DANILO DE LA TORRE March 30, 2006
Perez as brgy. Captain of Binanuaanan, Calabanga, Camarines sur, that in Dec
2001, severalsuspects for murder and kidnapping for ransom, among them Sonny Boy Ilo and
Diego Avilawere apprehended and jailed by the police authorities; that respondent went to the
unicipal bldg.of Calabanga where the accused were being detained and made representations that he
couldsecure their freedom if they sign the prepared extrajudicial confessions; that unknown to
the two accused, respondent was representing the heirs of the murder victim;
The extrajudicialconfessions included herein the complainant as the mastermind in the criminal activities
for which they were being charged.
Respondent claimed that when Ilo sought his assistance in executing his extrajudicial
confession,he conferred with Ilo in the presence of his parents and only after he was convinced that Ilo wasnot
under compulsion did he assist the accused in executing the extrajudicial confession.
WON the respondent violated Rule 15.03 of CPR
Atty. De la Torre was guilty of violation of Rule 15.03 of CPR. He is suspended for three years from
the practice of law. The respondent admitted that his services as a lawyer wereretained by both Avila and Ilo.
Perez was able to show that at the time that atty. De la Torre wasrepresenting the said two accused, he was also
representing the interest of the victim¶s family.Under Rule 15.03 of the CPR, a lawyer shall
not represent conflicting interests except by writtenconsent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts. Respondent is therefore duty bound to refrain from representing two
parties having conflicting interests in a controversy. The prohibition against representing
conflicting interest is founded on principles of public policy andgood taste. In course of a lawyer-client
relationship, the lawyer learns all the facts connectedwith the client¶s case, including the weak and
strong points of the case. It behooves lawyers notonly to keep inviolate the client¶s confidence,
but also to avoid the appearance of improprietyand double-dealing for only then can litigants
be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers which is of paramount importance in the
administration of justice. His representation of opposing clients in the murder case invites suspicion of
double-dealing and infidelity to hisclients. What is unsetting is that respondent assisted in the
execution by the two accused of their confessions whereby they admitted their participation
in various serious criminal offensesknowing fully well that he was retained previously by the heirs of one of
the victims.Respondent, who presumably knows the intricacies of the law, should have exercised his
better judgment before conceding to accused¶s choice of counsel.

Atty. Sagucio was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat industries,Inc.
until his appointment as Asst. Provincial Prosecutor of Tuguegarao, Cagayan in 1992.Employees
of Taggat filed a criminal complaint, they alleged that complainant, who took over the
management and control of Taggat after the death of her father, withheld payment of
their salaries and wages without valid cause. Complainant now charges respondent with the
violationsRule 15.03 of CPR and engaging in the private practice of law while working as a
gov¶t prosecutor.

WON respondent violated Rule 15.03 of CPR. WON being a former lawyer of Taggatconflicts
with his role as Asst. Provincial Prosecutor
The Supreme Court finds no conflict of interests when respondent handled
preliminaryinvestigation of criminal complaint filed by Taggat employees in 1997. The issue in
the criminalcomplaint pertains to non-payment of wages that occurred from April 1 1996
to July 15, 1997.Clearly, respondent was no longer connected with Taggat during that period
since he resignedsometime in 1992. In order to change respondent for representing conflicting
interests, evidencemust be presented to prove that respondent used against Taggat, his former
client, any
confidential information acquired thru his previous employment. It does not necessarily
followthat respondent used any confidential information from his previous
employment withcomplainant or Taggat in resolving the criminal complaint.As the former
Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat and the case he resolved asgov¶t prosecutor was
labor-related is not a sufficient basis to charge respondent for representingconflicting interests. A
lawyer¶s immutable duty to a former client does not cover transactionsthat occurred beyond the
lawyer¶s employment with the client. The intent of the law is to imposeupon the lawyer the
duty to protect the client¶s interests only on matters that he previouslyhandled for the former
client and not for matters that arose after the lawyer-client relationshiphas terminated.
Thus, respondent is NOT guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of the Code.
As to the second issue, respondent clearly violated the prohibition in Ra 6718 which constitutes
aviolation of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which mandates that a lawyer shall not engage in
unlawful,dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.´. The respondent here performed acts that
are usuallyrendered by lawyers with the use of their legal knowledge, the same falls within the ambit of
theterm ³practice of law´. Respondent¶s admission that he received from Taggat fees for legalservices while
serving as a gov¶t prosecutor is unlawful conduct, which constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01.
Sheriff Gatcheco and his wife went to the house of Gonzales, they harassed Gonzales and
askedher to execute an affidavit of desistance regarding her complaint, Gonzales thereafter filedagainst the
Gatchecos criminal cases for trespass, grave threats, grave oral defamation, simolecoercion and
unjust vexation; where respondent¶s law firm was still representing Gonzales,herein respondent
represented the Gatchecos in the cases filed by Gonzales against the said sps.,respondent should be disbarred
from the practice of law since respondent¶s acceptance of thecases of the Gatchecos violates the lawyer ±client
relationship between complainant andrespondent¶s law firm and renders respondent liable under
CPR particularly Rules 10.01, 13.01,15.02, 15.03, 21.02 and 21.02. Respondent alleged that he
never appeared and represented of such case since it was his brother, Atty. Edmar Cabucana who
appeared and representedGonzales in said case. He admitted that he is representing Sheriff Gatcheco and his
wife in thecases filed against them bur claimed that his appearance is pro bono and that the sps pleadedwith
him as no other counsel was willing to take their case.

WON respondent violated Rule 15.03 of CPR
Respondent is guilty violating Rule 15.03 of Canon 15 of the CPR. It is well-settled thatlawyer is
barred from representing conflicting interests except by written consent of allconcerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts. Such prohibition is founded on principles of public policy and good taste
as the nature of the lawyer-client relations is one of trust andconfidence of the highest degree.
Lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the client¶sconfidence but also to avoid the
appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only then canlitigants be encouraged to entrust
their secrets to their lawyers, which is of paramountimportance in the administration of justice.
The proscription against representation of conflicting

RESPONDENT. April 11, 2012
Josefina M. Aniñon (complainant) had previously engaged the legal services of
Atty. Sabitsana in the preparation and execution in her favor of a Deed of Sale
over a parcel of land owned by her late common-law husband, Brigido Caneja,
Jr. Atty. Sabitsana allegedly violated her confidence when he subsequently filed
a civil case against her for the annulment of the Deed of Sale in behalf of
Zenaida L. Cañete, the legal wife of Brigido Caneja, Jr. The complainant accused
Atty. Sabitsana of using the confidential information he obtained from her in
filing the civil case.
Atty. Sabitsana admitted having advised the complainant in the preparation and
execution of the Deed of Sale. However, he denied having received any
confidential information. Atty. Sabitsana asserted that the present disbarment
complaint was instigated by one Atty. Gabino Velasquez, Jr., the notary of the
disbarment complaint who lost a court case against him (Atty. Sabitsana) and
had instigated the complaint for this reason.
In a resolution dated February 27, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors resolved to
adopt and approve the Report and Recommendation of the IBP Commissioner
after finding it to be fully supported by the evidence on record and Respondent
was suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year.

Atty. Sabitsana moved to reconsider the above resolution, but the IBP Board of
Governors denied his motion.
The Issue
Whether Atty. Sabitsana is guilty of misconduct for representing conflicting
The Court’s Ruling
The SC agreed with the findings and recommendations of the IBP Commissioner
and the IBP Board of Governors. The SC rules that the relationship between a
lawyer and his/her client should ideally be imbued with the highest level of trust
and confidence. This is the standard of confidentiality that must prevail to
promote a full disclosure of the client’s most confidential information to his/her
lawyer for an unhampered exchange of information between them. Needless to
state, a client can only entrust confidential information to his/her lawyer based
on an expectation from the lawyer of utmost secrecy and discretion; the lawyer,
for his part, is duty-bound to observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all dealings
and transactions with the client. Part of the lawyer’s duty in this regard is to
avoid representing conflicting interests, a matter covered by Rule 15.03, Canon
15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Jurisprudence has provided three tests in determining whether a violation of the
above rule is present in a given case.
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.
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 doubledealing 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
On the basis of the attendant facts of the case, substantial evidence proved to
support Atty. Sabitsana’s violation of the above rule: first, he filed a case
against the complainant in behalf of Zenaida Cañete; second, he impleaded the
complainant as the defendant in the case; and third, the case he filed was for
the annulment of the Deed of Sale that he had previously prepared and

executed for the complainant.
By his acts, not only did Atty. Sabitsana agree to represent one client against
another client in the same action; he also accepted a new engagement that
entailed him to contend and oppose the interest of his other client in a property
in which his legal services had been previously retained.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves to ADOPT the findings
and recommendations of the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines. Atty. Clemencio C. Sabitsana, Jr. is found GUILTY of
misconduct for representing conflicting interests in violation of Rule 15.03,
Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED
for one (1) year from the practice of law.

Orola v Atty ador Ramos Sep 11, 2013


In the settlement of the Trinidad’s estate respondent filed an Entry of Appearance as
collaborating counsel for Emilio in the same case and moved for the reconsideration of the RTC
Order.6Due to the respondent’s new engagement, complainants filed the instant disbarment
complaint before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines(IBP), claiming that he violated: (a) Rule 15.03
of the Code, as he undertook to represent conflicting interests in the subject case;7 and (b) Section
20(e), Rule 138 of the Rules, as he breached the trust and confidence reposed upon him by his
clients, the Heirs of Antonio.8 Complainants further claimed that while Maricar, the surviving spouse
of Antonio and the mother of Karen, consented to the withdrawal of respondent’s appearance, the
same was obtained only on October 18, 2007, or after he had already entered his appearance for
Emilio on October 10, 2007.9 In this accord, respondent failed to disclose such fact to all the affected
heirs and, as such, was not able to obtain their written consent as required under the Rules.10
For his part, respondent refuted the abovementioned charges, contending that he never appeared
as counsel for the Heirs of Trinidad or for the Heirs of Antonio. He pointed out that the records of the
case readily show that the Heirs of Trinidad were represented by Atty. Villa, while the Heirs of
Antonio were exclusively represented by Atty. Azarraga.11 He averred that he only accommodated
Maricar's request to temporarily appear on her behalf as their counsel of record could not attend the
scheduled June16 and July 14, 2006 hearings and that his appearances thereat were free of

charge.12 In fact, he obtained Maricar’s permission for him to withdraw from the case as no further
communications transpired after these two hearings. Likewise, he consulted Maricar before he
undertook to represent Emilio in the same case.13 He added that he had no knowledge of the fact
that the late Antonio had other heirs and, in this vein, asserted that no information was disclosed to
him by Maricar or their counsel of record at any instance.14 Finally, he clarified that his representation
for Emilio in the subject case was more of a mediator, rather than a litigator,15 and that since no
settlement was forged between the parties, he formally withdrew his appearance on December 6,
2007.16 In support of his assertions, respondent submitted the affidavits of Maricar17 and Atty.
Azarraga18 relative to his limited appearance and his consultation with Maricar prior to his
engagement as counsel for Emilio.
The Recommendation and Action of the IBP
In the Report and Recommendation19 dated September 15, 2008submitted by IBP Investigating
Commissioner Jose I. De La Rama, Jr.(Investigating Commissioner), respondent was found guilty of
representing conflicting interests only with respect to Karen as the records of the cases how that he
never acted as counsel for the other complainants. The Investigating Commissioner observed that
while respondent's withdrawal of appearance was with the express conformity of Maricar,
respondent nonetheless failed to obtain the consent of Karen, who was already of age and one of
the Heirs of Antonio, as mandated under Rule 15.03 of the Code.

ISSUE: The sole issue in this case is whether or not respondent is guilty of representing conflicting
interests in violation of Rule 15.03 of the Code.

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing
parties. The test is" whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer's duty to fight for an issue or
claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this
argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client." This rule covers not only
cases in which confidential communications have been confided, but also those in which no
confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of
the new retainer will require the attorney to perform an act 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
to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their connection. Another test of the
inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from
the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of
unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof.29 (Emphasis supplied; citations omitted)
It must, however, be noted that a lawyer’s immutable duty to a former client does not cover
transactions that occurred beyond the lawyer’s employment with the client. The intent of the law is to
impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the client’s interests only on matters that he previously

handled for the former client and not for matters that arose after the lawyer-client relationship has
Applying the above-stated principles, the Court agrees with the IBP’s finding that respondent
represented conflicting interests and, perforce, must be held administratively liable therefor.
Records reveal that respondent was the collaborating counsel not only for Maricar as claimed by
him, but for all the Heirs of Antonio in Special Proceeding No. V-3639. In the course thereof, the
Heirs of Trinidad and the Heirs of Antonio succeeded in removing Emilio as administrator for having
committed acts prejudicial to their interests. Hence, when respondent proceeded to represent Emilio
for the purpose of seeking his reinstatement as administrator in the same case, he clearly worked
against the very interest of the Heirs of Antonio – particularly, Karen – in violation of the abovestated rule.
Respondent's justification that no confidential information was relayed to him cannot fully exculpate
him for the charges against him since the rule on conflict of interests, as enunciated in
Hornilla, provides an absolute prohibition from representation with respect to opposing parties in the
same case. In other words, a lawyer cannot change his representation from one party to the latter’s
opponent in the same case. That respondent’s previous appearances for and in behalf of the Heirs
of Antonio was only a friendly accommodation cannot equally be given any credence since the
aforesaid rule holds even if the inconsistency is remote or merely probable or even if the lawyer has
acted in good faith and with no intention to represent conflicting interests.31

Neither can respondent's asseveration that his engagement by Emilio was more of a mediator than a
litigator and for the purpose of forging a settlement among the family members render the rule
inoperative. In fact, even on that assertion, his conduct is likewise improper since Rule
15.04,32 Canon 15 of the Code similarly requires the lawyer to obtain the written consent of all
concerned before he may act as mediator, conciliator or arbitrator in settling disputes. Irrefragably,
respondent failed in this respect as the records show that respondent was remiss in his duty to make
a full disclosure of his impending engagement as Emilio’s counsel to all the Heirs of Antonio –
particularly, Karen – and equally secure their express written consent before consummating the
same. Besides, it must be pointed out that a lawyer who acts as such in settling a dispute cannot
represent any of the parties to it.33 Accordingly, for respondent’s violation of the aforestated rules,
disciplinary sanction is warranted.

Hornilla v Salunat

Baens v Atty Sempio A.C. No. 10378

June 9, 2014

This legal battle stemmed when the complainant engaged the services of the respondent to
represent him and file a case for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage against his wife, Lourdes V.
Mendiola-Baens. In his complaint-affidavit dated March 15, 2010, the complainant alleged, among
others, that the respondent: (1) despite receiving the sum of 250,000.00 to cover for the expenses in
the said case,6 failed to file the corresponding petition, and it was the complainant’s wife who
successfully instituted Civil Case No. 2463-08,7 for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage on December 8,
2008; (2) even with the complainant furnishing him a copy of the Summons dated December 15,
2008,8 belatedly filed an Answer9 and was able to file it only on March 13, 2009 which was after the
15-day period stated in the Summons; (3) failed to make an objection on the petition on the ground
of improper venue as neither the complainant nor his wife were and are residents of Dasmariñas,
Cavite; (4) never bothered to check the status of the case and thus failed to discover and attend all
the hearings set for the case; and (5) as a result, Civil Case No. 2463-08 was decided10 on October
27, 2009 without the complainant being able to present his evidence.
In his Answer,11 the respondent denied the allegations in the complaint, and explained that: (1) after
a meeting with the complainant, he drafted the Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage and
asked the complainant to go over said draft after which he proceeded to file the same with the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malabon City; (2) the complainant was aware that said petition will be
filed in Malabon City as the latter had signed the verification and certification of the petition; (3) the
case became pending and was later on withdrawn because of the complainant’s refusal to testify; (4)
what contributed to the delay in filing the Answer was the fact that he still had to let the complainant
go over the same and sign the verification thereof; (5) he was not able to attend the hearings for the
case because he did not receive any notice from the trial court; and (6) it was only on December 2,
2009 when he found out that the trial court has already rendered its decision and that the
complainant had changed counsels.

Specifically, the Investigating Commissioner found that the respondent failed to diligently attend to
the case and was grossly negligent in discharging his responsibilities considering the fact that he
has already been fully compensated. The Investigating Commissioner said that the respondent
should have manifested or made known to the trial court that he was not receiving any notice at all
since it behoves upon him to make a follow-up on the developments of the cases he is handling.


It is beyond dispute that the complainant engaged the services of the respondent to handle his case.
The records, however, definitively bear out that the respondent was completely remiss and negligent

in handling the complainant’s case, notwithstanding his receipt of the sum of P250,000.00 for the
total expenses to be incurred in the said case.
The excuse proffered by the respondent that he did not receive any orders or notices from the trial
court is highly intolerable. In the first place, securing a copy of such notices, orders and case
records was within the respondent’s control and is a task that a lawyer undertakes. Moreso, the
preparation and the filing of the answer is a matter of procedure that fully fell within the exclusive
control and responsibility of the respondent. It was incumbent upon him to execute all acts and
procedures necessary and incidental to the advancement of his client’s cause of action.

Records further disclose that the respondent omitted to update himself of the progress of his client’s
case with the trial court, and neither did he resort to available legal remedies that might have
protected his client’s interest. Although a lawyer has complete discretion on what legal strategy to
employ in a case entrusted to him, he must present every remedy or defense within the authority of
law to support his client’s interest. When a lawyer agrees to take up a client’s cause, he covenants
that he will exercise due diligence in protecting the latter’s rights.18
Evidently, the acts of the respondent plainly demonstrated his lack of candor, fairness, and loyalty to
his client as embodied in Canon 15 of the Code. A lawyer who performs his duty with diligence and
candor not only protects the interest of his client; he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to
the bar, and helps maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession.19
In this case, the respondent’s reckless and inexcusable negligence deprived his client of due
process and his actions were evidently prejudicial to his clients’ interests. A lawyer’s duty of
competence and diligence includes not merely reviewing the cases entrusted to his care or giving
sound legal advice, but also consists of properly representing the client before any court or tribunal,
attending scheduled hearings or conferences, preparing and filing the required pleadings,
prosecuting the handled cases with reasonable dispatch, and urging their termination even without
prodding from the client or the court.