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SBC Case No. 519 July 31, 1997 PATRICIA FIGUEROA, complainant, vs. SIMEON BARRANCO, JR., respondent.

RESOLUTION

ROMERO, J.: In a complaint made way back in 1971, Patricia Figueroa petitioned that respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. be denied admission to the legal profession. Respondent had passed the 1970 bar examinations on the fourth attempt, after unsuccessful attempts in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Before be could take his oath, however, complainant filed the instant petition averring that respondent and she had been sweethearts, that a child out of wedlock was born to them and that respondent did not fulfill his repeated promises to many her. The facts were manifested in hearings held before Investigator Victor F. Sevilla in June and July 1971. Respondent and complainant were townmates in Janiuay, Iloilo. Since 1953, when they were both in their teens, they were steadies. Respondent even acted as escort to complainant when she reigned as Queen at the 1953 town fiesta. Complainant first acceded to sexual congress with respondent sometime in 1960. Their intimacy yielded a son, Rafael Barranco, born on December 11, 1964. 1 It was after the child was born, complainant alleged, that respondent first promised he would marry her after he passes the bar examinations. Their relationship continued and respondent allegedly made more than twenty or thirty promises of marriage. He gave only P10.00 for the child on the latter's birthdays. Her trust in him and their relationship ended in 1971, when she learned that respondent married another woman. Hence, this petition. Upon complainant's motion, the Court authorized the taking of testimonies of witnesses by deposition in 1972. On February 18, 1974, respondent filed a Manifestation and Motion to Dismiss the case citing complainant's failure to comment on the motion of Judge Cuello seeking to be relieved from the duty to take aforesaid testimonies by deposition. Complainant filed her comment required and that she remains interested in the resolution of the present case. On June 18, 1974, the Court denied respondent's motion to dismiss.

On October 2, 1980, the Court once again denied a motion to dismiss on the ground of abandonment filed by respondent on September 17, 1979. 2 Respondent's third motion to dismiss was noted in the Court's Resolution dated September 15, 1982. 3 In 1988, respondent repeated his request, citing his election as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Janiuay, Iloilo from 1980-1986, his active participation in civic organizations and good standing in the community as well as the length of time this case has been pending as reasons to allow him to take his oath as a lawyer. 4 On September 29, 1988, the Court resolved to dismiss the complaint for failure of complainant to prosecute the case for an unreasonable period of time and to allow Simeon Barranco, Jr. to take the lawyer's oath upon payment of the required fees. 5 Respondent's hopes were again dashed on November 17, 1988 when the Court, in response to complainant's opposition, resolved to cancel his scheduled oathtaking. On June 1, 1993, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. The IBP's report dated May 17, 1997 recommended the dismissal of the case and that respondent be allowed to take the lawyer's oath. We agree. Respondent was prevented from taking the lawyer's oath in 1971 because of the charge of gross immorality made by complainant. To recapitulate, respondent bore an illegitimate child with his sweetheart, Patricia Figueroa, who also claims that he did not fulfill his promise to marry her after he passes the bar examinations. We find that these facts do not constitute gross immorality warranting the permanent exclusion of respondent from the legal profession. His engaging in premarital sexual relations with complainant and promises to marry suggests a doubtful moral character on his part but the same does not constitute grossly immoral conduct. The Court has held that to justify suspension or disbarment the act complained of must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. "A grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree." 6 It is a willful, flagrant, or shameless act which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable members of the community. 7

We find the ruling in Arciga v. Maniwang 8 quite relevant because mere intimacy between a man and a woman, both of whom possess no impediment to marry, voluntarily carried on and devoid of any deceit on the part of respondent, is neither so corrupt nor so unprincipled as to warrant the imposition of disciplinary sanction against him, even if as a result of such relationship a child was born out of wedlock. 9 Respondent and complainant were sweethearts whose sexual relations were evidently consensual. We do not find complainant's assertions that she had been forced into sexual intercourse, credible. She continued to see and be respondent's girlfriend even after she had given birth to a son in 1964 and until 1971. All those years of amicable and intimate relations refute her allegations that she was forced to have sexual congress with him. Complainant was then an adult who voluntarily and actively pursued their relationship and was not an innocent young girl who could be easily led astray. Unfortunately, respondent chose to marry and settle permanently with another woman. We cannot castigate a man for seeking out the partner of his dreams, for marriage is a sacred and perpetual bond which should be entered into because of love, not for any other reason. We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act of revenge of a woman scorned, bitter and unforgiving to the end. It is also intended to make respondent suffer severely and it seems, perpetually, sacrificing the profession he worked very hard to be admitted into. Even assuming that his past indiscretions are ignoble, the twenty-six years that respondent has been prevented from being a lawyer constitute sufficient punishment therefor. During this time there appears to be no other indiscretion attributed to him. 10 Respondent, who is now sixty-two years of age, should thus be allowed, albeit belatedly, to take the lawyer's oath. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. Respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. is ALLOWED to take his oath as a lawyer upon payment of the proper fees. SO ORDERED A.C. No. 6368 June 13, 2012

FIDELA BENGCO AND TERESITA BENGCO, Complainants, vs. ATTY. PABLO S. BERNARDO, Respondent.

DECISION REYES, J.: This is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by complainants Fidela G. Bengco (Fidela) and Teresita N. Bengco (Teresita) against respondent Atty. Pablo Bernardo (Atty. Bernardo) for deceit, malpractice, conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar and violation of his duties and oath as a lawyer. The acts of the respondent which gave rise to the instant complaint are as follows: That sometime on or about the period from April 15, 1997 to July 22, 1997, Atty. Pablo Bernardo with the help and in connivance and collusion with a certain Andres Magat [wilfully] and illegally committed fraudulent act with intent to defraud herein complainants Fidela G. Bengco and Teresita N. Bengco by using false pretenses, deceitful words to the effect that he would expedite the titling of the land belonging to the Miranda family of Tagaytay City who are the acquaintance of complainants herein and they convinced herein complainant[s] that if they will finance and deliver to him the amount of [P]495,000.00 as advance money he would expedite the titling of the subject land and further by means of other similar deceit like misrepresenting himself as lawyer of William Gatchalian, the prospective buyer of the subject land, who is the owner of Plastic City at Canomay Street, Valenzuela, Metro Manila and he is the one handling William Gatchalians business transaction and that he has contracts at NAMREA, DENR, CENRO and REGISTER OF DEEDS which representation he well knew were false, fraudulent and were only made to induce the complainant[s] to give and deliver the said amount ([P]495,000.00) and once in possession of said amount, far from complying with his obligation to expedite and cause the titling of the subject land, [wilfully], unlawfully and illegally misappropriated, misapplied and converted the said amount to his personal use and benefit and despite demand upon him to return the said amount, he failed and refused to do so, which acts constitute deceit, malpractice, conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar and Violation of Duties and Oath as a lawyer.2 In support of their complaint, the complainants attached thereto Resolutions dated December 7, 19983 and June 22, 19994 of the Third Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Sto. Tomas and Minalin, Sto. Tomas, Pampanga and the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of San Fernando, Pampanga, respectively, finding probable cause for the filing of the criminal information5 against both Atty. Bernardo and Andres Magat (Magat) before the Regional Trial Court (RTC)

of San Fernando, Pampanga, Branch 48, charging them with the crime of Estafa punishable under Article 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. The respondent was required to file his Comment.6 On September 24, 2004, the respondent filed an undated Comment,7 wherein he denied the allegations against him and averred the following: 2. He had not deceived both complainants between the period from April 15, 1997 to July 22, 1997 for purposes of getting from them the amount of [P]495,000.00. It was Andy Magat whom they contacted and who in turn sought the legal services of the respondent. It was Andy Magat who received the said money from them. 3. There was no connivance made and entered into by Andy Magat and respondent. The arrangement for titling of the land was made by Teresita N. Bengco and Andy Magat with no participation of respondent. 4. The acceptance of the respondent to render his legal service is legal and allowed in law practice.8 The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. On February 16, 2005, the IBP ordered the respondent to submit a verified comment pursuant to Rule 139-B, Section 6 of the Rules of Court as it appeared that the respondents undated comment filed with the Court was not verified.9 On March 15, 2005, respondent through counsel requested for an additional fifteen (15) days from March 17, 2005, or until April 1, 2005, within which to comply due to his medical confinement.10 Thereafter, on April 4, 2005, the respondent filed a second motion11 for extension praying for another 20 days, or until April 22, 2005, alleging that he was still recovering from his illness. On August 3, 2005, the case was set for mandatory conference.12 The respondent failed to appear; thus, the IBP considered the respondent in default for his failure to appear and for not filing an answer despite extensions granted. The case was then submitted for report and recommendation.13 Based on the records of the case, Investigating Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala made the following findings:

[O]n or before the period from 15 April 1997 to 22 July 1997, respondent with the help and in connivance and collusion with a certain Andres Magat ("Magat"), by using false pretenses and deceitful words, [wilfully] and illegally committed fraudulent acts to the effect that respondent would expedite the titling of the land belonging to the Miranda family of Tagaytay City, who were the acquaintance of complainants. Respondent and Magat convinced complainants that if they finance and deliver to them the amount of [P]495,000.00 as advance money, they would expedite the titling of the subject land. Respondent represented himself to be the lawyer of William Gatchalian, the owner of Plastic City located at Canomay Street, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, who was allegedly the buyer of the subject land once it has been titled. Respondent and Magat also represented that they have contacts at NAMREA, DENR, CENRO and the Register of Deeds which representation they knew to be false, fraudulent and were only made to induce complainants to give and deliver to them the amount of [P]495,000.00. Once in possession of the said amount, far from complying with their obligation to expedite and cause the titling of the subject land, respondent and Magat [wilfully], unlawfully and illegally misappropriated, misapplied and converted the said amount to their personal use and benefit and despite demand upon them to return the said amount, they failed and refused to do so. In view of the deceit committed by respondent and Magat, complainants filed a complaint for Estafa against the former before the Third Municipal Circuit Trial Court, of Sto. Tomas and Minalin, Sto. Tomas, Pampanga. In the preliminary investigation conducted by the said court, it finds sufficient grounds to hold respondent and Magat for trial for the crime of Estafa defined under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. The case was transmitted to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pampanga for appropriate action as per Order dated 7 December 1998. The Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pampanga conducted a re-investigation of the case. During the re-investigation thereof, Magat was willing to reimburse to complainants the amount of [P]200,000.00 because according to him the amount of [P]295,000.00 should be reimbursed by respondent considering that the said amount was turned over to respondent for expenses incurred in the documentation prior to the titling of the subject land. Both respondent and Magat requested for several extensions for time to pay back their obligations to the complainants. However, despite extensions of time granted to them, respondent and Magat failed to fulfil their promise to pay back their obligation. Hence, it was resolved that the

offer of compromise was construed to be an implied admission of guilt. The Asst. Provincial Prosecutor believes that there was no reason to disturb the findings of the investigating judge and an Information for Estafa was filed against respondent and Magat on 8 July 1999 before the Regional Trial Court, San Fernando, Pampanga. The failure of the lawyer to answer the complaint for disbarment despite due notice on several occasions and appear on the scheduled hearings set, shows his flouting resistance to lawful orders of the court and illustrates his despiciency for his oath of office as a lawyer which deserves disciplinary sanction x x x. From the facts and evidence presented, it could not be denied that respondent committed a crime that import deceit and violation of his attorneys oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility under both of which he was bound to obey the laws of the land. The commission of unlawful acts, specially crimes involving moral turpitude, acts of dishonesty in violation of the attorneys oath, grossly immoral conduct and deceit are grounds for suspension or disbarment of lawyers (Rule 138, Section 27, RRC). The misconduct complained of took place in 1997 and complainants filed the case only on 16 April 2004. As provided for by the Rules of Procedure of the Commission of Bar Discipline, as amended, dated 24 March 2004, "A complaint for disbarment, suspension or discipline of attorneys prescribes in two (2) years from the date of the professional misconduct" (Section 1, Rule VIII).14 The Investigating Commissioner recommended that: x x x [R]espondent ATTY. PABLO A. BERNARDO be SUSPENDED for a period of TWO YEARS from receipt hereof from the practice of his profession as a lawyer and as a member of the Bar. 15 On February 1, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVII2007-065, viz: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED with modification, 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, Atty. Pablo S. Bernardo is hereby ordered, the restitution of the amount of [P]200,000.00

within sixty (60) days from receipt of notice with Warning that if he does not return the amount with in sixty days from receipt of this Order then he will be meted the penalty of Suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year.16 On May 16, 2007, the respondent promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration17 of the aforesaid Resolution of the IBP. The respondent averred that: (1) the IBP resolution is not in accord with the rules considering that the complaint was filed more than two (2) years from the alleged misconduct and therefore, must have been dismissed outright; (2) he did not commit any misrepresentation in convincing Fidela to give him money to finance the titling of the land; (3) he was hired as a lawyer through Magat who transacted with Teresita as evidenced by a Memorandum of Agreement18 signed by the latter; (4) he was denied due process when the Investigating Commissioner considered him as in default after having ignored the representative he sent during the hearing on August 3, 2005; and (5) he long restituted the amount of P225,000.00 not as an offer of compromise but based on his moral obligation as a lawyer due to Teresitas declaration that he had to stop acting as her legal counsel sometime in the third quarter of 1997. The respondent pointed out the admission made by Fidela in her direct testimony before the RTC that she received the amount, as evidenced by photocopies of receipts. In an Order19 dated May 17, 2007 issued by the IBP, the complainant was required to comment within fifteen (15) days from receipt thereof. In her Comment,20 Fidela explained that it took them quite some time in filing the administrative case because they took into consideration the possibility of an amicable settlement instead of a judicial proceeding since it would stain the respondents reputation as a lawyer; that the respondent went into hiding which prompted them to seek the assistance of CIDG agents from Camp Olivas in order to trace the respondents whereabouts; that the respondent was duly accorded the opportunity to be heard; and finally, that no restitution of the P200,000.00 plus corresponding interest has yet been made by the respondent. On June 21, 2008, Fidela filed a Manifestation21 stating that the RTC rendered a decision in the criminal case for Estafa finding the accused, Atty. Bernardo and Magat "guilty of conspiracy in the commission of Estafa under Article 315 par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code and both are sentenced to suffer six (6) years and one (1) day of Prision Mayor as minimum to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of Reclusion Temporal as maximum."22

In a Letter23 dated March 23, 2009, addressed to the IBP, Fidela sought the resolution of the present action as she was already 86 years of age. Later, an Ex-parte Motion to Resolve the Case24 dated September 1, 2010 was filed by the complainants. In another Letter dated October 26, 2011, Fidela, being 88 years old, sought for Atty. Bernardos restitution of the amount of P200,000.00 so she can use the money to buy her medicine and other needs. The Court adopts and agrees with the findings and conclusions of the IBP. It is first worth mentioning that the respondents defense of prescription is untenable. The Court has held that administrative cases against lawyers do not prescribe. The lapse of considerable time from the commission of the offending act to the institution of the administrative complaint will not erase the administrative culpability of a lawyer. Otherwise, members of the bar would only be emboldened to disregard the very oath they took as lawyers, prescinding from the fact that as long as no private complainant would immediately come forward, they stand a chance of being completely exonerated from whatever administrative liability they ought to answer for.25 Further, consistent with his failure to file his answer after he himself pleaded for several extensions of time to file the same, the respondent failed to appear during the mandatory conference, as ordered by the IBP. As a lawyer, the respondent is considered as an officer of the court who is called upon to obey and respect court processes. Such acts of the respondent are a deliberate and contemptuous affront on the courts authority which can not be countenanced. It can not be overstressed that lawyers are instruments in the administration of justice. As vanguards of our legal system, they are expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing. In so doing, the peoples faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured. 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.26 Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility read: Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business. Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services.

There is no question that the respondent committed the acts complained of. He himself admitted in his answer that his legal services were hired by the complainants through Magat regarding the purported titling of land supposedly purchased. While he begs for the Courts indulgence, his contrition is shallow considering the fact that he used his position as a lawyer in order to deceive the complainants into believing that he can expedite the titling of the subject properties. He never denied that he did not benefit from the money given by the complainants in the amount of P495,000.00. The practice of law is not a business. It is a profession in which duty to public service, not money, is the primary consideration. Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits. The gaining of a livelihood should be a secondary consideration. The duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to themselves.27 It is likewise settled that a disbarment proceeding is separate and distinct from a criminal action filed against a lawyer despite having involved the same set of facts. Jurisprudence has it "that a finding of guilt in the criminal case will not necessarily result in a finding of liability in the administrative case. Conversely, the respondents acquittal does not necessarily exculpate him administratively."28 In Yu v. Palaa,29 the Court held that: Respondent, being a member of the bar, should note that administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they may proceed independently of criminal cases. A criminal prosecution will not constitute a prejudicial question even if the same facts and circumstances are attendant in the administrative proceedings. Besides, it is not sound judicial policy to await the final resolution of a criminal case before a complaint against a lawyer may be acted upon; otherwise, this Court will be rendered helpless to apply the rules on admission to, and continuing membership in, the legal profession during the whole period that the criminal case is pending final disposition, when the objectives of the two proceedings are vastly disparate. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare and for preserving courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice law. The attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court.30 (Citations omitted)

As the records reveal, the RTC eventually convicted the respondent for the crime of Estafa for which he was meted the penalty of sentenced to suffer six (6) years and one (1) day of Prision Mayor as minimum to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of Reclusion Temporal as maximum. Such criminal conviction clearly undermines the respondents moral fitness to be a member of the Bar. Rule 138, Section 27 provides that: SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do so. In view of the foregoing, this Court has no option but to accord him the punishment commensurate to all his acts and to accord the complainants, especially the 88-year old Fidela, with the justice they utmost deserve.1wphi1 WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Atty. Pablo S. Bernardo is found guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR effective upon notice hereof. Further, the Court ORDERS Atty. Pablo S. Bernardo (1) to RETURN the amount of P200,000.00 to Fidela Bengco and Teresita Bengco within TEN (10) DAYS from receipt of this Decision and (2) to SUBMIT his proof of compliance thereof to the Court, through the Office of the Bar Confidant within TEN (10) DAYS therefrom; with a STERN WARNING that failure to do so shall merit him the additional penalty of suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year. Let copies of this Decision be entered in his record as attorney and be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and guidance. SO ORDERED A.C. No. 6792 January 25, 2006

ROBERTO SORIANO, Complainant, vs. Atty. MANUEL DIZON, Respondent.

DECISION PER CURIAM: Before us is a Complaint-Affidavit1 for the disbarment of Atty. Manuel Dizon, filed by Roberto Soriano with the Commission on Bar Discipine (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Complainant alleges that the conviction of respondent for a crime involving moral turpitude, together with the circumstances surrounding the conviction, violates Canon 1 of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility;2 and constitutes sufficient ground for his disbarment under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.3 Because of the failure of Atty. Dizon to submit his Answer to the Complaint, the CBD issued a Notice dated May 20, 2004, informing him that he was in default, and that an ex-parte hearing had been scheduled for June 11, 2004.4After that hearing, complainant manifested that he was submitting the case on the basis of the Complaint and its attachments.5 Accordingly, the CBD directed him to file his Position Paper, which he did on July 27, 2004.6Afterwards, the case was deemed submitted for resolution. On December 6, 2004, Commissioner Teresita J. Herbosa rendered her Report and Recommendation, which was later adopted and approved by the IBP Board of Governors in its Resolution No. XVI-2005-84 dated March 12, 2005. In his Complaint-Affidavit, Soriano alleged that respondent had violated Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility; and that the conviction of the latter for frustrated homicide,7 which involved moral turpitude, should result in his disbarment. The facts leading to respondents conviction were summarized by Branch 60 of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City in this wise: "x x x. The accused was driving his brown Toyota Corolla and was on his way home after gassing up in preparation for his trip to Concepcion, Tarlac with his wife. Along Abanao Street, a taxi driver overtook the car driven by the accused not knowing that the driver of the car he had overtaken is not just someone, but a lawyer and a prominent member of the Baguio community who was under the influence of liquor. Incensed, the accused tailed the taxi driver until the latter stopped to make a turn at [the] Chugum and Carino Streets. The accused also stopped his car, berated the taxi driver and held him by his shirt. To stop the aggression, the taxi driver forced open his door causing the accused to fall to the ground. The taxi driver knew that the accused had been drinking because he smelled of liquor. Taking pity on the accused who looked elderly, the taxi driver got out of his car to help him get up. But the accused, by now enraged, stood up immediately and was about to deal the taxi driver a fist blow when the latter boxed him on the chest instead. The accused fell down

a second time, got up again and was about to box the taxi driver but the latter caught his fist and turned his arm around. The taxi driver held on to the accused until he could be pacified and then released him. The accused went back to his car and got his revolver making sure that the handle was wrapped in a handkerchief. The taxi driver was on his way back to his vehicle when he noticed the eyeglasses of the accused on the ground. He picked them up intending to return them to the accused. But as he was handing the same to the accused, he was met by the barrel of the gun held by the accused who fired and shot him hitting him on the neck. He fell on the thigh of the accused so the latter pushed him out and sped off. The incident was witnessed by Antonio Billanes whose testimony corroborated that of the taxi driver, the complainant in this case, Roberto Soriano."8 It was the prosecution witness, Antonio Billanes, who came to the aid of Soriano and brought the latter to the hospital. Because the bullet had lacerated the carotid artery on the left side of his neck,9 complainant would have surely died of hemorrhage if he had not received timely medical assistance, according to the attending surgeon, Dr. Francisco Hernandez, Jr. Soriano sustained a spinal cord injury, which caused paralysis on the left part of his body and disabled him for his job as a taxi driver. The trial court promulgated its Decision dated November 29, 2001. On January 18, 2002, respondent filed an application for probation, which was granted by the court on several conditions. These included satisfaction of "the civil liabilities imposed by [the] court in favor of the offended party, Roberto Soriano."10 According to the unrefuted statements of complainant, Atty. Dizon, who has yet to comply with this particular undertaking, even appealed the civil liability to the Court of Appeals.11 In her Report and Recommendation, Commissioner Herbosa recommended that respondent be disbarred from the practice of law for having been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. The commissioner found that respondent had not only been convicted of such crime, but that the latter also exhibited an obvious lack of good moral character, based on the following facts: "1. He was under the influence of liquor while driving his car; "2. He reacted violently and attempted to assault Complainant only because the latter, driving a taxi, had overtaken him;

"3. Complainant having been able to ward off his attempted assault, Respondent went back to his car, got a gun, wrapped the same with a handkerchief and shot Complainant[,] who was unarmed; "4. When Complainant fell on him, Respondent simply pushed him out and fled; "5. Despite positive identification and overwhelming evidence, Respondent denied that he had shot Complainant; "6. Apart from [his] denial, Respondent also lied when he claimed that he was the one mauled by Complainant and two unidentified persons; and, "7. Although he has been placed on probation, Respondent has[,] to date[,] not yet satisfied his civil liabilities to Complainant."12 On July 8, 2005, the Supreme Court received for its final action the IBP Resolution adopting the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner. We agree with the findings and recommendations of Commissioner Herbosa, as approved and adopted by the IBP Board of Governors. Under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude is a ground for disbarment or suspension. By such conviction, a lawyer is deemed to have become unfit to uphold the administration of justice and to be no longer possessed of good moral character.13 In the instant case, respondent has been found guilty; and he stands convicted, by final judgment, of frustrated homicide. Since his conviction has already been established and is no longer open to question, the only issues that remain to be determined are as follows: 1) whether his crime of frustrated homicide involves moral turpitude, and 2) whether his guilt warrants disbarment. Moral turpitude has been defined as "everything which is done contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals; an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals."14 The question of whether the crime of homicide involves moral turpitude has been discussed in International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) v. NLRC,15 a labor case concerning an employee who was dismissed on the basis of his conviction for homicide. Considering the particular circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime, this Court rejected the employers contention and held that homicide in that case did not involve moral turpitude. (If it did, the crime would have been violative of the IRRIs Employment Policy Regulations

and indeed a ground for dismissal.) The Court explained that, having disregarded the attendant circumstances, the employer made a pronouncement that was precipitate. Furthermore, it was not for the latter to determine conclusively whether a crime involved moral turpitude. That discretion belonged to the courts, as explained thus: "x x x. Homicide may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. Moral turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by every known and intentional violation of statute, but whether any particular conviction involves moral turpitude may be a question of fact and frequently depends on all the surrounding circumstances. x x x."16 (Emphasis supplied) In the IRRI case, in which the crime of homicide did not involve moral turpitude, the Court appreciated the presence of incomplete self-defense and total absence of aggravating circumstances. For a better understanding of that Decision, the circumstances of the crime are quoted as follows: "x x x. The facts on record show that Micosa [the IRRI employee] was then urinating and had his back turned when the victim drove his fist unto Micosa's face; that the victim then forcibly rubbed Micosa's face into the filthy urinal; that Micosa pleaded to the victim to stop the attack but was ignored and that it was while Micosa was in that position that he drew a fan knife from the left pocket of his shirt and desperately swung it at the victim who released his hold on Micosa only after the latter had stabbed him several times. These facts show that Micosa's intention was not to slay the victim but only to defend his person. The appreciation in his favor of the mitigating circumstances of self-defense and voluntary surrender, plus the total absence of any aggravating circumstance demonstrate that Micosa's character and intentions were not inherently vile, immoral or unjust."17 The present case is totally different. As the IBP correctly found, the circumstances clearly evince the moral turpitude of respondent and his unworthiness to practice law. Atty. Dizon was definitely the aggressor, as he pursued and shot complainant when the latter least expected it. The act of aggression shown by respondent will not be mitigated by the fact that he was hit once and his arm twisted by complainant. Under the circumstances, those were reasonable actions clearly intended to fend off the lawyers assault. We also consider the trial courts finding of treachery as a further indication of the skewed morals of respondent. He shot the victim when the latter was not in a position to defend himself. In fact, under the impression that the assault was already over, the unarmed complainant was merely returning the eyeglasses of Atty. Dizon when the latter unexpectedly shot him. To make matters worse,

respondent wrapped the handle of his gun with a handkerchief so as not to leave fingerprints. In so doing, he betrayed his sly intention to escape punishment for his crime. The totality of the facts unmistakably bears the earmarks of moral turpitude. By his conduct, respondent revealed his extreme arrogance and feeling of selfimportance. As it were, he acted like a god on the road, who deserved to be venerated and never to be slighted. Clearly, his inordinate reaction to a simple traffic incident reflected poorly on his fitness to be a member of the legal profession. His overreaction also evinced vindictiveness, which was definitely an undesirable trait in any individual, more so in a lawyer. In the tenacity with which he pursued complainant, we see not the persistence of a person who has been grievously wronged, but the obstinacy of one trying to assert a false sense of superiority and to exact revenge. It is also glaringly clear that respondent seriously transgressed Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility through his illegal possession of an unlicensed firearm18 and his unjust refusal to satisfy his civil liabilities.19 He has thus brazenly violated the law and disobeyed the lawful orders of the courts. We remind him that, both in his attorneys oath20 and in the Code of Professional Responsibility, he bound himself to "obey the laws of the land." All told, Atty. Dizon has shown through this incident that he is wanting in even a basic sense of justice. He obtained the benevolence of the trial court when it suspended his sentence and granted him probation. And yet, it has been four years21 since he was ordered to settle his civil liabilities to complainant. To date, respondent remains adamant in refusing to fulfill that obligation. By his extreme impetuosity and intolerance, as shown by his violent reaction to a simple traffic altercation, he has taken away the earning capacity, good health, and youthful vigor of his victim. Still, Atty. Dizon begrudges complainant the measly amount that could never even fully restore what the latter has lost. Conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude may relate, not to the exercise of the profession of lawyers, but certainly to their good moral character.22 Where their misconduct outside of their professional dealings is so gross as to show them morally unfit for their office and unworthy of the privileges conferred upon them by their license and the law, the court may be justified in suspending or removing them from that office.23 We also adopt the IBPs finding that respondent displayed an utter lack of good moral character, which is an essential qualification for the privilege to enter into the practice of law. Good moral character includes at least common honesty.24 In the case at bar, respondent consistently displayed dishonest and duplicitous behavior. As found by the trial court, he had sought, with the aid of Vice-Mayor

Daniel Farias, an out-of-court settlement with complainants family.25 But when this effort failed, respondent concocted a complete lie by making it appear that it was complainants family that had sought a conference with him to obtain his referral to a neurosurgeon.26 The lies of Atty Dizon did not end there. He went on to fabricate an entirely implausible story of having been mauled by complainant and two other persons.27 The trial court had this to say: "The physical evidence as testified to by no less than three (3) doctors who examined [Atty. Dizon] does not support his allegation that three people including the complainant helped each other in kicking and boxing him. The injuries he sustained were so minor that it is improbable[,] if not downright unbelievable[,] that three people who he said were bent on beating him to death could do so little damage. On the contrary, his injuries sustain the complainants version of the incident particularly when he said that he boxed the accused on the chest. x x x."28 Lawyers must be ministers of truth. No moral qualification for bar membership is more important than truthfulness.29 The rigorous ethics of the profession places a premium on honesty and condemns duplicitous behavior.30 Hence, lawyers must not mislead the court or allow it to be misled by any artifice. In all their dealings, they are expected to act in good faith. The actions of respondent erode rather than enhance public perception of the legal profession. They constitute moral turpitude for which he should be disbarred. "Law is a noble profession, and the privilege to practice it is bestowed only upon individuals who are competent intellectually, academically and, equally important, morally. Because they are vanguards of the law and the legal system, lawyers must at all times conduct themselves, especially in their dealings with their clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach."31 The foregoing abhorrent acts of respondent are not merely dishonorable; they reveal a basic moral flaw. Considering the depravity of the offense he committed, we find the penalty recommended by the IBP proper and commensurate. The purpose of a proceeding for disbarment is to protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important function be competent, honorable and reliable -- lawyers in whom courts and clients may repose confidence.32 Thus, whenever a clear case of degenerate and vile behavior disturbs that vital yet fragile confidence, we shall not hesitate to rid our profession of odious members.

We remain aware that the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and that disbarment should never be decreed when any lesser penalty would accomplish the end desired. In the instant case, however, the Court cannot extend that munificence to respondent. His actions so despicably and wantonly disregarded his duties to society and his profession. We are convinced that meting out a lesser penalty would be irreconcilable with our lofty aspiration for the legal profession -- that every lawyer be a shining exemplar of truth and justice. We stress that membership in the legal profession is a privilege demanding a high degree of good moral character, not only as a condition precedent to admission, but also as a continuing requirement for the practice of law. Sadly, herein respondent has fallen short of the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of the legal profession. In sum, when lawyers are convicted of frustrated homicide, the attending circumstances not the mere fact of their conviction would demonstrate their fitness to remain in the legal profession. In the present case, the appalling vindictiveness, treachery, and brazen dishonesty of respondent clearly show his unworthiness to continue as a member of the bar. WHEREFORE, RESPONDENT MANUEL DIZON is hereby DISBARRED, and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in his record as a member of the Bar; and let notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country. SO ORDERED.

ELPIDIO P. TIONG, Complainant,

A.C. No. 4428

Present:

VELASCO, JR., Chairperson, PERALTA, ABAD, - versus MENDOZA, and PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

Promulgated: ATTY. GEORGE M. FLORENDO, Respondent. x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x December 12, 2011

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Before the Court is an administrative complaint1 for disbarment filed by Elpidio P. Tiong against Atty. George M. Florendo for gross immorality and grave misconduct.

The facts of the case are as follows:

Complainant Elpidio P. Tiong, an American Citizen, and his wife, Ma. Elena T. Tiong, are real estate lessors in Baguio City. They are likewise engaged in the assembly and repair of motor vehicles in Paldit, Sison, Pangasinan. In 1991, they engaged the services of respondent Atty. George M. Florendo not only as legal counsel but also as administrator of their businesses whenever complainant would leave for the United States of America (USA).

Sometime in 1993, complainant began to suspect that respondent and his wife were having an illicit affair. His suspicion was confirmed in the afternoon of May 13, 1995 when, in their residence, he chanced upon a telephone conversation between the two. Listening through the extension phone, he heard respondent utter the words "I love you, I'll call you later". When confronted, his wife initially denied any amorous involvement with respondent but eventually broke down and confessed to their love affair that began in 1993. Respondent likewise admitted the relationship. Subsequently, at a meeting initiated by respondent and held at the Salibao Restaurant in Burnham Park, Baguio City, respondent and complainant's wife, Ma. Elena, confessed anew to their illicit affair before their respective spouses.

On May 15, 1995, the parties met again at the Mandarin Restaurant in Baguio City and, in the presence of a Notary Public, Atty.Liberato Tadeo, respondent

and Ma. Elena executed and signed an affidavit2 attesting to their illicit relationship and seeking their respective spouses' forgiveness, as follows:

"WE, GEORGE M. FLORENDO, a resident of Baguio City and of legal age and MA. ELENA T. TIONG, likewise a resident of Baguio City, of legal age, depose and state:

We committed adultery against our spouses from May 1993 to May 13, 1995 and we hereby ask forgiveness and assure our spouses that this thing will never happen again with us or any other person. We assure that we will no longer see each other nor have any communication directly or indirectly. We shall comply with our duties as husband and wife to our spouses and assure that there will be no violence against them. That any behaviour unbecoming a husband or wife henceforth shall give rise to legal action against us; We shall never violate this assurance;

We, the offended spouses Elizabeth F. Florendo and Elpidio Tiong forgive our spouses and assure them that we will not institute any criminal or legal action against them because we have forgiven them. If they violate this agreement we will institute legal action.

This document consists of four (4) typewritten copies and each party has been furnished a copy and this document shall have no validity unless signed by all the parties.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have set out hands this 15th day of May 1995 at Baguio City, Philippines.

(SIGNED) (SIGNED) GEORGE M. FLORENDO ELPIDIO TIONG

(SIGNED) (SIGNED) MA. ELENA T. TIONG ELIZABETH F. FLORENDO"

Notwithstanding, complainant instituted the present suit for disbarment on May 23, 1995 charging respondent of gross immorality and grave misconduct. In his Answer3, respondent admitted the material allegations of the complaint but interposed the defense of pardon.

In the Resolution4 dated September 20, 1995, the Court resolved to refer the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation and decision.

Finding merit in the complaint, the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), through Commissioner Agustinus V. Gonzaga, submitted its Report and Recommendation5 dated September 21, 2007 for the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for one (1) year, which was adopted and approved by the IBP Board of Governors in its Resolution6 dated October 19, 2007. Respondent's Motion for Reconsideration7 therefrom was denied in the Resolution8 dated June 26, 2011.

Hence, the instant petition on the sole issue whether the pardon extended by complainant in the Affidavit dated May 15, 1995 is sufficient to warrant the dismissal of the present disbarment case against respondent for gross immoral conduct.

After due consideration, the Court resolves to adopt the findings and recommendation of the IBP-CBD except as to the penalty imposed.

The pertinent provisions in the Code of Professional Responsibility provide, thus:

"CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.

Rule 1.01. - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. xxxx

CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR. xxxx

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."

It has been consistently held by the Court that possession of good moral character is not only a condition for admission to the Bar but is a continuing requirement to maintain one's good standing in the legal profession. It is the

bounden duty of law practitioners to observe the highest degree of morality in order to safeguard the integrity of the Bar.9 Consequently, any errant behaviour on the part of a lawyer, be it in his public or private activities, which tends to show him deficient in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor, is sufficient to warrant his suspension or disbarment.

In this case, respondent admitted his illicit relationship with a married woman not his wife, and worse, that of his client. Contrary to respondent's claim, their consortium cannot be classified as a mere "moment of indiscretion"10 considering that it lasted for two (2) years and was only aborted when complainant overheard their amorous phone conversation on March 13, 1995.

Respondent's act of having an affair with his client's wife manifested his disrespect for the laws on the sanctity of marriage and his own marital vow of fidelity. It showed his utmost moral depravity and low regard for the ethics of his profession.11 Likewise, he violated the trust and confidence reposed on him by complainant which in itself is prohibited under Canon 1712 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Undeniably, therefore, his illicit relationship with Ma. Elena amounts to a disgraceful and grossly immoral conduct warranting disciplinary action from the Court.13 Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that an attorney may be disbarred or suspended from his office by the Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in office, grossly immoral conduct, among others.

Respondent, however, maintains that he cannot be sanctioned for his questioned conduct because he and Ma. Elena had already been pardoned by their respective spouses in the May 15, 1995 Affidavit14.

The Court disagrees.

It bears to stress that a case of suspension or disbarment is sui generis and not meant to grant relief to a complainant as in a civil case but is intended to cleanse the ranks of the legal profession of its undesirable members in order to protect the public and the courts. It is not an investigation into the acts of respondent as a husband but on his conduct as an officer of the Court and his fitness to continue as a member of the Bar.15 Hence, the Affidavit dated March 15, 1995, which is akin to an affidavit of desistance, cannot have the effect of abating the instant proceedings.16

However, considering the circumstances of this case, the Court finds that a penalty of suspension from the practice of law for six (6) months, instead of one (1) year as recommended by the IBP-CBD, is adequate sanction for the grossly immoral conduct of respondent.

WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. GEORGE M. FLORENDO is hereby found GUILTY of Gross Immorality and is SUSPENDEDfrom the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS effective upon notice hereof, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Decision be entered in the personal record of respondent as a member of the Philippine Bar and furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-26868

February 27, 1969

IN THE MATTER OF ATTORNEY LOPE E. ADRIANO Member of the Philippine Bar. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. REMIGIO ESTEBIA, accused-appellant. SANCHEZ, J.: Once again, this Court is confronted with the unwanted task of ascertaining whether certain acts and conduct of a member of the Bar deserve disciplinary action. The problem arose because of facts that follow: One Remigio Estebia was convicted of rape by the Court of First Instance of Samar, 1 and sentenced to suffer the capital punishment. His case came up before this Court on review. On December 14, 1966, Lope E. Adriano, a member of the Bar, was appointed by this Court as Estebia's counsel de oficio. In the notice of his appointment, Adriano was required to prepare and file his brief within thirty days from notice. He was advised that to enable him to examine the case, the record would be at his disposal. Adriano received this notice on December 20, 1966. On January 19, 1967, Adriano sought for a 30-day extension to file appellant's brief in mimeographed form. On February 18, Adriano again moved for a 20-day extension (his second). This was followed by a third filed on March 8, for fifteen days. And a fourth on March 27, also for fifteen days. He moved for a "last" extension of ten days on April 11. On April 21, he even sought a special extension of five days. All these motions for extension were granted. The brief was due on April 26, 1967. But no brief was filed. On September 25, 1967, Adriano was ordered to show cause within ten days from notice thereof why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for failure to file appellant's brief despite the lapse of the time therefor. Adriano did not bother to give any explanation. For failing to comply with the September 25, 1967 resolution, this Court, on October 3, 1968, resolved to impose upon him a fine of P500 payable to this Court within fifteen days from notice with a warning that upon further noncompliance with the said resolution of September 25, 1967 within the same period of fifteen days, "more drastic disciplinary action will be taken against him." Still, counsel paid no heed.

Finally, on December 5, 1968, this Court ordered Adriano to show cause within ten days from notice thereof why he should not be suspended from the practice of law "for gross misconduct and violation of his oath of office as attorney." By express order of this Court, the resolution was personally served upon him on December 18, 1968. He ignored the resolution. Upon the facts just narrated, we now pass judgment. 1. By specific authority, this Court may assign an attorney to render professional aid to a destitute appellant in a criminal case who is unable to employ an attorney. Correspondingly, a duty is imposed upon the lawyer so assigned "to render the required service." 2 A lawyer so appointed "as counsel for an indigent prisoner", our Canons of Professional Ethics demand, "should always exert his best efforts" in the indigent's behalf. 3 No excuse at all has been offered for non-presentation of appellant's brief. And yet, between December 20, 1966, when he received notice of his appointment, and December 5, 1968, when the last show cause order was issued by this Court, more than sufficient time was afforded counsel to prepare and file his brief de oficio. The death sentence below imposed was upon a plea of guilty. The record of the proceedings leading to the lower court's sentence consists of but 31 pages. Counsel had the record since January 19, 1967. In fact, in his third motion for extension of time, he manifested that the drafting of apellant's brief "is more than half-way through" and that "additional time is needed to review, effectuate the necessary corrections, put in final form and print the said brief." In his motion for fourth extension, he intimated that the preparation of the brief "is almost through" and that "additional time is needed to redraft and rehash some significant portions of said brief and have the same stencilled and mimeographed upon completion of a definitive text." His motion for last (fifth) extension of time came with the excuse that he "suddenly got sick (influenza) in the course of redrafting and rehashing some significant portions of said brief, which ailment hampered and interrupted his work thereon for sometime." Finally, in his "Special Extension of Time" to file brief, he claimed that he needed only five days from April 21, 1967 to put said brief in final form and have the same stencilled and mimeographed.lawphi1.nt In the face of the fact that no brief has ever been filed, counsel's statements in his motions for extension have gone down to the level of empty and meaningless words; at best, have dubious claim to veracity. It is true that he is a court-appointed counsel. But we do say that as such counsel de oficio, he has as high a duty to the accused as one employed

and paid by defendant himself. Because, as in the case of the latter, he must exercise his best efforts and professional ability in behalf of the person assigned to his care. His is to render effective assistance. The accused defendant expects of him due diligence, not mere perfunctory representation. We do not accept the paradox that responsibility is less where the defended party is poor. It has been said that courts should "have no hesitancy in demanding high standards of duty of attorneys appointed to defend indigent persons charged with crime." 4 For, indeed, a lawyer who is a vanguard in the bastion of justice is expected to have a bigger dose of social conscience and a little less of self interest. Because of this, a lawyer should remain ever conscious of his duties to the indigent he defends. Worth remembering is the 1905 case of In the matter of Jose Robles Lahesa. 5 He was counsel de oficiobefore the Supreme Court in two cases: one for robo en cuadrilla and the other for homicide. He failed to take any action in behalf of the defendants in both eases. This Court imposed upon him a fine of P200. Significant is the pronouncement we there made that: "This court should exact from its officers and subordinates the most scrupulous performance of their official duties, especially when negligence in the performance of those duties necessarily result in delays in the prosecution of criminal cases and the detention of accused persons pending appeal." The validity of the foregoing observation remains to the present day. 6 It applies to the present case. Here, appellant was without brief since December 20, 1966. The effect of this long delay need not be essayed. We, therefore, find that Attorney Lope E. Adriano has violated his oath that he will conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his "knowledge and discretion". 2. An attorney's duty of prime importance is "[t]o observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers. The first Canon of the Code of Ethics enjoins a lawyer "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." By the oath of office, the lawyer undertook to "obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities." In People vs. Carillo, 8 this Court's pointed observation was that as an officer of the court, it is a lawyer's "sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice." Here, we have a clear case of an attorney whose acts exhibit willful disobedience of lawful orders of this Court. A cause sufficient is thus present for

suspension or disbarment. 9 Counsel has received no less than three resolutions of this Court requiring compliance of its orders. To be recalled is that on September 25, 1967, this Court directed him, in ten days from notice, to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for his failure to file appellant's brief despite the lapse of the time therefor. Nothing was done by counsel for over a year. To impress upon counsel the gravity of his repeated failure to obey this Court's orders, on October 3,1968, a fine of P500 was clamped upon him. He was directed to pay that fine in ten days. He was in that order also required to file his brief in fifteen days. He was warned that more drastic disciplinary action would be taken upon his failure to do either. Still he remained unmoved. Then, this Court issued the peremptory order of December 5, 1968 commanding him to show cause within ten days from notice thereof why he should not be suspended from the practice of law for gross misconduct and violation of his oath of office. The Court made it certain that this order would reach him. He personally acknowledged receipt thereof. He has not paid the fine. He has done nothing. This is 1969. No brief has as yet been filed. And this, inspite of the fact that as early as March 27, 1967, when he moved for a fourth extension of time to file his brief de oficio, he represented to this Court that all that was needed was to redraft and to rehash some significant portions of the brief which was almost through and to have the same stencilled and mimeographed upon completion of a definitive text. Disrespect is here present. Contumacy is as patent. Disciplinary action is in order. Controlling here is the 1961 decision In the Matter of Atty. Filoteo Dianala Jo. There, as here, counsel failed to file appellant's brief (in a criminal case) despite extensions of time granted him by this Court. Likewise, this Court issued a show-cause order why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. The explanation was considered unsatisfactory. This Court imposed a fine of P50 payable in ten days from notice. Attorney Dianala Jo did not pay that fine. Came the subsequent resolution of this Court advising him to pay the fine, otherwise, he would be arrested and confined to jam. This warning was not heeded. On November 18, 1960, the Court resolved to give him ten days from notice within which to explain why he should not be suspended from the practice of law. Despite receipt of this notice, he did not care to explain his behaviour which this Court considered as "consumacy and unwillingness to comply with the lawful orders of this Court of which he is an officer or to
10

conduct himself as a lawyer should, in violation of his oath of office." He was suspended from the practice of law for three months. In the present case, counsel's pattern of conduct, it would seem to us, reveals a propensity on the part of counsel to benumb appreciation of his obligation as counsel de oficio and of the courtesy and respect that should be accorded this Court. For the reasons given, we vote to suspend Attorney Lope E. Adriano from the practice of law throughout the Philippines for a period of one (1) year. Let a copy of this resolution be attached to the personal record, in this Court, of Lope E. Adriano as member of the Bar. So ordered. PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, Complainant, Present: A.C. No. 6672

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, CARPIO, - versus CORONA, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO and BERSAMIN, JJ.

ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO, Respondent. Promulgated:

September 4, 2009

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

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

This is a complaint for disbarment[1] filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services.

Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients[2] to transfer legal representation. Respondent promised them financial assistance[3] and expeditious collection on their claims.[4] To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them and sent them text messages.

To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit[5] of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000. Complainant also attached respondents calling card:[6]

Front

NICOMEDES TOLENTINO LAW OFFFICE CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Fe Marie L. Labiano

Paralegal

1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01 6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar Grace Park, Caloocan City Fax: (632) 362-7821 Cel.: (0926) 2701719

Tel: 362-7820

Back SERVICES OFFERED: CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT, INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS ABROAD. (emphasis supplied)

Hence, this complaint.

Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the said calling card.[7]

The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.[8]

Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and recommendation,[9]found that respondent had encroached on the professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.02[10] and other canons[11] of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he contravened the rule against soliciting cases for gain, personally or through paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 138[12] of the Rules of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be reprimanded with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a heavier penalty.

We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent but we modify the recommended penalty.

The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent into complainants professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said misconduct themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules.

Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the manner by which a lawyers services are to be made known. Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:

CANON 3 - A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS LEGAL SERVICES SHALL USE ONLY TRUE, HONEST, FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTIVE INFORMATION OR STATEMENT OF FACTS. Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares.[13] To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession in the publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is called.[14]

Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides:

RULE 2.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT DO OR PERMIT TO BE DONE ANY ACT DESIGNED PRIMARILY TO SOLICIT LEGAL BUSINESS.

Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers.[15] Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.[16]

Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides:

RULE 1.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT, FOR ANY CORRUPT MOTIVE OR INTEREST, ENCOURAGE ANY SUIT OR PROCEEDING OR DELAY ANY MANS CAUSE.

This rule proscribes ambulance chasing (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in order to gain employment)[17] as a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty.[18]

Complainant presented substantial evidence[19] (consisting of the sworn statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal business as well as profited from referrals suits.

Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he later admitted it during the mandatory hearing.

Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the strength of Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result.

Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.

With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers client nor induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services.[20] Again the Court notes that respondent never denied having these seafarers in his client list nor receiving benefits from Labianos referrals. Furthermore, he never denied Labianos connection to his office.[21] Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into anothers legal practice. He cannot escape liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR.

Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04:

Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.

The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is handling for the client.

The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so that the free exercise of his judgment may not be adversely affected.[22] It seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his entire devotion and fidelity to the clients cause. If the lawyer lends money to the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in effect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the case or an additional stake in its outcome.[23] Either of these circumstances may lead the lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client, or to accept a settlement which may take care of his interest in the verdict to the prejudice of the client in violation of his duty of undivided fidelity to the clients cause.[24]

As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice[25] which calls for the exercise of the Courts disciplinary powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining employment.[26]Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession.

Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the prohibition on lending money to clients), the sanction recommended by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed penalty is grossly incommensurate to its findings.

A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyers best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and conduct.[27] For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional cards.

Professional calling cards may only contain the following details:

(a)

lawyers name;

(b) (c) (d) (e)

name of the law firm with which he is connected; address; telephone number and special branch of law practiced.[28]

Labianos calling card contained the phrase with financial assistance. The phrase was clearly used to entice clients (who already had representation) to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance their legal actions. Money was dangled to lure clients away from their original lawyers, thereby taking advantage of their financial distress and emotional vulnerability. This crass commercialism degraded the integrity of the bar and deserved no place in the legal profession. However, in the absence of substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly responsible for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling cards.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator to be circulated to all courts.

SO ORDERED. G.R. No. L-35113 March 25, 1975

EUGENIO CUARESMA, petitioner, vs. MARCELO DAQUIS, PHHC, CESAR NAVARRO, NICANOR GUEVARRA, Sheriff of Quezon City or his Deputy and JUDGE PACIFICO P. DE CASTRO, respondents. ATTORNEY MACARIO O. DIRECTO, respondent. RESOLUTION

FERNANDO, J.:+.wph!1 The predicament in which respondent Macario O. Directo, a member of the Philippine bar, now finds himself is one of his own making. In a petition for certiorari filed with this Court on behalf of one Eugenio Cuaresma, he included the following categorical allegations: "4. That your petitioner has no knowledge of the existence of said case (Civil Case No. 12176, CFI of Rizal, Quezon City Branch) aforecited between the respondents Marcelo Daquis, PHHC, and Cesar Navarro, and wherein the respondent Judge, [gave] due course to the complaint, and the subject matter in litigation; 5. That on May 26, 1972, the respondent Judge issued an order of demolition, ordering the respondent Sheriff of Quezon City or his deputy to demolish the house of your petitioner etc., and on the same day May 26, 1972, the Sheriff of Quezon City through his deputy [gave] three (3) days to your petitioner to remove his house or face demolition, ... ;6 ... 7. That your petitioner was not given a day in court to present his side of the case, in violation of law, and of the dictum of due process of the constitution, ... " 1 Thereafter, after receipt of the comments of respondents, it turned out, as set forth in a resolution of this Court of August 4, 1972, "that petitioner was fully aware of the existence of said civil case because on December 14, 1971 Atty. Macario Directo, as counsel of petitioner, addressed to respondent Marcelo Daquis a letter which indicates that both counsel and petitioner were aware of the existence of the case. It also appears that, before respondents Marcelo Daquis and Cesar Navarro filed a motion for a writ of Possession in Civil Case No. Q-12176, petitioner Eugenio Cuaresma, along with the other occupants of the lot in question, was given thirty (30) days notice to vacate the premises which period was even extended for another thirty (30) days, but that, despite that notice, petitioner Eugenio Cuaresma refused to vacate the lot involved in the case. It further appears that on May 3, 1972, Atty. Macario Directo, as counsel for petitioner, filed a motion for intervention in the aforementioned Civil Case No. Q-12176; and on May 13, 1972, same counsel filed a motion to quash or recall the writ of execution, and

an opposition to the issuance of a writ of demolition. On May 22, 1972, respondent Judge Pacifico de Castro issued an order denying the motion to intervene as well as the motion to quash or recall the writ of execution." 2 It was then set forth in such resolution that there was no truth to the allegation that on May 27, 1972, the date of the filing of the petition for certiorari in the present case, petitioner had no knowledge of the existence of Civil Case No. 12176. Respondent Macario O. Directo was then given ten days to show cause why no disciplinary action should be taken against him for deliberately making false allegations in such petition. Thereafter, on August 16, 1972, came a pleading which he entitled Compliance. This is his explanation: "What your petitioner honestly meant when he alleged that he [has] no knowledge of the existence of said Civil Case No. 12176, CFI of Rizal, Quezon City Branch, was from the time the plaintiff Marcelo Daquis instituted the said case in June 1968 up to and after the time the Court issued the decision in the year 1970. The plaintiff Marcelo Daquis entered into a conditional contract of sale of the lot involved in said Civil Case No. 12176 with the PHHC. There were four (4) purchasers, the plaintiff, two others, and your petitioner. Because of the requirement of the PHHC that only one of them should enter into the contract, Marcelo Daquis was chosen by the others to enter into the same. Since this was a sale on installment basis, by agreement of all the purchasers, duly acknowledged by the PHHC, the monthly dues of the petitioner and the two others, were remitted to Marcelo Daquis, who in turn remits the same to the PHHC. In June 1968 plaintiff Marcelo Daquis instituted Civil Case No. 12176 in the CFI of Quezon City. From June 1968 up to the time and after the decision was issued by the court, plaintiff Marcelo Daquis never informed your petitioner of the said case." 3 He reiterated in a later paragraph that all he wanted to convey was that his knowledge of the aforesaid civil case came only after the decision was issued. He closed his Compliance with the plea that if there were any mistake committed, "it had been an honest one, and would say in all sincerity that there was no deliberate attempt and intent on his part of misleading this Honorable Court, honestly and totally unaware of any false allegation in the petition." 4 The above explanation lends itself to the suspicion that it was a mere afterthought. It could very well be that after his attention was called to the misstatements in his petition, he decided on such a version as a way out. That is more than a bare possibility. There is the assumption though of good faith. That is in his favor. Moreover, judging from the awkwardly worded petition and

even his compliance quite indicative of either carelessness or lack of proficiency in the handling of the English language, it is not unreasonable to assume that his deficiency in the mode of expression contributed to the inaccuracy of his statements. While a mere disclaimer of intent certainly cannot exculpate him, still, in the spirit of charity and forbearance, a penalty of reprimand would suffice. At least, it would serve to impress on respondent that in the future he should be much more careful in the preparation of his pleadings so that the least doubt as to his intellectual honesty cannot be entertained. Every member of the bar should realize that candor in the dealings with the Court is of the very essence of honorable membership in the profession. WHEREFORE, Attorney Macario O. Directo is reprimanded. Let a copy of this resolution be spread on his record ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office,complainant, vs. ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, respondent. [G.R. No. 157053. August 19, 2003] ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, petitioner, vs. IBP COMMISSION ON BAR DISCIPLINE and ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., in his capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office,respondents. RESOLUTION YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: This administrative complaint arose from a paid advertisement that appeared in the July 5, 2000 issue of the newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reads: ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist 532-4333/521-2667.[1] Ms. Ma. Theresa B. Espeleta, a staff member of the Public Information Office of the Supreme Court, called up the published telephone number and pretended to be an interested party. She spoke to Mrs. Simbillo, who claimed that her husband, Atty. Rizalino Simbillo, was an expert in handling annulment cases and can guarantee a court decree within four to six months, provided the case will not involve separation of property or custody of children. Mrs. Simbillo also said that her husband charges a fee of P48,000.00, half of which is payable at the time of filing of the case and the other half after a decision thereon has been rendered. Further research by the Office of the Court Administrator and the Public Information Office revealed that similar advertisements were published in the

August 2 and 6, 2000 issues of the Manila Bulletin and August 5, 2000 issue of The Philippine Star.[2] On September 1, 2000, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief of the Public Information Office, filed an administrative complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo for improper advertising and solicitation of his legal services, in violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.[3] In his answer, respondent admitted the acts imputed to him, but argued that advertising and solicitation per se are not prohibited acts; that the time has come to change our views about the prohibition on advertising and solicitation; that the interest of the public is not served by the absolute prohibition on lawyer advertising; that the Court can lift the ban on lawyer advertising; and that the rationale behind the decades-old prohibition should be abandoned. Thus, he prayed that he be exonerated from all the charges against him and that the Court promulgate a ruling that advertisement of legal services offered by a lawyer is not contrary to law, public policy and public order as long as it is dignified.[4] The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation.[5] On June 29, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline passed Resolution No. XV-2002-306,[6] finding respondent guilty of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court, and suspended him from the practice of law for one (1) year with the warning that a repetition of similar acts would be dealt with more severely. The IBP Resolution was noted by this Court on November 11, 2002.[7] In the meantime, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration,[8] which was denied by the IBP in Resolution No. XV-2002-606 dated October 19, 2002[9] Hence, the instant petition for certiorari, which was docketed as G.R. No. 157053 entitled, Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo, Petitioner versus IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., Asst. Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office, Respondents. This petition was consolidated with A.C. No. 5299 per the Courts Resolution dated March 4, 2003. In a Resolution dated March 26, 2003, the parties were required to manifest whether or not they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis

of the pleadings.[10] Complainant filed his Manifestation on April 25, 2003, stating that he is not submitting any additional pleading or evidence and is submitting the case for its early resolution on the basis of pleadings and records thereof. [11] Respondent, on the other hand, filed a Supplemental Memorandum on June 20, 2003. We agree with the IBPs Resolutions Nos. XV-2002-306 and XV-2002-606. Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility read: Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business. Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states: SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do so. It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law is not a business.[12] It is a profession in which duty to public service, not money, is the primary consideration. Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits.[13] The gaining of a livelihood should be a secondary consideration.[14] The duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to themselves.[15] The following elements distinguish the legal profession from a business: 1. A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a by-product, and in which one may attain the highest eminence without making much money; 2. A relation as an officer of the court to the administration of justice involving thorough sincerity, integrity and reliability;

3.

A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary;

4. A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness, and unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising and encroachment on their practice, or dealing directly with their clients.[16] There is no question that respondent committed the acts complained of. He himself admits that he caused the publication of the advertisements. While he professes repentance and begs for the Courts indulgence, his contrition rings hollow considering the fact that he advertised his legal services again after he pleaded for compassion and after claiming that he had no intention to violate the rules. Eight months after filing his answer, he again advertised his legal services in the August 14, 2001 issue of the Buy & Sell Free Ads Newspaper.[17] Ten months later, he caused the same advertisement to be published in the October 5, 2001 issue of Buy & Sell.[18] Such acts of respondent are a deliberate and contemptuous affront on the Courts authority. What adds to the gravity of respondents acts is that in advertising himself as a self-styled Annulment of Marriage Specialist, he wittingly or unwittingly erodes and undermines not only the stability but also the sanctity of an institution still considered sacrosanct despite the contemporary climate of permissiveness in our society. Indeed, in assuring prospective clients that an annulment may be obtained in four to six months from the time of the filing of the case,[19] he in fact encourages people, who might have otherwise been disinclined and would have refrained from dissolving their marriage bonds, to do so. Nonetheless, the solicitation of legal business is not altogether proscribed. However, for solicitation to be proper, it must be compatible with the dignity of the legal profession. If it is made in a modest and decorous manner, it would bring no injury to the lawyer and to the bar.[20] Thus, the use of simple signs stating the name or names of the lawyers, the office and residence address and fields of practice, as well as advertisement in legal periodicals bearing the same brief data, are permissible. Even the use of calling cards is now acceptable.[21] Publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canon, of brief biographical and informative data is likewise allowable. As explicitly stated in Ulep v. Legal Clinic, Inc.:[22] Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of the lawyers name and the names of his professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place

of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation, degrees and other educational distinctions; public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with their written consent, the names of clients regularly represented. The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is published principally for other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a law list the conduct, management, or contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower dignity or standing of the profession. The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with, address, telephone number and special branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed in a telephone directory but not under a designation of special branch of law. (emphasis and italics supplied) WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO is found GUILTY of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR effective upon receipt of this Resolution. He is likewise STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely. Let copies of this Resolution be entered in his record as attorney and be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and guidance. SO ORDERED [A.M. No. P-99-1292. February 26, 1999]

JULIETA BORROMEO SAMONTE, complainant, vs. ATTY. ROLANDO R. GATDULA, Branch Clerk of Court,respondent. RESOLUTION GONZAGA-REYES, J.: The complaint filed by Julieta Borromeo Samonte charges Rolando R. Gatdula, RTC, Branch 220, Quezon City with grave misconduct consisting in the alleged engaging in the private practice of law which is in conflict with his official functions as Branch Clerk of Court. Complainant alleges that she is the authorized representative of her sister Flor Borromeo de Leon, the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 37-14552 for ejectment filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 37. A typographical error was committed in the complaint which stated that the address of defendant is No. 63-C instead of 63-B, P. Tuazon Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City. The mistake was rectified by the filing of an amended complaint which was admitted by the Court. A decision was rendered in favor of the plaintiff who subsequently filed a motion for execution. Complainant however, was surprised to receive a temporary restraining order signed by Judge Prudencio Castillo of Branch 220, RTC, Quezon City, where Atty. Rolando Gatdula is the Branch Clerk of Court, enjoining the execution of the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court. Complainant alleges that the issuance of the temporary restraining order was hasty and irregular as she was never notified of the application for preliminary injunction. Complainant further alleges that when she went to Branch 220, RTC, Quezon City, to inquire about the reason for the issuance of the temporary restraining order, respondent Atty. Rolando Gatdula, blamed her lawyer for writing the wrong address in the complaint for ejectment and told her that if she wanted the execution to proceed, she should change her lawyer and retain the law office of respondent at the same time giving his calling card with the name "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera" with office at Rm. 220 Mariwasa Bldg., 717 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City; otherwise she will not be able to eject the defendant Dave Knope. Complainant told respondent that she could not decide because she was only representing her sister. To her consternation, the RTC Branch 220 issued an order granting the preliminary injunction as threatened by respondent despite the fact that the MTC, Branch 37 had issued an Order directing the execution of the Decision in Civil Case No. 37-14552.

Asked to comment, respondent Atty. Gatdula recited the antecedents in the ejectment case and the issuance of the restraining order by the Regional Trial Court, and claimed that contrary to complainant Samonte's allegation that she was not notified of the raffle and the hearing, the Notice of Hearing on the motion for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order was duly served upon the parties, and that the application for injunctive relief was heard before the temporary restraining order was issued. The preliminary injunction was also set for hearing on August 7, 1996. The respondent's version of the incident is that sometime before the hearing of the motion for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, complainant Samonte went to court "very mad" because of the issuance of the order stopping the execution of the decision in the ejectment case. Respondent tried to calm her down, and assured her that the restraining order was only temporary and that the application for preliminary injunction would still be heard. Later the Regional Trial Court granted the application for a writ of preliminary injunction. The complainant went back to court "fuming mad" because of the alleged unreasonableness of the court in issuing the injunction. Respondent Gatdula claims that thereafter complainant returned to his office, and informed him that she wanted to change counsel and that a friend of hers recommended the Law Finn of "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera," at the same time showing a calling card, and asking if he could handle her case. Respondent refused as he was not connected with the law firm, although he was invited to join but he chose to remain in the judiciary. Complainant returned to court a few days later and told him that if he cannot convince the judge to recall the writ of preliminary injunction, she will file an administrative case against respondent and the judge. The threat was repeated but the respondent refused to be pressured. Meanwhile, the Complainant's Motion to Dissolve the Writ of Preliminary Injunction was denied. Respondent Gatdula claims that the complainant must have filed this administrative charge because of her frustration in procuring the ejectment of the defendant lessee from the premises. Respondent prays for the dismissal of the complaint against him. The case was referred to Executive Judge Estrella Estrada, RTC, Quezon City, for investigation, report and recommendation. In her report Judge Estrada states that the case was set for hearing three times, on September 7, 1997, on September 17, and on September 24, 1997, but neither complainant nor her counsel appeared, despite due notice. The

return of service of the Order setting the last hearing stated that complainant is still abroad. There being no definite time conveyed to the court for the return of the complainant, the investigating Judge proceeded with the investigation by "conducting searching questions" upon respondent based on the allegations in the complaint and asked for the record of Civil Case No. Q-96-28187 for evaluation. The case was set for hearing for the last time on October 22, 1997, to give complainant a last chance to appear, but there was again no appearance despite notice. The respondent testified in his own behalf to affirm the statements in his Comment and submitted documentary evidence consisting mainly of the pleadings in MTC Civil Case No. 37-14552, and in RTC Civil Case No. Q9628187 to show that the questioned orders of the court were not improperly issued. The investigating judge made the following findings: "For failure of the complainant to appear at the several hearings despite notice, she failed to substantiate her allegations in the complaint particularly that herein respondent gave her his calling card and tried to convince her to change her lawyer. This being the case, it cannot be established with certainty that respondent indeed gave her his calling card and even convinced her to change her lawyer. Moreover, as borne by the records of Civil Case No. Q-96-28187, complainant was duly notified of all the proceedings leading to the issuance of the TRO and the subsequent orders of Judge Prudencio Altre Castillo, Jr. of RTC, Branch 220. Complainant's lack of interest in prosecuting this administrative case could be an indication that her filing of the charge against the respondent is only intended to harass the respondent for her failure to obtain a favorable decision from the Court. However, based on the record of this administrative case, the calling card attached as Annex "B" of complainant's affidavit dated September 25, 1996 allegedly given by respondent to complainant would show that the name of herein respondent was indeed included in the BALIGOD, GATDULA, TACARDON, DIMAILIG & CELERA LAW OFFICES. While respondent denied having assumed any position in said office, the fact remains that his name is included therein which may therefore tend to show that he has dealings with said office. Thus, while he may not be actually and directly employed with the firm, the fact that his name appears on the calling card as a partner in the Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig & Celera Law Offices give the impression that he is connected therein and may constitute an act of solicitation and

private practice which is declared unlawful under Republic Act No. 6713. It is to be noted, however, that complainant failed to establish by convincing evidence that respondent actually offered to her the services of their law office. Thus, the violation committed by respondent in having his name included/retained in the calling card may only be considered as a minor infraction for which he must also be administratively sanctioned." and recommended that Atty. Gatdula be admonished and censured for the minor infraction he has committed. Finding: We agree with the investigating judge that the respondent is guilty of an infraction. The complainant by her failure to appear at the hearings, failed to substantiate her allegation that it was the respondent who gave her the calling card of "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera Law Offices" and that he tried to convince her to change counsels. We find however, that while the respondent vehemently denies the complainant's allegations, he does not deny that his name appears on the calling card attached to the complaint which admittedly came into the hands of the complainant. The respondent testified before the Investigating Judge as follows: "Q: How about your statement that you even gave her a calling card of the "Baligod, Gatdula, Pardo, Dimailig and Celera law Offices at Room 220 Mariwasa building? A: I vehemently deny the allegation of the complainant that I gave her a calling card. I was surprised when she presented (it) to me during one of her followups of the case before the court. She told me that a friend of hers recommended such firm and she found out that my name is included in that firm. I told her that I have not assumed any position in that law firm. And I am with the Judiciary. since I passed the bar. It is impossible for me to enter an appearance as her counsel in the very same court where I am the Branch Clerk of Court." The above explanation tendered by the Respondent is an admission that it is his name which appears on the calling card, a permissible form of advertising or solicitation of legal services.[1] Respondent does not claim that the calling card was printed without his knowledge or consent and the calling card[2] carries his name primarily and the name of "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera with address at 220 Mariwasa Bldg., 717 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City" in the left comer. The card clearly gives the impression that he is connected with the said law firm. The inclusion/retention of his name in the professional card constitutes an act of solicitation which violates

Section 7 sub-par. (b)(2) of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as "Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees" which declares it unlawful for a public official or employee to, among others: "(2) Engage in the private practice of their profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with official functions." Time and again this Court has said that the conduct and behavior of every one connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk. should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. His conduct, at all times must not only be characterized by proprietor and decorum but above all else must be above suspicion.[3] WHEREFORE, respondent Rolando R. Gatdula. Branch Clerk of Court, RTC, Branch 220, Quezon City is hereby reprimanded for engaging in the private practice of law with the warning that a repetition of the same offense will be dealt with more severely. He is further ordered to cause the exclusion of his name in the firm name of any office engaged in the private practice of law. SO ORDERED. A.C. No. 7360 July 24,2012

ATTY. POLICARIO I. CATALAN, JR., Complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSELITO M. SILVOSA, Respondent. DECISION PER CURIAM: This is a complaint filed by Atty. Policarpio I. Catalan, Jr. (Atty. Catalan) against Atty. Joselito M. Silvosa (Atty. Silvosa). Atty. Catalan has three causes of action against Atty. Silvosa; (1) Atty. Silvosa appeared as counsel for the accused in the same case for which he previously appeared as prosecutor; (2) Atty. Silvosa bribed his then colleague Prosecutor Phoebe Toribio (Pros.Toribio) for P30,000; and (3) the Sandiganbayan convicted Atty. Silvosa in Criminal Case No. 27776 for direct bribery. Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commissioner for Bar Discipline Dennis A.B. Funa (Comm. Funa) held Atty. Silvosa liable only for the first cause of action and recommended the penalty of reprimand. The Board of Governors of the IBP twice modified Comm. Funas

recommendation: first, to a suspension of six months, then to a suspension of two years. Atty. Silvosa was an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Bukidnon and a Prosecutor in Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 10, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. Atty. Silvosa appeared as public prosecutor in Criminal Case No. 10256-00, "People of the Philippines v. SPO2 Elmor Esperon y Murillo, et al." (Esperon case), for the complex crime of double frustrated murder, in which case Atty. Catalan was one of the private complainants. Atty. Catalan took issue with Atty. Silvosas manner of prosecuting the case, and requested the Provincial Prosecutor to relieve Atty. Silvosa. In his first cause of action, Atty. Catalan accused Atty. Silvosa of appearing as private counsel in a case where he previously appeared as public prosecutor, hence violating Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.1Atty. Catalan also alleged that, apart from the fact that Atty. Silvosa and the accused are relatives and have the same middle name, Atty. Silvosa displayed manifest bias in the accuseds favor. Atty. Silvosa caused numerous delays in the trial of the Esperon case by arguing against the position of the private prosecutor. In 2000, Provincial Prosecutor Guillermo Ching granted Atty. Catalans request to relieve Atty. Silvosa from handling the Esperon case. The RTC rendered judgment convicting the accused on 16 November 2005. On 23 November 2005, Atty. Silvosa, as private lawyer and as counsel for the accused, filed a motion to reinstate bail pending finality of judgment of the Esperon case. In his second cause of action, Atty. Catalan presented the affidavit of Pros. Toribio. In a case for frustrated murder where Atty. Catalans brother was a respondent, Pros. Toribio reviewed the findings of the investigating judge and downgraded the offense from frustrated murder to less serious physical injuries. During the hearing before Comm. Funa, Pros. Toribio testified that, while still a public prosecutor at the time, Atty. Silvosa offered her P30,000 to reconsider her findings and uphold the charge of frustrated murder. Finally, in the third cause of action, Atty. Catalan presented the Sandiganbayans decision in Criminal Case No. 27776, convicting Atty. Silvosa of direct bribery on 18 May 2006. Nilo Lanticse (Lanticse) filed a complaint against Atty. Silvosa before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Despite the execution of an affidavit of desistance by the complainant in a homicide case in favor of Lanticses father-in-law, Arsenio Cadinas (Cadinas), Cadinas still remained in detention for more than two years. Atty. Silvosa demanded P15,000 from Lanticse for the dismissal of the case and for the release of

Cadinas. The NBI set up an entrapment operation for Atty. Silvosa. GMA 7s television program Imbestigador videotaped and aired the actual entrapment operation. The footage was offered and admitted as evidence, and viewed by the Sandiganbayan. Despite Atty. Silvosas defense of instigation, the Sandiganbayan convicted Atty. Silvosa. The dispositive portion of Criminal Case No. 27776 reads: WHEREFORE, this court finds JOSELITO M. SILVOSA GUILTY, beyond reasonable doubt, of the crime of direct bribery and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of: (A) Imprisonment of, after applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, one year, one month and eleven days of prision correccional, as minimum, up to three years, six months and twenty days of prision correccional, as maximum; (B) Fine of TEN THOUSAND PESOS (Php 10,000.00), with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and (C) All other accessory penalties provided for under the law. SO ORDERED.2 In his defense, on the first cause of action, Atty. Silvosa states that he resigned as prosecutor from the Esperon case on 18 October 2002. The trial court released its decision in the Esperon case on 16 November 2005 and cancelled the accuseds bail. Atty. Silvosa claims that his appearance was only for the purpose of the reinstatement of bail. Atty. Silvosa also denies any relationship between himself and the accused. On the second cause of action, Atty. Silvosa dismisses Pros. Toribios allegations as "self-serving" and "purposely dug by [Atty. Catalan] and his puppeteer to pursue persecution." On the third cause of action, while Atty. Silvosa admits his conviction by the Sandiganbayan and is under probation, he asserts that "conviction under the 2nd paragraph of Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code, do [sic] not involve moral turpitude since the act involved do [sic] not amount to a crime." He further claims that "it is not the lawyer in respondent that was convicted, but his capacity as a public officer, the charge against respondent for which he was convicted falling under the category of crimes against public officers x x x." In a Report and Recommendation dated 15 September 2008, Comm. Funa found that:

As for the first charge, the wordings and prohibition in Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility [are] quite clear. [Atty. Silvosa] did intervene in Criminal Case No. 10246-00. [Atty. Silvosas] attempt to minimize his role in said case would be unavailing. The fact is that he is presumed to have acquainted himself with the facts of said case and has made himself familiar with the parties of the case. Such would constitute sufficient intervention in the case. The fact that, subsequently, [Atty. Silvosa] entered his appearance in said case only to file a Motion to Post Bail Bond Pending Appeal would still constitute a violation of Rule 6.03 as such act is sufficient to establish a lawyer-client relation. As for the second charge, there is certain difficulty to dissect a claim of bribery that occurred more than seven (7) years ago. In this instance, the conflicting allegations are merely based on the word of one person against the word of another. With [Atty. Silvosas] vehement denial, the accusation of witness [Pros.] Toribio stands alone unsubstantiated. Moreover, we take note that the alleged incident occurred more than seven (7) years ago or in 1999, [l]ong before this disbarment case was filed on November 2006. Such a long period of time would undoubtedly cast doubt on the veracity of the allegation. Even the existence of the bribe money could not be ascertained and verified with certainty anymore. As to the third charge, [Atty. Silvosa] correctly points out that herein complainant has no personal knowledge about the charge of extortion for which [Atty. Silvosa] was convicted by the Sandiganbayan. [Atty. Catalan] was not a party in said case nor was he ever involved in said case. The findings of the Sandiganbayan are not binding upon this Commission. The findings in a criminal proceeding are not binding in a disbarment proceeding. No evidence has been presented relating to the alleged extortion case. PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is submitted that [Atty. Silvosa] is GUILTY only of the First Charge in violating Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and should be given the penalty of REPRIMAND. Respectfully submitted.3 In a Resolution dated 9 October 2008, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved with modification the Report and Recommendation of Comm. Funa and suspended Atty. Silvosa from the practice of law for six months. In another Resolution dated 28 October 2011, the IBP Board of Governors increased the penalty of Atty. Silvosas suspension from the practice of law to two years. The

Office of the Bar Confidant received the notice of the Resolution and the records of the case on 1 March 2012. We sustain the findings of the IBP only in the first cause of action and modify its recommendations in the second and third causes of action. Atty. Catalan relies on Rule 6.03 which states that "A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service." Atty. Silvosa, on the hand, relies on Rule 2.01 which provides that "A lawyer shall not reject, except for valid reasons the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed" and on Canon 14 which provides that "A lawyer shall not refuse his services to the needy." We agree with Comm. Funas finding that Atty. Silvosa violated Rule 6.03. When he entered his appearance on the Motion to Post Bail Bond Pending Appeal, Atty. Silvosa conveniently forgot Rule 15.03 which provides that "A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of facts." Atty. Silvosas attempts to minimize his involvement in the same case on two occasions can only be described as desperate. He claims his participation as public prosecutor was only to appear in the arraignment and in the pre-trial conference. He likewise claims his subsequent participation as collaborating counsel was limited only to the reinstatement of the original bail. Atty. Silvosa will do well to take heed of our ruling in Hilado v. David:4 An attorney is employed that is, he is engaged in his professional capacity as a lawyer or counselor when he is listening to his clients preliminary statement of his case, or when he is giving advice thereon, just as truly as when he is drawing his clients pleadings, or advocating his clients pleadings, or advocating his clients cause in open court. xxxx 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. 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 Caesars wife, not only to keep inviolate the clients 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. Indeed, the prohibition against representation of conflicting interests applies although the attorneys intentions were honest and he acted in good faith.5 Atty. Silvosa denies Pros. Toribios accusation of bribery and casts doubt on its veracity by emphasizing the delay in presenting a complaint before the IBP. Comm. Funa, by stating that there is difficulty in ascertaining the veracity of the facts with certainty, in effect agreed with Atty. Silvosa. Contrary to Comm. Funas ruling, however, the records show that Atty. Silvosa made an attempt to bribe Pros. Toribio and failed. Pros. Toribio executed her affidavit on 14 June 1999, a day after the failed bribery attempt, and had it notarized by Atty. Nemesio Beltran, then President of the IBP-Bukidnon Chapter. There was no reason for Pros. Toribio to make false testimonies against Atty. Silvosa. Atty. Silvosa, on the other hand, merely denied the accusation and dismissed it as persecution. When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he denies the charges against him. He must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him. He must show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is expected of him.6 Atty. Silvosa failed in this respect. Unfortunately for Atty. Silvosa, mere delay in the filing of an administrative complaint against a member of the bar does not automatically exonerate a respondent. Administrative offenses do not prescribe. No matter how much time has elapsed from the time of the commission of the act complained of and the time of the institution of the complaint, erring members of the bench and bar cannot escape the disciplining arm of the Court.7 We disagree with Comm. Funas ruling that the findings in a criminal proceeding are not binding in a disbarment proceeding. First, disbarment proceedings may be initiated by any interested person. There can be no doubt of the right of a citizen to bring to the attention of the proper authority acts and doings of public officers which a citizen feels are incompatible with the duties of the office and from which conduct the public might or does suffer undesirable consequences.8 Section 1, Rule 139-B reads:

Section 1. How Instituted. Proceedings for the disbarment, suspension, or discipline of attorneys may be taken by the Supreme Court motu proprio, or by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) upon the verified complaint of any person. The complaint shall state clearly and concisely the facts complained of and shall be supported by affidavits of persons having personal knowledge of the facts therein alleged and/or by such documents as may substantiate said facts. The IBP Board of Governors may, motu proprio or upon referral by the Supreme Court or by a Chapter Board of Officers, or at the instance of any person, initiate and prosecute proper charges against erring attorneys including those in government service. xxxx It is of no moment that Atty. Catalan is not the complainant in Criminal Case No. 27776, and that Lanticse, the complainant therein, was not presented as a witness in the present case. There is no doubt that the Sandiganbayans judgment in Criminal Case No. 27776 is a matter of public record and is already final. Atty. Catalan supported his allegation by submitting documentary evidence of the Sandiganbayans decision in Criminal Case No. 27776. Atty. Silvosa himself admitted, against his interest, that he is under probation. Second, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude is a ground for disbarment. Moral turpitude is defined as an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes to his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.9 Section 27, Rule 138 provides: Section 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court; grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. (Emphasis supplied)

In a disbarment case, this Court will no longer review a final judgment of conviction.10 Third, the crime of direct bribery is a crime involving moral turpitude. In Magno v. COMELEC,11 we ruled: By applying for probation, petitioner in effect admitted all the elements of the crime of direct bribery: 1. the offender is a public officer; 2. the offender accepts an offer or promise or receives a gift or present by himself or through another; 3. such offer or promise be accepted or gift or present be received by the public officer with a view to committing some crime, or in consideration of the execution of an act which does not constitute a crime but the act must be unjust, or to refrain from doing something which it is his official duty to do; and 4. the act which the offender agrees to perform or which he executes is connected with the performance of his official duties. Moral turpitude can be inferred from the third element. The fact that the offender agrees to accept a promise or gift and deliberately commits an unjust act or refrains from performing an official duty in exchange for some favors, denotes a malicious intent on the part of the offender to renege on the duties which he owes his fellowmen and society in general. Also, the fact that the offender takes advantage of his office and position is a betrayal of the trust reposed on him by the public. It is a conduct clearly contrary to the accepted rules of right and duty, justice, honesty and good morals. In all respects, direct bribery is a crime involving moral turpitude. (Italicization in the original) Atty. Silvosas representation of conflicting interests and his failed attempt at bribing Pros. Toribio merit at least the penalty of suspension.1wphi1 Atty. Silvosas final conviction of the crime of direct bribery clearly falls under one of the grounds for disbarment under Section 27 of Rule 138. Disbarment follows as a consequence of Atty. Silvosas conviction of the crime. We are constrained to impose a penalty more severe than suspension because we find that Atty. Silvosa is predisposed to flout the exacting standards of morality and decency required of a member of the Bar. His excuse that his conviction was not in his

capacity as a lawyer, but as a public officer, is unacceptable and betrays the unmistakable lack of integrity in his character. The practice of law is a privilege, and Atty. Silvosa has proved himself unfit to exercise this privilege. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Joselito M. Silvosa is hereby DISBARRED and his name ORDERED STRICKENfrom the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondents personal record as attorney. Likewise, copies shall be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to the Office of the Court Administration for circulation to all courts in the country. SO ORDERED.

March 23, 1929 In re LUIS B. TAGORDA, Duran & Lim for respondent. Attorney-General Jaranilla and Provincial Fiscal Jose for the Government. MALCOLM, J.: The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of the provincial board of Isabela, admits that previous to the last general elections he made use of a card written in Spanish and Ilocano, which, in translation, reads as follows: LUIS B. TAGORDA Attorney Notary Public CANDIDATE FOR THIRD MEMBER Province of Isabela (NOTE. As notary public, he can execute for you a deed of sale for the purchase of land as required by the cadastral office; can renew lost documents of your animals; can make your application and final requisites for your homestead; and can execute any kind of affidavit. As a lawyer, he can help you collect your loans although long overdue, as well as any complaint for or against you. Come or write to him in his town, Echague, Isabela. He offers free consultation, and is willing to help and serve the poor.)

The respondent further admits that he is the author of a letter addressed to a lieutenant of barrio in his home municipality written in Ilocano, which letter, in translation, reads as follows: ECHAGUE, ISABELA, September 18, 1928 MY DEAR LIEUTENANT: I would like to inform you of the approaching date for our induction into office as member of the Provincial Board, that is on the 16th of next month. Before my induction into office I should be very glad to hear your suggestions or recommendations for the good of the province in general and for your barrio in particular. You can come to my house at any time here in Echague, to submit to me any kind of suggestion or recommendation as you may desire. I also inform you that despite my membership in the Board I will have my residence here in Echague. I will attend the session of the Board of Ilagan, but will come back home on the following day here in Echague to live and serve with you as a lawyer and notary public. Despite my election as member of the Provincial Board, I will exercise my legal profession as a lawyer and notary public. In case you cannot see me at home on any week day, I assure you that you can always find me there on every Sunday. I also inform you that I will receive any work regarding preparations of documents of contract of sales and affidavits to be sworn to before me as notary public even on Sundays. I would like you all to be informed of this matter for the reason that some people are in the belief that my residence as member of the Board will be in Ilagan and that I would then be disqualified to exercise my profession as lawyer and as notary public. Such is not the case and I would make it clear that I am free to exercise my profession as formerly and that I will have my residence here in Echague. I would request you kind favor to transmit this information to your barrio people in any of your meetings or social gatherings so that they may be informed of my desire to live and to serve with you in my capacity as lawyer and notary public. If the people in your locality have not as yet contracted the services of other lawyers in connection with the registration of their land titles, I would be willing to handle the work in court and would charge only three pesos for every registration. Yours respectfully, (Sgd.) LUIS TAGORDA Attorney Notary Public.

The facts being conceded, it is next in order to write down the applicable legal provisions. Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure as originally conceived related to disbarments of members of the bar. In 1919 at the instigation of the Philippine Bar Association, said codal section was amended by Act No. 2828 by adding at the end thereof the following: "The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." The statute as amended conforms in principle to the Canons of Professionals Ethics adopted by the American Bar Association in 1908 and by the Philippine Bar Association in 1917. Canons 27 and 28 of the Code of Ethics provide: 27. ADVERTISING, DIRECT OR INDIRECT. The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, and especially with his brother lawyers, is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced, but must be the outcome of character and conduct. The publication or circulation of ordinary simple business cards, being a matter of personal taste or local custom, and sometimes of convenience, is not per se improper. But solicitation of business by circulars or advertisements, or by personal communications or interview not warranted by personal relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure business by indirection through touters of any kind, whether allied real estate firms or trust companies advertising to secure the drawing of deeds or wills or offering retainers in exchange for executorships or trusteeships to be influenced by the lawyer. Indirect advertisement for business by furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation, defy the traditions and lower the tone of our high calling, and are intolerable. 28. STIRRING UP LITIGATION, DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AGENTS. It is unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer advice to bring a lawsuit, except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his duty to do so. Stirring up strife and litigation is not only unprofessional, but it is indictable at common law. It is disreputable to hunt up defects in titles or other causes of action and inform thereof in order to the employed to bring suit, or to breed litigation by seeking out those with claims for personal injuries or those having any other grounds of action in order to secure them as clients, or to employ agents or runners for like purposes, or to pay or reward directly or indirectly, those who bring or influence the bringing of such cases to his office, or to remunerate policemen, court or prison officials, physicians, hospital attaches or others who may succeed, under the guise of giving disinterested friendly advice, in influencing the criminal, the sick and the injured, the ignorant

or others, to seek his professional services. A duty to the public and to the profession devolves upon every member of the bar having knowledge of such practices upon the part of any practitioner immediately to inform thereof to the end that the offender may be disbarred. Common barratry consisting of frequently stirring up suits and quarrels between individuals was a crime at the common law, and one of the penalties for this offense when committed by an attorney was disbarment. Statutes intended to reach the same evil have been provided in a number of jurisdictions usually at the instance of the bar itself, and have been upheld as constitutional. The reason behind statutes of this type is not difficult to discover. The law is a profession and not a business. The lawyer may not seek or obtain employment by himself or through others for to do so would be unprofessional. (State vs. Rossman [1909], 53 Wash., 1; 17 Ann. Cas., 625; Peoplevs. Mac Cabe [1893], 19 L. R. A., 231; 2 R. C. L., 1097.) It becomes our duty to condemn in no uncertain terms the ugly practice of solicitation of cases by lawyers. It is destructive of the honor of a great profession. It lowers the standards of that profession. It works against the confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar. It results in needless litigation and in incenting to strife otherwise peacefully inclined citizens. The solicitation of employment by an attorney is a ground for disbarment or suspension. That should be distinctly understood. Giving application of the law and the Canons of Ethics to the admitted facts, the respondent stands convicted of having solicited cases in defiance of the law and those canons. Accordingly, the only remaining duty of the court is to fix upon the action which should here be taken. The provincial fiscal of Isabela, with whom joined the representative of the Attorney-General in the oral presentation of the case, suggests that the respondent be only reprimanded. We think that our action should go further than this if only to reflect our attitude toward cases of this character of which unfortunately the respondent's is only one. The commission of offenses of this nature would amply justify permanent elimination from the bar. But as mitigating, circumstances working in favor of the respondent there are, first, his intimation that he was unaware of the impropriety of his acts, second, his youth and inexperience at the bar, and, third, his promise not to commit a similar mistake in the future. A modest period of suspension would seem to fit the case of the erring attorney. But it should be distinctly understood that this result is reached in view of the considerations which have influenced the court to the relatively lenient in this particular instance and should, therefore, not be taken as indicating that future convictions of practice of this kind will not be dealt with by disbarment.

In view of all the circumstances of this case, the judgment of the court is that the respondent Luis B. Tagorda be and is hereby suspended from the practice as an attorney-at-law for the period of one month from April 1, 1929, Street, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur. Johnson, J., reserves his vote.