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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
1.

A.M. No. 2008-19-SC

August 18, 2010

RE: COMPLAINTS OF MRS. MILAGROS LEE AND SAMANTHA LEE AGAINST ATTY. GIL LUISITO R. CAPITO
RESOLUTION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Atty. Gil Luisito R. Capito (respondent), Court Attorney IV at the Office of the Chief Attorney (OCAT), was charged with grave misconduct and
willful failure to pay just debts by Milagros Lee (Milagros) and her daughter Samantha Lee.
Atty. Eden T. Candelaria (Atty. Candelaria), Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Administrative Officer, in her February 6, 2009
Memorandum,1 summarizes the facts which spawned the filing of the complaint against respondent as follows:
Mrs. Milagros Lee alleged that sometime in March 2008, Atty. Capito was introduced to her by neighbors Ma. Cecilia and Ferdinand De Guzman
as she needs a lawyer to file a claim for financial support for her and her children against her husband who is in Hawaii. Atty. Capito is a friend of
Ferdinand De Guzman.
Mrs. Lee again encountered Atty. Capito in the third week of April 2008 when Ms. De Guzman (a.k.a. Michelle) picked up Mrs. Lee in her house
and told her that Atty. Capito is in their (Michelle[s]) house and that Mrs. Lee can now consult her problems with Platinum Plans and her claim
for support against her husband. The De Guzman spouses made mention to her that Atty. Capito specializes in land cases and that he is connected
with Senator Loren Legarda. She came to know also that Atty. Capito is working in the Supreme Court. [Mrs.] Milagros Lees marriage contract
and other documents were photocopied by Samantha Lee and were given to Atty. Capito for his information.
On June 26, 2008, Mrs. Lee had a meeting with Atty. Capito at KFC to discuss the matter concerning her possible claim for support. After the
consultation, Atty. Capito said, "Malabo na daw makaclaim for support," and he did not do any legal action on the matter.
On June 27, 2008, Atty. Capito went to Mrs. Lees house to borrow money. She told him that she does not have any, and that his (Atty. Capito[s])
friends, the De Guzman spouses, induced her to invest money that would earn a lot, but the money was not returned anymore. She was in short,
scammed. She mentioned, however, that she has an existing bracelet which Atty. Capito asked her to pawn and give him the money so he could
redeem his cell phone from the casino. The bracelet was pawned for P7,000.00 and the P4,000.00 was allegedly lent to Atty. Capito.
The following day, June 28, 2008, Atty. Capito called Mrs. Lee on the phone and asked the latter if he can come to her house and stay there for
just two (2) weeks. Mrs. Lee consented, but his stay was prolonged for a month. During his stay in Mrs. Lees house, Atty. Capito was treated as a
guest. He told Mrs. Lee that he will pay for the board and lodging. But it did not happen. Not a single centavo was actually paid to her.
On July 7, 2008, despite the borrowed sum not having been returned yet, Atty. Capito again borrowed P10,000 from Mrs. Lee and promised that
he will return the money immediately. Because he saw the Lees kindness, he again borrowed money twice. One was on a date which Mrs. Lee
cannot remember anymore, and another one was on July 23, 2008. Both were in the amount of P1,000.00 each. Mrs. Lee alleged that Atty. Capito
was in dire need as he has no money for his daily use. He even asked Mrs. Lee to borrow money for him if she has some other acquaintance or
friend as he had a problem with a case he filed, and proposed to double the payment. His debt with the complaint allegedly reached to P16,000[.]
For several times, Mrs. Lee called Atty. Capito in the OCAT through phone, but she received an answer "wala pa" until Mrs. Lee told him to give
the exact date when to pay her. Mrs. Lee alleged that Atty. Capito promised to pay her on September 30, 2008. On said date, Mrs. Lee together
with her daughter Samantha, went early to the said office but she was told "wala pa." Mrs. Lee got angry as they needed the money already that is
why they came early to see him at his office.2 (italics in the original; underscoring supplied)
When Milagros finally met respondent on September 30, 2008, respondent, in the presence of several others, told her "Eh kung sabihin ko na
sugar mommy kita,"3 adding that "Nagpapakantot ka naman sa akin."4
Respondents side of the case was also summarized by Atty. Candelaria, viz:
In the investigations conducted by this Office, Atty[.] Capito denied having stayed in the house of Mrs. Lee. He claimed that he is not indebted to
Mrs. Lee, and stated that he had already explained everything in his Affidavit of Explanation and Rejoinder. The said pleadings he filed deny any
indebtedness owing to Mrs. Lee as the alleged indebtedness is not supported by any concrete evidence and that Mrs. Lee is saying things
irrelevant to the complaint not intended to prove the alleged indebtedness but intended to ruin his honor and reputation. Atty. Capito alleged
that it is the complainants who are in dire need of money as they even asked him to write a demand letter to the father of Ferdinand De Guzman
for the latter to pay even a small amount of money for their daily living. The accusations though not true, caused the recurrence of his asthma
[rendering] him unable to report for work for several days[.] He maintains that he is the administrator of the estate of his father Luis Capito
(Former Mayor of Borongan, Eastern Samar for more than twenty [20] years) whose assets and properties is worth the amount
of P10,000,000.00.5 (underscoring supplied)

Leonora F. Dio, Executive Assistant at the OCAT, corroborated complainant Milagros account of the September 30, 2008 incident that
respondent, while engaged in a heated argument with Milagros, loudly uttered:"Nagpapakantot ka naman . . .!"6
Jose Torres, testifying for complainant, related that he one time drove Milagros and respondent to Pampanga; and that also at one time, while he
was buying something at the store of Milagros, he saw respondent seated in her sala wearing a t-shirt.
Torres wife Edeta declared that she once saw respondent knocking at the door of Milagros house while she was at the latters store buying some
stuff.
Still testifying for Milagros, Toribio S. Balicot, Computer Operator IV, Records Division, OCAT, declared that respondents cellphone number
09282037934 which is registered in his (Balicots) cellfone, is the same number claimed by Milagros to be respondents cellphone number.
Atty. Candelaria thereupon evaluated the case, parts of which are quoted below:
On the first issue, we give credence to the testimony of complainants that Atty. Capito indeed stayed in their house, vis--vis denial asserted by
Atty. Capito. Mrs. Lees claim was corroborated by her fifteen (15) year old daughter, Ms. Samantha Lee[.]
xxxx
Her testimony affirmed her sworn statement. Her personal account was answered in the first person and not stated as "told to her" or "as
instructed to her". No words of uncertainty was reflected in her testimony of the fact that Atty. Capito stayed in their house. A fifteen (15) year old
girl would not usually lie on her personal knowledge of the incident.
Added to these was the text message presented by Mrs. Lee that came from cellphone number 09282037934[.]
xxxx
. . . Mr. Balicot who works in the same office, confirmed in his testimony that cellphone number 09282037934 belongs to Atty. Capito as the
same number is registered in his cellphone in the name of Atty. Capito. . . .
Moreover, Mr. Torres testified that he saw Atty. Capito either once or twice in the sala of Mrs. Lee wearing a t-shirt.
On the issue of alleged indebtedness of P16,000.00, we are not inclined to recommend favorable action by the Court . . .
. . . The claim was neither raised and adjudicated in the First Level Court (Metropolitan Trial Court) nor is theexistence and justness of the
amount of debt undisputed by the respondent. Atty. Capito denied that he has any debt owing to Mrs. Lee, hence the latter must thresh out her
claim before the small claims court[.]7 (italics in the original; underscoring supplied)
Respondents alleged private practice of law was found unsubstantiated.8
Respondents utterance of vulgar words9 was found "uncalled for and totally abhorring" by Atty. Candelaria given that the words were uttered in
the presence of Milagros daughter and in public.10
Atty. Candelaria thus concluded that respondent is liable for gross discourtesy.11
The Court finds that respondent is indeed guilty of gross discourtesy amounting to conduct unbecoming of a court employee. By such violation,
respondent failed to live up to his oath of office as member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and violated Rule 7.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.12
Gross discourtesy in the course of official duties is classified as less grave offense under the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in
the Civil Service,13 punishable with suspension for one month and one day to six months for the first offense and dismissal for the second
offense.14
In recommending the penalty for respondent, Atty. Candelaria found two mitigating circumstances in his favor: (1) his 17 years of service to the
Court and (2) this being the first time that he has been administratively charged.
Atty. Candelaria thus gave the following recommendations:
(a) The case of willful failure to pay just debts be dismissed for failure of complainant to substantiate the charge. However,
complainant Mrs. Lee is informed that the Court is not a collection agency. The sum of money representing the respondents alleged
indebtedness can be claimed before the regular court as a collection suit;
(b) Respondent . . . be suspended for three (3) months without pay for Gross Discourtesy, with a warningthat a repetition of the same
o[r] similar acts . . . will be dealt with more severely;
(c) For his demeanor which appears to be a violation of Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the same be referred to
the Office of the Bar Confidant for appropriate action.15(underscoring supplied)

The Court has consistently been reminding officials and employees of the Judiciary that their conduct or behavior is circumscribed with a heavy
burden of responsibility which, at all times, should be characterized by, among other things, strict propriety and decorum. As such, they should
not use abusive, offensive, scandalous, menacing and improper language. Their every act or word should be marked by prudence, restraint,
courtesy and dignity.161wphi1
It appearing that aside from violating Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, respondent appears to have also violated Rule
8.0117 of the same Code, the recommendation to refer the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant for appropriate action is in order.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Gil Luisito R. Capito, Court Attorney IV, Office of the Chief Attorney, is, for Gross Discourtesy,SUSPENDED for Three
Months without pay, with a WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
Let this case be referred to the Office of the Bar Confidant for appropriate action, it appearing that respondent has also violated Rules 7.03 and
8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
SO ORDERED.
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice
2.

[A.M. No.RTJ-03-1813. November 21, 2003]

ATTY. ANTONIO D. SELUDO, complainant, vs. JUDGE ANTONIO J. FINEZA, respondent.


DECISION
PUNO, J.:
The incident which gave rise to this administrative case occurred in the course of the proceedings of People of the Philippines vs. Alfonso
De Villar, Errol De Villar and Rodeo Lerio, Criminal Case No. C-58093 for attempted murder, before respondent Judge Antonio J. Fineza, Branch
131 of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City.
The respondent judge was charged administratively by Atty. Antonio D. Seludo, counsel for the accused, before the Office of the Court
Administrator of the Supreme Court, with the following offenses: (1) gross ignorance of the law, (2) oppression in office, (3) grave abuse of
authority, and (4) conduct unbecoming of a judge.[1]
It was alleged that on November 27, 2002, respondent judge ordered the arrest of complainant for the failure of accused, Errol De Villar
and Rodeo Lerio, as well as their counsel, Atty. Antonio Seludo, to appear in todays promulgation of (the) decision despite due notice, x x x.
[2]
The Order of Arrest[3] commanded any officer of the law to arrest complainant and to keep him in jail until the decision in Criminal Case No.
58093 shall have been promulgated.
Complainant averred that he was the defense counsel in two separate Criminal Cases: (1) Nos. 178462-64 before Judge Edwin B. Ramizo
and (2) No. C-58093 before respondent judge. On November 11, 2002, complainant received an order from respondent setting the promulgation
of the decision in Criminal Case No. 58093 on November 18. The promulgation did not push through as respondent judge was confined in a
hospital. On November 25, complainant received another order setting the promulgation at 8:30 a.m. of November 27. However, upon checking
his calendar, complainant noticed that on the said date and time, he had a previously-set hearing of Criminal Case Nos. 178462-64 before
Judge Ramizo. Due to the conflicting schedule, he instructed his secretary to inform the office of respondent judge that he could not attend the
promulgation of his decision. He was thus surprised to receive on November 28, the aforementioned order directing his arrest and detention.
Upon his arrest, complainant requested permission to go to the court of respondent judge to ask for reconsideration. In court, respondent
judge refused to see him. Complainant waited and was able to talk to respondent judge when the latter went out of his chambers and walked to his
car. Complainant pleaded with respondent judge, who opened the windows of his car and, in the presence of the police officers, said, kung gusto
mo, pumuntakasaharapngkotseko at sasagasaannalangkita.[4]
Complainant spent the night in jail. The next day, he was brought to court for the promulgation of the decision. However, Prosecutor
EulogioMananquil, Jr., the public prosecutor, came late and was improperly dressed. Respondent judge flared up, fined him and held the
promulgation in abeyance until Prosecutor Mananquil paid the cashier the one thousand peso (P1,000.00)-fine meted on him. Atty. Eduardo
Rodriguez, the lawyer assisting complainant, requested for a written order to be presented to the cashier as basis for the payment of the imposed
fine, but respondent merely told him, If you want an order, I will sign that order on Monday. [5] Fortunately, Prosecutor Mananquil was able to pay
the fine. The decision was promulgated on the same afternoon and complainant was released from jail.
Complainant claimed that he attended all scheduled hearings of Criminal Case No. 58093 before respondent judge, and that it was only the
promulgation set on November 27 that he missed due to a conflict in schedule. He alleged that due to his incarceration, he failed to attend to the
hearing of his cases involving six paying clients set in the morning of November 29.
In his comment, respondent judge denied the allegations of the complaint. He called the complainant a fact fabricator, a congenital liar, and
an Indian, meaning, he failed to comply with his commitment. [6] He averred that he ordered the incarceration of complainant to avoid delay in the
promulgation of the decision in Criminal Case No. 58093. Allegedly, complainant failed to attend the first scheduled date of promulgation. He
emphasized his fast disposal of cases such that for the years 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002, his inventory of pending cases showed a

zero balance. He likewise denied the car incident and alleged that he merely asked complainant, umalis ka diyan at bakamasagasaaniyongpaa,
[7]
since complainant was leaning on the left side of his car.
Complainant replied stating that his secretary called respondents office on November 18, and was told that all hearings scheduled for the
day were cancelled due to respondents hospitalization. He denied he was delaying the case.
The report of the Office of the Court Administrator is adverse to the respondent judge, viz:
xxxxxxxxx
The arrest of the complainant was, therefore, not only illegal, but also oppressive, and it violated his constitutional right to due process.
Complainant was arrested and detained without giving him the opportunity to be heard. In so doing, respondent judge, wittingly or unwittingly,
committed arbitrary detention defined and penalized under Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code when the order of arrest was issued for
complainant (who) was not committing a crime
xxxxxxxxx
In his COMMENT, respondent judge used the words: fact fabricator, congenital liar, Indian who fails to comply with his commitment and dimwitted lawyer, as descriptive of the complainant. These words are inflammatory which should have been avoided. In explaining why he issued the
order of arrest against the complainant, the use of intemperate and insulting rhetorics is not necessary, if only to maintain the dignity of, and
respect for, the court as an institution.[8]
The OCA recommended that respondent judge be penalized to pay a FINE in the amount of twenty thousand pesos ( P20,000.00) for gross
ignorance of the law, oppression, grave abuse of authority and violation of Rule 8.01, [9] Canon 8 and Rule 10.03,[10] Canon 10 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.[11]
We agree with modification.
In the case at bar, respondent based his authority in ordering complainants incarceration on Section 14, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of
Court, which provides:
Sec. 14. Bail to secure appearance of material witness. When the court is satisfied, upon proof or oath, that a material witness will not testify
when required, it may, upon motion of either party, order the witness to post bail in such sum as may be deemed proper. Upon refusal to post bail,
the court shall commit him to prison until he complies or is legally discharged after his testimony has been taken.
It does not need a keen intellect to hold that the rule relied upon by the respondent cannot be used as basis for the detention of complainant
since he is a counsel and not a material witness to a case.
Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court is likewise of no help to the respondent. It does not require the presence of the counsel during the
promulgation of a judgment, viz:
SEC. 6. Promulgation of judgment The judgment is promulgated by reading it in the presence of the accused and any judge of the court in which
it was rendered. However, if the conviction is for a light offense, the judgment may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or
representative. When the judge is absent or is outside the province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the clerk of court.
If the accused is confined or detained in another province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the executive judge of the Regional Trial
Court having jurisdiction over the place of confinement or detention upon the request of the court which rendered the judgment. The court
promulgating the judgment shall have authority to accept the notice of appeal and to prove the bail bond pending appeal; provided, that if the
decision of the trial court convicting the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for bail can only
be filed and resolved by the appellate court.
The proper clerk of court shall give notice to the accused personally or through his bondsman or warden and counsel, requiring him to be present
at the promulgation of the decision. If the accused was tried in absentia because he jumped bail or escaped from prison, the notice to him shall be
served at his last known address.
In case the accused fails to appear at the scheduled date of promulgation of judgment despite notice, the promulgation shall be made by recording
the judgment in the criminal docket and serving him a copy thereof at his last known address or thru his counsel.
If the judgment is for conviction and the failure of the accused to appear was without justifiable cause, he shall lose the remedies available in
these Rules against the judgment and the court shall order his arrest. Within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of the judgment, however, the
accused may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state the reasons for his absence at the scheduled
promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of these remedies within fifteen (15) days
from notice.
We hold that respondent violated Rule 3.04, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which states:

Rule 3.04. A judge should be patient, attentive, and courteous to lawyers, especially the inexperienced, to litigants, witnesses, and others
appearing before the court. A judge should avoid consciously falling into the attitude of mind that the litigants are made for the courts, instead of
the courts for the litigants.
It is plain that respondent was impatient and discourteous in dealing with complainant. Judges should respect all people appearing before
their courts, be they lawyers or litigants.Respondent ordered complainants arrest without according him the elementary right to challenge the
order. The violation of his right to due process cannot be denied. To be sure, complainant satisfactorily explained his absence in the November 18
scheduled promulgation. Before the promulgation, complainants secretary called respondents office to verify the schedule and was informed that
all hearings for the day were cancelled due to respondents confinement in the hospital. It is therefore inaccurate to contend that complainant was
absent twice, and he has to be arrested to prevent delay in the promulgation of the decision. The Office of the Court Administrator correctly
observed that the respondent should have followed the following procedure:
What respondent judge should have done under the circumstances obtaining at the time he issued the order of arrest of complainant was first to
issue an order directing him (Seludo), within a reasonable time, to show cause why he should not be punished for indirect contempt of court and,
reset the promulgation of the decision to some other time at the convenience of the court. If the explanation is not satisfactory to the court, then
and only then, that a penalty should be imposed upon the contemner.
It is likewise provided in A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC Re: Automatic Conversion of Some Administrative Cases Against Justices of the Court of
Appeals and the Sandiganbayan; Judges of Regular and Special Courts; and Court Officials Who are Lawyers as Disciplinary Proceedings
Against Them Both as Such Officials and as Members of the Philippine Bar, that administrative cases against judges of lower courts, who are
likewise lawyers, are based on grounds which are also grounds for disciplinary action of members of the Bar, among others, for violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility.
We consider respondent judge to have violated: (1) Rule 8.01, Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which prohibits the use of
inappropriate language:
Rule 8.01. A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper; and
(2) Rule 10.03, Can-on 10, which mandates the proper observance of the rules of procedure:
Rule 10.03 A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.
We are disappointed by respondents penchant for improper words when he called the complainant a fact fabricator, a congenital liar, an
Indian who fails to comply with his commitment and dim-witted. We had previously admonished respondent judge for using inappropriate
language. In Judge Antonio J. Fineza vs. Romeo P. Aruelo,[12] respondent judge filed a complaint against Aruelo, a Clerk of Court of another
branch for interfering with a case pending in his sala. He later withdrew his complaint on the ground that x xx the Supreme Court and the OCAD
did not take prompt action on (the) matter. It took for (sic) (them) two years and eight months without favorably giving due course to this
administrative case which was filed by this representation against the respondent. I am downgraded (sic) not to say I am saddened by the inaction
of the Supreme Court so I am withdrawing my complaint. He also added that (he is) already demoralized and (has) lost faith in the system. In our
decision, respondent judge was enjoined to be more circumspect in his language. He was likewise made to show cause why he should not be
administratively sanctioned for casting the Court and the Judiciary in bad light.
In his explanation, respondent claimed that he had no intention to speak ill against the Court or the Judiciary and attributed his intemperate
language to being human and having his own share of human frailties. Nonetheless, we admonished him to exercise prudence and restraint in his
language and sternly warned that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.[13]
In a more recent case decided by the Court En Banc, Lim vs. Judge Antonio J. Fineza,[14] respondent judge was also found guilty of gross
misconduct for failing to execute a judgment which had become final, and was fined P30,000.00, with a stern warning that a repetition of the
same act will be dealt with more severely.
We consider respondents act of ordering the detention of complainant without just cause as gross ignorance of the law or procedure, and
the improper use of words in his Comment as gross misconduct, [15] both under Section 8, Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, [16] as
amended, viz:
Sec. 8. Serious charges Serious charges include:
x xx xxx xxx
3. Gross misconduct constituting violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct;
x xx xxx xxx
9. Gross ignorance of the law or procedure;
x xx xxx xxx
Section 11 of the same Rule, provides the following penalty, viz:

SEC. 11. Sanctions A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious charge, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:
1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the Court may determine, and disqualification from
reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations. Provided,
however, that the forfeiture of benefits shall in no case include accrued leave credits;
2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or
3. A fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.
x xx xxx xxx
IN VIEW WHEREOF, we find respondent judge guilty of gross ignorance of procedure and impose on him a fine of P40,000.00, and
gross misconduct and impose on him a fine ofP40,000.00, considering his repetition of the offense.
SO ORDERED.
Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.

ATTY. ORLANDO V. DIZON,


Complainant,

THIRD DIVISION
3.
A.C. No. 6968
Present:

- versus QUISUMBING, Chairperson,


CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.

ATTY. MARICHU C. LAMBINO,


Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------x
ATTY. MARICHU C. LAMBINO,
Complainant,

Promulgated:
August 9, 2006

-versusATTY. ORLANDO V. DIZON,


Respondent.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:


The killing during a rumble on December 8, 1994 of University of the Philippines (UP) graduating student Dennis Venturina, the
chairperson of the UP College of Public Administration Student Council, drew the then Chancellor of UP Diliman Roger Posadas to seek the
assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Acting on the request of Chancellor Posadas, Atty. Orlando Dizon, then Chief of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the NBI,
together with his men, repaired to the Office of Col. Eduardo Bentain, head of the UP Security Force on December 12, 1994.

As two student-suspects in the killing, Francis Carlo Taparan and Raymundo Narag, were at the time in the office of Col. Bentain,
Atty. Dizon requested to take them into his custody. Atty. Marichu Lambino, Legal Counsel of UP Diliman, who repaired to the Office of
Col. Bentain, advised against Atty. Dizons move, however, he not being armed with a warrant for their arrest.

Chancellor Posadas and Vice Chancellor for students Rosario Torres-Yu, who also repaired to the office of the colonel, joined
Atty. Lambino in opposing the turn-over of the suspects to Atty. Dizon, despite the latters claim that under its Charter the NBI was authorized to
make warrantless arrests.

The suspects lawyer, one Atty. Villamor, later also showed up at the office of Col. Bentain and after what appeared to be a heated
discussion between Atty. Dizon and the UP officials, the students were allowed to go back to their dormitories, with Atty. Villamor undertaking to
accompany them to the NBI the following morning.

The two student-suspects were eventually indicted in court.

Hence, spawned the filing of a complaint by Atty. Dizon against Atty. Lambino before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), for
violation of Canon 1, Rules 1.1 to 1.3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, docketed as CBD Case No. 346.

Atty. Dizon had earlier filed a criminal complaint also against Atty. Lambino, together with Chancellor Posadas and Vice Chancellor
Torres-Yu and Col. Bentain, before the Ombudsman, for violation of P.D. 1829 which makes it unlawful for anyone to obstruct the apprehension
and prosecution of criminal offenses.

Atty. Lambino in turn charged Atty. Dizon before the IBP with violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically Canon
1, Rule 1.01, 1.02, and 1.03; Canon 6, Rules 6.01 and 6.02; and Canon 8, Rule 8.01, docketed as CBD Case No. 373.

The administrative cases were, on motion of Atty. Lambino, consolidated. Before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), the
issues were defined as follows:
1.
2.

Whether the act of Atty. Lambino in refusing to turn over the suspected students to the group of
Atty. Dizon constitutes violation of Code of Professional Responsibility.
Whether the act of Atty. Dizon in trying to arrest the student-suspects constitutes violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

By Report and Recommendation submitted to the Board of Governors of the IBP on June 20, 2005, CBD Investigating
Commissioner Siegfrid B. Mison recommended the dismissal of the complaint against Atty. Lambino in light of a finding that she acted within
her official duties as she safeguarded the rights of the students in accordance with the schools substitute parental authority and within the bounds
of the law as the NBI agents had no warrants of arrest.

With respect to the complaint against Atty. Dizon, the Commissioner recommended to reprimand him for violating the Code of
Professional Responsibility in recklesslytr[ying] to arrest the suspects without warrant.

The IBP Board of Governors, by Resolution of October 22, 2005, adopted and approved the Commissioners Report. The IBP
thereupon transferred to this Court its Notice of Resolution, together with the records of the cases which this Court noted by Resolution of
February 1, 2006.

As earlier stated, the issue against Atty. Lambino is whether she violated the Canons of Professional Ethics in refusing to turn over the
suspected students to the group of Atty. Dizon.

When the complaint of Atty. Dizon before the Ombudsman against Chancellor Posadas, Vice Chancellor Torres-Yu and
Atty. Lambino was elevated on Certiorari and Prohibition, this Court addressing in the negative the two issues raised therein, to wit:
(1) Whether the attempted arrest of the student suspects by the NBI could be validly made without a
warrant; and (2) Whether there was probable cause for prosecuting petitioner for violation of P.D. No. 1829. x x x,[1]

held that the objection of the said UP officials to the arrest of the students cannot be construed as a violation of P.D. No. 1829, Sec. 1 (c) without
rendering it unconstitutional,[2]they having a right to prevent the arrest [of the students] at the time because their attempted arrest was illegal.[3]

Indeed, Atty. Lambino was legally justified in advising against the turn over of the suspects to Atty. Dizon, there being no basis for him
to effect a warrantless arrest. Atty.Dizons administrative complaint against her must then be dismissed.

Respecting the complaint against Atty. Dizon, this Court, also in Posadas v. Ombudsman, held that [f]or the failure of the NBI agents to
comply with the constitutional and procedural requirements, . . . their attempt to arrest [the two student-suspects] without a warrant was illegal.[4]

In the main, Atty. Dizon invoked Section 1 (a) of Republic Act 157 (The NBI Charter) which empowers the NBI to undertake
investigations of crimes and other offenses against the laws of the Philippines, upon its own initiative and as public interest may require [5] and to
make arrests. The invocation does not impress. Said section does not grant the NBI the power to make warrantless arrests. The NBI Charter clearly
qualifies the power to make arrests to be in accordance with existing laws and rules.
Members of the investigation staff of the Bureau of Investigation shall be peace officers, and as such have the
following powers:
(a) To make arrests, searches and seizures in accordance with existing laws and rules.[6]
x x x x (Emphasis supplied)

By persisting in his attempt to arrest the suspected students without a warrant, Atty. Dizon violated Rule 1.02 of Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which provides:
CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND
PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.
xxxx
Rule 1.02 A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening
confidence in the legal system. (Emphasis supplied).

WHEREFORE, CBD Case No. 346 against Atty. Marichu C. Lambino is DISMISSED.

Atty. Orlando V. Dizon is, in CBD Case No. 373, found guilty of violation of Canon 1 of Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and is REPRIMANDEDand WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar infraction shall be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of
Justice.

SO ORDERED.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice

4.

A.C. No. 6396 October 25, 2005

ROSALIE DALLONG-GALICINAO, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. VIRGIL R. CASTRO, Respondent.
RESOLUTION

Tinga, J.:
This administrative case concerns a lawyer who hurled invectives at a Clerk of Court. Members of the bar decorum must at all times comfort
themselves in a manner befitting their noble profession.
Complainant Atty. Rosalie Dallong-Galicinao is the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya. On 8 May
2003, she filed with the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) a Complaint-Affidavit1 with
supporting documents2 against respondent Atty. Virgil R. Castro for Unprofessional Conduct, specifically violation of Canon 7, Rule 7.03, Canon
8 and Rule 8.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.3 The charge in the complaint is summed up as follows:
Respondent Atty. Castro was a private practitioner and Vice-President of IBP-Nueva Vizcaya Chapter. On 5 May 2003, respondent went to
complainants office to inquire whether the complete records of Civil Case No. 784, entitled Sps. CrispinoCastillano v. Sps. Federico S.
Castillano and FelicidadAberin, had already been remanded to the court of origin, MCTC Dupax del Norte, Alfonso Castaned, Nueva Vizcaya. It
must be noted that respondent was not the counsel of record of either party in Civil Case No. 784.
Complainant informed respondent that the record had not yet been transmitted since a certified true copy of the decision of the Court of Appeals
should first be presented to serve as basis for the transmittal of the records to the court of origin. To this respondent retorted scornfully, "Who will
certify the Court of Appeals Decision, the Court of Appeals? You mean to say, I would still have to go to Manila to get a certified true copy?"
Surprised at this outburst, complainant replied, "Sir, its in the Rules but you could show us the copy sent to the party you claim to be
representing." Respondent then replied, "Then you should have notified me of the said requirement. That was two weeks ago and I have been
frequenting your office since then, but you never bothered to notify me." Complainant replied, "It is not our duty, Sir, to notify you of the said
requirement."
Respondent then answered, "You mean to say it is not your duty to remand the record of the case?" Complainant responded, "No, Sir, I mean, its
not our duty to notify you that you have to submit a copy of the Court of Appeals decision." Respondent angrily declared in
Ilocano, "Kayatmonga saw-en, awanpakialam yon? Kasdiay?" ("You mean to say you dont care anymore? Is that the way it is?") He then turned
and left the office, banging the door on his way out to show his anger. The banging of the door was so loud it was heard by the people at the
adjacent RTC, Branch 30 where a hearing was taking place.4
After a few minutes, respondent returned to the office, still enraged, and pointed his finger at complainant and shouted, "Ukinnan, no
addatiungetmoitikilientekhaanmongaibaleskaniak ah!" ("Vulva of your mother! If you are harboring ill feelings against my client, dont turn your
ire on me!") Complainant was shocked at respondents words but still managed to reply, "I dont even know your client, Sir." Respondent left the
office and as he passed by complainants window, he again shouted, "Ukinnamngababai!" ("Vulva of your mother, you woman!")5
Complainant suffered acute embarrassment at the incident, as it happened in her office of which she was, and still is, the head and in front of her
staff. She felt that her credibility had been tarnished and diminished, eliciting doubt on her ability to command full respect from her staff. 6
The Complaint-Affidavit, filed three days after the incident, was supported by an Affidavit7 signed by employees of RTC-Bambang, Nueva
Vizcaya who witnessed the incident. The Affidavit narrated the same incident as witnessed by the said employees. A Motion to File Additional
Affidavit/Documentary Evidence was filed by complainant on 25 September 2003.8
On 26 May 2003, the CBD-IBP issued an Order9 requiring respondent to submit his answer to the complaint. Respondent submitted
his Compliance10 dated 18 June 2003. Respondent explained that he was counsel for the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 847, entitled Sps. Federico
Castillano, et al. v. Sps. Crispin Castillano, et al., filed with the RTC of Nueva Vizcaya, Branch 30. He learned of the finality of the decision of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 64962 with respect to Civil Case No. 847 before the lower court. Prior to the incident, he went to the office
of the complainant to request for the transmittal of the records of the case to the MCTC and the complainant reassured him of the same.
Respondent admits having inquired about the status of the transmittal of the records on 5 May 2003. However, he has no explanation as to what
transpired on that day. Instead, he narrates that on 25 May 2003, twelve days after the incident, the records had not yet been transmitted, and he
subsequently learned that these records were returned to the court of origin.
The hearing for the administrative complaint before the CBD was set on 25 September 2003 by the Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San
Juan. However, on said date, only complainant appeared. The latter also moved that the case be submitted for resolution. 11 Respondent later on
filed a Manifestation stating that the reason for his non-appearance was because he was still recuperating from physical injuries and that he was
not mentally fit to prepare the required pleadings as his vehicle was rained with bullets on 19 August 2003. He also expressed his public apology
to the complainant in the same Manifestation.12
Complainant filed a Manifestation expressing her desire not to appear on the next hearing date in view of respondents public apology, adding
that respondent personally and humbly asked for forgiveness which she accepted.13
The Investigating Commissioner recommended that respondent be reprimanded and warned that any other complaint for breach of his
professional duties shall be dealt with more severely.14 The IBP submitted to this Court a Notice of Resolution adopting and approving the
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.15
At the onset, it should be noted that respondent was not the counsel of record of Civil Case No. 784. Had he been counsel of record, it would have
been easy for him to present the required certified true copy of the decision of the Court of Appeals. He need not have gone to Manila to procure
a certified true copy of the decision since the Court of Appeals furnishes the parties and their counsel of record a duplicate original or certified
true copy of its decision.

His explanation that he will enter his appearance in the case when its records were already transmitted to the MCTC is unacceptable. Not being
the counsel of record and there being no authorization from either the parties to represent them, respondent had no right to impose his will on the
clerk of court.
Rule 8.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states:
Rule 8.02A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, encroach upon the professional employment of another lawyer; however, it is the right of
any lawyer, without fear or favor, to give proper advice and assistance to those seeking relief against unfaithful or neglectful counsel.
Through his acts of constantly checking the transmittal of the records of Civil Case No. 784, respondent deliberately encroached upon the legal
functions of the counsel of record of that case. It does not matter whether he did so in good faith.
Moreover, in the course of his questionable activities relating to Civil Case No. 784, respondent acted rudely towards an officer of the court. He
raised his voice at the clerk of court and uttered at her the most vulgar of invectives. Not only was it ill-mannered but also unbecoming
considering that he did all these to a woman and in front of her subordinates.
As held in Alcantara v. Atty. Pefianco,16 respondent ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior can only bring down the legal
profession in the public estimation and erode public respect for it. 17 These acts violate Rule 7.03, Canon 8 and Rule 8.01, to wit:
Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law, now shall he, whether in public or private
life behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
Canon 8 A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing
tactics against opposing counsel.
Rule 8.01 A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.
Moreover, Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility demands that lawyers conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor
toward their fellow lawyers. Lawyers are duty bound to uphold the dignity of the legal profession. They must act honorably, fairly and candidly
towards each other and otherwise conduct themselves without reproach at all times.18
As correctly evaluated by the Investigating Commissioner, respondent did not categorically deny the charges in the complaint. Instead, he gave a
lengthy narration of the prefatory facts of the case as well as of the incident on 5 May 2003.
Complainant also alleged in her Complaint-Affidavit that respondents uncharacteristic behavior was not an isolated incident. He has supposedly
done the same to Attys. Abraham Johnny G. Asuncion and TemmyLambino, the latter having filed a case against respondent pending before this
Court.19 We, however, cannot acknowledge such allegation absent any evidence showing the veracity of such claim. No affidavits to that effect
were submitted by either Atty. Asuncion or Atty. Lambino.
Nonetheless, the penalty to be imposed should be tempered owing to the fact that respondent had apologized to the complainant and the latter had
accepted it. This is not to say, however, that respondent should be absolved from his actuations. People are accountable for the consequences of
the things they say and do even if they repent afterwards. The fact remains that things done cannot be undone and words uttered cannot be taken
back. Hence, he should bear the consequences of his actions.
The highest reward that can be bestowed on lawyers is the esteem of their brethren. This esteem cannot be purchased, perfunctorily created, or
gained by artifice or contrivance. It is born of sharp contexts and thrives despite conflicting interest. It emanates solely from integrity, character,
brains and skills in the honorable performance of professional duty.20
WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent is hereby FINED in the amount of TEN THOUSAND (P10,000.00) PESOS with a warning that
any similar infraction with be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of thisDecision be furnished the Bar Confidant for appropriate annotation in
the record of the respondent.
SO ORDERED.
DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice
5.

ADM. CASE NO. 5737

October 25, 2004

FERDINAND A. CRUZ, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. STANLEY CABRERA, respondent.
RESOLUTION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

In an administrative complaint dated July 7, 2002, Ferdinand A. Cruz charges Atty. Stanley Cabrera with misconduct in violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
Complainant alleges that he is a fourth year law student; since the latter part of 2001, he instituted several actions against his neighbors; he
appeared for and in his behalf in his own cases; he met respondent who acted as the counsel of his neighbors; during a hearing on January 14,
2002, in one case before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 112, Pasay City, presided by Judge CaridadCuerdo, the following exchange transpired:
xxxxxx So, may we know your honor, if he is a lawyer or not?
The Court having been inhibited by the respondent from hearing the case, replied:
You are asking for my inhibition and yet you want me to rule on his appearance xxx xxx.
Thereafter, the respondent said:
Because your honor, he (pertaining to the complainant) is misrepresenting himself to be a lawyer!
To this the complainant remarked:
"Your Honor, Im not xxx xxx."
Respondent, this time engulfed with anger in a raising voice said:
Appear kang appear, pumasakamuna; x xx.
Respondents imputations were uncalled for and the latters act of compelling the court to ask complainant whether he is a lawyer or not was
intended to malign him before the public, inasmuch as respondent knew that complainant is not a lawyer, having appeared for and in his behalf as
a party litigant in prior cases; respondents imputations of complainants misrepresentation as a lawyer was patently with malice to discredit his
honor, with the intention to threaten him not to appear anymore in cases respondent was handling; the manner, substance, tone of voice and how
the words "appear kang appear, pumasakamuna!" were uttered were totally with the intention to annoy, vex and humiliate, malign, ridicule,
incriminate and discredit complainant before the public.
Complainant claims that respondents display of improper attitude, arrogance, misbehavior, misconduct in the performance of his duties both as a
lawyer and officer of the court, before the public and the court, was a patent transgression of the very ethics that lawyers are sworn to uphold in
their dealings with society and corresponding appropriate penalty or sanctions for the said administrative violations should be imposed on the
respondent.
In his Comment, respondent contends that the complaint filed against him is a vicious scheme to dissuade him from appearing as counsel for the
Mina family against whom complainant had filed several civil and criminal cases including him to further complainants illegal practice of law;
complainants complaint occurred during a judicial proceeding wherein complainant was able to represent himself considering that he was
appearing in barong tagalog thus the presiding judge was misled when she issued an order stating "[i]n todays hearing both lawyers appeared;"
because of which, respondent stated: "Your honor I would like to manifest that this counsel (referring to complainant) who represents the plaintiff
in this case is not a lawyer," to which complainant replied: "The counsel very well know that I am not yet a lawyer;" the reason he informed the
court that complainant is not a lawyer was because the presiding judge did not know that complainant is not a lawyer and complainant did not
inform the presiding judge that he is not a lawyer when he stated: "for the plaintiff your honor;" he stated "pumasakamuna" out of indignation
because of complainants temerity in misrepresenting himself as lawyer; it is surprising that the City Prosecutor of Pasay City filed a complaint
for oral defamation against him considering that in a precedent case the Supreme Court stated: "It is a settled principle in this jurisdiction that
statements made in the course of judicial proceedings are absolutely privileged (Navarrete vs. Court of Appeals, 325 SCRA 540);" in another
malicious prosecution being perpetuated by the complainant against the Mina family pending before Judge Priscilla Mijares of RTC Branch 108,
Pasay City, they were able to prohibit the appearance of complainant as counsel for himself as authenticated by an Order of Judge Priscilla
Mijares which allegedly stated among other; to wit:
In connection with Ferdinand A. Cruzs motion to appear as counsel, the motion is likewise denied, movant not having satisfied the
requirements and conditions under Rule 138-A, Sections 1 and 2.
Respondent alleges that when complainant filed an administrative case against Judge Priscilla Mijares when said Judge stated in Tagalog in open
court "Hay nakumasamayungmarunong pa saHuwes! OK?" the same was dismissed by the Honorable Courts Third Division which stated among
others: "That the questioned remarks of respondent were uttered more out of frustration and in reaction to complainants actuations and taking
into account that complainant is not yet a lawyer but was already lecturing the court on a matter which is not even a point of discussion was sheer
arrogance on the part of the complainant." Respondent prays that the complaint against him be dismissed for lack of merit.
The administrative case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
In a report, dated March 4, 2004, IBP Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro recommended respondents suspension from the practice of law for a
period of three months for violating Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:
A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.

In her report, Commissioner Navarro stated:


After going over the evidence submitted by the parties, the undersigned noted that respondents averment that the utterances he made
in open court is (sic) privileged communication does not hold water for the same was (sic) not relevant to the issue of the case in
question under trial before the said court.
Respondent did not refute the fact that the same utterances he made in open court against the complainant had been the basis for his indictment of
Oral Defamation and later Unjust Vexation under Criminal Cases Nos. 02-1031 and No. 02-2136 respectively, pending trial before MTC Branch
45, Pasay City.
Likewise respondent did not refute complainants allegation that in 1979 he was held in contempt and was not allowed to practice law for seven
years by the Supreme Court in the administrative case filed against him by Emilia E. Andres on December 14, 1979 docketed as A.M. L-585 for
his fondness in using contumacious language in his dealing with others.
From the facts obtaining, it is apparent that the utterance hurled by the respondent in the manner, substance and tone of his voice which was not
refuted by him "that appear kang appear, pumasakamuna" in whatever manner it was uttered are in itself not only abusive but insulting specially
on the part of law students who have not yet taken nor passed the bar examination required of them.
Respondent should have been more discreet and cautious in informing the court if it was his purpose relative to complainants appearance in
court; although the latter appeared only in his behalf but not for others if he had complied with the requirements of Rule 138 (Sections 1 and 3) of
the Rules of Court.
Respondent should have been more temperate in making utterances in his professional dealings so as not to offend the sensitivities of the other
party as in this case.
On April 16, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution to annul and set aside the recommendation of the investigating commissioner
and to approve the dismissal of the case for lack of merit.
Prefatorily, we note that the IBP Board of Governors failed to observe the procedural requirements of Sec. 12 of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court
on review and decision by the Board of Governors which states:
SEC. 12.Review and decision by the Board of Governors. (a) Every case heard by an investigator shall be reviewed by the IBP
Board of Governors upon the record and evidence transmitted to it by the Investigator with his report. The decision of the Board upon
such review shall be in writing and shall clearly and distinctly state the facts and the reasons on which it is based. It shall be
promulgated within a period not exceeding thirty (30) days from the next meeting of the Board following the submittal of the
Investigators report. (Emphasis supplied)
In Teodosio vs. Nava,1 the Court stressed the important function of the requirement that the decision of the Board of Governors state the facts and
the reasons on which it is based, which is akin to what is required of the decisions of courts of record, thus:
For aside from informing the parties the reason for the decision to enable them to point out to the appellate court the findings with
which they are not in agreement, in case any of them decides to appeal the decision, it is also an assurance that the judge, or the Board
of Governors in this case, reached his judgment through the process of legal reasoning. 2
In this case, the Board of Governors resolution absolving respondent of any misconduct does not contain any findings of facts or law upon which
it based its ruling. Ordinarily, non-compliance with the rule would result in the remand of the case. Nonetheless, where the controversy has been
pending resolution for quite sometime and the issues involved could be resolved on the basis of the records on appeal, the Court has opted to
resolve the case in the interest of justice and speedy disposition of cases. 3 This case falls within the exception.
We hold that respondents outburst of "appear kang appear, pumasakamuna" does not amount to a violation of Rule 8.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
Based on the facts of this case, such outburst came about when respondent pointed out to the trial court that complainant is not a lawyer to correct
the judges impression of complainants appearance, inasmuch as the judge, in her Order of January 14, 2002, noted that complainant is a
lawyer.4 Such single outburst, though uncalled for, is not of such magnitude as to warrant respondents suspension or reproof. It is but a product
of impulsiveness or the heat of the moment in the course of an argument between them. It has been said that lawyers should not be held to too
strict an account for words said in the heat of the moment, because of chagrin at losing cases, and that the big way is for the court to condone
even contemptuous language.5
Nonetheless, we remind respondent that complainant is not precluded from litigating personally his cases. A partys right to conduct litigation
personally is recognized by Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court:
SEC. 34. By whom litigation conducted. -- In the court of a justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the
aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his
litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
In Maderada vs. Mediodea,6 this Court expounded on the foregoing provision, thus:

This provision means that in a litigation, parties may personally do everything during its progress -- from its commencement to its
termination. When they, however, act as their own attorneys, they are restricted to the same rules of evidence and procedure as those
qualified to practice law; otherwise, ignorance would be unjustifiably rewarded. Individuals have long been permitted to manage,
prosecute and defend their own actions; and when they do so, they are not considered to be in the practice of law. "One does not
practice law by acting for himself any more than he practices medicine by rendering first aid to himself."
The practice of law, though impossible to define exactly, involves the exercise of a profession or vocation usually for gain, mainly as attorney by
acting in a representative capacity and as counsel by rendering legal advise to others. Private practice has been defined by this Court as follows:
x xx. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession of acts of the same
kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise. Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute [referring to the prohibition
for judges and other officials or employees of the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General from engaging in private
practice] has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for
such services. x xx.
Clearly, in appearing for herself, complainant was not customarily or habitually holding herself out to the public as a lawyer. Neither
was she demanding payment for such services. Hence, she cannot be said to be in the practice of law.7
On the other hand, all lawyers should take heed that lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute and
defend; and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence. Membership in the bar imposes
upon them certain obligations. Mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession, they must conduct themselves honorably and
fairly.8 Though a lawyers language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal
profession. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of judicial forum. 9
WHEREFORE, the complaint against respondent Atty. Stanley Cabrera for misconduct in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility
is DISMISSED for lack of merit. He is, however, admonished to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties as an officer of the court.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

6.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

A.C. No. 7399

August 25, 2009

ANTERO J. POBRE, Complainant,


vs.
Sen. MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO, Respondent.
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
In his sworn letter/complaint dated December 22, 2006, with enclosures, Antero J. Pobre invites the Courts attention to the following excerpts of
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiagos speech delivered on the Senate floor:
x x x I am not angry. I am irate. I am foaming in the mouth. I am homicidal. I am suicidal. I am humiliated, debased, degraded. And I am not only
that, I feel like throwing up to be living my middle years in a country of this nature. I am nauseated. I spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio
Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested in the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded by idiots. I
would rather be in another environment but not in the Supreme Court of idiots x x x.
To Pobre, the foregoing statements reflected a total disrespect on the part of the speaker towards then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and the
other members of the Court and constituted direct contempt of court. Accordingly, Pobre asks that disbarment proceedings or other disciplinary
actions be taken against the lady senator.
In her comment on the complaint dated April 25, 2007, Senator Santiago, through counsel, does not deny making the aforequoted statements.
She, however, explained that those statements were covered by the constitutional provision on parliamentary immunity, being part of a speech she
delivered in the discharge of her duty as member of Congress or its committee. The purpose of her speech, according to her, was to bring out in
the open controversial anomalies in governance with a view to future remedial legislation. She averred that she wanted to expose what she
believed "to be an unjust act of the Judicial Bar Council [JBC]," which, after sending out public invitations for nomination to the soon to-be
vacated position of Chief Justice, would eventually inform applicants that only incumbent justices of the Supreme Court would qualify for
nomination. She felt that the JBC should have at least given an advanced advisory that non-sitting members of the Court, like her, would not be
considered for the position of Chief Justice.

The immunity Senator Santiago claims is rooted primarily on the provision of Article VI, Section 11 of the Constitution, which provides: "A
Senator or Member of the House of Representative shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from
arrest while the Congress is in session.No member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the
Congress or in any committee thereof." Explaining the import of the underscored portion of the provision, the Court, in Osmea, Jr. v.
Pendatun, said:
Our Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity which is a fundamental privilege cherished in every legislative assembly of the democratic
world. As old as the English Parliament, its purpose "is to enable and encourage a representative of the public to discharge his public trust with
firmness and success" for "it is indispensably necessary that he should enjoy the fullest liberty of speech and that he should be protected from
resentment of every one, however, powerful, to whom the exercise of that liberty may occasion offense." 1
As American jurisprudence puts it, this legislative privilege is founded upon long experience and arises as a means of perpetuating inviolate the
functioning process of the legislative department. Without parliamentary immunity, parliament, or its equivalent, would degenerate into a polite
and ineffective debating forum. Legislators are immune from deterrents to the uninhibited discharge of their legislative duties, not for their
private indulgence, but for the public good. The privilege would be of little value if they could be subjected to the cost and inconvenience and
distractions of a trial upon a conclusion of the pleader, or to the hazard of a judgment against them based upon a judges speculation as to the
motives.2
This Court is aware of the need and has in fact been in the forefront in upholding the institution of parliamentary immunity and promotion of free
speech. Neither has the Court lost sight of the importance of the legislative and oversight functions of the Congress that enable this representative
body to look diligently into every affair of government, investigate and denounce anomalies, and talk about how the country and its citizens are
being served. Courts do not interfere with the legislature or its members in the manner they perform their functions in the legislative floor or in
committee rooms. Any claim of an unworthy purpose or of the falsity and mala fides of the statement uttered by the member of the Congress does
not destroy the privilege.3 The disciplinary authority of the assembly4 and the voters, not the courts, can properly discourage or correct such
abuses committed in the name of parliamentary immunity.5
For the above reasons, the plea of Senator Santiago for the dismissal of the complaint for disbarment or disciplinary action is well taken. Indeed,
her privilege speech is not actionable criminally or in a disciplinary proceeding under the Rules of Court. It is felt, however, that this could not be
the last word on the matter.
The Court wishes to express its deep concern about the language Senator Santiago, a member of the Bar, used in her speech and its effect on the
administration of justice. To the Court, the lady senator has undoubtedly crossed the limits of decency and good professional conduct. It is at once
apparent that her statements in question were intemperate and highly improper in substance. To reiterate, she was quoted as stating that she
wanted "to spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court," and calling the Court a "Supreme Court
of idiots."
The lady senator alluded to In Re: Vicente Sotto.6 We draw her attention to the ensuing passage in Sotto that she should have taken to heart in the
first place:
x x x [I]f the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity of this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice therefrom, they
might be driven to take the law into their own hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos would be the result.1avvphi1
No lawyer who has taken an oath to maintain the respect due to the courts should be allowed to erode the peoples faith in the judiciary. In this
case, the lady senator clearly violated Canon 8, Rule 8.01 and Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which respectively provide:
Canon 8, Rule 8.01.A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.
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.
Senator/Atty. Santiago is a cut higher than most lawyers. Her achievements speak for themselves. She was a former Regional Trial Court judge, a
law professor, an oft-cited authority on constitutional and international law, an author of numerous law textbooks, and an elected senator of the
land. Needless to stress, Senator Santiago, as a member of the Bar and officer of the court, like any other, is duty-bound to uphold the dignity and
authority of this Court and to maintain the respect due its members. Lawyers in public service are keepers of public faith and are burdened with
the higher degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than their brethren in private practice. 7 Senator Santiago should have known, as any
perceptive individual, the impact her statements would make on the peoples faith in the integrity of the courts.
As Senator Santiago alleged, she delivered her privilege speech as a prelude to crafting remedial legislation on the JBC. This allegation strikes the
Court as an afterthought in light of the insulting tenor of what she said. We quote the passage once more:
x x x I am not angry. I am irate. I am foaming in the mouth. I am homicidal. I am suicidal. I am humiliated, debased, degraded. And I am not
only that, I feel like throwing up to be living my middle years in a country of this nature. I am nauseated. I spit on the face of Chief Justice
Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested in the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded
by idiots. I would rather be in another environment but not in the Supreme Court of idiots x x x. (Emphasis ours.)
A careful re-reading of her utterances would readily show that her statements were expressions of personal anger and frustration at not being
considered for the post of Chief Justice. In a sense, therefore, her remarks were outside the pale of her official parliamentary functions. Even
parliamentary immunity must not be allowed to be used as a vehicle to ridicule, demean, and destroy the reputation of the Court and its
magistrates, nor as armor for personal wrath and disgust. Authorities are agreed that parliamentary immunity is not an individual privilege

accorded the individual members of the Parliament or Congress for their personal benefit, but rather a privilege for the benefit of the people and
the institution that represents them.
To be sure, Senator Santiago could have given vent to her anger without indulging in insulting rhetoric and offensive personalities.
Lest it be overlooked, Senator Santiagos outburst was directly traceable to what she considered as an "unjust act" the JBC had taken in
connection with her application for the position of Chief Justice. But while the JBC functions under the Courts supervision, its individual
members, save perhaps for the Chief Justice who sits as the JBCs ex-officio chairperson,8 have no official duty to nominate candidates for
appointment to the position of Chief Justice. The Court is, thus, at a loss to understand Senator Santiagos wholesale and indiscriminate assault on
the members of the Court and her choice of critical and defamatory words against all of them.
At any event, equally important as the speech and debate clause of Art. VI, Sec. 11 of the Constitution is Sec. 5(5) of Art. VIII of the Constitution
that provides:
Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
xxxx
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the
admission to the practice of the law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. (Emphasis ours.)
The Court, besides being authorized to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, exercises specific authority to
promulgate rules governing the Integrated Bar with the end in view that the integration of the Bar will, among other things:
(4) Shield the judiciary, which traditionally cannot defend itself except within its own forum, from the assaults that politics and self interest may
level at it, and assist it to maintain its integrity, impartiality and independence;
xxxx
(11) Enforce rigid ethical standards x x x.9
In Re: Letter Dated 21 February 2005 of Atty. Noel S. Sorreda,10 we reiterated our pronouncement in Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer11 that the
duty of attorneys to the courts can only be maintained by rendering no service involving any disrespect to the judicial office which they are bound
to uphold. The Court wrote in Rheem of the Philippines:
x x x As explicit is the first canon of legal ethics which pronounces that "[i]t is the duty of a lawyer to maintain towards the Courts a respectful
attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance." That same canon,
as a corollary, makes it peculiarly incumbent upon lawyers to support the courts against "unjust criticism and clamor." And more. The attorneys
oath solemnly binds him to a conduct that should be "with all good fidelity x x x to the courts."
Also, in Sorreda, the Court revisited its holding in Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel12 that:
A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court itself, an instrument or agency to advance the ends of justice." His duty is to uphold the
dignity and authority of the courts to which he owes fidelity, "not to promote distrust in the administration of justice." Faith in the courts, a lawyer
should seek to preserve. For, to undermine the judicial edifice "is disastrous to the continuity of government and to the attainment of the liberties
of the people." Thus has it been said of a lawyer that "[a]s an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy
unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice." 13
The lady senator belongs to the legal profession bound by the exacting injunction of a strict Code. Society has entrusted that profession with the
administration of the law and dispensation of justice. Generally speaking, a lawyer holding a government office may not be disciplined as a
member of the Bar for misconduct committed while in the discharge of official duties, unless said misconduct also constitutes a violation of
his/her oath as a lawyer.14
Lawyers may be disciplined even for any conduct committed in their private capacity, as long as their misconduct reflects their want of probity or
good demeanor,15 a good character being an essential qualification for the admission to the practice of law and for continuance of such privilege.
When the Code of Professional Responsibility or the Rules of Court speaks of "conduct" or "misconduct," the reference is not confined to ones
behavior exhibited in connection with the performance of lawyers professional duties, but also covers any misconduct, whichalbeit unrelated
to the actual practice of their professionwould show them to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges which their license and the
law invest in them.16
This Court, in its unceasing quest to promote the peoples faith in courts and trust in the rule of law, has consistently exercised its disciplinary
authority on lawyers who, for malevolent purpose or personal malice, attempt to obstruct the orderly administration of justice, trifle with the
integrity of courts, and embarrass or, worse, malign the men and women who compose them. We have done it in the case of former Senator
Vicente Sotto in Sotto, in the case of Atty. Noel Sorreda in Sorreda, and in the case of Atty. Francisco B. Cruz in Tacordan v. Ang 17 who
repeatedly insulted and threatened the Court in a most insolent manner.
The Court is not hesitant to impose some form of disciplinary sanctions on Senator/Atty. Santiago for what otherwise would have constituted an
act of utter disrespect on her part towards the Court and its members. The factual and legal circumstances of this case, however, deter the Court
from doing so, even without any sign of remorse from her. Basic constitutional consideration dictates this kind of disposition.

We, however, would be remiss in our duty if we let the Senators offensive and disrespectful language that definitely tended to denigrate the
institution pass by. It is imperative on our part to re-instill in Senator/Atty. Santiago her duty to respect courts of justice, especially this Tribunal,
and remind her anew that the parliamentary non-accountability thus granted to members of Congress is not to protect them against
prosecutions for their own benefit, but to enable them, as the peoples representatives, to perform the functions of their office without fear of
being made responsible before the courts or other forums outside the congressional hall.18 It is intended to protect members of Congress against
government pressure and intimidation aimed at influencing the decision-making prerogatives of Congress and its members.
The Rules of the Senate itself contains a provision on Unparliamentary Acts and Language that enjoins a Senator from using, under any
circumstance, "offensive or improper language against another Senator or against any public institution."19 But as to Senator Santiagos
unparliamentary remarks, the Senate President had not apparently called her to order, let alone referred the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee
for appropriate disciplinary action, as the Rules dictates under such circumstance. 20 The lady senator clearly violated the rules of her own
chamber. It is unfortunate that her peers bent backwards and avoided imposing their own rules on her.
Finally, the lady senator questions Pobres motives in filing his complaint, stating that disciplinary proceedings must be undertaken solely for the
public welfare. We cannot agree with her more. We cannot overstress that the senators use of intemperate language to demean and denigrate the
highest court of the land is a clear violation of the duty of respect lawyers owe to the courts. 21
Finally, the Senator asserts that complainant Pobre has failed to prove that she in fact made the statements in question. Suffice it to say in this
regard that, although she has not categorically denied making such statements, she has unequivocally said making them as part of her privilege
speech. Her implied admission is good enough for the Court.
WHEREFORE, the letter-complaint of Antero J. Pobre against Senator/Atty. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is, conformably to Art. VI, Sec. 11 of
the Constitution, DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice
7.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

A.C. No. 5768

March 26, 2010

ATTY. BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR., Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. EDWIN Z. FERRER, SR., Respondent.
DECISION
ABAD, J.:
This administrative case concerns a lawyer who is claimed to have hurled invectives upon another lawyer and filed a baseless suit against him.
The Facts and the Case
On January 11, 2001 complainant Atty. Bonifacio T. Barandon, Jr. filed a complaint-affidavit 1 with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) seeking the disbarment, suspension from the practice of law, or imposition of appropriate disciplinary
action against respondent Atty. Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. for the following offenses:
1. On November 22, 2000 Atty. Ferrer, as plaintiffs counsel in Civil Case 7040, filed a reply with opposition to motion to dismiss that
contained abusive, offensive, and improper language which insinuated that Atty. Barandon presented a falsified document in court.
2. Atty. Ferrer filed a fabricated charge against Atty. Barandon in Civil Case 7040 for alleged falsification of public document when
the document allegedly falsified was a notarized document executed on February 23, 1994, at a date when Atty. Barandon was not yet
a lawyer nor was assigned in Camarines Norte. The latter was not even a signatory to the document.
3. On December 19, 2000, at the courtroom of Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Daet before the start of hearing, Atty. Ferrer, evidently
drunk, threatened Atty. Barandon saying, "Laban kung laban, patayan kung patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na palang
magaling na abogado sa Camarines Norte, ang abogado na rito ay mga taga-Camarines Sur, umuwi na kayo sa Camarines Sur, hindi
kayo taga-rito."
4. Atty. Ferrer made his accusation of falsification of public document without bothering to check the copy with the Office of the
Clerk of Court and, with gross ignorance of the law, failed to consider that a notarized document is presumed to be genuine and
authentic until proven otherwise.

5. The Court had warned Atty. Ferrer in his first disbarment case against repeating his unethical act; yet he faces a disbarment charge
for sexual harassment of an office secretary of the IBP Chapter in Camarines Norte; a related criminal case for acts of lasciviousness;
and criminal cases for libel and grave threats that Atty. Barandon filed against him. In October 2000, Atty. Ferrer asked Atty. Barandon
to falsify the daily time record of his son who worked with the Commission on Settlement of Land Problems, Department of Justice.
When Atty. Barandon declined, Atty. Ferrer repeatedly harassed him with inflammatory language.
Atty. Ferrer raised the following defenses in his answer with motion to dismiss:
1. Instead of having the alleged forged document submitted for examination, Atty. Barandon filed charges of libel and grave threats
against him. These charges came about because Atty. Ferrers clients filed a case for falsification of public document against Atty.
Barandon.
2. The offended party in the falsification case, Imelda Palatolon, vouchsafed that her thumbmark in the waiver document had been
falsified.
3. At the time Atty. Ferrer allegedly uttered the threatening remarks against Atty. Barandon, the MTC Daet was already in session. It
was improbable that the court did not take steps to stop, admonish, or cite Atty. Ferrer in direct contempt for his behavior.
4. Atty. Barandon presented no evidence in support of his allegations that Atty. Ferrer was drunk on December 19, 2000 and that he
degraded the law profession. The latter had received various citations that speak well of his character.
5. The cases of libel and grave threats that Atty. Barandon filed against Atty. Ferrer were still pending. Their mere filing did not make
the latter guilty of the charges. Atty. Barandon was forum shopping when he filed this disbarment case since it referred to the same
libel and grave threats subject of the criminal cases.
In his reply affidavit,2 Atty. Barandon brought up a sixth ground for disbarment. He alleged that on December 29, 2000 at about 1:30 p.m., while
Atty. Ferrer was on board his sons taxi, it figured in a collision with a tricycle, resulting in serious injuries to the tricycles passengers. 3 But
neither Atty. Ferrer nor any of his co-passengers helped the victims and, during the police investigation, he denied knowing the taxi driver and
blamed the tricycle driver for being drunk. Atty. Ferrer also prevented an eyewitness from reporting the accident to the authorities. 4
Atty. Barandon claimed that the falsification case against him had already been dismissed. He belittled the citations Atty. Ferrer allegedly
received. On the contrary, in its Resolution 00-1,5 the IBP-Camarines Norte Chapter opposed his application to serve as judge of the MTC of
Mercedes, Camarines Sur, on the ground that he did not have "the qualifications, integrity, intelligence, industry and character of a trial judge"
and that he was facing a criminal charge for acts of lasciviousness and a disbarment case filed by an employee of the same IBP chapter.
On October 10, 2001 Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan of the IBP-CBD submitted to this Court a Report, recommending the
suspension for two years of Atty. Ferrer. The Investigating Commissioner found enough evidence on record to prove Atty. Ferrers violation of
Canons 8.01 and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He attributed to Atty. Barandon, as counsel in Civil Case 7040, the falsification
of the plaintiffs affidavit despite the absence of evidence that the document had in fact been falsified and that Atty. Barandon was a party to it.
The Investigating Commissioner also found that Atty. Ferrer uttered the threatening remarks imputed to him in the presence of other counsels,
court personnel, and litigants before the start of hearing.
On June 29, 2002 the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution XV-2002-225,6 adopting and approving the Investigating Commissioners
recommendation but reduced the penalty of suspension to only one year.
Atty. Ferrer filed a motion for reconsideration but the Board denied it in its Resolution7 of October 19, 2002 on the ground that it had already
endorsed the matter to the Supreme Court. On February 5, 2003, however, the Court referred back the case to the IBP for resolution of Atty.
Ferrers motion for reconsideration.8 On May 22, 2008 the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation 9 of
the Investigating Commissioner that denied Atty. Ferrers motion for reconsideration. 10
On February 17, 2009, Atty. Ferrer filed a Comment on Board of Governors IBP Notice of Resolution No. XVIII-2008. 11 On August 12, 2009 the
Court resolved to treat Atty. Ferrers comment as a petition for review under Rule 139 of the Revised Rules of Court. Atty. Barandon filed his
comment,12 reiterating his arguments before the IBP. Further, he presented certified copies of orders issued by courts in Camarines Norte that
warned Atty. Ferrer against appearing in court drunk.13
The Issues Presented
The issues presented in this case are:
1. Whether or not the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP Investigating Commissioner erred in finding respondent Atty. Ferrer guilty
of the charges against him; and
2. If in the affirmative, whether or not the penalty imposed on him is justified.
The Courts Ruling
We have examined the records of this case and find no reason to disagree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors
and the Investigating Commissioner.

The practice of law is a privilege given to lawyers who meet the high standards of legal proficiency and morality. Any violation of these standards
exposes the lawyer to administrative liability.14
Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility commands all lawyers to conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor towards their
fellow lawyers and avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. Specifically, in Rule 8.01, the Code provides:
Rule 8.01. A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.
Atty. Ferrers actions do not measure up to this Canon. The evidence shows that he imputed to Atty. Barandon the falsification of the Salaysay
Affidavit of the plaintiff in Civil Case 7040. He made this imputation with pure malice for he had no evidence that the affidavit had been falsified
and that Atty. Barandon authored the same.
Moreover, Atty. Ferrer could have aired his charge of falsification in a proper forum and without using offensive and abusive language against a
fellow lawyer. To quote portions of what he said in his reply with motion to dismiss:
1. That the answer is fraught with grave and culpable misrepresentation and "FALSIFICATION" of documents, committed to mislead this
Honorable Court, but with concomitant grave responsibility of counsel for Defendants, for distortion and serious misrepresentation to the court,
for presenting a grossly "FALSIFIED" document, in violation of his oath of office as a government employee and as member of the Bar, for the
reason, that, Plaintiff, IMELDA PALATOLON, has never executed the "SALAYSAY AFFIDAVIT", wherein her fingerprint has been falsified, in
view whereof, hereby DENY the same including the affirmative defenses, there being no knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth
of the same, from pars. (1) to par. (15) which are all lies and mere fabrications, sufficient ground for "DISBARMENT" of the one responsible for
said falsification and distortions."15
The Court has constantly reminded lawyers to use dignified language in their pleadings despite the adversarial nature of our legal system. 16
Atty. Ferrer had likewise violated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which enjoins lawyers to uphold the dignity and integrity of
the legal profession at all times. Rule 7.03 of the Code provides:
Rule 7.03. A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private
life behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
Several disinterested persons confirmed Atty. Ferrers drunken invectives at Atty. Barandon shortly before the start of a court hearing. Atty. Ferrer
did not present convincing evidence to support his denial of this particular charge. He merely presented a certification from the police that its
blotter for the day did not report the threat he supposedly made. Atty. Barandon presented, however, the police blotter on a subsequent date that
recorded his complaint against Atty. Ferrer.
Atty. Ferrer said, "Laban kung laban, patayan kung patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na palang magaling na abogado sa Camarines
Norte, ang abogado na rito ay mga taga-Camarines Sur, umuwi na kayo sa Camarines Sur, hindi kayo taga-rito." Evidently, he uttered these with
intent to annoy, humiliate, incriminate, and discredit Atty. Barandon in the presence of lawyers, court personnel, and litigants waiting for the start
of hearing in court. These language is unbecoming a member of the legal profession. The Court cannot countenance it.
Though a lawyers language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal
profession. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of judicial forum. 17 Atty. Ferrer ought to have
realized that this sort of public behavior can only bring down the legal profession in the public estimation and erode public respect for it.
Whatever moral righteousness Atty. Ferrer had was negated by the way he chose to express his indignation.1avvphi1
Contrary to Atty. Ferrers allegation, the Court finds that he has been accorded due process. The essence of due process is to be found in the
reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit any evidence one may have in support of ones defense. 18 So long as the parties are given the
opportunity to explain their side, the requirements of due process are satisfactorily complied with. 19 Here, the IBP Investigating Commissioner
gave Atty. Ferrer all the opportunities to file countless pleadings and refute all the allegations of Atty. Barandon.
All lawyers should take heed that they are licensed officers of the courts who are mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession, hence
they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly.20 Atty. Ferrers display of improper attitude, arrogance, misbehavior, and misconduct in the
performance of his duties both as a lawyer and officer of the court, before the public and the court, was a patent transgression of the very ethics
that lawyers are sworn to uphold.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court AFFIRMS the May 22, 2008 Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors in CBD Case 01-809 and ORDERS the
suspension of Atty. Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. from the practice of law for one year effective upon his receipt of this Decision.
Let a copy of this Decision be entered in Atty. Ferrers personal record as an attorney with the Office of the Bar Confidant and a copy of the same
be served to the IBP and to the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all the courts in the land.
SO ORDERED.
ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
8.

A.C. No. 6672

September 4, 2009

PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:
This is a complaint for disbarment1 filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes
Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services.
Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients 2 to transfer legal representation.
Respondent promised them financial assistance3 and expeditious collection on their claims.4 To induce them to hire his services, he persistently
called them and sent them text messages.
To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit 5 of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever
his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000. Complainant also
attached "respondents" calling card:6
Front

NICOMEDES TOLENTINO
LAW OFFFICE
CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES
W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
Fe Marie L. Labiano
Paralegal

1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01


6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar
Grace Park, Caloocan City

Tel: 362-7820
Fax: (632) 362-7821
Cel.: (0926) 2701719

Back

SERVICES OFFERED:
CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE
TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN
REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT,
INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH
AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS
ABROAD.
1avvphi1

(emphasis supplied)
Hence, this complaint.
Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the said calling card. 7

The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report
and recommendation.8
Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and recommendation, 9 found that respondent had encroached on the
professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.0210 and other canons11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he
contravened the rule against soliciting cases for gain, personally or through paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 138 12 of the Rules
of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be reprimanded with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a heavier penalty.
We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent but we modify the recommended penalty.
The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent into complainants professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the
CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said misconduct themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules.
Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the manner by which a lawyers services are to be made known.
Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:
CANON 3 - A lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of
facts.
Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as
merchants advertise their wares.13 To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession
in the publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is called. 14
Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides:
RULE 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business.
Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers. 15 Such actuation
constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment. 16
Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides:
RULE 1.03. A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any mans cause.
This rule proscribes "ambulance chasing" (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in
order to gain employment)17 as a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty.18
Complainant presented substantial evidence19 (consisting of the sworn statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to
respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal business as well as profited from referrals suits.
Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he later admitted it during the mandatory hearing.
Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the strength of
Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result.
Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section 27,
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.1avvphi1
With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers client nor induce
the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services. 20 Again the Court notes that respondent never
denied having these seafarers in his client list nor receiving benefits from Labianos "referrals." Furthermore, he never denied Labianos
connection to his office.21 Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into anothers legal practice. He cannot escape liability under
Rule 8.02 of the CPR.
Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04:
Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by
independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in
a legal matter he is handling for the client.
The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary
expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a matter
that he is handling for the client.
The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so that the free exercise of his judgment may not be adversely affected. 22 It
seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his entire devotion and fidelity to the clients cause. If the lawyer
lends money to the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in effect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the case or an
additional stake in its outcome.23 Either of these circumstances may lead the lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client, or
to accept a settlement which may take care of his interest in the verdict to the prejudice of the client in violation of his duty of undivided fidelity
to the clients cause.24
As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice 25 which calls for the exercise of the Courts disciplinary powers. Violation
of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining

employment.26 Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers
and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession.
Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the prohibition on lending money to clients), the sanction recommended
by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed penalty is grossly incommensurate to its findings.
A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyers best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for
professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and conduct.27 For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their
services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional cards.
Professional calling cards may only contain the following details:
(a) lawyers name;
(b) name of the law firm with which he is connected;
(c) address;
(d) telephone number and
(e) special branch of law practiced.28
Labianos calling card contained the phrase "with financial assistance." The phrase was clearly used to entice clients (who already had
representation) to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance their legal actions. Money was dangled to lure clients away from their
original lawyers, thereby taking advantage of their financial distress and emotional vulnerability. This crass commercialism degraded the integrity
of the bar and deserved no place in the legal profession. However, in the absence of substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not
prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly responsible for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling cards.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is hereby SUSPENDEDfrom the practice of law for a period of one
year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He isSTERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future
shall be dealt with more severely.
Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and be furnished
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator to be circulated to all courts.
SO ORDERED.
9.

SECOND DIVISION

ROSALIE DALLONG-GALICINAO, A.C. No. 6396


Complainant,
Present:
PUNO, J.,
Chairman,
-

versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO,

TINGA, and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
ATTY. VIRGIL R. CASTRO,
Respondent, Promulgated:
October 25, 2005
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

RES OLUTIO N

TINGA, J.:

This administrative case concerns a lawyer who hurled invectives at a Clerk of Court. Members of the bar decorum must at all times comfort
themselves in a manner befitting their noble profession.

Complainant Atty. Rosalie Dallong-Galicinao is the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya.
On 8 May 2003, she filed with the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) a Complaint-

Affidavit[1] with supporting documents[2] against respondent Atty. Virgil R. Castro for Unprofessional Conduct, specifically violation of Canon 7,
Rule 7.03, Canon 8 and Rule 8.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.[3] The charge in the complaint is summed up as follows:

Respondent Atty. Castro was a private practitioner and Vice-President of IBP-Nueva Vizcaya Chapter. On 5 May 2003, respondent went to
complainants office to inquire whether the complete records of Civil Case No. 784, entitled Sps. Crispino Castillano v. Sps. Federico S.
Castillano and Felicidad Aberin, had already been remanded to the court of origin, MCTC Dupax del Norte, Alfonso Castaned, Nueva Vizcaya. It
must be noted that respondent was not the counsel of record of either party in Civil Case No. 784.

Complainant informed respondent that the record had not yet been transmitted since a certified true copy of the decision of the Court
of Appeals should first be presented to serve as basis for the transmittal of the records to the court of origin. To this respondent retorted scornfully,
Who will certify the Court of Appeals Decision, the Court of Appeals? You mean to say, I would still have to go to Manila to get a certified true
copy? Surprised at this outburst, complainant replied, Sir, its in the Rules but you could show us the copy sent to the party you claim to be
representing. Respondent then replied, Then you should have notified me of the said requirement. That was two weeks ago and I have been
frequenting your office since then, but you never bothered to notify me. Complainant replied, It is not our duty, Sir, to notify you of the said
requirement.

Respondent then answered, You mean to say it is not your duty to remand the record of the case? Complainant responded, No, Sir, I
mean, its not our duty to notify you that you have to submit a copy of the Court of Appeals decision. Respondent angrily declared in
Ilocano, Kayat mo nga saw-en, awan pakialam yon? Kasdiay? (You mean to say you dont care anymore? Is that the way it is?) He then turned
and left the office, banging the door on his way out to show his anger. The banging of the door was so loud it was heard by the people at the
adjacent RTC, Branch 30 where a hearing was taking place.[4]

After a few minutes, respondent returned to the office, still enraged, and pointed his finger at complainant and shouted, Ukinnan, no adda ti unget
mo iti kilientek haan mo nga ibales kaniak ah! (Vulva of your mother! If you are harboring ill feelings against my client, dont turn your ire on
me!) Complainant was shocked at respondents words but still managed to reply, I dont even know your client, Sir. Respondent left the office and
as he passed by complainants window, he again shouted, Ukinnam nga babai! (Vulva of your mother, you woman!)[5]

Complainant suffered acute embarrassment at the incident, as it happened in her office of which she was, and still is, the head and in front of her
staff. She felt that her credibility had been tarnished and diminished, eliciting doubt on her ability to command full respect from her staff. [6]

The Complaint-Affidavit, filed three days after the incident, was supported by an Affidavit[7] signed by employees of RTC-Bambang, Nueva
Vizcaya who witnessed the incident. The Affidavit narrated the same incident as witnessed by the said employees. A Motion to File Additional
Affidavit/Documentary Evidence was filed by complainant on 25 September 2003.[8]

On 26 May 2003, the CBD-IBP issued an Order[9] requiring respondent to submit his answer to the complaint. Respondent submitted
his Compliance[10] dated 18 June 2003. Respondent explained that he was counsel for the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 847, entitled Sps. Federico
Castillano, et al. v. Sps. Crispin Castillano, et al., filed with the RTC of Nueva Vizcaya, Branch 30. He learned of the finality of the decision of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 64962 with respect to Civil Case No. 847 before the lower court. Prior to the incident, he went to the office
of the complainant to request for the transmittal of the records of the case to the MCTC and the complainant reassured him of the same.

Respondent admits having inquired about the status of the transmittal of the records on 5 May 2003. However, he has no explanation
as to what transpired on that day. Instead, he narrates that on 25 May 2003, twelve days after the incident, the records had not yet been
transmitted, and he subsequently learned that these records were returned to the court of origin.

The hearing for the administrative complaint before the CBD was set on 25 September 2003 by the Investigating Commissioner
Milagros V. San Juan. However, on said date, only complainant appeared. The latter also moved that the case be submitted for resolution.
[11]

Respondent later on filed a Manifestation stating that the reason for his non-appearance was because he was still recuperating from physical

injuries and that he was not mentally fit to prepare the required pleadings as his vehicle was rained with bullets on 19 August 2003. He also
expressed his public apology to the complainant in the same Manifestation.[12]

Complainant filed a Manifestation expressing her desire not to appear on the next hearing date in view of respondents public apology,
adding that respondent personally and humbly asked for forgiveness which she accepted.[13]

The Investigating Commissioner recommended that respondent be reprimanded and warned that any other complaint for breach of his
professional duties shall be dealt with more severely.[14] The IBP submitted to this Court a Notice of Resolution adopting and approving the
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.[15]

At the onset, it should be noted that respondent was not the counsel of record of Civil Case No. 784. Had he been counsel of record, it
would have been easy for him to present the required certified true copy of the decision of the Court of Appeals. He need not have gone to Manila
to procure a certified true copy of the decision since the Court of Appeals furnishes the parties and their counsel of record a duplicate original or
certified true copy of its decision.

His explanation that he will enter his appearance in the case when its records were already transmitted to the MCTC is unacceptable.
Not being the counsel of record and there being no authorization from either the parties to represent them, respondent had no right to impose his
will on the clerk of court.

Rule 8.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states:


Rule 8.02A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, encroach upon the professional employment of another
lawyer; however, it is the right of any lawyer, without fear or favor, to give proper advice and assistance to those seeking
relief against unfaithful or neglectful counsel.

Through his acts of constantly checking the transmittal of the records of Civil Case No. 784, respondent deliberately encroached upon
the legal functions of the counsel of record of that case. It does not matter whether he did so in good faith.

Moreover, in the course of his questionable activities relating to Civil Case No. 784, respondent acted rudely towards an officer of the
court. He raised his voice at the clerk of court and uttered at her the most vulgar of invectives. Not only was it ill-mannered but also unbecoming
considering that he did all these to a woman and in front of her subordinates.

As held in Alcantara v. Atty. Pefianco,[16] respondent ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior can only bring down the
legal profession in the public estimation and erode public respect for it.[17] These acts violate Rule 7.03, Canon 8 and Rule 8.01, to wit:
Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law, now shall
he, whether in public or private life behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
Canon 8 A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues,
and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel.
Rule 8.01 A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise
improper.

Moreover, Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility demands that lawyers conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and
candor toward their fellow lawyers. Lawyers are duty bound to uphold the dignity of the legal profession. They must act honorably, fairly and
candidly towards each other and otherwise conduct themselves without reproach at all times. [18]
As correctly evaluated by the Investigating Commissioner, respondent did not categorically deny the charges in the complaint. Instead,
he gave a lengthy narration of the prefatory facts of the case as well as of the incident on 5 May 2003.

Complainant also alleged in her Complaint-Affidavit that respondents uncharacteristic behavior was not an isolated incident. He has
supposedly done the same to Attys. Abraham Johnny G. Asuncion and Temmy Lambino, the latter having filed a case against respondent pending
before this Court.[19] We, however, cannot acknowledge such allegation absent any evidence showing the veracity of such claim. No affidavits to
that effect were submitted by either Atty. Asuncion or Atty. Lambino.

Nonetheless, the penalty to be imposed should be tempered owing to the fact that respondent had apologized to the complainant and
the latter had accepted it. This is not to say, however, that respondent should be absolved from his actuations. People are accountable for the
consequences of the things they say and do even if they repent afterwards. The fact remains that things done cannot be undone and words uttered
cannot be taken back. Hence, he should bear the consequences of his actions.

The highest reward that can be bestowed on lawyers is the esteem of their brethren. This esteem cannot be purchased, perfunctorily
created, or gained by artifice or contrivance. It is born of sharp contexts and thrives despite conflicting interest. It emanates solely from integrity,
character, brains and skills in the honorable performance of professional duty.[20]
WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent is hereby FINED in the amount of TEN THOUSAND ( P10,000.00) PESOS with a warning that
any similar infraction with be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Bar Confidant for appropriate annotation in
the record of the respondent.
SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, A.C. No. 6672
Complainant,
Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
- v e r s u s - CORONA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO and
BERSAMIN, JJ.
ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO,
Respondent. Promulgated:
September 4, 2009
x-----------------------------------------x
RES OLUTIO N
CORONA, J.:

This is a complaint for disbarment [1] filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes
Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services.
Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients [2] to transfer legal representation.
Respondent promised them financial assistance[3] and expeditious collection on their claims.[4] To induce them to hire his services, he persistently
called them and sent them text messages.
To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit [5] of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever
his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000. Complainant also
attached respondents calling card:[6]
Front
NICOMEDES TOLENTINO
LAW OFFFICE
CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES
W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
Fe Marie L. Labiano
Paralegal
1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01 Tel: 362-7820
6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar Fax: (632) 362-7821
Grace Park, Caloocan City Cel.: (0926) 2701719

Back

SERVICES OFFERED:
CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE
TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN
REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT,
INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH
AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS
ABROAD.
(emphasis supplied)
Hence, this complaint.
Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the said calling card. [7]
The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report
and recommendation.[8]
Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and recommendation, [9] found that respondent had encroached on the
professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.02 [10]and other canons[11] of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he
contravened the rule against soliciting cases for gain, personally or through paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 138 [12] of the
Rules of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be reprimanded with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a heavier
penalty.
We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent but we modify the recommended penalty.
The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent into complainants professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the
CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said misconduct themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules.
Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the manner by which a lawyers services are to be made known.
Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:
CANON 3 - A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS LEGAL SERVICES SHALL USE ONLY TRUE, HONEST, FAIR,
DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTIVE INFORMATION OR STATEMENT OF FACTS.
Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as
merchants advertise their wares.[13] To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession
in the publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is called. [14]
Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides:
RULE 2.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT DO OR PERMIT TO BE DONE ANY ACT DESIGNED PRIMARILY TO
SOLICIT LEGAL BUSINESS.
Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers. [15] Such actuation
constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment. [16]
Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides:
RULE 1.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT, FOR ANY CORRUPT MOTIVE OR INTEREST, ENCOURAGE ANY SUIT OR
PROCEEDING OR DELAY ANY MANS CAUSE.

This rule proscribes ambulance chasing (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in
order to gain employment)[17] as a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty.[18]
Complainant presented substantial evidence[19] (consisting of the sworn statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to
respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal business as well as profited from referrals suits.
Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he later admitted it during the mandatory hearing.
Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the
strength of Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result.
Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section 27,
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers client nor induce
the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services. [20] Again the Court notes that respondent never
denied having these seafarers in his client list nor receiving benefits from Labianos referrals. Furthermore, he never denied Labianos connection
to his office.[21] Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into anothers legal practice. He cannot escape liability under Rule 8.02 of
the CPR.
Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04:
Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or
by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to
advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.
The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance
necessary expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a
matter that he is handling for the client.
The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so that the free exercise of his judgment may not be adversely
affected.[22] It seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his entire devotion and fidelity to the clients cause. If the
lawyer lends money to the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in effect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the case or an
additional stake in its outcome.[23] Either of these circumstances may lead the lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client, or

to accept a settlement which may take care of his interest in the verdict to the prejudice of the client in violation of his duty of undivided fidelity
to the clients cause.[24]
As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice [25] which calls for the exercise of the Courts disciplinary powers.
Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining
employment.[26] Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous
lawyers and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession.
Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the prohibition on lending money to clients), the sanction
recommended by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed penalty is grossly incommensurate to its findings.
A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyers best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for
professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and conduct. [27] For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their
services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional cards.
Professional calling cards may only contain the following details:
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)

lawyers name;
name of the law firm with which he is connected;
address;
telephone number and
special branch of law practiced.[28]

Labianos calling card contained the phrase with financial assistance. The phrase was clearly used to entice clients (who already had
representation) to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance their legal actions. Money was dangled to lure clients away from their
original lawyers, thereby taking advantage of their financial distress and emotional vulnerability. This crass commercialism degraded the integrity
of the bar and deserved no place in the legal profession. However, in the absence of substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not
prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly responsible for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling cards.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one
year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future
shall be dealt with more severely.
Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and be furnished
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator to be circulated to all courts.
SO ORDERED.