Who is Raul M. Gonzalez? | Inquirer News

Who is Raul M. Gonzalez?

/ 02:20 PM September 08, 2014

Former Justice secretary Raul Gonzalez. AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Raul M. Gonzalez, Justice Secretary during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, passed away Sunday evening from a lingering ailment. He was 83 years old.

While he was known as the outspoken and fiery head of the Department of Justice, Gonzalez was also defined by his other contributions in the legal profession and the government.


1. Gonzalez’ career in public service spanned five decades while he served in various government positions in different capacities.

Hailing from Iloilo province, Gonzalez was born to a political family. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from University of San Agustin in Iloilo as a Rector’s scholar and his Bachelor of Laws degree from University of Santo Tomas as one of the Top 10 students in his graduating class.


He passed the 1955 Bar examination with a grade of 99 percent in Remedial Law and a grade of 95 percent in International Law. Gonzalez also topped the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAGO) examinations.

Gonzalez later became a professor in various universities before he was tapped as Legal Assistant to the Governor of Iloilo in 1960 and Senior Legal Assistant to the Mayor of Manila in 1961. He later served as a consultant to the House of Representatives and the Senate, Tanodbayan-Ombudsman, and congressman of the lone district of Iloilo City from 1999 to 2004 before his appointment as the secretary of justice for the Arroyo administration.

2. He was a key figure in various high profile cases in Philippine history.

Gonzalez also served as a prosecutor in some legal cases which are pivotal to the nation’s history. He was a prosecutor in the Aquino-Galman double murder cases.

He also chaired the fact-finding mission of the Escalante Massacre in 1985, which claimed 30 lives.

Also, he was also one of the prosecutors in the impeachment case against former president and now Manila mayor Joseph Estrada. This saw Gonzalez lead the prosecution in the third impeachment article which states that Estrada betrayed the public trust “when he unduly intervened in the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of a presidential crony.”

3. Gonzalez was once suspended as a lawyer due to ignorance of the law.


In Zaldivar vs. Gonzalez (G.R. Nos. 79690-707), the Supreme Court ruled that Gonzalez is guilty of contempt when Gonzalez said that “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. The statement was in connection with the temporary restraining order granted by the Supreme Court in favor of then Antique governor Enrique Zaldivar which challenged the capacity of the Tanodbayan to investigate graft cases against him.

In 1989, the Supreme Court suspended him indefinitely but was reinstated four years later.

4. He was once involved in a vote-buying scandal.

In 2007, Gonzalez confirmed that he offered P10,000 each for 180 barangay (village) captains in Iloilo City to ensure the victory of senatorial candidates of the administration in the 2007 elections.  He said that it was a “prize if they [village captains] worked for the sweep”.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines asked for the suspension of Gonzalez for one year due to this allegation. He was not suspended.

5. Gonzalez was given a second life by his driver.

When Gonzalez’s health deteriorated in 2007, his driver, Felicito Gunay, gave one of his kidneys in an attempt to prolong the former justice secretary’s life. Gunay said that his family has served the Gonzalez family “for generations.”

Sources: lawphil.net, Inquirer archives


Ex-Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez dies at 83

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