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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)
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
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 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.
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.).
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 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.).
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.).
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 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.
Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions by
those trained primarily in the law can be improved through an early
introduction to multi-variable 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.
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 in-house 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
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.
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 decision-making 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 longterm and temporary groups within organizations has been found to
be related to indentifiable factors in the group-context 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 procedures and to understand relationships of


financial liability and insurance considerations. (Emphasis supplied)
Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three factors
are apropos:
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. The practice
and theory of "law" is not adequate today to facilitate the
relationships needed in trying to make a global economy work.
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.
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 appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on
Elections be declared null and void.
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 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 (1963-1970), 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,
Central Bank of the Philippines, Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis
supplied)
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).
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 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 lawyer-

entrepreneur 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. 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, 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:
(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.
(2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom the
Commission has confirmed? The answer is likewise clear.
(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;
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 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.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EN BANC
RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO,
Complainant,
Present:
PANGANIBAN, C.J.,
PUNO,
QUISUMBING,

A.C. No. 6705

YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
CALLEJO, SR.,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO, and
GARCIA, JJ.
ATTY. CARLOS B. SAGUCIO, Promulgated:
Respondent. March 31, 2006
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a disbarment complaint against Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio for violating Rule
15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and for defying the prohibition
against private practice of law while working as government prosecutor.

The Facts
Ruthie Lim-Santiago (complainant) is the daughter of Alfonso Lim and Special
Administratrix of his estate.[1] Alfonso Lim is a stockholder and the former
President of Taggat Industries, Inc.[2]
Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio (respondent) was the former Personnel Manager and
Retained Counsel of Taggat Industries, Inc. [3] until his appointment as Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor of Tuguegarao, Cagayan in 1992.[4]
Taggat Industries, Inc. (Taggat) is a domestic corporation engaged in the
operation of timber concessions from the government. The Presidential
Commission on Good Government sequestered it sometime in 1986,[5] and its
operations ceased in 1997.[6]
Sometime in July 1997, 21 employees of Taggat (Taggat employees) filed a
criminal complaint entitled Jesus Tagorda, Jr. et al. v. Ruthie Lim-Santiago,
docketed as I.S. No. 97-240 (criminal complaint).[7] Taggat employees alleged that
complainant, who took over the management and control of Taggat after the death
of her father, withheld payment of their salaries and wages without valid cause
from 1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997.[8]

Respondent, as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, was assigned to conduct the


preliminary investigation.[9] He resolved the criminal complaint by recommending
the filing of 651 Informations[10] for violation of Article 288[11] in relation to Article
116[12] of the Labor Code of the Philippines.[13]
Complainant now charges respondent with the following violations:
1.

Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

Complainant contends that respondent is guilty of representing conflicting


interests. Respondent, being the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel
of Taggat, knew the operations of Taggat very well. Respondent should have
inhibited himself from hearing, investigating and deciding the case filed by Taggat
employees.[14] Furthermore, complainant claims that respondent instigated the
filing of the cases and even harassed and threatened Taggat employees to accede
and sign an affidavit to support the complaint.[15]
2. Engaging in the private practice of law while working as a government
prosecutor
Complainant also contends that respondent is guilty of engaging in the
private practice of law while working as a government prosecutor. Complainant
presented evidence to prove that respondent received P10,000 as retainers fee for
the months of January and February 1995, [16] another P10,000 for the months
of April and May 1995,[17] and P5,000 for the month of April 1996.[18]

Complainant seeks the disbarment of respondent for violating Rule 15.03 of


the Code of Professional Responsibility and for defying the prohibition against
private practice of law while working as government prosecutor.
Respondent refutes complainants allegations and counters that complainant
was merely aggrieved by the resolution of the criminal complaint which was
adverse and contrary to her expectation.[19]
Respondent claims that when the criminal complaint was filed, respondent
had resigned from Taggat for more than five years.[20] Respondent asserts that he no
longer owed his undivided loyalty to Taggat.[21] Respondent argues that it was his
sworn duty to conduct the necessary preliminary investigation. [22] Respondent
contends that complainant failed to establish lack of impartiality when he
performed his duty.[23] Respondent points out that complainant did not file a motion
to inhibit respondent from hearing the criminal complaint[24] but instead
complainant voluntarily executed and filed her counter-affidavit without mental
reservation.[25]

Respondent states that complainants reason in not filing a motion to inhibit


was her impression that respondent would exonerate her from the charges filed as
gleaned from complainants statement during the hearing conducted on 12 February
1999:
xxx

Q. (Atty. Dabu). What do you mean you didnt think he would do it,
Madam Witness?
A. Because he is supposed to be my fathers friend and he was working
with my Dad and he was supposed to be trusted by my father. And he
came to me and told me he gonna help me. x x x. [26]

Respondent also asserts that no conflicting interests exist because he was not
representing Taggat employees or complainant. Respondent claims he was merely
performing his official duty as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor.[27] Respondent
argues that complainant failed to establish that respondents act was tainted with
personal interest, malice and bad faith.[28]
Respondent denies complainants allegations that he instigated the filing of
the cases, threatened and harassed Taggat employees. Respondent claims that this
accusation is bereft of proof because complainant failed to mention the names of
the employees or present them for cross-examination.[29]
Respondent does not dispute his receipt, after his appointment as
government prosecutor, of retainer fees from complainant but claims that it

was only on a case-to-case basis and it ceased in 1996. [30] Respondent contends that
the fees were paid for his consultancy services and not for representation.
Respondent submits that consultation is not the same as representation and that
rendering consultancy services is not prohibited.[31] Respondent, in his ReplyMemorandum, states:
x x x [I]f ever Taggat paid him certain amounts, these were paid
voluntarily by Taggat without the respondents asking, intended as token
consultancy fees on a case-to-case basis and not as or for retainer fees. These
payments do not at all show or translate as a specie of conflict of interest.
Moreover, these consultations had no relation to, or connection with, the abovementioned labor complaints filed by former Taggat employees.[32]

Respondent insists that complainants evidence failed to prove that when the
criminal complaint was filed with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of
Cagayan, respondent was still the retained counsel or legal consultant.[33]
While this disbarment case was pending, the Resolution and Order issued by
respondent to file 651 Informations against complainant was reversed and set aside
by Regional State Prosecutor of Cagayan Rodolfo B. Cadelina last 4 January 1999.
[34]

Hence, the criminal complaint was dismissed.[35]

The IBPs Report and Recommendation


The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Investigating Commissioner Ma.
Carmina M. Alejandro-Abbas (IBP Commissioner Abbas) heard the case [36] and
allowed the parties to submit their respective memoranda. [37] Due to IBP
Commissioner Abbas resignation, the case was reassigned to Commissioner
Dennis A.B. Funa (IBP Commissioner Funa).[38]

After the parties filed their memoranda and motion to resolve the case, the
IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVI-2004-479 (IBP Resolution)
dated 4 November 2004 adopting with modification[39] IBP Commissioner Funas
Report and Recommendation (Report) finding respondent guilty of conflict of
interests, failure to safeguard a former clients interest, and violating the prohibition
against the private practice of law while being a government prosecutor. The IBP
Board of Governors recommended the imposition of a penalty of three years
suspension from the practice of law. The Report reads:
Now the issue here is whether being a former lawyer of
Taggat conflicts with his role as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor in
deciding I.S. No. 97-240. A determination of this issue will require the
test of whether the matter in I.S. No. 97-240 will conflict with his former
position of Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat.
I.S. No. 97-240 was filed for Violation
Code (see Resolution of the Provincial Prosecutors Office,
Complaint). Herein Complainant, Ruthie Lim-Santiago,
accused as having the management and control of
2, Resolution of the Prov. Pros. Office, supra).

of Labor
Annex B of
was being
Taggat (p.

Clearly, as a former Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of


Taggat, herein Respondent undoubtedly handled the personnel and labor
concerns of Taggat. Respondent, undoubtedly dealt with and related
with the employees of Taggat. Therefore, Respondent undoubtedly dealt
with and related with complainants in I.S. No. 97-240. The issues,
therefore, in I.S. No. 97-240, are very much familiar with Respondent.
While the issues of unpaid salaries pertain to the periods 1996-1997, the
mechanics and personalities in that case are very much familiar with
Respondent.
A lawyer owes something to a former client. Herein Respondent
owes to Taggat, a former client, the duty to maintain inviolate the clients
confidence or to refrain from doing anything which will injuriously
affect him in any matter in which he previously represented him (Natam
v. Capule, 91 Phil. 640; p. 231, Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 4 th ed.)

Respondent argues that as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, he does


not represent any client or any interest except justice. It should not be
forgotten, however, that a lawyer has an immutable duty to a former
client with respect to matters that he previously handled for that former
client. In this case, matters relating to personnel, labor policies,
and labor relations that he previously handled as Personnel Manager and
Legal Counsel of Taggat. I.S. No. 97-240 was for Violation of the Labor
Code. Here lies the conflict. Perhaps it would have been different had
I.S. No. 97-240 not been labor-related, or if Respondent had not been a
Personnel Manager concurrently as Legal Counsel. But as it is, I.S. No.
97-240 is labor-related and Respondent was a former Personnel Manager
of Taggat.
xxxx
While Respondent ceased his relations with Taggat in 1992 and
the unpaid salaries being sought in I.S. No. 97-240 were of the years
1996 and 1997, the employees and management involved are the very
personalities he dealt with as Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel
of Taggat. Respondent dealt with these persons in his fiduciary relations
with Taggat. Moreover, he was an employee of the corporation and part
of its management.
xxxx
As to the propriety of receiving Retainer Fees or consultancy fees
from herein Complainant while being an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor,
and for rendering legal consultancy work while being an Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor, this matter had long been settled. Government
prosecutors are prohibited to engage in the private practice of
law (see Legal and Judicial Ethics, Ernesto Pineda, 1994 ed., p.
20; People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109; Aquino v. Blanco 70 Phil. 647).
The act of being a legal consultant is a practice of law. To engage in the
practice of law is to do any of those acts that are characteristic of the
legal profession (In re: David, 93 Phil. 461). It covers any activity, in or
out of court, which required the application of law, legal principles,
practice or procedures and calls for legal knowledge, training and
experience (PLA v. Agrava, 105 Phil. 173; People v. Villanueva, 14
SCRA 111; Cayetano v. Monsod, 201 SCRA 210).
Respondent clearly violated this prohibition.

As for the secondary accusations of harassing certain employees


of Taggat and instigating the filing of criminal complaints, we find the
evidence insufficient.
Accordingly, Respondent should be found guilty of conflict of
interest, failure to safeguard a former clients interest, and violating the
prohibition against the private practice of law while being a government
prosecutor.[40]

The IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court as provided
under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B[41] of the Rules of Court.

The Ruling of the Court


The Court exonerates respondent from the charge of violation of Rule 15.03
of the Code of Professional Responsibility (Code). However, the Court finds
respondent liable for violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility against unlawful conduct.[42] Respondent committed unlawful
conduct when he violated Section 7(b)(2) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical
Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act No. 6713 (RA
6713).
Canon 6 provides that the Code shall apply to lawyers in government service
in the discharge of their official duties. [43] A government lawyer is thus bound by
the prohibition not [to] represent conflicting interests.[44] However, this rule is
subject to certain limitations. The prohibition to represent conflicting interests does
not apply when no conflict of interest exists, when a written consent of all
concerned is given after a full disclosure of the facts or when no true attorneyclient relationship exists.[45] Moreover, considering the serious consequence of the

disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, clear preponderant evidence is


necessary to justify the imposition of the administrative penalty.[46]
Respondent is also mandated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 not to engage in
unlawful x x x conduct. Unlawful conduct includes violation of the statutory
prohibition on a government employee to engage in the private practice of [his]
profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such
practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with [his] official functions.[47]
Complainants evidence failed to substantiate the claim
that respondent represented conflicting interests
In Quiambao v. Bamba,[48] the Court enumerated various tests to determine
conflict of interests. One test of inconsistency of interests is whether the lawyer
will be asked to use against his former client any confidential information acquired
through their connection or previous employment. [49] In essence, what a lawyer
owes his former client is to maintain inviolate the clients confidence or to refrain
from doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any matter in which he
previously represented him.[50]
In the present case, we find no conflict of interests when respondent handled the
preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint filed by Taggat employees in
1997. The issue in the criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of wages that
occurred from 1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997. Clearly, respondent was no longer
connected with Taggat during that period since he resigned sometime in 1992.
In order to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests, evidence must
be presented to prove that respondent used against Taggat, his former client, any
confidential information acquired through his previous employment. The only
established participation respondent had with respect to the criminal complaint is

that he was the one who conducted the preliminary investigation. On that basis
alone, it does not necessarily follow that respondent used any confidential
information from his previous employment with complainant or Taggat in
resolving the criminal complaint.
The fact alone that respondent was the former Personnel Manager and Retained
Counsel of Taggat and the case he resolved as government prosecutor was laborrelated is not a sufficient basis to charge respondent for representing conflicting
interests. A lawyers immutable duty to a former client does not cover transactions
that occurred beyond the lawyers employment with the client. The intent of the law
is to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the clients interests only on
matters that he previously handled for the former client and not for matters that
arose after the lawyer-client relationship has terminated.
Further, complainant failed to present a single iota of evidence to prove her
allegations. Thus, respondent is not guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of the Code.

Respondent engaged in the private practice of law


while working as a government prosecutor

The Court has defined the practice of law broadly as


x x x 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.[51]

Private practice of law contemplates a succession of acts of the same nature


habitually or customarily holding ones self to the public as a lawyer.[52]
Respondent argues that he only rendered consultancy services to Taggat
intermittently and he was not a retained counsel of Taggat from 1995 to 1996 as
alleged. This argument is without merit because the law does not distinguish
between consultancy services and retainer agreement. For as long as respondent
performed acts that are usually rendered by lawyers with the use of their legal
knowledge, the same falls within the ambit of the term practice of law.
Nonetheless, respondent admitted that he rendered his legal services to
complainant while working as a government prosecutor. Even the receipts he
signed stated that the payments by Taggat were for Retainers fee.[53] Thus, as
correctly pointed out by complainant, respondent clearly violated the prohibition in
RA 6713.
However, violations of RA 6713 are not subject to disciplinary action under
the Code of Professional Responsibility unless the violations also constitute
infractions

of

specific

provisions

of

the

Code

of

Professional

Responsibility. Certainly, the IBP has no jurisdiction to investigate violations of


RA 6713 the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees unless the acts involved also transgress provisions of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

Here, respondents violation of RA 6713 also constitutes a violation of Rule


1.01 of Canon 1, which mandates that [a] lawyer shall not engage in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Respondents admission that he
received from Taggat fees for legal services while serving as a government
prosecutor is an unlawful conduct, which constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01.
Respondent admitted that complainant also charged him with unlawful
conduct when respondent stated in his Demurrer to Evidence:
In this instant case, the complainant prays that the respondent be permanently
and indefinitely suspended or disbarred from the practice of the law profession and
his name removed from the Roll of Attorneys on the following grounds:
xxxx
d) that respondent manifested gross misconduct and gross violation of his
oath of office and in his dealings with the public.[54]

On the Appropriate Penalty on Respondent


The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer depends on the exercise of sound
judicial discretion based on the surrounding facts.[55]
Under Civil Service Law and rules, the penalty for government employees
engaging in unauthorized private practice of profession is suspension for six
months and one day to one year.[56] We find this penalty appropriate for
respondents violation in this case of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio GUILTY of


violation

of

Rule

1.01,

Canon

of

the

Code

of

Professional

Responsibility. Accordingly, weSUSPEND respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio


from the practice of law for SIX MONTHS effective upon finality of this
Decision.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be
appended to respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their
information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EN BANC
Father RANHILIO C. AQUINO,
LINA M. GARAN, ESTRELLA C.
LOZADA,
POLICARPIO
L.
MABBORANG, DEXTER R.
MUNAR,
MONICO
U.
TENEDRO, ANDY R. QUEBRAL,
NESTOR T. RIVERA, EDUARDO
C. RICAMORA, ARTHUR G.
IBAEZ, AURELIO C. CALDEZ
and DENU A. AGATEP,
Complainants,

A.C. No. 5095


Present:
*

PUNO, C.J.
QUISUMBING,
**
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
*

- versus -

CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ.
Promulgated:

Atty. EDWIN PASCUA,


Respondent.

November 28, 2007

x -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

For our resolution is the letter-complaint dated August 3, 1999 of


Father Ranhilio C. Aquino, then Academic Head of the Philippine Judicial
Academy, joined by Lina M.Garan and the other above-named complainants,
against Atty. Edwin Pascua, a Notary Public in Cagayan.
In his letter-complaint, Father Aquino alleged that Atty. Pascua falsified two
documents committed as follows:
(1) He made it appear that he had notarized the AffidavitComplaint of one Joseph B. Acorda entering the same as Doc. No. 1213,
Page No. 243, Book III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998.
(2) He also made it appear that he had notarized the AffidavitComplaint of one Remigio B. Domingo entering the same as Doc. No.
1214, Page 243, Book III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998.

Father Aquino further alleged that on June 23 and July 26, 1999, Atty. Angel
Beltran, Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Tuguegarao, certified that none of

the above entries appear in the Notarial Register of Atty. Pascua; that the last entry
therein was Document No. 1200 executed on December 28, 1998; and that,
therefore, he could not have notarized Documents Nos. 1213 and 1214 on
December 10, 1998.

In his comment on the letter-complaint dated September 4, 1999,


Atty. Pascua admitted having notarized the two documents on December 10, 1998,
but they were not entered in his Notarial Register due to the oversight of his legal
secretary, Lyn Elsie C. Patli, whose affidavit was attached to his comment.

The affidavit-complaints referred to in the notarized documents were filed


by Atty. Pascua with the Civil Service Commission. Impleaded as respondents
therein were LinaM. Garan and the other above-named complainants. They filed
with this Court a Motion to Join the Complaint and Reply to Respondents
Comment. They maintain that Atty.Pascuas omission was not due to inadvertence
but a clear case of falsification.[1] On November 16, 1999, we granted their motion.
[2]

Thereafter, we referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant for
investigation, report and recommendation.

On April 21, 2003, the Office of the Bar Confidant issued its Report and
Recommendation partly reproduced as follows:
A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon
its face. For this reason, notaries public must observe the utmost care to
comply with the formalities and the basic requirement in the
performance of their duties (Realino v. Villamor, 87 SCRA 318).

Under the notarial law, the notary public shall enter in such
register, in chronological order, the nature of each instrument executed,
sworn to, or acknowledged before him, the person executing, swearing
to, or acknowledging the instrument, xxx xxx. The notary shall give to
each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him a
number corresponding to the one in his register, and shall also state on
the instrument the page or pages of his register on which the same is
recorded. No blank line shall be left between entries (Sec. 246, Article V,
Title IV, Chapter II of the Revised Administrative Code).
Failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in
his notarial register touching his notarial acts in the manner required by
law is a ground for revocation of his commission (Sec. 249, Article VI).
In the instant case, there is no question that the subject documents
allegedly notarized by Atty. Pascua were not recorded in
his notarial register.
Atty. Pascua claims that the omission was not intentional but due
to oversight of his staff. Whichever is the case, Atty. Pascua cannot
escape liability. His failure to enter into his notarial register the
documents that he admittedly notarized is a dereliction of duty on his
part as a notary public and he is bound by the acts of his staff.
The claim of Atty. Pascua that it was simple inadvertence is far
from true.
The photocopy of his notarial register shows that the last entry
which he notarized on December 28, 1998 is Document No. 1200 on
Page 240. On the other hand, the two affidavit-complaints allegedly
notarized on December 10, 1998 are Document Nos. 1213 and 1214,
respectively, under Page No. 243, Book III. Thus, Fr. Ranhilio and the
other complainants are, therefore, correct in maintaining that
Atty. Pascua falsely assigned fictitious numbers to the questioned
affidavit-complaints, a clear dishonesty on his part not only as a Notary
Public, but also as a member of the Bar.
This is not to mention that the only supporting evidence of the
claim of inadvertence by Atty. Pascua is the affidavit of his own
secretary which is hardly credible since the latter cannot be considered a
disinterested witness or party.

Noteworthy also is the fact that the questioned affidavit


of Acorda (Doc. No. 1213) was submitted only when Domingos affidavit
(Doc. No. 1214) was withdrawn in the administrative case filed by
Atty. Pascua against Lina Garan, et al. with the CSC. This circumstance
lends credence to the submission of herein complainants that
Atty. Pascua ante-dated another affidavit-complaint making it appear as
notarized on December 10, 1998 and entered as Document No. 1213. It
may not be sheer coincidence then that both documents are
dated December 10, 1998 and numbered as 1213 and 1214.
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
(Maligsa v. Cabanting, 272 SCRA 409).
As a lawyer commissioned to be a notary public, Atty. Pascua is
mandated to subscribe to the sacred duties appertaining to his office,
such duties being dictated by public policy and impressed with public
interest.
A member of the Bar may be disciplined or disbarred for any
misconduct in his professional or private capacity. The Court has
invariably imposed a penalty for notaries public who were found guilty
of dishonesty or misconduct in the performance of their duties.
In Villarin v. Sabate, Jr. (325 SCRA 123), respondent lawyer was
suspended from his Commission as Notary Public for a period of one
year for notarizing a document without affiants appearing before him,
and for notarizing the same instrument of which he was one of the
signatories. The Court held that respondent lawyer failed to exercise due
diligence in upholding his duties as a notary public.
In Arrieta v. Llosa (282 SCRA 248), respondent lawyer who
certified under oath a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of the
vendors were dead was suspended from the practice of law for a period
of six (6) months, with a warning that another infraction would be dealt
with more severely. In said case, the Court did not impose the supreme
penalty of disbarment, it being the respondents first offense.
In Maligsa v. Cabanting (272 SCRA 409), respondent lawyer was
disbarred from the practice of law, after being found guilty of notarizing
a fictitious or spurious document. The Court considered the seriousness

of the offense and his previous misconduct for which he was suspended
for six months from the practice of law.
It appearing that this is the first offense of Atty. Pascua, a
suspension from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months may
be considered enough penalty for him as a lawyer. Considering that his
offense is also a ground for revocation of notarial commission, the same
should also be imposed upon him.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is most respectfully recommended
that the notarial commission of Atty. EDWIN V. PASCUA, if still
existing, be REVOKED and that he be SUSPENDED from the practice
of law for a period of six (6) months.[3]

After a close review of the records of this case, we resolve to adopt the
findings of facts and conclusion of law by the Office of the Bar Confidant. We find
Atty. Pascuaguilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties for failing to
register

in

his Notarial Register

the

affidavit-complaints

of

Joseph

B. Acorda and Remigio B. Domingo.

Misconduct generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct


motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose. [4] The term,
however, does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent.[5]

The penalty to be imposed for such act of misconduct committed by a


lawyer is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court. In Arrieta v. Llosa,
[6]

wherein Atty. Joel A.Llosa notarized a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some

of the vendors were already dead, this Court held that such wrongful act constitutes
misconduct and thus imposed upon him the penalty of suspension from the practice
of law for six months, this being his first administrative offense. Also, in Vda. de
Rosales v. Ramos,[7] we revoked thenotarial commission of Atty. Mario G. Ramos

and suspended him from the practice of law for six months for violating
the Notarial Law in not registering in his notarial book the Deed of Absolute Sale
he

notarized. In Mondejar v. Rubia,[8] however,

lesser

penalty

of one

month suspension from the practice of law was imposed on Atty. Vivian
G. Rubiafor making a false declaration in the document she notarized.

In the present case, considering that this is Atty. Pascuas first offense, we
believe that the imposition of a three-month suspension from the practice of law
upon him is in order. Likewise, since his offense is a ground for revocation
of notarial commission, the same should also be imposed upon him.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Edwin Pascua is declared GUILTY of misconduct


and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months with
a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with
more severely. His notarial commission, if still existing, is ordered REVOKED.

SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EN BANC
Re: Non-disclosure Before the
Judicial and Bar Council of
the Administrative Case Filed
Against Judge Jaime V.
Quitain, in His Capacity as
the then Asst. Regional
Director of the National

JBC No. 013


Present:
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,

Police Commission, Regional


Office XI, Davao City.

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO-MORALES,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
GARCIA,
VELASCO,
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ.

Promulgated:
August 22, 2007
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
Judge Jaime Vega Quitain was appointed Presiding Judge of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 10, Davao City on May 17, 2003.[1] Subsequent thereto,
the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) received confidential information that
administrative and criminal charges were filed against Judge Quitain in his
capacity as then Assistant Regional Director, National Police Commission
(NAPOLCOM), Regional Office 11, Davao City, as a result of which he was
dismissed from the service per Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 183 dated April
10, 1995.

In the Personal Data Sheet (PDS)[2] submitted to the Judicial and Bar
Council (JBC) on November 26, 2001, Judge Quitain declared that there were five
criminal cases (Criminal Cases Nos. 18438, 18439, 22812, 22813, and 22814)

filed against him before the Sandiganbayan, which were all dismissed. No
administrative case was disclosed by Judge Qutain in his PDS.

To confirm the veracity of the information, then Deputy Court Administrator


(DCA) Christopher O. Lock (now Court Administrator) requested from
the Sandiganbayancertified copies of the Order(s) dismissing the criminal cases.
[3]

On even date, letters[4] were sent to the NAPOLCOM requesting for certified

true copies of documents relative to the administrative complaints filed against


Judge Quitain, particularly A.O. No. 183 dated April 10, 1995 dismissing him from
the service. Likewise, DCA Lock required Judge Quitain to explain the alleged
misrepresentation and deception he committed before the JBC.[5]

In a letter[6] dated November 28, 2003, the NAPOLCOM furnished the


Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) a copy of A.O. No. 183 showing that
respondent Judge was indeed dismissed from the service for Grave Misconduct for
falsifying or altering the amounts reflected in disbursement vouchers in support of
his claim for reimbursement of expenses. A.O. 183 partly reads:
THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 183
DISMISSING FROM THE SERVICE ASSISTANT REGIONAL
DIRECTOR JAIME VEGA QUITAIN, NATIONAL POLICE
COMMISSION, REGIONAL OFFICE NO. 11
This refers to the administrative complaint against Jaime Vega
Quitain, Assistant Regional Director, National Police Commission
(NAPOLCOM), Regional Office No. 11, Davao City, for Grave
Misconduct (Violation of Art. 48, in relation to Arts. 171 and 217 of the
Revised Penal Code and Art. IX of the Civil Service Law) filed by the
NAPOLCOM.
xxxx

After circumspect study, I am in complete accord with the above


findings and recommendation of the NAPOLCOM.
It was established that the falsification could not have been
consummated without respondents direct participation, as it was upon his
direction and approval that disbursement vouchers were prepared
showing the falsified amount. The subsequent endorsement and
encashment of the check by respondent only shows his complete
disregard for the truth which per se constitutes misconduct and
dishonesty of the highest order. By any standard, respondent had
manifestly shown that he is unfit to discharge the functions of his
office. Needless to stress, a public office is a position of trust and public
service demands of every government official or employee, no matter
how lowly his position may be, the highest degree of responsibility and
integrity and he must remain accountable to the people. Moreover, his
failure to adduce evidence in support of his defense is a tacit admission
of his guilt. Let this be a final reminder to him that the government is
serious enough to [weed out] misfits in the government service, and it
will not be irresolute to impose the severest sanction regardless of
personalities involved. Accordingly, respondents continuance in office
becomes untenable.
WHEREFORE, and as recommended by the NAPOLCOM,
Assistant Regional Director Jaime Vega Quitain is hereby DISMISSED
from the service, with forfeiture of pay and benefits, effective upon
receipt of a copy hereof.
Done in the City of Manila, this 10th day of April in the year of our
Lord, nineteen hundred and ninety-five.
(Sgd. by President Fidel V. Ramos)
By the President:
(Sgd.)
TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR.
Executive Secretary[7]

In a letter[8] dated October 22, 2003 addressed to DCA Lock, Judge Quitain
denied having committed any misrepresentation before the JBC. He alleged that
during his interview, the members thereof only inquired about the status of the

criminal cases filed by the NAPOLCOM before the Sandiganbayan, and not about
the administrative case simultaneously filed against him. He also alleged that he
never received from the Office of the President an official copy of A.O. No. 183
dismissing him from the service.

Thereafter, DCA Lock directed Judge Quitain to explain within ten (10) days
from notice why he did not include in his PDS, which was sworn to before a notary
public on November 22, 2001, the administrative case filed against him, and the
fact of his dismissal from the service.[9]

In his letters[10] dated March 13, 2004 and June 17, 2004, respondent
explained that during the investigation of his administrative case by the
NAPOLCOM Ad HocCommittee, one of its members suggested to him that if he
resigns from the government service, he will no longer be prosecuted; that
following such suggestion, he tendered his irrevocable resignation from
NAPOLCOM on June 1, 1993[11] which was immediately accepted by the Secretary
of the Department of Interior and Local Governments; that he did not disclose the
case in his PDS because he was of the honest belief that he had no more pending
administrative case by reason of his resignation; that his resignation amounted to
an automatic dismissal of his administrative case considering that the issues raised
therein became moot and academic; and that had he known that he would be
dismissed from the service, he should not have applied for the position of a judge
since he knew he would never be appointed.

Finding reasonable ground to hold him administratively liable, then Court


Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (now a member of this Court) and then

DCA Lock submitted a Memorandum[12] dated September 3, 2004 to then Chief


Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., which states:
In order that this Office may thoroughly and properly evaluate the
matter, we deemed it necessary to go over the records of the subject
administrative case against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, particularly the
matter that pertains to Administrative Order No. 183 dated 10 April
1995. On 15 May 2004, we examined the records of said administrative
case on file with the NAPOLCOM, Legal Affairs Service, and secured
certified [true] copies of pertinent documents.
After careful perusal of the documents and records available,
including the letters-explanations of Judge Jaime V. Quitain, this Office
finds that there are reasonable grounds to hold him administratively
liable.
An examination of the Personal Data Sheet submitted by Judge
Quitain with the Judicial and Bar Council, which was subscribed and
sworn to before Notary Public Bibiano M. Bustamante of Davao City on
22 November 2001, reveals that he concealed material facts and even
committed perjury in having answered yes to Question No. 24, but
without disclosing the fact that he was dismissed from the
government service. Question No. 24 and his answer thereto are
hereunder quoted as follows:
24. Have you ever been charged with or convicted of or
otherwise imposed a sanction for the violation of any law, decree,
ordinance or regulation by any court, tribunal or any other government
office, agency or instrumentality in the Philippines or in any foreign
country or found guilty of an administrative offense or imposed any
administrative sanction?[ / ] Yes [ ] No. If your answer is Yes to any
of the questions, give particulars.
But all dismissed (acquitted)
Sandiganbayan Criminal Cases Nos. 18438, 18439
Date of [Dismissal] August 2, 1995
Sandiganbayan Criminal Cases Nos. 22812, 22813, 22814
Date of [Dismissal] July 17, 2000

As borne out by the records, Judge Quitain deliberately did not


disclose the fact that he was dismissed from the government service. At
the time he filled up and submitted his Personal Data Sheet with the

Judicial and Bar Council, he had full knowledge of the subject


administrative case, as well as Administrative Order No. 183 dismissing
him from the government service. Based on the certified documents
secured from the Office of the NAPOLCOM, the following data were
gathered:
1. In compliance with the Summons dated 19 March 1993, signed
by Commissioner Alexis C. Canonizado, Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee
of the NAPOLCOM, Judge Jaime V. Quitain, through Atty. Pedro S.
Castillo, filed his Answer (dated 29 March 1993) to the administrative
complaint lodged against him by the Napolcom;
2. On 30 March 1993, Judge Quitain received a copy of the Notice
of Hearing of even date, signed by Mr. Canonizado, in connection with
the formal hearing of the subject administrative case scheduled on 30
April 1993;
3. Administrative Order No. 183, dismissing Judge Quitain from
the service, was dated 10 April 1995. On 18 April 1995, newspaper items
relative to the dismissal of Judge Quitain were separately published in
the Mindanao Daily Mirror and in the Mindanao Times, the contents of
which read as follows:
Mindanao Times:
Dismissed NAPOLCOM chief airs appeal
Former National Police Commission (Napolcom) acting regional
director Jaime Quitain yesterday appealed for understanding to those
allegedly behind his ouster from his post two years ago. Quitain, who
was one of the guests in yesterdays Kapehan sa Dabaw, wept
unabashedly as he read his prepared statement on his dismissal from
government service.
Quitain claimed that after Secretary Luis Santos resigned from
the Department of Interior and Local Governments in 1991, a series of
administrative charges were hurled against him by some regional
employees.
I was dismissed from the Napolcom Office without due process,
Quitain said.
He also said he had no idea as to who the people (sic) are behind
the alleged smear campaign leveled against him.
Whoever is behind all this, I have long forgiven you. My only
appeal to you, give me my day in court, give me the chance to clear my

name, the only legacy that I can leave to my children, Quitain said in his
statement.
It is my constitutional right to be present in all proceedings of the
administrative case, he also said.
Quitain was appointed Assistant Regional Director of Napolcom
in 1991 by then President Corazon Aquino upon the recommendation of
Secretary Santos. He was later designated Napolcom acting regional
director for Region XI.
Mindanao Daily Mirror:
Quitain vows to clear name

Former assistant regional director Jaime Quitain of the National


Police Commission (Napolcom) vowed yesterday to clear his name in
court from charges of tampering with an official receipt.
Quitain[,] who is running for a council seat, expressed
confidence that he would soon be vindicated in court against the group
that plotted his ouster from office: He said his only appeal was for
Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan to grant him his
day in court to answer the charges.
Whoever was behind all of these things, I have long forgiven
them, Quitain said.
Just give me the chance to clear my name because this is the
only legacy that I can give my children, Quitain said.

While the records of the subject administrative case on file with


the NAPOLCOM Office does not bear proof of receipt of Administrative
Order No. 183 by Judge Quitain, the same does not necessarily mean
that he is totally unaware of said Administrative Order. As shown by the
above-quoted newspaper clippings, Judge Quitain even aired his appeal
and protest to said Administrative Order.
xxxx
Judge Quitain asseverated that he should not have applied with the
JBC had he known that he was administratively charged and was
consequently dismissed from the service since he will not be
considered. But this may be the reason why he deliberately concealed
said fact. His claim that he did not declare the administrative case in his
Personal Data Sheet because of his honest belief that there is no
administrative or criminal case that would be filed against him by reason
of his resignation and the assurance made by the NAPOLCOM that no
administrative case will be filed, does not hold water. It is rather absurd
for him to state that his resignation from the NAPOLCOM amounts to an
automatic dismissal of whatever administrative case filed against him
because when he resigned and relinquished his position, the issues raised
therein became moot and academic. He claims that he did not bother to
follow up the formal dismissal of the administrative case because of said
belief. All these are but futile attempts to exonerate himself from
administrative culpability in concealing facts relevant and material to his
application in the Judiciary. As a member of the Bar, he should know
that his resignation from the NAPOLCOM would not obliterate any
administrative liability he may have incurred[,] much less, would it
result to the automatic dismissal of the administrative case filed against

him. The acceptance of his resignation is definitely without prejudice to


the continuation of the administrative case filed against him. If such
would be the case, anyone charged administratively could easily escape
from administrative sanctions by the simple expedient of resigning from
the service. Had it been true that Judge Quitain honestly believes that his
resignation amounts to the automatic dismissal of his administrative
case, the least he could have done was to personally verify the status
thereof. He should not have relied on the alleged assurance made by the
NAPOLCOM.

On the strength of his misrepresentation, Judge Quitain misled the


Judicial and Bar Council by making it appear that he had a clean record
and was qualified to join the Judiciary. His prior dismissal from the
government service is a blot on his record, which has gone [worse] and
has spread even more because of his concealment of it. Had he not
concealed said vital fact, it could have been taken into consideration
when the Council acted on his application. His act of dishonesty renders
him unfit to join the Judiciary, much less remain sitting as a judge. It
even appears that he was dismissed by the NAPOLCOM for misconduct
and dishonesty.

Thus, the OCA recommended that: (1) the instant administrative case against
respondent be docketed as an administrative matter; and (2) that he be dismissed
from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to any position in the
government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and with
forfeiture of all retirement benefits except accrued leave credits.

Respondent was required to Comment.[13]

In compliance

with

the Courts

Resolution

respondent

filed

his

Comment[14] contending that before he filed his application for RTC Judge with the
JBC, he had no knowledge that he was administratively dismissed from the
NAPOLCOM service as the case was secretly heard and decided. He averred that:
1. Being a religious lay head and eventually the Pastoral Head of
the Redemptorist Eucharistic Lay Ministry in Davao City and the
surrounding provinces, he was recruited as one of the political followers
of then Mayor Luis T. Santos of Davao City, who later became the
Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
and was instrumental in his appointment as Assistant Regional Director
of the National Police Commission, Region XI;
2. After Secretary Luis T. Santos was replaced as DILG Secretary,
the political followers of his successor, who were the same followers
involved in the chain of corruption prevalent in their department, began

quietly pressing for his (Quitain) resignation as Assistant Regional


Director;

3. Finding difficulty in attacking his honesty and personal


integrity, his detractors went to the extent of filing criminal charges
against him;
4. Before these criminal charges were scheduled for trial, he was
being convinced to resign in exchange for the dismissal of said criminal
charges, but when he refused to do so, he was unjustifiably detailed or
exiled at the DILG central office in Manila;
5. Upon his exile in Manila for several months, he realized that
even his immediate superiors cooperated with his detractors in
instigating for his removal. Hence, upon advice of his relatives, friends
and the heads of their pastoral congregation, he resigned from his
position in NAPOLCOM on condition that all pending cases filed
against him, consisting of criminal cases only, shall be dismissed, as in
fact they were dismissed;
6. From then on he was never formally aware of any
administrative case filed against him. Hence, when he submitted his
Personal Data Sheet before the Judicial and Bar Council in support of his
application as RTC judge, he made the following answer in Question No.
23:
23. Is there any pending civil, criminal, or
administrative (including disbarment) case or complaint
filed against you pending before any court, prosecution
office, any other office, agency or instrumentality of the
government, or the Integrated Bar of the Philippines?
He could only give a negative answer since there was no pending
administrative case filed against him that he knows;
7. Had he known that there was an administrative case filed
against him he would have desisted from applying as a judge and would
have given his full attention to the said administrative case, if only to
avoid ensuing embarrassment; and

8. The filing of the administrative case against him as well as the


proceedings had thereon and the decision rendered therein, without his
knowledge, could have probably occurred during his exile period when
he was detailed indefinitely in Manila. The proceedings had in the said
administrative case are null and void since he was denied due process.

Respondents Comment was submitted to the OCA for evaluation, report and
recommendation.[15]

OCA submitted its Memorandum[16] dated August 11, 2005 stating therein
that it was adopting its earlier findings contained in its Memorandum
dated September 3, 2004. Based on the documents presented, it can not be denied
that at the time Judge Quitain applied as an RTC judge, he had full knowledge of
A.O. No. 183 dismissing him from government service. Considering that Judge
Quitains explanations in his Comment are but mere reiterations of his allegations
in the previous letters to the OCA, the OCA maintained its recommendation that
Judge Quitain be dismissed from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to
any position in the government, including government-owned or controlled
corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits except accrued leave
credits.

The Court fully agrees with the disquisition and the recommendation of the
OCA.

It behooves every prospective appointee to the Judiciary to apprise the


appointing authority of every matter bearing on his fitness for judicial office,
including such circumstances as may reflect on his integrity and probity. These are
qualifications specifically required of appointees to the Judiciary by Sec. 7(3),
Article VIII of the Constitution.[17]

In this case, Judge Quitain failed to disclose that he was administratively


charged and dismissed from the service for grave misconduct per A.O. No. 183
dated April 10, 1995 by no less than the former President of the Philippines. He
insists that on November 26, 2001 or before he filed with the JBC his verified PDS
in support of his application for RTC Judge, he had no knowledge of A.O. No. 183;
and that he was denied due process. He further argues that since all the criminal

cases filed against him were dismissed onAugust 2, 1995 and July 17, 2000, and
considering the fact that he resigned from office, his administrative case had
become moot and academic.

Respondents contentions utterly lack merit.

No amount of explanation or justification can erase the fact that Judge


Quitain was dismissed from the service and that he deliberately withheld this
information. His insistence that he had no knowledge of A.O. No. 183 is belied by
the newspaper items published relative to his dismissal. It bears emphasis that in
the Mindanao Times dated April 18, 1995,[18] Judge Quitain stated in one of his
interviews that I was dismissed from the (Napolcom) office without due process. It
also reads: Quitain, who was one of the guests in yesterdays Kapehan sa
Dabaw, wept unabashedly as he read his prepared statement on his dismissal
from the government service. Neither can we give credence to the contention that
he was denied due process. The documents submitted by the NAPOLCOM to the
OCA

reveal

that

Commissioner

Alexis

C.

Canonizado,

Chairman Ad

HocCommittee, sent him summons on March 19, 1993 informing him that an
administrative complaint had been filed against him and required him to file an
answer.[19] Then on March 29, 1993, respondent, through his counsel, Atty. Pedro
Castillo, filed an Answer.[20] In administrative proceedings, the essence of due
process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or an opportunity to explain ones side
or opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained
of. Where opportunity to be heard either through oral arguments or through
pleadings is accorded, there is no denial of due process.[21] Furthermore, as we have
earlier mentioned and which Judge Quitain ought to know, cessation from office by
his resignation does not warrant the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed
against him while he was still in the service nor does it render said administrative

case moot and academic.[22] Judge Quitain was removed from office after
investigation and was found guilty of grave misconduct. His dismissal from the
service is a clear proof of his lack of the required qualifications to be a member of
the Bench.

More importantly, it is clear that Judge Quitain deliberately misled the JBC
in his bid to gain an exalted position in the Judiciary. In Office of the Court
Administrator v. Estacion, Jr.,[23] this Court stressed:
x x x The important consideration is that he had a duty to
inform the appointing authority and this Court of the pending
criminal charges against him to enable them to determine on the
basis of his record, eligibility for the position he was seeking. He did
not discharge that duty. His record did not contain the important
information in question because he deliberately withheld and thus
effectively hid it. His lack of candor is as obvious as his reason for the
suppression of such a vital fact, which he knew would have been
taken into account against him if it had been disclosed.

Thus, we find respondent guilty of dishonesty. Dishonesty means disposition


to lie, cheat or defraud; unworthiness; lack of integrity.[24]

Section 8(2), Rule 140[25] of the Rules of Court classifies dishonesty as a


serious charge. Section 11, same Rules, provides the following sanctions:
SEC. 11. Sanctions. A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious
charge, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:
1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part
of the benefits as the Court may determine, and
disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any
public office, including government-owned or controlled

corporations. Provided, however, That the forfeiture of


benefits shall in no case include accrued leave credits;
2. Suspension from office without salary and other
benefits for more than three (3) but not exceeding six (6)
months; or
3. A fine of not less than P20,000.00 but not
exceeding P40,000.00.

In Re: Inquiry on the Appointment of Judge Enrique A. Cube,[26] we held:


By his concealment of his previous dismissal from the public
service, which the Judicial and Bar Council would have taken into
consideration in acting on his application, Judge Cube committed an act
of dishonesty that rendered him unfit to be appointed to, and to remain
now in, the Judiciary he has tarnished with his falsehood.
WHEREFORE, Judge Enrique A. Cube of the Metropolitan Trial
Court of Manila is DISMISSED with prejudice to his reappointment to
any position in the government, including government-owned or
controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement
benefits. This decision is immediately executory.

We cannot overemphasize the need for honesty and integrity on the part of
all those who are in the service of the Judiciary.[27] We have often stressed that the
conduct required of court personnel, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk
of court, must always be beyond reproach and circumscribed with the heavy
burden of responsibility as to let them be free from any suspicion that may taint the
Judiciary. We condemn, and will never countenance any conduct, act or omission
on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice, which would
violate the norm of public accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish
the faith of the people in the Judiciary.[28]

Considering the foregoing, Judge Quitain is hereby found guilty of grave


misconduct. He deserves the supreme penalty of dismissal.

However, on August 9, 2007, the Court received a letter from Judge Quitain
addressed to the Chief Justice stating that he is tendering his irrevocable
resignation effective immediately as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 10, Davao City. Acting on said letter, the Court Resolved to accept the
irrevocable resignation of Judge Jaime V. Quitain effective August 15, 2007,
without prejudice to the decision of the administrative case.[29]

Verily, the resignation of Judge Quitain which was accepted by the Court
without prejudice does not render moot and academic the instant administrative
case. The jurisdiction that the Court had at the time of the filing of the
administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the respondent judge by
his resignation and its consequent acceptance without prejudice by this Court, has
ceased to be in office during the pendency of this case. The Court retains its
authority to pronounce the respondent official innocent or guilty of the charges
against him. A contrary rule would be fraught with injustice and pregnant with
dreadful and dangerous implications.[30] Indeed, if innocent, the respondent official
merits vindication of his name and integrity as he leaves the government which he
has served well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive the corresponding
censure and a penalty proper and imposable under the situation.[31]

WHEREFORE, in view of our finding that JUDGE JAIME V. QUITAIN is


guilty of grave misconduct which would have warranted his dismissal from the
service had he not resigned during the pendency of this case, he is hereby meted
the penalty of a fine of P40,000.00. It appearing that he has yet to apply for his
retirement benefits and other privileges, if any, the Court likewiseORDERS the
FORFEITURE of all benefits, except earned leave credits which Judge Quitain
may be entitled to, and he is PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED from
reinstatement and appointment to any branch, instrumentality or agency of the
government, including government-owned and/or controlled corporations.
This Decision is immediately executory.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Judge Jaime V. Quitains 201 File.

SO ORDERED.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RODOLFO M. BERNARDO,
Complainant,

- versus -

Adm. Case No. 2984


Present:
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,

GARCIA,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ.
Promulgated:
ATTY. ISMAEL F. MEJIA,
August 31, 2007
Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
RESOLUTION
NACHURA, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review of Administrative Case No. 2984 with plea
for reinstatement in the practice of law filed by Ismael F. Mejia (Mejia) who is
already seventy-one years old and barred from the practice of law for fifteen years.

The antecedent facts that led to Mejias disbarment are as follows.


On January 23, 1987, Rodolfo M. Bernardo, Jr. accused his retained attorney,
Ismael F. Mejia, of the following administrative offenses:
1) misappropriating and converting to his personal use:
a) part of the sum of P27,710.00 entrusted to him for
payment of real estate taxes on property belonging to
Bernardo, situated in a subdivision known as Valle Verde I;
and
b) part of another sum of P40,000.00 entrusted to him for
payment of taxes and expenses in connection with the
registration of title of Bernardo to another property in a
subdivision known as Valle Verde V;
2) falsification of certain documents, to wit:
a) a special power of attorney dated March 16, 1985,
purportedly executed in his favor by Bernardo (Annex P,
par. 51, complainants affidavit dates October 4, 1989);
b) a deed of sale dated October 22, 1982 (Annex O, par. 48,
id.); and
c) a deed of assignment purportedly executed by the
spouses Tomas and Remedios Pastor, in Bernardos favor
(Annex Q, par. 52, id.);
3) issuing a check, knowing that he was without funds in the bank, in
payment of a loan obtained from Bernardo in the amount of P50,000.00,
and thereafter, replacing said check with others known also to be
insufficiently funded.[1]

On July 29, 1992, the Supreme Court En Banc rendered a Decision Per Curiam,
the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court DECLARES the [sic] respondent, Atty. Ismael


F. Mejia, guilty of all the charges against him and hereby imposes on
him the penalty of DISBARMENT. Pending finality of this judgment,
and effective immediately, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia is hereby SUSPENDED
from the practice of law. Let a copy of this Decision be spread in his
record in the Bar Confidants Office, and notice thereof furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as well as the Court Administrator who
is DIRECTED to inform all the Courts concerned of this Decision.
SO ORDERED.

On June 1, 1999, Mejia filed a Petition praying that he be allowed to reengage in


the practice of law. On July 6, 1999, the Supreme Court En Banc issued a
Resolution denying the petition for reinstatement.
On January 23, 2007, Mejia filed the present petition for review of Administrative
Case No. 2984 with a plea for reinstatement in the practice of law. No comment or
opposition was filed against the petition.[2]
Whether the applicant shall be reinstated in the Roll of Attorneys rests to a great
extent on the sound discretion of the Court. The action will depend on whether or
not the Court decides that the public interest in the orderly and impartial
administration of justice will continue to be preserved even with the applicants
reentry as a counselor at law. The applicant must, like a candidate for admission to
the bar, satisfy the Court that he is a person of good moral character, a fit and
proper person to practice law. The Court will take into consideration the applicants
character and standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and character of the
charge/s for which he was disbarred, his conduct subsequent to the disbarment, and
the time that has elapsed between the disbarment and the application for
reinstatement.[3]

In the petition, Mejia acknowledged his indiscretions in the law profession. Fifteen
years had already elapsed since Mejias name was dropped from the Roll of
Attorneys. At the age of seventy-one, he is begging for forgiveness and pleading
for reinstatement. According to him, he has long repented and he has suffered
enough. Through his reinstatement, he wants to leave a legacy to his children and
redeem the indignity that they have suffered due to his disbarment.
After his disbarment, he put up the Mejia Law Journal, a publication containing his
religious and social writings. He also organized a religious organization and named
it El Cristo Movement and Crusade on Miracle of Heart and Mind.
The Court is inclined to grant the present petition. Fifteen years has passed since
Mejia was punished with the severe penalty of disbarment. Although the Court
does not lightly take the bases for Mejias disbarment, it also cannot close its eyes
to the fact that Mejia is already of advanced years. While the age of the petitioner
and the length of time during which he has endured the ignominy of disbarment are
not the sole measure in allowing a petition for reinstatement, the Court takes
cognizance of the rehabilitation of Mejia. Since his disbarment in 1992, no other
transgression has been attributed to him, and he has shown remorse. Obviously, he
has learned his lesson from this experience, and his punishment has lasted long
enough. Thus, while the Court is ever mindful of its duty to discipline its erring
officers, it also knows how to show compassion when the penalty imposed has
already served its purpose. After all, penalties, such as disbarment, are imposed not
to punish but to correct offenders.
We reiterate, however, and remind petitioner that the practice of law is a privilege
burdened with conditions. Adherence to the rigid standards of mental fitness,

maintenance of the highest degree of morality and faithful compliance with the
rules of the legal profession are the continuing requirements for enjoying the
privilege to practice law.[4]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for reinstatement in the Roll
of Attorneys by Ismael F. Mejia is hereby GRANTED.
SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ,


Complainant,
-

A.C. No. 6697

versus -

ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA,


Respondent.
x-------------------------x
RE: OATH-TAKING
OF ATTY.
LEONARD
S.
DE
VERA,
INCOMING PRESIDENT OF THE
INTEGRATED
BAR
OF
THEPHILIPPINES

Bar Matter No. 1227

x-------------------------x
IN THE MATTER OF THE
REMOVAL OF ATTY. LEONARD S.
DE VERA FROM THE IBP BOARD
OF GOVERNORS AS EXECUTIVE

A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC


Present:

VICE
PRESIDENT
GOVERNOR

AND

IN THE MATTER OF THE


LETTER-COMPLAINT OF ATTY.
LEONARD
S.
DE
VERA
DATEDMAY
18,
2005 TO
FORTHWITH DENY/DISAPPROVE
THE
IBP
RESOLUTION
UNJUSTLY,
ILLEGALLY,
ARBITRARILY, AND ABRUPTLY
REMOVING HIM FROM THE
BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE
IBP FOR ABSOLUTE LACK OF
BASIS AND FOR FLAGRANT
DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS.

PANGANIBAN, C. J.,
PUNO,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
CALLEJO,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
GARCIA and
VELASCO JJ.
Promulgated:

July 25, 2006


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

DECISION
Per Curiam:

Before Us are three consolidated cases revolving around Integrated Bar of


the Philippines (IBP) Governor and Executive Vice-President (EVP) Atty. Leonard
de Vera. The first pertains to a disbarment case questioning Atty. de Veras moral
fitness to remain as a member of the Philippine Bar, the second refers to Atty. de
Veras letter-request to schedule his oath taking as IBP National President, and the
third case concerns the validity of his removal as Governor and EVP of the IBP by
the IBP Board. The resolution of these cases will determine the national presidency
of the IBP for the term 2005-2007.

A.C. No. 6697

The Office of the Bar Confidant, which this Court tasked to make an
investigation, report and recommendation on subject case, [1] summarized the
antecedents thereof as follows:
In a Complaint dated 11 April 2005, complainant Zoilo Antonio
Velez moved for the suspension and/or disbarment of respondent Atty.
Leonard de Vera based on the following grounds:
1)
2)

respondents
alleged
misrepresentation
in
concealing the suspension order rendered against
him by the State Bar of California; and
respondents alleged violation of the so-called
rotation rule enunciated in Administrative Matter
No. 491 dated 06 October 1989 (in the Matter: 1989
IBP Elections).

Complainant averred that the respondent, in appropriating for his


own benefit funds due his client, was found to have performed an act
constituting moral turpitude by the Hearing Referee Bill Dozier, Hearing
Department San Francisco, State Bar of California in Administrative
Case No. 86-0-18429. Complainant alleged that the respondent was then
forced to resign or surrender his license to practice law in the said state in
order to evade the recommended three (3) year suspension. Complainant
asserted that the respondent lacks the moral competence necessary to lead
the countrys most noble profession.
Complainant, likewise, contended that the respondent violated the
so-called rotation rule provided for in Administrative Matter No. 491
when he transferred to IBP Agusan del Sur Chapter. He claimed that the
respondent failed to meet the requirements outlined in the IBP By-Laws
pertaining to transfer of Chapter Membership. He surmised that the
respondents transfer was intended only for the purpose of becoming the
next IBP National President. Complainant prayed that the respondent be
enjoined from assuming office as IBP National President.

Meanwhile, in his Comment dated 2 May 2005, respondent stated


that the issues raised in above-mentioned Complaint were the very issues
raised in an earlier administrative case filed by the same complainant
against him. In fact, according to him, the said issues were already
extensively discussed and categorically ruled upon by this Court in its
Decision dated 11 December 2005 in Administrative Case No. 6052 (In
Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard De Vera). Respondent prayed
that the instant administrative complaint be dismissed following the
principle of res judicata.
On 15 June 2005, both parties appeared before the Office of the
Bar Confidant for presentation of evidence in support of their respective
allegations.
Subsequently, in a Memorandum dated 20 June 2005, complainant
maintained that there is substantial evidence showing respondents moral
baseness, vileness and depravity, which could be used as a basis for his
disbarment. Complainant stressed that the respondent never denied that
he used his clients money. Complainant argued that the respondent failed
to present evidence that the Supreme Court of California accepted the
latters resignation and even if such was accepted, complainant posited
that this should not absolve the respondent from liability.
Moreover, complainant added that the principle of res
judicata would not apply in the case at bar. He asserted that the first
administrative case filed against the respondent was one for his
disqualification. x x x.

Bar Matter No. 1227


A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC

As earlier adverted to, Bar Matter No. 1227 refers to Atty. de Veras letterrequest to this Court to schedule his oath taking as IBP National President. A.M.
No. 05-5-15-SC, on the other hand, is a letter-report dated 19 May 2005 of IBP
National President Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz (IBP President Cadiz) furnishing this
Court with the IBPs Resolution, dated 13 May 2005, removing Atty. De Vera as

member of the IBP Board and as IBP EVP, for committing acts inimical to the IBP
Board and the IBP in general.[2]
The controversy in Bar Matter No. 1227 and A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC arose from the
regular meeting of the IBP Board of Governors held on 14 January 2005. In said
meeting, by 2/3 vote (6 voting in favor and 2 against), the IBP Board approved the
withdrawal of the Petition filed before this Court docketed as Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs. Senate of the Philippines, et al.
Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of Temporary
Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary Injunction, SC-R165108. The Petition
was intended to question the legality and/or constitutionality of Republic Act No.
9227, authorizing the increase in the salaries of judges and justices, and to increase
filing fees.[3]
The two IBP Governors who opposed the said Resolution approving the
withdrawal of the above-described Petition were herein respondent Governor and
EVP de Vera and Governor Carlos L. Valdez.[4]
On 19 January 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed this Court of the decision taken
by the IBP Board to withdraw the afore-mentioned Petition. Attached to his letter
was a copy of the IBP Boards 14 January 2005 Resolution.[5]
On 15 April 2005, Bar Matter No. 1227, pertaining to Atty. de Veras request for
oathtaking as National President, was filed. The same was subsequently
consolidated with A.C. No. 6697, the disbarment case filed against Atty. de Vera.[6]
On 22 April 2005, a plenary session was held at the 10 th National IBP Convention
at the CAP-Camp John Hay Convention Center, Baguio City. It was at this forum

where Atty. de Vera allegedly made some untruthful statements, innuendos and
blatant lies in connection with the IBP Boards Resolution to withdraw the Petition
questioning the legality of Republic Act No. 9227.[7]
On 10 May 2005, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
enjoining Atty. de Vera from assuming office as IBP National President.[8]
On 12 May 2005, IBP Gov. Romulo A. Rivera wrote IBP National President
Cadiz a letter wherein he prayed for the removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the
IBP Board for having committed acts which were inimical to the IBP Board and the
IBP.[9]
On 13 May 2005, in the 20th Regular Meeting of the Board held at the
Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, the IBP Board, by 2/3 vote, resolved to remove Atty.
de Vera as member of the IBP Board of Governors and as IBP Executive Vice
President.[10] Quoted hereunder is the dispositive portion of said Resolution:
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY
RESOLVED, that Governor Leonard S. de Vera is REMOVED as a
member of the IBP Board of Governors and Executive Vice President for
committing acts inimical to the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP, to
wit:
1. For making untruthful statements, innuendos and
blatant lies in public about the Supreme Court and
members of the IBP Board of Governors, during the
Plenary Session of the IBP 10th National Convention of
Lawyers, held at CAP-Camp John Hay Convention Center
on 22 April 2005, making it appear that the decision of the
IBP Board of Governors to withdraw the PETITION
docketed as Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Jose
Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs. The Senate of the Philippines,
et al., Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition With Prayer
for the Issuance of A Temporary Restraining Order or Writ

of Preliminary Injunction, S.C.-R. 165108, was due to


influence and pressure from the Supreme Court of
the Philippines;
2. For making said untruthful statements,
innuendos and blatant lies that brought the IBP Board of
Governors and the IBP as a whole in public contempt and
disrepute;
3. For violating Canon 11 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility for Lawyers which mandates
that A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to
the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on
similar conduct by others, by making untruthful statements,
innuendos and blatant lies during the Plenary Session of the
IBP 10th National Convention of Lawyers in Baguio City;
4. For instigating and provoking some IBP chapters
to embarrass and humiliate the IBP Board of Governors in
order to coerce and compel the latter to pursue the
aforesaidPETITION;
5. For falsely accusing the IBP National President,
Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, during the Plenary Session of the
10th National Convention in Baguio City of withholding
from him a copy of Supreme Court Resolution, dated 25
January 2005, granting the withdrawal of the PETITION,
thereby creating the wrong impression that the IBP
National President deliberately prevented him from taking
the appropriate remedies with respect thereto, thus
compromising the reputation and integrity of the IBP
National President and the IBP as a whole.[11]

On 18 May 2005, Atty. de Vera aired his sentiments to this Court by writing
the then Hon. Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. a letter captioned as Urgent Plea
to Correct a Glaring Injustice of the IBP Board of Governors; Vehement Protest to
the Board Resolution Abruptly Removing Atty. Leonard de Vera from the Board of
Governors in Patent Violation of Due Process; Petition to Deny/Disapprove the

Completely Unjustified and Highly Arbitrary Resolution Precipitately Ousting


Atty. de Vera from the Board of Governors in Less Than Twenty Four (24) Hours
from Notice and Judgment Without Formal Investigation.[12]
In the said letter, Atty. de Vera strongly and categorically denied having committed
acts inimical to the IBP and its Board. He alleged that on the basis of an unverified
letter-complaint filed by IBP Governor Rivera, the IBP Board voted to expel him
posthaste, without just cause and in complete disregard of even the minimum
standards of due process.Pertinent portions of his letter read:
It is evident that the Board of Governors has committed a grave
and serious injustice against me especially when, as the incumbent
Executive Vice President of the IBP, I am scheduled to assume my
position as National President of the IBP on July 1, 2005. x x x
I was denied the very basic rights of due process recognized by the
Supreme Court even in administrative cases:
1.

The denial of the right


charges formally or in writing.
against me was in writing.

2.

The denial of the right to answer the charges within


a reasonable period of time after receipt of the
complaint.

3.

to answer the
The complaint

The denial of the right to a fair hearing.

4.

The denial of the right to confront the accuser and


the witnesses against me. I challenged Gov. Rivera
to testify under oath so I could question him. He
refused. I offered to testify under oath so I could be
questioned. My request was denied.

5.

The denial of my right to present witnesses on my


behalf.

6.

The denial of my right to an impartial


judge. Governor Rivera was my accuser, prosecutor,
and judge all at the same time.

7.

Gov. Riveras prejudgment of my case becomes


even more evident because when his motion to expel
me was lost in a 5-3 votes (due to his inhibition to
vote), Gov. Rivera asked foranother round of
voting so he can vote to support his own complaint
and motion to expel me.[13] (Emphasis and
underscoring in original.)

On 27 May 2005, the IBP Board responded to the 18 May 2005 letter of
Atty. de Vera.[14] In their Reply, the IBP Board explained to this Court that their
decision to remove Atty. de Vera was based on valid grounds and was intended to
protect itself from a recalcitrant member. Among the grounds cited and elucidated
by the IBP Board were the following:
(i)

Atty. de Vera engaged himself in a negative media campaign and


solicited resolutions from IBP Chapters to condemn the IBP
Board of Governors for its decision to withdraw the PETITION,
all with the end in view of compelling or coercing the IBP Board
of Governors to reconsider the decision to withdraw
the PETITION.

(ii)

Atty. de Vera embarrassed, humiliated and maligned the IBP


Board of Governors and the IBP National President in public or
during the Plenary Session at the 10th National Convention of
Lawyers.

(iii)

Rather than pacify the already agitated solicited speakers (at the
plenary session), Atty. de Vera fanned the fire, so to speak, and
went to the extent of making untruthful statements, innuendos and
blatant lies about the Supreme Court and some members of the
IBP Board of Governors. He deliberately and intentionally did so
to provoke the members of the IBP Board of Governors to engage
him in an acrimonious public debate and expose the IBP Board of
Governors to public ridicule.

(iv)

Atty. de Vera uttered untruthful statements, innuendos and


blatant lies, e.g., that some of the members of the IBP Board of
Governors voted in favor of the withdrawal of the petition
(without mentioning names) because nakakahiya kasi sa Supreme
Court, nakakaawa kasi ang Supreme Court, kasi may mga
kaibigan tayo sa Court. He made it appear that the IBP Board of
Governors approved the resolution, withdrawing the petition, due
to influence or pressure from the Supreme Court. [15]

The IBP Board explained that Atty. de Veras actuation during the Plenary
Session was the last straw that broke the camels back. He committed acts inimical
to the interest of the IBP Board and the IBP; hence, the IBP Board decided to
remove him.
On 3 June 2005, Atty. de Vera furnished the Court with copies of resolutions
and a position paper coming from various IBP Chapters all condemning his
expulsion from the IBP Board and as IBP EVP.[16]
On 15 June 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed Chief Justice Davide that in
a special meeting of the IBP Board held at the EDSA Shangri-la Plaza on 13 June
2005, the IBP Board took note of the vacancy in the position of the IBP EVP
brought about by Atty. de Veras removal. In his stead, IBP Governor Pura Angelica
Y. Santiago was formally elected and declared as IBP EVP.[17]
On 17 June 2005, Atty. de Vera protested against the election of Atty.
Santiago.[18] On 20 June 2005, Atty. Santiago voluntarily relinquished the EVP
position through a letter addressed to the IBP Board.[19] Thus, on 25 June 2005,
during its last regular meeting, the IBP Board elected a new EVP in the person of
IBP Governor Jose Vicente B. Salazar to replace Atty. Santiago.

On 28 June 2005, IBP National President Cadiz, through a letter addressed


to Chief Justice Davide, reported to this Court Atty. Salazars election. [20] IBP
National President Cadiz also requested, among other things, that Atty. Salazars
election be approved and that he be allowed to assume as National President in the
event that Atty. de Vera is disbarred or suspended from the practice of law or
should his removal from the 2003-2005 Board of Governors and as EVP is
approved by this Court.[21] Also on 28 June 2005, Atty. de Vera protested the
election of Atty. Salazar.[22]
In his Extended Comment[23] dated 25 July 2005, Atty. de Vera maintained
that there was absolutely no factual or legal basis to sustain the motion to remove
him from the IBP Board because he violated no law. He argued that if the basis for
his removal as EVP was based on the same grounds as his removal from the IBP
Board, then his removal as EVP was likewise executed without due notice and
without the least compliance with the minimum standards of due process of law.
Atty. de Vera strongly averred that, contrary to the utterly false and
malicious charges filed against him, the speakers at the Plenary Session of the
Baguio Convention, although undeniably impassioned and articulate, were
respectful in their language and exhortations, not once undermining the stature of
the IBP in general and the IBP Board of Governors in particular. He posited that
speaking in disagreement with the Resolution of the Board during the Conventions
Plenary Session is not a valid cause to remove or expel a duly-elected member of
the IBP Board of Governors; and the decision to remove him only shows that the
right to freedom of speech or the right to dissent is not recognized by the
incumbent IBP Board.

Anent the charges that he accused the National President of withholding a


copy of this Courts Resolution granting the withdrawal of the Petition questioning
the legality of Republic Act No. 9227, Atty. de Vera avowed that he made no such
remarks. As regards the election of a new IBP EVP, Atty. de Vera contended that
the said election was illegal as it was contrary to the provisions of the IBP ByLaws concerning national officers, to wit:
Section. 49. Term of office. - The President and the Executive
Vice President shall hold office for a term of two years from July 1
following their election until 30 June of their second year in office and
until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified.
In the event the President is absent or unable to act, his functions
and duties shall be performed by the Executive Vice President, and in the
event of death, resignation, or removal of the President, the Executive
Vice President shall serve as Acting President for the unexpired portion
of the term. In the event of death, resignation, removal or disability of
both the President and the Executive Vice President, the Board of
Governors shall elect an Acting President to hold office for the unexpired
portion of the term or during the period of disability.
Unless otherwise provided in these By-Laws, all other officers
and employees appointed by the President with the consent of the Board
shall hold office at the pleasure of the Board or for such term as the
Board may fix.[24]

To bolster his position, Atty. de Vera stressed that when both the President
and the EVP die, resign, are removed, or are disabled, the IBP By-Laws only
provides for the election of an Acting President and that no mention for an election
for EVP was made. Thus, when such election for EVP occurs, such is contrary to
the express provision of the IBP By-Laws.
Atty. de Vera also argued that even if he were validly removed as IBP EVP,
his replacement should come from Eastern Mindanao and not from any other

region, due to the Rotation Rule embodied in par. 2, Section 47, Article VII of the
IBP By-Laws.
In response to Atty. de Veras averments, the 2003-2005 IBP Board, through
its counsel, submitted a Reply dated 27 January 2006 and clarified as follows:
(i)

The IBP Board of Governors is vested with sufficient power and


authority to protect itself from an intractable member by virtue of
Article VI, Section 44 of the IBP By-Laws;

(ii)

Atty. de Vera was removed as a member of the IBP Board and as


IBP EVP not because of his disagreement with the IBP Boards
position but because of the various acts that he committed which
the IBP Board determined to be inimical to the IBP Board and the
IBP as a whole;

(iii)

Atty. de Vera cannot exculpate himself from liability by invoking


his constitutional right to Free Speech because, as a member of the
Bar, it is his sworn duty to observe and maintain the respect due to
the courts and to judicial officers and to insist on similar conduct
by others;

(iv)

The IBP Board, in effecting the removal of Atty. de Vera,


observed the fundamental principles of due process. As the records
would bear, Atty. de Vera was duly notified of the Regular Meeting
of the IBP Board held on 13 May 2004; was furnished a copy of
Governor Riveras Letter-Complaint the day before the said
meeting; was furnished a copy of the said Meetings Agenda; and
was allowed to personally defend himself and his accuser, Gov.
Rivera;

(v)

Atty. de Vera was validly removed because the required number


of votes under Section 44 of the IBP By-Laws to remove Atty. de
Vera as a member of the IBP Board and as IBP EVP was duly
complied with;

(vi)

Atty. de Veras replacement as IBP EVP need not come from


Eastern Mindanao Region because: (a) the rotation rule under
Article VII, Section 47, par. 2 of the IBP By-Laws had already

been complied with when Atty. de Vera, who hails from Eastern
Mindanao, was elected IBP EVP; and (b) the rotation rule need not
be enforced if the same will not be practicable, possible, feasible,
doable or viable; and, finally, that
(vii)

Atty. Salazar was validly elected as IBP EVP and, thus, should
now be allowed to take his oath as IBP National President. [25]

The Courts Ruling


AC No. 6697
In his Memorandum[26] dated 20 June 2005, complainant tendered the
following issues for the consideration of the Court:
I.
WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT ATTORNEY LEONARD S.
DEVERA (sic) COMMITED MALPRACTICE WHICH AMOUNTED
TO MORAL T[U]RPITUDE IN THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA
AND IN THE PHILIPPINES, IN THE COURSE OF HIS PRACTICE
OF LAW.
II.
WHETHER OR NOT THE OATH OF OFFICE AS LAWYER IS
ATTACHED TO THE PERSON OF ATTORNEY LEONARD S.
DEVERA (sic) WHEREVER HE MAY GO AND NOT NECESSARILY
BOUND BY THE TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION OF THE
PHILIPPINES.
III.
WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE TO
PROVE THE MORAL T[U]RPITUDE, AS BASIS FOR
DISBARMENT OF RESPONDENT IN AN ADMINISTRATIVE
PROCEEDING.

IV.
WHETHER OR NOT RES JUDICATA APPLIES IN THIS CASE, DUE
TO ADMIN. CASE NO. [6052][27]

The disposition of the first three related issues hinges on the resolution of
the fourth issue. Consequently, we will start with the last issue.
A.C. No. 6052 is not a bar to the filing of the
present administrative case.
In disposing of the question of res judicata, the Bar Confidant opined:
To reiterate, the instant case for suspension and/or disbarment
against respondent Leonard De Vera is grounded on the following:
1)
2)

respondents alleged misrepresentation in concealing the


suspension order rendered against him by the State Bar
in California; and
respondents alleged violation of the so-called rotation rule
enunciated in Administrative Matter No. 491 dated 06
October 1989 (In the Matter: 1989 IBP Elections).

It appears that the complainant already raised the said issues in an


earlier administrative case against the respondent. Verily, these issues
were already argued upon by the parties in their respective pleadings, and
discussed and ruled upon by this Court in its Decision dated 11 December
2003 in Administrative Matter No. 6052 (In Re: Petition to Disqualify
Atty. Leonard de Vera).
As such, with respect to the first issue, this Court held that:
As for the administrative complaint filed against him by one
of his clients when he was practicing law in California,
which in turn compelled him to surrender his California
license to practice law, he maintains that it cannot serve as
basis for determining his moral qualification (or lack of it)

to run for the position he is aspiring for. He explains that


there is as yet no final judgment finding him guilty of the
administrative charge, as the records relied upon by the
petitioners are mere preliminary findings of a hearing
referee which are recommendatory findings of an IBP
Commissioner on Bar Discipline which are subject to the
review of and the final decision of the Supreme Court. He
also
stresses
that
the
complainant
in
the California administrative case has retracted the
accusation that he misappropriated the complainants
money, but unfortunately the retraction was not considered
by the investigating officer. xxx
On the administrative complaint that was filed against
respondent De Vera while he was still practicing law in
California, he explained that no final judgment was
rendered by the California Supreme Court finding him
guilty of the charge. He surrendered his license to protest
the discrimination he suffered at the hands of the
investigator and he found it impractical to pursue the case
to the end. We find these explanations satisfactory in the
absence of contrary proof. It is a basic rule on evidence that
he who alleges a fact has the burden to prove the same. In
this case, the petitioners have not shown how the
administrative complaint affects respondent De Vera's
moral fitness to run for governor.
On the other hand, as regards the second issue:
Petitioners contend that respondent de Vera is
disqualified for the post because he is not really
from Eastern Mindanao. His place of residence is in
Paraaque and he was originally a member of the PPLM
IBP Chapter. He only changed his IBP Chapter membership
to pave the way for his ultimate goal of attaining the highest
IBP post, which is the national presidency. Petitioners aver
that in changing his IBP membership, respondent De Vera
violated the domicile rule.
The contention has no merit. Under the last paragraph of
Section 19, Article II, a lawyer included in the Roll of

Attorneys of the Supreme Court can register with the


particular IBP Chapter of his preference or choice, thus:
xxx
It is clearly stated in the aforequoted section of the By-Laws
that it is not automatic that a lawyer will become a member
of the chapter where his place of residence or work is
located. He has the discretion to choose the particular
chapter where he wishes to gain membership. Only when he
does not register his preference that he will become a
member of the Chapter of the place where he resides or
maintains office. The only proscription in registering one's
preference is that a lawyer cannot be a member of more
than one chapter at the same time.
The same is provided in Section 29-2 of the IBP By-Laws. In
fact, under this Section, transfer of IBP membership is
allowed as long as the lawyer complies with the conditions
set forth therein, thus:
xxx
The only condition required under the foregoing rule is that
the transfer must be made not less than three months prior
to the election of officers in the chapter to which the lawyer
wishes to transfer.
In the case at bar, respondent De Vera requested the
transfer of his IBP membership to Agusan del Sur on 1
August 2001. One month thereafter, IBP National Secretary
Jaime M. Vibar wrote a letter addressed to Atty. Amador Z.
Tolentino, Jr., Secretary of IBP PPLM Chapter and Atty.
Lyndon J. Romero, Secretary of IBP Agusan del Sur
Chapter, informing them of respondent de Vera's transfer
and advising them to make the necessary notation in their
respective records. This letter is a substantial compliance
with the certification mentioned in Section 29-2 as
aforequoted. Note that de Vera's transfer was made effective
sometime between 1 August 2001 and 3 September
2001. On 27 February 2003, the elections of the IBP

Chapter Officers were simultaneously held all over the


Philippines, as mandated by Section 29.a of the IBP ByLaws which provides that elections of Chapter Officers and
Directors shall be held on the last Saturday of February of
every other year. Between 3 September 2001 and 27
February 2003, seventeen months had elapsed. This makes
respondent de Vera's transfer valid as it was done more
than three months ahead of the chapter elections held on 27
February 2003.
In the case of Romulo G. Dinsay vs. Atty. Leopoldo D. Cioco
(Administrative Case No. 2995, 27 November 1996), this Court declared
that:
The doctrine of res judicata applies only to judicial or quasijudicial proceedings and not to the exercise of the [Courts]
administrative powers.
In the said case, respondent Clerk of Court Cioco was dismissed from
service for grave misconduct highly prejudicial to the service for
surreptitiously substituting the bid price in a Certificate of Sale
fromP3,263,182.67 to only P730,000.00. Thereafter a complaint for
disbarment was filed against the respondent on the basis of the same
incident. Respondent, interposing res judicata, argued that he may no
longer be charged on the basis of the same incident. This Court held that
while the respondent is in effect being indicted twice for the same
misconduct, this does not amount to double jeopardy as both proceedings
are admittedly administrative in nature. This Court qualified that, in the
first case, the respondent was proceeded against as an erring court
personnel under the Courts supervisory power over courts while, in the
second case, he was disciplined as a lawyer under the Courts plenary
authority over membersof the legal profession.
In subsequent decisions of this Court, however, it appears that res
judicata still applies in administrative cases. Thus, in the case of Atty.
Eduardo C. De Vera vs. Judge William Layague (Administrastive Matter
No. RTJ-93-986), this Court ruled that:
While double jeopardy does not lie in administrative cases,
it would be contrary to equity and substantial justice to

penalize respondent judge a second time for an act which


he had already answered for.
Likewise, in the recent case of Executive Judge Henry B. Basilia
vs. Judge Amado L. Becamon, Lolita Delos Reyes and Eddie Delos Reyes
(Administrative Matter No. MTJ-02-1404, 14 December 2004), this Court
held that:
Applying the principle of res judicata or bar by prior
judgment, the present administrative case becomes
dismissible.
xxx
Under the said doctrine, a matter that has been adjudicated
by a court of competent jurisdiction must be deemed to have
been finally and conclusively settled if it arises in any
subsequent litigation between the same parties and for the
same cause. It provides that
[a] final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of
competent jurisdiction is conclusive as to the rights of the
parties and their privies; and constitutes an absolute bar to
subsequent actions involving the same claim, demand, or
cause of action. Res judicata is based on the ground that the
party to be affected, or some other with whom he is in
privity, has litigated the same matter in the former action in
a court of competent jurisdiction, and should not be
permitted to litigate it again.
This principle frees the parties from undergoing all over
again the rigors of unnecessary suits and repetitious
trials. At the same time, it prevents the clogging of court
dockets.Equally important, res judicata stabilizes rights and
promotes the rule of law.
In the instant administrative case, it is clear that the issues raised
by the complainant had already been resolved by this Court in an earlier
administrative case. The complainants contention that the principle of res
judicata would not apply in the case at bar as the first administrative case
was one for disqualification while the instant administrative complaint is
one for suspension and/or disbarment should be given least credence. It is

worthy to note that while the instant administrative complaint is


denominated as one for suspension and/or disbarment, it prayed neither
the suspension nor the disbarment of the respondent but instead merely
sought to enjoin the respondent from assuming office as IBP National
President.[28]

Contrary to the findings of the Bar Confidant, Adm. Case No.


6052 entitled, In Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard de Vera, on Legal and
Moral Grounds, From Being Elected IBP Governor for Eastern Mindanao in the
May 31 IBP Election and promulgated on 11 December 2003 does not constitute a
bar to the filing of Adm. Case No. 6697. Although the parties in the present
administrative case and in Adm. Case No. 6052 are identical, their capacities in
these cases and the issues presented therein are not the same, thereby barring the
application of res judicata.
In order that the principle of res judicata may be made to apply, four
essential conditions must concur, namely: (1) the judgment sought to bar the new
action must be final; (2) the decision must have been rendered by a court having
jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) the disposition of the case
must be a judgment or order on the merits, and (4) there must be between the first
and second action identity of parties, identity of subject matter, and identity of
causes of action.[29] In the absence of any one of these elements, Atty. de Vera
cannot argue res judicata in his favor.
It is noteworthy that the two administrative cases involve different subject matters
and causes of action. In Adm. Case No. 6052, the subject matter was the
qualification of Atty. de Vera to run as a candidate for the position of IBP Governor
for Eastern Mindanao. In the present administrative complaint, the subject matter is
his privilege to practice law. In the first administrative case, complainants cause of
action was Atty. de Veras alleged violation or circumvention of the IBP By-laws. In

the present administrative case, the primary cause of action is Atty. de Veras
alleged violation of lawyers oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Finally, the two administrative cases do not seek the same relief. In the first case,
the complainants sought to prevent Atty. de Vera from assuming his post as IBP
Governor forEastern Mindanao. In the present case, as clarified by complainant in
his Memorandum, what is being principally sought is Atty. de Veras suspension or
disbarment.
The distinctions between the two cases are far from trivial. The previous case was
resolved on the basis of the parties rights and obligations under the IBP Bylaws. We held therein that Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified from running as
Regional Governor as there is nothing in the present IBP By-laws that sanctions
the disqualification of candidates for IBP governors. Consequently, we stressed
that the petition had no firm ground to stand on. Likewise, we held that the
complainants therein were not the proper parties to bring the suit as the IBP Bylaws prescribes that only nominees - which the complainants were not - can file
with the IBP President a written protest against the candidate. The Courts
statement, therefore, that Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified on the ground that he
was not morally fit was mere obiter dictum. Precisely, the IBP By-laws do not
allow for pre-election disqualification proceedings; hence, Atty. de Vera cannot be
disqualified on the basis of the administrative findings of a hearing officer of the
State Bar of California suspending him from the practice of law for three years. We
held in that case that
There is nothing in the By-Laws which explicitly provides that one
must be morally fit before he can run for IBP governorship. For one, this
is so because the determination of moral fitness of a candidate lies in the
individual judgment of the members of the House of Delegates. Indeed,
based on each member's standard of morality, he is free to nominate and

elect any member, so long as the latter possesses the basic requirements
under the law. For another, basically the disqualification of a candidate
involving lack of moral fitness should emanate from his disbarment or
suspension from the practice of law by this Court, or conviction by final
judgment of an offense which involves moral turpitude. [30]

What this simply means is that absent a final judgment by the Supreme
Court in a proper case declaring otherwise, every lawyer aspiring to hold the
position of IBP Regional Director is presumed morally fit. Any person who begs to
disagree will not be able to find a receptive audience in the IBP through a petition
for disqualification but must first file the necessary disbarment or suspension
proceeding against the lawyer concerned.
And this is precisely what complainant has chosen to do in the instant case. As his
petition is sufficient in form and substance, we have given it due course pursuant to
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. And, considering that this case is not barred by the
prior judgment in Adm. Case No. 6052, the only issue left for consideration is
whether or not Atty. de Vera can be suspended or disbarred under the facts of the
case and the evidence submitted by complainant.
The recommendation of the hearing officer of the
State Bar of California, standing alone, is not
proof of malpractice.

In the case of the Suspension From The Practice of Law In The Territory of
Guam of Atty. Leon G. Maquera,[31] we were confronted with the question of
whether or not a member of the Philippine Bar, who is concomitantly an attorney
in a foreign jurisdiction and who was suspended from the practice of law in said

foreign jurisdiction, can be sanctioned as member of the Philippine Bar for the
same infraction committed in the foreign jurisdiction.
We take the issue in Atty. Maquera one notch higher in the case of Atty. de
Vera who was admitted to the practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction (State Bar of
California, U.S.A.) and against whom charges were filed in connection with his
practice in said jurisdiction. However, unlike the case of Atty. Maquera, no final
judgment for suspension or disbarment was meted against Atty. de Vera despite a
recommendation of suspension of three years as he surrendered his license to
practice law before his case could be taken up by the Supreme Court of California.
In Maquera, we emphasized that the judgment of suspension against a
Filipino lawyer in a foreign jurisdiction does not automatically result in his
suspension or disbarment in the Philippines as the acts giving rise to his suspension
are not grounds for disbarment and suspension in this jurisdiction. Judgment of
suspension against a Filipino lawyer may transmute into a similar judgment of
suspension in the Philippines only if the basis of the foreign courts action includes
any of the grounds for disbarment or suspension in this jurisdiction. We likewise
held that the judgment of the foreign court merely constitutes prima facie evidence
of unethical acts as lawyer.
The Maquera ruling is consistent with Rule 39, Section 48, of the Rules of
Court which provides:
Sec. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. - The effect of a
judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having
jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:
xxxx

(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or


final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and
their successors in interest by a subsequent title.
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by
evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion,
fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.

In Philippine Aluminum Wheels, Inc. v. Fasgi Enterprises, Inc.,[32] we


explained that [a] foreign judgment is presumed to be valid and binding in the
country from which it comes, until a contrary showing, on the basis of a
presumption of regularity of proceedings and the giving of due notice in the
foreign forum.
In herein case, considering that there is technically no foreign judgment to
speak of, the recommendation by the hearing officer of the State Bar of California
does not constitute prima facie evidence of unethical behavior by Atty. de
Vera. Complainant must prove by substantial evidence the facts upon which the
recommendation by the hearing officer was based. If he is successful in this, he
must then prove that these acts are likewise unethical under Philippine law.
There is substantial evidence of malpractice on
the part of Atty. de Vera independent of the
recommendation of suspension by the hearing
officer of the State Bar of California

Section 27 of Rule 138 of our Rules of Court states:


SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme
Court; grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any
deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly

immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving


moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to
take before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience of any
lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as
an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice
of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar
by a competent court or other disciplinary agency in a foreign jurisdiction
where he has also been admitted as an attorney is a ground for his
disbarment or suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the
acts hereinabove enumerated.
The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or
disciplinary agency shall be prima facie evidence of the ground for
disbarment or suspension.[33]

Disciplinary action against a lawyer is intended to protect the court and the
public from the misconduct of officers of the court and to protect the
administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important
function shall be competent, honorable and reliable men in whom courts and
clients may repose confidence.[34] The statutory enunciation of the grounds for
disbarment on suspension is not to be taken as a limitation on the general power of
courts to suspend or disbar a lawyer. The inherent power of the court over its
officers cannot be restricted.[35]
Malpractice ordinarily refers to any malfeasance or dereliction of duty
committed by a lawyer. Section 27 gives a special and technical meaning to the
term Malpractice.[36]That meaning is in consonance with the elementary notion that
the practice of law is a profession, not a business.[37]

Unprofessional conduct in an attorney is that which violates the rules on


ethical code of his profession or which is unbecoming a member of that profession.
[38]

Now, the undisputed facts:


1.

An administrative case against Atty. de Vera was filed before the State Bar
of California, docketed then as Adm. Case No. 86-0-18429. It arose from an
insurance case Atty. de Vera handled involving Julius Willis, III who figured
in an automobile accident in 1986. Atty. de Vera was authorized by the elder
Willis (father of Julius who was given authority by the son to control the
case because the latter was then studying in San Diego California) for the
release of the funds in settlement of the case. Atty. de Vera received a check
in settlement of the case which he then deposited to his personal account;[39]

2.

The Hearing referee in the said administrative case recommended that Atty.
de Vera be suspended from the practice of law for three years;[40] and

3.

Atty. de Vera resigned from the California Bar which resignation was
accepted by the Supreme Court of California.[41]
Atty. de Vera vehemently insists that the foregoing facts do not prove that he

misappropriated his clients funds as the latters father (the elder Willis) gave him
authority to use the same and that, unfortunately, the hearing officer did not
consider this explanation notwithstanding the fact that the elder Willis testified
under oath that he expected de Vera might use the money for a few days.

By insisting that he was authorized by his clients father and attorney-in-fact


to use the funds, Atty. de Vera has impliedly admitted the use of the Willis funds for
his own personal use.
In fact, Atty. de Vera did not deny complainants allegation in the latters
memorandum that he (de Vera) received US$12,000.00 intended for his client and
that he deposited said amount in his personal account and not in a separate trust
account and that, finally, he spent the amount for personal purposes.[42]
At this point, it bears stressing that in cases filed before administrative and
quasi-judicial bodies, a fact may be deemed established if it is supported by
substantial evidence or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion. [43] It means such evidence which
affords a substantial basis from which the fact in issue can be reasonably inferred.
[44]

Beyond doubt, the unauthorized use by a lawyer of his clients funds is highly
unethical. Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is emphatic about
this, thus:
CANON 16. A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS
AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME TO HIS
POSSESSION.
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 of others kept by him.

In Espiritu v. Ulep[45] we held that

The relation between attorney and client is highly fiduciary in


nature. Being such, it requires utmost good faith, loyalty, fidelity and
disinterestedness on the part of the attorney. Its fiduciary nature is
intended for the protection of the client.
The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates every lawyer to
hold in trust all money and properties of his client that may come into his
possession. Accordingly, he shall account for all money or property
collected or received for or from the client. Even more specific is the
Canon of Professional Ethics:
The lawyer should refrain from any action whereby
for his personal benefit or gain he abuses or takes advantage
of the confidence reposed in him by his client.
Money of the client or collected for the client or other
trust property coming into the possession of the lawyer
should be reported and accounted for promptly and should
not underany circumstances be commingled with his own or
be used by him.
Consequently, a lawyer's failure to return upon demand the funds
or property held by him on behalf of his client gives rise to the
presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use to the
prejudice of, and in violation of the trust reposed in him by, his client. It
is a gross violation of general morality as well as of professional ethics; it
impairs the public confidence in the legal profession and deserves
punishment.
Lawyers who misappropriate the funds entrusted to them are in
gross violation of professional ethics and are guilty of betrayal of public
confidence in the legal profession. Those who are guilty of such
infraction may be disbarred or suspended indefinitely from the practice of
law. (Emphases supplied.)

In herein case, as it is admitted by Atty. de Vera himself that he used his


clients money for personal use, he has unwittingly sealed his own fate since this
admission constitutes more than substantial evidence of malpractice. Consequently,

Atty. de Vera now has the burden of rebutting the evidence which he himself
supplied.

In his defense, Atty. de Vera claims that he was duly authorized by the elder Willis
to use the funds intended for the latters son. Atty. de Vera also points out that he
had restituted the full amount of US$12,000.00 even before the filing of the
administrative case against him in the State Bar of California.[46]
Aside from these self-serving statements, however, we cannot find
anywhere in the records of this case proof that indeed Atty. de Vera was duly
authorized to use the funds of his client. In Radjaie v. Atty. Alovera[47] we declared
that
When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough
that he denies the charges against him; he must meet the issue and
overcome the evidence against him. He must show proof that he still
maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is
expected of him.

Atty. de Vera cannot rely on the statement made by the hearing officer that the
elder Willis had indeed testified that he expected de Vera might use the money for
a few days. As Atty. de Vera had vigorously objected to the admissibility of the
document containing this statement, he is now estopped from relying
thereon. Besides, that the elder Willis expected de Vera might use the money for a
few days was not so much an acknowledgment of consent to the use by Atty. de
Vera of his clients funds as it was an acceptance of the probability that Atty. de
Vera might, indeed, use his clients funds, which by itself did not speak well of the
character of Atty. de Vera or the way such character was perceived.

In the instant case, the act of Atty. de Vera in holding on to his clients money
without the latters acquiescence is conduct indicative of lack of integrity and
propriety. It is clear that Atty. de Vera, by depositing the check in his own account
and using the same for his own benefit is guilty of deceit, malpractice, gross
misconduct and unethical behavior. He caused dishonor, not only to himself but to
the noble profession to which he belongs. For, it cannot be denied that the respect
of litigants to the profession is inexorably diminished whenever a member of the
profession betrays their trust and confidence.[48] Respondent violated his oath to
conduct himself with all good fidelity to his client.
Nevertheless, we do not agree with complainants plea to disbar respondent from
the practice of law. The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution.
[49]

Where any lesser penalty can accomplish the end desired, disbarment should

not be decreed.
In Mortera v. Pagatpatan,[50] we imposed upon Atty. Pagatpatan two years
suspension from his practice of law for depositing the funds meant for his client to
his personal account without the latters knowledge. In Reyes v. Maglaya;
[51]

Castillo v. Taguines;[52] Espiritu v. Atty. Cabredo IV,[53] the respondents were

meted one year suspension each for failing to remit to their clients monies in the
amounts of P1,500.00; P500.00, and P51,161.00, respectively, received by them
for their clients without the latters permission.In Dumadag v. Atty. Lumaya,[54] we
indefinitely suspended respondent for failure to remit to his client the amount of
the measly sum of P4,344.00 representing the amount received pursuant to a writ
of execution. Considering the amount involved here US$12,000.00, we believe that
the penalty of suspension for two (2) years is appropriate.

Transferring IBP membership to a chapter where


the lawyer is not a resident of is not a ground for
his suspension or disbarment

Complainant insists that Atty. de Veras transfer of membership from


the Pasay, Paraaque, Las Pias and Muntinlupa (PPLM) Chapter to the Agusan del
Sur IBP Chapter is a circumvention of the rotation rule as it was made for the sole
purpose of becoming IBP National President. Complainant stresses that Atty. de
Vera is not a resident of Agusan del Sur nor does he hold office therein.
In Adm. Case No. 6052, we held that Atty. de Veras act of transferring to
another IBP Chapter is not a ground for his disqualification for the post of IBP
Governor as the same is allowed under Section 19 of the IBP By-Laws with the
qualification only that the transfer be made not less than three months immediately
preceding any chapter election.
As it was perfectly within Atty. de Veras right to transfer his membership, it
cannot be said that he is guilty of unethical conduct or behavior. And while one
may incessantly argue that a legal act may not necessarily be ethical, in herein case,
we do not see anything wrong in transferring to an IBP chapter that -- based on the
rotation rule will produce the next IBP EVP who will automatically succeed to the
National Presidency for the next term. Our Code of Professional Responsibility as
well as the Lawyers Oath do not prohibit nor punish lawyers from aspiring to be
IBP National President and from doing perfectly legal acts in accomplishing such
goal.
Bar Matter No. 1227
Administrative Matter No. 05-5-15-SC

To resolve Bar Matter No. 1227 and Administrative Matter No. 05-5- 15-SC, the
following issues must be addressed:
I.

Whether the IBP Board of Governors acted with grave abuse of


discretion in removing Atty. de Vera as Governor and EVP of the IBP
on 13 May 2005.
i. Whether the IBP Board of Governors complied with
administrative due process in removing Atty. de Vera.
ii. Whether the IBP removed Atty. De Vera for just and valid
cause.

II.

Whether Governor Salazar was validly elected as EVP of the IBP on 25


June 2005, and can consequently assume the Presidency of the IBP for
the term 2005-2007.

The IBP Board observed due process in its


removal of Atty. de Vera as IBP Governor

We start the discussion with the veritable fact that the IBP Board is vested
with the power to remove any of its members pursuant to Section 44, Article VI of
the IBP By-Laws, which states:
Sec. 44. Removal of members. If the Board of Governors should
determine after proper inquiry that any of its members, elective or
otherwise, has for any reason become unable to perform his duties, the
Board, by resolution of the Majority of the remaining members, may
declare his position vacant, subject to the approval of the Supreme
Court.
Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise, may be
removed for cause, including three consecutive absences from Board
meetings without justifiable excuse, by resolution adopted by twothirds of the remaining members of the Board, subject to the
approval of the Supreme Court.

In case of any vacancy in the office of Governor for whatever


cause, the delegates from the region shall by majority vote, elect a
successor from among the members of the Chapter to which the resigned
governor is a member to serve as governor for the unexpired portion of
the term. (Emphasis supplied)

Under the aforementioned section, a member of the IBP Board may be removed for
cause by resolution adopted by two-thirds (2/3) of the remaining members of the
Board, subject to the approval of this Court.
In the main, Atty. de Vera questions his removal from the Board of
Governors on procedural and substantive grounds. He argues that he was denied
very basic rights of due process recognized by the Honorable Court even in
administrative cases like the right to answer formally or in writing and within
reasonable time, the right to present witnesses in his behalf, the right to a fair
hearing. Atty. de Vera protests the fact that he was not able to cross-examine the
complainant, IBP Gov. Romulo H. Rivera (Atty. Rivera) and that Atty. Rivera
voted as well for his expulsion which made him accuser, prosecutor and judge at
the same time. Atty. de Vera emphasized the fact that Atty. Rivera initially
inhibited himself from voting on his own motion. However, when his inhibition
resulted in the defeat of his motion as the necessary 2/3 votes could not be
mustered, Atty. Rivera asked for another round of voting so he could vote to
support his own motion.
The IBP Board counters that since its members were present during the
plenary session, and personally witnessed and heard Atty. de Veras actuations, an
evidentiary or formal hearing was no longer necessary. Since they all witnessed
and heard Atty. de Vera, it was enough that he was given an opportunity to refute
and answer all the charges imputed against him. They emphasized that Atty. de
Vera was given a copy of the complaint and that he was present at the Board
Meeting on 13 May 2005 wherein the letter-complaint against him was part of the

agenda. Therein, he was given the opportunity to be heard and that, in fact, Atty. de
Vera did argue his case.
We are in agreement with the IBP Board.
First, it needs stressing that the constitutional provision on due process safeguards
life, liberty and property.[55] It cannot be said that the position of EVP of the IBP is
property within the constitutional sense especially since there is no right to security
of tenure over said position as, in fact, all that is required to remove any member of
the board of governors for cause is a resolution adopted by 2/3 of the remaining
members of the board.
Secondly, even if the right of due process could be rightfully invoked, still, in
administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is simply the opportunity to
explain ones side.[56] At the outset, it is here emphasized that the term due process
of law as used in the Constitution has no fixed meaning for all purposes due to the
very nature of the doctrine which, asserting a fundamental principle of justice rather
than a specific rule of law, is not susceptible of more than one general statement.
[57]

The phrase is so elusive of exact apprehension,[58] because it depends on

circumstances and varies with the subject matter and the necessities of the situation.
[59]

Due process of law in administrative cases is not identical with judicial process for
a trial in court is not always essential to due process. While a day in court is a
matter of right in judicial proceedings, it is otherwise in administrative proceedings
since they rest upon different principles. The due process clause guarantees no
particular form of procedure and its requirements are not technical. Thus, in certain
proceedings of administrative character, the right to a notice or hearing are not
essential to due process of law. The constitutional requirement of due process is met

by a fair hearing before a regularly established administrative agency or tribunal. It


is not essential that hearings be had before the making of a determination if
thereafter, there is available trial and tribunal before which all objections and
defenses to the making of such determination may be raised and considered. One
adequate hearing is all that due process requires. What is required for hearing may
differ as the functions of the administrative bodies differ.[60]
The right to cross-examine is not an indispensable aspect of due process. [61] Nor is
an actual hearing always essential[62] especially under the factual milieu of this case
where the members of the IBP Board -- upon whose shoulders the determination of
the cause for removal of an IBP governor is placed subject to the approval of the
Supreme Court all witnessed Atty. de Veras actuations in the IBP National
Convention in question.
It is undisputed that Atty. de Vera received a copy of the complaint against him and
that he was present when the matter was taken up. From the transcript of the
stenographic notes of the 13 May 2005 meeting wherein Atty. de Vera was
removed, it is patent that Atty. de Vera was given fair opportunity to defend himself
against the accusations made by Atty. Rivera.
Atty. de Vera, however, additionally questions the fact that Atty. Rivera, who
authored the complaint against him, also voted for his expulsion making him
accuser, prosecutor and judge at the same time. Atty. de Vera likewise laments the
fact that Atty. Rivera initially inhibited himself from voting but when this resulted
in the defeat of his motion for lack of the necessary 2/3 vote, he agreed to another
round of voting and that, this time, he voted in favor of his motion.

For the record, of the nine governors comprising the IBP Board, six voted for
Atty. de Veras expulsion (including Atty. Rivera) while 3 voted against it (including
Atty. de Vera).
Section 44 (second paragraph) of the IBP By-Laws provides:
Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise, may be removed
for cause, including three consecutive absences from Board meetings
without justifiable excuse, by resolution adopted by two-thirds of
the remaining members of the Board, subject to the approval of the
Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied.)

Under the rules, a resolution for expulsion of an IBP Governor is done via a
resolution adopted by 2/3 of the remaining members. The phrase remaining
members refers to the members exclusive of the complainant member and the
respondent member. The reason therefore is that such members are interested
parties and are thus presumed to be unable to resolve said motion impartially. This
being the case, the votes of Attys. Rivera and de Vera should be stricken-off which
means that only the votes of the seven remaining members are to be counted. Of the
seven remaining members, five voted for expulsion while two voted against it
which still adds up to the 2/3 vote requirement for expulsion.
The IBP Board removed Atty. de Vera as IBP
Governor for just and valid cause

All the concerned parties to this case agree that what constitutes cause for
the removal of an IBP Governor has not been defined by Section 44 of the IBP ByLaws albeit it includes three consecutive absences from Board meetings without
justifiable excuse. Thus, the IBP Board argues that it is vested with sufficient

power and authority to protect itself from an intractable member whose removal
was caused not by his disagreement with the IBP Board but due to various acts
committed by him which the IBP Board considered as inimical to the IBP Board in
particular and the IBP in general.
Atty. de Vera, on the other hand, insists that speaking in disagreement with
the Resolution of the Board during the Conventions Plenary Session is not a valid
cause to remove or expel a duly-elected member of the IBP Board of Governors
and the decision to remove him only shows that the right to freedom of speech or
the right to dissent is not recognized by the IBP Board.
After weighing the arguments of the parties and in keeping with the
fundamental objective of the IBP to discharge its public responsibility more
effectively, we hereby find that Atty. de Veras removal from the IBP Board was not
capricious or arbitrary.
Indubitably, conflicts and disagreements of varying degrees of intensity, if
not animosity, are inherent in the internal life of an organization, but especially of
the IBP since lawyers are said to disagree before they agree.
However, the effectiveness of the IBP, like any other organization, is diluted if the
conflicts are brought outside its governing body for then there would be the
impression that the IBP, which speaks through the Board of Governors, does not
and cannot speak for its members in an authoritative fashion. It would accordingly
diminish the IBPs prestige and repute with the lawyers as well as with the general
public.

As a means of self-preservation, internecine conflicts must thus be adjusted within


the governing board itself so as to free it from the stresses that invariably arise
when internal cleavages are made public.
The doctrine of majority rule is almost universally used as a mechanism for
adjusting and resolving conflicts and disagreements within the group after the
members have been given an opportunity to be heard. While it does not efface
conflicts, nonetheless, once a decision on a contentious matter is reached by a
majority vote, the dissenting minority is bound thereby so that the board can speak
with one voice, for those elected to the governing board are deemed to implicitly
contract that the will of the majority shall govern in matters within the authority of
the board.[63]
The IBP Board, therefore, was well within its right in removing Atty. de Vera as the
latters actuations during the 10th National IBP Convention were detrimental to the
role of the IBP Board as the governing body of the IBP. When the IBP Board is not
seen by the bar and the public as a cohesive unit, it cannot effectively perform its
duty of helping the Supreme Court enforce the code of legal ethics and the
standards of legal practice as well as improve the administration of justice.
In view of the importance of retaining group cohesiveness and unity, the expulsion
of a member of the board who insists on bringing to the public his disagreement
with a policy/resolution approved by the majority after due discussion, cannot be
faulted. The effectiveness of the board as a governing body will be negated if its
pronouncements are resisted in public by a board member.
Indeed, when a member of a governing body cannot accept the voice of the
majority, he should resign therefrom so that he could criticize in public the

majority opinion/decision to his hearts content; otherwise, he subjects himself to


disciplinary action by the body.
The removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the
Board of Governors ipso facto meant his removal
as EVP as well

The removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the Board of Governors ipso


facto meant his removal as EVP as well. Section 47, Article VII of the By-Laws of
the IBP provides:
SEC. 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of
the Philippines shall have a President and Executive Vice
President to be chosen by the Board of Governors from
among nine (9) regional governors, as much as
practicable, on a rotation basis. x x x

Thus, to be EVP of the IBP, one must necessarily be a member of IBP Board of
Governors. Atty. de Veras removal from the Board of Governors, automatically
disqualified him from acting as IBP EVP. To insist otherwise would be contrary to
Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.
The Court will not interfere with the Resolution
of the IBP Board to remove Atty. de Vera since it
was rendered without grave abuse of discretion

While it is true that the Supreme Court has been granted an extensive power of
supervision over the IBP,[64] it is axiomatic that such power should be exercised
prudently. The power of supervision of the Supreme Court over the IBP should not
preclude the IBP from exercising its reasonable discretion especially in the
administration of its internal affairs governed by the provisions of its By-

Laws. The IBP By-Laws were precisely drafted and promulgated so as to define
the powers and functions of the IBP and its officers, establish its organizational
structure, and govern relations and transactions among its officers and
members. With these By-Laws in place, the Supreme Court could be assured that
the IBP shall be able to carry on its day-to-day affairs, without the Courts
interference.
It should be noted that the general charge of the affairs and activities of the IBP has
been vested in the Board of Governors. The members of the Board are elective and
representative of each of the nine regions of the IBP as delineated in its By-Laws.
[65]

The Board acts as a collegiate body and decides in accordance with the will of

the majority.The foregoing rules serve to negate the possibility of the IBP Board
acting on the basis of personal interest or malice of its individual members. Hence,
the actions and resolutions of the IBP Board deserve to be accorded the disputable
presumption[66] of validity, which shall continue, until and unless it is overcome by
substantial evidence and actually declared invalid by the Supreme Court. In the
absence of any allegation and substantial proof that the IBP Board has acted
without or in excess of its authority or with grave abuse of discretion, we shall not
be persuaded to overturn and set aside the Boards action or resolution.
There is no question that the IBP Board has the authority to remove its members as
provided in Article VI, Section 44[67] of the IBP By-Laws. Issue arises only as to
whether the IBP Board abused its authority and discretion in resolving to remove
Atty. de Vera from his post as an IBP Governor and EVP. As has been previously
established herein, Atty. de Veras removal from the IBP Board was in accordance
with due process and the IBP Board acted well within the authority and discretion
granted to it by its By-Laws. There being no grave abuse of discretion on the part
of the IBP Board, we find no reason to interfere in the Boards resolution to remove
Atty. de Vera.
The election of Atty. Salazar by the IBP Board as
IBP EVP in replacement of Atty. De Vera was

conducted in accordance with the authority


granted to the Board by the IBP By-Laws

In the same manner, we find no reason to disturb the action taken by the
2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors in holding a special election to fill-in the
vacant post resulting from the removal of Atty. de Vera as EVP of the IBP since the
same is a purely internal matter, done without grave abuse of discretion, and
implemented without violating the Rules and By-Laws of the IBP.
With the removal of Atty. de Vera from the Board, by virtue of the IBP
Board Resolution dated 13 May 2005, he was also removed from his post as EVP;
thus, there was a resultant vacancy in the position of IBP EVP.
Article VI, Section 41(g) of the IBP By-Laws expressly grants to the Board the
authority to fill vacancies, however arising, in the IBP positions, subject to the
provisions of Section 8 of the Integration Rule, [68] and Section 11 (Vacancies),
[69]

Section 44 (Removal of members),[70] Section 47 (National officers),[71] Section

48 (other officers),[72] and Section 49 (Terms of Office) [73] of the By-Laws. The IBP
Board has specific and sufficient guidelines in its Rules and By-Laws on how to
fill-in the vacancies after the removal of Atty. de Vera. We have faith and
confidence in the intellectual, emotional and ethical competencies of the remaining
members of the 2005-2007 Board in dealing with the situation within the bounds of
the IBP Rules and By-Laws.
The election by the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors of a new EVP, who
will assume the Presidency for the term 2005-2007, was well within the authority
and prerogative granted to the Board by the IBP By-Laws, particularly Article VII,
Section 47, which provides that [t]he EVP shall automatically become President

for the next succeeding term.The phrase for the next succeeding term necessarily
implies that the EVP that should succeed Atty. Cadiz as IBP President for the next
succeeding term (i.e., 2005-2007) should come from the members of the 20032005 IBP Board of Governors. Hence, in A.M. No. 05-7-19-SC, we restrained now
IBP EVP Feliciano Bautista from assuming the position of Acting President
because we have yet to resolve the question as to who shall succeed Atty. Cadiz
from the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors.
Accordingly, the elections of Governor Santiago on 13 June 2005 as IBP
EVP, and thereafter, Governor Salazar on 25 June 2005, as the new IBP EVP, upon
the relinquishment of Gov. Santiago of the position, were valid.
Neither can this Court give credence to the argument of Atty. De Vera that,
assuming his removal as IBP Governor and EVP was valid, his replacement as IBP
EVP should come from Eastern Mindanao Region pursuant to the rotation rule set
forth in Article VII, Section 47, of the IBP By-Laws.
According to Article VII, Section 47, of the IBP By-Laws, the EVP shall be
chosen by the Board of Governors from among the nine Regional Governors, as
much as practicable, on a rotation basis. This is based on our pronouncements in
Bar Matter 491, wherein we ruled:
ORDER
xxxx
3. The former system of having the IBP President and Executive VicePresident elected by the Board of Governors (composed of the
governors of the nine [9] IBP regions) from among themselves (as
provided in Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be

restored. The right of automatic succession by the Executive VicePresident to the presidency upon the expiration of their two-year term
(which was abolished by this Court's resolution dated July 9, 1985 in
Bar Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby restored.
4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive VicePresident shall automatically succeed to the office of president. The
incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive VicePresident from among themselves. The position of Executive VicePresident shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions .One who
has served as president may not run for election as Executive VicePresident in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the
presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been completed;
whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.
xxxx
(Emphasis Supplied)
In Bar Matter 491, it is clear that it is the position of IBP EVP which is
actually rotated among the nine Regional Governors. The rotation with respect to
the Presidency is merely a result of the automatic succession rule of the IBP EVP
to the Presidency. Thus, the rotation rule pertains in particular to the position of
IBP EVP, while the automatic succession rule pertains to the Presidency. The
rotation with respect to the Presidency is but a consequence of the automatic
succession rule provided in Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.
In the case at bar, the rotation rule was duly complied with since upon the
election of Atty. De Vera as IBP EVP, each of the nine IBP regions had already
produced an EVP and, thus, the rotation was completed. It is only unfortunate that
the supervening event of Atty. de Veras removal as IBP Governor and EVP
rendered it impossible for him to assume the IBP Presidency. The fact remains,

however, that the rotation rule had been completed despite the non-assumption by
Atty. de Vera to the IBP Presidency.
Moreover, the application of the rotation rule is not a license to disregard the
spirit and purpose of the automatic succession rule, but should be applied in
harmony with the latter. The automatic succession rule affords the IBP leadership
transition seamless and enables the new IBP National President to attend to
pressing and urgent matters without having to expend valuable time for the usual
adjustment and leadership consolidation period. The time that an IBP EVP spends
assisting a sitting IBP President on matters national in scope is in fact a valuable
and indispensable preparation for the eventual succession. It should also be pointed
out that this wisdom is further underscored by the fact that an IBP EVP is elected
from among the members of the IBP Board of Governors, who are serving in a
national capacity, and not from the members at large. It is intrinsic in the IBP ByLaws that one who is to assume the highest position in the IBP must have been
exposed to the demands and responsibilities of national leadership.
It would therefore be consistent with the purpose and spirit of the automatic
succession rule for Governor Salazar to assume the post of IBP President. By
electing the replacement EVP from among the members of the 2003-2005 Board of
Governors, the IBP benefits from the experience of the IBP EVP of 2003-2005 in
this case, Governor Salazar who would have served in a national capacity prior to
his assumption of the highest position.
It will also be inconsistent with the purpose and spirit of the automatic
succession rule if the EVP for the term 2003-2005 will be elected exclusively by

the members of the House of Delegates of the Eastern Mindanao region. This
Court notes that the removal of Atty. De Vera in 13 May 2005 was about a month
before the expiration of the term of office of the 2003-2005 Board of
Governors. Hence, the replacement Governor would not have been able to serve in
a national capacity for two years prior to assuming the IBP Presidency.

In any case, Section 47 of the IBP Rules uses the phrase as much as
practicable to clearly indicate that the rotation rule is not a rigid and inflexible rule
as to bar exceptions in compelling and exceptional circumstances.

It is in view of the foregoing that the argument advanced by Atty. De Vera


that the IBP national presidency should be assumed by a nominee from Eastern
Mindanao region from where he comes, can not hold water. It would go against the
intent of the IBP By-Laws for such a nominee would be bereft of the wealth of
experience and the perspective that only one who is honed in service while serving
in a national post in the IBP would have.
We therefore rule that the IBP Board of Governors acted in accordance with
the IBP By-Laws, in electing Atty. Salazar as IBP EVP and in ensuring a
succession in the leadership of the IBP. Had the Board of Governors not done so,
there would have been no one qualified to assume the Presidency of the IBP on 1
July 2005, pursuant to Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we rule as follows:
1)

SUSPEND Atty. Leonard de Vera in A.C. No. 6697 from the


practice of law for TWO (2) YEARS, effective from the finality

of this Resolution. Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to


the personal record of Atty. Leonard de Vera and copies
furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of
the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts;
2)

DISMISS the letter-complaint of Atty. Leonard de Vera, dated


18 May 2005, in A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC, praying for the
disapproval of the Resolution, dated 13 May 2005, of the Board
of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines removing
him from his posts as Governor and Executive Vice President of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the said Resolution having
been rendered without grave abuse of discretion;

3)

AFFIRM the election by the Board of Governors of Atty. Jose


Vicente B. Salazar as Executive Vice President of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines for the remainder of the term 2003-2005,
such having been conducted in accordance with its By-Laws
and absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion; and

4)

DIRECT Atty. Jose Vicente B. Salazar to immediately take his


oath of office and assume the Presidency of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines for the term 2005-2007 in accordance with
the automatic succession rule in Article VII, Section 47 of the
IBP By-Laws, upon receipt of this Resolution.

SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

FERDINAND A. CRUZ,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 154207


Present:

- versus -

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR.,

ALBERTO MINA,
HON. ELEUTERIO F
GUERRERO and HON.
ZENAIDA LAGUILLES,
Respondents.
x----------------------

CHICO-NAZARIO, and
NACHURA, JJ.
Promulgated:
April 27, 2007
------------------x

DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court, grounded on pure questions of law, with Prayer for
Preliminary Injunction assailing the Resolution dated May 3, 2002
promulgated by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 116, Pasay
City, in Civil Case No. 02-0137, which denied the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction against the Metropolitan Trial Court ( MeTC),
Branch 45, Pasay City, in Criminal Case No. 00-1705; [ 1 ] and the RTCs
Order dated June 5, 2002 denying the Motion for Reconsideration. No
writ of preliminary injunction was issued by this Court .
The antecedents:
On September 25, 2000, Ferdinand A. Cruz (petitioner) filed before
the MeTC a formal Entry of Appearance, as private prosecutor, in
Criminal Case No. 00-1705 for Grave Threats, where his father,
Mariano Cruz, is the complaining witness.

The petitioner, describing himself as a third year law student, justifies


his appearance as private prosecutor on the bases of Section 34 of
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and the ruling of the Court En
Banc in Cantimbuhan v. Judge Cruz, Jr. [ 2 ] that a non-lawyer may
appear before the inferior courts as an agent or friend of a party
litigant. The petitioner furthermore avers that his appearance was with
the prior conformity of the public prosecutor and a written authority of
Mariano Cruz appointing him to be his agent in the prosecution of the
said criminal case.
However, in an Order dated February 1, 2002, the MeTC denied
permission for petitioner to appear as private prosecutor on the ground
that Circular No. 19 governing limited law student practice in
conjunction with Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court (Law Student
Practice Rule) should take precedence over the ruling of the Court laid
down in Cantimbuhan; and set the case for continuation of trial. [ 3 ]
On February 13, 2002, petitioner filed before the MeTC a Motion
for Reconsideration seeking to reverse the February 1, 2002 Order
alleging that Rule 138-A, or the Law Student Practice Rule, does not
have the effect of superseding Section 34 of Rule 138, for the
authority to interpret the rule is the source itself of the rule, which is
the Supreme Court alone.
In an Order dated March 4, 2002, the MeTC denied the Motion for
Reconsideration.
On April 2, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Petition
for Certiorari and Mandamus with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction

and Temporary Restraining Order against the private respondent and


the public respondent MeTC.
After hearing the prayer for preliminary injunction to restrain
public respondent MeTC Judge from proceeding with Criminal Case
No. 00-1705 pending the Certiorari proceedings, the RTC, in a
Resolution dated May 3, 2002, resolved to deny the issuance of an
injunctive writ on the ground that the crime of Grave Threats, the
subject

of

Criminal

Case

No.

00-1705,

is

one

that

can

be

prosecuted de oficio, there being no claim for civil indemnity, and that
therefore, the intervention of a private prosecutor is not legally
tenable.
On May 9, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Motion for
Reconsideration. The petitioner argues that nowhere does the law
provide that the crime of Grave Threats has no civil aspect. And last,
petitioner cites Bar Matter No. 730 dated June 10, 1997 which
expressly provides for the appearance of a non-lawyer before the
inferior courts, as an agent or friend of a party litigant, even without
the supervision of a member of the bar.
Pending the resolution of the foregoing Motion for Reconsideration
before

the

RTC,

the

petitioner

filed

Second

Motion

for

Reconsideration dated June 7, 2002 with the MeTC seeking the


reversal of the March 4, 2002 Denial Order of the said court, on the
strength of Bar Matter No. 730, and a Motion to Hold In Abeyance the
Trial dated June 10, 2002 of Criminal Case No. 00-1705 pending the
outcome of the certiorari proceedings before the RTC.

On June 5, 2002, the RTC issued its Order denying the petitioners
Motion for Reconsideration.
Likewise, in an Order dated June 13, 2002, the MeTC denied the
petitioners Second Motion for Reconsideration and his Motion to Hold
in Abeyance the Trial on the ground that the RTC had already denied
the Entry of Appearance of petitioner before the MeTC.
On July 30, 2002, the petitioner directly filed with this Court, the
instant Petition and assigns the following errors:
I.
THE RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT ABUSED
ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT RESOLVED TO DENY THE
PRAYER FOR THE WRIT OF INJUNCTION OF THE
HEREIN PETITIONER DESPITE PETITIONER HAVING
ESTABLISHED THE NECESSITY OF GRANTING THE
WRIT;

II.
THE RESPONDENT TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS
DISCRETION, TANTAMOUNT TO IGNORANCE OF THE
LAW, WHEN IT RESOLVED TO DENY THE PRAYER FOR
THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND THE
SUBSEQUENT MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF
THE HEREIN PETITIONER ON THE BASIS THAT [GRAVE]
THREATS HAS NO CIVIL ASPECT, FOR THE SAID BASIS
OF DENIAL IS NOT IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW;
III.

THE RESPONDENT METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT ABUSED


ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT DENIED THE MOTION TO
HOLD IN ABEYANCE TRIAL, WHEN WHAT WAS DENIED
BY THE RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IS THE
ISSUANCE
OF
THE
WRIT
OF
PRELIMINARY
INJUNCTION AND WHEN THE RESPONDENT REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT IS YET TO DECIDE ON THE MERITS OF
THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI;
IV.
THE RESPONDENT COURT[S] ARE CLEARLY IGNORING THE
LAW WHEN THEY PATENTLY REFUSED TO HEED
TO [sic] THE CLEAR MANDATE OF THE LAPUT,
CANTIMBUHAN AND BULACAN CASES, AS WELL AS
BAR MATTER NO. 730, PROVIDING FOR THE
APPEARANCE OF NON-LAWYERS BEFORE THE LOWER
COURTS (MTCS). [ 4 ]

This Court, in exceptional cases, and for compelling reasons, or if


warranted by the nature of the issues reviewed, may take cognizance
of petitions filed directly before it. [ 5 ]
Considering that this case involves the interpretation, clarification,
and implementation of Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, Bar
Matter No. 730, Circular No. 19 governing law student practice and
Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, and the ruling of the Court
in Cantimbuhan, the Court takes cognizance of herein petition.
The basic question is whether the petitioner, a law student, may appear
before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a party litigant.
The courts a quo held that the Law Student Practice Rule as
encapsulated in Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, prohibits the

petitioner, as a law student, from entering his appearance in behalf of


his father, the private complainant in the criminal case without the
supervision of an attorney duly accredited by the law school.
Rule 138-A or the Law Student Practice Rule, provides:
RULE 138-A
LAW STUDENT PRACTICE RULE
Section 1. Conditions for Student Practice. A law
student who has successfully completed his 3rd year of the
regular four-year prescribed law curriculum and is enrolled in
a recognized law school's clinical legal education program
approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without
compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case
before any trial court, tribunal, board or officer, to represent
indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law school.
Sec. 2. Appearance. The appearance of the law student
authorized by this rule, shall be under the direct supervision
and control of a member of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines duly accredited by the law school. Any and all
pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be
filed, must be signed by the supervising attorney for and in
behalf of the legal clinic.

However, in Resolution [ 6 ] dated June 10, 1997 in Bar Matter No. 730,
the Court En Banc clarified:
The rule, however, is different if the law student
appears before an inferior court, where the issues and
procedure are relatively simple. In inferior courts, a law
student may appear in his personal capacity without the
supervision of a lawyer. Section 34, Rule 138 provides:

Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. - In the


court of a justice of the peace , a part y ma y conduct his
litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend
appointed b y hi m for that purpose, or with the aid of an
attorne y. In an y other court, a part y ma y conduct his
litigation personall y or b y aid of an attorne y, and his
appearance must be either personal or b y a dul y authorized
me mber of the bar.

Thus, a law student may appear before an inferior


court as an agent or friend of a party without the
supervision of a member of the bar. [ 7 ] (Emphasis supplied)

The phrase In the court of a justice of the peace in Bar Matter


No. 730 is subsequently changed to In the court of a municipality as it
now appears in Section 34 of Rule 138, thus: [ 8 ]
SEC. 34. By whom litigation is conducted . In the Court
of a municipality a party may conduct his litigation in
person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him
for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other
court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid
of an attorney and his appearance must be either personal or
by a duly authorized member of the bar. (Emphasis supplied)

which is the prevailing rule at the time the petitioner filed his Entry of
Appearance with the MeTC on September 25, 2000. No real distinction
exists for under Section 6, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court, the term
"Municipal Trial Courts" as used in these Rules shall include
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal
Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.
There is really no problem as to the application of Section 34 of
Rule 138 and Rule 138-A. In the former, the appearance of a nonlawyer, as an agent or friend of a party litigant, is expressly allowed,
while the latter rule provides for conditions when a law student, not as
an agent or a friend of a party litigant, may appear before the courts.

Petitioner expressly anchored his appearance on Section 34 of Rule


138. The court a quo must have been confused by the fact that
petitioner referred to himself as a law student in his entry of
appearance. Rule 138-A should not have been used by the courts a
quo in denying permission to act as private prosecutor against
petitioner for the simple reason that Rule 138-A is not the basis for the
petitioners appearance.
Section 34, Rule 138 is clear that appearance before the inferior courts
by a non-lawyer is allowed, irrespective of whether or not he is a law
student. As succinctly clarified in Bar Matter No. 730, by virtue of
Section 34, Rule 138, a law student may appear, as an agent or a friend
of a party litigant, without the supervision of a lawyer before inferior
courts.
P etitioner further argues that the RTC erroneously held that, by its

very nature, no civil liability may flow from the crime of Grave
Threats, and, for this reason, the intervention of a private prosecutor is
not possible.
It is clear from the RTC Decision that no such conclusion had
been intended by the RTC. In denying the issuance of the injunctive
court, the RTC stated in its Decision that there was no claim for civil
liability by the private complainant for damages, and that the records
of the case do not provide for a claim for indemnity; and that
therefore, petitioners appearance as private prosecutor appears to be
legally untenable.

Under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, every person criminally
liable for a felony is also civilly liable except in instances when no
actual damage results from an offense, such as espionage, violation of
neutrality, flight to an enemy country, and crime against popular
representation. [ 9 ] The basic rule applies in the instant case, such that
when a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of
civil liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed
instituted with criminal action, unless the offended party waives the
civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the
civil action prior to the criminal action. [ 1 0 ]
The petitioner is correct in stating that there being no reservation,
waiver, nor prior institution of the civil aspect in Criminal Case No.
00-1705, it follows that the civil aspect arising from Grave Threats is
deemed instituted with the criminal action, and, hence, the private
prosecutor may rightfully intervene to prosecute the civil aspect.
WHEREFORE, the
Resolution

and

Order

Petition
of

the

is GRANTED.
Regional

116, Pasay City areREVERSED and SET


Trial

Court,

Branch

45, Pasay City

Trial

The

assailed

Court,

Branch

ASIDE. The

Metropolitan

is DIRECTED to ADMIT the

Entry of Appearance of petitioner in Criminal Case No. 00-1705 as a


private prosecutor under the direct control and supervision of the
public prosecutor.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
A.M. No. 1928 August 3, 1978
In the Matter of the IBP Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty. MARCIAL A.
EDILION (IBP Administrative Case No. MDD-1)
RESOLUTION

CASTRO, C.J.:
The respondent Marcial A. Edillon is a duly licensed practicing attorney in the
Philippines.
On November 29, 1975, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP for short)
Board of Governors unanimously adopted Resolution No. 75-65 in Administrative
Case No. MDD-1 (In the Matter of the Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty.
Marcial A. Edillon) recommending to the Court the removal of the name of the
respondent from its Roll of Attorneys for "stubborn refusal to pay his membership
dues" to the IBP since the latter's constitution notwithstanding due notice.
On January 21, 1976, the IBP, through its then President Liliano B. Neri,
submitted the said resolution to the Court for consideration and approval,
pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 24, Article III of the By-Laws of the IBP, which
reads:
.... Should the delinquency further continue until the following June
29, the Board shall promptly inquire into the cause or causes of the
continued delinquency and take whatever action it shall deem
appropriate, including a recommendation to the Supreme Court for
the removal of the delinquent member's name from the Roll of
Attorneys. Notice of the action taken shall be sent by registered mail
to the member and to the Secretary of the Chapter concerned.

On January 27, 1976, the Court required the respondent to comment on the
resolution and letter adverted to above; he submitted his comment on February
23, 1976, reiterating his refusal to pay the membership fees due from him.
On March 2, 1976, the Court required the IBP President and the IBP Board of
Governors to reply to Edillon's comment: on March 24, 1976, they submitted a
joint reply.
Thereafter, the case was set for hearing on June 3, 1976. After the hearing, the
parties were required to submit memoranda in amplification of their oral
arguments. The matter was thenceforth submitted for resolution.
At the threshold, a painstaking scrutiny of the respondent's pleadings would show
that the propriety and necessity of the integration of the Bar of the Philippines are
in essence conceded. The respondent, however, objects to particular features of
Rule of Court 139-A (hereinafter referred to as the Court Rule) 1 in accordance with
which the Bar of the Philippines was integrated and to the provisions of par. 2, Section 24, Article III, of
the IBP By-Laws (hereinabove cited).

The authority of the IBP Board of Governors to recommend to the Supreme


Court the removal of a delinquent member's name from the Roll of Attorneys is
found in par. 2 Section 24, Article Ill of the IBP By-Laws (supra), whereas the
authority of the Court to issue the order applied for is found in Section 10 of the
Court Rule, which reads:
SEC. 10. Effect of non-payment of dues. Subject to the provisions
of Section 12 of this Rule, default in the payment of annual dues for
six months shall warrant suspension of membership in the
Integrated Bar, and default in such payment for one year shall be a
ground for the removal of the name of the delinquent member from
the Roll of Attorneys.
The all-encompassing, all-inclusive scope of membership in the IBP is stated in
these words of the Court Rule:
SECTION 1. Organization. There is hereby organized an official
national body to be known as the 'Integrated Bar of the Philippines,'
composed of all persons whose names now appear or may hereafter
be included in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court.

The obligation to pay membership dues is couched in the following words of the
Court Rule:
SEC. 9. Membership dues. Every member of the Integrated Bar
shall pay such annual dues as the Board of Governors shall
determine with the approval of the Supreme Court. ...
The core of the respondent's arguments is that the above provisions constitute
an invasion of his constitutional rights in the sense that he is being compelled, as
a pre-condition to maintaining his status as a lawyer in good standing, to be a
member of the IBP and to pay the corresponding dues, and that as a
consequence of this compelled financial support of the said organization to which
he is admittedly personally antagonistic, he is being deprived of the rights to
liberty and property guaranteed to him by the Constitution. Hence, the
respondent concludes, the above provisions of the Court Rule and of the IBP ByLaws are void and of no legal force and effect.
The respondent similarly questions the jurisdiction of the Court to strike his name
from the Roll of Attorneys, contending that the said matter is not among the
justiciable cases triable by the Court but is rather of an "administrative nature
pertaining to an administrative body."
The case at bar is not the first one that has reached the Court relating to
constitutional issues that inevitably and inextricably come up to the surface
whenever attempts are made to regulate the practice of law, define the conditions
of such practice, or revoke the license granted for the exercise of the legal
profession.
The matters here complained of are the very same issues raised in a previous
case before the Court, entitled "Administrative Case No. 526, In the Matter of the
Petition for the Integration of the Bar of the Philippines, Roman Ozaeta, et al.,
Petitioners." The Court exhaustively considered all these matters in that case in
its Resolution ordaining the integration of the Bar of the Philippines, promulgated
on January 9, 1973. The Court there made the unanimous pronouncement that it
was
... 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'. ...
Be that as it may, we now restate briefly the posture of the Court.
An "Integrated Bar" is a State-organized Bar, to which every lawyer must belong,
as distinguished from bar associations organized by individual lawyers
themselves, membership in which is voluntary. Integration of the Bar is
essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is afforded an
opportunity to do his share in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as well as
obliged to bear his portion of its responsibilities. Organized by or under the
direction of the State, an integrated Bar is an official national body of which all
lawyers are required to be members. They are, therefore, subject to all the rules
prescribed for the governance of the Bar, including the requirement of payment of
a reasonable annual fee for the effective discharge of the purposes of the Bar,
and adherence to a code of professional ethics or professional responsibility
breach of which constitutes sufficient reason for investigation by the Bar and,
upon proper cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline or disbarment of
the offending member. 2
The integration of the Philippine Bar was obviously dictated by overriding
considerations of public interest and public welfare to such an extent as more
than constitutionally and legally justifies the restrictions that integration imposes
upon the personal interests and personal convenience of individual lawyers. 3
Apropos to the above, it must be stressed that all legislation directing the
integration of the Bar have been uniformly and universally sustained as a valid
exercise of the police power over an important profession. The practice of law is
not a vested right but a privilege, a privilege moreover clothed with public interest
because a lawyer owes substantial 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. 4 The practice of law being clothed with public interest, the holder of this
privilege must submit to a degree of control for the common good, to the extent of the interest he has
created. As the U. S. Supreme Court through Mr. Justice Roberts explained, the expression "affected with
a public interest" is the equivalent of "subject to the exercise of the police power" (Nebbia vs. New York,
291 U.S. 502).

When, therefore, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6397 5 authorizing the Supreme
Court to "adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under such conditions as it
shall see fit," it did so in the exercise of the paramount police power of the State. The Act's avowal is to
"raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to
discharge its public responsibility more effectively." Hence, the Congress in enacting such Act, the Court
in ordaining the integration of the Bar through its Resolution promulgated on January 9, 1973, and the
President of the Philippines in decreeing the constitution of the IBP into a body corporate through
Presidential Decree No. 181 dated May 4, 1973, were prompted by fundamental considerations of public
welfare and motivated by a desire to meet the demands of pressing public necessity.

The State, in order to promote the general welfare, may interfere with and
regulate personal liberty, property and occupations. Persons and property may
be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to secure the general prosperity
and welfare of the State (U.S. vs. Gomez Jesus, 31 Phil 218), for, as the Latin
maxim goes, "Salus populi est supreme lex." The public welfare is the supreme
law. To this fundamental principle of government the rights of individuals are
subordinated. Liberty is a blessing without which life is a misery, but liberty
should not be made to prevail over authority because then society win fall into
anarchy (Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726). It is an undoubted power of the
State to restrain some individuals from all freedom, and all individuals from some
freedom.
But the most compelling argument sustaining the constitutionality and validity of
Bar integration in the Philippines is the explicit unequivocal grant of precise
power to the Supreme Court by Section 5 (5) of Article X of the 1973 Constitution
of the Philippines, which reads:
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
xxx xxx xxx
(5) Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and pro.
procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law and
the integration of the Bar ...,
and Section 1 of Republic Act No. 6397, which reads:
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.
Quite apart from the above, let it be stated that even without the enabling Act
(Republic Act No. 6397), and looking solely to the language of the provision of
the Constitution granting the Supreme Court the power "to promulgate rules
concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, and the admission to
the practice of law," it at once becomes indubitable that this constitutional
declaration vests the Supreme Court with plenary power in all cases regarding
the admission to and supervision of the practice of law.
Thus, when the respondent Edillon entered upon the legal profession, his
practice of law and his exercise of the said profession, which affect the society at
large, were (and are) subject to the power of the body politic to require him to
conform to such regulations as might be established by the proper authorities for
the common good, even to the extent of interfering with some of his liberties. If
he did not wish to submit himself to such reasonable interference and regulation,
he should not have clothed the public with an interest in his concerns.
On this score alone, the case for the respondent must already fall.
The issues being of constitutional dimension, however, we now concisely deal
with them seriatim.
1. The first objection posed by the respondent is that the Court is without power
to compel him to become a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
hence, Section 1 of the Court Rule is unconstitutional for it impinges on his
constitutional right of freedom to associate (and not to associate). Our answer is:
To compel a lawyer to be a member of the Integrated Bar is not violative of his
constitutional freedom to associate. 6
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. 7 All that integration actually does is to provide an official national organization for the
well-defined but unorganized and incohesive group of which every lawyer is a ready 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 only compulsion to which he is

subjected is the payment of annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order to further
the State's legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional legal
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. 9
Assuming that the questioned provision does in a sense 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. 10
2. The second issue posed by the respondent is that the provision of the Court
Rule requiring payment of a membership fee is void. We see nothing in the
Constitution that prohibits the Court, under its constitutional power and duty to
promulgate rules concerning the admission to the practice of law and the
integration of the Philippine Bar (Article X, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution)
which power the respondent acknowledges from requiring members of a
privileged class, such as lawyers are, to pay a reasonable fee toward defraying
the expenses of regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is quite
apparent that the fee is indeed imposed as a regulatory measure, designed to
raise funds for carrying out the objectives and purposes of integration. 11
3. The respondent further argues that the enforcement of the penalty provisions
would amount to a deprivation of property without due process and hence
infringes on one of his constitutional rights. Whether the practice of law is a
property right, in the sense of its being one that entitles the holder of a license to
practice a profession, we do not here pause to consider at length, as it clear that
under the police power of the State, and under the necessary powers granted to
the Court to perpetuate its existence, the respondent's right to practise law before
the courts of this country should be and is a matter subject to regulation and
inquiry. And, if the power to impose the fee as a regulatory measure is recognize,
then a penalty designed to enforce its payment, which penalty may be avoided
altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or arbitrary. 12
But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is not a property right but a
mere privilege, 13 and as such must bow to the inherent regulatory power of the Court to exact
compliance with the lawyer's public responsibilities.

4. Relative to the issue of the power and/or jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to
strike the name of a lawyer from its Roll of Attorneys, it is sufficient to state that

the matters of admission, suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers


and their regulation and supervision have been and are indisputably recognized
as inherent judicial functions and responsibilities, and the authorities holding
such are legion. 14
In In Re Sparks (267 Ky. 93, 101 S.W. (2d) 194), in which the report of the Board
of Bar Commissioners in a disbarment proceeding was confirmed and
disbarment ordered, the court, sustaining the Bar Integration Act of Kentucky,
said: "The power to regulate the conduct and qualifications of its officers does not
depend upon constitutional or statutory grounds. It is a power which is inherent in
this court as a court appropriate, indeed necessary, to the proper
administration of justice ... the argument that this is an arbitrary power which the
court is arrogating to itself or accepting from the legislative likewise misconceives
the nature of the duty. It has limitations no less real because they are inherent. It
is an unpleasant task to sit in judgment upon a brother member of the Bar,
particularly where, as here, the facts are disputed. It is a grave responsibility, to
be assumed only with a determination to uphold the Ideals and traditions of an
honorable profession and to protect the public from overreaching and fraud. The
very burden of the duty is itself a guaranty that the power will not be misused or
prostituted. ..."
The Court's jurisdiction was greatly reinforced by our 1973 Constitution when it
explicitly granted to the Court the power to "Promulgate rules concerning
pleading, practice ... and the admission to the practice of law and the integration
of the Bar ... (Article X, Sec. 5(5) the power to pass upon the fitness of the
respondent to remain a member of the legal profession is indeed undoubtedly
vested in the Court.
We thus reach the conclusion that the provisions of Rule of Court 139-A and of
the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines complained of are neither
unconstitutional nor illegal.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is the unanimous sense of the Court that
the respondent Marcial A. Edillon should be as he is hereby disbarred, and his
name is hereby ordered stricken from the Roll of Attorneys of the Court.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

G.R. No. 79690-707 February 1, 1989


ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and HONORABLE RAUL M.
GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under
the 1987 Constitution, respondents.
G.R. No. 80578 February 1, 1989
ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,
vs.
HON. RAUL M. GONZALES, claiming to be and acting as TanodbayanOmbudsman under the 1987 Constitution, respondent.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
We have examined carefully the lengthy and vigorously written Motion for
Reconsideration dated October 18, 1988 filed by counsel for respondent Raul M.
Gonzalez, relating to the per curiam Resolution of the Court dated October 7,
1988. We have reviewed once more the Court's extended per curiam Resolution,
in the light of the argument adduced in the Motion for Reconsideration, but must
conclude that we find no sufficient basis for modifying the conclusions and rulings
embodied in that Resolution. The Motion for Reconsideration sets forth copious
quotations and references to foreign texts which, however, whatever else they
may depict, do not reflect the law in this jurisdiction.
Nonetheless, it might be useful to develop further, in some measure, some of the
conclusions reached in the per curiam Resolution, addressing in the process
some of the "Ten (10) Legal Points for Reconsideration," made in the Motion for
Reconsideration.
1. In respondent's point A, it is claimed that it was error for this Court
"to charge respondent [with] indirect contempt and convict him of
direct contempt."

In the per curiam Resolution (page 50), the Court concluded that "respondent
Gonzalez is guilty both of contempt of court in facie curiae and of gross
misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the bar." The Court did not
use the phrase "in facie curiae" as a technical equivalent of "direct contempt,"
though we are aware that courts in the United States have sometimes used that
phrase in speaking of "direct contempts' as "contempts in the face of the courts."
Rather, the court sought to convey that it regarded the contumacious acts or
statements (which were made both in a pleading filed before the Court and in
statements given to the media) and the misconduct of respondent Gonzalez as
serious acts flaunted in the face of the Court and constituting a frontal
assault upon the integrity of the Court and, through the Court, the entire judicial
system. What the Court would stress is that it required respondent, in its
Resolution dated 2 May 1988, to explain "why he should not be punished for
contempt of court and/or subjected to administrative sanctions" and in respect of
which, respondent was heard and given the most ample opportunity to present all
defenses, arguments and evidence that he wanted to present for the
consideration of this Court. The Court did not summarily impose punishment
upon the respondent which it could have done under Section 1 of Rule 71 of the
Revised Rules of Court had it chosen to consider respondent's acts as
constituting "direct contempt."
2. In his point C, respondent's counsel argues that it was "error for
this Court to charge respondent under Rule 139 (b) and not 139 of
the Revised Rules of Court."
In its per curiam Resolution, the Court referred to Rule 139 (b) of the Revised
Rules of Court pointing out that:
[R]eference of complaints against attorneys either to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is not mandatory
upon the Supreme Court such reference to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines or to the Solicitor General is certainly not an exclusive
procedure under the terms of Rule 139 (b) of the Revised Rules of
Court, especially where the charge consists of acts done before the
Supreme Court.
The above statement was made by the Court in response to respondent's motion
for referral of this case either to the Solicitor General or to the Integrated Bar of

the Philippines under Rule 139 (b). Otherwise, there would have been no need to
refer to Rule 139 (b). It is thus only necessary to point out that under the old rule,
Rule 139, referral to the Solicitor General was similarly not an exclusive
procedure and was not the only course of action open to the Supreme Court. It is
well to recall that under Section 1 (entitled "Motion or complaint") of Rule 139,
"Proceedings for the removal or suspension of attorneys may be taken by the
Supreme Court, (1) on its own motion, or (2) upon the complaint under oath of
another in writing" (Parentheses supplied). The procedure described in Sections
2 et seq. of Rule 139 is the procedure provided for suspension or disbarment
proceedings initiated upon sworn complaint of another person, rather than a
procedure required for proceedings initiated by the Supreme Court on its own
motion. It is inconceivable that the Supreme Court would initiate motu
proprioproceedings for which it did not find probable cause to proceed against an
attorney. Thus, there is no need to refer a case to the Solicitor General, which
referral is made "for investigation to determine if there is sufficient ground to
proceed with the prosecution of the respondent" (Section 3, Rule 139), where the
Court itself has initiated against the respondent. The Court may, of course, refer
a case to the Solicitor General if it feels that, in a particular case, further factual
investigation is needed. In the present case, as pointed out in the per
curiamResolution of the Court (page 18), there was "no need for further
investigation of facts in the present case for it [was] not substantially disputed by
respondent Gonzalez that he uttered or wrote certain statements attributed to
him" and that "in any case, respondent has had the amplest opportunity to
present his defense: his defense is not that he did not make the statements
ascribed to him but that those statements give rise to no liability on his part,
having been made in the exercise of his freedom of speech. The issues which
thus need to be resolved here are issues of law and of basic policy and the
Court, not any other agency, is compelled to resolve such issues."
In this connection, we note that the quotation in page 7 of the Motion for
Reconsideration is from a dissentingopinion of Mr. Justice Black in Green v.
United State. 1 It may be pointed out that the majority in Green v. United States,through Mr. Justice
Harlan, held, among other things, that: Federal courts do not lack power to impose sentences in excess of
one year for criminal contempt; that criminal contempts are not subject to jury trial as a matter of
constitutional right; nor does the (US) Constitution require that contempt subject to prison terms of more
than one year be based on grand jury indictments.

In his concurring opinion in the same case, Mr. Justice Frankfurter


said:

Whatever the conflicting views of scholars in construing more or less


dubious manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century, what is indisputable
is that from the foundation of the United States the constitutionality
of the power to punish for contempt without the intervention of a jury
has not been doubted. The First Judiciary Act conferred such a
power on the federal courts in the very act of their establishment, 1
State 73, 83, and of the Judiciary Committee of eight that reported
the bill to the Senate, five member including the chairman, Senator,
later to be Chief Justice, Ellsworth, had been delegates to the
Constitutional Convention (Oliver Ellsworth, Chairman, William
Paterson, Caleb Strong, Ricard Basett, William Few. 1 Annals of
Cong 17). In the First Congress itself no less than nineteen member
including Madison who contemporaneously introduced the Bill of
Rights, had been delegates to the Convention. And when an abuse
under this power manifested itself, and led Congress to define more
explicitly the summary power vested in the courts, it did not remotely
deny the existence of the power but merely defined the conditions
for its exercise more clearly, in an Act "declaratory of the law
concerning contempts of court." Act of Mar. 2, 1831, 4 Stat 487.
xxxxxxxxx
Nor has the constitutionality of the power been doubted by this Court
throughout its existence . In at least two score cases in this Court,
not to mention the vast mass of decisions in the lower federal courts,
the power to punish summarily has been accepted without
question. ... 2
To say that a judge who punishes a contemnor judges his own cause, is
simplistic at best. The judge who finds himself compelled to exercise the power
to punish for contempt does so not really to avenge a wrong inflicted upon his
own person; rather he upholds and vindicates the authority, dignity and integrity
of the judicial institution and its claim to respectful behaviour on the part of all
persons who appears before it, and most especially from those who are officers
of the court.

3. In his point D, respondent counsel urges that it is error "for this


Court to apply the "visible tendency" rule rather than the "clear and
present danger" rule in disciplinary and contempt charges."
The Court did not purport to announce a new doctrine of "visible tendency," it
was, more modestly, simply paraphrasing Section 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Revised
Rules of Court which penalizes a variety of contumacious conduct including: "any
improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct or degrade
the administration of justice."
The "clear and present danger" doctrine invoked by respondent's counsel is not a
magic incantation which dissolves all problems and dispenses with analysis and
judgment in the testing of the legitimacy of claims to free speech, and which
compels a court to exonerate a defendant the moment the doctrine is invoked,
absent proof of impending apocalypse. The clear and present danger" doctrine
has been an accepted method for marking out the appropriate limits of freedom
of speech and of assembly in certain contexts. It is not, however, the only test
which has been recognized and applied by courts. In Logunzad v. Vda. de
Gonzales, 3 this Court, speaking through Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera said:
...The right of freedom of expression indeed, occupies a preferred
position in the "hierarchy of civil liberties" (Philippine Blooming Mills
Employees Organization v. Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., 51
SCRA 191 [1963]. It is not, however, without limitations. As held in
Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, 27 SCRA 835, 858 [1960]:
"From the language of the specific constitutional provision, it would
appear that the right is not susceptible of any limitation. No law may
be passed abridging the freedom of speech and of the press. The
realities of life in a complex society preclude however, a literal
interpretation. Freedom of expression is not an absolute. It would be
too much to insist that all times and under all circumstances it
should remain unfettered and unrestrained. There are other societal
values that press for recognition."
The prevailing doctrine is that the clear and present danger rule is
such a limitation. Another criterion for permissible limitation on
freedom of speech and of the press, which includes such vehicles of

the mass media as radio, television and the movies, is


the "balancing-of-interests test" (Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando
on the Bill of Rights, 1970 ed., p. 79). The principle "requires a court
to take conscious and detailed consideration of the interplay of
interests observable in a given situation or type of
situation (Separate Opinion of the late Chief Justice Castro in
Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, supra, p. 899). (Emphasis
Supplied) 4
Under either the "clear and present danger" test or the "balancing-of-interest
test," we believe that the statements here made by respondent Gonzalez are of
such a nature and were made in such a manner and under such circumstances,
as to transcend the permissible limits of free speech. This conclusion was implicit
in the per curiamResolution of October 7, 1988. It is important to point out that
the "substantive evil" which the Supreme Court has a right and a duty to prevent
does not, in the instant case, relate to threats of physical disorder or overt
violence or similar disruptions of public order. 5 What is here at stake is the authority of the
Supreme Court to confront and prevent a "substantive evil" consisting not only of the obstruction of a free
and fair hearing of a particular case but also the avoidance of the broader evil of the degradation of the
judicial system of a country and the destruction of the standards of professional conduct required from
members of the bar and officers of the courts. The "substantive evil" here involved, in other words, is not
as palpable as a threat of public disorder or rioting but is certainly no less deleterious and more far
reaching in its implications for society.

4. In his point H, respondent's counsel argues that it is error "for this


Court to hold that intent is irrelevant in charges of misconduct." What
the Court actually said on this point was:
Respondent Gonzalez disclaims an intent to attack and denigrate
the Court. The subjectivities of the respondent are irrelevant so far
as characterization of his conduct or misconduct is concerned. He
will not, however, be allowed to disclaim the natural and plain import
of his words and acts. It is, upon the other hand, not irrelevant to
point out that the respondent offered no apology in his two (2)
explanations and exhibited no repentance (Resolution, p. 7;
footnotes omitted).
The actual subjectivities of the respondent are irrelevant because such
subjectivities (understood as pyschological phenomena) cannot be ascertained
and reached by the processes of this Court. Human intent can only be shown

derivatively and implied from an examination of acts and statements. Thus, what
the Court was saying was that respondent's disclaimer of an intent to attack and
denigrate the Court, cannot prevail over the plain import of what he did say and
do. Respondent cannot negate the clear import of his acts and statements by
simply pleading a secret intent or state of mind incompatible with those acts or
statements. It is scarcely open to dispute that, e.g., one accused of homicide
cannot successfully deny his criminal intent by simply asserting that while he may
have inserted a knife between the victim's ribs, he actually acted from high
motives and kind feelings for the latter.
5 In his point 1, respondent's counsel argues that it is error "for this
Court to punish respondent for contempt of court for out of court
publications."
Respondent's counsel asks this Court to follow what he presents as alleged
modern trends in the United Kingdom and in the United States concerning the
law of contempt. We are, however, unable to regard the texts that he cites as
binding or persuasive in our jurisdiction. The Court went to some length to
document the state of our case law on this matter in its per curiam Resolution.
There is nothing in the circumstances of this case that would suggest to this
Court that that case law, which has been followed for at least half a century or so,
ought to be reversed.
6. In his point J, respondent's counsel pleads that the imposition of
indefinite suspension from the practice of law constitutes "cruel,
degrading or inhuman punishment". The Court finds it difficult to
consider this a substantial constitutional argument. The
indefiniteness of the respondent's suspension, far from being "cruel"
or "degrading" or "inhuman," has the effect of placing, as it were, the
key to the restoration of his rights and privileges as a lawyer in his
own hands. That sanction has the effect of giving respondent the
chance to purge himself in his own good time of his contempt and
misconduct by acknowledging such misconduct, exhibiting
appropriate repentance and demonstrating his willingness and
capacity to live up to the exacting standards of conduct rightly
demanded from every member of the bar and officer of the courts.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DENY the Motion for Reconsideration for
lack of merit. The denial is FINAL.
The Court also NOTED the Ex-Parte Manifestation and Motion, dated October
25, 1988 and the Supplemental Manifestation, dated October 27, 1988, filed by
respondent

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

[A.C. No. 5838. January 17, 2005]

SPOUSES
BENJAMIN
SANTUYO, complainants,
HIDALGO, respondent.

SANTUYO
vs. ATTY.

AND
EDITHA
EDWIN
A.

RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:

In a verified complaint-affidavit dated September 18, 2001, spouses


Benjamin Santuyo and Editha Santuyo accused respondent Atty. Edwin A.
Hidalgo of serious misconduct and dishonesty for breach of his lawyers oath
and the notarial law.
[1]

Complainants stated that sometime in December 1991, they purchased a


parcel of land covered by a deed of sale. The deed of sale was allegedly
notarized by respondent lawyer and was entered in his notarial register as
Doc. No. 94 on Page No. 19 in Book No. III, Series of 1991. Complainant
spouses averred that about six years after the date of notarization, they had a
dispute with one Danilo German over the ownership of the land. The case
was estafa through falsification of a public document.
During the trial of the case, German presented in court an affidavit
executed by respondent denying the authenticity of his signature on the deed
of sale. The spouses allegedly forged his notarial signature on said deed.
[2]

According to complainants, respondent overlooked the fact that the


disputed deed of sale contained all the legal formalities of a duly notarized
document, including an impression of respondents notarial dry seal. Not being
persons who were learned in the technicalities surrounding a notarial act,
spouses contended that they could not have forged the signature of herein
respondent. They added that they had no access to his notarial seal and
notarial register, and could not have made any imprint of respondents seal or
signature on the subject deed of sale or elsewhere.
[3]

In his answer to the complaint, respondent denied the allegations against


him. He denied having notarized any deed of sale covering the disputed
property. According to respondent, he once worked as a junior lawyer at
Carpio General and Jacob Law Office where he was asked to apply for a
notarial commission. While he admitted that he notarized several documents
in that office, these, however, did not include the subject deed of sale. He
explained that, as a matter of office procedure, documents underwent scrutiny
by the senior lawyers and it was only when they gave their approval that
notarization was done. He claimed that, in some occasions, the secretaries in
the law firm, by themselves, would affix the dry seal of the junior associates on
documents relating to cases handled by the law firm. Respondent added that
he normally required the parties to exhibit their community tax certificates and
made them personally acknowledge the documents before him as notary
public. He would have remembered complainants had they actually appeared
before him. While he admitted knowing complainant Editha Santuyo, he said
he met the latters husband and co-complainant only on November 5, 1997, or
about six years from the time that he purportedly notarized the deed of sale.
Moreover, respondent stressed that an examination of his alleged signature
on the deed of sale revealed that it was forged; the strokes were smooth and
mild. He suspected that a lady was responsible for forging his signature.
[4]

To further refute the accusations against him, respondent stated that, at


the time the subject deed of sale was supposedly notarized, on December 27,
1991, he was on vacation. He surmised that complainants must have gone to
the law office and enticed one of the secretaries, with the concurrence of the
senior lawyers, to notarize the document. He claimed he was a victim of a
criminal scheme motivated by greed.

The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
for investigation, report and recommendation. In a report it submitted to the
Court, the IBP noted that the alleged forged signature of respondent on the
deed of sale was different from his signatures in other documents he
submitted during the investigation of the present case. However, it ruled that
respondent was also negligent because he allowed the office secretaries to
perform his notarial functions, including the safekeeping of his notarial dry
seal and notarial register. It thus recommended:
[5]

[6]

[7]

WHEREFORE[,] in view of the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended that


respondents commission as notary public be revoked for two (2) years if he is
commissioned as such; or he should not be granted a commission as notary public for
two (2) years upon receipt hereof.
[8]

After going over the evidence submitted by the parties, complainants did
not categorically state that they appeared before respondent to have the deed
of sale notarized. Their appearance before him could have bolstered this
allegation that respondent signed the document and that it was not a forgery
as he claimed. The records show that complainants themselves were not sure
if respondent, indeed, signed the document; what they were sure of was the
fact that his signature appeared thereon. They had no personal knowledge as
well as to who actually affixed the signature of respondent on the deed.
Furthermore, complainants did not refute respondents contention that he
only met complainant Benjamin Santuyo six years after the alleged
notarization of the deed of sale. Respondents assertion was corroborated by
one Mrs. Lyn Santy in an affidavit executed on November 17, 2001 wherein
she stated that complainant Editha Santuyo had to invite respondent to her
house on November 5, 1997 to meet her husband since the two had to be
introduced to each other. The meeting between complainant Benjamin
Santuyo and respondent was arranged after the latter insisted that Mr.
Santuyo personally acknowledge a deed of sale concerning another property
that the spouses bought.
[9]

In finding respondent negligent in performing his notarial functions, the IBP


reasoned out:

xxx xxx xxx.


Considering that the responsibility attached to a notary public is sensitive respondent
should have been more discreet and cautious in the execution of his duties as such and
should not have wholly entrusted everything to the secretaries; otherwise he should
not have been commissioned as notary public.
For having wholly entrusted the preparation and other mechanics of the document for
notarization to the secretary there can be a possibility that even the respondents
signature which is the only one left for him to do can be done by the secretary or
anybody for that matter as had been the case herein.
As it is respondent had been negligent not only in the supposed notarization but
foremost in having allowed the office secretaries to make the necessary entries in his
notarial registry which was supposed to be done and kept by him alone; and should
not have relied on somebody else.
[10]

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Edwin A. Hidalgo is hereby found GUILTY


of negligence in the performance of his duties as notary public and is hereby
SUSPENDED from his commission as a notary public for a period of two
years, if he is commissioned, or if he is not, he is disqualified from an
appointment as a notary public for a period of two years from finality of this
resolution, with a warning that a repetition of similar negligent acts would be
dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

[A.C. No. 5864. April 15, 2005]

ARTURO L. SICAT, complainant, vs. ATTY. GREGORIO E. ARIOLA,


JR., respondent.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:

In an affidavit-complaint, complainant Arturo L. Sicat, a Board Member of


the Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Rizal, charged respondent Atty. Gregorio
E. Ariola, the Municipal Administrator of Cainta, Rizal, with violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility by committing fraud, deceit and falsehood
in his dealings, particularly the notarization of a Special Power of Attorney
(SPA) purportedly executed by a one Juanito C. Benitez. According to
complainant, respondent made it appear that Benitez executed the said
document on January 4, 2001 when in fact the latter had already died on
October 25, 2000.
[1]

He alleged that prior to the notarization, the Municipality of Cainta had


entered into a contract with J.C. Benitez Architect and Technical Management,
represented by Benitez, for the construction of low-cost houses. The cost of
the architectural and engineering designs amounted to P11,000,000 and two
consultants were engaged to supervise the project. For the services of the
consultants, the Municipality of Cainta issued a check dated January 10, 2001
in the amount of P3,700,000, payable to J.C. Benitez Architects and Technical
Management and/or Cesar Goco. The check was received and encashed by
the latter by virtue of the authority of the SPA notarized by respondent Ariola.
Complainant further charged respondent with the crime of falsification
penalized under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code by making it appear
that certain persons participated in an act or proceeding when in fact they did
not.
In his Comment, respondent explained that, as early as May 12, 2000,
Benitez had already signed the SPA. He claimed that due to inadvertence, it
was only on January 4, 2001 that he was able to notarize it. Nevertheless, the
SPA notarized by him on January 4, 2001 was not at all necessary because
Benitez had signed a similar SPA in favor of Goco sometime before his death,
on May 12, 2000. Because it was no longer necessary, the SPA was cancelled
the same day he notarized it, hence, legally, there was no public document
that existed. Respondent prayed that the complaint be dismissed on the
ground of forum-shopping since similar charges had been filed with the Civil
Service Commission and the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.
According to him, the complaints were later dismissed based on findings that
the assailed act referred to violations of the implementing rules and
[2]

regulations of PD 1594, PD 1445, RA 7160 and other pertinent rules of the


Commission on Audit (COA). He stressed that no criminal and administrative
charges were recommended for filing against him.
[3]

[4]

[5]

In a Resolution dated March 12, 2003, the Court referred the complaint to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation. On August 26, 2003, the IBP submitted its investigation
report:
[6]

x x x it is evident that respondent notarized the Special Power of Attorney dated 4


January 2001 purportedly executed by Juanito C. Benitez long after Mr. Benitez was
dead. It is also evident that respondent cannot feign innocence and claim that he did
not know Mr. Benitez was already dead at the time because respondent, as member of
the Prequalification and Awards Committee of the Municipality of Cainta, personally
knew Mr. Benitez because the latter appeared before the Committee a number of
times. It is evident that the Special Power of Attorney dated 4 January 2001 was part
of a scheme of individuals to defraud the Municipality of Cainta of money which was
allegedly due them, and that respondent by notarizing said Special Power of Attorney
helped said parties succeed in their plans.
[7]

The IBP recommended to the Court that respondents notarial commission


be revoked and that he be suspended from the practice of law for a period of
one year.
[8]

After a careful review of the records, we find that respondent never


disputed complainants accusation that he notarized the SPA purportedly
executed by Benitez on January 4, 2001. He likewise never took issue with
the fact that on said date, Benitez was already dead. His act was a serious
breach of the sacred obligation imposed upon him by the Code of
Professional Responsibility, specifically Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which
prohibited him from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct. As a lawyer and as an officer of the court, it was his duty to serve the
ends of justice, not to corrupt it. Oath-bound, he was expected to act at all
times in accordance with law and ethics, and if he did not, he would not only
injure himself and the public but also bring reproach upon an honorable
profession.
[9]

[10]

In the recent case of Zaballero v. Atty. Mario J. Montalvan, where the


respondent notarized certain documents and made it appear that the
deceased father of complainant executed them, the Court declared the
respondent there guilty of violating Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. The Court was emphatic that lawyers
commissioned as notaries public should not authenticate documents unless
the persons who signed them are the very same persons who executed them
and personally appeared before them to attest to the contents and truth of
what are stated therein. The Court added that notaries public must observe
utmost fidelity, the basic requirement in the performance of their duties,
otherwise the confidence of the public in the integrity of notarized deeds and
documents will be undermined.
[11]

[12]

In the case at bar, the records show that Benitez died on October 25,
2000. However, respondent notarized the SPA, purportedly bearing the
signature of Benitez, on January 4, 2001 or more than two months after the
latters death. The notarial acknowledgement of respondent declared that
Benitez appeared before him and acknowledged that the instrument was his
free and voluntary act. Clearly, respondent lied and intentionally perpetuated
an untruthful statement. Notarization is not an empty, meaningless and
routinary act. It converts a private document into a public instrument, making
it admissible in evidence without the necessity of preliminary proof of its
authenticity and due execution.
[13]

[14]

Neither will respondents defense that the SPA in question was superfluous
and unnecessary, and prejudiced no one, exonerate him of accountability. His
assertion of falsehood in a public document contravened one of the most
cherished tenets of the legal profession and potentially cast suspicion on the
truthfulness of every notarial act. As the Municipal Administrator of Cainta, he
should have been aware of his great responsibility not only as a notary public
but as a public officer as well. A public office is a public trust. Respondent
should not have caused disservice to his constituents by consciously
performing an act that would deceive them and the Municipality of Cainta.
Without the fraudulent SPA, the erring parties in the construction project could
not have encashed the check amounting to P3,700,000 and could not have
foisted on the public a spurious contract all to the extreme prejudice of the

very Municipality of which he was the Administrator. According to the COA


Special Task Force:
Almost all acts of falsification of public documents as enumerated in Article 171 in
relation to Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code were evident in the transactions of
the Municipality of Cainta with J.C. Benitez & Architects Technical Management for
the consultancy services in the conduct of Detailed Feasibility Study and Detailed
Engineering Design of the Proposed Construction of Cainta Municipal Medium Rise
Low Cost Housing, in the contract amount of P11,000,000. The agent resorted to
misrepresentation, manufacture or fabrication of fictitious document, untruthful
narration of facts, misrepresentation, and counterfeiting or imitating signature for the
purpose of creating a fraudulent contract. All these were tainted with deceit
perpetrated against the government resulting to undue injury. The first and partial
payment, in the amount of P3,700,000.00 was made in the absence of the required
outputs. x x x
[15]

We need not say more except that we are constrained to change the
penalty recommended by the IBP which we find too light.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Gregorio E. Ariola, Jr., is found guilty of
gross misconduct and is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law. Let
copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and
entered in the records of respondent, and brought to the immediate attention
of the Ombudsman.
SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

NESA ISENHARDT,
Complainant,

A.C. No. 8254


(Formerly CBD Case
Present:
CARPIO,
Chairperson,
VILLARAMA, JR.,*
PEREZ,
SERENO, and
REYES, JJ.

- versus -

ATTY. LEONARDO M. REAL,


Respondent.

Promulgated:
February 15, 2012

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
This case stemmed from the verified complaint [1] filed with the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) on 9 September 2004 by Nesa G. Isenhardt (complainant),
through her counsel Atty. Edgardo Golpeo, seeking the disbarment of respondent
Atty. Leonardo M. Real (respondent) for allegedly notarizing a document even
without the appearance of one of the parties.

The Antecedent Facts


Complainant alleged that on 14 September 2000 respondent notarized a Special
Power Attorney (SPA)[2] supposedly executed by her. The SPA authorizes
complainants brother to mortgage her real property located in Antipolo
City. Complainant averred that she never appeared before respondent. She

maintained that it was impossible for her to subscribe to the questioned document
in the presence of respondent on 14 September 2000 since she was in Germany at
that time.
To support her contention, complainant presented a certified true copy of her
German passport[3] and a Certification from the Bureau of Immigration and
Deportation (BID)[4]indicating that she arrived in the Philippines on 22 June 2000
and left the country on 4 August 2000. The passport further indicated that she
arrived again in the Philippines only on 1 July 2001.
Complainant submitted that because of respondents act, the property subject of the
SPA was mortgaged and later foreclosed by the Rural Bank of Antipolo City.
In his answer,[5] respondent denied the allegations in the complaint. He narrated
that sometime in the middle of year 2000, spouses Wilfredo and Lorena Gusi
approached him to seek advice regarding the computer business they were
planning to put up. During one of their meetings, the spouses allegedly introduced
to him a woman by the name of Nesa G. Isenhardt, sister of Wilfredo, as the
financier of their proposed business.
Respondent further narrated that on 14 September 2000, spouses Gusi, together
with the woman purporting to be the complainant, went to his office to have the
subject SPA notarized. He maintained that the parties all signed in his presence,
exhibiting to him their respective Community Tax Certificates (CTCs). He added
that the complainant even presented to him the original copy of the Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT)[6] of the property subject of the SPA evidencing her
ownership of the property.

Respondent noted that spouses Gusi even engaged his services as counsel in a civil
case filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Antipolo City. The expenses
incurred for the case, which was predicated on the closure of their computer
business for non-payment of rentals, was allegedly financed by complainant. The
professional engagement with the spouses was, however, discontinued in view of
differences of opinion between lawyer and clients, as well as, non-payment of
respondents professional fees.
Respondent concluded that complainants cause of action had already
prescribed. He argued that under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar
Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, a complaint for
disbarment prescribes in two years from the date of professional misconduct. Since
the document questioned was notarized in year 2000, the accusation of misconduct
which was filed only in September 2004 had already prescribed. Moreover,
respondent noted that the SPA in question authorizing the grantee Wilfredo Gusi to
mortgage the property of complainant was not used for any transaction with a third
person prejudicial to the latter. The annotation at the back of the TCT[7] would
show that the property subject of the SPA was instead sold by complainant to her
brother Wilfredo for P500,000.00 on 12 January 2001. Thus, he submits that the
SPA did not cause grave injury to the complainant.
The IBP Report and Recommendation
On 8 September 2006, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVII2006-405,[8] which adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation [9] of the
Investigating Commissioner. IBP Commissioner Dennis A. B. Funa, after due
proceeding, found respondent guilty of gross negligence as a notary public and

recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for one year and
disqualified from reappointment as notary public for two (2) years.
Aggrieved,

respondent

on

13

November

2006

filed

Motion

for

Reconsideration[10] of the aforesaid Resolution. This was, however, denied by the


IBP Board of Governors in a Resolution dated 11 December 2009.
Our Ruling
We sustain the findings and recommendation of the IBP. As stated by the IBP
Board of Governors, the findings of the Investigating Commissioner are supported
by evidence on record, as well as applicable laws and rules.
Respondent violated his oath as a lawyer and the Code of Professional
Responsibility[11] when he made it appear that complainant personally appeared
before him and subscribed an SPA authorizing her brother to mortgage her
property.
It cannot be overemphasized that a notary public should not notarize a document
unless the person who signs it is the same person who executed it, personally
appearing before him to attest to the contents and the truth of what are stated
therein. This is to enable the notary public to verify the genuineness of the
signature of the acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the
partys free act.[12]
Section 1, Public Act No. 2103, otherwise known as the Notarial Law states:
The acknowledgement shall be before a notary public or an officer duly
authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgements of
instruments or documents in the place where the act is done. The notary
public or the officer taking the acknowledgement shall certify that the

person acknowledging the instrument or document is known to him and


that he is the same person who executed it, acknowledged that the same
is his free act and deed. The certificate shall be made under the official
seal, if he is required by law to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall
so state.

Such requirement of affiants personal appearance was further emphasized in


Section 2 (b) of Rule IV of the Rules on Notarial Practice of 2004 which provides
that:
A person shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved as
signatory to the instrument or document
(1) is not in the notarys presence personally at the time of the
notarization; and
(2) is not personally known to the notary public or otherwise
identified by the notary public through competent
evidence of identity as defined by these Rules.

Respondent insists that complainant appeared before him and subscribed to the
SPA subject of the instant case. His contention, however, cannot prevail over the
documentary evidence presented by complainant that she was not in the
Philippines on 14 September 2000, the day the SPA was allegedly
notarized. Respondent may have indeed met complainant in person during the
period the latter was allegedly introduced to him by Spouses Gusi but that did not
change the fact established by evidence that complainant was not in the personal
presence of respondent at the time of notarization. It is well settled that entries in
official records made in the performance of a duty by a public officer of the
Philippines, or by a person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law,
are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. [13] This principle aptly covers
the Certification from the BID that complainant left the Philippines on 4 August
2000 and arrived back only on 1 July 2001.

Respondents contention was further negated when he claimed that complainant


presented to him the original TCT of the property subject of the SPA. A perusal of
the TCT would reveal that ownership of the property was transferred to
complainant only on 10 January 2001. Thus, it could not have been presented to
respondent by complainant on 14 September 2000.
The allegation of respondent that there were other documents subscribed by
complainant during the interim of 4 August 2000 and 1 July 2001 or the time that
she was supposed to be in Germany deserves scant consideration. Such allegation
was refuted during the hearing before the Investigating Commissioner when
counsel for complainant informed Commissioner Funa that those documents are
subjects of criminal and civil cases pending before the Regional Trial Courts of
Pasig, Antipolo and Quezon City,[14] where the documents are being contested for
being spurious in character.
Anent respondents claim of prescription of the offense pursuant to Section 1, Rule
VIII of the Rules of Procedure [15] of the Commission on Bar Discipline, we agree
with the Investigating Commissioner that the rule should be construed to mean two
years from the date of discovery of the professional misconduct. To rule otherwise
would cause injustice to parties who may have discovered the wrong committed to
them only at a much later date. In this case, the complaint was filed more than
three years after the commission of the act because it was only after the property
was foreclosed that complainant discovered the SPA.
The duties of a notary public is dictated by public policy and impressed with public
interest.[16] It is not a meaningless ministerial act of acknowledging documents
executed by parties who are willing to pay the fees for notarization. It is of no

moment that the subject SPA was not utilized by the grantee for the purpose it was
intended because the property was allegedly transferred from complainant to her
brother by virtue of a deed of sale consummated between them. What is being
penalized is respondents act of notarizing a document despite the absence of one of
the parties. By notarizing the questioned document, he engaged in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.[17] A notarized document is by law entitled
to full credit upon its face and it is for this reason that notaries public must observe
the basic requirements in notarizing documents. Otherwise, the confidence of the
public in notarized documents will be undermined.[18]
In a catena of cases,[19] we ruled that a lawyer commissioned as notary public
having thus failed to discharge his duties as a notary public, the revocation of his
notarial commission, disqualification from being commissioned as a notary public
for a period of two years and suspension from the practice of law for one year, are
in order.
WHEREFORE, the notarial commission of respondent Atty. Leonardo M. Real is
hereby REVOKED. He is DISQUALIFIED from reappointment as notary public
for a period of two (2) years and SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
period of one (1) year, effective immediately. He is WARNED that a repetition of
the same or similar offense in the future shall be dealt with more severely. He is
directed to report the date of receipt of this Decision in order to determine the date
of effectivity of his suspension.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information
and guidance. Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondents personal
record as attorney.

SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
[A.C. No. 3319. June 8, 2000]
LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent.
DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:
Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris
Bonifacio for allegedly carrying on an immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui,
husband of complainant, Leslie Ui.
The relevant facts are:
On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our
Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon City and as a result of their marital union,
they had four (4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and Carl Cavin, all
surnamed Ui. Sometime in December 1987, however, complainant found out
that her husband, Carlos Ui, was carrying on an illicit relationship with
respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot a daughter sometime in
1986, and that they had been living together at No. 527 San Carlos Street,
Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a graduate of
the College of Law of the University of the Philippines was admitted to the
Philippine Bar in 1982.
[1]

Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent.


Complainant then visited respondent at her office in the later part of June
1988 and introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon,
respondent admitted to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged,
however, that everything was over between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant

believed the representations of respondent and thought things would turn out
well from then on and that the illicit relationship between her husband and
respondent would come to an end.
However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her
husband and respondent continued, and that sometime in December 1988,
respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child. Complainant
then met again with respondent sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with
respondent to discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail.
The illicit relationship persisted and complainant even came to know later on
that respondent had been employed by her husband in his company.
A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed
on August 11, 1989 by the complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio
before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, more
particularly, for carrying on an illicit relationship with the complainants
husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer, respondent averred that she met Carlos
Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to be a bachelor, with the
knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese woman in
Amoy, China, from whom he had long been estranged. She stated that during
one of their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry her and
they in fact got married in Hawaii, USA in 1985 . Upon their return to Manila,
respondent did not live with Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live with his
children in their Greenhills residence because respondent and Carlos Ui
wanted to let the children gradually to know and accept the fact of his second
marriage before they would live together.
[2]

[3]

[4]

In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she
would only return occasionally to the Philippines to update her law practice
and renew legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime in June 1988,
respondent was surprised when she was confronted by a woman who insisted
that she was the lawful wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon her
discovery of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, respondent then left for
Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July 1988 and returned only in March 1989 with
her two (2) children. On March 20, 1989, a few days after she reported to
work with the law firm she was connected with, the woman who represented
[5]

herself to be the wife of Carlos Ui again came to her office, demanding to


know if Carlos Ui has been communicating with her.
It is respondents contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit
because they were married abroad and that after June 1988 when respondent
discovered Carlos Uis true civil status, she cut off all her ties with him.
Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never lived with her in Alabang, and that
he resided at 26 Potsdam Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. It was
respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which belonged to her mother,
Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said house was built exclusively from her
parents funds. By way of counterclaim, respondent sought moral damages in
the amount of Ten Million Pesos (Php10,000,000.00) against complainant for
having filed the present allegedly malicious and groundless disbarment case
against respondent.
[6]

In her Reply dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that
respondent knew perfectly well that Carlos Ui was married to complainant and
had children with her even at the start of her relationship with Carlos Ui, and
that the reason respondent went abroad was to give birth to her two (2)
children with Carlos Ui.
[7]

During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar,


complainant also charged her husband, Carlos Ui, and respondent with the
crime of Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal,
docketed as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same was dismissed for insufficiency of
evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged. The resolution
dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent reads:
Complainants evidence had prima facie established the existence
of the "illicit relationship" between the respondents allegedly
discovered by the complainant in December 1987. The same
evidence however show that respondent Carlos Ui was still living
with complainant up to the latter part of 1988 and/or the early part
of 1989.
It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the
"relationship" of respondents started and was discovered by

complainant sometime in 1987 when she and respondent Carlos


were still living at No. 26 Potsdam Street, Northeast Greenhills,
San Juan, MetroManila and they, admittedly, continued to live
together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 or
later 1988, when respondent Carlos left the same.
From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic)
the relationship, illicit as complainant puts it, had been prima facie
established by complainants evidence, this same evidence had
failed to even prima facie establish the "fact of respondents
cohabitation in the concept of husband and wife at the 527 San
Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of which is necessary and
indispensable to at least create probable cause for the offense
charged. The statement alone of complainant, worse, a statement
only of a conclusion respecting the fact of cohabitation does not
make the complainants evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S.
vs. Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178).
It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in
support of their respective positions on the matter support and
bolster the foregoing conclusion/recommendation.
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the
instant complaint be dismissed for want of evidence to establish
probable cause for the offense charged.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.

[8]

Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to


the Secretary of Justice, but the same was dismissed on the ground of
insufficiency of evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and Carlos Ui
lived together as husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang,
Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.
[9]

In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant


filed a Motion to Cite Respondent in Contempt of the Commission wherein
she charged respondent with making false allegations in her Answer and for
[10]

submitting a supporting document which was altered and intercalated. She


alleged that in the Answer of respondent filed before the Integrated Bar,
respondent averred, among others, that she was married to Carlos Ui on
October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of Marriage to substantiate her
averment. However, the Certificate of Marriage duly certified by the State
Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the Hawaii State Department
of Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of marriage between Carlos Ui
and respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and not October 22,
1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer. According to complainant, the
reason for that false allegation was because respondent wanted to impress
upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child by Carlos Ui was within the
wedlock. It is the contention of complainant that such act constitutes a
violation of Articles 183 and 184 of the Revised Penal Code, and also
contempt of the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false
allegations in her Answer and submitting an altered/intercalated document are
indicative of her moral perversity and lack of integrity which make her
unworthy to be a member of the Philippine Bar.
[11]

[12]

[13]

[14]

In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt), respondent


averred that she did not have the original copy of the marriage certificate
because the same was in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she annexed
such copy because she relied in good faith on what appeared on the copy of
the marriage certificate in her possession.
[15]

Respondent filed her Memorandum on February 22, 1995 and raised the
lone issue of whether or not she has conducted herself in an immoral manner
for which she deserves to be barred from the practice of law. Respondent
averred that the complaint should be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely:
[16]

(i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent


with the requirement of good moral character for the
practice of the legal profession; and
(ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that
respondent conducted herself in an immoral manner.

[17]

In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was
the victim in this case and not Leslie Ui because she did not know that Carlos
Ui was already married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent
immediately cut-off all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no
reason for her to doubt at that time that the civil status of Carlos Ui was that of
a bachelor because he spent so much time with her, and he was so open in
his courtship.
[18]

On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it


was highly incredible for her to have knowingly attached such marriage
certificate to her Answer had she known that the same was altered.
Respondent reiterated that there was no compelling reason for her to make it
appear that her marriage to Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987,
because the fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got married before
complainant confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier
marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was
Carlos Ui who testified and admitted that he was the person responsible for
changing the date of the marriage certificate from 1987 to 1985, and
complainant did not present evidence to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on
this matter.
Respondent posits that complainants evidence, consisting of the pictures of
respondent with a child, pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a
garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS 313, a
picture of the same car, and portion of the house and ground, and another
picture of the same car bearing Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture of the house
and the garage, does not prove that she acted in an immoral manner. They
have no evidentiary value according to her. The pictures were taken by a
photographer from a private security agency and who was not presented
during the hearings. Further, the respondent presented the Resolution of the
Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint
filed by Leslie Ui against respondent for lack of evidence to establish probable
cause for the offense charged and the dismissal of the appeal by the
Department of Justice to bolster her argument that she was not guilty of any
immoral or illegal act because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine,
respondent claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui in good
[19]

[20]

[21]

faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, or


shameless, nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos
Ui whom she believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true
civil status, she parted ways with him.
In the Memorandum filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she
prayed for the disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent
committed immorality by having intimate relations with a married man which
resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant testified that respondents
mother, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and her husband
since the late 1970s because they were clients of the bank where Mrs.
Bonifacio was the Branch Manager. It was thus highly improbable that
respondent, who was living with her parents as of 1986, would not have been
informed by her own mother that Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant
likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards the
Commission for submitting a photocopy of a document containing an
intercalated date.
[22]

[23]

In her Reply to Complainants Memorandum , respondent stated that


complainant miserably failed to show sufficient proof to warrant her
disbarment. Respondent insists that contrary to the allegations of
complainant, there is no showing that respondent had knowledge of the fact of
marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The allegation that her mother knew
Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that such information was made
known to respondent.
[24]

Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline
submitted its Report and Recommendation, finding that:
In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was
courted by Carlos Ui, the latter represented himself to be single.
The Commission does not find said claim too difficult to believe in
the light of contemporary human experience.
Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he
represents himself to be single, separated, or without any firm

commitment to another woman. The reason therefor is not hard to


fathom. By their very nature, single women prefer single men.
The records will show that when respondent became aware the
(sic) true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left for the United States (in
July of 1988). She broke off all contacts with him. When she
returned to the Philippines in March of 1989, she lived with her
brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and respondent only
talked to each other because of the children whom he was
allowed to visit. At no time did they live together.
Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find
any act on the part of respondent that can be considered as
unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high
degree. To be sure, she was more of a victim that (sic) anything
else and should deserve compassion rather than condemnation.
Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of having a
normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by every single
girl.
x..........................x..........................x"
Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
issued a Notice of Resolution dated December 13, 1997, the dispositive
portion of which reads as follows:
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, the complaint for Gross
Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for knowingly and willfully
attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of Marriage with a
stern warning that a repetition of the same will merit a more
severe penalty."

We agree with the findings aforequoted.


The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to
enjoy the practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar
examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of
due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics.
The requisites for admission to the practice of law are:
a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines;
b. a resident thereof;
c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
d. a person of good moral character;
e. he must show that no charges against him involving
moral turpitude, are filed or pending in court;
f. possess the required educational qualifications; and
g. pass the bar examinations. (Italics supplied)
[25]

Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the
bar is that an applicant must possess good moral character. More importantly,
possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to
the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a
ground for the revocation of such privilege. It has been held If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar,
then the continued possession of good moral character is also a
requisite for retaining membership in the legal profession.
Membership in the bar may be terminated when a lawyer ceases
to have good moral character. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).
A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by
reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude". A

member of the bar should have moral integrity in addition to


professional probity.
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard
as to what is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral
delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of
continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what
appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may
not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.
Immoral conduct has been defined as "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." (7 C.J.S. 959).
[26]

In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she
met Carlos Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent fell in
love with him and they got married and as a result of such marriage, she gave
birth to two (2) children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos
Ui, she left him.
Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of
respondent are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect on how
the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps
morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before.
This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are
burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility and thus must handle
their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts of this case lead us to
believe that perhaps respondent would not have found herself in such a
compromising situation had she exercised prudence and been more vigilant in
finding out more about Carlos Uis personal background prior to her intimate
involvement with him.
Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused
respondents suspicion that something was amiss in her relationship with
Carlos Ui, and moved her to ask probing questions. For instance, respondent
admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with a woman from Amoy,

China, yet it appeared that she never exerted the slightest effort to find out if
Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also, despite their marriage
in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first child, a
circumstance that is simply incomprehensible considering respondents
allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her.
All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent
was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains
that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what respondent
believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality
connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and
the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. Moreover,
for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be "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.
[27]

[28]

We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only
required to refrain from adulterous relationships x x x but must also so behave
himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is
flouting those moral standards." Respondents act of immediately distancing
herself from Carlos Ui upon discovering his true civil status belies just that
alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no intention of flaunting
the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession. Complainants
bare assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the burden of proof
rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its disciplinary powers
only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory
evidence. This, herein complainant miserably failed to do.
[29]

[30]

On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to


her Answer, we find improbable to believe the averment of respondent that
she merely relied on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate which was
provided her by Carlos Ui. For an event as significant as a marriage
ceremony, any normal bride would verily recall the date and year of her
marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a lawyer as in the
case at bar, can forget the year when she got married. Simply stated, it is
contrary to human experience and highly improbable.

Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an


attachment to her pleading, especially so when she has personal
knowledge of the facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching such
Marriage Certificate with an intercalated date, the defense of good faith of
respondent on that point cannot stand.
It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest
standards of morality. The legal profession exacts from its members nothing
less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from
misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as
officers of the court demand no less than the highest degree of morality.
WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L.
Bonifacio, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED.
However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer a
photocopy of her Marriage Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date
thereof, with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction will be
imposed on her for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future.
SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

[SBC Case No. 519. July 31, 1997]

PATRICIA
FIGUEROA, complainant,
JR., respondent.

vs. SIMEON

BARRANCO,

RESOLUTION
ROMERO, J.:

In a complaint made way back in 1971, Patricia Figueroa petitioned that


respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. be denied admission to the legal
profession. Respondent had passed the 1970 bar examinations on the fourth
attempt, after unsuccessful attempts in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Before he could

take his oath, however, complainant filed the instant petition averring that
respondent and she had been sweethearts, that a child out of wedlock was
born to them and that respondent did not fulfill his repeated promises to marry
her.
The facts were manifested in hearings held before Investigator Victor F.
Sevilla in June and July 1971. Respondent and complainant were townmates
in Janiuay, Iloilo. Since 1953, when they were both in their teens, they were
steadies. Respondent even acted as escort to complainant when she reigned
as Queen at the 1953 town fiesta. Complainant first acceded to sexual
congress with respondent sometime in 1960. Their intimacy yielded a son,
Rafael Barranco, born on December 11, 1964. It was after the child was born,
complainant alleged, that respondent first promised he would marry her after
he passes the bar examinations. Their relationship continued and respondent
allegedly made more than twenty or thirty promises of marriage. He gave
onlyP10.00 for the child on the latters birthdays. Her trust in him and their
relationship ended in 1971, when she learned that respondent married
another woman. Hence, this petition.
[1]

Upon complainants motion, the Court authorized the taking of testimonies


of witnesses by deposition in 1972. On February 18, 1974, respondent filed a
Manifestation and Motion to Dismiss the case citing complainants failure to
comment on the motion of Judge Cuello seeking to be relieved from the duty
to take aforesaid testimonies by deposition. Complainant filed her comment
stating that she had justifiable reasons in failing to file the earlier comment
required and that she remains interested in the resolution of the present
case. On June 18, 1974, the Court denied respondents motion to dismiss.
On October 2, 1980, the Court once again denied a motion to dismiss on
the ground of abandonment filed by respondent on September 17, 1979.
Respondents third motion to dismiss was noted in the Courts Resolution
dated September 15, 1982. In 1988, respondent repeated his request, citing
his election as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Janiuay, Iloilo from
1980-1986, his active participation in civic organizations and good standing in
the community as well as the length of time this case has been pending as
reasons to allow him to take his oath as a lawyer.
[2]

[3]

[4]

On September 29, 1988, the Court resolved to dismiss the complaint for
failure of complainant to prosecute the case for an unreasonable period of
time and to allow Simeon Barranco, Jr. to take the lawyers oath upon payment
of the required fees.
[5]

Respondents hopes were again dashed on November 17, 1988 when the
Court, in response to complainants opposition, resolved to cancel his
scheduled oath-taking. On June 1, 1993, the Court referred the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation.
The IBPs report dated May 17, 1997 recommended the dismissal of the
case and that respondent be allowed to take the lawyers oath.
We agree.
Respondent was prevented from taking the lawyers oath in 1971 because
of the charges of gross immorality made by complainant. To recapitulate,
respondent bore an illegitimate child with his sweetheart, Patricia Figueroa,
who also claims that he did not fulfill his promise to marry her after he passes
the bar examinations.
We find that these facts do not constitute gross immorality warranting the
permanent exclusion of respondent from the legal profession. His engaging in
premarital sexual relations with complainant and promises to marry suggests
a doubtful moral character on his part but the same does not constitute
grossly immoral conduct. The Court has held that to justify suspension or
disbarment the act complained of must not only be immoral, but grossly
immoral. A grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to
constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be
reprehensible to a high degree. It is a willful, flagrant, or shameless act which
shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable members of the
community.
[6]

[7]

We find the ruling in Arciga v. Maniwang quite relevant because mere


intimacy between a man and a woman, both of whom possess no impediment
to marry, voluntarily carried on and devoid of any deceit on the part of
[8]

respondent, is neither so corrupt nor so unprincipled as to warrant the


imposition of disciplinary sanction against him, even if as a result of such
relationship a child was born out of wedlock.
[9]

Respondent and complainant were sweethearts whose sexual relations


were evidently consensual. We do not find complainants assertions that she
had been forced into sexual intercourse, credible. She continued to see and
be respondents girlfriend even after she had given birth to a son in 1964 and
until 1971. All those years of amicable and intimate relations refute her
allegations that she was forced to have sexual congress with
him. Complainant was then an adult who voluntarily and actively pursued their
relationship and was not an innocent young girl who could be easily led
astray. Unfortunately, respondent chose to marry and settle permanently with
another woman. We cannot castigate a man for seeking out the partner of his
dreams, for marriage is a sacred and perpetual bond which should be entered
into because of love, not for any other reason.
We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act of revenge of a
woman scorned, bitter and unforgiving to the end. It is also intended to make
respondent suffer severely and it seems, perpetually, sacrificing the profession
he worked very hard to be admitted into. Even assuming that his past
indiscretions are ignoble, the twenty-six years that respondent has been
prevented from being a lawyer constitute sufficient punishment
therefor. During this time there appears to be no other indiscretion attributed to
him. Respondent, who is now sixty-two years of age, should thus be allowed,
albeit belatedly, to take the lawyers oath.
[10]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. Respondent


Simeon Barranco, Jr. is ALLOWED to take his oath as a lawyer upon payment
of the proper fees.
SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

[A.C. No. 4585. November 12, 2004]

MICHAEL P. BARRIOS, complainant,


MARTINEZ, respondent

vs. ATTY.

FRANCISCO

P.

DECISION
PER CURIAM:

This is a verified petition for disbarment filed against Atty. Francisco


Martinez for having been convicted by final judgment in Criminal Case No.
6608 of a crime involving moral turpitude by Branch 8 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Tacloban City.
[1]

[2]

The dispositive portion of the same states:


WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused Francisco Martinez guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime for (sic) violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 charged in
the Information. He is imposed a penalty of ONE (1) YEAR imprisonment and fine
double the amount of the check which is EIGHT THOUSAND (8,000.00) PESOS,
plus payment of the tax pursuant to Section 205 of the Internal Revenue Code and
costs against the accused.
[3]

Complainant further submitted our Resolution dated 13 March 1996 and


the Entry of Judgment from this Court dated 20 March 1996.
On 03 July 1996, we required respondent to comment on said petition
within ten (10) days from notice. On 17 February 1997, we issued a second
resolution requiring him to show cause why no disciplinary action should be
imposed on him for failure to comply with our earlier Resolution, and to submit
said Comment. On 07 July 1997, we imposed a fine of P1,000 for respondents
failure to file said Comment and required him to comply with our previous
resolution within ten days. On 27 April 1998, we fined respondent an
additional P2,000 and required him to comply with the resolution requiring his
comment within ten days under pain of imprisonment and arrest for a period of
five (5) days or until his compliance. Finally, on 03 February 1999, or almost
three years later, we declared respondent Martinez guilty of Contempt under
Rule 71, Sec. 3[b] of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and ordered his
imprisonment until he complied with the aforesaid resolutions.
[4]

[5]

[6]

[7]

[8]

On 05 April 1999, the National Bureau of Investigation reported that


respondent was arrested in Tacloban City on 26 March 1999, but was
subsequently released after having shown proof of compliance with the
resolutions of 17 February 1997 and 27 April 1998 by remitting the amount of
P2,000 and submitting his long overdue Comment.
[9]

In the said Comment dated 16 March 1999, respondent stated that:


[10]

1. He failed to respond to our Resolution dated 17 February 1997 as he was at that


time undergoing medical treatment at Camp Ruperto Kangleon in Palo, Leyte;
2. Complainant Michael Barrios passed away sometime in June 1997; and
3. Said administrative complaint is an offshoot of a civil case which was decided in
respondents favor (as plaintiff in the said case). Respondent avers that as a result of
his moving for the execution of judgment in his favor and the eviction of the family of
herein complainant Michael Barrios, the latter filed the present administrative case.

In the meantime, on 11 September 1997, a certain Robert Visbal of the


Provincial Prosecution Office of Tacloban City submitted a letter to the First
Division Clerk of Court alleging that respondent Martinez also stood charged
in another estafa case before the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City,
Branch 9, as well as a civil case involving the victims of the Doa Paz tragedy
in 1987, for which the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Samar, Branch 30
rendered a decision against him, his appeal thereto having been dismissed by
the Court of Appeals.
[11]

In the said Decision of Branch 30 of the Regional Trial Court of


Basey, Samar, it appears that herein respondent Atty. Martinez offered his
legal services to the victims of the Doa Paz tragedy for free. However, when
the plaintiff in the said civil case was issued a check for P90,000 by Sulpicio
Lines representing compensation for the deaths of his wife and two
daughters, Atty. Martinez asked plaintiff to endorse said check, which was
then deposited in the account of Dr. Martinez, Atty. Martinezs wife. When
plaintiff asked for his money, he was only able to recover a total of
P30,000. Atty. Martinez claimed the remaining P60,000 as his attorneys
fees. Holding that it was absurd and totally ridiculous that for a simple legal
service he would collect 2/3 of the money claim, the trial court ordered Atty.
[12]

Martinez to pay the plaintiff therein the amount of P60,000 with interest,
P5,000 for moral and exemplary damages, and the costs of the suit.
Said trial court also made particular mention of Martinezs dilatory tactics
during the trial, citing fourteen (14) specific instances thereof. Martinezs
appeal from the above judgment was dismissed by the Court of Appeals for
his failure to file his brief, despite having been granted three thirty (30)-day
extensions to do so.
[13]

On 16 June 1999, we referred the present case to the Integrated Bar of


the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
[14]

The report of IBP Investigating Commissioner Winston D. Abuyuan stated


in part that:
[15]

Several dates for the hearing of the case were scheduled but none of the parties
appeared before the Commission, until finally it was considered submitted for
resolution last 27 June 2002. On the same date respondent filed a motion for the
dismissal of the case on the ground that the complainant died sometime in June 1997
and that dismissal is warranted because the case filed by him does not survive due to
his demise; as a matter of fact, it is extinguished upon his death.
We disagree with respondents contention.
Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court, the Honorable
Supreme Court or the IBP may motu proprio initiate the proceedings when they
perceive acts of lawyers which deserve sanctions or when their attention is called by
any one and a probable cause exists that an act has been perpetrated by a lawyer
which requires disciplinary sanctions.
As earlier cited, respondent lawyers propensity to disregard or ignore orders of the
Honorable Supreme Court for which he was fined twice, arrested and imprisoned
reflects an utter lack of good moral character.
Respondents conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude (estafa and/or violation
of BP Blg. 22) clearly shows his unfitness to protect the administration of justice and
therefore justifies the imposition of sanctions against him (see In re: Abesamis, 102

Phil. 1182; In re: Jaramillo, 101 Phil. 323; In re: Vinzon, 19 SCRA 815; Medina vs.
Bautista, 12 SCRA 1, People vs. Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360, 30 Jan. 1990).
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended that respondent
Atty. Francisco P. Martinez be disbarred and his name stricken out from the Roll of
Attorneys immediately.
On 27 September 2003, the IBP Board of Governors passed a
Resolution adopting and approving the report and recommendation of its
Investigating Commissioner.
[16]

On 03 December 2003, respondent Martinez filed a Motion for


Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation, in the instant case alleging that:
[17]

1. The Report and Recommendation of the IBP Investigating Commissioner is


tantamount to a deprivation of property without due process of law, although
admittedly the practice of law is a privilege;
2. If respondent is given another chance to have his day in court and allowed to
adduce evidence, the result/outcome would be entirely different from that arrived at
by the Investigating Commissioner; and
3. Respondent is now 71 years of age, and has served the judiciary in various
capacities (from acting city judge to Municipal Judges League Leyte Chapter
President) for almost 17 years prior to resuming his law practice.

On 14 January 2004, we required complainant to file a comment within


ten days. On 16 February 2004, we received a Manifestation and
Motion from complainants daughter, Diane Francis Barrios Latoja, alleging
that they had not been furnished with a copy of respondents Motion,
notwithstanding the fact that respondent ostensibly lives next door to
complainants family.Required to Comment on 17 May 2004, respondent has
until now failed to do so.
[18]

[19]

The records show that respondent, indeed, failed to furnish a copy of said
Motion to herein complainant. The records also show that respondent was
given several opportunities to present evidence by this Court as well as by
the IBP. Indeed, he only has himself to blame, for he has failed to present his
[20]

[21]

case despite several occasions to do so. It is now too late in the day for
respondent to ask this court to receive his evidence.
This court, moreover, is unwilling to exercise the same patience that it did
when it waited for his comment on the original petition. At any rate, after a
careful consideration of the records of the instant case, we find the evidence
on record sufficient to support the IBPs findings.
Under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may
be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court
for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly
immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before
admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a
superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party
to a case without authority to do so.
In the present case, respondent has been found guilty and convicted by
final judgment for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 for issuing a worthless check in the
amount of P8,000. The issue with which we are now concerned is whether or
not the said crime is one involving moral turpitude.
[22]

Moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice,


honesty, modesty, or good morals. It involves an act of baseness, vileness,
or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow men, or to
society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and
duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty,
modesty, or good morals.
[23]

[24]

In People of the Philippines v. Atty. Fe Tuanda, where the erring lawyer


was indefinitely suspended for having been convicted of three counts of
violation of B.P. Blg. 22, we held that conviction by final judgment of violation
of B.P. Blg. 22 involves moral turpitude and stated:
[25]

We should add that the crimes of which respondent was convicted also import
deceit and violation of her attorney's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility
under both of which she was bound to "obey the laws of the land." Conviction of a

crime involving moral turpitude might not (as in the instant case, violation of B.P. Blg.
22 does not) relate to the exercise of the profession of a lawyer; however, it certainly
relates to and affects the good moral character of a person convicted of such
offense (emphasis supplied)
[26]

Over ten years later, we reiterated the above ruling in Villaber v.


Commission on Elections and disqualified a congressional candidate for
having been sentenced by final judgment for three counts of violation of B.P.
Blg. 22 in accordance with Sec. 12 of the Omnibus Election Code, which
states:
[27]

SEC. 12. Disqualifications. Any person who has been declared by competent authority
insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion,
insurrection, rebellion, or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty
of more than eighteen months, or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be
disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given plenary
pardon or granted amnesty. (emphasis supplied)
Enumerating the elements of that crime, we held that the act of a person in
issuing a check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not
have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the check in full
upon its presentment, is a manifestation of moral turpitude. Notwithstanding
therein petitioners averment that he was not a lawyer, we nevertheless
applied our ruling in People v. Tuanda, to the effect that
(A) conviction for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, imports deceit and certainly relates to and
affects the good moral character of a person. [Indeed] the effects of the issuance of a
worthless check, as we held in the landmark case of Lozano v. Martinez, through
Justice Pedro L. Yap, transcends the private interests of the parties directly involved in
the transaction and touches the interests of the community at large. The mischief it
creates is not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public
since the circulation of valueless commercial papers can very well pollute the
channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking system and eventually hurt the
welfare of society and the public interest. Thus, paraphrasing Black's definition,
a drawer who issues an unfunded check deliberately reneges on his private duties he
owes his fellow men or society in a manner contrary to accepted and customary rule
of right and duty, justice, honesty or good morals. (emphasis supplied)
[28]

In the recent case of Barrientos v. Libiran-Meteoro, we stated that:


[29]

(T)he issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been drawn against a
closed account indicates a lawyers unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on
her. It shows a lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to render her
unworthy of public confidence. [Cuizon v. Macalino, A.C. No. 4334, 07 July
2004] The issuance of a series of worthless checks also shows the remorseless attitude
of respondent, unmindful to the deleterious effects of such act to the public interest
and public order. [Lao v. Medel, 405 SCRA 227] It also manifests a lawyers low regard
for her commitment to the oath she has taken when she joined her peers, seriously and
irreparably tarnishing the image of the profession she should hold in high esteem.
[Sanchez v. Somoso, A.C. No. 6061, 03 October 2003]
Clearly, therefore, the act of a lawyer in issuing a check without sufficient
funds to cover the same constitutes such willful dishonesty and immoral
conduct as to undermine the public confidence in law and lawyers. And while
the general rule is that a lawyer may not be suspended or disbarred, and the
court may not ordinarily assume jurisdiction to discipline him for misconduct in
his non-professional or private capacity, where, however, the misconduct
outside of the lawyer's professional dealings is so gross a character as to
show him morally unfit for the office and unworthy of the privilege which his
licenses and the law confer on him, the court may be justified in suspending or
removing him from the office of attorney.
[30]

The argument of respondent that to disbar him now is tantamount to a


deprivation of property without due process of law is also untenable. As
respondent himself admits, the practice of law is a privilege. The purpose of a
proceeding for disbarment is to protect the administration of justice by
requiring that those who exercise this important function shall be competent,
honorable and reliable; men in whom courts and clients may repose
confidence. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a
civil action where the complainant is plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a
defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no
redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for
the public welfare, and for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the
official ministrations of persons unfit to practice them. Verily, lawyers must at
all times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and
[31]

[32]

to their clients. Their conduct must always reflect the values and norms of the
legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. On
these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend lawyers for any
professional or private misconduct showing them to be wanting in moral
character, honesty, probity and good demeanor or to be unworthy to continue
as officers of the Court.
[33]

Nor are we inclined to look with favor upon respondents plea that if given
another chance to have his day in court and to adduce evidence, the
result/outcome would be entirely different from that arrived at. We note with
displeasure the inordinate length of time respondent took in responding to our
requirement to submit his Comment on the original petition to disbar
him. These acts constitute a willful disobedience of the lawful orders of this
Court, which under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is in itself a cause
sufficient for suspension or disbarment. Thus, from the time we issued our first
Resolution on 03 July 1996 requiring him to submit his Comment, until 16
March 1999, when he submitted said Comment to secure his release from
arrest, almost three years had elapsed.
It is revealing that despite the unwarranted length of time it took
respondent to comply, his Comment consists of all of two pages, a copy of
which, it appears, he neglected to furnish complainant. And while he claims
to have been confined while undergoing medical treatment at the time our
Resolution of 17 February 1997 was issued, he merely reserved the
submission of a certification to that effect. Nor, indeed, was he able to offer
any explanation for his failure to submit his Comment from the time we issued
our first Resolution of 03 July 1996 until 16 March 1999.In fact, said Comment
alleged, merely, that the complainant, Michael Barrios, passed away
sometime in June 1997, and imputed upon the latter unsupported ill-motives
for instituting the said Petition against him, which argument has already been
resolved squarely in the abovementioned IBP report.
[34]

Moreover, the IBP report cited the failure of both parties to appear before
the Commission as the main reason for the long delay, until the same was
finally submitted for Resolution on 27 June 2002. Respondent, therefore,
squandered away seven years to have his day in court and adduce evidence

in his behalf, which inaction also unduly delayed the courts prompt disposition
of this petition.
In Pajares v. Abad Santos, we reminded attorneys that there must be
more faithful adherence to Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court [now Rule
7, Section 3] which provides that the signature of an attorney constitutes a
certificate by him that he has read the pleading and that to the best of his
knowledge, information and belief, there is good ground to support it; and that
it is not interposed for delay, and expressly admonishes that for a willful
violation of this rule an attorney may be subjected to disciplinary action. It is
noteworthy that in the past, the Court has disciplined lawyers and judges for
willful disregard of its orders to file comments or appellants briefs, as a penalty
for disobedience thereof.
[35]

[36]

[37]

For the same reasons, we are disinclined to take respondents old age and
the fact that he served in the judiciary in various capacities in his favor. If at all,
we hold respondent to a higher standard for it, for a judge should be the
embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence, and his conduct
should be above reproach. The fact that respondent has chosen to engage
in private practice does not mean he is now free to conduct himself in less
honorable or indeed in a less than honorable manner.
[38]

[39]

We stress that membership in the legal profession is a privilege,


demanding a high degree of good moral character, not only as a condition
precedent to admission, but also as a continuing requirement for the practice
of law. Sadly, herein respondent falls short of the exacting standards
expected of him as a vanguard of the legal profession.
[40]

[41]

The IBP Board of Governors recommended that respondent be disbarred


from the practice of law. We agree.
We come now to the matter of the penalty imposable in this case. In Co v.
Bernardino and Lao v. Medel, we upheld the imposition of one years
suspension for non-payment of debt and issuance of worthless checks, or a
suspension of six months upon partial payment of the obligation. However, in
these cases, for various reasons, none of the issuances resulted in a
conviction by the erring lawyers for either estafa or B.P. Blg. 22. Thus, we held
[42]

therein that the issuance of worthless checks constitutes gross misconduct,


for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of
law.
In the instant case, however, herein respondent has been found
guilty and stands convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral
turpitude. In People v. Tuanda, which is similar to this case in that both
respondents were convicted for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 which we have held to
be such a crime, we affirmed the order of suspension from the practice of law
imposed by the Court of Appeals, until further orders.
However, in a long line of cases, some of which were decided
after Tuanda, we have held disbarment to be the appropriate penalty for
conviction by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude. Thus:
1. In In The Matter of Disbarment Proceedings v. Narciso N. Jaramillo, [43] we disbarred a
lawyer convicted of estafa without discussing the circumstances behind his
conviction. We held that:

There is no question that the crime of estafa involves moral turpitude. The review of
respondent's conviction no longer rests upon us. The judgment not only has become
final but has been executed. No elaborate argument is necessary to hold the
respondent unworthy of the privilege bestowed on him as a member of the bar. Suffice
it to say that, by his conviction, the respondent has proved himself unfit to protect the
administration of justice.
[44]

2. In In Re: Dalmacio De Los Angeles,[45] a lawyer was convicted of the crime of


attempted bribery in a final decision rendered by the Court of Appeals. And since
bribery is admittedly a felony involving moral turpitude (7 C.J.S., p. 736; 5 Am. Jur.
p. 428), this Court, much as it sympathizes with the plight of respondent, is
constrained to decree his disbarment as ordained by Section 25 of Rule 127.[46]
3. In Ledesma De Jesus-Paras v. Quinciano Vailoces,[47] the erring lawyer
acknowledged the execution of a document purporting to be a last will and
testament, which later turned out to be a forgery. He was found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of public document, which the Court
held to be a crime involving moral turpitude, said act being contrary to justice,
honesty and good morals, and was subsequently disbarred.

4. In In Re: Disbarment Proceedings Against Atty. Diosdado Q. Gutierrez, [48] Atty.


Gutierrez was convicted for murder. After serving a portion of the sentence, he was
granted a conditional pardon by the President. Holding that the pardon was not
absolute and thus did not reach the offense itself but merely remitted the
unexecuted portion of his term, the court nevertheless disbarred him.
5. In In Re: Atty. Isidro P. Vinzon,[49] Atty. Vinzon was convicted of the crime of estafa for
misappropriating the amount of P7,000.00, and was subsequently disbarred. We
held thus:

Upon the other hand, and dealing now with the merits of the case, there can be no
question that the term moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to
justice, honesty, or good morals. In essence and in all respects, estafa, no doubt, is a
crime involving moral turpitude because the act is unquestionably against justice,
honesty and good morals (In re Gutierrez, Adm. Case No. 263, July 31, 1962;
Bouvier's Law Dictionary; In re Basa, 41 Phil. 275-76). As respondent's guilt cannot
now be questioned, his disbarment is inevitable. (emphasis supplied)
[50]

6. In In Re: Attorney Jose Avancea,[51] the conditional pardon extended to the erring
lawyer by the Chief Executive also failed to relieve him of the penalty of disbarment
imposed by this court.
7. In In Re Disbarment of Rodolfo Pajo,[52] a lawyer was charged and found guilty of the
crime of falsification of public document for having prepared and notarized a deed of
sale of a parcel of land knowing that the supposed affiant was an impostor and that
the vendor had been dead for almost eight years. We ruled that disbarment follows
as a consequence of a lawyer's conviction by final judgment of a crime involving
moral turpitude, and since the crime of falsification of public document involves
moral turpitude, we ordered respondents name stricken off the roll of attorneys.
8. In Adelina T. Villanueva v. Atty. Teresita Sta. Ana,[53] we upheld the recommendation
of the IBP Board of Governors to disbar a lawyer who had been convicted
of estafa through falsification of public documents, because she was totally unfit to
be a member of the legal profession.[54]
9. In Victoriano P. Resurreccion v. Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson,[55] a lawyer was disbarred for
having been convicted of estafa by final judgment for misappropriating the funds of
his client.

In this case as well, we find disbarment to be the appropriate penalty. Of


all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the
laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to

repudiate and override the laws, to trample them underfoot and to ignore the
very bands of society, argues recreancy to his position and office and sets a
pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous elements of the body
politic.
[56]

WHEREFORE,
respondent
Atty.
Francisco
P.
Martinez
is
hereby DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of
Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the respondents record as
a member of the Bar, and notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation
to all courts in the country.
SO ORDERED.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
A.C. No. 6057

June 27, 2006

PETER T. DONTON, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. EMMANUEL O. TANSINGCO, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a disbarment complaint against respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco
("respondent") for serious misconduct and deliberate violation of Canon 1,1 Rules
1.012 and 1.023 of the Code of Professional Responsibility ("Code").
The Facts
In his Complaint dated 20 May 2003, Peter T. Donton ("complainant") stated that
he filed a criminal complaint for estafa thru falsification of a public
document4 against Duane O. Stier ("Stier"), Emelyn A. Maggay ("Maggay") and
respondent, as the notary public who notarized the Occupancy Agreement.

The disbarment complaint arose when respondent filed a counter-charge for


perjury5 against complainant. Respondent, in his affidavit-complaint, stated that:
5. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT dated September 11, 1995 was prepared
and notarized by me under the following circumstances:
A. Mr. Duane O. Stier is the owner and long-time resident of a real property
located at No. 33 Don Jose Street, Bgy. San Roque, Murphy, Cubao,
Quezon City.
B. Sometime in September 1995, Mr. Stier a U.S. citizen and thereby
disqualified to own real property in his name agreed that the property
be transferred in the name of Mr. Donton, a Filipino.
C. Mr. Stier, in the presence of Mr. Donton, requested me to prepare
several documents that would guarantee recognition of him being the
actual owner of the property despite the transfer of title in the name of Mr.
Donton.
D. For this purpose, I prepared, among others, the OCCUPANCY
AGREEMENT, recognizing Mr. Stiers free and undisturbed use of the
property for his residence and business operations. The OCCUPANCY
AGREEMENT was tied up with a loan which Mr. Stier had extended to Mr.
Donton.6
Complainant averred that respondents act of preparing the Occupancy
Agreement, despite knowledge that Stier, being a foreign national, is disqualified
to own real property in his name, constitutes serious misconduct and is a
deliberate violation of the Code. Complainant prayed that respondent be
disbarred for advising Stier to do something in violation of law and assisting Stier
in carrying out a dishonest scheme.
In his Comment dated 19 August 2003, respondent claimed that complainant
filed the disbarment case against him upon the instigation of complainants
counsel, Atty. Bonifacio A. Alentajan,7 because respondent refused to act as
complainants witness in the criminal case against Stier and Maggay.
Respondent admitted that he "prepared and notarized" the Occupancy
Agreement and asserted its genuineness and due execution.

In a Resolution dated 1 October 2003, the Court referred the matter to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation.
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
In her Report dated 26 February 2004 ("Report"), Commissioner Milagros V. San
Juan ("Commissioner San Juan") of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found
respondent liable for taking part in a "scheme to circumvent the constitutional
prohibition against foreign ownership of land in the Philippines." Commissioner
San Juan recommended respondents suspension from the practice of law for
two years and the cancellation of his commission as Notary Public.
In Resolution No. XVI-2004-222 dated 16 April 2004, the IBP Board of Governors
adopted, with modification, the Report and recommended respondents
suspension from the practice of law for six months.
On 28 June 2004, the IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court
as provided under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B8 of the Rules of Court.
On 28 July 2004, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration before the IBP.
Respondent stated that he was already 76 years old and would already retire by
2005 after the termination of his pending cases. He also said that his practice of
law is his only means of support for his family and his six minor children.
In a Resolution dated 7 October 2004, the IBP denied the motion for
reconsideration because the IBP had no more jurisdiction on the case as the
matter had already been referred to the Court.
The Ruling of the Court
The Court finds respondent liable for violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the
Code.
A lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client which will
involve defiance of the laws which he is bound to uphold and obey.9 A lawyer who
assists a client in a dishonest scheme or who connives in violating the law
commits an act which justifies disciplinary action against the lawyer.10

By his own admission, respondent admitted that Stier, a U.S. citizen, was
disqualified from owning real property.11Yet, in his motion for
reconsideration,12 respondent admitted that he caused the transfer of ownership
to the parcel of land to Stier. Respondent, however, aware of the prohibition,
quickly rectified his act and transferred the title in complainants name. But
respondent provided "some safeguards" by preparing several
documents,13including the Occupancy Agreement, that would guarantee Stiers
recognition as the actual owner of the property despite its transfer in
complainants name. In effect, respondent advised and aided Stier in
circumventing the constitutional prohibition against foreign ownership of
lands14 by preparing said documents.
Respondent had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thus, he violated his oath and
the Code when he prepared and notarized the Occupancy Agreement to evade
the law against foreign ownership of lands. Respondent used his knowledge of
the law to achieve an unlawful end. Such an act amounts to malpractice in his
office, for which he may be suspended.15
In Balinon v. De Leon,16 respondent Atty. De Leon was suspended from the
practice of law for three years for preparing an affidavit that virtually permitted
him to commit concubinage. In In re: Santiago,17 respondent Atty. Santiago was
suspended from the practice of law for one year for preparing a contract which
declared the spouses to be single again after nine years of separation and
allowed them to contract separately subsequent marriages.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco GUILTY of
violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco from the
practice of law for SIX MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be
appended to respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their
information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.