You are on page 1of 62

PRACTICE OF LAW

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991
RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner,
vs.
CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. SALONGA, COMMISSION
ON APPOINTMENT, and HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his
capacity as Secretary of Budget and Management, respondents.
Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf.
Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano co-counsel for
petitioner.
PARAS, J.:p
We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching
proportions. While ostensibly only legal issues are involved, the
Court's decision in this case would indubitably have a profound
effect on the political aspect of our national existence.
The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C:
There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of
a Chairman and six Commissioners who shall be
natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time
of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age,
holders of a college degree, and must not have been
candidates for any elective position in the immediately
preceding -elections. However, a majority thereof,
including the Chairman, shall be members of the
Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice
of law for at least ten years. (Emphasis supplied)
The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article
XII-C of the 1973 Constitution which similarly provides:
There shall be an independent Commission on Elections
composed of a Chairman and eight Commissioners who shall be
natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their
appointment, at least thirty-five years of age and holders of a
college degree. However, a majority thereof, including the
Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.' (Emphasis
supplied)

LEGAL PROFESSION

Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to


what constitutes practice of law as a legal qualification to an
appointive office.
Black defines "practice of law" as:
The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and
the application of legal principles and technique to
serve the interest of another with his consent. It is not
limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting
in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the
preparation of pleadings, and other papers incident to
actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the
preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the
giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all
advice to clients and all actions taken for them in
matters connected with the law. An attorney engages
in the practice of law by maintaining an office where he
is held out to be-an attorney, using a letterhead
describing himself as an attorney, counseling clients in
legal matters, negotiating with opposing counsel about
pending litigation, and fixing and collecting fees for
services rendered by his associate. (Black's Law
Dictionary, 3rd ed.)
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court.
(Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken,129 Ohio St. 23,
193 N.E. 650) A person is also considered to be in the practice of
law when he:
... for valuable consideration engages in the business of
advising person, firms, associations or corporations as
to their rights under the law, or appears in a
representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings
pending or prospective, before any court,
commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or
commission constituted by law or authorized to settle
controversies and there, in such representative
capacity performs any act or acts for the purpose of
obtaining or defending the rights of their clients under
the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative
capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as
to their rights under the law, or while so engaged
performs any act or acts either in court or outside of
court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of
law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley and Co., 102
S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852)
This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association
v.Agrava, (105 Phil. 173,176-177) stated:
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of
cases or litigation in court; it embraces the preparation
of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and
special proceedings, the management of such actions
and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and

Page 1

courts, and in addition, conveying. In general, all advice


to clients, and all action taken for them in
mattersconnected with the law incorporation services,
assessment and condemnation services contemplating
an appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure
of a mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in
bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and
conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters
of estate and guardianship have been held to constitute
law practice, as do the preparation and drafting of legal
instruments, where the work done involves the
determination by the trained legal mind of the legal
effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263).
(Emphasis supplied)
Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no
small part of work performed outside of any court and
having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It
embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a
large variety of subjects, and the preparation and
execution of legal instruments covering an extensive
field of business and trust relations and other
affairs. Although these transactions may have no direct
connection with court proceedings, they are always
subject to become involved in litigation. They require in
many aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide
experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for
adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These
customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law
bear an intimate relation to the administration of
justice by the courts. No valid distinction, so far as
concerns the question set forth in the order, can be
drawn between that part of the work of the lawyer
which involves appearance in court and that part which
involves advice and drafting of instruments in his office.
It is of importance to the welfare of the public that
these manifold customary functions be performed by
persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of
sound moral character, and acting at all times under
the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon
all attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court,
Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , p. 665-666, citing In re Opinion of the
Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar
Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179 A.
139,144). (Emphasis ours)
The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting
orientation briefing for new lawyers (1974-1975) listed the
dimensions of the practice of law in even broader terms as
advocacy, counselling and public service.
One may be a practicing attorney in following any line
of employment in the profession. If what he does
exacts knowledge of the law and is of a kind usual for
attorneys engaging in the active practice of their
profession, and he follows some one or more lines of

LEGAL PROFESSION

employment such as this he is a practicing attorney at


law within the meaning of the statute. (Barr v. Cardell,
155 NW 312)
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which
requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge,
training and experience. "To engage in the practice of law is to
perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession.
Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of
service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of
legal knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23)
The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission
show that it has adopted a liberal interpretation of the term
"practice of law."
MR. FOZ. Before we suspend the session, may
I make a manifestation which I forgot to do
during our review of the provisions on the
Commission on Audit. May I be allowed to
make a very brief statement?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir).
The Commissioner will please proceed.
MR. FOZ. This has to do with the qualifications
of the members of the Commission on Audit.
Among others, the qualifications provided for
by Section I is that "They must be Members of
the Philippine Bar" I am quoting from the
provision "who have been engaged in the
practice of law for at least ten years".
To avoid any misunderstanding which would result in
excluding members of the Bar who are now employed
in the COA or Commission on Audit, we would like to
make the clarification that this provision on
qualifications regarding members of the Bar does not
necessarily refer or involve actual practice of law
outside the COA We have to interpret this to mean that
as long as the lawyers who are employed in the COA are
using their legal knowledge or legal talent in their
respective work within COA, then they are qualified to
be considered for appointment as members or
commissioners, even chairman, of the Commission on
Audit.
This has been discussed by the Committee on
Constitutional Commissions and Agencies and we deem
it important to take it up on the floor so that this
interpretation may be made available whenever this
provision on the qualifications as regards members of
the Philippine Bar engaging in the practice of law for at
least ten years is taken up.

Page 2

MR. OPLE. Will Commissioner Foz yield to just


one question.
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect, saying that service
in the COA by a lawyer is equivalent to the
requirement of a law practice that is set forth
in the Article on the Commission on Audit?
MR. FOZ. We must consider the fact that the
work of COA, although it is auditing, will
necessarily involve legal work; it will involve
legal work. And, therefore, lawyers who are
employed in COA now would have the
necessary qualifications in accordance with
the Provision on qualifications under our
provisions on the Commission on Audit. And,
therefore, the answer is yes.
MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the construction given
to this is that this is equivalent to the practice
of law.
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
MR. OPLE. Thank you.
... ( Emphasis supplied)
Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides,
among others, that the Chairman and two Commissioners of the
Commission on Audit (COA) should either be certified public
accountants with not less than ten years of auditing practice, or
members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten years. (emphasis supplied)
Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in
many ways synonymous with the word "lawyer." Today,
although many lawyers do not engage in private practice, it is
still a fact that the majority of lawyers are private practitioners.
(Gary Munneke, Opportunities in Law Careers [VGM Career
Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15).
At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The
term, as commonly understood, means "an individual or
organization engaged in the business of delivering legal
services." (Ibid.). Lawyers who practice alone are often called
"sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called "firms." The
firm is usually a partnership and members of the firm are the
partners. Some firms may be organized as professional
corporations and the members called shareholders. In either
case, the members of the firm are the experienced attorneys. In
most firms, there are younger or more inexperienced salaried
attorneyscalled "associates." (Ibid.).

LEGAL PROFESSION

The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas


of law practice is essentially tautologous, unhelpful defining the
practice of law as that which lawyers do. (Charles W.
Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics [West Publishing Co.: Minnesota,
1986], p. 593). The practice of law is defined as the performance
of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly understood to be
the practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v. Connecticut Bank & Trust
Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863, 870 [1958] [quoting Grievance
Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, 626 [1941]).
Because lawyers perform almost every function known in the
commercial and governmental realm, such a definition would
obviously be too global to be workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.).
The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at
once the most publicly familiar role for lawyers as well as an
uncommon role for the average lawyer. Most lawyers spend
little time in courtrooms, and a large percentage spend their
entire practice without litigating a case. (Ibid., p. 593).
Nonetheless, many lawyers do continue to litigate and the
litigating lawyer's role colors much of both the public image and
the self perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.).
In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind
reflects history, not reality. (Ibid.). Why is this so? Recall that the
late Alexander SyCip, a corporate lawyer, once articulated on the
importance of a lawyer as a business counselor in this wise:
"Even today, there are still uninformed laymen whose concept of
an attorney is one who principally tries cases before the courts.
The members of the bench and bar and the informed laymen
such as businessmen, know that in most developed societies
today, substantially more legal work is transacted in law offices
than in the courtrooms. General practitioners of law who do
both litigation and non-litigation work also know that in most
cases they find themselves spending more time doing what [is]
loosely desccribe[d] as business counseling than in trying cases.
The business lawyer has been described as the planner, the
diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t] need not [be]
stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be avoided
where internal medicine can be effective." (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
In the course of a working day the average general practitioner
wig engage in a number of legal tasks, each involving different
legal doctrines, legal skills, legal processes, legal institutions,
clients, and other interested parties. Even the increasing
numbers of lawyers in specialized practice wig usually perform at
least some legal services outside their specialty. And even within
a narrow specialty such as tax practice, a lawyer will shift from
one legal task or role such as advice-giving to an importantly
different one such as representing a client before an
administrative agency. (Wolfram, supra, p. 687).
By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the
lawyer is one of the relatively rare types a litigator who
specializes in this work to the exclusion of much else. Instead,
the work will require the lawyer to have mastered the full range

Page 3

of traditional lawyer skills of client counselling, advice-giving,


document drafting, and negotiation. And increasingly lawyers
find that the new skills of evaluation and mediation are both
effective for many clients and a source of employment. (Ibid.).

relatively little organized and formalized attention in


the philosophy of advancing corporate legal education.
Nonetheless, a cross-disciplinary approach to legal
research has become a vital necessity.

Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in


litigation work that is constrained in very important ways, at
least theoretically, so as to remove from it some of the salient
features of adversarial litigation. Of these special roles, the most
prominent is that of prosecutor. In some lawyers' work the
constraints are imposed both by the nature of the client and by
the way in which the lawyer is organized into a social unit to
perform that work. The most common of these roles are those of
corporate practice and government legal service. (Ibid.).

Certainly, the general orientation for productive


contributions by those trained primarily in the law can
be improved through an early introduction to multivariable decisional context and the various approaches
for handling such problems. Lawyers, particularly with
either a master's or doctorate degree in business
administration or management, functioning at the legal
policy level of decision-making now have some
appreciation for the concepts and analytical techniques
of other professions which are currently engaged in
similar types of complex decision-making.

In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein


below quoted are emerging trends in corporate law practice, a
departure from the traditional concept of practice of law.
We are experiencing today what truly may be called a
revolutionary transformation in corporate law practice.
Lawyers and other professional groups, in particular
those members participating in various legal-policy
decisional contexts, are finding that understanding the
major emerging trends in corporation law is
indispensable to intelligent decision-making.
Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems
of today requires an accurate understanding of the
nature and implications of the corporate law research
function accompanied by an accelerating rate of
information accumulation. The recognition of the need
for such improved corporate legal policy formulation,
particularly
"model-making"
and
"contingency
planning," has impressed upon us the inadequacy of
traditional procedures in many decisional contexts.
In a complex legal problem the mass of information to
be processed, the sorting and weighing of significant
conditional factors, the appraisal of major trends, the
necessity of estimating the consequences of given
courses of action, and the need for fast decision and
response in situations of acute danger have prompted
the use of sophisticated concepts of information flow
theory, operational analysis, automatic data processing,
and electronic computing equipment. Understandably,
an improved decisional structure must stress the
predictive component of the policy-making process,
wherein a "model", of the decisional context or a
segment thereof is developed to test projected
alternative courses of action in terms of futuristic
effects flowing therefrom.
Although members of the legal profession are regularly
engaged in predicting and projecting the trends of the
law, the subject of corporate finance law has received

LEGAL PROFESSION

Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate


finance problems would require the services of an
astute attorney because of the complex legal
implications that arise from each and every necessary
step in securing and maintaining the business issue
raised. (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11,
1989, p. 4).
In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is
assiduously referred to as the "abogado de campanilla."
He is the "big-time" lawyer, earning big money and
with a clientele composed of the tycoons and magnates
of business and industry.
Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers,
many people could not explain what it is that a
corporate lawyer does. For one, the number of
attorneys employed by a single corporation will vary
with the size and type of the corporation. Many smaller
and some large corporations farm out all their legal
problems to private law firms. Many others have inhouse counsel only for certain matters. Other
corporation have a staff large enough to handle most
legal problems in-house.
A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a
lawyer who handles the legal affairs of a corporation.
His areas of concern or jurisdiction may include, inter
alia: corporate legal research, tax laws research, acting
out as corporate secretary (in board meetings),
appearances in both courts and other adjudicatory
agencies (including the Securities and Exchange
Commission), and in other capacities which require an
ability to deal with the law.
At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume
responsibilities other than the legal affairs of the
business of the corporation he is representing. These
include such matters as determining policy and

Page 4

becoming involved in management. ( Emphasis


supplied.)
In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling
of being isolated from the action, or not understanding
how one's work actually fits into the work of the
orgarnization. This can be frustrating to someone who
needs to see the results of his work first hand. In short,
a corporate lawyer is sometimes offered this fortune to
be more closely involved in the running of the business.
Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may
sometimes be engaged by a multinational corporation
(MNC). Some large MNCs provide one of the few
opportunities available to corporate lawyers to enter
the international law field. After all, international law is
practiced in a relatively small number of companies and
law firms. Because working in a foreign country is
perceived by many as glamorous, tills is an area
coveted by corporate lawyers. In most cases, however,
the overseas jobs go to experienced attorneys while
the younger attorneys do their "international practice"
in law libraries. (Business Star, "Corporate Law
Practice," May 25,1990, p. 4).
This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the
lawyer in the realm of finance. To borrow the lines of
Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce Wassertein, to wit: "A
bad lawyer is one who fails to spot problems, a good
lawyer is one who perceives the difficulties, and the
excellent lawyer is one who surmounts them."
(Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989,
p. 4).
Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs
a "shot in the arm," so to speak. No longer are we
talking of the traditional law teaching method of
confining the subject study to the Corporation Code
and the Securities Code but an incursion as well into
the intertwining modern management issues.
Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily
with three (3) types of learning: (1) acquisition of
insights into current advances which are of particular
significance to the corporate counsel; (2) an
introduction to usable disciplinary skins applicable to a
corporate counsel's management responsibilities; and
(3) a devotion to the organization and management of
the legal function itself.
These three subject areas may be thought of as
intersecting circles, with a shared area linking them.
Otherwise known as "intersecting managerial
jurisprudence," it forms a unifying theme for the
corporate counsel's total learning.

LEGAL PROFESSION

Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences


affect the counsel's role. For that matter, the corporate
lawyer reviews the globalization process, including the
resulting strategic repositioning that the firms he
provides counsel for are required to make, and the
need to think about a corporation's; strategy at
multiple levels. The salience of the nation-state is being
reduced as firms deal both with global multinational
entities and simultaneously with sub-national
governmental units. Firms increasingly collaborate not
only with public entities but with each other often
with those who are competitors in other arenas.
Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in
decision-making within the corporation is rapidly
changing. The modem corporate lawyer has gained a
new role as a stakeholder in some cases participating
in the organization and operations of governance
through participation on boards and other decisionmaking roles. Often these new patterns develop
alongside existing legal institutions and laws are
perceived as barriers. These trends are complicated as
corporations organize for global operations. ( Emphasis
supplied)
The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with
governmental policies toward the promotion and
management of technology. New collaborative
arrangements for promoting specific technologies or
competitiveness more generally require approaches
from industry that differ from older, more adversarial
relationships and traditional forms of seeking to
influence governmental policies. And there are lessons
to be learned from other countries. In
Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are
examples
of
collaborative efforts between governmental and
business Japan's MITI is world famous. (Emphasis
supplied)
Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office
of the Corporate Counsel comprises a distinct group
within the managerial structure of all kinds of
organizations. Effectiveness of both long-term and
temporary groups within organizations has been found
to be related to indentifiable factors in the groupcontext interaction such as the groups actively revising
their knowledge of the environment coordinating work
with outsiders, promoting team achievements within
the organization. In general, such external activities are
better predictors of team performance than internal
group processes.
In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of
the corporate lawyer vis-a-vis the managerial mettle of
corporations are challenged. Current research is
seeking ways both to anticipate effective managerial

Page 5

procedures and to understand relationships of financial


liability and insurance considerations. (Emphasis
supplied)

The practice and theory of "law" is not adequate today


to facilitate the relationships needed in trying to make
a global economy work.

Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel,


three factors are apropos:

Organization and Functioning of the Corporate


Counsel's Office. The general counsel has emerged in
the last decade as one of the most vibrant subsets of
the legal profession. The corporate counsel hear
responsibility for key aspects of the firm's strategic
issues, including structuring its global operations,
managing improved relationships with an increasingly
diversified body of employees, managing expanded
liability exposure, creating new and varied interactions
with public decision-makers, coping internally with
more complex make or by decisions.

First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics


has been found an effective tool for new managerial
thinking regarding both planning and pressing
immediate problems. An understanding of the role of
feedback loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow,
enable users to simulate all sorts of systematic
problems physical, economic, managerial, social, and
psychological. New programming techniques now make
the system dynamics principles more accessible to
managers including corporate counsels. (Emphasis
supplied)
Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make
better decisions involving complexity and uncertainty. In
the context of a law department, it can be used to
appraise the settlement value of litigation, aid in
negotiation settlement, and minimize the cost and risk
involved in managing a portfolio of cases. (Emphasis
supplied)
Third Modeling for Negotiation Management.
Computer-based models can be used directly by parties
and mediators in all lands of negotiations. All
integrated set of such tools provide coherent and
effective negotiation support, including hands-on on
instruction in these techniques. A simulation case of an
international joint venture may be used to illustrate the
point.
[Be this as it may,] the organization and management
of the legal function, concern three pointed areas of
consideration, thus:
Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires
special skills that comprise a major part of the general
counsel's responsibilities. They differ from those of
remedial law. Preventive lawyering is concerned with
minimizing the risks of legal trouble and maximizing
legal rights for such legal entities at that time when
transactional or similar facts are being considered and
made.
Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within
which are undertaken those activities of the firm to
which legal consequences attach. It needs to be directly
supportive of this nation's evolving economic and
organizational fabric as firms change to stay
competitive in a global, interdependent environment.

LEGAL PROFESSION

This whole exercise drives home the thesis that


knowing corporate law is not enough to make one a
good general corporate counsel nor to give him a full
sense of how the legal system shapes corporate
activities. And even if the corporate lawyer's aim is not
the understand all of the law's effects on corporate
activities, he must, at the very least, also gain a working
knowledge of the management issues if only to be able
to grasp not only the basic legal "constitution' or
makeup of the modem corporation. "Business Star",
"The Corporate Counsel," April 10, 1991, p. 4).
The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the
bench) is to have more than a passing knowledge of
financial law affecting each aspect of their work. Yet,
many would admit to ignorance of vast tracts of the
financial law territory. What transpires next is a
dilemma of professional security: Will the lawyer admit
ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he feign
understanding and risk exposure? (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President
Corazon C. Aquino to the position of Chairman of the COMELEC
in a letter received by the Secretariat of the Commission on
Appointments on April 25, 1991. Petitioner opposed the
nomination because allegedly Monsod does not possess the
required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of
law for at least ten years.
On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed
the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On
June 18, 1991, he took his oath of office. On the same day, he
assumed office as Chairman of the COMELEC.
Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission
on Appointments of Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a citizen
and taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and
Prohibition praying that said confirmation and the consequent

Page 6

appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on


Elections be declared null and void.

Central Bank of the Philippines, Manila, 1982, p. 11).


(Emphasis supplied)

Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having


passed the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86-55%. He
has been a dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has also been
paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten
years. (p. 124, Rollo)

After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's


Constitution; it lays down the law as far as the loan
transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat of any Loan
Agreement can be compartmentalized into five (5)
fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's
representation; (3) conditions of closing; (4) covenants;
and (5) events of default. (Ibid., p. 13).

After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having


hurdled the bar, Atty. Monsod worked in the law office of his
father. During his stint in the World Bank Group (19631970), Monsod worked as an operations officer for about two
years in Costa Rica and Panama, which involved getting
acquainted with the laws of member-countries negotiating loans
and coordinating legal, economic, and project work of the Bank.
Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he worked with the
Meralco Group, served as chief executive officer of an investment
bank and subsequently of a business conglomerate, and since
1986, has rendered services to various companies as a legal and
economic consultant or chief executive officer. As former
Secretary-General (1986) and National Chairman (1987) of
NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved being knowledgeable in
election law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation
hearings before the Comelec. In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in
his personal capacity and as former Co-Chairman of the Bishops
Businessmen's Conference for Human Development, has worked
with the under privileged sectors, such as the farmer and urban
poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in
affirmative action for the agrarian reform law and lately the
urban land reform bill. Monsod also made use of his legal
knowledge as a member of the Davide Commission, a quast
judicial body, which conducted numerous hearings (1990) and as
a member of the Constitutional Commission (1986-1987), and
Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of Public Officers,
for which he was cited by the President of the Commission,
Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma for "innumerable amendments to
reconcile government functions with individual freedoms and
public accountability and the party-list system for the House of
Representative. (pp. 128-129 Rollo) ( Emphasis supplied)
Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty.
Monsod used to be a member.
In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel
acts as a team, and which is adequately constituted to
meet the various contingencies that arise during a
negotiation. Besides top officials of the Borrower
concerned, there are the legal officer (such as the legal
counsel), the finance manager, and an operations
officer (such as an official involved in negotiating the
contracts) who comprise the members of the team.
(Guillermo V. Soliven, "Loan Negotiating Strategies for
Developing Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No. 2,

LEGAL PROFESSION

In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any


debt restructuring program. For aside from performing
the tasks of legislative drafting and legal advising, they
score national development policies as key factors in
maintaining their countries' sovereignty. (Condensed
from the work paper, entitled "Wanted: Development
Lawyers for Developing Nations," submitted by L.
Michael Hager, regional legal adviser of the United
States Agency for International Development, during
the Session on Law for the Development of Nations at
the Abidjan World Conference in Ivory Coast,
sponsored by the World Peace Through Law Center on
August 26-31, 1973). ( Emphasis supplied)
Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more
so than purely renegotiation policies, demand expertise
in the law of contracts, in legislation and agreement
drafting and in renegotiation. Necessarily, a sovereign
lawyer may work with an international business
specialist or an economist in the formulation of a model
loan agreement. Debt restructuring contract
agreements contain such a mixture of technical
language that they should be carefully drafted and
signed only with the advise of competent counsel in
conjunction with the guidance of adequate technical
support personnel. (See International Law Aspects of
the Philippine External Debts, an unpublished
dissertation, U.S.T. Graduate School of Law, 1987, p.
321). ( Emphasis supplied)
A
critical
aspect
of
sovereign
debt
restructuring/contract construction is the set of terms
and conditions which determines the contractual
remedies for a failure to perform one or more elements
of the contract. A good agreement must not only define
the responsibilities of both parties, but must also state
the recourse open to either party when the other fails
to discharge an obligation. For a compleat debt
restructuring represents a devotion to that principle
which in the ultimate analysis is sine qua non for
foreign loan agreements-an adherence to the rule of
law in domestic and international affairs of whose kind
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
once said: "They carry no banners, they beat no drums;
but where they are, men learn that bustle and bush are

Page 7

not the equal of quiet genius and serene mastery." (See


Ricardo J. Romulo, "The Role of Lawyers in Foreign
Investments," Integrated Bar of the Philippine Journal,
Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and Fourth Quarters, 1977,
p. 265).
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term
Practice of law". particularly the modern concept of law practice,
and taking into consideration the liberal construction intended by
the framers of the Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past work
experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyerentrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a
lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the poor verily more
than satisfy the constitutional requirement that he has been
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service
Commission, 143 SCRA 327, the Court said:
Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and
must be performed by the officer in which it is vested
according to his best lights, the only condition being
that the appointee should possess the qualifications
required by law. If he does, then the appointment
cannot be faulted on the ground that there are others
better qualified who should have been preferred. This
is a political question involving considerations of
wisdom which only the appointing authority can decide.
(emphasis supplied)
No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v.
Civil Service Commission, 171 SCRA 744) where it stated:
It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified,
as in this case, and all the other legal requirements are
satisfied, the Commission has no alternative but to
attest to the appointment in accordance with the Civil
Service Law. The Commission has no authority to
revoke an appointment on the ground that another
person is more qualified for a particular position. It also
has no authority to direct the appointment of a
substitute of its choice. To do so would be an
encroachment on the discretion vested upon the
appointing authority. An appointment is essentially
within the discretionary power of whomsoever it is
vested, subject to the only condition that the appointee
should possess the qualifications required by law. (
Emphasis supplied)
The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at
bar, consists of four (4) stages: (1) nomination; (2) confirmation
by the Commission on Appointments; (3) issuance of a
commission (in the Philippines, upon submission by the
Commission on Appointments of its certificate of confirmation,
the President issues the permanent appointment; and (4)
acceptance e.g., oath-taking, posting of bond, etc. . . . (Lacson v.

LEGAL PROFESSION

Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949; Gonzales, Law on Public


Officers, p. 200)
The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its
consent to the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the
Commission on Elections is mandated by Section 1(2) Sub-Article
C, Article IX of the Constitution which provides:
The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be
appointed by the President with the consent of the
Commission on Appointments for a term of seven years
without reappointment. Of those first appointed, three
Members shall hold office for seven years, two
Members for five years, and the last Members for three
years, without reappointment. Appointment to any
vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of the
predecessor. In no case shall any Member be appointed
or designated in a temporary or acting capacity.
Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion,
suffice it to say that his definition of the practice of law
is the traditional or stereotyped notion of law practice,
as distinguished from the modern concept of the
practice of law, which modern connotation is exactly
what was intended by the eminent framers of the 1987
Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's definition
would require generally a habitual law practice,
perhaps practised two or three times a week and would
outlaw say, law practice once or twice a year for ten
consecutive years. Clearly, this is far from the
constitutional intent.
Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani
Cruz states that in my written opinion, I made use of a definition
of law practice which really means nothing because the
definition says that law practice " . . . is what people ordinarily
mean by the practice of law." True I cited the definition but only
by way of sarcasm as evident from my statement that the
definition of law practice by "traditional areas of law practice is
essentially tautologous" or defining a phrase by means of the
phrase itself that is being defined.
Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers
almost all situations, most individuals, in making use of the law,
or in advising others on what the law means, are actually
practicing law. In that sense, perhaps, but we should not lose
sight of the fact that Mr. Monsod is a lawyer, a member of the
Philippine Bar, who has been practising law for over ten years.
This is different from the acts of persons practising law, without
first becoming lawyers.
Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify
an elected President of the Philippines, say, on the ground that
he lacks one or more qualifications. This matter, I greatly doubt.
For one thing, how can an action or petition be brought against
the President? And even assuming that he is indeed disqualified,

Page 8

how can the action be entertained since he is the incumbent


President?
We now proceed:
The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the
public hearings on Monsod's confirmation, implicitly determined
that he possessed the necessary qualifications as required by
law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in the exercise
of such an acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference
except only upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1
Constitution). Thus, only where such grave abuse of discretion is
clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commission's
judgment. In the instant case, there is no occasion for the
exercise of the Court's corrective power, since no abuse, much
less a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to lack or
excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the
writs prayed, for has been clearly shown.
Additionally, consider the following:

inches away from in front of Samson's eyes. This blinded the


man. Upon hearing of what had happened to her beloved,
Delilah was beside herself with anger, and fuming with righteous
fury, accused the procurator of reneging on his word. The
procurator calmly replied: "Did any blade touch his skin? Did any
blood flow from his veins?" The procurator was clearly relying on
the letter, not the spirit of the agreement.
In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Grio-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., I certify that he voted to dismiss the petition.
(Fernan, C.J.)
Sarmiento, J., is on leave.
Regalado, and Davide, Jr., J., took no part.

(1)
If
the
Commission
on
Appointments rejects a nominee by the
President, may the Supreme Court reverse the
Commission, and thus in effect confirm the
appointment? Clearly, the answer is in the
negative.

ADMISSION TO PRACTICE

(2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the


nominee,
whom
the
Commission
has confirmed? The answer is likewise clear.

EN BANC

(3) If the United States Senate (which is the


confirming body in the U.S. Congress) decides
to confirma Presidential nominee, it would be
incredible that the U.S. Supreme Court would
still reverse the U.S. Senate.
Finally, one significant legal maxim is:
We must interpret not by the letter that
killeth, but by the spirit that giveth life.
Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the
procurator of Judea asked Delilah (who was Samson's beloved)
for help in capturing Samson. Delilah agreed on condition that
No blade shall touch his skin;

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

January 9, 1973
IN THE MATTER OF THE INTEGRATION OF THE BAR OF THE
PHILIPPINES.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
On December 1, 1972, the Commission on Bar
Integration 1 submitted its Report dated November 30, 1972,
with the "earnest recommendation" on the basis of the
said Report and the proceedings had in Administrative Case No.
526 2 of the Court, and "consistently with the views and counsel
received from its [the Commission's] Board of Consultants, as
well as the overwhelming nationwide sentiment of the Philippine
Bench and Bar" that "this Honorable Court ordain the
integration of the Philippine Bar as soon as possible through the
adoption and promulgation of an appropriate Court Rule."

No blood shall flow from his veins.


When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the
procurator placed an iron rod burning white-hot two or three

LEGAL PROFESSION

The petition in Adm. Case No. 526 formally prays the Court to
order the integration of the Philippine Bar, after due hearing,
giving recognition as far as possible and practicable to existing

Page 9

provincial and other local Bar associations. On August 16, 1962,


arguments in favor of as well as in opposition to the petition
were orally expounded before the Court. Written oppositions
were admitted, 3 and all parties were thereafter granted leave to
file written memoranda. 4
Since then, the Court has closely observed and followed
significant developments relative to the matter of the
integration of the Bar in this jurisdiction.
In 1970, convinced from preliminary surveys that there had
grown a strong nationwide sentiment in favor of Bar integration,
the Court created the Commission on Bar Integration for the
purpose of ascertaining the advisability of unifying the Philippine
Bar.
In September, 1971, Congress passed House Bill No. 3277
entitled "An Act Providing for the Integration of the Philippine
Bar, and Appropriating Funds Therefor." The measure was signed
by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on September 17, 1971 and
took effect on the same day as Rep. Act 6397. This law provides
as follows:
SECTION 1. Within two years from the approval of this
Act, the Supreme Court may adopt rules of court to
effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under such
conditions as it shall see fit in order to raise the
standards of the legal profession, improve the
administration of justice, and enable the Bar to
discharge its public responsibility more effectively.
SEC. 2. The sum of five hundred thousand pesos is
hereby appropriated, out of any funds in the National
Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to carry out the
purposes of this Act. Thereafter, such sums as may be
necessary for the same purpose shall be included in the
annual appropriations for the Supreme Court.
SEC. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
The Report of the Commission abounds with argument on the
constitutionality of Bar integration and contains all necessary
factual data bearing on the advisability (practicability and
necessity) of Bar integration. Also embodied therein are the
views, opinions, sentiments, comments and observations of the
rank and file of the Philippine lawyer population relative to Bar
integration, as well as a proposed integration Court Rule drafted
by the Commission and presented to them by that body in a
national Bar plebiscite. There is thus sufficient basis as well as
ample material upon which the Court may decide whether or not
to integrate the Philippine Bar at this time.

(1) Does the Court have the power to integrate the


Philippine Bar?
(2) Would the integration of the Bar be constitutional?
(3) Should the Court ordain the integration of the Bar at
this time?
A resolution of these issues requires, at the outset, a statement
of the meaning of Bar integration. It will suffice, for this purpose,
to adopt the concept given by the Commission on Bar
Integration on pages 3 to 5 of its Report, thus:
Integration of the Philippine Bar means the official
unification of the entire lawyer population of the
Philippines. This requires membership and financial
support (in reasonable amount) of every attorney as
conditions sine qua non to the practice of law and the
retention of his name in the Roll of Attorneys of the
Supreme Court.
The term "Bar" refers to the collectivity of all persons
whose names appear in the Roll of Attorneys. An
Integrated Bar (or Unified Bar) perforce must include all
lawyers.
Complete unification is not possible unless it is decreed
by an entity with power to do so: the State. Bar
integration, therefore, signifies the setting up by
Government authority of a national organization of the
legal profession based on the recognition of the lawyer
as an officer of the court.
Designed to improve the position of the Bar as an
instrumentality of justice and the Rule of Law,
integration fosters cohesion among lawyers, and
ensures, through their own organized action and
participation, the promotion of the objectives of the
legal profession, pursuant to the principle of maximum
Bar autonomy with minimum supervision and
regulation by the Supreme Court.
The purposes of an integrated Bar, in general, are:
(1) Assist in the administration of justice;
(2) Foster and maintain on the part of its members high
ideals of integrity, learning, professional competence,
public service and conduct;
(3) Safeguard the professional interests of its members;

The following are the pertinent issues:


(4) Cultivate among its members a spirit of cordiality
and brotherhood;

LEGAL PROFESSION

Page 10

(5) Provide a forum for the discussion of law,


jurisprudence, law reform, pleading, practice and
procedure, and the relations of the Bar to the Bench
and to the public, and publish information relating
thereto;

the standards of the profession throughout the


country;

(6) Encourage and foster legal education;

(12) Create law centers and establish law libraries for


legal research;

(7) Promote a continuing program of legal research in


substantive and adjective law, and make reports and
recommendations thereon; and
(8) Enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility
effectively.
Integration of the Bar will, among other things, make it
possible for the legal profession to:
(1) Render more effective assistance in maintaining the
Rule of Law;
(2) Protect lawyers and litigants against the abuse of
tyrannical judges and prosecuting officers;
(3) Discharge, fully and properly, its responsibility in the
disciplining and/or removal of incompetent and
unworthy judges and prosecuting officers;
(4) Shield the judiciary, which traditionally cannot
defend itself except within its own forum, from the
assaults that politics and self-interest may level at it,
and assist it to maintain its integrity, impartiality and
independence;
(5) Have an effective voice in the selection of judges
and prosecuting officers;
(6) Prevent the unauthorized practice of law, and break
up any monopoly of local practice maintained through
influence or position;
(7) Establish welfare funds for families of disabled and
deceased lawyers;
(8) Provide placement services, and establish legal aid
offices and set up lawyer reference services throughout
the country so that the poor may not lack competent
legal service;

(11) Enforce rigid ethical standards, and promulgate


minimum fees schedules;

(13) Conduct campaigns to educate the people on their


legal rights and obligations, on the importance of
preventive legal advice, and on the functions and duties
of the Filipino lawyer; and
(14) Generate and maintain pervasive and meaningful
country-wide involvement of the lawyer population in
the solution of the multifarious problems that afflict
the nation.
Anent the first issue, the Court is of the view that it may
integrate the Philippine Bar in the exercise of its power, under
Article VIII, Sec. 13 of the Constitution, "to promulgate rules
concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, and
the admission to the practice of law." Indeed, the power to
integrate is an inherent part of the Court's constitutional
authority over the Bar. In providing that "the Supreme Court may
adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine
Bar," Republic Act 6397 neither confers a new power nor
restricts the Court's inherent power, but is a mere legislative
declaration that the integration of the Bar will promote public
interest or, more specifically, will "raise the standards of the
legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and
enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more
effectively."
Resolution of the second issue whether the unification of the
Bar would be constitutional hinges on the effects of Bar
integration on the lawyer's constitutional rights of freedom of
association and freedom of speech, and on the nature of the
dues exacted from him.
The Court approvingly quotes the following pertinent discussion
made by the Commission on Bar Integration pages 44 to 49 of its
Report:
Constitutionality of Bar Integration
Judicial Pronouncements.

(9) Distribute educational and informational materials


that are difficult to obtain in many of our provinces;

In all cases where the validity of Bar integration


measures has been put in issue, the Courts have
upheld their constitutionality.

(10) Devise and maintain a program of continuing legal


education for practising attorneys in order to elevate

The judicial pronouncements support this reasoning:

LEGAL PROFESSION

Page 11

Courts have inherent power to supervise and


regulate the practice of law.
The practice of law is not a vested right but a
privilege; a privilege, moreover, clothed with public
interest, because a lawyer owes duties not only to his
client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the
courts, and to the nation; and takes part in one of the
most important functions of the State, the
administration of justice, as an officer of the court.
Because the practice of law is privilege clothed with
public interest, it is far and just that the exercise of
that privilege be regulated to assure compliance with
the lawyer's public responsibilities.
These public responsibilities can best be discharged
through collective action; but there can be no
collective action without an organized body; no
organized body can operate effectively without
incurring expenses; therefore, it is fair and just that all
attorneys be required to contribute to the support of
such organized body; and, given existing Bar
conditions, the most efficient means of doing so is by
integrating the Bar through a rule of court that
requires all lawyers to pay annual dues to the
Integrated Bar.
1. Freedom of Association.
To compel a lawyer to be a member of an integrated
Bar is not violative of his constitutional freedom to
associate (or the corollary right not to associate).
Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any
group of which he is not already a member. He
became a member of the Bar when he passed the Bar
examinations. All that integration actually does is to
provide an official national organization for the welldefined but unorganized and incohesive group of
which every lawyer is already a member.
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to
associate with anyone. He is free to attend or not
attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or
vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses.
The body compulsion to which he is subjected is the
payment of annual dues.
Otherwise stated, membership in the Unified Bar
imposes only the duty to pay dues in reasonable
amount. The issue therefore, is a question of
compelled financial support of group activities, not
involuntary membership in any other aspect.

LEGAL PROFESSION

The greater part of Unified Bar activities serves the


function of elevating the educational and ethical
standards of the Bar to the end of improving the
quality of the legal service available to the people. The
Supreme Court, in order to further the State's
legitimate interest in elevating the quality of
professional services, may require that the cost of
improving the profession in this fashion be shared by
the subjects and beneficiaries of the regulatory
program the lawyers.
Assuming that Bar integration does compel a lawyer
to be a member of the Integrated Bar, such
compulsion is justified as an exercise of the police
power of the State. The legal profession has long been
regarded as a proper subject of legislative regulation
and control. Moreover, the inherent power of the
Supreme Court to regulate the Bar includes the
authority to integrate the Bar.
2. Regulatory Fee.
For the Court to prescribe dues to be paid by the
members does not mean that the Court levies a tax.
A membership fee in the Integrated Bar is an exaction
for regulation, while the purpose of a tax is revenue. If
the Court has inherent power to regulate the Bar, it
follows that as an incident to regulation, it may
impose a membership fee for that purpose. It would
not be possible to push through an Integrated Bar
program without means to defray the concomitant
expenses. The doctrine of implied powers necessarily
includes the power to impose such an exaction.
The only limitation upon the State's power to regulate
the Bar is that the regulation does not impose an
unconstitutional burden. The public interest promoted
by the integration of the Bar far outweighs the
inconsequential inconvenience to a member that
might result from his required payment of annual
dues.
3. Freedom of Speech.
A lawyer is free, as he has always been, to voice his
views on any subject in any manner he wishes, even
though such views be opposed to positions taken by
the Unified Bar.
For the Integrated Bar to use a member's due to
promote measures to which said member is opposed,
would not nullify or adversely affect his freedom of
speech.

Page 12

Since a State may constitutionally condition the right


to practice law upon membership in the Integrated
Bar, it is difficult to understand why it should become
unconstitutional for the Bar to use the member's dues
to fulfill the very purposes for which it was
established.

Upon the other hand, it has been variously argued that in the
event of integration, Government authority will dominate the
Bar; local Bar associations will be weakened; cliquism will be the
inevitable result; effective lobbying will not be possible; the Bar
will become an impersonal Bar; and politics will intrude into its
affairs.

The objection would make every Governmental


exaction the material of a "free speech" issue. Even
the income tax would be suspect. The objection would
carry us to lengths that have never been dreamed of.
The conscientious objector, if his liberties were to be
thus extended, might refuse to contribute taxes in
furtherance of war or of any other end condemned by
his conscience as irreligious or immoral. The right of
private judgment has never yet been exalted above
the powers and the compulsion of the agencies of
Government.

It is noteworthy, however, that these and other evils prophesied


by opponents of Bar integration have failed to materialize in over
fifty years of Bar integration experience in England, Canada and
the United States. In all the jurisdictions where the Integrated
Bar has been tried, none of the abuses or evils feared has arisen;
on the other hand, it has restored public confidence in the Bar,
enlarged professional consciousness, energized the Bar's
responsibilities to the public, and vastly improved the
administration of justice.

4. Fair to All Lawyers.


Bar integration is not unfair to lawyers already
practising because although the requirement to pay
annual dues is a new regulation, it will give the
members of the Bar a new system which they hitherto
have not had and through which, by proper work, they
will receive benefits they have not heretofore
enjoyed, and discharge their public responsibilities in a
more effective manner than they have been able to do
in the past. Because the requirement to pay dues is a
valid exercise of regulatory power by the Court,
because it will apply equally to all lawyers, young and
old, at the time Bar integration takes effect, and
because it is a new regulation in exchange for new
benefits, it is not retroactive, it is not unequal, it is not
unfair.
To resolve the third and final issue whether the Court should
ordain the integration of the Bar at this time requires a careful
overview of the practicability and necessity as well as the
advantages and disadvantages of Bar integration.
In many other jurisdictions, notably in England, Canada and the
United States, Bar integration has yielded the following benefits:
(1) improved discipline among the members of the Bar; (2)
greater influence and ascendancy of the Bar; (3) better and more
meaningful participation of the individual lawyer in the activities
of the Integrated Bar; (4) greater Bar facilities and services; (5)
elimination of unauthorized practice; (6) avoidance of costly
membership campaigns; (7) establishment of an official status
for the Bar; (8) more cohesive profession; and (9) better and
more effective discharge by the Bar of its obligations and
responsibilities to its members, to the courts, and to the public.
No less than these salutary consequences are envisioned and in
fact expected from the unification of the Philippine Bar.

LEGAL PROFESSION

How do the Filipino lawyers themselves regard Bar integration?


The official statistics compiled by the Commission on Bar
integration show that in the national poll recently conducted by
the Commission in the matter of the integration of the Philippine
Bar, of a total of 15,090 lawyers from all over the archipelago
who have turned in their individual responses, 14,555 (or 96.45
per cent) voted in favor of Bar integration, while only 378 (or
2.51 per cent) voted against it, and 157 (or 1.04 per cent) are
non-commital. In addition, a total of eighty (80) local Bar
association and lawyers' groups all over the Philippines have
submitted resolutions and other expressions of unqualified
endorsement and/or support for Bar integration, while not a
single local Bar association or lawyers' group has expressed
opposed position thereto. Finally, of the 13,802 individual
lawyers who cast their plebiscite ballots on the proposed
integration Court Rule drafted by the Commission, 12,855 (or
93.14 per cent) voted in favor thereof, 662 (or 4.80 per cent)
vote against it, and 285 (or 2.06 per cent) are noncommittal. 5 All these clearly indicate an overwhelming
nationwide demand for Bar integration at this time.
The Court is fully convinced, after a thoroughgoing conscientious
study of all the arguments adduced in Adm. Case No. 526 and
the authoritative materials and the mass of factual data
contained in the exhaustive Report of the Commission on Bar
Integration, that the integration of the Philippine Bar is
"perfectly constitutional and legally unobjectionable," within the
context of contemporary conditions in the Philippines, has
become an imperative means to raise the standards of the legal
profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the
Bar to discharge its public responsibility fully and effectively.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court, by virtue of the power vested in it by
Section 13 of Article VIII of the Constitution, hereby ordains the
integration of the Bar of the Philippines in accordance with the
attached COURT RULE, effective on January 16, 1973.
Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castillo, Fernando,
Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur.

Page 13

B.M. No. 1678

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

the Philippines, conditioned on his retaking the lawyers oath to


remind him of his duties and responsibilities as a member of the
Philippine bar.

EN BANC

We approve the recommendation of the Office of the Bar


Confidant with certain modifications.

December 17, 2007

PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW,


BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner.
RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:
This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M.
Dacanay for leave to resume the practice of law.
Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He
practiced law until he migrated to Canada in December 1998 to
seek medical attention for his ailments. He subsequently applied
for Canadian citizenship to avail of Canadas free medical aid
program. His application was approved and he became a
Canadian citizen in May 2004.
On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship
Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003), petitioner reacquired
his Philippine citizenship.1 On that day, he took his oath of
allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate
General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he returned to the
Philippines and now intends to resume his law practice. There is
a question, however, whether petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay
lost his membership in the Philippine bar when he gave up his
Philippine citizenship in May 2004. Thus, this petition.
In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the Bar
Confidant cites Section 2, Rule 138 (Attorneys and Admission to
Bar) of the Rules of Court:
SECTION 2. Requirements for all applicants for
admission to the bar. Every applicant for admission as
a member of the bar must be a citizen of the
Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good
moral character, and a resident of the Philippines; and
must produce before the Supreme Court satisfactory
evidence of good moral character, and that no charges
against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed
or are pending in any court in the Philippines.
Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant opines
that, by virtue of his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, in
2006, petitioner has again met all the qualifications and has
none of the disqualifications for membership in the bar. It
recommends that he be allowed to resume the practice of law in

LEGAL PROFESSION

The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.2 It is


so delicately affected with public interest that it is both a power
and a duty of the State (through this Court) to control and
regulate it in order to protect and promote the public welfare. 3
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of
the highest degree of morality, faithful observance of the rules
of the legal profession, compliance with the mandatory
continuing legal education requirement and payment of
membership fees to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
are the conditions required for membership in good standing in
the bar and for enjoying the privilege to practice law. Any breach
by a lawyer of any of these conditions makes him unworthy of
the trust and confidence which the courts and clients repose in
him for the continued exercise of his professional privilege.4
Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:
SECTION 1. Who may practice law. Any person
heretofore duly admitted as a member of the bar, or
thereafter admitted as such in accordance with the
provisions of this Rule, and who is in good and regular
standing, is entitled to practice law.
Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the
Philippine bar in accordance with the statutory requirements
and who is in good and regular standing is entitled to practice
law.
Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of
Court mandates that an applicant for admission to the bar be a
citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of
good moral character and a resident of the Philippines. 5 He must
also produce before this Court satisfactory evidence of good
moral character and that no charges against him, involving moral
turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the
Philippines.6
Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as
furnishing satisfactory proof of educational, moral and other
qualifications;7 passing the bar examinations;8 taking the
lawyers oath9 and signing the roll of attorneys and receiving
from the clerk of court of this Court a certificate of the license to
practice.10
The second requisite for the practice of law membership in
good standing is a continuing requirement. This means
continued membership and, concomitantly, payment of annual

Page 14

membership dues in the IBP;11 payment of the annual


professional tax;12 compliance with the mandatory continuing
legal education requirement;13 faithful observance of the rules
and ethics of the legal profession and being continually subject
to judicial disciplinary control.14
Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino
citizenship still practice law in the Philippines? No.
The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in
the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens save in cases
prescribed by law.15 Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for
admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the
Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege to engage in the
practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino
citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice law in
the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to
foreigners.16
The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of
naturalization as a citizen of another country but subsequently
reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because "all Philippine
citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed
not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions
of [RA 9225]."17Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a
citizen of another country is deemed never to have lost his
Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with RA
9225. Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his
membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume
law practice accrues.

pledge to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the


Philippines.
Compliance with these conditions will restore his good standing
as a member of the Philippine bar.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Benjamin M. Dacanay is
hereby GRANTED, subject to compliance with the conditions
stated above and submission of proof of such compliance to the
Bar Confidant, after which he may retake his oath as a member
of the Philippine bar.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, C.J., Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, AustriaMartinez, Carpio-Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Velasco,
Jr., Nachura, Reyes, Leonardo-de Castro, JJ., concur.
Quisumbing, J., on leave.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
BAR MATTER No. 914 October 1, 1999
RE: APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION TO THE PHILIPPINE BAR,
vs.

Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal


profession in the Philippines and he reacquires his Filipino
citizenship pursuant to its provisions "(he) shall apply with the
proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such
practice."18 Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires
Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law
practice, he must first secure from this Court the authority to do
so, conditioned on:
(a) the updating and payment in full of the annual
membership dues in the IBP;
(b) the payment of professional tax;
(c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of
mandatory continuing legal education; this is specially
significant to refresh the applicant/petitioners
knowledge of Philippine laws and update him of legal
developments and
(d) the retaking of the lawyers oath which will not
only remind him of his duties and responsibilities as a
lawyer and as an officer of the Court, but also renew his

LEGAL PROFESSION

VICENTE D. CHING, applicant.


RESOLUTION
KAPUNAN, J.:
Can a legitimate child born under the 1935 Constitution of a
Filipino mother and an alien father validly elect Philippine
citizenship fourteen (14) years after he has reached the age of
majority? This is the question sought to be resolved in the
present case involving the application for admission to the
Philippine Bar of Vicente D. Ching.
The facts of this case are as follows:
Vicente D. Ching, the legitimate son of the spouses Tat Ching, a
Chinese citizen, and Prescila A. Dulay, a Filipino, was born in
Francia West, Tubao, La Union on 11 April 1964. Since his birth,
Ching has resided in the Philippines.
On 17 July 1998, Ching, after having completed a Bachelor of
Laws course at the St. Louis University in Baguio City, filed an

Page 15

application to take the 1998 Bar Examinations. In a Resolution of


this Court, dated 1 September 1998, he was allowed to take the
Bar Examinations, subject to the condition that he must submit
to the Court proof of his Philippine citizenship.
In compliance with the above resolution, Ching submitted on 18
November 1998, the following documents:
1. Certification, dated 9 June 1986, issued by the Board
of Accountancy of the Professional Regulations
Commission showing that Ching is a certified public
accountant;
2. Voter Certification, dated 14 June 1997, issued by
Elizabeth B. Cerezo, Election Officer of the Commission
on Elections (COMELEC) in Tubao La Union showing
that Ching is a registered voter of the said place; and
3. Certification, dated 12 October 1998, also issued by
Elizabeth B. Cerezo, showing that Ching was elected as
a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Tubao, La
Union during the 12 May 1992 synchronized elections.
On 5 April 1999, the results of the 1998 Bar Examinations were
released and Ching was one of the successful Bar examinees. The
oath-taking of the successful Bar examinees was scheduled on 5
May 1999. However, because of the questionable status of
Ching's citizenship, he was not allowed to take his oath. Pursuant
to the resolution of this Court, dated 20 April 1999, he was
required to submit further proof of his citizenship. In the same
resolution, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) was required
to file a comment on Ching's petition for admission to the bar
and on the documents evidencing his Philippine citizenship.
The OSG filed its comment on 8 July 1999, stating that Ching,
being the "legitimate child of a Chinese father and a Filipino
mother born under the 1935 Constitution was a Chinese citizen
and continued to be so, unless upon reaching the age of majority
he elected Philippine citizenship" 1 in strict compliance with the
provisions of Commonwealth Act No. 625 entitled "An Act
Providing for the Manner in which the Option to Elect Philippine
Citizenship shall be Declared by a Person Whose Mother is a
Filipino Citizen." The OSG adds that "(w)hat he acquired at best
was only an inchoate Philippine citizenship which he could
perfect by election upon reaching the age of majority." 2 In this
regard, the OSG clarifies that "two (2) conditions must concur in
order that the election of Philippine citizenship may be effective,
namely: (a) the mother of the person making the election must
be a citizen of the Philippines; and (b) said election must be
made upon reaching the age of majority." 3 The OSG then
explains the meaning of the phrase "upon reaching the age of
majority:"
The clause "upon reaching the age of majority" has
been construed to mean a reasonable time after

LEGAL PROFESSION

reaching the age of majority which had been


interpreted by the Secretary of Justice to be three (3)
years (VELAYO, supra at p. 51 citing Op., Sec. of Justice
No. 70, s. 1940, Feb. 27, 1940). Said period may be
extended under certain circumstances, as when a (sic)
person concerned has always considered himself a
Filipino (ibid., citing Op. Nos. 355 and 422, s. 1955; 3,
12, 46, 86 and 97, s. 1953). But in Cuenco, it was held
that an election done after over seven (7) years was not
made within a reasonable time.
In conclusion, the OSG points out that Ching has not formally
elected Philippine citizenship and, if ever he does, it would
already be beyond the "reasonable time" allowed by present
jurisprudence. However, due to the peculiar circumstances
surrounding Ching's case, the OSG recommends the relaxation of
the standing rule on the construction of the phrase "reasonable
period" and the allowance of Ching to elect Philippine citizenship
in accordance with C.A. No. 625 prior to taking his oath as a
member of the Philippine Bar.
On 27 July 1999, Ching filed a Manifestation, attaching therewith
his Affidavit of Election of Philippine Citizenship and his Oath of
Allegiance, both dated 15 July 1999. In his Manifestation, Ching
states:
1. I have always considered myself as a Filipino;
2. I was registered as a Filipino and consistently
declared myself as one in my school records and other
official documents;
3. I am practicing a profession (Certified Public
Accountant) reserved for Filipino citizens;
4. I participated in electoral process[es] since the time I
was eligible to vote;
5. I had served the people of Tubao, La Union as a
member of the Sangguniang Bayan from 1992 to 1995;
6. I elected Philippine citizenship on July 15, 1999 in
accordance with Commonwealth Act No. 625;
7. My election was expressed in a statement signed and
sworn to by me before a notary public;
8. I accompanied my election of Philippine citizenship
with the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the
Government of the Philippines;
9. I filed my election of Philippine citizenship and my
oath of allegiance to (sic) the Civil Registrar of Tubao La
Union, and

Page 16

10. I paid the amount of TEN PESOS (Ps. 10.00) as filing


fees.
Since Ching has already elected Philippine citizenship on 15 July
1999, the question raised is whether he has elected Philippine
citizenship within a "reasonable time." In the affirmative,
whether his citizenship by election retroacted to the time he
took the bar examination.
When Ching was born in 1964, the governing charter was the
1935 Constitution. Under Article IV, Section 1(3) of the 1935
Constitution, the citizenship of a legitimate child born of a
Filipino mother and an alien father followed the citizenship of
the father, unless, upon reaching the age of majority, the child
elected Philippine citizenship. 4 This right to elect Philippine
citizenship was recognized in the 1973 Constitution when it
provided that "(t)hose who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant
to the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and
thirty-five" are citizens of the Philippines. 5 Likewise, this
recognition by the 1973 Constitution was carried over to the
1987 Constitution which states that "(t)hose born before January
17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship
upon reaching the age of majority" are Philippine citizens. 6 It
should be noted, however, that the 1973 and 1987
Constitutional provisions on the election of Philippine citizenship
should not be understood as having a curative effect on any
irregularity in the acquisition of citizenship for those covered by
the 1935 Constitution. 7 If the citizenship of a person was subject
to challenge under the old charter, it remains subject to
challenge under the new charter even if the judicial challenge
had not been commenced before the effectivity of the new
Constitution. 8
C.A. No. 625 which was enacted pursuant to Section 1(3), Article
IV of the 1935 Constitution, prescribes the procedure that should
be followed in order to make a valid election of Philippine
citizenship. Under Section 1 thereof, legitimate children born of
Filipino mothers may elect Philippine citizenship by expressing
such intention "in a statement to be signed and sworn to by the
party concerned before any officer authorized to administer
oaths, and shall be filed with the nearest civil registry. The said
party shall accompany the aforesaid statement with the oath of
allegiance to the Constitution and the Government of the
Philippines."
However, the 1935 Constitution and C.A. No. 625 did not
prescribe a time period within which the election of Philippine
citizenship should be made. The 1935 Charter only provides that
the election should be made "upon reaching the age of
majority." The age of majority then commenced upon reaching
twenty-one (21) years. 9 In the opinions of the Secretary of
Justice on cases involving the validity of election of Philippine
citizenship, this dilemma was resolved by basing the time period
on the decisions of this Court prior to the effectivity of the 1935
Constitution. In these decisions, the proper period for electing
Philippine citizenship was, in turn, based on the pronouncements

LEGAL PROFESSION

of the Department of State of the United States Government to


the effect that the election should be made within a "reasonable
time" after attaining the age of majority. 10 The phrase
"reasonable time" has been interpreted to mean that the
election should be made within three (3) years from reaching the
age
of
majority. 11 However, we held in Cuenco vs. Secretary of
Justice, 12 that the three (3) year period is not an inflexible rule.
We said:
It is true that this clause has been construed to mean a
reasonable period after reaching the age of majority,
and that the Secretary of Justice has ruled that three (3)
years is the reasonable time to elect Philippine
citizenship under the constitutional provision adverted
to above, which period may be extended under certain
circumstances, as when the person concerned has
always considered himself a Filipino. 13
However, we cautioned in Cuenco that the extension of the
option to elect Philippine citizenship is not indefinite:
Regardless of the foregoing, petitioner was born on
February 16, 1923. He became of age on February 16,
1944. His election of citizenship was made on May 15,
1951, when he was over twenty-eight (28) years of age,
or over seven (7) years after he had reached the age of
majority. It is clear that said election has not been
made "upon reaching the age of majority." 14
In the present case, Ching, having been born on 11 April 1964,
was already thirty-five (35) years old when he complied with the
requirements of C.A. No. 625 on 15 June 1999, or over fourteen
(14) years after he had reached the age of majority. Based on the
interpretation of the phrase "upon reaching the age of majority,"
Ching's election was clearly beyond, by any reasonable yardstick,
the allowable period within which to exercise the privilege. It
should be stated, in this connection, that the special
circumstances invoked by Ching, i.e., his continuous and
uninterrupted stay in the Philippines and his being a certified
public accountant, a registered voter and a former elected public
official, cannot vest in him Philippine citizenship as the law
specifically lays down the requirements for acquisition of
Philippine citizenship by election.
Definitely, the so-called special circumstances cannot constitute
what Ching erroneously labels as informal election of citizenship.
Ching cannot find a refuge in the case of In re: Florencio
Mallare, 15 the pertinent portion of which reads:
And even assuming arguendo that Ana Mallare were
(sic) legally married to an alien, Esteban's exercise of
the right of suffrage when he came of age, constitutes a
positive act of election of Philippine citizenship. It has
been established that Esteban Mallare was a registered
voter as of April 14, 1928, and that as early as 1925

Page 17

(when he was about 22 years old), Esteban was already


participating in the elections and campaigning for
certain candidate[s]. These acts are sufficient to show
his preference for Philippine citizenship.16

citizenship as they were already citizens, we apply the


In Re Mallare rule.

Ching's reliance on Mallare is misplaced. The facts and


circumstances obtaining therein are very different from those in
the present case, thus, negating its applicability. First,
EstebanMallare was born before the effectivity of the 1935
Constitution and the enactment of C.A. No. 625. Hence, the
requirements and procedures prescribed under the 1935
Constitution and C.A. No. 625 for electing Philippine citizenship
would not be applicable to him. Second, the ruling
in Mallare was an obiter since, as correctly pointed out by the
OSG, it was not necessary for Esteban Mallare to elect Philippine
citizenship because he was already a Filipino, he being a natural
child of a Filipino mother. In this regard, the Court stated:

The filing of sworn statement or formal declaration is a


requirement for those who still have to elect
citizenship. For those already Filipinos when the time to
elect came up, there are acts of deliberate choice which
cannot be less binding. Entering a profession open only
to Filipinos, serving in public office where citizenship is
a qualification, voting during election time, running for
public office, and other categorical acts of similar
nature are themselves formal manifestations for these
persons.

Esteban Mallare, natural child of Ana Mallare, a Filipina,


is therefore himself a Filipino, and no other act would
be necessary to confer on him all the rights and
privileges attached to Philippine citizenship (U.S. vs.
Ong Tianse, 29 Phil. 332; Santos Co vs. Government of
the Philippine Islands, 42 Phil. 543, Serra vs. Republic, L4223, May 12, 1952, Sy Quimsuan vs. Republic, L-4693,
Feb. 16, 1953; Pitallano vs. Republic, L-5111, June 28,
1954). Neither could any act be taken on the erroneous
belief that he is a non-filipino divest him of the
citizenship privileges to which he is rightfully entitled. 17
The ruling in Mallare was reiterated and further elaborated in Co
vs. Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives, 18 where
we held:
We have jurisprudence that defines "election" as both a
formal and an informal process.
In the case of In re: Florencio Mallare (59 SCRA 45
[1974]), the Court held that the exercise of the right of
suffrage and the participation in election exercises
constitute a positive act of election of Philippine
citizenship. In the exact pronouncement of the Court,
we held:
Esteban's exercise of the right of suffrage
when he came of age constitutes a positive act
of Philippine citizenship. (p. 52: emphasis
supplied)
The private respondent did more than merely exercise his right
of suffrage. He has established his life here in the Philippines.
For those in the peculiar situation of the respondent
who cannot be excepted to have elected Philippine

LEGAL PROFESSION

xxx xxx xxx

An election of Philippine citizenship presupposes that


the person electing is an alien. Or his status is doubtful
because he is a national of two countries. There is no
doubt in this case about Mr. Ong's being a Filipino
when he turned twenty-one (21).
We repeat that any election of Philippine citizenship on
the part of the private respondent would not only have
been superfluous but it would also have resulted in an
absurdity. How can a Filipino citizen elect Philippine
citizenship? 19
The Court, like the OSG, is sympathetic with the plight of Ching.
However, even if we consider the special circumstances in the
life of Ching like his having lived in the Philippines all his life and
his consistent belief that he is a Filipino, controlling statutes and
jurisprudence constrain us to disagree with the recommendation
of the OSG. Consequently, we hold that Ching failed to validly
elect Philippine citizenship. The span of fourteen (14) years that
lapsed from the time he reached the age of majority until he
finally expressed his intention to elect Philippine citizenship is
clearly way beyond the contemplation of the requirement of
electing "upon reaching the age of majority." Moreover, Ching
has offered no reason why he delayed his election of Philippine
citizenship. The prescribed procedure in electing Philippine
citizenship is certainly not a tedious and painstaking process. All
that is required of the elector is to execute an affidavit of
election of Philippine citizenship and, thereafter, file the same
with the nearest civil registry. Ching's unreasonable and
unexplained delay in making his election cannot be simply
glossed over.
Philippine citizenship can never be treated like a commodity that
can be claimed when needed and suppressed when
convenient. 20 One who is privileged to elect Philippine
citizenship has only an inchoate right to such citizenship. As such,
he should avail of the right with fervor, enthusiasm and
promptitude. Sadly, in this case, Ching slept on his opportunity
to elect Philippine citizenship and, as a result. this golden
privilege slipped away from his grasp.

Page 18

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court Resolves to DENY


Vicente D. Ching's application for admission to the Philippine
Bar.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza,
Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, GonzagaReyes and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

DUTIES AND PRIVILEGES OF A LAWYER


SECOND DIVISION
[A. C. No. 5305. March 17, 2003]
MARCIANO P. BRION, JR., petitioner, vs. FRANCISCO F.
BRILLANTES, JR., respondent.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
In this petition for disbarment, complainant Marciano
Brion, Jr., charges the respondent, Atty. Francisco Brillantes, Jr.,
of having willfully violated a lawful order of this Court in A.M.
No. MTJ-92-706, entitled Lupo Almodiel Atienza v. Judge
Francisco F. Brillantes, Jr.[1] The decretal portion of our resolution
in Atienza reads:
WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the service with
forfeiture of all leave and retirement benefits and with prejudice
to reappointment in any branch, instrumentality or agency of the
government, including government-owned and controlled
corporations. This decision is immediately executory.

Petitioner contends that while both consultancy


agreements contained a proviso to the effect that nothing
therein should be construed as establishing an employeremployee relationship between LWUA and respondent, the
inclusion of this proviso was only a ploy to circumvent our order
barring respondent from appointment to a government agency.
Petitioner points out in reality, respondent enjoys the same
rights and privileges as a regular employee, to wit:[3]
1. Issuance of LWUA properties such as a cellular phone
with accessories, as evidenced by the covering Property Issue
Slips with respondent signing as Accountable Employee;[4]
2. Official travel to various places in the country as shown
by Reports of Authorized Travel kept by LWUAs General Services
Division[5] and Report of Travel accomplished by respondent
himself;[6]
3. Designation as supervising officer over other LWUA
employees as brought to light by written instructions personally
signed by respondent;[7]
4. Attendance in water district conventions and meetings
held in various provinces;[8]
5. Membership in several sensitive LWUA committees such
as the Prequalification, Bids, and Awards Committee (PBAC),
Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Committee, among others, with
receipt of corresponding honoraria as borne out by various
Disbursement Vouchers;[9]
6. Sitting at meetings of the LWUA Board of Trustees as
evidenced by the minutes of such meetings;[10] and
7. Receipt of Productivity Incentive Bonus in 1999.
Petitioner submits that all of the foregoing constitute
deceitful conduct, gross misconduct, and willful disobedience to
a decree of this Court, and show that respondent is unfit to be a
member of the Bar.

Respondents dismissal in the aforesaid case was ordered


after he was found guilty of Gross Immorality and Appearance of
Impropriety during his incumbency as presiding judge of the
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 20, Manila.

In his comment,[11] respondent admits the existence of the


Legal Consultancy Contract as well as the Special Consultancy
Contract. However, he raises the affirmative defense that under
Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 27,
Series of 1993, services rendered pursuant to a consultancy
contract shall not be considered government services, and
therefore, are not covered by Civil Service Law, rules and
regulations.

Petitioner now avers that respondent violated our decree


of perpetual disqualification imposed upon him from assuming
any post in government service, including any posts in
government-owned and controlled corporations, when he
accepted a legal consultancy post at the Local Water Utilities
Administration (LWUA), from 1998 to 2000. Said consultancy
included an appointment by LWUA as 6th member of the Board
of Directors of the Urdaneta (Pangasinan) Water District. Upon
expiration of the legal consultancy agreement, this was
subsequently renewed as a Special Consultancy Agreement.

Further, says respondent, according to the same


Memorandum Circular issued by the Commission, consultancy
contracts do not have to be submitted to the Commission for
approval. With respect to his designation as the 6th Member of
the Board of Directors of the Urdaneta Water District,
respondent reasons out that the same is not a reappointment,
which is prohibited by our ruling in Atienza, as said designation is
not an organic appointment to a LWUA plantilla position. Hence,
according to respondent, the CSC need not pass approval upon
his temporary designation.

SO ORDERED.[2]

LEGAL PROFESSION

Page 19

Respondent also argues that all the members of the


Urdaneta Water District Board, especially the 6th Member, who
comes from the LWUA, assumed such functions merely by virtue
of a designation and only in addition to their regular duties. In
any event, says respondent, his designation as 6th Member was
revoked in April 2000 and the Special Consultancy Contract was
pre-terminated on April 30, 2000. It has never been renewed
since then. With respect to his use of LWUA properties,
respondent admits receiving the cellular phone unit but insists
that he merely borrowed it from one Solomon Badoy, a former
LWUA Board of Trustees Member.
In our Resolution of February 19, 2001, we referred this
case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report and recommendation. The IBP Commission
on Bar Discipline found that respondent willfully violated a lawful
order of this Court and recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year and fined
ten thousand (P10,000) pesos.
There is no question that the LWUA is a governmentowned and controlled corporation, created by virtue of
Presidential Decree No. 198.[12] As such, our ruling in
the Atienza case, A.M. No. MTJ-92-706, which categorically
prohibits respondents appointment to any position in any
government-owned and controlled corporation, clearly
encompasses and extends to LWUA positions.
In the instant case the respondent does not deny the
petitioners allegations.[13] Instead, he offers the existence of
Memorandum Circular No. 27, Series of 1993 (MC No. 27, s.
1993) to exculpate himself from the charge against
him. However, it does not escape our attention that the very
Memorandum Circular that respondent cites before this Court
provides that the duties enumerated in the consultancy
contract are mainly advisory in nature.[14]
[15]

Without belaboring the definition of advisory, it


appears obvious to us that the tasks and duties that respondent
performed pursuant to the consultancy contract cannot, by any
stretch of imagination, be deemed merely advisory in nature.
An adviser does not exercise supervisory powers over
LWUA employees nor does he issue written instructions to them.
An adviser is not entitled to a seat in such vital LWUA
committees like PBAC and the BOT Committee. Also,
respondents continuous receipt of honoraria for sitting as a
member of certain LWUA Committees, particularly the BOT
Committee, belies his claim that he is a mere consultant for the
LWUA. The evidence on record clearly shows that the LWUA
Office Order implementing National Compensation Circular No.
75-95[16] refers to payments of honoraria to officials/employees
in consideration of services rendered.
Most telling, in our view, is respondents acceptance of his
1998 Productivity Incentive Bonus (PIB). The Board of Trustees
Resolution No. 26, Series of 1999, of the LWUA,[17] which
governed the release of the PIB, limited the entitlement to said

LEGAL PROFESSION

bonus only to officials and employees (permanent,


temporary, casual, or contractual) of LWUA.
In sum, we find that for all intents and purposes,
respondent performed duties and functions of a non-advisory
nature, which pertain to a contractual employee of LWUA. As
stated bypetitioner in his reply, [18] there is a difference
between a consultant hired on a contractual basis (which is
governed by CSC M.C. No. 27, s. 1993) and a contractual
employee (whose appointment is governed, among others, by
the CSC Omnibus Rules on Appointment and other Personnel
Actions). By performing duties and functions, which clearly
pertain to a contractual employee, albeit in the guise of an
advisor or consultant, respondent has transgressed both letter
and spirit of this Courts decree in Atienza.
The lawyers primary duty as enunciated in the Attorneys
Oath is to uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land,
and promote respect for law and legal processes.[19] That duty in
its irreducible minimum entails obedience to the legal orders of
the courts. Respondents disobedience to this Courts order
prohibiting his reappointment to any branch, instrumentality, or
agency of government, including government owned and
controlled corporations, cannot be camouflaged by a legal
consultancy or a special consultancy contract. By performing
duties and functions of a contractual employee of LWUA, by way
of a consultancy, and receiving compensation and perquisites as
such, he displayed acts of open defiance of the Courts
authority, and a deliberate rejection of his oath as an officer of
the court. It is also destructive of the harmonious relations that
should prevail between Bench and Bar, a harmony necessary for
the proper administration of justice. Such defiance not only
erodes respect for the Court but also corrodes public confidence
in the rule of law.
What aggravates respondents offense is the fact that
respondent is no ordinary lawyer. Having served in the judiciary
for eight (8) years, he is very well aware of the standards of
moral fitness for membership in the legal profession. His
propensity to try to get away with an indiscretion becomes
apparent and inexcusable when he entered into a legal
consultancy contract with the LWUA. Perhaps realizing its own
mistake, LWUA terminated said contract with respondent, but
then proceeded to give him a special consultancy. This travesty
could not be long hidden from public awareness, hence the
instant complaint for disbarment filed by petitioner. Given the
factual circumstances found by Commission on Bar Discipline, we
have no hesitance in accepting the recommendation of the
Board of Governors, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, that
respondent be fined and suspended from the practice of
law. The Code of Professional Responsibility, Rule 1.01, provides
that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct. For violating the Code as well as transgressing
his oath as an officer of the court, his suspension for one (1) year
and a fine of ten thousand (P10,000) pesos are in order.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco Brillantes, Jr.,
is found liable for having willfully violated a lawful order

Page 20

of this Court in our decision of March 29, 1995 rendered in


A.M. No. MTJ-92-706, entitled Lupo Almodiel Atienza vs. Judge
Francisco F. Brillantes, Jr. He is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for one (1) year and ordered to pay a FINE of Ten
Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos, with a STERN WARNING that a
repetition of the same or similar conduct shall be dealt with
more severely. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Bar
Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and spread
on the personal records of respondent as well as circulated to all
courts in the Philippines. This decision is immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo,
(Chairman),
Martinez, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.

Mendoza,

Austria-

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 7815

July 23, 2009

DOLORES C. BELLEZA, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. ALAN S. MACASA, Respondent.

did not issue any receipt. When complainant went to the court
the next day, she found out that respondent did not remit the
amount to the court.
Complainant demanded the return of the P18,000 from
respondent on several occasions but respondent ignored her.
Moreover, respondent failed to act on the case of complainants
son and complainant was forced to avail of the services of the
Public Attorneys Office for her sons defense.
Thereafter, complainant filed a verified complaint2 for
disbarment against respondent in the Negros Occidental chapter
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Attached to the
verified complaint was the affidavit3 of Chua which read:
I, JOE CHUA, of legal age, Filipino and resident of Purok Sawmill,
Brgy. Bata, Bacolod City, after having been sworn to in
accordance with law, hereby depose and state:
1. That I am the one who introduce[d] Mrs. Dolores C.
Belleza [to] Atty. Alan Macasa when she looked for a
lawyer to help her son in the case that the latter is
facing sometime [i]n [the] first week of November
2004;
2. That by reason of my mutual closeness to both of
them, I am the one who facilitated the payment of Mrs.
DOLORES C. BELLEZA to Atty. Alan Macasa;

RESOLUTION
Per Curiam:

3. That as far as I know, I received the following amount


from Mrs. Dolores Belleza as payment for Atty. Alan
Macasa:

This treats of the complaint for disbarment filed by complainant


Dolores C. Belleza against respondent Atty. Alan S. Macasa for
unprofessional and unethical conduct in connection with the
handling of a criminal case involving complainants son.
On November 10, 2004, complainant went to see respondent on
referral of their mutual friend, Joe Chua. Complainant wanted to
avail of respondents legal services in connection with the case of
her son, Francis John Belleza, who was arrested by policemen of
Bacolod City earlier that day for alleged violation of Republic Act
(RA) 9165.1 Respondent agreed to handle the case for P30,000.
The following day, complainant made a partial payment
of P15,000 to respondent thru their mutual friend Chua. On
November 17, 2004, she gave him an additional P10,000. She
paid the P5,000 balance on November 18, 2004. Both payments
were also made thru Chua. On all three occasions, respondent
did not issue any receipt.

Date

Amount

November 11,
2004

P15,000.00

A week after

10,000.00

November 18,
2004

5,000.00

4. That the above-mentioned amounts which I


supposed as Attorneys Fees were immediately
forwarded by me to Atty. [Macasa];
5. That I am executing this affidavit in order to attest to
the truth of all the foregoing statements.
xxx

xxx

x x x4

On November 21, 2004, respondent received P18,000 from


complainant for the purpose of posting a bond to secure the
provisional liberty of her (complainants) son. Again, respondent

LEGAL PROFESSION

Page 21

In a letter dated May 23, 2005,5 the IBP Negros Occidental


chapter transmitted the complaint to the IBPs Commission on
Bar Discipline (CBD).6

We affirm the CBDs finding of guilt as affirmed by the IBP Board


of Governors but we modify the IBPs recommendation as to the
liability of respondent.

In an order dated July 13, 2005,7 the CBD required respondent to


submit his answer within 15 days from receipt thereof.
Respondent, in an urgent motion for extension of time to file an
answer dated August 10, 2005,8 simply brushed aside the
complaint for being "baseless, groundless and malicious"
without, however, offering any explanation. He also prayed that
he be given until September 4, 2005 to submit his answer.

Respondent Disrespected
Legal Processes

Respondent subsequently filed urgent motions9 for second and


third extensions of time praying to be given until November 4,
2005 to submit his answer. He never did.
When both parties failed to attend the mandatory conference on
April 19, 2006, they were ordered to submit their respective
position papers.10
In its report and recommendation dated October 2, 2007,11 the
CBD ruled that respondent failed to rebut the charges against
him. He never answered the complaint despite several chances
to do so.
The CBD found respondent guilty of violation of Rule 1.01 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral, or deceitful conduct.
It also found him guilty of violation of Rules 16.01 and 16.02 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility:
Rule 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or property
collected or received for or from the client.
Rule 16.02 A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client
separate and apart from his own and those others kept by him.
The CBD ruled that respondent lacked good moral character and
that he was unfit and unworthy of the privileges conferred by
law on him as a member of the bar. The CBD recommended a
suspension of six months with a stern warning that repetition of
similar acts would merit a more severe sanction. It also
recommended that respondent be ordered to return to
complainant the P18,000 intended for the provisional liberty of
the complainants son and theP30,000 attorneys fees.
The Board of Governors of the IBP adopted and approved the
report and recommendation of the CBD with the modification
that respondent be ordered to return to complainant only the
amount of P30,000 which he received as attorneys fees.12

LEGAL PROFESSION

Respondent was given more than enough opportunity to answer


the charges against him. Yet, he showed indifference to the
orders of the CBD for him to answer and refute the accusations
of professional misconduct against him. In doing so, he failed to
observe Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of
time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse
without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his
failure to do so.
Respondent also ignored the CBDs directive for him to file his
position paper. His propensity to flout the orders of the CBD
showed his lack of concern and disrespect for the proceedings of
the CBD. He disregarded the oath he took when he was accepted
to the legal profession "to obey the laws and the legal orders of
the duly constituted legal authorities." He displayed insolence
not only to the CBD but also to this Court which is the source of
the CBDs authority.
Respondents unjustified disregard of the lawful orders of the
CBD was not only irresponsible but also constituted utter
disrespect for the judiciary and his fellow lawyers.13 His conduct
was unbecoming of a lawyer who is called upon to obey court
orders and processes and is expected to stand foremost in
complying with court directives as an officer of the
court.14 Respondent should have known that the orders of the
CBD (as the investigating arm of the Court in administrative
cases against lawyers) were not mere requests but directives
which should have been complied with promptly and
completely.151avvph!1
Respondent Grossly Neglected
The Cause of His Client
Respondent undertook to defend the criminal case against
complainants son. Such undertaking imposed upon him the
following duties:
CANON 17 A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS
CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND
CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.
CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH
COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Page 22

Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted


to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render
him liable.
xxx

xxx

xxx

CANON 19 A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL


WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE LAW.
A lawyer who accepts the cause of a client commits to devote
himself (particularly his time, knowledge, skills and effort) to
such cause. He must be ever mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed in him, constantly striving to be worthy thereof.
Accordingly, he owes full devotion to the interest of his client,
warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his clients rights
and the exertion of his utmost learning, skill and ability to ensure
that nothing shall be taken or withheld from his client, save by
the rules of law legally applied.16
A lawyer who accepts professional employment from a client
undertakes to serve his client with competence and
diligence.17 He must conscientiously perform his duty arising
from such relationship. He must bear in mind that by accepting a
retainer, he impliedly makes the following representations: that
he possesses the requisite degree of learning, skill and ability
other lawyers similarly situated possess; that he will exert his
best judgment in the prosecution or defense of the litigation
entrusted to him; that he will exercise reasonable care and
diligence in the use of his skill and in the application of his
knowledge to his clients cause; and that he will take all steps
necessary
to
adequately
safeguard
his
clients
interest.181avvphi1
A lawyers negligence in the discharge of his obligations arising
from the relationship of counsel and client may cause delay in
the administration of justice and prejudice the rights of a litigant,
particularly his client. Thus, from the perspective of the ethics of
the legal profession, a lawyers lethargy in carrying out his duties
to his client is both unprofessional and unethical.19
If his clients case is already pending in court, a lawyer must
actively represent his client by promptly filing the necessary
pleading or motion and assiduously attending the scheduled
hearings. This is specially significant for a lawyer who represents
an accused in a criminal case.
The accused is guaranteed the right to counsel under the
Constitution.20 However, this right can only be meaningful if the
accused is accorded ample legal assistance by his lawyer:
... The right to counsel proceeds from the fundamental principle
of due process which basically means that a person must be
heard before being condemned. The due process requirement is
a part of a person's basic rights; it is not a mere formality that
may be dispensed with or performed perfunctorily.

LEGAL PROFESSION

The right to counsel must be more than just the presence of a


lawyer in the courtroom or the mere propounding of standard
questions and objections. The right to counsel means that the
accused is amply accorded legal assistance extended by a
counsel who commits himself to the cause for the defense and
acts accordingly. The right assumes an active involvement by the
lawyer in the proceedings, particularly at the trial of the case, his
bearing constantly in mind of the basic rights of the accused, his
being well-versed on the case, and his knowing the fundamental
procedures, essential laws and existing jurisprudence.21

[T]he right of an accused to counsel is beyond question a


fundamental right. Without counsel, the right to a fair trial itself
would be of little consequence, for it is through counsel that the
accused secures his other rights. In other words, the right to
counsel is the right to effective assistance of counsel.22
The right of an accused to counsel finds substance in the
performance by the lawyer of his sworn duty of fidelity to his
client.23 Tersely put, it means an effective, efficient and truly
decisive legal assistance, not a simply perfunctory
representation.24
In this case, after accepting the criminal case against
complainants son and receiving his attorneys fees, respondent
did nothing that could be considered as effective and efficient
legal assistance. For all intents and purposes, respondent
abandoned the cause of his client. Indeed, on account of
respondents continued inaction, complainant was compelled to
seek the services of the Public Attorneys Office. Respondents
lackadaisical attitude towards the case of complainants son was
reprehensible. Not only did it prejudice complainants son, it also
deprived him of his constitutional right to counsel. Furthermore,
in failing to use the amount entrusted to him for posting a bond
to secure the provisional liberty of his client, respondent unduly
impeded the latters constitutional right to bail.
Respondent
His Clients Money

Failed

to

Return

The fiduciary nature of the relationship between counsel and


client imposes on a lawyer the duty to account for the money or
property collected or received for or from the client.25
When a lawyer collects or receives money from his client for a
particular purpose (such as for filing fees, registration fees,
transportation and office expenses), he should promptly account
to the client how the money was spent. If he does not use the
money for its intended purpose, he must immediately return it
to the client.26 His failure either to render an accounting or to
return the money (if the intended purpose of the money does
not materialize) constitutes a blatant disregard of Rule 16.01 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility.27

Page 23

Moreover, a lawyer has the duty to deliver his clients funds or


properties as they fall due or upon demand.28 His failure to
return the clients money upon demand gives rise to the
presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use to
the prejudice of and in violation of the trust reposed in him by
the client.29 It is a gross violation of general morality as well as of
professional ethics; it impairs public confidence in the legal
profession and deserves punishment.30 Indeed, it may border on
the criminal as it may constitute a prima facie case of swindling
or estafa.
Respondent never denied receiving P18,000 from complainant
for the purpose of posting a bond to secure the provisional
liberty of her son. He never used the money for its intended
purpose yet also never returned it to the client. Worse, he
unjustifiably refused to turn over the amount to complainant
despite the latters repeated demands.
Moreover, respondent rendered no service that would have
entitled him to the P30,000 attorneys fees. As a rule, the right of
a lawyer to a reasonable compensation for his services is subject
to two requisites: (1) the existence of an attorney-client
relationship and (2) the rendition by the lawyer of services to the
client.31 Thus, a lawyer who does not render legal services is not
entitled to attorneys fees. Otherwise, not only would he be
unjustly enriched at the expense of the client, he would also be
rewarded for his negligence and irresponsibility.
Respondent Failed to Uphold the Integrity and Dignity of the
Legal Profession
For his failure to comply with the exacting ethical standards of
the legal profession, respondent failed to obey Canon 7 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility:
CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE
INTEGRITY AND THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND
SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR. (emphasis
supplied)
Indeed, a lawyer who fails to abide by the Canons and Rules of
the Code of Professional Responsibility disrespects the said Code
and everything that it stands for. In so doing, he disregards the
ethics and disgraces the dignity of the legal profession.
Lawyers should always live up to the ethical standards of the
legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Public confidence in law and in lawyers may be
eroded by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a member
of the bar.32 Thus, every lawyer should act and comport himself
in a manner that would promote public confidence in the
integrity of the legal profession.33
Respondent was undeserving of the trust reposed in him. Instead
of using the money for the bond of the complainants son, he

LEGAL PROFESSION

pocketed it. He failed to observe candor, fairness and loyalty in


his dealings with his client.34 He failed to live up to his fiduciary
duties. By keeping the money for himself despite his undertaking
that he would facilitate the release of complainants son,
respondent showed lack of moral principles. His transgression
showed him to be a swindler, a deceitful person and a shame to
the legal profession.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Alan S. Macasa is hereby
found GUILTY not only of dishonesty but also of professional
misconduct for prejudicing Francis John Bellezas right to counsel
and to bail under Sections 13 and 14(2), Article III of the
Constitution, and for violating Canons 1, 7, 17, 18 and 19 and
Rules 12.03, 16.01, 16.02, 16.03 and 18.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. He is therefore DISBARRED from the
practice of law effective immediately.
Respondent is hereby ORDERED to return to complainant
Dolores C. Belleza the amounts of P30,000 andP18,000 with
interest at 12% per annum from the date of promulgation of this
decision until full payment. Respondent is further DIRECTED to
submit to the Court proof of payment of the amount within ten
days from payment. Failure to do so will subject him to criminal
prosecution.
Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar
Confidant to be entered into the records of respondent Atty.
Alan S. Macasa and the Office of the Court Administrator to be
furnished to the courts of the land for their information and
guidance.
SO ORDERED.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

LAWYER AND THE SOCIETY


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 3694 June 17, 1993
ALBERTO FERNANDEZ, ISABELO ONGTENGCO, ACHILLES
BARTOLOME, AND ST. LUKES MEDICAL CENTER, complainants,
vs.
ATTORNEY BENJAMIN M. GRECIA, respondent.
Norberto Gonzales for Fernandez.

Page 24

Bu Castro for Ongtengco & Bartolome.


Quasha, Asperilla, Ancheta, Pea & Nolasco for St. Luke's
Hospital.
Joaquin P. Yuseco for respondent Benjamin Grecia.
PER CURIAM:
This disbarment complaint against Attorney Benjamin M. Grecia
was filed on August 20, 1991 by Doctors Alberto Fernandez,
Isabelo Ongtengco and Achilles Bartolome and the St. Luke's
Medical Center (hereafter "St. Luke's" for brevity) where they
are accredited medical practitioners. The respondent is charged
with dishonesty and grave misconduct in connection with the
theft of some pages from a medical chart which was material
evidence in a damage suit filed by his clients against the
aforenamed doctors and St. Luke's.
Disciplinary proceedings like this one are in a class by
themselves. As we observed in In Re Almacen, 31 SCRA 562,600,
they are neither purely civil nor purely criminal. "Public interests
is the primary objective, and the real question for determination
is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed
the privileges as such." The purpose is "to protect the court and
the public from the misconduct of officers of the court" (In Re
Montagne & Dominguez, 3 Phil. 577, 588), or to remove from the
profession a person whose misconduct has proved him unfit to
be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging to
the office of an attorney (Ledesma vs. Climaco, 57 SCRA 473;
Atienza vs. Evangelista, 80 SCRA 338).
Disbarment is nothing new to respondent Grecia. On November
12, 1987, he was disbarred for his immoral complicity or "unholy
alliance" with a judge in Quezon City to rip off banks and Chinese
business firms which had the misfortune to be sued in the
latter's court (Prudential Bank vs. Judge Jose P. Castro and Atty.
Benjamin M. Grecia [Adm. Case No. 2756], 155 SCRA 604).
Three years later, on December 18, 1990, the Court, heeding his
pleas for compassions and his promise to mend his ways,
reinstated him in the profession. Only eight (8) months later, on
August 20, 1991, he was back before the court facing another
charge of dishonesty and unethical practice. Apparently, the
earlier disciplinary action that the Court took against him did not
effectively reform him.
The complaint of St. Luke's against Attorney Grecia was referred
by the Court to Deputy Court of Administrator Juanito A. Bernad
for investigation, report and recommendation. The following are
Judge Bernad's findings:
The late Fe Linda Aves was seven (7) months pregnant when she
was admitted as a patient at St. Luke's Hospital on December 20,
1990. She complained of dizziness, hypertension, and abdominal

LEGAL PROFESSION

pains with vaginal bleeding. Dr. Fernandez, head of the OB-GYNE


Department of St. Luke's, Dr. Ongtengco, Jr., a cardiologist, and
Dr. Bartolome, a urologist, examined Mrs. Aves and diagnosed
her problem as mild pre-eclampsia (p. 63, Rollo). Five (5) days
later, on Christmas day, December 25, 1990, Mrs. Aves was
discharged from the hospital, to celebrate Christmas with her
family.
However, she was rushed back to the hospital the next day,
December 26, 1990. On December 27, 1990, she died together
with her unborn child.
Blaming the doctors of St. Luke's for his wife's demise, Attorney
Damaso B. Aves, along with his three (3) minor children, brought
an action for damages against the hospital and the attending
physicians of his wife. Their counsel, respondent Attorney
Benjamin Grecia, filed a complaint entitled: "Attorney Damaso B.
Aves, et al. vs. St. Luke's Medical Center, Drs. Alberto Fernandez,
Isabelo Ongtengco, Jr. and Achilles Bartolome" in the Regional
Trial Court of Valenzuela, Bulacan, where it was docketed as Civil
Case No. 3548-V and assigned to Branch 172, presided over by
Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong.
On July 4, 1991, the medical records of Fe Linda Aves were
produced in court by St. Luke's, as requested by Attorney Grecia.
The records were entrusted to the Acting Branch Clerk of Court,
Avelina Robles.
On July 16, 1991, between 8:30-9:00 o' clock in the morning,
upon arriving in court for another hearing of the case, Attorney
Grecia borrowed from Mrs. Robles the folder containing the
medical records of Mrs. Aves.
While leafing through the folder, Grecia surreptitiously tore off
two (2) pages of the medical records. The respondent's act was
notified by Mrs. Robles and Maria Arnet Sandico, a clerk. They
saw Grecia crumple the papers and place them inside the right
pocket of his coat. He immediately returned the folder to Mrs.
Roblesa (who was momentarily rendered speechless by his
audacious act) and left the office.
Mrs. Robles examined the medical chart and found pages "72"
and "73" missing. She ordered Sandico to follow the respondent.
Sandico saw Grecia near the canteen at the end of the building,
calling a man (presumably his driver) who was leaning against a
parked car (presumably Grecia's car). When the man
approached, Grecia gave him the crumpled papers which he took
from his coatpocket. Sandico returned to the office and reported
what she had seen to Mrs. Robles. The latter in turn reported it
to
Judge
Capulong.
The
three
of
them Judge Capulong, Mrs. Robles and Ms. Sandico went
downstairs. Ms. Sandico pointed to Judge Capulong the man to
whom Grecia had given the papers which he had filched from
medical folder of Linda Aves. Judge Capulong told Sandico to
bring the man to her chamber. On the way back to chamber,
Judge Capulong saw the plaintiff, Attorney Damaso Aves, and St.

Page 25

Luke's counsel, Attorney Melanie Limson. She requested them to


come to her office.
In the presence of Attorneys Aves and Limson, Mrs. Robles, Ms.
Sandico, and a visitor, Judge Capulong confronted the man and
ordered him to give her the papers which Grecia had passed on
to him. The man at first denied that he had the papers in his
possession. However, when Sandico declared that she saw
Grecia hand over the papers to him, the man sheepishly took
them from his pants pocket and gave them to Judge Capulong.
When the crumpled pages "72" and "73" of the medical folder
were shown to Sandico, she identified them as the same papers
that she saw Grecia hand over to the man.
After the confrontation, Sandicio and Robles went back to their
office. Mrs. Robles collapsed in a dead faint and was rushed to
the Fatima Hospital where she later regained consciousness.
In the ensuing excitement and confusion of recovering the stolen
exhibits, no one thought of ascertaining the identity of the man
from whom they were recovered. Judge Capulong belatedly
realized this, so she directed the Valenzuela Police to find out
who he was. She also ordered Sandico to submit a formal report
of the theft of the exhibits to the police.
A police investigator, PO3 Arnold Alabastro, tried to ascertain
the name of Grecia's driver who was known only as "SID." He
located Grecia's house in Quezon City. Although he was not
allowed to enter the premises, he was able to talk with a house
maid. He pretended to be a cousin of "SID" and asked for the
latter. The housemaid informed him that "SID" was sent home to
his province by Grecia.
He talked with Grecia himself but the latter denied that he had a
driver named "SID."
PO3 Alabastro also talked wit one of Grecia's neighbors across
the street. The neighbor confirmed that Grecia's driver was a
fellow named "SID".
The incident caused enormous emotional strain to the personnel
of Judge Capulong's court, so much so that the Acting Branch
Clerk of Court, Avelina Robles, was hospitalized. Because of the
incident, Judge Capulong inhibited herself from conducting the
trial of Civil Case No. 3548-V.
On August 20, 1991, St. Luke's failed this disbarment case against
Grecia.
At the investigation of the case by Judge Bernad, Attorney
Damaso Aves, the surviving spouse of the late Fe Linda Aves and
plaintiff in Civil case No. 3548-V, testified that it was Attorney Bu
Castro, counsel of the defendants in said Civil Case No. 3548-V,
who lifted two pages from the medical folder which lay among
some papers on top of the table of Acting Branch Clerk of Court

LEGAL PROFESSION

Robles. When he allegedly went outside the courthouse to wait


for Attorney Grecia to arrive, he noticed Attorney Castro come
out of the building and walk toward a man in the parking lot to
whom he handed a piece of paper. Afterward, Attorney Castro
reentered the courthouse.
Respondent Grecia denied any knowledge of the theft of the
exhibits in the Aves case. He alleged that the person who was
caught in possession of the detached pages of the medical
record was actually "planted" by his adversaries to discredit him
and destroy his reputation.
He denied that he had a driver. He alleged that his car was out of
order on July 16, 1991, so he was fetched by the driver of
Attorney Aves in the latter's "Maxima" car. He arrived in the
courthouse at exactly 9:15 in the morning and went straight to
the courtroom on the second floor of the building. He did not
leave the place until his case was called at 9:40. Since it was
allegedly a very warm day, he wore a dark blue barong tagalog,
not a business suit. He branded the testimony of Ms. Sandico as
an absolute falsehood. He alleged that he would not have done
the act imputed to him, because the medical chart was the very
foundation of the civil case which he filed against St. Luke's and
its doctors. He wondered why the man, alleged to be his driver,
to whom he supposedly gave the detached pages of the medical
chart, was neither held nor arrested. His identity was not even
established.
He likewise branded the testimony of Police Investigator
Alabastro as a fabrication for he had never seen him before.
He underscored the fact that none of the lawyers in the
courthouse, nor any of the court personnel, accosted him about
the purloined pages of the medical record and he alleged that
the unidentified man remained in the courtroom even after the
confrontation in the Judge's chamber.
In evaluating the testimonies of the witnesses, Judge Bernad
found the court employee, Maria Arnie Sandico, and Acting
branch Clerk of Court Avelina Robles entirely credible and
"without any noticeable guile nor attempt at fabrication,
remaining constant even under pressure of cross examination"
(p. 11, Judge Bernad's Report).
That the Acting Branch Clerk of Court, Mrs. Robles, who is not
even a lawyer, and her lowly clerk, Ms. Sandico, did not promptly
raise a hue and cry on seeing Grecia tear off two pages of the
medical record, was understandable for they hesitated to
confront a man of his stature. Nevertheless, they had the
presence of mind to immediately report the matter to their
Judge who forthwith took appropriate steps to recover the
exhibits. Robles, Sandico and PO3 Alabastro had absolutely no
motive to testify falsely against the respondent.

Page 26

While Judge Capulong took the blame for failing to ascertain the
identity of Attorney Grecia's "driver," her swift action in
summoning and confronting him led to the recovery of the
stolen pages of the medical chart.
Unfortunately, the inquiry made by Police Investigation Arnold
Alabastro into identity of the man was fruitless for he was never
seen again.
Attorney Aves' allegation that it was St. Luke's counsel, Attorney
Castro, not Grecia, who stole the pages from the medical folder
and slipped them to an unidentified man, is an incredible
fabrication. Not only is it directly contradicted by Mrs. Robles
and Ms. Sandico, but, significantly, Attorney Aves failed to
mention it during the confrontation with the man inside Judge
Capulong's chamber where he (Attorney Aves) was present.
His other allegation that he saw the man inside the courtroom
afterwards, is not credible for he would have called the attention
of Judge Capulong who, he knew, had been looking for the man
to ascertain his identity.
In view of his obvious bias for his counsel, Aves' testimony was
properly disregarded by the investigator, Judge Bernad. Likewise
wanting in truth and candor was Grecia's testimony. Judge
Bernad noted that while Grecia was punctilious when testifying
on the hour of his arrival in court (9:15 A.M.) on July 16, 1991,
and he even remembered that on that day he wore a dark blue
barong tagalog (an apparel that has no pockets), his memory was
not sharp when he was cross-examined regarding more recent
events. For instance, he insisted that Judge Bernad was absent
on August 4, 1992, but the truth is that a hearing was held on
that date as shown by the transcript.
When he was confronted with exhibits "A" and "B," Grecia tried
to make an issue of the absence of a court order to deposit Linda
Aves' medical chart in court. He forgot that it was he who asked
that the chart be left with the clerk of court.
His allegation that he would be the last person to remove pages
72 and 73 of the medical chart for the entries therein are
favorable to his client's cause is specious. As a matter of fact, the
entries show that after Mrs. Aves was readmitted to the hospital
on December 26, 1990, the doctors were able to stabilize her
blood pressure with a normal reading of 120/80.
On the basis of the evidence presented before Judge Bernad, the
Court is convinced that the charge against Attorney Benjamin M.
Grecia is true. By stealing two pages from Linda Aves' medical
chart and passing them on to his driver, he violated Rule 1.01,
canon 1 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility as well as
canon 7 thereof which provide that:

Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in


unlawful, dishonest, immoral and deceitful
conduct.
Canon 7. A lawyer shall at all times uphold the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession
and support the activities of the Integrated
Bar.
A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is "like the court itself, an
instrument or agency to advance the ends of justice" (People ex
rel Karlin vs. Culkin, 60 A.L.R. 851, 855). An incorrigible
practitioner of "dirty tricks," like Grecia would be ill-suited to
discharge the role of "an instrument to advance the ends of
justice."
The importance of integrity and good moral character as part of
a lawyer's equipment in the practice of his profession has been
stressed by this Court repeatedly.
. . . The bar should maintain a high standard of legal
proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing.
Generally speaking, a lawyer can do honor to the legal
profession by faithfully performing his duties to society,
to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. To this end,
nothing should be done by any member of the legal
fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the
confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty and
integrity of the profession. (Marcelo vs. Javier, Sr., A.C.
No. 3248, September 18, 1992, pp. 13-14.)
. . . . The nature of the office of an attorney at law
requires that he shall be a person of good moral
character. This qualification is not only a condition
precedent to admission to the practice of law; its
continued possession is also essential for remaining in
the practice of law, in the exercise of privileges of
members of the Bar. Gross misconduct on the part of a
lawyer, although not related to the discharge of
professional duties as a member of the bar, which puts
his moral character in serious doubt, renders him unfit
to continue in the practice of law. (Melendrez vs.
Decena, 176 SCRA 662, 676.)
. . . public policy demands that legal work in
representation of parties litigant should be entrusted
only to those possessing tested qualifications and who
are sworn to observe the rules and the ethics of the
profession, a s well as being subject for judicial
disciplinary control for the protection of court, clients
and the public. (Phil. Association of Free Labor Unions
[PAFLU] vs. Binalbagan Isabela Sugar Company, 42
SCRA 302, 305.)

Canon 1. . . .

LEGAL PROFESSION

Page 27

By descending to the level of a common thief,


respondent Grecia has demeaned and disgraced the
legal profession. He has demonstrated his moral
unfitness to continue as a member of the honorable
fraternity of lawyers. He has forfeited his membership
in the BAR.
Generally, a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for
any misconduct, whether in his professional or private
capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral
character, in honesty, probity and good demeanor or
unworthy to continue as an officer of the court, or an
unfit or unsafe person to enjoy the privileges and to
manage the business of others in the capacity of an
attorney, or for conduct which tends to bring reproach
on the legal profession or to injure it in the favorable
opinion of the public. (Marcelo vs. Javier, Sr., A.C. No.
3248, September 18, 1992, p. 15.)
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Attorney Benjamin Grecia guilty of
grave misconduct, dishonesty, and grossly unethical behavior as
a lawyer. Considering that this is his second offense against the
canons of the profession, the Court resolved to impose upon him
once more the supreme penalty of DISBARMENT. His license to
practice law in the Philippines is hereby CANCELLED and the Bar
Confidant is ordered to strike out his name from the Roll of
Attorneys.
SO ORDERED.
Cruz, Feliciano, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Davide, Jr.,
Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ., concur.
SECOND DIVISION
[A.C. No. 4680. August 29, 2000]
AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., complainant, vs. ATTYS. ANTONIO
M. LLORENTE and LIGAYA P. SALAYON, respondents.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a complaint for disbarment against respondents
Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon for gross misconduct,
serious breach of trust, and violation of the lawyers oath in
connection with the discharge of their duties as members of the
Pasig City Board of Canvassers in the May 8, 1995
elections. Salayon, then election officer of the Commission on
Elections (COMELEC), was designated chairman of said Board,
while Llorente, who was then City Prosecutor of Pasig City,
served as its ex oficio vice-chairman as provided by
law.[1] Complainant, now a senator, was also a candidate for the
Senate in that election.

LEGAL PROFESSION

Complainant alleges that, in violation of R.A. No. 6646,


27(b),[2]respondents tampered with the votes received by him,
with the result that, as shown in the Statements of Votes (SoVs)
and Certificate of Canvass (CoC) pertaining to 1,263 precincts of
Pasig City, (1) senatorial candidates Juan Ponce Enrile, Anna
Dominique Coseteng, Gregorio Honasan, Marcelo Fernan,
Ramon Mitra, and Rodolfo Biazon were credited with votes
which were above the number of votes they actually received
while, on the other hand, petitioners votes were reduced; (2) in
101 precincts, Enriles votes were in excess of the total number
of voters who actually voted therein; and (3) the votes from 22
precincts were twice recorded in 18 SoVs. Complainant
maintains that, by signing the SoVs and CoC despite
respondents knowledge that some of the entries therein were
false, the latter committed a serious breach of public trust and of
their lawyers oath.
Respondents denied the allegations against them. They
alleged that the preparation of the SoVs was made by the 12
canvassing committees which the Board had constituted to assist
in the canvassing. They claimed that the errors pointed out by
complainant could be attributed to honest mistake, oversight,
and/or fatigue.
In his Consolidated Reply, complainant counters that
respondents should be held responsible for the illegal padding of
the votes considering the nature and extent of the irregularities
and the fact that the canvassing of the election returns was done
under their control and supervision.
On December 4, 1998, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, to which this matter had been referred pursuant to
Rule 139-B, 13, in relation to 20 of the Rules of Court,
recommended the dismissal of the complaint for lack of
merit.[3] Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration on March
11, 1999, but his motion was denied in a resolution of the IBP
Board of Governors dated April 22, 1999. On June 4, 1999, he
filed this petition pursuant to Rule 139-B, 12(c).
It appears that complainant likewise filed criminal charges
against respondents before the COMELEC (E.O. Case No. 961132) for violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b). In its resolution
dated January 8, 1998, the COMELEC dismissed complainants
charges for insufficiency of evidence. However, on a petition
for certiorari filed by complainant,[4] this Court set aside the
resolution and directed the COMELEC to file appropriate criminal
charges against respondents. Reconsideration was denied on
August 15, 2000.
Considering the foregoing facts, we hold that respondents
are guilty of misconduct.
First. Respondent Llorente seeks the dismissal of the
present petition on the ground that it was filed late. He
contends that a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited
pleading under Rule 139-B, 12(c)[5] and, therefore, the filing of
such motion before the IBP Board of Governors did not toll the
running of the period of appeal. Respondent further contends
that, assuming such motion can be filed, petitioner nevertheless

Page 28

failed to indicate the date of his receipt of the April 22, 1999
resolution of the IBP denying his motion for reconsideration so
that it cannot be ascertained whether his petition was filed
within the 15-day period under Rule 139-B, 12(c).
The contention has no merit. The question of whether a
motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading or not under
Rule 139-B, 12(c) has been settled in Halimao v. Villanueva,[6] in
which this Court held:
Although Rule 139-B, 12(c) makes no mention of a motion
for reconsideration, nothing in its text or in its history suggests
that such motion is prohibited. It may therefore be filed within
15 days from notice to a party. Indeed, the filing of such motion
should be encouraged before resort is made to this Court as a
matter of exhaustion of administrative remedies, to afford the
agency rendering the judgment an opportunity to correct any
error it may have committed through a misapprehension of facts
or misappreciation of the evidence.[7]
On the question whether petitioners present petition was
filed within the 15-day period provided under Rule 139-B, 12(c),
although the records show that it was filed on June 4, 1999,
respondent has not shown when petitioner received a copy of
the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors denying his motion
for reconsideration. It would appear, however, that the petition
was filed on time because a copy of the resolution personally
served on the Office of the Bar Confidant of this Court was
received by it on May 18, 1999. Since copies of IBP resolutions
are sent to the parties by mail, it is possible that the copy sent to
petitioner was received by him later than May 18, 1999. Hence,
it may be assumed that his present petition was filed within 15
days from his receipt of the IBP resolution. In any event, the
burden was on respondent, as the moving party, to show that
the petition in this case was filed beyond the 15-day period for
filing it.
Even assuming that petitioner received the IBP resolution
in question on May 18, 1999, i.e., on the same date a copy of
the same was received by the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
delay would only be two days.[8] The delay may be overlooked,
considering the merit of this case. Disbarment proceedings are
undertaken solely for public welfare. The sole question for
determination is whether a member of the bar is fit to be
allowed the privileges as such or not. The complainant or the
person who called the attention of the Court to the attorneys
alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and generally has no
interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in
the proper administration of justice.[9] For this reason, laws
dealing with double jeopardy[10] or prescription[11] or with
procedure like verification of pleadings[12] and prejudicial
questions[13] have no application to disbarment proceedings.
Even in ordinary civil actions, the period for perfecting
appeals is relaxed in the interest of justice and equity where the
appealed case is clearly meritorious. Thus, we have given due
course to appeals even though filed six,[14] four,[15] and
three[16] days late. In this case, the petition is clearly meritorious.

LEGAL PROFESSION

Second. The IBP recommends the dismissal of petitioners


complaint on the basis of the following: (1) respondents had no
involvement in the tabulation of the election returns, because
when the Statements of Votes (SoVs) were given to them, such
had already been accomplished and only needed their respective
signatures; (2) the canvassing was done in the presence of
watchers, representatives of the political parties, the media, and
the general public so that respondents would not have risked the
commission of any irregularity; and (3) the acts dealt with in R.A.
No. 6646, 27(b) are mala in se and not mala prohibita, and
petitioner failed to establish criminal intent on the part of
respondents.[17]
The recommendation is unacceptable. In disciplinary
proceedings against members of the bar, only clear
preponderance of evidence is required to establish liability.[18] As
long as the evidence presented by complainant or that taken
judicial notice of by the Court[19] is more convincing and worthy
of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto,[20] the
imposition of disciplinary sanction is justified.
In this case, respondents do not dispute the fact that
massive irregularities attended the canvassing of the Pasig City
election returns. The only explanation they could offer for such
irregularities is that the same could be due to honest mistake,
human error, and/or fatigue on the part of the members of the
canvassing committees who prepared the SoVs.
This is the same allegation made in Pimentel v. Commission
on Elections.[21] In rejecting this allegation and ordering
respondents prosecuted for violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b),
this Court said:
There is a limit, We believe, to what can be construed as an
honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, in the performance
of official duty. The sheer magnitude of the error, not only in the
total number of votes garnered by the aforementioned
candidates as reflected in the CoC and the SoVs, which did not
tally with that reflected in the election returns, but also in the
total number of votes credited for senatorial candidate Enrile
which exceeded the total number of voters who actually voted in
those precincts during the May 8, 1995 elections, renders the
defense of honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, as
incredible and simply unacceptable.[22]
Indeed, what is involved here is not just a case of
mathematical error in the tabulation of votes per precinct as
reflected in the election returns and the subsequent entry of the
erroneous figures in one or two SoVs[23] but a systematic scheme
to pad the votes of certain senatorial candidates at the expense
of petitioner in complete disregard of the tabulation in the
election returns. A cursory look at the evidence submitted by
petitioner reveals that, in at least 24 SoVs involving 101
precincts, the votes for candidate Enrile exceeded the number of
voters who actually voted in the said precincts and, in 18 SoVs,
returns from 22 precincts were tabulated twice. In addition, as
the Court noted in Pimentel, the total number of votes credited
to each of the seven senatorial candidates in question, as
reflected in the CoC, markedly differ from those indicated in the

Page 29

SoVs.[24]Despite the fact that these discrepancies, especially the


double recording of the returns from 22 precincts and the
variation in the tabulation of votes as reflected in the SoVs and
CoC, were apparent on the face of these documents and that the
variation involves substantial number of votes, respondents
nevertheless certified the SoVs as true and correct. Their acts
constitute misconduct.

of their official duties, involving no less than the ascertainment


of the popular will as expressed through the ballot, would have
merited for them suspension were it not for the fact that this is
their first administrative transgression and, in the case of
Salayon, after a long public service.[29] Under the circumstances,
a penalty of fine in the amount of P10,000.00 for each of the
respondents should be sufficient.

Respondent Llorentes contention that he merely certified


the genuineness and due execution of the SoVs but not their
correctness is belied by the certification which reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondents Antonio M.


Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon GUILTY of misconduct and
imposes on each of them a FINE in the amount of P10,000.00
with a WARNING that commission of similar acts will be dealt
with more severely.

WE HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing Statement of Votes


by . . . [p]recinct is true and correct. IN WITNESS WHEREOF,
we sign these presents at the City/Municipality of
___________ Province of ____________ this _______ day
of May, 1995. (Emphasis added)

SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr.,
JJ., concur.

Nor does the fact that the canvassing was open to the
public and observed by numerous individuals preclude the
commission of acts for which respondents are liable. The fact is
that only they had access to the SoVs and CoC and thus had the
opportunity to compare them and detect the discrepancies
therein.
Now, a lawyer who holds a government position may not
be disciplined as a member of the bar for misconduct in the
discharge of his duties as a government official.[25] However, if
the misconduct also constitutes a violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility or the lawyers oath or is of such
character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or shows moral
delinquency on his part, such individual may be disciplined as a
member of the bar for such misconduct.[26]
Here, by certifying as true and correct the SoVs in question,
respondents committed a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code which
stipulates that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct. By express provision of Canon 6,
this is made applicable to lawyers in the government service. In
addition, they likewise violated their oath of office as lawyers to
do no falsehood.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 2029 December 7, 1993
LUIS G. CONSTANTINO, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. PRUDENCIO G. SALUDARES, respondent.
RESOLUTION

BIDIN, J.:

Nowhere is the need for lawyers to observe honesty both


in their private and in their public dealings better expressed
in Sabayle v. Tandayag[27] in which this Court said:

In an Affidavit-Complaint dated April 21, 1978, complainant Luis


G. Constantino charges respondent Atty. Prudencio S. Saludares
with conduct unbecoming of a lawyer for the non-payment of a
loan which the latter obtained from complainant's son Luis
Constantino, Jr.

There is a strong public interest involved in requiring


lawyers . . . to behave at all times in a manner consistent with
truth and honor. It is important that the common caricature that
lawyers by and large do not feel compelled to speak the truth
and to act honestly, should not become a common reality. . . .[28]

It appears that sometime in August 1977, respondent borrowed


money in the amount of P1,000.00 from complainant's son Luis,
Jr. Respondent procured the loan purportedly for an urgent
personal obligation promising to pay it back promptly the
following day.

It may be added that, as lawyers in the government service,


respondents were under greater obligation to observe this basic
tenet of the profession because a public office is a public trust.
Third. Respondents participation in the irregularities
herein reflects on the legal profession, in general, and on lawyers
in government, in particular. Such conduct in the performance

LEGAL PROFESSION

Respondent failed to comply with his promise. Subsequent


demands for payment were then made by Luis, Jr. but to no
avail.
In the interim, Luis, Jr. left the country and afterwards wrote his
father, authorizing the latter to collect the sum of money owed

Page 30

by
respondent.
Despite complainant's repeated demands however, respondent
persistently refused to pay back the said amount, prompting the
former to seek assistance from the Civil Relations Office of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through an affidavitcomplaint. The Civil Relations Office in turn endorsed the
affidavit-complaint to this Court on April 24, 1978. (Rollo, p. 4).
The complaint alleges that respondent lawyer, by abusing the
trust and confidence of complainant's son, was able to obtain a
loan in the amount of P1,000.00 which he unjustifiably refused
and still refuses to pay despite repeated demands. This act,
complainant alleges, constitutes conduct unbecoming an officer
of the court and is a clear violation of respondent's oath of
office.
In compliance with this Court's resolution dated May, 25, 1979,
respondent filed his comment on the affidavit-complaint alleging
among other things that the complaint was without basis and
malicious in nature. He however, categorically admits having
borrowed money from complainant's son, Luis, Jr. He reasons
out that he was unable to repay the loan because Luis, Jr. failed
to appear at the appointed place of the payment. Respondent
further cites the fact of Luis Jr.'s absence from the country to
justify such act of non-payment.
Complainant, in his reply, challenged the veracity of
respondent's contentions and reiterated his previous allegation
of respondent's unjustified refusal to settle his indebtness
despite repeated demands.
On October 15, 1979, the case was duly referred to the Office of
the Solicitor General for investigation, report and
recommendation pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 139 of the Rules
of Court and was assigned to the Office of Solicitor Jesus G.
Bersamira. After the investigation conducted by said Solicitor,
wherein respondent failed to appear despite due notice, the
case was deemed submitted for report and recommendation.
Solicitor Bersamira, however, was appointed to the Bench and
no report nor recommendation was made by him. On November
8, 1984 the case was re-assigned to another Solicitor.
On March 12, 1990, the Solicitor General rendered its report, the
dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that Atty.
Prudencio S. Saludares be charged with violation of
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court of the
Philippines and his Lawyer's Oath and that he be
suspended for 1 year from the practice of law.
Attached is a copy of the complaint for suspension.
(Solicitor General's Report and Recommendation, p. 3)

LEGAL PROFESSION

The Solicitor General found that respondent's unjustified refusal


to settle his debt was apparent from the averments in the
affidavit-complaint and this fact was sufficiently established
during the proceedings before the investigating Solicitor. The
Solicitor General further add that respondent's refusal to pay the
debt constitutes a violation of his lawyer's oath under Section 27
of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, and is therefore a proper
subject for disciplinary action.
There is no doubt that respondent, borrowed P1,000.00 from
Luis Constantino, Jr. purportedly for an urgent personal need,
promising to pay it back the following day. As a matter of fact,
the respondent admits said indebtness but has not given any just
and valid reason for his refusal to pay this debt.
It has been held that when a lawyer's integrity is challenged by
evidence, it is not enough that he denies the charges against
him, he must meet the issues and overcome the evidence for the
relator and show proof that he still maintains the highest degree
of morality and integrity which is at all times expected of him
(Quingwa vs. Puno, 19 SCRA 439 [1967] ).
By his failure to present convincing evidence to justify his nonpayment of the debt, not to mention his seeming indifference to
the complaint brought against him made apparent by his
unreasonable absence from the proceedings before the Solicitor
General, respondent failed to demonstrate that he still
possessed the integrity and morality demanded of a member of
the Bar.
Granting arguendo that he failed to meet Luis, Jr. at the
appointed place of payment, respondent does not deny the fact
that he has refused and still refuses to repay the P1,000.00 loan
despite repeated demands by complainant who was duly
authorized to collect the same. Had respondent intended to
settle his indebtness, he could have done so in several instances
repayment was demanded of him.
It is clear from the records that after Luis, Jr. left the country,
complainant and his wife took turns in trying to recover the debt
from respondent, only to be repeatedly turned away emptyhanded. This prompted Luis, Jr. to write respondent a letter
dated February 3, 1978 reminding the latter of the P1,000.00
loan extended to him and at the same time demanding payment
thereof. (Rollo, p. 19) This however, like the other demands, was
left unheeded.
The foregoing factual antecedents compel Us to conclude that
from the very beginning, respondent had no intention to honor
and/or pay his just debt. We cannot simply close our eyes to the
unwarranted obstinacy displayed by respondent in evading
payment of a debt validly incurred. Such a conduct, to say the
least, is unbecoming and does not speak well of a member of the
Bar. A lawyer's professional and personal conduct must at all
times be kept beyond reproach and above suspicion. He must
perform his duties to the Bar, to the courts, to his clients, and to

Page 31

society with honor and dignity (Marcelo vs. Javier, 214 SCRA 1
[1992] ).
The facts and evidence obtaining in this case indubitably
establish respondent's failure to live up to his duties as a lawyer
in consonance with the strictures of the lawyer's oath, the Code
of Professional Responsibility and the Canons of Professional
Ethics, thereby degrading not only his person but his profession
as well.
Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility clearly
provides that a lawyer must 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 respect and confidence
of the public. Both his professional and personal conduct must
be kept beyond reproach and above suspicion. He is required not
only in fact to be possessed of good moral character, but must
also be perceived to be leading a life in accordance with the
highest moral standards of the community. His conduct should
be characterized by candor, competence and fairness (Roque vs.
Clemencio, 212 SCRA 618 [1992] ).
It bears stressing that a lawyer can do honor to the legal
profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the
bar, to the courts and to his clients. No moral qualification for
bar membership is more important that truthfulness and candor.
(Fellner vs. Bar Association of Baltimore City, 131 A. 2d 729 as
cited in Tan vs. Sabandal, 206 SCRA 473 [1992]). To this end
nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity
which might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the
public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of the profession
(Lyons vs. Hall [LQ App] 90 so2d 519, 60 ALR 2d 1003 as cited in
Marcelo vs. Javier, supra).
While it is true that there was no attorney-client relationship
between respondent and complainant, it is well-settled that an
attorney may be removed or otherwise disciplined not only for
malpractice and dishonesty in the profession, but also for gross
misconduct not connected with his professional duties, showing
him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges
which his license and the law confer upon him (Lizaso vs.
Amante, 198 SCRA 1 [1991] ).
In the case at bar, it is clear to the Court that the conduct of
respondent Saludares in failing to honor his just debt to
complainant's son constituted dishonest and immoral conduct.
This dishonest conduct was compounded by respondent's act of
interjecting paltry excuses for his unwarranted refusal to pay a
valid and just debt.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby ORDERS the Suspension of
Attorney Prudencio S. Saludares from the practice of law for a
period of three (3) months from notice, with the warning that a
repetition of the same or any other misconduct will be dealt with
more severely. Let a copy of this resolution be spread on the

LEGAL PROFESSION

records of said respondent, with copies thereof furnished to the


Integrated Bar of the Philippines and duly circularized to all
courts.
SO ORDERED.
Feliciano, Romero, Melo, and Vitug, JJ., concur.
THIRD DIVISION
[A.C. No. 4369. November 28, 1997]
PIKE P. ARRIETA, Complainant, v. ATTY. JOEL A.
LLOSA, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
ROMERO, J.:
Complainant Pike P. Arrieta prays for the disbarment of Atty. Joel
A. Llosa for certifying under oath a Deed of Absolute Sale.
Particularly, complainant avers that respondent notarized a Deed
of Absolute Sale dated March 24, 19931 making it appear that
some of the vendors in said Deed namely, Edelina T. Bonilla,
Jesus T. Bonilla and Leonardo P. Toledano were parties and
signatories thereto when in truth and in fact, all three were
already dead prior to the execution of the said Deed of Absolute
Sale. Jesus T. Bonilla died on August 22, 19922 while Leonardo P.
Toledano died on November 1, 1992.3 Edelina T. Bonilla allegedly
died on or about June 11, 1992.
In answer, respondent admitted having notarized the Deed of
Absolute Sale. But before affixing his notarial seal, he first
ascertained the authenticity of the signatures, verified the
identities of the signatories, and determined the voluntariness of
its execution. Satisfied with all of the above, it was only then that
he certified the document.
Curiously, on September 9, 1996, complainant had a complete
turn-around and moved for the dismissal of his complaint. He
alleged that the instant case is only a product of
misunderstanding and misinterpretation of some facts and is
now convinced that everything is in order.
The designated Investigating Commissioner of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines recommended the dismissal of the instant
case. The Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines adopted the above recommendation and resolved to
dismiss the instant case after finding no compelling reason to
continue with the disbarment proceedings.
This Court cannot agree.

Page 32

Sec. 1 of Public Act No. 2103 provides:


(a) The acknowledgment shall be made before a notary public or
an officer duly authorized by law of the country to take
acknowledgment of instruments or documents in the place
where the act is done. The notary public or the officer taking the
acknowledgment shall certify that the person acknowledging the
instrument or document is known to him and that he is the same
person who executed it, and acknowledged that the same is his
free act and deed. The certificate shall be made under his official
seal, if he is by law required to keep a seal, and if not, his
certificate shall so state.
It is thus clear from the foregoing that the party acknowledging
must appear before the notary public or any person authorized
to take acknowledgment of instruments or documents.4 Aside
from being required to appear before the Notary Public, it is
similarly incumbent upon the person acknowledging the
instrument to declare before the same Notary Public that the
execution of the instrument was done by him of his own free
will.
In the Acknowledgment of the Deed of Sale, respondent
certified: BEFORE ME, this 24th day of March, 1993 at
Dumaguete City, Philippines, personally appeared x x x Jesus
Bonilla; x x x Leonardo Toledano; x x x.5 Respondent claims that
as a Notary Public, he asked the signatories whether the
signatures appearing above their respective names were theirs,
and whether they voluntarily executed the Deed of Absolute
Sale. In order to ascertain their identities, respondent asked for
their respective residence certificates.
Except for Edelina T. Bonilla whose alleged death was not
evidenced by a death certificate, respondent certified in the
acknowledgment that Jesus T. Bonilla and Leonardo P. Toledano
personally appeared before him. Respondents acts require the
presence of the vendors to be able to verify the authenticity of
their signatures, the identities of the signatories and the
voluntariness of the execution of the Deed. It defies imagination
and belief how these could have happened. It would have been
impossible, both physically and legally, for Jesus T. Bonilla and
Leonardo P. Toledano to have personally subscribed and sworn
before respondent as to the authenticity and validity of the Deed
of Sale as they had already passed on to the Great Beyond prior
to the execution of the said documents.
Yet, respondent certified to this effect. By affixing his notarial
seal on the instrument, he converted the Deed of Absolute Sale,
from being a private document into a public document. By
certifying the Deed, respondent, in effect, proclaimed to the
world (1) that all the parties therein personally appeared before
him; (2) that they are all personally known to him; (3) that they
were the same persons who executed the instruments; (4) that
he inquired into the voluntariness of execution of the
instrument; and (5) they acknowledged personally before him
that they voluntarily and freely executed the same.

LEGAL PROFESSION

Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. On the


contrary, it is invested with substantial public interest, such that
only those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries
public. Notarization of a private document converts the
document into a public one making it admissible in court without
further proof of its authenticity.6 A notarial document is by law
entitled to full faith and credit upon its face and, for this reason,
notaries public must observe with the utmost care the basic
requirements in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, the
confidence of the public in the integrity of this form of
conveyance would be undermined.7chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
As a lawyer commissioned to be a notary public, respondent is
mandated to discharge his sacred duties which are dictated by
public policy and, as such, impressed with public interest.
Faithful observance and utmost respect of the legal solemnity of
an oath in an acknowledgment or jurat is sacrosanct. 8
It is for the above reason that this Court is most concerned about
the explanation given by complainant for withdrawing his
complaint against respondent. In his Motion to Dismiss dated
September 9, 1996, complainant declares:
xxx xxx xxx
That he is now fully convinced that everything was in order, and
that nobody was ever prejudiced by the acts of the respondent.
Herein complainant has realized that he himself, or any other
legal practitioner, would have done similarly as the respondent,
if confronted with such an urgent voluntary transaction in an
emergency situation; x x x.
That respondent acted the way he did because he was
confronted with an alleged urgent situation is no excuse at all. As
an individual, and even more so as a member of the legal
profession, he is required to obey the laws of the land AT ALL
TIMES, to refrain from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct AT ALL TIMES, to uphold the integrity of his
profession AT ALL TIMES, to promote respect to his profession
AT ALL TIMES, and to act with justice AT ALL TIMES.
It is dismaying to note how respondent so cavalierly disregarded
the requirements and solemnities of the Notarial Law simply to
accomodate his clients. Not only did he commit an illegal act but
also did so without thinking of the possible damage or prejudice
that might result from non-observance of the same.
As a lawyer, respondent breached his professional responsibility
by certifying under oath an instrument fully knowing that some
of the signatories thereto were long dead. This Court cannot
countenance this practice, especially coming, as it does, from
respondent who formerly served as president of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines-Negros Oriental Chapter, President of the
Dumaguete Lions Club and City Councilor of Dumaguete. If
indeed respondent had taken steps to verify the identities of the

Page 33

signatories, he would have easily known that the signatures were


fake as they purported to be those of his former clients.
It is worth stressing that the practice of law is not a right but a
privilege bestowed by the State on those who show that they
possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications required by
law for the conferment of such privilege.9 [M]embership in the
bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. There being no
lifetime guaranty, a lawyer has the privilege and right to practice
law only during good behavior and can be deprived of it for
misconduct ascertained and declared by judgment of the court
after opportunity to be heard has been afforded
him.10chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Pursuant to the foregoing, it is primarily required of lawyers to
obey the Constitution and laws of the land.11 They must refrain
from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.12chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
An attorney may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of
his oath or of his duties as an attorney and counsellor, which
include statutory grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of
the Rules of Court, all of these being broad enough to cover
practically any misconduct of a lawyer in his professional or
private capacity.13
Respondents act of certifying under oath a Deed of Absolute Sale
knowing that some of the vendors were already dead, they being
his former clients, constitutes misconduct. But this being his first
administrative offense, such should not warrant the supreme
penalty of disbarment.
ACCORDINGLY, this Court finds respondent Atty. Joel A. Llosa
guilty
of
misconduct.
Consequently,
he
is
ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months
effective immediately, with a warning that another infraction
would be dealt with more severely.

LAWYER AND THE LEGAL


PROFESSION
EN BANC
ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY
LABORATORY HIGH SCHOOL
(SLU-LHS) FACULTY and STAFF,
Complainant,

- versus -

ATTY. ROLANDO C. DELA CRUZ,


Respondent.

A.C. No. 6010


Present:
PANGANIBAN, C.J.,
PUNO,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,*
CARPIO MORALES,
CALLEJO, SR.,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
GARCIA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:
August 28, 2006

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished all the courts of the


land as well as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of
the Bar Confidant and recorded in the personal files of
respondent himself.

x-----------------------------------------------x
DECISION

SO ORDERED.
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Melo, Francisco, and Panganiban, JJ.,
concur.

This is a disbarment case filed by the Faculty members and


Staff of the Saint Louis University-Laboratory High School (SLULHS) against Atty. Rolando C. Dela Cruz, principal of SLU-LHS,
predicated on the following grounds:
1) Gross Misconduct:
From the records of the case, it appears that there is a
pending criminal case for child abuse allegedly committed by
him against a high school student filed before the Prosecutors

LEGAL PROFESSION

Page 34

Office of Baguio City; a pending administrative case filed by the


Teachers, Staff, Students and Parents before an Investigating
Board created by SLU for his alleged unprofessional and
unethical acts of misappropriating money supposedly for the
teachers; and the pending labor case filed by SLU-LHS Faculty
before the NLRC, Cordillera Administrative Region, on alleged
illegal deduction of salary by respondent.
2) Grossly Immoral Conduct:
In contracting a second marriage despite the existence of
his first marriage; and
3) Malpractice:
In notarizing documents despite the expiration of his
commission.
According to complainant, respondent was legally married
to Teresita Rivera on 31 May 1982 at Tuba, Benguet, before the
then Honorable Judge Tomas W. Macaranas. He thereafter
contracted a subsequent marriage with one Mary Jane Pascua,
before the Honorable Judge Guillermo Purganan. On 4 October
1994, said second marriage was subsequently annulled for being
bigamous.
On the charge of malpractice, complainant alleged that
respondent deliberately subscribed and notarized certain legal
documents on different dates from 1988 to 1997, despite
expiration of respondents notarial commission on 31 December
1987. A Certification[1] dated 25 May 1999 was issued by the
Clerk of Court of Regional Trial Court (RTC), Baguio City, to the
effect that respondent had not applied for commission as Notary
Public for and in the City of Baguio for the period 1988 to
1997. Respondent performed acts of notarization, as evidenced
by the following documents:
1.
Affidavit
of
Ownership[2] dated 8 March 1991, executed
by Fernando T. Acosta, subscribed and sworn
to before Rolando Dela Cruz;
2.
Affidavit[3] dated 26
September 1992, executed by Maria
Cortez Atos, subscribed and sworn to before
Rolando Dela Cruz;
3.
Affidavit[4] dated 14
January 1992, executed by Fanolex James
A. Menos, subscribed and sworn to before
Rolando Dela Cruz;
4.
Affidavit[5] dated 23
December
1993,
executed
by Ponciano V. Abalos, subscribed and sworn
to before Rolando Dela Cruz;
5.
Sale[6] dated 23

LEGAL PROFESSION

by Danilo Gonzales
of Senecio C. Marzan,
Rolando Dela Cruz;

in
notarized

favor
by

6.
Joint Affidavit By Two
Disinherited Parties[7] dated 5 March 1994,
executed
by
Evelyn
C. Canullas and Pastora C. Tacadena,
subscribed
and
sworn
to
before
Rolando Dela Cruz;
7.
Sworn
Statement[8] dated 31 May 1994, executed
by Felimon B. Rimorin, subscribed and sworn
to before Rolando Dela Cruz;
Deed of Sale[9] dated 17
August
1994,
executed
by
Woodrow Apurado in favor of Jacinto Batara,
notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz;
8.

9.
Joint Affidavit by Two
Disinterested Parties[10] dated 1 June 1994,
executed
by Ponciano V. Abalos and Arsenio C. Sibayan,
subscribed
and
sworn
to
before
Rolando Dela Cruz;
10.
Absolute
Deed
of
Sale[11] dated 23 March 1995, executed by
Eleanor D.Meridor in favor of Leonardo N.
Benter, notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz;
11.
Deed
of
Absolute
Sale[12] dated 20 December 1996, executed
by Mandapat in favor of Mario R. Mabalot,
notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz;
12.
Joint Affidavit By Two
Disinterested Parties[13] dated 17 April 1996,
executed by Villiam C. Ambong and Romeo
L. Quiming, subscribed and sworn to before
Rolando Dela Cruz;
13.
Conditional
Deed
of
Sale[14] dated 27 February 1997, executed by
Aurelia Demot Cados in favor of Jose Ma.
A. Pangilinan, notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz;
14.
Memorandum
of
Agreement[15] dated 19 July 1996, executed by
JARCO represented by Mr. Johnny Teope and
AZTEC Construction represented by Mr.
George Cham,
notarized
by
Rolando Dela Cruz.

Absolute
Date
of
June
1993,
executed

Page 35

Quite remarkably, respondent, in his comment, denied the


charges of child abuse, illegal deduction of salary and others
which are still pending before the St. Louis University (SLU),
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and the
Prosecutors Office. He did not discuss anything about the
allegations of immorality in contracting a second marriage and
malpractice in notarizing documents despite the expiration of his
commission.
After the filing of comment, We referred[16] the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), for investigation, report
and recommendation.
The IBP conducted the mandatory preliminary conference.
The complainants, thereafter, submitted their position
paper which is just a reiteration of their allegations in their
complaint.
Respondent, on his part, expressly admitted his second
marriage despite the existence of his first marriage, and the
subsequent nullification of the former. He also admitted having
notarized certain documents during the period when
his notarial commission had already expired. However, he
offered some extenuating defenses such as good faith, lack of
malice and noble intentions in doing the complained acts.
After the submission of their position papers, the case was
deemed submitted for resolution.
On 30 March 2005, Commissioner Acerey C. Pacheco
submitted his report and recommended that:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is
respectfully recommended that respondent be
administratively penalized for the following acts:
a. For contracting a second
marriage without taking
the
appropriate legal steps to have the
first marriage annulled first, he be
suspended from the practice of law
for one (1) year, and
b. For notarizing certain legal
documents despite full knowledge of
the
expiration
of
his notarial commission,
he
be
suspended from the practice of law
for another one (1) year or for a total
of two (2) years.[17]

On 17 December 2005, the IBP Board of Governors,


approved and adopted the recommendation of Commissioner
Pacheco, thus:

LEGAL PROFESSION

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is


hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report
and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner of the above-entitled case,
herein made part of this Resolution as Annex
A and, finding the recommendation fully
supported by the evidence on record and the
applicable laws and rules, and considering
that Respondent contracted a second
marriage without taking appropriate legal
steps to have the first marriage annulled, Atty.
Rolando C. dela Cruz is hereby SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for one (1) year and
for notarizing legal documents despite full
knowledge
of
the
expiration
of
his notarial commission
Atty.
Rolando
C. dela Cruz is SUSPENDED from the practice
of law for another one (1) year, for a total of
two (2) years Suspension from the practice of
law.[18]

This Court finds the recommendation of the IBP to fault


respondent well taken, except as to the penalty contained
therein.
At the threshold, it is worth stressing that the practice
of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the State on
those who show that they possess the qualifications required by
law for the conferment of such privilege. Membership in the bar
is a privilege burdened with conditions. A lawyer has the
privilege and right to practice law only during good behavior, and
he can be deprived of it for misconduct ascertained and declared
by judgment of the court after opportunity to be heard has been
afforded him. Without invading any constitutional privilege or
right, an attorneys right to practice law may be resolved by a
proceeding to suspend, based on conduct rendering him unfit to
hold a license or to exercise the duties and responsibilities of an
attorney. It must be understood that the purpose of suspending
or disbarring him as an attorney is to remove from the
profession a person whose misconduct has proved him unfit to
be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging to an
office of attorney and, thus, to protect the public and those
charged with the administration of justice, rather than to punish
an attorney. Elaborating on this, we said on Maligsa v.
Atty. Cabanting,[19] that the Bar should maintain a high standard
of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing. A
lawyer brings honor to the legal profession by faithfully
performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to
his clients. A member of the legal fraternity should refrain from
doing any act which might lessen in any degree the confidence
and trust reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty and
integrity of the legal profession. Towards this end, an attorney
may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath or of
his duties as an attorney and counselor, which include statutory
grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of

Page 36

Court, all of these being broad enough to cover practically any


misconduct of a lawyer in his professional or private capacity.
Equally worthy of remark is that the law profession does
not prescribe a dichotomy of standards among its
members. There is no distinction as to whether the
transgression is committed in the lawyers professional capacity
or in his private life. This is because a lawyer may not divide his
personality so as to be an attorney at one time and a mere
citizen at another.[20] Thus, not only his professional activities
but even his private life, insofar as the latter may reflect
unfavorably upon the good name and prestige of the profession
and the courts, may at any time be the subject of inquiry on the
part of the proper authorities.[21]
One of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is
that
an
applicant
must
possess
good
moral
character. Possession of such moral character as requirement to
the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice must be
continuous. Otherwise, membership in the bar may be
terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral
conduct.[22]
In the case at bench, there is no dispute
that respondent and Teresita Rivera contracted marriage on 31
May 1982 before Judge Tomas W. Macaranas. In less than a
year, they parted ways owing to their irreconcilable differences
without seeking judicial recourse. The union bore no
offspring. After their separation in-fact, respondent never knew
the whereabouts of Teresita Rivera since he had lost all forms of
communication with her. Seven years thereafter, respondent
became attracted to one Mary Jane Pascua, who was also a
faculty member of SLU-LHS. There is also no dispute over the
fact that in 1989, respondent married Mary Jane Pascua in the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Baguio City, Branch
68. Respondent even admitted this fact. When the second
marriage was entered into, respondents prior marriage
with Teresita Rivera was still subsisting, no action having been
initiated before the court to obtain a judicial declaration of
nullity or annulment of respondents prior marriage
to Teresita Rivera or a judicial declaration of presumptive death
of Teresita Rivera.
Respondent was already a member of the Bar when he
contracted the bigamous second marriage in 1989, having been
admitted to the Bar in 1985. As such, he cannot feign ignorance
of the mandate of the law that before a second marriage may be
validly contracted, the first and subsisting marriage must first be
annulled by the appropriate court. The second marriage was
annulled only on 4 October 1994 before the RTC of Benguet,
Branch 9, or about five years after respondent contracted his
second marriage. The annulment of respondents second
marriage has no bearing to the instant disbarment
proceeding. Firstly, as earlier emphasized, the annulment came
after the respondents second bigamous marriage. Secondly, as
we held in In re: Almacen, a disbarment case is sui generis for it is
neither purely civil nor purely criminal but is rather an

LEGAL PROFESSION

investigation by the court into the conduct of its officers. Thus, if


the acquittal of a lawyer in a criminal action is not determinative
of an administrative case against him, or if an affidavit of
withdrawal of a disbarment case does not affect its course, then
neither will the judgment of annulment of respondents second
marriage also exonerate him from a wrongdoing actually
committed. So long as the quantum of proof - clear
preponderance of evidence - in disciplinary proceedings against
members of the Bar is met, then liability attaches. [23]
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court cites grossly
immoral conduct as a ground for disbarment.
The Court has laid down with a common definition of
what constitutes immoral conduct, vis--vis, grossly immoral
conduct. Immoral conduct is that 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 and what is grossly immoral,that is, it must
be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so
unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree.[24]
Undoubtedly, respondents act constitutes immoral
conduct. But is it so gross as to warrant his disbarment? Indeed,
he exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of morality
required of him as a member of the Bar. In particular, he made a
mockery of marriage which is a sacred institution demanding
respect and dignity. His act of contracting a second marriage
while the first marriage was still in place, is contrary to honesty,
justice, decency and morality.[25]
However, measured against the definition, we are not
prepared to consider respondents act as grossly immoral. This
finds support in the following recommendation and observation
of the IBP Investigator and IBP Board of Governors, thus:
The uncontested assertions of the
respondent belies any intention to flaunt the
law and the high moral standard of the legal
profession, to wit:
a.
After his first failed marriage and
prior to his second marriage or for a period of
almost seven (7) years, he has not been
romantically involved with any woman;
b.
His second marriage was a show
of his noble intentions and total love for his
wife, whom he described to be very intelligent
person;
c.
He never absconded from his
obligations to support his wife and child;
d.
He never disclaimed paternity
over the child and husbandry (sic) with
relation to his wife;

Page 37

e.
After the annulment of his
second marriage, they have parted ways when
the mother and child went to Australia;
f.
Since then up
respondent remained celibate.[26]

to

now,

In the case of Terre v. Terre,[27] respondent was disbarred


because his moral character was deeply flawed as shown by the
following circumstances, viz: he convinced the complainant that
her prior marriage to Bercenilla was null and void ab initio and
that she was legally single and free to marry him. When
complainant and respondent had contracted their marriage,
respondent went through law school while being supported by
complainant, with some assistance from respondents
parents. After respondent had finished his law course and
gotten complainant pregnant, respondent abandoned the
complainant without support and without the wherewithal for
delivering his own child safely to a hospital.
In the case of Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma,[28] respondent was
also disbarred for his grossly immoral acts such as: first, he
abandoned his lawful wife and three children; second, he lured
an innocent young woman into marrying him; third,
he mispresented himself as a bachelor so he could contract
marriage in a foreign land; and fourth, he availed himself of
complainants resources by securing a plane ticket from
complainants office in order to marry the latters daughter. He
did this without complainants knowledge. Afterwards, he even
had the temerity to assure complainant that everything is
legal.
Such acts are wanting in the case at bar. In fact, no less
than the respondent himself acknowledged and declared his
abject apology for his misstep. He was humble enough to offer
no defense save for his love and declaration of his commitment
to his wife and child.
Based on the reasons stated above, we find the imposition
of disbarment upon him to be unduly harsh. The power to disbar
must be exercised with great caution, and may be imposed only
in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing
and character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court.
Disbarment should never be decreed where any lesser penalty
could accomplish the end desired.[29] In line with this philosophy,
we find that a penalty of two years suspension is more
appropriate. The penalty of one (1) year suspension
recommended by the IBP is too light and not commensurate to
the act committed by respondent.
As to the charge of misconduct for having notarized
several documents during the years 1988-1997 after his
commission as notary public had expired, respondent humbly
admitted having notarized certain documents despite his
knowledge that he no longer had authority to do so. He,

LEGAL PROFESSION

however, alleged that he received no payment in notarizing said


documents.
It has been emphatically stressed that notarization is not
an empty, meaningless, routinary act. On the contrary, it is
invested with substantive public interest, such that only those
who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries
public. Notarization of a private document converts the
document into a public one making it admissible in court without
further proof of its authenticity. A notarial document is by law
entitled to full faith and credit upon its face and, for
this reason, notaries public must observe with the utmost care
the basic requirements in the performance of their
duties. Otherwise, the confidence of the public in the integrity
of this form of conveyance would be undermined.[30]
The requirements for the issuance of a commission as
notary public must not be treated as a mere casual
formality. The Court has characterized a lawyers act of
notarizing documents without the requisite commission to do so
as reprehensible, constituting as it does not only malpractice
but also x x x the crime of falsification of public documents.[31]
The Court had occasion to state that where the
notarization of a document is done by a member of the
Philippine Bar at a time when he has no authorization or
commission to do so, the offender may be subjected to
disciplinary action or one, performing a notarial act without such
commission is a violation of the lawyers oath to obey the laws,
more specifically, the Notarial Law. Then, too, by making it
appear that he is duly commissioned when he is not, he is, for all
legal intents and purposes, indulging in deliberate falsehood,
which the lawyers oath similarly proscribes. These violations fall
squarely within the prohibition of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides: A lawyer
shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct. By acting as a notary public without the proper
commission to do so, the lawyer likewise violates Canon 7 of the
same Code, which directs every lawyer to uphold at all times the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession.
In the case of Buensuceso v. Barera,[32] a lawyer was
suspended for one year when he notarized five documents after
his commission as Notary Public had expired, to wit: a complaint
for ejectment, affidavit, supplemental affidavit, a deed of sale,
and a contract to sell. Guided by the pronouncement in said
case, we find that a suspension of two (2) years is justified under
the circumstances. Herein respondent notarized a total of
fourteen
(14)
documents[33] without
the
requisite notarial commission.
Other charges constituting respondents misconduct such
as the pending criminal case for child abuse allegedly committed
by him against a high school student filed before the
Prosecutors Office of Baguio City; the pending administrative
case filed by the Teachers, Staff, Students and Parents before an
Investigating Board created by SLU; and the pending labor case

Page 38

filed by SLU-LHS Faculty before the NLRC, Cordillera


Administrative Region, on alleged illegal deduction of salary by
respondent, need not be discussed, as they are still pending
before the proper forums. At such stages, the presumption of
innocence still prevails in favor of the respondent.
WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Rolando Dela Cruz
guilty of immoral conduct, in disregard of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, he is herebySUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of two (2) years, and another two (2)
years for notarizing documents despite the expiration of his
commission or a total of four (4) years of suspension.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished all the courts of
the land through the Court Administrator, as well as the IBP, the
Office of the Bar Confidant, and recorded in the personal records
of the respondent.
SO ORDERED.
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 1512 January 29, 1993
VICTORIA
BARRIENTOS, complainant,
vs.
TRANSFIGURACION DAAROL, respondent.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on August 20, 1975,
complainant Victoria C. Barrientos seeks the disbarment of
respondent Transfiguracion Daarol, ** a member of the
Philippine Bar, on grounds of deceit and grossly immoral
conduct.
After respondent filed his answer (Rollo, p. 12), the Court
Resolved to refer the case to the Solicitor General for
investigation, report and recommendation (Rollo, p. 18).
As per recommendation of the Solicitor General and for the
convenience of the parties and their witnesses who were
residing in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, the Provincial
Fiscal of said province was authorized to conduct the
investigation and to submit a report, together with transcripts of

LEGAL PROFESSION

stenographic notes and exhibits submitted by the parties, if any


(Rollo, p. 20).
On November 9, 1987, the Office of the Solicitor General
submitted its Report and Recommendation, viz.:
Evidence of the complainant:
. . . complainant Victoria Barrientos was single and a
resident of Bonifacio St., Dipolog City; that when she
was still a teenager and first year in college she came to
know respondent Transfiguracion Daarol in 1969 as he
used to go to their house being a friend of her sister
Norma; that they also became friends, and she knew
the respondent as being single and living alone in Galas,
Dipolog City; that he was the General Manager of
Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc.
(ZANECO) and subsequently transferred his residence
to the ZANECO compound at Laguna Blvd. at Del Pilar
St., Dipolog City (pp. 109-111, tsn, September 30,
1976).
That on June 27, 1973, respondent came to their house
and asked her to be one of the usherettes in the
Mason's convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City, from June
28 to 30, 1973 and, she told respondent to ask the
permission of her parents, which respondent did, and
her father consented; that for three whole days she
served as usherette in the convention and respondent
picked her up from her residence every morning and
took her home from the convention site at the end of
each day (pp. 112-114, tsn, id.).
That in the afternoon of July 1, 1973, respondent came
to complainant's house and invited her for a joy ride
with the permission of her mother who was a former
classmate of respondent; that respondent took her to
Sicayab in his jeep and then they strolled along the
beach, and in the course of which respondent proposed
his love to her; that respondent told her that if she
would accept him, he would marry her within six (6)
months from her acceptance; complainant told
respondent that she would think it over first; that from
then on respondent used to visit her in their house
almost every night, and he kept on courting her and
pressed her to make her decision on respondent's
proposal; that on July 7, 1973, she finally accepted
respondent's offer of love and respondent continued
his usual visitations almost every night thereafter; they
agreed to get married in December 1973 (pp. 115-119,
tsn, id.).
That in the morning of August 20, 1973, respondent
invited her, with the consent of her father, to a party at
the Lopez Skyroom; that at 7:00 p.m. of that day
respondent fetched her from her house and went to

Page 39

the Lopez Skyroom (pp. 119-121, tsn, id); that at about


10:00 p.m. of that evening they left the party at the
Lopez Skyroom, but before taking her home
respondent invited her for a joy ride and took her to
the airport at Sicayab, Dipolog City; respondent parked
the jeep by the beach where there were no houses
around; that in the course of their conversation inside
the jeep, respondent reiterated his promise to marry
her and then started caressing her downward and his
hand kept on moving to her panty and down to her
private parts (pp. 121-122, tsn. id.); that she then said:
"What is this Trans?", but he answered: "Day, do not be
afraid of me. I will marry you" and reminded her also
that "anyway, December is very near, the month we
have been waiting for" ([p], 122, tsn, id.), then he
pleaded, "Day, just give this to me, do not be afraid"
(ibid), and again reiterated his promise and assurances,
at the same time pulling down her panty; that she told
him that she was afraid because they were not yet
married, but because she loved him she finally agreed
to have sexual intercourse with him at the back seat of
the jeep; that after the intercourse she wept and
respondent again reiterated his promises and
assurances not to worry because anyway he would
marry her; and at about 12:00 midnight they went
home
(pp.
122-124, tsn, id.).
After August 20, 1973, respondent continued to invite
her to eat outside usually at the Honeycomb
Restaurant in Dipolog City about twice or three times a
week, after which he would take her to the airport
where they would have sexual intercourse; that they
had this sexual intercourse from August to October
1973 at the frequency of two or three times a week,
and she consented to all these things because she loved
him and believed in all his promises (pp. 125-127,
tsn, id.).
Sometime in the middle part of September, 1973
complainant noticed that her menstruation which
usually occurred during the second week of each
month did not come; she waited until the end of the
month and still there was no menstruation; she
submitted to a pregnancy test and the result was
positive; she informed respondent and respondent
suggested to have the fetus aborted but she objected
and respondent did not insist; respondent then told her
not to worry because they would get married within
one month and he would talk to her parents about
their marriage (pp. 129-132, tsn,id.).
On October 20, 1973, respondent came to
complainant's house and talked to her parents about
their marriage; it was agreed that the marriage would
be celebrated in Manila so as not to create a scandal as

LEGAL PROFESSION

complainant was already pregnant; complainant and


her mother left for Manila by boat on October 22, 1973
while respondent would follow by plane; and they
agreed to meet in Singalong, Manila, in the house of
complainant's sister Delia who is married to Ernesto
Serrano (pp. 132-135, tsn, id.).
On October 26, 1973, when respondent came to see
complainant and her mother at Singalong, Manila,
respondent told them that he could not marry
complainant because he was already married (p. 137,
tsn, id.); complainant's mother got mad and said:
"Trans, so you fooled my daughter and why did you let
us come here in Manila?" (p. 138, tsn, id.). Later on,
however, respondent reassured complainant not to
worry because respondent had been separated from
his wife for 16 years and he would work for the
annulment of his marriage and, subsequently marry
complainant (p. 139, tsn, id.); respondent told
complainant to deliver their child in Manila and assured
her of a monthly support of P250.00 (p. 140, tsn, id.);
respondent returned to Dipolog City and actually sent
the promised support; he came back to Manila in
January 1974 and went to see complainant; when
asked about the annulment of his previous marriage,
he told complainant that it would soon be approved
(pp. 141-142, tsn, id.); he came back in February and in
March 1974 and told complainant the same thing (p.
142, tsn, id.); complainant wrote her mother to come
to Manila when she delivers the child, but her mother
answered her that she cannot come as nobody would
be left in their house in Dipolog and instead suggested
that complainant go to Cebu City which is nearer;
complainant went to Cebu City in April 1974 and, her
sister Norma took her to the Good Shepherd Convent
at Banawa Hill; she delivered a baby girl on June 14,
1974 at the Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu City; and
the child was registered as "Dureza Barrientos" (pp.
143-148, tsn, id.).
In the last week of June 1974 complainant came to
Dipolog City and tried to contact respondent by phone
and, thru her brother, but to no avail; as she was
ashamed she just stayed in their house; she got sick
and her father sent her to Zamboanga City for medical
treatment; she came back after two weeks but still
respondent did not come to see her (tsn. 48-150,
tsn, id.); she consulted a lawyer and filed an
administrative case against respondent with the
National Electrification Administration; the case was
referred to the Zamboanga del Norte Electric
Cooperative (ZANECO) and it was dismissed and thus
she filed the present administrative case (pp. 150-151,
tsn, id.).
Evidence for the Respondent

Page 40

The evidence of the respondent consists of his sole


testimony and one exhibit, the birth certificate of the
child (Exh. 1). Respondent declared substantially as
follows: that he was born on August 6, 1932 in Liloy,
Zamboanga del Norte; that he married Romualda
Sumaylo in Liloy in 1955; that he had a son who is now
20 years old; that because of incompatibility he had
been estranged from his wife for 16 years; that in 1953
he was baptized as a moslem and thereby embraced
the
Islam
Religion
(pp.
173-180 tsn, Jan. 13, 1977); that he came to know
complainant's father since 1952 because he was his
teacher; likewise he knew complainant's mother
because they were former classmates in high school;
that he became acquainted with complainant when he
used to visit her sister, Norma, in their house; they
gradually became friends and often talked with each
other, and even talked about their personal problems;
that he mentioned to her his being estranged from his
wife; that with the consent of her parents he invited
her to be one of the usherettes in the Masonic
Convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City held on June 28-30,
1973 (pp. 185-192, tsn, id.); that the arrangement was
for him to fetch her from her residence and take her
home from the convention site; that it was during this
occasion that they became close to each other and
after the convention, he proposed his love to her on
July 7, 1973; that (sic) a week of courtship, she
accepted his proposal and since then he used to invite
her (pp. 193-194, tsn, id.).

when complainant was already in Manila, she asked


him if he was willing to marry her, he answered he
could not marry again, otherwise, he would be charged
with bigamy but he promised to file an annulment of
his marriage as he had been separated from his wife for
16 years; that complainant consented to have sexual
intercourse with him because of her love to him and he
did not resort to force, trickery, deceit or cajolery; and
that the present case was filed against him by
complainant because of his failure to give the money to
support complainant while in Cebu waiting for the
delivery of the child and, also to meet complainant's
medical expenses when she went to Zamboanga City
for medical check-up (pp. 198-207, tsn, id.).

That in the evening of August 20, 1973, respondent


invited complainant to be his partner during the
Chamber of Commerce affair at the Lopez Skyroom;
that at about 10:00 p.m. of that evening after the affair,
complainant complained to him of a headache, so he
decided to take her home but once inside the jeep, she
wanted to have a joy ride, so he drove around the city
and proceeded to the airport; that when they were at
the airport, only two of them, they started the usual
kisses and they were carried by their passion; they
forgot themselves and they made love; that before
midnight he took her home; that thereafter they
indulged in sexual intercourse many times whenever
they went on joy riding in the evening and ended up in
the airport which was the only place they could be
alone
(p. 195, tsn, id.).

2. That respondent is married to Romualda A. Sumaylo


with whom be has a son; that the marriage ceremony
was solemnized on September 24, 1955 at Liloy,
Zamboanga del Norte by a catholic priest, Rev. Fr.
Anacleto Pellamo, Parish Priest thereat; and that said
respondent had been separated from his wife for about
16 years at the time of his relationship with
complainant;

That it was sometime in the later part of October 1973


that complainant told him of her pregnancy; that they
agreed that the child be delivered in Manila to avoid
scandal and respondent would take care of expenses;
that during respondent's talk with the parents of
complainant regarding the latter's pregnancy, he told
him he was married but estranged from his wife; that

LEGAL PROFESSION

FINDING OF FACTS
From the evidence adduced by the parties, the
following facts are not disputed:
1. That the complainant, Victoria Barrientos, is single, a
college student, and was about 20 years and 7 months
old during the time (July-October 1975) of her
relationship with respondent, having been born on
December 23, 1952; while respondent Transfiguracion
Daarol is married, General Manager of Zamboanga del
Norte Electric Cooperative, and 41 years old at the time
of the said relationship, having been born on August 6,
1932;

3. That respondent had been known by the Barrientos


family for quite sometime, having been a former
student of complainant's father in 1952 and, a former
classmate of complainant's mother at the Andres
Bonifacio College in Dipolog City; that he became
acquainted with complainant's sister, Norma in 1963
and eventually with her other sisters, Baby and Delia
and, her brother, Boy, as he used to visit Norma at her
residence; that he also befriended complainant and
who became a close friend when he invited her, with
her parents' consent, to be one of the usherettes
during the Masonic Convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City
from June 28 to 30, 1973, and he used to fetch her at
her residence in the morning and took her home from
the convention site after each day's activities;

Page 41

4. That respondent courted complainant, and after a


week of courtship, complainant accepted respondent's
love on July 7, 1973; that in the evening of August 20,
1973, complainant with her parents' permission was
respondent's partner during the Chamber of Commerce
affair at the Lopez Skyroom in the Dipolog City, and at
about 10:00 o'clock that evening, they left the place but
before going home, they went to the airport at Sicayab,
Dipolog City and parked the jeep at the beach, where
there were no houses around; that after the usual
preliminaries, they consummated the sexual act and at
about midnight they went home; that after the first
sexual act, respondent used to have joy ride with
complainant which usually ended at the airport where
they used to make love twice or three times a week;
that as a result of her intimate relations, complainant
became pregnant;
5. That after a conference among respondent,
complainant and complainant's parents, it was agreed
that complainant would deliver her child in Manila,
where she went with her mother on October 22, 1973
by boat, arriving in Manila on the 25th and, stayed with
her brother-in-law Ernesto Serrano in Singalong,
Manila; that respondent visited her there on the 26th,
27th and 28th of October 1973, and again in February
and March 1974; that later on complainant decided to
deliver the child in Cebu City in order to be nearer to
Dipolog City, and she went there in April 1974 and her
sister took her to the Good Shepherd Convent at
Banawa Hill, Cebu City; that on June 14, 1974, she
delivered a baby girl at the Perpetual Succor Hospital in
Cebu City and, named her "Dureza Barrientos"; that
about the last week of June 1974 she went home to
Dipolog City; that during her stay here in Manila and
later in Cebu City, the respondent defrayed some of her
expenses; that she filed an administrative case against
respondent with the National Electrification
Administration; which complaint, however, was
dismissed; and then she instituted the present
disbarment proceedings against respondent.
xxx xxx xxx
In view of the foregoing, the undersigned respectfully
recommend
that
after
hearing,
respondent
Transfiguracion Daarol be disbarred as a lawyer. (Rollo,
pp. 28-51).
After a thorough review of the case, the Court finds itself in full
accord with the findings and recommendation of the Solicitor
General.
From the records, it appears indubitable that complainant was
never informed by respondent attorney of his real status as a
married individual. The fact of his previous marriage was

LEGAL PROFESSION

disclosed by respondent only after the complainant became


pregnant. Even then, respondent misrepresented himself as
being eligible to re-marry for having been estranged from his
wife for 16 years and dangled a marriage proposal on the
assurance that he would work for the annulment of his first
marriage. It was a deception after all as it turned out that
respondent never bothered to annul said marriage. More
importantly, respondent knew all along that the mere fact of
separation alone is not a ground for annulment of marriage and
does not vest him legal capacity to contract another marriage.
Interestingly enough. respondent lived alone in Dipolog City
though his son, who was also studying in Dipolog City, lived
separately from him. He never introduced his son and went
around with friends as though he was never married much less
had a child in the same locality. This circumstance alone belies
respondent's claim that complainant and her family were aware
of his previous marriage at the very start of his courtship. The
Court is therefore inclined to believe that respondent resorted to
deceit in the satisfaction of his sexual desires at the expense of
the gullible complainant. It is not in accordance with the nature
of the educated, cultured and respectable, which complainant's
family is, her father being the Assistant Principal of the local
public high school, to allow a daughter to have an affair with a
married man.
But what surprises this Court even more is the perverted sense
of respondent's moral values when he said that: "I see nothing
wrong with this relationship despite my being married." (TSN, p.
209, January 13, 1977; Rollo, p. 47) Worse, he even suggested
abortion. Truly, respondent's moral sense is so seriously
impaired that we cannot maintain his membership in the Bar.
In Pangan v. Ramos (107 SCRA 1 [1981]), we held that:
(E)ven his act in making love to another woman while
his first wife is still alive and their marriage still valid
and existing is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and
morality. Respondent made a mockery of marriage
which is a sacred institution demanding respect and
dignity.
Finally, respondent even had the temerity to allege that he is a
Moslem convert and as such, could enter into multiple marriages
and has inquired into the possibility of marrying complainant
(Rollo, p. 15). As records indicate, however, his claim of having
embraced the Islam religion is not supported by any evidence
save that of his self-serving testimony. In this regard, we need
only to quote the finding of the Office of the Solicitor General, to
wit:
When respondent was asked to marry complainant he
said he could not because he was already married and
would open him to a charge of bigamy (p. 200, tsn,
January 13, 1977). If he were a moslem convert entitled
to four (4) wives, as he is now claiming, why did he not
marry complainant? The answer is supplied by

Page 42

respondent himself. He said while he was a moslem,


but, having been married in a civil ceremony, he could
no longer validly enter into another civil ceremony
without committing bigamy because the complainant is
a christian (p. 242, tsn, January 13, 1977).
Consequently,
if
respondent
knew,
that
notwithstanding his being a moslem convert, he cannot
marry complainant, then it was grossly immoral for him
to have sexual intercourse with complainant because
he knew the existence of a legal impediment.
Respondent may not, therefore, escape responsibility
thru his dubious claim that he has embraced the Islam
religion.
(Rollo,
p. 49).
By his acts of deceit and immoral tendencies to appease his
sexual desires, respondent Daarol has amply demonstrated his
moral delinquency. Hence, his removal for conduct unbecoming
a member of the Bar on the grounds of deceit and grossly
immoral conduct (Sec. 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court) is in order.
Good moral character is a condition which precedes admission to
the Bar (Sec. 2, Rule 138, Rules of Court) and is not dispensed
with upon admission thereto. It is a continuing qualification
which all lawyers must possess (People v. Tuanda, 181 SCRA 682
[1990]; Delos Reyes v. Aznar, 179 SCRA 653 [1989]), otherwise, a
lawyer may either be suspended or disbarred.
As we have held in Piatt v. Abordo (58 Phil. 350 [1933], cited
in Leda v. Tabang, 206 SCRA 395 [1992]):
It cannot be overemphasized that the requirement of
good character is not only a condition precedent to
admission to the practice of law; its continued
possession is also essential for remaining in the practice
of law (People v. Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360, 30
January 1990, 181 SCRA 692). As aptly put by Mr.
Justice George A. Malcolm: "As good character is an
essential qualification for admission of an attorney to
practice, when the attorney's character is bad in such
respects as to show that he is unsafe and unfit to be
entrusted with the powers of an attorney, the court
retains the power to discipline him (Piatt v. Abordo, 58
Phil. 350 [1933]).
Only recently, another disbarment proceeding was resolved by
this Court against a lawyer who convinced a woman that her
prior marriage to another man was null and void ab initio and
she was still legally single and free to marry him (the lawyer),
married her, was supported by her in his studies, begot a child
with her, abandoned her and the child, and married another
woman (Terre vs. Terre, Adm. Case No. 2349, July 3, 1992).
Here, respondent, already a married man and about 41 years
old, proposed love and marriage to complainant, then still a 20year-old minor, knowing that he did not have the required legal
capacity. Respondent then succeeded in having carnal relations

LEGAL PROFESSION

with complainant by deception, made her pregnant, suggested


abortion, breached his promise to marry her, and then deserted
her and the child. Respondent is therefore guilty of deceit and
grossly immoral conduct.
The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who
measure up to the exacting standards of mental and moral
fitness. Respondent having exhibited debased morality, the
Court is constrained to impose upon him the most severe
disciplinary action disbarment.
The ancient and learned profession of law exacts from its
members the highest standard of morality. The members are, in
fact, enjoined to aid in guarding the Bar against the admission of
candidates unfit or unqualified because deficient either moral
character or education (In re Puno, 19 SCRA 439, [1967]; Pangan
vs. Ramos, 107 SCRA 1 [1981]).
As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good
moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral
character and must lead a life in accordance with the highest
moral standards of the community. More specifically, a member
of the Bar and an officer of the Court is not only required to
refrain from adulterous relationships or the keeping of
mistresses but must also behave himself in such a manner as to
avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is
flouting those moral standards (Tolosa vs. Cargo, 171 SCRA 21,
26 [1989], citing Toledo vs. Toledo, 7 SCRA 757 [1963] and
Royong vs. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859 [1963]).
In brief, We find respondent Daarol morally delinquent and as
such, should not be allowed continued membership in the
ancient and learned profession of law (Quingwa v. Puno, 19
SCRA 439 [1967]).
ACCORDINGLY, We find respondent Transfiguracion Daarol guilty
of grossly immoral conduct unworthy of being a member of the
Bar and is hereby ordered DISBARRED and his name stricken off
from the Roll of Attorneys. Let copies of this Resolution be
furnished to all courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and spread on the
personal record of respondent Daarol.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, GrioAquino, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo
and Campos, Jr., JJ., concur.
LAWYER AND THE COURTS
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

Page 43

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 115932 January 25, 1995
THE SPOUSES JOSE B. TIONGCO and LETICIA M.
TIONGCO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. SEVERIANO C. AGUILAR, Judge, RTC, Branch 35, Iloilo City,
and
the
Spouses
WILFREDO
and
LORENA
AGUIRRE, respondents.
RESOLUTION
DAVIDE, J.:
In the resolution of 26 September 1994, this Court required
ATTY. JOSE B. TIONGCO, as counsel for the petitioners, to show
cause why he should not be dealt with administratively for the
violation of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
considering:
. . . the insinuation of counsel for the petitioners that
this Court did not read the petition as borne out by the
following statement:
". . . Truly, it is hard to imagine that this
Honorable Court had read the petition and
the annexes attached thereto and hold that
the same has "failed to sufficiently show that
the respondent Court had committed a grave
abuse of discretion in rendering the
questioned judgment". . .
which, as earlier noted, is unfounded and malicious,
and considering further his use of intemperate
language in the petition, as exemplified by his
characterization of the decision of the respondent
Judge as having been "crafted in order to fool the
winning party"; as a "hypocritical judgment in plaintiffs'
favor"; one "you could have sworn it was the Devil who
dictated it"; or one with "perfidious character,"
although the petitioners as plaintiffs therein and who
were the prevailing party in the decision did not appeal
therefrom; and by his charge that the respondent Judge
was "a bit confused with that confusion which is the
natural product of having been born, nurtured and
brought up amongst the crowded surroundings of the
non-propertied class; In fact, His Honor, Respondent
Judge, the Honorable Severino O. Aguilar had not
owned any real property until March 5, 1974 when his
Honor was already either Public-Prosecutor or RTC
Judge; in one scale of the balance, a 311 square
meter lot, 6 houses from the Provincial Road, about 6
kilometers from the Iloilo City Hall of Justice, and, in the
other scale, His Honor's brand-new car, impeccable

LEGAL PROFESSION

attire, and dignified "mien"; and his charge that the


respondent Judge has "joined the defendants and their
counsel in a scheme to unlawfully deprive petitioners of
the possession and fruits of their property for the
duration of appeal"; and with respect to the Order of
30 May 1994, by describing the respondent Judge as a
"liar," "perjurer," or "blasphemer."
In his 2-page Compliance, dated 11 October 1994, he alleges
that:
If the undersigned has called anyone a "liar" "thief"
"perfidious" and "blasphemer" it is because he is in fact
a liar, thief, perfidious and blasphemer; "this Honorable
[sic] First Division, however, forget, that the
undersigned alsp [sic] called him a "robber" (Petition,
pp. 13 bottom; 14 bottom), a "rotten manipulator"
(Petition, p. 11 line 26) and "abetter" of graft and shady
deals (Petition, p. 12 bottom, p. 13 top); On the other
hand, if the undersigned called anybody "cross-eyed," it
must be because he is indeed cross-eyed particularly
when he sees but five (5) letters in an eight (8) letterword; Indeed, it must be a lousy Code of Professional
Responsibility and therefore stands in dire need of
amendment which punishes lawyer who truthfully
expose incompetent and corrupt judges before this
Honorable Supreme Court; It is therefore, respectfully
submitted, that for all his pains, the undersigned does
not deserve or is entitled to the honors of being dealt
with administratively or otherwise.
and prays:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the
undersigned respectfully prays of this
Honorable Supreme Court, that it forebear
from turning the undersigned into a martyr to
his principles.
Yet, he added the following:
WITH THE UNDERSIGNED'S RESPECTFUL
APOLOGIES AND UNDYING LOVE
(Constitution, Preamble, 66 word).
It must at once be noted that Atty. Tiongco did not at all show
cause why he should not be dealt with administratively for
violation of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
in view of his unfounded and malicious insinuation that this
Court did not at all read the petition in this case before it
concluded that the petition failed to sufficiently show that the
respondent court had committed a grave abuse of discretion.
Moreover, while he tried to justify as true his descriptions of the
respondent judge as a "liar," "thief." perfidious," and
"blasphemer" he did not offer any excuse for his use of the rest

Page 44

of the intemperate words enumerated in the resolution. Worse,


feeling obviously frustrated at the incompleteness of the Court's
enumeration of the intemperate words or phrases, he
volunteered to point out that in addition to those so
enumerated, he also called the respondent judge a "robber,"
"rotten manipulator," "abettor" of graft and corruption, and
"cross-eyed."
Atty. Tiongco's Compliance is unsatisfactory and is entirely
unacceptable for the following reasons: first, he impliedly
admitted the falsity of his insinuation that this Court did not read
the petition' second, except as to the words "liar," "thief,"
"perfidious'" and "blasphemer," he failed to address squarely the
other intemperate words and phrases enumerated in the
resolution of 26 September 1994, which failure amounts to an
admission of their intemperateness; third, he did not indicate
the circumstances upon which his defense of truth lies; and,
fourth, he miserably failed to show the relevance of the harsh
words and phrase to his petition.
We do not then hesitate to rule that by falsely and maliciously
insinuating that this Court did not at all read the petition in this
case, Atty. Tiongco not only exhibited his gross disrespect to and
contempt for this Court and exposed his plot to discredit the
Members of the First Division of the Court and put them to
public contempt or ridicule; he, as well, charged them with the
violation of their solemn duty to render justice, thereby creating
or promoting distrust in judicial administration which could have
the effect of "encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is
the source of disorder, thus undermining the foundation on
which rests the bulwark called judicial power to which those who
are aggrieved turn for protection and relief" (Salcedo vs.
Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724 [1953]).
In using in the petition in this case intemperate and scurrilous
words and phrases against the respondent judge which are
obviously uncalled for and entirely irrelevant to the petition and
whose glaring falsity is easily demonstrated by the respondent
judge's decision if favor of Atty. Tiongco and his wife in their case
for recovery of possession and damages, and by the dismissal of
the instant petition for failure of the petitioners to sufficiently
show that the respondent judge committed grave abuse of
discretion, Atty. Tiongco has equally shown his disrespect to and
contempt for the respondent judge, thereby diminishing public
confidence in the latter and eventually, in the judiciary, or
sowing mistrust in the administration of justice.

This duty is closely entwined with his vow in the lawyer's oath
"to conduct himself as a lawyer with all good fidelity to the
courts"; his duty under Section 20 (b), Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court "[t]o observe and maintain the respect due to the courts
of justice and judicial officers"; and his duty under the first canon
of the Canons Professional Ethics "to maintain towards the
courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary
incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its
incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its
supreme importance."
In Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer (20 SCRA 441, 444 [1967]),
this Court said:
By now, a lawyer's duties to the Court had become
commonplace. Really, there could hardly be any valid
excuse for lapses in the observance thereof. Section
20(b), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, in categorical
terms, spells out one such duty: "To observe and
maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and
judicial officers." As explicit is the first canon of legal
ethics which pronounces that "[i]t is the duty of the
lawyer to maintain towards the Courts a respectful
attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent
of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its
supreme importance." That same canon, as a corollary,
makes it peculiarly incumbent upon lawyers to support
the courts against "unjust criticism and clamor." And
more. The attorney's oath solemnly binds him to
conduct that should be "with all good fidelity . . . to the
courts." Worth remembering is that the duty of an
attorney to the courts "can only be maintained by
rendering no service involving any disrespect to the
judicial office which he is bound to uphold." [Lualhati
vs. Albert, 57 Phil. 86, 92].
We concede that a lawyer may think highly of his
intellectual endowment. That is his privilege. And, he
may suffer frustration at what he feels is others' lack of
it. That is his misfortune. Some such frame of mind,
however, should not be allowed to harden into a belief
that he may attack court's decision in words calculated
to jettison the time-honored aphorism that courts are
the temples of right. He should give due allowance to
the fact that judges are but men; and men are
encompassed by error, fettered by fallibility.

Consequently, Atty. Tiongco has made a strong case for a serious


violation of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
which reads as follows:

Expounding further on the lawyer's duty to the courts, this Court,


in Surigao Mineral Reservation Board vs. Cloribel(31 SCRA 1, 1617 [1970]), stated:

CANON 11 A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE AND


MAINTAIN THE RESPECT DUE TO THE COURTS
AND TO JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND SHOULD
INSIST ON SIMILAR CONDUCT BY OTHERS.

A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court


itself, an instrument or agency to advance the ends of
justice." [People ex rel. Karlin vs. Culkin, 60 A.L.R. 851,
855]. His duty is to uphold the dignity and the authority
of the courts to which he owes fidelity, "not to promote

LEGAL PROFESSION

Page 45

distrust in the administration in the administration of


justice." [In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595, 602]. faith in the
courts a lawyer should seek to preserve. For, to
undermine the judicial edifice "is disastrous to the
continuity of the government and to the attainment of
the liberties of the people." [Malcolm legal and Judicial
Ethics, 1949 ed., p. 160]. Thus has it been said of a
lawyer that "[a]s an officer of the court, it is his sworn
and moral duty to help build and not destroy
unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the
courts so essential to the proper administration of
justice." [People vs. Carillo, 77 Phil. 572, 580]. (See
also In re: Rafael C. Climaco, 55 SCRA 107 [1974]).
It does not, however, follow that just because a lawyer is an
officer of the court, he cannot criticize the courts. That is his
right as a citizen, and it is even his duty as an officer of the court
to avail of such right. Thus, In Re: Almacen(31 SCRA 562, 579-580
[1970]), this Court explicitly declared:
Hence, as a citizen and as an officer of the court, a
lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right, but
also to consider it his duty to avail of such right. No law
may abridge this right. Nor is he "professionally
answerable for a scrutiny into the official conduct of
the judge, which would not expose him to legal
animadversion as a citizen." (Case of Austin, 28 Am dec.
657, 665).
"Above all others, the members of the bar
have the best opportunity to become
conversant with the character and efficiency
of out judges. No class is less likely to abuse
the privilege, or no other class has as great an
interest in the preservation of an able and
upright bench." (State Board of Examiners in
Law vs. Hart, 116 N.W. 212, 216).
To curtail the right of a lawyer to be critical of the
foibles of courts and judges is to seal the lips of those in
the best position to give advice and who might consider
it their duty to speak disparagingly. "Under such a rule,"
so far as the bar is concerned, "the merits of a sitting
judge may be rehearsed, but as to his demerits there
must be profound silence. (State vs. Circuit Court (72
N.W. 196)).
Nevertheless, such a right is not without limit. For, as this Court
warned in Almacen:
But it is a cardinal condition of all such criticism that it
shall be bona fide, and shall not spill over the walls of
decency and propriety. A wide chasm exists between
fair criticism, on the one hand, and abuse and slander
of courts and the judges thereof, on the other.
Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of

LEGAL PROFESSION

the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct


that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
xxx xxx xxx
The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to
the courts is essential to the orderly administration of
justice. hence, in the assertion of their client's rights,
lawyers even those gifted with superior intellect
are enjoined to rein up their tempers.
Elsewise stated, the right to criticize, which is guaranteed by the
freedom of speech and of expression in the Bill of Rights of the
Constitution, must be exercised responsibly, for every right
carries with it a corresponding obligation. Freedom is not
freedom from responsibility, but freedom with responsibility.
In Zaldivar vs. Gonzales (166 SCRA 316, 353-354 [1988]), it was
held:
Respondent Gonzales is entitled to the constitutional
guarantee of free spe ech. No one seeks to deny him
that right, least of all this Court. What respondent
seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of
expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is not
absolute and that freedom of expression needs an
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 justice. There is no antimony
between free expression and the integrity of the
system of administering justice. For the protection and
maintenance of freedom of expression itself can be
secured only within the context of a functioning and
orderly system of dispensing justice, within the context,
in other words, of viable independent institutions for
delivery of justice which are accepted by the general
community.
Proscribed then are, inter alia, the use of unnecessary language
which jeopardizes high esteem in courts, creates or promotes
distrust in judicial administration (Rheem, supra), or tends
necessarily to undermine the confidence of the people in the
integrity of the members of this Court and to degrade the
administration of justice by this Court (In re: Sotto, 82 Phil. 595
[1949]); or of offensive and abusive language (In re: Rafael
Climaco, 55 SCRA 107 [1974]); or abrasive and offensive
language (Yangson vs. Salandanan, 68 SCRA 42 [1975]); or of
disrespectful, offensive, manifestly baseless, and malicious
statements in pleadings or in a letter addressed to the judge
(Baja vs. Macando, 158 SCRA 391 [1988], citing the resolution of
19 January 1988 in Phil. Public Schools Teachers Association vs.
Quisumbing, G.R. No. 76180, and Ceniza vs. Sebastian, 130 SCRA
295 [1984]); or of disparaging, intemperate, and uncalled-for
remarks (Sangalang vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 177 SCRA
87 [1989]).

Page 46

That Atty. Tiongco had exceeded the bounds of decency and


propriety in making the false and malicious insinuation against
this Court, particularly the Members of the First Division, and the
scurrilous characterizations of the respondent judge is, indeed,
all too obvious. Such could only come from anger, if not hate,
after he was not given what he wanted. Anger or hate could only
come from one who "seems to be of that frame of mind
whereby he considers as in accordance with law and justice
whatever he believes to be right in his own opinion and as
contrary to law and justice whatever does not accord with his
views" (Montecillo vs. Gica, 60 SCRA 234, 238 [1974]). When
such anger or hate is coupled with haughtiness or arrogance as
when he even pointed out other intemperate words in his
petition which this Court failed to incorporate in the resolution
of 26 September 1994, and with seething sarcasm as when he
prays that this Court "forebear[s] from turning . . . [him] into a
martyr to his principles" and ends up his Compliance with the
"RESPECTFUL APOLOGIES AND UNDYING LOVE" (Constitution
Preamble, 66th word), "nothing more can extenuate his
liability for gross violation of Canon 11 of the Code of
professional Responsibility and his other duties entwined
therewith as earlier adverted to.

complainant Lt. Lamberto P. Villaflor before the Metropolitan


Trial Court, Branch 53, of Kalookan City. Metropolitan Trial Court
Judge Romanito A. Amatong decided the ejectment case in favor
of Biyaya Corporation. Complainant appealed this decision to
the Regional Trial Court of Kalookan City, Branch 131,[4] which
affirmed the decision of the MTC. Not satisfied with the decision
of the RTC, complainant brought the case on appeal before the
Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA G.R No.
50623.[5] Losing no time, complainant also filed with the Court of
Appeals an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for the Issuance of a
Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the impending
demolition of his family home.

WHEREFORE, for such violation, ATTY. JOSE B. TIONGCO is


hereby ordered to pay a Fine of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS
(P5,000.00) and WARNED that the commission of the same or
similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more money.

SO ORDERED.

Let a copy of this resolution be attached to the record of Atty.


Jose B. Tiongco in this Court.
Padilla, Quiason and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
Bellosillo, J., took no part.
EN BANC
[A.C. - CBD No. 471. June 10, 1999]
LT. LAMBERTO P. VILLAFLOR, complainant, vs. ALVIN T.
SARITA, respondent.
RESOLUTION
KAPUNAN, J.:
This administrative case originated from a sworn affidavitcomplaint[1] dated 14 March 1997, filed before the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Commission on Bar Discipline, by
Lt. Lamberto P. Villaflor seeking the disbarment of Atty. Alvin T.
Sarita for disregarding the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
issued by the Court of Appeals in relation to the case entitled
Lamberto Villaflor vs. Biyaya Corporation, et al.[2]now pending
with the same court.
Respondent Atty. Alvin T. Sarita is the counsel of Biyaya
Corporation, the plaintiff in the ejectment case[3] filed against

LEGAL PROFESSION

In a Resolution dated 27 December 1996, the Court of


Appeals granted the prayer for a TRO, the dispositive portion of
which reads as follows:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, let a restraining order forthwith
issue against defendants-appellees including the public
respondent Judge or Sheriff or any person under him from
evicting and demolishing the family house of the movant,
pending appeal. x x x

The TRO was specifically addressed to, and personally


served on, the Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 131, Kalookan City;
the Sheriff/Deputy Sheriff, RTC Branch 131, Kalookan City; Atty.
Alvin T. Sarita; and Atty. Romeo F. Barza.[6] Despite the TRO
issued by the Court of Appeals, respondent on 8 January 1997,
filed before the MTC an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for the
Implementation and/or Enforcement of the Writ of
Demolition[7] which had already been issued by the trial court as
early as 12 August 1996. In his motion which is quoted
hereunder, respondent stated the reason why he did not heed
the TRO:
1. That last January 7, 1997, plaintiff received
a Resolution dated December 27, 1996 from
the Thirteenth Division of the Court of Appeals
granting the issuance of a Temporary Restraining
Order (TRO).
2. A
close
scrutiny
of
the
aforesaid Resolution including
the Notice
of
Resolution and
the Temporary Restraining
Order show that it was directed to the Honorable
Presiding Judge (Honorable Antonio J. Fineza) of
the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch
131 and to the assigned (deputy) sheriff
thereon and NOT to this Honorable Court and its
deputy sheriff.
3. The only conclusion therefrom is that
the Honorable Metropolitan Trial Court is not
restrained nor prohibited from enforcing and/or
implementing its judicial process such as the
subject writ of demolition.

Page 47

XXX
On 9 January 1997, Judge Amatong granted the motion of
respondent and issued an order[8] for the implementation of the
writ of demolition. The demolition order was actually carried
out the next day, or on 10 January 1997, by the deputy sheriff of
the lower court.[9]
In response to the situation, complainant filed before the
Court of Appeals an action for Indirect Contempt against
respondent, Biyaya Corporation, Judge Amatong, And the
Register of Deeds of Kalookan City.
The Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated 20 February
1997, found respondent and his co-defendants, Judge Amatong
and Biyaya Corporation, guilty of indirect contempt. The
dispositive portion of the resolution states:
WHEREFORE,
in
the
light
of
the
foregoing
disquisitions, defendants-appellees Biyaya Corporation and MTC
Judge Ramonito Amatong, and their counsel, Atty. Alvin
Sarita are hereby adjudged GUILTY OF CONTEMPT OF COURT as
they are hereby fined to pay the amount of P30,000.00 each, as
per SC Administrative Circular No. 22-95, amending Section 6,
Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, with a warning that repetition of
the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
Atty. Alvin Sarita is likewise REPRIMANDED for his contemptuous
or improvident act despite receipt of Our Restraining Order,
without prejudice to any further administrative sanction the
injured party may seek in the proper forum.
Describing the unfortunate behavior of respondent, the
Court of Appeals said:
Specifically, the Court is convinced that Atty. Alvin Sarita should
answer for contempt of court for misleading if not deceiving the
defendant-appellee MTC Judge into doing a precipitate act of
implementing the writ of demolition of appellants family house
which is restrained by this Court, or for making false allegations
that led his clients to commit a contemptuous act. (Cu Unjieng
vs. Mitchell, 58 Phil. 476.) His misinterpretation of the resolution
is no defense otherwise, all lawyers can effectively avoid
restraining orders of the higher court by arguing around the
bush.[10]
The Court of Appeals also granted the prayer for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction and
ordered Biyaya Corporation and Judge Amatong to immediately
restore the demolished family house of complainant or, return to
him the estimated value of the same.
Thereafter, complainant filed a case for disbarment against
respondent before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline. The
commissioner[11] assigned to investigate the case issued an
order[12] dated 3 September 1997, directing respondent to file his
answer or comment to the complaint. The period of time

LEGAL PROFESSION

allotted to answer the complaint lapsed without respondent


submitting his comment. On 8 December 1997, an order[13] was
issued by the investigating commissioner requiring the parties to
attend the hearing of the case on 10 February 1998. Respondent
failed to appear therein. The hearing was postponed and reset
to 6 March 1998. A notice of hearing[14] was sent to respondent
but again he failed to attend the proceeding. After giving
respondent enough opportunity to face the charges against him,
which the latter did not avail, the case was submitted for
resolution on 6 March 1998.[15]
The commissioners report dated 10 September 1998,
recommending the disbarment of Atty. Alvin T. Sarita stated in
part:
As clearly established in the resolution of the Honorable
Thirteenth Division of the Court of Appeals in its disquisition on
his culpability, Atty, Sarita is liable not only for deliberately
misleading if not deceiving the defendant-appellee MTC Judge
into violating the appellate courts restraining order, but also for
making false allegations that led his clients to commit a
contemptuous act;
As a member of the Bar, Atty. Sarita is mandated by his oath to
obey the laws as well as the duly constituted authorities therein
and not to do any falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in
court;
In filing his urgent ex-parte motion to implement the writ of
demolition issued against the residence of the complainant, Atty.
Sarita was well-aware that what he was seeking to do was
specifically restrained by the court of Appeals in no uncertain
terms. Even if we were inclined, in a gesture of utmost liberality,
to hold for Atty. Saritas (sic) and resolve any doubts in his favor,
we are simply overwhelmed by the thought that as a lawyer,
Atty. Sarita knew quite well or must have known quite well that
what he was asking for in his motion was violative not only of an
order from the second highest court but more personally was
violative of his own oath as a lawyer;
The findings of the Court of Appeals says it all. What all the
more moves the undersigned to recommend the ultimate
penalty of disbarment against Atty. Alvin T. Sarita is the evident,
even palpable disdain, in which he clearly holds this Office in
particular, and the Integrated Bar in general. Nowhere is this
disdain more felt than in Atty. Saritas deliberate and pointed
refusal, not only to file an Answer to the complaint against him
but also his unjustified refusal to appear before this Office
despite repeated notices. It appears that Atty. Sarita is beyond
caring for whatever sanctions this Office may recommend
against him. Surely, he cannot turn his back on the possibility
that the complainants prayer may be granted given the
seriousness of his (Saritas) misdeeds. But then, considering that
Atty. Sarita has no compunctions about misleading a judge of the
Metropolitan Trial Court into disregarding and violating an order

Page 48

from the Court of Appeals, it is no surprise that he would ignore


the Commission on Bar Discipline;
We recommend for the disbarment of Atty. Alvin T. Sarita.
In its 4 December 1998 Resolution, the IBP Board of
Governors resolved to adopt the findings of the investigating
commissioner, to wit:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein
made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex A; and finding
the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record
and the applicable laws and rules, Respondent Atty. Alvin T.
Sarita is DISBARRED from the practice of law.
The facts and evidence obtaining in this case clearly reveal
respondents failure to live up to his duties as a member of the
Bar in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility,
the Lawyers Oath and Section 20 (b), Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court, thus warranting disciplinary sanction.
As an officer of the court, it is the duty of a lawyer to
uphold the dignity and authority of the court, to which he owes
fidelity, according to the oath he has taken. It is his foremost
responsibility to observe and maintain the respect due to the
courts of justice and judicial officers.[16] The highest form of
respect to the judicial authority is shown by a lawyers obedience
to court orders and processes.
Atty. Alvin T. Sarita committed an immeasurable disservice
to the judicial system when he openly defied the TRO issued by
the Court of Appeals. By such act, he deliberately disregarded or
ignored his solemn oath to conduct himself as a lawyer according
to the best of his knowledge and discretion, with all good fidelity
to the courts. He neglected his duties to observe and maintain
the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial
officers,[17] and to act with candor, fairness and good faith to the
courts.[18]
Moreover, even assuming ex gratia argumenti that the TRO
issued by the Court of Appeals was ambiguous in its phraseology,
respondent should have carried out the intent and the spirit of
the said TRO rather than choose to be narrowly technical in
interpreting and implementing the same. In De Leon vs.
Torres,[19] this Court said:
We desire to call attention to the fact that courts orders,
however erroneous they may be, must be respected, especially
by the bar or the lawyers who are themselves officers of the
courts. Court orders are to be respected not because the judges
who issue them should be respected, but because of the respect
and consideration that should be extended to the judicial branch
of the Government. This is absolutely essential if our
Government is to be a government of laws and not of
men. Respect must be had not because of the incumbents to the

LEGAL PROFESSION

positions, but because of the authority that vests in


them. Disrespect to judicial incumbents is disrespect to that
branch of the Government to which they belong, as well as to
the State which has instituted the judicial system.
Not only did respondent disobey the order of the Court of
Appeals, he also misled the trial court judge into issuing the
order to implement the writ of demolition which led to the
destruction of the family home of complainant. In doing so,
respondent violated his oath of office and Canon 10, Rule 10.01
of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a
lawyer shall not do any falsehood nor consent to the doing of
any in court. Surely, such conduct of respondent is starkly
unbecoming of an officer of the court.
Respondents behavior also exhibited his reckless and
unfeeling attitude towards the complainant. By disobeying the
TRO issued by the Court of Appeals, he inflicted deep physical
and moral injury upon complainant and his family by making
them homeless. Obviously, it did not matter to him whether
complainant and his family would still have a place to stay as
long as he won the case for his client. We would like to
emphasize that a lawyers responsibility to protect and advance
the interests of his client does not warrant a course of action
propelled by ill motives and malicious intentions against the
other party.[20] Respondent failed to live up to this expectation.
We find the complaint against respondent fully
substantiated by the evidence. However, we believe that the
penalty of disbarment imposed by the Board of Governors of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines is too severe and, hereby
reduce it to suspension for two (2) years from the practice of
law.[21]
ACCORDINGLY, respondent Atty. Alvin T. Sarita is hereby
SUSPENDED for two (2) years from the practice of law and from
the enjoyment of all rights and privileges appurtenant to
membership in the Philippine Bar, effective immediately.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Bar
Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts
throughout the country.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug,
Mendoza, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, GonzagaReyes, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
Panganiban, J., on leave.

LAWYER AND THE CLIENT


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

Page 49

FIRST DIVISION
A.C. No. 4103 September 7, 1995
VERONICA S. SANTIAGO, BENJAMIN Q. HONTIVEROS, MR.
SOCORRO F. MANAS, and TRINIDAD NORDISTA, complainants,
vs.
ATTY. AMADO R. FOJAS, respondent.
DAVIDE JR., J.:
In their letter of 8 September 1993, the complainants, former
clients of the respondent, pray that the latter be disbarred for
"malpractice, neglect and other offenses which may be
discovered during the actual investigation of this complaint."
They attached thereto an Affidavit of Merit wherein they
specifically allege:
1. That we are Defendants-Appellates [sic] in the Court
of Appeals Case No. CA-G.N. CV No. 38153 of which to
our surprise lost unnecessarily the aforesaid Petition
[sic]. A close perusal of the case reveals the serious
misconduct of our attorney on record, Atty. Amado
Fojas tantamount to malpractice and negligence in the
performance of his duty obligation to us, to defend us
in the aforesaid case. That the said attorney without
informing us the reason why and riding high on the
trust and confidence we repose on him either
abandoned, failed to act accordingly, or seriously
neglected to answer the civil complaint against us in
the sala of Judge Teresita Capulong Case No. 3526-V-91
Val. Metro Manila so that we were deduced [sic] in
default.
2. That under false pretenses Atty. Fojas assured us
that everything was in order. That he had already
answered the complaint so that in spite of the
incessant demand for him to give us a copy he
continued to deny same to us. Only to disclose later
that he never answered it after all because according to
him he was a very busy man. Please refer to Court of
Appeals decision dated August 17, 1993.
3. That because of Atty. Amado Foja's neglect and
malpractice of law we lost the Judge Capulong case and
our appeal to the Court of Appeals. So that it is only
proper that Atty. Fojas be disciplined and disbarred in
the practice of his profession.
In his Comment, the respondent admits his "mistake" in
failing to file the complainants' answer in Civil Case No.
3526-V-91, but he alleges that it was cured by his filing
of a motion for reconsideration, which was
unfortunately denied by the court. He asserts that Civil
Case No. 3526-V-91 was a "losing cause" for the

LEGAL PROFESSION

complainants because it was based on the expulsion of


the plaintiff therein from the Far Eastern University
Faculty Association (FEUFA) which was declared
unlawful in the final decision in NCR-OD-M-90-10-050.
Thus, "[t]he unfavorable judgment in the Regional Trial
Court is not imputable to [his] mistake but rather
imputable to the merits of the case, i.e., the decision in
the Expulsion case wherein defendants (complainants
herein) illegally removed from the union (FEUFA)
membership Mr. Paulino Salvador. . . ." He further
claims that the complainants filed this case to harass
him because he refused to share his attorney's fees in
the main labor case he had handled for them. The
respondent then prays for the dismissal of this
complaint for utter lack of merit, since his failure to file
the answer was cured and, even granting for the sake
of argument that such failure amounted to negligence,
it cannot warrant his disbarment or suspension from
the practice of the law profession.
The complainants filed a Reply to the respondent's Comment.
Issues having been joined, we required the parties to inform us
whether they were willing to submit this case for decision on the
basis of the pleadings they have filed. In their separate
compliance, both manifested in the affirmative.
The facts in this case are not disputed.
Complainants Veronica Santiago, Benjamin Hontiveros, Ma.
Socorro Manas, and Trinidad Nordista were the President, VicePresident, Treasurer, and Auditor, respectively, of the FEUFA.
They allegedly expelled from the union Paulino Salvador. The
latter then commenced with the Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE) a complaint (NCR-OD-M-90-10-050) to
declare illegal his expulsion from the union.
In his resolution of 22 November 1990, Med-Arbiter Tomas
Falconitin declared illegal Salvador's expulsion and directed the
union and all its officers to reinstate Salvador's name in the roll
of union members with all the rights and privileges appurtenant
thereto. This resolution was affirmed in toto by the Secretary of
Labor and Employment.
Subsequently, Paulino Salvador filed with the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Branch 172, a
complaint against the complainants herein for actual, moral, and
exemplary damages and attorney's fees, under Articles 19, 20,
and 21 of the Civil Code. The case was docketed as Civil Case No.
3526-V-91.
As the complainants' counsel, the respondent filed a motion to
dismiss the said case on grounds of (1) res judicataby virtue of
the final decision of the Med-Arbiter in NCR-OD-M-90-10-050
and (2) lack of jurisdiction, since what was involved was an intra-

Page 50

union issue cognizable by the DOLE. Later, he filed a


supplemental motion to dismiss.
The trial court, per Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong, granted the
motion and ordered the dismissal of the case. Upon Salvador's
motion for reconsideration, however, it reconsidered the order
of dismissal, reinstated the case, and required the complainants
herein to file their answer within a nonextendible period of
fifteen days from notice.
Instead of filing an answer, the respondent filed a motion for
reconsideration and dismissal of the case. This motion having
been denied, the respondent filed with this Court a petition
for certiorari, which was later referred to the Court of Appeals
and docketed therein as CA-G.R. SP No. 25834.
Although that petition and his subsequent motion for
reconsideration were both denied, the respondent still did not
file the complainants' answer in Civil Case No. 3526-V-91. Hence,
upon plaintiff Salvador's motion, the complainants were
declared in default, and Salvador was authorized to present his
evidence ex-parte.
The respondent then filed a motion to set aside the order of
default and to stop the ex-parte reception of evidence before
the Clerk of Court, but to no avail.
Thereafter, the trial court rendered a decision ordering the
complainants herein to pay, jointly and severally, plaintiff
Salvador the amounts of P200,000.00 as moral damages;
P50,000.00 as exemplary damages or corrective damages; and
P65,000.00 as attorney's fees; plus cost of suit.
The complainants, still assisted by the respondent, elevated the
case to the Court of Appeals, which, however, affirmed in
toto the decision of the trial court.
The respondent asserts that he was about to appeal the said
decision to this Court, but his services as counsel for the
complainants and for the union were illegally and unilaterally
terminated by complainant Veronica Santiago.
The core issue that presents itself is whether the respondent
committed culpable negligence, as would warrant disciplinary
action, in failing to file for the complainants an answer in Civil
Case No. 3526-V-91 for which reason the latter were declared in
default and judgment was rendered against them on the basis of
the plaintiff's evidence, which was received ex-parte.
It is axiomatic that no lawyer is obliged to act either as adviser or
advocate for every person who may wish to become his client.
He has the right to decline employment, 1 subject, however, to
Canon 14 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Once he
agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity
to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and

LEGAL PROFESSION

confidence reposed in him. 2 He must serve the client with


competence and diligence, 3 and champion the latter's cause
with wholehearted fidelity, care, and devotion. 4Elsewise stated,
he owes entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal
in the maintenance and defense of his client's rights, and the
exertion of his utmost learning and ability to the end that
nothing be taken or withheld from his client, save by the rules of
law, legally applied. 5 This simply means that his client is entitled
to the benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is
authorized by the law of the land and he may expect his lawyer
to assert every such remedy or defense. 6 If much is demanded
from an attorney, it is because the entrusted privilege to practice
law carries with it the correlative duties not only to the client but
also to the court, to the bar, and to the public. 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. 7
The respondent admits that it was his duty to file an answer in
Civil Case No. 3526-V-91. He justifies his failure to do so in this
wise:
[I]n his overzealousness to question the Denial
Order of the trial court, 8 [he] instead, thru
honest mistake and excusable neglect, filed a
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI with the Honorable
Court, docketed as G.R. No. 100983. . . .
And, when the Court of Appeals, to which G.R. No.
100983 was referred, dismissed the petition, he again
"inadvertently" failed to file an answer "[d]ue to honest
mistake and because of his overzealousness as stated
earlier. . . . "
In their Reply, the complainants allege that his failure to file an
answer was not an honest mistake but was "deliberate,
malicious and calculated to place them on the legal
disadvantage, to their damage and prejudice" for, as admitted by
him in his motion to set aside the order of default, his failure to
do so was "due to volume and pressure of legal work." 9 In short,
the complainants want to impress upon this Court that the
respondent has given inconsistent reasons to justify his failure to
file an answer.
We agree with the complainants. In his motion for
reconsideration of the default order, the respondent explained
his non-filing of the required answer by impliedly invoking
forgetfulness occasioned by a large volume and pressure of legal
work, while in his Comment in this case he attributes it to honest
mistake and excusable neglect due to his overzealousness to
question the denial order of the trial court.
Certainly, "overzealousness" on the one hand and "volume and
pressure of legal work" on the other are two distinct and
separate causes or grounds. The first presupposes the

Page 51

respondent's full and continuing awareness of his duty to file an


answer which, nevertheless, he subordinated to his conviction
that the trial court had committed a reversible error or grave
abuse of discretion in issuing an order reconsidering its previous
order of dismissal of Salvador's complaint and in denying the
motion to reconsider the said order. The second ground is purely
based on forgetfulness because of his other commitments.
Whether it be the first or the second ground, the fact remains
that the respondent did not comply with his duty to file an
answer in Civil Case No. 3526-V-91. His lack of diligence was
compounded by his erroneous belief that the trial court
committed such error or grave abuse of discretion and by his
continued refusal to file an answer even after he received the
Court of Appeals' decision in the certiorari case. There is no
showing whatsoever that he further assailed the said decision
before this Court in a petition for review under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court to prove his claim of overzealousness to challenge
the trial court's order. Neither was it shown that he alleged in his
motion to lift the order of default that the complainants had a
meritorious defense. 10 And, in his appeal from the judgment by
default, he did not even raise as one of the errors of the trial
court either the impropriety of the order of default or the court's
grave abuse of discretion in denying his motion to lift that order.
Pressure and large volume of legal work provide no excuse for
the respondent's inability to exercise due diligence in the
performance of his duty to file an answer. Every case a lawyer
accepts deserves his full attention, diligence, skill, and
competence, regardless of its importance and whether he
accepts it for a fee or for free.
All told, the respondent committed a breach of Canon 18 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility which requires him to serve
his clients, the complainants herein, with diligence and, more
specifically, Rule 18.03 thereof which provides: "A lawyer shall
not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
connection therewith shall render him liable."

Then too, if he were unconvinced of any defense, we


are unable to understand why he took all the trouble of
filing a motion to dismiss on the grounds of res
judicata and lack of jurisdiction and of questioning the
adverse ruling thereon initially with this Court and then
with the Court of Appeals, unless, of course, he meant
all of these to simply delay the disposition of the civil
case. Finally, the complainants were not entirely
without any valid or justifiable defense. They could
prove that the plaintiff was not entitled to all the
damages sought by him or that if he were so, they
could ask for a reduction of the amounts thereof.
We do not therefore hesitate to rule that the respondent is not
free from any blame for the sad fate of the complainants. He is
liable for inexcusable negligence.
WHEREFORE, ATTY. AMADO R. FOJAS is hereby REPRIMANDED
and ADMONISHED to be, henceforth, more careful in the
performance of his duty to his clients.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla, Bellosillo, Kapunan and Hermosisima Jr., JJ., concur.
SPECIAL THIRD DIVISION

VALERIANA U. DALISAY,

A.C. No. 5655

Complainant,
Present:
-versus-

PANGANIBAN, J., Chairman,


SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,

The respondent's negligence is not excused by his claim that Civil


Case No. 3526-V-91 was in fact a "losing cause" for the
complainants since the claims therein for damages were based
on the final decision of the Med-Arbiter declaring the
complainants' act of expelling Salvador from the union to be
illegal. This claim is a mere afterthought which hardly persuades
us. If indeed the respondent was so convinced of the futility of
any defense therein, he should have seasonably informed the
complainants thereof. Rule 15.05, Canon 15 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility expressly provides:
A lawyer, when advising his client, shall give a
candid and honest opinion on the merits and
probable results of the client's case, neither
overstating nor understanding the prospects
of the case.

LEGAL PROFESSION

ATTY. MELANIO MAURICIO, JR.,


Respondent.

CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES, and
GARCIA, JJ.
Promulgated:
January 23, 2006

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

RESOLUTION

Page 52

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

At bar is a motion for reconsideration of our


Decision dated April 22, 2005 finding Atty. Melanio Batas
Mauricio, Jr., respondent, guilty of malpractice and gross
misconduct and imposing upon him the penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for a period of six (6)
months.
A brief revisit of facts is imperative, thus:
On October 13, 2001, Valeriana U. Dalisay,
complainant, engaged respondents services as counsel in
Civil Case No. 00-044, entitled Lucio De Guzman, etc.,
complainants, v. Dalisay U. Valeriana, respondent, pending
before the Municipal Trial Court, Branch 1, Binangonan,
Rizal. Notwithstanding his receipt of documents and
attorneys fees in the total amount of P56,000.00 from
complainant, respondent never rendered legal services for
her. As a result, she terminated the attorney-client
relationship and demanded the return of her money and
documents, but respondent refused.
On January 13, 2004, Investigating Commissioner
Lydia A. Navarro of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline, found that for the
amount of P56,000.00 paid by the complainant x x x,
no action had been taken nor any pleadings prepared by
the respondent except his alleged conferences and
opinions rendered when complainant frequented his law
office. She recommended that respondent be required to
refund the amount of P56,000.00 to the complainant, and
surprisingly, that the complaint be dismissed.
On February 27, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors
passed Resolution No. XVI-2004-121, adopting and
approving in toto Commissioner Navarros Report and
Recommendation.
On April 22, 2005, we rendered the assailed
Decision.
Incidentally, upon learning of our Decision,
respondent went to the MTC, Branch I, Binangonan, Rizal to
verify the status of Civil Case No. 00-044. There, he learned
of the trial courts Decision dated December 6, 2001 holding
that the tax declarations and title submitted by
complainant are not official records of the Municipal
Assessor and the Registry of Deed. Thereupon, respondent
filed a Sworn Affidavit Complaint[1] against complainant
charging her with violations of Article 171[2] and

LEGAL PROFESSION

172,[3] and/or Article 182[4]of the Revised Penal Code. He


alleged that complainant offered tampered evidence.
In this motion for reconsideration, respondent
raises the following arguments:
First, complainant did not engage his
services as counsel in Civil Case No. 00-044.
She hired him for the purpose of filing two
new petitions, a petition for declaration of
nullity of title and a petition for review of a
decree.
Second, Civil Case No. 00-044 was
considered submitted for decision as early
as August 6, 2001, or more than two months
prior to October 13, 2001, the date he was
engaged as counsel, hence, he could not
have done anything anymore about it.
Third, complainant
refused
to
provide him with documents related to the
case, preventing him from doing his job.
And fourth, complainant
offered
tampered evidence in Civil Case No. 00-004,
prompting him to file falsification cases
against her.
In her opposition to the motion, complainant
contends that:
(1) respondent violated the
principle of confidentiality between a lawyer and his client
when
he
filed
falsification
charges
against
her; (2) respondent
should
have
returned
her
money; (3) respondent should have verified the authenticity
of her documents earlier if he really believed that they are
falsified; and (4) his refusal to return her money despite this
Courts directive constitutes contempt.
We deny respondents motion for reconsideration.
It is axiomatic that no lawyer is obliged to act
either as adviser or advocate for every person who may
wish to become his client. He has the right to decline
employment. But once he accepts money from a client, an
attorney-client relationship is established, giving rise to the
duty of fidelity to the clients cause.[5] From then on, he is
expected to be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed
in him. He must serve the client with competence and
diligence, and champion the latters cause with
wholehearted devotion.[6]

Page 53

Respondent assumed such obligations when he


received the amount of P56,000.00 from complainant and
agreed to handle Civil Case No. 00-044. Unfortunately, he
had been remiss in the performance of his duties. As we
have ruled earlier, there is nothing in the records to
show that the (respondent) entered his appearance as
counsel of record for complainant in Civil Case No. 00044. Neither is there any evidence nor pleading
submitted to show that he initiated new petitions.
With ingenuity, respondent now claims that
complainant did not engage his services for Civil Case No.
00-044 but, instead, she engaged him for the filing of
two new petitions. This is obviously a last-ditch attempt to
evade culpability. Respondent knows very well that if he
can successfully disassociate himself as complainants
counsel in Civil Case No.00-044, he cannot be held guilty of
any dereliction of duties.
But respondents current assertion came too late
in the day. He is already bound by his previous statements.
In his Verified Comment on the Affidavit-Complaint,[7] he
categorically stated that complainant engaged his services in
Civil Case No. 00-044, originally handled by Atty. Oliver
Lozano, thus:
4.a. Complainant was referred to
the Respondent by Atty. Oliver Lozano.
4.b.
The
referral
intrigued
Respondent no end, simply because Atty.
Oliver Lozano is a bright lawyer and is very
much capable of handling Civil Case No. 00044.
4.c. Respondent-out of respect
from Atty. Oliver Lozano did not inquire the
reason for the referral. But he was made to
understand that he was being referred
because Atty. Oliver Lozano believed that
Respondent would be in a better position to
prosecute and/or defend the Complainant in
Civil Case No. 00-044.
x x x

x x x

5.c. Complainant went to the law


office of Respondent on October 13, 2001 and
demanded that he provides her with free legal
service.
x x x

x x x

5.e. Respondent, however, told


Complainant that the case (Civil Case No. 00-

LEGAL PROFESSION

044) would not entitle her to a free legal


service and advised her to just re-engage the
services of Atty. Oliver Lozano.
5.f. Undaunted, Complainant asked
Respondent to assess her case and how she
and her lawyer should go prosecuting and/or
defending her position therein.
5.g.
Honestly believing that
Complainant was no longer represented by
counsel in Civil Case No. 00-044 at that time,
Respondent gave his professional opinion on
the factual and legal matters surrounding the
said case.
5.h. Apparently impressed with the
opinion of the Respondent, Complainant
became even more adamant in asking the
former to represent her in Civil Case No. 00044.
5.i.
Respondent
then
told
Complainant that she would be charged as a
regular client is she insists in retaining his
services.
5.j. It was at this juncture that
Complainant asked Respondent about his
fees.
5.k. After re-assessing Civil Case No.
00-044, Respondent told Complainant that
he will have to charge her with an
acceptance fee of One Hundred Thousand
Pesos (P100,000.00), aside form being
charged for papers/pleadings that may have
to be prepared and filed in court in
connection with the aforesaid case.
x x x
x x x
5.n. A few days after, Respondent
got a call from Atty. Oliver Lozano. The said
Atty. Oliver Lozano interceded for and in
behalf of Complainant and asked that the
acceptance fee that Respondent was charging
the Complainant be reduced.
x x x

x x x

5.r. Complainant then returned to


the office of the Respondent on October 20,
2001. The latter then informed the former of
his conversation with Atty. Oliver Lozano and
his (respondents) decision to reduce the
acceptance fee.

Page 54

5.s. Complainant was very grateful


at the time, even shedding a tear or two
simply because Respondent had agreed to
handle her case at a greatly reduced
acceptance fee.

Statements of similar tenor can also be found in


respondents Memorandum[8] filed with the IBP.
Undoubtedly, respondents present version is a
flagrant departure from his previous pleadings. This cannot
be countenanced. A party should decide early what version
he is going to advance. A change of theory in the latter
stage of the proceedings is objectionable, not due to the
strict application of procedural rules, but because it is
contrary to the rules of fair play, justice and due process. [9]
The present administrative case was resolved by the IBP on
the basis of respondents previous admission that
complainant engaged his legal services in Civil Case No. 00044. He cannot now unbind himself from such admission
and its consequences. In fact, if anything at all has been
achieved by respondents inconsistent assertions, it is his
dishonesty to this Court.
At any rate, assuming arguendo that complainant
indeed engaged respondents services in filing the two (2)
new petitions, instead of Civil Case No. 00-044, still, his
liability is unmistakable. There is nothing in the records to
show that he filed any petition. The ethics of the
profession demands that, in such a case, he should
immediately return the filing fees to complainant.
In Parias v. Paguinto,[10] we held that a lawyer shall
account for all money or property collected from the
client. Money entrusted to a lawyer for a specific
purpose, such as for filing fee, but not used for failure to
file the case must immediately be returned to the client on
demand. Per records, complainant made repeated
demands, but respondent is yet to return the money.
Neither do we find merit in respondents second
argument. The fact that Civil Case No. 00-044 was already
submitted for decision does not justify his inaction. After
agreeing to handle Civil Case No. 00-044, his duty is, first
and foremost, to enter his appearance. Sadly, he failed to
do this simple task. He should have returned complainants
money. Surely, he cannot expect to be paid for doing
nothing.
In his third argument, respondent attempts to
evade responsibility by shifting the blame to complainant.
He claims that she refused to provide him with documents
vital to the case. He further claims that he would be
violating the Code of Professional Responsibility by handling
a case without adequate preparation.
This is
preposterous. When a lawyer accepts a case, his

LEGAL PROFESSION

acceptance is an implied representation that he possesses


the requisite academic learning, skill and ability to handle
the case.[11] As a lawyer, respondent knew where to obtain
copies of the certificates of title. As a matter of fact, he
admitted that his Law Office, on its own, managed to verify
the authenticity of complainants title. It bears reiterating
that respondent did not take any action on the case despite
having been paid for his services. This is tantamount to
abandonment of his duties as a lawyer and taking undue
advantage of his client.
Finally, in an ironic twist of fate, respondent
became the accuser of complainant. In his fourth
argument, respondent accuses her of offering falsified
documentary evidence in Civil Case No. 00-004, prompting
him to file falsification cases against her. He thus justifies
his inability to render legal services to complainant.
Assuming that complainant indeed offered falsified
documentary evidence in Civil Case No. 00-044, will it be
sufficient to exonerate respondent? We believe not. First,
Canon 19 outlines the procedure in dealing with clients who
perpetrated fraud in the course of a legal proceeding.
Consistent with its mandate that a lawyer shall represent his
client with zeal and only within the bounds of the law, Rule
19.02 of the same Canon specifically provides:
Rule 19.02 A lawyer who has
received information that his clients has, in
the course of the representation, perpetrated
a fraud upon a person or tribunal, shall
promptly call upon the client to rectify the
same, and failing which he shall terminate
the relationship with such client in
accordance with the Rules of Court.
As a lawyer, respondent is expected to know this
Rule. Instead of inaction, he should have confronted
complainant and ask her to rectify her fraudulent
representation. If complainant refuses, then he should
terminate his relationship with her.
Understandably, respondent failed to follow the
above-cited Rule. This is because there is no truth to his
claim that he did not render legal service to complainant
because she falsified the documentary evidence in Civil Case
No.00-044. This brings us to the second reason why we
cannot sustain his fourth argument. The pleadings show
that he learned of the alleged falsification long after
complainant had terminated their attorney-client
relationship. It was a result of his active search for a
justification of his negligence in Civil Case No. 00-044. As a
matter of fact, he admitted that he verified the authenticity
of complainants title only after the news of his suspension
spread in the legal community. To our mind, there is

Page 55

absurdity in invoking subsequent knowledge of a fact as


justification for an act or omission that is fait accompli.
Obviously, in filing falsification charges against
complainant, respondent was motivated by vindictiveness.
In fine, let it be stressed that the authority of an
attorney begins with his or her retainer.[12] It gives rise to a
relationship between an attorney and a client that is highly
fiduciary in nature and of a very delicate, exacting, and
confidential character, requiring a high degree of fidelity
and good faith.[13] If much is demanded from an attorney, it
is because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries
with it the correlative duties not only to the client but also
to the court, to the bar, and to the public. 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.[14] Indeed,
law is an exacting goddess demanding of her votaries not
only intellectual but also moral discipline.
WHEREFORE, we DENY respondents motion for
reconsideration. Our Decision dated April 22, 2005 is
immediately executory. Respondent is directed to report
immediately to the Office of the Bar Confidant his compliance
with our Decision.
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to his personal
record and copies furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all
courts.
SO ORDERED.
ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ
Associate Justice
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Before Us is a Complaint1 for Disbarment filed by complainant
Virginia Villaflores against respondent Atty. Sinamar Limos,
charging the latter with Gross Negligence and Dereliction of
Duty.
Complainant Virginia Villaflores is the defendant in Civil Case No.
1218-BG entitled, "Spouses Sanchez represented by Judith
Medina vs. Spouses Villaflores," filed before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Bauang, La Union, Branch 33.
Receiving an unfavorable judgment, complainant sought the help
of the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) to appeal her case to the
Court of Appeals. The PAO filed for her a Notice of Appeal with
the RTC.
On 1 September 2004, complainant received a copy of a
Notice2 from the Court of Appeals requiring her to file her
appellants brief within 45 days from receipt thereof.
Immediately thereafter, complainant approached respondent,
who had previously handled her sons case, to file on her behalf
the required appellants brief. Since respondent agreed to
handle the appeal, complainant handed to respondent on 8
September 2004 the amount of P10,000.00 as partial payment of
the latters acceptance fee ofP20,000.00, together with the
entire records of the case. The following day, on 9 September
2004, complainant paid the balance of respondents acceptance
fee in the amount of P10,000.00. These payments were duly
receipted and acknowledged3 by the respondent.
On 21 September 2004, an Employment Contract4 was executed
between complainant and respondent whereby the former
formally engaged the latters professional services. Upon the
execution of said contract, complainant again paid the
respondent the amount of P2,000.00 for miscellaneous
expenses.5
On 14 January 2005, complainant received a copy of a
Resolution6 dated 6 January 2005 issued by the Court of Appeals
dismissing her appeal for failure to file her appellants brief
within the reglementary period. Thus, on 17 January 2005,
complainant went to respondents office but failed to see
respondent.

THIRD DIVISION
A. C. No. 7504

November 23, 2007

VIRGINIA
VILLAFLORES, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. SINAMAR E. LIMOS, respondent.
RESOLUTION

LEGAL PROFESSION

After several unsuccessful attempts to talk to the respondent,


complainant went to Manila on 18 January 2005 to seek help
from another lawyer who agreed to handle the case for her. On
19 January 2005, complainant went back to the respondents
office to retrieve the records of her case. Respondent allegedly
refused to talk to her.
Aggrieved by respondents actuations, complainant filed the
instant administrative complaint against respondent.

Page 56

In her Answer,7 respondent admitted her issuance of the


acknowledgment receipts for the aggregate amount
ofP22,000.00, the execution of the Employment Contract
between her and complainant, and the issuance by the Court of
Appeals of the Notice to File Appellants Brief and Resolution
dated 6 January 2005. She, however, denied all other allegations
imputed against her. Respondent argued that the non-filing of
the appellants brief could be attributed to the fault of the
complainant who failed to inform her of the exact date of receipt
of the Notice to File Appellants Brief from which she could
reckon the 45-day period to file the same. Complainant allegedly
agreed to return to respondent once she had ascertained the
actual date of receipt of said Notice, but she never did.
Complainant supposedly also agreed that in the event she could
not give the exact date of receipt of the Notice, respondent
would just wait for a new Order or Resolution from the Court of
Appeals before she would file the appropriate pleading.
Respondent further contended that she had, in fact, already
made preliminary study and initial research of complainants
case.
Pursuant to the complaint, a hearing was conducted by the
Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) at the IBP Building, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, on
17 June 2005.
On 11 April 2006, Investigating Commissioner Acerey C. Pacheco
submitted his Report and Recommendation,8finding respondent
liable for gross negligence and recommending the imposition
upon her of the penalty of one year suspension, to wit:
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that
herein respondent be declared guilty of gross
negligence in failing to file the required appellants
brief for which act she should be suspended from the
practice of law for a period of one (1) year. Also, it is
recommended that the respondent be ordered to
return the amount ofP22,000.00 that she received from
the complainant.
Thereafter, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution 9 No.
XVII-2006-584 dated 15 December 2006, approving with
modification the recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner, thus:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made
part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
record and the applicable laws and rules, and
considering Respondents gross negligence in failing to
file the required appellants brief, Atty. Sinamar E.
Limos is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law
for three (3) months with Warning that a repetition of

LEGAL PROFESSION

similar conduct will be dealt with more severely and


ORDERED TO RETURN the amount of P22,000.00 she
received from complainant.
The core issue in this administrative case is whether the
respondent committed culpable negligence in handling
complainants case as would warrant disciplinary action.
After a careful review of the records and evidence, we find no
cogent reason to deviate from the findings and the
recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors and, thus,
sustain the same. Respondents conduct in failing to file the
appellants brief for complainant before the Court of Appeals
falls below the standards exacted upon lawyers on dedication
and commitment to their clients cause.
The relation of attorney and client begins from the time an
attorney is retained.10 To establish the professional relation, it is
sufficient that the advice and assistance of an attorney are
sought and received in any manner pertinent to his profession.11
It must be noted that as early as 8 September 2004, respondent
already agreed to take on complainants case, receiving from the
latter partial payment of her acceptance fee and the entire
records of complainants case. The very next day, 9 September
2004, complainant paid the balance of respondents acceptance
fee. Respondent admitted her receipt of P20,000.00 as
acceptance fee for the legal services she is to render to
complainant andP2,000.00 for the miscellaneous expenses she is
to incur in handling the case, and the subsequent execution of
the employment contract between her and complainant. Hence,
it can be said that as early as 8 September 2004, respondents
rendition of legal services to complainant had commenced, and
from then on, she should start protecting the complainants
interests. The employment contract between respondent and
complainant already existed as of 8 September 2004, although it
was only reduced into writing on 21 September 2004. In short,
respondents acceptance of the payment for her professional
fees and miscellaneous expenses, together with the records of
the case, effectively bars her from disclaiming the existence of
an attorney-client relationship between her and complainant.
No lawyer is obliged to advocate for every person who may wish
to become his client, but once he agrees to take up the cause of
a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must be
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.12 Among the
fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who
undertakes an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its
termination, that is, until the case becomes final and executory.
As ruled in Rabanal v. Tugade13:
Once he agrees to take up the cause of a client, the
lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. He

Page 57

must serve the client with competence and diligence,


and champion the latters cause with wholehearted
fidelity, care, and devotion. Elsewise stated, he owes
entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal
in the maintenance and defense of his clients rights,
and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability to
the end that nothing be taken or withheld from his
client, save by the rules of law, legally applied. This
simply means that his client is entitled to the benefit of
any and every remedy and defense that is authorized
by the law of the land and he may expect his lawyer to
assert every such remedy or defense. If much is
demanded from an attorney, it is because the
entrusted privilege to practice law carries with it the
correlative duties not only to the client but also to the
court, to the bar, and to the public. 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.
Respondents defense that complainant failed to inform her of
the exact date when to reckon the 45 days within which to file
the appellants brief does not inspire belief or, at the very least,
justify such failure. If anything, it only shows respondents
cavalier attitude towards her clients cause.
A case in point is Canoy v. Ortiz,14 where the Court ruled that the
lawyers failure to file the position paper was per se a violation of
Rule 18.03 of the Code. There, the Court ruled that the lawyer
could not shift the blame to his client for failing to follow up his
case because it was the lawyers duty to inform his client of the
status of cases.
Respondent cannot justify her failure to help complainant by
stating that "after receipt of part of the acceptance fee, she did
not hear anymore from complainant." The persistence displayed
by the complainant in prosecuting this complaint belies her lack
of enthusiasm in fighting for her rights, as alleged by respondent.
This Court has emphatically ruled that the trust and confidence
necessarily reposed by clients requires in the attorney a high
standard and appreciation of his duty to his clients, his
profession, the courts and the public. Every case a lawyer
accepts deserves his full attention, diligence, skill and
competence, regardless of its importance and whether he
accepts it for a fee or for free. Certainly, a member of the Bar
who is worth his title cannot afford to practice the profession in
a lackadaisical fashion. A lawyers lethargy from the perspective
of the Canons is both unprofessional and unethical.15
A lawyer should serve his client in a conscientious, diligent and
efficient manner; and he should provide a quality of service at
least equal to that which lawyers generally would expect of a
competent lawyer in a like situation. By agreeing to be his

LEGAL PROFESSION

clients counsel, he represents that he will exercise ordinary


diligence or that reasonable degree of care and skill having
reference to the character of the business he undertakes to do,
to protect the clients interests and take all steps or do all acts
necessary therefor, and his client may reasonably expect him to
discharge his obligations diligently.16
Respondent has obviously failed to measure up to the foregoing
standards.
It may be true that the complainant shares the responsibility for
the lack of communication between her and respondent, her
counsel. Respondent, however, should not have depended
entirely on the information her client gave or at the time the
latter wished to give it. Respondent, being the counsel, more
than her client, should appreciate the importance of complying
with the reglementary period for the filing of pleadings and
know the best means to acquire the information sought. Had she
made the necessary inquiries, respondent would have known the
reckoning date for the period to file appellants brief with the
Court of Appeals. As a lawyer representing the cause of her
client, she should have taken more control over her clients case.
Respondents dismal failure to comply with her undertaking is
likewise evident from the fact that up until 19 January 2005,
when complainant retrieved the entire records of her case, and
more than four months from the time her services were engaged
by complainant, respondent still had not prepared the
appellants brief.
Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Lawyers
states:
A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to
him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall
render him liable.
In this case, by reason of respondents negligence, the
complainant suffered actual loss. Complainant faced the risk of
losing entirely her right to appeal and had to engage the services
of another lawyer to protect such a right.
This Court will not countenance respondents failure to observe
the reglementary period to file the appellants brief. Counsels
are sworn to protect the interests of their clients and in the
process, should be knowlegeable about the rules of procedure to
avoid prejudicing the interests of their clients or worse,
compromising the integrity of the courts. Ignorance of the
procedural rules on their part is tantamount to inexcusable
negligence.17 However, the matter before us does not even call
for counsels knowledge of procedural rules, but merely her
managerial skills in keeping track of deadlines for filing necessary
pleadings, having difficulty with which, she could have always
opted to timely withdraw from the case in order not to prejudice
further her clients interest.

Page 58

The failure of respondent to file the appellants brief for


complainant within the reglementary period constitutes gross
negligence in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
In Perla Compania de Seguros, Inc. v. Saquilabon,18 this Court
held:

Let a copy of this decision be attached to respondents personal


record with the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be
furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and to all courts of the land.
SO ORDERED.

An attorney is bound to protect his clients interest to


the best of his ability and with utmost diligence. (Del
Rosario v. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 159) A failure to
file brief for his client certainly constitutes inexcusable
negligence on his part. (People v. Villar, 46 SCRA 107)
The respondent has indeed committed a serious lapse
in the duty owed by him to his client as well as to the
Court not to delay litigation and to aid in the speedy
administration of justice. (People v. Daban, 43 SCRA
185; People v. Estocada, 43 SCRA 515).
All told, we rule and so hold that on account of respondents
failure to protect the interest of complainant, respondent indeed
violated Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Respondent is reminded that the practice of law
is a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are
competent intellectually, academically and morally. This Court
has been exacting in its expectations for the members of the Bar
to always uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession
and refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust
and confidence of the public.
In People v. Cawili,19 we held that the failure of counsel to submit
the brief within the reglementary period is an offense that
entails disciplinary action. People v. Villar, Jr.20 characterized a
lawyers failure to file a brief for his client as inexcusable neglect.
In Blaza v. Court of Appeals,21 we held that the filing of a brief
within the period set by law is a duty not only to the client, but
also to the court. Perla Compania de Seguros, Inc. v.
Saquilabon22reiterated Ford v. Daitol23 and In re: Santiago F.
Marcos24 in holding that an attorneys failure to file a brief for his
client constitutes inexcusable negligence.
In cases involving a lawyers failure to file a brief or other
pleadings before an appellate court, we did not hesitate to
suspend the erring member of the Bar from the practice of law
for three months,25 six months,26 or even disbarment in severely
aggravated cases.27
WHEREFORE, the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors
approving and adopting the report and recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner is hereby AFFIRMED. Accordingly,
respondent
ATTY.
SINAMAR
E.
LIMOS
is
hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period
of THREE (3) MONTHS, with a stern warning that a repetition of
the same or similar wrongdoing will be dealt with more severely.
Furthermore, respondent is hereby ORDERED to return the
amount of Twenty-Two Thousand Pesos (P22,000.00), which she
received from complainant Virginia Villaflores.

LEGAL PROFESSION

Ynares-Santiago, Chairperson, Austria-Martinez, Nachura, Reyes,


JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
March 3, 1923
In re suspension of VICENTE PELAEZ, attorney,
Juan
Sumulong
for
Attorney-General Villa-Real for the Government.

respondent.

MALCOLM, J.:
Following the suspension of Attorney Vicente Pelaez by Judge of
First Instance Wislizenus for a period of one year, the case has
been elevated to this court as provided by law, for full
investigation of the facts involved, and for the rendition of the
appropriate order.
The respondent Vicente Pelaez is a member of the Philippine
Bar, residing at Cebu, Cebu. On March 20, 1918, he was
appointed guardian of the minor Gracia Cabrera. As such
guardian, he came into possession of certain property, including
twenty shares of the E. Michael & Co., Inc., and ten shares of the
Philippine Engineering Co. While Pelaez was still the guardian of
the minor, he borrowed P2,800 from the Cebu branch of the
Philippine National bank. Shortly thereafter, to guarantee the
loan, Pelaez, without the knowledge or consent of the Court of
First Instance of Cebu, deposited with the Cebu branch of the
Philippine National Bank the shares of stock corresponding to
the guardianship. On April 13, 1921, Pelaez executed a written
agreement in favor of the Cebu branch of the Philippine National
Bank, pledging, without the authority of the Court of First
Instance of Cebu, the shares of stock in question, to guarantee
the payment of the loan above referred to.
These are the facts, taken principally from the memorandum
filed in this court on behalf of the respondent, which caused the
judge of First Instance to suspend him from the legal profession.
To quote counsel for the respondent, "the misconduct of which
the respondent in this case is guilty consist of having pledged the

Page 59

shares belonging to his ward, to guarantee the payment of his


personal debt."
Two questions present themselves for the resolution. The first
question is this: Are the courts in the Philippines authorized to
suspend or disbar a lawyer for causes other than those
enumerated in the statute? The second questions is this: May a
lawyer be suspended or disbarred for non-professional
misconduct?
Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that a
member of the bar may be removed or suspended from this
office as lawyer by the Supreme Court for any of the causes
therein enumerated. It will be noticed that our statute merely
provides that certain cause shall be deemed sufficient for the
revocation or suspension of an attorney's license. It does not
provide that these shall constitute the only causes for
disbarment, or that an attorney may not be disbarred or
suspended for other reasons.
It is a well-settled rule that a statutory enumeration of
grounds of disbarment is not to be taken as a limitation of
general power of the court in this respect. Even where
Legislature has specified the grounds for disbarment,
inherent power of the court over its officer is not restricted.

the
the
the
the

The prior tendency of the decisions of this court has been


toward the conclusion that a member of the bar may be
removed or suspended from his office as lawyer for other than
statutory grounds. Indeed, the statute is so phrased as to be
broad enough to cover practically any misconduct of a lawyer.
Passing now to the second point as a general rule, a court will
not assume jurisdiction to discipline one of its officers for
misconduct alleged to have been committed in his private
capacity. But this is a general rule with many exceptions. The
courts sometimes stress the point that the attorney has shown,
through misconduct outside of his professional dealings, a want
of such professional honesty as render him unworthy of public
confidence, and an unfit and unsafe person to manage the legal
business of others. The reason why such a distinction can be
drawn is because it is the court which admits an attorney to the
bar, and the court requires for such admission the possession of
good moral character.
The principal authority for the respondent is the case of
People ex rel. vs. Appleton ([1883], 105 Ill., 474). Here it was
held, by a divided court, that where property is conveyed to an
attorney in trust, without his professional advice, and he
mortgages the same, for the purpose of raising a sum of money
which he claims is due him from the cestui que trust, and the
trustee afterwards sells the property and appropriates the
proceeds of the sale to his own use, the relation of client and
attorney not being created by such trust, his conduct, however
censurable as an individual occupying the position of a trustee, is
not such as to warrant the summary disbarring of him on motion

LEGAL PROFESSION

to the court to strike his name from the roll of attorneys, but the
injured party must be left to his proper remedy by suit. The
Illinois court, however, admits that although the general rule is,
that an attorney-at-law will not be disbarred for misconduct not
in his professional capacity, but as an individual, there are cases
forming an exception where his misconduct in his private
capacity may be of so gross a character as to require his
disbarment.
The Attorney-General relies principally on the case of In re Smith
([1906], 73 Kan., 743). In the opinion written by Mr. Chief Justice
Johnston, it was said:
It is next contended that some of the charges against
Smith do not fall within the cause for disbarment
named in the statute. As will be observed, the statute
does not provide that the only cause for which the
license of an attorney may be revoked or suspended
are those specified in it, nor does it undertake to limit
the common-law power of the courts to protect
themselves and the public by excluding those who are
unfit to assist in the administration of the law. It merely
provides that certain causes shall be deemed sufficient
for the revocation or suspension of an attorney's
license. (Gen. Stat., 1901, sec. 398.) In the early case
ofPeyton's Appeal (12 Kan., 398, 404), it was held that
this statute is not an enabling act, but that the power of
the court to exclude unfit and unworthy members of
the profession is inherent; that "it is a necessary
incident to the proper administration of justice; that it
may be exercised without any special statutory
authority, and in all proper cases, unless positively
prohibited by statute; and that it may be exercised in
any manner that will give the party to be disbarred a
fair trial and a full opportunity to be heard.' If there is
authority in the Legislature to restrict the discretion of
the courts as to what shall constitute causes for
disbarment, or to limit the inherent power which they
have exercised from time immemorial, it should not be
deemed to have done so unless its purpose is clearly
expressed. It is generally held that the enumeration of
the grounds for disbarment in the statute is not to be
taken as a limitation on the general power of the court,
but that attorneys may be removed for common-law
causes when the exercise of the privileges and
functions of their high office is inimical to the due
administration of justice . . . .
The nature of the office, the trust relation which exists
between attorney and client, as well as between court
and attorney, and the statutory rule prescribing the
qualifications of attorney, uniformly require that an
attorney shall be a person of good moral character. If
that qualification is a condition precedent to a license
or privilege to enter upon the practice of the law, it
would seem to be equally essential during the

Page 60

continuance of the practice and the exercise of the


privilege. So it is held that an attorney will be removed
not only for malpractice and dishonesty in his
profession, but also for gross misconduct not
connected with his professional duties, which shows
him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the
privileges which his license and the law confer upon
him.
We are of the opinion that the doctrines announced by the
Supreme Court of Kansas are sound.
The relation of guardian and ward requires of the guardian the
continual maintenance of the utmost good faith in his dealings
with the estate of the ward. The bond and the oath of the
guardian require him to manage the estate of the ward
according to law for the best interests of the ward, and faithfully
to discharge his trust in relation thereto. Moreover, it has not
escaped our attention that in the petition by Vicente Pelaez,
asking the court to appoint him the guardian of Gracia Cabrera,
he begins his petition in this manner: "El abogado que subscribe,
nombrado tutor testamentario, etc." (The undersigned attorney,
appointed testamentary guardian, etc.) which indicates that
petitioner might not have been named the guardian in this
particular case had he not at the same time been a lawyer.
Counsel argues that the misconduct for which the respondent
has been suspended by the lower court is single and isolated. "It
forms," he says, "the only blot upon the escutcheon." We feel,
however, that the trial court has been extremely considerate of
the respondent, and that were we sitting in first instance, we
would probably incline to a more severe sentence.
Judgment affirmed. So ordered.
Araullo, C. J., Street, Avancea, Ostrand, and Romualdez, JJ.,
concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
ADM. CASE No. 5252

May 20, 2004

PRISCILLA
Z.
vs.
ATTY. HENRY ADAZA, respondent.
DECISION
VITUG, J.:

LEGAL PROFESSION

ORBE, complainant,

On 27 March 2000, Mrs. Priscilla Z. Orbe charged respondent


Atty. Henry Adaza with gross misconduct and as being unfit to
continue his membership in the Bar. In a three-page complaintaffidavit complainant averred that respondent obtained a loan
from the former and, to secure the repayment thereof, drew and
issued two BPI Family Bank checks. When the first check (No.
0350973) was presented for payment upon maturity, the same
was dishonored for insufficient funds. According to complainant,
respondent, acting with malice and deceit, dated the second
check "January 24, 1996," so that, once presented for payment,
it would be, considering, in passing, that the loan was incurred
on 23 November 1996, a stale check. She alleged that, despite
repeated verbal and written demands, respondent had failed to
make good his obligation.
Acting on the complaint, the Court required respondent to
comment thereon within ten (10) days from notice. In a letter,
dated 26 September 2000, complainant asked that the complaint
be now considered submitted for resolution in view of the failure
of Atty. Adaza to comply with the order of the Court requiring
him to file his comment. In a resolution, dated 06 December
2000, the Court noted the letter of complainant, and it directed
that the complaint be thereby referred to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation.
Despite proper notice to respondent requiring him to file his
answer to the complaint, respondent continued to ignore the
matter. Finally, on 20 February 2002, the case was set for
hearing by the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline. The
complainant appeared. Respondent did not show up despite his
having been duly notified of the hearing by personal service
effected on 12 February 2002. Respondents failure to appear
prompted the Commission on Bar Discipline to grant the request
of complainant to allow her to adduce evidence ex-parte. An
order was issued setting the proceedings on 18 March 2002 for
such reception of evidence. A copy of the order was served on
respondent on 28 February 2002 at his given address.
On 21 February 2002, the Commission received a letter from
Atty. Adaza, sent via the facilities of PTT, requesting for a
resetting of the hearing from 18 March to 18 April 2002, claiming
that he was already committed to attend a hearing at the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, of Dipolog City on 20 March 2002.
The proceedings set for 18 March 2002 for the reception of
complainants evidence ex-parte was held, but the same was
without loss of right on the part of respondent to conduct, if
desired, a cross-examination of the witness. The evidence of
complainant showed that complainant used to avail of the
notarial services of Atty. Adaza at his law office at Padre Faura,
Ermita, Manila. In 1995, respondent requested complainant, and
the latter agreed, to be the primary sponsor in the baptismal of
his daughter. In November 1996, respondent accompanied by a
certain Arlene went to the residence of complainant to seek a
loan. The latter lent respondent the sum of P60,000.00 payable

Page 61

with interest at 5% a month. Respondent issued two (2) BPI


Family Bank Checks No. 35073 and No. 35076, each for
P31,800.00, dated 23 December 1996 and 24 January 1996,
respectively. When presented for collection Check No. 035073
was dishonored by the drawee bank for having been drawn
against insufficient funds. The other check, Check No. 035076,
bearing the date 24 January 1996, was not accepted for being a
stale check.
Efforts were exerted by complainant to see respondent but her
efforts proved to be futile. Several demand letters were sent to
the respondent by Atty. Ernesto Jacinto, complainants lawyer,
but these letters also failed to elicit any response. A criminal
complaint for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 was filed with
the Office of the Prosecutor of Quezon City for Check No.
035073. Finding probable cause, the complaint was subsequently
elevated to the Metropolitan Trial Court. A warrant of arrest was
issued by the court, but respondent somehow succeeded in
evading apprehension. Sometime in November 2000,
respondent went to the house of complainant and promised to
pay the checks within a months time. Complainant agreed to
have the service of the warrant of arrest withheld but, again,
respondent failed to make good his promise.
The cross-examination of complainant Priscilla Orbe was set on
22 May 2002. The stenographer was directed to transcribe the
stenographic notes as soon as possible for the benefit of Atty.
Adaza. An order was issued to this effect, and a copy thereof was
served upon respondent on 09 April 2002.
On 22 May 2002, the complainant appeared for crossexamination but Atty. Adaza did not appear despite due notice.
In light of the manifestation of complainant that she had no
other witness to present and was ready to close her evidence,
she was given a period of fifteen (15) days within which to file a
formal offer and respondent was given a like period to
thereupon submit his comment and/or opposition thereto. The
order, dated 22 May 2002, was served on Atty. Adaza on 28 May
2002. The formal offer of complainants evidence was deemed
submitted for resolution on 25 June 2002 pending proof of
service of a copy thereof upon respondent and the filing of the
necessary comment or opposition thereto by the latter.

period of one (1) year, and that he be ordered to pay to


complainant the value of the two unpaid checks he issued to
complainant.
The Court adopts the recommendation.
A member of the bar may be so removed or suspended from
office as an attorney for any deceit, malpractice, or misconduct
in office.1 The word "conduct" used in the rules is not limited to
conduct exhibited in connection with the performance of the
lawyers professional duties but it also refers to any misconduct,
although not connected with his professional duties, that would
show him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the
privileges which his license and the law confer upon him. The
grounds expressed in Section 27, Rule 138, of the Rules of Court
are not limitative2 and are broad enough to cover any
misconduct, including dishonesty, of a lawyer in his professional
or private capacity.3 Such misdeed puts his moral fiber, as well as
his fitness to continue in the advocacy of law,4in serious doubt.
Respondents issuance of worthless checks and his contumacious
refusal to comply with his just obligation for nearly eight years is
appalling5 and hardly deserves compassion from the Court.
WHEREFORE, respondent Henry M. Adaza is found guilty of gross
misconduct, and he is hereby ordered suspended from the
practice of law for a period of ONE (1) YEAR effective upon
receipt hereof. This decision is without prejudice to the outcome
of the Criminal Case for Violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 filed
against him. Let copies of this decision be spread on his record in
the Bar Confidants Office and furnished the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for
proper dissemination to all courts.
SO ORDERED.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.

In an order, dated 16 October 2002, the Commission set the


reception of evidence for respondent on 13 November 2002 in
order to give him another opportunity to rebut the evidence of
complainant. Respondent again failed to appear on the date set
therefor, prompting the Commission to rule on the admissibility
of Exhibits "A" to "D" with their submarkings. There being no
appearance on the part of respondent despite due notice, the
case was considered submitted for resolution by the Commission
in its order of 26 February 2003.
The Commission submitted its report and recommendation,
dated 28 May 2003, recommending the suspension of
respondent Atty. Henry Adaza from the practice of law for a

LEGAL PROFESSION

Page 62