A.C. No. 7330, June 14, 2016
JUDGE GREGORIO D. PANTANOSAS, JR., Complainant, v. ATTY. ELLY L. PAMATONG, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
6. Finally, in my thirty (30) years of law practice, I never encountered a Judge who appears to be as corrupt as you are, thereby giving me the impression that you are a disgrace to the Judicial System of this land who does not deserved (sic) to be a member of the Philippine Bar at all.8cralawredOn the same day, complainant Pantanosas issued an Order refuting all allegations of abusive language and corruption and denying the Motion for Inhibition for lack of basis while ordering respondent Pamatong to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt of court.9 In compliance with the directive of the RTC, respondent Pamatong filed his Answer to the Order to Show Cause and Motion for Reconsideration.10ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
WHEREFORE, it is recommended that for violation of the lawyer's oath and breach of ethics of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Elly V. Pamatong be SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.37cralawredOn December 15, 2012, in a Resolution of even date, the IBP Board of Governors resolved to adopt and approve, with modification the Report and Recommendation dated August 6, 2010:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A", and finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondent's violation of the Lawyer's Oath and breach of ethics of the legal profession, Atty. Elly V. Pamatong is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) years with a stern Warning that a repetition of a similar act shall be dealt with more severely.38cralawredRespondent Pamatong then filed a Motion for Reconsideration and Complaint vs. Commissioner Albert R. Sordan and the IBP Board of Governors dated March 14, 2013,39 which was subsequently denied through a Resolution dated March 22, 2014.40ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court itself, an instrument or agency to advance the ends of justice." His duty is to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts to which he owes fidelity, "not to promote distrust in the administration of justice." Faith in the courts, a lawyer should seek to preserve. For, to undermine the judicial edifice "is disastrous to the continuity of government and to the attainment of the liberties of the people." Thus has it been said of a lawyer that "[a]s an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice.45 (Emphasis supplied)cralawredIt is with this exacting standard that we measure respondent Pamatong, and find him wanting.
6. Finally, in my thirty (30) years of law practice, I never encountered a Judge who appears to be as corrupt as you are, thereby giving me the impression that you are a disgrace to the Judicial System of this land who does not deserved (sic) to be a member of the Philippine Bar at all.47 (Emphasis supplied)cralawredThat the slanderous remarks cited above were inserted in no less than a public record, i.e., Motion for Inhibition, makes matters even worse. Even granting that the bribery charges were true, such personal attacks against the person of complainant Pantanosas should have been reserved for a different forum and certainly not included in a motion filed before a court of law. To be sure, a lawyer is obliged to abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language before the courts.48 As a supposed officer of the court, such behavior exhibited by respondent Pamatong only serves to betray his utter lack of reverence towards the courts, which promotes nothing but the degradation of the administration of justice.
A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2541-RTJ (Rev. Sultan Elly Velez Lao Pamatong, Esq. vs. Judge Gregorio D. Pantanosas, Jr., Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 20, Cagayan de Oro City) - The Court NOTES the Report dated 12 January 2007 of the Office of the Court Administrator on the verified complaint dated 11 September 2006 x x x finding the complaint devoid of merit because complainant did not present any evidence, other than his bare allegation, to prove the charge of bribery.Moreover, such action by respondent Pamatong of resorting to the press was highly irresponsible and is contrary to his duty to submit grievances against judges to the proper authorities only.52 Clearly, respondent Pamatong was motivated solely by improper motives in connection with the TRO application in Civil Case No. 2006-176.
Upon the recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator, the Court resolves to DISMISS the instant administrative complaint against Judge Gregorio D. Pantanosas, Jr. for lack of merit.51 (Emphasis supplied)cralawred
No doubt, the language contained in the 30 July 2001 motion greatly exceeded the vigor required of Jacoba to defend ably his client's cause. We recall his use of the following words and phrases: abhorrent nullity, legal monstrosity, horrendous mistake, horrible error, boner, and an insult to the judiciary and an anachronism in the judicial process. Even Velasco-Jacoba acknowledged that the words created "a cacophonic picture of total and utter disrespect."Similarly, in Judge Baculi v. Atty. Battung, this Court meted the penalty of suspension for one (1) year for the violation of Rule 11.03 of the CPR by the respondent therein due to his in-court demeanor during a motion hearing:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Respondents nonetheless try to exculpate themselves by saying that every remark in the 30 July 2001 motion was warranted. We disagree.
Well-recognized is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges. However, even the most hardened judge would be scarred by the scurrilous attack made by the 30 July 2001 motion on Judge Lacurom's Resolution. On its face, the Resolution presented the facts correctly and decided the case according to supporting law and jurisprudence. Though a lawyer's language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of unnecessary language is proscribed if we are to promote high esteem in the courts and trust in judicial administration.
In maintaining the respect due to the courts, a lawyer is not merely enjoined to use dignified language but also to pursue the client's cause through fair and honest means.53 (Emphasis supplied)cralawred
We agree with the IBP's finding that the respondent violated Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Atty. Battung disrespected Judge Baculi by shouting at him inside the courtroom during court proceedings in the presence of litigants and their counsels, and court personnel. The respondent even came back to harass Judge Baculi. This behavior, in front of many witnesses, cannot be allowed. We note that the respondent continued to threaten Judge Baculi and acted in a manner that clearly showed disrespect for his position even after the latter had cited him for contempt. In fact, after initially leaving the court, the respondent returned to the courtroom and disrupted the ongoing proceedings. These actions were not only against the person, the position and the stature of Judge Baculi, but against the court as well whose proceedings were openly and flagrantly disrupted, and brought to disrepute by the respondent.Meanwhile, in Re: Suspension of Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo,55 this Court imposed the penalty of suspension for one (1) year for the respondent's act of resorting to the press instead of availing himself only of judicial remedies in airing out his grievances:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Litigants and counsels, particularly the latter because of their position and avowed duty to the courts, cannot be allowed to publicly ridicule, demean and disrespect a judge, and the court that he represents. x x x54 (Emphasis supplied)cralawred
Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute and defend; and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence. Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain obligations. Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates a lawyer to "observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and [he] should insist on similar conduct by others." Rule 11.05 of Canon 11 states that a lawyer "shall submit grievances against a judge to the proper authorities only."From the foregoing, we therefore deem it proper to reduce the period of suspension from three (3) years, as recommended, to two (2) years only.
Respondent violated Rule 11.05 of Canon 11 when he admittedly caused the holding of a press conference where he made statements against the Order dated November 12, 2002 allowing the accused in Crim. Case No. 5144 to be released on bail.
Respondent also violated Canon 11 when he indirectly stated that Judge Tan was displaying judicial arrogance in the article entitled, Senior prosecutor lambasts Surigao judge for allowing murder suspect to bail out, which appeared in the August 18, 2003 issue of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily. Respondent's statements in the article, which were made while Crim. Case No. 5144 was still pending in court, also violated Rule 13.02 of Canon 13, which states that "a lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party." (Emphasis supplied)cralawred
1 See Sps. Garcia v. Bala, 512 Phil. 486 (2005).
2Petition for Leave to Resume Practice of Law, Benjamin M. Dacanay, 565 Phil. 165, 168 (2007).
3Rollo, p. 1.
4 Id. at 2.
5 Id. at 2-3.
6 Id. at 3.
8 Id. at 8.
9 Id. at 10-12.
10 Id. at 37-39.
11 Id. at 1-6.
12 Rule 8.01 - A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.
13 Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
14 Rule 11.04 - A lawyer shall not attribute to a judge motives not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case.
15Rollo, p. 13.
16 Id. at 14.
17 Id. at 15-21.
18 Id. at 27-31, Solicitation of One-Million-Peso Bribe Money, Violation of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court & Gross Violation of Canon 1, Canon 2, & Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Judicial Assault Against Freedom of Religion dated September 11, 2006.
19 Id. at 224.
20 Id. at 24-26, Complaint for Violation of Human Rights and Related Offenses Pursuant to the Applicable Provisions of the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights dated September 14, 2006.
21 Id. at 32-36, Rev. Sultan Elly Velez Lao Pamatong, Esquire's Sworn Statement on (A) the Illegal Demolition of Two Parcels of Land Covered by Case No. 4 OCT. 1310 and (B) Case No. 2006-176 Pending with the RTC ofCagayan De Oro City Wherein Judge Gregorio D. Pantanosas Asked for a One-Million-Peso Bribe Money dated September 11, 2006.
22 Id. at 17-18.
23 Rule 1.01 - A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence.
24 Rule 2.01 - A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.chanrobleslaw
25 Rule 3.12 - A judge should take no part in a proceeding where the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned. x x x
26Rollo, p. 29.
27 Id. at 28.
28 Id. at 29.
29 Id. at 76.
30 Id. at 147.
31 Id. at 187.
32 Id. at 188-194.
33 Id. at 216-223.
34 Id. at 228.
35 Id. at 230-231.
36 Id. at 232.
37 Id. at 86.
38 Id. at 78.
39 Id. at 89-99.
40 Id. at 237.
41 Id. at 250.
42 Id. at 78.
43Pobre v. Defensor-Santiago, 613 Phil. 352, 363 (2009).
44 Lawyer's Oath.
45Pobre v. Defensor-Santiago, supra note 43, at 364, citing Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel, 142 Phil. 1, 15-16 (1970).
46 Canon 11, Code of Professional Responsibility.
47Rollo, p. 8.
48 Rules 8.01 & 11.03, Code of Professional Responsibility.
49 Rule 11.04, Code of Professional Responsibility.
50Rollo, pp. 27-31, Solicitation of One-Million-Peso Bribe Money, Violation of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court & Gross Violation of Canon 1, Canon 2, & Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Judicial Assault Against Freedom of Religion dated September 11, 2006.
51 Id. at 224.
52 Rule 11.05, Code of Professional Responsibility.
53Judge Lacurom v. Atty. Jacoba, 519 Phil. 195, 209-210 (2006).
54Judge Baculi v. Atty. Battung, 614 Phil. 1, 8 (2011).
55Re: Suspension of Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo, Former Senior State Prosecutor, 561 Phil. 325, 339-340 (2007).
56Habawel v. Court of Tax Appeals, 672 Phil. 582, 595 (2011).
57 Id. at 596.
58Areola v. Mendoza, 724 Phil. 155, 164 (2014).