawyer has the right, like all citizens in a democratic
society, to comment on acts of public officers. He invited the attention of the Court to the following authorities: (a) In re:
Vicente Sotto;80 (b) In re: Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen;81 and (c) a discussion appearing in American Jurisprudence (AmJur)
2d.82 He claims that he "never had any intention to unduly influence, nor entertained any illusion that he could or should
influence, [the Court] in its disposition of the Vinuya case" 83 and that "attacking the integrity of [the Court] was the farthest
thing on respondents mind when he signed the Statement." 84 Unlike his colleagues, who wish to impress upon this Court the
purported homogeneity of the views on what constitutes plagiarism, Prof. Vasquez stated in his Compliance that:

13. Before this Honorable Court rendered its Decision dated 12 October 2010, some espoused the view that willful and
deliberate intent to commit plagiarism is an essential element of the same. Others, like respondent, were of the opinion that
plagiarism is committed regardless of the intent of the perpetrator, the way it has always been viewed in the academe. This
uncertainty made the issue a fair topic for academic discussion in the College. Now, this Honorable Court has ruled that
plagiarism presupposes deliberate intent to steal anothers work and to pass it off as ones own. 85 (Emphases supplied.)

Also in contrast to his colleagues, Prof. Vasquez was willing to concede that he "might have been remiss in correctly
assessing the effects of such language [in the Statement] and could have been more careful." 86 He ends his discussion with a
respectful submission that with his explanation, he has faithfully complied with the Show Cause Resolution and that the Court
will rule that he had not in any manner violated his oath as a lawyer and officer of the Court.

Separate Compliance of Dean Leonen regarding the charge of violation of Canon 10 in relation to his submission of a
"dummy" of the UP Law Faculty Statement to this Court

In his Compliance, Dean Leonen claimed that there were three drafts/versions of the UP Law Faculty Statement, which he
described as follows:

"Restoring Integrity I" which bears the entire roster of the faculty of the UP College of Law in its signing pages,
and the actual signatures of the thirty-seven (37) faculty members subject of the Show Cause Resolution. A copy
was filed with the Honorable Court by Roque and Butuyan on 31 August 2010 in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC.

"Restoring Integrity II" which does not bear any actual physical signature, but which reflects as signatories the
names of thirty-seven (37) members of the faculty with the notation "(SGD.)". A copy of Restoring Integrity II was
publicly and physically posted in the UP College of Law on 10 August 2010. Another copy of Restoring Integrity II
was also officially received by the Honorable Court from the Dean of the UP College of Law on 11 August 2010,
almost three weeks before the filing of Restoring Integrity I.

"Restoring Integrity III" which is a reprinting of Restoring Integrity II, and which presently serves as the official file
copy of the Deans Office in the UP College of Law that may be signed by other faculty members who still wish to. It
bears the actual signatures of the thirty- seven original signatories to Restoring Integrity I above their printed names
and the notation "(SGD.") and, in addition, the actual signatures of eight (8) other members of the faculty above their
handwritten or typewritten names.87

For purposes of this discussion, only Restoring Integrity I and Restoring Integrity II are relevant since what Dean Leonen has
been directed to explain are the discrepancies in the signature pages of these two documents. Restoring Integrity III was
never submitted to this Court.

On how Restoring Integrity I and Restoring Integrity II were prepared and came about, Dean Leonen alleged, thus:

2.2 On 27 July 2010, sensing the emergence of a relatively broad agreement in the faculty on a draft statement,
Dean Leonen instructed his staff to print the draft and circulate it among the faculty members so that those who
wished to may sign. For this purpose, the staff encoded the law faculty roster to serve as the printed drafts signing
pages. Thus did the first printed draft of the Restoring Integrity Statement, Restoring Integrity I, come into being.

2.3. As of 27 July 2010, the date of the Restoring Integrity Statement, Dean Leonen was unaware that a Motion for
Reconsideration of the Honorable Courts Decision in Vinuya vs. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 162230, 28 April
2010) had already been filed, or that the Honorable Court was in the process of convening its Committee on Ethics
and Ethical Standards in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC.

2.4. Dean Leonens staff then circulated Restoring Integrity I among the members of the faculty. Some faculty
members visited the Deans Office to sign the document or had it brought to their classrooms in the College of Law,
or to their offices or residences. Still other faculty members who, for one reason or another, were unable to sign
Restoring Integrity I at that time, nevertheless conveyed to Dean Leonen their assurances that they would sign as
soon as they could manage.

2.5. Sometime in the second week of August, judging that Restoring Integrity I had been circulated long enough,
Dean Leonen instructed his staff to reproduce the statement in a style and manner appropriate for posting in the
College of Law. Following his own established practice in relation to significant public issuances, he directed them to
reformat the signing pages so that only the names of those who signed the first printed draft would appear, together
with the corresponding "(SGD.)" note following each name. Restoring Integrity II thus came into being. 88

According to Dean Leonen, the "practice of eliminating blanks opposite or above the names of non-signatories in the final
draft of significant public issuances, is meant not so much for aesthetic considerations as to secure the integrity of such
documents."89 He likewise claimed that "[p]osting statements with blanks would be an open invitation to vandals and
pranksters."90

With respect to the inclusion of Justice Mendozas name as among the signatories in Restoring Integrity II when in fact he did
not sign Restoring Integrity I, Dean Leonen attributed the mistake to a miscommunication involving his administrative officer.
In his Compliance, he narrated that:

2.7. Upon being presented with a draft of Restoring Integrity II with the reformatted signing pages, Dean Leonen
noticed the inclusion of the name of Justice Mendoza among the "(SGD.)" signatories. As Justice Mendoza was not
among those who had physically signed Restoring Integrity I when it was previously circulated, Dean Leonen called
the attention of his staff to the inclusion of the Justices name among the "(SGD.)" signatories in Restoring Integrity
II.

2.8. Dean Leonen was told by his administrative officer that she had spoken to Justice Mendoza over the phone on
Friday, 06 August 2010. According to her, Justice Mendoza had authorized the dean to sign the Restoring Integrity
Statement for him as he agreed fundamentally with its contents. Also according to her, Justice Mendoza was unable
at that time to sign the Restoring Integrity Statement himself as he was leaving for the United States the following
week. It would later turn out that this account was not entirely accurate.91(Underscoring and italics supplied.)

Dean Leonen claimed that he "had no reason to doubt his administrative officer, however, and so placed full reliance on her
account"92 as "[t]here were indeed other faculty members who had also authorized the Dean to indicate that they were
signatories, even though they were at that time unable to affix their signatures physically to the document." 93

However, after receiving the Show Cause Resolution, Dean Leonen and his staff reviewed the circumstances surrounding
their effort to secure Justice Mendozas signature. It would turn out that this was what actually transpired:

2.22.1. On Friday, 06 August 2010, when the deans staff talked to Justice Mendoza on the phone, he [Justice
Mendoza] indeed initially agreed to sign the Restoring Integrity Statement as he fundamentally agreed with its
contents. However, Justice Mendoza did not exactly say that he authorized the dean to sign the Restoring Integrity
Statement. Rather, he inquired if he could authorize the dean to sign it for him as he was about to leave for the
United States. The deans staff informed him that they would, at any rate, still try to bring the Restoring Integrity
Statement to him.

2.22.2. Due to some administrative difficulties, Justice Mendoza was unable to sign the Restoring Integrity
Statement before he left for the U.S. the following week.

2.22.3. The staff was able to bring Restoring Integrity III to Justice Mendoza when he went to the College to teach on
24 September 2010, a day after his arrival from the U.S. This time, Justice Mendoza declined to sign. 94

According to the Dean:

2.23. It was only at this time that Dean Leonen realized the true import of the call he received from Justice Mendoza in late
September. Indeed, Justice Mendoza confirmed that by the time the hard copy of the Restoring Integrity Statement was
brought to him shortly after his arrival from the U.S., he declined to sign it because it had already become controversial. At
that time, he predicted that the Court would take some form of action against the faculty. By then, and under those
circumstances, he wanted to show due deference to the Honorable Court, being a former Associate Justice and not wishing
to unduly aggravate the situation by signing the Statement. 95(Emphases supplied.)

With respect to the omission of Atty. Armovits name in the signature page of Restoring Integrity II when he was one of the
signatories of Restoring Integrity I and the erroneous description in Dean Leonens August 10, 2010 letter that the version of
the Statement submitted to the Court was signed by 38 members of the UP Law Faculty, it was explained in the Compliance
that:

Respondent Atty. Miguel Armovit physically signed Restoring Integrity I when it was circulated to him. However, his name was
inadvertently left out by Dean Leonens staff in the reformatting of the signing pages in Restoring Integrity II. The dean
assumed that his name was still included in the reformatted signing pages, and so mentioned in his cover note to Chief
Justice Corona that 38 members of the law faculty signed (the original 37 plus Justice Mendoza.) 96

Dean Leonen argues that he should not be deemed to have submitted a dummy of the Statement that was not a true and
faithful reproduction of the same. He emphasized that the main body of the Statement was unchanged in all its three versions
and only the signature pages were not the same. This purportedly is merely "reflective of [the Statements] essential nature
as a live public manifesto meant to continuously draw adherents to its message, its signatory portion is necessarily evolving
and dynamic x x x many other printings of [the Statement] may be made in the future, each one reflecting the same text but
with more and more signatories."97 Adverting to criminal law by analogy, Dean Leonen claims that "this is not an instance
where it has been made to appear in a document that a person has participated in an act when the latter did not in fact so
participate"98 for he "did not misrepresent which members of the faculty of the UP College of Law had agreed with the
Restoring Integrity Statement proper and/or had expressed their desire to be signatories thereto." 99

In this regard, Dean Leonen believes that he had not committed any violation of Canon 10 or Rules 10.01 and 10.02 for he
did not mislead nor misrepresent to the Court the contents of the Statement or the identities of the UP Law faculty members
who agreed with, or expressed their desire to be signatories to, the Statement. He also asserts that he did not commit any
violation of Rule 10.03 as he "coursed [the Statement] through the appropriate channels by transmitting the same to
Honorable Chief Justice Corona for the latters information and proper disposition with the hope that its points would be duly
considered by the Honorable Court en banc."100 Citing Rudecon Management Corporation v. Camacho, 101 Dean Leonen
posits that the required quantum of proof has not been met in this case and that no dubious character or motivation for the
act complained of existed to warrant an administrative sanction for violation of the standard of honesty provided for by the
Code of Professional Responsibility.102

Dean Leonen ends his Compliance with an enumeration of nearly identical reliefs as the Common Compliance, including the
prayers for a hearing and for access to the records, evidence and witnesses allegedly relevant not only in this case but also
in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, the ethical investigation involving Justice Del Castillo.

Manifestation of Prof. Owen Lynch (Lynch Manifestation)

For his part, Prof. Owen Lynch (Prof. Lynch) manifests to this Court that he is not a member of the Philippine bar; but he is a
member of the bar of the State of Minnesota. He alleges that he first taught as a visiting professor at the UP College of Law
in 1981 to 1988 and returned in the same capacity in 2010. He further alleges that "[h]e subscribes to the principle, espoused
by this Court and the Supreme Court of the United States, that [d]ebate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and
wide open and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and
public officials."103 In signing the Statement, he believes that "the right to speak means the right to speak effectively." 104 Citing
the dissenting opinions in Manila Public School Teachers Association v. Laguio, Jr., 105 Prof. Lynch argued that "[f]or speech to
be effective, it must be forceful enough to make the intended recipients listen" 106 and "[t]he quality of education would
deteriorate in an atmosphere of repression, when the very teachers who are supposed to provide an example of courage and
self-assertiveness to their pupils can speak only in timorous whispers." 107 Relying on the doctrine in In the Matter of Petition
for Declaratory Relief Re: Constitutionality of Republic Act 4880, Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, 108 Prof. Lynch
believed that the Statement did not pose any danger, clear or present, of any substantive evil so as to remove it from the
protective mantle of the Bill of Rights (i.e., referring to the constitutional guarantee on free speech). 109 He also stated that he
"has read the Compliance of the other respondents to the Show Cause Resolution" and that "he signed the Restoring
Integrity Statement for the same reasons they did."110

ISSUES

Based on the Show Cause Resolution and a perusal of the submissions of respondents, the material issues to be resolved in
this case are as follows:

1.) Does the Show Cause Resolution deny respondents their freedom of expression?

2.) Does the Show Cause Resolution violate respondents academic freedom as law professors?

3.) Do the submissions of respondents satisfactorily explain why they should not be disciplined as Members of the
Bar under Canons 1, 11, and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional Responsibility?

4.) Does the separate Compliance of Dean Leonen satisfactorily explain why he should not be disciplined as a
Member of the Bar under Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03?

5.) Are respondents entitled to have the Show Cause Resolution set for hearing and in relation to such hearing, are
respondents entitled to require the production or presentation of evidence bearing on the plagiarism and
misrepresentation issues in the Vinuya case (G.R. No. 162230) and the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo
(A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC) and to have access to the records and transcripts of, and the witnesses and evidence
presented, or could have been presented, in the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC)?

DISCUSSION

The Show Cause Resolution does not deny respondents their freedom of expression.

It is respondents collective claim that the Court, with the issuance of the Show Cause Resolution, has interfered with
respondents constitutionally mandated right to free speech and expression. It appears that the underlying assumption behind
respondents assertion is the misconception that this Court is denying them the right to criticize the Courts decisions and
actions, and that this Court seeks to "silence" respondent law professors dissenting view on what they characterize as a
"legitimate public issue."
This is far from the truth. A reading of the Show Cause Resolution will plainly show that it was neither the fact that
respondents had criticized a decision of the Court nor that they had charged one of its members of plagiarism that motivated
the said Resolution. It was the manner of the criticism and the contumacious language by which respondents, who are not
parties nor counsels in the Vinuya case, have expressed their opinion in favor of the petitioners in the said pending case for
the "proper disposition" and consideration of the Court that gave rise to said Resolution. The Show Cause Resolution
painstakingly enumerated the statements that the Court considered excessive and uncalled for under the circumstances
surrounding the issuance, publication, and later submission to this Court of the UP Law facultys Restoring Integrity
Statement.

To reiterate, it was not the circumstance that respondents expressed a belief that Justice Del Castillo was guilty of plagiarism
but rather their expression of that belief as "not only as an established fact, but a truth" 111 when it was "[o]f public knowledge
[that there was] an ongoing investigation precisely to determine the truth of such allegations." 112 It was also pointed out in the
Show Cause Resolution that there was a pending motion for reconsideration of the Vinuya decision. 113 The Show Cause
Resolution made no objections to the portions of the Restoring Integrity Statement that respondents claimed to be
"constructive" but only asked respondents to explain those portions of the said Statement that by no stretch of the
imagination could be considered as fair or constructive, to wit:

Beyond this, however, the statement bore certain remarks which raise concern for the Court. The opening sentence alone is
a grim preamble to the institutional attack that lay ahead. It reads:

An extraordinary act of injustice has again been committed against the brave Filipinas who had suffered abuse during a time
of war.

The first paragraph concludes with a reference to the decision in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary as a reprehensible act of
dishonesty and misrepresentation by the Highest Court of the land. x x x.

The insult to the members of the Court was aggravated by imputations of deliberately delaying the resolution of the said
case, its dismissal on the basis of "polluted sources," the Courts alleged indifference to the cause of petitioners [in the
Vinuya case], as well as the supposed alarming lack of concern of the members of the Court for even the most basic values
of decency and respect.114 x x x. (Underscoring ours.)

To be sure, the Show Cause Resolution itself recognized respondents freedom of expression when it stated that:

While most agree that the right to criticize the judiciary is critical to maintaining a free and democratic society, there is also a
general consensus that healthy criticism only goes so far. Many types of criticism leveled at the judiciary cross the line to
become harmful and irresponsible attacks. These potentially devastating attacks and unjust criticism can threaten the
independence of the judiciary. The court must "insist on being permitted to proceed to the disposition of its business in an
orderly manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its functions and tending to embarrass the administration of
justice."

The Court could hardly perceive any reasonable purpose for the facultys less than objective comments except to discredit
the April 28, 2010 Decision in the Vinuya case and undermine the Courts honesty, integrity and competence in addressing
the motion for its reconsideration. As if the case on the comfort womens claims is not controversial enough, the UP Law
faculty would fan the flames and invite resentment against a resolution that would not reverse the said decision. This
runs contrary to their obligation as law professors and officers of the Court to be the first to uphold the dignity and authority of
this Court, to which they owe fidelity according to the oath they have taken as attorneys, and not to promote distrust in the
administration of justice.115 x x x. (Citations omitted; emphases and underscoring supplied.)

Indeed, in a long line of cases, including those cited in respondents submissions, this Court has held that the right to criticize
the courts and judicial officers must be balanced against the equally primordial concern that the independence of the
Judiciary be protected from due influence or interference. In cases where the critics are not only citizens but members of the
Bar, jurisprudence has repeatedly affirmed the authority of this Court to discipline lawyers whose statements regarding the
courts and fellow lawyers, whether judicial or extrajudicial, have exceeded the limits of fair comment and common decency.

As early as the 1935 case of Salcedo v. Hernandez, 116 the Court found Atty. Vicente J. Francisco both guilty of contempt and
liable administratively for the following paragraph in his second motion for reconsideration:

We should like frankly and respectfully to make it of record that the resolution of this court, denying our motion for
reconsideration, is absolutely erroneous and constitutes an outrage to the rights of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a
mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls in the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas. We wish to exhaust all the means
within our power in order that this error may be corrected by the very court which has committed it, because we should not
want that some citizen, particularly some voter of the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, resort to the press publicly to
denounce, as he has a right to do, the judicial outrage of which the herein petitioner has been the victim, and because it is
our utmost desire to safeguard the prestige of this honorable court and of each and every member thereof in the eyes of the
public. But, at the same time we wish to state sincerely that erroneous decisions like these, which the affected party and his
thousands of voters will necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes of 'sakdalism' and make the public lose
confidence in the administration of justice.117 (Emphases supplied.)

The highlighted phrases were considered by the Court as neither justified nor necessary and further held that:

[I]n order to call the attention of the court in a special way to the essential points relied upon in his argument and to
emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons stated in his said motion were sufficient and the phrases in question were
superfluous. In order to appeal to reason and justice, it is highly improper and amiss to make trouble and resort to threats, as
Attorney Vicente J. Francisco has done, because both means are annoying and good practice can never sanction them by
reason of their natural tendency to disturb and hinder the free exercise of a serene and impartial judgment, particularly in
judicial matters, in the consideration of questions submitted for resolution.

There is no question that said paragraph of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's motion contains a more or less veiled threat to the
court because it is insinuated therein, after the author shows the course which the voters of Tiaong should follow in case he
fails in his attempt, that they will resort to the press for the purpose of denouncing, what he claims to be a judicial outrage of
which his client has been the victim; and because he states in a threatening manner with the intention of predisposing the
mind of the reader against the court, thus creating an atmosphere of prejudices against it in order to make it odious in the
public eye, that decisions of the nature of that referred to in his motion promote distrust in the administration of justice and
increase the proselytes of sakdalism, a movement with seditious and revolutionary tendencies the activities of which, as is of
public knowledge, occurred in this country a few days ago. This cannot mean otherwise than contempt of the dignity of the
court and disrespect of the authority thereof on the part of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, because he presumes that the court
is so devoid of the sense of justice that, if he did not resort to intimidation, it would maintain its error notwithstanding the fact
that it may be proven, with good reasons, that it has acted erroneously.118 (Emphases supplied.)

Significantly, Salcedo is the decision from which respondents culled their quote from the minority view of Justice Malcolm.
Moreover, Salcedo concerned statements made in a pleading filed by a counsel in a case, unlike the respondents here, who
are neither parties nor counsels in the Vinuya case and therefore, do not have any standing at all to interfere in
the Vinuya case. Instead of supporting respondents theory, Salcedo is authority for the following principle:

As a member of the bar and an officer of this court, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, as any attorney, is in duty bound to uphold
its dignity and authority and to defend its integrity, not only because it has conferred upon him the high privilege, not a right
(Malcolm, Legal Ethics, 158 and 160), of being what he now is: a priest of justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio St. Rep., 492,
669), but also because in so doing, he neither creates nor promotes distrust in the administration of justice, and prevents
anybody from harboring and encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is the source of disorder, thus undermining the
foundation upon which rests that bulwark called judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn for protection and
relief.119 (Emphases supplied.)

Thus, the lawyer in Salcedo was fined and reprimanded for his injudicious statements in his pleading, by accusing the Court
of "erroneous ruling." Here, the respondents Statement goes way beyond merely ascribing error to the Court.

Other cases cited by respondents likewise espouse rulings contrary to their position. In re: Atty. Vicente Raul
Almacen,120 cited in the Common Compliance and the Vasquez Compliance, was an instance where the Courtindefinitely
suspended a member of the Bar for filing and releasing to the press a "Petition to Surrender Lawyers Certificate of Title" in
protest of what he claimed was a great injustice to his client committed by the Supreme Court. In the decision, the petition
was described, thus:

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
injustices 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

"x x x 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." 121

It is true that in Almacen the Court extensively discussed foreign jurisprudence on the principle that a lawyer, just like any
citizen, has the right to criticize and comment upon actuations of public officers, including judicial authority. However, the real
doctrine in Almacen is that such criticism of the courts, whether done in court or outside of it, must conform to standards of
fairness and propriety. This case engaged in an even more extensive discussion of the legal authorities sustaining this
view. To quote from that decision:
1awphi1

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 x x x to the
courts;" and the Rules of Court constantly remind him "to observe and maintain the respect due to courts of justice and
judicial officers." 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:

"x x x 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)

xxxx

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 or in the course of a political
campaign, if couched in insulting language as to bring into scorn and disrepute the administration of justice, may subject the
attorney to disciplinary action.122 (Emphases and underscoring supplied.)

In a similar vein, In re: Vicente Sotto, 123 cited in the Vasquez Compliance, observed that:

[T]his Court, in In re Kelly, held the following:

The publication of a criticism of a party or of the court to a pending cause, respecting the same, has always been considered
as misbehavior, tending to obstruct the administration of justice, and subjects such persons to contempt proceedings. Parties
have a constitutional right to have their causes tried fairly in court, by an impartial tribunal, uninfluenced by publications or
public clamor. Every citizen has a profound personal interest in the enforcement of the fundamental right to have justice
administered by the courts, under the protection and forms of law, free from outside coercion or interference. x x x.

Mere criticism or comment on the correctness or wrongness, soundness or unsoundness of the decision of the court in a
pending case made in good faith may be tolerated; because if well founded it may enlighten the court and contribute to the
correction of an error if committed; but if it is not well taken and obviously erroneous, it should, in no way, influence the court
in reversing or modifying its decision. x x x.

xxxx

To hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing deliberately "so many blunders and injustices,"
that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of one party knowing that the law and justice is on the part of the adverse
party and not on the one in whose favor the decision was rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would tend
necessarily to undermine the confidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court, and
consequently to lower or degrade the administration of justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines is, under
the Constitution, the last bulwark to which the Filipino people may repair to obtain relief for their grievances or protection of
their rights when these are trampled upon, and if the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity of the members
of this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their own hands,
and disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result. As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts Atty. Vicente Sotto,
like any other, is in duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which he owes fidelity according to the oath
he has taken as such attorney, and not to promote distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the courts guarantees
the stability of other institutions, which without such guaranty would be resting on a very shaky foundation. 124 (Emphases and
underscoring supplied.)

That the doctrinal pronouncements in these early cases are still good law can be easily gleaned even from more recent
jurisprudence.

In Choa v. Chiongson,125 the Court administratively disciplined a lawyer, through the imposition of a fine, for making malicious
and unfounded criticisms of a judge in the guise of an administrative complaint and held, thus:

As an officer of the court and its indispensable partner in the sacred task of administering justice, graver responsibility is
imposed upon a lawyer than any other to uphold the integrity of the courts and to show respect to its officers. This does not
mean, however, that a lawyer cannot criticize a judge. As we stated in Tiongco vs. Hon. Aguilar:

It does not, however, follow that just because a lawyer is an officer of the court, he cannot criticize the courts. That is his right
as a citizen, and it is even his duty as an officer of the court to avail of such right. Thus, in In Re: Almacen (31 SCRA 562,
579-580 [1970]), this Court explicitly declared:

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 to 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 Dec. 657,
665).

xxxx

Nevertheless, such a right is not without limit. For, as this Court warned in Almacen:

But it is a 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.

xxxx

Elsewise stated, the right to criticize, which is guaranteed by the freedom of speech and of expression in the Bill of Rights of
the Constitution, must be exercised responsibly, for every right carries with it a corresponding obligation.Freedom is not
freedom from responsibility, but freedom with responsibility. x x x.

xxxx

Proscribed then are, inter alia, the use of unnecessary language which jeopardizes high esteem in courts, creates or
promotes distrust in judicial administration (Rheem, supra), or tends necessarily to undermine the confidence of people in the
integrity of the members of this Court and to degrade the administration of justice by this Court (In re: Sotto, 82 Phil. 595
[1949]); or of offensive and abusive language (In re: Rafael Climaco, 55 SCRA 107 [1974]); or abrasive and offensive
language (Yangson vs. Salandanan, 68 SCRA 42 [1975]; or of disrespectful, offensive, manifestly baseless, and malicious
statements in pleadings or in a letter addressed to the judge (Baja vs. Macandog, 158 SCRA [1988], citing the resolution of
19 January 1988 in Phil. Public Schools Teachers Association vs. Quisumbing, G.R. No. 76180, and Ceniza vs. Sebastian,
130 SCRA 295 [1984]); or of disparaging, intemperate, and uncalled-for remarks (Sangalang vs. Intermediate Appellate
Court, 177 SCRA 87 [1989]).

Any criticism against a judge made in the guise of an administrative complaint which is clearly unfounded and impelled by
ulterior motive will not excuse the lawyer responsible therefor under his duty of fidelity to his client. x x x. 126 (Emphases and
underscoring supplied.)

In Saberon v. Larong,127 where this Court found respondent lawyer guilty of simple misconduct for using intemperate
language in his pleadings and imposed a fine upon him, we had the occasion to state:

The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates:

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

Rule 8.01 - A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.

CANON 11 - A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to 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.
To be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted members of the bar to use strong language in pursuit of
their duty to advance the interests of their clients.

However, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the
use of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but
respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive.

On many occasions, the Court has reminded members of the Bar to 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. In keeping with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyers language even in his pleadings must be
dignified.128

Verily, the accusatory and vilifying nature of certain portions of the Statement exceeded the limits of fair comment and cannot
be deemed as protected free speech. Even In the Matter of Petition for Declaratory Relief Re: Constitutionality of Republic
Act 4880, Gonzales v. Commission on Elections,129 relied upon by respondents in the Common Compliance, held that:

From the language of the specific constitutional provision, it would appear that the right is not susceptible of any limitation. No
law may be passed abridging the freedom of speech and of the press. The realities of life in a complex society preclude
however a literal interpretation. Freedom of expression is not an absolute. It would be too much to insist that at all times and
under all circumstances it should remain unfettered and unrestrained. There are other societal values that press for
recognition. x x x.130 (Emphasis supplied.)

One such societal value that presses for recognition in the case at bar is the threat to judicial independence and the orderly
administration of justice that immoderate, reckless and unfair attacks on judicial decisions and institutions pose. This Court
held as much in Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan and Gonzales, 131 where we indefinitely suspended a lawyer from the practice of
law for issuing to the media statements grossly disrespectful towards the Court in relation to a pending case, to wit:

Respondent Gonzales is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. No one seeks to deny him that right, least of
all this Court. What respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression, like all constitutional
freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with the
requirements of equally important public interest. One of these fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the
integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There is no antinomy between free expression and the
integrity of the system of administering justice. For the protection and maintenance of freedom of expression itself can be
secured only within the context of a functioning and orderly system of dispensing justice, within the context, in other words, of
viable independent institutions for delivery of justice which are accepted by the general community. x x x. 132 (Emphases
supplied.)

For this reason, the Court cannot uphold the view of some respondents 133 that the Statement presents no grave or imminent
danger to a legitimate public interest.

The Show Cause Resolution does not interfere with respondents academic freedom.

It is not contested that respondents herein are, by law and jurisprudence, guaranteed academic freedom and undisputably,
they are free to determine what they will teach their students and how they will teach. We must point out that there is nothing
in the Show Cause Resolution that dictates upon respondents the subject matter they can teach and the manner of their
instruction. Moreover, it is not inconsistent with the principle of academic freedom for this Court to subject lawyers who teach
law to disciplinary action for contumacious conduct and speech, coupled with undue intervention in favor of a party in a
pending case, without observing proper procedure, even if purportedly done in their capacity as teachers.

A novel issue involved in the present controversy, for it has not been passed upon in any previous case before this Court, is
the question of whether lawyers who are also law professors can invoke academic freedom as a defense in an administrative
proceeding for intemperate statements tending to pressure the Court or influence the outcome of a case or degrade the
courts.

Applying by analogy the Courts past treatment of the "free speech" defense in other bar discipline cases, academic freedom
cannot be successfully invoked by respondents in this case. The implicit ruling in the jurisprudence discussed above is that
the constitutional right to freedom of expression of members of the Bar may be circumscribed by their ethical duties as
lawyers to give due respect to the courts and to uphold the publics faith in the legal profession and the justice system. To our
mind, the reason that freedom of expression may be so delimited in the case of lawyers applies with greater force to the
academic freedom of law professors.

It would do well for the Court to remind respondents that, in view of the broad definition in Cayetano v. Monsod, 134lawyers
when they teach law are considered engaged in the practice of law. Unlike professors in other disciplines and more than
lawyers who do not teach law, respondents are bound by their oath to uphold the ethical standards of the legal profession.
Thus, their actions as law professors must be measured against the same canons of professional responsibility applicable to
acts of members of the Bar as the fact of their being law professors is inextricably entwined with the fact that they are
lawyers.

Even if the Court was willing to accept respondents proposition in the Common Compliance that their issuance of the
Statement was in keeping with their duty to "participate in the development of the legal system by initiating or supporting
efforts in law reform and in the improvement of the administration of justice" under Canon 4 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, we cannot agree that they have fulfilled that same duty in keeping with the demands of Canons 1, 11 and 13
to give due respect to legal processes and the courts, and to avoid conduct that tends to influence the courts. Members of
the Bar cannot be selective regarding which canons to abide by given particular situations. With more reason that law
professors are not allowed this indulgence, since they are expected to provide their students exemplars of the Code of
Professional Responsibility as a whole and not just their preferred portions thereof.

The Courts rulings on the submissions regarding the charge of violation of Canons 1, 11 and 13.

Having disposed of respondents main arguments of freedom of expression and academic freedom, the Court considers here
the other averments in their submissions.

With respect to good faith, respondents allegations presented two main ideas: (a) the validity of their position regarding the
plagiarism charge against Justice Del Castillo, and (b) their pure motive to spur this Court to take the correct action on said
issue.

The Court has already clarified that it is not the expression of respondents staunch belief that Justice Del Castillo has
committed a misconduct that the majority of this Court has found so unbecoming in the Show Cause Resolution. No matter
how firm a lawyers conviction in the righteousness of his cause there is simply no excuse for denigrating the courts and
engaging in public behavior that tends to put the courts and the legal profession into disrepute. This doctrine, which we have
repeatedly upheld in such cases as Salcedo, In re Almacen and Saberong, should be applied in this case with more reason,
as the respondents, not parties to the Vinuya case, denounced the Court and urged it to change its decision therein, in a
public statement using contumacious language, which with temerity they subsequently submitted to the Court for "proper
disposition."

That humiliating the Court into reconsidering the Vinuya Decision in favor of the Malaya Lolas was one of the objectives of
the Statement could be seen in the following paragraphs from the same:

And in light of the significance of this decision to the quest for justice not only of Filipino women, but of women elsewhere in
the world who have suffered the horrors of sexual abuse and exploitation in times of war, the Court cannot coldly deny relief
and justice to the petitioners on the basis of pilfered and misinterpreted texts.

xxxx

(3) The same breach and consequent disposition of the Vinuya case does violence to the primordial function of the Supreme
Court as the ultimate dispenser of justice to all those who have been left without legal or equitable recourse, such as the
petitioners therein.135 (Emphases and underscoring supplied.)

Whether or not respondents views regarding the plagiarism issue in the Vinuya case had valid basis was wholly immaterial
to their liability for contumacious speech and conduct. These are two separate matters to be properly threshed out in
separate proceedings. The Court considers it highly inappropriate, if not tantamount to dissembling, the discussion devoted
in one of the compliances arguing the guilt of Justice Del Castillo. In the Common Compliance, respondents even go so far
as to attach documentary evidence to support the plagiarism charges against Justice Del Castillo in the present controversy.
The ethics case of Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC), with the filing of a motion for reconsideration, was still pending
at the time of the filing of respondents submissions in this administrative case. As respondents themselves admit, they are
neither parties nor counsels in the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo. Notwithstanding their professed overriding interest
in said ethics case, it is not proper procedure for respondents to bring up their plagiarism arguments here especially when it
has no bearing on their own administrative case.

Still on motive, it is also proposed that the choice of language in the Statement was intended for effective speech; that
speech must be "forceful enough to make the intended recipients listen." 136 One wonders what sort of effect respondents
were hoping for in branding this Court as, among others, callous, dishonest and lacking in concern for the basic values of
decency and respect. The Court fails to see how it can ennoble the profession if we allow respondents to send a signal to
their students that the only way to effectively plead their cases and persuade others to their point of view is to be offensive.

This brings to our mind the letters of Dr. Ellis and Prof. Tams which were deliberately quoted in full in the narration of
background facts to illustrate the sharp contrast between the civil tenor of these letters and the antagonistic irreverence of the
Statement. In truth, these foreign authors are the ones who would expectedly be affected by any perception of misuse of their
works. Notwithstanding that they are beyond the disciplinary reach of this Court, they still obviously took pains to convey their
objections in a deferential and scholarly manner. It is unfathomable to the Court why respondents could not do the same.
These foreign authors letters underscore the universality of the tenet that legal professionals must deal with each other in
good faith and due respect. The mark of the true intellectual is one who can express his opinions logically and soberly without
resort to exaggerated rhetoric and unproductive recriminations.

As for the claim that the respondents noble intention is to spur the Court to take "constructive action" on the plagiarism issue,
the Court has some doubts as to its veracity. For if the Statement was primarily meant for this Courts consideration, why was
the same published and reported in the media first before it was submitted to this Court? It is more plausible that the
Statement was prepared for consumption by the general public and designed to capture media attention as part of the effort
to generate interest in the most controversial ground in the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration filed in the Vinuya case
by Atty. Roque, who is respondents colleague on the UP Law faculty.

In this regard, the Court finds that there was indeed a lack of observance of fidelity and due respect to the Court, particularly
when respondents knew fully well that the matter of plagiarism in the Vinuya decision and the merits of the Vinuya decision
itself, at the time of the Statements issuance, were still both sub judice or pending final disposition of the Court. These facts
have been widely publicized. On this point, respondents allege that at the time the Statement was first drafted on July 27,
2010, they did not know of the constitution of the Ethics Committee and they had issued the Statement under the belief that
this Court intended to take no action on the ethics charge against Justice Del Castillo. Still, there was a significant lapse of
time from the drafting and printing of the Statement on July 27, 2010 and its publication and submission to this Court in early
August when the Ethics Committee had already been convened. If it is true that the respondents outrage was fueled by their
perception of indifference on the part of the Court then, when it became known that the Court did intend to take action, there
was nothing to prevent respondents from recalibrating the Statement to take this supervening event into account in the
interest of fairness.

Speaking of the publicity this case has generated, we likewise find no merit in the respondents reliance on various news
reports and commentaries in the print media and the internet as proof that they are being unfairly "singled out." On the
contrary, these same annexes to the Common Compliance show that it is not enough for one to criticize the Court to warrant
the institution of disciplinary137 or contempt138 action. This Court takes into account the nature of the criticism and weighs the
possible repercussions of the same on the Judiciary. When the criticism comes from persons outside the profession who may
not have a full grasp of legal issues or from individuals whose personal or other interests in making the criticism are obvious,
the Court may perhaps tolerate or ignore them. However, when law professors are the ones who appear to have lost sight of
the boundaries of fair commentary and worse, would justify the same as an exercise of civil liberties, this Court cannot
remain silent for such silence would have a grave implication on legal education in our country.

With respect to the 35 respondents named in the Common Compliance, considering that this appears to be the first time
these respondents have been involved in disciplinary proceedings of this sort, the Court is willing to give them the benefit of
the doubt that they were for the most part well-intentioned in the issuance of the Statement. However, it is established in
jurisprudence that where the excessive and contumacious language used is plain and undeniable, then good intent can only
be mitigating. As this Court expounded in Salcedo:

In his defense, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco states that it was not his intention to offend the court or to be recreant to the
respect thereto but, unfortunately, there are his phrases which need no further comment. Furthermore, it is a well settled rule
in all places where the same conditions and practice as those in this jurisdiction obtain, that want of intention is no excuse
from liability (13 C. J., 45). Neither is the fact that the phrases employed are justified by the facts a valid defense:

"Where the matter is abusive or insulting, evidence that the language used was justified by the facts is not admissible as a
defense. Respect for the judicial office should always be observed and enforced." (In re Stewart, 118 La., 827; 43 S., 455.)
Said lack or want of intention constitutes at most an extenuation of liability in this case, taking into consideration Attorney
Vicente J. Francisco's state of mind, according to him when he prepared said motion. This court is disposed to make such
concession. However, in order to avoid a recurrence thereof and to prevent others, by following the bad example, from taking
the same course, this court considers it imperative to treat the case of said attorney with the justice it deserves. 139 (Emphases
supplied.)

Thus, the 35 respondents named in the Common Compliance should, notwithstanding their claim of good faith, be reminded
of their lawyerly duty, under Canons 1, 11 and 13, to give due respect to the courts and to refrain from intemperate and
offensive language tending to influence the Court on pending matters or to denigrate the courts and the administration of
justice.

With respect to Prof. Vasquez, the Court favorably notes the differences in his Compliance compared to his colleagues. In
our view, he was the only one among the respondents who showed true candor and sincere deference to the Court. He was
able to give a straightforward account of how he came to sign the Statement. He was candid enough to state that his
agreement to the Statement was in principle and that the reason plagiarism was a "fair topic of discussion" among the UP
Law faculty prior to the promulgation of the October 12, 2010 Decision in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC was the uncertainty brought
about by a division of opinion on whether or not willful or deliberate intent was an element of plagiarism. He was likewise
willing to acknowledge that he may have been remiss in failing to assess the effect of the language of the Statement and
could have used more care. He did all this without having to retract his position on the plagiarism issue, without demands for
undeserved reliefs (as will be discussed below) and without baseless insinuations of deprivation of due process or of
prejudgment. This is all that this Court expected from respondents, not for them to sacrifice their principles but only that they
recognize that they themselves may have committed some ethical lapse in this affair. We commend Prof. Vaquez for showing
that at least one of the respondents can grasp the true import of the Show Cause Resolution involving them. For these
reasons, the Court finds Prof. Vasquezs Compliance satisfactory.

As for Prof. Lynch, in view of his Manifestation that he is a member of the Bar of the State of Minnesota and, therefore, not
under the disciplinary authority of this Court, he should be excused from these proceedings. However, he should be
reminded that while he is engaged as a professor in a Philippine law school he should strive to be a model of responsible and
professional conduct to his students even without the threat of sanction from this Court. For even if one is not bound by the
Code of Professional Responsibility for members of the Philippine Bar, civility and respect among legal professionals of any
nationality should be aspired for under universal standards of decency and fairness.

The Courts ruling on Dean Leonens Compliance regarding the charge of violation of Canon 10.

To recall, the Show Cause Resolution directed Dean Leonen to show cause why he should not be disciplinary dealt with for
violation of Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03 and for submitting a "dummy" that was not a true and faithful
reproduction of the signed Statement.

In his Compliance, Dean Leonen essentially denies that Restoring Integrity II was not a true and faithful reproduction of the
actual signed copy, Restoring Integrity I, because looking at the text or the body, there were no differences between the
two. He attempts to downplay the discrepancies in the signature pages of the two versions of the Statement (i.e., Restoring
Integrity I and Restoring Integrity II) by claiming that it is but expected in "live" public manifestos with dynamic and evolving
pages as more and more signatories add their imprimatur thereto. He likewise stresses that he is not administratively liable
because he did not misrepresent the members of the UP Law faculty who "had agreed with the Restoring Integrity Statement
proper and/or who had expressed their desire to be signatories thereto." 140

To begin with, the Court cannot subscribe to Dean Leonens implied view that the signatures in the Statement are not as
significant as its contents. Live public manifesto or not, the Statement was formally submitted to this Court at a specific point
in time and it should reflect accurately its signatories at that point. The value of the Statement as a UP Law Faculty
Statement lies precisely in the identities of the persons who have signed it, since the Statements persuasive authority mainly
depends on the reputation and stature of the persons who have endorsed the same. Indeed, it is apparent from respondents
explanations that their own belief in the "importance" of their positions as UP law professors prompted them to publicly speak
out on the matter of the plagiarism issue in the Vinuya case.

Further, in our assessment, the true cause of Dean Leonens predicament is the fact that he did not from the beginning
submit the signed copy, Restoring Integrity I, to this Court on August 11, 2010 and, instead, submitted Restoring Integrity II
with its retyped or "reformatted" signature pages. It would turn out, according to Dean Leonens account, that there were
errors in the retyping of the signature pages due to lapses of his unnamed staff. First, an unnamed administrative officer in
the deans office gave the dean inaccurate information that led him to allow the inclusion of Justice Mendoza as among the
signatories of Restoring Integrity II. Second, an unnamed staff also failed to type the name of Atty. Armovit when encoding
the signature pages of Restoring Integrity II when in fact he had signed Restoring Integrity I.

The Court can understand why for purposes of posting on a bulletin board or a website a signed document may have to be
reformatted and signatures may be indicated by the notation (SGD). This is not unusual. We are willing to accept that the
reformatting of documents meant for posting to eliminate blanks is necessitated by vandalism concerns.

However, what is unusual is the submission to a court, especially this Court, of a signed document for the Courts
consideration that did not contain the actual signatures of its authors. In most cases, it is the original signed document that is
transmitted to the Court or at the very least a photocopy of the actual signed document. Dean Leonen has not offered any
explanation why he deviated from this practice with his submission to the Court of Restoring Integrity II on August 11, 2010.
There was nothing to prevent the dean from submitting Restoring Integrity I to this Court even with its blanks and unsigned
portions. Dean Leonen cannot claim fears of vandalism with respect to court submissions for court employees are
accountable for the care of documents and records that may come into their custody. Yet, Dean Leonen deliberately chose to
submit to this Court the facsimile that did not contain the actual signatures and his silence on the reason therefor is in itself a
display of lack of candor.

Still, a careful reading of Dean Leonens explanations yield the answer. In the course of his explanation of his willingness to
accept his administrative officers claim that Justice Mendoza agreed to be indicated as a signatory, Dean Leonen admits in a
footnote that other professors had likewise only authorized him to indicate them as signatories and had not in fact signed the
Statement. Thus, at around the time Restoring Integrity II was printed, posted and submitted to this Court, at least one
purported signatory thereto had not actually signed the same. Contrary to Dean Leonens proposition, that is precisely
tantamount to making it appear to this Court that a person or persons participated in an act when such person or persons did
not.

We are surprised that someone like Dean Leonen, with his reputation for perfection and stringent standards of intellectual
honesty, could proffer the explanation that there was no misrepresentation when he allowed at least one person to be
indicated as having actually signed the Statement when all he had was a verbal communication of an intent to sign. In the
case of Justice Mendoza, what he had was only hearsay information that the former intended to sign the Statement. If Dean
Leonen was truly determined to observe candor and truthfulness in his dealings with the Court, we see no reason why he
could not have waited until all the professors who indicated their desire to sign the Statement had in fact signed before
transmitting the Statement to the Court as a duly signed document. If it was truly impossible to secure some signatures, such
as that of Justice Mendoza who had to leave for abroad, then Dean Leonen should have just resigned himself to the
signatures that he was able to secure.

We cannot imagine what urgent concern there was that he could not wait for actual signatures before submission of the
Statement to this Court. As respondents all asserted, they were neither parties to nor counsels in the Vinuya case and the
ethics case against Justice Del Castillo. The Statement was neither a pleading with a deadline nor a required submission to
the Court; rather, it was a voluntary submission that Dean Leonen could do at any time.

In sum, the Court likewise finds Dean Leonens Compliance unsatisfactory. However, the Court is willing to ascribe these
isolated lapses in judgment of Dean Leonen to his misplaced zeal in pursuit of his objectives. In due consideration of Dean
Leonens professed good intentions, the Court deems it sufficient to admonish Dean Leonen for failing to observe full candor
and honesty in his dealings with the Court as required under Canon 10.

Respondents requests for a hearing, for production/presentation of evidence bearing on the plagiarism and
misrepresentation issues in G.R. No. 162230 and A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, and for access to the records of A.M. No. 10-7-17-
SC are unmeritorious.

In the Common Compliance, respondents named therein asked for alternative reliefs should the Court find their Compliance
unsatisfactory, that is, that the Show Cause Resolution be set for hearing and for that purpose, they be allowed to require the
production or presentation of witnesses and evidence bearing on the plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in
the Vinuya case (G.R. No. 162230) and the plagiarism case against Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC) and to have
access to the records of, and evidence that were presented or may be presented in the ethics case against Justice Del
Castillo. The prayer for a hearing and for access to the records of A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC was substantially echoed in Dean
Leonens separate Compliance. In Prof. Juan-Bautistas Compliance, she similarly expressed the sentiment that "[i]f the
Restoring Integrity Statement can be considered indirect contempt, under Section 3 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, such
may be punished only after charge and hearing."141 It is this group of respondents premise that these reliefs are necessary
for them to be accorded full due process.

The Court finds this contention unmeritorious.

Firstly, it would appear that the confusion as to the necessity of a hearing in this case springs largely from its characterization
as a special civil action for indirect contempt in the Dissenting Opinion of Justice Sereno (to the October 19, 2010 Show
Cause Resolution) and her reliance therein on the majoritys purported failure to follow the procedure in Rule 71 of the Rules
of Court as her main ground for opposition to the Show Cause Resolution.

However, once and for all, it should be clarified that this is not an indirect contempt proceeding and Rule 71 (which requires a
hearing) has no application to this case. As explicitly ordered in the Show Cause Resolution this case was docketed as an
administrative matter.

The rule that is relevant to this controversy is Rule 139-B, Section 13, on disciplinary proceedings initiated motu proprio by
the Supreme Court, to wit:

SEC. 13. Supreme Court Investigators.In proceedings initiated motu proprio by the Supreme Court or in other proceedings
when the interest of justice so requires, the Supreme Court may refer the case for investigation to the Solicitor General or to
any officer of the Supreme Court or judge of a lower court, in which case the investigation shall proceed in the same manner
provided in sections 6 to 11 hereof, save that the review of the report of investigation shall be conducted directly by the
Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied.)

From the foregoing provision, it cannot be denied that a formal investigation, through a referral to the specified officers, is
merely discretionary, not mandatory on the Court. Furthermore, it is only if the Court deems such an investigation necessary
that the procedure in Sections 6 to 11 of Rule 139-A will be followed.

As respondents are fully aware, in general, administrative proceedings do not require a trial type hearing. We have held that:

The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard or, as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity
to explain one's side or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. What the law prohibits
is absolute absence of the opportunity to be heard, hence, a party cannot feign denial of due process where he had been
afforded the opportunity to present his side. A formal or trial type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential to
due process, the requirements of which are satisfied where the parties are afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain
their side of the controversy.142 (Emphases supplied.)

In relation to bar discipline cases, we have had the occasion to rule in Pena v. Aparicio 143 that:

Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, they do not involve a trial of
an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended to
inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. It
may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for determination is
whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary
powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end
in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging the
profession of members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties
and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a
complainant or a prosecutor.144 (Emphases supplied.)

In Query of Atty. Karen M. Silverio-Buffe, Former Clerk of Court Br. 81, Romblon On the Prohibition from Engaging in the
Private Practice of Law,145 we further observed that:

[I]n several cases, the Court has disciplined lawyers without further inquiry or resort to any formal investigation where the
facts on record sufficiently provided the basis for the determination of their administrative liability.

In Prudential Bank v. Castro, the Court disbarred a lawyer without need of any further investigation after considering his
actions based on records showing his unethical misconduct; the misconduct not only cast dishonor on the image of both the
Bench and the Bar, but was also inimical to public interest and welfare. In this regard, the Court took judicial notice of several
cases handled by the errant lawyer and his cohorts that revealed their modus operandi in circumventing the payment of the
proper judicial fees for the astronomical sums they claimed in their cases. The Court held that those cases sufficiently
provided the basis for the determination of respondents' administrative liability, without need for further inquiry into the matter
under the principle of res ipsa loquitur.

Also on the basis of this principle, we ruled in Richards v. Asoy, that no evidentiary hearing is required before the respondent
may be disciplined for professional misconduct already established by the facts on record.

xxxx

These cases clearly show that the absence of any formal charge against and/or formal investigation of an errant lawyer do
not preclude the Court from immediately exercising its disciplining authority, as long as the errant lawyer or judge has been
given the opportunity to be heard. As we stated earlier, Atty. Buffe has been afforded the opportunity to be heard on the
present matter through her letter-query and Manifestation filed before this Court. 146 (Emphases supplied.)

Under the rules and jurisprudence, respondents clearly had no right to a hearing and their reservation of a right they do not
have has no effect on these proceedings. Neither have they shown in their pleadings any justification for this Court to call for
a hearing in this instance. They have not specifically stated what relevant evidence, documentary or testimonial, they intend
to present in their defense that will necessitate a formal hearing.

Instead, it would appear that they intend to present records, evidence, and witnesses bearing on the plagiarism and
misrepresentation issues in the Vinuya case and in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC on the assumption that the findings of this Court
which were the bases of the Show Cause Resolution were made in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, or were related to the conclusions
of the Court in the Decision in that case. This is the primary reason for their request for access to the records and evidence
presented in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC.

This assumption on the part of respondents is erroneous. To illustrate, the only incident in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC that is
relevant to the case at bar is the fact that the submission of the actual signed copy of the Statement (or Restoring Integrity I,
as Dean Leonen referred to it) happened there. Apart from that fact, it bears repeating that the proceedings in A.M. No. 10-7-
17-SC, the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo, is a separate and independent matter from this case.

To find the bases of the statements of the Court in the Show Cause Resolution that the respondents issued a Statement with
language that the Court deems objectionable during the pendency of the Vinuya case and the ethics case against Justice Del
Castillo, respondents need to go no further than the four corners of the Statement itself, its various versions, news
reports/columns (many of which respondents themselves supplied to this Court in their Common Compliance) and internet
sources that are already of public knowledge.

Considering that what respondents are chiefly required to explain are the language of the Statement and the circumstances
surrounding the drafting, printing, signing, dissemination, etc., of its various versions, the Court does not see how any
witness or evidence in the ethics case of Justice Del Castillo could possibly shed light on these facts. To be sure, these facts
are within the knowledge of respondents and if there is any evidence on these matters the same would be in their
possession.

We find it significant that in Dean Leonens Compliance he narrated how as early as September 2010, i.e., before the
Decision of this Court in the ethics case of Justice Del Castillo on October 12, 2010 and before the October 19, 2010 Show
Cause Resolution, retired Supreme Court Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, after being shown a copy of the Statement upon his
return from abroad, predicted that the Court would take some form of action on the Statement. By simply reading a hard copy
of the Statement, a reasonable person, even one who "fundamentally agreed" with the Statements principles, could foresee
the possibility of court action on the same on an implicit recognition that the Statement, as worded, is not a matter this Court
should simply let pass. This belies respondents claim that it is necessary for them to refer to any record or evidence in A.M.
No. 10-7-17-SC in order to divine the bases for the Show Cause Resolution.

If respondents have chosen not to include certain pieces of evidence in their respective compliances or chosen not to make a
full defense at this time, because they were counting on being granted a hearing, that is respondents own look-out. Indeed,
law professors of their stature are supposed to be aware of the above jurisprudential doctrines regarding the non-necessity of
a hearing in disciplinary cases. They should bear the consequence of the risk they have taken.

Thus, respondents requests for a hearing and for access to the records of, and evidence presented in, A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC
should be denied for lack of merit.

A final word

In a democracy, members of the legal community are hardly expected to have monolithic views on any subject, be it a legal,
political or social issue. Even as lawyers passionately and vigorously propound their points of view they are bound by certain
rules of conduct for the legal profession. This Court is certainly not claiming that it should be shielded from criticism. All the
Court demands is the same respect and courtesy that one lawyer owes to another under established ethical standards. All
lawyers, whether they are judges, court employees, professors or private practitioners, are officers of the Court and have
voluntarily taken an oath, as an indispensable qualification for admission to the Bar, to conduct themselves with good fidelity
towards the courts. There is no exemption from this sworn duty for law professors, regardless of their status in the academic
community or the law school to which they belong.

WHEREFORE, this administrative matter is decided as follows:

(1) With respect to Prof. Vasquez, after favorably noting his submission, the Court finds his Compliance to be
satisfactory.

(2) The Common Compliance of 35 respondents, namely, Attys. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Froilan M. Bacungan,
Pacifico A. Agabin, Merlin M. Magallona, Salvador T. Carlota, Carmelo V. Sison, Patricia R.P. Salvador Daway, Dante
B. Gatmaytan, Theodore O. Te, Florin T. Hilbay, Jay L. Batongbacal, Evelyn (Leo) D. Battad, Gwen G. De Vera,
Solomon F. Lumba, Rommel J. Casis, Jose Gerardo A. Alampay, Miguel R. Armovit, Arthur P. Autea, Rosa Maria J.
Bautista, Mark R. Bocobo, Dan P. Calica, Tristan A. Catindig, Sandra Marie O. Coronel, Rosario O. Gallo,
Concepcion L. Jardeleza, Antonio G.M. La Via, Carina C. Laforteza, Jose C. Laureta, Rodolfo Noel S. Quimbo,
Antonio M. Santos, Gmeleen Faye B. Tomboc, Nicholas Felix L. Ty, Evalyn G. Ursua, Susan D. Villanueva and Dina
D. Lucenario, is found UNSATISFACTORY. These 35 respondent law professors are reminded of their lawyerly duty,
under Canons 1, 11 and 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to give due respect to the Court and to refrain
from intemperate and offensive language tending to influence the Court on pending matters or to denigrate the Court
and the administration of justice and warned that the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more
severely.

(3) The separate Compliance of Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen regarding the charge of violation of Canon 10 is found
UNSATISFACTORY. He is further ADMONISHED to be more mindful of his duty, as a member of the Bar, an officer
of the Court, and a Dean and professor of law, to observe full candor and honesty in his dealings with the Court and
warned that the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

(4) Prof. Lynch, who is not a member of the Philippine bar, is excused from these proceedings. However, he is
reminded that while he is engaged as a professor in a Philippine law school he should strive to be a model of
responsible and professional conduct to his students even without the threat of sanction from this Court.

(5) Finally, respondents requests for a hearing and for access to the records of A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC are denied for
lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
DENIS B. HABAWEL and ALEXIS F. G.R. No. 174759
MEDINA,
Petitioners, Present:

CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,


LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,
- versus - DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:

THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS, FIRST September 7, 2011


DIVISION,
Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

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,[1] 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.[2]

and the resolution dated July 26, 2006,[3] 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.[4] After the City Government of Mandaluyong City denied its claim for refund, [5] 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.[6] Surfield
later amended its petition to include its claim for refund of the excess taxes paid from 2001 until 2003.[7]

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.[8]

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).[9] 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,[10] the CTA First Division denied the petition for lack of
jurisdiction and for failure to exhaust the remedies provided under Section 253[11] and Section 226[12] of
Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code).
Undeterred, the petitioners sought reconsideration in behalf of Surfield, [13] insisting that the CTA had
jurisdiction pursuant to Section 7(a)(3) of Republic Act No. 9282; [14] 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.[15]
The petitioners submitted a compliance dated March 27, 2006, [16] 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.[17]
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);[18]

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,[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]
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.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24]
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:[25]

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)[26]

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;
[27]
(b) [t]he grossness of the Honorable Courts ignorance of the law is matched only by the unequivocal
expression of this Honorable Courts jurisdiction; [28] and (c) the Honorable Courts lack of understanding or
respect for the doctrine of stare decisis.[29]

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,
[30]
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. [31] This
is true, even if the derogatory, offensive or malicious statements are not read in open court. [32] Indeed,
in Dantes v. Judge Ramon S. Caguioa,[33] 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.[34]

In his dissent, Justice Del Castillo, although conceding that the petitioners statements were strong,
tactless and hurtful,[35] 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.[36]

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. [37] 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.[38] 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)[39]
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.[40]

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.[41] (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,[42] 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. [43] 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. [44] 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. [45] 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. [46] 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,
[47]
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,[48] 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,
[49]
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,[50] 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,[51] the CTA First Division was content with punishing them for
direct contempt under Section 1, [52]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.