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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.M. No. 3049 December 4, 1989

PERLA Y. LAGUITAN, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. SALVADOR F. TINIO, respondent.

Joanes G. Caacbay for respondent.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:

In the instant Petition for Disbarment dated 21 May 1987, petitioner Perla Y. Laguitan charged
Atty. Salvador F. Tinio with immorality and acts unbecoming a member of the Bar.

After answer was filed on 27 October 1987, the Court, in its Resolution dated 16 November 1987,
referred the Petition to the Solicitor General for Investigation, Report and Recommendation.

During the initial hearing of this case by the Solicitor General on 17 February 1988, only
respondent and his counsel appeared; it turned out that complainant had not been duly served
with notice of the hearing. The hearing scheduled for 24 March 1988 was likewise reset to 27
April 1988 upon motion of respondent and upon failure of complainant to appear before the
Office of the Solicitor General.

This case was eventually transmitted by the Solicitor General to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, Commission on Bar Discipline (Commission) for investigation and proper action.
Thus, in an order dated 18 August 1988, the Commission set the case for hearing on 9
September 1988 and required both complainant and respondent to submit additional copies of
their pleadings within ten (10) days from notice.

The initial hearing set by the Commission for 9 September 1988 was reset to 20 September 1988
because only complainant appeared, respondent having failed to present himself despite due
notice to him. The hearing of 20 September 1988 was again reset to 20 October 1988 because
neither complainant nor her counsel appeared. The hearing for 20 October 1988 was once again
reset to 14 November 1988 as only complainant appeared, Finally, the hearing for 14 November
1988 was rescheduled two (2) more times, first to 15 December 1988 and second to 17 January
1989.

In its Order dated 27 January 1989, the Commission, upon the unexplained failure of respondent
to appear at the hearing on 17 January 1989, required petitioner to make a formal offer of
evidence ex parte, and thereafter submit the case for resolution. The Order was duly received by
respondent's counsel on 31 January 1989.

On 9 February 1989, petitioner formally offered her exhibits as follows:

1. Exh. 'A' — Certificate of Live Birth of Sheila Laguitan


Tinio.

Purpose: To show and prove the filiation of the child as


shown on the document;

2. Exh. 'B' —Certificate of Live Birth of Benedict Laguitan.

Purpose: To show and prove likewise the filiation of the


child as shown on the document:

3. Exh. 'C' to 'C-6' — Receipts issued by the Mt. Carmel


Maternity and Children's Hospital.

Purpose: To prove that petitioner herein gave birth to a


baby girl at the Mt. Carmel Maternity and Children's
Hospital and for which respondent paid the bills for the
hospitalization, medicines and professional fees of
doctors;

4. Exh. 'D' to 'D-2' — Receipts issued by the Paulino


Medical Clinic.

Purpose: To show and prove that petitioner again gave birth to a baby
boy at said clinic and for which respondent paid the bill for
hospitalization, medicines and professional fees of doctors;

5. Exh. 'E' to 'E-l' — Baptismal certificates of Sheila L.


Tinio and Benedict L. Tinio, respectively

Purpose: To show and prove that respondent admits his paternity of


the children:

6. Exh. 'F' to 'F-4' — The family pictures showing


respondent either singly or with the rest of the family
during happier times.

Purpose: To show and prove that petitioner and respondent really lived
together as husband and wife and begot two children and the
respondent admits these through the pictures:

7. Exh. 'G' to 'G-3' — The school records of Sheila L. Tinio


at the St. Mary's Academy.
Purpose: To show and prove that respondent was supporting the
schooling of the children as he himself signed the correspondence and
was marked as Exh. 'G-2-A'. 1

Based on the aforequoted exhibits, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors
submitted to us its findings and recommendation, which may be summed up as follows:

Sometime in June 1974, complainant and respondent Tinio met each other and in time became
lovers. Beginning in 1976, the parties lived together as husband and wife. As a result,
complainant bore respondent two (2) children: Sheila, now about ten (10) years old and
Benedict, now approximately nine (9) years old. In the course of this relationship, petitioner
discovered that respondent Tinio, before meeting her, had contracted marriage with someone
else and that the prior marriage was subsisting. Nonetheless, complainant continued living in
with respondent until eventually, ten (10) years later, she and her children by respondent Tinio
were abandoned by the latter in November 1986. Feeling helpless and aggrieved, she sought the
help of respondent's parents in supporting her children who were then already in school.
Respondent's parents gave her P400.00 and advised her not to see them again.

After examination of the record of this case and noting that respondent Tinio appeared before
the IBP Investigating Commissioner and candidly admitted his illicit relationship with complainant
and his having begotten two (2) children by her, and promised the Commissioner that he would
support his illegitimate children but had not lived to his promise, we agree with the findings of
fact of the IBP Board. The IBP Board recommends that respondent Tinio be suspended from the
practice of law "not for having cohabited with the complainant, but for refusal to support his
illegitimate children," the suspension to remain in effect until respondent Tinio complies with his
obligation of support.

The Court agrees that respondent Tinio deserves to be suspended from the practice of law but
not merely because he has failed in his obligation to support the children complainant bore him
but also because for a prolonged period of time, he lived in concubinage with complainant, a
course of conduct inconsistent with the requirement of good moral character that is required for
the continued right to practice law as a member of the Philippine Bar, 2 Concubinage imports
moral turpitude and entails a public assault upon the basic social institution of marriage.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent Salvador F. Tinio from the practice of
law until further orders from this Court. The Court will consider lifting the suspension upon
evidence satisfactory to the Commission and to this Court that respondent is supporting or has
made provision for the support of his illegitimate children and that he has given up his immoral
course of conduct.

Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento,
Cortes, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Melencio-Herrera, J., is on Leave.

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 139337. August 15, 2001]


MA. CARMINIA C. ROXAS, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and JOSE ANTONIO F. ROXAS,
respondents.

DECISION

DE LEON, JR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision dated April 21, 1999 and Resolution
dated July 20, 1999 of the Court of Appeals nullifying the Orders dated May 13, 1998, May 19,
1998 and September 23, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City, Branch 260, which
found private respondent Jose Antonio F. Roxas liable to pay support pendente lite and
subsequently in contempt of court after failing to tender the required amount of support
pendente lite.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

On November 4, 1997, petitioner Ma. Carminia C. Roxas filed with the Regional Trial Court of
Parañaque City, Civil Case No. 97-0523, which is an action for declaration of nullity of marriage
on the ground of psychological incapacity on the part of her husband, Jose Antonio F. Roxas,
private respondent herein, with an application for support pendente lite for their four (4) minor
children. The case was raffled to Branch 257 of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City
presided by Judge Rolando C. How. But the petitioner, soon thereafter, filed in the said RTC
Branch 257 a Notice of Dismissal dated November 20, 1997, to dismiss the complaint, without
prejudice, pursuant to the provision of Section 1, Rule 17, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
considering that summons has not yet been served and no responsive pleading has yet been
filed.

The same complaint, now docketed as Civil Case No. 97-0608, was re-filed on November 25,
1997. It was raffled in due course to Branch 260 of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City
presided by Judge Helen Bautista-Ricafort.

On May 13, 1998, when the case was called for a pre-trial conference, the matter of plaintiff’s
(petitioner’s) application for support pendente lite of their four (4) minor children was taken up.
Judge Bautista-Ricafort received evidence on the application for support pendente lite. The
private respondent and her counsel, Atty. Alberto Diaz, participated in that proceedings by
conducting an extensive cross-examination of the petitioner. The trial court then issued its Order
dated May 13, 1998 declaring the proceedings on the application for support pendente lite
terminated and deemed submitted for resolution; and as prayed for by the parties, also set the
case for pre-trial on June 15, 1998 at 8:30 a.m.

On May 19, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort, issued an Order granting the application for support
pendente lite, the pertinent portion of which reads:

xxx xxx xxx

The plaintiff, testifying under oath, submitted Exhibit “A” itemizing the expenses incurred for the
support of the children over a period of time during their stay at Ayala-Alabang; and showed that
their total monthly average expense is P84,585.00, or P42,292.50 per month, per spouse.
Interestingly, the defendant did not adduce any evidence to dispute the figures presented to the
Court by the plaintiff, nor did he present proof of his financial incapacity to contribute more than
50% of the children’s school tuition fees.

The court has painstakingly reviewed the item included in Exhibit “A”, and found the same
reasonable, xxx.

Under Art. 49 of the Family Code, there being no written agreement between the plaintiff and the
defendant for the adequate support of their minor children xxx, this Court finds the prayer for
support pendente lite to be in order. Accordingly, the defendant is hereby ordered to contribute
to the support of the above-named minors, (aside from 50% of their school tuition fees which the
defendant has agreed to defray, plus expenses for books and other supplies), the sum of
P42,292.50 per month, effective May 1, 1998, as his share in the monthly support of the children
until further orders from this Court. xxx. All expenses for books and other school supplies shall
be shouldered by the plaintiff and the defendant, share and share alike. Finally, it is understood
that any claim for support-in-arrears prior to May 1, 1998, may be taken up later in the course of
the proceedings proper.

On July 22, 1998, the petitioner filed a manifestation and motion praying the trial court to cite
private respondent in contempt of court in accordance with Section 5, Rule 61 of the 1997 Rules
of Civil Procedure, after the latter failed to comply with the said Order dated May 19, 1998 of the
trial court. Private respondent, through his counsel, Atty. Alberto Diaz, filed a counter-
manifestation and motion admitting that “xxx there is really no genuine issue as to his obligation
and willingness to contribute to the expenses for the support of his minor children xxx. He
simply wants to make sure that whatever funds he provides for the purpose will go to the
expenses for which they are intended.” Thus, he prayed that the manner and mode of payment
of his contribution to the expenses of his minor children be modified such that he will pay
directly to the entities or persons to which the payment for such expenses are intended. On
September 23, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort issued an Order directing the private respondent
“to comply fully with the Order of this Court dated May 19, 1998 by updating payment of his
share in the support of the minor children, pendente lite, covering the period May 1998 to
September 1998, within five (5) days from his receipt hereof xxx under pain of legal sanctions if
he still fails to do so. xxx.”

On September 28, 1998, or about four (4) months later, private respondent, through his new
counsel, Atty. Francisco Ma. Guerrerro, filed an Omnibus Motion (1) applying to be authorized to
discharge Atty. Alberto Diaz as his counsel and to substitute him with the new counsel; (2) to re-
open hearing on the Motion for Support Pendente Lite; and (3) to temporarily stay execution of
the Orders dated May 19, 1998 and September 23, 1998. The omnibus motion was set for
hearing on October 2, 1998. Private respondent requested that before the omnibus motion is
heard the May 19, 1998 Order be temporarily suspended. When the presiding judge did not
grant that request of private respondent, the latter’s new counsel refused to proceed with the
hearing of his omnibus motion.

On October 8, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort issued an Order giving private respondent ten (10)
days to comply with the May 19, 1998 Order, otherwise, he would be cited for contempt of court.

On October 23, 1998, private respondent filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari
questioning the Orders of the trial court dated May 19, 1998, September 23, 1998 and October 8,
1998.
Meanwhile, on November 27, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort issued another Order, the dispositive
portion of which reads:

xxx xxx xxx

Accordingly, and on the strength of the provisions of Sec. 5 Rule 61 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, the defendant (herein private respondent) is hereby pronounced guilty of Contempt
of Court, and is hereby ordered arrested and confined at the City Jail of Parañaque City, Metro
Manila, without bail, and as long as he has not complied with and obeyed in full the Order of this
Court dated May 19, 1998 by updating his monthly contribution of P42,292.50 for the period of
May 1998 to the date, giving the said amount directly to the plaintiff, or depositing it with the
Clerk of Court, who shall therefor (issue) the corresponding receipts.

xxx xxx xxx

Private respondent was arrested by the agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on
December 14, 1998 but he was released on the following day after the appellate court
temporarily enjoined Judge Bautista-Ricafort from enforcing her November 27, 1998 Order as
well as her Orders dated May 19, 1998, September 23, 1998, and October 8, 1998. When the
temporary restraining order lapsed on March 11, 1998, the respondent was again arrested by
virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Bautista-Ricafort. After depositing with the clerk of
court of the trial court the amount of support in arrears stated in the Orders of the trial court,
private respondent was released from custody.

On April 21, 1999, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision in favor of private respondent, the
dispositive portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, being meritorious, the instant petition is GRANTED. Consequently, all the
proceedings/actions taken by respondent Judge on the matter of support pendente lite in Civil
Case No. 97-0608 (formerly Civil Case No. 97-0523) are hereby declared NULL and VOID, and
said CASE is ordered RETURNED to Branch 257 of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City, for
appropriate proceedings.

SO ORDERED.

The appellate court nullified the Orders and the proceedings of the trial court for the reason that
the certificate of non-forum shopping of the petitioner did not mention the prior filing of Civil
Case No. 97-0523 before the sala of Judge How and the dismissal thereof without prejudice. The
decision of the appellate court elaborated the reasons for the granting of the petition, to wit:

xxx xxx xxx

While a complaint may be dismissed by the plaintiff by filing a notice of dismissal at any time
before service of the answer (Sec. 1, Rule 17), there is however a need to state the fact of prior
filing and dismissal thereof in the certification on non-forum shopping, in the event the complaint
is refiled, as in this case. This must be so in order to prevent the plaintiff or principal party from
invoking Section 1 of Rule 17 in the hope that, if and when refiled, the complaint will be raffled to
a more sympathetic judge.
To the mind of the Court, private respondent availed of Section 1 of Rule 17 not for any other
reason or purpose than to take the case out of the sala of Judge How and to have it assigned to
another. This belief finds support from the fact that private respondent’s lawyer and respondent
Judge were classmates at the UP College of Law.

Not only that. While private respondent actually resides in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City, it
was made to appear in the complaint that she is a resident of Parañaque City, where respondent
Judge is one of the RTC Judges. While the question of venue was not properly raised on time,
this circumstance is being cited to support petitioner’s charge of forum-shopping.

xxx xxx xxx

Needless to say, forum-shopping merits such serious sanctions as those prescribed in Section 5,
Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Considering, however, that when the complaint was
withdrawn, no substantial proceedings had as yet been taken by the court to which it was first
raffled, and that the dismissal thereof was then a matter or (sic) right, the Court is not inclined to
impose any of the said sanctions. Instead, for the peace of mind of petitioner who entertains
some doubts on the impartiality of respondent Judge, the annulment case should be returned to
Branch 257 of the RTC of Parañaque City, to which it was originally raffled. And, to enable the
Presiding Judge of said Branch to act on the matter of support pendente lite, which gave rise to
this petition for certiorari and disqualification, the proceedings/actions taken by respondent
Judge relative thereto should be set aside, the same having been attended with grave abuse of
discretion.

xxx xxx xxx

In the instant petition the petitioner poses the following statement of issues, to wit:

DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN HOLDING THE HEREIN PETITIONER GUILTY OF
FORUM SHOPPING?

II

DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN NULLIFYING JUDGE RICAFORT’S ORDER OF
SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE AND HER RELATED IMPLEMENTING ORDERS WHICH IT WAS HER
JUDICIAL DUTY TO ISSUE UNDER ART. 49 OF THE FAMILY CODE AND OTHER RELATED
PROVISIONS OF LAW?

III

DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN NULLIFYING THE PROCEEDINGS ALREADY HELD
BEFORE JUDGE RICAFORT AFFECTING HER QUESTIONED ORDERS, AT THE SAME TIME IMPLIEDLY
UPHOLDING THE VALIDITY OF THE REST OF THE PROCEEDINGS INCLUDING THE TRIAL ON THE
MERITS OF THE CASE FOR ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE?

IV
DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN ORDERING THAT CIVIL CASE NO. 97-0523
RAFFLED TO JUDGE RICAFORT BE “RETURNED” TO JUDGE HOW OF BRANCH 257 OF THE RTC OF
PARANAQUE CITY?

In other words, if a case is dismissed without prejudice upon the filing by the plaintiff of a notice
of dismissal pursuant to Section 1 of Rule 17, before the service of the answer or responsive
pleading, would the subsequent re-filing of the case by the same party require that the
certificate of non-forum shopping state that a case involving the same issues and parties was
filed and dismissed without prejudice beforehand? Would the omission of such a statement in the
certificate of non-forum shopping render null and void the proceedings and orders issued by the
trial court in the re-filed case?

It is our considered view and we hold that the proceedings and orders issued by Judge Bautista-
Ricafort in the application for support pendente lite (and the main complaint for annulment of
marriage) in the re-filed case, that is, in Civil Case No. 97-0608 were not rendered null and void
by the omission of a statement in the certificate of non-forum shopping regarding the prior filing
and dismissal without prejudice of Civil Case No. 97-0523 which involves the same parties and
issues.

Section 5 of Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:

SEC. 5. Certification against forum shopping. – The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under
oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn
certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not theretofore
commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or
quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending
therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present
status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has
been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court
wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.

Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by mere amendment of
the complaint or other initiatory pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without
prejudice, unless otherwise provided, upon motion and after hearing. The submission of a false
certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect
contempt of court, without prejudice to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If
the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the
same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt
as well as a cause for administrative sanctions. (n)

Forum shopping is an act of a party against whom an adverse judgment has been rendered in
one forum of seeking and possibly getting a favorable opinion in another forum, other than by
appeal or the special civil action of certiorari, or the institution of two or more actions or
proceedings grounded on the same cause on the supposition that one or the other court would
make a favorable disposition. The language of the Supreme Court circular (now the above-
quoted Section 5, Rule 7, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure) distinctly suggests that it is primarily
intended to cover an initiatory pleading or an incipient application of a party asserting a claim for
relief. The most important factor in determining the existence of forum shopping is the “vexation
caused the courts and parties-litigants by a party who asks different courts to rule on the same
or related causes or grant the same or substantially the same reliefs.”

Since a party resorts to forum shopping in order to increase his chances of obtaining a favorable
decision or action, it has been held that a party cannot be said to have sought to improve his
chances of obtaining a favorable decision or action where no unfavorable decision has ever been
rendered against him in any of the cases he has brought before the courts. Forum shopping
exists where the elements of litis pendencia are present, and where a final judgment in one case
will amount to res judicata in the other. For the principle of res judicata to apply, the following
must be present: (1) a decision on the merits; (2) by a court of competent jurisdiction; (3) the
decision is final; and (4) the two actions involve identical parties, subject matter and causes of
action.

In the case at bar, there was no adverse decision against the petitioner in Civil Case No. 97-0523
which was the first case filed and raffled to the sala (Branch 257) of Judge How. The dismissal
without prejudice of the complaint in Civil Case No. 97-0523 at the instance of the petitioner was
pursuant to Section 1, Rule 17 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure considering that it was done
before service of answer or any responsive pleading. The dismissal does not amount to litis
pendencia nor to res judicata. There is no litis pendencia since the first case before Judge How
was dismissed or withdrawn by the plaintiff (herein petitioner), without prejudice, upon her filing
of a notice of dismissal, pursuant to Section 1, Rule 17 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. To
use the wording of that rule, Judge How’s order is one merely “confirming the dismissal” of the
complaint by the plaintiff (herein petitioner). Neither is there res judicata for the reason that the
order of dismissal was not a decision on the merits but a dismissal “without prejudice”.

Thus, private respondent’s apprehension that the case was dismissed in order to be transferred
to the sala of a judge who is allegedly more sympathetic to the petitioner’s cause is baseless and
not a valid reason to declare the petitioner guilty of forum shopping. First, the petitioner is not
assured that the case would be raffled to a more sympathetic judge. There are five (5) RTC
branches in Parañaque, namely, branch nos. 257, 258, 259, 260 and 274. Second, Judge
Bautista-Ricafort of RTC of Parañaque, Branch 260, is presumed to be fair and impartial despite
private respondent’s claim that she is an alleged law school classmate of the petitioner’s
counsel. In any event, at the slightest doubt of the impartiality of the said trial judge, private
respondent could have filed before the same judge a motion for her inhibition on that ground.
But private respondent did not.

Private respondent is also estopped in questioning the proceedings and orders of Judge Bautista-
Ricafort. He tacitly acknowledged the validity of the proceedings and the orders issued by the
said trial judge by participating actively in the hearing on the application for support pendente
lite and by praying for the modification of the Order of May 19, 1998 in that he should be allowed
to directly pay to the persons or entities to which payments of such expenses are intended in
connection with the required support pendente lite of their minor children. Private respondent
cannot validly claim that he was not ably and sufficiently represented by his first counsel, Atty.
Diaz, especially during the hearing on that incident on May 13, 1998 when he himself was
present thereat.

It is also too late for the private respondent to claim wrong venue in the Regional Trial Court of
Parañaque City as a alleged proof of forum shopping. He should have raised that ground in his
answer or in a motion to dismiss. But he did not, so it is deemed waived. Besides, petitioner is
also a resident of Parañaque where the family of her parents reside.

Considering that the complaint in Civil Case No. 97-0523 was dismissed without prejudice by
virtue of the plaintiff’s (herein petitioner’s) Notice of Dismissal dated November 20, 1997 filed
pursuant to Section 1, Rule 17, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, there is no need to state in
the certificate non-forum shopping in Civil Case No. 97-0608 about the prior filing and dismissal
of Civil Case No. 97-0523. In Gabionza v. Court of Appeals, we ruled that it is scarcely necessary
to add that Circular No. 28-91 (now Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure) must
be so interpreted and applied as to achieve the purposes projected by the Supreme Court when
it promulgated that Circular. Circular No. 28-91 was designed to serve as an instrument to
promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice and should not be interpreted with
such absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objective or the goal of all
rules or procedure – which is to achieve substantial justice as expeditiously as possible. The fact
that the Circular requires that it be strictly complied with merely underscores its mandatory
nature in that it cannot be dispensed with or its requirements altogether disregarded, but it does
not thereby interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable circumstances.

Thus, an omission in the certificate of non-forum shopping about any event that would not
constitute res judicata and litis pendencia as in the case at bar, is not fatal as to merit the
dismissal and nullification of the entire proceedings considering that the evils sought to be
prevented by the said certificate are not present. It is in this light that we ruled in Maricalum
Mining Corp. v. National Labor Relations Commission that a liberal interpretation of Supreme
Court Circular No. 04-94 on non-forum shopping would be more in keeping with the objectives of
procedural rules which is to “secure a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action
and proceeding.”

For a party to be adjudged guilty of forum shopping in the trial courts, a motion to dismiss on the
ground of either litis pendencia or res judicata must be filed before the proper trial court and a
hearing conducted thereon in accordance with Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure. The same ground cannot be raised in a petition for certiorari before the appellate
court while the main action in the trial court is still pending for the reason that such ground for
a motion to dismiss can be raised before the trial court any time during the proceedings and is
not barred by the filing of the answer to the complaint.

The petition for certiorari in the case at bar on the ground of alleged forum shopping in the trial
court is premature for the reason that there is an adequate and speedy remedy available in the
ordinary course of law to private respondent, i.e., a motion to dismiss or a motion for
reconsideration on the ground of either litis pendencia or res judicata before the trial court. But
private respondent did not file such a motion based on either of said grounds. And where the
ground is short of res judicata or litis pendencia, as in the case at bar, the Court of Appeals acted
with grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction when it granted the petition
for certiorari filed by herein private respondent. The trial court should have been given an
opportunity to rule on the matter of alleged forum shopping in consonance with the hierarchy of
courts.

WHEREFORE, the Decision and Resolution dated April 21, 1999 and July 20, 1999 respectively,
of the Court of Appeals are hereby REVERSED, and the Orders dated May 13, 1998, May 19, 1998
and September 23, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City, Branch 260, are
REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ., concur.

Penned by Associate Justice Artemio G. Tuquero and concurred in by Associate Justices Eubulo G.
Verzola and Mariano M. Umali; Rollo, pp. 30-36.

Rollo, p. 38.

Rollo, pp. 78-82.

Rollo, pp. 78-80.

Rollo, pp. 86-88.

Rollo, p. 81.

Rollo, pp. 102-103.

Rollo, pp. 35-36.

Rollo, pp. 34-35.

Santo Tomas University Hospital v. Surla, 294 SCRA 382, 391 (1998).

Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Flores, 287 SCRA 449, 458 (1998); Borromeo v.
Intermediate Appellate Court, 255 SCRA 75, 84 (1996).

Executive Secretary v. Gordon, 298 SCRA 736, 741 (1998); International Container Terminal
Services, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 249 SCRA 389 (1995).

Saura v. Saura, Jr., 313 SCRA 465, 475 (1999); Prubankers Association v. Prudential Bank & Trust
Company, 302 SCRA 74, 83 (1999).

Alejandrino v. Court of Appeals, 295 SCRA 536, 554 (1998).

Rule 17, Section 1. Dismissal upon notice by plaintiff. – A complaint may be dismissed by the
plaintiff by filing a notice of dismissal at any time before service of the answer or of a motion for
summary judgment. Upon such notice being filed, the court shall issue an order confirming the
dismissal. Unless otherwise stated in the notice, the dismissal is without prejudice, except that a
notice operates as an adjudication upon the merits when filed by a plaintiff who has once
dismissed in a competent court an action based on or including the same claim.

234 SCRA 192.

Loyola v. Court of Appeals, 245 SCRA 477, 483-484 (1995).


298 SCRA 379, 386 (1998), citing Section 6, Rule 1, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

Section 1, Rule 10 and Section 1, Rule 16 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.M. No. 491 October 6, 1989

IN THE MATTER OF THE INQUIRY INTO THE 1989 ELECTIONS OF THE INTEGRATED BAR
OF THE PHILIPPINES.

PER CURIAM:

In the election of the national officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereafter "IBP")
held on June 3, 1989 at the Philippine International Convention Center (or PICC), the following
were elected by the House of Delegates (composed of 120 chapter presidents or their alternates)
and proclaimed as officers:

NAME POSITION

Atty. Violeta Drilon President

Atty. Bella Tiro Executive Vice-President

Atty. Salvador Lao Chairman, House of Delegates

Atty. Renato F. Secretary, House of Delegates


Ronquillo

Atty. Teodoro Quicoy Treasurer, House of Delegates

Atty. Oscar Badelles Sergeant at Arms, House of Delegates

Atty. Justiniano Cortes Governor & Vice-President for Northern Luzon

Atty. Ciriaco Atienza Governor & Vice-President for Central Luzon

Atty. Mario Jalandoni Governor & Vice-President for Metro Manila

Atty. Jose Aguilar Governor & Vice-President for Southern Luzon


Grapilon

Atty. Teodoro Almine Governor & Vice-President for Bicolandia

Atty. Porfirio Siyangco Governor & Vice-President for Eastern Visayas

Atty. Ricardo Teruel Governor & Vice-President for Western


Visayas
Atty. Gladys Tiongco Governor & Vice-President for Eastern
Mindanao

Atty. Simeon Governor & Vice-President for Western


Datumanong Mindanao

The newly-elected officers were set to take the their oath of office on July 4,1989, before the
Supreme Court en banc. However,disturbed by the widespread reports received by some
members of the Court from lawyers who had witnessed or participated in the proceedings and
the adverse comments published in the columns of some newspapers about the intensive
electioneering and overspending by the candidates, led by the main protagonists for the office of
president of the association, namely, Attorneys Nereo Paculdo, Ramon Nisce, and Violeta C.
Drilon, the alleged use of government planes, and the officious intervention of certain public
officials to influence the voting, all of which were done in violation of the IBP By-Laws which
prohibit such activities. The Supreme Court en banc, exercising its power of supervision over the
Integrated Bar, resolved to suspend the oath-taking of the IBP officers-elect and to inquire into
the veracity of the reports.

It should be stated at the outset that the election process itself (i.e. the voting and the
canvassing of votes on June 3, 1989) which was conducted by the "IBP Comelec," headed by
Justice Reynato Puno of the Court of Appeals, was unanimously adjudged by the participants and
observers to be above board. For Justice Puno took it upon himself to device safeguards to
prevent tampering with, and marking of, the ballots.

What the Court viewed with considerable concern was the reported electioneering and
extravagance that characterized the campaign conducted by the three candidates for president
of the IBP.

I. MEDIA ACCOUNT OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN.

Emil Jurado, in his column "IBP Group Questions Drilon Election" (Manila Standard, Sunday, June
17, 1989), Luis Mauricio, in two successive columns: "The Invertebrated Bar" (Malaya, June 10,
1989) and "The Disintegrating Bar" (Malaya, June 20, 1989), and Teodoro Locsin Jr. in an article,
entitled "Pam-Pam" (The Philippines Free Press, July 8,1989), and the editorial, entitled 'Wrong
Forum" of the Daily Globe (June 8, 1989), were unanimously critical of the "vote-buying and
pressure tactics" allegedly employed in the campaign by the three principal candidates: Attys.
Violeta C. Drilon, Nereo Paculdo and Ramon Nisce who reportedly "poured heart, soul, money
and influence to win over the 120 IBP delegates."

Mr. Jurado mentioned the resentment of Atty. Drilon's rivals who felt at a disadvantage because
Atty. Drilon allegedly used PNB helicopters to visit far-flung IBP chapters on the pretext of
distributing Bigay Puso donations, and she had the added advantage of having regional directors
and labor arbiters of the Department of Labor and Employment (who had been granted leaves of
absence by her husband, the Labor Secretary) campaigning for her. Jurado's informants alleged
that there was rampant vote-buying by some members of the U.P. Sigma Rho Fraternity
(Secretary Drilon's fraternity), as well as by some lawyers of ACCRA (Angara, Concepcion, Cruz,
Regala and Abello Law Office) where Mrs. Drilon is employed, and that government positions
were promised to others by the office of the Labor Secretary.
Mr. Mauricio in his column wrote about the same matters and, in addition, mentioned "talk of
personnel of the Department of Labor, especially conciliators and employers, notably Chinese
Filipinos, giving aid and comfort to her (Atty. Drilon's) candidacy," the billeting of out-of-town
delegates in plush hotels where they were reportedly "wined and dined continuously, womened
and subjected to endless haggling over the price of their votes x x x" which allegedly "ranged
from Pl5,000 to P20,000, and, on the day of the election, some twelve to twenty votes which
were believed crucial, appreciated to P50,000."

In his second column, Mr. Mauricio mentioned "how a top official of the judiciary allegedly
involved himself in IBP politics on election day by closeting himself with campaigners as they
plotted their election strategy in a room of the PICC (the Philippine International Convention
Center where the convention/election were held) during a recess x x x."

Mr. Locsin in his column and editorial substantially re-echoed Mauricio's reports with some
embellishments.

II. THE COURT'S DECISION TO INVESTIGATE.

Responding to the critical reports, the Court, in its en banc resolution dated June 15, 1989,
directed the outgoing and incoming members of the IBP Board of Governors, the principal
officers and Chairman of the House of Delegates to appear before it on Tuesday, June 20, 1989,
at 2:00 o'clock p.m., and there to inform the Court on the veracity of the aforementioned reports
and to recommend, for the consideration of the Court, appropriate approaches to the problem of
confirming and strengthening adherence to the fundamental principles of the IBP.

In that resolution the Court "call[ed] to mind that a basic postulate of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), heavily stressed at the time of its organization and commencement of
existence, is that the IBP shall be non-political in character and that there shall be no lobbying
nor campaigning in the choice of members of the Board of Governors and of the House of
Delegates, and of the IBP officers, national, or regional, or chapter. The fundamental assumption
was that officers, delegates and governors would be chosen on the basis of professional merit
and willingness and ability to serve."

The resolution went on to say that the "Court is deeply disturbed to note that in connection with
the election of members of the Board of Governors and of the House of Delegates, there is a
widespread belief, based on reports carried by media and transmitted as well by word of mouth,
that there was extensive and intensive campaigning by candidates for IBP positions as well as
expenditure of considerable sums of money by candidates, including vote-buying, direct or
indirect."

The venerable retired Supreme Court Justice and IBP President Emeritus, Jose B.L. Reyes,
attended the dialogue, upon invitation of the Court, to give counsel and advice. The meeting
between the Court en banc on the one hand, and the outgoing and in coming IBP officers on the
other, was an informal one. Thereafter, the Court resolved to conduct a formal inquiry to
determine whether the prohibited acts and activities enumerated in the IBP By-Laws were
committed before and during the 1989 elections of IBP's national officers.

The Court en banc formed a committee and designated Senior Associate Justice Andres R.
Narvasa, as Chairman, and Associate Justices Teodoro R. Padilla, Emilio A. Gancayco, Abraham F.
Sarmiento, and Carolina C. Griño-Aquino, as members, to conduct the inquiry. The Clerk of Court,
Atty. Daniel Martinez, acted as the committee's Recording Secretary.

A total of forty-nine (49) witnesses appeared and testified in response to subpoenas issued by
the Court to shed light on the conduct of the elections. The managers of three five-star hotels the
Philippine Plaza, the Hyatt, and the Holiday Inn where the three protagonists (Drilon, Nisce and
Paculdo) allegedly set up their respective headquarters and where they billeted their supporters
were summoned. The officer of the Philippine National Bank and the Air Transport Office were
called to enlighten the Court on the charge that an IBP presidential candidate and the members
of her slate used PNB planes to ferry them to distant places in their campaign to win the votes of
delegates. The Philippine Airlines officials were called to testify on the charge that some
candidates gave free air fares to delegates to the convention. Officials of the Labor Department
were also called to enable the Court to ascertain the truth of the reports that labor officials
openly campaigned or worked for the election of Atty. Drilon.

The newspaper columnists, Messrs. Luis Mauricio, Jesus Bigornia and Emil Jurado were
subpoenaed to determine the nature of their sources of information relative to the IBP elections.
Their stories were based, they said, on letters, phone calls and personal interviews with persons
who claimed to have knowledge of the facts, but whom they, invoking the Press Freedom Law,
refused to identify.

The Committee has since submitted its Report after receiving, and analyzing and assessing
evidence given by such persons as were perceived to have direct and personal knowledge of the
relevant facts; and the Court, after deliberating thereon, has Resolved to accept and adopt the
same.

III. PROHIBITED ACTS AND PRACTICES UNDER IBP BY-LAWS.

Article I, Section 4 of the IBP By-Laws emphasizes the "strictly non-political" character of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, thus:

"SEC. 4. Non-political Bar. — The Integrated Bar is strictly non-political, and every
activity tending to impair this basic feature is strictly prohibited and shall be
penalized accordingly. No lawyer holding an elective, judicial, quasi-judicial, or
prosecutory office in the Government or any political subdivision or instrumentality
thereof shall be eligible for election or appointment to any position in the Integrated
Bar or any Chapter thereof. A Delegate, Governor, officer or employee of the
Integrated Bar, or an officer or employee of any Chapter thereof shall be considered
ipso facto resigned from his position as of the moment he files his certificate of
candidacy for any elective public office or accepts appointment to any judicial,
quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the Government or any political subdivision or
instrumentality thereof. "'

Section 14 of the same By-Laws enumerates the prohibited acts relative to IBP
elections:

SEC. 14. Prohibited acts and practices relative to elections. — The following acts
and practices relative to election are prohibited, whether committed by a candidate
for any elective office in the Integrated Bar or by any other member, directly or
indirectly, in any form or manner, by himself or through another person:

(a) Distribution, except on election day, of election campaign material;

(b) Distribution, on election day, of election campaign material other than a


statement of the biodata of a candidate on not more than one page of a legal-size
sheet of paper; or causing distribution of such statement to be done by persons
other than those authorized by the officer presiding at the elections;

(c) Campaigning for or against any candidate, while holding an elective, judicial,
quasi-judicial or prosecutory office in the Government or any political subdivision,
agency or instrumentality thereof;

(d) Formation of tickets, single slates, or combinations of candidates, as well as the


advertisement thereof;

(e) For the purpose of inducing or influencing a member to withhold his vote, or to
vote for or against a candidate, (1) payment of the dues or other indebtedness of
any member; (2) giving of food, drink, entertainment, transportation or any article
of value, or any similar consideration to any person; or (3) making a promise or
causing an expenditure to be made, offered or promised to any person."

Section 12(d) of the By-Laws prescribes sanctions for violations of the above rules:

(d) Any violation of the rules governing elections or commission of any of the
prohibited acts and practices defined in Section 14 prohibited Acts and Practices
relative to elections) of the by-laws of the Integrated Bar shall be a ground for the
disqualification of a candidate or his removal from office if elected, without
prejudice to the imposition of sanctions upon any erring member pursuant to the
By-laws of the Integrated Bar.

At the formal investigation which was conducted by the investigating committee, the following
violations were established:

(1) Prohibited campaigning and solicitation of votes by the candidates for president, executive
vice-president, the officers of candidate the House of Delegates and Board of Governors.

The three candidates for IBP President Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo began travelling around the
country to solicit the votes of delegates as early as April 1989. Upon the invitation of IBP
President, Leon Garcia, Jr. (t.s.n., July 13,1989, p. 4), they attended the Bench and Bar dialogues
held in Cotabato in April 1989 (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, p. 123), in Tagaytay City, Pampanga, and in
Baguio City (during the conference of chapter presidents of Northern Luzon (t.s.n., July 3,1989, p.
113; t.s.n., July 10, p. 41; t.s.n., July 13, p. 47) where they announced their candidacies and met
the chapter presidents.

Atty. Nisce admitted that he went around the country seeking the help of IBP chapter officers,
soliciting their votes, and securing their written endorsements. He personally hand-carried
nomination forms and requested the chapter presidents and delegates to fill up and sign the
forms to formalize their commitment to his nomination for IBP President. He started campaigning
and distributing the nomination forms in March 1989 after the chapter elections which
determined the membership of the House of Delegates composed of the 120 chapter presidents
(t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-86). He obtained forty (40) commitments. He submitted
photocopies of his nomination forms which read:

"Nomination Form

I Join in Nominating

RAMON M. NISCE

as

National President of the

Integrated Bar of the Philippines

______________ _______________

Chapter Signature"

Among those who signed the nomination forms were: Onofre P. Tejada, Candido P. Balbin, Jr.,
Conizado V. Posadas, Quirico L. Quirico Ernesto S. Salun-at, Gloria C. Agunos, Oscar B. Bernardo,
Feliciano F. Wycoco, Amor L. Ibarra, Jose M. Atienza, Jose N. Contreras, Romeo T. Mendoza, Leo
C. Medialdea, Jr., Paulino G. Clarin, Julius Z. Neil, Roem J. Arbolado Democrito M. Perez, Abelardo
Fermin, Diosdado B. Villarin, Jr., Daniel C. Macaraeg, Confesor R. Sansano Dionisio E. Bala, Jr.,
Emesto A. Amores, Romeo V. Pefianco, Augurio C. Pamintuan, Atlee T. Viray, Ceferino C.
Cabanas, Jose S. Buban, Diosdado Z. Reloj, Jr., Cesar C. Viola, Oscar C. Fernandez, Ricardo B.
Teruel Rodrigo R. Flores, Sixto Marella, Jr., Arsenio C. Villalon, Renato F. Ronquillo, Antonio G.
Nalapo Romualdo A. Din Jr., Jose P. Icaonapo Jr., and Manuel S. Person.

Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms at the Hyatt Hotel based on the commitments he
had obtained (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-85). Unfortunately, despite those formal
commitments, he obtained only 14 votes in the election (t.s.n., June 29, 1 989, p. 86). The
reason, he said, is that. some of those who had committed their votes to him were "manipulated,
intimidated, pressured, or remunerated" (t.s.n., June 29,1989, pp. 8695; Exhibit "M-4-Nisce,"
t.s.n., July 4, 1989, pp. 100-1 04).

(2) Use of PNB plane in the campaign.

The records of the Philippine National Bank (Exhibit C-1-Crudo and Exhibit C-2-Crudo) show that
Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources
(DENR) borrowed a plane from the Philippine National Bank for his Bicol CORD (Cabinet Officers
for Regional Development) Assistant, Undersecretary Antonio Tria. The plane manifest (Exh. C-2-
Crudo) listed Atty. Violeta Drilon, Arturo Tusi (Tiu), Assistant Secretary for Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) Tony Tria, Atty. Gladys Tiongco, and Amy Wong. Except for Tony Tria,
the rest of the passengers were IBP candidates.

Atty. Drilon admitted that she "hitched" a ride on a PNB plane. She said that she was informed by
Atty. Tiu about the availability of a PNB plane (t.s.n., July 3,1989, pp. 116-118).

Atty. Tiu, who ran for the position of IBP executive vice-president in the Drilon ticket, testified
that sometime in May 1989 he failed to obtain booking from the Philippine Airlines for the
projected trip of his group to Bicol. He went to the DENR allegedly to follow up some papers for a
client. While at the DENR, he learned that Assistant Secretary Tria was going on an official
business in Bicol for Secretary Fulgencio Factoran and that he would be taking a PNB plane. As
Assistant Secretary Tria is his fraternity brother, he asked if he, together with the Drilon group,
could hitch a ride on the plane to Bicol. His request was granted. Their purpose in going to Bicol
was to assess their chances in the IBP elections. The Drilon company talked with the IBP chapter
presidents in Daet, Naga, and Legaspi, and asked for their support (t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 549).

Assistant Secretary Antonio S. Tria confirmed the use of a PNB plane by Atty. Drilon and her
group. He recalled that on May 23,1989, DENR Secretary Factoran instructed him to go to Bicol
to monitor certain regional development projects there and to survey the effect of the typhoon
that hit the region in the middle of May. On the same day, Atty. Tiu, a fraternity brother
(meaning that Tiu belongs to the Sigma Rho fraternity) went to the DENR office and requested
the Secretary (Factoran) if he (Tiu) could be allowed to hitch a ride on the plane. Assistant
Secretary Tria, together with the Drilon group which included Attorneys Drilon, Grapilon, Amy
Wong, Gladys Tiongco, and Tiu, took off at the Domestic Airport bound for Naga, Daet and
Legaspi. In Legaspi the Drilon group had lunch with Atty. Vicente Real, Jr., an IBP chapter
president (t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 54-69).

(3) Formation of tickets and single slates.

The three candidates, Paculdo, Nisce and Drilon, admitted having formed their own slates for the
election of IBP national officers on June 3, 1989.

Atty. Paculdo's slate consisted of — himself for President; Bella D. Tiro, for Executive Vice-
President; and for Governors: Justiniano P. Cortez (Northern Luzon), Oscar C. Fernandez (Central
Luzon), Mario C.V. Jalandoni (Greater Manila), Petronilo A. de la Cruz (Southern Luzon), Teodorico
C. Almine, Jr. (Bicolandia), Ricardo B. Teruel (Western Visayas), Porfirio P. Siyangco (Eastern
Visayas), Jesus S. Anonat (Western Mindanao), Guerrero A. Adaza, Jr. (Eastern Mindanao) (Exhibit
M-Nisce).

The Drilon ticket consisted of. Violeta C. Drilon for President, Arturo Tiu for Executive Vice
President, Salvador Lao for Chairman of the House of Delegates, and, for Governors: Basil
Rupisan (Northern 'Luzon), Acong Atienza (Central Luzon), Amy Wong (Metro Manila), Jose
Grapilon (Southern Tagalog), Teodoro Almine (Bicolandia), Baldomero Estenzo (Eastern Visayas),
Joelito Barrera (Western Visayas), Gladys Tiongco (Eastern Mindanao), Simeon Datumanong
(Western Mindanao) (Exhibit M-1-Nisce).

Atty. Ramon N. Nisce's line-up listed himself and Confessor B. Sansano Benjamin B. Bernardino,
Antonio L. Nalapo Renato F. Ronquillo, Gloria C. Agunos, Mario Valderrama, Candido P. Balbin Jr.,
Oscar C. Fernandez, Cesar G. Viola, Leo C. Medialdea, Jr., Vicente P. Tordilla, Jr., Jose S. Buban,
Joel A. Llosa, Jesus T. Albacite and Oscar V. Badelles.

(4) Giving free transportation to out-of-town delegates and alternates.

Atty. Nisce admitted having bought plane tickets for some delegates to the convention. He
mentioned Oscar Badelles to whom he gave four round-trip tickets (worth about P10,000) from
Iligan City to Manila and back. Badelles was a voting delegate. Nisce, however, failed to get a
written commitment from him because Atty. Medialdea assured him (Nisce) "sigurado na 'yan,
h'wag mo nang papirmahin." Badelles won as sergeant-at-arms, not in Nisce's ticket, but in that
of Drilon.

Badelles admitted that Nisce sent him three airplane tickets, but he Badelles said that he did not
use them, because if he did, he would be committed to Nisce, and he Badelles did not want to be
committed (t.s.n., July 4,1989, pp. 77-79, 95-96).

Nisce also sent a plane ticket to Atty. Atilano, who was his candidate, and another ticket to Mrs.
Linda Lim of Zamboanga. Records of the Philippine Airlines showed that Atty. Nisce paid for the
plane tickets of Vicente Real, Jr. (Exh. D-1-Calica), Romeo Fortes (Exh. D-1-Calica), Cesar Batica
(Exh. D-2-Calica), Jose Buban of Leyte (Exh. D-2-Calica), Delsanto Resuello (Exh. D-3- Calica), and
Ceferino Cabanas (Exh. D-3-Calica).

In spite of his efforts and expense, only one of Nisce's candidates won: Renato Ronquillo of
Manila 4, as Secretary of the House of Delegates (t.s.n. July 3, p. 161).

(5) Giving free hotel accommodations, food, drinks, entertainment to delegates.

(a) ATTY. NEREO PACULDO

Atty. Paculdo alleged that he booked 24 regular rooms and three suites at the Holiday Inn, which
served as his headquarters. The 24 rooms were to be occupied by his staff (mostly ladies) and
the IBP delegates. The three suites were to be occupied by himself, the officers of the Capitol Bar
Association, and Atty. Mario Jalandoni. He paid P150,000 for the hotel bills of his delegates at the
Holiday Inn, where a room cost P990 per day with breakfast.

Those listed as guests of Atty. Paculdo at the Holiday Inn were: Emesto C. Perez, Tolomeo
Ligutan Judge Alfonso Combong, Ricardo Caliwag, Antonio Bisnar, Benedicto Balajadia, Jesus
Castro, Restituto Villanueva, Serapio Cribe Juanita Subia, Teodorico J. Almine, Rudy Gumban,
Roem Arbolado, Ricardo Teruel, Shirley Moises, Ramon Roco, Alberto Trinidad, Teodoro Quicoy
Manito Lucero, Fred Cledera Vicente Tordilla, Julian Ocampo, Francisco Felizmenio Marvel
Clavecilla, Amador Capiral, Eufronio Maristela, Porfirio Siyangco, William Llanes, Jr., Marciano
Neri, Guerrero Adaza, Diosdado Peralta, Luis C. Formilleza, Jr., Democrito Perez, Bruno Flores,
Dennis Rendon, Judge Ceferino Chan, Mario Jalandoni, Kenneth Siruelo Bella Tiro, Antonio Santos,
Tiburcio Edano James Tan, Cesilo A. Adaza, Francisco Roxas, Angelita Gacutan, Jesse Pimentel,
Judge Jaime Hamoy, Jesus Anonat, Carlos Egay, Judge Carlito Eisma, Judge Jesus Carbon, Joven
Zach, and Benjamin Padon.

Noel de Guzman, Holiday Inn's credit manager, testified that Atty. Paculdo booked 52 (not 24)
rooms, including the presidential suite, which was used as the Secretariat. The group bookings
were made by Atty. Gloria Paculdo, the wife of Nereo Paculdo (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 63-68).
The total sum of P227,114.89 was paid to Holiday Inn for the use of the rooms.

(b) ATTY. VIOLETA C. DRILON

The delegates and supporters of Atty. Drilon were billeted at the Philippine Plaza Hotel where her
campaign manager, Atty. Renato Callanta, booked 40 rooms, 5 of which were suites. According
to Ms. Villanueva, Philippine Plaza banquet and conventions manager, the contract that Atty.
Callanta signed with the Philippine Plaza was made in the name of the "IBP c/o Atty. Callanta."

Mrs. Lourdes Juco, a sales manager of the Philippine Plaza, recalled that it was Mr. Mariano
Benedicto who first came to book rooms for the IBP delegates. She suggested that he obtain a
group (or discounted) rate. He gave her the name of Atty. Callanta who would make the
arrangements with her. Mr. Benedicto turned out to be the Assistant Secretary of the
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

The total sum of P316,411.53 was paid by Atty. Callanta for the rooms, food, and beverages
consumed by the Drilon group, with an unpaid balance of P302,197.30. Per Attorney Daniel
Martinez's last telephone conversation with Ms. Villanueva, Atty. Callanta still has an outstanding
account of P232,782.65 at Philippine Plaza.

Atty. Callanta admitted that he signed the contract for 40 rooms at the Philippine Plaza. He made
a downpayment of P123,000. His "working sheet' showed that the following persons contributed
for that down payment:

(a) Nilo Pena (Quasha Law Office) P 25,000

(b) Antonio Carpio 20,000

(c) Toto Ferrer (Carpio Law Office) 10,000

(d) Jay Castro 10,000

(e) Danny Deen 20,000

(f) Angangco Tan (Angara Law Office) 10,000

(g) Alfonso Reyno 20,000

(h) Cosme Rossel 15,300

(t.s.n. July 4, 1 989, pp. 3-4)

Atty. Callanta explained that the above listed persons have been contributing money every time
the IBP embarks on a project. This time, they contributed so that their partners or associates
could attend the legal aid seminar and the IBP convention too.

Atty. Drilon alleged that she did not know that Atty. Callanta had billeted her delegates at the
Philippine Plaza. She allegedly did not also know in whose name the room she occupied was
registered. But she did ask for a room where she could rest during the convention. She admitted,
however, that she paid for her hotel room and meals to Atty. Callanta, through Atty. Loanzon
(t.s.n. July 3,1989).

The following were listed as having occupied the rooms reserved by Atty. Callanta at the
Philippine Plaza: Violeta Drilon, Victoria A. Verciles, Victoria C. Loanzon, Leopoldo A. Consulto
Ador Lao, Victoria Borra, Aimee Wong, Callanta, Pena, Tiu, Gallardo, Acong Atienza, D. Bernardo,
Amores, Silao Caingat, Manuel Yuson, Simeon Datumanong, Manuel Pecson, Sixto Marella,
Joselito Barrera, Radon Macalalag, Oscar Badelles, Antonio Acyatan, Ildefonso C. Puerto, Nestor
Atienza, Gil Batula Array Corot, Dimakuta Corot Romeo Fortes Irving Petilla, Teodoro Palma, Gil
Palma, Danilo Deen, Delsanto, Resuello, Araneta, Vicente Real, Sylvio Casuncad Espina,
Guerrero, Julius Neri, Linda Lim, Ben Lim, C. Batica, Luis Formilleza, Felix Macalag Mariano
Benedicto, Atilano, Araneta, Renato Callanta.

Atty. Nilo Pena admitted that the Quasha Law Office of which he is a senior partner, gave
P25,000 to Callanta for rooms at the Philippine Plaza so that some members of his law firm could
campaign for the Drilon group (t.s.n. July 5,1989, pp. 7678) during the legal aid seminar and the
IBP convention. Most of the members of his law firm are fraternity brothers of Secretary Drilon
(meaning, members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity). He admitted being sympathetic to the
candidacy of Atty. Drilon and the members of her slate, two of whom Jose Grapilon and Simeon
Datumanong — are Sigma Rhoans. They consider Atty. Drilon as a "sigma rho sister," her
husband being a sigma rhoan.

Atty. Antonio Carpio, also a Sigma Rhoan, reserved a room for the members of his own firm who
attended the legal aid seminar and the convention. He made the reservation through Atty.
Callanta to whom he paid P20,000 (t.s.n. July 6,1989, pp. 30-34).

Atty. Carpio assisted Atty. Drilon in her campaign during the convention, by soliciting the votes
of delegates he knew, like Atty. Albacite his former teacher (but the latter was already
committed to Nisce), and Atty. Romy Fortes, a classmate of his in the U.P. College of Law (t. t.s.n.
July 6, 1989, pp. 22, 29, 39).

(c) ATTY. RAMON NISCE.

Atty. Nisce, through his brother-in-law, Ricardo Paras, entered into a contract with the Hyatt
Hotel for a total of 29 rooms plus one (1) seventh-floor room. He made a downpayment of
P20,000 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p. 58) on April 20, 1989, and P37,632.45 on May 10, or a total of
P57,632.45.

Ms. Cecile Flores, Ms. Milagros Ocampo, and Mr. Ramon Jacinto, the sales department manager,
credit manager, and reservation manager, respectively of the Hyatt, testified that Atty. Nisce's
bill amounted to P216,127.74 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 57-58; Exhibits E-Flores, F-Jacinto G-
Ocampo).

As earlier mentioned, Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms for those who committed
themselves to his candidacy.

The hotel guests of Atty. Nisce were: Gloria Agunos Dennis Habanel B. Batula, John E. Asuncion,
Reynaldo Cortes, Lourdes Santos, Elmer Datuin, Romualdo Din, Antonio Nalapo, Israel Damasco,
Candido Balbin, Serrano Balot, Ibarra, Joel Llosa, Eltanal, Ruperto, Asuncion, Q. Pilotin Reymundo
P. Guzman, Zoilo Aguinaldo, Clarin, R. Ronquillo, Dominador Carillo, Filomeno Balinas, Ernesto
Sabulan, Yusop Pangadapun, A. Viray, Icampo, Abelardo Fermin, C. Quiaoit, Augurio Pamintuan,
Daniel Macaraeg, Onofre Tejada.

(6) Campaigning by labor officials for Atty. Violeta Drilon

In violation of the prohibition against "campaigning for or against a candidate while holding an
elective, judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the Government' (Sec. 14[c], Art. I, IBP
By-Laws), Mariano E. Benedicto II, Assistant Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment,
testified that he took a leave of absence from his office to attend the IBP convention. He stayed
at the Philippine Plaza with the Drilon group admittedly to give "some moral assistance" to Atty.
Violeta Drilon. He did so because he is a member of the Sigma Rho Fraternity. When asked about
the significance of Sigma Rho, Secretary Benedicto explained: "More than the husband of Mrs.
Drilon being my boss, the significance there is that the husband is my brother in the Sigma Rho."

He cheered up Mrs., Drilon when her spirits were low. He talked to her immediate circle which
included Art Tiu, Tony Carpio, Nilo Pena, Amy Wong, Atty. Grapilon, Victor Lazatin, and Boy
Reyno. They assessed the progress of the campaign, and measured the strengths and
weaknesses of the other groups The group had sessions as early as the later part of May.

Room 114, the suite listed in the name of Assistant Secretary Benedicto toted up a bill of
P23,110 during the 2-day IBP convention/election. A total of 113 phone calls (amounting to
Pl,356) were recorded as emanating from his room.

Opposite Room 114, was Room 112, also a suite, listed in the names of Mrs. Drilon, Gladys
Tiongco (candidate for Governor, Eastern Mindanao) and Amy Wong (candidate for Governor,
Metro Manila). These two rooms served as the "action center' or "war room" where campaign
strategies were discussed before and during the convention. It was in these rooms where the
supporters of the Drilon group, like Attys. Carpio, Callanta, Benedicto, the Quasha and the
ACCRA lawyers met to plot their moves.

(7) Paying the dues or other indebtedness of any number (Sec. 14[e], IBP BY-Laws).

Atty. Teresita C. Sison, IBP Treasurer, testified that she has heard of candidates paying the IBP
dues of lawyers who promised to vote for or support them, but she has no way of ascertaining
whether it was a candidate who paid the delinquent dues of another, because the receipts are
issued in the name of the member for whom payment is made (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 24-28).

She has noticed, though, that there is an upsurge of payments in March, April, May during any
election year. This year, the collections increased by P100,000 over that of last year (a non-
election year from Pl,413,425 to Pl,524,875 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p. 25).

(8) Distribution of materials other than bio-data of not more than one page of legal size sheet of
paper (Sec. 14[a], IBP By-Laws).

On the convention floor on the day of the election, Atty. Paculdo caused to be distributed his bio-
data and copies of a leaflet entitled "My Quest," as wen as, the lists of his slate. Attys. Drilon and
Nisce similarly distributed their tickets and bio-data.
The campaign materials of Atty. Paculdo cost from P15,000 to P20,000. They were printed by his
own printing shop.

(9) Causing distribution of such statement to be done by persons other than those authorized by
the officer presiding at the election (Sec. 14[b], IBP By-Laws).

Atty. Paculdo employed uniformed girls to distribute his campaign materials on the convention
floor. Atty. Carpio noted that there were more campaign materials distributed at the convention
site this year than in previous years. The election was more heated and expensive (t.s.n. July
6,1989, p. 39).

Atty. Benjamin Bernardino, the incumbent President of the IBP Rizal Chapter, and a candidate for
chairman of the House of Delegates on Nisce's ticket, testified that campaign materials were
distributed during the convention by girls and by lawyers. He saw members of the ACCRA law
firm campaigning for Atty. Drilon (t.s.n. July 3,1989, pp. 142-145).

(10) Inducing or influencing a member to withhold his vote, or to vote for or against a candidate
(Sec. 14[e], IBP BY-Laws).

Atty. Bernardino disclosed that his cousin, Atty. Romeo Capulong, urged him to withdraw his
candidacy for chairman of the House of Delegates and to run as vice-chairman in Violy Drilon's
slate, but he declined (t.s.n. July 3,1989, pp. 137, 149).

Atty. Gloria Agunos personnel director of the Hyatt Terraces Hotel in Baguio and president of the
Baguio-Benguet IBP Chapter, recalled that in the third week of May 1989, after the Tripartite
meet of the Department of Labor & Employment at the Green Valley Country Club in Baguio City,
she met Atty. Drilon, together with two labor officers of Region 1, Attys. Filomeno Balbin and
Atty. Mansala Atty. Drilon solicited her (Atty. Agunos') vote and invited her to stay at the
Philippine Plaza where a room would be available for her. Atty. Paculdo also tried to enlist her
support during the chapter presidents' meeting to choose their nominee for governor for the
Northern Luzon region (t.s.n. July 13,1989, pp. 43-54).

Atty. Nisce testified that a Manila Chapter 4 delegate, Marcial Magsino, who had earlier
committed his vote to Nisce changed his mind when he was offered a judgeship (This statement,
however, is admittedly hearsay). When Nisce confronted Magsino about the alleged offer, the
latter denied that there was such an offer. Nisce's informant was Antonio G. Nalapo an IBP
candidate who also withdrew.

Another Nisce candidate, Cesar Viola, withdrew from the race and refused to be nominated (t.s.n.
June 29, 1989, p. 104). Vicente P. Tordilla who was Nisce's candidate for Governor became
Paculdo's candidate instead (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, p. 104).

Nisce recalled that during the Bench and Bar Dialogue in Cotabato City, Court Administrator Tiro
went around saying, "I am not campaigning, but my wife is a candidate." Nisce said that the
presidents of several IBP chapters informed him that labor officials were campaigning for Mrs.
Drilon (t.s.n. June 29,1989, pp. 109-110). He mentioned Ciony de la Cerna, who allegedly
campaigned in La Union (t.s.n. June 29,1989,p.111)
Atty. Joel A. Llosa, Nisce's supporter and candidate for governor of the Western Visayas,
expressed his disappointment over the IBP elections because some delegates flip-flopped from
one camp to another. He testified that when he arrived at the Manila Domestic Airport he was
met by an assistant regional director of the DOLE who offered to bring him to the Philippine
Plaza, but he declined the offer. During the legal aid seminar, Atty. Drilon invited him to transfer
to the Philippine Plaza where a room had been reserved for him. He declined the invitation (t.s.n.
July 4,1989, pp. 102-106).

Atty. Llosa said that while he was still in Dumaguete City, he already knew that the three
candidates had their headquarters in separate hotels: Paculdo, at the Holiday Inn; Drilon, at the
Philippine Plaza; and Nisce, at the Hyatt. He knew about this because a week before the
elections, representatives of Atty. Drilon went to Dumaguete City to campaign. He mentioned
Atty. Rodil Montebon of the ACCRA Law Office, accompanied by Atty. Julve the Assistant Regional
Director of the Department of Labor in Dumaguete City. These two, he said, offered to give him
two PAL tickets and accommodations at the Philippine Plaza (t.s.n. July 4,1989, pp. 101-104). But
he declined the offer because he was already committed to Atty. Nisce.

Atty. Llosa also revealed that before he left for Manila on May 31, 1989, a businessman, Henry
Dy, approached him to convince him to vote for Atty. Paculdo. But Llosa told Dy that he was
already committed to Nisce.

He did not receive any plane tickets from Atty. Nisce because he and his two companions (Atty.
Eltanal and Atty. Ruperto) had earlier bought their own tickets for Manila (t.s.n. July 4, 1989, p.
101).

SUMMARY OF CAMPAIGN EXPENSES INCURRED

BY THE CANDIDATES

Atty. Paculdo admitted having spent some P250,000 during his three weeks of campaigning. Of
this amount, the Capitol Bar Association (of which he was the chapter president) contributed
about P150,000. The Capitol Bar Association is a voluntary bar association composed of Quezon
City lawyers.

He spent about P100,000 to defray the expenses of his trips to the provinces (Bicol provinces,
Pampanga, Abra, Mountain Province and Bulacan) (t.s.n. June 29,1989, pp. 9-14).

Atty. Nisce's hotel bills at the Hyatt amounted to P216,127.74. This does not include the
expenses for his campaign which began several months before the June 3rd election, and his
purchases of airplane tickets for some delegates.

The records of the Philippine Plaza Hotel, headquarters of Atty. Drilon's camp, showed that her
campaign rang up over P600,000 in hotel bills. Atty. Callanta paid P316,411.53 for the rooms,
food, and beverage consumed by Atty. Drilon's supporters, but still left an unpaid bill of
P302,197.30 at convention's end.

FINDINGS.
From all the foregoing, it is evident that the manner in which the principal candidates for the
national positions in the Integrated Bar conducted their campaign preparatory to the elections on
June 3, 1989, violated Section 14 of the IBP By-Laws and made a travesty of the idea of a "strictly
non-political" Integrated Bar enshrined in Section 4 of the By-Laws.

The setting up of campaign headquarters by the three principal candidates (Drilon, Nisce and
Paculdo) in five-star hotels: The Philippine Plaza, the Holiday Inn and The Hyatt the better for
them to corral and entertain the delegates billeted therein; the island hopping to solicit the votes
of the chapter presidents who comprise the 120-member House of Delegates that elects the
national officers and regional governors; the formation of tickets, slates, or line-ups of candidates
for the other elective positions aligned with, or supporting, either Drilon, Paculdo or Nisce; the
procurement of written commitments and the distribution of nomination forms to be filled up by
the delegates; the reservation of rooms for delegates in three big hotels, at the expense of the
presidential candidates; the use of a PNB plane by Drilon and some members of her ticket to
enable them to "assess their chances" among the chapter presidents in the Bicol provinces; the
printing and distribution of tickets and bio-data of the candidates which in the case of Paculdo
admittedly cost him some P15,000 to P20,000; the employment of uniformed girls (by Paculdo)
and lawyers (by Drilon) to distribute their campaign materials on the convention floor on the day
of the election; the giving of assistance by the Undersecretary of Labor to Mrs. Drilon and her
group; the use of labor arbiters to meet delegates at the airport and escort them to the
Philippine Plaza Hotel; the giving of pre-paid plane tickets and hotel accommodations to
delegates (and some families who accompanied them) in exchange for their support; the pirating
of some candidates by inducing them to "hop" or "flipflop" from one ticket to another for some
rumored consideration; all these practices made a political circus of the proceedings and tainted
the whole election process.

The candidates and many of the participants in that election not only violated the By-Laws of the
IBP but also the ethics of the legal profession which imposes on all lawyers, as a corollary of their
obligation to obey and uphold the constitution and the laws, the duty to "promote respect for law
and legal processes" and to abstain from 'activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening
confidence in the legal system" (Rule 1.02, Canon 1, Code of Professional Responsibility).
Respect for law is gravely eroded when lawyers themselves, who are supposed to be millions of
the law, engage in unlawful practices and cavalierly brush aside the very rules that the IBP
formulated for their observance.

The unseemly ardor with which the candidates pursued the presidency of the association
detracted from the dignity of the legal profession. The spectacle of lawyers bribing or being
bribed to vote one way or another, certainly did not uphold the honor of the profession nor
elevate it in the public's esteem.

The Court notes with grave concern what appear to be the evasions, denials and outright
prevarications that tainted the statements of the witnesses, including tome of the candidates,
during the initial hearing conducted by it before its fact-finding committee was created. The
subsequent investigation conducted by this Committee has revealed that those parties had been
less than candid with the Court and seem to have conspired among themselves to deceive it or
at least withhold vital information from it to conceal the irregularities committed during the
campaign.

CONCLUSIONS.
It has been mentioned with no little insistence that the provision in the 1987 Constitution (See. 8,
Art. VIII) providing for a Judicial and Bar Council composed of seven (7) members among whom is
"a representative of the Integrated Bar," tasked to participate in the selection of nominees for
appointment to vacant positions in the judiciary, may be the reason why the position of IBP
president has attracted so much interest among the lawyers. The much coveted "power"
erroneously perceived to be inherent in that office might have caused the corruption of the IBP
elections. To impress upon the participants in that electoral exercise the seriousness of the
misconduct which attended it and the stern disapproval with which it is viewed by this Court, and
to restore the non-political character of the IBP and reduce, if not entirely eliminate, expensive
electioneering for the top positions in the organization which, as the recently concluded elections
revealed, spawned unethical practices which seriously diminished the stature of the IBP as an
association of the practitioners of a noble and honored profession, the Court hereby ORDERS:

1. The IBP elections held on June3,1989 should be as they are hereby annulled.

2. The provisions of the IBP By-Laws for the direct election by the House of Delegates (approved
by this Court in its resolution of July 9, 1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) of the following national
officers:

(a) the officers of the House of Delegates;

(b) the IBP president; and

(c) the executive vice-president,

be repealed, this Court being empowered to amend, modify or repeal the By-Laws of the IBP
under Section 77, Art. XI of said By-Laws.

3. The former system of having the IBP President and Executive Vice-President elected by the
Board of Governors (composed of the governors of the nine [91 IBP regions) from among
themselves (as provided in Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be restored. The right
of automatic succession by the Executive Vice-President to the presidency upon the expiration of
their two-year term (which was abolished by this Court's resolution dated July 9,1985 in Bar
Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby restored.

4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-President shall automatically
succeed to the office of president. The incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive
Vice-President from among themselves. The position of Executive Vice-President shall be rotated
among the nine (9) IBP regions. One who has served as president may not run for election as
Executive Vice-President in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the presidency
among the nine (9) regions shall have been completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin
anew.

5. Section 47 of Article VII is hereby amended to read as follows:

Section 47. National Officers. — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a
President and Executive Vice-President to be chosen by the Board of Governors
from among nine (9) regional governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation
basis. The governors shall be ex oficio Vice-President for their respective regions.
There shall also be a Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Governors to be
appointed by the President with the consent of the Board.

6. Section 33(b), Art. V, IBP By-Laws, is hereby amended as follows:

(b) The President and Executive Vice President of the IBP shall be the Chairman and
Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the House of Delegates. The Secretary, Treasurer,
and Sergeant-at-Arms shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the
House of Delegates.'

7. Section 33(g) of Article V providing for the positions of Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary-
Treasurer and Sergeant-at- Arms of the House of Delegates is hereby repealed

8. Section 37, Article VI is hereby amended to read as follows:

Section 37. Composition of the Board. — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall
be governed by a Board of Governors consisting of nine (9) Governors from the nine
(9) regions as delineated in Section 3 of the Integration Rule, on the representation
basis of one (1) Governor for each region to be elected by the members of the
House of Delegates from that region only. The position of Governor should be
rotated among the different Chapters in the region.

9. Section 39, Article V is hereby amended as follows:

Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors at least one (1) month before
the national convention the delegates from each region shall elect the governor for
their region, the choice of which shall as much as possible be rotated among the
chapters in the region.

10. Section33(a), Article V hereby is amended by addingthe following provision as part of the
first paragraph:

No convention of the House of Delegates nor of the general membership shall be


held prior to any election in an election year.

11. Section 39, (a), (b), (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7) of Article VI should be as they are hereby
deleted.

All other provisions of the By-Laws including its amendment by the Resolution en banc of this
Court of July 9, 1985 (Bar Matter No. 287) that are inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed or
modified.

12. Special elections for the Board of Governors shall be held in the nine (9) IBP regions within
three (3) months, after the promulgation of the Court's resolution in this case. Within thirty (30)
days thereafter, the Board of Governors shall meet at the IBP Central Office in Manila to elect
from among themselves the IBP national president and executive vice-president. In these special
elections, the candidates in the election of the national officers held on June 3,1989, particularly
identified in Sub-Head 3 of this Resolution entitled "Formation of Tickets and Single Slates," as
well as those identified in this Resolution as connected with any of the irregularities attendant
upon that election, are ineligible and may not present themselves as candidate for any position.

13. Pending such special elections, a caretaker board shall be appointed by the Court to
administer the affairs of the IBP. The Court makes clear that the dispositions here made are
without prejudice to its adoption in due time of such further and other measures as are
warranted in the premises.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla. Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes,
Griño-Aquino and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Fernan, C.J. and Medialdea, J., took no part.

Gutierrez, Jr., J., is on leave

[Synopsis/Syllabi]

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 112869. January 29, 1996]

KELLY R. WICKER and ATTY. ORLANDO A. RAYOS, petitioners, vs. HON. PAUL T. ARCANGEL, as
Presiding Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 134, respondent.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari, assailing the orders dated December 3, 1993 and December 17,
1993 of respondent Judge Paul T. Arcangel of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 134 of Makati,
finding petitioners guilty of direct contempt and sentencing each of them to suffer imprisonment
for five (5) days and to pay a fine of P100.00.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

Kelly Wicker, with his wife Wynee Dieppe and the Tectonics Asia Architects and Engineering Co.,
brought suit in the Regional Trial Court of Makati against the LFS Enterprises, Inc. and others, for
the annulment of certain deeds by which a house and lot at Forbes Park, which the plaintiffs
claimed they had purchased, was allegedly fraudulently titled in the name of the defendant LFS
Enterprises and later sold by the latter to codefendant Jose Poe. The case, docketed as Civil
Case No. 14048, was assigned to Branch 134 formerly presided over by Judge Ignacio Capulong
who later was replaced by respondent Judge Paul T. Arcangel.

It appears that on November 18, 1993, Wicker’s counsel, Atty. Orlando A. Rayos, filed a motion
seeking the inhibition of respondent judge from the consideration of the case. The motion
alleged in pertinent part:
1. That before the Acting Presiding Judge took over, defendant LFS Enterprises, Inc. was able to
maneuver the three (3) successive postponements for the presentation for cross-examination of
Mrs. Remedios Porcuna on her 10 August 1992 Affidavit, but eventually, she was not presented;

2. Meantime, Judge [Ignacio] Capulong who had full grasp of this case was eased out of his
station. In one hearing, the Acting Presiding Judge had not yet reported to his station and in that
set hearing, counsel for defendant LFS Enterprises, Inc. who must have known that His Honor
was not reporting did not likewise appear while other counsels were present;

3. Plaintiffs have information that the Acting Presiding Judge was personally recruited from the
south by Atty. Benjamin Santos and/or his wife, Atty. Ofelia Calcetas-Santos, one time member of
the Judicial and Bar Council, against whom plaintiff Kelly R. Wicker filed Administrative Case No.
3796, and although said case was dismissed, nevertheless, plaintiffs feel that it was the reason
for Atty. Ofelia Calcetas-Santos’ relief;

4. Plaintiffs have reason to doubt the partiality and integrity of His Honor and to give a fighting
chance for plaintiffs to prove their case, since this will be the last case to recover the partnership
property, plaintiffs feel that His Honor inhibit himself and set this case for re-raffle;

5. This move finds support in the Rules of Court and jurisprudence that in the first instance that a
litigant doubts the partiality and integrity of the Presiding Judge, he should immediately move for
his inhibition.

The motion was verified by Kelly Wicker.

Considering the allegations to be “malicious, derogatory and contemptuous,” respondent judge


ordered both counsel and client to appear before him on November 26, 1993 and to show cause
why they should not be cited for contempt of court.”

In a pleading entitled “Opposition to and/or Comment to Motion to Cite for Direct Contempt
Directed Against Plaintiff Kelly R. Wicker and his Counsel,” Atty. Rayos claimed that the
allegations in the motion did not necessarily express his views because he merely signed the
motion “in a representative capacity, in other words, just lawyering,” for Kelly Wicker, who said
in a note to him that a “young man possibly employed by the Court” had advised him to have
the case reraffled, when the opposing counsel Atty. Benjamin Santos and the new judge both
failed to come for a hearing, because their absence was an indication that Atty. Santos knew who
“the judge may be and when he would appear.” Wicker’s sense of disquiet increased when at the
next two hearings, the new judge as well as Atty. Santos and the latter’s witness, Mrs. Remedios
Porcuna, were all absent, while the other counsels were present.

Finding petitioners’ explanation unsatisfactory, respondent judge, in an order dated December 3,


1993, held them guilty of direct contempt and sentenced each to suffer imprisonment for five (5)
days and to pay a fine of P100.00.

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which respondent judge denied for lack of merit in
his order of December 17, 1993. In the same order respondent judge directed petitioners to
appear before him on January 7, 1994 at 8:30 a.m. for the execution of their sentence.
In their petition before this Court, Kelly Wicker and Atty. Orlando A. Rayos contend that
respondent judge committed a grave abuse of his discretion in citing them for contempt. They
argue that “when a person, impelled by justifiable apprehension and acting in a respectful
manner, asks a judge to inhibit himself from hearing his case, he does not thereby become guilty
of contempt.”

In his comment, respondent judge alleges that he took over as Acting Presiding Judge of the
Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 134 by virtue of Administrative Order No. 154-93 dated
September 2, 1993 of this Court and not because, as petitioners alleged, he was “personally
recruited from the South” by Atty. Santos and/or his wife, Atty. Ofelia Calcetas-Santos; that he
assumed his new office on October 11, 1993 and started holding sessions on October 18, 1993;
that when all male personnel of his court were presented to petitioner Kelly Wicker he failed to
pick out the young man who was the alleged source of the remarks prompting the filing of the
motion for inhibition; that he was not vindictive and that he in fact refrained from implementing
the execution of his order dated December 3, 1993 to enable petitioners to “avail themselves of
all possible remedies”; that after holding petitioners in contempt, he issued an order dated
December 8, 1993 inhibiting himself from trying Civil Case No. 14048; that Atty. Rayos’ claim
that he was just “lawyering” and acting as “the vehicle or mouthpiece of his client” is untenable
because his (Atty. Rayos’) duties to the court are more important than those which he owes to
his client; and that by tendering their “profuse apologies” in their motion for reconsideration of
the December 3, 1993 order, petitioners acknowledged the falsity of their accusations against
him; and that the petitioners have taken inconsistent positions as to who should try Civil Case
No. 14048 because in their Motion for Inhibition dated November 18, 1993 they asked that the
case be reraffled to another sala of the RTC of Makati, while in their petition dated November 29,
1993, which they filed with the Office of Court Administrator, petitioners asked that Judge
Capulong be allowed to continue hearing the case on the ground that he had a “full grasp of the
case.”

In reply to the last allegation of respondent judge, petitioners claim that although they wanted a
reraffle of the case, it was upon the suggestion of respondent judge himself that they filed the
petition with the Court Administrator for the retention of Judge Capulong in the case.

What is involved in this case is an instance of direct contempt, since it involves a pleading
allegedly containing derogatory, offensive or malicious statements submitted to the court or
judge in which the proceedings are pending, as distinguished from a pleading filed in another
case. The former has been held to be equivalent to “misbehavior committed in the presence of
or so near a court or judge as to interrupt the proceedings before the same” within the meaning
of Rule 71, § 1 of the Rules of Court and, therefore, direct contempt.

It is important to point out this distinction because in case of indirect or constructive contempt,
the contemnor may be punished only “[a]fter charge in writing has been filed, and an
opportunity given to the accused to be heard by himself or counsel,” whereas in case of direct
contempt, the respondent may be summarily adjudged in contempt. Moreover, the judgment in
cases of indirect contempt is appealable, whereas in cases of direct contempt only judgments of
contempt by MTCs, MCTCs and MeTCs are appealable.

Consequently, it was unnecessary in this case for respondent judge to hold a hearing. Hence
even if petitioners are right about the nature of the case against them by contending that it
involves indirect contempt, they have no ground for complaint since they were afforded a
hearing before they were held guilty of contempt. What is important to determine now is
whether respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion in holding petitioners liable for
direct contempt.

We begin with the words of Justice Malcolm that the power to punish for contempt is to be
exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle. Only occasionally should it be
invoked to preserve that respect without which the administration of justice will fail. The
contempt power ought not to be utilized for the purpose of merely satisfying an inclination to
strike back at a party for showing less than full respect for the dignity of the court.

Consistent with the foregoing principles and based on the abovementioned facts, the Court
sustains Judge Arcangel’s finding that petitioners are guilty of contempt. A reading of the
allegations in petitioners’ motion for inhibition, particularly the following paragraphs thereof:

2. Meantime, Judge Capulong who had full grasp of this case was eased out of his station. In one
hearing, the Acting Presiding Judge had not yet reported to his station and in that set hearing,
counsel for defendant LFS Enterprises, Inc. who must have known that His Honor was not
reporting did not likewise appear while other counsels were present;

3. Plaintiffs have information that the Acting Presiding Judge was personally recruited from the
south by Atty. Benjamin Santos and/or his wife, Atty. Ofelia Calcetas-Santos, one time member of
the Judicial and Bar Council, against whom plaintiff Kelly R. Wicker filed Administrative Case No.
3796, and although said case was dismissed, nevertheless, plaintiffs feel that it was the reason
for Atty. Ofelia Calcetas-Santos’ relief;

leads to no other conclusion than that respondent judge was beholden to the opposing counsel in
the case, Atty. Benjamin Santos, to whom or to whose wife, the judge owed his transfer to the
RTC of Makati, which necessitated “easing out” the former judge to make room for such transfer.

These allegations are derogatory to the integrity and honor of respondent judge and constitute
an unwarranted criticism of the administration of justice in this country. They suggest that
lawyers, if they are well connected, can manipulate the assignment of judges to their
advantage. The truth is that the assignments of Judges Arcangel and Capulong were made by
this Court, by virtue of Administrative Order No. 154-93, precisely “in the interest of an efficient
administration of justice and pursuant to Sec. 5 (3), Art. VIII of the Constitution.” This is a matter
of record which could have easily been verified by Atty. Rayos. After all, as he claims, he
“deliberated” for two months whether or not to file the offending motion for inhibition as his
client allegedly asked him to do.

In extenuation of his own liability, Atty. Rayos claims he merely did what he had been bidden to
do by his client of whom he was merely a “mouthpiece.” He was just “lawyering” and “he
cannot be gagged,” even if the allegations in the motion for the inhibition which he prepared and
filed were false since it was his client who verified the same.

To be sure, what Wicker said in his note to Atty. Rayos was that he had been told by an
unidentified young man, whom he thought to be employed in the court, that it seemed the
opposing counsel, Atty. Santos, knew who the replacement judge was, because Atty. Santos did
not show up in court on the same days the new judge failed to come. It would, therefore, appear
that the other allegations in the motion that respondent judge had been “personally recruited”
by the opposing counsel to replace Judge Capulong who had been “eased out” were Atty. Rayos’
and not Wicker’s. Atty. Rayos is thus understating his part in the preparation of the motion for
inhibition.

Atty. Rayos, however, cannot evade responsibility for the allegations in question. As a lawyer, he
is not just an instrument of his client. His client came to him for professional assistance in the
representation of a cause, and while he owed him whole-souled devotion, there were bounds set
by his responsibility as a lawyer which he could not overstep. Even a hired gun cannot be
excused for what Atty. Rayos stated in the motion. Based on Canon 11 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, Atty. Rayos bears as much responsibility for the contemptuous
allegations in the motion for inhibition as his client.

Atty. Rayos’ duty to the courts is not secondary to that of his client. The Code of Professional
Responsibility enjoins him to “observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial
officers and [to] insist on similar conduct by others” and “not [to] attribute to a Judge motives
not supported by the record or have materiality to the case.”

After the respondent judge had favorably responded to petitioners’ “profuse apologies” and
indicated that he would let them off with a fine, without any jail sentence, petitioners served on
respondent judge a copy of their instant petition which prayed in part that “Respondent Judge
Paul T. Arcangel be REVERTED to his former station. He simply cannot do in the RTC of Makati
where more complex cases are heared (sic) unlike in Davao City.” If nothing else, this personal
attack on the judge only serves to confirm the “contumacious attitude, a flouting or arrogant
belligerence” first evident in petitioners’ motion for inhibition belying their protestations of good
faith.

Petitioners cite the following statement in Austria v. Masaquel:

Numerous cages there have been where judges, and even members of the Supreme Court, were
asked to inhibit themselves from trying, or from participating in the consideration of a case, but
scarcely were the movants punished for contempt, even if the grounds upon which they based
their motions for disqualification are not among those provided in the rules. It is only when there
was direct imputation of bias or prejudice, or a stubborn insistence to disqualify the judge, done
in a malicious, arrogant, belligerent and disrespectful manner, that movants were held in
contempt of court.

It is the second sentence rather than the first that applies to this case.

Be that as it may, the Court believes that consistent with the rule that the power to cite for
contempt must be exercised for preservative rather than vindictive principle we think that the
jail sentence on petitioners may be dispensed with while vindicating the dignity of the court. In
the case of petitioner Kelly Wicker there is greater reason for doing so considering that the
particularly offending allegations in the motion for inhibition do not appear to have come from
him but were additions made by Atty. Rayos. In addition, Wicker is advanced in years (80) and in
failing health (suffering from angina), a fact Judge Arcangel does not dispute. Wicker may have
indeed been the recipient of such a remark although he could not point a court employee who
was the source of the same. At least he had the grace to admit his mistake both as to the source
and truth of said information. It is noteworthy Judge Arcangel was also willing to waive the
imposition of the jail sentence on petitioners until he came upon petitioners’ description of him in
the instant petition as a judge who cannot make the grade in the RTC of Makati, where complex
cases are being filed. In response to this, he cited the fact that the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines chose him as one of the most outstanding City Judges and Regional Trial Court Judges
in 1979 and 1988 respectively and that he is a 1963 graduate of the U.P. College of Law.

In Ceniza v. Sebastian, which likewise involved a motion for inhibition which described the judge
“corrupt,” the Court, while finding counsel guilty of direct contempt, removed the jail sentence of
10 days imposed by the trial court for the reason that

Here, while the words were contumacious, it is hard to resist the conclusion, considering the
background of this occurrence that respondent Judge in imposing the ten-day sentence was not
duly mindful of the exacting standard [of] preservation of the dignity of his office not indulging
his sense of grievance sets the limits of the authority he is entitled to exercise. It is the view of
the Court that under the circumstances the fine imposed should be increased to P500.00.

The same justification also holds true in this case.

WHEREFORE, the order of December 3, 1993 is MODIFIED by DELETING the sentence of


imprisonment for five (5) days and INCREASING the fine from P 100.00 to P200.00 for each of the
petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Regalado (Chairman), Romero, and Puno, JJ., concur.

Petition, Annex B, Rollo, pp. 40-41.

The hearing on November 26, 1993 was later postponed to December 3, 1993 at the instance of
Atty. Rayos.

See Wicker’s Statement, Rollo, pp. 46-47.

Although dated December 6, 1993, the petition was actually filed on December 21, 1993, after
respondent judge had issued his order of the December 17, 1993 denying petitioners’ motion for
reconsideration.

Rollo, pp. 82-92.

Ang v. Castro, 136 SCRA 453 (1985); Ante v. Pascua, 162 SCRA 780(1988).

See Rule 71, § 1,2 and 10.

Villavicencio v. Lukban, 39 Phil. 778 (1959).

Royeca v. Animas, 71 SCRA 1(1976).

Rollo, p. 101.

See Code of Professional Responsibility, Canon 19.


Canon 11.

Canon 11, Rule 11.04.

20 SCRA 1247 (1967).

130 SCRA 295 (1985).

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. Nos. 79690-707 April 27, 1988

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN AND HONORABLE RAUL M. GONZALEZ, CLAIMING
TO BE AND ACTING AS TANODBAYAN-OMBUDSMAN UNDER THE 1987 CONSTITUTION,
respondents.

G.R. No. L-80578 April 27, 1988

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,


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

Francisco Carreon and Nestor C. Lumba for petitioner.

The Solicitor General for respondent.

PER CURIAM:

In G.R. Nos. 79690-707 "Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition, and mandamus under Rule 65,"
petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar, governor of the province of Antique, sought to restrain the
Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan Raul Gonzalez from proceeding with the prosecution and
hearing of Criminal Cases Nos. 12159 to 12161 and 12163-12177 on the ground thatsaid cases
were filed by said Tanodbayan without legal and constitutional authority, since under the 1987
Constitution which took effect on February 2, 1987, it is only the Ombudsman (not the present or
incumbent Tanodbayan) who has the authority to file cases with the Sandiganbayan. The
complete prayer of the petition reads:

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that pending the final disposition of this


petition or until further orders of the Honorable Court, a writ of preliminary
injunction issue upon the filing of a bond in such amount as may be fixed by the
Honorable Court, restraining the Honorable Sandiganbayan from hearing and trying
Criminal Cases Nos. 12159 to 12161, and 12163 to 12177 insofar as petitioner
Enrique A. Zaldivar is concerned and from hearing and resolving the special
prosecutor's motion to suspend (Annex J) and thereafter, final judgment be
rendered: —

(1) ordering that the amended informations in the above-mentioned crimininal


cases be or issuing a writ of mandamus commanding and ordering the respondent
Sandiganbayan to do so and, in consequence, prohibiting and restraining the
respondent Sandigan-bayan from proceeding to hear and try the abovementioned
criminal cases or making the temporary preliminary injunction permanent;

(2) declaring the acts of respondent Gonzalez as "Tanodbayan-Ombudsman" after 2


February 1987 relating to these cases as anullity and without legal effect,
particularly, the promulgation of Tanodbayan resolution of 5 February 1987, the
filing of the original informations on 3 March 1987 and the amended ones on 4 June
1987, and the filing of the Motion for Suspension Pendente Lite.

PETITIONER prays for such other and further relief as may be deemed proper in the
premises, with costs against the respondents.

Manila, Philippines, September 9, 1987.

(pp. 45-47, Rollo)

In G.R. No. 80578, petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar, on substantially the same ground as the first
petition, prays that Tanodbayan Gonzalez be restrained from conducting preliminary
investigations and similar cases with the Sandiganbayan. The prayer reads:

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that pending the final disposition of this


petition or until further orders of this Honorable court, a writ of preliminary
injunction issue restraining the respondent from further acting in TBP CASE NO. 87-
01304 and, particularly, from filing the criminal Information consequent thereof-,
and from conducting preliminary investigations in, and filing criminal informations
for, such other complaints/ cases now pending or which may hereafter be filed
against petitioner with the Office of the respondent.

It is likewise prayed that the present petition be consolidated with G.R.L-Nos.


79690-79707.

After proper proceedings, it is prayed that final judgment be rendered annulling the
acts of respondent Gonzalez as "Tanodbayan- Ombudsman" after 2 February 1987
relating to the investigation of complaints against petitioner, particularly:

(1) Annulling, for absolute want of jurisdiction, the preliminary investigation


conducted, and the Resolution rendered, by respondent in TBP CASE NO. 87-01304;

(2) Prohibiting and restraining the respondent from filing any criminal Information
as a consequence of the void preliminary investigation he conducted in TBP CASE
NO. 87-01304, or annulling the criminal Information in the said case which may, in
the meantime, have already been filed;

(3) Prohibiting and restraining the respondent from conducting preliminary


investigations in, and filing criminal informations for, such other complaints/cases
now pending or which may hereafter be filed against petitioner with the Office of
the respondent.

PETITIONER further prays for such other and further reliefs as may be deemed
proper in the proper with costs against the respondent.

Manila, Philippines, November 18,1987

(pp. 24-25, Rollo)

We issued the restraining orders prayed for.

After a study of the petitions, We have decided to give due course to the same; to consider the
comments of the Solicitor-General and of Tanodbayan Gonzalez as their Answers thereto; and to
forthwith decide the petitions.

We find the petitions impressed with merit.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the Ombudsman (as distinguished from theincumbent Tanodbayan)
is charged with the duty to:

Investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any
public official, employee, office or agency, when such act or commission appears to
be illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient (Sec. 13, par. 1)

The Constitution likewise provides that:

The existing Tanodbayan shall hereafter be known as the office of the Special
Prosecutor. It shall continue to function and exercise its powers as now or hereafter
may be provided by law, contempt except those conferred on the office of the
Ombudsman created under this Constitution. (Art. XI, Section 7) (Emphasis ours).

Now then, inasmuch as the aforementioned duty is given to the Ombudsman, the incumbent
Tanodbayan (caged Special Prosecutor under the 1987 constitution and who is supposed to
retain powers and duties NOT GIVEN to the Ombudsman) is clearly without authority to conduct
preliminary investigations and to direct the filing of criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan,
except upon orders of the Ombudsman. This right to do so was lost effective February 2, 1987.
From that time, he has been divested of such authority.

Under the present Constitution, the Special Prosecutor (Raul Gonzalez) is a mere subordinate of
the Tanodbayan Ombudsman) and can investigate and prosecute cases only upon the latter's
authority or orders. The Special Prosecutor cannot initiate the prosecution of cases but can only
conduct the same if instructed to do so by the Ombudsman. Even his original power to issue
subpoena, which he still claims under Section 10(d) of PD 1630, is now deemed transferred to
the Ombudsman, who may, however, retain it in the Spedal Prosecutor in connection with the
cases he is ordered to investigate.

It is not correct either to suppose that the Special Prosecutor remains the Ombudsman as long as
he has not been replaced, for the fact is that he has never been the Ombudsman. The Office of
the Ombudsman is a new creation under Article XI of the Constitution different from the Office of
the Tanodbayan created under PD 1607 although concededly some of the powers of the two
offices are Identical or similar. The Special Prosecutor cannot plead that he has a right to hold
over the position of Ombudsman as he has never held it in the first place.

WHEREFORE, We hereby:

(1) GRANT the consolidated petitions filed by petitioner Zaldivar and hereby
NULLIFY the criminal informations filed against him in the Sandiganbayan; and

(2) ORDER respondent Raul Gonzalez to cease and desist from conducting
investigations and filing criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan or otherwise
exercising the powers and function of the Ombudsman.

SO ORDERED.

Yap, C.J., Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco,
Padilla, Bidin and Cortes, and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

SARMIENTO, J., concurring:

I maintain, however, consistent with my dissent in De Leon vs. Esguerra, G.R. No. 78059, that the
1987 Constitution took effect on February 11, 1987.

Separate Opinions

SARMIENTO, J., concurring:

I maintain, however, consistent with my dissent in De Leon vs. Esguerra, G.R. No. 78059, that the
1987 Constitution took effect on February 11, 1987.

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 148560. November 19, 2001]


JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (Third Division) and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.

DECISION

BELLOSILLO, J.:

JOHN STUART MILL, in his essay On Liberty, unleashes the full fury of his pen in defense of the
rights of the individual from the vast powers of the State and the inroads of societal pressure.
But even as he draws a sacrosanct line demarcating the limits on individuality beyond which the
State cannot tread - asserting that "individual spontaneity" must be allowed to flourish with very
little regard to social interference - he veritably acknowledges that the exercise of rights and
liberties is imbued with a civic obligation, which society is justified in enforcing at all cost,
against those who would endeavor to withhold fulfillment. Thus he says -

The sole end for which mankind is warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the
liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. The only purpose for which power can
be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent
harm to others.

Parallel to individual liberty is the natural and illimitable right of the State to self-preservation.
With the end of maintaining the integrity and cohesiveness of the body politic, it behooves the
State to formulate a system of laws that would compel obeisance to its collective wisdom and
inflict punishment for non-observance.

The movement from Mill's individual liberalism to unsystematic collectivism wrought changes in
the social order, carrying with it a new formulation of fundamental rights and duties more
attuned to the imperatives of contemporary socio-political ideologies. In the process, the web of
rights and State impositions became tangled and obscured, enmeshed in threads of multiple
shades and colors, the skein irregular and broken. Antagonism, often outright collision, between
the law as the expression of the will of the State, and the zealous attempts by its members to
preserve their individuality and dignity, inevitably followed. It is when individual rights are pitted
against State authority that judicial conscience is put to its severest test.

Petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada, the highest-ranking official to be prosecuted under RA 7080
(An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder), as amended by RA 7659, wishes to
impress upon us that the assailed law is so defectively fashioned that it crosses that thin but
distinct line which divides the valid from the constitutionally infirm. He therefore makes a
stringent call for this Court to subject the Plunder Law to the crucible of constitutionality mainly
because, according to him, (a) it suffers from the vice of vagueness; (b) it dispenses with the
"reasonable doubt" standard in criminal prosecutions; and, (c) it abolishes the element of mens
rea in crimes already punishable under The Revised Penal Code, all of which are purportedly
clear violations of the fundamental rights of the accused to due process and to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him.

Specifically, the provisions of the Plunder Law claimed by petitioner to have transgressed
constitutional boundaries are Secs. 1, par. (d), 2 and 4 which are reproduced hereunder:
Section 1. x x x x (d) "Ill-gotten wealth" means any asset, property, business, enterprise or
material possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him
directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business
associates by any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes:

(1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the
public treasury;

(2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any
other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any
government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public office
concerned;

(3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National
Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities, or government owned or
controlled corporations and their subsidiaries;

(4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any
other form of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any
business enterprise or undertaking;

(5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations


and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special
interests; or

(6) By taking advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to


unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the
Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.

Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder, Penalties. - Any public officer who, by himself or in
connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business
associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth
through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d)
hereof, in the aggregate amount or total value of at least fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00)
shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any
person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing
to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of
penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating
circumstances as provided by the Revised Penal Code shall be considered by the court. The
court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets
including the properties and shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof
forfeited in favor of the State (underscoring supplied).

Section 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be
necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of
the scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being
sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts
indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy (underscoring supplied).
On 4 April 2001 the Office of the Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan eight (8) separate
Informations, docketed as: (a) Crim. Case No. 26558, for violation of RA 7080, as amended by
RA 7659; (b) Crim. Cases Nos. 26559 to 26562, inclusive, for violation of Secs. 3, par. (a), 3, par.
(a), 3, par. (e) and 3, par. (e), of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), respectively;
(c) Crim. Case No. 26563, for violation of Sec. 7, par. (d), of RA 6713 (The Code of Conduct and
Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees); (d) Crim. Case No. 26564, for Perjury (Art.
183 of The Revised Penal Code); and, (e) Crim. Case No. 26565, for Illegal Use Of An Alias (CA
No. 142, as amended by RA 6085).

On 11 April 2001 petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion for the remand of the case to the
Ombudsman for preliminary investigation with respect to specification "d" of the charges in the
Information in Crim. Case No. 26558; and, for reconsideration/reinvestigation of the offenses
under specifications "a," "b," and "c" to give the accused an opportunity to file counter-
affidavits and other documents necessary to prove lack of probable cause. Noticeably, the
grounds raised were only lack of preliminary investigation, reconsideration/reinvestigation of
offenses, and opportunity to prove lack of probable cause. The purported ambiguity of the
charges and the vagueness of the law under which they are charged were never raised in that
Omnibus Motion thus indicating the explicitness and comprehensibility of the Plunder Law.

On 25 April 2001 the Sandiganbayan, Third Division, issued a Resolution in Crim. Case No. 26558
finding that "a probable cause for the offense of PLUNDER exists to justify the issuance of
warrants for the arrest of the accused." On 25 June 2001 petitioner's motion for reconsideration
was denied by the Sandiganbayan.

On 14 June 2001 petitioner moved to quash the Information in Crim. Case No. 26558 on the
ground that the facts alleged therein did not constitute an indictable offense since the law on
which it was based was unconstitutional for vagueness, and that the Amended Information for
Plunder charged more than one (1) offense. On 21 June 2001 the Government filed its
Opposition to the Motion to Quash, and five (5) days later or on 26 June 2001 petitioner
submitted his Reply to the Opposition. On 9 July 2001 the Sandiganbayan denied petitioner's
Motion to Quash.

As concisely delineated by this Court during the oral arguments on 18 September 2001, the
issues for resolution in the instant petition for certiorari are: (a) The Plunder Law is
unconstitutional for being vague; (b) The Plunder Law requires less evidence for proving the
predicate crimes of plunder and therefore violates the rights of the accused to due process; and,
(c) Whether Plunder as defined in RA 7080 is a malum prohibitum, and if so, whether it is within
the power of Congress to so classify it.

Preliminarily, the whole gamut of legal concepts pertaining to the validity of legislation is
predicated on the basic principle that a legislative measure is presumed to be in harmony with
the Constitution. Courts invariably train their sights on this fundamental rule whenever a
legislative act is under a constitutional attack, for it is the postulate of constitutional
adjudication. This strong predilection for constitutionality takes its bearings on the idea that it is
forbidden for one branch of the government to encroach upon the duties and powers of
another. Thus it has been said that the presumption is based on the deference the judicial
branch accords to its coordinate branch - the legislature.
If there is any reasonable basis upon which the legislation may firmly rest, the courts must
assume that the legislature is ever conscious of the borders and edges of its plenary powers, and
has passed the law with full knowledge of the facts and for the purpose of promoting what is
right and advancing the welfare of the majority. Hence in determining whether the acts of the
legislature are in tune with the fundamental law, courts should proceed with judicial restraint and
act with caution and forbearance. Every intendment of the law must be adjudged by the courts
in favor of its constitutionality, invalidity being a measure of last resort. In construing therefore
the provisions of a statute, courts must first ascertain whether an interpretation is fairly possible
to sidestep the question of constitutionality.

In La Union Credit Cooperative, Inc. v. Yaranon we held that as long as there is some basis
for the decision of the court, the constitutionality of the challenged law will not be
touched and the case will be decided on other available grounds. Yet the force of the
presumption is not sufficient to catapult a fundamentally deficient law into the safe environs of
constitutionality. Of course, where the law clearly and palpably transgresses the hallowed
domain of the organic law, it must be struck down on sight lest the positive commands of the
fundamental law be unduly eroded.

Verily, the onerous task of rebutting the presumption weighs heavily on the party challenging the
validity of the statute. He must demonstrate beyond any tinge of doubt that there is indeed an
infringement of the constitution, for absent such a showing, there can be no finding of
unconstitutionality. A doubt, even if well-founded, will hardly suffice. As tersely put by Justice
Malcolm, "To doubt is to sustain." And petitioner has miserably failed in the instant case to
discharge his burden and overcome the presumption of constitutionality of the Plunder Law.

As it is written, the Plunder Law contains ascertainable standards and well-defined parameters
which would enable the accused to determine the nature of his violation. Section 2 is
sufficiently explicit in its description of the acts, conduct and conditions required or
forbidden, and prescribes the elements of the crime with reasonable certainty and particularity.
Thus -

1. That the offender is a public officer who acts by himself or in connivance with members of his
family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons;

2. That he amassed, accumulated or acquired ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series


of the following overt or criminal acts: (a) through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or
malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury; (b) by receiving, directly or
indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickback or any other form of pecuniary
benefits from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or project or
by reason of the office or position of the public officer; (c) by the illegal or fraudulent conveyance
or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government or any of its subdivisions,
agencies or instrumentalities of Government owned or controlled corporations or their
subsidiaries; (d) by obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock,
equity or any other form of interest or participation including the promise of future employment
in any business enterprise or undertaking; (e) by establishing agricultural, industrial or
commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or implementation of decrees and orders
intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; or (f) by taking advantage of official
position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves
at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the
Philippines; and,

3. That the aggregate amount or total value of the ill-gotten wealth amassed, accumulated or
acquired is at least P50,000,000.00.

As long as the law affords some comprehensible guide or rule that would inform those who are
subject to it what conduct would render them liable to its penalties, its validity will be sustained.
It must sufficiently guide the judge in its application; the counsel, in defending one charged with
its violation; and more importantly, the accused, in identifying the realm of the proscribed
conduct. Indeed, it can be understood with little difficulty that what the assailed statute
punishes is the act of a public officer in amassing or accumulating ill-gotten wealth of at least
P50,000,000.00 through a series or combination of acts enumerated in Sec. 1, par. (d), of the
Plunder Law.

In fact, the amended Information itself closely tracks the language of the law, indicating with
reasonable certainty the various elements of the offense which petitioner is alleged to have
committed:

"The undersigned Ombudsman, Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman,
hereby accuses former PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Joseph Ejercito
Estrada, a.k.a. 'ASIONG SALONGA' and a.k.a. 'JOSE VELARDE,' together with Jose 'Jinggoy'
Estrada, Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a.
Eleuterio Tan OR Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and John DOES &
Jane Does, of the crime of Plunder, defined and penalized under R.A. No. 7080, as amended by
Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 7659, committed as follows:

That during the period from June, 1998 to January 2001, in the Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, THEN A PRESIDENT OF
THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, by himself AND/OR in CONNIVANCE/CONSPIRACY with
his co-accused, WHO ARE MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY, RELATIVES BY AFFINITY OR
CONSANGUINITY, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, SUBORDINATES AND/OR OTHER PERSONS,
BY TAKING UNDUE ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION, AUTHORITY,
RELATIONSHIP, CONNECTION, OR INFLUENCE, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
criminally amass, accumulate and acquire BY HIMSELF, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ill-
gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or TOTAL VALUE of FOUR BILLION NINETY SEVEN
MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS
AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P4,097,804,173.17), more or less, THEREBY UNJUSTLY
ENRICHING HIMSELF OR THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE AND TO THE DAMAGE OF THE
FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, through ANY OR A
combination OR A series of overt OR criminal acts, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS,
described as follows:

(a) by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on SEVERAL INSTANCES, MONEY IN THE


AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS
(P545,000,000.00), MORE OR LESS, FROM ILLEGAL GAMBLING IN THE FORM OF GIFT,
SHARE, PERCENTAGE, KICKBACK OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFIT, BY HIMSELF
AND/OR in connection with co-accused CHARLIE 'ATONG' ANG, Jose 'Jinggoy' Estrada, Yolanda
T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, AND JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in consideration OF
TOLERATION OR PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL GAMBLING;

(b) by DIVERTING, RECEIVING, misappropriating, converting OR misusing DIRECTLY OR


INDIRECTLY, for HIS OR THEIR PERSONAL gain and benefit, public funds in the amount of
ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS (P130,000,000.00), more or less, representing a portion
of the TWO HUNDRED MILLION PESOS (P200,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax share
allocated for the province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, by himself and/or in
connivance with co-accused Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a. Eleuterio Ramos
Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, AND OTHER JOHN DOES & JANE DOES; (italic
supplied).

(c) by directing, ordering and compelling, FOR HIS PERSONAL GAIN AND BENEFIT, the
Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) TO PURCHASE 351,878,000 SHARES OF
STOCKS, MORE OR LESS, and the Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 SHARES OF
STOCK, MORE OR LESS, OF THE BELLE CORPORATION IN THE AMOUNT OF MORE OR
LESS ONE BILLION ONE HUNDRED TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE
THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (P1,102,965,607.50)
AND MORE OR LESS SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY FOUR MILLION SIX HUNDRED TWELVE
THOUSAND AND FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (P744,612,450.00), RESPECTIVELY, OR
A TOTAL OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN MILLION FIVE
HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS
(P1,847,578,057.50); AND BY COLLECTING OR RECEIVING, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY,
BY HIMSELF AND/OR IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, COMMISSIONS
OR PERCENTAGES BY REASON OF SAID PURCHASES OF SHARES OF STOCK IN THE
AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS
(P189,700,000.00) MORE OR LESS, FROM THE BELLE CORPORATION WHICH BECAME
PART OF THE DEPOSIT IN THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK UNDER THE ACCOUNT NAME 'JOSE
VELARDE;'

(d) by unjustly enriching himself FROM COMMISSIONS, GIFTS, SHARES, PERCENTAGES,


KICKBACKS, OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFITS, IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN
DOES AND JANE DOES, in the amount of MORE OR LESS THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED
THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS
AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P3,233,104,173.17) AND DEPOSITING THE SAME UNDER HIS
ACCOUNT NAME 'JOSE VELARDE' AT THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK."

We discern nothing in the foregoing that is vague or ambiguous - as there is obviously none -
that will confuse petitioner in his defense. Although subject to proof, these factual assertions
clearly show that the elements of the crime are easily understood and provide adequate contrast
between the innocent and the prohibited acts. Upon such unequivocal assertions, petitioner is
completely informed of the accusations against him as to enable him to prepare for an intelligent
defense.

Petitioner, however, bewails the failure of the law to provide for the statutory definition of the
terms "combination" and "series" in the key phrase "a combination or series of overt or
criminal acts" found in Sec. 1, par. (d), and Sec. 2, and the word "pattern" in Sec. 4. These
omissions, according to petitioner, render the Plunder Law unconstitutional for being
impermissibly vague and overbroad and deny him the right to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him, hence, violative of his fundamental right to due process.

The rationalization seems to us to be pure sophistry. A statute is not rendered uncertain and
void merely because general terms are used therein, or because of the employment of terms
without defining them; much less do we have to define every word we use. Besides, there is no
positive constitutional or statutory command requiring the legislature to define each and every
word in an enactment. Congress is not restricted in the form of expression of its will, and its
inability to so define the words employed in a statute will not necessarily result in the vagueness
or ambiguity of the law so long as the legislative will is clear, or at least, can be gathered from
the whole act, which is distinctly expressed in the Plunder Law.

Moreover, it is a well-settled principle of legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will be


interpreted in their natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification, unless it is evident
that the legislature intended a technical or special legal meaning to those words. The intention of
the lawmakers - who are, ordinarily, untrained philologists and lexicographers - to use
statutory phraseology in such a manner is always presumed. Thus, Webster's New Collegiate
Dictionary contains the following commonly accepted definition of the words "combination" and
"series:"

Combination - the result or product of combining; the act or process of combining. To combine is
to bring into such close relationship as to obscure individual characters.

Series - a number of things or events of the same class coming one after another in spatial and
temporal succession.

That Congress intended the words "combination" and "series" to be understood in their
popular meanings is pristinely evident from the legislative deliberations on the bill which
eventually became RA 7080 or the Plunder Law:

DELIBERATIONS OF THE BICAMERAL COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE, 7 May 1991

REP. ISIDRO: I am just intrigued again by our definition of plunder. We say THROUGH A
COMBINATION OR SERIES OF OVERT OR CRIMINAL ACTS AS MENTIONED IN SECTION ONE
HEREOF. Now when we say combination, we actually mean to say, if there are two or more
means, we mean to say that number one and two or number one and something else are
included, how about a series of the same act? For example, through misappropriation,
conversion, misuse, will these be included also?

REP. GARCIA: Yeah, because we say a series.

REP. ISIDRO: Series.

REP. GARCIA: Yeah, we include series.

REP. ISIDRO: But we say we begin with a combination.

REP. GARCIA: Yes.


REP. ISIDRO: When we say combination, it seems that -

REP. GARCIA: Two.

REP. ISIDRO: Not only two but we seem to mean that two of the enumerated means not twice of
one enumeration.

REP. GARCIA: No, no, not twice.

REP. ISIDRO: Not twice?

REP. GARCIA: Yes. Combination is not twice - but combination, two acts.

REP. ISIDRO: So in other words, that’s it. When we say combination, we mean, two different acts.
It cannot be a repetition of the same act.

REP. GARCIA: That be referred to series, yeah.

REP. ISIDRO: No, no. Supposing one act is repeated, so there are two.

REP. GARCIA: A series.

REP. ISIDRO: That’s not series. Its a combination. Because when we say combination or series,
we seem to say that two or more, di ba?

REP. GARCIA: Yes, this distinguishes it really from ordinary crimes. That is why, I said, that is a
very good suggestion because if it is only one act, it may fall under ordinary crime but we have
here a combination or series of overt or criminal acts. So x x x x

REP. GARCIA: Series. One after the other eh di....

SEN. TANADA: So that would fall under the term “series?”

REP. GARCIA: Series, oo.

REP. ISIDRO: Now, if it is a combination, ano, two misappropriations....

REP. GARCIA: Its not... Two misappropriations will not be combination. Series.

REP. ISIDRO: So, it is not a combination?

REP. GARCIA: Yes.

REP. ISIDRO: When you say combination, two different?

REP. GARCIA: Yes.

SEN. TANADA: Two different.

REP. ISIDRO: Two different acts.


REP. GARCIA: For example, ha...

REP. ISIDRO: Now a series, meaning, repetition...

DELIBERATIONS ON SENATE BILL NO. 733, 6 June 1989

SENATOR MACEDA: In line with our interpellations that sometimes “one” or maybe even “two”
acts may already result in such a big amount, on line 25, would the Sponsor consider
deleting the words “a series of overt or,” to read, therefore: “or conspiracy COMMITTED by
criminal acts such as.” Remove the idea of necessitating “a series.” Anyway, the criminal acts
are in the plural.

SENATOR TANADA: That would mean a combination of two or more of the acts mentioned in this.

THE PRESIDENT: Probably two or more would be....

SENATOR MACEDA: Yes, because “a series” implies several or many; two or more.

SENATOR TANADA: Accepted, Mr. President x x x x

THE PRESIDENT: If there is only one, then he has to be prosecuted under the particular crime.
But when we say “acts of plunder” there should be, at least, two or more.

SENATOR ROMULO: In other words, that is already covered by existing laws, Mr. President.

Thus when the Plunder Law speaks of "combination," it is referring to at least two (2) acts
falling under different categories of enumeration provided in Sec. 1, par. (d), e.g., raids on the
public treasury in Sec. 1, par. (d), subpar. (1), and fraudulent conveyance of assets belonging to
the National Government under Sec. 1, par. (d), subpar. (3).

On the other hand, to constitute a series" there must be two (2) or more overt or criminal acts
falling under the same category of enumeration found in Sec. 1, par. (d), say, misappropriation,
malversation and raids on the public treasury, all of which fall under Sec. 1, par. (d),
subpar. (1). Verily, had the legislature intended a technical or distinctive meaning for
"combination" and "series," it would have taken greater pains in specifically providing for it in the
law.

As for "pattern," we agree with the observations of the Sandiganbayan that this term is
sufficiently defined in Sec. 4, in relation to Sec. 1, par. (d), and Sec. 2 -

x x x x under Sec. 1 (d) of the law, a 'pattern' consists of at least a combination or series of
overt or criminal acts enumerated in subsections (1) to (6) of Sec. 1 (d). Secondly, pursuant to
Sec. 2 of the law, the pattern of overt or criminal acts is directed towards a common purpose or
goal which is to enable the public officer to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. And
thirdly, there must either be an 'overall unlawful scheme' or 'conspiracy' to achieve said
common goal. As commonly understood, the term 'overall unlawful scheme' indicates a 'general
plan of action or method' which the principal accused and public officer and others conniving
with him follow to achieve the aforesaid common goal. In the alternative, if there is no such
overall scheme or where the schemes or methods used by multiple accused vary, the overt or
criminal acts must form part of a conspiracy to attain a common goal.

Hence, it cannot plausibly be contended that the law does not give a fair warning and sufficient
notice of what it seeks to penalize. Under the circumstances, petitioner's reliance on the "void-
for-vagueness" doctrine is manifestly misplaced. The doctrine has been formulated in various
ways, but is most commonly stated to the effect that a statute establishing a criminal offense
must define the offense with sufficient definiteness that persons of ordinary intelligence can
understand what conduct is prohibited by the statute. It can only be invoked against that specie
of legislation that is utterly vague on its face, i.e., that which cannot be clarified either by a
saving clause or by construction.

A statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men of
common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ in its application. In such
instance, the statute is repugnant to the Constitution in two (2) respects - it violates due process
for failure to accord persons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of what conduct to
avoid; and, it leaves law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and
becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle. But the doctrine does not apply as
against legislations that are merely couched in imprecise language but which nonetheless
specify a standard though defectively phrased; or to those that are apparently ambiguous yet
fairly applicable to certain types of activities. The first may be "saved" by proper construction,
while no challenge may be mounted as against the second whenever directed against such
activities. With more reason, the doctrine cannot be invoked where the assailed statute is clear
and free from ambiguity, as in this case.

The test in determining whether a criminal statute is void for uncertainty is whether the
language conveys a sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured by
common understanding and practice. It must be stressed, however, that the "vagueness"
doctrine merely requires a reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to be upheld - not
absolute precision or mathematical exactitude, as petitioner seems to suggest. Flexibility, rather
than meticulous specificity, is permissible as long as the metes and bounds of the statute are
clearly delineated. An act will not be held invalid merely because it might have been more
explicit in its wordings or detailed in its provisions, especially where, because of the nature of the
act, it would be impossible to provide all the details in advance as in all other statutes.

Moreover, we agree with, hence we adopt, the observations of Mr. Justice Vicente V. Mendoza
during the deliberations of the Court that the allegations that the Plunder Law is vague and
overbroad do not justify a facial review of its validity -

The void-for-vagueness doctrine states that "a statute which either forbids or requires the doing
of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its
meaning and differ as to its application, violates the first essential of due process of law." The
overbreadth doctrine, on the other hand, decrees that "a governmental purpose may not be
achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected
freedoms."

A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad
because of possible "chilling effect" upon protected speech. The theory is that "[w]hen statutes
regulate or proscribe speech and no readily apparent construction suggests itself as a vehicle for
rehabilitating the statutes in a single prosecution, the transcendent value to all society of
constitutionally protected expression is deemed to justify allowing attacks on overly broad
statutes with no requirement that the person making the attack demonstrate that his own
conduct could not be regulated by a statute drawn with narrow specificity." The possible harm to
society in permitting some unprotected speech to go unpunished is outweighed by the possibility
that the protected speech of others may be deterred and perceived grievances left to fester
because of possible inhibitory effects of overly broad statutes.

This rationale does not apply to penal statutes. Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect
resulting from their very existence, and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the
State may well be prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful conduct. In the area of
criminal law, the law cannot take chances as in the area of free speech.

The overbreadth and vagueness doctrines then have special application only to free speech
cases. They are inapt for testing the validity of penal statutes. As the U.S. Supreme Court put it,
in an opinion by Chief Justice Rehnquist, "we have not recognized an 'overbreadth' doctrine
outside the limited context of the First Amendment." In Broadrick v. Oklahoma, the Court ruled
that "claims of facial overbreadth have been entertained in cases involving statutes which, by
their terms, seek to regulate only spoken words" and, again, that "overbreadth claims, if
entertained at all, have been curtailed when invoked against ordinary criminal laws that are
sought to be applied to protected conduct." For this reason, it has been held that "a facial
challenge to a legislative act is the most difficult challenge to mount successfully, since the
challenger must establish that no set of circumstances exists under which the Act would be
valid." As for the vagueness doctrine, it is said that a litigant may challenge a statute on its face
only if it is vague in all its possible applications. "A plaintiff who engages in some conduct that is
clearly proscribed cannot complain of the vagueness of the law as applied to the conduct of
others."

In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools
developed for testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called in
American law, First Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is
involved is a criminal statute. With respect to such statute, the established rule is that "one to
whom application of a statute is constitutional will not be heard to attack the statute on the
ground that impliedly it might also be taken as applying to other persons or other situations in
which its application might be unconstitutional." As has been pointed out, "vagueness challenges
in the First Amendment context, like overbreadth challenges typically produce facial invalidation,
while statutes found vague as a matter of due process typically are invalidated [only] 'as applied'
to a particular defendant." Consequently, there is no basis for petitioner's claim that this Court
review the Anti-Plunder Law on its face and in its entirety.

Indeed, "on its face" invalidation of statutes results in striking them down entirely on the ground
that they might be applied to parties not before the Court whose activities are constitutionally
protected. It constitutes a departure from the case and controversy requirement of the
Constitution and permits decisions to be made without concrete factual settings and in sterile
abstract contexts. But, as the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out in Younger v. Harris

[T]he task of analyzing a proposed statute, pinpointing its deficiencies, and requiring correction
of these deficiencies before the statute is put into effect, is rarely if ever an appropriate task for
the judiciary. The combination of the relative remoteness of the controversy, the impact on the
legislative process of the relief sought, and above all the speculative and amorphous nature of
the required line-by-line analysis of detailed statutes, . . . ordinarily results in a kind of case that
is wholly unsatisfactory for deciding constitutional questions, whichever way they might be
decided.

For these reasons, "on its face" invalidation of statutes has been described as "manifestly strong
medicine," to be employed "sparingly and only as a last resort," and is generally disfavored. In
determining the constitutionality of a statute, therefore, its provisions which are alleged to have
been violated in a case must be examined in the light of the conduct with which the defendant is
charged.

In light of the foregoing disquisition, it is evident that the purported ambiguity of the Plunder
Law, so tenaciously claimed and argued at length by petitioner, is more imagined than real.
Ambiguity, where none exists, cannot be created by dissecting parts and words in the statute to
furnish support to critics who cavil at the want of scientific precision in the law. Every provision
of the law should be construed in relation and with reference to every other part. To be sure, it
will take more than nitpicking to overturn the well-entrenched presumption of constitutionality
and validity of the Plunder Law. A fortiori, petitioner cannot feign ignorance of what the Plunder
Law is all about. Being one of the Senators who voted for its passage, petitioner must be aware
that the law was extensively deliberated upon by the Senate and its appropriate committees by
reason of which he even registered his affirmative vote with full knowledge of its legal
implications and sound constitutional anchorage.

The parallel case of Gallego v. Sandiganbayan must be mentioned if only to illustrate and
emphasize the point that courts are loathed to declare a statute void for uncertainty unless the
law itself is so imperfect and deficient in its details, and is susceptible of no reasonable
construction that will support and give it effect. In that case, petitioners Gallego and Agoncillo
challenged the constitutionality of Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for
being vague. Petitioners posited, among others, that the term "unwarranted" is highly imprecise
and elastic with no common law meaning or settled definition by prior judicial or administrative
precedents; that, for its vagueness, Sec. 3, par. (e), violates due process in that it does not give
fair warning or sufficient notice of what it seeks to penalize. Petitioners further argued that the
Information charged them with three (3) distinct offenses, to wit: (a) giving of "unwarranted"
benefits through manifest partiality; (b) giving of "unwarranted" benefits through evident bad
faith; and, (c) giving of "unwarranted" benefits through gross inexcusable negligence while in
the discharge of their official function and that their right to be informed of the nature and cause
of the accusation against them was violated because they were left to guess which of the three
(3) offenses, if not all, they were being charged and prosecuted.

In dismissing the petition, this Court held that Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act does not suffer from the constitutional defect of vagueness. The phrases "manifest
partiality," "evident bad faith," and "gross and inexcusable negligence" merely describe the
different modes by which the offense penalized in Sec. 3, par. (e), of the statute may be
committed, and the use of all these phrases in the same Information does not mean that the
indictment charges three (3) distinct offenses.

The word 'unwarranted' is not uncertain. It seems lacking adequate or official support;
unjustified; unauthorized (Webster, Third International Dictionary, p. 2514); or without
justification or adequate reason (Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v. US Dept. of Justice, C.D. Pa.,
405 F. Supp. 8, 12, cited in Words and Phrases, Permanent Edition, Vol. 43-A 1978, Cumulative
Annual Pocket Part, p. 19).

The assailed provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act consider a corrupt practice
and make unlawful the act of the public officer in:

x x x or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the
discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident
bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, x x x (Section 3 [e], Rep. Act 3019, as amended).

It is not at all difficult to comprehend that what the aforequoted penal provisions penalize is the
act of a public officer, in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions, in giving
any private party benefits, advantage or preference which is unjustified, unauthorized or without
justification or adequate reason, through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross
inexcusable negligence.

In other words, this Court found that there was nothing vague or ambiguous in the use of the
term "unwarranted" in Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which was
understood in its primary and general acceptation. Consequently, in that case, petitioners'
objection thereto was held inadequate to declare the section unconstitutional.

On the second issue, petitioner advances the highly stretched theory that Sec. 4 of the Plunder
Law circumvents the immutable obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt
the predicate acts constituting the crime of plunder when it requires only proof of a pattern of
overt or criminal acts showing unlawful scheme or conspiracy -

SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be
necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the
scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to
establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall
unlawful scheme or conspiracy.

The running fault in this reasoning is obvious even to the simplistic mind. In a criminal
prosecution for plunder, as in all other crimes, the accused always has in his favor the
presumption of innocence which is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and unless the State
succeeds in demonstrating by proof beyond reasonable doubt that culpability lies, the accused is
entitled to an acquittal. The use of the "reasonable doubt" standard is indispensable to
command the respect and confidence of the community in the application of criminal law. It is
critical that the moral force of criminal law be not diluted by a standard of proof that leaves
people in doubt whether innocent men are being condemned. It is also important in our free
society that every individual going about his ordinary affairs has confidence that his government
cannot adjudge him guilty of a criminal offense without convincing a proper factfinder of his guilt
with utmost certainty. This "reasonable doubt" standard has acquired such exalted stature in
the realm of constitutional law as it gives life to the Due Process Clause which protects the
accused against conviction except upon proof beyond reasonable doubt of every fact necessary
to constitute the crime with which he is charged. The following exchanges between Rep. Rodolfo
Albano and Rep. Pablo Garcia on this score during the deliberations in the floor of the House of
Representatives are elucidating -
DELIBERATIONS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON RA 7080, 9 October 1990

MR. ALBANO: Now, Mr. Speaker, it is also elementary in our criminal law that what is alleged in
the information must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. If we will prove only one act and find
him guilty of the other acts enumerated in the information, does that not work against the right
of the accused especially so if the amount committed, say, by falsification is less than P100
million, but the totality of the crime committed is P100 million since there is malversation,
bribery, falsification of public document, coercion, theft?

MR. GARCIA: Mr. Speaker, not everything alleged in the information needs to be proved beyond
reasonable doubt. What is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt is every element of
the crime charged. For example, Mr. Speaker, there is an enumeration of the things taken by
the robber in the information – three pairs of pants, pieces of jewelry. These need not be proved
beyond reasonable doubt, but these will not prevent the conviction of a crime for which he was
charged just because, say, instead of 3 pairs of diamond earrings the prosecution proved two.
Now, what is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt is the element of the offense.

MR. ALBANO: I am aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but considering that in the crime of plunder the
totality of the amount is very important, I feel that such a series of overt criminal acts has to be
taken singly. For instance, in the act of bribery, he was able to accumulate only P50,000 and in
the crime of extortion, he was only able to accumulate P1 million. Now, when we add the totality
of the other acts as required under this bill through the interpretation on the rule of evidence, it
is just one single act, so how can we now convict him?

MR. GARCIA: With due respect, Mr. Speaker, for purposes of proving an essential element of the
crime, there is a need to prove that element beyond reasonable doubt. For example, one
essential element of the crime is that the amount involved is P100 million. Now, in a series of
defalcations and other acts of corruption in the enumeration the total amount would be P110 or
P120 million, but there are certain acts that could not be proved, so, we will sum up the amounts
involved in those transactions which were proved. Now, if the amount involved in these
transactions, proved beyond reasonable doubt, is P100 million, then there is a crime of plunder
(underscoring supplied).

It is thus plain from the foregoing that the legislature did not in any manner refashion the
standard quantum of proof in the crime of plunder. The burden still remains with the prosecution
to prove beyond any iota of doubt every fact or element necessary to constitute the crime.

The thesis that Sec. 4 does away with proof of each and every component of the crime suffers
from a dismal misconception of the import of that provision. What the prosecution needs to
prove beyond reasonable doubt is only a number of acts sufficient to form a combination or
series which would constitute a pattern and involving an amount of at least P50,000,000.00.
There is no need to prove each and every other act alleged in the Information to have been
committed by the accused in furtherance of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy to amass,
accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. To illustrate, supposing that the accused is charged in
an Information for plunder with having committed fifty (50) raids on the public treasury. The
prosecution need not prove all these fifty (50) raids, it being sufficient to prove by pattern at
least two (2) of the raids beyond reasonable doubt provided only that they amounted to at least
P50,000,000.00.
A reading of Sec. 2 in conjunction with Sec. 4, brings us to the logical conclusion that "pattern of
overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy" inheres in the very
acts of accumulating, acquiring or amassing hidden wealth. Stated otherwise, such pattern
arises where the prosecution is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the predicate acts as
defined in Sec. 1, par. (d). Pattern is merely a by-product of the proof of the predicate acts.
This conclusion is consistent with reason and common sense. There would be no other
explanation for a combination or series of

overt or criminal acts to stash P50,000,000.00 or more, than "a scheme or conspiracy to amass,
accumulate or acquire ill gotten wealth." The prosecution is therefore not required to make a
deliberate and conscious effort to prove pattern as it necessarily follows with the establishment
of a series or combination of the predicate acts.

Relative to petitioner's contentions on the purported defect of Sec. 4 is his submission that
"pattern" is "a very important element of the crime of plunder;" and that Sec. 4 is "two pronged,
(as) it contains a rule of evidence and a substantive element of the crime," such that without it
the accused cannot be convicted of plunder -

JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: In other words, cannot an accused be convicted under the Plunder Law
without applying Section 4 on the Rule of Evidence if there is proof beyond reasonable doubt of
the commission of the acts complained of?

ATTY. AGABIN: In that case he can be convicted of individual crimes enumerated in the Revised
Penal Code, but not plunder.

JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: In other words, if all the elements of the crime are proved beyond
reasonable doubt without applying Section 4, can you not have a conviction under the Plunder
Law?

ATTY. AGABIN: Not a conviction for plunder, your Honor.

JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: Can you not disregard the application of Sec. 4 in convicting an accused
charged for violation of the Plunder Law?

ATTY. AGABIN: Well, your Honor, in the first place Section 4 lays down a substantive element of
the law x x x x

JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: What I said is - do we have to avail of Section 4 when there is proof
beyond reasonable doubt on the acts charged constituting plunder?

ATTY. AGABIN: Yes, your Honor, because Section 4 is two pronged, it contains a rule of evidence
and it contains a substantive element of the crime of plunder. So, there is no way by which we
can avoid Section 4.

JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: But there is proof beyond reasonable doubt insofar as the predicate
crimes charged are concerned that you do not have to go that far by applying Section 4?

ATTY. AGABIN: Your Honor, our thinking is that Section 4 contains a very important element of
the crime of plunder and that cannot be avoided by the prosecution.
We do not subscribe to petitioner's stand. Primarily, all the essential elements of plunder can be
culled and understood from its definition in Sec. 2, in relation to Sec. 1, par. (d), and "pattern" is
not one of them. Moreover, the epigraph and opening clause of Sec. 4 is clear and unequivocal:

SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder x x x x

It purports to do no more than prescribe a rule of procedure for the prosecution of a criminal
case for plunder. Being a purely procedural measure, Sec. 4 does not define or establish any
substantive right in favor of the accused but only operates in furtherance of a remedy. It is only
a means to an end, an aid to substantive law. Indubitably, even without invoking Sec. 4, a
conviction for plunder may be had, for what is crucial for the prosecution is to present sufficient
evidence to engender that moral certitude exacted by the fundamental law to prove the guilt of
the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, even granting for the sake of argument that Sec. 4
is flawed and vitiated for the reasons advanced by petitioner, it may simply be severed from
the rest of the provisions without necessarily resulting in the demise of the law; after all, the
existing rules on evidence can supplant Sec. 4 more than enough. Besides, Sec. 7 of RA 7080
provides for a separability clause -

Sec. 7. Separability of Provisions. - If any provisions of this Act or the application thereof to any
person or circumstance is held invalid, the remaining provisions of this Act and the
application of such provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Implicit in the foregoing section is that to avoid the whole act from being declared invalid as a
result of the nullity of some of its provisions, assuming that to be the case although it is not
really so, all the provisions thereof should accordingly be treated independently of each other,
especially if by doing so, the objectives of the statute can best be achieved.

As regards the third issue, again we agree with Justice Mendoza that plunder is a malum in se
which requires proof of criminal intent. Thus, he says, in his Concurring Opinion -

x x x Precisely because the constitutive crimes are mala in se the element of mens rea must be
proven in a prosecution for plunder. It is noteworthy that the amended information alleges that
the crime of plunder was committed "willfully, unlawfully and criminally." It thus alleges guilty
knowledge on the part of petitioner.

In support of his contention that the statute eliminates the requirement of mens rea and that is
the reason he claims the statute is void, petitioner cites the following remarks of Senator Tañada
made during the deliberation on S.B. No. 733:

SENATOR TAÑADA . . . And the evidence that will be required to convict him would not be
evidence for each and every individual criminal act but only evidence sufficient to establish the
conspiracy or scheme to commit this crime of plunder.

However, Senator Tañada was discussing §4 as shown by the succeeding portion of the transcript
quoted by petitioner:

SENATOR ROMULO: And, Mr. President, the Gentleman feels that it is contained in Section 4,
Rule of Evidence, which, in the Gentleman's view, would provide for a speedier and faster
process of attending to this kind of cases?
SENATOR TAÑADA: Yes, Mr. President . . .

Senator Tañada was only saying that where the charge is conspiracy to commit plunder, the
prosecution need not prove each and every criminal act done to further the scheme or
conspiracy, it being enough if it proves beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or ciminal
acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy. As far as the acts constituting the
pattern are concerned, however, the elements of the crime must be proved and the requisite
mens rea must be shown.

Indeed, §2 provides that -

Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense
contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the
imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and
extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the
court.

The application of mitigating and extenuating circumstances in the Revised Penal Code to
prosecutions under the Anti-Plunder Law indicates quite clearly that mens rea is an element of
plunder since the degree of responsibility of the offender is determined by his criminal intent. It
is true that §2 refers to "any person who participates with the said public officer in the
commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder." There is no reason to believe,
however, that it does not apply as well to the public officer as principal in the crime. As Justice
Holmes said: "We agree to all the generalities about not supplying criminal laws with what they
omit, but there is no canon against using common sense in construing laws as saying what they
obviously mean."

Finally, any doubt as to whether the crime of plunder is a malum in se must be deemed to have
been resolved in the affirmative by the decision of Congress in 1993 to include it among the
heinous crimes punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Other heinous crimes are punished
with death as a straight penalty in R.A. No. 7659. Referring to these groups of heinous crimes,
this Court held in People v. Echegaray:

The evil of a crime may take various forms. There are crimes that are, by their very nature,
despicable, either because life was callously taken or the victim is treated like an animal and
utterly dehumanized as to completely disrupt the normal course of his or her growth as a human
being . . . . Seen in this light, the capital crimes of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for
ransom resulting in the death of the victim or the victim is raped, tortured, or subjected to
dehumanizing acts; destructive arson resulting in death; and drug offenses involving minors or
resulting in the death of the victim in the case of other crimes; as well as murder, rape,
parricide, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, where the victim is
detained for more than three days or serious physical injuries were inflicted on the victim or
threats to kill him were made or the victim is a minor, robbery with homicide, rape or intentional
mutilation, destructive arson, and carnapping where the owner, driver or occupant of the
carnapped vehicle is killed or raped, which are penalized by reclusion perpetua to death, are
clearly heinous by their very nature.

There are crimes, however, in which the abomination lies in the significance and implications of
the subject criminal acts in the scheme of the larger socio-political and economic context in
which the state finds itself to be struggling to develop and provide for its poor and
underprivileged masses. Reeling from decades of corrupt tyrannical rule that bankrupted the
government and impoverished the population, the Philippine Government must muster the
political will to dismantle the culture of corruption, dishonesty, greed and syndicated criminality
that so deeply entrenched itself in the structures of society and the psyche of the populace.
[With the government] terribly lacking the money to provide even the most basic services to its
people, any form of misappropriation or misapplication of government funds translates to an
actual threat to the very existence of government, and in turn, the very survival of the people it
governs over. Viewed in this context, no less heinous are the effects and repercussions of
crimes like qualified bribery, destructive arson resulting in death, and drug offenses involving
government officials, employees or officers, that their perpetrators must not be allowed to cause
further destruction and damage to society.

The legislative declaration in R.A. No. 7659 that plunder is a heinous offense implies that it is a
malum in se. For when the acts punished are inherently immoral or inherently wrong, they are
mala in se and it does not matter that such acts are punished in a special law, especially since in
the case of plunder the predicate crimes are mainly mala in se. Indeed, it would be absurd to
treat prosecutions for plunder as though they are mere prosecutions for violations of the
Bouncing Check Law (B.P. Blg. 22) or of an ordinance against jaywalking, without regard to the
inherent wrongness of the acts.

To clinch, petitioner likewise assails the validity of RA 7659, the amendatory law of RA 7080, on
constitutional grounds. Suffice it to say however that it is now too late in the day for him to
resurrect this long dead issue, the same having been eternally consigned by People v.
Echegaray to the archives of jurisprudential history. The declaration of this Court therein that RA
7659 is constitutionally valid stands as a declaration of the State, and becomes, by necessary
effect, assimilated in the Constitution now as an integral part of it.

Our nation has been racked by scandals of corruption and obscene profligacy of officials in high
places which have shaken its very foundation. The anatomy of graft and corruption has
become more elaborate in the corridors of time as unscrupulous people relentlessly contrive
more and more ingenious ways to bilk the coffers of the government. Drastic and radical
measures are imperative to fight the increasingly sophisticated, extraordinarily methodical and
economically catastrophic looting of the national treasury. Such is the Plunder Law,
especially designed to disentangle those ghastly tissues of grand-scale corruption which, if left
unchecked, will spread like a malignant tumor and ultimately consume the moral and
institutional fiber of our nation. The Plunder Law, indeed, is a living testament to the will of the
legislature to ultimately eradicate this scourge and thus secure society against the avarice and
other venalities in public office.

These are times that try men's souls. In the checkered history of this nation, few issues of
national importance can equal the amount of interest and passion generated by petitioner's
ignominious fall from the highest office, and his eventual prosecution and trial under a virginal
statute. This continuing saga has driven a wedge of dissension among our people that
may linger for a long time. Only by responding to the clarion call for patriotism, to rise above
factionalism and prejudices, shall we emerge triumphant in the midst of ferment.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Court holds that RA 7080 otherwise known as the Plunder Law,
as amended by RA 7659, is CONSTITUTIONAL. Consequently, the petition to declare the law
unconstitutional is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Davide, Jr. C.J., Melo, Quisumbing, JJ., join concurring opinion of J. Mendoza.

Puno, Vitug, JJ., concurred and joins J. Mendoza's concurring opinion.

Kapunan, Pardo, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Ynares-Santiago, JJ., see dissenting opinion.

Mendoza, J., please see concurring opinion.

Panganiban J., please see separate concurring opinion.

Carpio, J., no part. Was one of the complainants before Ombudsman.

Approved 12 July 1991 and took effect 8 October 1991.

Approved 13 December 1993 and took effect 31 December 1993.

Lim v. Pacquing, et al., G.R. No. 115044, 27 January 1995, 240 SCRA 644.

G.R. No. 87001, 4 December 1989, 179 SCRA 828.

Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad, 47 Phil. 385, 414 (1925).

82 C.J.S. 68, p. 113; People v. Ring, 70 P.2d 281, 26 Cal. App. 2d Supp. 768.

Mustang Lumber, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 104988, 18 June 1996, 257 SCRA 430, 448.

PLDT v. Eastern Telecommunications Phil., Inc., G.R. No. 943774, 27 August 1992, 213 SCRA 16,
26.

Resolution of 9 July 2001.

See People v. Nazario, No. L-44143, 31 August 1988, 165 SCRA 186, 195-196.

Ibid.

State v. Hill, 189 Kan 403, 369 P2d 365, 91 ALR2d 750.

Connally v. General Constr. Co., 269 U.S. 385, 391, 70 L. Ed. 328 (1926) cited in Ermita-Malate
Hotel and Motel Operators Ass'n. v. City Mayor, 20 SCRA 849, 867 (1967).

NAACP v. Alabama, 377 U.S. 288, 307, 12, 2 L. Ed 325, 338 (1958); Shelton v. Tucker 364 U.S.
479, 5 L. Ed. 2d 231 (1960).
Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518, 521, 31 L. Ed. 2d 408, 413 (1972) (internal quotation marks
omitted).

United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 745 95 L. Ed 2d 697, 707 (1987); see also People v. De la
Piedra, G.R. No. 121777, 24 January 2001.

413 U.S. 601, 612-613, 37 L. Ed 2d 830, 840-841 (1973).

United States v. Salerno, supra.

Village of Hoffman Estates v. Flipside, Hoffman Estates, Inc., 455 U.S. 489, 494-95, 71 L. Ed. 2d
362, 369 (1982).

United States v. Raines, 362 U.S. 17, 21, 4 L. Ed. 2d 524, 529 (1960). The paradigmatic case is
Yazoo & Mississippi Valley RR. v. Jackson Vinegar Co., 226 U.S. 217, 57 L. Ed. 193 (1912).

G. Gunther & K. Sullivan, Constitutional Law 1299 (2001).

Id. at 1328. See also Richard H. Fallon, Jr., As Applied and Facial Challenges, 113 Harv. L. Rev.
1321 (2000) arguing that, in an important sense, as applied challenges are the basic building
blocks of constitutional adjudication and that determinations that statutes are facially invalid
properly occur only as logical outgrowths of ruling on whether statutes may be applied to
particular litigants on particular facts.

Constitution, Art. VIII, §1 and 5. Compare Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139, 158
(1936); "[T]he power of judicial review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be
exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further to be
constitutional question raised or the very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could
only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to
actualities."

401 U.S. 37, 52-53, 27 L. Ed. 2d 669, 680 (1971). Accord, United States v. Raines, 362 U.S. 17,
4 L. Ed. 2d 524 (1960); Board of Trustees, State Univ. of N.Y. v. Fox, 492 U.S. 469, 106 L. Ed. 2d
388 (1989).

Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U.S. at 613, 37 L. Ed. 2d at 841; National Endowment for the Arts v.
Finley, 524 U.S. 569, 580 (1998).

FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 223, 107 L. Ed. 2d 603 (1990); Cruz v. Secretary of
Environment and Natural Resources, G.R. No. 135385, 6 December 2000 (Mendoza, J., Separate
Opinion).

United States v. National Dairy Prod. Corp., 372 U.S. 29, 32-33, 9 L. Ed. 2d 561, 565-6 (1963).

G.R. No. 57841, 30 July 1982, 115 SCRA 793.

People v. Ganguso, G.R. No. 115430, 23 November 1995, 250 SCRA 268, 274-275.

People v. Garcia, G.R. No. 94187, 4 November 1992, 215 SCRA 349, 360.
Then Senate President Jovito R. Salonga construed in brief the provision, thuswise: “If there are
let’s say 150 crimes all in all, criminal acts, whether bribery, misappropriation, malversation,
extortion, you need not prove all those beyond reasonable doubt. If you can prove by pattern,
let’s say 10, but each must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, you do not have to prove 150
crimes. That’s the meaning of this (Deliberations of Committee on Constitutional Amendments
and Revision of Laws, 15 November 1988, cited in the Sandiganbayan Resolution of 9 July 2001).

TSN, 18 September 2001, pp. 115-121.

4 Record of the Senate 1316, 5 June 1989.

Ibid.

Roschen v. Ward, 279 U.S. 337, 339, 73 L.Ed. 722, 728 (1929).

267 SCRA 682, 721-2 (1997) (emphasis added).

Black's Law Dictionary 959 (1990); Lozano v. Martinez, 146 SCRA 324, 338 (1986).

G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997, 267 SCRA 682.