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Regala v.

Sandiganbayan
Ponente: Kapunan
Facts
PCGG field a case against Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. for the recovery of ill-gotten
wealth. Among the defendants were the ACCRA Law Firm and Raul Roco, also a part
of ACCRA. Case alleged that Cojuangco and defendants conspired in setting up
through the use of coco levy funds numerous banks; that ACCRA acted as dummies.
ACCRA performed legal services for clients, with the incidental services where its
members acted as stockholders. In the process, members of ACCRA acquired
information relative to assets of clients and their personal and business
circumstances.
PCGG excluded Raul Roco from the complaint as party-defendant because of his
undertaking that he will reveal the identity of the principals for whom he acted as
nominee-stockholder in the companies involved.
Sandiganbayan promulgated a Resolution denying the exclusion of ACCRA members
in the complaint as party-defendants. MR denied.
PETs contend: that the exclusion of Roco as party-defendant grants him a favourable
treatment, on the pretext of his alleged undertaking to divulge the identity of his
client, giving him an advantage over ACCRA members; that lawyers are prohibited
from revealing the identity of their principal.
Issue
W/N privileged communication between atty and client may be asserted in refusing
to disclose the name of ACCRAs clients? Yes.
Held
PETs inclusion as co-defendants is merely being used as leverage to compel them
to name their clients and consequently to enable PCGG to nail these clients -> thus
PCGG has no valid cause of action against PETs and should exclude them from the
complaint.
An atty is more than a mere agent or servant because he possesses special powers
of trust and confidence reposed on him by his client. If the price of disclosure is too
high, or if it amounts to self-incrimination, then the flow of information would be
curtailed, thereby rendering the right to counsel practically nugatory.
An effective lawyer-client relationship is largely dependent upon the degree of
confidence which exists between lawyer and client which in turn requires a situation
which encourages a dynamic and fruitful exchange and flow of information.

General rule: a lawyer may not invoke the privilege and refuse to divulge the name
or identity of his client.
Exception:
1. client identity is privileged where a strong probability exists that revealing the
clients name would implicate that client in the very activity which he sought the
lawyers advice.
2. the content of any client communication to a lawyer lies within the privilege if it
is relevant to the subject matter of the legal problem on which the client seeks legal
assistance.
3. where the nature of the atty-client relationship has been previously disclosed and
it is the identity which is intended to be confidential, the identity of the client has
been held to be privileged
The instant case falls under exceptions: disclosure of clients name would lead to
establish said clients connection with the very fact in issue of the case.
Link between the alleged criminal offense and the legal advice/service sought duly
established: clients consulted the PETs regarding structure, framework and set-up of
corporations. In turn, PETs gave professional advice in the form of, among others,
deeds of assignment covering clients shareholdings.
Preparation of documents part of PETs legal service to clients. Thus PETs have
legitimate fear that identifying their clients would implicate them in the very activity
for which legal advice had been sought. Revelation of clients name would
provide necessary link for the prosecution to build its case.
Where a client thinks he might have previously committed something illegal and
consults atty about it -> falls within the exception. But where client seeks services
of an atty for illicit purposes, seeking advice about how to go around the law to
commit illegal activities -> not covered by privilege.
Purpose of privilege: to avoid fishing expedition by the prosecution. There are
alternative sources of information available to prosecutor w/c do not depend on
utilizing defendants counsel as source.
Duration of privilege: exists not only during relationship but extends even after
termination.
PCGG failed to show that Roco actually revealed identity of clients.
PCGG failed to show that Roco was treated as a species apart from the rest of
ACCRA lawyers -> no substantial distinctions between him and ACCRA; violates
equal protection clause.