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THE DISCIPLINE OF LAWYERS

DR.
DOMICIANO
F.
vs.
ATTY. ISIDRO L. CARACOL, Respondent.

VILLAHERMOSA,

SR., Complainant,

RESOLUTION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
Before us is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by Dr. Domiciano F. Villahermosa, Sr., against Atty. Isidro L.
Caracol for deceit, gross misconduct and violation of oath under Section 27,2 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
Villahermosa is respondent in two land cases3 involving cancellation of emancipation patents and transfer
certificates of title, cancellation of special power of attorney and deeds of absolute sale and recovery of
ownership and possession of parcels of land derived from Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 433 which
covered 23.3018 hectares of land in Valencia, Bukidnon. Counsel on record for plaintiff was Atty. Fidel Aquino.
OCT No. 433 was a homestead patent granted to Micael Babela who had two sons, Fernando and Efren. As
legal heirs of Micael, Fernando received 53,298 square meters while Efren received 33,296 square meters.
Subsequently, Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) were issued in their respective names.
When the agrarian reform law4 was enacted on October 21, 1972, emancipation patents and titles were issued to
Hermogena and Danilo Nipotnipot, beneficiaries of the program,who in turn sold the parcels of land to
complainants spouse, Raymunda Villahermosa. A deed of absolute sale was executed in favor of Raymunda.
On March 2, 1994, the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) issued a decision
ordering the cancellation of the emancipation patents and TCTs derived from OCT No. 433 stating that it was
not covered by the agrarian reform law. This decision was appealed to and affirmed by the DARAB Central
Board and the Court of Appeals.
On September 25, 2002, Atty. Caracol, as "Addl Counsel for the Plaintiffs-Movant," filed a motion for
execution with the DARAB, Malaybalay, Bukidnon praying for the full implementation of the March 2, 1994
decision.5
On December 20, 2005, Atty. Caracol filed a Motion for Issuance of Second Alias Writ of Execution and
Demolition6 which he signed as "Counsel for the Plaintiff Efren Babela" 7. Villahermosa filed this
complaint8 alleging that Atty. Caracol had no authority to file the motions since he obtained no authority from
the plaintiffs and the counsel of record. Villahermosa posited that Efren could not have authorized Atty. Caracol
to file the second motion because Efren had already been dead 9 for more than a year. He claimed that Atty.
Caracols real client was a certain Ernesto I. Aguirre, who had allegedly bought the same parcel of land.
Villahermosa presented affidavits of Efrens widow10 and daughter11 both stating that Efren never executed a
waiver of rights and that the parcel of land was sold to Villahermosa through a deed of sale. Both also stated
that they werefamiliar with Efrens signature. They state that the signature inthe waiver was different from his
usual signature. Villahermosa averred that Atty. Caracol committed deceit and gross misconduct.
In addition, Villahermosa claimed that Atty. Caracol introduced falsified and manufactured evidence intothe
proceedings. Atty. Caracol, in introducing a document denominated asWaiver of Rights where Efren waived all
his rights in favor of Ernesto Aguirre, was able to secure the execution of the judgment in one of the cases 12 in
favor of Ernesto Aguirre. Villahermosa also filed a case13 for falsification of public document and use of
falsified document against Ernesto Aguirre and Atty. Caracol.14

Atty. Caracol insists that Efren and Ernesto authorized him to appear as "additional counsel". He said that he
had consulted Atty. Aquino who advised him to go ahead with the filing. Moreover, he stated that he was not
aware that there was a waiver of rights executed in Ernesto Aguirres favor.
In its Report and Recommendation,15 the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP
CBD) found that Atty. Caracol committed deceitful acts and misconduct. It found that respondent did not
present credible evidence to controvert the allegation that he was not authorized by plaintiff or counsel of
record. Respondent admitted that at the time of the filing of the second motion, Efren was dead. It noted that
Atty. Caracol did not explain how he obtained the authority nor did he present any proof of the authority.
However, there was insufficient evidence to hold him liable for falsification.
The IBP CBD stated that Atty. Caracol clearly misled and misrepresented to the DARAB, Region X that he was
counsel of Efren to protect the interest of Ernesto Aguirre, his real client, violating his oath as a lawyer. It thus
recommended that Atty. Caracol be suspended from the practice of law for a period of five years.
The IBP Board of Governors adopted the report and recommendation but modified the penalty to one year
suspension from the practice of law.16 Atty. Caracol moved for reconsideration17 but was denied.18
Atty. Caracol filed a notice of appeal19 which this Court returned to him since no legal fees are required in
administrative cases.20
We adopt the findings of the IBP.
The Rules of Court under Rule 138, Section 21 provides for a presumption of a lawyers appearance on behalf
of his client, hence:
SEC. 21. Authority of attorney to appear. An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any
cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney isrequired to authorize him to appear in court for
his client, butthe presiding judge may, on motion of either party and on reasonable grounds therefor being
shown, require any attorney who assumes the right to appear in a case to produce or prove the authority under
which he appears, and to disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the person who employed him,
and may thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorney willfully appearing in court for a person
without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for contemptas an officer of the court
who has misbehaved in his official transactions. (Emphases supplied)
In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Pamintuan Devt. Co., 21 this Court said that while a lawyer is not required to
present proof of his representation, when a court requires that he show suchauthorization, it is imperative that he
show his authority to act. Thus:
A lawyer is not even required to present a written authorization from the client. In fact, the absence of a formal
notice of entry of appearance will not invalidate the acts performed by the counsel in his clients name.
However, [a] court, on its own initiative or on motion of the other party may require a lawyer to adduce
authorization from the client.22
Lawyers must be mindful that an attorney has no power to act as counsel for a person without being retained nor
may he appear in court without being employed unless by leave of court. 23 If an attorney appears on a clients
behalf without a retainer or the requisite authority neither the litigant whom he purports to represent nor the
adverse party may be bound or affected by his appearance unless the purported client ratifies or is estopped to
deny his assumed authority.24 If a lawyer corruptly or willfully appears as an attorney for a party toa case
without authority, he may be disciplined or punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has
misbehaved in his official transaction.25
We must also take into consideration that even if a lawyer is retained by a client, an attorney-client relationship
terminates upon death of either client or the lawyer.26

Here, Atty. Caracol was presumed to have authority when he appeared in the proceedings before the DARAB.
The records are unclear at what point his authority to appear for Efren was questioned. Neither is there any
indication that Villahermosa in fact questioned his authority during the course of the proceedings.
However, Atty. Caracol knew that Efren had already passed away at the time he filed the Motion for Issuance of
Second Alias Writ of Execution and Demolition. As an honest, prudent and conscientious lawyer, he should
have informed the Court of his clients passing and presented authority that he was retained by the clients
successors-in-interest and thus the parties may have been substituted.27
We also note the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz in People v. Mendoza28 where he stated:
I am bothered by the improvident plea of guilty made by accused Juan Magalop, presumably upon the adviceof
his counsel, Atty. Isidro L. Caracol of the CLAO (now the PAO). It would seem that this lawyer was less than
conscientious when he advised his indigent client to admit a crime the man did no[t] commit. As the
ponenciaobserves, "outside of his improvident plea of guilt, there is absolutely no evidence against him
presented or forthcoming. From the evidence of the prosecution, there is no way by which Magalop could have
been implicated."
It seems to me that if any one is guilty in this case, it is the PAO lawyer who, through an incredible lack of zeal
in the discharge of his duties, was apparently willing, without any moral compunctions at all, and without proof,
to consign an innocent man to prison.
The PAO is supposed to defend the accused, not to condemn them without cause.1wphi1 The defense counsel
in this case did not seem to appreciate this responsibility when he prodded Magalop to plead guilty and waived
the right to submit evidence in his behalf.29
While this observation does not serve to exacerbate Atty. Caracols liability under the present circumstances, we
would like to highlight the important role of an attorney in our judicial system. Because of the particular nature
of an attorneys function it is essential that they should act with fairness, honesty and candor towards the courts
and his clients.30 Under Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the
Court to be misled by any artifice.
This flows out from the lawyer's oath which each lawyer solemnly swears to uphold the law and court processes
in the pursuit of justice. Thus, a lawyer must be more circumspect in his demeanor and attitude towards the
public in general as agents of the judicial system.
Here, Atty. Caracol, as observed by the IBP CBD, has been less than candid about his representation. We also
observe that he has used underhanded means to attain his purpose. Atty. Caracol's blatant disregard of his duties
as a lawyer cannot be countenanced. In view of his actions of contravening his lawyer's oath and in violation of
Canons 8 and 10 and Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility we deem it proper to suspend him
from the practice of law for a period of one year.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Isidro L. Caracol GUILTY. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent
Atty. Isidro L. Caracol from the practice of law for ONE YEAR effective upon finality of this Resolution, with a
warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to respondent's
personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all courts in
the country for their information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.

EDGARDO
vs.
ATTY. MARIA VILMA MENDOZA, Respondent.

AREOLA, Complainant,

RESOLUTION
REYES, J.:
This refers to the administrative complaint 1 filed by Edgardo D. Areola (Areola) a.k.a. Muhammad Khadafy
against Atty. Maria Vilma Mendoza (Atty. Mendoza), from the Public Attorney s Office (PAO) for violation of
her attorney s oath of office, deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in office under Section 27, Rule 138
of the Revised Rules of Court, and for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
In the letter-complaint dated November 13, 2006 addressed to the Honorable Commissioners, Commission on
Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Areola stated that he was filing the complaint in
behalf of his co-detainees Allan Seronda, Aaron Arca, Joselito Mirador, Spouses Danilo Perez and Elizabeth
Perez. He alleged that on October 23, 2006, during Prisoners Week, Atty. Mendoza, visited the Antipolo City
Jail and called all detainees with pending cases before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 73, Antipolo
City where she was assigned, to attend her speech/lecture. 2 Areola claimed that Atty. Mendoza stated the
following during her speech:
"O kayong may mga kasong drugs na may pangpiyansa o pang- areglo ay maging praktikal sana kayo kung
gusto ninyong makalaya agad. Upang makatiyak kayo na hindi masasayang ang pera ninyo ay sa akin ninyo
ibigay o ng kamag-anak ninyo ang pera at ako na ang bahalang maglagay kay Judge Martin at Fiscal banqui; at
kayong mga detenidong mga babae na no bail ang kaso sa drugs, iyak-iyakan lang ninyo si Judge Martin at
palalayain na kayo. Malambot ang puso noon."3
Atty. Mendoza allegedly said that as she is handling more than 100 cases, all detainees should prepare and
furnish her with their Sinumpaang Salaysay so that she may know the facts of their cases and their defenses and
also to give her the necessary payment for their transcript of stenographic notes.4
Areola furthermore stated that when he helped his co-inmates in drafting their pleadings and filing motions
before the RTC Branch 73, Antipolo City, Atty. Mendoza undermined his capability, to wit:
(1) Atty. Mendoza purportedly scolded detainee Seronda when she learned that the latter was assisted by
Areola in filing a Motion to Dismiss for Violation of Republic Act No. 8942 (Speedy Trial Act of 1998)
in the latters criminal case for rape, which was pending before the RTC, Branch 73, Antipolo City. She
got angrier when Seronda retorted that he allowed Areola to file the motion for him since there was
nobody to help him.
(2) Areola assisted Spouses Danilo and Elizabeth Perez in filing their Joint Motion for Consolidation of
Trial of Consolidated Offenses and Joint Motion to Plead Guilty to a Lesser Offense. The spouses were
likewise scolded for relying on the Complainant and alleged that the respondent asked for P2,000.00 to
represent them.
(3) Areola helped another co-detainee, Mirador in filing an "Ex-parte Motion to Plead Guilty to a Lesser
Offense". When Atty. Mendoza learned of it, she allegedly scolded Mirador and discredited Areola.5
In her unverified Answer6 dated January 5, 2007, Atty. Mendoza asseverated that the filing of the administrative
complaint against her is a harassment tactic by Areola as the latter had also filed several administrative cases
against judges in the courts of Antipolo City including the jail warden of Taytay, Rizal where Areola was
previously detained. These actuations show that Areola has a penchant for filing various charges against
anybody who does not accede to his demand.7 Atty. Mendoza contended that Areola is not a lawyer but
represented himself to his co-detainees as one.8 She alleged that the motions/pleadings prepared and/or filed by
Areola were not proper.

After both parties failed to appear in the Mandatory Conference set by the IBP on August 15, 2008, the
Investigating Commissioner considered the non-appearance as a waiver on their part. Nonetheless, in the
interest of justice, both parties were required to submit their respective position papers.9
On December 29, 2009, the Investigating Commissioner issued his Report and Recommendation. 10 The
Investigating Commissioner stated that the Complainant is knowledgeable in the field of law. While he may be
of service to his fellow detainees, he must, however, be subservient to the skills and knowledge of a full fledged
lawyer. He however found no convincing evidence to prove that Atty. Mendoza received money from Areolas
co-detainees as alleged. The charges against Atty. Mendoza were also uncorroborated, viz:
There is no convincing evidence that will prove that the respondent received money from the inmates since the
charges are uncorroborated. In fact, the complainant is not the proper party to file the instant case since he was
not directly affected or injured by the act/s being complained of. No single affidavits of the affected persons
were attached to prove the said charges. Hence, it is simply hearsay in nature.11
Nonetheless, Atty. Mendoza admitted in her Answer that she advised her clients and their relatives to approach
the judge and the fiscal "to beg and cry" so that their motions would be granted and their cases against them
would be dismissed. To the Investigating Commissioner, this is highly unethical and improper as the act of Atty.
Mendoza degrades the image of and lessens the confidence of the public in the judiciary.12 The Investigating
Commissioner recommended that Atty. Mendoza be suspended from the practice of law for a period of two (2)
months.13
In a Notice of Resolution14 dated November 19, 2011, the Board of Governors resolved to adopt and approve
the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.
Atty. Mendoza sought to reconsider the Resolution15 dated November 19, 2011 but the IBP Board of Governors
denied her motion in its Resolution16 dated May 10, 2013. The Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors was
transmitted to the Court for final action pursuant to Rule 139-B, Section 12, Paragraph b 17 of the Revised Rules
of Court.
The Courts Ruling
After a judicious examination of the records, the Court finds that the instant Complaint against Atty. Mendoza
profoundly lacks evidence to support the allegations contained therein. All Areola has are empty assertions
against Atty. Mendoza that she demanded money from his co-detainees.
The Court agrees with the IBP that Areola is not the proper party to file the Complaint against Atty. Mendoza.
He is not even a client of Atty. Mendoza. He claims that he filed the Complaint on behalf of his co-detainees
Seronda, Arca, Mirador and Spouses Perez, but it is apparent that no document was submitted which would
show that they authorized Areola to file a Complaint. They did not sign the Complaint he prepared. No affidavit
was even executed by the said co-detainees to substantiate the matters Areola raised. Consequently, the Court
rejects Areolas statements, especially as regards Atty. Mendozas alleged demands of money.
The Court agrees with the observations of the Investigating Commissioner that Areola initiated this complaint
when he felt insulted because Atty. Mendoza refused to acknowledge the pleadings and motions he prepared for
his co-detainees who are PAO clients of Atty. Mendoza.18 It appears that Areola is quite knowledgeable with
Philippine laws. However, no matter how good he thinks he is, he is still not a lawyer. He is not authorized to
give legal advice and file pleadings by himself before the courts. His familiarity with Philippine laws should be
put to good use by cooperating with the PAO instead of filing baseless complaints against lawyers and other
government authorities. It seems to the Court that Areola thinks of himself as more intelligent and better than
Atty. Mendoza, based on his criticisms against her. In his Reply 19, he made fun of her grammatical errors and
tagged her as using carabao english20. He also called the PAO as "Pa-Amin Office" 21 which seriously
undermines the reputation of the PAO. While Areola may have been frustrated with the way the PAO is

managing the significant number of cases it deals with, all the more should he exert efforts to utilize his
knowledge to work with the PAO instead of maligning it.
Interestingly, Atty. Mendoza admitted that she advised her clients to approach the judge and plead for
compassion so that their motions would be granted. This admission corresponds to one of Areolas charges
against Atty. Mendozathat she told her clients " Iyak-iyakan lang ninyo si Judge Martin at palalayain na kayo.
Malambot ang puso noon." Atty. Mendoza made it appear that the judge is easily moved if a party resorts to
dramatic antics such as begging and crying in order for their cases to be dismissed.
As such, the Court agrees with the IBP Board of Governors that Atty. Mendoza made irresponsible advices to
her clients in violation of Rule 1.02 and Rule 15.07 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It is the mandate
of Rule 1.02 that "a lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening
confidence in the legal system." Rule 15.07 states that "a lawyer shall impress upon his client compliance with
the laws and the principles of fairness."
Atty. Mendozas improper advice only lessens the confidence of the public in our legal system. Judges must be
free to judge, without pressure or influence from external forces or factors 22 according to the merits of a case.
Atty. Mendozas careless remark is uncalled for.
It must be remembered that a lawyers duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice. 1wphi1 To
that end, his clients success is wholly subordinate. His conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously
observant of the law and ethics. Any means, not honorable, fair and honest which is resorted to by the lawyer,
even in the pursuit of his devotion to his clients cause, is condemnable and unethical.23
In spite of the foregoing, the Court deems the penalty of suspension for two (2) months as excessive and not
commensurate to Atty. Mendozas infraction. Disbarment and suspension of a lawyer, being the most severe
forms of disciplinary sanction, should be imposed with great caution and only in those cases where the
misconduct of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of the bar is established by clear, convincing
and satisfactory proof.24 The Court notes that when Atty. Mendoza made the remark "Iyak-iyakan lang ninyo si
Judge Martin at palalayain na kayo. Malambot ang puso noon", she was not compelled by bad faith or malice.
While her remark was inappropriate and unbecoming, her comment is not disparaging and reproachful so as to
cause dishonor and disgrace to the Judiciary.
In several administrative cases, the Court has refrained from imposing the actual penalties in the presence of
mitigating factors. Factors such as the respondents length of service, the respondents acknowledgement of his
or her infractions and feeling of remorse, family circumstances, humanitarian and equitable considerations,
respondents advanced age, among other things, have had varying significance in the Courts determination of
the imposable penalty.25 The Court takes note of Atty. Mendozas lack of ill-motive in the present case and her
being a PAO lawyer as her main source of livelihood.26 Furthermore, the complaint filed by Areola is clearly
baseless and the only reason why this was ever given consideration was due to Atty. Mendozas own admission.
For these reasons, the Court deems it just to modify and reduce the penalty recommended by the IBP Board of
Governors.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds Atty. Maria Vilma Mendoza GUILTY of giving improper
advice to her clients in violation of Rule 1.02 and Rule 15.07 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is
accordingly meted out the penalty of REPRIMAND, with the STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same
or similar act will be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
ROSE
vs.
ATTY. ROGELIO JUAN A. CELERA, Respondent.

BUNAGAN-BANSIG, Complainant,

DECISION
PER CURIAM:
Before us is a Petition for Disbarment 1 dated January 8, 2002 filed by complainant Rose Bunagan-Bansig
(Bansig) against respondent Atty. Rogelio Juan A. Celera (respondent) for Gross Immoral Conduct.
In her complaint, Bansig narrated that, on May 8, 1997, respondent and Gracemarie R. Bunagan (Bunagan),
entered into a contract of marriage, as evidenced by a certified xerox copy of the certificate of marriage issued
by the City Civil Registry of Manila.2 Bansig is the sister of Gracemarie R. Bunagan, legal wife of respondent.
However, notwithstanding respondent's marriage with Bunagan, respondent contracted another marriage on
January 8, 1998 with a certain Ma. Cielo Paz Torres Alba (Alba), as evidenced by a certified xerox copy of the
certificate of marriage issued by the City Registration Officer of San Juan, Manila.3
Bansig stressed that the marriage between respondent and Bunagan was still valid and in full legal existence
when he contracted his second marriage with Alba, and that the first marriage had never been annulled or
rendered void by any lawful authority.
Bansig alleged that respondents act of contracting marriage with Alba, while his marriage is still subsisting,
constitutes grossly immoral and conduct unbecoming of a member of the Bar, which renders him unfit to
continue his membership in the Bar.
In a Resolution4 dated February 18, 2002, the Court resolved to require respondent to file a comment on the
instant complaint.
Respondent failed to submit his comment on the complaint, despite receipt of the copy of the Court's
Resolution, as evidenced by Registry Return Receipt No. 30639. Thus, the Court, in a Resolution 5 dated March
17, 2003, resolved to require respondent to show cause why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in
contempt for failing to file his comment on the complaint against him.6
On December 10, 2002, Bansig filed an Omnibus Ex Parte Motion 7 praying that respondent's failure to file his
comment on the complaint be deemed as a waiver to file the same, and that the case be submitted for
disposition.
On May 4, 2003, in a Motion, respondent claimed that while it appeared that an administrative case was filed
against him, he did not know the nature or cause thereof since other than Bansig's Omnibus Motion, he received
no other pleading or any processes of this Court. Respondent, however, countered that Bansig's Omnibus
Motion was merely a ploy to frighten him and his wife from pursuing the criminal complaints for falsification
of public documents they filed against Bansig and her husband. He also explained that he was able to obtain a
copy of the Court's Show Cause Order only when he visited his brother who is occupying their former residence
at 59-B Aguho St., Project 3, Quezon City. Respondent further averred that he also received a copy of Bansig's
Omnibus Motion when the same was sent to his law office address.
Respondent pointed out that having been the family's erstwhile counsel and her younger sister's husband,
Bansig knew his law office address, but she failed to send a copy of the complaint to him. Respondent suspected
that Bansig was trying to mislead him in order to prevent him from defending himself. He added that Bansig has
an unpaid obligation amounting to P2,000,000.00 to his wife which triggered a sibling rivalry. He further
claimed that he and his wife received death threats from unknown persons; thus, he transferred to at least two
(2) new residences, i.e., in Sampaloc, Manila and Angeles City. He then prayed that he be furnished a copy of
the complaint and be given time to file his answer to the complaint.
In a Resolution8 dated July 7, 2003, the Court resolved to (a) require Bansig to furnish respondent with a copy
of the administrative complaint and to submit proof of such service; and (b) require respondent to file a
comment on the complaint against him.

In compliance, Bansig submitted an Affidavit of Mailing to show proof that a copy of the administrative
complaint was furnished to respondent at his given address which is No. 238 Mayflower St., Ninoy Aquino
Subdivision, Angeles City, as evidenced by Registry Receipt No. 2167.9
On March 17, 2004, considering that respondent failed anew to file his comment despite receipt of the
complaint, the Court resolved to require respondent to show cause why he should not be disciplinarily dealt
with or held in contempt for such failure.10
On June 3, 2004, respondent, in his Explanation,11 reiterated that he has yet to receive a copy of the complaint.
He claimed that Bansig probably had not complied with the Court's Order, otherwise, he would have received
the same already. He requested anew that Bansig be directed to furnish him a copy of the complaint.
Again, on August 25, 2004, the Court granted respondent's prayer that he be furnished a copy of the complaint,
and required Bansig to furnish a copy of the complaint to respondent.12
On October 1, 2004, Bansig, in her Manifestation,13 lamented the dilatory tactics allegedly undertaken by
respondent in what was supposedly a simple matter of receipt of complaint. Bansig asserted that the Court
should sanction respondent for his deliberate and willful act to frustrate the actions of the Court. She attached a
copy of the complaint and submitted an Affidavit of Mailing stating that again a copy of the complaint was
mailed at respondent's residential address in Angeles City as shown by Registry Receipt No. 3582.
On May 16, 2005, the Court anew issued a Show Cause Order to respondent as to why he should not be
disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for failure to comply with the Resolution dated July 7, 2003 despite
service of copy of the complaint by registered mail.14
On August 1, 2005, the Court noted the returned and unserved copy of the Show Cause Order dated May 16,
2005 sent to respondent at 238 Mayflower St., Ninoy Aquino Subd. under Registry Receipt No. 55621, with
notation "RTS-Moved." It likewise required Bansig to submit the correct and present address of respondent.15
On September 12, 2005, Bansig manifested that respondent had consistently indicated in his correspondence
with the Court No. 238 Mayflower St., Ninoy Aquino Subdivision, Angeles City as his residential address.
However, all notices served upon him on said address were returned with a note "moved" by the mail server.
Bansig averred that in Civil Case No. 59353, pending before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 1,
Tuguegarao City, respondent entered his appearance as counsel with mailing address to be at "Unit 8, Halili
Complex, 922 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City."16
On February 13, 2006, the Court resolved to resend a copy of the Show Cause Order dated May 16, 2005 to
respondent at his new address at Unit 8, Halili Complex, 922 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City.17
On June 30, 2008, due to respondent's failure to comply with the Show Cause Order dated May 16, 2005, for
failure to file his comment on this administrative complaint as required in the Resolution dated July 7, 2003, the
Court resolved to: (a) IMPOSE upon Atty. Celera a FINE of P1,000.00 payable to the court, or a penalty of
imprisonment of five (5) days if said fine is not paid, and (b) REQUIRE Atty. Celera to COMPLY with the
Resolution dated July 7, 2003 by filing the comment required thereon.18
In a Resolution19 dated January 27, 2010, it appearing that respondent failed to comply with the Court's
Resolutions dated June 30, 2008 and July 7, 2003, the Court resolved to: (1) DISPENSE with the filing by
respondent of his comment on the complaint; (2) ORDER the arrest of Atty. Celera; and (3) DIRECT the
Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to (a) ARREST and DETAIN Atty. Celera for noncompliance with the Resolution dated June 30, 2008; and (b) SUBMIT a report of compliance with the
Resolution. The Court likewise resolved to REFER the complaint to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for
investigation, report and recommendation.20
However, the Return of Warrant21 dated March 24, 2010, submitted by Atty. Frayn M. Banawa, Investigation
Agent II, Anti-Graft Division of the NBI, showed that respondent cannot be located because neither Halili

Complex nor No. 922 Aurora Blvd., at Cubao, Quezon City cannot be located. During surveillance, it appeared
that the given address, i.e., No. 922 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City was a vacant lot with debris of a
demolished building. Considering that the given address cannot be found or located and there were no leads to
determine respondent's whereabouts, the warrant of arrest cannot be enforced.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, meanwhile, in compliance with the Court's Resolution, reported that as
per their records, the address of respondent is at No. 41 Hoover St., Valley View Royale Subd., Taytay, Rizal.
Respondent likewise failed to appear before the mandatory conference and hearings set by the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), despite several notices. Thus, in an Order dated
August 4, 2010, Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, of the IBP-CBD, declared respondent to be in
default and the case was submitted for report and recommendation. The Order of Default was received by
respondent as evidenced by a registry return receipt. However, respondent failed to take any action on the
matter.
On January 3, 2011, the IBP-CBD, in its Report and Recommendation, recommended that respondent Atty.
Celera be suspended for a period of two (2) years from the practice of law.
RULING
A disbarment case is sui generis for it is neither purely civil nor purely criminal, but is rather an investigation by
the court into the conduct of its officers. 22 The issue to be determined is whether respondent is still fit to
continue to be an officer of the court in the dispensation of justice. Hence, an administrative proceeding for
disbarment continues despite the desistance of a complainant, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the
same, or in this case, the failure of respondent to answer the charges against him despite numerous notices.
In administrative proceedings, the complainant has the burden of proving, by substantial evidence, the
allegations in the complaint. Substantial evidence has been defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. For the Court to exercise its disciplinary powers, the
case against the respondent must be established by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof. Considering the
serious consequence of the disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, this Court has consistently held
that clear preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of the administrative penalty.23
In the instant case, there is a preponderance of evidence that respondent contracted a second marriage despite
the existence of his first marriage. The first marriage, as evidenced by the certified xerox copy of the Certificate
of Marriage issued on October 3, 2001 by the City Civil Registry of Manila, Gloria C. Pagdilao, states that
respondent Rogelio Juan A. Celera contracted marriage on May, 8, 1997 with Gracemarie R. Bunagan at the
Church of Saint Augustine, Intramuros, Manila; the second marriage, however, as evidenced by the certified
xerox copy of the Certificate of Marriage issued on October 4, 2001 by the City Civil Registry of San Juan,
Manila, states that respondent Rogelio Juan A. Celera contracted marriage on January 8, 1998 with Ma. Cielo
Paz Torres Alba at the Mary the Queen Church, Madison St., Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila.
Bansig submitted certified xerox copies of the marriage certificates to prove that respondent entered into a
second marriage while the latters first marriage was still subsisting. We note that the second marriage
apparently took place barely a year from his first marriage to Bunagan which is indicative that indeed the first
marriage was still subsisting at the time respondent contracted the second marriage with Alba.
The certified xerox copies of the marriage contracts, issued by a public officer in custody thereof, are admissible
as the best evidence of their contents, as provided for under Section 7 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
Sec. 7. Evidence admissible when original document is a public record. When the original of a document is in
the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office, its contents may be proved by a certified copy
issued by the public officer in custody thereof.

Moreover, the certified xerox copies of the marriage certificates, other than being admissible in evidence, also
clearly indicate that respondent contracted the second marriage while the first marriage is subsisting. By itself,
the certified xerox copies of the marriage certificates would already have been sufficient to establish the
existence of two marriages entered into by respondent. The certified xerox copies should be accorded the full
faith and credence given to public documents. For purposes of this disbarment proceeding, these Marriage
Certificates bearing the name of respondent are competent and convincing evidence to prove that he committed
bigamy, which renders him unfit to continue as a member of the Bar.24
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Rule 1.01- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Canon 7- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support the
activities of the Integrated Bar.
Rule 7.03- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should
he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
Respondent exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as a member of the Bar. He
made a mockery of marriage, a sacred institution demanding respect and dignity. His act of contracting a second
marriage while his first marriage is subsisting constituted grossly immoral conduct and are grounds for
disbarment under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court.25
This case cannot be fully resolved, however, without addressing rather respondents defiant stance against the
Court as demonstrated by his repetitive disregard of its Resolution requiring him to file his comment on the
complaint. This case has dragged on since 2002. In the span of more than 10 years, the Court has issued
numerous directives for respondent's compliance, but respondent seemed to have preselected only those he will
take notice of and the rest he will just ignore. The Court has issued several resolutions directing respondent to
comment on the complaint against him, yet, to this day, he has not submitted any answer thereto. He claimed to
have not received a copy of the complaint, thus, his failure to comment on the complaint against him. Ironically,
however, whenever it is a show cause order, none of them have escaped respondent's attention. Even assuming
that indeed the copies of the complaint had not reached him, he cannot, however, feign ignorance that there is a
complaint against him that is pending before this Court which he could have easily obtained a copy had he
wanted to.
The Court has been very tolerant in dealing with respondent's nonchalant attitude towards this case;
accommodating respondent's endless requests, manifestations and prayers to be given a copy of the complaint.
The Court, as well as Bansig, as evidenced by numerous affidavits of service, have relentlessly tried to reach
respondent for more than a decade; sending copies of the Court's Resolutions and complaint to different
locations - both office and residential addresses of respondent. However, despite earnest efforts of the Court to
reach respondent, the latter, however conveniently offers a mere excuse of failure to receive the complaint.
When said excuse seemed no longer feasible, respondent just disappeared. In a manner of speaking,
respondents acts were deliberate, maneuvering the liberality of the Court in order to delay the disposition of the
case and to evade the consequences of his actions. Ultimately, what is apparent is respondents deplorable
disregard of the judicial process which this Court cannot countenance.
Clearly, respondent's acts constitute willful disobedience of the lawful orders of this Court, which under Section
27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is in itself alone a sufficient cause for suspension or disbarment.
Respondents cavalier attitude in repeatedly ignoring the orders of the Supreme Court constitutes utter
disrespect to the judicial institution. Respondents conduct indicates a high degree of irresponsibility. We have
repeatedly held that a Courts Resolution is "not to be construed as a mere request, nor should it be complied
with partially, inadequately, or selectively." Respondents obstinate refusal to comply with the Courts orders
"not only betrays a recalcitrant flaw in his character; it also underscores his disrespect of the Court's lawful
orders which is only too deserving of reproof."26

Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:


Sec. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court grounds therefor. - A member of the bar may
be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other
gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving
moral turpitude or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for
a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an
attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. The practice of soliciting cases for the purpose of gain,
either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
Considering respondent's propensity to disregard not only the laws of the land but also the lawful orders of the
Court, it only shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor. He is, thus,
unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, we find respondent ATTY. ROGELIO JUAN A. CELERA, guilty of
grossly immoral conduct and willful disobedience of lawful orders rendering him unworthy of continuing
membership in the legal profession. He is thus ordered DISBARRED from the practice of law and his name
stricken of the Roll of Attorneys, effective immediately.1wphi1
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, which shall forthwith record it in the
personal file of respondent. All the Courts of the Philippines and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall
disseminate copies thereof to all its Chapters.
SO ORDERED.

FIDELA BENGCO
BENGCO,

AND

TERESITA A.C. No. 6368

Complainants,

-versus-

ATTY. PABLO S. BERNARDO,


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

DECISION

REYES, J.:

This is a complaint[1] for disbarment filed by complainants Fidela G. Bengco (Fidela) and Teresita N. Bengco
(Teresita) against respondent Atty. Pablo Bernardo (Atty. Bernardo) for deceit, malpractice, conduct
unbecoming a member of the Bar and violation of his duties and oath as a lawyer.

The acts of the respondent which gave rise to the instant complaint are as follows:

That sometime on or about the period from April 15, 1997 to July 22, 1997, Atty. Pablo Bernardo
with the help and in connivance and collusion with a certain Andres Magat [wilfully] and
illegally committed fraudulent act with intent to defraud herein complainants Fidela G. Bengco
and Teresita N. Bengco by using false pretenses, deceitful words to the effect that he would
expedite the titling of the land belonging to the Miranda family of Tagaytay City who are the
acquaintance of complainants herein and they convinced herein complainant[s] that if they will
finance and deliver to him the amount of [P]495,000.00 as advance money he would expedite the
titling of the subject land and further by means of other similar deceit like misrepresenting
himself as lawyer of William Gatchalian, the prospective buyer of the subject land, who is the
owner of Plastic City at Canomay Street, Valenzuela, Metro Manila and he is the one handling
William Gatchalians business transaction and that he has contracts at NAMREA, DENR,
CENRO and REGISTER OF DEEDS which representation he well knew were false, fraudulent
and were only made to induce the complainant[s] to give and deliver the said amount
([P]495,000.00) and once in possession of said amount, far from complying with his obligation
to expedite and cause the titling of the subject land, [wilfully], unlawfully and illegally
misappropriated, misapplied and converted the said amount to his personal use and benefit and
despite demand upon him to return the said amount, he failed and refused to do so, which acts
constitute deceit, malpractice, conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar and Violation of Duties
and Oath as a lawyer.[2]

In support of their complaint, the complainants attached thereto Resolutions dated December 7,
1998 and June 22, 1999[4] of the Third Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Sto. Tomas and Minalin, Sto.
Tomas, Pampanga and the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of San Fernando, Pampanga, respectively, finding
probable cause for the filing of the criminal information [5] against both Atty. Bernardo and Andres Magat
(Magat) before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Fernando, Pampanga, Branch 48, charging them with the
crime of Estafa punishable under Article 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code.
[3]

The respondent was required to file his Comment. [6] On September 24, 2004, the respondent filed an undated
Comment,[7] wherein he denied the allegations against him and averred the following:

2. He had not deceived both complainants between the period from April 15, 1997 to July 22,
1997 for purposes of getting from them the amount of [P]495,000.00. It was Andy Magat whom
they contacted and who in turn sought the legal services of the respondent. It was Andy Magat
who received the said money from them.

3. There was no connivance made and entered into by Andy Magat and respondent. The
arrangement for titling of the land was made by Teresita N. Bengco and Andy Magat with no
participation of respondent.

4. The acceptance of the respondent to render his legal service is legal and allowed in law
practice.[8]

The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation.

On February 16, 2005, the IBP ordered the respondent to submit a verified comment pursuant to Rule 139-B,
Section 6 of the Rules of Court as it appeared that the respondents undated comment filed with the Court was
not verified.[9]

On March 15, 2005, respondent through counsel requested for an additional fifteen (15) days from March 17,
2005, or until April 1, 2005, within which to comply due to his medical confinement.[10]

Thereafter, on April 4, 2005, the respondent filed a second motion [11] for extension praying for another 20 days,
or until April 22, 2005, alleging that he was still recovering from his illness.

On August 3, 2005, the case was set for mandatory conference.[12] The respondent failed to appear; thus, the IBP
considered the respondent in default for his failure to appear and for not filing an answer despite extensions
granted. The case was then submitted for report and recommendation.[13]

Based on the records of the case, Investigating Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala made the
following findings:

[O]n or before the period from 15 April 1997 to 22 July 1997, respondent with the help and in
connivance and collusion with a certain Andres Magat (Magat), by using false pretenses and
deceitful words, [wilfully] and illegally committed fraudulent acts to the effect that respondent
would expedite the titling of the land belonging to the Miranda family of Tagaytay City, who
were the acquaintance of complainants.

Respondent and Magat convinced complainants that if they finance and deliver to them
the amount of [P]495,000.00 as advance money, they would expedite the titling of the subject
land. Respondent represented himself to be the lawyer of William Gatchalian, the owner
of Plastic City located at Canomay Street, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, who was allegedly the
buyer of the subject land once it has been titled. Respondent and Magat also represented that
they have contacts at NAMREA, DENR, CENRO and the Register of Deeds which
representation they knew to be false, fraudulent and were only made to induce complainants to
give and deliver to them the amount of [P]495,000.00. Once in possession of the said amount, far
from complying with their obligation to expedite and cause the titling of the subject land,
respondent and Magat [wilfully], unlawfully and illegally misappropriated, misapplied and
converted the said amount to their personal use and benefit and despite demand upon them to
return the said amount, they failed and refused to do so.

In view of the deceit committed by respondent and Magat, complainants filed a complaint
for Estafa against the former before the Third Municipal Circuit Trial Court, of Sto. Tomas and
Minalin, Sto. Tomas, Pampanga. In the preliminary investigation conducted by the said court, it
finds sufficient grounds to hold respondent and Magat for trial for the crime of Estafa defined
under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. The case was transmitted to

the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pampanga for appropriate action as per Order dated 7
December 1998.

The Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pampanga
conducted a re-investigation of the case. During the re-investigation thereof, Magat was willing
to reimburse to complainants the amount of [P]200,000.00 because according to him the amount
of [P]295,000.00 should be reimbursed by respondent considering that the said amount was
turned over to respondent for expenses incurred in the documentation prior to the titling of the
subject land. Both respondent and Magat requested for several extensions for time to pay back
their obligations to the complainants. However, despite extensions of time granted to them,
respondent and Magat failed to fulfil their promise to pay back their obligation. Hence, it was
resolved that the offer of compromise was construed to be an implied admission of guilt. The
Asst. Provincial Prosecutor believes that there was no reason to disturb the findings of the
investigating judge and an Information for Estafa was filed against respondent and Magat on 8
July 1999 before the Regional Trial Court, San Fernando, Pampanga.

The failure of the lawyer to answer the complaint for disbarment despite due notice on several
occasions and appear on the scheduled hearings set, shows his flouting resistance to lawful
orders of the court and illustrates his despiciency for his oath of office as a lawyer which
deserves disciplinary sanction x x x.

From the facts and evidence presented, it could not be denied that respondent committed a crime
that import deceit and violation of his attorneys oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility
under both of which he was bound to obey the laws of the land. The commission of unlawful
acts, specially crimes involving moral turpitude, acts of dishonesty in violation of the attorneys
oath, grossly immoral conduct and deceit are grounds for suspension or disbarment of lawyers
(Rule 138, Section 27, RRC).

The misconduct complained of took place in 1997 and complainants filed the case only on 16
April 2004. As provided for by the Rules of Procedure of the Commission of Bar Discipline, as
amended, dated 24 March 2004, A complaint for disbarment, suspension or discipline of
attorneys prescribes in two (2) years from the date of the professional misconduct (Section 1,
Rule VIII).[14]

The Investigating Commissioner recommended that:

x x x [R]espondent ATTY. PABLO A. BERNARDO be SUSPENDED for a period of TWO


YEARS from receipt hereof from the practice of his profession as a lawyer and as a member of
the Bar. [15]

On February 1, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVII-2007-065, viz:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED with


modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the aboveentitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation
fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, Atty. Pablo S.
Bernardo is hereby ordered, the restitution of the amount of [P]200,000.00 within sixty (60)
days from receipt of notice with Warning that if he does not return the amount with in sixty days
from receipt of this Order then he will be meted the penalty of Suspension from the practice of
law for one (1) year.[16]

On May 16, 2007, the respondent promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration [17] of the aforesaid Resolution of
the IBP. The respondent averred that: (1) the IBP resolution is not in accord with the rules considering that the
complaint was filed more than two (2) years from the alleged misconduct and therefore, must have been
dismissed outright; (2) he did not commit any misrepresentation in convincing Fidela to give him money to
finance the titling of the land; (3) he was hired as a lawyer through Magat who transacted with Teresita as
evidenced by a Memorandum of Agreement[18] signed by the latter; (4) he was denied due process when the
Investigating Commissioner considered him as in default after having ignored the representative he sent during
the hearing on August 3, 2005; and (5) he long restituted the amount of P225,000.00 not as an offer of
compromise but based on his moral obligation as a lawyer due to Teresitas declaration that he had to stop acting
as her legal counsel sometime in the third quarter of 1997. The respondent pointed out the admission made by
Fidela in her direct testimony before the RTC that she received the amount, as evidenced by photocopies of
receipts.

In an Order[19] dated May 17, 2007 issued by the IBP, the complainant was required to comment within fifteen
(15) days from receipt thereof.

In her Comment,[20] Fidela explained that it took them quite some time in filing the administrative case because
they took into consideration the possibility of an amicable settlement instead of a judicial proceeding since it
would stain the respondents reputation as a lawyer; that the respondent went into hiding which prompted them
to seek the assistance of CIDG agents from Camp Olivas in order to trace the respondents whereabouts; that the
respondent was duly accorded the opportunity to be heard; and finally, that no restitution of the P200,000.00
plus corresponding interest has yet been made by the respondent.

On June 21, 2008, Fidela filed a Manifestation [21] stating that the RTC rendered a decision in the criminal case
for Estafa finding the accused, Atty. Bernardo and Magat guilty of conspiracy in the commission of Estafa
under Article 315 par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code and both are sentenced to suffer six (6) years and one (1)
day of Prision Mayor as minimum to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of Reclusion Temporal as maximum.[22]

In a Letter[23] dated March 23, 2009, addressed to the IBP, Fidela sought the resolution of the present action as
she was already 86 years of age. Later, an Ex-parte Motion to Resolve the Case [24] dated September 1, 2010 was
filed by the complainants. In another Letter dated October 26, 2011, Fidela, being 88 years old, sought for Atty.
Bernardos restitution of the amount of P200,000.00 so she can use the money to buy her medicine and other
needs.

The Court adopts and agrees with the findings and conclusions of the IBP.

It is first worth mentioning that the respondents defense of prescription is untenable. The Court has held
that administrative cases against lawyers do not prescribe. The lapse of considerable time from the commission
of the offending act to the institution of the administrative complaint will not erase the administrative
culpability of a lawyer.Otherwise, members of the bar would only be emboldened to disregard the very oath
they took as lawyers, prescinding from the fact that as long as no private complainant would immediately come
forward, they stand a chance of being completely exonerated from whatever administrative liability they ought
to answer for.[25]

Further, consistent with his failure to file his answer after he himself pleaded for several extensions of
time to file the same, the respondent failed to appear during the mandatory conference, as ordered by the
IBP. As a lawyer, the respondent is considered as an officer of the court who is called upon to obey and respect
court processes. Such acts of the respondent are a deliberate and contemptuous affront on the courts authority
which can not be countenanced.

It can not be overstressed that lawyers are instruments in the administration of justice. As vanguards of
our legal system, they are expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high standard of morality,
honesty, integrity and fair dealing. In so doing, the peoples faith and confidence in the judicial system is
ensured. Lawyers may be disciplined whether in their professional or in their private capacity for any conduct
that is wanting in morality, honesty, probity and good demeanor.[26]

Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility read:

Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to
solicit legal business.

Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading,
deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or
legal services.

There is no question that the respondent committed the acts complained of. He himself admitted in his answer
that his legal services were hired by the complainants through Magat regarding the purported titling of land
supposedly purchased. While he begs for the Courts indulgence, his contrition is shallow considering the fact
that he used his position as a lawyer in order to deceive the complainants into believing that he can expedite the
titling of the subject properties. He never denied that he did not benefit from the money given by the
complainants in the amount of P495,000.00.

The practice of law is not a business. It is a profession in which duty to public service, not money, is the
primary consideration. Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making venture, and law advocacy is
not a capital that necessarily yields profits. The gaining of a livelihood should be a secondary
consideration. The duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be the primary
consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to themselves.[27]

It is likewise settled that a disbarment proceeding is separate and distinct from a criminal action filed against a
lawyer despite having involved the same set of facts.Jurisprudence has it that a finding of guilt in the criminal
case will not necessarily result in a finding of liability in the administrative case. Conversely, the respondents
acquittal does not necessarily exculpate him administratively.[28]

In Yu v. Palaa,[29] the Court held that:

Respondent, being a member of the bar, should note that administrative cases against lawyers
belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they may proceed independently of
criminal cases. A criminal prosecution will not constitute a prejudicial question even if the same
facts and circumstances are attendant in the administrative proceedings. Besides, it is not sound
judicial policy to await the final resolution of a criminal case before a complaint against a lawyer
may be acted upon; otherwise, this Court will be rendered helpless to apply the rules on
admission to, and continuing membership in, the legal profession during the whole period that
the criminal case is pending final disposition, when the objectives of the two proceedings are
vastly disparate. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for
private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare and for
preserving courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice law. The
attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court. [30] (Citations
omitted)

As the records reveal, the RTC eventually convicted the respondent for the crime of Estafa for which he
was meted the penalty of sentenced to suffer six (6) years and one (1) day of Prision Mayor as minimum to
twelve (12) years and one (1) day of Reclusion Temporal as maximum. Such criminal conviction clearly
undermines the respondents moral fitness to be a member of the Bar. Rule 138, Section 27 provides that:

SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A
member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme
Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral
conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation
of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a wilful
disobedience appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do so.

In view of the foregoing, this Court has no option but to accord him the punishment commensurate to all
his acts and to accord the complainants, especially the 88-year old Fidela, with the justice they utmost deserve.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Atty. Pablo S. Bernardo is found guilty of
violating the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law
for ONE (1) YEAR effective upon notice hereof.

Further, the Court ORDERS Atty. Pablo S. Bernardo (1) to RETURN the amount of P200,000.00 to
Fidela Bengco and Teresita Bengco within TEN (10) DAYS from receipt of this Decision and (2)
to SUBMIT his proof of compliance thereof to the Court, through the Office of the Bar Confidant within TEN

(10) DAYS therefrom; with a STERN WARNING that failure to do so shall merit him the additional penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year.

Let copies of this Decision be entered in his record as attorney and be furnished the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.
NESTOR
B.
FIGUERAS
and
BIENVENIDO
vs.
ATTY. DIOSDADO B. JIMENEZ, Respondent.

VICTORIA,

JR., Complainants,

RESOLUTION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
Before us is a petition for review filed by Atty. Diosdado B. Jimenez assailing the February 19, 2009
Resolution1 of the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) suspending him from the
practice of law for a period of six months for breach of Rule 12.03, 2 Canon 12,3 Canon 17,4 Rule 18.03,5 and
Canon 186 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He likewise assails the June 26, 2011 Resolution 7 of the
IBP Board of Governors denying his motion for reconsideration.
The facts are as follows:
Congressional Village Homeowners Association, Inc. is the entity in charge of the affairs of the homeowners of
Congressional Village in Quezon City. On January 7, 1993, the Spouses Federico and Victoria Santander filed a
civil suit for damages against the Association and Ely Mabanag 8 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Quezon City, Branch 104 for building a concrete wall which abutted their property and denied them of their
right of way. The spouses Santander likewise alleged that said concrete wall was built in violation of Quezon
City Ordinance No. 8633, S-71 which prohibits the closing, obstructing, preventing or otherwise refusing to the
public or vehicular traffic the use of or free access to any subdivision or community street. 9 The Law Firm of
Gonzalez Sinense Jimenez and Associates was the legal counsel for the Association, with respondent as the
counsel of record and handling lawyer. After trial and hearing, the RTC rendered a decision 10 on October 4,
1996 in favor of the Spouses Santander. The Association, represented by said law firm, appealed to the Court of
Appeals (CA). On February 5, 1999, the CA issued a Resolution 11 in CA-G.R. CV No. 55577 dismissing the
appeal on the ground that the original period to file the appellants brief had expired 95 days even before the
first motion for extension of time to file said brief was filed. The CA also stated that the grounds adduced for
the said motion as well as the six subsequent motions for extension of time to file brief were not meritorious.
The CA resolution became final.
Eight years later or on April 11, 2007, complainants Nestor Figueras and Bienvenido Victoria, Jr., as members
of the Association, filed a Complaint 12 for Disbarment against respondent before the IBP Committee on Bar
Discipline (CBD) for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly Rule 12.03, Canon 12;
Canon 17; and Rule 18.03, Canon 18 thereof for his negligence in handling the appeal and willful violation of
his duties as an officer of the court.
In his Verified Answer with Counter Complaint, 13 respondent denied administrative liability. He claimed that
although his law firm represented the homeowners association in CA-G.R. CV No. 55577, the case was
actually handled by an associate lawyer in his law office. As the partner in charge of the case, he exercised
general supervision over the handling counsel and signed the pleadings prepared by said handling lawyer. Upon
discovery of the omissions of the handling lawyer, appropriate sanctions were imposed on the handling lawyer

and he thereafter personally took responsibility and spent personal funds to negotiate a settlement with Federico
Santander at no cost to the Association. No damage whatsoever was caused to the Association.
Respondent likewise alleged that after he defeated complainant Figueras in the election for President of the
homeowners association in 1996, Figueras and his compadre, complainant Victoria, stopped paying their
association dues and other assessments. Complainants and other delinquent members of the association were
sanctioned by the Board of Directors and were sued by the association before the Housing and Land Use
Regulatory Board (HLURB). In retaliation, complainants filed the present disbarment case against him and
several other cases against him and other officers of the association before the HLURB to question, among
others, the legitimacy of the Association, the election of its officers, and the sanctions imposed by the
Association. Thus, he concluded that the disbarment case was filed to harass him. Respondent added that
complainants have no personality to file the disbarment complaint as they were not his clients; hence, there was
likewise no jurisdiction over the complaint on the part of the IBP-CBD.
As counterclaim, respondent prayed for the outright dismissal of the disbarment case for lack of merit, the
imposition of sanctions on complainants, and the payment of damages for the filing of the baseless complaint
for disbarment.
On October 3, 2008, the Investigating Commissioner of the IBP-CBD found respondent liable for violation of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly Rule 12.03 of Canon 12, Canon 17, Rule 18.03, and Canon
18 thereof, and recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three to six
months, with warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.14
On February 19, 2009, the Board of Governors of the IBP issued Resolution No. XVIII-2009-14 15 adopting the
recommendation with modifications as follows:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of
this Resolution [as] Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and
the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondents breach of Rule 12.03, Canon 12, Canon 17, Rule
18.03 and Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Diosdado B. Jimenez is hereby
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months. The Warning imposed against respondent is hereby
deleted.
Respondent sought reconsideration of the resolution but his motion was denied in IBP Resolution No. XIX2011-480 dated June 26, 2011.16 The IBP Board of Governors noted that respondents motion was a mere
reiteration of matters already discussed and there were no substantial grounds to disturb the February 19, 2009
Resolution.
Respondent now comes to this Court essentially raising the issue whether the IBP correctly found him
administratively liable for violation of Rule 12.03, Canon 12, Canon 17, Rule 18.03, and Canon 18 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility.
After careful consideration of the records of the case, the Court finds that the suspension of respondent from the
practice of law is proper.
The Court finds no merit in respondents contention that complainants have no personality to file a disbarment
case against him as they were not his clients and that the present suit was merely instituted to harass him.
The procedural requirement observed in ordinary civil proceedings that only the real party-in-interest must
initiate the suit does not apply in disbarment cases. In fact, the person who called the attention of the court to a
lawyers misconduct "is in no sense a party, and generally has no interest in the outcome."17
In Heck v. Judge Santos,18 the Court held that "[a]ny interested person or the court motu proprio may initiate
disciplinary proceedings." The right to institute disbarment proceedings is not confined to clients nor is it

necessary that the person complaining suffered injury from the alleged wrongdoing. Disbarment proceedings
are matters of public interest and the only basis for the judgment is the proof or failure of proof of the charges.
The Court agrees with the IBP that respondent had been remiss in the performance of his duties as counsel for
Congressional Village Homeowners Association, Inc. Records show that respondent filed the first motion for
extension of time to file appellants brief 95 days after the expiration of the reglementary period to file said
brief, thus causing the dismissal of the appeal of the homeowners association. To justify his inexcusable
negligence, respondent alleges that he was merely the supervising lawyer and that the fault lies with the
handling lawyer. His contention, however, is belied by the records for we note that respondent had filed with the
CA an Urgent Motion for Extension, which he himself signed on behalf of the law firm, stating that a previous
motion had been filed but "due to the health condition of the undersigned counselhe was not able to finish
said Appellants Brief within the fifteen (15) day period earlier requested by him." 19 Thus, it is clear that
respondent was personally in charge of the case.
A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latters interest with
utmost diligence. In failing to file the appellants brief on behalf of his client, respondent had fallen far short of
his duties as counsel as set forth in Rule 12.04, 20 Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which
exhorts every member of the Bar not to unduly delay a case and to exert every effort and consider it his duty to
assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the same Code also states
that:
Canon 18A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.
Rule 18.03.A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.
In In Re: Atty. Santiago F. Marcos21 the Court considered a lawyers failure to file brief for his client as
amounting to inexcusable negligence. The Court held:
An attorney is bound to protect his clients interest to the best of his ability and with utmost
diligence.1wphi1 (Del Rosario vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 159) A failure to file brief for his client
certainly constitutes inexcusable negligence on his part. (People vs. Villar, 46 SCRA 107) The respondent has
indeed committed a serious lapse in the duty owed by him to his client as well as to the Court not to delay
litigation and to aid in the speedy administration of justice. (Canons 21 and 22, Canons of Professional Ethics;
People vs. Daban, 43 SCRA 185; People vs. Estocada, 43 SCRA 515).
It has been stressed that the determination of whether an attorney should be disbarred or merely suspended for a
period involves the exercise of sound judicial discretion. 22 The penalties for a lawyers failure to file a brief or
other pleading range from reprimand,23 warning with fine,24 suspension25 and, in grave cases, disbarment.26 In
the present case, we find too harsh the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for a period of six months. Under the circumstances, we deem the penalty of
suspension for one month from the practice of law to be more commensurate with the extent of respondents
violation.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Atty. Diosdado B. Jimenez is found administratively liable for
violation of Rule 12.04, Canon 12 and Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is
suspended from the practice of law for one (1) month effective from finality of this Resolution, with warning
that a repetition of the same or similar violation shall be dealt with more severely.
Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished, upon its finality, to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all the
courts in the Philippines, and spread on the personal record of respondent lawyer in the Office of the Bar
Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines.
SO ORDERED.

ATTY.
POLICARIO
I.
vs.
ATTY. JOSELITO M. SILVOSA, Respondent.

CATALAN,

JR., Complainant,

DECISION
PER CURIAM:
This is a complaint filed by Atty. Policarpio I. Catalan, Jr. (Atty. Catalan) against Atty. Joselito M. Silvosa (Atty.
Silvosa). Atty. Catalan has three causes of action against Atty. Silvosa; (1) Atty. Silvosa appeared as counsel for
the accused in the same case for which he previously appeared as prosecutor; (2) Atty. Silvosa bribed his then
colleague Prosecutor Phoebe Toribio (Pros.Toribio) for P30,000; and (3) the Sandiganbayan convicted Atty.
Silvosa in Criminal Case No. 27776 for direct bribery. Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commissioner
for Bar Discipline Dennis A.B. Funa (Comm. Funa) held Atty. Silvosa liable only for the first cause of action
and recommended the penalty of reprimand. The Board of Governors of the IBP twice modified Comm. Funas
recommendation: first, to a suspension of six months, then to a suspension of two years.
Atty. Silvosa was an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Bukidnon and a Prosecutor in Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 10, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. Atty. Silvosa appeared as public prosecutor in Criminal Case
No. 10256-00, "People of the Philippines v. SPO2 Elmor Esperon y Murillo, et al." (Esperon case), for the
complex crime of double frustrated murder, in which case Atty. Catalan was one of the private complainants.
Atty. Catalan took issue with Atty. Silvosas manner of prosecuting the case, and requested the Provincial
Prosecutor to relieve Atty. Silvosa.
In his first cause of action, Atty. Catalan accused Atty. Silvosa of appearing as private counsel in a case where
he previously appeared as public prosecutor, hence violating Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.1Atty. Catalan also alleged that, apart from the fact that Atty. Silvosa and the accused are relatives
and have the same middle name, Atty. Silvosa displayed manifest bias in the accuseds favor. Atty. Silvosa
caused numerous delays in the trial of the Esperon case by arguing against the position of the private prosecutor.
In 2000, Provincial Prosecutor Guillermo Ching granted Atty. Catalans request to relieve Atty. Silvosa from
handling the Esperon case. The RTC rendered judgment convicting the accused on 16 November 2005. On 23
November 2005, Atty. Silvosa, as private lawyer and as counsel for the accused, filed a motion to reinstate bail
pending finality of judgment of the Esperon case.
In his second cause of action, Atty. Catalan presented the affidavit of Pros. Toribio. In a case for frustrated
murder where Atty. Catalans brother was a respondent, Pros. Toribio reviewed the findings of the investigating
judge and downgraded the offense from frustrated murder to less serious physical injuries. During the hearing
before Comm. Funa, Pros. Toribio testified that, while still a public prosecutor at the time, Atty. Silvosa offered
her P30,000 to reconsider her findings and uphold the charge of frustrated murder.
Finally, in the third cause of action, Atty. Catalan presented the Sandiganbayans decision in Criminal Case No.
27776, convicting Atty. Silvosa of direct bribery on 18 May 2006. Nilo Lanticse (Lanticse) filed a complaint
against Atty. Silvosa before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Despite the execution of an affidavit of
desistance by the complainant in a homicide case in favor of Lanticses father-in-law, Arsenio Cadinas
(Cadinas), Cadinas still remained in detention for more than two years. Atty. Silvosa demanded P15,000 from
Lanticse for the dismissal of the case and for the release of Cadinas. The NBI set up an entrapment operation for
Atty. Silvosa. GMA 7s television program Imbestigador videotaped and aired the actual entrapment operation.
The footage was offered and admitted as evidence, and viewed by the Sandiganbayan. Despite Atty. Silvosas
defense of instigation, the Sandiganbayan convicted Atty. Silvosa. The dispositive portion of Criminal Case No.
27776 reads:
WHEREFORE, this court finds JOSELITO M. SILVOSA GUILTY, beyond reasonable doubt, of the crime of
direct bribery and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of:

(A) Imprisonment of, after applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, one year, one month and eleven
days of prision correccional, as minimum, up to three years, six months and twenty days of prision
correccional, as maximum;
(B) Fine of TEN THOUSAND PESOS (Php 10,000.00), with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency; and
(C) All other accessory penalties provided for under the law.
SO ORDERED.2
In his defense, on the first cause of action, Atty. Silvosa states that he resigned as prosecutor from the Esperon
case on 18 October 2002. The trial court released its decision in the Esperon case on 16 November 2005 and
cancelled the accuseds bail. Atty. Silvosa claims that his appearance was only for the purpose of the
reinstatement of bail. Atty. Silvosa also denies any relationship between himself and the accused.
On the second cause of action, Atty. Silvosa dismisses Pros. Toribios allegations as "self-serving" and
"purposely dug by [Atty. Catalan] and his puppeteer to pursue persecution."
On the third cause of action, while Atty. Silvosa admits his conviction by the Sandiganbayan and is under
probation, he asserts that "conviction under the 2nd paragraph of Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code, do
[sic] not involve moral turpitude since the act involved do [sic] not amount to a crime." He further claims that
"it is not the lawyer in respondent that was convicted, but his capacity as a public officer, the charge against
respondent for which he was convicted falling under the category of crimes against public officers x x x."
In a Report and Recommendation dated 15 September 2008, Comm. Funa found that:
As for the first charge, the wordings and prohibition in Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility [are] quite clear. [Atty. Silvosa] did intervene in Criminal Case No. 10246-00. [Atty. Silvosas]
attempt to minimize his role in said case would be unavailing. The fact is that he is presumed to have acquainted
himself with the facts of said case and has made himself familiar with the parties of the case. Such would
constitute sufficient intervention in the case. The fact that, subsequently, [Atty. Silvosa] entered his appearance
in said case only to file a Motion to
Post Bail Bond Pending Appeal would still constitute a violation of Rule 6.03 as such act is sufficient to
establish a lawyer-client relation.
As for the second charge, there is certain difficulty to dissect a claim of bribery that occurred more than seven
(7) years ago. In this instance, the conflicting allegations are merely based on the word of one person against the
word of another. With [Atty. Silvosas] vehement denial, the accusation of witness [Pros.] Toribio stands alone
unsubstantiated. Moreover, we take note that the alleged incident occurred more than seven (7) years ago or in
1999, [l]ong before this disbarment case was filed on November 2006. Such a long period of time would
undoubtedly cast doubt on the veracity of the allegation. Even the existence of the bribe money could not be
ascertained and verified with certainty anymore.
As to the third charge, [Atty. Silvosa] correctly points out that herein complainant has no personal knowledge
about the charge of extortion for which [Atty. Silvosa] was convicted by the Sandiganbayan. [Atty. Catalan] was
not a party in said case nor was he ever involved in said case. The findings of the Sandiganbayan are not
binding upon this Commission. The findings in a criminal proceeding are not binding in a disbarment
proceeding. No evidence has been presented relating to the alleged extortion case.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is submitted that [Atty. Silvosa] is GUILTY only of the First Charge in violating
Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and should be given the penalty of REPRIMAND.
Respectfully submitted.3

In a Resolution dated 9 October 2008, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved with modification the
Report and Recommendation of Comm. Funa and suspended Atty. Silvosa from the practice of law for six
months. In another Resolution dated 28 October 2011, the IBP Board of Governors increased the penalty of
Atty. Silvosas suspension from the practice of law to two years. The Office of the Bar Confidant received the
notice of the Resolution and the records of the case on 1 March 2012.
We sustain the findings of the IBP only in the first cause of action and modify its recommendations in the
second and third causes of action.
Atty. Catalan relies on Rule 6.03 which states that "A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept
engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service."
Atty. Silvosa, on the hand, relies on Rule 2.01 which provides that "A lawyer shall not reject, except for valid
reasons the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed" and on Canon 14 which provides that "A lawyer shall not
refuse his services to the needy."
We agree with Comm. Funas finding that Atty. Silvosa violated Rule 6.03. When he entered his appearance on
the Motion to Post Bail Bond Pending Appeal, Atty. Silvosa conveniently forgot Rule 15.03 which provides that
"A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of facts."
Atty. Silvosas attempts to minimize his involvement in the same case on two occasions can only be described
as desperate. He claims his participation as public prosecutor was only to appear in the arraignment and in the
pre-trial conference. He likewise claims his subsequent participation as collaborating counsel was limited only
to the reinstatement of the original bail. Atty. Silvosa will do well to take heed of our ruling in Hilado v. David:4
An attorney is employed that is, he is engaged in his professional capacity as a lawyer or counselor when
he is listening to his clients preliminary statement of his case, or when he is giving advice thereon, just as truly
as when he is drawing his clients pleadings, or advocating his clients pleadings, or advocating his clients
cause in open court.
xxxx
Hence the necessity of setting down the existence of the bare relationship of attorney and client as the yardstick
for testing incompatibility of interests. This stern rule is designed not alone to prevent the dishonest practitioner
from fraudulent conduct, but as well to protect the honest lawyer from unfounded suspicion of unprofessional
practice. It is founded on principles of public policy, on good taste. As has been said in another case, the
question is not necessarily one of the rights of the parties, but as to whether the attorney has adhered to proper
professional standard. With these thoughts in mind, it behooves attorneys, like Caesars wife, not only to keep
inviolate the clients confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing. Only thus
can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their attorneys which is of paramount importance in the
administration of justice.
Indeed, the prohibition against representation of conflicting interests applies although the attorneys intentions
were honest and he acted in good faith.5
Atty. Silvosa denies Pros. Toribios accusation of bribery and casts doubt on its veracity by emphasizing the
delay in presenting a complaint before the IBP. Comm. Funa, by stating that there is difficulty in ascertaining
the veracity of the facts with certainty, in effect agreed with Atty. Silvosa. Contrary to Comm. Funas ruling,
however, the records show that Atty. Silvosa made an attempt to bribe Pros. Toribio and failed. Pros. Toribio
executed her affidavit on 14 June 1999, a day after the failed bribery attempt, and had it notarized by Atty.
Nemesio Beltran, then President of the IBP-Bukidnon Chapter. There was no reason for Pros. Toribio to make
false testimonies against Atty. Silvosa. Atty. Silvosa, on the other hand, merely denied the accusation and
dismissed it as persecution. When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he
denies the charges against him. He must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him. He must show

proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is expected of him. 6 Atty.
Silvosa failed in this respect.
Unfortunately for Atty. Silvosa, mere delay in the filing of an administrative complaint against a member of the
bar does not automatically exonerate a respondent. Administrative offenses do not prescribe. No matter how
much time has elapsed from the time of the commission of the act complained of and the time of the institution
of the complaint, erring members of the bench and bar cannot escape the disciplining arm of the Court.7
We disagree with Comm. Funas ruling that the findings in a criminal proceeding are not binding in a
disbarment proceeding.
First, disbarment proceedings may be initiated by any interested person. There can be no doubt of the right of a
citizen to bring to the attention of the proper authority acts and doings of public officers which a citizen feels
are incompatible with the duties of the office and from which conduct the public might or does suffer
undesirable consequences.8 Section 1, Rule 139-B reads:
Section 1. How Instituted. Proceedings for the disbarment, suspension, or discipline of attorneys may be taken
by the Supreme Court motu proprio, or by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) upon the verified
complaint of any person. The complaint shall state clearly and concisely the facts complained of and shall be
supported by affidavits of persons having personal knowledge of the facts therein alleged and/or by such
documents as may substantiate said facts.
The IBP Board of Governors may, motu proprio or upon referral by the Supreme Court or by a Chapter Board
of Officers, or at the instance of any person, initiate and prosecute proper charges against erring attorneys
including those in government service.
xxxx
It is of no moment that Atty. Catalan is not the complainant in Criminal Case No. 27776, and that Lanticse, the
complainant therein, was not presented as a witness in the present case. There is no doubt that the
Sandiganbayans judgment in Criminal Case No. 27776 is a matter of public record and is already final. Atty.
Catalan supported his allegation by submitting documentary evidence of the Sandiganbayans decision in
Criminal Case No. 27776. Atty. Silvosa himself admitted, against his interest, that he is under probation.
Second, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude is a ground for disbarment. Moral turpitude is defined
as an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes to his fellow men, or to
society in general, contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.9 Section 27, Rule 138 provides:
Section 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court; grounds therefor. A member of the
bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction
of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before
admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or
willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases
at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
(Emphasis supplied)
In a disbarment case, this Court will no longer review a final judgment of conviction.10
Third, the crime of direct bribery is a crime involving moral turpitude. In Magno v. COMELEC,11
we ruled:
By applying for probation, petitioner in effect admitted all the elements of the crime of direct bribery:

1. the offender is a public officer;


2. the offender accepts an offer or promise or receives a gift or present by himself or through another;
3. such offer or promise be accepted or gift or present be received by the public officer with a view to
committing some crime, or in consideration of the execution of an act which does not constitute a crime
but the act must be unjust, or to refrain from doing something which it is his official duty to do; and
4. the act which the offender agrees to perform or which he executes is connected with the performance
of his official duties.
Moral turpitude can be inferred from the third element. The fact that the offender agrees to accept a promise or
gift and deliberately commits an unjust act or refrains from performing an official duty in exchange for some
favors, denotes a malicious intent on the part of the offender to renege on the duties which he owes his
fellowmen and society in general. Also, the fact that the offender takes advantage of his office and position is a
betrayal of the trust reposed on him by the public. It is a conduct clearly contrary to the accepted rules of right
and duty, justice, honesty and good morals. In all respects, direct bribery is a crime involving moral turpitude.
(Italicization in the original)
Atty. Silvosas representation of conflicting interests and his failed attempt at bribing Pros. Toribio merit at least
the penalty of suspension.1wphi1 Atty. Silvosas final conviction of the crime of direct bribery clearly falls
under one of the grounds for disbarment under Section 27 of Rule 138. Disbarment follows as a consequence of
Atty. Silvosas conviction of the crime. We are constrained to impose a penalty more severe than suspension
because we find that Atty. Silvosa is predisposed to flout the exacting standards of morality and decency
required of a member of the Bar. His excuse that his conviction was not in his capacity as a lawyer, but as a
public officer, is unacceptable and betrays the unmistakable lack of integrity in his character. The practice of
law is a privilege, and Atty. Silvosa has proved himself unfit to exercise this privilege.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Joselito M. Silvosa is hereby DISBARRED and his name ORDERED
STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar
Confidant, to be appended to respondents personal record as attorney. Likewise, copies shall be furnished to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to the Office of the Court Administration for circulation to all courts in the
country.
SO ORDERED.

OFFICE
OF THE
ADMINISTRATOR,

COURT

A. C. No. 5355

Petitioner,

- versus -

ATTY. DANIEL B. LIANGCO,


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

Per Curiam:
The Case

This is an administrative Complaint for Disbarment filed by the Office of the Court Administrator
(OCA) against respondent Atty. Daniel B. Liangco.
In a per curiam En Banc Resolution in Gozun v. Hon. Liangco,[1] dated 30 August 2000, this Court
ordered the dismissal from service of respondent as judge of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of San Fernando,
Pampanga and as acting judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Mexico-San Luis, Pampanga.
His dismissal was with forfeiture of all his retirement benefits and accumulated leave credits; and with prejudice
to his reinstatement or reemployment in any branch, instrumentality or agency of the government, including
government-owned or -controlled corporations. The Court further directed the OCA to initiate disbarment
proceedings against him for misconduct as a member of the bar. Hence, this present case for resolution by the
Court.

The Facts
We quote the facts as stated in A. M. No. MTJ-97-1136,[2] as follows:

Complainant Hermogenes T. Gozun (hereinafter referred to as Gozun) was in open and adverse
possession of subject land for a period of more than thirty years. His familys house was erected
on the land. The house was made of old vintage lumber, cement, hollow blocks, G. I. sheet
roofing and other strong materials. Gozun inherited the house and lot from his parents.

The municipality of San Luis, Pampanga claimed to own the same lot.

On January 12, 1996, the Sangguniang Bayan of San Luis, Pampanga issued Resolution No. 2696, stating:

RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED that the Sangguniang Bayan of San


Luis, Pampanga do hereby consider (sic) the lot under Tax Dec. No. 114 owned by the
Municipal Government of San Luis, Pampanga, specifically the lot where Mr.
Hermogenes Gozun and family were squatting (sic) as the new site of the Rural Health
Center will rise (sic).
On May 17, 1996, the Sangguniang Bayan issued Resolution No. 34-96 to amend the correct
Resolution No. 26-96.

On May 24, 1996, Romulo M. Batu, Vice Mayor, on behalf of the Sangguniang Bayan, filed with
the MTC, San Luis, Pampanga, a petition for declaratory relief. We quote the petition:

PETITION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF

THE HONORABLE
JUDGE DANIEL LIANGCO

In behalf of the Sangguniang Bayan of San Luis, Pampanga, We would like to petition
your good office to render legal opinion on the following matters, to wit:
1. The validity of the attached Resolution.

2. The powers of the Municipal Mayor to enforce said Resolution.


3. To issue an order to the PNP to assist the Municipal Mayor in implementing said
Resolution.

These request are (sic) in connection with our plan to construct a new site for the
Rural Health Center of San Luis, Pampanga. However, the designated place thereof is
presently being squatted (sic) by a certain Mr. Hermogenes Gozun and inspite of the
official notice of Atty. Benlfre S. Galang, our Provincial Legal Officer, and personal
request of our Municipal Mayor Jovito C. Bondoc to Mr. Gozun to vacate his (sic)
premises, he continues to defy such notices and request to the detriment of the proposed
project.
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that this petition will merit your
favorable consideration and appropriate action for the sake of public interest.

On the very same day, May 24, 1996, respondent judge issued a resolution, reasoning: First,
the municipality of San Luis, Pampanga through its Sangguniang Bayan may enact resolutions
and ordinances to regulate the use of property within its jurisdiction. Second, Resolution No. 3496 is not contrary to law, morals and public policy. Third, the municipal mayor through an
executive order may order the Philippine National Police or any government law enforcement
agency to enforce or implement the resolution, using reasonable force if necessary and
justified. Fourth, squatting in government property is considered a nuisance per se. Respondent
judge ruled:

With the issuance by the Municipal Mayor of an executive order, the


municipality of San Luis may order the Philippine National Police (PNP)
stationed in San Luis, Pampanga to effect the eviction of Hermogenes Gozun and
all other persons who may be claiming any right under him from Lot No. 114
covered by tax Declaration No. 6030 (underscoring ours).
Again, on the same day, March 24, 1996, the municipal mayor, Jovito C. Bondoc, pursuant to
the aforequoted resolution, issued Executive Order No. 1, series of 1996, ordering the PNP to
implement Resolution No. 34-96.

Note that complainant Gozun was not served with summons or given notice of the petition
for declaratory relief.

On June 2, 1996, complainant Gozun learned about the resolution.

On June 3, 1996, complainant Gozuns wife together with other public school teachers went
to the office of the respondent judge. When asked about the resolution, respondent judge
answered, Ing Apung Guinu yu y Mayor Bondoc at kaya ko makisabi (Your God is Mayor
Bondoc and you should talk to him).

On August 8, 1996, agents of the municipal government demolished complainant Gozuns


house, using respondent judges resolution and the mayors executive order as basis.

On December 18, 1996, complainant Gozun filed this administrative complaint with the
Office of the Court Administrator. He averred that respondent judges issuance of the resolution
amounts to gross misconduct, gross inefficiency and incompetence. Complainant Gozun further
accused the municipal mayor of having bribed respondent judge. Mayor Bondoc told
complainant Gozun that the respondent judge is in his pocketbecause he (Mayor Bondoc) has
given him (respondent judge) a lot of things (dacal naku a regalo kaya).

On January 20, 1997, the Office of the Court Administrator submitted the petition to this
Court for its consideration, recommending that the complaint be given due course.

On March 21, 1997, the Court resolved to require respondent judge to comment thereon,
within ten (10) days from notice.

On May 15, 1997, respondent judge submitted his comment, denying the charges and urging
that the case be dismissed.

On June 23, 1997, we referred the case back to the Office of the Court Administrator for
evaluation, report and recommendation.

On April 13, 2000, after investigation, Court Administrator Alfredo L. Benipayo submitted a
memorandum, recommending the dismissal from office of respondent judge.[3]
A.M. No. MTJ-97-1136
Dismissal of Respondent from the Bench

The OCA Resolution was forwarded to this Court for evaluation and action and docketed as A.M. No. MTJ-971136. On 30 August, 2000, the Court En Banc promulgated a per curiam Resolution adopting the report and
recommendation of the Court Administrator. It ruled that respondent had blatantly ignored the basic rules of fair
play, in addition to acting without jurisdiction in entertaining a Petition for Declaratory Relief despite his being
a judge of a first-level court.[4] The Court also pointed out that his ruling on the said Petition resulted in the
demolition of the house of complainant Gozun, thus rendering his family homeless. [5] It described respondents

acts as biased and maleficent and ruled that those acts merited the punishment of dismissal from the service,
[6]
viz:

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court hereby orders the DISMISSAL of respondent Judge
Daniel B. Liangco, Municipal Trial Judge, Municipal Trial Court, San Fernando,
Pampanga, and Acting Judge Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), Mexico-San Luis,
Pampanga, from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and accumulated
leave credits, if any, and with prejudice to reinstatement or reemployment in any branch,
instrumentality or agency of the Government, including government-owned or controlled
corporations.

The Court directs the Court Administrator to initiate disbarment proceedings against
respondent Judge for misconduct as a member of the bar within thirty (30) days from
finality of his decision.

This decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.[7]

A.C. No. 5355


Disbarment
On 10 November 2000, the OCA filed a Complaint for Disbarment against respondent. [8] In its Complaint dated
06 November 2000, docketed as Administrative Case No. (A.C.) 5355, the OCA charged him with gross
misconduct for acting with manifest bias and partiality towards a party, as well as for inexcusable ignorance of
well-established rules of procedure that challenged his competence to remain a member of the legal profession.
Thus, it prayed that he be disbarred, and that his name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.[9]

On 28 November 2000, the Court En Banc promulgated a Resolution requiring respondent to file his Comment
on the Complaint for Disbarment against him.[10] On 01 June 2001, he filed his Comment on/Answer to
Complaint for Disbarment,[11] appealing for understanding and asking that the Court allow him to continue
practicing as a lawyer. He reasoned that when he acted on the Petition for Declaratory Relief filed by
the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of San Luis, Pampanga, he was merely rendering a legal opinion
honestly and in good faith;[12] and that his actions were not attended by malice, bad faith or any other ulterior
motive.[13] He further pleads for compassion from this Court and for permission to remain a member of the bar,
because the practice of law is his only means of livelihood to support his family.[14]

On 07 August 2001, the Court En Banc noted the submission of respondent and referred the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation within ninety (90) days
from receipt of the records of the case.[15]

IBPs Report and Recommendation

The IBP held a series of hearings on the disbarment case with respondents participation. On 03 October 2003,
the investigating commissioner issued her Report and Recommendation [16] finding justification for the
disbarment of respondent and recommending that his name be struck off the Roll of Attorneys. The
investigating commissioner found that, based on the facts of the case, there was clear, convincing and
satisfactory evidence to warrant the disbarment of respondent. [17] She observed that he had exhibited lapses, as
well as ignorance of well-established rules and procedures. She also observed that the present Complaint was
not the first of its kind to be filed against him. She further noted that before his dismissal from the judiciary,
respondent was suspended for six (6) months when he assigned to his court, without a raffle, fifty-four (54)
cases for violation of Presidential Decree No. 1602 a violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 7 dated 23
September 1974. Also, pending with the Supreme Court were three (3) administrative cases filed against him for
dishonesty, gross ignorance of the law, and direct bribery. In the bribery case, he was caught by the National
Bureau of Investigation in an entrapment operation.[18]

On 30 January 2009, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration [19] of the Report and Recommendation of
the IBP. He alleged that the evidence presented in the proceedings for his dismissal as judge was the same as
that which was used in the disbarment case against him. Thus, because he did not have the chance to crossexamine the witnesses, he claimed to have been deprived of due process. [20] In addition, respondent emphasized
the submission by Gozun of an Affidavit of Desistance from the Complaint the latter had originally filed against
him and contended that the case should have been dismissed.[21] Lastly, respondent averred that he had
endeavored to improve himself as a devout Catholic by joining religious organizations. He also impressed upon
the IBP his effort to improve on his knowledge of the law by attending Mandatory Continuing Legal Education
(MCLE).[22]

On 12 May 2009, respondent filed a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration [23] wherein he implored
the IBP to take a second look at his case. He emphasized the submission by Gozun of an Affidavit of Desistance
and the fact that the former had already suffered the supreme penalty of dismissal as MTC judge. [24] Respondent
also reiterated the grounds already stated in his first Motion for Reconsideration.

On 09 October 2008, the IBP board of governors passed Resolution No. XVIII-2008-525, [25] which
adopted the Report and Recommendation of the investigating commissioner, who found that respondent had
acted with manifest bias and partiality in favor of a party-litigant and shown inexcusable ignorance of the Rules
of Procedure. The Resolution likewise adopted the recommendation to disbar respondent.
On 30 June 2011, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline transmitted the case records of A. C. No. 5355
to this Court, which noted it on 16 August 2011.[26]

The Courts Ruling

The Court affirms in toto the findings and recommendations of the IBP.

The evidence on record overwhelmingly supports the finding that respondent is guilty of gross
misconduct and inexcusable ignorance of well-established rules of procedures.

Gross Misconduct

In Sps. Donato v. Atty. Asuncion, Jr.[27] citing Yap v. Judge Aquilino A. Inopiquez, Jr.,[28] this Court
explained the concept of gross misconduct as any inexcusable, shameful or flagrant unlawful conduct on the
part of a person concerned with the administration of justice; i.e., conduct prejudicial to the rights of the parties
or to the right determination of the cause. The motive behind this conduct is generally a premeditated, obstinate
or intentional purpose.

In the case at bar, respondent acted upon the Petition for Declaratory Relief filed by the Sangguniang
Bayan of San Luis, Pampanga, without the mandatory notice to Gozun who would be affected by the action.
The records show that respondent, upon receipt of the Petition, had it docketed in his court, designated Gozun
as respondent in the case title, and quickly disposed of the matter by issuing a Resolution all on the same day
that the Petition was filed without notice and hearing. Respondent admitted that, to his mind, he was merely
rendering a legal opinion at the local governments behest, which he gladly and expeditiously obliged. Without
denying this fact in his Comment, he admitted that he had erred in acting upon the Petition, but emphasized that
his actions were not attended by malice or bad faith.[29]

We find his statements hard to believe.

The undue haste with which respondent acted on the Petition negates good faith on his part. Moreover,
the testimonial evidence on record indicates that he maintained close relations with the municipal vice-mayor of
San Luis, Pampanga, a party-litigant who had an obvious interest in the outcome of the case. The testimony of
Romulo A. Batu, former vice-mayor of San Luis, Pampanga, showed that respondent denigrated his impartiality
as a judge is as follows:

COMM. SANSANO:

You dont remember therefore that at any time at all you were with the mayor in going to
see the respondent?

WITNESS: (Mr. Batu)

I do not know any instance that the mayor visited the respondent, Your Honor. I do not
know any instance that I was with him.

COMM. SANSANO:

But other than the occasion of the filing of this request there were times when you went
to see the respondent also in his office?

WITNESS:

There was no other visit, Your Honor.

COMM. SANSANO:

So May 24, 1996 was the first time you went to see him in his office?

WITNESS:

Before that, Your Honor, nagpupunta na kami doon kung minsan may nagpapatulong na
mga may kaso.

COMM. SANSANO:

Yon ang tanong ko kanina sa iyo kung bago May 24 pumupunta ka na sa opisina niyang
datihan?

WITNESS:

Yes, Your Honor. [30]

The testimony of respondents own witness clearly showed his wanton disregard of Canon 1, Sections 4 and 5 of
the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, which requires the observance of judicial
independence and its protection from undue influence, whether from private or from public interests.[31]
In Edao v. Judge Asdala,[32] we explained the rationale behind this imposition:
As the visible representation of the law and justice, judges, such as the respondent, are
expected to conduct themselves in a manner that would enhance the respect and confidence of
the people in the judicial system. The New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary
mandates that judges must not only maintain their independence, integrity and impartiality; but
they must also avoid any appearance of impropriety or partiality, which may erode the peoples
faith in the judiciary. Integrity and impartiality, as well as the appearance thereof, are deemed
essential not just in the proper discharge of judicial office, but also to the personal demeanor of
judges. This standard applies not only to the decision itself, but also to the process by which the
decision is made. Section 1, Canon 2, specifically mandates judges to ensure that not only is their
conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of reasonable
observers.Clearly, it is of vital importance not only that independence, integrity and impartiality
have been observed by judges and reflected in their decisions, but that these must also appear to
have been so observed in the eyes of the people, so as to avoid any erosion of faith in the justice
system. Thus, judges must be circumspect in their actions in order to avoid doubt and suspicion
in the dispensation of justice. To further emphasize its importance, Section 2, Canon 2 states:

Sec. 2. The behavior and conduct of judges must reaffirm the peoples faith in the
integrity of the judiciary. Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen to
be done.

As early as June 6, 2003, OCA Circular No. 70-2003 has directed judges as follows:

In view of the increasing number of reports reaching the Office of the


Court Administrator that judges have been meeting with party litigants inside their
chambers, judges are hereby cautioned to avoid in-chambers sessions without the
other party and his counsel present, and to observe prudence at all times in their
conduct to the end that they only act impartially and with propriety but are also
perceived to be impartial and proper.

Impartiality is essential to the proper discharge of the judicial office. It applies not only to the
decision itself but also to the process by which the decision is made. As such, judges must ensure
that their conduct, both in and out of the court, maintains and enhances the confidence of the
public, the legal profession and litigants in the impartiality of the judge and of the judiciary. In
the same vein, the Code of Judicial Conduct behooves all judges to avoid impropriety and the
appearance of impropriety in all their activities, as such is essential to the performance of all the
activities of a judge in order to maintain the trust and respect of the people in the judiciary.

Also relevant is Canon 3, particularly Section 2 of the new code, which exhorts judges not only to be impartial
in deciding the cases before them, but also to project the image of impartiality.[33] Unfortunately, as shown by
the facts of the case, these rules were not properly observed by respondent as a judge of a first-level court.

Inexcusable Ignorance of the Law

We are appalled by respondents ignorance of the basic rules of procedure. His wanton use of court
processes in this case without regard for the repercussions on the rights and property of others clearly shows his
unfitness to remain a member of the bar.

A cursory look at the Resolution dated 24 May 1996 issued by respondent would prompt an ordinary
person to conclude that an action in the form of a Petition for Declaratory Relief was indeed filed, because it
bears the name and the branch of the court of law that issued it. It had a docket number and the names of the
parties involved. The Resolution even states the justiciable question to be resolved and accordingly makes a
judicial determination thereof. In reality, though, there was no notice sent to Gozun, the named respondent in
the Petition; nor was a hearing held to thresh out the issues involved. As far as respondent was concerned, he
simply issued a legal opinion, but one with all the hallmarks of a valid issuance by a court of law, despite the
absence of mandatory processes such as notice especially to Gozun and hearing. Even this excuse is
unacceptable. Judges do not, and are not allowed, to issue legal opinions. Their opinions are always in the
context of judicial decisions, or concurring and dissenting opinions in the case of collegiate courts, and always
in the context of contested proceedings.

What is most unfortunate is that the Sanguniang Bayan, relying on the Resolution respondent issued,
caused the demolition of the house of Gozun and his family, who were thus ejected from the property they had

been occupying for decades. In effect, Gozun was deprived of his property without due process. To us, this is
precisely the injustice that members of the bench and the bar are sworn to guard against. Regrettably,
respondent as judge was even instrumental in its commission. When his liability for his act was invoked, he
casually justifies them as honest mistakes not attended by malice or bad faith. His justification is unacceptable
to us.

As a member of the bar and former judge, respondent is expected to be well-versed in the Rules of
Procedure. This expectation is imposed upon members of the legal profession, because membership in the bar is
in the category of a mandate for public service of the highest order. Lawyers are oath-bound servants of society
whose conduct is clearly circumscribed by inflexible norms of law and ethics, and whose primary duty is the
advancement of the quest for truth and justice, for which they have sworn to be fearless crusaders.[34]
As judge of a first-level court, respondent is expected to know that he has no jurisdiction to entertain a
petition for declaratory relief. Moreover, he is presumed to know that in his capacity as judge, he cannot render
a legal opinion in the absence of a justiciable question. Displaying an utter lack of familiarity with the rules, he
in effect erodes the publics confidence in the competence of our courts. Moreover, he demonstrates his
ignorance of the power and responsibility that attach to the processes and issuances of a judge, and that he as a
member of the bar should know.

Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that a lawyer must uphold the Constitution
and promote respect for the legal processes.[35] Contrary to this edict, respondent malevolently violated the basic
constitutional right of Gozun not to be deprived of a right or property without due process of law.

Under Canon 10, Rule 10.03, respondent as lawyer is mandated to observe the Rules of Procedure and
not to misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. [36] In this case, however, the opposite happened. Respondent
recklessly used the powers of the court to inflict injustice.

Should the misconduct of respondent as judge also warrant his disbarment from the legal profession? We
answer in the affirmative.

In Collantes v. Renomeron,[37] we ruled therein that the misconduct of the respondent therein as a public
official also constituted a violation of his oath as a lawyer:

As the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro said:

"A person takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar which is designed to impress
upon him his responsibilities. He thereby becomes an officer of the court on whose
shoulders rest the grave responsibility of assisting the courts in the proper, fair, speedy
and efficient administration of justice. As an officer of the court he is subject to a rigid
discipline that demands that in his every exertion the only criterion be that truth and
justice triumph. This discipline is what has given the law profession its nobility, its
prestige, its exalted place. From a lawyer, to paraphrase Justice Felix Frankfurter, are
expected those qualities of truth-speaking, a high sense of honor, full candor, intellectual
honesty, and the strictest observance of fiduciary responsibility - all of which, throughout
the centuries, have been compendiously described as 'moral character.'

xxx xxx xxx

"A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice
law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit
of the legal profession." (Rule 7.03, Code of Professional Responsibility.)

This Court has ordered that only those who are "competent, honorable, and reliable" may
practice the profession of law (Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293) for every lawyer must pursue
"only the highest standards in the practice of his calling" (Court Administrator vs. Hermoso, 150
SCRA 269, 278).
Recently, in Samson v. Judge Caballero,[38] we ruled that because membership in the bar is an integral
qualification for membership in the bench, the moral fitness of a judge also reflects the latters moral fitness as a
lawyer. A judge who disobeys the basic rules of judicial conduct also violates the lawyers oath.

We note that on 25 August 2011, respondent filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing
Resolution No. XVIII-2008-525 dated 09 October 2008 promulgated by the IBP board of governors, which
adopted and approved the findings of the investigating commissioner recommending his disbarment.
Respondent alleged therein that he had served as assistant provincial prosecutor in the Office of the Provincial
Prosecutor of Pampanga for thirteen (13) years prior to his dismissal as MTC judge of San Luis, Pampanga and
as acting MCTC judge of Mexico-San Luis, Pampanga. He also complains that he was deprived of due process
by the IBP board of governors when it approved and adopted the findings of the investigating commissioner
recommending his disbarment; and he prays for a second look at his case, considering the withdrawal of the
Complaint originally filed by Gozun.

In the light of our ruling in this case, we can no longer consider the undocketed Petition for Review on
Certiorari filed by respondent. In the first place, such kind of petition is not available to assail the resolution of
the IBP in an administrative case. His remedies from an adverse resolution is to seek a reconsideration of the
same, and when denied, to raise the same defenses against administrative liability before this Court. He has
availed of both remedies in this case.

Disbarment proceedings are sui generis. As such, they render the underlying motives of complainant
unimportant and of little relevance. The purpose of disbarment proceedings is mainly to determine the fitness of
a lawyer to continue acting as an officer of the court and as participant in the dispensation of justice an issue
which the complainants personal motives have little relevance. For this reason, upon information of an alleged
wrongdoing, the Court may initiate the disbarment proceedings motu proprio.[39]

Recently in Garrido v. Atty. Garrido,[40] we reiterated the unique characteristic of disbarment


proceedings and their purpose in this wise:

Laws dealing with double jeopardy or with procedure such as the verification of
pleadings and prejudicial questions, or in this case, prescription of offenses or the filing of
affidavits of desistance by the complainant do not apply in the determination of a lawyers
qualifications and fitness for membership in the Bar. We have so ruled in the past and we see no
reason to depart from this ruling. First, admission to the practice of law is a component of the
administration of justice and is a matter of public interest because it involves service to the
public. The admission qualifications are also qualifications for the continued enjoyment of the

privilege to practice law. Second, lack of qualifications or the violation of the standards for the
practice of law, like criminal cases, is a matter of public concern that the State may inquire into
through this Court. In this sense, the complainant in a disbarment case is not a direct party whose
interest in the outcome of the charge is wholly his or her own; effectively, his or her participation
is that of a witness who brought the matter to the attention of the Court.
Thus, despite Gozuns desistance in A.M. No. MTJ-97-1136, from whence this case originated,
respondent is not exonerated.

WHEREFORE, this Court resolves to DISBAR Atty. Daniel B. Liangco for the following offenses:

1.

GROSS MISCONDUCT in violation of Canon 1, Sections 4 and 5 of the New Code of


Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary

2.

INEXCUSABLE IGNORANCE OF THE LAW in violation of Canons 1 and 10, Rule


10.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the personal records of Atty. Daniel B. Liangco in the Office
of the Bar Confidant and another copy furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
The Bar Confidant is hereby directed to strike out the name of Daniel B. Liangco from the Roll of
Attorneys.

SO ORDERED.

DISCIPLINE OF FILIPINO LAWYERS PRACTICING ABROAD

ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ,


Complainant,

versus -

ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA,


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

A.C. No. 6697

IN THE MATTER OF THE REMOVAL OF ATTY. LEONARD


S. DE VERA FROM THE IBP BOARD OF GOVERNORS AS
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND GOVERNOR

IN THE MATTER OF THE LETTER-COMPLAINT OF ATTY.


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

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

DECISION

Per Curiam:

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

A.C. No. 6697

The Office of the Bar Confidant, which this Court tasked to make an investigation, report and
recommendation on subject case,[1] summarized the antecedents thereof as follows:

In a Complaint dated 11 April 2005, complainant Zoilo Antonio Velez moved for the
suspension and/or disbarment of respondent Atty. Leonard de Vera based on the following
grounds:

1)

respondents alleged misrepresentation in concealing the suspension


order rendered against him by the State Bar of California; and

2)

respondents alleged violation of the so-called rotation rule


enunciated in Administrative Matter No. 491 dated 06 October 1989 (in
the Matter: 1989 IBP Elections).

Complainant averred that the respondent, in appropriating for his own benefit funds due
his client, was found to have performed an act constituting moral turpitude by the Hearing
Referee Bill Dozier, Hearing Department San Francisco, State Bar of California in Administrative
Case No. 86-0-18429. Complainant alleged that the respondent was then forced to resign or
surrender his license to practice law in the said state in order to evade the recommended three (3)
year suspension. Complainant asserted that the respondent lacks the moral competence necessary
to lead the countrys most noble profession.

Complainant, likewise, contended that the respondent violated the so-called rotation rule
provided for in Administrative Matter No. 491 when he transferred to IBP Agusan del Sur
Chapter. He claimed that the respondent failed to meet the requirements outlined in the IBP ByLaws pertaining to transfer of Chapter Membership. He surmised that the respondents transfer
was intended only for the purpose of becoming the next IBP National President. Complainant
prayed that the respondent be enjoined from assuming office as IBP National President.

Meanwhile, in his Comment dated 2 May 2005, respondent stated that the issues raised in
above-mentioned Complaint were the very issues raised in an earlier administrative case filed by
the same complainant against him. In fact, according to him, the said issues were already
extensively discussed and categorically ruled upon by this Court in its Decision dated 11
December 2005 in Administrative Case No. 6052 (In Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard De
Vera). Respondent prayed that the instant administrative complaint be dismissed following the
principle of res judicata.

On 15 June 2005, both parties appeared before the Office of the Bar Confidant for
presentation of evidence in support of their respective allegations.

Subsequently, in a Memorandum dated 20 June 2005, complainant maintained that there is


substantial evidence showing respondents moral baseness, vileness and depravity, which could be
used as a basis for his disbarment. Complainant stressed that the respondent never denied that he
used his clients money. Complainant argued that the respondent failed to present evidence that the
Supreme Court of California accepted the latters resignation and even if such was accepted,
complainant posited that this should not absolve the respondent from liability.

Moreover, complainant added that the principle of res judicata would not apply in the case
at bar. He asserted that the first administrative case filed against the respondent was one for his
disqualification. x x x.

Bar Matter No. 1227


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

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

Court with the IBPs Resolution, dated 13 May 2005, removing Atty. De Vera as member of the IBP Board and
as IBP EVP, for committing acts inimical to the IBP Board and the IBP in general.[2]

The controversy in Bar Matter No. 1227 and A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC arose from the regular meeting of the IBP
Board of Governors held on 14 January 2005. In said meeting, by 2/3 vote (6 voting in favor and 2 against), the
IBP Board approved the withdrawal of the Petition filed before this Court docketed as Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs. Senate of the Philippines, et al. Petition for Certiorari and
Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary Injunction,
SC-R165108. The Petition was intended to question the legality and/or constitutionality of Republic Act No.
9227, authorizing the increase in the salaries of judges and justices, and to increase filing fees.[3]

The two IBP Governors who opposed the said Resolution approving the withdrawal of the above-described
Petition were herein respondent Governor and EVP de Vera and Governor Carlos L. Valdez.[4]

On 19 January 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed this Court of the decision taken by the IBP Board to
withdraw the afore-mentioned Petition. Attached to his letter was a copy of the IBP Boards 14 January
2005 Resolution.[5]

On 15 April 2005, Bar Matter No. 1227, pertaining to Atty. de Veras request for oathtaking as National
President, was filed. The same was subsequently consolidated with A.C. No. 6697, the disbarment case filed
against Atty. de Vera.[6]

On 22 April 2005, a plenary session was held at the 10 th National IBP Convention at the CAPCamp John Hay Convention Center, Baguio City. It was at this forum where Atty. de Vera allegedly made some
untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies in connection with the IBP Boards Resolution to withdraw the
Petition questioning the legality of Republic Act No. 9227.[7]

On 10 May 2005, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining Atty. de Vera from
assuming office as IBP National President.[8]

On 12 May 2005, IBP Gov. Romulo A. Rivera wrote IBP National President Cadiz a letter wherein he
prayed for the removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the IBP Board for having committed acts which were
inimical to the IBP Board and the IBP.[9]

On 13 May 2005, in the 20th Regular Meeting of the Board held at the Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, the
IBP Board, by 2/3 vote, resolved to remove Atty. de Vera as member of the IBP Board of Governors and as IBP
Executive Vice President.[10] Quoted hereunder is the dispositive portion of said Resolution:

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that


Governor Leonard S. de Vera is REMOVED as a member of the IBP Board of Governors and
Executive Vice President for committing acts inimical to the IBP Board of Governors and the
IBP, to wit:

1.
For making untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies in
public about the Supreme Court and members of the IBP Board of Governors,
during the Plenary Session of the IBP 10 th National Convention of Lawyers, held
at CAP-Camp John Hay Convention Center on 22 April 2005, making it appear
that the decision of the IBP Board of Governors to withdraw the PETITION
docketed as Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs.
The Senate of the Philippines, et al., Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition With
Prayer for the Issuance of A Temporary Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary
Injunction, S.C.-R. 165108, was due to influence and pressure from the Supreme
Court of the Philippines;

2.
For making said untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies
that brought the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP as a whole in public
contempt and disrepute;

3.
For violating Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
for Lawyers which mandates that A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect
due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by
others, by making untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies during the
Plenary Session of the IBP 10thNational Convention of Lawyers in Baguio City;

4.
For instigating and provoking some IBP chapters to embarrass and
humiliate the IBP Board of Governors in order to coerce and compel the latter to
pursue the aforesaid PETITION;

5.
For falsely accusing the IBP National President, Jose Anselmo I.
Cadiz, during the Plenary Session of the 10th National Convention in Baguio City
of withholding from him a copy of Supreme Court Resolution, dated 25 January
2005, granting the withdrawal of the PETITION, thereby creating the wrong
impression that the IBP National President deliberately prevented him from taking
the appropriate remedies with respect thereto, thus compromising the reputation
and integrity of the IBP National President and the IBP as a whole.[11]

On 18 May 2005, Atty. de Vera aired his sentiments to this Court by writing the then Hon. Chief Justice
Hilario G. Davide, Jr. a letter captioned as Urgent Plea to Correct a Glaring Injustice of the IBP Board of
Governors; Vehement Protest to the Board Resolution Abruptly Removing Atty. Leonard de Vera from the
Board of Governors in Patent Violation of Due Process; Petition to Deny/Disapprove the Completely
Unjustified and Highly Arbitrary Resolution Precipitately Ousting Atty. de Vera from the Board of Governors in
Less Than Twenty Four (24) Hours from Notice and Judgment Without Formal Investigation.[12]

In the said letter, Atty. de Vera strongly and categorically denied having committed acts inimical to the IBP and
its Board. He alleged that on the basis of an unverified letter-complaint filed by IBP Governor Rivera, the IBP
Board voted to expel him posthaste, without just cause and in complete disregard of even the minimum
standards of due process. Pertinent portions of his letter read:

It is evident that the Board of Governors has committed a grave and serious injustice
against me especially when, as the incumbent Executive Vice President of the IBP, I am
scheduled to assume my position as National President of the IBP on July 1, 2005. x x x

I was denied the very basic rights of due process recognized by the Supreme Court even in
administrative cases:

1.

The denial of the right to answer the charges formally or in writing.


The complaint against me was in writing.

2.

The denial of the right to answer the charges within a reasonable


period of time after receipt of the complaint.

3.

4.

5.

The denial of the right to a fair hearing.

The denial of the right to confront the accuser and the witnesses
against me. I challenged Gov. Rivera to testify under oath so I could
question him. He refused. I offered to testify under oath so I could be
questioned. My request was denied.

The denial of my right to present witnesses on my behalf.

6.

The denial of my right to an impartial judge. Governor Rivera was


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

7.

Gov. Riveras prejudgment of my case becomes even more evident


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

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

(i)

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


resolutions from IBP Chapters to condemn the IBP Board of Governors for its decision to

withdraw the PETITION, all with the end in view of compelling or coercing the IBP
Board of Governors to reconsider the decision to withdraw the PETITION.

(ii)

Atty. de Vera embarrassed, humiliated and maligned the IBP Board of Governors
and the IBP National President in public or during the Plenary Session at the 10th National
Convention of Lawyers.

(iii)

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

(iv)

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

The IBP Board explained that Atty. de Veras actuation during the Plenary Session was the last straw that
broke the camels back. He committed acts inimical to the interest of the IBP Board and the IBP; hence, the IBP
Board decided to remove him.

On 3 June 2005, Atty. de Vera furnished the Court with copies of resolutions and a position paper
coming from various IBP Chapters all condemning his expulsion from the IBP Board and as IBP EVP.[16]

On 15 June 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed Chief Justice Davide that in a special meeting of the
IBP Board held at the EDSA Shangri-la Plaza on 13 June 2005, the IBP Board took note of the vacancy in the
position of the IBP EVP brought about by Atty. de Veras removal. In his stead, IBP Governor Pura Angelica Y.
Santiago was formally elected and declared as IBP EVP.[17]

On 17 June 2005, Atty. de Vera protested against the election of Atty. Santiago. [18] On 20 June 2005,
Atty. Santiago voluntarily relinquished the EVP position through a letter addressed to the IBP Board. [19] Thus,
on 25 June 2005, during its last regular meeting, the IBP Board elected a new EVP in the person of IBP
Governor Jose Vicente B. Salazar to replace Atty. Santiago.

On 28 June 2005, IBP National President Cadiz, through a letter addressed to Chief Justice Davide,
reported to this Court Atty. Salazars election. [20] IBP National President Cadiz also requested, among other
things, that Atty. Salazars election be approved and that he be allowed to assume as National President in the
event that Atty. de Vera is disbarred or suspended from the practice of law or should his removal from the 20032005 Board of Governors and as EVP is approved by this Court. [21] Also on 28 June 2005, Atty. de Vera
protested the election of Atty. Salazar.[22]

In his Extended Comment[23] dated 25 July 2005, Atty. de Vera maintained that there was absolutely no
factual or legal basis to sustain the motion to remove him from the IBP Board because he violated no law. He
argued that if the basis for his removal as EVP was based on the same grounds as his removal from the IBP
Board, then his removal as EVP was likewise executed without due notice and without the least compliance
with the minimum standards of due process of law.

Atty. de Vera strongly averred that, contrary to the utterly false and malicious charges filed against him,
the speakers at the Plenary Session of the Baguio Convention, although undeniably impassioned and articulate,
were respectful in their language and exhortations, not once undermining the stature of the IBP in general and
the IBP Board of Governors in particular. He posited that speaking in disagreement with the Resolution of the
Board during the Conventions Plenary Session is not a valid cause to remove or expel a duly-elected member of
the IBP Board of Governors; and the decision to remove him only shows that the right to freedom of speech or
the right to dissent is not recognized by the incumbent IBP Board.

Anent the charges that he accused the National President of withholding a copy of this Courts
Resolution granting the withdrawal of the Petition questioning the legality of Republic Act No. 9227, Atty. de
Vera avowed that he made no such remarks. As regards the election of a new IBP EVP, Atty. de Vera contended
that the said election was illegal as it was contrary to the provisions of the IBP By-Laws concerning national
officers, to wit:

Section. 49. Term of office. - The President and the Executive Vice President shall hold
office for a term of two years from July 1 following their election until 30 June of their second
year in office and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified.

In the event the President is absent or unable to act, his functions and duties shall be
performed by the Executive Vice President, and in the event of death, resignation, or removal of
the President, the Executive Vice President shall serve as Acting President for the unexpired
portion of the term. In the event of death, resignation, removal or disability of both the President
and the Executive Vice President, the Board of Governors shall elect an Acting President to hold
office for the unexpired portion of the term or during the period of disability.

Unless otherwise provided in these By-Laws, all other officers and employees appointed
by the President with the consent of the Board shall hold office at the pleasure of the Board or for
such term as the Board may fix.[24]

To bolster his position, Atty. de Vera stressed that when both the President and the EVP die, resign, are
removed, or are disabled, the IBP By-Laws only provides for the election of an Acting President and that no
mention for an election for EVP was made. Thus, when such election for EVP occurs, such is contrary to the
express provision of the IBP By-Laws.

Atty. de Vera also argued that even if he were validly removed as IBP EVP, his replacement should
come from Eastern Mindanao and not from any other region, due to the Rotation Rule embodied in par. 2,
Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws.

In response to Atty. de Veras averments, the 2003-2005 IBP Board, through its counsel, submitted a
Reply dated 27 January 2006 and clarified as follows:

(i)

The IBP Board of Governors is vested with sufficient power and authority to protect
itself from an intractable member by virtue of Article VI, Section 44 of the IBP By-Laws;

(ii)

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

(iii)

Atty. de Vera cannot exculpate himself from liability by invoking his constitutional
right to Free Speech because, as a member of the Bar, it is his sworn duty to observe and
maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and to insist on similar
conduct by others;

(iv)

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

(v)

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

(vi)

Atty. de Veras replacement as IBP EVP need not come from Eastern Mindanao
Region because: (a) the rotation rule under Article VII, Section 47, par. 2 of the IBP ByLaws had already been complied with when Atty. de Vera, who hails from Eastern
Mindanao, was elected IBP EVP; and (b) the rotation rule need not be enforced if the
same will not be practicable, possible, feasible, doable or viable; and, finally, that

(vii)

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

The Courts Ruling

AC No. 6697

In his Memorandum[26] dated 20 June 2005, complainant tendered the following issues for the
consideration of the Court:

I.

WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT ATTORNEY LEONARD S. DEVERA (sic)


COMMITED MALPRACTICE WHICH AMOUNTED TO MORAL T[U]RPITUDE IN THE
STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA AND IN THE PHILIPPINES, IN THE COURSE OF HIS
PRACTICE OF LAW.

II.

WHETHER OR NOT THE OATH OF OFFICE AS LAWYER IS ATTACHED TO THE


PERSON OF ATTORNEY LEONARD S. DEVERA (sic) WHEREVER HE MAY GO AND
NOT NECESSARILY BOUND BY THE TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION OF THE
PHILIPPINES.

III.

WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE TO PROVE THE MORAL


T[U]RPITUDE, AS BASIS FOR DISBARMENT OF RESPONDENT IN AN
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING.

IV.

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

The disposition of the first three related issues hinges on the resolution of the fourth
issue. Consequently, we will start with the last issue.

A.C. No. 6052 is not a bar to the filing of the present administrative
case.

In disposing of the question of res judicata, the Bar Confidant opined:

To reiterate, the instant case for suspension and/or disbarment against respondent Leonard
De Vera is grounded on the following:

1)

respondents alleged misrepresentation in concealing the suspension order


rendered against him by the State Bar in California; and

2)

respondents alleged violation of the so-called rotation rule enunciated in


Administrative Matter No. 491 dated 06 October 1989 (In the Matter: 1989 IBP
Elections).

It appears that the complainant already raised the said issues in an earlier administrative
case against the respondent. Verily, these issues were already argued upon by the parties in their
respective pleadings, and discussed and ruled upon by this Court in its Decision dated 11
December 2003 in Administrative Matter No. 6052 (In Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard
de Vera).

As such, with respect to the first issue, this Court held that:

As for the administrative complaint filed against him by one of his clients when he
was practicing law in California, which in turn compelled him to surrender his
California license to practice law, he maintains that it cannot serve as basis for
determining his moral qualification (or lack of it) to run for the position he is
aspiring for. He explains that there is as yet no final judgment finding him guilty of
the administrative charge, as the records relied upon by the petitioners are mere
preliminary findings of a hearing referee which are recommendatory findings of
an IBP Commissioner on Bar Discipline which are subject to the review of and the
final decision of the Supreme Court. He also stresses that the complainant in
the California administrative case has retracted the accusation that he
misappropriated the complainants money, but unfortunately the retraction was not
considered by the investigating officer. xxx

On the administrative complaint that was filed against respondent De Vera while
he was still practicing law in California, he explained that no final judgment was
rendered by the California Supreme Court finding him guilty of the charge. He
surrendered his license to protest the discrimination he suffered at the hands of the
investigator and he found it impractical to pursue the case to the end. We find
these explanations satisfactory in the absence of contrary proof. It is a basic rule
on evidence that he who alleges a fact has the burden to prove the same. In this
case, the petitioners have not shown how the administrative complaint affects
respondent De Vera's moral fitness to run for governor.

On the other hand, as regards the second issue:

Petitioners contend that respondent de Vera is disqualified for the post


because he is not really from Eastern Mindanao. His place of residence is in
Paraaque and he was originally a member of the PPLM IBP Chapter. He only
changed his IBP Chapter membership to pave the way for his ultimate goal of

attaining the highest IBP post, which is the national presidency. Petitioners aver
that in changing his IBP membership, respondent De Vera violated the domicile
rule.

The contention has no merit. Under the last paragraph of Section 19, Article II, a
lawyer included in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court can register with the
particular IBP Chapter of his preference or choice, thus:

xxx

It is clearly stated in the aforequoted section of the By-Laws that it is not


automatic that a lawyer will become a member of the chapter where his place of
residence or work is located. He has the discretion to choose the particular
chapter where he wishes to gain membership. Only when he does not register his
preference that he will become a member of the Chapter of the place where he
resides or maintains office. The only proscription in registering one's preference is
that a lawyer cannot be a member of more than one chapter at the same time.

The same is provided in Section 29-2 of the IBP By-Laws. In fact, under this
Section, transfer of IBP membership is allowed as long as the lawyer complies
with the conditions set forth therein, thus:

xxx

The only condition required under the foregoing rule is that the transfer must be
made not less than three months prior to the election of officers in the chapter to
which the lawyer wishes to transfer.

In the case at bar, respondent De Vera requested the transfer of his IBP
membership to Agusan del Sur on 1 August 2001. One month thereafter, IBP
National Secretary Jaime M. Vibar wrote a letter addressed to Atty. Amador Z.
Tolentino, Jr., Secretary of IBP PPLM Chapter and Atty. Lyndon J. Romero,
Secretary of IBP Agusan del Sur Chapter, informing them of respondent de Vera's
transfer and advising them to make the necessary notation in their respective
records. This letter is a substantial compliance with the certification mentioned in
Section 29-2 as aforequoted. Note that de Vera's transfer was made effective
sometime between 1 August 2001 and 3 September 2001. On 27 February 2003,
the elections of the IBP Chapter Officers were simultaneously held all over the
Philippines, as mandated by Section 29.a of the IBP By-Laws which provides that
elections of Chapter Officers and Directors shall be held on the last Saturday of
February of every other year. Between 3 September 2001 and 27 February 2003,
seventeen months had elapsed. This makes respondent de Vera's transfer valid as it
was done more than three months ahead of the chapter elections held on 27
February 2003.

In the case of Romulo G. Dinsay vs. Atty. Leopoldo D. Cioco (Administrative Case No.
2995, 27 November 1996), this Court declared that:

The doctrine of res judicata applies only to judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings and
not to the exercise of the [Courts] administrative powers.

In the said case, respondent Clerk of Court Cioco was dismissed from service for grave
misconduct highly prejudicial to the service for surreptitiously substituting the bid price in a
Certificate of Sale from P3,263,182.67 to only P730,000.00. Thereafter a complaint for
disbarment was filed against the respondent on the basis of the same incident. Respondent,
interposing res judicata, argued that he may no longer be charged on the basis of the same
incident. This Court held that while the respondent is in effect being indicted twice for the same
misconduct, this does not amount to double jeopardy as both proceedings are admittedly
administrative in nature. This Court qualified that, in the first case, the respondent was proceeded
against as an erring court personnel under the Courts supervisory power over courts while, in the
second case, he was disciplined as a lawyer under the Courts plenary authority over membersof
the legal profession.

In subsequent decisions of this Court, however, it appears that res judicata still applies in
administrative cases. Thus, in the case of Atty. Eduardo C. De Vera vs. Judge William Layague
(Administrastive Matter No. RTJ-93-986), this Court ruled that:

While double jeopardy does not lie in administrative cases, it would be contrary to
equity and substantial justice to penalize respondent judge a second time for an
act which he had already answered for.

Likewise, in the recent case of Executive Judge Henry B. Basilia vs. Judge Amado L.
Becamon, Lolita Delos Reyes and Eddie Delos Reyes (Administrative Matter No. MTJ-02-1404,
14 December 2004), this Court held that:

Applying the principle of res judicata or bar by prior judgment, the present
administrative case becomes dismissible.

xxx

Under the said doctrine, a matter that has been adjudicated by a court of
competent jurisdiction must be deemed to have been finally and conclusively
settled if it arises in any subsequent litigation between the same parties and for the
same cause. It provides that
[a] final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction is
conclusive as to the rights of the parties and their privies; and constitutes an
absolute bar to subsequent actions involving the same claim, demand, or cause of
action. Res judicata is based on the ground that the party to be affected, or some
other with whom he is in privity, has litigated the same matter in the former action

in a court of competent jurisdiction, and should not be permitted to litigate it


again.

This principle frees the parties from undergoing all over again the rigors of
unnecessary suits and repetitious trials. At the same time, it prevents the clogging
of court dockets.Equally important, res judicata stabilizes rights and promotes the
rule of law.

In the instant administrative case, it is clear that the issues raised by the complainant had
already been resolved by this Court in an earlier administrative case. The complainants contention
that the principle of res judicata would not apply in the case at bar as the first administrative case
was one for disqualification while the instant administrative complaint is one for suspension
and/or disbarment should be given least credence. It is worthy to note that while the instant
administrative complaint is denominated as one for suspension and/or disbarment, it prayed
neither the suspension nor the disbarment of the respondent but instead merely sought to enjoin
the respondent from assuming office as IBP National President.[28]

Contrary to the findings of the Bar Confidant, Adm. Case No. 6052 entitled, In Re: Petition to
Disqualify Atty. Leonard de Vera, on Legal and Moral Grounds, From Being Elected IBP Governor for Eastern
Mindanao in the May 31 IBP Election and promulgated on 11 December 2003 does not constitute a bar to the
filing of Adm. Case No. 6697. Although the parties in the present administrative case and in Adm. Case No.
6052 are identical, their capacities in these cases and the issues presented therein are not the same, thereby
barring the application of res judicata.

In order that the principle of res judicata may be made to apply, four essential conditions must concur,
namely: (1) the judgment sought to bar the new action must be final; (2) the decision must have been rendered
by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) the disposition of the case must be a
judgment or order on the merits, and (4) there must be between the first and second action identity of parties,
identity of subject matter, and identity of causes of action. [29] In the absence of any one of these elements, Atty.
de Vera cannot argue res judicata in his favor.

It is noteworthy that the two administrative cases involve different subject matters and causes of action. In Adm.
Case No. 6052, the subject matter was the qualification of Atty. de Vera to run as a candidate for the position of
IBP Governor for Eastern Mindanao. In the present administrative complaint, the subject matter is his privilege
to practice law. In the first administrative case, complainants cause of action was Atty. de Veras alleged
violation or circumvention of the IBP By-laws. In the present administrative case, the primary cause of action is
Atty. de Veras alleged violation of lawyers oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Finally, the two administrative cases do not seek the same relief. In the first case, the complainants sought to
prevent Atty. de Vera from assuming his post as IBP Governor for Eastern Mindanao. In the present case, as
clarified by complainant in his Memorandum, what is being principally sought is Atty. de Veras suspension or
disbarment.

The distinctions between the two cases are far from trivial. The previous case was resolved on the basis of the
parties rights and obligations under the IBP By-laws. We held therein that Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified
from running as Regional Governor as there is nothing in the present IBP By-laws that sanctions the
disqualification of candidates for IBP governors. Consequently, we stressed that the petition had no firm ground

to stand on. Likewise, we held that the complainants therein were not the proper parties to bring the suit as the
IBP By-laws prescribes that only nominees - which the complainants were not - can file with the IBP President
a written protest against the candidate. The Courts statement, therefore, that Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified
on the ground that he was not morally fit was mere obiter dictum. Precisely, the IBP By-laws do not allow for
pre-election disqualification proceedings; hence, Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified on the basis of the
administrative findings of a hearing officer of the State Bar of California suspending him from the practice of
law for three years. We held in that case that

There is nothing in the By-Laws which explicitly provides that one must be morally fit
before he can run for IBP governorship. For one, this is so because the determination of moral
fitness of a candidate lies in the individual judgment of the members of the House of Delegates.
Indeed, based on each member's standard of morality, he is free to nominate and elect any
member, so long as the latter possesses the basic requirements under the law. For another,
basically the disqualification of a candidate involving lack of moral fitness should emanate from
his disbarment or suspension from the practice of law by this Court, or conviction by final
judgment of an offense which involves moral turpitude.[30]

What this simply means is that absent a final judgment by the Supreme Court in a proper case declaring
otherwise, every lawyer aspiring to hold the position of IBP Regional Director is presumed morally fit. Any
person who begs to disagree will not be able to find a receptive audience in the IBP through a petition for
disqualification but must first file the necessary disbarment or suspension proceeding against the lawyer
concerned.

And this is precisely what complainant has chosen to do in the instant case. As his petition is sufficient in form
and substance, we have given it due course pursuant to Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. And, considering that
this case is not barred by the prior judgment in Adm. Case No. 6052, the only issue left for consideration is
whether or not Atty. de Vera can be suspended or disbarred under the facts of the case and the evidence
submitted by complainant.

The recommendation of the hearing officer of the State Bar


of California, standing alone, is not proof of malpractice.

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

We take the issue in Atty. Maquera one notch higher in the case of Atty. de Vera who was admitted to the
practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction (State Bar of California, U.S.A.) and against whom charges were filed in
connection with his practice in said jurisdiction. However, unlike the case of Atty. Maquera, no final judgment
for suspension or disbarment was meted against Atty. de Vera despite a recommendation of suspension of three
years as he surrendered his license to practice law before his case could be taken up by the Supreme Court of
California.

In Maquera, we emphasized that the judgment of suspension against a Filipino lawyer in a foreign
jurisdiction does not automatically result in his suspension or disbarment in the Philippines as the acts giving

rise to his suspension are not grounds for disbarment and suspension in this jurisdiction. Judgment of
suspension against a Filipino lawyer may transmute into a similar judgment of suspension in
the Philippines only if the basis of the foreign courts action includes any of the grounds for disbarment or
suspension in this jurisdiction. We likewise held that the judgment of the foreign court merely constitutes prima
facie evidence of unethical acts as lawyer.

The Maquera ruling is consistent with Rule 39, Section 48, of the Rules of Court which provides:

Sec. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. - The effect of a judgment or final order of a
tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as
follows:

xxxx

(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is
presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a
subsequent title.

In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of
jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.

In Philippine Aluminum Wheels, Inc. v. Fasgi Enterprises, Inc.,[32] we explained that [a] foreign
judgment is presumed to be valid and binding in the country from which it comes, until a contrary showing, on
the basis of a presumption of regularity of proceedings and the giving of due notice in the foreign forum.

In herein case, considering that there is technically no foreign judgment to speak of, the
recommendation by the hearing officer of the State Bar of California does not constitute prima facie evidence of
unethical behavior by Atty. de Vera. Complainant must prove by substantial evidence the facts upon which the
recommendation by the hearing officer was based. If he is successful in this, he must then prove that these acts
are likewise unethical under Philippine law.

There is substantial evidence of malpractice on the part of Atty. de Vera


independent of the recommendation of suspension by the hearing officer
of the State Bar of California

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

SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court; grounds therefor. A


member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme
Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral
conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation

of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience
of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a
party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of
gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.

The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a competent court or


other disciplinary agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been admitted as an attorney
is a ground for his disbarment or suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the acts
hereinabove enumerated.

The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall
be prima facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension.[33]

Disciplinary action against a lawyer is intended to protect the court and the public from the misconduct
of officers of the court and to protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this
important function shall be competent, honorable and reliable men in whom courts and clients may repose
confidence.[34] The statutory enunciation of the grounds for disbarment on suspension is not to be taken as a
limitation on the general power of courts to suspend or disbar a lawyer. The inherent power of the court over its
officers cannot be restricted.[35]

Malpractice ordinarily refers to any malfeasance or dereliction of duty committed by a lawyer. Section
27 gives a special and technical meaning to the term Malpractice. [36] That meaning is in consonance with the
elementary notion that the practice of law is a profession, not a business.[37]

Unprofessional conduct in an attorney is that which violates the rules on ethical code of his profession or
which is unbecoming a member of that profession.[38]

Now, the undisputed facts:

1.

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

2.

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

3.

Atty. de Vera resigned from the California Bar which resignation was accepted by the Supreme
Court of California.[41]

Atty. de Vera vehemently insists that the foregoing facts do not prove that he misappropriated his clients
funds as the latters father (the elder Willis) gave him authority to use the same and that, unfortunately, the
hearing officer did not consider this explanation notwithstanding the fact that the elder Willis testified under
oath that he expected de Vera might use the money for a few days.
By insisting that he was authorized by his clients father and attorney-in-fact to use the funds, Atty. de
Vera has impliedly admitted the use of the Willis funds for his own personal use.

In fact, Atty. de Vera did not deny complainants allegation in the latters memorandum that he (de Vera)
received US$12,000.00 intended for his client and that he deposited said amount in his personal account and not
in a separate trust account and that, finally, he spent the amount for personal purposes.[42]

At this point, it bears stressing that in cases filed before administrative and quasi-judicial bodies, a fact
may be deemed established if it is supported by substantial evidence or that amount of relevant evidence which a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion. [43] It means such evidence which affords a
substantial basis from which the fact in issue can be reasonably inferred.[44]

Beyond doubt, the unauthorized use by a lawyer of his clients funds is highly unethical. Canon 16 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility is emphatic about this, thus:

CANON 16. A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF
HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME TO HIS POSSESSION.

Rule 16.01. A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the
client.

Rule 16.02. A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own and
those of others kept by him.

In Espiritu v. Ulep[45] we held that

The relation between attorney and client is highly fiduciary in nature. Being such, it
requires utmost good faith, loyalty, fidelity and disinterestedness on the part of the attorney. Its
fiduciary nature is intended for the protection of the client.

The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates every lawyer to hold in trust all money
and properties of his client that may come into his possession. Accordingly, he shall account for
all money or property collected or received for or from the client. Even more specific is the
Canon of Professional Ethics:

The lawyer should refrain from any action whereby for his personal benefit
or gain he abuses or takes advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his
client.

Money of the client or collected for the client or other trust property
coming into the possession of the lawyer should be reported and accounted
for promptly and should not under any circumstances be commingled with his
own or be used by him.

Consequently, a lawyer's failure to return upon demand the funds or property held by him
on behalf of his client gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own
use to the prejudice of, and in violation of the trust reposed in him by, his client. It is a gross
violation of general morality as well as of professional ethics; it impairs the public confidence in
the legal profession and deserves punishment.

Lawyers who misappropriate the funds entrusted to them are in gross violation of
professional ethics and are guilty of betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession. Those
who are guilty of such infraction may be disbarred or suspended indefinitely from the practice of
law. (Emphases supplied.)

In herein case, as it is admitted by Atty. de Vera himself that he used his clients money for personal use,
he has unwittingly sealed his own fate since this admission constitutes more than substantial evidence of
malpractice. Consequently, Atty. de Vera now has the burden of rebutting the evidence which he himself
supplied.

In his defense, Atty. de Vera claims that he was duly authorized by the elder Willis to use the funds intended
for the latters son. Atty. de Vera also points out that he had restituted the full amount of US$12,000.00 even
before the filing of the administrative case against him in the State Bar of California.[46]

Aside from these self-serving statements, however, we cannot find anywhere in the records of this case
proof that indeed Atty. de Vera was duly authorized to use the funds of his client. In Radjaie v. Atty.
Alovera[47] we declared that

When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he denies the
charges against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him. He must
show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is
expected of him.

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

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

Nevertheless, we do not agree with complainants plea to disbar respondent from the practice of law. The power
to disbar must be exercised with great caution. [49] Where any lesser penalty can accomplish the end desired,
disbarment should not be decreed.

In Mortera v. Pagatpatan,[50] we imposed upon Atty. Pagatpatan two years suspension from his practice of law
for depositing the funds meant for his client to his personal account without the latters knowledge. In Reyes v.
Maglaya;[51] Castillo v. Taguines;[52] Espiritu v. Atty. Cabredo IV,[53] the respondents were meted one year
suspension each for failing to remit to their clients monies in the amounts of P1,500.00; P500.00,
and P51,161.00, respectively, received by them for their clients without the latters permission. In Dumadag v.
Atty. Lumaya,[54] we indefinitely suspended respondent for failure to remit to his client the amount of the measly
sum of P4,344.00 representing the amount received pursuant to a writ of execution. Considering the amount
involved here US$12,000.00, we believe that the penalty of suspension for two (2) years is appropriate.

Transferring IBP membership to a chapter where the lawyer is not a


resident of is not a ground for his suspension or disbarment

Complainant insists that Atty. de Veras transfer of membership from the Pasay, Paraaque, Las Pias and
Muntinlupa (PPLM) Chapter to the Agusan del Sur IBP Chapter is a circumvention of the rotation rule as it was
made for the sole purpose of becoming IBP National President. Complainant stresses that Atty. de Vera is not a
resident of Agusan del Sur nor does he hold office therein.

In Adm. Case No. 6052, we held that Atty. de Veras act of transferring to another IBP Chapter is not a
ground for his disqualification for the post of IBP Governor as the same is allowed under Section 19 of the IBP
By-Laws with the qualification only that the transfer be made not less than three months immediately preceding
any chapter election.

As it was perfectly within Atty. de Veras right to transfer his membership, it cannot be said that he is
guilty of unethical conduct or behavior. And while one may incessantly argue that a legal act may not necessarily
be ethical, in herein case, we do not see anything wrong in transferring to an IBP chapter that -- based on the
rotation rule will produce the next IBP EVP who will automatically succeed to the National Presidency for the
next term. Our Code of Professional Responsibility as well as the Lawyers Oath do not prohibit nor punish
lawyers from aspiring to be IBP National President and from doing perfectly legal acts in accomplishing such
goal.

Bar Matter No. 1227


Administrative Matter No. 05-5-15-SC

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

I.

Whether the IBP Board of Governors acted with grave abuse of discretion in removing Atty. de
Vera as Governor and EVP of the IBP on 13 May 2005.

i.
Whether the IBP Board of Governors complied with administrative
due process in removing Atty. de Vera.
ii.

II.

Whether the IBP removed Atty. De Vera for just and valid cause.

Whether Governor Salazar was validly elected as EVP of the IBP on 25 June 2005, and can
consequently assume the Presidency of the IBP for the term 2005-2007.

The IBP Board observed due process in its removal of Atty. de Vera as
IBP Governor

We start the discussion with the veritable fact that the IBP Board is vested with the power to remove any
of its members pursuant to Section 44, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws, which states:

Sec. 44. Removal of members. If the Board of Governors should determine after proper inquiry
that any of its members, elective or otherwise, has for any reason become unable to perform his
duties, the Board, by resolution of the Majority of the remaining members, may declare his
position vacant, subject to the approval of the Supreme Court.

Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise, may be removed for cause,
including three consecutive absences from Board meetings without justifiable excuse, by
resolution adopted by two-thirds of the remaining members of the Board, subject to the
approval of the Supreme Court.

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

Under the aforementioned section, a member of the IBP Board may be removed for cause by resolution adopted
by two-thirds (2/3) of the remaining members of the Board, subject to the approval of this Court.

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

We are in agreement with the IBP Board.

First, it needs stressing that the constitutional provision on due process safeguards life, liberty and property.[55] It
cannot be said that the position of EVP of the IBP is property within the constitutional sense especially since
there is no right to security of tenure over said position as, in fact, all that is required to remove any member of
the board of governors for cause is a resolution adopted by 2/3 of the remaining members of the board.

Secondly, even if the right of due process could be rightfully invoked, still, in administrative proceedings, the
essence of due process is simply the opportunity to explain ones side. [56] At the outset, it is here emphasized that
the term due process of law as used in the Constitution has no fixed meaning for all purposes due to the very
nature of the doctrine which, asserting a fundamental principle of justice rather than a specific rule of law, is not
susceptible of more than one general statement.[57] The phrase is so elusive of exact apprehension,[58] because it
depends on circumstances and varies with the subject matter and the necessities of the situation.[59]

Due process of law in administrative cases is not identical with judicial process for a trial in court is not always
essential to due process. While a day in court is a matter of right in judicial proceedings, it is otherwise in
administrative proceedings since they rest upon different principles. The due process clause guarantees no
particular form of procedure and its requirements are not technical. Thus, in certain proceedings of
administrative character, the right to a notice or hearing are not essential to due process of law. The
constitutional requirement of due process is met by a fair hearing before a regularly established administrative
agency or tribunal. It is not essential that hearings be had before the making of a determination if thereafter,
there is available trial and tribunal before which all objections and defenses to the making of such determination
may be raised and considered. One adequate hearing is all that due process requires. What is required for hearing
may differ as the functions of the administrative bodies differ.[60]

The right to cross-examine is not an indispensable aspect of due process. [61] Nor is an actual hearing always
essential[62] especially under the factual milieu of this case where the members of the IBP Board -- upon whose
shoulders the determination of the cause for removal of an IBP governor is placed subject to the approval of the
Supreme Court all witnessed Atty. de Veras actuations in the IBP National Convention in question.

It is undisputed that Atty. de Vera received a copy of the complaint against him and that he was present when the
matter was taken up. From the transcript of the stenographic notes of the 13 May 2005 meeting wherein Atty. de

Vera was removed, it is patent that Atty. de Vera was given fair opportunity to defend himself against the
accusations made by Atty. Rivera.

Atty. de Vera, however, additionally questions the fact that Atty. Rivera, who authored the complaint against him,
also voted for his expulsion making him accuser, prosecutor and judge at the same time. Atty. de Vera likewise
laments the fact that Atty. Rivera initially inhibited himself from voting but when this resulted in the defeat of
his motion for lack of the necessary 2/3 vote, he agreed to another round of voting and that, this time, he voted in
favor of his motion.

For the record, of the nine governors comprising the IBP Board, six voted for Atty. de Veras expulsion
(including Atty. Rivera) while 3 voted against it (including Atty. de Vera).

Section 44 (second paragraph) of the IBP By-Laws provides:

Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise, may be removed for cause, including
three consecutive absences from Board meetings without justifiable excuse, by resolution
adopted by two-thirds of the remaining members of the Board, subject to the approval of the
Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied.)

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

The IBP Board removed Atty. de Vera as IBP Governor for just and
valid cause

All the concerned parties to this case agree that what constitutes cause for the removal of an IBP
Governor has not been defined by Section 44 of the IBP By-Laws albeit it includes three consecutive absences
from Board meetings without justifiable excuse. Thus, the IBP Board argues that it is vested with sufficient
power and authority to protect itself from an intractable member whose removal was caused not by his
disagreement with the IBP Board but due to various acts committed by him which the IBP Board considered as
inimical to the IBP Board in particular and the IBP in general.

Atty. de Vera, on the other hand, insists that speaking in disagreement with the Resolution of the Board
during the Conventions Plenary Session is not a valid cause to remove or expel a duly-elected member of the
IBP Board of Governors and the decision to remove him only shows that the right to freedom of speech or the
right to dissent is not recognized by the IBP Board.

After weighing the arguments of the parties and in keeping with the fundamental objective of the IBP to
discharge its public responsibility more effectively, we hereby find that Atty. de Veras removal from the IBP
Board was not capricious or arbitrary.

Indubitably, conflicts and disagreements of varying degrees of intensity, if not animosity, are inherent in
the internal life of an organization, but especially of the IBP since lawyers are said to disagree before they
agree.
However, the effectiveness of the IBP, like any other organization, is diluted if the conflicts are brought outside
its governing body for then there would be the impression that the IBP, which speaks through the Board of
Governors, does not and cannot speak for its members in an authoritative fashion. It would accordingly
diminish the IBPs prestige and repute with the lawyers as well as with the general public.

As a means of self-preservation, internecine conflicts must thus be adjusted within the governing board itself so
as to free it from the stresses that invariably arise when internal cleavages are made public.

The doctrine of majority rule is almost universally used as a mechanism for adjusting and resolving conflicts
and disagreements within the group after the members have been given an opportunity to be heard. While it
does not efface conflicts, nonetheless, once a decision on a contentious matter is reached by a majority vote, the
dissenting minority is bound thereby so that the board can speak with one voice, for those elected to the
governing board are deemed to implicitly contract that the will of the majority shall govern in matters within the
authority of the board.[63]

The IBP Board, therefore, was well within its right in removing Atty. de Vera as the latters actuations during the
10th National IBP Convention were detrimental to the role of the IBP Board as the governing body of the IBP.
When the IBP Board is not seen by the bar and the public as a cohesive unit, it cannot effectively perform its
duty of helping the Supreme Court enforce the code of legal ethics and the standards of legal practice as well as
improve the administration of justice.
In view of the importance of retaining group cohesiveness and unity, the expulsion of a member of the board
who insists on bringing to the public his disagreement with a policy/resolution approved by the majority after
due discussion, cannot be faulted. The effectiveness of the board as a governing body will be negated if its
pronouncements are resisted in public by a board member.

Indeed, when a member of a governing body cannot accept the voice of the majority, he should resign therefrom
so that he could criticize in public the majority opinion/decision to his hearts content; otherwise, he subjects
himself to disciplinary action by the body.

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


facto meant his removal as EVP as well

The removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the Board of Governors ipso facto meant his removal as EVP as
well. Section 47, Article VII of the By-Laws of the IBP provides:

SEC. 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President and
Executive Vice President to be chosen by the Board of Governors from among nine (9) regional
governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. x x x

Thus, to be EVP of the IBP, one must necessarily be a member of IBP Board of Governors. Atty. de Veras
removal from the Board of Governors, automatically disqualified him from acting as IBP EVP. To insist
otherwise would be contrary to Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.

The Court will not interfere with the Resolution of the IBP Board to
remove Atty. de Vera since it was rendered without grave abuse of
discretion

While it is true that the Supreme Court has been granted an extensive power of supervision over the IBP, [64] it is
axiomatic that such power should be exercised prudently. The power of supervision of the Supreme Court over
the IBP should not preclude the IBP from exercising its reasonable discretion especially in the administration of
its internal affairs governed by the provisions of its By-Laws. The IBP By-Laws were precisely drafted and
promulgated so as to define the powers and functions of the IBP and its officers, establish its organizational
structure, and govern relations and transactions among its officers and members. With these By-Laws in place,
the Supreme Court could be assured that the IBP shall be able to carry on its day-to-day affairs, without the
Courts interference.
It should be noted that the general charge of the affairs and activities of the IBP has been vested in the Board of
Governors. The members of the Board are elective and representative of each of the nine regions of the IBP as
delineated in its By-Laws.[65] The Board acts as a collegiate body and decides in accordance with the will of the
majority. The foregoing rules serve to negate the possibility of the IBP Board acting on the basis of personal
interest or malice of its individual members. Hence, the actions and resolutions of the IBP Board deserve to be
accorded the disputable presumption[66] of validity, which shall continue, until and unless it is overcome by
substantial evidence and actually declared invalid by the Supreme Court. In the absence of any allegation and
substantial proof that the IBP Board has acted without or in excess of its authority or with grave abuse of
discretion, we shall not be persuaded to overturn and set aside the Boards action or resolution.
There is no question that the IBP Board has the authority to remove its members as provided in Article VI,
Section 44[67] of the IBP By-Laws. Issue arises only as to whether the IBP Board abused its authority and
discretion in resolving to remove Atty. de Vera from his post as an IBP Governor and EVP. As has been
previously established herein, Atty. de Veras removal from the IBP Board was in accordance with due process
and the IBP Board acted well within the authority and discretion granted to it by its By-Laws.There being no
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the IBP Board, we find no reason to interfere in the Boards resolution to
remove Atty. de Vera.
The election of Atty. Salazar by the IBP Board as IBP EVP in
replacement of Atty. De Vera was conducted in accordance with the
authority granted to the Board by the IBP By-Laws

In the same manner, we find no reason to disturb the action taken by the 2003-2005 IBP Board of
Governors in holding a special election to fill-in the vacant post resulting from the removal of Atty. de Vera as
EVP of the IBP since the same is a purely internal matter, done without grave abuse of discretion, and
implemented without violating the Rules and By-Laws of the IBP.

With the removal of Atty. de Vera from the Board, by virtue of the IBP Board Resolution dated 13 May
2005, he was also removed from his post as EVP; thus, there was a resultant vacancy in the position of IBP
EVP.

Article VI, Section 41(g) of the IBP By-Laws expressly grants to the Board the authority to fill vacancies,
however arising, in the IBP positions, subject to the provisions of Section 8 of the Integration Rule, [68] and
Section 11 (Vacancies),[69] Section 44 (Removal of members),[70] Section 47 (National officers),[71] Section 48
(other officers),[72]and Section 49 (Terms of Office)[73] of the By-Laws. The IBP Board has specific and
sufficient guidelines in its Rules and By-Laws on how to fill-in the vacancies after the removal of Atty. de
Vera. We have faith and confidence in the intellectual, emotional and ethical competencies of the remaining
members of the 2005-2007 Board in dealing with the situation within the bounds of the IBP Rules and ByLaws.

The election by the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors of a new EVP, who will assume the Presidency
for the term 2005-2007, was well within the authority and prerogative granted to the Board by the IBP ByLaws, particularly Article VII, Section 47, which provides that [t]he EVP shall automatically become President
for the next succeeding term. The phrase for the next succeeding term necessarily implies that the EVP that
should succeed Atty. Cadiz as IBP President for the next succeeding term (i.e.,2005-2007) should come from
the members of the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors. Hence, in A.M. No. 05-7-19-SC, we restrained now
IBP EVP Feliciano Bautista from assuming the position of Acting President because we have yet to resolve the
question as to who shall succeed Atty. Cadiz from the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors.

Accordingly, the elections of Governor Santiago on 13 June 2005 as IBP EVP, and thereafter, Governor
Salazar on 25 June 2005, as the new IBP EVP, upon the relinquishment of Gov. Santiago of the position, were
valid.

Neither can this Court give credence to the argument of Atty. De Vera that, assuming his removal as IBP
Governor and EVP was valid, his replacement as IBP EVP should come from Eastern Mindanao Region
pursuant to the rotation rule set forth in Article VII, Section 47, of the IBP By-Laws.

According to Article VII, Section 47, of the IBP By-Laws, the EVP shall be chosen by the Board of
Governors from among the nine Regional Governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. This is based
on our pronouncements in Bar Matter 491, wherein we ruled:

ORDER

xxxx

3. The former system of having the IBP President and Executive Vice-President elected by the
Board of Governors (composed of the governors of the nine [9] IBP regions) from among
themselves (as provided in Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be restored. The
right of automatic succession by the Executive Vice-President to the presidency upon the
expiration of their two-year term (which was abolished by this Court's resolution dated July 9,
1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby restored.

4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-President shall automatically
succeed to the office of president. The incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive

Vice-President from among themselves. The position of Executive Vice-President shall be


rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions .One who has served as president may not run for
election as Executive Vice-President in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the
presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been completed; whereupon, the rotation shall
begin anew.

xxxx
(Emphasis Supplied)

In Bar Matter 491, it is clear that it is the position of IBP EVP which is actually rotated among the nine
Regional Governors. The rotation with respect to the Presidency is merely a result of the automatic succession
rule of the IBP EVP to the Presidency. Thus, the rotation rule pertains in particular to the position of IBP EVP,
while the automatic succession rule pertains to the Presidency. The rotation with respect to the Presidency is but
a consequence of the automatic succession rule provided in Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.

In the case at bar, the rotation rule was duly complied with since upon the election of Atty. De Vera as
IBP EVP, each of the nine IBP regions had already produced an EVP and, thus, the rotation was completed. It is
only unfortunate that the supervening event of Atty. de Veras removal as IBP Governor and EVP rendered it
impossible for him to assume the IBP Presidency. The fact remains, however, that the rotation rule had been
completed despite the non-assumption by Atty. de Vera to the IBP Presidency.

Moreover, the application of the rotation rule is not a license to disregard the spirit and purpose of the
automatic succession rule, but should be applied in harmony with the latter. The automatic succession rule
affords the IBP leadership transition seamless and enables the new IBP National President to attend to pressing
and urgent matters without having to expend valuable time for the usual adjustment and leadership
consolidation period. The time that an IBP EVP spends assisting a sitting IBP President on matters national in
scope is in fact a valuable and indispensable preparation for the eventual succession. It should also be pointed
out that this wisdom is further underscored by the fact that an IBP EVP is elected from among the members of
the IBP Board of Governors, who are serving in a national capacity, and not from the members at large. It is
intrinsic in the IBP By-Laws that one who is to assume the highest position in the IBP must have been exposed
to the demands and responsibilities of national leadership.
It would therefore be consistent with the purpose and spirit of the automatic succession rule for
Governor Salazar to assume the post of IBP President. By electing the replacement EVP from among the
members of the 2003-2005 Board of Governors, the IBP benefits from the experience of the IBP EVP of 20032005 in this case, Governor Salazar who would have served in a national capacity prior to his assumption of the
highest position.

It will also be inconsistent with the purpose and spirit of the automatic succession rule if the EVP for the
term 2003-2005 will be elected exclusively by the members of the House of Delegates of the Eastern
Mindanao region. This Court notes that the removal of Atty. De Vera in 13 May 2005 was about a month before
the expiration of the term of office of the 2003-2005 Board of Governors. Hence, the replacement Governor
would not have been able to serve in a national capacity for two years prior to assuming the IBP Presidency.

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

It is in view of the foregoing that the argument advanced by Atty. De Vera that the IBP national
presidency should be assumed by a nominee from Eastern Mindanaoregion from where he comes, can not hold
water. It would go against the intent of the IBP By-Laws for such a nominee would be bereft of the wealth of
experience and the perspective that only one who is honed in service while serving in a national post in the IBP
would have.

We therefore rule that the IBP Board of Governors acted in accordance with the IBP By-Laws, in
electing Atty. Salazar as IBP EVP and in ensuring a succession in the leadership of the IBP. Had the Board of
Governors not done so, there would have been no one qualified to assume the Presidency of the IBP on 1 July
2005, pursuant to Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we rule as follows:

1)

SUSPEND Atty. Leonard de Vera in A.C. No. 6697 from the practice of law for
TWO (2) YEARS, effective from the finality of this Resolution. Let a copy of this
Resolution be attached to the personal record of Atty. Leonard de Vera and copies
furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator
for dissemination to all courts;

2)

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

3)

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

4)

DIRECT Atty. Jose Vicente B. Salazar to immediately take his oath of office and
assume the Presidency of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the term 2005-2007 in
accordance with the automatic succession rule in Article VII, Section 47 of the IBP ByLaws, upon receipt of this Resolution.

SO ORDERED.
IN RE: PETITION RE-ACQUIRE THE PRIVILEGE TO PRACTICE LAW IN THE PHILIPPINES,
EPIFANIO B. MUNESES, Petitioner,
RESOLUTION
REYES, J.:

On June 8, 2009, a petition was filed by Epifanio B. Muneses (petitioner) with the Office of the Bar Confidant
(OBC) praying that he be granted the privilege to practice law in the Philippines.
The petitioner alleged that he became a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on March 21,
1966; that he lost his privilege to practice law when he became a citizen of the United States of America (USA)
on August 28, 1981; that on September 15, 2006, he re-acquired his Philippine citizenship pursuant to Republic
Act (R.A.) No. 9225 or the "Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003" by taking his oath of
allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate General in Washington, D.C., USA; that he
intends to retire in the Philippines and if granted, to resume the practice of law. Attached to the petition were
several documents in support of his petition, albeit mere photocopies thereof, to wit:
1. Oath of Allegiance dated September 15, 2006 before Consul General Domingo P. Nolasco;
2. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship of same date;
3. Order for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship also of same date;
4. Letter dated March 13, 2008 evidencing payment of membership dues with the IBP;
5. Attendance Forms from the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE).
In Bar Matter No. 1678, dated December 17, 2007, the Court was confronted with a similar petition filed by
Benjamin M. Dacanay (Dacanay) who requested leave to resume his practice of law after availing the benefits
of R.A. No. 9225. Dacanay was admitted to the Philippine Bar in March 1960. In December 1998, he migrated
to Canada to seek medical attention for his ailments and eventually became a Canadian citizen in May 2004. On
July 14, 2006, Dacanay re-acquired his Philippine citizenship pursuant to R.A. No. 9225 after taking his oath of
allegiance before the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, Canada. He returned to the Philippines and
intended to resume his practice of law.
The Court reiterates that Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar and is, in fact, a
continuing requirement for the practice of law. The loss thereof means termination of the petitioners
membership in the bar;ipso jure the privilege to engage in the practice of law. Under R.A. No. 9225, naturalborn citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign
country are deemed to have re-acquired their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the
Republic.1 Thus, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country and later re-acquires his Philippine
citizenship under R.A. No. 9225, remains to be a member of the Philippine Bar. However, as stated in Dacanay,
the right to resume the practice of law is not automatic. 2 R.A. No. 9225 provides that a person who intends to
practice his profession in the Philippines must apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage
in such practice.3
It can not be overstressed that:
The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.1wphi1 It is so delicately affected with public
interest that it is both the power and duty of the State (through this Court) to control and regulate it in order to
protect and promote the public welfare.
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality, faithful
observance of the legal profession, compliance with the mandatory continuing legal education requirement and
payment of membership fees to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are the conditions required for
membership in good standing in the bar and for enjoying the privilege to practice law. Any breach by a lawyer
of any of these conditions makes him unworthy of the trust and confidence which the courts and clients repose
in him for the continued exercise of his professional privilege.4

Thus, in pursuance to the qualifications laid down by the Court for the practice of law, the OBC required the
herein petitioner to submit the original or certified true copies of the following documents in relation to his
petition:
1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship;
2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship);
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines;
4. Identification Certificate (IC) issued by the Bureau of Immigration;
5. Certificate of Good Standing issued by the IBP;
6. Certification from the IBP indicating updated payments of annual membership dues;
7. Proof of payment of professional tax; and
8. Certificate of compliance issued by the MCLE Office.
In compliance thereof, the petitioner submitted the following:
1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship;
2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship);
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines;
4. Certificate of Re-Acquisition/Retention of Philippine Citizenship issued by the Bureau of
Immigration, in lieu of the IC;
5. Certification dated May 19, 2010 of the IBP-Surigao City Chapter attesting to his good moral
character as well as his updated payment of annual membership dues;
6. Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) for the year 2010;
7. Certificate of Compliance with the MCLE for the 2nd compliance period; and
8. Certification dated December 5, 2008 of Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Coordinator, UC-MCLE
Program, University of Cebu, College of Law attesting to his compliance with the MCLE.
The OBC further required the petitioner to update his compliance, particularly with the MCLE. After all the
requirements were satisfactorily complied with and finding that the petitioner has met all the qualifications and
none of the disqualifications for membership in the bar, the OBC recommended that the petitioner be allowed to
resume his practice of law.
Upon this favorable recommendation of the OBC, the Court adopts the same and sees no bar to the petitioner's
resumption to the practice of law in the Philippines.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Epifanio B. Muneses is hereby GRANTED, subject to the condition
that he shall re-take the Lawyer's Oath on a date to be set by the Court and subject to the payment of appropriate
fees.
Furthermore, the Office of the Bar Confidant is directed to draft the necessary guidelines for the re-acquisition
of the privilege to resume the practice of law for the guidance of the Bench and Bar.

SO ORDERED.
REINSTATEMENT AFTER DISBARMENT
IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMISSION TO THE BAR AND OATH-TAKING OF SUCCESSFUL BAR
APPLICANT AL C. ARGOSINO, petitioner.
RESOLUTION
FELICIANO, J.:
A criminal information was filed on 4 February 1992 with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 101,
charging Mr. A.C. Argosino along with thirteen (13) other individuals, with the crime of homicide in connection
with the death of one Raul Camaligan on 8 September 1991. The death of Raul Camaligan stemmed from the
infliction of severe physical injuries upon him in the course of "hazing" conducted as part of university
fraternity initiation rites. Mr. Argosino and his co-accused then entered into plea bargaining with the prosecution
and as a result of such bargaining, pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of homicide through reckless imprudence.
This plea was accepted by the trial court. In a judgment dated 11 February 1993, each of the fourteen (14)
accused individuals was sentenced to suffer imprisonment for a period ranging from two (2) years, four (4)
months and one (1) day to four (4) years.
Eleven (11) days later, Mr. Argosino and his colleagues filed an application for probation with the lower court.
The application for probation was granted in an Order dated 18 June 1993 issued by Regional Trial Court Judge
Pedro T. Santiago. The period of probation was set at two (2) years, counted from the probationer's initial report
to the probation officer assigned to supervise him.
Less than a month later, on 13 July 1993, Mr. Argosino filed a Petition for Admission to Take the 1993 Bar
Examinations. In this Petition, he disclosed the fact of his criminal conviction and his then probation status. He
was allowed to take the 1993 Bar Examinations in this Court's En Banc Resolution dated 14 August 1993. 1 He
passed the Bar Examination. He was not, however, allowed to take the lawyer's oath of office.
On 15 April 1994, Mr. Argosino filed a Petition with this Court to allow him to take the attorney's oath of office
and to admit him to the practice of law, averring that Judge Pedro T. Santiago had terminated his probation
period by virtue of an Order dated 11 April 1994. We note that his probation period did not last for more than
ten (10) months from the time of the Order of Judge Santiago granting him probation dated 18 June 1993. Since
then, Mr. Argosino has filed three (3) Motions for Early Resolution of his Petition for Admission to the Bar.
The practice of law is not a natural, absolute or constitutional right to be granted to everyone who demands it.
Rather, it is a high personal privilege limited to citizens of good moral character, with special educational
qualifications, duly ascertained and certified. 2 The essentiality of good moral character in those who would be
lawyers is stressed in the following excerpts which we quote with approval and which we regard as having
persuasive effect:
In Re Farmer: 3
xxx xxx xxx
This "upright character" prescribed by the statute, as a condition precedent to the applicant's right
to receive a license to practice law in North Carolina, and of which he must, in addition to other
requisites, satisfy the court, includes all the elements necessary to make up such a character. It is
something more than an absence of bad character. It is the good name which the applicant has
acquired, or should have acquired, through association with his fellows. It means that he must
have conducted himself as a man of upright character ordinarily would, or should, or does. Such
character expresses itself, not in negatives nor in following the line of least resistance, but quite

often, in the will to do the unpleasant thing if it is right, and the resolve not to do the pleasant
thing if it is wrong. . . .
xxx xxx xxx
And we may pause to say that this requirement of the statute is eminently proper. Consider for a
moment the duties of a lawyer. He is sought as counsellor, and his advice comes home, in its
ultimate effect, to every man's fireside. Vast interests are committed to his care; he is the
recipient of unbounded trust and confidence; he deals with is client's property, reputation, his
life, his all. An attorney at law is a sworn officer of the Court, whose chief concern, as such, is to
aid the administration of justice. . . .
xxx xxx xxx 4
In Re Application of Kaufman, 5 citing Re Law Examination of 1926 (1926) 191 Wis 359, 210
NW 710:
It can also be truthfully said that there exists nowhere greater temptations to deviate from the
straight and narrow path than in the multiplicity of circumstances that arise in the practice of
profession. For these reasons the wisdom of requiring an applicant for admission to the bar to
possess a high moral standard therefore becomes clearly apparent, and the board of bar
examiners as an arm of the court, is required to cause a minute examination to be made of the
moral standard of each candidate for admission to practice. . . . It needs no further argument,
therefore, to arrive at the conclusion that the highest degree of scrutiny must be exercised as to
the moral character of a candidate who presents himself for admission to the bar. The evil
must, if possible, be successfully met at its very source, and prevented, for, after a lawyer has
once been admitted, and has pursued his profession, and has established himself therein, a far
more difficult situation is presented to the court when proceedings are instituted for disbarment
and for the recalling and annulment of his license.
In Re Keenan: 6
The right to practice law is not one of the inherent rights of every citizen, as in the right to carry
on an ordinary trade or business. It is a peculiar privilege granted and continued only to those
who demonstrate special fitness in intellectual attainment and in moral character. All may aspire
to it on an absolutely equal basis, but not all will attain it. Elaborate machinery has been set up to
test applicants by standards fair to all and to separate the fit from the unfit. Only those who pass
the test are allowed to enter the profession, and only those who maintain the standards are
allowed to remain in it.
Re Rouss: 7
Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions, and a fair private and
professional character is one of them; to refuse admission to an unworthy applicant is not to
punish him for past offense: an examination into character, like the examination into learning, is
merely a test of fitness.
Cobb vs. Judge of Superior Court: 8
Attorney's are licensed because of their learning and ability, so that they may not only protect the
rights and interests of their clients, but be able to assist court in the trial of the cause. Yet what
protection to clients or assistance to courts could such agents give? They are required to be of
good moral character, so that the agents and officers of the court, which they are, may not bring
discredit upon the due administration of the law, and it is of the highest possible consequence
that both those who have not such qualifications in the first instance, or who, having had them,

have fallen therefrom, shall not be permitted to appear in courts to aid in the administration of
justice.
It has also been stressed that the requirement of good moral character is, in fact, of greater importance so far as
the general public and the proper administration of justice are concerned, than the possession of legal learning:
. . . (In re Applicants for License, 55 S.E. 635, 143 N.C. 1, 10 L.R.A. [N.S.] 288, 10 Ann./Cas.
187):
The public policy of our state has always been to admit no person to the practice of the
law unless he covered an upright moral character. The possession of this by the attorney
is more important, if anything, to the public and to the proper administration of justice
than legal learning. Legal learning may be acquired in after years, but if the applicant
passes the threshold of the bar with a bad moral character the chances are that his
character will remain bad, and that he will become a disgrace instead of an ornament to
his great calling a curse instead of a benefit to his community a Quirk, a Gammon
or a Snap, instead of a Davis, a Smith or a Ruffin. 9
All aspects of moral character and behavior may be inquired into in respect of those seeking admission to the
Bar. The scope of such inquiry is, indeed, said to be properly broader than inquiry into the moral proceedings
for disbarment:
Re Stepsay: 10
The inquiry as to the moral character of an attorney in a proceeding for his admission to practice
is broader in scope than in a disbarment proceeding.
Re Wells: 11
. . . that an applicant's contention that upon application for admission to the California Bar the
court cannot reject him for want of good moral character unless it appears that he has been guilty
of acts which would be cause for his disbarment or suspension, could not be sustained; that the
inquiry is broader in its scope than that in a disbarment proceeding, and the court may
receive any evidence which tends to show the applicant's character as respects honesty, integrity,
and general morality, and may no doubt refuse admission upon proofs that might not establish
his guilt of any of the acts declared to be causes for disbarment.
The requirement of good moral character to be satisfied by those who would seek admission to the bar must of
necessity be more stringent than the norm of conduct expected from members of the general public. There is a
very real need to prevent a general perception that entry into the legal profession is open to individuals with
inadequate moral qualifications. The growth of such a perception would signal the progressive destruction of
our people's confidence in their courts of law and in our legal system as we know it. 12
Mr. Argosino's participation in the deplorable "hazing" activities certainly fell far short of the required standard
of good moral character. The deliberate (rather than merely accidental or inadvertent) infliction of severe
physical injuries which proximately led to the death of the unfortunate Raul Camaligan, certainly indicated
serious character flaws on the part of those who inflicted such injuries. Mr. Argosino and his co-accused had
failed to discharge their moral duty to protect the life and well-being of a "neophyte" who had, by seeking
admission to the fraternity involved, reposed trust and confidence in all of them that, at the very least, he would
not be beaten and kicked to death like a useless stray dog. Thus, participation in the prolonged and mindless
physical beatings inflicted upon Raul Camaligan constituted evident rejection of that moral duty and was totally
irresponsible behavior, which makes impossible a finding that the participant was then possessed of good moral
character.

Now that the original period of probation granted by the trial court has expired, the Court is prepared to
consider de novo the question of whether applicant A.C. Argosino has purged himself of the obvious deficiency
in moral character referred to above. We stress that good moral character is a requirement possession of which
must be demonstrated not only at the time of application for permission to take the bar examinations but also,
and more importantly, at the time of application for admission to the bar and to take the attorney's oath of office.
Mr. Argosino must, therefore, submit to this Court, for its examination and consideration, evidence that he may
be now regarded as complying with the requirement of good moral character imposed upon those seeking
admission to the bar. His evidence may consist, inter alia, of sworn certifications from responsible members of
the community who have a good reputation for truth and who have actually known Mr. Argosino for
a significant period of time, particularly since the judgment of conviction was rendered by Judge Santiago. He
should show to the Court how he has tried to make up for the senseless killing of a helpless student to the family
of the deceased student and to the community at large. Mr. Argosino must, in other words, submit relevant
evidence to show that he is a different person now, that he has become morally fit for admission to the ancient
and learned profession of the law.
Finally, Mr. Argosino is hereby DIRECTED to inform this Court, by appropriate written manifestation, of the
names and addresses of the father and mother (in default thereof, brothers and sisters, if any, of Raul
Camaligan), within ten (10) day from notice hereof. Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished to the parents or
brothers and sisters, if any, of Raul Camaligan.
Re: 2003 BAR EXAMINATIONS
R ES OLUTIO N
PER CURIAM:
On 22 September 2003, the day following the bar examination in Mercantile Law, Justice Jose C. Vitug,
Chairman of the 2003 Bar Examinations Committee, was apprised of a rumored leakage in the examination on
the subject. After making his own inquiries, Justice Vitug reported the matter to Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide,
Jr., and to the other members of the Court, recommending that the bar examination on the subject be nullified
and that an investigation be conducted forthwith. On 23 September 2003, the Court adopted the
recommendation of Justice Vitug, and resolved to nullify the examination in Mercantile Law and to hold
another examination on 04 October 2003 at eight oclock in the evening (being the earliest available time and
date) at the De La Salle University, Taft Avenue, Manila. The resolution was issued without prejudice to any
action that the Court would further take on the matter.
Following the issuance of the resolution, the Court received numerous petitions and motions from the
Philippine Association of Law Schools and various other groups and persons, expressing agreement to the
nullification of the bar examinations in Mercantile Law but voicing strong reservations against the holding of
another examination on the subject. Several reasons were advanced by petitioners or movants, among these
reasons being the physical, emotional and financial difficulties that would be encountered by the examinees, if
another examination on the subject were to be held anew. Alternative proposals submitted to the Court included
the spreading out of the weight of Mercantile Law among the remaining seven bar subjects, i.e., to determine
and gauge the results of the examinations on the basis only of the performance of the examinees in the seven bar
subjects. In a resolution, dated 29 September 2003, the Court, finding merit in the submissions, resolved to
cancel the scheduled examination in Mercantile Law on 04 October 2003 and to allocate the fifteen percentage
points among the seven bar examination subjects. In the same resolution, the Court further resolved to create a
Committee composed of three retired members of the Court that would conduct a thorough investigation of the
incident subject of the 23 September 2003 resolution.
In a resolution, dated 07 October 2003, the Court adopted the computation in the allocation of the fifteen
percentage points for Mercantile Law among the remaining seven bar examination subjects, to wit:

Subject Original Adjusted Relative Adjusted


Percentage Percentage Weight Relative
Weight Weight Weight
Political and
International
Law 15% 17.647% 3 3.53%
Labor and
Social
Legislation 10% 11.765% 2 2.35%
Civil law 15% 17.647% 3 3.53%
Taxation 10% 11.765% 2 2.35%
Criminal law 10% 11.765% 2 2.35%
Remedial
Law 20% 23.529% 4 4.71%
Legal Ethics
and Practical
Exercises 5% 5.882% 1 1.18%
100% 20%
In another resolution, dated 14 October 2003, the Court designated the following retired Associate Justices
of the Supreme Court to compose the Investigating Committee:
Chairman: Justice Carolina C. Grio-Aquino
Members: Justice Jose A.R. Melo
Justice Vicente V. Mendoza
The Investigating Committee was tasked to determine and identify the source of leakage, the parties responsible
therefor or who might have benefited therefrom, recommend sanctions against all those found to have been
responsible for, or who would have benefited from, the incident in question and to recommend measures to the
Court to safeguard the integrity of the bar examinations.
On 15 January 2004, the Investigating Committee submitted its report and recommendation to the Court,
herein reproduced in full; thus In the morning of September 21, 2003, the third Sunday of the 2003 bar examinations, the examination in
commercial law was held in De la Salle University on Taft Avenue, Manila, the venue of the bar examinations
since 1995. The next day, the newspapers carried news of an alleged leakage in the said examination.[1]

Upon hearing the news and making preliminary inquiries of his own, Justice Jose C. Vitug, chairman of the
2003 Bar Examinations Committee, reported the matter to the Chief Justice and recommended that the
examination in mercantile law be cancelled and that a formal investigation of the leakage be undertaken.
Acting on the report and recommendation of Justice Vitug, the Court, in a resolution dated September 23, 2003,
nullified the examination in mercantile law and resolved to hold another examination in that subject on
Saturday, October 4, 2003 at eight oclock in the evening (being the earliest available time and date) at the same
venue. However, because numerous petitions, protests, and motions for reconsideration were filed against the
retaking of the examination in mercantile law, the Court cancelled the holding of such examination. On the
recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Court instead decided to allocate the fifteen (15)
percentage points for mercantile law among the seven (7) other bar examination subjects (Resolution
dated October 7, 2003).
In a Resolution dated September 29, 2003, the Supreme Court created an Investigating Committee composed of
three (3) retired Members of the Court to conduct an investigation of the leakage and to submit its findings and
recommendations on or before December 15, 2003.
The Court designated the following retired Associate Justices of the Supreme Court to compose the Committee:
Chairman: Justice CAROLINA GRIO-AQUINO
Members: Justice JOSE A. R. MELO
Justice VICENTE V. MENDOZA
The Investigating Committee was directed to determine and identify the source of the leakage, the parties
responsible therefor and those who benefited therefrom, and to recommend measures to safeguard the integrity
of the bar examinations.
The investigation commenced on October 21, 2003 and continued up to November 7, 2003. The following
witnesses appeared and testified at the investigation:
1. Associate Justice Jose C. Vitug, chairman of the 2003 Bar Examinations Committee;
2. Atty. Marlo Magdoza-Malagar, law clerk in the office of Justice Vitug
3. Atty. Marcial O. T. Balgos, examiner in mercantile law;
4. Cheryl Palma, private secretary of Atty. Balgos;
5. Atty. Danilo De Guzman, assistant lawyer in the firm of Balgos & Perez;
6. Atty. Enrico G. Velasco, managing partner of Balgos & Perez;
7. Eduardo J. F. Abella, reviewer in commercial law at the Lex Review Center;
8. Silvestre T. Atienza, office manager of Balgos & Perez;
9. Reynita Villasis, private secretary of Atty. De Guzman;
10. Ronan Garvida, fraternity brother of Atty. De Guzman;
11. Ronald F. Collado, most illustrious brother of the Beta Sigma Lambda Fraternity;
12. Jovito M. Salonga, Asst. Division Chief of Systems Development for Judicial Application, MlSO;

The Committee held nine (9) meetings - six times to conduct the investigation and three times to
deliberate on its report.
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE JOSE C. VITUG, chairman of the Bar Examinations Committee, testified that on
Monday morning, September 22, 2003, the day after the Bar examination in mercantile or commercial law,
upon arriving in his office in the Supreme Court, his secretary, [2] Rose Kawada, informed him that one of the
law clerks, Atty. Marlo Magdoza-Malagar, told her that a friend of hers named Ma. Cecilia Delgado-Carbajosa,
a bar examinee from Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City, who was staying at the Garden Plaza Hotel in
Paco, confided to her that something was wrong with the examination in mercantile law, because previous to the
examination, i.e., on Saturday afternoon, the eve of the examination, she received a copy of the test questions in
that subject. She did not pay attention to the test questions because no answers were provided, and she was
hard-pressed to finish her review of that subject, using other available bar review materials, of which there were
plenty coming from various bar review centers.
However, upon perusing the questions after the examinations, Cecilia noticed that many of them were the same
questions that were asked in the just-concluded-examination.
Justice Vitug requested Marlo to invite her friend to his office in the Supreme Court, but Carbajosa declined the
invitation. So, Justice Vitug suggested that Marlo and Rose invite Carbajosa to meet them at Robinsons Place,
Ermita. She agreed to do that.
Cecilia Carbajosa arrived at Robinsons Place at the appointed time and showed the test questions to Rose and
Marlo. Rose obtained a xerox copy of the leaked questions and compared them with the bar questions in
mercantile law. On the back of the pages, she wrote, in her own hand, the differences she noted between the
leaked questions and the bar examination questions.
Rose and Marlo delivered the copy of the leaked questions to Justice Vitug who compared them with the bar
examination questions in mercantile law. He found the leaked questions to be the exact same questions which
the examiner in mercantile law, Attorney Marcial O. T. Balgos, had prepared and submitted to him as chairman
of the Bar Examinations Committee. However, not all of those questions were asked in the bar examination.
According to Justice Vitug, only 75% of the final bar questions were questions prepared by Atty. Balgos; 25%
prepared by Justice Vitug himself, were included in the final bar examination. The questions prepared by Justice
Vitug were not among the leaked test questions.
Apart from the published news stories about the leakage, Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. and Justice Vitug
received, by telephone and mail, reports of the leakage from Dean Mariano F. Magsalin, Jr. of the Arellano Law
Foundation (Exh. H) and a certain Dale Philip R. De los Reyes (Exh. B -B-3), attaching copies of the leaked
questions and the fax transmittal sheet showing that the source of the questions was Danny De Guzman who
faxed them to Ronan Garvida on September 17, 2003, four days before the examination in mercantile law on
September 21, 2003 (Exh. B-1).
ATTORNEY MARLO MAGDOZA-MALAGAR was subpoenaed by the Committee. She identified the copy of
the leaked questions that came from Cecilia Carbajosa (Exh. A). She testified that, according to Carbajosa, the
latter received the test questions from one of her co-bar reviewees staying, like her, at the Garden Plaza Hotel in
Paco, and also enrolled in the review classes at the Lex Review Center at the corner of P. Faura Street and
Roxas Boulevard, Ermita. She did not pay for the hand-out because the Lex Review Center gives them away for
free to its bar reviewees.
ATTORNEY MARCIAL O. T. BALGOS, 71 years of age, senior partner in the law firm of BALGOS AND
PEREZ with offices in Rm. 1009 West Tektite Tower, Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, testified that
in November 2002, Justice Jose C. Vitug, as chair of the Committee on the 2003 Bar Examinations, invited him
to be the examiner in commercial law. He accepted the assignment and almost immediately began the
preparation of test questions on the subject. Using his personal computer in the law office, he prepared for three
consecutive days, three (3) sets of test questions which covered the entire subject of Mercantile Law (pp. 3-5,

tsn, Oct. 24, 2003). As he did not know how to prepare the questionnaire in final form, he asked his private
secretary, Cheryl Palma, to format the questions (p. 13, tsn, Oct. 24, 2003). And, as he did not know how to
print the questionnaire, he likewise asked Cheryl Palma to make a print-out (Id., pp. 14-15). All of this was done
inside his office with only him and his secretary there. His secretary printed only one copy (Id., p. 15). He then
placed the printed copy of the test questions, consisting of three sets, in an envelope which he sealed, and called
up Justice Vitug to inform him that he was bringing the questions to the latters office that afternoon. However,
as Justice Vitug was leaving his office shortly, he advised Atty. Balgos to give the sealed envelope to his
confidential assistant who had been instructed to keep it. When Atty. Balgos arrived in the office of Justice
Vitug, he was met by Justice Vitugs confidential assistant to whom he entrusted the sealed envelope containing
the test questions (pp. 19-26, tsn, Oct. 24, 2003).
Atty. Balgos admitted that he does not know how to operate a computer except to type on it. He does not know
how to open and close his own computer which has a password for that purpose. In fact, he did not know, as he
still does, the password. It is his secretary, Cheryl Palma, who opened and closed his computer for him (p. 45,
tsn, Oct. 24, 2003).
Atty. Balgos testified that he did not devise the password himself. It was Cheryl Palma who devised it (Id., p.
71).
His computer is exclusively for his own use. It is located inside his room which is locked when he is not in the
office. He comes to the office every other day only.
He thought that his computer was safely insulated from third parties, and that he alone had access to it. He was
surprised to discover, when reports of the bar leakage broke out, that his computer was in fact interconnected
with the computers of his nine (9) assistant attorneys (tsn, pp. 30,45). As a matter of fact, the employees - Jovito
M. Salonga and Benjamin R. Katly - of the Courts Management Information Systems Office (MISO) who, upon
the request of Atty. Balgos, were directed by the Investigating Committee to inspect the computer system in his
office, reported that there were 16, not 9, computers connected to each other via Local Area Network (LAN)
and one (1) stand-alone computer connected to the internet (Exh. M). Atty. Balgos law partner, former Justice
Secretary Hernando Perez, also had a computer, but Perez took it away when he became the Secretary of
Justice.
The nine (9) assistant attorneys with computers, connected to Attorney Balgos computer, are:
1. Zorayda Zosobrado (she resigned in July 2003)
2. Claravel Javier
3. Rolynne Torio
4. Mark Warner Rosal
5. Charlynne Subia
6. Danilo De Guzman (resigned on October 22, 2003 [Exh. D])
7. Enrico G. Velasco, managing partner
8. Concepcion De los Santos
9. Pamela June Jalandoni
Upon learning from Justice Vitug of the leakage of the bar questions prepared by him in mercantile law, Atty.
Balgos immediately called together and questioned his office staff. He interrogated all of them except Atty.
Danilo De Guzman who was absent then. All of them professed to know nothing about the bar leakage.

He questioned Silvestre Atienza, the office manager, Atienza is only a second year law student at MLQU. But
he is an expert in installing and operating computers. It was he and/or his brother Gregorio who interconnected
the computers in the law office, including Attorney Balgos computer, without the latters knowledge and
permission.
Atienza admitted to Attorney Balgos that he participated in the bar operations or bar ops of the Beta Sigma
Lambda law fraternity of which he is a member, but he clarified that his participation consisted only of bringing
food to the MLQU bar examinees (Tsn, pp. 46-47, Oct. 24, 2003).
The next day, Attorney Balgos questioned Attorney Danilo De Guzman, also a member of the Beta Sigma
Lambda fraternity, FEU chapter. De Guzman admitted to him that he downloaded the test questions from
Attorney Balgos computer and faxed a copy to a fraternity brother. Attorney Balgos was convinced that De
Guzman was the source of the leakage of his test questions in mercantile law (Tsn, p. 52, Oct. 24, 2003).
Attorney Balgos prepared a COMPARISON (Exh. E) of the juxtaposed final bar questions and his proposed test
questions, with marginal markings made by Justice Vicente V. Mendoza (Ret.), indicating whether the questions
are similar: (S); or different: (D), together with the percentage points corresponding to each question. On the
basis of this comparative table and Atty. Balgos indications as to which questions were the same or different
from those given in the final questionnaire, Justice Mendoza computed the credit points contained in the
proposed leaked questions. The proposed questions constituted 82% of the final bar questions. Attached to this
Report as Annex A is the comparative table and the computation of credit points marked as Exh. E-1.
CHERYL PALMA, 34 years old, private secretary of Attorney Balgos for the past six years, testified that she
did not type the test questions. She admitted, however, that it was she who formatted the questions and printed
one copy as directed by her employer. She confirmed Atty. Balgos testimony regarding her participation in the
operation of his personal computer. She disclosed that what appears in Atty. Balgos computer can be seen in the
neighborhood network if the other computers are open and not in use; that Silvestre Atienza of the accounting
section, can access Atty. Balgos computer when the latter is open and not in use.
ATTORNEY ENRICO VELASCO, managing partner of the firm, testified that on October 16, 2003, he sent De
Guzman a memo (Exh. C) giving him 72 hours to explain in writing why you should not be terminated for
causing the Firm an undeserved condemnation and dishonor because of the leakage aforesaid.
On October 22, 2003, De Guzman handed in his resignation effective immediately. He explained that:
Causing the firm, its partners and members to suffer from undeserved condemnation and humiliation is not only
farthest from, but totally out of, my mind. It is just unfortunate that the incident subject matter of your
memorandum occurred. Rest assured, though, that I have never been part of any deliberate scheme to malign the
good reputation and integrity of the firm, its partners and members. (Exh. D)
DANILO DE GUZMAN testified that he joined Balgos & Perez in April 2000. He obtained his LLB degree
from FEU in 1998. As a student, he was an awardee for academic excellence. He passed the 1998 bar
examinations with a grade of 86.4%. In FEU, he joined the Beta Sigma Lambda law fraternity which has
chapters in MLQU, UE and MSU (Mindanao State University). As a member of the fraternity, he was active
during bar examinations and participated in the fraternitys bar ops.
He testified that sometime in May 2003, when he was exploring Atty. Balgos computer, (which he often did
without the owners knowledge or permission), to download materials which he thought might be useful to save
for future use, he found and downloaded the test questions in mercantile law consisting of 12 pages. He
allegedly thought they were quizzers for a book that Atty. Balgos might be preparing. He saved them in his hard
disk.

He thought of faxing the test questions to one of his fraternity brods, a certain Ronan Garvida who, De Guzman
thought, was taking the 2003 bar examinations. Garvida is also a law graduate from FEU. He had taken the
2002 bar examinations, but did not pass.
On September 17, 2003, four days before the mercantile law bar examination, De Guzman faxed a copy of the
12-page-test questions (Exhs. I, I-1, I-2, I-3) to Garvida because earlier he was informed by Garvida that he was
retaking the bar examinations. He advised Garvida to share the questions with other Betan examinees. He
allegedly did not charge anything for the test questions. Later, after the examination was over, Garvida texted
(sent a text message on his cell phone) him (De Guzman), that he did not take the bar examination.
Besides Garvida, De Guzman faxed the mercantile law bar questions to another fraternity brother named Arlan
(surname unknown), through Reynita (Nanette) Villasis, his secretary (Tsn, pp. 20-28, Oct. 29, 2003). But he
himself faxed the questions to still another brod named Erwin Tan who had helped him during the bar ops in
1998 when he (De Guzman) took the bar examinations (Id., p. 28). He obtained the cell phone numbers of Arlan
and Erwin Tan from Gabby Tanpiengco whom he informed by text message, that they were guide questions, not
tips, in the mercantile law examination.
When he was confronted by Attorney Velasco on Wednesday after the examination, (news of the leakage was
already in all the newspapers), De Guzman admitted to Attorney Velasco that he faxed the questions to his
fraternity brothers, but he did not reveal where he got the test questions.
De Guzman received a text message from Erwin Tan acknowledging that he received the test questions.
However, Erwin informed him that the questions were kalat na kalat (all over the place) even if he did not share
them with others (Tsn, pp. 54-55, Oct. 29, 2003).
De Guzman also contacted Garvida who informed him that he gave copies of the test questions to Betans Randy
Iigo and James Bugain.
Arlan also texted De Guzman that almost all the questions were asked in the examination. Erwin Tan
commented that many of the leaked questions were asked in the examination, pero hindi exacto; mi binago
(they were not exactly the same; there were some changes).
De Guzman tried to text Garvida, but he received no response.
De Guzman disclosed that he learned how to operate a computer from Silvestre Atienza, the office manager, and
through self-study, by asking those who are knowledgeable on computers. He has been using computers since
1997, and he bought his own computer in 2001, a Pentium 3, which he uses at home.
REYNITA VILLASIS, the 36-year-old legal secretary of Attorney De Guzman, submitted her affidavit (Exh. F)
and orally affirmed her participation in the reproduction and transmittal by fax of the leaked test questions in
mercantile law to Ronan Garvida and Arlan, as testified by De Guzman.
RONAN GARVIDA, appeared before the Investigating Committee in compliance with the subpoena that was
issued to him. Garvida graduated from FEU College of Law in 2000. He is about 32 years of age. While still a
student in 1998, he was afflicted with multiple sclerosis or MS, a disease of the nervous system that attacks the
nerve sheaths of the brain and spinal cord. It is a chronic disabling disease although it may have periods of
remission. It causes its victim to walk with erratic, stiff and staggering gait; the hands and fingers may tremble
in performing simple actions; the eyesight can be impaired, and speech may be slow and slurred (p. 737, Vol. 2,
Readers Digest Medical Encyclopedia, 1971 Ed., compiled by Benjamin F. Miller, M.D.). All these symptoms
were present when Garvida testified before the Committee on November 6, 2003 to answer its questions
regarding his involvement in the leakage of the examiners test questions in mercantile law.
Garvida testified that when he was a freshman at FEU, he became a member of the Beta Sigma Lambda
fraternity where he met and was befriended by Attorney De Guzman who was his senior by one and a half
years. Although they had been out of touch since he went home to the province on account of the recurrence of

his illness, De Guzman was able [to] get this cell phone number from his compadre, Atty. Joseph Pajara. De
Guzman told Garvida that he was faxing him possible questions in the bar examination in mercantile law.
Because the test questions had no answers, De Guzman stressed that they were not tips but only possible test
questions.
Garvida had intended to take the 2003 bar examinations. He enrolled in the Consortium Review Center in FEU,
paying P10,000.00 as enrollment fee. However, on his way to the Supreme Court to file his application to take
the bar examination, he suffered pains in his wrist - symptoms that his MS had recurred. His physician advised
him to go to the National Orthopedic Hospital in Quezon City for treatment. This he did.
He gave up his plan to take the 2003 bar examinations. Nevertheless, he continued to attend the review classes
at the Consortium Review Center because he did not want to waste completely the P10,000-enrollment fee that
he paid for the review course (Nahihinayang ako). That was presumably why De Guzman thought that Garvida
was taking the bar exams and sent him a copy of the test questions in mercantile law.
Upon receipt of the test questions, Garvida faxed a copy to his brod Randy Iigo who was reviewing at
the Consortium Review Center. Randy photocopied them for distribution to other fraternity brods. Some of the
brods doubted the usefulness of the test questions, but Randy who has a high regard for De Guzman, believed
that the questions were tips. Garvida did not fax the questions to any other person than Randy Iigo. He allegedly
did not sell the questions to Randy. I could not do that to a brod, he explained.
In view of the fact that one of the copies of the leaked test questions (Exh. H) bore on the left margin a rubber
stamp composed of the Greek initials BEA-MLQU, indicating that the source of that copy was the Beta Sigma
Lambda chapter at MLQU, the Committee subpoenaed Ronald Collado, the Most Illustrious Brother of the Beta
Sigma Lambda fraternity of MLQU.
RONALD COLLADO is a senior law student at the MLQU. He admitted that his fraternity conducted Bar Ops
for the 2003 bar exams. Bar Ops are the biggest activity of the fraternity every year. They start as soon as new
officers of the fraternity are elected in June, and they continue until the bar examinations are over. The bar
operations consist of soliciting funds from alumni brods and friends to be spent in reproducing bar review
materials for the use of their barristers (bar candidates) in the various review centers, providing meals for their
brod-barristers on examination days; and to rent a bar site or place near De la Salle University where the
examinees and the frat members can convene and take their meals during the break time. The Betans bar site for
the 2003 bar examinations was located on Leon Guinto Street, Malate. On September 19 and 21, before [the]
start of the examination, Collados fraternity distributed bar review materials for the mercantile law examination
to the examinees who came to the bar site. The test questions (Exh. H) were received by Collado from a brod,
Alan Guiapal, who had received them from Randy Iigo.
Collado caused 30 copies of the test questions to be printed with the logo and initials of the fraternity (BEAMLQU) for distribution to the 30 MLQU examinees taking the bar exams. Because of time constraints, frat
members were unable to answer the test questions despite the clamor for answers, so, they were given out as is without answers.
DEAN EDUARDO J. F. ABELLA of the Jose Rizal University law school in Mandaluyong City, was the
reviewer in Mercantile Law and Practical Exercises at the Lex Review Center which is operated by the Lex
Review & Seminars Inc., of which Dean Abella is one of the incorporators. He learned about the leakage of test
questions in mercantile law when he was delivering the pre-week lecture on Legal Forms at
the Arellano University. The leaked questions were shown to him by his secretary, Jenylyn Domingo, after the
mercantile law exam. He missed the Saturday lecture in mercantile law because he was suffering from a touch
of flu. He gave his last lecture on the subject on Wednesday or Thursday before the exam. He denied having
bought or obtained and distributed the leaked test questions in Mercantile Law to the bar reviewees in
the Lex Review Center.
FINDINGS

The Committee finds that the leaked test questions in Mercantile Law were the questions which the examiner,
Attorney Marcial O. T. Balgos, had prepared and submitted to Justice Jose C. Vitug, as chairman of the 2003
Bar Examinations Committee. The questions constituted 82% of the questions asked in the examination in
Mercantile Law in the morning of September 21, 2003, Sunday, in some cases with slight changes which were
not substantial and in other cases exactly as proposed by Atty. Balgos. Hence, any bar examinee who was able
to get hold of the leaked questions before the mercantile law examination and answered them correctly, would
have been assured of passing the examination with at least a grade of 82%!
The circumstance that the leaked test questions consisted entirely of test questions prepared by Atty. Balgos,
proves conclusively that the leakage originated from his office, not from the Office of Justice Vitug, the Bar
Examinations Chairman.
Atty. Balgos claimed that the leaked test questions were prepared by him on his computer. Without any
doubt, the source of the leaked test questions was Atty. Balgos computer. The culprit who stole or downloaded
them from Atty. Balgos computer without the latters knowledge and consent, and who faxed them to other
persons, was Atty. Balgos legal assistant, Attorney Danilo De Guzman, who voluntarily confessed the deed to
the Investigating Committee. De Guzman revealed that he faxed the test questions, with the help of his secretary
Reynita Villasis, to his fraternity brods, namely, Ronan Garvida, Arlan (whose surname he could not recall), and
Erwin Tan.
In turn, Ronan Garvida faxed the test questions to Betans Randy Iigo and James Bugain.
Randy Iigo passed a copy or copies of the same questions to another Betan, Alan Guiapal, who gave a copy to
the MLQU-Beta Sigma [Lambdas] Most Illustrious Brother, Ronald F. Collado, who ordered the printing and
distribution of 30 copies to the MLQUs 30 bar candidates.
Attorney Danilo De Guzmans act of downloading Attorney Balgos test questions in mercantile law from the
latters computer, without his knowledge and permission, was a criminal act of larceny. It was theft of
intellectual property; the test questions were intellectual property of Attorney Balgos, being the product of his
intellect and legal knowledge.
Besides theft, De Guzman also committed an unlawful infraction of Attorney Balgos right to privacy of
communication, and to security of his papers and effects against unauthorized search and seizure - rights
zealously protected by the Bill of Rights of our Constitution (Sections 2 and 3, Article III, 1987 Constitution).
He transgressed the very first canon of the lawyers Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that [a]
lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respect for law and legal
processes.
By transmitting and distributing the stolen test questions to some members of the Beta Sigma Lambda
Fraternity, possibly for pecuniary profit and to given them undue advantage over the other examiners in the
mercantile law examination, De Guzman abetted cheating or dishonesty by his fraternity brothers in the
examination, which is violative of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, as well as Canon 7 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility for members of the Bar, which provide:
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct
Canon 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE
LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
De Guzman was guilty of grave misconduct unbecoming a member of the Bar. He violated the law instead of
promoting respect for it and degraded the noble profession of law instead of upholding its dignity and integrity.
His actuations impaired public respect for the Court, and damaged the integrity of the bar examinations as the
final measure of a law graduates academic preparedness to embark upon the practice of law.

However, the Investigating Committee does not believe that De Guzman was solely responsible for the leakage
of Atty. Balgos proposed test questions in the mercantile law examination. The Committee does not believe that
he acted alone, or did not have the assistance and cooperation of other persons, such as:
Cheryl Palma, Atty. Balgos private secretary, who, according to Atty. Balgos himself, was the only person who
knew the password, who could open and close his computer; and who had the key to his office where his
computer was kept. Since a computer may not be accessed or downloaded unless it is opened, someone must
have opened Atty. Balgos computer in order for De Guzman to retrieve the test questions stored therein.
Silvestre Atienza, also a fraternity brod of De Guzman, who was responsible for interconnecting Atty. Balgos
computer with the other computers outside Atty. Balgos room or office, and who was the only other person,
besides Cheryl Palma, who knew the password of Atty. Balgos computer.
The following persons who received from De Guzman, and distributed copies of the leaked test questions,
appear to have conspired with him to steal and profit from the sale of the test questions. They could not have
been motivated solely by a desire to help the fraternity, for the leakage was widespread (kalat na kalat)
according to Erwin Tan. The possible co-conspirators were:
Ronan Garvida,
Arlan,
Erwin Tan,
Randy Iigo,
Ronald Collado, and
Allan Guiapal
The Committee does not believe that De Guzman recklessly broke the law and risked his job and future as a
lawyer, out of love for the Beta Sigma Lambda fraternity. There must have been an ulterior material
consideration for his breaking the law and tearing the shroud of secrecy that, he very well knows, covers the bar
examinations.
On the other hand, the Committee finds that the theft of the test questions from Atty. Balgos computer could
have been avoided if Atty. Balgos had exercised due diligence in safeguarding the secrecy of the test questions
which he prepared. As the computer is a powerful modern machine which he admittedly is not fairly familiar
with, he should not have trusted it to deep secret the test questions that he stored in its hard disk. He admittedly
did not know the password of his computer. He relied on his secretary to use the password to open and close his
computer. He kept his computer in a room to which other persons had access. Unfamiliar with the use of the
machine whose potential for mischief he could not have been totally unaware of, he should have avoided its use
for so sensitive an undertaking as typing the questions in the bar examination. After all he knew how to use the
typewriter in the use of which he is quite proficient. Atty. Balgos should therefore have prepared the test
questions in his trusty typewriter, in the privacy of his home, (instead of his law office), where they would have
been safe from the prying eyes of secretaries and assistant attorneys. Atty. Balgos negligence in the preparation
and safekeeping of his proposed test questions for the bar examination in mercantile law, was not the proximate
cause of the bar leakage; it was, in fact, the root cause. For, if he had taken those simple precautions to protect
the secrecy of his papers, nobody could have stolen them and copied and circulated them. The integrity of the
bar examinations would not have been sullied by the scandal. He admitted that Mali siguro ako, but that was
what happened (43 tsn, Oct. 24, 2003).
R E C O M M E N D AT I O N

This Honorable court in the case of Burbe v. Magulta, A.C. No. 5713, June 10, 2002, 383 SCRA 276,
pronounced the following reminder for lawyers: Members of the bar must do nothing that may tend to lessen in
any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, the honesty and integrity of the profession. In another
case, it likewise intoned: We cannot overstress the duty of a lawyer to at all times uphold the integrity and
dignity of the legal profession. He can do this by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the
courts, and to his clients. (Reyes v. Javier, A.C. No. 5574, February 2, 2002, 375 SCRA 538). It goes without
saying that a lawyer who violates this precept of the profession by committing a gross misconduct which
dishonors and diminishes the publics respect for the legal profession, should be disciplined.
After careful deliberation, the Investigating Committee recommends that:
1. Attorney Danilo De Guzman be DISBARRED for he had shown that he is morally unfit to continue as a
member of the legal profession, for grave dishonesty, lack of integrity, and criminal behavior. In addition, he
should make a written PUBLIC APOLOGY and pay DAMAGES to the Supreme Court for involving it in
another bar scandal, causing the cancellation of the mercantile law examination, and wreaking havoc upon the
image of this institution.
2. Attorney Marcial O. T. Balgos should be REPRIMANDED by the Court and likewise be required to make a
written APOLOGY to the Court for the public scandal he brought upon it as a result of his negligence and lack
of due care in preparing and safeguarding his proposed test questions in mercantile law. As the Court had to
cancel the Mercantile Law examination on account of the leakage of Attorney Balgos test questions, which
comprised 82% of the bar questions in that examination, Atty. Balgos is not entitled to receive any honorarium
as examiner for that subject.
3. FURTHER INVESTIGATION of Danilo De Guzman, Cheryl Palma, Silvestre Atienza, Ronan Garvida,
Arlan, Erwin Tan, Randy Iigo, James Bugain, Ronald Collado and Allan Guiapal by the National Bureau of
Investigation and the Philippine National Police, with a view to their criminal prosecution as probable coconspirators in the theft and leakage of the test questions in mercantile law.
With regard to recommending measures to safeguard the integrity of the bar examinations and prevent a
repetition of future leakage in the said examinations, inasmuch as this matter is at present under study by the
Courts Committee on Legal Education and Bar Matters, as an aspect of proposals for bar reforms, the
Investigating Committee believes it would be well-advised to refrain from including in this report what may
turn out to be duplicative, if not contrary, recommendations on the matter.[3]
The Court adopts the report, including with some modifications the recommendation, of the Investigating
Committee. The Court, certainly will not countenance any act or conduct that can impair not only the integrity
of the Bar Examinations but the trust reposed on the Court.
The Court also takes note that Mr. Jovito M. Salonga and Mr. Benjamin R. Katly, two of its employees
assigned to the Management Information Systems Office (MISO), who were tasked by the Investigating
Committee to inspect the computer system in the office of Atty. Balgos, found that the Courts ComputerAssisted Legal Research (CALR) database[4] was installed in the computer used by Atty. Balgos. Mr. Salonga
and Mr. Katly reported that the system, which was developed by the MISO, was intended for the exclusive use
of the Court. The installation thereof to any external computer would be unauthorized without the permission of
the Court. Atty. Velasco informed the two Court employees that the CALR database was installed by Atty. De
Guzman on the computer being used by Atty. Balgos. The matter would also need further investigation to
determine how Atty. De Guzman was able to obtain a copy of the Courts CALR database.
WHEREFORE, the Court, acting on the recommendations of the Investigating Committee, hereby
resolves to (1) DISBAR Atty. DANILO DE GUZMAN from the practice of law effective upon his receipt of this
RESOLUTION;

(2) REPRIMAND Atty. MARCIAL O.T. BALGOS and DISENTITLE him from receiving
any honorarium as an Examiner in Mercantile Law;
(3) Direct the National Bureau of Investigation (a) to undertake further investigation of Danilo De
Guzman, Cheryl Palma, Silvestre Atienza, Ronan Garvida, Erwin Tan, Randy Iigo, James Bugain,
Ronald Collado and Allan Guiapal with a view to determining their participation and respective
accountabilities in the bar examination leakage and to conduct an investigation on how Danilo De
Guzman was able to secure a copy of the Supreme Courts CALR database.
Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of the records of Danilo De Guzman in the Office of the Bar
Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and copies to be furnished the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines and circulated by the Office of the Court Administrator to all courts.
SO ORDERED.
FLORENCE TEVES MACARRUBO, the Minors JURIS ALEXIS T. MACARRUBO and GABRIEL
ENRICO T. MACARRUBO as represented by their Mother/Guardian, FLORENCE TEVES
MACARRUBO, complainant, vs. ATTY. EDMUNDO L. MACARRUBO, respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
Florence Teves Macarrubo (complainant), by herself and on behalf of her two children, filed on June 6,
2000 a verified complaint[1] for disbarment against Atty. Edmundo L. Macarubbo (respondent) with the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), docketed as CBD Case No. 00-734-A, alleging that respondent deceived
her into marrying him despite his prior subsisting marriage with a certain Helen Esparza.
Detailing the circumstances surrounding respondents complained act, complainant averred that he started
courting her in April 1991, he representing himself as a bachelor; that they eventually contracted marriage
which was celebrated on two occasions administered by Rev. Rogelio J. Bolivar, the first on December 18,
1991[2] in the latters Manila office, and the second on December 28, 1991 [3] at the Asian Institute of Tourism
Hotel in Quezon City; and that although respondent admitted that he was married to Helen Esparza on June 16,
1982, he succeeded in convincing complainant, her family and friends that his previous marriage was void.
Complainant further averred that respondent entered into a third marriage with one Josephine T.
Constantino; and that he abandoned complainant and their children without providing them any regular support
up to the present time, leaving them in precarious living conditions.
Complainant submitted documentary evidence consisting of the marriage contract between respondent and
Helen Esparza[4] and that between her and respondent,[5] and photographs[6] of their (complainant and
respondent) nuptials and of captured moments in their life as a couple and a family.
Copy of the complaint could not be immediately served upon respondent owing to the difficulty of locating
him.[7]
Complainant later filed a Manifestation[8] before the IBP, furnishing therein respondents address where he
supposedly resided with his third wife Jo T. Constantino-Macarubbo. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
thereupon thrice[9] required respondent to file his Answer. He failed to do so, however, on motion of
complainant,[10] he was declared in default.[11]Complainant was thus allowed to present evidence ex parte.
The IBP Investigating Commissioner came out with a Report and Recommendation on January 22, 2001.[12]
By Resolution of May 26, 2001, [13] however, the IBP Board of Governors remanded the case to the
Investigating Commissioner to ensure proper notice or another opportunity to serve notice to the

respondent. Subsequently or on September 5, 2001, respondent filed a Manifestation/Ex Parte Motion to ReOpen Proceedings[14] which was granted.[15]
By Comment of October 18, 2001,[16] respondent denied employing deception in his marriage to
complainant, insisting instead that complainant was fully aware of his prior subsisting marriage to Helen
Esparza, but that she dragged him against his will to a sham wedding to protect her and her familys reputation
since she was then three-months pregnant.
Respondent submitted in evidence the final and executory October 30, 2000 Decision of Branch IV of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tuguegarao City in Civil Case No. 5617, Edmundo L. Macarubbo v. Florence J.
Teves,[17] declaring his marriage to complainant void ab initio. He drew attention to the trial courts findings on
the basis of his evidence which was not controverted, that the marriage was indeed a sham and make believe
one, vitiated by fraud, deceit, force and intimidation, and further exacerbated by the existence of a legal
impediment and want of a valid marriage license.
Respondent also submitted a certification from the National Statistics Office that complainants name does
not appear in the National Index of Marriages for Bride; [18] another certification from the National Statistics
Office-Office of Civil Registrar General that it has no record of the December 28, 1991 marriage of
complainant and respondent;[19] and an attestation from the Office of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Bacoor,
Cavite that Marriage License No. 772176221 which was used in complainant and respondents marriage is not
on file in its records.[20]
Admitting having sired complainants two children, Juris Alexis and Gabriel Enrico, respondent denied ever
abandoning them.
In his Supplemental Comment,[21] respondent claimed that he left complainant and their two children with
her consent after explaining to her that the pain and shame of living in sin and ridicule was unbearable.
To refute the charge that he had abandoned complainant and their two children, he presented copies of fully
paid educational plans[22] for the high school and college education of the children; a Philippine National Bank
check dated January 18, 1999 for P22,556.33 representing his payment of the final amortization of his car which
has been in complainants possession since 1997;[23] a copy of a petition of complainant in a civil case filed
against respondent with the Quezon City RTC, for judicial authorization to sell certain properties of respondent,
wherein she admitted that respondent issued three postdated checks in the amount of P2,000.00 each for his
childrens allowance covering the period October 1999 to December 1999;[24]and copy of his August 9, 1999
letter to complainant demanding custody of his children, he having been barred from seeing them, as well as the
return of his personal properties in complainants possession.[25]
To disprove that he is of depraved moral character, respondent submitted certifications from the Office of
the Bar Confidant,[26] Office of the Ombudsman,[27] Department of Justice,[28]and the Philippine National Police
in his hometown in Enrile, Cagayan [29] that he has no cases of any nature pending with them. And he too
submitted letters from the Department of Interior and Local Government[30] and the Metro Manila Development
Authority[31] addressed to him to show that he is a civic-spirited person.
Finally, respondent, in his Supplemental Comment, raised the additional defenses that the judicial decree of
annulment of his marriage to complainant is res judicata upon the present administrative case; that complainant
is in estoppel for admitting her status as mere live-in partner to respondent in her letter to Josephine T.
Constantino;[32] and that she resorted to forum-shopping in bringing both this administrative action and the civil
case with the Quezon City RTC.
Stressing that he had always been the victim in his marital relations, respondent invoked the final and
executory August 21, 1998 Decision of Branch 158 of the Pasig City RTC in JDRC Case No. 4320, Edmundo
L. Macarubbo v. Helen C. Esparza, [33] declaring his first marriage void on the ground of his wifes psychological
incapacity.

After hearing during which both complainant and respondent took the witness stand, the Investigating
Commissioner rendered a Report and Recommendation[34] the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is recommended that respondent Atty. Edmundo L. Macarrubo
be SUSPENDED FOR THREE MONTHS for gross misconduct reflecting unfavorably on the moral norms of
the profession. Moreover, it must likewise be impressed on respondent that he should comply with the moral
and legal obligations incumbent upon him as a father of the children as a result of his relationship with
complainant. (Underscoring supplied)
The IBP Board of Governors subsequently passed Resolution No. XV-2003-351 [35] which adopted and
approved the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.
The final disposition of the present administrative case is now before this Court.
It appears that respondent began his legal career in 1986 as Legal Officer of the Department of Education,
Culture and Sports after which he became Supervising Civil Service Attorney of the Civil Service Commission.
[36]
He later became an Ombudsman Graft Investigation Officer, then a State Prosecutor of the Department of
Justice, before finally bowing out of public service after about 14 years or in July 2000 to engage in private
practice.[37]
The rule that a lawyer may be disciplined or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his professional or
private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, in probity and good demeanor,
thus rendering him unworthy to continue as an officer of the court[38] bears reiterating.
Upon the evidence on record, respondent is indeed guilty of gross misconduct in his private affairs which
warrant disciplinary action by this Court as the guardian of the purity and integrity of the legal profession.
The incontrovertible facts show that while respondent had a subsisting marriage with Helen Esparza with
whom he had two children,[39] he entered into a second marriage with complainant.
While the marriage between complainant and respondent has been annulled by final judgment, this does not
cleanse his conduct of every tinge of impropriety. He and complainant started living as husband and wife in
December 1991 when his first marriage was still subsisting, as it was only on August 21, 1998 that such first
marriage was annulled, rendering him liable for concubinage. [40] Such conduct is inconsistent with the good
moral character that is required for the continued right to practice law as a member of the Philippine bar. [41] It
imports moral turpitude and is a public assault upon the basic social institution of marriage.[42]
Even assuming arguendo that respondent was coerced by complainant to marry her, the duress, by his own
admission as the following transcript of his testimony reflects, ceased after their wedding day, respondent
having freely cohabited with her and even begot a second child by her.
xxx
ATTY. PAGUIA [Complainants Counsel]
Q: Are you claiming that the complainant coerced you again to marry her?
A: Yes, I was.
Q: Did she use a gun to coerce you?
A: A lot of people appearing around and a lot of bad mouth from her, threats to sue me and to even kill
me by people around.
Q: So insofar as you are concerned the complainant committed a crime of coercion against yourself?

A: Yes.
Q: And is it correct for me to say that you did not file any case before the Prosecutors Office.
A: I reported that matter to the police.
COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION
Q: In what way did M[s]. Florence Teves coerce you?
A: She placed me in a place where she could guard me and she treated (sic) to sue me, destroy my
career. And at the time of the marriage she sent people to fetch me from my place to be there. And
there are a lot of people with strange faces.
ATTY. PAGUIA
Q: How many days or hours did this coercion last?
A: Thats continuing.
Q: From what day to what day?
A: Its started when she said she was pregnant until the date of the alleged marriage.
Q: Can you tell the Honorable Commission who got her pregnant at that time?
A: Although there was a carnal knowledge once.
Q: Of course you know that the complainant delivered the child after your marriage, is it not?
A: Yes, six months after because she was already pregnant three months during that time already.
Q: Can you tell the Honorable Commission what is the name of the child was (sic)?
A: Juris. I recognized the children. Theres no problem about that. I gave them educational plan, I gave
them support.
Q: After the first child you continued living with the complainant, is it not?
A: Intermittently I get out and then she would call pagkat may sakit yong bata so I have to go
back.
Q: Of course it was your responsibility as father to the child to see the condition of the child?
A: Yes, thats why whenever she comes and tells me that the child is sick I go there.
Q: After your wedding with the complainant can you tell the Honorable Commission where you
resided?
COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION
Q: When you say where you resided, both of them?
ATTY. PAGUIA: Yes, Your Honor.
A: In the residence of Florence.

ATTY. PAGUIA
Q: How long did you live with the complainant after your wedding?
A: Intermittently again few months then I get out then when the child is sick I have to visit.
COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION
Q: When you say intermittently you dont stay there?
A: Not permanently.
ATTY. PAGUIA
Q: How often did you come home to the residence of the complainant?
A: Whenever she call that the child is sick.
Q: So you live (sic) with her up to what year?
A: Intermittently 1995.
Q: You mentioned that you have two children with the complainant?
A: Yes.
Q: Can you remember when your second child with the complainant was born?
A: I cannot remember.
Q: Do you know how old the second child with the complainant is?
A: I guess six or seven.
Q: What is his name?
A: Mico.
Q: Who provided the support for these children from the time they were born up to the present?
A: When I was there I gave for their subsistence.
Q: Will you please tell the Commission how much was that?
A: I buy groceries for them and I gave also for their leisure and for their education.
Q: When you gave this support during the intermittently that you had with them?
A: Intermittently also.
A: Roughly, Compaero, can you tell the Honorable Commission from that time they were born to this
time how much you were giving them?
A: I cannot compute.
COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION

Q: What about on a monthly basis, do you recall?


A: I cannot compute although when I left with her consent in 1997 I left valuables in the amount of
P400,000.00.
Q: When you say with her consent, did you tell her that you are leaving?
A: Yes, Your Honor, she agreed because I said I can no longer bear living with sin.
x x x[43] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The saying that photographs do not lie could not be any truer in those submitted in evidence by
complainant which show a typical happy family with respondent essaying out his role as a husband to
complainant and a father to their two kids. Respondent cannot thus take refuge in the earlier mentioned finding
in the decision of Tuguegarao City trial court in the annulment case he filed against complainant. The
decision, rendered in default of complainant, cannot serve as res judicata on the final resolution of the
present case. As this Court held in In re Almacen,[44] a disbarment case is sui generis for it is neither purely civil
nor purely criminal but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers. Thus, if the
acquittal of a lawyer in a criminal action is not determinative of an administrative case against him, [45] or if an
affidavit of withdrawal of a disbarment case does not affect its course,[46] then the judgment of annulment of
respondents marriage does not also exonerate him from a wrongdoing actually committed. So long as the
quantum of proof clear preponderance of evidence in disciplinary proceedings against members of the bar is
met, then liability attaches.[47]
The disturbing fact that respondent was able to secure the annulment of his first two marriages and is in the
process of procuring the annulment of his third bears noting. Contrary to the finding of the Investigating
Commissioner, respondent, by his own admission, contracted a third marriage:
xxx
ATTY. PAGUIA
Q: After getting married to the complainant is it a fact that you entered into a third marriage to one
Josephine Constantino?
A: I think that is . . .
Q: I will reform, Your Honor. Do you know a person by the name of Josephine Constantino?
A: Yes
Q: What relation if any do you have with her?
A: I am separated to her since 2000.
COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION
Q: Were you married to Josephine Constantino?
A: Yes, but its in the process of annulment.
x x x[48] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
In both his marriages to his first wife and to complainant, respondent claimed that he was made to enter
into the marital union against his will. That claim is an affront to the intelligence of the members of this Court

to distinguish fact from fiction, reality from fantasy. It is not easy to believe that a lawyer like respondent could
easily be cowered to enter into any marriage.One incident of a shotgun marriage is believable, but two such in
succession would tax ones credulity. And then, there is a third marriage to Josephine T. Constantino which is
again the subject of another annulment case. It would not come as a surprise if in that pending case, he would
again put blame on his third wife in order to send the marriage to oblivion.
Respondent here has exhibited the vice of entering into multiple marriages and then leaving them behind by
the mere expedient of resorting to legal remedies to sever them. The impact of respondents conduct is
incalculable upon his ex-wives as well as the children he had by them, their lives having been dislocated beyond
recall.
Respondents assertion that he has not failed to support his children by complainant is not totally supported
by the evidence on record. He may have secured educational plans for them and doled out some sums of money
in the past, but it appears that he has failed to provide them regular, monthly support. In fact, he admitted that
even before he left complainants residence in 1995, he was only giving intermittent support to his children with
her.[49]
Such pattern of misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions of marriage and family, institutions
that this society looks to for the rearing of our children, for the development of values essential to the survival
and well-being of our communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole. This must be checked if
not stopped.
As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be
perceived to be of good moral character and must lead a life in accordance with the highest moral standards of
the community.[50] The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such,
including that which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage, [51] outrages the generally
accepted moral standards of the community.
In sum, respondent has breached the following precepts of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
CANON 7 A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support the
activities of the Integrated Bar.
Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he,
whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
There can then be no other fate that awaits respondent, as a consequence of his grossly immoral conduct,
than to be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law.[52] The penalty of 3 months suspension recommended
by the IBP is, not commensurate to the gravity of his conduct.
WHEREFORE, respondent Edmundo L. Macarubbo is found guilty of gross immorality and is hereby
DISBARRED from the practice of law. He is likewise ORDERED to show satisfactory evidence to the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline and to this Court that he is supporting or has made provisions for the regular
support of his two children by complainant.[53]
Let respondents name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.
SO ORDERED.
RE: LETTER OF JUDGE AUGUSTUS C. DIAZ, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON
CITY, BRANCH 37, APPEALING FOR JUDICIAL CLEMENCY.
RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:
In a letter dated July 18, 2007, Judge Augustus C. Diaz, presiding judge of Branch 37 of the Metropolitan Trial
Court of Quezon City, informed the Court that he is an applicant for judgeship in one of the vacant Regional
Trial Court branches in Metro Manila. In connection therewith, he was interviewed by the Judicial and Bar
Council on July 10, 2007. He was told to seek judicial clemency due to the fact that he was once fined P20,000
"for not hearing a motion for demolition." He claims that this lapse happened only once as a result of
"oversight." He requests judicial clemency and, in particular, that he be allowed to "again be nominated to one
of the vacant branches of the Regional Trial Court of Manila or in any of the cities where [his] application [is
being] considered."
In a subsequent letter,1 Judge Diaz stated that he has been the presiding judge of Branch 37 of the Metropolitan
Trial Court of Quezon City since March 1, 1995. He expressed deep remorse for the lapse for which he was
held administratively liable in Alvarez v. Diaz.2 He confessed that "[t]he stain of the penalty has taught [him] a
bitter lesson" and promised to avoid the commission of the same or similar acts. He submitted himself to the
judicious discretion of this Court for whatever action the Court may take on his plea for judicial clemency.
In Alvarez, Judge Diaz was found guilty of gross ignorance of the law when he granted the following motions:
(1) a motion for execution which was fatally defective for lack of notice to the defendant and (2) a motion for
demolition without notice and hearing. His action on the motion for demolition also made him liable for grave
abuse of authority.3 He was fined P20,000.4
Section 5, Rule 4 of the Rules of the Judicial and Bar Council provides:
SEC. 5. Disqualification. The following are disqualified from being nominated for appointment to any judicial
post or as Ombudsman or Deputy Ombudsman:
1. Those with pending criminal or regular administrative cases;
2. Those with pending criminal cases in foreign courts or tribunals; and
3. Those who have been convicted in any criminal case; or in an administrative case, where the
penalty imposed is at least a fine of more than P10,000, unless he has been granted judicial
clemency. 5 (emphasis supplied)
Under the said provision, Judge Diaz is disqualified from being nominated for appointment to any judicial post,
until and unless his request for judicial clemency is granted.
Concerned with safeguarding the integrity of the judiciary, this Court has come down hard 6 and wielded the rod
of discipline against members of the judiciary who have fallen short of the exacting standards of judicial
conduct.7This is because a judge is the visible representation of the law and of justice. 8 He must comport
himself in a manner that his conduct must be free of a whiff of impropriety, not only with respect to the
performance of his official duties but also as to his behavior outside his sala and as a private individual. 9 His
character must be able to withstand the most searching public scrutiny because the ethical principles and sense
of propriety of a judge are essential to the preservation of the peoples faith in the judicial system.101wphi1
Clemency, as an act of mercy removing any disqualification, should be balanced with the preservation of public
confidence in the courts. The Court will grant it only if there is a showing that it is merited. Proof of reformation
and a showing of potential and promise are indispensable.11
In the exercise of its constitutional power of administrative supervision over all courts and all personnel
thereof,12the Court lays down the following guidelines in resolving requests for judicial clemency:
1. There must be proof of remorse and reformation. 13 These shall include but should not be limited to
certifications or testimonials of the officer(s) or chapter(s) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,

judges or judges associations and prominent members of the community with proven integrity and
probity. A subsequent finding of guilt in an administrative case for the same or similar misconduct will
give rise to a strong presumption of non-reformation.
2. Sufficient time must have lapsed from the imposition of the penalty 14 to ensure a period of
reformation.
3. The age of the person asking for clemency must show that he still has productive years ahead of him
that can be put to good use by giving him a chance to redeem himself.15
4. There must be a showing of promise 16 (such as intellectual aptitude, learning or legal acumen or
contribution to legal scholarship and the development of the legal system or administrative and other
relevant skills), as well as potential for public service.17
5. There must be other relevant factors and circumstances that may justify clemency.
In this case, Judge Diaz expressed sincere repentance for his past malfeasance. He humbly accepted the verdict
of this Court in Alvarez. Three years have elapsed since the promulgation of Alvarez. It is sufficient to ensure
that he has learned his lesson and that he has reformed. His 12 years of service in the judiciary may be taken as
proof of his dedication to the institution. Thus, the Court may now open the door of further opportunities in the
judiciary for him.
Accordingly, the letter dated July 18, 2007 of Judge Augustus C. Diaz is hereby NOTED. His request for
judicial clemency is GRANTED.
SO ORDERED.