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IN RE: UP LAW FACULTY

FACTS:
Petitioners: Professors and lawyers of the UP Law Faculty
1. This case revolved around the Supreme Court decision in Vinuya v.
Executive Secretary, a case involving the Filipino comfort women
during the Japanese occupation.
2. The petitioners asserted that the Vinuya decision was plagiarized from
different sources and that the true intents of the plagiarized sources
were twisted by the ponente, Justice Mariano del Castillo, to suit the
arguments laid down in the decision.
3. The authors who were plagiarized sent their respective letters to the
Supreme Court, noting the misreading and/or misinterpretation of their
articles.
4. In response to this issue, the faculty of UP College of Law came up with
a statement called Restoring Integrity: A Statement by the Faculty of
the University of the Philippines College of Law on the Allegiations of
Plgiarism and Misinterpretation in the Supreme Court, which
statement alleged plagiarism against Justice del Castillo.
5. This was posted online and at the Colleges bulletin board and was
submitted to the Supreme Court.
6. The manner in presenting the arguments and the language used
therein, the Court believed, were inappropriate considering its
signatories are lawyers.
7. Thus, the Supreme Court issued a Show Cause Resolution directing
petitioners to show cause why they should not be disciplined as
members of the Bar for violations of the Code of Professorial
Responsibility. Conversely, compliance to such resolution was
unsatisfactory.
ISSUE
Whether the Show Cause Resolution denies respondents their
freedom of expression. NO.
- The problem here was the manner of the criticism and the
contumacious language by which the respondents, who are not parties
nor counsels in the Vinuya case, have expressed their opinion, not
because they criticized the decision.
- Freedom of expression is not absolute. It would be too much to insist
that at all times and under all conditions and circumstances it should
remain unfettered and unrestrained. There are other societal values
that press for recognition.
- One such societal value is the threat to judicial independence and the
orderly administration of justice that immoderate, reckless and unfair
attacks on judicial decisions and institutions pose. In Zaldivar v.
Sandiganbayan and Gonzales, the Court indefinitely suspended a
lawyer form the practice of law for issuing to the media statements
grossly disrespectful towards the Court in relation to a pending case.

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 th critics are not only citizens but
members of the Bar, jurisprudence has repeatedly affirmed the
authority of this Court to discipline lawyers whose statements regardin
the courts and fellow lawyers, whether judicial or extrajudicial, have
exceeded the limits of fair comment and common decency. These may
be punishable either as contempt or an ethical violation or both in the
discretion of the Court.

C.J. Serenos Dissenting Opinion (Might come in handy, even though she
was against the majority decision)
- The Supreme Court held that acts punishable as contempt are those
tending to obstruct or degrade the administration of justice, as
inherent in courts as essential to the execution of their powers and to
the maintenance of their authority.
- The essence of a courts contempt powers stems from a muchneeded remedy for the vilation of lawful court orders and for
maintaining decorum during proceedings, as an essential auxiliary to
the due administration of justice.
- The power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts so as to
preserve order in judicial proceedings and to uphold the due
administration of justice.