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* Engagement of private counsel by GOCC

A.C. No. 8096 July 5, 2010 counsel of KWD and stated that the retainership contract
REY J. VARGAS AND EDUARDO A. PANES, JR., of Atty. Ignes had expired on January 14, 2007.
Complainants,
vs. 10
In its letter dated March 2, 2007, the OGCC also
ATTY. MICHAEL A. IGNES, ATTY. LEONARD addressed Eleanor P. Gombas insistence that the
BUENTIPO MANN, ATTY. RODOLFO U. VIAJAR, JR., retainership contract of Atty. Ignes will expire on April 17,
AND ATTY. JOHN RANGAL D. NADUA, Respondents. 2007. The OGCC stated that as stipulated, the KWD or
RESOLUTION OGCC may terminate the contract anytime without need
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: of judicial action; that OGCCs grant of authority to
private counsels is a privilege withdrawable under
Before the Court is a petition for review of Resolution justifiable circumstances; and that the termination of
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No. XVIII-2008-335 passed on July 17, 2008 by the Atty. Igness contract was justified by the fact that the
Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Local Water Utilities Administration had confirmed the
Philippines (IBP) in CBD Case No. 07-1953. The IBP Yaphockun board as the new Board of Directors of KWD
Board of Governors dismissed the disbarment case filed and that said board had terminated Atty. Igness services
by the complainants against the respondents. and requested to hire another counsel.

The facts and proceedings antecedent to this case are Alleging that respondents acted as counsel for KWD
as follows: without legal authority, complainants filed a disbarment
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complaint against the respondents before the IBP
Koronadal Water District (KWD), a government-owned Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), docketed as CBD
and controlled corporation (GOCC), hired respondent Case No. 07-1953. Complainants alleged that
Atty. Michael A. Ignes as private legal counsel for one respondents filed SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case
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(1) year effective April 17, 2006. The Office of the No. 1799 as counsels of KWD without legal authority.
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Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and the They likewise stated in their position paper that Atty.
Commission on Audit (COA) gave their consent to the Ignes continued representing KWD even after the OGCC
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employment of Atty. Ignes. However, controversy later had confirmed the expiration of Atty. Igness contract in
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erupted when two (2) different groups, herein referred to its April 4, 2007 manifestation/motion in Civil Case No.
as the Dela Pea board and Yaphockun board, laid 1796-25 entitled Koronadal Water District (KWD),
claim as the legitimate Board of Directors of KWD. represented herein by its General Manager, Eleanor
Pimentel Gomba v. Supreme Investigative and Security
Agency, represented by its Manager Efren Y. Cabucay.
On December 28, 2006, the members of the Dela Pea
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board filed Civil Case No. 1793 for Injunction and 14
Damages, seeking to annul the appointment of two (2) In his defense, Atty. Mann stated that he and his fellow
directors, Joselito T. Reyes and Carlito Y. Uy, who will respondents can validly represent KWD until April 17,
allegedly connive with Director Allan D. Yaphockun 2007 since Atty. Ignes was not notified of his contracts
whose hostility to the "present" Board of Directors, the pre-termination. Atty. Mann also stated that he stopped
Dela Pea board, is supposedly of public knowledge. representing KWD after April 17, 2007 in deference to
the OGCCs stand. Attys. Ignes, Viajar, Jr. and Nadua
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echoed Atty. Manns defense.
On January 18, 2007, the Dela Pea board also adopted
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Resolution No. 009 appointing respondents Atty. 16
Rodolfo U. Viajar, Jr. and Atty. Leonard Buentipo Mann On March 10, 2008, complainants filed a manifestation
as private collaborating counsels for all cases of KWD before the IBP with the following attachments: (1) the
and its Board of Directors, under the direct supervision transcript of stenographic notes taken on January 28,
and control of Atty. Ignes. 2008 in Civil Case No. 1799, and (2) the notice of appeal
dated February 28, 2008 of the January 7, 2008 Order
dismissing Civil Case No. 1799. Aforesaid transcript
Subsequently, on February 9, 2007, Attys. Ignes, Viajar,
Jr. and Mann filed SCA Case No. 50-24 for Indirect showed that Atty. Ignes appeared as counsel of KWD
6 and Ms. Gomba. He also signed the notice of appeal.
Contempt of Court entitled Koronadal Water District
(KWD), represented herein by its General Manager, 17
Eleanor Pimentel-Gomba v. Efren V. Cabucay, et al. On In his report and recommendation, the Investigating
February 19, 2007, they also filed Civil Case No. 1799 Commissioner recommended that the charge against
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for Injunction and Damages entitled Koronadal Water Atty. Ignes be dismissed for lack of merit. The
District (KWD), represented herein by its General Investigating Commissioner held that Atty. Ignes had
Manager, & Eleanor Pimentel-Gomba v. Rey J. Vargas. valid authority as counsel of KWD for one (1) year, from
On March 9, 2007, KWD and Eleanor Pimentel-Gomba April 2006 to April 2007, and he was unaware of the pre-
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filed a supplemental complaint in Civil Case No. 1799. termination of his contract when he filed pleadings in
SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1799 in
9 February and March 2007.
Meanwhile, in Contract Review No. 079 dated February
16, 2007, the OGCC had approved the retainership
contract of Atty. Benjamin B. Cuanan as new legal As to Attys. Viajar, Jr., Mann and Nadua, the
Investigating Commissioner recommended that they be a private lawyer or law firm. In Phividec Industrial
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fined P5,000 each for appearing as attorneys for a party Authority v. Capitol Steel Corporation, we listed three
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without authority to do so, per Santayana v. Alampay. (3) indispensable conditions before a GOCC can hire a
The Investigating Commissioner found that they failed to private lawyer: (1) private counsel can only be hired in
secure the conformity of the OGCC and COA to their exceptional cases; (2) the GOCC must first secure the
engagement as collaborating counsels for KWD. written conformity and acquiescence of the Solicitor
General or the Government Corporate Counsel, as the
As aforesaid, the IBP Board of Governors reversed the case may be; and (3) the written concurrence of the
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner and COA must also be secured.
dismissed the case for lack of merit.
In the case of respondents, do they have valid authority
Hence, the present petition. to appear as counsels of KWD?

Complainants contend that the IBP Board of Governors We find that Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann had no
erred in dismissing the case because respondents had valid authority to appear as collaborating counsels of
no authority from the OGCC to file the complaints and KWD in SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1799.
appear as counsels of KWD in Civil Case No. 1799, SCA Nothing in the records shows that Atty. Nadua was
Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1796-25. engaged by KWD as collaborating counsel. While the
Complainants point out that the retainership contract of 4th Whereas Clause of Resolution No. 009 partly states
Atty. Ignes had expired on January 14, 2007; that the that he and Atty. Ignes "presently stand as KWD legal
"Notice of Appeal filed by Atty. Ignes, et al." in Civil Case counsels," there is no proof that the OGCC and COA
No. 1799 was denied per Order dated April 8, 2008 of approved Atty. Naduas engagement as legal counsel or
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) "for being filed by one not collaborating counsel. Insofar as Attys. Viajar, Jr. and
duly authorized by law;" and that the authority of Attys. Mann are concerned, their appointment as collaborating
Viajar, Jr. and Mann as collaborating counsels is infirm counsels of KWD under Resolution No. 009 has no
since Resolution No. 009 of the Dela Pea board lacks approval from the OGCC and COA.
the conformity of the OGCC. As a consequence,
according to complainants, respondents are liable for Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann are in the same
willfully appearing as attorneys for a party to a case situation as the private counsel of Phividec Industrial
without authority to do so. Authority in Phividec. In that case, we also ruled that
said private counsel of Phividec Industrial Authority, a
In his comment, Atty. Ignes admits that their authority to GOCC, had no authority to file the expropriation case in
represent KWD had expired on April 17, 2007, but he Phividecs behalf considering that the requirements set
and his fellow respondents stopped representing KWD by Memorandum Circular No. 9 were not complied
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after that date. He submits that they are not guilty of with. Thus, Resolution No. 009 did not grant authority
appearing as counsels without authority. In their to Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann to act as
comment, Attys. Viajar, Jr. and Nadua propound similar collaborating counsels of KWD. That Atty. Ignes was not
arguments. They also say that their fees were paid from notified of the pre-termination of his own retainership
private funds of the members of the Dela Pea board contract cannot validate an inexistent authority of Attys.
and KWD personnel who might need legal Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann as collaborating counsels.
representation, not from the public coffers of KWD. In his
own comment, Atty. Mann submits similar arguments. In the case of Atty. Ignes, he also appeared as counsel
of KWD without authority, after his authority as its
After a careful study of the case and the parties counsel had expired. True, the OGCC and COA
submissions, we find respondents administratively liable. approved his retainership contract for one (1) year
effective April 17, 2006. But even if we assume as true
that he was not notified of the pre-termination of his
At the outset, we note that the parties do not dispute the
need for OGCC and COA conformity if a GOCC hires contract, the records still disprove his claim that he
stopped representing KWD after April 17, 2007.
private lawyers. Nonetheless, we shall briefly recall the
legal basis of this rule. Under Section 10, Chapter 3,
Title III, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, it is Atty. Ignes offered no rebuttal to the verified
the OGCC which shall act as the principal law office of manifestation of complainants filed with the IBP on
all GOCCs. And Section 3 of Memorandum Circular No. March 10, 2008. Attached therein was the transcript of
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9, issued by President Estrada on August 27, 1998, stenographic notes in Civil Case No. 1799 taken on
enjoins GOCCs to refrain from hiring private lawyers or January 28, 2008 when Atty. Ignes argued the extremely
law firms to handle their cases and legal matters. But the urgent motion for the immediate return of the facilities of
same Section 3 provides that in exceptional cases, the the KWD to the KWD Arellano Office. The RTC was
written conformity and acquiescence of the Solicitor compelled to ask him why he seeks the return of KWD
General or the Government Corporate Counsel, as the properties if he filed the motion as counsel of Ms.
case may be, and the written concurrence of the COA Gomba. When the RTC noted that KWD does not
shall first be secured before the hiring or employment of appear to be a party to the motion, Atty. Ignes said that
KWD is represented by Ms. Gomba per the caption of from the public coffers of KWD. To be sure, the facts
the case. Atty. Ignes also manifested that they will file a were clear that they appeared as counsels of KWD
motion for reconsideration of the orders dismissing Civil without authority, and not merely as counsels of the
Case No. 1799 and Civil Case No. 1793. The RTC ruled members of the Dela Pea board and KWD personnel in
that it will not accept any motion for reconsideration in their private suits.
behalf of KWD unless he is authorized by the OGCC, but
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Atty. Ignes later filed a notice of appeal dated February Consequently, for respondents willful appearance as
28, 2008, in Civil Case No. 1799. As the notice of appeal counsels of KWD without authority to do so, there is a
signed by Atty. Ignes was filed by one (1) not duly valid ground to impose disciplinary action against them.
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authorized by law, the RTC, in its Order dated April 8, Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a
2008, denied due course to said notice of appeal. member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from
his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any
As we see it, Atty. Ignes portrayed that his appearance deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such
on January 28, 2008 was merely as counsel of Ms. office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
Gomba. He indicted himself, however, when he said that conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any
Ms. Gomba represents KWD per the case title. In fact, violation of the oath which he is required to take before
the extremely urgent motion sought the return of the admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any
facilities of KWD to its Arellano Office. Clearly, Atty. lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully
Ignes filed and argued a motion with the interest of KWD appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without
in mind. The notice of appeal in Civil Case No. 1799 authority to do so.
further validates that Atty. Ignes still appeared as
counsel of KWD after his authority as counsel had Disbarment, however, is the most severe form of
expired. This fact was not lost on the RTC in denying disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power to disbar
due course to the notice of appeal. must always be exercised with great caution, and should
be imposed only for the most imperative reasons and in
Now did respondents willfully appear as counsels of clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and
KWD without authority? moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court
and member of the bar. Accordingly, disbarment should
The following circumstances convince us that, indeed, not be decreed where any punishment less severe such
respondents willfully and deliberately appeared as as a reprimand, suspension or fine, would accomplish
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counsels of KWD without authority. One, respondents the end desired. In Santayana, we imposed a fine of
have admitted the existence of Memorandum Circular P5,000 on the respondent for willfully appearing as an
No. 9 and professed that they are aware of our ruling in attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so.
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Phividec. Thus, we entertain no doubt that they have The respondent therein also appeared as private
full grasp of our ruling therein that there are counsel of the National Electrification Administration, a
indispensable conditions before a GOCC can hire GOCC, without any approval from the OGCC and COA.
private counsel and that for non-compliance with the
requirements set by Memorandum Circular No. 9, the Conformably with Santayana, we impose a fine of
private counsel would have no authority to file a case in P5,000 on each respondent.
behalf of a GOCC. Still, respondents acted as counsels On another matter, we note that respondents stopped
of KWD without complying with what the rule requires. short of fully narrating what had happened after the RTC
They signed pleadings as counsels of KWD. They issued four (4) orders on March 24, 2007 and on April
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presented themselves voluntarily, on their own volition, 13, 2007 in Civil Case No. 1799. As willingly revealed
as counsels of KWD even if they had no valid authority by complainants, all four (4) orders were nullified by the
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to do so. Court of Appeals. We are compelled to issue a
reminder that our Code of Professional Responsibility
Two, despite the question on respondents authority as requires lawyers, like respondents, to always show
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counsels of KWD which question was actually raised candor and good faith to the courts. 1awphi1
earlier in Civil Case No. 1799 by virtue of an urgent WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed
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motion to disqualify KWDs counsels dated February Resolution No. XVIII-2008-335 passed on July 17, 2008 by the
27 IBP Board of Governors in CBD Case No. 07-1953 is
21, 2007 and during the hearing on February 23, 2007 REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
respondents still filed the supplemental complaint in the Respondents Attys. Michael A. Ignes, Leonard Buentipo Mann,
case on March 9, 2007. And despite the pendency of Rodolfo U. Viajar, Jr., and John Rangal D. Nadua are found
this case before the IBP, Atty. Ignes had to be reminded GUILTY of willfully appearing as attorneys for a party to a case
by the RTC that he needs OGCC authority to file an without authority to do so and FINED P5,000 each, payable to
intended motion for reconsideration in behalf of KWD. this Court within ten (10) days from notice of this Resolution.
They are STERNLY WARNED that a similar offense in the
future will be dealt with more severely.
With the grain of evidence before us, we do not believe Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to respondents
that respondents are innocent of the charge even if they personal records in the Office of the Bar Confidant.
insist that the professional fees of Attys. Nadua, Viajar, SO ORDERED.
Jr. and Mann, as collaborating counsels, were paid not
G.R. No. 176530 June 16, 2009 land was covered by the CARP, and CLOAs had been
awarded to tenants. Respondents opposed the motion,
SPOUSES CONSTANTE AGBULOS AND ZENAIDA arguing that the motion had been filed beyond the period
PADILLA AGBULOS, Petitioners, for filing an Answer, that the RTC had jurisdiction over
the case based on the allegations in the complaint, and
that the DARAB had no jurisdiction since the parties had
vs.
no tenancy relationship.
NICASIO GUTIERREZ, JOSEFA GUTIERREZ and 2
In an Order dated October 24, 2002, the RTC granted
ELENA G. GARCIA, Respondents.
the petitioners motion and dismissed the complaint for
lack of jurisdiction. The RTC held that the DARAB had
RESOLUTION jurisdiction, since the subject property was under the
CARP, some portions of it were covered by registered
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NACHURA, J.: CLOAs, and there was prima facie showing of tenancy.

This petition for review on certiorari seeks the review of Respondents filed a motion for reconsideration. On
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the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated November 13, 2003, the RTC denied the motion.
February 6, 2007 in CAG.R. CV No. 83994 which set
aside the dismissal of a complaint for declaration of 5
Atty. Magbitang filed a Notice of Appeal with the RTC,
nullity of contract, cancellation of title, reconveyance and 6
which gave due course to the same. The records reveal
damages. that on December 15, 2003, respondent Elena G. Garcia
wrote a letter to Judge Arturo M. Bernardo, Acting Judge
The case stems from the following antecedents: of RTC Gapan, Branch 87, stating that they were
surprised to receive a communication from the court
On October 16, 1997, respondents, Dr. Nicasio G. informing them that their notice of appeal was ready for
Gutierrez, Josefa Gutierrez de Mendoza and Elena G. disposition. She also stated in the letter that there was
Garcia, through their counsel, Atty. Adriano B. no formal agreement with Atty. Magbitang as to whether
Magbitang, filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of they would pursue an appeal with the CA, because one
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Gapan, Nueva Ecija, a complaint against petitioners, of the plaintiffs was still in America.
spouses Constante Agbulos and Zenaida Padilla
Agbulos, for declaration of nullity of contract, On February 6, 2007, the CA rendered a Decision in
cancellation of title, reconveyance and damages. The favor of respondents. The dispositive portion of the
complaint alleged that respondents inherited from their decision reads:
father, Maximo Gutierrez, an eight-hectare parcel of land
located in Callos, Penaranda, Nueva Ecija, covered by WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. NT-123790 in the hereby GRANTED and the assailed Order dated
name of Maximo Gutierrez. Through fraud and deceit, October 24, 2002 issued by the Regional Trial Court
petitioners succeeded in making it appear that Maximo (RTC) of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, Branch 87, is REVERSED
Gutierrez executed a Deed of Sale on July 21, 1978 and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the subject complaint is
when, in truth, he died on April 25, 1977. As a result, reinstated and the records of the case is (sic) hereby
TCT No. NT-123790 was cancelled and a new one, TCT remanded to the RTC for further proceedings.1avvphi1
No. NT-188664, was issued in the name of petitioners.
Based on the notation at the back of the certificate of 8
title, portions of the property were brought under the SO ORDERED.
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and
awarded to Lorna Padilla, Elenita Nuega and Suzette The CA concluded that the dispute between the parties
Nuega who were issued Certificates of Land Ownership was purely civil, not agrarian, in nature. According to the
Award (CLOAs). CA, the allegations in the complaint revealed that the
principal relief sought was the nullification of the
purported deed of sale and reconveyance of the subject
In their defense, petitioners averred that respondents
property. It also noted that there was no tenurial,
were not the real parties in interest, that the Deed of
Sale was regularly executed before a notary public, that leasehold, or any other agrarian relations between the
parties.
they were possessors in good faith, and that the action
had prescribed.
Thus, this petition, raising the following issues for the
resolution of this Court:
On the day set for the presentation of the respondents
(plaintiffs) evidence, petitioners filed a Motion to
Dismiss, assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC over the 1. Whether or not the CA erred in not dismissing the
subject matter of the case. Petitioners contended that appeal despite the undisputed fact that Atty. Magbitang
the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board filed the notice of appeal without respondents
(DARAB), not the RTC, had jurisdiction since the subject knowledge and consent;
2. Whether or not the CA erred in giving due course to elements of a tenancy relationship, to wit: (1) that the
the appeal despite the fact that Atty. Magbitangs parties are the landowner and the tenant or agricultural
appellants brief failed to comply with the mandatory lessee; (2) that the subject matter of the relationship is
requirements of Section 13, Rule 44 of the Rules of an agricultural land; (3) that there is consent between
Court regarding the contents of an appellants brief; and the parties to the relationship; (4) that the purpose of the
relationship is to bring about agricultural production; (5)
3. Whether or not the CA erred in ruling that the RTC that there is personal cultivation on the part of the tenant
(Regional Trial Court), not the DARAB (Department of or agricultural lessee; and (6) that the harvest is shared
Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board) or the between the landowner and the tenant or agricultural
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PARAD/RARAD (Provincial/Regional Agrarian Provincial lessee.
Agrarian Reform Adjudicator), has jurisdiction over
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respondents complaint. Basic is the rule that jurisdiction is determined by the
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allegations in the complaint. Respondents complaint
The CA did not err in giving due course to the appeal, on did not contain any allegation that would, even in the
both procedural and substantive grounds. slightest, imply that there was a tenancy relation
between them and the petitioners. We are in full
agreement with the following findings of the CA on this
A lawyer who represents a client before the trial court is
point:
presumed to represent such client before the appellate
court. Section 22 of Rule 138 creates this presumption,
thus: x x x A reading of the material averments of the
complaint reveals that the principal relief sought by
plaintiffs-appellants is for the nullification of the
SEC. 22. Attorney who appears in lower court presumed
supposedly forged deed of sale which resulted in the
to represent client on appeal. An attorney who
issuance of TCT No. NT-188664 covering their 8-hectare
appears de parte in a case before a lower court shall be
property as well as its reconveyance, and not for the
presumed to continue representing his client on appeal,
unless he files a formal petition withdrawing his cancellation of CLOAs as claimed by defendants-
appearance in the appellate court. appellees. Moreover, the parties herein have no tenurial,
leasehold, or any other agrarian relations whatsoever
that could have brought this controversy under the ambit
A reading of respondent Elena Garcias letter to the RTC of the agrarian reform laws. Neither were the CLOA
would show that she did not actually withdraw Atty. awardees impleaded as parties in this case nor the
Magbitangs authority to represent respondents in the latters entitlement thereto questioned. Hence, contrary
case. The letter merely stated that there was, as yet, no to the findings of the RTC, the herein dispute is purely
agreement that they would pursue an appeal. civil and not agrarian in nature falling within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the trial courts.
In any case, an unauthorized appearance of an attorney
may be ratified by the client either expressly or impliedly. On the alleged deficiency of the appellants brief filed
Ratification retroacts to the date of the lawyers first before the CA by the respondents, suffice it to state that
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appearance and validates the action taken by him. the requirements in Section 13, Rule 44 are intended to
Implied ratification may take various forms, such as by aid the appellate court in arriving at a just and proper
silence or acquiescence, or by acceptance and retention resolution of the case. Obviously, the CA found the
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of benefits flowing therefrom. Respondents silence or appellants brief sufficient in form and substance as the
lack of remonstration when the case was finally elevated appellate court was able to arrive at a just decision. We
to the CA means that they have acquiesced to the filing have repeatedly held that technical and procedural rules
of the appeal. are intended to help secure, not to suppress, substantial
justice. A deviation from a rigid enforcement of the rules
Moreover, a lawyer is mandated to "serve his client with may, thus, be allowed in order to attain this prime
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competence and diligence." Consequently, a lawyer is objective for, after all, the dispensation of justice is the
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entreated not to neglect a legal matter entrusted to him; core reason for the existence of courts.
otherwise, his negligence in connection therewith shall
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render him liable. In light of such mandate, Atty. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is
Magbitangs act of filing the notice of appeal without DENIED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated February
waiting for her clients to direct him to do so was 6, 2007 is AFFIRMED.
understandable, if not commendable.
SO ORDERED.
The CA was likewise correct in holding that the case is
within the jurisdiction of the RTC, not the DARAB.

For the DARAB to have jurisdiction over a case, there


must be a tenancy relationship between the parties. It is,
therefore, essential to establish all the indispensable
G.R. No. 82760 August 30, 1990 On 18 April 1979, petitioner filed before this Court a
FELIMON MANANGAN, petitioner, Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus with
vs. Writ of Preliminary Injunction entitled "Filemon de Asis
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NUEVA VIZCAYA, Manangan v. Court of First Instance, et al.," in UDK No.
BRANCH 28, respondent. 3906, assailing the jurisdiction of respondent Court to try
the criminal case and seeking to stay the Order of Arrest
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.: of 30 June 1978. The petition was dismissed on 7 May
1979 for non-payment of legal fees (p. 99, Rollo).
For abuse of Court processes, hopping from one forum
to another, filing a labyrinth of cases and pleadings, On 10 and 18 July 1978, the dates set for preliminary
thwarting the smooth prosecution of Criminal Case No. investigation, petitioner did not show up and, in fact,
639 against him for no less than twelve (12) years, and disappeared for about a year.
for masquerading as Filemon Manangan when his real
name is Andres Culanag, petitioner has brought upon On 31 July 1978, a Second Amended Information was
himself the severest censure and a punishment for filed (Comment, Solicitor General, p. 61, Rollo), this time
contempt. The Petition for Certiorari he has filed likewise Identifying the accused as "Andres Culanag (alias
calls for dismissal. Andres M. Culanag, Filemon Manangan Atty. Filemon A.
Manangan and Atty. Ross V. Pangilinan)."
The Petition, Amended Petition, and Second Amended
Petition seek the annulment of the entire proceedings in On 8 July 1979, petitioner surfaced and, through
Criminal Case No. 639 of respondent Court, including counsel, posted a bailbond with the Municipal Circuit
the Alias Warrant of Arrest issued by it, dated 19 July Court of San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur (Resolution of
1979, "for being stale/functus officio." It is claimed, inter the RTC, Nueva Vizcaya, 25 March 1983, Annex B,
alia, that respondent Court committed grave abuse of Petition, p. 2).
discretion in making it appear that petitioner was duly
tried and convicted when the contrary was true, and that
On 19 July 1979, an Alias Warrant of Arrest was by
the Alias Warrant of Arrest was irregularly issued Judge Gabriel Dunuan. It is this Alias Warrant that is
because respondent Court had already accepted a
challenged herein.
property bond.
On 12 September 1979, petitioner filed an ex-parte
In the Amended Petition, petitioner further alleges that Motion to Dismiss the Criminal Case, which was denied
respondent Court had irregularly assumed jurisdiction as by respondent Court (see CA-G.R. No. 11588-SP, p. 2).
it is the Sandiganbayan that has exclusive original
jurisdiction over the case considering that he was Legal
Officer I of the Bureau of Lands, Region II, and that he Petitioner then resorted to a Petition for Certiorari and
had supposedly committed the offense in relation to that Mandamus before the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No.
office. 11588-SP entitled "Filemon Manangan v. Director of
Lands and CFI of Nueva Vizcaya." The Petition sought
to (1) nullify the decision of the Director of Lands, dated
Piecing together the facts from the hodgepodge of 27 March 1980, finding petitioner guilty of extortion,
quotations from the Decisions in the different cases filed
impersonation and abandonment of office and ordering
by petitioner, we recite the relevant ones below.
his dismissal from the service; and (2) "require
respondent CFI of Nueva Ecija to dismiss Criminal Case
On 7 November 1977, petitioner, representing himself as No. 639 pending in its Court." In a Decision, promulgated
a lawyer, was appointed Legal Officer I of the Bureau of on 27 February 1981, the Appellate Court dismissed the
Lands in Region II (p. 98, Rollo). Petition for "absolute lack of legal and factual basis" and
holding, among others, that "the non-withdrawal of the
On 30 June 1978, Criminal Case No. 639 entitled Information for execution of deeds by intimidation . . . is
"People v. Filemon Manangan alias Andres Culanag" not covered by mandamus" (hereinafter, the German
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(Annex D, Petition, Rollo, UDK 3906, p. 20) was filed Decision).
before the then Court of First Instance of Nueva Vizcaya,
First Judicial District, Bayombong, charging petitioner On 30 October 1981, before respondent Court, a Motion
with "Execution of Deeds by Intimidation" under Article for Reconsideration was filed by petitioner, ostensibly
298 of the Revised Penal Code (the Criminal Case, for through counsel, Atty. Benjamin Facun, asking that the
short). Apparently, the Director of Lands had given his Criminal Case be dismissed on the ground that the
imprimatur to the charge. accused had already died on 29 September 1971 such
that respondent Court had not acquired jurisdiction over
On the same date, an Order of Arrest was issued by his person. The Motion was denied.
then Judge Gabriel Dunuan of respondent Court (Rollo,
UDK 3906, p. 21). On 22 February 1982, erroneously construing the
German Decision as a final judgment of conviction,
respondent Court reset the promulgation to 19 April respondent Court ordered the case archived until such
1982 and ordered the bondsmen to produce the body of time that the accused is brought to the Court.
the accused on said date (Annex A, Petition). Realizing
the mistake, on 9 July 1982, respondent Court vacated On 19 June 1986, counsel for petitioner-accused filed a
said order and ruled that "the warrant of arrest issued by Motion to Quash on the grounds that: "(1) the court
this Court through Judge Gabriel Dunuan on 19 July trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense
1979, shall remain in full force and effect" (Annex F, charged or the person of the accused; and (2) the
Petition). accused has been previously convicted or in jeopardy of
being convicted of the offense charged."
On 25 June 1982, petitioner again resorted to the Court
of Appeals in another Petition for Certiorari (CA-G.R. No. It was at that stage of the case below, without awaiting
SP-14428) filed by one Atty. Benjamin Facun as counsel disposition on the Motion to Quash, that the present
for petitioner, this time praying for the annulment of the Petition was instituted.
proceedings in the Criminal Case "on the ground that the
accused was already dead when the decision finding
The obvious conclusion from the recital of facts given is
him guilty of the crime . . . was rendered." The pleading
that the Petition is without merit. Petitioner-accused had
alleged "that petitioner is of age, Filipino, deceased, but
a pending Motion to Quash before respondent Court and
has come to this Honorable Court through counsel. . . ."
should have awaited resolution thereon. He had a plain,
In a Decision promulgated on 29 November 1982,
speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of
Certiorari was denied for being devoid of merit inasmuch
law and resort to this Petition is decidedly premature.
as "there is nothing on record to show that such
dismissal had been sought before the decision was
2
rendered" (briefly, the Kapunan Decision). (Actually, no Contrary to petitioner's pretensions, the Alias Warrant of
judgment has been rendered by respondent Court). Arrest is valid. Petitioner had evaded arrest by
disappearing from the jurisdiction of respondent Court.
Neither is there any indication in the records that the
Unfazed by the adverse Kapunan Decision, the property bond, filed by petitioner-accused in the
supposed heirs of the accused, on 10 February 1983, Municipal Circuit Court of San Miguel, Zamboanga del
filed a Manifestation before respondent Court asking for
Sur, had been accepted by respondent Court and
the dismissal and termination of the Criminal Case on
petitioner discharged on the basis thereof. The Alias
the same ground that the accused had allegedly died.
Warrant is not "stale or functus officio," as alleged.
Unlike a warrant, which is valid for only ten (10) days
On 25 March 1983, Judge Quirino A. Catral of from date (Rule 126, Sec. 9), a Warrant of Arrest
respondent Court refused to declare the case closed and remains valid until arrest is effected or the Warrant lifted.
terminated inasmuch as the accused was alive on 8 July Respondent Court, therefore, cannot be faulted with
1979 when he posted his bailbond (citing the Kapunan grave abuse of discretion for holding that said Warrant is
Decision) and reiterated that the "alias warrant issued by in full force and effect.
the Court on July 19, 1979 which up to the present has
not yet been served upon the accused as in full force
Although there may have been some initial confusion on
and effect."
the part of respondent Court arising from the Kapunan
Decision, that was timely rectified. In the final analysis,
For the third time, the case was elevated to the then respondent Court has not made it appear that petitioner-
Intermediate Appellate Court in AC-G.R. No. SP-00707, accused has already been arraigned and tried, let alone
entitled "Heirs of the Deceased Filemon Manangan v. convicted. No jeopardy has attached, as alleged. Again,
Hon. Quirino A. Catral, etc." The Petition sought to annul therefore, no grave abuse of discretion can be attributed
the Order of Judge Catral of 25 March 1983 denying the to respondent Court.
closure and termination of the Criminal Case.
Petitioner's argument in his Amended Petition and
On 28 May 1983, the then IAC, after quoting at length Second Amended Petition that it is the Sandiganbayan
from the Kapunan Decision and the Catral Order, that has exclusive jurisdiction over the Criminal Case
dismissed the Petition (hereinafter, the Aquino Decision) neither holds water considering that not only is he
3
holding, inter alia, that "whether or not its denial of the ineligible for the position of Legal Officer I in the Bureau
motion to dismiss that case constitutes a grave abuse of of Lands, Region II, for not being a lawyer, but also
discretion, was already passed upon by this Court in CA- because he was dismissed from the service on 27 March
G.R. No. SP-14428 (Kapunan Decision), hence, it is res 1980 by the Director of Lands, who found him, with the
adjudicata. It may not be litigated anew, no matter what approval of the Minister of Natural Resources, guilty of
form the action for that purpose may take." extortion, impersonation and abandonment of office CA-
G.R. No. 11588-SP, p. 2).
On 28 June 1984, before the respondent Court,
petitioner-accused filed an Omnibus Motion with Motion The foregoing conclusions could dispose of the case.
for New Trial, which was denied for lack of merit in the
Order of 19 November 1984. In the same Order,
However, on 8 June 1989, the Solicitor General filed a a petition with this Court praying that his right to practice
"Manifestation/Motion to Strike Out" the present petition law be affirmed (Misc. Bar-I and Misc. Bar-2). In those
for being fictitious and that by reason thereof petitioner cases, we ruled that petitioner Filemon Manangan is
should be cited for contempt of Court. The Solicitor "really Andres Culanag, an impostor;" dismissed the
General has also prayed that he be excused from filing a petitions; and directed Andres Culanag to show cause
Comment on petitioner's Second Amended Petition, why he should not be punished for contempt for filing the
which we resolve to grant. two false petitions (In re: Andres Culanag, September
30, 1971, 41 SCRA 26). He explained that "he thought
The Solicitor General maintains that a re-examination of this Court would not discover that he is a poseur, for
the records in the Criminal shows that: which reason he apologizes to the Court promising that
he would not commit the same act if he is excused and
given another chance." On 12 November 1971, after
a. Filemon A. Manangan is only an alias of Andres M.
finding his explanation unsatisfactory, we adjudged him
Culanag, the person charged in Criminal Case No. 639;
guilty of indirect contempt of Court under Rule 71,
4
Section 3(e) of the Rules of Court and sentenced him
b. Filemon A. Manangan was a lawyer from San to suffer imprisonment for six (6) months.
Marcelino, Zambales, who died on September 29, 1971 Parenthetically, we also take judicial notice of Bar Matter
in the vicinity of his residence where he and his driver No. 190, entitled "In Re Andres Culanag alias Atty. Ross
died on the spot; and V. Pangilinan" and Bar Matter No. 206, entitled "Eriberto
H. Decena vs. Andres Culanag" wherein, on 9 October
c. [Andres M. Culanag] knew the real Filemon 1984, this Court Resolved "to direct that petitioner be
Manangan and knowing about the latter's death, subjected to mental examination by a doctor from the
assumed the name, qualifications and other personal National Mental Hospital" after noting that petitioner was
circumstances of Filemon Manangan. By means thereof, suffering from some kind of mental alienation. This
he was able to pass himself off as a lawyer and to mitigates somewhat petitioner's present liability for
actually practice law, using even the Certificate of contempt.
Admission to the Philippine Bar of Filemon Manangan It is the height of chicanery, indeed, that despite the
which states that he was admitted to the Bar on March 6, foregoing antecedents, petitioner still has the gall to
1964. By this guise, [Andres M. Culanag] succeeded in claim that he is, in truth and in fact, Filemon Manangan.
obtaining a position as legal Officer I in the Bureau of The evidence on hand, without need for more, and with
Lands. petitioner having been sufficiently heard, amply
establishes that petitioner Filemon Manangan, is an
In opposition, petitioner maintains that he is not a impostor. He is guilty of continued fraudulent
fictitious person, having been born out of the lawful misrepresentation and highly improper conduct tending
wedlock of Segundino Manangan and Felipa Asis; and directly to impede, obstruct, degrade, and make a
that assuming that there is sufficient basis to charge him mockery of the administration of justice (Rule 71, Sec. 3
for contempt, it will no longer prosper on the ground of [d]).
prescription. While it may be that some pronouncements in the
pertinent decisions allude to Filemon Manangan and that
Petitioner's posturings are completely bereft of basis. As Andres Culanag is just an alias of Filemon Manangan,
the Solicitor General had also disclosed in the German those statements actually refer to the person of Andres
Decision, petitioner [Andres Culanag] had, on 23 Culanag and not to the real Filemon Manangan, long
February 1977, filed Sp. Procs. No. 23 with the Court of since dead.
First Instance of Nueva Ecija, San Jose City Branch, for The action for contempt has not prescribed since it is
the change of his name from Andres Culanag to Filemon apparent that the contumacious acts continue to this
Manangan. In that petition, he claimed that his real name day.
is Andres Culanag; that his entire school records carry
his name as Filemon Manangan: and that he is the same WHEREFORE, (1) the Petition, Amended Petition, and the
person as Andres Culanag, the latter being his real Second Amended Petition are hereby dismissed for utter lack
name. The imprisonment was carried to the extreme of merit; (2) petitioner is adjudged in contempt of Court,
severely censured, and sentenced to suffer three (3) months
when, in petitioner's Manifestation, dated 10 February
imprisonment, the same to be served at the Provincial Jail of
1983, before respondent Court, his supposed heirs Nueva Vizcaya to ensure his appearance during the trial of the
alleged that accused had died before the filing of the subject criminal case; (3) respondent Court is hereby directed
Information on 29 September 1971, the exact date of to retrieve Criminal Case No. 639 from its archives and to
death of the real Filemon Manangan. More, petitioner proceed to its determination with deliberate dispatch; (4) all
also masquerades under the name of Atty. Benjamin M. Courts are directed not to recognize any person representing
Facun in the several pleadings filed in connection with himself as Filemon Manangan, Atty. Filemon Manangan, or
the Criminal Case. Atty. Benjamin M. Facun; and (5) petitioner's real name is
declared to be Andres Culanag.

In the German Decision, it was additionally pointed out


Treble costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED.
that petitioner had also committed imprisonation when,
representing himself as Atty. Ross V. Pangilinan, he filed
[A.C. No. 5829. October 28, 2003] A day or a few days before December 23, 1998 when
[if !supportFootnotes][5][endif]
complainant left for France, he, on
DANIEL LEMOINE, complainant, vs. ATTY. AMADEO the advice of respondent, signed an already prepared
[if !supportFootnotes][6][endif]
E. BALON, JR., respondent. undated Special Power of Attorney
authorizing respondent and/or Garcia to bring any action
against Metropolitan Insurance for the satisfaction of
DECISION
complainants claim as well as to negotiate, sign,
compromise[,] encash and receive payment from it. The
PER CURIAM: Special Power of Attorney was later dated December 23,
1998 on which same date Metropolitan Insurance issued
On December 17, 1999, complainant Daniel Lemoine, a a Chinabank Check No. 841172 payable to
[if
French national, filed a verified complaint complainant in the amount of P525,000.00 as full
!supportFootnotes][1][endif] [if !supportFootnotes][7][endif]
against respondent Atty. Amadeo E. settlement of the claim. The check
Balon, Jr., for estafa and misconduct before the was received by respondent.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The case, docketed as
CBD Case No. 99-679, was referred by the Commission In the meantime, complainant returned to the Philippines
on Bar Discipline to an Investigator for investigation, in early January 1999 but left again on the 24th of the
report and recommendation. same month.
[if !supportFootnotes][8][endif]
On inquiry about the
status of his claim, Garcia echoed to complainant what
The facts that spawned the filing of the complaint are as respondent had written him (Garcia) in respondents
[if !supportFootnotes][9][endif]
follows: letter of March 26, 1999 that the
claim was still pending with Metropolitan Insurance and
In early 1998, complainant filed a car insurance claim that it was still subject of negotiations in which
with the Metropolitan Insurance Company (Metropolitan Metropolitan Insurance offered to settle it for
Insurance), the insurer of his vehicle which was lost. As P350,000.00 representing fifty percent thereof. In the
complainant encountered problems in pursuing his claim same letter to Garcia, respondent suggested the
[if !supportFootnotes][2][endif]
which was initially rejected, his friend, acceptance of the offer of settlement to avoid a
a certain Jesus Jess Garcia (Garcia), arranged for the protracted litigation.
engagement of respondents services.
On December 6, 1999, on complainants personal visit to
[if !supportFootnotes][3][endif]
By letter of October 21, 1998 the office of Metropolitan Insurance, he was informed
addressed to Elde Management, Inc., ATTN: Mr. Daniel that his claim had long been settled via a December 23,
[if
Lemoine, under whose care complainant could be 1998 check given to respondent the year before.
!supportFootnotes][10][endif]
reached, respondent advised complainant, whom he had Complainant lost no time in going to
not before met, that for his legal services he was the law office of respondent who was not around,
charging 25% of the actual amount being recovered. . . however, but whom he was able to talk by telephone
payable upon successful recovery; an advance payment during which he demanded that he turn over the
[if !supportFootnotes][11][endif]
of P50,000.00 to be charged [to complainant] to be proceeds of his claim.
deducted from whatever amount [would] be successfully
collected; P1,000.00 as appearance and conference fee Respondent thereupon faxed to complainant a
[if !supportFootnotes][12][endif]
for each and every court hearings, conferences outside December 7, 1999 letter wherein he
our law office and meetings before the Office of the acknowledged having in his possession the proceeds of
Insurance Commission which will be also charged to our the encashed check which he retained, however, as
25% recovery fee; and legal expenses such as but not attorneys lien pending complainants payment of his
limited to filing fee, messengerial and postage expenses attorneys fee, equivalent to fifty percent (50%) of entire
. . . and other miscellaneous but related expenses, to be amount collected. In the same letter, respondent
charged to complainants account which would be protested what he branded as the uncivilized and
reimbursed upon presentation of statement of account. unprofessional behavior complainant reportedly
demonstrated at respondents office. Respondent winded
The letter-proposal of respondent regarding attorneys up his letter as follows, quoted verbatim:
fees does not bear complainants conformity, he not
having agreed therewith. We would like to make it clear that we cannot give you the
aforesaid amount until and unless our attorneys fees will be
It appears that Metropolitan Insurance finally offered to forthwith agreed and settled. In the same manner, should you
[if
settle complainants claim, for by letter be barbaric and uncivilized with your approached, we will not
!supportFootnotes][4][endif]
of December 9, 1998 addressed to it, hesitate to make a proper representation with the Bureau of
respondent confirmed his acceptance of its offer to settle Immigration and Deportation for the authenticity of your visa,
the claim of complainant in an ex-gratia basis of 75% of Department of Labor and Employment for your working
his policy coverage which is therefore FIVE HUNDRED status, Bureau of Internal Revenue for your taxation
TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND (P525,000.00) PESOS. compliance and the National Bureau of Investigation [with]
which we have a good network...
While it [is your] prerogative to file a legal action against us, it complainants claim at P350,000.00.
is also our prerogative to file a case against you. We will
rather suggest if you could request your lawyer to just confer Explaining how his above-mentioned March 26, 1999
with us for the peaceful settlement of this matter. letter to Garcia came about, respondent declared that it
(Underscoring and emphasis supplied) was made upon Garcias request, intended for a certain
Joel Ramiscal (Ramiscal) who was said to be Garcias
[if !supportFootnotes][13][endif] [if !supportFootnotes][23][endif]
As despite written demands, business partner.
respondent refused to turn over the proceeds of the
insurance claim and to acknowledge the Respondent later submitted a June 13, 2001
unreasonableness of the attorneys fees he was Supplement
[if !supportFootnotes][24][endif]
to his Counter-Affidavit
demanding, complainant instituted the administrative reiterating his explanation that it was on Garcias express
action at bar on December 17, 1999. request that he wrote the March 26, 1999 letter, which
was directed to the fax number of Ramiscal.
In his Complaint-Affidavit, complainant alleged that [i]t
appears that there was irregularity with the check, it Additionally, respondent declared that in the first week of
having been issued payable to him, but and/or AMADEO May 1999, on the representation of Garcia that he had
BALON was therein intercalated after his (complainants) talked to complainant about respondents retention of fifty
[if !supportFootnotes][14][endif]
name. percent (50%) of the insurance proceeds for professional
[if !supportFootnotes][25][endif]
fees less expenses, he gave Garcia,
Maintaining that respondent was entitled to only on a staggered basis, the total amount of P233,000.00
[if !supportFootnotes][15][endif]
P50,000.00 in attorneys fees, which, so respondent averred, is the amount of
complainant decried respondents continued possession insurance claim complainant is entitled to receive less
[if !supportFootnotes][16][endif] [if !supportFootnotes][26][endif]
of the proceeds of his claim and his attorneys fees and expenses. Thus,
misrepresentations that the recovery thereof was fraught respondent claimed that he gave Garcia the amount of
[if !supportFootnotes][17][endif]
with difficulties. P30,000.00 on May 31, 1999 at Dulcinea Restaurant in
Greenbelt, Makati; the amounts of P50,000.00,
In his Counter-Affidavit
[if !supportFootnotes][18][endif]
of February P20,000.00 and P30,000.00 on different occasions at his
18, 2000, respondent asserted that his continued (respondents) former address through his executive
retention of the proceeds of complainants claim is in secretary Sally I. Leonardo; the amount of P20,000.00 at
lawful exercise of his lien for unpaid attorneys fees. He the office of his (respondents) former employer
expressed readiness, however, to account for and turn Commonwealth Insurance Company through his
them over once he got paid fifty percent (50%) thereof, subordinate Glen V. Roxas; and several other payments
he citing the so called contingent fee billing method of no at Dulcinea, and at Manila Intercontinental Hotels coffee
[if !supportFootnotes][27][endif]
cure, no pay adopted by practicing lawyers in the shop sometime in October 1999.
insurance industry as the basis of the amount of his Respondent submitted the separate sworn statements of
[if !supportFootnotes][28][endif]
attorneys fees,
[if !supportFootnotes][19][endif]
which to him was Leonardo and Roxas.
justified in the absence of an attorney-client contract
between him and complainant, the latter having rejected Explaining why no written memorandum of the turn over
[if
respondents letter-proposal of October 21, 1998. of various payments to Garcia was made, respondent
!supportFootnotes][20][endif]
alleged that there was no need therefor since he very
well knew Garcia who is a co-Rotarian and co-attorney-
Respondent also highlighted the value of the time and in-fact and whom he really dealt with regarding
[if !supportFootnotes][29][endif]
efforts he extended in pursuing complainants claim and complainants claim.
the expenses he incurred in connection therewith. He
went on to assert that his inability to contact complainant Respondent furthermore declared that he rejected
whose whereabouts he did not know prompted him to complainants offer to pay him P50,000.00 for his
encash the check and keep the proceeds thereof in services, insisting that since there had been no clear-cut
conformity with the Special Power of Attorney executed agreement on his professional fees and it was through
[if !supportFootnotes][21][endif]
in his favor. him that Metropolitan Insurance favorably reconsidered
its initial rejection of complainants claim, he is entitled to
[if
During the hearings conducted by the IBP Investigator, a contingent fee of 50% of the net proceeds thereof.
!supportFootnotes][30][endif]
complainant echoed his allegations in his Complaint-
Affidavit and stressed that he turned down as
unreasonable respondents proposal in his October 21, Finally, respondent declared that he, in connection with
1998 letter that he be paid 25% of the actual amount his follow-up of the insurance claim, incurred
[if !supportFootnotes][22][endif]
collected for his legal services. And representation expenses of P35,000.00, entertainment
he presented documentary evidence, including the and other representation expenses on various occasions
March 26, 1999 letter of respondent informing his co- of P10,000.00, and transportation and gasoline
[if
attorney-in-fact Garcia of the supposedly still expenses and parking fees of P5,000.00;
!supportFootnotes][31][endif]
unrecovered claim and suggesting acceptance of the and that his retention of complainants
purported offer of Metropolitan Insurance to settle money was justified in light of his apprehension that
complainant, being an alien without a valid working xxx
permit in the Philippines, might leave the country
[if
anytime without settling his professional fees. CANON 15 - A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and
!supportFootnotes][32][endif]
loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his clients.

The Investigating Commissioner, by Report and RULE 15.06 - A lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able
[if !supportFootnotes][33][endif]
Recommendation of October 26, to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body.
2001, found respondent guilty of misconduct and
recommended that he be disbarred and directed to
xxx
immediately turn over to complainant the sum of
P475,000.00 representing the amount of the
P525,000.00 insurance claim less respondents CANON 16 - A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and
professional fees of P50,000.00, as proposed by properties of his client that may come into his possession.
complainant.
RULE 16.01 - A lawyer shall account for all money or
The Board of Govenors of the Integrated Bar of the property collected or received for or from the client.
Philippines, acting on the Investigators Report, issued
[if !supportFootnotes][34][endif]
Resolution No. XV-2002-401 on RULE 16.02 - A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client
August 3,2002, reading: separate and apart from his own and those of others kept by
him.
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and RULE 16.03 - A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the his client when due or upon demand. However, he shall have a
above-entitled case, herein made part of this lien over the funds and may apply so much thereof as may be
Resolution/Decision as Annex A; and, finding the necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record notice promptly thereafter to his client. He shall also have a
and the applicable laws and rules, with modification, and lien to the same extent on all judgments and executions he has
considering respondents dishonesty which amounted to grave secured for his client as provided for in the Rules of Court.
misconduct and grossly unethical behavior which caused
dishonor, not merely to respondent but the noble profession to xxx
which he belongs, Respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for six (6) months with the directive to turn CANON 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client
over the amount of Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence in him.
(P525,000.00) Pesos to the complainant without prejudice to
respondents right to claim attorneys fees which he may collect
xxx
in the proper forum. (Underscoring supplied)

RULE 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the


The records of the case are before this Court for final
status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to
action.
the clients request for information.
[if
Respondent, by a Motion for Reconsideration filed with
xxx
this Court, assails the Investigating Commissioners
Report and Recommendation as not supported by clear,
convincing and satisfactory proof. He prays for the RULE 21.02 - A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his
reopening of the case and its remand to the Investigator client, use information acquired in the course of employment,
so that Garcia can personally appear for his nor shall he use the same to his advantage or that of a third
(respondents) confrontation. person, unless the client with full knowledge of the
circumstances consents thereto.
There is no need for a reopening of the case. The facts
material to its resolution are either admitted or Specifically with respect to above-quoted provision of
documented. Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the
Filipino lawyers principal source of ethical rules, which
Canon 16 bears on the principal complaint of
This Court is in full accord with the findings of the IBP
complainant, a lawyer must hold in trust all moneys and
Investigator that respondent violated the following
provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to properties of his client that he may come to possess.
wit: This commandment entails certain specific acts to be
done by a lawyer such as rendering an accounting of all
[if
money or property received for or from the client
RULE 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, !supportFootnotes][36][endif]
as well as delivery of the funds or
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. property to the client when due or upon demand.
[if
!supportFootnotes][37][endif]
Respondent breached this Canon
when after he received the proceeds of complainants after complainant had discovered its release to him, he
insurance claim, he did not report it to complainant, who was already asking for 50%, objection to which
had a given address in Makati, or to his co-attorney-in- complainant communicated to him. Why respondent had
fact Garcia who was his contact with respect to to doubly increase his fees after the lapse of about one
complainant. year when all the while he has been in custody of the
proceeds of the check defies comprehension. At any
In fact, long after respondent received the December 23, rate, it smacks of opportunism, to say the least.
1998 check for P525,000.00 he, by his letter of March
26, 1999 to Garcia, had even the temerity to state that As for respondents claim in his June 2001 Supplement
the claim was still pending and recommend acceptance to his Counter-Affidavit that he had on several occasions
of the 50% offer . . . which is P350,000.00 pesos. His from May 1999 to October 1999 already delivered a total
explanation that he prepared and sent this letter on of P233,000.00 out of the insurance proceeds to Garcia
Garcias express request is nauseating. A lawyer, like in trust for complainant, this does not persuade, for it is
respondent, would not and should not commit bereft of any written memorandum thereof. It is difficult
prevarication, documented at that, on the mere request to believe that a lawyer like respondent could have
of a friend. entrusted such total amount of money to Garcia without
documenting it, especially at a time when, as respondent
[if
By respondents failure to promptly account for the funds alleged, he and Garcia were not in good terms.
!supportFootnotes][43][endif]
he received and held for the benefit of his client, he Not only that. As stated earlier,
committed professional misconduct.
[if !supportFootnotes][38][endif] respondents Counter-Affidavit of February 18, 2000 and
Such misconduct is reprehensible at a greater degree, his December 7, 1999 letter to complainant
for it was obviously done on purpose through the unequivocally contained his express admission that the
employment of deceit to the prejudice of complainant total amount of P525,000.00 was in his custody. Such
who was kept in the dark about the release of the check, illogical, futile attempt to exculpate himself only
until he himself discovered the same, and has to date aggravates his misconduct. Respondents claim
been deprived of the use of the proceeds thereof. discredited, the affidavits of Leonardo and Roxas who,
acting allegedly for him, purportedly gave Garcia some
amounts forming part of the P233,000.00 are thus highly
A lawyer who practices or utilizes deceit in his dealings
suspect and merit no consideration.
with his client not only violates his duty of fidelity, loyalty
and devotion to the clients cause but also degrades
himself and besmirches the fair name of an honorable The proven ancillary charges against respondent
profession.
[if !supportFootnotes][39][endif] reinforce the gravity of his professional misconduct.

That respondent had a lien on complainants funds for his The intercalation of respondents name to the Chinabank
attorneys fees did not relieve him of his duty to account check that was issued payable solely in favor of
for it.
[if !supportFootnotes][40][endif]
The lawyers continuing complainant as twice certified by Metropolitan
[if !supportFootnotes][44][endif]
exercise of his retaining lien presupposes that the client Insurance is clearly a brazen act of
agrees with the amount of attorneys fees to be charged. falsification of a commercial document which respondent
In case of disagreement or when the client contests that resorted to in order to encash the check.
amount for being unconscionable, however, the lawyer
must not arbitrarily apply the funds in his possession to Respondents threat in his December 7, 1999 letter to
[if !supportFootnotes][41][endif]
the payment of his fees. He can file, expose complainant to possible sanctions from certain
if he still deems it desirable, the necessary action or government agencies with which he bragged to have a
proper motion with the proper court to fix the amount of good network reflects lack of character, self-respect, and
[if !supportFootnotes][42][endif]
such fees. justness.

In respondents case, he never had the slightest attempt It bears noting that for close to five long years
to bring the matter of his compensation for judicial respondent has been in possession of complainants
determination so that his and complainants sharp funds in the amount of over half a million pesos. The
disagreement thereon could have been put to an end. deceptions and lies that he peddled to conceal, until its
Instead, respondent stubbornly and in bad faith held on discovery by complainant after about a year, his receipt
to complainants funds with the obvious aim of forcing of the funds and his tenacious custody thereof in a
complainant to agree to the amount of attorneys fees grossly oppressive manner point to his lack of good
sought. This is an appalling abuse by respondent of the moral character. Worse, by respondents turnaround in
exercise of an attorneys retaining lien which by no his Supplement to his Counter-Affidavit that he already
means is an absolute right and cannot at all justify delivered to complainants friend Garcia the amount of
inordinate delay in the delivery of money and property to P233,000.00 which, so respondent claims, is all that
his client when due or upon demand. complainant is entitled to, he in effect has declared that
he has nothing more to turn over to complainant. Such
Respondent was, before receiving the check, proposing incredible position is tantamount to a refusal to remit
a 25% attorneys fees. After he received the check and complainants funds, and gives rise to the conclusion that
[if !supportFootnotes][45][endif]
he has misappropriated them.

In fine, by respondents questioned acts, he has shown


that he is no longer fit to remain a member of the noble
profession that is the law.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Amadeo E.


Balon, Jr., is found GUILTY of malpractice, deceit and
gross misconduct in the practice of his profession as a
lawyer and he is hereby DISBARRED. The Office of the
Clerk of Court is directed to strike out his name from the
Roll of Attorneys and to inform all courts and the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines of this Decision.

Respondent is ordered to turn over to


complainant, Daniel Lemoine, the amount of
P525,000.00 within thirty (30) days from notice, without
prejudice to whatever judicial action he may take to
recover his attorneys fees and purported expenses
incurred in securing the release thereof from
Metropolitan Insurance.

SO ORDERED.
According to complainant Mia Taha, at around 7:00 P.M.
G.R. Nos. 115908-09 December 6, 1995 of January 21, 1994, she went to the boarding house of
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, her cousin, Merlylyn Casantosan, at Pulot Center,
vs. Brooke's Point which is near the Palawan National
DANNY GODOY, * accused-appellant. School (PNS), Pulot Branch, where she was studying.
When she saw that the house was dark, she decided to
REGALADO, J.: pass through the kitchen door at the back because she
knew that there was nobody inside. As soon as she
Often glossed over in the emotional arguments against opened the door, somebody suddenly grabbed her,
capital punishment is the amplitude of legal protection poked a knife on her neck, dragged her by the hand and
accorded to the offender. Ignored by the polemicist are told her not to shout. She was then forced to lie down on
the safeguards designed to minimally reduce, if not the floor. Although it was dark, complainant was able to
altogether eliminate, the grain of human fault. Indeed, recognize her assailant, by the light coming from the
there is no critique on the plethora of rights enjoyed by moon and through his voice, as accused-appellant
the accused regardless of how ruthlessly he committed Danny Godoy who was her Physics teacher at PNS.
the crime. Any margin of judicial error is further
addressed by the grace of executive clemency. But, When she was already on the floor, appellant removed
even before that, all convictions imposing the penalty of her panty with one hand while holding the knife with the
death are automatically reviewed by this Court. The other hand, opened the zipper of his pants, and then
cases at bar, involving two death sentences, inserted his private organ inside her private parts against
apostrophize for the condemned the role of this ultimate her will. She felt pain because it was her first experience
judicial intervention. and she cried. Throughout her ordeal, she could not
utter a word. She was very frightened because a knife
Accused-appellant Danny Godoy was charged in two was continually pointed at her. She also could not fight
separate informations filed before the Regional Trial back nor plead with appellant not to rape her because he
Court, for Palawan and Puerto Princesa City, Branch 47, was her teacher and she was afraid of him. She was
with rape and kidnapping with serious illegal detention, threatened not to report the incident to anyone or else
respectively punished under Articles 335 and 267 of the she and her family would be killed.
Revised Penal Code, to wit:
Thereafter, while she was putting on her panty, she
In Criminal Case No. 11640 for Rape: noticed that her skirt was stained with blood. Appellant
walked with her to the gate of the house and she then
That on or about the evening of the 21st day of January, proceeded alone to the boarding house where she lived.
1994, at Barangay Pulot Center, Municipality of Brooke's She did not see where appellant went after she left him
Point, Province of Palawan, Philippines, and within the at the gate. When she arrived at her boarding house,
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused by she saw her landlady but she did not mention anything
means of force, threat and intimidation, by using a knife about the incident.
and by means of deceit, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with The following morning, January 22, 1994, complainant
1
one Mia Taha to her damage and prejudice. went home to her parents' house at Ipilan, Brooke's
Point. She likewise did not tell her parents about the
In Criminal Case No. 11641 for Kidnapping with Serious incident for fear that appellant might make good his
Illegal Detention: threat. At around 3:00 P.M. of that same day, appellant
arrived at the house of her parents and asked
permission from the latter if complainant could
That on or about the 22nd day of January, 1994, at
accompany him to solicit funds because she was a
Barangay Ipilan, Municipality of Brooke's Point, Province
candidate for "Miss PNS Pulot." When her parents
of Palawan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
agreed, she was constrained to go with appellant
Honorable Court, the said accused, a private individual,
because she did not want her parents to get into trouble.
and being a teacher of the victim, Mia Taha, and by
means of deceit did then and there wilfully, unlawfully
and feloniously kidnap or detained (sic) said Mia Taha, a Appellant and complainant then left the house and they
girl of 17 years old (sic), for a period of five (5) days thus walked in silence, with Mia following behind appellant,
thereby depriving said Mia Taha of her liberty against towards the highway where appellant hailed a passenger
her will and consent and without legal justification, to the jeep which was empty except for the driver and the
damage and prejudice of said Mia Taha.
2 conductor. She was forced to ride the jeep because
appellant threatened to kill her if she would not board the
vehicle. The jeep proceeded to the Sunset Garden at the
During the arraignment on both indictments, appellant
poblacion, Brooke's Point where they alighted.
pleaded not guilty to said charges and, after the pre-trial
was terminated, a joint trial of the two cases was
conducted by the trial court.
3 At the Sunset Garden, appellant checked in and brought
her to a room where they staye d for three days. During
the entire duration of their stay at the Sunset Garden, she wrote the letters marked as Exhibits "1" and "2"; that
complainant was not allowed to leave the room which she never loved appellant but, on the contrary, she
was always kept locked. She was continuously guarded hated him because of what he did to her; and that she
and constantly raped by appellant. She was, however, did not notice if there were people near the boarding
never drunk or unconscious. Nonetheless, she was house of her cousin. She narrated that when appellant
forced to have sex with appellant because the latter was started to remove her panty, she was already lying
always carrying a knife with him. down, and that even as appellant was doing this she
could not shout because she was afraid. She could not
In the early morning of January 25, 1994, appellant remember with which hand appellant held the knife. She
brought her to the house of his friend at Edward's was completely silent from the time she was made to lie
Subdivision where she was raped by him three times. down, while her panty was being removed, and even
She was likewise detained and locked inside the room until appellant was able to rape her.
and tightly guarded by appellant. After two days, or on
January 27, 1994, they left the place because appellant When appellant went to their house the following day,
came to know that complainant had been reported and she did not know if he was armed but there was no
indicated as a missing person in the police blotter. They threat made on her or her parents. On the contrary,
went to see a certain Naem ** from whom appellant appellant even courteously asked permission from them
sought help. On that same day, she was released but in her behalf and so they left the house with appellant
only after her parents agreed to settle the case with walking ahead of her. When she was brought to the
appellant. Sunset Garden, she could not refuse because she was
afraid. However, she admitted that at that time, appellant
Immediately thereafter, Mia's parents brought her to the was not pointing a knife at her. She only saw the cashier
District Hospital at Brooke's Point where she was of the Sunset Garden but she did not notice if there were
examined by Dr. Rogelio Divinagracia who made the other people inside. She likewise did not ask the
following medical findings: appellant why he brought her there.

GENERAL: Well developed, nourished, cooperative, Complainant described the lock in their room as an
walking, conscious, coherent Filipina. ordinary doorknob, similar to that on the door of the
courtroom which, even if locked, could still be opened
from the inside, and she added that there was a sliding
BREAST: Slightly globular with brown colored areola
lock inside the room. According to her, they stayed at
and nipple.
Sunset Garden for three days and three nights but she
never noticed if appellant ever slept because everytime
EXTERNAL EXAM.: Numerous pubic hair, fairly she woke up, appellant was always beside her. She
developed labia majora and minora, hymenal opening never saw him close his eyes.
stellate in shape, presence of laceration superficial,
longitudinal at the fossa navicularis, approximately 1/2
cm. length. Helen Taha, the mother of complainant, testified that
when the latter arrived at their house in the morning of
January 22, 1994, she noticed that Mia appeared weak
INTERNAL EXAM.: Hymenal opening, stellate in shape, and her eyes were swollen. When she asked her
laceration noted, hymenal opening admits 2 fingers with daughter if there was anything wrong, the latter merely
slight resistance, prominent vaginal rugae, cervix closed. kept silent. That afternoon, she allowed Mia to go with
appellant because she knew he was her teacher.
CONCLUSION: Hymenal opening admits easily 2 fingers However, when Mia and appellant failed to come home
with slight resistance, presence of laceration, at the expected time, she and her husband, Adjeril, went
longitudinal at the fossa navicularis approximately 1/2 to look for them at Ipilan. When they could not find them
cm. length. Hymenal opening can admit an average size there, she went to the house of appellant because she
4
penis in erection with laceration. was already suspecting that something was wrong, but
appellant's wife told her that he did not come home.
Dr. Divinagracia further testified that the hymenal
opening was in stellate shape and that there was a Early the next morning, she and her husband went to the
laceration, which shows that complainant had Philippine National Police (PNP) station at Pulot,
participated in sexual intercourse. On the basis of the Brooke's Point and had the incident recorded in the
inflicted laceration which was downward at 6 o'clock police blotter. The following day, they went to the office
position, he could not say that there was force applied of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Puerto
because there were no scratches or bruises, but only a Princess City, then to the police station near the NBI,
week-old laceration. He also examined the patient bodily and finally to the radio station airing the Radyo ng Bayan
but found no sign of bruises or injuries. The patient told program where she made an appeal to appellant to
him that she was raped. return her daughter. When she returned home, a certain
Naem was waiting there and he informed her that Mia
During the cross-examination, complainant denied that was at Brooke's Point. He further conveyed appellant's
willingness to become a Muslim so he could marry Mia who were obviously caught by surprise, could not
and thus settle the case. Helen Taha readily acceded answer. She then hurriedly closed the door and left.
because she wanted to see her daughter. According to this witness, complainant admitted to her
that she was having an affair with appellant. Desirous
In the morning of January 27, 1994, she went to the that such illicit relationship must be stopped, Erna
house of Naem who sent somebody to fetch Baradero informed appellant's wife about it when the
complainant. She testified that when Mia arrived, she latter arrived from Manila around the first week of
was crying as she reported that she was raped by February, 1994.
appellant, and that the latter threatened to kill her if she
did not return within an hour. Because of this, she Upon the request of appellant's wife, Erna Baradero
immediately brought Mia to the hospital where the latter executed an affidavit in connection with the present
was examined and then they proceeded to the municipal case, but the same was not filed then because of the
hall to file a complaint for rape and kidnapping. Both Mia affidavit of desistance which was executed and
and Helen Taha executed separate sworn statements submitted by the parents of complainant. In her sworn
before the PNP at Brooke's Point. statement, later marked in evidence as Exhibit "7", Erna
Baradero alleged that on January 21, 1994, she
Later, Fruit Godoy, the wife of appellant, went to their confronted Mia Taha about the latter's indiscretion and
house and offered P50,000.00 for the settlement of the reminded her that appellant is a married man, but
case. On their part, her husband insisted that they just complainant retorted, "Ano ang pakialam mo," adding
settle, hence all three of them, Adjeril, Helen and Mia that she loves appellant very much.
Taha, went to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor
where they met with the mother of appellant who gave Appellant testified that on January 21, 1994, at around
them P30,000.00. Adjeril and Helen Taha subsequently 7:00 P.M., Mia Taha went to his office asking for help
executed an affidavit of desistance in Criminal Case No. with the monologue that she would be presenting for the
7687 for kidnapping pending in the prosecutor's office, Miss PNS contest. He agreed to meet her at the house
which was sworn to before Prosecutor II Chito S. of her cousin, Merlylyn Casantosan. However, when he
Meregillano. Helen Taha testified that she agreed to the reached the place, the house was dark and he saw Mia
settlement because that was what her husband wanted. waiting for him outside. Accordingly, they just sat on a
Mia Taha was dropped from the school and was not bench near the road where there was a lighted electric
allowed to graduate. Her father died two months later, post and they talked about the matter she had earlier
supposedly because of what happened. asked him about. They stayed there for fifteen minutes,
after which complainant returned to her boarding house
The defense presented a different version of what just across the street while appellant headed for home
actually transpired. some fifteen meters away.

According to appellant, he first met Mia Taha sometime It appears that while complainant was then waiting for
in August, 1993 at the Palawan National School (PNS). appellant, Filomena Pielago, a former teacher of Mia at
Although he did not court her, he fell in love with her PNS and who was then on her way to a nearby store,
because she often told him "Sir, I love you." What started saw her sitting on a bench and asked what she was
as a joke later developed into a serious relationship doing there at such a late hour. Complainant merely
which was kept a secret from everybody else. It was on replied that she was waiting for somebody. Filomena
December 20, 1993 when they first had sexual proceeded to the store and, along the way, she saw
intercourse as lovers. Appellant was then assigned at Inday Zapanta watering the plants outside the porch of
the Narra Pilot Elementary School at the poblacion her house. When Filomena Pielago returned, she saw
because he was the coach of the Palawan delegation for complainant talking with appellant and she noticed that
chess. At around 5:00 P.M. of that day, complainant they were quite intimate because they were holding
arrived at his quarters allegedly because she missed hands. This made her suspect that the two could be
him, and she then decided to spend the night there with having a relationship. She, therefore, told appellant that
him. his wife had finished her aerobics class and was already
waiting for him. She also advised Mia to go home.
Exactly a month thereafter, specifically in the evening of
January 20, 1994, Erna Baradero, a teacher at the PNS, Prior to this incident, Filomena Pielago already used to
was looking inside the school building for her husband, see them seated on the same bench. Filomena further
who was a security guard of PNS, when she heard testified that she had tried to talk appellant out of the
voices apparently coming from the Orchids Room. She relationship because his wife had a heart ailment. She
went closer to listen and she heard a girl's voice saying also warned Mia Taha, but to no avail. She had likewise
"Mahal na mahal kita, Sir, iwanan mo ang iyong asawa told complainant's grandmother about her activities. At
at tatakas tayo." Upon hearing this, she immediately the trial, she identified the handwriting of complainant
opened the door and was startled to see Mia Taha and appearing on the letters marked as Exhibits "1" and "2",
Danny Godoy holding hands. She asked them what they claiming that she is familiar with the same because Mia
were doing there at such an unholy hour but the two, was her former student. On cross-examination, Filomena
clarified that when she saw the couple on the night of Appellant denied that they had sexual intercourse during
January 21, 1994, the two were talking naturally, she did their entire stay at Sunset Garden, that is, from January
not see Mia crying, nor did it appear as if appellant was 22 to 24, 1994, because he did not have any idea as to
pleading with her. what she really wanted to prove to him. Appellant knew
that what they were doing was wrong but he allegedly
In the afternoon of the following day, January 22, 1994, could not avoid Mia because of her threat that she would
appellant met Mia's mother on the road near their house commit suicide if he left her. Thus, according to
and she invited him to come up and eat "buko," which appellant, on January 24, 1994 he asked Isagani Virey
invitation he accepted. Thirty minutes thereafter, to accompany him to the house of Romy Vallan, a
complainant told him to ask permission from her mother policeman, to report the matter.
for them to go and solicit funds at the poblacion, and he
did so. Before they left, he noticed that Mia was carrying Additionally, Virey testified that appellant and Mia went
a plastic bag and when he asked her about it, she said to see him at his aunt's house to ask for assistance in
that it contained her things which she was bringing to her procuring transportation because, according to
cousin's house. Appellant and Mia went to the poblacion appellant, the relatives of Mia were already looking for
where they solicited funds until 6:30 P.M. and then had them and so they intend to go to Puerto Princesa City.
snacks at the Vic Tan Store. Virey accompanied them to the house of Romy Vallan,
whose wife was a co-teacher of appellant's wife, but the
Thereafter, complainant told appellant that it was already latter refused to help because of the complicated
late and there was no more available transportation, so situation appellant was in.
she suggested that they just stay at Sunset Garden.
Convinced that there was nothing wrong in that because Nevertheless, Vallan verified from the police station
they already had intimate relations, aside from the fact whether a complaint had been filed against appellant
that Mia had repeatedly told him she would commit and after finding out that there was none, he told
suicide should he leave her, appellant was prevailed appellant to just consult a certain Naem who is an
upon to stay at the hotel. Parenthetically, it was "imam." Appellant was able to talk to Naem at Vallan's
complainant who arranged their registration and house that same day and bared everything about him
subsequently paid P400.00 for their bill from the funds and Mia. Naem suggested that appellant marry
they had solicited. That evening, however, appellant told complainant in Muslim rites but appellant refused
complainant at around 9:00 P.M. that he was going out because he was already married. It was eventually
to see a certain Bert Dalojo at the latter's residence. In agreed that Naem would just mediate in behalf of
truth, he borrowed a motorcycle from Fernando Rubio appellant and make arrangements for a settlement with
and went home to Pulot. He did not bring complainant Mia's parents. Later that day, Naem went to see the
along because she had refused to go home. parents of complainant at the latter's house.

The following morning, January 23, 1994, appellant went The following day, January 25, 1994, allegedly because
to the house of complainant's parents and informed them complainant could no longer afford to pay their hotel
that Mia spent the night at the Sunset Garden. Mia's bills, the couple were constrained to transfer to the
parents said that they would just fetch her there, so he house of appellant's friend, Fernando Rubio, at Edward's
went back to Sunset Garden and waited for them outside Subdivision where they stayed for two days. They just
the hotel until 5:00 P.M. When they did not arrive, he walked along the national highway from Sunset Garden
decided to go with one Isagani Virey, whom he saw to Edward's Subdivision which was only five hundred to
while waiting near the road, and they had a drinking seven hundred meters away. The owner of the house,
session with Virey's friends. Thereafter, Virey Fernando Rubio, as well as his brother Benedicto Rubio,
accompanied him back to Sunset Garden where they testified that the couple were very happy, they were
proceeded to Mia's room. Since the room was locked intimate and sweet to each other, they always ate
from the inside, Virey had to knock on the door until it together, and it was very obvious that they were having
was opened by her. a relationship.

Once inside, he talked to complainant and asked her In fact, Fernando Rubio recalled that complainant even
what they were doing, but she merely answered that called appellant "Papa." While they were there, she
what she was doing was of her own free will and that at would buy food at the market, help in the cooking, wash
that moment her father was not supposed to know about clothes, and sometimes watch television. When
it for, otherwise, he would kill her. What complainant did Fernando Rubio once asked her why she chose to go
not know, however, was that appellant had already with appellant despite the fact the he was a married
reported the matter to her parents, although he opted not man, Mia told him that she really loved appellant. She
to tell her because he did not want to add to her never told him, and Fernando Rubio never had the
apprehensions. Isagani Virey further testified that when slightest suspicion, that she was supposed to have been
he saw appellant and complainant on January 23 and kidnapped as it was later claimed. He also testified that
24, 1994, the couple looked very happy. several police officers lived within their neighborhood
and if complainant had really been kidnapped and
detained, she could have easily reported that fact to time she testified in court, her father had already died.
them. Mia was free to come and go as she pleased, and
the room where they stayed was never locked because Appellant further testified that complainant has had
the lock had been destroyed. several illicit relations in the boarding house of her
cousin, Merlylyn Casantosan, which was a well-known
On cross-examination, Fernando Rubio declared that fact in Pulot. However, he decided to have a relationship
appellant was merely an acquaintance of his; that it was with her because he wanted to change her and that was
Naem who went to the lodging house to arrange for Mia what they had agreed upon. Appellant denied that,
to go home; that complainant's mother never went to his during the time when they were staying together, Mia
house; and that it was Chief of Police Eliseo Crespo who had allegedly asked permission to leave several times
fetched appellant from the lodging house and brought but that he refused. On the contrary, he claimed that on
him to the municipal hall. January 27, 1994 when she told him that her parents
wanted to see her, he readily gave her permission to go.
Shortly before noon of January 26, 1994, Naem again
met with appellant at Edward's Subdivision and informed He also identified the clothes that Mia brought with her
him that complainant's parents were willing to talk to him when they left her parents' house on January 22, 1994,
at Naem's house the next day. The following morning, or but which she left behind at the Rubios' lodging house
on January 27, 1994, appellant was not able to talk to after she failed to return on January 27, 1994. The bag
complainant's parents because they merely sent a child of clothes was brought to him at the provincial jail by
to fetch Mia at Edward's Subdivision and to tell her that Benedicto Rubio.
her mother, who was at Naem's house, wanted to see
her. Appellant permitted complainant to go but he told Appellant likewise declared that he had been detained at
her that within one hour he was be going to the police the provincial jail since January 27, 1994 but the warrant
station at the municipal hall so that they could settle for his arrest was issued only on January 28, 1994; and
everything there. that he did not submit a counter-affidavit because
according to his former counsel, Atty. Paredes, it was no
After an hour, while appellant was already on his way longer necessary since the complainants had already
out of Edward's Subdivision, he was met by Chief of executed an affidavit of desistance. He admits having
Police Eliseo Crespo who invited him to the police signed a "Waiver of Right to Preliminary Investigation" in
station. Appellant waited at the police station the whole connection with these cases.
afternoon but when complainant, her parents and
relatives arrived at around 5:00 P.M., he was not given On rebuttal, Lorna Casantosan, the cousin of Mia Taha,
the chance to talk to any one of them. That afternoon of denied that she delivered any letter to appellant when
January 27, 1994, appellant was no longer allowed to the latter was still detained at the provincial jail. She
leave and he was detained at the police station after Mia admitted, on cross-examination, that she was requested
and her parents lodged a complaint for rape and by Mia Taha to testify for her, although she clarified that
kidnapping against him. she does not have any quarrel or misunderstanding with
appellant.
During his detention, Mia's cousin, Lorna Casantosan,
delivered to appellant on different occasions two letters Mia Taha was again presented on rebuttal and she
from complainant dated February 27, 1994 and March 1, denied the testimony of Erna Baradero regarding the
1994, respectively. As Mia's teacher, appellant is familiar incident at the Orchids Room because, according to her,
with and was, therefore, able to identify the handwriting the truth was that she was at the boarding house of Toto
in said letters as that of Mia Taha. After a time, he came Zapanta on that date and time. She likewise negated the
to know, through his mother, that an affidavit of claim that Erna Baradero confronted her on January 21,
desistance was reportedly executed by complainants. 1994 about her alleged relationship with appellant
However, he claims that he never knew and it was never contending that she did not see her former teacher on
mentioned to him, not until the day he testified in court, that day. Similarly, she disclaimed having seen and
that his mother paid P30,000.00 to Mia's father because, talked to Filemona Pielago on the night of January 21,
although he did not dissuade them, neither did he 1994. She vehemently disavowed that she and appellant
request his mother to talk to complainants in order to were lovers, much less with intimate relations, since
settle the case. there never was a time that they became sweethearts.

Under cross-examination, appellant denied that he She sought to rebut, likewise through bare denials, the
poked a knife at and raped Mia Taha on January 21, following testimonies of the defense witnesses: that she
1994. However, he admitted that he had sex with Mia at told appellant "iwanan mo ang iyong asawa at tatakas
the Sunset Garden but that was already on January 24, tayo;" that she answered "wala kang pakialam" when
1994. While they were at Edward's Subdivision, they Erna Baradero confronted her about her relationship with
never had sexual relations. Appellant was told, when appellant; that she was the one who registered them at
complainant visited him in jail, that her father would kill Sunset Garden and paid for their bill; that appellant left
her if she refused to testify against him, although by the her at Sunset Garden to go to Ipil on January 22, 1994;
9
that Isagani Virey came to their room and stayed there Trial Court of Brooke's Point issued a resolution on
for five minutes, because the only other person who February 4, 1994 finding the existence of a prima facie
went there was the room boy who served their food; that case against appellant. On February 10, 1994, the
they went to the house of Virey's aunt requesting help for spouses Adjeril Taha and Helen Taha executed an
transportation; and that she was free to roam around or affidavit of desistance withdrawing the charge of
10
to go out of the lodging house at Edward's Subdivision. kidnapping with serious illegal detention. However,
11
pursuant to a joint resolution issued on March 11,
Mia Taha also rejected as false the testimony of 1994 by Prosecutor II Reynaldo R. Guayco of the Office
appellant that she went to see him at Narra, Palawan to of the Provincial Prosecutor, two separate informations
have sex with him and claims that the last time she went for rape and for kidnapping with serious illegal detention
to Narra was when she was still in Grade VI; that she were nevertheless filed against appellant Danny Godoy
ever told him "I love you, sabik no sabik ako sa iyo" with no bail recommended in both charges.
when she allegedly went to Narra; that she wrote to him,
since the letters marked as Exhibits "1" and "2" are not Appellant is now before us seeking the reversal of the
hers; that she threatened to commit suicide if appellant judgment of the court below, on the following assignment
would leave her since she never brought a blade with of errors:
her; and that at Sunset Garden and at Edward's
Subdivison, she was not being guarded by appellant. I. The trial court erred in convicting the accused-
appellant (of) the crime of rape despite the fact that the
However, on cross-examination, complainant identified prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable
her signature on her test paper marked as Exhibit "4" doubt.
and admitted that the signature thereon is exactly the
same as that appearing on Exhibits "1" and "2". Then, II. The trial court erred by failing to adhere to the
contradicting her previous disclaimers, she also admitted doctrine/principle in reviewing the evidence adduced in a
that the handwriting on Exhibits "1" and "2" all belong to prosecution for the crime of rape as cited in its decision
her. reiterating the case of People vs. Calixto (193 SCRA
303).
On sur-rebuttal, Armando Pasion, a provincial guard of
the Provincial Jail, Palawan who volunteered to testify in III. The trial court erred in concluding that the accused-
these cases, identified Lorna Casantosan as the person appellant had consummated the crime of rape against
who visited appellant in jail on February 27, 1994 at private complainant.
around 4:00 P.M. Since he was on duty at that time, he
asked her what she wanted and she said she would just
IV. The trial court erred by its failure to give any
visit appellant. Pasion then called appellant and told him
credence to Exhibits "1" and "2" as evidence of the
he had a visitor. Lorna Casantosan and appellant talked
defense.
at the visiting area which is around ten meters away
from his post, and then he saw her hand over to
appellant a letter which the latter immediately read. This V. The trial court erred in convicting the accused-
witness declared that appellant never requested him to appellant of the crime of kidnapping with serious illegal
testify. detention as the prosecution failed to prove his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt.
Another sur-rebuttal witness, Desmond Selga, a jeepney
driver, testified that in the afternoon of January 22, 1994, VI. The trial court erred in giving full faith and credence
he was plying his regular route in going to Brooke's Point to the testimonies of prosecution witnesses and
and, when he passed by Ipilan, he picked up appellant completely ignoring the testimonies of the defense
and Mia Taha. At that time, there were already several witnesses.
passengers inside his jeepney. The two got off at the
poblacion market. He denied that he brought them to the VII. The trial court erred in concluding that there was
Sunset Garden. implied admission of guilt on the part of the accused-
appellant in view of the offer to compromise.
5
On May 20, 1994, the court a quo rendered judgment
finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the VIII. The trial court erred in ordering that the complainant
crimes of rape and kidnapping with serious illegal be indemnified in the sum of one hundred thousand
detention, and sentencing him to the maximum penalty pesos (P100,000.00) for each of the alleged crimes
6
of death in both cases. By reason of the nature of the committed.
penalty imposed, these cases were elevated to this
Court on automatic review. IX. The trial court gravely erred by imposing the death
penalty for each of the crimes charged on the accused-
The records show that, on the basis of the complaints for appellant despite the fact that the crimes were allegedly
7 8
rape and kidnapping with serious illegal detention filed committed prior to the effectivity of Republic Act No.
12
by Mia Taha and Helen Taha, respectively, the Municipal 7659.
A. The Rape Case reasonable doubt for conviction of the crime of rape
under paragraph (1), Article 335 of the Revised Penal
A rape charge is a serious matter with pernicious Code are, first, that the accused had carnal knowledge
consequences. It exposes both the accused and the of the complainant; and, second, that the same was
accuser to humiliation, fear and anxieties, not to mention accomplished through force or intimidation.
the stigma of shame that both have to bear for the rest of
their 1. The prosecution has palpably failed to prove beyond
peradventure of doubt that appellant had sexual
13
lives. By the very nature of the crime of rape, congress with complainant against her will. Complainant
conviction or acquittal depends almost entirely on the avers that on the night of January 21, 1994, she was
credibility of the complainant's testimony because of the sexually assaulted by appellant in the boarding house of
fact that usually only the participants can testify as to its her cousin, Merlelyn Casantosan. Appellant, on the other
14
occurrence. This notwithstanding, the basic rule hand, denied such a serious imputation and contends
remains that in all criminal prosecutions without regard that on said date and time, he merely talked with
to the nature of the defense which the accused may complainant outside that house. We find appellant's
raise, the burden of proof remains at all times upon the version more credible and sustained by the evidence
prosecution to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable presented and of record.
doubt. If the accused raises a sufficient doubt as to any
material element, and the prosecution is then unable to According to complainant, when she entered the kitchen
overcome this evidence, the prosecution has failed to of the boarding house, appellant was already inside
carry its burden of proof of the guilt of the accused apparently waiting for her. If so, it is quite perplexing how
beyond a reasonable doubt and the accused must be appellant could have known that she was going there on
15
acquitted. that particular day and at that time, considering that she
does not even live there, unless of course it was
The rationale for the rule is that, confronted by the full appellant's intention to satisfy his lustful desires on
panoply of State authority, the accused is accorded the anybody who happened to come along. But then this
presumption of innocence to lighten and even reverse would be stretching the imagination too far, aside from
the heavy odds against him. Mere accusation is not the fact that such a generic intent with an indeterminate
enough to convict him, and neither is the weakness of victim was never established nor even intimated by the
his defense. The evidence for the prosecution must be prosecution.
strong per se, strong enough to establish the guilt of the
16
accused beyond reasonable doubt. In other words, the Moreover, any accord of credit to the complainant's story
accused may be convicted on the basis of the lone is precluded by the implausibility that plagues it as
20
uncorroborated testimony of the offended woman, regards the setting of the supposed sexual assault. It
provided such testimony is clear, positive, convincing will be noted that the place where the alleged crime was
and otherwise consistent with human nature and the committed is not an ordinary residence but a boarding
normal course of things. house where several persons live and where people are
expected to come and go. The prosecution did not even
There are three well-known principles that guide an bother to elucidate on whether it was the semestral
appellate court in reviewing the evidence presented in a break or that the boarding house had remained closed
prosecution for the crime of rape. These are: (1) while for some time, in order that it could be safely assumed
rape is a most detestable crime, and ought to be that nobody was expected to arrive at any given time.
severely and impartially punished, it must be borne in
mind that it is an accusation easy to be made, hard to be Appellant, on the other hand, testified that on that fateful
proved, but harder to be defended by the party accused, day, he went to the boarding house upon the invitation of
17
though innocent; (2) that in view of the intrinsic nature complainant because the latter requested him to help
of the crime of rape where only two persons are usually her with her monologue for the Miss PNS contest.
involved, the testimony of the complainant must be However, they were not able to go inside the house
18
scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) that the because it was locked and there was no light, so they
evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its just sat on a bench outside the house and talked. This
own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from testimony of appellant was substantially corroborated by
19
the weakness of the evidence for the defense. defense witness Filomena Pielago. She affirmed that in
the evening of January 21, 1994, she saw both appellant
In the case at bar, several circumstances exist which and complainant seated on a bench outside the boarding
amply demonstrate and ineluctably convince this Court house, and that she even advised them to go home
that there was no rape committed on the alleged date because it was already late and appellant's wife, who
and place, and that the charge of rape was the was the head teacher of witness Pielago, was waiting for
contrivance of an afterthought, rather than a truthful him at the school building. On rebuttal, complainant
plaint for redress of an actual wrong. could only deny that she saw Pielago that night.
Doctrinally, where the inculpatory facts and
circumstances are capable of two or more explanations
I. Two principal facts indispensably to be proven beyond
one of which is consistent with the innocence of the In contrast, complainant's professed reason for going to
accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the the boarding house is vague and tenuous. At first, she
evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and is asserted that she was at the boarding house talking with
21
not sufficient to support a conviction. a friend and then, later, she said it was her cousin.
Subsequently, she again wavered and said that she was
It was further alleged by complainant that after her not able to talk to her cousin. Furthermore, she initially
alleged ravishment, she put on her panty and then stated that on January 21, 1994 at around 7:00 P.M.,
appellant openly accompanied her all the way to the she was at the boarding house conversing with her
gate of the house where they eventually parted ways. cousin. Then in the course of her narration, she gave
This is inconceivable. It is not the natural tendency of a another version and said that when she reached the
man to remain for long by the side of the woman he had boarding house it was dark and there was nobody
22
raped, and in public in a highly populated area at that. inside.
Given the stealth that accompanies it and the anxiety to
end further exposure at the scene, the logical post- The apparent ease with which she changed or adjusted
incident impulse of the felon is to distance himself from her answers in order to cover up or realign the same
his victim as far and as soon as practicable, to avoid with her prior inconsistent statements is readily apparent
discovery and apprehension. It is to be expected that from her testimony even on this single episode, thus:
one who is guilty of a crime would want to dissociate
himself from the person of his victim, the scene of the Q Sometime on January 21, 1994, at about 7:00 o'clock
crime, and from all other things and circumstances in the evening, do you remember where you were?
related to the offense which could possibly implicate him
or give rise to even the slightest suspicion as to his guilt.
A Yes, sir.
Verily, the guilty flee where no man pursueth.
Q Where were you?
It is of common knowledge that facts which prove or tend
to prove that the accused was at the scene of the crime
are admissible as relevant, on the theory that such A I was in the boarding house of Merlylyn Casantosan,
presence can be appreciated as a circumstance tending Sir.
23
to identify the appellant. Consequently, it is not in
accord with human experience for appellant to have let xxx xxx xxx
himself be seen with the complainant immediately after
24
he had allegedly raped her. It thus behooves this Court Q Why were you there?
to reject the notion that appellant would be so foolhardy
as to accompany complainant up to the gate of the A I was conversing with my friend there, Sir.
house, considering its strategic location vis-a-vis
complainant's boarding house which is just across the
25 COURT:
street, and the PNS schoolbuilding which is only
26
around thirty meters away.
Q Conversing with whom?
Complainant mentioned in her narration that right after
the incident she went directly to her boarding house A With my cousin, Your Honor.
where she saw her landlady. Yet, the landlady was
never presented as a witness to corroborate the story of Q Your cousin's name?
complainant, despite the fact that the former was the
very first person she came in contact with from the time A Merlylyn Casantosan, Your Honor.
appellant allegedly left her at the gate of the Casantosan
boarding house after her alleged traumatic ordeal. Even xxx xxx xxx
though they supposedly did not talk, the landlady could
at least have testified on complainant's physical
appearance and to attest to the theorized fact that PROSECUTOR GUAYCO:
indeed she saw complainant on said date and hour,
possibly with dishevelled hair, bloody skirt and all. Q You said that this Dane or Danny Godoy raped you,
will you please relate to this Honorable Court how that
We are, therefore, justifiedly inclined to believe rape happened?
appellant's version that it was Mia Taha who invited him
to the boarding house to help her with the monologue A On Friday and it was 7:00 o'clock in the evening.
she was preparing for the school contest. This is even
consonant with her testimony that appellant fetched her COURT:
the following day in order to solicit funds for her
candidacy in that same school affair. Q Of what date?
29
A January 21, 1994, Your Honor. the lack of employment of physical force. In rape of the
nature alleged in this case, we repeat, the testimony of
xxx xxx xxx the complainant must be corroborated by physical
30
evidence showing use of force.
PROSECUTOR GUAYCO:
Thus, on the basis of the laceration inflicted, which is
superficial at 6 o'clock position, the aforesaid medico-
Q Then what happened?
legal expert opined that it could not be categorically
stated that there was force involved. On further
A I went to the boarding house of my cousin Merlylyn questioning, he gave a straightforward answer that force
Casantosan. I passed (through) the kitchen and then 31
was not applied. He also added that when he
when I opened the door somebody grabbed me examined the patient bodily, he did not see any sign of
suddenly. 32
bruises. The absence of any sign of physical violence
on the complainant's body is an indication of
33
xxx xxx xxx complainant's consent to the act. While the absence in
the medical certificate of external signs of physical
Q During that time were there other people present in injuries on the victim does not necessarily negate the
34
that boarding house where you said Danny Godoy raped commission of rape, the instant case is clearly an
you? exception to this rule since appellant has successfully
cast doubt on the veracity of that charge against him.
A None, Sir.
Even granting ex gratia argumenti that the medical
COURT: report and the laceration corroborated complainant's
assertion that there was sexual intercourse, of course
the same cannot be said as to the alleged use of force. It
Q So, the house was empty?
has been held that such corroborative evidence is not
considered sufficient, since proof of facts constituting
A Yes, Your Honor. one principal element of the crime is not corroborative
proof of facts necessary to constitute another equally
35
Q I thought your cousin was there and you were important element of the crime.
conversing?
Complainant testified that she struggled a little but it was
27
A When I went there she was not there, Your Honor. not really strong because she was afraid of appellant.
(Corrections and emphasis supplied.) Again assuming that a sexual assault did take place as
she claims, we nevertheless strongly believe that her
2. Complainant testified that appellant raped her through supposed fear is more imaginary than real. It is evident
the use of force and intimidation, specifically by holding that complainant did not use the manifest resistance
a knife to her neck. However, the element of force was expected of a woman defending her honor and chastity.
36
not sufficiently established. The physical facts adverted She failed to make any outcry when appellant
to by the lower court as corroborative of the allegedly grabbed her and dragged her inside the house.
prosecution's theory on the use of force are undoubtedly There is likewise no evidence on record that she put up
the medico-legal findings of Dr. Rogelio Divinagracia. a struggle when appellant forced her to lie on the floor,
Upon closer scrutiny, however, we find that said findings removed her panty, opened the zipper of his trousers,
neither support nor confirm the charge that rape was so and inserted his organ inside her genitals. Neither did
committed through forcible means by appellant against she demonstrate that appellant, in committing the
complainant on January 21, 1994. heinous act, subjected her to any force of whatever
nature or form.
The reported hymenal laceration which, according to Dr.
Divinagracia, was a week old and already healed, and Complainant's explanation for her failure to shout or
the conclusion therefrom that complainant had sexual struggle is too conveniently general and ruefully
intercourse with a man on the date which she alleged, unconvincing to make this Court believe that she
do not establish the supposed rape since the same tenaciously resisted the alleged sexual attack on her by
findings and conclusion are likewise consistent with appellant. And, if ever she did put up any struggle or
appellant's admission that coitus took place with the objected at all to the involuntary intercourse, such was
consent of complainant at Sunset Garden on January not enough to show the kind of resistance expected of a
28 37
24, 1994. Further, rather than substantiating the woman defending her virtue and honor. Her failure to
prosecution's aforesaid theory and the supposed date of do anything while allegedly being raped renders doubtful
38
commission of rape, the finding that there were no her charge of rape, especially when we consider the
evident signs of extra-genital injuries tends, instead, to actual mise-en-scene in the context of her
lend more credence to appellant's claim of voluntary asseverations.
coition on a later date and the absence of a struggle or
There is a rule that the rape victim's panty and blood- attitude is totally at odds with the demeanor that would
stained dress are not essential, and need not be naturally be expected of a person who had just suffered
43
presented, as they are not indispensable evidence to the ultimate invasion of her womanhood.
39
prove rape. We incline to the view, however, that this
general rule holds true only if there exist other III. Rape is a very emotional word, and the natural
corroborative evidence sufficiently and convincingly human reactions to it are categorical: admiration and
proving the rape charge beyond reasonable doubt. The sympathy for the courageous female publicly seeking
rule should go the other way where, as in the present retribution for her outrageous violation, and
case, the testimony of complainant is inherently weak condemnation of the rapist. However, being interpreters
and no other physical evidence has been presented to of the law and dispensers of justice, judges must look at
bolster the charge of sexual abuse except for the a rape charge without those proclivities, and deal with it
medical report which, as earlier discussed, even negated with extreme caution and circumspection. Judges must
the existence of one of the essential elements of the free themselves of the natural tendency to be
crime. We cannot, therefore, escape the irresistible overprotective of every woman decrying her having been
conclusion that the deliberate non-presentation of sexually abused, and demanding punishment for the
complainant's blood-stained skirt, if it did exist, should abuser. While they ought to be cognizant of the anguish
vigorously militate against the prosecution's cause. and humiliation the rape victim goes through as she
demands justice, judges should equally bear in mind that
II. The conduct of the outraged woman immediately their responsibility is to render justice based on the law.
44
following the alleged assault is of the utmost importance
as tending to establish the truth or falsity of the charge. It
may well be doubted whether a conviction for the The rule, therefore, that this Court generally desists from
offense of rape should even be sustained from the disturbing the conclusions of the trial court on the
uncorroborated testimony of the woman unless the court 45
credibility of witnesses will not apply where the
is satisfied beyond doubt that her conduct at the time evidence of record fails to support or substantiate the
when the alleged rape was committed and immediately lower court's findings of fact and conclusions; or where
thereafter was such as might be reasonably expected the lower court overlooked certain facts of substance
from her under all the circumstances of the and value that, if considered, would affect the outcome
of the case; or where the disputed decision is based on
40 46
case. a misapprehension of facts.

Complainant said that on the day following the supposed The trial court here unfortunately relied solely on the
rape, appellant went to her parents' house and asked lone testimony of complainant regarding the January 21,
permission from them to allow her to go with him to 1994 incident. Indeed, it is easy to allege that one was
solicit funds for her candidacy. Nowhere throughout her raped by a man. All that the victim had to testify to was
entire testimony did she aver or imply that appellant was that appellant poked a knife at her, threatened to kill her
armed and that by reason thereof she was forced to if she shouted and under these threats, undressed her
leave with him. In brief, she was neither threatened nor and had sexual intercourse with her. The question then
intimidated by appellant. Her pretense that she was that confronts the trial court is whether or not
47
afraid of the supposed threat previously made by complainant's testimony is credible. The technique in
appellant does not inspire belief since appellant was deciphering testimony is not to solely concentrate on
alone and unarmed on that occasion and there was no isolated parts of that testimony. The correct meaning of
showing of any opportunity for him to make good his the testimony can often be ascertained only upon a
threat, even assuming that he had really voiced any. On perusal of the entire testimony. Everything stated by the
the contrary, complainant even admitted that appellant witness has to be considered in relation to what else has
48
respectfully asked permission from her parents for her to been stated.
accompany him.
In the case at bar, the challenged decision definitely
Complainant's enigmatic behavior after her alleged leaves much to be desired. The court below made no
ravishment can only be described as paradoxical: it was serious effort to dispassionately or impartially consider
41
so strangely normal as to be abnormal. It seems odd, the totality of the evidence for the prosecution in spite of
if not incredible, that upon seeing the person who had the teaching in various rulings that in rape cases, the
allegedly raped her only the day before, she did not testimony of the offended party must not be accepted
49
accuse, revile or denounce him, or show rage, revulsion, with precipitate credulity. In finding that the crime of
42
and disgust. Instead, she meekly went with appellant rape was committed, the lower court took into account
despite the presence of her parents and the proximity of only that portion of the testimony of complainant
neighbors which, if only for such facts, would naturally regarding the January 21, 1994 incident and
have deterred appellant from pursuing any evil design. conveniently deleted the rest. Taken singly, there would
From her deportment, it does not appear that the alleged be reason to believe that she was indeed raped. But if
threat made by appellant had instilled any fear in the we are to consider the other portions of her testimony
mind of complainant. Such a nonchalant, unconcerned concerning the events which transpired thereafter, which
unfortunately the court a quo wittingly or unwittingly COURT:
failed or declined to appreciate, the actual truth could
have been readily exposed. Alright (sic) you go down the witness stand and find out
for yourself if you can open that door from the inside.
There are easily perceived or discernible defects in
complainant's testimony which inveigh against its being CLERK OF COURT:
accorded the full credit it was given by the trial court.
Considered independently of any other, the defects
Witness holding the doorknob.
might not suffice to overturn the trial court's judgment of
conviction; but assessed and weighed conjointly, as
logic and fairness dictate, they exert a powerful COURT:
50
compulsion towards reversal of said judgment. Thus:
The key is made to open if you are outside, but as you're
1. Complainant said that she was continuously raped by were (sic) inside you can open it?
herein appellant at the Sunset Garden and around three
times at Edward's Subdivision. In her sworn statement A Yes, sir.
she made the same allegations. If this were true, it is
inconceivable how the investigating prosecutor could Q Is there no other lock aside from that doorknob that
have overlooked these facts with their obvious legal you held?
implications and, instead, filed an information charging
appellant with only one count of rape. The incredibility of A There was, Your Honor.
complainant's representations is further magnified by the
fact that even the trial court did not believe it, as may be
Q What is that?
inferred from its failure to consider this aspect of her
testimony, unless we were to uncharitably assume that it
was similarly befuddled. A The one that slides, Your Honor.

2. She claims that appellant always carried a knife, but it Q And that is used when you are already inside?
was never explained how she was threatened with the
52
same in such a manner that she was allegedly always A Yes, Your Honor. (Emphases ours.)
cowed into giving in to his innumerable sexual demands.
We are not unaware that in rape cases, this claim that 5. During their entire stay at the Sunset Garden or even
complainant now advances appears to be a common at Edward's Subdivision, beyond supposedly offering
testimonial expedient and face-saving subterfuge. token or futile resistance to the latter's sexual advances,
she made no outcry, no attempt to flee or attract
53
3. According to her, they stayed at Sunset Garden for attention to her plight. In her own declaration,
three days and three nights and that she never noticed if complainant mentioned that when they checked in at
appellant slept because she never saw him close his Sunset Garden, she saw the cashier at the information
eyes. Yet, when asked if she slept side by side with counter where appellant registered. She did not do
appellant, complainant admitted that everytime she woke anything, despite the fact that appellant at that time was
51
up, appellant was invariably in bed beside her. admittedly not armed. She likewise stated that a room
boy usually went to their room and brought them food. If
4. She alleged that she could never go out of the room indeed she was bent on fleeing from appellant, she
because it was always locked and it could not be opened could have grabbed every possible opportunity to
from the inside. But, this was refuted by complainant's escape. Inexplicably, she did not. What likewise appears
own testimony, as follows: puzzling is the prosecution's failure to present these two
people she mentioned and whose testimonies could
have bolstered or corroborated complainant's story.
Q And yet the door could be opened by you from the
inside?
6. When appellant fetched complainant in the afternoon
of January 22, 1994, they left the house together and
A No, Sir, it was locked.
walked in going to the highway. In her own testimony,
complainant stated that appellant went ahead of her. It is
Q Can you describe the lock of that room? highly improbable, if appellant really had evil motives,
that he would be that careless. It is likewise beyond
A It's like that of the door where there is a doorknob. comprehension that appellant was capable of instilling
such fear in complainant that she could not dare take
ATTY. EBOL: advantage of the situation, in spite of the laxity of
appellant, and run as far away from him as possible
Let it be recorded that the lock is a doorknob and may I despite all the chances therefor.
ask that the door be locked and opened from the inside.
7. Helen Taha, the mother of Mia, testified that as a 3. Benedicto Rubio, the younger brother of Fernando,
result of the filing of the rape case, complainant was testified on redirect examination that he asked Mia if she
dropped from school and was not allowed to graduate. knew what she getting into and she answered, "Yes;"
This is absurd. Rather than support and commiserate then he asked her if she really loved Sir Godoy, and she
with the ill-fated victim of rape, it would appear that the again answered in the affirmative. When he was trying to
school authorities were heartless people who turned give counsel to appellant, complainant announced that if
58
their backs on her and considered her an outcast. That appellant left her, she would commit suicide. He could
59
would be adding insult to injury. But what is more see that the couple were happy together.
abstruse yet significant is that Mia and her parents were
never heard to complain about this apparent injustice. 4. Isagani Virey, who knew appellant because the
Such complacency cannot but make one think and Municipal Engineering Office where he worked was
conclude that there must necessarily have been a valid located within the premises of PNS, attested that he was
justification for the drastic action taken by the school and able to talk to the couple and that when he was advising
the docile submission thereto by the Taha family. appellant that what he was doing is wrong because he is
married and Mia is his student, complainant reacted by
On the other hand, in evaluating appellant's testimony, saying that no matter what happened she would not
the trial court's decision was replete with sweeping leave Godoy, and that if she went home her father would
60 61
statements and generalizations. It chose to focus on kill her. He also observed that they were happy.
certain portions of appellant's testimony, declared them
to be preposterous and abnormal, and then hastened to 5. Erna Baradero, a co-teacher of appellant, saw the
conclude that appellant is indeed guilty. The court in couple the day before the alleged rape incident, inside
effect rendered a judgment of conviction based, not on one of the classrooms and they were holding hands, and
the strength of the prosecution's evidence, but on the she heard Mia tell appellant, "Mahal na mahal kita Sir,
weakness of that of the defense, which is totally 62
iwanan mo ang iyong asawa at tatakas tayo." She tried
repugnant to the elementary and time-honored rule that to dissuade complainant from continuing with her
conviction should be made on the basis of strong, clear relationship with appellant.
63
54
and compelling evidence of the prosecution.
The positive allegations of appellant that he was having
IV. The main defense proffered by appellant is that he an intimate relationship with complainant, which were
and complainant were sweethearts. While the substantially corroborated by several witnesses, were
"sweetheart theory" does not often gain favor with this never successfully confuted. The rebuttal testimony of
Court, such is not always the case if the hard fact is that complainant merely consisted of bare, unexplained
the accused and the supposed victim are, in truth, denials of the positive, definite, consistent and detailed
intimately related except that, as is usual in most cases, 64
assertions of appellant. Mere denials are self-serving
either the relationship is illicit or the victim's parents are negative evidence. They cannot obtain evidentiary
against it. It is not improbable that in some instances, weight greater than the declarations of credible
when the relationship is uncovered, the alleged victim or disinterested witnesses.
65

her parents for that matter would rather take the risk of
instituting a criminal action in the hope that the court
Besides, appellant recounted certain facts that only he
would take the cudgels for them than for the woman to
could have supplied. They were replete with details
admit to her own acts of indiscretion. And this, as the
which could have been known only to him, thereby
records reveal, is precisely what happened to appellant. 66
lending credence and reliability thereto. His assertions
are more logical, probable and bear the earmarks of
Appellant's claim that he and complainant were lovers is truth. This is not to say that the testimony of appellant
fortified by the highly credible testimonies of several should be accorded full credence. His self-interest must
witnesses for the defense, viz.: have colored his account, even on the assumption that
he could be trusted to stick to the literal truth.
1. Filomena Pielago testified that on the night of January Nonetheless, there is much in his version that does not
21, 1994, she saw appellant and complainant sitting on a strain the limits of credulity. More to the point, there is
bench in front of the house where the sexual attack enough to raise doubts that do appear to have some
67
allegedly took place, and the couple were talking basis in reality.
intimately. She had warned Mia about the latter's illicit
affair with appellant. Thus, the trial court's hasty pontification that appellant's
testimony is improbable, ridiculous, nonsensical and
2. Fernando Rubio, an acquaintance of appellant and incredible is highly uncalled for. The rule of falsus in uno,
owner of the house at Edward's Subdivision, testified falsus in omnibus is not mandatory. It is not a positive
68
that he asked Mia why she decided to have an affair with rule of law and is not an inflexible one. It does not
appellant who is a married man. Mia answered that she apply where there is sufficient corroboration on many
55 56
really loves him. He heard her call appellant "Papa". grounds of the testimony and the supposed
The couple looked happy and were sweet to each other. inconsistencies arise merely from a desire of the witness
57 69
to exculpate himself although not completely.
Complainant's denial that she and appellant were lovers mismo binigyan ako ng gamot samantalang noong
is belied by the evidence presented by the defense, the Sabado ng gabi lang nalaman dahil gusto kong masuka.
most telling of which are her two handwritten letters, Oo aaminin ko nagkasala ako sa iyo, pinabilanggo kita
Exhibits "1" and "2", which she sent to the latter while he dahil nagpanig ako sa mga magulang ko nadala nila ako
was detained at the provincial jail. For analysis and sa sulsul nila. hindi ko naipaglaban ang dapat kong
emphasis, said letters are herein quoted in full: ipaglaban ngunit kong iniisip mong minahal lang kita
dahil sa may kailangan lang ako sa iyo nagkakamali ka.
27 Feb. 94 alam ng Diyos na hindi ganon ang hangarin ko sa iyo.
higit pa sa binilanggo ang kalagayan ko kong alam mo.
kinukunsinsiya, nagtitiis na saktan at pagsasakripisyo ng
Dane,
damdamin ko na gusto kang makita at yakapin ka pero
ano ang magagawa ko kong ang paglabas ko ng bahay
Kumusta kana? Kong ako hito hindi na makatiis sa sakit. ay hindi ako makalabas ng mag isa may guardiya pa.
tanungin mo si Lorna kong ano ginagawa nilang
Sir, sumulat ako sa inyo dahil gusto kong malaman mo pagbantay sa akin para akong puganti. hindi ito ayon sa
ang situation ko. Sir, kong mahal mo ako gagawa kang kagustuhan ng mga magulang ko sarili kong plano ito.
paraan na mailayo ako dito sa bahay. nalaman ng nanay Magtitiis pa ba akong hindi makakain maghapon tubig
at tatay ko na delayed ang mens ko ng one week. lang ang laman ng tiyan, kong may masama akong
pinapainom nila ako ng pampalaglag pero ayaw ko. hangarin sa iyo.
pagnalaman nila na hindi ko ininom ang gamot
sinasaktan nila ako. Oo, magtiis ako para maipakita kong mahal rin kita.
March 2 darating ako sa bahay na sinasabi mo. hindi ko
Sir, kong maari ay huwag ng maabutan ng Martes. dahil matiyak kong anong oras dahil kukuha pa ako ng
naabutan nila akong maglayas sana ako. kaya ngayon tiyempo na wala rito ang tatay ko. Alam mo bang pati
hindi ako makalabas ng bahay kong wala akong ang kapatid kong si Rowena ay inuutusan akong
kasama, kong gaano sila kahigpit noon doble pa lumayas dahil naawa no siya sa situation ko. siya lang
ngayon. ang mga gamit ko ngayon ay wala sa lalagyan ang kakampi ko rito sa bahay malaki ang pag-asa kong
ko. tinago nila hindi ko makita, ang narito lang ay ang makalabas ako ng bahay sa tulong niya.
bihisan kong luma. Sir kong manghiram ka kaya ng
motor na gagamitin sa pagkuha sa akin. Sa lunes ng Love you
gabi manonood kami Ng Veta eksakto alas 9:00 ay
dapat dito ka sa lugar na may Veta. tanungin mo lang 71
kay Lorna kong saan ang Veta nila Navoor Lozot. Mag (Sgd.) Mia Taha
busina ka lang ng tatlo bilang senyas na lalabas na ako
at huwag kang tatapat ng bahay dahil nandoon ang kuya There is absolutely nothing left to the imagination. The
ko. kong ano ang disisyon mo maari bang magsulat ka letters eloquently speak for themselves. It was
at ipahatid kay Lorna. complainant's handwriting which spilled the beans, so to
speak. Aside from appellant, two other defense
witnesses identified the handwriting on the letters as
alang-alang sa bata. Baka makainon ako ng gamot dahil
belonging to Mia Taha. They are Filomena Pielago and
baka pagkain ko hahaluan nila.
Erna Baradero who were admittedly the former teachers
of complainant and highly familiar with her handwriting.
Please sir . . . The greatest blunder committed by the trial court was in
ignoring the testimonies of these qualified witnesses and
70
(Sgd.) Mia Taha refusing to give any probative value to these two vital
pieces of evidence, on the dubious and lame pretext that
3/1/94 no handwriting expert was presented to analyze and
evaluate the same.
Dane,
Well-entrenched by now is the rule that resort to
I'm sorry kong problem ang ipinadala o sinulat sa iyo sa questioned document examiners, more familiarly called
halip sa kasiyahan. oo nag usap na tayo nagawa ko lang handwriting experts, is not mandatory. Handwriting
naman ang sumulat sa iyo dahil naiinis na ako sa experts, while probably useful, are not indispensable in
72
pagmumukha ng mga magulang kong suwapang. Ang examining or comparing handwriting. This is so since
paglayas ko sana ay dahil sa narinig ko. Sir narinig ko under Section 22, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, the
na magreklamo si nanay kay Arquero yong handwriting of a person may be proved by any witness
superentende sa Palawan high tapos ang sabi ay who believes it to be the handwriting of such person,
magreklamo itong si Arquero sa DECS para matanggal because he has seen the person write, or has seen
ka sa pagtuturo yan ang dahilan kong bakit naisipan writing purporting to be his upon which the witness has
kong lumayas ng wala sa oras at wala akong tensyon na acted or been charged, and has thus acquired
masama laban so iyo. hindi ko sinabi sa kanila na knowledge of the handwriting of such person. The said
delayed ako ay sinabi sa iyo ni Eden na sa harap niya section further provides that evidence respecting the
handwriting may also be given by a comparison, made Q I will show you Exhibit "4-A", will you please examine
by the witness or the court, with writings admitted or this Exhibit "4-A" and tell this Honorable Court if you are
treated as genuine by the party against whom the familiar with that.
evidence is offered or proved to be genuine to the
73
satisfaction of the judge. A What subject is that?

The defense witnesses were able to identify Q I am just asking you whether you are familiar with that.
complainant's handwriting on the basis of the
examination papers submitted to them by her in their
A I cannot remember if I have this kind of subject, sir.
respective subjects. This Court has likewise carefully
examined and compared the handwriting on the letters
with the standard writing appearing on the test papers as Q How about this signature Mia Taha, are you not
specimens for comparison and, contrary to the familiar with that signature?
observations and conclusions of the lower court, we are
convinced beyond doubt that they were written by one A That is min(e), sir.
and the same person. More importantly, complainant
herself categorically admitted that the handwriting on the Q I will show you Exhibit "4-C" which appears to be that
questioned letters belongs to her. in Math, are you familiar with that signature?

It is, therefore, extremely disconcerting, to say the least, A Yes, sir.


why the trial court again chose to turn a deaf ear to this
conclusive portion of complainant's testimony: Q That is your signature?

ATTY. EBOL: A Yes, sir.

Q Did I get you right on rebuttal that Mrs. Erna Baradero Q In fact, these letters in alphabet here are in your own
and Filomena Pielago were your teachers? handwriting?

A Yes, sir. A Yes, sir.

Q And they have been your teachers for several months xxx xxx xxx
before this incident of January 21, 1994, am I not
correct?
Q You will deny this Exhibit "1" your signature?

A That is true, sir.


xxx xxx xxx
Q And you have (sic) during these past months that they
Q You will deny that this is your handwriting?
have been your teachers you took examinations in their
classes in their particular subject(s)?
A That is my handwriting, sir.
A Yes, sir.
Q Also Exhibit "2"?
Q And some of those test papers are in the possession 74
of your teachers, am I correct? A Yes, sir.

A Yes, sir. While rebuttal witness Lorna Casantosan insisted that


she never delivered any letter of complainant to herein
appellant, the witness presented by the defense on sur-
Q I will show you Exhibit "4" previously marked as
rebuttal, Armando Pasion, who was the guard on duty at
Exhibit "4", it appears to be your test paper and with your
the provincial jail at that time, testified of his own accord
signature and the alphabet appears in this exhibit
because he knew that what Casantosan said was a
appears to be that of Mia Taha, please examine this and
blatant lie. Appellant never talked to Amando Pasion nor
tell the Honorable Court if that is your test paper?
requested him to testify for the defense, as related by
the witness himself. Hence, there exists no reason
A Yes, sir. whatsoever to disbelieve the testimony of witness
Pasion to the effect that Lorna Casantosan actually went
Q That signature Mia Taha I understand is also your to visit appellant in jail and in truth handed to him what
signature? turned out to be the letters marked as Exhibits "1" and
"2" for the defense.
A Yes, sir.
V. The prosecution insists that the offer of compromise hindi ko naipaglaban ang dapat kong ipaglaban,"
made by appellant is deemed to be an admission of obviously referring to her ineptitude and impotence in
guilt. This inference does not arise in the instant case. In helping appellant out of his predicament. It could,
criminal cases, an offer of compromise is generally therefore, be safely presumed that the rape charge was
admissible as evidence against the party making it. It is merely an offshoot of the discovery by her parents of the
a legal maxim, which assuredly constitutes one of the intimate relationship between her and appellant. In order
bases of the right to penalize, that in the matter of public to avoid retribution from her parents, together with the
crimes which directly affect the public interest, no moral pressure exerted upon her by her mother, she was
compromise whatever may be entered into as regards forced to concoct her account of the alleged rape.
the penal action. It has long been held, however, that in
such cases the accused is permitted to show that the The Court takes judicial cognizance of the fact that in
offer was not made under a consciousness of guilt, but rural areas in the Philippines, young ladies are strictly
merely to avoid the inconvenience of imprisonment or for required to act with circumspection and prudence. Great
some other reason which would justify a claim by the caution is observed so that their reputations shall remain
accused that the offer to compromise was not in truth an untainted. Any breath of scandal which brings dishonor
admission of his guilt or an attempt to avoid the legal to their character humiliates their entire families.
80
It
consequences which would ordinarily ensue therefrom. could precisely be that complainant's mother wanted to
75
save face in the community where everybody knows
everybody else, and in an effort to conceal her
A primary consideration here is that the evidence for the daughter's indiscretion and escape the wagging tongues
defense overwhelmingly proves appellant's innocence of of their small rural community, she had to weave the
the offense charged. Further, the supposed offer of scenario of this rape drama.
marriage did not come from appellant but was actually
suggested by a certain Naem, who is an imam or Muslim Although the trial court did observe that a mother would
leader and who likewise informed appellant that he could not sacrifice her daughter to tell a story of defloration,
be converted into a Muslim so he could marry that is not always the case as this Court has noted a
complainant. As a matter of fact, when said offer was long time ago. The books disclose too many instances of
first made to appellant, he declined because of the fact false charges of rape.
81
While this Court has, in
that he was already married. On top of these, appellant numerous cases, affirmed the judgments of conviction
did not know, not until the trial proper, that his mother rendered by trial courts in rape charges, especially
actually paid P30,000.00 for the settlement of these where the offended parties were very young and
cases. Complainant's own mother, Helen Taha, testified presumptively had no ill motives to concoct a story just
that present during the negotiations were herself, her to secure indictments for a crime as grave as rape, the
husband, Mia, and appellant's mother. Appellant himself Court has likewise reversed judgments of conviction and
76
was never present in any of said meetings. acquitted the accused when there are strong indications
pointing to the possibility that the rape charges were
It has been held that where the accused was not present merely motivated by some factors except the truth as to
82
at the time the offer for monetary consideration was their commission. This is a case in point. The Court,
made, such offer of compromise would not save the day therefore, cannot abdicate its duty to declare that the
77
for the prosecution. In another case, this Court ruled prosecution has failed to meet the exacting test of moral
that no implied admission can be drawn from the efforts certainty and proof of guilt of appellant beyond
to arrive at a settlement outside the court, where the reasonable doubt.
accused did not take part in any of the negotiations and
the effort to settle the case was in accordance with the This is not to say that the Court approves of the conduct
established tribal customs, that is, Muslim practices and of appellant. Indisputably, he took advantage of
traditions, in an effort to prevent further deterioration of complainant's feelings for him and breached his vow of
78
the relations between the parties. fidelity to his wife. As her teacher, he should have acted
as adviser and counselor to complainant and helped her
VI. Generally, an affidavit of desistance by the develop in manners and virtue instead of corrupting her.
83
complainant is not looked upon with favor. It may, Hence, even as he is freed from physical detention in
however, create serious doubts as to the liability of a prison as an instrument of human justice, he remains
appellant, especially if it corroborates appellant's in the spiritual confinement of his conscience as a
79
explanation about the filing of criminal charges. measure of divine retribution. Additionally, these
ruminations do not rule out such other legal options
In the cases at bar, the letters written by complainant to against him as may be available in the arsenal of
appellant are very revealing. Most probably written out of statutory law.
desperation and exasperation with the way she was
being treated by her parents, complainant threw all VII. The trial court, in holding for conviction, relied on the
caution to the winds when she wrote: "Oo, aaminin ko presumptio hominis that a young Filipina will not charge
nagkasala ako sa iyo, pinabilanggo kita dahil nagpanig a person with rape if it is not true. In the process,
ako sa mga magulang ko nadala nila ako sa sulsul nila, however, it totally disregarded the more paramount
constitutional presumption that an accused is deemed balance the scales in what would otherwise be an
innocent until proven otherwise. uneven contest between the lone individual pitted
against the People and all the resources at their
It frequently happens that in a particular case two or command. Its inexorable mandate is that, for all the
more presumptions are involved. Sometimes the authority and influence of the prosecution, the accused
presumptions conflict, one tending to demonstrate the must be acquitted and set free if his guilt cannot be
87
guilt of the accused and the other his innocence. In such proved beyond the whisper of a doubt. This is in
case, it is necessary to examine the basis for each consonance with the rule that conflicts in evidence must
presumption and determine what logical or social basis be resolved upon the theory of innocence rather than
88
exists for each presumption, and then determine which upon a theory of guilt when it is possible to do so.
should be regarded as the more important and entitled to
prevail over the other. It must, however, be remembered On the basis of the foregoing doctrinal tenets and
that the existence of a presumption indicating guilt does principles, and in conjunction with the overwhelming
not in itself destroy the presumption against innocence evidence in favor of herein appellant, we do not
unless the inculpating presumption, together with all of encounter any difficulty in concluding that the
the evidence, or the lack of any evidence or explanation, constitutional presumption on the innocence of an
is sufficient to overcome the presumption of innocence accused must prevail in this particular indictment.
by proving the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt. Until the defendant's guilt is shown in this B. The Kidnapping/Illegal Detention Case
84
manner, the presumption of innocence continues.
It is basic that for kidnapping to exist, there must be
The rationale for the presumption of guilt in rape cases indubitable proof that the actual intent of the malefactor
has been explained in this wise: 89
was to deprive the offended party of her liberty. In the
present charge for that crime, such intent has not at all
In rape cases especially, much credence is accorded the been established by the prosecution. Prescinding from
testimony of the complaining witness, on the theory that the fact that the Taha spouses desisted from pursuing
she will not choose to accuse her attacker at all and this charge which they themselves instituted, several
subject herself to the stigma and indignities her grave and irreconcilable inconsistencies bedevil the
accusation will entail unless she is telling the truth. The prosecution's evidence thereon and cast serious doubts
rape victim who decides to speak up exposes herself as on the guilt of appellant, as hereunder explained:
a woman whose virtue has been not only violated but
also irreparably sullied. In the eyes of a narrow-minded To recall, complainant testified that appellant by himself
society, she becomes a cheapened woman, never mind went to fetch her at her parents' house the day after the
that she did not submit to her humiliation and has in fact alleged rape incident. In her own words, appellant
denounced her assailant. At the trial, she will be the courteously asked her parents to permit her to help him
object of lascivious curiosity. People will want to be solicit contributions for her candidacy. When they left the
titillated by the intimate details of her violation. She will house, appellant walked ahead of her, obviously with her
squirm through her testimony as she describes how her parents and their neighbors witnessing their departure. It
honor was defiled, relating every embarrassing is difficult to comprehend how one could deduce from
movement of the intrusion upon the most private parts of these normal and innocuous arrangement any felonious
her body. Most frequently, the defense will argue that intent of appellant to deprive complainant of her liberty.
she was not forced to submit but freely conjoined in the One will look in vain for a case where a kidnapping was
sexual act. Her motives will be impugned. Her chastity committed under such inauspicious circumstances as
will be challenged and maligned. Whatever the outcome described by complainant.
of the case, she will remain a tainted woman, a pariah
because her purity has been lost, albeit through no fault
Appellant declared that when they left the house of the
of hers. This is why many a rape victim chooses instead
Taha family, complainant was bringing with her a plastic
to keep quiet, suppressing her helpless indignation
bag which later turned out to contain her clothes. This
rather than denouncing her attacker. This is also the
bag was left behind by Mia at Edward's Subdivision, as
reason why, if a woman decides instead to come out
hereinbefore noted, and was later delivered to appellant
openly and point to her assailant, courts
by Benedicto Rubio. Again, we cannot conceive of a
ridiculous situation where the kidnap victim was first
are prone to believe that she is telling the truth allowed to prepare and pack her clothes, as if she was
85
regardless of its consequences. . . . merely leaving for a pleasant sojourn with the criminal,
all these with the knowledge and consent of her parents
The presumption of innocence, on the other hand, is who passively looked on without comment.
founded upon the first principles of justice, and is not a
mere form but a substantial part of the law. It is not Complainant alleged that appellant always kept her
overcome by mere suspicion or conjecture; a probability locked inside the room which they occupied, whether at
that the defendant committed the crime; nor by the fact Sunset Garden or at Edward's Subdivision, and that she
86
that he had the opportunity to do so. Its purpose is to could not unlock the door from the inside. We must,
however, recall that when she was asked on cross- about said clothes, strengthens and reinforces our
examination about the kind of lock that was used, she impression of an apparently whimsical exercise of
pointed to the doorknob of the courtroom. The court then discretion by the court below. Matters which could have
ordered that the door of the courtroom be locked and been easily verified were thus cavalierly dismissed and
then asked complainant to open it from the inside. She supplanted by a conjecture, and on such inferential basis
was easily able to do so and, in fact, she admitted that a conclusion was then drawn by said court.
the two locks in the room at Sunset Garden could also
be opened from the inside in the same manner. This We accordingly deem it necessary to reiterate an early
demonstrably undeniable fact was never assailed by the and highly regarded disquisition of this Court against the
prosecution. It also failed to rebut the testimony of practice of excluding evidence in the erroneous manner
Fernando Rubio that the room which was occupied by adopted by the trial court:
the couple at Edward's Subdivision could not even be
locked because the lock thereof was broken.
It has been observed that justice is most effectively and
expeditiously administered where trivial objections to the
When the couple transferred to Edward's Subdivision, admission of proof are received with least favor. The
they walked along the national highway in broad practice of excluding evidence on doubtful objections to
daylight. Complainant, therefore, had more than ample its materiality or technical objections to the form of the
opportunity to seek the help of other people and free questions should be avoided. In a case of any intricacy it
herself from appellant if it were true that she was forcibly is impossible for a judge of first instance, in the early
90
kidnapped and abused by the latter. In fact, several stages of the development of the proof, to know with any
opportunities to do so had presented themselves from certainty whether the testimony is relevant or not; and
the time they left complainant's home and during their where there is no indication of bad faith on the part of
extended stay in the hotel and in the lodging house. the attorney offering the evidence, the court may as a
rule safely accept the testimony upon the statement of
According to appellant, he went to see the parents of the attorney that the proof offered will be connected
complainant the day after they went to Sunset Garden to later. Moreover, it must be remembered that in the heat
inform them that Mia spent the night in said place. This of the battle over which he presides, a judge of first
was neither denied nor impugned by Helen Taha, her instance may possibly fall into error in judging the
husband, or any other person. On the other hand, the relevancy of proof where a fair and logical connection is
allegation of Helen Taha that she made a report to the in fact shown. When such a mistake is made and the
police about her missing daughter was not supported by proof is erroneously ruled out, the Supreme Court, upon
any corroborative evidence, such as the police blotter, appeal, often finds itself embarrassed and possibly
nor was the police officer to whom she allegedly unable to correct the effects of the error without returning
reported the incident ever identified or presented in the case for a new trial, a step which this court is always
court. very loath to take. On the other hand, the admission of
proof in a court of first instance, even if the question as
We agree with appellant's contention that the to its form, materiality, or relevancy is doubtful, can
prosecution failed to prove any motive on his part for the never result in much harm to either litigant, because the
commission of the crime charged. In one case, this trial judge is supposed to know the law and it is its duty,
Court rejected the kidnapping charge where there was upon final consideration of the case, to distinguish the
91
not the slightest hint of a motive for the crime. It is true relevant and material from the irrelevant and immaterial.
that, as a rule, the motive of the accused in a criminal If this course is followed and the cause is prosecuted to
case is immaterial and, not being an element of a crime, the Supreme Court upon appeal, this court then has all
92
it does not have to be proved. Where, however, the the materials before it necessary to make a correct
94
evidence is weak, without any motive being disclosed by judgment.
the evidence, the guilt of the accused becomes open to
a reasonable doubt and, hence, an acquittal is in order. At any rate, despite that procedural lapse, we find in the
93
Nowhere in the testimony of either the complainant or records of these cases sufficient and substantial
her mother can any ill motive of a criminal nature be evidence which warrant and demand the acquittal of
reasonably drawn. What actually transpired was an appellant. Apropos thereto, we take this opportunity to
elopement or a lovers' tryst, immoral though it may be. repeat this age-old observation and experience of
mankind on the penological and societal effect of capital
As a closing note, we are bewildered by the trial court's punishment: If it is justified, it serves as a deterrent; if
refusal to admit in evidence the bag of clothes belonging injudiciously imposed, it generates resentment.
to complainant which was presented and duly identified
by the defense, on its announced supposition that the Finally, we are constrained to reiterate here that
clothes could have easily been bought from a Republic Act No. 7659 which reimposed the death
department store. Such preposterous reasoning founded penalty on certain heinous crimes took effect on
on a mere surmise or speculation, aside from the fact December 31, 1993, that is, fifteen days after its
that on rebuttal the prosecution did not even seek to publication in the December 16, 1993 issues of the
elicit an explanation or clarification from complainant Manila Bulletin, Philippine Star, Malaya and Philippine
95
Times Journal, and not on January 1, 1994 as is The rationale that is usually advanced for the general rule
sometimes misinterpreted. that the power to punish for contempt rests with the court
contemned is that contempt proceedings are sui generis and
WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby are triable only by the court against whose authority the
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and accused-appellant contempt are charged; the power to punish for contempt
Danny Godoy is hereby ACQUITTED of the crimes of exists for the purpose of enabling a court to compel due
rape and kidnapping with serious illegal detention decorum and respect in its presence and due obedience to its
charged in Criminal Cases Nos. 11640 and 11641 of the judgments, orders and processes: and in order that a court
Regional Trial Court for Palawan and Puerto Princesa may compel obedience to its orders, it must have the right to
City, Branch 49. It is hereby ORDERED that he be inquire whether there has been any disobedience thereof, for
released forthwith, unless he is otherwise detained for to submit the question of disobedience to another tribunal
any other valid cause.
would operate to deprive the proceeding of half its
efficiency.
SO ORDERED.
There are, however, several jurisprudentially and statutorily
DIGEST recognized exceptions to the general rule, both under
Philippine and American jurisprudence, viz.:
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. DANNY GODOY
1. Indirect contempt committed against inferior court may
JUDGE EUSTAQUIO Z. GACOTT, JR vs. MAURICIO REYNOSO, also be tried by the proper regional trial court, regardless of
JR. and EVA P. PONCE DE LEON the imposable penalty.

Facts: A complaint was filed by judge Eustaquio Z. Gacott, Jr. 2. Indirect contempt against the Supreme Court may be
of the Regional Trial Court of Palawan and Puerto Princesa caused to be investigated by a prosecuting officer and the
City, Branch 47, to cite for indirect contempt Mauricio charge may be filed in and tried by the regional trial court, or
Reynoso, Jr., a columnist, and Eva P. Ponce de Leon, publisher the case may be referred to it for hearing and
and chairman of the editorial board, respectively, of the recommendation where the charge involves questions of fact.
Palawan Times. His Honor's plaint is based on an article
written by respondent Reynoso, Jr. in his column, "On the
3. In People vs. Alarcon, et al., supra, this Court ruled that "in
Beat," and published in the July 20, 1994 issue of said
the interrelation of the different courts forming our
newspaper which is of general circulation in Puerto Princesa
integrated judicial system, one court is not an agent or
City. The complaint avers that the article tends to impede,
representative of another and may not, for this reason,
obstruct, belittle, downgrade and degrade the administration punish contempts in vindication of the authority and
of justice; that the article contains averments which are decorum which are not its own. The appeal transfers the
disrespectful, discourteous, insulting, offensive and proceedings to the appellate court , and this last court
derogatory; that it does not only cast aspersions on the becomes thereby charged with the authority to deal with
integrity and honesty of complainant as a judge and on his
contempts committed after the perfection of the appeal."
ability to administer justice objectively and impartially, but is
The apparent reason is that both the moral and legal effect of
an imputation that he is biased and he prejudges the cases
a punishment for contempt would be missed if it were
filed before him; and that the article is sub judice because it is
regarded as the resentment of personal affronts offered to
still pending automatic review. judges. Contempts are punished as offenses against the
administration of justice, and the offense of violating a
Issue: Who has jurisdiction in contempt proceedings where judicial order is punishable by the court which is charged with
the alleged contumely is committed against a lower court its enforcement, regardless of the court which may have
while the case is pending in the Appellate or Higher Court made the order. However, the rule presupposes a complete
transfer of jurisdiction to the appellate court, and there is
Held: In whatever context it may arise, contempt of court authority that where the contempt does not relate to the
involves the doing of an act, or the failure to do an act, in subject matter of the appeal, jurisdiction to punish remains in
such a manner as to create an affront to the court and the the trial court.
sovereign dignity with which it is clothed. As a matter of
practical judicial administration, jurisdiction has been felt 4. A court may punish contempts committed against a court
properly to rest in only one tribunal at a time with respect to or judge constituting one of its parts or agencies, as in the
a given controversy. Partly because of administrative case of a court composed of several coordinate branches or
considerations, and partly to visit the full personal effect of divisions.
the punishment on a contemnor, the rule has been that no
other court than the one contemned will punish a given
5. The biggest factor accounting for the exceptions is where
contempt. the singular jurisdiction of a given matter has been
transferred from the contemned court to another court. One
of the most common reasons for a transfer of jurisdiction tried before the court actually contemned.
among courts is improper venue. The cases involving venue
deal primarily with the question whether a change of venue is The rule, as now accepted and deemed applicable to the
available after a contempt proceeding has been begun. While present incident, is that where the entire case has already
generally a change of venue is not available in a contempt been appealed, jurisdiction to punish for contempt rests with
proceeding, some jurisdictions allow such a change in proper the appellate court where the appeal completely transfers
circumstances. the proceedings thereto or where there is a tendency to
affect the status quo or otherwise interfere with the
6. A new court wholly replacing a prior court has jurisdiction jurisdiction of the appellate court. Accordingly, this Court
to punish for violations of orders entered by its predecessor, having acquired jurisdiction over the complaint for indirect
although where the successor court is created by a statute contempt against herein respondents, it has taken judicial
which does not extinguish jurisdiction in the predecessor, an cognizance thereof and has accordingly resolved the same.
affirmative transfer of jurisdiction before the contempt
occurs is necessary to empower the successor court to act.

7. Transfers of jurisdiction by appellate review have produced


numerous instances where contempt against the trial court
has been punished in the appellate court, and vice versa.
Some appellate courts have taken the view that a contempt
committed after an appeal is taken is particularly

contemptuous of the appellate court because of the tendency
of such contempts to upset the status quo or otherwise
interfere with the jurisdiction of such court.


8. A judge may disqualify himself, or be disqualified, on a
contempt hearing or in the main case, which circumstance
may require a transfer of jurisdiction, but where a judge is
disqualified only in the main case, because of matters which
do not disqualify him in a contempt proceeding, the regular
judge should sit in the contempt proceeding. Likewise, where
the regular judge, is absent or otherwise unavailable and an
order is entered by another judge and made returnable to the
proper court, the regular judge may punish for violations of
orders so entered.

9. Where the same act is a contempt against two or more
courts, it is no bar to contempt proceedings in one of them
that there is also a contempt against the other.

10. While professional disciplinary proceedings have been
resorted to as a punishment for contempt, the more recent

view is that punishment is of secondary importance to the
need to protect the courts and the people from improper
professional practice. To the substantial extent that
disciplinary action remains a punishment, disciplinary
measures imposed by another court than the one contemned
furnish an exception to the rule against punishing for
contempt of another court.

11. Some contemptuous acts are also crime, usually


misdemeanors, which are often punishable in other courts
than those against which the contemptuous act was done.

12. Finally, a conviction for contempt against another court


has been allowed to stand on the basis that the failure of the
defendant to make timely objection operated as a waiver of
the right to be
G.R. No. 169517 March 14, 2006 the person of Atty. Aquino and his law office address.

ROGELIO A. TAN, NORMA TAN and MALIYAWAO Liza Laconsay, Atty. Aquinos secretary, executed an
8
PAGAYOKAN, Petitioners, affidavit admitting the mistake in the preparation of the
complaint-affidavit. Respondent alleged that he did not
vs. read the complaint-affidavit because he assumed that
the two complaint-affidavits contained the same
allegations with respect to his occupation and office
BENEDICTO M. BALAJADIA, Respondent.
address. Respondent claims that he had no intention of
misrepresenting himself as a practicing lawyer.
DECISION
9
In their Reply, petitioners reiterate that respondent
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: should be made liable for indirect contempt for having
made untruthful statements in the complaint-affidavit and
1
Before us is an original petition for contempt filed by that he cannot shift the blame to Atty. Aquinos
petitioners Rogelio Tan, Norma Tan and Maliyawao secretary.
Pagayokan against respondent Benedicto Balajadia.
The sole issue for resolution is whether respondent is
Petitioners allege that on May 8, 2005, respondent filed liable for indirect contempt.
a criminal case against them with the Office of the City of
Prosecutor of Baguio City for usurpation of authority, Section 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court provides:
grave coercion and violation of city tax ordinance due to
the alleged illegal collection of parking fees by
petitioners from respondent. In paragraph 5 of the Section 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge
and hearing. After a charge in writing has been filed,
complaint-affidavit, respondent asserted that he is a
and an opportunity given to the respondent to comment
"practicing lawyer based in Baguio City with office
thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court
address at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building, Session
2 and to be heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of
Road, Baguio City." However, certifications issued by
3 any of the following acts may be punished for indirect
the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of
4
the Philippines showed that respondent has never been contempt:
admitted to the Philippine Bar. Hence, petitioners claim
that respondent is liable for indirect contempt for xxxx
misrepresenting himself as a lawyer.
(e) Assuming to be an attorney or an officer of a court,
5
In his Comment, respondent avers that the allegation in and acting as such without authority;
paragraph 5 of the complaint-affidavit that he is a
practicing lawyer was an honest mistake. He claims that x x x x.
the secretary of Atty. Paterno Aquino prepared the
subject complaint-affidavit which was patterned after 10
In several cases, we have ruled that the unauthorized
6
Atty. Aquinos complaint-affidavit. It appears that Atty. practice of law by assuming to be an attorney and acting
Aquino had previously filed a complaint-affidavit against as such without authority constitutes indirect contempt
petitioners involving the same subject matter. which is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. The
liability for the unauthorized practice of law under
Respondent claims that two complaint-affidavits were Section 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court is in the
drafted by the same secretary; one for the May 5, 2005 nature of criminal contempt and the acts are punished
parking incident at 10:00 oclock in the morning and because they are an affront to the dignity and authority
another for the parking incident on the same date but of the court, and obstruct the orderly administration of
which occurred at 1:00 oclock in the afternoon. justice. In determining liability for criminal contempt, well-
Respondent insists that the complaint-affidavit regarding settled is the rule that intent is a necessary element, and
the 1:00 oclock parking incident correctly alleged that he no one can be punished unless the evidence makes it
11
is "a businessman with office address at Room B-204, clear that he intended to commit it.
7
2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio City."
However, the complaint-affidavit regarding the 10:00 In the case at bar, a review of the records supports
oclock parking incident, which is the subject of the respondents claim that he never intended to project
instant petition, erroneously referred to him as a himself as a lawyer to the public. It was a clear
practicing lawyer because Atty. Aquinos secretary inadvertence on the part of the secretary of Atty Aquino.
copied verbatim paragraph 5 of Atty. Aquinos complaint- The affidavit of Liza Laconsay attesting to the
affidavit. Hence, it was inadvertently alleged that circumstances that gave rise to the mistake in the
respondent is a "practicing lawyer based in Baguio City drafting of the complaint-affidavit conforms to the
with office address at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building, documentary evidence on record. Taken together, these
Session Road, Baguio City," which statement referred to circumstances show that the allegation in paragraph 5 of
respondents complaint-affidavit was, indeed, the result
of inadvertence.

Respondent has satisfactorily shown that the allegation


that he is a practicing lawyer was the result of
inadvertence and cannot, by itself, establish intent as to
make him liable for indirect contempt. In the cases
where we found a party liable for the unauthorized
practice of law, the party was guilty of some overt act
12
like signing court pleadings on behalf of his client;
13
appearing before court hearings as an attorney;
manifesting before the court that he will practice law
14
despite being previously denied admission to the bar;
or deliberately attempting to practice law and holding out
himself as an attorney through circulars with full
15
knowledge that he is not licensed to do so.

In the case at bar, no evidence was presented to show


that respondent acted as an attorney or that he intended
to practice law. Consequently, he cannot be made liable
for indirect contempt considering his lack of intent to
illegally practice law.

However, while the evidence on record failed to prove


respondents deliberate intent to misrepresent himself as
an attorney and act as such without authority, he is
hereby warned to be more careful and circumspect in his
future actions.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. Respondent


is WARNED to be more careful and circumspect in his
future actions.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. Nos. 151809-12. April 12, 2005 GENBANKs assets was held from March 26 to 28,
1977, wherein the Lucio Tan group submitted the
5
PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD winning bid. Subsequently, former Solicitor General
GOVERNMENT (PCGG), Petitioners, Estelito P. Mendoza filed a petition with the then Court
of First Instance praying for the assistance and
supervision of the court in GENBANKs liquidation as
vs.
mandated by Section 29 of Republic Act No. 265.
SANDIGANBAYAN (Fifth Division), LUCIO C. TAN,
In February 1986, the EDSA I revolution toppled the
CARMEN KHAO TAN, FLORENCIO T. SANTOS,
NATIVIDAD P. SANTOS, DOMINGO CHUA, TAN HUI Marcos government. One of the first acts of President
NEE, MARIANO TAN ENG LIAN, ESTATE OF BENITO Corazon C. Aquino was to establish the Presidential
Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to recover
TAN KEE HIONG (represented by TARCIANA C.
the alleged ill-gotten wealth of former President
TAN), FLORENCIO N. SANTOS, JR., HARRY C. TAN,
Ferdinand Marcos, his family and his cronies. Pursuant
TAN ENG CHAN, CHUNG POE KEE, MARIANO
to this mandate, the PCGG, on July 17, 1987, filed with
KHOO, MANUEL KHOO, MIGUEL KHOO, JAIME
the Sandiganbayan a complaint for "reversion,
KHOO, ELIZABETH KHOO, CELSO RANOLA,
reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages"
WILLIAM T. WONG, ERNESTO B. LIM, BENJAMIN T.
against respondents Lucio Tan, Carmen Khao Tan,
ALBACITA, WILLY CO, ALLIED BANKING CORP.,
Florencio T. Santos, Natividad P. Santos, Domingo
ALLIED LEASING AND FINANCE CORPORATION,
Chua, Tan Hui Nee, Mariano Tan Eng Lian, Estate of
ASIA BREWERY, INC., BASIC HOLDINGS CORP.,
Benito Tan Kee Hiong, Florencio N. Santos, Jr., Harry C.
FOREMOST FARMS, INC., FORTUNE TOBACCO
CORP., GRANDSPAN DEVELOPMENT CORP., Tan, Tan Eng Chan, Chung Poe Kee, Mariano Khoo,
Manuel Khoo, Miguel Khoo, Jaime Khoo, Elizabeth
HIMMEL INDUSTRIES, IRIS HOLDINGS AND
Khoo, Celso Ranola, William T. Wong, Ernesto B. Lim,
DEVELOPMENT CORP., JEWEL HOLDINGS, INC.,
Benjamin T. Albacita, Willy Co, Allied Banking
MANUFACTURING SERVICES AND TRADE CORP.,
Corporation (Allied Bank), Allied Leasing and Finance
MARANAW HOTELS AND RESORT CORP.,
Corporation, Asia Brewery, Inc., Basic Holdings Corp.,
NORTHERN TOBACCO REDRYING PLANT,
Foremost Farms, Inc., Fortune Tobacco Corporation,
PROGRESSIVE FARMS, INC., SHAREHOLDINGS,
Grandspan Development Corp., Himmel Industries, Iris
INC., SIPALAY TRADING CORP., VIRGO HOLDINGS
Holdings and Development Corp., Jewel Holdings, Inc.,
& DEVELOPMENT CORP., and ATTY. ESTELITO P.
Manufacturing Services and Trade Corp., Maranaw
MENDOZA, Respondents.
Hotels and Resort Corp., Northern Tobacco Redrying
Plant, Progressive Farms, Inc., Shareholdings, Inc.,
DECISION Sipalay Trading Corp., Virgo Holdings & Development
Corp., (collectively referred to herein as respondents
PUNO, J.: Tan, et al.), then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda
R. Marcos, Panfilo O. Domingo, Cesar Zalamea, Don
This case is prima impressiones and it is weighted with Ferry and Gregorio Licaros. The case was docketed as
significance for it concerns on one hand, the efforts of Civil Case No. 0005 of the Second Division of the
6
the Bar to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in government Sandiganbayan. In connection therewith, the PCGG
service and on the other, its effect on the right of issued several writs of sequestration on properties
government to recruit competent counsel to defend its allegedly acquired by the above-named persons by
interests. taking advantage of their close relationship and influence
with former President Marcos.
In 1976, General Bank and Trust Company (GENBANK)
encountered financial difficulties. GENBANK had Respondents Tan, et al. repaired to this Court and filed
extended considerable financial support to Filcapital petitions for certiorari, prohibition and injunction to nullify,
Development Corporation causing it to incur daily among others, the writs of sequestration issued by the
7
overdrawings on its current account with the Central PCGG. After the filing of the parties comments, this
1
Bank. It was later found by the Central Bank that Court referred the cases to the Sandiganbayan for
GENBANK had approved various loans to directors, proper disposition. These cases were docketed as Civil
officers, stockholders and related interests totaling Case Nos. 0096-0099. In all these cases, respondents
P172.3 million, of which 59% was classified as doubtful Tan, et al. were represented by their counsel, former
2
and P0.505 million as uncollectible. As a bailout, the Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, who has then
Central Bank extended emergency loans to resumed his private practice of law.
3
GENBANK which reached a total of P310 million.
Despite the mega loans, GENBANK failed to recover On February 5, 1991, the PCGG filed motions to
from its financial woes. On March 25, 1977, the Central disqualify respondent Mendoza as counsel for
Bank issued a resolution declaring GENBANK respondents Tan, et al. with the Second Division of the
8
insolvent and unable to resume business with safety to Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos. 0005 and 0096-
9
its depositors, creditors and the general public, and 0099. The motions alleged that respondent Mendoza,
4
ordering its liquidation. A public bidding of
10
as then Solicitor General and counsel to Central Bank, Code of Professional Responsibility prohibits a former
"actively intervened" in the liquidation of GENBANK, government lawyer from accepting employment in
which was subsequently acquired by respondents Tan, connection with any matter in which he intervened; 2)
et al. and became Allied Banking Corporation. the prohibition in the Rule is not time-bound; 3) that
Respondent Mendoza allegedly "intervened" in the Central Bank could not waive the objection to
acquisition of GENBANK by respondents Tan, et al. respondent Mendozas appearance on behalf of the
when, in his capacity as then Solicitor General, he PCGG; and 4) the resolution in Civil Case No. 0005 was
19
advised the Central Banks officials on the procedure to interlocutory, thus res judicata does not apply.
bring about GENBANKs liquidation and appeared as
counsel for the Central Bank in connection with its The petition at bar raises procedural and substantive
petition for assistance in the liquidation of GENBANK issues of law. In view, however, of the import and impact
which he filed with the Court of First Instance (now of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Regional Trial Court) of Manila and was docketed as to the legal profession and the government, we shall cut
Special Proceeding No. 107812. The motions to our way and forthwith resolve the substantive issue.
disqualify invoked Rule 6.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Rule 6.03 prohibits
I
former government lawyers from accepting
"engagement or employment in connection with any
matter in which he had intervened while in said service." Substantive Issue

On April 22, 1991 the Second Division of the The key issue is whether Rule 6.03 of the Code of
Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying PCGGs Professional Responsibility applies to respondent
motion to disqualify respondent Mendoza in Civil Case Mendoza. Again, the prohibition states: "A lawyer shall
11
No. 0005. It found that the PCGG failed to prove the not, after leaving government service, accept
existence of an inconsistency between respondent engagement or employment in connection with any
Mendozas former function as Solicitor General and his matter in which he had intervened while in the said
present employment as counsel of the Lucio Tan group. service."
It noted that respondent Mendoza did not take a position
adverse to that taken on behalf of the Central Bank I.A. The history of Rule 6.03
12
during his term as Solicitor General. It further ruled that
respondent Mendozas appearance as counsel for A proper resolution of this case necessitates that we
respondents Tan, et al. was beyond the one-year trace the historical lineage of Rule 6.03 of the Code of
prohibited period under Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. Professional Responsibility.
6713 since he ceased to be Solicitor General in the year
1986. The said section prohibits a former public official In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ethical
or employee from practicing his profession in connection standards for lawyers were pervasive in England and
with any matter before the office he used to be with other parts of Europe. The early statements of standards
within one year from his resignation, retirement or did not resemble modern codes of conduct. They were
13
separation from public office. The PCGG did not seek not detailed or collected in one source but surprisingly
14
any reconsideration of the ruling. were comprehensive for their time. The principal thrust
of the standards was directed towards the litigation
It appears that Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 were conduct of lawyers. It underscored the central duty of
transferred from the Sandiganbayans Second Division truth and fairness in litigation as superior to any
15
to the Fifth Division. In its resolution dated July 11, obligation to the client. The formulations of the litigation
2001, the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan denied duties were at times intricate, including specific pleading
the other PCGGs motion to disqualify respondent standards, an obligation to inform the court of falsehoods
16
Mendoza. It adopted the resolution of its Second and a duty to explore settlement alternatives. Most of the
Division dated April 22, 1991, and observed that the lawyer's other basic duties -- competency, diligence,
arguments were the same in substance as the motion to loyalty, confidentiality, reasonable fees and service to
disqualify filed in Civil Case No. 0005. The PCGG the poor -- originated in the litigation context, but
sought reconsideration of the ruling but its motion was ultimately had broader application to all aspects of a
17
denied in its resolution dated December 5, 2001. lawyer's practice.

Hence, the recourse to this Court by the PCGG assailing The forms of lawyer regulation in colonial and early
the resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, post-revolutionary America did not differ markedly
2001 of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan via a from those in England. The colonies and early states
petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the used oaths, statutes, judicial oversight, and procedural
18
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The PCGG alleged that rules to govern attorney behavior. The difference from
the Fifth Division acted with grave abuse of discretion England was in the pervasiveness and continuity of such
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the regulation. The standards set in England varied over
assailed resolutions contending that: 1) Rule 6.03 of the time, but the variation in early America was far greater.
The American regulation fluctuated within a single left off. Many of the new bar associations, most notably
colony and differed from colony to colony. Many the Alabama State Bar Association and the American
regulations had the effect of setting some standards of Bar Association, assumed on the task of drafting
22
conduct, but the regulation was sporadic, leaving gaps in substantive standards of conduct for their members.
the substantive standards. Only three of the traditional
core duties can be fairly characterized as pervasive in In 1887, Alabama became the first state with a
the formal, positive law of the colonial and post- comprehensive bar association code of ethics. The 1887
revolutionary period: the duties of litigation fairness, Alabama Code of Ethics was the model for several
20
competency and reasonable fees. states codes, and it was the foundation for the American
23
Bar Association's (ABA) 1908 Canons of Ethics.
The nineteenth century has been termed the "dark
ages" of legal ethics in the United States. By mid- In 1917, the Philippine Bar found that the oath and
century, American legal reformers were filling the void in duties of a lawyer were insufficient to attain the full
two ways. First, David Dudley Field, the drafter of the measure of public respect to which the legal profession
highly influential New York "Field Code," introduced a was entitled. In that year, the Philippine Bar Association
new set of uniform standards of conduct for lawyers. adopted as its own, Canons 1 to 32 of the ABA Canons
This concise statement of eight statutory duties became of Professional Ethics.
24

law in several states in the second half of the nineteenth


century. At the same time, legal educators, such as
As early as 1924, some ABA members have questioned
David Hoffman and George Sharswood, and many other
the form and function of the canons. Among their
lawyers were working to flesh out the broad outline of a
concerns was the "revolving door" or "the process by
lawyer's duties. These reformers wrote about legal ethics which lawyers and others temporarily enter government
in unprecedented detail and thus brought a new level of
service from private life and then leave it for large fees in
understanding to a lawyer's duties. A number of mid-
private practice, where they can exploit information,
nineteenth century laws and statutes, other than the
contacts, and influence garnered in government
Field Code, governed lawyer behavior. A few forms of 25
service." These concerns were classified as adverse-
colonial regulations e.g., the "do no falsehood" oath
interest conflicts" and "congruent-interest conflicts."
and the deceit prohibitions -- persisted in some states.
"Adverse-interest conflicts" exist where the matter in
Procedural law continued to directly, or indirectly, limit an
which the former government lawyer represents a client
attorney's litigation behavior. The developing law of
in private practice is substantially related to a matter that
agency recognized basic duties of competence, loyalty
the lawyer dealt with while employed by the government
and safeguarding of client property. Evidence law started
and the interests of the current and former are
to recognize with less equivocation the attorney-client adverse.
26
On the other hand, "congruent-interest
privilege and its underlying theory of confidentiality. representation conflicts" are unique to government
Thus, all of the core duties, with the likely exception of
lawyers and apply primarily to former government
service to the poor, had some basis in formal law. Yet, 27
lawyers. For several years, the ABA attempted to
as in the colonial and early post-revolutionary periods,
correct and update the canons through new canons,
these standards were isolated and did not provide a
individual amendments and interpretative opinions. In
comprehensive statement of a lawyer's duties. The
1928, the ABA amended one canon and added thirteen
reformers, by contrast, were more comprehensive in 28
new canons. To deal with problems peculiar to former
their discussion of a lawyer's duties, and they actually
21 government lawyers, Canon 36 was minted which
ushered a new era in American legal ethics.
disqualified them both for "adverse-interest conflicts" and
29
"congruent-interest representation conflicts." The
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new form rationale for disqualification is rooted in a concern that
of ethical standards began to guide lawyers in their the government lawyers largely discretionary actions
practice the bar association code of legal ethics. The would be influenced by the temptation to take action on
bar codes were detailed ethical standards formulated by behalf of the government client that later could be to the
lawyers for lawyers. They combined the two primary advantage of parties who might later become private
sources of ethical guidance from the nineteenth century. 30
practice clients. Canon 36 provides, viz.:
Like the academic discourses, the bar association codes
gave detail to the statutory statements of duty and the
36. Retirement from judicial position or public
oaths of office. Unlike the academic lectures, however,
employment
the bar association codes retained some of the official
imprimatur of the statutes and oaths. Over time, the bar
association codes became extremely popular that states A lawyer should not accept employment as an advocate
adopted them as binding rules of law. Critical to the in any matter upon the merits of which he has previously
development of the new codes was the re-emergence of acted in a judicial capacity.
bar associations themselves. Local bar associations
formed sporadically during the colonial period, but they A lawyer, having once held public office or having
disbanded by the early nineteenth century. In the late been in the public employ should not, after his
nineteenth century, bar associations began to form retirement, accept employment in connection with
again, picking up where their colonial predecessors had any matter he has investigated or passed upon while
in such office or employ. In cadence with these changes, the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) adopted a proposed Code of
Over the next thirty years, the ABA continued to amend Professional Responsibility in 1980 which it
many of the canons and added Canons 46 and 47 in submitted to this Court for approval. The Code was
1933 and 1937, respectively.
31 drafted to reflect the local customs, traditions, and
practices of the bar and to conform with new realities.
On June 21, 1988, this Court promulgated the Code
In 1946, the Philippine Bar Association again adopted 39
of Professional Responsibility. Rule 6.03 of the
as its own Canons 33 to 47 of the ABA Canons of
32 Code of Professional Responsibility deals particularly
Professional Ethics.
with former government lawyers, and provides, viz.:
By the middle of the twentieth century, there was
growing consensus that the ABA Canons needed more Rule 6.03 A lawyer shall not, after leaving government
service, accept engagement or employment in
meaningful revision. In 1964, the ABA President-elect
connection with any matter in which he had intervened
Lewis Powell asked for the creation of a committee to
while in said service.
study the "adequacy and effectiveness" of the ABA
Canons. The committee recommended that the canons
needed substantial revision, in part because the ABA Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Canons failed to distinguish between "the inspirational retained the general structure of paragraph 2, Canon 36
and the proscriptive" and were thus unsuccessful in of the Canons of Professional Ethics but replaced the
enforcement. The legal profession in the United States expansive phrase "investigated and passed upon"
likewise observed that Canon 36 of the ABA Canons of with the word "intervened." It is, therefore, properly
Professional Ethics resulted in unnecessary applicable to both "adverse-interest conflicts" and
disqualification of lawyers for negligible participation in "congruent-interest conflicts."
matters during their employment with the government.
The case at bar does not involve the "adverse
The unfairness of Canon 36 compelled ABA to interest" aspect of Rule 6.03. Respondent Mendoza, it
replace it in the 1969 ABA Model Code of is conceded, has no adverse interest problem when he
33
Professional Responsibility. The basic ethical acted as Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 and
principles in the Code of Professional Responsibility later as counsel of respondents Tan, et al. in Civil Case
were supplemented by Disciplinary Rules that defined No. 0005 and Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 before the
minimum rules of conduct to which the lawyer must Sandiganbayan. Nonetheless, there remains the
34 35
adhere. In the case of Canon 9, DR 9-101(b) became issue of whether there exists a "congruent-interest
the applicable supplementary norm. The drafting conflict" sufficient to disqualify respondent Mendoza
committee reformulated the canons into the Model Code from representing respondents Tan, et al.
of Professional Responsibility, and, in August of 1969,
the ABA House of Delegates approved the Model I.B. The "congruent interest" aspect of Rule 6.03
36
Code.
The key to unlock Rule 6.03 lies in comprehending first,
Despite these amendments, legal practitioners remained the meaning of "matter" referred to in the rule and,
unsatisfied with the results and indefinite standards set second, the metes and bounds of the "intervention"
forth by DR 9-101(b) and the Model Code of made by the former government lawyer on the "matter."
Professional Responsibility as a whole. Thus, in August The American Bar Association in its Formal Opinion
1983, the ABA adopted new Model Rules of 342, defined "matter" as any discrete, isolatable act as
Professional Responsibility. The Model Rules used well as identifiable transaction or conduct involving a
the "restatement format," where the conduct standards particular situation and specific party, and not merely
were set-out in rules, with comments following each rule. an act of drafting, enforcing or interpreting government
The new format was intended to give better guidance or agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing
and clarity for enforcement "because the only abstract principles of law.
enforceable standards were the black letter Rules." The
Model Rules eliminated the broad canons altogether and Firstly, it is critical that we pinpoint the "matter" which
reduced the emphasis on narrative discussion, by was the subject of intervention by respondent Mendoza
placing comments after the rules and limiting comment while he was the Solicitor General. The PCGG relates
discussion to the content of the black letter rules. The the following acts of respondent Mendoza as constituting
Model Rules made a number of substantive the "matter" where he intervened as a Solicitor General,
improvements particularly with regard to conflicts of viz:
40
37
interests. In particular, the ABA did away with
Canon 9, citing the hopeless dependence of the
The PCGGs Case for Atty. Mendozas Disqualification
concept of impropriety on the subjective views of
anxious clients as well as the norms indefinite
nature.
38 The PCGG imputes grave abuse of discretion on the
part of the Sandiganbayan (Fifth Division) in issuing the
assailed Resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December ...
5, 2001 denying the motion to disqualify Atty. Mendoza
as counsel for respondents Tan, et al. The PCGG insists E. To authorize Management to furnish the Solicitor
that Atty. Mendoza, as then Solicitor General, actively General with a copy of the subject memorandum of the
intervened in the closure of GENBANK by advising the Director, Department of Commercial and Savings Bank
Central Bank on how to proceed with the said banks dated March 29, 1977, together with copies of:
liquidation and even filing the petition for its liquidation
with the CFI of Manila.
1. Memorandum of the Deputy Governor, Supervision
and Examination Sector, to the Monetary Board, dated
As proof thereof, the PCGG cites the Memorandum March 25, 1977, containing a report on the current
dated March 29, 1977 prepared by certain key officials of situation of Genbank;
the Central Bank, namely, then Senior Deputy Governor
Amado R. Brinas, then Deputy Governor Jaime C. Laya,
2. Aide Memoire on the Antecedent Facts Re: General
then Deputy Governor and General Counsel Gabriel C.
Bank and Trust Co., dated March 23, 1977;
Singson, then Special Assistant to the Governor Carlota
P. Valenzuela, then Asistant to the Governor Arnulfo B.
Aurellano and then Director of Department of 3. Memorandum of the Director, Department of
Commercial and Savings Bank Antonio T. Castro, Jr., Commercial and Savings Bank, to the Monetary Board,
where they averred that on March 28, 1977, they had a dated March 24, 1977, submitting, pursuant to Section
conference with the Solicitor General (Atty. Mendoza), 29 of R.A. No. 265, as amended by P.D. No. 1007, a
who advised them on how to proceed with the liquidation repot on the state of insolvency of Genbank, together
of GENBANK. The pertinent portion of the said with its attachments; and
memorandum states:
4. Such other documents as may be necessary or
Immediately after said meeting, we had a conference needed by the Solicitor General for his use in then CFI-
with the Solicitor General and he advised that the praying the assistance of the Court in the liquidation of
following procedure should be taken: Genbank.

1. Management should submit a memorandum to the Beyond doubt, therefore, the "matter" or the act of
Monetary Board reporting that studies and evaluation respondent Mendoza as Solicitor General involved in the
had been made since the last examination of the bank case at bar is "advising the Central Bank, on how to
as of August 31, 1976 and it is believed that the bank proceed with the said banks liquidation and even filing
can not be reorganized or placed in a condition so that it the petition for its liquidation with the CFI of Manila." In
may be permitted to resume business with safety to its fine, the Court should resolve whether his act of advising
depositors and creditors and the general public. the Central Bank on the legal procedure to liquidate
GENBANK is included within the concept of "matter"
under Rule 6.03. The procedure of liquidation is given
2. If the said report is confirmed by the Monetary Board, in black and white in Republic Act No. 265, section 29,
it shall order the liquidation of the bank and indicate the
viz:
manner of its liquidation and approve a liquidation plan.
The provision reads in part:
3. The Central Bank shall inform the principal
stockholders of Genbank of the foregoing decision to
liquidate the bank and the liquidation plan approved by SEC. 29. Proceedings upon insolvency. Whenever,
the Monetary Board. upon examination by the head of the appropriate
supervising or examining department or his examiners or
agents into the condition of any bank or non-bank
4. The Solicitor General shall then file a petition in the financial intermediary performing quasi-banking
Court of First Instance reciting the proceedings which functions, it shall be disclosed that the condition of the
had been taken and praying the assistance of the Court
same is one of insolvency, or that its continuance in
in the liquidation of Genbank.
business would involve probable loss to its depositors or
creditors, it shall be the duty of the department head
The PCGG further cites the Minutes No. 13 dated March concerned forthwith, in writing, to inform the Monetary
29, 1977 of the Monetary Board where it was shown that Board of the facts, and the Board may, upon finding the
Atty. Mendoza was furnished copies of pertinent statements of the department head to be true, forbid the
documents relating to GENBANK in order to aid him in institution to do business in the Philippines and shall
filing with the court the petition for assistance in the designate an official of the Central Bank or a person of
banks liquidation. The pertinent portion of the said recognized competence in banking or finance, as
minutes reads: receiver to immediately take charge of its assets and
liabilities, as expeditiously as possible collect and gather
The Board decided as follows: all the assets and administer the same for the benefit of
its creditors, exercising all the powers necessary for
these purposes including, but not limited to, bringing pay the damages which the petitioner or plaintiff may
suits and foreclosing mortgages in the name of the bank suffer by the refusal or the dissolution of the injunction.
or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi- The provisions of Rule 58 of the New Rules of Court
banking functions. insofar as they are applicable and not inconsistent with
the provisions of this Section shall govern the issuance
... and dissolution of the restraining order or injunction
contemplated in this Section.
If the Monetary Board shall determine and confirm within
the said period that the bank or non-bank financial Insolvency, under this Act, shall be understood to mean
intermediary performing quasi-banking functions is the inability of a bank or non-bank financial intermediary
insolvent or cannot resume business with safety to its performing quasi-banking functions to pay its liabilities
depositors, creditors and the general public, it shall, if as they fall due in the usual and ordinary course of
the public interest requires, order its liquidation, indicate business. Provided, however, That this shall not include
the manner of its liquidation and approve a liquidation the inability to pay of an otherwise non-insolvent bank or
plan. The Central Bank shall, by the Solicitor General, non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-
file a petition in the Court of First Instance reciting the banking functions caused by extraordinary demands
proceedings which have been taken and praying the induced by financial panic commonly evidenced by a run
assistance of the court in the liquidation of such on the bank or non-bank financial intermediary
institution. The court shall have jurisdiction in the same performing quasi-banking functions in the banking or
proceedings to adjudicate disputed claims against the financial community.
bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing
quasi-banking functions and enforce individual liabilities The appointment of a conservator under Section 28-A of
of the stockholders and do all that is necessary to this Act or the appointment of a receiver under this
preserve the assets of such institution and to implement Section shall be vested exclusively with the Monetary
the liquidation plan approved by the Monetary Board. Board, the provision of any law, general or special, to the
The Monetary Board shall designate an official of the contrary notwithstanding. (As amended by PD Nos. 72,
Central Bank, or a person of recognized competence in 1007, 1771 & 1827, Jan. 16, 1981)
banking or finance, as liquidator who shall take over the
functions of the receiver previously appointed by the We hold that this advice given by respondent Mendoza
Monetary Board under this Section. The liquidator shall, on the procedure to liquidate GENBANK is not the
with all convenient speed, convert the assets of the "matter" contemplated by Rule 6.03 of the Code of
banking institution or non-bank financial intermediary Professional Responsibility. ABA Formal Opinion No.
performing quasi-banking functions to money or sell, 342 is clear as daylight in stressing that the "drafting,
assign or otherwise dispose of the same to creditors and enforcing or interpreting government or agency
other parties for the purpose of paying the debts of such procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract
institution and he may, in the name of the bank or non- principles of law" are acts which do not fall within the
bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking scope of the term "matter" and cannot disqualify.
functions, institute such actions as may be necessary in
the appropriate court to collect and recover accounts
Secondly, it can even be conceded for the sake of
and assets of such institution.
argument that the above act of respondent Mendoza
falls within the definition of matter per ABA Formal
The provisions of any law to the contrary Opinion No. 342. Be that as it may, the said act of
notwithstanding, the actions of the Monetary Board respondent Mendoza which is the "matter" involved in
under this Section and the second paragraph of Section Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is entirely different from the
34 of this Act shall be final and executory, and can be "matter" involved in Civil Case No. 0096. Again, the
set aside by the court only if there is convincing proof plain facts speak for themselves. It is given that
that the action is plainly arbitrary and made in bad faith. respondent Mendoza had nothing to do with the decision
No restraining order or injunction shall be issued by the of the Central Bank to liquidate GENBANK. It is also
court enjoining the Central Bank from implementing its given that he did not participate in the sale of GENBANK
actions under this Section and the second paragraph of to Allied Bank. The "matter" where he got himself
Section 34 of this Act, unless there is convincing proof involved was in informing Central Bank on the
that the action of the Monetary Board is plainly arbitrary procedure provided by law to liquidate GENBANK thru
and made in bad faith and the petitioner or plaintiff files the courts and in filing the necessary petition in Sp. Proc.
with the clerk or judge of the court in which the action is No. 107812 in the then Court of First Instance. The
pending a bond executed in favor of the Central Bank, in subject "matter" of Sp. Proc. No. 107812, therefore,
an amount to be fixed by the court. The restraining order is not the same nor is related to but is different from
or injunction shall be refused or, if granted, shall be the subject "matter" in Civil Case No. 0096. Civil
dissolved upon filing by the Central Bank of a bond, Case No. 0096 involves the sequestration of the
which shall be in the form of cash or Central Bank stocks owned by respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank
cashier(s) check, in an amount twice the amount of the on the alleged ground that they are ill-gotten. The case
bond of the petitioner or plaintiff conditioned that it will does not involve the liquidation of GENBANK. Nor does
it involve the sale of GENBANK to Allied Bank. Whether only to a matter in which the lawyer, while in the
the shares of stock of the reorganized Allied Bank are ill- government service, had "substantial responsibility."
gotten is far removed from the issue of the dissolution The 1983 Model Rules further constricted the reach of
and liquidation of GENBANK. GENBANK was liquidated the rule. MR 1.11(a) provides that "a lawyer shall not
by the Central Bank due, among others, to the alleged represent a private client in connection with a matter in
banking malpractices of its owners and officers. In other which the lawyer participated personally and
words, the legality of the liquidation of GENBANK is not substantially as a public officer or employee."
an issue in the sequestration cases. Indeed, the
jurisdiction of the PCGG does not include the dissolution It is, however, alleged that the intervention of respondent
and liquidation of banks. It goes without saying that Mendoza in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is significant and
Code 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility substantial. We disagree. For one, the petition in the
cannot apply to respondent Mendoza because his special proceedings is an initiatory pleading, hence, it
alleged intervention while a Solicitor General in Sp. has to be signed by respondent Mendoza as the then
Proc. No. 107812 is an intervention on a matter sitting Solicitor General. For another, the record is arid
different from the matter involved in Civil Case No. as to the actual participation of respondent Mendoza in
0096. the subsequent proceedings. Indeed, the case was in
slumberville for a long number of years. None of the
Thirdly, we now slide to the metes and bounds of the parties pushed for its early termination. Moreover, we
"intervention" contemplated by Rule 6.03. "Intervene" note that the petition filed merely seeks the assistance
means, viz.: of the court in the liquidation of GENBANK. The principal
role of the court in this type of proceedings is to assist
1: to enter or appear as an irrelevant or extraneous the Central Bank in determining claims of creditors
feature or circumstance . . . 2: to occur, fall, or come in against the GENBANK. The role of the court is not
between points of time or events . . . 3: to come in or strictly as a court of justice but as an agent to assist the
between by way of hindrance or modification: Central Bank in determining the claims of creditors. In
INTERPOSE . . . 4: to occur or lie between two things such a proceeding, the participation of the Office of the
(Paris, where the same city lay on both sides of an Solicitor General is not that of the usual court litigator
intervening river . . .)
41 protecting the interest of government.

On the other hand, "intervention" is defined as: II

1: the act or fact of intervening: INTERPOSITION; 2: Balancing Policy Considerations


42
interference that may affect the interests of others.
To be sure, Rule 6.03 of our Code of Professional
There are, therefore, two possible interpretations of the Responsibility represents a commendable effort on the
word "intervene." Under the first interpretation, part of the IBP to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in the
"intervene" includes participation in a proceeding even if government service. As aforestressed, it is a take-off
the intervention is irrelevant or has no effect or little from similar efforts especially by the ABA which have not
influence.
43
Under the second interpretation, been without difficulties. To date, the legal profession in
"intervene" only includes an act of a person who has the the United States is still fine tuning its DR 9-101(b) rule.
44
power to influence the subject proceedings. We hold
that this second meaning is more appropriate to give to In fathoming the depth and breadth of Rule 6.03 of our
the word "intervention" under Rule 6.03 of the Code of Code of Professional Responsibility, the Court took
Professional Responsibility in light of its history. The account of various policy considerations to assure
evils sought to be remedied by the Rule do not exist that its interpretation and application to the case at bar
where the government lawyer does an act which can be will achieve its end without necessarily prejudicing other
considered as innocuous such as "x x x drafting, values of equal importance. Thus, the rule was not
enforcing or interpreting government or agency interpreted to cause a chilling effect on government
procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract recruitment of able legal talent. At present, it is
principles of law." already difficult for government to match compensation
offered by the private sector and it is unlikely that
In fine, the intervention cannot be insubstantial and government will be able to reverse that situation. The
insignificant. Originally, Canon 36 provided that a observation is not inaccurate that the only card that the
former government lawyer "should not, after his government may play to recruit lawyers is have them
retirement, accept employment in connection with any defer present income in return for the experience and
matter which he has investigated or passed upon contacts that can later be exchanged for higher income
45
while in such office or employ." As aforediscussed, the in private practice. Rightly, Judge Kaufman warned
broad sweep of the phrase "which he has investigated or that the sacrifice of entering government service would
passed upon" resulted in unjust disqualification of former be too great for most men to endure should ethical rules
government lawyers. The 1969 Code restricted its prevent them from engaging in the practice of a technical
latitude, hence, in DR 9-101(b), the prohibition extended specialty which they devoted years in acquiring and
cause the firm with which they become associated to be office once occupied by respondent Mendoza. It cannot
46
disqualified. Indeed, "to make government service be overly stressed that the position of Solicitor
more difficult to exit can only make it less appealing to General should be endowed with a great degree of
47
enter." independence. It is this independence that allows the
Solicitor General to recommend acquittal of the innocent;
In interpreting Rule 6.03, the Court also cast a harsh eye it is this independence that gives him the right to refuse
on its use as a litigation tactic to harass opposing to defend officials who violate the trust of their office.
counsel as well as deprive his client of competent legal Any undue dimunition of the independence of the
representation. The danger that the rule will be misused Solicitor General will have a corrosive effect on the rule
to bludgeon an opposing counsel is not a mere of law.
guesswork. The Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia has noted "the tactical use of motions to No less significant a consideration is the deprivation
disqualify counsel in order to delay proceedings, deprive of the former government lawyer of the freedom to
the opposing party of counsel of its choice, and harass exercise his profession. Given the current state of our
and embarrass the opponent," and observed that the law, the disqualification of a former government lawyer
55
tactic was "so prevalent in large civil cases in recent may extend to all members of his law firm. Former
years as to prompt frequent judicial and academic government lawyers stand in danger of becoming the
48
commentary." Even the United States Supreme Court lepers of the legal profession.
found no quarrel with the Court of Appeals description of
49
disqualification motions as "a dangerous game." In the It is, however, proffered that the mischief sought to be
case at bar, the new attempt to disqualify respondent remedied by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Mendoza is difficult to divine. The disqualification of Responsibility is the possible appearance of
respondent Mendoza has long been a dead issue. It impropriety and loss of public confidence in
was resuscitated after the lapse of many years and only government. But as well observed, the accuracy of
after PCGG has lost many legal incidents in the hands of gauging public perceptions is a highly speculative
respondent Mendoza. For a fact, the recycled motion for 56
exercise at best which can lead to untoward results.
57

disqualification in the case at bar was filed more than No less than Judge Kaufman doubts that the lessening
four years after the filing of the petitions for certiorari, of restrictions as to former government attorneys will
prohibition and injunction with the Supreme Court which have any detrimental effect on that free flow of
were subsequently remanded to the Sandiganbayan information between the government-client and its
50
and docketed as Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099. At the 58
attorneys which the canons seek to protect. Notably,
very least, the circumstances under which the motion to the appearance of impropriety theory has been
disqualify in the case at bar were refiled put petitioners rejected in the 1983 ABA Model Rules of
motive as highly suspect. 59
Professional Conduct and some courts have
abandoned per se disqualification based on Canons 4
Similarly, the Court in interpreting Rule 6.03 was not and 9 when an actual conflict of interest exists, and
unconcerned with the prejudice to the client which demand an evaluation of the interests of the defendant,
60
will be caused by its misapplication. It cannot be doubted government, the witnesses in the case, and the public.
that granting a disqualification motion causes the client
to lose not only the law firm of choice, but probably an It is also submitted that the Court should apply Rule 6.03
51
individual lawyer in whom the client has confidence. in all its strictness for it correctly disfavors lawyers who
The client with a disqualified lawyer must start again "switch sides." It is claimed that "switching sides"
52
often without the benefit of the work done by the latter. carries the danger that former government employee
The effects of this prejudice to the right to choose an may compromise confidential official information in
effective counsel cannot be overstated for it can result in the process. But this concern does not cast a shadow in
denial of due process. the case at bar. As afore-discussed, the act of
respondent Mendoza in informing the Central Bank on
The Court has to consider also the possible adverse the procedure how to liquidate GENBANK is a different
effect of a truncated reading of the rule on the matter from the subject matter of Civil Case No. 0005
official independence of lawyers in the government which is about the sequestration of the shares of
service. According to Prof. Morgan: "An individual who respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank. Consequently,
has the security of knowing he or she can find private the danger that confidential official information might be
employment upon leaving the government is free to work divulged is nil, if not inexistent. To be sure, there are no
vigorously, challenge official positions when he or she inconsistent "sides" to be bothered about in the case
believes them to be in error, and resist illegal demands at bar. For there is no question that in lawyering for
by superiors. An employee who lacks this assurance of respondents Tan, et al., respondent Mendoza is not
53
private employment does not enjoy such freedom." He working against the interest of Central Bank. On the
adds: "Any system that affects the right to take a new job contrary, he is indirectly defending the validity of the
affects the ability to quit the old job and any limit on the action of Central Bank in liquidating GENBANK and
54
ability to quit inhibits official independence." The case selling it later to Allied Bank. Their interests coincide
at bar involves the position of Solicitor General, the instead of colliding. It is for this reason that Central
Bank offered no objection to the lawyering of respondent opines that the rule cannot apply retroactively to
Mendoza in Civil Case No. 0005 in defense of respondent Mendoza. Obviously, and rightly so, they are
respondents Tan, et al. There is no switching of sides disquieted by the fact that (1) when respondent
for no two sides are involved. Mendoza was the Solicitor General, Rule 6.03 has not
yet adopted by the IBP and approved by this Court, and
It is also urged that the Court should consider that Rule (2) the bid to disqualify respondent Mendoza was made
6.03 is intended to avoid conflict of loyalties, i.e., that a after the lapse of time whose length cannot, by any
government employee might be subject to a conflict of standard, qualify as reasonable. At bottom, the point
61
loyalties while still in government service. The example they make relates to the unfairness of the rule if applied
given by the proponents of this argument is that a lawyer without any prescriptive period and retroactively, at that.
who plans to work for the company that he or she is Their concern is legitimate and deserves to be initially
currently charged with prosecuting might be tempted to addressed by the IBP and our Committee on Revision of
62
prosecute less vigorously. In the cautionary words of the Rules of Court.
the Association of the Bar Committee in 1960: "The
greatest public risks arising from post employment IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition assailing the
conduct may well occur during the period of resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001
employment through the dampening of aggressive of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case
63
administration of government policies." Prof. Morgan, Nos. 0096-0099 is denied.
however, considers this concern as "probably
64
excessive." He opines "x x x it is hard to imagine that a No cost.
private firm would feel secure hiding someone who had
just been disloyal to his or her last client the
SO ORDERED.
government. Interviews with lawyers consistently confirm
that law firms want the best government lawyers the
ones who were hardest to beat not the least qualified
65
or least vigorous advocates." But again, this particular
concern is a non factor in the case at bar. There is no
charge against respondent Mendoza that he advised
Central Bank on how to liquidate GENBANK with an eye
in later defending respondents Tan, et al. of Allied Bank.
Indeed, he continues defending both the interests of
Central Bank and respondents Tan, et al. in the above
cases.

Likewise, the Court is nudged to consider the need to


curtail what is perceived as the "excessive influence of
66
former officials" or their "clout." Prof. Morgan again
warns against extending this concern too far. He
explains the rationale for his warning, viz: "Much of what
appears to be an employees influence may actually be
the power or authority of his or her position, power that
evaporates quickly upon departure from government x x
67
x." More, he contends that the concern can be
demeaning to those sitting in government. To quote him
further: "x x x The idea that, present officials make
significant decisions based on friendship rather than on
the merit says more about the present officials than
about their former co-worker friends. It implies a lack of
will or talent, or both, in federal officials that does not
seem justified or intended, and it ignores the possibility
that the officials will tend to disfavor their friends in order
68
to avoid even the appearance of favoritism."

III

The question of fairness

Mr. Justices Panganiban and Carpio are of the view,


among others, that the congruent interest prong of Rule
6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility should
be subject to a prescriptive period. Mr. Justice Tinga
A.M. No. 2266 October 27, 1983 called respondent by the nickname "Manuel"; that
HERMINIO R. NORIEGA, complainant, respondent did not feel any necessity to correct this error
vs. of the JDRC since he "could use his nickname 'Manuel'
ATTY. EMMANUEL R. SISON, respondent. interchangeably with his original true name as a formal
Herminio R. Noriega for complainant. name, and its use was not done for a fraudulent purpose
Emmanuel R. Sison in his own behalf. nor to misrepresent"; and, that this administrative case is
only one of the numerous baseless complaints brought
GUERRERO, J.: by complainant against respondent, the former being a
disgruntled loser in an injunction case in the SEC heard
This is a complaint for disbarment filed on June 3, 1981 before respondent as Hearing Officer.
by Herminio R. Noriega against Atty. Emmanuel R.
Sison "admitted to the Bar on March 31, 1976) on the In resolving this disbarment case, We must initially
ground of malpractice through gross misrepresentation emphasize the degree of integrity and respectability
and falsification. attached to the law profession. There is no denying that
the profession of an attorney is required after a long and
Complainant Noriega alleges that respondent Sison is a laborious study. By years of patience, zeal and ability the
regular and permanent employee of the Securities and attorney acquires a fixed means of support for himself
Exchange Commission (SEC) as a Hearing Officer and and his family. This is not to say, however, that the
as such, "is mandated to observe strictly the civil service emphasis is on the pecuniary value of this profession but
rules and regulations, more particularly ... the prohibition rather on the social prestige and intellectual standing
of government employees to practice their professions"; necessarily arising from and attached to the same by
that to circumvent the prohibition and to evade the law, reason of the fact that every attorney is deemed an
respondent assumed a different name, falsified his officer of the court.
Identity and represented himself to be one "Atty. Manuel
Sison", with offices at No. 605 EDSA, Cubao, Quezon The importance of the dual aspects of the legal
City, "at the times that he will handle private cases"; that profession has been wisely put by Chief Justice Marshall
"Manuel Sison" is not listed as a member of the Bar in of the United States Court when he said:
the records of the Supreme Court; that under his said
assumed name, respondent is representing one Juan On one hand, the profession of an Atty. is of great
Sacquing, the defendant in Case No. E01978 before the importance to an individual and the prosperity of his life
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Manila, may depend on its exercise. The right to exercise it
submitting pleadings therein signed by him respondent) ought not to be lightly or capriciously taken from him. On
under his assumed name, despite his full knowledge the other hand, it is extremely desirable that the
That "Manuel Sison" is not a member of the Bar and that respectability of the Bar should be maintained and that
1
his acts in doing so are illegal and unlawful. Xerox its harmony with the bench should be preserved. For
copies of pertinent documents, pleadings, orders and these objects, some controlling power, some discretion
notices are annexed to the complaint to support the ought to be exercised with great moderation and
material allegations therein. judgment, but it must be exercised.
2

As requireD, respondent filed his Answer on August 20, The purpose of disbarment, therefore, is not meant as a
1981. He attached thereto a copy of the written punishment depriving him of a source of livelihood but is
authorization given by Julio A. Sulit, Jr., Associate rather intended to protect the administration of justice by
Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange requiring that those who exercise this function should be
Commission, for him to appear as counsel of Juan competent, honorable and reliable in order that the
Sacquing, a close family friend, in the Juvenile and courts and clients may rightly repose confidence in them.
Domestic Relations Court JDRC of Manila, Respondent 3

alleges that he never held himself out to the public as a


practicing lawyer; that he provided legal services to
In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests
Sacquing in view of close family friendship and for free;
upon the complainant, and for the court to exercise its
that he never represented himself deliberately and
disciplinary powers, the case against the respondent
intentionally as "Atty. Manuel Sison" in the Manila JDRC
must be established by clear, convincing, and
where, in the early stages of his appearance, he always
satisfactory proof. Considering the serious
signed the minutes as "Atty. Emmanuel R. Sison", and in
consequences of the disbarment or suspension of a
one instance, he even made the necessary correction member of the Bar, this Court has consistently held that
when the court staff wrote his name as Atty Manuel clear preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the
Sison"; that due to the "inept and careless work of the 4
imposition of the administrative penalty.
clerical staff of the JDRC", notices were sent to "Atty.
Manuel Sison", at 605 EDSA, Cubao, Quezon City,
where respondent's parents conduct a printing office and This Court has also held in re Atty. Felizarda M. de
5
establishment, which notices were honored by the Guzman that to be made the basis of suspension or
personnel of said office as respondent's family has disbarment, the record must disclose as free from doubt
a case which compels the exercise by this Court of its
disciplinary powers. The dubious character of the act Sisori", counsel for defendant, 605 EDSA, Cubao,
done as well as the motivation thereof must be clearly Quezon City, p. 7 of the Records), there is, however, no
demonstrated. An attorney enjoys the legal presumption showing that respondent was thus motivated with bad
that he is innocent of the charges preferred against him faith or malice, for otherwise lie would not have
until the contrary is proved; and as an officer of the corrected the spelling of his name when the court staff
court, that he performed his duty in accordance with his misspelled it in one of the minutes of the proceeding.
oath. Moreover, We find no reason or motive for respondent to
conceal his true name when he have already given
Examining the facts of this case, We hold that the express authority by his superior to act as counsel for
allegations in the complaint do not warrant disbarment of Juan Sacquing in the latter's case pending before the
the respondent. There is no evidence that the JDRC And while it may be True that subsequent errors
respondent has committed an act constituting deceit, were made in sending notices to him under the name
immoral conduct, violation of his oath as a lawyer, wilful "Atty. Manuel Sison, ' the errors were attributable to the
disobedience of any lawful order of the court, or corruptly JDRC clerical staff and not to the respondent.
and willfully appearing as an attorney to a part to a case
6
without attorney to do so. At most, this Court would only counsel the respondent to
be more careful and cautious in signing his name so as
There is no violation of the Civil Service Rules and to avoid unnecessary confusion as regards his Identity.
Regulations for his appearance as counsel for the
defendant in the JDRC Case No. E-01978 was with At this point, We are constrained to examine the motives
authority given by the Associate Commisioner Of SEC, that prompted the complainant in filing the present case.
Julio A. Sulit, Jr. An examination of the records reveals that the
complainant was a defendant in the Securities and
This Court also holds that under the facts complained of Exchange Commission (SEC) Case No. 1982 filed by
supported by the annexes and the answer of respondent the Integrated Livestock Dealers Inc. and Teofisto Jiao
likewise sustained by annexes attached thereto and the against seven (7) respondents including the
reply of the complainant, the accusation that respondent complainant, seeking to oust the complainant and his
with malice and deliberate intent to evade the laws, codefendants from acting as officers of the Integrated
assumed a different name, falsified his Identity and Livestock Dealers lnc. then pending before respondent
represented himself to be one "ATTY. MANUEL SISON" as Hearing Officer of the SEC, who after trial decided the
with offices at No. 605 EDSA, Cubao, Quezon City at the case against the herein complainant. From this
times that he will handle private cases, is not antecedent fact, there is cast a grave and serious doubt
meritorious. Neither is the charge referred to is that as to the true motivation of the complainant in filing the
pending the slantiated. The only case DRC Case No. E- present case, considering further that other
01978 wherein respondent appeared as counsel for the administrative charges were filed by the complainant
defendant. It being an isolated case, the same does not against respondent herein before the SEC, JDRC and
constitute the practice of law, more so since respondent the Fiscal's office in Manila.
did not derive any pecuniary gain for his appearance
because respondent and defendant therein were close We hold that complainant's repeated charges or
family friends. Such act of the respondent in going out of accusations only indicate his resentment and bitterness
his way to aid as counsel to a close family friend should in losing the SEC case and not with the honest and
not be allowed to be used as an instrument of sincere desire and objectives "(1) to compel the attorney
harrassment against respondent. to deal fairly and honestly with his client;" (Strong vs.
Munday 52 N.J. Eq. 833, 21 A. 611) and "(2) to remove
The ruling in Zeta vs. Malinao (87 SCRA 303) wherein from the profession a person whose misconduct has
the respondent was dismissed from the service because proved him unfit to be entrusted with the duties and
being a government employee, he appeared as counsel responsibilities belonging to the office of an attorney."
in a private case, cannot be applied in the case at bar (Ex parte Brounsal Cowp 829; 83 Reprint; 6 C.J., p. 581;
because the respondent in said Zeta case had appeared see In re de los Angeles Adm. Case No. 225, Sept. 31,
as counsel without permission from his superiors. 1959, cited in Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court,
Vol. 6, p. 242).
Although the complaint alleges violation of civil service
rules, the complainant however states that the basis of In the light of the foregoing, We find no reason or
his complaint for disbarment is not the respondent's act necessity to refer this complaint to the Solicitor General
of appearing as counsel but the unauthorized use of for investigation, report and recommendation.
7
another name.
WHEREFORE, this case is hereby DISMISSED for lack
A perusal of the records however, reveals that whereas of merit.
there is indeed a pleading entitled "Objection/Opposition
to the 2 Formal Offer of Evidence" (Annex "C" to the SO ORDERED.
Complaint for Disbarment, which is signed as "Manuel
A.C. No. 7481 April 24, 2012 resolved to refer the case to the Integrated Bar of the
LORENZO D. BRENNISEN, Complainant, Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
vs. recommendation.
ATTY. RAMON U. CONTAWI, Respondent.
DECISION The Action and Recommendation of the IBP
PER CURIAM:

1
During the mandatory conference held on October 21,
Before the Court is an administrative complaint for 2008, the parties stipulated on the following matters:
disbarment filed by complainant Lorenzo D. Brennisen
against respondent Atty. Ramon U. Contawi for deceit
1. That complainant is the owner of a property covered
and gross misconduct in violation of his lawyer's oath. by TCT No. 21176 (45228) of the Register of Deeds of
Paraaque;
The Facts
2. Respondent was in possession of the Owner's
Complainant is the registered owner of a parcel of land Duplicate Certificate of the property of the complainant;
located in San Dionisio, Paraaque City covered by
2
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 21176 of the
3. The property of the complainant was mortgaged to a
Register of Deeds for the Province of Rizal. Being a
certain Roberto Ho;
resident of the United States of America (USA), he
entrusted the administration of the subject property to
respondent, together with the corresponding owner's 4. The title to the property of complainant was cancelled
duplicate title. in year 2000 and a new one, TCT No. 150814 was
issued in favor of Mr. Roberto Ho;
Unbeknownst to complainant, however, respondent,
through a spurious Special Power of Attorney (SPA)
3 5. The Special Power of Attorney dated 24 February
dated February 22, 1989, mortgaged and subsequently 1989 in favor of Atty. Ramon U. Contawi is spurious and
sold the subject property to one Roberto Ho ("Ho"), as was not signed by complainant Lorenzo D. Brennisen;
4
evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale dated November
15, 2001. As a result, TCT No. 21176 was cancelled and 6. That respondent received Php100,000.00 of the
5
replaced by TCT No. 150814 issued in favor of Ho. mortgage loan secured by the mortgagee on the
aforementioned property of complainant;
Thus, on April 16, 2007, complainant filed the instant
administrative complaint against respondent for having 7. That respondent did not inform the complainant about
violated his oath as a lawyer, causing him damage and the unauthorized mortgage and sale of his property;
prejudice.
8. That respondent has a loan obligation to Mr. Roberto
6
In his counter-affidavit, respondent denied any formal Ho;
lawyer-client relationship between him and the
complainant, claiming to have merely extended his 9. That respondent has not yet filed any case against the
services for free. He also denied receiving money from person whom he claims to have falsified his signature;
the complainant for the purpose of paying the real estate
taxes on the property. Further, he averred that it was his 10. That respondent did not notify the complainant that
former office assistants, a certain Boy Roque ("Roque") the owner's copy of TCT No. 21176 was stolen and was
and one Danilo Diaz ("Diaz"), who offered the subject taken out from his office.
8

property to Ho as collateral for a loan. Nevertheless,


respondent admitted to having confirmed the spurious 9
In its Report dated July 10, 2009, the IBP Commission
SPA in his favor already annotated at the back of TCT
on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), through Commissioner
No. 21176 upon the prodding of Roque and Diaz, and
Eduardo V. De Mesa, found that respondent had
because he was also in need of money at that time.
undeniably mortgaged and sold the property of his client
Hence, he signed the real estate mortgage and received
without the latter's knowledge or consent, facilitated by
his proportionate share of P130,000.00 from the
the use of a falsified SPA. Hence, in addition to his
proceeds of the loan, which he asserted to have fully
possible criminal liability for falsification, the IBP-CBD
settled.
deduced that respondent violated various provisions of
the Canons of Professional Responsibility and
Finally, respondent denied signing the Deed of Absolute accordingly recommended that he be disbarred and his
Sale in favor of Ho and insisted that it was a forgery. name stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.
Nonetheless, he sought complainant's forgiveness and
promised to repay the value of the subject property.
On May 14, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors adopted
7 and approved the report of Commissioner De Mesa
In the Resolution dated July 16, 2008, the Court 10
through Resolution No. XIX-2011-248 as follows:
"RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby Canon 16.03 A lawyer shall deliver the funds and
unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED the Report property of his client when due or upon demand.
and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner
in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Canon 17 A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his
Resolution as Annex 'A' and finding the recommendation client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence
fully supported by the evidence on record and the reposed in him.
applicable laws and rules, and finding Respondent guilty
of falsification; making or using falsified documents; and 11
In Sabayle v. Tandayag, the Court disbarred one of the
for benefiting from the proceed[s] of his dishonest acts,
respondent lawyers and ordered his name stricken from
Atty. Ramon U. Contawi is hereby DISBARRED."
the Roll of Attorneys on the grounds of serious
dishonesty and professional misconduct. The
The Issue respondent lawyer knowingly participated in a false and
simulated transaction not only by notarizing a spurious
The sole issue before the Court is whether respondent Deed of Sale, but also and even worse sharing in the
violated his lawyer's oath when he mortgaged and sold profits of the specious transaction by acquiring half of
complainant's property, which was entrusted to him, the property subject of the Deed of Sale.
without the latter's consent.
12
In Flores v. Chua, the Court disbarred the respondent
The Court's Ruling lawyer for having deliberately made false
representations that the vendor appeared personally
After a punctilious examination of the records, the Court before him when he notarized a forged deed of sale. He
concurs with the findings and recommendation of was found guilty of grave misconduct.
Commissioner De Mesa and the IBP Board of Governors
that respondent acted with deceit when, through the use In this case, respondent's established acts exhibited his
of a falsified document, he effected the unauthorized unfitness and plain inability to discharge the bounden
mortgage and sale of his client's property for his duties of a member of the legal profession. He failed to
personal benefit. prove himself worthy of the privilege to practice law and
to live up to the exacting standards demanded of the
Indisputably, respondent disposed of complainant's members of the bar. It bears to stress that "[t]he practice
property without his knowledge or consent, and partook of law is a privilege given to lawyers who meet the high
of the proceeds of the sale for his own benefit. His standards of legal proficiency and morality. Any violation
contention that he merely accommodated the request of of these standards exposes the lawyer to administrative
13
his then financially-incapacitated office assistants to liability."
confirm the spurious SPA is flimsy and implausible, as
he was fully aware that complainant's signature reflected Moreover, respondent's argument that there was no
thereon was forged. As aptly opined by Commissioner formal lawyer-client relationship between him and
De Mesa, the fraudulent transactions involving the complainant will not serve to mitigate his liability. There
subject property were effected using the owner's is no distinction as to whether the transgression is
duplicate title, which was in respondent's safekeeping committed in a lawyer's private or professional capacity,
and custody during complainant's absence. for a lawyer may not divide his personality as an attorney
14
at one time and a mere citizen at another. 1wphi1
Consequently, Commissioner De Mesa and the IBP
Board of Governors correctly recommended his With the foregoing disquisitions, the Court thus finds the
disbarment for violations of the pertinent provisions of penalty of disbarment proper in this case, as
the Canons of Professional Responsibility, to wit: recommended by Commissioner De Mesa and the IBP
Board of Governors. Section 27, Rule 38 of the Rules of
Canon 1 A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey Court provides:
the laws of the land and promote respect for law and
legal processes. "SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by
Supreme Court; grounds therefor. - A member of the bar
Canon 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office,
xxx or for any violation of the oath which he is required
Canon 16 A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and
to take before admission to practice xxx" (emphasis
properties of his client which may come into his
supplied)
possession.

The Court notes that in administrative proceedings, only


Canon 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or
substantial evidence, i.e., that amount of relevant
property collected or received for or from client.
evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as
15
adequate to support a conclusion, is required. Having
carefully scrutinized the records of this case, the Court
therefore finds that the standard of substantial evidence
has been more than satisfied.

WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. RAMON U.


CONTAWI, having clearly violated his lawyer's oath and
the Canons of Professional Responsibility through his
unlawful, dishonest and deceitful conduct, is
DISBARRED and his name ordered STRICKEN from
the Roll of Attorneys.

Let copies of this Decision be served on the Office of the


Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
all courts in the country for their information and
guidance. Let a copy of this Decision be attached to
respondent's personal record as attorney.

SO ORDERED.
A.M. No. 2349 July 3, 1992 pregnancy.
DOROTHY B. TERRE, complainant,
vs. The Court denied respondent's Motion to Set Aside or
ATTY. JORDAN TERRE, respondent. Lift the Suspension Order and instead referred; by a
Resolution dated 6 January 1986, the complaint to the
PER CURIAM: Office of the Solicitor General for investigation, report
5
and recommendation.
In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on 24
December 1981, complainant Dorothy B. Terre charged Then Solicitor Pio C. Guerrero was appointed
respondent Jordan Terre, a member of the Philippine investigator by the Office of the Solicitor General. He set
Bar with "grossly immoral conduct," consisting of the case for hearing on 7 July 1986 with notice to both
contracting a second marriage and living with another parties. On 7 July 1986, complainant Dorothy appeared
woman other than complainant, while his prior marriage and presented her evidence ex parte, since respondent
6
with complainant remained subsisting. did not so appear. The Investigating Solicitor scheduled
and held another hearing on 19 August 1986, where he
The Court resolved to require respondent to answer the put clarificatory questions to the complainant;
1
complaint. Respondent successfully evaded five (5) respondent once again did not appear despite notice to
attempts to serve a copy of the Court's Resolution and of do so. Complainant finally offered her evidence and
the complaint by moving from one place to another, such rested her case. The Solicitor set still another hearing for
that he could not be found nor reached in his alleged 2 October 1986, notifying respondent to present his
2
place of employment or residence. On 24 April 1985, evidence with a warning that should he fail once more to
that is after three (3) years and a half, with still no appear, the case would be deemed submitted for
answer from the respondent, the Court noted resolution. Respondent did not appear on 2 October
respondent's success in evading service of the complaint 1986. The Investigating Solicitor accordingly considered
and the Court's Resolution and thereupon resolved to respondent to have waived his right to present evidence
"suspend respondent Atty. Jordan Terre from the and declared the case submitted for resolution. The
practice of law until after he appears and/or files his parties were given time to submit their respective
answer to the complaint against him" in the instant memoranda. Complainant Dorothy did so on 8
December 1986. Respondent Terre did not file his
3 memorandum.
case.

On 26 February 1990, the Office of the Solicitor General


On 28 September 1985, respondent finally filed an
submitted its "Report and Recommendation" to this
Answer with a Motion to Set Aside and/or Lift
Court. The Report summarized the testimony of the
Suspension Order. In his Answer, Atty. Terre averred
complainant in the following manner:
that he had contracted marriage with complainant
Dorothy Terre on 14 June 1977 upon her representation
that she was single; that he subsequently learned that Complainant Dorothy Terre took the witness stand and
Dorothy was married to a certain Merlito A. Bercenilla testified substantially as follows: she and respondent
sometime in 1968; that when he confronted Dorothy met for the first time in 1979 as fourth year high school
about her prior marriage, Dorothy drove him out of their classmates in Cadiz City High School (tsn, July 7, 1986,
conjugal residence; that Dorothy had mockingly told him p. 9); she was then married to Merlito Bercenilla, while
of her private meetings with Merlito A. Bercenilla and respondent was single (id.); respondent was aware of
that the child she was then carrying (i.e., Jason Terre) her marital status (ibid, p. 14); it was then that
was the son of Bercenilla; that believing in good faith respondent started courting her but nothing happened of
that his marriage to complainant was null and void ab the courtship (ibid, p. 10); they [complainant and
initio, he contracted marriage with Helina Malicdem at respondent] moved to Manila were they respectively
Dasol, Pangasinan.
4 pursued their education, respondent as a law student at
the Lyceum University (tsn, July 7, 1986, p. 12, 15-16);
respondent continued courting her, this time with more
In her Reply, complainant Dorothy denied that Jason
persistence (ibid, p. 11); she decided nothing would
Terre was the child of Merlito A. Bercenilla and insisted
come of it since she was married but he [respondent]
that Jason was the child of respondent Jordan Terre, as
explained to her that their marriage was void ab initio
evidenced by Jason's Birth Certificate and physical
since she and her first husband were first cousins (ibid,
resemblance to respondent. Dorothy further explained
p. 12); convinced by his explanation and having secured
that while she had given birth to Jason Terre at the
favorable advice from her mother and
PAFGH registered as a dependent of Merlito Bercenilla,
she had done so out of extreme necessity and to avoid
risk of death or injury to the fetus which happened to be ex-in-laws, she agreed to marry him [respondent] (ibid,
in a difficult breech position. According to Dorothy, she 12-13, 16); in their marriage license, despite her
had then already been abandoned by respondent Jordan [complainant's] objection, he [respondent] wrote "single"
Terre, leaving her penniless and without means to pay as her status explaining that since her marriage was void
for the medical and hospital bills arising by reason of her ab initio, there was no need to go to court to declare it as
such (ibid, 14-15); they were married before Judge marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage
Priscilla Mijares of the City Court of Manila on June 14, was null and void ab initio is essential. 8 Even if we were
1977 (Exhibit A; tsn, July 7, 1986, pp. 16-17); Jason to assume, arguendo merely, that Jordan Terre held that
Terre was born of their union on June 25, 1981 (Exhibit mistaken belief in good faith, the same result will follow.
B, tsn, July 7, 1986, p. 18); all through their married state For if we are to hold Jordan Terre to his own argument,
up to the time he [respondent] disappeared in 1981, his first marriage to complainant Dorothy Terre must be
complainant supported respondent, in addition to the deemed valid, with the result that his second marriage to
allowance the latter was getting from his parents (ibid, Helina Malicdem must be regarded as bigamous and
pp. 19-20); she was unaware of the reason for his criminal in character.
disappearance until she found out later that respondent
married a certain Vilma [sic] Malicdem (Exhibit C, tsn, That the moral character of respondent Jordan Terre
July 7, 1986, pp. 21-22); she then filed a case for was deeply flawed is shown by other circumstances. As
abandonment of minor with the City Fiscal of Pasay City noted, he convinced the complainant that her prior
(ibid, p. 23) which was subsequently filed before Branch marriage to Bercenilla was null and void ab initio, that
II of the City Court of Pasay City as Criminal Case No. she was still legally single and free to marry him. When
816159 (Exhibit D; tsn, July 7, 1986, p. 24); she likewise complainant and respondent had contracted their
filed a case for bigamy against respondent and Helina marriage, respondent went through law school while
Malicdem with the office of the Provincial Fiscal of being supported by complainant, with some assistance
Pangasinan, where a prima facie case was found to from respondent's parents. After respondent had finished
exist (Exhibit E; tsn, July 7, pp. 25-26); additionally, his law course and gotten complainant pregnant,
complainant filed an administrative case against respondent abandoned the complainant without support
respondent with the Commission on Audit where he was and without the wherewithal for delivering his own child
employed, which case however was considered closed safely in a hospital.
for being moot and academic when respondent was
considered automatically separated from the service for
Thus, we agree with the Solicitor General that
having gone on absence without official leave (Exhibit F;
7 respondent Jordan Terre, by his actions, "eloquently
tsn, July 7, 1986, pp. 28-29).
displayed, not only his unfitness to remain as a member
of the Bar, but likewise his inadequacy to uphold the
There is no dispute over the fact that complainant purpose and responsibility of his gender" because
Dorothy Terre and respondent Jordan Terre contracted marriage is a basic social institution.
9

marriage on 14 July 1977 before Judge Priscilla Mijares.


There is further no dispute over the fact that on 3 May 10
In Pomperada v. Jochico, the Court, in rejecting a
1981, respondent Jordan Terre married Helina Malicdem petition to be allowed to take the oath as a member of
in Dasol, Pangasinan. When the second marriage was the Bar and to sign the Roll of Attorneys, said through
entered into, respondent's prior marriage with
Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera:
complainant was subsisting, no judicial action having
been initiated or any judicial declaration obtained as to
the nullity of such prior marriage of respondent with It is evident that respondent fails to meet the standard of
complainant. moral fitness for membership in the legal profession.
Whether the marriage was a joke as respondent claims,
or a trick played on her as claimed by complainant, it
Respondent Jordan Terre sought to defend himself by does not speak well of respondent's moral values.
claiming that he had believed in good faith that his prior
Respondent had made a mockery of marriage, a basic
marriage with complainant Dorothy Terre was null and
social institution which public policy cherishes and
void ab initio and that no action for a judicial declaration 11
protects (Article 216, Civil Code).
of nullity was necessary.
12
In Bolivar v. Simbol, the Court found the respondent
The Court considers this claim on the part of respondent there guilty of "grossly immoral conduct" because he
Jordan Terre as a spurious defense. In the first place,
made a dupe of complainant, living on her bounty and
respondent has not rebutted complainant's evidence as
allowing her to spend for his schooling and other
to the basic facts which underscores the bad faith of
personal necessities while dangling before her the
respondent Terre. In the second place, that pretended
mirage of a marriage, marrying another girl as soon as
defense is the same argument by which he had inveigled
he had finished his studies, keeping his marriage a
complainant into believing that her prior marriage to
secret while continuing to demand money from
Merlito A. Bercenilla being incestuous and void ab initio complainant. . . . ." The Court held such acts "indicative
(Dorothy and Merlito being allegedly first cousins to each of a character not worthy of a member of the Bar."
13
other), she was free to contract a second marriage with
the respondent. Respondent Jordan Terre, being a
lawyer, knew or should have known that such an We believe and so hold that the conduct of respondent
argument ran counter to the prevailing case law of this Jordan Terre in inveigling complainant Dorothy Terre to
Court which holds that for purposes of determining contract a second marriage with him; in abandoning
whether a person is legally free to contract a second complainant Dorothy Terre after she had cared for him
and supported him through law school, leaving her
without means for the safe delivery of his own child; in
contracting a second marriage with Helina Malicdem
while his first marriage with complainant Dorothy Terre
was subsisting, constituted "grossly immoral conduct"
under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court,
affording more than sufficient basis for disbarment of
respondent Jordan Terre. He was unworthy of admission
to the Bar in the first place. The Court will correct this
error forthwith.

WHEREFORE, the Court Resolved to DISBAR


respondent Jordan Terre and to STRIKE OUT his name
from the Roll of Attorneys. A copy of this decision shall
be spread on the personal record of respondent Jordan
Terre in the Bar Confidant's Office. A copy of this
resolution shall also be furnished to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines and shall be circularized to all the courts
of the land.

SO ORDERED.
Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) of Atty. Alberto A.
A.C. No. 4748 August 4, 2000 Villaruz, counsel for the plaintiffs, was issued only on
VICTORIA V. RADJAIE, complainant, January 31, 1995. This is shown on Page 71 of the
vs. records.
ATTY. JOSE O. ALOVERA, respondent.
DECISION e) There is no showing that the January 25, 1995 Order
PER CURIAM: (p. 87) admitting the formal offer was even received by a
Court staff for filing with the records.
Atty. Jose O. Alovera, former Presiding Judge of the
Regional Trial Court of Roxas City, Branch 17, faces f) The same can be said of the January 30, 1995
1
disbarment for having penned a Decision dated January Decision (pp. 88-93) which was allegedly decided five
30, 1995 long after his retirement from the Judiciary on (5) days after the Order admitting the evidence (p. 87)
January 31, 1995 which ultimately divested complainant was allegedly issued. What a swift action from a retiring
Victoria V. Radjaie of her property in Panay, Capiz. judge.
2
In an Affidavit-Complaint filed before the Office of the g) A copy of the Decision was not even sent to the
3
Bar Confidant on April 21, 1997, complainant sought the counsel for the plaintiffs but is shown to have been
disbarment of respondent enumerating the following received by one of the plaintiffs only on August 1, 1995
particulars to support her contention that the questioned (p. 93).
January 30, 1995 decision was prepared after the
retirement of respondent:
h) Again, it is beyond the normal experience for a lawyer
such as Atty. Villaruz who is a practitioner in the locality
a) Almost all orders issued by then Judge Alovera prior and who is in Court almost everyday that he will not
to his retirement bear the stamp "RECEIVED" by Branch follow up if there is already a decision rendered in a case
17 of RTC-Roxas City, with the initial of the one who where he was allowed to present evidence ex-parte or
received it for filing with the court-record except the even be told about it.
Order of January 25, 1995 (p. 87 records) admitting, and
the Decision dated January 30, 1995 (pp. 88-93, ibid.).
i) The records show that all orders after the retirement of
Mr. Alovera bear the stamp "RECEIVED" by the Court
b) It can also be seen that all the orders issued prior to staff who received them for filing in the court records.
the retirement were all type-written in the same type-
[writer] except the January 25, 1995 Order (p. 87) and
Traversing the allegations of the Affidavit-Complaint as
the Decision (pp. 88-93) and these two (2) documents
purely speculative and not based on personal
appear to have been type-written on the same type- 4
knowledge, the respondent, in his Comment dated
[writer].
August 20, 1997, further assailed as simply self-serving
complainant's Affidavit-Complaint alleging that a careful
c) It is also a source of wonder why plaintiffs formally scrutiny of the expediente of Civil Case No. V-6186
offered their evidence one year after the last witness would reveal that respondent observed due process
was presented last December 10, 1993. when he resolved the said case against complainant. It
5

was only when Judge Julius Abela, who succeeded him


xxx xxx xxx in RTC, Br. 17, Roxas City, annulled, through a
resolution, the questioned January 30, 1995 decision,
Plaintiffs had until January 20, 1994 to formally offer which ostensibly having become final was also
6
their evidence but it took them one (1) year and five (5) executed, did the matter get out of hand. His said
days to file such a simple pleading. It goes against the decision, respondent argued, may only be impeached,
7
normal human experience when plaintiffs who are annulled or otherwise set aside under three (3) modes,
allowed to present evidence ex-parte are usually very all of which were either not availed of by complainant for
quick in having things done because there is no lapse of time, or like an action to annul the judgment,
opposition but in this case it took plaintiffs a while to though still available, should not have been filed in the
formally rest which was only fifteen (15) days prior to the same court, which rendered the questioned decision, but
8
retirement of Mr. Alovera. This timing is highly suspect. should have been filed, instead, in the Court of Appeals.
As to the absence of stamp "RECEIVED" on the
questioned decision, respondent shifted the blame to the
d) Even plaintiffs' formal offer of evidence showed
then OIC Clerk of Court of the said court, Mrs. Nenita
badges of fraud. It was not received by the trial court.
Aluad, contending that after the decision was rendered
Page 67 shows this clearly. It would not be surprising if
on January 30, 1995, he lost control of it and he
the same was also inserted into the records on a much
later date and Atty. Alberto Villaruz must be made to surmised that Mrs. Aluad, who had the duty to receive
explain this too. and record the decision, might have lost it
9
"momentarily."
It was dated January 20, 1995 but the date of the 10
In a Resolution dated October 22, 1997, this Court
referred the instant case to the Office of the Bar The established facts, as quoted from the Report dated
Confidant for investigation, report and recommendation. November 17, 1999 of the Office of the Bar Confidant,
While in the process of investigation, three (3) incidents are as follows:
occurred, namely:
On July 2, 1992, the heirs of the late Faustina Borres,
1. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Capiz Segundina Borres, Felisa Borres, Micaela Borres, Maria
Chapter, approved Resolution No. 9, Series of 1997 on Bores, and Sixto Borres (hereinafter "Borres heirs")
December 17, 1997, questioning the order, dated through their counsel, Atty. Alberto A. Villaruz, filed an
November 28, 1997, of the Regional Trial Court, Br. 17, action for Partition and Accounting, docketed as Civil
Roxas City, which ordered the suspension from the Case No. V-6186, with the Regional Trial Court, Br. 15,
practice of law of herein respondent and Atty. Alberto Roxas City, against herein complainant, Victoria V.
Villaruz; Radjaie, who was presumably an heir of the late
Faustina Borres. The action sought, among others, the
2. The Court En Banc, in its Resolution of December 22, cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-24150
1997, resolved to issue a temporary restraining order in the name of herein complainant covering a parcel of
(TRO) in G.R. No. 131505, entitled "Atty. Alberto A. land with an area of 215,777 square meters situated in
Villaruz vs. Honorable Julius L. Abela," ordering the Panay, Capiz, and the declaration of the said parcel of
respondent judge therein to cease and desist from land as property commonly owned by the Borres heirs.
enforcing and/or implementing his questioned order
dated November 28, 1997 in Civil Case No. V-6186, On July 16, 1993, Br. 17, to which Civil Case No. V-6186
which ordered the suspension of Atty. Villaruz; and, was re-raffled, declared herein complainant in default
and ordered the Borres heirs to present their evidence
14
3. Respondent Alovera filed a petition for certiorari on July 30, 1993.
before the Supreme Court, entitled "Jose Alovera vs.
Victoria Villariez-Radjaie and Judge Julius L. Abela," It was only after three (3) postponements that the Borres
under G.R. No. 131768, which, at the time was still heirs were able to start presenting their evidence ex-
pending, questioning the Order of November 28, 1997 parte on October 8, 1993. For lack of material time,
which ordered respondent's suspension from the however, the presentation of evidence was again reset
practice of law. to November 22, 1993, which again was postponed and
15
reset to December 10, 1993.
11
Thus, necessitated the filing of the Manifestation by the
Office of the Bar Confidant on January 27, 1998, On December 10, 1993, there were several criminal and
inquiring from the Court whether to proceed with the civil actions scheduled for trial, which commenced at
investigation of the case in view of the aforementioned about 10:00 in the morning, before Br. 17, including Civil
incidents. Case No. V-6186, which was listed number four in the
court calendar. Judge Alovera presided over the hearing
On February 18, 1998, the Court directed the Office of and Teresita V. Bauzon, court stenographer of Br. 17,
the Bar Confidant to proceed with the investigation of the took down notes of the Proceedings. Atty. Villaruz
16
instant case.
12 appeared for the accused in a criminal case before Br.
17 at the time. The court had a recess at 11:10 and
resumed at 11:35 in the morning. After the hearing of
Judge Julius Abela, Nenita M. Aluad, legal researcher,
criminal cases was through, Civil Case No. V-6186 was
Teresita V. Bauzon, court stenographer, Concepcion
called at about 11:55 in the morning, but the plaintiffs as
Alcazar, clerk-in-charge of civil cases and special
well as their counsel, Atty. Villaruz, were no longer inside
proceedings, all of Regional Trial Court, Br. 17, Roxas
the courtroom. The session thus adjourned at 11:57 in
City, Rosa Dapat, court stenographer of Regional Trial
the morning without Civil Case No. V-6186 being
Court, Br. 15, Roxas City and the complainant herself 17
heard.
testified as witnesses for the complainant.

The respondent presented as his lone witness, Mrs. At about 11:30 in the morning of the same date, Atty.
Villaruz approached Rosa Dapat, who was the court
Rosa Dapat, who merely testified on the January 10,
stenographer at the time of RTC, Br. 15, Roxas City,
1993 proceedings inside his chambers. Respondent
himself did not testify and neither did any other witness while she was in her office. Atty. Villaruz told her that
testify for him, despite the issuance of subpoena ad Judge Alovera was requesting her to assist in the
proceedings of Civil Case No. V-6186. At first she was
testificandum on Ireneo Borres and Ludovico Buhat, who
hesitant to accede to the request as Br. 17 had also its
both failed to appear at the investigation. In lieu of their
own court stenographer. She relented though when told
oral testimonies, respondent offered and presented their
13 that Br. 17 as well as the other branches had no
respective affidavits. Complainant chose not to object
available court stenographer. She then went to Br. 17
thereto and even waived her right, through her counsel,
and saw Atty. Villaruz standing by the door of the
to cross-examine them.
chambers of Judge Alovera. Atty. Villaruz motioned her
to enter the chambers, which is separate from the
courtroom. While inside the chambers, she saw Judge while trying to have her co-employees receive the
Alovera behind his desk and other people whom she did questioned decision. Nobody, however, received the
not know. Upon being told that Mrs. Dapat would be the same because it was already seven (7) months after his
28
stenographer, Judge Alovera told Atty. Villaruz to start retirement. A little later, she found the questioned
the proceedings. Following the manifestation made by decision, together with the formal offer of exhibits of
Atty. Villaruz, a witness, whom she later recognized to January 20, 1995 and the order of January 25, 1995, on
be Atty. Arturo Agudo, was called. At that instant Judge the top of her table. Although she noticed that these
Alovera stood up and said, "All right, you just continue," records were not stamped "RECEIVED" as a matter of
18
and then went out of the chambers. Judge Alovera procedure, she went on to attach the said records to the
29
would occasionally return to the chambers in the course expediente of Civil Case No. V-6186. She even gave a
of the proceedings, but he would just sit down and listen copy of the questioned decision to one of the plaintiffs,
while Atty. Villaruz was conducting his direct Ireneo Borres, and to Atty. Villaruz, which was received
30
examination of the witness and presenting documentary for him by Ireneo Borres. After keeping the expediente,
19
evidence. The proceedings lasted up to 12:10 in the she then entered the questioned decision in her
31
afternoon, with Judge Alovera making only two rulings in logbook.
the course thereof, including the one he made at the end
when he ordered the plaintiffs to file their written offer of The Borres heirs succeeded in having the questioned
20
evidence on January 20, 1994. decision executed when, on January 31, 1996, the
lessee of the property, which is the subject matter of
From this point on, complainant would establish how the Civil Case No. V-6186, surrendered possession of the
32
January 30, 1995 decision of Judge Alovera in Civil said property in favor of the Borres heirs, Said transfer
Case No. V-6186 came about. of possession was made pursuant to the writ of
execution issued on January 19, 1996 by the Acting
Prior to his retirement from the judiciary on January 31, Presiding Judge of Br. 17, Hon. Delano F. Villaruz,
33
1995, or on January 5, 1995, Judge Alovera designated through Clerk of Court Susan Mendoza Arce.
his legal researcher, Mrs. Nenita Aluad, to be the OIC
21
Branch Clerk of Court. As part of her functions as such Meanwhile, complainant, who had been working in
OIC, all decisions, orders and resolutions of Br. 17 would Japan together with his husband who is employed at the
first be received by her from the judge, and would stamp Turkish Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, learned of what
34
them "RECEIVED" and put thereon the date of receipt as happened to her property in Panay, Capiz. She was
22
well as her initial or signature. This is in accordance thus prompted to come back to the Philippines, which
23
with Sec. 1, Rule 36 of the Rules of Court. resulted in losing her job in Japan.

Sometime in February of 1995, Mrs. Teresita V. Bauzon, Back home, complainant, on March 5, 1996, filed a
court stenographer of Br. 17 since 1993, was asked to Petition for Relief from Order, questioning the January
type the draft decision in Civil Case No. V-6186 in Judge 30, 1995 decision and the January 19, 1996 Writ of
35
Alovera's house. When she inquired if he can still do it, Execution. She also prayed "that disciplinary and
Judge Alovera told her that he had one (1) year more to contempt proceedings be taken against those involved in
decide cases. With this assurance, she typed the draft the perfidious anomaly to tamper with the administration
36
decision on a single bond paper without a duplicate as of justice."
24
Judge Alovera was dictating it.
Judge Julius L. Abela took cognizance of Civil Case No.
On August 1, 1995 at about 9:30 in the morning, retired V-6186 as he was the acting presiding judge of Br. 17 at
37
Judge Alovera came to Br. 17, with a man and a woman, the time of the filing of said petition for relief from order.
later identified as the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. V-6186, In the course of the proceedings thereof, he noticed that
behind him. While he was approaching Nenita Aluad, he the Formal Offer of Exhibits purportedly filed by the
uttered to the latter, "Receive this, receive this, " plaintiffs, i.e., Borres heirs, was dated January 20, 1995,
referring to the questioned January 30, 1995 decision, while the PTR of their counsel, Atty. Alberto Villaruz, was
which he was holding. As he spread the decision on her issued on January 31, 1995. He concluded then that the
table, he continued, "Because I will defend you even up said offer could not have been filed on January 20, 1995.
to the Plaza Miranda. And give copies to these two, When he asked Atty. Villaruz about it, the latter refused
25 38
pointing to the plaintiffs who were at his back. Almost to answer and just kept quiet. He likewise observed
instantaneously, Mrs. Aluad replied, " I would not receive that there was no order in Civil Case No. V-6186
it because it is already August 1, 1995," and she did not submitting the same for decision, except for the order
argue with him anymore so as not to embarrass him for made by Judge Alovera on December 10, 1993 during
26
being her former superior. She then went out of the the "simulated proceedings" inside his chambers, where
office while retired Judge Alovera, as well as the two he directed the counsel for the plaintiffs to file his offer of
27 39
plaintiffs were still inside. At about the same time, Mrs. exhibits. Mrs. Rosa Dapat, who took down notes during
Concepcion Alcazar, another employee of Br. 17 and the the said proceedings and who was not a member of the
clerk-in-charge of civil cases and special proceedings staff of Br. 17, was not even acknowledged on the
therein, saw Judge Alovera inside the office of Br. 17 records as the official stenographer in the course
40
thereof. Thus, in his resolution of September 25, 1997, have been made only on January 31, 1995 or later.
Judge Abela granted the petition for relief filed by Because this is so, the Order of Judge Alovera dated
complainant and the latter was ordered reinstated to the January 25, 1995 is also ante dated and could have
possession of the property in question. In the same been made only on a date beyond the filing of the Offer
resolution, Judge Abela declared the January 30, 1995 of Exhibits. So also with the decision of former Judge
decision null and void, the same not being filed with the Alovera dated January 30, 1995.
clerk of court and not properly rendered in accordance
41
with Section 1, Rule 36, Rules of Court. xxx xxx xxx

Prompted by what he considered to be anomalous The Order admitting the exhibits and the decision were
proceedings, coupled with the prayer of complainant in made after the retirement of Judge Alovera. He was no
her petition for relief "that disciplinary and contempt longer a judge.
proceedings be taken against those involved in the
perfidious anomaly to tamper with the administration of
The acts of Attys. Alberto Villaruz and Jose O. Alovera
justice," Judge Abela conducted an investigation into the
42 constitute deceit, malpractice, serious and grave
said anomaly. After considering the testimonies of
misconduct as lawyer justifying their suspension from
Misses Aluad, Dapat, Bauzon and Alcazar during the 43
the practice of law and ultimately their disbarment.
investigation, together with the documentary evidence
presented, he concluded, thus:
Based on the foregoing findings, the Bar Confidant
recommended the disbarment of respondent, declaring
From the foregoing facts and circumstances the that it found more than sufficient evidence to sustain
following facts are established that:
complainant's charge against respondent that, indeed,
the January 30, 1995 decision in Civil Case No. V-6186,
1) Civil Case No. V-6186 was not tried on December 10, which divested complainant of her property in Panay,
1993. What transpired was a mock or simulated trial Capiz, was penned by respondent after his retirement
inside the chamber of Judge Alovera where only Atty. from the judiciary on January 31, 1995.
Alberto Villaruz, the plaintiffs and Mrs. Rosa Dapat, a
court stenographer from another court, were present. No
This Court finds the recommendation of the Office of the
Judge or RTC Branch 17 court personnel were present
Bar Confidant to be well-taken. Respondent has thus
as there was actual court session in open court going on
sufficiently demonstrated that he is morally and legally
at that time. unfit to remain in the exclusive and honorable fraternity
of the legal profession.
2) The records of Civil Case No. V-6186 were with
Judge Jose O. Alovera and remained with him even after
In his long years as a lawyer, respondent has forgotten
his retirement on January 31, 1995. He did not return the
his sworn pledge as a lawyer. It is time once again that
record to Mrs. Concepcion Alcazar, Court Clerk III in the Court inculcate in the hearts of all lawyers that
Charge of Civil Cases. pledge; thus -

3) The record of Civil Case No. V-6186 turned up on the


LAWYER'S OATH
table of Mrs. Alcazar together with the "Offer of Exhibits"
of Atty. Villaruz dated January 20, 1995 and the "Order"
dated January 25, 1995, after the retirement of Judge " I, x x x, do solemnly swear that I will maintain
Alovera. Both the Offer and the Order admitting the allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; I will
exhibits were not properly filed and do not bear markings support and defend its Constitution and obey the laws as
of having been received by the court. well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities
therein; I will do no falsehood nor consent to its
commission; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue
4) The "decision" of Judge Jose O. Alovera, though any groundless, false or unlawful suit nor give aid nor
dated January 30, 1995, was filed with the court on
consent to the same; I will not delay any man's cause for
August 1, 1995 by former Judge Alovera himself and
money or malice and will conduct myself as a lawyer
because he was no longer a judge his submission was
according to the best of my knowledge and discretion
refused.
with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients
and I impose upon myself this obligation voluntary,
- CONCLUSIONS - without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

The "Offer of Exhibits" of Atty. Alberto Villaruz though SO HELP ME GOD.


dated January 20, 1995 bears signature and PTR No.
issued on January 31, 1995. This simply means that the
This oath to which all lawyers have subscribed in solemn
pleadings (were) ante dated. It is impossible for Atty.
agreement to dedicate themselves to the pursuit of
Villaruz to affix his PTR No. dated January 31, 1995 or
justice, is not a mere ceremony or formality for practicing
any date prior to its issuance. The Offer of Exhibits could 44
law to be forgotten afterwards nor is it mere words, drift
and hollow, but a sacred trust that every lawyer must members of the Bar. By swearing the lawyer's oath, an
45
uphold and keep inviolable at all times. This oath is attorney becomes a guardian of truth and the rule of law,
firmly echoed and reflected in the Code of Professional and an indispensable instrument in the fair and impartial
Responsibility, the particular provisions of which are administration of justice - a vital function of democracy a
applicable to the case at bar, provide, to wit: failure of which is disastrous to society. Any departure
from the path which a lawyer must follow as demanded
CANON 1 - A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey by the virtues of his profession shall not be tolerated by
48
the laws of the land and promote respect for law and for this Court as the disciplining authority for there is
legal processes. perhaps no profession after that of the sacred ministry in
which a high-toned morality is more imperative than that
49
of law.
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Despite the opportunities accorded to respondent to
present substantial defense to refute the charges against
Rule 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities
him, he failed neither to do so nor to offer a valid
aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence
explanation. When the integrity of a member of the bar is
in the legal system.
challenged, it is not enough that he denies the charges
against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the
xxx xxx xxx evidence against him. He must show proof that he still
maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at
50
CANON 7 - A lawyer shall at all times uphold the all times is expected of him.
integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support
the activities of the Integrated Bar. Given the peculiar factual circumstances prevailing in
this case, the Court finds as appropriate the
Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that recommended penalty of the Office of the Bar Confidant
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor in its Report. Such gross misconduct of the respondent
should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a brings intolerable dishonor to the legal profession and
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal calls for the severance of respondents privilege to
profession. practice law for life.

xxx xxx xxx WHEREFORE, respondent JOSE O. ALOVERA is


hereby DISBARRED. The Office of the Clerk of Court is
CANON 10 - A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good directed to strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys
faith to the court. and to inform all courts of this Decision.

Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor SO ORDERED.


consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead
or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.

All of these underscore the role of the lawyer as the


vanguard of our legal system.1wphi1 When respondent
took the oath as a member of the legal profession, he
46
made a solemn promise to so stand by his pledge. In
this covenant, respondent miserably failed.

The testimonies of Nenita M. Aluad, Teresita V. Bauzon


and Concepcion Alcazar were all quite telling on how
respondent acted in a grossly reprehensible manner in
having the questioned decision dated January 30, 1995
come to fore, leading ultimately to its execution divesting
the complainant of her property. Respondent gravely
abused his relationship with his former staff, pompously
flaunting his erstwhile standing as a judge. Respondent
disregarded his primary duty as an officer of the court,
who is sworn to assist the courts and not to impede or
47
pervert the administration of justice to all and sundry.
In so doing, he made a mockery of the judiciary and
eroded public confidence in courts and lawyers.

This Court has been nothing short of exacting in its


demand for integrity and good moral character from
ADMIN. CASE No. 3637 January 24, 2001 preparation of the same. A copy of this Decision is
RURAL BANK OF SILAY, INC. Complainant, herewith attached as Annex "D".
vs.
ATTY. ERNESTO H. PILLA, Respondent. 7. That the respondent has not appealed from the
KAPUNAN, J.: aforesaid Decision thereby making the findings of fact
made therein final as against him.
Rural Bank of Silay. Inc. (complainant) filed with this
Court the instant complaint for disbarment against Atty. 8. That the foregoing acts of the respondent in
Ernesto H. Pilla (respondent) alleging deceit and gross presenting to the complainant Bank a forged and
misconduct on the part of the latter. The complaint falsified Power of Attorney for the purpose of obtaining a
alleges as follows: loan is a betrayal of his oath as a lawyer to do falsehood
to no man and by his conduct herein has forfeited his
1
1. That on July 23, 1975 the respondent executed a Real right to continue further in the practice of law .
Estate Mortgage in favor of the complainant over a
parcel of land located in the Municipality of Sagay, Upon the instance of the Court, respondent filed his
Negros Occidental, covered by Transfer Certificate of comment refuting the charges of deceit and gross
Title No. T - 55380, purportedly as Attorney-in-Fact of misconduct against him. Respondent denied employing
the registered owners thereof, Pedro N. Torres and any deceit or misrepresentation in obtaining a loan from
Oscar D. Granada. A copy of this Real Estate Mortgage complainant rural bank. According to respondent, he did
is herewith attached as - Annex "A". 1wphi1.nt not know that the signature of Oscar Granada on the
special power of attorney appointing him (respondent) as
2. That together with the aforesaid Real Estate Mortgage attorney-in-fact was forged. The special power of
the respondent submitted a Special Power of Attorney attorney purportedly authorized respondent to mortgage
by virtue of which he was purportedly authorized and the parcel of land in Sagay, Negros Occidental in favor
empowered by the registered owners Pedro Torres and of complainant rural bank. Respondent also claimed that
Oscar D. Granada to mortgage the aforesaid parcel of if indeed said document was forged, he was not a party
land in favor of the complainant. A copy of this Special to the forgery. He cited the findings of the trial court in
Power of Attorney is herewith attached as Annex "B". Civil Case No. 1-C, thus:

3. That on the security of, among others, the aforesaid Although there is no showing that Atty. Ernesto H. Pilla
parcel of land over which the respondent represented has actually falsified the signatures of the spouses, Atty.
that he is authorized to mortgage, complainant extended Oscar D. Granada, yet considering that he actually
and released a loan to the respondent in the amount of benefited from the said falsified documents, he is
P91,427.00. presumed to have a hand on the same. (Decision, p. 20-
2
annex "D".)
4. That complainant subsequently and much later
learned that the respondent was not at all authorized Respondent maintained that he obtained the loan from
and empowered by the registered owner Oscar D. complainant rural bank without depriving it of the
Granada to mortgage the aforesaid parcel of land when opportunity to investigate his financial capacity as well
it was joined as a defendant in a complaint filed by the as to ascertain the genuineness of the special power of
aforesaid Oscar D. Granada for removal of cloud on title attorney under which he acted as the mortgagor. Thus,
with preliminary injunction and damages. A copy of this respondent is of the view that, under the circumstances,
complaint is herewith attached as Annex "C". it cannot be said that he employed deceit and gross
misconduct against complainant rural bank.
5. That in the aforesaid complaint as well as in the
hearing conducted in connection therewith Oscar D. After receipt of respondent's comment, the Court
Granada specifically and categorically denied having referred the matter to the Integrated Bar of the
executed and signed the Special Power of Attorney, Philippines (IBP) for investigation. Both parties adduced
Annex B, submitted by the respondent to the their respective evidence before the Commission on Bar
complainant in support of his application for a loan. Discipline of the IBP. Upon agreement of the parties, the
matter was resolved on the basis of their respective
6. That the aforesaid civil case, Civil Case No. 1 of the pleadings and the annexes attached thereto. From these
Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental, Branch 60, pleadings, the IBP, through Commissioner Julio C.
was subsequently decided against the respondent Elamparo, established the following uncontroverted
wherein the aforesaid Court found that the Special facts:
Power of Attorney, Annex B, was indeed forged and
falsified because the spouses Oscar D. Granada and Purportedly acting as attorney-in-fact of a certain Pedro
Lolita L. Granada have not signed the same and wherein Torres and Oscar D. Granada, by virtue of a special
the Court also made the finding that the defendant, power of attorney, respondent applied for a loan and
considering that he has benefited from the said, falsified concomitantly executed a Real Estate Mortgage in favor
document, is presumed to have a hand in the of the complainant bank covering the property of Pedro
Torres and Oscar D. Granada. With such security, "Q Now, compaero, will you please relate to this
complainant extended to the respondent his loan in the Honorable Court the circumstances under which you
amount of P91,427.00. In view of the failure of the notarized this Special Power of Attorney now marked as
respondent to pay the loan, the mortgaged property was Exh. "A" on April 21, 1975?
foreclosed by the complainant bank. Later, Oscar
Granada, the real registered owner of the mortgaged "A Yes, sir. I remember that on that same day, April
property filed a complaint against the respondent and 21, 1975, defendant Atty. Ernesto H. Pilla personally
the complainant for the annulment of the Real Estate appeared before me and he brought along with him this
Mortgage and Special Power of Attorney. After the trial, Special Power of Attorney executed in his favor. He told
the court declared null and void the said Special Power me to notarize it. I asked him about the signature of Atty.
of Attorney as well as the Real Estate Mortgage for Oscar D. Granada if this is his signature and he said
being products of forgery. This decision was not "Yes". I also asked him about the signature of the other
appealed by the defendants. principal and he said also "yes". With that assurance and
being a brother lawyer I accommodated him. Knowing
There is no showing that respondent, despite the that he will not do anything that is illegal and I have
adverse decision, returned or offered to return the confidence in him considering that he is a lawyer and he
money he took from the complainant bank. The bank knows what he was doing, I accommodated him."
then instituted this disbarment proceeding against the
3
respondent. (TSN, Hearing March 15, 1993, pp. 22-23, Civil Case
No. 1, RTC, Branch LX, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental)
The IBP found from the above facts that respondent
violated his oath as a lawyer to do no falsehood, thus: If indeed, respondent is not responsible for the
falsification of the Special Power of Attorney, why did he
This office believes that the actuation of the respondent not explain before the trial court or before this office the
constitutes a betrayal of his oath as a lawyer. The circumstances on how he obtained the same. He did not
findings of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental even bother to identify his alleged client who provided
has persuasive effect in this proceeding. him the forged Special Power of Attorney. Instead,
respondent is banking on his defense that the
As found by the Regional Trial Court of Negros complainant bank has not introduced any evidence to
Occidental in its decision in Civil Case No. 1-C, entitled prove that he forged the Special Power of Attorney. He
"Spouses Oscar D. Granada and Lolita L. Granada vs. relied on the argument that his transaction with the
Ernesto H. Pilla, et al", the plaintiffs Granada spouses complainant bank was purely commercial business and
have not signed the questioned Special Power of did not involve his capacity as a lawyer. Further, if it is
Attorney in favor of the respondent and the said true that the respondent maintains the highest degree of
spouses' signatures as appearing in the Special Power morality and integrity as he asserted, why did he
of Attorney are not their true and genuine signatures for represent before the notary public that the signatures
actually they have not executed nor granted a Special appearing in the Special Power of Attorney were the
Power of Attorney in favor of herein respondent signatures of the real owners if he was not actually
authorizing him to mortgage the one-third (1/3) share of aware that the signatures were that of the real owners.
the said spouses in the mortgaged property. The trial
court stressed that: The office is convinced that the actuation of the
respondent is misrepresentation constituting gross
"...Although there is no showing that Atty. Ernesto H. misconduct at the very least. This is a violation of his
4
Pilla has actually falsified the signatures of the spouses, oath as a lawyer to do falsehood to no man.
Atty. Oscar D. Granada, yet considering that he actually
benefited from the said falsified documents, he is In conclusion, Commissioner Elamparo recommended
presumed to have a hand on the same. that respondent be suspended from the practice of law
for five (5) years. The IBP, through Resolution No. XIV-
00-175, dated 7 April 2000, of its Board of Governors,
substantially adopted and approved the report and
recommendation of Commissioner Elamparo but
Defendant Antonio Pura testified and in fact he admitted
that he notarized the said documents, Exhibit "A" and "B" modified the penalty. The IBP RESOLVED as follows:
with the assurance of Atty. Pilla that the signatures
appearing in the said documents were the signatures of ...to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED
Atty. Oscar D. Granada and of Pedro Torres, registered and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of
owners of the property in question." the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled
case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as
Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully
Antonio G. Pura, the notary public who notarized the
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable
questioned Special Power of Attorney in favor of the
laws and rules, said recommendation is with
respondent, testified in said Civil Case as follows:
modification that Respondent be SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for THREE (3) years for the courts in the Philippines, and spread on the personal
5
misrepresentation. record of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant,
Supreme Court of the Philippines.1wphi1.nt
We fully agree with the findings of the Investigating
Commissioner. SO ORDERED.

As correctly pointed out by the trial court in Civil Case


No. 1-C, since respondent actually benefited from the
falsified document, he is presumed to have a hand in the
falsification of the same. Respondent miserably failed to
rebut this presumption with his barefaced denial that he
had no knowledge of the forgery. The Court cannot give
credence to respondent's negative assertion that he did
not know that the special power of attorney issued in his
favor was falsified. As a lawyer, respondent knows or
ought to know that parties to a public document must
personally appear before the notary public to attest that
the same is their own free act and deed. In utter
disregard of this requirement, respondent caused the
special power of attorney to be notarized without the
parties appearing before the notary public. Thereafter,
respondent presented the same to complainant rural
bank in order to obtain a loan therefrom. It is thus
apparent that respondent had a hand in the falsification
of the document especially considering that it was he
who chiefly benefited from it. Indeed, "the settled rule is
that in he absence of satisfactory explanation, one found
in possession of and who used a forged document is the
6
forger and therefore guilty of falsification." Further, "if a
person had in his possession a falsified document and
he made use of it (uttered it), taking advantage of it and
profiting thereby, the clear presumption is that he is the
7
material author of the falsification."

Respondent's acts clearly fall short of the standards set


by the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly
Rule 1.01 thereof, which provides that "[a] lawyer shall
not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct." The fact that the conduct pertained to
respondent's private dealings with complainant rural
bank is of no moment. A lawyer may be suspended or
disbarred for ANY misconduct, even if it pertains to his
private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting
8
in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor.
Possession of good moral character is not only a good
condition precedent to the practice of law, but a
9
continuing qualification for all members of the bar.

Considering the foregoing, the recommendation of the


IBP that respondent be suspended from the practice of
law for a period of three (3) years is approved.

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby finds respondent Atty.


Ernesto H. Pilla guilty of misconduct. He is suspended
from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years
effective from receipt of this Resolution, with a warning
that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be
more severely dealt with.

Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished, upon its


finality, to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all
8
A.C. No. 8392 June 29, 2010 [ Formerly CBD Cebu; and certified machine copy of the Resolution of
Case No. 08-2175 ] the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Naval, Biliran
9
ROSARIO T. MECARAL, Complainant, and the Information lodged with the RTC-Branch 37-
vs. Caibiran, Naval, Biliran, for Serious Illegal Detention
ATTY. DANILO S. VELASQUEZ, Respondent. against respondent and Bernardita Tadeo on complaint
DECISION of herein complainant.
Per Curiam:
Despite respondents receipt of the February 22, 2008
10
Rosario T. Mecaral (complainant) charged Atty. Danilo Order of the Director for Bar Discipline for him to
S. Velasquez (respondent) before the Integrated Bar of submit his Answer within 15 days from receipt thereof,
the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline and his expressed intent to "properly make [his] defense
1 11
(CBD) with Gross Misconduct and Gross Immoral in a verified pleading," he did not file any
2
Conduct which she detailed in her Position Paper as Answer.1avvphi1
follows:
On the scheduled Mandatory Conference set on
After respondent hired her as his secretary in 2002, she September 2, 2008 of which the parties were duly
became his lover and common-law wife. In October notified, only complainants counsel was present.
2007, respondent brought her to the mountainous Upper Respondent and his counsel failed to appear.
San Agustin in Caibiran, Biliran where he left her with a
religious group known as the Faith Healers Association Investigating Commissioner Felimon C. Abelita III of the
of the Philippines, of which he was the leader. Although 12
CBD, in his Report and Recommendation dated
he visited her daily, his visits became scarce in September 29, 2008, found that:
November to December 2007, prompting her to return
home to Naval, Biliran. Furious, respondent brought her
[respondents] acts of converting his secretary into a
back to San Agustin where, on his instruction, his
mistress; contracting two marriages with Shirley and
followers tortured, brainwashed and injected her with Leny, are grossly immoral which no civilized society in
drugs. When she tried to escape on December 24, 2007, the world can countenance. The subsequent detention
the members of the group tied her spread-eagled to a
and torture of the complainant is gross misconduct
bed. Made to wear only a T-shirt and diapers and fed
[which] only a beast may be able to do. Certainly, the
stale food, she was guarded 24 hours a day by the
respondent had violated Canon 1 of the Code of
women members including a certain Bernardita Tadeo.
Professional Responsibility which reads:

Her mother, Delia Tambis Vda. De Mecaral (Delia),


CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey
having received information that she was weak, pale and
the laws of the land and promote respect for law and
walking barefoot along the streets in the mountainous
legal processes.
area of Caibiran, sought the help of the Provincial Social
Welfare Department which immediately dispatched two
women volunteers to rescue her. The religious group xxxx
refused to release her, however, without the instruction
of respondent. It took PO3 Delan G. Lee (PO3 Lee) and In the long line of cases, the Supreme Court has
PO1 Arnel S. Robedillo (PO1 Robedillo) to rescue and consistently imposed severe penalty for grossly immoral
reunite her with her mother. conduct of a lawyer like the case at bar. In the
celebrated case of Joselano Guevarra vs. Atty. Jose
Hence, the present disbarment complaint against Manuel Eala, the [Court] ordered the disbarment of the
respondent. Additionally, complainant charges respondent for maintaining extra-marital relations with a
respondent with bigamy for contracting a second married woman, and having a child with her. In the
marriage to Leny H. Azur on August 2, 1996, despite the instant case, not only did the respondent commit bigamy
subsistence of his marriage to his first wife, Ma. Shirley for contracting marriages with Shirley Yunzal in 1990
G. Yunzal. and Leny Azur in 1996, but the respondent also made
his secretary (complainant) his mistress and
subsequently, tortured her to the point of death. All these
In support of her charges, complainant submitted
3 circumstances showed the moral fiber respondent is
documents including the following: Affidavit of Delia made of, which [leave] the undersigned with no choice
dated February 5, 2008; Affidavit of PO3 Lee and PO1 but to recommend the disbarment of Atty. Danilo S.
4
Robedillo dated February 14, 2008; photocopy of the 13
5 Velasquez. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Certificate of Marriage between respondent and Leny H.
6
Azur; photocopy of the Marriage Contract between
respondent and Shirley G. Yunzal; National Statistics The IBP Board of Governors of Pasig City, by
14
7
Office Certification dated April 23, 2008 showing the Resolution dated December 11, 2008, ADOPTED the
marriage of Ma. Shirley G. Yunzal to respondent on April Investigating Commissioners findings and APPROVED
27, 1990 in Quezon City and the marriage of Leny H. the recommendation for the disbarment of respondent.
Azur to respondent on August 2, 1996 in Mandaue City,
As did the IBP Board of Governors, the Court finds the the allegations against Atty. Danilo Velasquez. Indeed, it
IBP Commissioners evaluation and recommendation is clear now that there was really physical restraint
well taken. employed by Atty. Velasquez upon the person of
Rosario Mecaral. Even as he claimed that on the day
The practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed private complainant was fetched by the two women and
by the state upon those who show that they possess, police officers, complainant was already freely roaming
and continue to possess, the qualifications required by around the place and thus, could not have been
15
law for the conferment of such privilege. When a physically detained. However, it is not really necessary
lawyers moral character is assailed, such that his right that Rosario be physically kept within an enclosure to
to continue restrict her freedom of locomotion. In fact, she was
always accompanied wherever she would wander, that it
could be impossible for her to escape especially
practicing his cherished profession is imperiled, it
considering the remoteness and the distance between
behooves him to meet the charges squarely and present
Upper San Agustin, Caibiran, Biliran to Naval, Biliran
evidence, to the satisfaction of the investigating body
where she is a resident. The people from the Faith
and this Court, that he is morally fit to keep his name in
16 Healers Association had the express and implied orders
the Roll of Attorneys.
coming from respondent Atty. Danilo Velasquez to keep
guarding Rosario Mecaral and not to let her go freely.
Respondent has not discharged the burden. He never That can be gleaned from the affidavit of co-respondent
attended the hearings before the IBP to rebut the Bernardita Tadeo. The latter being reprimanded
charges brought against him, suggesting that they are whenever Atty. Velasquez would learn that complainant
17
true. Despite his letter dated March 28, 2008 had untangled the cloth tied on her wrists and feet.
19
manifesting that he would come up with his defense "in a (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
verified pleading," he never did.
That, as reflected in the immediately-quoted Resolution
Aside then from the IBPs finding that respondent in the criminal complaint against respondent, his therein
violated Canon 1 of the Code of Professional co-respondent corroborated the testimonies of
Responsibility, he also violated the Lawyers Oath complainants witnesses, and that the allegations against
reading: him remain unrebutted, sufficiently prove the charges
against him by clearly preponderant evidence, the
I _________, having been permitted to continue in the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative case
20
practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly swear that against a lawyer.
I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the
Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey the In fine, by engaging himself in acts which are grossly
laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted immoral and acts which constitute gross misconduct,
authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to respondent has ceased to possess the qualifications of a
the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly lawyer.
21
promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit,
nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man
for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Danilo S. Velasquez, is
DISBARRED, and his name ORDERED STRICKEN
according to the best of my knowledge and discretion
from the Roll of Attorneys. This Decision is immediately
with all good fidelity as well as to the courts as to my
executory and ordered to be part of the records of
clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary
obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme
evasion. So help me God, (underscoring supplied), Court of the Philippines.

Let copies of the Decision be furnished the Integrated


and Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the same Code reading:
Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all courts.
Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall SO ORDERED.
he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.

18
The April 30, 2008 Resolution of the Provincial
Prosecutor on complainants charge against respondent
and Bernardita Tadeo for Serious Illegal Detention bears
special noting, viz:

[T]he counter-affidavit of x x x Bernardita C. Tadeo (co-


accused in the complaint) has the effect of strengthening
ADM. CASE No. 3319 June 8, 2000 a Chinese woman in Amoy, China, from whom he had
LESLIE UI, complainant, long been estranged. She stated that during one of their
vs. trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry
3
ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent. her and they in fact got married in Hawaii, USA in 1985 .
DE LEON, JR., J.: Upon their return to Manila, respondent did not live with
Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live with his children in
Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment their Greenhills residence because respondent and
against Atty. Iris Bonifacio for allegedly carrying on an Carlos Ui wanted to let the children gradually to know
immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, husband of and accept the fact of his second marriage before they
4
complainant, Leslie Ui. would live together.

The relevant facts are: In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in
Honolulu, Hawaii and she would only return occasionally
to the Philippines to update her law practice and renew
On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married
legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime in
Carlos L. Ui at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in
1 June 1988, she was confronted by a woman who
Quezon City and as a result of their marital union, they
insisted that she was the lawful wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt
had four (4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay
and desolate upon her discovery of the true civil status
and Carl Cavin, all surnamed Ui. Sometime in December
of Carlos Ui, respondent then left for Honolulu, Hawaii
1987, however, complainant found out that her husband.
sometime in July 1988 and returned only in March 1989
Carlos Ui, was carrying on an illicit relationship with
with her two (2) children. On March 20, 1989, a few days
respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot a 5
daughter sometime in 1986, and that they had been after she reported to work with the law firm she was
connected with, the woman who represented herself to
living together at No. 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala
be the wife of Carlos Ui again came to her office,
Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a
demanding to know if Carlos Ui has been
graduate of the College of Law of the University of the
communicating with her.
Philippines was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1982.

It is respondent's contention that her relationship with


Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with
Carlos Ui is not illicit because they were married abroad
the respondent. Complainant then visited respondent at
and that after June 1988, when respondent discovered
her office in the later part of June 1988 and introduced
Carlos Ui's true civil status, she cut off all her ties with
herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon,
him. Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never lived with
respondent admitted to her that she has a child with
her in Alabang, and that he resided at 26 Potsdam
Carlos Ui and alleged, however; that everything was
Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. It was
over between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant believed
respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which
the representations of respondent and thought things
belonged to her mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that
would turn out well from then on and that the illicit
the said house was built exclusively from her parents'
relationship between her husband and respondent would 6
come to an end. funds. By way of counterclaim, respondent sought
moral damages in the amount of Ten Million Pesos
(Php10,000,000.00) against complainant for having filed
However, complainant again discovered that the illicit the present allegedly malicious and groundless
relationship between her husband and respondent disbarment case against respondent.
continued, and that sometime in December 1988,
respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second 7
child. Complainant then met again with respondent In her Reply dated April 6, 1990, complainant states,
among others, that respondent knew perfectly well that
sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with respondent to
Carlos Ui was married to complainant and had children
discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui but to no
with her even at the start of her relationship with Carlos
avail. The illicit relationship persisted and complainant
Ui, and that the reason respondent went abroad was to
even came to know later on that respondent had been
give birth to her two (2) children with Carlos Ui.
employed by her husband in his company.

During the pendency of the proceedings before the


A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No.
Integrated Bar, complainant also charged her husband,
3319, was then filed on August 11, 1989 by the
Carlos Ui, and respondent with the crime of
complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio
Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of
before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the
Rizal, docketed as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same was
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter,
dismissed for insufficiency of evidence to establish
Commission) on the ground of immorality, more
probable cause for the offense charged. The resolution
particularly, for carrying on an illicit relationship with the
2 dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent
complainant's husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer,
respondent averred that she met Carlos Ui sometime in reads:
1983 and had known him all along to be a bachelor, with
the knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had children by Complainant's evidence had prima facie established the
existence of the "illicit relationship" between the Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of
respondents allegedly discovered by the complainant in marriage between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris
December 1987. The same evidence however show that Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and not October 22,
respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up 1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer.
to the latter part of 1988 and/or the early part of 1989. According to complainant, the reason for that false
allegation was because respondent wanted to impress
It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child by
12
"relationship" of respondents started and was discovered Carlos Ui was within the wedlock. It is the contention
by complainant sometime in 1987 when she and of complainant that such act constitutes a violation of
13 14
respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26 Potsdam Articles 183 and 184 of the Revised Penal Code,
Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila and also contempt of the Commission; and that the act
and they, admittedly, continued to live together at their of respondent in making false allegations in her Answer
conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 or later and submitting an altered/intercalated document are
1988, when respondent Carlos left the same. indicative of her moral perversity and lack of integrity
which make her unworthy to be a member of the
Philippine Bar.
From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that
altho (sic) the relationship, illicit as complainant puts it,
had been prima facie established by complainant's In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in
15
evidence, this same evidence had failed to even prima Contempt), respondent averred that she did not have
facie establish the "fact of respondent's cohabitation in the original copy of the marriage certificate because the
the concept of husband and wife at the 527 San Carlos same was in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she
St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of which is necessary annexed such copy because she relied in good faith on
and indispensable to at least create probable cause for what appeared on the copy of the marriage certificate in
the offense charged. The statement alone of her possession.
complainant, worse, a statement only of a conclusion
16
respecting the fact of cohabitation does not make the Respondent filed her Memorandum on February 22,
complainant's evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. 1995 and raised the lone issue of whether or not she has
vs. Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178). conducted herself in an immoral manner for which she
deserves to be barred from the practice of law.
It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by Respondent averred that the complaint should be
respondents in support of their respective positions on dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely:
the matter support and bolster the foregoing
conclusion/recommendation. (i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent
with the requirement of good moral character for the
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that practice of the legal profession; and
the instant complaint be dismissed for want of evidence
to establish probable cause for the offense charged. (ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that
respondent conducted herself in an immoral manner.
8
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.
In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that
Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the it was she who was the victim in this case and not Leslie
Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to the Secretary of Justice, but Ui because she did not know that Carlos Ui was already
9
the same was dismissed on the ground of insufficiency married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent
of evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and immediately cut-off all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated
Carlos Ui lived together as husband and wife at 527 San that there was no reason for her to doubt at that time
Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. that the civil status of Carlos Ui was that of a bachelor
because he spent so much time with her, and he was so
18
open in his courtship.
In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline, complainant filed a Motion to Cite
10
Respondent in Contempt of the Commission wherein On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate,
she charged respondent with making false allegations in respondent alleged that it was highly incredible for her to
her Answer and for submitting a supporting document have knowingly attached such marriage certificate to her
which was altered and intercalated. She alleged that in Answer had she known that the same was altered.
the Answer of respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, Respondent reiterated that there was no compelling
respondent averred, among others, that she was married reason for her to make it appear that her marriage to
to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987, because the
Certificate of Marriage to substantiate her averment. fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got married
11
However, the Certificate of Marriage duly certified by before complainant confronted respondent and informed
the State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the latter of her earlier marriage to Carlos Ui in June
the Hawaii State Department of Health, and duly 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui
authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in who testified and admitted that he was the person
responsible for changing the date of the marriage Recommendation, finding that:
certificate from 1987 to 1985, and complainant did not
present evidence to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time
this matter. respondent was courted by Carlos Ui, the latter
represented himself to be single. The Commission does
Respondent posits that complainant's evidence, not find said claim too difficult to believe in the light of
consisting of the pictures of respondent with a child, contemporary human experience.
pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a
garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Almost always, when a married man courts a single
Plate No. PNS 313, a picture of the same car, and woman, he represents himself to be single, separated, or
portion of the house and ground, and another picture of without any firm commitment to another woman. The
the same car bearing Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture reason therefor is not hard to fathom. By their very
19
of the house and the garage, does not prove that she nature, single women prefer single men.
acted in an immoral manner. They have no evidentiary
value according to her. The pictures were taken by a
The records will show that when respondent became
photographer from a private security agency and who
aware the (sic) true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left for
was not presented during the hearings. Further, the
the United States (in July of 1988). She broke off all
respondent presented the Resolution of the Provincial
contacts with him. When she returned to the Philippines
Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the
in March of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty.
complaint filed by Leslie Ui against respondent for lack
Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and respondent only
of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense
20 talked to each other because of the children whom he
charged and the dismissal of the appeal by the was allowed to visit. At no time did they live together.
21
Department of Justice to bolster her argument that she
was not guilty of any immoral or illegal act because of
her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, respondent Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission
claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui in fails to find any act on the part of respondent that can be
good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as considered as unprincipled or disgraceful as to be
willful, flagrant, or shameless, nor can it suggest moral reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she was
indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Ui whom she more of a victim that (sic) anything else and should
believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his deserve compassion rather than condemnation. Without
true civil status, she parted ways with him. cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of having a
normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by
22 every single girl.
In the Memorandum filed on March 20, 1995 by
complainant Leslie Ui, she prayed for the disbarment of
Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent xxx xxx xxx
committed immorality by having intimate relations with a
married man which resulted in the birth of two (2) Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar
children. Complainant testified that respondent's mother, of the Philippines issued a Notice of Resolution dated
Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and December 13, 1997, the dispositive portion of which
her husband since the late 1970s because they were reads as follows:
clients of the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch
23
Manager. It was thus highly improbable that RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
respondent, who was living with her parents as of 1986, ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
would not have been informed by her own mother that Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in
Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant likewise the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
averred that respondent committed disrespect towards Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the
the Commission for submitting a photocopy of a recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
document containing an intercalated date. record and the applicable laws and rules, the complaint
for Gross Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED
24
In her Reply to Complainant's Memorandum , for lack of merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED
respondent stated that complainant miserably failed to for knowingly and willfully attaching to her Answer a
show sufficient proof to warrant her disbarment. falsified Certificate of Marriage with a stern warning that
Respondent insists that contrary to the allegations of a repetition of the same will merit a more severe penalty.
complainant, there is no showing that respondent had
knowledge of the fact of marriage of Carlos Ui to We agree with the findings aforequoted.
complainant. The allegation that her mother knew Carlos
Ui to be a married man does not prove that such The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does
information was made known to respondent. not have the right to enjoy the practice of the legal
profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is
Hearing on the case ensued, after which the a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate
Commission on Bar Discipline submitted its Report and of due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the
dictates of legal ethics. The requisites for admission to Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of
the practice of law are: the actuations of respondent are not only far from
simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the
a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines; standard norms of our legal practitioners should be
defined. Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is a
far cry from what it used to be before. This
b. a resident thereof;
permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of
public faith, are burdened with a higher degree of social
c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age; responsibility and thus must handle their personal affairs
with greater caution. The facts of this case lead us to
d. a person of good moral character; believe that perhaps respondent would not have found
herself in such a compromising situation had she
e. he must show that no charges against him involving exercised prudence and been more vigilant in finding out
moral turpitude, are filed or pending in court; more about Carlos Ui's personal background prior to her
intimate involvement with him.
f. possess the required educational qualifications; and
Surely, circumstances existed which should have at
g. pass the bar examinations.
25
(Emphasis supplied) least aroused respondent's suspicion that something
was amiss in her relationship with Carlos Ui, and moved
her to ask probing questions. For instance, respondent
Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions
admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with
prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must
a woman from Amoy, China, yet it appeared that she
possess good moral character. More importantly,
never exerted the slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui
possession of good moral character must be continuous
and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also, despite
as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law
their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with
practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the
respondent and their first child, a circumstance that is
revocation of such privilege. It has been held
simply incomprehensible considering respondent's
allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her.
If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission
to the bar, then the continued possession of good moral
All these taken together leads to the inescapable
character is also a requisite for retaining membership in
conclusion that respondent was imprudent in managing
the legal profession. Membership in the bar may be
her personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her
terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral
relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what
character. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).
respondent believed was a valid marriage, cannot be
considered immoral. For immorality connotes conduct
A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, that shows indifference to the moral norms of society
or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral and the opinion of good and respectable members of the
turpitude". A member of the bar should have moral community.
27
Moreover, for such conduct to warrant
integrity in addition to professional probity. disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly immoral,"
that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to
28
standard as to what is "grossly immoral conduct" or to a high degree.
specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render
a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of
The rule implies that what appears to be unconventional the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous
behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral relationships . . . but must also so behave himself as to
conduct that warrants disbarment. avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that
29
he is flouting those moral standards." Respondent's
Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct act of immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui
which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows upon discovering his true civil status belies just that
a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no
respectable members of the community." (7 C.J.S. 959). intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard
26
of the legal profession. Complainant's bare assertions to
the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the burden of
In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will
Bonifacio that when she met Carlos Ui, she knew and exercise its disciplinary powers only if she establishes
believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love with her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence.
30
him and they got married and as a result of such This, herein complainant miserably failed to do.
marriage, she gave birth to two (2) children. Upon her
knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage
him. attached by respondent to her Answer, we find
improbable to believe the averment of respondent that
she merely relied on the photocopy of the Marriage
Certificate which was provided her by Carlos Ui. For an
event as significant as a marriage ceremony, any normal
bride would verily recall the date and year of her
marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a
lawyer as in the case at bar, can forget the year when
she got married. Simply stated, it is contrary to human
experience and highly improbable.

Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the


information contained in an attachment to her pleading,
especially so when she has personal knowledge of the
facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching
such Marriage Certificate with an intercalated date, the
defense of good faith of respondent on that point cannot
stand.

It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly


to the highest standards of morality.1avvphi1 The legal
profession exacts from its members nothing less.
Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the
Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of
malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the
court demand no less than the highest degree of
morality.

WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against


respondent Atty. Iris L. Bonifacio, for alleged immorality,
is hereby DISMISSED.

However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for


attaching to her Answer a photocopy of her Marriage
Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date thereof,
with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction
will be imposed on her for any repetition of the same or
similar offense in the future.

SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 7204 March 7, 2007 advantage of the situation.
CYNTHIA ADVINCULA, Complainant, at 6:17:59 pm
vs. Follow-up message - wrong to kiss a girl especially in the lips if
ATTY. ERNESTO M. MACABATA, Respondent. you dont have relationship with her.
RESOLUTION Sent by
complainant
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
At 6:29:30 pm
1
Before Us is a complaint for disbarment filed by Cynthia Replied by - "Im veri sri. Its not tking advantage of the
respondent situation, 2 put it rightly it s an expression of
Advincula against respondent Atty. Ernesto M.
feeling. S sri" (Im very sorry. Its not taking
Macabata, charging the latter with Gross Immorality. advantage of the situation, to put it rightly it is
At 6:32:43 pm
an expression of feeling)
Complainant alleged the following: Follow up message - Im s sri. Il not do it again. Wil u stil c me s I
can show u my sincerity" (Im so sorry. Ill not
by respondent do it again. Will you still see me so I can
Sometime on 1st week of December 2004 complainant show you my sincerity)
[Cynthia Advincula] seek the legal advice of the
respondent [Atty. Macabata], regarding her collectibles at 6:42:25 pm
from Queensway Travel and Tours. As promised, he
sent Demand Letter dated December 11, 2004 (copy On the following day, March 7, 2005 respondent sent
attached as Annex "I") to the concerned parties. another message to complainant at 3:55:32 pm saying "I
dont know wat 2 do s u may 4give me. "Im realy sri.
On February 10, 2005, met (sic) at Zensho Restaurant in Puede bati na tyo." (I dont know what to do so you may
Tomas Morato, Quezon City to discuss the possibility of forgive me. Im really sorry. Puede bati na tayo).
filing the complaint against Queensway Travel and Tours
because they did not settle their accounts as demanded. Respondent replied "talk to my lawyer in due time." Then
After the dinner, respondent sent complainant home and another message was received by her at 4:06:33 pm
while she is about to step out of the car, respondent hold saying "Ano k ba. Im really sri. Pls. Nxt ime bhave n
(sic) her arm and kissed her on the cheek and embraced me." (Ano ka ba. Im really sorry. Please next time
her very tightly. behave na ko), which is a clear manifestation of
2
admission of guilt.
Again, on March 6, 2005, at about past 10:00 in the
3
morning, she met respondent at Starbucks coffee shop In his answer, respondent admitted that he agreed to
in West Avenue, Quezon City to finalize the draft of the provide legal services to the complainant; that he met
complaint to be filed in Court. After the meeting, with complainant on 10 February 2005 and 6 March
respondent offered again a ride, which he usually did 2005, to discuss the relevant matters relative to the case
every time they met. Along the way, complainant was which complainant was intending to file against the
wandering (sic) why she felt so sleepy where in fact she owners of Queensway Travel and Tours for collection of
just got up from bed a few hours ago. At along Roosevelt a sum of money; that on both occasions, complainant
Avenue immediately after corner of Felipe St., in San rode with him in his car where he held and kissed
Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City when she was almost complainant on the lips as the former offered her lips to
restless respondent stopped his car and forcefully hold him; and, that the corner of Cooper Street and Roosevelt
(sic) her face and kissed her lips while the other hand Avenue, where he dropped off the complainant, was a
was holding her breast. Complainant even in a state of busy street teeming with people, thus, it would have
shocked (sic) succeeded in resisting his criminal attempt been impossible to commit the acts imputed to him.
and immediately manage (sic) to go (sic) out of the car.
By way of defense, respondent further elucidated that: 1)
In the late afternoon, complainant sent a text message to there was a criminal case for Acts of Lasciviousness
respondent informing him that she decided to refer the filed by complainant against respondent pending before
case with another lawyer and needs (sic) to get back the the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City; 2) the
case folder from him. The communications transpired legal name of complainant is Cynthia Advincula Toriana
was recorded in her cellular phone and read as follows: since she remains married to a certain Jinky Toriana
Sent by - forget the case. I decided to refer it with because the civil case for the nullification of their
complainant other lawyer marriage was archived pursuant to the Order dated 6
December 2000 issued by the Regional Trial Court of
At 5:33:46 pm Maburao, Occidental Mindoro; 3) the complainant was
replied by - "does this mean I can not c u anymore" living with a man not her husband; and 4) the
respondent
complainant never bothered to discuss respondents
(Does this mean I cannot see you fees and it was respondent who always paid for their
at 6:16:11 pm bills every time they met and ate at a restaurant.
anymore)
sent by complainant - I feel bad. I cant expect that u will take
A hearing was conducted by the Commission on Bar he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
at the IBP Building, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, on 26 profession.
July 2005.
As may be gleaned from above, the Code of
On 30 September 2005, Investigating Commissioner Professional Responsibility forbids lawyers from
Dennis A. B. Funa submitted his Report and engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
4
Recommendation, recommending the imposition of the conduct.
penalty of one (1) month suspension on respondent for
violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Lawyers have been repeatedly reminded that their
possession of good moral character is a continuing
Thereafter, the IBP passed Resolution No. XVII-2006- condition to preserve their membership in the Bar in
117 dated 20 March 2006, approving and adopting, with good standing. The continued possession of good moral
modification, the recommendation of the Investigating character is a requisite condition for remaining in the
6 7
Commissioner, thus: practice of law. In Aldovino v. Pujalte, Jr., we
emphasized that:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the This Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating and good moral character of members of the Bar. They
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made are expected at all times to uphold the integrity and
part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on omission which might lessen the trust and confidence
record and the applicable laws and rules, and reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and
considering the behavior of Respondent went beyond integrity of the legal profession. Membership in the legal
the norms of conduct required of a lawyer when dealing profession is a privilege. And whenever it is made to
with or relating with a client, Atty. Ernesto A. Macabata is appear that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) and confidence of the public, it becomes not only the
5
months. right but also the duty of this Court, which made him one
of its officers and gave him the privilege of ministering
The issue to be resolved in this case is: whether within its Bar, to withdraw the privilege.
respondent committed acts that are grossly immoral or
which constitute serious moral depravity that would It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly
warrant his disbarment or suspension from the practice to the highest standards of morality. The legal profession
of law. exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are
called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free
Simple as the facts of the case may be, the manner by from misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice.
which we deal with respondents actuations shall have a Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand
8
rippling effect on how the standard norms of our legal no less than the highest degree of morality. We
9
practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our explained in Barrientos v. Daarol that, "as officers of the
liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be. court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral
This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as character but must also be seen to be of good moral
keepers of public faith, are burdened with a high degree character and leading lives in accordance with the
of social responsibility and, hence, must handle their highest moral standards of the community."
personal affairs with greater caution.
Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality,
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: not only upon admission to the Bar but also throughout
their legal career, in order to maintain their good
standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity. They
CANON I x x x
may be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred
for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private
Rule 1.01-- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. character, honesty, probity or good demeanor.
10

CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the 11


In Bar Matter No. 1154, good moral character was
integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support defined as what a person really is, as distinguished from
the activities of the Integrated Bar. good reputation, or from the opinion generally
entertained of him, or the estimate in which he is held by
xxxx the public in the place where he is known. Moral
character is not a subjective term but one which
Rule 7.03-- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that corresponds to objective reality.
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall
It should be noted that the requirement of good moral night. She went down the car, thats it.
character has four ostensible purposes, namely: (1) to
protect the public; (2) to protect the public image of COMM. FUNA:
lawyers; (3) to protect prospective clients; and (4) to
12
protect errant lawyers from themselves.
February 10 iyan.

In the case at bar, respondent admitted kissing xxxx


complainant on the lips.

13 ATTY. MACABATA:
In his Answer, respondent confessed, thus:
Okay. After that were through so I said lets go because I
27. When she was about to get off the car, I said can I have an appointment. So we went out, we went inside
kiss you goodnight. She offered her left cheek and I
my car and I said where to? Same place, she said, so
kissed it and with my left hand slightly pulled her right
then at the same corner. So before she went down ,
face towards me and kissed her gently on the lips. We
before she opened the door of the car, I saw her offered
said goodnight and she got off the car.
her left cheek. So I kissed her again.

xxxx
COMM. FUNA:

35. When I stopped my car I said okay. I saw her offered


Pardon?
(sic) her left cheek and I lightly kissed it and with my
right hand slightly pulled her right cheek towards me and
plant (sic) a light kiss on her lips. There was no force ATTY. MACABATA:
used. No intimidation made, no lewd designs displayed.
No breast holding was done. Everything happened very I saw her offered her left cheek like that, so I kissed her
spontaneously with no reaction from her except saying again and then with the use of my left hand, pushed a
"sexual harassment." little bit her face and then kissed her again softly on the
14
lips and thats it. x x x. (Emphases supplied.)
During the hearing held on 26 July 2005 at the 3rd floor,
IBP Building, Dona Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas City, It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible
respondent candidly recalled the following events: standard as to what is "grossly immoral conduct" or to
specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render
ATTY. MACABATA: a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar.
The rule implies that what appears to be unconventional
behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral
That time in February, we met I fetched her I should conduct that warrants disbarment.
15
say, somewhere along the corner of Edsa and Kamuning
because it was then raining so we are texting each 16
other. So I parked my car somewhere along the corner In Zaguirre v. Castillo, we reiterated the definition of
of Edsa and Kamuning and I was there about ten to immoral conduct, as such conduct which is so willful,
fifteen minutes then she arrived. And so I said she flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the
opened my car and then she went inside so I said, would opinion of good and respectable members of the
you like that we have a Japanese dinner? And she said community. Furthermore, for such conduct to warrant
yes, okay. So I brought her to Zensho which is along disciplinary action, the same must not simply be
Tomas Morato. When we were there, we discussed immoral, but grossly immoral. It must be so corrupt as to
about her case, we ordered food and then a little while I constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be
told her, would it be okay for you of I (sic) order wine? reprehensible to a high degree or committed under such
She said yes so I ordered two glasses of red wine. After scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the
that, after discussing matters about her case, so I said common sense of decency.
its about 9:00 or beyond that time already, so I said
okay, lets go. So when I said lets go so I stood up and The following cases were considered by this Court as
then I went to the car. I went ahead of my car and she constitutive of grossly immoral conduct:
followed me then she rode on (sic) it. So I told her where
17
to? She told me just drop me at the same place where In Toledo v. Toledo, a lawyer was disbarred from the
you have been dropping me for the last meetings that we practice of law, when he abandoned his lawful wife and
had and that was at the corner of Morato and Roosevelt cohabited with another woman who had borne him a
Avenue. So, before she went down, I told her can I kiss child.
you goodnight? She offered her left cheek and I kissed it
and with the slight use of my right hand, I ... should I say 18
In Obusan v. Obusan, Jr., a lawyer was disbarred after
tilted her face towards me and when shes already facing complainant proved that he had abandoned her and
me I lightly kissed her on the lips. And then I said good maintained an adulterous relationship with a married
woman. This court declared that respondent failed to disbarred from the practice of law.
maintain the highest degree of morality expected and
required of a member of the bar. Immorality has not been confined to sexual matters, but
includes conduct inconsistent with rectitude, or indicative
19
In Dantes v. Dantes, respondents act of engaging in of corruption, indecency, depravity and dissoluteness; or
illicit relationships with two different women during the is willful, flagrant, or shameless conduct showing moral
subsistence of his marriage to the complainant indifference to opinions of respectable members of the
constitutes grossly immoral conduct warranting the community, and an inconsiderate attitude toward good
26
imposition of appropriate sanctions. Complainants order and public welfare.
testimony, taken in conjunction with the documentary
evidence, sufficiently established that respondent Guided by the definitions above, we perceived acts of
breached the high and exacting moral standards set for kissing or beso-beso on the cheeks as mere gestures of
members of the law profession. 27
friendship and camaraderie, forms of greetings, casual
and customary. The acts of respondent, though, in
20
In Delos Reyes v. Aznar, it was ruled that it was highly turning the head of complainant towards him and kissing
immoral of respondent, a married man with children, to her on the lips are distasteful. However, such act, even if
have taken advantage of his position as chairman of the considered offensive and undesirable, cannot be
college of medicine in asking complainant, a student in considered grossly immoral.
said college, to go with him to Manila where he had
carnal knowledge of her under the threat that she would Complainants bare allegation that respondent made use
flank in all her subjects in case she refused. and took advantage of his position as a lawyer to lure
her to agree to have sexual relations with him, deserves
21
In Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma, respondent lawyer was no credit. The burden of proof rests on the complainant,
disbarred when he abandoned his lawful wife and three and she must establish the case against the respondent
28
children, lured an innocent woman into marrying him and by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof, disclosing a
misrepresented himself as a "bachelor" so he could case that is free from doubt as to compel the exercise by
29
contract marriage in a foreign land. the Court of its disciplinary power. Thus, the adage that
30
"he who asserts not he who denies, must prove." As a
22
In Macarrubo v. Macarrubo, respondent entered into basic rule in evidence, the burden of proof lies on the
multiple marriages and then resorted to legal remedies party who makes the allegationsei incumbit probation,
to sever them. There, we ruled that "[s]uch pattern of qui decit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam factum
31
misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions of negantis probation nulla sit. In the case at bar,
marriage and family, institutions that this society looks to complainant miserably failed to comply with the burden
for the rearing of our children, for the development of of proof required of her. A mere charge or allegation of
values essential to the survival and well-being of our wrongdoing does not suffice. Accusation is not
32
communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as synonymous with guilt.
a whole." As such, "there can be no other fate that
awaits respondent than to be disbarred." Moreover, while respondent admitted having kissed
complainant on the lips, the same was not motivated by
23
In Tucay v. Tucay, respondent contracted marriage malice. We come to this conclusion because right after
with another married woman and left complainant with the complainant expressed her annoyance at being
whom he has been married for thirty years. We ruled kissed by the respondent through a cellular phone text
that such acts constitute "a grossly immoral conduct and message, respondent immediately extended an apology
only indicative of an extremely low regard for the to complainant also via cellular phone text message. The
fundamental ethics of his profession," warranting exchange of text messages between complainant and
respondents disbarment. respondent bears this out.

24
In Villasanta v. Peralta, respondent married Be it noted also that the incident happened in a place
complainant while his first wife was still alive, their where there were several people in the vicinity
marriage still valid and subsisting. We held that "the act considering that Roosevelt Avenue is a major jeepney
of respondent of contracting the second marriage is route for 24 hours. If respondent truly had malicious
contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality." designs on complainant, he could have brought her to a
Thus, lacking the good moral character required by the private place or a more remote place where he could
Rules of Court, respondent was disqualified from being freely accomplish the same.
admitted to the bar.
All told, as shown by the above circumstances,
25
In Cabrera v. Agustin, respondent lured an innocent respondents acts are not grossly immoral nor highly
woman into a simulated marriage and thereafter satisfied reprehensible to warrant disbarment or suspension.
his lust. We held that respondent failed to maintain that
degree of morality and integrity which, at all times, is The question as to what disciplinary sanction should be
expected of members of the bar. He is, therefore, imposed against a lawyer found guilty of misconduct
33
requires consideration of a number of factors. When WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against
deciding upon the appropriate sanction, the Court must respondent Atty. Ernesto Macabata, for alleged
consider that the primary purposes of disciplinary immorality, is hereby DISMISSED. However, respondent
proceedings are to protect the public; to foster public is hereby REPRIMANDED to be more prudent and
confidence in the Bar; to preserve the integrity of the cautious in his dealing with his clients with a STERN
profession; and to deter other lawyers from similar WARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed
34
misconduct. Disciplinary proceedings are means of on him for any repetition of the same or similar offense in
protecting the administration of justice by requiring those the future.
who carry out this important function to be competent,
honorable and reliable men in whom courts and clients SO ORDERED.
35
may repose confidence. While it is discretionary upon
the Court to impose a particular sanction that it may
deem proper against an erring lawyer, it should neither
be arbitrary and despotic nor motivated by personal
animosity or prejudice, but should ever be controlled by
the imperative need to scrupulously guard the purity and
independence of the bar and to exact from the lawyer
strict compliance with his duties to the court, to his client,
to his brethren in the profession and to the public.

The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be


exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive
principle, with great caution and only for the most
weighty reasons and only on clear cases of misconduct
which seriously affect the standing and character of the
lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the Bar.
Only those acts which cause loss of moral character
should merit disbarment or suspension, while those acts
which neither affect nor erode the moral character of the
lawyer should only justify a lesser sanction unless they
are of such nature and to such extent as to clearly show
the lawyers unfitness to continue in the practice of law.
The dubious character of the act charged as well as the
motivation which induced the lawyer to commit it must
be clearly demonstrated before suspension or
disbarment is meted out. The mitigating or aggravating
circumstances that attended the commission of the
36
offense should also be considered.

Censure or reprimand is usually meted out for an


isolated act of misconduct of a lesser nature. It is also
imposed for some minor infraction of the lawyers duty to
37 38
the court or the client. In the Matter of Darell Adams,
a lawyer was publicly reprimanded for grabbing a female
client, kissing her, and raising her blouse which
constituted illegal conduct involving moral turpitude and
conduct which adversely reflected on his fitness to
practice law.

Based on the circumstances of the case as discussed


and considering that this is respondents first offense,
reprimand would suffice.

We laud complainants effort to seek redress for what


she honestly believed to be an affront to her honor.
Surely, it was difficult and agonizing on her part to come
out in the open and accuse her lawyer of gross immoral
conduct. However, her own assessment of the incidents
is highly subjective and partial, and surely needs to be
corroborated or supported by more objective evidence.
A.C. No. 5916 July 1, 2003 for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid
SELWYN F. LAO, complainant, agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice;
vs.
ATTY. ROBERT W. MEDEL, respondent. "(a.1). Applying the afore-cited legal provision to the
PANGANIBAN, J.: facts obtaining in the present case, it is clear that the
offense with which the respondent is being charged by
The deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance the complainant, is merely a violation of Batas
of worthless checks constitute gross misconduct, for Pambansa Bilang 22 (B.P. 22, for brevity), which is a
which a lawyer may be sanctioned with one-year special law, and is not punishable under the Revised
suspension from the practice of law. Penal Code (RPC, for brevity). It is self-evident
therefore, that the offense is not in the same category as
The Case and the Facts a violation of Article 315, paragraph 2, (d), RPC, which is
issuing a post-dated check or a check in payment of an
obligation, with insufficient funds in the drawee bank,
This administrative case stems from a Complaint-
1 through false pretenses or fraudulent acts, executed
Affidavit filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-
prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the
Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) by Selwyn F.
fraud, which is a crime involving moral turpitude;
Lao. Atty. Robert W. Medel was charged therein with
dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming
an attorney. "(b). If the respondent is to be disciplined by the
Supreme Court, under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules,
for the issuance of a worthless check, in violation of B.P.
The material averments of the Complaint are
22, for payment of a pre-existing obligation to the
summarized by the IBP-CBD in this wise:
complainant, then, verily, the said Rule 138, Sec. 27,
would be a cruel and an unjust law, which the Honorable
"The Complaint arose from the [respondents] persistent Supreme Court would not countenance;
refusal to make good on four (4) RCBC checks totaling
[t]wenty [t]wo [t]housand (P22,000.00) [p]esos. These
dishonored checks were issued by defendant in "(c). A careful examination of the specific grounds
enumerated, for disbarment or suspension of a member
replacement for previous checks issued to the
of the Bar, under Sec. 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules,
complainant. Based on the exchange of letters between
clearly shows beyond a shadow of doubt that the alleged
the parties, it appears that [respondent], in a letter dated
June 19, 2001, had committed to forthwith effect issuance of a worthless check, in violation of B.P. 22, is
immediate settlement of my outstanding obligation of NOT one of the grounds for disciplinary action against a
member of the Bar, to warrant his disbarment or
P22,000.00 with Engr. Lao, at the earliest possible time,
suspension from his office as attorney, by the Supreme
preferably, on or before the end of June 2000. Again, in
Court; and
a letter dated July 3, 2000, the [respondent] made a
request for a final extension of only ten (10) days from
June 30, 2000 (or not later than July 10, 2000), within "(d). The issuance of a worthless check by a member of
which to effect payment of P22,000.00 to Engr. Lao. the Bar, in violation of B.P. 22, does NOT constitute
Needless to say, the initiation of this present complaint dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct, under Canon 1
proves that contrary to his written promises, Atty. Medel and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
never made good on his dishonored checks. Neither has Responsibility. This is because, the door to the law
he paid his indebtedness."
2 profession swings on reluctant hinges. Stated otherwise,
unless there is a clear, palpable and unmitigated
3 immoral or deceitful conduct, of a member of the Bar, in
In his Answer dated July 30, 2001, Atty. Medel reasons
violation of his oath as an attorney, by the mere
that because all of his proposals to settle his obligation
issuance of a worthless check, in violation of B.P. 22, the
were rejected, he was unable to comply with his promise
Supreme Court is inclined to give the said attorney, the
to pay complainant. Respondent maintains that the 4
Complaint did not constitute a valid ground for benefit of the doubt."
disciplinary action because of the following: 5
On August 22, 2001, complainant submitted his Reply.
Thereafter, IBP-CBD Commissioner Renato G.
"(a). Under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules, a member of
the Bar, may be disbarred or suspended from his office Cunanan, to whom the case was assigned by the IBP for
as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, investigation and report, scheduled the case for hearing
on October 4, 2001. After several cancellations, the
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office,
parties finally met on May 29, 2002. In that hearing,
grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction
respondent acknowledged his obligation and committed
of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation
himself to pay a total of P42,000 (P22,000 for his
of the oath which he is required to take before admission
principal debt and P20,000 for attorneys fees).
to practice, or for a wil[l]ful disobedience of any lawful
Complainant agreed to give him until July 4, 2002 to
order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wil[l]fully
settle the principal debt and to discuss the plan of
appearing as an attorney for a party to case without
payment for attorneys fees in the next hearing.
authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law
On July 4, 2002, both parties appeared before the IBP- act constitutes neither a violation of the Code of
CBD for their scheduled hearing. But, while waiting for Professional Responsibility; nor dishonest, immoral or
the case to be called, respondent suddenly insisted on deceitful conduct.
leaving, supposedly to attend to a family emergency.
Complainants counsel objected and Commissioner The defense proffered by respondent is untenable. It is
Cunanan, who was still conducting a hearing in another evident from the records that he made several promises
case, ordered him to wait. He, however, retorted in a to pay his debt promptly. However, he reneged on his
loud voice, "Its up to you, this is only disbarment, my obligation despite sufficient time afforded him. Worse, he
6
family is more important." And, despite the objection refused to recognize any wrongdoing and transferred the
and the warning, he arrogantly left. He made no effort to blame to complainant, on the contorted reasoning that
comply with his undertaking to settle his indebtedness the latter had refused to accept the formers plan of
before leaving. payment. It must be pointed out that complainant had no
obligation to accept it, considering respondents previous
Report and Recommendation of the IBP failure to comply with earlier payment plans for the same
debt.
7
In his September 19, 2002 Report, Commissioner
Cunanan found respondent guilty of violating the Moreover, before the IBP-CBD, respondent had
attorneys oath and the Code of Professional voluntarily committed himself to the payment of his
Responsibility. The former explained that, contrary to the debts, yet failed again to fulfill his promise. That he had
latters claim, violation of BP 22 was a crime that no real intention to settle them is evident from his
involved moral turpitude. Further, he observed that unremitting failed commitments. His cavalier attitude in
[w]hile no criminal case may have been instituted incurring debts without any intention of paying for them
against [respondent], it is beyond cavil that indeed, [the puts his moral character in serious doubt.
latter] committed not one (1) but four counts of violation
8
of BP 22." The "refusal [by respondent] to pay his Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their
indebtedness, his broken promises, his arrogant attitude duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to their
towards complainants counsel and the [commission clients. As part of those duties, they must promptly pay
sufficiently] warrant the imposition of sanctions against their financial obligations. Their conduct must always
9
him." Thus, the investigating commissioner reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as
recommended that respondent be suspended from the embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. On
practice of law. these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend
lawyers for any professional or private misconduct
10
In Resolution No. XV-2002-598, the Board of showing them to be wanting in moral character, honesty,
Governors of the IBP adopted the Report and probity and good demeanor -- or to be unworthy to
12
Recommendation of Commissioner Cunanan and continue as officers of the Court.
resolved to suspend respondent from the practice of law
for two years. The Resolution, together with the records It is equally disturbing that respondent remorselessly
of the case, was transmitted to this Court for final action, issued a series of worthless checks, unmindful of the
pursuant to Rule 139-B Sec. 12(b). deleterious effects of such act to public interest and
13
public order.
The Courts Ruling
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
We agree with the findings and recommendation of the mandates all members of the bar to obey the laws of the
IBP Board of Governors, but reduce the period of land and promote respect for law. Rule 1.01 of the Code
suspension to one year. specifically provides that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." In Co
14
Administrative Liability of Respondent v. Bernardino, the Court considered the issuance of
worthless checks as a violation of this Rule and an act
constituting gross misconduct. It explained thus:
Lawyers are instruments for the administration of justice.
As vanguards of our legal system, they are expected to
maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high "The general rule is that a lawyer may not be suspended
standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing.
11 or disbarred, and the court may not ordinarily assume
In so doing, the peoples faith and confidence in the jurisdiction to discipline him for misconduct in his non-
judicial system is ensured. professional or private capacity (In Re Pelaez, 44 Phil.
5569 [1923]). Where, however, the misconduct outside
of the lawyer's professional dealings is so gross a
In the present case, respondent has been brought to this
Court for failure to pay his debts and for issuing character as to show him morally unfit for the office and
worthless checks as payment for his loan from unworthy of the privilege which his licenses and the law
confer on him, the court may be justified in suspending
complainant. While acknowledging the fact that he
or removing him from the office of attorney (In Re Sotto,
issued several worthless checks, he contends that such
38 Phil. 569 [1923]).
"The evidence on record clearly shows respondent's We likewise take notice of the high-handed manner in
propensity to issue bad checks. This gross misconduct which respondent dealt with Commissioner Cunanan
on his part, though not related to his professional duties during the July 4, 2002 hearing, when the former was
as a member of the bar, puts his moral character in expected to settle his obligation with complainant. We
serious doubt. The Commission, however, does not find cannot countenance the discourtesy of respondent. He
him a hopeless case in the light of the fact that he should be reminded that the IBP has disciplinary
15
eventually paid his obligation to the complainant, albeit authority over him by virtue of his membership therein.
very much delayed.
Thus, it was imperative for him to respect the authority of
"While it is true that there was no attorney-client the officer assigned to investigate his case. Assuming
relationship between complainant and respondent as the that he had a very important personal matter to attend
transaction between them did not require the to, he could have politely explained his predicament to
professional legal services of respondent, nevertheless the investigating commissioner and asked permission to
respondent's abject conduct merits condemnation from leave immediately. Unfortunately, the former showed
this Court. dismal behavior by raising his voice and leaving without
the consent of complainant and the investigating
"As early as 1923, however, the Court laid down in In Re commissioner.
Vicente Pelaez [44 Phil.567 (1923)] the principle that it
can exercise its power to discipline lawyers for causes We stress that membership in the legal profession is a
16
which do not involve the relationship of an attorney and privilege. It demands a high degree of good moral
client x x x In disciplining the respondent, Mr. Justice character, not only as a condition precedent to
Malcolm said: x x x As a general rule, a court will not admission, but also as a continuing requirement for the
17
assume jurisdiction to discipline one of its officers for practice of law. In this case, respondent fell short of the
misconduct alleged to have been committed in his exacting standards expected of him as a guardian of law
18
private capacity. But this is a general rule with many and justice.
exceptions x x x. The nature of the office, the trust
relation which exists between attorney and client, as well Accordingly, administrative sanction is warranted by his
as between court and attorney, and the statutory rules gross misconduct. The IBP Board of Governors
prescribing the qualifications of attorneys, uniformly recommended that he be suspended from the practice of
require that an attorney shall be a person of good moral law for two years. However, in line with Co v.
character. If that qualification is a condition precedent to 19 20
Bernardino, Ducat Jr. v. Villalon Jr. and Saburnido v.
a license or privilege to enter upon the practice of the 21
Madroo -- which also involved gross misconduct of
law, it would seem to be equally essential during the lawyers -- we find the suspension of one year sufficient
continuance of the practice and the exercise of the in this case.
privilege. So it is held that an attorney will be removed
not only for malpractice and dishonesty in his profession,
WHEREFORE, Atty. Robert W. Medel is found guilty of
but also for gross misconduct not connected with his
gross misconduct and is hereby SUSPENDED for one
professional duties, which shows him to be unfit for the year from the practice of law, effective upon his receipt
office and unworthy of the privileges which his license of this Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the
and the law confer upon him x x x.
same or a similar act will be dealt with more severely.

"Ten years later, in Piatt v. Abordo where the erring


Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of
lawyer was suspended for one year from the practice of respondent and served on the IBP, as well as on the
law for attempting to engage in an opium deal, Justice court administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for
Malcolm reiterated that an attorney may be removed not
their information and guidance.
only for malpractice and dishonesty in his profession, but
also for gross misconduct not related to his professional
duties which show him to be an unfit and unworthy SO ORDERED.
lawyer. The courts are not curators of the morals of the
bar. At the same time the profession is not compelled to
harbor all persons whatever their character, who are
fortunate enough to keep out of prison. As good
character is an essential qualification for admission of an
attorney to practice, when the attorney's character is bad
in such respects as to show that he is unsafe and unfit to
be entrusted with the powers of an attorney, the courts
retain the power to discipline him x x x Of all classes and
professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold
the law x x x and to that doctrine we give our unqualified
support."
A.C. No. 7494 June 27, 2008 After the mandatory preliminary conference conducted
WILSON CHAM, complainant, by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated
vs. Bar of the Philippines (IBP) at the IBP Building, Ortigas
ATTY. EVA PAITA-MOYA, respondent. Center, Pasig City, the parties were given time to submit
5
RESOLUTION their respective Position Papers per Order dated 17
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: February 2006. On 29 March 2006, complainant filed his
6
Position Paper. Respondent, despite the extension
1
Before Us is a Complaint for disbarment filed by given, did not file hers. Hence, the case was deemed
complainant Wilson Cham against respondent Atty. Eva submitted for resolution.
Paita-Moya, who he alleged committed deceit in
occupying a leased apartment unit and, thereafter, On 8 September 2006, Investigating Commissioner
vacating the same without paying the rentals due. Acerey C. Pacheco submitted his Report and
7
Recommendation, recommending the imposition of the
According to the Complaint, on 1 October 1998, penalty of three-month suspension on respondent for
2
respondent entered into a Contract of Lease with violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to
Greenville Realty and Development Corp. (GRDC), wit:
represented by complainant as its President and
General Manager, involving a residential apartment unit WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that
owned by GRDC located at No. 61-C Kalayaan Avenue, herein respondent be held guilty of having violated the
Quezon City, for a consideration of P8,000.00 per month aforequoted provision of the Code of Professional
for a term of one year. Responsibility and imposed upon her the penalty of
three (3) months suspension from the practice of law.
Upon the expiration of said lease contract, respondent
informed the complainant that she would no longer The IBP Board of Governors, however, passed
8
renew the same but requested an extension of her stay Resolution No. XVII-2006-585 dated 15 December
at the apartment unit until 30 June 2000 with a 2006, amending the recommendation of the
commitment that she would be paying the monthly rental Investigating Commissioner and approving the dismissal
during the extension period. Complainant approved such of the Complaint, thus:
request but increased the rental rate to P8,650.00 per
month for the period beginning 1 October 1999 until 30 RESOLVED to AMEND, as it is hereby AMENDED, the
June 2000. Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner,
and to APPROVE the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled
Respondent stayed at the leased premises up to case for lack of merit.
October 2000 without paying her rentals from July to
October 2000. She also failed to settle her electric bills We do not agree with the foregoing Resolution of the
for the months of September and October 2000. The IBP Board of Governors. The Complaint should not be
3
Statement of Account as of 15 October 2004 shows that dismissed and respondent must face the consequences
respondents total accountability is P71,007.88. of her actions.

Sometime in October 2000, a report reached It is undisputed that by virtue of a lease contract she
complainants office that respondent had secretly executed with GRDC, respondent was able to occupy
vacated the apartment unit, bringing along with her the the apartment unit for a period of one year, from 1
door keys. Also, respondent did not heed complainants October 1998 to 30 September 1999, paying a monthly
repeated written demands for payment of her obligations rental of P8,000.00. Upon the expiration of the lease
despite due receipt of the same, compelling complainant 9
contract on 30 September 1999, the same was
to file the present Complaint. renewed, but on a month-to-month basis at an increased
rental rate of P8,650.00. Under such an arrangement,
4
In her Answer, respondent alleged that she had respondent was able to stay at the leased premises until
religiously paid her monthly rentals and had not vacated October 2000, undoubtedly incurring electric bills during
the apartment unit surreptitiously. She also averred that the said period.
she transferred to another place because she was given
notice by the complainant to vacate the premises to give A review of the records would reveal that respondent is,
way for the repair and renovation of the same, but which indeed, guilty of willful failure to pay just debt.
never happened until presently. Respondent actually Complainant is able to fully substantiate that respondent
wanted to ask that complainant to account for her has existing obligations that she failed to settle.
deposit for the apartment unit, but she could not do so
since she did not know complainants address or contact 10
Annex "D" of the Complaint is a letter dated 11
number. For the same reason, she could not turn over to September 2000 signed by complainant and addressed
the complainant the door keys to the vacated apartment
to respondent demanding that she settle her unpaid
unit.
rentals for the period of three months, particularly, from 1
July to 30 September 2000. The letter appears to have and electricity bills constitutes deceitful conduct violative
been received by one Purificacion D. Flores. Annex "H" of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly
of the same Complaint is another letter dated 30 August Canon I and Rule 1.01 thereof, which explicitly state:
2004 by complainant reiterating his earlier demand for
respondent to settle her unpaid rentals, as well as her "CANON 1- A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey
unpaid Meralco bills. This second letter of demand was the laws of the land and promote respect for law and
sent through registered mail and received by one Nonie legal processes.
Catindig. Respondent did not expressly deny receipt of
both letters of demand in her Answer to the Complaint.
"Rule 1.01- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
Having failed to rebut the foregoing allegations, she
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."
must be deemed to have admitted them. Section 11,
Rule 8 of the Rules of Court, provides:
Respondents defense that she does not know where to
find the complainant or his office is specious and does
SECTION 11. Allegations not specifically denied not inspire belief considering that she had been
deemed admitted. Material averment in the complaint,
occupying the apartment unit and paying the rents due
other than those as to the amount of unliquidated
(except for the period complained of) for almost two
damage, shall be deemed admitted when not specifically
years. How she could have dealt with complainant and
denied.
GRDC for two years without at all knowing their office
address and contact numbers totally escapes this Court.
Moreover, a settled rule of evidence is that the one who This is only a desperate attempt to justify what is clearly
pleads payment has the burden of proving it. Even an unjustifiable act.
where it is the plaintiff (complainant herein) who alleges
non-payment, the general rule is that the burden rests on
Lawyers are instruments for the administration of justice.
the defendant (respondent herein) to prove payment,
As vanguards of our legal system, they are expected to
rather than on the plaintiff to prove non-payment. The
maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high
debtor has the burden of showing with legal certainty standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing.
15
11
that the obligation has been discharged by payment. In so doing, the peoples faith and confidence in the
judicial and legal system is ensured.
Apropos is another well-settled rule in our jurisprudence
that a receipt of payment is the best evidence of the fact
12 13 Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their
of payment. In Monfort v. Aguinaldo, the receipts of duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to their
payment, although not exclusive, were deemed to be the clients. As part of those duties, they must promptly pay
best evidence. A receipt is a written and signed
their financial obligations. Their conduct must always
acknowledgment that money or goods have been
reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as
delivered. In the instant case, the respondent failed to
embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. On
discharge the burden of proving payment, for she was
these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend
unable to produce receipts or any other proof of payment
lawyers for any professional or private misconduct
of the rentals due for the period of 1 July to 20
showing them to be wanting in moral character, honesty,
September 2000.
probity and good demeanor -- or to be unworthy to
16
continue as officers of the Court.
It is thus evident to this Court that respondent willfully
failed to pay her just debts. Her unpaid rentals and
The Court stresses that membership in the legal
electric bills constitute "just debts," which could be any of 17
profession is a privilege. It demands a high degree of
the following: (1) claims adjudicated by a court of law; or
good moral character, not only as a condition precedent
(2) claims the existence and justness of which are
14 to admission, but also as a continuing requirement for
admitted by the debtor. 18
the practice of law. In this case, respondent fell short of
the exacting standards expected of her as a guardian of
Having incurred just debts, respondent had the moral law and justice.
19

duty and legal responsibility to settle them when they


became due. Respondent should have complied with
Any gross misconduct of a lawyer in his or her
just contractual obligations, and acted fairly and adhered
professional or private capacity is a ground for the
to high ethical standards to preserve the courts integrity, imposition of the penalty of suspension or disbarment
since she is an employee thereof. Indeed, when because good character is an essential qualification for
respondent backtracked on her duty to pay her debts,
the admission to the practice of law and for the
such act already constituted a ground for administrative 20
continuance of such privilege. The Court has held that
sanction.
the deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance
21
of worthless checks constitute gross misconduct, for
Respondent left the apartment unit without settling her which a lawyer may be sanctioned with one years
unpaid obligations, and without the complainants 22
suspension from the practice of law, or a suspension of
knowledge and consent. Respondents abandonment of six months upon partial payment of the obligation.
23

the leased premises to avoid her obligations for the rent


Accordingly, administrative sanction is warranted by
respondents gross misconduct. The case at bar merely
involves the respondents deliberate failure to pay her
just debts, without her issuing a worthless check, which
would have been a more serious offense. The
Investigating Commissioner of the IBP recommended
that she be suspended from the practice of law for three
months, a penalty which this Court finds sufficient.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Eva Paita-Moya is found guilty of


gross misconduct and is hereby SUSPENDED for one
month from the practice of law, effective upon her receipt
of this Decision. She is warned that a repetition of the
same or a similar act will be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Resolution be entered in the record of


respondent and served on the IBP, as well as on the
court administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for
their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 6313 September 7, 2006 way that Aquino would agree to give her daughter
CATHERINE JOIE P. VITUG, complainant, medical and educational support. Respondent
vs. purportedly assured complainant that despite the
ATTY. DIOSDADO M. RONGCAL, respondent. Affidavit, she could still pursue a case against Aquino in
DECISION the future because the Affidavit is not a public document.
TINGA, J.: Because she completely trusted him at this point, she
signed the document "without even taking a glance at
5
The allegations raised in this complaint for disbarment it."
are more sordid, if not tawdry, from the usual. As such,
close scrutiny of these claims is called for. Disbarment On 14 February 2001, respondent allegedly advised
and suspension of a lawyer, being the most severe complainant that Aquino gave him P150,000.00 cash
forms of disciplinary sanction, should be imposed with and P58,000.00 in two (2) postdated checks to answer
great caution and only in those cases where the for the medical expenses of her daughter. Instead of
misconduct of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a turning them over to her, respondent handed her his
6
member of the bar is established by clear, convincing personal check in the amount of P150,000.00 and
1
and satisfactory proof. promised to give her the balance of P58,000.00 soon
thereafter. However, sometime in April or May 2001,
Under consideration is the administrative complaint for respondent informed her that he could not give her the
disbarment filed by Catherine Joie P. Vitug said amount because he used it for his political
(complainant) against Atty. Diosdado M. Rongcal campaign as he was then running for the position of
(respondent). A classic case of "he said, she said," the Provincial Board Member of the 2nd District of
parties' conflicting versions of the facts as culled from Pampanga.
the records are hereinafter presented.
Complainant maintains that inspite of their sexual
Complainant narrates that she and respondent met relationship and the fact that respondent kept part of the
sometime in December 2000 when she was looking for a money intended for her daughter, he still failed in his
lawyer to assist her in suing Arnulfo Aquino ("Aquino"), promise to give her a job. Furthermore, he did not file the
the biological father of her minor daughter, for support. case against Aquino and referred her instead to Atty.
Her former classmate who was then a Barangay Federico S. Tolentino, Jr. ("Atty. Tolentino").
Secretary referred her to respondent. After several
meetings with complainant, respondent sent a demand Sometime in 2002, assisted by Atty. Tolentino,
2
letter in her behalf to Aquino wherein he asked for the complainant filed a criminal case for child abuse as well
continuance of the monthly child support Aquino used to as a civil case against Aquino. While the criminal case
give, plus no less than P300,000.00 for the surgical was dismissed, the civil case was decided on 30 August
7
operation their daughter would need for her congenital 2004 by virtue of a compromise agreement. It was only
heart ailment. when said cases were filed that she finally understood
the import of the Affidavit.
At around this point, by complainant's own admission,
she and respondent started having a sexual relationship. Complainant avers that respondent failed to protect her
She narrates that this twist in the events began after interest when he personally prepared the Affidavit and
respondent started calling on her shortly after he had caused her to sign the same, which obviously worked to
sent the demand letter in her behalf. Respondent her disadvantage. In making false promises that all her
allegedly started courting her, giving her financial aid. problems would be solved, aggravated by his assurance
Soon he had progressed to making sexual advances that his marriage had already been annulled, respondent
towards complainant, to the accompaniment of sweet allegedly deceived her into yielding to his sexual desires.
inducements such as the promise of a job, financial Taking advantage of the trust and confidence she had in
security for her daughter, and his services as counsel for him as her counsel and paramour, her weak emotional
the prospective claim for support against Aquino. state, and dire financial need at that time, respondent
Complainant acknowledges that she succumbed to was able to appropriate for himself money that rightfully
these advances, assured by respondent's claim that the belonged to her daughter. She argues that respondent's
lawyer was free to marry her, as his own marriage had aforementioned acts constitute a violation of his oath as
already been annulled. a lawyer as well as the Code of Professional
Responsibility ("Code"), particularly Rule 1.01, Rule
8
On 9 February 2001, respondent allegedly convinced 1.02, Rule 16.01, Rule 16.02, and Canon 7. Hence, she
9
complainant to sign an Affidavit of Disclaimer
3 filed the instant complaint dated 2 February 2004.
("Affidavit") categorically stating that even as Aquino was
4
denoted as the father in the birth certificate of her Expectedly, respondent presents a different version.
daughter, he was, in truth, not the real father. She was According to him, complainant needed a lawyer who
not allowed to read the contents of the Affidavit, she would file the aforementioned action for support.
claims. Respondent supposedly assured her that the Complainant's former high school classmate Reinilda
document meant nothing, necessary as it was the only Bansil Morales, who was also his fellow barangay
official, referred her to him. He admits sending a demand beg complainant not to call him there. Third, he was the
letter to her former lover, Aquino, to ask support for the Punong Barangay from 1994 to 2002, and was elected
10
child. Subsequently, he and Aquino communicated President of the Association of Barangay Council
through an emissary. He learned that because of ("ABC") and as such was an ex-officio member of the
Aquino's infidelity, his relationship with his wife was Sangguniang Bayan of Guagua, Pampanga. He ran for
strained so that in order to settle things the spouses the position of Provincial Board Member in 2001. Thus,
were willing to give complainant a lump sum provided he was known in his locality and it was impossible for
she would execute an affidavit to the effect that Aquino complainant not to have known of his marital status
is not the father of her daughter. especially that she lived no more than three (3)
kilometers away from his house and even actively
Respondent relayed this proposal to complainant who helped him in his campaign.
asked for his advice. He then advised her to study the
proposal thoroughly and with a practical mindset. He Respondent further alleges that while the demand for
also explained to her the pros and cons of pursuing the support from Aquino was being worked out, complainant
case. After several days, she requested that he moved to a rented house in Olongapo City because a
negotiate for an out-of-court settlement of no less than suitor had promised her a job in the Subic Naval Base.
P500,000.00. When Aquino rejected the amount, But months passed and the promised job never came so
negotiations ensued until the amount was lowered to that she had to return to Lubao, Pampanga. As the
P200,000.00. Aquino allegedly offered to issue four money she received from Aquino was about to be
postdated checks in equal amounts within four months. exhausted, she allegedly started to pester respondent
Complainant disagreed. Aquino then proposed to for financial assistance and urged him to file the Petition
rediscount the checks at an interest of 4% a month or a for Support against Aquino. While respondent acceded
total of P12,000.00. The resulting amount was to her pleas, he also advised her "to look for the right
12
P188,000.00. man" and to stop depending on him for financial
assistance. He also informed her that he could not assist
Complainant finally agreed to this arrangement and her in filing the case, as he was the one who prepared
voluntarily signed the Affidavit that respondent prepared, and notarized the Affidavit. He, however, referred her to
the same Affidavit adverted to by complainant. He Atty. Tolentino.
denies forcing her to sign the document and strongly
refutes her allegation that she did not know what the In August 2002, respondent finally ended his relationship
Affidavit was for and that she signed it without even with complainant, but still he agreed to give her monthly
reading it, as he gave her the draft before the actual financial assistance of P6,000.00 for six (6) months.
payment was made. He notes that complainant is a Since then, they have ceased to meet and have
college graduate and a former bank employee who communicated only through an emissary or by
speaks and understands English. He likewise cellphone. In 2003, complainant begged him to continue
vehemently denies pocketing P58,000.00 of the the assistance until June when her alleged fianc from
settlement proceeds. When complainant allegedly the United States would have arrived. Respondent
signed the Affidavit, the emissary handed to her the sum agreed. In July 2003, she again asked for financial
of P150,000.00 in cash and she allegedly told assistance for the last time, which he turned down. Since
respondent that he could keep the remaining then he had stopped communicating to her.
P38,000.00, not P58,000.00 as alleged in the complaint.
Although she did not say why, he assumed that it was Sometime in January 2004, complainant allegedly went
for his attorney's fees. to see a friend of respondent. She told him that she was
in need of P5,000.00 for a sari-sari store she was putting
As regards their illicit relationship, respondent admits of up and she wanted him to relay the message to
his sexual liaison with complainant. He, however, denies respondent. According to this friend, complainant
luring her with sweet words and empty promises. showed him a prepared complaint against respondent
According to him, it was more of a "chemistry of (sic) two that she would file with the Supreme Court should the
11
consensual (sic) adults," complainant then being in her latter not accede to her request. Sensing that he was
thirties. He denies that he tricked her into believing that being blackmailed, respondent ignored her demand.
his marriage was already annulled. Strangely, True enough, he alleges, she filed the instant complaint.
respondent devotes considerable effort to demonstrate
that complainant very well knew he was married when On 21 July 2004, the case was referred to the Integrated
they commenced what was to him, an extra-marital Bar of the Philippines ("IBP") for investigation, report and
liaison. He points out that, first, they had met through his 13
recommendation. After the parties submitted their
colleague, Ms. Morales, a friend and former high school respective position papers and supporting documents,
classmate of hers. Second, they had allegedly first met the Investigating Commissioner rendered his Report and
at his residence where she was actually introduced to 14
Recommendation dated 2 September 2005. After
his wife. Subsequently, complainant called his residence presenting the parties' conflicting factual versions, the
several times and actually spoke to his wife, a Investigating Commissioner gave credence to that of
circumstance so disturbing to respondent that he had to complainant and concluded that respondent clearly
violated the Code, reporting in this wise, to wit: opened for clarificatory questioning in order to determine
who between them is telling the truth.
Respondent, through the above mentioned acts, clearly
19
showed that he is wanting in good moral character, In a Resolution dated 27 April 2006, the IBP denied the
putting in doubt his professional reputation as a member Motion on the ground that it has no more jurisdiction
of the BAR and renders him unfit and unworthy of the over the case as the matter had already been endorsed
privileges which the law confers to him. From a lawyer, to the Supreme Court.
are (sic) expected those qualities of truth-speaking, high
sense of honor, full candor, intellectual honesty and the While we find respondent liable, we adjudicate the
strictest observance of fiduciary responsibility all of matter differently from what the IBP has recommended.
which throughout the passage of time have been
compendiously described as MORAL CHARACTER.
On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny
that he had an extra-marital affair with complainant,
Respondent, unfortunately took advantage and (sic) albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not "so corrupt
every opportunity to entice complainant to his lascivious and false as to constitute a criminal act or so
hungerness (sic). On several occasions[,] respondent unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree" in
20

kept on calling complainant and dropped by her house order to merit disciplinary sanction. We disagree.
and gave P2,000.00 as aid while waiting allegedly for the
reply of (sic) their demand letter for support. It signals
One of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that
the numerous visits and regular calls all because of
an applicant must possess good moral character. Said
[l]ewd design. He took advantage of her seeming
requirement persists as a continuing condition for the
financial woes and emotional dependency.
enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the
loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such
xxxx 21
privilege. As officers of the court, lawyers must not only
in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen
Without doubt, a violation of the high moral standards of to be of good moral character and leading lives in
the legal profession justifies the impositions (sic) of the accordance with the highest moral standards of the
22
appropriate penalty, including suspension and community. The Court has held that to justify
15
disbarment. x x x suspension or disbarment the act complained of must
23
not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. A grossly
It was then recommended that respondent be immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to
suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful
24
and that he be ordered to return to complainant the as to be reprehensible to a high degree. It is a willful,
amount of P58,000.00 within two months. The IBP Board flagrant, or shameless act that shows a moral
of Governors adopted and approved the said Report and indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable
25
16
Recommendation in a Resolution dated 17 December members of the community.
2005, finding the same to be fully supported by the
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, While it is has been held in disbarment cases that the
and "considering Respondent's obviously taking mere fact of sexual relations between two unmarried
advantage of the lawyer-client relationship and the adults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction
26
financial and emotional problem of his client and for such illicit behavior, it is not so with respect to
17 27
attempting to mislead the Commission," respondent betrayals of the marital vow of fidelity. Even if not all
was meted out the penalty of suspension for one (1) forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under
year with a stern warning that a repetition of similar acts penal law, sexual relations outside marriage is
will merit severe sanctions. He was likewise ordered to considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests
return P58,000.00 to complainant. deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the
marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed
28
Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with by our laws.
18
Motion to Set Case for Clarificatory Questioning
("Motion") dated 9 March 2006 with the IBP and a Motion By his own admission, respondent is obviously guilty of
to Reopen/Remand Case for Clarificatory Questioning immorality in violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code which
dated 22 March 2006 with the Supreme Court. He states that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
reiterates his own version of the facts, giving a more dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. The next
detailed account of the events that transpired between question to consider is whether this act is aggravated by
him and complainant. Altogether, he portrays his alleged deceitful conduct in luring complainant who
complainant as a shrewd and manipulative woman who was then in low spirits and in dire financial need in order
depends on men for financial support and who would to satisfy his carnal desires. While the IBP concluded the
stop at nothing to get what she wants. Arguing that the question in the affirmative, we find otherwise.
IBP based its Resolution solely on complainant's bare
allegations that she failed to prove by clear and Complainant's allegations that she succumbed to
convincing evidence, he posits the case should be re- respondent's sexual advances due to his promises of
financial security and because of her need for legal of months and thereby risk the welfare of her child by
assistance in filing a case against her former lover, are signing without even reading a document she knew was
insufficient to conclude that complainant deceived her related to the support case she intended to file. The
into having sexual relations with her. Surely, an Affidavit consists of four short sentences contained in a
educated woman like herself who was of sufficient age single page. It is unlikely she was not able to read it
and discretion, being at that time in her thirties, would before she signed it.
not be easily fooled into sexual congress by promises of
a job and of free legal assistance, especially when there Likewise obscure is her assertion that respondent did
is no showing that she is suffering from any mental or not fully explain to her the contents of the Affidavit and
physical disability as to justify such recklessness and/or the consequences of signing it. She alleged that
29
helplessness on her part. Respondent's numerous respondent even urged her "to use her head as Arnulfo
visits and regular calls to complainant do not necessarily Aquino will not give the money for Alexandra's medical
prove that he took advantage of her. At best, it proves and educational support if she will not sign the said
that he courted her despite being a married man, 32
Affidavit of Disclaimer." If her own allegation is to be
precisely the fact on which the finding of immorality is believed, it shows that she was aware of the on-going
rooted. Moreover, the circumstance that he gave her negotiation with Aquino for the settlement of her claim
P2,000.00 as aid does not induce belief that he fueled for which the latter demanded the execution of the
her financial dependence as she never denied pleading Affidavit. It also goes to show that she was pondering on
with, if not badgering, him for financial support. whether to sign the same. Furthermore, she does not
deny being a college graduate or that she knows and
Neither does complainant's allegation that respondent understands English. The Affidavit is written in short and
lied to her about his marital status inspire belief. We find simple sentences that are understandable even to a
credence in respondent's assertion that it was layman. The inevitable conclusion is that she signed the
impossible for her not to have known of his subsisting Affidavit voluntarily and without any coercion whatsoever
marriage. She herself admitted that they were introduced on the part of respondent.
by her friend and former classmate, Ms. Morales who
was a fellow barangay official of respondent. She The question remains as to whether his act of preparing
admitted that she knew his residence phone number and and notarizing the Affidavit, a document
that she had called him there. She also knew that disadvantageous to his client, is a violation of the Code.
respondent is an active barangay official who even ran We rule in the negative.
as Provincial Board Member in 2001. Curiously, she
never refuted respondent's allegations that she had met
It was not unlawful for respondent to assist his client in
and talked to his wife on several occasions, that she entering into a settlement with Aquino after explaining all
lived near his residence, that she helped him in his available options to her. The law encourages the
campaign, or that she knew a lot of his friends, so as not
amicable settlement not only of pending cases but also
to have known of his marital status. Considering that she 33
of disputes which might otherwise be filed in court.
previously had an affair with Aquino, who was also a
Moreover, there is no showing that he knew for sure that
married man, it would be unnatural for her to have just
Aquino is the father of complainant's daughter as
plunged into a sexual relationship with respondent whom
paternity remains to be proven. As complainant
she had known for only a short time without verifying his
voluntarily and intelligently agreed to a settlement with
background, if it were true that she preferred "to change
30 Aquino, she cannot later blame her counsel when she
[her] life for the better," as alleged in her complaint. We
experiences a change of heart. Besides, the record is
believe that her aforementioned allegations of deceit
bereft of evidence as to whether respondent also acted
were not established by clear preponderant evidence
31 as Aquino's counsel in the settlement of the case. Again,
required in disbarment cases. We are left with the most we only have complainant's bare allegations that cannot
logical conclusion that she freely and wittingly entered 34
be considered evidence. Suspicion, no matter how
into an illicit and immoral relationship with respondent
strong, is not enough. In the absence of contrary
sans any misrepresentation or deceit on his part.
evidence, what will prevail is the presumption that the
respondent has regularly performed his duty in
Next, complainant charged respondent of taking accordance with his oath.
35

advantage of his legal skills and moral control over her


to force her to sign the clearly disadvantageous Affidavit
Complainant further charged respondent of
without letting her read it and without explaining to her its
misappropriating part of the money given by Aquino to
repercussions. While acting as her counsel, she alleged
her daughter. Instead of turning over the whole amount,
that he likewise acted as counsel for Aquino.
he allegedly issued to her his personal check in the
amount of P150,000.00 and pocketed the remaining
We find complainant's assertions dubious. She was P58,000.00 in violation of his fiduciary obligation to her
clearly in need of financial support from Aquino as her counsel.
especially that her daughter was suffering from a heart
ailment. We cannot fathom how she could abandon all
The IBP did not make any categorical finding on this
cares to respondent who she had met for only a couple
matter but simply ordered respondent to return the
amount of P58,000.00 to complainant. We feel a reliable men and women in whom courts and clients may
37
discussion is in order. repose confidence. As such, it involves no private
38
interest and affords no redress for private grievance.
We note that there is no clear evidence as to how much The complainant or the person who called the attention
Aquino actually gave in settlement of complainant's of the court to the lawyer's alleged misconduct is in no
claim for support. The parties are in agreement that sense a party, and has generally no interest in the
complainant received the amount of P150,000.00. outcome except as all good citizens may have in the
39
However, complainant insists that she should have proper administration of justice.
received more as there were two postdated checks
amounting to P58,000.00 that respondent never turned Respondent's misconduct is of considerable gravity.
over to her. Respondent essentially agrees that the There is a string of cases where the Court meted out the
amount is in fact more than P150,000.00 but only extreme penalty of disbarment on the ground of gross
P38,000.00 more and complainant said he could have immorality where the respondent contracted a bigamous
40
it and he assumed it was for his attorney's fees. marriage, abandoned his family to cohabit with his
41 42
paramour, cohabited with a married woman, lured an
43
We scrutinized the records and found not a single innocent woman into marriage, or was found to be a
44
evidence to prove that there existed two postdated womanizer. The instant case can be easily
checks issued by Aquino in the amount of P58,000.00. differentiated from the foregoing cases. We, therefore,
On the other hand, respondent admits that there is heed the stern injunction on decreeing disbarment where
actually an amount of P38,000.00 but presented no any lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension,
45
evidence of an agreement for attorney's fees to justify would accomplish the end desired. In Zaguirre v.
46
his presumption that he can keep the same. Curiously, Castillo, respondent was found to have sired a child
there is on record a photocopy of a check issued by with another woman who knew he was married. He
respondent in favor of complainant for P150,000.00. It therein sought understanding from the Court pointing out
was only in his Motion for Reconsideration where the polygamous nature of men and that the illicit
respondent belatedly proffers an explanation. He avers relationship was a product of mutual lust and desire.
that he cannot recall what the check was for but he Appalled at his reprehensible and amoral attitude, the
supposes that complainant requested for it as she did Court suspended him indefinitely. However, in Fr.
47
not want to travel all the way to Olongapo City with a Sinnott v. Judge Barte, where respondent judge
huge sum of money. consorted with a woman not his wife, but there was no
conclusive evidence that he sired a child with her, he
was fined P10,000.00 for his conduct unbecoming a
We find the circumstances rather suspicious but
evidence is wanting to sustain a finding in favor of either magistrate despite his retirement during the pendency of
party in this respect. We cannot and should not rule on the case.
mere conjectures. The IBP relied only on the written
assertions of the parties, apparently finding no need to We note that from the very beginning of this case, herein
subject the veracity of the assertions through the respondent had expressed remorse over his indiscretion
question and answer modality. With the inconclusive and had in fact ended the brief illicit relationship years
state of the evidence, a more in-depth investigation is ago. We take these as signs that his is not a character of
called for to ascertain in whose favor the substantial such severe depravity and thus should be taken as
48
evidence level tilts. Hence, we are constrained to mitigating circumstances in his favor. Considering
remand the case to the IBP for further reception of further that this is his first offense, we believe that a fine
evidence solely on this aspect. of P15,000.00 would suffice. This, of course, is without
prejudice to the outcome of the aspect of this case
involving the alleged misappropriation of funds of the
We also are unable to grant complainant's prayer for
client.
respondent to be made liable for the cost of her child's
DNA test absent proof that he misappropriated funds WHEREFORE, premises considered, we find Atty. Diosdado
exclusively earmarked for the purpose. M. Rongcal GUILTY of immorality and impose on him a FINE
of P15,000.00 with a stern warning that a repetition of the
Neither shall we entertain complainant's claim for moral same or similar acts in the future will be dealt with more
damages and attorney's fees. Suffice it to state that an severely.
administrative case against a lawyer is sui generis, one The charge of misappropriation of funds of the client is
36 REMANDED to the IBP for further investigation, report and
that is distinct from a civil or a criminal action. It is an
recommendation within ninety (90) days from receipt of this
investigation by the Court into the fitness of a lawyer to Decision.
remain in the legal profession and be allowed the Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal record of
privileges as such. Its primary objective is to protect the respondent as an attorney and as a member of the Bar, and
Court and the public from the misconduct of its officers furnished the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the
with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal Philippines and the Court Administrator for circulation to all
profession and the proper and honest administration of courts in the country.
justice by requiring that those who exercise this SO ORDERED.
important function shall be competent, honorable and A.C. No. 5299 August 19, 2003
ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., Assistant Court services offered by a lawyer is not contrary to law, public
4
Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office, policy and public order as long as it is dignified.
Complainant,
vs. The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the
ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, Respondent. Philippines for investigation, report and
x-----------------------x 5
recommendation. On June 29, 2002, the IBP
G.R. No. 157053 August 19, 2003 Commission on Bar Discipline passed Resolution No.
ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, Petitioner, 6
XV-2002-306, finding respondent guilty of violation of
vs. Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional
IBP COMMISSION ON BAR DISCIPLINE and ATTY. Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of
ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., in his capacity as Assistant Court, and suspended him from the practice of law for
Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information one (1) year with the warning that a repetition of similar
Office, Respondents. acts would be dealt with more severely. The IBP
RESOLUTION Resolution was noted by this Court on November 11,
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: 2002.
7

This administrative complaint arose from a paid In the meantime, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for
advertisement that appeared in the July 5, 2000 issue of 8
Reconsideration, which was denied by the IBP in
the newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reads: Resolution No. XV-2002-606 dated October 19, 2002
9

"ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist 532-4333/521-


1
2667."
Hence, the instant petition for certiorari, which was
docketed as G.R. No. 157053 entitled, "Atty. Rizalino T.
Ms. Ma. Theresa B. Espeleta, a staff member of the Simbillo, Petitioner versus IBP Commission on Bar
Public Information Office of the Supreme Court, called Discipline, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., Asst. Court
up the published telephone number and pretended to be Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office,
an interested party. She spoke to Mrs. Simbillo, who Respondents." This petition was consolidated with A.C.
claimed that her husband, Atty. Rizalino Simbillo, was an No. 5299 per the Courts Resolution dated March 4,
expert in handling annulment cases and can guarantee a 2003.
court decree within four to six months, provided the case
will not involve separation of property or custody of
In a Resolution dated March 26, 2003, the parties were
children. Mrs. Simbillo also said that her husband
required to manifest whether or not they were willing to
charges a fee of P48,000.00, half of which is payable at
submit the case for resolution on the basis of the
the time of filing of the case and the other half after a 10
pleadings. Complainant filed his Manifestation on April
decision thereon has been rendered.
25, 2003, stating that he is not submitting any additional
pleading or evidence and is submitting the case for its
Further research by the Office of the Court Administrator early resolution on the basis of pleadings and records
and the Public Information Office revealed that similar 11
thereof. Respondent, on the other hand, filed a
advertisements were published in the August 2 and 6, Supplemental Memorandum on June 20, 2003.
2000 issues of the Manila Bulletin and August 5, 2000
2
issue of The Philippine Star.
We agree with the IBPs Resolutions Nos. XV-2002-306
and XV-2002-606.
On September 1, 2000, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his
capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief of
Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional
the Public Information Office, filed an administrative
Responsibility read:
complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo for improper
advertising and solicitation of his legal services, in
violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done
Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of any act designed primarily to solicit legal business.
3
the Rules of Court.
Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of
In his answer, respondent admitted the acts imputed to any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified,
him, but argued that advertising and solicitation per se self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his
are not prohibited acts; that the time has come to qualifications or legal services.
change our views about the prohibition on advertising
and solicitation; that the interest of the public is not Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states:
served by the absolute prohibition on lawyer advertising;
that the Court can lift the ban on lawyer advertising; and SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by
that the rationale behind the decades-old prohibition Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the bar
should be abandoned. Thus, he prayed that he be may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
exonerated from all the charges against him and that the attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
Court promulgate a ruling that advertisement of legal malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office,
grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of their marriage bonds, to do so.
a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of
the oath which he is required to take before the Nonetheless, the solicitation of legal business is not
admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience altogether proscribed. However, for solicitation to be
appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do proper, it must be compatible with the dignity of the legal
so. profession. If it is made in a modest and decorous
manner, it would bring no injury to the lawyer and to the
20
It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law bar. Thus, the use of simple signs stating the name or
12
is not a business. It is a profession in which duty to names of the lawyers, the office and residence address
public service, not money, is the primary consideration. and fields of practice, as well as advertisement in legal
Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making periodicals bearing the same brief data, are permissible.
21
venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that Even the use of calling cards is now acceptable.
13
necessarily yields profits. The gaining of a livelihood Publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent
14
should be a secondary consideration. The duty to with the standards of conduct imposed by the canon, of
public service and to the administration of justice should brief biographical and informative data is likewise
be the primary consideration of lawyers, who must allowable. As explicitly stated in Ulep v. Legal Clinic,
22
subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to Inc.:
15
themselves. The following elements distinguish the
legal profession from a business: Such data must not be misleading and may include only
a statement of the lawyers name and the names of his
1. A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers,
by-product, and in which one may attain the highest cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and
eminence without making much money; place of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended
with dates of graduation, degrees and other educational
2. A relation as an "officer of the court" to the distinctions; public or quasi-public offices; posts of
administration of justice involving thorough sincerity, honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions;
integrity and reliability; membership and offices in bar associations and
committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and
legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law
3. A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary;
lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with
their written consent, the names of clients regularly
4. A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by represented.
candor, fairness, and unwillingness to resort to current
business methods of advertising and encroachment on
their practice, or dealing directly with their clients.
16 The law list must be a reputable law list published
primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere
supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal
There is no question that respondent committed the acts or periodical which is published principally for other
complained of. He himself admits that he caused the purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly
publication of the advertisements. While he professes publish his brief biographical and informative data in a
repentance and begs for the Courts indulgence, his daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society program.
contrition rings hollow considering the fact that he Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a
advertised his legal services again after he pleaded for law list the conduct, management, or contents of which
compassion and after claiming that he had no intention are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or
to violate the rules. Eight months after filing his answer, the bar, or to lower dignity or standing of the profession.
he again advertised his legal services in the August 14,
17
2001 issue of the Buy & Sell Free Ads Newspaper. Ten
The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also
months later, he caused the same advertisement to be
18 permitted. The card may contain only a statement of his
published in the October 5, 2001 issue of Buy & Sell.
Such acts of respondent are a deliberate and name, the name of the law firm which he is connected
with, address, telephone number and special branch of
contemptuous affront on the Courts authority.
law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement
of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the
What adds to the gravity of respondents acts is that in partnership, associates, firm name or office address,
advertising himself as a self-styled "Annulment of being for the convenience of the profession, is not
Marriage Specialist," he wittingly or unwittingly erodes objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed in a
and undermines not only the stability but also the telephone directory but not under a designation of
sanctity of an institution still considered sacrosanct special branch of law. (emphasis and italics supplied)
despite the contemporary climate of permissiveness in
our society. Indeed, in assuring prospective clients that
an annulment may be obtained in four to six months WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent
19 RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO is found GUILTY of violation of
from the time of the filing of the case, he in fact
Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional
encourages people, who might have otherwise been
Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of
disinclined and would have refrained from dissolving
Court. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
ONE (1) YEAR effective upon receipt of this Resolution.
He is likewise STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of
the same or similar offense will be dealt with more
severely.

Let copies of this Resolution 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.
A.C. No, 6854 April 25, 2007 [Formerly CBD Being your co-municipal official in the Municipal
Case No. 04-1380] Government of Meycauayan who is the Chief Legal
JUAN DULALIA, JR., Complainant, Counsel of its Legal Department, and by virtue of Sub
vs. par. (4), Paragraph (b), Section 481 of the Local
ATTY. PABLO C. CRUZ, Respondent. Government Code of 1991, he is inquiring if there was
DECISION already full compliance on the part of the owner of the
CARPIO MORALES, J.: Building under construction with the requirements
provided for in Sections 301, 302 and 308 of the
Atty. Pablo C. Cruz, Municipal Legal Officer of National Building Code and on the part of your good
Meycauayan, Bulacan (respondent), is charged by Juan office, your compliance with the provisions of Sections
1
Dulalia, Jr. (complainant) of violation Rules 1.01, 6.02,
2 303 and 304 of the same foregoing cited Building Code.
3
and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Please be reminded of the adverse and unfavorable
The facts which gave rise to the filing of the present legal effect of the non-compliance with said Sections
complaint are as follows: 301, 302, 303 and 304 of the National Building Code by
all the parties concerned. (Which are not confined only
to penalties provided in Sections 211 and 212 thereof.)
Complainants wife Susan Soriano Dulalia filed an
application for building permit for the construction of a 4
warehouse. Despite compliance with all the x x x x (Emphasis and underscoring partly in the
requirements for the purpose, she failed to secure a original, partly supplied)
permit, she attributing the same to the opposition of
respondents who wrote a September 13, 2004 letter to By complainants claim, respondent opposed the
Carlos J. Abacan, Municipal Engineer and concurrent application for building permit because of a personal
Building Official of Meycauayan, reading as follows, grudge against his wife Susan who objected to
quoted verbatim: respondents marrying her first cousin Imelda Soriano,
respondents marriage with Carolina Agaton being still
5
xxxx subsisting.

This is in behalf of the undersigned himself and his To the complaint, complainant attached a copy of his
6
family, Gregoria F. Soriano, Spouses David Perez and Complaint Affidavit he filed against respondent before
Minerva Soriano-Perez and Family and Mr. and Mrs. the Office of the Ombudsman for violation of Section 3
7
Jessie de Leon and family, his relatives and neighbors. (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended (The Anti-
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and Section 4 (a) and
8
(c) of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and
It has been more than a month ago already that the 9
Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).
construction of the building of the abovenamed person
has started and that the undersigned and his family, and 10
those other families mentioned above are respective By Report and Recommendation dated May 6, 2005,
owners of the residential houses adjoining that of the the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, through
high-rise building under construction of the said Mrs. Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala,
Soriano-Dulalia. There is no need to mention the recommended the dismissal of the complaint in light of
unbearable nuisances that it creates and its adverse the following findings:
effects to the undersigned and his above referred to
clients particularly the imminent danger and damage to The complaint dealt with mainly on the issue that
their properties, health and safety. respondent allegedly opposes the application of his wife
for a building permit for the construction of their
It was represented that the intended construction of the commercial building. One of the reason[s] stated by the
building would only be a regular and with standard complainant was that his wife was not in favor of
height building and not a high rise one but an inspection Imeldas relationship with respondent who is a married
of the same would show otherwise. Note that its man. And the other reason is that respondent was not
accessory foundation already occupies portion of the authorized to represent his neighbors in opposing the
vacant airspace of the undersigneds residential house in construction of his building.
particular, which readily poses danger to their residential
house and life. From the facts and evidence presented, we find
respondent to have satisfactorily answered all the
To avert the occurrence of the above danger and charges and accusations of complainant. We find no
damage to property, loss of life and for the protection of clear, convincing and strong evidence to warrant the
the safety of all the people concerned, they are disbarment or suspension of respondent. An attorney
immediately requesting for your appropriate action on enjoys the legal presumption that he is innocent of the
the matter please at your earliest opportune time. charges preferred against him until the contrary is
proved. The burden of proof rests upon the complainant
to overcome the presumption and establish his charges
by a clear preponderance of evidence. In the absence of the government as Municipal Legal Officer of
the required evidence, the presumption of innocence on Meycauayan, Bulacan, the undersigned has taken into
the part of the lawyer continues and the complaint consideration the explanation and clarification made by
against him should be dismissed (In re De Guzman, 55 the respondent to be justifiable and meritorious. Aside
SCRA 1239; Balduman vs. Luspo, 64 SCRA 74; from the bare allegations of herein complainant, there is
Agbayani vs. Agtang, 73 SCRA 283). no sufficient evidence to substantiate the complaints
16
against the respondent. (Underscoring supplied)
11
x x x x. (Underscoring supplied)
After a review of the record of the case, this Court finds
By Resolution of June 25, 2005,
12
the Board of the dismissal of the charges of violating Rules 6.02 and
Governors of the IBP adopted and approved the Report 7.03 in order.
and Recommendation of Commissioner Villanueva-
Maala. Indeed, complaint failed to prove that respondent used
his position as Municipal Legal Officer to advance his
Hence, the present Petition for Review
13
filed by own personal interest against complainant and his wife.
complainant.
As for respondents September 13, 2004 letter, there is
Complainant maintains that respondent violated Rule nothing to show that he opposed the application for
1.01 when he contracted a second marriage with Imelda building permit. He just inquired whether complainants
Soriano on September 17, 1989 while his marriage with wife fully complied with the requirements provided for by
Carolina Agaton, which was solemnized on December the National Building Code, on top of expressing his
17, 1967, is still subsisting. concerns about "the danger and damages to their
properties, health and safety" occasioned by the
construction of the building.
Complainant further maintains that respondent used his
influence as the Municipal Legal Officer of Meycauayan
to oppose his wifes application for building permit, in Besides, as reflected above, the application for building
17
violation of Rule 6.02 of the Code of Professional permit was filed on September 28, 2004, whereas the
Responsibility. questioned letter of respondent was priorly written and
received on September 13, 2004 by the Municipal
Engineer/ Building Official, who on the same day,
And for engaging in the practice of law while serving as
ordered an inspection and issued a Cease and Desist
the Municipal Legal Officer of Meycauayan, complainant
Order/Notice stating that "[f]ailure to comply with th[e]
maintains that respondent violated Rule 7.03.
notice shall cause this office to instate proper legal
18
14 action against you."
To his Comment, respondent attached the July 29,
15
2005 Joint Resolution of the Office of the Deputy 19
Ombudsman for Luzon dismissing complainants Furthermore, as the Certification dated April 4, 2005
from the Office of the Municipal Engineer showed,
complaint for violation of Sec. 3 (e) of RA 3019 and
complainants wife eventually withdrew the application
Section 4 (a) and (c) of RA 6713, the pertinent portion of
as she had not yet secured clearances from the
which joint resolution reads:
Municipal Zoning Administrator and from the barangay
where the building was to be constructed.
x x x A perusal of the questioned letter dated September
13, 2004 of herein respondent Atty. Pablo Cruz
addressed to the Building official appears to be not an Respecting complainants charge that respondent
engaged in an unauthorized private practice of law while
opposition for the issuance of complainants building
he was the Municipal Legal Officer of Meycauayan, a
permit, but rather to redress a wrong and an inquiry as to
whether compliance with the requirements for the position coterminous to that of the appointing authority,
construction of an edifice has been met. In fact, the suffice it to state that respondent proffered proof that his
20
private practice is not prohibited.
Office of the Building Official after conducting an
investigation found out that there was [a] violation of the
Building Code for constructing without a building permit It is, however, with respect to respondents admitted
committed by herein complainants wife Susan Dulalia. contracting of a second marriage while his first marriage
Hence, a Work Stoppage Order was issued. Records is still subsisting that this Court finds respondent liable,
disclose fu[r]ther [that] it was only after the said violation for violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
had been committed that Susan Dulalia applied for a Responsibility.
building permit. As correctly pointed out by respondent,
the same is being processed pending approval by the Respondent married Imelda Soriano on September 17,
21
Building Official and not of the Municipal Zoning 1989 at the Clark County, Nevada, USA, when the
Administrator as alleged by complainant. Anent the Family Code of the Philippines had already taken
22
allegation that respondent was engaged in the private effect. He invokes good faith, however, he claiming to
practice of his law profession despite being employed in have had the impression that the applicable provision at
23
the time was Article 83 of the Civil Code. For while and has been handling free legal aid cases.
Article 256 of the Family Code provides that the Code
shall have retroactive application, there is a qualification Respondents misimpression that it was the Civil Code
thereunder that it should not prejudice or impair vested provisions which applied at the time he contracted his
or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or second marriage and the seemingly unmindful attitude of
other laws. his residential community towards his second marriage
notwithstanding, respondent may not go scotfree.
Immoral conduct which is proscribed under Rule 1.01 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, as opposed to As early as 1957, this Court has frowned on the act of
grossly immoral conduct, connotes "conduct that shows contracting a second marriage while the first marriage
indifference to the moral norms of society and the was still in place as being contrary to honesty, justice,
opinion of good and respectable members of the decency and morality.
28
24
community." Gross immoral conduct on the other hand
must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal
In another vein, respondent violated Canon 5 of the
act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high
25 Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:
degree.
CANON 5 A lawyer shall keep abreast of legal
In St. Louis University Laboratory High School v. De la developments, participate in continuing legal education
26
Cruz, this Court declared that the therein respondents
programs, support efforts to achieve high standards in
act of contracting a second marriage while the first
law schools as well as in the practical training of law
marriage was still subsisting constituted immoral
students and assist in disseminating information
conduct, for which he was suspended for two years after
regarding the law and jurisprudence.
the mitigating following circumstances were considered:
Respondents claim that he was not aware that the
a. After his first failed marriage and prior to his second Family Code already took effect on August 3, 1988 as he
marriage or for a period of almost seven (7) years, he
was in the United States from 1986 and stayed there
has not been romantically involved with any woman;
until he came back to the Philippines together with his
second wife on October 9, 1990 does not lie, as
b. His second marriage was a show of his noble "ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance
intentions and total love for his wife, whom he described therewith."
to be very intelligent person;
Apropos is this Courts pronouncement in Santiago v.
c. He never absconded from his obligations to support Rafanan:
29

his wife and child;


It must be emphasized that the primary duty of lawyers
d. He never disclaimed paternity over the child and is to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for
husbandry (sic) with relation to his wife; the law and legal processes. They are expected to be in
the forefront in the observance and maintenance of the
e. After the annulment of his second marriage, they have rule of law. This duty carries with it the obligation to
parted ways when the mother and child went to be well-informed of the existing laws and to keep
Australia; abreast with legal developments, recent enactments
and jurisprudence. It is imperative that they be
f. Since then up to now, respondent remained celibate.
27 conversant with basic legal principles. Unless they
faithfully comply with such duty, they may not be
able to discharge competently and diligently their
In respondents case, he being out of the country since
obligations as members of the bar. Worse, they may
1986, he can be given the benefit of the doubt on his 30
become susceptible to committing mistakes.
claim that Article 83 of the Civil Code was the applicable
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
provision when he contracted the second marriage
abroad. From 1985 when allegedly his first wife
abandoned him, an allegation which was not refuted, WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Pablo C. Cruz is guilty
until his marriage in 1989 with Imelda Soriano, there is of violating Rule 1.01 and Canon 5 of the Code of
no showing that he was romantically involved with any Professional Responsibility and is SUSPENDED from
woman. And, it is undisputed that his first wife has the practice of law for one year. He is WARNED that a
remained an absentee even during the pendency of this similar infraction will be dealt with more severely.
case.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the
As noted above, respondent did not deny he contracted Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and
marriage with Imelda Soriano. The community in which all courts throughout the country.
they have been living in fact elected him and served as
President of the IBP-Bulacan Chapter from 1997-1999 SO ORDERED.