You are on page 1of 14

LEGAL ETHICS CASES

(Case Digest)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#1 :Cayetano vs. Monsod201 SCRA 210September 1991

Facts:Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C.


Aquino to the position of chairman of the COMELEC. Petitioner opposed the
nomination because allegedly Monsod does not posses required qualification
of having been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. The
1987 constitution provides in Section 1, Article IX-C: There shall be a
Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six Commissioners
who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their
appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, holders of a college degree,
and must not have been candidates for any elective position in the
immediately preceding elections. However, a majority thereof, including the
Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten years.

Issue: Whether the respondent does not posses the required qualification of
having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.

Held: In the case of Philippine Lawyers Association vs. Agrava, stated: The
practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it
embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions
and special proceeding, the management of such actions and proceedings on
behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveying. In
general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in matters
connected with the law incorporation services, assessment and
condemnation services, contemplating an appearance before judicial body,
the foreclosure of mortgage, enforcement of a creditors claim in bankruptcy
and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in attachment, and
in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to constitute law
practice. Practice of law means any activity, in or out court, which requires
the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience.

The contention that Atty. Monsod does not posses the required qualification
of having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years is incorrect
since Atty. Monsods past work experience as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-
manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts,
and a lawyer-legislator of both rich and the poor verily more than satisfy
the constitutional requirement for the position of COMELEC chairman, The
respondent has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years
does In the view of the foregoing, the petition is DISMISSED.
*** The Supreme Court held that the appointment of Monsod is in accordance
with the requirement of law as having been engaged in the practice of law
for at least ten years. Monsods past work experiences as a lawyer-
economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer
negotiator of contracts and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the poor
verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement that he has been
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. Again, in the case of
Philippine Lawyers Association vs. Agrava, the practice of law is not limited
to the conduct of cases and litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of
pleadings and other papers incident to actions and social proceedings and
other similar work which involves the determination by a legal mind the legal
effects of facts and conditions.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#2: PHILIPPINE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION VS. CELEDONIO AGRAVA,


in his capacity as Director of the Philippines Patent Office

FACTS:A petition was filed by the petitioner for prohibition and injunction
against Celedonio
Agrava, in his capacity as Director of the Philippines Patent Office. On May
27, 1957, respondent
Director issued a circular announcing that he had scheduled for June 27,
1957 an examination for
the purpose of determining who are qualified to practice as patent attorneys
before the
Philippines Patent Office. The petitioner contends that one who has passed
the bar examinations
and is licensed by the Supreme Court to practice law in the Philippines and
who is in good
standing, is duly qualified to practice before the Philippines Patent Office and
that the respondent
Directors holding an examination for the purpose is in excess of his
jurisdiction and is in violation
of the law.
The respondent, in reply, maintains the prosecution of patent cases does
not involve entirely or purely the practice of law but includes the application
of scientific and technical knowledge and training as a matter of actual
practice so as to include engineers and other individuals who passed the
examination can practice before the Patent office. Furthermore, he stressed
that for the long time he is holding tests, this is the first time that his right
has been questioned formally.
ISSUE:Whether or not the appearance before the patent Office and the
preparation and the
prosecution of patent application, etc., constitutes or is included in the
practice of law.

HELD:The Supreme Court held that the practice of law includes such
appearance before the
Patent Office, the representation of applicants, oppositors, and other
persons, and the
prosecution of their applications for patent, their opposition thereto, or the
enforcement of their
rights in patent cases. Moreover, the practice before the patent Office
involves the interpretation and application of other laws and legal principles,
as well as the existence of facts to be established in accordance with the law
of evidence and procedure. The practice of law is not limited to the conduct
of cases or litigation in court but also embraces all other matters connected
with the law and any work involving the determination by the legal mind of
the legal effects of facts and conditions. Furthermore, the law provides that
any party may appeal to the Supreme Court from any final order or decision
of the director. Thus, if the transactions of business in the Patent Office
involved exclusively or mostly technical and scientific knowledge and
training, then logically, the appeal should be taken not to a court or judicial
body, but rather to a board of
scientists, engineers or technical men, which is not the case.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#3 ALAWI V ALAUYA

PARTIES
ALAWI, sales rep of E.B. Villarosa
ALAUYA, incumbent executive clerk of court
FACTS
Through ALAWIS agency, a contract was executed for the purchase on
installments by ALAUYA of a housing unit
A housing loan was also granted to ALAUYA by the National Home
Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC)
Subsequently, ALAUYA wrote a letter to the President of Villarosa advising
termination of his contract on the grounds that his consent was vitiated by
gross misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, dishonesty and abuse of confidence
by ALAWI and proceeded to expound using acerbic language
A copy of the letter, which bore no stamps, was sent to the VP of Villarosa
ALAUYA also wrote the NHMFC repudiating as void his contract with
Villarosa and asking for cancellation of his loan
Finally, ALAUYA wrote 3 other letters to officers of the SC to stop
deductions from his salary regarding the loan from NHMFC
NHMFC also wrote the SC requesting it to stop said deductions
Learning of the letters, ALAWI filed a complaint alleging that ALAUYA
o Committed malicious and libelous charges
o Usurped the title of attorney

ISSUEW/N ALAUYA VIOLATED THE CODE OF CONDUCT AND ETHICAL


STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES

HELDYES, PARTICULARLY SECTION 4

RATIO
Section 4 public officials and employees at all times respect the rights of
others, and refrain from doing acts contrary to law, public order, public
safety and public interest
ALAUYA, being a member of the Sharia Bar and an officer of the Court,
may not use language which is abusive, offensive, scandalous, menacing or
otherwise improper
His radical deviation from these norms cannot be excused

ISSUEW/N ALAUYA BEING A MEMBER OF THE SHARIA BAR CAN USE THE
TITLE ATTORNEY

HELDNO, RESERVED ONLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN ADMITTED AS


MEMBERS OF THE INTEGRATED BAR

RATIO
Court has already had an occasion to declare that persons who pass the
Sharia Bar are not full-fledged members of the Philippine Bar and may
practice law only before Sharia courts
ALAUYAS wish of not using counsellor because of confusion with
councilor is immaterial because disinclination to use said title does not
warrant his use of the title attorney

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#4 AGUIRRE vs. RANA

FACTS:
Respondent Edwin L. Rana was among those who passed the 2000 Bar
Examinations. Respondent, while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel for a
candidate in the May 2001 elections before the Municipal Board of Election
Canvassers of Mandaon, Masbate and filed with the MBEC a pleading dated
19 May 2001 entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of
Votes in some Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor. In this pleading,
respondent represented himself as "counsel for and in behalf of Vice
Mayoralty Candidate, George Bunan," and signed the pleading as counsel for
George Bunan. Furthermore, respondent also signed as counsel for Emily
Estipona-Hao on 19 May 2001 in the petition filed before the MBEC praying
for the proclamation of Estipona-Hao as the winning candidate for mayor of
Mandaon, Masbate. On 21 May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass
oath-taking of successful bar examinees as members of the Philippine Bar,
complainant Donna Marie Aguirre filed against respondent a Petition for
Denial of Admission to the Bar. On 22 May 2001, respondent was allowed to
take the lawyers oath but was disallowed from signing the Roll of Attorneys
until he is cleared of the charges against him.

ISSUE:
Whether or not respondent shall be denied Admission to the Bar.

RULING:
Respondent was engaged in the practice of law when he appeared in the
proceedings before the MBEC and filed various pleadings, without license to
do so. Evidence clearly supports the charge of unauthorized practice of law.
Respondent called himself "counsel" knowing fully well that he was not a
member of the Bar. Having held himself out as "counsel" knowing that he
had no authority to practice law, respondent has shown moral unfitness to be
a member of the Philippine Bar.

The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is a


privilege. It is limited to persons of good moral character with special
qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of this privilege
presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational
attainment, and even public trust since a lawyer is an officer of the court. A
bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by passing
the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can be withheld
even from one who has passed the bar examinations, if the person seeking
admission had practiced law without a license. True, respondent here passed
the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the lawyers oath. However, it is the
signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a full-fledged lawyer.
The fact that respondent passed the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing
the bar is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law.
Respondent should know that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer
still had to be performed, namely: his lawyers oath to be administered by
this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys. J
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#5 IN RE: PETITION TO SIGN IN THE ROLL OF ATTORNEYS


BM No. 2540 September 24, 2013

Statement of Facts:
Petitioner Michael Medado, who obtained his law degree in the year 1979,
took and passed the same years bar examinations and took the Attorneys
Oath, failed to sign the Attorneys Roll. After more than 30 years of practicing
the profession of law, he filed the instant Petition on February 2012, praying
that he be allowed to sign in the Roll of Attorneys. Medado said that he was
not able to sign the Roll of Attorneys because he misplaced the notice given
to him and he believed that since he had already taken the oath, the signing
of the Roll of Attorneys is not urgent, nor as crucial to his status as a lawyer.

The Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) after conducting clarificatory


conference on the matter recommended to the Supreme Court that the
instant petition be denied for petitioners gross negligence, gross misconduct
and utter lack of merit.

Issue:
WON the petitioner be allowed to sign in the roll of attorneys?

Ruling:
Yes, the Court allowed the petitioner to sign the Roll of Attorneys subject to
the payment of a fine and the imposition of a penalty equivalent to
suspension from the practice of law.
The Court cannot forbid the petitioner from signing the Roll of Attorneys
because such action constitutes disbarment. Such penalty is reserved to the
most serious ethical transgressions of members of the Bar.

The Court cited three main points which demonstrate Medados worth to
become a full-fledged member of the Philippine Bar. First, Medado
demonstrated good faith and good moral character when he finally filed the
instant Petition to Sign in the Roll of Attorneys. It was Medado himself who
admitted his own error and not any third person. Second, petitioner has not
been subject to any action for disqualification from the practice of law. He
strove to adhere to the strict requirements of the ethics of the profession and
that he has prima facie shown that he possesses the character required to be
a member of the Philippine Bar. Third, Medado appears to have been a
competent and able legal practitioner, having held various positions at the
Laurel Law Office, Petron, Petrophil Corporation, the Philippine National Oil
Company, and the Energy Development Corporation.
However, the Court cannot fully free Medado from all liability for his years of
inaction. His justification of his action, that it was neither willful nor
intentional but based on a mistaken belief and an honest error of judgment
was opposed by the Court.

A mistake of law cannot be utilized as a lawful justification, because


everyone is presumed to know the law and its consequences. Although an
honest mistake of fact could be used to excuse a person from the legal
consequences of his acts he could no longer claim it as a valid justification by
the moment he realized that what he had signed was merely an attendance
record. His action of continuing the practice of law in spite of his knowledge
of the need to take the necessary steps to complete all requirements for the
admission to the bar constitutes unauthorized practice of law. Such action
transgresses Canon 9 of 'the Code of Professional Responsibility, which
provides:

CANON 9 - A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, assist in the unauthorized


practice of law.
With respect to the penalty, previous violations of Canon 9 have warranted
the penalty of suspension from the practice of law. However, in the instant
case the Court could not warrant the penalty of suspension from the practice
of law to Medado because he is not yet a full-fledged lawyer. Instead, the
Court see it fit to impose upon him a penalty similar to suspension by
allowing him to sign in the Roll of Attorneys one ( 1) year after receipt of the
Resolution and to fine him in the amount of P32,000.

The instant Petition to Sign in the Roll of Attorneys is Affirmed. Petitioner


Michael A. Medado is ALLOWED to sign in the Roll of Attorneys ONE (1) YEAR
after receipt of the Resolution. Petitioner is likewise ORDERED to pay a FINE
of P32,000 for his unauthorized practice of law. During the one year period,
petitioner is NOT ALLOWED to practice law, and is STERNLY WARNED that
doing any act that constitutes practice of law before he has signed in the Roll
of Attorneys will be dealt with severely by the Court.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#6 Petition for Leave To Resume Practice of Law, Benjamin M. Dacanay


B.M. No. 1678 December 17, 2007

Facts: Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He


practiced law until he migrated to Canada in December 1998 to seek medical
attention for his ailments. He subsequently applied for Canadian citizenship
to avail of Canadas free medical aid program. His application was approved
and he became a Canadian citizen in May 2004.
On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship Retention
and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003), petitioner reacquired his Philippine
citizenship. On that day, he took his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen
before the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he
returned to the Philippines and now intends to resume his law practice.

Issue: Whether or not petitioner lost his membership in the bar when he
gave up his Philippine citizenship.

Holding: The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the
Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by
law. Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar, loss
thereof terminates membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the
privilege to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino
citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice law in the
Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to foreigners.

The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization


as a citizen of another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA
9225. This is because "all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another
country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under
the conditions of [RA 9225]." Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a
citizen of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine
citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also
deemed never to have terminated his membership in the Philippine bar, no
automatic right to resume law practice accrues.

Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the


Philippines and he reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions
"(he) shall apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage
in such practice." Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino
citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first
secure from this Court the authority to do so, conditioned on:

(a) the updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues in the
IBP;
(b) the payment of professional tax;
(c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing legal
education; this is specially significant to refresh the applicant/petitioners
knowledge of Philippine laws and update him of legal developments and
(d) the retaking of the lawyers oath which will not only remind him of his
duties and responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court, but also
renew his pledge to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

The Court granted the petition subject to compliance with the conditions
stated above and submission of proof of such compliance to the Bar
Confidant, after which he may retake his oath as a member of the Philippine
bar.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#7 IN RE: PETITION TO RE-ACQUIRE THE PRIVILEGE TO PRACTICE LAW IN THE


PHILIPPINES, EPIFANIO B. MUNESES, Petitioner.
IN RE EPIFANIO MUNESES
(Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship)
B.M. No. 2112

Keywords:
Petitioner Epifanio B. Muneses became a lawyer in 1966 but acquired
American citizenship in 1981
Restored citizenship in 2006 by virtue of RA 9225
A Filipino lawyer who re-acquires citizenship remains to be a member
of the Philippine Bar but must apply for a license or permit to engage in law
practice.

On June 8, 2009, petitioner Epifanio B. Muneses with the Office of the Bar
Confidant (OBC) praying that he be granted the privilege to practice law in
the Philippines.
Petitioner became a member of the IBP in 1966 but lost his privilege to
practice law when he became a American citizen in 1981. In 2006, he re-
acquired his Philippine citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 or the Citizenship
Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003 by taking his oath of allegiance as
a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate in Washington, D.C. He
intends to retire in the Philippines and if granted, to resume the practice of
law.

The Court reiterates that Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to


the bar and is, in fact, a continuing requirement for the practice of law. The
loss thereof means termination of the petitioners membership in the bar;
ipso jure the privilege to engage in the practice of law. Under R.A. No. 9225,
natural-born citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of
their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are deemed to have re-
acquired their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the
Republic. Thus, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country
and later re-acquires his Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225, remains
to be a member of the Philippine Bar. However, as stated in Dacanay, the
right to resume the practice of law is not automatic. R.A. No. 9225 provides
that a person who intends to practice his profession in the Philippines must
apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such
practice.
Thus, in pursuance to the qualifications laid down by the Court for the
practice of law, the OBC required, and incompliance thereof, petitioner
submitted the following:

1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship;


2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship);
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines;
4. Certificate of Re-Acquisition/Retention of Philippine Citizenship issued by
the Bureau of Immigration, in lieu of the IC;
5. Certification dated May 19, 2010 of the IBP-Surigao City
Chapter attesting to his good moral character as well as his updated
payment of annual membership dues;
6. Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) for the year 2010;
7. Certificate of Compliance with the MCLE for the 2nd compliance period;
and
8. Certification dated December 5, 2008 of Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos,
Coordinator, UC-MCLE Program,
University of Cebu, College of Law attesting to his compliance with the MCLE.

The OBC further required the petitioner to update his compliance,


particularly with the MCLE. After all the requirements were satisfactorily
complied with and finding that the petitioner has met all the qualifications,
the OBC recommended that the petitioner be allowed to resume his practice
of law.

WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Epifanio B. Muneses is hereby


GRANTED, subject to the condition that he shall re-take the Lawyer's Oath on
a date to be set by the Court and subject to the payment of appropriate fees.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#8 Javellana vs. DILG

Facts:
This petition for review on certiorari involves the right of a public official to
engage inthe practice of his profession while employed in the Government.
Attorney Erwin B. Javellanawas an elected City Councilor of Bago City, Negros
Occidental. City Engineer Ernesto C.Divinagracia filed Administrative Case
No. C-10-90 against Javellana for: (1) violation of Department of Local
Government (DLG) Memorandum Circular No. 80-38 dated June 10, 1980in
relation to DLG Memorandum Circular No. 74-58 and of Section 7, paragraph
b, No. 2 of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the "Code of Conduct
and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees," and (2) for
oppression, misconduct and abuse of authority.Divinagracia's complaint
alleged that Javellana, an incumbent member of the City Council or
Sanggunian Panglungsod of Bago City, and a lawyer by profession, has
continuously engaged inthe practice of law without securing authority for
that purpose from the Regional Director,Department of Local Government, as
required by DLG Memorandum Circular No. 80-38 inrelation to DLG
Memorandum Circular No. 74-58 of the same department.On the other hand,
Javellana filed a Motion to Dismiss the administrative case againsthim on the
ground mainly that DLG Memorandum Circulars Nos. 80-38 and 90-81
areunconstitutional because the Supreme Court has the sole and exclusive
authority to regulate the practice of law

Held:
Petitioner's contention that Section 90 of the Local Government Code of 1991
and DLGMemorandum Circular No. 90-81 violate Article VIII, Section 5 of the
Constitution iscompletely off tangent. Neither the statute nor the circular
trenches upon the Supreme Court's power and authority to prescribe rules on
the practice of law. The Local Government Code andDLG Memorandum
Circular No. 90-81 simply prescribe rules of conduct for public officials
toavoid conflicts of interest between the discharge of their public duties and
the private practice of their profession, in those instances where the law
allows it.Section 90 of the Local Government Code does not discriminate
against lawyers anddoctors. It applies to all provincial and municipal officials
in the professions or engaged in anyoccupation. Section 90 explicitly
provides that sanggunian members "may practice their professions, engage
in any occupation, or teach in schools expect during session hours." If
thereare some prohibitions that apply particularly to lawyers, it is because of
all the professions, the practice of law is more likely than others to relate to,
or affect, the area of public service

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#9 WILFREDO M. CATU vs. ATTY. VICENTE G. RELLOSA


A.C. No. 5738, February 19, 2008

Facts.
Petitioner initiated a complaint against Elizabeth Catu and Antonio Pastor
who were occupying one of the units in a building in Malate which was owned
by the former. The said complaint was filed in the
Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay 723, Zone 79 of the 5th District of Manila
where Respondent was the
punong barangay. The parties, having been summoned for conciliation
proceedings and failing to arrive at an amicable settlement, were issued by
the respondent a certification for the filing of the appropriate action in court.
Petitioner, thus, filed a complaint for ejectment against Elizabeth and Pastor
in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila where respondent entered his
appearance as counsel for the defendants. Because of this, petitioner filed
the instant administrative complaint against the respondent on the ground
that he committed an act of impropriety as a lawyer and as a public officer
when he stood as counsel for the defendants despite the fact that he
presided over the conciliation proceedings between the litigants as punong
barangay.

In his defense, respondent claimed that as punong barangay, he performed


his task without bias and that he acceded to Elizabeths request to handle
the case for free as she was financially distressed.

The complaint was then referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
where after evaluation, they found sufficient ground to discipline respondent.
According to them, respondent violated Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and, as an elective official, the prohibition under Section 7(b)
(2) of RA6713. Consequently, for the violation of the latter prohibition,
respondent committed a breach of Canon 1. Respondent was then
recommended for suspension from the practice of law.

Issue. Whether or not Atty. Rellosa violated the Code of Professional


Responsibility.

Ruling. Yes.

A civil service officer or employee whose responsibilities do not require his


time to be fully at the disposal of the government can engage in the private
practice of law only with the written permission of the head of the
department concerned in accordance with Section 12, Rule XVIII of the
Revised Civil Service Rules.

Notwithstanding all of these, respondent still should have procured a prior


permission or authorization from the head of his Department, as required by
civil service regulations. For this failure, responded violated his oath as a
lawyer, that is, to obey the laws, Rule 1.01, CPR and, for not complying with
the ethical standards of the legal profession, Canon 7, CPR.

Respondent was found GUILTY of professional misconduct, SUSPENDED from


the practice of law and was strongly advised to look up and take to heart the
meaning of the word delicadeza.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------

#10 ATTY. EVELYN J. MAGNO V. ATTY. OLIVIA VELASCO-JACOBA


A.C. No. 6296, 22 November 2005, THIRD DIVISION (Garcia, J.)

Atty. Evelyn Magno (Magno) had a disagreement with her uncle, Lorenzo Inos
(inos) over a landscaping contract they had entered into. In order to set
things right, Magno addressed a letter, styled Sumbong to Bonifacio
Alcantara (Alcantara), their barangay captain. During the
conciliation/confrontation proceedings, Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba (Jacoba)
appeared for Inos, on the strength of a Special Power of Attorney, together
with Inos son, Lorenzito. When Magno objected to Jacobas appearance, the
latter said that she was there not as counsel, but only as attorney-in-fact.

However, Jacoba, according to Magnos evidence, acted as counsel during


the proceedings, asserting her procedural know-how into every stage
thereof, which made the proceedings drag on longer than normal. It was
because of these numerous instances that Magno charged Jacoba with willful
violation of the Local Government Code and the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba is guilty of violating the


Code of Professional Responsibility

HELD:

Jacoba alleged that the administrative complaint was filed with the Office of
the Punong Barangay, instead of before the Lupong Tagapamayapa, and
heard by Punong Barangay Bonifacio Alcantara alone, instead of the collegial
Lupon or a conciliation panel known as pangkat. Prescinding from this
premise, she submits that the prohibition against a lawyer appearing to
assist a client in katarungan pambarangay proceedings does not apply.
Further, she argued that her appearance was not as a lawyer, but only as an
attorney-in-fact.

The rationale behind the personal appearance requirement in the LGC is to


enable the lupon to secure first hand and direct information about the facts
and issues, the exception being in cases where minors or incompetents are
parties. There can be no quibbling that laymen of goodwill can easily agree
to conciliate and settle their disputes between themselves without what
sometimes is the unsettling assistance of lawyers whose presence could
sometimes obfuscate and confuse issues. Worse still, the participation of
lawyers with their penchant to use their analytical skills and legal knowledge
tend to prolong instead of expedite settlement of the case.

The prohibition against the presence of a lawyer in a barangay conciliation


proceedings was not, to be sure, lost on respondent. Her defense that the
aforequoted Section 415 of the LGC does not apply since complainant
addressed her Sumbong to the barangay captain of Brgy. San Pascual who
thereafter proceeded to hear the same is specious at best. In this regard,
suffice it to state that complainant wrote her Sumbong with the end in view
of availing herself of the benefits of barangay justice. That she addressed her
Sumbong to the barangay captain is really of little moment since the latter
chairs the Lupong Tagapamayapa.

Given the above perspective, the Supreme Court joins the IBP Commission
on Bar Discipline in its determination that respondent transgressed the
prohibition prescribed in Section 415 of the LGC. However, its recommended
penalty of mere admonition must have to be modified. Doubtless,
respondents conduct tended to undermine the laudable purpose of the
katarungan pambarangay system. What compounded matters was when
respondent repeatedly ignored complainants protestation against her
continued appearance in the barangay conciliation proceedings.