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G.R. NO. 79690-707, FEB 1, 1989


Enrique Zaldivar was the governor of Antique. He was charged before the Sandiganbayan for violations
of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez was the then “Tanodbayan” who was
investigating the case. Zaldivar filed before the Supreme Court a petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and
Mandamus assailing the authority of the Gonzales as Tanodbayan to investigate graft cases on the ground
that the 1987 Constitution amended the 1973 Constitution and pursuant to the 1987 Constitution, it is only
the Ombudsman who has the authority to file cases with
the Sandiganbayan. The Supreme Court rendered decision in favor of Zaldivar and ordered Gonzalez to
cease and desist from investigating. Gonzales however proceeded with the investigation and he filed
criminal information against Zaldivar. Gonzalez even had a newspaper interview where he stated that the
“rich and influential persons get favorable actions from the Supreme Court, [while] it is difficult for an
ordinary litigant to get his petition to be given due course.” Zaldivar then filed a Motion for Contempt
against Gonzalez. The Supreme Court then ordered Gonzalez to explain his side. After hearing his side,
the Supreme Court held that Gonzalez is guilty of contempt of court. Gonzalez‘ counsel filed a Motion for
Reconsideration raising the following issues:


1. WON the Supreme Court erred in charging Gonzalez with indirect contempt and convicting him
of direct contempt
2. WON the Supreme Court erred to charge Gonzalez under Rule 139 (b) and not 139 of the
Revised Rules of Court
3. WON the Supreme Court erred in applying the visible tendency rule rather than the clear and
present danger rule in disciplinary and contempt charges
4. WON the Supreme Court erred in holding that intent is irrelevant in charges of misconduct \
5. WON the Supreme Court erred in punishing Gonzalez for contempt for out of court publications
6. WON the imposition of indefinite suspension against Gonzalez constitutes cruel, degrading, or
inhuman punishment.

RULING: (In its entirety, Motion for Reconsideration was denied)

1. No. The SC held that Gonzalez is guilty of both “contempt of court in facie curiae and gross
misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the bar.” The word “in facie curiae” is not
equivalent of direct contempt. Rather, the court used the term to signify a “frontal assault” upon the
integrity of the Court and the entire judicial system. The SC also noted that it did not impose punishment
for Gonzalez‘ acts under direct contempt.

2. No. Rules 139 talks about the referral of SC to IBP or OSG while Rule 139(b) states that reference to
IBP and/or OSG is not mandatory. The SC did not err in not referring the case to IBP or OSG. The SC
held that there is no need to refer the case to the OSG because the Court itself has initiated the case
against Gonzalez. In addition to this, the SC said that there is no need for further investigation of facts in
the present case because it was not disputed by Gonzalez that he uttered or wrote certain statements
attributed to him.

3. No. The SC explained that the “visible tendency rule” penalizes any improper conduct tending,
directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice while the “clear and
present danger rule” is a method of marking out the appropriate limits of freedom of speech and of
assembly in certain contexts. The SC held that the clear and present danger test is not the only test which
is recognized and is applicable to courts. Also, invoking this test would not dissolve the problem because
the statements made by Gonzalez are of such nature as to transcend the permissible limits of free speech.
Hence, visible tendency rule and not clear and present danger shall be applied.

4. No. The SC explained that human intent can only be shown by examining one‘s acts and statements.
Gonzalez‘ disclaimer of intent to attack the Court cannot prevail over the plain import of what he did say
and do. Gonzalez cannot negate the clear import of his acts and statements by simply pleading a secret
intent or state of mind incompatible with his acts or statements.

5. No. Respondent‘s counsel asked the SC to follow what he presented as alleged modern trends in UK
and US concerning the law of contempt. The SC held that the text he cites is not applicable in Philippine

6. No. Indefinite suspension has the effect of placing the key to the restoration of his rights and
privileges as a lawyer in his own hands. The sanction has the effect of giving Gonzalez the chance to
purge himself in his own good time.