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A.C. No.

10134

November 26, 2014

PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF COURT EMPLOYEES (PACE), represented by its President, ATTY.


VIRGINIA
C.
RAFAEL, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. EDNA M. ALIBUTDAN-DIAZ, Respondent.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This resolves the complaint for suspension or disbarment filed by the Philippine Association of Court
Employees (PACE) through its president, Atty. Virginia C. Rafael (Atty. Rafael), on July 17, 2008 against
Atty. Edna M. Alibutdan-Diaz (Atty. Diaz), former National Treasurer of PACE, before the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP).1
PACE, the umbrella association of 1st and 2nd level court employees in the Judiciary held its 11th
National Convention/Seminar in Davao City from October 6 to 8, 2005. As then National Treasurer of
PACE, Atty. Diaz was entrusted with all the money matters of PACE.
The complainant alleged that the liquidation for the 11th PACE national convention was submitted by Atty.
Diaz only on March 29, 2007, during the 12th PACE national convention in Iloilo City 2; that during the 12th
convention, an election of officers was conducted and Atty. Diaz ran for the position of National Treasurer,
but she was not elected; that on the last day of the convention or on March 31, 2007,the outgoing Board
of Directors, including Atty. Diaz, passed and approved Resolution No. 1-2007 appropriating the amount
of 30,000.00as term-end bonus for each PACE official qualified thereto; that Atty. Diaz did not submit a
liquidation report for the 12th convention; that there was no turn over of monies belonging to the
association as a matter of procedure despite a letter of demand, dated June 20, 2007 sent to Atty.
Diaz;3 and that the new set of PACE officers issued Board Resolution No. 00-07 directing past president,
Rosita D. Amizola; and past treasurer, Atty. Diaz, to explain why they failed to liquidate the finances of
PACE for the Davao and Iloilo conventions.4
In her defense, Atty. Diaz countered that she had filed the Statement of Liquidation for the 11th national
convention in Davao in less than a week after the said convention; that it was duly audited by the national
auditor, Letecia Agbayani; that the net proceeds of that convention was "fully accounted, liquidated and
entirely deposited to PACE accounts;"5 that she also filed the Statement of Liquidation for the 12th
national convention on May 22, 2007; that the report, together with the cash, checks and original receipts,
were received by Rosita Amisola and witnessed by former PACE officers; 6 that she denied running for reelection as PACE national treasurer during the Iloilo convention as she had already filed her certificate of
candidacy for Board Member of the First District of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay; 7 that the approval of
the P30,000.00 term-end bonus did not rest with her solely, rather, it was approved by the previous board
of directors; and that she never sponsored the bonus, as it was initiated by Aliven Maderaza and
seconded by Atty. Lourdes Garcia and Sarah Ampong.
On her part, Atty. Garcia averred that she was not privy to the disbursement of the said term-end bonus. 8
Initially, the case was assigned to IBP Commissioner Elpidio G. Soriano. After an exchange of pleadings,
the mandatory conference was held. Afterwards, the protagonists were directed to submit their respective

position papers. Thereafter, the case was re-assigned to IBP Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez
(Commissioner Fernandez).9
The lone issue here is whether or not Atty. Diaz violated Chapter 1, Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (CPR), which reads:
"A lawyer should not engage in an unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."
In his Report and Recommendation, dated June 28, 2010, Commissioner Fernandez recommended the
dismissal of the case against Atty. Diaz for lack of merit. Atty. Diaz offered documentary evidence to show
that she was able to submit the liquidation reports for the two aforementioned conventions of PACE. He
also took note that Atty. Rafael herself acknowledged the liquidation report made by Atty. Diaz with
respect to the Davao City convention. 10As to the sufficiency and completeness of these reports, this would
be better resolvedthrough an audit rather than in disbarment proceedings.1wphi1 Besides,
Commissioner Fernandez did not consider the position of Atty. Diaz as national treasurer of PACE to have
any connection with her being as a lawyer. Thus, according to him, she should be sanctioned in
accordance with the by-laws of PACE instead of a disbarment case. 11
As regards the accusation that Atty. Diaz ran for re-election in the PACE elections even though she was
no longer connected with the Judiciary and therefore disqualified, Commissioner Fernandez opined that
the best evidence, which was the "certificate of candidacy," was never offered, 12 and that Atty. Diaz, being
a lawyer, knew that her bid for re-election would be a useless exercise since she would not beable to
assume office if she won.13
Finally, Commissioner Fernandez believed Atty. Diazs assertion that she never sponsored the
appropriation of the 30,000.00 term-end bonus and that the approval of Resolution No. 1-2007 was a
collegial action among the Board of Directors. Again, Commissioner Fernandez was of the view that her
participation in the passage of the questioned board resolution was not connected to her being a lawyer. 14
On November 19, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors (IBP-BOG) passed a resolution adopting and
approving the report and recommendation of Commissioner Fernandez, and dismissed the complaint
against Atty. Diaz.15
On reconsideration, the IBP-BOG issued the Extended Resolution,16 dated June 21, 2013, granting the
complainants motion for reconsideration. It reversedand set asideits earlier resolution and suspended
Atty. Diaz from the practice of law for one (1) year.17
The IBP-BOG explained that the questions regarding (i) Atty. Diaz liquidation of PACE funds;(ii) her
running for re-election when she was no longer with the Judiciary; and (iii) her entitlement to the term-end
bonus when she was no longer working in the Judiciary, constituted a "triple -whammy" of questionable
actions18 committed by Atty. Diaz in contravention of Rule 1.01 of the CPR.
The Courts Ruling
This Court agrees with the IBP-BOG and adopts its June 21, 2013 Extended Resolution. Everyone should
keep in mind that the practice of law is only a privilege. It is definitely not a right. Inorder to enjoy this
privilege, one must show that he possesses, and continues to possess, the qualifications required by law
for the conferment of such privilege.

One of those requirements is the observance of honesty and candor. Candor in all their dealings is the
very essence of a practitioner's honorable membership in the legal profession. Lawyers are required to
act with the highest standard of truthfulness, fair play and nobility in the conduct of litigation and in their
relations with their clients, the opposing parties, the other counsels and the courts. They are bound by
their oath to speak the truth and to conduct themselves according to the best of their knowledge and
discretion, and with fidelity to the courts and their clients. 19 Time and again, the Court has held that the
practice of law is granted only to those of good moral character. The Bar maintains a high standard of
honesty and fair dealing. Thus, lawyers must conduct themselves beyond reproach at all times, whether
they are dealing with their clients or the public at large, and a violation of the high moral standards of the
legal profession justifies the imposition of the appropriate penalty, including suspension and disbarment. 20
It bears stressing that Atty. Diaz is a servant of the law and belongs to that profession which society
entrusts with the administration of law and the dispensation of justice. For this, he or she is an exemplar
for others to emulate and should not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Necessarily, this Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity and good moral character from
members of the Bar. They are always expected to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession
and to refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the public
in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of this noble profession. 21
Atty. Diaz' delay in the liquidation of the finances of PACE; her running for re-election, including her nonadmission that she ran for said election as shown not by her certificate of candidacy but by the affidavits
of former PACE officers; and her involvement in the approval or passage of the questioned term-end
bonus of PACE officers, including herself even though she was no longer working in the Judiciary, were
definitely not the candor the Court speaks of. There was much to be desired in Atty. Diaz' actions/
inactions.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Edna M. Alibutdan-Diaz is found GUILTY of violating Chapter 1, Canon 1, Rule 1.01
of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
period of three (3) months.
This decision shall be immediately executory.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Court Administrator for its distribution to all courts of the land;
the IBP; and the Office of the Bar Confidant to be entered into respondent's personal records as a
member of the Philippine Bar.
SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 7919

October 8, 2014

DOMADO
DISOMIMBA
vs.
ATTY. CASAN MACABANDING, Respondent.

SULTAN, Complainant,

DECISION
REYES, J.:
This is an administrative complaint1 filed on May 14, 2008 before the Office of the Bar Confidant by
Domado Disomimba Sultan (complainant) against Atty. Casan Macabanding (respondent) for allegedly
having notarized a falsified affidavit.
The Facts
According to the complainant, he ran for the position of Mayor for the Municipality of Buadipuso Buntong,
Lanao del Sur in 2007. He filed his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) dated March 29, 2007 with the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for the May 14, 2007 elections. 2 Thereafter, an Affidavit of
Withdrawal of Certificate of Candidacy for Municipal Mayor 3 (Affidavit of Withdrawal) dated April 10, 2007
was notarized and submitted by the respondent to the COMELEC, withdrawing the complainants
candidacy without the latters knowledge or authorization.
When the complainant learned of this, he wrote a letter 4 dated April 18, 2007 and submitted an
Affidavit5 to Mamangcoday Colangcag (Colangcag), Acting Election Officer of the COMELEC in
Buadipuso Buntong, Lanao del Sur. The complainant alleged that he neither executed the Affidavit of
Withdrawal nor authorized anybody to prepare a document to withdraw his COC. He asked that the
withdrawal be ignored and that his name be retained on the list of candidates.
On May 16, 2007, the complainant filed a petition with the COMELEC to count the votes cast in his favor.
The complainant also filed a criminal complaint on May 17, 2007 withthe Prosecutors Office of Marawi
City against Abdulmojib Moti Mariano (Mariano) who was another candidate for the mayoralty position,the
respondent, and Colangcag for Falsification of Public Documents. 6 Information7 was thereby filed against
the respondent and Colangcag which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 5842-08 in the Regional Trial
Court of Lanao Del Sur, Marawi City.
Meanwhile, the COMELEC Second Division found merit in the complainants petition and ordered the
reinstatement of his name in the list of candidates for the position of mayor in its Resolution 8 dated June
12, 2007. All votes cast in favor of the complainant were also counted. Thus, Mariano elevated the matter
to the COMELEC en banc, which issued a subpoenarequiring the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
to study the signature appearing on the Affidavit ofWithdrawal. Subsequently, the NBI transmitted its
Questioned Documents Report No. 428-9079 to the COMELEC en banc, stating that the signature in the
Affidavit of
Withdrawal and the specimen signatures of the complainant were not written by one and the same
person.10

On May 14, 2008, the complainant filed the present administrative complaint against the respondent with
prayer for his disbarment. After the respondent filed his comment 11 on the complaint, the case was
referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline for investigation,
report and recommendation.12
The respondent countered that the instant administrative case was filed against him as political
harassment because his family supported the complainants opponent, Mariano. 13 He admitted that he
notarized the affidavit after it was signed by the complainant voluntarily and in the presence of witnesses
and thereafter, submitted the same to the COMELEC. However, the complainant changed his mind when
Mariano, who was the only remaining mayoralty candidate, refused to pay millions of pesos to the
complainant.14 The respondent withheld the identity of the witnesses allegedly to avoid problems within
their family.
On July 1, 2009, the Investigating Commissioner issued a Report and Recommendation, 15 recommending
"that the respondent be suspended from the active practice of law for six (6) months and two (2) years as
notary public."16
On May 15, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XIX-2011-297 17 adopting the
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE,as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made
part of this Resolution as Annex "A" and finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
record and the applicable lawsand rules, and considering respondents irregular notarization and
submission of complainants Affidavit of Withdrawal of Certificate of Candidacy to the COMELEC without
complainants knowledge and authorization, Atty. Casan Macabanding is hereby SUSPENDEDfrom the
practice of law for six (6) months and SUSPENDEDfrom being commissioned as Notary Public for two (2)
years.18
The respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration, 19 which the IBP Board of Governors denied inits
Resolution No. XX-2014-7620 dated March 8, 2014 for being a mere reiteration of matters already
threshed out and taken into consideration.21
Issue
WHETHER THE RESPONDENT SHOULD BE HELD ADMINISTRATIVELY LIABLE BASED ON THE
ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT.
Ruling of the Court
The Court agrees with the findings of the IBP but modify the penalty imposed.
The complainant presented the findings of the NBI which are hereunder reproduced:
FINDINGS:
Laboratory and scientific comparative examination of the specimens submitted, under stereoscopic
microscope and magnifying lenses, with the aid of photographic enlargements (Comparison charts),

reveal that there exist fundamental, significant differences in writing characteristics/habits between the
questioned signature "DOMADO DISOMIMBA" (written in Arabic characters/alphabet), on one hand, and
the sample specimen signatures "DOMADO DISOMIMBA" (written in Arabic characters/alphabet), on the
other hand, such as in:
- Structural pattern of characters/elements
- Direction of strokes
- Proportion characteristics
- Other minute identifying details
CONCLUSION:
Based on the above FINDINGS, the questioned signature "DOMADO DISOMIMBA" (written in Arabic
characters/alphabet), on one hand, and the sample specimen signatures "DOMADO DISOMIMBA"
(written in Arabic characters/alphabet), on the other hand, WERE NOT WRITTEN by one and the same
person.22(Underscoring and emphasis in the original)
The respondent maintained that the NBI officer who examined the complainants signature is not an
expert in Arabic language and thus, could not give an expert opinion regarding a signature written in
Arabic language.23
On this score, the Court refers to Mayor Abdulmojib Moti Mariano v. Commission on Elections and
Domado Disomimba Sultan,24 wherein the Court resolved with finality the dismissal of Marianos petition
before the Court alleging that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction in ordering the complainants reinstatement in the list of mayoralty candidates.
Marianos petition challenged the issuances of the COMELEC which were anchored on its finding that the
affidavit of withdrawal of candidacy imputed to the complainant was forged. It was dismissed by the Court
in the Resolution dated August 19, 2008. OnOctober 9, 2008, the complainant was then proclaimed as
the duly-elected mayor of Buadiposo Buntong, Lanao del Sur, having obtained the highest number of
votes (4,078). Mariano filed a motion for reconsideration claiming that the COMELECs failure to avail of
the services of anArabic expert was tantamount to grave abuse of discretion. 25 The Court denied the
motion and addressed the issue raised in this wise:
Contrary to petitioners basic stance, a handwriting expert does not have to be a linguist at the same
time.To be credible, a handwriting expert need not be familiar with the language used in the document
subject of his examination. The nature of his examination involves the study and comparison of strokes,
the depth and pressure points of the alleged forgery, as compared to the specimen or original handwriting
or signatures.26 (Emphasis and underscoring ours)
In administrative cases against lawyers, the quantum of proof required is preponderance of evidence. In
Rodica v. Lazaro,27 the Court expounded:
In Siao v. Atty. De Guzman, Jr., this Court reiterated its oft[-] repeated ruling that in suspension or
disbarment proceedings, lawyers enjoy the presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof rests upon

the complainant to clearly prove her allegations by preponderant evidence. Elaborating on the required
quantum ofproof, this Court declared thus:
Preponderance of evidence means that the evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior to or
has greater weight than that of the other. It means evidence which is more convincing to the court as
worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto. Under Section 1 of Rule 133, in
determining whether or not there is preponderance of evidence, the court may consider the following: (a)
all the facts and circumstances of the case; (b) the witnesses manner of testifying, their intelligence, their
means and opportunity ofknowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which
they testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony; (c) the witnesses interest or want of interest,
and also their personal credibility so far as the same may ultimately appear in the trial; and (d) the number
of witnesses, although it does not mean that preponderance is necessarily with the greater number.
x x x x28 (Citation omitted)
The complainant adduced preponderantevidence that his signature was indeed forged in an affidavit
which the respondent notarized and submitted to the COMELEC. Consequently, the respondent should
be held administratively liable for his action. "Where the notary public is a lawyer, a graver responsibility is
placed upon his shoulder by reason of his solemn oath to obey the laws and to do no falsehood or
consent to the doing of any.1wphi1The Code of Professional Responsibility also commands him not to
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct and to uphold at all times the integrity and
dignity of the legal profession." 29 "It should be noted that a notary publics function should not be trivialized
and a notary public must discharge his powers and duties which are impressed with public interest, with
accuracy and fidelity. A notary public exercises duties calling for carefulness and faithfulness. Notaries
must inform themselves of the facts they certify to; most importantly, they should not take part or allow
themselves tobe part of illegal transactions." 30 In fact, the respondent admitted that the affidavit was
notarized in his office without the presence of the complainant. 31
In Carlito Ang v. Atty. James Joseph Gupana, 32 the respondent therein was suspended from the practice
of law for one year; his notarial commission was revoked and he was also disqualified from reappointment
as notary public for a period of two years for notarizing an affidavit of loss without the presence of the
party acknowledging the document.
The same sanctions were imposed against the erring lawyer in Agbulos v. Viray,33 where the respondent
therein admitted "that not only did he prepare and notarize the subject affidavit but he likewise notarized
the same without the affiants personal appearance. He explained that he did so merely upon the
assurance of his client Dollente that the document was executed by complainant." 34
In Isenhardt v. Real,35 the respondent therein was subjected to similar penalties when he notarized a
Special Power of Attorney (SPA) supposedly executed by the complainant. It was proven by documentary
evidence that the complainant was in Germany at that time and therefore could not have appeared before
the respondentto have the SPA notarized.
The complainant in Linco v. Lacebal36 filed an administrative case against the respondent notary public for
notarizing a deed of donation despite the latters knowledge that the purported donor had already passed
away on an earlier date. For this reason, the respondents notarial commission was revoked and he was
disqualified from being commissioned as a notary public for a period of two years. Furthermore,he was
suspended from the practice of law for one year. Thus, based on prevailing jurisprudence, the penalties

meted out against a lawyer commissioned as a notary public who fails to discharge his duties as such
are: the revocation of 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.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Casan Macabanding is found administratively liable for misconduct and is
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year. Further, his notarial commission, if any, is
REVOKED and he is DISQUALIFIED from reappointment as Notary Public for a period of two (2) years,
with a stem warning that repetition of the same or similar conduct in the future will be dealt with more
severely. He is DIRECTED to report to this Court the date of his receipt of this Decision to enable it to
determine when the revocation of his notarial commission and his disqualification from being
commissioned as notary public shall take effect.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, and all courts all over the country. Let a copy of this Decision likewise be attached to the
personal records of Atty. Casan Macabanding.
SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 10438, September 23, 2014


CF
SHARP
CREW
TORRES,Respondent.

MANAGEMENT

INCORPORATED, Complainant, v. NICOLAS

C.

DECISION
PER CURIAM:
For the Courts resolution is the Complaint1 dated October 30, 2008 filed by complainant CF Sharp Crew
Management Incorporated (complainant) against respondent Nicolas C. Torres (respondent), charging
him with violating the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).
The Facts
Complainant is a corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine laws engaged in overseas
maritime employment.2 It hired respondent, a medical doctor and a lawyer by profession, as its Legal and
Claims Manager who was tasked, inter alia, to serve as its legal counsel and to oversee the
administration and management of legal cases and medical-related claims instituted by seafarers against
complainants various principals. Among the cases respondent handled in his capacity as Legal and
Claims Manager were the claims of seafarers Bernardo R. Mangi (Mangi), Rodelio J. Sampani (Sampani),
Joseph
C.
Delgado
(Delgado),
and
Edmundo
M.
Chua
(Chua). 3cralawlawlibrary
In its administrative complaint, it was alleged that per respondents request, complainant issued checks in
the amounts of P524,000.00, P652,013.20, P145,650.00, P97,100.00, and P296,808.40 as settlement of
the respective claims of Mangi, Sampani, Delgado, and Chua. 4 However, complainant later discovered
that, save for the check in the amount of P145,650.00 issued to Delgado, respondent never gave the
checks to the seafarers and instead, had them deposited at International Exchange Bank, Banawe,
Quezon City Branch, under Account No. 003-10-06902-1. 5 With respect to Sampani, complainant also
discovered that he only received the amounts of P216,936.00 and P8,303.00 or a total of P225,239.00
out of the requested amount of P652,013.20, through checks not issued by complainant. 6cralawlawlibrary
On October 30, 2008, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline directly
received the instant complaint and on even date, issued an Order 7 requiring respondent to file an answer,
but the latter failed to do so. Neither did respondent appear in the mandatory conference scheduled on
March 20, 2009 nor did he file his position paper.8cralawlawlibrary
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
In a Report and Recommendation9 dated August 1, 2009, the IBP Investigating Commissioner found
respondent administratively liable for violating the CPR, and accordingly recommended that he be meted
the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year. 10cralawlawlibrary
The Investigating Commissioner found that respondent had indeed requested and was issued checks as
settlement of the respective claims of Mangi, Sampani, Delgado, and Chua on the pretense that the
requested amounts represented what was lawfully due them. 11 However, instead of giving the said checks
to the named seafarers, he deposited the same at the International Exchange Bank, Banawe, Quezon
City Branch, under Account No. 003-10-06902-1, 12 except for the check in the amount of P145,650.00
issued
to
Delgado.13cralawlawlibrary
Meanwhile, respondent belatedly filed his Verified Answer (With Motion to Re-Open Investigation) 14on
March 24, 2010. He explained that he was not able to timely file an answer because complainant supplied
a wrong address to the IBP and filed non-bailable criminal cases against him which caused his detention
in a regular prison cell and, thus, his inability to comply with the IBPs directives. 15cralawlawlibrary

On the merits of the complaint, respondent maintained that the seafarers claims had long been settled
and that the release documents signed by the named seafarers were already in actual custody and
possession of the complainant.16 He further contended that he only signed the dorsal portions of the
checks as a form of guaranty of their genuineness 17 and that he could not have encashed them as they
were all payable to a particular payee. 18 Lastly, respondent claimed that when he resigned in August
2008, complainant forced him to sign promissory notes to reimburse certain amounts which had not been
accounted for by the latter in exchange for his clearance documents. 19 But before he was able to settle
the promissory notes, he was already arrested in connection with the criminal cases filed by complainant
against
him.20cralawlawlibrary
In a Resolution21 dated December 29, 2012, the IBP Board of Governors unanimously adopted and
approved the aforesaid report and recommendation with modification, increasing the recommended
period of suspension from the practice of law to two (2) years, and ordering respondent to return the full
amount of money he received from complainant which is legally due to the seafarers, with legal interest,
within
thirty
(30)
days
from
receipt
of
notice.
Aggrieved, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration 22 on April 22, 2013 which was, however, denied
in a Resolution23 dated March 8, 2014.
The Issue Before the Court
The essential issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for
violating the CPR.
The Courts Ruling
After a judicious perusal of the records, the Court concurs with the findings of the IBP in its report and
recommendation, except as to: (a) the recommended penalty to be imposed upon respondent; and (b) the
monetary
award
in
favor
of
the
complainant.
It is fundamental that the relationship between a lawyer and his client is highly fiduciary and ascribes to a
lawyer a great degree of fidelity and good faith. 24 The highly fiduciary nature of this relationship imposes
upon the lawyer the duty to account for the money or property collected or received for or from his
client.25 This is the standard laid down by Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the CPR, which
read:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
CANON 16 A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT
THAT
MAY
COME
INTO
HIS
POSSESSION.
Rule 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client.
Rule 16.03 A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. x x x.
In the foregoing light, it has been held that a lawyers failure to return upon demand the funds held by him
on behalf of his client gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use in
violation of the trust reposed in him by his client. Such act is a gross violation of general morality as well
as
of
professional
ethics.26cralawlawlibrary
In this case, the IBP Investigating Commissioner correctly found that complainant had duly proven its
charges against respondent. In particular, complainant had exposed respondents modus operandi of
repeatedly requesting the issuance of checks purportedly for the purpose of settling seafarers claims
against the complainants various principals, only to have such checks (except for the check in the
amount of P145,650.00 issued to Delgado) deposited to an unauthorized bank account, particularly
International Exchange Bank, Banawe, Quezon City Branch, under Account No. 003-10-06902-1. It is
well-settled that when a lawyer receives money from the client for a particular purpose, the lawyer is

bound to render an accounting to the client showing that the money was spent for a particular purpose.
And if he does not use the money for the intended purpose, the lawyer must immediately return the
money
to
his
client.27 This,
respondent
failed
to
do.
Clearly, respondents acts of misappropriation constitute dishonesty, abuse of trust and confidence
reposed in him by the complainant, and betrayal of his clients interests which he is duty-bound to
protect.28 They are contrary to the mandate of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR which provides that [a]
lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct. Such malfeasance is not
only unacceptable, disgraceful, and dishonorable to the legal profession; it also reveals a basic moral flaw
that
makes
him
unfit
to
practice
law.29cralawlawlibrary
Anent the proper penalty for respondents acts, the Court deems it proper to modify the penalty
recommended by the IBP. Jurisprudence provides that in similar cases where lawyers misappropriated
their clients money, the Court imposed upon them the ultimate penalty of disbarment from the practice of
law. In Arellano University, Inc. v. Mijares III,30 the Court disbarred the lawyer for misappropriating his
clients money intended for securing a certificate of title on the latters behalf. Similarly, in Freeman v.
Reyes,31 the same penalty was imposed upon the lawyer who misappropriated the insurance proceeds of
her
clients
deceased
husband.
As already discussed, respondents conduct of misappropriating complainants money has made him unfit
to remain in the legal profession. He has definitely fallen below the moral bar when he engaged in
deceitful, dishonest, unlawful, and grossly immoral acts. 32 As a member of the Bar, he is expected at all
times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or omission which
might lessen the trust and confidence reposed in him by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of
the legal profession.33 Membership in the legal profession is a privilege, and whenever it is made to
appear that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of his clients and the public, it
becomes not only the right but also the duty of the Court to withdraw the same, 34 as in this case. In view
of the foregoing, respondent deserves the ultimate penalty of disbarment from the practice of law.
Likewise, the Court cannot concur with the IBPs recommendation regarding the return of the settlement
money respondent received from complainant, considering, among others, that it was not specifically
prayed for in the latters administrative complaint and that the civil liability of respondent therefor may
already
be
the
subject
of
existing
cases
involving
the
same
parties.
WHEREFORE, respondent Nicolas C. Torres is found guilty of violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1 and Rules
16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is
herebyDISBARRED from the practice of law and his name ordered STRICKEN OFF from the roll of
attorneys.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondents record in this Court as attorney. Further, let copies
of this Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court
Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all the courts in the country for their information and
guidance.
SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 7337, September 29, 2014


ROLANDO VIRAY, Complainant, v. ATTY. EUGENIO T. SANICAS, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
This is a verified Complaint for Disbarment/Gross Immoral Conduct 1 filed with this Court on September
18, 2006 by complainant Rolando Viray (complainant) against respondent Atty. Eugenio T. Sanicas
(respondent).
Factual

Antecedents

Complainant alleges that he engaged the services of respondent relative to a labor case 2 he filed against
Ester Lopez and Teodoro Lopez III (spouses Lopez). On February 26, 2001, the Labor Arbiter ruled in
favor of complainant and disposed of the case as follows:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering respondents Ester Lopez
and Teodoro Lopez III to pay complainant Rolando Viray of the following, to wit:
1.
Backwages...P146,726.67
2.
Separation
Pay.24,000.00
3.
Service
Incentive
Leave
Pay.1,538.46
4. Attorneys Fees....17,226.51
or a total amount of One Hundred Eighty Nine Thousand Four Hundred Ninety One Pesos & 64/100
(P189,491.60) [sic] to be deposited with the Cashier of this Office, within ten (10) days from receipt
hereof.
All

other

claims

are

hereby

denied

for

lack

of

merit.

SO ORDERED.3
Subsequently, an Alias Writ of Execution 4 was issued relative to aforesaid decision. During the
implementation of said writ, however, complainant discovered that respondent had already collected the
total amount of P95,000.00 from spouses Lopez. Respondent received said amount in the following
manner:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Date
02/05/2004
02/13/2004
02/26/2004
03/12/2004
04/02/2004
04/06/2004
04/13/2004
04/16/2004
04/30/2004

Voucher No.
7802
7833
7848
7894
7932
7941
7944
7954
7977
Total Amount:

Amount
P 20,000.00
10,000.00
10,000.00
20,000.00
5,000.00
5,000.00
5,000.00
10,000.00
10,000.00
P 95,000.00

Purpose
Attorneys fees
Partial payment for judgment
Partial payment for judgment
Partial payment for judgment
Partial payment for judgment
Partial payment for judgment
Partial payment for judgment
Partial payment for judgment
Partial payment for judgment

Complainant also discovered that respondent misrepresented to spouses Lopez that he is authorized to
receive payments on his behalf, when in truth and in fact he is not. Consequently, complainant made
several verbal demands to the respondent to remit to him the amount of P95,000.00, less his attorneys
fees of P20,000.00. But respondent did not budge. Thus, complainant lodged a complaint before the
Office of the Punong Barangay of Brgy. Felisa, Bacolod City. Respondent, however, ignored the
summons to attend a conference before the barangay to resolve the issues.

In his Comment,5 respondent admits that he received P95,000.00 from spouses Lopez on installments,
but denies that he was not authorized to accept it. He explains that complainant agreed to pay him
additional attorneys fees equivalent to 25% of the total monetary award, on top of the attorneys fees that
may be awarded by the labor tribunal, and to refund all expenses respondent incurred relative to the
case. Thus, from the total award of P189,491.60, the sum of P17,226.57 representing respondents
professional fees has to be deducted, leaving a balance of P172,275.13. 6 Then from said amount,
complainant proposed that he will get P100,000.00 and the balance of P72,275.13 shall belong to
respondent as and for his additional 25% attorneys fees and reimbursement for all expenses he incurred
while handling the case. However, after receiving the amount of P95,000.00 and deducting therefrom the
amounts of P20,000.007 attorneys fees, P17,000.00 earlier given to complainant, and P2,000.00 paid to
the sheriff, what was left to respondent was only P56,000.00. Respondent whines that this amount is way
below the promised 25% attorneys fees and refund of expenses in the total amount of P72,275.13.
Respondent asserts that, in any event, complainant will still be receiving a sum greater than what he
expects to receive. He avers that complainant is still entitled to receive from spouses Lopez the sum of
P93,491.60. Adding the P17,000.00 respondent previously remitted to complainant, the latter will get a
total amount of P110,491.60. This amount, according to respondent, exceeds the amount of P100,000.00
complainant
agreed
to
and
expected
to
receive.
IBPs

Report

and

Recommendation

On February 26, 2007,8 we referred this case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report and recommendation. On January 31, 2011, the Investigating Commissioner issued
his Report and Recommendation9 with the following recommendation:
In view of the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended that the respondent be meted the penalty of two
(2) years suspension. Respondent is also ordered to return, in restitution all the amounts in his
possession which are due to complainant, less his rightful attorneys fees. 10
On October 28, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors adopted Resolution No. XX-2011-139, 11 which
approved the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner suspending respondent
from the practice of law for two years, but with the modification that respondent should restitute the sum
of P85,500.0012 to the complainant.
Issue
The essential issue in this case is whether the respondent is guilty of gross misconduct for his failure to
promptly account to his client the funds received in the course of his professional engagement and return
the same upon demand.
The Courts Ruling
The Code of Professional Responsibility demands the utmost degree of fidelity and good faith in dealing
with the moneys entrusted to lawyers because of their fiduciary relationship. 13 Specifically, Rule 16.01 of
the Code imposes upon the lawyer the duty to account for all money or property collected or received for
or from the client. Rule 16.03 thereof, on the other hand, mandates that [a] lawyer shall deliver the
funds
x
x
x
of
his
client
when
due
or
upon
demand.
In this case, respondent on nine separate occasions from February 5, 2004 to April 30, 2004 received
payments for attorneys fees and partial payments for monetary awards on behalf of complainant from
spouses Lopez. But despite the number of times over close to three months he had been receiving
payment, respondent neither informed the complainant of such fact nor rendered an accounting thereon.
It was only when an Alias Writ of Execution was issued and being implemented when complainant
discovered that spouses Lopez had already given respondent the total amount of P95,000.00 as partial
payment
for
the
monetary
awards
granted
to
him
by
the
labor
tribunal.

To make matters worse, respondent withheld and refused to deliver to the complainant said amount,
which he merely received on behalf of his client, even after demand. Complainant brought the matter
before the barangay, but respondent simply ignored the same. Such failure and inordinate refusal on the
part of the respondent to render an accounting and return the money after demand raises the
presumption that he converted it to his own use. 14 His unjustified withholding of the funds also warrants
the
imposition
of
disciplinary
action
against
him. 15cralawred
Respondent justifies his action by asserting that complainant authorized him to receive payment. He
implies that he is also authorized to apply the sum of money he received from spouses Lopez to his
additional 25% attorneys fees and reimbursement for all expenses he incurred for the case, in the total
amount of P72,275.13. However, after deducting from the amount of P95,000.00 the amounts of
P20,000.00, P17,000.00, and P2,000.00, what was left to respondent, to his dismay was only P56,000.00.
The Court is not impressed. As aptly observed by the Investigating Commissioner, other than his selfserving statements, there is nothing in the records which would support respondents claim that he was
authorized to receive the payments. Neither is there proof that complainant agreed to pay him additional
25% attorneys fees and reimburse him for all expenses he allegedly incurred in connection with the
case. Respondent did not present any document, retainers agreement, or itemized breakdown of the
amount to be reimbursed to support his claim. In any event, even assuming that respondent was
authorized to receive payments, the same does not exempt him from his duty of promptly informing his
client of the amounts he received in the course of his professional employment. The fiduciary nature of
the relationship between counsel and client imposes on a lawyer the duty to account for the money or
property collected or received for or from the client. He is obliged to render a prompt accounting of all the
property and money he has collected for his client. 16 The fact that a lawyer has a lien for his attorneys
fees on the money in his hands collected for his client does not relieve him from the obligation to make a
prompt accounting.17 Moreover, a lawyer has no right to unilaterally appropriate his clients money for
himself by the mere fact alone that the client owes him attorneys fees. 18cralawred
In sum, [r]espondents failure to immediately account for and return the money when due and upon
demand violated the trust reposed in him, demonstrated his lack of integrity and moral soundness, and
warrants
the
imposition
of
disciplinary
action. 19cralawred
The

Penalty

The penalty for gross misconduct consisting in the failure or refusal despite demand of a lawyer to
account for and to return money or property belonging to a client has been suspension from the practice
of law for two years.20 Thus, the IBP Board of Governors did not err in recommending the imposable
penalty. Considering, however, that this is respondents first offense and he is already a
nonagenarian,21 the Court, in the exercise of its compassionate judicial discretion, finds that a penalty of
one
year
suspension
is
sufficient.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Eugenio T. Sanicas GUILTY of gross misconduct and
accordingly SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for one (1) year upon the finality of this Resolution,
with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act or offense shall be dealt with more severely.
Atty. Sanicas is ordered to return to complainant, within 90 days from finality of this Resolution, the net
amount of P85,500.00 with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from finality of this Resolution until the full
amount is returned. Failure to comply with the foregoing directive will warrant the imposition of a more
severe
penalty.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and noted in Atty. Sanicas
record
as
a
member
of
the
Bar.
SO

ORDERED.cralawlaw

library

Carpio, (Acting Chief Justice),* Brion, Mendoza, and Leonen, JJ., concur.
A.C. No. 9115

September 17, 2014

REBECCA
MARIE
vs.
ATTY. ROBERTO L. UY, Respondent.

UY

YUPANGCO-NAKPIL, Complainant,

RESOLUTION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
This is an administrative case against respondent Atty. Roberto L. Uy (respondent) for unprofessional and
unethical conduct, stemming from a complaint filed by private complainant Rebecca Marie Uy YupangcoNakpil (Rebecca), represented by her attorney-in-fact, Bella Asuncion Pollo (Bella).
The Facts
Rebecca is the natural niece and adopted daughter of the late Dra. Pacita Uy y Lim (Pacita). 1 She was
adjudged as the sole and exclusive legal heir of Paci ta by virtue of an Order 2 dated August 10, 1999
issued by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 34 in SPEC. PROC. No. 95-7520 l (SP 95-75201). At
the time of her death, Pacita was a stockholder in several corporations primarily engaged in acquiring,
developing, and leasing real properties, namely, Uy Realty Company, Inc. (URCI), Jespajo Realty
Corporation, Roberto L. Uy Realty and Development Corporation, Jesus Uy Realty Corporation,
Distelleria La Jarolina, Inc., and Pacita Lim Uy Realty, Inc. 3
In her Complaint4 filed on May 9, 2005,5 Rebecca, through her attorney-in fact, Bella, averred that
respondent, her alleged illegitimate halfcousin, 6 continuously failed and refused to comply with the court
order in SP 95-75201 declaring her as the successor-in-interest to all of Pacitas properties, as well as her
requests for the accounting and delivery of the dividends and other proceeds or benefits coming from
Pacitas stockholdings in the aforementioned corporations. 7 She added that respondent mortgaged a
commercial property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-133606 (subject property) in favor of
Philippine Savings Bank in the total amount of 54,000,000.00, 8 despite an existing Trust
Agreement9 executed on October 15, 1993 (subject Trust Agreement) wherein respondent, in his capacity
as President of URCI, already recognized her to be the true and beneficial owner of the
same.10 Accordingly, she demanded that respondent return the said property by executing the
corresponding deed of conveyance in her favor together with an inventory and accounting of all the
proceeds therefrom, but to no avail. 11 In this relation, Rebecca claimed that it was only on September 2,
2005 or after she had already instituted various legal actions and remedies that respondent and
URCIagreed to transfer the subject property to her pursuant to a compromise agreement. 12
In his Answer With Compulsory Counterclaim,13 respondent denied Rebeccas allegations and raised the
affirmative defenses of forum shopping and prescription. He pointed out that Rebecca had filed several
cases raising the single issue on the correct interpretation of the subject trust agreement. He also
contended that the parties transactions in this case were made way back in 1993 and 1995 without a
complaint having been filed until Bella came into the picture and instituted various suits covering the same
issue.14 As such, he sought the dismissal of the complaint, and further prayed for the payment of moral
damages and attorneys fees by way of counterclaim.15

On September 8, 2005, Rebecca filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint 16 in CBD Case No. 05-1484 for the
reason that "the facts surrounding the same arose out of a misunderstanding and misapprehension of the
real facts surrounding their dispute."17
However, on October 6, 2005, Bella filed a Manifestation with Leave of Court to File Motion for
Intervention,18praying that the investigation of the charges against respondent continue in order to weed
out erring members of the legal profession.19
The Report and Recommendation of the IBP
On October 8, 2007, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Investigating Commissioner issuedhis
Report and Recommendation,20 finding respondent guilty of serious misconduct in violation of Rule 1.01,
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (Code), and, thus, recommended the penalty of
suspension for a period of six (6) months.21
On matters of procedure, the Investigating Commissioner opined that Rebeccas motion to withdraw did
notserve as a bar for the further consideration and investigation ofthe administrative case against
respondent. As basis, he cites Section 5, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court which provides that "[n]o
investigation shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of the desistance, settlement, compromise,
restitution, withdrawal of the charges, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the same." Separately,
the Investigating Commissioner denied the claim of forum shopping, noting that disciplinary cases are sui
generis and may, therefore, proceed independently.22
On the merits of the charge, the Investigating Commissioner observed that respondent lacked the good
moral character required from members of the Bar when the latter failed to comply with the demands of
Rebecca under the subject trust agreement, not to mention his unworthy and deceitful acts of mortgaging
the subject property without the formers consent. In fine, respondent was found guilty of serious
misconduct in violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code, for which the above-stated penalty was
recommended.23
In a Resolution24 dated November 10, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the
Investigating Commissioners Report and Recommendation.
The Issue Before the Court
The basic issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable.
The Courts Ruling
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code, as itis applied to the members of the legal profession, engraves an
overriding prohibition against any form of misconduct, viz.:
CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND
PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

The gravity of the misconduct determinative as it is of the errant lawyers penalty depends on the
factual circumstances of each case.
Here, the Court observes that the squabble which gave rise to the present administrative case largely
constitutes an internal affair, which had already been laid to rest by the parties. This is clearly exhibited by
Rebeccas motion to withdraw filed in this case as well as the compromise agreement forged in Civil Case
No. 04-108887 which involves the subject propertys alleged disposition in violation of the subject trust
agreement. As the Court sees it, his failure to complywith the demands of Rebecca which she takes as
an invocation of her rights under the subject trust agreement as well as respondents acts of mortgaging
the subject property without the formers consent, sprung from his own assertion of the rights he believed
he had over the subject property. The propriety of said courses of action eludes the Courts
determination,for that matter had never been resolved on its merits in view of the aforementioned
settlement. Rebecca even states in her motion to withdraw that the allegations she had previously made
arose out of a "misapprehension of the real facts surrounding their dispute" and even adds that
respondent "had fully explained to [her] the real nature and extent of her inheritance x x x toher entire
satisfaction," leading her to state that she is "now fully convinced that [her] complaint has no basis in fact
and in law."25Accordingly, with the admitted misstatement of facts, the observations of the Investigating
Commissioner, as adopted by the IBP, hardly hold water so as to support the finding of "serious
misconduct" which would warrant its recommended penalty.1wphi1
Be that as it may, the Court, nonetheless, finds that respondent committed some form of misconduct by,
as admitted, mortgaging the subject property, notwithstanding the apparent dispute over the same.
Regardless of the merits of his own claim, respondent should have exhibited prudent restraint becoming
of a legal exemplar. He should not have exposed himself even to the slightest risk of committing a
property violation nor any action which would endanger the Bar's reputation. Verily, members of the Bar
are expected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act
or omission which might lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and
integrity of the legal profession. 26 By no insignificant measure, respondent blemished not only his integrity
as a member of the Bar, but also that of the legal profession. In other words, his conduct fell short of the
exacting standards expected of him as a guardian of law and justice. Although to a lesser extent as
compared to what has been ascribed by the IBP, the Court still holds respondent guilty of violating Rule 1.
01, Canon 1 of the Code. Considering that this is his first offense as well as the peculiar circumstances of
this case, the Court believes that a fine of P15,000.00 would suffice.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Roberto L. Uy is found GUILTY of violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is ordered to pay a FINE of P15,000.00 within ten
(10) days from receipt of this Resolution. Further, he is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same
or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to respondent's record in this Court as attorney. Further, let
copies of this Resolution be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court
Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all the courts in the country for their information and
guidance.
SO ORDERED.

JOSE ALLAN TAN, Complainant, v. PEDRO S. DIAMANTE, Respondent.


DECISION
PER CURIAM:
For the Courts resolution is an administrative Complaint 1 for disbarment dated February 1, 2008 filed by
complainant Jose Allan Tan (complainant) against respondent Pedro S. Diamante (respondent), charging
him of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) and the lawyers oath for fabricating and
using a spurious court order, and for failing to keep his client informed of the status of the case.
The Facts
On April 2, 2003, complainant, claiming to be a recognized illegitimate son of the late Luis Tan, secured
the services of respondent in order to pursue a case for partition of property against the heirs of the late
spouses Luis and Natividad Valencia-Tan.2 After accepting the engagement, respondent filed the
corresponding complaint3 before the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City, Branch 46 (RTC), docketed as
Civil Case No. 03-11947. The complaint was eventually dismissed by the RTC in an Order 4 dated July 25,
2007 for lack of cause of action and insufficiency of evidence. 5 While respondent was notified of such
dismissal as early as August 14, 2007, 6 complainant learned of the same only on August 24, 2007 when
he visited the formers office.7 On such occasion, respondent allegedly asked for the amount of
P10,000.00 for the payment of appeal fees and other costs, but since complainant could not produce the
said amount at that time, respondent, instead, asked and was given the amount of P500.00 purportedly
as payment of the reservation fee for the filing of a notice of appeal before the RTC. 8 On September 12,
2007, Tan handed the amount of P10,000.00 to respondent, who on even date, filed a notice of
appeal9 before
the
RTC.10cralawred
In an Order11 dated September 18, 2007, the RTC dismissed complainants appeal for having been filed
beyond the reglementary period provided for by law. Respondent, however, did not disclose such fact
and, instead, showed complainant an Order 12 dated November 9, 2007 purportedly issued by the RTC
(November 9, 2007 Order) directing the submission of the results of a DNA testing to prove his filiation to
the late Luis Tan, within 15 days from receipt of the notice. Considering the technical requirements for
such kind of testing, complainant proceeded to the RTC and requested for an extension of the deadline
for its submission. It was then that he discovered that the November 9, 2007 Order was spurious, as
certified by the RTCs Clerk of Court. 13 Complainant also found out that, contrary to the representations of
respondent, his appeal had long been dismissed. 14 Aggrieved, he filed the instant administrative
complaint
for
disbarment
against
respondent.
In his Comments/Compliance15 dated September 4, 2009, respondent alleged that it was complainants
failure to timely produce the amount of P1,400.00 to pay for the appeal fees that resulted in the late filing
of his appeal. According to him, he informed complainant of the lapse of the reglementary period to
appeal, but the latter insisted in pursuing the same. He also claimed to have assisted complainant not for
money or malice but being a desperate litigant, he was blamed for the courts unfavorable
decision.16cralawred
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
In a Report and Recommendation 17 dated September 21, 2010, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
Investigating Commissioner found respondent administratively liable, and accordingly recommended that
the penalty of suspension for a period of one (1) year be meted out against him. 18cralawred
The Investigating Commissioner found complainants imputations against respondent to be well-founded,
observing that instead of meeting complainants allegations squarely, particularly, the issue of the nondisclosure of the dismissal of the partition case, respondent sidestepped and delved on arguments that

hardly

had

an

effect

on

the

issues

at

hand. 19cralawred

Moreover, the Investigating Commissioner did not find credence in respondents accusation that the
spurious November 9, 2007 Order originated from complainant, ratiocinating that it was respondent who
was motivated to fabricate the same to cover up his lapses that brought about the dismissal of
complainants appeal and make it appear that there is still an available relief left for Tan. 20cralawred
In a Resolution dated April 16, 2013, the IBP Board of Governors unanimously adopted and approved the
aforesaid report and recommendation.21cralawred
The Issue Before the Court
The essential issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for
violating the CPR.
The Courts Ruling
After a judicious perusal of the records, the Court concurs with the IBPs findings, subject to the
modification
of
the
recommended
penalty
to
be
imposed
upon
respondent.
Under Rule 18.04, Canon 18 of the CPR, it is the lawyers duty to keep his client constantly updated on
the developments of his case as it is crucial in maintaining the latters confidence, to
wit:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.
Rule 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a
reasonable time to clients request for information.
As an officer of the court, it is the duty of an attorney to inform his client of whatever important information
he may have acquired affecting his clients case. He should notify his client of any adverse decision to
enable his client to decide whether to seek an appellate review thereof. Keeping the client informed of the
developments of the case will minimize misunderstanding and loss of trust and confidence in the attorney.
The lawyer should not leave the client in the dark on how the lawyer is defending the clients interests. 22 In
this connection, the lawyer must constantly keep in mind that his actions, omissions, or nonfeasance
would be binding upon his client. Concomitantly, the lawyer is expected to be acquainted with the
rudiments of law and legal procedure, and a client who deals with him has the right to expect not just a
good amount of professional learning and competence but also a whole-hearted fealty to the clients
cause.23cralawred
In the case at bar, records reveal that as of August 14, 2007, respondent already knew of the dismissal of
complainants partition case before the RTC. Despite this fact, he never bothered to inform complainant of
such dismissal as the latter only knew of the same on August 24, 2007 when he visited the formers office.
To add insult to injury, respondent was inexcusably negligent in filing complainants appeal only on
September 12, 2007, or way beyond the reglementary period therefor, thus resulting in its outright
dismissal. Clearly, respondent failed to exercise such skill, care, and diligence as men of the legal
profession commonly possess and exercise in such matters of professional employment. 24cralawred
Worse, respondent attempted to conceal the dismissal of complainants appeal by fabricating the
November 9, 2007 Order which purportedly required a DNA testing to make it appear that complainants
appeal had been given due course, when in truth, the same had long been denied. In so doing,
respondent engaged in an unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct that caused undue prejudice and
unnecessary expenses on the part of complainant. Accordingly, respondent clearly violated Rule 1.01,
Canon 1 of the CPR, which provides:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
and
legal
processes.
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
As officers of the court, lawyers are bound to maintain not only a high standard of legal proficiency, but
also of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing, 25 failing in which whether in his personal or private
capacity, he becomes unworthy to continue his practice of law.26 A lawyers inexcusable neglect to serve
his clients interests with utmost diligence and competence as well as his engaging in unlawful, dishonest,
and deceitful conduct in order to conceal such neglect should never be countenanced, and thus,
administratively
sanctioned.
In view of the foregoing, respondents conduct of employing a crooked and deceitful scheme to keep
complainant in the dark and conceal his cases true status through the use of a falsified court order
evidently constitutes Gross Misconduct. 27 His acts should not just be deemed as unacceptable practices
that are disgraceful and dishonorable; they reveal a basic moral flaw that makes him unfit to practice
law.28 In
this
regard,
the
Courts
pronouncement
in Sebastian
v.
Calis29 is
instructive,viz.:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Deception and other fraudulent acts by a lawyer are disgraceful and dishonorable. They reveal
moral flaws in a lawyer. They are unacceptable practices. A lawyers relationship with others should be
characterized by the highest degree of good faith, fairness and candor. This is the essence of the lawyers
oath. The lawyers oath is not mere facile words, drift and hollow, but a sacred trust that must be upheld
and keep inviolable. The nature of the office of an attorney requires that he should be a person of good
moral character. This requisite is not only a condition precedent to the admission to the practice of law, its
continued possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law. We have sternly warned
that any gross misconduct of a lawyer, whether in his professional or private capacity, puts his
moral character in serious doubt as a member of the Bar, and renders him unfit to continue in the
practice of law.30 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
Jurisprudence reveals that in analogous cases where lawyers failed to inform their clients of the status of
their respective cases, the Court suspended them for a period of six (6) months. In Mejares v.
Romana,31 the Court suspended the lawyer for the same period for his failure to timely and adequately
inform his clients of the dismissal of their petition. In the same vein, in Penilla v. Alcid, Jr.,32 the same
penalty was imposed on the lawyer who consistently failed to update his client of the status of his cases,
notwithstanding
several
follow-ups.
However, in cases where lawyers engaged in unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct by falsifying
documents, the Court found them guilty of Gross Misconduct and disbarred them. In Brennisen v.
Contawi,33 the Court disbarred the lawyer who falsified a special power of attorney in order to mortgage
and sell his clients property. Also, in Embido v. Pe,34 the penalty of disbarment was meted out against the
lawyer
who
falsified
an
inexistent
court
decision
for
a
fee.
As already discussed, respondent committed acts of falsification in order to misrepresent to his client, i.e.,
complainant, that he still had an available remedy in his case, when in reality, his case had long been
dismissed for failure to timely file an appeal, thus, causing undue prejudice to the latter. To the Court,
respondents acts are so reprehensible, and his violations of the CPR are so flagrant, exhibiting his moral
unfitness and inability to discharge his duties as a member of the bar. His actions erode rather than
enhance the public perception of the legal profession. Therefore, in view of the totality of his violations, as
well as the damage and prejudice caused to his client, respondent deserves the ultimate punishment of
disbarment.
WHEREFORE, respondent Pedro S. Diamante is hereby DISBARRED for Gross Misconduct and
violations of Rule 1.01, Canon 1, and Rule 18.04, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
and
his
name
is
ordered STRICKEN
OFF from
the
roll
of
attorneys.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondent Pedro S. Diamantes record in this Court. Further,
let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court
Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all the courts in the country for their information and
guidance.
SO

ORDERED.

Carpio,** (Acting Chief Justice), Velasco, Jr., De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Villarama,
Jr.,
Perez,
Mendoza,
Reyes,
Perlas-Bernabe,
and Leonen,
JJ.,
concur.
Sereno, C.J., on Leave.

MELODY R. NERY, Complainant, v. ATTY. GLICERIO A. SAMPANA, Respondent.


RESOLUTION
CARPIO, ACTING C.J.:
The Case
This is a disbarment complaint filed by Melody R. Nery (Nery) against Atty. Glicerio A. Sampana
(Sampana) for failing to file the petition for adoption despite receiving his legal fees and for making Nery
believe that the petition was already filed.
The Facts
In her verified complaint filed on 18 June 2010, 1 Nery alleged that in June 2008, she engaged the
services of Sampana for the annulment of her marriage and for her adoption by an alien adopter. The
petition for annulment was eventually granted, and Nery paid P200,000.00 to Sampana. As for the
adoption, Sampana asked Nery if she had an aunt, whom they could represent as the wife of her alien
adopter. Sampana then gave Nery a blurred copy of a marriage contract, which they would use for her
adoption. Thereafter, Nery paid Sampana P100,000.00, in installment: (a) P10,000.00 on 10 September
2008; (b) P50,000.00 on 2 October 2008; and (c) P40,000.00 on 17 November 2008. Nery no longer
asked
for
receipts
since
she
trusted
Sampana.
On 14 February 2009, Sampana sent a text message informing Nery that he already filed the petition for
adoption and it was already published. Sampana further informed Nery that they needed to rehearse
before the hearing. Subsequently, Sampana told Nery that the hearing was set on 5 March 2010 in
Branch 11 of Malolos, Bulacan. When Nery asked why she did not receive notices from the court,
Sampana claimed that her presence was no longer necessary because the hearing was only
jurisdictional. Sampana told Nery that the hearing was reset to 12 March 2010.
On 11 March 2010, Nery inquired from Branch 11 of Malolos, Bulacan about the status of the petition for
adoption and discovered that there was no such petition filed in the court. 2 Thus, in the afternoon of the
same day, Nery met Sampana and sought the reimbursement of the P100,000.00 she paid him. Sampana
agreed, but said that he would deduct the filing fee worth P12,000.00. Nery insisted that the filing fee
should not be deducted, since the petition for adoption was never filed. Thereafter, Nery repeatedly
demanded for the reimbursement of the P100,000.00 from Sampana, but the demands were left
unheeded.
In an Order dated 25 February 2011,3 the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline
(IBP-CBD), through Commissioner Atty. Eldrid C. Antiquiera (Commissioner Antiquiera), stated that
Sampana failed to file his answer to the complaint and to appear during the mandatory conference. Thus,
both
parties
were
directed
to
submit
their
position
papers.
In

her

position

paper,4 Nery

reiterated

her

allegations

in

the

complaint.

On the other hand, in his position paper dated 25 March 2011, 5 Sampana argued that Nerys allegations
were self-serving and unsubstantiated. However, Sampana admitted receiving one package fee from
Nery for both cases of annulment of marriage and adoption. Sampana alleged that he initially frowned
upon the proposed adoption because of the old age, civil status and nationality of the alien adopter, but
Nery insisted on being adopted. Thus, Sampana suggested that if the [alien] adopter would be married to
a close relative of [Nery], the intended [adoption by an alien] could be possible. Sampana, then, required
Nery to submit the documents, including the marriage contracts and the certification of the aliens
qualification to adopt from the Japanese Embassy (certification). Nery furnished the blurred marriage
contract, but not the certification. Sampana alleged that he prepared the petition for adoption but did not

file

it

because

he

was

still

waiting

for

the

certification.

Sampana denied that he misled Nery as to the filing of the petition for adoption. Sampana claimed that
Nery could have mistaken the proceeding for the annulment case with the petition for adoption, and that
the annulment case could have overshadowed the adoption case. In any case, Sampana committed to
refund the amount Nery paid him, after deducting his legal services and actual expenses.
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
In his Report and Recommendation, 6 Commissioner Antiquiera found Sampana guilty of malpractice for
making Nery believe that he already filed the petition for adoption and for failing to file the petition despite
receiving his legal fees. Thus, Commissioner Antiquiera recommended a penalty of three (3) months
suspension
from
the
practice
of
law.
In Resolution No. XX-2013-217 passed on 20 March 2013, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
approved Commissioner Antiquieras report and recommendation, as follows:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with
modification, [t]he Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled
case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A, and finding the recommendation fully supported
by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules and considering that Respondent is guilty of
malpractice by his failure to file a petition for adoption and made complainant believe that he filed the
petition in Court, Atty. Glicerio Sampana is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3)
months and ORDERED to RETURN to complainant the amount of One Hundred Thousand
(P100,000.00) Pesos with legal interest within thirty days from receipt of notice. 7
The Ruling of the Court
The recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors is well-taken, except as to the penalty.
Acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of
fidelity to the clients cause. 8 Every case accepted by a lawyer deserves full attention, diligence, skill and
competence, regardless of importance.9 A lawyer also owes it to the court, their clients, and other lawyers
to
be
candid
and
fair.10 Thus,
the
Code
of
Professional
Responsibility
clearly
states:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
CANON 15 - A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with
his
client.
CANON 16 - A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his
possession.
Rule 16.03 - A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. x x x.
CANON 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and
confidence
reposed
in
him.
CANON

18

lawyer

shall

serve

his

client

with

competence

and

diligence.

Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.
In the present case, Sampana admitted that he received one package fee for both cases of annulment
and adoption. Despite receiving this fee, he unjustifiably failed to file the petition for adoption and fell short
of his duty of due diligence and candor to his client. Sampanas proffered excuse of waiting for the
certification before filing the petition for adoption is disingenuous and flimsy. In his position paper, he

suggested to Nery that if the alien adopter would be married to her close relative, the intended adoption
could be possible. Under the Domestic Adoption Act provision, which Sampana suggested, the alien
adopter can jointly adopt a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity of his/her Filipino
spouse, and the certification of the aliens qualification to adopt is waived. 11cralawred
Having no valid reason not to file the petition for adoption, Sampana misinformed Nery of the status of the
petition. He then conceded that the annulment case overshadowed the petition for adoption. Verily,
Sampana neglected the legal matter entrusted to him. He even kept the money given him, in violation of
the Codes mandate to deliver the clients funds upon demand. A lawyers failure to return upon demand
the funds held by him gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use, in
violation of the trust reposed in him by his client and of the public confidence in the legal
profession.12cralawred
This is not the first administrative case filed against Sampana. In Lising v. Sampana, 13 we already found
Sampana guilty of violating Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for his unethical and
illegal act relative to his double sale of a parcel of land. We imposed upon him the penalty of suspension
from the practice of law for one (1) year and warned him that a repetition of a similar act shall be dealt
with
more
severely.
In Rollon v. Naraval,14 we imposed upon the respondent therein the penalty of suspension from the
practice of law for two (2) years for failing to render any legal service after receiving the filing and partial
service fee. Considering the serious consequence of disbarment and the previous rulings of this Court,
we deem it proper to increase the penalty for Sampanas malpractice and violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility to suspension from the practice of law for three (3) years.
WHEREFORE, we SUSPEND Atty. Glicerio A. Sampana from the practice of law for THREE (3)
YEARS with a stern warning that a repetition of a similar act shall be dealt with more severely. We
also ORDER Atty. Glicerio A. Sampana to RETURN to complainant Melody R. Nery the amount of One
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00), with 12% interest per annum from the time of his receipt of the
full amount of money on 17 November 2008 until 30 June 2013, then 6% interest per annum from 1 July
2013
until
fully
paid.
Let a copy of this resolution be furnished the Bar Confidant to be included in the records of the
respondent; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters; and the Office of the
Court
Administrator
for
dissemination
to
all
courts
throughout
the
country.
SO ORDERED.cralawlaw library

A.C. No. 7474

September 9, 2014

PRESIDING JUDGE JOSE L. MADRID, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 51, SORSOGON
CITY,Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. JUAN S. DEALCA, Respondent.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
Complainant Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court has had enough of the respondent, a law
practitioner, who had engaged in the unethical practice of filing frivolous administrative cases against
judges and personnel of the courts because the latter filed a motion to inhibit the complainant from
hearing a pending case. Hence, the complainant has initiated this complaint for the disbarment of
respondent on the ground of gross misconduct and gross violation of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
Antecedents
On February 7, 2007, Atty. Juan S.Dealca entered his appearance in Criminal Case No. 2006-6795,
entitled "People of the Philippines v. Philip William Arsenault" then pending in Branch 51 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) in Sorsogon City, presided by complainant Judge Jose L. Madrid. 1 Atty. Dealca sought
to replace Atty. Vicente Judar who had filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for the accused. But aside
from entering his appearance as counsel for the accused, Atty. Dealca also moved that Criminal Case No.
2006-6795 be re-raffled to another Branch of the RTC "[c]onsidering the adverse incidents between the
incumbent Presiding Judge and the undersigned," where" he does not appear before the incumbent
Presiding Judge, and the latter does not also hear cases handled by the undersigned." 2
Judge Madrid denied Atty. Dealcas motion to re-raffle through an order issued on February 14, 2007, 3 viz:
xxxx
This Court will not allow that a case be removed from it just because of the personal sentiments of
counsel who was not even the original counsel of the litigant.
Moreover, the motion of Atty. Dealca is an affront to the integrity of this Court and the other Courts in this
province as hewould like it to appear that jurisdiction over a Family Court case is based on his whimsical
dictates.
This was so because Atty. Dealca had filed Administrative as well as criminal cases against this Presiding
Judge which were all dismissed by the Hon. Supreme Court for utter lack ofmerit. This is why he should
not have accepted this particular case so as not to derail the smooth proceedings in this Court with his
baseless motions for inhibition. It is the lawyers duty to appear on behalf of a client in a case but not to
appear for a client to remove a case from the Court. This is unethical practice in the first order.
WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the Motion of Atty. Juan S. Dealca is hereby DENIED. Relative to
the Motion to Withdraw as Counsel for the Accused filed by Atty. Vicente C. Judar dated January 29,

2007, the same is hereby DENIED for being violative of the provisions of Section 26 of Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court.
So also, the Appearance of Atty. Juan S. Dealca as new counsel for accused Philip William Arsenault is
likewise DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
Consequently, Judge Madrid filed a letter complaint 4 in the Office of the Bar Confidant citing Atty.
Dealcasunethical practice of entering his appearance and then moving for the inhibition of the presiding
judge on the pretext of previous adverse incidents between them.
On April 10, 2007, we treated the complaint as a regular administrative complaint, and required Atty.
Dealca to submit his comment.5
In his comment-complaint,6 Atty. Dealca asserted that Judge Madrids issuance of the February 14, 2007
order unconstitutionally and unlawfully deprived the accused of the right to counsel, to due process, and
to a fair and impartial trial; that Judge Madrid exhibited bias in failing to act on the motion to lift and set
aside the warrant ofarrest issued against the accused; and that it should be Judge Madrid himself who
should be disbarred and accordingly dismissed from the Judiciary for gross ignorance of the law.
On July 17, 2007, the Court referred the matter to the IBP for appropriate investigation,report and
recommendation.7 Several months thereafter, the Court also indorsed pertinent documents in connection
with A.M. OCA IPI No. 05-2385-RTJ, entitled "Joseph Yap III v. Judge Jose L. Madrid and Court
Stenographer MerlynD. Dominguez, both of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 51, Sorsogon City"
(Yap v. Judge Madrid).8
On June 6, 2007, the Court in Yap v. Judge Madriddismissed for its lack of merit the administrative
complaint against Judge Madrid for allegedly falsifying the transcript of stenographic notes of the hearing
on March 4, 2005 in Civil Case No. 2001-6842 entitled Joseph D. Yap V, et al. v. Joseph H. Yap III, but
referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation the
propensity of Atty. Dealca to file administrative or criminal complaints against judges and court personnel
whenever decisions, orders or processes were issued adversely to him and his clients. 9
In compliance with the referral,the IBP-Sorsogon Chapter submitted its report with the following findings
and recommendation:10
xxxx
The documentary evidence offered by complainants show that respondent Atty. Juan S. Dealca filed by
himself (1) Bar Matter No. 1197 and acting as counsel for the complainants (2) Adm. Matter OCA IPI No.
04-2113-RTJ; (3) OMB-L-C-05-0478-E;(4) Adm. Matter OCA IPI No. 05-2385-RTJ and (5) Adm. Matter
OCA IPI No. 05-2191-RTJ. These five (5) cases are factual evidence of the cases that respondent had
filed by himself and as counsel for the complainants against court officers, judges and personnel as a
consequence of the IBP Election and incidents in cases that respondent had handled as counselfor the
parties in the said cases.

It will be noted that in Bar Matter No. 1197, the respondents were judges (Judge Jose L. Madrid & Judge
Honesto A. Villamor) and lawyers in IBP Sorsogon Chapters, who are no doubt officers of the court, and
the case aroused (sic) out ofthe unfavorable consensus of the IBP chapter members that was adverse to
the position of the respondent. The other four (4) cases aroused [sic] out of the cases handled by
respondent for the complainants who failed to secure a favorable action from the court.
Specifically, Adm. Matter OCA IPI No. 04-2113-RTJ was a result of the case before the sala of Judge Jose
L. Madrid (RTC 51) entitled "Alita P. Gomez vs. Rodrigo Jarabo, et al.," for: Accion Publiciana and
Damages, that was handled by respondent for the complainant Alita Gomez. OMB-L-C-0478-E was an off
shoot of Civil Case No. 2001-6842 entitled "Marilyn D. Yap, Joseph D. Yap V, et al., vs. Joseph H. Yap III"
for: Support pending before the sala ofcomplainant Judge Jose L. Madrid (RTC 51). Respondent, after an
unfavorable decision against defendant Joseph H. Yap III, entered his appearance and pleaded for the
latter. As a result of an adverse order, this ombudsman case arose.
Administrative Matter OCA IPI No. 05-2191-RTJ was also a result of the Civil Case No. 5403 entitled
"Salve Dealca Latosa vs. Atty. Henry Amado Roxas, with Our Ladys Village Foundation and Most
Reverend Arnulfo Arcilla, DD as third party defendant that was heard, tried, decided and pending
execution before the sala of Judge Honesto A. Villamor (RTC 52).
Administrative Matter OCA IPI No. 05-2385-RTJ was also a consequence of Civil Case No. 2001-6842
entitled "Marilyn D. Yap, Joseph D. Yap V, et al., vs. Joseph H. Yap III" for Support pending before the
sala of complainant JudgeJose L. Madrid (RTC 51).
All these four (4) cases are precipitated by the adverse ruling rendered by the court against the clients of
the respondent that instead of resorting to the remedies available under the Rules of Procedure,
respondent assisted his clients in filing administrative and criminal case against the judges and personnel
of the court.
The other documentary evidence of the complainants such as the (a) VERIFIED COMPLAINT dated
March 7, 2003 in Civil Service Case entitled "EDNA GOROSPE-DEALCA vs. JULIANA
ENCINASCARINO, et al.; (b) NOTICE OF RESOLUTION on October 22, 2005 in Adm. Case No. 6334
entitled "SOFIAJAO vs. ATTY. EPIFANIA RUBY VELACRUZ-OIDA" passed by the Board ofGovernors of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines which Resolution No. XVII-2005-92 provides: "RESOLVED to
ADOPT and APPROVE the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner dismissing
the case for lacks (sic) merit; (c) RESOLUTION of the Third Division of the Supreme Court dated
February 1, 2006 in Administrative Case No. 6334 (Sofia Jao vs. Epifania Ruby Velacruz-Oida) The
notice of resolution dated October 22, 2005 ofthe Integrated Bar ofthe Philippines (IBP) dismissing the
case for lack of merit; (d) VERIFIED COMPLAINT in Adm. Case No. 6334 dated February 17, 2004
entitled "Sofia Jao vs. Atty. Epifania Ruby Velacruz-Oida" for: Malpractice (Forum Shopping), and (e)
ORDER dated January 18, 2007 by Acting Presiding Judge RAUL E. DE LEON in Criminal Cases Nos.
2451 to 2454 entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Cynthia Marcial, et al. For: Falsification of Medical
Records" which provides for the dismissal of the cases against all the accused, do not show participation
on the part of the respondent that he signed the pleadings, although the verified complaint is one
executed by the wife of the respondent. Moreover, these cases are pertaining to persons other than
judges and personnel of the court that are not squarely covered by the present investigation against
respondent, although, it is an undeniable fact that respondent had appeared for and in behalf of his wife,
the rest of the complainants in the Civil Service Case and Sofia Jao against Land Bank of the Philippines,
the latter case resulted in the administrative case of Atty. Epifania Ruby Velacruz-Oida, respondents

sister member of the Bar. All these documentary evidence from (a) to (e) are helpful in determining the
"PROPENSITY" of the respondent as a member of the bar in resorting to harassment cases instead of
going through the procedures provided for by the Rules of Court in the event of adverse ruling, order or
decision of the court.
xxxx
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that in view of the above-foregoings [sic], a penalty
of SUSPENSION in the practice of law for a period of six (6) monthsfrom finality of the decision be
ordered against respondent Atty. Juan S. Dealca.
Findings and Recommendation of the IBP
IBP Commissioner Salvador B. Hababag ultimately submitted his Report and Recommendation 11 finding
Atty. Dealca guilty of violating the Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility by filing
frivolous administrative and criminalcomplaints; and recommending that Atty. Dealca be suspended from
the practice of law for one year because his motion to inhibit Judge Madrid was devoid of factual or legal
basis, and was grounded on purely personal whims.
In Resolution No. XVIII-2008-41, 12 the IBP Board of Governors modified the recommendation and
dismissed the administrative complaint for its lack of merit, thus:
RESOLVED to AMEND, as it is hereby AMENDED, the Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner, and APPROVE the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled case for lack of merit. Judge Madrid
filed a petition,13 which the IBP Board of Governors treated as a motion for reconsideration, and soon
denied through its Resolution No. XX-2012-545.14
Issues
(1) Did Atty. Dealca file frivolousadministrative and criminal complaints against judges and court
personnel in violation of the Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility?
(2) Was Atty. Dealca guilty of unethical practice in seeking the inhibition of Judge Madrid in
Criminal Case No. 2006-6795?
Ruling of the Court
We REVERSE Resolution No. XX-2012-545.
I
Atty. Dealca must guard against his own impulse of initiating unfounded suits
Atty. Dealca insists on the propriety of the administrative and criminal cases he filed against judges and
court personnel, including Judge Madrid. He argues that as a vigilant lawyer, he was duty bound to bring
and prosecute cases against unscrupulous and corrupt judges and court personnel. 15
We see no merit in Atty. Dealcas arguments.

Although the Court always admires members of the Bar who are imbued with a high sense of vigilance to
weed out from the Judiciary the undesirable judges and inefficient or undeserving court personnel, any
acts taken in that direction should be unsullied by any taint of insincerity or self interest. The noble cause
of cleansing the ranks of the Judiciary is not advanced otherwise. It is for that reason that Atty. Dealcas
complaint against Judge Madrid has failed our judicious scrutiny, for the Court cannot find any trace of
idealism or altruismin the motivations for initiating it. Instead, Atty. Dealca exhibited his proclivity for
vindictiveness and penchant for harassment, considering that, as IBP Commissioner Hababag pointed
out,16 his bringing of charges against judges, court personnel and even his colleagues in the Law
Profession had all stemmed from decisions or rulings being adverse to his clients or his side. He well
knew, therefore, that he was thereby crossing the line of propriety, because neither vindictiveness nor
harassment could be a substitute for resorting tothe appropriate legal remedies. He should now be
reminded that the aim of every lawsuit should be to render justice to the parties according to law, not to
harass them.17
The Lawyers Oath is a source ofobligations and duties for every lawyer, and any violation thereof by an
attorney constitutes a ground for disbarment, suspension, or other disciplinary action. 18 The oath exhorts
upon the members of the Bar not to "wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful
suit." These are not mere facile words, drift and hollow, but a sacred trust that must be upheld and keep
inviolable.19
As a lawyer, therefore, Atty. Dealca was aware of his duty under his Lawyers Oath not to initiate
groundless, false or unlawful suits. The duty has also been expressly embodied inRule 1.03, Canon 1 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility thuswise:
Rule 1.03 A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or
delay any mans cause.
His being an officer of the court should have impelled him to see to it that the orderly administration of
justice must not be unduly impeded. Indeed, as he must resist the whims and caprices ofhis clients and
temper his clients propensities to litigate, 20 so must he equally guard himself against his own impulses of
initiating unfounded suits. While it is the Courts duty to investigate and uncover the truth behindcharges
against judges and lawyers, it is equally its duty to shield them from unfounded suits that are intended to
vex and harass them, among other things.21
Moreover, Atty. Dealca must be mindful of his mission to assist the courts in the proper administration of
justice. He disregarded his mission because his filing of the unfounded complaints, including this one
against Judge Madrid, increased the workload of the Judiciary. Although no person should be penalized
for the exercise ofthe right to litigate, the right must nonetheless be exercised in good faith. 22 Atty.
Dealcas bringing of the numerous administrative and criminal complaints against judges, court personnel
and his fellow lawyers did not evince any good faith on his part, considering that he made allegations
against them therein that he could not substantially prove, and are rightfully deemed frivolous and
unworthy of the Courts precious time and serious consideration.
Repeatedly denying any wrongdoing in filing the various complaints, Atty. Dealca had the temerity to
confront even the Court with the following arrogant tirade, to wit:
With due respect, what could be WRONG was the summary dismissal of cases filed against erring judges
and court personnel for lack of merit, i.e. without even discussing the facts and the law of the case. 23

Atty. Dealca was apparently referring to the minute resolutions the Court could have promulgated in
frequently dismissing his unmeritorious petitions. His arrogant posturing would not advance his cause
now. He thereby demonstrated his plain ignorance of the rules of procedure applicable to the Court.The
minute resolutions have been issued for the prompt dispatch of the actions by the Court. 24 Whenever the
Court then dismisses a petition for review for its lack of merit through a minute resolution, it is understood
that the challenged decision or order, together with all its findings of fact and law, is deemed sustained or
upheld,25 and the minute resolution then constitutes the actual adjudication on the merits of the case. The
dismissal of the petition, or itsdenial of due course indicates the Courts agreement with and its adoption
of the findings and conclusions of the court a quo. 26
The requirement for stating the facts and the law does not apply to the minute resolutions that the Court
issuesin disposing of a case. The Court explained why in Borromeo v. Court of Appeals: 27
The [Supreme] Court x x x disposes of the bulk of its cases by minute resolutions and decrees them as
final and executory, as where a case is patently without merit, where the issues raised are factual in
nature, where the decision appealed from is supported by substantial evidence and is in accord with the
facts of the case and the applicable laws, where it is clear from the records that the petition is filed merely
to forestall the early execution of judgment and for non-compliance with the rules. The resolution denying
due course or dismissing the petition always gives the legal basis.
xxxx
The Court is not duty bound to render signed Decisions all the time. It has ample discretion to formulate
Decisions and/or Minute Resolutions, provided a legal basis is given, depending on its evaluation of a
case.
The constitutionality of the minute resolutions was the issue raised in Komatsu Industries (Phils.), Inc. v.
Court of Appeals.28 The petitioner contended that the minute resolutions violated Section 14, 29 Article VIII
of the Constitution. The Court, throughJustice Regalado, declared that resolutions were not decisions
withinthe constitutional contemplation, for the former "merely hold that the petition for review should not
be entertained and even ordinary lawyers have all this time so understood it; and the petition to review the
decisionof the Court of Appeals is not a matter of right but of sound judicial discretion, hence there is no
need to fully explain the Courts denial since, for one thing, the facts and the law are already mentioned in
the Court of Appeals decision." It pointed out that the constitutional mandate was applicable only in cases
submitted for decision, i.e., given due course to and after the filing of briefs or memoranda and/or other
pleadings, but not where the petition was being refused due course, with the resolutions for that purpose
stating the legal basis of the refusal. Thus, when the Court, after deliberating on the petition and the
subsequent pleadings, decided to deny due course to the petition and stated that the questions raised
were factual, or there was no reversible error in the lower courts decision, there was a sufficient
compliance with the constitutional requirement.30
II
Atty. Dealca violated Canon 11 and Rule 11.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Atty. Dealca maintains that Judge Madrid should have "in good grace inhibited himself" upon his motion
toinhibit in order to preserve "confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary." 31 However, IBP Commissioner

Hababag has recommended that Atty. Dealca be sanctioned for filing the motion to inhibit considering that
the motion, being purely based on his personal whims, was bereft of factual and legal bases. 32
The recommendation of IBP Commissioner Hababag is warranted.
Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts empowered to appear, prosecute and defend the legal causes
for their clients. As a consequence, peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved upon them
by law. Verily, their membership in the Bar imposes certain obligations upon them. 33
In this regard, Canon 11 and Rule 11.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility pertinently state:
Canon 11 A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to the judicial officers
and should insist on similar conduct by others.
xxxx
Rule 11.04 A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the record or haveno
materiality to the case.1wphi1
In light of the foregoing canons, all lawyers are bound to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts,
and to promote confidence in the fair administration of justice. It is the respect for the courts that
guarantees the stability of the judicial institution; elsewise, the institution would be resting on a very shaky
foundation.34
The motion to inhibit filed by Atty. Dealca contained the following averment, to wit:
Considering the adverse incidents between the incumbent Presiding Judge and the undersigned, he does
not appear before the incumbent Presiding Judge, andthe latter does not also hear cases handled by the
undersignedx x x.35 (Bold emphasis supplied)
Atty. Dealcas averment that Judge Madrid did not hear cases being handled by him directly insinuated
that judges could choose the cases they heard, and could refuse to hear the cases in which hostility
existed between the judges and the litigants or their counsel. Such averment, if true at all, should have
been assiduously substantiated by him because it put in bad light not only Judge Madrid but all judges in
general. Yet, he did not even include any particulars that could have validated the averment. Nor did he
attach any document to support it.
Worth stressing, too, is that the right of a party to seek the inhibition or disqualification of a judge who
does not appear to be wholly free, disinterested, impartial and independent in handling the case must be
balanced with the latters sacred duty to decide cases without fear of repression. Thus, it was incumbent
upon Atty. Dealca to establish by clear and convincing evidence the ground of bias and prejudice in order
to disqualify Judge Madrid from participating in a particular trial in which Atty. Dealca was participating as
a counsel.36 The latters bare allegations of Judge Madrids partiality or hostility did not suffice, 37 because
the presumption that Judge Madrid would undertake his noble role to dispense justice according to law
and the evidence and without fear or favor should only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence to
the contrary.38 As such, Atty. Dealca clearly contravened his duties as a lawyer as expressly stated in
Canon 11 and Rule 11.04, supra.

On a final note, it cannot escape our attention that this is not the first administrative complaint to be ever
brought against Atty. Dealca.1avvphi1 In Montano v. Integrated Bar of the Philippines, 39 we reprimanded
him for violating Canon 22 and Rule 20.4, Canon 20 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and
warned him that a repetition of the same offense would be dealt with more severely. Accordingly, based
on the penalties the Court imposed on erring lawyers found violating Canon 1, Rule 1.03, 40 and Canon 11,
Rule 11.0441 of the Code, we deem appropriate to suspend Atty. Dealca from the practice of law for a
period one year. ACCORDINGLY, the Court FINDS and DECLARES respondent ATTY. JUAN S. DEALCA
GUILTY of violating Canon 1, Rule 1.03 and Canon 11, Rule 11. 04 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility; and SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for one year effective from notice of this
decision, with a STERN WARNING that any similar infraction in the future will be dealt with more severely.
Let copies of this decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to Atty. Dealca's
personal record as an attorney; to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and to all courts in the country for
their information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.

A.M.
No.
P-13-3102
[Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 07-2562-P]

September

8,

2014

JOSE
S.
VILLANUEVA, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. PAULINO I. SAGUYOD, Clerk of Court VI, Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Paniqui,
Tarlac, Respondent.
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
This resolves the Complaint1 dated March 23, 2007 filed by Jose S. Villanueva against Atty. Paulino I.
Saguyod, Clerk of Court VI, Branch 67, Regional Trial Court (RTC), Paniqui, Tarlac charging the latter with
violations of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel and of Section 4 (e), Republic Act (RA) No. 6713,
otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The facts, as found by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), follow.
Complainant alleged as follows:
x x x on February 20, 2007, he received a text message from Atty. Lavezares Leomo, his employer,
instructing him to get a certified photocopy of a Petition relative toLand Case No. 051-06 entitled "Petition
for the Issuance of a Second Owners Duplicate Copy of Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) of Arnel D.
Morales." On or about 8:45 in the morning of that same day, Ms.Rosalie D. Sarsagat, the assigned
stenographer of the same court, advised him to return after thirty minutes because the custodian of the
records is not yet around. Immediately following the lapse of that period, complainant was informed that
the records being requested were in the custody of respondent but must talk to his wife, Mrs. Judith
Saguyod, in order to secure the requested pleading. Complainant found out that respondents wife
likewise holds office in the room of respondent although she is not an employee of the said court.
Complainant alleges that when he respectfully asked for a photocopy of the pleading, respondent inquired
whether he has a Special Power of Attorney authorizing him to get such photocopy. Complainant showed
him the text message he received from Atty. Leomo. However, respondents wife interrupted them and
called a certain person at the Register of Deeds of Tarlac whom she asked whether complainant is
allowed to be given a copy of the Petition being requested. At the end of their conversation, the wife said,
"Huwag ka raw naming bibigyan ng kopya ng Petition ni Arnel D. Morales."
In the course of their dialogue, respondent told complainant: "Pinalusot ko na nga yung pinitisyon mong
apat (4) na loss (sic) title, ganiyan ka pa makipag-usap sa amin." Complainant answered back and said,
"Anong kinalaman, Sir, noong pinitisyon kong loss (sic) title, eh iniutos sa akin ng boss ko na ikuha ko
siya ng kopya ng certified photocopy, at wala naman po akong ilegal na transaction na ginawa." Upon
hearing this reply, respondent stood up in his chair and challenged complainant to a fistfight while
shouting this (sic) words: "Punyeta ka! Mayabang ka. Ano lalaban ka." Complainant calmly said, "Di ako
lalaban, Attorney, kung ayaw mong magbigay ng kopya. Yon na lang sasabihin ko kay Atty. Leomo."
Respondent angrily told complainant, "Tarantado ka. Mayabang ka. Di moako kilala kung sino ako dito."
Complainant politely replied, "Alam ko po na ikaw ang Clerk of Court dito."

In order to avoid further arguments, complainant went out of the room and proceeded to the parking area.
Respondent blocked his way and shouted, "Taga Paniqui ka, taga Victoria ako. Suntukan na lang tayo."
Complainant replied, "Hindi ako lalaban sayo, Attorney." Respondent retorted, "Sino ang pinagmamalaki
mo, si Atty. Leomo, shit sino ba siya dito?" Complainant answered him, "Wala akong ipinagmamalaki,
Attorney. Siya lang ang nag-utos sa akin para kumuha ng kopya ng petition ni Mr. Arnel Morales."
Complainant realized that thisboorish attitude displayed by respondent was an act of vengeance because
he failed to give the balance of One Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P1,500.00) as payment for the
Certificate of Finality he issued relative to Land Case Nos. 021-P06 and 020-P06. Apparently, the four (4)
lost titles which respondent is referring when he said, "pinalusot lang niya ito" pertains to the land case he
initiated by virtue of the Special Power of Attorney given to him by Mrs. Charlotte Antaran. The said
Petitionhad not been acted upon for nine months from the time it was filed on May 26, 2006 even though
there is a Presiding Judge who will sign the Order commanding the Register of Deeds of Tarlac to issue
the owners duplicate certificate of title. When complainant followed up the issuance of such Order with
Mrs. Rosalie Sarsagat, the latter answered, "Hindi pipirmahan ni Atty. Saguyod ang Certificate of Finality
kapag hindika nagbayad ng tatlong libong piso (P3,000.00)." To prevent further delay of the release of the
Order, complainant gave an advance payment One Thousand Five Hundred Pesos and promised to pay
the remaining balance later. Respondent Clerk of Court replied angrily, "Marami na akong narinig na
pangakong ganyan pero di na bumabalik para magbayad." Complainant answered him "Please, lang
Attorney, give me a chance." Respondent Clerk of Court stood up and said, "Siguruhin mo lang. Sige,
gagawin ko na. Antayin mo na lang." After thirty minutes, Ms. Rosalie D. Sarsagat handed the Certificate
of Finality and Order dated January 5, 2007, duly signed by Judge Arsenio P. Adriano. Automatically,
complainant paid One Thousand Five Hundred Pesos to Mrs. Rosalie D. Sarsagat and demanded for a
receipt but the latter replied that a receipt is not being issued in this kind of transaction. She further
retorted, "Gusto mo bang bawiin pa ni Atty. Saguyod ang mga dokumentong yan?"
Such acts of respondent contravened Section 4(e) of R.A. 6713 and Section 2, Canon IV of the New
Codeof Conduct for Court Personnel. Complainant also claims that respondent violated Section 4, Canon
I of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel when he allowed his wife to use the Office of the Clerk of
Court as the office of her real estate transaction. Complainant posits that in this scenario a conflict might
arise between respondents official duty and his wifes business dealings.
[In his Comment dated April 27, 2007, respondent denied the charges against him and claimed that:]
x x x he did not give a copy of the Petition being requested because complainant did not present a
Special Power of Attorney showing his purpose and authority to get such photocopy. He could not rely on
the text message received by complainant because he doesnt know the phone number of Atty. Leomo. In
fact, it is the policy of the court to require a written authority whenever a similar request is made. To his
dismay, however, complainant answered back, "E, di sasabihin ko kay Atty. Leomo na ayaw mo. Eto nga
yung text niya." Upon seeing respondents wife who happened to drop by his office to remind him to pick
up their daughter from school, complainant rudely said, "Porke ba hawak ng asawa mo yan kaya ayaw
mong magbigay." Seeing that his wife was offended, he patted and pushed complainant and emphatically
said, "Pati babae pinapatulan mo."
According to the guard on duty, complainant continued to hurl threatening words against him even when
he was already outside the building. The guard reported the matter to him, hence, he went outside to
confront [the] complainant. At that moment, complainant said to him, "Dayo ka lang dito sa Paniqui" to

which respondent Clerk of Court replied, "E ano ngayon kung taga-Paniqui ka at taga-Victoria ako?"
Nonetheless, to avoid any untoward incident, he returned to his office.
Respondent denies that his wife holds office in the Office of the Clerk of Court. He points out that
complainant has no evidence to prove such charge. He explains that on thatday, his wife had just passed
by his office to tell him to fetch their seven-year old daughter from school. Although he admits that once in
a while, his wife would drop by his office to see and talk to him an act that is not prohibited by any law,
rules or regulations. Respondent alsoclarifies that his wifeis not a real estate agent but only a person who
facilitates the processing and transfer of certificates of title of subdivision lots. Hence, his wifehas nothing
to do with his refusal to give complainant a copy of the petition.
Respondent explains that Land Case No. 021-06 and 022-06 were approved only after nine months from
the time they were filed because then Judge Cesar M. Sotero retired on (sic) February 2006, while Judge
Arsenio P. Adriano who succeeded him assumed his office as Presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 63, Tarlac City only on (sic) September 2006. Moreover, complainant was also required by
the court to present other supporting documents like the original copy of the Deed of Absolute Sale in his
Petition.
Respondent admits that he instructed Rosalie Sarsagat to tell complainant that he has to pay the proper
fees for reception of evidence as required under Section 21(e), Rule 141 of the Rules of Court and the
Department of Justice (DOJ). He did not personally ask complainant to pay those fees because the latter
might misconstrue it and use it against him.2
In a Resolution3 dated October 1, 2007, the Court referred the instant administrative complaint to the
Executive Judge of the RTC of Paniqui, Tarlac for investigation,report and recommendation. Forthwith, the
records of the case were transmitted to Executive Judge Liberty O. Castaeda in a letter 4 dated
November 9, 2007.
In her Reports and Findings5 dated March 26, 2011, Judge Castaeda recommended that the complaint
against respondent be dismissed for lack of merit.
However, in a Resolution6 dated September 12, 2011, the Court nullified Judge Castaedas Reports and
Findings, considering that she made the same while she was under preventive suspension from office.
Thus, the Court referred the administrative complaint to Acting Presiding Judge Alipio C. Yumul, Branch
67, Paniqui, Tarlac for investigation, report and recommendation. 7
In his Report8 dated February 7, 2012, Judge Yumul recommended that the case be dismissed.
In a Resolution9 dated June 18, 2012, the Court referred said Report to the OCA for evaluation, report and
recommendation.
In its Memorandum10 dated October 5, 2012, the OCA recommended as follows:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, it is respectfully recommended to the Honorable Court that:
1. the present administrative case against respondent Atty. Paulino I. Saguyod, Clerk of Court VI,
Branch 67, Regional Trial Court, Paniqui, Tarlac be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative
matter: and,

2. respondent be: (a) ADMONISHED for Violation of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel
and of Section 4(e) of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Ethics for Public
Officials and Employees, and WARNED that a repetition of [the] same or similar act will be dealt
with severely in the future; and, (b) SUSPENDED from the service for one (1) month and one (1)
day for simple misconduct for demanding from complainant the amount of P3,000.00 as
commissioners fee and appearance fee in Land Case Nos. 021-P06 and 020-P06. 11
The issues for our resolution are:
a. whether or not respondent indirectly demanded and received from complainant an amount of
Three Thousand Pesos (P3,000.00) for the issuance of the Certificate of Finality;
b. whether or not respondents receipt of commissioners fee for reception of evidence is legal
and proper;
c. whether or not respondent extended prompt and courteous service to complainant when the
latter requested for a photocopy of a certain pleading; and
d. whether or not the wife of respondent holds officein the Office of the Clerk of Court. 12
Let us discuss the issues in seriatim.
The first and second issues shall bediscussed jointly as they are interrelated.
In his Comment, respondent claimed that he should be exonerated from the charges against him since
the amount he demanded from complainant for the release of the Certificate of Finality relative to Land
Case Nos. 021-P06 and 020-P06 covers the appearance fee required under pertinent circulars of the
Department of Justice (DOJ) and the commissioners fee under Section 21(e), Rule 141 of the Rules of
Court.
We do not agree.
To begin with, clerks of court are important officers in the judicial system. Their administrative functionsare
vital to the prompt and sound administration of justice. They cannot be allowed to overstep their powers
and responsibilities. Their office is the hub of adjudicative and administrative orders, processes and
judicial concerns. They perform a very delicate function as custodian of the courts funds, revenues,
records, property and premises. They are specifically imbued with the mandate to safeguard the integrity
of the court as well as the efficiency of its proceedings, and to uphold the confidence of the public in the
administration of justice. As such, this Court cannotcountenance any act or omission of any court
personnel that would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish the faith of the people in the
Judiciary.13
Here, it appears that respondent went beyond his responsibilities when he demanded the payment
of P3,000.00 from complainant. Such act violates Chapter VI, Section D, par. 1.2.12 of the 2002 Revised
Manual for Clerks of Court which states that branch clerks of court who are directed by the judge to
receive evidence ex parteshall not demand and/orreceive commissioners fees. In fact, only the amount
of P500.00 may be collected pursuant to Section 21(e), Rule 141 of the Rules of Court.

Time and again, we have held that clerks of court are not authorized to demand and/or receive
commissioners fees for reception of evidence ex parte. 14 To be entitled to reasonable compensation, a
commissioner must not be an employee of the court. Section D (7), Chapter IV of the Manual for Clerks of
Court provides that "The Court shall allow the commissioner, other than an employee of the court, such
reasonable compensation as the circumstances of the case warrant to betaxed as costs against the
defeated party, or apportioned, as justice requires." 15
Accordingly, respondent, as a court employee, has no authority to demand or receive any commissioners
fee.
Thus, the OCA aptly held that, assuch, respondent should be held liable for simple misconduct which is
punishable under Section 52(B), Rule IV of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the
Civil Service, with a penalty of suspension from one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months for a first
offense of misconduct. Considering that this is respondents first infraction, the penaltyof three (3) months
would suffice.
Anent the third issue, the OCA properly observed:
Records showed that complainant went to Branch 67, RTC, [Paniqui], Tarlac on February 20, 2007, with
only a text message from Atty. Lavezares Leomo, to secure a certified photocopy of a petition relative to
Land Case No. 051-06. Respondent advised complainant to secure a letter request from Atty. Leomo
because it was the policy of the court to provide court documents only to parties to the case and their
counsel or duly authorized representatives. The text message from Atty. Leomo was not the official
request required by the court and respondents refusal to provide complainant the requested documents
was proper to protect the integrity of court records. Court records are public documents and access to
these documents shall be afforded the citizens, subject to certain limitations provided by law.
It must be emphasized that Atty. Leomo was provided with the requested documents when he personally
went to the court and explained that he needed a copy of the Petition in Land Case No. 051-06, including
its annexes, particularly the Affidavit of Loss and the Finality of the Decision because his client, Nelita S.
Navarro, intended to file an opposition to the petition. This only showed that upon formal request,
respondent will not hesitate toprovide court documents. Respondent, however, may be heldliable for
conduct unbecoming a court employee for his attitude towards complainant. It appears from a reading of
the transcript of stenographic notes that complainant became rude when respondent turned down his
request to get a photocopy of the petition and other court documents. Ronaldo P. David and Ruben
Giganti, court employees, both testified that complainant shouted and pointed a finger at respondent
when he requested for the documents. To avoid confrontation, respondent called for themto escort
complainant out of the office. Complainant continued shouting invectives, hence, respondent upon being
informed of complainants behavior, went outand confronted complainant. It was at this moment when
Danilo Dacoma, a friend of complainant, saw a person wearing barong (referring to respondent)
reprimanding complainant and saying "I am from Victoria, you youre here in Paniqui, if you like we just
box each other."16
From the foregoing, it is obvious that complainant and respondent had a heated argument on February
20, 2007.1wphi1Thus, although complainants actions are reprehensible, it was equally inappropriate for
respondent to have handled the situation that way considering that he is a court officer.

The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and Employees (Republic Act No. 6713)
sets out a policy towards promoting a high standard of ethical responsibility inthe public service. It enjoins
those in the government service to extend prompt, courteous and adequate service to the public, and, at
all times, to respect the rights of others and refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals and good
customs, among other ideals.17 As a public officer, respondent is bound, in the performance of his official
duties, to observe courtesy, civility and self-restraint in his dealings with the public. 18
Regrettably, although respondentsreaction was understandable given the circumstances, he should have
still conducted himself in a manner befitting an officer of the court. For this, respondent is admonished
and warned to be more courteous inhis dealings with the public.
As to the fourth issue, no evidence was presented to prove that respondents wife holds office at the
Office of the Clerk of Court. Per Judge Yumuls findings, respondents claim that his wife only dropped by
his office to remind him to fetch their daughter from school was not even repudiated by complainant.
In view of the foregoing, we agree with the OCAs findings and recommendations. WHEREFORE,
premises considered, respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the service for a period of three (3)
months for SIMPLE MISCONDUCT, for demanding from complainant the amount of P3,000.00 as
commissioners fee and appearance fee, in Land Case Nos. 021-P06 and 020-P06. Respondent, is
likewise, ADMONISHED for Violating the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel and of Section 4(e),
Republic Act No. 6713, and STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt
with more severely in the future.
SO ORDERED.

IMELDA CATO GADDI, Complainant, v. ATTY. LOPE M. VELASCO, Respondent.


RESOLUTION
CARPIO, ACTING C.J.:
The Case
Before us is an administrative complaint filed by Imelda Cato Gaddi (Gaddi) against Atty. Lope M. Velasco
(Velasco) for violation of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice.
The Facts
According to Gaddi, she was the Operations and Accounting Manager of the Bert Lozada Swimming
School (BLSS) when she broached the idea of opening a branch of BLSS in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya
(BLSS in Solano) to Angelo Lozada (Angelo), the Chief Operations Officer of BLSS. Believing that Angelo
agreed, Gaddi opened a BLSS in Solano. However, in April 2010, Angelo informed the management that
he did not authorize a BLSS in Solano. Upon Angelos complaint, the police officers apprehended the
swimming instructors of BLSS in Solano, namely: Jonathan Lagamzon Lozare, Katherine Agatha Gaddi
Ancheta, who is Gaddis niece, and Lorenz Ocampo Gaddi, who is Gaddis grandson.
At past 10:00 a.m. of 22 April 2010, while inside the BLSS main office in Sta. Ana, Manila, Gaddi was
informed of the apprehension of the swimming instructors. Worried, Gaddi pleaded with Angelos wife,
Kristina Marie, and the BLSS Programs Manager Aleza Garcia for permission to leave the office and
proceed to Nueva Vizcaya. Instead of acceding to her plea, they commanded Gaddi to make a
handwritten admission1 that the BLSS in Solano was unauthorized. They warned Gaddi that she cannot
leave the office without the handwritten admission. Thus, Gaddi conceded in doing the handwritten
admission and left the office before 1:00 p.m. of the same day. Subsequently, Gaddi found out that Angelo
filed a complaint against her regarding the BLSS in Solano using her handwritten admission, which was
already
notarized
by
Velasco.
Thus, Gaddi filed the present complaint against Velasco for violation of the 2004 Rules on Notarial
Practice, specifically Rule IV, Section 2 (b) and Rule VI, Section 3. Gaddi denied that she personally
appeared before Velasco to have her handwritten admission notarized. She alleged that she did not
consent to its notarization nor did she personally know him, give any competent evidence of identity or
sign
the
notarial
register.
In his comment dated 17 September 2010,2 Velasco alleged that he was commissioned notary public for
Makati City from 4 January 2010 to 31 December 2011. He alleged that Gaddi appeared before him in his
notarial office in Makati City on 22 April 2010 and requested for the notarization of a four-page
handwritten document. He ascertained Gaddis identity, through two identification cards her BLSS ID
and Tax Identification Number (TIN) ID, and that the document was her own. Thereafter, he notarized the
document and recorded it in his notarial register as Doc. No. 130, Page No. 27, Book No. 192, Series of
2010. Velasco insisted that he duly complied with the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice and it was Gaddis
complaint, which was notarized by a fake notary public. Velasco claimed that Gaddi only denied having
the document notarized when she found out that Angelo used the document against her.
In a Resolution dated 18 October 2010, 3 the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
In a Report and Recommendation dated 23 June 2011, 4 Investigating Commissioner Pablo S. Castillo
(Investigating Commissioner) found the complaint impressed with merit, and recommended a penalty of

fine of P5,000.00 on Velasco for violation of Rule IV, Section 2(b) and Rule VI, Section 3 of the 2004
Rules
on
Notarial
Practice.
The Investigating Commissioner gave more credence to Gaddis statement that she did not personally
appear before Velasco to have her handwritten admission notarized. The Investigating Commissioner
found it contradictory to logic and human experience that Gaddi went first to Makati City to have her selfincriminating handwritten admission notarized before proceeding to Nueva Vizcaya. The Investigating
Commissioner also believed Gaddis statement that the identification cards presented by Velasco were
computer-generated from the BLSS office, since the portion of the notarial certificate listing the evidence
of identity was left blank. As to Velascos claim that Gaddis complaint had a fake notary public, the
Investigating
Commissioner
found
it
unsubstantiated.
In Resolution No. XX-2013-1275 passed on 13 February 2013, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
approved
the
Investigating
Commissioners
report
and
recommendation,
to
wit:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with
modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled
case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A, and finding the recommendation fully supported
by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and for violation of Rule IV, Sec. [2(b) and
Rule VI, Sec.] 3 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice, Atty. Lope M. Velascos Notarial Commission is
hereby REVOKED and DISQUALIFIED for being Commissioned as Notary Public for two (2) years with
stern [w]arning to be more circumspect in his dealing and that repetition of the same act shall be dealt
with more severely.
There was no motion for reconsideration filed.
The Ruling of the Court
We

sustain

the

findings

of

the

IBP

and

adopt

its

recommendations

with

modification.

Time and again, we have reminded lawyers commissioned as notaries public that notarization is not an
empty, meaningless, and routinary act.6 Notarization converts a private document to a public document,
making it admissible in evidence without further proof of its authenticity. 7 A notarial document is, by law,
entitled to full faith and credit upon its face; for this reason, notaries public must observe with utmost care
the
basic
requirements
in
the
performance
of
their
duties. 8cralawred
The 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice provides that a notary public should not notarize a document unless
the signatory to the document is in the notarys presence personally at the time of the notarization, and
personally known to the notary public or otherwise identified through competent evidence of identity. 9 At
the time of notarization, the signatory shall sign or affix with a thumb or mark the notary publics notarial
register.10 The purpose of these requirements is to enable the notary public to verify the genuineness of
the signature and to ascertain that the document is the signatorys free act and deed. 11 If the signatory is
not acting of his or her own free will, a notary public is mandated to refuse to perform a notarial act. 12 A
notary public is also prohibited from affixing an official signature or seal on a notarial certificate that is
incomplete.13cralawred
In the present case, contrary to Velascos claim that Gaddi appeared before him and presented two
identification cards as proof of her identity, the notarial certificate, in rubber stamp, itself indicates:
SUBSCRIBE AND SWORN TO BEFORE ME THIS APR 22, 2010 x x x AT MAKATI CITY. AFFIANT
EXHIBITING TO ME HIS/HER C.T.C. NO.__________ISSUED AT/ON___________. 14 The unfilled
spaces clearly establish that Velasco had been remiss in his duty of ascertaining the identity of the
signatory to the document. Velasco did not comply with the most basic function that a notary public must
do, that is, to require the presence of Gaddi; otherwise, he could have ascertained that the handwritten
admission was executed involuntarily and refused to notarize the document. Furthermore, Velasco affixed
his signature in an incomplete notarial certificate. Velasco did not even present his notarial register to

rebut Gaddis allegations. It is presumed that evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if
produced.15cralawred
In Isenhardt v. Real,16 a notary public who failed to discharge his duties was meted out the penalty of
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. For notarizing a document
without ascertaining the identity and voluntariness of the signatory to the document, for affixing his
signature in an incomplete notarial certificate, and for dishonesty in his pleadings, Velasco failed to
discharge his duties as notary public and breached Canon 1 17 and Rule 1.0118 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Considering these findings and our previous rulings, 19 Velasco should not only be
disqualified for two years as a notary public, he must also be suspended from the practice of law for one
year.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Lope M. Velasco GUILTY of violating the 2004 Rules on
Notarial Practice and the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, the Court SUSPENDShim
from the practice of law for one year, REVOKES his incumbent notarial commission, if any,
andPROHIBITS him from being commissioned as a notary public for two years, effective immediately,
with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondents
personal record as attorney. Likewise, copies shall be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and
all
courts
in
the
country
for
their
information
and
guidance.
SO ORDERED.cralawlaw library