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A.C. No.

8243 July 24, 2009


ROLANDO B. PACANA JR (Complainant) Vs. ATTY. MARICEL
PASCUAL-LOPEZ (Respondent)

FACTS

Pacana was the operations director for Multitel Communications


Corporation (MCC) which changed its name to Precedent
Communications (Precedent). Multitel was besieged by demand
letters from its members and investors because of the failure of
its investment schemes. Pacana alleged that he earned the ire of
Multitel investors after becoming the assignee of majority of the
shares of stock of Precedent and after being appointed as trustee
of a fund amounting to Php30,000,000 deposited at Real Bank.
Pacana sought advice from Atty Pascual who happened to be in
the same religious organization as he is. Complainant and
respondent constantly communicated with complainant disclosing
all his involvement and interests in Precedent and its relation with
Multitel. Respondent not only gave legal advice to complainant
but also helped him prepare standard quitclaims for creditors.

In sum, complainant avers that a lawyer-client relationship was


established although no formal agreement was established that
time. Although a retainer agreement was made by Atty Pascual,
complainant did not agree to it because he found the proposed
fees to be prohibitive and not within his means. After a few
weeks, complainant was surprised to receive a demand letter
from respondent asking for the return and immediate settlement
of the funds invested by respondents clients in Multitel. When
complainant confronted respondent about the demand letter, the
latter explained that she had to send it so that her clients
defrauded investors of Multitel would know that she was doing
something for them and assured complainant that there was
nothing to worry about.

Both parties continued to communicate and exchange


information regarding the persistent demands made by Multitel
investors against Pacana. Pacana even agreed to pay respondent
Php 900,000, Php 1,000,000 acquired from Precedents collections
for safekeeping. Even when complainant went to the US,
respondent continued to send several text messages and e-mails
regarding the matter and complainant continued to send money,
deed of sales and assignments in favor of respondent. After
sometime, complainant was advised by his family to hire another
lawyer since they became wary that respondent may not be able
to handle his legal problems.
When respondent new about this, she wrote to complainant via
email, as follows:

Dear Butchie,
Sorry of I shocked you but I had to do it as your
friend and lawyer. I have been informed by Efie
that your family is looking to hiring Coco Pimentel... I
have no problem if you hire him but I will be
hands off. I work differently kasi I have to work
quietly and discreetly Efren Santos will sign as
your lawyer although I will do all the work
Please do not worry. Give me 3 months to make it
all disappear. But if you hire Coco, I will give him
the free hand to work with your case I will
stand by you always. This is my expertise

Complainant alleges the following violations of the


respondent lawyer

1.) About a month after complainants arrival in the


Philippines, respondent and complainant personally met.
Respondent told complainant that she has already
accumulated Php 12,500,000.00 as attorneys fees and
was willing to give Php 2,000,000.00 to complainant in
appreciation for his help. Complainant accepted
respondents offer but respondent failed to fulfill her
promise.
2.) Months after, complainant noticed that respondent was
evading him. Fed up and dismayed with respondents
arrogance and evasiveness, complainant wrote
respondent a letter formally asking for a full accounting of
all money, documents and properties given to the latter.
Unsatisfied with the responses, complainant decided to
file an affidavit complaint against respondent before the
IBP seeking respondents disbarment.

Respondent raises the following contentions

1.) respondent vehemently denied being the lawyer for


Precedent. She maintained that no formal engagement
was executed between her and complainant|||
2.) Respondent insisted that she represented the group of
investors of Multitel and that she merely mediated in the
settlement of the claims her clients had against the
complainant.||
3.) She also averred that the results of the settlement
between both parties were fully documented and
accounted for. Respondent believes that her act in helping
complainant resolve his legal problem did not violate any
ethical standard
4.) respondent also questioned the admissibility of the
electronic evidence submitted by complainant to the IBP's
Commission on Bar Discipline. Respondent maintained
that the e-mail and the text messages allegedly sent by
respondent to complainant were of doubtful authenticity
and should be excluded as evidence|||

ISSUE

Whether or not an attorney client relationship existed?


Whether or not Atty Pascual- Lopez committed acts constituting
conflict of interest violating rule 15.03 of the code of professional
responsibility?

IBP RESOLUTION

IBP Investigating Commissioner Patrick M. Velez issued a


Report and Recommendation finding that a lawyer-client
relationship was established between respondent and
complainant despite the absence of a written contract
The Investigating Commissioner also declared that
respondent violated her duty to be candid, fair and loyal to
her client when she allowed herself to represent conflicting
interests and failed to render a full accounting of all the cash
and properties entrusted to her

Supreme Court affirms findings of IBP.

Rule 15.03 - A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests


except by written consent of all concerned given after full
disclosure of the facts.

Respondent must have known that her act of constantly and


actively communicating with complainant, who, at that time, was
beleaguered with demands from investors of Multitel, eventually
led to the establishment of a lawyer-client relationship.
Respondent cannot shield herself from the inevitable
consequences of her actions by simply saying that the assistance
she rendered to complainant was only in the form of friendly
accommodation, precisely because at the time she was giving
assistance to complainant, she was already privy to the cause of
the opposing parties who had been referred to her by the SEC.

Although respondent tried to disprove the existence of such


relationship by arguing that no written contract for the
engagement of her services was ever forged between her and
complainant. This argument all the more reveals respondents
patent ignorance of fundamental laws on contracts and of basic
ethical standards expected from an advocate of justice.

The IBP was correct when it said:


The absence of a written contract will not preclude the
finding that there was a professional relationship
between the parties. Documentary formalism is not
an essential element in the employment of an
attorney; the contract may be express or
implied. To establish the relation, it is sufficient that
the advice and assistance of an attorney is sought and
received in any matter pertinent to his profession

Given the situation, the most decent and ethical thing which
respondent should have done was either to advise complainant to
engage the services of another lawyer since she was already
representing the opposing parties, or to desist from acting as
representative of Multitel investors and stand as counsel for
complainant. She cannot be permitted to do both because that
would amount to double-dealing and violate our ethical rules on
conflict of interest.

In Hornilla v. Atty. Salunat, there is conflict of interest when:


o (1) Whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the
lawyers duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his
duty to oppose it for the other client.
o (2) The acceptance of the new retainer will require the
attorney to perform an act which will injuriously affect
his first client in any matter in which he represents him
and also whether he will be called upon in his new
relation to use against his first client any knowledge
acquired through their connection.
o (3) Whether the acceptance of a new relation will
prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty
of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite
suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the
performance thereof.
Indubitably, respondent took advantage of complainants
hapless situation, initially, by giving him legal advice and,
later on, by soliciting money and properties from him.
Thereafter, respondent impressed upon complainant that she
had acted with utmost sincerity in helping him divest all the
properties entrusted to him in order to absolve him from any
liability. But simultaneously, she was also doing the same
thing to impress upon her clients, the party claimants
against Multitel, that she was doing everything to reclaim
the money they invested with Multitel.

o This not only violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of


Professional Responsibility, but also toyed with decency
and good taste.

WHEREFORE, respondent Attorney Maricel Pascual-Lopez is


hereby DISBARRED|||
A.C. No. 7036 June 29, 2009

JUDGE LILY LYDIA A. LQUINDANUM (Complainant) vs. ATTY


NESTOR Q. QUINTANA (Respondent)

FACTS:
An administrative case was filed by Judge Laquindanum of
the Regional Trial Court of Midsayap, Cotabato against Atty
Quintana, requesting that proper disciplinary action should be
imposed on the latter for the following reasons:

Complainant Alleges the following


he performed notarial functions in Midsayap Cotabato, which is
beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the commissioning court that
issued his notarial commission which is within Cotabato City and
the Province of Maguindanao only;

(1) AM No. 03-8-02-SC states that executive judges are


required to closely monitor the activities of notaries public
within the territorial bounds of their jurisdiction and to see to
it that notaries public shall not extend notarial functions
beyond the limits of their authority.

(2) Evidences: Notarized the Affidavit of Loss ATM Card and


Affidavit of Loss of Drivers License in Midsayap, Cotabato

(3) Complainant alleged that she did not act upon such
petition because he failed to pay his IBP dues which is a
requirement.

He performed notarial acts with an expired commission; Atty


Quintana continued to notarize documents in 2006 and 2007 even
if his commission as notary public within Cotabato City and the
Province of Maguindanao expired in December 31, 2005. he let his
wife do notarial acts in his absence;
Atty Quintana alleged that those documents notarized by his wife
within Midsayap, Cotabato was an entrapment operation by Judge
Laquindanum, knowing that his wife was not a lawyer. He
notarized a document wherein one of the signatories therein
already passed away that time. Evidence: Deed of Donation
notarized by Atty Quintana in 2004 when the donors wife, which
was one of the signatories, died in 2003.

Respondent avers that

1.) He maintained that he did not act outside the province


of Cotabato since Midsayap, Cotabato, where he practices
his legal profession and subscribes documents, is part of the
province of Cotabato
2.) Atty. Quintana alleged that he filed a petition for
notarial commission before Branch 18, Regional Trial Court,
Midsayap, Cotabato. However, the same was not acted upon
by Judge Laquindanum for three weeks
3.) He also denied the he authorized his wife to notarize
documents. According to him, he slapped his wife and told
her to stop doing it as it would ruin his profession|.
4.) Atty. Quintana lamented that he was singled out by
Judge Laquindanum, because the latter immediately issued
notarial commissions to other lawyers without asking for so
many requirements|||
5.) Atty. Quintana asked for forgiveness for what he had
done and promised not to repeat the same. He also asked
that he be given another chance and not be divested of his
privilege to notarize, as it was the only bread and butter of
his family.

ISSUES:
(1) Whether or not Atty Quintana, being a lawyer in good
standing, has the right to practice his profession including
notarial acts in the entire Philippines?
(2) Whether or not Atty Quintana can perform notarial acts
with an expired commission?
(3) Whether or not Atty Quintana can pass the blame to his
wife for her unauthorized practice of law- notarizing
documents?
(4) Whether or not Atty Quintana can notarize documents
despite one of the signatories being dead?

OBC ruling

In its Report and Recommendation, the OBC recommended that


Atty. Quintana be disqualified from being appointed as a notary
public for two (2) years; and that if his notarial commission still
exists, the same should be revoked for two (2) years. The OBC
found the defenses and arguments raised by Atty. Quintana to be
without merit,

(1) NO- Although lawyers in good standing are allowed to


engage in the practice of law in the Philippines, not every
lawyer even in good standing can perform notarial functions
without having been commissioned as notary public as
provided for under Section 11 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial
Practice. And it is also based on the discretion of the
commissioning court whether lawyer should be issued
notarial practice or not.

Section 11 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice states


that:
Jurisdiction and Term A person
commissioned as notary public may
perform notarial acts in any place within
the territorial jurisdiction of the
commissioning court for a period of two
(2) years commencing the first day of
January of the year in which the
commissioning court is made, unless
earlier revoked [or] the notary public
has resigned under these Rules and the
Rules of Court.

Aside from violating Section 11 of the 2004


Rules on Notarial Pratice, this also partakes of
malpractice of law and falsification as stated
in Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which talks about the lawyers
oath which unconditionally requires lawyers
not to do or declare any falsehood. Thus,
respondent may perform his notarial acts
only within the territorial jurisdiction of the
commissioning court of Cotabato City and the
Province of Maguindanao and not in Midsayap
or Kabacan which is part of Cotabato Province
located in North Cotabato or anywhere
beyond.

(2) NO- Notarizing documents with an expired commission


is a violation of the lawyers oath to obey the laws, more
specifically, the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. Since the
public is deceived into believing that he has been duly
commissioned, it also amounts to indulging in deliberate
falsehood, which the lawyer's oath proscribes as stated in
the Code of Professional responsibility Rule 1.01.

(3) NO- Respondent cannot take refuge in claiming that he


did not authorize his wife to notarize thus it was his wife's
act. A person who is commissioned as a notary public must
not only take full responsibility for all the entries in his
notarial register , but also take personally accountability for
the activities in his office and acts of his personnel including
his wife who is his secretary.
Respondent therefore is guilty of violating Canon 9 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, which requires lawyers
not to directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized
practice of law.
In the case of Lingan v. Calubaquib et al., Adm. Case No.
5377, June 15, 2006 the Court held, thus: A notary public
is personally accountable for all entries in his notarial
register; He cannot relieve himself of this
responsibility by passing the buck to their (sic)
secretaries

(4) NO- Sec. 2, (b), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial


Practice provides, thus: A person
shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved
as signatory to the instrument or document (1) is not
in the notarys presence personally at the time of the
notarization; and (2) is not personally known to the
notary public through competent evidence of identity
as defined by these Rules.
In failing to determine the presence and qualifications of the
affiants, respondent only shows his gross negligence and
ignorance of the provisions of the 2004 Rules on Notarial
Practice.

The Supreme Court adopts the findings with adjustments to the


penalty
Atty. Quintana fell short of his obligation under Canon 7 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, which directs every lawyer to
uphold at all times the integrity and dignity of the legal profession

Although Atty Quintana relies on his notarial commission as his


sole source of income, this will not lessen the penalty. It should
be reminded that a notarial commission should not be treated as
money-making but a privilege to perform duties to protect public
interest such that only those qualified may act as such since
notarizing converts a private document into a public one
admissible in evidence without further proof of authenticity.

Atty Nestor Q. Quintana is being revoked and disqualified from


being commissioned as a notary public for a period of two (2)
years. He is also suspended from the practice of law for six (6)
months.

[A.C. No. 5338. February 23, 2009.]

EUGENIA MENDOZA, complainant, vs. ATTY.


VICTOR V. DECIEMBRE, respondent.

Facts:
Complainant, a mail sorter at the Central Post Office Manila,
averred that: On October 13, 1998, she borrowed from Rodela Loans,
Inc., through respondent, the amount of P20,000.00 payable in six
months at 20% interest, secured by 12 blank checks, with numbers
47253, 47256 to 47266, drawn against the Postal Bank.Although she
was unable to faithfully pay her obligations on their due dates, she
made remittances, however, to respondent's Metrobank account
from November 11, 1998 to March 15, 1999 in the total sum
of P12,910.00.Claiming that the amounts remitted were not enough to
cover the penalties, interests and other charges, respondent warned
complainant that he would deposit Postal Check No. 47253 filled up by
him on March 30, 1999 in the amount of P16,000.00. Afraid that
respondent might sue her in court, complainant made good said check
and respondent was able to encash the same on March 30,
1999. Thereafter, complainant made subsequent payments to the
Metrobank account of respondent from April 13, 1999 to October 15,
1999, thereby paying respondent the total sum of P35,690.00.

Complainant then alleges the following

1.) seeking the disbarment of Atty. Victor V. Deciembre


(respondent) for his acts of fraudulently filling up blank
postdated checks without her authority and using the
same for filing unfounded criminal suits against her.|||
2.) she borrowed from Rodela Loans, Inc., through
respondent, the amount of P20,000.00 payable in six
months at 20% interest, secured by 12 blank checks, with
numbers 47253, 47256 to 47266, drawn against the
Postal Bank
3.) respondent warned complainant that he would deposit
Postal Check No. 47253 filled up by him on March 30,
1999 in the amount of P16,000.00. Afraid that respondent
might sue her in court
4.) respondent filled up two of the postal checks she issued
in blank, Check Nos. 47261 and 47262 with the amount of
P50,000.00 each and with the dates January 15, 2000 and
January 20, 2000|||
5.) Complainant insisted however that she never borrowed
P100,000.00 from respondent and that it was unlikely that
respondent would lend her, a mail sorter with a basic
monthly salary of less than P6,000.00||

Respondent contests that

(1) respondent averred that his dealings with complainant


were done in his private capacity and not as a lawyer|
(2) it was complainant who deliberately deceived him by
not honoring her commitment to their November 15, 1999
transaction involving P100,000.00 and covered by two
checks which bounced for the reason "account closed"|||
(3) complainant filed the disbarment case against him to
get even with him for filing the estafa and B.P. Blg.
22 case against the former
(4) the truth was that the checks referred to were already
filled up when complainant affixed her signature
thereto;|||

IBP RULING
Yes- Commissioner Funa held that while it was difficult at first
to determine who between complainant and respondent was
telling the truth, in the end, respondent himself, with his own
contradicting allegations, showed that complainant's version
should be given more credence
Commissioner Funa also gave credence to complainant's claim
that it was respondent's modus operandi to demand a certain
amount as "settlement" for the dropping of estafa complaints
against his borrowers.IBP Board of Governors issued a resolution
adopting and approving Commissioner Funa's Report, but
modifying the penalty, as follows:|||

RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2007-219


Adm. Case No. 5338
Eugenia Mendoza vs. Atty. Victor V. Deciembre
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein
made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and,
finding the recommendation fully supported by the
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules,
and considering Respondent's gross misconduct and
for practically found guilty of committing the same set
of facts alleged in AC 5365, Atty. Victor V. Deciembre
is hereby SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY from the
practice of law to be served successively after the
lifting of Respondent's Indefinite Suspension.

Supreme Court:
The Court agrees with the findings of the IBP, but finds that
disbarment and not just indefinite suspension is in order The
fact that there is no attorney-client relationship in this case and
the transactions entered into by respondent were done in his
private capacity cannot shield respondent, as a lawyer, from
liability. A lawyer may be disciplined for acts committed even in
his private capacity for acts which tend to bring reproach on the
legal profession or to injure it in the favorable opinion of the
public In this case, evidence abounds that respondent has failed
to live up to the standards required of members of the legal
profession. Specifically, respondent has transgressed provisions of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit: IA
DCES
CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution,
obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
and legal processes.
Rule 1.01. A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
CANON 7 A lawyer shall at all times uphold the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession and
support the activities of the integrated bar.
Rule 7.03. A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
should he, whether in public or private life, behave in
a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.

As respondent's misconduct brings intolerable dishonor to


the legal profession, the severance of his privilege to practice
law for life is in order. WHEREFORE, Atty. Victor V. Deciembre is
hereby found GUILTY of GROSS MISCONDUCT and VIOLATION of
Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. He is DISBARRED from the practice
of law and his name is ordered stricken off the Roll of Attorneys
effective immediately.