You are on page 1of 15

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility

AURORA CAMARA VDA. DE ZUBIRI v. WENCESLAO


ZUBIRI alias BEN, ET AL.
December 17, 1966, G.R. No. L-16745, EN BANC (Regala, J.)
FACTS:
Aurora Camara Vda. de Zubiri filed with the CFI of Lanao del Norte
a complaint for the recovery of her alleged share in 2 commercial
lots in Iligan City against Wenceslao Ben Zubiri and the Standard
Vacuum Oil Co., the occupant of portions of the said properties. She
alleged that the said lots were conjugal because they have been
purchased by her and her late husband during their marriage.
Moreover, she claimed that Ben was in the possession of the said
properties and has no right, interest, nor participation therein
unless proven that he is a duly recognized natural child of her
husband.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

already been determined and adjudicated to him in previous


decisions.
A week before the scheduled hearing for the petition, Bens counsel
filed a motion to postpone the hearing on the ground that he could
not release himself from his current employment as to be free to
attend the said hearing. However, the court denied the motion and
proceeded with the scheduled hearing despite the absence of the
defendant's counsel and, after hearing the plaintiff's argument,
likewise denied the petition to set aside judgment. The subsequent
motion for reconsideration thereof having been denied too, the
defendant-appellant interposed the present appeal.
ISSUE: Whether or not the denial of the motion to set aside
judgment was reasonable and proper.

Four pleadings were filed in this case, namely: 1) the herein


appellant's answer; 2) a Stipulation of Facts; 3) a motion to render
judgment on the pleadings; and 4) the defendant Standard Vacuum
Oil Company's answer to the above complaint.

HELD: No.

The trial court rendered judgment in accordance with the


Stipulation of Facts. Since in both the answer and the stipulation of
facts Ben admitted practically all the allegations of the complaint,
thus in favor of Aurora.

In the first place, the motion for postponement under consideration


was the very first filed by the counsel for the appellant. It was filed
with the court a full week prior to the scheduled hearing, with due
and proper notice to the opposing party. Its ground was not
unreasonable and hardly flimsy since it is not denied that then, the
counsel for the appellant was under some contractual commitments
from which he needed time to be release. Under these
circumstances, it does seem that the denial of the motion prevented
rather than serve the ends of justice.

Ben filed a petition to set aside judgment upon two grounds, to wit:
first, the three pleadings filed namely: appellant's answer, the
stipulation of facts and the motion to render judgment on the
pleadings were all prepared by the plaintiff's counsel and that he,
the appellant, was made to sign all of them when he was ill and,
therefore, incapable of realizing the full consequences of the act;
and, second, that the plaintiff's cause of action was barred by a
prior judgment because the properties claimed by the plaintiff had

Appeal GRANTED. The decision denying the motion to set aside


judgment is likewise REVOKED.

Secondly, the appellant's petition to set aside judgment, which was


verified and duly supported by two affidavits of merit, was
grounded on very serious allegations.

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


In the defendants answer, an admission in paragraph 1 of the same
was so total and unqualified a repudiation of the defendant's own
interest that indeed, especially as it was avowed in the said pleading
that the defendant was unassisted by counsel, the trial court should
have insisted upon some assurance that the defendant was solely
and fully accountable therefor. After the defendant represented
under oath that the plaintiff's counsel was the principal author of
the same, and the one who talked him into participating in it, the
intervention of the lower court became an absolute necessity.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

proceedings are void on the ground of fraud. The vice, if any, may
well be determined at a hearing.

To be sure, the active participation of a lawyer in one party's affairs


relating to a pending case in which the said lawyer is the counsel
for the opposing party is brazenly unethical to say the least. The
Canons of Legal Ethics very explicitly declare that "it is
unprofessional to represent conflicting interests."
The
simultaneous representation by a lawyer of both parties to a suit
constitutes malpractice which should be severely condemned and
the lawyer corrected by disciplinary action.
Moreover, the affidavits of merit appended to the petition to set
aside judgment recited that the defendant-appellant was seriously
sick at the time he was made to sign and swear to the above three
repudiated pleadings. Under the circumstances, therefore, the
mental capacity of the appellant to responsibly assent to
commitments set forth in the same three pleadings became
doubtful and the trial court should have exerted its earnest efforts
to resolve the doubt considering that the subject matter of the suit
was not just an insubstantial sum.
Finally, one of the grounds invoked by the defendant-appellant in
his petition to set aside judgment was the alleged finality of a
judicial decision in special proceedings declaring Ben as the sole
heir of his deceased father. Aurora assails that the special

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


COSMOS FOUNDRY SHOP WORKERS UNION and FILEMON G.
ALVAREZ v.
LO BU and COURT OF APPEALS
March 25, 1975, G.R. No. L-40136, SECOND DIVISION
(Fernando, J.)

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

ISSUE: Whether or not the appeal made by respondent Lo Bu is a


mere dilatory tactic.
HELD: Yes.
Petitions GRANTED.

FACTS:
Cosmos Foundry Shop Workers Union was able to obtain from the
Court of Industrial Relations the third alias writ of execution for the
satisfaction and enforcement of the judgment in its
favor. Thereafter, Deputy Sheriff Abiog of Manila, who was
especially deputized to serve the writ, levied on the personal
properties of the Cosmos Foundry Shop or the New Century
Foundry Shop to conduct the public auction sale. Respondent Lo Bu
filed an urgent motion to recall writ of execution, asserting lack of
jurisdiction, a point stressed in another motion on the further
ground that labor union petitioner failed to put up an indemnity
bond. These motions were denied. The subsequent motion for
reconsideration was likewise denied.
An appeal by certiorari was filed by the respondent with the
Supreme Court. It was denied. Also, a replevin suit was filed by the
Lo Bu with the CIR of Manila pertaining to the same properties. The
labor union petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for
replevin alleging that the property sold to Lo Bu was fictitious,
meaning he is not the true owner thereof. The complaint was
dismissed accordingly. The adverse decision was elevated to the
Court of Appeals by Lo Bu. A petition was filed by the labor union
petitioner contending that the appeal was a delaying tactic to
frustrate the awarding of judgment to the union.
Petitioner labor union has made out a case for certiorari and
prohibition.

From the evidence and the records, the Court finds that after the
Cosmos Foundry Shop was burned, Ong Ting established the New
Century Foundry Shop. He and his family resided in the premises of
the shop. Offers of compromise were made by the counsel of the
owner, even hinting that measures would be taken if these offers
were not accepted. These offers were rejected and thereafter a deed
of absolute sale was executed over the business and its properties
to Lo Bu. Despite the sale to Lo Bu, Ong Ting still filed a motion to
re-open the case and a motion for reconsideration. In the MR, it was
alleged that Ong Ting lost everything after the fire even if an
absolute sale had just transpired between him and Lo Bu. The
absence of good faith on the part of respondent Lo Bu as the
alleged vendee was made clear, i.e. that there was no actual
turnover of the business to Lo Bu. Because at the time Ong Ting
died, he and his family were still residing at the business premises
without payment of rental to Lo Bu. In fact, the members of Ong
family were the ones in charge of the shop. We arrive at a
conclusion that the sale was made in bad faith. It is merely fictitious
and in circumvention of the laws.
The sad plight of petitioner labor union had been previously noted.
It is about time that a halt be called to the schemes utilized by
respondent Lo Bu in his far-from-commendable efforts to defeat
labor's just claim. It would be repugnant to the principle of social
justice and the mandate of protection to labor if there be further
delay in the satisfaction of a judgment that ought to have been
enforced years ago.

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


One last point. Such conduct on the part of counsel is far from
commendable. He could, of course, be casuistic and take refuge in
the fact that the paragraph of the petition, which he denied, was, in
addition to being rather poorly and awkwardly worded, also prolix,
with unnecessary matter being included therein without due regard
to logic or coherence or even rules of grammar. He could add that
his denial was to be correlated with his special defenses, where he
concentrated on points not previously admitted. That is the most
that can be said of his performance, and it is not enough. For even
if such be the case, Attorney Busmente had not exculpated himself.
He was of course expected to defend his client's cause with zeal,
but not at the disregard of the truth and in defiance of the clear
purpose of labor statutes. He ought to remember that his obligation
as an officer of the court, no less than the dignity of the profession,
requires that he should not act like an errand-boy at the beck and
call of his client, ready and eager to do his every bidding. If he fails
to keep that admonition in mind, then he puts into serious question
his good standing in the bar.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

further delay the execution of the subject judgment which became


final and executory almost two years ago after a protracted
litigation that started way back in 1961, since thirteen yesteryears
from now. Law and justice demand that petitioners should not be
further denied the fruit of their legal efforts, to secure redress,
particularly because in the order of the Industrial Court denying
respondent's motion to recall the writ of execution against Cosmos
Foundry Shop, the court found said Shop and respondent to have
indulged in a simulated transaction covering the properties in
question purposely to avoid satisfaction of the judgment in favor of
petitioners.

CONCURRING OPINION (Barredo, J.)


No doubt, as things stand now, the remedy pursued by petitioners
is not the appropriate one. The ground of dismissal upheld by the
trial court was in essence res judicata. Ordinarily, against such
dismissal, the remedy is appeal and, of course, such an appeal
cannot be stopped by prohibition. And if only because the Court of
Appeals has not been given any opportunity at all to pass on its
own alleged lack of jurisdiction, the present action would seem to
be premature.
From another point of view, however, it is quite obvious that to
allow the respondent Court of Appeals to entertain respondent's
appeal would be sanctioning, as the main opinion finds, the
apparently endless ingenious schemes, if judicial, of respondent to

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


TERESITA B. TABILIRAN v. ATTY. JOSE C. TABILIRAN, JR.
July 30, 1982, A.M. No. 906, SECOND DIVISION (Abad Santos, J.)
FACTS:
Teresita Tabiliran alleged in her complaint that her husband, Atty.
Jose C. Tabiliran, "abandoned the family home and went with
another woman by whom he have been living and whom a child was
born." Required to answer, the respondent denied the allegations
and that it was complainant who abandoned the family home
without justifiable reasons.
The case was referred to the Solicitor General. It was set for hearing,
but on the set date there was no appearance by both parties
although the Solicitor General sent an Assistant Solicitor General. It
was then resolved to consider the case submitted for decision.
ISSUE: Whether or not respondent Atty. Tabiliran should be
disbarred.
HELD: No.
Complaint DISMISSED. However, Atty. Tabiliran is subject to
reprimand by the court.
According to the findings, the complainant failed to substantiate
her claim. In fact her evidence belies her charge because a specific
paragraph admits that she has left the conjugal home against the
will and without the consent of her husband. The other evidence
(letter and affidavit by the alleged paramour and certificate of
baptism of the alleged illegitimate child) offered by Teresita were
also incompetent because said exhibits cannot validly constitute
competent evidence against respondent on the ground that they
were never properly identified as nobody ever testified thereon. The
said exhibits are considered hearsay and cannot be made

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

admissible in court. The rule is well settled that in disbarment


proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and
for the court to exercise its disciplinary power, the case against the
respondent must be established by convincing proof.
The Solicitor General recommends "the exoneration of respondent
from the charges of having abandoned his family home and lived
with another woman with whom he allegedly begot a child, as
reflected in his wife's letter-complaint (Exh. "A")." The
recommendation is well-taken; accordingly, the respondent is
hereby exonerated of the charges of abandonment of family and of
immorality.
However, in the course of the investigation conducted, it turned out
that the complainant and the respondent executed a "Deed of
Settlement of Spouses To Live Separately From Bed" which contains,
among others, the following stipulation:
A. To live separately from each other in home and in
bed allowing each of the other spouse to live with
another man or woman as the case may be without
the objection and intervention of the other.
It is obvious that except for the first part, the stipulation is contrary
to law, morals and public policy and the respondent who is a lawyer
should have perceived the contrariety.
In view of the foregoing, the Solicitor General recommends that the
respondent be reprimanded only which we hereby do.

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


ENCARNACION BANOGON, ZOSIMA MUNOZ, and DAVIDINA
MUNOZ v.
MELCHOR ZERNA, CONSEJO ZERNA DE CORNELIO, FRANCISCO
ZERNA, and the HON. CIPRIANO VAMENTA, JR., Judge of the
Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental (Branch III)
October 9, 1987, G.R. No. L-35469, FIRST DIVISION (Cruz, J.)
FACTS:
Important to consider are the stretched time lapses in the filing of
motions in this case:
- February 9, 1926 (61 years ago), the original decision was
rendered by the cadastral court.
- March 6, 1957 (31 years later), a motion to amend the same
was filed.
- March 18, 1957, a petition for review was filed.
- March 26, 1957, an opposition thereto was filed.
- October 11, 1971 (14 years later), a motion to dismiss the
petition was filed.
- December 8, 1971, the motion to dismiss was granted.
- February 14, 1972, the motion for reconsideration was
denied.
Hence, this petition for certiorari to question the abovementioned
orders.
The petitioners contend that the said judgment had not yet become
final and executory because the land in dispute had not yet been
registered in favor of the private respondents. The said judgment
would become so only after one year from the issuance of the
decree of registration. If any one was guilty of laches, it was the
private respondents who had failed to enforce the judgment by
having the land registered pursuant thereto.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

For their part, the private respondents argue that the decision of
February 9, 1926, became final and executory after 30 days, same
not having been appealed by the petitioners during that period.
They slept on their rights for 31 years before it occurred to them to
question the judgment of the cadastral court. In fact, their alleged
predecessor-in-interest, Filomeno Banogon, lived for 19 more
years after the 1926 decision and did not see fit to challenge it until
his death in 1945. The herein petitioners themselves waited
another twelve years, or until 1957, to file their petition for review.
ISSUE: Whether or not the judgment became final and executory.
HELD: Yes.
Petition DENIED. Decision IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY.
The respondent court dismissed the petition for review of the
decision rendered in 1926 on the ground that it had been filed out
of time, indeed thirty one years too late. Laches, it was held, had
operated against the petitioners.
While arguing that they were not guilty of laches because the 1926
decision had not yet become final and executory because the land
subject thereof had not yet been registered, the petitioners
rationalize: "If an aggrieved party is allowed the remedy of reopening the case within one year after the issuance of the decree,
why should the same party be denied this remedy before the decree
is issued?
Why not indeed? Why then did they not file their petition earlier?
Why do they now pretend that they have all the time in the world
because the land has not yet been registered and the one-year
reglementary period has not yet expired?

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


A reading thereof will show that it is against their contentions and
that under this doctrine they should not have delayed in asserting
their claim of fraud. Their position is clearly contrary to law and
logic and to even ordinary common sense.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

merely clutter the already congested judicial dockets. They do not


advance the cause of law or their clients by commencing litigations
that for sheer lack of merit do not deserve the attention of the
courts.

This Court has repeatedly reminded litigants and lawyers alike:


"Litigation must end and terminate sometime and
somewhere, and it is assent essential to an effective
and efficient administration of justice that, once a
judgment has become final, the winning party be not,
through a mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of
the verdict. Courts must therefore guard against any
scheme calculated to bring about that result.
Constituted as they are to put an end to
controversies, courts should frown upon any attempt
to prolong them."
Regarding the argument that the private respondents took fourteen
years to move for the dismissal of the petition for review, it suffices
to point out that an opposition thereto had been made as early as
March 26, 1957, or nine days after the filing of the petition.
Moreover, it was for the petitioners to move for the hearing of the
petition instead of waiting for the private respondents to ask for its
dismissal. After all, they were the parties asking for relief, and it
was the private respondents who were in possession of the land in
dispute.
As officers of the court, lawyers have a responsibility to assist in
the proper administration of justice. They do not discharge this
duty by filing pointless petitions that only add to the workload of
the judiciary, especially this Court, which is burdened enough as it
is. A judicious study of the facts and the law should advise them
when a case, such as this, should not be permitted to be filed to

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


CORAZON PERIQUET v.
NLRC and THE PHIL. NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION
(Formerly Construction Development Corp. of the Phils.)
June 22, 1990, G.R. No. 91298, FIRST DIVISION (Cruz, J.)
FACTS:
Corazon Periquet was a toll collector dismissed from work by the
Construction Development Corporation of the Philippines for willful
breach of trust and unauthorized possession of accountable toll
tickets allegedly found in her purse during an unannounced
inspection. She files a complaint for illegal dismissal claiming a
frame-up. The labor arbiter ruled in her favor. An order for
reinstatement was issued. The order was affirmed in toto during an
appeal by the NLRC.
The original decision called for her reinstatement, but there is no
evidence that she demanded her reinstatement or that she
complained when her demand was rejected. What appears is that
she entered into a compromise agreement with CDCP where she
waived her right to reinstatement and received from the CDCP
money representing her back wages.
Dismissing the compromise agreement, the petitioner now claims
she was actually reinstated only on a later date, and so should be
granted back pay. After accepting backwages from the private
respondent and waiving her right to reinstatement, the petitioner
secured employment as kitchen dispatcher at the Tito Rey
Restaurant. According to the certification issued by that
business, she received a monthly compensation higher than her
salary in the CDCP.
For reasons not disclosed by the record, she applied for reemployment with the CDCP and was given the position of xerox

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

machine operator with a basic salary lower than her previous job as
a kitchen dispatcher at Tito Rey Restaurant.
Later on, she wrote the new management of the CDCP and asked
that the rights granted her by the decision be recognized because
the waiver she had signed was invalid. The Corporate Legal Counsel
of the private respondent recommended instead a money
settlement to the petitioner. This was accepted by Corazon and she
signed another quitclaim and release.
The petitioner was apparently satisfied with the settlement because
she sent a memorandum expressing gratitude and appreciation
towards the private respondent. The private respondent also
responded favorably to her inquiry about longevity pay, thus
adjusting her monthly salary to a higher rate.
It is perplexing that she subsequently filed a motion for execution
after some time. The same was granted. However, on a later date,
the order was reversed by the NRLC as well as the writ of execution.
It held that the motion for execution was filed beyond the
prescriptive period of 5 years. It also held as valid the 2 quitclaims
signed by Corazon waiving her right to reinstatement and
acknowledging settlement of her backwages and other benefits.
Corazon contends that said decision was tainted with grave abuse
of discretion.
Hence, this petition.
ISSUE: Whether or not the motion for execution should be
granted.
HELD: No.
Petition DENIED.

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


Periquet insists it was the private respondent that delayed and
prevented the execution of the judgment in her favor, but that is
not the way we see it. The record shows it was she who dilly-dallied.
It is difficult to understand the attitude of the petitioner, who has
blown hot and cold, as if she does not know her own mind. First she
signed a waiver and then she rejected it; then she signed another
waiver which she also rejected, again on the ground that she had
been deceived. In her first waiver, she acknowledged full settlement
of the judgment in her favor, and then in the second waiver, after
accepting additional payment, she again acknowledged full
settlement of the same judgment. But now she is singing a different
tune.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

credible and reasonable, the transaction must be recognized as a


valid and binding undertaking. As in this case.
As officers of the court, counsel are under obligation to advise their
clients against making untenable and inconsistent claims like the
ones raised in this petition that have only needlessly taken up the
valuable time of this Court, the Solicitor General, the Government
Corporate Counsel, and the respondents. Lawyers are not merely
hired employees who must unquestioningly do the bidding of the
client, however unreasonable this may be when tested by their own
expert appreciation of the pertinent facts and the applicable law
and jurisprudence. Counsel must counsel.

In her petition she is now disowning both acknowledgments and


claiming that the earlier payments both of which she had accepted
as sufficient, are insufficient. They were valid before but they are
not valid now. She also claimed she was harassed and cheated by
the past management of the CDCP and sought the help of the new
management of the PNCC under its "dynamic leadership." But now
she is denouncing the new management-for also tricking her into
signing the second quitclaim.
Not all waivers and quitclaims are invalid as against public policy. If
the agreement was voluntarily entered into and represents a
reasonable settlement, it is binding on the parties and may not later
be disowned simply because of a change of mind. It is only where
there is clear proof that the waiver was wangled from an
unsuspecting or gullible person, or the terms of settlement are
unconscionable on its face, that the law will step in to annul the
questionable transaction. But where it is shown that the person
making the waiver did so voluntarily, with full understanding of
what he was doing, and the consideration for the quitclaim is

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


VICTORIA LEGARDA v.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, NEW CATHAY HOUSE,
INC., THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON
CITY, BRANCH 94
FACTS:
Petitioner Victoria Legarda owned a parcel of land and its
improvements located at West Avenue, Quezon City. Respondent
New Cathay House, Inc. filed a complaint against the Legarda for
specific performance with preliminary injunction and damages in
the RTC of Quezon City. The complaint alleged that Legarda entered
into a lease agreement with the New Cathay over the said property
for a period of 5 years. It also alleged that New Cathay made a
downpayment of rentals but Legarda refused to execute and sign
the written contract prepared by the respondent despite demands.
Respondent suffered damages due to the delay in the renovation
and opening of its restaurant business. A writ of preliminary
injunction was prayed for to prevent Legarda and her agents from
stopping the renovation and other activities of New Cathay on the
said property.
Petitioners counsel filed his appearance with an urgent motion for
extension of time to file the answer. However, an answer was not
filed within the extended period. Respondents counsel filed a
motion to declare petitioner in default that was granted by the trial
court.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

Petitioners counsel filed a petition for annulment of judgment in


the Court of Appeals. They contended that they have entered into a
compromise agreement with respondent, stipulating that there was
no need to file an answer anymore. Because of this, they allege that
misrepresentation and fraud were employed by the respondent and
its counsel which deprived petitioner to prepare for her defense.
This petition was subsequently amended raising a new issue that
the assailed decision finds no support from the allegations in the
pleadings or evidence on record. The Court of Appeals denied the
petition. No motion for reconsideration or appeal was filed making
the decision final.
When petitioner belatedly learned about the adverse decision, she
hired a new lawyer to file this present petition for certiorari praying
that the previous court decisions and the sale at the public auction
be annulled for the reason that the fault is due to the petitioners
former counsel. Such being the case, the petitioner should not be
bound by her former counsels hapless mistakes brought about by
gross negligence and inefficiency; otherwise, she will be denied due
process.
ISSUE: Whether or not Victoria Legarda should be bound by her
former counsels gross negligence and inefficiency.
HELD: No.
Petition GRANTED.

The subject property was sold at a public auction to Roberto


Cabrera, Jr., representative of respondent. The same was not
redeemed within the 1-year redemption period, hence ownership
was consolidated in the name of Cabrera, Jr. The final deed of sale
was also registered with the Register of Deeds.

Nothing is more settled than the rule that the mistake of a counsel
binds the client. It is only in case of gross or palpable negligence of
counsel when the courts must step in and accord relief to a client
who suffered thereby.

10

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


Petitioner's counsel is a well-known practicing lawyer and dean of a
law school. It is to be expected that he would extend the highest
quality of service as a lawyer to the petitioner. Unfortunately,
counsel appears to have abandoned the cause of petitioner. After
agreeing to defend the petitioner in the civil case filed against her
by private respondent, said counsel did nothing more than enter his
appearance and seek for an extension of time to file the answer.
Nevertheless, he failed to file the answer. Hence, petitioner was
declared in default on motion of private respondent's counsel. After
the evidence of private respondent was received ex-parte, a
judgment was rendered by the trial court.
Said counsel for petitioner received a copy of the judgment but took
no steps to have the same set aside or to appeal therefrom. Thus,
the judgment became final and executory. During all the time, the
petitioner was abroad. When, upon her return, she learned, to her
great shock, what happened to her case and property, she
nevertheless did not lose faith in her counsel. She still asked Atty.
Coronel to take such appropriate action possible under the
circumstances.
As above related, said counsel filed a petition for annulment of
judgment and its amendment in the Court of Appeals. But that was
all he did. After an adverse judgment was rendered against
petitioner, of which counsel was duly notified, said counsel did not
inform the petitioner about it. He did not even ask for a
reconsideration thereof, or file a petition for review before this
Court. Thus, the judgment became final. It was only upon repeated
telephone inquiries of petitioner that she learned from the secretary
of her counsel of the judgment that had unfortunately become final.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

can be taken or withheld from his client except in accordance with


the law. He should present every remedy or defense authorized by
the law in support of his client's cause, regardless of his own
personal views. In the full discharge of his duties to his client, the
lawyer should not be afraid of the possibility that he may displease
the judge or the general public.
While this Court is cognizant of the rule that, generally, a client will
suffer the consequences of the negligence, mistake or lack of
competence of his counsel, in the interest of justice and equity,
exceptions may be made to such rule, in accordance with the facts
and circumstances of each case. Adherence to the general rule
would, in the instant case, result in the outright deprivation of their
property through a technicality.
As member of the Philippine Bar he owes complete fidelity to the
cause of his client. He should give adequate attention, care and time
to his cases. This is the reason why a practicing lawyer should
accept only so many cases he can afford to handle. And once he
agrees to handle a case, he should undertake the task with
dedication and care. If he should do any less, then he is not true to
his oath as a lawyer.

A lawyer owes entire devotion to the interest of his client, warmth


and zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights and the
exertion of his utmost learning and ability, to the end that nothing

11

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


ISMAELA DIMAGIBA v.
ATTY. JOSE MONTALVO, JR.
October 15, 1991, Adm. Case No. 1424, EN BANC (Per Curiam*)
*Unanimous decision or almost a majority
FACTS:
A case for Probate of Will of the deceased Benedicta de los Reyes
was instituted before the CFI of Bulacan by Ismaela Dimagiba,
regarding a property also subject of the annulment of sale.
Fortunately, the latter case was terminated which allowed the
probate of the will. The oppositors (Dionisio Fernandez, Eusebio
Reyes, Luisa Reyes, Mariano Reyes, Cesar Reyes, and Leonor Reyes)
represented by Atty. Jose Montalvo, Jr. appealed to the Higher
Court of the Philippines. It was decided by the Hon. Supreme Court
of the Philippines affirming the decision of the trial court.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

In view of these numerous cases, Dimagiba decided to report the


said actions of Atty. Montalvo, Jr. which caused harassment on her
part to the Supreme Court.
The High Court required Atty. Montalvo, Jr. to file an answer within
10 days from notice. In his answer, he claimed that the complaints
were proper and that Dimagiba only wanted to intimidate him
because she refused to be bound by the courts decision. Dimagiba,
in her rejoinder, reiterated the reasons (res judicata and similarity
of causes of action and parties, etc.) why the numerous complaints
and petitions filed by the oppositors represented by Atty. Montalvo,
Jr. were dismissed.
The case was referred to the Solicitor General following the
procedure involving disciplinary cases against lawyers.
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Montalvo, Jr. should be disbarred.

The same oppositors filed another complaint for the annulment of


the will through their counsel Atty. Centeno. The complaint was
dismissed. Still aggrieved, they again filed a complaint for the
annulment of the will that was dismissed again by the court.
Another case was again filed by the same oppositors, this time a
partition of the subject property mentioned in the probate
proceedings. This was also dismissed by the court.
Another case for specific performance by the same oppositors
through Atty. Montalvo, Jr. that was dismissed by the court. This
case was remanded to the Court of Appeals by the CFI of Bulacan.
Again, another case was filed by them through Atty. Montalvo, Jr.
which is pending before the CFI of Bulacan.

HELD: Yes.
Respondent Atty. Montalvo, Jr. is hereby declared DISBARRED.
Clearly, the respondent Montalvo, Jr. repetitively filed several
complaints in various forms involving the same parties and the
same subject matter, persistently raising issues long laid to rest by
final judgment.
This misbehavior in facie curia (in the presence of the
court) consisting of a stubborn refusal to accept this Court's
pronouncements is in fact even summarily punishable under Rule
71, Section 1 of the Rules of Court.
Any lawyer who assumes the responsibility for a client' cause has
the duty to know the entire history of a case, specially if any

12

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


litigation has commenced. In the case at bar, even Atty. Montalvo
does not deny the fact that the probate of the will of the late
Benedicta de los Reyes has been an over-extended an contentious
litigation between the heirs.
A lawyer should never take advantage of the seemingly endless
channels left dangling by our legal system in order wangle the
attention of the court. Atty. Montalvo may have thought that lie
could get away with his indiscriminate filing o suits that were
clearly intended to harass Ismaela Dimagiba. When court dockets
get clogged and the administration of justice is delayed, our judicial
system may not be entirely blameless, yet the greater fault lies in
the lawyers who had take their privilege so lightly, and in such
mindless fashion.
The Code of Professional Responsibility states that:
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest immoral or deceitful conduct.
Rule 1.03 A lawyer shall not for any corrupt
motive or interest encourage any suit or proceeding
or delay any man's cause.
On the basis of the foregoing, we find him guilty of malpractice as
charged. He has violated his oath not to delay any matter for money
or malice, besmirched the name of an honorable profession, and
has proven himself unworthy of the trust repose in him by law as
an officer of the Court. We have not countenanced other less
significant infractions among the ranks of our lawyers. He deserves
the severest punishment of DISBARMENT.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

MYRNA D. ROQUE and ROBERTO P. CRUZADO v.


ATTY. FELICIANO B. CLEMENCIO
August 14, 1992, A.M. No. 3187, FIRST DIVISION (Bellosillo, J.)
FACTS:
Myrna Roque and Roberto Cruzado filed a complaint against Atty.
Feliciano Clemencio charging him with gross misconduct and
oppression. It was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
for investigation, report and recommendation.
Atty. Clemencio was a legal officer of the Commission on Audit. He
was appointed to investigate to investigate charges filed by herein
petitioner Roque against Panelo, a COA official. It was alleged in the
complaint that Atty. Clemencio exhibited bias and partiality
amounting to abuse of discretion when he was seen hanging out
with the counsel of Panelo at a restaurant/beerhouse; that the case
almost lasted a year in his office; that he conspired with Atty.
Tablang to whom the case was re-assigned when he was relieved of
the same; and that he drafted the decision against Panelo even after
his relief being the investigator of the case.
He was also charged of threatening a subordinate Roberto Cruzado,
the other complainant, after summoning him.
In his answer, Atty. Clemencio denied the allegations.
The IBP dismissed the complaint for lack of merit.
Hence, this petition.
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Clemencio should be disbarred.
HELD: No.

13

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility


Atty. Clemencio is hereby CENSURED for his conduct and is
WARNED that repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt
with more severely.
We differ from the findings and recommendation of the IBP.
Although there may not be sufficient evidence to prove that
respondent Atty. Feliciano B. Clemencio acted with abuse of
discretion resulting in gross misconduct, We believe nevertheless
that he displayed ethical infractions.
Undisputedly, as specified in COA Office Order No. 869877, respondent was tasked to conduct the formal investigation in
Adm. Case No. 86-884 filed by complainant Roque against Panelo,
and thereafter to submit his findings and recommendation. What
facts to include or exclude in his report, his findings and how to
support them as well as his recommendation all these necessarily
entail the exercise of sound discretion and impartial judgment.
Admittedly, it was respondent himself who drafted the decision in
the case, which draft became the basis for the final adjudication
adopted by the COA. Indeed, the manner of presenting the facts and
the consequent recommendation can influence the reviewing
authority. In fact, a perusal of both the draft decision submitted by
respondent and the decision finally adopted by the COA would
reveal that, except for the difference in the penalties imposed, the
final decision had all the earmarks of the preliminary draft. Thus,
respondent should have refrained from drinking and dining with
Panelo's counsel. It is a rule of general application that an attorney
(much more an investigator, as in the case of respondent) should
avoid, if not altogether eliminate, even the slightest appearances of
impropriety.

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

Service Unit was precisely to protect his rights, as claimed by


respondent. When a lowly employee is summoned to appear before
the Chief Security Officer and there questioned by a lawyer who is
his superior, and who happens in this case to be respondent
himself, and warned of dismissal from employment, a possible
litigation and its dire consequences, that employee is, in effect,
under threat or intimidation.
Here, We take into serious account the fact that respondent is a
lawyer, a superior who threatened a subordinate complainant with
dismissal and a court suit. A man of the law should never use his
legal expertise and influence in order to frighten or coerce anyone,
specially the ordinary man who looks up to him for justice.
Thus, We remind respondent Atty. Feliciano B. Clemencio of his
duties and responsibilities as a lawyer. Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall not
engage in unlawful, immoral or deceitful conduct. A member of the
Bar must act with integrity, honesty and professional decorum. He
must comport himself in a manner which will secure and preserve
the respect and confidence of the public. Both his professional and
personal conduct must he kept beyond reproach and above
suspicion. He is required not only in fact to be of good moral
character, but must also be seen to be leading a life in accordance
with the highest moral standards of the community. His
deportment should be characterized by candor, competence and
fairness. One of his duties is to maintain the high ethical standards
of the legal profession. Accordingly, respondent must be censured
for his failure to comply with the ethical standards required of
members of the Bar as officers of the Court.

Moreover, we find it difficult to believe that the reason why


complainant Cruzado was "invited" to report to the Security Affairs

14

Legal Counseling and Social Responsibility

Case Digests

by Monica S. Cajucom

15