Legal practitioners in Cebu have different opinions on the action of private prosecutor Vitaliano Aquirre, who was cited for contempt by the Senate impeachment court after he covered his ears when Senator Miriam Santiago lectured them and at one instance called them “gago” (stupid).
Cebu RTC Judge Meinrado Paredes said he understood how Aguirre and other members of the prosecution team felt with the constant outbursts of Santiago.
But he said Aguirre should have controlled himself.
He said Aguirre may have felt that Santiago’s outburst was excessive, but said a retaliatory move inside the court wouldn’t be justified.
Besides, he said a judge was always powerful inside the court.
“Gi-agwanta nalang unta niya (He should just bear it),” Paredes said.
Paredes said a judge should be kind and polite to the lawyers who appear in his or her chamber in the same way that lawyers should also be polite and kind to the judge.
Paredes said under the code of judicial conduct, judges should treat the lawyers as human beings.
“It was a form of disrespect, but I can understand him. He was also disrespected by a Senator-Judge”, Paredes added.
Paredes said if indeed a lawyer felt that a judge had misbehaved by issuing foul language like the word “gago”, then one could file an administrative complaint.
Paredes said a judge could castigate lawyers if there’s a basis, but not to the extent of downgrading him or her.
“In my 20 years of being a judge, for the record I have not cited anyone for contempt”, Paredes said.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City president Earl Bonachita said he couldn’t totally blame Aguirre for his action, which was triggered by Santiago’s insulting words.
“It’s not just a one way traffic of respect, it must be a mutual two-way traffic of respect”, Bonachita added. /Correspondent Jhunnex Napallacan