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A.C. No.

6288
June 16, 2006
MARILI C. RONQUILLO, ALEXANDER RONQUILLO and JON ALEXANDER RONQUILLO,
represented by their Attorney-in-Fact SERVILLANO A. CABUNGCAL, Complainants,
vs.ATTY. HOMOBONO T. CEZAR, Respondent.
FACTS:
Complainant Marili Ronquillo together with her minor children Alexander Ronquillo and Jon
Alexander Ronquillo and respondent Atty. Homobono Cezar entered into a deed of assignment covering
certain rights and interest over a townhouse located at Quezon City for the amount of 1.5 million pesos.
It was settled that upon payment of the downpayment of the 1.5 million pesos, respondent must furnish
complainants a deed of assignment transferring the said right and interest over the pertained property.
Respondent also obligated himself to furnish the complainants with a copy of the contract to sell with
Crown Asia, the townhouse developer, and upon full payment shall execute with the latter a Deed of
Absolute Sale over the said property in favor of the complainants.
However, upon payment of the remaining balance, respondent failed to perform the
subsequent obligations, to wit: delivering the contract to sell which was to be executed by the
respondent with Crown Asia and to execute in favor of the complainants and deliver the Deed of
Absolute Sale to the same. Complainants also received a notice from Crown Asia that respondent did
not actually deliver the full payment of the price of the said townhouse at the time the Deed of
Assignment was executed. Complainants then deliver to respondent two (2) demand letters demanding
for the return of the amount paid to the respondent or the performance of respondents obligation, to
pay to Crown Asia the full amount of the town house and deliver to complainants a copy of the contract
to sell and Deed of Absolute Sale. However, despite of the demand letters, respondent failed to comply
with the demands prompting complainants to file an administrative case before the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, after thorough investigation conducted, found that herein
respondent is guilty of dishonest and deceitful conduct proscribed under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility.
ISSUE:
Whether respondent engaged in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct violating his oath
under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Resoponsibility.
RULING:
The Court Agrees.
Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred
or suspended on any of the following grounds: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice or other gross misconduct in
office; (3) grossly immoral conduct; (4) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; (5) violation of
the lawyers oath; (6) willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (7) willfully
appearing as an attorney for a party without authority. Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility provides that "A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct." "Conduct," as used in this rule, does not refer exclusively to the performance of a lawyers
professional duties. This Court has made clear in a long line of cases7 that a lawyer may be disbarred or
suspended for misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be
wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor, or unworthy to continue as an officer
of the court.
In the instant case, respondent may have acted in his private capacity when he entered into a
contract with complainant Marili representing to have the rights to transfer title over the townhouse
unit and lot in question. When he failed in his undertaking, respondent fell short of his duty under Rule
1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It cannot be gainsaid that it was unlawful for
respondent to transfer property over which one has no legal right of ownership. Respondent was
likewise guilty of dishonest and deceitful conduct when he concealed this lack of right from
complainants. He did not inform the complainants that he has not yet paid in full the price of the subject
townhouse unit and lot, and, therefore, he had no right to sell, transfer or assign said property at the
time of the execution of the Deed of Assignment. His acceptance of the bulk of the purchase price
amounting to Nine Hundred Thirty-Seven Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P937,500.00), despite knowing
he was not entitled to it, made matters worse for him.

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Respondents adamant refusal to return to complainant Marili Ronquillo the money she paid
him, which was the fruit of her labor as an Overseas Filipino Worker for ten (10) years, is morally
reprehensible. By his actuations, respondent failed to live up to the strict standard of morality required
by the Code of Professional Responsibility and violated the trust and respect reposed in him as a
member of the Bar, and an officer of the court.
The practice of law is not a right but a privilege. It is granted only to those of good moral
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character. The Bar must maintain a high standard of honesty and fair dealing. Lawyers must conduct
themselves beyond reproach at all times, whether they are dealing with their clients or the public at
large,11 and a violation of the high moral standards of the legal profession justifies the imposition of the
appropriate penalty, including suspension and disbarment.

2 | P a g e Problems on Legal Ethics