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A.C. No.

5768

March 26, 2010

ATTY. BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR., Complainant, vs. ATTY. EDWIN Z. FERRER, SR., Respondent. DECISION ABAD, J.: This administrative case concerns a lawyer who is claimed to have hurled invectives upon another lawyer and filed a baseless suit against him. The Facts and the Case On January 11, 2001 complainant Atty. Bonifacio T. Barandon, Jr. filed a complaint-affidavit1 with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) seeking the disbarment, suspension from the practice of law, or imposition of appropriate disciplinary action against respondent Atty. Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. for the following offenses: 1. On November 22, 2000 Atty. Ferrer, as plaintiffs counsel in Civil Case 7040, filed a reply with opposition to motion to dismiss that contained abusive, offensive, and improper language which insinuated that Atty. Barandon presented a falsified document in court. 2. Atty. Ferrer filed a fabricated charge against Atty. Barandon in Civil Case 7040 for alleged falsification of public document when the document allegedly falsified was a notarized document executed on February 23, 1994, at a date when Atty. Barandon was not yet a lawyer nor was assigned in Camarines Norte. The latter was not even a signatory to the document. 3. On December 19, 2000, at the courtroom of Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Daet before the start of hearing, Atty. Ferrer, evidently drunk, threatened Atty. Barandon saying, "Laban kung laban, patayan kung patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na palang magaling na abogado sa Camarines Norte, ang abogado na rito ay mga taga-Camarines Sur, umuwi na kayo sa Camarines Sur, hindi kayo taga-rito." 4. Atty. Ferrer made his accusation of falsification of public document without bothering to check the copy with the Office of the Clerk of Court and, with gross ignorance of the law, failed to consider that a notarized document is presumed to be genuine and authentic until proven otherwise. 5. The Court had warned Atty. Ferrer in his first disbarment case against repeating his unethical act; yet he faces a disbarment charge for sexual harassment of an office secretary of the IBP Chapter in Camarines Norte; a related criminal case for acts of lasciviousness; and criminal cases for libel and grave threats that Atty. Barandon filed against him. In October 2000, Atty. Ferrer asked Atty. Barandon to falsify the daily time record of his son who worked with the Commission on Settlement of Land Problems, Department of Justice. When Atty. Barandon declined, Atty. Ferrer repeatedly harassed him with inflammatory language. Atty. Ferrer raised the following defenses in his answer with motion to dismiss: 1. Instead of having the alleged forged document submitted for examination, Atty. Barandon

filed charges of libel and grave threats against him. These charges came about because Atty. Ferrers clients filed a case for falsification of public document against Atty. Barandon. 2. The offended party in the falsification case, Imelda Palatolon, vouchsafed that her thumbmark in the waiver document had been falsified. 3. At the time Atty. Ferrer allegedly uttered the threatening remarks against Atty. Barandon, the MTC Daet was already in session. It was improbable that the court did not take steps to stop, admonish, or cite Atty. Ferrer in direct contempt for his behavior. 4. Atty. Barandon presented no evidence in support of his allegations that Atty. Ferrer was drunk on December 19, 2000 and that he degraded the law profession. The latter had received various citations that speak well of his character. 5. The cases of libel and grave threats that Atty. Barandon filed against Atty. Ferrer were still pending. Their mere filing did not make the latter guilty of the charges. Atty. Barandon was forum shopping when he filed this disbarment case since it referred to the same libel and grave threats subject of the criminal cases. In his reply affidavit,2 Atty. Barandon brought up a sixth ground for disbarment. He alleged that on December 29, 2000 at about 1:30 p.m., while Atty. Ferrer was on board his sons taxi, it figured in a collision with a tricycle, resulting in serious injuries to the tricycles passengers.3 But neither Atty. Ferrer nor any of his co-passengers helped the victims and, during the police investigation, he denied knowing the taxi driver and blamed the tricycle driver for being drunk. Atty. Ferrer also prevented an eyewitness from reporting the accident to the authorities.4 Atty. Barandon claimed that the falsification case against him had already been dismissed. He belittled the citations Atty. Ferrer allegedly received. On the contrary, in its Resolution 00-1,5 the IBPCamarines Norte Chapter opposed his application to serve as judge of the MTC of Mercedes, Camarines Sur, on the ground that he did not have "the qualifications, integrity, intelligence, industry and character of a trial judge" and that he was facing a criminal charge for acts of lasciviousness and a disbarment case filed by an employee of the same IBP chapter. On October 10, 2001 Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan of the IBP-CBD submitted to this Court a Report, recommending the suspension for two years of Atty. Ferrer. The Investigating Commissioner found enough evidence on record to prove Atty. Ferrers violation of Canons 8.01 and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He attributed to Atty. Barandon, as counsel in Civil Case 7040, the falsification of the plaintiffs affidavit despite the absence of evidence that the document had in fact been falsified and that Atty. Barandon was a party to it. The Investigating Commissioner also found that Atty. Ferrer uttered the threatening remarks imputed to him in the presence of other counsels, court personnel, and litigants before the start of hearing. On June 29, 2002 the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution XV-2002-225,6 adopting and approving the Investigating Commissioners recommendation but reduced the penalty of suspension to only one year. Atty. Ferrer filed a motion for reconsideration but the Board denied it in its Resolution7 of October 19, 2002 on the ground that it had already endorsed the matter to the Supreme Court. On February 5, 2003, however, the Court referred back the case to the IBP for resolution of Atty. Ferrers motion for reconsideration.8 On May 22, 2008 the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation9 of the Investigating Commissioner that denied Atty. Ferrers motion for reconsideration.10 On February 17, 2009, Atty. Ferrer filed a Comment on Board of Governors IBP Notice of Resolution No. XVIII-2008.11 On August 12, 2009 the Court resolved to treat Atty. Ferrers comment

as a petition for review under Rule 139 of the Revised Rules of Court. Atty. Barandon filed his comment,12 reiterating his arguments before the IBP. Further, he presented certified copies of orders issued by courts in Camarines Norte that warned Atty. Ferrer against appearing in court drunk.13 The Issues Presented The issues presented in this case are: 1. Whether or not the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP Investigating Commissioner erred in finding respondent Atty. Ferrer guilty of the charges against him; and 2. If in the affirmative, whether or not the penalty imposed on him is justified. The Courts Ruling We have examined the records of this case and find no reason to disagree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors and the Investigating Commissioner. The practice of law is a privilege given to lawyers who meet the high standards of legal proficiency and morality. Any violation of these standards exposes the lawyer to administrative liability.14 Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility commands all lawyers to conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor towards their fellow lawyers and avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. Specifically, in Rule 8.01, the Code provides: Rule 8.01. A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper. Atty. Ferrers actions do not measure up to this Canon. The evidence shows that he imputed to Atty. Barandon the falsification of the Salaysay Affidavit of the plaintiff in Civil Case 7040. He made this imputation with pure malice for he had no evidence that the affidavit had been falsified and that Atty. Barandon authored the same. Moreover, Atty. Ferrer could have aired his charge of falsification in a proper forum and without using offensive and abusive language against a fellow lawyer. To quote portions of what he said in his reply with motion to dismiss: 1. That the answer is fraught with grave and culpable misrepresentation and "FALSIFICATION" of documents, committed to mislead this Honorable Court, but with concomitant grave responsibility of counsel for Defendants, for distortion and serious misrepresentation to the court, for presenting a grossly "FALSIFIED" document, in violation of his oath of office as a government employee and as member of the Bar, for the reason, that, Plaintiff, IMELDA PALATOLON, has never executed the "SALAYSAY AFFIDAVIT", wherein her fingerprint has been falsified, in view whereof, hereby DENY the same including the affirmative defenses, there being no knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth of the same, from pars. (1) to par. (15) which are all lies and mere fabrications, sufficient ground for "DISBARMENT" of the one responsible for said falsification and distortions."15 The Court has constantly reminded lawyers to use dignified language in their pleadings despite the adversarial nature of our legal system.16 Atty. Ferrer had likewise violated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which enjoins lawyers to uphold the dignity and integrity of the legal profession at all times. Rule 7.03 of the Code provides: Rule 7.03. A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the

legal profession. Several disinterested persons confirmed Atty. Ferrers drunken invectives at Atty. Barandon shortly before the start of a court hearing. Atty. Ferrer did not present convincing evidence to support his denial of this particular charge. He merely presented a certification from the police that its blotter for the day did not report the threat he supposedly made. Atty. Barandon presented, however, the police blotter on a subsequent date that recorded his complaint against Atty. Ferrer. Atty. Ferrer said, "Laban kung laban, patayan kung patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na palang magaling na abogado sa Camarines Norte, ang abogado na rito ay mga taga-Camarines Sur, umuwi na kayo sa Camarines Sur, hindi kayo taga-rito." Evidently, he uttered these with intent to annoy, humiliate, incriminate, and discredit Atty. Barandon in the presence of lawyers, court personnel, and litigants waiting for the start of hearing in court. These language is unbecoming a member of the legal profession. The Court cannot countenance it. Though a lawyers language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of judicial forum.17 Atty. Ferrer ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior can only bring down the legal profession in the public estimation and erode public respect for it. Whatever moral righteousness Atty. Ferrer had was negated by the way he chose to express his indignation.
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Contrary to Atty. Ferrers allegation, the Court finds that he has been accorded due process. The essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit any evidence one may have in support of ones defense.18 So long as the parties are given the opportunity to explain their side, the requirements of due process are satisfactorily complied with.19 Here, the IBP Investigating Commissioner gave Atty. Ferrer all the opportunities to file countless pleadings and refute all the allegations of Atty. Barandon. All lawyers should take heed that they are licensed officers of the courts who are mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession, hence they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly.20 Atty. Ferrers display of improper attitude, arrogance, misbehavior, and misconduct in the performance of his duties both as a lawyer and officer of the court, before the public and the court, was a patent transgression of the very ethics that lawyers are sworn to uphold. ACCORDINGLY, the Court AFFIRMS the May 22, 2008 Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors in CBD Case 01-809 and ORDERS the suspension of Atty. Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. from the practice of law for one year effective upon his receipt of this Decision. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in Atty. Ferrers personal record as an attorney with the Office of the Bar Confidant and a copy of the same be served to the IBP and to the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all the courts in the land. SO ORDERED.

Adm. Case No. 7252 November 22, 2006

[CBD 05-1434] JOHNNY NG, Complainant, vs. ATTY. BENJAMIN C. ALAR, Respondent.

RESOLUTION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J. Before the Court is Resolution No. XVII-2006-223 dated April 27, 2006 of the IBP Board of Governors, to wit: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondents propensity to resort to undeserved language and disrespectful stance, Atty. Benjamin C. Alar is hereby REPRIMANDED with a stern Warning that severe penalties will be imposed in case similar misconduct is again committed. Likewise, the counter complaint against Atty. Jose Raulito E. Paras and Atty. Elvin Michael Cruz is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. A verified complaint 1 dated February 15, 2005 was filed by Johnny Ng (complainant) against Atty. Benjamin C. Alar (respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), for Disbarment. Complainant alleges that he is one of the respondents in a labor case with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) docketed as NLRC NCR CA No. 040273-04, while respondent is the counsel for complainants. The Labor Arbiter (LA) dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the NLRC rendered a Decision 2 affirming the decision of the LA. Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Inhibit (MRMI), 3 pertinent portions of which read: x x x We cannot help suspecting that the decision under consideration was merely copied from the pleadings of respondents-appellees with very slight modifications. But we cannot accept the suggestion, made by some knowledgeable individuals, that the actual writer of the said decision is not at all connected with the NLRC First Division. x x x Why did the NLRC, First Division, uphold the Labor Arbiter in maintaining that the separation pay should be only one half month per year of service? Is jurisprudence on this not clear enough, or is there another reason known only to them? x x x If this is not grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC, First Division, it is ignominious ignorance of the law on the part of the commissioners concerned. The NLRC wants proof from the complainants that the fire actually resulted in prosperity and not losses. xxxRespondents failed to prove their claim of losses. And the Honorable Commissioners of the First Division lost their ability to see these glaring facts. x x x How much is the separation pay they should pay? One month per year of service and all of it to the affected workers not to some people in the NLRC in part. x x x They should have taken judicial notice of this prevalent practices of employers xxx. If the

Honorable Commissioners, of the First Division do not know this, they are indeed irrelevant to real life. x x x we invite the Honorable Commissioners of the First Division to see for themselves the evidence before them and not merely rely on their reviewers and on the word of their ponente. If they do this honestly they cannot help seeing the truth. Yes, honesty on the part of the Commissioners concerned is what is lacking, not the evidence. Unfair labor practice stares them in the face. If labor arbiter Santos was cross-eyed in his findings of fact, the Honorable Commissioners of the First Division are doubly so and with malice thrown in. If the workers indeed committed an illegal strike, how come their only "penalty" is removing their tent? It is obvious that the Labor Arbiter and the Honorable Commissioners know deep in their small hearts that there was no strike. This is the only reason for the finding of "illegal strike". Without this finding, they have no basis to remove the tent; they have to invent that basis. x x x The union in its "Union Reply To The Position Paper Of Management" and its Annexes has shown very clearly that the so called strike is a myth. But Commissioner Dinopol opted to believe the myth instead of the facts. He fixed his sights on the tent in front of the wall and closed his eyes to the open wide passage way and gate beside it. His eyes, not the ingress and egress of the premises, are blocked by something so thick he cannot see through it. His impaired vision cannot be trusted, no doubt about it. Commissioner Dinopol has enshrined a novel rule on money claims. Whereas, before, the established rule was, in cases of money claims the employer had the burden of proof of payment. Now it is the other way around. x x x For lack of a better name we should call this new rule the "Special Dinopol Rule". But only retirable commissioners are authorized to apply this rule and only when the money claims involved are substantial. When they are meager the ordinary rules apply. x x x how Commissioner Dinopol is able to say that the pay slips proved that the sixteen (16) claimants were already paid their service incentive leave pay. This finding is copied verbatim from the cross-eyed decision of Labor Arbiter Santos x x x . The evidence already on record proving that the alleged blocking of the ingress and egress is a myth seem invisible to the impaired sight of Commissioner Dinopol. He needs more of it. x x x Commissioner Dinopol by his decision under consideration (as ponente [of] the decision that he signed and caused his co-commissioners in the First Division to sign) has shown great and irreparable impartiality, grave abuse of discretion and ignorance of the law. He is a shame to the NLRC and should not be allowed to have anything to do with the instant case any more. Commissioner Go and Chairman Seeres, by negligence, are just as guilty as Dinopol but, since the NLRC rules prohibit the inhibition of the entire division, Chairman Seeres should remain in the instant case and appoint two (2) other commissioners from another division to sit with him and pass final judgment in the instant case. 4 (Emphasis supplied) In his Answer with Counter-Complaint dated April 6, 2005, respondent Alar contends that the instant complaint only intends to harass him and to influence the result of the cases between complainant and the workers in the differentfora where they are pending; that the Rules of Court/Code of Professional Responsibility applies only suppletorily at the NLRC when the NLRC Rules of Procedure has no provision on disciplinary matters for litigants and lawyers appearing before it; that Rule X of the NLRC Rules of Procedure provides for adequate sanctions against misbehaving lawyers and litigants appearing in cases before it; that the Rules of Court/Code of Professional Responsibility does not apply to lawyers practicing at the NLRC, the latter not being a court; that LAs

and NLRC Commissioners are not judges nor justices and the Code of Judicial Conduct similarly do not apply to them, not being part of the judiciary; and that the labor lawyers who are honestly and conscientiously practicing before the NLRC and get paid on a contingent basis are entitled to some latitude of righteous anger when they get cheated in their cases by reason of corruption and collusion by the cheats from the other sectors who make their lives and the lives of their constituents miserable, with impunity, unlike lawyers for the employers who get paid, win or lose, and therefore have no reason to feel aggrieved. 5 Attached to the Counter-Complaint is the affidavit of union president Marilyn Batan wherein it is alleged that Attys. Paras and Cruz violated the Code of Professional Responsibility of lawyers in several instances, such that while the labor case is pending before the NLRC, respondents Paras and Cruz filed a new case against the laborers in the Office of the City Engineer of Quezon City (QC) to demolish the tent of the workers, thus splitting the jurisdiction between the NLRC and the City Engineer's Office (CEO) of QC which violates Canon 12, Rules 12.02 and 13.03; that although Ng signed the disbarment complaint against Alar, respondents Parass and Cruzs office instigated the said complaint which violates Canon 8; that Ng's company did not pay income tax for the year 2000 allegedly for non-operation due to fire and respondents consented to this act of the employer which violates Canon 19, Rule 19.02; and that when the case started, there were more or less 100 complainants, but due to the acts of the employer and the respondents, the number of complainants were reduced to almost half which violates Canon 19, Rule 19-01, 19-02 and 19-03. 6 In Answer to the Counter-Complaint dated April 14, 2005, 7 respondents Paras and Cruz alleged: At no time did they file multiple actions arising from the same cause of action or brook interference in the normal course of judicial proceedings; the reliefs sought before the CEO has nothing to do with the case pending before the NLRC; the demolition of the nuisance and illegal structures is a cause of action completely irrelevant and unrelated to the labor cases of complainant; the CEO was requested to investigate certain nuisance structures located outside the employer's property, which consist of shanties, tents, banners and other paraphernalia which hampered the free ingress to and egress out of the employer's property and present clear and present hazards; the Office of the City Engineer found the structures violative of pertinent DPWH and MMDA ordinances; the pendency of a labor case with the NLRC is completely irrelevant since the holding of a strike, legal or not, did not validate or justify the construction of illegal nuisance structures; the CEO proceeded to abate the nuisance structures pursuant to its power to protect life, property and legal order; it was not their idea to file the disbarment complaint against respondent Alar; they merely instructed their client on how to go about filing the case, after having been served a copy of the derogatory MRMI; Canon 8 should not be perceived as an excuse for lawyers to turn their backs on malicious acts done by their brother lawyers; the complaint failed to mention that the only reason the number of complainants were reduced is because of the amicable settlement they were able to reach with most of them; their engagement for legal services is only for labor and litigation cases; at no time were they consulted regarding the tax concerns of their client and therefore were never privy to the financial records of the latter; at no time did they give advice regarding their client's tax concerns; respondent Alar's attempt at a disbarment case against them is unwarranted, unjustified and obviously a mere retaliatory action on his part. The case, docketed as CBD Case No. 05-1434, was assigned by the IBP to Commissioner Patrick M. Velez for investigation, report and recommendation. In his Report and Recommendation, the Investigating Commissioner found respondent guilty of using improper and abusive language and recommended that respondent be suspended for a period of not less than three months with a stern warning that more severe penalty will be imposed in case similar misconduct is again committed. On the other hand, the Investigating Commissioner did not find any actionable misconduct against Attys. Paras and Cruz and therefore recommended that the Counter-Complaint against them be dismissed for lack of merit.

Acting on the Report and Recommendation, the IBP Board of Governors issued the Resolution hereinbefore quoted. While the Court agrees with the findings of the IBP, it does not agree that respondent Alar deserves only a reprimand. 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. Rule 11.04 A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case. The MRMI contains insults and diatribes against the NLRC, attacking both its moral and intellectual integrity, replete with implied accusations of partiality, impropriety and lack of diligence. Respondent used improper and offensive language in his pleadings that does not admit any justification. In Lacurom v. Jacoba,8 the Court ratiocinated as follows: Well-recognized 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. However, even the most hardened judge would be scarred by the scurrilous attack made by the 30 July 2001 motion on Judge Lacurom's Resolution. On its face, the Resolution presented the facts correctly and decided the case according to supporting law and jurisprudence. Though a lawyer's language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of unnecessary language is proscribed if we are to promote high esteem in the courts and trust in judicial administration. In Uy v. Depasucat,9 the Court held that a lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts. It must be remembered that the language vehicle does not run short of expressions which are emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive. 10 A lawyer's language should be forceful but dignified, emphatic but respectful as befitting an advocate and in keeping with the dignity of the legal profession. 11 Submitting pleadings containing countless insults and diatribes against the NLRC and attacking both its moral and intellectual integrity, hardly measures to the sobriety of speech demanded of a lawyer. Respondent's assertion that the NLRC not being a court, its commissioners, not being judges or justices and therefore not part of the judiciary; and that consequently, the Code of Judicial Conduct does not apply to them, is unavailing. InLubiano v. Gordolla, 12 the Court held that respondent became unmindful of the fact that in addressing the NLRC, he nonetheless remained a member of the Bar, an oath-bound servant of the law, whose first duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice and whose conduct ought to be and must be scrupulously observant of law and ethics.13 Respondents argument that labor practitioners are entitled to some latitude of righteous anger is

unavailing. It does not deter the Court from exercising its supervisory authority over lawyers who misbehave or fail to live up to that standard expected of them as members of the Bar. 14 The Court held in Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer, 15 thus: 2. What we have before us is not without precedent. Time and again, this Court has admonished and punished, in varying degrees, members of the Bar for statements, disrespectful or irreverent, acrimonious or defamatory, of this Court or the lower courts. Resort by an attorney in a motion for reconsideration to words which may drag this Court down into disrepute, is frowned upon as "neither justified nor in the least necessary, because in order to call the attention of the court in a special way to the essential points relied upon in his argument and to emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons stated in the motion" are "sufficient," and such words "superfluous." It is in this context that we must say that just because Atty. Armonio "thought best to focus the attention" of this Court "to the issue in the case" does not give him unbridled license in language. To be sure, lawyers may come up with various methods, perhaps much more effective, in calling the Courts attention to the issues involved. The language vehicle does not run short of expressions, emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive. To be proscribed then is the use of unnecessary language which jeopardizes high esteem in courts, creates or promotes distrust in judicial administration, or which could have the effect of "harboring and encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is the source of disorder, thus undermining the foundation upon which rests that bulwark called judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn for protection and relief." Stability of judicial institutions suggests that the Bar stand firm on this precept. The language here in question, respondents aver, "was the result of overenthusiasm." It is but to repeat an old idea when we say that enthusiasm, or even excess of it, is not really bad. In fact, the one or the other is no less a virtue, if channeled in the right direction. However, it must be circumscribed within the bounds of propriety and with due regard for the proper place of courts in our system of government. 16 Respondent has clearly violated Canons 8 and 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. His actions erode the publics perception of the legal profession. However, the penalty of reprimand with stern warning imposed by the IBP Board of Governors is not proportionate to respondents violation of the Canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Thus, he deserves a stiffer penalty of fine in the amount of P5,000.00. Anent the Counter-Complaint filed against Attys. Paras and Cruz, the Court finds no reason to disturb the following findings and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, as approved by the IBP Board of Governors, to wit: The Counter-complainant Batan failed to submit any position paper to substantiate its claims despite sufficient opportunity to do so. At any rate, it must be noted that the alleged case with the Office of the City Engineer really partakes of a different cause of action, which has nothing to do with the NLRC case. The decision was made by the city engineer. Respondents remedy should be to question that decision, not bring it to this Commission which has no jurisdiction over it. We can not substitute our judgment for the proper courts who should determine the propriety or sagacity of the city engineers action. Furthermore, parties are not prohibited from availing themselves of remedies available in law provided; these acts do not exceed the bounds of decency. In supporting the action against respondents conduct, no such abuse may be gleaned. Indeed, it is the attorneys duty as an officer of the court to defend a judge from unfounded criticism or groundless personal attack. This requires

of him not only to refrain from subjecting the judge to wild and groundless accusation but also to discourage other people from so doing and to come to his defense when he is so subjected. By the very nature of his position a judge lacks the power, outside of his court, to defend himself against unfounded criticism and clamor and it is the attorney, and no other, who can better or more appropriately support the judiciary and the incumbents of the judicial positions. (Agpalo, p. 143 citing People v. Carillo, 77 Phil. 572 (1946); Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel, 31 SCRA 1 (1970); see Cabansag v. Fernandez, 102 Phil. 152 (1957) Whether the disbarment complaint was filed by Ng or by his lawyers is therefore not of great import, what is more apropos would be the contents of the complaint and whether the same is sufficient to consider disciplinary sanctions. Likewise, the tax case is a different matter altogether. Since the respondent lawyers have already stated that they were not engaged as counsels to take care of their clients tax problems, then they cannot be held accountable for the same. If any wrongdoing has been committed by complainant Ng, he should answer for that and those lawyers who were responsible for such acts be held liable jointly. There is no showing [that] attorneys Paras and Cruz were responsible for that tax fiasco. Finally, while it may be true that Batans group has been greatly diminished from about 100 claimants to less than half the number is not by itself an actionable misconduct. Lawyers are duty bound to foster amicable settlement of cases; litigation and adversarial proceedings while a necessary part of the practice is not encouraged, because it will save expenses and help unclogged [sic] the dockets. If the compromise is fair then there is no reason to prevent the same. There is nothing in the counter-complaint which shows that the compromise agreement and waivers executed appear to be unfair, hence no reason to hold lawyers liable for the same. Besides, a "compromise is as often the better part of justice as prudence the part of valor and a lawyer who encourages compromise is no less the clients champion in settlement out of court than he is the clients champion in the battle in court." (Curtis, The Advocate: Voices in Court, 5 (1958); cited in Agpalos Legal Ethics, p. 86, 1980 ed.) What is therefore respondent Alar[]s beef with the execution of these waivers if these were executed freely by his clients? All told, we do not find anything actionable misconduct against Attorneys Paras and Cruz; hence the dismissal of the counter-complaint against them is proper for absolute lack of merit. 17 ACCORDINGLY, we find respondent Atty. Benjamin C. Alar GUILTY of violation of Canons 8 and 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is imposed a fine of P5,000.00 with STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely. The Counter-Complaint against Atty. Jose Raulito E. Paras and Atty. Elvin Michael Cruz is DISMISSED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 5921

March 10, 2006

JUDGE UBALDINO A. LACUROM, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Cabanatuan City, Branch 29 and Pairing Judge, Branch 30, Complainant, vs. ATTY. ELLIS F. JACOBA and ATTY. OLIVIA VELASCO-JACOBA, Respondents. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Case

This administrative case arose from a complaint filed on 22 October 2001 by Judge Ubaldino A. Lacurom ("Judge Lacurom"), Pairing Judge, Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 30, against respondent-spouses Atty. Ellis F. Jacoba and Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba ("respondents"). Complainant charged respondents with violation of Rules 11.03,1 11.04,2 and 19.013 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Facts The Jacoba-Velasco-Jacoba Law Firm is counsel for plaintiff Alejandro R. Veneracion ("Veneracion") in a civil case for unlawful detainer against defendant Federico Barrientos ("Barrientos").4 The Municipal Trial Court of Cabanatuan City rendered judgment in favor of Veneracion but Barrientos appealed to the Regional Trial Court. The case was raffled to Branch 30 where Judge Lacurom was sitting as pairing judge. On 29 June 2001, Judge Lacurom issued a Resolution ("Resolution") reversing the earlier judgments rendered in favor of Veneracion.5 The dispositive portion reads: WHEREFORE, this Court hereby REVERSES its Decision dated December 22, 2000, as well as REVERSES the Decision of the court a quo dated July 22, 1997. Furthermore, the plaintiff-appellee Alejandro Veneracion is ordered to CEASE and DESIST from ejecting the defendant-appellant Federico Barrientos from the 1,000 square meter homelot covered by TCT No. T-75274, and the smaller area of one hundred forty-seven square meters, within the 1,000 sq.m. covered by TCT No. T-78613, and the house thereon standing covered by Tax Declaration No. 02006-01137, issued by the City Assessor of Cabanatuan City; and Barrientos is ordered to pay Veneracion P10,000.00 for the house covered by Tax Declaration No. 02006-01137. SO ORDERED.6 Veneracions counsel filed a Motion for Reconsideration (with Request for Inhibition)7 dated 30 July 2001 ("30 July 2001 motion"), pertinent portions of which read: II. PREFATORY STATEMENT This RESOLUTION of REVERSAL is an ABHORRENT NULLITY as it is entirely DEVOID of factual and legal basis. It is a Legal MONSTROSITY in the sense that the Honorable REGIONAL TRIAL COURT acted as if it were the DARAB (Dept. of Agrarian Reform ADJUDICATION BOARD)! x x x HOW HORRIBLE and TERRIBLE! The mistakes are very patent and glaring! x x x xxxx III. GROUNDS FOR RECONSIDERATION 1. The Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge ERRED in Peremptorily and Suddenly Reversing the Findings of the Lower Court Judge and the Regular RTC Presiding Judge:
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x x x The defendant filed a Motion for Reconsideration, and after a very questionable SHORT period of time, came this STUNNING and SUDDEN REVERSAL. Without any legal or factual basis, the Hon. Pairing Judge simply and peremptorily REVERSED two (2) decisions in favor of the plaintiff. This is highly questionable, if not suspicious, hence, this Motion for Reconsideration. xxxx [The Resolution] assumes FACTS that have not been established and presumes FACTS not part of the records of the case, all "loaded" in favor of the alleged "TENANT." Clearly, the RESOLUTION is an INSULT to the Judiciary and an ANACHRONISM in the Judicial Process. Need we say more?

xxxx 4. The Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge ERRED in Holding That the Defendant is Entitled to a Homelot, and That the Residential LOT in Question is That Homelot: THIS ERROR IS STUPENDOUS and a real BONER. Where did the Honorable PAIRING JUDGE base this conclusion? x x x This HORRENDOUS MISTAKE must be corrected here and now! xxxx 6. The Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge ERRED Grievously in Holding and Declaring that The [court] A QUO Erroneously Took Cognizance of the Case and That It Had No Jurisdiction over the Subject-Matter: Another HORRIBLE ERROR! Even an average Law Student knows that JURISDICTION is determined by the averments of the COMPLAINT and not by the averments in the answer! This is backed up by a Litany of Cases! xxxx 7. FINALLY, the Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge Ridiculously ERRED in Ordering the Defendant To Pay P10,000.00 to the Plaintiff As Payment for Plaintiffs HOUSE: THIS IS the Last STRAW, but it is also the Best ILLUSTRATION of the Manifold GLARING ERRORS committed by the Hon. Pairing Court Judge. xxxx This Order of the Court for the plaintiff to sell his RESIDENTIAL HOUSE to the defendant for the ridiculously LOW price of P10,000.00 best illustrates the Long Line of Faulty reasonings and ERRONEOUS conclusions of the Hon. Pairing Court Presiding Judge. Like the proverbial MONSTER, the Monstrous Resolution should be slain on sight!8 The 30 July 2001 motion prayed that (1) Judge Lacurom inhibit himself "in order to give plaintiff a fighting chance" and (2) the Resolution be reconsidered and set aside.9 Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba ("Velasco-Jacoba") signed the motion on behalf of the Jacoba-Velasco-Jacoba Law Firm. On 6 August 2001, Judge Lacurom ordered Velasco-Jacoba to appear before his sala and explain why she should not be held in contempt of court for the "very disrespectful, insulting and humiliating" contents of the 30 July 2001 motion.10In her Explanation, Comments and Answer,11 Velasco-Jacoba claimed that "His Honor knows beforehand who actually prepared the subject Motion; records will show that the undersigned counsel did not actually or actively participate in this case."12 VelascoJacoba disavowed any "conscious or deliberate intent to degrade the honor and integrity of the Honorable Court or to detract in any form from the respect that is rightfully due all courts of justice."13 She rationalized as follows: x x x at first blush, [the motion] really appears to contain some sardonic, strident and hard-striking adjectives. And, if we are to pick such stringent words at random and bunch them together, side-byside x x x then collectively and certainly they present a cacophonic picture of total and utter disrespect. x x x xxxx We most respectfully submit that plaintiff & counsel did not just fire a staccato of incisive and hardhitting remarks, machine-gun style as to be called contumacious and contemptuous. They were just articulating their feelings of shock, bewilderment and disbelief at the sudden reversal of their good

fortune, not driven by any desire to just cast aspersions at the Honorable Pairing judge. They must believe that big monumental errors deserve equally big adjectives, no more no less. x x x The matters involved were [neither] peripheral nor marginalized, and they had to call a spade a spade. x x x14 Nevertheless, Velasco-Jacoba expressed willingness to apologize "for whatever mistake [they] may have committed in a moment of unguarded discretion when [they] may have stepped on the line and gone out of bounds." She also agreed to have the allegedly contemptuous phrases stricken off the record.15 On 13 September 2001, Judge Lacurom found Velasco-Jacoba guilty of contempt and penalized her with imprisonment for five days and a fine of P1,000.16 Velasco-Jacoba moved for reconsideration of the 13 September 2001 order. She recounted that on her way out of the house for an afternoon hearing, Atty. Ellis Jacoba ("Jacoba") stopped her and said "O, pirmahan mo na ito kasi last day na, baka mahuli." (Sign this as it is due today, or it might not be filed on time.) She signed the pleading handed to her without reading it, in "trusting blind faith" on her husband of 35 years with whom she "entrusted her whole life and future." 17 This pleading turned out to be the 30 July 2001 motion which Jacoba drafted but could not sign because of his then suspension from the practice of law.18 Velasco-Jacoba lamented that Judge Lacurom had found her guilty of contempt without conducting any hearing. She accused Judge Lacurom of harboring "a personal vendetta," ordering her imprisonment despite her status as "senior lady lawyer of the IBP Nueva Ecija Chapter, already a senior citizen, and a grandmother many times over."19 At any rate, she argued, Judge Lacurom should have inhibited himself from the case out of delicadeza because "[Veneracion] had already filed against him criminal cases before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cabanatuan City and before the Ombudsman."20 The records show that with the assistance of counsel Jacoba and the Jacoba-Velasco-Jacoba Law Firm, Veneracion had executed an affidavit on 23 August 2001 accusing Judge Lacurom of knowingly rendering unjust judgment through inexcusable negligence and ignorance21 and violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 ("RA 3019").22 The first charge became the subject of a preliminary investigation23 by the City Prosecutor of Cabanatuan City. On the second charge, Veneracion set forth his allegations in a Complaint-Affidavit24 filed on 28 August 2001 with the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. Judge Lacurom issued another order on 21 September 2001, this time directing Jacoba to explain why he should not be held in contempt.25 Jacoba complied by filing an Answer with Second Motion for Inhibition, wherein he denied that he typed or prepared the 30 July 2001 motion. Against Velasco-Jacobas statements implicating him, Jacoba invoked the marital privilege rule in evidence.26 Judge Lacurom later rendered a decision27 finding Jacoba guilty of contempt of court and sentencing him to pay a fine of P500. On 22 October 2001, Judge Lacurom filed the present complaint against respondents before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Report and Recommendation of the IBP Respondents did not file an answer and neither did they appear at the hearing set by IBP Commissioner Atty. Lydia A. Navarro ("IBP Commissioner Navarro") despite sufficient notice.28 IBP Commissioner Navarro, in her Report and Recommendation of 10 October 2002, recommended the suspension of respondents from the practice of law for six months.29 IBP Commissioner Navarro

found that "respondents were prone to us[ing] offensive and derogatory remarks and phrases which amounted to discourtesy and disrespect for authority."30 Although the remarks were not directed at Judge Lacurom personally, they were aimed at "his position as a judge, which is a smack on the judiciary system as a whole."31 The IBP Board of Governors ("IBP Board") adopted IBP Commissioner Navarros Report and Recommendation, except for the length of suspension which the IBP Board reduced to three months.32 On 10 December 2002, the IBP Board transmitted its recommendation to this Court, together with the documents pertaining to the case. Several days later, Velasco-Jacoba sought reconsideration of the IBP Board decision, thus:33 xxxx 3. For the information of the Honorable Commission, the present complaint of Judge Lacurom is sub judice; the same issues involved in this case are raised before the Honorable Court of Appeals presently pending in CA-G.R. SP No. 66973 for Certiorari and Mandatory Inhibition with TRO and Preliminary Injunction x x x; 4. We filed an Administrative Case against Judge Lacurom before the Supreme Court involving the same issues we raised in the aforementioned Certiorari case, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court for being premature, in view of the pending Certiorari case before the Court of Appeals; 5. In like manner, out of respect and deference to the Court of Appeals, the present complaint should likewise be dismissed and/or suspended pending resolution of the certiorari case by the Court of Appeals.34 (Emphasis supplied) The Courts Ruling On a preliminary note, we reject Velasco-Jacobas contention that the present complaint should be considered sub judice in view of the petition for certiorari and mandatory inhibition with preliminary injunction ("petition for certiorari")35filed before the Court of Appeals. The petition for certiorari, instituted by Veneracion and Velasco-Jacoba on 4 October 2001, seeks to nullify the following orders issued by Judge Lacurom in Civil Case No. 2836: (1) the Orders dated 26 September 2001 and 9 November 2001 denying respondents respective motions for inhibition; and (2) the 13 September 2001 Order which found Velasco-Jacoba guilty of contempt. The petitioners allege that Judge Lacurom acted "with grave abuse of discretion [amounting] to lack of jurisdiction, in violation of express provisions of the law and applicable decisions of the Supreme Court."36 Plainly, the issue before us is respondents liability under the Code of Professional Responsibility. The outcome of this case has no bearing on the resolution of the petition for certiorari, as there is neither identity of issues nor causes of action. Neither should the Courts dismissal of the administrative complaint against Judge Lacurom for being premature impel us to dismiss this complaint. Judge Lacuroms orders in Civil Case No. 2836 could not be the subject of an administrative complaint against him while a petition for certiorari assailing the same orders is pending with an appellate court. Administrative remedies are neither alternative nor cumulative to judicial review where such review is available to the aggrieved parties and the same has not been resolved with finality. Until there is a final declaration that the challenged order or judgment is manifestly erroneous, there will be no basis to conclude whether the judge is administratively liable.37 The respondents are situated differently within the factual setting of this case. The corresponding

implications of their actions also give rise to different liabilities. We first examine the charge against Velasco-Jacoba. There is no dispute that the genuine signature of Velasco-Jacoba appears on the 30 July 2001 motion. Velasco-Jacobas responsibility as counsel is governed by Section 3, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court: SEC. 3.Signature and address.Every pleading must be signed by the party or counsel representing him x x x. The signature of counsel constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading, that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief there is good ground to support it, and that it is not interposed for delay. x x x Counsel who x x x signs a pleading in violation of this Rule, or alleges scandalous or indecent matter therein x x x shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. (Emphasis supplied) By signing the 30 July 2001 motion, Velasco-Jacoba in effect certified that she had read it, she knew it to be meritorious, and it was not for the purpose of delaying the case. Her signature supplied the motion with legal effect and elevated its status from a mere scrap of paper to that of a court document. Velasco-Jacoba insists, however, that she signed the 30 July 2001 motion only because of her husbands request but she did not know its contents beforehand. Apparently, this practice of signing each others pleadings is a long-standing arrangement between the spouses. According to VelascoJacoba, "[s]o implicit is [their] trust for each other that this happens all the time. Through the years, [she] already lost count of the number of pleadings prepared by one that is signed by the other." 38 By Velasco-Jacobas own admission, therefore, she violated Section 3 of Rule 7. This violation is an act of falsehood before the courts, which in itself is a ground for subjecting her to disciplinary action, independent of any other ground arising from the contents of the 30 July 2001 motion.39 We now consider the evidence as regards Jacoba. His name does not appear in the 30 July 2001 motion. He asserts the inadmissibility of Velasco-Jacobas statement pointing to him as the author of the motion. The Court cannot easily let Jacoba off the hook. Firstly, his Answer with Second Motion for Inhibition did not contain a denial of his wifes account. Instead, Jacoba impliedly admitted authorship of the motion by stating that he "trained his guns and fired at the errors which he perceived and believed to be gigantic and monumental."40 Secondly, we find Velasco-Jacobas version of the facts more plausible, for two reasons: (1) her reaction to the events was immediate and spontaneous, unlike Jacobas defense which was raised only after a considerable time had elapsed from the eruption of the controversy; and (2) Jacoba had been counsel of record for Veneracion in Civil Case No. 2836, supporting Velasco-Jacobas assertion that she had not "actually participate[d]" in the prosecution of the case. Moreover, Jacoba filed a Manifestation in Civil Case No. 2836, praying that Judge Lacurom await the outcome of the petition for certiorari before deciding the contempt charge against him.41 This petition for certiorari anchors some of its arguments on the premise that the motion was, in fact, Jacobas handiwork.42 The marital privilege rule, being a rule of evidence, may be waived by failure of the claimant to object

timely to its presentation or by any conduct that may be construed as implied consent.43 This waiver applies to Jacoba who impliedly admitted authorship of the 30 July 2001 motion. The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: Rule 11.03.A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts. Rule 11.04.A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case. No doubt, the language contained in the 30 July 2001 motion greatly exceeded the vigor required of Jacoba to defend ably his clients cause. We recall his use of the following words and phrases: abhorrent nullity, legal monstrosity,horrendous mistake, horrible error, boner, and an insult to the judiciary and an anachronism in the judicial process. Even Velasco-Jacoba acknowledged that the words created "a cacophonic picture of total and utter disrespect."44 Respondents nonetheless try to exculpate themselves by saying that every remark in the 30 July 2001 motion was warranted. We disagree. Well-recognized 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.45 However, even the most hardened judge would be scarred by the scurrilous attack made by the 30 July 2001 motion on Judge Lacuroms Resolution. On its face, the Resolution presented the facts correctly and decided the case according to supporting law and jurisprudence. Though a lawyers language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession.46 The use of unnecessary language is proscribed if we are to promote high esteem in the courts and trust in judicial administration.47 In maintaining the respect due to the courts, a lawyer is not merely enjoined to use dignified language but also to pursue the clients cause through fair and honest means, thus: Rule 19.01.A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or proceeding. Shortly after the filing of the 30 July 2001 motion but before its resolution, Jacoba assisted his client in instituting two administrative cases against Judge Lacurom. As we have earlier noted, Civil Case No. 2836 was then pending before Judge Lacuroms sala. The Courts attention is drawn to the fact that the timing of the filing of these administrative cases could very well raise the suspicion that the cases were intended as leverage against Judge Lacurom. Respondent spouses have both been the subject of administrative cases before this Court. In Administrative Case No. 2594, we suspended Jacoba from the practice of law for a period of six months because of "his failure to file an action for the recovery of possession of property despite the lapse of two and a half years from receipt by him of P550 which his client gave him as filing and sheriffs fees."48 In Administrative Case No. 5505, Jacoba was once again found remiss in his duties when he failed to file the appellants brief, resulting in the dismissal of his clients appeal. We imposed the penalty of one year suspension.49 As for Velasco-Jacoba, only recently this Court fined her P5,000 for appearing in barangay conciliation proceedings on behalf of a party, knowing fully well the prohibition contained in Section 415 of the Local Government Code.50 In these cases, the Court sternly warned respondents that a repetition of similar acts would merit a

stiffer penalty. Yet, here again we are faced with the question of whether respondents have conducted themselves with the courtesy and candor required of them as members of the bar and officers of the court. We find respondents to have fallen short of the mark. WHEREFORE, we SUSPEND Atty. Ellis F. Jacoba from the practice of law for two (2) years effective upon finality of this Decision. We also SUSPEND Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba from the practice of law for two (2) months effective upon finality of this Decision. We STERNLY WARN respondentsthat a repetition of the same or similar infraction shall merit a more severe sanction. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondents personal records as attorneys; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and all courts in the country for their information and guidance. SO ORDERED.

DANIEL P. ALMADEN, JR., Complainant,

A.M. No. 08-1982-MTJ Present: YNARES-SANTIAGO, J., Chairperson, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, AZCUNA,* CHICO-NAZARIO, and NACHURA, JJ. Promulgated: October 17, 2008

- versus -

HON. VICTORIO L. GALAPON, JR., Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial Court, Dulag, Leyte, Respondent.

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x RESOLUTION NACHURA, J.:

The present Administrative Case is related to Civil Case No. 66 for ejectment with damages, entitled Cesario Permejo v. Doring Aales, Bandoy Vivero, Anacorita Rosalia, Miguel Kahano, Acelo Songalia, Reynaldo Legaspi, Natividad Servaa, Lolita Almaden, Jose Camenting, Felimon Cinco and Eufronio Malate. The case was filed before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Tolosa, Leyte, presided over by Judge Eriberto Cuenza. Defendant Lolita Almaden died while the case was pending. She was survived by her minor children. On August 16, 1991, the trial court appointed complainant Daniel P. Almaden, Jr. (Almaden) as guardian ad-litem of the minors.[1] Judge Paulino Cabello (Judge Cabello) took over Civil Case No. 66 after the retirement of Judge Eriberto Cuenza. On August 21, 1992, Judge Cabello rendered a decision in favor of the plaintiff and ordered the defendants to vacate the land subject of the complaint.[2] The aforesaid decision became final and executory. Thereafter, plaintiff filed a motion for execution. Judge Mario Nicolasora, the incumbent presiding Judge of MTC, Tolosa, Leyte, voluntarily inhibited himself from the case. As a result thereof, Executive Judge Leonilo B. Apita of RTC, Tacloban City, designated respondent Judge Victorio L. Galapon, Jr. to act on the case.[3] On July 26, 2002, respondent Judge granted plaintiffs motion for execution. On August 14, 2002, respondent Judge issued a writ of execution. The executing officer, Jose A. Portillo, Sheriff IV, RTC, Branch 8, Tacloban City, returned the writ unsatisfied. Thus, plaintiff filed a motion for issuance of a writ of demolition. On November 25, 2002, respondent Judge issued an Order granting the motion and the writ of demolition was correspondingly issued.[4] On April 23, 2003, Almaden filed an administrative complaint against respondent Judge and Sheriff Jose A. Portillo before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 8, Tacloban City, claiming, among others, that respondents demolished his house in Brgy. Poblacion, Tolosa, Leyte and took away his building materials worth more than two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00).

Complainant averred that respondent Judge made it appear that he is one of the defendants in Civil Case No. 66. He maintained that his house stands on a government lot and it was highly irregular for respondent Judge to order the writ of execution to demolish his house since it is not the subject matter of the ejectment suit. The administrative case was docketed as A.M. OCA IPI No. 03-1402-MTJ, and was dismissed on July 27, 2005 for utter lack of merit.[5] On March 7, 2007, complainant filed the present administrative complaint against respondent Judge for usurpation of authority, serious misconduct, issuing unjust order, ignorance of the law and grave abuse of authority. Upon perusal of the complaint, it can be readily discerned that it is just a rehash of his previous complaint in A.M. OCA IPI No. 03-1402-MTJ.[6] On April 16, 2008, the Court issued a Resolution dismissing the complaint for lack of merit and directed complainant to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt of court for filing a malicious complaint pursuant to A.M. No. 03-10-01-SC, entitled Resolution Prescribing Measures to Protect Members of the Judiciary from Baseless and Unfounded Administrative Complaints, the pertinent portion of which reads:
1. If upon an informal preliminary inquiry by the Office of the Court Administrator, an administrative complaint against any Justice of the Court of Appeals or Sandiganbayan or any Judge of the lower courts filed in connection with a case in court is shown to be clearly unfounded and baseless and intended to harass the respondent, such a finding should be included in the report and recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator. If the recommendation is approved or affirmed by the Court, the complainant may be required to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court. If the complainant is a lawyer, he may further be required to show cause why he or she should not be administratively sanctioned as a member of the Bar and as an officer of the court.

In a letter dated May 30, 2008, complainant did not explain why he should not be cited for contempt, but merely reiterated his claim that he was not a party to Civil Case No. 66 and it was respondent Judge who ordered the demolition of his

house, resulting in the loss of building materials, house utensils and other household things.[7] On September 9, 2008, for failure of complainant to explain why he should not be cited for contempt, the Office of the Administrator (OCA) recommended that complainant be meted the penalty of fine in the amount of two thousand pesos (P2,000.00).[8] We agree with the recommendation of the OCA that complainant be penalized. We find the allegations against respondent Judge utterly baseless, considering that he was just acting in the exercise of discretionary powers appurtenant to his position. Complainant was not able to substantiate his complaint with sufficient evidence to show that the orders issued by respondent Judge were tainted with fraud, dishonesty or bad faith. It is settled that in administrative proceedings, the burden of substantiating the charges falls on the complainant.[9]In the absence of proof, as in the case at bench, bare allegations of misconduct cannot prevail over the presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions.[10] The Court has always been strict with any conduct, act or omission that would violate the norm of public accountability or diminish the people's faith in the judiciary. However, when an administrative charge against court personnel has no basis whatsoever, this Court will not hesitate to protect the innocent court employees against any groundless accusation that trifles with judicial process. The Court will not shirk from its responsibility of imposing discipline on employees of the judiciary, but neither will it hesitate to shield them from unfounded suits that only serve to disrupt rather than promote the orderly administration of justice.[11] WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court resolves to ADOPT the recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator. Complainant Daniel P. Almaden, Jr. is hereby found GUILTY OF CONTEMPT OF COURT and is METED a penalty of FINE in the amount of two thousand pesos (P2,000.00). SO ORDERED.

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

CASTRO, J.: Before us is Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen's "Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title," filed on September 25, 1967, in protest against what he therein asserts is "a great injustice committed against his client by this Supreme Court." He indicts this Court, in his own phrase, as a tribunal "peopled by men who are calloused to our pleas for justice, who ignore without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity." His client's he continues, who was deeply aggrieved by this Court's "unjust judgment," has become "one of the sacrificial victims before the altar of hypocrisy." In the same breath that he alludes to the classic symbol of justice, he ridicules the members of this Court, saying "that justice as administered by the present members of the Supreme Court is not only blind, but also deaf and dumb." He then vows to argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum," so that "the people may know of the silent injustice's committed by this Court," and that "whatever mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were committed must never be repeated." He ends his petition with a prayer that ... a resolution issue ordering the Clerk of Court to receive the certificate of the undersigned attorney and counsellor-at-law IN TRUST with reservation that at any time in the future and in the event we regain our faith and confidence, we may retrieve our title to assume the practice of the noblest profession. He reiterated and disclosed to the press the contents of the aforementioned petition. Thus, on September 26, 1967, the Manila Times published statements attributed to him, as follows: Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition, said he did it to expose the tribunal's"unconstitutional and obnoxious" practice of arbitrarily denying petitions or appeals without any reason. Because of the tribunal's "short-cut justice," Almacen deplored, his client was condemned to pay P120,000, without knowing why he lost the case. xxx xxx xxx There is no use continuing his law practice, Almacen said in this petition, "where our Supreme Court is composed of men who are calloused to our pleas for justice, who ignore without reason their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity. xxx xxx xxx He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of his title by which he earns his living, the present members of the Supreme Court "will become responsive to all cases brought to its attention without discrimination, and will purge itself of those unconstitutional and obnoxious "lack of merit" or "denied resolutions. (Emphasis

supplied) Atty. Almacen's statement that ... our own Supreme Court is composed of men who are calloused to our pleas of [sic] justice, who ignore their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity was quoted by columnist Vicente Albano Pacis in the issue of the Manila Chronicle of September 28, 1967. In connection therewith, Pacis commented that Atty. Almacen had "accused the high tribunal of offenses so serious that the Court must clear itself," and that "his charge is one of the constitutional bases for impeachment." The genesis of this unfortunate incident was a civil case entitled Virginia Y. Yaptinchay vs. Antonio H. Calero,1 in which Atty. Almacen was counsel for the defendant. The trial court, after due hearing, rendered judgment against his client. On June 15, 1966 Atty. Almacen received a copy of the decision. Twenty days later, or on July 5, 1966, he moved for its reconsideration. He served on the adverse counsel a copy of the motion, but did not notify the latter of the time and place of hearing on said motion. Meanwhile, on July 18, 1966, the plaintiff moved for execution of the judgment. For "lack of proof of service," the trial court denied both motions. To prove that he did serve on the adverse party a copy of his first motion for reconsideration, Atty. Almacen filed on August 17, 1966 a second motion for reconsideration to which he attached the required registry return card. This second motion for reconsideration, however, was ordered withdrawn by the trial court on August 30, 1966, upon verbal motion of Atty. Almacen himself, who, earlier, that is, on August 22, 1966, had already perfected the appeal. Because the plaintiff interposed no objection to the record on appeal and appeal bond, the trial court elevated the case to the Court of Appeals. But the Court of Appeals, on the authority of this Court's decision in Manila Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., L-16636, June 24, 1965, dismissed the appeal, in the following words: Upon consideration of the motion dated March 27, 1967, filed by plaintiff-appellee praying that the appeal be dismissed, and of the opposition thereto filed by defendant-appellant; the Court RESOLVED TO DISMISS, as it hereby dismisses, the appeal, for the reason that the motion for reconsideration dated July 5, 1966 (pp. 90113, printed record on appeal) does not contain a notice of time and place of hearing thereof and is, therefore, a useless piece of paper (Manila Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., G.R. No. L-16636, June 24, 1965), which did not interrupt the running of the period to appeal, and, consequently, the appeal was perfected out of time. Atty. Almacen moved to reconsider this resolution, urging that Manila Surety & Fidelity Co. is not decisive. At the same time he filed a pleading entitled "Latest decision of the Supreme Court in Support of Motion for Reconsideration," citing Republic of the Philippines vs. Gregorio A. Venturanza, L-20417, decided by this Court on May 30, 1966, as the applicable case. Again, the Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration, thus: Before this Court for resolution are the motion dated May 9, 1967 and the supplement thereto of the same date filed by defendant- appellant, praying for reconsideration of the resolution of May 8, 1967, dismissing the appeal. Appellant contends that there are some important distinctions between this case and that of Manila Surety and Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., G.R. No. L16636, June 24, 1965, relied upon by this Court in its resolution of May 8, 1967. Appellant further states that in the latest case,Republic vs. Venturanza, L-20417,

May 30, 1966, decided by the Supreme Court concerning the question raised by appellant's motion, the ruling is contrary to the doctrine laid down in the Manila Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. case. There is no substantial distinction between this case and that of Manila Surety & Fidelity Co. In the case of Republic vs. Venturanza, the resolution denying the motion to dismiss the appeal, based on grounds similar to those raised herein was issued on November 26, 1962, which was much earlier than the date of promulgation of the decision in the Manila Surety Case, which was June 24, 1965. Further, the resolution in the Venturanza case was interlocutory and the Supreme Court issued it "without prejudice to appellee's restoring the point in the brief." In the main decision in said case (Rep. vs. Venturanza the Supreme Court passed upon the issue sub silencio presumably because of its prior decisions contrary to the resolution of November 26, 1962, one of which is that in the Manila Surety and Fidelity case. Therefore Republic vs. Venturanza is no authority on the matter in issue. Atty. Almacen then appealed to this Court by certiorari. We refused to take the case, and by minute resolution denied the appeal. Denied shortly thereafter was his motion for reconsideration as well as his petition for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration and for extension of time. Entry of judgment was made on September 8, 1967. Hence, the second motion for reconsideration filed by him after the Said date was ordered expunged from the records. It was at this juncture that Atty. Almacen gave vent to his disappointment by filing his "Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title," already adverted to a pleading that is interspersed from beginning to end with the insolent contemptuous, grossly disrespectful and derogatory remarks hereinbefore reproduced, against this Court as well as its individual members, a behavior that is as unprecedented as it is unprofessional. Nonetheless we decided by resolution dated September 28, 1967 to withhold action on his petition until he shall have actually surrendered his certificate. Patiently, we waited for him to make good his proffer. No word came from him. So he was reminded to turn over his certificate, which he had earlier vociferously offered to surrender, so that this Court could act on his petition. To said reminder he manifested "that he has no pending petition in connection with Case G.R. No. L-27654, Calero vs. Yaptinchay, said case is now final and executory;" that this Court's September 28, 1967 resolution did not require him to do either a positive or negative act; and that since his offer was not accepted, he "chose to pursue the negative act." In the exercise of its inherent power to discipline a member of the bar for contumely and gross misconduct, this Court on November 17, 1967 resolved to require Atty. Almacen to show cause "why no disciplinary action should be taken against him." Denying the charges contained in the November 17 resolution, he asked for permission "to give reasons and cause why no disciplinary action should be taken against him ... in an open and public hearing." This Court resolved (on December 7) "to require Atty. Almacen to state, within five days from notice hereof, his reasons for such request, otherwise, oral argument shall be deemed waived and incident submitted for decision." To this resolution he manifested that since this Court is "the complainant, prosecutor and Judge," he preferred to be heard and to answer questions "in person and in an open and public hearing" so that this Court could observe his sincerity and candor. He also asked for leave to file a written explanation "in the event this Court has no time to hear him in person." To give him the ampliest latitude for his defense, he was allowed to file a written explanation and thereafter was heard in oral argument. His written answer, as undignified and cynical as it is unchastened, offers -no apology. Far from

being contrite Atty. Almacen unremittingly repeats his jeremiad of lamentations, this time embellishing it with abundant sarcasm and innuendo. Thus: At the start, let me quote passages from the Holy Bible, Chapter 7, St. Matthew: "Do not judge, that you may not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged, and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you. But why dost thou see the speck in thy brother's eye, and yet dost not consider the beam in thy own eye? Or how can thou say to thy brother, "Let me cast out the speck from thy eye"; and behold, there is a beam in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam from thy own eye, and then thou wilt see clearly to cast out the speck from thy brother's eyes." "Therefore all that you wish men to do to you, even to do you also to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets." xxx xxx xxx Your respondent has no intention of disavowing the statements mentioned in his petition. On the contrary, he refirms the truth of what he stated, compatible with his lawyer's oath that he will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court. But he vigorously DENY under oath that the underscored statements contained in the CHARGE are insolent, contemptuous, grossly disrespectful and derogatory to the individual members of the Court; that they tend to bring the entire Court, without justification, into disrepute; and constitute conduct unbecoming of a member of the noble profession of law. xxx xxx xxx Respondent stands four-square that his statement is borne by TRUTH and has been asserted with NO MALICE BEFORE AND AFTER THOUGHT but mainly motivated with the highest interest of justice that in the particular case of our client, the members have shown callousness to our various pleas for JUSTICE, our pleadings will bear us on this matter, ... xxx xxx xxx To all these beggings, supplications, words of humility, appeals for charity, generosity, fairness, understanding, sympathy and above all in the highest interest of JUSTICE, what did we get from this COURT? One word, DENIED, with all its hardiness and insensibility. That was the unfeeling of the Court towards our pleas and prayers, in simple word, it is plain callousness towards our particular case. xxx xxx xxx Now that your respondent has the guts to tell the members of the Court that notwithstanding the violation of the Constitution, you remained unpunished, this Court in the reverse order of natural things, is now in the attempt to inflict punishment on your respondent for acts he said in good faith. Did His Honors care to listen to our pleadings and supplications for JUSTICE, CHARITY, GENEROSITY and FAIRNESS? Did His Honors attempt to justify their stubborn denial with any semblance of reason, NEVER. Now that your respondent is given the opportunity to face you, he reiterates the same statement with emphasis,

DID YOU? Sir. Is this. the way of life in the Philippines today, that even our own President, said: "the story is current, though nebulous ,is to its truth, it is still being circulated that justice in the Philippines today is not what it is used to be before the war. There are those who have told me frankly and brutally that justice is a commodity, a marketable commodity in the Philippines." xxx xxx xxx We condemn the SIN, not the SINNER. We detest the ACTS, not the ACTOR. We attack the decision of this Court, not the members. ... We were provoked. We were compelled by force of necessity. We were angry but we waited for the finality of the decision. We waited until this Court has performed its duties. We never interfered nor obstruct in the performance of their duties. But in the end, after seeing that the Constitution has placed finality on your judgment against our client and sensing that you have not performed your duties with "circumspection, carefulness, confidence and wisdom", your Respondent rise to claim his God given right to speak the truth and his Constitutional right of free speech. xxx xxx xxx The INJUSTICES which we have attributed to this Court and the further violations we sought to be prevented is impliedly shared by our President. ... . xxx xxx xxx What has been abhored and condemned, are the very things that were applied to us. Recalling Madam Roland's famous apostrophe during the French revolution, "O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name", we may dare say, "O JUSTICE, what technicalities are committed in thy name' or more appropriately, 'O JUSTICE, what injustices are committed in thy name." xxx xxx xxx We must admit that this Court is not free from commission of any abuses, but who would correct such abuses considering that yours is a court of last resort. A strong public opinion must be generated so as to curtail these abuses. xxx xxx xxx The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolize in paintings that can be found in all courts and government offices. We have added only two more symbols, that it is also deaf and dumb. Deaf in the sense that no members of this Court has ever heard our cries for charity, generosity, fairness, understanding sympathy and for justice; dumb in the sense, that inspite of our beggings, supplications, and pleadings to give us reasons why our appeal has been DENIED, not one word was spoken or given ... We refer to no human defect or ailment in the above statement. We only describe the. impersonal state of things and nothing more. xxx xxx xxx As we have stated, we have lost our faith and confidence in the members of this Court and for which reason we offered to surrender our lawyer's certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because what has been lost today may be regained tomorrow. As the offer was intended as our self-imposed sacrifice, then we alone may decide as to when we must end our self-sacrifice. If we have to choose between forcing ourselves to have faith and confidence in the members of the Court but disregard our

Constitution and to uphold the Constitution and be condemned by the members of this Court, there is no choice, we must uphold the latter. But overlooking, for the nonce, the vituperative chaff which he claims is not intended as a studied disrespect to this Court, let us examine the grain of his grievances. He chafes at the minute resolution denial of his petition for review. We are quite aware of the criticisms2 expressed against this Court's practice of rejecting petitions by minute resolutions. We have been asked to do away with it, to state the facts and the law, and to spell out the reasons for denial. We have given this suggestion very careful thought. For we know the abject frustration of a lawyer who tediously collates the facts and for many weary hours meticulously marshalls his arguments, only to have his efforts rebuffed with a terse unadorned denial. Truth to tell, however, most petitions rejected by this Court are utterly frivolous and ought never to have been lodged at all.3 The rest do exhibit a first-impression cogency, but fail to, withstand critical scrutiny. By and large, this Court has been generous in giving due course to petitions for certiorari. Be this as it may, were we to accept every case or write a full opinion for every petition we reject, we would be unable to carry out effectively the burden placed upon us by the Constitution. The proper role of the Supreme Court, as Mr. Chief Justice Vinson of the U.S. Supreme Court has defined it, is to decide "only those cases which present questions whose resolutions will have immediate importance beyond the particular facts and parties involved." Pertinent here is the observation of Mr. Justice Frankfurter in Maryland vs. Baltimore Radio Show, 94 L. ed 562, 566: A variety of considerations underlie denials of the writ, and as to the same petition different reasons may read different justices to the same result ... . Since there are these conflicting, and, to the uninformed, even confusing reasons for denying petitions for certiorari, it has been suggested from time to time that the Court indicate its reasons for denial. Practical considerations preclude. In order that the Court may be enabled to discharge its indispensable duties, Congress has placed the control of the Court's business, in effect, within the Court's discretion. During the last three terms the Court disposed of 260, 217, 224 cases, respectively, on their merits. For the same three terms the Court denied, respectively, 1,260, 1,105,1,189 petitions calling for discretionary review. If the Court is to do its work it would not be feasible to give reasons, however brief, for refusing to take these cases. The tune that would be required is prohibitive. Apart from the fact that as already indicated different reasons not infrequently move different members of the Court in concluding that a particular case at a particular time makes review undesirable. Six years ago, in Novino, et al., vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 1,21098, May 31, 1963 (60 O.G. 8099), this Court, through the then Chief Justice Cesar Bengzon, articulated its considered view on this matter. There, the petitioners counsel urged that a "lack of merit" resolution violates Section 12 of Article VIII of the Constitution. Said Chief Justice Bengzon: In connection with identical short resolutions, the same question has been raised before; and we held that these "resolutions" are not "decisions" within the above constitutional requirement. They merely hold that the petition for review should not be entertained in view of the provisions of Rule 46 of the Rules of Court; and even ordinary lawyers have all this time so understood it. It should be remembered that a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion; and so there is no need to fully explain the court's denial. For one thing, the facts and the law are already mentioned in the Court of Appeals' opinion.

By the way, this mode of disposal has as intended helped the Court in alleviating its heavy docket; it was patterned after the practice of the U.S. Supreme Court, wherein petitions for review are often merely ordered "dismissed". We underscore the fact that cases taken to this Court on petitions for certiorari from the Court of Appeals have had the benefit of appellate review. Hence, the need for compelling reasons to buttress such petitions if this Court is to be moved into accepting them. For it is axiomatic that the supervisory jurisdiction vested upon this Court over the Court of Appeals is not intended to give every losing party another hearing. This axiom is implied in sec. 4 of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which recites: Review of Court of Appeals' decision discretionary.A review is not a matter of right but of sound judicial discretion, and will be granted only when there are special and important reasons therefor. The following, while neither controlling nor fully measuring the court's discretion, indicate the character of reasons which will be considered: (a) When the Court of Appeals has decided a question of substance, not theretofore determined by the Supreme Court, nor has decided it in a way probably not in accord with law or with the applicable decisions of the Supreme Court; (b) When the Court of Appeals has so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, or so far sanctioned such departure by the lower court, as to call for the exercise of the power of supervision. Recalling Atty. Almacen's petition for review, we found, upon a thoroughgoing examination of the pleadings. and records, that the Court of Appeals had fully and correctly considered the dismissal of his appeal in the light of the law and applicable decisions of this Court. Far from straying away from the "accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings," it traced the procedural lines etched by this Court in a number of decisions. There was, therefore, no need for this Court to exercise its supervisory power. As a law practitioner who was admitted to the Bar as far back as 1941, Atty. Almacen knew or ought to have known that for a motion for reconsideration to stay the running of the period of appeal, the movant must not only serve a copy of the motion upon the adverse party (which he did), but also notify the adverse party of the time and place of hearing (which admittedly he did not). This rule was unequivocally articulated in Manila Surety & Fidelity vs. Batu Construction & Co., supra: The written notice referred to evidently is prescribed for motions in general by Rule 15, Sections 4 and 5 (formerly Rule 26), which provides that such notice shall state the time, and place of hearing and shall be served upon all the Parties concerned at least three days in advance. And according to Section 6 of the same Rule no motion shall be acted upon by the court without proof of such notice. Indeed it has been held that in such a case the motion is nothing but a useless piece of paper (Philippine National Bank v. Damasco, I,18638, Feb. 28, 1963; citing Manakil v. Revilla, 42 Phil. 81; Roman Catholic Bishop of Lipa v. Municipality of Unisan, 41 Phil. 866; and Director of Lands vs. Sanz, 45 Phil. 117). The reason is obvious: Unless the movant sets the time and place of hearing the Court would have no way to determine whether that party agrees to or objects to the motion, and if he objects, to hear him on his objection, since the Rules themselves do not fix any period within which he may file his reply or opposition. If Atty. Almacen failed to move the appellate court to review the lower court's judgment, he has only himself to blame. His own negligence caused the forfeiture of the remedy of appeal, which,

incidentally, is not a matter of right. To shift away from himself the consequences of his carelessness, he looked for a "whipping boy." But he made sure that he assumed the posture of a martyr, and, in offering to surrender his professional certificate, he took the liberty of vilifying this Court and inflicting his exacerbating rancor on the members thereof. It would thus appear that there is no justification for his scurrilous and scandalous outbursts. Nonetheless we gave this unprecedented act of Atty. Almacen the most circumspect consideration. We know that it is natural for a lawyer to express his dissatisfaction each time he loses what he sanguinely believes to be a meritorious case. That is why lawyers are given 'wide latitude to differ with, and voice their disapproval of, not only the courts' rulings but, also the manner in which they are handed down. Moreover, every citizen has the right to comment upon and criticize the actuations of public officers. This right is not diminished by the fact that the criticism is aimed at a judicial authority,4 or that it is articulated by a lawyer.5 Such right is especially recognized where the criticism concerns a concluded litigation,6 because then the court's actuations are thrown open to public consumption.7 "Our decisions and all our official actions," said the Supreme Court of Nebraska,8 "are public property, and the press and the people have the undoubted right to comment on them, criticize and censure them as they see fit. Judicial officers, like other public servants, must answer for their official actions before the chancery of public opinion." The likely danger of confusing the fury of human reaction to an attack on one's integrity, competence and honesty, with "imminent danger to the administration of justice," is the reason why courts have been loath to inflict punishment on those who assail their actuations.9 This danger lurks especially in such a case as this where those who Sit as members of an entire Court are themselves collectively the aggrieved parties. Courts thus treat with forbearance and restraint a lawyer who vigorously assails their actuations. 10 For courageous and fearless advocates are the strands that weave durability into the tapestry of justice. Hence, as citizen and officer of the court, every lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right, but also to consider it his duty to expose the shortcomings and indiscretions of courts and judges. 11 Courts and judges are not sacrosanct. 12 They should and expect critical evaluation of their performance. 13 For like the executive and the legislative branches, the judiciary is rooted in the soil of democratic society, nourished by the periodic appraisal of the citizens whom it is expected to serve. Well-recognized therefore is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges. The reason is that An attorney does not surrender, in assuming the important place accorded to him in the administration of justice, his right as a citizen to criticize the decisions of the courts in a fair and respectful manner, and the independence of the bar, as well as of the judiciary, has always been encouraged by the courts. (In re Ades, 6 F Supp. 487) . Criticism of the courts has, indeed, been an important part of the traditional work of the bar. In the prosecution of appeals, he points out the errors of lower courts. In written for law journals he dissects with detachment the doctrinal pronouncements of courts and fearlessly lays bare for -all to see that flaws and inconsistence" of the doctrines (Hill v. Lyman, 126 NYS 2d 286). As aptly stated by Chief Justice Sharswood in Ex Parte Steinman, 40 Am. Rep. 641: No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expansion or

publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities for observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. ... To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood, by the judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained. ... . Hence, as a citizen and as Officer of the court a lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right, but also to consider it his duty to avail of such right. No law may abridge this right. Nor is he "professionally answerable for a scrutiny into the official conduct of the judges, which would not expose him to legal animadversion as a citizen." (Case of Austin, 28 Am. Dee. 657, 665). Above all others, the members of the bar have the beat Opportunity to become conversant with the character and efficiency of our judges. No class is less likely to abuse the privilege, as no other class has as great an interest in the preservation of an able and upright bench. (State Board of Examiners in Law v. Hart, 116 N.W. 212, 216) To curtail the right of a lawyer to be critical of the foibles of courts and judges is to seal the lips of those in the best position to give advice and who might consider it their duty to speak disparagingly. "Under such a rule," so far as the bar is concerned, "the merits of a sitting judge may be rehearsed, but as to his demerits there must be profound silence." (State v. Circuit Court, 72 N.W. 196) But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona fide, and shall not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the One hand, and abuse and slander of courts and the judges thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is Such a misconduct that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action. For, membership in the Bar imposes upon a person obligations and duties which are not mere flux and ferment. His investiture into the legal profession places upon his shoulders no burden more basic, more exacting and more imperative than that of respectful behavior toward the courts. He vows solemnly to conduct himself "with all good fidelity ... to the courts; 14 and the Rules of Court constantly remind him "to observe and maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers." 15 The first canon of legal ethics enjoins him "to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance." As Mr. Justice Field puts it: ... the obligation which attorneys impliedly assume, if they do not by express declaration take upon themselves, when they are admitted to the Bar, is not merely to be obedient to the Constitution and laws, but to maintain at all times the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers. This obligation is not discharged by merely observing the rules of courteous demeanor in open court, but includes abstaining out of court from all insulting language and offensive conduct toward judges personally for their judicial acts. (Bradley, v. Fisher, 20 Law. 4d. 647, 652) The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential to the orderly administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers even those gifted with superior intellect are enjoined to rein up their tempers. The counsel in any case may or may not be an abler or more learned lawyer than the judge, and it may tax his patience and temper to submit to rulings which he regards

as incorrect, but discipline and self-respect are as necessary to the orderly administration of justice as they are to the effectiveness of an army. The decisions of the judge must be obeyed, because he is the tribunal appointed to decide, and the bar should at all times be the foremost in rendering respectful submission. (In Re Scouten, 40 Atl. 481) We concede that a lawyer may think highly of his intellectual endowment That is his privilege. And he may suffer frustration at what he feels is others' lack of it. That is his misfortune. Some such frame of mind, however, should not be allowed to harden into a belief that he may attack a court's decision in words calculated to jettison the time-honored aphorism that courts are the temples of right. (Per Justice Sanchez in Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer, L-22979. June 26, 1967) In his relations with the courts, a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an attorney at one time and a mere citizen at another. Thus, statements made by an attorney in private conversations or communications 16 or in the course of a political, campaign, 17 if couched in insulting language as to bring into scorn and disrepute the administration of justice, may subject the attorney to disciplinary action. Of fundamental pertinence at this juncture is an examination of relevant parallel precedents. 1. Admitting that a "judge as a public official is neither sacrosanct nor immune to public criticism of his conduct in office," the Supreme Court of Florida in State v. Calhoon, 102 So. 2d 604, 608, nevertheless declared that "any conduct of a lawyer which brings into scorn and disrepute the administration of justice demands condemnation and the application of appropriate penalties," adding that: It would be contrary to, every democratic theory to hold that a judge or a court is beyond bona fide comments and criticisms which do not exceed the bounds of decency and truth or which are not aimed at. the destruction of public confidence in the judicial system as such. However, when the likely impairment of the administration of justice the direct product of false and scandalous accusations then the rule is otherwise. 2. In In Re Glenn, 130 N.W. 2d 672, an attorney was suspended for putting out and circulating a leaflet entitled "JUSTICE??? IN OTUMWA," which accused a municipal judge of having committed judicial error, of being so prejudiced as to deny his clients a fair trial on appeal and of being subject to the control of a group of city officials. As a prefatory statement he wrote: "They say that Justice is BLIND, but it took Municipal Judge Willard to prove that it is also DEAF and DUMB!" The court did not hesitate to find that the leaflet went much further than the accused, as a lawyer, had a right to do. The entire publication evidences a desire on the part Of the accused to belittle and besmirch the court and to bring it into disrepute with the general public. 3. In In Re Humphrey, 163 Pac. 60, the Supreme Court of California affirmed the two-year suspension of an attorney who published a circular assailing a judge who at that time was a candidate for re-election to a judicial office. The circular which referred to two decisions of the judge concluded with a statement that the judge "used his judicial office to enable -said bank to keep that money." Said the court: We are aware that there is a line of authorities which place no limit to the criticism members of the bar may make regarding the capacity, impartiality, or integrity of the courts, even though it extends to the deliberate publication by the attorney capable of correct reasoning of baseless insinuations against the intelligence and integrity of the

highest courts. See State Board, etc. v. Hart. 116 N.W. 212, 17 LRA (N.S.) 585, 15 Ann Cas 197 and note: Ex parte Steinman 95 Pac. 220, 40 Am. Rep. 637. In the first case mentioned it was observed, for instance: "It may be (although we do not so decide) that a libelous publication by an attorney, directed against a judicial officer, could be so vile and of such a nature as to justify the disbarment of its author." Yet the false charges made by an attorney in that case were of graver character than those made by the respondent here. But, in our view, the better rule is that which requires of those who are permitted to enjoy the privilege of practicing law the strictest observance at all times of the principles of truth, honesty and fairness, especially in their criticism of the courts, to the end that the public confidence in the due administration of justice be upheld, and the dignity and usefulness of the courts be maintained. In re Collins, 81 Pac. 220. 4. In People ex rel Chicago Bar Asso. v. Metzen, 123 N.E. 734, an attorney, representing a woman who had been granted a divorce, attacked the judge who set aside the decree on bill of review. He wrote the judge a threatening letter and gave the press the story of a proposed libel suit against the judge and others. The letter began: Unless the record in In re Petersen v. Petersen is cleared up so that my name is protected from the libel, lies, and perjury committed in the cases involved, I shall be compelled to resort to such drastic action as the law allows and the case warrants. Further, he said: "However let me assure you I do not intend to allow such dastardly work to go unchallenged," and said that he was engaged in dealing with men and not irresponsible political manikins or appearances of men. Ordering the attorney's disbarment, the Supreme Court of Illinois declared: ... Judges are not exempt from just criticism, and whenever there is proper ground for serious complaint against a judge, it is the right and duty of a lawyer to submit his grievances to the proper authorities, but the public interest and the administration of the law demand that the courts should have the confidence and respect of the people. Unjust criticism, insulting language, and offensive conduct toward the judges personally by attorneys, who are officers of the court, which tend to bring the courts and the law into disrepute and to destroy public confidence in their integrity, cannot be permitted. The letter written to the judge was plainly an attempt to intimidate and influence him in the discharge of judicial functions, and the bringing of the unauthorized suit, together with the write-up in the Sunday papers, was intended and calculated to bring the court into disrepute with the public. 5. In a public speech, a Rhode Island lawyer accused the courts of the state of being influenced by corruption and greed, saying that the seats of the Supreme Court were bartered. It does not appear that the attorney had criticized any of the opinions or decisions of the Court. The lawyer was charged with unprofessional conduct, and was ordered suspended for a period of two years. The Court said: A calumny of that character, if believed, would tend to weaken the authority of the court against whose members it was made, bring its judgments into contempt, undermine its influence as an unbiased arbiter of the people's right, and interfere with the administration of justice. ... Because a man is a member of the bar the court will not, under the guise of disciplinary proceedings, deprive him of any part of that freedom of speech which he possesses as a citizen. The acts and decisions of the courts of this state, in cases

that have reached final determination, are not exempt from fair and honest comment and criticism. It is only when an attorney transcends the limits of legitimate criticism that he will be held responsible for an abuse of his liberty of speech. We well understand that an independent bar, as well as independent court, is always a vigilant defender of civil rights. In Re Troy, 111 Atl. 723. 725. 6. In In Re Rockmore, 111 NYS 879, an attorney was suspended for six months for submitting to an appellate court an affidavit reflecting upon the judicial integrity of the court from which the appeal was taken. Such action, the Court said, constitutes unprofessional conduct justifying suspension from practice, notwithstanding that he fully retracted and withdrew the statements, and asserted that the affidavit was the result of an impulse caused by what he considered grave injustice. The Court said: We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that there is a growing habit in the profession of criticising the motives and integrity of judicial officers in the discharge of their duties, and thereby reflecting on the administration of justice and creating the impression that judicial action is influenced by corrupt or improper motives. Every attorney of this court, as well as every other citizen, has the right and it is his duty, to submit charges to the authorities in whom is vested the power to remove judicial officers for any conduct or act of a judicial officer that tends to show a violation of his duties, or would justify an inference that he is false to his trust, or has improperly administered the duties devolved upon him; and such charges to the tribunal, if based upon reasonable inferences, will be encouraged, and the person making them protected. ... While we recognize the inherent right of an attorney in a case decided against him, or the right of the Public generally, to criticise the decisions of the courts, or the reasons announced for them, the habit of criticising the motives of judicial officers in the performance of their official duties, when the proceeding is not against the officers whose acts or motives are criticised, tends to subvert the confidence of the community in the courts of justice and in the administration of justice; and when such charges are made by officers of the courts, who are bound by their duty to protect the administration of justice, the attorney making such charges is guilty of professional misconduct. 7. In In Re Mitchell, 71 So. 467, a lawyer published this statement: I accepted the decision in this case, however, with patience, barring possible temporary observations more or less vituperative and finally concluded, that, as my clients were foreigners, it might have been expecting too much to look for a decision in their favor against a widow residing here. The Supreme Court of Alabama declared that: ... the expressions above set out, not only transcend the bounds of propriety and privileged criticism, but are an unwarranted attack, direct, or by insinuation and innuendo, upon the motives and integrity of this court, and make out a prima facie case of improper conduct upon the part of a lawyer who holds a license from this court and who is under oath to demean himself with all good fidelity to the court as well as to his client. The charges, however, were dismissed after the attorney apologized to the Court. 8. In State ex rel. Dabney v. Breckenridge, 258 Pac. 747, an attorney published in a newspaper an article in which he impugned the motives of the court and its members to try a case, charging the court of having arbitrarily and for a sinister purpose undertaken to suspend the writ of habeas

corpus. The Court suspended the respondent for 30 days, saying that: The privileges which the law gives to members of the bar is one most subversive of the public good, if the conduct of such members does not measure up to the requirements of the law itself, as well as to the ethics of the profession. ... The right of free speech and free discussion as to judicial determination is of prime importance under our system and ideals of government. No right thinking man would concede for a moment that the best interest to private citizens, as well as to public officials, whether he labors in a judicial capacity or otherwise, would be served by denying this right of free speech to any individual. But such right does not have as its corollary that members of the bar who are sworn to act honestly and honorably both with their client and with the courts where justice is administered, if administered at all, could ever properly serve their client or the public good by designedly misstating facts or carelessly asserting the law. Truth and honesty of purpose by members of the bar in such discussion is necessary. The health of a municipality is none the less impaired by a polluted water supply than is the health of the thought of a community toward the judiciary by the filthy wanton, and malignant misuse of members of the bar of the confidence the public, through its duly established courts, has reposed in them to deal with the affairs of the private individual, the protection of whose rights he lends his strength and money to maintain the judiciary. For such conduct on the part of the members of the bar the law itself demands retribution not the court. 9. In Bar Ass'n of San Francisco v. Philbrook, 170 Pac. 440, the filing of an affidavit by an attorney in a pending action using in respect to the several judges the terms criminal corrupt, and wicked conspiracies,," "criminal confederates," "colossal and confident insolence," "criminal prosecution," "calculated brutality," "a corrupt deadfall," and similar phrases, was considered conduct unbecoming of a member of the bar, and the name of the erring lawyer was ordered stricken from the roll of attorneys. 10. In State Board of Examiners v. Hart, 116 N.W. 215, the erring attorney claimed that greater latitude should be allowed in case of criticism of cases finally adjudicated than in those pending. This lawyer wrote a personal letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Minnesota impugning both the intelligence and the integrity of the said Chief Justice and his associates in the decisions of certain appeals in which he had been attorney for the defeated litigants. The letters were published in a newspaper. One of the letters contained this paragraph: You assigned it (the property involved) to one who has no better right to it than the burglar to his plunder. It seems like robbing a widow to reward a fraud, with the court acting as a fence, or umpire, watchful and vigilant that the widow got no undue advantage. ... The point is this: Is a proper motive for the decisions discoverable, short of assigning to the court emasculated intelligence, or a constipation of morals and faithlessness to duty? If the state bar association, or a committee chosen from its rank, or the faculty of the University Law School, aided by the researches of its hundreds of bright, active students, or if any member of the court, or any other person, can formulate a statement of a correct motive for the decision, which shall not require fumigation before it is stated, and quarantine after it is made, it will gratify every right-minded citizen of the state to read it. The Supreme Court of Minnesota, in ordering the suspension of the attorney for six months, delivered its opinion as follows: The question remains whether the accused was guilty of professional misconduct in sending to the Chief Justice the letter addressed to him. This was done, as we have

found, for the very purpose of insulting him and the other justices of this court; and the insult was so directed to the Chief Justice personally because of acts done by him and his associates in their official capacity. Such a communication, so made, could never subserve any good purpose. Its only effect in any case would be to gratify the spite of an angry attorney and humiliate the officers so assailed. It would not and could not ever enlighten the public in regard to their judicial capacity or integrity. Nor was it an exercise by the accused of any constitutional right, or of any privilege which any reputable attorney, uninfluenced by passion, could ever have any occasion or desire to assert. No judicial officer, with due regard to his position, can resent such an insult otherwise than by methods sanctioned by law; and for any words, oral or written, however abusive, vile, or indecent, addressed secretly to the judge alone, he can have no redress in any action triable by a jury. "The sending of a libelous communication or libelous matter to the person defamed does not constitute an actionable publication." 18 Am. & Eng. Enc. Law (2d Ed.) p. 1017. In these respects the sending by the accused of this letter to the Chief Justice was wholly different from his other acts charged in the accusation, and, as we have said, wholly different principles are applicable thereto. The conduct of the accused was in every way discreditable; but so far as he exercised the rights of a citizen, guaranteed by the Constitution and sanctioned by considerations of public policy, to which reference has been made, he was immune, as we hold, from the penalty here sought to be enforced. To that extent his rights as a citizen were paramount to the obligation which he had assumed as an officer of this court. When, however he proceeded and thus assailed the Chief Justice personally, he exercised no right which the court can recognize, but, on the contrary, willfully violated his obligation to maintain the respect due to courts and judicial officers. "This obligation is not discharged by merely observing the rules of courteous demeanor in open court, but it includes abstaining out of court from all insulting language and offensive conduct toward the judges personally for their official acts."Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. (U.S.) 355, 20 L. Ed. 646. And there appears to be no distinction, as regards the principle involved, between the indignity of an assault by an attorney upon a judge, induced by his official act, and a personal insult for like cause by written or spoken words addressed to the judge in his chambers or at his home or elsewhere. Either act constitutes misconduct wholly different from criticism of judicial acts addressed or spoken to others. The distinction made is, we think entirely logical and well sustained by authority. It was recognized in Ex parte McLeod supra. While the court in that case, as has been shown, fully sustained the right of a citizen to criticise rulings of the court in actions which are ended, it held that one might be summarily punished for assaulting a judicial officer, in that case a commissioner of the court, for his rulings in a cause wholly concluded. "Is it in the power of any person," said the court, "by insulting or assaulting the judge because of official acts, if only the assailant restrains his passion until the judge leaves the building, to compel the judge to forfeit either his own self-respect to the regard of the people by tame submission to the indignity, or else set in his own person the evil example of punishing the insult by taking the law in his own hands? ... No high-minded, manly man would hold judicial office under such conditions." That a communication such as this, addressed to the Judge personally, constitutes professional delinquency for which a professional punishment may be imposed, has been directly decided. "An attorney who, after being defeated in a case, wrote a personal letter to the trial justice, complaining of his conduct and reflecting upon his integrity as a justice, is guilty of misconduct and will be disciplined by the court." Matter of Manheim 133 App. Div. 136, 99 N.Y. Supp. 87 The same is held in Re

Griffin (City Ct.) 1 N.Y. 7 and in Re Wilkes (City Ct.) 3 N.Y. In the latter case it appeared that the accused attorney had addressed a sealed letter to a justice of the City Court of New York, in which it was stated, in reference to his decision: "It is not law; neither is it common sense. The result is I have been robbed of 80." And it was decided that, while such conduct was not a contempt under the state, the matter should be "called to the attention of the Supreme Court, which has power to discipline the attorney." "If," says the court, "counsel learned in the law are permitted by writings leveled at the heads of judges, to charge them with ignorance, with unjust rulings, and with robbery, either as principals or accessories, it will not be long before the general public may feel that they may redress their fancied grievances in like manner, and thus the lot of a judge will be anything but a happy one, and the administration of justice will fall into bad repute." The recent case of Johnson v. State (Ala.) 44 South. 671, was in this respect much the same as the case at bar. The accused, an attorney at law, wrote and mailed a letter to the circuit judge, which the latter received by due course of mail, at his home, while not holding court, and which referred in insulting terms to the conduct of the judge in a cause wherein the accused had been one of the attorneys. For this it was held that the attorney was rightly disbarred in having "willfully failed to maintain respect due to him [the judge] as a judicial officer, and thereby breached his oath as an attorney." As recognizing the same principle, and in support of its application to the facts of this case, we cite the following: Ex parte Bradley, 7 Wall (U.S.) 364, 19 L. Ed. 214; Beene v. State, 22 Ark. 149;Commonwealth v. Dandridge, 2 Va. Cas. 408; People v. Green, 7 Colo 237, 244, 3 Pac. 65, 374, 49 Am. Rep. 351; Smith's Appeal, 179 Pa. 14, 36 Atl. 134; Scouten's Appeal, 186 Pa. 270, Atl. 481. Our conclusion is that the charges against the accused have been so far sustained as to make it our duty to impose such a penalty as may be sufficient lesson to him and a suitable warning to others. ... 11. In Cobb v. United States, 172 F. 641, the court affirmed a lawyer's suspension for 18 months for publishing a letter in a newspaper in which he accused a judge of being under the sinister influence of a gang that had paralyzed him for two years. 12. In In Re Graves, 221 Pac. 411, the court held that an attorney's unjustifiable attack against the official acts and decisions of a judge constitutes "moral turpitude." There, the attorney was disbarred for criticising not only the judge, but his decisions in general claiming that the judge was dishonest in reaching his decisions and unfair in his general conduct of a case. 13. In In Re Doss, 12 N.E. 2d 659, an attorney published newspaper articles after the trial of cases, criticising the court in intemperate language. The invariable effect of this sort of propaganda, said the court, is to breed disrespect for courts and bring the legal profession into disrepute with the public, for which reason the lawyer was disbarred. 14. In State v. Grimes, 354 Pac. 2d 108, an attorney, dissatisfied with the loss of a case, prepared over a period of years vicious attacks on jurists. The Oklahoma Supreme Court declared that his acts involved such gross moral turpitude as to make him unfit as a member of the bar. His disbarment was ordered, even though he expressed an intention to resign from the bar. The teaching derived from the above disquisition and impressive affluence of judicial pronouncements is indubitable: Post-litigation utterances or publications, made by lawyers, critical of the courts and their judicial actuations, whether amounting to a crime or not, which transcend the permissible bounds of fair comment and legitimate criticism and thereby tend to bring them into disrepute or to subvert public confidence in their integrity and in the orderly administration of justice,

constitute grave professional misconduct which may be visited with disbarment or other lesser appropriate disciplinary sanctions by the Supreme Court in the exercise of the prerogatives inherent in it as the duly constituted guardian of the morals and ethics of the legal fraternity. Of course, rarely have we wielded our disciplinary powers in the face of unwarranted outbursts of counsel such as those catalogued in the above-cited jurisprudence. Cases of comparable nature have generally been disposed of under the power of courts to punish for contempt which, although resting on different bases and calculated to attain a different end, nevertheless illustrates that universal abhorrence of such condemnable practices. A perusal of the more representative of these instances may afford enlightenment. 1. In Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724, where counsel branded the denial of his motion for reconsideration as "absolutely erroneous and constituting an outrage to the rigths of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls," this Court, although conceding that It is right and plausible that an attorney, in defending the cause and rights of his client, should do so with all the fervor and energy of which he is capable, but it is not, and never will be so for him to exercise said right by resorting to intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and respect which the dignity of the courts requires. The reason for this is that respect for the courts guarantees the stability of their institution. Without such guaranty, said institution would be resting on a very shaky foundation, found counsel guilty of contempt inasmuch as, in its opinion, the statements made disclosed ... an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the court and an intentional contempt of its dignity, because the court is thereby charged with no less than having proceeded in utter disregard of the laws, the rights to the parties, and 'of the untoward consequences, or with having abused its power and mocked and flouted the rights of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's client ... . 2. In In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595, counsel, a senator and the author of the Press Freedom Law, reaching to, the imprisonment for contempt of one Angel Parazo, who, invoking said law, refused to divulge the source of a news item carried in his paper, caused to be published in i local newspaper a statement expressing his regret "that our High Tribunal has not only erroneously interpreted said law, but it is once more putting in evidence the incompetency or narrow mindedness of the majority of its members," and his belief that "In the wake of so many blunders and injustices deliberately committed during these last years, ... the only remedy to put an end to go much evil, is to change the members of the Supreme Court," which tribunal he denounced as "a constant peril to liberty and democracy" and "a far cry from the impregnable bulwark of justice of those memorable times of Cayetano Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who were the honor and glory of the Philippine Judiciary." He there also announced that one of the first measures he would introduce in then forthcoming session of Congress would have for its object the complete reorganization of the Supreme Court. Finding him in contempt, despite his avowals of good faith and his invocation of the guarantee of free speech, this Court declared: But in the above-quoted written statement which he caused to be published in the press, the respondent does not merely criticize or comment on the decision of the Parazo case, which was then and still is pending consideration by this Court upon petition of Angel Parazo. He not only intends to intimidate the members of this Court with the presentation of a bill in the next Congress, of which he is one of the members, reorganizing the Supreme Court and reducing the number of Justices from

eleven, so as to change the members of this Court which decided the Parazo case, who according to his statement, are incompetent and narrow minded, in order to influence the final decision of said case by this Court, and thus embarrass or obstruct the administration of justice. But the respondent also attacks the honesty and integrity of this Court for the apparent purpose of bringing the Justices of this Court into disrepute and degrading the administration. of justice ... . To hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing deliberately so many blunders and injustices, that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of Que party knowing that the law and justice is on the part of the adverse party and not on the one in whose favor the decision was rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would tend necessarily to undermine the confidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court, and consequently to lower ,or degrade the administration of justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines is, under the Constitution, the last bulwark to which the Filipino people may repair to obtain relief for their grievances or protection of their rights when these are trampled upon, and if the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their own hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result. As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts, Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which he owes fidelity according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to promote distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the courts guarantees the stability of other institutions, which without such guaranty would be resting on a very shaky foundation. Significantly, too, the Court therein hastened to emphasize that ... an attorney as an officer of the court is under special obligation to be respectful in his conduct and communication to the courts; he may be removed from office or stricken from the roll of attorneys as being guilty of flagrant misconduct (17 L.R.A. [N.S.], 586, 594.) 3. In Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer: In re Proceedings against Alfonso Ponce Enrile, et al., supra, where counsel charged this Court with having "repeatedly fallen" into ,the pitfall of blindly adhering to its previous "erroneous" pronouncements, "in disregard of the law on jurisdiction" of the Court of Industrial Relations, our condemnation of counsel's misconduct was unequivocal. Articulating the sentiments of the Court, Mr. Justice Sanchez stressed: As we look back at the language (heretofore quoted) employed in the motion for reconsideration, implications there are which inescapably arrest attention. It speaks of one pitfall into which this Court has repeatedly fallen whenever the jurisdiction of the Court of Industrial Relations comes into question. That pitfall is the tendency of this Court to rely on its own pronouncements in disregard of the law on jurisdiction. It makes a sweeping charge that the decisions of this Court, blindly adhere to earlier rulings without as much as making any reference to and analysis of the pertinent statute governing the jurisdiction of the industrial court. The plain import of all these is that this Court is so patently inept that in determining the jurisdiction of the industrial court, it has committed error and continuously repeated that error to the point of perpetuation. It pictures this Court as one which refuses to hew to the line drawn by the law on jurisdictional boundaries. Implicit in the quoted statements is that the pronouncements of this Court on the jurisdiction of the industrial court are not entitled to respect. Those statements detract much from the dignity of and respect due this Court. They bring into question the capability of the members and

some former members of this Court to render justice. The second paragraph quoted yields a tone of sarcasm which counsel labelled as "so called" the "rule against splitting of jurisdiction." Similar thoughts and sentiments have been expressed in other cases 18 which, in the interest of brevity, need not now be reviewed in detail. Of course, a common denominator underlies the aforecited cases all of them involved contumacious statements made in pleadings filed pending litigation. So that, in line with the doctrinal rule that the protective mantle of contempt may ordinarily be invoked only against scurrilous remarks or malicious innuendoes while a court mulls over a pending case and not after the conclusion thereof, 19 Atty. Almacen would now seek to sidestep the thrust of a contempt charge by his studied emphasis that the remarks for which he is now called upon to account were made only after this Court had written finis to his appeal. This is of no moment. The rule that bars contempt after a judicial proceeding has terminated, has lost much of its vitality. For sometime, this was the prevailing view in this jurisdiction. The first stir for a modification thereof, however, came when, inPeople vs. Alarcon, 20 the then Chief Justice Manuel V. Moran dissented with the holding of the majority, speaking thru Justice Jose P. Laurel, which upheld the rule aboveadverted to. A complete disengagement from the settled rule was later to be made in In re Brillantes, 21 a contempt proceeding, where the editor of the Manila Guardian was adjudged in contempt for publishing an editorial which asserted that the 1944 Bar Examinations were conducted in a farcical manner after the question of the validity of the said examinations had been resolved and the case closed. Virtually, this was an adoption of the view expressed by Chief Justice Moran in his dissent in Alarcon to the effect that them may still be contempt by publication even after a case has been terminated. Said Chief Justice Moran inAlarcon: A publication which tends to impede, obstruct, embarrass or influence the courts in administering justice in a pending suit or proceeding, constitutes criminal contempt which is 'summarily punishable by courts. A publication which tends to degrade the courts and to destroy public confidence in them or that which tends to bring them in any way into disrepute, constitutes likewise criminal contempt, and is equally punishable by courts. What is sought, in the first kind of contempt, to be shielded against the influence of newspaper comments, is the all-important duty of the courts to administer justice in the decision of a pending case. In the second kind of contempt, the punitive hand of justice is extended to vindicate the courts from any act or conduct calculated to bring them into disfavor or to destroy public confidence in them. In the first there is no contempt where there is no action pending, as there is no decision which might in any way be influenced by the newspaper publication. In the second, the contempt exists, with or without a pending case, as what is sought to be protected is the court itself and its dignity. Courts would lose their utility if public confidence in them is destroyed. Accordingly, no comfort is afforded Atty. Almacen by the circumstance that his statements and actuations now under consideration were made only after the judgment in his client's appeal had attained finality. He could as much be liable for contempt therefor as if it had been perpetrated during the pendency of the said appeal. More than this, however, consideration of whether or not he could be held liable for contempt for such post litigation utterances and actuations, is here immaterial. By the tenor of our Resolution of November 17, 1967, we have confronted the situation here presented solely in so far as it concerns Atty. Almacen's professional identity, his sworn duty as a lawyer and his fitness as an officer of this Court, in the exercise of the disciplinary power the morals inherent in our authority and duty to safeguard and ethics of the legal profession and to preserve its ranks from the intrusions of

unprincipled and unworthy disciples of the noblest of callings. In this inquiry, the pendency or nonpendency of a case in court is altogether of no consequence. The sole objective of this proceeding is to preserve the purity of the legal profession, by removing or suspending a member whose misconduct has proved himself unfit to continue to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging to the office of an attorney. Undoubtedly, this is well within our authority to do. By constitutional mandate, 22 our is the solemn duty, amongst others, to determine the rules for admission to the practice of law. Inherent in this prerogative is the corresponding authority to discipline and exclude from the practice of law those who have proved themselves unworthy of continued membership in the Bar. Thus
The power to discipline attorneys, who are officers of the court, is an inherent and incidental power in courts of record, and one which is essential to an orderly discharge of judicial functions. To deny its existence is equivalent to a declaration that the conduct of attorneys towards courts and clients is not subject to restraint. Such a view is without support in any respectable authority, and cannot be tolerated. Any court having the right to admit attorneys to practice and in this state that power is vested in this court-has the inherent right, in the exercise of a sound judicial discretion to exclude them from practice. 23

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

Indeed, in this jurisdiction, that power to remove or suspend has risen above being a mere inherent or incidental power. It has been elevated to an express mandate by the Rules of Court. 25 Our authority and duty in the premises being unmistakable, we now proceed to make an assessment of whether or not the utterances and actuations of Atty. Almacen here in question are properly the object of disciplinary sanctions. The proffered surrender of his lawyer's certificate is, of course, purely potestative on Atty. Almacen's part. Unorthodox though it may seem, no statute, no law stands in its way. Beyond making the mere offer, however, he went farther. In haughty and coarse language, he actually availed of the said move as a vehicle for his vicious tirade against this Court. The integrated entirety of his petition bristles with vile insults all calculated to drive home his contempt for and disrespect to the Court and its members. Picturing his client as "a sacrificial victim at the altar of hypocrisy," he categorically denounces the justice administered by this Court to be not only blind "but also deaf and dumb." With unmitigated acerbity, he virtually makes this Court and its members with verbal talons, imputing to the Court the perpetration of "silent injustices" and "short-cut justice" while at the same time branding its members as "calloused to pleas of justice." And, true to his announced threat to argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum," he caused the publication in the papers of an account of his actuations, in a calculated effort ;to startle the public, stir up public indignation and disrespect toward the Court. Called upon to make an explanation, he expressed no regret, offered no apology. Instead, with characteristic arrogance, he rehashed and reiterated his vituperative attacks and, alluding to the Scriptures, virtually tarred and feathered the Court and its members as inveterate hypocrites incapable of administering justice and unworthy to impose disciplinary sanctions upon him.

The virulence so blatantly evident in Atty. Almacen's petition, answer and oral argumentation speaks for itself. The vicious language used and the scurrilous innuendoes they carried far transcend the permissible bounds of legitimate criticism. They could never serve any purpose but to gratify the spite of an irate attorney, attract public attention to himself and, more important of all, bring ;this Court and its members into disrepute and destroy public confidence in them to the detriment of the orderly administration of justice. Odium of this character and texture presents no redeeming feature, and completely negates any pretense of passionate commitment to the truth. It is not a whit less than a classic example of gross misconduct, gross violation of the lawyer's oath and gross transgression of the Canons of Legal Ethics. As such, it cannot be allowed to go unrebuked. The way for the exertion of our disciplinary powers is thus laid clear, and the need therefor is unavoidable. We must once more stress our explicit disclaimer of immunity from criticism. Like any other Government entity in a viable democracy, the Court is not, and should not be, above criticism. But a critique of the Court must be intelligent and discriminating, fitting to its high function as the court of last resort. And more than this, valid and healthy criticism is by no means synonymous to obloquy, and requires detachment and disinterestedness, real qualities approached only through constant striving to attain them. Any criticism of the Court must, possess the quality of judiciousness and must be informed -by perspective and infused by philosophy. 26 It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the exercise of our authority in ;the premises, that, as Atty. Almacen would have appear, the members of the Court are the "complainants, prosecutors and judges" all rolled up into one in this instance. This is an utter misapprehension, if not a total distortion, not only of the nature of the proceeding at hand but also of our role therein. Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this proceeding is not and does not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers. 27 Not being intended to. inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. 28 Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. 29 In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor. Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a certain degree, aggrieved parties. Any tirade against the Court as a body is necessarily and inextricably as much so against the individual members thereof. But in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court acts as an entity separate and distinct from the individual personalities of its members. Consistently with the intrinsic nature of a collegiate court, the individual members act not as such individuals but. only as a duly constituted court. Their distinct individualities are lost in the majesty of their office. 30So that, in a very real sense, if there be any complainant in the case at bar, it can only be the Court itself, not the individual members thereof as well as the people themselves whose rights, fortunes and properties, nay, even lives, would be placed at grave hazard should the administration of justice be threatened by the retention in the Bar of men unfit to discharge the solemn responsibilities of membership in the legal fraternity. Finally, the power to exclude persons from the practice of law is but a necessary incident of the power to admit persons to said practice. By constitutional precept, this power is vested exclusively in this Court. This duty it cannot abdicate just as much as it cannot unilaterally renounce jurisdiction

legally invested upon it. 31 So that even if it be conceded that the members collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, that fact alone does not and cannot disqualify them from the exercise of that power because public policy demands that they., acting as a Court, exercise the power in all cases which call for disciplinary action. The present is such a case. In the end, the imagined anomaly of the merger in one entity of the personalities of complainant, prosecutor and judge is absolutely inexistent. Last to engage our attention is the nature and extent of the sanctions that may be visited upon Atty. Almacen for his transgressions. As marked out by the Rules of Court, these may range from mere suspension to total removal or disbarment. 32 The discretion to assess under the circumstances the imposable sanction is, of course, primarily addressed to the sound discretion of the Court which, being neither arbitrary and despotic nor motivated by personal animosity or prejudice, should ever be controlled by the imperative need that the purity and independence of the Bar be scrupulously guarded and the dignity of and respect due to the Court be zealously maintained. That the misconduct committed by Atty. Almacen is of considerable gravity cannot be overemphasized. However, heeding the stern injunction that disbarment should never be decreed where a lesser sanction would accomplish the end desired, and believing that it may not perhaps be futile to hope that in the sober light of some future day, Atty. Almacen will realize that abrasive language never fails to do disservice to an advocate and that in every effervescence of candor there is ample room for the added glow of respect, it is our view that suspension will suffice under the circumstances. His demonstrated persistence in his misconduct by neither manifesting repentance nor offering apology therefor leave us no way of determining how long that suspension should last and, accordingly, we are impelled to decree that the same should be indefinite. This, we are empowered to do not alone because jurisprudence grants us discretion on the matter 33 but also because, even without the comforting support of precedent, it is obvious that if we have authority to completely exclude a person from the practice of law, there is no reason why indefinite suspension, which is lesser in degree and effect, can be regarded as falling outside of the compass of that authority. The merit of this choice is best shown by the fact that it will then be left to Atty. Almacen to determine for himself how long or how short that suspension shall last. For, at any time after the suspension becomes effective he may prove to this Court that he is once again fit to resume the practice of law. ACCORDINGLY, IT IS THE SENSE of the Court that Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen be, as he is hereby, suspended from the practice of law until further orders, the suspension to take effect immediately. Let copies of this resolution. be furnished the Secretary of Justice, the Solicitor General and the Court of Appeals for their information and guidance. Concepcion,. C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Teehankee, Barredo and Villamor JJ., concur. Fernando, J., took no part.

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

PUNO, C.J., QUISUMBING, YNARES-SANTIAGO, SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ. CARPIO, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, CORONA, CARPIO MORALES, AZCUNA, TINGA, CHICO-NAZARIO, GARCIA, VELASCO, JR., NACHURA, and REYES, JJ. Promulgated: October 9, 2007 X ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ X

DECISION
AZCUNA, J.:
This administrative case stemmed from the events of the proceedings in Crim. Case No. 5144, entitled People v. Luis Bucalon Plaza, heard before the sala of Presiding Judge Jose Manuel P. Tan, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of SurigaoCity, 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 datedNovember 12, 2002 and February 10, 2003, to the Court of Appeals (CA). Instead of availing himself only of judicial remedies, respondent caused the publication of an article regarding the Order granting bail to the accused in the August 18, 2003 issue of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily. The article, entitled Senior prosecutor lambasts Surigao judge for allowing murder suspect to bail out, reads:
SENIOR state prosecutor has lashed at a judge in Surigao City for allowing a murder suspect to go out on bail. Senior state prosecutor Rogelio Bagabuyo lambasted Judge Manuel Tan of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 29 based in Surigao City for ruling on a motion that sought a bailbond for Luis Plaza who stands charged with murdering a policeman . . . . Plaza reportedly posted a P40-thousand bail bond.

Bagabuyo argued that the crime of murder is a non-bailable offense. But Bagabuyo admitted that a judge could still opt to allow a murder suspect to bail out in cases when the evidence of the prosecution is weak. But in this murder case, Bagabuyo said the judge who previously handled it, Judge F[lori]pinas B[uy]ser, described the evidence to be strong. B[uy]ser inhibited from the case for an unclear reason. 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 respondents actions and statements are detailed in the Order of October 20, 2003. On the scheduled hearing of December 4, 2003 respondent neither appeared in court nor informed the court of his absence. The trial court issued an Order dated December 4, 2003 cancelling the hearing to give Prosecutor Bagabuyo all the chances he asks for, and ordered him to appear on January 12, 2004 to explain in writing or orally why he should not be cited in contempt of court pursuant to the facts stated in the Order dated October 20, 2003. However, respondent did not appear in the scheduled hearing of January 12, 2004. On January 15, 2004, the trial court received respondents Answer

dated January 8, 2004. Respondent denied the charge that he sought to be interviewed by radio station DXKS. He, however, stated that right after the hearing ofSeptember 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 bagong jurisprudence ug sa atong balaod aron sa pagsiguro gayod nga inigsang-at unya nako sa kaso nga disbarment niining di mahibalo nga Huwes, sigurado gayod ako nga katangtangan siya sa lisensiya . . . . Ang kini nga Huwes nga dili mahibalo sa balaod, pagatangtangon na, dili lamang sa pagka-Huwes kon dili sa pagkaabogado. 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 : ko 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 a. : ... P100,000.00 ang iyang guipapiyans Kay dili man lagi mahibalo sa balaod, a

Naunsa na? Dinhi makita nimo ang iyang pagka gross ignorance of the law. . . . (He imposed a bail of P100,000.00. How come? This is where you will see his gross ignorance of the law. . . . ) xxx TONY CONSING : So karon, unsay plano nimo karon?

(So what is your plan now?) BAGABUYO : Sumala sa akong gui-ingon moundang lang ako kon matangtang na siya sa pagka abogado. . . . (As I have said, I will only stop if he is already disbarred. . . .) xxx BAGABUYO : Nasuko siya niini kay hambugero kuno, pero angayan niyang hibaw-an nga ang trabajo sa Huwes dili ang pagtan-aw kon ang tawo hambugero . . . . Ug ang akong gisulti mao lamang ang balaod nga siya in fact at that time I said he is not conversant of the law, with regards to the case of murder. . . . (He got angry because I was allegedly bragging but he should know that it is not for a judge to determine if a person is a braggart. . . .And what I said was based on the law. In fact, at that time, I said he is not conversant of the law, with regards to the case of murder . . . .) xxx BAGABUYO : Ah, mi sit down sab ako, contempt ra ba kadto . . . . Mao kana, pero unsa may iyang katuyoan ang iyang katuyoan nga ipa-adto ako didto kay didto, iya akong pakauwawan kay iya kong sikopon, iya kong ipa-priso, pero kay di man lagi mahibalo sa balaod, ang iyang gui orderan BJMP, intawon por dios por Santo, Mr. Tan, pagbasa intawon ug balaod, naunsa ka ba Mr. Tan? Unsa may imong hunahuna nga kon ikaw Huwes, ikaw na ang diktador, no way, no sir, ours is a democratic country where all and everyone is entitled to due process of law you did not accord me due process of law . . . .

(I sat down. . . . Thats it. But what was his purpose? He made me come in order to humiliate me because he wanted me arrested, he wanted me imprisoned, but because he is ignorant of the law, he ordered the BMJP. For Gods sake, Mr. Tan, whats wrong with you, Mr. Tan? Please read the law. What is your thinking? That when you are a judge, you are also a dictator? No way, no sir, ours is a democratic country where all and everyone is entitled to due process of law you did not accord me due process of law. . . .) TONY CONSING: So mopasaka kang disbarment, malaumon kita nga maaksiyonan kini, with all this problem sa Korte Suprema. (So you are filing a disbarment case? We hope that this be given action with all the problems in the Supreme Court.) BAGABUYO : Dili ako mabalaka niana kay usa ka truck ang akong jurisprudence, nga ang mga Huwes nga di mahibalo sa balaod pagatangtangon gayod sa ilang pagka Huwes. . . . Apan unsa man intawon ang balaod ang iyang gibasa niini nadunggan ko nga kini kuno siya madjongero, mao bitaw na, madjong ang iyang guitunan? (I am not worried because I have a truckload of jurisprudence that judges who are ignorant of the law must be removed from the Bench. But what law has he been reading? I heard that he is a mahjong aficionado (mahjongero) and that is why he is studying mahjong.[11]

The trial court concluded that respondent, as a member of the bar and an

officer of the court, is duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of the court, and should not promote distrust in the administration of justice. The trial court stated that it is empowered to suspend respondent from the practice of law under Sec. 28, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court[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 Surigao judge for allowing murder suspect to bail out, which appeared in the August 18, 2003 issue of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily. Respondents statements in the article, which were made while Crim. Case No. 5144 was still pending in court, also violated Rule 13.02 of Canon 13, which states that a lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party. In regard to the radio interview given to Tony Consing, respondent violated Rule 11.05 of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for not resorting to the proper authorities only for redress of his grievances against Judge Tan. Respondent also violated Canon 11 for his disrespect of the court and its officer when he stated that Judge Tan was ignorant of the law, that as a mahjong aficionado, he was studying mahjong instead of studying the law, and that he was a liar. Respondent also violated the Lawyers Oath, as he has sworn to conduct [himself] as a lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with

all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [his] clients. As a senior state prosecutor and officer of the court, respondent should have set the example of observing and maintaining the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers. Montecillo v. Gica[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 aSTERN WARNING that the repetition of a similar offense shall be dealt with more severely. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their information and guidance. No costs. SO ORDERED.

ANTERO J. POBRE, Complainant, - versus Sen. MIRIAM DEFENSORSANTIAGO, Respondent.

A.C. No. 7399 Present: CHICO-NAZARIO, J., Acting Chairperson, CARPIO MORALES,* VELASCO, JR., NACHURA, and PERALTA, JJ. Promulgated:
August 25, 2009

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x DECISION VELASCO, JR., J.: In his sworn letter/complaint dated December 22, 2006, with enclosures, Antero J. Pobre invites the Courts attention to the following excerpts of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiagos speech delivered on the Senate floor: x x x I am not angry. I am irate. I am foaming in the mouth. I am homicidal. I am suicidal. I am humiliated, debased, degraded. And I am not only that, I feel like throwing up to be living my middle years in a country of this nature. I am nauseated. I spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested in the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded by idiots. I would rather be in another environment but not in the Supreme Court of idiots x x x. To Pobre, the foregoing statements reflected a total disrespect on the part of the speaker towards then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and the other members of the Court and constituted direct contempt of court. Accordingly, Pobre asks that disbarment proceedings or other disciplinary actions be taken against the lady senator.

In her comment on the complaint dated April 25, 2007, Senator Santiago, through counsel, does not deny making the aforequoted statements. She, however, explained that those statements were covered by the constitutional provision on parliamentary immunity, being part of a speech she delivered in the discharge of her duty as member of Congress or its committee. The purpose of her speech, according to her, was to bring out in the open controversial anomalies in governance with a view to future remedial legislation. She averred that she wanted to expose what she believed to be an unjust act of the Judicial Bar Council [JBC], which, after sending out public invitations for nomination to the soon to-be vacated position of Chief Justice, would eventually inform applicants that only incumbent justices of the Supreme Court would qualify for nomination. She felt that the JBC should have at least given an advanced advisory that non-sitting members of the Court, like her, would not be considered for the position of Chief Justice. The immunity Senator Santiago claims is rooted primarily on the provision of Article VI, Section 11 of the Constitution, which provides: A Senator or Member of the House of Representative shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. No member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof. Explaining the import of the underscored portion of the provision, the Court, in Osmea, Jr. v. Pendatun, said: Our Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity which is a fundamental privilege cherished in every legislative assembly of the democratic world. As old as the English Parliament, its purpose is to enable and encourage a representative of the public to discharge his public trust with firmness and success for it is indispensably necessary that he should enjoy the fullest liberty of speech and that he should be protected from resentment of every one, however, powerful, to whom the exercise of that liberty may occasion offense.[1] As American jurisprudence puts it, this legislative privilege is founded upon long experience and arises as a means of perpetuating inviolate the functioning process of the legislative department. Without parliamentary immunity, parliament,

or its equivalent, would degenerate into a polite and ineffective debating forum. Legislators are immune from deterrents to the uninhibited discharge of their legislative duties, not for their private indulgence, but for the public good. The privilege would be of little value if they could be subjected to the cost and inconvenience and distractions of a trial upon a conclusion of the pleader, or to the hazard of a judgment against them based upon a judges speculation as to the motives.[2] This Court is aware of the need and has in fact been in the forefront in upholding the institution of parliamentary immunity and promotion of free speech. Neither has the Court lost sight of the importance of the legislative and oversight functions of the Congress that enable this representative body to look diligently into every affair of government, investigate and denounce anomalies, and talk about how the country and its citizens are being served. Courts do not interfere with the legislature or its members in the manner they perform their functions in the legislative floor or in committee rooms. Any claim of an unworthy purpose or of the falsity and mala fides of the statement uttered by the member of the Congress does not destroy the privilege.[3] The disciplinary authority of the assembly[4] and the voters, not the courts, can properly discourage or correct such abuses committed in the name of parliamentary immunity.[5]

For the above reasons, the plea of Senator Santiago for the dismissal of the complaint for disbarment or disciplinary action is well taken. Indeed, her privilege speech is not actionable criminally or in a disciplinary proceeding under the Rules of Court. It is felt, however, that this could not be the last word on the matter. The Court wishes to express its deep concern about the language Senator Santiago, a member of the Bar, used in her speech and its effect on the administration of justice. To the Court, the lady senator has undoubtedly crossed the limits of decency and good professional conduct. It is at once apparent that her statements in question were intemperate and highly improper in substance. To reiterate, she was quoted as stating that she wanted to spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, and calling the Court a Supreme Court of idiots.

The lady senator alluded to In Re: Vicente Sotto.[6] We draw her attention to the ensuing passage in Sotto that she should have taken to heart in the first place:
x x x [I]f the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity 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 would be the result.

No lawyer who has taken an oath to maintain the respect due to the courts should be allowed to erode the peoples faith in the judiciary. In this case, the lady senator clearly violated Canon 8, Rule 8.01 and Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which respectively provide:
Canon 8, 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 the judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others.

Senator/Atty. Santiago is a cut higher than most lawyers. Her achievements speak for themselves. She was a former Regional Trial Court judge, a law professor, an oft-cited authority on constitutional and international law, an author of numerous law textbooks, and an elected senator of the land. Needless to stress, Senator Santiago, as a member of the Bar and officer of the court, like any other, is duty-bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court and to maintain the respect due its members. Lawyers in public service are keepers of public faith and are burdened with the higher degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than their brethren in private practice.[7] Senator Santiago should have known, as any perceptive individual, the impact her statements would make on the peoples faith in the integrity of the courts. As Senator Santiago alleged, she delivered her privilege speech as a prelude to crafting remedial legislation on the JBC. This allegation strikes the Court as an

afterthought in light of the insulting tenor of what she said. We quote the passage once more:
x x x I am not angry. I am irate. I am foaming in the mouth. I am homicidal. I am suicidal. I am humiliated, debased, degraded. And I am not only that, I feel like throwing up to be living my middle years in a country of this nature. I am nauseated. I spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested in the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded by idiots. I would rather be in another environment but not in the Supreme Court of idiots x x x. (Emphasis ours.)

A careful re-reading of her utterances would readily show that her statements were expressions of personal anger and frustration at not being considered for the post of Chief Justice. In a sense, therefore, her remarks were outside the pale of her official parliamentary functions. Even parliamentary immunity must not be allowed to be used as a vehicle to ridicule, demean, and destroy the reputation of the Court and its magistrates, nor as armor for personal wrath and disgust. Authorities are agreed that parliamentary immunity is not an individual privilege accorded the individual members of the Parliament or Congress for their personal benefit, but rather a privilege for the benefit of the people and the institution that represents them. To be sure, Senator Santiago could have given vent to her anger without indulging in insulting rhetoric and offensive personalities. Lest it be overlooked, Senator Santiagos outburst was directly traceable to what she considered as an unjust act the JBC had taken in connection with her application for the position of Chief Justice. But while the JBC functions under the Courts supervision, its individual members, save perhaps for the Chief Justice who sits as the JBCs ex-officiochairperson,[8] have no official duty to nominate candidates for appointment to the position of Chief Justice. The Court is, thus, at a loss to understand Senator Santiagos wholesale and indiscriminate assault on the members of the Court and her choice of critical and defamatory words against all of them.

At any event, equally important as the speech and debate clause of Art. VI, Sec. 11 of the Constitution is Sec. 5(5) of Art. VIII of the Constitution that provides:
Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers: xxxx (5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of the law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. (Emphasis ours.)

The Court, besides being authorized to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, exercises specific authority to promulgate rules governing the Integrated Bar with the end in view that the integration of the Bar will, among other things:
(4) Shield the judiciary, which traditionally cannot defend itself except within its own forum, from the assaults that politics and self interest may level at it, and assist it to maintain its integrity, impartiality and independence; xxxx (11) Enforce rigid ethical standards x x x.[9]

In Re: Letter Dated 21 February 2005 of Atty. Noel S. Sorreda,[10] we reiterated our pronouncement in Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer[11] that the duty of attorneys to the courts can only be maintained by rendering no service involving any disrespect to the judicial office which they are bound to uphold. The Court wrote in Rheem of thePhilippines:
x x x As explicit is the first canon of legal ethics which pronounces that [i]t is the duty of a lawyer to maintain towards the Courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme

importance. That same canon, as a corollary, makes it peculiarly incumbent upon lawyers to support the courts against unjust criticism and clamor. And more. The attorneys oath solemnly binds him to a conduct that should be with all good fidelity x x x to the courts.

Also, in Sorreda, the Court revisited its holding in Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel[12] that:
A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, like the court itself, an instrument or agency to advance the ends of justice. His duty is to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts to which he owes fidelity, not to promote distrust in the administration of justice. Faith in the courts, a lawyer should seek to preserve. For, to undermine the judicial edifice is disastrous to the continuity of government and to the attainment of the liberties of the people. Thus has it been said of a lawyer that [a]s an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice.[13] The lady senator belongs to the legal profession bound by the exacting injunction of a strict Code. Society has entrusted that profession with the administration of the law and dispensation of justice. Generally speaking, a lawyer holding a government office may not be disciplined as a member of the Bar for misconduct committed while in the discharge of official duties, unless said misconduct also constitutes a violation of his/her oath as a lawyer.[14]

Lawyers may be disciplined even for any conduct committed in their private capacity, as long as their misconduct reflects their want of probity or good demeanor,[15] a good character being an essential qualification for the admission to the practice of law and for continuance of such privilege. When the Code of Professional Responsibility or the Rules of Court speaks of conduct or misconduct, the reference is not confined to ones behavior exhibited in connection with the performance of lawyers professional duties, but also covers any misconduct, whichalbeit unrelated to the actual practice of their professionwould show them to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges which their license and the law invest in them.[16] This Court, in its unceasing quest to promote the peoples faith in courts and

trust in the rule of law, has consistently exercised its disciplinary authority on lawyers who, for malevolent purpose or personal malice, attempt to obstruct the orderly administration of justice, trifle with the integrity of courts, and embarrass or, worse, malign the men and women who compose them. We have done it in the case of former Senator Vicente Sotto in Sotto, in the case of Atty. Noel Sorreda in Sorreda, and in the case of Atty. Francisco B. Cruz in Tacordan v. Ang[17] who repeatedly insulted and threatened the Court in a most insolent manner. The Court is not hesitant to impose some form of disciplinary sanctions on Senator/Atty. Santiago for what otherwise would have constituted an act of utter disrespect on her part towards the Court and its members. The factual and legal circumstances of this case, however, deter the Court from doing so, even without any sign of remorse from her. Basic constitutional consideration dictates this kind of disposition. We, however, would be remiss in our duty if we let the Senators offensive and disrespectful language that definitely tended to denigrate the institution pass by. It is imperative on our part to re-instill in Senator/Atty. Santiago her duty to respect courts of justice, especially this Tribunal, and remind her anew that the parliamentary non-accountability thus granted to members of Congress is not to protect them against prosecutions for their own benefit, but to enable them, as the peoples representatives, to perform the functions of their office without fear of being made responsible before the courts or other forums outside the congressional hall.[18] It is intended to protect members of Congress against government pressure and intimidation aimed at influencing the decision-making prerogatives of Congress and its members. The Rules of the Senate itself contains a provision on Unparliamentary Acts and Language that enjoins a Senator from using, under any circumstance, offensive or improper language against another Senator or against any public institution.[19] But as to Senator Santiagos unparliamentary remarks, the Senate President had not apparently called her to order, let alone referred the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee for appropriate disciplinary action, as the Rules dictates under such circumstance.[20] The lady senator clearly violated the rules of her own chamber. It is unfortunate that her peers bent backwards and avoided imposing their own rules on her.

Finally, the lady senator questions Pobres motives in filing his complaint, stating that disciplinary proceedings must be undertaken solely for the public welfare. We cannot agree with her more. We cannot overstress that the senators use of intemperate language to demean and denigrate the highest court of the land is a clear violation of the duty of respect lawyers owe to the courts.[21] Finally, the Senator asserts that complainant Pobre has failed to prove that she in fact made the statements in question. Suffice it to say in this regard that, although she has not categorically denied making such statements, she has unequivocally said making them as part of her privilege speech. Her implied admission is good enough for the Court. WHEREFORE, the letter-complaint of Antero J. Pobre against Senator/Atty. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is,conformably to Art. VI, Sec. 11 of the Constitution, DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. AC 4762

June 28, 2004

LINDA VDA. DE ESPINO, complainant, vs. ATTY. PEPITO C. PRESQUITO, respondent. RESOLUTION PUNO, J.: On June 9, 1997, Linda Vda. de Espino wrote a letter-complaint1 with the then Court Administrator Alfredo Benipayo, charging respondent Atty. Pepito C. Presquito, a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Misamis Oriental Chapter, for "having employed fraud, trickery and dishonest means in refusing to honor and pay [her] late husband Virgilio Espino, when he was still alive, the sum of P763,060.00." According to complainant, respondents unlawful refusal and dilatory tactics partly triggered the death of her husband, who died "disillusioned and embittered." 2 The lettercomplaint and affidavit also alleged that notwithstanding the numerous oral demands by Mr. Espino and complainant (after the death of Mr. Espino), respondent still refused to pay the amount represented by the eight checks which had all been dishonored. Complainant surmised that Atty. Presquitos refusal to pay may be due to his reliance on the influence of his father-in-law, a former Executive Judge of the RTC (Cagayan de Oro), and of his uncle, an RTC judge (Cagayan de Oro).

The records show that sometime in September 1995, respondent was introduced to complainants late husband, Mr. Virgilio M. Espino. Mr. Espino, a resident of Davao City, had sought the assistance of respondent, a resident of Cagayan de Oro, regarding the sale of his piece of land with an area of 11,057.59 sq.m. situated in Misamis Oriental. The discussion between Mr. Espino and the respondent resulted in the sale of the property to respondent. 3 Under the terms of the agreement between Mr. Espino and respondent,4 the purchase price of the land was P1,437,410.00, payable on a staggered basis and by installments.5 Pursuant to the terms of payment in the agreement, respondent issued eight post-dated checks, totaling P736,060.00.6 Respondent then entered into a joint venture or partnership agreement with Mrs. Guadalupe Ares for the subdivision of the land into home-size lots and its development, with a portion of the land retained by respondent for his own use.7 The land was eventually titled in the name of respondent and Mrs. Ares, and subdivided into 35 to 36 lots. Meanwhile, the eight post-dated checks issued by respondent were all dishonored. Mr. Espino made repeated demands for payment from respondent but the latter refused. Mr. Espino died in December 1996. His widow, complainant, then tried to collect from respondent the value of the eight checks. When complainants numerous pleas remained unheeded, she filed the complaint in June 1997. In his comment dated September 22, 1997, respondent denied any wrongdoing, and said that the allegations that he had employed "fraud, trickery and dishonest means" with the late Mr. Espino were totally false and baseless. The complaint, according to respondent, stemmed from complainants lack of knowledge as to "the real story" of the transaction between complainants husband and respondent. He also vehemently took exception to the imputation that he was banking on the influence of his father-in-law and uncle-in-law. Respondent does not deny the issuance of the eight checks. What respondent claims, however, is that the nonpayment was justified by the unresolved problems he and Mrs. Ares have with respect to the right-of-way of the land. He alleged that Mr. Espino had made assurances that the land had a right-of-way required for its development, but respondent later found out that such road-right-of-way required the consent of four other land owners, and the expense would be considerably more than he was made to believe. According to respondent, he and Mr. Espino had agreed that the latter would not encash the checks or demand the equivalent of the same until the right-of-way problem of the land had been resolved.8 Respondents position is that until the problem of obtaining a right-ofway to the land has been resolved, nothing has yet accrued against him or Mrs. Ares (his partner), as it would be "very unfair and unjust" for them to pay Mr. Espino when the land could not be developed and sold.9 Respondent also alleged that he was entitled to set-off against the amount he owes Mr. Espino or his heirs from the purchase of the land, the advances he made to Mr. Espino, and the cost he incurred when he defended Mr. Espinos son in a criminal case. He later on manifested that he has fully paid the portion of the land which had been titled in his name through the same advances and incurred expenses.10 In a resolution dated November 26, 1997,11 the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation/decision, and assigned to the IBPCommission on Bar Discipline (CBD). In the IBP-CBD report dated November 12, 2002,12 Investigating Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay found that "the facts and credible evidence made available in this case indubitably establish respondents failure to live up to the demands of the Lawyers Code of Professional Responsibility and the Canons of Professional Ethics." For having failed to act with candor and fairness toward complainant, Commissioner Dulay recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months, and ordered to immediately account with complainant regarding the sale of the piece of land which had been subdivided in the name of respondent and his business partner.

On June 21, 2003, the Board of Governors of the IBP passed a Resolution adopting/approving the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Dulay, finding that "respondents lack of fairness and candor and honesty [was] in violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility." After a careful consideration of the record of the instant case, we agree that respondent was wanting in fairness, candor and honesty demanded of him by the Lawyers Code of Professional Responsibility and the Canons of Professional Ethics. We find, however, the recommended penalty of six (6) months suspension too light considering respondents gross misconduct. Complainants testimony and exhibits have clearly established that: (1) there was an agreement between respondent and complainants late husband for the sale of the latters land; (2) respondent had issued the eight checks in connection with said agreement; (3) these checks were dishonored and remain unpaid; and (4) the land sold had an existing road-right-of-way. Complainants exhibits were formally offered as early as January 6, 1999,13and were admitted without objections from respondent.14 In the face of these uncontroverted facts, it was incumbent upon respondent to prove a legal excuse or defense for nonpayment of the eight checks. Respondent utterly failed in this regard. From the termination of complainants presentation of evidence on December 1998 until Commissioner Dulays report on November 12, 2002, the records show that respondent was unable to present evidence - either testimonial or documentary - to prove that he had legal cause to refuse payment, or that he was entitled to legal compensation. Even respondents own statements - which, without corroborating evidence, remain mere self-serving allegations - fall short of testimony, as he failed to submit to cross-examination by opposing counsel or for clarificatory questions by the IBPCBD. Worse, respondent attached eighteen documents to his comment, but only went so far as to mark (without a formal offer) the agreement between him and Mr. Espino (for the sale of the land), and the partnership agreement between him and Mrs. Ares. Thus, respondent had no evidence other than his own allegations. Respondents failure to present evidence is a breach of Rule 12.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,15especially in the light of the numerous postponements and resettings he requested for and was granted with, on the ground that he needed more time to prepare his evidence. We note that respondent was first scheduled to present his evidence on December 14, 1998. Two years - five resettings, and three orders submitting the case for resolution - later, respondent still had not proffered testimonial or documentary evidence. Respondent claims that his failure to present evidence was due to his financial difficulties, i.e., he could not afford to spend for travel expenses of his witnesses.16 We are not persuaded. First, it boggles the mind how financial constraints could have prevented respondent from presenting the originals of the documents attached to his comment, proving, among others, the alleged advances and costs on Mr. Espinos behalf. The originals of these documents are presumably in his possession. Second, with respect to the absence of testimony, respondent could have submitted the affidavits of his witnesses - the taking of which he could have done himself in Cagayan de Oro to keep down the cost. The records are clear that he was allowed this option.17 But he did neither. All these circumstances lead us to the ineluctable conclusion that respondent could not present evidence because there really was none to justify his nonpayment.18 Even if we were to excuse respondents procedural lapse and consider his written pleadings as testimony, we agree with Commissioner Dulay that respondents problems with respect to the rightof-way or his partnership with Mrs. Ares do not excuse his nonpayment. As stated in the IBP-CBD report:

[T]he solution to the right-of-way problem however clearly lies in the hands of respondent.We note that respondent has already taken title over the property together with Guadalupe Ares by making complainants late husband, sign over the property by way of the Deed of Sale. We therefore find respondents position vis--vis the widowed complainant sneaky and unfair. We reiterate that respondent has assumed responsibility for the negotiations on the road-right-of-way and was aware of the problem. To [sic] our mind he has used the alleged road-right-of-way problem only as an afterthought and a reason to delay and in fact deny the complainant payment of what is due her. Respondent also alleges and blames the deceased husband of complainant for the failed project but the facts show otherwise. They are just bare allegations and remain unsubstantiated. Besides, respondent and Ares took risks in the business venture and are now the titled owners of the property. The seller cannot be blamed for any failure in the project. Respondents actuations in the whole transaction is [sic] not at par with the standards demanded of him as a member of the bar. Respondent is lacking in fairness and candour [sic] and honesty. The fact that he has unreasonably delayed and failed to account with complainant for a long time and the fact of his having allowed the checks he issued to bounce is [sic] unacceptable and censurable behavior for a member of the bar.19 [citations omitted] Having no legal defense to refuse payment of the eight dishonored checks, respondents indifference to complainants entreaties for payment was conduct unbecoming of a member of the bar and an officer of the court. Respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by his unlawful, dishonest and deceitful conduct towards complainant and her late husband, 20 first by allowing the eight (8) checks he issued to bounce, then by ignoring the repeated demands for payment until complainant was forced to file this complaint, and finally by deliberately delaying the disposition of this case with dilatory tactics. Considering that the property of complainant and her late husband is already in respondent and Mrs. Ares name, the injustice of respondents different maneuvers to evade payment of the eight checks - due and unpaid since 1996 - becomes more manifest. It should be stressed that respondent issued eight (8) worthless checks, seemingly without regard to its deleterious effects to public interest and public order. We have already declared, most recently in Lao v. Medel,21 that the issuance of worthless checks constitutes gross misconduct, and puts the erring lawyers moral character in serious doubt, though it is not related to his professional duties as a member of the bar.22 He not only sets himself liable for a serious criminal offense under B.P. Blg. 22, but also transgresses the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically the mandate of Canon 1 to obey the laws of the land and promote the respect for law. It behooves respondent to remember that a lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a good condition precedent to the practice of law, but a continuing qualification for all members of the bar.23 A lawyer may be disciplined for any conduct, in his professional or private capacity, that renders him unfit to continue to be an officer of the court.24 Thus, the Code of Professional Responsibility provides: Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. xxx xxx xxx

Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. Given the foregoing, and in line with jurisprudence involving lawyers who issued worthless checks

- Lao v. Medel,25 Co v. Bernardino,26 and Ducat v. Villalon, Jr.,27 - we find respondents reprehensible conduct warrants suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year. WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. PEPITO C. PRESQUITO is found guilty of gross misconduct and is hereby suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year, and ordered to immediately account with complainant regarding the sale of the piece of land, which has been subdivided in the name of respondent and his business partner. Let a copy of this decision be spread in his file at the Office of the Bar Confidant and of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. SO ORDERED.

ATTY. ILUMINADA M. VAFLOR-FABROA, Complainant,

A.C. No. 6273 Present: PUNO, C.J., CARPIO, CORONA, CARPIO MORALES, VELASCO, JR., NACHURA, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, BRION, PERALTA, BERSAMIN, DEL CASTILLO, ABAD, VILLARAMA, JR., PEREZ, and MENDOZA, JJ.

- versus ATTY. OSCAR PAGUINTO, Respondent.

Promulgated: March 15, 2010 x-------------------------------------------------- x DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: An Information for Estafa[1] was filed on June 21, 2001 against

Atty. Iluminada M. Vaflor-Fabroa (complainant) along with others based on a joint affidavit-complaint which Atty. Oscar Paguinto (respondent) prepared and notarized. As the joint affidavit-complaint did not indicate the involvement of complainant, complainant filed a Motion to Quash the Information which the trial court granted.[2] Respondents Motion for Reconsideration of the quashal of the Information was denied[3] Respondent also filed six other criminal complaints against complainant for violation of Article 31 of Republic Act No. 6938 (Cooperative Code of the Philippines) before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, but he eventually filed a Motion to Withdraw them.[4] On October 10, 2001, complainant, who was Chairperson of the General Mariano Alvarez Service Cooperative, Inc. (GEMASCO), received a Notice of Special General Assembly of GEMASCO on October 14, 2001 to consider the removal of four members of the Board of Directors (the Board), including her and the General Manager.[5] The notice was signed by respondent. At the October 14, 2001 Special General Assembly presided by respondent and PNP Sr. Supt. Angelito L.Gerangco (Gerangco), who were not members of the then current Board,[6] Gerango, complainants predecessor, as Chair of the GEMASCO board, declared himself Chair, appointed others to replace the removed directors, and appointed respondent as Board Secretary. On October 15, 2001, respondent and his group took over the GEMASCO office and its premises, the pumphouses, water facilities, and operations. On even date, respondent sent letter-notices to complainant and the four removed directors informing them of their removal from the Board and as members of GEMASCO, and advising them to cease and desist from further discharging the duties of their positions.[7] Complainant thus filed on October 16, 2001 with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA)-Calamba a complaint for annulment of the proceedings taken during the October 14, 2001 Special General Assembly. The CDA Acting Regional Director (RD), by Resolution of February 21,

2002, declared the questioned general assembly null and void for having been conducted in violation of GEMASCOs By-Laws and the Cooperative Code of the Philippines.[8] The RDs Resolution of February 21, 2002 was later vacated for lack of jurisdiction[9] of CDA. In her present complainant[10] against complainant alleged that respondent: respondent for disbarment,

X X X PROMOTED OR SUED A GROUNDLESS, FALSE OR UNLAWFUL SUIT, AND GAVE AID AND CONSENT TO THE SAME[11] X X X DISOBEYED LAWS OF THE LAND, PROMOTE[D] DISRESPECT FOR LAW AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION[12] X X X DID NOT CONDUCT HIMSELF WITH COURTESY, FAIRNESS AND CANDOR TOWARD HIS PROFESSIONAL COLLEAGUE AND ENGAGED IN HARASSING TACTICS AGAINST OPPOSING COUNSEL[13] X X X VIOLATED CANON 19 A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE LAW[14] X X X RUINED AND DAMAGED NOT ONLY THE GEN. MARIANO ALVAREZ SERVICES COOPERATIVE, INC. (GEMASCO, INC.) BUT THE ENTIRE WATER-CONSUMING COMMUNITY AS WELL[15]

Despite the Courts grant,[16] on respondents motion,[17] of extension of time to file Comment, respondent never filed any comment. The Court thus required him to show cause why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with,[18] but just the same he failed to comply.[19] The Court thus referred the complaint to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.[20] It appears that during the mandatory conference before the IBP, complainant proposed the following issues:

1. Whether or not the acts of respondent constitute violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly the following: 1.1 Canon 1 A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal [processes]. Canon 8 A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness, and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. Canon 10 A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court. Canon 19 A lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law. Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so.

1.2

1.3 1.4 1.5

2. Whether or not the above acts of respondent constitute violations of his lawyers oath, particularly the following: 2.1 2.2 2.3 support the Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same will delay no man for money or malice

2.4

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

Court.[21]

Respondents counsel who represented him during the conference proposed the issue of whether, on the basis of the allegations of the complaint, misconduct was committed by respondent.[22] After the conclusion of the conference, both parties were ordered to submit position papers.[23] Complainant filed hers,[24] but respondent, despite grant, on his motion, of extension of time, did not file any position paper. In her Report and Recommendation,[25] Investigating Commissioner Lolita A. Quisumbing found respondent guilty of violating the Lawyers Oath as well as Canons 1, 8, 10, and Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Noting that respondent had already been previously suspended for six months, the Commissioner recommended that respondent be suspended for two years. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) Board of Governors opted for the dismissal of the complaint, however, for lack of merit.[26] On Motion for Reconsideration,[27] the IBP-CBD Board of Governors recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six months. The Court finds that by conniving with Gerangco in taking over the Board of Directors and the GEMASCO facilities, respondent violated the provisions of the Cooperative Code of the Philippines and the GEMASCO By-Laws. He also violated the Lawyers Oath, which provides that a lawyer shall support the Constitution and obey the laws. When respondent caused the filing of baseless criminal complaints against complainant, he violated the Lawyers Oath that a lawyer shall not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid or consent to the same. When, after obtaining an extension of time to file comment on the complaint, respondent failed to file any and ignored this Courts subsequent show

cause order, he violated Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which states that A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so. Sebastian v. Bajar[28]teaches:
x x x Respondents cavalier attitude in repeatedly ignoring the orders of the Supreme Court constitutes utter disrespect to the judicial institution. Respondents conduct indicates a high degree of irresponsibility. A Courts Resolution is not to be construed as a mere request, nor should it be complied with partially, inadequately, or selectively. Respondents obstinate refusal to comply with the Courts orders not only betrays a recalcitrant flaw in her character; it also underscores her disrespect of the Courts lawful orders which is only too deserving of reproof. Lawyers are called upon to obey court orders and processes and respondents deference is underscored by the fact that willful disregard thereof will subject the lawyer not only to punishment for contempt but to disciplinary sanctions as well. In fact, graver responsibility is imposed upon a lawyer than any other to uphold the integrity of the courts and to show respect to their processes.[29] (Citations omitted).

The Court notes that respondent had previously been suspended from the practice of law for six months for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility,[30] he having been found to have received an acceptance fee and misled the client into believing that he had filed a case for her when he had not. [31] It appears, however, that respondent has not reformed his ways. A more severe penalty this time is thus called for. WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Oscar P. Paguinto, is SUSPENDED for two years from the practice of law for violation of Canons 1, 8, 10, and Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Lawyers Oath, effective immediately. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondents personal record as an attorney; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.
REXIE EFREN A. BUGARING AND ROYAL BECHTEL BUILDERS, INC., petitioners, vs. HON. DOLORES S. ESPAOL, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 90, Imus, Cavite, respondent. DE LEON, JR., J.: Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision dated March 6, 1998 of the Court of Appeals1 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cavite, Branch 90, Imus, Cavite, declaring petitioner Rexie Efren A. Bugaring guilty in direct contempt of court.
1wphi1.nt

The incident subject of the petition occurred during a hearing held on December 5, 1996 of Civil Case NO. 1266-96 entitled "Royal Becthel2 Builders, Inc. vs. Spouses Luis Alvaran and Beatriz Alvaran, et al.", for Annulment of Sale and Certificates of Title, Specific Performance and Damages with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order in the sala of respondent judge Dolores S. Espaol of the Regional Trial Court of Cavite, Branch 90, Imus, Cavite. Pursuant to a motion filed by the previous counsel of Royal Bechtel Builders, Inc., the trial court issued an order on February 27, 1996 directing the Register of Deeds of the Province of Cavite to annotate at the back of certain certificates of title a notice of lis pendens. Before the Register of Deeds of the Province of Cavite could comply with said order, the defendant Spouses Alvaran on April 15, 1996, filed a motion to cancel lis pendens. On July 19, 1996, petitioner, the newly appointed counsel of Royal Bechtel Builders, Inc., filed an opposition to the motion to cancel lis pendens. On August 16, 1996, the motion to cancel lis pendens was granted by the court. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, which was opposed by the defendants. On November 5, 1996, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Resolve, and on November 6, 1996, filed a Rejoinder to Opposition and Motion for Contempt of Court.3 During the hearing of the motion for contempt of court held on December 5, 1996, the following incident transpired: ATTY. BUGARING: For the plaintiff, your Honor, we are ready. ATTY. CORDERO: Same appearance for the defendant, your Honor. ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor please, we are ready with respect to the prosecution of our motion for contempt, your Honor. May we know from the record if the Register of Deeds is properly notified for today's hearing. COURT: INTERPRETER: Will you call on the Register of Deeds. Atty. Diosdado Concepcion, He is here, your Honor.

ATTY. BUGARING: We are ready, your Honor. COURT: There is a motion for contempt in connection with the order of this Court which directed your office to register lis pendens of the complaint in connection with this

case of Royal Becthel Builder, Inc. versus spouses Luis Alvaran and Beatriz Alvaran, et al. ATTY. CONCEPCION: Your Honor, I just received this morning at ten o'clock [in the morning] the subpoena.

ATTY. BUGARING: May we put in on record that as early as November 6, 1996, the Office of the Register of Deeds was furnished with a copy of our motion, your Honor please, and the record will bear it out. Until now they did not file any answer, opposition or pleadings or pleadings with respect to this motion. ATTY. CONCEPCION: Well I was not informed because I am not the Register of Deeds. I am only the Deputy Register of Deeds and I was not informed by the receiving clerk of our office regarding this case. As a matter of fact I was surprised when I received this morning the subpoena, your Honor.

ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor please, may we put that on record that the manifestation of the respondent that he was not informed. COURT: That is recorded. This is a Court of record and everything that you say here is recorded.

ATTY. BUGARING: Yes your Honor please, we know that but we want to be specific because we will be [filing] a case against this receiving clerk who did not [inform] him your Honor please, with this manifestation of the Deputy of the Register of Deeds that is irregularity in the performance of the official duty of the clerk not to inform the parties concerned. COURT: Counsel, the Court would like to find out who this fellow who is taking the video recording at this proceedings. There is no permission from this Court that such proceedings should be taken.

ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor, my Assistant. I did not advise him to take a video he just accompanied me this morning. COURT: Right, but the video recording is prepared process and you should secure the permission of this Court.

ATTY. BUGARING: Actually, I did not instruct him to take some video tape. COURT: Why would he be bringing camera if you did not give him the go signal that shots should be done.

ATTY. BUGARING: This Court should not presume that, your Honor please, we just came from an occasion last night and I am not yet come home, your Honor please. I could prove your Honor please, that the contents of that tape is other matters your Honor please. I was just surprised why he took video tape your Honor please, that we ask

the apology of this Court if that offend this Court your Honor please. COURT: It is not offending because this is a public proceedings but the necessary authority or permission should be secured.

ATTY. BUGARING: In fact I instructed him to go out, your Honor. COURT: After the court have noticed that he is taking a video tape.

ATTY. BUGARING: Yes, your Honor, in fact that is not my personal problem your Honor please, that is personal to that guy your Honor please if this representation is being . COURT: That is very shallow, don't give that alibi.

ATTY. BUGARING: At any rate, your Honor please, we are going to mark our documentary evidence as part of our motion for contempt, your Honor please. COURT: ATTY. CONCEPCION: What has the Register of Deeds got to say with this matter? Well as I have said before, I have not received any motion regarding this contempt you are talking. I am willing now to testify.

ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor I am still of the prosecution stage, it is not yet the defense. This is a criminal proceedings, contempt proceedings is a criminal. ATTY. CONCEPCION: COURT: Your Honor please, may I ask for the assistance from the Fiscal. If this is going to proceed, we need the presence of a Fiscal or a counsel for the Register of Deeds. Can I appoint an outside lawyer not a Fiscal but a private counsel, your Honor. That is at your pleasure. The Court will consider that you should be amply represented. As a matter of fact I have a lawyer here, Atty. Barzaga if he is willing.

ATTY. CONCEPCION: COURT:

ATTY. CONCEPCION:

ATTY. BARZAGA4: Yes, your Honor, I will just review the records. ATTY. BUGARING: Anyway your Honor please, I will not yet present my witness but I will just mark our documentary exhibits which are part of the record of the case and thereafter your Honor please. COURT: You wait for a minute counsel because there is a preparation being done by newly appointed counsel of the respondent, Atty. Barzaga is considered as the privately hired counsel of the register of deeds and the respondent of this contempt proceedings. How much time do you need to go over the record of this case so

that we can call the other case in the meanwhile. ATTY. BARZAGA: Second call, your Honor.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------COURT: ATTY. BARZAGA: Are you ready Atty. Barzaga? Yes, your Honor. Well actually your Honor, after reviewing the record of the case your Honor, I noticed that the motion for contempt of Court was filed on November 6, 1966 and in paragraph 6 thereof, your Honor it is stated that, 'the record of the case shows up to the filing of this motion, the Register as well as the Deputy Register Diosdado Concepcion of the Office of the Register of Deeds of the Province of Cavite, did not comply with the Court Orders dated February 27, 1996, March 29, 1996, respectively.' However, your Honor, Atty. Diosdado Concepcion has shown to me a letter coming from Atty. Efren A. Bugaring dated September 18, 1996 addressed to the Register regarding this notice of Lis Pendens pertaining to TCT Nos. T-519248, 519249 and 519250 and this letter request, your Honor for the annotation of the lis pendens clearly shows that it has been already entered in the book of primary entry. We would like also to invite the attention of the Hon. Court that the Motion for Contempt of Court was filed on November 6, 1996. The letter for the annotation of the lis pendens was made by the counsel for the plaintiff only on September 18, 1996, your Honor. However, your Honor, as early as August 16, 1996 an Order has already been issued by the Hon. Court reading as follows, 'Wherefore in view of the above, the motion of the defendant is GRANTED and the Register of Deeds of the Province of Cavite, is hereby directed to CANCEL the notice of lis pendens annotated at the back of Certificate of Title Nos. 519248, 51949 (sic) and 51950 (sic).'

ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor please, may we proceed your Honor, will first mark our documentary evidence. COURT: You wait until the Court allows you to do what you want to do, okay. The counsel has just made manifestation, he has not prayed for anything. So let us wait until he is finished and then wait for the direction of this Court what to do to have an orderly proceedings in this case.

ATTY. BUGARING: Considering your Honor, that the issues appear to be a little bit complicated your Honor, considering that the order regarding the annotation of the lis pendens has already been revoked by the Hon. Court your Honor, we just request that we be given a period of ten days from today your Honor, within which to submit our formal written opposition your Honor. COURT: Counsel, will you direct your attention to the manifestation filed earlier by Atty. Tutaan in connection with the refusal of the Register of Deeds to annotate the lis pendens because of certain reasons. According to the manifestation of Atty. Tutaan and it is appearing in the earlier part of the record of this case, the reason

for that is because there was a pending subdivision plan, it is so stated. I think it was dated March, 1996. May 1 have the record please. ATTY. BARZAGA: COURT: Yes, your Honor. This Court would like to be enlightened with respect to that matter.

ATTY. BUGARING: Well, according to Atty. Diosdado Concepcion he could already explain this, your Honor. COURT: Have it properly addressed as part of the manifestation so that this court can be guided accordingly. Because this Court believes that the root of the matter started from that. After the submission of the . What are you suppose to submit?

ATTY. BUGARING: Comment your Honor, on the motion to cite Atty. Diosdado Concepcion in contempt of Court. COURT: After the submission of the Comment and furnishing a copy of the comment to the counsel for the plaintiff, this Court is going to give the counsel for the plaintiff an equal time within which to submit his reply.

ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor please, it is the position of this representation your Honor please, that we will be marking first our documentary evidence because this is set for hearing for today, your Honor please. COURT: If you are going to mark your evidence and they do not have their comment yet what are we going to receive as evidence.

ATTY. BUGARING: If your Honor please COURT: Will you listen to the Court and just do whatever you have to do after the submission of the comment.

ATTY. BUGARING: I am listening, your Honor please, but the record will show that the motion for contempt was copy furnished with the Register of Deeds and Diosdado Concepcion. COURT: Precisely, if you are listening then you will get what the Court would want to do. This should be an orderly proceedings and considering that this is a Court of record the comment has to be in first then in your reply you can submit your evidence to rebut the argument that is going to be put up by the respondent and so we will be able to hear the case smoothly.

ATTY. BUGARING: My point here your Honor please, is that the respondent had been long time furnished of this contempt proceedings. With a copy of the motion they should

have filed it in due time in accordance with the rules and because it is scheduled for trial, we are ready to mark our evidence and present to this Court, your Honor COURT: (Banging the gavel) Will you listen.

ATTY. BUGARING: I am listening, your Honor. COURT: And this Court declares that you are out of order.

ATTY. BUGARING: Well, if that is the contention of the Court your Honor please, we are all officers of the Court, your Honor, please, we have also ---- and we know also our procedure, your Honor. COURT: If you know your procedure then you follow the procedure of the Court first and then do whatever you want.

ATTY. BUGARING: Yes, your Honor please, because we could feel the antagonistic approach of the Court of this representation ever since I appeared your Honor please and I put on record that I will be filing an inhibition to this Hon. Court. COURT: Do that right away. (Banging the gavel)

ATTY. BUGARING: Because we could not find any sort of justice in town. COURT: Do that right away.

ATTY. BUGARING: We are ready to present our witness and we are deprive to present our witness. COURT: You have presented a witness and it was an adverse witness that was presented.

ATTY. BUGARING: I did not. COURT: With respect to this, the procedure of the Court is for the respondent to file his comment.

ATTY. BUGARING: Well your Honor please, at this point in time I don't want to comment on anything but I reserve my right to inhibit this Honorable Court before trying this case. COURT: You can do whatever you want.

ATTY. BUGARING: Yes, your Honor, that is our prerogative your Honor. COURT: As far as this Court is concerned it is going to follow the rules.

ATTY. BUGARING: Yes, your Honor, we know all the rules. COURT: Yes, you know your rules that's why you are putting the cart ahead of the horse.

ATTY. BUGARING: No your Honor, I've been challenged by this Court that I know better than this Court. Modestly (sic) aside your Honor please, I've been winning in many certiorari cases, your Honor. COURT: Okay, okay, do that, do that. I am going to cite you for contempt of Court. (Banging the gavel) You call the police and I am going to send this lawyer in jail. (Turning to the Sheriff)

ATTY. BUGARING: I am just manifesting and arguing in favor of my client your Honor please. COURT: You have been given enough time and you have been abusing the discretion of this Court.

ATTY. BUGARING: I am very sorry your Honor, if that is the appreciation of the Court but this is one way I am protecting my client, your Honor. COURT: That is not the way to protect your client that is an abuse of the discretion of this Court. (Turning to the Sheriff) "Will you see to it that this guy is put in jail." (pp. 2942. Rollo)

Hence, in an Order dated December 5, 1996, Judge Espaol cited petitioner in direct contempt of court, thus: During the hearing of this case, plaintiffs and counsel were present together with one (1) operating a video camera who was taking pictures of the proceedings of the case while counsel, Atty. Rexie Efren Bugaring was making manifestation to the effect that he was ready to mark his documentary evidence pursuant to his Motion to cite (in contempt of court) the Deputy Register of Deeds of Cavite, Diosdado Concepcion. The Court called the attention of said counsel who explained that he did not cause the appearance of the cameraman to take pictures, however, he admitted that they came from a function, and that was the reason why the said cameraman was in tow with him and the plaintiffs. Notwithstanding the flimsy explanation given, the counsel sent out the cameraman after the Court took exception to the fact that although the proceedings are open to the public and that it being a court of record, and since its permission was not sought, such situation was an abuse of discretion of the Court. When the respondent, Deputy Register of Deeds Concepcion manifested that he needed the services of counsel and right then and there appointed Atty. Elpidio Barzaga to present him, the case was allowed to be called again. On the second call, Atty. Burgaring started to insist that he be allowed to mark and present his documentary evidence in spite of the fact that Atty. Barzaga was still manifesting that he be allowed to submit a written pleading for his client, considering that the Motion has so many ramifications and the issues are complicated. At this point, Atty. Bugaring was insisting that he be allowed to mark his documentary evidence and was raring to argue as in fact he was already perorating despite the fact that Atty. Barzaga has not yet finished with his manifestation. As Atty. Bugaring appears to disregard orderly procedure, the Court directed him to listen and wait for the ruling of the Court for an orderly proceeding.

While claiming that he was listening, he would speak up anytime he felt like doing so. Thus, the Court declared him out of order, at which point, Atty. Bugaring flared up the uttered words insulting the Court; such as: 'that he knows better than the latter as he has won all his cases of certiorari in the appellate Courts, that he knows better the Rules of Court; that he was going to move for the inhibition of the Presiding Judge for allegedly being antagonistic to his client,' and other invectives were hurled to the discredit of the Court. Thus, in open court, Atty. Bugaring was declared in direct contempt and order the Court's sheriff to arrest and place him under detention. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing and the fact that Atty. Rexie Efren Bugaring committed an open defiance, even challenging the Court in a disrespectful, arrogant, and contumacious manner, he is declared in direct contempt of Court and is sentenced to three (3) days imprisonment and payment of a fine of P3,000.00. His detention shall commence immediately at the Municipal Jail of Imus, Cavite.5 Pursuant to said Order, the petitioner served his three (3) day sentence at the Imus Municipal Jail, and paid the fine of P3,000.00.6 While serving the first day of his sentence on December 5, 1996, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order citing him in direct contempt of court. The next day, December 6, 1996, petitioner filed another motion praying for the resolution of his motion for reconsideration. Both motions were never resolved and petitioner was released on December 8, 1996.7 To clear his name in the legal circle and the general public, petitioner filed a petition before the Court of Appeals praying for the annulment of the Order dated December 5, 1996 citing him in direct contempt of court and the reimbursement of the fine of P3,000.00 on grounds that respondent Judge Dolores S. Espaol had no factual and legal basis in citing him in direct contempt of court, and that said Order was null and void for being in violation of the Constitution and other pertinent laws and jurisprudence.8 The Court of Appeals found that from a thorough reading of the transcript of stenographic notes of the hearing held on December 5, 1996, it was obvious that the petitioner was indeed arrogant, at times impertinent, too argumentative, to the extent of being disrespectful, annoying and sarcastic towards the court.9 It affirmed the order of the respondent judge, but found that the fine of P3,000.00 exceeded the limit of P2,000.00 prescribed by the Rules of Court,10 and ordered the excess of P1,000.00 returned to petitioner. On March 6, 1998, it rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the assailed order dated December 5, 1996 issued by the trial court is hereby AFFIRMED with the modification that the excess fine of P1,000.00 is ORDERED RETURNED to the petitioner. Before us, petitioner ascribes to the Court of Appeals this lone error: THE APPELLATE COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AFFIRMING THE ASSAILED ORDER OF THE TRIAL COURT WHICH TO PETITIONER'S SUBMISSIONS SMACKS OF OPPRESSION AND ABUSE OF AUTHORITY, HENCE IT COMMITTED A GRAVE ERROR OF LAW IN ITS QUESTIONED DECISION.11 Petitioner insists that a careful examination of the transcript of stenographic notes of the subject proceedings would reveal that the contempt order issued by respondent judge had no factual and legal basis. It would also show that he was polite and respectful towards the court as he always addressed the court with the phrase "your honor please."

We disagree. Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court as amended by Administrative Circular No. 22-95 provides: Direct contempt punished summarily. A person guilty of misbehavior in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to obstruct or interrupt the proceedings before the same, including disrespect toward the court or judge, offensive personalities toward others, or refusal to be sworn or to answer as a witness, or to subscribe an affidavit or deposition when lawfully required to do so, may be summarily adjudged in contempt by such court or judge and punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) days, or both, if it be a superior court, or a judge thereof, or by a fine not exceeding two hundred pesos or imprisonment not exceeding one (1) day, or both, if it be an inferior court. We agree with the statement of the Court of Appeals that petitioner's alleged deference to the trial court in consistently addressing the respondent judge as "your Honor please" throughout the proceedings is belied by his behavior therein: 1. the veiled threat to file a petition for certiorari against the trial court (pp. 14-15, tsn, December 5, 1996; pp. 41-42, Rollo) is contrary to Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates that "a lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts". 2. the hurled uncalled for accusation that the respondent judge was partial in favor of the other party (pp. 13-14, tsn, December 5, 1996; pp. 40-41, Rollo) is against Rule 11.04, Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which enjoins lawyers from attributing to a judge "motives not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case". 3. behaving without due regard to the trial court's order to maintain order in the proceedings (pp. 9-13, tsn, December 5, 1996; pp. 36-40, Rollo) I in utter disregard to Canon 1 of the Canons of Professional Ethics which makes it a lawyer's duty to "maintain towards the courts (1) respectful attitude" in order to maintain its importance in the administration of justice, and Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates lawyers to "observe and maintain the respect due to the Courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others". 4. behaving without due regard or deference to his fellow counsel who at the time he was making representations in behalf of the other party, was rudely interrupted by the petitioner and was not allowed to further put a word in edgewise (pp. 7-13, tsn, December 5, 1996; pp. 34-39, Rollo) is violative of Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Ethics which obliges a lawyer to conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and 5. The refusal of the petitioner to allow the Registrar of Deeds of the Province of Cavite, through counsel, to exercise his right to be heard (Ibid) is against Section 1 of Article III, 1997 Constitution on the right to due process of law, Canon 18 of the Canons of Professional Ethics which mandates a lawyer to always treat an adverse witness "with fairness and due consideration," and Canon 12 of Code of Professional Responsibility which insists on a lawyer to "exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice." The Court cannot therefore help but notice the sarcasm in the petitioner's use of the phrase "your honor please." For, after using said phrase he manifested utter disrespect to the court in his subsequent utterances. Surely this behavior from an officer of the Court cannot and should not be countenanced, if proper decorum is to be observed and maintained during court proceedings. 12

Indeed, the conduct of petitioner in persisting to have his documentary evidence marked to the extent of interrupting the opposing counsel and the court showed disrespect to said counsel and the court, was defiant of the court's system for an orderly proceeding, and obstructed the administration of justice. The power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts and is essential to the preservation of order in judicial proceedings and to the enforcement of judgments, orders, and mandates of the court, and consequently, to the due administrative of justice.13 Direct contempt is committed in the presence of or so near a court or judge, as in the case at bar, and can be punished summarily without hearing.14 Hence, petitioner cannot claim that there was irregularity in the actuation of respondent judge in issuing the contempt order inside her chamber without giving the petitioner the opportunity to defend himself or make an immediate reconsideration. The records show that petitioner was cited in contempt of court during he hearing in the sala of respondent judge, and he even filed a motion for reconsideration of the contempt order on the same day.15 Petitioner argued that while it might appear that he was carried by his emotions in espousing the case of his client by persisting to have his documentary evidence marked despite the respondent judge's contrary order he did so in the honest belief that he was bound to protect the interest of his client to the best of his ability and with utmost diligence. The Court of Appeals aptly stated: But "a lawyer should not be carried away in espousing his client's cause" (Buenaseda v. Flavier, 226 SCRA 645, 656). He should not forget that he is an officer of the court, bound to exert every effort and placed under duty, to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice Presiding Judge, RTC, Br. 15, Ozamis City, 249 SCRA 432, 439). He should not, therefore, misuse the rules of procedure to defeat the ends of justice per Rule 10.03. Canon 10 of the Canons of Professional Responsibility, or unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse court processes, in accordance with Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the same Canons (Ibid). "Lawyers should be reminded that their primary duty is to assist the courts in the administration of justice. Any conduct which tends to delay, impede or obstruct the administration of justice contravenes such lawyer's duty."16 Although respondent judge was justified in citing petitioner in direct contempt of court, she erred in imposing a fine in the amount of P3,000.00 which exceeded the ceiling of P2,000.00 under Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 22-95 which took effect on November 16, 1995. It was not established that the fine was imposed in bad faith. The Court of Appeals thus properly ordered the return of the excess of P1,000.00. Aside from the fine, the three days imprisonment meted out to petitioner was justified and within the 10-day limit prescribed in Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, as amended. It is our view and we hold, therefore, that the Court of Appeals did not commit any reversible error in its assailed decision. WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated March 6, 1998 of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED. The Regional Trial Court of Cavite, Branch 90, Imus, Cavite is ordered to return to the petitioner, Rexie Efren A. Bugaring, the sum of P1,000.00 out of the original fine of P3,000.00.
1wphi1.nt

SO ORDERED.