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166 SCRA 316 Legal Ethics Contemptuous Language Duty of a Lawyer
Zaldivar was the governor of Antique. He was charged before the Sandiganbayan for violations of the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Gonzales was the then Tanodbayan who was investigating the
Zaldivar then filed with the Supreme Court a petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus assailing
the authority of the Tanodbayan to investigate graft cases under the 1987 Constitution. The Supreme
Court, acting on the petition issued a Cease and Desist Order against Gonzalez directing him to
temporarily restrain from investigating and filing informations against Zaldivar.
Gonzales however proceeded with the investigation and he filed criminal informations against Zaldivar.
Gonzalez even had a newspaper interview where he proudly claims that he scored one on the Supreme
Court; that the Supreme Courts issuance of the TRO is a manifestation that the rich and influential
persons get favorable actions from the Supreme Court, [while] it is difficult for an ordinary litigant to get
his petition to be given due course.
Zaldivar then filed a Motion for Contempt against Gonzalez. The Supreme Court then ordered Gonzalez
to explain his side. Gonzalez stated that the statements in the newspapers were true; that he was only
exercising his freedom of speech; that he is entitled to criticize the rulings of the Court, to point out where
he feels the Court may have lapsed into error. He also said, even attaching notes, that not less than six
justices of the Supreme Court have approached him to ask him to go slow on Zaldivar and to not
embarrass the Supreme Court.
ISSUE: Whether or not Gonzalez is guilty of contempt.
Yes. The statements made by respondent Gonzalez clearly constitute contempt and call for the exercise
of the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. His statements necessarily imply that the justices of the
Supreme Court betrayed their oath of office. Such statements constitute the grossest kind of disrespect
for the Supreme Court. Such statements very clearly debase and degrade the Supreme Court and,
through the Court, the entire system of administration of justice in the country.
Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. What Gonzalez seems unaware of is
that freedom of speech and of expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that
freedom of expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of
equally important public interests. One of these fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the
integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There is no antinomy between free
expression and the integrity of the system of administering justice.
Gonzalez, apart from being a lawyer and an officer of the court, is also a Special Prosecutor who owes
duties of fidelity and respect to the Republic and to the Supreme Court as the embodiment and the
repository of the judicial power in the government of the Republic. The responsibility of Gonzalez to
uphold the dignity and authority of the Supreme Court and not to promote distrust in the administration of
justice is heavier than that of a private practicing lawyer.
Gonzalez is also entitled to criticize the rulings of the court but his criticisms must be bona fide. In the
case at bar, his statements, particularly the one where he alleged that members of the Supreme Court
approached him, are of no relation to the Zaldivar case.
The Supreme Court suspended Gonzalez indefinitely from the practice of law.

Inherent power of the SC to punish for contempt when the behaviour of lawyers is not within the purview
of administration of justice. The lawyers duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential
to the orderly administration of justice.

CORONA; January 17, 2005
Administrative case in SC for Serious Misconduct and Dishonesty
Benjamin Santuyo and Editha Santuyo
accused respondent
Atty. Edwin Hidalgo
of serious misconduct and dishonesty
for breach of his lawyers oath and notarial law
- In Dec 1991, couple purchased parcel of land covered by deed of sale - It was allegedly notarized by
Hidalgo and entered in his notarial register - Six years later, couple had dispute with Danilo German over
ownership of said land; German presented an affidavit executed by Hidalgo denying authenticity of his
signature on deed of sale
Petitioners' Claim
- Hidalgo overlooked the fact that deed of sale contained ALL the legal formalities of a duly notarized
document (including impression of his notarial dry seal) - Santuyos could not have forged the signature,
not being learned in technicalities surrounding notarial act - They had no access to his notarial seal and
notarial register, and they could not have made any imprint of his seal or signature.
Respondents' Comments
- He denied having notarized any deed of sale for disputed property. - He once worked as junior lawyer at
Carpio General and Jacob Law Office; and admitted that he notarized several documents in that office. As a matter of procedure, documents were scrutinized by senior lawyers, and
only with their approval could notarization be done.
- In some occasions, secretaries (by themselves) would affix dry seal of junior associates on documents
relating to cases handled by the law firm. - He normally required parties to exhibit community tax
certificates and to personally acknowledge documents before him as notary public. - He knew Editha, but
only met Benjamin in Nov 1997 (Meeting was arranged by Editha so as to personally acknowledge
another document) - His alleged signature on deed of sale was forged (strokes of a lady) - At time it was
supposedly notarized, he was on vacation.
1. WON the signature of respondent on the deed of sale was forged
2. WON respondent is guilty of negligence
1. Yes.
The alleged forged signature was different from Hidalgos
signatures in other documents submitted during the investigation.
Santuyos did not state that they personally appeared before respondent. They were also not sure if he
signed the document; only that his signature appeared on it. They had no personal knowledge as to who
actually affixed the signature.

2. Yes.
He was negligent for having wholly entrusted the preparation and other mechanics of the document for
notarization to the office secretaries, including safekeeping of dry seal and making entries in notarial
Responsibility attached to a notary public is sensitive, and respondent should have been more discreet
and cautious.
Atty. Hidalgo is suspended from his commission as notary public for two (2) years for negligence in the
performance of duties as notary public.


PER CURIAM; April 15, 2005
Administrative case in the Supreme Court. Violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility
- In an affidavit-complaint, complainat Arturo Sicat, a Board Member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
Rizal, charged respondent Atty. Gregorio Ariola, the Municipal Administrator of Cainta, Rizal with violation
of the Code of Professional Responsibility by committing fraud, deceit and falsehood in his dealings,
particularly the notarization of a Special Power of Attorney(SPA) purportedly executed by one Juanito C.
According to complainant, respondent made it appear that Benitez executed the said document on
January 4, 2001 when in fact the latter had already died on October 25, 2000.
- He alleged that prior to notarization, the Municipality of Cainta had entered into a contract with J.C.
Benitez Architect and Technical Management, represented by Benitez, for the construction of low-cost
houses(project worth=11M). For the services of the consultants, the Municipality of Cainta issued a check
dated January 10, 2001 in the amount of 3.7M, payable to J.C. Benitez Architects and Technical
Management and/or Cesar Goco. The check was received and cashed by the the latter by virtue of the
SPA notarized by Ariola.
Respondents' Comments
- Respondent explained that as early as May 12, 2000, Benitez had already signed the SPA. He claimed
that due to inadvertence, it was only on January 4, 2001 that he was able to notarize it. Nevertheless, the
SPA notarized by him on January 4, 2001 was not at all necessary because Benitez had signed a similar
SPA in favor of Goco sometime before his death, on May 12, 2000. Therefore, the SPA was cancelled the
same day he notarized it.
- Moreover, the suit should be dismissed for forum shopping since similar charges had been filed with the
Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. Which complaints were
dismissed because the assailed act referred to violation of the IRR of the Commission on Audit. - The
Court, in its resolution dated March 12, 2003, referred the complaint to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation.
The IBP recommended that respondent's notarial commission be revoked and that he be suspended from
the practice of law for one year.

WON acts of respondent amounted to a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

The act was a serious breach of the sacred obligation imposed by the Code of Professional
Responsibility, specifically Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which prohibits engaging in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct..
The undisputed facts show that Benitez died on October 25, 2000. The notarial acknowledgment of
respondent declared that
Benitez appeared before him and acknowledged that the instrument was his clear and voluntary act.
Clearly respondent lied and intentionally perpetuated an untruthful statement. - Neither will respondent's
defense that the SPA in question was superfluous and unnecessary, and prejudiced no one, exonerate
him of accountability. His assertion of falsehood in a public document contravened one of the most
cherished tenets of the legal profession and potentially cast suspicion on the truthfulness of every notarial
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Gregorio E. Ariola, Jr., is found guilty of gross misconduct and is hereby
DISBARRED from the practice of law. Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar
Confidant and entered in the records of respondent, and brought to the immediate attention of the
DE LEON; June 8, 2000
Administrative matter in the Supreme Court. Disbarment.
Mrs. Ui filed an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Bonifacio on the ground of
immorality, for allegedly carrying on an illicit relationship with her husband Mr. Ui. In the proceeding
before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, Atty. Bonifacio attached a photocopy of a marriage
certificate that said that she and Mr. Ui got married in 1985, but according to the certificate of marriage
obtained from the Hawaii. State Department of Health, they were married in 1987. She claims that she
entered the relationship with Mr. Ui in good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful,
flagrant, or shameless, nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Mr. Ui whom she
believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true civil status, she parted ways with him.
WON Atty. Bonifacio conducted herself in an immoral manner for which she deserves to be barred from
the practice of law
- No.
The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy the practice of the legal
profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the
mandate of due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics. One of the
conditions prior to the admission to the bar is that an applicant must possess good moral character. More
importantly, possession of good character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the
privilege of law practice. Otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege.

- A lawyer may be disbarred for grossly immoral conduct, which has been defined as the conduct
which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the
good and respectable members of the community. Lawyers, as keepers of the public faith, are
burdened with a higher degree of social responsibilityand thus must handle their affairs with great caution.
Atty. Bonifacio was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her
relationship with Mr. Ui, clothed as it was with what she believed was a valid marriage, cannot be
considered immoral. Immorality connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society.
Moreover, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, thesame must be grossly immoral, that is, it
must be so corrupt and falseas to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a
high degree.
- A member of the bar and an officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous
relationships but must also behave himself so as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief
that he is flouting thosemoral standards.
Atty. Bonifacios act of immediately distancing herself from Mr. Ui upon discovering his true civil
status belies just that alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no intention of flaunting
the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession. On the matter of the falsified certificate
of marriage, it is contrary to human experience and highly improbable that she did not know the year of
her marriage or that she failed to check that the information in the document which she attached to her
Answer were correct. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the bar, free from misdeeds
and acts of malpractice.


ROMERO; July 31, 1997
- In 1971, Patricia Figueroa petitioned that Simeon Barranco, Jr. be denied admission to the legal
profession. Barranco passed the 1970 bar exams on the fourth attempt. - Figueroa avers that she and
Barranco had been sweethearts, that a child was born to them out of wedlock and that respondent did not
fulfill his repeated promises to marry her. - Figueroa and Barranco were townmates in Janiuay, Iloilo and
were steadies since 1953. Figueroa first acceded to sexual congress in 1960. A son, Rafael Barranco,
was born on Dec 11, 1964. Barranco promised to marry Figueroa after he passes the bar exams. Their
relationship continued, with more than 20 or 30 promises of marriage. Barranco
gave only P10 for the child on Rafaels birthdays. In 1971, Figueroa
learned Barranco married another woman. - From 1972 to 1988, several motions to dismiss and
comments were filed. - On Sept 29, 1988, the Court resolved to dismiss the complaint for failure of
complainant to prosecute the case for an unreasonable period
of time and to allow Simeon Barranco, Jr. to take the lawyers oath.
Nov 17, 1988, the Court, in response to Figueroas opposition, resolved to cancel Barrancos scheduled
- June 1, 1993, the Court referred the case to the IBP. On May 17, 1997, IBP recommended the dismissal
of the case and that respondentbe allowed to take the lawyers oath
WON the facts constitute gross immorality warranting the permanent exclusion of Barranco from the legal
To justify suspension or disbarment, the act complained of must not only be immoral, but grossly
immoral. A grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or

so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree. It is a willful, flagrant, or

shameless acts which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable members of the
community. Barrancos engaging in premarital sexual relations with Figueroa and
promises to marry suggest a doubtful moral character on his part but it does not constitute
grossly immoral conduct. - Barranco and Figueroa were sweethearts whose sexual relationship
were evidently consensual.
Respondent, at the time of this decision, is already 62.
Petition is dismissed. Simeon Barranco, Jr. is allowed to take his oath as a lawyer upon payment
of proper fees.
PER CURIAM; November 12, 2004
- Atty. Martinez was convicted of a violation of BP 22
- Complainant submitted Resolution dated March 13, 1996, and the Entry of judgment dated March 20,
1996 in an action for disbarment against Martinez - July 3, 1996
the Court required respondent to comment on said petition within 10 days from notice - February 17,

a second resolution was issued requiring respondent to show cause why no disciplinary action should be
imposed on him for failure to comply with the earlier Resolution and to submit Comment - July 7, 1997

the Court imposed a fine of P1000 for respondents

failure to comply with previous resolution within 10 days - April 27, 1998

the Court fined the respondent an additional P2000 and required him to comply with the resolution under
pain of imprisonment and arrest for a period of 5 days or until his compliance - February 3, 1999

the Court declared respondent Martinez guilty of Contempt under Rule 71, Sec 3(b) of the 1997 Rules on
Civil Procedure and ordered his imprisonment until he complied with the aforesaid resolution - April 5,

NBI reported that respondent was arrested in Tacloban City on March 26, 1999 but was subsequently
released after having shown proof of compliance with the resolutions of February 17, 1997 and April 27,
1998 by remitting the amount of P2000 and submitting his overdue Comment: 1.
He failed to respond to the Resolution dated February 17, 1997 as he was at that time undergoing
medical treatment at Camp Ruperto Kangleon in Palo, Leyte 2.
Complainant passed away sometime in June 1997 3.
Said administrative complaint is an offshoot of a civil case which
was decided in respondents favor. Respondent avers that as a
result of his moving for the execution of judgment in his favor and the eviction of the family of
complainant, the latter filed the present administrative case - September 11, 1997

Robert Visbal of the Provincial Prosecution Office of Tacloban City submitted a letter to the First Division
Clerk of Court alleging that respondent Martinez also stood charged in another estafa case before the
RTC of Tacloban City, as well as a civil case involving the victims of the Dona Paz tragedy in 1987 for

which the RTC of Basey, Samar rendered a decision against him, his appeal thereto having been
dismissed by the CA. - June 16, 1999

the Court referred the present case to the IBP for investigation, report, and recommendation - The report
of IBP stated: 1.
Respondent filed a motion for the dismissal of the case on the ground that the complainant died and that
dismissal is warranted because the case filed by him does not survive due to his demise as a matter of
fact, it is extinguished upon his death. The IBP disagrees, pursuant to Section 1 Rule 139-B of the
Revised Rules of Court, the SC or the IBP may initiate the proceedings when they perceive acts of
lawyers which deserve sanctions or when their attention is called by any one and a probable cause exists
that an act has been perpetrated by a lawyer which requires disciplinary sanctions. 2.
Propensity to disregard orders of the SC, as shown by respondent, is an utter lack of good moral
character 3.
Respondents conviction of a crime of moral turpitude clearly
shows his unfitness to protect the administration of justice and therefore justifies the imposition of
sanctions against him 4.
It is recommended that respondent be disbarred and his name stricken out from the Roll of Attorneys
immediately - September 27, 2003

the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution adopting and approving the report and
recommendation of its Investigating Commissioner - December 3, 2003

Atty. Martinez filed a Motion for Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation - January 14, 2004

the Court required the complainant to file a comment within 10 days - February 16, 2004

complainants daughter sent a Manifestation and

Motion alleging they have not been furnished with a copy of Respondents Motion.
WON the crime respondent was convicted of is one involving moral turpitude
Yes. Moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good
morals. It involves an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his
fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty
between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. - The
argument of respondent that to disbar him now is tantamount to a deprivation of property without due
process of law is also untenable. The practice of law is a privilege. The purpose of a proceeding for
disbarment is to protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important
function shall be competent, honorable and reliable; men in whom courts and clients may repose
confidence. - Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private
grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare, and for the purpose of
preserving courts of justice from the official ministrations of persons unfit to practice them.
The court is also disinclined to take respondents old age and the fact
that he served in the judiciary in various capacities in his favor. If at all, the respondent was held to a
higher standard for it, for a judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence,
and his conduct should be above reproach. - The Court based the determination of the penalty from
previously decided cases, holding that disbarment is the appropriate penalty for conviction by final
judgment for a crime of moral turpitude.

Respondent was disbarred and his name stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.


The Case
This is a disbarment complaint against respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco (respondent) for
serious misconduct and deliberate violation of Canon 1,[1] Rules 1.01[2] and 1.02[3] of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (Code).

The Facts
In his Complaint dated 20 May 2003, Peter T. Donton (complainant) stated that he filed a criminal
complaint for estafa thru falsification of a public document[4] against Duane O. Stier (Stier), Emelyn A.
Maggay (Maggay) and respondent, as the notary public who notarized the Occupancy Agreement.
The disbarment complaint arose when respondent filed a counter-charge for perjury[5] against
complainant. Respondent, in his affidavit-complaint, stated that:
5. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT dated September 11, 1995 was
me under the following circumstances:

prepared and notarized by

A. Mr. Duane O. Stier is the owner and long-time resident of a

real property located at
No. 33 Don Jose Street, Bgy. San
Roque, Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City.
B. Sometime in September 1995, Mr. Stier a U.S. citizen and
thereby disqualified to own real
property in his name agreed that the property be transferred in the name of Mr. Donton, a Filipino.
C. Mr. Stier, in the presence of Mr. Donton, requested me to
prepare several documents that
would guarantee recognition of
him being the actual owner of the property despite the transfer
of title in the name of Mr. Donton.
D. For this purpose, I prepared, among others, the OCCUPANCY
AGREEMENT, recognizing
Mr. Stiers free and undisturbed
use of the property for his residence and business operations.
The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT was tied up with a loan
which Mr. Stier had extended to Mr.
Complainant averred that respondents act of preparing the Occupancy Agreement, despite
knowledge that Stier, being a foreign national, is disqualified to own real property in his name, constitutes
serious misconduct and is a deliberate violation of the Code. Complainant prayed that respondent be
disbarred for advising Stier to do something in violation of law and assisting Stier in carrying out a
dishonest scheme.
In his Comment dated 19 August 2003, respondent claimed that complainant filed the disbarment
case against him upon the instigation of complainants counsel, Atty. Bonifacio A. Alentajan,[7] because
respondent refused to act as complainants witness in the criminal case against Stier and Maggay.
Respondent admitted that he prepared and notarized the Occupancy Agreement and asserted its
genuineness and due execution.

In a Resolution dated 1 October 2003, the Court referred the matter to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.

The IBPs Report and Recommendation

In her Report dated 26 February 2004 (Report), Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan
(Commissioner San Juan) of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found respondent liable for taking
part in a scheme to circumvent the constitutional prohibition against foreign ownership of land in the
Philippines. Commissioner San Juan recommended respondents suspension from the practice of
law for two years and the cancellation of his commission as Notary Public.
In Resolution No. XVI-2004-222 dated 16 April 2004, the IBP Board of Governors adopted, with
modification, the Report and recommended respondents suspension from the practice of law for six
On 28 June 2004, the IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court as provided under
Section 12(b), Rule 139-B[8] of the Rules of Court.
On 28 July 2004, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration before the IBP. Respondent stated
that he was already 76 years old and would already retire by 2005 after the termination of his pending
cases. He also said that his practice of law is his only means of support for his family and his six minor
In a Resolution dated 7 October 2004, the IBP denied the motion for reconsideration because the
IBP had no more jurisdiction on the case as the matter had already been referred to the Court.

The Ruling of the Court

The Court finds respondent liable for violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code.
A lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client which will involve defiance of the
laws which he is bound to uphold and obey.[9] A lawyer who assists a client in a dishonest scheme or
who connives in violating the law commits an act which justifies disciplinary action against the lawyer.[10]
By his own admission, respondent admitted that Stier, a U.S. citizen, was disqualified from owning
real property.[11] Yet, in his motion for reconsideration,[12] respondent admitted that he caused the
transfer of ownership to the parcel of land to Stier. Respondent, however, aware of the prohibition,
quickly rectified his act and transferred the title in complainants name. But respondent provided some
safeguards by preparing several documents,[13] including the Occupancy Agreement, that would
guarantee Stiers recognition as the actual owner of the property despite its transfer in complainants
name. In effect, respondent advised and aided Stier in circumventing the constitutional prohibition
against foreign ownership of lands[14] by preparing said documents.
Respondent had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thus, he violated his oath and the Code when
he prepared and notarized the Occupancy Agreement to evade the law against foreign ownership of
lands. Respondent used his knowledge of the law to achieve an unlawful end. Such an act amounts to
malpractice in his office, for which he may be suspended.[15]
In Balinon v. De Leon,[16] respondent Atty. De Leon was suspended from the practice of law for
three years for preparing an affidavit that virtually permitted him to commit concubinage. In In re:
Santiago,[17] respondent Atty. Santiago was suspended from the practice of law for one year for

preparing a contract which declared the spouses to be single again after nine years of separation and
allowed them to contract separately subsequent marriages.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco GUILTY of violation of Canon 1
and Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent Atty.
Emmanuel O. Tansingco from the practice of law for SIX MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to
respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of
Justice, and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.
Facts: Terrel was ordered to show cause why he should not be suspended as a member of the bar of the
city of Manila
He assisted in the organization Centro Bellas Artes Club, after he had been notified that the
organization was made for the purpose of evading the law
He acted as attorney for said club during the time of and after its organization, which was known for the
purpose of evading the law
In US vs. Terrel, he was charged with estafa. The court reviewed his testimony and decided that the
charges were true and made an order suspending him from office as lawyer in the Philippine Islands.
Issue: Whether or not the court was justified in suspending Terrel.
Held: Yes, suspended for one year
The promoting of organizations, with knowledge of their objects, for the purpose of violating or evading
the laws against crime constitutes such misconduct on the part of an attorney, an officer of the court, as
amounts to malpractice or gross misconduct in his office, and for which he may be removed or
The assisting of a client in a scheme which the attorney knows to be dishonest, or the conniving at a
violation of law, are acts which justify disbarment.
HOWEVER, Terrel was acquitted in US vs. Terrel on the charge of estafa. While unprofessional, is not
criminal in nature. Hence, Terrel is suspended for one year (as opposed to permanent suspension).
Petitioner: Joseph Ejercito Estrada
Respondents: Sandiganbayan (Third Division) and People of the Philippines
Ponente: J. Bellosillo
Section 2 of R.A. No. 7080 (An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder) as amended by R.A.
No. 7659 substantially provides that any public officer who amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten
wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts in the aggregate amount or total value of
at least fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder. Petitioner Joseph
Ejercito Estrada, being prosecuted under the said Act, assailed its constitutionality, arguing inter alia, that
it abolishes the element of mens rea in crimes already punishable under The Revised Penal Code; and
as such, a violation of the fundamental rights of the accused to due process and to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation against him.

Whether or not the crime of plunder as defined in R.A. No. 7080 is a malum prohibitum.
No. The Supreme Court held that plunder is malum in se which requires proof of criminal intent.
Moreover, the legislative declaration in R.A. No. 7659 that plunder is a heinous offense implies that it is a
malum in se. The predicate crimes in the case of plunder involve acts which are inherently immoral or
inherently wrong, and are committed willfully, unlawfully and criminally by the offender, alleging his guilty
knowledge. Thus, the crime of plunder is a malum in se.

Spouses Venustiano and Rosalia Saburnido filed an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty.
Florante Madro Complainants allege that respondent has been harassing them by filing numerous
complaints against them, in addition to committing acts of dishonesty. The cases filed were:
1. Adm. Case No. 90-0755, for serious irregularity, filed by respondent against Venustiano Saburnido.
2. Adm. Case No. 90-0758, for falsification, filed by respondent against Venustiano Saburnido and two
3. Crim. Case No. 93-67, for evasion through negligence under Article 224 of the Revised Penal Code,
filed by respondent against Venustiano Saburnido.
4. Adm. Case No. 95-33, filed by respondent against Rosalia Saburnido for violation of the Omnibus
Election Code.
Previous to this case, complainants (spouses Saburnido) also filed 3 separate administrative cases
against respondent, which led to the latters dismissal from the judiciary and forfeiture of his retirement
SC referred this case to the IBP, the latter concluded that complainants submitted convincing proof that
respondent indeed committed acts constituting gross misconduct that warrant the imposition of
administrative sanction. The IBP recommends that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for
one year.
Whether or not Atty. Madronos act of filling multiple complaints constitute gross misconduct that will
warrant the imposition of administrative sanctions.
YES. A lawyer may be disciplined for any conduct, in his professional or private capacity, that renders him
unfit to continue to be an officer of the court. Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
commands all lawyers to at all times uphold the dignity and integrity of the legal profession. Clearly,
respondents act of filing multiple complaints against herein complainants reflects on his fitness to be a
member of the legal profession. His act evinces vindictiveness, a decidedly undesirable trait whether in a
lawyer or another individual, as complainants were instrumental in respondents dismissal from the
judiciary. We see in respondents tenacity in pursuing several cases against complainants not the
persistence of one who has been grievously wronged but the obstinacy of one who is trying to exact
Respondents action erodes rather than enhances public perception of the legal profession. It constitutes
gross misconduct for which he may be suspended, following Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.

We find that suspension from the practice of law is sufficient to discipline respondent. The supreme
penalty of disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing
and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court. While we will not hesitate to remove an erring
attorney from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers, where the evidence calls for it, we will also not disbar
him where a lesser penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end. In this case, we find suspension to
be a sufficient sanction against respondent. Suspension, we may add, is not primarily intended as a
punishment, but as a means to protect the public and the legal profession.
Pedro L. Linsangan vs Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino(A.C. No. 6672, September 4, 2009)
This is a complaint for disbarment filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law
Office against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional
services. Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced
his clients to transfer legal representation. Respondent promised them financial assistance and
expeditious collection on their claims. To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them and
sent themtext messages.
To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit of James Gregorio attesting that
Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize
respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000. Complainant also attached
respondentscalling card:Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and
recommendation, found that respondent had encroached on the professional practice of complainant,
violating XXX Rule 2.03 of the CPR which provides:
TO SOLICIT LEGAL BUSINESS. Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of
gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers. Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a
ground for disbarment. Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which
ambulance chasing (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or
through an agent in order to gainemployment) as a measure to protect the community from barratry and
Complainant presented substantial evidence (consisting of the sworn statements of the very same
persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to respondentsoffice) to prove that respondent indeed solicited
legal business as well as profited from referrals suits. Although respondent initially denied knowing
Labiano in his answer, he later admitted it during the mandatory hearing. Through Labianos actions,
respondents law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the
strength of Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result. WHEREFORE,
respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03, XXX of the Code of Professional
Responsibility XXX is hereby SUSPENDEDfrom the practice of law for a period of one year effective
immediately from receipt of this resolution. He is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or
similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
231 SCRA 173 Legal Ethics Duty of a Lawyer To Encourage Settlement of Suits
Jon De Ysasi and Jon De Ysasi III are father and sons respectively. The elder Ysasi owns a hacienda in
Negros Occidental. De Ysasi III is employed in the hacienda as the farm administrator. In November
1982, De Ysasi III underwent surgery and so he missed work. He was confined and while hes nursing
from his infections he was terminated, without due process, by his father. De Ysasi III filed against his
father for illegal dismissal before the National Labor Relations Commission. His father invoked that his
son actually abandoned his work.

ISSUE: Whether or not De Ysasi III abandoned his work.

HELD: No. His absence from work does not constitute abandonment. To constitute abandonment, there
must be a.) failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason, and b.) a clear
intention to sever the employer-employee relationship, with the second element as the more
determinative factor and being manifested by some overt acts. No such intent was proven in this case.
The Supreme Court, in making its decision, noted that the lawyers for both camps failed to exert all
reasonable efforts to smooth over legal conflicts, preferably out of court and especially in
consideration of the direct and immediate consanguineous ties between their clients especially
considering that the parties involved are father and son. This case may have never reached the
courts had there been an earnest effort by the lawyers to have both parties find an off court settlement but
records show that no such effort was made. The useful function of a lawyer is not only to conduct
litigation but to avoid it whenever possible by advising settlement or withholding suit. He is often
called upon less for dramatic forensic exploits than for wise counsel in every phase of life. He
should be a mediator for concord and a conciliator for compromise, rather than a virtuoso of
technicality in the conduct of litigation.
Rule 1.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly provides that (a) lawyer shall encourage
his client to avoid, end or settle the controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement.
Both counsel fell short of what was expected of them, despite their avowed duties as officers of the court.
In the same manner, the labor arbiter who handled this regrettable case has been less than faithful to the
letter and spirit of the Labor Code mandating that a labor arbiter shall exert all efforts towards the
amicable settlement of a labor dispute within his jurisdiction. If he ever did so, or at least entertained the
thought, the copious records of the proceedings in this controversy are barren of any reflection of the