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PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS bar cannot escape the disciplining arm of the Court.

This
Professor: Atty. Arnold Abejaron categorical pronouncement is aimed at unscrupulous members
of the bench and bar, to deter them from committing acts which
by Cid Benedict D. Pabalan (2016-2017) violate the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Code of
Judicial Conduct, or the Lawyers Oath. x x x

A. PRELIMINARIES Thus, even the lapse of considerable time from the commission
of the offending act to the institution of the administrative
1. Legal Ethics complaint will not erase the administrative culpability of a
lawyer.
It is a branch of moral science, which treats of the duties, which
an attorney owes to the courts, to his clients, to his colleagues 2. Conflict of Interests
in the profession, and to the public. (Justice George Malcom)
CANON 15 - A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR,
2. Lawyers Oath FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND
TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.
I, do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the
Republic of the Philippines, I will support the Constitution and Rule 15.01. - A lawyer, in conferring with a prospective client,
obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted shall ascertain as soon as practicable whether the matter would
authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the involve a conflict with another client or his own interest, and
doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote if so, shall forthwith inform the prospective client.
or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give aid nor
consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, Rule 15.03. - A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests
and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of except by written consent of all concerned given after a full
my knowledge and discretion, with all good fidelity as well to disclosure of the facts.
the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself these
voluntary obligations without any mental reservation or
purpose of evasion. So help me God. EN BANC
A.C. No. 6632. August 2, 2005
B. PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, INC., and BEN A.
NICOLAS, vs. Atty. MACARIO D. ARQUILLO,
1. Imprescriptibility of Disbarment
PANGANIBAN, J.
Proceedings
Northwestern University, Inc. and Mr. Ben A. Nicolas, accuses
EN BANC Atty. Macario D. Arquillo, of engaging in conflicting interest
A.C. No. 6656 May 4, 2006 in a case before the National Labor Relations Commission,
BOBIE ROSE V. FRIAS vs. ATTY. CARMELITA S. Regional Arbitration Branch No. 1, San Fernando, La Union.
BAUTISTA-LOZADA
Allegedly Atty. Arquillo appeared and acted as counsels for
Rule VIII, Section 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the CBD-IBP both complainants (eight out of the eighteen complainants
which provides for a prescriptive period for the filing of therein) and respondent (one out of the ten respondents
administrative complaints against lawyers runs afoul of the therein).
settled ruling of the Supreme Court. It is void and of no legal
effect for being ultra vires. For instance, a motion to dismiss was filed by Jose de Castro,
whose counsel was Atty. Arquillo. As the counsel of the
Prevailing: complainants, he had the duty to oppose the very same motion
to dismiss filed also by his client, Jose de Castro. Atty. Arquillo
An administrative complaint against a member of the bar does had the duty to prove the Complaint wrong but cannot do this
not prescribe. because he is also the counsel for the complainants.

If the rule were otherwise, members of the bar would be Issue:


emboldened to disregard the very oath they took as lawyers,
prescinding from the fact that as long as no private complainant Was there a conflict of interest?
would immediately come forward, they stand a chance of being
completely exonerated from whatever administrative liability
they ought to answer for. It is the duty of this Court to protect Ruling:
the integrity of the practice of law as well as the administration
of justice. No matter how much time has elapsed from the time Yes. The circumstances involving the motion to dismiss show
of the commission of the act complained of and the time of the the inconsistency. The inconsistency of interests is very clear.
institution of the complaint, erring members of the bench and The attorney in that situation will not be able to pursue, with
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 1
vigor and zeal, the clients claim against the other and to the judgment award in the amount of 30,000 pesos. However,
properly represent the latter in the unrelated action, or, if he Casar retained the award instead of handling it to the Sadiks. He
can do so, he cannot avoid being suspected by the defeated reasoned that he has the right to retain the same until he is paid
client of disloyalty or partiality in favor of the successful client. for his expenses pursuant to Sec. 37, Rule 138 of the Rules of
The foregoing considerations will strongly tend to deprive the Court. Thus, the Spouses Sadik charged Judge Abdallah Casar,
relation of attorney and client of those special elements which with misconduct and misappropriation.
make it one of trust and confidence.
It has to be noted that in the abovementioned specific
Representing conflicting interests is prohibited by the Code of performance case, Atty. Casar also deliberately, knowingly and
Professional Responsibility. Unless all the affected clients willfully agreed to procure a substitute witness, an impostor, to
written consent is given after a full disclosure of all relevant pose as claimant Makadaya Sadik and testify in the case. He
facts, attorneys guilty of representing conflicting interests shall even proposed that such witness be paid P5,000.00. And he
as a rule be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of actually presented such witness as Makadaya Sadik in that case
law. and that impostor is the Makadaya Sadik who is the
complainant in this case.

TESTS for presence of CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Issue

When a lawyer represents two or more opposing parties, Is the act of Judge Casar in serving as acounsel while already
there is a conflict of interests, the existence of which is an active municipal court judge a violation of the Code of
determined by three separate tests: Judicial Conduct and of the Lawyers Oath?

(1) when, in representation of one client, a lawyer is Ruling:


required to fight for an issue or claim, but is also duty-
bound to oppose it for another client; Yes. Respondent judge proved himself repeatedly unworthy of
his post.
(2) when the acceptance of the new retainer will require an
attorney to perform an act that may injuriously affect the The records show that even after he became judge, respondent
first client or, when called upon in a new relation, to use acted as counsel for herein complainants and misappropriated
against the first one any knowledge acquired through their the judgment award of P30,000.00 which rightfully belongs to
professional connection; or complainants. Moreover, respondent's line of defense revealed
a significant and deplorable flaw in his character. In hoping to
(3) when the acceptance of a new relation would prevent redeem himself, he categorically admitted that he deliberately,
the full discharge of an attorneys duty to give undivided knowingly and willfully agreed to handle a case involving a
fidelity and loyalty to the client or would invite suspicion of fraudulent insurance claim and in the process procured and
unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance of that presented false witnesses in court. Under the circumstances, this
duty. 1 Court is amazed at how brazen respondent has comported
himself and without compunction at leaving a "paper trail"
behind him.
EN BANC
A.M. No. MTJ-95-1053. January 2, 1997 He violated Rule 5:07 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which
SPOUSES MAKADAYA SADIK and USODAN SADIK states that 'A judge shall not engage in the private practice of
vs. JUDGE ABDALLAH CASAR law. He likewise violated the Attorney's Oath in agreeing to file
a civil case for the purpose of claiming the insurance proceeds
PER CURIAM from Grepalife despite his having been informed that the
insurance policy of Lekiya Paito was fraudulently applied for.
Judge Casar (respondent) represented Spouses Sadik as Agreeing to handle the claim said to have arisen from a
beneficiaries of Lekiya Paito when he was still in private fraudulent act against the insurer certainly speaks of a moral
practice. It was a case for specific performance in relation to flaw in his character.
Spouses Sadiks insurance claim.
It must be borne in mind that courts exist to dispense and to
When the court rendered judgment on the case, Casar was promote justice. However, the reality of justice depends, above
already a member of the judiciary, serving as the Presiding all, on the intellectual, moral and personal quality of the men
Judge of the 5th Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Kolambugan- and women who are called to serve as our judges.
Maigo (*Not the court handling the specific performance).
Nevertheless, Judge Casar continued to represent the Sadiks Indeed, to be effective in his role, a judge must be a man of
when the case was brought to the Court of Appeals and Supreme exceptional integrity and honesty. The special urgency for
Court. Eventually the Insurance Company agreed to pay to the requiring these qualities in a judge is not hard to understand for
Sadiks the judgment award. It was Judge Casar who received the judge acts directly upon the property, liberty, even life, of

1 Santos v. Beltran, 418 SCRA 17, December 11, 2003 as cited in the Northwestern case
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 2
his countrymen. Hence, being in a position of such grave not be waivable by consent in the usual way; the corporation
responsibility in the administration of justice, a judge must should be presumptively incapable of giving valid consent.
conduct himself in a manner befitting the dignity of such
exalted office. There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents
inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties.

A.C. No.5804. July 1, 2003 The test is "whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the
BENEDICTO HORNILLA and ATTY. FEDERICO D. lawyers duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to
RICAFORT vs. ATTY.ERNESTO S. SALUNAT oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client,
this argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the
other client."
Benedicto Hornilla and Federico Ricafort were members of the
Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA). In This rule covers not only cases in which confidential
1997, they accused the Board of Directors of PPSTA of communications have been confided, but also those in which
unlawfully spending the funds of PPSTA. However, since the no confidence has been bestowed or will be used.
PPSTA was not initiating a complaint against the Board of
Directors, the two then filed a suit on behalf of PPSTA against Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new
the Board of PPSTA. retainer will require the attorney to perform an act which will
injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he
In the said suit, the Board of Directors were represented by Atty. represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his
Ernesto Salunat. Hornilla et al were against the legal new relation to use against his first client any knowledge
representation being made by Salunat for and on behalf of the acquired through their connection.
Board of Directors because of the fact that Salunat is part of the
ASSA Law Office WHICH is also the retained law firm of the Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the
PPSTA. In short, Hornilla et. al alleged that there is conflict of acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the
interests. full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his
client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in
As mentioned by Atty. Abejaron: the performance thereof.

It has to be noted that this case involves a derivative suit. Where


corporate directors have committed a breach of trust either by A.C. No. 5098. April 11, 2012
their frauds, ultra vires acts, or negligence, and the corporation JOSEFINA M. ANION vs. ATTY. CLEMENCIO
is unable or unwilling to institute suit to remedy the wrong, a SABITSANA,JR
stockholder may sue on behalf of himself and other
stockholders and for the benefit of the corporation, to bring Aninon filed a disbarment case against Atty. Sabitsana.
about a redress of the wrong done directly to the corporation
and indirectly to the stockholders. This is what is known as a Atty Sabitsanas legal services were initially engaged by
derivative suit, and settled is the doctrine that in a derivative Josefina M. Anion (complainant) to protect her interest over a
suit, the corporation is the real party in interest while the certain property.
stockholder filing suit for the corporations behalf is only
nominal party. The corporation should be included as a party in The records show that upon the legal advice of Atty. Sabitsana,
the suit.
the Deed of Sale over the property was prepared and executed
in the complainants favor.
Issue:
Atty. Sabitsana met with Zenaida Caete to discuss the latters
1. Can a lawyer engaged by a corporation defend members of
legal interest over the property subject of the Deed of Sale. At
the board of the same corporation in a derivative suit?
that point, Atty. Sabitsana already had knowledge that Zenaida
Caetes interest clashed with the complainants interests.
Ruling:
Despite the knowledge of the clashing interests between his two
1. No. The possibility for conflict of interest here is universally clients, Atty. Sabitsana accepted the engagement from Zenaida
Caete.
recognized. Although early cases found joint representation
permissible where no conflict of interest was obvious, the
emerging rule is against dual representation in all derivative Atty. Sabitsanas actual knowledge of the conflicting interests
actions. Outside counsel must thus be retained to represent one between his two clients was demonstrated by his own actions:
of the defendants. The cases and ethics opinions differ on first, he filed a case against the complainant in behalf of Zenaida
whether there must be separate representation from the outset Caete; second, he impleaded the complainant as the defendant
or merely from the time the corporation seeks to take an active in the case; and third, the case he filed was for the annulment of
role. Furthermore, this restriction on dual representation should the Deed of Sale that he had previously prepared and executed
for the complainant.
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 3
RULE:
In a resolution dated February 27, 2004, the IBP Board of A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests
Governors resolved to adopt and approve the Report and
Recommendation of the IBP Commissioner after finding it to EXCEPTION:
be fully supported by the evidence on record and Respondent By written consent of all concerned given after a full
was suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year. disclosure of the facts.

Atty. Sabitsana moved to reconsider the above resolution, but *For the exception to apply, there must be a full disclosure
the IBP Board of Governors denied his motion. of the facts (that he will be representing a party which might
lead to a conflict of interest) to both of the clients.
Issue:

Whether Atty. Sabitsana is guilty of misconduct for A.C. No. 6664 July 16, 2013
representing conflicting interests FERDINAND A. SAMSON vs. ATTY. EDGARDO O.
ERA
Ruling:
The complainant and his relatives were among the investors
Yes. By his acts, not only did Atty. Sabitsana agree to represent who fell prey to the pyramiding scam perpetrated by ICS
one client against another client in the same action; he also Corporation led by Emilia Sison and several others. They
accepted a new engagement that entailed him to contend and engaged the services of Atty. Era to represent and assist him and
oppose the interest of his other client in a property in which his his relatives in the prosecution of criminal case against Sison
legal services had been previously retained. and her group.

The relationship between a lawyer and his/her client should Pursuant to the engagement, Atty. Era prepared the demand
ideally be imbued with the highest level of trust and confidence. letter demanding the return or refund of the money subject of
This is the standard of confidentiality that must prevail to their complaints. He also prepared the complaint-affidavit that
promote a full disclosure of the clients most confidential Samson signed and swore to and subsequently presented to the
information to his/her lawyer for an unhampered exchange of Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City (OCPQC). After
information between them. Needless to state, a client can only the preliminary investigation, the OCPQC formally charged
entrust confidential information to his/her lawyer based on an Sison and the others with several counts of estafa in the
expectation from the lawyer of utmost secrecy and discretion; Regional Trial Court, Branch 96 (RTC), in Quezon City.
the lawyer, for his part, is duty-bound to observe candor,
fairness and loyalty in all dealings and transactions with the In April 2003, Atty. Era called a meeting with Samson and his
client.6 Part of the lawyers duty in this regard is to avoid relatives to discuss the possibility of an amicable settlement
representing conflicting interests, a matter covered by Rule with Sison and her cohorts. He told Samson and the others that
15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility undergoing a trial of the cases would just be a waste of time,
quoted below: money and effort for them, and that they could settle the cases
with Sison and her group, with him guaranteeing the turnover
Rule 15.03. A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests to them of a certain property located in Antipolo City belonging
except by written consent of all concerned given after a full to ICS Corporation in exchange for their desistance. They
disclosure of the facts. acceded and executed the affidavit of desistance he prepared,
and in turn they received a deed of assignment covering land
"The proscription against representation of conflicting interests registered under Transfer Certificate of Title No. R-4475
applies to a situation where the opposing parties are present executed by Sison in behalf of ICS Corporation.
clients in the same action or in an unrelated action."
After an amicable settlement and several negotiations with
The prohibition also applies even if the "lawyer would not be Sison and her cohorts, Atty. Era expressed that he already
called upon to contend for one client that which the lawyer has accomplished his professional responsibility towards Samson.
to oppose for the other client, or that there would be no occasion They also later found out that they could not liquidate the
to use the confidential information acquired from one to the property subject to the amicable settlement. During the hearings
disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly in the RTC, Atty. Era did not anymore appear for Samson and
unrelated." his group. They found out that Atty. Era had already been
To be held accountable under this rule, it is "enough that the entering his appearance as the counsel for Sison in her other
opposing parties in one case, one of whom would lose the suit, criminal cases involving the same pyramiding scam.
are present clients and the nature or conditions of the lawyers
respective retainers with each of them would affect the On January 20, 2005, Samson executed an affidavit alleging the
performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to both clients." foregoing antecedents and prayed for Atty. Eras disbarment on
the ground of his violation of the trust, confidence and respect
reposed in him as their counsel.

By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 4


Atty. Era was required to file his Comment. After several
extensions, Atty. Era finally filed his Comment on April 11, Reason: the rule is grounded in the fiduciary obligation of
2006 in the OBC. He alleged that the lawyer-client relationship loyalty. The nature of their relationship is, therefore, one of
ended when Samson and his group entered into the compromise trust and confidence of the highest degree.
settlement.
A.C. No. 1359 October 17, 1991
Issue: GENEROSA BUTED and BENITO BOLISAY vs. ATTY.
HAROLD M. HERNANDO
Whether or not Atty. Era violated the Code of Professional
Responsibility on conflict of interests PER CURIAM

Ruling: (First case handled by Atty. Hernando)


Atty. Harold M. Hernando represented Luciana Abadilla and
Yes. The lawyer-client relationship did not terminate when the Angela Buted in a partition case. ultimately succeeded in
parties entered into a compromise settlement, for the fact defending Luciana Abadilla's claim of exclusive ownership
remained that he still needed to oversee the implementation of over Lot 9439-B. When Luciana died, respondent withdrew his
the settlement as well as to proceed with the criminal cases until appearance from that partition case.
they were dismissed or otherwise concluded by the trial court.
It is also relevant to indicate that the execution of a compromise (Second case handled)
settlement in the criminal cases did not ipso facto cause the It appears that Luciana Abadilla sold the lot to Benito Bolisay
termination of the cases not only because the approval of the and a new Transfer Certificate of Title over the lot was issued
compromise by the trial court was still required, but also in the name of Spouses Boiisay. When an action for specific
because the compromise would have applied only to the civil performance was lodged by a couple named Luis Sy and Elena
aspect, and excluded the criminal aspect pursuant to Article Sy against Benito Bolisay as one of the defendants, the latter
2034 of the Civil Code. retained the services of respondent. Atty. Hernando however
claims that he rendered his services to Benito Bolisay free of
Contrary to Atty. Eras ill-conceived attempt to explain his charge. Atty Hernando avers that the relationship between
disloyalty to Samson and his group, the termination of the himself and Benito Bolisay as regards this case was terminated
attorney-client relationship does not justify a lawyer to on 4 December 1969.
represent an interest adverse to or in conflict with that of the
former client. The spirit behind this rule is that the clients (Third Case handled)
confidence once given should not be stripped by the mere In 1974, Carlos, Dionisia and Francisco Abadilla, relatives of
expiration of the professional employment. Even after the Luciana Abadilla filed an action for the cancellation of the
severance of the relation, a lawyer should not do anything that Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) of Spouses Benito Bolisay
will injuriously affect his former client in any matter in which (cadastral proceeding), claiming that they were registered co-
the lawyer previously represented the client. Nor should the owners of the subject property. This time however, Atty.
lawyer disclose or use any of the clients confidences acquired Hernando represented Carlos, Dionisia and Francisco,
in the previous relation. In this regard, Canon 17 of the Code of questioning the validity of the very same title which he
Professional Responsibility expressly declares that: "A lawyer defended before as counsel for Luciana Abadilla, and later, for
owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful Spouses Bolisay.
of the trust and confidence reposed in him."
Issue:

Prohibition against conflict of interest rests on 5 rationales, Whether or not there is a conflict of interest
rendered as follows:
Ruling:
1st: the law seeks to assure clients that their lawyers
will represent them with undivided loyalty Yes. Though as between the first and second cases handled by
respondent, no conflict of interest existed, the same cannot be
2nd: the prohibition against conflicts of interest seeks to said with respect to the action for specific performance (second
enhance the effectiveness of legal representation case) and the cadastral proceeding (third case). By respondent's
own admission, he defended the right of ownership over Lot
3rd: a client has a legal right to have the lawyer 9439-B of complainant Benito Bolisay in the action for specific
safeguard the clients confidential information performance. He assailed this same right of ownership when he
4th: conflicts rules help ensure that lawyers will not subsequently filed a petition for cancellation of complainants'
exploit clients, such as by inducing a client to make a gift to Transfer Certificate of Title over that same lot. Respondent
the lawyer Hernando was in a conflict of interest situation.

5th: some conflict-of-interest rules protect interests of The contention of respondent is, in effect, that because
the legal system in obtaining adequate presentations to complainant has not clearly shown that respondent had obtained
tribunals. any confidential information from Benito Bolisay while
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 5
representing the latter in the action for specific performance, respondent to have refused handling her case only after she had
respondent cannot be penalized for representing conflicting already heard her secrets.
interests.
Continuing, complainant averred that her friendship with
That is not the rule in this jurisdiction. The rule here is, rather, respondent soured after her filing, in the later part of 2000, of
that the mere fact that respondent had acted as counsel for criminal and disciplinary actions against the latter. What, per
Benito Bolisay in the action for specific performance should complainant's account, precipitated the filing was when
have precluded respondent from acting or appearing as counsel respondent, then a member of the BFP promotion board,
for the other side in the subsequent petition for cancellation of demanded a cellular phone in exchange for the complainant's
the Transfer Certificate of Title of the spouses Generosa and promotion.
Benito Bolisay.
According to complainant, respondent, in retaliation to the
There is no necessity for proving the actual transmission of filing of the aforesaid actions, filed a COUNTER
confidential information to an attorney in the course of his COMPLAINT with the Ombudsman charging her
employment by his first client in order that he may be precluded (complainant) with violation of Section 3(a) of Republic Act
from accepting employment by the second or subsequent client No. 3019,4 falsification of public documents and immorality,
where there are conflicting interests between the first and the the last two charges being based on the disclosures
subsequent clients. complainant earlier made to respondent. And also on the basis
of the same disclosures, complainant further stated, a
An attorney is not permitted, in serving a new client as against disciplinary case was also instituted against her before the
a former one, to do anything which will injuriously affect the Professional Regulation Commission.
former client in any manner in which the attorney formerly
represented him, though the relation of attorney and client has Issue:
terminated, and the new employment is in a different case; nor
can the attorney use against his former client any knowledge or Does the rule on privileged communication apply?
information gained through their former connection.
Ruling:
The absence of monetary consideration does not exempt the Yes. As it were, complainant went to respondent, a lawyer who
lawyer from complying with the prohibition against pursuing incidentally was also then a friend, to bare what she considered
cases where a conflict of interest exists. The prohibition personal secrets and sensitive documents for the purpose of
attaches from the moment the attorney-client relationship is obtaining legal advice and assistance. The moment
established and extends beyond the duration of the professional complainant approached the then receptive respondent to seek
relationship. legal advice, a veritable lawyer-client relationship evolved
between the two. Such relationship imposes upon the lawyer
certain restrictions circumscribed by the ethics of the
3. Lawyer-Client Privilege/Rule on profession. Among the burdens of the relationship is that which
Privileged Communication enjoins the lawyer, respondent in this instance, to keep
inviolate confidential information acquired or revealed during
legal consultations. The fact that one is, at the end of the day,
Rule 15.02 A lawyer shall be bound by the rule on privilege not inclined to handle the client's case is hardly of
communication in respect of matters disclosed to him by a consequence. Of little moment, too, is the fact that no formal
prospective client. professional engagement follows the consultation. Nor will it
make any difference that no contract whatsoever was executed
A.C. No. 6711 July 3, 2007 by the parties to memorialize the relationship.
MA. LUISA HADJULA vs. ATTY. ROCELES F.
MADIANDA The essential factors to establish the existence of the
attorney-client privilege communication: (DEAN
Hadjula alleged that she and Madianda used to be friends as WIGMORE)
they both worked at the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)
whereat respondent was the Chief Legal Officer while she was (1) Where legal advice of any kind is sought
(2) from a professional legal adviser in his capacity as such,
the Chief Nurse of the Medical, Dental and Nursing Services.
Complainant claimed that, sometime in 1998, she approached (3) the communications relating to that purpose,
(4) made in confidence
respondent for some legal advice. Complainant further alleged
that, in the course of their conversationwhich was supposed to (5) by the client,
(6) are at his instance permanently protected
be kept confidential, she disclosed personal secrets and
produced copies of a marriage contract, a birth certificate and (7) from disclosure by himself or by the legal advisor,
(8) except the protection be waived.
a baptismal certificate, only to be informed later by the
respondent that she (respondent) would refer the matter to a
lawyer friend. It was malicious, so complainant states, of

By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 6


The purpose of the rule of confidentiality is to protect the Ruling:
client from possible breach of confidence as a result of a
consultation with a lawyer. There is none. The complainant failed to specifically allege the
confidential information she divulged to the respondent.

A.C. No. 5108 May 26, 2005 RULE:


ROSA F. MERCADO vs. ATTY. JULITO D. VITRIOLO
(1) The complainant must specifically allege the specific
Mercado is a Senior Education Program Specialist of the confidential information allegedly divulged by respondent
Standards Development Division, Office of Programs and without her consent. It is difficult, if not impossible to
Standards while Vitriolo is a Deputy Executive Director IV of determine if there was any violation of the rule on
the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). privileged communication. Such confidential information
is a crucial link in establishing a breach of the rule on
Vitriolo was once a counsel for Mercado in her annulment privileged communication between attorney and client. It
case. is not enough to merely assert the attorney-client privilege.
The burden of proving that the privilege applies is placed
Eventually, Vitriolo filed a criminal action against Mercado upon the party asserting the privilege.
before the Office of the City Prosecutor, Pasig City, entitled
"Atty. Julito Vitriolo, et al. v. Rose Dela Cruz F. Mercado," (2) The client made the communication in confidence.
and docketed as I.S. No. PSG 99-9823, for violation of Articles
171 and 172 (falsification of public document) of the Revised The mere relation of attorney and client does not raise a
Penal Code.5 Respondent alleged that complainant made false presumption of confidentiality. The client must intend the
entries in the Certificates of Live Birth of her children, communication to be confidential.
Angelica and Katelyn Anne. More specifically, complainant
allegedly indicated in said Certificates of Live Birth that she is Points to remember from the case of Mercado vs. Vitriolo:
married to a certain Ferdinand Fernandez, and that their
marriage was solemnized on April 11, 1979, when in truth, she There exists an attorney-client relationship, or a prospective
is legally married to Ruben G. Mercado and their marriage took attorney-client relationship, and it is by reason of this
place on April 11, 1978. relationship that the client made the communication.

Complainant Mercado alleged that said criminal complaint for Matters disclosed by a prospective client to a lawyer are
falsification of public document (I.S. No. PSG 99-9823) protected by the rule on privileged communication even if the
disclosed confidential facts and information relating to the civil prospective client does not thereafter retain the lawyer or the
case for annulment, then handled by respondent Vitriolo as her latter declines the employment.
counsel. This prompted complainant Mercado to bring this
action against respondent. She claims that, in filing the A communication from a (prospective) client to a lawyer for
criminal case for falsification, respondent is guilty of some purpose other than on account of the (prospective)
breaching their privileged and confidential lawyer-client attorney-client relation is not privileged.
relationship, and should be disbarred.
Instructive is the case of Pfleider v. Palanca (as cited in the
Vitriolo maintains that his filing of the criminal complaint for
Vitriolo Case):
falsification of public documents against complainant does not
violate the rule on privileged communication between attorney
Where the client and his wife leased to their attorney a 1,328-
and client because the bases of the falsification case are two
hectare agricultural land for a period of ten years. In their
certificates of live birth which are public documents and in no
contract, the parties agreed, among others, that a specified
way connected with the confidence taken during the
portion of the lease rentals would be paid to the client-lessors,
engagement of respondent as counsel. According to
and the remainder would be delivered by counsel-lessee to
respondent, the complainant confided to him as then counsel
client's listed creditors. The client alleged that the list of
only matters of facts relating to the annulment case. Nothing
creditors which he had "confidentially" supplied counsel for
was said about the alleged falsification of the entries in the
the purpose of carrying out the terms of payment contained in
birth certificates of her two daughters. The birth certificates are
the lease contract was disclosed by counsel, in violation of
filed in the Records Division of CHED and are accessible to
their lawyer-client relation, to parties whose interests are
anyone.
adverse to those of the client. As the client himself, however,
states, in the execution of the terms of the aforesaid lease
Issue:
contract between the parties, he furnished counsel with the
"confidential" list of his creditors. We ruled that this indicates
Is there a breach in the rule on privileged communication in the
that client delivered the list of his creditors to counsel not
case at bar?
because of the professional relation then existing between
them, but on account of the lease agreement. We then held that
a violation of the confidence that accompanied the delivery of

By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 7


that list would partake more of a private and civil wrong than client is not within the ambit of the lawyer-client
of a breach of the fidelity owing from a lawyer to his client. confidentiality privilege, nor are the documents it required
(deeds of assignment) protected, because they are evidence of
nominee status.
CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION:
Issue:
A confidential communication refers to information
transmitted by voluntary act of disclosure between Whether or not the IDENTITY/NAMES of the clients of
attorney and client in confidence and by means which, so ACCRA twhich PCGG seeks to be revealed is privileged
far as the client is aware, discloses the information to no communication
third person other than one reasonably necessary for the
transmission of the information or the accomplishment of Ruling:
the purpose for which it was given.
Yes. The court upheld petitioners' right not to reveal the
identity of their clients under pain of the breach of fiduciary
EN BANC (Consolidated) duty owing to their clients, because the facts of the instant case
G.R. No. 105938 September 20, 1996 clearly fall within recognized exceptions to the rule that the
REGALA vs. THE SANDIGANBAYAN client's name is not privileged information.

G.R. No. 108113 September 20, 1996 PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATION INVOLVING THE
PARAJA G. HAYUDINI vs. THE SANDIGANBAYAN IDENTITY/NAME OF A CLIENT

General Rule:
Regala, Angara, Roco and others were then partners of the
ACCRA Law Firm. ACCRA performed legal services for its A client's identity should not be shrouded in mystery. A lawyer
clients (in this case, for EDUARDO DANDING may not invoke the privilege and refuse to divulge the name or
COJUANGCO, which included, among others, the identity of this client.
organization and acquisition of business associations and/or
organizations, with the correlative and incidental services The reasons advanced for the general rule:
where its members acted as incorporators, or simply, as
stockholders. More specifically, in the performance of these First, the court has a right to know that the client whose
services, the members of the law firm delivered to its client privileged information is sought to be protected is flesh and
documents which substantiate the client's equity holdings, i.e., blood.
stock certificates endorsed in blank representing the shares
registered in the client's name, and a blank deed of trust or Second, the privilege begins to exist only after the attorney-
assignment covering said shares. In the course of their dealings client relationship has been established. The attorney-client
with their clients, the members of the law firm acquire privilege does not attach until there is a client.
information relative to the assets of clients as well as their
personal and business circumstances. In keeping with the Third, the privilege generally pertains to the subject matter of
office practice, ACCRA lawyers acted as nominees- the relationship.
stockholders of the said corporations involved in sequestration
proceedings against Cojuangco. Finally, due process considerations require that the opposing
party should, as a general rule, know his adversary. "A party
The PCGG wanted the ACCRA lawyers to reveal the suing or sued is entitled to know who his opponent is."
identity/NAME of the principal/s for whom they acted as
nominee/stockholder in the companies involved in PCGG Case Exceptions:
against Cojuangco.
1) Client identity is privileged where a strong probability
It has to be noted that Roco was later excluded as respondent exists that revealing the client's name would implicate that
on his undertaking that he will reveal the identity of the client in the very activity for which he sought the lawyer's
principal/s for whom he acted as nominee/stockholder in the advice.
companies involved in PCGG Case against Cojuanco. 2) Where disclosure would open the client to civil liability;
his identity is privileged.
The ACCRA Lawyers contend that they are prohibited from 3) Where the government's lawyers have no case against an
revealing the identity of their principal under their sworn attorney's client unless, by revealing the client's name, the
mandate and fiduciary duty as lawyers to uphold at all times said name would furnish the only link that would form the
the confidentiality of information obtained during such lawyer- chain of testimony necessary to convict an individual of a
client relationship. crime, the client's name is privileged.
4) The content of any client communication to a lawyer lies
Respondent PCGG, through its counsel, refutes petitioners' within the privilege if it is relevant to the subject matter of
contention, alleging that the revelation of the identity of the
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 8
the legal problem on which the client seeks legal Uy Chico, on the witness stand had been asked if he had any
assistance. objection as to his lawyer testifying concerning the surrender
5) Where the nature of the attorney-client relationship has of the policies to which, he negatively replied. Whereupon, the
been previously disclosed and it is the identity which is lawyer of the petitioner formally withdraw the waiver given by
intended to be confidential, the identity of the client has the petitioner and objected to the testimony on the ground of
been held to be privileged, since such revelation would privileged communication.
otherwise result in disclosure of the entire transaction.
Issue:
The circumstances involving the engagement of lawyers in the
case at bench, therefore, clearly reveal that the instant case falls Was the testimony (of Uy Chicos lawyer) in question
under at least two exceptions to the general rule. First, privileged?
disclosure of the alleged client's name would lead to establish
said client's connection with the very fact in issue of the case, Ruling:
which is privileged information, because the privilege, as stated
earlier, protects the subject matter or the substance (without No. A similar provision is inserted in section 383, No. 4, of the
which there would be not attorney-client relationship). same Act. It will be noted that the evidence in question
concerned the dealings of the plaintiff's attorney with a third
Furthermore, under the third main exception, revelation of the person.
client's name would obviously provide the necessary link for
the prosecution to build its case, where none otherwise exists. Of the very essence of the veil of secrecy which surrounds
It is the link, in the words of Baird, "that would inevitably form communications made between attorney and client, is that such
the chain of testimony necessary to convict the (client) of a . . . communications are not intended for the information of third
crime." persons or to be acted upon by them, put of the purpose of
advising the client as to his rights.
An important distinction must be made between a case where a
client takes on the services of an attorney for illicit purposes, It is evident that a communication made by a client to his
seeking advice about how to go around the law for the purpose attorney for the express purpose of its being communicated to
of committing illegal activities and a case where a client thinks a third person is essentially inconsistent with the confidential
he might have previously committed something illegal and relation. When the attorney has faithfully carried out his
consults his attorney about it. The first case clearly does not fall instructions be delivering the communication to the third
within the privilege because the same cannot be invoked for person for whom it was intended and the latter acts upon it, it
purposes illegal. The second case falls within the exception cannot, by any reasoning whatever, be classified in a legal
because whether or not the act for which the client sought sense as a privileged communication between the attorney and
advice turns out to be illegal, his name cannot be used or his client. It is plain that such a communication, after reaching
disclosed if the disclosure leads to evidence, not yet in the hands the party for whom it was intended at least, is a communication
of the prosecution, which might lead to possible action against between the client and a third person, and that the attorney
him. simply occupies the role of intermediary or agent.

EN BANC
G.R. No. L-9231 January 6, 1915 A.C. No. 4078 July 14, 2003
UY CHICO vs. THE UNION LIFE ASSURANCE WILLIAM ONG GENATO vs. ATTY. ESSEX L.
SOCIETY, LIMITED, ET AL SILAPAN

Atty. Silapan obtained a loan from his client and mortgaged one
In 1897, Uy Chicos father died. He continued the business still of his properties as security.
in the name of his father after buying the share of his brother
in the said business. Uy Chico filed a case seeking the recovery When Atty. Silapan failed to pay his obligation, Genato filed a
of the proceeds of 2 insurance policies on stock of dry goods criminal case against respondent for violation of Batas
that was destroyed in a fire. Pambansa Blg. 22 and a civil case for judicial foreclosure of
real estate mortgage.
These policies were surrendered by the petitioners lawyer to
the administrator of his fathers estate, who had compromised In his response, Atty. Silapan alleged that Genato is a
with the defendant for of the face value of the insurance that businessman who is engaged in the real estate business, trading
was paid to the court. and buy and sell of deficiency taxed imported cars, shark loans
and other shady deals and has many cases pending in court.
Uy Chico alleged that said policies belong to him and that he Atty. SIlapan also alleged that Genato had the intention to bribe
was not bound by the compromised agreement made by the government officials in connection with a pending case.
administrator. The company introduced evidence showing that
the petitioner had agreed to the settlement of the policies when Genato denied respondents charges and claimed that
his lawyer surrendered the same to the estates administrator. respondents allegation is libelous as it was irrelevant to the
foreclosure case.
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 9
ADM. CASE No. 4426 February 17, 2000
Genato gripes that the foregoing allegations are false, RAMON SAURA, JR vs. ATTY. LALAINE LILIBETH
immaterial to the foreclosure case and maliciously designed to AGDEPPA
defame him. He charged that in making such allegations,
respondent is guilty of breaking their confidential lawyer-client ADM. CASE No. 4429 February 17, 2000
relationship and should be held administratively liable. HELEN BALDORIA and RAYMUNDO SAURA vs.
ATTY. LALAINE LILIBETH AGDEPPA
Silapan insisted that there was nothing libelous in his
imputations of dishonest business practices to complainant and Negotiations for the settlement of the property (referring to the
his revelation of complainants desire to bribe government intestate estate of Ramon E. Saura) dragged on far three (3)
officials in relation to his pending criminal case. He claimed to years until on April 27, 1995, Saura and Baldoria learned that
have made these statements in the course of judicial the administrators of the property, Macrina, Romeo and
proceedings to defend his case and discredit complainants Amelita, had, with the assistance of Atty. Agdepa, who in fact
credibility by establishing his criminal propensity to commit notarized the Deed of Sale, sold the property to Sandalwood
fraud, tell lies and violate laws. He argued that he is not guilty Real Estate and Development Corporation without the
of breaking his confidential lawyer-client relationship with knowledge and participation of petitioners. To compound
complainant as he made the disclosure in defense of his honor matters, petitioners alleged that despite repeated demands, the
and reputation. vendors or their counsel, Atty. Agdeppa, have refused to
disclose the amount of the sale or account for the proceeds. The
Issue: petitioners have thus been constrained to institute criminal and
civil actions to enforce and protect their rights.
Whether respondent committed a breach of trust and confidence
by imputing to complainant illegal practices and disclosing Atty. Agdeppa argued that the amount of the sale or account for
complainants alleged intention to bribe government officials in the proceeds is covered by privileged communication.
connection with a pending case.
Issue:
Ruling:
Whether or not the amount of the sale or account for the
There is none. The attorney-client privilege does not attach, proceeds is covered by privileged communication.
there being no professional employment in the strict sense.
Ruling:
Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides
that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and shall be The request for the information regarding the sale of the
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him. The long- property and to account for the proceeds is not a violation of the
established rule is that an attorney is not permitted to disclose attorney-client privilege. Rule 130, Section 24 (b) of the Rules
communications made to him in his professional character by a of Court provides:
client, unless the latter consents. This obligation to preserve the
confidences and secrets of a client arises at the inception of their Sec. 24. Disqualification by reason of privileged
relationship. The protection given to the client is perpetual and communication. The following persons cannot testify as to
does not cease with the termination of the litigation, nor is it matters learned in confidence in the following cases:
affected by the partys ceasing to employ the attorney and
retaining another, or by any other change of relation between xxx xxx xxx
them. It even survives the death of the client.
(b) An attorney cannot, without the consent of his client,
HOWEVER, the privilege against disclosure of confidential be examined as to any communication made by the client to
communications or information is limited only to him, or his advice given thereon in the course of, or with a view
communications which are legitimately and properly within to, professional employment, nor can an attorney's secretary,
the scope of a lawful employment of a lawyer. It does not extend stenographer, or clerk be examined, without the consent of the
to those made in contemplation of a crime or perpetration of a client and his employer, concerning any fact the knowledge of
fraud. If the unlawful purpose is avowed, as in this case, the which has been acquired in such capacity.
complainants alleged intention to bribe government officials in
relation to his case, the communication is not covered by the The information requested by petitioners is not privileged. The
privilege as the client does not consult the lawyer petitioners are only asking for the disclosure of the amount of
professionally. It is not within the profession of a lawyer to the sale or account for the proceeds. Petitioners certainly have
advise a client as to how he may commit a crime as a lawyer is the right to ask for such information since they own the property
not a gun for hire. as co-heirs of the late Ramon E. Saura and as co-administrators
of the property. Hence, respondent cannot refuse to divulge
such information to them and hide behind the cloak of the
attorney-client relationship.

By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 10


EN BANC as a lawyer is prohibited from representing conflicting interests
[A.C. No. 2597. March 12, 1998] or discharging inconsistent duties. He may not, without being
GLORITO V. MATURAN vs. ATTY. CONRADO S. guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a
GONZALES person whose interest conflicts with that of his present or
former client.That the representation of conflicting interest is in
Spouses Casquejo instituted their son-in-law, Glorito V. good faith and with honest intention on the part of the lawyer
Maturan (herein petitioner), as their attorney-in-fact, through a does not make the prohibition inoperative.
Special Power of Attorney (SPA). Said SPA authorized
Maturan to file ejectment cases against squatters occupying Lot The reason for the prohibition is found in the relation of attorney
1350-A, Psd-50375, located in General Santos City, as well as and client, which is one of trust and confidence of the highest
criminal cases against the latter for violation of P.D. 772, again degree. A lawyer becomes familiar with all the facts connected
in connection with said lot. Respondent, Atty. Conrado with his clients case. He learns from his client the weak points
Gonzales, prepared and notarized said Special Power of of the action as well as the strong ones. Such knowledge must
Attorney. be considered sacred and guarded with care. No opportunity
must be given him to take advantage of the clients secrets. A
Eventually, judgment was rendered in favor of Casquejo in the lawyer must have the fullest confidence of his client. For if the
ejectment cases. As the counsel of Casquejo, Atty. Gonzales confidence is abused, the profession will suffer by the loss
filed a motion for issuance of a writ of execution. thereof.

While the motion for issuance of a writ of execution was This Court finds respondents actuations violative of Canon 6 of
pending, and without withdrawing as counsel for petitioner, the Canons of Professional Ethics which provide in part: It is
respondent filed, on behalf of Celestino Yokingco, et al., an unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by
action to annul the judgment rendered in the ejectment cases express consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of
adjudged in favor of Casquejo, also a client of Atty. Gonzales. the facts. Within the meaning of this canon, a lawyer represents
conflicting interests when, in behalf of one client, it is his duty
The action was predicated on the lack of authority on the part to contend for that which duty to another client requires him to
of petitioner to represent Antonio and Gloria Casquejo, has no oppose.
such authorization. As stated above, it was also Atty. Gonzales justification for his actions reveal a patent ignorance of the
who prepared the very same SPA that he is now questioning, as fiduciary obligations which a lawyer owes to his client.
counsel of his clients adversary.
2. No. A lawyer-client relationship is not terminated by the
Aggrieved by respondents acceptance of professional filing of a motion for a writ of execution. His acceptance of a
employment from their adversary, and alleging that privileged case implies that he will prosecute the case to its conclusion. He
matters relating to the land in question had been transmitted by may not be permitted to unilaterally terminate the same to the
petitioner to respondent in the ejectment cases. (THE PRIV. prejudice of his client.
COMM. ISSUE WAS NOT ADDRESSED IN THE RULING)
Petitioner filed an administrative complaint against the former EN BANC
for immoral, unethical, and anomalous acts and asked for his [G.R. Nos. 115439-41. July 16, 1997]
disbarment. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. HONORABLE
SANDIGANBAYAN, MANSUETO V. HONRADA,
Respondent argued that he was of the belief that filing a motion CEFERINO S. PAREDES, JR. and GENEROSO S.
for issuance of a writ of execution was the last and final act in SANSAET
the lawyer-client relationship between himself and petitioner,
and that his formal withdrawal as counsel for the Casquejos was During the dates material to this case, respondent Honrada was
unnecessary in order to sever the lawyer-client relationship the Clerk of Court and Acting Stenographer of the First
between them. Furthermore, he alleged that his acceptance of Municipal Circuit Trial Court, San Francisco-Bunawan-
employment from Yokingco was for him, an opportunity to Rosario in Agusan del Sur.
honestly earn a little more for his childrens sustenance.
Respondent Paredes was successively the Provincial Attorney
Issue: of Agusan del Sur, then Governor of the same province, and is
at present a Congressman.
1.Whether or not there was a conflict of interests
Respondent Sansaet was a practicing attorney who served as
2.Whether or not the filing of a writ of execution terminated the counsel for Paredes in several instances pertinent to the criminal
Lawyer-Client relationship of Maturan and Atty. Gonzales charges involved in the present recourse.

Ruling: Eventually a case was filed by a certain A criminal case was


subsequently filed with the Sandiganbayan charging respondent
1.Yes. Atty. Gonzales guilty of representing conflicting Paredes with a violation of Section 3(a) of Republic Act No.
interests. It is improper for a lawyer to appear as counsel for one 3019, as amended. However, a motion to quash filed by the
party against the adverse party who is his client in a related suit, defense was later granted in respondent courts resolution of
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 11
August 1, 1991[11] and the case was dismissed on the ground Paredes was the accused and Sansaet his counsel therein.
of prescription. Indeed, the fact that Sansaet was called to witness the
preparation of the falsified documents by Paredes and Honrada
On January 23, 1990, one Teofilo Gelacio, a taxpayer who had was as eloquent a communication, if not more, than verbal
initiated the perjury and graft charges against respondent statements being made to him by Paredes as to the fact and
Paredes, sent a letter to the Ombudsman seeking the purpose of such falsification. It is significant that the
investigation of the three respondents herein for falsification of evidentiary rule on this point has always referred to any
public documents. He claimed that respondent Honrada, in communication, without distinction or qualification.
conspiracy with his herein co-respondents, simulated and
certified as true copies certain documents purporting to be a In the American jurisdiction from which our present evidential
notice of arraignment, dated July 1, 1985, and transcripts of rule was taken, there is no particular mode by which a
stenographic notes supposedly taken during the arraignment of confidential communication shall be made by a client to his
Paredes on the perjury charge. These falsified documents were attorney. The privilege is not confined to verbal or written
annexed to respondent Paredes motion for reconsideration of communications made by the client to his attorney but extends
the Tanodbayan resolution for the filing of a graft charge as well to information communicated by the client to the
against him, in order to support his contention that the same attorney by other means.
would constitute double jeopardy.
Nor can it be pretended that during the entire process,
It was during this time that despite being Paredes counsel, Atty. considering their past and existing relations as counsel and
Sansaet suddenly changed tune after being impleaded along client and, further, in view of the purpose for which such
with Paredes and Honrada in the perjury and graft cases. falsified documents were prepared, no word at all passed
between Paredes and Sansaet on the subject matter of that
Sansaet revealed that Paredes contrived to have the graft case criminal act. The clincher for this conclusion is the undisputed
under preliminary investigation dismissed on the ground of fact that said documents were thereafter filed by Sansaet in
double jeopardy by making it that the perjury case had been behalf of Paredes as annexes to the motion for reconsideration
dismissed by the trial court after he had been arraigned therein. in the preliminary investigation of the graft case before the
For that purpose, the documents which were later filed by Tanodbayan. Also, the acts and words of the parties during the
respondent Sansaet in the preliminary investigation were period when the documents were being falsified were
prepared and falsified by his co-respondents in this case in the necessarily confidential since Paredes would not have invited
house of respondent Paredes. To evade responsibility for his Sansaet to his house and allowed him to witness the same except
own participation in the scheme, he claimed that he did so upon under conditions of secrecy and confidence.
the instigation and inducement of respondent Paredes.
2. It is postulated that despite such complicity of Sansaet at the
This was intended to pave the way for his discharge as a instance of Paredes in the criminal act for which the latter stands
government/state witness in the consolidated cases, as in fact a charged, a distinction must be made between confidential
motion therefor was filed by the prosecution pursuant to their communications relating to past crimes already committed, and
agreement. future crimes intended to be committed, by the client.
Corollarily, it is admitted that the announced intention of a
Issues: client to commit a crime is not included within the confidences
which his attorney is bound to respect. Respondent court
1.Whether or not the projected testimony of respondent Sansaet, appears, however, to believe that in the instant case it is dealing
as proposed state witness, is barred by the attorney-client with a past crime, and that respondent Sansaet is set to testify
privilege; and on alleged criminal acts of respondents Paredes and Honrada
that have already been committed and consummated.
2.Whether or not, as a consequence thereof, he is eligible for
discharge to testify as a particeps criminis. The Court reprobates the last assumption which is flawed by a
somewhat inaccurate basis. It is true that by now, insofar as the
falsifications to be testified to in respondent court are
concerned, those crimes were necessarily committed in the past.
But for the application of the attorney-client privilege,
however, the period to be considered is the date when the
Ruling: privileged communication was made by the client to the
attorney in relation to either a crime committed in the past
1.No. The attorney-client privilege cannot apply in these cases, or with respect to a crime intended to be committed in the
as the facts thereof and the actuations of both respondents future. In other words, if the client seeks his lawyers advice
therein constitute an exception to the rule. with respect to a crime that the former has theretofore
committed, he is given the protection of a virtual confessional
1. It may correctly be assumed that there was a confidential seal which the attorney-client privilege declares cannot be
communication made by Paredes to Sansaet in connection with broken by the attorney without the clients consent. The same
Criminal Cases Nos. 17791-93 for falsification before privileged confidentiality, however, does not attach with regard
respondent court, and this may reasonably be expected since
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 12
to a crime which a client intends to commit thereafter or in the 4. Rule on Multiplicity of Suits and Forum
future and for purposes of which he seeks the lawyers advice. Shopping
Statements and communications regarding the commission of a
crime already committed, made by a party who committed it, to CANON 10 - A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS
an attorney, consulted as such, are privileged communications. AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT.
Contrarily, the unbroken stream of judicial dicta is to the effect
that communications between attorney and client having to do CANON 12 - A LAWYER SHALL EXERT EVERY EFFORT
with the clients contemplated criminal acts, or in aid or AND CONSIDER IT HIS DUTY TO ASSIST IN THE
furtherance thereof, are not covered by the cloak of privileges SPEEDY AND EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION OF
ordinarily existing in reference to communications between JUSTICE.
attorney and client.
Rule 12.02 - A lawyer shall not file multiple actions arising
3. In the present cases, the testimony sought to be elicited from from the same cause.
Sansaet as state witness are the communications made to him
by physical acts and/or accompanying words of Paredes at the Rule 12.04 - A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the
time he and Honrada, either with the active or passive execution of a judgment or misuse Court processes.
participation of Sansaet, were about to falsify, or in the process
of falsifying, the documents which were later filed in the A.C. No. 4058. March 12, 1998
Tanodbayan by Sansaet and culminated in the criminal charges BENGUET ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE,
now pending in respondent Sandiganbayan. Clearly, therefore,
the confidential communications thus made by Paredes to
INC. vs. ATTY. ERNESTO B. FLORES
Sansaet were for purposes of and in reference to the crime of
falsification which had not yet been committed in the past by After the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Benguet
Paredes but which he, in confederacy with his present co- Electric Cooperative, Inc. vs. National Labor Relations
respondents, later committed. Having been made for purposes Commission, et al. and upon motion of BENECO, Labor
of a future offense, those communications are outside the pale Arbiter Irenarco R. Rimando issued a writ of execution ordering
of the attorney-client privilege. the clerk of court and ex officio city sheriff of the Municipal
Trial Court of Baguio City to levy on and sell at public auction
4. Furthermore, Sansaet was himself a conspirator in the personal and real property of the members of the Board of
commission of that crime of falsification which he, Paredes and Directors of BENECO.
Honrada concocted and foisted upon the authorities. It is well
settled that in order that a communication between a lawyer and On March 18, 1993, Respondent Flores, acting as counsel for
his client may be privileged, it must be for a lawful purpose or BENECO Board Members Victor Laoyan, Nicasio Aliping,
in furtherance of a lawful end. The existence of an unlawful Lorenzo Pilando and Abundio Awal, filed with the RTC an
purpose prevents the privilege from attaching. In fact, it has also injunction suit praying for the issuance of a temporary
been pointed out to the Court that the prosecution of the restraining order (TRO) to preserve the status quo as now
honorable relation of attorney and client will not be permitted obtaining between the parties, as well as a writ of preliminary
under the guise of privilege, and every communication made to preventive injunction ordering the clerk of court and the ex
an attorney by a client for a criminal purpose is a conspiracy or officio city sheriff of the MTC of Baguio to cease and desist
attempt at a conspiracy which is not only lawful to divulge, but from enforcing by execution and levy the writ of execution from
which the attorney under certain circumstances may be bound the NLRC-CAR, pending resolution of the main action raised
to disclose at once in the interest of justice. in court.

It is evident, therefore, that it was error for respondent When this injunction case was dismissed, Respondent Flores
Sandiganbayan to insist that such unlawful communications filed with another branch of the RTC two identical but separate
intended for an illegal purpose contrived by conspirators are actions both entitled Judicial Declaration of Family Home
nonetheless covered by the so-called mantle of privilege. To Constituted (Constitution of Family Home), ope lege, Exempt
prevent a conniving counsel from revealing the genesis of a from Levy and Execution; with Damages, etc. The said
crime which was later committed pursuant to a conspiracy, complaints were supplemented by an Urgent Motion Ex Parte
because of the objection thereto of his conspiring client, would which prayed for an order to temporarily restrain Sheriff
be one of the worst travesties in the rules of evidence and Wilfredo V. Mendez from proceeding with the auction sale of
practice in the noble profession of law. plaintiffs property to avoid rendering ineffectual and functus
[officio] any judgment of the court later in these cases, until
further determined by the court.

Issue:

Whether or not there is forum-shopping

By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 13


Ruling: G.R. No. 75349 October 13, 1986
BUAN and others, Quiapo Church Vendors, for
Yes. The suits for the constitution of a family home were not themselves and all others similarly situated as themselves
only frivolous and unnecessary; they were clearly asking for vs.
reliefs identical to the prayer previously dismissed by another OFFICER-IN-CHARGE GEMILIANO C. LOPEZ, JR.,
branch of the RTC, i.e., to forestall the execution of a final OFFICE OF THE MAYOR OF MANILA
judgment of the labor arbiter. That they were filed ostensibly
for the judicial declaration of a family home was a mere smoke FIRST CASE FILED:
screen; in essence, their real objective was to restrain or delay On July 7, 1986 there was filed in the Regional Trial Court of
the enforcement of the writ of execution. In his deliberate Manila, docketed as Civil Case No. 86-36563, a special civil
attempt to obtain the same relief in two different courts, action of "prohibition with preliminary injunction" against
Respondent Flores was obviously shopping for a friendly forum Acting Manila City Mayor Gemiliano Lopez, Jr.
which would capitulate to his improvident plea for an injunction
and was thereby trifling with the judicial process. It was filed by Samahang Kapatiran Sa Hanapbuhay Ng
Bagong Lipunan, Inc." (hereafter, simply "Samahan")
Forum Shopping: composed, according to the petition, of "some 300 individual
owners and operators of separate business stalls ... mostly at
Forum shopping exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion the periphery immediately beyond the fence of the Quiapo
in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion (other than by Church." The president of the Samahan is Rosalina Buan and
appeal or certiorari) in another, or when he institutes two or its Press Relations Officer, Liza Ocampo.
more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause, on
the gamble that one or the other court would make a favorable SECOND CASE FILED:
disposition. On August 5, 1986 petitioners instituted in the Supreme Court
a special civil action for prohibition to the end that respondent
The most important factor in determining the existence of Gemiliano C. Lopez, Jr., acting as Mayor of the City of Manila,
forum shopping is the vexation caused the courts and parties- be "perpetually prohibited from arbitrarily, whimsically and
litigants by a party who asks different courts to rule on the same capriciously revoking or cancelling ... their licenses or permits
or related causes or grant the same or substantially the same (as hawkers or street vendors) and threatening the physical
reliefs. demolition of their respective business stalls in the places
specified in such licenses or permits
Revised Circular No. 28-91 and Administrative Circular No.
04-94 provides for the penalties when forum shopping is It has to be noted that Rosalina Buan and Liza Ocampo are two
committed: of the five petitioners in the RTC case and thise described in
the petition before the Supreme Court as suing "for themselves
Penalties: and all others similarly situated as themselves": i.e., vendors
"around the Quiapo Church." The three other petitioners also
(a) Any violation of this Circular shall be a cause for the appear to be Samahan members.
summary dismissal of the multiple petition or complaint.
(b) Any willful and deliberate forum shopping by any party Issue:
and his lawyer wit the filing of multiple petitions and
complaints to ensure favorable action shall constitute Is there forum shopping?
direct contempt of court.
(c) The submission of false certification under Par. 2 of the Ruling:
Circular shall likewise constitute contempt of Court, without
prejudice to the filing of criminal action against the guilty Yes. There thus exists between the action before the Supreme
party. The lawyer may also be subjected to disciplinary Court and RTC Case No. 86-36563 Identity of parties, or at
proceedings. least such parties as represent the same interests in both
actions, as well as Identity of rights asserted and relief prayed
for, the relief being founded on the same facts, and the Identity
on the two preceding particulars is such that any judgment
rendered in the other action, will regardless of which party is
successful, amount to res adjudicata in the action under
consideration: all the requisites, in fine, of auter action
pendant.

TERM:
Auter Action Pendant = Lis Pendens

By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 14


EN BANC
G.R. No. 130068October 1, 1998 Sub Judice Rule
FAR EASTERN SHIPPING COMPANY vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and PHILIPPINE PORTS The sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures
AUTHORITY pertaining to judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue,
influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of
G.R. No. 130150October, 1998 justice.
MANILA PILOTS ASSOCIATION (MPA) vs.
PHILIPPINE PORTS AUTHORITY and FAR EASTERN Anyone violating the sub judice rule can be cited for indirect
SHIPPING COMPANY (FESC), contempt of court under Section 3(d), Rule 71 of the Rules of
Court.

MPA's filed a petition in G.R. No. 130150 was posted by The restriction applies not only to participants in the pending
registered mail on August 29, 1997. case, i.e., to members of the bar and bench, and to litigants and
witnesses, but also to the public in general, which necessarily
FESC also filed a petition in G.R. 130068 on September 26, includes the media. Although the Rules of Court does not
1997. In this petition, FESC attached a CNFS* contain a specific provision imposing the sub judice rule, it
supports the observance of the restriction by punishing its
However, despite FESCs knowledge if the petition filed by violation as indirect contempt under Section 3(d) of Rule 71:
MPA, FESC did not update the Court of such fact in
accordance with the rules where it is required that should a Section 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and
party thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has hearing. x x x a person guilty of any of the following acts may
been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court be punished for indirect contempt:
of Appeals or any other tribunal or agency, the party must
report the fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court xxxx
immediate court.
(d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to
Issue: impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice[.]

Is there a violation on the rule against forum shopping? EN BANC


G.R. No. L-30894 March 25, 1970
Ruling: MARTELINO vs. ALEJANDRO
Yes. Section 4(e), Rule 45 specifically requires that a petition This case involves a court-martial proceeding.
such as in the case at bar shall contain a sworn certification
against forum shopping as provided in the last paragraph of This is a case against Major Eduardo Martelino, alias Abdul
Section 2, Rule 42. It is also required that should a party Latif Martelino, of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the
thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been officers and men under him, for violation of the 94th and 97th
filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Articles of War, as a result of the alleged shooting on March 18,
Appeals or any other tribunal or agency, the party must report 1968 of some Muslim recruits then undergoing commando
the fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court immediate training on the island of Corregidor.
court.
Note: At the hearing on August 12, 1969 the petitioner Martelino
sought the disqualification of the President of the general court-
A certification against forum shopping ordained under the martial, following the latter's admission that he read newspaper
Rules is to be executed by the petitioner, and not by counsel. stories of the Corregidor incident. The petitioner contended that
Obviously it is the petitioner, and not always the counsel the case had received such an amount of publicity in the press
whose professional services have been retained for a particular and other news media and in fact was being exploited for
case, who is in the best position to know whether he or it political purposes in connection with the presidential election
actually filed or caused the filing of a petition in that case. on November 11, 1969 as to imperil his right to a fair trial. After
Hence, a certification against forum shopping by counsel is a deliberating, the military court denied the challenge. However,
defective certification. It is clearly equivalent to non- there was a suspension of the proceedings.
compliance with the requirement under Section 2, Rule 42 in
relation to Section 4, Rule 45, and constitutes a valid cause for Issue;
dismissal of the petition.
Whether or not the court-martial failed to protect the accused
from prejudicial publicity

Ruling:
5. Sub-Judice Rule
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 15
No. Absent here is a showing of failure of the court-martial to and finally determined by the lower court and which was under
protect the accused from massive publicity encouraged by those appeal and advisement by this Tribunal, was being retried and
connected with the conduct of the trial either by a failure to redetermined in the press, and all with the apparent place and
control the release of information or to remove the trial to complaisance of respondent.
another venue or to postpone it until the deluge of prejudicial
publicity shall have subsided. Indeed we cannot say that the trial Issue:
of the petitioners was being held under circumstances which did
not permit the observance of those imperative decencies of Whether or not there was undue publicity to the prejudice of the
procedure which have come to be identified with due process. alleged offenders?
Yes. It seemed as though the criminal responsibility for the
At all events, even granting the existence of "massive" and killing of Manuel Monroy which had already been tried and
"prejudicial" publicity, since the petitioners here do not contend finally determined by the lower court and which was under
that the respondents have been unduly influenced but simply appeal and advisement by this Tribunal, was being retried and
that they might be by the "barrage" of publicity, we think that redetermined in the press, and all with the apparent place and
the suspension of the court-martial proceedings has complaisance of respondent.
accomplished the purpose sought by the petitioners' challenge
for cause, by postponing the trial of the petitioner until calmer Salva committed what was regard a grievous error and poor
times have returned. The atmosphere has since been cleared and judgment for which we fail to find any excuse or satisfactory
the publicity surrounding the Corregidor incident has so far explanation. His actuations in this regard went well beyond the
abated that we believe the trial may now be resumed in bounds of prudence, discretion and good taste. It is bad enough
tranquility. to have such undue publicity when a criminal case is being
investigated by the authorities, even when it being tried in court;
EN BANC but when said publicity and sensationalism is allowed, even
G.R. No. L-12871 July 25, 1959 encouraged, when the case is on appeal and is pending
TIMOTEO V. CRUZ vs. FRANCISCO G. H. SALVA consideration by this Tribunal, the whole thing becomes
inexcusable, even abhorrent, and this Court, in the interest of
This case involved the killing of Manuel Monroy in 1953. A justice, is constrained and called upon to put an end to it and a
number of persons were accused as involved and implicated in deterrent against its repetition by meting an appropriate
said crime. disciplinary measure, even a penalty to the one liable.

The respondent here, Fiscal Salva was tasked to conduct a EN BANC


reinvestigation of the case. As part of such investigation, Fiscal October 9, 2007
Salva called upon Timoteo Cruz to appear and testify before RE : SUSPENSION OF ATTY. ROGELIO Z.
him at the scheduled preliminary investigation. BAGABUYO, FORMER SENIOR STATE
PROSECUTOR (ADM No. 7006)
The investigation was conducted not in respondent's office but
in the session hall of the Municipal Court of Pasay City This administrative case stemmed from the events of the
evidently, to accommodate the big crowd that wanted to witness criminal case proceeding originally raffled to the sala of Judge
the proceeding, including members of the press. A number of Floripinas C. Buyser.
microphones were installed. Reporters were everywhere and
photographers were busy taking pictures. In other words, Judge Buyser denied the Demurrer to the Evidence of the
apparently with the permission of, if not the encouragement by accused, declaring that the evidence thus presented by the
the respondent, news photographers and newsmen had a filed prosecution was sufficient to prove the crime of homicide and
day. Not only this, but in the course of the investigation, as not the charge of murder.
shown by the transcript of the stenographic notes taken during
said investigation, on two occasions, the first, after Oscar The counsel of the defense filed a Motion to fix the amount of
Caymo had concluded his testimony respondent Salva, Bail Bond. Respondent Atty. Bagabuyo, then Senior state
addressing the newspapermen said, "Gentlemen of the press, if Prosecutor and the deputized prosecutor of the case, objected
you want to ask questions I am willing to let you do so and the thereto mainly on the ground that the original charge of murder,
question asked will be reproduced as my own"; and the second, punishable with reclusion perpetua, was not subject of bail
after Jose Maratella y de Guzman had finished testifying and under the Rules of Court.
respondent Salva, addressing the newsmen, again said,
"Gentlemen of the press is free to ask questions as ours." Judge Buser inhibited himself from further trying the case
because of the harsh insinuation of Senior Prosecutor Rogelio
The newspapers certainly played up and gave wide publicity to Bagabuyo that he lacks the cold neutrality of an impartial
what took place during the investigation, and this involved magistrate, by allegedly suggesting the filing of the motion to
headlines and extensive recitals, narrations of and comments on fix the amount of bail bond by counsel for the accused.
the testimonies given by the witnesses as well as vivid
descriptions of the incidents that took place during the Respondent appealed to the CA. Instead of availing himself
investigation. It seemed as though the criminal responsibility only of judicial remedies, respondent caused the publication of
for the killing of Manuel Monroy which had already been tried an article regarding the Order granting to the accused in the
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 16
issue of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily. The article, entitled of the law, that as a mahjong aficionado, he was studying
Senior prosecutor lambast Surigao judge for allowing murder mahjong instead of studying the law, and that he was a liar.
suspect to bail out.
Respondent also violated the Lawyers Oath, as he has sworn to
The RTC of Surigao City directed respondent and the writer of conduct [himself] as a lawyer according to the best of [his]
the article to appear in court to explain why they should not be knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the
cited for indirect contempt of court for the publication of the courts as to [his] clients.
article which degrade the court and its presiding judge with its
lies and misrepresentation. As a senior state prosecutor and officer of the court, respondent
should have set the example of observing and maintaining the
Respondent admitted that he caused the holding of the press respect due to the courts and to judicial officers. Montecillo v.
conference, but refused to answer whether he made the Gica held:
statement in the article until after he shall have filed a motion
to dismiss. For his refusal to answer, the trial court declared It is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the
him in contempt of court pursuant to the Rules of Court. courts a respectful attitude. As an officer of the court,
it is his duty to uphold the dignity and authority of
Issue: the court to which he owes fidelity, according to the
oath he has taken. Respect for the courts guarantees
Whether or not Atty. Bagabuyo violated the Canons and the the stability of our democratic institutions which,
Lawyers Oath without such respect, would be resting on a very
shaky foundation.
Ruling:

Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo is found guilty of violating Rule 5.Financial Accountability


11.05, Canon 11 and Rule 13.02, Canon 13 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, and of violating the Lawyers Oath. Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct.
Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered
to appear, prosecute and defend; and upon whom peculiar Rule 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or
duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a property collected or received for or from the client.
consequence. Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain
obligations. Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Rule 16.02 A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client
Responsibility mandates a lawyer to observe and maintain the separate and apart from his own and those others kept by
respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and [he] should him.
insist on similar conduct by others. Rule 11.05 of Canon 11
states that a lawyer shall submit grievances against a judge to
EN BANC
the proper authorities only.
A.C. No. 6288 June 16, 2006
RONQUILLO et.al vs. ATTY. HOMOBONO T. CEZAR
Respondent violated Rule 11.05 of Canon 11 when he
admittedly caused the holding of a press conference where he
made statements against the Order dated November 12, 2002 Atty. Cezar entered into a contract with complainant Marili
allowing the accused in Crim. Case No. 5144 to be released on Ronquillo, an OFW, representing to have the rights to transfer
bail. title over a townhouse unit and lot.

Respondent also violated Canon 11 when he indirectly stated For the price of P1.5M, respondent transferred, in favor of the
that Judge Tan was displaying judicial arrogance in the article complainants, his rights and interests over a townhouse unit and
entitled, Senior prosecutor lambasts Surigao judge for allowing lot, located at 75 Granwood Villas Subd., BF Homes, Quezon
murder suspect to bail out, which appeared in the August 18, City. Respondent also obligated himself to deliver to
2003 issue of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily. Respondents complainants a copy of the Contract to Sell he executed with
statements in the article, which were made while Crim. Case Crown Asia, the townhouse developer, dated April 19, 1996.
No. 5144 was still pending in court, also violated Rule 13.02 of Upon full payment of the purchase price, respondent further
Canon 13, which states that a lawyer shall not make public undertook to have Crown Asia execute a Deed of Absolute Sale
statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to over the property in favor of the complainants.
arouse public opinion for or against a party.
In the main, Atty. Cezar failed in his obligation and refused to
In regard to the radio interview given to Tony Consing, return the payments made by Ronquillo.
respondent violated Rule 11.05 of Canon 11 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility for not resorting to the proper
authorities only for redress of his grievances against Judge Tan. Issue:
Respondent also violated Canon 11 for his disrespect of the
court and its officer when he stated that Judge Tan was ignorant Whether ot not Atty. Cezar violated the Code of Professional
Respnsibility?
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 17
Ruling: Complainant demanded the return of the P18,000 from
respondent on several occasions but respondent ignored her.
Yes. The respondent engaged in unlawful, dishonest, immoral Moreover, respondent failed to act on the case of complainants
or deceitful conduct. He violated his oath under Rule 1.01, son and complainant was forced to avail of the services of the
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and he Public Attorneys Office for her sons defense.
ought to be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law.
Issue:
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
provides that "A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, Whether or not Atty. Macasa violated the Code/Canons
immoral or deceitful conduct." "Conduct," as used in this rule,
does not refer exclusively to the performance of a lawyers Ruling:
professional duties. This Court has made clear in a long line of
cases7 that a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for Yes. Atty. Macasa is guilty of violation of Rule 1.01 of the
misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:
which shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty,
probity and good demeanor, or unworthy to continue as an Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
officer of the court. immoral, or deceitful conduct.

In the instant case, respondent may have acted in his private He is also guilty of violation of Rules 16.01 and 16.02 of the
capacity when he entered into a contract with complainant Code of Professional Responsibility:
Marili representing to have the rights to transfer title over the
townhouse unit and lot in question. When he failed in his Rule 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or property
undertaking, respondent fell short of his duty under Rule 1.01, collected or received for or from the client.
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It cannot
be gainsaid that it was unlawful for respondent to transfer Rule 16.02 A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client
property over which one has no legal right of ownership. separate and apart from his own and those others kept by him.
Respondent was likewise guilty of dishonest and deceitful
conduct when he concealed this lack of right from The fiduciary nature of the relationship between counsel and
complainants. He did not inform the complainants that he has client imposes on a lawyer the duty to account for the money or
not yet paid in full the price of the subject townhouse unit and property collected or received for or from the client.25
lot, and, therefore, he had no right to sell, transfer or assign said
property at the time of the execution of the Deed of Assignment. When a lawyer collects or receives money from his client for a
His acceptance of the bulk of the purchase price amounting to particular purpose (such as for filing fees, registration fees,
Nine Hundred Thirty-Seven Thousand Five Hundred Pesos transportation and office expenses), he should promptly account
(P937,500.00), despite knowing he was not entitled to it, made to the client how the money was spent. If he does not use the
matters worse for him. money for its intended purpose, he must immediately return it
to the client.26 His failure either to render an accounting or to
EN BANC (Per Curiam) return the money (if the intended purpose of the money does not
A.C. No. 7815 July 23, 2009 materialize) constitutes a blatant disregard of Rule 16.01 of the
DOLORES C. BELLEZA vs. ATTY. ALAN S. MACASA Code of Professional Responsibility.27

Dolores Belleza to avail of Atty. Macasas legal services in Moreover, a lawyer has the duty to deliver his clients funds or
connection with the case of her son, Francis John Belleza, who properties as they fall due or upon demand.28 His failure to
was arrested by policemen of Bacolod City earlier that day for return the clients money upon demand gives rise to the
alleged violation of Republic Act (RA) 9165.1 Respondent presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use to
agreed to handle the case for P30,000. the prejudice of and in violation of the trust reposed in him by
the client.29 It is a gross violation of general morality as well
The following day, Belleza made a partial payment of P15,000 as of professional ethics; it impairs public confidence in the
to Atty. Macasa thru their mutual friend Chua. On November legal profession and deserves punishment.30 Indeed, it may
17, 2004, she gave him an additional P10,000. She paid the border on the criminal as it may constitute a prima facie case of
P5,000 balance on November 18, 2004. Both payments were swindling or estafa.
also made thru Chua. On all three occasions, respondent did not
issue any receipt. Respondent never denied receiving P18,000 from complainant
for the purpose of posting a bond to secure the provisional
On November 21, 2004, respondent received P18,000 from liberty of her son. He never used the money for its intended
complainant for the purpose of posting a bond to secure the purpose yet also never returned it to the client. Worse, he
provisional liberty of her (complainants) son. Again, unjustifiably refused to turn over the amount to complainant
respondent did not issue any receipt. When complainant went despite the latters repeated demands.
to the court the next day, she found out that respondent did not
remit the amount to the court.
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 18
Moreover, respondent rendered no service that would have RULE 139-B
entitled him to the P30,000 attorneys fees. As a rule, the right Disbarment and Discipline of Attorneys
of a lawyer to a reasonable compensation for his services is
subject to two requisites: (1) the existence of an attorney-client Section 1. How Instituted. - Proceedings for the disbarment,
relationship and (2) the rendition by the lawyer of services to suspension, or discipline of attorneys may be taken by the
the client.31 Thus, a lawyer who does not render legal services Supreme Court motu propio, or upon the filing of a verified
is not entitled to attorneys fees. Otherwise, not only would he complaint of any person before the Supreme Court or the
be unjustly enriched at the expense of the client, he would also Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). The complaint shall
be rewarded for his negligence and irresponsibility. state clearly and concisely the facts complained of and shall be
supported by affidavits of persons having personal knowledge
of the facts therein alleged and/or by such documents as may
substantiate said facts.

The IBP shall forward to the Supreme Court for appropriate


disposition all complaints for disbarment, suspension and
discipline filed against incumbent Justices of the Court of
Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals and judges of
lower courts, or against lawyers in the government service,
whether or not they are charged singly or jointly with other
respondents, and whether or not such complaint deals with acts
unrelated to the discharge of their official functions. If the
complaint is filed before the IBP, six ( 6) copies of the verified
complaint shall be filed with the Secretary of the IBP or the
Secretary of any of its chapter who shall forthwith transmit the
same to the IBP Board of Governors for assignment to an
investigator.

A. PROCEEDINGS IN THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE


PHILIPPINES

Section 2. National Grievance Investigators. The Board of


Governors shall appoint from among IBP members an
Investigator or, when special circumstances so warrant, a panel
of three (3) investigators to investigate the complaint. All
Investigators shall take an oath of office in the form prescribed
by the Board of Governors. A copy of the Investigator's
appointment and oath shall be transmitted to the Supreme
Court.

An Investigator may be disqualified by reason of relationship


within the fourth degree of consanguinity of affinity to any of
the parties of their counsel, pecuniary interest, personal bias, or
his having acted as counsel to his acting as such Investigator.
Where the Investigator does not disqualify himself, a party may
appeal to the IBP Board of Governors, which by majority vote
of the members present, there being a quorum, may order his
disqualification.

Any Investigator may also be removed for cause, after due


hearing, by the vote of at least six (6) members of the IBP Board
of Governors. The decision of the Board of Governors in all
cases of disqualification or removal shall be final.

Section 3. Duties of the National Grievance Investigator.


The National Grievance Investigators shall investigate all
complaints against members of the Integrated Bar referred to
them by the IBP Board of Governors.

Section 4. Chapter assistance to complainant. The proper


IBP Chapter may assist the complainant(s) in the preparation
and filing of his complaint(s).
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 19
Section 9. Depositions. Depositions may be taken in
Section 5. Service or dismissal. - If the complaint appears to be accordance with the Rules of Court with leave of the
meritorious, the Investigator shall direct that a copy thereof be investigator(s).
served upon the respondent, requiring him to answer the same Within the Philippines, depositions may be taken before any
within fifteen (15) days from the date of service. member of the Board of Governors, the President of any
Chapter, or any officer authorized by law to administer oaths.
If the complaint does not merit action, or if the answer shows to Depositions may be taken outside the Philippines before
the satisfaction of the Investigator that the complaint is not diplomatic or consular representative of the Philippine
meritorious, the Investigator will recommend to the Board of Government or before any person agreed upon by the parties or
Governors the dismissal of the complaint. designated by the Board of Governors.
Any suitable member of the Integrated Bar in the place where a
Thereafter, the procedure in Section 12 of this Rule shall apply. deposition shall be taken may be designated by the Investigator
No investigation shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of to assist the complainant or the respondent in taking a
the desistance, settlement, compromise, restitution, withdrawal deposition.
of the charges, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the
same, unless the Supreme Court motu propio or upon Section 10. Report of Investigator. Not later than thirty (30)
recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors, determines days from the termination of the investigation, the Investigator
that there is no compelling reason to continue with the shall submit a report containing his findings of fact and
disbarment or suspension proceedings against the respondent. recommendations to the IBP Board of Governors, together with
the stenographic notes and the transcript thereof, and all the
Section 6. Verification and service of answer. The answer evidence presented during the investigation. The submission of
shall be verified. The original and five (5) legible copies of the the report need not await the transcription of the stenographic
answer shall be filed with the Investigator, with proof of service notes, it being sufficient that the report reproduce substantially
of a copy thereof on the complainant or his counsel. from the Investigator's personal notes any relevant and pertinent
testimonies.
Section 7. Administrative counsel. The IBP Board of
Governors shall appoint a suitable member of the Integrated Bar Section 11. Defects. No defect in a complaint, notice,
as counsel to assist the complainant of the respondent during answer, or in the proceeding or the Investigator's Report shall
the investigation in case of need for such assistance. be considered as substantial unless the Board of Governors,
upon considering the whole record, finds that such defect has
Section 8. Investigation. Upon joinder of issues or upon resulted or may result in a miscarriage of justice, in which event
failure of the respondent to answer, the Investigator shall, with the Board shall take such remedial action as the circumstances
deliberate speed, proceed with the investigation of the case. He may warrant, including invalidation of the entire proceedings.
shall have the power to issue subpoenas and administer oaths.
The respondent shall be given full opportunity to defend Section 12. Review and recommendation by the Board of
himself, to present witnesses on his behalf, and be heard by Governors.
himself and counsel. However, if upon reasonable notice, the
respondent fails to appear, the investigation shall proceed ex a) Every case heard by an investigator shall be reviewed by the
parte. IBP Board of Governors upon the record and evidence
The Investigator shall terminate the investigation within three transmitted to it by the Investigator with his report.
(3) months from the date of its commencement, unless extended
for good cause by the Board of Governors upon prior b) After its review, the Board, by the vote of a majority of its
application. total membership, shall recommend to the Supreme Court the
Willful failure or refusal to obey a subpoena or any other lawful dismissal of the complaint or the imposition of disciplinary
order issued by the Investigator shall be dealt with as for action against the respondent.
indirect contempt of court. The corresponding charge shall be
filed by the Investigator before the IBP Board of Governors The Board shall issue a resolution setting forth its findings and
which shall require the alleged contemnor to show cause within recommendations, clearly and distinctly stating the facts and the
ten (10) days from notice. The IBP Board of Governors may reasons on which it is based.
thereafter conduct hearings, if necessary, in accordance with the
procedure set forth in this Rule for hearings before the The resolution shall be issued within a period not exceeding
Investigator. Such hearing shall as far as practicable be thirty (30) days from the next meeting of the Board following
terminated within fifteen (15) days from its commencement. the submission of the Investigator's report.
Thereafter, the IBP Board of Governors shall within a like
period of fifteen (15) days issue a resolution setting forth its c) The Board's resolution, together with the entire records and
findings and recommendations, which shall forthwith be all evidence presented and submitted, shall be transmitted to the
transmitted to the Supreme Court for final action and if Supreme Court for final action within ten (10) days from
warranted, the imposition of penalty. issuance of the resolution.

d) Notice of the resolution of the Board shall be given to all


parties through their counsel, if any.
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 20
B. PROCEEDINGS IN THE SUPREME COURT ATTORNEYS". All cases pending investigation by the Office
of the Solicitor General shall be transferred to the Integrated Bar
Section 13. Investigation of complaints. - In proceedings of the Philippines Board of Governors for investigation and
initiated by the Supreme Court, or in other proceedings when disposition as provided in this Rule except those cases where
the interest of justice so requires, the Supreme Court may refer the investigation has been substantially completed
the case for investigation to the Office of the Bar Confidant, or
to any officer of the Supreme Court or judge of a lower court,
in which case the investigation shall proceed in the same
manner provided in sections 6 to 11 hereof, save that the review
of the report of investigation shall be conducted directly by the
Supreme Court.

The complaint may also be referred to the IBP for investigation,


report, and recommendation.

Section 14. Report of the Solicitor General of other Court-


designated Investigator. Based upon the evidence adduced
at the investigation, the Solicitor General or other Investigator
designated by the Supreme Court shall submit to the Supreme
Court a report containing his findings of fact and
recommendations for the final action of the Supreme Court.

C. COMMON PROVISIONS

Section 15. Suspension of attorney by Supreme Court. - After


receipt of respondent's answer or lapse of the period therefor,
the Supreme Court, motu propio, or upon the recommendation
of the IBP Board of Governors, may suspend an attorney from
the practice of his profession for any of the causes specified in
Rule 138, section 27, during the pendency of the investigation
until such suspension is lifted by the Supreme Court.

Section 16. Suspension of attorney by the Court of Appeals or


a Regional Trial Court. 1 The Court of Appeals or Regional
Trial Court may suspend an attorney from practice for any of
the causes named in Rule 138, Section 27 2, until further action
of the Supreme Court in the case.

Section 17. Upon suspension by Court of Appeals or Regional


Trial Court, further proceedings in Supreme Court. Upon
such suspension, the Court of Appeals or a Regional Trial Court
shall forthwith transmit to the Supreme Court a certified copy
of the order of suspension and a full statement of the facts upon
which the same was based. Upon receipt of such certified copy
and statement, the Supreme Court shall make a full
investigation of the case and may revoke, shorten or extend the
suspension, or disbar the attorney as the facts may warrant.

Section 18. Confidentiality. Proceedings against attorneys


shall be private and confidential. However, the final order of the
Supreme Court shall be published like its decisions in other
cases.

Section 19. Expenses. All reasonable and necessary


expenses incurred in relation to disciplinary and disbarment
proceedings are lawfull charges for which the parties may be
taxed as costs.

Section 20. Effectivity and Transitory Provision. This Rule


shall take effect June 1, 1988 and shall supersede the present
Rule 139 entitled "DISBARMENT OR SUSPENSION OF
By Cid Benedict D. Pabalan 21