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THIRD DIVISION [A.C. No. 9537. June 10, 2013.] [Formerly CBD Case No. 09-2489] DR. TERESITA LEE, complainant, vs. ATTY. AMADOR L.

SIMANDO, respondent. PERALTA, J p: Before us is a Petition for Disbarment 1 dated July 21, 2009 filed by Dr. Teresita Lee (Dr. Lee) against respondent Atty. Amador L. Simando (Atty. Simando) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), docketed as CBD Case No. 09-2489, now A.C. No. 9537, for violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics of Lawyers. The facts of the case, as culled from the records, are as follows: Atty. Simando was the retained counsel of complainant Dr. Lee from November 2004 until January 8, 2008, with a monthly retainer fee of Three Thousand Pesos (Php3,000.00). 2 Sometime during the above-mentioned period, Atty. Simando went to see Dr. Lee and asked if the latter could help a certain Felicito M. Mejorado (Mejorado) for his needed funds. He claimed that Mejorado was then awaiting the release of his claim for informer's reward from the Bureau of Customs. Because Dr. Lee did not know Mejorado personally and she claimed to be not in the business of lending money, the former initially refused to lend money. But Atty. Simando allegedly persisted and assured her that Mejorado will pay his obligation and will issue postdated checks and sign promissory notes. He allegedly even offered to be the co-maker of Mejorado and assured her that Mejorado's obligation will be paid when due. Atty. Simando was quoted saying: "Ipapahamak ba kita, kliyente kita"; "Sigurado ito, kung gusto mo, gagarantiyahan ko pa ito, at pipirma din ako"; "Isang buwan lang, at hindi hihigit sa dalawang buwan ito, bayad ka na." 3 AIHDcC Due to Atty. Simando's persistence, his daily calls and frequent visits to convince Dr. Lee, the latter gave in to her lawyer's demands, and finally agreed to give Mejorado sizeable amounts of money. Respondent acted as co-maker with Mejorado in various cash loans, to wit: 4 Date: Amount November 11, 2006 Php400,000.00 November 24, 2006 November 27, 2006 December 7, 2006 December 13, 2006 200,000.00 400,000.00 200,000.00 200,000.00 ––––––––––––––

Total:

Php1,400,000.00 =============

When the said obligation became due, despite Dr. Lee's repeated demands, Mejorado failed and refused to comply with his obligation. Since Atty. Simando was still her lawyer then, Dr. Lee instructed him to initiate legal action against Mejorado. Atty. Simando said he would get in touch with Mejorado and ask him to pay his obligation without having to resort to legal action. However, even after several months, Mejorado still failed to pay Dr. Lee, so she again asked Atty. Simando why no payment has been made yet. Dr. Lee then reminded Atty. Simando that he was supposed to be the comaker of the obligation of Mejorado, to which he replied: "Di kasuhan din ninyo ako!" 5 Despite complainant's repeated requests, respondent ignored her and failed to bring legal actions against Mejorado. Thus, in January 2008, complainant was forced to terminate her contract with Atty. Simando. Subsequently, complainant's new lawyer, Atty. Gilbert Morandarte, sent a demand letter dated June 13, 2008 to Atty. Simando in his capacity as the co-maker of some of the loans of Mejorado. In his Letter dated June 30, 2008, respondent denied his liability as a co-maker and claimed that novation had occurred because complainant had allegedly given additional loans to Mejorado without his knowledge. 6 Dr. Lee then accused Atty. Simando of violating the trust and confidence which she gave upon him as her lawyer, and even took advantage of their professional relationship in order to get a loan for his client. Worse, when the said obligation became due, respondent was unwilling to help her to favor Mejorado. Thus, the instant petition for disbarment against Atty. Simando. ADECcI On August 12, 2009, the IBP-CBD ordered respondent to submit his Answer on the complaint against him. 7 In his Answer 8 dated September 17, 2009, Atty. Simando claimed that complainant, who is engaged in lending money at a high interest rate, was the one who initiated the financial transaction between her and Mejorado. He narrated that complainant asked him if it is true that Mejorado is his client as she found out that Mejorado has a pending claim for informer's reward with the Bureau of Customs. When he affirmed that Mejorado is his client, complainant signified that she is willing to give money for Mejorado's financial needs while awaiting for the release of the informer's reward. Eventually, parties agreed that Mejorado will pay double the amount and that payment shall be made upon receipt by Mejorado of the payment of his claim for informer's reward. 9

Meanwhile, Atty. Simando stressed that Dr. Lee gave Mejorado a total of Php700,000.00 as an investment but he signed as co-maker in all the receipts showing double the amount or Php1,400,000.00. 10 Respondent claimed that complainant is a money-lender exacting high interest rates from borrowers. 11 He narrated several instances and civil cases where complainant was engaged in money-lending where he divulged that even after defendants had already paid their loan, complainant still persists in collecting from them. 12 Respondent asserted that he knew of these transactions, because he was among the four lawyers who handled complainant's case. 13 Respondent averred that from the time that Mejorado and Dr. Lee had become close to each other, the latter had given Mejorado additional investments and one (1) Silverado Pick-up at the price of P500,000.00 and fifty (50) sacks of old clothings. He claimed that the additional investments made by Dr. Lee to Mejorado were given without his knowledge. Atty. Simando further alleged that with Dr. Lee's investment of around P2 Million which included the Silverado Pick-up and the fifty (50) sacks of old clothings, the latter required Mejorado to issue five (5) checks with a total value of P7,033,500.00, an amount more than the actual value which Mejorado received. 14 DCESaI Atty. Simando added that while Dr. Lee and Mejorado agreed that the issued checks shall be presented to the bank only upon payment of his informer's reward, Dr. Lee presented the checks to the bank despite being aware that Mejorado's account had no funds for said checks. Atty. Simando further denied that he refused to take legal action against Mejorado. He claimed that complainant never instructed him to file legal action, since the latter knew that Mejorado is obligated to pay only upon receipt of his informer's reward. Finally, Atty. Simando insisted that he did not violate their lawyer-client relationship, since Dr. Lee voluntarily made the financial investment with Mejorado and that he merely introduced complainant to Mejorado. He further claimed that there is no conflict of interest because he is Mejorado's lawyer relative to the latter's claim for informer's reward, and not Mejorado's lawyer against Dr. Lee. He reiterated that there is no conflicting interest as there was no case between Mejorado and Dr. Lee that he is handling for both of them. 15 In her Reply dated October 30, 2009, Dr. Lee denied that what she entered into was a mere investment. She insisted that she lent the money to Mejorado and respondent, in his capacity as co-maker and the transaction was actually a loan. 16 To prove her claim, Dr. Lee submitted the written loan agreements/receipts which categorically stated that the money received was a loan with due dates, signed by Mejorado and respondent as co-maker. 17 She further claimed that she did not know Mejorado and it was respondent who brought him to her and requested her to assist Mejorado by

lending him money as, in fact, respondent even vouched for Mejorado and agreed to sign as co-maker. Complainant further emphasized that what she was collecting is the payment only of the loan amounting to One Million Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php1,400,000.00) which respondent had signed as co-maker. Thus, respondent's claim that his obligation was already extinguished by novation holds no water, since what was being collected is merely his obligation pertaining to the loan amounting to Php1,400,000.00 only, and nothing more. Finally, complainant lamented that respondent, in his comments, even divulged confidential informations he had acquired while he was still her lawyer and even used it against her in the present case, thus, committing another unethical conduct. She, therefore, maintained that respondent is guilty of violating the lawyer-client confidentiality rule. HaEcAC Both parties failed to appear during the mandatory conference on January 15, 2010. Both parties requested for resetting of the mandatory conference, however, both failed to agree on a certain date. Hence, the IBP, so as not to delay the disposition of the complaint, terminated the mandatory conference and instead required the parties to submit their respective position papers. 18 On March 18, 2010, the IBP-CBD found Atty. Simando guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility. It recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months. On December 29, 2010, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of the IBP-CBD to suspend Atty. Simando from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months. Respondent moved for reconsideration. On March 10, 2012, the IBP Board of Governors granted respondent's motion for reconsideration for lack of sufficient evidence to warrant the penalty of suspension. The Resolution dated December 29, 2010 was reversed and the case against respondent was dismissed. RULING We reverse the ruling of the IBP Board of Governors. Jurisprudence has provided three tests in determining whether a lawyer is guilty of representing conflicting interest: One test is whether a lawyer is duty-bound to fight for an issue or claim in behalf of one client and, at the same time, to oppose that claim for the other

client. Thus, if a lawyer's argument for one client has to be opposed by that same lawyer in arguing for the other client, there is a violation of the rule. EACTSH Another test of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the lawyer's duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that duty. Still another test is whether the lawyer would be called upon in the new relation to use against a former client any confidential information acquired through their connection or previous employment. 19 In the instant case, we find substantial evidence to support respondent's violation of the above parameters, as established by the following circumstances on record: First, it is undisputed that there was a lawyer-client relationship between complainant and Atty. Simando as evidenced by the retainer fees received by respondent and the latter's representation in certain legal matters pertaining to complainant's business; Second, Atty. Simando admitted that Mejorado is another client of him albeit in a case claiming rewards against the Bureau of Customs; Third, Atty. Simando admitted that he was the one who introduced complainant and Mejorado to each other for the purpose of entering into a financial transaction while having knowledge that complainant's interests could possibly run in conflict with Mejorado's interests which ironically such client's interests, he is duty-bound to protect; SHTcDE Fourth, despite the knowledge of the conflicting interests between his two clients, respondent consented in the parties' agreement and even signed as co-maker to the loan agreement; Fifth, respondent's knowledge of the conflicting interests between his two clients was demonstrated further by his own actions, when he: (a)failed to act on Mejorado's failure to pay his obligation to complainant despite the latter's instruction to do so; (b)denied liability despite signing as co-maker in the receipts/promissory notes arising from the loan agreement between his two clients; (c)rebutted complainant's allegations against Mejorado and him, and even divulged informations he acquired while he was still complainant's lawyer.

Clearly, it is improper for respondent to appear as counsel for one party (complainant as creditor) against the adverse party (Mejorado as debtor) who is also his client, since a lawyer is prohibited from representing conflicting interests. He may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a person whose interest conflict with that of his present or former client. Respondent's assertion that there is no conflict of interest because complainant and respondent are his clients in unrelated cases fails to convince. His representation of opposing clients in both cases, though unrelated, obviously constitutes conflict of interest or, at the least, invites suspicion of double-dealing. 20 Moreover, with the subject loan agreement entered into by the complainant and Mejorado, who are both his clients, readily shows an apparent conflict of interest, moreso when he signed as comaker. IEDHAT Likewise, respondent's argument that the money received was an investment and not a loan is difficult to accept, considering that he signed as co-maker. Respondent is a lawyer and it is objectionable that he would sign as co-maker if he knew all along that the intention of the parties was to engage in a mere investment. Also, as a lawyer, signing as a co-maker, it can be presupposed that he is aware of the nature of suretyship and the consequences of signing as co-maker. Therefore, he cannot escape liability without exposing himself from administrative liability, if not civil liability. Moreover, we noted that while complainant was able to show proof of receipts of various amounts of money loaned and received by Mejorado, and signed by the respondent as co-maker, the latter, however, other than his bare denials, failed to show proof that the money given was an investment and not a loan. It must be stressed that the proscription against representation of conflicting interests finds application where the conflicting interests arise with respect to the same general matter however slight the adverse interest may be. It applies even if the conflict pertains to the lawyer's private activity or in the performance of a function in a nonprofessional capacity. In the process of determining whether there is a conflict of interest, an important criterion is probability, not certainty, of conflict. 21 We likewise note that respondent offered several excuses in order to avoid payment of his liability. First, in his Answer to complainant's demand letter, he claimed there was novation which extinguished his liability; Secondly, he claimed that the amount received by Mejorado for which he signed as co-maker was merely an investment and not a loan. Finally, he alleged that it was agreed that the investment with profits will be paid only after Mejorado receives the payment for his claim for reward which complainant violated when she presented the checks for payment prematurely. These actuations of Atty. Simando do not speak well of his reputation as a lawyer. 22 Finally, we likewise find respondent guilty of violating Rule 21.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. 23 In his last-ditch effort to impeach the credibility of complainant, he divulged informations 24 which he acquired in confidence during the existence of their lawyer-client relationship. HaECDI

We held in Nombrado v. Hernandez 25 that the termination of the relation of attorney and client provides no justification for a lawyer to represent an interest adverse to or in conflict with that of the former client. The reason for the rule is that the client's confidence once reposed cannot be divested by the expiration of the professional employment. Consequently, a lawyer should not, even after the severance of the relation with his client, do anything which will injuriously affect his former client in any matter in which he previously represented him nor should he disclose or use any of the client's confidences acquired in the previous relation. Accordingly, we reiterate that lawyers are enjoined to look at any representation situation from "the point of view that there are possible conflicts," and further, "to think in terms of impaired loyalty" that is to evaluate if his representation in any way will impair loyalty to a client. 26 WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court resolves to ADOPT the findings and recommendation of the IBP in Resolution No. XIX-2010-733 suspending respondent Atty. Amador L. Simando for six (6) months from the practice of law, with a WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense will warrant a more severe penalty. Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts, the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for their information and guidance. The Office of the Bar Confidant is DIRECTED to append a copy of this Decision to respondent's record as member of the Bar. Atty. Simando is DIRECTED to inform the Court of the date of his receipt of this Decision so that we can determine the reckoning point when his suspension shall take effect. This Decision shall be immediately executory. SO ORDERED. Velasco, Jr., Abad, Mendoza and Leonen, JJ., concur.

one of whom would lose the suit. The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies to a situation where the opposing parties are present clients in the same action or in an unrelated action. As we explained in the case of Hilado vs. Such being the case. while herein respondent signed the pleadings for the Gatcheco spouses only with his name. — In similar cases where the respondent was found guilty of representing conflicting interests a penalty ranging from one to three years' suspension was imposed.. his name and signature appear.LEGAL ETHICS. — The claim of respondent that there is no conflict of interests in this case.. . ID. without any mention of the law firm..00. ID. It is well-settled that a lawyer is barred from representing conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. — We note the affidavit of desistance filed by Gonzales. ID. can not sanction his taking up the cause of the adversary of the party who had sought and obtained legal advice from his firm. PROPER PENALTY CONSIDERING THE MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES IN CASE AT BAR. However. Such prohibition is founded on principles of public policy and good taste as the nature of the lawyer-client relations is one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. 3. CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY. at the very least. but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers.. "into public disrepute and suspicion and undermine the integrity of justice.. No. Without condemning the respondent's conduct as dishonest.03. [W]e . 2006. though unrelated. Thus. constitutes conflict of interests or. it was their law firm which represented Gonzales in the civil case. ID. not necessarily to prevent any injustice to the plaintiff but to keep above reproach the honor and integrity of the courts and of the bar. the rule against representing conflicting interests applies. thus. complainant. It had the tendency to bring the profession. still he should have observed the requirements laid down by the rules by conferring with the prospective client to ascertain as soon as practicable whether the matter would involve a conflict with another client then seek the written consent of all concerned after a full disclosure of the facts. As recounted by complainant herself. as the civil case handled by their law firm where Gonzales is the complainant and the criminal cases filed by Gonzales against the Gatcheco spouses are not related. CABUCANA.C. One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the lawyer's duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that duty.FIRST DIVISION [A. corrupt.ID. We do not agree. has no merit. DE GUZMAN AND CABUCANA LAW OFFICE. ID. his claim that he could not turn down the spouses as no other lawyer is willing to take their case cannot prosper as it is settled that while there may be instances where lawyers cannot decline representation they cannot be made to labor under conflict of interest between a present client and a prospective one. . invites suspicion of double-dealing which this Court cannot allow. David: . we are not bound by such desistance as the present case involves public interest. 6836. We also note the observation of the IBP Commissioner Reyes that there was no malice and bad faith in respondent's acceptance of the Gatchecos' cases as shown by the move of complainant to withdraw the case.03 of Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. or fraudulent. It is of no moment that the lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which the lawyer has to oppose for the other client. January 23.." The claim of respondent that he acted in good faith and with honest intention will also not exculpate him as such claim does not render the prohibition inoperative. which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.] LETICIA GONZALES. ID. The representation of opposing clients in said cases. Granting also that there really was no other lawyer who could handle the spouses' case other than him. Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and taking into consideration the aforementioned mitigating circumstances. — We find respondent guilty of violating Rule 15. It is enough that the opposing parties in one case.. of which he is a distinguished member. RESOLUTION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ. CANNOT BE IGNORED BY THE FILING OF AFFIDAVIT OF DESISTANCE. Lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence. MARCELINO CABUCANA. PROHIBITION AGAINST REPRESENTING CONFLICTING INTEREST. ATTY. Atty. J p: . we impose the penalty of fine of P2. but to protect the court and the public against an attorney guilty of unworthy practices in his profession. 4. Respondent further argued that it was his brother who represented Gonzales in the civil case and not him. Bamba. In the same manner. ID. SYLLABUS 1. . we do believe that upon the admitted facts it is highly inexpedient. for violation of the Rule 15. respondent. VIOLATED IN CASE AT BAR. ELUCIDATED.. 2. Edmar Cabucana signed the civil case of complainant by stating first the name of the law firm CABUCANA.ID. under which.. . or that there would be no occasion to use the confidential information acquired from one to the disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly unrelated. Indeed.. As respondent admitted. there could be no conflict of interest. this. are present clients and the nature or conditions of the lawyer's respective retainers with each of them would affect the performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to both clients. ID.. These respondent failed to do thus exposing himself to the charge of double-dealing. the Court's exercise of its power to take cognizance of administrative cases against lawyers is not for the purpose of enforcing civil remedies between parties. We shall consider however as mitigating circumstances the fact that he is representing the Gatcheco spouses pro bono and that it was his firm and not respondent personally. vs.ID.000. which handled the civil cases of Gonzales. As we expounded in the recent case of Quiambao vs.

00 as attorney's fees. Pilipino. 13 Respondent filed his Position Paper restating his allegations in his Answer. 15 On the said date. on February 26. grave threats. 11 Commissioner Demaree Raval of the IBPCBD then directed both parties to file their respective verified position papers. may asawa. Jr. 1-567 where she was represented by the law firm CABUCANA.J. Marcelino Cabucana. notwithstanding the pendency of Civil Case No. only respondent appeared 16 presenting a sworn affidavit executed by Gonzales withdrawing her complaint against respondent. It reads: SINUMPAANG SALAYSAY TUNGKOL SA PAG-UURONG NG DEMANDA Ako. 9 The Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP sent to the parties a Notice of Mandatory Conference dated March 1. and that respondent continues to use the name of De Guzman in their law firm despite the fact that said partner has already been appointed as Assistant Prosecutor of Santiago City. 8 Gonzales filed a Reply contending that the civil case handled by respondent's brother is closely connected with the cases of the Gatchecos which the respondent is handling. 1-567 since it was his brother. nasa tamang edad. 7 In his Answer.01. at nakatira sa Barangay Dubinan East. Edmar Cabucana handling the case and herein respondent as an associate/partner.' The civil case filed by Gonzales where respondent's brother served as counsel is different and distinct from the criminal cases filed by complainant against the Gatcheco spouses. 2001. the present complaint was crafted against respondent which shows that respondent is now the subject of a 'demolition job. respondent declined to serve as counsel of the spouses as he too did not want to incur the ire of the highranking official. the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline ordered Atty. 14 On August 23. simple coercion and unjust vexation.000. Atty. 1 13. He admitted that he is representing Sheriff Gatcheco and his wife in the cases filed against them but claimed that his appearance is pro bono and that the spouses pleaded with him as no other counsel was willing to take their case. a decision was rendered in the civil case ordering the losing party to pay Gonzales the amount of P17.310.01. 1-567. with Atty. respondent averred: He never appeared and represented complainant in Civil Case No. again in violation of the CPR. failed to fully implement the writ of execution issued in connection with the judgment which prompted Gonzales to file a complaint against the said sheriff with this Court. 2004. Cabucana. in September 2003. On January 8. Not long after. Marcelino Cabucana. grave oral defamation. When the Gatchecos asked for his assistance. respondent entered his appearance as defense counsel of the spouses free of any charge. respondent should be disbarred from the practice of law since respondent's acceptance of the cases of the Gatchecos violates the lawyer-client relationship between complainant and respondent's law firm and renders respondent liable under the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) particularly Rules 10. they harassed Gonzales and asked her to execute an affidavit of desistance regarding her complaint before this Court.03.00 with interest and P6.02.02. makaraang manumpa ayon sa batas ay nagsasabing : Ako ang nagdedemanda o petitioner sa CBD Case No.Before this Court is a complaint filed by Leticia Gonzales (Gonzales) praying that Atty. Gonzales filed a petition before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) alleging that: she was the complainant in a case for sum of money and damages filed before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of Santiago City. 6 On January 9." na kasalukuyang nahaharap sa Commission on Bar Discipline ng Integrated Bar of the Philippines . si LETICIA GONZALES. 2004. docketed as Civil Case No. Santiago City. 2004.E. thus. At first. that the claim of respondent that he is handling the cases of the spouses pro bono is not true since he has his own agenda in offering his services to the spouses.01 5 and 21. Sheriff Romeo Gatcheco. where respondent's law firm was still representing Gonzales. 10 On the scheduled conference. Edmar Cabucana who appeared and represented Gonzales in said case. 4 21. and that the allegation that she is filing the cases against the spouses because she is being used by a powerful person is not true since she filed the said cases out of her own free will. Gonzales thereafter filed against the Gatchecos criminal cases for trespass. 04-1186 na may pamagat na "Leticia Gonzales versus Atty. CABUCANA. 3 15. Commissioner Wilfredo E. Sheriff Gatcheco and his wife went to the house of Gonzales. he did not violate any canon on legal ethics. to submit his Answer to the complaint. 2004. that the high-ranking official referred to by respondent is Judge Ruben Plata and the accusations of respondent against the said judge is an attack against a brother in the profession which is a violation of the CPR. only a representative of complainant appeared. 2 15. herein respondent represented the Gatchecos in the cases filed by Gonzales against the said spouses. (respondent) be disbarred for representing conflicting interests. He entered his appearance in good faith and opted to represent the spouses rather than leave them defenseless. Jr. but after realizing that he would be abdicating a sworn duty to delay no man for money or malice. Reyes issued an Order notifying both parties to appear before his office on October 28. 2004 for a clarificatory question regarding said case. DE GUZMAN AND CABUCANA LAW OFFICE. 12 Complainant filed a Memorandum reiterating her earlier assertions and added that respondent prepared and notarized counter-affidavits of the Gatcheco spouses. the spouses said that the cases filed against them by Gonzales were merely instigated by a high ranking official who wanted to get even with them for their refusal to testify in favor of the said official in another case. Marcelino C.

herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A". Jr. Romeo and Anita Gatcheco. Jr.03 of Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. to affirm her statements and to be subject to clarificatory questioning. which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice. aEHADT Makaraang pag-isipang mabuti ang paghain ko ng demanda kontra kay Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana ay walang nalalaman sa naturang di pagkakaintindihan. nakumbinsi ako na ang pagdedemanda ko kay Atty. let it be clarified that contrary to the report of Commissioner Reyes.Ang pagkakahain ng naturang demanda ay nag-ugat sa dipagkakaintindihan na namamagitan sa akin at nina Mr. 2005.gayong nalalaman ko na si Atty. Atty. 25 Lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence. Jr. 2005. . idinawit ko si Atty. at dahil dito ay hindi na ako interesado pang ituloy and naturang kaso. 20 On February 24. 23 With that settled. 2004. a Resolution was passed by the Board of Governors of the IBP. Jr. and considering that respondent made (a) mistake in the acceptance of the administrative case of Romeo Gatcheco. It is well-settled that a lawyer is barred from representing conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Jr. 2005. we find respondent guilty of violating Rule 15. at aking hinihiling sa kinauukulan na dismisin na ang naturang kaso. as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED. Marcelino C. Atty. sa sigalot na namamagitan sa akin at sa mag-asawang Gatcheco.. Marcelino C. portions of which are quoted hereunder: The Undersigned Commissioner believes that the respondent made a mistake in the acceptance of the administrative case of Romeo Gatcheco. and. 1-567 (MTCC Br. Jr. he likewise acted as their counsel in the criminal cases filed by Gonzales against them. Cabucana. Atty. 24Such prohibition is founded on principles of public policy and good taste as the nature of the lawyer-client relations is one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. As respondent himself narrated in his Position Paper. only respondent was present. and Mrs. . Cabucana. However. 2004 requiring Gonzales to appear before him on November 25. 19 On February 17. Marcelino Cabucana. is hereby WARNED and REPRIMANDED and advised to be more circumspect and careful in accepting cases which might result in conflict of interests. 26 . 22 Before going to the merits. finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules. I Santiago City) na inihain ko kontra kay Eduardo Mangano. RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE. 18 However. Jr. 17 Commissioner Reyes issued an Order dated October 28. respondent did not only represent the Gatcheco spouses in the administrative case filed by Gonzales against them. ay isang malaking pagkakamali dahil siya ay walang kinalalaman (sic) sa di pagkakaintindihan naming(sic) ng mag-asawang Gatcheco. 21 On June 25. Marcelino C. Marcelino C. Commissioner Reyes submitted his Report and Recommendation. the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case. to wit: RESOLUTION NO. the Commission (sic) believes that there was no malice and bad faith in the said acceptance and this can be shown by the move of the complainant to unilaterally withdraw the case which she filed against Atty. Cabucana. Cabucana is reminded to be more careful in the acceptance of cases as conflict of interests might arise. Commissioner Reyes then considered the case as submitted for resolution. 03-1186 Leticia Gonzales vs. Cabucana. Marcelino C. Marcelino Cabucana. none of the parties appeared. It is respectfully recommended that Atty. advised to be more circumspect and careful in accepting cases which might result in conflict of interests.03 — A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interest except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Jr. Si Atty. Dahil sa aking galit sa naturang mag-asawa. however. but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers. XVI-2005-153 CBD CASE NO. Cabucana. Cabucana. Ginawa ko ang sinumpaang salaysay na ito upang patotohanan sa lahat ng nakasaad dito. Jr. (be) sternly warned and reprimanded and . to wit: Rule 15. Marcelino C. Nais kong ituwid ang lahat kung kaya't aking iniuurong ang naturang kasong inihain ko kontra kay Atty. Cabucana. Marcelino C. ay di ko rin naging abogado sa Civil Case No.

Without condemning the respondent's conduct as dishonest. not necessarily to prevent any injustice to the plaintiff but to keep above reproach the honor and integrity of the courts and of the bar.. 36 Indeed. can not sanction his taking up the cause of the adversary of the party who had sought and obtained legal advice from his firm. 35 These respondent failed to do thus exposing himself to the charge of double-dealing. 28 The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies to a situation where the opposing parties are present clients in the same action or in an unrelated action. . We note the affidavit of desistance filed by Gonzales. are present clients and the nature or conditions of the lawyer's respective retainers with each of them would affect the performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to both clients. has no merit. while herein respondent signed the pleadings for the Gatcheco spouses only with his name. Jr. It is of no moment that the lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which the lawyer has to oppose for the other client. [W]e . It had the tendency to bring the profession. SO ORDERED. for violation of Rule 15. 27 As we expounded in the recent case of Quiambao vs. Callejo. under which. concur. one of whom would lose the suit. Panganiban. XVI-2005-153 of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is APPROVED with MODIFICATION that respondent Atty. Sr. though unrelated. or that there would be no occasion to use the confidential information acquired from one to the disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly unrelated. . it was their law firm which represented Gonzales in the civil case." 32 The claim of respondent that he acted in good faith and with honest intention will also not exculpate him as such claim does not render the prohibition inoperative. . his claim that he could not turn down the spouses as no other lawyer is willing to take their case cannot prosper as it is settled that while there may be instances where lawyers cannot decline representation they cannot be made to labor under conflict of interest between a present client and a prospective one. As respondent admitted. WHEREFORE. "into public disrepute and suspicion and undermine the integrity of justice. as the civil case handled by their law firm where Gonzales is the complainant and the criminal cases filed by Gonzales against the Gatcheco spouses are not related. thus.One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the lawyer's duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that duty. is FINED the amount of Two Thousand Pesos (P2.00) with a STERN WARNING that a commission of the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely. 39 without any mention of the law firm. which handled the civil case of Gonzales. 30 Respondent further argued that it was his brother who represented Gonzales in the civil case and not him. Thus. of which he is a distinguished member.00. there could be no conflict of interests. or fraudulent. JJ. As recounted by complainant herself. Such being the case. 29 The claim of respondent that there is no conflict of interests in this case.. Marcelino Cabucana. we do believe that upon the admitted facts it is highly inexpedient. 34 Granting also that there really was no other lawyer who could handle the spouses' case other than him.J. the Court's exercise of its power to take cognizance of administrative cases against lawyers is not for the purpose of enforcing civil remedies between parties. It is enough that the opposing parties in one case. Resolution No.000. David: 31 . However. We do not agree. 37 In similar cases where the respondent was found guilty of representing conflicting interests a penalty ranging from one to three years' suspension was imposed. still he should have observed the requirements laid down by the rules by conferring with the prospective client to ascertain as soon as practicable whether the matter would involve a conflict with another client then seek the written consent of all concerned after a full disclosure of the facts. the rule against representing conflicting interests applies. invites suspicion of double-dealing which this Court cannot allow. we are not bound by such desistance as the present case involves public interest. 33 In the same manner. his name and signature appear. C.03. and Chico-Nazario. As we explained in the case of Hilado vs. we impose the penalty of fine of P2. corrupt. . 38 We shall consider however as mitigating circumstances the fact that he is representing the Gatcheco spouses pro bono and that it was his firm and not respondent personally. DE GUZMAN AND CABUCANA LAW OFFICE. .000. Bamba. Ynares-Santiago. CABUCANA. at the very least. this. Edmar Cabucana signed the civil case of complainant by stating first the name of the law firm CABUCANA. We also note the observation of the IBP Commissioner Reyes that there was no malice and bad faith in respondent's acceptance of the Gatchecos' cases as shown by the move of complainant to withdraw the case. constitutes conflict of interests or. but to protect the court and the public against an attorney guilty of unworthy practices in his profession. Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and taking into consideration the aforementioned mitigating circumstances. The representation of opposing clients in said cases. Atty.

There is conflict of interests when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties. the Investigating Commissioner submitted his report with the following recommendation: WHEREFORE.. In the course of a lawyer-client relationship. 4 The prohibition against representing conflicting interest is founded on principles of public policy and good taste. complainant. Danilo de la Torre to prosecute the case against her father's killers. It behooves lawyers not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence. he acceded to their request to . Perez alleged that he is the barangay captain of Binanuaanan. 2 On August 16.EN BANC [A. if he argues for one client. several suspects for murder and kidnapping for ransom. but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. The nature of that relationship is. he was also representing the interest of the victim's family. murder and robbery. Vicky de Chavez. Respondent denied the accusations against him.] NESTOR PEREZ. de la Torre met with and advised Avila and Ilo on one occasion. ATTY. a lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. DECISION YNARES-SANTIAGO. 3 There is a representation of conflicting interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to do anything which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation. de la Torre was representing the said two accused. 2005. and without any proof that he secured the written consent of both parties after explaining to them the existing conflict of interest. the allegations in his complaint. He advised Avila to inform his parents about his decision to make an extrajudicial confession. the complainant has the burden of proving. complainant Nestor Perez charged respondent Atty. The test is "whether or not in behalf of one client. March 30. one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. Calabanga. it is respectfully recommended that Atty. 6160. who testified before Branch 63 of the Regional Trial Court of Camarines Sur that her family retained the services of Atty. respondent was representing the heirs of the murder victim. respondent. and only after he was convinced that Ilo was not under undue compulsion did he assist the accused in executing the extrajudicial confession. DANILO DE LA TORRE. The complainant was able to prove by substantial evidence his charge against Atty. respondent explained that he did not offer his legal services to accused Avila and Ilo but it was the two accused who sought his assistance in executing their extrajudicial confessions. J p: In a letter-complaint 1 dated July 30. that on the strength of the extrajudicial confessions. 2006.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. the Investigating Commissioner opined that: In administrative proceedings. Davide. cases were filed against them. by substantial evidence. but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. 2003 addressed to then Chief Justice Hilario G.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. apprised him of his constitutional rights and of the possibility that he might be utilized as a state-witness. among them Sonny Boy Ilo and Diego Avila. but also to avoid the appearance of impropriety and double-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers." This rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided. Danilo de la Torre with misconduct or conduct unbecoming of a lawyer for representing conflicting interests. By doing precisely the foregoing. that unknown to the two accused. the lawyer learns all the facts connected with the client's case. therefore. The Board of Governors of the IBP modified the recommendation by increasing the period of suspension to two years. The respondent admitted that his services as a lawyer were retained by both Avila and Ilo. which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice. She even admitted that she was present when Atty. The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation. including the weak and strong points of the case. It may not even be improbable that respondent purposely offered to help the accused in order to further his other clients' interest. This is proof that the respondent consciously offered his services to Avila and Ilo despite the fact that he was already representing the family of the two accused's victim. de la Tor[r]e. to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their connection. Nonetheless. Jr. 5 To negate any culpability. RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED. he conferred with Ilo in the presence of his parents. Perez was able to show that at the time that Atty. DIETcH Respondent claimed that when Ilo sought his assistance in executing his extrajudicial confession. No. were apprehended and jailed by the police authorities. SCcHIE Under Rule 15.C. that respondent went to the municipal building of Calabanga where Ilo and Avila were being detained and made representations that he could secure their freedom if they sign the prepared extrajudicial confessions. In finding the respondent guilty of representing conflicting interests. Camarines Sur. We agree with the findings of the IBP except for the recommended penalty. This was declared by the victim's daughter. Respondent is therefore duty bound to refrain from representing two parties having conflicting interests in a controversy. The respondent failed to deny these facts or offer competent evidence to refute the said facts despite the ample opportunity given him. it is the lawyer's duty to fight for an issue or claim. report and recommendation. In brief. vs. this argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client. including herein complainant who was implicated in the extrajudicial confessions as the mastermind in the criminal activities for which they were being charged. He explained that while being detained at the Calabanga Municipal Police Jail. Avila sought his assistance in drafting an extrajudicial confession regarding his involvement in the crimes of kidnapping for ransom. that in December 2001. Danilo de la Torre be suspended for one (1) year from the practice of the legal profession for violation of Rule 15. respondent should be sanctioned.

Clearly. his representation of opposing clients in the murder case invites suspicion of double-dealing and infidelity to his clients. Puno. aCSTDc SO ORDERED. Considering that this is respondent's first infraction.act as counsel after apprising them of their constitutional rights and after being convinced that the accused were under no compulsion to give their confession.J. As found by the IBP.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which prohibits a lawyer from representing conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for representing conflicting interests.. should have exercised his better judgment before conceding to accused's choice of counsel. What is unsettling is that respondent assisted in the execution by the two accused of their confessions whereby they admitted their participation in various serious criminal offenses knowing fully well that he was retained previously by the heirs of one of the victims. Austria-Martinez. aCTHEA The excuse proferred by the respondent does not exonerate him from the clear violation of Rule 15. It did not cross his mind to inhibit himself from acting as their counsel and instead. .. at the time respondent was representing Avila and Ilo. JJ. He is SUSPENDED for THREE YEARS from the practice of law. Corona.. Under the present circumstances. who presumably knows the intricacies of the law. Carpio. Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent and served on the IBP. as well as on the Court Administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for their information and guidance. Danilo de la Torre is found GUILTY of violation of Rule 15. C. Sr. Panganiban. Chico-Nazario and Garcia. Sandoval-Gutierrez. disbarment as sought by the complaint is deemed to be too severe. Atty. WHEREFORE. he even assisted them in executing the extrajudicial confession. Callejo. Azcuna. effective upon his receipt of this Decision. Respondent. we find that a suspension from the practice of law for three years is warranted. Quisumbing. He is WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Carpio-Morales. Tinga. he was representing the family of the murder victim. two of the accused in the murder of the victim Resurreccion Barrios.concur.

they contended that the spouses Falame’s interests are adverse to those of his former client. ADM. in representation of spouses Raleigh and Noemi Falame.[5] However. its registration in the registry of deeds. Transfer Certificate of Title No. CARPIO MORALES. in which Raleigh stated that Lydio owned the property subject of the first civil case. Insisting that he did not betray the confidence reposed in him by Lydio as the latter’s counsel in the first civil case.[9] complainants asserted further. Respondent likewise contended that he did not knowingly make any misleading or untruthful Complainants claimed that even after the Municipal Trial Court of Dipolog City had ruled in favor of the defendants in the . complainants alleged that the second civil case is a baseless and fabricated suit which respondent filed as counsel for complainants’ uncle against the heirs of respondent’s deceased client.[12] respondent controverted complainants’ allegations. Alternatively. Promulgated: March 7. and the real estate mortgage on the said property. Raleigh Falame. [7] Secondly. it prayed for specific performance and reconveyance or legal redemption and damages with preliminary injunction and restraining order. agents and persons acting in their behalf” and docketed as Civil Case No. Jerry A.. 20241 issued as a consequence of the registration of the deed of sale. J. Branch 6. LEO FALAME and JERRY FALAME. Falame. Sugni Realty Holdings and Development Corporations. namely: MELBA FALAME. respondent used and submitted in evidence the following: (1) a special power of attorney dated 1 July 1988 executed by Lydio in favor of his brother.. He emphasizes that it was only Raleigh Falame who personally engaged his legal services for him and on Lydio’s behalf and that. 2008 first civil case. represented by Anastacia Velayo Vda. and (2) the affidavit of Raleigh Falame dated 23 July 1988. respondent maintained that he did not reveal or use any fact he acquired knowledge of during the existence of the attorney-client relation in the first civil case as he had never even conferred with nor talked to Lydio in the first place. which was submitted as evidence in the first civil case.[4] Firstly. Acting Chairperson. Falame. engaged the services of respondent to represent him in an action for forcible entry docketed as Civil Case No. and VELASCO.[3] Complainants recounted that respondent.* TINGA. In so doing. Lydio retained the services of respondent as his legal adviser and counsel for his businesses until Lydio’s death on 8 September 1996. 5568 (the second civil case) before the Regional Trial Court of Dipolog City. Lydio. Section 20 [8] of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Sy. Baguio (respondent). Complainants. Lydio „Jerry‟ Falame. EDGAR J. filed the answer to the complaint in the first civil case. on 23 October 2000. it was Raleigh who paid him the attorney’s fees. 04-1191. Respondent. Edgar J. as counsel for the defendants. Section 20[10] of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Jr. The complaint sought the declaration of nullity of the deed of sale. BAGUIO. J. complainants alleged that on 15 July 1991. complainants maintained that by acting as counsel for the spouses Falame in the second civil case wherein they were impleaded as defendants. in fact. they averred that respondent filed the case for the sole purpose of retaining. Lastly.HEIRS OF LYDIO ―JERRY‖ FALAME. executed before respondent. entitled “Spouses Rally F. De Sy and Belen V. their representatives. Raleigh Falame and Four (4) John Does. Falame and Noemi F. the late Lydio ―Jerry‖ Falame (Lydio). when the parties to the first civil case were required to file their respective position papers.‖ in which Lydio was one of the defendants. docketed as CBD Case No. A-2694 (the first civil case) and entitled “Heirs of Emilio T. AZCUNA.. respondent violated paragraph (d).: On Petition for Review[1] is the Resolution of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Board of Governors dismissing the disbarment complaint filed by the Heirs of Lydio ―Jerry‖ Falame (complainants) against Atty. Plainly. JR. their father. Melba A. respondent filed a case against complainants allegedly involving the property subject of the first civil case. Subsequently.[11] In his Answer with Motion to Dismiss.versus ATTY. Leo A. believing to the best of his knowledge that there is good ground to support it. Falame v. 6876 Present: CARPIO. complainants claimed that respondent knowingly made false statements of fact in the complaint in the second civil case to mislead the trial court. Complainants concluded that respondent violated paragraph (g). respondent violated his oath of office and duty as an attorney. appointing the latter to be his attorney-in-fact. maintaining and/or withholding the possession of the subject property from complainants who are its true owners. JJ.[6] . Falame. Specifically. x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x RESOLUTION TINGA. CASE NO. In their Complaint[2] against respondent. Sy vs. He also stated that he signed the jurat in Raleigh’s affidavit.

Gonzalez. Rules of Court. is a suit against the complainants. and Melba. A charge not specified in the complaint cannot be proved (Uy v. It is clear that only Raleigh Falame engaged the legal services of the respondent for his and Lydio Falame’s d efense in Civil Case No. XVI-2005167 adopting and approving Investigating Commissioner Winston D. Rule 15. 431). The complainants may have in mind the prohibition against disclosure of secret information learned in confidence. Rule 15. breach of secrecy or revelation of secret or confidential information[.) x x x But still this charge will not proper for lack of sufficient bases. Sy on one hand and Lydio and Raleigh on the other where physical possession of property was at stake. In administrative complaints for disbarment or suspension against lawyers. but there is no specification in the complaint what secret or information learned in confidence under Civil Case No. all surnamed Falame. Abuyuan’s report and recommendation for the dismissal of this administrative case.03[17]of the Code of Professional Responsibility when he represented the cause of the spouses Falame against that of his former client. 36 SCRA 104. there is no specific charge against respondent for violation of Canon 15. . [15] In their Position Paper[16] dated 7 September 2004. it is submitted that respondent violated Canon 15. In the complaint. which was commenced on 03 October 2000. obligations and interest of Lydio Falame on the material possession of the improvements found on Lot 345 litigated in Civil Case No. xxx The other allegations of the complainants that the respondent violated paragraph (d). after Lydio’s death. [13] Respondent vigorously averred that Lydio had not retained him as counsel in any case or transaction. the complaint must fail. 426 SCRA 422. A-2694 nor even on such land itself. the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. 5568. Section 20 of Rule 139. In the absence of such specification. 107-108).03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility about the prohibition against representation of conflicting interest. Civil Case No. The reason being that it is an elementary principle of due process to which the respondent is entitled that only those charged in the complaint can be proved by the complainants. 5568. Gonzales.[18] On 25 June 2005. as defendants —a case which arose from the wrongful acts committed by Melba. or three years since the complainants became owners of Lydio Falame’s properties. the complainant must specify in the affidavit-complaint the alleged secrets or confidential information disclosed or will be disclosed in the professional employment (Uy v.[14] Respondent maintained that since the second civil case was still pending before the trial court. and Sugni Realty Holdings and Development Corporation. rights. not as representatives of Lydio Falame. He added that complainants filed this administrative case when Raleigh could no longer testify in his own favor as he had died a year earlier.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility” cannot be countenanced. Lydio. Leo and Jerry Jr. A-2694 was disclosed or will be disclosed by respondent in Civil Case No.. While the complainants could not specify under what circumstances the respondent committed [the] alleged breach of confidence. So.statement of fact in the complaint in the second civil case and neither did he employ any means inconsistent with truth and honor in the hearing of the case. Leo and Jerry Jr. page 8 and 9 of complainants’ position paper stating: With all due respect. the allegation in paragraph 1. in addition to their previous charges against respondent. respondent pointed out that the first civil case was not between Lydio and Raleigh but rather between the heirs of Emilio T. but as owners of their respective aliquot interests in the property in question (Gayon v. Respondent further averred that in contrast the second civil case is one involving the spouses Raleigh and Noemi Falame as plaintiffs. but rather on the facts alleged in the second amended and supplemental complaint which give rise to their cause of action against them. The complainants are sued not on the basis of the acts.] the respondent has shown that he did not commit any violation of such duties or obligations of an attorney. A-2694. Stressing the long interval of twelve years separating the termination of the first civil case and his acceptance of the second civil case. and his lawyer’s oath when he allegedly betrayed the trust and confidence of his former client by denying knowledge of the fact that the land was owned by Lydio Falame and when he did not disclose to the Court that at one time his present clients categorically declared and unconditionally recognized the full ownership of the late Lydio Falame and complainant Melba Falame over subject matter of both cases equally lacks evidentiary basis. id. complainants claimed that respondent violated Rule 15. Gayon. the IBP had no jurisdiction over the instant administrative case. thus: [19] x x x The charge lacks specification as to what part of the lawyer’s oath was violated by the respondent and what confidence was disclosed.

it is the lawyer’s duty to contest for that which his duty to another client requires him to oppose or when the possibility of such situation will develop. complainants filed the instant petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court reiterating their allegations in the complaint and their position paper. which provides for a prescriptive period for the filing of administrative complaints against lawyers. as articulated in his subsequent submissions.[34] The test is whether. respondent proffered his defenses to the charge in his position paper before the IBP and likewise in his comment before the Court. however. Bautista-Lozada[24] to support their contention that administrative complaints against members of the bar do not prescribe. the rule holds even if the inconsistency is remote or merely probable or the lawyer has acted in good faith and with no intention to represent conflicting interests. RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED. complainants infringed his right to due process and to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him. the requirement of notice and hearing does not connote full adversarial proceedings.[33] Rule 15. In his very first pleading before the IBP. sufficient basis to hold respondent accountable for violation of Rule 15. premises considered. It is only the Honorable Court which has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the same and cannot be the subject of an administrative complaint against the respondent. While this charge was not raised in the initiatory pleading. 434)[30] This doctrine was reaffirmed in the relatively recent case of Frias v. Such absence of attorneyclient relationship is the essential element of his defense to the charge of conflict of interest. the answer with motion to dismiss.[21]They likewise assert that the IBP erred in holding that the instant administrative complaint had been filed out of time since it was filed on 16 January 2004. rules and so holds that respondent has been adequately apprised of and heard on the issue. the Court held in Calo.[23]complainants invoke the Court’s ruling in Frias v. and that complainants have the burden to prove their accusations as he enjoys the presumption of innocence. affect the disbarment proceeding x x x (5 AM. it was put forward in complainants’ position paper filed with the IBP and in the petition filed with the Court. BautistaLozada[31] where the Court held that Rule VII. nor does the circumstance that the facts set up as a ground for disbarment constitute a crime.[26] respondent principally maintains that the charges imputed to him have never been proven by clear. on behalf of one client. In fact.[29] to wit: The ordinary statutes of limitation have no application to disbarment proceedings.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. the Court concurs with the Investigating Commissioner’s opinion that some of the charges raised by complainants in their complaint are unsubstantiated. Actual adversarial proceedings only become necessary for clarification when there is a need to propound searching questions to witnesses who give vague testimonies. xxx WHEREFORE. The Court. it is respectfully recommended that this complaint be dismissed on grounds of prescription. Jr.[28] There is merit in the petition.xxx It is beyond the competence of the complainants to conclude and is outside the jurisdiction of this Honorable Commission to rule as to whether or nor (sic) the complaint in Civil Case No.[37] .03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides: A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. he denied having Lydio as his client. in their Consolidated Comment (should be Consolidated Reply). without being guilty of professional misconduct. therefore. the Court holds that the instant administrative action is not barred by prescription.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility only in their position paper and in the instant petition. Due process is fulfilled when the parties were given reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit evidence in support of their arguments.[20] which in a criminal proceeding is barred by limitation. or three (3) years.[25] In his Comment.[36] In addition. Dissatisfied. In administrative cases. but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used.[22] In addition. convincing and satisfactory evidence which is the quantum of proof required in administrative cases against lawyers.[35] The rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided.5568 is baseless or fabricated. the same having been filed four (4) years after the alleged misconduct took place and for lack of merit. act as counsel for a person whose interest conflicts with that of his present or former client. There is.[27] Respondent likewise asserts that in accusing him of violation of Rule 15. At the outset.[32] Prescinding from the unavailability of the defense of prescription. should be struck down as void and of no legal effect for being ultra vires. v. As early as 1947. prosecution for A lawyer may not. Degamo. Section 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the CBD-IBP. JUR. four (4) months and sixteen (16) days after the second civil case was filed on 23 October 2000.

[49] WHEREFORE. Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him. In the second civil case involving the same property. respondent. the attorney-client relation between Lydioand respondent was established despite the fact that it was only Raleigh who paid him. promised or charged for.The rule concerning conflict of interest prohibits a lawyer from representing a client if that representation will be directly adverse to any of his present or former clients. they derive their rights to the property from Lydio’s ownership of it which respondent maintained in the first civil case. the lawyer learns all the facts connected with the client’s case. Edgar J. even though. Evidently. a lawyer should not do anything which will injuriously affect his former client in any matter in which he previously represented him nor should he disclose or use any of the cl ient’s confidences acquired in the previous relation. [44] As defense counsel in the first civil case. He is further admonished to observe a higher degree of fidelity in the practice of his profession and to bear in mind that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Having previously undertaken joint representation of Lydio and Raleigh. as counsel for Raleigh and his spouse. and further.[40] In relation to this.[46] And while complainants have never been respondent’s clients. Baguio is found GUILTY of representing conflicting interests and meted out the penalty of REPRIMAND. with admonition to observe a higher degree of fidelity in the practice of his profession. For representing Raleigh’s cause which is adverse to that of his for mer client— Raleigh’s supposed co-ownership of the subject property— respondent is guilty of representing conflicting interests. however. an attorney may not act as counsel against his client in the same general matter. committing acts which debase respondent’s rights as a co-owner. the Court resolves to reprimand respondent.[41] The protection given to the client is perpetual and does not cease with the termination of the litigation. he acquired no knowledge which could operate to his client’s disadvantage in the subsequent adverse employment. respondent admitted having jointly represented Lydio and Raleigh as defendants in the first civil case.[38] In the course of a lawyer-client relationship. David[43] tells us that it is immaterial whether such employment was paid. The case of Hilado v.[48] Considering. It even survives the death of the client. His highest and most unquestioned duty is to protect the client at all hazards and costs even to himself. Accordingly. respondent Atty. nor is it affected by the party's ceasing to employ the attorney and retaining another. including the weak and strong points of the case. The rule is grounded in the fiduciary obligation of loyalty. . In the same way. one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. disciplinary action is warranted. Even after the severance of the relation. that this is respondent’s first offense. SO ORDERED. The client’s confidence once reposed should not be divested by mere e xpiration of professional employment. The fact that the attorney-client relation had ceased by reason of Lydio’s death or through the completion of the specific task for which respondent was employed is not reason for respondent to advocate a position opposed to that of Lydio. a lawyer may only be allowed to represent a client involving the same or a substantially related matter that is materially adverse to the former client only if the former client consents to it after consultation. with complainants. ―to think in terms of impaired loyalty‖ that is to evaluate if his representation in any way will impair loyalty to a client. respondent is enjoined to look at any representation situation from ―the point of view that there are possible conflicts‖. respondent advocated the stance that Lydio solely owned the property subject of the case. has pursued the inconsistent position that Raleigh owned the same property in common with Lydio.[47] Heretofore.[45] Precedents tell us that even after the termination of his employment. or by any other change of relation between them. who inherited the property. while acting for his former client. [39] The termination of attorney-client relation provides no justification for a lawyer to represent an interest adverse to or in conflict with that of the former client. The nature of that relationship is. therefore. respondent should have diligently studied and anticipated the potential conflict of interest. [42] In the case at bar.

AVELINO V. If the price of disclosure is too high.CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. No. the right to counsel. EXCEPTION. the client's name is privileged.. Finally. information relating to the identity of a client may fall within the ambit of the privilege when the client's name itself has an independent significance.R. ETHICAL CONDUCT AND DUTIES. 1996. vs. the identity of the client has been held to be privileged. No. Ongkiko for Presidential Commission on Good Government. 4. the privilege generally pertains to the subject matter of the relationship. AS A GENERAL RULE A LAWYER MAY NOT REFUSE TO DIVULGE THE IDENTITY OF HIS CLIENT. "A party suing or sued is entitled to know who his opponent is. This conception is entrenched and embodies centuries of established and stable tradition. [G.. Mario E. The reasons advanced for the general rule are well established. 108113.R. to either opt to stay away from the judicial system or to lose the right to counsel. qualified by some important exception. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. the said name would furnish the only link that would form the chain of testimony necessary to convict an individual of a crime. 3) Where the government's lawyers have no case against an attorney's client unless. the privilege begins to exist only after the attorney-client relationship has been established. — The equal protection clause is a guarantee which provides a wall of protection against uneven application of statutes and regulations. the right to be presumed innocent is at once selfevident. First Division. Encouraging full disclosure to a lawyer by one seeking legal services opens the door to a whole spectrum of legal options which would otherwise be circumscribed by limited information engendered by a fear of disclosure. The attorney-client privilege does not attach until there is a client. 1996. the content of any client communication to a lawyer lies within the privilege if it is relevant to the subject matter of the legal problem on which the client seeks legal assistance. It is also the strict sense of fidelity of a lawyer to his client that distinguishes him from any other professional in society. It necessarily follows that in order to attain effective representation. respondents.] PARAJA G. such that disclosure would then reveal client confidences. An effective lawyer-client relationship is largely between lawyer and client which in turn requires a situation . Those who fall within a particular class ought to be treated alike not only as to privileges granted but also as to the liabilities imposed. the court has a right to know that the client whose privileged information is sought to be protected is flesh and blood. Third. there are rules. For example.ID. HAYUDINI. the fiduciary duty to his client which is of a very delicate. 3. VINLUAN. 1) Client identity is privileged where a strong probability exists that revealing the client's name would implicate that client in the very activity for which he sought the lawyer's advice. or if it amounts to self incrimination. ANGARA. ID. ACTING THROUGH THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT. Roco Bunag Kapunan & Migallos for Raul S. due process considerations require that the opposing party should. where the nature of the attorney-client relationship has been previously disclosed and it is the identity which is intended to be confidential. RATIONALE. ESCUETA. . The threat this represents against another sacrosanct individual right. CONCEPCION. petitioner. LAWYER-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. requiring a very high degree of fidelity and good faith. Moreover. then the flow of information would be curtailed thereby rendering the right practically nugatory. Considerations favoring confidentiality in lawyer-client relationships are many and serve several constitutional and policy concerns. He cannot be obliged to grope in the dark against unknown forces. CRUZ. ( Gumabon v. and RAUL S. in some instances.. Summarizing these exceptions. vs. his identity is privileged. which encourages a dynamic and fruitful exchange and flow of information. a client's identity should not be shrouded in mystery. since such revelation would otherwise result in disclosure and the entire transaction. ID. the guarantee operates against uneven application of legal norms so that all persons under similar circumstances would be accorded the same treatment.EN BANC [G. — In the creation of lawyerclient relationship. ethical conduct and duties that breathe life into it. EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE CONSTRUED. ROCO. ROGELIO A. however. . 2) Where disclosure would open the client to civil liability.LEGAL ETHICS. the lawyer must invoke the privilege not as a matter of option but as a matter of duty and professional responsibility. September 20. — The general rule is. Second. respondents. September 20. . Abello for petitioners. BILL OF RIGHTS.. and EDUARDO U. EDGARDO J. petitioners. THE SANDIGANBAYAN and THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. LAZATIN. there exist other situations which could qualify as exceptions to the general rule. the privilege gives flesh to one of the most sacrosanct rights available to the accused. as a general rule. Apart from these principal exceptions. First. In the constitutional sphere. Under this premise. — As a matter of public policy. If a client were made to choose between legal representation without effective communication and disclosure and legal representation with all his secrets revealed then he might be compelled. WHEN THE CLIENT'S IDENTITY IS PRIVILEGED. among those. Director of Prisons. RATIONALE. JOSE C. What is required under this Constitutional guarantee is the uniform operation of legal norms so that all persons under similar circumstances would be SYLLABUS 1. 37 SCRA 420 [1971]). 2.] TEODORO R. ID. the general rule in our jurisdiction as well as in the United States is that a lawyer may not invoke the privilege and refuse to divulge the name or identity of his client. know his adversary. BOUNDED BY RULES. REGALA.. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN. In the broader sense. Manuel G. 105938. that is required by reason of necessity and public interest based on the hypothesis that abstinence from seeking legal advice in a good cause is an evil which is fatal to the administration of justice. exacting and confidential character. by revealing the client's name.ID. Roco. VICTOR P.

Jose C. which distinguishes it from any other calling. 3Respondent PCGG based its exclusion of private respondent Roco as party-defendant on his undertaking that he will reveal the identity of the principal/s for whom he acted as nominee/stockholder in the companies involved in PCGG Case No. the members of the law firm acquire information relative to the assets of clients as well as their personal and business circumstances. Lazatin. Vinluan and Eduardo U. Victor P. the members of the law firm delivered to its client documents which substantiate the client's equity holdings. who all were then partners of the law firm Angara. Hayudini. Teodoro D. 1984. Teodoro Regala." 1 Among the defendants named in the case are herein petitioners Teodoro Regala. which included. was in furtherance of legitimate lawyering. as stockholders. Through insidious means and machinations. 0033. Concepcion. 33 (Civil Case No. CIC. Escueta and Paraja G. Concepcion. If law be looked upon in terms of burden or charges.. as one of the principal defendants. defendants-ACCRA lawyers. or simply.accorded the same treatment both in the privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed. ACCRA Investments Corporation. Avelino V. Cruz. Vinluan. For the principle is that equal protection and security shall be given to every person under circumstances. Jose C. petitioners and private respondent Raul Roco admit that they assisted in the organization and acquisition of the companies included in Civil Case No. devised. being the wholly-owned investment arm. Eduardo U. Cojuangco. Hayudini and Raul Roco of the Angara Concepcion Cruz Regala and Abello law offices (ACCRA) plotted. Vinluan. in the performance of these services. This ranks ACCRA Investments Corporation number 44 among the top 100 biggest stockholders of UCPB which has approximately 1.Defendants-ACCRA lawyers' participation in the acts with which their co-defendants are charged. the financial and corporate framework and structures that led to the establishment of UCPB. with the correlative and incidental services where its members acted as incorporators. 33 as party-defendant. and herein private respondent Raul S.4. through the use of the coconut levy funds. COCOMARK.. Regala. became holders of shares of stock in the corporations listed under their respective names in Annex 'A' of the expanded Amended Complaint as . et al. UNICOM.400. and more than twenty other coconut levy funded corporations. 1991. Roco.In the course of rendering professional and legal services to clients. among others. In this instance. Concepcion. Edgardo J. those that fall within a class should be treated in the same fashion. Jr. 2 On August 20. 4. The matters raised herein are an offshoot of the institution of the Complaint on July 31. Angara as holding approximately 3. petitioners ACCRA lawyers alleged that: 4. Edgardo J. Angara. In the course of their dealings with their clients. 4 Petitioners were included in the Third Amended Complaint on the strength of the following allegations: 14. through the Presidential Commission on Good Government against Eduardo M. ACCRA. Eduardo U.744 shares as of February. the organization and acquisition of business associations and/or organizations. DECISION KAPUNAN. Rogelio A. Escueta.Defendants Eduardo Cojuangco.000 shareholders. The fiduciary duty of a counsel and advocate is also what makes the law profession a unique position of trust and confidence.3% of the total outstanding capital stock of UCPB as of 31 March 1987. Jose C. stock certificates endorsed in blank representing the shares registered in the client's name.e. including the acquisition of San Miguel Corporation shares and its institutionalization through presidential directives of the coconut monopoly. upon which the workings of the contentious and adversarial system in the Philippine legal process are based — the sanctity of fiduciary duty in the client-lawyer relationship. for the recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth. ACCRA lawyers acted as nominees-stockholders of the said corporations involved in sequestration proceedings. Regala and Cruz Law Offices (hereinafter referred to as the ACCRA Law Firm). 5 In their answer to the Expanded Amended Complaint. Roco from the complaint in PCGG Case No. Paraja G. Abello. and in keeping with the office practice. entitled "Republic of the Philippines versus Eduardo Cojuangco. 0033). schemed. and a blank deed of trust or assignment covering said shares. became the holder of approximately fifteen million shares representing roughly 3.1. i.4. Escueta. ACCRA Law Firm performed legal services for its clients. The facts of the case are undisputed. J p: These cases touch the very cornerstone of every State's judicial system. Avelino V. Concepcion. More specifically. As was noted in a recent decision: 'Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. Rogelio A. conspired and confederated with each other in setting up. we have no recourse but to uphold and strengthen the mantle of protection accorded to the confidentiality that proceeds from the performance of the lawyer's duty to his client.. COCOLIFE. whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding the rest. respondent Presidential Commission on Good government (hereinafter referred to as respondent PCGG) filed a "Motion to Admit Third Amended Complaint" and "Third Amended Complaint" which excluded private respondent Raul S. Rogelio A. Jr. 1987 before the Sandiganbayan by the Republic of the Philippines. Cruz. Angara. As members of the ACCRA Law Firm. which includes shares of stocks in the named corporations in PCGG Case No. corporate books show the name Edgardo J. On the other hand. 33. which if not identical are analogous.

33. 9 Consequently. and (c) the submission of the deeds of assignments petitioners executed in favor of its clients covering their respective shareholdings. 33. begrudge the PCGG for keeping them as party defendants. to wit: (a) Letter to respondent PCGG of the counsel of respondent Roco dated May 24. 5. i. 1988 to the respondent PCGG in behalf of private respondent Roco originally requesting the reinvestigation and/or re-examination of the evidence of the PCGG against Roco in its Complaint in PCGG Case No. which was organized for legitimate business purposes not related to the allegations of the expanded Amended Complaint. 7 Petitioners ACCRA lawyers subsequently filed their "COMMENT AND/OR OPPOSITION" dated October 8. which revelation could show the lack of cause against him. the existence and identity of the client. The PCGG has apparently offered to the ACCRA lawyers the same conditions availed of by Roco. Sandiganbayan (173 SCRA 72). therefore. respondent Sandiganbayan promulgated the Resolution. 11 On March 18. WHEREFORE. 1991 with Counter-Motion that respondent PCGG similarly grant the same treatment to them (exclusion as parties-defendants) as accorded private respondent Roco." respondent PCGG set the following conditions precedent for the exclusion of petitioners.The PCGG is satisfied that defendant Roco has demonstrated his agency and that Roco has apparently identified his principal. they do not claim any proprietary interest in the said shares of stock. filed a separate answer denying the allegations in the complaint implicating him in the alleged illgotten wealth. In its "Comment. (b) submission of documents substantiating the lawyer-client relationship. 33. full disclosure in exchange for exclusion from these proceedings (par. their principal. denying the exclusion of petitioners in PCGG Case No. 33. 33. they cannot compel the PCGG to be accorded the same treatment accorded to Roco. Hayudini for the same treatment by the PCGG as accorded to Raul S. the Counter Motion dated October 8. Bunag.5. 1991 filed by the ACCRA lawyers and joined in by Atty. The ACCRA lawyers cannot. Roco is DENIED for lack of merit. 4. 1991 in accordance with the requirements of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court. 14-A in relation to the Supreme Court's ruling in Republic v. PCGG's COMMENT dated November 4. private respondent Roco did not refute petitioners' contention that he did actually not reveal the identity of the client involved in PCGG Case No. considerations of whether or not the privilege claimed by the ACCRA lawyers exists cannot even begin to be debated.Defendant ACCRA-lawyer Avelino V. The ACCRA lawyers have preferred not to make the disclosures required by the PCGG. as such. It held: xxx xxx xxx ACCRA lawyers may take the heroic stance of not revealing the identity of the client for whom they have acted. 1992. 1989 executed by private respondent Roco as Attachment to the letter aforestated in (a). 1989 reiterating a previous request for reinvestigation by the PCGG in PCGG Case No. 12 . Paraja G. The ACCRA lawyers cannot excuse themselves from the consequences of their acts until they have begun to establish the basis for recognizing the privilege. Cruz was one of the incorporators in 1976 of Mermaid Marketing Corporation. But until they do identify their clients. who had separated from ACCRA law firm. 1991). 8 The Counter-Motion for dropping petitioners from the complaint was duly set for hearing on October 18. (b) Affidavit dated March 8. herein questioned. he has long ago transferred any material interest therein and therefore denies that the 'shares' appearing in his name in Annex 'A' of the expanded Amended Complaint are his assets. for their refusal to comply with the conditions required by respondent PCGG.incorporating or acquiring stockholders only and. 10 It is noteworthy that during said proceedings. Neither can this Court.O. 7. and Kapunan Law Offices dated September 21. and that will be their choice. This is what appears to be the cause for which they have been impleaded by the PCGG as defendants herein. namely: (a) the disclosure of the identity of its clients. No. In the same vein. and (c) Letter of the Roco. However.e. This in turn has allowed the PCGG to exercise its power both under the rules of Agency and under Section 5 of E. nor had he undertaken to reveal the identity of the client for whom he acted as nominee-stockholder. respondent PCGG presented supposed proof to substantiate compliance by private respondent Roco of the conditions precedent to warrant the latter's exclusion as party-defendant in PCGG Case No. 6 Petitioner Paraja Hayudini.

Roco had revealed.R. respondent Roco asseverates that respondent PCGG acted correctly in excluding him as party-defendant because he "(Roco) has not filed an Answer. 105938. The Honorable Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in not requiring that the dropping of party-defendants by the PCGG must be based on reasonable and just grounds and with due consideration to the constitutional right of petitioners ACCRA lawyers to the equal protection of the law. invoking the following grounds: I 2. he filed a separate petition for certiorari. 1. Clearly. refutes petitioners' contention. docketed as G. IV The Honorable Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in subjecting petitioners ACCRA lawyers who undisputably acted as lawyers in serving as nominee-stockholders. 15 Petitioners' contentions are impressed with merit. therefore. Petitioner Paraja G. assailing respondent Sandiganbayan's resolution on essentially the same grounds averred by petitioners in G.ACCRA lawyers moved for a reconsideration of the above resolution but the same was denied by the respondent Sandiganbayan. the disclosure does not constitute a substantial distinction as would make the classification reasonable under the equal protection clause. 0033 as to Roco 'without an order of court by filing a notice of dismissal. on the pretext of his alleged undertaking to divulge the identity of his client.There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. docketed as G. Roco had revealed. the ACCRA lawyers filed the petition for certiorari. Thus. alleging that the revelation of the identity of the client is not within the ambit of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege. PCGG had therefore the right to dismiss Civil Case No. giving him an advantage over them who are in the same footing as partners in the ACCRA law firm. likewise. II The Honorable Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in not considering petitioners ACCRA lawyers and Mr. Petitioners further argue that even granting that such an undertaking has been assumed by private respondent Roco. the attorney-client privilege includes the identity of the client(s). deserving of equal treatment. No.R. Roco in violation of the equal protection clause.'" 14 and he has undertaken to identify his principal.Under the peculiar facts of this case. 1. Roco as similarly situated and.Respondent Sandiganbayan sanctioned favoritism and undue preference in favor of Mr. No.Even assuming that Mr.R. 105938. Hayudini. under the facts of this case. 13 In his comment. the attorney-client privilege prohibits petitioners ACCRA lawyers from revealing the identity of their client(s) and the other information requested by the PCGG. III The Honorable Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in not holding that. or had undertaken to reveal. No.The factual disclosures required by the PCGG are not limited to the identity of petitioners ACCRA lawyers' alleged client(s) but extend to other privileged matters. the identities of the client(s). filed his own motion for reconsideration of the March 18. 2. 33 grants him a favorable treatment. through its counsel. the identities of the client(s) for whom he acted as nominee-stockholder. Petitioners contend that the exclusion of respondent Roco as party-defendant in PCGG Case No. I It is quite apparent that petitioners were impleaded by the PCGG as co-defendants to force them to disclose the identity of their clients. to the strict application of the law of agency. nor are the documents it required (deeds of assignment) protected. they are prohibited from revealing the identity of their principal under their sworn mandate and fiduciary duty as lawyers to uphold at all times the confidentiality of information obtained during such lawyer-client relationship. because they are evidence of nominee status. 3. Hence. cdasia Respondent PCGG. respondent PCGG is not . or had undertaken to reveal. 108113. 1991 resolution which was denied by respondent Sandiganbayan.

We quote Atty. et al. Next. 18 But the lawyer-client relationship is more than that of the principal-agent and lessor-lessee. Quite obviously. Such being the case. The ACCRA lawyers cannot excuse themselves from the consequences of their acts until they have begun to establish the basis for recognizing the privilege. The statement of the Sandiganbayan in its questioned resolution dated March 18. it was Mr. an attorney is more than a mere agent or servant. the fiduciary duty to his client which is of a very delicate. some in blank. Cojuangco and some are for Mr. that these lawyers executed deeds of trust. ONGKIKO: With the permission of this Hon. Presidential Commission on Good Government" respondent PCGG. ethical conduct and duties that breathe life into it. requiring a very high degree of fidelity and good faith. paper corporations. and that will be their choice. (Italics ours) In a closely related case. i. Second. 1991 that the PCGG wanted to establish through the ACCRA that their "so called client is Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco. that most of these corporations are really just . thus his powers are entirely different from and superior to those of an ordinary agent. Ongkiko: ATTY. respondent PCGG has no valid cause of action as against petitioners and should exclude them from the Third Amended Complaint. in the creation of lawyer-client relationship. Thus. These are some of the principal things that we would ask of these nominees stockholders. that "it was Mr. But until they do identify their clients. they have no permits from the municipal authorities in Makati. Eduardo Cojuangco". because he possesses special powers of trust and confidence reposed on him by his client. And not only that.after petitioners but the "bigger fish" as they say in street parlance. entitled "Primavera Farms. 22 that is required by reason of necessity and public interest 23 based on the hypothesis that abstinence from seeking legal advice in a good cause is an evil which is fatal to the administration of justice. manifested at the hearing on December 5. exacting and confidential character. Why do we say that? One: There are no really fixed sets of officers. some in the name of particular persons. that the ACCRA lawyers executed deeds of trust and deeds of assignment. actually all their addresses now are care of Villareal Law Office. petitioners' inclusion as co-defendants in the complaint is merely being used as leverage to compel them to name their clients and consequently to enable the PCGG to nail these clients. Civil Case No. the existence and identity of the client.. Court. but gives up all that he gained by the contract to the person who requested him. vs.e. II The nature of lawyer-client relationship is premised on the Roman Law concepts of locatio conductio operarum (contract of lease of services) where one person lets his services and another hires them without reference to the object of which the services are to be performed. wherein lawyers' services may be compensated byhonorarium or for hire. In modern day perception of the lawyer-client relationship. 1992 is explicit: ACCRA lawyers may take the heroic stance of not revealing the identity of the client for whom they have acted. Fifth. Eduardo Cojuangco who furnished all the monies to those subscription payments in corporations included in Annex "A" of the Third Amended Complaint. Fourth. 24 It is also the strict sense of fidelity of a lawyer to his client that distinguishes him from any other professional in society. these blank deeds are important to our claim that some of the shares are actually being held by the nominees for the late President Marcos. I propose to establish through these ACCRA lawyers that. 19 A lawyer is also as independent as the judge of the court. Third. considerations of whether or not the privilege claimed by the ACCRA lawyers exists cannot even begin to be debated. through counsel Mario Ongkiko. 0110 of the Sandiganbayan. among those. an attorney also occupies what may be considered as a "quasijudicial office" since he is in fact an officer of the Court 21 and exercises his judgment in the choice of courses of action to be taken favorable to his client. Eduardo Cojuangco who furnished all the monies to these subscription payments of these corporations who are now the petitioners in this case. their so-called client is Mr. Marcos. They really have no address on records. Now. which is the crucial year. Inc. 20 Moreover. Petitioners are being prosecuted solely on the basis of activities and services performed in the course of their duties as lawyers. one. this is important to our claim that some of the shares are for Mr. some in blank.. no fixed sets of directors at the time of incorporation and even up to 1986. there are rules. 16 It would seem that petitioners are merely standing in for their clients as defendants in the complaint. This ploy is quite clear from the PCGG's willingness to cut a deal with petitioners — the names of their clients in exchange for exclusion from the complaint. Third Division. as they called themselves. some in the name of a particular person. 17 and mandato (contract of agency) wherein a friend on whom reliance could be placed makes a contract in his name. Again. their principal. they also executed deeds of assignment and some of these assignments have also blank assignees. This conception is entrenched and embodies This is what appears to be the cause for which they have been impleaded by the PCGG as defendants herein.

24. to see that confidence thus reposed shall not be used to the detriment or prejudice of the rights of the party bestowing it." 28 Passed on into various provisions of the Rules of Court. The threat this represents against another sacrosanct individual right. In the judicial forum the client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is authorized by the law of the land. few more anxiously guarded by the law. without the consent of the client and his employer. 26 the U. warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability. stenographer. But it is steadfastly to be borne in mind that the great trust of the lawyer is to be performed within and not without the bounds of the law. Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states: Sec. Section 383 of the Code specifically "forbids counsel. 29 Further. in some instances. without the consent of his client. the answer must be in the affirmative. Ford.centuries of established and stable tradition. 27 In our jurisdiction. An effective lawyer-client relationship is largely dependent upon the degree of confidence which exists between lawyer and client which in turn requires a situation which encourages a dynamic and fruitful exchange and flow of information. the attorney-client privilege. The question now arises whether or not this duty may be asserted in refusing to disclose the name of petitioners' client(s) in the case at bar.S. legally applied. or governed by the sterner principles of morality and justice. Under the facts and circumstances obtaining in the instant case. and he may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. concerning any fact the knowledge of which has been acquired in such capacity. and to accept no compensation in connection with his client's business except from him or with his knowledge and approval. and it is the duty of the court to administer them in a corresponding spirit. the privilege gives flesh to one of the most sacrosanct rights available to the accused. to either opt to stay away from the judicial system or to lose the right to counsel. without authority of his client to reveal any communication made by the client to him or his advice given thereon in the course of professional employment.A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. and at every peril to himself. or generally speaking. The office of attorney does not permit. or clerk be examined. Encouraging full disclosure to a lawyer by one seeking legal services opens the door to a whole spectrum of legal options which would otherwise be circumscribed by limited information engendered by a fear of disclosure. as currently worded provides: Sec. be examined as to any communication made by the client to him. 20. can an attorney's secretary. No fear of judicial disfavor or public popularity should restrain him from the full discharge of his duty. or his advice given thereon in the course of. violation of law or any manner of fraud or chicanery. — The following persons cannot testify as to matters learned in confidence in the following cases: xxx xxx xxx An attorney cannot. then the flow of information would be curtailed thereby rendering the right practically nugatory.Disqualification by reason of privileged communication. and to be watchful and industrious. It necessarily follows that in order to attain effective representation. . save by the rules of law. If the price of disclosure is too high. the right to be presumed innocent is at once selfevident. This duty is explicitly mandated in Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that: Canon 17.It is the duty of an attorney: (e)to maintain inviolate the confidence." to the end that nothing be taken or be withheld from him. or with a view to. 25 In Stockton v. He must obey his own conscience and not that of his client. Supreme Court held: There are few of the business relations of life involving a higher trust and confidence than that of attorney and client. to preserve the secrets of his client. Canon 15 of the Canons of Professional Ethics also demands a lawyer's fidelity to client: The lawyer owes "entire devotion to the interest of the client. In the constitutional sphere. much less does it demand of him for any client. or if it amounts to self incrimination. one more honorably and faithfully discharged. professional employment. the lawyer must invoke the privilege not as a matter of option but as a matter of duty and professional responsibility. this privilege takes off from the old Code of Civil Procedure enacted by the Philippine Commission on August 7. the right to counsel. If a client were made to choose between legal representation without effective communication and disclosure and legal representation with all his secrets revealed then he might be compelled. 1901. Considerations favoring confidentiality in lawyer-client relationships are many and serve several constitutional and policy concerns.

Reversing the lower court's contempt orders. and under the exceptions described above. 30 Under this premise. the privilege begins to exist only after the attorney-client relationship has been established. owned by respondent corporation. the attorney revealed that she had advised her client to count the votes correctly. Neugass. the fact was somehow revealed that the lawyer came to know the name of the owner of the second cab when a man. It was apparent under the circumstances that the man was the owner of the second cab. Joe Sandino. The attorney-client privilege does not attach until there is a client Third. 1)Client identity is privileged where a strong probability exists that revealing the client's name would implicate that client in the very activity for which he sought the lawyer's advice. the privilege generally pertains to the subject matter of the relationship. The respondents. law partners. but averred that she could not remember whether her client had been. protected as confidential communications. The lawyer was cited for contempt for her refusal to reveal his client's identity before a grand jury. the IRS issued summons to Hodge and Zweig. Second." 8 J. 36 2)Where disclosure would open the client to civil liability. 35 involved the same exception. Terminal Cab Corporation. held: A client's identity and the nature of that client's fee arrangements may be privileged where the person invoking the privilege can show that a strong probability exists that disclosure of such information would implicate that client in the very criminal activity for which legal advice was sought Baird v. The Hodge case involved federal grand jury proceedings inquiring into the activities of the "Sandino Gang. as a general rule. the rule also reflects federal law. in fact. in exceptional cases. the apprehension of compelled disclosure from the legal advisors must be removed.e. the plaintiff. In Ex-Parte Enzor. due process considerations require that the opposing party should. In connection with a tax investigation in November of 1973. whose owner was unknown. In her testimony. a client of the insurance company. Finally.As a matter of public policy. llcd In the said case. The . the law must prohibit such disclosure except on the client's consent.2d at 680. requiring them to produce documents and information regarding payment received by Sandino on behalf of any other person. 34 a state supreme court reversed a lower court order requiring a lawyer to divulge the name of her client on the ground that the subject matter of the relationship was so closely related to the issue of the client's identity that the privilege actually attached to both. bribed. For instance. that client identity is privileged in those instances where a strong probability exists that the disclosure of the client's identity would implicate the client in the very criminal activity for which the lawyer's legal advice was obtained. identified in the information only as John Doe. upholding non-disclosure under the facts and circumstances of the case. 31 The reasons advanced for the general rule are well established. Koerner. his identity is privileged. suffered injury when the taxicab she was riding. The Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. It turned out that when the attorney of defendant corporation appeared on preliminary examination. the general rule is however qualified by some important exceptions. even the name of the client was privileged. "A party suing or sued is entitled to know who his opponent is. prior to the institution of legal action. hence. an election official. informed his attorney in confidence that he had been offered a bribe to violate election laws or that he had accepted a bribe to that end. i. the peculiar facts and circumstances of Neugass v. Appellants contend that the Baird exception applies to this case. 37 prompted the New York Supreme Court to allow a lawyer's claim to the effect that he could not reveal the name of his client because this would expose the latter to civil litigation. the unidentified client. came to him and reported that he was involved in a car accident. v. The lawyers refused to divulge the names.S. know his adversary." a gang involved in the illegal importation of drugs in the United States. First. a client's identity should not be shrouded in mystery. the client's identity and the nature of his fee arrangements are. collided with a second taxicab." 32 He cannot be obliged to grope in the dark against unknown forces. the state supreme court held that under the circumstances of the case. In Enzor. the general rule in our jurisdiction as well as in the United States is that a lawyer may not invoke the privilege and refuse to divulge the name or identity of his client. at 545. Hodge and Zweig. In furtherance of this policy. 2291. 33 Notwithstanding these considerations. 279 F. U. the court has a right to know that the client whose privileged information is sought to be protected is flesh and blood. Plaintiff brought action both against defendant corporation and the owner of the second cab. and vice versa. "In order to promote freedom of consultation of legal advisors by clients. represented key witnesses and suspects including the leader of the gang. The Baird exception is entirely consonant with the principal policy behind the attorney-client privilege. supra Sec. While in Baird Owe enunciated this rule as a matter of California law. Wigmore.

85. and other clients involved. The clients themselves were unsure about whether or not they violated tax laws and sought advice from Baird on the hypothetical possibility that they had. and with no government audit or investigation into that client's income tax liability pending. Maryland. relates to a matter so connected with the employment as attorney or counsel as to afford presumption that it was the ground of the address by the client. Korner. The IRS demanded that Baird identify the lawyers. the client's name is privileged. as directed by the order appealed from. The names of the clients are useful to the government for but one purpose — to ascertain which taxpayers think they were delinquent. 39 In the case of Matter of Shawmut Mining Company. As already suggested. It appeared that the taxpayer's returns of previous years were probably incorrect and the taxes understated. The court emphasized the exception that a client's name is privileged when so much has been revealed concerning the legal services rendered that the disclosure of the client's identity exposes him to possible investigation and sanction by government agencies. then it is privileged from disclosure. paid by persons who thereby admitted they had not paid a sufficient amount in income taxes some one or more years in the past. 41 3)Where the government's lawyers have no case against an attorney's client unless.706. Subsequently. to disclose not only his retainer. We feel sure that under such conditions no case has ever gone to the length of compelling an attorney. A petition was filed for the enforcement of the IRS summons. . In Baird vs. unsued on. nor is the present action pending against him as service of the summons on him has not been effected. with a note explaining the payment. It appears . Internal Revenue Service (IRS). that the name and address of the owner of the second cab came to the attorney in this case as a confidential communication. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that. No investigation was then being undertaken by the IRS of the taxpayers. such testimony by the witness would compel him to disclose not only that he was attorney for certain people. and declined to name the attorney and accountants because this constituted privileged communication. a lawyer could not be forced to reveal the names of clients who employed him to pay sums of money to the government voluntarily in settlement of undetermined income taxes. which had been previously assessed as the tax due. 40 the lawyer involved was required by a lower court to disclose whether he represented certain clients in a certain transaction. . . but that. but the nature of the transactions to which it related. The objections on which the court reserved decision are sustained. . The Court held: The facts of the instant case bring it squarely within that exception to the general rule.85 to the IRS in Baltimore. All communications made by a client to his counsel. For Baird's repeated refusal to name his clients he was found guilty of civil contempt. and another amount of money representing his fee for the advice given. at the instance of a hostile litigant. it has made progress in establishing by such evidence their version of the litigation. The purpose of the court's request was to determine whether the unnamed persons as interested parties were connected with the purchase of properties involved in the action. And whenever the communication made. The voluntary nature of the payment indicates a . Baird then sent a check for $12. Here money was received by the government. accountants. the attorney of the taxpayers delivered to Baird the sum of $12. that he represented certain persons in the purchase or sale of these mines. by revealing the client's name. he knew that they were interested in certain transactions. as the result of communications made to him in the course of such employment as such attorney. Baird refused on the ground that he did not know their names. and his address cannot be disclosed on that theory. for the purpose of professional advice or assistance. The lawyer refused and brought the question to the State Supreme Court. . or to any other matter proper for such advice or aid. when such information could be made the basis of a suit against his client. . 38 xxx xxx xxx.706.state supreme court held that the reports were clearly made to the lawyer in his professional capacity. Upholding the lawyer's refusal to divulge the names of his clients the court held: If it can compel the witness to state. whether they relate to a suit pending or contemplated. . are privileged. The court said: That his employment came about through the fact that the insurance company had hired him to defend its policyholders seems immaterial. His client is not seeking to use the courts. so that it may check the records for that one year or several years. but without naming his clients. The attorney in such cases is clearly the attorney for the policyholder when the policyholder goes to him to report an occurrence contemplating that it would be used in an action or claim against him. 42 a lawyer was consulted by the accountants and the lawyer of certain undisclosed taxpayers regarding steps to be taken to place the undisclosed taxpayers in a favorable position in case criminal charges were brought against them by the U. . the said name would furnish the only link that would form the chain of testimony necessary to convict an individual of a crime.S.

where none otherwise exists. and which may be supposed to be drawn out in consequence of the relation in which the parties stand to each other. the identity of the client has been held to be privileged. protects the subject matter or the substance (without which there would be no attorney-client relationship). i. to disclose not only his retainer. Furthermore. have a legitimate fear that identifying their clients would implicate them in the very activity for which legal advice had been sought. From these conditions. for illicit purposes. not yet in the hands of the prosecution. It indicates a feeling of guilt for nonpayment of taxes. seeking advice about how to go around the law for the purpose of committing illegal activities and a case where a client thinks he might have previously committed something illegal and consults his attorney about it. But it may well be the link that could form the chain of testimony necessary to convict an individual of a federal crime. Petitioners. are under the seal of confidence and entitled to protection as privileged communications. It is the link." 50 Where the communicated information. which clearly falls within the privilege. exists. The first case clearly does not fall within the privilege because the same cannot be invoked for purposes illegal. In turn. the appellate court therein stated that "under such conditions no case has ever yet gone to the length of compelling an attorney. 46 The circumstances involving the engagement of lawyers in the case at bench. when such information could be made the basis of a suit against his client." 49 "Communications made to an attorney in the course of any personal employment. his name cannot be used or disclosed if the disclosure leads to evidence. These cases may be readily distinguished. therefore. framework and set-up of the corporations in question. 48 The reason for the second has been stated in the cases above discussed and are founded on the same policy grounds for which the attorney-client privilege. because the privilege cannot be invoked or used as a shield for an illegal act. particularly the third. in their capacity as lawyers. as in the first example. the alleged accumulation of ill-gotten wealth in the aforementioned corporations. disclosure of the alleged client's name would lead to establish said client's connection with the very fact in issue of the case. clearly reveal that the instant case falls under at least two exceptions to the general rule. would suggest possible criminal activity but there would be not much in the information known to the prosecution which would sustain a charge except that . More important.e. In Matter of Shawmut Mining Co. as stated earlier.. revelation of the client's name would obviously provide the necessary link for the prosecution to build its case. because the privilege. under the third main exception. information relating to the identity of a client may fall within the ambit of the privilege when the client's name itself has an independent significance. 44 Moreover. The second case falls within the exception because whether or not the act for which the client sought advice turns out to be illegal. among others. but the nature of the transactions to which it related. The reason for the first rule is that it is not within the professional character of a lawyer to give advice on the commission of a crime.belief by the taxpayers that more taxes or interest or penalties are due than the sum previously paid. which might lead to possible action against him. (b)submission of documents substantiating the lawyer-client relationship. "that would inevitably form the chain of testimony necessary to convict the (client) of a . and (c)the submission of the deeds of assignment petitioners executed in favor of their clients covering their respective shareholdings. in the words of Baird. at the instance of a hostile litigant. there exist other situations which could qualify as exceptions to the general rule. where the nature of the attorney-client relationship has been previously disclosed and it is the identity which is intended to be confidential. we can readily deduce that the clients indeed consulted the petitioners. petitioners gave their professional advice in the form of. . crime. therefore. if any. since such revelation would otherwise result in disclosure of the entire transaction. such that disclosure would then reveal client confidences. 45 Summarizing these exceptions. relating to the subject thereof. should be done. which is privileged information. by no less than the PCGG itself. . The key lies in the three specific conditions laid down by the PCGG which constitutes petitioners' ticket to non-prosecution should they accede thereto: (a)the disclosure of the identity of its clients. supra. For example. There is no question that the preparation of the aforestated documents was part and parcel of petitioners' legal service to their clients. in general. The link between the alleged criminal offense and the legal advice or legal service sought was duly established in the case at bar. 43 Apart from these principal exceptions. Certainly the payment and the feeling of guilt are the reasons the attorney here involved was employed — to advise his clients what. it constituted an integral part of their duties as lawyers. the content of any client communication to a lawyer lies within the privilege if it is relevant to the subject matter of the legal problem on which the client seeks legal assistance." 47 An important distinction must be made between a case where a client takes on the services of an attorney. the aforementioned deeds of assignment covering their client's shareholdings.. under the circumstances. though whether it is criminal guilt is undisclosed. while the prosecution may not have a case against the client in the second example and cannot use the attorney client relationship to build up a case against the latter. First. regarding the financial and corporate structure.

The Baird exception. the latter's case should be built upon evidence painstakingly gathered by them from their own sources and not from compelled testimony requiring them to reveal the name of their clients. in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes. While the client found a new lawyer during the interregnum. competence. Boon. then the client's identity is so inextricably linked to the subject matter itself that it falls within the protection. but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive. we who are here know that she is a mistress only to be won with sustained and lonely passion — only to be won by straining all the faculties by which man is likened to God. we see reflected. is an exacting goddess. We have no choice but to uphold petitioners' right not to reveal the identity of their clients under pain of the breach of fiduciary duty owing to their clients. is not prepared to accept respondents' position without denigrating the noble profession that is lawyering. is then the standard of behavior. Reiterating the principle of fiduciary duty of lawyers to clients in Meinhard v. The uberrimei fidei relationship between a lawyer and his client therefore imposes a strict liability for negligence on the former. thus causing no harm to its client. To the same effect is the ruling in Searcy. Scheller 55 requiring strict obligation of lawyers vis-a-vis clients." the US Court found that the lawyer involved was fired for cause. . but extends even after the termination of the relationship. Denney. . and sought payment quantum meruit of work done. information which unavoidably reveals much about the nature of the transaction which may or may not be illegal. such retainer is obviously protected by the privilege. When I think on this majestic theme by eyes dazzle. But that is not all. There are. thus deserved no attorney's fees at all. Scarola. 58 ". a contingent fee lawyer was fired shortly before the end of completion of his work." The Court. including confidentiality. In this case. which the lawyers are sworn to uphold. v. Barnhart. If we are to speak of the law as our mistress. But what other gives such scope to realize the spontaneous energy of one's soul? In what other does one plunge so deep in the stream of life — so share its passions its battles. What a subject is this in which we are united — this abstraction called the Law. The Court instead ruled that breaches of a fiduciary relationship in any context comprise a special breed of cases that often loosen normally stringent requirements of causation and damages. Hadley and McCloy v. The ethical duties owing to the client. Boughner.. The court. but the lives of all men that have been. When the nature of the transaction would be revealed by disclosure of an attorney's retainer. apprehension of compelled disclosure from attorneys must be eliminated. Salmon 56 famously attributed to Justice Benjamin Cardozo that "Not honesty alone. . i. not only in our lives. 53 It follows that petitioner attorneys in the instant case owe their client(s) a duty and an obligation not to disclose the latter's identity which in turn requires them to invoke the privilege. which exists not only during the relationship. the name is as much "communication" as information revealed directly about the transaction in question itself. Compelling disclosure of the client's name in circumstances such as the one which exists in the case at bench amounts to sanctioning fishing expeditions by lazy prosecutors and litigants which we cannot and will not countenance. A lawyer cannot reveal such communication without exposing himself to charges of violating a principle which forms the bulwark of the entire attorney-client relationship. because the facts of the instant case clearly fall within recognized exceptions to the rule that the client's name is not privileged information. and Shipley P. after all. its despair. found that the lawyer was fired for cause after he sought to pressure his client into signing a new fee agreement while settlement negotiations were at a critical stage. The logical nexus between name and nature of transaction is so intimate in this case that it would be difficult to simply dissociate one from the other. The utmost zeal given by Courts to the protection of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege and lawyer's loyalty to his client is evident in the duration of the protection. wherein as in a magic mirror. both as witness and actor? .revealing the name of the client would open up other privileged information which would substantiate the prosecution's suspicions.e. and found in favor of the client. demanding of her votaries in intellectual and moral discipline. In Milbank. a communication which is clearly and distinctly privileged. . 52 What these cases unanimously seek to avoid is the exploitation of the general rule in what may amount to a fishing expedition by the prosecution. events forced the client to settle for less than what was originally offered. . In this sense. so extolled by Justice Holmes in this wise: Every calling is great when greatly pursued. that for the purpose of promoting freedom of consultation of legal advisors by clients. however.A. alternative sources of information available to the prosecutor which do not depend on utilizing a defendant's counsel as a convenient and readily available source of information in the building of a case against the latter. its triumphs. the crux of petitioner's objections ultimately hinges on their expectation that if the prosecution has a case against their clients. This exception has likewise been sustained in In re Grand Jury Proceedings 51 and Tillotson v. 54 the US Second District Court rejected the plea of the petitioner law firm that it breached its fiduciary duty to its client by helping the latter's former agent in closing a deal for the agent's benefit only after its client hesitated in proceeding with the transaction. loyalty. is consonant with the principal policy behind the privilege. no less. diligence as well as the responsibility to keep clients informed and protect their rights to make decisions have been zealously sustained. 57 Such are the unrelenting duties required of lawyers vis-a-vis their clients because the law. In fine. Tweed. applicable to the instant case.

UNICOM and others and that through insidious means and machinations. the identity of the principal. Since the undertaking happens to be the leitmotif of the entire arrangement between Mr . claiming that their acts were made in furtherance of "legitimate lawyering. as to the bare statement that private respondent merely acted as a lawyer and nominee. violation of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of the Philippines. Cojuangco is their client and it was Cojuangco who furnished all the monies to the subscription payment." 59 First. signed by counsel. therefore. Moreover. However. No such substantial distinctions exist from the records of the case at bench. "that would inevitably form the chain of testimony necessary to convict the (client) of a crime. . the PCGG should conclusively show that Mr. and were not the clients which the PCGG wanted disclosed for the alleged questioned transactions. 61 To justify the dropping of the private respondent from the case or the filing of the suit in the respondent court without him. LLphil The complaint in Civil Case No. 62 Those who fall within a particular class ought to be treated alike not only as to privileges granted but also as to the liabilities imposed. Roco was treated as a species apart from the rest of the ACCRA lawyers on the basis of a classification which made substantial distinctions based on real differences. but worse.If we were to sustain respondent PCGG that the lawyer-client confidential privilege under the circumstances obtaining here does not cover the identity of the client." 60 Being "similarly situated" in this regard. Jr. only three documents were submitted for the purpose.3% of the total capital stock of UCPB as of 31 March 1987. ACCRA. the PCGG would exact from petitioners a link. 63 We find that the condition precedent required by the respondent PCGG of the petitioners for their exclusion as parties-defendants in PCGG Case No. using its wholly-owned investment arm. it is sufficient to state that petitioners have likewise made the same claim not merely out-ofcourt but also in their Answer to plaintiff's Expanded Amended Complaint. the PCGG's . an undertaking which is so material as to have justified PCGG's special treatment exempting the private respondent from prosecution. among others. not only to reveal the identity of their clients. a statement made in his out-of-court settlement with the PCGG. What is required under this constitutional guarantee is the uniform operation of legal norms so that all persons under similar circumstances would be accorded the same treatment both in the privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed. etc. The PCGG wanted to establish through the ACCRA lawyers that Mr. As was noted in a recent decision: 'Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. If law be looked upon in terms of burden or charges. to be used as instrument in accumulating ill-gotten wealth through government concessions. In the broader sense." III In response to petitioners' last assignment of error. unjust enrichment. conspired with each other in setting up through the use of coconut levy funds the financial and corporate framework and structures that led to the establishment of UCPB. whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding the rest. The condition also constitutes a transgression by respondents Sandiganbayan and PCGG of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. those that fall within a class should be treated in the same fashion. the guarantee operates against uneven application of legal norms so that all persons under similar circumstances would be accorded the same treatment. which includes . . For the principle is that equal protection and security shall be given to every person under circumstances. two of which were mere requests for re-investigation and one simply disclosed certain clients which petitioners (ACCRA lawyers) were themselves willing to reveal. . in violation of the equal protection clause. respondents failed to show — and absolutely nothing exists in the records of the case at bar— that private respondent actually revealed the identity of his client(s) to the PCGG. including herein petitioners and Eduardo Cojuangco. as well as deeds of assignment petitioners executed in favor of its clients covering their respective shareholdings. . Instead. petitioners acted as dummies. These were clients to whom both petitioners and private respondent rendered legal services while all of them were partners at ACCRA. respondents allege that the private respondent was dropped as party defendant not only because of his admission that he acted merely as a nominee but also because of his undertaking to testify to such facts and circumstances "as the interest of truth may require.. public respondents must show that there exist other conditions and circumstances which would warrant their treating the private respondent differently from petitioners in the case at bench in order to evade a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. which if not identical are analogous. By compelling petitioners. became the holder of approximately fifteen million shares representing roughly 3. ACCRA Investments Corporation. hence. public respondents contend that the primary consideration behind their decision to sustain the PCGG's dropping of private respondent as a defendant was his promise to disclose the identities of the clients in question. 64 it is grossly unfair to exempt one similarly situated litigant from prosecution without allowing the same exemption to the others. to submit to the PCGG documents substantiating the client-lawyer relationship. nominees and/or agents by allowing themselves. flagrant breach of public trust. Roco and the PCGG. 33 violates the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege. . 0033 alleged that the defendants therein. which acts constitute gross abuse of official position and authority. then it would expose the lawyers themselves to possible litigation by their clients in view of the strict fiduciary responsibility imposed on them in the exercise of their duties. as manifested by the PCGG. To this end. respondent Sandiganbayan should have required proof of the undertaking more substantial than a "bare assertion" that private respondent did indeed comply with the undertaking. The equal protection clause is a guarantee which provides a wall of protection against uneven application of statutes and regulations.

concur. this is a fishing expedition. Bellosillo. a proverbial Sword of Damocles over petitioners' heads. the Resolutions of respondent Sandiganbayan (First Division) promulgated on March 18. Lazatin. a free ride at the expense of such rights. An argument is advanced that the invocation by petitioners of the privilege of attorneyclient confidentiality at this stage of the proceedings is premature and that they should wait until they are called to testify and examine as witnesses as to matters learned in confidence before they can raise their objections. Conception. While we are aware of respondent PCGG's legal mandate to recover ill-gotten wealth. They are co-principals in the case for recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth. 1992 and May 21. Edgardo J. Hayudini as partiesdefendants in SB Civil Case No. It should not be allowed to continue a day longer.. LibLex WHEREFORE." SO ORDERED. Cruz. December 22. Angara. Victor P. The case hangs as a real and palpable threat.Eduardo Cojuangco. 4349. Avelino V. To allow the case to continue with respect to them when this Court could nip the problem in the bud at this early opportunity would be to sanction an unjust situation which we should not here countenance.] It is clear then that the case against petitioners should never be allowed to take its full course in the Sandiganbayan. Respondent Sandiganbayan is further ordered to execute petitioners Teodoro D. we will not sanction acts which violate the equal protection guarantee and the right against self-incrimination and subvert the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege. Regala. not only in violation of the attorneyclient privilege but also of the constitutional right against self-incrimination. 0033 entitled " Republic of the Philippines v. Whichever way one looks at it.. Escueta and Paraja G. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING. But petitioners are not mere witnesses. et al.demand not only touches upon the question of the identity of their clients but also on documents related to the suspected transactions. Petitioners should not be made to suffer the effects of further litigation when it is obvious that their inclusion in the complaint arose from a privileged attorney-client relationship and as a means of coercing them to disclose the identities of their clients. 1992 are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. They have made their position clear from the very beginning that they are not willing to testify and they cannot be compelled to testify in view of their constitutional right against self-incrimination and of their fundamental legal right to maintain inviolate the privilege of attorney-client confidentiality. Eduardo U. JJ . 1997. Case No. EN BANC [Adm. Jose C. Jr. . Melo and Francisco.

3248. Respondent is disbarred from the practice of law. The Supreme Court disregarded the recommendation of the Bar Confidant. the Court Resolves to DISBAR respondent ATTY. 16. his profession. FRANCISCO RICAFORT. 3694. respondent's transgressions manifested dishonesty and amounted to gross misconduct and grossly unethical which caused dishonor. SYLLABUS 1. vs.a vital function of democracy a failure of which is disastrous to society. for it cannot be denied that the respect of litigants for the profession is inexorably diminished whenever a member of the Bar betrays their trust and confidence. In Marcelo vs. honesty and integrity of the profession. 2.02 and 16. Of this amount.00 was entrusted to respondent for deposit in the bank account of complainant's husband.C.. (A. and consistent with the urgent need to maintain the esteemed traditions and high standards of the legal profession and to preserve undiminished public faith in the members of the Philippine Bar. This is specially so. Grecia. a practicing lawyer in Oas.434). — Respondent's transgressions manifested dishonesty and amounted to grave misconduct and grossly unethical. Of this amount.01. Rodolfo R.00 represented the amount respondent demanded from complainant supposedly for a bond in Civil Case No.00. Rule 1.18 September 1992. while P2. ANY DEPARTURE FROM THE PATH WHICH A LAWYER MUST FOLLOW AS DEMANDED BY THE VIRTUES OF HIS PROFESSION SHALL NOT BE TOLERATED BY THE COURT AS THE DISCIPLINING AUTHORITY. this Court declared: A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. respondent.000. reiterated in Fernandez vs. to the courts and to his clients. WHEREFORE. grave misconduct. 5814. complainant Lourdes R. This Court has been nothing short of exacting in its demand for integrity and good moral character from members of the Bar. Javier (A. The Bar Confidant recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1 ) year. thereby transgressing Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which requires a lawyer to observe and maintain the respect due the courts. FRANCISCO RICAFORT from the practice of law.03 of Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.ID. nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity. became a guardian of truth and the rule of law and an indispensable instrument in the fair and impartial administration of justice. with having committed the crime of estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code by misappropriating the sum of P32. P30. he became a guardian of truth and the rule of law. 223 SCRA 425. behavior which caused dishonor. Here respondent chose to forget that by swearing the lawyer's oath. to the bar.000. BUSINOS. prLL SYNOPSIS Complainant charged respondent with having committed the crime of estafa for having misappropriated the sum of P32. P30. while P2.LOURDES R. DISBARMENT OF RESPONDENT ATTORNEY IS WARRANTED IN CASE AT BAR. for dishonesty.000.000. To this end. but to the noble profession to which he belongs. ID. Generally speaking. a lawyer can do honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society. Paulino for complainant. No. when no such bond was required. as here. No. RESOLUTION PER CURIAM p: In a sworn complaint for disbarment dated 31 October 1994 but received by us on 21 November 1994. not merely to respondent.00.000. grossly unethical behavior in palpable disregard of Section 25 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.17 June 1993. The bar should maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing. but to the noble profession to which he belongs.000. .LEGAL ETHICS.C.00 was entrusted to respondent for deposit in the bank account of respondent bank account of complainant's husband. The Court resolved to impose the extreme penalty disbarment. ATTY.00 represented the amount demanded from complainant supposedly for a bond in a civil case when no such bond is required. Respondent forgot that by swearing the lawyer's oath. — Any departure from the path which a lawyer must follow as demanded by the virtues of his profession shall not be tolerated by this Court as the disciplining authority. 214 SCRA 1. the courts and the public.. According to the Court. not merely to respondent. aggravated by a violation of Canon 11 thereof. complainant. and an indispensable instrument in the fair and impartial administration of justice . The trust and confidence necessarily reposed by clients require in the attorney a high standard and appreciation of his duty to his clients. Businos charged respondent Atty. RESPECT OF LITIGANTS FOR THE PROFESSION IS INEXORABLY DIMINISHED WHENEVER A MEMBER OF THE BAR BETRAYS THEIR TRUST AND CONFIDENCE. Francisco Ricafort.01 of Canon 1 and Rules 16. where respondent even deliberately defied the lawful orders of the Court for him to file his comment on the complaint. 12-13). Albay.

Complainant Lourdes R. issue. she expected in vain to receive the money a week later in Tarlac as respondent failed to effect the deposit of the said sum in her . 1584) to the defendants Heirs of Pedro Rodrigo through Lourdes Rodrigo Businos who were receiving the rentals from Oas Standard High School prior to the institution of this case. with the instruction to deposit the same in her savings account at the PNB. we ordered him once more to file his comment within ten (10) days from notice. complainant filed the instant administrative case against respondent. Erlinda C. papers and other records necessary and pertinent to the above stated transactions. and referred the complaint to the Office of the Bar Confidant for reception of complainant's evidence and submission of a report and recommendation thereon. Heirs of Pedro Rodrigo Sr. due and owing to me or said Heirs of Pedro Rodrigo. testify. The said sum was entrusted to respondent with an obligation on his part to deposit the same in the account of complainant's husband at PNB. 1584. the Clerk of Court of RTC.000.00 intended for his clients as well as having deceived his clients into giving him the sum of P2. the Regional Trial Court of Ligao. the Bar Confidant. to pay a fine of P1. instruments. but said amount was never used as intended since no bond was required in the said case. respondent did not comply. entitled "Heirs of Rosano Rodrigo-Reantaso. 1994..000. respondent transmitted the fine of P1. he failed to return the same to complainant. and within the same period. 1994. Albay. Br.000. upon questioning by the undersigned. or otherwise enter into compromise during the pre-trial stage or other proceedings in civil case No. Branch 12. that respondent was deemed to have waived his right to file his comment.To demand. of depositing the money. Businos is one of the heirs of Pedro Rodrigo who are the defendants in Civil Case No. Thus. Ligao. Verzosa.000. On July 10. She was thus constrained to file a criminal case for estafa and an administrative case for disbarment against him. "2. respondent convened the money to his own personal use. and "3. to be her true and lawful attorney-in-fact with the following powers: "1. executed a special power of attorney.00 purportedly to be deposited as a bond in the case he was handling. representing her co-heirs. and despite several demands. compelling us in the resolution of 17 July 1995 to require him to show cause why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for such failure. On 16 October 1997. As respondent still failed to so file." now pending before the Regional Trial Court. Francisco Ricafort stands charged with having misappropriated the sum of P30. we then declared.00 or suffer imprisonment of ten (10) days should he fail to so pay. we required respondent to comment on the complaint. In a Compliance and Motion dated 24 October 1996. Respondent was the counsel of record for the defendants in the said case. Again respondent failed to comply. 1994. Atty. Albay. collect and receipt for any and all sums of money that may now be deposited in said court by the defendant Oas Standard High School or hereafter be deposited by said defendant. Respondent also received from Oas Standard High School on August 17.00 representing the rental fee paid by Oas Standard High School from the Clerk of Court. Ligao Branch. father of herein complainant.000. directing the Clerk of Court "to release any and all deposits of rentals made in connection with this case (Civil Case No. however. Complainant further accuses respondent for demanding and receiving P2. After she was informed by the court that respondent had already withdrawn the money.000. Thus. 1584. complainant. respondent merely pocketed the said amount. 1994. but asked for five (5) days from date to file his comment. apparently a case involving the properties of the late Pedro Rodrigo. 12 issued an order.00 as payment for rental of school site for the month of July 1994 (See Annex "D" to the complaint).000. submitted her Report and Recommendation. xxx xxx xxx Complainant. on November 21.00 by way of postal money order.000.00 from her which he said will be used for the bond in Civil Case No. in the resolution of 2 December 1996. material portions of which read as follows: Respondent Atty.To attend to and represent me. vs. 1994 the sum of P5.00 on even date (see Annex "C" to the complaint).." On August 10.In the resolution of 18 January 1995. Despite his receipt of a copy of the resolution. Sr. Hence in the resolution of 25 September 1996. appointing and constituting respondent and/or Pedro Rodrigo." In a letter dated August 10.To sign. Ligao informed herein complainant that respondent had already received the rental deposit of P25. and deliver any and all deeds. Instead. authenticate. 1584. testified that: She authorized respondent to withdraw the money amounting to P35. et al. Jr. representing the rentals of said defendant for the lease of the property involved in said case.

000. She demanded from him to give her the money. dctai There is no doubt that respondent is guilty of having used the money of his clients without their consent. Respondent gave back the P2. of withdrawing the instant complaint (TSN. under his oath.00 from the Clerk of Court. (pp. PREMISES CONSIDERED. respondent came with the money and paid complainant inside the courtroom (TSN. While the findings are in order. 7-8. By so doing. Respondent did not give her a receipt for the said amount. therefore. Legaspi. We have no other alternative. which he undertook to foot as a way of settlement. Francisco Ricafort be SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of ONE (1) YEAR. 65 SCRA 304). He is obligated to report promptly the money of his clients that has come into his possession. however. Not only has he degraded himself but as an unfaithful lawyer he has besmirched the fair name of an honorable profession. His belated payment of the amount he illegally used and fraudulently obtained do not relieve him from any liability if only to impress upon him that the relation between an attorney and his client is highly fiduciary in its nature and of a very delicate. and by deceiving the complainant into giving him the amount of P2. Bigornia. while the P5. we place the amount illegally used by respondent at P30. 17).account. p. April 18. respondent failed to make good his promise to give her the money he withdrew from the Clerk of Court and Oas Standard High School (TSN. Legaspi.00 as claimed by complainant. latter to make good his promise to pay the money he withdrew from the Clerk of Court and Oas Standard High School (See Annex "E" to the complaint). both from her and her lawyer.00 for the bond required in the civil case. It bears emphasis that a lawyer. though. pledges himself not to delay any man for money or malice and is bound to conduct himself with all good fidelity to his clients. Despite several demands.00 to complainant. 57 Phil.000.000. pp. Because of this development. 18). (TSN. requiring high degree of fidelity and good faith. all promising the .000. p. He paid complainant a total of P60. It manifests his tacit admission thereto. p. but he informed her that he had already spent the same. He promised. exacting and confidential character. 19-20). He should not commingle it with his private property or use it for his personal purposes without his client's [sic] consent.000.00 purportedly to be used as a bond which was not required. 15. As the evidentiary value of the documents should be given more weight than the oral testimony of complainant. Money collected by a lawyer in pursuance of a judgment in favor of his clients is held in trust and must be immediately turned over to them (Aya vs. 18).00 representing the money he withdrew from the Clerk of Court and Oas Standard High School. 19). she did not anymore pursue the estafa case against respondent (TSN. respondent's repeated failure to comply with several resolutions of the Court requiring him to comment on the complaint lends credence to the allegations of the complainant. 1997).000. 11-13). TSN. is. p.00 he got from complainant and attorney's fees. but to accept the said documents at their [sic] face value. the P2. On their third hearing of the estafa case sometime in 1995. He should maintain a reputation for honesty and fidelity to private trust (Daroy vs. Although complainant failed to submit the original or certified true copies of the documents in support of her complaint against respondent. She was then constrained to file a criminal case for estafa and an administrative case against respondent sometime in November of 1994 to recover the money in question (TSN.00 was withdrawn by respondent from Oas Standard High School (TSN. 14-16).000. p. to pay her the said amount. by converting the money of his clients to his own personal use without their consent. supra). She clarified that respondent withdrew only the sum of P30. guilty of deceit. Respondent. it is respectfully recommended that respondent Atty. 8). She further testified that respondent demanded from her the sum of P2. (TSN. lawyers are bound to promptly account for money or property received by them on behalf of their clients and failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct (Daroy vs.00 and not P35. Moreover. pp. requiring him to comment on the complaint indicate the high degree of irresponsibility of respondent. his repeated failure to comply with the resolutions of the Court.000. he betrays the confidence reposed in him by his clients. the penalty recommended is not commensurate to respondent's infractions. pp. undoubtedly. p. She has no intention. Respondent's illegal use of his client's money is made more manifest [by] his letters to complainant. 8). Reception of Evidence. malpractice and gross misconduct. In view of that special relationship. (TSN. 19).000.

. 18 September 1992. respondent breached Section 25 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. which read: SEC. Jr. grave misconduct. the Philippine Judges Association. JJ . OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.01 of Canon 1 and Rules 16. Here.01. This is specially so.02 and 16. to be appended to respondent's personal record. 25. giving notice promptly thereafter to his client. Rule 16. In Marcelo vs. but proceedings under this section shall not be a bar to a criminal prosecution. C . Bellosillo. for it cannot be denied that the respect of litigants for the profession is inexorably diminished whenever a member of the Bar betrays their trust and confidence. — A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own and those of others kept by him. thereby transgressing Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which requires a lawyer to observe and maintain the respect due the courts. No. His name is hereby stricken from the Roll of Attorneys. reiterated in Fernandez v. — A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client.01. WHEREFORE.02. Kapunan. FRANCISCO RICAFORT from the practice of law. and all courts of the land for their information and guidance. CANON 16 — A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION Rule 16.01. — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful. Vitug. — A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION. SO ORDERED. he became a guardian of truth and the rule of law. LLphil Any departure from the path which a lawyer must follow as demanded by the virtues of his profession shall not be tolerated by this Court as the disciplining authority. Generally speaking.03 of Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent's transgressions manifested dishonesty and amounted to grave misconduct and grossly unethical behavior which caused dishonor. Rule 16. Narvasa. 3248. nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity. — When an attorney unjustly retains in his hands money of his client after it has been demanded he may be punished for contempt as an officer of the Court who has misbehaved in his official transactions.. 3694.Plainly. he shall have a lien over the funds and may apply so much thereof as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements. 223 SCRA 425. This Court has been nothing short of exacting in its demand for integrity and good moral character from members of the Bar. Rule 1. Rule 1. 214 SCRA 1. immoral or deceitful conduct. Rule 1. 12-13). Javier (AC. Davide. to the bar.01 of Canon 1 and Rules 16.01. a lawyer can do honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society. not merely to respondent.03. honesty and integrity of the profession. the National Office and the Albay Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. respondent chose to forget that by swearing the lawyer's oath. CANON 1. to the courts and to his clients. the courts and the public. To this end. 16. and an indispensable instrument in the fair and impartial administration of justice — a vital function of democracy a failure of which is disastrous to society. the Court Resolves to DISBAR respondent ATTY.. this Court declared: A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. 16. — A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. concur. This resolution shall take effect immediately and copies thereof furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant. but to the noble profession to which he belongs.J . Francisco. The trust and confidence necessarily reposed by clients require in the attorney a high standard and appreciation of his duty to his clients.Unlawful retention of client's funds. and consistent with the urgent need to maintain the esteemed traditions and high standards of the legal profession and to preserve undiminished public faith in the members of the Philippine Bar. Panganiban and Martinez. 17 June 1993. . 434). Puno. for dishonesty. He shall also have a lien to the same extent on all judgments and executions he has secured for his client as provided for in the Rules of Court. where respondent even deliberately defied the lawful orders of the Court for him to file his comment on the complaint. Grecia. Mendoza. contempt. The bar should maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing. as here. aggravated by a violation of Canon 11 thereof. Romero. his profession. However.03 of Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Melo. Regalado. dishonest.02 and 16. (AC No. grossly unethical behavior in palpable disregard of Section 25 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.

1995.money and explain the certification. Respondent was complainant's counsel of record. on November 12. respondent. Regarding the money order. the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines adopted the Report and Recommendation as follows: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE. SOMOSOT. giving the parties a fresh period of 15 days within which to comply. as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED. both of the parties' counsels did not comply with the order.000 as payment for the preparation of the memorandum. but respondent still failed to file a memorandum. Pontevedra for neglect of duty and for professional misconduct for unlawfully keeping money belonging to her. The Commission held that there was no sufficient justification for respondent's failure to file the memorandum. X-98. however. Neither did he present the money order to the post office for payment. X-98 and for keeping the money order despite complainant's request for its return. complainant's daughter. Raymundo Ponteras. The core issue for our resolution is whether respondent violated the Canons of Professional Responsibility in failing to file the required memorandum in Civil Case No. 9 Respondent. complainant filed the instant case. respondent took no action on complainant's request. Complainant could not produce copies of the transcripts of stenographic notes while respondent's case folder were also lost by Atty. report and recommendation. who did not present the money order for payment. On January 15. 3 Complainant repeatedly reminded respondent about the deadline. ELIAS A. She asked for a certification to this effect from the trial court. pending before the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental. 2004. in the main. respondent was allegedly left with no recourse but simply to enter into an agreement with the opposing counsel to submit the case without memorandum. It appears that complainant was one of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 2Although the trial court apprised the parties of the importance of their memoranda to the resolution of the complex case. Thus. Somosot (now deceased) filed a verified complaint 1 against respondent Atty. On February 27. the Commission found respondent liable for breach of his professional duties and recommended that respondent be reprimanded and warned. 1991. Unfortunately. herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A". Atty. then sent a letter to respondent through Wilma Pones asking respondent to return the . vs. the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case. 6 Complainant later learned that the case had been submitted for decision without any memoranda. Before the case could be heard. 2006. Wilma S. with nothing to aid him in the preparation of the memorandum. and. for reconveyance and recovery of possession. 7 Respondent ignored her request. San Carlos City. ATTY. however. J p: On July 28. Branch 59. Atty. Consequently. 1991. we noted respondent's comment and required complainant to submit a reply. No. 8 On November 28. 4 After almost two years. PONTEVEDRA.C. 5Since the period for filing had already lapsed. respondent filed a rejoinder. Thus. the trial court ordered the parties to submit their respective memoranda since the case that had been pending for already twenty-three years. the Court referred the case to the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation. 1994. respondent allegedly entered into an oral agreement with the opposing counsel that they would both forego with the filing of the memorandum. finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the THIRD DIVISION [A. the case was submitted for decision based on the records. handled the prosecution of the case and the presentation of witnesses. we required respondent to file his comment. In its Report and Recommendation dated January 5. Respondent manifested that he had earlier filed his comment and submitted additional copies of said comment. On August 22. complainant died. He explained that complainant's family lawyer.] FLORENCIA M. complainant Florencia M. Ponteras who borrowed but failed to return it. RESOLUTION QUISUMBING. Upon the filing of complainant's reply. complainant. sent respondent a money order for P1. 1994. but to ask for a refund from the post office concerned. 1994. Elias A. 4285. Ponteras died after the presentation of the last defense witness and his notes were lost. Thus. the trial court reiterated the order. Instead. the Commission held that complainant's remedy was not to proceed administratively against respondent. 2004. May 2. argued that his failure to prepare the memorandum was justified. Pones. EaDATc On March 1.

03 of said canon to deliver such funds and property of his client when demanded. 13 Before admission to the bar. Worse. 16Utmost fidelity is demanded once counsel agrees to take the cudgels for his client's cause. Rayos." 12 Additionally. concur.. and [their] negligence in connection therewith shall render [them] liable. He is required by Rule 16. bad faith. Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that lawyers owe fidelity to the cause of their clients and must therefore be always mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in them. Once he agrees to handle a case. 15 a lawyer should give adequate attention. and considering respondent's negligence in the performance of his professional duties towards his client. and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice. We remind respondent that by taking a client's cause. he covenants that he will exert all effort for its prosecution until its final resolution. 14 As we held in Pariñas v. He is ordered to return immediately the postal money order in the amount of P1. He should have filed a manifestation before the trial court informing it of the agreement instead of leaving the trial court waiting and wondering whether said memoranda will be filed at all. It is not enough that a lawyer possesses the qualification to handle the legal matter." Failure to comply with these abiding precepts of ethical conduct renders counsel liable for violating the canons of his profession. His omission not only gave complainant much anxiety. he should undertake the task with dedication and care. Elias Pontevedra is hereby REPRIMANDED and WARNED that the commission of the same or similar offense in the future will be dealt with more severely. He must also give adequate attention to his legal work. Elias Pontevedra is hereby REPRIMANDED and Warned that any similar or other complaint in the future for breach of his professional duties will be dealt with more severely. WHEREFORE. they are mandated to serve their clients with competence and diligence. Carpio. respondent failed to exercise that degree of diligence required of him in the performance of his duties. respondent should have accounted for the money order. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. and while respondent may have been constrained simply to enter into an agreement with the opposing counsel to submit the case for decision without memorandum. As held in Rayos-Ombac v. They are undertaken solely for the public welfare. Under Canon 18. JJ. 18 Complainant's prayer for damages is denied. a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession. respondent should have returned it when complainant's daughter demanded it from him so that complainant could ask for a refund from the issuing post office. Carpio Morales. Jr. respondent did not inform complainant that the case had been submitted for decision without memorandum despite complainant's repeated requests for information regarding the status of her case. Having received the money order as payment for professional services that he was unable to render. 11 Specifically. SO ORDERED. Tinga and Velasco. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense a party. . it also needlessly compounded the long delay in the resolution of the 23-year-old case. Atty. they are not to "neglect a legal matter entrusted to [them].000. considering the absence of any showing that respondent had acted with malice. they are required to keep their client informed of the status of the latter's cases and to respond within a reasonable time to requests for information. While it was impossible for him to prepare a memorandum without the transcripts of stenographic notes and his case folder..applicable laws and rules. we deem the recommended penalty of reprimand sufficient penalty. lawyers subscribe to an oath to conduct themselves "with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to their clients. 17 Moreover. 19 the attorney is called upon to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court. Paguinto. respondent failed to inform the trial court of said agreement. As expressly stated in Canon 16. respondent Atty. care and time to his client's case.10 We agree with the IBP that respondent should be appropriately sanctioned. CHATEa However. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. In this case.00 to complainant's heirs. or other evil motive in failing to inform the trial court of the agreement to submit the case for decision and in failing to account for the money order.

. having acquired the same under HP-No. the Spouses Eustaquio refused. P-11499 from the Spouses Eustaquio. . and complainants owned a 9. P-11499 was canceled and Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.A. . AND JOSEFINA ANGALAN. ROSALINO ANGALAN. Tagum. vs. To secure the loan. Eustaquio and Arabella P.document which the Spouses Eustaquio prepared. respondent. . P11499. Kaputian." Respondent filed a complaint 5 dated 13 April 1976 with the then Court of First Instance (CFI). FRANCISCA ANGALAN. February 6.000. INIS ANGALAN. Rosalino. 65310. respondent acknowledged receipt of P1. DELANTE.. representing the full payment of his professional fees: "Received from Mr. No. ATTY. . .] MARIA ANGALAN. ETIDaH Complainants are the heirs of Angalan Samal (Angalan) and Sanaan Samal (Sanaan). sold and conveyed said parcel of land covered by the aforesaid title to the herein defendants for the sum of FIFTEEN THOUSAND PESOS (P15. Magdalena. Angalan and complainants mortgaged 8. now Regional Trial Court (RTC). are the original patentees of a certain parcel of land. The property was covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. Davao. . of the Registry of Deeds of Davao. .200 from Francisca Angalan and her husband. xxx xxx xxx EN BANC [A. MACARIO CAPUL and FRANCISCA RAFAEL CAPUL the sum of ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED PESOS (P1. . Sanaan. P-11499 to the Spouses Eustaquio. pursuant to the provisions of the Homestead Laws of the Public Land Law (C. P-11499 in the name of Angalan (Samal). Inis.102-property to his name — OCT No.200. 3.C. . and which complainants signed.. the herein plaintiffs have the right to repurchase said property within a period of five (5) years from the date of the conveyance. 141). When complainants tried to pay the loan and recover OCT No. the herein original patentees . Davao del Norte. They also learned that Navarro R. Macario Capul (Capul).102 hectares of the 9. Angalan and complainants borrowed P15. Complainants allege that they are illiterate and belong to the Samal Tribe. Eustaquio (Spouses Eustaquio). 1976.000 from Navarro R. 1971.complainants. Davao stating that: DHCcST 2. Angalan and complainants affixed their thumb marks on the document. P-11499.. In a receipt 4 dated 18 November 1970.102-hectare parcel of land in Barrio San Jose.102-hectare property and surrendered OCT No. the herein plaintiffs are entitled to the produce of the property at least beginning April 8. Nena. .[A]s a matter of right under the law. . Angalan Samal and his children ..00) . DIONICIO ANGALAN. Eustaquio (Navarro) had transferred the title over the 8. 4. . . Angalan. Dionicio. covered under Original Certificate of Title No. 1 On 15 April 1971. situated in Ombay. Francisca. [O]n April 15. Samal. Island Garden City of Samal. NENA ANGALAN. T9926 3 in the name of Navarro was issued. [U]nder the provisions of the Public Land Law. Complainants learned that the . 7181. Delante (respondent) for gross violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. DECISION PER CURIAM p: This is a complaint filed by Maria. xxx xxx xxx 7. LEONIDO C. Complainants engaged the services of respondent for the purpose of recovering their property. and Josefina Angalan (complainants) against Atty. MAGDALENA ANGALAN. Leonido C. particularly Section 119 thereof and even on the face of the title of said property now under the name of the defendants . ALL OF WHOM ARE HEIRS OF ANGALAN SAMAL married to SANAAN SAMAL. The Spouses Eustaquio prepared a document 2 and asked Angalan and complainants to sign it.00) representing full payment of professional services in regard to recovery of Original Certificate of Title No. Judicial Region XVI. 2009. was a deed of absolute sale and not a real estate mortgage.

8 In a Decision 9 dated 30 September 1977. .[B]y reason of unwarranted refusal on the part of the defendants to reconvey the property to plaintiffs.. T-9926 was canceled and TCT No. the services of counsel . . T-57932 11 in the name of respondent was issued. In his answer 13 dated 29 December 2004. [T]he late ANGALAN (SAMAL) together with his children in company with MACARIO CAPUL.000. ANGALAN (SAMAL) [now deceased) [sic] together with his son-in-law. . In a letter 10 dated 10 January 1979 and addressed to the barrio captain of Umbay. Macario Capol to take over the possession of the property together with the harvesting of the matured coconuts. upon receipt of the defendant[s] of the balance of P15. . AcHCED 3. Complainants did not have the P30. MACARIO CAPUL.000. In my capacity as counsel of the Heirs of Angalan Samal and owner of the money in redeeming the property.00 has not been paid.000 repurchase price for the property. . xxx xxx xxx It is preposterous for plaintiff[s] to claim that they had [sic] engaged the professional services of herein defendant to file an annulment case since plaintiffs never came back apparently ashamed when they were driven out. respondent stated that: STHAaD [In] 1971. the latter being the town mate of herein defendant Delante in Danao. In the amicable settlement 7 dated 3 September 1977. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. xxx xxx xxx . [T]he transfer of said property consisting of 8. however. Cebu and who is married to the daughter of the late ANGALAN (SAMAL). Complainants filed a complaint 12 dated 30 April 2004 with the RTC. 6 Complainants and the Spouses Eustaquio entered into an amicable settlement. (2) TCT No. Alfredo Rabadon shall clear the area and turnover the same within fifteen (15) days from receipt [of] said balance. . Complainants learned that respondent transferred the title of the property to his name — TCT No. respondent stated that: This will inform you that the Heirs of Angalan Samal have already redeemed their property through me from Mr.000. Judicial Region XI.. T57932 be declared void. respondent refused. . When complainants tried to repay the P30. herein defendant disagreed as to their justification in borrowing money which was for no other purpose except to have money on their own. Respondent advanced the P30.9. [T]he plaintiffs have offered to the defendant[s] the sum of P30. . the parties stated that: 1. upon signing hereof the Deed of Reconveyance shall be immediately executed and delivered by the defendants to plaintiff[s].00.000 and. in return. said defendants together with [their] agent and/or worker. .00 and for this purpose hereby authorize the defendants to collect the same from the Clerk of Court which amount had been deposited with this Honorable Court. Navarro Eustaquio since September. the CFI approved the amicable settlement. Likewise. 57-2004. complainants allowed respondent to possess the property and gather its produce until he is paid.102 hectares under the name of herein defendants was not tainted with any deceit but effected legally by virtue of a valid deed of sale executed by defendants' [sic] spouses EUSTAQUIO in favor of herein defendants. and (3) respondent be made to pay damages. . after their story. Davao del Norte.000 repurchase price and recover the property from respondent. were directed by herein defendant to inform him why it was necessary for them to borrow money and for whatever [sic] purpose. . [U]pon the signing hereof. 2..00 as repurchase price which the defendant[s accept]. the defendant[s] shall continue to possess. I have authorized Mr. . Samal. the plaintiffs shall pay the defendant[s] the sum of P15. [W]hile the balance of P15. but worse they had [sic] never paid the herein defendant a single centavo for purposes of filing an annulment case against co-defendant NAVARRO EUSTAQUIO. the latter have been constrained to engage. and in fact have engaged. 1978. . Branch 34.000. . came to herein defendant's office and sought for an advice to borrow money. and if necessary to gather the produce of the property. Davao City praying that (1) the deed of absolute sale prepared by the Spouses Eustaquio and signed by the complainants be declared void.

It is unbelievable that a buyer would entrust his money intended for payment of a property but allowed that said property be registered under the name of another. LEONIDO DELANTE drove them out of his office and told them to look for another person to help them.[T]he absolute deed of sale. Plaintiffs only asked defendant from where they could borrow money. Upon visiting the property of defendant EUSTAQUIO. was looking for a real property to build his retirement home. [sic] dated 15 April 1971. and after knowing that they just simply would [sic] like to borrow money without any concrete investments in mind to repay [sic] back [sic] any loan. xxx xxx xxx His vain attempt to salvage his malicious acts was too flimsy to gain belief and acceptance. that the plaintiffs had negotiated a sale with a certain NAVARRO EUSTAQUIO . . who. with the understanding to turn over said property to him. (2) his client from New York bought the property from the Spouses Eustaquio. Complainants filed with the Court a motion to withdraw the complaint for disbarment dated 4 April 2007 and an affidavit of desistance dated April 2007. respondent stated that (1) Angalan and Capul went to his office in 1971 to seek advice about borrowing money. LEONIDO DELANTE later learned from MACARIO CAPUL. In an Order dated 16 May 2007. 57-2004 be dismissed. [S]ince herein defendant is not interested over the said property as his own. . hence left the money to herein defendant DELANTE and to buy [sic] said property under defendant's name. Commissioner Hababag directed the parties to submit their position papers. respondent should be punished for his unprofessional and distasteful acts. specifically his lawyer.. respondent and complainants prayed that Civil Case No. executed by herein plaintiffs in favor of defendants EUSTAQUIO. his client decided not to come back anymore to the Philippines. In September 1977. Commissioner Hababag found that respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility: The issue to resolve is whether or not respondent committed grave violation of [the] Code of Professional Responsibility when he bought the property of his client[s] without their knowledge. simply runs counter to ordinary human nature. as soon as he and his family shall have returned to the country. the legal services of defendant Atty. report and recommendation. who is a friend and a town mate. and directed herein defendant to register the Deed of Sale over the property to [sic] his name and directed herein defendant to refund his client. the Court required respondent to comment on the complaint and. In a motion dated 4 April 2007 and filed with the RTC. Hababag (Commissioner Hababag) directed complainants and respondent to appear before the IBP for a mandatory conference. 14 to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation. In a Notice dated 14 March 2007. defendant Atty. and (3) complainants executed a motion to withdraw the complaint for disbarment and an affidavit of desistance. . in which he was referred to defendant EUSTAQUIO [sic] . LEONIDO DELANTE was never solicited by them. he waited for his client from New York to come home and to get his property but after 11 years. CSaIAc Defendant Atty. consent and against their will? Weighing evidence presented by both parties. he was so impressed of the location of the property and decided to buy the same. the Court referred the case . . In a Resolution 16 dated 3 July 2006. and his family [sic] are now permanent residents of New York. xxx xxx xxx Contrary to the malicious and untruthful claim of the plaintiffs. TcIAHS In his position paper dated 2 July 2007. in a Resolution 17 dated 4 December 2006. (Emphasis supplied) Commissioner Hababag recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six months. a former Filipino client of herein defendant DELANTE. and who is the husband of FRANCISCA ANGALAN CAPUL. In a Report dated 15 October 2007. Commissioner Salvador B. [sic] and he approached herein defendant. Complainants filed a complaint 15 dated 28 December 2005 with the Court charging respondent with gross violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. . speaks for itself. It is a sale of real property and NOT a mortgage. The parties failed to appear at the mandatory conference.

. the IBP Board of Governors (Board) adopted and approved the Report with modification. In a receipt dated 18 November 1970. Respondent's credibility is highly questionable. he stated that he was the lawyer of complainants: ScCEIA This will inform you that the Heirs of Angalan Samal have already redeemed their property through me from Mr. the Court gives credence to complainants' version of the facts. "by reason of unwarranted refusal on the part of the defendants to reconvey the property to plaintiffs. Defendant Atty. Samal. LEONIDO DELANTE drove them out of his office and told them to look for another person to help them.. He stated that. complainants did not engage his services. Navarro Eustaquio since September. Davao del Norte. LEONIDO DELANTE was never solicited by them. according to him. the latter have been constrained to engage. they did not engage). in respondent's letter dated 10 January 1979 and addressed to the barrio captain of Umbay. In his answer. His client from New York was the one who bought the property from the Spouses Eustaquio. Complainants fully paid respondent his professional fees. complainants did not engage his services. P-11499 in the name of Angalan (Samal). "[complainants] had never paid the herein defendant a single centavo for purposes of filing an annulment case against . and in fact have engaged. and after knowing that they just simply would like to borrow money without any concrete investments in mind to repay back [sic] any loan. In violation of the trust and confidence they reposed in him. Angalan and complainants went to respondent's office not to seek advice about borrowing money but to engage his services for the purpose of recovering their property.In a Resolution dated 22 November 2007. Complainants and respondent presented two different sets of facts. 18 the Board forwarded the case to the Court for final action. the legal services of defendant Atty. 19 (Emphasis supplied) The Court is not impressed. respondent alleged that complainants did not pay him his professional fees (which." The Court is not impressed. . xxx xxx xxx Contrary to the malicious and untruthful claim of [complainants].00) representing full payment of professional services in regard to the recovery of Original Certificate of Title No. AHSaTI After a careful review of the records. the services of counsel ." Third. . MACARIO CAPUL and FRANCISCA RAFAEL CAPUL the sum of ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED PESOS (P1. According to complainants. In his answer dated 29 December 2004 and filed with the CFI and in his position paper dated 2 July 2007 and filed with the IBP. in the complaint. Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court. defendant Atty.200. 20 These clearly show that complainants engaged the services of respondent. respondent filed a complaint with the CFI praying that the Spouses Eustaquio reconvey the property to Angalan and complainants. respondent stated that he "RECEIVED from Mr. 1978. This is obvious. after Angalan and complainants went to respondent's office. they engaged the services of respondent for the purpose of recovering their property from the Spouses Eustaquio.In my capacity as counsel of the Heirs of Angalan Samal and owner of the money in redeeming the property. LEONIDO DELANTE later learned from MACARIO CAPUL . First. This is obvious.200. . In his answer and position paper. ." Fourth. respondent transferred the title over the property to his name." This clearly shows that complainants paid respondent his professional fees. I have authorized Mr. respondent alleged that Angalan and Capul went to his office in 1971 to seek advice about borrowing money. respondent stated that: It is preposterous for [complainants] to claim that they had [sic] engaged the professional services of herein defendant to file an annulment case since [complainants] never came back apparently ashamed when they were driven out . that the plaintiffs had negotiated a sale with a certain NAVARRO EUSTAQUIO. respondent stated that. Plaintiffs only asked defendant from where they could borrow money . The Court sustains the findings of the IBP. Macario Capol to take over the possession of the property together with the harvesting of the matured coconuts. According to respondent. . NAVARRO EUSTAQUIO. respondent alleged that his client from New York bought the property from the Spouses Eustaquio: . Second. MACARIO CAPUL and FRANCISCA RAFAEL CAPUL the sum of ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED PESOS (P1. In his answer. The Board increased respondent's suspension from six months to one year. respondent issued a receipt to complainants stating that he "RECEIVED from Mr. According to respondent. P-11499 in the name of Angalan (Samal). Pursuant to Section 12 (b).00) representing full payment of professional services in regard to the recovery of Original Certificate of Title No.

Section 5. and directed herein respondent to register the Deed of Sale over the property under his name and directed herein respondent to refund his client. a former Filipino client of herein respondent. . and (3) referred to complainants' charges as malicious and untruthful. respondent took advantage of complainants and transferred the title of the property to his name. Complainants repurchased the property from the Spouses Eustaquio. . Respondent's story about the client from New York is unbelievable. in which [sic] he was referred to Navarro Eustaquio. This is immaterial.000. . compromise. the old passport of the alleged client showing immigration stamps. This is obvious. the defendant[s] shall continue to possess.00 has not been paid. T9926 and returned the property to complainants upon demand. 22 (Emphasis supplied) Second. or any form of correspondence between him and the alleged client. was looking for a real property to build his retirement home. (2) refused to return the property to complainants. I have authorized Mr.000. Canon 16 states that lawyers shall hold in trust all properties of their clients that may come into their possession. respondent (1) transferred the title of the property to his name. said defendants together with [their] agent and/or worker.000. 1978. and if necessary to gather the produce of the property. In my capacity as counsel of the Heirs of Angalan Samal and owner of the money in redeeming the property. and he approached herein respondent. an affidavit of the alleged client.00 and for this purpose hereby authorize the defendants to collect the same from the Clerk of Court which amount had been deposited with this Honorable Court. the plaintiffs shall pay the defendant[s] the sum of P15. restitution." Respondent violated Canons 16 and 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. hence left the money to herein respondent and to buy [sic] said property under respondent's name. or failure of the complainant to prosecute the same. [S]ince herein respondent was not interested over the said property as his own.00. First. 23 (Emphasis supplied) These clearly show that complainants repurchased the property from the Spouses Eustaquio. who. .. Canon 17 states that lawyers shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in them. aIAcCH . he was impressed of [sic] the location of the property and decided to buy the same. 21 The Court is not impressed. settlement. The Court agrees with the observation of Commissioner Hababag that respondent's "vain attempt to salvage his malicious acts [is] too flimsy to gain belief and acceptance. Macario Capol to take over the possession of the property together with the harvesting of the matured coconuts.. . and his family [sic] are now permanent residents of New York. Complainants engaged the services of respondent in the hope that he would help them recover their property. Complainants allege that they are illiterate and that the Spouses Eustaquio took advantage of them." In his position paper. 3. . Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court states that. 2. respondent alleged that complainants executed a motion to withdraw the complaint for disbarment and an affidavit of desistance. his client decided not to come back anymore to the Philippines. Respondent should have held in trust TCT No. upon signing hereof the Deed of Reconveyance shall be immediately executed and delivered by the defendants to plaintiff[s]. [T]he plaintiffs have offered to the defendant[s] the sum of P30. . he waited for his client from New York to come home and to get his property but after 11 years. Respondent did not give any detail or proof to substantiate his story — the name of the alleged client. in his letter to the barrio captain. Likewise. as soon as he and his family shall have returned to the country. and upon visiting the property of Navarro Eustaquio.. complainants and the Spouses Eustaquio entered into an amicable settlement stating that complainants would repurchase the property from the Spouses Eustaquio: 1. respondent stated that complainants repurchased the property from the Spouses Eustaquio: IaAScD This will inform you that the Heirs of Angalan Samal have already redeemed their property through me from Mr. [W]hile the balance of P15. 24Instead of holding in trust the property of complainants. . "No investigation shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of the desistance. withdrawal of charges. HSTCcD . with the understanding to turn over said property to him.000. [U]pon the signing hereof. Alfredo Rabadon shall clear the area and turnover the same within fifteen (15) days from receipt [of] said balance. however. Respondent should have been mindful of the trust and confidence complainants reposed in him. Navarro Eustaquio since September.[I]n September 1977. Instead of protecting the interests of complainants. upon receipt of the defendant[s] of the balance of P15.00 as repurchase price which the defendant[s accept].

25Section 27. 27 A person who takes the 8. Leonido C. respondent deserves the ultimate penalty. the Court finds Atty. JJ. Chico-Nazario. the Court DISBARS him from the practice of law and ORDERS that his name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.J. Delante GUILTY of violating Canons 16 and 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states that a member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Court for gross misconduct. and integrity of the legal profession. In Hernandez. Accordingly. honesty.102-hectare property of his illiterate clients and who is incapable of telling the truth is unfit to be a lawyer. Puno. Corona. Thus. and all courts all over the country. we find the penalty recommended by the IBP too light.. Quisumbing.Considering the depravity of respondent's offense. Go. It bears reiterating that a lawyer who takes advantage of his client's financial plight to acquire the latter's properties for his own benefit is destructive of the confidence of the public in the fidelity. Ynares-Santiago. that of expulsion from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers. . Brion and Peralta. for violation of Canon 16 and Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Tinga.. CarpioMorales. WHEREFORE. Azcuna. Violation of Canons 16 and 17 constitutes gross misconduct. the Court finds the recommended penalty too light. concur. Let a copy of this Decision likewise be attached to the personal records of respondent. which constitutes gross misconduct. the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. In Hernandez v. Leonardo-de Castro. Velasco. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant. C. Carpio. Austria-Martinez. and consistent with the need to maintain the high standards of the Bar and thus preserve the faith of the public in the legal profession. the Court held that: Considering the depravity of respondent's offense. Nachura. 26 the Court disbarred a lawyer for transferring the titles over the properties of his client to his name without the knowledge of his client. Jr. TEacSA SO ORDERED..

793 . 1997. however. 1987. 1997 to the District Court of Guam requesting for certified copies of the record of the disciplinary case against Maquera and of the rules violated by him. is also a ground for his disbarment or suspension in this realm. retained the right of redemption over the property for one year. LEON G. 4 Pursuant to this Court's directive in its Resolution dated March 18. Edward Benavente. Leon G. 1998. 1987. In a Letter dated August 20. or a violation of the lawyer's oath. Castro. provided the foreign court's action is by reason of an act or omission constituting deceit. 8 The IBP sent Maquera a Notice of Hearing requiring him to appear before the IBP's Commission on Bar Discipline on July 28. Benavente purchased Castro's property for Five Hundred U. SP0075-94. 1997. J p: May a member of the Philippine Bar who was disbarred or suspended from the practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been admitted as an attorney be meted the same sanction as a member of the Philippine Bar for the same infraction committed in the foreign jurisdiction? There is a Rule of Court provision covering this case's central issue. 1996 in Special Proceedings Case No. where he has also been admitted as an attorney.S. 2003. The Court referred the matter of Maquera's suspension in Guam to the Bar Confidant for comment in its Resolution dated November 19. 9 However. its reach and breadth have not undergone the test of an unsettled case. XVI-2003-110. Verzosa recommended that the Court obtain copies of the record of Maquera's case since the documents transmitted by the Guam District Court do not contain the factual and legal bases for Maquera's suspension and are thus insufficient to enable her to Thereafter. the Superior Court of Guam stated that on August 6. Maquera (Maquera) from the practice of law in Guam for two (2) years pursuant to the Decision rendered by the Superior Court of Guam on May 7. 14 On December 21. Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court.determine whether Maquera's acts or omissions which resulted in his suspension in Guam are likewise violative of his oath as a member of the Philippine Bar. In a Memorandum dated February 20. indefinitely suspending Maquera from the practice of law within the Philippines until and unless he updates and pays his IBP membership dues in full. 1996. 1997. Maquera served as Castro's counsel in said case. Guam and did not leave any forwarding address. a parcel of land. was to be sold at a public auction in satisfaction of his obligation to Benavente. he was admitted to the practice of law in the territory of Guam. He was suspended from the practice of law in Guam for misconduct. 7 EN BANC [B. Castro's property subject of the case. Erlinda C. then Bar Confidant Atty. entered into an oral agreement with Maquera and assigned his right of redemption in favor of the latter. grossly immoral conduct. 1958. July 30. 5 the Bar Confidant sent a letter dated November 13. 1 the District Court of Guam informed this Court of the suspension of Atty. 2004. 6 The Court received certified copies of the record of Maquera's case from the District Court of Guam on December 8. 1974. malpractice or other gross misconduct. the disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar in a foreign jurisdiction. 10 On October 9. the notice was returned unserved because Maquera had already moved from his last known address in Agana. obtained a judgment against Castro in a civil case. Up to this juncture. the creditor of a certain Castro. Castro.00). the IBP submitted to the Court its Report and Recommendation and its Resolution No. 3 Under Section 27. 15 . Maquera's case was referred by the Court to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation report and recommendation within sixty (60) days from the IBP's receipt of the case records.M. in consideration of Maquera's legal services in the civil case involving Benavente. 13 At the auction sale. The right of redemption could be exercised by paying the amount of the judgment debt within the aforesaid period. as he acquired his client's property as payment for his legal services. 12 In its Decision. then sold it and as a consequence obtained an unreasonably high fee for handling his client's case. 2 a disciplinary case filed by the Guam Bar Ethics Committee against Maquera. 11 The IBP found that Maquera was admitted to the Philippine Bar on February 28. Dollars (US$500. the amount which Castro was adjudged to pay him. 1996. On October 18. No.] IN RE: SUSPENSION FROM THE PRACTICE OF LAW IN THE TERRITORY OF GUAM OF ATTY. MAQUERA RESOLUTION TINGA.

000. It also recommended that other jurisdictions be informed that Maquera has been subject to disciplinary action by the Superior Court of Guam. the Committee filed a Petition in the Superior Court of Guam praying that Maquera be sanctioned for violations of Rules 1. or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. violate Philippine law or the standards of ethical behavior for members of the Philippine Bar and thus constitute grounds for his suspension or disbarment in this jurisdiction. resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall be prima facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension(Emphasis supplied). 1992. the Committee claimed that Maquera obtained an unreasonably high fee for his services.00 in profit. and understood by the client and reduced in writing. 1987. as amended by Supreme Court Resolution dated February 13. 1996. It also held that Maquera profited too much from the eventual transfer of Castro's property to him since he was able to sell the same to the Changs with more than US$200. exercising the right of redemption. The court found that the attorney-client relationship between Maquera and Castro was not yet completely terminated when they entered into the oral agreement to transfer Castro's right of redemption to Maquera on December 21. a ground for removal of the name of the delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys under Section 10.00 in satisfaction of the judgment debt. Chang and C. or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice. (3) required to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain. in turn.5 19 and 1. which failure is. Maquera had the title to the property transferred in his name. — A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit. Rule 139-A of the Revised Rules of Court. (2) ordered to return to Castro the difference between the sale price of the property to the Changs and the amount due him for legal services rendered to Castro. he contended that the transaction was made three days following the alleged termination of the attorney-client relationship between them.00). except for the deed itself. 23 On May 7. 27 The power of the Court to disbar or suspend a lawyer for acts or omissions committed in a foreign jurisdiction is found in Section 27. the Guam Bar Ethics Committee (Committee) conducted hearings regarding Maquera's alleged misconduct.8(a) of the Model Rules that a lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquire a pecuniary interest adverse to a client unless the transaction and the terms governing the lawyer's acquisition of such interest are fair and reasonable to the client. the Superior Court of Guam rendered its Decision 24 suspending Maquera from the practice of law in Guam for a period of two (2) years and ordering him to take the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) within that period. and (4) publicly reprimanded.000. 21 The Committee recommended that Maquera be: (1) suspended from the practice of law in Guam for a period of two [2] years. "there is no evidence to establish that [Maquera] committed a breach of ethics in the Philippines. the IBP concluded that although the said court found Maquera liable for misconduct. with all but thirty (30) days of the period of suspension deferred. and that the property did not constitute an exorbitant fee for his legal services to Castro.C. either personally or through paid agents or brokers. However. and are fully disclosed to. . subsequently selling the property for a huge profit. and. The Court must therefore determine whether Maquera's acts. 22 Maquera did not deny that Castro executed a quitclaim deed to the property in his favor as compensation for past legal services and that the transaction. grossly immoral conduct. the IBP still resolved to suspend him indefinitely for his failure to pay his annual dues as a member of the IBP since 1977. malpractice. constitutes malpractice. or for a willful disobedience appearing as attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. or other gross misconduct in such office. In its Petition. which states: Section 27.00.000.Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court. Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court. The Committee further alleged that Maquera himself admitted his failure to comply with the requirement in Rule 1. namely: acquiring by assignment Castro's right of redemption over the property subject of the civil case where Maquera appeared as counsel for him. 1994. Maquera exercised Castro's right of redemption by paying Benavente US$525. 17 On January 15. The court also ordered him to take the MPRE upon his admission during the hearings of his case that he was aware of the requirements of the Model Rules regarding business transactions between an attorney and his client "in a very general sort of way. 16 On December 31. grounds therefor. 1988. Chang for Three Hundred Twenty Thousand U." 25 On the basis of the Decision of the Superior Court of Guam. whereas his legal fees for services rendered to Castro amounted only to US$45.S.8(a) 20 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Model Rules) in force in Guam. however.S. 1988. Maquera sold the property to C. 18 Subsequently. ECcaDT The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a competent court or other disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been admitted as an attorney is a ground for his disbarment or suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the acts hereinabove enumerated. was oral and was not made pursuant to a prior written agreement. The judgment. Dollars (US$320. Thereafter." 26 However.On January 8.

Leon G. The prohibition ordained in paragraph 5 of Article 1491 and Article 1492 is founded on public policy because. dishonest. The requirement of good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the Philippine Bar but is also a continuing requirement to maintain one's good's standing in the legal profession.36 More fundamentally. The case of In re: Ruste 31 illustrates the significance of the aforementioned prohibition. Maquera's acts in Guam which resulted in his two (2)-year suspension from the practice of law in that jurisdiction are also valid grounds for his suspension from the practice of law in the Philippines. 35 Likewise. He contended that the sale was made at the instance of his clients because they had no money to pay him for his services. Maquera in Guam and to serve upon him a copy of this Resolution. and since the property redeemed by him had a market value of US$248.01 which prohibits lawyers from engaging in unlawful.000. paragraph 5 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. Nevertheless. In that case. and of the rights of both". 34 Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court. 38 Under Section 10. 33 It bears stressing that the Guam Superior Court's judgment ordering Maquera's suspension from the practice of law in Guam does not automatically result in his suspension or disbarment in the Philippines. The Court held: . In the meantime. the judgment of the Superior Court of Guam only constitutes prima facie evidence of Maquera's unethical acts as a lawyer. 39 WHEREFORE. the attorney acquired his clients' property subject of a case where he was acting as counsel pursuant to a deed of sale executed by his clients in his favor. They are also violative of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Atty. as it is not certain that he did receive the Notice of Hearing earlier sent by the IBP's Commission on Bar Discipline.00. why he should not be suspended or disbarred for his acts which gave rise to the disciplinary proceedings against him in the Superior Court of Guam and his subsequent suspension in said jurisdiction. It is only after reasonable notice and failure on the part of the respondent lawyer to appear during the scheduled investigation that an investigation may be conducted ex parte. Under Section 27. and his act of selling the redeemed property for huge profits were tainted with deceit and bad faith when it concluded that Maquera charged Castro an exorbitant fee for his legal services. . an attorney may easily take advantage of the credulity and ignorance of his client 30 and unduly enrich himself at the expense of his client. . Said rule mandates that a respondent lawyer must in all cases be notified of the charges against him. as contended by the complainant. by virtue of his office. 29 the prohibition extends to sales in legal redemption. Under Article 1492. this time specifically informing him of the charges against him and requiring him to explain why he should not be suspended or disbarred on those grounds (through this Resolution).The Superior Court of Guam found that Maquera acquired his client's property by exercising the right of redemption previously assigned to him by the client in payment of his legal services. 1987 (the date when the right of redemption was assigned to him)." and Rule 1. Maquera is required to SHOW CAUSE. whichever comes later. he is liable for misconduct for accepting payment for his legal services way beyond his actual fees which amounted only to US$45. . The Court ruled that the lawyer's acquisition of the property of his clients under the circumstances obtaining therein rendered him liable for malpractice. Thus. the Court agrees with the IBP that Maquera should be suspended from the practice of law for non-payment of his IBP membership dues from 1977 up to the present. Rule 139-A of the Revised Rules of Court. immoral or deceitful conduct. and default in such payment for one year shall be ground for removal of the name of the delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys. is of no moment. Canon 17 which states that "[a] lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and shall be mindful the trust and confidence reposed in him. the acts which led to his suspension in Guam are mere grounds for disbarment or suspension in this jurisdiction. within fifteen (15) days from receipt of this Resolution. there is a need to ascertain Maquera's current and correct address in Guam in order that another notice. at that only if the basis of the foreign court's action includes any of the grounds for disbarment or suspension in this jurisdiction. 37 The Court notes that Maquera has not yet been able to adduce evidence on his behalf regarding the charges of unethical behavior in Guam against him. may be sent to him. non-payment of membership dues for six (6) months shall warrant suspension of membership in the IBP. Such acts are violative of a lawyer's sworn duty to act with fidelity toward his clients. Maquera is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR or until he shall have paid his membership dues. Paragraph 5 of Article 1491 28 prohibits the lawyer's acquisition by assignment of the client's property which is the subject of the litigation handled by the lawyer. Such transaction falls squarely under Article 1492 in relation to Article 1491. In either case an attorney occupies a vantage position to press upon or dictate his terms to a harassed client. as contended by the respondent. in breach of the "rule so amply protective of the confidential relations. which must necessarily exist between attorney and client. due process demands that he be given the opportunity to defend himself and to present testimonial and documentary evidence on the matter in an investigation to be conducted in accordance with Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court. The court held that since the assignment of the right of redemption to Maquera was in payment for his legal services. his subsequent exercise of said right.00 as of December 21. or at the latter's behest. Atty. 32 The Superior Court of Guam also hinted that Maquera's acquisition of Castro's right of redemption. Whether the deed of sale in question was executed at the instance of the spouses driven by financial necessity. cDTaSH The Bar Confidant is directed to locate the current and correct address of Atty.220. specifically.

.. Carpio. Quisumbing.. SandovalGutierrez. SO ORDERED.J . C . Puno. Jr.Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to Atty. . Callejo. Azcuna and ChicoNazario. Panganiban. JJ . Austria-Martinez. Sr. Maquera's personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in the land. Ynares-Santiago. Carpio Morales. concur. Davide..