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Canon 8; Canon 11; Parliamentary Immunity

197. Pobre v. Defensor-Santiago (A.C. No. 7399) Aug 25, 2009 | A.C. No. 7399
Facts: Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago delivered the following remarks in a privilege speech
before the Senate: “I am not angry. I am irate. I am foaming in the mouth. I am homicidal. I am
suicidal. I am humiliated, debased, degraded. And I am not only that, I feel like throwing up to
be living my middle years in a country of this nature. I am nauseated. I spit on the face of Chief
Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested in
the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded by idiots. I would rather be in a different
environment than in a Supreme Court of idiots.” Her speech came as a response to the decision
of the JBC declaring that only sitting members of the Supreme Court can be nominated for the
impending vacancy of the CJ post. Consequently, nominees who were not incumbent members
of the Court, including Sen. Defensor-Santiago, were automatically disqualified.

Issue: Whether or not Sen. Defensor-Santiago should be disbarred or subjected to disciplinary


action by the Court for her speech

Held: No, because of the parliamentary immunity provided under Sec 11, Art. VI of the 1987
Constitution which states in part "no Senator shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other
place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof." However, the Court
wishes to express its deep concern about the language Senator Santiago, a member of the Bar,
used in her speech and its effect on the administration of justice. To the Court, the lady senator
has undoubtedly crossed the limits of decency and good professional conduct. It is at once
apparent that her statements in question were intemperate and highly improper in substance. No
lawyer who has taken an oath to maintain the respect due to the courts should be allowed to
erode the people’s faith in the judiciary. In this case, the lady senator clearly violated the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which provides: Canon 8, Rule 8.01.––A lawyer shall not, in his
professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper. Canon
11.––A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to the judicial
officers and should insist on similar conduct by others. Senator Santiago should have known, as
any perceptive individual, the impact her statements would make on the people’s faith in the
integrity of the courts.