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FIRST DIVISION

FELICITAS S. QUIAMBAO, Adm. Case No. 6708


Complainant, (CBD Case No. 01-874)

Present:

DAVIDE, JR., C.J.,
(Chairman),
- versus - QUISUMBING,
SANTIAGO,
CARPIO, and
AZCUNA, JJ.

ATTY. NESTOR A. BAMBA, Promulgated:
Respondent.
August 25, 2005

X- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -X

RESOLUTION


DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:

We are aware of the hapless fact that there are not enough
lawyers to serve an exploding population. This unfortunate state of
affairs, however, will not seize this Court from exercising its
disciplinary power over lawyers culpable of serious indiscretions.
The incidence of public force must be deployed to bear upon the
community to eventually forge a legal profession that provides
quality, ethical, accessible, and cost -effective legal service to our
people and whose members are willing and able to answer the call to
public service.

In this administrative case for disbarment, complainant
Felicitas S. Quiambao charges respondent Atty. Nestor A. Bamba with
violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility for representing
conflicting interests when the latter filed a case against her while he
was at that time representing her in another case, and for committing
other acts of disloyalty and double-dealing.

From June 2000 to January 2001, the complainant was the
president and managing director of Allied Investigation Bureau, Inc.
(AIB), a family-owned corporation engaged in providing security and
investigation services. She avers that she procured the legal services
of the respondent not only for the corporate affairs of AIB but also
for her personal case. Particularly, the respondent acted as her
counsel of record in an ejectment case against Spouses Santiago and
Florita Torroba filed by her on 29 December 2000 before the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Paraaque City, which was
docketed as Civil Case No. 11928. She paid attorney s fees for
respondent s legal services in that case.
[ 1]
About six months after she
resigned as AIB president, or on 14 June 2001, the respondent filed
on behalf of AIB a complaint for replevin and damages against her
before the MeTC of Quezon City for the purpose of recovering from
her the car of AIB assigned to her as a service vehicle. This he did
without withdrawing as counsel of record in the ejectment case,
which was then still pending.
[ 2]


Apart from the foregoing litigation matter, the complainant, in
her Position Paper, charges the respondent with acts of disloy alty
and double-dealing. She avers that the respondent proposed to her
that she organize her own security agency and that he would assist
her in its organization, causing her to resign as president of AIB.
The respondent indeed assisted her in December 2000 in the
formation of another security agency, Quiambao Risk Management
Specialists, Inc. , (QRMSI), which was later registered under
complainant s name, with the respondent as a silent partner
represented by his associate Atty. Gerardo P. Hernandez. The
respondent was paid attorney s fees for his legal services in
organizing and incorporating QRMSI. He also planned to steal or
pirate some of the more important clients of AIB. While serving as
legal counsel for AIB and a silent partner of QRMSI, he convinced
complainant s brother Leodegario Quiambao to organize another
security agency, San Esteban Security Services, Inc. (SESSI) where he
(the respondent) served as its incorporator, director, and president.
The respondent and Leodegario then illegally diverted the funds of
AIB to fund the incorporation of SESSI, and likewise planned to
eventually close down the operations of AIB and transfer the business
to SESSI.
[ 3]


For his part, the respondent admits that he represented the
complainant in the aforementioned ejectment case and later
represented AIB in the replevin case against her. He, however,
denies that he was the personal lawyer of the complainant , and
avers that he was made to believe that it was part of his function as
counsel for AIB to handle even the personal cases of its officers.
Even assuming that the complainant confided to him privileged
information about her legal interests, the eject ment case and the
replevin case are unrelated cases involving different issues and
parties and, therefore, the privileged information which might have
been gathered from one case would have no use in the other. At any
rate, it was the complainant herself who insisted that he stay as her
counsel despite the perceived differences among her, her brother,
and AIB over the motor vehicle subject of the replevin case. The
complainant even asked him to assist her in her monetary claims
against AIB.
[ 4]


The respondent also denies the charge raised by the
complainant in her position paper that he agreed to be a silent
partner of QRMSI through his nominee, Atty. Gerardo P. Hernandez,
who was his former law partner. He declined complainant s offer to
assume that role and suggested Atty. Hernandez in his place; thus,
375 shares of stock were registered in Atty. Hernandez s name as
consideration of his (Atty. Hernandez s) legal services as corporate
secretary and legal counsel of QRMSI. The respondent also denies
that he convinced complainant s brother Leodegario to organize
another security agency and that the funds of AIB were unlawfully
diverted to SESSI. It was to complement the business of AIB, which
was then in danger of collapse, that SESSI was established.
Leodegario s wife and her son have the effective control over SESSI.
Respondent s subscribed shareholdings in SESSI comprise only 800
shares out of 12, 500 subscri bed shares. He serves AIB and SESSI in
different capacities: as legal counsel of the former and as president
of the latter.
[ 5]


In his Report and Recommendation
[ 6]
dated 31 August 2004, the
investigating commissioner of the IBP found the respondent guilty of
representing conflicting interests based on the following undisputed
facts: first, the respondent was still complainant s counsel of record
in the ejectment case when he filed, as legal counsel of AIB, the
replevin case against her; and second, the respondent was still the
legal counsel of AIB when he advised the compl ainant on the
incorporation of another security agency, QRMSI, and recommended
his former law partner, Atty. Gerardo Hernandez, to be its corporate
secretary and legal counsel and also when he conferred with
Leodegario to organize another security agency, SESSI, where the
respondent became an incorporator, stockholder, and president.
Thus, the investigating commissioner recommended that the
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year.

The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the
investigating commissioner s report and recommendation, but
reduced the penalty from one year to a stern reprimand.
[ 7]


The issue in this case is whether the respondent is guilty of
misconduct for representing conflicting interests in contravention of
the basic tenets of the legal profession.

Rule 15. 03, Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
provides: A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except
by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of
the facts. This prohibition is founded on principles of public policy
and good taste.
[ 8]
In the course of a lawyer-client relationship, the
lawyer learns all the facts connected with the client s case, including
the weak and strong points of the case. The nature of that
relationship is, therefore, one of trust and confidence of the highest
degree.
[ 9]
It behooves lawyers not only to keep inviolate the client s
confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and
double-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust
their secrets to their lawyers, which is of paramount importance in
the administration of justice.
[ 10]



In broad terms, lawyers are deemed to represent conflicting
interests when, in behalf of one client, it is their duty to contend for
that which duty to another client requires them to oppose.
[ 11]

Developments in jurisprudence have particularized various tests to
determine whether a lawyer s conduct lies within this proscription.
One test is whether a lawyer is duty-bound to fight for an issue or
claim in behalf of one client and, at the same time, to oppose that
claim for the other client.
[ 12]
Thus, if a lawyer s argument for one
client has to be opposed by that same lawyer in arguing for the other
client, there is a violation of the rule.

Another test of inconsistency of interests is whether the
acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the
lawyer s duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite
suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of
that duty.
[ 13]
Still another test is whether the lawyer would be called
upon in the new relation to use against a former client any
confidential information acquired through their connection or
previous employment.
[ 14]


The proscription against representation of conflicting interests
applies to a situation where the opposing parties are present clients
in the same action or in an unrelated action. It is of no moment that
the lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that
which the lawyer has to oppose for the other client, or that there
would be no occasion to use the confidential information acquired
from one to the disadvantage of the other as the two actions are
wholly unrelated. It is enough that the opposing parties in one case,
one of whom would lose the suit, are present clients and the nature
or conditions of the lawyer s respective retainers with each of them
would affect the performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to both
clients.
[ 15]


In this case, it is undisputed that at the time the respondent
filed the replevin case on behalf of AIB he was still the counsel of
record of the complainant in the pending ejectment case. We do not
sustain respondent s theory that since the ejectment case and the
replevin case are unrelated cases fraught with different issues,
parties, and subject matters, the prohibition is inapplicable. His
representation of opposing clients in both cases, though unrelated,
obviously constitutes conflict of interest or, at the least, invites
suspicion of double-dealing. While the respondent may assert that
the complainant expressly consented to his continued representation
in the ejectment case, the respondent failed to show that he fully
disclosed the facts to both his clients and he failed to present any
written consent of the complainant and AIB as required under Rule
15. 03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Neither can we accept respondent s plea that he was duty-
bound to handle all the cases referred to him by AIB, including the
personal cases of its officers which had no connection to its corporate
affairs. That the representation of conflicti ng interest is in good
faith and with honest intention on the part of the lawyer does not
make the prohibition inoperative.
[ 16]
Moreover, lawyers are not
obliged to act either as an adviser or advocate for every person who
may wish to become their client. They have the right to decline such
employment, subject, however, to Canon 14 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
[ 17]
Although there are instances where
lawyers cannot decline representation,
[ 1 8]
they cannot be made to
labor under conflict of interest between a present client and a
prospective one.
[ 19]


Additionally, in his position paper, the respondent alleges that
when the complainant invited the respondent to join QRMSI, he
vehemently refused to join them due to his perception
of conflicting interest as he was then (and still is at present) the
Legal Counsel of AIB, which is also a security agency.
[ 20]
To bolster
his allegation, he invoked the affidavits of complainant s witnesses
which contained statements of his apprehension of conflict of
interest should he join QRMSI.
[ 21]


Surprisingly, despite his apprehension or awareness of a
possible conflict of interest should he join QRMSI, the respondent
later allowed himself to become an incorporator, stockholder, and
president of SESSI, which is also a security agency. He justified his
act by claiming that that while both AIB and SESSI are engaged in
security agency business, he is serving in different capaci ties. As the
in-house legal counsel of AIB, he serves its legal interest the
parameter of which evolves around legal matters such as protecting
the legal rights and interest of the corporation; conducting an
investigation or a hearing on violations of company rules and
regulations of their office employees and security guards; sending
demand letters in collection cases; and representing the corporation
in any litigation for or against it. And as president of SESSI, he
serves the operational aspects of t he business such as how does it
operate[], how much do they price their services, what kind or how
do they train[] their security guards, how they solicit clients. Thus,
conflict of interest is far-fetched. Moreover, the respondent argues
that the compl ainant, not being a stockholder of AIB and SESSI, has
no right to question his alleged conflict of interest in serving the two
security agencies.
[ 22]


While the complainant lacks personality to question the alleged
conflict of interests on the part of the respondent in serving both
security agencies, we cannot just turn a blind eye to respondent s
act. It must be noted that the proscription against representation of
conflicting interests finds application where the conflicting interests
arise with respect to the same general matter however slight the
adverse interest may be. It applies even if the conflict pertains to the
lawyer s private activity or in the performance of a function in a non-
professional capacity.
[ 23]
In the process of determining whether there
is a conflict of interest, an important criterion is probability, not
certainty, of conflict.

Since the respondent has financial or pecuniary interest in
SESSI, which is engaged in a business competing with his client s,
and, more importantly, he occupies the highest position in SESSI,
one cannot help entertaining a doubt on his loyalty to his client AIB.
This kind of situation passes the second test of conflict of interest,
which is whether the acceptance of a new relationship would prevent
the full discharge of the lawyer s duty of undivided fidelity and
loyalty to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-
dealing in the performance of that duty. The close relationship of the
majority stockholders of both companies does not negate the conflict
of interest. Neither does hi s protestation that his shareholding in
SESSI is a mere pebble among the sands.

In view of all of the foregoing, we find the respondent guilty of
serious misconduct for representing conflicting interests.

Furthermore, it must be noted that Republic Act No. 5487,
otherwise known as the Private Security Agency Law, prohibits a
person from organizing or having an interest in more than one
security agency. From respondent s position paper, it can be culled
that Leodegario Quiambao is the president and managing director of
AIB, holding 60% of the outstanding shares; while his four other
siblings who are permanent residents in the United States own the
remaining 40%.
[ 24]
This prohibition notwithstanding, the respondent
organized SESSI, with Leodegario s wife and son as majority
stockholders holding about 70% of the outstanding shares and with
him (the respondent), as well as the rest of the stockholders, holding
minimal shares.
[ 25]
In doing so, the respondent virtually allowed
Leodegario and the latter s wife to violate or circumvent the law by
having an interest in more than one security agency. It must be
noted that in the affidavit
[ 26]
of Leodegario s wife, she mentioned of
their conjugal property. In the absence of evidence to the contrary,
the property relation of Leodegario and his wife can be presumed to
be that of conjugal partnership of gains; hence, the majority shares
in AIB and SESSI are the conjugal propert y of Leodegario and his
wife, thereby placing themselves in possession of an interest in more
than one security agency in contravention of R. A. No. 5487. Thus,
in organizing SESSI, the respondent violated Rule 1. 02, Canon 1 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates lawyers to
promote respect for the law and refrain from counseling or abetting
activities aimed at defiance of the law.

As to the recommendation that the penalty be reduced from a
suspension of one year to a stern warning, we find the same to be
without basis. We are disturbed by the reduction made by the IBP
Board of Governors of the penalty recommended by the investigating
commissioner without clearly and distinctly stating the facts and
reasons on which that reduction is based.

Section 12(a), Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court reads in
part as follows:

SEC. 12. Review and decision by the Board of
Governors.

(a) Every case heard by an investigator shall be
reviewed by the IBP Board of Governors upon the record
and evidence transmitted to it by the Investigator with
his report. The decision of the Board upon such review
shall be in writing and shall clearly and distinctly state
the facts and the reasons on which it is based.


We may consider the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors
as a memorandum decision adopting by reference the report of the
investigating commissioner. However, we look with disfavor the
change in the recommended penalty without any explanation
therefor. Again, we remind the IBP Board of Governors of the
importance of the requirement to announce in plain terms its legal
reasoning, since the requirement that its decision in disciplinary
proceedings must state the facts and the reasons on which its
decision is based is akin to what is required of the decisions of courts
of record.
[ 27]
The reasons for handing down a penalty occupy no
lesser station than any other portion of the ratio.

In similar cases where the respondent was found guilty of
representing conflicting interests a penalty ranging from one to three
years suspension was imposed.
[ 28]
In this case, we find that a
suspension from the practice of law for one year is warranted.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nestor A. Bamba is hereby
held GUILTY of violation of Rule 15. 03 of Canon 15 and Rule 1.02 of
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He
is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of ONE (1)
YEAR effective from receipt of this Resolution, with a warning that a
similar infraction in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to the Office of the
Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

SO ORDERED.









SECOND DIVISION
[A.C. No. 2040. March 4, 1998]
IMELDA A. NAKPIL, complainant, vs. ATTY. CARLOS J.
VALDES, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PUNO, J .:
The friendship of JOSE NAKPIL and respondent CARLOS J. VALDES dates back
to the 50s during their schooldays in De La Salle and the Philippine Law School. Their
closeness extended to their families and respondent became the business consultant,
lawyer and accountant of the Nakpils.
In 1965, Jose Nakpil became interested in purchasing a summer residence in
Moran Street, Baguio City.
[1]
For lack of funds, he requested respondent to purchase the
Moran property for him. They agreed that respondent would keep the property in thrust
for the Nakpils until the latter could buy it back. Pursuant to their agreement, respondent
obtained two (2) loans from a bank (in the amounts of P65,000.00 and P75,000.00)
which he used to purchase and renovate the property. Title was then issued in
respondents name.
It was the Nakpils who occupied the Moran summer house. When Jose Nakpil died
on July 8, 1973, respondent acted as the legal counsel and accountant of his widow,
complainant IMELDA NAKPIL. On March 9, 1976, respondents law firm, Carlos J.
Valdes & Associates, handled the proceeding for the settlement of Joses estate.
Complainant was appointed as administratix of the estate.
The ownership of the Moran property became an issue in the intestate proceedings.
It appears that respondent excluded the Moran property from the inventory of Joses
estate. On February 13, 1978, respondent transferred his title to the Moran property to
his company, the Caval Realty Corporation.
On March 29, 1979, complainant sought to recover the Moran property by filing with
the then Court of First Instance (CFI) of Baguio City an action for reconveyance with
damages against respondent and his corporation. In defense, respondent claimed
absolute ownership over the property and denied that a trust was created over it.
During the pendency of the action for reconveyance, complainant filed this
administrative case to disbar the respondent. She charged that respondent violated
professional ethics when he:
I. Assigned to his family corporation the Moran property (Pulong
Maulap) which belonged to the estate he was settling as its
lawyer and auditor.
II. Excluded the Moran property from the inventory of real estate
properties he prepared for a client-estate and, at the same
time, charged the loan secured to purchase the said excluded
property as a liability of the estate, all for the purpose of
transferring the title to the said property to his family
corporation.
III. Prepared and defended monetary claims against the estate
that retained him as its counsel and auditor.
[2]

On the first charge, complainant alleged that she accepted respondents offer to
serve as lawyer and auditor to settle her husbands estate. Respondents law firm then
filed a petition for settlement of the estate of the deceased Nakpil but did not include the
Moran property in the estates inventory. Instead, respondent transferred the property to
his corporation, Caval Realty Corporation, and title was issued in its name. Complainant
accused respondent of maliciously appropriating the property in trust knowing that it did
not belong to him. She claimed that respondent has expressly acknowledged that the
said property belonged to the late Nakpil in his correspondences
[3]
with the Baguio City
Treasurer and the complainant.
On the second charge, complainant alleged that respondents auditing firm (C. J.
Valdes and Co., CPAs) excluded the Moran property from the inventory of her
husbands estate, yet included in the claims against the estate the amounts
of P65,000.00 and P75,000.00, which respondent represented as her husbands loans
applied probably for the purchase of a house and lot in Moran Street, Baguio City.
As to the third charge, complainant alleged that respondents law firm (Carlos J.
Valdes and Associates) filed the petition for the settlement of her husbands estate in
court, while respondents auditing firm (C. J. Valdes & Co., CPAs) acted as accountant
of both the estate and two of its creditors. She claimed that respondent represented
conflicting interests when his accounting firm prepared the list of claims of creditors
Angel Nakpil and ENORN, Inc. against her husbands estate which was represented by
respondents law firm. Complainant averred that there is no distinction between
respondents law and auditing firms as respondent is the senior and controlling partner
of both firms which are housed in the same building.
We required respondent to answer the charges against him. In
hisANSWER,
[4]
respondent initially asserted that the resolution of the first and second
charges against him depended on the result of the pending action in the CFI for
reconveyance which involved the issue of ownership of the Moran property.
On the merit of the first charge, respondent reiterated his defense in the
reconveyance case that he did not hold the Moran property in trust for the Nakpils as he
is its absolute owner. Respondent explained that the Nakpils never bought back the
Moran property from him, hence, the property remained to be his and was rightly
excluded from the inventory of Nakpils estate.
As to the second charge, respondent denied preparing the list of claims against the
estate which included his loans of P65,000.00 and P75,000.00 for the purchase and
renovation of the Moran property. In charging his loans against the estate, he stressed
that the list drawn up by his accounting firm merely stated that the loans in respondents
name were applied probably for the purchase of the house and lot in Moran Street,
Baguio City. Respondent insisted that this was not an admission that the Nakpils
owned the property as the phrase probably for the purchase did not imply a
consummated transaction but a projected acquisition.
Respondent also disclaimed knowledge or privity in the preparation of a letter
(Exhibit H) of his accounting firm to the Baguio City treasurer remitting the real estate
taxes for the Moran property on behalf of the Nakpils. He contended that the letter could
be a mere error or oversight.
Respondent averred that it was complainant who acknowledged that they did not
own the Moran property for: (1) complainants February 1979 Statement of Assets and
Liabilities did not include the said property, and; (2) complainant, as administratrix,
signed the Balance Sheet of the Estate where the Moran property was not mentioned.
Respondent admitted that complainant retained the services of his law and
accounting firms in the settlement of her husbands estate.
[5]
However, he pointed out
that he has resigned from his law and accounting firms as early as 1974. He alleged
that it was Atty. Percival Cendaa (from the law firm Carlos Valdes & Associates) who
filed the inestate proceedings in court in 1976.
As to the third charge, respondent denied there was a conflict of interest when his
law firm represented the estate in the inestate proceedings while his accounting firm (C.
J. Valdes & Co., CPAs) served as accountant of the estate and prepared the claims of
creditors Angel Nakpil and ENORN, Inc. against the estate. He proffered the following
reasons for his thesis: First, the two claimants were closely related to the late Nakpil.
Claimant ENORN, Inc. is a family corporation of the Nakpils of which the late Nakpil was
the President. Claimant Angel Nakpil is a brother of the late Nakpil who, upon the
latters death, became the President of ENORN, Inc. These two claimants had been
clients of his law and accounting firms even during the lifetime of Jose Nakpil. Second,
his alleged representation of conflicting interests was with the knowledge and consent
of complainant as administratrix. Third, there was no conflict of interests between the
estate and the claimants for they had forged a modus vivendi, i.e., that the subject
claims would be satisfied only after full payment of the principal bank creditors.
Complainant, as administratrix, did not controvert the claims of Angel Nakpil and
ENORN, Inc. Complainant has started paying off the claims of Angel Nakpil and
ENORN, Inc. after satisfying the banks claims. Complainant did not assert that their
claims caused prejudice to the estate. Fourth, the work of Carlos J. Valdes and Co. as
common auditor redounded to the benefit of the estate for the firm prepared a true and
accurate amount of the claim. Fifth, respondent resigned from his law and accounting
firms as early as August 15, 1974.
[6]
He rejoined his accounting firm several years later.
He submitted as proof the SECs certification of the filing of his accounting firm of an
Amended Articles of Partnership. Thus, it was not he but Atty. Percival Cendaa, from
the firm Carlos J. Valdes and Associates, who filed the intestate proceedings in court.
On the other hand, the claimants were represented by their own counsel Atty. Enrique
O. Chan. Sixth, respondent alleged that in the remote possibility that he committed a
breach of professional ethics, he committed such misconduct not as a lawyer but as
an accountant who acted as common auditor of the estate and its creditors. Hence, he
should be held accountable in another forum.
On November 12, 1979, complainant submitted her REPLY.
[7]
She maintained that
the pendency of the reconveyance case is not prejudicial to the investigation of her
disbarment complaint against respondent for the issue in the latter is not the ownership
of the Moran property but the ethics and morality of respondents conduct as a CPA-
lawyer.
Complainant alleged that respondents Annexes to his Reply (such as the
Statement of Assets & Liability of the Nakpils and the Balance Sheet of the Estate)
which showed that complainant did not claim ownership of the Moran property were all
prepared by C. J. Valdes and Co. as accountant of the estate of Jose Nakpil and filed
with the intestate court by C. J. Valdes and Associates as counsel for the estate. She
averred that these Annexes were not proofs that respondent owned the Moran property
but were part of respondents scheme to remove the property from the estate and
transfer it to his family corporation. Complainant alleged that she signed the documents
because of the professional counsel of respondent and his firm that her signature
thereon was required. Complainant charged respondent with greed for coveting the
Moran property on the basis of defects in the documents he himself prepared.
Complainant urged that respondent cannot disown unfavorable documents (the list
of claims against the estate and the letter regarding Nakpils payments of realty tax on
the Moran property) which were prepared by his law and accounting firms and invoke
other documents prepared by the same firms which are favorable to him. She averred
that respondent must accept responsibility not just for some, but for all the
representations and communications of his firms.
Complainant refuted respondents claim that he resigned from his firms from March
9, 1976 to several years later. She alleged that none of the documents submitted as
evidence referred to his resignation from his law firm. The documents merely
substantiated his resignation from his accounting firm.
In his REJOINDER,
[8]
respondent insisted that complainant cannot hold him liable
for representing the interests of both the estate and the claimants without showing that
his action prejudiced the estate. He urged that it is not per se anomalous for
respondents accounting firm to act as accountant for the estate and its creditors. He
reiterated that he is not subject to the jurisdiction of this Court for he acted not as
lawyer, but as accountant for both the estate and its claimants.
He alleged that his accounting firm merely prepared the list of claims of the creditors
Angel Nakpil and ENORN, Inc. Their claims were not defended by his accounting or law
firm but by Atty. Enrique Chan. He averred that his law firm did not oppose these claims
as they were legitimate and not because they were prepared by his accounting firm. He
emphasized that there was no allegation that the claims were fraudulent or excessive
and that the failure of respondents law firm to object to these claims damaged the
estate.
In our January 21, 1980 Resolution,
[9]
we deferred further action on the disbarment
case until after resolution of the action for reconveyance between the parties involving
the issue of ownership by the then CFI of Baguio. Complainant moved for
reconsideration on the ground that the issue of ownership pending with the CFI was not
prejudicial to her complaint which involved an entirely different issue, i.e., the unethical
acts of respondent as a CPA-lawyer. We granted her motion and referred the
administrative case to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for investigation, report
and recommendation.
[10]

In 1983, the CFI of Baguio dismissed the action for reconveyance. The trial court
ruled that respondent held the Moran property in trust for the Nakpils but found that
complainant waived her right over it.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court. The appellate court held
that respondent was the absolute owner of the Moran property. The Decision was
elevated to this Court.
On February 18, 1986, during the pendency of complainants appeal to this Court,
the OSG submitted its Report
[11]
on the disbarment complaint. The OSG relied heavily
on the decision of the Court of Appeals then pending review by this Court. The OSG
found that respondent was not put on notice of complainants claim over the property. It
opined that there was no trust agreement created over the property and that respondent
was the absolute owner thereof. Thus, it upheld respondents right to transfer title to his
family corporation. It also found no conflict of interests as the claimants were related to
the late Jose Nakpil. The OSG recommended the dismissal of the administrative case.
Prefatorily, we note that the case at bar presents a novel situation as it involves the
disbarment of a CPA-lawyer for his demeanor in his accounting profession and law
practice in connection with the property of his client.
As a rule, a lawyer is not barred from dealing with his client but the business
transaction must be characterized with utmost honesty and good faith.
[12]
The measure
of good faith which an attorney is required to exercise in his dealings with his client is a
much higher standard than is required in business dealings where the parties trade at
arms length.
[13]
Business transactions between an attorney and his client are
disfavored and discouraged by the policy of the law. Hence, courts carefully watch
these transactions to assure that no advantage is taken by a lawyer over his client. This
rule is founded on public policy for, by virtue of his office, an attorney is in an easy
position to take advantage of the credulity and ignorance of his client. Thus, no
presumption of innocence or improbability of wrongdoing is considered in an attorneys
favor.
[14]

In the case at bar, we cannot subscribe to the findings of the OSG in its Report.
These findings were based mainly on the decision of the Court of Appeals in the action
for reconveyance which was reversed by this Court in 1993.
[15]

As to the first two charges, we are bound by the factual findings of this Court in the
aforementioned reconveyance case.
[16]
It is well-established that respondent offered to
the complainant the services of his law and accounting firms by reason of their close
relationship dating as far back as the 50s. She reposed her complete trust in
respondent who was the lawyer, accountant and business consultant of her late
husband. Respondent and the late Nakpil agreed that the former would purchase the
Moran property and keep it in trust for the latter. In violation of the trust agreement,
respondent claimed absolute ownership over the property and refused to sell the
property to complainant after the death of Jose Nakpil. To place the property beyond the
reach of complainant and the intestate court, respondent later transferred it to his
corporation.
Contrary to the findings of the OSG, respondent initially acknowledged and
respected the trust nature of the Moran property. Respondents bad faith in transferring
the property to his family corporation is well discussed in this Courts Decision,
[17]
thus:
x x x Valdes (herein respondent) never repudiated the trust during
the lifetime of the late Jose Nakpil. On the contrary, he expressly
recognized it. x x x (H)e repudiated the trust when (he)
excluded Pulong Maulap from the list of properties of the late Jose
Nakpil submitted to the intestate court in 1973. x x x
xxx
The fact that there was no transfer of ownership intended by the
parties x x x can be bolstered by Exh. I-2, an annex to the claim filed
against the estate proceedings of the late Jose Nakpil by his brother,
Angel Nakpil, which was prepared by Carlos J. Valdes & Co., the
accounting firm of herein respondent. Exhibit I-2, which is a list of
the application of the proceeds of various FUB loans contracted as
of 31 December 1973 by the late Jose Nakpil, x x x contains the two
(2) loans contracted in the name of respondent. If ownership
of Pulong Maulap was already transferred or ceded to Valdes,
these loans should not have been included in the list.
Indeed, as we view it, what the parties merely agreed to under the
arrangement outlined in Exh. J was that respondent Valdes would
x x x take over the total loan ofP140,000.00 and pay all of the
interests due on the notes while the heirs of the late Jose Nakpil
would continue to live in the disputed property for five (5) years
without remuneration save for regular maintenance expenses.
This does not mean, however, that if at the end of the five-year
period petitioner (Nakpil) failed to reimburse Valdes for his
advances, x x x Valdes could already automatically assume
ownership of Pulong Maulap. Instead, the remedy of respondents
Carlos J. Valdes and Caval Realty Corporation was to proceed
against the estate of the late Jose M. Nakpil and/or the property
itself. (emphasis supplied)
In the said reconveyance case, we further ruled that complainants documentary
evidence (Exhibits H, J and L), which she also adduced in this administrative case,
should estop respondent from claiming that he bought the Moran property for himself,
and not merely in trust for Jose Nakpil.
[18]

It ought to follow that respondents act of excluding Moran property from the estate
which his law firm was representing evinces a lack of fidelity to the cause of his client. If
respondent truly believed that the said property belonged to him, he should have at
least informed complainant of his adverse claim. If they could not agree on its
ownership, respondent should have formally presented his claim in the intestate
proceedings instead of transferring the property to his own corporation and concealing it
from complainant and the judge in the estate proceedings. Respondents misuse of his
legal expertise to deprive his client of the Moran property is clearly unethical.
To make matters worse, respondent, through his accounting firm, charged the two
loans of P65,000.00 and P75,000.00 as liability of the estate, after said loans were
obtained by respondent for the purchase and renovation of the property which he
claimed for himself. Respondent seeks to exculpate himself from this charge by
disclaiming knowledge or privity in the preparation of the list of the estates liabilities. He
theorizes that the inclusion of the loans must have been a mere error or oversight of his
accounting firm. It is clear that the information as to how these two loans should be
treated could have only come from respondent himself as the said loans were in his
name. Hence, the supposed error of the accounting firm in charging respondents loans
against the estate could not have been committed without respondents participation.
Respondent wanted to have his cake and eat it too and subordinated the interest of
his client to his own pecuniary gain. Respondent violated Canon 17 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer owes fidelity to his clients
cause and enjoins him to be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him.
As regards the third charge, we hold that respondent is guilty of representing
conflicting interests. It is generally the rule, based on sound public policy, that an
attorney cannot represent adverse interests. It is highly improper to represent both sides
of an issue.
[19]
The proscription against representation of conflicting interests finds
application where the conflicting interests arise with respect to the same general
matter
[20]
and is applicable however slight such adverse interest may be. It applies
although the attorneys intentions and motives were honest and he acted in good
faith.
[21]
However, representation of conflicting interests may be allowed where the
parties consent to the representation, after full disclosure of facts. Disclosure alone is
not enough for the clients must give their informed consent to such representation. The
lawyer must explain to his clients the nature and extent of conflict and the possible
adverse effect must be thoroughly understood by his clients.
[22]

In the case at bar, there is no question that the interests of the estate and that of it
creditors are adverse to each other. Respondents accounting firm prepared the list of
assets and liabilities of the estate and, at the same time, computed the claims of two
creditors of the estate. There is clearly a conflict between the interest of the estate
which stands as the debtor, and that of the two claimants who are creditors of the
estate. In fact, at one instance, respondents law firm questioned the claims of creditor
Angel Nakpil against the estate.
To exculpate himself, respondent denies that he represented complainant in the
intestate proceedings. He points out that it was one Atty. Percival Cendaa, from his
law firm Carlos J. Valdes & Associates, who filed the intestate case in court. However,
the fact that he did not personally file the case and appear in court is beside the point.
As established in the records of this case and in the reconveyance case,
[23]
respondent
acted as counsel and accountant of complainant after the death of Jose Nakpil.
Respondents defense that he resigned from his law and accounting firms as early as
1974 (or two years before the filing of the intestate case) is unworthy of merit.
Respondents claim of resignation from his law firm is not supported by any
documentary proof. The documents on record
[24]
only show respondents resignation
from his accounting firm in 1972 and 1974. Even these documents reveal that
respondent returned to his accounting firm on July 1, 1976 and as of 1978, the intestate
proceedings for the settlement of Joses estate had not yet been terminated. It does not
escape us that when respondent transferred the Moran property to his corporation on
February 13, 1978, the intestate proceedings was still pending in court. Thus, the
succession of events shows that respondent could not have been totally ignorant of the
proceedings in the intestate case.
Respondent claims that complainant knew that his law firm Carlos J. Valdes &
Associates was the legal counsel of the estate
[25]
and his accounting firm, C.J. Valdes &
Co., CPAs, was the auditor of both the estate and the two claimants against it.
[26]
The
fact, however, that complainant, as administratrix, did not object to the set-up cannot be
taken against her as there is nothing in the records to show that respondent or his law
firm explained the legal situation and its consequences to complainant. Thus, her
silence regarding the arrangement does not amount to an acquiescence based on an
informed consent.
We also hold that the relationship of the claimants to the late Nakpil does not
negate the conflict of interest. When a creditor files a claim against an estate, his
interest is per se adverse to the estate. As correctly pointed out by complainant, if she
had a claim against her husbands estate, her claim is still adverse and must be filed in
the intestate proceedings.
Prescinding from these premises, respondent undoubtedly placed his law firm in a
position where his loyalty to his client could be doubted. In the estate proceedings, the
duty of respondents law firm was to contest the claims of these two creditors but which
claims were prepared by respondents accounting firm. Even if the claims were valid
and did not prejudice the estate, the set-up is still undesirable. The test to determine
whether there is a conflict of interest in the representation is probability, not certainty of
conflict. It was respondents duty to inhibit either of his firms from said proceedings to
avoid the probability of conflict of interest.
Respondent advances the defense that assuming there was conflict of interest, he
could not be charged before this Court as his alleged misconduct pertains to his
accounting practice.
We do not agree. Respondent is a CPA-lawyer who is actively practicing both
professions. He is the senior partner of his law and accounting firms which carry his
name. In the case at bar, complainant is not charging respondent with breach of ethics
for being the common accountant of the estate and the two creditors. He is charged for
allowing his accounting firm to represent two creditors of the estate and, at the same
time, allowing his law firm to represent the estate in the proceedings where these claims
were presented. The act is a breach of professional ethics and undesirable as it placed
respondents and his law firms loyalty under a cloud of doubt. Even granting that
respondents misconduct refers to his accountancy practice, it would not prevent this
Court from disciplining him as a member of the Bar. The rule is settled that a lawyer
may be suspended or disbarred for ANY misconduct, even if it pertains to his private
activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or
good demeanor.
[27]
Possession of good moral character is not only a prerequisite to
admission to the bar but also a continuing requirement to the practice of law.
Public confidence in law and lawyers may be eroded by the irresponsible and
improper conduct of a member of the bar. Thus, a lawyer should determine his conduct
by acting in a manner that would promote public confidence in the integrity of the legal
profession. Members of the bar are expected to always live up to the standards
embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility as the relationship between an
attorney and his client is highly fiduciary in nature and demands utmost fidelity and good
faith.
[28]
In the case at bar, respondent exhibited less than full fidelity to his duty to
observe candor, fairness and loyalty in his dealings and transactions with his clients.
[29]

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court finds respondent ATTY. CARLOS J. VALDES guilty
of misconduct. He is suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year
effective from receipt of this Decision, with a warning that a similar infraction shall be
dealt with more severely in the future.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts, as well as the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines and the Office of the Bar Confidant.
SO ORDERED.








Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

A.M. No. 936 July 25, 1975
FERMINA LEGASPI DAROY, LYDIA LEGASPI and AGRIPINO LEGASPI, complainants,
vs.
ATTORNEY RAMON CHAVES LEGASPI, respondent.

AQUINO, J .:
Fermina Legazpi-Daroy, Lydia Legaspi-Acha and Agripino Legaspi of Iligan City, in a verified
complaint dated March 10, 1970, charged Attorney Ramon Chaves Legaspi of Cagayan de Oro City
with malpractice for having misappropriated the sum of four thousand pesos which he had collected
for them. They prayed that the respondent be disbarred.
1
(He was 59 years old in 1974. He passed
the 1954 bar examinations with a rating of 75.75%).
The evidence shows that the complainants hired the respondent in May, 1962 to represent them in
the intestate proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the spouses Aquilino Gonzaga and Paz
Velez-Gonzaga. The complainants, together with their brother, Vivencio, who was abroad, were
adjudged as one of the six groups of heirs of the late Gonzaga spouses, their deceased mother,
Consuelo Gonzaga-Legaspi, being a daughter of the spouses. The heirs in a joint petition dated April
11, 1969, which the respondent signed as counsel for the complainants, agreed that the coconut
land left by the decedents would be divided into six equal parts, that the administrator be authorized
to sell the land, and that, after payment of the obligations of the estate, the net proceeds would be
distributed among the six groups of heirs. The probate court approved that agreement in its order of
April 29, 1969 (Spec. Proc. Nop. 640 of the Misamis Oriental CFI, Exh. A).
The land was sold. Fermina Legaspi-Daroy came to know of the sale only when the respondent
wrote a note dated November 28, 1969 to her father, Teofilo Legaspi, wherein he stated "that the
money we have deposited may be withdrawn on December 8, 1969 at 9:00 o'clock". The respondent
advised Teofilo Legaspito see him on that date so that the money could be withdrawn (Exh. B).
The complainants were not able to get the money on December 8 because the respondent on
December 7 sent to Mrs. Daroy a telegram countermanding his prior advice and directing here to go
to Cagayan de Oro City on December 10, a Wednesday, to receive the money (Exh. C). On
December 9, a certain Atty. Sugamo sent a handwritten note to Mrs. Daroy advising her not to go to
Cagayan de Oro City on December 10 because according to the respondent "his postdated checks
can be paid and/or collected either Thursday or Friday yet" (Exh. D).
In the afternoon of that same day, December 9, Mrs. Daroy received another note, this time from the
respondent himself, "Cousin Ramon". The note contained the disturbing intelligence that Mrs.
Daroy's "Cousin Ramon" had withdrawn the money amounting to P4,000 and had spent it. The
letter, a sort of extrajudicial confession or mea culpa on respondent's part, reads as follows (Exh. E):
Dear Fermina,
I wrote this letter with the hope that you will understand me. I have received
P4,000.00 our share in the case filed and is now in my custody.
Previous (sic) I have a case wherein I was forced to use our money to solve my
problem.
Now to pay the amount I have used, I sold my jeep to Mr. Ricarte Gorospe, an
Employee of the BIR here in Cag. But I am not paid as yet. So, I am waiting as he
will pay at 3:00 p.m. today and it's close as I have promised to give it on the 10th, I
mean our money.
Kindly help me, defer the giving you of the sum or at least until Thursday or Friday, I
bring it to you.
I know, my responsibility on this matter.
Thanks
Cousin
Ramon
It turned out that on October 20, 1969 the respondent, as to "counsel for Fermina Daroy et al.",
received from Deputy Provincial Sheriff Jose V. Yasay the said sum of P4,000 as "one (1) share in
participation of my clients Fermina Daroy et al. in connection with (the) order of Judge B. K.
Gorospe" in the aforementioned intestate proceeding. The respondent signed a receipt for that
amount (Exh. L-1). The sheriff paid to Attorneys Angel Quimpo, Leovigildo Tandog, Jr. and
Teogenes Velez, Jr. the respective shares of the other groups of heirs also in the sum of P4,000 for
each group. Those lawyers turned over the amounts withdrawn to their respective clients (Exh. L).
It is evident that the respondent, in writing on November 28, 1969 to Teofilo Legaspi that the money
deposited could be withdrawn on December 8, 1969, acted in bad faith. He had already withdrawn
the money before that date. He concealed that fact from the complainants.
Before the disbarment complaint was filed several demands were made upon the respondent to pay
to the complainants the amount which he had misappropriated. He repeatedly broke his promises to
make payment. As complainants' patience was already exhausted, they filed their complaint for
disbarment on March 13, 1970.
2

Atty. Alfredo R. Busico, the lawyer for the complainants, in a letter to this Court's Clerk of Court
dated May 26, 1970, expressed the hope that preferential attention would be given to the case. He
said that he had "reliable information from Cagayan de Oro City" that the respondent "has been
bragging that nothing will happen to this case" (p. 20, Rollo).1wph 1. t
The case was referred to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation. In 1973
he requested the City Fiscal of Iligan City to conduct the investigation. 3 After the investigation was
finished, the case was set for hearing. The respondent did not appear at the hearing.
Respondent Legaspi in his testimony admitted that he received the said sum of P4,000 as shown in
the receipt, Exhibit D dated October 20, 1969. He said that after receiving it he immediately wired
Teofilo Legaspi at Iligan City to see him (the respondent) in his office at Cagayan de Oro City so that
Teofilo Legaspi could tell him "the proper disposal" of that amount.
Teofilo Legaspi supposedly went to see him on October 21, 1969 and at their conference they
supposedly agreed that the sum of P700 would be deducted from the P4,000 to cover the expenses
which he (Legaspi) described as "expenses involved from the parties litigants, expenses seeking
evidence and other expenses relevant to the case" and "major expenses" in the case (sic); that his
attorney's fees would be equivalent "to a share of the petitioners", an agreement which was later
placed in formal form (referring to 1968 extrajudicial settlement attached to his answer); that the
balance of P3,300 would be divided into six equal parts (six because of the four Legaspi children,
the father Teofilo Legaspi and the lawyer Ramon C. Legaspi); that under such division each
participant would receive P412 each (P3,300 divided by six gives a quotient of P550 not P412), and
that he gave Teofilo the sum of P412. The respondent did not present any receipt to prove that
alleged payment.
He said that at first Teofilo Legaspi told him to keep the share of Vivencio Legaspi, who was abroad,
but at the end of October or the first week of November, 1969 Teofilo got from him (the respondent)
Vivencio's share. Again, the respondent did not ask Teofilo to sign a receipt for Vivencio's share.
After paying the shares of Teofilo and Vivencio, the balance of the amount left in respondent's
possession amounted to P2,476.
According to respondent's version, the complainants "refused consistently to receive" the said
balance from him because they wanted the full amount of P4,000. He said that he had already paid
to them the sum of P2,000 and that only the sum of P476 was left in his custody. He did not present
any receipt to prove the alleged payment of P2,000. He said that he could deliver that amount of
P476 to the complainants.
Mrs. Daroy, in rebuttal, denied that her father, Teofilo Legaspi, received the sum of P412 from the
respondent. She said that her father never went to Cagayan de Oro City to confer with the
respondent. She said that there was no agreement that the respondent would participate like an heir
in the partition of the sum of P4,000. She denied that the respondent offered to pay her and her
brother and sister the sum of P2,746. She denied that the respondent paid to the complainants
P2,000.
After a careful examination of the evidence, we find that respondent's testimony cannot be given any
credence. In his memorandum he stated that after he received from the sheriff "on October 29,
1969" the sum of P4,000, he "immediately wired" his kinsman, Teofilo Legaspi, to come to Cagayan
de Oro City and that Teofilo "came onOctober 21, 1969". Respondent meant October 20, 1969, the
date of the receipt, Exhibit L-1.
The truth is that he did not send any such wire. The statement of the sheriff and respondent's office
clerk in their affidavits of March 18, 1975 that such a wire was sent is false. What he sent to Teofilo
Legaspi was a handwritten note dated November 28, 1969 (Exh. B) wherein the respondent made it
appear that the said sum of P4,000 was going to be withdrawn on "December 8, 1969 at nine
o'clock". That the respondent in his testimony and memorandum forgot that note, which is Annex C
of the complaint for disbarment and which he admitted in paragraph 4 of his answer, is an indication
that he does not know the facts of his own case and that he had no scruples in trying to mislead and
deceive this Court.
That note of respondent to Teofilo Legaspi, his telegram and his letter (already quoted) to Mrs.
Daroy dated December 7 and 9, 1969, respectively (Exh. B, C and E) overwhelmingly belie his
fabricated theory that he conferred with Teofilo Legaspi at the end of October or in the first week of
November, 1969. He was tempted to concoct a story as to his alleged payments to Teofilo Legaspi
because the latter is dead and could not refute him. However, complainants' documentary evidence
refutes his prevarications, distortions and fabrications.
He attached to his memorandum (of which he did not furnish complainants a copy) his Exhibit 2, a
supposed typewritten claim against him which totalled P10,406.05. Exhibit 2 does not bear any
signature. The respondent wants to imply that the complainants were trying to blackmail him. No
probative value can be given to Exhibit 2.
The flimsiness and incredible character of respondent's defense are discernible in his Exhibit 1,
which he attached to his answer to the original complaint.
Exhibit 1 as a carbon copy of a supposed extrajudicial partition executed in 1968 by the four children
of Consuelo Gonzaga, by her surviving husband, Teofilo Legaspi and by the respondent, Atty.
Legaspi, all the six being described in the document as "the legitimate children and sole heirs of
Consuelo Gonzaga, who died on March 12. 1941". Why the respondent was an heir of Consuelo
Gonzaga was not explained.
In that curious instrument, the spaces for the day and month when it was signed and acknowledged
before a notary, the spaces for the description of the fourth parcel of land, the spaces for the shares
adjudicated to the heirs, the spaces for the instrumental witnesses and the spaces for the numbers
of the residence certificates and the dates and places of issue were left blank. Yet the instrument
was signed by the above six persons and duly notarized by a notary whose signature is illegible.
In that extrajudicial partition Consuelo Gonzaga was alleged to have left four parcels of land located
at Barrio Maputi, Initao, Misamis Oriental which she inherited from her father Aquilino Gonzaga.
However, in the order of the Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental dated April 29, 1969
Consuelo Gonzaga inherited only a one-sixth share in a parcel of land located at Maputi, Initao,
Misamis Oriental.
How Vivencio Legaspi, who, according to the instrument, was a resident of Alameda, California, was
able to sign it and to appear before a notary was not explained.
The incomplete document, far from being of any help to respondent Legaspi, casts a reflection on
his competency and integrity as a lawyer and on the competency and integrity of the notary before
whom it was acknowledged. As already noted, it was made to appear herein that respondent
Legaspi was an heir of Consuelo Gonzaga when, obviously, he did not possess that status. The
document does not even mention whether the deceased died intestate.
That document has no connection with the P4,000 and does not justify the misappropriation or
breach of trust committed by the respondent.
A lawyer, under his oath, pledges himself not to delay any man for money or malice and is bound to
conduct himself with all good fidelity to his clients. He is obligated to report promptly the money of
his clients that has come into his possession. He should not commingle it with his private property or
use it for his personal purposes without his client's consent. He should maintain a reputation for
honesty and fidelity to private trust (Pars. 11 and 32, Canons of Legal Ethics).
Money collected by a lawyer in pursuance of a judgment in favor of his clients is held in trust and
must be immediately turned over to them (Aya vs. Bigornia, 57 Phil. 8, 11).1wph1.t
Section 25, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that when an attorney unjustly retains in his
hands money of his client after it has been demanded, he may be punished for contempt as an
officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions and he is liable to a criminal
prosecution.
A lawyer may be disbarred for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in his office as
attorney or for any violation of the lawyer's oath (Ibid, sec. 27).
"The relation between an attorney and his client is highly fiduciary in its nature and of a very delicate,
exacting and confidential character, requiring a high degree of fidelity and good faith" (7 Am. Jur. 2d
105). In view of that special relationship, "lawyers are bound to promptly account for money or
property received by them on behalf of their clients and failure to do so constitutes professional
misconduct. The fact that a lawyer has a lien for fees on money in his hands collected for his clients
does not relieve him from the duty of promptly accounting for the funds received." (Syllabus, In
re Bamberger, 49 Phil. 962).
The conversion of funds entrusted to an attorney is a gross violation of general morality as well as
professional ethics. It impairs public confidence in the legal profession, "It deserves severe
punishment" (Sturr vs. State Bar of California, 52 Cal. 2d 125, 338 Pac. 2d 897).1wph 1. t
A member of the bar who converts the money of his client to his own benefit through false pretenses
is guilty of deceit, malpractice and gross misconduct in his office of lawyer. The attorney, who
violates his oath of office, betrays the confidence reposed in him by a client and practices deceit
cannot be permitted to continue as a law practitioner. Not alone has he degraded himself but as an
unfaithful lawyer he has besmirched the fair name of an honorable profession (In re Paraiso, 41 Phil.
24, 25; In re David, 84 Phil. 627; Manaloto vs. Reyes, Adm. Case No. 503, October 29, 1965, 15
SCRA 131; See Cabigao and Yzquierdo vs. Fernando Rodrigo, 57 Phil. 20).
We find respondent Legaspi guilty of deceit, malpractice and professional misconduct for having
misappropriated the funds of his clients. His manufactured defenses, his lack of candor and his
repeated failure to appear at the investigation conducted by the City Fiscal of Iligan and at the
hearings scheduled by this Court, thus causing this proceeding to drag on for a long time,
demonstrate his unworthiness to remain as a member of the noble profession of law. (See Capulong
vs. Alio, Adm. Case No. 381, February 10, 1968, 22 SCRA 491).
Taking into account the environmental circumstances of the case, we hold that the proper
disciplinary action against the respondent is disbarment. Its salutary purpose is to protect the court
and the public from the misconduct of an officer of the court. It is premised on the assumption that a
member of the bar should be competent, honorable and reliable, a person in whom courts and
clients may repose confidence (In reMacDougall, 3 Phil. 70, 78).
Its objectives are to compel the lawyer to deal fairly and honestly with his client and to remove from
the profession a person whose misconduct has proven him unfit for the duties and responsibilities
belonging to the office of an attorney (6 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Ed., p.
242).1wph 1. t
The prayer of the complainants that the respondent be ordered to pay them the said amount of
P4,000 plus attorney's fees and miscellaneous expenses incurred in the prosecution of this case
amounting to more than P1,000 cannot be granted in this disbarment proceeding. That amount
should be recovered in an ordinary action.
WHEREFORE, the respondent is disbarred. The Clerk of Court is directed to strike out his name
from the Roll of Attorneys.
SO ORDERED.






















EN BANC
[CBD A.C. No. 313. January 30, 1998]
ATTY. AUGUSTO G. NAVARRO, for and in behalf of PAN-ASIA
INTERNATIONAL COMMODITIES, INC., complainant, vs. ATTY.
ROSENDO MENESES III, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PER CURIAM:
This administrative case against respondent Atty. Rosendo Meneses III was
initiated by a complaint-affidavit
[1]
filed by Atty. Augusto G. Navarro on June 7, 1994
before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(hereinafter, the Commission), for and in behalf of Pan-Asia International Commodities,
Inc. Herein complainant charges respondent Meneses with the following
offenses, viz.: (1) malpractice and gross misconduct unbecoming a public defender; (2)
dereliction of duty, by violating his oath to do everything within his power to protect his
clients interest; (3) willful abandonment; and (4) loss of trust and confidence, due to his
continued failure to account for the amount of P50,000.00 entrusted to him to be paid to
a certain complainant for the amicable settlement of a pending case.
[2]

The complaint-affidavit alleged that Frankwell Management and Consultant, Inc., a
group of companies which includes Pan Asia International Commodities, Inc., through
its Administrative Manager Estrellita Valdez, engaged the legal services of respondent
Atty. Meneses. While serving as such counsel, Atty. Meneses handled various cases
and was properly compensated by his client in accordance with their retainer
agreement.
[3]
One of the litigations handled by him was the case of People vs. Lai Chan
Kow, a.k.a. Wilson Lai, and Arthur Bretaa, pending before Branch 134, Regional Trial
Court of Makati. On December 24. 1993, respondent received the sum of P50,000.00
from Arthur Bretaa, the accused in said case, to be given to therein offended party, a
certain Gleason, as consideration for an out-of-court settlement and with the
understanding that a motion to dismiss the case would be filed by respondent Meneses.
Despite subsequent repeated requests, respondent failed to present to his client the
receipt acknowledging that Gleason received said amount. A verification made with the
Regional Trial Court of Makati revealed that no motion to dismiss or any pleading in
connection therewith had been filed, and the supposed amicable settlement was not
finalized and concluded. Despite repeated demands in writing or by telephone for an
explanation, as well as the turnover of all documents pertaining to the aforementioned
case, respondent Meneses deliberately ignored the pleas of herein complainant.
The case was assigned by the Commission to Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez
for investigation. Respondent was thereafter ordered to submit his answer to the
complaint pursuant to Section 5, rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.
[4]
Two successive ex
parte motions for extension of time to file an answer were filed by respondent and
granted by the Commission.
[5]
On November 14, 1994, respondent filed a motion to
dismiss,
[6]
instead of an answer.
In said motion, respondent argued that Atty. Navarro had no legal personality to sue
him for and in behalf of Pan-Asia International Commodities, Inc. because his legal
services were retained by Frankwell Management and Consultant, Inc.; that Navarro
had not represented Pan-Asia International Commodities, Inc. in any case nor had been
authorized by its board of directors to file this disbarment case against respondent; that
the retainer agreement between him and Frankwell Management and Consultant, Inc.
had been terminated as of December 31, 1993 according to the verbal advice of its
Administrative Officer Estrellita Valdez; that the case of Arthur Bretaa was not part of
their retainer agreement, and Bretaa was not an employee of Frankwell Management
and Consultant, Inc. which retained him as its legal counsel; and that the settlement of
said case cannot be concluded because the same was archived and accused Bretaa
is presently out of the country.
Herein complainant, in his opposition to the motion to dismiss,
[7]
stresses that
respondent Meneses is resorting to technicalities to evade the issue of his failure to
account for the amount of P50,000.00 entrusted to him; that the respondents
arguments in his motion to dismiss were all designed to mislead the Commission; and
that he was fully aware of the interrelationship of the two corporations and always
coordinated his legal work with Estrellita Valdez.
On November 28, 1994, Investigating Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez resolved
to deny said motion to dismiss for lack of merit and directed respondent to file his
answer.
[8]
On January 2, 1995, respondent filed a manifestation that he was adopting the
allegations in his motion to dismiss his answer.
[9]
When the case was set for hearing on
February 9, 1995, respondent failed to attend despite due notice. He thereafter moved
to postpone and reset the hearing of the case several times allegedly due to problems
with his health.
On the scheduled hearing on June 15, 1995, respondent again failed to attend. The
commissioner accordingly received an ex parte the testimony of complainants sole
witness, Estrellita Valdez, and other documentary evidence.
[10]
Thereafter, complainant
rested its case. Respondent filed a so-called Urgent Ex-parte Motion for
Reconsideration with Motion to Recall Complainants Witness for Cross-
Examination
[11]
which was granted by the Commission.
[12]
Estrellita Valdez was directed
by the Commission to appear on the scheduled hearing for cross-examination.
Several postponement and resetting of hearings were later requested and granted
by the Commission. When the case was set for hearing for the last time on May 31,
1996, respondent failed to attend despite due notice and repeated
warnings. Consequently, the Commission considered him to have waived his right to
present evidence in his defense and declared the case submitted for resolution.
[13]

On February 4, 1997, the Commission on Bar Discipline, through its Investigating
Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez, submitted its Report and Recommendation
[14]
to the
Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The Commission ruled that
the refusal and/or failure of respondent to account for the sum of P50,000.00 he
received from complainant for the settlement of the aforestated case of Lai Chan Kow
and Arthur Bretaa proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that he misappropriated the
same, hence he deserved to be penalized.
The Commission recommended that respondent Meneses he suspended from the
practice of the legal profession for a period of three (3) years and directed to return
the P50,000.00 he received from the petitioner within fifteen (15) days from notice of the
resolution. It further provided that failure on his part to comply with such requirement
would result in his disbarment.
[15]
The Board of Governors adopted and approved the
report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in its Resolution No. XII-
97-133, dated July 26, 1997.
[16]

On August 15, 1997, the Court received the Notice of Resolution, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and the records of this case
through the Office of the Bar Confidant for final action pursuant to Section 12 (b) of Rule
139-B.
[17]
It appears therefrom that respondent was duly furnished a copy of said
resolution, with the investigating commissioners report and recommendation annexed
thereto.
The Court agrees with the findings and conclusion of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines that respondent Meneses misappropriated the money entrusted to him and
which he has failed and/or refused to account for to his client despite repeated demands
therefor. Such conduct on the part of respondent indicating his unfitness for the
confidence and trust reposed on him, or showing such lack of personal honesty or of
good moral character as to render him unworthy of public confidence, constitutes a
ground for disciplinary action extending to disbarment.
[18]

Respondent Meneses misconduct constitute a gross violation of his oath as a
lawyer which, inter alia, imposes upon every lawyer the duty to delay no man for money
or malice. He blatantly disregarded Rule 16.01 of Canon 16 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall account for all money or property
collected or received for or from his client. Respondent was merely holding in trust the
money he received from his client to used as consideration for amicable settlement of a
case he was handling. Since the amicable settlement did no materialize, he was
necessarily under obligation to immediate return the money, as there is no showing that
he has a lien over it. As a lawyer, he should be scrupulously careful in handling money
entrusted to him in his professional capacity, because a high degree of fidelity and
good faith on his part is exacted.
[19]

The argument of respondent that complainant has no legal personality to sue him is
unavailing. Section 1 Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court provides that proceedings for
the disbarment, suspension, or discipline of attorneys may be taken by the Supreme
Court motu propio or by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines upon the verified
complainant of any person. The right to institute a disbarment proceeding is not
confined to clients nor is it necessary that the person complaining suffered injury from
the alleged wrongdoing. Disbarment proceedings are matters of public interest and the
only basis for judgment is the proof or failure of proof of the charge. The evidence
submitted by complainant before the Commission on Bar Discipline sufficed to sustain
its resolution and recommended sanctions.
It is settled that a lawyer is not obliged to act as counsel for every person who may
wish to become his client. He has the right to decline employment
[20]
subject however, to
the provision of Canon 14 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
[21]
Once he agrees
to take up the cause of a client, he owes fidelity to such cause and must always be
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed to him.
[22]
Respondent Meneses, as counsel,
had the obligation to inform his client of the status of the case and to respond within a
reasonable time to his clients request for information. Respondents failure to
communicate with his client by deliberately disregarding its request for an audience or
conference is an unjustifiable denial of its right to be fully informed of the developments
in and the status of its case.
On January 7, 1998, the Bar Confidant submitted to the Court a copy of the letter of
Atty. Augusto G. Navarro, dated December 18, 1997, to the effect that although a copy
of the aforestated Resolution No. XII-97-133 was personally delivered to respondents
address and received by his wife on October 9, 1997, he had failed to restitute the
amount of P50,000.00 to complainant within the 15-day period provided
therein. Neither has he filed with this Court any pleading or written indication of his
having returned said amount to complainant. In line with the resolution in this case, his
disbarment is consequently warranted and exigent.
A note and advice on the penalty imposed in the resolution is in order. The
dispositive portion thereof provides that:
x x x Respondent Atty. Rosendo Meneses is hereby SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for three (3) years and is hereby directed to
return the Fifty Thousand Pesos he received from the petitioner within
fifteen (15) days from receipt of this resolution. Failure on his part to
comply will result (i)n his DISBARMENT.
[23]

In other words, it effectively purports to impose either a 3-year suspension or
disbarment, depending on whether or not respondent duly returns the amount to
complainant. Viewed from another angle, it directs that he shall only be suspended,
subject to the condition that he should make restitution as prescribed therein.
Dispositions of this nature should be avoided. In the imposition of penalties in
criminal cases, it has long been the rule that the penalty imposed in a judgment cannot
be in the alternative, even if the law provides for alternative penalties,
[24]
not can such
penalty be subject to a condition.
[25]
There is no reason why such legal principles in penal
law should not apply in administrative disciplinary actions which, as in this case, also
involve punitive sanctions.
Besides, if the purpose was to extenuate the liability of respondent, the only
possible and equivalent rule is in malversation cases holding that the restitution of the
peculated funds would be analogous to voluntary surrender if it was immediately and
voluntarily made before the case was instituted.
[26]
The evidently is not the situation
here. Also the implementation of the penalty provided in the resolution will involve a
cumbersome process since, in order to arrive at the final action to be taken by this
Court, it will have to wait for a verified report on whether or not respondent complied
with the condition subsequent.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Rosendo Meneses III is hereby DISBARRED. Let a copy of
this decision be attached to respondents personal records in this Court and furnished
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, together with all courts in the county.
SO ORDERED.



















THIRD DIVISION
[A.C. No. 5235. March 22, 2000]
FERNANDO C. CRUZ AND AMELIA CRUZ, complainants, vs. ATTY.
ERNESTO C. JACINTO, respondents. Juris
R E S O L U T I O N
MELO, J .:
In their sworn complaint, spouses Fernando C. Cruz and Amelia Manimbo
Cruz seek the disbarment of Atty. Ernesto C. Jacinto. The Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, through Commissioner Jesulito A. Manalo of the
Commissioner on Bar discipline, conducted an investigation. Thereafter, he
submitted his Findings and Recommendation, thusly:
This is a disbarment case filed by the spouses Fernando and Amelia Cruz
against Atty. Ernesto C. Jacinto. This case was filed with the Commission
on Bar Discipline last 30 January 1991.
The evidence of the complainants show that sometime in June 1990, Atty.
Ernesto Jacinto, lawyer of the couple in an unrelated case, requested the
Cruz spouses for a loan in behalf of a certain Concepcion G. Padilla, who
he claimed to be an old friend as she was allegedly in need of money. The
loan requested was for PhP 285,000.00 payable after 100 days for PhP
360,000 to be secured by a real estate mortgage on a parcel of land
located at Quezon City. Sc juris
The spouses, believing and trusting the representations of their lawyer
that Padilla was a good risk, authorized him to start preparing all the
necessary documents relative to the registration of the Real Estate
Mortgage to secure the payment of the loan in favor of the Cruz spouses.
On 4 July 1990, the complainants agreed to the request of Atty. Jacinto
and were presented by the latter with a Real Estate Mortgage Contract
and a Transfer Certificate of Title No. 127275 in the name of Concepcion
G. Padilla. The amount of PhP 285,000.00 was given by the spouses to
the respondent in cash (PhP 270,000.00) and a PBCom check no. 713929
for PhP 15,000.00.
Upon maturity of the loan on 15 October 1990, the spouses demanded
payment from Concepcion G. Padilla by going to the address given by the
respondent but there proved to be no person by that name living therein.
When the complainants verified the genuineness of TCT No. 127275 with
Register of Deeds of Quezon City, it was certified by the said office to be a
fake and spurious title. Further efforts to locate the debtor-mortgagor
likewise proved futile. Juris sc
In their sworn affidavits given before the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI), the spouses claim that they relied much on the reassurances made
by Atty. Jacinto as to Concepcion G. Padillas credit, considering that he
was their lawyer. It was also their trust and confidence in Atty. Jacinto that
made them decide to forego meeting the debtor-mortgagor.
The complainants evidence also included the sworn statements of
Estrella Ermino-Palipada, the secretary of the respondent at the Neri Law
Office, and Avegail Payos, a housemaid of Atty. Jacinto. Ms. Palipada
stated that:
1. she was the one who prepared the Real Estate Mortgage Contract and
the Receipt of the loan upon the instruction of the respondents;
2. she was a witness to the transaction and never once saw the person of
Concepcion G. Padilla, the alleged mortgagor; and that
3. she was instructed by Atty. Jacinto to notarize the said contract by
signing the name of one Atty. Ricardo Neri.
Avegail Payos, the housemaid of the respondent, in turn stated that she
was the one who simulated the signature of one Emmanuel Gimarino, the
Deputy Register of Deeds of Quezon City upon the instruction of Atty.
Jacinto. This was done to make it appear that the real estate mortgage
was registered and the annotation to appear at the back of the TCT as an
encumbrance.
On 14 November 1997, a case for Estafa thru Falsification of Public
documents under Art. 315 was filed against Atty. Jacinto. He was arrested
and detained by the NBI.
The defense of the respondent, on the other hand, was embodied in his
Answer with Motion to Dismiss filed with the Commission on Bar
Discipline. Therein, he alleged that the criminal information for estafa thru
falsification filed against him had already been dismissed because of the
voluntary desistance of the complainants. Misj uris
In his version of the facts, Atty. Jacinto averred that while he indeed
facilitated the loan agreement between the Cruz spouses and Concepcion
G. Padilla, he had no idea that the latter would give a falsified Certificate
of Title and use it to obtain a loan. He claimed that he himself was a victim
under the circumstances.
Respondent further alleged that he had not been remiss nor negligent in
collecting the proceeds of the loan; that in fact, he had even advanced the
full payment of the loan due to the complainants from his own savings,
even if Concepcion G. Padilla had not yet paid, much less found.
RECOMMENDATIONS
It is every lawyers sworn duty to obey the laws of the land to promote
respect for law and legal processes. The Code of Professional
Responsibility command that he shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct. (Rule 1.01, Code of Professional
Responsibility) Jj lex
In the instant case, there was a clear yet unrebutted allegation in the
complaint that the Respondent had ordered his secretary and housemaid
to falsify the signatures of the notary public and the Deputy Register of
Deeds respectively to make it appear that the real estate mortgage
contract was duly registered and thus binding.
While it may be true that the complaint for Estafa thru Falsification filed
against the Respondent had been dismissed, the dismissal was because
of the complainants voluntary desistance and not a finding of innocence.
It neither confirms nor denies Respondents non-culpability. Furthermore,
it is well-settled that disciplinary proceedings are "sui generis", the primary
object of which is not so much to punish the individual attorney himself, as
to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the court and the
public from the misconduct of lawyers, and to remove from the professions
persons whose disregard of their oath have proven them unfit to continue
discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar. Thus,
disciplinary cases may still proceed despite the dismissal of civil and/or
criminal cases against a lawyer.
A lawyer who does any unlawful fraudulent or dishonest act may and
should be held administratively liable therefor. In the case at bar, the
Respondent should not be made an exception. While it may be shown that
he indeed advanced the payment due to his erstwhile clients, such will not
exempt him from administrative liability. At best it can only mitigate.
Respondent is recommended to be suspended for six (6) months from the
practice of law.
(Findings and Recommendation, pp. 1-4) New miso
On February 28, 1998, the Board of Governors of the IBP passed Resolution
XIII-97-199 adopting and approving the Findings and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner, which reads:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Resolution/Decision as Annex "A" and, finding the recommendation fully
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules,
respondent Atty. Ernesto C. Jacinto is SUSPENDED from the practice of
law for six (6) months for his unlawful, fraudulent or dishonest act.
(Notice of resolution [dated Feb. 28, 1998]).
In his Comment and Answer with Motion to Dismiss, respondent averred that
complainants have no cause of action against him as the same has been
waived, settled, and extinguished on account of the affidavits of voluntary
desistance and quitclaim executed by them in the criminal case filed against
him. Ncmmis
The assertion must necessarily fail. The practice of law is so intimately
affected with public interest that it is both a right and a duty of the State to
control and regulate it in order to promote the public welfare. The Constitution
vests this power of control and regulation in this Court. Since the practice of
law is inseparably connected with the exercise of its judicial power in
administration of justice, the Court cannot be divested of its constitutionally
ordained prerogative which includes the authority to discipline, suspend or
disbar any unfit and unworthy member of the Bar by a mere execution of
affidavits of voluntary desistance and quitclaim (par. [5], Sec. 5, 1987
Constitution).
A lawyer may be disciplined or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his
professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral
character, in honesty, in probity and good demeanor, thus rendering unworthy
to continue as an officer of the court (Maligsa vs. Cabanting, 272 SCRA 408
[1997]), and the complainants who called the attention of the Court to the
attorneys alleged misconduct are in no sense a party, and have generally no
interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper
administration of justice (Rayos-Ombac vs. Rayos, 285 SCRA 93 [1998]).
Undeniably, respondent represented complainants in the loan transaction. By
his own admission, he was the one who negotiated with the borrower, his
long-time friend and a former client. He acted not merely as an agent but as a
lawyer of complaints, thus, the execution of the real estate mortgage contract,
as well as its registration and annotation on the title were entrusted to him. In
fact, respondent even received his share in the interest earnings which
complainants realized from the transaction. His refusal to recognize any
wrongdoing or carelessness by claiming that he is likewise a victim when it
was shown that the title to the property, the registration of the real estate
mortgage contract, and the annotation thereon were all feigned, will not at all
exonerate him. Scncm
As a rule, a lawyer is not barred from dealing with his client but the business
transaction must be characterized with utmost honesty and good faith.
However, the measure of good faith which an attorney is required to exercise
in his dealings with this client is a much higher standard than is required in
business dealings where the parties trade at arms length. Business
transactions between an attorney and his client are disfavored and
discouraged by the policy of the law. Hence, courts carefully watch these
transactions to be sure that no advantage is taken by a lawyer over his client.
This rule is founded on public policy for, by virtue of his office, an attorney is in
an easy position to take advantage of the credulity and ignorance of his client.
Thus, no presumption of innocence or improbability of wrongdoing is
considered in an attorneys favor (Nakpit vs. Valdes, 286 SCRA 758 [1998]).
Further, his fidelity to the cause of his client requires him to be evermindful of
the responsibilities that should be expected of him.
Verily, a lawyer may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act
as counsel for a person whose interest conflicts with that of his former client.
The reason for the prohibition is found in the relation of attorney and client,
which is one of trust and confidence at the highest degree (Maturan vs.
Gonzales, 287 SCRA 943 [1998]). Sdaamiso
Respondent utterly failed to perform his duties and responsibilities faithfully
and well as to protect the rights and interests of his clients and by his deceitful
actuations constituting violations of the Code of Professional Responsibilities
must be subjected to disciplinary measures for his own good, as well as for
the good of the entire membership of the Bar as a whole.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby adopts the resolution of the Board of
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and orders respondent Atty.
Ernesto C. Jacinto suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months with
the warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with
more severely. Sdaad
SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION
[A.C. No. 4762. June 28, 2004]
LINDA VDA. DE ESPINO, complainant, vs. ATTY. PEPITO C.
PRESQUITO, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
PUNO, J .:
On June 9, 1997, Linda Vda. de Espino wrote a letter-complaint
[1]
with the
then Court Administrator Alfredo Benipayo, charging respondent Atty. Pepito
C. Presquito, a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Misamis
Oriental Chapter, for having employed fraud, trickery and dishonest means in
refusing to honor and pay [her] late husband Virgilio Espino, when he was still
alive, the sum of P763,060.00. According to complainant, respondents
unlawful refusal and dilatory tactics partly triggered the death of her husband,
who died disillusioned and embittered.
[2]
The letter-complaint and affidavit
also alleged that notwithstanding the numerous oral demands by Mr. Espino
and complainant (after the death of Mr. Espino), respondent still refused to
pay the amounts represented by the eight checks which had all been
dishonored. Complainant surmised that Atty. Presquitos refusal to pay may
be due to his reliance on the influence of his father-in-law, a former Executive
Judge of the RTC (Cagayan de Oro), and of his uncle, an RTC judge
(Cagayan de Oro).
The records show that sometime in September 1995, respondent was
introduced to complainants late husband, Mr. Virgilio M. Espino. Mr. Espino,
a resident of Davao City, had sought the assistance of respondent, a resident
of Cagayan de Oro, regarding the sale of his piece of land with an area of
11,057.59 sq.m. situated in Misamis Oriental. The discussion between Mr.
Espino and the respondent resulted in the sale of the property to
respondent.
[3]
Under the terms of the agreement between Mr. Espino and
respondent,
[4]
the purchase price of the land wasP1,437,410.00, payable on a
staggered basis and by installments.
[5]
Pursuant to the terms of payment in the
agreement, respondent issued eight post-dated checks,
totaling P736,060.00.
[6]
Respondent then entered into a joint venture or
partnership agreement with Mrs. Guadalupe Ares for the subdivision of the
land into home-size lots and its development, with a portion of the land
retained by respondent for his own use.
[7]
The land was eventually titled in the
name of respondent and Mrs. Ares, and subdivided into 35 to 36 lots.
Meanwhile, the eight post-dated checks issued by respondent were all
dishonored. Mr. Espino made repeated demands for payment from
respondent but the latter refused. Mr. Espino died in December 1996. His
widow, complainant, then tried to collect from respondent the value of the
eight checks. When complainants numerous pleas remained unheeded, she
filed the complaint in June 1997.
In his comment dated September 22, 1997, respondent denied any
wrongdoing, and said that the allegations that he had employed fraud,
trickery and dishonest means with the late Mr. Espino were totally false and
baseless. The complaint, according to respondent, stemmed from
complainants lack of knowledge as to the real story of the transaction
between complainants husband and respondent. He also vehemently took
exception to the imputation that he was banking on the influence of his father-
in-law and uncle-in-law.
Respondent does not deny the issuance of the eight checks. What
respondent claims, however, is that the nonpayment was justified by the
unresolved problems he and Mrs. Ares have with respect to the right-of-way of
the land. He alleged that Mr. Espino had made assurances that the land had
a right-of-way required for its development, but respondent later found out that
such road-right-of-way required the consent of four other land owners, and the
expense would be considerably more than he was made to
believe. According to respondent, he and Mr. Espino had agreed that the
latter would not encash the checks or demand the equivalent of the same until
the right-of-way problem of the land had been resolved.
[8]
Respondents
position is that until the problem of obtaining a right-of-way to the land has
been resolved, nothing has yet accrued against him or Mrs. Ares (his partner),
as it would be very unfair and unjust for them to pay Mr. Espino when the
land could not be developed and sold.
[9]

Respondent also alleged that he was entitled to set-off against the amount
he owes Mr. Espino or his heirs from the purchase of the land, the advances
he made to Mr. Espino, and the cost he incurred when he defended Mr.
Espinos son in a criminal case. He later on manifested that he has fully paid
the portion of the land which had been titled in his name through the same
advances and incurred expenses.
[10]

In a resolution dated November 26, 1997,
[11]
the case was referred to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation/decision, and assigned to the IBP-Commission on Bar
Discipline (CBD).
In the IBP-CBD report dated November 12, 2002,
[12]
Investigating
Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay found that the facts and credible evidence
made available in this case indubitably establish respondents failure to live up
to the demands of the Lawyers Code of Professional Responsibility and the
Canons of Professional Ethics. For having failed to act with candor and
fairness toward complainant, Commissioner Dulay recommended that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months, and
ordered to immediately account with complainant regarding the sale of the
piece of land which had been subdivided in the name of respondent and his
business partner. On June 21, 2003, the Board of Governors of the IBP
passed a Resolution adopting/approving the Report and Recommendation of
Commissioner Dulay, finding that respondents lack of fairness and candor
and honesty [was] in violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
After a careful consideration of the record of the instant case, we agree
that respondent was wanting in fairness, candor and honesty demanded of
him by the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Canons of
Professional Ethics. We find, however, the recommended penalty of six (6)
months suspension too light considering respondents gross misconduct.
Complainants testimony and exhibits have clearly established that: (1)
there was an agreement between respondent and complainants late husband
for the sale of the latters land; (2) respondent had issued the eight checks in
connection with said agreement; (3) these checks were dishonored and
remain unpaid; and (4) the land sold had an existing road-right-of-
way. Complainants exhibits were formally offered as early as January 6,
1999,
[13]
and were admitted without objection from respondent.
[14]

In the face of these uncontroverted facts, it was incumbent upon
respondent to prove a legal excuse or defense for nonpayment of the eight
checks.
Respondent utterly failed in this regard.
From the termination of complainants presentation of evidence on
December 1998 until Commissioner Dulays report on November 12, 2002,
the records show that respondent was unable to present evidence - either
testimonial or documentary - to prove that he had legal cause to refuse
payment, or that he was entitled to legal compensation. Even respondents
own statements - which, without corroborating evidence, remain mere self-
serving allegations - fall short of testimony, as he failed to submit to cross-
examination by opposing counsel or for clarificatory questions by the IBP-
CBD. Worse, respondent attached eighteen documents to his comment, but
only went so far as to mark (without a formal offer) the agreement between
him and Mr. Espino (for the sale of the land), and the partnership agreement
between him and Mrs. Ares. Thus, respondent had no evidence other
than his own allegations.
Respondents failure to present evidence is a breach of Rule 12.01 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility,
[15]
especially in the light of the numerous
postponements and resettings he requested for and was granted with, on the
ground that he needed more time to prepare his evidence. We note that
respondent was first scheduled to present his evidence on December 14,
1998. Two years - five resettings, and three orders submitting the case for
resolution - later, respondent still had not proffered testimonial or documentary
evidence.
Respondent claims that his failure to present evidence was due to his
financial difficulties, i.e., he could not afford to spend for travel expenses of his
witnesses.
[16]
We are not persuaded. First, it boggles the mind how financial
constraints could have prevented respondent from presenting the originals of
the documents attached to his comment, proving, among others, the alleged
advances and costs on Mr. Espinos behalf. The originals of these documents
are presumably in his possession. Second, with respect to the absence of
testimony, respondent could have submitted the affidavits of his witnesses -
the taking of which he could have done himself in Cagayan de Oro to keep
down the cost. The records are clear that he was allowed this option.
[17]
But he
did neither.
All these circumstances lead us to the ineluctable conclusion
that respondent could not present evidence because there really was
none to justify his nonpayment.
[18]

Even if we were to excuse respondents procedural lapse and consider his
written pleadings as testimony, we agree with Commissioner Dulay that
respondents problems with respect to the right-of-way or his partnership with
Mrs. Ares do not excuse his nonpayment. As stated in the IBP-CBD report:
[T]he solution to the right-of-way problem however clearly lies in the hands of
respondent.We note that respondent has already taken title over the property
together with Guadalupe Ares by making complainants late husband, sign over the
property by way of the Deed of Sale. We therefore find respondents position vis--vis
the widowed complainant sneaky and unfair. We reiterate that respondent has
assumed responsibility for the negotiations on the road-right-of-way and was aware of
the problem. To [sic] our mind he has used the alleged road-right-of-way problem
only as an afterthought and a reason to delay and in fact deny the complainant
payment of what is due her. Respondent also alleges and blames the deceased
husband of complainant for the failed project but the facts show otherwise. They are
just bare allegations and remain unsubstantiated. Besides, respondent and Ares took
risks in the business venture and are now the titled owners of the property. The seller
cannot be blamed for any failure in the project. Respondents actuations in the whole
transaction is [sic] not at par with the standards demanded of him as a member of the
bar. Respondent is lacking in fairness and candour [sic] and honesty. The fact that he
has unreasonably delayed and failed to account with complainant for a long time and
the fact of his having allowed the checks he issued to bounce is [sic] unacceptable and
censurable behavior for a member of the bar.
[19]
[citations omitted]
Having no legal defense to refuse payment of the eight dishonored
checks, respondents indifference to complainants entreaties for payment was
conduct unbecoming of a member of the bar and an officer of the court.
Respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by his unlawful,
dishonest and deceitful conduct towards complainant and her late
husband,
[20]
first by allowing the eight (8) checks he issued to bounce, then by
ignoring the repeated demands for payment until complainant was forced to
file this complaint, and finally by deliberately delaying the disposition of this
case with dilatory tactics. Considering that the property of complainant and
her late husband is already in respondent and Mrs. Ares name, the injustice
of respondents different maneuvers to evade payment of the eight checks -
due and unpaid since 1996 - becomes more manifest.
It should be stressed that respondent issued eight (8) worthless checks,
seemingly without regard to its deleterious effects to public interest and public
order. We have already declared, most recently in Lao v. Medel,
[21]
that the
issuance of worthless checks constitutes gross misconduct, and puts the
erring lawyers moral character in serious doubt, though it is not related to his
professional duties as a member of the bar.
[22]
He not only sets himself liable
for a serious criminal offense under B.P. Blg. 22, but also transgresses the
Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically the mandate of Canon 1 to
obey the laws of the land and promote the respect for law.
It behooves respondent to remember that a lawyer may be suspended or
disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as
long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or
good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a good
condition precedent to the practice of law, but a continuing qualification for all
members of the bar.
[23]
A lawyer may be disciplined for any conduct, in his
professional or private capacity, that renders him unfit to continue to be an
officer of the court.
[24]
Thus, the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.
xxx xxx xxx
Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to
practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous
manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
Given the foregoing, and in line with jurisprudence involving lawyers who
issued worthless checks - Lao v. Medel,
[25]
Co v. Bernardino,
[26]
and Ducat v.
Villalon, Jr.,
[27]
- we find respondents reprehensible conduct warrants
suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year.
WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. PEPITO C. PRESQUITO is found guilty
of gross misconduct and is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
one (1) year, and ORDERED to immediately account with complainant
regarding the sale of the piece of land, which has been subdivided in the
name of respondent and his business partner.
Let a copy of this decision be spread in his file at the Office of the Bar
Confidant and of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
SO ORDERED.









Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. Case No. 3195. December 18, 1989
MA. LIBERTAD SJ CANTILLER, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. HUMBERTO V. POTENCIANO, respondent.
Eduardo Cabreros, Jr. for complainant.
R E S O L U T I O N

PER CURIAM
Public interest requires that an attorney exert his best efforts and ability in the
prosecution or defense of his client's cause. A lawyer who performs that duty with
diligence and candor not only protects the interests of his client; he also serves the ends
of justice, does honor to the bar and helps maintain the respect of the community to the
legal profession. This is so because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries with it
the correlative duties not only to the client but also to the court, to the bar or to the public.
That circumstance explains the public concern for the maintenance of an untarnished
standard of conduct by every attorney towards his client.
1

Subject of this administrative complaint is Humberto V. Potenciano, a practicing lawyer and a
member of the Philippine Bar under Roll No. 21862. He is charged with deceit, fraud, and
misrepresentation, and also with gross misconduct, malpractice and of acts unbecoming of an officer
of the court.
The essential facts are as follows:
2

Complainant herein is the sister of Peregrina Cantiller, defendant in an action for "ejectment"
docketed as Civil Case No. 6046 before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 57, San Juan,
Metro Manila.
Another action, likewise involving Peregrina but this time as plaintiff, was then pending before the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 168, Pasig, Metro Manila docketed as Civil Case No. 54117 for
"reconveyance with damages." Both actions involve the apartment unit being rented by complainant
and her sister.
When the two cases were concluded, Peregrina came out the losing party. Civil Case No. 54117 for
reconveyance was ordered dismissed by the Regional Trial Court on June 8, 1987 while Civil Case
No. 6046 for ejectment was decided by the Metropolitan Trial Court against her.
On October 8, 1987 pursuant to the writ of execution issued in Civil Case No. 6046 for ejectment,
complainant and Peregrina were served a notice to vacate the rented premises within four (4) days
from receipt of notice.
Desperate and at a loss on what to do, they consulted a certain Sheriff Pagalunan, on the matter.
Pagalunan, in turn, introduced them to herein respondent. After such introduction, the parties
"impliedly agreed" that respondent would handle their case. Forthwith, a petition entitled "Annulment
of Judgment, Annulment of Sale and Damages with prayer for Preliminary Injunction and/or Status
Quo Order, etc." was prepared by respondent to forestall the execution of the order to vacate in Civil
Case No. 6046.
In the afternoon of October 9,1987, the complainant was made to sign by respondent what she
described as a "[h]astily prepared, poorly conceived, and haphazardly composed
3
petition for
annulment of judgment. Complainant alleges that respondent promised her that the necessary
restraining order would be secured if only because the judge who would hear the matter was his
"katsukaran" (close friend).
Thereupon, the petition was filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 153, Pasig, Metro Manila and
docketed as Civil Case No. 55118. Respondent demanded from the complainant one thousand
pesos (P l,000.00) as attorney's fee which the latter paid that same afternoon.
However, when the case was raffled and assigned to Branch 153, the presiding judge asked
respondent to withdraw as counsel in the case on the ground of their friendship.
On October 11, 1987, respondent went to the house of complainant and asked her to be ready with
two thousand pesos (P 2,000.00) to be given to another judge who will issue the restraining order in
the ejectment case (Civil Case No. 6046). Complainant and her sister were only able to raise the
amount of one thousand pesos which they immediately gave to respondent.
Later respondent informed the complainant and her sister that he could not locate the judge who
would issue the restraining order. The parties, then, instead went to the Max's Restaurant where
respondent ordered some food - including two plastic bags of food allegedly to be given to the judge
who would issue the restraining order. At this juncture, respondent asked for the remaining balance
of the two thousand pesos (P 2,000.00) which he earlier demanded. Complainant gave her last
money-a ten dollar ($ 10.00) bill.
Sometime after the filing of Civil Case No. 55118, respondent informed complainant and Peregrina
that there was a need to file another case with the Regional Trial Court to enable them to retain
possession of the apartment. For this purpose, respondent told complainant to prepare the amount
of Ten Thousand Pesos (P 10,000.00) allegedly to be deposited with the Treasurer's Office of Pasig
as purchase price of the apartment and another one thousand pesos (P 1,000.00) to cover the
expenses of the suit. Respondent stressed to the complainant the need and urgency of filing the new
complaint.
Complainant and Peregrina raised the said amounts through the kindness of some friends and
relatives. On October 26,1987, the money was handed over to the respondent.
On the same date, a complaint for "Specific Performance, Annulment of Simulated or Spurious Sale
with Damages," later docketed as Civil Case No. 55210, was filed by respondent with the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 165, Pasig, Metro Manila.
At the hearing of the preliminary injunction in Civil Case No. 55118 on October 30, 1987,
respondent, contrary to his promise that he would secure a restraining order, withdrew his
appearance as counsel for complainant. Complainant was not able to get another lawyer as
replacement. Thus, no restraining order or preliminary injunction was obtained. As a consequence,
the order to vacate in Civil Case No. 6046 was eventually enforced and executed.
Sometime thereafter, it came to complainant's knowledge that there was really no need to make a
deposit of ten thousand pesos (P l0,000.00) relative to Civil Case No. 55210. After further inquiry,
she found out that in fact there was no such deposit made. Thus, on December 23,1987,
complainant sent a demand letter to respondent asking for the return of the total amount of eleven
thousand pesos (P 11,000.00) which the former earlier gave to the latter. However, this letter was
never answered and the money was never returned. Hence, complainant lodged this administrative
complaint against herein respondent.
Meanwhile, on December 29,1987, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 153, dismissed Civil Case No.
55118 for failure to state a cause of action.
4
On January 20,1988, Civil Case No. 5521 0 was
likewise dismissed for being identical with Civil Case No. 55118.
5

Respondent in his answer contends that the filing of Civil Cases Nos. 55118 and 55210 was done in
good faith and that the allegations of complainant relative to the administrative charge against him
are all lies, product of one's imagination and only intended to harrass him.
6

This Court agrees that the petitions in Civil Cases Nos. 55118 and 55210 appear to be poorly
prepared and written. having represented himself capable of picking up the cudgels for the
apparently lost cause of complainant respondent should have carefully prepared the pleadings if
only to establish the justness of his representation. The little time involved is no excuse.
Complainant reposed full faith in him. His first duty was to file the best pleading within his capability.
Apparently respondent was more interested in getting the most out of the complainant who was in a
hopeless situation. He bragged about his closeness to the judge concerned in one case and talked
about the need to "buy" the restraining order in the other. Worse still he got P 10,000.00 as alleged
deposit in court which he never deposited. Instead he pocketed the same. The pattern to milk the
complainant dry is obvious.
When a lawyer takes a client's cause, he thereby covenants that he will exert all effort for its
prosecution until its final conclusion. The failure to exercise due diligence or the abandonment of a
client's cause makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust which the client had reposed on him. The
acts of respondent in this case violate the most elementary principles of professional ethics .
7

The Court finds that respondent failed to exercise due diligence in protecting his client's interests.
Respondent had knowledge beforehand that he would be asked by the presiding judge in Civil Case
No. 55118 to withdraw his appearance as counsel by reason of their friendship. Despite such prior
knowledge, respondent took no steps to find a replacement nor did he inform complainant of this
fact.
Even assuming that respondent had no previous knowledge that he would be asked to withdraw, the
record is quite clear that four (4) days prior to the hearing of the preliminary injunction in Civil Case
No. 55118 respondent already filed a motion therein withdrawing as complainant's counsel
interposing as reason therefor his frequent attacks of pain due to hemorrhoids. Despite this void,
respondent failed to find a replacement. He did not even ask complainant to hire another lawyer in
his stead.
8

His actuation is definitely inconsistent with his duty to protect with utmost dedication the interest of
his client and of the fidelity, trust and confidence which he owes his client.
9
More so in this case,
where by reason of his gross negligence complainant thereby suffered by losing all her cases.
The filing of Civil Case No. 55210 on October 26, 1987, the same day that he had already filed a
motion to withdraw as counsel for complainant in Civil Case No. 55118, reveals his lack of good faith
as an advocate. He also failed to appear for the complainant in said case. It was all a show to get
more money from her. This adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law. When confronted with
this evident irregularity, he lamely stated that while he did not physically appear for complainant he
nevertheless prepared and drafted the pleadings.
His services were engaged by complainant hoping that the property subject of the ejectment
proceeding would be returned to her. In fact, it was respondent who persuaded complainant that the
filing of these two cases simultaneously were the means by which this objective can be achieved.
His duty was not only to prepare the pleadings but to represent complainant until the termination of
the cases. This he failed to do.
His representation that there was an immediate need to file Civil Case No. 55210 when he already
knew that he could no longer physically handle the same is an act of deception of his client.
10
It
shows lack of fidelity to his oath of office as a member of the Philippine bar.
The allegation of respondent that the ten thousand pesos (P 10,000.00) was given to him as fee for
his services, is simply incredible. Indeed, such amount is grossly disproportionate with the service he
actually rendered.
11
And his failure to return even a portion of the amount upon demand of
complainant all the more bolsters the protestation of complainant that respondent does not deserve
to remain as an officer of the court.
Lawyers are indispensable part of the whole system of administering justice in this jurisdiction. At a
time when strong and disturbing criticisms are being hurled at the legal profession, strict compliance
with one's oath of office and the canons of professional ethics is an imperative.
Lawyers should be fair, honest, respectable, above suspicion and beyond reproach in dealing with
their clients. The profession is not synonymous with an ordinary business proposition. It is a matter
of public interest.
WHEREFORE, after considering the entirety of the circumstances present in this case, this Court
finds Atty. Humberto V. Potenciano to be guilty of the charges against him and hereby SUSPENDS
him from the practice of law for an indefinite period until such time he can demonstrate that he has
rehabilitated himself as to deserve to resume the practice of law.
Finally, respondent is hereby ordered to return to complainant herein the sum of eleven thousand
pesos (P11,000.00) with legal interest from the date of this resolution until it is actually returned.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla,
Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.
Footnotes

EN BANC
[G.R. No. 94457. October 16, 1997]
VICTORIA LEGARDA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS, NEW CATHAY HOUSE, INC., THE HONORABLE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON CITY, BRANCH
94, respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
ROMERO, J .:
For our resolution is the motion for reconsideration of the March 18, 1991,
decision of the Courts's First Division, filed by private respondents New
Cathay House, Inc. (Cathay). A brief narration of facts is in order.
The parties hereto entered into a lease agreement over a certain Quezon
City property owned by petitioner Victoria Legarda. For some reason or
another, she refused to sign the contract although respondent lessee, Cathay,
made a deposit and a down payment of rentals, prompting the latter to file
before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 94 a
complaint
[1]
against the former for specific performance with preliminary
injunction and damages. The court a quo issued the injunction. In the
meantime, Legardas counsel, noted lawyer Dean Antonio Coronel, requested
a 10-day extension of time to file an answer which the court granted. Atty.
Coronel, however, failed to file an answer within the extended period. His
client was eventually declared in default, Cathay was allowed to present
evidence ex-parte, and on March 25, 1985, a judgment by default was
reached by the trial court ordering Legarda to execute the lease contract in
favor of, and to pay damages to, Cathay.
On April 9, 1985, a copy of said decision was served on Atty. Coronel but
he took no action until the judgment became final and executory. A month
later, the trial court issued a writ of execution and a public auction was held
where Cathays manager, Roberto V. Cabrera, Jr., as highest bidder, was
awarded the property for P376,500.00 in satisfaction of the judgment
debt. Consequently, a Certificate of Sale was issued by the sheriff on June 27,
1985. Upon failure of Legarda to redeem her property within the one-year
redemption period, a Final Deed of Sale was issued by the sheriff on July 8,
1986, which was registered by Cabrera with the Register of Deeds three days
later. Hence, Legardas Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 270814 was
cancelled with the issuance of TCT No. 350892 in the name of Cabrera.
Despite the lapse of over a year since the judgment by default became
final and executory, Atty. Coronel made no move on behalf of his client. He
did not even inform her of all these developments. When Legarda did learn of
the adverse decision, she nevertheless did not lose faith in her counsel
[2]
and
prevailed upon him to seek appropriate relief. Thus, on October 23, 1986, he
filed a petition for annulment of judgment with prayer for the issuance of a writ
of preliminary mandatory injunction before the Court of Appeals.
[3]

On November 29, 1989, the appellate court rendered a decision affirming
the March 25, 1985, decision of the trial court, dismissing the petition for
annulment of judgment, and holding Legarda bound by the negligence of her
counsel. It considered her allegation of fraud by Cathay to be improbable,
and added that there was pure and simple negligence on the part of
petitioners counsel who failed to file an answer and, later, a petition for relief
from judgment by default. Upon notice of the Court of Appeals decision, Atty.
Coronel again neglected to protect his clients interest by failing to file a
motion for reconsideration or to appeal therefrom until said decision became
final on December 21, 1989.
Sometime in March 1990, Legarda learned of the adverse decision of the
Court of Appeals dated November 29, 1989, not from Atty. Coronel but from
his secretary. She then hired a new counsel for the purpose of elevating her
case to this Court. The new lawyer filed a petition for certiorari praying for the
annulment of the decision of the trial and appellate courts and of the sheriffs
sale, alleging, among other things, that Legarda lost in the courts below
because her previous lawyer was grossly negligent and inefficient, whose
omissions cannot possibly bind her because this amounted to a violation of
her right to due process of law. She, therefore, asked Cathay (not Cabrera) to
reconvey the subject property to her.
On March 18, 1991, a decision
[4]
was rendered in this case by Mr. Justice
Gancayco, ruling, inter alia, as follows: (a) granting the petition; (b) nullifying
the trial courts decision dated March 25, 1985, the Court of Appeals decision
dated November 29, 1989, the Sheriffs Certificate of Sale dated June 27,
1985, of the property in question, and the subsequent final deed of sale
covering the same property; and (c) ordering Cathay to reconvey said
property to Legarda, and the Register of Deeds to cancel the registration of
said property in the name of Cathay (not Cabrera) and to issue a new one in
Legardas name.
The Court then declared that Atty. Coronel committed, not just ordinary or
simple negligence, but reckless, inexcusable and gross negligence, which
deprived his client of her property without due process of law. His acts, or the
lack of it, should not be allowed to bind Legarda who has been consigned to
penury because her lawyer appeared to have abandoned her case not once
but repeatedly. Thus, the Court ruled against tolerating such unjust
enrichment of Cathay at Legardas expense, and noted that counsels lack of
devotion to duty is so gross and palpable that this Court must come to the aid
of his distraught client.
Aggrieved by this development, Cathay filed the instant motion for
reconsideration, alleging, inter alia, that reconveyance is not possible
because the subject property had already been sold by its owner, Cabrera,
even prior to the promulgation of said decision.
By virtue of the Gancayco decision, Cathay was duty bound to return the
subject property to Legarda. The impossibility of this directive is immediately
apparent, for two reasons: First, Cathay neither possessed nor owned the
property so it is in no position to reconvey the same; second, even if it did,
ownership over the property had already been validly transferred to innocent
third parties at the time of promulgation of said judgment.
There is no question that the highest bidder at the public auction was
Cathays manager. It has not been shown nor even alleged, however, that
Roberto Cabrera had all the time been acting for or in behalf of Cathay. For
all intents and purposes, Cabrera was simply a vendee whose payment
effectively extinguished Legardas liability to Cathay as the judgment
creditor. No proof was ever presented which would reveal that the sale
occurred only on paper, with Cabrera acting as a mere conduit for
Cathay. What is clear from the records is that the auction sale was conducted
regularly, that a certificate of sale and, subsequently, a final deed of sale were
issued to Cabrera which allowed him to consolidate his ownership over the
subject property, register it and obtain a title in his own name, and sell it to
Nancy Saw, an innocent purchaser for value, at a premium price. Nothing on
record would demonstrate that Cathay was the beneficiary of the sale
between Cabrera and Saw. Cabrera himself maintained that he was acting in
his private (as distinct from his corporate) capacity
[5]
when he participated in
the bidding.
Since the decision of the Court of Appeals gained finality on December 21,
1989, the subject property has been sold and ownership thereof transferred
no less than three times, viz.: (a) from Cabrera to Nancy Saw on March 21,
1990, four months after the decision of the Court of Appeals became final and
executory and one year before the promulgation of the March 18, 1991,
decision under reconsideration; (b) from Nancy Saw to Lily Tanlo Sy Chua on
August 7, 1990, more than one year before the Court issued a temporary
restraining order in connection with this case; and (c) from the spouses Victor
and Lily Sy Chua to Janet Chong Luminlun on April 3, 1992. With these
transfers, Cabreras TCT No. 350892 gave way to Saws TCT No. 31672, then
to Chuas TCT No. 31673, and finally to Luminluns TCT No. 99143, all issued
by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City on April 3, 1990, August 8, 1990,
and November 24, 1993, respectively.
We do not have to belabor the fact that all the successors-in-interest of
Cabrera to the subject lot were transferees for value and in good faith, having
relied as they did on the clean titles of their predecessors. The successive
owners were each armed with their own indefeasible titles which automatically
brought them under the aegis of the Torrens System. As the Court declared
in Sandoval v. Court of Appeals,
[6]
(i)t is settled doctrine that one who deals
with property registered under the Torrens system need not go beyond the
same, but only has to rely on the title. He is charged with notice only of such
burdens and claims as are annotated on the title.
[7]
In the case at bar, it is not
disputed that no notice of lis pendens was ever annotated on any of the titles
of the subsequent owners. And even if there were such a notice, it would not
have created a lien over the property because the main office of a lien is to
warn prospective buyers that the property they intend to purchase is the
subject of a pending litigation. Therefore, since the property is already in the
hands of Luminlun, an innocent purchaser for value, it can no longer be
returned to its original owner by Cabrera, much less by Cathay itself.
Another point to consider, though not raised as an issue in this case, is the
fact that Cabrera was impleaded as a party-respondent only on August 12,
1991, after the promulgation of the Gancayco decision.
[8]
The dispositive
portion itself ordered Cathay, instead of Cabrera to reconvey the property to
Legarda. Cabrera was never a party to this case, either as plaintiff-appellee
below or as respondent in the present action. Neither did he ever act as
Cathays representative. As we held in the recent case of National Power
Corporation v. NLRC, et al.,
[9]
(j)urisdiction over a party is acquired by his
voluntary appearance or submission to the court or by the coercive process
issued by the court to him, generally by service of summons.
[10]
In other words,
until Cabrera was impleaded as party respondent and ordered to file a
comment in the August 12, 1991, resolution, the Court never obtained
jurisdiction over him, and to command his principal to reconvey a piece of
property which used to be HIS would not only be inappropriate but would also
constitute a real deprivation of ones property without due process of law.
Assuming arguendo that reconveyance is possible, that Cathay and
Cabrera are one and the same and that Cabreras payment redounded to the
benefit of his principal, reconveyance, under the facts and evidence obtaining
in this case, would still not address the issues raised herein
The application of the sale price to Legardas judgment debt constituted a
payment which extinguished her liability to Cathay as the party in whose favor
the obligation to pay damages was established.
[11]
It was a payment in the
sense that Cathay had to resort to a court-supervised auction sale in order to
execute the judgment.
[12]
With the fulfillment of the judgment debtors
obligation, nothing else was required to be done.
Under the Gancayco ruling, the order of reconveyance was premised on
the alleged gross negligence of Legardas counsel which should not be
allowed to bind her as she was deprived of her property without due process
of law.
It is, however, basic that as long as a party was given the opportunity to
defend her interests in due course, she cannot be said to have been denied
due process of law, for this opportunity to be heard is the very essence of due
process. The chronology of events shows that the case took its regular
course in the trial and appellate courts but Legardas counsel failed to act as
any ordinary counsel should have acted, his negligence every step of the way
amounting to abandonment, in the words of the Gancayco decision. Yet, it
cannot be denied that the proceedings which led to the filing of this case were
not attended by any irregularity. The judgment by default was valid, so was
the ensuing sale at public auction. If Cabrera was adjudged highest bidder in
said auction sale, it was not through any machination on his part. All of his
actuations that led to the final registration of the title in his name were
aboveboard, untainted by any irregularity.
The fact that Cabrera is an officer of Cathay does not make him a
purchaser in bad faith. His act in representing the company was never
questioned nor disputed by Legarda. And while it is true that he won in the
bidding, it is likewise true that said bidding was conducted by the book. There
is no call to be alarmed that an official of the company emerges as the
winning bidder since in some cases, the judgment creditor himself personally
participates in the bidding.
There is no gainsaying that Legarda is the judgment debtor here. Her
property was sold at public auction to satisfy the judgment debt. She cannot
claim that she was illegally deprived of her property because such deprivation
was done in accordance with the rules on execution of judgments. Whether
the money used to pay for said property came from the judgment creditor or
its representative is not relevant. What is important is that it was purchased
for value. Cabrera parted with real money at the auction. In his Sheriffs
Certificate of Sale dated June 27, 1985,
[13]
Deputy Sheriff Angelito R. Mendoza
certified, inter alia, that the highest bidder paid to the Deputy Sheriff the said
amount of P376,500.00, the sale price of the levied property. If this does not
constitute payment, what then is it? Had there been no real purchase and
payment below, the subject property would never have been awarded to
Cabrera and registered in his name, and the judgment debt would never have
been satisfied. Thus, to require either Cathay or Cabrera to reconvey the
property would be an unlawful intrusion into the lawful exercise of his
proprietary rights over the land in question, an act which would constitute an
actual denial of property without due process of law.
It may be true that the subject lot could have fetched a higher price during
the public auction, as Legarda claims, but the fail to betray any hint of a bid
higher than Cabreras which was bypassed in his favor. Certainly, he could
not help it if his bid of only P376,500.00 was the highest. Moreover, in spite of
this allegedly low selling price, Legarda still failed to redeem her property
within the one-year redemption period. She could not feign ignorance of said
sale on account of her counsels failure to so inform her, because such
auction sales comply with requirements of notice and publication under the
Rules of Court. In the absence of any clear and convincing proof that such
requirements were not followed, the presumption of regularity
stands. Legarda also claims that she was in the United States during the
redemption period, but she admits that she left the Philippines only on July 13,
1985, or sixteen days after the auction sale of June 27, 1985. Finally, she
admits that her mother Ligaya represented her during her absence.
[14]
In short,
she was not totally in the dark as to the fate of her property and she could
have exercised her right of redemption if she chose to, but she did not.
Neither Cathay nor Cabrera should be made to suffer for the gross
negligence of Legardas counsel. If she may be said to be innocent because
she was ignorant of the acts of negligence of her counsel, with more reason
are respondents truly innocent. As between two parties who may lose due
to the negligence or incompetence of the counsel of one, the party who was
responsible for making it happen should suffer the consequences. This
reflects the basic common law maxim, so succinctly stated by Justice J.B.L.
Reyes, that . . . (B)etween two innocent parties, the one who made it possible
for the wrong to be done should be the one to bear the resulting loss.
[15]
In this
case, it was not respondents, Legarda, who misjudged and hired the services
of the lawyer who practically abandoned her case and who continued to retain
him even after his proven apathy and negligence.
The Gancayco decision makes much of the fact that Legarda is now
consigned to penury and, therefore, this Court must come to the aid of the
distraught client. It must be remembered that this Court renders decisions,
not on the basis of emotions but on its sound judgment, applying the relevant,
appropriate law. Much as it may pity Legarda, or any losing litigant for that
matter, it cannot play the role of a knight in shining armor coming to the aid
of someone, who through her weakness, ignorance or misjudgment may have
been bested in a legal joust which complied with all the rules of legal
proceedings.
In Vales v. Villa,
[16]
this Court warned against the danger of jumping to the
aid of a litigant who commits serious error of judgment resulting in his own
loss:
x x x Courts operate not because one person has been defeated or overcome by
another, but because he has been defeated or overcome illegally. Men may do foolish
things, make ridiculous contracts, use miserable judgment, and lose money by them -
indeed, all they have in the world; but not for that alone can the law intervene and
restore. There must be, in addition, a violation of law, the commission of what the
law knows as an actionable wrong, before the courts are authorized to lay hold of the
situation and remedy it."
Respondents should not be penalized for Legardas mistake. If the
subject property was at all sold, it was only after the decisions of the trial and
appellate courts had gained finality. These twin judgments, which were
nullified by the Gancayco decision, should be respected and allowed to stand
by this Court for having become final and executory.
A judgment may be broadly defined as the decision or sentence of the
law given by a court or other tribunal as the result of proceedings instituted
therein.
[17]
It is a judicial act which settles the issues, fixes the rights and
liabilities of the parties, and determines the proceeding, and it is regarded as
the sentence of the law pronounced by the court on the action or question
before it.
[18]

In the case at bar, the trial courts judgment was based on Cathays
evidence after Legarda was declared in default. Damages were duly awarded
to Cathay, not whimsically, but upon proof of its entitlement thereto. The
issue of whether the plaintiff (Cathay) deserved to recover damages because
of the defendants (Legardas) refusal to honor their lease agreement was
resolved. Consequently, the right of Cathay to be vindicated for such breach
and the liability incurred by Legarda in the process were determined.
This judgment became final when she failed to avail of remedies available
to her, such as filing a motion for reconsideration or appealing the case. At
the time, the issues raised in the complaint had already been determined and
disposed of by the trial court.
[19]
This is the stage of finality which judgments
must at one point or another reach. In our jurisdiction, a judgment
becomes ipso facto final when no appeal is perfected or the reglementary
period to appeal therefrom expires. The necessity of giving finality to
judgments that are not void is self-evident. The interests of society impose
it. The opposite view might make litigations more unendurable than the
wrongs (they are) intended to redress. It would create doubt, real or
imaginary, and controversy would constantly arise as to what the judgment or
order was. Public policy and sound practice demand that, at the risk of
occasional errors, judgments of courts should become final at some definite
date fixed by law. The very object for which courts were instituted was to put
an end to controversies.
[20]
When judgments of lower courts gain finality, they,
too, become inviolable, impervious to modification. They may, then, no longer
be reviewed, or in any way modified directly or indirectly, by a higher court,
not even by the Supreme Court.
[21]
In other words, once a judgment becomes
final, the only errors that may be corrected are those which are clerical.
[22]

From the foregoing precedents, it is readily apparent that the real issue
that must be resolved in this motion for reconsideration is the alleged illegality
of the final judgments of the trial and appellate courts.
Void judgments may be classified into two groups: those rendered by a
court without jurisdiction to do so and those obtained by fraud or
collusion.
[23]
This case must be tested in light of the guidelines governing the
latter class of judgments. In this regard, an action to annul a judgment on the
ground of fraud will not lie unless the fraud is extrinsic or collateral and facts
upon which it is based (have) not been controverted or resolved in the case
where (the) judgment was rendered.
[24]
Where is the fraud in the case at
bar? Was Legarda unlawfully barred from the proceedings below? Did her
counsel sell her out to the opponent?
It must be noted that, aside from the fact that no extrinsic fraud attended
the trial and resolution of this case, the jurisdiction of the court a quo over the
parties and the subject matter was never raised as an issue by
Legarda. Such being the case, the decision of the trial court cannot be
nullified. Errors of judgment, if any, can only be reviewed on appeal, failing
which the decision becomes final and executory, valid and binding upon the
parties in the case and their successors in interest.
[25]

At this juncture, it must be pointed out that while Legarda went to the
Court of Appeals claiming precisely that the trial courts decision was
fraudulently obtained, she grounded her petition before the Supreme Court
upon her estranged counsels negligence. This could only imply that at the
time she filed her petition for annulment of judgment, she entertained no
notion that Atty. Coronel was being remiss in his duties. It was only after the
appellate courts decision had become final and executory, a writ of execution
issued, the property auctioned off then sold to an innocent purchasers for
value, that she began to protest the alleged negligence of her attorney. In
most cases, this would have been dismissed outright for being dilatory and
appearing as an act of desperation on the part of a vanquished litigant. The
Gancayco ruling, unfortunately, ruled otherwise.
Fortunately, we now have an opportunity to rectify a grave error of the
past.
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration of respondent New Cathay
House, Inc. is hereby GRANTED. Consequently, the decision dated March
18, 1991, of the Courts First Division is VACATED and SET ASIDE. A new
judgment is hereby entered DISMISSING the instant petition for review and
AFFIRMING the November 29, 1989, decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. No. SP-10487. Costs against petitioner Victoria Legarda.
SO ORDERED.











THIRD DIVISION


Spouses EDUARDO and A.C. No. 5039
TERESITA GARCIA,
Complainants, Present:

Panganiban, J.,
Chairman,
Sandoval-Gutierrez,
- versus - Corona,
Carpio Morales, and
Garcia, JJ

Promulgated:
Atty. ROLANDO S. BALA,
Respondent. November 25, 2005
x -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- x

DECISION


PANGANIBAN, J.:


he practice of law is a privilege bestowed on lawyers who meet the
high standards of legal proficiency and morality. Any conduct
that shows a violation of the norms and values of the legal
profession exposes the lawyer to administrative liability.


T
The Case and the Facts

On April 8, 1999, Spouses Eduardo and Teresita Garcia filed before
this Court a Letter-Complaint
[1]
against Atty. Rolando S. Bala. According
to complainants, he failed to render a legal service contracted -- the
preparation of a petition for review that he was to file with the Court of
Appeals (CA) in connection with DARAB Case No. 5532. Moreover, he
supposedly refused to return the P9,200 legal fees they had paid him for
the purpose. Finally, he allegedly hurled invectives at them when they
asked him for a copy of the petition that he claimed to have filed.

This Court required respondent to comment on the Complaint.
[2]
He
failed to comply; thus, he was presumed to have waived his right to be
heard.
[3]
In its Resolution, the Court referred the case to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and
recommendation.
[4]

Report of the Investigating Commissioner

In her September 23, 2004 Report,
[5]
Investigating IBP Commissioner
Teresita J. Herbosa found respondent guilty of violating the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

Despite due notice, he neither submitted a position paper nor
appeared at any of the hearings
[6]
called by the Commission. Thus, the case
was decided on the basis of complainants evidence.

According to the findings of Commissioner Herbosa, complainants
engaged the services of respondent (sometime in May 1998)
[7]
to appeal to
the CA the adverse Decision of the Department of Agrarian Relations
Adjudication Board (DARAB).
[8]
Instead, he erroneously filed a Notice of
Appeal
[9]
with the DARAB. Under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, appeals
from the decisions of the DARAB
should be filed with the CA through a verified petition for review.
[10]

Because of respondents error, the prescribed period for filing the petition
lapsed, to the prejudice of his clients.

Commissioner Herbosa gave no credence, however, to the allegation
of complainants that respondent had deceived them by resorting to a
wrong remedy. While opining that he might not have been in bad faith in
filing a notice of appeal instead of a petition for review, the commissioner
in her Report nonetheless held that his failure to use the proper legal
remedy constituted lack of professional competency that warranted an
appropriate sanction.
[11]


The Report also concluded that respondent should be sanctioned for
his unjustified refusal and failure to return the money paid by his clients.
[12]

Their payment totaled P9,200, broken down as follows: P5,000 to write
the appeal; P700 to mail it; and an additional P3,500 for writing the
pleading on short notice. He, however, failed to return the money despite
his promise -- and his obligation under the circumstances -- to do so.
[13]


Finally, Commissioner Herbosa held that respondent should be
sanctioned further for uttering unsavory words against complainants during
one instance when they had called on him to ask for a copy of the
supposed appeal. Hence, she recommended that, aside from a fine
of P5,000 and the return to complainants of the amount of P9,200,
suspension from the practice of law for a period of six months should be
imposed upon him.

Recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors

On March 12, 2005, the Board of Governors of the IBP passed
Resolution No. XVI-2005-74,
[14]
which adopted with modification the
Report and Recommendation of the investigating commissioner. It
recommended that respondent should be reprimanded and suspended
from the practice of law for six months; and that he should return, within
thirty days from his receipt of the Decision, the amount of P9,200, with
legal interest from the filing of the present Complaint with this Court.
[15]



The Court's Ruling

We agree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP.


Administrative Liability of Respondent

The practice of law is considered a privilege bestowed by the State on
those who show that they possessed and continue to possess the legal
qualifications for it.
[16]
Indeed, lawyers are expected to maintain at all times
a high standard of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty,
integrity and fair dealing.
[17]
They must perform their fourfold duty to
society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients, in accordance with
the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
[18]

Negligence for
Wrong Remedy


The Code of Professional Responsibility
[19]
mandates lawyers to serve
their clients with competence and diligence.
[20]
Rule 18.02 states that a
lawyer shall not handle any legal matter without adequate preparation.
Specifically, Rule 18.03 provides that a lawyer shall not neglect a legal
matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall
render him liable.

Once lawyers agree to take up the cause of a client, they owe fidelity
to the cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed in them.
[21]
A client is entitled to the benefit of any and every
remedy and defense authorized by law, and is expected to rely on the
lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense.
[22]


Evidently, respondent failed to champion the cause of his clients with
wholehearted fidelity, care and devotion. Despite
adequate time, he did not familiarize himself with the correct procedural
remedy as regards their case. Worse, he repeatedly assured them that the
supposed petition had already been filed.
[23]


Since he effectively waived his right to be heard, the Court can only
assume that there was no valid reason for his failure to file a petition for
review, and that he was therefore negligent.


Conduct Unbecoming


Having become aware of the wrong remedy he had erroneously
taken, respondent purposely evaded complainants, refused to update them
on the appeal, and misled them as to his whereabouts.
[24]
Moreover, on
June 17, 1998, he uttered invectives at them when they visited him for an
update on the case.
[25]


Rule 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that a
lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall
respond within a reasonable time to the clients request for information.
Accordingly, complainants had the right to be updated on the
developments and status of the case for which they had engaged the
services of respondent.
[26]
But he apparently denied them that right.

Furthermore, for using unsavory words against complainants, he
should also be sanctioned. Lawyers may be disciplined -- whether in their
professional or in their private capacity -- for any conduct that is wanting in
morality, honesty, probity and good demeanor.
[27]
Canon 7 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility mandates a lawyer to uphold the integrity and
dignity of the legal profession at all times.

In addition, the Court notes the nonparticipation of respondent even
in the present proceedings. He ignored the directive for him to file his
comment,
[28]
just as he had disregarded the IBP hearing commissioners
orders
[29]
for the conduct of hearings, submission of documentary evidence
and position paper. Never did he acknowledge or offer any excuse for his
noncompliance.
Clearly, his conduct manifests his disrespect of judicial authorities.
Despite the fact that his profession and honor are at stake, he did not even
bother to speak a word in his defense. Apparently, he has no wish to
preserve the dignity and honor expected of lawyers and the legal
profession. His demeanor is clearly demeaning.

The Need to Reimburse
the Money Paid

Under the present factual circumstances, respondent should return
the money paid by complainants. First, his legal services were virtually
nullified by his recourse to the wrong remedy. Complainants would not
have lost their right to appeal had he acted competently.

Second, the legal fees were not commensurate to the services
rendered. Complainants engaged his legal services to appeal the DARAB
Decision, but all he did was to file a Notice of Appeal.
[30]

Additionally, he had already promised them a refund of the money
paid, yet he failed to do so.

The Court may ascertain how much attorneys fees are reasonable
under the circumstances.
[31]
In the present case, the request of
complainants for a full refund of the attorneys fees they had paid
effectively challenged the contract; it was as though the parties had no
express stipulation as to those fees.
[32]
Quantum meruit therefore applies.

Quantum meruit -- meaning as much as he deserves -- is used as basis
for determining a lawyers professional fees in the absence of a contract.
[33]

Lawyers must be able to show that they are entitled to reasonable
compensation for their efforts in pursuing their clients case, taking into
account certain factors in fixing the amount of legal fees.
[34]
Based on the
circumstances of the present case, the legal services actually rendered by
respondent were too insignificant for remuneration because of the
uselessness of the remedy he took.

This Court has imposed the penalty of suspension for six months for
a lawyers negligence in failing to perfect an appeal.
[35]
Considering the
similarity of the circumstances with those prevailing in this case, we find
the imposition of the same penalty reasonable.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Rolando S. Bala is found guilty of negligence
and conduct unbecoming a lawyer; he is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for six months, effective upon his receipt of this Decision.
Furthermore, he is ORDERED to pay Spouses Eduardo and Teresita
Garcia the amount ofP9,200 -- with legal interest from April 8, 1999 --
within 30 days from his receipt of this Decision. He is
further WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar offenses will be
dealt with more severely.
Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent as
attorney. Further, let other copies be served on the IBP and on the Office
of the Court Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all the
courts in the country for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.


















Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-11724 November 23, 1959
WACK WACK GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB, INC., petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, PETRONILO ARCANGEL and ANTONIO D. BERNARDO, respondents.
Juan T. Chuidian Law Office for petitioner.
Amado A. Yatco for respondent Petronilo Arcangel.
Deogracias T. Reyes, Benjamin C. Yatco and Ernesto Pangalangan for respondent Antonino B.
Bernardo.
BARRERA, J .:
These petitions were filed by the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, Inc., to review the decisions of
the Court of Appeals in two cases involving the same corporation. (CA-G. R. No. 15910-R and CA-
G. R. No. 15902-R). As the issues raised in said cases relate to the same principle of law, we shall
take them up jointly and resolve the questions assigned therein in a single decision. G. R. No. L-
11724, (CA-G. R. No. 15910).
Petronilo Arcangel, a former employee of the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, Inc., filed with the
Court of First Instance of Manila a money claim for overtime services rendered to said employer, for
unenjoyed vacation leave, moral damages and attorney's fees. The employer having filed its answer
to the complaint, the case was accordingly set for trial. At the hearing of May 6, 1955, however,
neither the defendant (employer) nor its counsel, Balcoff, Poblador and Angel Cruz appeared
notwithstanding the fact that they were duly notified of the hearing since March 22, 1955; hence, the
plaintiff was allowed to continue presenting his evidence without the presence of defendant.
On May 10, 1955, the lower court rendered judgment for the plaintiff employee, awarding him a total
of P7,702.78.
On May 14, 1955, the law firm of Juan Chuidian, on behalf of the defendant employer, filed a petition
to set aside the judgment on the ground of misunderstanding, mistake and excusable neglect, which
petition was denied by the lower court in its order of May 31.
The employer appealed from this order not from the decision on the merits to the Court of
Appeals claiming that the court a quo committed a grave abuse of discretion in denying its petition
for relief. The Court of Appeals, finding no justification for the employer's failure to appear at the
hearing, upheld the order appealed from.
There is no disagreement as to the facts allegedly constituting the mistake, accident, or excusable
negligence upon which the employer's petition for relief was based. As put down in petitioner-
appellant's brief filed in the Court of Appeals, and adopted by said court, they are:
The records of this case show that defendant-appellant (employer) was represented by the
law office of Balcoff and Poblador and Angel Cruz from the inception of this case up to May
14, 1955, when law Office Juan T. Chuidian filed its appearance upon being referred by law
office of Balcoff and Poblador on May 12, 1955 the copy of the decision dated May 10, 1955
of the trial Court.
"Sometime before May 5, 1955 the defendant-appellant Wack Wack Golf and Country Club
Inc., had manifested its desire to replace their counsel Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and
Poblador in this case with Law Office Juan Chuidian. On May 5, 1955 Atty. Jesus Sayoc of
the undersigned law firm conferred with Atty. Angel Cruz of Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and
Poblador for the purpose of securing the court file in this case and effect the substitution of
attorney. Unfortunately, Mr. Balcoff was not in the office at the moment and attorney Angel
Cruz declared he had no authority to turn over to Law office of Juan T. Chuidian the court
papers and file in this case; besides, there were unpaid bill due Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff
and Poblador. Arriving at the office, Mr. Jesus Sayoc advised Mr. Juan Chuidian of the
reluctance of Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and Poblador to turn over the court file of the case to
the former. In view of this development, Atty. Chuidian called up Atty. Balcoff by telephone
and it was agreed between the two gentlemen that inasmuch as Attys. Paredes, Balcoff and
Poblador were still the attorneys of record in the case, Atty. Balcoff would sent a
representative of his law office to appear at the hearing of the case of the following day, May
6, 1955 in order to ask for postponement of the case. Consequently, nobody in Law Office
Juan Chuidian appeared in behalf of defendant-appellant on May 6, 1955 before the Trial
Court. As a matter of fact, the records of the case were turned over to Law Office Juan T.
Chuidian only on May 13, 1955 after Law Office Juan T. Chuidian had received on May 12,
1955 through Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and Poblador a copy of the decision dated May 10,
1955 of the Trial Court. On the other hand, Atty. Angel Cruz or any associate lawyer of
Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and Poblador did not appear for defendant-appellant on May 6,
1955.
We are with the Court of Appeals in the observation that as of May 6, 1955, the law firm of Balcoff
and Poblador and Angel Cruz were still the employer's counsel of record, the law office of Juan
Chuidian having entered its appearance in the case only on May 14, 1955. As such counsel of
record, said law firm must have known that, its impending relief as counsel for the defendant
notwithstanding, it is under obligation to protect the client's interest (which includes appearance at
the hearing) until its final release from the professional relationship with such client. For its part, the
court could recognize no other representation on behalf of the client except such counsel of record
until a formal substitution of attorney is effected. Thus, any agreement or arrangement such counsel
of record and its client may reach regarding the presentation of the client' case in the court is purely
their private concern. Proceedings in the court cannot be made to depend on them. The lack of
coordination or understanding between the two law firms in the instant case cannot be considered as
a legal excuse or falling within the ambit of excusable negligence to justify the granting of relief from
the order declaring the client in default, or as in the case, from a decision entered after presentation
of evidence in his absence.
Where the defendants were given every reasonable opportunity to try their case and no legal
excuse was presented for a further adjournment, and order denying defendant's motion to
set aside their default and vacate the judgment against them entered upon such default, was
proper. (Centerville Creamy Co. vs. Waxler, 30 N.T.S. 2d. 232, 262 App. Div. 1055.)
G.R. No. L-11724 (CA-G.R. No. 15902-R):.
On February 18, 1953, Antonino Bernardo, former official of appellant, filed with the Court of First
Instance of Manila a claim against the Wack Wack Golf & Country Club, Inc. for overtime pay,
unenjoyed vacation and sick leaves from 1946 to 1951 and attorney's fees. As the employer denied
the claim, the case was set for trial.
At the hearing of May 12, 1955, after about 8 previous postponements, nobody appeared for the
employer although said defendant was represented from the commencement of the proceeding by
Atty. Angel Cruz and was duly notified of the hearing since March 26, 1955. Consequently, the
plaintiff-employee was permitted to continue presenting his evidence before the Deputy Clerk of
Court who was delegated for this purpose.
On May 14, 1955, the lower court adjudged the plaintiff entitled to the claim, and sentenced
defendant-employer to pay the total sum of P26,422.78.
On the same day, May 14, 1955, the employer represented by the law office of Juan Chuidian, filed
a petition for relief from the order authorizing the Deputy Clerk of Court to receive plaintiff's evidence
and for the re-opening of the case. The petition was later supplemented by another similarly praying
for the setting aside of the decision rendered therein, on the ground of accident or excusable
negligence. Upon plaintiff's opposition, these petitions were denied by the court in its order of May
31, 1955. From this order of denial, defendant employer appealed to the Court of Appeals. On
October 30, 1956, the Court of Appeals affirmed the disputed order, for the reason that under the
circumstances, there was no justification for defendant's counsel to anticipate that the justification for
defendant's counsel to anticipate that the Court would grant a motion for postponement of the
hearing of May 12, 1955.
The accident or excusable negligence referred to by the new counsel for defendant employer is
stated in the petition for relief filed in the lower court, thus:
1. That defendant heretofore had been represented by attorney Angel Cruz; that for certain
reasons the defendant recently contracted the services of law office of Juan T. Chuidian to
handle this case; in substitution of Atty. Angel Cruz, the appearance of the undersigned law
office has been filed with this Honorable Court on May 12, 1955;
2. That it was only in the afternoon of May 11, 1955, that the records of this case were sent
to the undersigned Law Office, and that Atty. Juan T. Chuidian was then out of town and,
consequently, nobody knew what action to take in this case;
3. That in the morning of May 12, 1955, Atty. Juan T. Chuidian telephoned the undersigned
law office and requested that one of the assistant attorneys appear at the sala in connection
with the scheduled hearing of the above-entitled case, and to move for the postponement
thereof on the obvious reason that the undersigned law firm was not prepared right then and
there to proceed with the trial of the case inasmuch as the facts of the case were not then
sufficiently known to any of the associate attorneys;
4. That when Attorney Suntay of the undersigned law office arrived at the sala of this
Honorable Court, he was informed that the case had been called earlier in the calendar and
in view of the failure of any person to appear in behalf of defendant, the Deputy Clerk of
Court was authorized to receive the evidence for the plaintiff;
5. The subsequent efforts of Attorney Suntay to suspend the reception of plaintiff's evidence
and postpone the hearing and proved fruitless; ...
From the foregoing facts, it is evident that Atty. Suntay's appearance (late by some 35 minutes) at
the hearing of the case was solely for the purpose of securing another postponement of the trial; that
his delay was brought about by the absence of the principal counsel in town, and by want of
instructions from the latter as to what action his assistants should take on the matter; that the
records of the case were only turned over to the new counsel on May 11, and that there was no time
to prepare for the trial. Under these circumstances, the employer's charge that the trial court abused
its discretion in denying its petition for relief from the order authorizing the reception of plaintiff's
evidence in the absence of the defendant and the judgment rendered in the case, is premised on the
ground (1) that counsel's tardiness or delay as well as his unpreparedness to go to trial are
accidental or may be considered as excusable negligence, and (2) that the trial court should have
allowed the motion for postponement.
Both points find adequate answer in the Court of Appeals ruling which we quote with approval:
The hearing on May 12, 1955 had been fixed, with the conformity of both parties, as early as
March 18, 1955. Not only that, but the verbal order issued in open court was supplemented
by a written order, copy of which was received by defendant's counsel on March 26, 1955.
On the date of the trial defendant was still represented by Atty. Angel Cruz as counsel of
record. Up to then there had been no substitution of attorneys, nor had Attorney Cruz
withdrawn his appearance in the case. Indeed the record does not show that he ever did
withdraw his appearance or filed a motion for substitution. The responsibility for representing
defendant at the trial on May 12, 1955 was therefore still his. On the other hand if it is true,
as alleged by appellant, that the services of Attorney Juan Chuidian had been engaged
sometime prior to May 11, 1955 then it was the latter's duty to file his appearance
opportunely and prepare for the trial on May 12, 1955. It is to be presumed that in accepting
the case Attorney Chuidian knew that the trial was to be held on that date; and he certainly
was not justified in accepting the case unless he was prepared to go to trial as scheduled.
He had no right to take for granted the liberality of the court or generosity of the plaintiff by
appearing, through an assistant of his, after the case had been actually called on the
calendar and while the evidence of the plaintiff was already being received, and then only to
ask (verbally) for another postponement.
All motions for postponement should be presented at such time as is practicable to prevent
the adverse party from incurring unnecessary expenses by coming to trial, otherwise
postponement shall be denied. And a party moving for the postponement should be in court
on the day for trial if the motion was not acted upon favorably before that day. He has no
right to rely either on the liberality of the court, or on the generosity of the adverse party."
(Moran on Rules of Court, 1952 edition, pp. 651-653, citing Linus vs. Robira, 61 Phil., 907;
Macondray & Co. vs. Paredes, G. R. No. 38255, Sept. 5 1933; Sunico vs. Villapando, 14
Phil., 352.)
In addition, the records of these two cases reveal that even prior to May 5, 1955, defendant-
appellant had manifested its desire to replace its former counsel Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and
Poblador with the law office of Atty. Juan Chuidian. If this were so, it was the bounden duty of both
law firms to have made the necessary arrangement for the protection of the interest of their client.
Their failure to do so cannot certainly be considered excusable neglect to the extent of making the
action of the trial court, as well as the Court of Appeals in denying relief based thereon, an abuse of
discretion constituting reversible error.
Although no longer necessary in view of the conclusions already reached and expressed, attention
may be drawn to the lack of the required affidavits of merit to support the petitions for relief. While
there are sworn statements on the alleged mistake, accident, and/or excusable negligence, there is
in G.R. No. L-11724, total absence of, and in G.R. No. L-11725, insufficient affidavit showing the
facts constituting the valid defense which the movant may prove in case a new trial is granted. Even
in the latter case, the only reference made in the affidavit of the assistant lawyer in the law firm of
Atty. Chuidian, who as admitted in the pleadings submitted by them, did not know the facts of the
case, was the statement "that the defendant has genuine and bona fide defenses to the claims
interposed by plaintiff, more particularly set out in its Amended Answer dated August 4, 1954." This
amended answer is not under oath. Consequently, the mere incorporation thereof by reference
made by one who had no knowledge of the said defenses does not comply with the requirements of
the rules and decisions on the matter. The affidavits of merit must state facts, and not mere
conclusions or opinions, otherwise they are not valid.
1

Anent the question raised by petitioner in both instances regarding the legality of the lower court's
order authorizing the Deputy Clerk of Court to receive plaintiff's evidence, we again make our own
the Court of Appeals ruling, thus:
Defendant next contends that the trial court acted contrary to law and gravely abused its
discretion when it delegated the Deputy Clerk of Court to receive plaintiff's evidence. It
should be borne in mind that the delegation was made in view of the absence of defendant
and his counsel and that the function thus delegated was merely ministerial, namely, the
taking down of the testimony of the witnesses and the marking down of whatever
documentary evidence would be presented. There could be no occasion for the exercise of
judicial discretion such as might have been called for if the other party had been present to
object to questions that were propounded or to the admission of exhibits. It cannot therefore
be seriously maintained that any prejudice was caused to defendant by the action taken by
the Court.
Wherefore, finding no error in the decisions of the Court of Appeals sought to be nullified, the
petitions filed in these two cases are hereby dismissed, with costs. It is so ordered.












Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

A.C. No. 3283 July 13, 1995
RODOLFO MILLARE, petitioner,
vs.
ATTY. EUSTAQUIO Z. MONTERO, respondent.

QUIASON, J .:
This is a complaint for disbarment. Pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Revised
Rules of Court, this Court resolved to refer it to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report and recommendation.
On April 15, 1994, the IBP Board of Governors rendered a decision, finding respondent guilty of
malpractice and recommending that he be suspended from the practice of law.
I
Pacifica Millare, the mother of the complainant, obtained a favorable judgment from the Municipal
Trial Court, Bangued, Abra (MTC) which ordered Elsa Dy Co to vacate the premises subject of the
ejectment case (Civil Case No. 844). Co, through respondent as counsel, appealed the decision to
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Bangued, Abra (RTC). She neither filed a supersedeas bond
nor paid the rentals adjudged by the MTC. The RTC affirmed in toto the decision of the MTC.
The Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed Co's appeal from the decision of the RTC for failure to comply
with Section 22 of B.P. Blg. 129 and Section 22(b) of the Interim Rules and Guidelines (CA-G.R. CV
No. 11404). According to the CA, Co should have filed a petition for review and not an ordinary
appeal (Rollo, Vol. I, p. 22).
The judgment of the MTC became final and executory on November 19, 1986.
On January 2, 1987, a Manifestation and Motion was filed by respondent as counsel for Co in CA-
G.R. CV No. 11404, arguing that the decisions of the MTC and the RTC were null and void for being
contrary to law, justice and equity for allowing the lessor to increase by 300% the rentals for an old
house. Respondent, admitting his mistake in filing an ordinary appeal instead of a petition for review,
prayed that he be allowed to file an action for annulment.
On February 23, 1987, the CA gave due course to respondent's Manifestation and Motion and let the
records remain with it. However, on November 10, 1987, the said court ordered the records in CA-
G.R. CV No. 11404 to be remanded to the court a quo.
On March 9, 1987, respondent filed with the CA a Petition for Annulment of Decisions and/or
Reformation or Novation of Decisions of the MTC and the RTC (CA-G.R. SP No. 11690), insisting
that the decisions were not in accordance with existing laws and policies. On December 17, 1987,
the CA dismissed the petition for annulment or novation explaining that
. . . , aside from the reliefs provided in these two sections (Secs. 1 & 2, Rule 38),
there is no other means whereby the defeated party may procure final and executory
judgment to be set aside with a view to the renewal of the litigation, unless (a) the
judgment is void for want of jurisdiction or lack of due process of law, or (b) it has
been obtained by fraud, . . . . There is no allegation in the present complaint to the
effect that the judgments in the former cases were secured through fraud (Rollo, Vol.
I, p. 35; Emphasis supplied).
On January 15, 1988, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Set
Motion for Reconsideration for Oral Arguments of the CA decision. The CA denied the motion.
Again, respondent requested the CA to set his Motion For Oral Arguments on April 14, 1988.
In a resolution dated February 12, 1988, the CA denied the Motion for Oral Argument and in a
resolution dated October 18, 1988, denied the motion for reconsideration of the February 12
Resolution.
Respondent then filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with this Court (G.R. No. 86084)
questioning the decisions of the MTC and the RTC in favor of petitioner's mother. In a Resolution
dated January 4, 1989, we denied the petition for having been filed and paid late on December 12,
1988 and November 12, 1988, respectively. A motion for reconsideration from such resolution was
likewise denied with finality.
Respondent filed a Motion for the Issuance of a Prohibitory or Restraining Order (dated July 6, 1988)
in CA-G.R. SP No. 11690.
On April 12, 1988, the mother of complainant filed a Motion for Execution of the judgment in Civil
Case No. 844. Respondent filed an Opposition to the Motion for Execution on the ground that the
case was still pending review by the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 11690 and therefore the motion for
execution was premature. On August 23, 1988, the MTC ordered the issuance of a writ of execution.
Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied. The RTC affirmed the order for the
issuance of the writ of execution. Thus, a writ of execution was issued on October 18, 1988.
On October 26, 1988, respondent filed a special civil action (SP CV No. 624) with the RTC, Branch
1, Bangued, Abra for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus with preliminary injunction against the MTC,
Provincial Sheriff and complainant's mother, seeking to annul the writ of execution issued in MTC
Civil Case No. 844 and RTC Civil Case No. 344. Respondent alleged that the order granting the writ
of execution was issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction since a
petition to annul the decisions (CA-G.R. SP No. 11690) was still pending with the CA.
On October 28, 1988, the provincial sheriff, Romulo V. Paredes, deferred the implementation of the
writ of execution until the petition filed in SP CV No. 624 for certiorari was resolved. The CA denied
in SP CV No. 624 respondent's Urgent Motion to Set Aside and Declare Null and Void the Writ of
Execution.
From the decision of the RTC, Branch 1, Abra in SP CV No. 624 denying the Petition for Certiorari,
Prohibition,Mandamus with Preliminary Issuance of Prohibitory Order, respondent again filed an
Appeal and/or Review byCertiorari, Etc. with the CA (CA-G.R. SP No. 17040).
II
We have no reason to reverse the findings of the IBP Board of Governors.
Under Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is required to represent his
client "within the bounds of the law." The Code enjoins a lawyer to employ only fair and honest
means to attain the lawful objectives of his client (Rule 19.01) and warns him not to allow his client to
dictate the procedure in handling the case (Rule 19.03). In short, a lawyer is not a gun for hire.
Advocacy, within the bounds of the law, permits the attorney to use any arguable construction of the
law or rules which is favorable to his client. But the lawyer is not allowed to knowingly advance a
claim or defense that is unwarranted under existing law. He cannot prosecute patently frivolous and
meritless appeals or institute clearly groundless actions (Annotated Code of Professional
Responsibility 310 [1979]). Professional rules impose limits on a lawyer's zeal and hedge it with
necessary restrictions and qualifications (Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics 579-582 [1986]).
Under Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is required to exert every effort
and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. Implementing
said Canon are the following rules:
Rule 12.02. A lawyer shall not file multiple actions arising from the same cause.
xxx xxx xxx
Rule 12.04. A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a
judgment or misuse court processes.
It is unethical for a lawyer to abuse or wrongfully use the judicial process, like the filing of dilatory
motions, repetitious litigation and frivolous appeals for the sole purpose of frustrating and delaying
the execution of a judgment (Edelstein, The Ethics of Dilatory Motions Practice: Time for Change, 44
Fordham L. Rev. 1069 [1976]; Overmeyer v. Fidelista and Deposit Co., 554 F. 2d 539, 543 [2d Cir.
1971]).
The rights of respondent's client in Civil Case No. 844 of the MTC were fully protected and her
defenses were properly ventilated when he filed the appeal from the MTC to the RTC. But
respondent thereafter resorted to devious and underhanded means to delay the execution of the
judgment rendered by the MTC adverse to his client. The said decision became executory even
pending its appeal with the RTC because of the failure of Co to file a supersedeas bond and to pay
the monthly rentals as they fell due. Furthermore, his petition for annulment of the decisions of the
MTC and RTC which he filed with the CA (CA-G.R. No. 11690) was defective and dilatory.
According to the CA, there was no allegation therein that the courts had no jurisdiction, that his client
was denied due process, or "that the judgments in the former cases were secured through fraud."
As ruled in Regidor v. Court of Appeals, 219 SCRA 530 (1993):
A judgment can be annulled only on two grounds: (a) that the judgment is void for
want of jurisdiction or for lack of due process of law, or (b) that it has been obtained
by fraud. . . . (at p. 534).
Moreover, when the CA ordered that the records of the case be remanded, respondent knew very
well that the decision of the MTC was already ripe for execution.
This Court, in People of Paombong, Bulacan v. Court of Appeals, 218 SCRA 423 (1993), ruled:
. . . [w]hen the judgment of a superior court is remanded to the trial court for
execution, the function of the trial court is ministerial only; the trial court is merely
obliged with becoming modesty to enforce that judgment and has no jurisdiction
either to modify in any way or to reverse the same. . . . (at p. 430).
(See also Valenzona v. Court of Appeals, 226 SCRA 306 [1993] and Garbo v. Court of Appeals, 226
SCRA 250 [1993]).
Respondent filed a total of six appeals, complaints or petitions to frustrate the execution of the MTC
judgment in Civil Case No. 844, to wit:
(1) Civil Case No. 344 Appeal from the decision rendered in Civil Case No. 844 of
the Municipal Trial Court, Bangued, Abra, with the Regional Trial Court, Abra;
(2) CA-G.R. CV No. 11404 Appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Abra;
(3) CA-G.R. SP No. 11690 An Action For the Annulment of Decisions And/Or
Reformation or Novation of Decisions filed with the Court of Appeals;
(4) G.R. No. 86084 Petition For Review On Certiorari filed with the Supreme
Court;
(5) CA-G.R. SP No. 17040 Appeal And/Or Review By Certiorari, Etc. filed also
with the Court of Appeals; and,
(6) SP Civil Action No. 624 Petition For Certiorari, Prohibition, Mandamus with
Preliminary Issuance of Prohibitory Order filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch
1, Bangued, Abra.
Judging from the number of actions filed by respondent to forestall the execution of the same
judgment, respondent is also guilty of forum shopping.
In Villanueva v. Adre 172 SCRA 876 (1989), the Court explained that forum shopping exists when,
by reason of an adverse decision in one forum, defendant ventures to another for a more favorable
resolution of his case. In the case of Gabriel v. Court of Appeals, 72 SCRA 272 (1976), this Court
explained that:
Such filing of multiple petitions constitutes abuse of the Court's processes and
improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade the administration of
justice and will be punished as contempt of court. Needless to add, the lawyer who
filed such multiple or repetitious petitions (which obviously delays the execution of a
final and executory judgment) subjects himself to disciplinary action for
incompetence (for not knowing any better) or for willful violation of his duties as an
attorney to act with all good fidelity to the courts and to maintain only such actions as
appear to him to be just and are consistent with truth and honor (at p. 275).
By having wilfully and knowingly abused his rights of recourse in his efforts to get a favorable
judgment, which efforts were all rebuffed, respondent violated the duty of a member of the Bar to
institute actions only which are just and put up such defenses as he perceives to be truly contestable
under the laws (Garcia v. Francisco, 220 SCRA 512 [1993]). As correctly noted by the Committee on
Bar Discipline "in filing a number of pleadings, actions and petitioner, respondent 'has made a
mockery of the judicial processes' and disregarded canons of professional ethics in intentionally
frustrating the rights of a litigant in whose favor a judgment in the case was rendered, thus, 'abused
procedural rules to defeat ends of substantial justice'" (Report and Recommendation, IBP Committee
on Bar Discipline, p. 2).
WHEREFORE, respondent is SUSPENDED for one year.
SO ORDERED.



















Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SPECIAL THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 5655 January 23, 2006
VALERIANA U. DALISAY, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. MELANIO MAURICIO, JR., Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J .:
At bar is a motion for reconsideration of our Decision dated April 22, 2005 finding Atty. Melanio
"Batas" Mauricio, Jr., respondent, guilty of malpractice and gross misconduct and imposing upon him
the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.
A brief revisit of facts is imperative, thus:
On October 13, 2001, Valeriana U. Dalisay, complainant, engaged respondents services as counsel
in Civil Case No. 00-044, entitled "Lucio De Guzman, etc., complainants, v. Dalisay U. Valeriana,
respondent," pending before the Municipal Trial Court, Branch 1, Binangonan, Rizal.
Notwithstanding his receipt of documents and attorneys fees in the total amount of P56,000.00 from
complainant, respondent never rendered legal services for her. As a result, she terminated the
attorney-client relationship and demanded the return of her money and documents, but respondent
refused.
On January 13, 2004, Investigating Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline, found that "for the amount of P56,000.00 paid by
the complainant x x x, no action had been taken nor any pleadings prepared by the
respondent except his alleged conferences and opinions rendered when complainant
frequented his law office." She recommended that respondent be required to refund the amount
of P56,000.00 to the complainant, and surprisingly, that the complaint be dismissed.
On February 27, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XVI-2004-121, adopting
and approving in toto Commissioner Navarros Report and Recommendation.
On April 22, 2005, we rendered the assailed Decision.
Incidentally, upon learning of our Decision, respondent went to the MTC, Branch I, Binangonan,
Rizal to verify the status of Civil Case No. 00-044. There, he learned of the trial courts Decision
dated December 6, 2001 holding that "the tax declarations and title" submitted by complainant "are
not official records of the Municipal Assessor and the Registry of Deed." Thereupon, respondent filed
a Sworn Affidavit Complaint
1
against complainant charging her with violations of Article 171
2
and
172,
3
and/or Article 182
4
of the Revised Penal Code. He alleged that complainant offered tampered
evidence.
In this motion for reconsideration, respondent raises the following arguments:
First, complainant did not engage his services as counsel in Civil Case No. 00-044. She hired him
for the purpose of filing two new petitions, a petition for declaration of nullity of title and a petition for
review of a decree.
Second, Civil Case No. 00-044 was "considered submitted for decision" as early as August 6, 2001,
or more than two months prior to October 13, 2001, the date he was engaged as counsel, hence,
"he could not have done anything anymore" about it.
Third, complainant refused to provide him with documents related to the case, preventing him from
doing his job.
And fourth, complainant offered tampered evidence in Civil Case No. 00-004, prompting him to file
falsification cases against her.
In her opposition to the motion, complainant contends that: (1) respondent violated the principle of
confidentiality between a lawyer and his client when he filed falsification charges against
her; (2) respondent should have returned her money; (3) respondent should have verified the
authenticity of her documents earlier if he really believed that they are falsified; and (4) his refusal to
return her money despite this Courts directive constitutes contempt.
We deny respondents motion for reconsideration.
It is axiomatic that no lawyer is obliged to act either as adviser or advocate for every person who
may wish to become his client. He has the right to decline employment. But once he accepts money
from a client, an attorney-client relationship is established, giving rise to the duty of fidelity to the
clients cause.
5
From then on, he is expected to be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in
him. He must serve the client with competence and diligence, and champion the latters cause with
wholehearted devotion.
6

Respondent assumed such obligations when he received the amount of P56,000.00 from
complainant and agreed to handle Civil Case No. 00-044. Unfortunately, he had been remiss in the
performance of his duties. As we have ruled earlier, "there is nothing in the records to show that
he (respondent) entered his appearance as counsel of record for complainant in Civil Case
No. 00-044." Neither is there any evidence nor pleading submitted to show that he initiated new
petitions.
With ingenuity, respondent now claims that "complainant did not engage his services for Civil
Case No. 00-044" but, instead, she engaged him for the filing of two new petitions. This is obviously
a last-ditch attempt to evade culpability. Respondent knows very well that if he can successfully
disassociate himself as complainants counsel in Civil Case No.00-044, he cannot be held guilty of
any dereliction of duties.
But respondents current assertion came too late in the day. He is already bound by his previous
statements. In his Verified Comment on the Affidavit-Complaint,
7
he categorically stated that
complainant engaged his services in Civil Case No. 00-044, originally handled by Atty. Oliver
Lozano, thus:
4.a. Complainant was referred to the Respondent by Atty. Oliver Lozano.
4.b. The referral intrigued Respondent no end, simply because Atty. Oliver Lozano is a bright
lawyer and is very much capable of handling Civil Case No. 00-044.
4.c. Respondent-out of respect from Atty. Oliver Lozano did not inquire the reason for the
referral. But he was made to understand that he was being referred because Atty. Oliver
Lozano believed that Respondent would be in a better position to prosecute and/or defend
the Complainant in Civil Case No. 00-044.
x x x x x x
5.c. Complainant went to the law office of Respondent on October 13, 2001 and demanded that he
provides her with free legal service.
x x x x x x
5.e. Respondent, however, told Complainant that the case (Civil Case No. 00-044) would not
entitle her to a free legal service and advised her to just re-engage the services of Atty. Oliver
Lozano.
5.f. Undaunted, Complainant asked Respondent to assess her case and how she and her lawyer
should go prosecuting and/or defending her position therein.
5.g. Honestly believing that Complainant was no longer represented by counsel in Civil Case
No. 00-044 at that time, Respondent gave his professional opinion on the factual and legal
matters surrounding the said case.
5.h. Apparently impressed with the opinion of the Respondent, Complainant became even
more adamant in asking the former to represent her in Civil Case No. 00-044.
5.i. Respondent then told Complainant that she would be charged as a regular client is she insists in
retaining his services.
5.j. It was at this juncture that Complainant asked Respondent about his fees.
5.k. After re-assessing Civil Case No. 00-044, Respondent told Complainant that he will have
to charge her with an acceptance fee of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00), aside
form being charged for papers/pleadings that may have to be prepared and filed in court in
connection with the aforesaid case.
x x x x x x
5.n. A few days after, Respondent got a call from Atty. Oliver Lozano. The said Atty. Oliver Lozano
interceded for and in behalf of Complainant and asked that the acceptance fee that Respondent was
charging the Complainant be reduced.
x x x x x x
5.r. Complainant then returned to the office of the Respondent on October 20, 2001. The latter then
informed the former of his conversation with Atty. Oliver Lozano and his (respondents) decision to
reduce the acceptance fee.
5.s. Complainant was very grateful at the time, even shedding a tear or two simply because
Respondent had agreed to handle her case at a greatly reduced acceptance fee.
Statements of similar tenor can also be found in respondents Memorandum
8
filed with the
IBP.
Undoubtedly, respondents present version is a flagrant departure from his previous pleadings. This
cannot be countenanced. A party should decide early what version he is going to advance. A change
of theory in the latter stage of the proceedings is objectionable, not due to the strict application of
procedural rules, but because it is contrary to the rules of fair play, justice and due process.
9
The
present administrative case was resolved by the IBP on the basis of respondents previous
admission that complainant engaged his legal services in Civil Case No. 00-044. He cannot now
unbind himself from such admission and its consequences. In fact, if anything at all has been
achieved by respondents inconsistent assertions, it is his dishonesty to this Court.
At any rate, assuming arguendo that complainant indeed engaged respondents services in filing the
two (2) new petitions, instead of Civil Case No. 00-044, still, his liability is unmistakable. There is
nothing in the records to show that he filed any petition. The ethics of the profession demands that,
in such a case, he should immediately return the filing fees to complainant. In Parias v.
Paguinto,
10
we held that "a lawyer shall account for all money or property collected from the
client. Money entrusted to a lawyer for a specific purpose, such as for filing fee, but not used
for failure to file the case must immediately be returned to the client on demand." Per records,
complainant made repeated demands, but respondent is yet to return the money.
Neither do we find merit in respondents second argument. The fact that Civil Case No. 00-044 was
already "submitted for decision" does not justify his inaction. After agreeing to handle Civil Case No.
00-044, his duty is, first and foremost, to enter his appearance. Sadly, he failed to do this simple
task. He should have returned complainants money. Surely, he cannot expect to be paid for
doing nothing.
In his third argument, respondent attempts to evade responsibility by shifting the blame to
complainant. He claims that she refused to provide him with documents vital to the case. He further
claims that he would be violating the Code of Professional Responsibility by handling a case without
adequate preparation. This is preposterous. When a lawyer accepts a case, his acceptance is an
implied representation that he possesses the requisite academic learning, skill and ability to handle
the case.
11
As a lawyer, respondent knew where to obtain copies of the certificates of title. As a
matter of fact, he admitted that his Law Office, on its own, managed to verify the authenticity of
complainants title. It bears reiterating that respondent did not take any action on the case despite
having been paid for his services. This is tantamount to abandonment of his duties as a lawyer and
taking undue advantage of his client.
Finally, in an ironic twist of fate, respondent became the accuser of complainant. In his fourth
argument,respondent accuses her of offering falsified documentary evidence in Civil Case No. 00-
004, prompting him to file falsification cases against her. He thus justifies his inability to render legal
services to complainant.
Assuming that complainant indeed offered falsified documentary evidence in Civil Case No. 00-044,
will it be sufficient to exonerate respondent? We believe not. First, Canon 19 outlines the procedure
in dealing with clients who perpetrated fraud in the course of a legal proceeding. Consistent with its
mandate that a lawyer shall represent his client with zeal and only within the bounds of the law, Rule
19.02 of the same Canon specifically provides:
Rule 19.02 A lawyer who has received information that his clients has, in the course of the
representation, perpetrated a fraud upon a person or tribunal, shall promptly call upon the client
to rectify the same, andfailing which he shall terminate the relationship with such client in
accordance with the Rules of Court.
As a lawyer, respondent is expected to know this Rule. Instead of inaction, he should have
confronted complainant and ask her to rectify her fraudulent representation. If complainant refuses,
then he should terminate his relationship with her.
Understandably, respondent failed to follow the above-cited Rule. This is because there is no truth to
his claim that he did not render legal service to complainant because she falsified the documentary
evidence in Civil Case No.00-044. This brings us to the second reason why we cannot sustain his
fourth argument. The pleadings show that he learned of the alleged falsification long after
complainant had terminated their attorney-client relationship. It was a result of his active search for a
justification of his negligence in Civil Case No. 00-044. As a matter of fact, he admitted that he
verified the authenticity of complainants title only after the "news of his suspension spread in the
legal community." To our mind, there is absurdity in invoking subsequent knowledge of a fact as
justification for an act or omission that is fait accompli.
Obviously, in filing falsification charges against complainant, respondent was motivated by
vindictiveness.
In fine, let it be stressed that the authority of an attorney begins with his or her retainer.
12
It gives rise
to a relationship between an attorney and a client that is highly fiduciary in nature and of a very
delicate, exacting, and confidential character, requiring a high degree of fidelity and good faith.
13
If
much is demanded from an attorney, it is because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries with
it the correlative duties not only to the client but also to the court, to the bar, and to the public. A
lawyer who performs his duty with diligence and candor not only protects the interest of his client; he
also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the bar, and helps maintain the respect of the
community to the legal profession.
14
Indeed, law is an exacting goddess demanding of her votaries
not only intellectual but also moral discipline.
WHEREFORE, we DENY respondents motion for reconsideration. Our Decision dated April 22,
2005 is immediately executory. Respondent is directed to report immediately to the Office of the Bar
Confidant his compliance with our Decision.
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to his personal record and copies furnished the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts.
SO ORDERED.






Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 528 October 11, 1967
ANGEL ALBANO, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. PERPETUA COLOMA, respondent.
FERNANDO, J .:
This proceeding for disbarment was filed by complainant Angel Albano against respondent Perpetua
Coloma, a member of the Philippine Bar. In a letter dated June 20, 1962 addressed to this Court,
complainant alleged that during the Japanese occupation his mother, Delfina Aquino, and he
retained the services of respondent as counsel for them as plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 4147 of the
Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte. After which came the accusation that after liberation and long
after the courts had been reorganized, respondent failed to expedite the hearing and termination of
the case, as a result of which they had themselves represented by another lawyer. This
notwithstanding, it was claimed that respondent intervened in the case to collect her attorney's fees.
It was then alleged that during the hearing they were surprised when respondent presented in exhibit
a document showing that they as well as their co-plaintiffs in the case promised to pay her a
contingent fee of 33-/3% of whatever could be recovered whether in land or damages. A copy of
such document was attached to the letter. The more serious charge was that the signature therein
appearing, purportedly that of the complainant, and the writing after the name of his mother were not
made by them. It was further stated that the Honorable Delfin B. Flores, then Judge of the Court of
First Instance of Ilocos Norte, submitted the document in question to the National Bureau of
Investigation (hereinafter referred to as NBI) together with samples of his genuine signature. A copy
of the finding of the NBI was attached, the conclusion being that the questioned signature "is NOT in
the hand of the person whose sample signatures were received."
Complainant stated that being a poor man, he could hardly pay for the services of a lawyer to assist
him in the disbarment proceedings. He added the information that respondent Coloma "is a very
influential woman in the province of Ilocos Norte" as she was then a member of the provincial board.
The prayer was for the "kind and generous help regarding this matter in order that Atty. Perpetua
Coloma may be made to stand before the bar of justice and disbarred from the practice of her
profession as a lawyer."
In a resolution dated July 20, 1962, this Court required respondent Perpetua Coloma to answer the
complaint. The answer came in September 4, 1962. There was a specific denial of the allegation that
the complainant was "a victim of injustice," respondent alleging that the same was "untrue,
unfounded and imaginary." While admitting that her services were contracted by complainant and his
mother and their co-plaintiffs, in Civil Case No. 4147, she stated that there was a contingent fee of
one-third (/3) of whatever land and damages could be obtained for the plaintiffs. She denied that
she did nothing to expedite the hearing and termination of such civil case as the record would show
that she filed "more than twenty (20) papers and pleadings, went to trial for several days and with the
assistance of her sister, Atty. Oliva D. Coloma, obtained a favorable judgment in the Court of First
Instance for the petitioner and his co-plaintiffs and filed with the Honorable Court of Appeals a thirty-
five (35) page brief, finished after careful, conscientious and exhaustive study and preparation." She
attached a copy of the favorable decision rendered by Judge Simeon Ramos of November 10,
1948;
1
the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on October 13, 1950, confirming the above
favorable decision, which was penned by the then Justice Gutierrez David;
2
and the dismissal of a
petition for certiorari to review such decision in the resolution of this Court of January 10,
1951.
3
Then came a reference to a decision by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 10563-R, the
complainant as one of the plaintiffs having appealed from an order of the lower court, sustaining her
lien upon the judgment as well as "her share of one-third (/3) of the lands adjudicated" which
according to the lower court however would require that the proper action be filed. In the opinion of
the Court of Appeals penned by Justice Sanchez, now a member of this Court, an evaluation of her
service was made thus:
"Appellee served as plaintiffs' counsel for a period of about seven years. The record shows that she
was diligent in her work. That she had rendered valuable services cannot be doubted. In fact, the
final decision favorable to plaintiffs is almost wholly the result of her efforts. Literally, she gambled on
the success or failure of the litigation. She was a member of the Bar since 1940. Gauged by the
familiar rule that an attorney shall be entitled to have reasonable compensation for his services, with
a view to the importance of the subject matter of the controversy, the extent of the services
rendered, and the professional standing of the attorney, . . ., we feel, as did the trial court, that
appellee is entitled to one-third of all the lands and damages recoverable by plaintiffs under the
judgment of the Court below."
She likewise denied that she could have been removed for her failure to comply with her obligations
as counsel as she served "faithfully, efficiently, continuously and to the best of her knowledge and
capacity." Her dismissal then, according to her, "was made without cause and without the consent of
herein respondent and only on June 18, 1951, when the undersigned had already won the case for
them in the Court of First Instance and in the Court of Appeals." In view of the failure of the new
lawyers retained to be at times available in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte and as
pleadings by opposing counsel were still sent to her and out of loyalty to her former clients she
continued "to render professional legal services to complainant and his mother." Then came the
allegation "that after the case was won in the trial court and in the Court of Appeals, complainant and
his co-plaintiffs stopped seeing the undersigned and even disowned their contract with her in the trial
of [her] petition to record attorney's lien which was granted by the trial court and affirmed by the
Court of Appeals." Copies of the decisions of the trial court and the Court of Appeals, were submitted
together with the answer.
4
She characterized as "false and unjust" the averment of complainant "that
the latter and his mother did not sign Annex 'A' because they really signed the instrument in the
presence of attesting witnesses who testified to and confirmed the signing of the same, which fact
(of signing) was found and confirmed by the trial court after and affirmed by the Court of Appeals, . .
. ."
Then came the denial of the allegation of complainant that due to the seriousness of the charge,
Judge Delfin B. Flores submitted the alleged falsified document to the NBI for examination, the truth
being that it was complainant who did so. She likewise "specifically denies the authenticity and
veracity of the alleged findings of the National Bureau of Investigation on Annex 'A' because the
signatures therein are genuine and have been found to be so by the trial and appellate courts after
hearing the testimony of the instrumental witnesses and comparing the signatures in Annex 'A' with
signatures admitted to be genuine by the complainant as well as upon the affirmation of
complainant's sister and a co-plaintiff in Civil Case No. 4147." She then referred to a rule which she
considered well-settled in this jurisdiction that a question of whether or not a given document is
genuine falls within the general knowledge and competence of a judge who may inquire into its
authenticity, the testimony of instrumental witnesses sufficing, without the court being bound even by
real experts. Nor could she agree that the complainant was a poor man and could hardly afford the
services of a lawyer because thru her efforts, he and his co-plaintiffs were richer "by about
P100,000.00 (P85,000.00 in realty and P15,000.00 in cash as damages) by winning Civil Case No.
4147 for them" notwithstanding, which ingratitude had been her reward. Respondent also denied the
insinuation that she was using her influence as a board member. She stated that from 1944 to 1951,
when she rendered her services for complainant, she was in private life, not having been elected to
the provincial board until 1959.
She concluded by saying that "during her practice of law for more than twenty (20) years [she] has
strictly adhered to the ethics of the profession and has always been guided by the principles of
justice, fairness and respect for individual rights and that as a public official, [she] has never used
her influence to corrupt public servants or ordinary citizens, and all the people of Ilocos Norte well
know that complainant has no sense of justice, no integrity to preserve, no honor to treasure and no
future to build. On the other hand, the people of said province have faithfully supported [her] in her
aspirations, first as councilor and then as board member with overwhelming majorities. Said support
speaks of vindication and means full faith and credit to [her] integrity, ability and honesty." She
further submitted as affirmative defenses the cause of action being barred by (1) prior judgment and
(2) by the statute of limitations. She prayed for the dismissal of the complaint against her.
The matter was referred to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation in a
resolution of this Court dated September 7, 1962. On September 12, 1967, the report and
recommendation of the Solicitor General was submitted. He asked "that this case be dismissed." We
grant such a plea.
In his report, the Solicitor General noted that in the investigation conducted on his behalf by the
provincial fiscal of Ilocos Norte, "only the complainant appeared."
5
No evidence was introduced by
him other than the NBI report on the alleged falsified signatures. He manifested that all his evidence
could be found in the records of Civil Case No. 4147 of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos
Norte.
6
Respondent on her part, according to the Solicitor General, "merely filed a manifestation to
the effect that the contract for attorney's fees in question had already been declared genuine and
authentic by the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte, the Court of Appeals, and this Honorable
Court, in their respective decisions, copies of which were attached to her answer; that said Contract
was signed by petitioner and the instrumental witnesses thereto in her presence; and that she was
submitting the case on the annexes to her answer and the transcript of the trial of the proceedings
on the recording of her attorney's lien in Civil Case No. 4147. . . ."
7

The facts as found by the Solicitor General in so far as the services of respondent as counsel for the
complainant and his mother were concerned reveal the utmost diligence and conscientiousness on
her part. What she said in her answer was sustained in all respects.
The express finding was then made by the Solicitor General that the question of the genuineness
and due execution to pay respondent her attorney's fees "had already been litigated by the parties in
the course of the proceedings for the recording and enforcement of the attorney's lien of respondent
in Civil Case No. 4147 of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte; that the plaintiffs in said case
(one of whom is the complainant in this case) denied the genuineness and due execution of said
agreement Exh. 'A'; that they had full opportunity to present evidence in support of their said
contention; that after hearing, the trial court found said document to be genuine (pp. 43-48, rec.);
and that on appeal to the Court of Appeals, said court likewise found said document genuine . . ."
8

On this point an extended excerpt from the decision of the Court of Appeals, the opinion being
penned as noted by Justice Sanchez, was quoted. Thus:
1. Exhibit A, the written contract of professional services, shows that appellee, as plaintiffs'
attorney, is entitled to one-third of all the lands and damages which may be awarded
plaintiffs; otherwise, if the case is lost, then appellee is not entitled to compensation.
That Exhibit A was duly executed is a proven fact. A witness to that document, namely,
Sergio Manuel, testified that the cross after the name of Delfina Aquino was placed by her
and that the signature of Angel Albano, one of the plaintiffs, is the genuine signature of the
said Angel Albano. It is true that on the witness stand Delfina Aquino denied that she placed
a cross after the typewritten words "Delfina Aquino" in Exhibit A, and that Angel Albano
likewise denied his signature therein. Suffice it to say that this negative testimony will not
prevail over the positive testimony of appellee and her witness aforesaid. People vs. Bueno,
41 Phil. 447, 452; People vs. Ferrer, 44 O.G., No. 1, pp. 112, 115.
Further, appellee's evidence on this point is not limited merely to Exhibit A. The record
shows that previous thereto, there was a verbal agreement regarding said attorney's fee's.
On this point, appellee finds corroboration in the testimony of Rosario Lagasca, a blood
relation of plaintiff and Silvina Guillermo.
Plaintiffs' evidence that in 1955 appellee undertook to take up the case of plaintiffs for a
stipulated contingent fee of P2,000.00 does not merit serious consideration. It does not seem
probable that appellee would take the case on a win-or-lose basis, i.e., for the sum of
P2,000.00 in case the litigation is won and nothing in case of loss, because at that time
P2,000.00 was worth only a few gantas of rice. No lawyer in his right mind would accept
such a miserable fee.
The following testimony of Felicidad Albano, one of the plaintiffs, given in an obviously
unguarded moment, stripped plaintiffs naked of the pretense that there was no such contract
for one-third share as fees:
"Q Did you not authorize your brother, Angel Albano, or your mother, to give
one-third (1/3) of all the properties and damages?
"A We authorized them." Tr., p. 8, Galapon.
The court below, therefore, is correct in declaring that, after weighing and considering the
evidence of both parties, Exhibit A is genuine. (pp. 61- 62, rec.)
9

The Solicitor General thus concluded that the finding of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte,
and of the Court of Appeals that the questioned document "is genuine, is now res judicata and bars
complainant Angel Albano (one of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 4147) from raising said question
anew in these disbarment proceedings. As repeatedly held, the fundamental principle of res
judicata applied to all cases and proceedings, in whatever form they may be (Brillantes vs. Castro, L-
9223, June 30, 1956, 99 Phil. 497; 60 C.J.S. 31, 267), and a party can not escape the bar of a
judgment against him in a new suit on the same cause of action by varying the form of his action or
adopting a different method of presenting his cage (Wensel v. Surigao Consolidated Mining Inc., 57
O.G. 6958; Vda. de Padilla vs. Paterno, G.R. No. L-8748, Dec. 26, 1961; 50 C. J., S. 98)."
10

It was noted further that there was no oral testimony as to the alleged falsification, except the report
of the NBI, lacking in persuasive force in that it failed to state the reason or basis for its conclusion.
The observation of the Solicitor General here made is both pertinent and relevant: "The mere
conclusion in the aforesaid NBI report that the signature of complainant Angel Albano on the
document Exh. A was not written in the same hand that wrote the genuine specimens of his
signature, without any reason or reasons supporting it, is, therefore, of little or no value in evidence
and consequently, it cannot support the present charge of falsification against respondent, apart
from the fact that, as already stated, it is inadmissible on the ground of estoppel by judgment."
11
On
the reasonableness of the contingent fee collected by respondent, the Solicitor General adopted the
same view found in the decision of the Court of Appeals, already referred to being part of
respondent's answer, that such indeed was the case.
The Solicitor General could thus rightfully assert that if there was anyone guilty of bad faith in this
case "it is complainant and his co-plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 4147 who, after benefiting from the
valuable services of respondent in said case, tried to renege on their agreement for the payment of
the latter's contingent attorney's fees by dismissing her as their counsel after she had already won
for them said case in the trial court and the Court of Appeals, and later, by attempting to impugn the
authenticity and genuineness of their written agreement for the payment of attorney's fees, . . . ."
12

He was of the opinion then that even if for purposes of said case the findings in judicial cases could
not be considered binding "it is safe to conclude, from a review of the evidence in said court
proceedings taken together with the evidence before us in this case, that respondent may be
exonerated herein."
13
With such a conclusion of the Solicitor General, this Court, to repeat, is in full
agreement.
Counsel, any counsel, who is worthy of his hire, is entitled to be fully recompensed for his services.
With his capital consisting solely of his brains and with his skill, acquired at tremendous cost not only
in money but in the expenditure of time and energy, he is entitled to the protection of any judicial
tribunal against any attempt on the part of a client to escape payment of his fees. It is indeed ironic if
after putting forth the best that is in him to secure justice for the party he represents, he himself
would not get his due. Such an eventuality this Court is determined to avoid. It views with
disapproval any and every effort of those benefited by counsel's services to deprive him of his hard-
earned honorarium. Such an attitude deserves condemnation.
There is this additional point to consider. As Cardozo aptly observed: "Reputation [in the legal
profession] is a plant of tender growth, and its bloom, once lost, is not easily restored."
14
This Court,
certainly is not averse to having such a risk minimized. Where, as in this case, the good name of
counsel was traduced by an accusation made in reckless disregard of the truth, an action prompted
by base ingratitude, the severest censure is called for.
Certainly, this is not to say that if a case were presented showing nonfeasance or malfeasance on
the part of a lawyer, appropriate disciplinary action would not be taken. This is not such a case
however. Respondent, as has been so clearly shown, was in no wise culpable; there is no occasion
for the corrective power of this Court coming into play.
WHEREFORE, the charge against respondent Perpetua Coloma, member of the Philippine Bar, is
hereby dismissed.






Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. L-28589 January 8, 1973
RAFAEL ZULUETA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellees,
vs.
PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS, INC., defendant-appellant.
Alfredo L. Benipayo for plaintiffs-appellee Rafael Zulueta and Carolina Zulueta.
Justo L. Albert for plaintiff-appellee Telly Albert Zulueta.
V.E. del Rosario and Associates and Salcedo, Del Rosario, Bito, Misa and Lozada for defendant-
appellant.
R E S O L U T I O N

CONCEPCION, C.J .:
Both parties in this case have moved for the reconsideration of the decision of this Court
promulgated on February 29, 1972. Plaintiffs maintain that the decision appealed from should be
affirmed in toto. The defendant, in turn, prays that the decision of this Court be "set aside ... with or
without a new trial, ... and that the complaint be dismissed, with costs; or, in the alternative, that the
amount of the award embodied therein be considerably reduced." .
Subsequently to the filing of its motion for reconsideration, the defendant filed a "petition to annul
proceedings and/or to order the dismissal of plaintiffs-appellees' complaint" upon the ground that
"appellees' complaint actually seeks the recovery of only P5,502.85 as actual damages, because, for
the purpose of determining the jurisdiction of the lower court, the unspecified sums representing
items of alleged damages, may not be considered, under the settled doctrines of this Honorable
Court," and "the jurisdiction of courts of first instance when the complaint in the present case was
filed on Sept. 30, 1965" was limited to cases "in which the demand, exclusive of interest, or the value
of the property in controversy amounts to more than ten thousand pesos" and "the mere fact that the
complaint also prays for unspecified moral damages and attorney's fees, does not bring the action
within the jurisdiction of the lower court."
We find no merit in this contention. To begin with, it is not true that "the unspecified sums
representing items or other alleged damages, may not be considered" for the purpose of
determining the jurisdiction of the court "under the settled doctrines of this Honorable Court." In
fact, not a single case has been cited in support of this allegation.
Secondly, it has been held that a clam for moral damages is one not susceptible of pecuniary
estimation.
1
In fact, Article 2217 of the Civil Code of the Philippines explicitly provides that "(t)hough
incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate
result of the defendant's wrongful act or omission." Hence, "(n)o proof pecuniary loss necessary"
pursuant to Article 2216 of the same Code "in order that moral ... damages may be adjudicated."
And "(t)he assessment of such damages ... is left to the discretion of the court" - said article adds -
"according to the circumstances of each case." Appellees' complaint is, therefore, within the original
jurisdiction of courts of first instance, which includes "all civil actions in which the subject of the
litigation is not capable of pecuniary estimation."
2

Thirdly, in its answer to plaintiffs' original and amended complainants, defendant had set up a
counterclaim in the aggregate sum of P12,000, which is, also, within the original jurisdiction of said
courts, thereby curing the alleged defect if any, in plaintiffs' complaint.
3

We need not consider the jurisdictional controversy as to the amount the appellant sues
to recover because the counterclaim interposed establishes the jurisdiction of the District
Court. Merchants' Heat & Light Co. v. James B. Clow & Sons, 204 U.S. 286, 27 S. Ct.
285, 51 L. Ed. 488; O. J. Lewis Mercantile Co. v. Klepner, 176 F. 343 (C.C.A. 2),
certiorari denied 216 U.S. 620, 30 S Ct. 575, 54 L. Ed. 641. ... .
4

... courts have said that "when the jurisdictional amount is in question, the tendering of a
counterclaim in an amount which in itself, or added to the amount claimed in the petition,
makes up a sum equal to the amount necessary to the jurisdiction of this court,
jurisdiction is established, whatever may be the state of the plaintiff's complaint."
American Sheet & Tin Plate Co. v. Winzeler (D.C.) 227 F. 321, 324.
5

Thus, in Ago v. Buslon,
6
We held:
... . Then, too, petitioner's counterclaim for P37,000.00 was, also, within the exclusive
original jurisdiction of the latter courts, and there are ample precedents to the effect
that "although the original claim involves less than the jurisdictional amount, ...
jurisdiction can be sustained if the counterclaim (of the compulsory type)" such as
the one set up by petitioner herein, based upon the damages allegedly suffered by
him in consequence of the filing of said complaint "exceeds the jurisdictional
amount." (Moore Federal Practice, 2nd ed. [1948], Vol. 3, p. 41; Ginsburg vs. Pacific
Mutual Life Ins. Co. of California, 69 Fed. [2d] 97; Home Life Ins. Co. vs. Sipp., 11
Fed. [2d]474; American Sheet & Tin Plate Co. vs. Winzeler [D.C.], 227 Fed. 321,
324; Brix vs. People's Mutual Life Ins. Co., 41 P. 2d. 537, 2 Cal. 2d. 446; Emery vs.
Pacific Employees Ins. Co., 67 P. 2d. 1046, 8 Cal. 2d. 663).
Needless to say, having not only failed to question the jurisdiction of the trial court either in that
court or in this Court, before the rendition of the latter's decision, and even subsequently thereto, by
filing the aforementioned motion for reconsideration and seeking the reliefs therein prayed for but,
also, urged both courts to exercise jurisdiction over the merits of the case, defendant is now
estopped from impugning said jurisdiction.
7

Before taking up the specific questions raised in defendant's motion for reconsideration, it should be
noted that the same is mainly predicated upon the premise that plaintiffs' version is inherently
incredible, and that this Court should accept the theory of the defense to the effect that petitioner
was off-loaded because of a bomb-scare allegedly arising from his delay in boarding the aircraft and
subsequent refusal to open his bags for inspection. We need not repeat here the reasons given in
Our decision for rejecting defendant's contention and not disturbing the findings of fact of His Honor,
the Trial Judge, who had the decided advantage denied to Us of observing the behaviour of
the witnesses in the course of the trial and found those of the plaintiffs worthy of credence, not the
evidence for the defense.
It may not be amiss however, to stress the fact that, in his written report, made in transit from Wake
to Manila orimmediately after the occurrence and before the legal implications or consequences
thereof could have been the object of mature deliberation, so that it could, in a way, be considered
as part of the res gestae Capt. Zentner stated that Zulueta had been off-loaded "due to drinking"
and "belligerent attitude," thereby belying the story of the defense about said alleged bomb-scare,
and confirming the view that said agent of the defendant had acted out of resentment because his
ego had been hurt by Mr. Zulueta's adamant refusal to be bullied by him. Indeed, had there been an
iota of truth in said story of the defense, Capt. Zentner would have caused every one of the
passengers to be frisked or searched and the luggage of all of them examined as it is done now
before resuming the flight from Wake Island. His failure to do so merely makes the artificious
nature of defendant's version more manifest. Indeed, the fact that Mrs. Zulueta and Miss Zulueta
were on board the plane shows beyond doubt that Mr. Zulueta could not possibly have intended to
blow it up.
The defense tries to explain its failure to introduce any evidence to contradict the testimony of Mr.
Zulueta as to why he had gone to the beach and what he did there, alleging that, in the very nature
of things, nobody else could have witnessed it. Moreover, the defense insists, inter alia, that the
testimony of Mr. Zulueta is inherently incredible because he had no idea as to how many toilets the
plane had; it could not have taken him an hour to relieve himself in the beach; there were eight (8)
commodes at the terminal toilet for men ; if he felt the need of relieving himself, he would have seen
to it that the soldiers did not beat him to the terminal toilets; he did not tell anybody about the reason
for going to the beach, until after the plane had taken off from Wake.
We find this pretense devoid of merit. Although Mr. Zulueta had to look for a secluded place in the
beach to relieve himself, beyond the view of others, defendant's airport manager, whom Mr. Zulueta
informed about it, soon afterthe departure of the plane, could have forthwith checked the veracity of
Mr. Zulueta's statement by asking him to indicate the specific place where he had been in the beach
and then proceeding thereto for purposes of verification.
Then, again, the passenger of a plane seldom knows how many toilets it has. As a general rule, his
knowledge is limited to the toilets for the class first class or tourist class in which he is. Then,
too, it takes several minutes for the passengers of big aircrafts, like those flying from the U.S. to the
Philippines, to deplane. Besides, the speed with which a given passenger may do so depends,
largely, upon the location of his seat in relation to the exit door. He cannot go over the heads of
those nearer than he thereto. Again, Mr. Zulueta may have stayed in the toilet terminal for some
time, expecting one of the commodes therein to be vacated soon enough, before deciding to go
elsewhere to look for a place suitable to his purpose. But he had to walk, first, from the plane to the
terminal building and, then, after vainly waiting therein for a while, cover a distance of about 400
yards therefrom to the beach, and seek there a place not visible by the people in the plane and in
the terminal, inasmuch as the terrain at Wake Island is flat. What is more, he must have had to
takeoff part, at least, of his clothing, because, without the facilities of a toilet, he had to wash himself
and, then, dry himself up before he could be properly attired and walk back the 400 yards that
separated him from the terminal building and/or the plane. Considering, in addition to the foregoing,
the fact that he was not feeling well, at that time, We are not prepared to hold that it could not have
taken him around an hour to perform the acts narrated by him.
But, why asks the defendant did he not reveal the same before the plane took off? The record
shows that, even before Mr. Zulueta had reached the ramp leading to the plane, Capt. Zentner was
already demonstrating at him in an intemperate and arrogant tone and attitude ("What do you think
you are?), thereby impelling Mr. Zulueta to answer back in the same vein. As a consequence, there
immediately ensued an altercation in the course of which each apparently tried to show that he could
not be cowed by the other. Then came the order of Capt. Zentner to off-load all of the Zuluetas,
including Mrs. Zulueta and the minor Miss Zulueta, as well as their luggage, their overcoats and
other effects handcarried by them; but, Mr. Zulueta requested that the ladies be allowed to continue
the trip. Meanwhile, it had taken time to locate his four (4) pieces of luggage. As a matter of fact,
only three (3) of them were found, and the fourth eventually remained in the plane. In short, the
issue between Capt. Zentner and Mr. Zulueta had been limited to determining whether the latter
would allow himself to be browbeaten by the former. In the heat of the altercation, nobody had
inquired about the cause of Mr. Zulueta's delay in returning to the plane, apart from the fact that it
was rather embarrassing for him to explain, in the presence and within the hearing of the
passengers and the crew, then assembled around them, why he had gone to the beach and why it
had taken him some time to answer there a call of nature, instead of doing so in the terminal
building.
Defendant's motion for reconsideration assails: (1) the amount of damages awarded as excessive;
(2) the propriety of accepting as credible plaintiffs' theory; (3) plaintiffs' right to recover either moral
or exemplary damages; (4) plaintiffs' right to recover attorney's fees; and (5) the non-enforcement of
the compromise agreement between the defendant and plaintiff's wife, Mrs. Zulueta. Upon the other
hand, plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration contests the decision of this Court reducing the amount of
damages awarded by the trial court to approximately one-half thereof, upon the ground, not only
that, contrary to the findings of this Court, in said decision, plaintiff had not contributed to the
aggravation of his altercation or incident with Capt. Zentner by reacting to his provocation with
extreme belligerency thereby allowing himself to be dragged down to the level on which said agent
of the defendant had placed himself, but, also, because the purchasing power of our local currency
is now much lower than when the trial court rendered its appealed decision, over five (5) years ago,
on July 5, 1967, which is an undeniable and undisputed fact. Precisely, for this reason, defendant's
characterization as exorbitant of the aggregate award of over P700,000 by way of damages, apart
from attorney's fees in the sum of P75,000, is untenable. Indeed, said award is now barely
equivalent to around 100,000 U. S. dollars.
It further support of its contention, defendant cites the damages awarded in previous cases to
passengers of airlines,
8
as well as in several criminal cases, and some cases for libel and slander.
None of these cases is, however, in point. Said cases against airlines referred to passengers who
were merely constrained to take atourist class accommodation, despite the fact that they had first
class tickets, and that although, in one of such cases, there was proof that the airline involved had
acted as it did to give preference to a "white" passenger, this motive was not disclosed until the trial
in court. In the case at bar, plaintiff Rafael Zulueta was "off-loaded" at Wake Island, for having dared
to retort to defendant's agent in a tone and manner matching, if not befitting his intemperate
language and arrogant attitude. As a consequence, Capt. Zentner's attempt to humiliate Rafael
Zulueta had boomeranged against him (Zentner), in the presence of the other passengers and the
crew. It was, also, in their presence that defendant's agent had referred to the plaintiffs as
"monkeys," a racial insult not made openly and publicly in the abovementioned previous cases
against airlines.
In other words, Mr. Zulueta was off-loaded, not to protect the safety of the aircraft and its
passengers, but to retaliate and punish him for the embarrassment and loss of face thus suffered by
defendant's agent. This vindictive motive is made more manifest by the note delivered to Mr. Zulueta
by defendant's airport manager at Wake Island, Mr. Sitton, stating that the former's stay therein
would be "for a minimum of one week," during which he would be charged $13.30 per day. This
reference to a "minimum of one week" revealed the intention to keep him there stranded that long,
for no other plane, headed for Manila, was expected within said period of time, although Mr. Zulueta
managed to board, days later, a plane that brought him to Hawaii, whence he flew back to the
Philippines, via Japan.
Neither may criminal cases, nor the cases for libel and slander cited in the defendant's motion for
reconsideration, be equated with the present case. Indeed, in ordinary criminal cases, the award for
damages is, in actual practice, of purely academic value, for the convicts generally belong to the
poorest class of society. There is, moreover, a fundamental difference between said cases and the
one at bar. The Zuluetas had a contract of carriage with the defendant, as a common carrier,
pursuant to which the latter was bound, for a substantial monetary considerationpaid by the former,
not merely to transport them to Manila, but, also, to do so with "extraordinary diligence" or "utmost
diligence."
9
The responsibility of the common carrier, under said contract, as regards the
passenger's safety, is of such a nature, affecting as it does public interest, that it "cannot
be dispensed with" or even "lessenedby stipulation, by the posting of notices, by statements on
tickets, or otherwise."
10
In the present case, the defendant did not only fail to comply with its
obligation to transport Mr. Zulueta to Manila, but, also, acted in a manner calculated to humiliate him,
to chastise him, to make him suffer, to cause to him the greatest possible inconvenience, by leaving
him in a desolate island, in the expectation that he would be stranded there for a "minimum of one
week" and, in addition thereto, charged therefor $13.30 a day.
It is urged by the defendant that exemplary damages are not recoverable in quasi-delicts, pursuant
to Article 2231 of our Civil Code, except when the defendant has acted with "gross negligence," and
that there is no specific finding that it had so acted. It is obvious, however, that in off-loading plaintiff
at Wake Island, under the circumstances heretofore adverted to, defendant's agents had acted with
malice aforethought and evident bad faith. If "gross negligence" warrants the award of exemplary
damages, with more reason is its imposition justified when the act performed is deliberate, malicious
and tainted with bad faith. Thus, in Lopez v. PANAM,
11
We held:
The rationale behind exemplary or corrective damages is, as the name implies, to
provide an example or correction for public good. Defendant having breached its
contracts in bad faith, the court, as stated earlier, may award exemplary damages in
addition to moral damages (Articles 2229, 2232, New Civil Code.)
Similarly, in NWA v. Cuenca,
12
this Court declared that an award for exemplary damages was
justified by the fact that the airline's "agent had acted in a wanton, reckless and oppressive manner"
in compelling Cuenca, upon arrival at Okinawa, to transfer, over his objection, from the first class,
where he was accommodated from Manila to Okinawa, to the tourist class, in his trip to Japan,
"under threat of otherwise leaving him in Okinawa," despite the fact that he had paid in full the first
class fare and was issued in Manila a first class ticket.
Defendant cites Rotea v. Halili,
13
in support of the proposition that a principal is not liable for
exemplary damages owing to acts of his agent unless the former has participated in said acts or
ratified the same. Said case involved, however, the subsidiary civil liability of an employer arising
from criminal acts of his employee, and "exemplary damages ... may be imposed when the crime
was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances."
14
Accordingly, the Rotea case is not in
point, for the case at bar involves a breach of contract, as well as a quasi-delict.
Neither may the case of Palisoc v. Brillantes,
15
invoked by the defendant, be equated with the case
at bar. The Palisoc case dealt with the liability of school officials for damages arising from the death
of a student (Palisoc) due to fist blows given by another student (Daffon), in the course of a quarrel
between them, while in a laboratory room of the Manila Technical Institute. In an action for damages,
the head thereof and the teacher in charge of said laboratory were held jointly and severally liable
with the student who caused said death, for failure of the school to provide "adequate supervision
over the activities of the students in the school premises," to protect them "from harm, whether at the
hands of fellow students or other parties." Such liability was predicated upon Article 2180 of our Civil
Code, the pertinent part of which reads:
ART. 2180. The obligation imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not only for one's
own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.
xxx xxx xxx
Lastly, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and trades shall be liable for
damages caused by their pupils and students or apprentices, so long as they remain
in their custody.
xxx xxx xxx
Obviously, the amount of damages warded in the Palisoc case is not and cannot serve as the
measure of the damages recoverable in the present case, the latter having been
caused directly and intentionally by an employee or agent of the defendant, whereas the student
who killed the young Palisoc was in no wise an agent of the school. Moreover, upon her arrival in the
Philippines, Mrs. Zulueta reported her husband's predicament to defendant's local manager and
asked him to forthwith have him (Mr. Zulueta) brought to Manila, which defendant's aforementioned
manager refused to do, thereby impliedly ratifying the off-loading of Mr. Zulueta at Wake Island.
It is next urged that, under the contract of carriage with the defendant, Mr. Zulueta was bound to be
present at the time scheduled for the departure of defendant's plane and that he had, consequently,
violated said contract when he did not show up at such time. This argument might have had some
weight had defendant's plane taken offbefore Mr. Zulueta had shown up. But the fact is that he was
ready, willing and able to board the plane about two hours before it actually took off, and that he was
deliberately and maliciously off-loaded on account of his altercation with Capt. Zentner. It should,
also, be noted that, although Mr. Zulueta was delayed some 20 to 30 minutes, the arrival or
departure of planes is often delayed for much longer periods of time. Followed to its logical
conclusion, the argument adduced by the defense suggests that airlines should be held liable for
damages due to the inconvenience and anxiety, aside from actual damages, suffered by many
passengers either in their haste to arrive at the airport on scheduled time just to find that their plane
will not take off until later, or by reason of the late arrival of the aircraft at its destination.
PANAM impugns the award of attorney's fees upon the ground that no penalty should be imposed
upon the right to litigate; that, by law, it may be awarded only in exceptional cases; that the claim for
attorney's fees has not been proven; and that said defendant was justified in resisting plaintiff's claim
"because it was patently exorbitant."
Nothing, however, can be farther from the truth. Indeed apart from plaintiff's claim for actual
damages, the amount of which is not contested, plaintiffs did not ask any specific sum by way of
exemplary and moral damages, as well as attorney's fees, and left the amount thereof to the "sound
discretion" of the lower court. This, precisely, is the reason why PANAM, now, alleges without
justification that the lower court had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the present case.
Moreover, Article 2208 of our Civil Code expressly authorizes the award of attorney's fees "when
exemplary damages are awarded," as they are in this case as well as "in any other case where
the court deems it just and equitable that attorney's fees ... be recovered," and We so deem it just
and equitable in the present case, considering the "exceptional" circumstances obtaining therein,
particularly the bad faith with which defendant's agent had acted, the place where and the conditions
under which Rafael Zulueta was left at Wake Island, the absolute refusal of defendant's manager in
Manila to take any step whatsoever to alleviate Mr. Zulueta's predicament at Wake and have him
brought to Manila which, under their contract of carriage, was defendant's obligation to discharge
with "extra-ordinary" or "utmost" diligence and, the "racial" factor that had, likewise, tainted the
decision of defendant's agent, Capt. Zentner, to off-load him at Wake Island.
As regards the evidence necessary to justify the sum of P75,000 awarded as attorney's fees in this
case, suffice it to say that the quantity and quality of the services rendered by plaintiffs' counsel
appearing on record, apart from the nature of the case and the amount involved therein, as well as
his prestige as one of the most distinguished members of the legal profession in the Philippines, of
which judicial cognizance may be taken, amply justify said award, which is a little over 10% of the
damages (P700,000) collectible by plaintiffs herein. Indeed, the attorney's fees in this case is
proportionally much less than that adjudged in Lopez v. PANAM
16
in which the judgment rendered
for attorney's fees (P50,000) was almost 20% of the damages (P275,000) recovered by the plaintiffs
therein.
The defense assails the last part of the decision sought to be reconsidered, in which relying upon
Article 172 of our Civil Code, which provides that "(t)he wife cannot bind the conjugal partnership
without the husband's consent, except in cases provided by law," and it is not claimed that this is one
of such cases We denied a motion, filed by Mrs. Zulueta, for the dismissal of this case, insofar as
she is concerned - she having settled all her differences with the defendant, which appears to have
paid her the sum of P50,000 therefor - "without prejudice to this sum being deducted from the award
made in said decision." Defendant now alleges that this is tantamount to holding that said
compromise agreement is both effective and ineffective.
This, of course, is not true. The payment is effective, insofar as it is deductible from the award, and,
because it is due (or part of the amount due) from the defendant, with or without its compromise
agreement with Mrs. Zulueta. What is ineffective is the compromise agreement, insofar as the
conjugal partnership is concerned. Mrs. Zulueta's motion was for the dismissal of the case insofar as
she was concerned, and the defense cited in support thereof Article 113 of said Code, pursuant to
which "(t)he husband must be joined in all suits by or against the wife except: ... (2) If they have in
fact been separated for at least one year." This provision, We held, however, refers to suits in which
the wife is the principal or real party in interest, not to the case at bar, "in which the husband is the
main party in interest, both as the person principally aggrieved and as administrator of the conjugal
partnership ... he having acted in this capacity in entering into the contract of carriage with PANAM
and paid the amount due to the latter, under the contract, with funds of the conjugal partnership," to
which the amounts recoverable for breach of said contract, accordingly, belong. The damages
suffered by Mrs. Zulueta were mainly an in accident of the humiliation to which her husband had
been subjected. The Court ordered that said sum of P50,00 paid by PANAM to Mrs. Zulueta be
deducted from the aggregate award in favor of the plaintiffs herein for the simple reason that upon
liquidation of the conjugal partnership, as provided by law, said amount would have to be reckoned
with, either as part of her share in the partnership, or as part of the support which might have been
or may be due to her as wife of Rafael Zulueta. It would surely be inane to sentence the defendant to
pay the P700,000 due to the plaintiffs and to direct Mrs. Zulueta to return said P50,000 to the
defendant.
In this connection, it is noteworthy that, for obvious reasons of public policy, she is not allowed by
law to waive her share in the conjugal partnership, before the dissolution thereof.
17
She cannot even
acquire any property by gratuitous title, without the husband's consent, except from her ascendants,
descendants, parents-in-law, and collateral relatives within the fourth degree.
18

It is true that the law favors and encourages the settlement of litigations by compromise agreement
between the contending parties, but, it certainly does not favor a settlement with one of the spouses,
both of whom are plaintiffs or defendants in a common cause, such as the defense of the rights of
the conjugal partnership, when the effect, even if indirect, of the compromise is to jeopardize "the
solidarity of the family" which the
law
19
seeks to protect by creating an additional cause for the misunderstanding that had arisen
between such spouses during the litigation, and thus rendering more difficult a reconciliation
between them.
It is urged that there is no proof as to the purpose of the trip of the plaintiffs, that neither is there any
evidence that the money used to pay the plane tickets came from the conjugal funds and that the
award to Mrs. Zulueta was for her personal suffering or injuries. There was, however, no individual
or specific award in favor of Mrs. Zulueta or any of the plaintiffs. The award was made in their favor
collectively. Again, in the absence of said proof, the presumption is that the purpose of the trip was
for the common benefit of the plaintiffs and that the money had come from the conjugal funds, for,
unless there is proof to the contrary, it is presumed "(t)hat things have happened according to the
ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits of life."
20
In fact Manresa maintains
21
that they are
deemed conjugal, when the source of the money used therefor is not established, even if the
purchase had been made by the wife.
22
And this is the rule obtaining in the Philippines. Even
property registered, under the Torrens system, in the name of one of the spouses, or in that of the
wife only, if acquired during the marriage, is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless
there is competent proof to the contrary.
23

PANAM maintains that the damages involved in the case at bar are not among those forming part of
the conjugal partnership pursuant to Article 153 of the Civil Code, reading:
ART. 153. The following are conjugal partnership property:
(1) That which is acquired by onerous title during the marriage at the expense of the
common fund, whether the acquisition be for the partnership, or for only one of the
spouses;
(2) That which is obtained by the industry, or work, or as salary of the spouses, or of
either of them;
(3) The fruits, rents or interests received or due during the marriage, coming from the
common property or from the exclusive property of each spouse.
Considering that the damages in question have arisen from, inter alia, a breach of plaintiffs' contract
of carriage with the defendant, for which plaintiffs paid their fare with funds presumably belonging to
the conjugal partnership, We hold that said damages fall under paragraph (1) of said Article 153, the
right thereto having been "acquired byonerous title during the marriage ... ." This conclusion is
bolstered up by Article 148 of our Civil Code, according to which:
ART. 148. The following shall be the exclusive property of each spouse:
(1) That which is brought to the marriage as his or her own;
(2) That which each acquires, during the marriage, by lucrative title;
(3) That which is acquired by right of redemption or by exchange with other property
belonging to only one of the spouses;
(4) That which is purchased with exclusive money of the wife or of the husband.
The damages involved in the case at bar do not come under any of these provisions or of the other
provisions forming part of Chapter 3, Title VI, of Book I of the Civil Code, which chapter is entitled
"Paraphernal Property." What is more, if "(t)hat which is acquired by right of redemption or by
exchange with other property belonging to only one of the spouses," and "(t)hat which is purchased
with exclusive money of the wife or of the husband,"
24
belong exclusively to such wife or husband, it
follows necessarily that that which is acquired with money of the conjugal partnership belongs
thereto or forms part thereof. The rulings in Maramba v. Lozano
25
and Perez v. Lantin,
26
cited in
defendant's motion for reconsideration, are, in effect, adverse thereto. In both cases, it was merely
held that the presumption under Article 160 of our Civil Code to the effect that all property of the
marriage belong to the conjugal partnership does not apply unless it is shown that it was acquired
during marriage. In the present case, the contract of carriage was concededly entered into, and the
damages claimed by the plaintiffs were incurred, during marriage. Hence, the rights accruing from
said contract, including those resulting from breach thereof by the defendant, are presumed to
belong to the conjugal partnership of Mr. and Mrs. Zulueta. The fact that such breach of contract was
coupled, also, with a quasi-delict constitutes an aggravating circumstance and can not possibly have
the effect of depriving the conjugal partnership of such property rights.
Defendant insists that the use of conjugal funds to redeem property does not make the property
redeemed conjugal if the right of redemption pertained to the wife. In the absence, however,
of proof that such right of redemption pertains to the wife and there is no proof that the contract of
carriage with PANAM or the money paid therefor belongs to Mrs. Zulueta the property involved, or
the rights arising therefrom, must be presumed, therefore, to form part of the conjugal partnership.
It is true that in Lilius v. Manila Railroad Co.,
27
it was held that the "patrimonial and moral damages"
awarded to a young and beautiful woman by reason of a scar in consequence of an injury
resulting from an automobile accident which disfigured her face and fractured her left leg, as well
as caused a permanent deformity, are her paraphernal property. Defendant cites, also, in support of
its contention the following passage from Colin y Capitant:
No esta resuelta expresamente en la legislacion espaola la cuestion de si las
indemnizaciones debidas por accidentes del trabaho tienen la consideracion de
gananciales, o son bienes particulares de los conyuges.
Inclinan a la solucion de que estas indemnizaciones deben ser consideradas como
gananciales, el hecho de que la sociedad pierde la capacidad de trabajocon el accidente,
que a ella le pertenece, puesto que de la sociedad son losfrutos de ese trabajo; en
cambio, la consideracion de que igual manera que losbienes que sustituyen a los que
cada conyuge lleva al matrimonio como propiostienen el caracter de propios, hace
pensar que las indemnizaciones que vengana suplir la capacidad de trabajo aportada por
cada conyuge a la sociedad, debenser juridicamente reputadas como bienes propios del
conyuge que haya sufrido elaccidente. Asi se llega a la misma solucion aportada por la
jurisprudencia francesca.
28

This opinion is, however, undecisive, to say the least. It should be noted that Colin y Capitant were
commenting on the French Civil Code; that their comment referred to indemnities due in
consequence of "accidentes del trabajo "resulting in physical injuries sustained by one of the
spouses (which Mrs. Zulueta has not suffered); and that said commentators admit that the question
whether or not said damages are paraphernal property or belong to the conjugal partnership is not
settled under the Spanish law.
29
Besides, the French law and jurisprudence to which the
comments of Planiol and Ripert, likewise, refer are inapposite to the question under
consideration, because they differ basically from the Spanish law in the treatment of the property
relations between husband and wife. Indeed, our Civil Code, like the Spanish Civil Code, favors the
system of conjugal partnership of gains. Accordingly, the former provides that, "(i)n the absence of
marriage settlements, or when the same are void, the system of relative community or conjugal
partnership of gains ... shall govern the property relations between" the spouses.
30
Hence, "(a)ll
property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it
pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife."
31

No similar rules are found in the French Civil Code. What is more, under the provisions thereof, the
conjugal partnership exists only when so stipulated in the "capitulaciones matrimoniales" or by way
of exception. In the language of Manresa
Prescindimos de los preceptos de los Condigos de Francia, Italia, Holanda, Portugal,
Alemania y Suiza, porsue solo excepcionalmente, o cuando asi se pacta en las
capitulaciones, admiten el sistema de gananciales.
32

Again, Colin y Capitant, as well as the Lilius case, refer to damages recovered for physical injuries
suffered by the wife. In the case at bar, the party mainly injured, although not physically, is the
husband.
Accordingly, the other Philippine cases
33
and those from Louisiana whose civil law is based upon
the French Civil Code cited by the defendant, which similarly refer to moral damages due to
physical injuries suffered by the wife, are, likewise, inapplicable to the case at bar.
We find, therefore, no plausible reason to disturb the views expressed in Our decision promulgated
on February 29, 1972.
WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration above-referred to should be, as they are hereby
denied.












Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 86100-03 January 23, 1990
METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and ARTURO ALAFRIZ and
ASSOCIATES, respondents.
Bautista, Picazo, Buyco, Tan & Fider for petitioner.
Arturo A. Alafriz & Associates for and in their own behalf.

REGALADO, J .:
This petition for review on certiorari impugns the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. Nos.
08265-08268
1
affirming the order of Branch 168, Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial
Region, in Civil Cases Nos. 19123-28, 19136 and 19144, fixing attorney's fees and directing herein
petitioner Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank, for brevity), as defendant in said civil
cases, to pay its attorneys, herein private respondent Arturo Alafriz and Associates, movant therein,
the amount of P936,000.00 as attorney's fees on a quantum meruitbasis.
The records show that from March, 1974 to September, 1983, private respondent handled the
above-mentioned civil cases before the then Court of First Instance of Pasig (Branches I, II, VI, X,
XIII, XIX, XX AND XXIV) in behalf of petitioner.
2
The civil cases were all for the declaration of nullity
of certain deeds of sale, with damages.
The antecedental facts
3
which spawned the filing of said actions are undisputed and are
hereinunder set forth as found by the trial court and adopted substantially in the decision of
respondent court. A certain Celedonio Javier bought seven (7) parcels of land owned by Eustaquio
Alejandro, et al., with a total area of about ten (10) hectares. These properties were thereafter
mortgaged by Javier with the petitioner to secure a loan obligation of one Felix Angelo Bautista
and/or International Hotel Corporation. The obligors having defaulted, petitioner foreclosed the
mortgages after which certificates of sale were issued by the provincial sheriff in its favor as
purchaser thereof Subsequently, Alejandro, alleging deceit, fraud and misrepresentation committed
against him by Javier in the sale of the parcels of land, brought suits against Javier et al., and
included petitioner as defendant therein.
It was during the pendency of these suits that these parcels of land were sold by petitioner to its
sister corporation, Service Leasing Corporation on March 23, 1983 for the purported price of
P600,000.00. On the same day, the properties were resold by the latter to Herby Commercial and
Construction Corporation for the purported price of P2,500,000.00. Three months later, or on June 7,
1983, Herby mortgaged the same properties with Banco de Oro for P9,200,000.00. The lower court
found that private respondent, did not have knowledge of these transfers and transactions.
As a consequence of the transfer of said parcels of land to Service Leasing Corporation, petitioner
filed an urgent motion for substitution of party on July 28, 1983. Private respondent, on its part, filed
on August 16, 1983 a verified motion to enter in the records of the aforesaid civil cases its charging
lien, pursuant to Section 37, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, equivalent to twenty-five percent (25%)
of the actual and current market values of the litigated properties as its attorney's fees. Despite due
notice, petitioner failed to appear and oppose said motion, as a result of which the lower court
granted the same and ordered the, Register of Deeds of Rizal to annotate the attorney's liens on the
certificates of title of the parcels of land.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs Alejandro, et al. in the aforesaid civil cases, which had been consolidated
and were pending before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, filed a motion to dismiss their complaints
therein, which motion the lower court granted with prejudice in its order dated September 5, 1983.
On December 29, 1983, the same court ordered the Register of Deeds to annotate the attorney's
liens of private respondent on the derivative titles which cancelled Transfer Certificates of Title Nos.
453093 to 453099 of the original seven (7) parcels of land hereinbefore adverted to.
On May 28,1984, private respondent filed a motion to fix its attorney's fees, based on quantum
meruit, which motion precipitated an exchange of arguments between the parties. On May 30, 1984,
petitioner manifested that it had fully paid private respondent; the latter, in turn, countered that the
amount of P50,000.00 given by petitioner could not be considered as full payment but merely a cash
advance, including the amount of P14,000.00 paid to it on December 15, 1980. It further appears
that private respondent attempted to arrange a compromise with petitioner in order to avoid suit,
offering a compromise amount of P600,000.00 but the negotiations were unsuccessful.
Finally, on October 15,1984, the court a quo issued the order assailed on appeal before respondent
court, granting payment of attorney's fees to private respondent, under the following dispositive
portion:
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the motion is hereby granted and the Metropolitan Bank and
Trust Company (METROBANK) and Herby Commercial and Construction
Corporation
4
are hereby ordered to pay the movant Arturo Alafriz and Associates the
amount of P936,000.00 as its proper, just and reasonable attorney's fees in these
cases.
5

On appeal, respondent court affirmed the order of the trial court in its decision promulgated on
February 11, 1988. A motion for reconsideration, dated March 3, 1988, was filed by petitioner but the
same was denied in a resolution promulgated on November 19, 1988, hence the present recourse.
The issues raised and submitted for determination in the present petition may be formulated thus: (1)
whether or not private respondent is entitled to the enforcement of its charging lien for payment of its
attorney's fees; (2) whether or not a separate civil suit is necessary for the enforcement of such lien
and (3) whether or not private respondent is entitled to twenty-five (25%) of the actual and current
market values of the litigated properties on aquantum meruit basis.
On the first issue, petitioner avers that private respondent has no enforceable attorney's charging
lien in the civil cases before the court below because the dismissal of the complaints therein were
not, in the words of Section 37, Rule 138, judgments for the payment of money or executions issued
in pursuance of such judgments.
6

We agree with petitioner.
On the matter of attorney's liens Section 37, Rule 138 provides:
. . . He shall also have a lien to the same extent upon all judgments for the payment
of money, and executions issued in pursuance of such judgments, which he has
secured in a litigation of his client, from and after the time when he shall have caused
a statement of his claim of such lien to be entered upon the records of the court
rendering such judgment, or issuing such execution, and shall have caused written
notice thereof to be delivered to his client and to the adverse party; and he shall have
the same right and power over such judgments and executions as his client would
have to enforce his lien and secure the payment of his just fees and disbursements.
Consequent to such provision, a charging lien, to be enforceable as security for the payment of
attorney's fees, requires as a condition sine qua non a judgment for money and execution in
pursuance of such judgment secured in the main action by the attorney in favor of his client. A
lawyer may enforce his right to fees by filing the necessary petition as an incident in the main action
in which his services were rendered when something is due his client in the action from which the
fee is to be paid.
7

In the case at bar, the civil cases below were dismissed upon the initiative of the plaintiffs "in view of
the frill satisfaction of their claims."
8
The dismissal order neither provided for any money judgment
nor made any monetary award to any litigant, much less in favor of petitioner who was a defendant
therein. This being so, private respondent's supposed charging lien is, under our rule, without any
legal basis. It is flawed by the fact that there is nothing to generate it and to which it can attach in the
same manner as an ordinary lien arises and attaches to real or personal property.
In point is Morente vs. Firmalino,
9
cited by petitioner in support of its position. In that case, movant-
appellant attorney sought the payment of his fees from his client who was the defendant in a
complaint for injunction which was dismissed by the trial court after the approval of an agreement
entered into by the litigants. This Court held:
. . . The defendant having suffered no actual damage by virtue of the issuance of a
preliminary injunction, it follows that no sum can be awarded the defendant for
damages. It becomes apparent, too, that no amount having been awarded the
defendant, herein appellant's lien could not be enforced. The appellant, could, by
appropriate action, collect his fees as attorney.
Private respondent would nevertheless insist that the lien attaches to the "proceeds of a judgment of
whatever nature,"
10
relying on the case of Bacolod-Murcia Milling Co. Inc. vs. Henares
11
and some
American cases holding that the lien attaches to the judgment recovered by an attorney and the
proceeds in whatever form they may be.
12

The contention is without merit just as its reliance is misplaced. It is true that there are some
American cases holding that the lien attaches even to properties in litigation. However, the statutory
rules on which they are based and the factual situations involved therein are neither explained nor
may it be said that they are of continuing validity as to be applicable in this jurisdiction. It cannot be
gainsaid that legal concepts of foreign origin undergo a number of variegations or nuances upon
adoption by other jurisdictions, especially those with variant legal systems.
In fact, the same source from which private respondent culled the American cases it cited expressly
declares that "in the absence of a statute or of a special agreement providing otherwise, the general
rule is that an attorney has no lien on the land of his client, notwithstanding such attorney has, with
respect to the land in question, successfully prosecuted a suit to establish the title of his client
thereto, recovered title or possession in a suit prosecuted by such client, or defended successfully
such client's right and title against an unjust claim or an unwarranted attack,"
13
as is the situation in
the case at bar. This is an inescapable recognition that a contrary rule obtains in other jurisdictions
thereby resulting in doctrinal rulings of converse or modulated import.
To repeat, since in our jurisdiction the applicable rule provides that a charging lien attaches only to
judgments for money and executions in pursuance of such judgment, then it must be taken in haec
verba. The language of the law is clear and unequivocal and, therefore, it must be taken to mean
exactly what it says, barring any necessity for elaborate interpretation.
14

Notably, the interpretation, literal as it may appear to be, is not without support in Philippine case law
despite the dearth of cases on all fours with the present case. In Caina et al. vs. Victoriano, et
al.,
15
the Court had the occasion to rule that "the lien of respondent is not of a nature which attaches
to the property in litigation but is at most a personal claim enforceable by a writ of execution."
In Ampil vs. Juliano-Agrava, et al.,
16
the Court once again declared that a charging lien
"presupposes that the attorney has secured a favorable money judgment for his client . . ." Further,
in Director of Lands vs. Ababa, et al.,
17
we held that "(a) charging lien under Section 37, Rule 138 of
the Revised Rules of Court is limited only to money judgments and not to judgments for the
annulment of a contract or for delivery of real property as in the instant case."
Even in the Bacolod-Murcia Milling case, which we previously noted as cited by private respondent,
there was an express declaration that "in this jurisdiction, the lien does not attach to the property in
litigation."
Indeed, an attorney may acquire a lien for his compensation upon money due his client from the
adverse party in any action or proceeding in which the attorney is employed, but such lien does not
extend to land which is the subject matter of the litigation.
18
More specifically, an attorney merely
defeating recovery against his client as a defendant is not entitled to a lien on the property involved
in litigation for fees and the court has no power to fix the fee of an attorney defending the client's title
to property already in the client's
possession.
19

While a client cannot defeat an attorney's right to his charging lien by dismissing the case,
terminating the services of his counsel, waiving his cause or interest in favor of the adverse party or
compromising his action,
20
this rule cannot find application here as the termination of the cases
below was not at the instance of private respondent's client but of the opposing party.
The resolution of the second issue is accordingly subsumed in the preceding discussion which
amply demonstrates that private respondent is not entitled to the enforcement of its charging lien.
Nonetheless, it bears mention at this juncture that an enforceable charging lien, duly recorded, is
within the jurisdiction of the court trying the main case and this jurisdiction subsists until the lien is
settled.
21
There is certainly no valid reason why the trial court cannot pass upon a petition to
determine attorney's fees if the rule against multiplicity of suits is to be activated.
22
These decisional
rules, however, apply only where the charging lien is valid and enforceable under the rules.
On the last issue, the Court refrains from resolving the same so as not to preempt or interfere with
the authority and adjudicative facility of the proper court to hear and decide the controversy in a
proper proceeding which may be brought by private respondent.
A petition for recovery of attorney's fees, either as a separate civil suit or as an incident in the main
action, has to be prosecuted and the allegations therein established as any other money claim. The
persons who are entitled to or who must pay attorney's fees have the right to be heard upon the
question of their propriety or amount.
23
Hence, the obvious necessity of a hearing is beyond cavil.
Besides, in fixing a reasonable compensation for the services rendered by a lawyer on the basis
of quantum meruit, the elements to be considered are generally (1) the importance of the subject
matter in controversy, (2) the extent of the services rendered, and (3) the professional standing of
the lawyer.
24
These are aside from the several other considerations laid down by this Court in a
number of decisions as pointed out by respondent court.
25
A determination of all these factors would
indispensably require nothing less than a full-blown trial where private respondent can adduce
evidence to establish its right to lawful attorney's fees and for petitioner to oppose or refute the
same.
Nothing in this decision should, however, be misconstrued as imposing an unnecessary burden on
private respondent in collecting the fees to which it may rightfully be entitled. But, as in the exercise
of any other right conferred by law, the proper legal remedy should be availed of and the procedural
rules duly observed to forestall and obviate the possibility of abuse or prejudice, or what may be
misunderstood to be such, often to the undeserved discredit of the legal profession.
Law advocacy, it has been stressed, is not capital that yields profits. The returns it births are simple
rewards for a job done or service rendered. It is a calling that, unlike mercantile pursuits which enjoy
a greater deal of freedom from government interference, is impressed with public interest, for which
it is subject to State regulation.
26

ACCORDINGLY, the instant petition for review is hereby GRANTED and the decision of respondent
Court of Appeals of February 11, 1988 affirming the order of the trial court is hereby REVERSED
and SET ASIDE, without prejudice to such appropriate proceedings as may be brought by private
respondent to establish its right to attorney's fees and the amount thereof.
SO ORDERED.










Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

A.M. No. 1625 February 12, 1990
ANGEL L. BAUTISTA, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N

PER CURIAM:
In a verified complaint filed by Angel L. Bautista on May 19, 1976, respondent Ramon A. Gonzales
was charged with malpractice, deceit, gross misconduct and violation of lawyer's oath. Required by
this Court to answer the charges against him, respondent filed on June 19, 1976 a motion for a bill of
particulars asking this Court to order complainant to amend his complaint by making his charges
more definite. In a resolution dated June 28, 1976, the Court granted respondent's motion and
required complainant to file an amended complaint. On July 15, 1976, complainant submitted an
amended complaint for disbarment, alleging that respondent committed the following acts:
1. Accepting a case wherein he agreed with his clients, namely,
Alfaro Fortunado, Nestor Fortunado and Editha Fortunado
[hereinafter referred to as the Fortunados] to pay all expenses,
including court fees, for a contingent fee of fifty percent (50%) of the
value of the property in litigation.
2. Acting as counsel for the Fortunados in Civil Case No. Q-15143,
wherein Eusebio Lopez, Jr. is one of the defendants and, without said
case being terminated, acting as counsel for Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in
Civil Case No. Q-15490;
3. Transferring to himself one-half of the properties of the Fortunados,
which properties are the subject of the litigation in Civil Case No. Q-
15143, while the case was still pending;
4. Inducing complainant, who was his former client, to enter into a
contract with him on August 30, 1971 for the development into a
residential subdivision of the land involved in Civil Case No. Q-15143,
covered by TCT No. T-1929, claiming that he acquired fifty percent
(50%) interest thereof as attorney's fees from the Fortunados, while
knowing fully well that the said property was already sold at a public
auction on June 30, 1971, by the Provincial Sheriff of Lanao del Norte
and registered with the Register of Deeds of Iligan City;
5. Submitting to the Court of First Instance of Quezon City falsified
documents purporting to be true copies of "Addendum to the Land
Development Agreement dated August 30, 1971" and submitting the
same document to the Fiscal's Office of Quezon City, in connection
with the complaint for estafa filed by respondent against complainant
designated as I.S. No. 7512936;
6. Committing acts of treachery and disloyalty to complainant who
was his client;
7. Harassing the complainant by filing several complaints without
legal basis before the Court of First Instance and the Fiscal's Office of
Quezon City;
8. Deliberately misleading the Court of First Instance and the Fiscal's
Office by making false assertion of facts in his pleadings;
9. Filing petitions "cleverly prepared (so) that while he does not
intentionally tell a he, he does not tell the truth either."
Respondent filed an answer on September 29, 1976 and an amended answer on November 18,
1976, denying the accusations against him. Complainant filed a reply to respondent's answer on
December 29, 1976 and on March 24, 1977 respondent filed a rejoinder.
In a resolution dated March 16, 1983, the Court referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor
General for investigation, report and recommendation. In the investigation conducted by the Solicitor
General, complainant presented himself as a witness and submitted Exhibits "A" to "PP", while
respondent appeared both as witness and counsel and submitted Exhibits "1" to "11". The parties
were required to submit their respective memoranda.
On May 16, 1988 respondent filed a motion to dismiss the complaint against him, claiming that the
long delay in the resolution of the complaint against him constitutes a violation of his constitutional
right to due process and speedy disposition of cases. Upon order of the Court, the Solicitor General
filed a comment to the motion to dismiss on August 8, 1988, explaining that the delay in the
investigation of the case was due to the numerous requests for postponement of scheduled hearings
filed by both parties and the motions for extension of time to file their respective memoranda."
[Comment of the Solicitor General, p. 2; Record, p. 365]. Respondent filed a reply to the Solicitor
General's comment on October 26, 1988. In a resolution dated January 16, 1989 the Court required
the Solicitor General to submit his report and recommendation within thirty (30) days from notice.
On April 11, 1989, the Solicitor General submitted his report with the recommendation that Atty.
Ramon A. Gonzales be suspended for six (6) months. The Solicitor General found that respondent
committed the following acts of misconduct:
a. transferring to himself one-half of the properties of his clients during the pendency
of the case where the properties were involved;
b. concealing from complainant the fact that the property subject of their land
development agreement had already been sold at a public auction prior to the
execution of said agreement; and
c. misleading the court by submitting alleged true copies of a document where two
signatories who had not signed the original (or even the xerox copy) were made to
appear as having fixed their signatures [Report and Recommendation of the Solicitor
General, pp. 17-18; Rollo, pp. 403-404].
Respondent then filed on April 14, 1989 a motion to refer the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation and disposition pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of
Court. Respondent manifested that he intends to submit more evidence before the IBP. Finally, on
November 27, 1989, respondent filed a supplemental motion to refer this case to the IBP, containing
additional arguments to bolster his contentions in his previous pleadings.
I.
Preliminarily, the Court will dispose of the procedural issue raised by respondent. It is respondent's
contention that the preliminary investigation conducted by the Solicitor General was limited to the
determination of whether or not there is sufficient ground to proceed with the case and that under
Rule 139 the Solicitor General still has to file an administrative complaint against him. Respondent
claims that the case should be referred to the IBP since Section 20 of Rule 139-B provides that:
This Rule shall take effect on June 1, 1988 and shall supersede the present Rule 139
entitled DISBARMENT OR SUSPENSION OF ATTORNEYS. All cases pending
investigation by the Office of the Solicitor General shall be transferred to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors for investigation and disposition
as provided in this Rule except those cases where the investigation has been
substantially completed.
The above contention of respondent is untenable. In the first place, contrary to respondent's claim,
reference to the IBP of complaints against lawyers is not mandatory upon the Court [Zaldivar v.
Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 79690-707; Zaldivar v. Gonzales, G.R. No. 80578, October 7, 1988].
Reference of complaints to the IBP is not an exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139-B of
the Revised Rules of Court [Ibid]. Under Sections 13 and 14 of Rule 139-B, the Supreme Court may
conduct disciplinary proceedings without the intervention of the IBP by referring cases for
investigation to the Solicitor General or to any officer of the Supreme Court or judge of a lower court.
In such a case, the report and recommendation of the investigating official shall be reviewed directly
by the Supreme Court. The Court shall base its final action on the case on the report and
recommendation submitted by the investigating official and the evidence presented by the parties
during the investigation.
Secondly, there is no need to refer the case to the IBP since at the time of the effectivity of Rule 139-
B [June 1, 1988] the investigation conducted by the Office of the Solicitor General had been
substantially completed. Section 20 of Rule 139-B provides that only pending cases, the
investigation of which has not been substantially completed by the Office of the Solicitor General,
shall be transferred to the IBP. In this case the investigation by the Solicitor General was terminated
even before the effectivity of Rule 139-B. Respondent himself admitted in his motion to dismiss that
the Solicitor General terminated the investigation on November 26, 1986, the date when respondent
submitted his reply memorandum [Motion to Dismiss, p. 1; Record, p. 353].
Thirdly, there is no need for further investigation since the Office of the Solicitor General already
made a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the case. To refer the case to the IBP, as
prayed for by the respondent, will result not only in duplication of the proceedings conducted by the
Solicitor General but also to further delay in the disposition of the present case which has lasted for
more than thirteen (13) years.
Respondent's assertion that he still has some evidence to present does not warrant the referral of
the case to the IBP. Considering that in the investigation conducted by the Solicitor General
respondent was given ample opportunity to present evidence, his failure to adduce additional
evidence is entirely his own fault. There was therefore no denial of procedural due process. The
record shows that respondent appeared as witness for himself and presented no less than eleven
(11) documents to support his contentions. He was also allowed to cross-examine the complainant
who appeared as a witness against him.
II.
The Court will now address the substantive issue of whether or not respondent committed the acts of
misconduct alleged by complainant Bautista.
After a careful review of the record of the case and the report and recommendation of the Solicitor
General, the Court finds that respondent committed acts of misconduct which warrant the exercise
by this Court of its disciplinary power.
The record shows that respondent prepared a document entitled "Transfer of Rights" which was
signed by the Fortunados on August 31, 1971. The document assigned to respondent one-half (1/2)
of the properties of the Fortunados covered by TCT No. T-1929, with an area of 239.650 sq. mm.,
and TCT No. T-3041, with an area of 72.907 sq. m., for and in consideration of his legal services to
the latter. At the time the document was executed, respondent knew that the abovementioned
properties were the subject of a civil case [Civil Case No. Q-15143] pending before the Court of First
Instance of Quezon City since he was acting as counsel for the Fortunados in said case [See Annex
"B" of Original Complaint, p. 12; Rollo, p. 16]. In executing the document transferring one-half (1/2)
of the subject properties to himself, respondent violated the law expressly prohibiting a lawyer from
acquiring his client's property or interest involved in any litigation in which he may take part by virtue
of his profession [Article 1491, New Civil Code]. This Court has held that the purchase by a lawyer of
his client's property or interest in litigation is a breach of professional ethics and constitutes
malpractice [Hernandez v. Villanueva, 40 Phil. 774 (1920); Go Beltran v. Fernandez, 70 Phil. 248
(1940)].
However, respondent notes that Canon 10 of the old Canons of Professional Ethics, which states
that "[t]he lawyer should not purchase any interests in the subject matter of the litigation which he is
conducting," does not appear anymore in the new Code of Professional Responsibility. He therefore
concludes that while a purchase by a lawyer of property in litigation is void under Art. 1491 of the
Civil Code, such purchase is no longer a ground for disciplinary action under the new Code of
Professional Responsibility.
This contention is without merit. The very first Canon of the new Code states that "a lawyer shall
uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal process"
(Emphasis supplied), Moreover, Rule 138, Sec. 3 of the Revised Rules of Court requires every
lawyer to take an oath to 44 obey the laws [of the Republic of the Philippines] as well as the legal
orders of the duly constituted authorities therein." And for any violation of this oath, a lawyer may be
suspended or disbarred by the Supreme Court [Rule 138, Sec. 27, Revised Rules of Court]. All of
these underscore the role of the lawyer as the vanguard of our legal system. The transgression of
any provision of law by a lawyer is a repulsive and reprehensible act which the Court will not
countenance. In the instant case, respondent, having violated Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, must be
held accountable both to his client and to society.
Parenthetically, it should be noted that the persons mentioned in Art. 1491 of the Civil Code are
prohibited from purchasing the property mentioned therein because of their existing trust relationship
with the latter. A lawyer is disqualified from acquiring by purchase the property and rights in litigation
because of his fiduciary relationship with such property and rights, as well as with the client. And it
cannot be claimed that the new Code of Professional Responsibility has failed to emphasize the
nature and consequences of such relationship. Canon 17 states that "a lawyer owes fidelity to the
cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him." On the other
hand, Canon 16 provides that "a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that
may come into his possession." Hence, notwithstanding the absence of a specific provision on the
matter in the new Code, the Court, considering the abovequoted provisions of the new Code in
relation to Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, as well as the prevailing jurisprudence, holds that the
purchase by a lawyer of his client's property in litigation constitutes a breach of professional ethics
for which a disciplinary action may be brought against him.
Respondent's next contention that the transfer of the properties was not really implemented,
because the land development agreement on which the transfer depended was later rescinded, is
untenable. Nowhere is it provided in the Transfer of Rights that the assignment of the properties of
the Fortunados to respondent was subject to the implementation of the land development
agreement. The last paragraph of the Transfer of Rights provides that:
... for and in consideration of the legal services of ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES,
Filipino, married to Lilia Yusay, and a resident of 23 Sunrise Hill, New Manila,
Quezon City, rendered to our entire satisfaction, we hereby, by these presents, do
transfer and convey to the said ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES, his heirs,
successor, and assigns, one-half (1/2) of our rights and interests in the
abovedescribed property, together with all the improvements found therein [Annex D
of the Complaint, Record, p. 28; Emphasis supplied].
It is clear from the foregoing that the parties intended the transfer of the properties to respondent to
be absolute and unconditional, and irrespective of whether or not the land development agreement
was implemented.
Another misconduct committed by respondent was his failure to disclose to complainant, at the time
the land development agreement was entered into, that the land covered by TCT No. T-1929 had
already been sold at a public auction. The land development agreement was executed on August
31, 1977 while the public auction was held on June 30, 1971.
Respondent denies that complainant was his former client, claiming that his appearance for the
complainant in an anti-graft case filed by the latter against a certain Gilbert Teodoro was upon the
request of complainant and was understood to be only provisional. Respondent claims that since
complainant was not his client, he had no duty to warn complainant of the fact that the land involved
in their land development agreement had been sold at a public auction. Moreover, the sale was duly
annotated at the back of TCT No. T-1929 and this, respondent argues, serves as constructive notice
to complainant so that there was no concealment on his part.
The above contentions are unmeritorious. Even assuming that the certificate of sale was annotated
at the back of TCT No. T-1929, the fact remains that respondent failed to inform the complainant of
the sale of the land to Samauna during the negotiations for the land development agreement. In so
doing, respondent failed to live up to the rigorous standards of ethics of the law profession which
place a premium on honesty and condemn duplicitous conduct. The fact that complainant was not a
former client of respondent does not exempt respondent from his duty to inform complainant of an
important fact pertaining to the land which is subject of their negotiation. Since he was a party to the
land development agreement, respondent should have warned the complainant of the sale of the
land at a public auction so that the latter could make a proper assessment of the viability of the
project they were jointly undertaking. This Court has held that a lawyer should observe honesty and
fairness even in his private dealings and failure to do so is a ground for disciplinary action against
him [Custodio v. Esto, Adm. Case No. 1113, February 22, 1978, 81 SCRA 517].
Complainant also charges respondent with submitting to the court falsified documents purporting to
be true copies of an addendum to the land development agreement.
Based on evidence submitted by the parties, the Solicitor General found that in the document filed
by respondent with the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, the signatories to the addendum to
the land development agreement namely, Ramon A. Gonzales, Alfaro T. Fortunado, Editha T.
Fortunado, Nestor T. Fortunado, and Angel L. Bautistawere made to appear as having signed the
original document on December 9, 1972, as indicated by the letters (SGD.) before each of their
names. However, it was only respondent Alfaro Fortunado and complainant who signed the original
and duplicate original (Exh. 2) and the two other parties, Edith Fortunado and Nestor Fortunado,
never did. Even respondent himself admitted that Edith and Nestor Fortunado only signed the xerox
copy (Exh. 2-A) after respondent wrote them on May 24, 1973, asking them to sign the said xerox
copyattached to the letter and to send it back to him after signing [Rejoinder to Complainant's Reply,
pp. 4-6; Rollo, pp. 327-329]. Moreover, respondent acknowledged that Edith and Nestor Fortunado
had merely agreed by phone to sign, but had not actually signed, the alleged true copy of the
addendum as of May 23, 1973 [Respondent's Supplemental Motion to Refer this Case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, p. 16]. Thus, when respondent submitted the alleged true copy of
the addendum on May 23, 1973 as Annex "A" of his Manifestation filed with the Court of First
Instance of Quezon City, he knowingly misled the Court into believing that the original addendum
was signed by Edith Fortunado and Nestor Fortunado. Such conduct constitutes willful disregard of
his solemn duty as a lawyer to act at all times in a manner consistent with the truth. A lawyer should
never seek to mislead the court by an artifice or false statement of fact or law [Section 20 (d), Rule
138, Revised Rules of Court; Canon 22, Canons of Professional Ethics; Canon 10, Rule 10.01, Code
of Professional Responsibility].
Anent the first charge of complainant, the Solicitor General found that no impropriety was committed
by respondent in entering into a contingent fee contract with the Fortunados [Report and
Recommendation, p. 8; Record, p. 394]. The Court, however, finds that the agreement between the
respondent and the Fortunados, which provides in part that:
We the [Fortunados] agree on the 50% contingent fee, provided, you [respondent
Ramon Gonzales] defray all expenses, for the suit, including court fees.
Alfaro
T.
Fortun
ado
[signed
]
Editha
T.
Fortun
ado
[signed
]
Nestor
T.
Fortun
ado
[signed
]
C
O
N
F
O
R
M
E
Ramon
A.
Gonzal
es
[signed
]
[Annex A to the Complaint, Record, p. 4].
is contrary to Canon 42 of the Canons of Professional Ethics which provides that a lawyer may not
properly agree with a client to pay or bear the expenses of litigation. [See also Rule 16.04, Code of
Professional Responsibility]. Although a lawyer may in good faith, advance the expenses of litigation,
the same should be subject to reimbursement. The agreement between respondent and the
Fortunados, however, does not provide for reimbursement to respondent of litigation expenses paid
by him. An agreement whereby an attorney agrees to pay expenses of proceedings to enforce the
client's rights is champertous [JBP Holding Corp. v. U.S. 166 F. Supp. 324 (1958)]. Such
agreements are against public policy especially where, as in this case, the attorney has agreed to
carry on the action at his own expense in consideration of some bargain to have part of the thing in
dispute [See Sampliner v. Motion Pictures Patents Co., et al., 255 F. 242 (1918)]. The execution of
these contracts violates the fiduciary relationship between the lawyer and his client, for which the
former must incur administrative sanctions.
The Solicitor General next concludes that respondent cannot be held liable for acting as counsel for
Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No. Q-15490 while acting as counsel for the Fortunados against the
same Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No. Q-15143. The Court, after considering the record, agrees
with the Solicitor General's findings on the matter. The evidence presented by respondent shows
that his acceptance of Civil Case No. Q-15490 was with the knowledge and consent of the
Fortunados. The affidavit executed by the Fortunados on June 23, 1976 clearly states that they gave
their consent when respondent accepted the case of Eusebio Lopez, Jr. [Affidavit of Fortunados,
dated June 23, 1976; Rollo, p. 198]. One of the recognized exceptions to the rule against
representation of conflicting interests is where the clients knowingly consent to the dual
representation after full disclosure of the facts by counsel [Canon 6, Canons of Professional Ethics;
Canon 15, Rule 15.03, Code of Professional Responsibility].
Complainant also claims that respondent filed several complaints against him before the Court of
First Instance and the Fiscal's Office of Quezon City for the sole purpose of harassing him.
The record shows that at the time of the Solicitor General's investigation of this case, Civil Case No.
Q-18060 was still pending before the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, while the complaints for
libel (I.S. No. 76-5912) and perjury (I.S. No. 5913) were already dismissed by the City Fiscal for
insufficiency of evidence and lack of interest, respectively [Report and Recommendation, pp. 16-17;
Rollo, pp. 402-403]. The Solicitor General found no basis for holding that the complaints for libel and
perjury were used by respondent to harass complainant. As to Civil Case No. Q-18060, considering
that it was still pending resolution, the Solicitor General made no finding on complainants claim that
it was a mere ploy by respondent to harass him. The determination of the validity of the complaint in
Civil Case No. Q-18060 was left to the Court of First Instance of Quezon City where the case was
pending resolution.
The Court agrees with the above findings of the Solicitor General, and accordingly holds that there is
no basis for holding that the respondent's sole purpose in filing the aforementioned cases was to
harass complainant.
Grounds 6, 8 and 9 alleged in the complaint need not be discussed separately since the above
discussion on the other grounds sufficiently cover these remaining grounds.
The Court finds clearly established in this case that on four counts the respondent violated the law
and the rules governing the conduct of a member of the legal profession. Sworn to assist in the
administration of justice and to uphold the rule of law, he has "miserably failed to live up to the
standards expected of a member of the Bar." [Artiaga v. Villanueva, Adm. Matter No. 1892, July 29,
1988, 163 SCRA 638, 647]. The Court agrees with the Solicitor General that, considering the nature
of the offenses committed by respondent and the facts and circumstances of the case, respondent
lawyer should be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.
WHEREFORE, finding that respondent Attorney Ramon A. Gonzales committed serious misconduct,
the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law for SIX (6) months effective
from the date of his receipt of this Resolution. Let copies of this Resolution be circulated to all courts
of the country for their information and guidance, and spread in the personal record of Atty.
Gonzales.
SO ORDERED.










THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 124074. January 27, 1997]
RESEARCH and SERVICES REALTY, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF
APPEALS and MANUEL S. FONACIER, JR., respondents.
D E C I S I O N
DAVIDE, JR., J .:
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
questions the propriety of the award for, and the reasonableness of the
amount of, attorney's fees granted in favor of the private respondent by the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 64,
[1]
in Civil Case No.
612,
[2]
which the Court of Appeals affirmed in its decision
[3]
of 31 March 1995 in
CA-G.R. CV No. 44839.
The undisputed facts are as follows:
On 3 November 1969, the petitioner entered into a Joint Venture
Agreement with Jose, Fidel, and Antonia Carreon. Under the said agreement,
the petitioner undertook to develop, subdivide, administer, and promote the
sale of the parcels of land owned by the Carreons. The proceeds of the sale
of the lots were to be paid to the Philippine National Bank (PNB) for the
landowner's mortgage obligation, and the net profits to be shared by the
contracting parties on a 50-50 basis.
On 4 April 1983, the Carreons and a certain Patricio C. Sarile instituted
before the RTC of Makati City an action against the petitioner for rescission of
the Joint Venture Agreement. They prayed therein that pending the hearing of
the case, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued to enjoin the petitioner from
selling the lots subject of the agreement and that after hearing, the writ be
made permanent; the agreement be rescinded; and the petitioner be ordered
to pay the PNB the stipulated 15% per annum of the outstanding obligation
and to pay the plaintiffs attorney's fees, exemplary damages, expenses of
litigation, and costs of suit. This case was docketed as Civil Case No. 612 at
Branch 64 of the said court.
In its answer, which was prepared and signed by Atty. Apolonio G. Reyes,
the petitioner sought the denial of the writ of preliminary injunction, the
dismissal of the complaint, and payment in its favor of (a) P10 million by way
of actual damages; (b) P5 million by way of return to the petitioner of the
amount advanced to the Carreons, payments to the PNB, and cost of the work
on the subdivision; (c) P100,000.00 by way of exemplary damages; (d) any
and all damages up to the amount of P4,638,420.00 which the petitioner may
suffer under the terms of its Performance Bond in favor of the National
Housing Authority; (e) P50,000.00 as attorney's fees; and (f) costs of suit.
On 9 April 1985, the petitioner engaged the services of private respondent
Atty. Manuel S. Fonacier, Jr.,
[4]
who then entered his appearance in Civil Case
No. 612.
While the said case was pending, or on 24 July 1992, the petitioner,
without the knowledge of the private respondent, entered into a Memorandum
of Agreement (MOA)
[5]
with another land developer, Filstream International,
Inc. (hereinafter Filstream). Under this MOA, the former assigned its rights
and obligations under the Joint Venture Agreement in favor of the latter for a
consideration of P28 million, payable within twenty-four months.
On 31 March 1993, the petitioner terminated the legal services of the
private respondent. At the time the petitioner had already received P7 million
from Filstream.
Upon knowing the existence of the MOA, the private respondent filed in
Civil Case No. 612 an Urgent Motion to Direct Payment of Attorney's Fees
and/or Register Attorney's Charging Lien praying, among other things, that the
petitioner be ordered to pay him the sum of P700,000.00 as his contingent fee
in the case.
[6]

After hearing the motion, the trial court issued an order dated 11 October
1993 directing the petitioner to pay the private respondent the sum
of P600,000.00 as attorney's fees on the basis ofquantum meruit.
The trial court justified the award in this manner:
Insofar as material to the resolution of this Motion the records of this case show that
movant Atty. Fonacier became the counsel of defendant Research in May 1985 while
this case has been in progress. (Records, p.770). By this time also, the defendant
Research has been enjoined by the Court from executing Contracts To Sell involving
Saranay Homes Subdivision . . . . (Order dated December 3, 1984, Records pp. 625-
626). However, the said counsel for defendant Research prepared for the latter
various pleadings and represented it in Court (See Records after May 1985). Until his
services were terminated the lawyer client relationship between Atty. Fonacier and
Research was governed by a "contract" embodied in a letter addressed to Atty.
Fonacier on April 19, 1985 [sic], the pertinent portion of which is reproduced below,
as follows . . .
x x x
Soon after said letter, cases were referred to him including this case. In accordance
with their agreement, there were instances that Research gave Atty. Fonacier ten
(10%) percent of the amount received as the latter's attorney's fees pursuant to their
agreement.
The instant case in which defendant is praying to be awarded attorney's fees, is an
action for rescission of the Joint Venture Agreement between plaintiffs, Patricio
Sarile, et al., as owners of a parcel of land and defendant Research & Service Realty,
Inc., as developer of the land. At the time Atty. Fonacier entered his appearance as
counsel for defendant Research, the Court has issued a preliminary injunction against
Research. Thus all developmental and commercial activities of defendant had to
stop. In this regard, Atty. Fonacier did spade work towards persuading the plaintiffs
to agree to the relaxation of the effects of the injunction to pave the way to a
negotiation with a third-party, the Filstream. Atty. Fonancier's efforts were
complemented by the efforts of his counterpart in the plaintiff's side. The third-party
Filstream Inc., became the assignee of defendant Research. In this connection, a
memorandum of agreement was entered into between them. By the terms of
agreement, defendant Research will be receiving from the third party Filstream
International, Inc. (Filstream) the following amount. . . .
x x x
The termination of the legal services of Atty. Fonacier was made definite on March
31, 1993 at which time the Memorandum of Agreement which Research entered into
with Filstream, Inc., has already been effective. By this time also, defendant Research
has already received the first two stipulated consideration of the agreement in the total
sum of Six Million (P6,000,000.00). The necessary and legal consequence of said
"Memorandum of Agreement" is the termination of the case insofar as plaintiff
Patricio Sarile, et al. and defendant Research is concerned. The conclusion of the
Memorandum of Agreement insofar as the cause of Research is concerned, is a legal
victory for defendant Research. What could have been a loss in investment has been
turned to a legal victory. Atty. Fonancier's effort contributed to defendant's victory,
albeit outside the Court which would not have been possible without the legal
maneuvering of a lawyer.
The dismissal of the case before this Court will come in a matter of time considering
that plaintiffs, with the assumption by the third party, Filstream Inc., of what were
supposed to be the obligations to them of defendant Research pursuant to their Joint
Venture Agreement, is no longer interested in pursuing the rescission.
It is a matter of record that Atty. Fonacier is the last of the three lawyers who handled
this case. Moreover it is Atty. Fonacier who contributed to the forging of the
memorandum of agreement as testified to by Atty. Rogel Atienza one of the two
retained counsels of plaintiffs.
Considering the importance which is attached to this case, certainly it would not be
fair for Atty. Fonacier if his attorney's fees in this case would be equated only to the
measly monthly allowance of (P800.00) Pesos and office space and other office
facilities provided by defendant Research. Ten (10%) per cent of the amount which
Research had received from Filstream at the time of the termination of a lawyer-client
relationship between Atty. Fonacier and Research or P600,000.00 will be a just and
equitable compensation for Atty. Fonancier's legal services, by way of quantum
meruit (See Cabildo v. Provincial Treasurer, Ilocos Norte, et al., 54 SCRA 26).
[7]

In its Order
[8]
of 12 January 1994, the trial court denied the petitioner's
motion for reconsideration of the above order.
The petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals. In its Appellant's
Brief,
[9]
the petitioner alleged that the private respondent was not entitled to
attorney's fees under the retainer contract. Moreover, the private respondent
did not exert any effort to amicably settle the case, nor was he even present
during the negotiations for the settlement of the same. There was, therefore,
no legal and factual justification for the private respondent's "fantastic and
unreasonable claim for attorney's fees of P600,000.00."
On the other hand, the private respondent asserted that he was assured
by the petitioner that non-collection cases were included in the contingent fee
arrangement specified in the retainer contract wherein there was to be
contingent compensation for any award arising from any lawsuit handled by
him. According to him, Civil Case No. 612 was not the only "non-collection"
case he handled for the petitioner. There was a "right of way" dispute where
the petitioner was awarded P50,000.00, and the latter paid him P5,000.00, or
10% of the award as attorney's fees. He thus stressed that since under the
memorandum of agreement the petitioner was to receive P28 million, he
should be entitled to 10% thereof or P2.8 million as attorney's fees.
In its decision
[10]
of 31 March 1995, the Court of Appeals affirmed the
challenged order of the trial court. It ratiocinated as follows:
Movant-appellee, on the other hand, correctly argues that it was the clear intention of
appellant and counsel to compensate the latter for any legal services rendered by him
to the former. Stated otherwise, it was never the intention of the parties in the instant
appeal that counsel's services shall be free or to be rendered ex gratia.
xxx
It must in addition be underscored that the retainer contract of April 9, 1985 is the law
that governs the relationship between appellant and appellee. In fact, the following
provisions squarely and categorically supports the award of P600,000.00 to counsel,
to wit:
Minimal allowance of P800 per month plus contingent fees and collection cases (case
to case basis) aside from the attorney's fee recovered from any law suit.
(Paragraph 3, Retainer Contract)
In an American jurisprudence on this point cited in local annotation on the Canon of
Professional Ethics, it was held that "if a lawyer renders valuable services to one who
receives the benefits thereof, a promise to pay a reasonable value is presumed, unless
such services were intended to be gratuitous" (Young vs. Buere, 78 Cal. Am. 127) In
effect, to compensate a lawyer, we are faced with the pivotal question: "was the legal
services intended to be free or not?" If it is not free, then, appellant must simply
pay. The 10% contingent fee of the amount collected and/or to be collected in Civil
Case No. 612 of the lower court, is, to Our mind fair andreasonable. As ruled by the
Supreme Court in the case of Cosmopolitan Insurance Co. vs. Angel Reyes (G.R. L-
20199, Nov. 23, 1965) 15% was even deemed reasonable.
[11]

The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration
[12]
on the ground among
other things, that the decision is contrary to the evidence, as the trial court
granted the claim for attorney's fees based on quantum meruit, yet, the Court
of Appeals granted the same on a contingent basis which it based on an
erroneous quotation and comprehension of the following provision of the
retainer contract:
Minimal allowance of P800.00 per month plus contingent fees on collection
cases (case to case basis) aside from the attorney's fees recovered from any law
suit. (underscoring ours)
[13]

In its decision, the Court of Appeals substituted the word "on" after "contingent
fees" with the word "and." Under the aforequoted paragraph, the private
respondent was entitled to attorney's fees on contingent basis in collection
cases only. In non collection cases, he was entitled only to the attorney's fees
that might be recovered in the lawsuit.
[14]
Since Civil Case No. 612 is not a
collection case but an action for rescission of a contract, then the aforequoted
paragraph is not applicable as a basis for awarding attorney's fees to the
private respondent.
[15]

Finding nothing new in the motion for reconsideration, the Court of
Appeals denied it in the re-solution
[16]
of 15 February 1996.
The petitioner then came to us via this petition for review wherein it
contends that
I
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS HAD DECIDED THE CASE NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW AND THE UNDISPUTED FACTS OF THE CASE.
II
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN AWARDING ON CONTINGENT BASIS RESPONDENT-
APPELLEE'S ATTORNEY'S FEES ON THE BASIS OF A MEMORANDUM
OF AGREEMENT IN WHICH HE HAD NO PARTICIPATION IN THE
NEGOTIATION AND PREPARATION THEREOF.
III
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS
DISCRETION IN AWARDING EXCESSIVE AND UNREASONABLE
ATTORNEY'S FEES.
IV
THE TRIAL COURT AND THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS HAVE
NO JURISDICTION TO SATISFY ATTORNEY'S CHARGING LIEN ON A
SUM OF MONEY THAT THE COURT HAD NO AUTHORITY TO DISPOSE
OF AND OVER WHICH THE TRIAL COURT HAD MADE NO FINAL
ADJUDICATION.
The petitioner's more important argument in support of the first error is the
Court of Appeals' misquotation of the provision in the retainer contract
regarding attorney's fees on contingent basis, which the petitioner had
stressed in its motion for reconsideration. The petitioner maintains that under
the contract, attorney's fees on contingent basis could only be awarded
in collection cases, and Civil Case No. 612 is not a collection case. Hence, the
Court of Appeals erred in affirming the award on that basis, while the trial
court was correct in applying the principle of quantum meruit.
In its second assigned error, the petitioner asserts that the private
respondent admitted in his Urgent Motion to Direct Payment of Attorney's
Fees and/or Register Attorney's Charging Lien that he had not participated in
the negotiations and preparation of the memorandum of agreement, thus:
Despite the dishonest concealment, by the light of Providence coupled with a streak of
good luck, counsel discovered in the first week of March 1993 that the parties had
respectively entered into a meaningful agreement with a third-party as early as July
27, 1992, which in the case of client, case in the form of a "Memorandum of
Agreement" (MOA) . . . .
[17]

The third assigned error is but a logical consequence of the second, and
the petitioner maintains that since the private respondent "did not do anything
spectacular or out of the ordinary" in Civil Case No. 612, "except to ask for the
suspension or postponement of the proceedings thereof from 1985 to 1993,"
the P600,000.00 attorney's fees, whether on contingent basis or quantum
meruit, is excessive and unreasonable.
In the fourth imputed error, the petitioner argues that the memorandum of
agreement was never submitted to the trial court, and the trial court never
made any disposition or adjudication over the proceeds of the said
agreement. What would eventually happen then is the dismissal of Civil Case
No. 612, as the trial court itself had intimated in its challenged
order. Necessarily then, there would be no money adjudication in favor of the
petitioner as the defendant therein. Since such lien is collectible only from an
award of money that a court would adjudicate in a judgment rendered in favor
of the attorney's client pursuant to Section 37, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court,
it would follow that no attorney's charging lien could be validly entered.
We uphold the petitioner, but not necessarily on the strength of it
arguments.
The parties are in agreement that the lawyer-client relationship between
the petitioner and the private respondent, Atty. Manuel S. Fonacier, Jr., was
governed by a retainer contract dated 9 April 1985. The petitioner's
undertakings thereunder are outlined as follows:
I. CORPORAT[ION]:
1. Corporation will provide the following:
a. Office space airconditioned
b. Furnishings, tables, executive chairs, visitor's chair
& steel filing cabinet
c. Telephone facilities and partial secretarial services.
2. Legal service referrals by the corporation to its clients for additional
income of the lawyer.
3. Minimal allowance of P800 per month plus contingent fees on
contingent fees on collection cases (case to case basis) aside from the
attorney's fees recovered from any lawsuit.
4. That in case of legal problems to be attended to outside Metro Manila
and Suburbs, the corporation shall defray expenses for transportation,
lodging and other legal expenses incidental in the case.
[18]

An analysis of the contract clearly shows that it was a general retainer,
since its primary purpose was to secure beforehand the services of the private
respondent for any legal problem which might afterward arise.
[19]
The
fixed retaining fee was P800.00 a month. A retaining fee is a preliminary fee
paid to ensure and secure a lawyer's future services, to remunerate him for
being deprived, by being retained by one party, of the opportunity of rendering
services to the other party and of receiving pay from him. In the absence of
an agreement to the contrary, the retaining fee is neither made nor received in
consideration of the services contemplated; it is apart from what the client has
agreed to pay for the services which he has retained him to perform.
[20]

In the retainer contract in question, there was no intention to make the
retaining fee as the attorney's fees for the services contemplated. This is
evident from the provision allowing additional attorney's fees
in collection cases consisting of (1) a "contingent fee" and (2) whatever the
petitioner might recover as attorney's fees in each case. The latter could only
refer to the attorney's fees which the court might award to the petitioner in
appropriate cases.
While the contract did not mention non-collection cases, it is, nevertheless,
clear therefrom that such cases were not excluded from the retainership, as
borne out by the provision requiring the private respondent to "make
appearances in Court for cases involving the corporation or any allied cases
pertaining to the latter." As to such cases, there was no specific stipulation of
additional attorney's fees. Nevertheless, nothing therein shows that the
private respondent agreed to render professional service in such cases
gratuitously. The absence then of the stipulation of additional attorney's fees
cannot be construed as a bar to the collection of additional attorney's fees
in non-collection cases.
Two basic principles come into play. The first is as stated earlier, viz., that
the retaining fee is neither made nor received in consideration of the services
contemplated unless the contract itself so provides. The second is that,
unless expressly stipulated, rendition of professional services by a lawyer is
for a fee or compensation and is not gratuitous. This is implicit from the
opening clause of Section 24, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, which states
that "[a]n attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client no more
than a reasonable compensation for his services . . .," and by virtue of the
innominate contract of facio ut des (I do and you give), as enunciated by this
Court in Corpus v. Court of Appeals,
[21]
thus:
Moreover, the payment of attorney's fees . . . may also be justified by virtue of the
innominate contract of facio ut des (I do and you give) which is based on the principle
that "no one shall unjustly enrich himself at the expense of another." Innominate
contracts have been elevated to a codal provision in the New Civil Code by providing
under Article 1307 that such contracts shall be regulated by the stipulations of the
parties, by the general provisions or principles of obligations and contracts, by the
rules governing the most analogous nominate contracts, and by the customs of the
people. The rationale of this article was stated in the 1903 case of Perezvs. Pomar (2
Phil. 682).
In Perez v. Pomar,
[22]
this Court stated:
[B]ut whether the plaintiff's services were solicited or whether they were offered to
the defendant for his assistance, inasmuch as these services were accepted and made
use of by the latter, we must consider that there was a tacit and mutual consent as to
the rendition of the services. This gives rise to the obligation upon the person
benefited by the services to make compensation therefor, since the bilateral obligation
to render service as interpreter, on the one hand, and on the other to pay for the
services rendered, is thereby incurred. (Arts. 1088, 1089, and 1262 of the Civil Code).
Accordingly, as to non-collection cases where the petitioner was either a
plaintiff or a defendant, the private respondent could still collect attorney's
fees, apart from his regular retaining fee, on the basis of any-supplemental
agreement or, in its absence, under the principle of quantum meruit. There
was no such supplemental agreement in this case.
We cannot sustain the private respondent's theory that he could collect
attorney's fees on contingent basis because in the other "non-collection"
cases he handled for the petitioner' he was paid on contingent basis at the
rate of 10% of what was awarded to the petitioner. In the first place, Civil
Case No. 612 is still unresolved, and no judgment has yet been rendered in
favor of the petitioner. The amount in the memorandum of agreement could
not be made the basis of a "contingent fee" in the said case for at least three
reasons. First, in his own Urgent Motion to Direct Payment of Attorney's Fees
and/or Register Attorney's Charging Lien, the private respondent based the
contingent fee not only in Civil Case No. 612 but in a "multitude of peripheral
cases," and the contingent fee would become due and collectible only if and
when the petitioner obtains a judgment in his favor in Civil Case No. 612. The
second paragraph of page 3 of the said motion reads as follows:
Hence, from May 1985 and continuously thru the years without interruption and
surviving a series of no less than five (5) changes of Presiding Judges, the
undersigned counsel labored tirelessly in handling the defense of client. In addition to
the instant lawsuit, a multitude of peripheral cases, civil, criminal and administrative,
arising from the non-delivery of titles by client on fully paid lots in the subdivision
project were also filed as a consequence, not only against defendant but also against
its President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Needless to state, the undersigned
was designated to handle majority of these cases for both, where he appeared and
conducted trial without any "appearance fees" for more than eight (8) long years
solely relying on the contingent fee in case of recovery in the instant main
case.
[23]
(underscoring supplied for emphasis)
Second, the amount of P28 million, which Filstream agreed to pay the
petitioner, was not a judgment or award in favor of the petitioner in Civil Case
No. 612. It was the consideration of the assignment, transfer, and
conveyance to Filstream of all the petitioner's "rights, interest and participation
embodied and specified in the Joint Venture Agreement (Annex "A") and in all
the eight hundred seventy-five (875) parcels of land comprising the SARANAY
HOMES subdivision. . . ." The plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 612 were not parties
to the memorandum of agreement, and there is no showing that they agreed
to the assignment of the petitioner's rights, interest, and participation in the
Joint Venture Agreement. While paragraph 10 of the memorandum of
agreement provides that the petitioner
shall cause to sign a JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS, together with the
CARREONS regarding Civil Case No. 612 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati
and to further DISMISS, the case filed against PNB docketed as Civil Case No.
6918 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati . . . [and] shall obtain the dismissal of
all cases filed by lot buyers against it now pending with the HLURB
the fact remains that no such motion to dismiss has been filed yet in Civil
Case No. 612, and there is no assurance whatsoever that the plaintiffs therein
will sign a joint motion to dismiss. Third, as correctly posited by the petitioner,
the private respondent had no participation in the negotiations leading to, and
in the preparation of, the memorandum of agreement.
Indisputably then, the private respondent's attorney's fee on "contingent
basis" in Civil Case No. 612 is unwarranted. If at all, he could only be entitled
to attorney's fees on quantum meruitbasis as of the expiration of his retainer
contract on 31 March 1993.
Quantum meruit simply means "as much as he deserves."
[24]
In no case,
however, must a lawyer be allowed to recover more than what is reasonable
pursuant to Section 24, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, which provides:
SEC. 24. Compensation of attorneys, agreement as to fees. An attorney shall
be entitled to have and recover from his client no more than a reasonable
compensation for his services, with a view to the importance of the subject-matter of
the controversy, the extent of the services rendered, and the professional standing of
the attorney. No court shall be bound by the opinion of attorneys as expert witnesses
as to the proper compensation, but may disregard such testimony and base its
conclusion on its own professional knowledge. A written contract for services shall
control the amount to be paid therefor unless found by the court to be unconscionable
or unreasonable.
This Court had earlier declared the following as circumstances to be
considered in determining the reasonableness of a claim for attorney's
fees: (1) the amount and character of the service rendered; (2) labor, time,
and trouble involved; (3) the nature and importance of the litigation or
business in which the services were rendered; (4) the responsibility
imposed; (5) the amount of money or the value of the property affected by the
controversy or involved in the employment; (6) the skill and experience called
for in the performance of the services; (7) the professional character and
social standing of the attorney; (8) the results secured; and (9) whether the
fee is absolute or contingent, it being recognized that an attorney may
properly charge a much larger fee when it is contingent than when it is not.
[25]

Rule 20.1, Canon 20 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
enumerates the following factors which should guide a lawyer in determining
his fees:
(a) The time spent and the extent of the services rendered or
required;
(b) The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved;
(c) The importance of the subject matter;
(d) The skill demanded;
(e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of
acceptance of the proffered case;
(f) The customary charges for similar services and the
schedule of fees of the IBP Chapter to which he belongs;
(g) The amount involved in the controversy and the benefits
resulting to the client from the service;
(h) The contingency or certainty of compensation;
(i) The character of the employment, whether occasional or
established; and
(j) The professional standing of the lawyer.
It was incumbent upon the private respondent to prove the reasonable
amount of attorney's fees, taking into account the foregoing factors or
circumstances. The records before us and the trial court's 11 October 1993
order do not confirm that the private respondent proved by either testimonial
or documentary evidence that the award of P600,000.00 was
reasonable. The private respondent's testimony thereon was crucial. Yet, it
does not appear from the 11 October 1993 order that he took the witness
stand. From the Minutes of the trial court attached to the Rollo of CA-G.R. CV
No. 44839,
[26]
it appears that only Atty. Atienza and Mr. Suazo gave oral
testimony on the motion.
It necessarily follows then that the 11 October 1993 order has insufficient
factual basis, and the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in
arbitrarily fixing the private respondent's attorney's fees at P600,000.00. The
affirmance of the said order by the Court of Appeals premised on the provision
in the retainer contract regarding contingent fee is thus fatally flawed.
The interest for both the petitioner and the private respondent demands
that the trial court should conduct further proceedings in Civil Case No. 612
relative to the private respondent's motion for the payment of attorney's fees
and, thereafter, fix it in light of Section 24, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court;
Rule 20.1, Canon 20 of the Code of Professional Responsibility; and the
jurisprudentially established guiding principles in determining attorney's fees
on quantum meruit basis.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The challenged
Decision of 31 March 1995 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 44839
and the Order of 11 October 1993 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati,
Branch 64, in Civil Case No. 612 are hereby SET ASIDE. The trial court is
further DIRECTED to set for further hearing the private respondent's Urgent
Motion to Direct Payment of Attorney's Fees and/or Register Attorney's
Charging Lien and thereafter to fix the private respondent's attorney's fees in
Civil Case No. 612 as of 31 March 1993 when his contract with the petitioner
was effectively terminated, taking into account Section 24, Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court; Rule 20.1, Canon 20 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility; and the jurisprudentially established guiding principles in
determining attorney's fees on quantum meruit basis.
No pronouncement as to costs.






















FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 123989. January 26, 1998]
ATTY. DAVID B. CORPUZ, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, and
MOVIE AND TELEVISION REVIEW ANDCLASSIFICATION
BOARD,respondents.
D E C I S I O N
DAVIDE, JR., J .:
Petitioner Atty. David Corpuz (hereafter CORPUZ) asks us to set aside the 13
October 1995 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP-No. 37694
[1]
which
reversed Resolution No. 93-5964 of the Civil Service Commission (CSC),
[2]
the latter
declaring that petitioners separation from the service as Attorney V in the Movie
Television Review Board (MTRCB) was not in order and directed that he be
automatically restored to his position.
The pleadings of the parties, the decision of the Court of Appeals and the
Resolution of the CSC disclose the following facts:
On 18 July 1986, CORPUZ was appointed as the MTRCBs legal Counsel --
Prosecutor and Investigation Services (Supervising Legal Staff Officer).
[3]
The
appointment was approved by Asst. Regional Director Benita Santos of the
CSC-National Capital Region. Subsequently, CORPUZ position was
designated Attorney V under the Salary Standardization Law.
As MTRCB Legal Counsel, CORPUZ duties included attendance in Board
meetings pursuant to then Chairman Moratos memorandum of 11
September 1987.
[4]

Sometime in August 1991, the MTRCB passed MTRCB Resolution No. 8-1-
91
[5]
entitled An Act To Declare The Appointments Of The Administrative And
Subordinate Employees Of This Board As Null And Void. This undated
resolution noted that the past and present Chairmen of the MTRCB had failed
to submit for approval the appointments of administrative and subordinate
employees to the MTRCB before forwarding them to the CSC, in violation of
Section 5 of P.D. No. 876-A, and later, P.D. No. 1986.
[6]
It thus declared:
FOR ALL OF THE FOREGOING, this Board, in Session Assembled, hereby
declare[s] that ALL the appointments of the present administrative and
subordinate employees of this Board suffers [sic] from illegality and therefore
[are] considered invalid and of no value and effect ab initio.
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED BY THIS
BOARD, that the Chairman recommend to this Board, the appointment of all
or some of the present administrative and subordinate employees of this
Board, or new ones, at his initiative, discretion and preference, including the
category of the position for which the appointees [are] recommended, within a
period of ONE MONTH from the approval of this Resolution;
IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED, that in the interregnum, and in order not to
disrupt the workings and functions of this Board while this body is awaiting for
[sic] the recommendation of the appointments of the old and or new
appointees, the present administrative and subordinate employees shall hold
on [to] their position[s] in an [sic] holdover capacity.
As certified by MTRCB Secretary Vicente G. Sales,
[7]
Resolution No. 8-1-91 was
filed in his office on 1 August 1991, while Resolution No. 10-2-91, a mere reiteration of
Resolution No. 8-1-91, was approved by the MTRCB en banc on 9 October 1991. No
copy of Resolution No. 10-2-91, however, was found in the records.
CORPUZ was unaware of the promulgation of Resolution No. 8-1-91 as he was
then on leave. The Resolution was likewise kept secret and it was only on 12 March
1993 that an announcement
[8]
of its contents was posted by an Ad Hoc Committee on
the MTRCB bulletin board. This announcement invited the submission of any
information concerning the appointments involved therein to the Committee. It appears,
however, that nothing was immediately done to implement Resolution No. 8-1-91.
On 14 July 1992, Henrietta S. Mendez was appointed MTRCB
Chairman. Thereafter, new members of the Board were likewise appointed with
Mendez assuming office in August 1992.
At the MTRCB meeting of 19 January 1993, Mendez was informed about
Resolution No. 8-1-91. An Ad Hoc Committee composed of MTRCB members was
then constituted to look into the appointments extended by former Chairman Morato, as
well as the qualifications of the appointees. The Committee then posted on the MTRCB
bulletin board the 12 March 1993 announcement mentioned above.
Thereafter, the Committee resolved to recommend to the MTRCB the approval of
the appointments, except that of CORPUZ and seven others.
In a Memorandum
[9]
dated 28 June 1993, Mendez informed CORPUZ that at the
MTRCB regular meeting of 25 June 1993, his appointment was disapproved effective
30 June 1993. None of the parties attached to their pleadings a copy of the MTRCB
Resolution disapproving the appointment.
On 27 July 1993, CORPUZ and one Larry Rigor filed a complaint with the CSC
requesting a formal investigation and hearing. In her comment to the complaint,
Mendez stated that she discovered that the appointments extended by Morato were not
submitted to the MTRCB for approval pursuant to Section 5(c) of P.D. No. 1986; hence
to cure the defect, she submitted the appointments to the MTRCB.
On 31 August 1993, the CSC promulgated Resolution No. 93-3509 granting the
MTRCB authority to fill up positions vacated in the agency due to appointments which
were not submitted to the MTRCB for approval.
[10]

However, in Resolution No. 93-5964
[11]
dated 23 December 1993, the CSC ruled in
favor of CORPUZ, as follows:
It must be appreciated that the appointment of Atty. Corpuz was approved by
the Commission because it was signed by Mr. Manuel Morato, then Chairman
of [the] MTRCB and the duly authorized signatory of MTRCB
appointments. All the appointments signed by Mr. Morato in his capacity as
MTRCB Chairman are presumed to have been made after complying with all
the legal requirements including the Board approval, whether express or
implied.
The appointment of Atty. Corpuz, if defective, could have been the subject of
a direct action for revocation or recall which may be brought to the
Commission within a reasonable period of time after its approval Since no
such action was filed with the Commission, we can safely state that Corpuz
had already acquired security of tenure in the said position. Hence, the
Commission can not allow the current Boards disapproval of the said
appointment to produce any effect. Atty. Corpuz can no longer be separated
from the service except for cause and after observing the requirements of due
process.
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Commission hereby
resolves to rule that the separation of Mr. David Corpuz from the service is not
in order. Accordingly, he is automatically restored to his position of Atty. V
with payment of back salaries.
The MTRCBs motion for reconsideration was denied by the CSC in Resolution No.
94-2551
[12]
dated 20 June 1994.
In the meantime, specifically on 22 August 1994, CORPUZ became a permanent
employee of the Ombudsman.
[13]

The MTRCB filed with us a special civil action for certiorari which we referred to the
Court of Appeals in view of Republic Act No. 7902.
[14]
The Court of Appeals then
docketed the case as CA-G.R. SP No. 37694.
In its decision, the Court of Appeals declared null and void Resolution No. 93-5964
of the CSC, ruling that since the appointment of CORPUZ was not approved by the
MTRCB, the appointment was invalid and he could not invoke security of tenure. In
support of its ruling, the Court of Appeals held:
Presidential Decree No. 1986, the law creating the Movie and Television
Review and Classification Board, specifically provides as follows:
Section 16. Organization Patterns; Personnel. -- The Board shall determine
its organizational structure and staffing pattern. It shall have the power to
suspend or dismiss for cause any employee and/or approve or disapprove the
appointment, transfer or detail of employees. It shall appoint the Secretary of
the Board who shall be the official custodian of the records of the meetings of
the Board and who shall perform such other duties and functions as directed
by the Board. (Underscoring supplied)
The record shows that the appointment of respondent Atty. David Corpuz was
not approved by the Board, as mandated by Presidential Decree No. 1986,
Section 16.
The Supreme Court, in a similar case has reiterated the importance of
complying with legal requirements for a valid appointment. In Tomali vs. Civil
Service Commission (238 SCRA 572), it held:
Compliance with the legal requirements for an appointment to a civil service
position is essential in order to make it fully effective (Favis vs. Rupisan, 17
SCRA 190, cited in Mitra vs. Subido, 21 SCRA 127). Without the favorable
certification or approval of the Commission, in cases when such an approval
is required, no title to the office can yet be deemed to be permanent; vested in
favor of the appointee, and the appointment can still be recalled or withdrawn
by the appointing authority (Grospe vs. Secretary of Public Works and
Communication, 105 Phil. 129; Villanueva vs.Balallo, 9 SCRA 407;
Suarez vs. Commission on Elections, 20 SCRA 797). Until an appointment
has become a completed act, it would likewise be precipitate to invoke the
rule of security of tenure (See Aquino vs. Civil Service Commission, 208
SCRA 240; Mitra vs. Subido, 21 SCRA 797).
It appearing that respondent Atty. Corpuz appointment was not approved by
the Board, the same cannot be considered as [a] valid appointment. As such,
he cannot invoke security of tenure, even if he has rendered service for a
number of years.
Neither would the silence or the failure of the Board to recall the private
respondents appointment constitute as a [sic] consent or confirmation. In the
aforecited case, the Supreme Court restated the existing jurisprudence on the
matter, thus:
The tolerance, acquiescence or mistake of the proper officials, resulting in the
non-observance of the pertinent rules on the matter does not render the legal
requirement, on the necessity of the approval of the Commissioner on Civil
Service of appointments, ineffective and unenforceable. The employee,
whose appointment was not approved, may only be considered as a de
factoofficer. (Tomali vs. Civil Service Commission, supra citing
Favis vs. Rupisan, 17 SCRA 190, 191)
Thus, We find merit in petitioners contention that respondent Atty. David
Corpuz did not acquire a vested right nor does he presently enjoy a [sic]
security of tenure to the subject position in the MTRCB for failure to comply
with the legal requirements needed for a valid appointment. Hence, he cannot
be reinstated. Not being a permanent employee of the Movie and Television
Review and Classification Board, the tenure of respondent Atty. Corpuz
ceased when he was not properly appointed under present law.
His motion for reconsideration having been denied in the Resolution
[15]
of 13
February 1996, CORPUZ filed the instant petition under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
and asked us to reverse the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals on the sole
ground that:
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE
APPOINTMENT OF PETITIONER ATTY. DAVID B. CORPUZ DID NOT
HAVE THE APPROVAL OF THE MTRCB BOARD WHICH IF NOT
CORRECTED, IS TANTAMOUNT TO A VIOLATION OF HIS
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO SECURITY OF TENURE.
In his Memorandum, however, CORPUZ explicitly declared that he is no longer
seeking reinstatement with respondent MTRCB but for the continuity of his government
service from the time he was illegally dismissed on 30 June 1993 up to the time he was
permanently employed with the Office of the Ombudsman on 22 August 1994 plus back
salaries and other benefits due him if not for the illegal dismissal.
[16]

Pursuant to Section 2 of P.D. No. 1986, the MTRCB is composed of a Chairman, a
Vice-Chairman and thirty (30) members, all appointed by the President of the
Philippines. Section 5 thereof enumerates the following functions, powers and duties of
the Chairman as the Chief Executive Officer of the MTRCB, to wit:
(a) Execute, implement and enforce the decisions, orders, awards, rules and
regulations issued by the BOARD;
(b) Direct and supervise the operations and the internal affairs of the BOARD;
(c) Establish the internal organization and administrative procedures of the BOARD,
and recommend to the BOARD the appointment of the necessary administrative
and subordinate personnel; and
(d) Exercise such other powers and functions and perform such duties as are not
specifically lodged in the BOARD.
On the other hand, Section 16 thereof, quoted in the challenged decision of the
Court of Appeals, vests upon the Board itself the power to, inter alia, approve or
disapprove the appointments of its personnel.
It is thus clear that there are two stages in the process of appointing MTRCB
personnel, other than its Secretary, namely: (a) recommendation by the Chairman
which is accomplished by the signing of the appointment paper, which is among his
powers under Section 5(d) above; and (b) approval or disapproval by the MTRCB of the
appointment. As to the Secretary, it is the MTRCB itself that is empowered to appoint
said official pursuant to Section 16.
It is long settled in the law of public offices and officers that where the power of
appointment is absolute, and the appointee has been determined upon, no further
consent or approval is necessary, and the formal evidence of the appointment, the
commission, may issue at once. Where, however, the assent or confirmation of some
other officer or body is required, the commission can issue or the appointment may be
complete only when such assent or confirmation is obtained. In either case, the
appointment becomes complete when the last act required of the appointing power is
performed.
[17]
Until the process is completed, the appointee can claim no vested right in
the office nor invoke security of tenure. Hence, in the case of CORPUZ, since the last
act required for the completion of his appointment, viz., approval by the MTRCB itself,
was not obtained, as a matter of fact, the MTRCB ultimately disapproved it, his
appointment ceased to have effect, if at all, and his services were properly
terminated. This Court so declared in Favis v. Rupisan
[18]
where the appointment
involved was not approved by the Civil Service Commission pursuant to Section 16(h)
of R.A. No. 2260 and Section 2(a) of Rule VI of the Civil Service Rules implementing
said law; Taboy v. Court of Appeals
[19]
and Provincial Board of Cebu v. Presiding Judge
of Cebu Court of First Instance
[20]
where the appointments of subject employees were
disapproved by the Provincial Boards pursuant to the powers granted them; in Carillo v.
Court of Appeals
[21]
where the required consent of the municipal council in the
appointment of the chief of police was not obtained; and in Tomali v. Civil Service
Commission,
[22]
which the Court of Appeals relied upon, where the required submission
to and approval by the Civil Service Commission were not made as required by Section
9(h) of P.D. No. 807 and Section 11, Rule V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book
V of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987. In
the latter, this Court held that compliance with the legal requirements for an
appointment to a civil service position is essential to make it fully effective. That the
employee involved had, in fact, assumed office and performed the functions and duties
thereof is of no moment, for it matters not that the appointee had served for several
years. Those years of service cannot substitute for the want of consent of another body
required by law to complete the appointment. The tolerance, acquiescence or mistake
of the proper officials resulting in non-observance of the requirements of law or rules to
complete the appointment does not render the requirements ineffective and
unenforceable.
[23]

A public official or employee who assumed office under an incomplete appointment
is merely a de facto officer for the duration of his occupancy of the office for the reason
that he assumed office under color of a known appointment which is void by reason of
some defect or irregularity in its exercise.
[24]
Undeniably, under the facts here, CORPUZ
was such a de facto officer.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and the assailed decision of 13
October 1995 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP-No.37694 is AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
















Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 152072 January 31, 2006
ROMEO G. ROXAS and SANTIAGO N. PASTOR, Petitioners,
vs.
ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR., ENRIQUE DE ZUZUARREGUI, PACITA JAVIER,
ELIZABETH R. GONZALES, JOSEFINA R. DAZA, ELIAS REYES, NATIVIDAD REYES,
TERESITA REYES, JOSE REYES and ANTONIO REYES, Respondents.
x----------------------------------x
G.R. No. 152104 January 31, 2006
ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR., ENRIQUE DE ZUZUARREGUI, PACITA JAVIER,
ELIZABETH R. GONZALES, JOSEFINA R. DAZA, ELIAS REYES, NATIVIDAD REYES,
TERESITA REYES, JOSE REYES and ANTONIO REYES, Petitioners,
vs.
THE NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, JOSE B. H. PEDROSA, ROMEO G. ROXAS and
SANTIAGO N. PASTOR, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Before Us are two petitions for review on certiorari
1
which were consolidated per Resolution
2
of this
Court dated 27 November 2002. The petitioners in G.R. No. 152072, Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and
Santiago N. Pastor, seek the reversal and annulment of the Decision
3
and Resolution
4
of the Court of
Appeals dated 25 June 2001 and 06 February 2002, respectively. The petitioners in G.R. No.
152104, the Zuzuarreguis, on the other hand, pray that the said Decision and Resolution of the
Court of Appeals be modified. Said Decision and Resolution reversed and set aside the decision of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 98, Quezon City, dated 03 January 1994.
THE ANTECEDENTS
The instant cases had their beginnings in 1977 when the National Housing Authority (NHA) filed
expropriation proceedings against the Zuzuarreguis, petitioners in G.R. No. 152104, for parcels of
land belonging to the latter situated in Antipolo, Rizal, with a total land area of 1,790,570.36 square
meters, more or less. This case was lodged before the RTC, Branch 141, Municipality of
Makati,
5
docketed therein as Civil Case No. 26804 entitled, "National Housing Authority v. Pilar
Ibaez Vda. De Zuzuarregui, et al."
On 25 May 1983, said case was ordered archived
6
by Branch 141.
About a month before the aforecited case was ordered archived, the Zuzuarreguis engaged the legal
services of Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and Santiago N. Pastor, to represent them in Civil Case No.
26804. This was sealed by a Letter-Agreement dated 22 April 1983, which is partly reproduced
hereunder:
April 22, 1983
Mr. Antonio de Zuzuarregui, Jr.
Mrs. Pacita Javier (as heir to the late Jose de Zuzuarregui)
Mr. Antonio de Zuzuarregui ( as heir to the late Pilar Y. vda. De Zuzuarregui)
Dear Sir and Madam:
This is to confirm in writing our verbal negotiations for us to represent you in the
expropriation proceedings filed by the National Housing Authority against your goodselves
before the Court of First Instance of Rizal (now the Regional Trial Court) and docketed as
Civil Case No. 26804. Our representation shall also include the areas taken over by the
Ministry of Public Works and Highways which now formed part of the Marcos Highway at
Antipolo, Rizal.
The areas affected are the following:
x x x x
We shall endeavor to secure the just compensation with the National Housing Authority
and other governmental agencies at a price of ELEVEN PESOS (P11.00) or more per
square meter. Any lower amount shall not entitle us to any attorneys fees. At such price of
P11.00 per square meter or more our contingent fee[s] is THIRTY PERCENT (30%) of the
just compensation.
The other terms and conditions of our proposal are:
x x x x
5. You are willing to accept NHA 5-year bonds as part payment up to 75% of the total
compensation. In the event of your desire to discount the bonds, we shall assist to have
them discounted at 75% of its face value.
6. Our lawyers fees shall be in the proportion of the cash/bonds ratio of the just
compensation. Likewise our fees are subject to 10% withholding tax.
x x x x
Should the above proposal be acceptable to your goodselves, kindly signify your formal
acceptance as (sic) the space hereunder provided.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.)
SANTIAGO N. PASTOR
Lawyer
(Sgd.)
ROMEO G. ROXAS
Lawyer
CONFORME:
(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR. PACITA JAVIER
In my behalf and

as heir to the late Pilar Y. vda. De Zuzuarregui as heir to the late Jose De Zuzuarregui
7

A Motion to Set Case for Hearing,
8
dated 14 February 1984, was filed by Attys. Roxas and Pastor in
Civil Case No. 26804, praying that the case be revived and be set for hearing by the court at the
earliest date available in its calendar.
The appropriate proceedings thereafter ensued. On 29 October 1984, a Partial Decision was
rendered by Branch 141 in Civil Case No. 26804 fixing the just compensation to be paid to the
Zuzuarreguis at P30.00 per square meter.
The NHA filed a Motion for Reconsideration
9
dated 23 November 1984 praying that the Partial
Decision be reconsidered and set aside, and a new one rendered lowering the amount of just
compensation in accordance with applicable laws. Pending resolution thereof, a Joint Special Power
of Attorney was executed by Antonio De Zuzuarregui, Jr., Enrique De Zuzuarregui and Pacita Javier,
in favor of Attys. Roxas and Pastor, viz:
JOINT SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:
That We, ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR., ENRIQUE DE ZUZUARREGUI
and PACITA JAVIER, all of legal age, , do hereby appoint, name and
constitute ATTYS. ROMEO G. ROXAS and SANTIAGO PASTOR, to be our
true and lawful attorneys to act in our names and on our behalves to do and
execute all or any of the following acts and deeds subject to our approval:
x x x x
(2) To represent us in the negotiations for a compromise with the
National Housing Authority for our properties subject of the above
case;
(3) To negotiate for and in our behalves for the settlement of the just
compensation of our properties payable in cash or in bonds;
(4) To sign and prepare all papers relative to the preparation of a
Compromise Agreement or any papers and communications which
shall eventually bear our signatures; and
(5) That this Special Power of Attorney is enforce (sic) as long as
ATTYS. ROMEO G. ROXAS AND SANTIAGO PASTOR are our
lawyers in Civil Case No. 26804 before the Regional Trial Court,
Makati, Branch CXLI.
HEREBY GIVING AND GRANTING unto our said attorneys full power and
authority whatsoever requisite or necessary or proper to be done in or about
the premises, as fully to all intents and purposes as we might or could lawfully
do if personally present, and hereby ratifying and confirming all that our said
attorneys shall do or cause to be done under and by virtue of these presents.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, We have hereunto set our hands this 26th day of
August, 1985, in Makati, M. M., Philippines.
(Sgd.)
ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR.1avvph!l. ne+
(Sgd.)
ENRIQUE DE ZUZUARREGUI
(Sgd.)
PACITA JAVIER
10

On 22 November 1985, a Special Power of Attorney was executed by Beatriz Zuzuarregui vda. De
Reyes in favor of Attys. Romeo G. Roxas, Santiago Pastor and Basilio H. Toquero, quoted as
follows:
SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:
That I, BEATRIZ ZUZUARREGUI VDA. DE REYES, Filipino, of legal age,
widow, and a resident of E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City, Philippines do
hereby appoint, name and constitute ATTYS. ROMEO G. ROXAS,
SANTIAGO PASTOR and BASILIO H. TOQUERO, to be my true and lawful
attorneys :
1. To represent me in the negotiation for a Compromise with the
National Housing Authority for my properties subject to my approval in
CIVIL CASE No. 26804, entitled "National Housing Authority vs. Pilar
Ibaez de Zuzuarregui, et al., before the Regional Trial Court, Makati,
Branch CXLI;
2. To negotiate for and in my behalf for the settlement of the just
compensation of my properties payable in cash or in bond, subject to
my approval;
3. To sign and prepare all papers relative to the preparation of a
Compromise Agreement or any papers and communications which
shall eventually bear my signature;
4. To accept for and in my behalf payments for my properties after the
Compromise Agreement is duly approved by the Court, the actual
receipts of which payments shall be signed by me.
HEREBY GIVING AND GRANTING unto my said attorneys full power and
authority whatsoever requisite, necessary or proper to be done under and
by virtue of these presents.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 22nd day of
November 1985, in the City of Manila, Philippines.
(Sgd.)
BEATRIZ ZUZUARREGUI VDA. DE REYES
11

On 10 December 1985, a Letter-Agreement was executed by and between Antonio Zuzuarregui, Jr.,
Pacita Javier and Enrique De Zuzuarregui, on the one hand, and Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and
Santiago Pastor, on the other. The said Letter-Agreement reads:
December 10, 1985
Atty. Romeo G. Roxas
Atty. Santiago Pastor
Makati Executive Center
Salcedo Village, Makati
Dear Atty. Roxas & Atty. Pastor:
This will confirm an amendment to our agreement regarding your attorneys fees as our lawyers and
counsels for the Zuzuarreguis properties expropriated by National Housing Authority covering ONE
HUNDRED SEVENTY-NINE (179) HECTARES, more or less, covered by TCT Nos. 138340, 85633
and 85634 and filed as Civil Case No. 26804.
We hereby confirm and agree that we are willing to accept as final and complete settlement for our
179 hectares expropriated by NHA a price of SEVENTEEN PESOS (P17.00) per square meter, or
for a total of THIRTY MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P30.4 Million), all payable in
NHA Bonds.
We also agree and confirm that for and in consideration of your services as our lawyers and
counsels in the said expropriation case, we commit and bind ourselves to pay to you, your heirs or
assignees-in-interest, as your contingent attorneys fees any and all amount in excess of the
SEVENTEEN PESOS (P17.00) per square meter payable in NHA bonds as mentioned above.
This Letter Agreement serves also as your authority to collect directly from NHA the amount
pertaining to you as your contingent attorneys fees.
This Letter Agreement hereby amends and supersedes our previous agreement regarding your
attorneys fees as our lawyers and counsels in the above-mentioned expropriation case.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR.
In my behalf as heir to the late Pilar I. vda. de Zuzuarregui
(Sgd.)PACITA JAVIER
As heir to the late Jose De Zuzuarregui
(Sgd.)
ENRIQUE DE ZUZUARREGUI
CONFORME:
(Sgd.)ATTY. ROMEO G. ROXAS
(Sgd.)ATTY. SANTIAGO PASTOR
12

Resolution No. 1174
13
dated 16 December 1985 was issued by the NHA stating that the Zuzuarregui
property would be acquired at a cost of P19.50 per square meter; that the Zuzuarreguis would be
paid in NHA Bonds, subject to the availability of funds; and that the yield on the bonds to be paid to
the Zuzuarreguis shall be based on the Central Bank rate at the time of payment.
As a result of the aforesaid NHA Resolution, a Compromise Agreement was executed between the
Zuzuarreguis and the NHA in Civil Case No. 26804. The Compromise Agreement, stipulated among
other things, that the just compensation of the Zuzuarregui properties would be at P19.50 per square
meter payable in NHA Bonds. In a Decision dated 20 December 1985, the RTC, Branch 141, Makati,
approved the Compromise Agreement submitted by the parties.
On 27 December 1985, the NHA Legal Department, through Atty. Jose B. H. Pedrosa, released to
Atty. Romeo G. Roxas, in behalf of the Zuzuarreguis, the amount of P20,000,000.00 in NHA Bearer
Bonds as "partial payment for several parcels of land with a total area of 1,790,570.36 square
meters located in Antipolo, Rizal."
14
On even date, Atty. Romeo G. Roxas delivered NHA Bonds to
Antonio De Zuzuarregui in the amount of P15,000,000.00.
15
On 04 February 1986, the amount
of P34,500,000.00 in Bearer Bonds was again released by the NHA to Atty. Romeo G. Roxas in
behalf of the Zuzuarreguis.
16
On 14 February 1986, the Zuzuarreguis issued a receipt
17
for receiving
the amount of P30,070,000.00. This receipt included the P15,000,000.00 given to them last 27
December 1985. Again on 17 February 1986, the Zuzuarreguis, through Beatriz Zuzuarregui vda. De
Reyes, issued another receipt for the amount of P450,000.00 in NHA bonds.
18
The total amount in
NHA bonds released to Atty. Romeo G. Roxas in behalf of the Zuzuarreguis amounted
to P54,500,000.00. Out of this amount, the records show that the amount turned over to the
Zuzuarreguis by Atty. Roxas amounted to P30,520,000.00 in NHA bonds.
Computed at P19.50 per square meter, the 1,790,570.36 square meters property of the
Zuzuarreguis was expropriated at a total price of P34,916,122.00. The total amount released by the
NHA was P54,500,000.00. The difference of P19,583,878.00 is, undoubtedly, the yield on the bonds.
On 25 August 1987, a letter
19
was sent by the Zuzuarreguis new counsel, Jose F. Gonzalez, to
Attys. Roxas and Pastor, demanding that the latter deliver to the Zuzuarreguis the yield
corresponding to bonds paid by the NHA within a period of 10 days from receipt, under pain of
administrative, civil and/or criminal action.
Attys. Roxas and Pastor answered via a letter dated 21 September 1987 explaining their side of the
story. They stated therein, among other things, that the amount that they got seems huge from the
surface, but it just actually passed their hands, as it did not really go to them.
20

On 29 September 1987, a letter
21
was sent by the Zuzuarreguis through Antonio De Zuzuarregui, Jr.,
to Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and Santiago N. Pastor, informing the latter that their services as
counsels of the Zuzuarreguis (except Betty) in the expropriation proceedings filed by the NHA,
docketed as Civil Case No. 26804, was being formally terminated.
Apparently unsatisfied with the explanation of Attys. Roxas and Pastor, the Zuzuarreguis filed a civil
action for Sum of Money and Damages on 14 November 1989 before the RTC, Quezon City, Branch
98, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-4013, against the NHA, Jose B. H. Pedrosa, Atty. Romeo G.
Roxas and Atty. Santiago N. Pastor. The Zuzuarreguis demanded that the yield on the NHA bonds
be turned over to them.
After due hearing, a Decision
22
in Civil Case No. Q-89-4013 was rendered on 03 January 1994,
dismissing the Complaint. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing consideration[s], judgment is hereby rendered ordering the
dismissal of the complaint against all the defendants; and, further ordering plaintiffs, jointly and
solidarily, to:
1. Pay each of the defendants Romeo G. Roxas, Santiago Pastor and Jose B. H. Perdosa,
the amount of P200,000.00, P200,000.00 and P100,000.00, respectively, as moral damages;
2. Pay each of the defendants Roxas, Pastor and Pedrosa, the amount of P50,000.00,
P50,000.00, and P25,000.00, respectively as exemplary damages;
3. Pay attorneys fees to defendants Roxas and Pastor in the amount of P20,000.00; and
4. Pay the costs of this suit.
A Notice of Appeal
23
dated 10 February 1994 was filed by the Zuzuarreguis. Subsequently, on 26
April 1995, the Zuzuarreguis filed their appeal brief with the Court of Appeals. The case was
docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 45732.
A Decision
24
was eventually promulgated by the Fifteenth Division of the Court of Appeals on 25
June 2001, reversing and setting aside the ruling of Branch 98, viz:
Therefore, We find that the amount of P4,476,426.275 is, in the opinion of this Court, commensurate
to the services rendered by defendants-appellees. This amount has been arrived at by giving to
defendants-appellees P2.50 per square meter of the 1,790,570.51 square meter expropriated
properties of herein plaintiffs-appellants.
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision dated January 3, 1994 of the Regional
Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 98, Quezon City in Civil Case No. 89-4013
entitled "Antonio Zuzuarregui, Jr., et al. versus National Housing Authority, et al." for "Sum of Money
and Damages," is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Defendants-Appellees Roxas and Pastor
are hereby ordered to return to plaintiffs-appellants the amount of P12,596,696.425, the balance
from the P17,073,122.70, received as yield from NHA bonds after deducting the reasonable
attorneys fees in the amount of P4,476,426.275.
25

Attys. Roxas and Pastor filed a Motion for Reconsideration
26
on 25 July 2001. The Zuzuarreguis also
filed a Motion for Reconsideration
27
on 30 July 2001, not having been satisfied with the award, while
the NHA and Pedrosa filed their Motions for Reconsideration
28
on 03 August 2001.
In a Resolution dated 06 February 2002, the Court of Appeals denied for lack of merit all the Motions
for Reconsideration.
On 05 March 2002, Attys. Roxas and Pastor filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari
29
assailing the
Decision of the Court of Appeals, docketed as G.R. No. 152072. Likewise, on 21 March 2002, the
Zuzuarreguis filed their own Petition for Review on Certiorari
30
assailing the same Decision,
docketed as G.R. No. 152104.1avvph!l.ne+
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS
Attys. Roxas and Pastor, petitioners in G.R. No. 152072, assign as errors the following:
I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN
HOLDING THAT THE LETTER-AGREEMENT DATED DECEMBER 10, 1985 CANNOT BE
ALLOWED TO STAND AS THE LAW BETWEEN THE PARTIES; and
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN
HOLDING THAT DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, HEREIN PETITIONERS, CONCEALED TO THE
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES, HEREIN RESPONDENTS, THE YIELD OF THE NHA BONDS
31

The Zuzuarreguis, petitioners in G.R. No. 152101, on the other hand, assign as errors the following:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AWARDING TO PETITIONERS THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT
OF ONLY P12,596,696.425 AND NOT P17,073,122.70 MAKING A DIFFERENCE OF
P4,476,426.28
II
THE RESPONDENTS SHOULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR INTEREST FROM THE DATE OF THE
FILING OF THE COMPLAINT UNTIL FULLY PAID
III
THE RESPONDENTS SHOULD BE HELD LIABE FOR MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES
AND ATTORNEYS FEES
IV
THE RESPONDENTS NHA AND JOSE B.H. PEDROSA ARE JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE
WITH RESPONDENTS ROXAS AND PASTOR
32

ISSUE FOR RESOLUTION
Drawn from the above assignment of errors, it is patent that the principal issue that must be
addressed by this Court is:
WHETHER OR NOT THE LETTER-AGREEMENT DATED 10 DECEMBER 1985, EXECUTED BY
THE ZUZUARREGUIS, AND ATTYS. ROXAS AND PASTOR, FIXING THE EXACT AMOUNT THAT
MUST GO TO THE FORMER, SHOULD STAND AS LAW BETWEEN THE PARTIES.
THE COURTS RULING
Attys. Roxas and Pastor, petitioners in G.R. No. 152072, contend in the main that the Zuzuarreguis
are only entitled to the amount of P17.00 per square meter for the 1,790,570.36 square meters
expropriated by the government. This was, according to them, embodied in the Letter-Agreement
dated 10 December 1985, wherein the Zuzuarreguis agreed to accept the price of P17.00 per
square meter. Besides, Attys. Roxas and Pastor contend that the price of P17.00 was even way
above the P11.00 that the Zuzuarreguis were willing to accept for their properties under the Letter of
Engagement executed by the parties earlier on 22 April 1983. Computed atP17.00 per square meter,
they stress that the amount that should go to the Zuzuarreguis for their 1,790,570.36 square meters
property should be P30,439,696.10, and that in fact the Zuzuarreguis have receivedP30,520,000.00.
The Letter-Agreement dated 10 December 1985 should thus stand as law between the parties.
Since this Letter-Agreement, which was "as plain and simple as can be such that there is no need
for any further construction," already fixed the amount that would go to the Zuzuarreguis (P17.00 per
square meter), then it should be so.
Attys. Roxas and Pastor further assert that the receipts issued by the Zuzuarreguis dated 14
February 1986 and 17 February 1986 indicated that the amounts received by the latter were in "full
and final payment" for the subject properties.
The NHA, for its part, insists that there was no conspiracy between Attys. Roxas and Pastor on the
one hand, and the NHA and Atty. Pedrosa on the other, on the application of yields from NHA
bonds.
33
The Zuzuarreguis, according to the NHA, "miserably failed to substantiate and establish
conspiracy" between them.
The Zuzuarreguis, for their part, though they were triumphant in the Court of Appeals, insist that the
amounts awarded them were not enough. According to them, the P12,596,696.425 awarded by the
Court of Appeals was not correct. They should have been awarded the amount of P17,073,122.70.
Quoting the Zuzuarreguis:
Respondents Roxas and Pastor retained for themselves the amount of P3,980,000.00 which
represented the agreed attorneys fees of Roxas and Pastor at P2.50 per square meter. The amount
of P20,000,000.00 representing the yield of all the bearer bonds was, in the words of the Court of
Appeals, "deliberately hidden" by respondents Roxas and Pastor from petitioners. By mathematical
computation, the P20,000,000.00 yield should be proportionately divided at the ratio of P17.00
(petitioners) and P2.50 (share of respondents Roxas and Pastor). Following this ratio of division, of
the P20,000,000.00 yield, P17,073,122.70 should pertain to petitioners and the balance of
P2,926,877.30 to respondents Roxas and Pastor. Add this amount to the total of P3,980,000.00 at
the agreed rate of P2.50 per square meter, the total attorneys fees of respondents Roxas and
Pastor should be P6,906,877.30, not bad, again in the words of the Court of Appeals, for handling "a
simple expropriation case which ended up in a compromise agreement." It was, therefore, in error to
still deduct the amount of P4,476,426.28 from petitioners share in the yield in the amount of
P17,073,122.70 leaving then only P12,596,696.42.
What was done, however, is that the product of 1,790,570.36 sq m. (area of the expropriated land of
petitioners) and P2.50 which is 4,476,426.28 was again deducted from the P17,073,122.70 which is
the corresponding share of the petitioners out of the total yield of P20,000,000.00. If this were a
criminal case, petitioners were being sentenced twice for the same offense.
34

The Zuzuarreguis further insist that legal interest on the amount of P17,073,122.70 be imposed from
the date of the filing of the complaint, including moral and exemplary damages, and attorneys fees.
We sustain the Court of Appeals, but with modification in the computation.
A contract is a meeting of the minds between two persons whereby one binds himself, with respect
to the other, to give something or to render some service.
35
Contracts shall be obligatory, in whatever
form they may have been entered into, provided all the essential requisites for their validity are
present.
36

Under Article 1318 of the Civil Code, there are three essential requisites which must concur in order
to give rise to a binding contract: (1) consent of the contracting parties; (2) object certain which is the
subject matter of the contract; and (3) cause of the obligation which is established.
37

All these requisites were present in the execution of the Letter-Agreement.
Consent is manifested by the meeting of the offer and the acceptance upon the thing and the cause
which are to constitute the contract.
38
The Zuzuarreguis, in entering into the Letter-Agreement, fully
gave their consent thereto. In fact, it was them (the Zuzuarreguis) who sent the said letter to Attys.
Roxas and Pastor, for the purpose of confirming all the matters which they had agreed upon
previously. There is absolutely no evidence to show that anybody was forced into entering into the
Letter-Agreement. Verily, its existence, due execution and contents were admitted by the
Zuzuarreguis themselves.
39

The second requisite is the object certain. The objects in this case are twofold. One is the money
that will go to the Zuzuarreguis (P17.00 per square meter), and two, the money that will go to Attys.
Roxas and Pastor (any and all amount in excess of P17.00 per square meter). There was certainty
as to the amount that will go to the Zuzuarreguis, and there was likewise certainty as to what amount
will go to Attys. Roxas and Pastor.
The cause is the legal service that was provided by Attys. Roxas and Pastor. In general, cause is the
why of the contract or the essential reason which moves the contracting parties to enter into the
contract.
40

It is basic that a contract is the law between the parties.
41
Obligations arising from contracts have the
force of law between the contracting parties and should be complied with in good faith. Unless the
stipulations in a contract are contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy, the
same are binding as between the parties.
42

In Licudan v. Court of Appeals,
43
we did not allow the Contract for Professional Services between the
counsel and his client to stand as the law between them as the stipulation for the lawyers
compensation was unconscionable and unreasonable. We said:
Although the Contract for Professional Services dated August 30, 1979 was apparently voluntarily
signed by the late Aurelio Licudan for himself and on behalf of his daughter, petitioner Cristina
Licudan-Campos and by the petitioner Wilfredo Licudan who both manifested in open court that they
gave their free and willing consent to the said contract, we cannot allow the said contract to stand as
the law between the parties involved considering that the rule that in the presence of a contract for
professional services duly executed by the parties thereto, the same becomes the law between the
said parties is not absolute but admits an exception that the stipulations therein are not contrary to
law, good morals, good customs, public policy or public order.
44

Under the contract in question, Attys. Roxas and Pastor are to receive contingent fees
45
for their
professional services. It is a deeply-rooted rule that contingent fees are not per se prohibited by law.
They are sanctioned by Canon 13 of the Canons of Professional Ethics, viz:
13. Contingent Fees.
A contract for contingent fee, where sanctioned by law, should be reasonable under all the
circumstances of the case including the risk and uncertainty of the compensation, but should always
be subject to the supervision of a court, as to its reasonableness.
and Canon 20, Rule 20.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
46
viz:
CANON 20 A LAWYER SHALL CHARGE ONLY FAIR AND REASONABLE FEES.
Rule 20.01. A lawyer shall be guided by the following factors in determining his fees:
(a) The time spent and the extent of the services rendered or required;
(b) The novelty and difficulty of the question involved;
(c) The importance of the subject matter;
(d) The skill demanded;
(e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of acceptance of the proffered
case;
(f) The customary charges for similar services and the schedule of fees of the IBP chapter to
which he belongs;
(g) The amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client from the
service;
(h) The contingency or certainty of compensation;
(i) The character of the employment, whether occasional or established; and
(j) The professional standing of the lawyer.
However, in cases where contingent fees are sanctioned by law, the same should be reasonable
under all the circumstances of the case, and should always be subject to the supervision of a court,
as to its reasonableness,
47
such that under Canon 20 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a
lawyer is tasked to charge only fair and reasonable fees.
Indubitably entwined with the lawyers duty to charge only reasonable fees is the power of this Court
to reduce the amount of attorneys fees if the same is excessive and unconscionable.
48
Thus,
Section 24, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court partly states:
SEC. 24. Compensation of attorneys; agreement as to fees. An attorney shall be entitled to have
and recover from his client no more than a reasonable compensation for his services, with a view to
the importance of the subject matter of the controversy, the extent of the services rendered, and the
professional standing of the attorney. x x x. A written contract for services shall control the amount to
be paid therefore unless found by the court to be unconscionable or unreasonable.
Attorneys fees are unconscionable if they affront ones sense of justice, decency or
reasonableness.
49
It becomes axiomatic therefore, that power to determine the reasonableness or
the, unconscionable character of attorney's fees stipulated by the parties is a matter falling within the
regulatory prerogative of the courts.
50

In the instant case, Attys. Roxas and Pastor received an amount which was equal to forty-four
percent (44%) of the just compensation paid (including the yield on the bonds) by the NHA to the
Zuzuarreguis, or an amount equivalent to P23,980,000.00 of the P54,500,000.00. Considering that
there was no full blown hearing in the expropriation case, ending as it did in a Compromise
Agreement, the 44% is, undeniably, unconscionable and excessive under the circumstances. Its
reduction is, therefore, in order. This is in accordance with our ruling in the earlier case of Tanhueco
v. De Dumo
51
, where we reduced the amount of attorneys fees from sixty percent (60%) to fifteen
percent (15%), for being excessive and unreasonable.
It is imperative that the contingent fees received by Attys. Roxas and Pastor must be equitably
reduced. In the opinion of this Court, the yield that corresponds to the percentage share of the
Zuzuarreguis in the P19.50 per square meter just compensation paid by the NHA must be returned
by Attys. Roxas and Pastor.1avvph!l. ne+
The yield on the NHA bonds amounted to P19,583,878.00. This amount must therefore be divided
between the Zuzuarreguis, on the one hand, and Attys. Roxas and Pastor, on the other. The division
must be pro rata. The amount of P17.00 that should go to the Zuzuarreguis represents 87.18% of
the P19.50 per square meter just compensation, The P2.50 per square meter that was to go to Attys.
Roxas and Pastor, on the other hand, represents 12.82%.
The Zuzuarreguis are entitled to the yield equal to 87.18% of the P19,583,878.00, while Attys. Roxas
and Pastor are entitled to 12.82% of said amount. The amount corresponding to 87.17% of
P19,583,878.00 is P17,073,224.84. This is the yield that the Zuzuarreguis are entitled to. Attys.
Roxas and Pastor, on the other hand, are entitled to P2,510,653.16.
Attys. Roxas and Pastor, in the opinion of this Court, were not shortchanged for their efforts for they
would still be earning or actually earned attorneys fees in the amount of P6,987,078.75
(P4,476,425.59 + P2,510,653.16).
The amount of P17,073,224.84 must therefore be returned by Attys. Roxas and Pastor to the
Zuzuarreguis. They can take this out from the yield in the amount of P19,583,878.00 which they
have appropriated for themselves.
On the issue of moral and exemplary damages, we cannot award the same for there was no direct
showing of bad faith on the part of Attys. Roxas and Pastor, for as we said earlier, contingency fees
are not per se prohibited by law. It is only necessary that it be reduced when excessive and
unconscionable, which we have already done.
We likewise cannot hold the NHA and Atty. Pedrosa jointly and severally liable to the Zuzuarreguis
for there is no evidence to show conspiracy between them.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the Decision and Resolution of the Court
of Appeals dated 25 June 2001 and 06 February 2002, respectively, are AFFIRMED but with the
MODIFICATION that Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and Santiago N. Pastor are hereby ordered to return to
the Zuzuarreguis the amount of P17,073,224.84. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
















Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-961 September 21, 1949
BLANDINA GAMBOA HILADO, petitioner,
vs.
JOSE GUTIERREZ DAVID, VICENTE J. FRANCISCO, JACOB ASSAD and SELIM JACOB
ASSAD, respondents.
Delgado, Dizon and Flores for petitioner.
Vicente J. Francisco for respondents.
TUASON, J .:
It appears that on April 23, 1945, Blandina Gamboa Hilado brought an action against Selim Jacob
Assad to annul the sale of several houses and lot executed during the Japanese occupation by Mrs.
Hilado's now deceased husband.
On May 14, Attorneys Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita filed an answer on behalf of the defendant; and
on June 15, Attorneys Delgado, Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo registered their appearance as counsel
for the plaintiff. On October 5, these attorneys filed an amended complaint by including Jacob Assad
as party defendant.
On January 28, 1946, Attorney Francisco entered his appearance as attorney of record for the
defendant in substitution for Attorney Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita who had withdrawn from the
case.
On May 29, Attorney Dizon, in the name of his firm, wrote Attorney Francisco urging him to
discontinue representing the defendants on the ground that their client had consulted with him about
her case, on which occasion, it was alleged, "she turned over the papers" to Attorney Francisco, and
the latter sent her a written opinion. Not receiving any answer to this suggestion, Attorney Delgado,
Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo on June 3, 1946, filed a formal motion with the court, wherein the case
was and is pending, to disqualify Attorney Francisco.
Attorney Francisco's letter to plaintiff, mentioned above and identified as Exhibit A, is in full as
follows:
VICENTE J. FRANCISCO
Attorney-at-Law
1462 Estrada, Manila
July 13, 1945.
Mrs. Blandina Gamboa Hilado
Manila, Philippines
My dear Mrs. Hilado:
From the papers you submitted to me in connection with civil case No. 70075 of the Court of
First Instance of Manila, entitled "Blandina Gamboa Hilado vs. S. J. Assad," I find that the
basic facts which brought about the controversy between you and the defendant therein are
as follows:
(a) That you were the equitable owner of the property described in the complaint, as the
same was purchased and/or built with funds exclusively belonging to you, that is to say, the
houses and lot pertained to your paraphernal estate;
(b) That on May 3, 1943, the legal title to the property was with your husband, Mr. Serafin P.
Hilado; and
(c) That the property was sold by Mr. Hilado without your knowledge on the aforesaid date of
May 3, 1943.
Upon the foregoing facts, I am of the opinion that your action against Mr. Assad will not
ordinarily prosper. Mr. Assad had the right to presume that your husband had the legal right
to dispose of the property as the transfer certificate of title was in his name. Moreover, the
price of P110,000 in Japanese military notes, as of May 3, 1943, does not quite strike me as
so grossly inadequate as to warrant the annulment of the sale. I believe, lastly, that the
transaction cannot be avoided merely because it was made during the Japanese occupation,
nor on the simple allegation that the real purchaser was not a citizen of the Philippines. On
his last point, furthermore, I expect that you will have great difficulty in proving that the real
purchaser was other than Mr. Assad, considering that death has already sealed your
husband's lips and he cannot now testify as to the circumstances of the sale.
For the foregoing reasons, I regret to advise you that I cannot appear in the proceedings in
your behalf. The records of the case you loaned to me are herewith returned.
Yours very truly,
(Sgd.) VICENTE J. FRANCISCO
VJF/Rag.
In his answer to plaintiff's attorneys' complaint, Attorney Francisco alleged that about May, 1945, a
real estate broker came to his office in connection with the legal separation of a woman who had
been deserted by her husband, and also told him (Francisco) that there was a pending suit brought
by Mrs. Hilado against a certain Syrian to annul the sale of a real estate which the deceased Serafin
Hilado had made to the Syrian during the Japanese occupation; that this woman asked him if he was
willing to accept the case if the Syrian should give it to him; that he told the woman that the sales of
real property during the Japanese regime were valid even though it was paid for in Japanese military
notes; that this being his opinion, he told his visitor he would have no objection to defending the
Syrian;
That one month afterwards, Mrs. Hilado came to see him about a suit she had instituted against a
certain Syrian to annul the conveyance of a real estate which her husband had made; that according
to her the case was in the hands of Attorneys Delgado and Dizon, but she wanted to take it away
from them; that as he had known the plaintiff's deceased husband he did not hesitate to tell her
frankly that hers was a lost case for the same reason he had told the broker; that Mrs. Hilado
retorted that the basis of her action was not that the money paid her husband was Japanese military
notes, but that the premises were her private and exclusive property; that she requested him to read
the complaint to be convinced that this was the theory of her suit; that he then asked Mrs. Hilado if
there was a Torrens title to the property and she answered yes, in the name of her husband; that he
told Mrs. Hilado that if the property was registered in her husband's favor, her case would not
prosper either;
That some days afterward, upon arrival at his law office on Estrada street, he was informed by
Attorney Federico Agrava, his assistant, that Mrs. Hilado had dropped in looking for him and that
when he, Agrava, learned that Mrs. Hilado's visit concerned legal matters he attended to her and
requested her to leave the "expediente" which she was carrying, and she did; that he told Attorney
Agrava that the firm should not handle Mrs. Hilado's case and he should return the papers, calling
Agrava's attention to what he (Francisco) already had said to Mrs. Hilado;
That several days later, the stenographer in his law office, Teofilo Ragodon, showed him a letter
which had been dictated in English by Mr. Agrava, returning the "expedients" to Mrs. Hilado; that
Ragodon told him (Attorney Francisco) upon Attorney Agrava's request that Agrava thought it more
proper to explain to Mrs. Hilado the reasons why her case was rejected; that he forthwith signed the
letter without reading it and without keeping it for a minute in his possession; that he never saw Mrs.
Hilado since their last meeting until she talked to him at the Manila Hotel about a proposed
extrajudicial settlement of the case;
That in January, 1946, Assad was in his office to request him to handle his case stating that his
American lawyer had gone to the States and left the case in the hands of other attorneys; that he
accepted the retainer and on January 28, 1946, entered his appearance.
Attorney Francisco filed an affidavit of stenographer Ragodon in corroboration of his answer.
The judge trying the case, Honorable Jose Gutierrez David, later promoted to the Court of Appeals,
dismissed the complaint. His Honor believed that no information other than that already alleged in
plaintiff's complaint in the main cause was conveyed to Attorney Francisco, and concluded that the
intercourse between the plaintiff and the respondent did not attain the point of creating the relation of
attorney and client.
Stripped of disputed details and collateral matters, this much is undoubted: That Attorney
Francisco's law firm mailed to the plaintiff a written opinion over his signature on the merits of her
case; that this opinion was reached on the basis of papers she had submitted at his office; that Mrs.
Hilado's purpose in submitting those papers was to secure Attorney Francisco's professional
services. Granting the facts to be no more than these, we agree with petitioner's counsel that the
relation of attorney and client between Attorney Francisco and Mrs. Hilado ensued. The following
rules accord with the ethics of the legal profession and meet with our approval:
In order to constitute the relation (of attorney and client) a professional one and not merely
one of principal and agent, the attorneys must be employed either to give advice upon a
legal point, to prosecute or defend an action in court of justice, or to prepare and draft, in
legal form such papers as deeds, bills, contracts and the like. (Atkinson vs. Howlett, 11 Ky.
Law Rep. (abstract), 364; cited in Vol. 88, A. L. R., p. 6.)
To constitute professional employment it is not essential that the client should have
employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. . . . It is not necessary that
any retainer should have been paid, promised, or charged for; neither is it material that the
attorney consulted did not afterward undertake the case about which the consultation was
had. If a person, in respect to his business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults with his
attorney in his professional capacity with the view to obtaining professional advice or
assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces in such consultation, then the
professional employment must be regarded as established. . . . (5 Jones Commentaries on
Evidence, pp. 4118-4119.)
An attorney is employed-that is, he is engaged in his professional capacity as a lawyer or
counselor-when he is listening to his client's preliminary statement of his case, or when he is
giving advice thereon, just as truly as when he is drawing his client's pleadings, or
advocating his client's cause in open court. (Denver Tramway Co. vs. Owens, 20 Colo., 107;
36 P., 848.)
Formality is not an essential element of the employment of an attorney. The contract may be
express or implied and it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of the attorney is sought
and received, in matters pertinent to his profession. An acceptance of the relation is implied
on the part of the attorney from his acting in behalf of his client in pursuance of a request by
the latter. (7 C. J. S., 848-849; see Hirach Bros. and Co. vs. R. E. Kennington Co., 88 A. L.
R., 1.)
Section 26 (e), Rule 123 of the Rules of Court provides that "an attorney cannot, without the consent
of his client, be examined as to any communication made by the client to him, or his advice given
thereon in the course of professional employment;" and section 19 (e) of Rule 127 imposes upon an
attorney the duty "to maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself, to preserve the
secrets of his client." There is no law or provision in the Rules of Court prohibiting attorneys in
express terms from acting on behalf of both parties to a controversy whose interests are opposed to
each other, but such prohibition is necessarily implied in the injunctions above quoted. (In re De la
Rosa, 27 Phil., 258.) In fact the prohibition derives validity from sources higher than written laws and
rules. As has been aptly said in In re Merron, 22 N. M., 252, L.R.A., 1917B, 378, "information so
received is sacred to the employment to which it pertains," and "to permit it to be used in the interest
of another, or, worse still, in the interest of the adverse party, is to strike at the element of confidence
which lies at the basis of, and affords the essential security in, the relation of attorney and client."
That only copies of pleadings already filed in court were furnished to Attorney Agrava and that, this
being so, no secret communication was transmitted to him by the plaintiff, would not vary the
situation even if we should discard Mrs. Hilado's statement that other papers, personal and private in
character, were turned in by her. Precedents are at hand to support the doctrine that the mere
relation of attorney and client ought to preclude the attorney from accepting the opposite party's
retainer in the same litigation regardless of what information was received by him from his first client.
The principle which forbids an attorney who has been engaged to represent a client from
thereafter appearing on behalf of the client's opponent applies equally even though during
the continuance of the employment nothing of a confidential nature was revealed to the
attorney by the client. (Christian vs. Waialua Agricultural Co., 30 Hawaii, 553, Footnote 7, C.
J. S., 828.)
Where it appeared that an attorney, representing one party in litigation, had formerly
represented the adverse party with respect to the same matter involved in the litigation, the
court need not inquire as to how much knowledge the attorney acquired from his former
during that relationship, before refusing to permit the attorney to represent the adverse party.
(Brown vs. Miller, 52 App. D. C. 330; 286, F. 994.)
In order that a court may prevent an attorney from appearing against a former client, it is
unnecessary that the ascertain in detail the extent to which the former client's affairs might
have a bearing on the matters involved in the subsequent litigation on the attorney's
knowledge thereof. (Boyd vs. Second Judicial Dist. Court, 274 P., 7; 51 Nev., 264.)
This rule has been so strictly that it has been held an attorney, on terminating his
employment, cannot thereafter act as counsel against his client in the same general matter,
even though, while acting for his former client, he acquired no knowledge which could
operate to his client's disadvantage in the subsequent adverse employment. (Pierce vs.
Palmer [1910], 31 R. I., 432; 77 Atl., 201, Ann. Cas., 1912S, 181.)
Communications between attorney and client are, in a great number of litigations, a complicated
affair, consisting of entangled relevant and irrelevant, secret and well known facts. In the complexity
of what is said in the course of the dealings between an attorney and a client, inquiry of the nature
suggested would lead to the revelation, in advance of the trial, of other matters that might only
further prejudice the complainant's cause. And the theory would be productive of other un salutary
results. To make the passing of confidential communication a condition precedent; i.e., to make the
employment conditioned on the scope and character of the knowledge acquired by an attorney in
determining his right to change sides, would not enhance the freedom of litigants, which is to be
sedulously fostered, to consult with lawyers upon what they believe are their rights in litigation. The
condition would of necessity call for an investigation of what information the attorney has received
and in what way it is or it is not in conflict with his new position. Litigants would in consequence be
wary in going to an attorney, lest by an unfortunate turn of the proceedings, if an investigation be
held, the court should accept the attorney's inaccurate version of the facts that came to him. "Now
the abstinence from seeking legal advice in a good cause is by hypothesis an evil which is fatal to
the administration of justice." (John H. Wigmore's Evidence, 1923, Section 2285, 2290, 2291.)
Hence the necessity of setting down the existence of the bare relationship of attorney and client as
the yardstick for testing incompatibility of interests. This stern rule is designed not alone to prevent
the dishonest practitioner from fraudulent conduct, but as well to protect the honest lawyer from
unfounded suspicion of unprofessional practice. (Strong vs. Int. Bldg., etc.; Ass'n, 183 Ill., 97; 47
L.R.A., 792.) It is founded on principles of public policy, on good taste. As has been said in another
case, the question is not necessarily one of the rights of the parties, but as to whether the attorney
has adhered to proper professional standard. With these thoughts in mind, it behooves attorneys,
like Caesar's wife, not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance
of treachery and double-dealing. Only thus can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to
their attorneys which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.
So without impugning respondent's good faith, we nevertheless can not sanction his taking up the
cause of the adversary of the party who had sought and obtained legal advice from his firm; this, not
necessarily to prevent any injustice to the plaintiff but to keep above reproach the honor and integrity
of the courts and of the bar. Without condemning the respondents conduct as dishonest, corrupt, or
fraudulent, we do believe that upon the admitted facts it is highly in expedient. It had the tendency to
bring the profession, of which he is a distinguished member, "into public disrepute and suspicion and
undermine the integrity of justice."
There is in legal practice what called "retaining fee," the purpose of which stems from the realization
that the attorney is disabled from acting as counsel for the other side after he has given professional
advice to the opposite party, even if he should decline to perform the contemplated services on
behalf of the latter. It is to prevent undue hardship on the attorney resulting from the rigid
observance of the rule that a separate and independent fee for consultation and advice was
conceived and authorized. "A retaining fee is a preliminary fee given to an attorney or counsel to
insure and secure his future services, and induce him to act for the client. It is intended to
remunerate counsel for being deprived, by being retained by one party, of the opportunity of
rendering services to the other and of receiving pay from him, and the payment of such fee, in the
absence of an express understanding to the contrary, is neither made nor received in payment of the
services contemplated; its payment has no relation to the obligation of the client to pay his attorney
for the services which he has retained him to perform." (7 C.J.S., 1019.)
The defense that Attorney Agrava wrote the letter Exhibit A and that Attorney Francisco did not take
the trouble of reading it, would not take the case out of the interdiction. If this letter was written under
the circumstances explained by Attorney Francisco and he was unaware of its contents, the fact
remains that his firm did give Mrs. Hilado a formal professional advice from which, as heretofore
demonstrated, emerged the relation of attorney and client. This letter binds and estop him in the
same manner and to the same degree as if he personally had written it. An information obtained
from a client by a member or assistant of a law firm is information imparted to the firm. (6 C. J., 628;
7 C. J. S., 986.) This is not a mere fiction or an arbitrary rule; for such member or assistant, as in our
case, not only acts in the name and interest of the firm, but his information, by the nature of his
connection with the firm is available to his associates or employers. The rule is all the more to be
adhered to where, as in the present instance, the opinion was actually signed by the head of the firm
and carries his initials intended to convey the impression that it was dictated by him personally. No
progress could be hoped for in "the public policy that the client in consulting his legal adviser ought
to be free from apprehension of disclosure of his confidence," if the prohibition were not extended to
the attorney's partners, employers or assistants.
The fact that petitioner did not object until after four months had passed from the date Attorney
Francisco first appeared for the defendants does not operate as a waiver of her right to ask for his
disqualification. In one case, objection to the appearance of an attorney was allowed even on appeal
as a ground for reversal of the judgment. In that case, in which throughout the conduct of the cause
in the court below the attorney had been suffered so to act without objection, the court said: "We are
all of the one mind, that the right of the appellee to make his objection has not lapsed by reason of
failure to make it sooner; that professional confidence once reposed can never be divested by
expiration of professional employment." (Nickels vs. Griffin, 1 Wash. Terr., 374, 321 A. L. R. 1316.)
The complaint that petitioner's remedy is by appeal and not by certiorari deserves scant attention.
The courts have summary jurisdiction to protect the rights of the parties and the public from any
conduct of attorneys prejudicial to the administration of the justice. The summary jurisdiction of the
courts over attorneys is not confined to requiring them to pay over money collected by them but
embraces authority to compel them to do whatever specific acts may be incumbent upon them in
their capacity of attorneys to perform. The courts from the general principles of equity and policy, will
always look into the dealings between attorneys and clients and guard the latter from any undue
consequences resulting from a situation in which they may stand unequal. The courts acts on the
same principles whether the undertaking is to appear, or, for that matter, not to appear, to answer
declaration, etc. (6 C.J., 718 C.J.S., 1005.) This summary remedy against attorneys flows from the
facts that they are officers of the court where they practice, forming a part of the machinery of the
law for the administration of justice and as such subject to the disciplinary authority of the courts and
to its orders and directions with respect to their relations to the court as well as to their clients.
(Charest vs. Bishop, 137 Minn., 102; 162, N.W., 1062, Note 26, 7 C. J. S., 1007.) Attorney stand on
the same footing as sheriffs and other court officers in respect of matters just mentioned.
We conclude therefore that the motion for disqualification should be allowed. It is so ordered, without
costs.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
A.C. No. 7023 March 30, 2006
BUN SIONG YAO, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. LEONARDO A. AURELIO, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J .:
On November 11, 2004, a complaint-affidavit
1
was filed against Atty. Leonardo A. Aurelio by Bun
Siong Yao before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) seeking for his disbarment for alleged
violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The complainant alleged that since 1987 he retained the services of respondent as his personal
lawyer; that respondent is a stockholder and the retained counsel of Solar Farms & Livelihood
Corporation and Solar Textile Finishing Corporation of which complainant is a majority stockholder;
that complainant purchased several parcels of land using his personal funds but were registered in
the name of the corporations upon the advice of respondent; that respondent, who was also the
brother in-law of complainants wife, had in 1999 a disagreement with the latter and thereafter
respondent demanded the return of his investment in the corporations but when complainant refused
to pay, he filed eight charges for estafa and falsification of commercial documents against the
complainant and his wife and the other officers of the corporation; that respondent also filed a
complaint against complainant for alleged non-compliance with the reportorial requirements of the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Mandaluyong
City and another complaint with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Malabon City for alleged violation
of Section 75 of the Corporation Code; that respondent also filed a similar complaint before the
Office of the City Prosecutor of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
Complainant alleged that the series of suits filed against him and his wife is a form of harassment
and constitutes an abuse of the confidential information which respondent obtained by virtue of his
employment as counsel. Complainant argued that respondent is guilty of representing conflicting
interests when he filed several suits not only against the complainant and the other officers of the
corporation, but also against the two corporations of which he is both a stockholder and retained
counsel.
Respondent claimed that he handled several labor cases in behalf of Solar Textile Finishing
Corporation; that the funds used to purchase several parcels of land were not the personal funds of
complainant but pertain to Solar Farms & Livelihood Corporation; that since 1999 he was no longer
the counsel for complainant or Solar Textile Finishing Corporation; that he never used any
confidential information in pursuing the criminal cases he filed but only used those information which
he obtained by virtue of his being a stockholder.
He further alleged that his requests for copies of the financial statements were ignored by the
complainant and his wife hence he was constrained to file criminal complaints for estafa thru
concealment of documents; that when he was furnished copies of the financial statements, he
discovered that several parcels of land were not included in the balance sheet of the corporations;
that the financial statements indicated that the corporations suffered losses when in fact it paid cash
dividends to its stockholders, hence, he filed additional complaints for falsification of commercial
documents and violation of reportorial requirements of the SEC.
On July 19, 2005, the Investigating Commissioner
2
submitted a Report and
Recommendation
3
finding that from 1987 up to 1999, respondent had been the personal lawyer of
the complainant and incorporator and counsel of Solar Farms & Livelihood Corporation. However, in
1999 complainant discontinued availing of the services of respondent in view of the admission of his
(complainants) son to the bar; he also discontinued paying dividends to respondent and even
concealed from him the corporations financial statements which compelled the respondent to file the
multiple criminal and civil cases in the exercise of his rights as a stockholder.
The investigating commissioner further noted that respondent is guilty of forum shopping when he
filed identical charges against the complainant before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Malabon
City and in the Office of the City Prosecutor of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. It was also observed
that respondent was remiss in his duty as counsel and incorporator of both corporations for failing to
advise the officers of the corporation, which he was incidentally a member of the Board of Directors,
to comply with the reportorial requirements of the SEC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Instead,
he filed cases against his clients, thereby representing conflicting interests.
The investigating commissioner recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of
law for a period of six months
4
which was adopted and approved by the IBP Board of Governors.
We agree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP.
We find that the professional relationship between the complainant and the respondent is more
extensive than his protestations that he only handled isolated labor cases for the complainants
corporations. Aside from being the brother-in-law of complainants wife, it appears that even before
the inception of the companies, respondent was already providing legal services to the complainant,
thus:
COMM. NAVARRO:
Was there a formal designation or you where only called upon to do so?
ATTY. AURELIO:
Well, I understand in order to show to the employees that they have labor lawyer and at that time I
went to the office at least half day every week but that was cut short. And so when there are cases
that crop-up involving labor then they called me up.
x x x x
ATTY. OLEDAN:
Will counsel deny that he was the personal lawyer of the complainant long before he joined the
company?
ATTY. AURELIO:
Yes, with respect to the boundary dispute between his land and his neighbor but the subject matter
of all the cases I filed they all revolved around the Financial Statement of the 2 corporations. I never
devolves any information with respect to labor cases and the MERALCO case with respect to
boundary dispute, nothing I used.
ATTY. OLEDAN:
Was he not also the lawyer at that time of complainant when he incorporated the second corporation
in 1992?
ATTY. AURELIO:
Well, I was the one submitted the corporate papers and I think after that I have nothing to do with the
SEC requirements regarding this corporation. Just to submit the incorporation papers to the SEC
and anyway they have already done that before. They have already created or established the first
corporation way back before the second corporation started and there was no instance where I dealt
with the Financial Statement of the corporation with respect to its filing with the SEC.
ATTY. OLEDAN:
My only question is whether he incorporated and therefore was aware of the corporate matters
involving Solar Farms?
ATTY. AURELIO:
As a stockholder Im aware.
ATTY. OLEDAN:
As a lawyer?
ATTY. AURELIO:
Well, as a stockholder Im aware.
x x x x
ATTY. OLEDAN:
You are not the one who filed.
ATTY. AURELIO:
I was the one who filed the corporate paper but thats all the participation I had with respect to the
requirement of the SEC with respect to the corporation.
COMM. NAVARRO:
So, you acted as legal counsel of the corporation even before the initial stage of the incorporation?
ATTY. AURELIO:
There are two (2) corporations involving in this case, Your Honor, and the first was I think Solar
Textile and this was.
COMM. NAVARRO:
You were already the legal counsel?
ATTY. AURELIO:
No, this was created before I became a stockholder.
COMM. NAVARRO:
Who was then the legal counsel before of Solar?
MR. YAO:
Siya pa rin pero hindi pa siya stockholder.
ATTY. OLEDAN:
Because, Your Honor, he happens to be the brother-in-law of the wife of the complainant and he is
the husband of the wife of her sister so thats why he was (inaudible) other legal matters even
before the corporation that was formed and he became also a stockholder and in fact he charge the
corporation certain amounts for professional service rendered it is part of the Resolution of the Office
of the City Prosecutor of Malabon as annex to the complaint so he cannot say that he only
presented, that he only filed the papers at SEC and aside from that when the corporation, the Solar
Farms was already formed and the property which he is now questioning was purchased by
complainant. He was the one who negotiated with the buyer, he was always with the complainant
and precisely acted as complainants personal lawyer. The truth of the matter he is questioning the
boundary and in fact complainant had survey conducted in said parcel of land which he bought with
the assistance and legal advice of respondent and in fact complainant gave him only a copy of that
survey. Him alone. And he used this particular copy to insists that this property allegedly belong to
the corporation when in truth and in fact he was fully aware that it was the complainants personal
funds that were used to pay for the whole area and this was supported by the stockholders who
admitted that they were aware that the parcel of land which he claims does not appear in the
Financial Statement of the corporation was purchased by the complainant subject to reimbursement
by the Board and should the corporation finally have sufficient fund to cover the payment advance by
complainant then the property will be transferred to the corporation. All of these facts he was privy to
it, Your Honor, so he cannot say that and he is also a stockholder but the fact is, prior to the
incorporation and during the negotiation he was the personal counsel of the complainant.
5

It appears that the parties relationship was not just professional, but they are also related by affinity.
The disagreement between complainants wife and the respondent affected their professional
relationship. Complainants refusal to disclose certain financial records prompted respondent to
retaliate by filing several suits.
It is essential to note that the relationship between an attorney and his client is a fiduciary
one.
6
Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer owes fidelity to the
cause of his client and shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him. The long-
established rule is that an attorney is not permitted to disclose communications made to him in his
professional character by a client, unless the latter consents. This obligation to preserve the
confidences and secrets of a client arises at the inception of their relationship. The protection given
to the client is perpetual and does not cease with the termination of the litigation, nor is it affected by
the party's ceasing to employ the attorney and retaining another, or by any other change of relation
between them. It even survives the death of the client.
7

Notwithstanding the veracity of his allegations, respondents act of filing multiple suits on similar
causes of action in different venues constitutes forum-shopping, as correctly found by the
investigating commissioner. This highlights his motives rather than his cause of action. Respondent
took advantage of his being a lawyer in order to get back at the complainant. In doing so, he has
inevitably utilized information he has obtained from his dealings with complainant and complainants
companies for his own end.
Lawyers must conduct themselves, especially in their dealings with their clients and the public at
large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach.
8
Lawyers cannot be allowed to
exploit their profession for the purpose of exacting vengeance or as a tool for instigating hostility
against any personmost especially against a client or former client. As we stated in Marcelo v.
Javier, Sr.:
9

A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. The trust and
confidence necessarily reposed by clients require in the attorney a high standard and appreciation of
his duty to his clients, his profession, the courts and the public. The bar should maintain a high
standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing. Generally speaking, a lawyer can
do honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts
and to his clients. To this end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which
might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of
the profession.
10
(Emphasis supplied)
In sum, we find that respondent's actuations amount to a breach of his duty to uphold good faith and
fairness, sufficient to warrant the imposition of disciplinary sanction against him.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Leonardo A. Aurelio is ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of
law for a period of SIX (6) MONTHS effective upon receipt of this Decision. Let a copy of this
Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The
Court Administrator is directed to circulate this order of suspension to all courts in the country.
SO ORDERED.






FIRST DIVISION


LETICIA GONZALES, A.C. No. 6836
Complainant,
Present:

PANGANIBAN, C.J., Chairman,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

Promulgated:
ATTY. MARCELINO CABUCANA,
Respondent. January 23, 2006

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x


R E S O L U T I O N


AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:


Before this Court is a complaint filed by Leticia Gonzales (Gonzales)
praying that Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, (respondent) be disbarred for representing
conflicting interests.

On January 8, 2004, Gonzales filed a petition before the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) alleging that: she was the complainant in a case for sum of
money and damages filed before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of
Santiago City, docketed as Civil Case No. 1-567 where she was represented by the
law firm CABUCANA, CABUCANA, DE GUZMAN AND CABUCANA LAW OFFICE, with
Atty. Edmar Cabucana handling the case and herein respondent as an
associate/partner; on February 26, 2001, a decision was rendered in the civil case
ordering the losing party to pay Gonzales the amount of P17,310.00 with interest
and P6,000.00 as attorneys fees; Sheriff Romeo Gatcheco, failed to fully
implement the writ of execution issued in connection with the judgment which
prompted Gonzales to file a complaint against the said sheriff with this Court; in
September 2003, Sheriff Gatcheco and his wife went to the house of Gonzales;
they harassed Gonzales and asked her to execute an affidavit of desistance
regarding her complaint before this Court; Gonzales thereafter filed against the
Gatchecos criminal cases for trespass, grave threats, grave oral defamation,
simple coercion and unjust vexation; notwithstanding the pendency of Civil Case
No. 1-567, where respondents law firm was still representing Gonzales, herein
respondent represented the Gatchecos in the cases filed by Gonzales against the
said spouses; respondent should be disbarred from the practice of law since
respondents acceptance of the cases of the Gatchecos violates the lawyer-client
relationship between complainant and respondents law firm and renders
respondent liable under the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) particularly
Rules 10.01,
[1]
13.01,
[2]
15.02,
[3]
15.03,
[4]
21.01
[5]
and 21.02.
[6]


On January 9, 2004, the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline ordered Atty.
Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. to submit his Answer to the complaint.
[7]


In his Answer, respondent averred: He never appeared and represented
complainant in Civil Case No. 1-567 since it was his brother, Atty. Edmar Cabucana
who appeared and represented Gonzales in said case. He admitted that he is
representing Sheriff Gatcheco and his wife in the cases filed against them but
claimed that his appearance is pro bono and that the spouses pleaded with him as
no other counsel was willing to take their case. He entered his appearance in
good faith and opted to represent the spouses rather than leave them
defenseless. When the Gatchecos asked for his assistance, the spouses said that
the cases filed against them by Gonzales were merely instigated by a high ranking
official who wanted to get even with them for their refusal to testify in favor of
the said official in another case. At first, respondent declined to serve as counsel
of the spouses as he too did not want to incur the ire of the high-ranking official,
but after realizing that he would be abdicating a sworn duty to delay no man for
money or malice, respondent entered his appearance as defense counsel of the
spouses free of any charge. Not long after, the present complaint was crafted
against respondent which shows that respondent is now the subject of a
demolition job. The civil case filed by Gonzales where respondents brother
served as counsel is different and distinct from the criminal cases filed by
complainant against the Gatcheco spouses, thus, he did not violate any canon on
legal ethics.
[8]


Gonzales filed a Reply contending that the civil case handled by
respondents brother is closely connected with the cases of the Gatchecos which
the respondent is handling; that the claim of respondent that he is handling the
cases of the spouses pro bono is not true since he has his own agenda in offering
his services to the spouses; and that the allegation that she is filing the cases
against the spouses because she is being used by a powerful person is not true
since she filed the said cases out of her own free will.
[9]


The Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP sent to the parties a Notice of
Mandatory Conference dated March 1, 2004.
[10]
On the scheduled conference,
only a representative of complainant appeared.
[11]
Commissioner Demaree Raval
of the IBP-CBD then directed both parties to file their respective verified position
papers.
[12]


Complainant filed a Memorandum reiterating her earlier assertions and
added that respondent prepared and notarized counter-affidavits of the Gatcheco
spouses; that the high-ranking official referred to by respondent is Judge Ruben
Plata and the accusations of respondent against the said judge is an attack against
a brother in the profession which is a violation of the CPR; and that respondent
continues to use the name of De Guzman in their law firm despite the fact that
said partner has already been appointed as Assistant Prosecutor of Santiago City,
again in violation of the CPR.
[13]


Respondent filed his Position Paper restating his allegations in his Answer.
[14]


On August 23, 2004, Commissioner Wilfredo E.J.E. Reyes issued an Order
notifying both parties to appear before his office on October 28, 2004 for a
clarificatory question regarding said case.
[15]
On the said date, only respondent
appeared
[16]
presenting a sworn affidavit executed by Gonzales withdrawing her
complaint against respondent. It reads:

SINUMPAANG SALAYSAY
TUNGKOL SA PAG-UURONG NG DEMANDA

Ako, si LETICIA GONZALES, nasa tamang edad, Pilipino, may
asawa, at nakatira sa Barangay Dubinan East, Santiago City,
makaraang manumpa ayon sa batas ay nagsasabing:

Ako ang nagdedemanda o petitioner sa CBD Case No. 04-1186 na may pamagat
na Leticia Gonzales versus Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. na kasalukuyang
nahaharap sa Commission on Bar Discipline ng Integrated Bar of the Philippines

Ang pagkakahain ng naturang demanda ay nag-ugat sa di-pagkakaintindihan na
namamagitan sa akin at nina Mr. and Mrs. Romeo and Anita Gatcheco.

Dahil sa aking galit sa naturang mag-asawa, idinawit ko si Atty. Marcelino C.
Cabucana, Jr. sa sigalot na namamagitan sa akin at sa mag-asawang Gatcheco, gayong
nalalaman ko na siAtty. Marcelino C. Cabucana ay walang nalalaman sa naturang di
pagkakaintindihan.

Makaraang pag-isipang mabuti ang paghain ko ng demanda kontra kay Atty.
Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr., nakumbinsi ako na ang pagdedemanda ko kay Atty.
Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr.ay isang malaking pagkakamali dahil siya ay walang
kinalalaman (sic) sa di pagkakaintindihan naming(sic) ng mag-asawang Gatcheco.

Si Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. ay di ko rin naging abogado sa Civil Case No. 1-
567 (MTCC Br. I Santiago City) na inihain ko kontra kay Eduardo Mangano.

Nais kong ituwid ang lahat kung kayat aking iniuurong ang
naturang kasong inihain ko kontra kay Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana,
Jr. at dahil dito ay hindi na ako interesado pang ituloy and naturang
kaso, at aking hinihiling sa kinauukulan na dismisin na ang naturang
kaso.

Ginawa ko ang sinumpaang salaysay na ito upang patotohanan sa lahat ng
nakasaad dito.
[17]


Commissioner Reyes issued an Order dated October 28, 2004 requiring
Gonzales to appear before him on November 25, 2004, to affirm her statements
and to be subject to clarificatory questioning.
[18]
However, none of the parties
appeared.
[19]
On February 17, 2005, only respondent was present. Commissioner
Reyes then considered the case as submitted for resolution.
[20]


On February 24, 2005, Commissioner Reyes submitted his Report and
Recommendation, portions of which are quoted hereunder:

The Undersigned Commissioner believes that the respondent made a mistake in
the acceptance of the administrative case of Romeo Gatcheco, however, the
Commission (sic) believes that there was no malice and bad faith in the said acceptance
and this can be shown by the move of the complainant to unilaterally withdraw the case
which she filed against Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. However, Atty. Cabucana is
reminded to be more careful in the acceptance of cases as conflict of interests might
arise.

It is respectfully recommended that Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. (be) sternly
warned and reprimanded andadvised to be more circumspect and careful in accepting
cases which might result in conflict of interests.
[21]


On June 25, 2005, a Resolution was passed by the Board of Governors of the
IBP, to wit:

RESOLUTION NO. XVI-2005-153
CBD CASE NO. 03-1186
Leticia Gonzales vs.
Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr.

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report
and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case,
herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering
that respondent made (a) mistake in the acceptance of the administrative case of Romeo
Gatcheco, Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. is hereby WARNED and REPRIMANDED and
advised to be more circumspect and careful in accepting cases which might result in
conflict of interests.
[22]

Before going to the merits, let it be clarified that contrary to the report of
Commissioner Reyes, respondent did not only represent the Gatcheco spouses
in the administrative case filed by Gonzales against them. As respondent
himself narrated in his Position Paper, he likewise acted as their counsel in
the criminal cases filed by Gonzales against them.
[23]


With that settled, we find respondent guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of
Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:

Rule 15.03 A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interest except by written
consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.

It is well-settled that a lawyer is barred from representing conflicting
interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of
the facts.
[24]
Such prohibition is founded on principles of public policy and good
taste as the nature of the lawyer-client relations is one of trust and confidence of
the highest degree.
[25]
Lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the
clients confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-
dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their
lawyers, which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.
[26]


One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of
a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the lawyers duty of
undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness
or double-dealing in the performance of that duty.
[27]

As we expounded in the recent case of Quiambao vs. Bamba,
[28]


The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies to a
situation where the opposing parties are present clients in the same action or in an
unrelated action. It is of no moment that the lawyer would not be called upon to
contend for one client that which the lawyer has to oppose for the other client, or that
there would be no occasion to use the confidential information acquired from one to
the disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly unrelated. It is enough that
the opposing parties in one case, one of whom would lose the suit, are present clients
and the nature or conditions of the lawyers respective retainers with each of them
would affect the performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to both clients.
[29]


The claim of respondent that there is no conflict of interests in this case,
as the civil case handled by their law firm where Gonzales is the complainant
and the criminal cases filed by Gonzales against the Gatcheco spouses are not
related, has no merit. The representation of opposing clients in said cases,
though unrelated, constitutes conflict of interests or, at the very least, invites
suspicion of double-dealing which this Court cannot allow.
[30]


Respondent further argued that it was his brother who represented
Gonzales in the civil case and not him, thus, there could be no conflict of
interests. We do not agree. As respondent admitted, it was their law firm
which represented Gonzales in the civil case. Such being the case, the rule
against representing conflicting interests applies.

As we explained in the case of Hilado vs. David:
[31]


[W]e can not sanction his taking up the cause of the adversary of the party
who had sought and obtained legal advice from his firm; this, not necessarily to prevent
any injustice to the plaintiff but to keep above reproach the honor and integrity of the
courts and of the bar. Without condemning the respondents conduct as dishonest,
corrupt, or fraudulent, we do believe that upon the admitted facts it is highly
inexpedient. It had the tendency to bring the profession, of which he is a distinguished
member, into public disrepute and suspicion and undermine the integrity of justice.
[32]


The claim of respondent that he acted in good faith and with honest
intention will also not exculpate him as such claim does not render the
prohibition inoperative.
[33]


In the same manner, his claim that he could not turn down the spouses as
no other lawyer is willing to take their case cannot prosper as it is settled that
while there may be instances where lawyers cannot decline representation
they cannot be made to labor under conflict of interest between a present
client and a prospective one.
[34]
Granting also that there really was no other
lawyer who could handle the spouses case other than him, still he should
have observed the requirements laid down by the rules by conferring with the
prospective client to ascertain as soon as practicable whether the matter
would involve a conflict with another client then seek the written consent of
all concerned after a full disclosure of the facts.
[35]
These respondent failed to
do thus exposing himself to the charge of double-dealing.

We note the affidavit of desistance filed by Gonzales. However, we are
not bound by such desistance as the present case involves public interest.
[36]

Indeed, the Courts exercise of its power to take cognizance of administrative
cases against lawyers is not for the purpose of enforcing civil remedies
between parties, but to protect the court and the public against an attorney
guilty of unworthy practices in his profession.
[37]


In similar cases where the respondent was found guilty of representing
conflicting interests a penalty ranging from one to three years suspension was
imposed.
[38]


We shall consider however as mitigating circumstances the fact that he is
representing the Gatcheco spouses pro bono and that it was his firm and not
respondent personally, which handled the civil case of Gonzales. As recounted
by complainant herself, Atty. Edmar Cabucana signed the civil case of
complainant by stating first the name of the law firm CABUCANA, CABUCANA,
DE GUZMAN AND CABUCANA LAW OFFICE, under which, his name and
signature appear; while herein respondent signed the pleadings for the
Gatcheco spouses only with his name,
[39]
without any mention of the law firm.
We also note the observation of the IBP Commissioner Reyes that there was
no malice and bad faith in respondents acceptance of the Gatchecos cases as
shown by the move of complainant to withdraw the case.

Thus, for violation of Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and taking into consideration the aforementioned mitigating
circumstances, we impose the penalty of fine of P2,000.00.

WHEREFORE, Resolution No. XVI-2005-153 of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines is APPROVED with MODIFICATION that respondent Atty.
Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. is FINED the amount of Two Thousand Pesos
(P2,000.00) with a STERN WARNING that a commission of the same or
similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely.


SO ORDERED.







FIRST DIVISION
[A.C. No. 4215. May 21, 2001]
FELICISIMO M. MONTANO, complainant, vs. INTEGRATED BAR of the
PHILIPPINES AND Atty. JUAN S. DEALCA, respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
KAPUNAN, J .:
In a verified complaint filed before this Court on March 9, 1994, complainant
Felicisimo M. Montano charged Atty. Juan Dealca with misconduct and prays that he
be sternly dealt wit administratively. The complaint
[1]
is summarized as follows:
1. On November 14, 1992, the complainant hired the services of Atty. Juan S.
Dealca as his counsel in collaboration with Atty. Ronando L. Gerona in a case
pending before the Court of Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 37467 wherein the
complainant was the plaintiff-appellant.
2. The parties agreed upon attorneys fees in the amount of P15,000.00, fifty
percent (50%) of which was payable upon acceptance of the case and the remaining
balance upon the termination of the case. Accordingly, complainant paid respondent
the amount of P7,500.00 representing 50% of the attorneys fee.
3. Thereafter, even before the respondent counsel had prepared the
appellants brief and contrary to their agreement that the remaining balance be
payable after the termination of the case, Atty. Dealca demanded an additional
payment from complainant. Complainant obliged by paying the amount of P4,000.00.
4. Prior to the filing of the appellants brief, respondent counsel again demand
payment of the remaining balance of 3,500.00. When complainant was unable to do
so, respondent lawyer withdrew his appearance as complainants counsel without his
prior knowledge and/or conformity. Returning the case folder to the complainant,
respondent counsel attached a Note dated February 28, 1993,
[2]
stating:
28 February 1994
Pepe and Del Montano,
For breaking your promise, since you do not want to fulfill your end of the bargain,
heres your reward:
Henceforth, you lawyer for yourselves. Here are your papers.
Johnny
Complainant claimed that such conduct by respondent counsel exceeded the
ethical standards of the law profession and prays that the latter be sternly dealt with
administratively. Complainant later on filed motions praying for the imposition of the
maximum penalty of disbarment.
After respondent counsel filed his comment on the complaint, the Court in the
Resolution of August 1, 1994, referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
The Investigating Commissioner found respondent counsel guilty of
unprofessional conduct and recommended that he be severely reprimanded.
However, in a Resolution
[3]
by the IBP Board of Governors on July 26, 1997, it was
resolved that the penalty recommended by the Investigating Commissioner meted to
respondent by amended to three (3) months suspension from the practice of law for
having been found guilty of misconduct, which eroded the public confidence
regarding his duty as a lawyer.
Respondent counsel sought reconsideration of the aforementioned resolution of
the IBP, alleging that the latter misapprehended the facts and that, in any case, he did
not deserve the penalty imposed. The true facts, according to him, are the following:
1. Complainant is being represented by Atty. Ronando L. Gerona in his case on appeal;
2. Due to the ailment of Atty. Geronas daughter, he could not prepare and submit
complainants appellants brief on time;
3. Complainant went to the respondent to do just that, i.e., prepare and submit his appellants
brief on time at the agreed fee of P15,000.00, 50% down and 50% upon its completion;
4. Working overtime, respondent was able to finish the appellants brief ahead of its deadline,
so he advised the complainant about its completion with the request that the remaining
balance of P7,500.00 be paid. Complainant paid P4,000.00 only, promising to pay the
P3,500.00 tomorrow or on later particular date. Please take note that, at this juncture,
there was already a breach of the agreement on complainants part.
5. When that tomorrow or on a later particular date came, respondent, thru a messenger,
requested the complainant to pay the P3,500.00 as promised but word was sent that he will
again pay tomorrow or on later date. This promise-non-payment cycle went on
repeatedly until the last day of the filing of the brief. Please take note again that it was not
the respondent but the complainant who sets the date when he will pay, yet fails to pay as
promised;
6. Even without being paid completely, respondent, of his own free will and accord, filed
complainants brief on time;
7. After the brief was filed, respondent tried to collect from the complainant the remaining
balance of P3,500.00, but the latter made himself scarce. As the records would show, such
P3,500.00 remains unpaid until now;
8. Sensing that something was amiss, respondent sent the February 28, 1993 note and case
folder to the complainant, hoping that the latter would see personally the former about it to
settle the matter between them;
9. However, instead of seeing the respondent, complainant filed this case;
10. Respondent was constrained to file his withdrawal with the Court of Appeals because of this
case to avoid further misunderstanding since he was the one who signed the appellants brief
although Atty. Gerona was his counsel of record. Such withdrawal was accordingly granted
by the appellate court;
xxx xxx xxx.
[4]

Respondent counsel further averred that complainants refusal to pay the agreed
lawyers fees, measly as it was, was deliberate and in bad faith; hence, his withdrawal
as counsel was just, ethical and proper. Respondent counsel concluded that not only
was the penalty of suspension harsh for his act of merely trying to collect payment for
his services rendered, but it indirectly would punish his family since he was the sole
breadwinner with children in school and his wife terminally ill with cancer.
In its Resolution No. XIII-97-129 dated October 25, 1997, the IBP denied Atty.
Dealcas motion for reconsideration, to wit:
xxx
RESOLVED TO DENY Atty. Dealcas Motion For Reconsideration of the Boards
Decision in the above-entitled case there being no substantive reason to reverse the
finding therein. Moreover, the motion is improperly laid the remedy of the
respondent is to file the appropriate pleading with the Supreme Court within fifteen
(15) days from receipt of notice of said Decision pursuant to Sec. 12 [c] of Rule 139-
B.
[5]

On December 10, 1997, this Court noted the following pleadings filed in the
present complaint,
(a) notice and a copy of Resolution No. XII-97-154 dated July 26, 1997 of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines amending the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of
reprimand to three (3) months suspension of respondent from the practice of law for having
been found guilty of misconduct which eroded the public confidence regarding his duty as a
lawyer;
(b) complainants motion for praying for the imposition of the maximum penalty of
disbarment;
(c) motion dated September 15, 1997 of respondent for reconsideration of the aforesaid
resolution of July 26, 1997;
(d) comment/opposition of respondent praying that the motion for the imposition of the
maximum penalty be denied;
(e) comment of complainant praying that the penalty of three (3) months suspension for the
practice of law as recommended by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines pursuant to
Resolution No. XII-97-154 be raised to a heavier penalty;
(f) comment/manifestation/opposition of complainant praying that the respondent be disbarred;
and
(g) rejoinder of respondent praying that this case be dismissed for being baseless.
[6]

and referred the same to the IBP for evaluation and report.
In compliance therewith, on March 28, 1998, the IBP issued Resolution No. XIII-
98-42 referring the above-entitled case to Commissioner Vibar for evaluation, report
and recommendation in view of the Motion for Reconsideration granted by the
Supreme Court.
The Investigating Commissioner, after referring the case, recommended that his
original recommendation of the imposition of the penalty of reprimand be maintained,
noting that respondent counsel had served the IBP well as President of the Sorsogon
Chapter.
[7]
Accordingly, on February 23, 1999, the IBP Board of Governors, issued the
following resolution:
RESOLUTION NO. XIII-99-48

xxx
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in
the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex A;
and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the
applicable laws and rules, the Motion for Reconsideration be granted and that the
penalty ofREPRIMAND earlier recommended by the Investigating Commissioner be
imposed on Atty. Juan S. Dealca.
[8]

Complainant asked the IBP to reconsider the foregoing resolution but the motion
was denied.
[9]

On April 10, 2000, complainant filed with this Court a petition for review on
certiorari in connection with Administrative Case No. 4215 against the IBP and
respondent counsel averring that the IBP Board of Governors committed grave abuse
of discretion when it overturned its earlier resolution and granted respondent
counsels motion for reconsideration on February 23, 1999. He claimed that the
earlier resolution denying the motion for reconsideration issued on October 25, 1997
had already become final and executory; hence, any further action or motion
subsequent to such final and executory judgment shall be null and void.
When the Court issued the resolution of December 10, 1997 treating the several
pleadings filed in the present complaint, it should be noted that the IBP resolution
denying respondents motion for reconsideration (Resolution No. XIII-97-129) dated
October 25, 1997, for some reason, had not yet reached this Court. As of that date,
the only IBP resolution attached to the records of the case was Resolution No. XII-97-
54 amending the administrative sanction from reprimand to three months
suspension. Hence, at the time the pleadings were referred back to the IBP in the
same resolution, the Court was not aware that the IBP had already disposed of the
motion for reconsideration filed by respondent counsel.
Thus, when the IBP was informed of the said Court resolution, it construed the
same as granting Atty. Dealcas motion for reconsideration and as an order for IBP to
conduct a re-evaluation of the case. The IBP assumed that its resolution of October
25, 1997 was already considered by this Court when it referred the case back to the
IBP. It failed to notice that its resolution denying the motion for reconsideration was
not among those pleadings and resolution referred back to it.
Hence, on the strength of this Courts resolution which it had inadvertently
misconstrued, the IBP conducted a re-evaluation of the case and came up with the
assailed resolution now sought to be reversed. The Court holds that the error is not
attributable to the IBP. It is regrettable that the procedural infirmity alleged by
complainant actually arose from a mere oversight which was attributable to neither
party.
Going into the merits, we affirm the findings made by the IBP that complainant
engaged the services of respondent lawyer only for the preparation and submission of
the appellants brief and the attorneys fees was payable upon the completion and
submission of the appellants brief and not upon the termination of the case.
There is sufficient evidence which indicates complainants willingness to pay the
attorneys fees. As agreed upon, complainant paid half of the fees in the amount of
P7,500.00 upon acceptance of the case. And while the remaining balance was not yet
due as it was agreed to be paid only upon the completion and submission of the brief,
complainant nonetheless delivered to respondent lawyer P4,000.00 as the latter
demanded. This, notwithstanding, Atty. Dealca withdrew his appearance simply
because of complainants failure to pay the remaining balance of P3,500.00, which
does not appear to be deliberate. The situation was aggravated by respondent
counsels note to complainant withdrawing as counsel which was couched in impolite
and insulting language.
[10]

Given the above circumstances, was Atty. Dealcas conduct just and proper?
We find Atty. Dealcas conduct unbecoming of a member of the legal
profession. Under Canon 22 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, lawyer shall
withdraw his services only for good cause and upon notice appropriate in the
circumstances. Although he may withdraw his services when the client deliberately
fails to pay the fees for the services,
[11]
under the circumstances of the present case,
Atty. Dealcas withdrawal was unjustified as complainant did not deliberately fail to
pay him the attorneys fees. In fact, complainant exerted honest efforts to fulfill his
obligation. Respondents contemptuous conduct does not speak well of a member of
the bar considering that the amount owing to him was only P3,500.00. Rule 20.4 of
Canon 20, mandates that a lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning
his compensation and shall resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition,
injustice or fraud. Sadly, for not so large a sum owed to him by complainant,
respondent lawyer failed to act in accordance with the demands of the Code.
The Court, however, does not agree with complainants contention that the
maximum penalty of disbarment should be imposed on respondent lawyer. The
power to disbar must be exercised with great caution. Only in a clear case of
misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer
of the Court and member of the bar will disbarment be imposed as a penalty. It
should never be decreed where a lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension, would
accomplish the end desired.
[12]
In the present case, reprimand is deemed sufficient.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Atty. Juan S. Dealca is
REPRIMANDED with a warning that repetition of the same act will be dealt with
more severely.
SO ORDERED.








THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 134854. January 18, 2000]
FELIZARDO S. OBANDO and the ESTATES of JOSE FIGUERAS and DOA
ALEGRIA STREBEL VDA. DE FIGUERAS, petitioners, vs. EDUARDO F.
FIGUERAS andAMIGO REALTY CORPORATION as represented by
ANTONIO A. KAW, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
PANGANIBAN, J .:
In resolving this appeal, the Court invokes the following principles: (1) a lawyers
standing in a case remains, until a substitute takes over pursuant to Section 26, Rule
138 of the Rules of Court; (2) a trial court may act upon a motion to dismiss at any
time a ground therefor becomes available, even after a responsive pleading to the
complaint has already been filed; (3) a civil case initiated by an estate administrator
may be dismissed upon a showing that the said administrators appointment as such
has been revoked by the probate court; and (4) the dismissal of an action may be made
after the ground therefor becomes known, even if the trial court has refused to do so
earlier when that ground was not yet available.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to
annul the July 30, 1998 Decision of the Court of Appeals
[1]
in CA-GR SP No. 47594,
which affirmed the dismissal, without prejudice, of Petitioner Felizardo Obandos
action for annulment of contract and reconveyance earlier ordered by the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City,
[2]
Branch 218.4U14AA
The Facts
In 1964, Alegria Strebel Figueras, together with her stepsons, Eduardo and Francisco,
filed a Petition for settlement of the intestate estate of her deceased husband Jose
Figueras.
[3]
While settlement of the estate was pending, she died and Eduardo assumed
administration of the joint estates of Don Jose and Doa Alegria. Hardly had the
proceedings in both intestacies begun when Eduardo was served a Petition for Probate
of what purported to be Doa Alegrias Last Will and Testament, filed by Felizardo S.
Obando (herein petitioner), a nephew of Doa Alegria.
[4]

The alleged Will bequeathed to Petitioner Obando and several other members of the
Obando clan properties left by the Figueras couple, including two parcels of land in
Gilmore Avenue, New Manila, Quezon City, covered by TCT Nos. 13741 and
17679.
[5]
When the probate case was consolidated with the intestate proceedings,
Petitioner Obando was appointed as Eduardos co-administrator of the joint estates.
[6]

As Eduardo insisted that the alleged Will was a forgery, the document was submitted
to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for examination and comparison of
Doa Alegrias alleged signature therein with samples which both parties accepted as
authentic. The NBI found that the questioned and the standard signatures were not
made by the same person.
[7]
This led to the indictment and the conviction of Petitioner
Obando in Criminal Case 90-85819
[8]
for estafa through falsification of a public
document.
On February 20, 1990, the probate court denied Eduardos Motion for authority to sell
the aforementioned two parcels of land in New Manila.
[9]
Despite such denial, Eduardo
sold the lots to Amigo Realty Corporation on the strength of an Order issued by the
probate court on May 15, 1991. New titles were issued for these lots in the name of
Amigo Realty.
[10]

On June 4, 1992, Petitioner Obando, in his capacity as co-administrator and universal
heir of Doa Alegria, filed a Complaint against Eduardo and Amigo Realty
(collectively referred to as the respondents) for the nullification of the sale. The
proceedings were docketed as Civil Case No. Q-92-12384 and raffled to the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 79.
However, in Special Proceeding Nos. 61567 and 123948, the probate court, in its
Order dated December 17, 1997, removed Petitioner Obando from his office as co-
administrator of the joint estate of the Figueras spouses.
[11]
Consequently, in the civil
case, respondents filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss dated January 27, 1998, after
Obando had rested his case. The respondents built their evidence around the loss of
his legal standing to pursue the case.
[12]
In its Order dated February 11, 1993, the trial
court granted the Motion and dismissed the civil case without prejudice.
[13]
4114AA
Petitioner Obando filed a Motion for Reconsideration to no avail. As earlier stated, the
Court of Appeals likewise dismissed his Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus and
affirmed the dismissal Order of the RTC.
[14]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals rejected the contention of Obando that he did not lose his legal
personality to prosecute the civil case since there was no categorical statement that the
purported will was a forgery and its probate was still pending.
The CA affirmed the dismissal of the action for reconveyance because the probate
courts Order dated February 5, 1998 "alluded" to the fact that the alleged Will was a
forgery. That the probate of the alleged Will had not yet been decided on the merits
did not change the fact that the probate court had removed Petitioner Obando as co-
administrator. The dismissal of the civil case was without prejudice, because the trial
judge anticipated that Obando could regain co-administration of the estates on appeal.
Hence, this Petition.
[15]

Assignment of Errors
In their Memorandum, petitioners raise the following issues:
[16]

"A........WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY
ERRED IN SANCTIONING THE TRIAL COURTS ALLOWANCE
OF RESPONDENTS JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS, DESPITE THE
FACT THAT ONE OF THE LAWYER-MOVANTS THEREIN WAS
NO LONGER THE COUNSEL OF RECORD FOR RESPONDENT
FIGUERAS AT THE TIME THE MOTION WAS FILED.
"B........WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY
ERRED IN SANCTIONING THE TRIAL COURTS RADICAL
DEPARTURE FROM THE LAW WHEN IT GRANTED A MOTION
TO DISMISS ON LACK OF CAPACITY TO SUE/LEGAL
STANDING AT THE TIME WHEN THE [PETITIONERS] HAVE
ALREADY RESTED THEIR CASE AND THE [RESPONDENTS]
HAVE BEGUN PRESENTATION OF THEIR EVIDENCE.
"C........WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY
ERRED WHEN IT SANCTIONED THE TRIAL COURTS
DISMISSAL OF THE CASE BASED ON ORDERS OF OTHER
COURTS THAT HAVE NOT YET ATTAINED
FINALITY.4AA4*1
"D........WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY
ERRED WHEN IT UPHELD THE TRIAL COURTS WHIMSICAL
AND CAPRICIOUS DEPARTURE FROM ITS PREVIOUS RULINGS
DENYING RESPONDENTS MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION
TO SUSPEND PROCEEDINGS.
"E........WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY
ERRED WHEN IT RENDERED ITS 30 JULY 1998 DECISION IN
CA-G.R. 47594 UPHOLDING THE TRIAL COURTS ORDERS
DATED 11 FEBRUARY 1998 AND 12 MARCH 1998."
Simply stated, the following issues are raised by the petitioners: (1) whether the trial
court could act on a motion filed by a lawyer who was allegedly no longer Eduardos
counsel of record; (2) whether a motion to dismiss filed after the responsive pleadings
were already made can still be granted; (3) whether the conviction of Petitioner
Obando for estafa through falsification and the revocation of his appointment as
administrator, both of which are on appeal, constitute sufficient grounds to dismiss the
civil case; and (4) whether there was a conflict between the Order dismissing the civil
case and the previous actions of the trial court.
The Courts Ruling
The Petition is devoid of merit.
First Issue:
Counsel of Record
Petitioners claim that when Atty. Joaquin Yuseco filed the Motion to Dismiss, he no
longer represented the respondents, as shown by Eduardos Manifestation and Motion
dated January 8, 1998, dispensing with said counsels services in the proceedings in
view of a Compromise Agreement with Petitioner Obando.
[17]

We disagree. Representation continues until the court dispenses with the services of
counsel in accordance with Section 26, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
[18]
Counsel may
be validly substituted only if the following requisites are complied with: (1) new
counsel files a written application for substitution; (2) the clients written consent is
obtained; and (3) the written consent of the lawyer to be substituted is secured, if it
can still be; if the written consent can no longer be obtained, then the application for
substitution must carry proof that notice of the motion has been served on the attorney
to be substituted in the manner required by the Rules.
[19]
4U11
In this case, we are convinced that Eduardo did not dismiss Attorney Yuseco. In fact,
the former manifested that he had been tricked by Petitioner Obando into signing the
aforesaid Manifestation and Motion and Compromise Agreement. Besides, the filing
of the Motion to Dismiss was not prejudicial but beneficial to the said respondent;
hence, he had no reason to complain. At the discretion of the court, an attorney who
has already been dismissed by the client is allowed to intervene in a case in order to
protect the clients rights. In the present case, had there been any irregularity, it should
have been raised by the respondents, not the petitioners.
Second Issue:
Timeliness of the Motion to Dismiss
The Rules provide that a motion to dismiss may be submitted only before the filing of
a responsive pleading.
[20]
Thus, petitioners complain that it was already too late for
Respondent Eduardo Figueras to file a Motion to Dismiss after Obando had finished
presenting his evidence.
This is not so. The period to file a motion to dismiss depends upon the circumstances
of the case. Section 1 of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court requires that, in general, a
motion to dismiss should be filed within the reglementary period for filing a
responsive pleading. Thus, a motion to dismiss alleging improper venue cannot be
entertained unless made within that period.
[21]
4L41=
However, even after an answer has been filed, the Court has allowed a defendant to
file a motion to dismiss on the following grounds: (1) lack of jurisdiction,
[22]
(2) litis
pendentia,
[23]
(3) lack of cause of action,
[24]
and (4) discovery during trial of evidence
that would constitute a ground for dismissal.
[25]
Except for lack of cause of action or
lack of jurisdiction, the grounds under Section 1 of Rule 16 may be waived. If a
particular ground for dismissal is not raised or if no motion to dismiss is filed at all
within the reglementary period, it is generally considered waived under Section 1,
Rule 9 of the Rules.
[26]
4U=14L
Applying this principle to the case at bar, the respondents did not waive their right to
move for the dismissal of the civil case based on Petitioner Obandos lack of legal
capacity. It must be pointed out that it was only after he had been convicted of estafa
through falsification that the probate court divested him of his representation of the
Figueras estates. It was only then that this ground became available to the
respondents. Hence, it could not be said that they waived it by raising it in a Motion to
Dismiss filed after their Answer was submitted. Verily, if the plaintiff loses his
capacity to sue during the pendency of the case, as in the present controversy, the
defendant should be allowed to file a motion to dismiss, even after the lapse of the
reglementary period for filing a responsive pleading.
Third Issue:
Removal from Administration
Petitioners aver that it was premature for the trial court to dismiss the civil case
because Obandos conviction for estafa through falsification was still on appeal.
We disagree. This argument has no bearing at all on the dismissal of the civil case.
Petitioner Obando derived his power to represent the estate of the deceased couple
from his appointment as co-administrator.
[27]
When the probate court removed him
from office, he lost that authority. Since he lacked the legal capacity to sue on behalf
of the Figueras estates, he could not continue prosecuting the civil case.
[28]
Thus the
trial court properly granted the Motion to Dismiss on this ground.
[29]
Whether a final
conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude is necessary to remove him from his
administration is not a proper issue in this Petition. He should raise the matter in his
appeal of the Decision removing him from administration of the Figueras
estates.4U=1
The fact that the conviction of Obando and his removal from administration are on
appeal only means that his legal standing could be restored; thus, the civil case was
correctly dismissed without prejudice. If his conviction is reversed and his
appointment restored by the probate court, the case may continue without being
barred by res judicata. The lower courts Decision showed that it was careful in its
action. On the other hand, Obando has yet to show that he has regained administration
of the Figueras estates. Noteworthy also is the fact that his removal from office was
predicated not only on his conviction for a crime, but also on his failure to render an
accounting of the rentals of a property leased to the Community of Learners.
Fourth Issue:
No Conflicting Rulings
Respondent Eduardo Figueras earlier Motion to Dismiss was denied in the trial
courts March 4, 1993 Order which reads:
"x x x [I]t is pertinent to note that the criminal case of Estafa through
Falsification of Public Document filed against [petitioner] and the
Petition to Remove him as co-administrator are still pending
determination. Thus, suffice it to state that while herein [petitioner]
remains as the co-administrator of the estates of the deceased Figueras
the Court will continue to recognize his right to institute the instant case
in his capacity as judicial administrator, unless he be removed as such by
the probate Court pursuant to Rule 82 of the Revised Rules of Court."
[30]

Thus, petitioners allege that the trial court whimsically and capriciously departed from
its previous rulings when, in its Resolution dated February 11, 1993, it granted
Eduardos later Motion to Dismiss.
[31]

We cannot see any conflict between these trial court rulings. Obviously, they were
based on different grounds. The first Motion to Dismiss was denied because, at the
time, Petitioner Obando still had legal capacity to sue as co-administrator of the
Figueras estates. On the other hand, the second Motion was granted because the
probate court had already removed him from his office as co-administrator. The
change in his legal capacity accounts for the difference in the adjudication of the trial
court. We see no reversible error in the appellate courts affirmance of the trial court.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed
Resolution AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.2/29/00 10:57 AM















Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. R-351-RTJ September 26, 1986
ABRAHAM L. RAMIREZ, petitioner,
vs.
HON. ANTONIA CORPUZ-MACANDOG, respondent.
A.M. No. R-359-RTJ September 26, 1986
LIWAYWAY B. SAMSON, complainant,
vs.
HON. ANTONIA CORPUZ-MACANDOG, respondent.
A.M. No. R-621-RTJ September 26, 1986
VICTORIA TORRES, complainant,
vs.
HON. ANTONIA CORPUZ-MACANDOG, respondent.
A.M. No. R-684-RTJ September 26, 1986
ESPERANZA LAZARO, complainant,
vs.
HON. ANTONIA CORPUZ-MACANDOG, respondent.
A.M. No. R-687-RTJ September 26, 1986
JESUS ALBA, complainant,
vs.
HON. ANTONIA CORPUZ-MACANDOG, respondent.
A.M. No. 86-4-9987-RTC September 26, 1986
DESIGNATION OF AN ACTING JUDGE IN BRANCH CXXI, RTC, CALOOCAN CITY.
Bognot, Toledano & Associates counsel for the complainant in A.M. No. 359-RTJ .
Romulo T. Santos counsel for the complainant in A.M. No. R-684-RTJ .
Conrado A. Leao counsel for the complainant in A.M. No. 687-RTC.

PER CURIAM:
Judge Antonia Corpuz-Macandog of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch CXX,
stands charged in six separate complaints of various forms of misconduct in the
performance of her official duties. The details are as follows:
I. Administrative Matter No. R-351-RTJ .
This originated as G.R. No. 71179, a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed on June 29, 1985
by Deputy Sheriff Abraham L. Ramirez of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City to secure
his release from the Caloocan City jail. Ramirez was ordered arrested on June 27, 1985 by
respondent judge for direct contempt of court consisting in his alleged disobedience to the
writ of preliminary injunction dated January 21, 1985 issued in Civil Case No. 8682 enjoining
him from demolishing the improvements of the intervenors in said case.
Deputy Sheriff Ramirez had previously been directed by Judge Socorro Tirona-Liwag of
Branch CXXIII of the same court in an order dated January 11, 1985, to demolish the
improvements of the defendants in Civil Cases Nos. C-7380, C-7361, C-7362, C-7363, C-7364,
C-7839, C-7841 and C-7842. Said defendants are the intervenors in Civil Case No. 8682 on
whose motion respondent judge issued the preliminary injunction.
The immediate execution of the order of arrest was effected thru a handwritten note of respondent
judge addressed to then superintendent of the Northern Police District, Brig. Gen. Alfredo Lim.
Upon orders of this Court, however, Deputy Sheriff Ramirez was released from jail on July 2, 1985.
Thereafter, the court resolved to treat the petition as an administrative case
1
and to require
respondent judge to comment thereon.
2

Respondent judge denied having acted arbitrarily or capriciously in causing the arrest of
Ramirez. She justified the arrest as a means of preserving substantial justice so that any
decision rendered in Civil Case No. 8682 may not be rendered moot and academic and as a
curative measure to preserve the greater interest of social justice. The handwritten note, on
the other hand, was explained as a means to preserve the integrity of courts of justice in the
enforcement of valid and lawful orders. She added that the writ of preliminary injunction was
issued by her in the exercise of her original jurisdiction, while the Order of January 11, 1985
was issued by Judge Liwag in the exercise of appellate jurisdiction, which the latter should
not have done as she should have remanded the case to the court of origin for execution.
II. Administrative Matter No. R-359-RTJ .
On September 28, 1984, complainant Liwayway B. Samson filed before the RTC of Caloocan
City a complaint for damages against Benecio Urgel, Roberto Exequiel, Shigiro Iwata and
Remigio Pasion docketed as Civil Case No. 11559 and assigned to respondent judge. The
summonses were served on the defendants on October 3, 1984. On October 18, 1984,
defendants Urgel and Exequiel filed their answer with cross-claim against their co-defendants
Pasion and Iwata They likewise filed a motion for leave to file a third party complaint against
Imperial Insurance Co. This was granted on October 22, 1984. On November 12, 1984, within
the extension given by the court, defendant Iwata filed his answer with compulsory counter-
claim and cross-claim and answer to cross-claim against defendants Urgel, Exequiel and
Pasion. The latter did not file any answer. Thus, on November 29, 1984, complainant thru
counsel moved to declare Pasion in default and to set the case for pre-trial On January 29,
1985, counsel for complainant filed an ex-parte motion praying for the resolution of the
motion of November 29, 1984. When no action was forthcoming, counsel filed another motion
on March 26, 1985, reiterating his prayer in the motion of November 29, 1984. For alleged
failure of respondent judge to act on the motions, the instant complaint was filed on June 6,
1985.
Required to comment, respondent judge stated that the motion of November 29, 1984 was noted
for study on December 18, 1984 and was actually resolved on March 1, 1985, "well within the
period even for the court to resolved [sic] the same and prior to the receipt ... of the letter-
complaint on July 2, 1985; " and that the case could not yet be set for pre-trial on account of the
existence of the third-party complaint. In conclusion, respondent judge said that letter-complaint
"is not only malicious but was intended to malign the undersigned Presiding Judge
3
and should
therefore be dismissed.
Complainant replied to the comment for the purpose of placing in issue respondent judge's
allegation that the motion dated November 29, 1984 was resolved on March 1, 1985. She
averred that if this were true, why is it that notice thereof was received by her counsel only on
June 22, 1985 after the instant complaint had been filed; and why is it that respondent judge
failed to resolve the other motions? She concluded that the only reasonable implication is
that the order was antedated to show some color of performance of duties. She likewise cites
respondent judge for failure to order the service of summons and copy of the third-party
complaint on the third-party defendant.
It appears that due to the statement found in respondent's comment that "the letter-complaint
is not only malicious but was intended to malign the undersigned Presiding Judge
complainant moved for respondent's inhibition from Civil Case No. 11559 and its re-raffling to
another sala. This motion was denied.
Eventually, as manifested by respondent in her Rejoinder, she inhibited herself from hearing
Civil Case No. 11559, which has since been assigned to another judge and has been set for
pre-trial In said rejoinder, respondent judge characterized complainant's so-called implication
respecting the order of March 1, 1985 as being founded on conjectures, assumptions and
suppositions. Furthermore, she said that after the third party complaint had been admitted, it
was not her duty to order service of the summons on the third-party defendant, but that of the
counsel who espouses the cause of the client.
III. Administrative Matter No. R-621-RTJ .
In the sworn letter-complaint dated April 28, 1986, Victoria L. Torres charged respondent
judge with ignorance of the law, graft or deliberate distortion of the law for pecuniary
motives. She alleged that respondent judge had indiscriminately issued restraining orders
without conducting hearings on the applications for the issuance of preliminary injunctions
and had reiterated restraining orders after the lapse of the mandatory twenty [20] days; that
she issued restraining orders against the enforcement of the writs of execution in ejectment
cases decided by other RTC branches of Caloocan City which are of co-equal jurisdiction;
that she has cited for contempt lawyers and sheriffs of other branches whom she fancies to
have offended her, as in the case of Deputy Sheriff Ramirez [cf. Adm. Matter No. R-351-RTJ]
who was merely complying with the order of Judge Liwag and that she has been issuing
restraining orders in ejectment cases involving the so- called "Maysilo Estate" for
undoubtedly suspicious considerations.
By way of compliance to the court's resolution dated June 19, 1986, respondent submitted
her comment on the letter-complaint on July 16, 1986, branding the allegations found therein
as false accusations as it failed to state specific facts on the matters complained of. She
stated that she issued a temporary restraining order in Civil Case No. 10526 entitled, "Arturo
Salientes, et. al. v. Alexander Development Corp., et al." but denied having issued an
extension thereof. She claimed having issued a preliminary prohibitory injunction after due
hearing.
With respect to the second allegation, respondent explained the issuance of the restraining
orders as a method of maintaining the status quo so that the cases pending before her
involving the issue of ownership may not be rendered moot and academic by the execution
of the decisions in the ejectment cases relating to the same properties.
Respondent reiterated her explanation in Adm. Matter No. R-351-RTJ in connection with the
Ramirez arrest-incident and asserted that she has been acting on the Maysilo estate cases
objectively on the basis of the law involved and the evidence on hand.
It appears that while the instant complaint was pending evaluation by the Court, complainant
Victoria Torres, in her capacity as attorney-in-fact of Alexander Development Co. caused the
implementation of the writ of execution issued by the RTC of Caloocan, Branch CXXX in Civil
Case No. 10645, entitled"Alexander Development Co. v. J ose Chan." The writ of execution
was enforced thru the demolition of a shanty being claimed by Francisco Cruz, one of the
plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 10526. Because of this, Torres was ordered arrested for contempt
of court by respondent judge in an order dated May 15, 1986. To challenge said arrest order
Torres instituted before the IAC a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition docketed
as AC-G.R. S.P. No. 09162-SP, wherein respondent judge was likewise required to comment.
On June 5, 1986, respondent judge issued an order recalling the arrest order for being moot
and academic. This was manifested in the comment submitted in AC-G.R. No. 09162-S.P.
IV. Administrative Matter No. R-684-RTJ .
The gravamen of the complaint filed before this Court on July 7, 1986 is the alleged failure of
respondent judge to decide Civil Case No. C-9831 entitled, "Federico S. Cruz v. Esperanza
Lazaro,"despite the case having been submitted for decision for more than 18 months.
Complainant who is the defendant in Civil Case No. C-9831, claims that the case was
submitted for decision on October 2, 1984 with the filing of defendant's memorandum. She
further alleges that as respondent judge had been drawing her salary during the entire time
that the case was pending decision, respondent judge is likewise guilty of falsification in view
of the certification required of judges before they could draw their salaries to the effect that
they have decided all cases assigned to them on or before the end of three months counted
from the time a case is submitted for decision.
On July 16, 1986, counsel for complainant Romulo T. Santos, filed a manifestation and motion to
withdraw the complaint on the ground that "certain facts and conditions which heretofore were
unknown to the complainant and undersigned counsel have come to [their] knowledge ... which
affect their resolution to prosecute the complaint.
4

Said manifestation, notwithstanding, the court by resolution dated July 24, 1986 required
respondent judge to answer the complaint.
In her answer filed on August 11, 1986, respondent judge states that nothing on the record
shows that the case has been submitted for decision; that defendant in said case [herein
complainant] never appeared in court during the hearing of the case nor during the series of
conferences called by her for the purpose of effecting an amicable settlement between the
parties, as per manifestation of her counsel, complainant and her husband were always
abroad; that defendant in fact told the court interpreter that she did not want to appear in
court for the amicable settlement; that it was only after she received a telephone call from an
alleged close relative of an associate of a national official saying " If you don't decide the
case in favor of Mrs. Lazaro you will be removed, but if you decide in her favor then you will
stay," that she looked into the records of the case where she found the motion of Mrs.
Lazaro, received by the court on March 12, 1986, praying for the early resolution of the case;
that because of the telephone calls and with the point in mind that "this is a revolutionary
government," she had no recourse but to decide the case in favor of Mrs. Lazaro, which she
did in a decision dated July 18, 1986; that in view of complainant's manifestation dated July
7, 1986, the instant complaint is already moot and academic.
V. Administrative Matter No. R-687-RTJ .
Jesus Alba charges respondent judge with gross incompetence, partiality and knowingly
rendering an unjust decision. Complainant is the offended party in Criminal Case No. C-23527
[84] entitled "People v. Cabel" for frustrated murder assigned to respondent's court. The
decision acquitting the accused was promulgated on June 10, 1986, allegedly in the absence
of complainant and his counsel, so that complainant learned about the decision only thru a
neighbor. Complainant challenged the decision as erroneous for the reasons that the
testimony of the accused on the alleged self-defense was not convincing, respondent judge
erred in her appreciation of the credibility of the witnesses for the prosecution as well as in
her pronouncement that Cabel had no motive for stabbing complainant when lack of motive
does not preclude conviction.
Upon being required to comment, respondent explained in detail the reasons why she did not
give credence to the version of the prosecution. She ended with the conclusion that the
decision in said criminal case is just and in consonance with the evidence presented by the
parties. She views the complaint as a means to harass her in the wake of the judiciary
reorganization.
VI. Administrative Matter No. 86-4-9987-RTC.
Civil Case No. C-12172 entitled, "Manchie Sabile Brozo v. Spouses Esmeraldo Quijano and
Adelina Quijano," an appealed case for an unlawful detainer was pending before Branch CXXI
of the RTC of Caloocan City when presiding judge thereof, Judge Salvador J. Baylen, was
transferred to the RTC of Quezon City on November 15,1985. Said judge had previously
required the parties to file their memorandum with. in 30 days from notice of the order dated
November 4, 1985, but only the plaintiff had done so at the time of his transfer.
On January 7, 1986, therein defendants-appellees moved for either the consolidation of Civil
Case No. 12172 with Civil Case No. 11724, entitled "Esmeraldo Quijano, plaintiff versus
Manchie Sabile Brozo, Defendant" pending before Branch CXXX of the same court, or the re-
raffle of Civil Case No. C-12172 to another judge to avoid delay in its disposition; or if re-raffle
is not proper, to effect the transfer of said case to the pairing judge of Branch CXXI for further
proceedings. Plaintiff-appellant opposed the motion.
On January 9, 1986, Executive Judge Oscar M. Herrera referred the motion to Judge Antonia
Corpuz-Macandog of Branch CXX, the pairing judge of Branch CXXI.
On February 19, 1986, Judge Macandog denied the motion of defendants- appellees.
However, on March 13, 1986, she issued another order recalling, rescinding and setting aside
the order of February 19, 1986 and considering the case submitted for decision to her as
pairing judge. Counsel for plaintiff-appellant, Atty. Jose V. Marcella moved for a
reconsideration of the order dated March 13, 1986 with a request that the matter be referred
to the Court Administrator for determination or ruling as to which judge-Judge Baylen or
Judge Macandog-should decide the case.
Meanwhile, on April 24, 1986, the Court En Banc designated Judge Domingo M. Angeles, RTC,
Branch CXXIX, Caloocan City as Acting Judge of Branch CXXI of the same court "in addition to
his regular duties without additional compensation, effective immediately and to continue until a
regular incumbent is appointed or until further orders from this Court."
5

On May 15, 1986, Judge Macandog rendered judgment in Civil Case No. C-12172 dismissing
plaintiff's appeal Copies of the decision and the order denying his motion for referral were
received by counsel for plaintiff on May 22, 1986. He forthwith filed a motion for
reconsideration of both the decision and the order. Pending resolution thereof, he wrote the
Court Administrator a letter on June 9, 1985, requesting for a ruling on who, among the three
judges; Baylen, Macandog or Angeles, has authority to decide the case and who, between
Judges Macandog and Angeles, should resolve the pending motion for reconsideration.
Acting on said letter, the Court En Banc resolved on July 8, 1986 to: "[a] DIRECT Judge Salvador
J. Baylen Regional Trial Court, Branch 103, Quezon City, to decide Civil Case No. C-12172,
considering that before his transfer to another court of equal jurisdiction said case was already
submitted before him for decision and as such all proceedings were totally heard and tried by him
and the greater interest of justice will be better served if he will decide the same; [b] require Judge
Antonia C. Macandog to EXPLAIN within seventy-two (72) hours from receipt of notice hereof why
she should not be disciplinarily dealt with for taking cognizance of Civil Case No. C-12172 and
deciding the same against the vigorous objection of the plaintiff and [c] SET ASIDE and declare
null and void the decision rendered by Judge Macandog for lack of authority and the pending
motion for reconsideration and to set aside the decision and the order denying plaintiff's motion
to refer the case to the Supreme Court be recalled and withdrawn."
6

In the explanation submitted on July 18, 1986, Judge Macandog stated that she took
cognizance of Civil Case No. 12172 by virtue of the note/order of Executive Judge Oscar
Herrera appearing on the face of the "Motion to Consolidate and/or to transfer case to the
Pairing Judge dated January 7, 1986; which note reads: "Refer to Pairing Judge, Br. 120" and
signed, "Oscar M. Herrera 1/9/86;" that as the thirty-day period granted to the parties within
which to file their memorandum under the order dated November 4, 1985 expired at the
earliest only on December 5, 1985, at which date the case would be deemed submitted for
decision, Judge Baylen could not decide the case, the same not having been submitted to
him for decision at the time of his transfer on November 15, 1985; that she has been
authorized by this Court on September 16, 1982 to take cognizance of all kinds of cases in
Branch XIV [now Branch CXXI, RTC, Caloocan City] and that the resolution dated April 24,
1986 in A.M. No. 86-499-87, which impliedly revoked this authority came to her knowledge
only during the first week of June, 1986 when Judge Angeles started taking cognizance of
and began hearing cases in Branch CXXI.
Except for the charges of gross incompetence, partiality and knowingly rendering an unjust
decision in Administrative Matter No. R-687-RTJ, which must be dismissed outright for lack
of merit, the other charges brought against respondent are indeed serious. Taken
collectively, they cast a heavy shadow on respondent's moral, intellectual and attitudinal
competence to remain a member of the Bench.
The complaint in Administrative Matter No. R-687-RTJ is anchored primarily on respondent
having given credence to the exempting circumstance of self-defense offered by the accused
in Criminal Case No. C-23527. In Villa v. Llamas, 84 SCRA 277, where the complainant placed
in issue the wisdom of the respondent judge's decision in a civil case for having believed the
testimony of the plaintiff, an alleged operator and maintainer of houses of ill-repute, this
Court ruled that said circumstance was not an indubitable ground for penalizing a judge
administratively. The reason, as previously stated in the case of Dizon vs. de Borja, 37 SCRA
46, is that "to hold a judge administratively accountable for every erroneous ruling or
decision he renders, assuming that he has erred, would be nothing short of harassment and
would make his position unbearable.
Similarly, in the case of Vda. de Zabal vs. Pamaram, 39 SCRA 430, this Court had the occasion to
pronounce that 11 mere errors in the appreciation of evidence, unless so gross and patent as to
produce an influence of ignorance or bad faith or that the judge knowingly rendered an unjust
decision [which circumstances do not obtain in the case at bar], are irrelevant and immaterial in
an administrative proceeding against him. We further stated: "If in the mind of the respondent the
evidence for the defense was entitled to more weight and credence, he cannot be held to account
administratively for the result of ratiocination."
7

Neither could respondent be held administratively liable for failing to notify complainant of
the promulgation of the decision in said criminal case. While it may be the better practice to
notify the offended party of such promulgation, the Rules of Court do not require a judge to
do so.
The actuations of respondent judge in Administrative Matters Nos. R-351-RTJ and R-621-RTJ
are, however, administratively censurable. In both cases, she issued preliminary injunctions
to stay the implementation of writs of execution issued by courts of coordinate and co-equal
jurisdiction, and issued arrest orders against a deputy sheriff and an attorney-in-fact of a
party who proceeded to enforce the writs of execution despite said unjunctions. To effect the
immediate execution of the order of arrest against deputy sheriff Ramirez, respondent wrote
a handwritten note to Brig. Gen. Alfredo Lim requesting his assistance on the matter.
To our mind, both orders of arrest were improvidently issued. Respondent judge should have
been aware that forcible entry and detainer cases do not interfere with a proceeding where
ownership is at issue. Thus, in Petargue v. Sorilla, 92 Phil. 5, it was held that "the
determination of the respective right of rival claimants to public land is different from the
determination of who has the actual physical possession or occupation with a view to
protecting the same and preventing disorder and breaches of the peace. A judgment of the
court ordering restitution of the possession of a parcel of land to the actual occupant, who
has been deprived thereof by another through the use of force or in any illegal manner, can
never be 'prejudicial interference' with the disposition or alienation of public land." Besides,
in the case of deputy sheriff Ramirez respondent judge should have taken into consideration
that his duty to enforce court orders and processes is ministerial in character and that he has
no authority to determine the validity of the order placed in his hands to implement. Thus,
whether Judge Liwag can, in the exercise of appellate jurisdiction, legally issue the writ of
execution is of no moment insofar as deputy sheriff Ramirez is concerned, and he should not
have been punished by incarceration for performing his official duty.
Moreover, the handwritten note of respondent judge to Brig. Gen. Lim is, to say the least,
highly irregular and improper. Her over-zealousness in implementing the order of arrest
creates the impression that she has taken an interest far and beyond that ordinarily expected
of judicial officers with respect to cases pending before them; which, in turn, puts her
impartiality in question.
Respondent judge is of the impression that the release of Ramirez from jail and the recall of
the order of arrest against Victoria Torres had rendered the administrative cases against her
moot and academic. Rather than exonerate her, these facts instead serve to strengthen the
charges against her. For one, the release order issued by this Court only proves the
impropriety of her act, while on the other, the recall order demonstrates the impetuosity by
which the arrest order was issued in the first place.
The same attitude is observed in respondent judge in connection with Administrative Matter
No. R-684-RTC which she wants this court to consider moot and academic for the reasons
that she has rendered a decision in Civil Case No. C-9831 and that the complainant had
moved for the withdrawal of said complaint.
We said in the case of Vasquez v. Malvar, 85 SCRA 10, that a motion to withdraw and/or
dismiss the complaint by complainant, does not, by itself, warrant the dismissal of the
administrative case against respondent judge, because "to condition administrative actions
upon the will of every complainant, who may, for one reason or another, condone a
detestable act, is to strip this Court of its supervisory power to discipline erring members of
the Judiciary."
And seriously blunder, respondent did.
While it appears that the complaint was filed under a misapprehension of facts, in that it was not
indubitably established that the case had been submitted for decision as alleged in the complaint,
and dismissal of the charge should have followed as a matter of course, the case had taken an
unexpected twist. In her answer, respondent judge admitted to have succumbed to pressure in
deciding the case in favor of herein complainant, Mrs. Esperanza G. Lazaro. Thus, "In order to
promote peace so nobody would call me again by telephone telling the same purpose, the
respondent, then decided the case with the point in mind that this [sic] a revolutionary
government and she had nor [sic] recourse but to decide the case in favor of Mrs. Esperanza G.
Lazaro, [Decision dated July 18, 1986, see attached.]"
8

Even accepting for the nonce that there was this supposed pressure from a source twice
removed from the national official mentioned earlier, her confessed act of succumbing to this
pressure on the telephone is a patent betrayal of the public trust reposed on respondent as
an arbiter of the law and a revelation of her weak moral character. By her appointment to the
office, the public has laid on respondent their confidence that she is mentally and morally fit
to pass upon the merits of their varied contentions. For this reason, they expect her to be
fearless in her pursuit to render justice, to be unafraid to displease any person, interest or
power and to be equipped with a moral fiber strong enough to resist the temptations lurking
in her office. Regrettably, respondent has dismally failed to exhibit these qualities required of
those holding such office.
In Administrative Matter No. R-359-RTJ, respondent judge failed to act with reasonable
dispatch required of judicial officers. There is reason to doubt the authenticity of the date
shown on the order resolving the motion of complainant to declare therein defendant Pasion
in default. If it were true that the motion was resolved as early as March 1, 1985, We do not
think that service of the order upon counsel for complainant at this office in Espana, Manila
would take more than three [3] months, and most conveniently after the present complaint
has been filed.
Delay in the administration of justice is the most common cause of complaint and a judge
should endeavor to avoid it. It is thus incumbent upon a judge to manage his court with a
view to the prompt and convenient disposition of its business and he should not tolerate
abuses, indifference or neglect by clerks, sheriffs and other officers of the court. Hence, upon
failure of her clerk to serve summons on the third party defendant, it became incumbent upon
her to remind said clerk of such failure.
The explanation given by respondent judge in Administrative Matter No. 86-4-9987-RTC is
unsatisfactory. Par. VIII, Circular No. 7, dated September 23, 1974 of this Court provides:
VIII. PAIRING SYSTEM:
A pairing system shall be established whereby every branch shall be
considered as paired with another branch. In the event of vacancy in any
branch, or of the absence or disability of the judge thereof, all incidental or
interlocutory matters pertaining to it may be acted upon by that judge of the
other branch paired with it. The latter may likewise conduct trials or hearings
on the merits in criminal cases with detention prisoners assigned to the other
branch, as well as in other kinds of cases, subject to the conformity of the
parties. [Emphasis supplied.]
Pursuant to the above-quoted internal procedure, the referral of Civil Case No. C-12172 to
judge Macandog was solely for the purpose of acting upon the motion to consolidate and/or
transfer case to the pairing judge. Such referral did not in any manner empower or authorize
her to decide the case on the merits, particularly in the light of the vigorous objection
interposed by therein plaintiff. The power and authority of one acting as a pairing judge are
clearly defined and delineated by said paragraph and one acting beyond its tenor certainly
oversteps his authority.
Judges are required to observe due care in the performance of their official duties.
9
They are
likewise charged with the knowledge of internal rules and procedures, especially those which
relate to the scope of their authority. They are dutybound to observe and abide by these rules and
procedures, designed, as they are, primarily to ensure the orderly administration of justice. Thus,
confronted with a serious challenge to one's authority, an ordinary prudent man would perceive
the reasonableness, if not the wisdom, of the suggestion/request that the question at hand be
referred to this Court. The hasty and reckless attitude of respondent judge in taking cognizance of
and deciding Civil Case No. 12172 despite the strong objection against her authority and the
reasonable request for referral of the question to this Court, constitutes misconduct in office
warranting disciplinary sanction.
Anent respondent's averment that she was granted authority by this Court on September 16,
1982 to take cognizance of all kinds of cases in Branch CXXI, suffice it to say that the same
was revoked, not by our resolution of April 26, 1986, but much earlier, by the implementation
of the Judiciary Reorganization Act on January 17, 1983.
Respondent Judge Macandog has shown herself to be mentally and morally unfit to remain in
her office. Her removal must perforce be effected.
In view of the disclosure by respondent that the decision in Civil Case No. C-9831 was
rendered under undue pressure and influence, the party aggrieved thereby may take such
remedial steps as may be warranted.
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Antonia Corpuz-Macandog is hereby ordered dismissed
from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and pay, and with prejudice to
reinstatement in any branch of the government or any of its agencies or
instrumentalities.This Decision is immediately executory.SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

A.M. No. 276-MJ June 27, 1975
HADJIRUL TAHIL, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. CARLITO A. EISMA, Municipal Judge of Parang, Sulu, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N

ANTONIO, J .:
Respondent Municipal Judge Carlito A. Eisma, of Parang, Sulu, is charged by complainant Hadjirul
Tahil with dishonesty in not reporting regularly to his office, contrary to the recitals of his daily time
record. In his "Investigation, Report and Recommendation" dated February 29, 1973, Judge Felix V.
Barbers of the Court of First Instance of Sulu, Branch III, 16th Judicial District, who investigated the
case, recommended the dismissal of the charge.
According to the findings of the Investigating Judge:
... respondent has been regularly reporting to his office except on certain days when
he marked himself absent during which he explained, his salary was correspondingly
deducted therefrom.
The filing of this complaint, the respondent declared, is motivated by hatred, anger
and revenge on the part of the complainant. This is occasioned by the fact, when
complainant brought the bail bond of his nephew Bakkal Ilahal charged in Criminal
Case No. 241-N before the Court of respondent, for approval of the latter. Because
of the failure of the bondsmen to appear before him, respondent did not approve of
the bail bond. Again on another occasion, complainant filed in the Court of
respondent a motion to dismiss Criminal Case No. 372-N, wherein the same nephew
of the complainant, Bakkal Ilahal, is also charged with the crime of illegal possession
of firearms. A scrutiny of the motion to dismiss and its annexes, offered in evidence
by respondent, will show that the same is based on documents merely certified to by
the clerk of the counsel of Bakkal Ilahal. Respondent in his order denying this motion
to dismiss ruled:
"After a thorough perusal and study of the issues involved in the
motion to dismiss and the opposition, thereto, the Court finds that the
reasons of Lt. Rodialo Gumtang in his oral opposition are more
logical and justifiable because the evidence upon which accused thru
counsel relies in their motion to dismiss are documentary in nature
and the Court is not in a position to accept this kind of evidence
without confronting persons who executed and prepared the
documents in question. Furthermore, some of the documents
presented by accused thru counsel are merely certified true copies,
the validity and originality of which are subject to question.
"Accused thru counsel can have all the opportunity to present all their
evidence during the trial of the case, hence, to pass and decide upon
the validity of the documents attached to the motion to dismiss is
premature and the proper subject of a trial on the merits.
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing consideration, this Court
denies the motion to dismiss of accused and orders that this case be
set for trial on April 15, 1971. Let copy of this order be issued to the
parties with the warning that no postponements shall be entertained.
"SO ORDERED."
Without going to the merits of the abovementioned two cases, this Court finds that
respondent acted judiciously on the matter. His disapproval of the bail bond without
the bondsmen appearing before him in the first case (murder) is correct, because as
the approving officer he must satisfy himself that those who made, the undertaking to
bail the accused are the same persons whose names appear on the bail bond and
whose signatures are affixed thereto, otherwise, if only for the sake of friendship to
accomodate the complainant, would make the bond a useless scrap of paper, and
which respondent can be held responsible.
A scrutiny of the bail bond (Exhibit 1) which we believe is the original thereof, the
same is not even signed by the principal, who is the accused to be bailed. Neither
has it been shown that the current taxes of the real properties offered as bond had
been paid. The receipts of payment or a certificate of the municipal treasurer to this
effect is not even attached, which are requirements to be accomplished pursuant to
existing circulars of the Department of Justice.
As to the order denying the motion to dismiss in the other case (illegal possession of
firearm), this Court finds and is convinced that respondent acted legally. A scrutiny of
the motion to dismiss and the grounds thereof, are grounds that could be taken and
proven during the trial on the merits of the case. Respondent not having been
satisfied with the documents annexed to the motion which are purely certified copies
made by the clerk of the accused's counsel, respondent acted correctly and legally.
On this score, complainant has all the reasons to be angry at respondent taking into
consideration their previous friendship, and now respondent has failed to
accomodate him as hereinabove described. A lot of persons, because of friendly
relations they have with judicial authorities, consider that when their wishes are not
complied with or accomodated in cases pending before the courts of which they have
an interest, it is the end of such friendship and to their eyes the judge is not a friend
but a foe. Their nearsightedness on these matters could be like a poison to their
mental faculties so that they would like the judge who failed to accomodate them,
face their wrath and displeasure. Complainant became wrathful, but wrath must be
properly channeled or it may work out a grave injustice. But, certainly, a judge in the
exercise of his judicial function, does not see whether one is a friend or foe, whether
one is influential or not, but rather, whether he acts within the law he is to apply,
whether his actuations are prescribed by the rules of court and whether he has acted
judiciously.
As to the alleged falsification of the respondent of his daily time record and the
allegation that he only reports to his office during Mondays and Thursdays, do not
find credibility, and naturally should not be given weight.
It appears, however, that in the aforementioned Criminal Case No. 241-N for murder, respondent
admitted having granted bail to the accused upon the request of a congressman, despite his belief
that the evidence of guilt against the accused was strong. On the basis of this admission, the
Judicial Consultant recommends that the respondent Judge "be fined in an amount equivalent to his
salary for one (1) month and warned that a repetition of such a breach of integrity will be dealt with
more sternly."
Under the Constitution, all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, except
those charged with capital offenses when evidence of guilt is strong. The discretion of the court to
grant bail in a capital offense, before conviction, must be based upon the Court's determination as to
whether or not the evidence of guilt is strong. This discretion may only be exercised after the
evidence is submitted at the summary hearing conducted pursuant to Section 7 of Rule 114 of the
Rules.1wph 1.t
Respondent's admission that he granted bail because of the request of a congressman, despite his
belief that the evidence of guilt against the accused is strong, is indeed reprehensible. But it is not
clear from the record whether or not a summary hearing was conducted by respondent Judge in
Criminal Case No. 241-N for the purpose of bail and, on the basis of his appreciation of the evidence
submitted, granted bail to the accused. Moreover, respondent was not specifically charged and
investigated in this regard, and in the absence of any specific finding that respondent gravely abused
his discretion in granting bail to the accused in said case, this Court has no basis to impose a fine
upon respondent.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the charge against respondent is DISMISSED.
Considering his admission, however, he is hereby admonished to demonstrate a greater degree of
competence, intellectual courage and independence in the discharge of his judicial duties, for only in
that manner can he merit the judicial position that he occupies and the support and confidence of the
people.








THIRD DIVISION
[A.M. RTJ-94-1266. August 21, 1996]
ARMANDO CONTRERAS, complainant, vs. JUDGE CESAR M.
SOLIS, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
MELO, J .:
The instant administrative case against respondent Judge Cesar M. Solis
stemmed from his orders releasing the accused on bail in a habeas
corpus proceeding and his subsequent order directing the re-arrest of the said
accused.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
On November 8, 1992, prior to the filing of a petition for habeas
corpus before the sala of herein respondent Judge Solis, and information was
filed against Rufino Mamangon, a PNP member, for the murder of Gener
Contreras. The case was raffled to Branch 18 of the Regional Trial Court of
the Third Judicial Region stationed in Malolos, Bulacan, presided over by
Judge Demetrio Macapagal Sr. On May 31, 1994, Judge Macapagal
dismissed the criminal case for lack of jurisdiction and accordingly directed the
branch clerk of court to forward the complete record of the case to the
Sandiganbayan. Mamangon was not, however, released from detention
despite the dismissal of the criminal case, prompting him on July 20, 1994, to
file a petition forhabeas corpus. The petition was raffled to the branch (No.
21) presided over by herein respondent Judge Cesar M. Solis. Respondent,
in an order dated July 27, 1994, dismissed the petition for lack of merit. On
August 4, 1994, acting on a motion for reconsideration filed by Mamangon,
respondent issued an order authorizing the release of Mamangon from the
provincial jail upon the posting of a cash bond in the amount of P25,000.00. A
motion for reconsideration was filed by the provincial prosecutor which
prompted respondent judge to cancel the cash bond posted by Mamangon
and to order his re-arrest. Thereupon, Armando Contreras, brother of the
victim Gener Contreras, filed the instant complaint.
Complainant alleged that on the morning of August 1, 1994, when he went
to the office of respondent he was told by the latter that Mamangon is willing
to give P25,000.00 for his release. It appears, according to complainant, that
if he would give the same amount of money, respondent would no longer
release Mamangon.
According to complainant, respondent also gravely abused his discretion
and authority when he ordered the release of the accused upon the posting of
the cash bond; that it is not within the authority of respondent to release the
accused considering that his authority in a habeas corpus proceeding is to
determine whether or not the detention of the accused is legal or
illegal. Moreover, it was contended, respondent has no authority to order the
re-arrest of the accused in the same proceeding.
On July 3, 1996, Deputy Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepao
submitted her report with the following evaluation:
A. On the Charge of Dishonesty/Extortion
Respondent insists he never asked money from complainant. He merely instructed
one of his staff to advise Armando Contreras about the habeas corpus proceeding so
that he can participate in it. It was quite late in the afternoon of that day and the
clerks were no longer available to type the notice or order. He also explains that
complainant misconstrued his mentioning an amount, i.e., P20,000.00 to be extortion
when all he meant was that this would be how much he will spend to hire a lawyer to
represent his cause in the proceedings.
The protestations of respondent Judge are not exactly persuasive. At once certain
questions beg to be asked. For instance, if his sole interest in asking Contreras to see
him in his office was to afford the former the opportunity to participate in
the habeas corpus case, why express such interest at a very late stage, i.e., after he had
issued a decision thereon and after petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the
decision? Noteworthy is that the petition was filed on 20 July 1994, set for hearing six
(6) days later or on 26 July, and the decision rendered the following day. Judge Solis
could have very well notified complainant about the proceeding as soon as the petition
was filed by simply furnishing him copy of his Order setting the case for hearing on
26th July. But he did not. Strangely enough, he waited until after the last working
hour of Friday, 29th July, to notify Contreras of his desire to meet him at the very
early hour of 7 oclock in the morning of 1 August. Why then did the judge schedule
the meeting at an early hour that morning even before court employees arrived for
work? Was it only for the purpose of telling complainant that he can participate in the
proceeding, or more specifically, in the hearing of the Motion for
Reconsideration, and that he should engage the services of a good lawyer for
P20,000.00? If it was, then in my view, the meeting was absolutely unnecessary. The
judge denies that he propositioned complainant, and complainant informs the Court
that he did not pay the amount proposed. At any rate on 8 August 1994 Judge
Solis motu proprio issued two Orders for the posting of a cash bond for P25,000.00 by
accused Mamangon and his release from jail, and transmittal of the records of the case
to Sandiganbayan.
While no proof has been submitted to the Court by complainant as to attempted
extortion by respondent judge other than his verified letter-complaint, still, the
actuations of respondent leave much to be desired since these easily lend[s] to
suspicions of dishonesty. On this score alone, respondent should be properly advised
to avoid occasions where his acts may arouse suspicions of irregularity.
B. On the Grant and Subsequent Cancellation of Bail Constituting Grave Abuse
of Authority, Grave Misconduct and Incompetence
Section 3, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court provides that all persons in custody shall,
before final conviction, be entitled to bail as a matter of right, except when charged
with a capital offense or an offense which, under the law at the time of its commission
and at the time of the application for bail, is punishable by reclusion perpetua when
evidence of guilt is strong.
Criminal Case No. 2406-M-92 for MURDER was filed on 5 November 1992 when
the penalty imposable at the time for the crime of murder was reclusion temporal in
its maximum period to reclusion perpetua. Significantly, the records do not show that
an application for bail was filed with the court trying the criminal case. Neither do
they show that such an application was filed with respondent Judge in the habeas
corpusproceedings. Complainant has pointed this out in his complaint because it
appears that the grant of bail to the accused by respondent Judge Cesar M. Solis and
the corresponding approval of his cash bond in the amount of P25,000.00 as shown in
the Orders dated 4 August 1994 (p. 27) and 8 August 1994 (p. 28), respectively, was
in the thinking of the judge, a matter of right for the accused.
An analysis of the submissions of respondent Judge on this point shows that in issuing
the aforesaid Orders, he relied on the provisions of Sec. 14 of Rule 102 which state:
Sec. 14. When person lawfully imprisoned, recommitted, and when let to
bail. If it appears that the prisoner was lawfully committed, and is plainly and
specifically charged in the warrant of commitment with an offense punishable by
death, he shall not be released, discharged, or bailed. If he is lawfully imprisoned or
restrained on a charge of having committed an offense not so punishable, he may be
recommitted to imprisonment or admitted to bail in the discretion of the court or
judge. If he be admitted to bail, he shall forthwith file a bond in such sum as the court
or judge deems reasonable, considering the circumstances of the prisoner and the
nature of the offense charged, conditioned for his appearance before the court where
the offense is properly cognizable to abide its order or judgment; and the court or
judge shall certify the proceedings, together with the bond, forthwith to the proper
court. If such bond is not so filed, the prisoner shall be recommitted to confinement.
In the Order dated 24 August 1994 (p. 16, Rollo) respondent Judge
justified his reliance on the aforequoted provision pointing to Section 2, Rule
72 of the Rules of Court which provides that in the absence of special
provisions, the rules provided for in ordinary actions shall, as far as
practicable, be applicable in special proceedings. A habeas corpus belongs
to the category of special proceedings.
In the same Order, Judge Solis further argued that because of Sec. 14 of
Rule 102, he took into consideration the fact that since the penalty for the
crime at the time was only reclusion perpetua and not death, he did not find it
necessary to apply the provisions of criminal procedure on bail.
I am not convinced of the reasons proffered by respondent Judge.
The accused never applied for bail. Consequently, it was improper for and
erroneous of respondent judge to advocate for the accused and motu
proprio grant him bail sans application. Compounding this was that despite the
fact that the penalty for the crime for which the accused was detained
was reclusion perpetua, no hearing was ordered by the judge to give
prosecution a chance to show that the evidence against the accused was
strong as to preclude bail. It is my position that the grant of bail under Sec. 14
of Rule 102 of the Rules does not do away with the basic requirements set
forth in Rule 114 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure on Bail since the former
merely prescribes supplemental rules on bail for habeas corpus
proceedings. The argument of respondent that he merely interpreted Sec. 14
of Rule 102 to the best interest of justice and fair play considering that the
murder case had been dismissed by Branch 18, the accused had been
detained for a long period and that he had a family to support are specious,
being irrelevant, in the face of the express requirements of the Rules. More
importantly, the application of Sec. 14 of Rule 102 of the Rules is erroneous
because while Sec. 14 speaks of a prisoner lawfully restrained, Mamangon in
this case was being unlawfully restrained despite the dismissal of the case
against him on the ground of lack jurisdiction (sic). Respondent therefore
should have forthwith ordered Mamangons release from jail. Instead, he
granted bail which was not even necessary. This however cannot be
construed as malicious, it appearing merely to be an error of judgment.
Respondents misapplication of the law was further aggravated when upon
motion by prosecution and complainant herein, he cancelled the cash bond
posted by Mamangon and ordered his re-arrest for the reason that such is
allowed by the self-same provision upon which he based his Order granting
bail to Mamangon, and considering further that [the] Mamangons release
would endanger the life of complainant and that of his family and relatives.
A close reading of the rule alluded to shows that while discretion is
afforded the judge to grant bail, no discretion is authorized in the cancellation
thereof, for the rules limit the instances under which bail may be
cancelled. Thus, Sec. 22 of Rule 114 applies, quoted hereunder:
Cancellation of bail bond. Upon application filed with the court and after due
notice to the prosecutor, the bail bond may be cancelled upon surrender of the accused
or proof of his death.
The bail bond shall be deemed automatically cancelled upon acquittal of the accused
or dismissal of the case or execution of the final judgment of conviction.
In all instances, the cancellation shall be without prejudice to any liability of
the bond.
The grounds cited by respondent in cancelling Mamangons bail find no
support in the abovequoted provision. Thus grave misconduct was committed
by respondent when he arbitrarily cancelled Mamangons bail and ordered the
latters re-arrest. For this reason, respondent must be sanctioned.
On the basis of the above, the imposition of an unspecified fine was
recommended.
We partly agree with the findings and recommendation of the Office of the
Court Administrator.
On the Charge of Extortion and Dishonesty
Our minds can not sit easy with regard to the charge of extortion.
Respondent admitted having met complainant in the early morning of August
1, 1994, for the purpose of informing complainant that he could participate in
the habeas corpus proceeding. During said meeting, respondent also
admitted having told complainant of the potency of Mamangons motion for
reconsideration and the amount of money which complainant would spend to
hire a good lawyer to represent him in the proceeding. Respondents
seemingly benign conduct of advising complainant on matters pending before
respondent puzzle our minds since we are not told of any special
circumstance which would justify respondents special interest over
complainants concern. Respondent, however, gives no other reason for
meeting and advising complainant that could dispel ill thoughts in reference to
respondents motives. Any person with a reasonable mind would deduce that
respondents actuation meant something much more than what he explicitly
suggested, for what could be respondents reason, in mentioning the
potency of Mamangons motion for reconsideration and the amount of
money which complainant might spend in resisting the same, than to insinuate
that complainant could save on expenses and be certain of the result by
spending the same amount for the judge. Certainly, it is simply naive to say
that a proposal to that effect could be done only through the use of direct
words expressing respondents intention to be willing and able to decide the
case in complainants favor for a consideration. Respondents pretended
innocence over the perceived meaning of his insinuation is unpersuasive
considering his long years in the practice of law. Thus, the intention of
respondent in meeting with complainant and in giving him advise is, to say the
least, far from the behavior of a member of judiciary, who should, at all times,
avoid the slightest of hint of anomaly and corruption.
Verily, the duty of a judge is not only to administer justice but also to
conduct himself in a manner that would avoid any suspicion of irregularity. He
has the avowed duty of promoting confidence in the judicial system. Thus, the
Code of Judicial Conduct provides:
Canon I
Rule 1.01 : A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity and
independence.
Canon II
Rule 2.00 : A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in
all activities.
Rule 2.01 : A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence
in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
A judges official conduct and his behavior in the performance of his duties
should be free from appearance of impropriety and must be beyond reproach
(Alazar vs. Reyes, 131 SCRA 445, 453). Any act which would give the
appearance of impropriety is in itself reprehensible, calling for disciplinary
action. This is the price which must be paid by one who joins the
Judiciary. Whatever may have been respondent judges motive in meeting
complainant, such action certainly could but be said as giving rise to questions
on his honesty. Respondent judge is thus guilty of committing acts of
impropriety prejudicial to the integrity of the judiciary.
On Grave Abuse of Authority and Grave Misconduct and Incompetence
At the outset, let it be said that respondent judge correctly ruled that the
granting of the petition for habeas corpus would unduly intervene with the
functions of a co-equal branch of the court, considering that the period within
which to file a notice of appeal or a motion for reconsideration against the
order of Judge Macapagal declaring his court to be without jurisdiction had
then not yet lapsed. However, respondent, upon Mamangon filing a motion
for reconsideration, released Mamangon on bail. Maliciously made it is
suggested, for it was made several days after an alleged extortion attempt by
respondent judge upon herein complainant Armando Contreras. The order,
nonetheless, according to respondent is not devoid of any legal
basis. Respondent judge cites, in this regard, Section 14 of Rule 102 of the
Revised Rules of Court as his legal ground for such an order, to wit:
When person lawfully imprisoned recommitted, and when let to bail. If it appears
that the prisoner was lawfully committed, and is plainly and specifically charged in
the warrant of commitment with an offense punishable by death, he shall not be
released, discharged, or bailed. If he is lawfully imprisoned or restrained on a charge
of having committed an offense not so punishable, he may be recommitted to
imprisonment or admitted to bail in the discretion of the court or judge. If he be
admitted to bail, he shall forthwith file a bond in such sum as the court or judge deems
reasonable, considering the circumstances of the prisoner and the nature of the offense
charged, conditioned for his appearance before the court where the offense is properly
cognizable to abide its order or judgment; and the court or judge shall certify the
proceedings, together with the bond, forthwith to the proper court. If such bond is not
so filed, the prisoner shall be recommitted to confinement.
Clear as the basis may be, its application is, however, erroneous. Even
assuming that Mamangon was lawfully imprisoned at the outset, at the time
he filed his motion for reconsideration, the decision of Judge Macapagal
declaring his court to be without jurisdiction had already become final and
considering that no information had been re-filed, the detention of Mamangon
was untenable and illegal. An accused against whom the information has
been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction may no longer be detained; the
information under which the accused is being held for trial loses its force and
effect. There is simply nothing to hold the accused answerable for. Section
14 of Rule 102 of the Revised Rules of Court speaks of a person lawfully
imprisoned. The accused Mamangon was no longer lawfully imprisoned at
the time the motion for reconsideration was filed. Thus, respondent should
not have applied Section 12 of Rule 114 but instead reversed his former
decision by granting the petition and ordering the release of the accused
without requiring him to post bail. When the court where the criminal case
was filed is without jurisdiction, the authority of the court to hold the accused
in confinement pending trial is a valid subject of a petition for habeas
corpus. Where the petitioner is held upon a judicial order, the writ will lie
where the order is void because the court issuing it had no jurisdiction over
the crime charged or over the person accused where the latter had challenged
on time, the jurisdiction of the court over his person (Francisco, p. 665, Rules
of Court in the Philippines Vol. V-B; citing the case of Banayo vs. President of
San Pablo, 2 Phil. 413; Collins vs. Wolfe, 4 Phil. 534; Malinao et al. vs.
Peterson, No. L-16464 July 26, 1960). But this remedy should not be secured
before a court of equal rank in order to avoid undue interference upon the
functions of another branch unless the former court has declared itself to be
without jurisdiction, as in the instant case.
Considering that the petition for habeas corpus should have been granted,
and the accused released from jail without bail, respondent judge acted
erroneously when he ordered the re-arrest of the accused. Apparently, the
order of respondent to re-arrest the accused was prompted by the filing of the
motion for reconsideration by the prosecution alleging that respondent
committed error when he ordered the release of the accused charged with a
capital offense. Believing that an error has been committed, respondent
ordered the cancellation of the cash bond and the re-arrest of the accused by
invoking the inherent power of the court to protect and preserve the rights of
the parties and for the safety of the victims family. Unfortunately, in trying to
correct his error, respondent fell into another error by ordering the re-arrest of
the accused.
The erroneous application of the rule by respondent nevertheless cannot
be the sole basis for disciplining him. As we have ruled in the past, in order to
discipline a judge, it must clearly be shown that the judgment or order is unjust
as being contrary to law and that the judge rendered it with conscious and
deliberate intent to do injustice (Re Climaco, 55 SCRA 107). Judges cannot
be subjected to liability civil, criminal or administrative for any of their
official acts, no matter how erroneous, so long as they act in good faith. It is
only when they act fraudulently or corruptly, or with gross ignorance may they
be held criminally or administratively responsible (Valdez vs. Valera,
81 SCRA 246). Considering the circumstances of the case at bar, we cannot
hold respondent liable for his erroneous action. An erroneous decision or
order is presumed to have been issued in good faith in the absence of proof to
the contrary. Complainant herein alleged that the order of respondent judge
releasing the accused on bail was maliciously motivated for having been
issued several days after the attempted extortion. We find the decision of
respondent erroneous but its malicious intent, however, may not be presumed
in the absence of any evidence to prove the same. It might be suggested
that, respondents ill motives may be presumed considering his actuation prior
to the issuance of the questioned erroneous order. We are, however, unable
to find a clear and definite connection between an attempt at extortion and the
subsequent erroneous orders. It would be unjust to presume wrong intentions
considering that respondents questioned orders are not totally unjustifiable.
Withal, respondent judge cannot be held liable for releasing Mamangon on
bail and for ordering the cancellation of his cash bond and his re-arrest.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent judge guilty of committing acts of
impropriety prejudicial to the integrity of the Judiciary, for which infraction he is
hereby ordered to pay a fine of Two Thousand (P2,000.00), with the warning
that a repetition of a similar conduct shall be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.













Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 72670 September 12, 1986
SATURNINA GALMAN, REYNALDO GALMAN and JOSE P. BENGZON, MARY CONCEPCION
BAUTISTA, JOAQUIN G. BERNAS; S.J., M. BELLARMINE BERNAS, O.S.B., FRANCISCO I.
CHAVEZ, SOLITA COLLAS-MONSOD, SANTIAGO DUMLAO, JR., MARIA FERIA, MARCELO B.
FERNAN, FRANCISCO GARCHITORENA, * ANDREW GONZALEZ, JOSE C. LAURETA,
SALVADOR P. LOPEZ, FELIX K. MARAMBA, JR., CECILIA MUOZ PALMA. JAIME V. ONGPIN,
FELIX PEREZ, JOSE B.L. REYES, JOSE E. ROMERO, JR., RAMON DEL ROSARIO, JR.,
RICARDO J. ROMULO, AUGUSTO SANCHEZ, EMMANUEL V. SORIANO, DAVID SYCIP,
ENRIQUE SYQUIA, CRISTINA TAN, JESUS VARGAS, BERNARDO M. VILLEGAS, VICENTE
JAYME, **,petitioners,
vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN, FIRST DIVISION (represented by Justice Manuel Pamaran, Chairman, and
Justices Augusto Amores and Bienvenido Vera Cruz, Members), JUSTICE BERNARDO
FERNANDEZ (Ombudsman) and GEN. FABIAN C. VER, MAJ. GEN. PROSPERO A. OLIVAS,
BRIG. GEN. LUFHER A. CUSTODIO, COL. ARTURO G. CUSTODIO, COL. VICENTE B. TIGAS,
JR., CAPT. FELIPE VALERIO, CAPT. LLEWELYN KAVINTA, CAPT. ROMEO M. BAUTISTA, 2nd
LT. JESUS CASTRO, SGT. PABLO MARTINEZ, SGT. ARNULFO DE MESA, SGT. TOMAS
FERNANDEZ, SGT. CLARO LAT, SGT. FILOMENO MIRANDA, SGT. ROLANDO C. DE
GUZMAN, SGT. ERNESTO M. MATEO, SGT. RODOLFO M. DESOLONG, SGT. LEONARDO
MOJICA, SGT. PEPITO TORIO, SGT. ARMANDO DELA CRUZ, SGT. PROSPERO A. BONA, CIC
ROGELIO MORENO, CIC MARIO LAZAGA, AIC CORDOVA G. ESTELO, AIC ANICETO
ACUPIDO and HERMILO GOSUICO, *** , respondents.
Lupino Lazaro and Arturo M. de Castro for petitioners.
Antonio R. Coronel for respondents Gen. Ver and Col. Tigas, Jr.
Rodolfo U. Jimenez for respondent Brig. Gen. Custodio.
Ramon M. Bernaldo for respondent H. Gosuico.
Romulo Quimbo for respondent B. Vera Cruz.
Norberto J. Quisumbing for respondent P. Olivas.
Felix Solomon for respondent Col. A. Custodio.
Alfonso S. Cruz for B. Fernandez.
Edgardo B. Gayos for M. Pamaran.
R E S O L U T I O N

TEEHANKEE, C.J .:
Last August 21st, our nation marked with solemnity and for the first time in freedom the third anniversary of the treacherous assassination of
foremost opposition leader former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. imprisoned for almost eight years since the imposition of martial law
in September, 1972 by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, he was sentenced to death by firing squad by a military tribunal for common
offenses alleged to have been committed long before the declaration of martial law and whose jurisdiction over him as a civilian entitled to
trial by judicial process by civil courts he repudiated. Ninoy pleaded in vain that the military tribunals are admittedly not courts but mere
instruments and subject to the control of the President as created by him under the General Orders issued by him as Commander-in-Chief of
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and that he had already been publicly indicted and adjudged guilty by the President of the charges in a
nationwide press conference held on August 24, 1971 when he declared the evidence against Ninoy "not only strong but overwhelming
."
1
This followed the Plaza Miranda bombing of August 21, 1971 of the proclamation rally of the opposition Liberal Party candidates for the
November, 1971 elections (when eight persons were killed and practically all of the opposition candidates headed by Senator Jovito Salonga
and many more were seriously injured), and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus under Proclamation No. 889 on
August 23, 1971. The massacre was instantly attributed to the communists but the truth has never been known. But the then President never
filed the said charges against Ninoy in the civil courts.
Ninoy Aquino was nevertheless thereafter allowed in May, 1980 to leave the country to undergo successful heart surgery. After three years
of exile and despite the regime's refusal to give him a passport, he sought to return home "to strive for a genuine national reconciliation
founded on justice." He was to be cold-bloodedly killed while under escort away by soldiers from his plane that had just landed at the Manila
International Airport on that fateful day at past 1 p.m. His brain was smashed by a bullet fired point blank into the back of his head by a
murderous assassin, notwithstanding that the airport was ringed by airtight security of close to 2,000 soldiers and "from a military viewpoint, it
(was) technically impossible to get inside (such) a cordon."
2
The military investigators reported within a span of three hours that the man
who shot Aquino (whose identity was then supposed to be unknown and was revealed only days later as Rolando Galman, although he was
the personal friend of accused Col. Arturo Custodio who picked him up from his house on August 17, 1983) was a communist-hired gunman,
and that the military escorts gunned him down in turn. The military later filmed a re-enactment of the killing scripted according to this version
and continuously replayed it on all TV channels as if it were taken live on the spot. The then President instantly accepted the military version
and repeated it in a nationally televised press conference that he gave late in the evening of August 22, 1983, wherein he said, in order to
induce disbelief that the military had a hand in the killing, that "if the purpose was to eliminate Aquino, this was not the way to do it."
The national tragedy shocked the conscience of the entire nation and outraged the free world. The
large masses of people who joined in the ten-day period of national mourning and came out in
millions in the largest and most orderly public turnout for Ninoy's funeral reflected their grief for his
martyrdom and their yearning for the truth, justice and freedom.
The then President was constrained to create a Fact Finding Board
3
to investigate "the treacherous and vicious assassination of former
Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. on August 21, 1983 [which] has to all Filipinos become a national tragedy and national shame specially
because of the early distortions and exaggerations in both foreign and local media
4
so that all right thinking and honest men desire to
ventilate the truth through fare, independent and dispassionate investigation by prestigious and free investigators." After two false starts,
5
he
finally constituted the Board
6
on October 22, 1983 which held 125 hearing days commencing November 3, 1983 (including 3 hearings in
Tokyo and 8 hearings in Los Angeles, California) and heard the testimonies of 194 witnesses recorded in 20,377 pages of transcripts, until
the submission of their minority and majority reports to the President on October 23 and 24, 1984. This was to mark another first anywhere in
the world wherein the minority report was submitted one day ahead by the ponente thereof, the chairman, who was received congenially and
cordially by the then President who treated the report as if it were the majority report instead of a minority report of one and forthwith referred
it to respondent Tanodbayan "for final resolution through the legal system" and for trial in the Sandiganbayan which was better known as a
graft court; and the majority report of the four other members was submitted on the following day to the then President who coldly received
them and could scarcely conceal his instant rejection of their report with the grim statement that "I hope you can live with your conscience
with what you have done."
The fact is that both majority and minority reports were one in rejecting the military version as
propounded by the chief investigator, respondent Gen. Olivas, that Rolando Galman was the NPA-
hired assassin, stating that "the evidence shows [to the contrary] that Rolando Galman had no
subversive affiliations." They were in agreement that "only the soldiers in the staircase with Sen.
Aquino could have shot him;" that Galman, the military's "fall guy" was "not the assassin of Sen.
Aquino and that "the SWAT troopers who gunned down Galman and the soldiers who escorted Sen.
Aquino down the service stairs, deliberately and in conspiracy with one another, gave a perjured
story to us regarding the alleged shooting by Galman of Sen. Aquino and the mowing down, in turn,
of Galman himself;" in short, that Ninoy's assassination was the product of a military conspiracy, not
a communist plot The only difference between the two reports is that the majority report found all the
twenty-six private respondents abovenamed in the title of the case headed by then AFP Chief
General Fabian C. Ver involved in the military conspiracy and therefore "indictable for the
premeditated killing of Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. and Rolando Galman at the MIA on August
21, 1983;" while the chairman's minority report would exclude nineteen of them and limit as plotters
"the six persons who were on the service stairs while Senator Aquino was descending" and "General
Luther Custodio . . . because the criminal plot could not have been planned and implemented
without his intervention."
The chairman wrote in her minority report (somewhat prophetically) that "The epilogue to our work
lies in what will transpire in accordance with the action that the Office of the President may thereafter
direct to be taken. "The four-member majority report (also prophetically) wrote in the epilogue (after
warning the forces who adhere to an alien and intolerable political ideology against unscrupulously
using the report "to discredit our traditionally revered institutions"), that "the tragedy opened our eyes
and for the first time confirmed our worst fears of what unchecked evil would be capable of doing."
They wrote:
The task of the Board was clear and unequivocal. This task was not only to
determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of the late former
Senator. Of greater significance is the awesome responsibility of the Board to uphold
righteousness over evil, justice over injustice, rationality over irrationality,
humaneness over inhumanity. The task was indeed a painful test, the inevitable
result of which will restore our country's honored place among the sovereign nations
of the free world where peace, law and order, freedom, and justice are a way of life.
More than any other event in contemporary Philippine history, the killing of the late
former Senator Aquino has brought into sharper focus, the ills pervading Philippine
society. It was the concretization of the horror that has been haunting this country for
decades, routinely manifested by the breakdown of peace and order, economic
instability, subversion, graft and corruption, and an increasing number of abusive
elements in what are otherwise noble institutions in our country-the military and law
enforcement agencies. We are, however, convinced that, by and large, the great
majority of the officers and men of these institutions have remained decent and
honorable, dedicated to their noble mission in the service of our country and people.
The tragedy opened our eyes and for the first time confirmed our worst fears of what
unchecked evil would be capable of doing. As former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba
Eban observes. "Nobody who has great authority can be trusted not to go beyond its
proper limits." Social apathy, passivity and indifference and neglect have spawned in
secret a dark force that is bent on destroying the values held sacred by freedom-
loving people.
To assert our proper place in the civilized world, it is imperative that public officials
should regard public service as a reflection of human Ideals in which the highest
sense of moral values and integrity are strictly required.
A tragedy like that which happened on August 21, 1983, and the crisis that followed,
would have normally caused the resignation of the Chief of the Armed Forces in a
country where public office is viewed with highest esteem and respect and where the
moral responsibilities of public officials transcend all other considerations.
It is equally the fact that the then President through all his recorded public acts and statements from the beginning disdained and rejected his
own Board's above findings and insisted on the military version of Galman being Ninoy's assassin. In upholding this view that "there is no
involvement of anyone in his government in the assassination," he told David Briscoe (then AP Manila Bureau Chief in a Radio-TV interview
on September 9, 1983 that "I am convinced that if any member of my government were involved, I would have known somehow ... Even at a
fairly low level, I would have known. I know how they think. I know what they are thinking of."
7
He told CBS in another interview in May,
1984 (as his Fact Finding Board was holding its hearings) the following:
CBS: But indeed there has been recent evidence that seems to
contradict earlier reports, namely, the recent evidence seems to
indicate that some of the guards may have been responsible (for
shooting Ninoy).
MARCOS: Well, you are of course wrong. What you have been
reading are the newspapers and the newspaper reports have been
biased. The evidence still proves that Galman was the killer. The
evidence also shows that there were intelligence reports connecting
the communist party to the killing. 8
In his reply of October 25, 1984 to General Ver's letter of the same date going on leave of absence upon release of the Board's majority
report implicating him, he wrote that "(W)e are even more aware, general, that the circumstances under which the board has chosen to
implicate you in its findings are fraught with doubt and great contradictions of opinion and testimony. And we are deeply disturbed that on the
basis of so-called evidence, you have been so accused by some members of the Board," and extended "My very best wishes to you and
your family for a speedy resolution of your case,"
9
even as he announced that he would return the general to his position as AFP Chief "if he
is acquitted by the Sandiganbayan." In an interview on June 4, 1985 with the Gamma Photo Agency, as respondent court was hearing the
cases, he was quoted as saying that "as will probably be shown, those witnesses (against the accused) are perjured witnesses."
10

It was against this setting that on November 11, 1985 petitioners Saturnina Galman and Reynaldo Galman, mother and son, respectively, of
the late Rolando Galman, and twenty-nine (29) other petitioners, composed of three former Justices of this Court, five incumbent and former
university presidents, a former AFP Chief of Staff, outstanding members of the Philippine Bar and solid citizens of the community, filed the
present action alleging that respondents Tanodbayan and Sandiganbayan committed serious irregularities constituting mistrial and resulting
in miscarriage of justice and gross violation of the constitutional rights of the petitioners and the sovereign people of the Philippines to due
process of law. They asserted that the Tanodbayan did not represent the interest of the people when he failed to exert genuine and earnest
efforts to present vital and important testimonial and documentary evidence for the prosecution and that the Sandiganbayan Justices were
biased, prejudiced and partial in favor of the accused, and that their acts "clouded with the gravest doubts the sincerity of government to find
out the truth about the Aquino assassination." Petitioners prayed for the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order restraining the
respondent Sandiganbayan from rendering a decision on the merits in the pending criminal cases which it had scheduled on November 20,
1985 and that judgment be rendered declaring a mistrial and nullifying the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan and ordering a re-trial
before an impartial tribunal by an unbiased prosecutor.
10
-a
At the hearing on November 18, 1985 of petitioners' prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order enjoining respondent court from
rendering a decision in the two criminal cases before it, the Court resolved by nine-to-two votes
11
to issue the restraining order prayed for.
The Court also granted petitioners a five-day period to file a reply to respondents' separate comments and respondent Tanodbayan a three-
day period to submit a copy of his 84-page memorandum for the prosecution as filed in the Sandiganbayan, the signature page of
which alone had been submitted to the Court as Annex 5 of his comment.
But ten days later on November 28, 1985, the Court by the same nine-to- two-vote ratio in reverse,
12
resolved to dismiss the petition and to
lift the temporary restraining order issued ten days earlier enjoining the Sandiganbayan from rendering its decision.
13
The same Court
majority denied petitioners' motion for a new 5-day period counted from receipt of respondent Tanodbayan's memorandum for the
prosecution (which apparently was not served on them and which they alleged was "very material to the question of his partiality, bias and
prejudice" within which to file a consolidated reply thereto and to respondents' separate comments, by an eight-to-three vote, with Justice
Gutierrez joining the dissenters.
14

On November 29, 1985, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, alleging that the dismissal did
not indicate the legal ground for such action and urging that the case be set for a full hearing on the
merits because if the charge of partiality and bias against the respondents and suppression of vital
evidence by the prosecution are proven, the petitioners would be entitled to the reliefs demanded:
The People are entitled to due process which requires an impartial tribunal and an unbiased
prosecutor. If the State is deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute and convict because certain
material evidence is suppressed by the prosecution and the tribunal is not impartial, then the entire
proceedings would be null and void. Petitioners prayed that the Sandiganbayan be restrained from
promulgating their decision as scheduled anew on December 2, 1985.
On December 5, 1985, the Court required the respondents to comment on the motion for
reconsideration but issued no restraining order. Thus, on December 2, 1985, as scheduled,
respondent Sandiganbayan issued its decision acquitting all the accused of the crime charged,
declaring them innocent and totally absolving them of any civil liability. This marked another unusual
first in that respondent Sandiganbayan in effect convicted the very victim Rolando Galman (who was
not on trial) as the assassin of Ninoy contrary to the very information and evidence submitted by the
prosecution. In opposition, respondents submitted that with the Sandiganbayan's verdict of acquittal,
the instant case had become moot and academic. On February 4, 1986, the same Court majority
denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration for lack of merit, with the writer and Justice Abad
Santos maintaining our dissent.
On March 20, 1986, petitioners filed their motion to admit their second motion for reconsideration
attached therewith. The thrust of the second motion for reconsideration was the startling and
theretofore unknown revelations of Deputy Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera as reported in the March 6,
1986 issue of the Manila Times entitled "Aquino Trial a Sham," that the then President had ordered
the respondents Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan Bernardo Fernandez and the prosecution panel
headed by Herrera to whitewash the criminal cases against the 26 respondents accused and
produce a verdict of acquittal.
On April 3, 1986, the Court granted the motion to admit the second motion for reconsideration and ordered the respondents to comment
thereon.
15

Respondent Tanodbayan Bernardo Fernandez stated in his Manifestation filed on April 11, 1986 that he had ceased to hold office as
Tanodbayan as of April 8, 1986 when he was replaced by the new Tanodbayan, Raul M. Gonzales, but reiterating his position in his
comment on the petition, he added "relative to the reported alleged revelations of Deputy Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera, herein
respondent never succumbed to any alleged attempts to influence his actuations in the premises, having instead successfully resisted
perceived attempts to exert pressure to drop the case after preliminary investigation, and actually ordered the filing and prosecution of the
two (2) murder cases below against herein private party respondents." He candidly admitted also in his memorandum: "There is not much
that need be said about the existence of pressure. That there were pressures can hardly be denied; in fact, it has never been denied."
15
-
a He submitted that "even as he vehemently denies insinuations of any direct or indirect complicity or participation in any alleged attempt to
supposedly whitewash the cases below, . . . should this Honorable Court find sufficient cause to justify the reopening and retrial of the cases
below, he would welcome such development so that any wrong that had been caused may be righted and so that, at the very least the
actuations of herein respondent in the premises may be reviewed and reexamined, confident as he is that the end will show that he had done
nothing in the premises that violated his trust as Tanodbayan (Ombudsman)." New Tanodbayan Raul M. Gonzales in his comment of April
14, 1986 "interposed no objection to the reopening of the trial of the cases . . . as, in fact, he urged that the said cases be reopened in order
that justice could take its course."
Respondents Justices of the Sandiganbayan First Division in their collective comment of April 9,
1986 stated that the trial of the criminal cases by them was valid and regular and decided on the
basis of evidence presented and the law applicable, but manifested that "if it is true that the former
Tanodbayan and the Deputy Tanodbayan, Chief of the Prosecution Panel, were pressured into
suppressing vital evidence which would probably alter the result of the trial, Answering Respondents
would not interpose any objection to the reopening of those cases, if only to allow justice to take its
course." Respondent Sandiganbayan Justice Bienvenido C. Vera Cruz, in a separate comment,
asserted that he passed no note to anyone; the note being bandied about is not in his handwriting;
he had nothing to do with the writing of the note or of any note of any kind intended for any lawyer of
the defense or even of the prosecution; and requested for an investigation by this Court to settle the
note passing issue once and for all.
Deputy Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera, in his comment of April 14, 1986 affirmed the allegations in the
second motion for reconsideration that he revealed that the Sandiganbayan Justices and
Tanodbayan prosecutors were ordered by Marcos to whitewash the Aquino-Galman murder case.
He amplified his revelations, as follows:
1. AB INITIO, A. VERDICT OF ACQUITTAL!
Incidents during the preliminary investigation showed ominous signs that the fate of
the criminal case on the death of Ex-Senator Benigno Aquino and Rolando Galman
on August 21, 1983 was doomed to an ignominous end. Malacanang wanted
dismissal-to the extent that a prepared resolution was sent to the Investigating Panel
(composed of the undersigned, Fiscals Ernesto Bernabe and Leonardo Tamayo) for
signature. This, of course, was resisted by the panel, and a resolution charging all
the respondents as principals was forwarded to the Tanodbayan on January 10,
1985.
2. MALACAANG CONFERENCE PLANNED SCENARIO OF TRIAL
At 6:00 p.m. of said date (January 10) Mr. Ferdinand E. Marcos (the former
President) summoned to Malacaang Justice Bernardo Fernandez (the
Tanodbayan), Sandiganbayan Justice Manuel Pamaran (the Presiding Justice) and
an the members of the Panel
Also present at the meeting were Justice Manuel Lazaro (the Coordinator) and Mrs.
Imelda R. Marcos, who left earlier, came back and left again. The former President
had a copy of the panel's signed resolution (charging all accused as principals),
evidently furnished him in advance, and with prepared notes on the contents thereof.
The former President started by vehemently maintaining that Galman shot Aquino at
the tarmac. Albeit initially the undersigned argued against the theory, to remain silent
was the more discreet posture when the former President became emotional (he was
quite sick then).
During a good part of the conference, the former President talked about Aquino and
the communists, lambasting the Agrava Board, specially the Legal Panel. Shifting to
the military he rumbled on such statements as: "It will be bloody . . . Gen. Ramos,
though close to me, is getting ambitious and poor Johnny does not know what to do".
. . 'our understanding with Gen. Ramos is that his stint is only temporary, but he is
becoming ambitious "the boys were frantic when they heard that they will be charged
in court, and wig be detained at city jail."
From outright dismissal, the sentiment veered towards a more pragmatic approach.
The former President more or less conceded that for political and legal reasons all
the respondents should be charged in court, Politically, as it will become evident that
the government was serious in pursuing the case towards its logical conclusion, and
thereby ease public demonstrations; on the other hand, legally, it was perceived that
after (not IF) they are acquitted, double jeopardy would inure. The former President
ordered then that the resolution be revised by categorizing the participation of each
respondent.
In the matter of custody of the accused pendente lite the Coordinator was ordered to
get in touch with Gen. Narciso Cabrera, Gen. Vicente Eduardo and Director Jolly
Bugarin to put on record that they had no place in their respective institutions. The
existence of PD No. 1950 (giving custody to commanding officers of members of
AFP charged in court) was never mentioned.
It was decided that the presiding justice (First Division) would personally handle the
trial, and assurance was made by him that it would be finished in four to six months,
pointing out that, with the recent effectivity of the New Rules on Criminal Procedure,
the trial could be expedited.
Towards the end of the two-hour meeting and after the script had been tacitly
mapped out, the former President uttered: "Mag moro-moro na lang kayo."
The parting words of the former President were: "Thank you for your cooperation. I
know how to reciprocate."
While still in the palace grounds on the way out, the undersigned manifested his
desire to the Tanodbayan to resign from the panel, or even the office. This, as well
as other moves to this effect, had always been refused. Hoping that with sufficient
evidence sincerely and efficiently presented by the prosecution, all involves in the
trial would be conscience-pricked and realize the futility and injustice of proceeding in
accordance with the script, the undersigned opted to say on.
Herrera further added details on the "implementation of the script," such as the holding of a "make-
believe raffle" within 18 minutes of the filing of the Informations with the Sandiganbayan at noon of
January 23, 1985, while there were no members of the media; the installation of TV monitors directly
beamed to Malacanang; the installation of a "war room" occupied by the military; attempts to direct
and stifle witnesses for the prosecution; the suppression of the evidence that could be given by U.S.
Airforce men about the "scrambling" of Ninoy's plane; the suppression of rebuttal witnesses and the
bias and partiality of the Sandiganbayan; its cavalier disregard of his plea that it "should not decide
these cases on the merits without first making a final ruling on the Motion for Inhibition;" and the
Presiding Justice's over-kill with the declaration that "the Court finds all accused innocent of the
crimes charged in the two informations, and accordingly, they incur neither criminal nor civil liability,"
adding that "in the almost twenty years that the undersigned has been the prosecutor in the sala of
the Presiding Justice this is the only occasion where civil liability is pronounced in a decision of
acquittal. " He "associated himself with the motion for reconsideration and likewise prayed that the
proceedings in the Sandiganbayan and its decision be declared null and void."
New Solicitor General Sedfrey Ordoez' comment of April 25, 1986 submitted that a declaration of
mistrial will depend on the veracity of the evidence supportive of petitioners' claim of suppression of
evidence and collusion. He submitted that this would require reception of evidence by a Court-
appointed or designated commissioner or body of commissioners (as was done in G.R. No.
71316, Fr. Romano case; and G.R. No. 61016, Morales case; and G.R. No. 70054, Banco
Filipino case); and that if petitioners' claim were substantiated, a reopening of the double murder
case is proper to avoid a miscarriage of justice since the verdict of acquittal would no longer be a
valid basis for a double jeopardy claim.
Respondents-accused opposed the second motion for reconsideration and prayed for its denial.
Respondent Olivas contended that the proper step for the government was to file a direct action to
annul the judgment of acquittal and at a regular trial present its evidence of collusion and pressures.
As a whole, all the other respondents raised the issue of double jeopardy, and invoked that the
issues had become moot and academic because of the rendition of the Sandiganbayan's judgment
of acquittal of all respondents- accused on December 2, 1985, with counsels for respondents Ver
and Tigas, as well as Olivas, further arguing that assuming that the judgment of acquittal is void for
any reason, the remedy is a direct action to annul the judgment where the burden of proof falls upon
the plaintiff to establish by clear, competent and convincing evidence the cause of the nullity.
After Petitioners had filed their consolidated reply, the Court resolved per its resolution of June 5, 1986 to appoint a three-member
commission composed of retired Supreme Court Justice Conrado Vasquez, chairman, and retired Intermediate Appellate Court Justices
Milagros German and Eduardo Caguioa as members, to hear and receive evidence, testimonial and documentary, of the charges of collusion
and pressures and relevant matters, upon prior notice to all parties, and to submit their findings to this Court for proper disposition. The
Commission conducted hearings on 19 days, starting on June 16, 1986 and ending on July 16, 1986, On the said last day, respondents
announced in open hearing that they decided to forego the taking of the projected deposition of former President Marcos, as his testimony
would be merely corroborative of the testimonies of respondents Justice Pamaran and Tanodbayan Fernandez. On July 31, 1986, it
submitted its extensive 64-page Report
16
wherein it discussed fully the evidence received by it and made a recapitulation of its findings in
capsulized form, as follows:
1. The Office of the Tanodbayan, particularly Justice Fernandez and the Special
Investigating Panel composed of Justice Herrera, Fiscal Bernabe and Special
Prosecutor Tamayo, was originally of the view that all of the twenty-six (26)
respondents named in the Agrava Board majority report should all be charged as
principals of the crime of double murder for the death of Senator Benigno Aquino and
Rolando Galman.
2. When Malacanang learned of the impending filing of the said charge before the
Sandiganbayan, the Special Investigating Panel having already prepared a draft
Resolution recommending such course of action, President Marcos summoned
Justice Fernandez, the tree members of the Special Investigating Panel, and justice
Pamaran to a conference in Malacanang in the early evening of January 10, 1985.
3. In said conference, President Marcos initially expressed his disagreement with the
recommendation of the Special Investigating Panel and disputed the findings of the
Agrava Board that it was not Galman who shot Benigno Aquino.
4. Later in the conference, however, President Marcos was convinced of the
advisability of filing the murder charge in court so that, after being acquitted as
planned, the accused may no longer be prosecuted in view of the doctrine of double
jeopardy.
5. Presumably in order to be assured that not all of the accused would be denied bail
during the trial, considering that they would be charged with capital offenses,
President Marcos directed that the several accused be "categorized" so that some of
them would merely be charged as accomplices and accessories.
6. In addition to said directive, President Marcos ordered that the case be handled
personally by Justice Pamaran who should dispose of it in the earliest possible time.
7. The instructions given in the Malacanang conference were followed to the letter;
and compliance therewith manifested itself in several specific instances in the course
of the proceedings, such as, the changing of the resolution of the special
investigating panel, the filing of the case with the Sandiganbayan and its assignment
to Justice Pamaran, suppression of some vital evidence, harassment of witnesses,
recantation of witneses who gave adverse testimony before the Agrava Board,
coaching of defense counsels, the hasty trial, monitoring of proceedings, and even in
the very decision rendered in the case.
8. That that expression of President Marcos' desire as to how he wanted the Aquino-
Galman case to be handled and disposed of constituted sufficient pressure on those
involved in said task to comply with the same in the subsequent course of the
proceedings.
9. That while Justice Pamaran and Justice Fernandez manifested no revulsion
against complying with the Malacaang directive, justice Herrera played his role with
manifestly ambivalent feelings.
10. Sufficient evidence has been ventilated to show a scripted and pre-determined
manner of handling and disposing of the Aquino-Galman murder case, as stage-
managed from Malacaang and performed by willing dramatis personnae as well as
by recalcitrant ones whipped into line by the omnipresent influence of an
authoritarian ruler.
The Commission submitted the following recommendation.
Considering the existence of adequate credible evidence showing that the
prosecution in the Aquino-Galman case and the Justices who tried and decided the
same acted under the compulsion of some pressure which proved to be beyond their
capacity to resist, and which not only prevented the prosecution to fully ventilate its
position and to offer all the evidences which it could have otherwise presented, but
also predetermined the final outcome of the case, the Commission is of the
considered thinking and belief, subject to the better opinion and judgment of this
Honorable Court that the proceedings in the said case have been vitiated by lack of
due process, and hereby respectfully recommends that the prayer in the petition for a
declaration of a mistrial in Sandiganbayan Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011
entitled "People vs. Luther Custodia et al.," be granted.
The Court per its Resolution of July 31, 1986 furnished all the parties with copies of the Report and
required them to submit their objections thereto. It thereafter heard the parties and their objections at
the hearing of August 26, 1986 and the matter was submitted for the Court's resolution.
The Court adopts and approves the Report and its findings and holds on the basis thereof and of the
evidence received and appreciated by the Commission and duly supported by the facts of public
record and knowledge set forth above and hereinafter, that the then President (code named
Olympus) had stage-managed in and from Malacanang Palace "a scripted and pre-determined
manner of handling and disposing of the Aquino-Galman murder case;" and that "the prosecution in
the Aquino Galman case and the Justices who tried and decided the same acted under the
compulsion of some pressure which proved to be beyond their capacity to resist', and which not only
prevented the prosecution to fully ventilate its position and to offer all the evidences which it could
have otherwise presented, but also pre-determined the final outcome of the case" of total absolution
of the twenty-six respondents accused of all criminal and civil liability.
The Court finds that the Commission's Report (incorporated herein by reference) and findings and conclusions are duly substantiated by the
evidence and facts of public record. Composed of distinguished members of proven integrity with a combined total of 141 years of
experience in the practice of law (55 years) and in the prosecutoral and judicial services (86 years in the trial and appellate courts), experts at
sifting the chaff from the grain,
17
the Commission properly appraised the evidences presented and denials made by public respondents,
thus:
The desire of President Marcos to have the Aquino-Galman case disposed of in a
manner suitable to his purposes was quite understandable and was but to be
expected. The case had stirred unprecedented public outcry and wide international
attention. Not invariably, the finger of suspicion pointed to those then in power who
supposedly had the means and the most compelling motive to eliminate Senator
Aquino. A day or so after the assassination, President Marcos came up with a public
statement aired over television that Senator Aquino was killed not by his military
escorts, but by a communist hired gun. It was, therefore, not a source of wonder that
President Marcos would want the case disposed of in a manner consistent with his
announced theory thereof which, at the same time, would clear his name and his
administration of any suspected guilty participation in the assassination.
The calling of the conference was undoubtedly to accomplish this purpose. . . .
President Marcos made no bones to conceal his purpose for calling them. From the
start, he expressed irritation and displeasure at the recommendation of the
investigating panel to charge all of the twenty-six (26) respondents as principals of
the crime of double murder. He insisted that it was Galman who shot Senator
Aquino, and that the findings of the Agrava Board were not supported by evidence
that could stand in court. He discussed and argued with Justice Herrera on this point.
Midway in the course of the discussion, mention was made that the filing of the
charge in court would at least mollify public demands and possibly prevent further
street demonstrations. It was further pointed out that such a procedure would be a
better arrangement because, if the accused are charged in court and subsequently
acquitted, they may claim the benefit of the doctrine of double jeopardy and thereby
avoid another prosecution if some other witnesses shall appear when President
Marcos is no longer in office.
xxx xxx xxx
After an agreement was reached as to filing the case, instead of dismissing it, but
with some of the accused to be charged merely as accomplices or accessories, and
the question of preventive custody of the accused having thereby received
satisfactory solution, President Marcos took up the matter of who would try the case
and how long it would take to be finished.
According to Justice Herrera, President Marcos told Justice Pamaran 'point blank' to
personally handle the case. This was denied by Justice Pamaran. No similar denial
was voiced by Justice Fernandez in the entire course of his two-day
testimony. Justice Pamaran explained that such order could not have been given
inasmuch as it was not yet certain then that the Sandiganbayan would try the case
and, besides, cases therein are assigned by raffle to a division and not to a particular
Justice thereof.
It was preposterous to expect Justice Pamaran to admit having received such
presidential directive. His denial, however, falls to pieces in the light of the fact that
the case was indeed handled by him after being assigned to the division headed by
him. A supposition of mere coincidence is at once dispelled by the circumstance that
he was the only one from the Sandiganbayan called to the Malacanang conference
wherein the said directive was given. . . .
The giving of such directive to Justice Pamaran may also be inferred from his
admission that he gave President Marcos the possible time frame when asked as to
how long it would take him to finish the case.
The testimony of Justice Herrera that, during the conference, and after an agreement
was reached on filing the case and subsequently acquitting the accused, President
Marcos told them "Okay, mag moro-moro na lamang kayo;" and that on their way out
of the room President Marcos expressed his thanks to the group and uttered "I know
how to reciprocate," did not receive any denial or contradiction either on the part of
justice Fernandez or justice Pamaran. (No other person present in the conference
was presented by the respondents. Despite an earlier manifestation by the
respondents of their intention to present Fiscal Bernabe and Prosecutor Tamayo,
such move was abandoned without any reason having been given therefor.)
The facts set forth above are all supported by the evidence on record. In the mind of
the Commission, the only conclusion that may be drawn therefrom is that pressure
from Malacanang had indeed been made to bear on both the court and the
prosecution in the handling and disposition of the Aquino-Galman case. The intensity
of this pressure is readily deductible from the personality of the one who exerted it,
his moral and official ascendancy over those to whom his instructions were directed,
the motivation behind such instructions, and the nature of the government prevailing
at that time which enabled, the then head of state to exercise authoritarian powers.
That the conference called to script or stage-manage the prosecution and trial of the
Aquino-Galman case was considered as something anomalous that should be kept
away from the public eye is shown by the effort to assure its secrecy.None but those
directly involved were caned to attend. The meeting was held in an inner room of the
Palace. Only the First Lady and Presidential Legal Assistant Justice Lazaro were
with the President. The conferees were told to take the back door in going to the
room where the meeting was held, presumably to escape notice by the visitors in the
reception hall waiting to see the President. Actually,no public mention alas ever
made of this conference until Justice Herrera made his expose some fifteen (15)
months later when the former president was no longer around.
President Marcos undoubtedly realized the importance of the matter he wanted to
take up with the officials he asked to be summoned. He had to do it personally, and
not merely through trusted assistants. The lack of will or determination on the part of
Justice Fernandez and Justice Pamaran to resist the presidential summons despite
their realization of its unwholesome implications on their handling of the celebrated
murder case may be easily inferred from their unquestioned obedience thereto. No
effort to resist was made, despite the existence of a most valid reason to beg off, on
the lame excuses that they went there out of "curiosity," or "out of respect to the
Office of the President," or that it would be 'unbecoming to refuse a summons from
the President.' Such frame of mind only reveals their susceptibility to presidential
pressure and lack of capacity to resist the same. The very acts of being summoned
to Malacanang and their ready acquiescence thereto under the circumstances then
obtaining, are in themselves pressure dramatized and exemplified Their abject
deference to President Marcos may likewise be inferred from the admitted fact
that, not having been given seats during the two-hour conference (Justice Fernandez
said it was not that long, but did not say how long) in which President Marcos did the
talking most of the time, they listened to him on their feet. Verily, it can be said
that any avowal of independent action or resistance to presidential pressure became
illusory from the very moment they stepped inside Malacanang Palace on January
10, 1985.18
The Commission pinpointed the crucial factual issue thus: "the more significant inquiry is on whether
the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Tanodbayan actually succumbed to such pressure, as may
be gauged by their subsequent actuations in their respective handling of the case." It duly concluded
that "the pressure exerted by President Marcos in the conference held on January 10,
1985 pervaded the entire proceedings of the Aquino Galman [murder] cases" as manifested in
several specific incidents and instances it enumerated in the Report under the heading of
"Manifestations of Pressure and Manipulation."
Suffice it to give hereinbelow brief excerpts:
1. The changing of the original Herrera panel draft Resolution charging all the twenty-six accused as principals by conspiracy by categorizing
and charging 17 as principals, Generals Ver and Olivas and 6 others as accessories and the civilian as accomplice, and recommending bail
for the latter two categories: "The categorization may not be completely justified by saying that, in the mind of Justice Fernandez, there was
no sufficient evidence to justify that all of the accused be charged as principals. The majority of the Agrava Board found the existence of
conspiracy and recommended that all of the accused be charged accordingly. Without going into the merit of such finding, it may hardly be
disputed that, in case of doubt, and in accordance with the standard practice of the prosecution to charge accused with the most serious
possible offense or in the highest category so as to prevent an incurable injustice in the event that the evidence presented in the trial will
show his guilt of the graver charge, the most logical and practical course of action should have been, as originally recommended by the
Herrera panel, to charge all the accused as principals. As it turned out, Justice Fernandez readily opted for categorization which, not
surprisingly, was in consonance with the Malacaang instruction." It is too much to attribute to coincidence that such unusual categorization
came only after the then President's instruction at Malacanang when Gen. Ver's counsel, Atty. Coronel, had been asking the same of
Tanodbayan Fernandez since November, 1984; and "Justice Fernandez himself, admit(ted) that, as of that time, [the Malacanang conference
on January 10, 1985], his own view was in conformity with that of the Special Investigating Panel to charge all of the twenty-six (26)
respondents as principals of the crime of double murder."
19
As the Commission further noted, "Justice Fernandez never denied the claim of
Justice Herrera that the draft resolution of January 10, 1985 (Exhibit 'B-1') [charging all 26 accused as principals] was to have been the
subject of a press conference on the afternoon of said date which did not go through due to the summons for them to go to Malacanang in
the early evening of said date."
20

2. Suppression of vital evidence and harassment of witnesses:" Realizing, no doubt, that a party's
case is as strong as the evidence it can present, unmistakable and persistent efforts were exerted in
behalf of the accused to weaken the case of the prosecution and thereby assure and justify [the
accused's] eventual scripted acquittal. Unfavorable evidences were sought to be suppressed, and
some were indeed prevented from being ventilated. Adverse witnesses were harassed, cajoled,
perjured or threatened either to refrain from testifying or to testify in a manner favorable to the
defense."
The Report specified the ordeals of the prosecution witnesses:
21
Cesar Loterina, PAL employee, Roberta Masibay, Galman's step-daughter
who recanted their testimonies before the Fact Finding Board and had to be discarded as prosecution witnesses before at the trial.
Witnesses Viesca andRaas who also testified before the Board "disappeared all of a sudden and could not be located by the police. The
Commission narrated the efforts to stifle Kiyoshi Wakamiya eyewitness who accompanied Ninoy on his fateful flight on August 21, 1983 and
described them as "palpable, if crude and display(ing) sheer abuse of power." Wakamiya was not even allowed to return to Manila on August
20, 1984 to participate in the first death anniversary of Ninoy but was deported as an undesirable alien and had to leave on the next plane for
Tokyo. The Board had to go to Tokyo to hear Wakamiya give his testimony before the Japanese police in accordance with their law and
Wakamiya claimed before the Commission that the English transcription of his testimony, as prepared by an official of the Philippine
Embassy in Tokyo, was inaccurate and did not correctly reflect the testimony he gave "although there was no clear showing of the
discrepancy from the original transcription which was in Nippongo. Upon his arrival at the MIA on August 21, 1985 on invitation of Justice
Herrera to testify at the ongoing trial, "a shot was fired and a soldier was seen running away by media men who sought to protect Wakamiya
from harm by surrounding him." Wakamiya was forced by immigration officials to leave the country by Saturday (August 24th)
notwithstanding Herrera's request to let him stay until he could testify the following Monday (August 26th). In the case of principal eyewitness
Rebecca Quijano, the Commission reported that
... Undoubtedly in view of the considerable significance of her proposed testimony
and its unfavorable effect on the cause of the defense, the efforts exerted to
suppress the same was as much as, if not more than those in the case of Wakamiya.
... She recounted that she was in constant fear of her life, having been hunted by
armed men; that their house in Tabaco, Albay was ransacked, her family harassed
by the foreclosure of the mortgage on their house by the local Rural Bank, and
ejected therefrom when she ignored the request of its manager to talk with her about
her proposed testimony; that a certain William Farias offered her plane tickets for a
trip abroad; that Mayor Rudy Farias of Laoag City kept on calling her sister in the
United States to warn her not to testify; that, later, Rudy and William Farias offered
her two million pesos supposedly coming from Bongbong Marcos, a house and lot in
Baguio, the dropping of her estafa case in Hongkong, and the punishment of the
persons responsible for the death of her father, if she would refrain from testifying.
It is a matter of record, however, that despite such cajolery and harassments, or
perhaps because of them, Ms. Quijano eventually testified before the
Sandiganbayan. Justice Herrera was told by justice Fernandez of the displeasure
expressed by Olympus at justice Herrera's going out of his way to make Ms. Quijano
to testify, and for his refusal to honor the invitation to attend the birthday party of the
First Lady on May 1, 1985, as on the eve of Ms. Quijano's testimony on May 2, 1985.
The insiduous attempts to tamper with her testimony, however, did not end with her
taking the witness stand. In the course of her testimony several notes were passed to
Atty. Rodolfo Jimenez, the defense counsel who cross-examined her, one of which
suggested that she be asked more questions about Dean Narvasa who was
suspected of having coached her as to what to declare (Exhibit "D"); and on another
occasion, at a crucial point in her testimony, a power brownout occurred; which
lasted for about twenty minutes, throwing the courtroom into darkness, and making
most of those present to scamper for safety, and Ms. Quijano to pass over the railing
of the rostrum so as to be able to leave the courtroom. It was verified that the
brownout was limited to the building housing the Sandiganbayan, it not having
affected the nearby Manila City Hall and the Finance Building. Justice Herrera
declared that the main switchboard of the Sandiganbayan electrical system was
located beside the room occupied by Malacaang people who were keeping track of
the proceedings.
Atty. Lupino Lazaro for petitioners further made of record at that August 26th hearing that the two
Olivas sisters, Ana and Catherine (hospitality girls) disappeared on September 4, 1984, two weeks
after Ninoy's assassination. And the informant, by the name of Evelyn (also a hospitality girl) who
jotted down the number of the car that took them away, also disappeared. On January 29, 1984,
during the proceedings of the Board, Lina Galman, the common-law wife of Rolando Galman, was
kidnapped together with a neighbor named Rogelio Taruc, They have been missing since then,
despite his attempts to find any of them. According to him, "nobody was looking for these five
persons because they said Marcos was in Power [despite his appeal to the Minister of National
Defense to locate them]. Today, still no one is looking for these people." And he appealed to the new
leadership for its assistance in learning their fate.
3. The discarding of the affidavits executed by U.S. airmen "While it is true that the U.S. airmen's
proposed testimonies would show an attempt of the Philippine Air Force to divert the plane to Basa
Airfield or some other place, such showing would not necessarily contravene the theory of the
prosecution, nor the actual fact that Senator Aquino was killed at the Manila International Airport.
Justice Herrera had accurately pointed out that such attempt of scrambling Aquino's plane
merely showed a 'wider range of conspiracy,' it being possibly just one of two or three other plans
designed to accomplish the same purpose of liquidating Senator Aquino. In any event, even
assuming that the said piece of evidence could go either way, it may not be successfully contended
that it was prudent or wise on the part of the prosecution to totally discard the said piece of evidence.
Despite minor inconsistencies contained therein, its introduction could have helped the cause of the
prosecution. If it were not so, or that it would even favor the defense, as averred by Justice
Fernandez, the determined effort to suppress the same would have been totally uncalled for."
4. Nine proposed rebuttal witnesses not presented.
5. The failure to exhaust available remedies against adverse developments: "When the Supreme
Court denied the petition of Justice Fernandez [against the exclusion of the testimonies given by the
military respondents headed by Gen. Ver before the Fact Finding Board], the latter almost
immediately announced to media that he was not filing a motion for the reconsideration of said
denial for the reason that it would be futile to do so and foolhardy to expect a favorable action on the
same. ... His posture ... is, in the least, indicative that he was living up to the instruction of finishing
the trial of the case as soon as possible, if not of something else."
6. The assignment of the case to Presiding Justice Pamaran: "Justice Herrera testified that President
Marcos ordered Justice Pamaran point-blank to handle the case. The pro-forma denial by Justice
Pamaran of such instruction crumbles under the actuality of such directive having been complied
with to the letter. ...
"Justice Pamaran sought to discredit the claim that he was ordered by President Marcos to handle
the case personally by explaining that cases in the Sandiganbayan are assigned by raffle and not to
a particular Justice, but to a division thereof. The evidence before the Comission on how the case
happened to be assigned to Justice Pamaran evinces a strong indication that such assignment was
not done fairly or regularly.
"There was no evidence at all that the assignment was indeed by virtue of a regular raffle, except the
uncorroborated testimony of Justice Pamaran. ... Despite an announcement that Justice Escareal
would be presented by the respondents to testify on the contents of his aforesaid
Memorandum, such was not done. No reason was given why Justice Escarel could not, or would not
like to testify. Neither was any one of the officials or employees of the Sandiganbayan who,
according to Justice Pamaran, were present during the supposed raffle, presented to corroborate the
claim of Justice
xxx xxx xxx
"It is also an admitted fact that the two Informations in the double murder case were filed by Justice
Herrera on January 23, 1985, at 12:02 p.m., and the members of the Raffle Committee were
summoned at 12:20 p.m. or only 18 minutes after the filing of the two Informations. Such speed in
the actual assignment of the case can truly be categorized as unusual, if not extraordinary,
considering that before a case filed may be included in the raffle, there is need for a certain amount
of paper work to be undertaken. If such preliminary requirements were done in this case within the
limited time available therefor, the charge that the raffle was rushed to avoid the presence of media
people would ring with truth.
What is more intriguing is the fact that although a raffle might have been actually conducted which
resulted in the assignment of the case to the First Division of the Sandiganbayan, the Commission
did not receive any evidence on how or why it was handled personally by Justice Pamaran who
wrote the decision thereof, and not by any one of the two other members of his division. . . .
7. The custody of the accused their confinement in a military camp, instead of in a civilian jail: "When
the question of custody came up after the case was filed in the Sandiganbayan, the latter issued an
order directing the confinement of the accused in the City Jail of Manila. This order was not carried
out in view of the information given by the Warden of the City Jail that there was no space for the
twenty-six accused in said jail. The same information was given when the custody was proposed to
be given to the National Penitentiary in Muntinglupa and to the National Bureau of Investigation. At
that point, the defense came up with Presidential Decree No. 1950A which authorizes the custody of
the accused military personnel with their respective Commanding Officers. Justice Herrera claimed
that the said Presidential Decree was not known even to the Tanodbayan Justice Fernandez who
had to call up the then Minister of Justice Estelito Mendoza to request a copy of the same, and was
given such copy only after sometime. ..."
8. The monitoring of proceedings and developments from Malacaang and by Malacaang
personnel: "There is an uncontradicted evidence that the progress of the proceedings in the
Sandiganbayan as well as the developments of the case outside the Court had been monitored by
Malacaang presumably for it to know what was happening and to take remedial measures as may
be necessary. Justice Pamaran had candidly admitted that television cameras "boldly carrying the
label of 'Office of the President of the Philippines' " were installed in the courtroom for that purpose.
There was a room in the Sandiganbayan, mischievously caned 'war room', wherein military and
Malacaang personnel stayed to keep track of the proceedings." the close monitoring by
Malacaang showed its results on several occasions specified in the Report. Malacaang was
immediately aware of the Japanese witness Wakamiya's presence injustice Herrera's office on
August 21, 1985 and forestalled the giving of his testimony by having the Japanese Embassy advise
Wakamiya to leave the country at once. Likewise, Col. Balbino Diego, Malacaang intelligence chief,
suddenly appeared at the National Bureau of Investigation office when the "crying lady" Rebecca
Quijano was brought there by NBI agents for interrogation and therein sought to obtain custody of
her. "It is likewise an undisputed fact," the Commission noted "that several military personnel
pretended to be deputy sheriffs of the Sandiganbayan and attended the trials thereof in the
prescribed deputy sheriffs' uniforms." The Commission's inescapable finding. " It is abundantly clear
that President Marcos did not only give instructions as to how the case should be handled He saw to
it that he would know if his instructions will be complied with."
9. Partiality of Sandiganbayan betrayed by its decision: "That President Marcos had wanted all of the
twenty-six accused to be acquitted may not be denied. The disposal of the case in said manner is an
integral part of the scenario which was cleverly designed to accomplish two principal objectives,
seemingly conflicting in themselves, but favorable both to then administration and to the accused; to
wit, [1] the satisfaction of the public clamor for the suspected killers of Senator Aquino to be charged
in court, and [2] the foreclosure of any possibility that they may again be prosecuted for the same
offense in the event that President Marcos shall no longer be in power.
"In rendering its decision the Sandiganbayan overdid itself in favoring the presidential
directive. Its bias and partiality in favor of the accused was glaringly obvious. The evidence
presented by the prosecution was totally ignored and disregarded. ... It was deemed not sufficient to
simply acquit all of the twenty-six accused on thestandard ground that their guilt had not been
proven beyond reasonable doubt, as was the most logical and appropriate way of justifying the
acquittal in the case, there not being a total absence of evidence that could show guilt on the part of
the accused. The decision had to pronounce them 'innocent of the crime charged on the two
informations, and accordingly, they incur neither criminal nor civil liability.' It is a rare phenomenon to
see a person accused of a crime to be favored with such total absolution. ...
Doubt on the soundness of the decision entertained by one of the two justices who concurred with
the majority decision penned by Justice Pamaran was revealed by Justice Herrera who testified
that in October, 1985, when the decision was being prepared, Justice Agusto Amores told him that
he was of the view that some of the accused should be convicted he having found difficulty in
acquitting all of them; however, he confided to Justice Herrera that Justice Pamaran made it clear to
him and Justice Vera Cruz that Malacaang had instructions to acquit all of the twenty-six
accused (TSN, July 17, 1986, p. 49). Justice Amores also told Justice Herrera that he would confirm
this statement (which was mentioned in Justice Herrera's comment to the Second Motion for
Reconsideration) if asked about it (TSN, June 19, 1986, pp. 92-93). This testimony Justice Herrera
remained unrebutted " (Emphasis supplied)
The record shows suffocatingly that from beginning to end, the then President used, or more precisely, misused the overwhelming resources
of the government and his authoritarian powers to corrupt and make a mockery of the judicial process in the Aquino-Galman murder cases.
As graphically depicted in the Report, supra, and borne out by the happenings (res ipsa loquitur
22
) since the resolution prepared by his
"Coordinator," Manuel Lazaro, his Presidential Assistant on Legal Affairs, for the Tanodbayan's dismissal of the cases against all accused
was unpalatable (it would summon the demonstrators back to the streets
23
) and at any rate was not acceptable to the Herrera prosecution
panel, the unholy scenario for acquittal of all 26 accused after the rigged trial as ordered at the Malacanang conference, would accomplish
the two principal objectives of satisfaction of the public clamor for the suspected killers to be charged in court and of giving them through their
acquittal the legal shield of double jeopardy.
24

Indeed, the secret Malacanang conference at which the authoritarian President called together the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan
and Tanodbayan Fernandez and the entire prosecution panel headed by Deputy Tanodbayan Herrera and told them how to handle and
rig (moro-moro) the trial and the close monitoring of the entire proceedings to assure the pre-determined ignominious final outcome
are without parallel and precedent in our annals and jurisprudence. To borrow a phrase from Ninoy's April 14, 1975 letter withdrawing his
petition for habeas corpus,
25
"This is the evil of one-man rule at its very worst." Our Penal Code penalizes "any executive officer who shall
address any order or suggestion to any judicial authority with respect to any case or business coming within the exclusive jurisdiction of the
courts of justice."
26
His obsession for "the boys' " acquittal led to severalfirst which would otherwise be inexplicable:
1. He turned his back on and repudiated the findings of the very Fact Finding Board that he himself
appointed to investigate the "national tragedy and national shame" of the "treacherous and vicious
assassination of Ninoy Aquino and "to ventilate the truth through free, independent and
dispassionate investigation by prestigious and free investigators."
2. He cordially received the chairman with her minority report one day ahead of the four majority
members and instantly referred it to respondents "for final resolution through the legal system" as if it
were the majority and controlling report; and rebuked the four majority members when they
presented to him the next day their report calling for the indictment of all 26 respondents headed by
Gens. Ver and Olivas (instead of the lesser seven under the chairman's minority report).
3. From the day after the Aquino assassination to the dictated verdict of acquittal, he totally
disregarded the Board's majority and minority findings of fact and publicly insisted that the military's
"fall guy" Rolando Galman was the killer of Ninoy Aquino and sought futilely to justify the soldiers'
incompetence and gross negligence to provide any security for Ninoy in contrast to their alacrity in
gunning down the alleged assassin Galman and searing his lips.
4. The Sandiganbayan's decision (Pamaran, J. ponente) in effect convicted Rolando Galman as
Ninoy's assassin notwithstanding that he was not on trial but the victim according to the very
information filed, and evidence to the contrary submitted, by the Herrera prosecution panel; and
5. Justice Pamaran's ponencia (despite reservations expressed by Justice Amores who wanted to
convict some of the accused) granted all 26 accused total absolution and pronounced them
"innocent of the crimes charged in the two informations, and accordingly, they incur neither criminal
nor civil liability," notwithstanding the evidence on the basis of which the Fact Finding Board had
unanimously declared the soldiers' version of Galman being Aquino's killer a "perjured story, given
deliberately and in conspiracy with one another."
The fact of the secret Malacaang conference of January 10, 1985 at which the authoritarian
President discussed with the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan and the entire prosecution
panel the matter of the imminent filing of the criminal charges against all the twenty-six accused (as
admitted by respondent Justice Fernandez to have been confirmed by him to the then President's
"Coordinator" Manuel Lazaro on the preceding day) is not denied. It is without precedent. This was
illegal under our penal laws, supra. This illegality vitiated from the very beginning all proceedings in
the Sandiganbayan court headed by the very Presiding Justice who attended. As the Commission
noted: "The very acts of being summoned to Malacaang and their ready acquiescence thereto
under the circumstances then obtaining, are in themselves pressure dramatized and exemplified. ...
Verily, it can be said that any avowal of independent action or resistance to presidential pressure
became illusory from the very moment they stepped inside Malacanang Palace on January 10,
1985."
No court whose Presiding Justice has received "orders or suggestions" from the very President who by an amendatory decree (disclosed
only at the hearing of oral arguments on November 8, 1984 on a petition challenging the referral of the Aquino-Galman murder cases to the
Tanodbayan and Sandiganbayan instead of to a court martial, as mandatory required by the known P.D. 1850 at the time providing for
exclusive jurisdiction of courts martial over criminal offenses committed by military men
26
-a) made it possible to refer the cases to the
Sandiganbayan, can be an impartial court, which is the very essence of due process of law. As the writer then wrote, "jurisdiction over cases
should be determined by law, and not by preselection of the Executive, which could be much too easily transformed into a means
of predetermining the outcome of individual cases.
26
-b "This criminal collusion as to the handling and treatment of the cases by public
respondents at the secret Malacanang conference (and revealed only after fifteen months by Justice Manuel Herrera) completely disqualified
respondent Sandiganbayan and voided ab initio its verdict. This renders moot and irrelevant for now the extensive arguments of respondents
accused, particularly Generals Ver and Olivas and those categorized as accessories, that there has been no evidence or witness suppressed
against them, that the erroneous conclusions of Olivas as police investigator do not make him an accessory of the crimes he investigated
and the appraisal and evaluation of the testimonies of the witnesses presented and suppressed. There will be time and opportunity to
present all these arguments and considerations at the remand and retrial of the cases herein ordered before a neutral and impartial court.
The Supreme Court cannot permit such a sham trial and verdict and travesty of justice to stand
unrectified. The courts of the land under its aegis are courts of law and justice and equity. They
would have no reason to exist if they were allowed to be used as mere tools of injustice, deception
and duplicity to subvert and suppress the truth, instead of repositories of judicial power whose
judges are sworn and committed to render impartial justice to all alike who seek the enforcement or
protection of a right or the prevention or redress of a wrong, without fear or favor and removed from
the pressures of politics and prejudice. More so, in the case at bar where the people and the world
are entitled to know the truth, and the integrity of our judicial system is at stake. In life, as an
accused before the military tribunal, Ninoy had pleaded in vain that as a civilian he was entitled to
due process of law and trial in the regular civil courts before an impartial court with an unbiased
prosecutor. In death, Ninoy, as the victim of the "treacherous and vicious assassination" and the
relatives and sovereign people as the aggrieved parties plead once more for due process of law and
a retrial before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor. The Court is constrained to declare
the sham trial a mock trial the non-trial of the century-and that the pre-determined judgment of
acquittal was unlawful and void ab initio.
1. No double jeopardy.-It is settled doctrine that double jeopardy cannot be invoked against this Court's setting aside of the trial courts'
judgment of dismissal or acquittal where the prosecution which represents the sovereign people in criminal cases is denied due process. As
the Court stressed in the 1985 case of People vs. Bocar,
27

Where the prosecution is deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute and prove its
case its right to due process is thereby violated. 27-a
The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic constitutional rights,
courts are ousted of their jurisdiction. Thus, the violation of the State's right to due
process raises a serious jurisdictional issue (Gumabon vs. Director of the Bureau of
Prisons, L-30026, 37 SCRA 420 [Jan. 30, 1971]which cannot be glossed over or
disregarded at will. Where the denial of the fundamental right of due process is
apparent, a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of jurisdiction
(Aducayen vs. Flores, L-30370 [May 25, 1973], 51 SCRA 78; Shell Co. vs. Enage, L-
30111-12, 49 SCRA 416 [Feb. 27, 1973]). Any judgment or decision rendered
notwithstanding such violation may be regarded as a "lawless thing, which can be
treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever it exhibits its head"
(Aducayen vs. Flores, supra).
Respondent Judge's dismissal order dated July 7, 1967 being null and void for lack
of jurisdiction, the same does not constitute a proper basis for a claim of double
jeopardy (Serino vs. Zosa, supra).
xxx xxx xxx
Legal jeopardy attaches only (a) upon a valid indictment, (b) before a competent
court, (c) after arraignment, (d) a valid plea having been entered; and (e) the case
was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused
(People vs. Ylagan, 58 Phil. 851). The lower court was not competent as it was
ousted of its jurisdiction when it violated the right of the prosecution to due process.
In effect the first jeopardy was never terminated, and the remand of the criminal case
for further hearing and/or trial before the lower courts amounts merely to a
continuation of the first jeopardy, and does not expose the accused to a second
jeopardy.
More so does the rule against the invoking of double jeopardy hold in the cases at bar where as we have held, the sham trial was but a mock
trial where the authoritarian president ordered respondents Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan to rig the trial and closely monitored the entire
proceedings to assure the pre-determined final outcome of acquittal and total absolution as innocent of an the respondents-accused.
Notwithstanding the laudable efforts of Justice Herrera which saw him near the end "deactivating" himself from the case, as it was his belief
that its eventual resolution was already a foregone conclusion, they could not cope with the misuse and abuse of the overwhelming powers
of the authoritarian President to weaken the case of the prosecution, to suppress its evidence, harass, intimidate and threaten its witnesses,
secure their recantation or prevent them from testifying. Fully aware of the prosecution's difficulties in locating witnesses and overcoming
their natural fear and reluctance to appear and testify, respondent Sandiganbayan maintained a "dizzying tempo" of the proceedings and
announced its intention to terminate the proceedings in about 6 months time or less than a year, pursuant to the scripted scenario. The
prosecution complained of "the Presiding Justice's seemingly hostile attitude towards (it)" and their being the subject of warnings, reprimand
and contempt proceedings as compared to the nil situation for the defense. Herrera likewise complained of being "cajoled into producing
witnesses and pressed on making assurances that if given a certain period, they will be able to produce their witnesses Herrera pleaded for
"a reasonable period of preparation of its evidence" and cited other pending cases before respondent court that were pending trial for a much
longer time where the "dizzying tempo" and "fast pace" were not maintained by the court.
28
Manifestly, the prosecution and the sovereign
people were denied due process of law with a partial court and biased Tanodbayan under the constant and pervasive monitoring and
pressure exerted by the authoritarian President to assure the carrying out of his instructions. A dictated, coerced and scripted verdict of
acquittal such as that in the case at bar is a void judgment. In legal contemplation, it is no judgment at all. It neither binds nor bars anyone.
Such a judgment is "a lawless thing which can be treated as an outlaw". It is a terrible and unspeakable affront to the society and the people.
To paraphrase Brandeis:
29
If the authoritarian head of the government becomes the law-breaker, he breeds contempt for the law, he invites
every man to become a law unto himself, he invites anarchy.
Respondents-accused's contention that the Sandiganbayan judgment of acquittal ends the case
which cannot be appealed or re-opened, without being put in double jeopardy was forcefully
disposed of by the Court in People vs. Court of Appeals, which is fully applicable here, as follows:
"That is the general rule and presupposes a valid judgment. As earlier pointed out, however,
respondent Courts' Resolution of acquittal was a void judgment for having been issued without
jurisdiction. No double jeopardy attaches, therefore. A void judgment is, in legal effect, no judgment
at all By it no rights are divested. Through it, no rights can be attained. Being worthless, all
proceedings founded upon it are equally worthless. It neither binds nor bars anyone. All acts
performed under it and all claims flowing out of it are void.
|lang1033 xxx xxx xxx
"Private respondent invoke 'justice for the innocent'. For justice to prevail the scales must balance. It is not to be dispensed for the accused
alone. The interests of the society, which they have wronged must also be equally considered. A judgment of conviction is not necessarily a
denial of justice. A verdict of acquittal neither necessarily spells a triumph of justice. To the party wronged, to the society offended, it could
also mean injustice. This is where the Courts play a vital role. They render justice where justice is due.
30

2. Motion to Disqualify/Inhibit should have been resolved Ahead.-The private prosecutors had filed a
motion to disqualify and for inhibition of respondents Justices of the Sandiganbayan on grounds of
manifest bias and partiality to the defense and arising from then Atty. (now Tanodbayan) Raul M.
Gonzales' charge that Justice Vera-Cruz had been passing coaching notes to defense counsel.
Justice Herrera had joined the motion and pleaded at the hearing of June 25, 1985 and in the
prosecution memorandum that respondent Sandiganbayan "should not decide the case on the
merits without first making a final ruling on the Motion for Inhibition." Herrera quoted the exchange
between him and the Presiding Justice to show the latter's "following the script of Malacanang.
PJ PAMARAN
Well the court believes that we should proceed with the trial and then
deal later on with that. After all, the most important thing here is, shall
we say, the decision of the case.
J. HERRERA
I think more important than the decision of the case, Your Honor, is
the capacity of the justices to sit in judgment. That is more important
than anything else.(p. 13 TSN, June 25, 1985) (Emphasis supplied by
Herrera). 31
But the Sandiganbayan brushed aside Herrera's pleas and then wrongly blamed him, in the decision,
for supposedly not having joined the petition for inhibition, contrary to the facts above-stated, as
follows:
... the motion for inhibition above referred to related exclusively for the contempt
proceeding. Too, it must be remembered that the prosecution neither joined that
petition, nor did it at any time manifest a desire to file a similar motion prior to the
submission of these cases for decision. To do it now is not alone out of season but is
also a confession of official insouciance (Page 22, Decision). 32
The action for prohibition was filed in the Court to seek the disqualification of respondents Justices pursuant to the procedure recognized by
the Court in the 1969 case of Paredes vs. Gopengco
33
since an adverse ruling by respondent court might result in a verdict of acquittal,
leaving the offended party without any remedy nor appeal in view of the double jeopardy rule, not to mention the overiding and
transcendental public interest that would make out a case of denial of due process to the People if the alleged failure on the part of the
Tanodbayan to present the complete evidence for the prosecution is substantiated.
34

In this case, petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the abrupt dismissal of their petition and lifting of the temporary restraining order
enjoining the Sandiganbayan from rendering its decision had been taken cognizance of by the Court which had required the respondents',
including the Sandiganbayan's, comments. Although no restraining order was issued anew, respondent Sandiganbayan should not have
precipitately issued its decision of total absolution of all the accused pending the final action of this Court. This is the teaching of Valdez vs.
Aquilizan
35
, Wherein the court in setting aside the hasty convictions, ruled that "prudence dictated that (respondent judge) refrain from
deciding the cases or at the very least to hold in abeyance the promulgation of his decision pending action by this Court. But prudence gave
way to imprudence; the respondent judge acted precipitately by deciding the cases [hastily without awaiting this Court's action]. All of the acts
of the respondent judge manifest grave abuse of discretion on his part amounting to lack of jurisdiction which substantively prejudiced the
petitioner."
3. Re: Objections of respondents.-The other related objections of respondents' counsels must be
rejected in the face of the Court's declaration that the trial was a mock trial and that the pre-
determined judgment of acquittal was unlawful and void ab initio.
(a) It follows that there is no need to resort to a direct action to annul the judgment, instead of the
present action which was timely filed initially to declare a mistrial and to enjoin the rendition of the
void judgment. And after the hasty rendition of such judgment for the declaration of its nullity,
following the presentation of competent proof heard by the Commission and the Court's findings
therefrom that the proceedings were from the beginning vitiated not only by lack of due process but
also by the collusion between the public respondents (court and Tanodbayan) for the rendition of a
pre-determined verdict of acquitting all the twenty-six respondents-accused.
(b) It is manifest that this does not involve a case of mere irregularities in the conduct of the
proceedings or errors of judgment which do not affect the integrity or validity of the judgment or
verdict.
(c) The contention of one of defense counsel that the State and the sovereign people are not entitled
to due process is clearly erroneous and contrary to the basic principles and jurisprudence cited
hereinabove.
(d) The submittal of respondents-accused that they had not exerted the pressure applied by the
authoritarian president on public respondents and that no evidence was suppressed against them
must be held to be untenable in the wake of the evil plot now exposed for their preordained
wholesale exoneration.
(e) Respondents' invocation of the writer's opinion in Luzon Brokerage Co., Inc. vs. Maritime Bldg. Co., Inc.
36
is inappropriate. The writer
therein held that a party should be entitled to only one Supreme Court and may not speculate on vital changes in the Court's membership for
review of his lost case once more, since public policy and sound practice demand that litigation be put to an end and no second pro
forma motion for reconsideration reiterating the same arguments should be kept pending so long (for over six (6) years and one (1) month
since the denial of the first motion for reconsideration), This opinion cannot be properly invoked, because here, petitioners' second motion for
reconsideration was filed promptly on March 20, 1986 following the denial under date of February 4th of the first motion for reconsideration
and the same was admitted per the Court's Resolution of April 3, 1986 and is now being resolved within five months of its filing after the
Commission had received the evidence of the parties who were heard by the Court only last August 26th. The second motion for
reconsideration is based on an entirely new material ground which was not known at the time of the denial of the petition and filing of the first
motion for reconsideration, i.e, the secret Malacaang conference on January 10, 1985 which came to light only fifteen months later in
March, 1986 and showed beyond per adventure (as proved in the Commission hearings) the merits of the petition and that the authoritarian
president had dictated and pre-determined the final outcome of acquittal. Hence, the ten members of the Court (without any new appointees)
unanimously voted to admit the second motion for reconsideration.
37

4. With the declaration of nullity of the proceedings, the cases must now be tried before an impartial
court with an unbiased prosecutor.-There has been the long dark night of authoritarian regime, since
the fake ambush in September, 1972 of then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile (as now
admitted by Enrile himself was staged to trigger the imposition of martial law and authoritarian one-
man rule, with the padlocking of Congress and the abolition of the office of the Vice-President.
As recently retired Senior Justice Vicente Abad Santos recalled in his valedictory to the new
members of the Bar last May, "In the past few years, the judiciary was under heavy attack by an
extremely powerful executive. During this state of judicial siege, lawyers both in and outside the
judiciary perceptively surrendered to the animus of technicality. In the end, morality was
overwhelmed by technicality, so that the latter emerged ugly and naked in its true manifestation."
Now that the light is emerging, the Supreme Court faces the task of restoring public faith and
confidence in the courts. The Supreme Court enjoys neither the power of the sword nor of the purse.
Its strength lies mainly in public confidence, based on the truth and moral force of its judgments. This
has been built on its cherished traditions of objectivity and impartiallity integrity and fairness and
unswerving loyalty to the Constitution and the rule of law which compels acceptance as well by the
leadership as by the people. The lower courts draw their bearings from the Supreme Court. With this
Court's judgment today declaring the nullity of the questioned judgment or acquittal and directing a
new trial, there must be a rejection of the temptation of becoming instruments of injustice as
vigorously as we rejected becoming its victims. The end of one form of injustice should not become
simply the beginning of another. This simply means that the respondents accused must now face
trial for the crimes charged against them before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor with
all due process. What the past regime had denied the people and the aggrieved parties in the sham
trial must now be assured as much to the accused as to the aggrieved parties. The people will
assuredly have a way of knowing when justice has prevailed as well as when it has failed.
The notion nurtured under the past regime that those appointed to public office owe their primary
allegiance to the appointing authority and are accountable to him alone and not to the people or the
Constitution must be discarded. The function of the appointing authority with the mandate of the
people, under our system of government, is to fill the public posts. While the appointee may
acknowledge with gratitude the opportunity thus given of rendering public service, the appointing
authority becomes functus officio and the primary loyalty of the appointed must be rendered to the
Constitution and the sovereign people in accordance with his sacred oath of office. To paraphrase
the late Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, the Justices and judges must
ever realize that they have no constituency, serve no majority nor minority but serve only the public
interest as they see it in accordance with their oath of office, guided only, the Constitution and their
own conscience and honor.
5. Note of Commendation.- The Court expresses its appreciation with thanks for the invaluable
services rendered by the Commission composed of retired Supreme Court Justice Conrado M.
Vasquez, chairman, and retired Court of Appeals Justices Milagros German and Eduardo Caguioa
as members. In the pure spirit of public service, they rendered selflessly and without remuneration
thorough competent and dedicated service in discharging their tasks of hearing and receiving the
evidence, evaluating the same and submitting their Report and findings to the Court within the
scheduled period and greatly easing the Court's burden.
ACCORDINGLY, petitioners' second motion for reconsideration is granted. The resolutions of
November 28, 1985 dismissing the petition and of February 4, 1986 denying petitioners' motion for
reconsideration are hereby set aside and in lieu thereof, judgment is hereby rendered nullifying the
proceedings in respondent Sandiganbayan and its judgment of acquittal in Criminal Cases Nos.
10010 and 10011 entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Gen. Luther Custodia et al." and ordering a
re-trial of the said cases which should be conducted with deliberate dispatch and with careful regard
for the requirements of due process, so that the truth may be finally known and justice done to an
This resolution is immediately executory. SO ORDERED.
Yap, Cruz, Paras and Feliciano, JJ., concur.
Feria, **** Fernan and Narvasa , ***** JJ., took no part.


Separate Opinions

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J ., concurring:
Consistent with what I had perceived as the need to establish the truth behind the vicious
assassination of the late Senator Benigno Aquino, as expressed in my dissenting opinion in Galman
vs. Pamaran (138 SCRA 294, 379 [1985]), and so that justice may be done, I vote for the re-trial
prayed for by petitioners.
There is reason to believe that some vital evidence had been suppressed by the prosecution, or that
it had disregarded, as immaterial or irrelevant, evidence which, if presented, could affect the
outcome of the case. As it is, the prosecution failed to fully ventilate its position and to lay out before
respondent Court all the pertinent facts which could have helped that Court in arriving at a just
decision. It had, thus, failed in its task.
A public prosecutor is 'the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy,
but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its
obligation to govern at all and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is
not that it shag win a case but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar
and every definite sense the servant of the law, the two-fold aim of which is that guilt
shall not escape or innocence suffer. [Emphasis supplied] (Suarez vs. Platon, 69
Phil. 556 [1940])
He owes the state, the court and the accused the duty to lay before the court the
pertinent facts at his disposal with methodical and meticulous attention, clarifying
contradictions and filling up gaps and loopholes in his evidence to the end that the
court's mind may not be tortured by doubts, the innocent may not suffer, and the
guilty may not escape unpunished (People vs. Esquivel, 82 PhiL 453 [1948]).
Respondent Court, in showing partiality for the accused from beginning to end, from the raffle of the
subject cases to the promulgation of judgment, which absolved the accused, en masse, from any
and an liability, is equally culpable for miscarriage of justice. Due process of law, which "requires a
hearing before an impartial and disinterested tribunal" and the right of every litigant to "nothing less
than the cold neutrality of an impartial Judge" (Gutierrez vs. Santos, 112 Phil. 184 [1961]; Castillo vs.
Juan, 62 SCRA 124 [1975]), was violated.
The proceedings below, having been vitiated by lack of due process, to the detriment of the State
and the People, were invalid and the judgment rendered null and void ab initio. There having been
no trial at all in contemplation of law, there is likewise no judgment on which a plea of double
jeopardy may be based. "To entitle the accused to the plea of former jeopardy the proceedings must
have been valid (State vs. Bartlett, 164 N.W., 757; State vs. O'Day 185 So. 290). The lack of any
fundamental requisite which would render void the judgment would make ineffective a plea of
jeopardy based on such proceedings (Steen vs. State, 242 S.W. 1047).
The accused, however, argue that double jeopardy attaches for, even assuming without conceding,
that pressure and collusion did take place, they were not a party to the same; and, for those who
were charged only either as accomplices or accessories, they contend that their alleged offense
involved only a cover-up in the investigation of the crimes so that, whatever pressure was exerted
could only have benefited the principals, consequently, to subject them to a re-trial is to put them
twice in jeopardy.
It is true that where an accused was not a party to the fraud, a conviction secured fraudulently by the
State's officer cannot be avoided by the state (State vs. Heflin, 96 So. 459, 19 Ala. App. 222).
However, that exception is inapplicable to the cases at bar where both the prosecution and the Trial
Court itself were parties to the fraud and collusion. Nor can it be said that the accused were not a
part thereof. The agreement to file the murder charge in Court so that, after being acquitted as
planned, the accused could no longer be prosecuted under the doctrine of double jeopardy; the
"categorization" of the accused into principals, accomplices and accessories so that not all of them
would be denied bail during the trial, were fraudulently conceived for their benefit and for the
purpose of protecting them from subsequent prosecution. It is, thus, no bar to a subsequent
prosecution for the same offense (Coumas vs. Superior Court, 192 P. 2d. 449, 452, 31 C. 2d. 682).
"A verdict of acquittal procured by the accused by fraud and collusion is a nullity and does not put
him in jeopardy; and consequently, it is no bar to a second trial for the same offense (State vs. Lee,
30A. 1110, 65 Conn. 265,48 Am. S.R. 202,27 L. RA. 498).
The proceedings below having been fatally flawed by pressure, fraud and collusion, with the legal
consequence that there was no trial and judgment to speak of, and under the circumstances peculiar
only to these cases, I vte for a re-trial in the interest of truth and the ends of public justice. As in all
criminal proceedings, however, the accused must be guaranteed a fair, speedy, and impartial re-trial
before an unbiased Tribunal and prosecutor and, I might add, safeguarded against trial by publicity.
ALAMPAY, J ., concurring:
Considering that certain significant facts and circumstances not previously disclosed to the Court
were found by the Commission constituted by this Court, purposely to inquire and ascertain the
veracity of the same, to be duly established by sufficient evidence and are indicative of "a scripted
and pre-determined manner of handling and disposing of the Aquino-Galman murder case ...;" and
that there exists "adequate credible evidence showing that the prosecution in the Aquino-Galman
case and the Justices who tried and decided the same acted under the compulsion of some
pressure which proved to be beyond their capacity to resist and which not only prevented the
prosecution to fully ventilate its position and to offer all the evidences it could have otherwise
presented, but also pre-determined the outcome of the case; ..." I join in granting petitioners' second
motion for reconsideration.
In my considered view, the ends of Justice will be best served by allowing the trial anew of the
subject cases in order to ultimately obtain a judgment that will be removed from any suspicion of
attendant irregularities. With the greatest significance being given by our people to the said cases,
which are evidently of historical importance, I am readily persuaded that it is to our national interest
that all relevant evidence that may be now available be provided an opportunity to be received and
made known so that whatever is the actual truth can be rightfully ascertained. I, therefore, vote for a
declaration of mistrial and for nullifying the proceedings of the referred Criminal Cases Nos. 10010
and 10011 before the Sandiganbayan and the ordering of are trial.
GUTIERREZ, J R., J. concurring:
On November 28, 1985, this Court dismissed the petition for certiorari and prohibition with
preliminary injunction and lifted a Temporary Restraining Order earlier granted. We are now acting
on a motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners.
When the Court initially dismissed the petition, I issued a separate concurring and dissenting
opinion. The issues before us were novel and momentous. I felt that in immediately dismissing the
petition, we were denying the petitioners every reasonable opportunity to prove their allegations of
non-independent and biased conduct of both the prosecution and the trial court. I stated that the
issues of miscarriage of justice and due process arising from that conduct should be allowed more
extended treatment. With then Associate Justices Claudio Teehankee and Vicente Abad Santos, I,
therefore, dissented from the Court's resolution denying the petitioners' motions to continue
presenting their case.
Since the majority of the Court, however, had decided to resolve the petition on its merits and the
findings of the Vasquez Commission were still for the future, I concurred in the result of this Court's
action on two grounds-(1) the right of the accused to speedy trial and (2) the presumption in law that
judicial acts are regularly performed and that public officers have discharged their duties in
accordance with law.
The findings of the Vasquez Commission now confirm my initial misgivings and more than overcome
the presumption of regular performance of official duty upon which I based my concurrence.
What were some of these misgivings now given substance by the investigation?
Mistrial is usually raised by the accused. In this petition neither the accused nor the prosecution saw
anything wrong in the proceedings. We had the unusual phenomenon of the relatives of one victim,
prominent lawyers and law professors, and retired Justices assuming the uncommon role of alleging
not only a biased Sandiganbayan but also a Tanodbayan holding back its own evidence. Instead of
allowing the heated passions and emotions generated by the Aquino assassination to cool off or die
down, the accused insisted on the immediate rendition of a decision.
The Sandiganbayan is usually sober and respectful in its relations with the Supreme Court. I,
therefore, found it strange and unfortunate why, in its Comment, the Sandiganbayan should question
our authority to look into the exercise of its jurisdiction. There was the further matter of television
cameras during trial, their effect on the witnesses and the judges, and other mischievous
potentialities.
The report of the Vasquez Comission now shows that there was more to these misgivings and
suspicions than appeared in the records at that time. The Court's opinion penned by the Chief
Justice states in detail why the Sandiganbayan was not an impartial tribunal and the Tanodbayan
not an unbiased prosecutor.
The right against double jeopardy is intended to protect against repeated litigations and continuous
harassment of a person who has already undergone the agony of prosecution and trial for one and
the same offense. It certainly was never intended to cover a situation where the prosecution
suppresses some of its own evidence, where the accused correctly and eagerly anticipate a
judgment of acquittal, and where the court appears to have made up its mind even before trial has
started.
Under the circumstances found by the Vasquez Commission, there was a failure of trial tantamount
to no trial at all. A "moro-moro" could not possibly result in a just or valid decision.
I am, however, constrained to write this separate opinion to emphasize a concern of this Court and
of an Filipinos who want genuine justice to be realized in this case.
In the same way that we deplore the pressures and partiality which led to the judgment of acquittal
we must insure that absolutely no indication of bias, pre-judgment, or vindictiveness shall taint the
retrial of this case. The fairly strong language used by the Court in its main opinion underscores the
gravity with which it views the travesties of justice in this "trial of the century." At the same time,
nothing expressed in our opinion should be interpreted as the Supreme Court's making a factual
finding, one way or another, about the perpetrators of the Aquino or the Galman killing. Any
statements about the circumstances of the assassination or about the military version of the killings
are intended solely for one issue whether or not the Sandiganbayan acquittals should be set aside
and a retrial ordered.
Neither our final resolution of this petition, the stature of the persons involved, pakikisama, utang na
loob for an appointment or reappointment, or any other extraneous matters should color or influence
the future course of this case.
Needless to say, any person who, in the past, may have formally expressed opinions about the
innocence or guilt of the accused should be neither a prosecutor or judge in any forthcoming trial. It
is not enough for the future proceedings to be fair they should be above any suspicion of partiality,
bias, rancor, or vindictiveness. It would be unfortunate if, in the conduct of further proceedings in this
case, erroneous impressions may arise that a prosecutor or judge has prejudged the guilt or
innocence of any accused. Having just declared a mistrial, we should not again declare the retrial as
another mistrial, ad infinitum.
For the reasons abovestated, I concur in the decision of the Court to grant the petitioners' second
motion for reconsideration.
Feliciano, J., concurs in his statements in the last three paragraphs (prior to the dispositive
paragraph) of his Separate Concurring Opinion.


Separate Opinions
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J ., concurring:
Consistent with what I had perceived as the need to establish the truth behind the vicious
assassination of the late Senator Benigno Aquino, as expressed in my dissenting opinion in Galman
vs. Pamaran (138 SCRA 294, 379 [1985]), and so that justice may be done, I vote for the re-trial
prayed for by petitioners.
There is reason to believe that some vital evidence had been suppressed by the prosecution, or that
it had disregarded, as immaterial or irrelevant, evidence which, if presented, could affect the
outcome of the case. As it is, the prosecution failed to fully ventilate its position and to lay out before
respondent Court all the pertinent facts which could have helped that Court in arriving at a just
decision. It had, thus, failed in its task.
A public prosecutor is 'the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy,
but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its
obligation to govern at all and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is
not that it shag win a case but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar
and every definite sense the servant of the law, the two-fold aim of which is that guilt
shall not escape or innocence suffer. [Emphasis supplied] (Suarez vs. Platon, 69
Phil. 556 [1940])
He owes the state, the court and the accused the duty to lay before the court the
pertinent facts at his disposal with methodical and meticulous attention, clarifying
contradictions and filling up gaps and loopholes in his evidence to the end that the
court's mind may not be tortured by doubts, the innocent may not suffer, and the
guilty may not escape unpunished (People vs. Esquivel, 82 PhiL 453 [1948]).
Respondent Court, in showing partiality for the accused from beginning to end, from the raffle of the
subject cases to the promulgation of judgment, which absolved the accused, en masse, from any
and an liability, is equally culpable for miscarriage of justice. Due process of law, which "requires a
hearing before an impartial and disinterested tribunal" and the right of every litigant to "nothing less
than the cold neutrality of an impartial Judge" (Gutierrez vs. Santos, 112 Phil. 184 [1961]; Castillo vs.
Juan, 62 SCRA 124 [1975]), was violated.
The proceedings below, having been vitiated by lack of due process, to the detriment of the State
and the People, were invalid and the judgment rendered null and void ab initio. There having been
no trial at all in contemplation of law, there is likewise no judgment on which a plea of double
jeopardy may be based. "To entitle the accused to the plea of former jeopardy the proceedings must
have been valid (State vs. Bartlett, 164 N.W., 757; State vs. O'Day 185 So. 290). The lack of any
fundamental requisite which would render void the judgment would make ineffective a plea of
jeopardy based on such proceedings (Steen vs. State, 242 S.W. 1047).
The accused, however, argue that double jeopardy attaches for, even assuming without conceding,
that pressure and collusion did take place, they were not a party to the same; and, for those who
were charged only either as accomplices or accessories, they contend that their alleged offense
involved only a cover-up in the investigation of the crimes so that, whatever pressure was exerted
could only have benefited the principals, consequently, to subject them to a re-trial is to put them
twice in jeopardy.
It is true that where an accused was not a party to the fraud, a conviction secured fraudulently by the
State's officer cannot be avoided by the state (State vs. Heflin, 96 So. 459, 19 Ala. App. 222).
However, that exception is inapplicable to the cases at bar where both the prosecution and the Trial
Court itself were parties to the fraud and collusion. Nor can it be said that the accused were not a
part thereof. The agreement to file the murder charge in Court so that, after being acquitted as
planned, the accused could no longer be prosecuted under the doctrine of double jeopardy; the
"categorization" of the accused into principals, accomplices and accessories so that not all of them
would be denied bail during the trial, were fraudulently conceived for their benefit and for the
purpose of protecting them from subsequent prosecution. It is, thus, no bar to a subsequent
prosecution for the same offense (Coumas vs. Superior Court, 192 P. 2d. 449, 452, 31 C. 2d. 682).
"A verdict of acquittal procured by the accused by fraud and collusion is a nullity and does not put
him in jeopardy; and consequently, it is no bar to a second trial for the same offense (State vs. Lee,
30A. 1110, 65 Conn. 265,48 Am. S.R. 202,27 L. RA. 498).
The proceedings below having been fatally flawed by pressure, fraud and collusion, with the legal
consequence that there was no trial and judgment to speak of, and under the circumstances peculiar
only to these cases, I vote for a re-trial in the interest of truth and the ends of public justice. As in all
criminal proceedings, however, the accused must be guaranteed a fair, speedy, and impartial re-trial
before an unbiased Tribunal and prosecutor and, I might add, safeguarded against trial by publicity.
ALAMPAY, J ., concurring:
Considering that certain significant facts and circumstances not previously disclosed to the Court
were found by the Commission constituted by this Court, purposely to inquire and ascertain the
veracity of the same, to be duly established by sufficient evidence and are indicative of "a scripted
and pre-determined manner of handling and disposing of the Aquino-Galman murder case ...;" and
that there exists "adequate credible evidence showing that the prosecution in the Aquino-Galman
case and the Justices who tried and decided the same acted under the compulsion of some
pressure which proved to be beyond their capacity to resist and which not only prevented the
prosecution to fully ventilate its position and to offer all the evidences it could have otherwise
presented, but also pre-determined the outcome of the case; ..." I join in granting petitioners' second
motion for reconsideration.
In my considered view, the ends of Justice will be best served by allowing the trial anew of the
subject cases in order to ultimately obtain a judgment that will be removed from any suspicion of
attendant irregularities. With the greatest significance being given by our people to the said cases,
which are evidently of historical importance, I am readily persuaded that it is to our national interest
that all relevant evidence that may be now available be provided an opportunity to be received and
made known so that whatever is the actual truth can be rightfully ascertained. I, therefore, vote for a
declaration of mistrial and for nullifying the proceedings of the referred Criminal Cases Nos. 10010
and 10011 before the Sandiganbayan and the ordering of are trial.
GUTIERREZ, J R., J. concurring::
On November 28, 1985, this Court dismissed the petition for certiorari and prohibition with
preliminary injunction and lifted a Temporary Restraining Order earlier granted. We are now acting
on a motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners.
When the Court initially dismissed the petition, I issued a separate concurring and dissenting
opinion. The issues before us were novel and momentous. I felt that in immediately dismissing the
petition, we were denying the petitioners every reasonable opportunity to prove their allegations of
non-independent and biased conduct of both the prosecution and the trial court. I stated that the
issues of miscarriage of justice and due process arising from that conduct should be allowed more
extended treatment. With then Associate Justices Claudio Teehankee and Vicente Abad Santos, I,
therefore, dissented from the Court's resolution denying the petitioners' motions to continue
presenting their case.
Since the majority of the Court, however, had decided to resolve the petition on its merits and the
findings of the Vasquez Commission were still for the future, I concurred in the result of this Court's
action on two grounds-(1) the right of the accused to speedy trial and (2) the presumption in law that
judicial acts are regularly performed and that public officers have discharged their duties in
accordance with law.
The findings of the Vasquez Commission now confirm my initial misgivings and more than overcome
the presumption of regular performance of official duty upon which I based my concurrence.
What were some of these misgivings now given substance by the investigation?
Mistrial is usually raised by the accused. In this petition neither the accused nor the prosecution saw
anything wrong in the proceedings. We had the unusual phenomenon of the relatives of one victim,
prominent lawyers and law professors, and retired Justices assuming the uncommon role of alleging
not only a biased Sandiganbayan but also a Tanodbayan holding back its own evidence. Instead of
allowing the heated passions and emotions generated by the Aquino assassination to cool off or die
down, the accused insisted on the immediate rendition of a decision.
The Sandiganbayan is usually sober and respectful in its relations with the Supreme Court. I,
therefore, found it strange and unfortunate why, in its Comment, the Sandiganbayan should question
our authority to look into the exercise of its jurisdiction. There was the further matter of television
cameras during trial, their effect on the witnesses and the judges, and other mischievous
potentialities.
The report of the Vasquez Comission now shows that there was more to these misgivings and
suspicions than appeared in the records at that time. The Court's opinion penned by the Chief
Justice states in detail why the Sandiganbayan was not an impartial tribunal and the Tanodbayan
not an unbiased prosecutor.
The right against double jeopardy is intended to protect against repeated litigations and continuous
harassment of a person who has already undergone the agony of prosecution and trial for one and
the same offense. It certainly was never intended to cover a situation where the prosecution
suppresses some of its own evidence, where the accused correctly and eagerly anticipate a
judgment of acquittal, and where the court appears to have made up its mind even before trial has
started.
Under the circumstances found by the Vasquez Commission, there was a failure of trial tantamount
to no trial at all. A "moro-moro" could not possibly result in a just or valid decision.
I am, however, constrained to write this separate opinion to emphasize a concern of this Court and
of an Filipinos who want genuine justice to be realized in this case.
In the same way that we deplore the pressures and partiality which led to the judgment of acquittal
we must insure that absolutely no indication of bias, pre-judgment, or vindictiveness shall taint the
retrial of this case. The fairly strong language used by the Court in its main opinion underscores the
gravity with which it views the travesties of justice in this "trial of the century." At the same time,
nothing expressed in our opinion should be interpreted as the Supreme Court's making a factual
finding, one way or another, about the perpetrators of the Aquino or the Galman killing. Any
statements about the circumstances of the assassination or about the military version of the killings
are intended solely for one issue whether or not the Sandiganbayan acquittals should be set aside
and a retrial ordered.
Neither our final resolution of this petition, the stature of the persons involved, pakikisama, utang na
loob for an appointment or reappointment, or any other extraneous matters should color or influence
the future course of this case.
Needless to say, any person who, in the past, may have formally expressed opinions about the
innocence or guilt of the accused should be neither a prosecutor or judge in any forthcoming trial. It
is not enough for the future proceedings to be fair they should be above any suspicion of partiality,
bias, rancor, or vindictiveness. It would be unfortunate if, in the conduct of further proceedings in this
case, erroneous impressions may arise that a prosecutor or judge has prejudged the guilt or
innocence of any accused. Having just declared a mistrial, we should not again declare the retrial as
another mistrial, ad infinitum.
For the reasons abovestated, I concur in the decision of the Court to grant the petitioners' second
motion for reconsideration.















Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
Adm. Matter No. MTJ-87-123 June 27, 1988
MERCEDITA G. LORENZO, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE PRIMO L. MARQUEZ, respondent.
Adm. Matter No. MTJ-88-141 June 27, 1988
NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE PRIMO L. MARQUEZ, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N

PER CURIAM:
In a sworn statement dated October 11, 1987 executed by Mercedita G. Lorenzo and in an
indorsement of December 2, 1987 of the Chief State Prosecutor transmitting the report of the
National Bureau of Investigation dated November 5, 1987, the herein respondent Judge Primo L.
Marquez of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Sariaya, Quezon is charged on three counts, namely:
(1) harassment in failing to indorse the reappointment of complainant Mercedita G. Lorenzo as
Municipal Trial Court Aide; (2) for violation of Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court in deciding
Civil Case No. 1202 entitled Kilusang Bayan Pampananalapi ng Sariaya vs. Gilda Balid, et al., when
he was the former counsel of the plaintiff; and (3) for issuing a subpoena for the appearance of Jose
D. Obosa, a prison inmate of the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) to appear before him when said
person has no case pending before him nor is he a witness in any pending case therein.
The respondent was required to file an answer to said complaint and after his answer was filed a
formal investigation was conducted by the Deputy Court Administrator, Meynardo A. Tiro, by
authority of the Court, wherein evidence was adduced by the complainant and respondent. On May
27, 1988, said official submitted his report and recommendation to the Court.
On the first charge of harassment, the respondent explained that he did not recommend the
reappointment of complainant Mercedita G. Lorenzo because she was inefficient. Such reluctance of
the respondent must be because she was a protegee of the respondent's predecessor, former Judge
Jose Parentela, Jr., who reportedly exposed the illegal issuance of the subpoena to Obosa by the
respondent. Nevertheless, it is the privilege of the respondent as presiding judge of his court to
recommend the employee with whom he will work. If he did not choose to have said complainant
reappointed, he cannot thereby be held administratively liable.
Under the second charge, there is no question that the respondent was the counsel for the plaintiff in
Civil Case No. 1202 entitled "Kilusang Bayan Pampananalapi ng Sariaya (KBPS) vs. Gilda Balid, et
al." filed in the Municipal Trial Court of Sariaya, Quezon. The complaint was filed by Crisostomo L.
Luna, president and board chairman of the plaintiff, who is his uncle.
1
The respondent was then a
member of the board of directors of the plaintiff.
2
In an order of November 28, 1986, Judge
Parentela declared defendants in default for failure to file their answer. When the respondent
assumed office he issued an order on February 10, 1987 requiring plaintiff to secure the services of
another counsel in his place and he set the case for hearing. On March 9, 1987, he issued an order
considering the case submitted for decision. on April 2, 1987, he rendered a decision favorable to
the plaintiff, the dispositive part of which reads as follows:
Judgement is hereby rendered in favor of the above-named plaintiff and against the
above-named defendants, whereby defendants are hereby directed to pay jointly and
severally plaintiff the following, to wit:
1. Principal amount of P4,676.00 plus one (1%) percent interest on the unpaid
balance and the two (2%) percent penalty interest per month until the entire
obligation is fully paid
2. Attorney's fees equivalent to ten (10%) percent the total amount due and
collectible, plus litigation expenses in the amount of P460.00 and cost of suit,
An appeal therefrom was interposed by the defendants to the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City.
Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court provides as follows:
Section 1. Disqualification of judges. No judge or judicial officer shall sit in any
case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily. interested as heir, legatee,
creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to either party within the sixth degree
of consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree computed
according to the rules of the civil law, or in which he has been executor,
administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has presided in any
inferior court when his ruling or decision is the subject of review, without the written
consent of all parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the record.
A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in
a case, for just or valid reasons other than those mentioned above.
From the foregoing provision of the rules, a judge cannot sit in any case in which he was a counsel
without the written consent of all the parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the record.
The respondent alleged that since there was no objection from any of the parties, he proceeded to
preside over the case and to decide it. This is a clear violation of the law. The rule is explicit that he
must secure the written consent of all the parties, not a mere verbal consent much. less a tacit
acquiescence. More than this, said written consent must be signed by them and entered upon the
record.
The failure of the respondent to observe these elementary rules of conduct betrays his unusual
personal interest in the case which prevailed over and above his sworn duty to administer the law
impartially and without any fear or favor.
The third charge is even more serious. The record of Criminal Case No. 8924, entitled "People of the
Philippines vs. Cesar Salamat" for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, shows that on July 24, 1987, the
respondent issued a subpoena, addressed to prison inmate Jose Obosa, who was then a convict in
the NBP at Muntinlupa, Rizal, requiring him to appear before his court on July 27, 28 and 29, 1987 at
8:30 A.M. and then and there to testify in the above entitled case. There is a notation at the top
thereof "For Conference.
3

On August 18, 1987, the respondent issued an order and on the basis thereof issued another
subpoena for Obosa to appear for a conference on August 28, 1987 at 8:30 A.M.
4
There was no
reason for respondent to subpoena Obosa to testify in said case as the accused had not yet been
arrested and thus the case could not be set for hearing.
Respondent, however, explained that the reason he subpoenaed Obosa was due to his interest in
having the accused Salamat arrested as he was still at large. He stated that during one of his
speaking engagements in San Narciso, Quezon, he met a certain Rivera who told him that Obosa
was a friend of Salamat who may be able to tell the respondent about the whereabouts of Salamat.
Respondent added that it was the complainant Maximino Torres who requested the issuance of
said subpoena for Obosa.
Torres, however, testified that he did not know Obosa and that it was the respondent who drafted a
letter dated August 14, 1987 and caused him to sign the same by going to his house, nine kilometers
away from the courtroom. The said letter-request was made long after the first subpoena was issued
by respondent on July 24, 1987. This discrepancy reveals the questionable motive of the
respondent.
Because of the subpoena issued by the respondent, Obosa appeared at past 12:00 noon on July 28,
1987 in the house of the respondent at Sariaya, Quezon, not in the courtroom, with two prison
escorts and yet the respondent did not ask him about the whereabouts of Salamat. Respondent
stated Obosa was to appear before him in court but there was no court hearing as yet as the
accused had not been apprehended.
Again, on July 29, 1987, Obosa appeared in his house at past noon but likewise respondent did not
inquire about the whereabouts of Salamat. The excuse of the respondent is that was the time he had
to bring his sick daughter to the hospital.
Atty. Salvador Ranin, the agent of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) who investigated the
case, testified that from July 28, 1987, up to August 2, 1987, Obosa did not return to his quarters at
the NBP although there was an entry in the logbook of the NBP that Obosa returned to his quarters
allegedly on August 2, 1987 at 2:10 in the afternoon. The well publicized murder of Local
Government Secretary Jaime Ferrer occurred at 6:45 P.M. of the same day. Ranin stated that during
the incident, three (3) school children saw a man with a gun running towards La Huerta, Paranaque.
Incidentally, the residence of Obosa is in Paranaque.
Ranin went to Muntinlupa and he photographed Obosa while taking a bath. He blew up the picture
and showed it to the witnesses and the children and they positively Identified Obosa as the man
running away from the scene of the crime. Later fifteen (15) persons were lined up at the NBI
headquarters in Manila together with Obosa and the witnesses pointed to Obosa as the one fleeing
after the commission of the offense. Ranin emphasized that in their opinion the marginal entry in the
logbook of the NBP as to the alleged return of Obosa to his quarters on August 2, 1987 at 2:1 0 P.M.
is a false entry.
There are now two criminal cases pending before the RTC, Makati, Metro Manila, namely: Criminal
Case No. 011, entitled People of the Philippines vs. Nieves Constancio, Ruel Villahermosa y
Fernandez, Jose Obosa y Tutaan and Victoriano Tutaan, prison superintendent, for the murder of
Secretary Ferrer; and Criminal Case No. 012 against the same accused for the murder of Jesus T.
Calderon, driver of Secretary Ferrer. The respondent is not accused in the said criminal cases.
No doubt the respondent is guilty of the charge against him. There was no reason for him to require
the appearance of Obosa in his court, even for a conference. The criminal case pending before him
was not yet ready for trial as the accused was at large. If truly respondent was impelled with the
desire to locate the whereabouts of accused Salamat so that he could be arrested, all that he could
have done was to have a policeman or court employee go to Muntinlupa for the purpose, or he
himself could have done so.
Under Section 3, Rule 23 of the Rules of Court, a subpoena shall be signed by the clerk of court or
by the judge, if the court has no clerk, under the seal of the court. The respondent had a clerk of
court, Miss Gloria Lorenzo, and yet he himself issued and signed the subpoena. His undue interest
to bring out Obosa from his confinement allegedly to appear before him is obvious.
Respondent did not even consider that Circular No. 6 dated December 5, 1987 of this Court
specifically directs that no maximum security prisoner could be taken out of the NBP to serve as
witness in a case and testify therein without the permission of this Court and unless the same is
absolutely necessary. The respondent failed to secure such authority from this Court before issuing
a subpoena for Obosa. His lame excuse is that he has not read said circular.
In causing Jose Obosa to get out of the NBP allegedly to appear before him, the respondent wittingly
or unwittingly, furnished Obosa the opportunity to participate in the commission of a crime or crimes.
In fact, Obosa is now being held to account as a principal in the murder of Secretary Ferrer and his
driver.
The respondent committed grave and serious misconduct in the performance of his duty. He
demonstrated his unfitness to be a judge as in fact by his behavior he has placed the judiciary in
disrepute.
5
He abused the great powers of his office so that he should not stay a moment longer as
a member of the judiciary.
WHEREFORE, while respondent is cleared of the charge of harassment filed by Mercedita G.
Lorenzo, he is hereby found guilty of grave and serious misconduct for deciding Civil Case No. 1202,
entitled Kilusang Bayan Pampananalapi ng Sariaya (KBPS) vs. Gilda Balid, et al., wherein he was a
former counsel for plaintiff in violation of Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, and for having
illegally issued a subpoena for the appearance of prison inmate Jose T. Obosa of the NBP before
him in Criminal Case No. 8924, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Cesar Salamat;" and as
penalty thereof, the respondent it is hereby DISMISSED from the service with prejudice to
reinstatement in the government and forfeiture of his retirement benefits, if any, but without prejudice
to the payment of his accrued leave or salaries already earned.
SO ORDERED.






SECOND DIVISION
[A.M. No. RTJ-00-1594. June 20, 2003]
PASTOR SALUD, complainant, vs. JUDGE FLORENTINO M.
ALUMBRES, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 255,
Las Pias City,respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
QUISUMBING, J .:
This is an administrative case filed by Pastor Salud
[1]
against the Hon.
Florentino M. Alumbres, then presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Las Pias City, Metro Manila, Branch 255, for undue delay in the
resolution of Civil Case No. LP-96-300, entitled Sps. Eduardo and Josefina
Laurito v. Sps. Pastor and Marcosa Salud.
As found by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA),
[2]
the instant
matter originated from the double sale of a parcel of land. It appears that a
certain Ricardo Forneza, Jr., and Cynthia S. Forneza were the original owners
of a house and lot covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. (106597)
T-5251-A. In a brief span of four (4) days, the Fornezas managed to sell the
same property twice. The first sale took place on February 8, 1990 to one
Ferdinand Jimenez as evidenced by a Deed of Sale. Then on February 12,
1990, the Fornezas executed in favor of Maria Belen Salud and Laurina
Salud, a Contract to Sell
[3]
over the same house and lot.
The first buyer (Jimenez) successfully caused the transfer of the title of the
subject property in his name, as a result of which TCT No. (106597) T-5251-A
was cancelled and TCT No. T-14065 issued in his name. On June 27, 1991,
Jimenez sold the property to the spouses Eduardo and Josefina Laurito. The
Laurito spouses then secured a new title, TCT No. T-24778, in their names.
[4]

When the Laurito spouses visited the subject property, they discovered
that the spouses Pastor and Marcosa Salud were occupying the house and
lot. Notwithstanding the demand made by the Lauritos, the Salud couple
refused to vacate the property. Hence, the Lauritos filed a suit for unlawful
detainer against them before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Las Pias
City.
[5]

Despite the defense of the Salud spouses that they were buyers in good
faith, the MeTC rendered a Decision,
[6]
dated December 9, 1996, against
them. The MeTC held that the Saluds failed to present any document to show
that they were the owners of the property.
On April 17, 1997, the Salud spouses appealed and filed a memorandum
pursuant to Section 7, Rule 40
[7]
of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. The
case, docketed as Civil Case No. LP-96-300, was raffled to Branch 255 of the
RTC of Las Pias City, presided over by herein respondent. Notwithstanding
the pendency of said appeal, on April 1, 1997,
[8]
Judge Alumbres issued an
Alias Writ of Execution, stating that judgment [is] now final and
executory.
[9]
Thus, the Salud spouses filed a petition for certiorari before the
Court of Appeals on April 23, 1997, with a prayer to temporarily restrain the
RTC from implementing, enforcing or otherwise executing its orders dated
February 17, 1997 and April 1, 1997, or otherwise disturbing the status quo.
[10]

The Laurito spouses then filed with the Court of Appeals a Motion to
Declare Temporary Restraining Order Vacated and for the early resolution of
the case. On October 8, 1998, they also filed a Motion for Issuance of an
Alias Writ of Execution Pending Appeal.
[11]

On October 19, 1998,
[12]
Pastor Salud filed a Letter Complaint
[13]
with the
OCA praying that the respondent judge be found administratively liable for
delay in rendering judgment in Civil Case No. LP-96-300. The Salud spouses
claimed that the RTC had the period from May 1997 to August 1997 to decide
Civil Case No. LP-96-300, but had not resolved the matter. They likewise
pointed to another case pending before the respondent, where the litigants
had been waiting at least six (6) months for the courts judgment. The
complainants herein asked the OCA to look closely at the docket of
respondent judges sala, as they were of the belief that several cases ripe for
decision remained unacted upon.
[14]

On October 19, 1998, despite Saluds opposition, the respondent judge
issued an Alias Writ of Execution. Salud questioned the issuance of the alias
writ on the ground that said order was contrary to the respondent judges
earlier statement that he would not act upon or issue any writ out of respect
for the order of the Court of Appeals to maintain the status quo. The
respondent judge made the statement, according to Salud despite the prayer
of the Saluds that a decision be rendered on their unlawful detainer case.
[15]

On November 20, 1998, or after more than fifteen (15) months from
submission, the RTC handed down its judgment in Civil Case No. LP-96-300.
It affirmed in toto the decision of the MeTC, which found the Saluds have
failed to present a better title to the subject property.
[16]

In his Comment
[17]
on the instant Complaint, respondent judge does not
deny that there was a delay in the rendition of judgment. However, he sought
to put the blame for the delay squarely on the complainant herein. According
to respondent, after he decreed the issuance of a Writ of Execution Pending
Appeal, complainant herein filed numerous pleadings not only before the RTC
but also with the Court of Appeals, which sought to thwart the implementation
of the writ issued and, obviously, to harass him. Complainant likewise sought
to inhibit him from proceeding with the hearing of Civil Case No. LP-96-300.
Respondent avers that complainant even went to the extent of charging him
with contempt of court before the Court of Appeals. As a result, respondent
said his time was virtually used up by answering baseless and unwarranted
pleadings filed by the complainant.
[18]

Respondent points out that despite the pendency of the administrative
case against him, he was nevertheless able to render a decision, albeit
delayed by 16 months. He now submits that given this development, he
should be exempted from and relieved of any liability. In addition, Judge
Alumbres submits that more than one (1) year has lapsed since the case was
decided and he no longer has any jurisdiction over Civil Case No. LP-96-300.
Hence, he should not be ordered to explain matters no longer within his
jurisdiction and competence.
[19]
Lastly, Judge Alumbres attributes the filing of
the administrative case against him to the unfavorable decision he rendered
against complainant in the unlawful detainer case. He cites complainant as a
classic example of a disgruntled litigant.
[20]

On August 29, 2000, the Court Administrator recommended that the
respondent judge be suspended without pay and benefits for a period of two
(2) months
[21]
for delay in the disposition of a case.
[22]
Said recommendation
took into consideration the fact that respondent had previously been
admonished for having decided a case beyond the reglementary period.
It is not disputed that it took respondent judge over 16 months to render
his decision in Civil Case No. LP-96-300 after it was submitted for
decision. The Constitution
[23]
mandates lower court judges to decide a case
within ninety (90) days from its submission. Likewise, the Code of Judicial
Conduct
[24]
mandates judges to administer justice without delay and directs
every judge to dispose of the courts business promptly within the period
prescribed by the law and the rules. We have emphasized strict observance of
this duty in order to minimize, if not totally eradicate, the twin problems of
congestion and delay that have long plagued our courts. It is an oft-repeated
maxim that justice delayed is often justice denied. Thus, any delay in the
administration of justice, no matter how brief, may result in depriving the
litigant of his right to a speedy disposition of his case. Delay ultimately affects
the image of the judiciary.
[25]
Failure to comply with the mandate of the Constitution
and of the Code of Judicial Conduct constitutes serious misconduct, which is
detrimental to the honor and integrity of a judicial office. Inability to decide a case
despite the ample time prescribed is inexcusable, constitutes gross
inefficiency,
[26]
and warrants administrative sanction of the defaulting judge.
[27]

Delay in the rendition of judgments diminishes the peoples faith in our
judicial system,
[28]
and lowers its standards and brings it into disrepute.
[29]
In the
event that judges cannot comply with the deadlines prescribed by law, they
should apply for extensions of time to avoid administrative sanctions.
[30]
The
Court allows a certain degree of latitude to judges and grants them
reasonable extensions of time to resolve cases upon proper application by the
judges concerned and on meritorious grounds.
[31]
At the very least, respondent
judge should have requested for an extension of time to render judgment once
he knew that he could not comply with the prescribed 90-day period to render
a judgment. In so doing, he would have been able to apprise litigants as to
the status of the case and the reason for the delay, if any. It would have
shown his mindfulness of the deadlines.
Undue delay in rendering a decision constitutes a less serious charge
under Section 4, Rule 140
[32]
of the Rules of Court, as amended. If found
guilty thereof, the judge shall be suspended from office without salary and
other benefits for not less than one (1) month or more than three (3) months;
or imposed a fine of more than P10,000, but not exceeding P20,000, pursuant
to Section 10,
[33]
Rule 140.
In this instance, however, we also have to recognize certain contributing
factors for the delay. Among them are the observed tendencies of the litigants
to resort to harassment tactics against the judge, as well as to overburden the
court with multiple but unnecessary motions and related paperwork. These
negative tactics are to be deplored. Although they do not excuse undue
delay, they certainly should mitigate the imposable penalty on the erring
judge.
Except for the mitigating circumstance, we are in agreement with the OCA
recommendations in this case. The record shows that this is not the first time
that respondent has been called to account by this Court. In 1992, he was
fined for gross partiality to a party. In 1996, he was admonished for delay in
the disposition of a case. In 1999, he was reprimanded. Although respondent
has retired on June 3, 2001, the recommendation of the OCA that a fine be
imposed on him is still in order.
Worth stressing, even after a judge has retired from the service, he may
still be held administratively accountable for lapses and offenses committed
during his incumbency. Although he may no longer be dismissed or
suspended, fines may still be meted out to be deducted from his retirement
benefits.
[34]

ACCORDINGLY, considering all the circumstances in this case, Hon.
Florentino M. Alumbres, former presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Las Pias, Branch 255, is FINED FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) for
undue delay in rendering a decision in Civil Case No. LP-96-300. Said amount
is hereby ORDERED deducted from retirement benefits of respondent.
SO ORDERED.


















Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

A.M. No. RTJ-92-904 December 7, 1993
DR. NORBERT L. ALFONSO, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE MODESTO C. JUANSON, Branch 30, Regional Trial Court of Manila, respondent.
Nicanor B. Padilla and Roberto A. Demigillo for complainant.
S.N. Barlongay and W.B. Lachica for respondent.

DAVIDE, JR., J .:
On 15 September 1992, the complainant, a doctor of medicine by profession, filed with this Court a
sworn complaint charging the respondent with immorality and violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics.
He accuses the respondent of maintaining illicit sexual relations with his wife, Sol Dinglasan Alfonso.
The complainant and his wife were married on 10 December 1988 and their union bore them three
children, all boys, ages 3 years old, 2 years old, and 4 months old, respectively. He alleges that their
married life was peaceful and happy until the discovery of the sordid affair, which came about in this
manner:
Sometime in February 1991, the complainant received a phone call from the wife of the respondent
who informed him that Sol and her husband (respondent) have been carrying on an affair and that
she has in her possession the love letters of Sol which she wants to show to the complainant.
Although he did not believe the information and even berated Mrs. Juanson for trying to ruin his
family, he, nevertheless, told Sol about it. Sol assured him of her love and concern for the family and
claimed that the respondent was just a client of
her former office, the Banco Filipino (EDSA Cubao Branch). Two weeks later, Mrs. Juanson called
him again to inquire if he had received the photocopies of Sol's love letters to the respondent. He
again scolded Mrs. Juanson and told her not to call him up anymore. On 12 June 1992, he and Sol
left for the United States of America (USA) for a vacation. He stayed there up to 19 July 1992;
however, Sol returned ahead of him on 10 July 1992. During his absence, specifically on 17 June
1992, Mrs. Juanson called up his father, Atty. Norberto Alfonso, and divulged to the latter the illicit
affair between the respondent and Sol. On 20 June 1992, Mrs. Juanson sent to Atty. Alfonso
photocopies of Sol's love letters to the respondent. During their pre-arranged meeting on 25 June
1992, Mrs. Juanson delivered the original copies of Sol's alleged letters to
Atty. Alfonso who was accompanied by the complainant's sister, Celestine A. Barreto.
When Sol arrived in the Philippines on 10 July 1992, Atty. Alfonso decided to hire a private
investigating agency to undertake an inquiry on the alleged illicit affair between Sol and the
respondent. Through surveillance conducted by its private investigators, the agency found that Sol
had met with the respondent on 11 and 17 July 1992 at Unit 412-A of Citihomes at 130 San
Francisco St., Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, and that they stayed inside the unit for two to three
hours.
Complainant further alleges that on 25 July 1992, five days after his arrival from the USA, his sister
Celestine told him about the illicit relationship between Sol and the respondent. Celestine showed
him the pictures taken by the private investigators and the alleged love letters of Sol. In the evening
of the said date, in the presence of their respective parents, the complainant confronted Sol and
showed her the proofs; Sol still denied the affair and insisted that she was just discussing some
business with the respondent. Later, however, at about 1:30 a.m. in their house, Sol finally admitted
to having an illicit affair with the respondent since late 1983 when she was an employee of Banco
Filipino (EDSA Cubao Branch) and that before they left for the USA, she met with the respondent at
Unit 412-A Citihomes.
As a result of this revelation, the complainant sent his wife out of the house. He and Sol have been
living separately since 26 July 1992. He also subsequently discovered from the statement of the
billing from Pacific Bell for overseas calls which he and Sol made while they were in the USA that on
17 and 25 June 1992 Sol had made calls to the respondent's office at the Manila Regional Trial
Court.
Complainant submits that the respondent is undeserving of the noble office of the judiciary and prays
that he be meted the appropriate administrative sanction for immorality and violation of the Code of
Judicial Ethics.
In compliance with this Court's Resolution of 22 October 1992, the respondent filed his Comment on
21 December 1992. He admits that he knows Sol and that "they have been communicating with
each other casually and innocently," but denies that they are lovers and were having an illicit affair,
that Sol has been sending love letters to him, and that, except for the 11 and 17 July 1992 meetings,
he and Sol had been going to the apartment situated at 130 San Francisco St., Mandaluyong, Metro
Manila, and staying there for hours. He asserts that he came to know Sol sometime in 1987 when
she engaged his professional services in connection with five criminal cases filed by her in the Office
of the Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal and the in the Regional Trial Court of Pasig. In the course of
their attorney-client relationship, Sol sought legal advice from him and during those occasions they
usually talked over the phone and not in the office. In June 1992, he received an overseas call from
Sol who was then in the USA. Sol asked for advice concerning her problem with her employer, the
Security Bank and Trust Co. (Dau Central Branch). They agreed that Sol would see him upon her
return to the Philippines. On 11 July 1992, shortly after her arrival from the USA, he ad Sol met at
the aforementioned apartment, which was leased not by the respondent but by Celestino Esteban.
After discussing her problem, with Celestino and two other persons present, he and Sol left the
apartment and took a late lunch at Fastfood, Robinson. He reassures the complainant "that his wife
has always been faithful to him and that he would do nothing as would tarnish their warm
relationship, much less destroy the complainant's family."
On 4 May 1993, the Court referred the case to Associate Justice
Lourdes T. Jaguros of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report and recommendation.
Justice Jaguros conducted a full-blown investigation. At the hearings on 17, 18, 21 and 29 of June
1993 and 6, 8, 9 and 12 of July 1993, the parties submitted testimonial and documentary evidence.
On 4 October 1993, she submitted her Report and Recommendation dated 30 September 1993.
Pertinent portions of her findings of facts read as follows:
As culled from the evidence of this case, Complainant Dr. Norbert L. Alfonso and Sol
Dinglasan were married at Sta. Ana Catholic Church on December 10, 1988 as
evidenced by a marriage contract (Exh. "N"). Three children were born of this
marriage, John Jason, three (3) years old, Jan Norbert, two (2) years old, and the
youngest Jan Joseph, four (4) months old. Complainant and his family lived a happy
and normal life with their Sundays spent on outings after the Sunday mass. (p. 9, tsn,
June 29, 1993).
In February, 1991, Complainant received phone calls from a woman introducing
herself as a concerned friend telling that complainant's wife is having an illicit affair
with her said woman caller's husband. Said caller did not identify herself but only said
she was in possession of love letters of complainant's wife Sol to said caller's
husband. After two weeks, said "concerned friend" called up the Complainant again
to ask him if he had received said caller's registered mail. Complainant after both
calls asked his wife Sol about her having an affair with another man, and in both
instances, Sol assured him of her love. Then the calls stopped for the rest of the year
1991 and early part of 1992 although Complainant noticed that his wife Sol used to
go out alone every Saturday.
On June 12, 1992, Complainant and his wife Sol went to the U.S.A. for a vacation but
the latter decided to return to Manila ahead of the former on July 10, 1992 (Exh. "O").
Complainant followed in returning home only on July 19, 1992 (Exh. "O-1").
On July 25, 1992, Complainant was invited by his father, Atty. Norberto Alfonso to his
sister Celestine Barreto's house, and there his father showed him five (5) love letters
written by Complainant's wife Sol with envelopes addressed to Atty. Modesto C.
Juanson (Exhs. "A" to "E" and submarking), and pictures taken by private
investigators of Complainant's wife and respondent Judge in company of each other
(Exhs. "F-5" to "F-22", "G-2" to "G-14"). Complainant recognized the handwriting of
his wife Sol in said love letters, specifically the GAIN memo pad paper used by Sol in
her love letter (Exh. "D") which is a prescription pad of Complainant to his patients.
Likewise, in the pictures, Complainant recognized his wife Sol holding a "Payless"
bag (Exh. "F-6") with the Respondent Judge holding the same bag later on (Exh. "F-
14"). In practically all the pictures, Complainant identified his wife Sol and the
respondent Judge. The Respondent Judge was no stranger to Complainant as the
latter knows said Judge personally. Said Judge is one of the best friends of
Complainant's parents-in-law and was even a sponsor in the wedding of
Complainant's sister-in-law. Both Complainant and Respondent Judge had met thrice
and talked with each other.
The five love letters, including a picture of the Respondent Judge (Exh. "K") were
handed to Complainant's father, Atty. Norberto Alfonso by a lady who introduced
herself, as Mrs. Ceferina Juanson in the presence of Complainant's sister, Celestine
Barreto. The three met at the front entrance of the Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon
Boulevard, Quezon City and proceeded to the City Diners Restaurant in the same
city where the three had a talk and where Mrs. Juanson handed to Atty. Alfonso the
five love letters with a picture, at about 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in late June 1992. Prior to
said meeting on June 17, 1992, at about 11:00 a.m. a "concerned woman" had called
up Atty. Alfonso at his home and in the vernacular had said "Tinataihan ang ulo ng
anak mo ng babaeng iyan" referring to Complainant's wife. To clear Atty. Alfonso's
doubt, the woman promised to send proofs which Atty. Alfonso received by LBC in a
parcel containing the xerox copies of Complainant's wife's love letters to Atty.
Modesto C. Juanson.
After the meeting with the lady who identified herself as
Mrs. Ceferina Juanson, Atty. Alfonso got an overseas call from Complainant that his
wife Sol was coming home to Manila earlier so that Atty. Alfonso engaged the
services of a private investigating agency, Truth Verifier System, Inc., to conduct
surveillance of the activities of Complainant's wife, Sol upon her arrival from the
U.S.A. Sol Alfonso did arrive on July 10, 1992, and on July 11 and 17, 1992, the
Truth Verifier System, Inc. through Marjorie Juinio and Edgardo Tamayo, licensed
private detectives conducted surveillance operation on Mrs. Sol Dinglasan and
respondent Judge Modesto Juanson. On said date of July 17, 1992, said private
detectives together with Raymond Tabangcura and Edgar Naquilla, saw, Sol
Dinglasan Alfonso go out of her house carrying a bag, take a tricycle and alight at
Lamayan St., walk towards Sta. Ana Church then board a taxicab. Following said
taxicab, the taxi stopped at City Homes, San Francisco Street, Mandaluyong, Metro
Manila. Sol went inside Unit 412-A Citihomes, and stayed inside for about three
hours. Respondent Judge Modesto Juanson came out first of said unit, wearing blue
walking shorts and light colored polo and carrying the plastic bag which Sol was seen
carrying earlier, and then followed by Sol. At around 1:00 p.m., the Respondent
Judge and Sol were inside said Respondent's Wrangler jeep on their way to
Robinson Galeria at EDSA. The two ate at Mongolian Restaurant and at Gusto
Unico, then they proceeded to Robinson's Supermarket. Inside the supermarket,
Marjorie Juinio saw the Respondent Judge put his arm on the shoulder of Sol, and
they were also seen holding hands (pp. 23-26, tsn, June 21, 1993). Then the two,
Respondent Judge and Sol boarded the Wrangler jeep. At about 3:45 p.m., Sol
alighted at the corner of Suter and Roxas Streets and then boarded a tricycle while
the jeep left. The formal report of the Truth and Verifier System, Inc. has
been offered by Complainant as Exhibit "F-1" to "F-4" while the many pictures taken
of Respondent Judge and Sol were marked and offered as Exhibits "F-5" to "F-22".
The other team of the Truth Verifier System, Inc. led by Edgardo Tamayo practically
corroborated the findings of the Marjorie Juinio team. A formal report marked and
offered as Exhibit "G" to "G-1", and pictures taken of Respondent Judge and
Complainant's wife Sol marked and offered as Exhibits "G-2" to "G-14" were
presented before the Investigator.
Five days after the arrival of Complainant Dr. Norbert L. Alfonso, he was invited by
his father, Atty. Norberto Alfonso to Norbert's sister's house in San Juan, Metro
Manila. In the house of Celestine Alfonso Barreto, Atty. Alfonso showed his son,
Norbert the love letters written by his wife Sol to Respondent Judge (Exhs. "A" to
"E"). Complainants recognized the handwritings of his wife Sol and even the GAIN
memo stationery which complainant was using as his prescription pad for his patients
(Exh. "D"). He recognized his wife Sol and Respondent Judge in the pictures taken
by the private detectives. On said day, Complainant Norbert Alfonso experienced the
greatest shock of his life and wondered what happened to his life. His father, Atty.
Alfonso, however, advised him not to hurt his wife Sol. In that same party,
Complainant showed Sol the pictures and the love letters which made Sol turn pale
and stammer when talking. Sol's own parents were embarrassed and walked out of
the party.
On the same night at about 10 in the evening, Complainant
Dr. Norbert Alfonso confronted his wife Sol as to the truth of her relationship with
Respondent Judge. Before the Investigator said Complainant made the following
testimony on direct examination:
xxx xxx xxx
ATTY. DEMIGILLO:
Q What else did your wife tell you during that confrontation, her exact
words ?
xxx xxx xxx
A She took a deep breath again and told me, "Sweetheart, I am very,
very, very sorry, I made a mistake." I asked, "What mistake is that ?"
She replied, "I had sexual intercourse with the Judge."
xxx xxx xxx
Q What else, if any, happened during that confrontation?
A I asked my wife "How many times did you have sexual intercourse
with the Judge"?
Q Was there any response?
A She answered five times and then right away I said, "Putangina
mo, five times lang.Alam mo ba kung ilan beses kitang
naganyan? Tarantado ka." With my voice not so loud because the
door and the windows were opened. If I shout the neighbors will hear
and then the yayas will go down right away.
Q What was your wife doing at that time?
A My wife was crying and saying, "Sweetheart, I am very, very sorry.
Forgive me." She was kneeling before me and begging forgiveness.
"Forgive me, sweetheart, I love you."
I told my wife, "you do not love me, you love your stupid Judge."
Q Is there anything else that you discussed during that confrontation
aside from the admission?
A After that admittance of my wife having sexual relationship with the
Judge, reminiscing the past events when we were together I told my
wife, "That's why pala every Saturday umaalis ka dito. Sinong
pinupuntahan mo?" And definitely, she admitted to me, "To the
Judge." (pp. 35-41, tsn, June 29, 1993)
The confrontation between Complainant and his wife Sol ended at about 5:00 a.m. of
the following day, July 16, 1992 with Complainant asking Sol to leave the house.
Sol also admitted to the Complainant that when she went to Hongkong on December
26, 1989 up to December 29, 1989 she was with Respondent Judge, and records of
the Commission on Immigration for said dates show that both Sol Alfonso and
Respondent Judge Modesto Juanson departed for Hongkong via Cathay Pacific
plane on December 26, 1989 and returned to Manila on December 29, 1989 (Exhs.
"P" and "P-1").
Also, Complainant received from his sister in California, U.S.A., a Pacific Bell
Statement of Telephone Calls reflecting two calls made by his wife Sol to Manila, at
numbers 632 476120. Number 632 is the country code while number 476120 is the
phone number of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 30, where Respondent Judge is
the Presiding Judge.
As of now, Complainant Dr. Norbert Alfonso and his wife Sol live separately, and
their three children are alternately in the custody of Complainant or Sol for certain
number of days.
Upon the other hand, Respondent Judge main defense is denial as he advances the
position that Sol Dinglasan Alfonso was a former client when Respondent Judge was
still a practicing lawyer, and that from time to time Sol would consult him regarding
her cases. As to the Hongkong trip, Respondent Judge simply accompanied a former
client who was looking for a house to buy in Hongkong and as to the visit in the
Citihomes unit, Respondent Judge claimed that he was only visiting his godson
George Zari who spent a vacation in the Philippines for a month.
Some elaboration of the respondent's version is necessary. He is now 56 years old. (TSN, 8 July
1993, 31). He and his wife, Ceferina, were married in 1961 and have two sons. Ceferina is eight
years his senior. (TSN, 12 July 1993, 4-5). From 1967 to 1969, he was the Chief Legal Officer in the
Office of the City Mayor of Quezon City and from 1969 to 1982 he was the Second Assistant City
Fiscal of Quezon City. After that and until November 1990, when he was appointed Judge of the
Regional Trial Court at Urdaneta Pangasinan, he was in private practice of law. In April 1992, he
was assigned to Branch 30 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila. (TSN, 8 July 1993, 32). He first
came to know Sol when she hired his services as her counsel in six criminal cases involving
dishonored checks she filed against Santiago Maramag and Evangeline Maramag. (Id., 33-39). In
1989, he saw Sol at the wedding of her sister Jennifer to Romeo Dizon; he stood as sponsor for the
groom then. In June 1992, Romeo saw him at his office at the City Hall in Manila and sought advice
regarding the letter Sol had received from the Security Bank requiring her to explain why she should
not be declared absent without leave (AWOL) for leaving her work without an approved leave of
absence. He told Romeo that he would not be able to give any advice unless he saw the letter and
talked with Sol. A few days later, he received an overseas call from Sol who said that she left the
Philippines sometime after 10 June 1992. He told her that he could not give any written or oral
advice until he read the letter and talked with her. This overseas call might have been the 17 June
1992 call referred to in the Pacific Bell Statement. (Exhibit "Q"). He was not able to talk to her in the
second overseas call referred to in Exhibit "Q." Two or three weeks alter, he received local call from
Sol who told him that she was back and that she has the letter. Sol begged to see him at his office.
He, however, told her that he was busy; besides, it was already late in the afternoon. She got frantic
and so he told her that they could meet the following day at Unit 412-A, Citihomes, at 130 San
Francisco St., Mandaluyong, since he was to meet his godson, George Zari, in the said place. They
did meet there at 11:00 o'clock in the morning the following day
11 July 1992, a Saturday. Sol gave him the letter from the Security Bank and after interviewing her
he promised to prepare a draft of a "reply." Present at that time were Celestino Esteban, lessee of
the unit who is his friend, George Zari, and his live-in partner, Marissa. Forty-five minutes later, he
decided to go home. Sol requested for a ride in his vehicle in order to alight at the place of her
employer along EDSA and Shaw Boulevard to which he obliged. While on their way, Sol invited him
for lunch and they went to the Mongolian Restaurant at Robinson's where they had lunch. They had
coffee nearby and then parted ways. Thereafter, on separate days, Sol called him by phone to ask
about the draft of the reply. On the second call, he told her that since he would meet George Zari on
the 17th of July at Unit 412-A Citihomes, she might just as well meet him there. She acceded and on
that date he left his office at about 11:00 o'clock in the morning and arrived at Unit 412-A thirty
minutes later. (TSN, 12 July 1993, 25). Sometime after Sol arrived, he gave to her the draft of the
reply and instructed her to type the letter, date and sign it, and then send it to her employer. He also
referred her to Atty. Lachica to whom she should henceforth communicate because he, respondent,
is busy at his office. When he was
about to leave, Sol asked if she might ride in his vehicle in order to alight at EDSA-Shaw Boulevard
to which he agreed. After that he did not meet Sol again. (TSN, 9 July 1993, 3-15).
Respondent denies having gone to Hongkong with Sol on 26 December 1989 and having seen her
in Hongkong. According to him, his traveling companion was Cua Sen. (Id., 16-23). Cua Sen
corroborated him on this point. (TSN, 6 July 1993, 5-10). When confronted about the charge of
immorality and unethical conduct for having illicit relations with Sol, he answered: "I deny it very
strongly, your Honor." (Id., 32).
Respondent further suggests that it was impossible for him to have sexual intercourse with Sol
because he was suffering from two debilitating diseases diabetes mellitus, for which he has been
"taking insulin" since 1987, and prostatitis which have seriously affected his sexual potency. In his
own words, he "could hardly make it," and that he has "no erection whatsoever."
(Id., 29-32; Exhibits "11" and "12").
Justice Jaguros gives full faith and credit to the complainant's version for she finds no reason not to
believe the complainant. According to her, "[n]o man in his correct mind would come forward and
claim that his honor and good name have been stained by an adulterous wife, doubt the paternity of
his children, and in the process destroy his family and home." She ruled that the testimonies of the
witnesses for the respondent Cua Sen, Celestino Esteban and former Judge Zari do not
inspire belief.
Justice Jaguros then concludes that the immoral conduct of the respondent has ruined two families
his own and that of the complainant. Respondent "cannot escape from the blame and sin of what
he has caused Complainant's once happy family." More pertinently she adds:
But beyond the domestic confines of these two families, Respondent Judge is no
ordinary mortal who can live the life he pleases having two women at the same time
his wife and worst [sic], another man's wife. He is a Judge who symbolizes the law
and the highest degree of morality in the community. The citizens look up to him as
the embodiment of justice and decency, as he decides cases brought to his court. He
can be no less.
And invoking our decision in Leynes vs. Veloso (82 SCRA 325 [1978] ) and Castillo
vs. Calanog (199 SCRA 75 [1991] ) as precedent and moral compass, she asserts that she has no
other alternative but to find respondent "GUILTY as charged of Immorality and Violation of Judicial
Conduct" and to recommend his "DISMISSAL . . . from office."
In the light of the conclusions of the Investigating Justice and her recommendation for the imposition
upon the respondent of the severest administrative penalty dismissal from the service it is all
the more imperative to conduct as assiduous examination and evaluation of the records and the
evidence.
There is no doubt in our minds that a very special relationship existed between the respondent and
the complainant's wife. For one, there are the cards or notes, which the complainant and the
Investigating Justice described as love letters. These five "love letters" are marked as Exhibits "A."
"B," "C," "D," and "E," and dated 3 July 1987, 23 May 1988, 15 February 1988, 11 January 1989,
and 7 March 1989, respectively. For another, if we were to give full credit to the complainant's
testimony that during their confrontation Sol had admitted having sexual intercourse with the
respondent on five occasions (TSN, 29 June 1993, 39-40), it would appear that the relationship had
developed into an extra-marital liaison. It was furthermore established that both Sol and the
respondent took the same flights of Cathay Pacific aircraft to Hongkong on 26 December 1989 and
back to the Philippines on 29 December 1989. There is, however, no evidence that they stayed
together in the same hotel in Hongkong. On the other hand, there is the unrebutted testimony of Mr.
Cua Sen that he, a client of the respondent, was the latter's travelling companion.
From the foregoing, it is clear that their affair began before Sol and the complainant were married on
10 December 1988 and might have blossomed from the attorney-client relationship between
respondent and Sol. Her marriage to the complainant did not diminish Sol's love for the respondent,
for even after she committed herself to the complainant alone and made a vow of fidelity to him till
death at the solemn ceremony of marriage, she still sneaked out her love notes to the respondent.
It must, however, be stressed that the respondent is not charged with immorality or misconduct
committed before he was appointed to the judiciary. As to the post-appointment period, we find the
evidence for the complainant insufficient to prove that the respondent and Sol continued their
extramarital affair. No love notes written by her after November 1990 were presented in evidence. If
she did, they could have been kept with Exhibits "A" to "E" in some secret place which was not,
however, unknown anymore to the respondent's wife. Sol's admission or confession to the
complainant that she had carnal knowledge of the respondent on five occasions made no reference
to specific dates and is hearsay. In his direct examination, the complainant's counsel exerted no
further effort to obtain clarifications as to the dates thereof. He perhaps realized its futility because
the narration by the complainant of the information clearly indicated that the complainant did not ask
Sol to elaborate on the five illicit sexual acts. On cross-examination, counsel for the respondent
carefully avoided any entanglement with the details of the admission not only because it might have
provided an occasion for the complainant to elaborate thereon, but because it would have operated
as a waiver of his objection to the testimony as hearsay. The transcripts of the stenographic notes
discloses that the counsel for the respondent objected and entered a continuing objection to
questions directed to elicit or which tended to elicit statements or admissions supposedly made or
given by Sol on the grounds that any such statements or admissions would be hearsay or otherwise
barred by the res inter alios acta rule. Justice Jaguros recognized the merit of the objection; hence,
she allowed the answers to be taken merely as part of the narration nut not as evidence of the truth
thereof. Thus:
ATTY. DEMIGILLO:
Q. What was her response to your exhortation?
A. After a few minutes she took a deep breath and said,
"Sweetheart, patawarin mo ako,nagkaroon ako ng kasalanan sa iyo."
ATTY. BARLONGAY:
At this juncture, Your Honor, we would like to register our objection as
to the issue of the truth of the statement as purported to be answered
by her wife for two reasons: One, it is hearsay. We have no
opportunity to cross-examine the . . .
COURT:
As part of the narration.
ATTY. BARLONGAY:
Yes, as part of the narration, but just for the purposes of record we
would like to register our objection as to the truth of the statement
itself. First, it is hearsay; second . . .
COURT:
Precisely, admitted only as part of his narration.
ATTY. BARLONGAY:
That is alright. Second, it is . . . on the basis of the inter-alia [sic] rule,
the admission of a party should not prejudice the rights of another.
xxx xxx xxx
ATTY. DEMIGILLO:
Q. What was the exact statement of your wife?
xxx xxx xxx
ATTY. BARLONGAY:
Again, subject to the observation of this Honorable Court, we
would register our objections on these two grounds: Hearsay and res
inter-alia [sic] rule.
xxx xxx xxx
ATTY. BARLONGAY:
Excuse me, I have some manifestations . . .
COURT:
You have a continuing objection?
ATTY. BARLONGAY:
Yes, I am not going to do this at every turn. I just want to say that our
objection is a continuing one. (TSN, 29 June 1993, 36-39).
If they were then allowed by the Investigating Justice as merely "part of the narration," they should
only be considered as independently relevant statements, i.e., proof that Sol made statements or
admissions, but not as proof of the truth of facts revealed in the said statements or admissions.
Elsewise stated, the admission in evidence of the words spoken by Sol is not to be used in
determining the issue of their truth. (FRANCISCO, V.J.,The Revised Rules of Court in the
Philippines, vol. VII, Part I, 1973 ed., 438). This being so, the acts of sexual intercourse admitted by
Sol cannot, insofar as the respondent is concerned, be deemed proven by the said admission or
confession. While it is true that technical rules of evidence should not be applied in administrative
cases, however, since the Investigating Justice herself had specifically allowed the hearsay answers
merely as part of the narration, or more specifically as independently relevant statements, it would
be unfair and arbitrary to thereafter disregard the ruling. All told, there is in this case no direct and
competent evidence against the respondent that he had illicit sex with Sol.
But even if the admission of Sol were to be taken as proof of the truth of the facts so admitted,
considering, however, that Sol's admission that she engaged in sexual intercourse on five occasions
made no reference to specific dates, that their affair antedated Sol's marriage, that their last proven
tryst was in Hongkong in 1989, and that there is an absence of positive and competent evidence to
show that any of the five acts of sexual intercourse took place after the respondent's appointment to
the judiciary , it cannot be safely presumed that the respondent committed any of the sexual
indiscretions after he became a judge. Respondent is not charged for immorality committed before
his appointment. Accordingly, proof of prior immoral conduct cannot be a basis for his administrative
discipline in this case. The respondent may have undergone moral reformation after his
appointment, or his appointment could have completely transformed him upon the solemn realization
that a public office is a public trust and public officers and employees must at all times be
accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act
with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives. (Section 1, Article XI, 1987 Constitution). It would
be unreasonable and unfair to presume that since he had wandered from the path of moral
righteousness, he could never retrace his steps and walk proud and tall again in that path. No man is
beyond reformation and redemption. A lawyer who aspires for the exalted position of
a magistrate knows, or ought to know, that he must pay a high price for that honor his private and
official conduct must at all times be free from the appearance of impropriety. (Jugueta vs. Boncaros,
60 SCRA 27 [1974]). And the lawyer who is thereafter appointed thereto must perforce be presumed
to have solemnly bound himself to a way of conduct free from any hint or suspicion of impropriety.
The imputation of illicit sexual acts upon the incumbent judge must be proven by substantial
evidence, which is the quantum of proof required in administrative cases. This the complainant failed
to do. The meetings of the respondent and Sol at Unit 412-A of Citihomes on 11 July and 17 July
1992 do not by themselves prove that these were trysts for libidinal gratification. Evidence was
offered by the respondent to prove otherwise. However, considering their prior special relationship,
the respondent and Sol's meetings could reasonably incite suspicion of either its continuance or
revival and the concomitant intimacies expressive of such relationship. In short, the respondent
suddenly became indiscreet; he succumbed to the sweet memories of the past and he was unable to
disappoint Sol who asked for his legal advice on a matter which involved her employment. Such
indiscretions indubitably cast upon his conduct an appearance of impropriety. He thus violated
Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics which mandates that "[a] judge's official conduct should be
free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in
the performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach," and
Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which provides that "[a] judge should avoid impropriety and
the appearance of impropriety in all activities." It has been said that a magistrate of the law must
comport himself at all times in such manner that his conduct, official or otherwise, can bear the most
searching scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as the epitome of integrity and justice. (Dia-
Aonuevo v. Bercacio, 68 SCRA 81 [1975] ). The ethical principles and sense of propriety of a judge
are essential to the preservation of the faith of the people in the judiciary. (Candia vs. Tagabucba, 79
SCRA 51 [1977] ).
It is to be noted that 17 July 1992 fell on a Friday. On that date, the respondent left his office at the
City Hall of Manila at about 11:00 o'clock in the morning and arrived at Unit 412-A Citihomes thirty
minutes later. (TSN, 12 July 1993, 25). Per report of the private detectives (Exhibit "G"), the
respondent and Sol left the unit as 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon on board a vehicle and that twenty-
five minutes later, Sol alighted near the crossing overpass at United Street. It is, therefore, clear that
on 17 July 1992 the respondent had left his office during office hours and, considering the distance
between Mandaluyong and his office at the City Hall of Manila and the usual traffic condition, it was
impossible for him to have reached his office if at all he did proceed to it in time for the
commencement of the official session hours in the afternoon,
i.e., 2:00 p.m. (Paragraph 5, Interim and Transitional Rules and Guidelines Relative to the
Implementation of the Judiciary Reorganization of 1981). Thus, for purely personal sessions, he
violated the rule regarding the official sentence. Such violation amounted to neglect of duty.
Finally, a word on the respondent's defense that he not have sexual congress with Sol because he
was suffering from diabetes mellitus and prostatitis. The claim is both self-serving and irrelevant. No
expert testimony was presented to prove the stage, extent or degree of seriousness of the diseases
and their effects on his capacity to copulate. The physicians who purportedly issued the medical
certificates did not testify thereon. Besides, immorality for which the respondent is charged is
not based alone on illicit sexual intercourse. It is settled that:
immorality has not been confined to sexual matters, but includes conduct
inconsistent with rectitude, or indicative of corruption, indecency, depravity, and
dissoluteness; or is willful, flagrant, or shameless conduct showing moral indifference
to opinions of respectable members of the community, and as an inconsiderate
attitude toward good order and public welfare. (Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth ed.,
1990, 751).
WHEREFORE, for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, the Canons of Judicial Ethics, and the
rule on official time, respondent JUDGE MODESTO C. JUANSON is hereby sentenced to pay a
FINE of TWO THOUSAND PESOS (P2,000.00) and, further, sternly warned that a repetition of the
same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.









Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

A.M. No. RTJ-90-447 December 16, 1994
EMMA J. CASTILLO, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE MANUEL M. CALANOG, JR., respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N

MENDOZA, J .:
This refers to the "plea for judicial clemency and compassion" of Atty. Manuel M. Calanog, Jr. Atty.
Calanog was formerly judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (Branch 7). In the decision of
this Court of July 12, 1991 in this case, he was found guilty of immorality and ordered dismissed
from the service "with prejudice to his reinstatement or appointment to any public office including a
government-owned or controlled corporation, and forfeiture of retirement benefits, if any." He seeks,
by his present petition, (1) a review of his dismissal for the purpose of being considered as having
merely resigned from his position as an RTC judge; (2) the lifting of the penalty of perpetual
disqualification from appointment to any public office or to any government-owned or controlled
corporation; and (3) the nullification of forfeiture of his retirement benefits.
Atty. Calanog does not seek a reconsideration of the decision in this case considering that his
motion to this effect was denied on October 1, 1991 and the decision against him is now final.
Rather he pleads for mercy, to be exempted from further service of the penalty imposed on him. In
support of his petition he alleges that sufficient time has elapsed since his dismissal and that since
then he has been "sufficiently punished and disciplined;" that he has undergone moral reformation
and he promises never again to be involved "wittingly or unwittingly with any person or activity which
may adversely affect his character and integrity;" and that except for this case he had an otherwise
exemplary record as an RTC judge.
Concerned with safeguarding the integrity of the judiciary, this Court has come down hard on erring
judges, and justifiably so. Atty. Calanog accepts this as merited punishment for such judges. He
asks, however, that in his case justice be tempered with mercy. Indeed the Court does not rule out
the possibility of reformation which, when proven and considered together with the subject's
potentiality and promise, may earn for him the Court's compassion. This is such a case.
As proof of his moral regeneration, Atty. Calanog alleges that he has become active in religious and
civic activities. He cites his membership in the Pag-Ibig sa Dios Catholic Community and Bibliarasal;
participation in the Life in the Spirit Seminar and Marriage Encounter Class 148; his membership in
the Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Mandaluyong and of the Guaranteed Education, Inc., his
being corporate secretary of Classic Plans, Inc., which offers educational plans to students at all
levels of education, and his being legal counsel of United Mutual Benefit Association, Inc., Trustee of
the Foundation for Sharing La Sallian Education of the De La Salle University, and auditor of the
Philippine Federation of Pre-Need Plan Companies, Inc.
In support of his allegations, he has submitted testimonials by Atty. Amado M. Santiago, Advising
Elder of the Pag-Ibig sa Diyos Catholic Community; Brother Rafael S. Donato of the De La Salle
University; Jose B. Uy, president of the Rotary Club of Mandaluyong; Mr. and Mrs. Roberto C. Albar
of the Lord's Vineyard; Ernesto C. Hernandez, president of Classic Plans, Inc., and the Philippine
Judges Association.
Atty. Calanog appears to be sincerely repentant. He describes the effect of the decision in this case
as a "healing surgery" for him.
Atty. Calanog is a relatively young man of 54. If his contributions
1
during the four years that he was
an RTC judge were any measure of his potentiality for public service, he has productive years still
ahead of him which should not be foreclosed. The penalty of disqualification from appointment to
any public office should be lifted so that the opportunity for public service in other fields may be
opened to him. His return to the judiciary may not be feasible at this time considering the recency of
our decision,
2
but certainly in the vast field of public service there should be room for the gainful
employment of his talents. Indeed in the past this Court showed compassion in imposing penalties,
taking into account the peculiar circumstances of the case. In one instance
3
it modified a judgment
of dismissal and ordered the reinstatement of a judge.
As for the forfeiture of retirement benefits as ordered in our decision, Atty. Calanog is not really
entitled to any, having only rendered four years, seven months, and twenty four days of service in
the government as RTC judge from November 18, 1986 to July 12, 1991. There is, therefore, no
basis for his request for payment of retirement benefits to him.
WHEREFORE, the petition for clemency and compassion of Atty. Manuel M. Calanog, Jr. is
GRANTED and the penalty of disqualification from public office imposed on him is LIFTED.
SO ORDERED.











FIRST DIVISION
A.M. No. RTJ-96-1363. October 12, 1998
TOMAS CABULISAN, complainant, vs. JUDGE ADRIAN N. PAGALILAUAN, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
BELLOSILLO, J.:
A certain Tomas Cabulisan filed an administrative complaint dated 4 April 1995 against respondent
Judge Adrian N. Pagalilauan, RTC-Br. 12, Sanchez Mira, Cagayan, for grave misconduct committed as
follows: (1) peeping into the bathroom where Marilyn C. Dumayas, a public health nurse of the
Sanchez Mira School of Arts and Trade, and daughter of the owner of the house where he was
boarding, was then taking a bath; (2) having a mistress in the neighboring town of Pamplona where
he would pass the night now and then; and (3) allowing local practitioners to write decisions for him.
In the First Indorsement of then Deputy Court Administrator Juanito A, Bernad, the complaint was
referred to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which procured statements from Marilyn C.
Dumayas, alleged victim of the peeping incident, and Gemma C. Cabading, Court Interpreter, RTC-Br.
12, Sanchez Mira, Cagayan.
In her sworn statement executed on 1 August 1995 before NBI Agent Norman A. Toloza at the
Administration Building of the SMSAT, Barangay Santor, Sanchez Mira, Marilyn C. Dumayas, married
to Orlando T. Dumayas a process server in the sala of respondent, narrated that one morning in
February 1995 (specific day was not mentioned) while she was taking a bath in the bathroom she
noticed someone enter the adjacent comfort room. After she finished and was about to take her towel,
she saw the face of respondent Judge Adrian N. Pagalilauan over the concrete dividing wall with his
eyes looking at her naked body so she hurriedly wrapped herself with her towel and went out of the
bathroom immediately.
1

One morning a week after, a similar incident happened again. While she was taking a bath in a
squatting position in the same bathroom, and sensing that respondent would peep again, she
instinctively glanced at the mirror in the bathroom and saw respondent from his chest up staring at
her. Again, she immediately wrapped herself up with her robe and screamed as she fled from the
bathroom.
2
A few days after the second incident, respondent voluntarily left her place and transferred
to a neighbors house.
3

Gemma C. Cabading, in her sworn statement dated 11 August 1995, stated that she had no
knowledge that respondent was maintaining a querida.
4
But she recalled that a certain Divina
Calaycay frequented the sala of respondent but explained that Divina was the widow of Judge Infante
S. Calaycay, a friend of respondent and his predecessor in office.
5
Cabading denied having any
knowledge of practicing lawyers preparing decisions for respondent.
6

In his undated letter-comment, respondent denied the charges but admitted that while presiding
judge of the Regional Trial Court of Sanchez Mira, Cagayan, he boarded in the house of Isabelo P.
Castillo, father of Marilyn C. Dumayas and his former sheriff. Respondent explained that since he was
not accustomed to sitting on the toilet bowl in the comfort room, he would squat on the bowl with his
feet and not his buttocks resting on it. Respondent claimed that under that circumstance, he had to
balance himself by placing one hand on the divider while mounting the bowl and dismounting from it.
One morning in February 1995, while using the toilet bowl, he had to hold the top of the divider with
his left hand to balance himself. His left hand almost dislodged the clothes of Marilyn which were
draped on the divider. He held on to them to prevent them from falling on the floor. He concluded that
Marilyn who was at the adjacent bathroom must have interpreted the movement of her hanging
clothes as a deliberate and malicious act on his part thus giving rise to her suspicion that he was
actually peeping at her.
With regard to the charge that he had a mistress, respondent surmised that the woman alluded to was
Divina Calaycay, widow of Infante S. Calaycay, his predecessor in the Regional Trial Court. He insisted
that he and Divina Calaycay were merely friends, as he and her late husband were former classmates.
There were even instances after the death of Judge Calaycay when she would visit him to ask help in
connection with her husbands death benefits from the Employees Compensation Commission
considering that he was formerly Executive Labor Arbiter of the National Labor Relations Commission
before becoming a judge.
On the accusation that respondent allowed local practitioners to write decisions for him, respondent
maintained that it was baseless and merely fabricated.
In the resolution of 2 October 1996 the Court noted the complaint as well as respondents comment
and referred the case to Associate Justice Hilarion L. Aquino of the Court of Appeals for investigation,
report and recommendation. Justice Aquino however filed a motion to be relieved as investigator on
the ground that respondent was a friend and townmate and in fact consulted him once regarding this
case.
On 15 January 1997 the Court granted the motion of Justice Aquino and designated Justice Portia Alio-
Hormachuelos of the Court of Appeals to replace him. In her Report and Recommendation dated 18
March 1997 Justice Alio-Hormachuelos recommended the dismissal of the complaint on the ground
that the identity of the complainant could not be verified. Summons issued to complainant Tomas
Cabulisan was returned with the notation RTS-unknown. According to the Officers Return of Service,
there was no Tomas Cabulisan known to be residing in the address on record. Furthermore, in the
report of NBI Agent Norman Taloza it was mentioned that complainant Tomas Cabulisan was a non-
existing person.
In the resolution of 17 September 1997 the case was referred back to Justice Portia Alio-
Hormachuelos for a more thorough investigation on the ground that the alleged non-existence of the
complainant was insufficient basis for dismissal since witnesses mentioned in the complaint could still
be subpoenaed and required to testify. As a result, Marilyn C. Dumayas appeared in the formal
investigation. She testified that respondent was a boarder in her familys house where she was also
staying in 1995.
7
Their house had only one bathroom which adjoined the comfort room.
8
The two
rooms were separated by a concrete divider about 2-1/2 meters in height which did not go all the way
to the ceiling, such that there was an open space between the ceiling and the top of the divider.
9
This
time however she claimed that she did not exactly see respondent looking at her; that she only saw
his forehead and that she simply suspected that he peeped at her. She also declared that she did not
remember if the peeping incident really happened twice.
10

There appears to be a conflict between Dumayas sworn statement executed 1 August 1995 and her
testimony before the investigating justice on 7 November 1997. As a rule, affidavits are generally
considered to be inferior to the testimony given in open court.
11
However, in the instant administrative
case, the sworn statement of Marilyn C. Dumayas contains a detailed account of the two peeping
incidents which is so persuasive as to convince us that it was what actually transpired, and not the
version of respondent which is practically a mere denial. Marilyn previously stated-
Q Will you please state what Judge Pagalilauan did something wrong to you?
A Sometime in the month of February this year while I was taking a bath in the morning inside our
bathroom I noticed someone entered the adjacent comfort room and after I finished taking a bath and
I was about to take my towel I saw the face of Judge Pagalilauan over the dividing wall with his eyes
looking towards my naked body and I hurriedly wrapped myself with my towel and went out
immediately and banged the door.
x x x
Q Did Judge Pagalilauan do the same wrong again to you?
A Yes, sir.
Q When was that second incident happened?
A A week after, sir.
Q How did it happen?
A One morning a week after when I took a bath in the bathroom in a squatting position and being
aware that the Judge might do it again I happened to glance at the mirror inside the bathroom and I
saw at the mirror a part of his body from chest to head looking at me so I again immediately wrapped
myself with my bathrobe and hurriedly left the place screaming: Bastos ka nga laklakayan, maysa ka
nga Judge ngem awan ti sursurom, pumanaw ka ditoy balay, diak kayat nga agian ka ditoy, addada
judge nga kas kenka nga naggigian ditoy balay ngem saan da nga bastos nga kas kenka (You foolish
old man, you are a Judge but you have no manners, leave the house and I dont want you to stay
longer here, there were other Judges who stayed here but they were not as foolish as you) as I went
upstairs.
12

Marilyn apparently has forgotten what she had once narrated specially in this case where the
testimony before the investigating justice was given more than two (2) years after the incident. The
fact that she has recounted the facts differently now may show a failure of memory, or could it be that
she was swayed by the fact that her husband was a process server of respondents while her father
was respondents former sheriff? Her sworn statement was replete with details which makes it more
convincing and should be given more weight than her testimony simply denying that she saw
respondent staring at her. Merely because she testified that what she had declared was false and that
what she now says is true is not sufficient ground for concluding that her previous statements were
false.
Respondent, in his comment, clearly admits his presence in the adjoining toilet; his defense which
consists mainly of the denial that he stared at Marilyn cannot prevail over the latter's positive
assertion that she saw respondent looking at her naked body, specially in this case where she
identified respondent in two separate peeping incidents as the culprit. We cannot accept his
explanation that he had to hold the top of the divider with his hand to balance himself because he was
not accustomed to sitting on the toilet bowl. It is a feeble excuse considering his stature and
educational background. It was improbable for him to move the clothes of Marilyn and cause them to
almost fall off the partition unless he was nervously committing something mischievous. His act of
peeping at the married daughter of his landlord while she was taking a bath reflect respondent's
obvious ungratefulness and moral depravity. Moreover, he callously abused the confidence of his
landlord who had welcomed him into his home. In this administrative case, we are principally
concerned with the moral fiber of respondent. We have repeatedly held that while every office in the
government service is a public trust, no position exacts a greater demand on moral righteousness and
uprightness of an individual than a seat in the judiciary.
13

People who run the judiciary, particularly justices and judges, must not only be proficient in both the
substantive and procedural aspects of the law, but more importantly, they must possess the highest
degree of integrity and probity and an unquestionable moral uprightness both in their public and
private lives.
14

By committing the prurient acts in question, respondent violated the trust reposed in him and utterly
failed to live up to the noble ideals and rigid standards of morality required in the judicial profession.
15

We absolve respondent however of the charge that he was keeping a mistress. From the evidence, the
woman alluded to was Divina Calaycay who happened to be the widow of Judge Infante S. Calaycay,
respondent's predecessor in office. Gemma Cabading, a court interpreter, testified that Judge
Calaycay was a close friend of respondent who frequented his office seeking his help in obtaining the
death benefits of her husband from the Employees Compensation Commission.
16
No evidence was
produced to prove that there was more than friendship between the two and that Divina was his
mistress.
As to the charge that respondent allowed practicing lawyers to write decisions for him, court
interpreter Gemma Cabading disclaimed any knowledge thereof. She said that the lawyers came to
the court office only when their cases were scheduled in court.
17
There was no proof that respondent
allowed practitioners to prepare decisions for him.
WHEREFORE, for his disgraceful acts of voyeurism committed against Marilyn C. Dumayas,
respondent Judge Adrian N. Pagalilauan, RTC-Br. 12, Sanchez Mira, Cagayan, is fined P10,000.00 with
warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.















Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. Nos. 86587-93 July 25, 1989
ATTY. LOLITO G. APARICIO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. ERMELINDO C. ANDAL, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 27, 11th
Judicial Region, With Station at Tandag, Surigao del Sur; The Republic of the Philippines, The
National Treasurer of said Republic; The Commission on Audit of said Republic; And such
other persons or entities of the Government as may be required by the Honorable Court to be
included as parties or nominal parties, respondents.
Lolito G. Aparicio for and in his own behalf.
R E S O L U T I O N
SARMIENTO, J :
Assailed in this special civil action for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus are the orders ** of the
respondent judge dated October 11 and 12, 1988 in Criminal Cases Nos. 1371, 1439, 1475,1480,
and 1476 and Civil Cases Nos. 742 and 755, denying the petitioner's Motion for Inhibition.
Textually, the Motion for Inhibition reads:
COMES NOW, the Movant to this Honorable Court respectfully states:
(1) that the Movant has just received the letter from the Supreme Court through its
Deputy Court Administrator, hereto attached to the original of this Motion only, same
being covered by confidentiality as for its internal operation only, issued in
connection with my Petition for inhibition, also annexed to the original only of this
Motion, inhibition by the Honorable Presiding Judge of this Court, to inhibit himself
from trying, hearing or in any manner acting on all cases, civil and criminal, in which
the Movant is involved and handling.
PRAYER
WHEREFORE, in view of the letter of the Deputy Court Administrator of the
Honorable Supreme Court, undersigned Attorney is compelled to request the
Honorable Presiding Judge of this Court to inhibit himself from trying, hearing or in
any manner acting in any of the cases in which the undersigned Attorney is involved
and is handling or will be involved, either as Complainant or otherwise.
Madrid, Surigao del Sur, Philippines.
September 26, 1988.
Respectfully submitted without argument:
(SGD.) ATTY. LOLITO
G. APARICIO
Madrid,
Suriga
o del
Sur
IBP
No.
172531
and
PTR
No.
879824
3, all
for
1988
1

Considering the aforecited motion, Judge Andal issued the substantially identical orders assailed
herein.
The focal issue is whether or not Judge Andal acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction when he denied the petitioner's Motion for Inhibition in the several criminal and
civil cases subject thereof and in thereafter continuing to take cognizance of said cases and all the
other cases pending before him. Concomitant thereto is the question of whether or not Judge Andal
can be held civilly liable for damages under Art. 32 of the Civil Code in relation to the constitutional
provision that all public officers must at all times be accountable to the people.
The petitioner maintains that there is between him and Judge Andal an existing state of
hostility
2
sparked off by the filing by him of petitions for certiorari and administrative cases against
the latter before this Court, prior to the filing of the Motion for Inhibition, which was, as earlier stated,
denied by Judge Andal. He avers that although the Motion for Inhibition did not explicitly state on its
face the valid grounds relied upon to support his motion, such grounds were known to Judge
Andal.
3
He theorizes that the Judge in refusing to inhibit himself from the cases subject of the
Motion for Inhibition and in all the other cases pending before him in which the petitioner is acting
either as counsel or a party litigant, Judge Andal violated his constitutional rights to due process,
equal protection of the law, access to the court and speedy disposition of cases, making Judge
Andal civilly liable under Art. 32 of the new Civil Code.
4
He asserts that because of Judge Andal's
refusal to inhibit himself, he (petitioner) and his family suffered mental anguish and incurred
expenses for which they must be compensated.
5

On the other hand, Judge Andal maintains that the motion for inhibition did not cite any valid grounds
to justify his inhibition.
6
He submits that when he denied the motion for inhibition, he was not aware
that A.M. No. RTJ-88-245 was filed against him as it was only on November 4, 1988 when he
received a resolution of this Court directing him to comment thereon, that he first came to know
about it.
7
He describes as a mere gratuitous assumption the petitioner's assertion that in denying
the Motion for Inhibition he was motivated by rancor and resentment because of the certiorari and
administrative cases earlier filed against him.
8
In this score, he asseverates that he does not
normally resent the filing of certiorari cases against him as he has neither the reason nor the luxury
of time to entertain such a feeling. Moreover, he is so preoccupied with his case load to even think of
it.
9
He further stresses that he has nothing personal against petitioner, as he does not know the
latter personally.
10

On the claim for damages, he submits that the same is without basis and is purely imaginary and
speculative.
Rule 137, Section 1 of the new Rules of Court provides:
Section 1. Disqualification of Judges No judge or judicial officer shall sit in any
case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee,
creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to either party within the sixth degree
of consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree, computed
according to the rules of the civil law, or in which he has been executor,
administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has presided in any
inferior court when his ruling or decision is the subject of review, without the written
consent of all parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the record.
A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting ill
a case for just or valid reasons other than those mentioned above.
It must be observed that the Motion for Inhibition, as correctly stated by Judge Andal in his orders
denying the same, cited no valid ground, which fact was confirmed by the prosecuting fiscal and the
counsel for the accused in the criminal cases and the defendants in the civil cases. There is,
therefore, no doubt that the denial of the said motion was not whimsical or capricious nor was the
said denial intended to spite the petitioner, as the petitioner would want this Court to believe, but was
done in the valid and judicious exercise of his function and duty as judge.
We agree with the Solicitor General that the state of hostility being pressed by the petitioner is purely
imaginary.
11
Indeed the petitioner had not presented any evidence to support his conclusion that the
filing of the petition for certiorari docketed as UDK 8748 and UDK 8822 and the administrative cases
adverted to, caused the displeasure of Judge Andal as to affect his impartiality in trying petitioner's
cases. In fact, such allegations were refuted by Judge Andal when he categorically stated that he
does not normally resent the filing of certiorari cases before this Court where he is impleaded as a
mere nominal party,
12
after all, when still a practitioner he too filed certiorari cases. Moreover, as a
judge, he knows he has neither the reason nor luxury of time to entertain such a feeling, preoccupied
as he is with the many cases assigned to him..
13

A circumspective analysis of the assailed orders belies the petitioner's charge of bias or prejudice
and hostility, as all of the said orders appear to have been issued in accordance with law and
nowhere was there a showing of any outward manifestation of the supposed state of hostility
between Judge Andal and petitioner as to warrant the inhibition or disqualification of the former. And
having denied the Motion for Inhibition, Judge Andal acted within his jurisdiction when he continued
to take cognizance of all the cases pending before him, there being no writ of injunction or a
restraining order issued, enjoining him to cease and desist from acting on the said cases. It must be
noted that it was only on February 16, 1989 that a restraining order was issued by this Court.
14
The
Court has held that mere pendency of a special civil action for certiorari commenced in relation to a
case pending before the lower court, does not interrupt the course of the latter when there is no writ
of injunction restraining it.
15
Likewise, "the mere filing of an administrative case against respondent
judge is not a ground for disqualifying him from hearing the case, for if on every occasion the party
apparently aggrieved would be allowed to either stop the proceedings in order to await the final
decision on the desired disqualification, or demand the immediate inhibition of the judge on the basis
alone of his being so charged, many cases would have to be kept pending or perhaps there would
not be enough judges to handle all the cases pending in all the courts. The Court has to be shown
acts or conduct of the judge clearly indicative of arbitrariness or prejudice before the latter can be
branded the stigma of being biased or partial,
16
and on this regard the petitioner failed.
In Pimentel vs. Salanga,
17
we rationalized:
Efforts to attain fair, just and impartial trial and decision, have a natural and alluring
appeal. But, we are not licensed to indulge in unjustified assumptions, or make a
speculative approval to this Ideal. It ill behooves this Court to tar and feather a judge
as biased or prejudiced, simply because counsel for a party litigant happens to
complain against him. As applied here, respondent judge has not as yet crossed the
line that divides partiality and impartiality. He has not thus far stepped to one side of
the fulcrum. No act or conduct of his would show arbitrariness or prejudice.
Therefore, we are not to assume what respondent judge, not otherwise legally
disqualified, will do in a case before him. We have had occasion to rule in a criminal
case that a charge made before trial that a party "will not be given a fair, impartial
and just hearing is "premature." Prejudice is not to be presumed. Especially if
weighed against a judge's legal obligation under his oath to administer justice without
respect to person and do equal right to the poor and the rich." To disqualify or not to
disqualify himself then, as far as respondent judge is concerned, is a matter of
conscience. (Emphasis supplied).
On his claim for damages against Judge Andal in these same proceedings, the petitioner-lawyer
invokes Art. 32 of the Civil Code which provides in part:
Any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats,
violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following rights and liberties of another
person shall be liable to the latter for damages:
x x x
8) The right to the equal protection of the laws
x x x
16) The right of the accused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy and public
trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure
the attendance of witness in his behalf:
x x x
(19) Freedom of access to the courts.
x x x
The responsibility herein set forth is not demandable from the judge unless his act or omission
constitutes a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.
In Aberca v. Ver,
18
we postulated thus: "The purpose of the above codal provision is to provide a
sanction to the deeply cherished rights and freedom enshrined in the constitution. Its message is
clear; no man may seek to violate those sacred rights with impunity." Under said article judges are
excluded from liability, provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a violation of the Penal
Code and other penal statute.
19
As we have earlier stated, the acts of Judge Andal in denying the
motion for inhibition and in thereafter proceeding with the trial of the different criminal and civil cases
pending before his court were done in a regular manner and were considered as his official acts,
thus, he is not answerable for damages.
In Alzua and Arnalot vs. Johnson,
20
this Court, adopting the concurring opinion in Forbes, etc. vs.
Chuoco Tiaco and Crossfield,
21
stated thus:
... whenever and wherever a judge of a court of superior jurisdiction exercises judicial
functions, he will not be personally liable in civil damages for the result of his actions,
and the test of judicial liability is not jurisdiction, but such liability depends wholly
upon the nature of the question which is being determined when the error
complained of is committed by the court. If such question is one the determination of
which requires the exercise of judicial functions, the judge is not liable, even though
there is in reality an absolute failure of jurisdiction over the subject matter ... .
An important point that should not be overlooked in this case is petitioner's audacious propensity of
filing certiorari and administrative cases against the respondent judge based on flimsy and
unfounded charges he can conceive. Thus, it behooves us to remind the petitioner of his basic duty
"to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers to conduct
himself with "all good fidelity to the courts;" to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude, not
for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme
importance that his duty to render respectful civility, without fawning, to the courts is indeed essential
to the orderly administration of justice. Thus, he should be courteous, fair, and circumspect, not
petulant, combative, or bellicose in his dealings with the courts; and finally, that the use of
disrespectful, intemperate, manifestly baseless, and malicious statements by an attorney in his
pleading or motion is not only a violation of the lawyer's oath and a transgression of the cannons of
professional ethics, but also constitutes direct contempt of court for which a lawyer may be
disciplined.
22

Accordingly, the petitioner is hereby admonished to be more prudent in his dealings with the court
and its judicial officers.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Restraining
Order dated February 16, 1980 is lifted and set aside. Atty. Lolito G. Aparicio is hereby
REPRIMANDED for conduct unbecoming a member of the bar and an officer of the court with a
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar conduct will be dealt with more severely.
Let a copy of this resolution be entered in the bar record of Atty. Lolito G. Aparicio.





Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 79284 November 27, 1987
FROILAN C. GANDIONCO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. SENEN C. PEARANDA, as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Misamis
Oriental, Branch 18, Cagayan de Oro City, and TERESITA S. GANDIONCO, respondents.

PADILLA, J .:
A special civil action for certiorari, with application for injunction, to annul (1) the Order of the
respondent Judge, dated 10 December 1986, ordering petitioner to pay support pendente lite to
private respondent (his wife) and their child, and (2) the Order of the same respondent Judge, dated
5 August 1987, denying petitioner's motion to suspend hearings in the action for legal separation
filed against him by private respondent as well as his motion to inhibit respondent Judge from further
hearing and trying the case.
On 29 May 1986, private respondent, the legal wife of the petitioner, filed with the Regional Trial
Court of Misamis Oriental, 10th Judicial District, Branch 18, in Cagayan de Oro City, presided over
by respondent Judge, a complaint against petitioner for legal separation, on the ground of
concubinage, with a petition for support and payment of damages. This case was docketed as Civil
Case No. 10636. On 13 October 1986, private respondent also filed with the Municipal Trial Court,
General Santos City, a complaint against petitioner for concubinage, which was docketed on 23
October 1986 as Criminal Case No. 15437111. On 14 November 1986, application for the
provisional remedy of support pendente lite, pending a decision in the action for legal separation,
was filed by private respondent in the civil case for legal separation. The respondent judge, as
already stated, on 10 December 1986, ordered The payment of support pendente lite.
In this recourse, petitioner contends that the civil action for legal separation and the incidents
consequent thereto, such as, application for support pendente lite, should be suspended in view of
the criminal case for concubinage filed against him the private respondent. In support of his
contention, petitioner cites Art. III. Sec. 3 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, which states:
SEC. 3. Other Civil action arising from offenses. Whenever the offended party
shall have instituted the civil action to enforce the civil liability arising from the
offense. as contemplated in the first Section 1 hereof, the following rules shall be
observed:
(a) After a criminal action has been commenced the pending civil action arising from
the same offense shall be suspended, in whatever stage it may be found, until final
judgment in the criminal proceeding has been rendered. . . .
The civil action for legal separation, grounded as it is on concubinage, it is petitioner's position that
such civil action arises from, or is inextricably tied to the criminal action for concubinage, so that all
proceedings related to legal separation will have to be suspended to await conviction or acquittal for
concubinage in the criminal case. Authority for this position is this Court's decision in the case
of Jerusalem vs. Hon. Roberto Zurbano. 1
Petitioner's contention is not correct.
In Jerusalem, the Court's statement to the effect that suspension of an action for legal separation
would be proper if an allegation of concubinage is made therein, relied solely on Sec. 1 of Rule 107
of the then provisions of the Rules of Court on criminal procedure, to wit:
Sec. 1. Rules governing civil actions arising from offenses.-Except as otherwise
provided by law, the following rules shall he observed:
(a) When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for recovery of civil liability
arising from the offense charged is impliedly instituted with the criminal action, unless
the offended party expressly waives the civil action or reserves his right to institute it
separately;
(b) Criminal and civil actions arising from the same offense may be instituted
separately, but after the criminal action has been commenced the civil action can not
be instituted until final judgment has been rendered in the criminal action;
(c) After a criminal action has been commenced, no civil action arising from the same
offense can be prosecuted and the same shall be suspended in whatever stage it
may be found until final judgment in the criminal proceeding has been rendered ...
(Emphasis supplied)
The provisions last quoted did not clearly state, as the 1985 Rules do, that the civil action to be
suspended, with or upon the filing of a criminal action, is one which is "to enforce the civil liability
arising from the offense". In other words, in view of the amendment under the 1985 Rules on
Criminal Procedure, a civil action for legal separation, based on concubinage, may proceed ahead
of, or simultaneously with, a criminal action for concubinage, because said civil action is not one "to
enforce the civil liability arising from the offense" even if both the civil and criminal actions arise from
or are related to the same offense. Such civil action is one intended to obtain the right to live
separately, with the legal consequences thereof, such as, the dissolution of the conjugal partnership
of gains, custody of offsprings, support, and disqualification from inheriting from the innocent
spouse, among others. As correctly pointed out by the respondent Judge in his Order dated 5
August 1987:
The unreported case of JERUSALEM vs. Hon. Roberto Zurbano, Judge of CFI of
Antique, et al., L-11935, April 24, 1959 (105 Phil. 1277) is not controlling. It applied
paragraph C of Sec. 1, of then Rule 107 of the Rules of Court, which reads:
After a criminal action has been commenced, no civil action arising
from the same offense can be prosecuted and the same shall be
suspended, in whatever stage it may be found, until final judgment in
the criminal proceeding has been rendered. (Emphasis supplied)
The governing rule is now Sec. 3, Rule 111, 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure which refers to "civil
actions to enforce the civil liability arising from the offense" as contemplated in the first paragraph of
Section 1 of Rule 111-which is a civil action "for recovery of civil liability arising from the offense
charged." Sec. 1, Rule 111, (1985) is specific that it refers to civil action for the recovery of civil
liability arising from the offense charged. Whereas, the old Sec. 1 (c), Rule 107 simply referred to
"Civil action arising from the offense."
As earlier noted this action for legal separation is not to recover civil liability, in the main, but is
aimed at the conjugal rights of the spouses and their relations to each other, within the
contemplation of Articles 7 to 108, of the Civil Code."
2

Petitioner also argues that his conviction for concubinage will have to be first secured before the
action for legal separation can prosper or succeed, as the basis of the action for legal separation is
his alleged offense of concubinage.
Petitioner's assumption is erroneous.
A decree of legal separation, on the ground of concubinage, may be issued upon proof by
preponderance of evidence in the action for legal separation.
3
No criminal proceeding or conviction
is necessary. To this end, the doctrine in Francisco vs. Tayao
4
has been modified, as that case was
decided under Act. No. 2710, when absolute divorce was then allowed and had for its grounds the
same grounds for legal separation under the New Civil Code, with the requirement, under such
former law, that the guilt of defendant spouses had to be established by final judgment in a criminal
action. That requirement has not been reproduced or adopted by the framers of the present Civil
Code, and the omission has been uniformly accepted as a modification of the stringent rule
inFrancisco v. Tayao.
5

Petitioner's attempt to resist payment of support pendente lite to his wife must also fail, as we find no
proof of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent Judge in ordering the same.
Support pendente lite, as a remedy, can be availed of in an action for legal separation, and granted
at the discretion of the judge.
6
If petitioner finds the amount of support pendente lite ordered as too
onerous, he can always file a motion to modify or reduce the same.
7

Petitioner lastly seeks to have the respondent Judge disqualified from hearing the case, as the grant
of supportpendente lite and the denial of the motion to suspend hearings in the case, are taken by
the petitioner as a disregard of applicable laws and existing doctrines, thereby showing the
respondent Judge's alleged manifest partiality to private respondent.
Petitioner's contention is without merit. Divergence of opinions between a judge hearing a case and
a party's counsel, as to applicable laws and jurisprudence, is not a sufficient ground to disqualify the
judge from hearing the case, on the ground of bias and manifest partiality. This is more so, in this
case, where we find the judge's disposition of petitioner's motions to be sound and well-taken.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.




EN BANC
[A.M. No. RTJ-96-1336. July 25, 1996]
JOCELYN TALENS-DABON, complainant, vs. JUDGE HERMIN E.
ARCEO, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PER CURIAM:
Once again, this Court must strike hard at an erring member of the
Judiciary.
The case before us stemmed from a sworn-complaint filed by Jocelyn C.
Talens-Dabon, Clerk of Court V of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando
Pampanga, charging Judge Hermin E. Arceo, the Executive Judge thereat
with gross misconduct. The complaint was later amended to include
immorality. Judge Arceo filed his answer with counter-complaint to the main
complaint and his answer to the amended complaint. He likewise submitted
the affidavits of his witnesses.
After considering the answers, we issued a Resolution dated February 1,
1996 referring the case to Associate Justice Portia Alio-Hormachuelos of the
Court of Appeals for investigation, report, and recommendations, and at the
same time, placing Judge Arceo under preventive suspension for the duration
of the investigation (p. 61, Rollo).
After requests for postponement from both parties, hearings were held on
March 4, 19, 20, 21, 22, and on April 1, 8, 10 and 18, 1996. Both parties
presented their respective witnesses. Except for Atty. Arnel Santos and
Prosecutor Ramon S. Razon, all of Judge Arceo's witnesses were court
employees assigned at either the Office of the Clerk of Court or Branch 43 of
the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga.
In due time, the Investigating Justice submitted her Report and
Recommendation with the following findings:
The evidence shows that complainant Atty. Jocelyn "Joy" C. Talens-Dabon, 29, a
resident of Dolores, San Fernando, Pampanga, is the Assistant Clerk of Court of the
RTC, San Fernando, Pampanga which item she assumed on August 10, 1995, after
working for more than a year as Branch Clerk of Court of RTC Kalookan City under
Judge Adoracion G. Angeles. At the time of her assumption to office, she was about
to get married to Atty. Dabon, a lawyer who work at the Court of Appeals. She is a
Methodist, the same religion as that of respondent's wife and family.
Respondent Judge Hermin E. Arceo, 54, a resident of Guiguinto, Bulacan is the
Presiding Judge of the RTC Branch 43 in San Fernando, Pampanga. He was newly
designated Executive Judge therein vice Judge Teodoro Bay who transferred to
Quezon City. His wife is ailing and on dialysis, and has been residing in the U.S. with
their daughter since 1989. His family is in the printing business and his translations of
some laws and books have been published (Exhs. 15-23). He has pursued further
legal studies abroad either as participant or guest. He is President of the Pampanga-
Angeles City RTC Judges Association and was designated Presidential Assistant for
Operations of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA).
Three days after complainant first reported at the Office of the Clerk of Court, Atty.
Elenita Quinsay, she was summoned by respondent. He was typing when she came in
and at this first meeting, she was surprised that without even looking up at her, he
asked her in a loud voice what she wanted. When he did look at her she was bothered
by the way he looked at her from head to foot "as if he were undressing her."
Respondent told her that she was going to be detailed to his office as his assistant, a
situation which she did not welcome having heard of respondent's reputation in the
office as "bastos" and "maniakis" prompting her to work for her transfer to Branch 45
under Judge Adelaida Ala-Medina.
On August 21, 1995, complainant received respondent's Executive Order No. 001-95
(Exh. H) requiring her to report to the office of the Executive Judge effective August
28, 1995. Her work was to draft and file memos and circulars, pay telephone and
electric bills and other clerical duties assigned to her by respondent. At one time she
was designated to act as Branch Clerk of Court of Branch 43 in the absence of OIC
Bernardo Taruc. She observed respondent to be rude and disrespectful to her and the
other court personnel. He talked in a loud voice and shouted at them; used offensive
words such as "walang isip", "tanga"; told green jokes and stories; made harsh and
negative comments about court personnel in the presence of others. Whenever he had
the opportunity he would make bodily contact ("chancing") with her and certain
female employees. Twice as she was about to go out the door respondent would
approach it in big strides so that his body would be in contact with hers and he would
press the lower part of his body against her back. When complainant introduced her
fiance to him, respondent asked her why she was playing with her forefinger, at the
same time gesturing with his to signify sexual intercourse. Sometime in November
1995, respondent kissed complainant on the cheek, a fact admitted by him in his
testimony. He also admitted kissing witnesses Marilyn Leander, Ester Galicia and
other female employees.
Sometime in October 1995, the Courts of San Fernando transferred to the Greenfields
Country Club due to the inundation of their regular offices with lahar. Ester Galicia
whose house was also affected was allowed to house her appliances in the staff room
of RTC Branch 43. These included a VCR on which, as testified by witness Bernardo
Taruc, a VHS tape entitled "Illegal in Blue" brought by respondent was played at
respondent's bidding. The tape contained explicit sex scenes and during its showing
respondent would come out of his chamber and tease the female employees about
it. Taruc further related that at one time respondent brought and showed to the
employees a picture which when held in some way showed figures in coital position.
Adding to complainant's apprehensions about respondent's sexual predilection were
the revelations of Marilyn Senapilo-Leander, 23, a stenographer of Branch
43. Testifying on her own experiences with respondent, Leander stated that
respondent wrote a love poem to her (Exh. A) and that many times while taking
dictation from respondent in his chamber, he would suddenly dictate love letters or
poems addressed to her as if courting her (Exhs. B to E). He kissed her several times,
pointedly stared at her lower parts when she wore tight pants and made body contacts
("chancing"). At one point bursting into tears -- which prompted this Investigator to
suspend her testimony; she was so agitated -- Leander testified of the time that
respondent summoned her to his chamber and she found him clad only in
briefs. When she turned around to flee, respondent called after her saying "why are
you afraid. After all, this is for you."
Leander took into her confidence the most senior employee in Branch 43, OIC Clerk
of Court Bernardo Taruc who then took it upon himself to accompany Leander in
respondent's office whenever he could or ask other female employees to accompany
her. Taruc asked Leander to report the matter to Deputy Court Administrator
Reynaldo Suarez but Leander expressed fear of retribution from respondent. When
Leander's wedding was set in late 1995, respondent taunted her by saying "Ikay, ang
dami ko pa namang balak sa 'yo, kinuha pa naman kita ng bahay sa isang subdivision,
tapos sinayang mo lang, tanga ka kasi!" This is admitted by respondent who said it
was only a joke. Asked why she did not file any complaint against the respondent for
sexually harassing her, Marilyn Leander explained:
"I am afraid considering that I am just an ordinary employee. And I know for a fact
that Judge Hermin Arceo is a very influential person, he is very rich. I know he has
lots of friends in Pampanga like the Governor. I know I cannot fight by myself
alone." (TSN, March 20, 1966, p. 30).
For the complainant, these personal and vicarious experiences hit bottom with the
incident that happened in the afternoon of December 6, 1995. As testified by
complainant, corroborated in parts by Bemardo Taruc, Yolanda Valencia and Rosanna
Garcia, complainant was summoned at about 1:30 p.m. to respondent's temporary
chamber at Greenfields Country Club by respondent who himself came to the Staff
room. By this time, only the Office of the Clerk of Court and RTC Branch 43 had
been left at Greenfields; the other RTC branches had returned to their usual offices at
the Hall of Justice. The Sangguniang Panglalawigan which had also occupied
Greenfields had likewise vacated the building only the day before.
At his temporary chamber at Greenfields, respondent occupied two (2) small
adjoining rooms while the personnel of the Office of the Clerk of Court and RTC
Branch 43 occupied a bigger room called the Maple Room (Please see Exhs. "J", "K"
and "2"). In respondent's Floor Plan marked Exhibit "2" it appears that from
respondent's chamber, one had to pass a chapel and bar lounge before reaching the
staff room. The door to the outer room of the chamber was equipped with a knob and
an automatic door closer. When locked from inside, it could not be opened outside
except with a key. Since there was no airconditioner, this door was usually held open
for ventilation by a chair or a small table. The outer room had filing cabinet and sacks
of rice lined up on two (2) sides of the wall. The inner room also had a door but
without a knob. Respondent had his desk here. The window in this room opened to
the lawn of the Country Club.
Amid this backdrop in what may have been a somnolent afternoon at Greenfields,
complainant entered respondent's office. Already made cautious by respondent's
reputation and Mrs. Leander's experience, she took care to check the outer door and
noted the chair which prevented it from closing. Her apprehension increased because
the hallway was clear of people and only the personnel of Branch 43 and the Office of
the Clerk of Court were left holding office there. She entered the inner room, and sat
on a chair in front of respondent's desk. They talked about the impending
construction of the Hall of Justice. Their conversation was interrupted when Bemardo
Taruc dropped by to tell respondent of a phone call for him. Respondent left the room
but told complainant to remain for the signing of her Certificate of Service which she
was then bringing. After a few minutes respondent returned and they resumed their
conversation. When the talk veered to his wife, complainant became uneasy and
directed respondent's attention to her unsigned Certificate of Service. After
respondent signed it, complainant prepared to leave the room. At this juncture,
respondent handed to her a folded yellow paper containing his handwritten poem
(Exh. M; p. 22, Record).
Hereunder quoted is the poem and complainant's interpretation of it as contained in
her Memorandum:
"Dumating ka sa buhay ko isang araw ng Agosto
Ang baon mo ay 'yong ganda at talinong abogado
Ang tamis ng 'yong ngiti ang bumihag sa puso ko
Malakas na pampalubag sa mainit kong ulo."
"Indeed, the last two lines of the first stanza are consistent with complainant's claim
regarding respondent's rude manner and erratic mood swings.
"The second stanza of respondent's poem also jibes with his own testimony that he
would often look for complainant whenever he would not see her, and with
complainant's testimony that respondent's behavior towards her -- his propensity to
utter remarks with sexual connotations, his acts of making physical contact with her,
among others --
"Ang akala ko'y gayong lamang magiging pagtingin sa iyo
Ako itong amo at ikaw ang empleyado
Bakit habang tumatagal isip ko'y nagugulo
Pag di ka nakikita'y laging nagagalit ako."
"The third stanza is most descriptive of respondent's attitude towards complainant
which complainant and her witnesses described as rude. It is also consistent with the
testimonies of witnesses that respondent would shout at complainant and would crack
green jokes towards her:
"Damdamin kong sumusumpling pilit kong itinatago
Sa malalakas na mga tinig asik at mga biro
Ngunit kung nag-iisa puso ko'y nagdurugo
Hinahanap ng puso ko ang maganda mong anyo.
"The fifth stanza jibes with complainant's testimony that respondent gave her an
unexpected kiss on at least two occasions:
"Bawat patak ng luha ko'y mga butil ng pag-ibig
Na siya kong kalasag sa pagnanakaw ng halik
Sa pisngi mo aking mahal, aking nilalangit
Patak ng ulan -- sa buhay kong tigang ang nakakawangis."
"Finally, the fourth and last paragraphs of the poem provides the context of the
lascivious acts committed by respondent against complainant on 6 December 1995:
"Sawingpalad na pagibig nabigong pangarap
Na ikaw ay maangkin, mahagkan at mayakap
Pag-ibig mo'y ibinigay sa higit na mapalad
Ako ngayo'y naririto bigong-bigong umiiyak."
Kapalaran ay malupit, di kita makatalik
Sa ngayon o bukas pagkat di mo ibig
Aangkinin kita kahit sa panaginip
Gano'n kita kamahal Joy, aking pag- ibig."
(Complainant's Memorandum, pp. 32-33)
Complainant found the poem repulsive (obscene) particularly the line saying
"Kapalaran ay malupit, di kita makatalik sa ngayon at bukas pagkat di mo ibig." In her
testimony, complainant said she considered the poem malicious because they were
both married persons, and he was a judge and she was his subordinate. Although
outraged, complainant respectfully asked permission to leave while putting the poem
in the pocket of her blazer. She then proceeded towards the outer room where she
was surprised to find the door closed and the chair holding it open now barricaded
it. The knob's button was now in a vertical position signifying that door was locked.
Complainant was removing the chair when respondent walked to her in big strides
asking her for a kiss. Seconds later he was embracing her and trying to kiss
her. Complainant evaded and struggled and pushed respondent away. Then
panicking, she ran in the direction of the filing cabinets. Respondent caught up with
her, embraced her again, pinned her against the filing cabinets and pressed the lower
part of his body against hers. Complainant screamed for help while resisting and
pushing respondent. Then she ran for the open windows of the inner room. But
before she could reach it respondent again caught her. In the ensuing struggle,
complainant slipped and fell on the floor, her elbows supporting the upper part of her
body while her legs were outstretched between respondent's feet. Respondent then
bent his knees in a somewhat sitting (squatting) position, placed his palms on either
side of her head and kissed her on the mouth with his mouth open and his tongue
sticking out. As complainant continued to struggle, respondent suddenly stopped and
sat on the chair nearest the door of the inner room with his face red and breathing
heavily. Complainant angrily shouted "maniac, demonyo, bastos, napakawalanghiya
ninyo". Respondent kept muttering "I love you" and was very apologetic offering for
his driver to take her home. Complainant headed for the Maple Room where, when
she entered, she was observed by Bernardo Taruc and Yolanda Valencia to be flushed
in the face and with her hair disheveled. Yolanda particularly found surprising
complainant's disheveled hair because complainant considered her (long straight) hair
one of her assets and was always arranging it. Rosanna Garcia in her testimony
observed that complainant was really angry as shown by the way she grabbed her bag
"talagang galit."
It is to be noted that Mrs. Rosanna Garcia, 36, was a most reluctant witness. When
first subpoenaed, she did not appear and sent a medical certificate (p. 120, Record)
that she was suffering from hypertension. She testified that she was asked by
respondent to sign an affidavit (Exh. F, pp. 56-57, Record) prepared by him and that
eventually, she executed a Sinumpaang Salaysay in her own handwriting (Exh. G)
wherein she stated that some of the statements in her earlier affidavit were false and
that she was only forced to sign because respondent shouted at her when she refused;
that she was afraid of respondent who was her boss. She corroborated complainant's
declaration that respondent went to the door of the Maple Room in order to call her
(complainant), adding that his call could not be made from his office because he could
not be heard as his office was far from the Maple Room. T his is in direct contrast to
respondent's testimony that he did not summon complainant but she came to him to
get the poem that she asked him to make for her.
When complainant angrily left the Maple Room, Yolanda Valencia followed and
walked with her outside. On the road, complainant told Valencia "napakawalanghiya
ni Judge, bastos, demonyo" and vowed that she would tell her family about what
respondent did to her so that her father would maul him. As testified by Yolanda
Valencia, complainant was so angry "nagdadabog talaga siya" (TSN, March 19, 1996,
p. 194). But as they were already on the road, complainant did not tell Valencia what
happened.
The next day complainant related her experience to Bernardo Taruc with whom she
rode to the office. As testified by Taruc:
"A She was telling me about the incident which happened that afternoon of December 6,
1995.
Q Can you tell us what she told you about the December 6, 1995 incident?
A She told me that she was kissed by the Judge inside his office.
Q What else did she tell you, if any?
A She said that she was pushed on the floor and she was very disorganized in relating
the incident it was as if she was trying to say all things at the same time. But what I got
from her was that she was kissed by the Judge in the office on December 6 on the lips
and she was fuming mad.
Q What was your reaction when you heard that from Atty. Talens-Dabot?
A I was . . . I was shocked . . . I don't know the proper term. I was shocked.
Q What did you say or do upon learning the incident?
A When she later on was pacified, she asked me, 'what am I going to do? Am I going to
press charges?'
Q What did you say?
A I told her it is up to her and before doing it she has to weigh all things, the
consequences if she would file a case.
Q Was that the end of the conversation?
A No, she kept on retelling it all over again till we reach the office."
(TSN, March 20, 1966, pp. 127-128).
Complainant also related what happened to witness Atty. Elenita Quinsay but, as
testified by Atty. Quinsay, complainant did not want anybody (else) to know about the
kissing incident at that point. Atty. Quinsay advised complainant to talk with
respondent and ask for a transfer.
On December 12, 1995 complainant went to the Hall of Justice where respondent was,
and as he was about to board his car, approached him and verbally broached her
request for transfer. He acceded. Thus in the morning of December 18, 1995,
complainant brought her written request for transfer dated December 12, 1995 (Exh.
N) for respondent's signature, reminding him of his earlier verbal approval. He
refused saying he needed her for two (2) administrative cases that he was
investigating. When she insisted, he shouted at her saying it was his decision and had
to be obeyed. However, he eventually signed the memorandum (Exh. O) transferring
her later that morning.
Two days later, on December 20, 1995, complainant, after consulting her family,
reported the matter to the police and filed with the Municipal Trial Court of San
Fernando, Pampanga criminal cases for acts of lasciviousness (Exh. 3), Violation of
Anti-Sexual Harassment Law (Exh. 5) and this administrative case the following day.
For his part, respondent mostly denied complainant's allegations. He presented his
version of some specific incidents or conduct such as that he was merely imitating
complainant's gesture with her forefinger as she nervously introduced her boyfriend to
him. He admitted that he kissed her ("November incident was not the first but it was
the last") and other female employees; admitted the pre-wedding incident where he
told Mrs. Leander "tanga ka kasi" but said it was only a joke; admitted that his voice
is louder than others but he does not shout; admitted that he tells green but "never
vulgar" jokes. Denying Marilyn Leander's allegations and disclaiming any knowledge
of Exhs. A to E, he described Leander as a "very young funny person, always
laughing." In his testimony he never showed why Marilyn Leander, Rosanna Garcia
or Yolanda Valencia would testify against him to corroborate complainant's
testimony, reserving his venom for Bernardo Taruc. He said Taruc's research work
were "not usable. He insinuated that Taruc perjured himself because he was jealous
about Marilyn Leander with whom he (Taruc) has a relationship.
He declared that nothing happened on December 6, that it was complainant who
entered his room to get the poem she herself asked him to make. He called the
December 6 incident a "mere fabrication" of complainant in vengeful retaliation of
four (4) incident that he either scolded or humiliated her namely: in September 1995
when he reminded, but did not scold, her to report to Branch 43; in November 1995
when he reproached her for not reflecting in her Certificate of Service that she had
gone to Hongkong; in the first week of December 1995 when she committed an error
in the notice for a judges' meeting; and finally on December 18, 1995, when he
scolded her for insisting to allow her to return to the Office of the Clerk of Court. He
asserted that he never noticed any change of complainant's behavior towards him and
that he was never attracted to her.
He dismissed the poem marked Exhibit "M" as nothing more than an intellectual
creation "too apocryphal to be true", that it was exaggerated and meant only to praise
and entertain complainant. He declared that he had in fact written other poems (Exhs.
25 to 30) including the one published through a certain Fred Roxas (Exh.
25). Belying the kissing incident, he contended that there had been a gardener
working at 3:00 to 5:00 that afternoon on the lawn just outside the window of his
office, implying that if indeed complainant had screamed, it would have been heard
by the gardener. But it is to be noted that this alleged gardener was never presented.
(pp. 11-31, Report and Recommendation)
Based on the foregoing findings, the Investigating Justice made the
following conclusions: a) that there is sufficient evidence to create a moral
certainty that respondent committed the acts complained of, especially the
violent kissing incident which transpired last December 6, 1995; b) that
complainant and her witnesses are credible witnesses who have no ulterior
motive or bias to falsely testify against respondent; c) that respondent's
denials can not prevail over the weight and probative value of the affirmative
assertions of complainant and her witnesses; d) that respondent's poem has
damned him, being documented proof of his sexual intentions towards the
complainant; e) that by filing her charges imputing to respondent a crime
against chastity and with her background as a lawyer and a court employee,
complainant was well-aware that her honor would itself be on trial; f) that it is
unbelievable that complainant, a demure newly-married lady and a religious
person, would fabricate a story with such severe implications on respondent's
professional and personal life just to get even with respondent for an alleged
simple scolding incident; and g) that by doing the acts complained of,
respondent has tempted the morals of not only complainant but also the other
court employees over whom he exercised power and influence as Executive
Judge. The Investigating Justice thereupon, recommended that respondent
be dismissed from the service with prejudice to re-appointment in any other
government position and with forfeiture of all benefits and privileges
appertaining him, if any.
The Court has reviewed the record of this case and has thereby satisfied
itself that the findings and recommendations of the Investigating Justice are in
truth adequately supported by the evidence and are in accord with applicable
legal principles. The Court agrees and adopts such findings and
recommendations.
The integrity of the Judiciary rests not only upon the fact that it is able to
administer justice but also upon the perception and confidence of the
community that the people who run the system have done justice. At times,
the strict manner by which we apply the law may, in fact, do justice but may
not necessarily create confidence among the people that justice, indeed, is
served. Hence, in order to create such confidence, the people who run the
judiciary, particularly judges and justices, must not only be proficient in both
the substantive and procedural aspects of the law, but more importantly, they
must possess the highest integrity, probity, and unquestionable moral
uprightness, both in their public and private lives. Only then can the people
be reassured that the wheels of justice in this country run with fairness and
equity, thus creating confidence in the judicial system.
With the avowed objective of promoting confidence in the Judiciary, we
have the following provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct:
Canon I
Rule 1.01: A Judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity and
independence.
Canon II
Rule 2.00: A Judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in
all activities.
Rule 2.01: A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence
in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
The Court has adhered and set forth the exacting standards of morality
and decency which every member of the judiciary must observe (Sicat vs.
Alcantara, 161 SCRA 284 [1988]). A magistrate is judged not only by his
official acts but also by his private morals, to the extent that such private
morals are externalized (Junio vs. Rivera, 225 SCRA 688 [1993]). He should
not only possess proficiency in law but should likewise possess moral integrity
for the people look up to him as a virtuous and upright man.
In Dy Teban Hardware and Auto Supply Co. vs. Tapucar (102 SCRA 493
[1981]), the Court laid down the rationale why every judge must possess
moral integrity, thusly;
The personal and official actuations of every member of the judiciary must
be beyond reproach and above suspicion. The faith and confidence of the
people in the administration of justice can not be maintained if a judge who
dispenses it is not equipped with the cardinal judicial virtue of moral integrity
and if he obtusely continues to commit affront to public decency. In fact,
moral integrity is more than a virtue; it is a necessity in the judiciary.
(at p. 504.)
In Castillo vs. Calanog (199 SCRA 75 [1991]), it was emphasized that:
The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of a judge must be free of a
whiff of impropriety not only with respect to his performance of his judicial duties,
but also to his behavior outside his sala and as a private individual. There is no
dichotomy of morality; a public official is also judged by his private morals. The
Code dictates that a judge, in order to promote public confidence in the integrity and
impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times. As we have very
recently explained, a judge's official life can not simply be detached or separated from
his personal existence. Thus:
Being the subject of constant public scrutiny, a judge should freely and willingly
accept restrictions on conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary
citizen.
A judge should personify integrity and exemplify honest public service. The personal
behavior of a judge, both in the performance of his official duties and in private life
should be above suspicion.
(at p. 93.)
Respondent has failed to measure up to these exacting standards. He
has behaved in a manner unbecoming of a judge and as model of moral
uprightness. He has betrayed the people's high expectations and diminished
the esteem in which they hold the judiciary in general.
We need not repeat the narration of lewd and lustful acts committed by
respondent judge in order to conclude that he is indeed unworthy to remain in
office. The audacity under which the same were committed and the seeming
impunity with which they were perpetrated shock our sense of morality. All
roads lead us to the conclusion that respondent judge has failed to behave in
a manner that will promote confidence in the judiciary. His actuations, if
condoned, would damage the integrity of the judiciary, fomenting distrust in
the system. Hence, his acts deserve no less than the severest form of
disciplinary sanction of dismissal from the service.
The actuations of respondent are aggravated by the fact that complainant
is one of his subordinates over whom he exercises control and supervision, he
being the executive judge. He took advantage of his position and power in
order to carry out his lustful and lascivious desires. Instead of he being in loco
parentis over his subordinate employees, respondent was the one who preyed
on them, taking advantage of his superior position.
Noteworthy then is the following observation of the Investigating Justice:
But the very act of forcing himself upon a married woman, being himself a married
man, clearly diverts from the standard of morality expected of a man of less than his
standing in society. This is exacerbated by the fact that by doing the acts complained
of, he has tempted the morals of not only the complainant but also the young Mrs.
Marilyn Leander and the other employees in the court over whom he exercised power
and influence as Executive Judge.
(pp. 36-37.)
Respondent may indeed be a legally competent person as evidenced by
his published law books (translations from English to Tagalog) and his legal
studies abroad, but he has demonstrated himself to be wanting of moral
integrity. He has violated the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires every
judge to be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence and
to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities as to
promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
Having tarnished the image of the Judiciary, respondent, the Court holds
without any hesitation, must be meted out the severest form of disciplinary
sanction -- dismissal from the service.
As a reminder to all judges, it is fitting to reiterate one of the mandates of
the Court in its Circular No. 13 dated July 1, 1987, to wit:
Finally, all trial judges should endeavor to conduct themselves strictly in accordance
with the mandate of existing laws and the Code of Judicial Ethics that they be
exemplars in the communities and the living personification of justice and the Rule of
Law.
WHEREFORE, Judge Hermin E. Arceo is hereby DISMISSED from the
service for gross misconduct and immorality prejudicial to the best interests of
the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and with prejudice to re-
employment in any branch of the government, including government-owned
and controlled corporations.
SO ORDERED.









EN BANC
[A.M. No. MTJ 98-1168. April 21, 1999]
LUALHATI M. LIWANAG, complainant, vs. JUDGE PATERNO H.
LUSTRE, Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial Court, Calamba,
Laguna, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
QUISUMBING, J .:
On September 19, 1995, complainant Lualhati M. Liwanag sent a letter to the
Court
[1]
praying that respondent Judge Paterno H. Lustre be dismissed from the service
due to gross immorality and grave misconduct unbecoming of his
profession.
[2]
Attached to her letter was a sworn statement,
reproduced verbatim hereunder, which details how respondent allegedly molested her
sexually.
SWORN STATEMENT
I, LUWALHATI LIWANAG, of legal age, Filipino and a resident of Karunungan
Road, Pamana Homes, Calamba, Laguna, after being duly sworn, according
to law, hereby depose and state:
1. Prior to July, 1994, my husband, Jose B. Zafra filed twelve (12) counts of violation of
B.P. 22 against Oscar Chua, Dante Chua and Rowena Chua for issuing checks
amounting to approximately 3.5 million pesos, that were dishonored when presented
for payment.
2. On July 22, 1994, the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Laguna filed twelve (12)
informations for violation of BP 22 against Oscar Chua, Dante Chua and Rowena
Chua, charging each of them with three (3) counts of Violation of BP 22. Copies of
the informations are hereto attached for reference.
3. The said cases were assigned at the Municipal Trial Court of Calamba, Laguna
presided by Judge Paterno Lustre.
4. After the informations were filed, the accused posted bail. However, their
arraignment were (sic) postponed several times at the instance of the accused.
5. The case was set for hearing for November 16, 1994. However, when the date
came, Judge Lustre was not present. Hence, the hearing was reset to December
15, 1994.
6. On November 17, 1994 at about 8:30 A.M., I went to see Judge Lustre at his
chamber to inquire about the case filed by my husband, why the accused have not
yet been arraigned. At that point, I asked Judge Lustre if it is possible to schedule
hearings in January and February, 1995 and every month thereafter and to order
the arraignment of the accused. He responded in the affirmative and told me to
come back after the hearing on December 15, 1994, at about 7:00 A.M. in his
chamber.
7. The date of the hearing arrived, Dec. 15, 1994 at 1:30 P.M. The representative of
Atty. Buted, counsel for the accused, arrived with a Motion to Transfer the
scheduled hearing. Judge Lustre then reset the hearing on Jan. 17, Feb. 1, 9 and
23, 1995.
8. As requested, on December 16, 1994, one day after the hearing, at about 7:00 A.M.,
I went to see Judge Lustre at his chamber. There, he told me that he prepared an
order for the accused. I thanked him and I told him that if the accused will pay us,
my husband and I will give him five (5%) percent of it as token of gratitude. At that
point, he stood up and told me he does not need money. While he was giving me a
copy of the order, he touched my shoulder, down to my breast. I froze and could
not do anything. He was telling me that he acceded to my request. Later, he told
me that he is available during Mondays and Fridays as there are no scheduled
hearings and for me to come back to him before the hearing on January 17, 1995.
9. I did not go back to see Judge Lustre as per his request before the hearing on Jan.
17, 1995 because of what he did to me, he took advantage of the situation to molest
me.
10. Came the date of the hearing on Jan. 17, 1995. Despite the previous order setting
the case for hearing for Feb. 1, 9 and 23, 1995, he cancelled hearings on all dates
as per request of the counsel for the accused. Instead, he reset the same on Feb.
22, 28 and March 7, 1995.
11. When the hearing on Feb. 22, 1995 came, Judge Lustre cancelled the one set on
Feb. 28, 1995.
12. By the way things were going, I could sense that Judge Lustre is delaying the case,
granting postponement after postponement, despite objections from our
lawyer. The case was already dragging and nothing was happening. We were
running out of money and we needed to have the case terminated right away in
order to get paid for the money the accused have swindled us. Because of this
dilemma, I decided to see Judge Lustre.
13. On March 6, 1995, Monday, at about 10:00 A.M., I went to see Judge Lustre. I
asked him why he cancelled the hearings. He responded that I fooled him since I
did not come to him as per his request, whereas he acceded to my earlier
request. He then told me that I must obey his wishes if I want our case to go
smoothly since he is the only one who will decide our cases. After that, he told me
that he was already free and for me to wait for him outside the courtroom. We
boarded his white Toyota car, with Plate No. PLN-513 and he brought me to
Canlubang Tollway. While in the car, he kissed me on the lips and caressed my
breast. I was repulsed and disgusted but I could not do anything since our cases
are with him and he was deliberately delaying the hearings. At that instant, I told him
to set hearings for April and May, 1995 since according to his staff, there would be
no hearings in May and in April. He told me, he will take care of it and ordered me
to come to his office on March 13, 1995 at 7:00 A.M. and we will talk about the
settings.
14. On March 13, 1995, Monday, as ordered, I went to see Judge Lustre at his office at
around 7:10 A.M. There was no one there except him. I saw him waiting just
outside his chamber. He ushered me inside, but I had barely entered the room,
when he kissed me on the lips and caressed my body, particularly my breast. He
exposed his penis and ordered me to masturbate him. I could not do anything but
obey. There was a fluid that oozed from his penis, which was somewhat bloody. I
felt dirty. While doing that, he told me to tell my lawyer to file a motion to set hearing
for April and May, 1995. He then asked me to go with him to Laguna de Bay Inn. I
refused, he got angry. He retorted that the fate of our case is on his hands and told
me to see him on March 23, 1995 at 7:00 A.M. at Laguna de Bay Inn in Sucat since
his house is near the area.
15. After that, my lawyer filed a Motion to Set Case for Hearing. But I did not go and
see Judge Lustre at Laguna de Bay Inn. Thus, on March 28, 1995 hearing, no
schedule was set for April and May. Instead, he made the setting in June, 1995.
16. On April 10, 1995 I received a new subpoena for pre-trial and arraignment of the
new cases we filed, scheduling the same for May 3, 1995. The following day, April
11, Tuesday, I went to see Judge Lustre to inquire why our case was not scheduled
on May 3, at any rate, there is arraignment of our new case filed on the same
date. He responded that he was early at Laguna de Bay Inn on March 23, and he
waited for me at 7:00 A.M. but I did not come. He told me not to fool him, "masama
daw siyang magalit."
17. The June 6 hearing proceeded, that of June 13 was cancelled at the instance of the
accused's lawyer.
18. On June 15, 1995, Thursday, at around 7:00 A.M., I went to Judge Lustre in his
office because I was told that our next hearing would be in September despite
previous settings. I requested Judge Lustre to give us monthly hearings, in July and
August. He told me that he would oblige if I would follow his wishes. As he was
saying that, he was already touching my breast. He exposed his penis at told me to
perform "fellatio." I refused. I was then told to return the following day, the same
time and he will wait for me.
19. I came back on June 16, around 7:00 A.M. As ordered, I proceeded to the
Calamba Church to wait for Judge Lustre. He fetch (sic) me from there on board his
white Toyota car and he brought me to Riverview Resort and Sports Complex in
Crossing, Calamba, Laguna. I could not refuse because of the threat about our
case. Inside the room at Riverview, he told me there will be a setting for July and
August. Then he undressed himself and ordered me to do the same. I knew I was
selling myself to the devil but our blood money is at stake. It is for the future of my
son and I was willing to do anything for my family. Perhaps I was too stupid to do it,
but at that time, I felt helpless. He ordered me to perform "fellatio" on him and I
obeyed. There was blood that oozed from his penis. I also saw black rashes on his
body, especially on his legs. Before we left, he told me to see him again on July 10
in his office.
20. On June 23, 1995, the same thing happened. I went to his office at 7:00 A.M.
Judge Lustre brought me to Riverview Resort and Sports Complex and I was again
ordered to perform "fellatio" on him.
21. The June 28 hearing proceeded. But I did not go and see Judge Lustre on July 10
as requested. I just called him and presented an alibi. He told me to just come the
following day, July 11 at 7:00 A.M. at Jollibee, Calamba and he will wait for me. As
parting words, he told me not to fool him.
22. I did not see him on July 11 because I already felt so dirty and used. I never
realized before I was capable of doing such a thing for my family, until the time
came. But I could not take it anymore.
23. On July 27, the hearing proceeded. But the previous schedules were cancelled
and instead hearing was set in November, 1995.
24. On August 15, 1995 at 7:00 A.M., I went to his office to get an order for the referral
of the specimen signatures of Rowena Chua to the NBI. Again, he kissed me and
touched me. I could not refuse for fear of retaliation.
25. I could see that Judge Paterno H. Lustre is deliberately delaying the prosecution of
our cases to prolong his abusive acts towards me. As can be seen from the
transcript of the hearings, he is not leaning in our favor. What we are asking only is
for the continuous setting of the trial because we cannot afford a long drawn out
proceedings. But instead, he is delaying the trial. He has even shown hostility
towards my husband when he was testifying and towards my lawyer, allegedly
because he was jealous.
26. This kind of judge gives the judiciary a bad name. There must be a stop to this evil
doings. I am not the only victim of Judge Lustre. I know at least two (2) other
women who are similarly situated are being used and abused by him. But they do
not want to complain because of fear and the possible consequence to their
cases. As for me, I am emboldened by disgust and frustration. I now seek the
intervention of the Honorable Supreme Court to give justice to the victims and rid
the judiciary of the likes of Judge Paterno H. Lustre.
27. I know the shame I have to bear but I have to expose the wrong doings of a judge
who is supposed to uphold the law and morality. But instead, he preys on hapless
and those who are not learned in law as his victims.
28. What I have narrated here are true, which I would never have revealed were it not
for my better sense of judgment. I know I made a mistake by becoming a willing
victim. But I did it for my family as I thought that is the only way I can help my
husband get back his money for our future.
[3]

Apart from the letter and the sworn statement, complainant also sent the Court 11
photographs showing her and respondent together in various places. Five of these
were allegedly taken at the Riverview Resort in Calamba, Laguna. She also submitted a
receipt issued by said resort dated June 23, 1995 and two transcripts of phone
conversations she had with respondent.
[4]

Respondents defense is anchored on denial. In a 2
nd
Indorsement
[5]
he sent to
the Court, by way of answer to the complaint, he strongly denie(d)
[6]
the charges
leveled against him and dismissed them as the vile products of (complainant's)
malicious and prejudiced mind.
[7]
According to him, complainant and her common-law
husband thought of filing charges against him when he refused to bend to, and
accommodate, (their) haughty and arrogant demands to hastily schedule, try
continuously, finish and decide arbitrarily within a very short period of time
[8]
the B.P. 22
(Bouncing Checks Law) cases filed by complainants husband. The complaint was,
according to respondent, likewise prompted by respondents refusal to accept
complainants offer to reward him with five percent of the P3.5 million her husband
seeks to recover.
Respondent claimed that he could not have been in his chambers as early as 7:00
in the morning as alleged by complainant since he usually arrives for work some five to
ten minutes before 8:00 in the morning. Moreover, he said the door to his room is never
locked -- thus, the impossibility of him engaging in illicit sexual conduct within its
confines -- since the only comfort room in the courtroom is inside his room and anyone
who wants to use it may enter his room freely.
Respondent further pointed out that at age 67, with a heart ailment and diabetes,
(s)ex is beyond (his) physical capacity.
[9]
He said he is no longer capable of what ordinary
men indulge in, lest (he) die in the attempt.
[10]
He sought the dismissal of the complaint
filed against him.
In support of his claims, respondent submitted the following documentary
evidence: (1) affidavit executed by Rodelio A. Alcaraz, a utility worker, stating that
respondent usually arrives at the office at 7:45 in the morning; (2)affidavit executed by
Atty. Benjamin A. Alonzo, Sr., a private practitioner based in Calamba, attesting to
respondents fine work ethics and moral uprightness; and (3) certification from Dr. Elmer
S. Sayoc stating that respondent is being treated for coronary artery diseases, atrial
fibrillation, and diabetes mellitus.
[11]

In response to respondents averments, complainant alleged that respondent had
set their meetings at 7:00 in the morning since he knew that nobody from his staff
reported for work that early. She said respondent was very particular about the time
she left his office, which must be before 7:30 in the morning. As for respondents health
condition, complainant pointed out that, indeed, he did not engage in sexual intercourse
with her but only engaged in foreplay and asked her to perform oral sex on him; and
while diabetes might have diminished respondents sexual urge, it did not totally erase
the same.
[12]

In a resolution dated January 17, 1996, this Court resolved to refer the matter to
Judge Norberto Geraldez, Executive Judge, Regional Trial Court, Calamba, Laguna, for
investigation, report and recommendation. In the same resolution, respondent was
directed to inhibit himself from hearing the B.P. 22 cases filed by complainants
husband.
On January 8, 1997, Judge Geraldez requested that he be allowed to inhibit himself
from hearing the case because complainant raised the matter of his friendship with
respondent.
[13]
The Court, however, in a Resolution dated June 9, 1997, denied his
request and directed him to resolve the case with dispatch.
[14]

In his report dated October 6, 1997, Judge Geraldez recommended dismissal of the
complaint against respondent since complainant failed to establish his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.
Judge Geraldez observed that:
In the B.P. 22 cases pending before Judge Lustre, Jose Zafra was never
assured that he could recover the amount of P3.5 million even if the sexual
demands were satisfied. Jose Zafra and Ms. Liwanag were aware of
this. Consequently, it is surprising why the complainant, no matter how
desperate she may have been, would submit to oral sex. And, why Jose
Zafra allowed it.
The B.P. 22 cases are simply not classic cases where the courts decision
would be so vital, that the judge can demand his price.
There is a rather large disparity in the value of the B.P. 22 cases vis-a-vis
the seriousness and mess of the sexual demand. Ms. Liwanags allegations
are beyond comprehension. It borders on the very credibility of the sexual
allegations. This is specially true with respect to the allegations of oral sex
with its blood secretions. And, according to her she did it more than once. If
indeed there were blood secretions the first time, the claim of a second time
is beyond relief (sic).
Ms. Liwanag claimed that Judge Lustre, on August 15, 1995, simply kissed
and touched her. But human nature would demand another oral sex as they
had done before. Moreover, in her complaint dated September 19, 1995, Ms.
Liwanag failed to advance any reason why they stopped at oral sex.
[15]

Judge Geraldez concluded that the evidence presented by complainant is not
credible in itself.
Moreover, Judge Geraldez pointed out that complainant merely relied on the
photographs showing her and respondent together, which, however, do not
establish the acts complained of. Despite having the opportunity to do so,
according to the report, complainant failed to testify to substantiate her claims,
thereby depriving respondent of his right to cross-examine her.
Judge Geraldez recommended that the complaint be dismissed for lack of
evidence.
The Court thereafter referred the case to the Office of the Court Administrator
(OCA) for evaluation, report, and recommendation.
The OCA, in its Memorandum dated September 1, 1998, took a position
directly opposite that of Judge Geraldez.
The OCA noted that:
xxx we cannot help discerning here an effort to gloss over a charge against
respondent which the investigating judge himself admitted to be serious. His
investigative work and his subsequent report reveal a perfunctory treatment
and analysis of the submissions of the parties, particularly the complainant
herein, and an egregious misapplication of the law and jurisprudence.
x x x
We find credible the allegations of complainant Lualhati M. Liwanag. Her
narration bears the earmarks of truth, for the incidents giving rise to the acts
complained of are so finely etched by her as to preclude any suspicion of wild
imagining or other similar fictive handiwork. It is an essential baring of rage,
revulsion and disgust: xxx
The OCA recommended that the case be formally docketed as an administrative
complaint and that respondent be dismissed from the service with forfeiture of all
retirement benefits and with prejudice to reemployment in any branch of the
government, including government-owned and -controlled corporations.
Clearly, we have to review the records of this case for a comprehensive view of the
entire controversy. Moreover, it is essential to lay stress on basic canons of conduct
applicable to judges, in whatever level of the judicial hierarchy they may be.
As a rule, proof beyond reasonable doubt is not necessary in
deciding administrative cases. Only substantial evidence is required,
[16]
as clearly provided
for under Rule 133 of the Revised Rules of Evidence:
[17]

Sec 5. Substantial evidence. -- In cases filed before administrative or quasi-
judicial bodies, a fact may be deemed established if it is supported by
substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.
Given this requirement, we find that there is enough evidence on record to
sufficiently establish complainants case against respondent.
The photographs submitted by complainant to this Court show her and respondent
in various places. The first two show them talking beside an outlet of Andoks Litson
Manok, another shows respondents car parked by a sidewalk, its front passenger door
open. The car is seen leaving in the next photograph. In the next two photographs, the
car is seen in the driveway of what appears to be one of a row of rooms. On top of this
rooms doorway is the letter "D". Next are five photographs which show complainant
and respondent coming out of the room together and heading towards respondents
parked car.
[18]

Complainant claims that the photographs were taken when respondent took her to
the Riverview Resort in Calamba, Laguna.
In a Manifestation dated September 2, 1996, respondent pointed out that nothing
indecent is portrayed in the photographs. They did not show any act constituting
immorality or grave misconduct. He denied that the pictures showing him and
complainant leaving a room together were taken at the Riverview Resort. He added
that the receipt issued by the resort did not indicate that he was with complainant at said
resort.
Respondent took his own set of photographs at the Riverview Resort.
[19]
On the basis
of his own pictures, he concluded that complainants photographs could not have been taken at that
resort. When he testified on his behalf, he said:
" when I went to the place those letters were not there, I have photographs
there because I personally went there to have these photographs but this (sic)
sign boards were not there, sir."
[20]

A sign prohibiting vandalism, noticeable in complainant's pictures, was missing in
respondents pictures.
Respondent avers that the real intention of complainant in filing the complaint --
which she has denied -- is to extort money from him as she allegedly made an
outrageous demand
[21]
for P3.5 million to settle the case.
We are not convinced, however, that respondents conduct in this case is entirely
blameless, nor that complainants alleged intent would excuse respondents
wrongdoing.
It is true that the pictures do not show respondent and complainant actually
engaging in any form of sexual congress. However, this is understandable since by their
very nature, such acts are not proper subjects of photographs. Often, as in this case,
what is available to us is only the narration of the parties involved.
Respondent denies that the photographs were taken at Riverview. He took pictures
of the resort himself to prove his contention. He said his pictures are different from
those of complainants.
We note, however, that respondent does not deny that he is the one appearing with
complainant in the photographs. He conveniently testified that somebody else had
posed for the photograph,
[22]
but this is obviously an afterthought. Respondent made
this assertion almost a year after complainant filed her complaint. He could have done
it as early as October 1995 in his comment to complainants charges.
If the pictures were not taken at Riverview, where were they taken and why was
respondent with complainant at that time? If, indeed, there was a legitimate reason for
complainant and respondent to be seen together at the time and place depicted in the
photographs, respondent would have wasted no time explaining where they were taken
and under what circumstances, in order to extricate himself from his present
predicament. This, he failed to do. The reason for this, we believe, is that he could not
simply offer any plausible explanation why he was seen with complainant coming out of
what is apparently a private room.
Respondent claims that the charges hurled against him are products of
complainants vindictiveness. Again, this claim raises more questions than it
answers. It opens the door to undue speculation. Thus, why should she resent his
actions? Was it only because of repeated postponements of the hearing of her cases?
Complainant may have harbored ill feelings towards respondent due to the
unjustifiable delays in the hearing of their B.P. 22 cases. But would she falsely accuse
respondent with sexual molestation only to get back at him? This goes against the
grain of human nature and therefore unlikely. She should know that by revealing her
sexual misadventures with respondent, graphically describing each and every detail,
she would only be exposing herself and her family to shame and ridicule. She would
stand to gain nothing from the exercise, save the hope that her dignity may somehow
be vindicated in the process.
As for complainants failure to testify on her own behalf, this is of no
moment. Complainants affidavit stands in lieu of her testimony; the investigating judge
even had her re-subscribe and re-affirm her sworn statement and let the same be
adopted as part of complainants evidence.
[23]

Complainant could have been cross-examined based on her affidavit. That she was
not cross-examined by respondent is not her fault but respondents.
As the records now stand, we are constrained to agree with the Court
Administrators assessment that respondent has failed to live up to the high standard of
conduct required of members of the bench. He grossly violated his duty to uphold the
integrity of the judiciary and to avoid impropriety not only in his public but in his private
life as well.
[24]
All to the grave prejudice of the administration of justice, indeed.
The Court cannot countenance any act or omission, on the part of the officials at
every level in the administration of justice, which erodes rather than enhances the
publics faith and trust in the judiciary. Respondents disgraceful conduct surely merits
sanctions even if he has already retired as of November 1, 1998.
[25]
For the serious
misconduct of respondent, the penalty provided for in Rule 140, Section 10, of the Rules
of Court, by way of fine in the maximum amount should be imposed.
[26]

We are not in accord with the OCAs recommendation, however, as regards
forfeiture of all retirement benefits due respondent. We note that implementation of this
penalty, while directed at respondent, might adversely affect innocent members of his
family, who are dependent on him and his retirement gratuity. It is our considered view
that, given the circumstances of this case, the maximum fine of P40,000.00 would be
sufficient penalty.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we hereby find respondent GUILTY of
gross misconduct. As he has already retired from the service and thus could no longer
be dismissed nor suspended, we hereby order that a FINE of P40,000.00 be imposed
upon him, to be deducted from his retirement benefits. Further, he is hereby barred
from any employment in all branches of the government including government-owned
and -controlled corporations.
SO ORDERED.
EN BANC
[G.R. No. 138805. February 28, 2001]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. EDGARDO
MACEDA, accused-appellant.
D E C I S I O N
MENDOZA, J .:
For review is the decision
[1]
of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 76, Quezon City,
finding accused-appellant Edgardo Maceda guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
rape of Maribeth Quinto, a mental retardate, and sentencing him to death and to pay
the victim the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages plus the costs of the suit.
The information against accused-appellant alleged
That on or about the 19th day of February, 1998, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said
accused, by means of force and intimidation, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously drag one MARIBETH QUINTO y ARMAZA, into the room of the
latters house at Group 5, Area B. Barangay Payatas, this City, and once inside,
undressed her and thereafter have carnal knowledge with the said MARIBETH
QUINTO y ARMAZA, a retarded, against her will and without her consent.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
[2]

Upon being arraigned, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge,
whereupon he was tried. The prosecution presented complainant Maribeth Quinto,
her mother Editha Quinto, and Medico-Legal Officer Emmanuel Reyes, as its
witnesses, while the defense presented accused-appellant, his sister Rosa Dantes, and
his cousin Owen Santos.
The prosecution evidence established the following facts:
Complainant Maribeth Quinto is a 32-year old mental retardate. She lived with
her mother Editha at Group 5, Area B, Payatas, Quezon City, while her siblings lived
elsewhere in the neighborhood.
In the morning of February 18, 1998, complainants mother went to wash clothes
for her employer in Camarin, Caloocan City. Complainant was left in the care of her
sister, Veronica. When night came, Veronica left the victim alone in the house as she
expected her mother to arrive soon. Editha, however, was unable to go home that
night because her employer had some problems.
[3]

Alone in the house, complainant fell asleep while waiting for her mother to
arrive. She was awakened by the barking of the dog at around 1:30 a.m. of February
19, 1998. She heard someone knocking at the door. When she went to open the door,
she found it was her neighbor, accused-appellant Edgardo Boboy Maceda, asking
where complainants youngest brother Nonoy was. When complainant answered that
her brother was not there, accused-appellant got inside the house, closed the door
behind him, and told complainant not to make any noise. Accused-appellant then
forced her to lie down and started kissing her on the lips and neck. Complainant got
scared and began to cry. Accused-appellant then pulled down her panty, spread her
legs, and had sexual intercourse with her. Afraid, complainant covered herself with a
blanket as soon as accused-appellant left.
[4]

Complainants mother arrived home at around 11 oclock in the morning on
February 19, 1998. She noticed that the victim was quiet, but, thinking that the latter
was just being moody, did not pay attention to her. After a while, complainant, who
was crying, approached her mother and told her what had happened. Describing what
she felt while being raped, complainant told her mother, tulo ng luha ko. Hirap
hirap ako. (My tears just ran down. It was very difficult for me.)
[5]

On the same day, Editha took her daughter to the barangay captain and reported
the incident. Following the advice of the barangay captain, they went to Camp Crame
and had complainant physically examined by a medico-legal officer. The following
day, February 20, 1998, Editha and complainant went to the police station and gave
their sworn statements on the basis of which accused-appellant was arrested and
detained at the Quezon City Jail.
[6]

Dr. Emmanuel Reyes, the medico-legal officer at Camp Crame, examined
complainant and found the following:
GENITAL:
On separating the same disclosed an abraded posterior fourchette and congested
vestibule and an elastic, fleshy type, and congested hymen, with deep-healed
lacerations at 3, 6 and 9 oclock positions. External vaginal orifice offers moderate
resistance to the introduction of the examining index finger. Vaginal canal is narrow
with prominent rugosities. Cervix is firm and closed.
[7]

Dr. Reyes explained that the abraded posterior fourchette and congested vestibule
were probably caused either by a rough or dry surface, such as an erect penis, or, if the
sexual intercourse was forcibly made, the absence of lubrication. He added that the
findings of an abraded posterior fourchette, congested vestibule, and hymenal
lacerations indicate that the victim is no longer a virgin. However, no spermatozoa
was found in the victims vagina. Lastly, Dr. Reyes observed an ecchymosis or a
kiss mark, located at the right lateral part of complainants neck.
[8]

Accused-appellant denied the allegations against him. He testified that he lived
with his parents and other relatives for 18 years in Area B, Group 5, Payatas, Quezon
City, about 35 meters from complainants house. Accused-appellant said he drove a
passenger jeepney everyday from 4:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., plying the Lagro-Queens
route. On the night of February 18, 1998, after arriving home from work, he rested
for 20 minutes and afterward went to sleep. He woke up the following morning at
around 4:30 a.m. and went to work.
Accused-appellant testified that the victim and her family had been his neighbors
for 15 years. In fact, the victims youngest brother, Nonoy, would sometimes
accompany him during his trips. He said that he did not have any quarrel with
complainants family, although he had some misunderstandings with Nonoys wife.
[9]

A defense witness, Owen Santos, corroborated the testimony of accused-
appellant. Santos testified that he was living with accused-appellants family at the
time of the incident. At around 9:30 p.m. on February 18, 1998, he slept beside
accused-appellant, and he was sure that the latter did not leave the house that
night. He woke up at around 4:30 a.m., took a bath, and went out with accused-
appellant.
[10]

Accused-appellants sister, Rosa Dantes, who also lived with accused-appellant
and her parents, likewise testified in his behalf. According to her, they lived in a
semi-concrete house surrounded by a 5-foot steel gate, although she slept in a room
outside their house within the compound. She testified that she was the gatekeeper in
the family. When every member of the household was already inside the house,
usually at around 9 p.m., she would close the main door and would not open it until
around 4:00 a.m. of the next day. She explained that no one could leave the house
without her permission because she alone had the key to the main door and it could
only be opened from the outside with this key. She was therefore sure that accused-
appellant did not leave the house at the time of the incident.
[11]

After the prosecution and the defense finished presenting their evidence, the trial
court rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused Edgardo Maceda guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of rape now penalized under Art. 266-A and 266-B of the Revised Penal
Code in accordance with RA 8353, with the aggravating circumstance that the
offender knew of the mental disability of the complainant Maribeth Quinto at the time
of the commission of the crime, the Court hereby imposes the death penalty on the
said accused. He is also ordered to indemnify the offended party in the amount of
P50,000.00 as moral damages and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.
[12]

Assailing the decision of the trial court, accused-appellant contends that
I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF RAPE
ABSENT ANY SHOWING THAT FORCE OR INTIMIDATION WAS EMPLOYED, OR
THAT THE MENTAL AGE OF THE COMPLAINING WITNESS WAS EQUIVALENT
TO THAT OF A GIRL BELOW TWELVE YEARS OF AGE.
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT
AT LEAST ON THE GROUND OF REASONABLE DOUBT.
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO PAY
CIVIL DAMAGES AND COSTS.
[13]

These contentions are without merit.
First. Accused-appellant puts up the defense of alibi and alleges that he was at
home sleeping at the time of the incident. To corroborate his testimony, accused-
appellants sister and his cousin testified that accused-appellant did not leave the
house on the night of February 18, 1998. However, both witnesses failed to show that
it was physically impossible for accused-appellant to have been at the place where the
incident took place at around 1:30 a.m. of February 19, 1998.
Owen admitted that although he slept in the same room as accused-appellant, he
could not say for sure that accused-appellant did not leave the house at the time of the
incident since he did not guard the latters movements that night. Owen testified
during cross-examination:
FISCAL SANTOS:
Q: You said that accused slept at about 9:30 in the evening?
A: Yes, sir.
. . . .
Q: So, if you slept at 9:30 in the evening and woke up at 4:30 a.m., you will not see if Buboy left the
house between those intervening hours because you were then sleeping?
A: He did not leave the house.
Q: How do you know that? Were you guarding him?
A: I was sleeping beside him.
Q: So, what if you were sleeping beside him? You were not guarding him?
A: No, sir.
Q: So, based on your answer that he did not leave the house, it is because you were sleeping beside
him?
A: Yes, sir.
[14]

Thus, Owen could not account for accused-appellants whereabouts during the
time that he was asleep.
Similarly, accused-appellants sister, Rosa, did not categorically state that she saw
accused-appellant inside the house on the night of February 18, 1998 until early
morning of the following day. She testified that she was the gatekeeper and that
nobody could leave the house at night without her permission. But she never stated
that accused-appellant did not leave the house at the time of the incident because the
door and the gate were locked.
Even if accused-appellant was inside the house from 9:00 p.m. on February 18,
1998 to 4:30 a.m. the following day, it is not improbable that he sneaked out of their
house that night and proceeded to complainants house, considering its proximity to
his house. As accused-appellant himself admitted, his house was only 35 meters from
complainants house.
This Court has consistently ruled:
Alibi as a means of defense is weak when not substantiated by the testimony of a
credible witness. Courts have always looked upon the defense of alibi with suspicion
and have always received it with caution not only because it is inherently weak and
unreliable but also because it is easily fabricated. Alibi as basis for acquittal must be
established with clear and convincing evidence. The accused must convincingly
demonstrate that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of the
crime at the time of its commission. And, where accused was positively identified by
the victim herself who harbored no ill motive against the rapist, as in this case, the
defense of alibi must fail.
[15]

In the case at hand, accused-appellant failed to substantiate his defense of
alibi. The testimonies of his witnesses, Owen and Rosa, are rendered suspect because
his relationship to them makes it likely that they would freely perjure themselves for
his sake. The defense of alibi may not prosper if it is established mainly by the
accused himself and his relatives, and not by credible persons.
[16]
Correctly then did
the trial court state:
Against this overwhelming evidence of the prosecution, the accused and witnesses
could only offer denials and the supposed impossibility of his having committed the
crime because the keys to the house were kept by the sister and that he could not have
gone out without her knowing it.
[17]

Second. Contrary to the claim of accused-appellant, the prosecution evidence
clearly shows that he had carnal knowledge of complainant Maribeth Quinto.
On direct examination, complainant testified:
FISCAL SANTOS:
Q: Do you know the accused in this case, [Edgardo]
[18]
Maceda alias Boboy?
A: Yes, sir. (Witness pointing to the accused)
. . . .
FISCAL SANTOS:
Q: Is the nickname of [Edgardo] Maceda, Boboy?
A: Yes, sir.
. . . .
Q: On February 19, 1998, you were in your house at about 1:30 in the morning?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Where was your mother then at the time?
A: She was working.
Q: So you were alone in your house on said date and time?
A: Yes, sir.
. . . .
Q: Why did you open the door?
A: Someone was outside the door.
Q: And who was outside the door?
A: I saw a certain person who was asking me to keep quiet.
COURT:
Witness motioning.
FISCAL SANTOS:
Q: Who was the person who motioned you to keep quiet?
A: (Witness pointing to the accused)
Q: So, you are saying the person who was outside the door motioning you to keep quiet was the
person you just identified now, [Edgardo] Maceda alias Boboy?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: So what happened after that?
A: I was raped.
Q: How were you raped?
A: He pulled down my panties and then kissed me on the lips and neck and then he inserted his penis
into my vagina.
Q: What did you feel?
A: I was afraid.
Q: What happened after that?
A: He left me and then I covered myself with a blanket.
. . . .
COURT:
Q: When your mother arrived, what did you tell your mother?
A: She arrived at noontime. I reported the incident to my mother.
FISCAL SANTOS:
Q: What did your mother tell you?
A: I was crying and I was afraid.
COURT:
Witness showing her clenched fist.
FISCAL SANTOS:
Q: What else?
A: (Witness demonstrating her reaction)
[19]

And on cross-examination, she testified:
ATTY. CATOLICO:
Q: What did he do to you?
A: He spread . . . I resisted and covered myself with a blanket and I cried.
COURT:
Q: Why were you crying? What did he do to you?
A: He was embracing me and I was afraid. He tried to remove my panties.
ATTY. CATOLICO:
Q: Did your mother teach you about what you will say here?
A: No.
Q: After that, what did Boboy do?
A: He took off my panties.
. . . .
COURT:
Q: Where was Boboy then?
A: He went home.
ATTY. CATOLICO:
Q: Who was with Boboy on that night?
A: He was alone.
[20]

Complainant never wavered when examined by the trial court:
COURT:
I want to ask the complainant some questions.
(Maribeth Quinto on clarificatory questions from the court)
Q: You will tell the truth, okay?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: Who molested you?
A: I was raped one evening.
Q: Point to the person who raped you.
A: (Witness pointed to accused Edgardo Maceda)
Q: Are you sure he was the one who raped you?
A: Ni-rape niya ako nung gabi.
Q: Are you not mistaken? Maybe it was another man who came to you that night?
A: It was him. I covered my face with a blanket.
Q: When did you cover your face?
A: I was raped that night.
Q: Do you know the meaning of rape?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: What do you do when you are raped?
A: He pulled down my panties.
Q: And then what did he do?
A: He told me to keep quiet (Witness gesturing to keep quiet)
Q: And then?
A: I covered myself with a blanket.
Q: And then?
A: He raped me that night.
Q: What do you mean by rape? What did he do to you?
A: He spread my legs.
Q: And then?
A: (Witness making a push and pull movement)
[21]

While the testimony of complainant alone is sufficient to convict accused-
appellant of rape, the corroborative testimonies of her mother and the examining
physician sealed accused-appellants fate. The mother, Editha, testified:
Q: What happened when you arrived?
A: When I arrived, I noticed my child was not speaking which was not her usual behavior. Walang
kibo.
Q: Who is the daughter of yours who you said was walang kibo?
A: Maribeth Quinto.
Q: So what did you do?
A: I noticed she was quiet and I did not mind her anymore thinking she was in one of her moods but
when I was resting, she approached me.
Q: What happened when Maribeth approached you?
A: She was crying when she told me someone knocked at the door and when she opened the door, it
was our neighbor Boboy.
Q: What else did she tell you?
A: According to her, Boboy asked her if Nonoy was sleeping and she said, Wala. Tulog siya
kabilang bahay.
. . . .
Q: What else was confided to you by Maribeth?
A: Then Boboy told her to keep quiet and pulled her into the room and closed the door.
Q: What else?
A: She was forced to lie down and he kissed her on the neck and lips and she called it kagat and
while holding her both arms, he undressed her and inserted his penis into her vagina. She called
his penis as bayag.
COURT:
Q: What else?
A: While she was crying, she was saying, Tulo ng luha ko. Hirap hirap ako and Boboy was
showing her his clenched fist.
FISCAL SANTOS
Q: You were saying while she was narrating that, she was crying, correct?
A: Yes, sir.
[22]

On cross-examination, Editha Quinto remained firm as to the identity of her
daughters assailant. Thus, she stated:
ATTY. CATOLICO:
Q: When the alleged victim confided to you about a certain Buboy who raped her, you already
concluded that that Buboy is Edgardo Maceda. Is that correct?
A: Immediately she pointed to him as the one who raped her. Siya mismo si Buboy kapatid ni
Rollie.
. . . .
Q: Aside from Buboy, do you know [any] other Buboy in that area?
A: There is no other Buboy except him.
. . . .
Q: Do you know the nickname of Edgardo Maceda, Madame witness?
A: His name is Buboy.
[23]

There is nothing in the record to show that either complainant or her mother had
any ulterior motive to falsely testify against accused-appellant. As the trial court
observed:
Considering that the complainant who can (sic) hardly make sense of what she says, it
is unimaginable that she could invent a story of rape and point to the accused with
such certainty as the perpetrator if it did not indeed happen.
[24]

Accused-appellant himself told the trial court that he never had serious
misunderstandings with the victim or her family. He said:
FISCAL SANTOS:
Q: Now, Mr. Witness, before February 19, 1998, there was no occasion whatsoever that you did
something to Maribeth Quinto that would provoke her ire?
A: No, sir, because I come home late at night.
Q: What about the immediate members of your family or the family of Maribeth Quinto, you have
not done anything untoward to them before February 19, 1998?
A: None, sir.
Q: Are you saying your relationship with the family of Maribeth Quinto was cordial?
A: It is only Abel Quinto who is my friend.
Q: Your relationship with Abel was pleasant?
A: Sometimes no because his wife sometimes get angry whenever he comes with me.
Q: But this sometimes, which you referred to, Mr. Witness, were just minor or petty manners
between friends?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: If as you say there was no untoward incident between you and Maribeth and that of her family
before February 19, 1998, and you are now professing innocence, do you know of any reason
why Maribeth would point to you as the one who raped her?
A: I do not know of any reason, sir.
[25]

Indeed, it is difficult to believe that complainant, whose intelligence is admittedly
low, could have concocted so grave a charge against accused-appellant or that she and
her mother would go into the trouble of having her medically examined and undergo
trial had she merely invented the charge.
[26]

Dr. Emmanuel Reyes findings further corroborated complainants testimony. His
medical examination showed the presence of an abraded fourchette and congested
vestibule on the victims vagina, indicating forcible entry of a hard object, possibly an
erect penis. An ecchymosis or kiss mark was also found on the victims neck. To
be sure, the results of complainants medical examination could only prove that
accused-appellant had sexual intercourse with her without her consent.
Third. Accused-appellant says that complainants mental condition rendered her
testimony so vague, uncertain, and incoherent that it cannot be understood. This is
not so. Her testimony is understandable. Nor is there any question that she is
competent to testify on what she had experienced.
Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence provide:
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications. Except as provided in the next succeeding
section, all persons who can perceive, and perceiving, can make known their
perception to another, may be witnesses.
. . . .
Sec. 21. Disqualification by reason of mental incapacity or immaturity. The
following persons cannot be witnesses:
(a) Those whose mental conditions, at the time of their production for examination, is
such that they are incapable of intelligently making known their perception to others;
. . . .
The defense and the prosecution stipulated during pre-trial that complainant is a
mental retardate. But, although the trial court observed that she had some difficulty
expressing herself, she was nonetheless able to intelligently and clearly make known
to the court, beyond dispute, that she was raped by accused-appellant. It has been
held that the mental unsoundness of the witness at the time the fact to be testified to
occurred affects only her credibility. As long as the witness can convey ideas by
words or signs and give sufficiently intelligent answers to questions propounded, she
is a competent witness even if she is a mental retardate.
[27]

Accused-appellant likewise claims that there were several inconsistencies in the
testimonies of the victim. He cites the following excerpts of complainants testimony:
COURT:
Q: What did Boboy do to you before he went home?
A: He entered our room. The door was closed.
Q: Was he able to enter the room?
A: No.
[28]

However, accused-appellant failed to mention that after the above statements, the
victim further stated as follows:
COURT:
Q: You said he was taking off your panty?
A: Yes, I was sleeping and he tried to remove my panty.
Q: After taking off your panty, what did he do?
A: (No answer)
COURT:
The witness is getting impatient and crying. . . .
[29]

Accused-appellant likewise cited the following testimonies of the complainant:
Q: Did you shout for help?
A: No, because I was sleeping.
Q: Did you fight?
A: No.
Q: Why?
A: Because I was sleeping.
[30]

But, immediately preceding this testimony, complainant also said:
Q: What did Boboy do to you?
A: He raped me.
Q: What kind of rape did he do to you? Did he force you?
A: Yes, sir.
[31]

A reading of complainants testimony in its entirety shows that she repeatedly
stated what accused-appellant had done to her. Only if such testimony is read in parts
and the portions thereof are isolated or taken out of context and no allowance is made
for complainants mental condition can accused-appellants reading of it be
justified.
[32]
Inconsistencies or lapses in her testimonies do not affect the substance of
her statements. They do not damage the essential integrity of the evidence in its
material whole nor reflect adversely on complainants credibility.
[33]

Fourth. Accused-appellant contends that the prosecution failed to prove that force
or intimidation was used against complainant.
This contention is unmeritorious. To begin with, under Art. 266-A (1)(a) of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended,
[34]
the crime of rape may be committed by a man
who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman through force, threat, or
intimidation. The force necessary in rape is relative. It has been held in one case that
for rape to exist, it is not necessary that the force and intimidation employed in
accomplishing it be so great or of such character as could not be resisted. It is only
necessary that the force or intimidation be sufficient to consummate the purpose
which the accused had in mind. The intimidation must be judged in the light of the
victims perception and judgment at the time of the commission of the crime, and not
by any hard and fast rule. It must be stressed that complainant in this case does not
possess the intelligence of an average individual. Indisputably, her mental faculties
are different from those of a fully-functioning adult; hence, the degree of force or
intimidation needed to overwhelm her is less than what it would take to frighten an
ordinary woman. Accused-appellants acts may not have intimidated a normal person
but he succeeded in instilling fear in the mind of the victim in this case.
[35]

Based on the evidence on record, force and intimidation was employed to
perpetuate the offense charged. As complainant narrated, accused-appellant, upon
entering the house, closed the door and told her to keep quiet. Complainant was then
made to lie down. Complainant resisted but accused-appellant succeeded in
overpowering her and having sexual intercourse with her.
Furthermore, it is erroneous for accused-appellant to contend that no rape was
committed because the prosecution failed to prove that the mental age of the victim
was equivalent to a girl below 12 years old. It must be emphasized that this
requirement is necessary if the charge is statutory rape under Art. 266-A, par. 1(d).
In this case, complainant was deprived of reason, and, under Art. 266-A, par. 1(b)
of the Revised Penal Code, having sexual intercourse with her, even if accomplished
without the use of force or intimidation, constitutes rape.
Under the law, the crime of rape is committed when a man has carnal knowledge
of a woman who is deprived of reason. There is no requirement to prove the mental
age of the offended party for this provision to apply. The term deprived of reason
has been construed to include those suffering from mental abnormality or deficiency;
or some form of mental retardation; the feebleminded but coherent; or even those
suffering from mental abnormality or deficiency of reason.
[36]
As this Court has ruled:
The offense committed by appellant is rape described under par. 2 of Art. 335 [Rape]
of the Revised Penal Code, that is, the offender having carnal knowledge of a woman
deprived of reason. The deprivation of reason contemplated by law does not need to
be complete. Mental abnormality or deficiency is enough. So it was held by the
Supreme Court of Spain that a man having carnal knowledge of a woman whose
mental faculties are not normally developed or who is suffering from hemiplegia and
mentally backward or who is an idiot commits the crime of rape. . . .
Being feeble-minded, complainant is incapable of thinking and reasoning like any
normal human being and not being able to think and reason from birth as aforesaid,
and undoubtedly devoid or deficient in those instincts and other mental faculties that
characterize the average and normal mortal, she really has no will that is free and
voluntary of her own; hers is a defective will, which is incapable of freely and
voluntarily giving such consent so necessary and essential in lifting coitus from the
place of criminality.
[37]

Fifth. Accused-appellants contention that no rape could have been committed as
shown by the deep healed lacerations and the absence of spermatozoa cannot be given
serious consideration. The fact that the lacerations found were healed, and not fresh,
does not necessarily negate rape. A freshly broken hymen is not an essential element
of rape. For that matter, the medical examination of the victim in rape cases is not an
indispensable element for the successful prosecution of the crime as her testimony
alone, if credible, is sufficient to convict the accused thereof.
[38]
As regards the absence
of spermatozoa, suffice it to say that Dr. Reyes explained that this could be due to the
fact the victim may have washed herself several hours after she had been raped.
After a scrutiny of the records of the case at bench, the Court finds that the trial
court did not err in giving full faith and credence to the testimonies of complainant
and the other prosecution witnesses. For this reason, we find no reason to disturb the
factual conclusions of the trial court, consistent with the established rule that
The assessment of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is a matter best
undertaken by the trial court because of its unique opportunity to observe the
witnesses firsthand and note their demeanor, conduct and attitude under grilling
examination. These are the most significant factors in evaluating the sincerity of
witnesses and in unearthing the truth, especially in the face of conflicting
testimonies. Through its observations during the entire proceedings, the trial court
can be expected to determine, with reasonable discretion, whose testimony to accept
and which witness to disbelieve. Verily, findings of the trial court on such matter will
not be disturbed on appeal unless some facts or circumstances of weight have been
overlooked, misapprehended or misinterpreted so as to materially affect the
disposition of the case.
[39]

However, the trial court erred when it imposed the penalty of death on accused-
appellant under Art. 266-B (10) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, which
provides in pertinent parts:
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of
the following aggravating qualifying circumstances:
. . . .
(10) When the offender knew of the mental disability, emotional disorder, and/or physical
handicap of the offended party at the time of the commission of the crime.
True enough, accused-appellant knew of the mental condition of the victim prior
to and at the time of the incident, evidenced by his own admission in open court as
follows:
FISCAL SANTOS:
Q: You are also known as Buboy.
A: Yes, sir.
. . . .
Q: Would you also know the complainant?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: As a matter of fact, she was your neighbor?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: How long have you been residing thereat?
A: About 18 years, sir.
Q: In the said place where you and Maribeth Quinto reside, you have observed or you personally
know that Maribeth Quinto has a low mental capacity or she is retarded?
A: Yes, sir.
[40]

Be that as it may, accused-appellant cannot be meted the death penalty. Under Art.
266-B in relation to Art. 266-A, par. (1), of the Revised Penal Code, as amended,
simple rape is punishable by reclusion perpetua. When rape is committed by an
assailant who has knowledge of the victims mental retardation, the penalty is
increased to death. This circumstance must, however, be alleged in the information
because it is a qualifying circumstance which increases the penalty and changes the
nature of the offense. In this case, while accused-appellant admitted that he knew
complainant to be a mental retardate, this fact was not alleged in the
information. Therefore, even if it was proved, it cannot be appreciated as a qualifying,
but only as a generic aggravating, circumstance. Accordingly, accused-appellant must
be sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for the crime of simple
rape.
[41]

The award of damages by the trial court should likewise be modified. Aside from
the award of P50,000.00 as moral damages, complainant is entitled to civil indemnity
in the amount of P50,000.00, which must be given even if there is neither allegation
nor evidence presented as basis therefor.
[42]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 76, Quezon
City, finding accused-appellant Edgardo Maceda guilty of rape is AFFIRMED with
the MODIFICATION that the death sentence imposed on him is reduced to reclusion
perpetua. Accused-appellant is likewise ordered to pay complainant Maribeth Quinto
the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, in addition to the award of P50,000.00
for moral damages, and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.












EN BANC
[A.M. No. RTJ-89-380 : December 19, 1990.]
192 SCRA 434
EFREN JAVIER and PEDRO JAVIER, Complainants, vs. JUDGE SALVADOR P. DE
GUZMAN, JR., Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

PER CURIAM:

Disbarment proceedings on the ground of "dishonorable conduct" were instituted on 8
August 1989 before the Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar by complainants
Efren Javier (son) and Pedro Javier (father) against respondent Salvador P. de Guzman, Jr.,
as a member of the Bar and as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Makati, Metro
Manila. However, pursuant to Supreme Court Circular No. 3-89, dated 9 February 1989,
requiring that complaints filed in the IBP against Justices and Judges of the lower Courts be
promptly referred to the Supreme Court for appropriate action, the Complaint was
eventually transmitted to this Court.
After the Comment by Respondent Judge and the Reply by Complainants were filed, the
Court referred the case to Mme. Justice Lorna L. de la Fuente of the Court of Appeals for
investigation, report and recommendation.
The Report and Recommendation was submitted to the Court on 20 September 1990.: nad
Complainants allege that, on 7 December 1987, Efren Javier, and his mother, Lolita Javier,
borrowed P200,000.00 from Respondent Judge with interest orally agreed upon at ten per
cent (10%) monthly. They tendered to the latter UCPB Check No. BNE 012872, dated 7
January 1988, in the amount of P220,000.00. The drawer of the check was actually Donato
Belen, a brother-in-law of Efren, as the Javiers had no personal checking account. The
following day, Respondent required them to sign a Memorandum of Agreement, which they
did. Two of the conditions imposed were interest at the rate of twenty per cent (20%) per
month, compounded monthly, and should they fail to pay the loan and its interest upon
maturity on 7 January 1988 and the check is deposited and dishonored, an appropriate
charge for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 may be filed at Respondent's option. When
the Javiers defaulted on due date because of business reverses, partial payments in the
total amount of P177,000.00 were made to Respondent between 6 January 1988 and 16
June 1988. Meanwhile, the check, which was deposited by Respondent on 14 April 1988,
was dishonored by the drawee bank.
On 8 September 1988, Respondent instituted suit for a "Sum of Money and Damages with
Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Attachment" in the Regional Trial Court of
Makati, Metro Manila, against the spouses Pedro and Lolita Javier, and their son, Efren, for
the recovery of the "sum of P220,000.00 with 20% interest/penalty a month compounded
monthly from January 7, 1988 until fully paid," computed at P622,871.67 (Annex B,
Complaint). Judgment on the pleadings was rendered on 3 February 1989 ordering the
Javiers to pay Respondent Judge the "sum of P608,871.67 with 20% interest/penalty a
month compounded monthly beginning September 8, 1988 until fully paid" and the "sum
equal to 10% of the amounts due and recoverable as reimbursement of attorney's fees and
litigation expenses" (Order, RTC Rollo, p. 107). In the meantime, an Order granting
execution pending appeal was issued by the Trial Court on 14 April 1989 (Ibid., pp. 216-
217). The Javiers appealed to the Court of Appeals where the case still pends.
Still later, Respondent filed in Manila two (2) criminal complaints, the first, for violation of
B.P. Blg. 22 against Efren, who, however, was acquitted, and the second, for Estafa against
Complainants and Lolita Javier, which complaint was dismissed (Rollo, p. 194).
On 21 March 1989, Respondent further filed an administrative charge against Complainant
father, Pedro, with the Bureau of Internal Revenue where the latter was employed. Earlier,
an administrative charge against Pedro had also been filed with the Civil Service
Commission on 3 March 1989 accusing Pedro in both instances, of having committed estafa
against him and his wife, of dishonesty and of conduct unbecoming of a government official.
Feeling harassed, Complainants filed this administrative charge against Respondent Judge
on four counts of "dishonorable conduct," as follows:
1. Respondent had loaned money to Complainants at usurious interest as can be
gleaned from the fact that after receiving P177,000.00 in installments, he still
seeks to recover the amount of P622,817.67;
2. Respondent took advantage of his position as Regional Trial Court Judge of
Makati, Metro Manila, by filing a collection case against Complainants and Lolita
Javier before the same Court and making false and fraudulent manifestations that
Complainants had failed to pay any amount as of 8 September 1988;
3. Respondent resorted to harassment by filing a criminal complaint for violation of
B.P. Blg. 22 against Complainant, Efren, despite knowledge that the latter was
not the drawer of the UCPB check; and
4. Respondent failed to reveal the true facts of the case, in violation of Articles 182
and 183 of the Revised Penal Code penalizing "False testimony," when he filed
the administrative charges with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Civil
Service Commission against Complainant Pedro notwithstanding knowledge of the
fact that Pedro was not involved in the transaction in question.: nad
In his Comment, Respondent denied that he lent any money to the Javiers alleging that it
was his wife who had asked her first cousin, Mrs. Hedy Laca, to make available the amount
of P200,000.00. The real lender, therefore, was the latter. When the Javiers failed to repay
the loan, they were compelled to pay back the amount to Mrs. Laca. Respondent, therefore,
became the creditor of the Javiers "by force of circumstances."
Respondent also stressed that the rate of interest of twenty per cent (20%) per month,
compounded monthly, was not usurious for the reason that said rate was designed more as
a penalty in order to force the Javiers to pay back the loan as soon as possible. He contends
that under the circumstances, the filing of several complaints against the Javiers was the
more "civilized thing to do." And as to the filing of the case in Makati, he reasons out that it
was upon prior consultation with the Executive Judge.
With regard to the administrative charges, which he had filed against Complainant Pedro,
Respondent maintains that the latter was not really an innocent party to the whole
transaction, but the "prime mover."
With "dishonorable conduct" defined by the Investigating Justice and by the parties as
conduct not in keeping with any of the rules embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility for lawyers and the Code of Judicial Ethics, Justice de la Fuente concluded
that there were valid grounds to sustain the first three (3) charges, for the commission of
which Respondent Judge was recommended to be reprimanded, with warning of a severer
penalty in case of repetition. The fourth charge was recommended to be dismissed (Report,
p. 4).
Anent the first charge, that is, whether or not Respondent was, in fact, the lender and had
charged a usurious rate of interest, the Investigating Justice found that Respondent's
disclaimer cannot prevail over the Agreement between the parties, which clearly point to the
Respondent as the lender. He is mentioned in said Agreement as the "Third Party," the
"First Party" being Lolita Javier, and the "Second Party" being Efren. The UCPB postdated
check was also made out in Respondent's name. The foregoing refutes Respondent's
contention that he became the lender only "by force of circumstances" after the Javiers had
failed to repay their indebtedness. Further, it was Respondent who made collections on the
loan and it was to him that payments were made. Additionally, it was Respondent who filed
the civil case for collection of the loan as well as the administrative cases against
complainant Pedro.
As to the usurious rate of interest, while that issue was considered by Justice de la Fuente
as irrelevant since the Usury Law is now legally inexistent pursuant to Central Bank Circular
No. 905 and the interest now legally chargeable depends upon the agreement of lender and
borrower (Liam Law v. Olympic Sawmill Co., G.R. No. L-30771, May 28, 1984, 129 SCRA
439), she found that the interest charged on the loan was exorbitant. To quot