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Canon 16 Hold in Trust Client's Moneys and Properties Rule 16.01 Account|
Per Curiam| September 3, 2003
Nature of Case: Disbarment case
Petitioner: Felicitas Berbano
Respondent: Atty. Wenceslao Barcelona
Berbano, one of the heirs of Rufino Esteban Hilapo, appointed as
attorney-in-fact Porfrio Daen to settle their land dispute with Filinvest Dev.
Corp. Pending the land dispute, Daen was incarcerated. She sought the
assistance of Barcelona in releasing Daen. Berbano and Daen's nephew gave
Barcelona a total of PhP64,000 for the cause as Barcelona purported that he
knew a Justice of the Supreme Court who can help with Daen's release but
that he would need money for it. However, Daen was not released from jail as
promised and Berbano, in her several attempts to recover the money, was
evaded by Barcelona.
The Court held that Berbano has violated several canons of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, including Canon 16 and Rule 16.01, which
demands that lawyers must account for all the money received from the
client. Furthermore, Barcelona had a previous administrative complaint
against him of similar nature and had, as in that case, ignored all hearings and
notices from the Investigating Commissioner. Barcelona was thus declared
disbarred from the practice of law and was ordered to return PhP64,000 to
The Code exacts from lawyers not only a firm respect for law, legal processes
and the courts but also mandates the utmost degree of fidelity and good
faith in dealing with clients and the moneys entrusted to them pursuant to
their fiduciary relationship.

Naty Sibuya, a friend, recommended Wenceslao Barcelona, her
cousin-in-law, to assist in the release of Daen
o 26 Jan 1999 - Barcelona purported that he could have Daen
released the following day if he would be given PhP50,000.
Berbano gave him only PhP15,700 as it was already around
10:30PM and could only gather the money from their relatives
o 27 Jan 1999 – At a Max's Restaurant, 12NN, Berbano handed
Barcelona a pay-to-cash cheque amounting to PhP24,000 dated
29 Jan 1999. Barcelona claimed that the Justices of the Supreme
Court do not accept cheques but took the cheque presented
o 28 Jan 1999 – Berbano gave an additional PhP10,000 in cash to
Barcelona through the latter's wife. As the cheque was allegedly
not encashed according to Barcelona, PhP15,000 was given to
him by Gil Daen, Porfrio's nephew. Berbano also gave PhP1,000
for Barcelona's gasoline expenses.
o 3 Feb 1999 – Barcelona told Berbano that Daen will be released
the following day.
o 4 Feb 1999 – Daen was not released and Barcelona, according to
his wife, was in Mindanao attending a peace talk with the
o After more than a week – Barcelona promised that he would
return the PhP64,000 but was never heard from or seen again by
15 Apr 1999 – Investigating Commissioner J. Virgilio A. Bautista of CBD
IBP required Barcelona to submit an answer to the complaint. Barcelona
never submitted despite due notice received by him.
13 Aug 1999 – Respondent failed to appear in the hearing and was then
considered in default. Complainant testified and manifested that she
would bring the PhP24,0000 cheque.
Complainant and respondent failed to appear in the following hearings:
1 Oct and 19 Nov in 1999, 12 Oct and 14 Dec in 2001 and 28 Jun 2002.
23 Dec 2002 – Commissioner Bautista recommended that respondent was
guilty of malpractice and serious breach of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and recommended that he be disbarred and ordered to
return the PhP24,0000.
IBP Board of Governors affirmed the recommendation but modified the
penalty to suspension for 6 years

 11 Mar 1999 – Felicitas Berbano filed a sworn affidavit before the IBP and
alleged the following:

o Berbano was one of the heirs of Rufino Esteban Hilapo and had
appointed Porfirio Daen as their attorney-in-fact in the
settlement of a land dispute against Filinvest Dev. Corp. with the ISSUE/S & RATIO:
Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems (COSLAP)
1. WON Barcelona should be disbarred? YES.
involving 244 hectare land in Alabang, Muntinlupa
a. Respondent callously demeaned the legal profession by taking
o 26 Jan 1999 – Daen was arrested by a Muntinlupa police who
money from a client under the pretext of having connections
presented an expired warrant dated Feb 1990 and was detained
with a Justice of the Supreme Court
at Muntinlupa City Jail, Tunasan

Aquino's property was foreclosed. convincing and satisfactory proof is required. conduct and attitude of • • the complainant and found that her Berbano's testimony and her affidavit to be sufficient On disbarment cases ◦ Sui generis. Aquino v.00 that he had received pursuant to an execution. A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession.555. neither purely civil or criminal with public interest as the primary objective and the preservation and purity of legal profession and the honest administration of justice. Others: • On cheque not being presented ◦ Only preponderance of evidence is required in a disbarment case ◦ Commissioner and IBP Board of Governors has the ability to weight the testimony in the light of the demeanor. Jr.A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client. J. Act of respondent of not filing his answer and not attending the hearings displays his contempt for legal proceedings RULING: Court ordered the disbarment of Barcelona as he was found guilty of gross misconduct and in violating Canons 1. d. Rule 16. obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal process. No such person was employed by PNB and as a result. Atty Wenceslao C. . Canon 11. Adaza -Suspended from the practice of law for 6 months for charging his clients the amount of P15. Barcelona where he asked and received an amount of PhP60.b. ◦ Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pool. ◦ Burden of proof rests on the complainant. ◦ Gonato vs. A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others. NOTE: Relevant Provisions Canon 1. Respondent had the audacity to say that Justices of the Supreme Court do not accept cheques c.01 and ordered that PhP64.344. Respondent has a penchant for misrepresenting to clients that he has the proper connections to secure the relief they seek and ask for money allegedly to be given to said connections e. A lawyer shall uphold the constitution. Lumaya -Indefinite suspension of a lawyer for not remitting to his client the amount of P4. Inc.980. ◦ Dumadag vs.: Civil award should be taken apart from the administrative case. Canon 7.00 as filing fees when in fact no such fees were due. Naldozadisbarred for obtaining from his client the amount of US$2. Atty. Atty. Respondent had been charged and found guilty of conduct unbecoming of a lawyer in Gil T. 11. Atty. Other cases which the Court used as basis for the disbarment ◦ Judge Angeles vs.500. Canon 16. Uy.01 . vs.00 he received on behalf of his client.000 be returned to the complainant within 30 days from receipt of the notice. Clear. 7.000 as he misrepresented that he knew a legal assistant named Gonzalo Mericullo in PNB who could restructure the loan of the then complainant. The Court suspended respondent for six years. DISSENT: Vitug. 16 and Rule 16. when in fact no such amount has been paid or that the Court required such payment.00 allegedly as cash bond in an appealed case before this Court. A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the integrated bar. -Suspended for a month for failing to promptly report and remit the amount of P16..