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PCGG vs. Sandiganbayan (5th Division), Lucio C. Tan, et. al.

455 SCRA 526


FACTS:
Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza was the Solicitor General until 1986. He resumed his private practice of law. He appeared as counsel
for Lucio C. Tan, et. al. before the Sandiganbayan involving civil cases of sequestration of properties allegedly ill-gotten wealth.
When still the Solicitor General, he advised the Central Bank on how to proceed with the liquidation of GENBANK which
became saddled with banking problems. GENBANK was later bought by the ALLIED Bank owned by Lucio C. Tan, et. al. Atty. Mendoza
continues defending both the interests of the Central Bank and Lucio Tan, et. al.
PCGG filed a Motion to Disqualify Atty. Mendoza anchored on Rule 6.03 reading --A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in
connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in the said service.
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Mendoza is disqualified to appear as counsel for Lucio Tan, et. al. under Rule 6.03.
HELD: Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility retained the general structure of paragraph 2, Canon 36 of the Canons of
Professional Ethics but replaced the expansive phrase investigated and passed upon with the word intervened. It is, therefore,
properly applicable to both adverse-interest conflicts and congruent-interest conflicts.
The case at bar does not involve the adverse interest aspect of Rule 6.03. Respondent Mendoza, it is conceded, has no
adverse interest problem when he acted as Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 and later as counsel of respondents Tan, et. al. in
Civil Case No. 0005 and Civil Case No. 0096-0099 before the Sandiganbayan. Nonetheless, there remains the issue of whether there
exists a congruent-interest conflict sufficient to disqualify respondent Mendoza from representing respondents Tan, et. al.
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We hold that this advice given by respondent Mendoza on the procedure to liquidate GENBANK is not the matter
contemplated by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
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Similarly, the Court in interpreting Rule 6.03 was not unconcerned with the prejudice to the client which will be caused by its
misapplication. It cannot be doubted that granting disqualification motion causes the client to lose not only the law firm of choice, but
probably in individual lawyer in whom the client has confidence. The client with a disqualified lawyer must start again often without the
benefit of the work done by the latter. The effects of the prejudice to the right to choose an effective counsel cannot be overstated for it
can result in denial of due process.
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No less significant a consideration is the deprivation of the former government lawyer of the freedom to exercise his
profession. Given the current state of our law, the disqualification of a former government lawyer may extend to all members of his law
firm. Former government lawyers stand in danger of becoming the lepers of the legal profession.
It is however, preferred that the mischief sought to be remedied by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is the
possible appearance of impropriety and loss of public confidence in government. But as well observed, the accuracy of gauging public
perceptions is a highly speculative exercise at best which can lead to untoward results. No less than Judge Kaufman doubts that the
lessening of restrictions as to former government attorneys will have any detrimental effect on that free flow of information between the
government-client and its attorneys which the canons seek to protect. Notably, the appearance of impropriety theory has been rejected
in the 1983 ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and some courts have abandoned per se disqualification based on Canon 4 and
9 when an actual conflict of interest exists, and demand an evaluation of the interests of the defendant, government, the witnesses in
the case, and the public.
Atty. Mendoza was not disqualified by the Supreme Court.

PARAGAS vs. CRUZ


14 SCRA 809
FACTS:
In asking for reconsideration of the Courts dismissal of his petition for certiorari in the present case, counsel de parte for
petitioner Rosauro Paragas, Atty. Jeremias T. Sebastian, used derogatory expressions against the dignity of the Court in the
language of his motion for reconsideration.
On June 18, 1965, counsel filed an explanatory memorandum however the Court finds the explanations submitted to be
unsatisfactory.
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Sebastian is administratively liable for his actions / language.
HELD:
The expressions contained in the motion for reconsideration penned by the counsel of the petitioner are plainly contemptuous
and disrespectful and he is hereby guilty of direct contempt of court.
As remarked in People vs. Carillo: Counsel should conduct himself towards the judges who try his cases with that courtesy all
have a right to expect. As 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.
It is right and plausible that an attorney, in defending the cause and rights of his client, should do so with all the fervor and
energy of which he is capable, but it is not, and never will be so, for him to exercise said right by resorting to intimidation or proceeding
without the propriety and respect which the dignity of the courts require.
A mere disclaimer of any intentional disrespect by appellant is no ground for exoneration. His intent must be determined by a
fair interpretation of the languages by him employed. He cannot escape responsibility by claiming that his words did not mean what any
reader must have understood them as meaning.
Atty. Jeremias T. Sebastian is hereby found guilty of direct contempt.