March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected March 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

CIVIL PROCEDURE 

Contempt; contempt proceedings distinguished from suspension proceedings.  Contempt and suspension proceedings are supposed to be separate and distinct.  They have different objects and purposes for which different procedures have been established.  Judge Blancaflor should have conducted separate proceedings.  As held in the case of People v. Godoy, thus:

 A contempt proceeding for misbehavior in court is designed to vindicate the authority of the court; on the other hand, the object of a disciplinary proceeding is to deal with the fitness of the court’s officer to continue in that office, to preserve and protect the court and the public from the official ministrations of persons unfit or unworthy to hold such office.  The principal purpose of the exercise of the power to cite for contempt is to safeguard the functions of the court and should thus be used sparingly on a preservative and not, on the vindictive principle.  The principal purpose of the exercise of disciplinary authority by the Supreme Court is to assure respect for orders of such court by attorneys who, as much as judges, are responsible for the orderly administration of justice.

x x x.  It has likewise been the rule that a notice to a lawyer to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt cannot be considered as a notice to show cause why he should not be suspended from the practice of law, considering that they have distinct objects and for each of them a different procedure is established. Contempt of court is governed by the procedures laid down under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, whereas disciplinary actions in the practice of law are governed by Rules 138 and 139 thereof.

Thus, it was grossly improper for Judge Blancaflor to consider his July 30, 2009 Order on the contempt charge as the notice required in the disciplinary proceedings suspending petitioners from the practice of law.  Alen Ross Rodriguez and Regidor Tulali vs. The Hon. Bienvenido Blancaflor, etc. and People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 190171, March 14, 2011.

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