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FIRST DIVISION

In his Omnibus Comment[3] dated May 18, 2006, respondent judge denied the
MARIETTA DUQUE, A.M. NO. RTJ-06-2027 accusation that the decision in Criminal Case No. 2000-10-580 was rendered beyond the 90-
Complainant, day period as prescribed by the 1987 Constitution.
Present:
He explained that while the last pleading - the Memorandum for the Prosecution -
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, was filed on August 10, 2005, the Order declaring the case submitted for resolution was
- versus - CARPIO, issued on September 13, 2005. Respondent further explained that the Decision dated
CORONA, December 12, 2005 was promulgated only on January 27, 2006 because he was on official
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and leave from December 15, 2005 to January 15, 2006 as he left for the United States.
BRION,* JJ.
JUDGE CRISOSTOMO L. GARRIDO, Respondent maintained that there was no impropriety or procedural infirmity in the
Regional Trial Court, Branch promulgation of the decision even though the complainant and the handling prosecutor,
7, Tacloban City[presently assigned as Promulgated: Robert M. Visbal, were not present at that time. He reasoned that the complainant is not
Presiding Judge, Branch 13, entitled to be notified of the promulgation as she is neither the private complainant nor a
Carigara,Leyte], witness, while the prosecution was duly represented during the promulgation by Prosecutor
Respondent. February 27, 2009 Edgar A. Sabarre who was also assigned in the RTC. Respondent pointed out that the court
had already set the schedule of the promulgation. Hence, when Prosecutor Visbal opted not
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x to attend, it was for a reason only known to him.

Reacting to respondent's explanation regarding Prosecutor Visbal, the complainant


attached to her Reply[4] an Affidavit[5] executed by said prosecutor wherein the latter averred
DECISION that he was never informed of the date of the promulgation and that he was surprised to learn
that respondent judge promulgated the decision in Criminal Case No. 2000-10-580 with
Prosecutor Sabarre appearing in his behalf.
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: In his Rejoinder[6] respondent Judge claimed that his track record in deciding cases
filed with the OCA bear out that no case of his had been decided beyond the 90-day
In a verified letter-complaint[1] dated February 7, 2006 complainant Marietta Duque reglementary period, as some were even decided within thirty (30) and sixty (60) days from
charged respondent, Judge Crisostomo L. Garrido of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch the date the case was submitted for decision
7, Tacloban City, Leyte, with gross violation of Section 15, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution
for rendering a decision beyond ninety (90) days in Criminal Case No. 2000-10-580 In a Report[7] dated September 6, 2006, the OCA found respondent judge
entitled People v Reynaldo Caones y Royo Sr., et al. administratively liable for rendering a decision beyond the 90-day period in violation of
Section 15, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution and Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the Code of
Complainant is the alleged common-law wife of the murdered victim in the Judicial Conduct. Additionally, respondent was found to have violated the franking privilege
aforementioned Criminal Case No. 2000-10-580. She claimed that the respondent Judge under Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 26. The OCA thus recommended:
violated Section 15, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution for rendering a decision beyond the
90 day reglementary period without requesting an extension of time from this Court. She 1. That the instant administrative case be Re-docketed as a regular
alleged that the prosecution filed its Memorandum submitting the case for resolution on administrative matter.
August 10, 2005, but the respondent issued a Decision on December 12, 2005 which was 2. That respondent Judge Crisostomo L. Garrido be found Guilty of Undue
promulgated on January 27, 2006. Complainant further alleged that neither the offended Delay In Rendering A Decision, in which case he should be meted with a
party nor the handling prosecutor was notified of the promulgation. penalty of Fine in the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) with a
Stern Warning that a similar infraction in the future shall be dealt with more
In a 1st Indorsement[2] dated March 22, 2006, the Office of the Court Administrator severely.
(OCA) required respondent Judge to comment on the complaint within ten (10) days from
receipt thereof.
3. That respondent Judge Crisostomo L. Garrido be Admonished for deemed submitted for decision on that date. Accordingly, the decision should have been
violating the franking privilege in filing his rejoinder to this administrative rendered not later than November 8, 2005. However, respondent issued it only on December
case.[8] 12, 2005 which was more than four months after the case had been submitted for decision.

Respondent Judge Garrido clearly violated both the Constitution and the Code of
In the Resolution[9] dated October 9, 2006, the Court noted the letter-complaint, the Judicial Conduct when he failed to decide Criminal Case No. 2000-10-580 within the 90-day
comment of the respondent judge, the complainants reply, respondents rejoinder thereto and period to decide cases prescribed for the lower courts.
the report of the OCA.
Whenever a judge cannot decide a case promptly, all he has to do is to ask the Court
Subsequently, by Resolution dated December 11, 2006 [10], this Court required the for a reasonable extension of time to resolve it. [16] In this case, granting that it was for a
parties to manifest, within ten (10) days from notice, their willingness to submit the case for justifiable reason to render a decision or resolve a matter beyond the reglementary period,
resolution on the basis of the pleadings filed. In compliance thereto, both parties submitted the respondent could have sought additional time by simply filing a request for
their respective manifestations which the Court duly noted in the Resolution dated March 12, extension. Respondent, however, did not avail of such relief.
2007[11].
Respondent did not proffer any tenable justification for the delay in rendering the
We agree with the findings and recommendation of the OCA. decision. He insisted that it was proper and procedural to first resolve the parties'
memoranda before the case may be considered submitted for decision. He, thus, would want
Time and again, the Court has emphasized that the office of a judge exacts nothing the Court to consider his Order [17] dated September 13, 2005 resolving the memoranda of the
less than faithful observance of the Constitution and the law in the discharge of official duties. parties and declaring the case submitted for resolution as the starting point of the 90-day
period for deciding the case and not on August 10, 2005, the date when the last pleading was
Section 15 (1), Article VIII of the Constitution mandates lower court judges to decide filed.
a case within the reglementary period of 90 days, to wit:
Administrative Circular No. 28 issued by this Court on July 3, 1989 regarding the
(1) All cases or matters filed after the effectivity of this Constitution submission of memoranda for purposes of deciding cases, clearly provides:
must be decided or resolved within twenty-four months from date of
submission for the Supreme Court, and, unless reduced by the Supreme x x x The ninety (90) day period for deciding the case shall commence to run
Court, twelve months for all lower collegiate courts, and three months for all from submission of the case for decision without memoranda; in case the
other lower courts. (Emphasis ours) court requires or allows its filing, the case shall be considered submitted
for decision upon the filing of the last memorandum or upon the expiration
Likewise, the Code of Judicial Conduct under Rule 3.05 of Canon 3 dictates as of the period to do so, whichever is earlier. (Emphasis ours)
follows:

Rule 3.05 A judge shall dispose of the court's business promptly and A judge cannot even justify his delay in deciding a case on the excuse that he was
decide cases within the required periods. still awaiting the parties' memoranda. In Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 55, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental,[18] the Court held:
Indeed, rules prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done are
indispensable to prevent needless delays in the orderly and speedy disposition of x x x judges should decide cases even if the parties failed to submit
cases. Thus, the 90-day period within which to decide cases is mandatory.[12] The Court has memoranda within the given periods. Non-submission of memoranda is not
consistently emphasized strict observance of this rule in order to minimize the twin problems a justification for failure to decide cases. The filing of memoranda is not a
of congestion and delay that have long plagued our courts. [13] Any delay in the administration part of the trial nor is the memorandum itself an essential, much less
of justice, no matter how brief, deprives the litigant of his right to a speedy disposition of his indispensable pleading before a case may be submitted for decision. As
case, for, not only does it magnify the cost of seeking justice, it undermines the peoples faith it is merely intended to aid the court in the rendition of the decision in
and confidence in the judiciary, lowers its standards and brings it to disrepute. [14] accordance with law and evidence - which even in its absence the court can
do on the basis of the judges personal notes and the records of the case -
As readily gleaned from the records, the last pleading submitted i.e., the non-submission thereof has invariably been considered a waiver of the
Memorandum for the Prosecution, was filed on August 10, 2005 [15]. Thus, the case was privilege. (Emphasis ours)
Failure of a judge, such as respondent herein, to decide a case within the prescribed
period is inexcusable and constitutes gross inefficiency warranting a disciplinary sanction. [19]

Under Section 9(1)[20], Rule 140, as amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC, of the
Revised Rules of Court, undue delay in rendering a decision or order is categorized as a less
serious charge. Under Section 11(B) [21] of the same Rule, the penalty for such charge is
suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) nor more
than three (3) months, or a fine of more than P10,000 but not exceeding P20,000.

In a case, we held the respondent judge administratively liable for gross inefficiency
for delay in the disposition of cases and fined him P20,000.00 considering that he failed to act
promptly and decide eight (8) cases within the time prescribed by law and it was not the first
time that an administrative case was filed against said judge. [22]

In another, the respondent judge failed to decide three (3) cases and resolve eleven
(11) motions within the reglementary period. Considering that it was the judge's first offense,
the Court imposed a fine of P15,000.00.[23]

For failure of respondent judge in this case to decide Criminal Case No. 2000-10-580
within the prescribed period and taking into consideration the mitigating circumstance that it
was his first offense, we impose on him a fine of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00).

We agree with the findings of the OCA that respondent must also be penalized for
violation of P.D. No. 26[24] because he filed his Rejoinder to this administrative case taking
advantage of the franking privilege. Although such privilege is extended to judges, the same
refers only to official communications and papers directly connected with the conduct of
judicial proceedings which shall be transmitted in the mail free of charge. The respondent, in
mailing his Rejoinder, made it appear that the same is an official court process as the
envelope used bears his station and the words FREE FROM POSTAGE. We concur with
the OCA that respondent be admonished for such violation.

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Crisostomo L. Garrido is hereby found GUILTY of


GROSS INEFFICIENCY for delay in the disposition of a case and for which he is FINED Ten
Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00). He is likewise found GUILTY of violation of Presidential
Decree No. 26 for which he is ADMONISHED. He is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of
the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of the
decision be attached to his personal record.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines respondent committed gross inefficiency when he unduly delayed actions in a huge number of cases.
SUPREME COURT The OCA recommended that respondent be finedP20,000. Furthermore, the OCA recommended that
Manila Judge Absin be directed to decide and resolve the cases pending in respondents sala. The OCA
likewise directed the designation of Judge Loreto C. Quinto6 as assisting judge.
THIRD DIVISION
The factual findings of the OCA are well-taken. However, we vary the penalty imposed in the light of the
A.M. No. RTJ-07-2045 January 19, 2010 circumstances of the case.

OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, Complainant, It is settled that failure to decide or resolve cases within the reglementary period constitutes gross
vs. inefficiency7and is not excusable. It is a less serious charge8 and is punishable by either suspension
JUDGE HARUN B. ISMAEL, Respondent. from office without salaries and benefits for not less than one month but not more than three months, or
a fine of more than P10,000 but not exceeding P20,000.91avvphi1
RESOLUTION
The New Code of Judicial Conduct requires that a judge shall perform all judicial duties, including the
CORONA, J.: delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently, fairly and with reasonable promptness.10 Rule 3.05, Canon 3
of the Code11admonishes all judges to dispose of the courts business promptly and decide
cases12 within the period specified in Section 15 (1) and (2), Article VIII of the Constitution.13
On April 25 to May 14, 2005, a judicial audit was conducted in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 22, presided over by respondent Judge Harun B. Ismael.
We emphasize that the administration of justice is a joint responsibility of the judge and the lawyer.14 As
aptly held in Salvador v. Judge Limsiaco:15
The judicial audit resulted in the issuance of a memorandum dated June 9, 2005 by the Office of Court
Administrator (OCA)1 directing respondent to explain his failure to decide and act on current and
inherited cases, as well as to resolve incidents in various cases pending before him, within the A judges foremost consideration is the administration of justice. Thus, he should follow the time limit set
reglementary period provided by law.2 Respondent was likewise directed to inform the OCA if cases for deciding cases. xxx Failure to comply within the mandated period constitutes a serious violation of
already submitted for decision or resolution had in fact been decided or resolved within the the constitutional right of the parties to a speedy disposition of their cases. It also undermines the
reglementary period.3 peoples faith and confidence in the judiciary, lowers its standards and brings it to disrepute. Decision
making, among other duties, is the most important duty of a member of the bench. (citations omitted)

Consequently, respondent was ordered to immediately cease hearing cases in his sala and confine
himself to deciding or resolving cases submitted for decision or resolution. In respondents stead, Judge Pursuant to A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC,16 this administrative case against respondent shall also be
Edilberto G. Absin was directed to handle active cases, other than cases submitted for decision, until considered as a disciplinary proceeding against him as a member of the bar.17 Violation of the basic
respondent could comply with the directives or until he retired. tenets of judicial conduct embodied in the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary and
the Code of Judicial Conduct constitutes a breach of Canons 118 and 1219 as well as Rules 1.0320 and
12.0421 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).
The OCA likewise directed Atty. Insor A. Pantaran to explain the results of the audit, as was required of
respondent. Atty. Pantaran was the clerk of court of the RTC of Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch
22 during respondents tenure. Atty. Pantaran complied with the June 9, 2005 memorandum in a letter WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Harun B. Ismael is hereby found GUILTY of gross inefficiency and
dated May 19, 2006.4 violation of Section 5, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary for
which he is FINED in the amount of P20,000.

In its memorandum dated February 26, 2007,5 the OCA noted that respondent failed to fully comply with
its directives in the June 9, 2005 memorandum. Neither did he ask for extensions of time within which to Respondent is likewise found GUILTY of violation of Canons 1 and 12 as well as Rules 1.03, 10.03 and
comply with the subject directives. 12.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for which he is FINED in the amount of P10,000.

On examination of Atty. Pantarans May 19, 2006 letter/compliance, the OCA found that respondent had Let a copy of this resolution be attached to the personal records of respondent in the Office of
partially complied with the directives of the June 9, 2005 memorandum, having already decided or Administrative Services, the Office of the Court Administrator and the Office of the Bar Confidant.
resolved some of the cases he was directed to act on. Nonetheless, the OCA established that
SO ORDERED .
September 29, 2010

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

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:
SECOND DIVISION

This is an administrative complaint for disbarment and dismissal from judiciary service
filed by complainant Judge Adoracion G. Angeles (Judge Angeles)against respondent Hon.
Maria Elisa Sempio Diy (Judge Sempio Diy), Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
JUDGE ADORACION G. Quezon City, Branch 225, which stemmed from consolidated Criminal Case Nos. Q-95-61294
ANGELES, A.M. No. RTJ-10-2248* and Q-95-62690 entitled People of the Philippines v. Proclyn Pacay and People of the
Philippines v. P/Insp. Roberto Ganias, respectively.
Complainant, Judge Angeles charges respondent Judge Sempio Diy with Violations of Section 15
(1), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution; Section 2, Canon 2 and Section 5 Canon 6 of the
Present: New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary; Rule 1.01 and 1.02, Canon 1 and
Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct; Number 6 of the Code of Judicial Ethics;
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility; Section 4 paragraph b of
Republic Act No. 6713 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees; Falsification of Official Documents; and Dishonesty. Complainant urges the
CARPIO, J., Chairperson, Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) to examine the numerous violations allegedly
committed by the respondent and to make an assessment if, indeed, she is still worthy to
- versus - NACHURA, wear the judicial robe or, if her continued presence on the bench would unduly tarnish the
image of the judiciary.[1]
PERALTA,
In her Comment,[2] respondent Judge Sempio Diy vehemently denies the material
allegations in the complaint. She claims that complainants charges are harsh, rash and
PEREZ,** and
baseless, calculated merely to harass and destroy the reputation of a younger sister in the
profession.[3]
MENDOZA, JJ.
As synthesized by the OCA in its Report [4] dated May 7, 2010, the facts of the case are
JUDGE MARIA ELISA as follows:

SEMPIO DIY, Complainant Judge Angeles alleges that she is the private
complainant in the above-mentioned cases which, by order of respondent
Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Judge Sempio-Diy dated 20 June 2008, were submitted for decision, and the
Quezon City, Branch promulgation of judgment was set for 11 September 2008. In a
225, subsequent Order dated 8 September 2008, respondent Judge Sempio-Diy
Promulgated:
moved the promulgation of judgment to 17 September 2008, for the reason
Respondent. that she had a previously scheduled medical consultation concerning a neck
ailment. Thereafter, the promulgation of judgment on 17 September 2008
was cancelled and reset to 17 October 2008, with respondent Judge Sempio-
Diy citing voluminous case records and health problems as grounds to January 2009. However, it was not until 30 July 2009, or more than six (6)
support her request before the Court of a thirty (30)-day extension. months later, that respondent Judge Sempio-Diy issued an Order submitting
the incident for resolution, it appearing that the accused through counsel
has failed to file the necessary pleading despite the period given by the
On 17 October 2008, the promulgation of judgment was once again Court. Less than a month later, or on 24 August 2009, respondent Judge
cancelled and reset to 14 November 2008 on account of a second request Sempio-Diy resolved the pending matter by denying the Urgent Motion for
for extension of time based on the ground that respondent Judge Sempio-Diy Reconsideration for lack of merit.
had just recently arrived from a trip to the United States where she attended
a symposium on religious freedom. Following a third request for extension of
time, the promulgation of judgment was reset for the last time to 12 Despite the denial of the said Urgent Motion for Reconsideration,
December 2008. things did not sit well for complainant Judge Angeles. For her, the Resolution
dated 24 August 2009 was belatedly issued by respondent Judge Sempio-
Finally, the Joint Decision in the subject criminal cases was Diy. First and foremost, she contends that the incident should have been
promulgated on 12 December 2008, wherein all the accused, except for submitted for resolution upon the filing of the prosecutions Opposition on 14
accused SPO1 Roberto C. Carino, were acquitted. To complainant Judge January 2009. And yet, it was more than six (6) months later, or only on 30
Angeles, the said Decision was belatedly rendered because there was a July 2009, that respondent Judge Sempio-Diy issued the Order submitting
lapse of six (6) months from the time it was submitted for resolution to the the said incident for resolution. Secondly, complainant Judge Angeles asserts
time it was promulgated. She further avers that her personal examination of that there was no basis for the trial court to have to wait for more than six (6)
the case records revealed that no requests for extension of time to decide months before submitting the motion for resolution considering that there
the subject cases were made by respondent Judge Sempio-Diy. Likewise, exists no order in the case records directing the accused SPO1 Roberto C.
she notes that the case records do not show that requests for extension of Carino, through counsel, to file the necessary pleading. Asserting that there
time, if any had indeed been made by respondent Judge Sempio-Diy, were was no basis for submitting the incident for resolution only after the lapse of
granted by the Supreme Court. It is her opinion that such requests and six (6) months, complainant Judge Angeles further contends that the
Resolutions of the Supreme Court granting the same should be made Resolution issued by respondent Judge Sempio-Diy on 24 August 2009
integral parts of the case records. denying the Urgent Motion for Reconsideration was likewise delayed for a
total of more than seven (7) months.
As for the reasons proffered by respondent Judge Sempio-Diy for the
repeated cancellation and resetting of the dates for promulgation of To support her assertions, complainant Judge Angeles attached to
judgment, complainant Judge Angeles argues that: (1) respondent Judge her COMPLAINT a Certification issued by Benedict S. Sta. Cruz, Branch
Sempio-Diys medical check-up could have been done on any other day that Clerk of Court of RTC, Branch 225, Quezon City, wherein the latter attested
would not conflict with the scheduled promulgation; (2) the neck ailment was that, based on the record of People vs. Proclyn Pacay, et al., Criminal Case
not as serious as it was made to appear because respondent Judge Sempio- Nos. Q-95-61294 and Q-95-62690, it appears that there is no order from the
Diy was able to travel abroad to attend a symposium; and (3) the claim that Court directing the defense to file a reply to the Comment/Opposition (to the
she needed time to study the voluminous case records is not a valid excuse Motion for Reconsideration) filed by the prosecution on January 14, 2009.
because respondent Judge Sempio-Diy found time to travel abroad instead She also points out that there appears to be an irregularity in the face of the
of attending to her pending cases. Order submitting the incident for resolution. In particular, she refers to the
date of its issuance July 30, 2009which is written in a different font
In fine, complainant Judge Angeles is adamant in her contention that when compared to the rest of the contents of the said Order. She, therefore,
the Joint Decision in the subject criminal cases was rendered way beyond contends that the said date was merely typewritten in lieu of another date
the 90-day period prescribed by the Constitution. In addition, complainant which was snowpaked.
Judge Angeles raises another instance where respondent Judge Sempio-Diy
is supposed to have incurred unjustifiable delay. By failing to decide/resolve the subject cases and the Urgent Motion
for Reconsideration within the period mandated by law and jurisprudence, as
As it happened, convicted accused SPO1 Roberto C. Carino well as in falsifying official documents, complainant Judge Angeles now
assailed the Joint Decision by filing an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration on stresses, respondent Judge Sempio-Diy violated the pertinent provisions of
5 January 2009, which the prosecution countered in its Opposition filed on 14 the Constitution, New Code of Judicial Conduct, Code of Judicial Ethics,
Code of Professional Responsibility, and the Code of Conduct and Ethical voluminous records of the subject cases, she nevertheless manifests that
Standards for Public Officials. these were kept in a separate folder.

For her part, respondent Judge Sempio-Diy belies the accusations With regard to the Urgent Motion for Reconsideration, she points out
hurled at her by complainant Judge Angeles in the latters COMPLAINT. In that the delay was inadvertently incurred in good faith. During the hearing of
her COMMENT dated 2 December 2009, respondent Judge Sempio-Diy the said motion on 29 January 2009, the request of the defense for time to
counters that she decided the subject cases in due time and within the file the necessary pleadings was granted, for which reason, she says, the
extended period granted by the Supreme Court. She maintains that the said motion could not yet be submitted for resolution. She deemed it prudent
orders resetting the promulgation of judgment were issued in good faith and to give the parties a reasonable period of time within which to submit their
in the interest of full transparency, pursuant to her request to decide the adversarial pleadings. To substantiate this contention, respondent Judge
subject cases expeditiously. Sempio-Diy attached to her COMMENT the transcript of stenographic notes
taken on that day and the Minutes of the proceedings of the same day.

For starters, she notes that she merely inherited the subject cases In the light of the foregoing, respondent Judge Sempio-Diy discredits
which had already been previously handled by three (3) other judges from the import of the Certification issued by the Branch Clerk of Court, Benedict
the time they were filed in 1995. Thus, the case records were voluminous. S. Sta. Cruz, by arguing that, while there is no order appearing in the case
records directing accused SPO1 Carino to file his Reply to the prosecutions
For another, the first resetting of the promulgation of judgment from Comment to his Urgent Motion for Reconsideration, the said directive
11 September to 17 September 2008 was occasioned by her illness, which appears in the Minutes of the hearing conducted on 29 January 2009. She
assertion she substantiated by way of a Medical Certificate. She points out likewise notes that during the said hearing, the said Branch Clerk of Court
that the setting of the promulgation of judgment on 17 September 2008 is still was not present.
within the Constitutionally-prescribed 90-day period for deciding the subject
cases. Respondent Judge Sempio-Diy likewise attributes the inadvertent
delay to the unfortunate crises that befell her, her mother, and the courts
As for the three (3) subsequent re-settings, she avers that she timely personnel sometime in May to July of 2009. She reported to the Office of the
asked for extensions of the period, all of which were granted by the Supreme Court Administrator that they received a series of death threats which
Court. To support her claim that she did not incur delay in the promulgation of caused, among others, disorientation. Thus, it was only on 30 July 2009,
judgment, she appended to her COMMENT certified true copies of her first after the semi-annual inventory, that an Order submitting the matter for
and second letters/requests addressed to the then Assistant Court resolution was issued. She stresses that the incident was resolved within
Administrator, Jesus Edwin A. Villasor (now Deputy Court Administrator) and thirty (30) days from its submission. As for the snowpaked correction of the
other related documents. These requests were favorably considered by the date of the said Order, she avers that this was simply due to a typographical
Court and she was granted an extension of a total of ninety (90) days from error.[5]
18 September 2008.

She likewise attached to her COMMENT a copy of her third Complainant Judge Angeles filed her Reply to respondents Comment and,
letter/request to prove that this was filed prior to the lapse of the original 90- thereafter, respondent Judge Sempio Diy filed her Rejoinder in amplification of their
day extended period granted to her. In fine, she insists that there was no respective claims. Later, complainant filed her Sur-Rejoinder on February 9, 2010 while
unjustified delay when the Joint Decision was finally promulgated on 12 respondent filed her Reply to the Sur-Rejoinder on February 18, 2010.
December 2008 as the same was still within the original 90-day extended
period reckoned from 18 September 2008. The Courts granting of her third In its evaluation, the OCA found that Judge Sempio Diy cannot be held guilty of
request for an additional thirty (30) days in a Resolution dated 16 February unreasonable delay in rendering the Joint Decision in Criminal Case Nos. Q-95-61294 and Q-
2009 had, by then, become moot and academic. 95-62690 given her seasonably-filed requests for extension of time. The requests were all
granted by this Court in the November 24, 2008 Resolution, giving respondent a total
While she admits that her letters/requests for extension and the extension period of ninety (90) days from September 18, 2008. The OCA, however, opined
Supreme Court Resolutions granting the same were not attached to the that respondent should be administratively sanctioned for incurring delay in the resolution of
accused Carinos Urgent Motion for Reconsideration.
The OCA recommended that the case be re-docketed as a regular administrative Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct [9] admonishes all judges to
matter against Judge Sempio Diy and that she be fined in the amount ofP2,000.00 for her dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the period specified in
delayed action on a motion for reconsideration with a stern warning that a repetition of the Section 15 (1) and (2), Article VIII of the Constitution. [10] This is supplemented by Section 5,
same or similar act would be dealt with more severely.[6] Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, requiring judges to
perform all judicial duties efficiently, fairly and with reasonable promptness. [11]
After a judicious review of the records of the case, this Court determines that the
findings of the OCA are well-taken. However, We modify the recommended disposition in
light of the circumstances of the case. A careful perusal of the transcript of stenographic notes [12] and the Minutes[13] of the
hearing held on January 29, 2009 in Criminal Case Nos. Q-95-61294 and Q-95-62690,
The Court finds no evidence to sustain the charges of delay against Judge Sempio would clearly show that respondent indeed gave the defense ten (10) days to submit its reply
Diy in rendering the Joint Decision in the consolidated Criminal Case Nos. Q-95-61294 and to the prosecutions comment on the motion for reconsideration and, thereafter, she would
Q-95-62690. It is the stance of the complainant that Judge Sempio Diy merely sat on the resolve all pending incidents in said consolidated cases. As correctly observed by the OCA,
cases for an unreasonable length of time and failed to resolve them within the constitutionally the reglementary period to resolve the motion in question began to run from February 8, 2009
prescribed 90-day period. This constituted gross inefficiency warranting the imposition of or after the lapse of ten days from January 29, 2009. Respondent, however, did not act on
administrative sanctions. Judge Angeles accuses respondent of concocting requests for the matter and allowed a hiatus in the consolidated criminal cases. A judge cannot choose to
extension and making it appear that these requests were granted by this Court. Complainant prolong the period for resolving pending incidents and deciding cases beyond the period
avers that she perused the records of the consolidated criminal cases but respondents authorized by law. Let it be underscored that it is the sworn duty of judges to administer
alleged requests for extension and the Courts Resolutions allowing them were nowhere to be justice without undue delay under the time-honored precept that justice delayed is justice
found. denied. Judges should act with dispatch in resolving pending incidents, so as not to frustrate
and delay the satisfaction of a judgment.[14]
Complainants contentions fail.
Judge Sempio Diy, having been a member of the judiciary for several years, should
Records reveal that Judge Sempio Diy timely sought for three successive not have any trouble disposing the courts business and resolving motions for reconsideration
extensions[7] of the period to decide the consolidated criminal cases. All requests were within the required period. Otherwise, she should formally request this Court for an extension
favorably considered by this Court. [8] Respondent was granted a total extension period of of the deadline to avoid administrative liability. Unfortunately, she failed to do that in these
ninety (90) days to be reckoned from September 18, 2008 or until December 18, 2008. So, cases. Delay in resolving motions and incidents within the reglementary period of 90 days
the promulgation of Joint Decision on December 12, 2008 was made well within the 90-day fixed by the law cannot be excused or condoned.[15]
extension period. Complainant should have first verified the veracity and accuracy of her
allegations from the records of Branch 225, this Court and the OCA, before hurling Respondents claim of death threats on her and her staff, even if real, would not
accusations of dishonesty and slothful conduct against respondent. Truly, respondent was constitute a valid excuse for her inaction. After all, as member of the judiciary, she must
charged with a litany of imagined sins relative to her alleged undue delay in deciding the display diligence and competence amid all adversities to live up to her oath of
subject consolidated criminal cases without sufficient proof. office. Besides, when said threats were received from May to July 2009, the three-month
mandatory period for resolving the motion had already expired. Accordingly, respondent
We hold, however, that there was indeed delay in resolving accused Carinos Urgent cannot rely on said predicament to exonerate her from administrative liability for incurring
Motion for Reconsideration filed on January 5, 2009. undue delay in resolving the subject motion. Although it is true that Judge Sempio Diy finally
issued a resolution[16] denying accused Carinos motion for reconsideration on August 24,
Respondent Judge Sempio Diy claims that the delay in submitting accuseds motion 2009 or within 30 days from the time the incident was submitted for resolution on July 30,
for reconsideration was due to inadvertence and without bad faith on her part. She explains 2009, her inaction on the motion for more than 6 months is not excused.
that she opted to wait for the defense to file its reply to the prosecutions comment on the
motion for reconsideration because the offense of which accused was convicted was serious
and his liberty was at stake. She adds that the death threats she and the members of her It appears that respondent has simply forgotten about the pending motion for
judicial staff received from May to July 2009, caused them disorientation and contributed reconsideration in Criminal Case Nos. Q-95-61294 and Q-95-62690 after said cases
further to the delay in the resolution of the subject motion. She readily admits that it was only became inactive due to the failure of the defense to submit its reply. The realization of the
after the semi-annual inventory that the pending incidents in the consolidated criminal cases blunder came only during the semi-annual inventory of the courts cases. This situation could
were considered submitted for resolution in the July 30, 2009 Order. have been avoided had respondent adopted an effective system of record management and
organization of dockets to monitor the flow of cases for prompt and efficient dispatch of the Under Section 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, undue delay in rendering a decision
courts business. Elementary court management practice requires her to keep her own or order constitutes a less serious charge punishable by either suspension from office without
records or notes of cases pending before her sala, especially those that are pending for more salary and other benefits for not less than one month nor more than three months or a fine of
than 90 days, so that she can act on them promptly and without delay. In Ricolcol v. Judge not more than P10,000.00 but not exceedingP20,000.00. However, considering that this is
Camarista,[17]the Court declared: her first infraction due to inadvertence, We believe that admonition will suffice.

A judge ought to know the cases submitted to her for decision or WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Maria Elisa Sempio Diy is found to have been in
resolution and is expected to keep her own record of cases so that she may delay in the rendition of an order in Criminal Case Nos. Q-95-61294 and Q-95-62690 and
act on them promptly. It is incumbent upon her to devise an efficient is hereby ADMONISHED to be more circumspect in observing the reglementary period for
recording and filing system in her court so that no disorderliness can affect disposing of motions.
the flow of cases and their speedy disposition. Proper and efficient court
management is as much her responsibility. She is the one directly
responsible for the proper discharge of her official functions. SO ORDERED.

The Court reminds the respondent of her duty to closely supervise and monitor the
monthly docket inventories to forestall future occurrences of this nature. Pertinently, the Court
held in Gordon v. Judge Lilagan:[18]
The physical inventory of cases is instrumental to the expeditious
dispensation of justice. Although this responsibility primarily rests in the
presiding judge, it is shared with the court staff. This Court has consistently
required Judges for a continuous inventory of cases on a monthly basis so
that a trial judge is aware of the status of each case. With the assistance of
the branch clerk of court, a checklist should be prepared indicating the steps
to be taken to keep the cases moving. InJuan v. Arias [72 SCRA 404 (1976)],
the Court underscored the importance of this physical inventory stressing it
is only by this that the judge can keep himself abreast of the status of the
pending cases and informed that everything is in order in his court.

Pursuant to A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC,[19] this administrative case against respondent shall
also be considered a disciplinary proceeding against her as a member of the bar. [20] Violation
of the basic tenets of judicial conduct embodied in the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the
Philippine Judiciary and the Code of Judicial Conduct constitutes a breach of Canons 1 [21] and
12[22] as well as Rules 1.03[23] and 12.04[24] of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

In determining the sanction to be imposed on errant magistrates, the Court considers


the factual milieu of each case, the offending acts or omissions of the judges, as well as
previous transgressions, if any. In the instant case, there is no evidence to show any dubious
reason or improper motive that could have compelled respondent to delay the resolution of
the subject motion. In fact, when respondent found out about the unresolved subject motion
in the consolidated cases, she immediately ordered its submission for resolution on July 30,
2009. In the absence of malice, the delay could only be due to inadvertence. It is significant
to note that respondent resolved the motion within thirty days from its submission date which
clearly showed her effort to zealously attend to her duties. Lastly, it appears that this is her
first infraction and the first time for her to face an administrative complaint of this kind.
TINGA,

CHICO-NAZARIO,

VELASCO, JR.,
JUDGE IRENEO LEE GAKO, JR., Presiding
Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch NACHURA,
5, Cebu City,
REYES,
Respondent.

EN BANC LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and

BRION, JJ.
CITY OF CEBU, A.M. No. RTJ-08-2111

Complainant, (Formerly A.M. No. 05-2207-RTJ)


Promulgated:

Present:
May 7, 2008

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

PUNO, C.J.,

QUISUMBING,
DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO,
NACHURA, J.:
CARPIO,
- versus -
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,*

CORONA,* Before the Court is an administrative complaint filed by the City of Cebu against now
retired Judge Ireneo Lee Gako, Jr.[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 5, Cebu City,
for serious misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, willful violation of rules and laws, judicial
CARPIO MORALES, interference, tolerating forum-shopping, and violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics.

AZCUNA,
Following established procedure, the Court initially referred the complaint to the
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, report and recommendation. [2] The
OCA later found the respondent judge administratively liable for undue delay in deciding Civil Complainant City of Cebu accused respondent judge of
Case No. CEB-29570, and for gross ignorance of the law, which is tantamount to grave procrastinating and virtually sitting on the main case of injunction, which he
abuse of judicial authority, when he violated the doctrine of non-interference in Civil Case No. voluntarily promised to resolve before the end of the month (December
30684. The OCA, therefore, recommended that the case be re-docketed as a regular 2003). The Order dated 12 December 2003 of respondent judge shows that
administrative matter; the respondent judge be fined P11,000.00 and be suspended without he suggested not to issue a Temporary Restraining Order, but, nevertheless
pay for 6 months; and the motion to direct the respondent to compulsorily inhibit himself from and quite confusingly, enjoined the parties to observe the status quo, since
all cases pending in his court in which complainant is a party-litigant be denied for being the decision of the court on the main case of injunction is forthcoming at the
judicial in character.[3] end of the month. However, the decision came only on 6 December
2004 after complainant filed an Omnibus Manifestation on 10 October 2004,
reminding the judge to make good his former and own commitment. This
delay cost the city ofCebu to sustain substantial damages as it miserably
Subsequently, the Court designated Court of Appeals Associate Justice Enrico A. failed to collect real property taxes.
Lanzanas to further investigate and evaluate the charges leveled against the respondent. As
summarized by the said Investigating Justice, the factual backdrop of the charges is as
follows:
Complainant additionally accused respondent judge of having
calculatingly failed to take judicial notice of a decided case [Philippine Ports
Authority (PPA) vs. City of Ilo-Ilo, G.R. No. 109791, July 14, 2003] which the
1) Serious Misconduct and Gross Ignorance of the Law on Two Counts city invoked as case law for the dismissal of the complaint and, at the same
time, relied upon by plaintiff CPA to champion in the latters main cause of
action. Had the respondent judge considered the case with utmost
circumspection, he would have resolved the main issue at the earliest
1.a) In Civil Case. No. CEB-26607: Spouses Roque and Fatima Ting possible time in the citys favor, the main issue in the case of CPA v.
vs. City of Cebu, complainant charged respondent judge for having arrogated Cebu City having been squarely ruled upon already in the cited PPA case.
unto himself the duty which pertains to that of a counsel, when respondent
judge called to the witness stand a certain Mr. Darza as witness of the court,
when neither parties lawyers in the said civil case were interested to present
said person as their witness. During the appointed hearing, respondent xxxx
judge, by himself, conducted the lengthy examination, without even making
an offer of the purpose for which the witness testimony is presented, while
the counsels refused to propound any question to the witness.
2) Willful Violation of Rules and Laws, on Four (4) Counts including Two (2)
Counts of Judicial Interference.

xxxx

This involves four distinct actions perpetrated in separate incidents


involving four cases, namely:
1.b) The 2nd count under this charge of misconduct, etc., arose
from the proceedings in Civil Case No. CEB-29570: Cebu Ports Authority
(CPA) vs. City of Cebu. Plaintiff in this case sought a temporary and
permanent declaration from the court of respondent judge to enjoin Cebu 2.a) Civil Case No. CEB-26066: Roy Feliciano, et al. vs. City
City from further proceeding with the auction sale of the port and plaintiffs of Cebu, et al. This case is one for Injunction, with Prayer for Issuance of
other properties owing to the notice and warrant of levy issued against CPA Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Preliminary Mandatory Injunction
after the latter refused to pay the real property taxes assessed by the city by reason of the defendant-city of Cebus issuance and implementation of a
against it. CPA claimed being exempted from its coverage. Demolition Order against the houses/structures of Feliciano, et al., the
plaintiffs, the latter having physically and publicly occupied a road lot and
sidewalk at the North Reclamation Area in Cebu City.
2.c) Civil Case No. CEB-30411: Simplicio Giltendez, doing
business under the name and style Central PUV and V-hire
Terminal vs. Cebu City, et al. (For Declaration of Unconstitutionality of City
During the hearing for the application of TRO, Feliciano, one of the Ordinance No. 1958) third case, hereinafter.
plaintiffs, who took the witness stand, admitted in open court their occupancy
of the sidewalk. Article 694 of the Civil Code defines nuisance as any act,
omission, establishment, business, condition of property, or anything else
which, among others, obstructs or interferes with the free passage of any Believing that Mr. Lasaleta, the plaintiff in the second case, is guilty of
public highway or street. The law allows the summary demolition or removal forum-shopping, which position is bolstered by his admission in the
of the structures considered as public nuisance. Thus, on the basis of Verification and Certification attached to his complaint in the second case, a
plaintiffs judicial admission, that they are occupying a sidewalk, the city portion of which states that he reserves to withdraw his name in the first case
of Cebu filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. Instead of dismissing the after the filing of the second, Cebu City posits that the first and second case,
complaint, respondent judge proceeded with the trial. It is for this act that or at least one of them should have been dismissed outright by respondent
complainant Cebu Cityin this administrative case accuses respondent judge judge, failing which, judge Gako is guilty of willfully violating the rules
of willful violation of the foregoing laws and rules. proscribing forum shopping and for tolerating an act which amounts to direct
contempt of court. The city asserts that this issue was raised in its Motion for
Summary Judgment in the foregoing consolidated terminal cases.

It is further complained that respondent judge in this Feliciano xxxx


case granted plaintiffs demand to be relocated absent any law to support
therefor or lacking proof in plaintiffs pleadings that they were qualified and
not disqualified beneficiaries for the relocation and settlement, as required
under Sections 16 and 17 of Republic Act. No. 7279; that the afore-cited laws Referring to the third terminal case, additional charge is posed by
were completely disregarded by the respondent judge, as if they never exist. complainant against the judge in granting plaintiffs application for TRO,
It is advanced that the act of respondent judge of tolerating plaintiffs violation being unfounded and without legal basis. Cebu City, as defendant therein,
of certain requirement of the law amounts to his own violation thereof. contended that plaintiff in said case was operating without a business permit,
did not comply with the requirements of the local ordinance regulating the
operation of the terminal, did not have a Memorandum of Agreement with the
city to operate as such, and did not possess the necessary building permit for
xxxx the structures that were being used in the operation of his business. Judge
Gakos act of issuing TRO, therefore, constitutes another violation of the
provisions concerning the requirement of granting injunctive relief under the
Rules of Court.
2.b) Civil Case No. CEB-29550: Colon Transport Terminal,
represented by its Operator, Engr. Renato C. Asegurado, and Inter Urban
PUV Terminal, represented by its Operator, Jessie S. Lasaleta, vs. Cebu City
Police Traffic Group, et al. (For: Preliminary Injunction and Permanent Likewise, the above Order of respondent judge, granting the
Mandatory Injunction), referred to hereinafter as, first case. application for a TRO, also makes him guilty of interference and total
disrespect of what the Court of Appeals (CA) has decided in CA-G.R. SP No.
74053. The CA in this cited case upheld the validity of Ordinance No.
1837. In that CA decision, it was acknowledged that the city of Cebu is
Civil Case No. CEB-29730: Mr. Jessie S. Lasaleta, doing business authorized to sort out a re-routing of the traffic flow in the spirit of the orderly
under the trade name and style Inter Urban PUV Terminal, vs. City of Cebu, implementation of the subject ordinance. Said city ordinance was the very
et al. (For: Declaration of Nullity of City Ordinance No. 1958, as amended basis of the citys re-routing scheme.
with Prayer for Permanent Injunction), second case for brevity.
xxxx member; allowing parties to write decisions for him; and failure to rule on
Cebu Citys motions for Consolidation and Summary Judgment in the
transport cases above-mentioned while allowing the other party to present
evidence to prove damages, in effect, proceeding to trial proper without pre-
2.d) Civil Case No. CEB-30684: Cebu 3rd District V-Hire Operators trial.
& Drivers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, represented by Gina Virgilia A.
Sanchez, vs. City of Cebu, et al. (For Declaration of Unconstitutionality of
City Ordinance No. 1958, Mandamus with Injunction, and Prayer for
Temporary Restraining Order). xxxx

This is the fourth count, of Cebu Citys charge against judge Gako, for (4) Violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics.
willful violation of laws and rules, at the same time, a second count of
violation for judicial interference.

Complainant claims that the foregoing acts of respondent also


infringe various canons in the Code of Judicial Conduct, viz.:
Relevant to this case is Civil Case No. CEB-27643: Cebu 3rd District
V-Hire Operators & Drivers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, represented by Msgr.
Jose Diapen, vs. City Counsel of Cebu City, et al. (For Injunction with Prayer
for the Issuance of TRO and Writ of Preliminary Injunction), which was raffled In the Ting case above, Civil Case No. CEB-26607, in addition to
to Branch 58, Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, where plaintiffs applications being constitutive of willful misconduct and gross ignorance of the law, the
for TRO and Writ of Preliminary Injunction were denied by the presiding act of respondent judge in acting as litigants lawyer, by obtaining the
judge therein, in the Orders dated 3 July 2002 and 21 October 2002. The testimony of a person despite the fact that both counsels were not interested
main case being one for Injunction, the mentioned orders of denial had the in introducing said person as their witness; and the judges act of conducting,
effect of disposing the same, and plaintiff neither having appealed therefrom by himself, the direct examination thereof, violate Canon 2, Rule 2.01. of the
nor questioned said orders, the same already became final and executory. Code of Judicial Conduct: A judge should so behave at all times as to
promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.;
and Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics: A judges official conduct
should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal
Here, it is contended by Cebu City that despite its effort to bring this behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of judicial duties,
fact to the attention of respondent judge, the latter, in open display of judicial but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach.
arrogance, interfered with these orders of a coordinate and co-equal court by
giving due course to Civil Case No. CEB-30684, a case filed in 2004
subsequent to CEB-27643. Respondents act herein likewise constitutes
disrespect of a final ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. SP No. Likewise, in the CPA case, Civil Case No. CEB-29570, respondent
74053). Worse, said complainant, Judge Gako granted plaintiffs application judges actuation of reneging to his declaration to resolve the case within a
of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction. specified period infringes Canon 1, Rule 1.02 of the same Code: A judge
should administer justice impartially and without delay.

(3) Other Violations.


Finally, to complainant, all of the foregoing charges relative to the
comportment of respondent judge during the proceedings in the cited cases,
which earn him the charges of Serious Misconduct and Gross Ignorance of
Complainant is referring to the alleged practice of respondent judge the Law, Willful Violation of Rules and Laws, Judicial Interference on several
of resorting to injunction-for-sale with the active meddling of a family counts, demonstrate grave incompetence; running afoul to Rule 1.01, Canon
1 of the cited Code: A judge should be the embodiment of competence, contract being litigated.[6] In not a few cases, this Court has declared that the trial judge, if he
integrity and independence. is not satisfied after hearing all the evidence adduced by the parties, may, in the exercise of
sound discretion, on his own motion and in furtherance of justice, call additional witnesses or
recall some or the same witnesses for the purpose of questioning them himself to enlighten
him on particular facts or issues involved in the case. [7]
x x x x [4]

As to the four charges of willful violation of laws and rules, the Court finds them
without merit. The complainant failed to clearly prove error or ill will on the part of the
respondent judge in denying the motion to dismiss Civil Case No. CEB-26066. Granting that
After weighing the arguments and the evidence of the parties, the Investigating respondent erred in denying the motion, the complainant should have appealed or petitioned
Justice found the respondent judge liable only for undue delay in deciding Civil Case No. for the issuance of a writ of certiorari. Fundamental is the rule that where the remedies of
CEB-29570, and recommended the following: appeal and/or certiorari are available, recourse to an administrative complaint for the
correction of actions of a judge perceived to have gone beyond the norms of propriety is
improper.[8]
WHEREFORE, the above-discussed circumstances considered, the
undersigned respectfully recommends that Judge Ireneo Lee
Gako, Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 5, be SUSPENDED from We extend the same treatment to the other charges leveled against the respondent
office without salary and other benefits for two (2) months, for undue delay particularly those involving his acts in Civil Case Nos. CEB-29550, CEB-29730, CEB-30411
in rendering a decision in Civil Case No. CEB-29570: Cebu Ports Authority and CEB-30684. The Court finds neither malicious nor corrupt motive in respondents non-
vs. CebuCity. dismissal of Civil Case Nos. CEB-29550 and CEB-29730 on account of forum shopping. No
viciousness can further be presumed from respondent judges issuance of a temporary
restraining order in Civil Case No. CEB-30411, considering that the grant of the injunctive
As regards the motion for respondents inhibition, Judge Ireneo Lee relief in that case was preceded by a thorough consideration of the positions of the parties
Gako is advised to voluntarily inhibit from hearing or taking cognizance of the after the conduct of a hearing. [9] On the charges of judicial interference and disrespect
cases pending before him, where complainant is a party-litigant; only with towards a decision of the appellate court, specifically those involving Civil Case Nos. CEB-
respect to those cases involved in this administrative case. 30411 and CEB-30684, we find the same unavailing. The city ordinance being assailed in
these civil cases, as shown by the parties pleadings, is different from those in the earlier
x x x x[5] 2002 case (Civil Case No. CEB-27643) and in the CA decision alleged to have been
interfered with.[10] With regard to the respondent judges failure to rule on complainants
motion for consolidation and summary judgment, the facts and circumstances are inadequate
to conclude that there was irregularity or misconduct in the said act.

The Court upholds the findings and conclusions of the Investigating Justice, but
modifies the recommended penalty. We note at this point that, for liability to attach for ignorance of the law, the assailed
order of the judge must not only be erroneous, but most importantly, its issuance is motivated
by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred or some other similar motives; because mere error of
judgment is not a ground for disciplinary proceedings. [11] To follow a different rule will mean a
On the charge that the respondent judge unduly arrogated unto himself the duty of a deluge of complaints, legitimate or otherwise, and our magistrates will be immersed in
counsel, in Civil Case No. CEB-26607, by calling a witness to the stand and conducting the answering charges against them rather than performing their judicial functions. As we said
latters direct testimony even if the respective counsels were not interested or did not intend earlier, appropriate judicial remedies are available to the complainantan appeal or a petition
to present said person as their witness, the Court finds nothing irregular in the same. for certiorari to assail the allegedly erroneous orders; hence, recourse to an administrative
Revealed in the hearings of the said case is that the respondent judge intended to obtain action against the judge is improper.
enlightenment from the said witness, the project director of one of the signatories to the
As to the other violationsthe purported injunction-for-sale and the writing of
decisions by the parties themselves, we dismiss the accusations for being hearsay. Other
than the bare allegations of the complainant, no evidence has been introduced to support the
charges. The presumption of regularity in the respondents performance of his official duties
remains.

The Court, nonetheless, finds respondent to have transgressed Canon 3 [12] of the Code
of Judicial Conduct when he did not resolve Civil Case No. CEB-29570 within the
constitutionally mandated time frame. His insistence
that his decision was not delayed because a settlement between the parties was imminent,
thus, he need not render a decision, does not persuade the Court. The records show that
on December 12, 2003 the respondent judge declared that he would resolve the case within Were it not for his retirement, we would have been inclined to adopt the heavier
the month as the issue involved was purely legal. He then ordered the parties to observe penalty of suspension in view of our previous warnings to him not to commit further infraction.
[18]
the status quo despite his further declaration that he would not rule on the application for In lieu thereof, the Court imposes a fine of P40,000.00 on the respondent. The fine that we
injunction.[13] By this order, the parties were made to understand that the case was already for impose shall then be deducted from his retirement benefits.
final resolution or decision.

Incidentally, during the pendency of this case, complainant by motion [19] sought an
The records, nevertheless, are devoid of any order from the respondent judge, order from this Court directing respondent judge to inhibit himself from handling all the
from December 12, 2003 to September 26, 2004, that suspended the proceedings on pending cases in his branch in which the complainant is a party-litigant. In view, however, of
account of the possibility of a compromise by the parties. We note that the discussion on a the respondents retirement, this issue has already become moot and academic.
settlement came about only on September 27, 2004 when a party-plaintiff offered P25M to
the defendant to buy peace.[14] Taking into consideration the 90-day period to decide the case,
[15]
we conclude that the respondent judge should have resolved it within December 12,
2003 to March 12, 2004. Respondent, however, rendered his decision only on December 6, As a final note, we reiterate our incessant reminder that all members of the bench
2004, or after a delay of almost 9 months. The Court finds no valid justification for the said should comport themselves blamelessly in order to advance public confidence in the integrity
delay, thus, respondent judge is adjudged guilty of undue delay in rendering a decision in the and impartiality of the judiciary.
said civil case.

WHEREFORE, retired Judge Ireneo Lee Gako of


Section 9(1), Rule 140[16] of the Rules of Court classifies undue delay in rendering a the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 5, is hereby found GUILTY of undue delay in
decision or order, or in transmitting the records of a case as a less serious charge, which rendering a decision in Civil Case No. CEB-29570. Respondent is ORDERED to pay
warrants any of the sanctions in Section 11(B) of the same rule the FINE of Forty Thousand Pesos (P40,000.00) to be deducted from his retirement benefits.

1. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than SO ORDERED.
one (1) nor more than three (3) months; or

2. A fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00.

As aforesaid, the Investigating Justice, in this case, recommended the penalty of


suspension for 2 months without salary and other benefits. The Court cannot, however, adopt
the said recommended penalty considering that the respondent already retired from the
judiciary on September 20, 2006. The Court emphasizes at this point that respondents
retirement from office does not render the present administrative case moot and academic;
neither does it free him from liability. Since complainant filed the case when respondent was
still in the service, the Court retains the authority to investigate and resolve the administrative
complaint against him.[17]
Republic of the Philippines

December 14, 2011


Supreme Court
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
Manila

DECISION

FIRST DIVISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

ESPINA & MADARANG CO. & MAKAR A.M. No. RTJ-07-2069


AGRICULTURAL COMMERCIAL & (Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 05-2257-RTJ) Before the Court is an administrative case against respondents Judge Cader P. Indar Al
DEVELOPMENT CORP. (MAKAR), Haj (Judge Indar) and Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Clerk of Court Abie M. Amilil (Amilil), both of
REPRESENTED BY RODRIGO A. ADTOON, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 14, Cotabato City, filed by complainants Espina &
Present: Madarang Company and Makar Agricultural Commercial & Development Corporation,
Petitioners, represented by Rodrigo A. Adtoon (complainants). In a verified complaint[1] dated April 12,
2005, complainants charged respondents Judge Indar and Amilil with serious misconduct,
grave abuse of discretion, oppression, evident bad faith, manifest partiality and gross
ignorance of the law in connection with the issuance of an Order [2] dated February 14, 2005 in
CORONA, C.J., Special Proceeding No. 2004-074, entitled In the Matter of Insolvencia Voluntaria de Olarte
Hermanos y Cia, Heirs of the Late Alberto P. Olarte, etc., Petitioners.
- versus - Chairperson,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
As gathered from the complaint and the subsequent documents filed, the antecedent
BERSAMIN, facts of the case, originally docketed as OCA-I.P.I. No. 05-2257-RTJ, are as follows:
HON. CADER P. INDAR Al Haj, Judge, DEL CASTILLO, and
Regional Trial Court, Branch 14, Region 12,
Cotabato City and its OIC, Branch Clerk of VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. On August 23, 1929, Olarte Hermanos y Cia (Olarte Hermanos) entered into a contract
Court, ABIE M. AMILIL, of loan and mortgage with El Hogar Filipino whereby the former mortgaged to the latter a
parcel of land in Makar, Cotabato City and covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No.
Respondents. 12 to secure a loan of P160,000.00. When Olarte Hermanos defaulted in its payments on the
loan, El Hogar Filipino filed an action for judicial foreclosure of the mortgage. On August 17,
Promulgated: 1932, the mortgage was ordered foreclosed and the decision became final on January 6,
1933.
On August 21, 1933, Olarte Hermanos filed a petition for voluntary insolvency, We are of the opinion that the order of 7 December 1983 was issued
Insolvency Case No. 90, entitled In the Matter of Insolvencia Voluntaria de Olarte Hermanos with grave abuse of discretion as it was issued without affording petitioners
y Cia. On August 28, 1933, Olarte Hermanos was declared insolvent and the sheriff was and other interested parties a chance to be heard thereon despite the fact
ordered to take possession of all properties, books of accounts, and furniture of the insolvent that the circumstances demanded such a hearing. The order in effect
corporation. nullified a mortgage contract entered into more than fifty (50) years ago and
which had not been challenged all that time. The order set aside judicial
foreclosure proceedings terminated more than fifty (50) years ago which has
in its favor at least the presumption of regularity, especially when the
On October 14, 1933, the mortgaged property of Olarte Hermanos was sold at public proceedings were had in the very same court where the insolvency
auction with El Hogar Filipino as the highest bidder. The sale was confirmed by the court on proceeding was pending. The order nullified the mortgage contract entered
December 24, 1933. Thereafter, El Hogar Filipino sold the land to Salud, Soledad, Mercedes into fifty (50) years earlier on the sole representation of private respondent
and Asuncion, all surnamed Espina (the Espina sisters). Sometime in 1958, the Espina Alberto Olarte that his brother, Jose Olarte, was not authorized to enter into
sisters sold the same to Makar Agricultural Corporation, which in turn sold a portion to Espina the mortgage contract, and that his (Alberto Olartes) signature in the Board
and Madarang Company. Resolution authorizing the mortgage was forged, without receiving evidence,
or hearing petitioners, on the truth of such representation considering the
rather belated accusation of Alberto Olarte. The order dispossessed present
owners and possessors of the property in question who have held title
The insolvency case was archived without having been terminated with the onset of
thereto prior to said order and had been in peaceful and unquestioned
World War II.
possession of their respective holdings all that time, some of whom have not
even been made parties to the insolvency case. The order does not only
transfer possession of the property to private respondents, but directs that
On November 18, 1983, Alberto Olarte, Sr. (Olarte) filed a motion for the appointment the proceeds of the sales thereof through the years be turned over to private
as receiver of the insolvent corporation. Judge Eduardo P. Singayao (Judge Singayao), then respondents. By this, private respondents would have their cake and eat it
the Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 14, Cotabato City, granted said appointment of Olarte too. The respondent Court correctly assessed the prejudicial effects of the
and re-docketed the case as Spl. Proceeding No. 2004-074. Subsequently, Rodolfo Pascual questioned order when it set said order aside on 3 January 1984, for the
(Pascual) also petitioned the court to be a co-receiver of Olarte Hermanos. As receivers, reasons that the right(s) of third parties are affected and considering further
Olarte and Pascual took possession of the assets of the corporation, among which was the that the enforcement of the Order of (the) Court dated December 7, 1983
piece of land covered by OCT No. 12. A portion of this land was, however, already registered might cause deprivation of property without due process of law of third
in the name of herein complainants after the sale from the Espina sisters. parties who are not impleaded in this case, and for the court to be given an
opportune time to review the entire records of the case and hear the parties
and their respective counsels.

On December 7, 1983, Judge Singayao issued an order [3] to the Provincial Sheriffs of
Maguindanao and Cotabato City to place the receivers in possession of the property covered
by OCT No. 12, as well as all subdivisions and portions thereof, its fruits and all proceeds of xxxx
the sale of any portion of the property, and to submit to the court an inventory of any assets of
the insolvent corporation.
WHEREFORE, the orders of 7 December 1983 and 12 January 1984
and the first order of 30 January 1984 advising Branch XXII of the RTC of
Herein complainants then filed a petition for certiorari before the Intermediate General Santos City to stay all proceedings in Civil Case No. 2866 are
Appellate Court, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 02613 and entitled Espina & Madarang Co. v. declared null and void and are set aside.
Judge Eduardo Singayao. On November 21, 1985, the Court of Appeals nullified and set
aside the said orders of Judge Singayao and declared as permanent the writ of preliminary
injunction it issued against Judge Singayao from implementing its orders. [4] It held thus:
The portion of the second order of 30 January 1984 denying Makars
motion to transfer the insolvency proceedings to the RTC in General Santos
City is declared as valid, but the portion lifting the order of 3 January 1984 Further, order is hereby issued to the Provincial
and directing the Register of Deeds of General Santos City to comply with Sheriffs of Maguindanao and Cotabato City, to place the
the order of 7 December 1983, is declared null and void and is set aside. receiver appointed by the Court in possession of the
property covered by Certificate of Title No. 12 and/or
covered by titles derived therefrom and all proceeds of the
sale thereof of portions of the same and all its fruits[.]
The writ of preliminary injunction issued by this Court is hereby made
permanent.[5]

Finally, order is issued to the receiver to register this


Order with Register of Deeds of General Santos City, and to
take possession of the property covered by Certificate of
Title No. 12, all subdivisions and portions thereof, its fruits
This decision of the Court of Appeals was appealed to the Supreme Court via a and all proceeds of the sale thereof or any portion of the
petition for review on certiorari, which was docketed as G.R. No. 73457. On August 13, 1986, same to submit to the Court an inventory of any assets of the
said petition was dismissed for lack of merit. Thereafter, the decision of this Court became insolvent that comes to this possession.
final and executory on September 22, 1986.

SO ORDERED.
After almost twenty years, in February 2005, new incidents transpired in connection
with the case.

Given at Cotabato City, Philippines, this 7 th day of


December 1983.
In the Order dated February 14, 2005, respondent Judge Indar, now the Presiding
Judge of RTC, Branch 14 of Cotabato City, granted an ex parte petition for the issuance of a
writ of possession filed by the heirs of Olarte to revive the December 7, 1983 Order of Judge
Singayao. In full, said order reads: SGD. EDUARDO P. SINGAYAO

Regional Trial Court Judge

This is an action for Execution of the Order dated December 7, 1983,


directing the registration thereof with the Registry of Deeds of General
Santos City, the dispositive portion [of] which is hereunder quoted: The issue in the instant case is whether or not the final and
executory order can be implemented after the lapse of the 5-year and/or 10-
year prescriptive period provided for under Rule 39

WHEREFORE, in pursuance of the Civil Code and


the Insolvency Law, order is hereby issued, to the Register
of Deeds of General Santos City, to annotate the deletion on Section 6. Execution by motion or by independent action.
the registry of book and on the face of Certificate of Title No.
12 and all subsequent titles derived therefrom, the
annotation of the cancellation thereof by Transfer Certificate
of Title No. 886 and annotation of the mortgage by virtue of A final and executory judgment or order may be
this order. executed on motion within Five (5) years from the date of its
entry. After the lapse of such time and before it is barred by
the statute of limitations, a judgment may be enforced by
action. The revived judgment may also be enforced by
motion within Five (5) years from the date of its entry and
thereafter by action before it is barred by the statute of On March 4, 2005, respondent Amilil issued a Certificate of Finality [7] of the Order
limitations. dated February 14, 2005, stating therein that neither a motion for reconsideration nor an
appeal had been filed within the fifteen (15)-day reglementary period.

The former Presiding Judge of this Court denied this action and the
petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the order of denial on It appears, however, that on February 28, 2005, complainants as intervenors in the
October 7, 2004, which issue was left unresolved that prompted the case below, filed by registered mail a Motion for Reconsideration and To Set Aside Order of
petitioners to file a Supplemental Motion now submitted for the consideration February 14, 2005.[8] Said pleading was received by the lower court on March 7, 2005.
[9]
by this Court; Complainants stated that [t]he order dated December 7, 1983 issued by Judge Eduardo P.
Singayao in Sp. Case No. 90 was declared NULL AND VOID and set aside by the Court of
Appeals in CA-GR No. 02613 entitled,Espina and Madarang Company v. Judge Eduardo
Singayao in its decision dated November 21, 1985. [10] Complainants explained further that
The petitioner posited that Section 6 of Rule 39 of the Rules on Civil the said decision of the Court of Appeals, when appealed to the Supreme Court in G.R. No.
Procedure is not applicable to Special Proceedings in land registration and 73457, was dismissed for lack of merit on August 13, 1986.
cited are jurisprudence of the Honorable Supreme Court hereunder quoted:

Complainants also filed a Motion to Withdraw or Revoke Certificate of


Neither this section is applicable to Special Proceedings such as Finality[11] dated March 5, 2005, alleging that:
land registration cases, hence, the right to ask for a writ of possession
therein never prescribes (CF Heirs of Marcos vs. De Banwar, L-22110,
September 28, 1968, Sta. Ana vs. Menia, L-15564, April 23, 1961).
The intervenors, Makar Agricultural Corporation and Espina and
Madarang Company by counsel respectfully move the Honorable Court to
order the Withdrawal or Revocation of the Certificate of Finality of the Order
The Five-year limitation rule for the execution on motion of judgment of this Honorable Court dated February 14, 2005 and in support of this
does not apply to special proceedings, like Cadastral proceedings (Rodil vs. motion respectfully allege: THAT
Benedicto 95 SCRA, January 22, 1980);

1. The Intervenors were not served a copy of the order of


Further the petitioners in the Supplemental Motion for Execution this Honorable Court dated February 14, 2005 granting
argued that while the statute of limitations may constitute a bar to its petitioners [the Olarte heirs] motion for enforcement of
execution, however, this is thoroughly explained and amplified by petitioners the VOID order of Judge Eduardo Singayao dated
in their petition and in the motion for execution. December 7, 1983 declared NULL and VOID by the
Court of Appeals in CA-GR No. 02613.

Consequently, this Court resolves to GRANT the petition. The Order


sought to be implemented has become final and executory, and therefore, a 2. The Intervenors whose appearance in the case was
ministerial duty of this Court to order its execution directing the Provincial approved by the Honorable Court filed a motion for
Sheriff to execute the Order dated December 7, 1983. [6] reconsideration on February 28, 2005 by Registered
Mail per Registry Receipt No. 3180 of the Gen. Santos
City Post Office. Hence, said order has not become final
and executory and the Sheriff should not yet comply with
the said order which was declared by the Court of decisions. Respondent Judge Indar intimated that he even had to go through six volumes
Appeals and affirmed by the Supreme Court NULL and of rollo in the bodega and verify with the Court of Appeals the authenticity of its decision
VOID and permanently enjoined from execution. dated November 21, 1986 since what he found attached to the records was an unreadable
and uncertified copy of the said decision.

3. The Clerk of Court, Abie M. Amilil, should be advised to


immediately withdraw his certification. Respondents Judge Indar and Amilil contend that the administrative case filed
against them is designed to harass and malign them. They allege that two other complaints
have been filed against them by the complainants for indirect contempt before the Court of
Appeals, and for graft and corruption before the Ombudsman for Mindanao. Thus,
4. Further, the insolvency case was ordered terminated respondents Judge Indar and Amilil also seek the disbarment of complainants counsels for
and closed by Judge Japal Guiani on March 4, 1987 and allegedly being dishonest and in bad faith when they filed the instant administrative case.
affirmed by the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 80784
promulgated on August 2, 1984, copy of which is hereto
attached as Annex A.
In the Resolution[15] dated July 25, 2007, this Court resolved, among others, to re-
docket the administrative complaint as a regular administrative matter and to refer the case to
the Executive Justice of the Court of Appeals, Cagayan de Oro Station, for raffle among the
Justices for investigation, report and recommendation within sixty (60) days from receipt of
records thereof.
Thus, in an Order[12] dated April 12, 2005, respondent Judge Indar reconsidered and
set aside his Order dated February 14, 2005 for the execution of the Order dated December
7, 1983 by Judge Singayao. Respondent Judge Indar also ordered the recall of the
Certificate of Finality issued by respondent Amilil. Immediately thereafter, Associate Justice Elihu A. Ybaez of the Court of Appeals, to
whom the instant case was raffled, sent notices to the parties for the setting of the hearings
on October 17, 18 and 19, 2007.[16]
Not satisfied with the recall of the said orders, complainants filed the instant
administrative case charging respondents Judge Indar and Amilil with serious misconduct,
grave abuse of discretion, oppression, evident bad faith, manifest partiality and gross Respondents Judge Indar and Amilil filed a Manifestation for the Dismissal of
ignorance of the law. Complainants allege that respondents Judge Indar and Amilil are guilty Complaint for Being Moot and Academic and Charging complainants Counsel for Forum
of violating the permanent writ of injunction which the Intermediate Appellate Court issued in Shopping,[17] stating that respondent Judge Indar would be attending the Philippine Judges
CA-G.R. SP No. 02613 and affirmed by the Honorable Supreme Court in G.R. No. 73457, Association 2007 Convention in Manila and would then be unavailable for hearing on the said
(which voided the December 7, 1983 order of Judge Singayao), by resurrecting the same in dates.
an order issued ex parte on February 14, 2005, and directed the implementation thereof,
despite knowledge of its nullity.[13]

Thus, on October 17, 2007, only counsel for complainants appeared and submitted a
Motion to Withdraw Complaint[18] dated October 9, 2007. In the meantime, the scheduled
In their undated Comment,[14] respondents Judge Indar and Amilil deny the settings on October 18 and 19, 2007 were also cancelled.
allegations in the complaint. Respondent Judge Indar claims that since the filing of the
petition to revive the case was made on May 3, 2004, neither party made any reference to the
fact that the Order dated December 7, 1983 of Judge Singayao had been nullified and set
aside by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. He also asserts that he issued the Respondents Judge Indar and Amilil also filed a Manifestation for Withdrawal of
Order dated February 14, 2005 on the ground that he found the partys motion for execution Counter-Complaint Against Atty. Nilo J. Flaviano [19] dated October 16, 2007, seeking the
meritorious. It was only when complainants filed a motion for reconsideration to set aside the withdrawal of their counter-complaint against the complainants counsel [a]s a matter of
said order did he come to know of the said Court of Appeals and Supreme Court goodwill reciprocity to complainants (sic) counsels good faith.[20]
The respondent Judge displayed conduct that fell short of the
standards expected of a magistrate of the law. A judge should be
In the Resolution[21] dated November 7, 2007, Investigating Justice Ybaez denied industriously devoted to the study of the law, for having accepted his position,
complainants motion to withdraw complaint, arguing that the courts disciplinary authority he owes it to the dignity of the court he sits in. It is indeed demanded that a
over its officials and employees cannot be dependent on or frustrated by private judge should strive for excellence. To keep the idealism alive and the
arrangements between the parties, and that an administrative complaint cannot be simply passion burning, a judge need not only remind himself of this stirring
withdrawn at any time by the complainants because there is a need to maintain the faith and message on who is fit to be a judge: A man of learning who spends
confidence of the people in the government and its agencies and instrumentalities. tirelessly the weary hours after midnight acquainting himself with the great
body of traditions and the learning of the law.

Consequently, schedule for the hearings was again set for November 14 and 15,
2007. Parties were also warned that failure to appear at the hearings and to present their In the present case, respondent Judge was remiss in his duty to be
evidence on the said dates shall be construed as a waiver of their right to present evidence, attentive, patient, studious and careful to diligently ascertain the facts. He
in which event the case will be determined on the basis of available records. should thus be CENSURED because the Code of Judicial Ethics requires
him to observe due care in the performance of his official functions and to be
the embodiment of, among other desirable characteristics, judicial
competence. His Order dated April 12, 2005 setting aside the Order dated
On November 14, 2007, only Rodrigo A. Adtoon, complainants representative, February 14, 2005 and recalling the Certificate of Finality dated March 4,
appeared. He informed the Investigating Justice that their counsel was indisposed and 2005 notwithstanding.
reiterated the withdrawal of the complaint but presented no authority to the effect that
complainants were no longer interested in pursuing their complaint. Thus, the Investigating
Justice considered the case submitted for resolution. [22]
As regards the respondent OIC Branch Clerk of Court, the records
and the pleadings filed before the Investigating Judge have established his
administrative liability. From his failure to inform the Judge of the existence
Thereafter, in a Report[23] dated December 10, 2007, Investigating Justice Ybaez of the IAC and SC Decisions nullifying the December 7, 1983 Order of the
made the following recommendation: Court despite knowledge thereof, failure to make sure that parties were
furnished a copy of the court orders as OIC Branch Clerk of Court,
particularly the February 14, 2005 Order which complainants were not
Recommendation furnished a copy thereof, and questionable haste in the issuance of
Certificate of Finality, respondent OIC Branch Clerk of Court should thus be
SUSPENDED FOR TWO (2) MONTHS WITHOUT PAY with a stern warning
that repetition of the same shall be dealt with more severely.[24]
The facts established from the records of the case and the pleadings
filed before the Investigating Justice are insufficient to support a finding of
gross ignorance of the law on the part of the respondent Judge. To be held
liable therefore, the judge must be shown to have committed an error that
was gross or patent, deliberate and malicious. Respondent Judge may
The findings of Investigating Justice Ybanez are well taken. We, however, modify the
have erred in the issuance of the February 14, 2005 Order, but such error
penalties imposed upon respondents Judge Indar and Amilil, consistent with Rule 140 of the
has not been shown to be gross or patent. Neither is there any clear and
Rules of Court.
sufficient basis for finding respondent Judge liable for gross negligence and
issuance of an unjust interlocutory order. He cannot, however, be completely
absolved of administrative liability.
In Judge Salvador v. Serrano,[25] we ruled, thus:
This Court stresses once more that the administration of justice is a
sacred task; by the very nature of their duties and responsibilities, all those
involved in it must faithfully adhere to, hold inviolate, and invigorate the In the instant case, respondent Judge Indar failed to exert due diligence required of
principle solemnly enshrined in the 1987 Constitution that a public office is a him to ascertain the facts of the case before he came out with the Order dated February 14,
public trust and all public officers must at all times be accountable to the 2005. Had he taken time and effort to read and examine the pleadings and the records of the
people and serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and case, he could have known that the Order dated December 7, 1983 was already nullified and
efficiency. It condemns and would never countenance any conduct, act or set aside by the Court of Appeals.
omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice
which would violate the norm of public accountability and would diminish or
even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the Judiciary. Thus, every
employee or officer involved in this task should be circumscribed with the We likewise find unsatisfactory the excuses given by respondent Judge Indar that
heavy burden of responsibility and their conduct must, at all times, be above neither the previous judges handling the case nor the parties themselves made any reference
suspicion.[26] to the fact that the Order of December 7, 1983 had already been nullified and set aside, and
that there were voluminous records to read and study. Respondent Judge Indar should be
reminded of his personal responsibility in the making of his decisions and orders. He should
not rely on anybody else for the examination and study of the records to properly ascertain
the facts of each case that he handles. He cannot simply pass the blame on his staff and
hide behind the incompetence of his subordinates. Moreover, respondent Judge Indar should
Here, respondent Judge Indar failed to conform with the high standards of competence have been more cautious since the case involved was an old inherited case with voluminous
and diligence required of judges under Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, particularly records and what was sought to be executed was an order issued almost twenty (20) years
the following Rules: ago. It is incumbent upon him to devise an efficient court management system since he is
the one directly responsible for the proper discharge of his functions.

Rule 3.01. A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain


professional competence. While respondent Judge Indar had already issued an Order dated April 12, 2005 which
set aside and recalled the Order dated February 14, 2005 and the Certificate of Finality dated
March 4, 2005, he was still remiss of his duties to be circumspect, diligent and careful in the
performance of his official functions and be the embodiment of judicial competence.
Rule 3.02. In every case, a judge shall endeavor diligently to
ascertain the facts and the applicable law unswayed by partisan interest,
public opinion or fear or criticism.
We emphasized in Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority v. Judge Hontanosas,
Jr.[27] that:

Rule 3.08. A judge should diligently discharge administrative


responsibilities, maintain professional competence in court management, and
facilitate the performance of the administrative functions of other judges and Admittedly, judges cannot be held to account for erroneous
court personnel. judgments rendered in good faith. However, this defense has been all too
frequently cited to the point of staleness. In truth, good faith in situations of
infallible discretion inheres only within the parameters of tolerable judgment
and does not apply where the issues are so simple and the applicable legal
Rule 3.09. A judge should organize and supervise the court principle evident and basic as to be beyond permissible margins of
personnel to ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business, and error. Indeed, while a judge may not always be subjected to disciplinary
require at all times the observance of high standards of public service and action for every erroneous order or decision he renders, that relative
fidelity.
immunity is not a license to be negligent or abusive and arbitrary in
performing his adjudicatory prerogatives.[28]
Indeed, the clerk of court is an essential officer of our judicial
system. As a ranking officer of the court, he performs delicate administrative
functions vital to the prompt and proper administration of justice. As
custodian of judicial records, it is incumbent upon the clerk of court to ensure
an orderly and efficient court management system in the court, and to
Thus, this Court is in agreement with the findings of Investigating Justice Ybanez that supervise the personnel under his office to function effectively. A clerk of
respondent Judge Indar displayed conduct that fell short of the standards of competence, court plays a key role in the complement of the court and cannot be
integrity and diligence expected of a magistrate of law. permitted to slacken his job under one pretext or another. In fact, it has been
held that branch clerks of court are chiefly responsible for the shortcomings
of subordinates to whom administrative functions normally pertaining to the
branch clerk of court were delegated. Hence, clerks of court must be
With regard to respondent Amilil, this Court agrees with the Investigating Justice that
assiduous in performing official duty and in supervising and managing court
the records and pleadings filed have established his administrative liability. First, respondent
dockets and records.[30]
Amilil failed to inform respondent Judge Indar of the existence of the Court of Appeals and
Supreme Court decisions which have nullified and set aside the Order dated December 7,
1983 which was sought to be enforced. Second, he failed to inform and send the parties their
respective notices and court orders particularly the Order dated February 14, 2005. Third,
respondent Amilil issued the Certificate of Finality dated March 4, 2005 without verifying if
indeed a motion for reconsideration was filed in connection with the case. Clearly, it is respondent Amilils duty as OIC Clerk of Court to safely keep all files,
pleadings and files committed to his charge. As custodian of these records, it is incumbent
upon him to see to it that court orders were sent with dispatch to the parties
concerned. Respondent Amilil should ensure an orderly and efficient record management
To reiterate, complainants filed by registered mail a Motion for Reconsideration and To system to assist all personnel, including respondent Judge Indar, in the performance of their
Set Aside Order of February 14, 2005. It was therefore incorrect for respondent Amilil to respective duties. Unfortunately, respondent Amilil failed to live up to these standards.
certify that the Order dated February 14, 2005 had become final and executory because no
appeal had been taken from it nor a motion for its reconsideration filed. The issuance by
respondent Amilil of a false certification creates confusion since the facts were neither verified
nor confirmed. As to the penalties to be imposed upon respondent Judge Indar, this Court finds the
same too light for the infractions he committed. Rule 140 of the Rules of Court provides:

In Atty. Legaspi, Jr. v. Atty. Montero III,[29] this Court expounded on the responsibility of
the Clerks of Court, thus: SEC. 8. Serious charges. Serious charges include:

Under the 2002 Revised Manual for Clerks of Court, the branch clerk xxxx
of court as the administrative officer of the court, among others, controls and
supervises the safekeeping of court records. Moreover, Section 7, Rule 136
of the Rules of Court specifically mandates the clerk of court to safely keep
all records, papers, files, exhibits and public property committed to his 3. Gross misconduct constituting violations of the Code of Judicial
charge. As custodian of the records of the court, it is the duty of the clerk of Conduct.
court to ensure not only that the same are safely kept in his or her
possession, but also those [that] will be readily available upon the request of
the parties or order of the court.
SEC. 11. Sanctions. A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious xxxx
charge, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:

The following are less grave offenses with their corresponding


1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits penalties:
as the Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or
appointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled
corporations. Provided, however, That the forfeiture of benefits shall in no
case include accrued leave credits; (a) Simple Neglect of Duty

1st Offense Suspension for one (1) month and (1) day to six
(6) months
2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more
than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or
2nd Offense Dismissal

3. A fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.

Clearly, the acts of respondent Amilil constitute simple neglect of duty for which he
must be made administratively liable. Under the Civil Service Rules and the Omnibus Rules
To our mind, the gravity of the infractions committed by respondent Judge Indar merits implementing it, simple neglect of duty is a less grave offense penalized with suspension of
a higher penalty than the censure recommended by the Investigating Justice. We likewise one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months for the first offense; and dismissal for the
note that this is not respondent Judge Indars first offense. In A.M. No. RTJ-05-1953, we second offense.
imposed upon him a fine of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos for violating Section 5, Rule
58 of the Rules of Court, when he issued a preliminary injunction without any hearing and
prior notice to the parties. Thus, this Court finds respondent Judge Indar guilty of gross
misconduct for committing violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, for which we shall Respondents Judge Indar and Amilil are reminded that as public officers, they are
impose a fine of Twenty-Five Thousand (P25,000.00) Pesos. recipients of public trust, and are thus under obligation to perform the duties of their offices
honestly, faithfully, and to the best of their ability. As held in Office of the Court Administrator
v. Judge Liwanag[31]:

However, with regard to the penalty imposed on respondent Amilil, we find the same
commensurate with his infractions. Section 22, Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules Implementing
Book V of Executive Order 292, as amended by CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19, provides Time and again, the Court has emphasized the heavy burden and
that: responsibility which court officials and employees are mandated to observe,
in view of their exalted position as keepers of the public faith. They are
constantly reminded that any impression of impropriety, misdeed or
negligence in the performance of official functions must be avoided. The
SEC. 22. Administrative Offenses with its corresponding penalties Court will never countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all
are classified into grave, less grave, and light, depending on the gravity of its those involved in the administration of justice which would violate the norm of
nature and effect on said acts on the government service. public accountability and diminish the peoples faith in the judiciary.[32]
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Judge Cader P. Indar Al Haj GUILTY of
gross misconduct for committing violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and is FINED the
amount of Twenty-Five Thousand (P25,000.00) Pesos. He is likewise WARNED that a
repetition of the foregoing or similar transgressions shall be dealt with more severely.

Respondent OIC Branch Clerk of Court Abie M. Amilil is also found GUILTY of
neglect of duty and is SUSPENDED for two (2) months without pay with a stern warning that
repetition of the same shall be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.
DEL CASTILLO,

ABAD,

VILLARAMA, JR.,

EN BANC PEREZ,

MENDOZA, and

SERENO, JJ.

JUDGE FERNANDO VIL PAMINTUAN,

A.M. No. RTJ-07-2062* Respondent. Promulgated:


IMELDA R. MARCOS,
January 18, 2011
Complainant,
Present:
x --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

CORONA, C.J.,
DECISION
CARPIO,

CARPIO MORALES,
Per Curiam:
VELASCO, JR.,

NACHURA,
The judiciary cannot keep those who cannot meet the exacting
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, standards of judicial conduct and integrity. This being so, in the performance
of the functions of their office, judges must endeavor to act in a manner that
puts them and their conduct above reproach and beyond suspicion. They
BRION,
must act with extreme care for their office indeed is burdened with a heavy
- versus - load of responsibility.[1]
PERALTA,

BERSAMIN,
At bench is an administrative case filed by Imelda R. Marcos (Marcos) against Judge
Fernando Vil Pamintuan (Judge Pamintuan), Presiding Judge, Branch 3, Regional Trial
Court, Baguio City (RTC), for Gross Ignorance of the Law. On June 25, 1996, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed its own motion for
reconsideration which was also denied in a court order dated September 2, 1996.

Ten (10) years later, in an order dated May 9, 2006, Judge Pamintuan set the case
THE FACTS: for hearing on June 29, 2006 purportedly to formally and finally release the Golden Buddha to
its rightful owner. Marcos was one of the subpoenaed parties, being a person with interest in
the case.

From the records, it appears that on November 15, 2006, Marcos filed a complaint- On August 15, 2006, Judge Pamintuan issued an order, the dispositive portion of
affidavit charging Judge Pamintuan with Gross Ignorance of the Law for reversing motu which reads:
proprio the final and executory order of then Acting Presiding Judge Antonio Reyes (Judge
Reyes) dated May 30, 1996 (and modified in the September 2, 1996 order), in Civil Case No.
3383-R, entitled Albert D. Umali, in his capacity as the exclusive administrator and as
President of the Treasure Hunters Association of the Philippines v. Jose D. Roxas, et al. WHEREFORE, in accordance with the final and executory Order of
this Court dated September 2, 1996, the Buddha Statuette or Buddha
replica is awarded to the estate of Rogelio Roxas. However, the Buddha
Statuette or Buddha replica shall be under custodia legis until the final
Judge Reyes dismissed Civil Case No. 3383-R in an order, dated May 30, 1996, the settlement of the estate of the late Rogelio Roxas, or upon the appointment
dispositive portion of which reads: of his estates administrator.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises and further, for This Court further rules that the Golden Buddha in its custody is a
failure to comply with Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 04-94 dated fake one, or a mere replica of the original Golden Buddha which has a
April 1, 1994 on forum shopping, the petition is DISMISSED. detachable head, which has been missing since 1971 up to the present, or
for a period of thirty five (35) years by now, and has been in unlawful
possession of persons who do not have title over it, nor any right at all to
possess this original Golden Buddha.
It is further ORDERED that the Buddha statuette in the custody of this
Court be immediately RELEASED to the children of the late Rogelio Roxas,
namely, Henry Roxas and Gervic Roxas and to decedents brother, Jose
Roxas, IN TRUST FOR the estate of the late Rogelio Roxas.

Marcos averred that the act of Judge Pamintuan in reversing a final and executory
order constituted gross ignorance of the law. In her complaint, citing A.M. No. 93-7-696-0,
SO ORDERED. she argued that final and executory judgments of lower courts were not reviewable even by
the Supreme Court. Judge Pamintuan reversed a final and executory order not upon the
instance of any of the parties in Civil Case No. 3383-R but motu proprio. He even failed to
indicate where he obtained the information that the Golden Buddha sitting in his sala was a
mere replica. Marcos claimed that his order was in conflict with Rule 36 of the Revised
The parties filed their separate motions for reconsideration of the said order but both Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that a judgment or final order shall state clearly and
motions were denied by the RTC for lack of merit in its June 24, 1996 Order. distinctly the facts and the law on which it (his order) is based xxx.
xxx xxx xxx

In his Comment, Judge Pamintuan argued that Marcos could have just filed a pleading
manifesting lack of interest or moving for the recall of the subpoena, but she did not. In fact,
her counsel, Atty. Robert Sison, entered his appearance and actually appeared in court. With WHEREFORE, in accordance with the final and
her appearance through counsel, she subjected herself to the jurisdiction of the court. She executory Order of this Court dated September 2, 1996, the
should have filed a motion for reconsideration of the August 15, 2006 Order instead of filing Buddha Statuette or Buddha replica is awarded to the estate
an administrative complaint. As she did not, Judge Pamintuan opined that her lost judicial of Rogelio Roxas. However, the Buddha Statuette or
remedies could not be substituted with the filing of this case. Buddha replica shall be under custodia legis until the final
settlement of the estate of the late Rogelio Roxas, or upon
the appointment of his estates administrator.

Marcos, in her Reply-Affidavit, stated that she was not a party in Civil Case No. 3383-
R, hence, she could not file a motion for reconsideration. She cited Section 1 of Rule 37
which provides that only the aggrieved party may file a motion for reconsideration within the Clearly, the questioned Order conforms to the directive of the Court
period for taking an appeal. in its previous Order dated May 30, 1996, which provides:

In its Report, dated June 29, 2007, the Office of the Court It is further ORDERED that the Buddha Statuette in
Administrator (OCA) recommended that Judge Pamintuan be dismissed from the service with custody of this Court be immediately RELEASED to the
the additional penalty of forfeiture of all his retirement benefits and disqualification from re- children of the late Rogelio Roxas, namely, Henry Roxas and
employment in the government service, including government owned or controlled Gervic Roxas and to the decedents brother, Jose Roxas, IN
corporations, for Gross Ignorance of the Law and for violation of Canon 4 of the Code of TRUST FOR the estate of the late Rogelio Roxas.
Judicial Conduct. The OCA pointed out that:

And modified in an Order dated September 2, 1996, which reads:


As held, execution is the fruit and end of the suit and is the life of the
law. A judgment, if left unexecuted, would be nothing but an empty victory for
the prevailing party. Bearing this in mind, respondent issued the questioned
Order dated August 15, 2006, the pertinent text of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration filed
by the Solicitor General is DENIED. The Order of this Court
Despite said Order which was issued almost ten (10) on May 30, 1996 remains insofar as the Buddha statuette is
years ago, the estate of the late Rogelio Roxas has not awarded to the state of the late Rogelio Roxas and is at the
taken possession of the Buddha Statuette or the Buddha same time MODIFIED in the sense that the Buddha statuette
replica from the Court, thus, this incumbent Presiding shall be under the custodia legis until the final settlement of
Judge, seeing the necessity of finally disposing of the the estate of the late Rogelio Roxas or upon the appointment
Buddha Statuette physically, and finding out the present of his estates administrator.
statue of the late Rogelio Roxas, ordered the hearing on
June 29, 2006. (Italics supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
Preventive Suspension dated July 31, 2007, be LIFTED. Thus, in itsDecember 11,
2007 Resolution, the Court granted the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Judge Pamintuan
and lifted the Order of Preventive Suspension effective immediately.

A normal course of proceedings would have been that respondent


Judge waits for the proper party to go to court to ask for the release of the
Buddha statuette. x x x. Judge Pamintuan then sent a letter requesting for his backpay and benefits covering
the period of his preventive suspension from August to December 13, 2007. In its June 3,
2008 Resolution, following the recommendation of the OCA, the Court denied said request
for being premature and for lack of merit.
However, respondent was being overzealous when he ruled that the
Golden Buddha in its custody is a fake one, or a mere
replica. Notwithstanding that the same may be his and the litigants opinion Now, the Court resolves the complaint against Judge Pamintuan.
during the hearing of June 29, 2006. (sic) He should have borne in mind that
there were no issues nor controversies left for consideration in Civil Case No.
3383-R. It must be noted that the Order dated May 30, 1996 (and modified After a thorough study of the case, the Court agrees with the evaluation and
on September 2, 1996) has become final and executory. Hence, issues have recommendation of the OCA.
been settled and the matter laid to rest. As repeatedly ruled by this Court, a
decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable. A
final judgment may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the
modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law. Should Doubtless, the May 30, 1996 Order, which was modified on September 2, 1996, in
judgment of lower courts which may normally be subject to review by Civil Case No. 3383-R, has long become final and executory. In his assailedAugust 15,
higher tribunals become final and executory before, or without exhaustion 2006 Order, Judge Pamintuan made express declarations that were not embodied either in
of all recourse of appeal, they too become inviolable, impervious to the May 30, 1996 Order or in the September 2, 1996 Order. He ruled that the Golden Buddha
modification. They may, then, no longer be reviewed, or in any way modified in the custody of the court was a fake one, or a mere replica of the original. This may be his
directly or indirectly, by a higher court, not even by Supreme Court, much opinion or the litigants during the hearing of June 29, 2006 but Judge Pamintuan should have
less by any other official, branch or department of government. realized that the trial court did not rule on that point in its May 30, 1996 Order (even in its
September 2, 1996 Order). Insofar as this issue is concerned, the May 30, 1996 Order
pertinently reads:

It is inexcusable for respondent Judge to have overlooked such an


elementary legal principle.
Albert Umali anchors his claim on the supposed Memorandum of
Agreement between him and the late Rogelio Roxas executed on November
25, 1988. He claims that under this agreement, he and Rogelio Roxas will
share in the profits of their business venture, that is, treasure hunting and
claim for lost treasure.
Upon recommendation of the OCA, the Court, in its July 31, 2007 Resolution,
preventively suspended Judge Pamintuan pending resolution of this administrative case to
stop him from committing further damage to the judiciary. Judge Pamintuan moved for
reconsideration and eventually filed a Motion for Early Resolution of Motion for He adds, however, that the Buddha with this Court is not the genuine
Reconsideration and to Submit the Case for Decision. Buddha. According to him, he has photographs to prove the existence of the
real and genuine golden Buddha. To be sure, this Court is baffled by the
foregoing submission of Mr. Umali, if the subject Buddha is not the genuine
golden Buddha, and therefore a fake one, it cannot be covered by the
The matter was referred again to the OCA for evaluation, report and memorandum of Agreement.
recommendation. In its Memorandum dated November 22, 2007, the OCA recommended that
the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent be GRANTED and that the Order of
Be it noted that the Memorandum of Agreement speaks of treasure
hunting and lost treasure which could refer to things of great value. Based on
Mr. Umalis own claim the subject Buddha has no appreciable material value. The Court agrees with the view of OCA that Judge Pamintuan manifested gross
It is therefore outside the scope of the Memorandum of Agreement. This ignorance of the law in issuing the questioned August 15, 2006 Order. Verily, he failed to
being the case, what right then does Albert Umali have to demand the return conform to the high standards of competence required of judges under the Code of Judicial
of the subject Buddha to him? On this score alone, this Court should already Conduct, which provides that:
reject the claim of Mr. Umali over the Buddha now in this Courts custody.

Rule 1.01 - A judge should be the embodiment of competence,


xxx xxx xxx integrity, and independence.

Now, as to whether or not there is that controversial golden Buddha Rule 3.01 - A judge shall x x x maintain professional competence.
different from the one now in custody of this Court, there is none. X x x.

Competence is a mark of a good judge. When a judge exhibits an utter lack of know-
Section 6, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct provides: how with the rules or with settled jurisprudence, he erodes the publics confidence in the
competence of our courts. It is highly crucial that judges be acquainted with the law and basic
SECTION 6. Judges, like any other citizen, are entitled to freedom legal principles. Ignorance of the law, which everyone is bound to know, excuses no one - not
of expression, belief, association and assembly, but in exercising such even judges.[4]
rights, they shall always conduct themselves in such manner as to preserve
the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the
judiciary. [Emphases ours]
Notably, this is not Judge Pamintuans first and sole administrative case. In The
Officers and Members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet
Chapter v. Pamintuan,[5] Judge Pamintuan was charged with Gross Ignorance of the Law,
Judge Pamintuan indeed made a serious error in making such a pronouncement in Gross Violation of the Constitutional Rights of the Accused, Arrogance and Violation of the
the challenged order. Canons of Judicial Ethics and was suspended for one (1) year.

It is axiomatic that when a judgment is final and executory, it becomes immutable and
unalterable. It may no longer be modified in any respect either by the court which rendered it
or even by this Court. The doctrine of immutability and inalterability of a final judgment has a In the case of Atty. Gacayan v. Hon. Pamintuan,[6] he was found guilty of violating
two-fold purpose, to wit: (1) to avoid delay in the administration of justice and thus, Canons 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Ethics which
procedurally, to make orderly the discharge of judicial business; and (2) to put an end to amounted to grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming of an officer of the judiciary and conduct
judicial controversies, at the risk of occasional errors, which is precisely why courts exist. prejudicial to the best interest of the service. He was reprimanded and was sternly warned
Controversies cannot drag on indefinitely.[2] that a repetition of the foregoing or similar transgressions would be dealt with more severely.
He was also meted a fine ofP10,000.00.

It is inexcusable for Judge Pamintuan to have overlooked such basic legal principle no
matter how noble his objectives were at that time. Judges owe it to the public to be well- In a much recent case, Biggel v. Pamintuan,[7] he was charged with manifest partiality,
informed, thus, they are expected to be familiar with the statutes and procedural rules at all gross misconduct, ignorance of the law, and unjust and malicious delay in the resolution of the
times. When the law is so elementary, not to know it or to act as if one does not know it, incidents in Criminal Case No. 25383-R entitled People of the Philippines v. Emil Biggel, a
constitutes gross ignorance of the law.[3] case for estafa. He was found guilty of violating Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct,
which requires judges to dispose of court business promptly. The Court imposed upon him a
fine in the amount ofP20,000.00, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar In this case, the Court finds Judge Pamintuan accountable for gross ignorance of the
acts would be dealt with more severely. law. He could have simply been suspended and fined, but the Court cannot take his previous
infractions lightly. His violations are serious in character. Having been previously warned and
punished for various infractions, Judge Pamintuan now deserves the ultimate administrative
penalty dismissal from service.
As of this time, there is another administrative case yet to be resolved against Judge
Pamintuan filed by one Peter Cosalan for gross ignorance of the law. [8] Although, this is not
pertinent in the resolution of this case, it is clear from the other undisputed records that Judge
Pamintuan has failed to meet the exacting standards of judicial conduct and integrity. He has The Court doubts if he ever took seriously its previous warnings that a repetition of his
shown himself unworthy of the judicial robe and place of honor reserved for guardians of offenses would merit a more severe sanction from this Court. His conduct in this case and his
justice. As held in the case ofMalabed v. Asis:[9] prior infractions are grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service. As shown from the
cited administrative cases filed against Judge Pamintuan, he was liable not only for gross
Respondent Judge must bear in mind that membership in the ignorance of the law but for other equally serious transgressions. This Court should, therefore,
judiciary circumscribes ones personal conduct and imposes upon him refrain from being lenient, when doing so would give the public the impression that
certain restrictions, the faithful observance of which is the price one has to incompetence and repeated offenders are tolerated in the judiciary.
pay for holding such a distinguished position. x x x His conduct must be able
to withstand the most searching public scrutiny, for the ethical principles and
sense of propriety of a judge are essential to the preservation of the peoples
faith in the judicial system lest public confidence in the judiciary would be WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan of
eroded by the incompetent, irresponsible and negligent conduct of judges. the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 3, is DISMISSED from the service. He shall
forthwith CEASE and DESIST from performing any official act or function appurtenant to his
office upon service on him of this decision.
The Court has held time and again that a judge is expected to demonstrate more than
just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules. It is essential that he be
familiar with basic legal principles and be aware of well-settled doctrines. [10]
SO ORDERED.

As fittingly stated in the case of Borromeo v. Mariano,[11] Our conception of good


judges has been, and is, of men who has a mastery of the principles of law, who discharge
their duties in accordance with law. Thus, this Court has had the occasion to hold that:

When the inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and


elemental a rule, a law or a principle in the discharge of his duties, a judge is
either too incompetent and undeserving of the position and title he holds or
he is too vicious that the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad
faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority. In both instances, the judges
dismissal is in order. After all, faith in the administration of justice exists only
if every party-litigant is assured that occupants of the bench cannot justly be
accused of deficiency in their grasp of legal principles.[12]
however, eight from the Balisado group, including Justice Inting, won the majority of the 14
positions of trustees. The Pagbabago group won the remaining six positions. [3]

Complainants further alleged that, soon after the winners took their oath of office, Justice
Inting committed the following wrongful acts:

a) During the July 9, 2011 monthly regular meeting of the Association's board of trustees and
officers, someone introduced a resolution that authorized its President, Fiscal Leoncio D.
Suarez, Jr. and Treasurer, Jose A. Abundo, to transact business with its banks. Justice Inting
opposed the passage of the resolution, however, claiming that the newly elected officers and
trustees had not as yet properly assumed their offices in view of the required 60-day turn-over
transition from the outgoing officers provided in Section 6, Rule 11 of the Implementing Rules
and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 9904 (R.A. 9904)[4] although these rules did not
EN BANC suppose to take effect yet.[5]
[A.M. No. 11-190-CA-J : April 24, 2012]
b) Justice Inting joined some members of the association in filing complaints of grave abuse
of authority, among others, against its newly elected officers before, the Housing and Land
COMPLAINT OF EMIL MEDENILLA, PEDRO ANONUEVO, JERICHO INOCENTES,
Use Regulatory Board (HLURB)[6] where her impartiality might reasonably be questioned
CARLITO SALOMON AND ATTY. JESUS F. ACPAL AGAINST JUSTICE SOCORRO B.
should the case reach the CA where she worked.[7]
INTING OF THE COURT OF APPEALS.

Sirs/Mesdames: c) Justice Inting and other trustees of the Association prodded Evangeline Bersabe, its
accountant, to disobey the President's order for her to surrender the association documents
Please take notice that the Court en banc issued a Resolution dated APRIL 24, 2012, which and keys in her possession.[8]
reads as follows: cralaw
d) Justice Inting and others in the Board of Trustees supposedly passed Resolution 2011-21,
"A.M. No. 11-190-CA-J (Complaint of Emil Medenilla,[*] Pedro Anonuevo, Jericho Inocentes, entitledStrengthening the Internal Control and Disbursement Policies of the Association,
[9]
Carlito Salomon and Atty. Jesus F. Acpal against Justice Socorro B. Inting of the Court of when such matter did not appear in the August 27, 20 U special meeting agenda or in its
Appeals). minutes. Nobody proposed such a resolution and the board did not deliberate or vote on it.
Since only Justice Inting was the only lawyer in the group, complainants conclude that she
prepared that resolution and manipulated her supporters in the board.
RESOLUTION

e) Justice Inting used her title as justice of the CA to justify the supposed board action. [10]
Complainant officers and trustees of Katarungan Village Homeowners Association, Inc., (the
When her group displayed tarpaulins announcing the implementation of the challenged board
Association) of Barangay Poblacion, Muntinlupa City, namely, Emil Medenilla (PRO), Pedro
resolution, the Association's security personnel removed and seized the tarpaulins. Reacting
Anonuevo (trustee), Jericho Inocentes (trustee), Carlito Salomon (trustee), and Atty. Jesus F.
to this, Justice Inting went to the Association's office and, standing on the middle of the street,
Acpal (village administrator), filed a complaint-affidavit[1] dated September 30, 2011 against
questioned what the security personnel did. Complainants alleged that she arrogantly said on
Justice Socorro B. Inting of the Court of Appeals (CA) for grave misconduct, grave abuse of
that occasion that she was a CA Justice, conveying the message that her action was proper
authority, and conduct unbecoming of a Court of Appeals Justice in violation of the Code of
and cannot be questioned.[11]
Judicial Conduct and Code of Professional Responsibility.

f) Justice Inting and her cohorts usurped the general and management powers of the
The complaint-affidavit alleges in substance that two sets of candidates, one from the
Association's President to reassign or reshuffle its employees to other positions or to perform
Pagbabago Party and the other from the Balisado Performance Team, competed in the June
other duties and responsibilities.[12]
19, 2011 elections of their Association's officers and trustees. The Pagbabago group won the
positions of President, Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor, and PRO while the Balisado group won
only the seats of the Vice-President and Business Manager.[2] For the Board of Trustees, g) She violated Rule 5.01 (d)[13] and Rule 5.10[14] of Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct
when she joined the political party of her group and contributed to its party funds.
Complainants point out that the elections for the board of trustees and officers of the organizations or actively engaging in the operation of business organizations while serving as
Association had become so politicized that she, as a CA Justice, ought not to have taken part judge that he is enjoined to avoid.[24]
in them since they detracted from the dignity of that court. [15]
As a trustee of her village's homeowners association, Justice Inting has the right to stand her
In her December 2, 2011 comment,[16] Justice Inting assails the complaint as motivated by ill ground on any legitimate issue that might arise in the course of the discharge of her duties.
will, malice, and a desire to prevent her from fulfilling her duties as member of the She could of course be wrong on those issues but it is not for this that she can be subjected
Association's board of trustees.[17] It was unavoidable, she says, that she and the others in the to administrative action. None of those issues are related to her work as Justice of the CA.
board had to institute their action against complainants even if there was a chance that the
matter could go up to the CA where she worked. But, since she was involved in the case in Essentially, complainants want the Court to resolve by their present action some of the very
her personal capacity as a trustee of the Association, she simply would have to inhibit herself issues that they raise against her in the HLURB case. But this is not a function of this
voluntarily if such matter be assigned to her Division.[18] administrative case. Only when she purposely uses her position as Justice of the CA to get
an advantage over or cause prejudice to others can she be administratively sanctioned. As it
Justice Inting claims that the action they filed with the HLURB was not altogether groundless happens, there is no clear allegation in the complaint in this case that establishes this. The
since the HLURB even granted their application for a cease and desist order against allegations about her using her judicial rank to her advantage in the HLURB case are
complainants' group.[19] She rejects as baseless the charge that the Association's elections admittedly speculative.
partake of political activities. And, although she was active in the affairs of the Association,
she excelled in her work as Justice of the CA as borne by its records. [20] The closest to her invoking her judicial rank was when she stood on the middle of the street
to confront the village security personnel who removed and seized the posters that the Board
In their reply of January 10, 2010,[21] complainants contend that Justice Inting appeared of Trustees put up to announce the need for the Association to comply with its resolution
before the HLURB in her personal capacity since she had not been personally aggrieved by enjoining compliance with the internal controls and disbursement policies that it had enacted.
complainants' action nor had they violated her rights. [22] They claim that the HLURB cease It is plain that those security personnel used raw force to silence the voice of the Board of
and desist order appeared questionable, given a report that it was issued because Justice Trustees expressed through those posters. And, assuming that Justice Inting mentioned the
Inting used her influence as a Justice of the appellate court and because her schoolmates at fact that she was a Justice of the CA when she confronted the security personnel, she
that agency helped her.[23] appears to have done so spontaneously to show that she knew what she was talking about or
to discourage those security personnel from using physical force against her that they
The issue before the Court is whether or not there is sufficient basis to warrant further seemed quite capable of.
administrative investigation of the complaint against Justice Inting.
While it is the Court's duty to investigate every allegation of wrong-doing against judges and
Here, the main thrust of the complaint against Justice Inting is that, as Justice of the CA, she other court personnel, it is also its duty to protect them from frivolous charges.[25]cralaw
should have desisted from joining the elections for the officers and members of the Board of
Trustees of her homeowners association and gotten embroiled in the issues that animated WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the present administrative complaint against Justice
the two groups which shared the powers of the association, thus getting drawn into a bitter Socorro B. Inting of the Court of Appeals for want of substance.
litigation.
SO ORDERED."
But joining the judiciary does not mean that a judge should live the life of a hermit. The Code
of Judicial Ethics does not bar him from joining associations or institutions that promote the
common good. To be sure, no social or moral considerations prevent him from taking active
part in organizations that aim to promote the welfare of his family or community, like a
homeowners association.

Perchance, serious issues could develop even within socially desirable organizations but it
cannot be on account of such a risk that the judge should stay off from all forms of human
associations. He does not, by becoming a judge, cease to be a human being cast off from the
society of men. Such society is his natural habitat. It is membership in questionable
- versus - NACHURA,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

BRION,

PERALTA,

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO,

ABAD,

VILLARAMA, JR.,

Republic of the Philippines MENDOZA and

Supreme Court PEREZ, JJ.

Baguio City

ATTY. ANORLITO A. ALVERO, Promulgated:

EN BANC Respondent. April 23, 2010

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

REYNARIA A.C. No. 8159 DECISION


BARCENAS, Complainant,
(formerly CBD 05-1452)

PERALTA, J.:
Present:

PUNO, C.J.,
Before us is a Complaint[1] dated May 17, 2005 for disciplinary action against
CARPIO,
respondent Atty. Anorlito A. Alvero filed by Reynaria Barcenas with the Integrated Bar of the
CORONA, Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), docketed as CBD Case No. 05-1452,
now Administrative Case (A.C.) No. 8159.
CARPIO MORALES,

VELASCO JR.,
The facts as culled from the records are as follows: bigyan mo ako ng kaunting panahon upang malikom ko ang pera na
ipinagkatiwala mo sa akin, hanggang ika-25 ng Agosto, 2004. x x x[6]

On May 7, 2004, Barcenas, through her employee Rodolfo San Antonio (San
Antonio), entrusted to Atty. Alvero the amount of P300,000.00, which the latter was supposed Maya-mayang alas nuwebe (9:00) titingnan ang lupang aking
to give to a certain Amanda Gasta to redeem the rights of his deceased father as tenant of a ipinagbibili ng Dalawang Milyon. Gustong-gusto ng bibili gusto lang makita
ricefield located in Barangay San Benito, Victoria, Laguna. The receipt of the money was ang lupa dahil malayo, nasa Cavinti. Kung ok na sa bibili pinakamatagal
evidenced by an acknowledgment receipt[2] dated May 7, 2004. In the said receipt, Atty. na ang Friday ang bayaran.
Alvero said that he would deposit the money in court because Amanda Gasta refused to
accept the same.[3]

Iyong aking sinisingil na isang P344,000.00 at isang P258,000.00 na


utang ng taga-Liliw ay darating sa akin ngayong umaga bago mag alas
Later, Barcenas found out that Atty. Alvero was losing a lot of money in cockfights. To otso. Kung maydala ng pambayad kahit magkano ay ibibigay ko sa iyo
check if the money they gave Atty. Alvero was still intact, Barcenas pretended to borrow ngayong hapon.
P80,000.00 from the P300,000.00 and promised to return the amount when needed or as
soon as the case was set for hearing. However, Atty. Alvero allegedly replied, Akala nyo ba
ay madali kunin ang pera pag nasa korte na? Subsequently, Barcenas discovered that Atty.
Alvero did not deposit the money in court, but instead converted and used the same for his xxxx
personal needs.

Lahat ng pagkakaperahan ko ay aking ginagawa, pati anak ko


In his letters dated August 18, 2004 [4] and August 25, 2004,[5] Atty. Atty. Alvero ay tinawagan ko na. Pakihintay muna lang ng kauting panahon pa,
admitted the receipt of the P300,000.00 and promised to return the money. The pertinent hindi matatapos ang linggong ito, tapos ang problema ko sa iyo.
portions of said letters are quoted as follows: Pasensiya ka na.[7]

Dahil sa kagustuhan ng iyong amo na maibalik ko ang perang


tinanggap ko sa iyo, lumakad ako agad at pilit kong kinukuha kahit iyon
man lang na hiniram sa akin na P80,000.00 pero hindi karakapraka ang However, as of the filing of the instant complaint, despite repeated demands, Atty.
lumikom ng gayong halaga. Pero tiniyak sa akin na sa Martes, ika-24 ng Alvero failed to return the same. Thus, Barcenas prayed that Atty. Alvero be disbarred for
buwan ay ibibigay sa akin. being a disgrace to the legal profession.

Bukas ay tutungo ako sa amin upang lumikom pa ng


karagdagang halaga upang maisauli ko ang buong P300,000.00.
Nakikiusap ako sa iyo dahil sa ikaw ang nagbigay sa akin ng pera na On March 30, 2005, the IBP-CBD ordered Atty. Alvero to submit his Answer to the
complaint.[8]
San Antonio further corroborated Barcenas allegation that they tried to
borrow P80,000.00 from the P300,000.00 they gave to Atty. Alvero after they found out that
In compliance, in his Answer [9] dated April 18, 2005, Atty. Alvero claimed that he did the latter lost a big amount of money in cockfighting. He reiterated that Atty. Alvero declined
not know Barcenas prior to the filing of the instant complaint nor did he know that San and stated, Akala nyo ba ay madali kunin ang pera pag nasa korte na. Later on, they found
Antonio was an employee of Barcenas. He alleged that he came to know Barcenas only out that Atty. Atty. Alvero lied to them since the money was never deposited in court but was
when the latter went to him to borrow P60,000.00 from the amount entrusted to Rodolfo San instead used for his personal needs. For several times, Atty. Alvero promised to return the
Antonio who entrusted to respondent. At that time, Atty. Alvero claimed that San Antonio was money to them, but consistently failed to do so. San Antonio submitted Atty. Atty. Alveros
reluctant to grant the request because it might jeopardize the main and principal cause of letters dated August 18, 2004[14] and August 25, 2004[15] showing the latters promises to
action of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) case. Atty. Alvero, return the amount of P300,000.00.
however, admitted that he received an amount of P300,000.00 from San Antonio, though he
claimed that said money was the principal cause of action in the reconveyance action. [10]

During the mandatory conference, Atty. Alvero failed to attend despite notice. Thus, he
was deemed to have waived his right to participate in the mandatory conference.
Atty. Alvero stressed that there was no lawyer-client relationship between him and
Barcenas. He, however, insisted that the lawyer-client relationship between him and San
Antonio still subsisted as his service was never severed by the latter. He further emphasized
that he had not breached the trust of his client, since he had, in fact, manifested his In its Report and Recommendation dated May 21, 2008, the IBP-CBD recommended
willingness to return the said amount as long as his lawyer-client relationship with San that Atty. Alvero be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year for gross
Antonio subsisted. Finally, Atty. Alvero prayed that the instant complaint be dismissed. misconduct. Atty. Alvero was, likewise, ordered to immediately account for and return the
amount of P300,000.00 to Barcenas and/or Rodolfo San Antonio. The pertinent portion
thereof reads:

On June 20, 2005, the IBP-CBD notified the parties to appear for the mandatory
conference.[11]
The record does not show and no evidence was presented by
respondent to prove that the amount of P300,000 which was entrusted
to him was already returned to complainant or Rodolfo San Antonio, by
Meanwhile, in a separate Affidavit[12] dated September 19, 2005, San Antonio narrated way of justifying his non-return of the money, respondent claims in his
that he indeed sought Atty. Alveros professional services concerning an agricultural land Answer that the P300,000 was the source of the principal cause of action of
dispute. He claimed that Atty. Alvero made him believe that he needed to provide an amount the petitioner, Rodolfo San Antonio, in the above-cited DARAB Case No. R-
of P300,000.00 in order to file his complaint, as the same would be deposited in court. San 0403-0011-04 as shown by a copy of the Amended Petition, copy of which is
Antonio quoted Atty. Alvero as saying: Hindi pwedeng hindi kasabay ang pera sa pagpa-file hereto attached as Annex 1 and made an integral part hereof.
ng papel dahil tubusan yan, kung sakaling ipatubos ay nasa korte na ang pera. Believing
that it was the truth, San Antonio was forced to borrow money from Barcenas in the amount
ofP300,000.00. Subsequently, San Antonio gave the said amount to Atty. Alvero, in addition to
the professional fees, as shown by an acknowledgment receipt. [13] A review of Annex 1, which in the Amended Petition dated October
31, 2004 and filed on November 3, 2004, will show that the Petitioner
Rodolfo San Antonio is praying that he be allowed to cultivate the land after
the P300,000 is consigned by Petitioner to the Honorable Adjudication
Board. Up to the time of the filing of the instant complaint, no such
deposit or consignment took place and no evidence was presented that
respondent deposited the amount in court. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE
LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL
PROCESS.

The fact is respondent promised to return the amount (Annex


Rule 1.01. A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
B and C of the Complaint), but he failed to do so. The failure or deceitful conduct.
therefore of respondent to account for and return the amount
of P300,000 entrusted or given to him by his client constitute gross
misconduct and would subject him to disciplinary action under the
Code.[16] CANON 16.

A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND


PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.

Rule 16.01. A lawyer shall account for all money or property


In Notice of Resolution No. XVIII-2008-342 dated July 17, 2008, the IBP Board of collected or received for or from the client.
Governors adopted and approved with modification as to penalty the Report and
Recommendation of the IBP-CBD. Instead, it ordered that Atty. Alvero be suspended from the Rule 16.02. A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate
and apart from his own and those of others kept by him.
practice of law for two (2) years and, likewise, ordered him to account for and return the
amount of P300,000.00 to complainants within thirty (30) days from receipt of notice. Rule 16.03. A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his
client when due or upon demand. However, he shall have a lien over the
funds and may apply so much thereof as may be necessary to satisfy his
unlawful fees and disbursements, giving notice promptly thereafter to his
client. He shall also have a lien to the same extent on all judgments and
The Office of the Bar Confidant redocketed the instant case as a regular
executions he has secured for his client as provided for in the Rules of Court.
administrative complaint against Atty. Alvero and, subsequently, recommended that this Court
issue an extended resolution for the final disposition of the case.

In the instant case, Atty. Alvero admitted to having received the amount
We sustain the findings and recommendations of the IBP-CBD. of P300,000.00 from San Antonio, specifically for the purpose of depositing it in court.
However, as found by the IBP-CBD, Atty. Alvero presented no evidence that he had indeed
deposited the amount in or consigned it to the court. Neither was there any evidence that he
had returned the amount to Barcenas or San Antonio.
Undoubtedly, Atty. Alvero breached Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 and Rules 16.01, 16.02 and
16.03 of Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which read:

From the records of the case, there is likewise a clear breach of lawyer-client
relations. When a lawyer receives money from a client for a particular purpose, the lawyer is
CANON 1. bound to render an accounting to the client showing that the money was spent for a particular
purpose. And if he does not use the money for the intended purpose, the lawyer must which the amount of P80,000.00 was given him by the client, and for failing to return the said
immediately return the money to his client.[17] These, Atty. Alvero failed to do. amount upon demand. Considering that similar circumstances are attendant in this case, the
Court finds the Resolution of the IBP imposing on respondent a two-year suspension to be in
order.

Jurisprudence dictates that a lawyer who obtains possession of the funds and As a final note, we reiterate: the practice of law is not a right, but a privilege. It is
properties of his client in the course of his professional employment shall deliver the same to granted only to those of good moral character. The Bar must maintain a high standard of
his client (a) when they become due, or (b) upon demand. In the instant case, respondent honesty and fair dealing.[22] For the practice of law is a profession, a form of public trust, the
failed to account for and return the P300,000.00 despite complainants repeated demands.[18] performance of which is entrusted to those who are qualified and who possess good moral
character. Those who are unable or unwilling to comply with the responsibilities and meet the
standards of the profession are unworthy of the privilege to practice law.[23]
Atty. Alvero cannot take refuge in his claim that there existed no attorney-client
relationship between him and Barcenas. Even if it were true that no attorney-client
relationship existed between them, case law has it that an attorney may be removed, or WHEREFORE, Notice of Resolution No. XVIII-2008-342 dated July 17, 2008 of the
otherwise disciplined, not only for malpractice and dishonesty in the profession, but also for IBP-CBD Board of Governors, which found respondent Atty. Anorlito A. Alvero GUILTY of
gross misconduct not connected with his professional duties, making him unfit for the office gross misconduct, is AFFIRMED. He is hereby SUSPENDED for a period of two (2) years
and unworthy of the privileges which his license and the law confer upon him. [19] from the practice of law, effective upon the receipt of this Decision. He is warned that a
repetition of the same or a similar act will be dealt with more severely.

Atty. Alveros failure to immediately account for and return the money when due and
upon demand violated the trust reposed in him, demonstrated his lack of integrity and moral Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be
soundness, and warranted the imposition of disciplinary action. It gave rise to the appended to the personal record of Atty. Alvero as a member of the Bar; the Integrated Bar of
presumption that he converted the money for his own use, and this act constituted a gross the Philippines; and the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the
violation of professional ethics and a betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession. country for their information and guidance.
[20]
They constitute gross misconduct and gross unethical behavior for which he may be
suspended, following Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, which provides:

This Decision shall be immediately executory.

Sec. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court,


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

We come to the penalty imposable in this case.

In Small v. Banares,[21] the respondent was suspended for two years for violating
Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly for failing to file a case for
Republic of the Philippines BERSAMIN, J.:

Supreme Court

Manila This administrative case, which Jessie R. De Leon initiated on April 29, 2010, concerns
respondent attorneys alleged dishonesty and falsification committed in the pleadings he filed
in behalf of the defendants in the civil action in which De Leon intervened.

THIRD DIVISION Antecedents

On January 2, 2006, the Government brought suit for the purpose of correcting the
JESSIE R. DE LEON, A.C. No. 8620 transfer certificates of title (TCTs) covering two parcels of land located in Malabon City then
registered in the names of defendants Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu due to their
Complainant, encroaching on a public callejon and on a portion of the Malabon-Navotas River shoreline to
the extent, respectively, of an area of 45 square meters and of about 600 square meters. The
Present: suit, entitled Republic of thePhilippines, represented by the Regional Executive Director,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources v. Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu,
Gorgonia Flores, and the Registrar of Deeds of Malabon City, was docketed as Civil Case
No. 4674MN of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 74, in Malabon City.[1]
CARPIO MORALES, Chairperson,

BRION,
De Leon, having joined Civil Case No. 4674MN as a voluntary intervenor two years
-versus - BERSAMIN,
later (April 21, 2008), now accuses the respondent, the counsel of record of the defendants in
VILLARAMA, JR., and Civil Case No. 4674MN, with the serious administrative offenses of dishonesty and
falsification warranting his disbarment or suspension as an attorney. The respondents sin
SERENO, JJ. was allegedly committed by his filing for defendants Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu of
various pleadings (that is, answer with counterclaim and cross-claim in relation to the
main complaint; and answer to the complaint in intervention with counterclaim and cross-
claim) despite said spouses being already deceased at the time of filing. [2]
ATTY. EDUARDO G. CASTELO, Promulgated:
De Leon avers that the respondent committed dishonesty and falsification as follows:
Respondent.
xxx in causing it (to) appear that persons (spouses Lim Hio and
January 12, 2011 Dolores Chu) have participated in an act or proceeding (the making and filing
of the Answers) when they did not in fact so participate; in fact, they could not
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x have so participated because they were already dead as of that time, which
is punishable under Article 172, in relation to Article 171, paragraph 2, of the
Revised Penal Code.
DECISION
Respondent also committed the crime of Use of Falsified Documents,
by submitting the said falsified Answers in the judicial proceedings, Civil
Case No. 4674MN;
Respondent also made a mockery of the aforesaid judicial proceedings parents had already caused the transfer of the TCTs to their
by representing dead persons therein who, he falsely made to appear, as names.
contesting the complaints, counter-suing and cross-suing the adverse
parties.

12. That, as a consequence of the above criminal acts, complainant 3. Considering that William and Leonardo Lim themselves were the ones
respectfully submits that respondent likewise violated: who had engaged his services, he (Atty. Castelo) consequently truthfully
stated in the motion seeking an extension to file responsive pleading
dated February 3, 2006 the fact that it was the family of the defendants
(a) His Lawyers Oath: that had engaged him, and that he had then advised the children of the
xxx defendants to seek the assistance as well of a licensed geodetic
(b) The Code of Professional Responsibility:[3] surveyor and engineer;
xxx

On June 23, 2010, the Court directed the respondent to comment on De Leons
4. He (Atty. Castelo) prepared the initial pleadings based on his honest
administrative complaint.[4]
belief that Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu were then still living. Had
he known that they were already deceased, he would have most
In due course, or on August 2, 2010,[5] the respondent rendered the following
welcomed the information and would have moved to substitute Leonardo
explanations in his comment, to wit:
and William Lim as defendants for that reason;

1. The persons who had engaged him as attorney to represent the Lim
family in Civil Case No. 4674MN were William and Leonardo Lim, the 5. He (Atty. Castelo) had no intention to commit either a falsehood or a
children of Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu; falsification, for he in fact submitted the death certificates of Spouses Lim
Hio and Dolores Chu in order to apprise the trial court of that fact; and

2. Upon his (Atty. Castelo) initial queries relevant to the material allegations
of the Governments complaint in Civil Case No. 4674MN, William Lim, 6. The Office of the Prosecutor for Malabon City even dismissed the
the representative of the Lim Family, informed him: criminal complaint for falsification brought against him (Atty. Castelo)
through the resolution dated February 11, 2010. The same office denied
the complainants motion for reconsideration on May 17, 2010.
a. That the Lim family had acquired the properties from Georgina
Flores;
On September 3, 2010, the complainant submitted a reply,[6] whereby he asserted
that the respondents claim in his comment that he had represented the Lim family was a
b. That William and Leonardo Lim were already actively managing deception, because the subject of the complaint against the respondent was his filing of
the family business, and now co-owned the properties by virtue the answers in behalf of Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu despite their being already
of the deed of absolute sale their parents, Spouses Lim Hio and deceased at the time of the filing. The complainant regarded as baseless the justifications of
Dolores Chu, had executed in their favor; and the Office of the City Prosecutor for MalabonCity in dismissing the criminal complaint against
the respondent and in denying his motion for reconsideration.

c. That because of the execution of the deed of absolute sale, The Court usually first refers administrative complaints against members of the
William and Leonardo Lim had since honestly assumed that their Philippine Bar to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation and appropriate
recommendations. For the present case, however, we forego the prior referral of the Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
complaint to the IBP, in view of the facts being uncomplicated and based on the pleadings in deceitful conduct.
Civil Case No. 4674MN. Thus, we decide the complaint on its merits.

Ruling
CANON 10 - A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD
FAITH TO THE COURT.

We find that the respondent, as attorney, did not commit any falsehood or falsification
in his pleadings in Civil Case No. 4674MN. Accordingly, we dismiss the patently frivolous
complaint. Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the
doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by
any artifice.
I
The foregoing ordain ethical norms that bind all attorneys, as officers of the Court, to
Attorneys Obligation to tell the truth act with the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. All attorneys are
thereby enjoined to obey the laws of the land, to refrain from doing any falsehood in or out of
court or from consenting to the doing of any in court, and to conduct themselves according to
the best of their knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to their
All attorneys in the Philippines, including the respondent, have sworn to the vows clients. Being also servants of the Law, attorneys are expected to observe and maintain the
embodied in following Lawyers Oath,[7] viz: rule of law and to make themselves exemplars worthy of emulation by others. [9] The least they
can do in that regard is to refrain from engaging in any form or manner of unlawful conduct
(which broadly includes any act or omission contrary to law, but does not necessarily imply
I, ___________________, do solemnly swear that I will maintain the element of criminality even if it is broad enough to include such element). [10]
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution
and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted To all attorneys, truthfulness and honesty have the highest value, for, as the Court
authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in has said in Young v. Batuegas:[11]
court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or
unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same. I will delay no man for A lawyer must be a disciple of truth. He swore upon his admission to
money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of the Bar that he will do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court
my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to and he shall conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his
my clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his
mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God. clients. He should bear in mind that as an officer of the court his high
vocation is to correctly inform the court upon the law and the facts of the
case and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at correct conclusion. The
courts, on the other hand, are entitled to expect only complete honesty from
lawyers appearing and pleading before them. While a lawyer has the solemn
duty to defend his clients rights and is expected to display the utmost zeal in
The Code of Professional Responsibility echoes the Lawyers Oath, providing:[8] defense of his clients cause, his conduct must never be at the expense of
truth.
CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY
THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND
LEGAL PROCESSES.

Their being officers of the Court extends to attorneys not only the presumption of
regularity in the discharge of their duties, but also the immunity from liability to others for as
long as the performance of their obligations to their clients does not depart from their
character as servants of the Law and as officers of the Court. In particular, the statements can be reached without undue delay. A photo copy of the Deed of
they make in behalf of their clients that are relevant, pertinent, or material to the subject of Absolute Sale over the subject property, executed by herein defendants-
inquiry are absolutely privileged regardless of their defamatory tenor. Such cloak of privilege spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu in favor of said Leonardo C. Lim and
is necessary and essential in ensuring the unhindered service to their clients causes and in William C. Lim, is hereto attached as Annex 1 hereof.
protecting the clients confidences. With the cloak of privilege, they can freely and
courageously speak for their clients, verbally or in writing, in the course of judicial and quasi- xxx
judicial proceedings, without running the risk of incurring criminal prosecution or actions for
damages.[12] 21. There is improper joinder of parties in the complaint. Consequently,
answering defendants are thus unduly compelled to litigate in a suit
Nonetheless, even if they enjoy a number of privileges by reason of their office and in regarding matters and facts as to which they have no knowledge of nor any
recognition of the vital role they play in the administration of justice, attorneys hold the involvement or participation in.
privilege and right to practice law before judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative tribunals or
offices only during good behavior.[13]
22. Plaintiff is barred by the principle of estoppel in bringing this suit, as
II it was the one who, by its governmental authority, issued the titles to the
subject property.
Respondent did not violate the Lawyers Oath

and the Code of Professional Responsibility


This action is barred by the principles of prescription and laches for
plaintiffs unreasonable delay in brining this suit, particularly against
defendant Flores, from whom herein answering defendants acquired the
subject property in good faith and for value. If truly plaintiff has a clear and
valid cause of action on the subject property, it should not have waited thirty
On April 17, 2006, the respondent filed an answer with counterclaim and cross- (30) years to bring suit.
claim in behalf of Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu, the persons whom the Government as
plaintiff named as defendants in Civil Case No. 4674MN.[14] He alleged therein that:

2. The allegations in paragraph 2 of the complaint are Two years later, or on April 21, 2008, De Leon filed his complaint in intervention in
ADMITTED. Moreover, it is hereby made known that defendants Civil Case No. 4674MN.[15] He expressly named therein as defendants vis--vis his
spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu had already sold the two (2) parcels intervention not only the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu, the original defendants, but also
of land, together with the building and improvements thereon, covered their sons Leonardo Lim, married to Sally Khoo, and William Lim, married to Sally Lee, the
by Transfer Certificate of Title No. (148805) 139876 issued by the same persons whom the respondent had already alleged in the answer, supra, to be the
Register of Deeds of Rizal, to Leonardo C. Lim and William C. Lim, of transferees and current owners of the parcels of land.[16]
Rms. 501 502 Dolores Bldg., Plaza del Conde, Binondo, Manila.
Hence, Leonardo Lim and William Lim are their successors-in-interest
and are the present lawful owners thereof.
The following portions of De Leons complaint in intervention in Civil Case No.
4674MN are relevant, viz:

In order to properly and fully protect their rights, ownership and


interests, Leonardo C. Lim and William C. Lim shall hereby represent
the defendants-spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu as
substitute/representative parties in this action. In this manner, a
complete and expeditious resolution of the issues raised in this case
2. Defendant spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu, are Filipino citizens their wall and also allowed said employees and relatives as well as friends to
with addresses at 504 Plaza del Conde, Manila and at 46 C. Arellano St., build houses and shacks without the benefit of any building permit as well as
San Agustin, Malabon City, where they may be served with summons permit to occupy said illegal buildings;
and other court processes;

9. That the enlargement of the properties of spouses Lim Hio and Dolores
3. Defendant spouses Leonardo Lim and Sally Khoo and defendant Chu had resulted in the closure of street lot no. 3 as described in TCT no.
spouses William Lim and Sally Lee are all of legal age and with postal 143828, spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu having titled the street lot no. 3
address at Rms. 501-502 Dolores Bldg., Plaza del Conde, Binondo, and placed a wall at its opening on C. Arellano street, thus closing any exit or
Manila, alleged purchasers of the property in question from egress or entrance to intervenors property as could be seen from Annex H
defendant spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu; hereof and thus preventing intervenor from entering into his property resulted
in preventing intervenor from fully enjoying all the beneficial benefits from his
property;

4. Defendants Registrar of Deeds of Malabon City holds office


in Malabon City, where he may be served with summons and other court
processes. He is charged with the duty, among others, of registering
decrees of Land Registration in Malabon City under the Land Registration
Act; 10. That defendant spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu and later on
defendant spouses Leonardo Lim and Sally Khoo and defendant
xxx spouses William Lim and Sally Lee are the only people who could give
permission to allow third parties to enter intervenors property and
7. That intervenor Jessie de Leon, is the owner of a parcel of land located their control over intervenors property is enforced through his armed
in Malabon City described in TCT no. M-15183 of the Register of Deeds of guard thus exercising illegal beneficial rights over intervenors property
Malabon City, photocopy of which is attached to this Complaint as Annex G, at intervenors loss and expense, thus depriving intervenor of
and copy of the location plan of the aforementioned property is attached to legitimate income from rents as well as legitimate access to
this complaint as Annex H and is made an integral part hereof; intervenors property and the worst is preventing the Filipino people
from enjoying the Malabon Navotas River and enjoying the right of
access to the natural fruits and products of the Malabon Navotas River
and instead it is defendant spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu and
8. That there are now more or less at least 40 squatters on intervenors defendant spouses Leonardo Lim and Sally Khoo and defendant
property, most of them employees of defendant spouses Lim Hio and spouses William Lim and Sally Lee using the public property
Dolores Chu and defendant spouses Leonardo Lim and Sally Khoo and exclusively to enrich their pockets;
defendant spouses William Lim and Sally Lee who had gained access to
intervenors property and built their houses without benefit of any building xxx
permits from the government who had made their access to intervenors
property thru a two panel metal gate more or less 10 meters wide and with 13. That defendant spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu and defendant
an armed guard by the gate and with permission from defendant spouses spouses Leonardo Lim and Sally Khoo and defendant spouses William
Lim Hio and Dolores Chu and/or and defendant spouses Leonardo Lim and Lim and Sally Lee were confederating, working and helping one another
Sally Khoo and defendant spouses William Lim and Sally Lee illegally in their actions to inhibit intervenor Jessie de Leon to gain access and
entered intervenors property thru a wooden ladder to go over a 12 foot wall beneficial benefit from his property;
now separating intervenors property from the former esquinita which is now
part of defendant spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chus and defendant
spouses Leonardo Lim and Sally Khoos and defendant spouses William Lim
and Sally Lees property and this illegally allowed his employees as well as On July 10, 2008, the respondent, representing all the defendants named in De
their relatives and friends thereof to illegally enter intervenors property Leons complaint in intervention, responded in an answer to the complaint in intervention with
through the ladders defendant spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu installed in
counterclaim and cross-claim,[17] stating that spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu xxx are now factual ground that this Motion for Substitution is based and certainly
both deceased, to wit: not on the wrong position of Intervenor de Leon that the same is based
on the death of defendants Lim Hio and Dolores Chu.

xxx
4. Under the foregoing circumstances and facts, the demise of
2. The allegations in paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Complaint are defendants Lim Hio and Dolores Chu no longer has any significant
ADMITTED, with the qualification that defendants-spouses Leonardo Lim relevance to the instant Motion. To, however, show the fact of their death,
and Sally Khoo Lim, William Lim and Sally Lee Lim are the registered photo copy of their respective death certificates are attached hereto as
and lawful owners of the subject property covered by Transfer Annexes 1 and 2 hereof.
Certificate of Title No. M-35929, issued by the Register of Deeds for
Malabon City, having long ago acquired the same from the defendants-
spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu, who are now both deceased. Copy
of the TCT No. M-35929 is attached hereto as Annexes 1 and 1-A. The 5. The Motion for substitution of Defendants in the Principal Complaint
same title has already been previously submitted to this Honorable Court dated March 18, 2009 shows in detail why there is the clear, legal and
on December 13, 2006. imperative need to now substitute herein movants-defendants Lim for
defendants Lim Hio and Dolores Chu in the said principal complaint.
xxx

6. Simply put, movants-defendants Lim have become the


The respondent subsequently submitted to the RTC a so-called clarification and indispensable defendants in the principal complaint of plaintiff DENR, being
submission,[18] in which he again adverted to the deaths of Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores now the registered and lawful owners of the subject property and the real
Chu, as follows: parties-in-interest in this case. Without them, no final determination can be
had in the Principal complaint.

1. On March 19, 2009, herein movants-defendants Lim filed before


this Honorable Court a Motion for Substitution of Defendants in the Principal 7. Significantly, the property of intervenor Jessie de Leon, which is the
Complaint of the plaintiff Republic of the Philippines, represented by the subject of his complaint-in-intervention, is identically, if not similarly, situated
DENR; as that of herein movants-defendants Lim, and likewise, may as well be a
proper subject of the Principal Complaint of plaintiff DENR.

2. The Motion for Substitution is grounded on the fact that the


two (2) parcels of land, with the improvements thereon, which are the 8. Even the plaintiff DENR, itself, concedes the fact that herein
subject matter of the instant case, had long been sold and transferred movants-defendants Lim should be substituted as defendants in the principal
by the principal defendants-spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu to herein complaint as contained in their Manifestation dated June 3, 2009, which has
complaint-in-intervention defendants Leonardo C. Lim and William C. been filed in this case.
Lim, by way of a Deed of Absolute Sale, a copy of which is attached to
said Motion as Annex 1 thereof.

WHEREFORE, herein movants-defendants Lim most respectfully


submit their Motion for substitution of Defendants in the Principal Complaint
3. Quite plainly, the original principal defendants Lim Hio and and pray that the same be granted.
Dolores Chu, having sold and conveyed the subject property, have
totally lost any title, claim or legal interest on the property. It is on this xxx
According to Justice Cardozo,[19] xxx the fair fame of a lawyer, however innocent of
Did the respondent violate the letter and spirit of the Lawyers Oath and the Code of wrong, is at the mercy of the tongue of ignorance or malice. Reputation in such a calling is a
Professional Responsibility in making the averments in the aforequoted pleadings of the plant of tender growth, and its bloom, once lost, is not easily restored.
defendants?
A lawyers reputation is, indeed, a very fragile object. The Court, whose officer every
lawyer is, must shield such fragility from mindless assault by the unscrupulous and the
malicious. It can do so, firstly, by quickly cutting down any patently frivolous complaint against
A plain reading indicates that the respondent did not misrepresent that Spouses Lim a lawyer; and, secondly, by demanding good faith from whoever brings any accusation of
Hio and Dolores Chu were still living. On the contrary, the respondent directly stated in unethical conduct. A Bar that is insulated from intimidation and harassment is encouraged to
the answer to the complaint in intervention with counterclaim and cross-claim, supra, and in be courageous and fearless, which can then best contribute to the efficient delivery and
the clarification and submission, supra, that the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu proper administration of justice.
were already deceased.
The complainant initiated his complaint possibly for the sake of harassing the
respondent, either to vex him for taking the cudgels for his clients in connection with Civil
Case No. 4674MN, or to get even for an imagined wrong in relation to the subject matter of
Even granting, for the sake of argument, that any of the respondents pleadings might
the pending action, or to accomplish some other dark purpose. The worthlessness of the
have created any impression that the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu were still living, we
accusation apparent from the beginning has impelled us into resolving the complaint
still cannot hold the respondent guilty of any dishonesty or falsification. For one, the
sooner than later.
respondent was acting in the interest of the actual owners of the properties when he filed
the answer with counterclaim and cross-claim on April 17, 2006. As such, his pleadings were
privileged and would not occasion any action against him as an attorney. Secondly, having
WHEREFORE, we dismiss the complaint for disbarment or suspension filed against
made clear at the start that the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu were no longer the actual
Atty. Eduardo G. Castelo for utter lack of merit.
owners of the affected properties due to the transfer of ownership even prior to the institution
of the action, and that the actual owners (i.e., Leonardo and William Lim) needed to be
substituted in lieu of said spouses, whether the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu were still
living or already deceased as of the filing of the pleadings became immaterial. And, lastly, SO ORDERED.
De Leon could not disclaim knowledge that the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu were no
longer living. His joining in the action as a voluntaryintervenor charged him with notice
of all the other persons interested in the litigation. He also had an actual awareness of such
other persons, as his own complaint in intervention, supra, bear out in its specific allegations
against Leonardo Lim and William Lim, and their respective spouses. Thus, he could not
validly insist that the respondent committed any dishonesty or falsification in relation to him or
to any other party.

III

Good faith must always motivate any complaint

against a Member of the Bar


September 7, 2011

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

DECISION
Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Manila
BERSAMIN, J.:

FIRST DIVISION
Found guilty of direct contempt by the First Division of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA
First Division), and sanctioned with imprisonment for a period of ten days and a fine
of P2,000.00, the petitioners have come to the Court for relief through certiorari, claiming that
the CTA First Divisions finding and sentence were made in grave abuse of its discretion
because the language they used in their motion for reconsideration as the attorneys for a
DENIS B. HABAWEL and ALEXIS F. MEDINA, G.R. No. 174759 party was contumacious. Specifically, they assail the resolution dated May 16, 2006,
[1]
whereby the CTA First Division disposed as follows:
Petitioners,

Present:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds Attorneys Denis B.
Habawel and Alexis F. Medina of the Ponce Enrile Reyes and
Manalastas Law Offices guilty of DIRECT CONTEMPT. Each counsel is
CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
hereby ORDERED TO PAY a fine of Two Thousand Pesos and to SUFFER
- versus - BERSAMIN, IMPRISONMENT for a period of ten (10) days.

DEL CASTILLO, and

VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. SO ORDERED.[2]

Promulgated: and the resolution dated July 26, 2006, [3] whereby the CTA First Division denied their motion
for reconsideration and reiterated the penalties.
THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS, FIRST
DIVISION,

Respondent. Antecedents
include the real property tax, an ad valorem tax, the refund of excess payment of which
Surfield was claiming. Accordingly, the CTA First Division ruled that the jurisdiction of the CTA
The petitioners were the counsel of Surfield Development Corporation (Surfield), which concerning real property tax cases fell under a different section of Republic Act No. 9282 and
sought from the Office of the City Treasurer of Mandaluyong City the refund of excess realty under a separate book of Republic Act No. 7160.
taxes paid from 1995 until 2000. [4] After the City Government of Mandaluyong City denied its
claim for refund,[5] Surfield initiated a special civil action for mandamus in the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) in Mandaluyong City, which was docketed as SCA No. MC03-2142
entitled Surfield Development Corporation v. Hon. City Treasurer of Mandaluyong City, and In addition, the CTA First Division, taking notice of the language the petitioners
Hon. City Assessor of Mandaluyong City, and assigned to Branch 214.[6] Surfield later employed in the motion for reconsideration, required them to explain within five days from
amended its petition to include its claim for refund of the excess taxes paid from 2001 until receipt why they should not be liable for indirect contempt or be made subject to disciplinary
2003.[7] action, thusly:

On October 15, 2004, the RTC dismissed the petition on the ground that the period to IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, petitioners Motion for
file the claim had already prescribed and that Surfield had failed to exhaust administrative Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. And insofar as the
remedies. The RTC ruled that the grant of a tax refund was not a ministerial duty compellable merits of the case are concerned let this Resolution be considered as the
by writ of mandamus.[8] final decision on the matter.

Surfield, represented by the petitioners, elevated the dismissal to the CTA via petition However, this Court finds the statements of petitioners counsel that it
for review (CTA AC No. 5 entitled Surfield Development Corporation v. Hon. City Treasurer is gross ignorance of the law for the Honorable Court to have held that it has
and Hon. City Assessor, Mandaluyong City).[9] The appeal was assigned to the First Division, no jurisdiction over this instant petition; the grossness of this Honorable
composed of Presiding Justice Ernesto D. Acosta, Associate Justice Lovell R. Bautista and Courts ignorance of the law is matched only by the unequivocal expression
Associate Justice Caesar A. Casanova. of this Honorable Courts jurisdiction over the instant case and this Court
lacked the understanding and respect for the doctrine of stare decisis as
derogatory, offensive and disrespectful. Lawyers are charged with the basic
duty to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and
In its decision dated January 5, 2006, [10] the CTA First Division denied the petition for judicial officers; they vow solemnly to conduct themselves with all good
lack of jurisdiction and for failure to exhaust the remedies provided under Section 253 [11] and fidelityto the courts. As a matter of fact, the first canon of legal ethics
Section 226[12] of Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code). enjoins them to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude, not for the
sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the
maintenance of its superior importance. Therefore, petitioners counsel is
hereby ORDERED to explain within five (5) days from receipt of this
Undeterred, the petitioners sought reconsideration in behalf of Surfield, [13] insisting that Resolution why he should not be held for indirect contempt and/or subject to
the CTA had jurisdiction pursuant to Section 7(a)(3) of Republic Act No. 9282; [14] and arguing disciplinary action.
that the CTA First Division manifested its lack of understanding or respect for the doctrine
of stare decisis in not applying the ruling in Ty v. Trampe (G.R. No. 117577, December 1,
1995, 250 SCRA 500), to the effect that there was no need to file an appeal before the Local
Board of Assessment Appeals pursuant to Section 22 of Republic Act No. 7160.

SO ORDERED.[15]

On March 15, 2006, the CTA First Division denied Surfields motion for reconsideration.
On the issue of jurisdiction, the CTA First Division explained that the jurisdiction conferred by
Section 7(a)(3) of Republic Act No. 1125, as amended by Republic Act No. 9282, referred to The petitioners submitted a compliance dated March 27, 2006, [16] in which they
appeals from the decisions, orders, or resolutions of the RTCs in local tax cases and did not appeared to apologize but nonetheless justified their language as, among others, necessary
to bluntly call the Honorable Courts attention to the grievousness of the error by calling a totally ignored Section 7(a)(3) in ruling on its lack of jurisdiction
spade by spade.[17] (par. 10 of the Compliance; docket, p. 353);[18]

In its first assailed resolution, the CTA First Division found the petitioners apology
wanting in sincerity and humility, observing that they chose words that were so strong, which
brings disrepute the Courts honor and integrity for brazenly pointing to the Courts alleged Accordingly, the CTA First Division adjudged both of the petitioners guilty of direct
ignorance and grave abuse of discretion, to wit: contempt of court for failing to uphold their duty of preserving the integrity and respect due to
the courts, sentencing each to suffer imprisonment of ten days and to pay P2,000.00 as fine.

Seeking reconsideration,[19] the petitioners submitted that they could not be held guilty
In their Compliance, the Court finds no sincerity and humility when of direct contempt because: (a) the phrase gross ignorance of the lawwas used in its legal
counsels Denis B. Habawel and Alexis F. Medina asked for apology. In fact, sense to describe the error of judgment and was not directed to the character or competence
the counsels brazenly pointed the Courts alleged ignorance and grave of the decision makers; (b) there was no unfounded accusation or allegation, or
abuse of discretion. Their chosen words are so strong, which brings scandalous, offensive or menacing, intemperate, abusive, abrasive or threatening, or vile,
disrepute the Courts honor and integrity. We quote: rude and repulsive statements or words contained in their motion for reconsideration; (c)
there was no statement in their motion for reconsideration that brought the authority of the
CTA and the administration of the law into disrepute; and (d) they had repeatedly offered their
apology in their compliance.[20]
a) Admittedly, the language of the Motion for
Reconsideration was not endearing. However, the undersigned
counsel found it necessary to bluntly call the Honorable Courts
attention to the grievousness of the error by calling a spade a Their submissions did not convince and move the CTA First Division to reconsider,
spade. The advocacy needed a strong articulation of the gravity of which declared through its second assailed resolution that:
the error of the Honorable Court in avoiding the substantial and
transcendental issues by the simple expedient of dismissing the
petition for alleged lack of jurisdiction, in violation of Section 14,
Article VIII of the Constitution, which requires that the Decision The tone of an irate lawyer would almost always reveal the sarcasm in the
must express clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which phrases used. The scurrilous attacks made in the guise of pointing out errors
the Decision was based (par. 3 of the Compliance; docket, p. of judgment almost always result to the destruction of the high esteem and
349); regard towards the Court.[21]

b) Since the Honorable Court simply quoted Section 7(a)(5) and disposed thusly:
and it totally ignored Section 7(a)(3), to perfunctorily find that
(U)ndoubtedly, appeals of the decisions or rulings of the Regional
Trial Court concerning real property taxes evidently do not fall
WHEREFORE, petitioners Motion for Reconsideration is hereby
within the jurisdiction of the CTA, the undersigned counsel formed
DENIED for lack of merit. Each counsel is hereby ORDERED TO PAY a fine
a perception that the Honorable Court was totally unaware or
of Two Thousand Pesos and to SUFFER IMPRISONMENT for a period of ten
ignorant of the new provision, Section 7(a)(3). Hence, the
(10) days.
statements that it was gross ignorance of the law for the Honorable
Court to have held that it has not [sic] jurisdiction, as well as, the
grossness of the Honorable Courts ignorance of the law is
matched only by the unequivocal expression of this Honorable SO, ORDERED.[22]
Courts jurisdiction over the instant case were an honest and frank
articulation of undersigned counsels perception that was
influenced by its failure to understand why the Honorable Court
Issues their apology; and that they merely pointed out the error in the decision of the CTA First
Division.

Arguing that they were merely prompted by their (z)ealous advocacy and an appalling
error committed by the CTA First Division to frankly describe such error as gross ignorance For its part, the CTA First Division contends that a reading of the motion for
of the law, the petitioners now attribute grave abuse of discretion to the CTA First Division in reconsideration and the character of the words used therein by the petitioners indicated that
finding that: their statements reflected no humility, nor were they expressive of a contrite heart; and that
their submissions instead reflected arrogance and sarcasm, that they even took the
opportunity to again deride the public respondent on the manner of how it wrote the
decision.[23]
I

THE PETITIONERS LANGUAGE IN THE SUBJECT MOTION AND


COMPLIANCE WAS CONTUMACIOUS; The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) opines that submitting a pleading containing
derogatory, offensive and malicious statements to the same court or judge in which the
proceedings are pending constitutes direct contempt; and that the CTA First Division did not
abuse its discretion in finding the petitioners liable for direct contempt under Section 1, Rule
II 71 of the Rules of Court.[24]
THE PETITIONERS WERE NOT SINCERE IN THEIR APOLOGY AND
WERE ARROGANT;
Ruling

III
We dismiss the petition for certiorari, and declare that the CTA First Division did not
THE EXERCISE OF CONTEMPT POWER WAS WITHIN THE LIMITS SET abuse its discretion, least of all gravely, in finding that the petitioners committed direct
BY THE SUPREME COURT; AND contempt of court.

IV Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates all attorneys to


observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and to insist on
THE PETITIONERS WERE GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF
similar conduct by others. Rule 11.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility specifically
DIRECT CONTEMPT.
enjoins all attorneys thus:

Rule 11.03. A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or


The petitioners continue to posit that the phrase gross ignorance of the law was used menacing language or behavior before the Courts.
in its strict legal sense to emphasize the gravity of the error of law committed by the CTA First
Division; and that the statements described by the CTA First Division as abrasive, offensive,
derogatory, offensive and disrespectful should be viewed within the context of the general
tone and language of their motion for reconsideration; that their overall language was
tempered, restrained and respectful and should not be construed as a display of It is conceded that an attorney or any other person may be critical of the courts and
contumacious attitude or as a flouting or arrogant belligerence in defiance of the court to be their judges provided the criticism is made in respectful terms and through legitimate
penalized as direct contempt; that the CTA First Division did not appreciate the sincerity of
channels. In that regard, we have long adhered to the sentiment aptly given expression to in
the leading case of In re: Almacen:[25]
The CTA First Division held the statements to constitute direct contempt of court
xxx every citizen has the right to comment upon and criticize the meriting prompt penalty.
actuations of public officers. This right is not diminished by the fact
that the criticism is aimed at a judicial authority, or that it is articulated
by a lawyer. Such right is especially recognized where the criticism
concerns a concluded litigation, because then the courts actuation are We agree.
thrown open to public consumption.
xxx
Courts and judges are not sacrosanct. They should and expect By such statements, the petitioners clearly and definitely overstepped the bounds of
critical evaluation of their performance. For like the executive and the propriety as attorneys, and disregarded their sworn duty to respect the courts. An imputation
legislative branches, the judiciary is rooted in the soil of democratic in a pleading of gross ignorance against a court or its judge, especially in the absence of any
society, nourished by the periodic appraisal of the citizens whom it is evidence, is a serious allegation,[30] and constitutes direct contempt of court. It is settled that
expected to serve. derogatory, offensive or malicious statements contained in pleadings or written submissions
presented to the same court or judge in which the proceedings are pending are treated as
Well-recognized therefore is the right of a lawyer, both as an direct contempt because they are equivalent to a misbehavior committed in the presence of
officer of the court and as a citizen, to criticize in properly respectful or so near a court or judge as to interrupt the administration of justice. [31] This is true, even if
terms and through legitimate channels the acts of courts and the derogatory, offensive or malicious statements are not read in open court. [32] Indeed,
judges.xxx inDantes v. Judge Ramon S. Caguioa, [33] where the petitioners motion for clarification stated
xxx that the respondent judges decision constituted gross negligence and ignorance of the rules,
Hence, as a citizen and as officer of the court, a lawyer is expected and was pure chicanery and sophistry, the Court held that a pleading containing derogatory,
not only to exercise the right, but also to consider it his duty to avail of offensive or malicious statements when submitted before a court or judge in which the
such right. No law may abridge this right. Nor is he professionally proceedings are pending is direct contempt because it is equivalent to a misbehavior
answerable for a scrutiny into the official conduct of the judges, which committed in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to interrupt the administration of
would not expose him to legal animadversion as a citizen. xxx justice.[34]
xxx
But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall
be bona fide, and shall not spill over the walls of decency and
propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the one hand, and In his dissent, Justice Del Castillo, although conceding that the petitioners
abuse and slander of courts and the judges thereof, on the statements were strong, tactless and hurtful, [35] regards the statements not contemptuous,
other. Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of or not necessarily assuming the level of contempt for being explanations of their position in a
respect to courts. It is such a misconduct that subjects a lawyer to case under consideration and because an unfavorable decision usually incites bitter
disciplinary action. (emphasis supplied)[26] feelings.[36]

The test for criticizing a judges decision is, therefore, whether or not the criticism
is bona fide or done in good faith, and does not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. Such contempt of court cannot be condoned or be simply ignored and set aside,
however, for the characterization that the statements were strong, tactless and hurtful,
although obviously correct, provides no ground to be lenient towards the petitioners, even
assuming that such strong, tactless and hurtful statements were used to explain their
Here, the petitioners motion for reconsideration contained the following statements, to clients position in the case.[37] The statements manifested a disrespect towards the CTA and
wit: (a) [i]t is gross ignorance of the law for the Honorable Court to have held that it has no the members of its First Division approaching disdain. Nor was the offensiveness of their
jurisdiction over the instant petition;[27] (b) [t]he grossness of the Honorable Courts strong, tactless and hurtful language minimized on the basis that snide remarks or
ignorance of the law is matched only by the unequivocal expression of this Honorable Courts sarcastic innuendos made by counsels are not considered contemptuous considering that
jurisdiction;[28] and (c) the Honorable Courts lack of understanding or respect for the unfavorable decision usually incite bitter feelings.[38] By branding the CTA and the members
doctrine of stare decisis.[29] of its First Division as totally unaware or ignorant of Section 7(a)(3) of Republic Act No.
9282, and making the other equally harsh statements, the petitioners plainly assailed the provisions involved reveals that the error was committed by them, not by the CTA First
legal learning of the members of the CTA First Division. To hold such language as reflective of Division. This result became immediately evident from a reading of Section 7(a)(3) and
a very deliberate move on the part of the petitioners to denigrate the CTA and the members of Section 7(a)(5) of Republic Act No. 9282, the former being the anchor for their claim that the
its First Division is not altogether unwarranted. CTA really had jurisdiction, to wit:

The petitioners disdain towards the members of the CTA First Division for ruling Section 7. Jurisdiction. The CTA shall exercise:
against their side found firm confirmation in their compliance, in which they unrepentantly
emphasized such disdain in the following telling words:

(a) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal, as herein


provided:
3. Admittedly, the language of the Motion for Reconsideration was
not endearing. However, the undersigned counsel found it necessary to
bluntly call the Honorable Courts attention to the grievousness of the xxx
error by calling a spade a spade. The advocacy needed a strong
articulation of the gravity of the error of the Honorable Court in (3) Decisions, orders or resolutions of the Regional Trial Courts
avoiding the substantial and transcendental issues by the simple in local tax cases originally decided or resolved by them in the exercise
expedient of dismissing the petition for alleged lack of jurisdiction, in of their original or appellate jurisdiction; (emphasis supplied)
violation of Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution, which requires that
the Decision must express clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on xxx
which the Decision was based.
(5) Decisions of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals in
xxx the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction over cases involving the
assessment and taxation of real property originally decided by the
10. Since the Honorable Court simply quoted Section 7(a)(5), and it provincial or city board of assessment appeals; (emphasis supplied)
totally ignored Section 7(a)(3), to perfunctorily find that (U)ndoubtedly,
appeals of the decisions or rulings of the Regional Trial Court concerning real xxx
property taxes evidently do not fall within the jurisdiction of the CTA, the
undersigned counsel formed a perception that the Honorable Court was
totally unaware or ignorant of the new provision, Section 7(a)(3). Hence As can be read and seen, Section 7(a)(3) covers only appeals of the (d)ecisions,
the statements that it was gross ignorance of the law for the Honorable Court orders or resolutions of the Regional Trial Courts in local tax cases originally decided or
to have held that it has no jurisdiction, as well as, the grossness of the resolved by them in the exercise of their original or appellate jurisdiction. The provision is
Honorable Courts ignorance of the law is matched only by the unequivocal clearly limited to local tax disputes decided by the Regional Trial Courts. In contrast, Section
expression of this Honorable Courts jurisdiction over the instant case were 7(a)(5) grants the CTA cognizance of appeals of the (d)ecisions of the Central Board of
an honest and frank articulation of undersigned counsels perception that Assessment Appeals in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction over cases involving the
was influenced by its failure to understand why the Honorable Court totally assessment and taxation of real property originally decided by the provincial or city board of
ignored Section 7(a)(3) in ruling on its lack of jurisdiction. (emphasis assessment appeals. In its resolution of March 15, 2006, therefore, the CTA First Division
supplied)[39] forthrightly explained why, contrary to the petitioners urging, Section 7(a)(3) was not
applicable by clarifying that a real property tax, being an ad valorem tax, could not be treated
as a local tax.[40]

We might have been more understanding of the milieu in which the petitioners made
It would have been ethically better for the petitioners to have then retreated and
the statements had they convinced us that the CTA First Division truly erred in holding itself
simply admitted their blatant error upon being so informed by the CTA First Division about the
bereft of jurisdiction over the appeal of their client. But our review of the text of the legal
untenability of their legal position on the matter, but they still persisted by going on in their of zealousness in defending the causes of clients did not permit them to cross the line
compliance dated March 27, 2006 to also blame the CTA First Division for their perception between liberty and license.[43] Indeed, the Court has not lacked in frequently reminding the
about the CTA First Divisions being totally oblivious of Section 7(a)(3) due to the terseness Bar that language, though forceful, must still be dignified; and though emphatic, must remain
of the Decision dated 05 January 2006, viz: respectful as befitting advocates and in keeping with the dignity of the Legal Profession. [44] It
is always worthwhile to bear in mind, too, that the language vehicle did not run short of
expressions that were emphatic, yet respectful; convincing, yet not derogatory; and
illuminating, yet not offensive.[45] No attorney worthy of the title should forget that his first and
12. Undersigned counsel regrets having bluntly argued that this foremost status as an officer of the Court calls upon him to be respectful and restrained in his
Honorable Court was grossly ignorant of Section 7(a)(3) because from dealings with a court or its judge. Clearly, the petitioners criticism of the CTA First Division
the terseness of the Decision dated 05 January 2006, the undersigned was not bona fide or done in good faith, and spilled over the walls of propriety.
counsel perceived the Honorable Court as being totally oblivious of
Section 7(a)(3). Had the reasons discussed in the Resolution dated 15
March 2006 been articulated in the 05 January 2006 decision, there
would have been no basis for undersigned counsels to have formed the The power to punish contempt of court is exercised on the preservative and not on the
above-mentioned perception.[41] (emphasis supplied) vindictive principle, and only occasionally should a court invoke its inherent power to punish
contempt of court in order to retain that respect without which the administration of justice
must falter or fail.[46] We reiterate that the sanction the CTA First Division has visited upon the
petitioners was preservative, for the sanction maintained and promoted the proper respect
The foregoing circumstances do not give cause for the Court to excuse the petitioners that attorneys and their clients should bear towards the courts of justice.
contemptuous and offensive language. No attorney, no matter his great fame or high prestige,
should ever brand a court or judge as grossly ignorant of the law, especially if there was no
sincere or legitimate reason for doing so. Every attorney must use only fair and temperate
language in arguing a worthy position on the law, and must eschew harsh and intemperate Inasmuch as the circumstances indicate that the petitioners tone of apology was
language that has no place in the educated ranks of the Legal Profession. Truly, the Bar probably feigned, for they did not relent but continued to justify their contemptuous language,
should strive to win arguments through civility and fairness, not by heated and acrimonious they do not merit any leniency. Nonetheless, the penalty of imprisonment for ten days and a
tone, as the Court aptly instructed in Slade Perkins v. Perkins,[42] to wit: fine of P2,000.00 is excessive punishment of the direct contempt of court for using
contemptuous and offensive language and verges on the vindictive. The Court foregoes the
imprisonment.

The court notices with considerable regret the heated and


acrimonious tone of the remarks of the counsel for appellant, in his
brief, in speaking of the action of the trial judge. We desire to express The Courts treatment of contemptuous and offensive language used by counsel in
our opinion that excessive language weakens rather than strengthens pleadings and other written submissions to the courts of law, including this Court, has not
the persuasive force of legal reasoning. We have noticed a growing been uniform. The treatment has dealt with contemptuous and offensive language either as
tendency to use language that experience has shown not to be contempt of court or administrative or ethical misconduct, or as both. The sanction has
conducive to the orderly and proper administration of justice. We ranged from a warning (to be more circumspect), a reprimand with stern warning against a
therefore bespeak the attorneys of this court to desist from such repetition of the misconduct, a fine of P2,000.00, a fine of P5,000.00, and even indefinite
practices, and to treat their opposing attorneys, and the judges who suspension from the practice of law.
have decided their cases in the lower court adversely to their
contentions with that courtesy all have a right to expect. (emphasis
supplied)
The sanction has usually been set depending on whether the offensive language is
viewed as contempt of court or as ethical misconduct. In Re: Letter Dated 21 February 2005
of Atty. Noel S. Sorreda,[47] the errant lawyer who made baseless accusations of manipulation
We do not hesitate to punish the petitioners for the direct contempt of court. They threw in his letters and compliance to this Court was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law.
out self-restraint and courtesy, traits that in the most trying occasions equate to rare virtues Although he was further declared guilty of contempt of court, the Court prescribed no
that all members of the Legal Profession should possess and cherish. They shunted aside separate penalty on him, notwithstanding that he evinced no remorse and did not apologize
the nobility of their profession. They wittingly banished the ideal that even the highest degree for his actions that resulted from cases that were decided against his clients for valid reasons.
In Re: Conviction of Judge Adoracion G. Angeles,[48] the complaining State Prosecutor,
despite his strong statements to support his position not being considered as direct contempt
of court, was warned to be more circumspect in language. In contrast, Judge Angeles was
reprimanded and handed a stern warning for the disrespectful language she used in her
pleadings filed in this Court, which declared such language to be below the standard
expected of a judicial officer. In Nuez v. Atty. Arturo B. Astorga,[49] Atty. Astorga was meted
a P2,000.00 fine for conduct unbecoming of a lawyer for hurling insulting language against
the opposing counsel. Obviously, the language was dealt with administratively, not as
contempt of court. In Ng v. Atty. Benjamin C. Alar,[50] the Court prescribed a higher fine
of P5,000.00 coupled with a stern warning against Atty. Alar who, in his motion for
reconsideration and to inhibit, cast insults and diatribes against the NLRC First Division and
its members. Yet again, the fine was a disciplinary sanction.

Despite having earlier directed the petitioners through its resolution of March 15, 2006
that they should explain within five (5) days from receipt of this Resolution why (they) should
not be held for indirect contempt and/or subject to disciplinary action, [51] the CTA First
Division was content with punishing them for direct contempt under Section 1, [52] Rule 71 of
the Rules of Court, and did not anymore pursue the disciplinary aspect. The Court concurs
with the offended courts treatment of the offensive language as direct contempt. Thus, we
impose on each of them a fine of P2,000.00, the maximum imposable fine under Section 1 of
Rule 71, taking into consideration the fact that the CTA is a superior court of the same level
as the Court of Appeals, the second highest court of the land. The penalty of imprisonment,
as earlier clarified, is deleted. Yet, they are warned against using offensive or intemperate
language towards a court or its judge in the future, for they may not be as lightly treated as
they now are.

ACCORDINGLY, we DISMISS the petition for certiorari; UPHOLD the resolutions


dated May 16, 2006 and July 26, 2006; and MODIFY the penalty imposed on Attorney Denis
B. Habawel and Attorney Alexis F. Medina by deleting the penalty of imprisonment and
sentencing them only to pay the fine of P2,000.00 each.

SO ORDERED.
Factual Background
This administrative case originated when respondent Atty. Magdaleno M. Pea filed
an Urgent Motion to Inhibit and to Resolve Respondents Urgent Omnibus Motion dated 30
January 2003[1] (the subject Motion to Inhibit) in two consolidated petitions involving
respondent that were pending before the Court. [2] This motion is directed against the
then ponente of the consolidated petitions, Justice Antonio T. Carpio, and reads in part:
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court PRIVATE RESPONDENT MAGDALENO M. PEA, pro
Baguio City se, respectfully states:

1. Despite all the obstacles respondent has had to hurdle


EN BANC in his quest for justice against Urban Bank and its officials, he has remained
steadfast in his belief that ultimately, he will be vindicated and the
wrongdoers will get their just deserts [sic]. What respondent is about to
IN RE: SUPREME COURT RESOLUTION A. C. No. 6332 relate however has, with all due respect, shaken his faith in the highest
DATED 28 APRIL 2003 IN G.R. NOS. 145817 Court of the land. If an anomaly as atrocious as this can happen even in
AND 145822 Present: the august halls of the Supreme Court, one can only wonder if there is
still any hope for our justice system.
CORONA, C.J.,
CARPIO,* 2. Private respondent wishes to make clear that he is not
VELASCO, JR.,* making a sweeping accusation against all the members of this Honorable
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, Court. He cannot however remain tight-lipped in the face of the
BRION, overwhelming evidence that has come to his knowledge regarding the
PERALTA, actuation of the ponente of this Honorable Division.
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, 3. In the evening of 19 November 2002, private
ABAD, respondent received a call from the counsel for petitioners, Atty. Manuel R.
VILLARAMA, JR., Singson (through his cell phone number 09189137383) who very excitedly
PEREZ, bragged that they had been able to secure an order from this Honorable
MENDOZA, Court suspending the redemption period and the consolidation of ownership
SERENO, over the Urban Bank properties sold during the execution sale. Private
REYES, and respondent was aghast because by them, more than two weeks had lapsed
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ. since the redemption period on the various properties had expired. At that
juncture in fact, Certificates of Final Sale had already been issued to the
Promulgated: purchasers of the properties. The only step that had to be accomplished was
the ministerial act of issuance of new titles in favor of the purchasers.
April 17, 2012
4. Private respondent composed himself and tried to recall
x-------------------------------------------------x if there was any pending incident with this Honorable Court regarding the
suspension of the redemption period but he could not remember any. In an
DECISION effort to hide his discomfort, respondent teased Atty. Singson about
bribing the ponente to get such an order. Much to his surprise, Atty.
PER CURIAM: Singson did not even bother to deny and in fact explained that they obviously
had to exert extra effort because they could not afford to lose the properties
involved (consisting mainly of almost all the units in the Urban Bank Plaza in
Makati City) as it might again cause the bank (now Export Industry Bank) to Division had agreed that petitioners Motion for Clarification and Urgent
close down. Motion to Resolve were merely NOTED and NOT GRANTED contrary to
what was stated in the 13 November 2002 Resolution. This makes the 13
5. Since private respondent himself had not received a November 2002 Resolution (at least the version that was released to the
copy of the order that Atty. Singson was talking about, he asked Atty. Singson parties) a falsified document because it makes it appear that a Resolution
to fax him the advance copy that they had received. The faxed advance was issued by the First Division granting petitioners Motion for
copy that Atty. Singson provided him bore the fax number and name of Atty. Clarification when in fact no such Resolution exists. The real
Singsons law office. A copy thereof is hereto attached as Annex A. Resolution arrived at by the First Division which can be gleaned from
the Agenda merely NOTED said motion. Copies of the two Agenda are
6. Private respondent could not believe what he read. It hereto attached as Annexes B and C.
appeared that a supposed Motion for Clarification was filed by petitioners
through Atty. Singson dated 6 August 2002, but he was never furnished a 11. At this point, private respondent could not help but
copy thereof. He asked a messenger to immediately secure a copy of the conclude that this anomaly was confirmatory of what Atty. Singson was
motion and thereafter confirmed that he was not furnished a copy. His bragging to him about. The clear and undeniable fact is the Honorable
supposed copy as indicated in the last page of the motion was sent to the members of this Division agreed that petitioners Motion for
Abello Concepcion Regala and Cruz (ACCRA) Law Offices. ACCRA, Clarification would only be NOTED but the ponente responsible for the
however, was never respondents counsel and was in fact the counsel of 13 November 2002 Resolution misrepresented that the same was
some of the petitioners. Respondents copy, in other words, was sent to his GRANTED.
opponents.
12. Respondent is not just speculating here. He is
7. The Motion for Clarification was thus resolved without CERTAIN that the ponente has a special interest in this case. Recently,
even giving respondent an opportunity to comment on the same. In contrast, he also found out that the ponente made a special request to bring this case
respondents Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated 19 along with him when he transferred from the Third Division to the First
November 2001 had been pending for almost a year and yet petitioners Division. Respondent has a copy of the Resolution of this Honorable Court
motions for extension to file comment thereon [were] being granted left and granting such request (hereto attached as Annex D). Indeed, this
right. circumstance, considered with all the foregoing circumstance, ineluctably
demonstrates that a major anomaly has occurred here.
8. In view of these circumstances, private respondent filed
on 10 December 2002, an Urgent Omnibus Motion (to Expunge Motion for 13. In view of these, private respondent is compelled to
Clarification and Recall of the 13 November 2002 Resolution). He filed a move for the inhibition of the ponente from this case. This matter should be
Supplement to the said motion on 20 December 2002. thoroughly investigated and respondent is now carefully considering his legal
options for redress. It has taken him seven years to seek vindication of his
9. While private respondent was waiting for petitioners to rights against petitioners, he is not about to relent at this point. In the
respond to his motion, he received sometime last week two documents that meantime, he can longer expect a fair and impartial resolution of this case if
confirmed his worst fears. The two documents indicate that this Honorable the ponente does not inhibit himself.
Court has not actually granted petitioners Motion for Clarification. They
indicate that the supposed 13 November 2002 Resolution of this 14. This Honorable Court has time and again emphasized
Honorable Court which Atty. Singson had bragged about WAS A the importance of impartiality and the appearance of impartiality on the part
FALSIFIED DOCUMENT! of judges and justices. The ponente will do well to heed such
pronouncements.
10. What private respondent anonymously received
were two copies of the official Agenda of the First Division of this 15. Finally, it is has now become incumbent upon this
Honorable Court for 13 November 2002, the date when the questioned Honorable Court to clarify its real position on the 19 November 2001
Resolution was supposedly issued. In both copies (apparently secured from Resolution. It is most respectfully submitted that in order to obviate any
the office of two different members of the Division, one of which is the copy of further confusion on the matter, respondents Urgent Omnibus Motion dated
the ponente himself), it is clearly indicated that the members of the 09 December 2002 (as well as the Supplement dated 19 November 2002)
should be resolved and this Honorable Court should confirm that the stay
order contained in the 19 November 2001 Resolution does not cover Annex B is alleged to be a photocopy of the supplemental agenda
properties already sold on execution. xxx (Emphasis supplied; citations of the First Division for November 13, 2002 (pages 61-62), with an entry in
omitted.) handwriting reading 10 AC on the left side and what appear to be marginal
notes on the right side of both pages. Annex C is alleged to be a
photocopy of the same supplemental agenda of the First Division for
November 13, 2002, with marginal notes on the right side of pages 61-
In support of his claims to inhibit the ponente, Atty. Pea attached to the subject 62. Annex D appears to be a photocopy of the resolution dated September
Motion to Inhibit two copies of the official Agenda for 13 November 2002 of the First 4, 2002 of the Third Division transferring the instant case to the First Division
Division of this Court, which he claimed to have anonymously received through the mail. (an internal resolution).
[3]
He also attached a copy of the Courts internal Resolutionregarding the transfer of the
case from the Third Division to the First Division, upon the request of Justice Carpio, to Atty. Pea was made to understand that all his statements taken
establish the latters alleged special interest in the case. [4] during this executive session were deemed under oath. Atty. Pea acceded
thereto.
In response, the Court issued a resolution on 17 February 2003 to require Atty. Pea
Atty. Pea was asked whether he knows any personnel of the Court
and Atty. Manuel R. Singson, counsel of Urban Bank in the consolidated petitions, to appear
who could possibly be the source. Atty. Pea replied in the negative and
before the Court on 03 March 2003 for an Executive Session. [5]
added that he obtained those documents contained in the annexes through
ordinary mail addressed at his residence in Pulupandan, Negros Occidental,
sometime in the second or third week of January 2003; but failed to give the
The reason for the required appearance of the two lawyers in the Executive Session exact date of his receipt. He said Annexes B and C were contained in one
is explained in the Courts Resolution dated 03 March 2003. [6] It states: envelope while Annex D was mailed in a separate envelope. He did not
bring the envelopes but promised the Court he would do his best to locate
The executive session started at 10:20 a.m. Chief Justice Hilario G. them. On questions by the Chief Justice, Atty. Pea admitted that the
Davide, Jr. formally opened the executive session and then requested envelopes may no longer be found. He was unable to respond to the
Associate Justice Jose C. Vitug to act as chair. Justice Vitug stated that the observation of the Chief Justice that the Court would be in no position to
executive session was called because the Court is perturbed by some know whether the envelopes he would later produce would be the same
statements made by respondent Atty. Magdaleno Pea involving strictly envelopes he allegedly received. Atty. Pea further admitted that his office
confidential matters which are purely internal to the Court and which did not stamp Received on the envelopes and the contents thereof; neither
the latter cites as grounds in his Urgent Motion to Inhibit and to did he have them recorded in a log book.
Resolve Respondents Urgent Omnibus Motion.
When asked by the Chief Justice why he relied on those annexes as
Respondent/movant Atty. Magdaleno Pea and counsel for petitioner grounds for his motion to inhibit when the same were coursed only through
Atty. Manuel R. Singson attended the session. ordinary mail under unusual circumstances and that respondent did not even
bother to take note of the postal marks nor record the same in a log
The matters under inquiry were how respondent was able to book, Atty. Pea answered that he was 100% certain that those
obtain copies of the documents he used as annexes in his motion to documents are authentic and he assumed that they came from Manila
inhibit, and whether the annexes are authentic. because the Supreme Court is in Manila.
The court also clarified that these matters were to be taken as At this juncture, Atty. Pea was reminded that since he assured the
entirely different and apart from the merits of the main case. authenticity of Annexes B, C and D, he should be willing to accept all the
consequences if it turns out that there are no such copies in the Supreme
Justice Vitug called the attention of respondent to the three Court or if said annexes turn out to be forged. Atty. Pea manifested that
(3) annexes attached to the motion to inhibit, Annexes B, C and he was willing to accept the consequences.
D, questioned how the latter was able to secure copies of such
documents which are confidential to the Court and for the sole use of the
Office of the Clerk of Court, First Division and the Justices concerned.
When further asked by the Court whether he had seen the original and received by his office. He explained that his staff merely copied the
that made him conclude that those photocopies are authentic, he replied in parties in the resolution of February 13, 2002 when the motion for
the negative, but he believed that they are official documents of the clarification was prepared. Hence, the respondent was inadvertently not sent
Court inasmuch as he also received a copy of another resolution a copy.
issued by the Court when the same was faxed to him by Atty. Singson,
counsel for petitioner. Atty. Singson further denied the allegations made in paragraphs 3
and 4 of the motion to inhibit, reasoning that all he said was about the
Atty. Pea expressed his disappointment upon receiving the suspension of the redemption period which was the subject of the motion for
resolution because he was not even furnished with a copy of petitioners clarification. Atty. Singson branded as false the allegation of Atty. Pea that
motion for clarification, which was resolved. He found out that his copy was he, Atty. Singson, resorted to bribery in order that the suspension of the
addressed to Abello Concepcion Regala and Cruz Law Offices, which was redemption period would be granted.
never respondents counsel and was in fact the counsel of some of the
petitioners. On questions by the Chief Justice, Atty. Pea admitted that he
was only joking to Atty. Singson when on the cellular phone he
He also expressed misgivings on the fact that the motion for intimated that Justice Carpio could have been bribed because he has a
clarification was acted upon even without comment from him, and he new Mercedes Benz. When pressed many times to answer categorically
admitted that under said circumstances, he made imputation of bribery whether Atty. Singson told him that Justice Carpio was bribed, Atty.
as a joke. Pea could not make any candid or forthright answer. He was evasive.

As to the statement of the Chief Justice making it of record that After further deliberation whereby Atty. Pea consistently replied that
Justice Carpio and Justice Azcuna denied that Annex B is their copy of pp. his only source of the documents in the annexes is the regular mail, the
61 and 62 of the agenda, Justice Carpio also said that per verification, Annex Court Resolved to require Atty. Magdaleno Pea within fifteen (15) days from
B is not Justice Santiagos copy. Thus, Justice Carpio added that Annex B today to SHOW CAUSE why he should not be held in contempt and be
does not belong to any of the Justices of the First Division. It was also subjected to disciplinary action as a lawyer if he will not be able to
pointed out that each of the Justices have their respective copies of the satisfactorily explain to Court why he made gratuitous allegations and
agenda and make their own notations thereon. The official actions of imputations against the Court and some of its members that tend to
the Court are contained in the duly approved minutes and resolutions cast doubt or aspersion on their integrity.
of the Court.
Atty. Manuel Singson was also required to submit within fifteen (15)
Meanwhile, Justice Vitug called the attention of both Atty. Pea and days from today his response to the allegations of Atty. Pea, particularly
Atty. Singson to paragraphs 3 and 4 of respondents Urgent Motion to Inhibit those in paragraphs 3, 4 and 6 of respondents motion to inhibit.
and to Resolve Respondents Urgent Omnibus Motion, which contain the
following allegations: (Atty. Singson) very excitedly bragged that they had The Court excused Attys. Pea and Singson from the executive
been able to secure an order from this Honorable Court suspending the session at 11:35 a.m. and resumed its regular session on the agenda.
redemption period and the consolidation of ownership over the Urban Bank
properties sold during the execution sale. Private respondent was aghast In connection with the pleadings filed in these cases, the Court
because by then, more than two weeks had lapsed since the redemption Resolves to GRANT the motion by counsel for petitioner praying that
period on the various properties had expired. In an effort to hide his intervenor-movant Unimega Properties Holdings Corp. be directed to furnish
discomfort, respondent (Atty. Pea) teased Atty. Singson about bribing aforesaid counsel with a copy of the motion for reconsideration and
the ponente to get such an order. Much to his surprise, Atty. Singson did not intervention and that they be granted an additional period of ten (10) days
even bother to deny and in fact explained that they obviously had to exert within which to file comment thereon and require said intervenor-movant
extra effort because they could not afford to lose the properties involved. to SUBMIT proof of such service within five (5) days from notice.

For his part, Atty. Singson admitted that he faxed a copy of the The manifestation and comment of petitioners in G.R. No. 145882,
resolution dated November 13, 2002 to Atty. Pea and expressed his belief Benjamin de Leon, et al., on the motion for reconsideration with intervention
that there was nothing wrong with it, as the resolution was officially released by Unimega Property Holdings Corp. is NOTED. (Emphasis supplied)
Atty. Pea duly submitted his Compliance with the Courts Order, where he stated detailed list of the incidents deliberated by this Honorable Court on 13
that:[7] November 2002. Definitely, not just anyone could have access to such
information. Moreover, respondent subsequently received another mail
PRIVATE RESPONDENT MAGDALENO M. PEA, pro from apparently the same sender, this time containing a pink copy of this
se, respectfully submits the following explanation in compliance with the Honorable Courts 4 September 2002 Resolution (Annex D, Urgent Motion
Resolution of this Honorable Court dated 3 March 2003: to Inhibit) transferring this case from the Third Division to the First
Division. The receipt of this last document somehow confirmed to
1. This Honorable Court in its 3 March 2003 Resolution respondent that whoever sent him the copies of the Supplemental
required respondent to show cause why he should not be held in contempt Agenda really had access to the records of this Honorable Court.
and be subjected to disciplinary action as a result of the allegations he made
in his Urgent Motion to Inhibit and to Resolve Respondents Urgent Omnibus 7. Respondent wishes to reiterate that the main basis of
Motion dated 30 January 2003. As this Honorable Court stated during the 3 his motion to inhibit was the information relayed to him by Atty. Singson
March 2003 hearing, the members of the Court were perturbed by some during their telephone conversation on 19 November 2002. As stated in
statements respondent made in the motion. respondents Urgent Motion to Inhibit, while Atty. Singson did not
categorically claim that they had bribed the ponente to secure the 13
2. At the outset, respondent wishes to apologize for the November 2002 resolution, however, he made no denial when
distress his statements may have caused the members of this Honorable respondent, in order to obtain information, half-seriously remarked that
Court. While such distress may have been the unavoidable consequence of this was the reason why the ponente had a brand new car. Atty. Singson
his motion to inhibit the ponente, it was certainly not his intended result. retorted that obviously, they had to take extra-ordinary measures to prevent
the consolidation of ownership of the properties sold as the bank may again
3. In the course of the discussion during the 3 March 2003 close down. Indeed, one would normally be indignant upon being accused of
hearing, it appeared that this Honorable Court was most concerned with how bribery but Atty. Singson even chuckled and instead justified their extra-
respondent was able to secure Annexes B and C of his motion (referring ordinary efforts.
to the two copies of the Supplemental Agenda of the First Division for 13
November 2002) and why respondent used those documents as basis for his 8. Respondent very well knew that mere suspicion was
Urgent Motion to Inhibit. not enough. An implied admission of bribery on the part of Atty. Singson,
sans evidence, may not have been sufficient basis for a motion to
4. Respondent had explained that he received the two inhibit. However, respondent did not have to look far for evidence. Atty.
annexes by ordinary mail at his residence in Brgy. Ubay, Pulupandan, Negros Singson in not denying the allegation of bribery is considered an admission
Occidental sometime during the second week of January. The sender of the by silence, under Section 32 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. Further, Atty.
document was unknown to respondent because there was no return Singson faxed to him the advance copy of the 13 November 2002
address. Despite efforts to locate the envelope in which these documents Resolution. To respondent, that was solid evidence and in fact to this day,
came, he was unable to do so. Atty. Singson fails to explain exactly when, from whom, and how he was able
to secure said advance copy. The records of this Honorable Court disclosed
5. Respondent has no record keeper or secretary at his that Atty. Singsons official copy of the 13 November 2002 Resolution was
residence. Since he is often in Manila on business, it is usually the sent to him by registered mail only on 20 November 2002 (a copy of the daily
househelp who gets to receive the mail. While he had given instructions to mailing report is hereto attached as Annex A). Why then was he able to fax
be very careful in the handling of documents which arrive by registered a copy to respondent on 19 November 2002 or a day before the resolution
mail, the envelopes for Annexes A and B may have been misplaced was released for mailing?
or disposed by the househelp because it did not bear the stamp
registered mail. 9. Despite all these, respondent hesitated to file a motion
to inhibit. He only finally decided to proceed when he received the copies of
6. When respondent read the documents, he had the Supplemental Agenda. To emphasize, the Supplemental Agenda merely
absolutely no reason to doubt their authenticity. For why would anyone confirmed what Atty. Singson had earlier told him. Contrary to the apparent
bother or go to the extent of manufacturing documents for the benefit of impression of this Honorable Court, respondents motion is not primarily
someone who does not even know him? The documents contained a anchored on anonymously received documents but on the word of
petitioners counsel himself. The copies of the Supplemental Agenda are the actions of Atty. Pea.[11] The Courts Resolution dated 28 April 2003 in the consolidated
merely corroborative (albeit extremely convincing) evidence. petitions, which is the subject matter of this separate administrative case, reads:

10. Indeed, any conscientious lawyer who comes into On January 30, 2003, respondent Magdaleno M. Pea filed an Urgent
possession of the information relayed by Atty. Singson and the copies of the Motion to Inhibit the ponente of the instant case. Respondent Pea attached
Supplemental Agenda would bring them to the attention of this Honorable to his Urgent Motion Annex B, a copy of pp. 61-62 of the First Divisions
Court. In doing so, respondent was compelled by a sense of duty to inform Agenda of 13 November 2002. Respondent Pea claimed that Annex B
this Honorable Court of any apparent irregularity that has come to his bears the recommended actions, in handwritten notations, of a member of
knowledge. It was not done out of spite but a deep sense of respect. the Court (First Division) on Item No. 175 of the Agenda. Item No. 175(f)
refers to the Urgent Motion for Clarification filed by petitioner on 7 August
11. In all honesty, respondent had been advised by well- 2002. The purported handwritten notation on Annex B for Item No. 175 (f) is
meaning friends to publicize the incident and take legal action against N, or to simply note the motion. However, the Court issued a Resolution on
the parties involved. Instead, respondent decided that a motion to inhibit 13 November 2002 granting the Urgent Motion for Clarification. In his Urgent
before this Honorable Court was the most appropriate channel to ventilate Motion to Inhibit, respondent Pea claimed that the Resolution of 13
his concerns. Respondent is not out to cast aspersions on anybody, most November 2002 was forged because the recommended and approved
especially members of this Honorable Court. He had to file the Urgent Motion action of the Court was to simply note, and not to approve, the Urgent
to Inhibit because he sincerely believed, and still firmly believes, that he Motion for Clarification.
could not get impartial justice if theponente did not recuse himself.
Thus, respondent Pea stated in his Urgent motion to Inhibit:
12. Respondent sincerely regrets that documents
considered confidential by this Honorable Court leaked out and 9. While private respondent was waiting for
assures this Honorable Court that he had absolutely no hand in petitioners to respond to his motion, he received sometime
securing them. Respondent just found himself in a position where he had to last week two documents that confirmed his worst
come out with those documents because his opponent was crude enough to fears. The two documents indicate that this Honorable Court
brag that their extra-ordinary efforts to secure a stay order from a certain had not actually granted petitioners Motion for
ponente had bore fruit. Respondent has devoted at least seven years of his Clarification. They indicate that the supposed 13 November
life to this cause. He almost lost his life and was nearly driven to penury 2002 Resolution of this Honorable Court which Atty. Singson
fighting this battle. Certainly, he cannot be expected to simply raise his hands had bragged about WAS A FALSIFIED DOCUMENT!
in surrender.
10. What private respondent anonymously received
13. At this point, respondent is just relieved that it was were two copies of the official Agenda of the First Division of
confirmed during the 3 March 2003 hearing that Annex C of his Urgent this Honorable Court for 13 November 2002, the date when
Motion to Inhibit is a faithful reproduction/replica of the relevant portions of the questioned Resolution was supposedly issued. In both
the Supplemental Agenda (TSN dated 3 March 2003, pp. 72-73 and 81) on copies (apparently secured from the office of two different
record with the first Division. With this, respondent rests his members of the Division, one of which is the copy of the
case. [8] (Emphasis supplied) ponente himself), it is clearly indicated that the members of
the Division had agreed that petitioners Motion for
Clarification and Urgent Motion to Resolve were
merely NOTED and NOT GRANTED contrary to what was
On the other hand, Atty. Singson, as part of his Compliance and Affidavit dated 28 stated in the 13 November 2002 Resolution. This makes the
July 2003,[9] categorically denied having bragged to Atty. Pea and that he did not employ 13 November 2002 Resolution (at least the version that was
extra efforts to obtain a favorable suspension order from the Court. [10] released to the parties) a falsified document because it
makes it appear that a Resolution was issued by the First
Division granting petitioners Motion for Clarification when in
After considering and evaluating the submissions made by the two lawyers, the Court fact no such Resolution exists. The real Resolution arrived at
ordered that a formal investigation be undertaken by the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) on by the First Division which can be gleaned from the Agenda
merely NOTED said motion. Copies of the two Agenda are
hereto attached as Annexes B and C. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court hereby DIRECTS the
Office of the Bar Confidant to conduct a formal investigation of
11. At this point, private respondent could not help but respondent Atty. Magdaleno M. Pea for submitting to the Court a
conclude that this anomaly was confirmatory of what Atty. falsified document, Annex B, allegedly forming part of the
Singson was bragging about. The clear and undeniable fact confidential records of a member of the Court, in support of his Motion
is the Honorable members of this Division agreed that to Inhibit that same member of the Court. The Office of the Bar Confidant
petitioners Motion for Clarification would only be NOTED but is directed to submit its findings, report and recommendation within 90 days
the ponente responsible for the 13 November 2002 from receipt of this Resolution.[12] (Emphasis supplied.)
Resolution misrepresented that the same was GRANTED.

On 3 March 2003, the Court called respondent Pea and Atty. Manuel
Singson, counsel for petitioner Urban Bank, to a hearing to determine, During the proceedings with the OBC, Attys. Pea [13] and Singson[14] duly submitted
among others, the authenticity of the annexes to respondent Peas Urgent their respective Affidavits.
Motion to Inhibit, including Annex B. In the hearing, respondent Pea
affirmed the authenticity of the annexes and even manifested that he was
willing to accept the consequences if the annexes, including Annex B, While the administrative case was still pending, some of the other parties in the
turned out to be forgeries. consolidated petitions specifically, Benjamin L. de Leon, Delfin Gonzalez, Jr., and Eric L.
Lee, (the De Leon Group), the petitioners in G.R. No. 145822 manifested before the Court
In the same hearing, the members of the Court (First Division) other malicious imputations allegedly made by Atty. Pea during the course of the
informed respondent Pea that the handwritten notations on Annex B proceedings in the said petitions. They moved that these be considered as sufficient and
did not belong to any of them. In particular, Justice Carpio, to whom the additional basis to cite him for contempt of court. [15]The Court likewise referred this matter to
case was assigned and the apparent object of respondent Peas Urgent the OBC.[16]
Motion to Inhibit as the ponente responsible for the 13 November 2002
Resolution, stated that his recommended action on Item No. 175(f) was a &
f, see RES, meaning on Items 175(a) and (f), see proposed resolution. In In reply to the accusations leveled against him by the De Leon Group, respondent
short, the handwritten notations on Annex B, purportedly belonging Pea denied having used abrasive, insulting and intemperate language in his pleadings; and
to a member of the Court, were forgeries. For ready reference, attached argued that his statements therein were privileged and could not be used as a basis for
as Annexes 1 and 2 to this Resolution are a copy of pp. 61-62 of Justice liability.[17] He also accused Urban Bank and its directors and officers of violating the rule
Carpios 13 November 2002 Agenda, and a copy of Justice Carpios against forum shopping by dividing themselves into separate groups and filing three Petitions
recommended actions for the entire 13 November 2002 Agenda, (G.R. Nos. 145817, 145818 and 145822) against the same Decision of the Court of Appeals
respectively. with the same causes of actions and prayers for relief.[18]

In the same hearing, the Court directed respondent Pea to show


cause why he should not be held in contempt and subjected to disciplinary The OBC thereafter conducted a hearing, wherein respondent Pea and Atty.
action for submitting the annexes to his Motion to Inhibit. In his Compliance Singson appeared and testified on matters that were the subject of the administrative cases.
[19]
dated 3 April 2003, respondent Pea did not give any explanation as to Several hearings were also held with respect to the additional contempt charges raised by
why he attached B to his Urgent Motion to Inhibit. In fact, in his the De Leon Group. Thereafter, respondent Pea filed his Memorandum. [20]
Compliance, respondent Pea did not mention at all Annex B. Respondent
Pea, however, stated that he just found himself in a position where he had
to come out with those documents because his opponent was crude enough The OBC submitted to the Court its Report on the instant administrative case and
to brag that their extra-ordinary efforts to secure a stay order from a certain made recommendations on the matter (the OBC Report). As a matter of policy, this Court
ponente had bore fruit. In petitioners Opposition to the Urgent Motion to does not quote at length, nor even disclose the dispositive recommendation of the OBC in
Inhibit, Atty. Singson stated that he categorically denied that he had bragged administrative investigations of members of the bar. However, Atty. Pea, despite the fact
to PEA about the Resolution of this Honorable Court dated November 13, that the OBC Report is confidential and internal, has obtained, without authority, a
2002 and that extra efforts have been exerted to obtain the same. copy thereof and has formally claimed that this Court should apply to him the non-penalty of
an admonition against him, as recommended by the OBC. [21]
Furthermore, he has already voiced suspicion that the present ponente of the the Court and his fellow lawyers, but nevertheless recommends that respondent be advised
consolidated petitions[22] from which this separate administrative case arose, Justice Maria to refrain from using unnecessary words or statements in the future. [30]
Lourdes P. A. Sereno, would exclude or suppress material evidence found in the OBC report
from her ponencia in the parent case in alleged gratitude to the alleged help that Justice
Carpio had given her by allegedly recommending her to the Supreme Court. [23] The specific Finally, the OBC desisted from making a finding on the fourth charge of forum-
allegation on the supposed loyalty by one Member of the Court to another, without any shopping leveled by respondent Pea against Urban Bank and the individual bank directors.
extrinsic factual basis to support it, is too undignified to warrant a response in this Decision. In his counter-suit, respondent accused the bank and its directors and officers of having
To allay his fears that Justice Sereno would participate in any undue attempt to suppress violated the rule against forum-shopping by splitting into three distinct groups and filing three
material evidence, the Court shall summarize and quote from the OBC Report the four separate petitions to question the unfavorable decision of the Court of Appeals. [31] However,
charges of professional misconduct in connection with the instant administrative case. since not all the parties to the consolidated petitions participated in the hearings in the instant
case, the OBC recommends that separate proceedings be conducted with respect to this
counter-suit in order to afford Urban Bank and all of the concerned directors and officers,
On the first charge of gratuitous imputations against members of the Court, the OBC including their respective counsel, to defend themselves and present witnesses and/or
found that respondent Pea gave the impression that some anomaly or irregularity was evidence in support of their cause.[32]
committed by the Courts First Division in issuing the questioned 13 November 2002
Resolution. According to respondent, Justice Carpio, the thenponente of the consolidated
petitions, purportedly changed the action of the First Division from simply NOTING the Taking the foregoing in consideration, the OBC submitted the following
motion for clarification filed by Urban Bank to GRANTING it altogether. The OBC opines that recommendations for approval of this Court:
although respondent Pea may appear to have been passionate in the subject Motion to
Inhibit, the language he used is not to be considered as malicious imputations but mere RECOMMENDATIONS:
expressions of concern based on what he discovered from the internal documents of the
Court that he had secured.[24] Moreover, the OBC ruled that respondent did not make a direct
accusation of bribery against Justice Carpio, and the formers remark about the latter having
received a new Mercedes Benz was not made in the presence of the court, but was uttered in
WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing premises, it is respectfully
a private mobile phone conversation between him and Atty. Singson. [25] Respondents
recommended the following:
profound apologies to the Court were also taken cognizance by the OBC, which suggests the
imposition of a simple warning against any such future conduct. [26]

Further, the OBC recommended the dismissal of the second charge that respondent A. On the charge of gratuitous allegations:
supposedly submitted falsified documents to this Court as annexes in the subject Motion to
Inhibit, specifically Annex B which appears to be a photocopy of the agenda of the First
Division on 13 November 2002 with some handwritten notes. [27] It reasoned that the
submission of falsified documents partakes of the nature of a criminal act, where the required 1. To DISMISS the charge on the ground that the statements in his
proof is guilt beyond reasonable doubt, but respondent Pea is not being charged with a Motion to Inhibit, etc., do not constitute malicious imputations as he was merely
criminal offense in the instant case. The OBC noted the statement of the Clerk of Court expressing his concern of what he has discovered based on the documents he has
during the 03 March 2003 Executive Session that Annex B does not exist in the records. [28] obtained. However, let this case serve as his FIRST WARNING, being an officer of
the court, to be more cautious, restraint and circumspect with his dealings in the
future with the Court and its Member.
On the third charge for contempt against respondent filed by the De Leon Group
and Atty. Rogelio Vinluan, their counsel, the OBC likewise suggests the dismissal of the
same. To recall, respondent submitted pleadings in the consolidated petitions where he 2. To ADMONISH respondent for making such non-sense and
allegedly charged Atty. Vinluan of having used his influence over Justice Arturo B. Buena to unfounded joke against Honorable Justice Antonio T. Carpio the latter deserves due
gain a favorable resolution to the benefit of his clients. [29] The OBC suggests that respondent respect and courtesy from no less than the member of the bar. Likewise, Atty.
be acquitted of the charge of using abrasive and disrespectful language against Members of Singson should also be ADVISED to be more cautious in his dealing with his
opposing counsel to avoid misconception of facts.
B. On the charge of falsification: ABELLO CONCEPCION REALA & CRUZ represented by ATTY. ROGELIO A.
VINLUAN, ATTY. STEPHEN GEORGE S. D. AQUINO and ATTY. HAZEL ROSE B.
SEE to comment thereon within ten (10) days from receipt thereof. [33] (Emphasis
1. To DISMISS the charge of submitting falsified documents on supplied)
ground of lack of legal basis. A charge of submitting falsified documents partakes of
the nature of criminal act under Art. 172 of the Revised penal Code, and the quantum
of proof required to hold respondent guilty thereof is proof beyond reasonable doubt. ISSUES
This is to avoid conflicting findings in the criminal case. The administrative
proceedings of the same act must await of the outcome in the criminal case of
falsification of document. In these administrative matters, the salient issues for the Courts consideration are
limited to the following:

C. On the contempt of court filed by private complainant: (a) whether respondent Pea made gratuitous allegations and imputations against
members of the Court;

(b) whether he can be held administratively liable for submitting allegedly falsified
1. To DISMISS the charge considering that the statements cited documents consisting of internal documents of the court;
by Atty. Pea in his pleadings previously filed in related cases, while it may appear to
be offending on the part of the complainant, but the same do not categorically contain (c) whether he can likewise be held administratively liable for the contempt
disrespectful, abusive and abrasive language or intemperate words that may tend to charges leveled against him in the Manifestation and Motion filed by the De Leon Group; and
discredit the name of the complainant. Respondent merely narrated the facts based
of his own knowledge and discoveries which, to him, warranted to be brought to the (d) whether Urban Bank and the individual bank directors and officers are guilty of
attention of the court for its information and consideration. He must be ADVISED forum shopping.
however, to refrain from using unnecessary words and statements which may not be
material in the resolution of the issued raised therein.
OUR RULING

D. On the counter-charge of forum-shopping A. First Charge: Malicious and Groundless


Imputation of Bribery and Wrongdoing
against a Member of the Court.

1. To RE-DOCKET the counter-charge of forum shopping, as


embodied in the Comment dated 22 August 2003 of Atty. Pea, as a separate
We do not adopt the recommendation of the OBC on this charge.
administrative case against the petitioners and counsels in G.R. 145817, G.R. No.
145818 and G.R. No. 145822;
Respondent Pea is administratively liable for making gratuitous imputations of
bribery and wrongdoing against a member of the Court, as seen in the text of the subject
2. To FURNISH the petitioners and their counsel a copy of the Motion to Inhibit, his statements during the 03 March 2003 Executive Session, and his
said comment dated 22 August 2003 for their information. unrelenting obstinacy in hurling effectively the same imputations in his subsequent pleadings.
In moving for the inhibition of a Member of the Court in the manner he adopted, respondent
Pea, as a lawyer, contravened the ethical standards of the legal profession.

3. To REQUIRE the petitioners and their counsel, SINGSON


VALDEZ & ASSOCIATES, represented by ATTY. MANUEL R. SINGSON, ANGARA
As officers of the court, lawyers are duty-bound to observe and maintain the respect
due to the courts and judicial officers.[34] They are to abstain from offensive or menacing CHIEF JUSTICE:
language or behavior before the court [35] and must refrain from attributing to a judge motives
that are not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case. [36] He said to you that?

ATTY. SINGSON:
While lawyers are entitled to present their case with vigor and courage, such
enthusiasm does not justify the use of foul and abusive language. [37] Language abounds with Yes, that was what he was referring to when he said about bribery.
countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory,
illuminating but not offensive.[38] A lawyers language should be forceful but dignified, xxx xxx xxx
emphatic but respectful as befitting an advocate and in keeping with the dignity of the legal
profession.[39] ATTY. PEA:

First of all I would like to everything that he said, he told me that he


In the subject Motion for Inhibition, respondent Pea insinuated that the got, they got a stay order, it is a stay order from the Supreme Court
then ponente of the case had been bribed by Atty. Singson, counsel of Urban Bank in the through Justice Carpio and then I gave that joke. That was just a joke
consolidated petitions, in light of the questioned 13 November 2002 Resolution, suspending really. He got a new Me[r]cedez [sic] Benz, you see, he was the one who
the period of redemption of the levied properties pending appeal. The subject Motion to Inhibit told me they got a stay order from the Supreme Court through Justice
reads in part: Carpio, that was what happened

CHIEF JUSTICE:
4. Private respondent [Pea] composed himself and tried to
recall if there was any pending incident with this Honorable Court regarding You mean you made a joke?
the suspension of the redemption period but he could not remember any. In
an effort to hide his discomfort, respondent teased Atty. Singson about ATTY. PEA:
bribing the ponente to get such an order. Much to his surprise, Atty.
Singson did not even bother to deny and in fact explained that they obviously You Honor?
had to exert extra effort because they could not afford to lose the properties
involved (consisting mainly of almost all the units in the Urban Bank Plaza in CHIEF JUSTICE;
Makati City) as it might cause the bank (now Export Industry Bank) to close
down.[40] (Emphasis supplied.) You made a joke after he told you supposedly that he got
(interrupted)

During the 03 March 2003 Executive Session by the First Division of this Court, ATTY. PEA:
respondent Pea explained that his reference to the bribe was merely a joke in the course
of a telephone conversation between lawyers: He got a stay order from Justice Carpio.

CHIEF JUSTICE DAVIDE: CHIEF JUSTICE:

Regarding that allegation made by Atty. Pea on [sic] when you made And you say that is the reason why he got a new Mercedez [sic]
mention earlier of him saying about Justice Carpio? Benz, you made it as a joke?

ATTY. SINGSON: ATTY. PEA:

Yes, Your Honor, he said kaya pala may bagong Mercedez [sic] si Your Honor, that is a joke between lawyers.
Carpio, eh.
CHIEF JUSTICE; basis or evidence on record, and hence was done so with partiality. A mere adverse ruling of
the court is not adequate to immediately justify the imputation of such bias or prejudice as to
That is correct, you are making it as a joke? warrant inhibition of a Member of this Court, absent any verifiable proof of specific
misconduct. Suspicions or insinuations of bribery involving a member of this Court, in
ATTY. PEA: exchange for a favorable resolution, are grave accusations. They cannot be treated lightly or
be jokingly alleged by parties, much less by counsel in pleadings or motions. These
Your Honor, I think, because how they got (interrupted) suspicions or insinuations strike not only at the stature or reputation of the individual
members of the Court, but at the integrity of its decisions as well. [45]
CHIEF JUSTICE:

If it were a joke why did you allege in your motion that it was Respondent Pea attempts to draw a connection and direct correlation between
Atty. Singson who said that Justice Carpio was bribed or the ponente Urban Banks failure to furnish him a copy of its Motion for Clarification, purportedly denying
was bribed, is that also another joke?[41] (Emphasis supplied.) him an opportunity to refute the allegations therein, and the supposedly corrupt means by
which the unfavorable Resolution was thereby obtained. This is completely untenable and
irresponsible. Had he simply confined the issue to an alleged deprivation of due process, then
there would hardly be any controversy regarding his conduct as a lawyer and an officer of the
Respondent Pea insinuated ill motives to the then ponente of the consolidated
Court. The purported lack of notice of the Motion for Clarification filed the bank in the
petitions with respect to the issuance of the 13 November 2003 Resolution. To respondents
consolidated petitions could have been raised as a valid concern for judicial resolution.
mind and based on his interpretation of the two copies of the Agenda which he anonymously
Instead, respondent Pea insinuates ill motives on the part of Members of the Court imputing
received, the First Division agreed only to simply note Urban Banks Motion for Clarification.
the failure of a private party to give him due notice to be, in effect, a failure of the Court. This
Nevertheless, the questioned Resolution, which Atty. Singson sent to him by facsimile, had
merits the exercise of the Courts disciplinary powers over him as a member of the Bar. To
instead granted the Motion. Hence, respondent Pea attributed the modification of the action
allege that bribery has been committed by members of the judiciary, a complainant
of the First Division to simply note the Motion, one apparently unfavorable to respondent
especially, a lawyer must go beyond mere suspicions, speculations, insinuations or even
Pea, to Justice Carpio, who had supposedly received a Mercedes Benz for the supposedly
the plain silence of an opposing counsel.
altered resolution.

Based on the two lawyers disclosures during the 03 March 2003 Executive Session,
However, as pointed out by the Court in the Resolution dated 03 March 2003,
respondent Pea appears to have been caught by surprise by his telephone conversation
each Justice has his own respective copy of the Agenda, where he can make his own
with Atty. Singson, who informed him of the suspension of the redemption period by the Court
handwritten notations on the action for each item and case, but [t]he official actions of the
and its issuance of a Stay Order over the execution pending appeal. The astonishment of
Court are contained in the duly approved minutes and resolutions of the Court. [42] Hence,
respondent would seem natural, since he was caught unawares of Urban Banks Motion for
contrary to the insinuations made by respondent Pea, Justice Carpio had not altered the
Clarification, which was the subject matter of the 13 November 2002 Resolution. His
action of the First Division in granting Urban Banks Motion for Clarification in the
supposed joke, which he himself initiated and made without provocation, was disdainful all
consolidated petitions, as in fact, this was the approved resolution agreed upon by the
the same, as it suggested that the bank had obtained the Order from this Court in exchange
Justices then present. The ponenteof the case had not recommended that the Motion for
for an expensive luxury automobile.
Clarification be simply noted, but in fact, had referred to a separate resolution, i.e., a) & f)
See RES., disposing of the said item (F) including item (A), which is the Motion to Inhibit
Associate Justice Artemio Panganiban. In addition to the official minutes of the 13 November
Atty. Pea cannot be excused for uttering snide and accusatory remarks at the
2002 Session,[43] Justice Carpio submitted for the record his written recommendation on the
expense of the reputation and integrity of members of this Court, and for using those
agenda item involving the consolidated petitions, to prove that this was his recommendation,
unsubstantiated claims as basis for the subject Motion for Inhibition. Instead of investigating
and the minutes confirm the approval of this recommendation. [44]
the veracity of Atty. Singsons revelations, respondent read too much into the declarations
and the purported silence of opposing counsel towards his joke. Respondent made
unfounded imputations of impropriety to a specific Member of the Court. Such conduct does
The Court, through a unanimous action of the then Members of the First Division, had
not befit a member of the legal profession and falls utterly short of giving respect to the Court
indeed adopted the recommended and proposed resolution of Justice Carpio, as the
and upholding its dignity.
then ponente, and granted the Motion for Clarification filed by Urban Bank. It is completely
wrong for respondent Pea to claim that the action had been issued without any sufficient
Respondent Peas defense that the allegation of bribery and collusion between Honorable Hilario Davide and the Honorable Justice Vitug with regard to his
Justice Carpio, Atty. Singson and the petitioners was a joke fails to convince, as in fact, he copy of the Suppl [sic] Agenda 1 st Division of this Honorable Court which
was deadly serious about the charges he raised. Respondent insisted that his alleged was sent to respondent Pea was correct and that the Motion for Clarification
insinuation of ill motives was just a joke between two lawyers engaged in a private was merely N or NOTED. However, the Honorable Justice Carpio issued
telephone conversation regarding the case. Although the courts and judicial officers are a Resolution Granting the Motion for Clarification.
entitled to due respect, they are not immune to criticisms nor are they beyond the subject
matter of free speech, especially in the context of a private conversation between two Therefore, the Honorable Justice Carpio issued the 13 November
individuals. In this case, though, respondent himself was responsible for moving the private 2002 Resolution in an anomalous/falsified manner and in clear
matter into the realm of public knowledge by citing that same joke in his own Motion for contravention of this Honorable Courts Decision to merely Note the
Inhibition filed before this Court. In general, courts will not act as overly sensitive censors of same. A clear judicial administrative violation.[48] (Emphasis supplied.)
all private conversations of lawyers at all times, just to ensure obedience to the duty to afford
proper respect and deference to the former. Nevertheless, this Court will not shy away from
exercising its disciplinary powers whenever persons who impute bribery to judicial officers
and bring such imputations themselves to the courts attention through their own pleadings or Clearly, the bribery joke which respondent himself initiated has gotten the better of
motions. him. Respondent has convinced himself of the veracity of his own malicious insinuations by
his own repetitious allegations in his subsequent pleadings.

Contrary to his assertion that the accusation of bribery was only made in jest,
respondent has never backed down since he first made the accusation in January 2003 The Court in the past refrained from imposing actual penalties in administrative cases
and continually raises as an issue in the consolidated petitions how Justice Carpio in the presence of mitigating factors, such as the acknowledgment of the infraction and the
purportedly changed the agreed action of the First Division when he issued the feeling of remorse.[49] In this case, the profound apologies [50] offered by respondent Pea for
questioned 13 November 2002 Resolution, even after the Court in the 03 March 2003 his insinuations against Justice Carpio are insincere and hypocritical, as seen by his later
Executive Session had precisely explained to him that no impropriety had attended the actions. Although he expressed remorse for having caused the Court distress because of his
issuance of the said Resolution. In the Motions to Inhibit dated 21 January 2010 [46] and 22 statements,[51] he refuses to acknowledge any unethical conduct on his part for his unfounded
August 2011,[47] he repeatedly insists on the anomalous/unusual circumstances surrounding accusations against the actions of Justice Carpio with respect to the questioned 13
the issuance by Justice Carpio of the same questioned Resolution, which was allegedly November 2002 Resolution. Worse, he has persisted in attributing ill-motives against Justice
contrary to the handwritten notes made in the copies of the Agenda that he received. Carpio, even after the latter had recused himself from the case since 2003.
Respondent Pea most recently capitalized on the purported alteration or falsification
supposedly committed by Justice Carpio by filing an ethics complaint against the latter, where
he alleged that: This is not the first time that respondent resorted to initiating unfounded and
vicious attacks against the integrity and impartiality of Members of this Court. Earlier in
Sometime thereafter, respondent Pea received a copy of the Suppl the proceedings of the consolidated petitions, respondent assailed how retired Justice
[sic] Agenda 1st Division of this Honorable Court with a notation in Arturo B. Buena showed bias in favor of the De Leon Group, when the latters petition in
handwriting 10AC on the left side and marginal notes on the right side. A G.R. No. 145822 was reinstated on a second motion for reconsideration: [52]
perusal thereof, reveals that when this Honorable Court took up the matter of
the Motion for Clarification of petitioner Urban Bank, this Honorable Court It has come to the attention and knowledge of herein respondent that
merely N or Noted the Motion for Clarification of petitioner Urban Bank petitioners counsel has been making statement to the effect that they could
and did not grant the same. get a favorable resolution from the Supreme Court, on their second
motion for reconsideration. In short, petitioners counsel is practically
xxx xxx xxx saying that they are sure to get the Supreme Court to entertain the second
motion for reconsideration even if it violates the rules. [53]
Considering the foregoing (I was not furnished a copy of the Motion
for Clarification, or required to comment by the Honorable Justice Carpio and 1. The motion for voluntary inhibition is directed at Justice
opposing counsel, Atty. Singson, being able to secure an advance copy of Buena because it was he who penned the challenged Resolution, which
the assailed 13 November 2002 Resolution), the matter brought out in the granted the second motion for reconsideration in violation of the Rules. It was
Executive Session and the admission made by Atty. Enriqueta Vidal and the he who crafted, drafted and finalized the said Resolution. It was he who tried
to justify the violation of the Rules. It was from Justice Buenas office that
contents of the challenged Resolution was apparently leaked to the purpose of giving his friends a legal basis in questioning the issuance
petitioners counsel long before its promulgation.[54] of the warrants of arrest against Borlongan and the rest of his co-
accused in Criminal Case Nos. 6683 to 6686, MTC Bago City (now
What miracle did Atty. Vinluan perform and what phenomenon appealed to Supreme Court; see Footnote No. 1 below).[59](Emphasis
transpired? Why are herein petitioners very special in the eyes of supplied.)
Justice Buena?[55]

It is quite obvious that the partiality of Justice Buena has been


affected by his relationship with Atty. Vinluan, as evidenced by the Lastly, respondent Pea raised the issue of unmitigated partiality against retired
above-described facts and circumstances.[56] Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura on the ground that the latter resolved a separate case
involving related issues to the main petitions in favor of the opposing parties:
Surprisingly, Justice Arturo B. Buena, the assigned ponente,
reinstated the petition without any explanation whatsoever, and in
gross violation of Sec. 4, Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. 3. The Petitioners in G. R. No. 143591, entitled Teodoro C.
This was highly irregular by itself. But what made reinstatement more Borlongan, et al., v. Magdaleno M. Pea, et al, are also the same petitioners
suspicious was the fact that even before the release of the Resolution in the above-entitled consolidated cases G. R. Nos. 145817 and 145822; and
reinstating the petition in G. R. No. 145822, the counsel for petitioners, Atty. the respondents in the above-entitled consolidated case G. R. No.
Rogelio Vinluan, was already boasting that he would be able to reinstate their 162562. Under the circumstances, herein private respondent is
petition. Obviously, even before the release of the Resolution in question, ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the extreme bias and prejudice of Justice
Atty. Vinluan already knew what Justice Buenas resolution would be. Nachura against him in G. R. No. 143591 would certainly be carried over
[57]
(Emphasis supplied.) to the above-entitled consolidated cases.[60] (Emphasis supplied.)

Not only has respondent Pea failed to show sincere remorse for his malicious
In no less than six motions, [58] he similarly accused former Chief Justice Artemio V. insinuations of bribery and wrongdoing against Justice Carpio, he in fact continually availed of
Panganiban of prejudice based on his affiliation with the Rotary Club, wherein some of the such unethical tactics in moving for the inhibition of eleven Justices of the Court. [61] Indeed,
directors and officers of Urban Bank were also members. He even claimed that Justice his pattern of behavior can no longer be seen as isolated incidents that the Court can pardon
Panganiban went to Urban Bank to meet with some of the directors and officers, who given certain mitigating circumstances. Respondent Pea has blatantly and consistently cast
consulted him on the legal issues arising from criminal suits in relation to the facts of the main unfounded aspersions against judicial officers in utter disregard of his duties and
petitions, citing only an unnamed reliable source: responsibilities to the Court.

The friendship and close relationship of the three (Justice In Estrada v. Sandiganbayan,[62] the Court chose to indefinitely suspend Atty. Alan
Panganiban and Urban Banks Arsenio Archit Bartolome and Teodoro Ted Paguia, when the latter imputed devious motives and questioned the impartiality of members
Borlongan) went beyond their being Rotarians. As a matter of fact, Justice of the Court, despite its earlier warnings:
Panganiban was seen a couple of times going to Urban Bank to see Archit
and/or Ted, before the banks closure. Respondent has also discovered, The Supreme Court does not claim infallibility; it will not denounce
through a reliable source, that Justice Panganiban was known to have criticism made by anyone against the Court for, if well-founded, can truly
been consulted, and his legal advice sought, by Borlongan and have constructive effects in the task of the Court, but it will not countenance
Bartolome, in connection with the above-entitled cases, while the same any wrongdoing nor allow the erosion of our peoples faith in the judicial
was still pending with the Court of Appeals and in connection with the four (4) system, let alone, by those who have been privileged by it to practice law in
criminal cases filed the with the MTC [Municipal Trial Court] at Bago City by the Philippines.
herein respondent against Borlongan, et al., for introducing falsified
documents in a judicial proceeding. In the latter cases, it was even Justice Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that
Panganiban who furnished a copy of the SC Decision in Doris Ho vs. the lawyer should observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and
People (his own ponencia) to Bartolome and Borlongan, for the judicial officers and, indeed, should insist on similar conduct by others. In
liberally imputing sinister and devious motives and questioning the a Resolution was issued by the First Division granting petitioners Motion for
impartiality, integrity, and authority of the members of the Court, Atty. Paguia Clarification when in fact no such Resolution exists. The real Resolution
has only succeeded in seeking to impede, obstruct and pervert the arrived at by the First Division which can be gleaned from the Agenda merely
dispensation of justice. NOTED said motion. Copies of the two Agenda are hereto attached as
Annexes B and C.[65] (Emphasis supplied.)

Respondent Peas actions betray a similar disrespectful attitude towards the Court
that cannot be countenanced especially for those privileged enough to practice law in the During the 03 March 2003 Executive Session, respondent Pea expressed his
country. To be sure, Atty. Paguia has just been recently reinstated to the practice of law after absolute conviction that the document attached as Annex B was an exact copy of the
showing sincere remorse and having renewed his belief and respect for the Court, almost Agenda of the then ponente of the case.[66] It was later discovered, however, that no such
eight years from the time the penalty was imposed. Thus, the Court orders respondent Pea copy existed, either in the latters records or in those of any other member of the Division
be indefinitely suspended from the practice of law for his apparently irredeemable habit of concerned:
repeatedly imputing unfounded motives and partiality against members of the Court.
CHIEF JUSTICE:

B. Second Charge: Submission of Falsified We make of record again that insofar as Annex B is concerned it
Internal Court Documents. was confirmed by the Office of the Clerk of Court of this Division that
the original of that does not appear in the record, is not in the record
We likewise reject the recommendation of the OBC with respect to the second and that nobody, none of the members of the division has a copy of,
charge. that copy of Annex B of your pleading does not come from anyone of
the members of the division. That is the position of the Court now as
It must be noted that the Court, in its Resolutions dated 03 March 2003 and 28 April explained earlier. Specifically Mr. Justice Carpio said that Annex B,
2003, expressed administrative concern over Atty. Peas behavior on three points: (1) his specifically with that capital A. capital C preceded by 10 did not come from
submission of a falsified court document, (2) his access to Supreme Court documents that his office, was not based on the document in his office and that is also true to
are highly restricted and confidential, and (3) his use of court documents (genuine or false) in each of the members of this Division.[67] (Emphasis supplied.)
his pleadings.

Respondent Pea submitted a falsified internal court document, Annex B, had The falsification, subject of the instant administrative case, lies in the fact that
illegal access to confidential court documents, and made improper use of them in the respondent Pea submitted to the Court a document he was absolutely certain, at the time of
proceedings before this Court. The Court directed the initial investigation by the OBC based such submission, was a copy of the Agenda of the then ponente. In supporting the subject
on the charge that respondent Pea had submitted a falsified document to this Court. [63] The Motion to Inhibit, respondent misled the Court by presenting a document that was not what he
charge of falsification stems from his submission of an alleged copy of the Courts claimed it to be. Contrary to the assurances made in the same motion [68] he made allegations
Agenda[64] (Annex B) purportedly belonging to a member of the Division handling the case. that were false and submitted documents that were not borne out by the records of this case.
The pertinent portion of the subject Motion to Inhibit reads: Instead of verifying the contents of Annex B, which came to him through dubious means, he
unquestioningly accepted their genuineness and veracity. Despite the Courts own
explanation that Annex B does not exist, he continues to insist on its existence.
10. What private respondent anonymously received were two
copies of the Official Agenda of the First Division of this Honorable Court for
13 November 2002, the date when the questioned Resolution was Candor and truthfulness are some of the qualities exacted and expected from
supposedly issued. In both copies (apparently secured from the office of members of the legal profession.[69] Thus, lawyers shall commit no falsehood, nor shall they
two different members of the Division, one of which is the copy of the mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice. [70] As disciples of truth, their lofty
ponente himself), it is clearly indicated that the members of the Division had vocation is to correctly inform the court of the law and the facts of the case and to aid it in
allegedly agreed that petitioners Motion for Clarification and Urgent Motion to doing justice and arriving at correct conclusions. [71] Courts are entitled to expect only
Resolve were merely NOTED and NOT GRANTED contrary to what was complete honesty from lawyers appearing and pleading before them. [72] In the instant case,
stated in the 13 November 2002 Resolution (at least the version that was the submission of a document purporting to be a copy of the Agenda of a member of this
released to the parties) a falsified document because it makes it appear that
Court is an act of dishonesty that puts into doubt the ability of respondent to uphold his duty printed contents with those of Annex C (which is in the records). The handwritten notes are
as a disciple of truth. markedly different and, according to him, made by two different members of the Court. In his
Motion to Inhibit, respondent failed to substantiate his assertion that Annex B and the notes
made therein belonged to any member of this Court.
Respondent Pea would argue, however, that falsification as a criminal act under
the Revised Penal Code was not judicially established during the proceedings of the OBC
investigation and, thus, he cannot be held liable for falsification. The comparison of the More importantly, the Court notes that respondent Pea has not explained, to the
present administrative and disciplinary proceedings with a criminal charge of falsification is Courts satisfaction, how he managed to obtain internal and confidential documents.
misplaced.

Respondent Pea would have the Court believe that he happened to obtain the two
The subject matter of administrative proceedings is confined to whether there is copies of the Agenda (Annexes B and C) and the internal Resolution (Annex D) in two
administrative liability for the submission of a falsified document namely Annex B, which separate envelopes anonymously sent via ordinary mail. He supposedly received them
respondent Pea claims (albeit mistakenly) to be a genuine copy of the Agenda of sometime during the second or the third week of January 2002 in his home-cum-office in
the ponente. The issue, then, is whether he transgressed the ethical standards demanded of Pulupandan, Negros Occidental.[74] He, however, failed to present the envelopes containing
lawyers, by which they should be truthful in their dealings with and submissions to the Court. the documents, but explained that these may have already been thrown away, since he had
The investigation clearly does not include the determination of criminal liability, which no system of recording incoming communications in his home/office in the province. The
demands a different modicum of proof with respect to the use of falsified documents. At this Court is not persuaded by his account of the receipt of these restricted court documents.
time, the Court makes no definitive pronouncement as to the guilt of respondent over his
violation of the provisions of the Revised Penal Code regarding the use of falsified
documents. The Agenda, the Courts action thereon, as well as the Resolution (Annex D), are
internal documents that are accessible only to court officers, [75] who are bound by strict
confidentiality. For respondent Pea to have been able to secure originals or photocopies of
In brief, respondent led this Court to believe that what he submitted was a faithful the Courts Agenda is disturbing because that ability implies a breach of the rules of strict
reproduction of the ponentes Agenda, just to support the subject Motion to Inhibit. The confidentiality in the Court. Notably, the Agenda purportedly sent to him did not contain all the
original of the purported copy was later found to have been inexistent in the courts records. items for deliberation by the Courts First Division for that day; the copies sent were limited to
Regardless of whether or not Annex B was criminally falsified or forged is immaterial to the the incidents pertaining to his pending case. This circumstance can hardly be considered as
present disposition. What is now crucial is whether respondent was candid and truthful in random, since the exact item (Item No. 175) of concern for him specifically, the Courts
claiming absolute certainty with respect to the genuineness and authenticity of his action on Urban Banks Motion for Clarification was what had been sent directly to his
submissions. provincial home/office, and what he conveniently acquired thereby.

The assertion of respondent Pea that the typewritten contents of Annexes B and The Court finds it hard to believe that confidential court records just coincidentally
C appear to be genuine and accurate is unconvincing and cannot exonerate him from and anonymously appeared in the provincial home/office of respondent Pea through
liability. Although Annex C was determined to be in the Courts records, [73] the bare similarity ordinary mail. Also incredible is his explanation that the envelopes that contained the
of its typewritten contents with those of Annex B will not shield him from disciplinary action. documents, and that could have led to the identification of their source were opportunely
Although the typewritten contents of the two Agendas appear identical, the handwritten misplaced or thrown away, despite the grave importance he had ascribed to them. It is highly
notes located at the right-hand side are different. Respondent, in fact, claims that the improbable that a personnel of the Court would breach the rules of strict confidentiality [76] to
handwritten notes come from two different members of the Division, one of them the send to litigants or their counsel the Courts Agenda, together with handwritten notes and the
then ponente of the case. internal resolutions of the Court, without any prodding or consideration, and even at the risk
of incurring grave criminal and administrative penalties. [77] Respondent Peas account of
having lost the envelopes appears too convenient an excuse to assuage the Courts
The subject Motion to Inhibit is anchored on the veracity of the handwritten remarks skepticism towards this breach of confidentiality within its own halls.
not on the printed contents which are allegedly contrary to the substance of the Courts 13
November 2002 Resolution faxed to him by Atty. Singson. Respondent Pea cannot claim the
genuineness of Annex B (which is not in the records), based on the apparent identity of its
Worse, respondent Pea flaunted his continued access as recent as 2010 This claimed major anomaly of the transfer of the case, which is being decried by
to other internal and confidential records in the proceedings of this case. Despite the respondent in the subject Motion to Inhibit, stems from his gross misunderstanding of the
administrative proceedings leveled against him for having illicitly obtained the confidential internal rules of the Court.
Agenda of the Courts First Division, he brazenly resorted again to such unethical behavior by
surreptiously acquiring no less than the confidential and still unreleased OBC Report on the
very administrative case of which he himself is the subject. Upon the reorganization of the members of various Divisions due to the retirement of
other Justices, the cases already assigned to a Member-in-Charge are required to be
transferred to the Division to which the Member-in-Charge moves. [84] Hence, in this case,
In his Motion to Vacate/Recall dated 20 February 2010, [78] respondent Pea prayed Justice Carpio, similar to other members of the Court at that time, did not lose his case
that the questioned 13 November 2002 Resolution be recalled on the ground that there was a assignments but brought them with him when he transferred to the First Division. In fact, the
mistake in its issuance based on the copies of the Agenda he had mysteriously received. In transfers of the assigned cases to the new Division are made by request from the Member-in-
support of this motion, he casually cited and attached a photocopy of the confidential OBC Charge, because otherwise the rollo of the cases of which he is Member-in-Charge will be
Report.[79] This OBC Report has not been released to any party, and was then in fact still retained by a Division in which he is no longer a member. Thus, the transfer of the two
under deliberation by this Court. Curiously, the attached photocopy bears marks consolidated petitions to the First Division that is being heavily criticized by respondent Pea
corresponding to the unreleased copy of the signed OBC Report, as it actually appears in was simple compliance with the established internal procedures of the Court, and not
the rollo of the administrative case.[80] Unfortunately, respondent did not explain in the said attributable to any undue interest or malicious intention on the part of the then ponente to
motion how he was able to obtain a copy thereof. retain the case for himself. Respondent had raised irresponsible suspicions [85] against the
integrity of the ponente without any understanding of the Supreme Courts processes in the
transfer of cases.
Regardless of the means employed by respondent, his acquisition of the OBC Report
from the Courts own records already speaks of an appalling pattern of unethical behavior
that the Court will no longer ignore. Even as he was the subject of an administrative case for Respondent Pea had, in fact, previously used this deplorable tactic of obtaining
obtaining confidential court records, he continued to have access to other internal documents internal court records to call for the inhibition of Justices of the Court. In previously moving for
of the Court. His actions have established that he is incorrigible and not likely to change. His the inhibition of Justice Buena, he assailed how supposedly the retired Justice violated the
continued obstinacy in disregarding ethical standards and ignoring the rule of confidentiality rules with respect to a second motion for reconsideration when the latter reinstated the
of court records deserves nothing less than the ultimate penalty of disbarment from the Petition of the De Leon Group in G.R. No. 145822. Respondent attributed the special
profession. treatment extended by Justice Buena to his supposed association with the De Leon Groups
counsel, Atty. Rogelio Vinluan of the ACCRA Law Office. To establish this special treatment,
he attached a complete copy of the Minutes of the Division [86] composed of 58 pages and
Moreover, in the subject Motion to Inhibit, respondent Pea even tried to bolster his showing 77 cases dismissed by the Court due to failure to pay the required fees, which
claim that the then ponente of the case had a special interest in the case by attaching Justice Buena allegedly did not reinstate:
an internal resolution of the Court.[81] In the said Internal Resolution dated 04 September
2002, the two consolidated petitions (G.R. Nos. 145817 and 145822) were transferred from
the Third Division to the First Division, where Justice Carpio was subsequently assigned. 10. A review of the records of the Supreme Court will show that
[82]
How respondent Pea was again able to secure this internal document is another for the past several months alone, seventy-seven petitions were dismissed
disturbing mystery in this case, especially since the resolution was sent by the Third Division by the Supreme Court, mainly for failure to pay the required fees. Out of that
Clerk of Court to the First Division Clerk of Court, the Raffle Committee and the Judicial number, NONE WERE REINSTATED upon the filing of a SECOND MOTION
Records Office only, and not to any of the parties. Similar to the copies of the Agenda of the FOR RECONSIDERATION. If Justice Buena willingly disregarded the Rules
First Division, respondent Pea again purportedly received this Internal Resolution by mail. by reinstating petitioners petition (De Leon Group Petition in G. R. No.
[83]
What is more alarming in this instance is that he received not just any photocopy of the 145822) upon the filing of a second motion for reconsideration, then he
Courts Resolution, but a pink copy itself, the very same material used for such internal should have reinstated also the aforesaid 77 cases in order to be fair. At the
resolutions in the Courts records. As he himself admitted, respondent Pea could not have very least, he should now reinstate all of said 77 cases if only to show that he
gotten hold of the said internal Resolution, which was on its face declared an internal matter, is not biased in favor of herein petitioners. He could not and will not do so,
without the assistance of a person who had access to the records of his case in the Court. however, because those cases are not favored ones. Photocopies of the
case titles and numbers, as well as the resolutions dismissing the aforesaid
seventy-seven cases, consisting of 58 pages, are attached hereto collectively disclosure of the matter to the court concerned for proper investigation, and not as proof to
as Annex A.[87] further the merits of their case. In fact, respondent himself acknowledged that reporting the
leaked out documents was a duty he owed to the Court [89] more so in this case, since the
documents were sent anonymously and through dubious circumstances.
Respondent Pea was able to attach to this motion for inhibition the portions of the
Courts Minutes on 12 April 2000, 07 February 2001, 12 February 2001, 14 February 2001,
No issue would have arisen with respect to his continuing fitness to be a member of
26 February 2001, 28 March 2001, 14 April 2001, 18 April 2001, 26 April 2001, 16 May 2001,
the legal profession, if he had simply reported his receipt of the leaked court documents,
11 July 2001, 08 August 2001, 13 August 2001, 20 August 2001, 29 August 2001, 05
and nothing more. Yet, he not only failed to immediately disclose the suspicious
September 2001, 24 September 2001, 08 October 2001 and others which were undated. The
circumstances of his having obtained confidential court records; he even had the tenacity to
attached Minutes pointed to specific cases which were dismissed for failure to pay the
use the documents sent through suspicious means to support his request for inhibition. As a
necessary fees, among others. It was unclear if the cases were specifically assigned to
lawyer, he should have known better than to hinge his motions and pleadings on documents
Justice Buena or if respondent Pea represented any of the parties therein.
of questionable origins, without even verifying the authenticity of the contents by comparing
them with sources of greater reliability and credibility.

Nevertheless, what stands out is that he obtained confidential Minutes of the Court
pertaining to other cases, which specifically dismissed or denied petitions on the failure of the If respondent Pea entertained doubts as to the veracity of the Divisions actions with
parties to pay necessary fees. This could not have just been mere coincidence again since it respect to the pending incidents in his case, as allegedly embodied in the anonymous
required some legal understanding and familiarity with the cases in order to be able to sift Agendas sent to him, then he should have simply checked the records to verify the
through and identify the kinds of cases, which were dismissed or denied on such grounds. genuineness of the questioned 13 November 2002 Resolution faxed to him by Atty. Singson.
Although the parties to these cases were notified and given copies of the Courts resolutions, It is through officially released resolutions and decisions that parties and their counsel are
what respondent Pea obtained were the actual copies of the Minutes that included other informed of and guided by the Courts actions on pending incidents, and not by the
items in the Courts Agenda and that were not released to the public. Under the Courts own confidential and handwritten notes of the individual members of the Court. Respondents
Internal Rules, only the Minutes pertinent to the parties are those that are distributed to the wholesale reliance on copies of the Agenda purported to be those of individual members of
parties concerned.[88] Yet, respondent was able to attach wholesale Minutes of dozens of the Court and anonymously sent to him is grossly misplaced.
cases to his pleading.

The Court has already explained that there was in fact no discrepancy between the
Although the above confidential documents that were accessed by respondent agreed upon action of the Division and the questioned 13 November 2002 Resolution,
totaling 58 pages in all are not the subject of the investigation of the administrative case, his contrary to the assertions of respondent Pea. He grounded the subject Motion to Inhibit on
previous receipt or acquisition of the minutes of the Court as early as 2000 confirm in no the fact that the anonymously sent copies of the Agenda indicate that the Motion for
uncertain terms his access to internal records of the Court, not just of his case, but of other Clarification filed by Urban Bank should simply be noted,[90] but it was instead granted by the
pending cases and that this access has continued as late as 2010. It seems rather ironic that Court. The Court, however, made clear during the 03 March 2003 Executive Session, that
respondent Pea would accuse his fellow lawyers of allegedly having an inside track to there was nothing irregular about annotating the first item with SEE RES (See Resolution)
members of the Court, when he in turn, on record, had mysteriously easy access to and marking the rest of the incidents with N (Noted). In fact, these annotations conform with
confidential court documents. That internal documents of the Court (whether voluminous or in the recommended actions submitted by the ponente for that particular item.[91] The Resolution
relation to his case or otherwise) would suddenly find themselves in the hands of respondent identified in the first item governs and contains the actual disposition of two of the incidents in
Pea through registered mail is too incredible for this Court to attribute any good faith on his the pending case.[92] To be sure, what governs as the final action of the Court en banc or in
part. Division is the minutes of the proceedings,[93] which lists the dispositions of the items taken
up during the session, reviewed by the members, and finally approved by the Chief Justice or
the Division chairperson. Contrary to respondents suspicions, the action taken by the
Even if the Court were to give some modicum of credence to the unlikely story of how Division in its 13 November 2002 Session was accurately reflected in the questioned
respondent Pea came upon these internal documents, it looks with disapproval upon his Resolution released by the Court.
actions with respect to those documents, which were supposedly sent to him anonymously. If
indeed lawyers were sent official judicial records that are confidential in nature and not easily
accessible, the ethical recourse for them would be to make a candid and immediate
Respondent Pea has no one else to blame but himself, since he allegedly, blindly lawyers. His actions reveal a pattern of behavior that is disconcerting and administratively
and mistakenly relied on anonymously sent unverified photocopies of the Courts Agenda, in punishable.
order to support his call for the inhibition of a member of the Court. Neither can he rely on the
alleged bragging of Atty. Singson which the latter denies to impute ill motive to judicial
officers. Whether Atty. Singson actually exerted extraordinary efforts to secure the However, considering the ultimate penalty of disbarment earlier imposed on
suspension Order or freely divulged it in their telephone conversation, respondent should respondent Pea, the Court no longer finds the need to squarely rule on the third charge, as
have been more circumspect in making grave accusations of bribery (jokingly or not) without any possible administrative liability on this matter would be a mere superfluity.
any extrinsic evidence or proof to back up his claim.

D. Fourth Charge: The charge of forum


Respondent Pea is sanctioned for knowingly using confidential and internal court shopping is not the proper subject of the
records and documents, which he suspiciously obtained in bolstering his case. His unbridled present allegations of administrative
access to internal court documents has not been properly explained. The cavalier explanation misconduct.
of respondent Pea that this Courts confidential documents would simply find themselves
conveniently falling into respondents lap through registered mail and that the envelopes
containing them could no longer be traced is unworthy of belief. This gives the Court reason
to infer that laws and its own internal rules have been violated over and over again by some The counter-charge of forum shopping has been made by respondent Pea against
court personnel, whom respondent Pea now aids and abets by feigning ignorance of how petitioners and their respective counsel in his defense. [96] However, this is already beyond the
the internal documents could have reached him. It is not unreasonable to even conclude that scope of the subject matter of this administrative case. It will be recalled that he assailed the
criminal liabilities have been incurred in relation to the Revised Penal Code [94] and the Anti- fact that Urban Bank, the De Leon Group, and the other group of bank officers filed three
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, with Atty. Pea benefitting from the same. [95] Respondents separate Petitions (G.R. Nos. 145817, 145818 and 145822, respectively) before the Court.
actions clearly merit no other penalty than disbarment. They all questioned therein the rulings of the appellate court affirming the grant of execution
pending appeal.

This second penalty of disbarment is all the more justified by the earlier imposition of
an indefinite suspension. If taken together, these two violations already speak of respondent Considering that this claim is the subject of administrative penalties, and that other
Peas inherent unworthiness to become a member of the Bar. Although an indefinite interested parties did not participate in the investigation conducted by the OBC herein,
suspension opens up the possibility of future reinstatement after a clear showing of remorse prudence and equity dictate that the Court reserve judgment for the meantime until the
and a change of ways (as in the case of Atty. Paguia), respondent has shown to be subject is fully ventilated and all parties are given an opportunity to argue their cases.
incorrigible and no longer deserves the compassion of the Court. Not only has respondent
thumbed his nose on the integrity of the persons occupying the Bench by casting grave
aspersions of bribery and wrongdoing, he has also showed disdain for the sanctity of court The charges of forum shopping are hereby dismissed without prejudice to the filing
procedures and records by his haughty display of illegal access to internal Supreme Court and/or hearing of separate administrative complaints [97] against petitioners Urban Bank,
documents. Corazon M. Bejasa, Arturo E. Manuel, Jr., P. Siervo H. Dizon, Delfin C. Gonzales, Jr.,
Benjamin L. de Leon and Eric L. Lee, and their respective counsel of record. Considering
their deaths, petitioners Teodoro C. Borlongan and Ben T. Lim, Sr., can no longer be included
in any future administrative action in relation to these matters. On the other hand, Ben Y. Lim,
C. Third Charge: Respondent Peas Jr., was mistakenly impleaded by respondent Pea and therefore, is not a real and direct
insinuations of wrongdoing and party to the case.
collusion between members of the Court
and another counsel.

Aside from attributing bribery to the ponente, respondent Penas allegations of


collusion between previous members of the Court and the counsel for the De Leon Group are
unfounded and contravene the ethical duties of respondent to the Court and his fellow EPILOGUE
As parting words, the Court herein highlights the disorder caused by respondent 8. Motion to Inhibit (Re: Justice Panganiban) dated 28 December
Peas actions in the administration of justice. In order to foreclose resort to such abhorrent 2004;
practice or strategy in the future, the Court finds the need to educate the public and the Bar.
9. Motion to Inhibit (Re: Justice Eduardo Antonio B. Nachura)
dated 17 December 2007;
Lawyers shall conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor towards their
professional colleagues.[98] They shall not, in their professional dealings, use language that is 10. Motion for Inhibition (Re: Justice Panganiban) dated 28
abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.[99] Lawyers shall use dignified language in their December 2004;
pleadings despite the adversarial nature of our legal system. [100] The use of intemperate
language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of a judicial forum. [101] 11. Reiteratory Motion to Recuse dated 03 March 2006 (Re: Justice
Panganiban);

The Court cannot countenance the ease with which lawyers, in the hopes of 12. Motion to Inhibit (Re: Justice Nachura) dated 07 January 2008;
strengthening their cause in a motion for inhibition, make grave and unfounded accusations
of unethical conduct or even wrongdoing against other members of the legal profession. It is 13. Urgent Consolidated Motion to Reiterate Request for
the duty of members of the Bar to abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no Inhibition (Re: Justice Antonio T. Carpio) dated 02 June 2008;
fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the
justness of the cause with which they are charged.[102] 14. Urgent Motion for Re-Raffle (Re: Justice Presbitero J. Velasco)
dated 10 July 2008;

It has not escaped the Courts attention that respondent Pea has manifested a 15. Supplement to the Urgent Motion for Re-Raffle (Re: Justices
troubling history of praying for the inhibition of several members of this Court or for the re- Conchita Carpio Morales and Dante O. Tinga) dated 04 August 2008;
raffle of the case to another Division, on the basis of groundless and unfounded accusations
of partiality. A sampling of his predilection for seeking the inhibition of, so far, eleven Justices 16. Urgent Consolidated Motion for Re-Raffle (Re: Justices Carpio
of this Court, in an apparent bid to shop for a sympathetic ear, includes the following: Morales, Tinga and Velasco) dated 14 August 2008;

17. Urgent Consolidated Motion for Re-Raffle (Re: Justices Arturo D.


1. Peas Motion to Inhibit (Re: Justice Artemio V. Panganiban) Brion, Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Carpio Morales, Tinga, Velasco,
dated 12 January 2001; Quisumbing) dated 28 August 2008;

2. Urgent Motion to Inhibit (Re: Justice Arturo Buena) dated 20 18. Motion to Inhibit (Re: Justice Carpio) dated 21 January 2010;
August 2001;
19. Very Urgent Motion to Inhibit (Re: Justices Carpio Morales and
3. Letter Complaint (Re: Justice Buena) dated 28 October 2001; Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno) dated 30 March 2011;

4. Motion to Inhibit (Re: Justice Panganiban) dated 18 February 20. Very Urgent Motion to Inhibit dated 22 August 2011 (Re: Justice
2002; Sereno); and

5. Reply (Re: Justice Panganiban) dated 15 March 2001; 21. Very Urgent Motion to Re-Raffle dated 01 September 2011 (Re:
Justices Carpio, Jose Perez and Sereno).
6. Urgent Motion to Inhibit (re: ponente) dated 30 January 2003;

7. Motion to Inhibit (Re: Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing) dated


The grounds for inhibition of the Justices in these motions of respondent ranged from
08 July 2004;
flimsy and sparse relations between the parties and the members of the Court to wild
accusations of partiality on mere conjectures and surmises. For example, respondent
accused former Chief Justice Panganiban of bias based on his affiliation with the Rotary litigants shopping for a judge more friendly and sympathetic to their
Club, in which the late Teodoro Borlongan, then President of Urban Bank, was likewise an cause than previous ones.
officer.[103] He moved for the inhibition of Justice Sereno on the ground that she was a close
judicial ally of Justice Carpio, and in turn, the latter, according to respondent, was As held in Mateo, Jr. v. Hon. Villaluz, the invitation for judges to
antagonistic toward him during the Courts 03 March 2003 Executive Session in this disqualify themselves need not always be heeded. It is not always desirable
administrative case.[104] that they should do so. It might amount in certain cases to their being
recreant about their duties. It could also be an instrument whereby a party
could inhibit a judge in the hope of getting another more amenable to his
Meanwhile, respondent recently sought to have the case re-raffled from the Courts persuasion. (Emphasis supplied.)
Third Division because Justice Jose Portugal Perez, a member thereof, was allegedly
appointed to the Court through the endorsement of former Executive Secretary Eduardo
Ermita, who was a close ally of the then Chairman Emeritus of Urban Bank, former President
The Courts warning in Chin applies squarely to the multiple and successive requests
Fidel V. Ramos.[105] He similarly sought the inhibition of Justice Dante O. Tinga for his close
for inhibition and re-raffle filed by respondent Pea. Lest other litigants follow his lead, the
professional and political ties with former President Ramos. [106] He likewise assailed the
Court condemns in no uncertain terms the practice of shopping for a justice, most especially
partiality of Justice Arturo D. Brion, considering he is a law school classmate and fraternity
in the highest tribunal of the land. This abhorrent practice is indeed one of the reasons why
brother of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, who was then Presidential Legal Counsel of
this administrative case has dragged on for years. Not only does it impute ill motive and
former President Ramos. Thus, according to respondent Pea, President Ramos, through
disrepute to the members of the Court, but it likewise delays the administration of justice.
Justice Corona, will most likely exercise his influence over the Honorable Justice Brion. [107]

Oddly enough, respondent Pea has been less concerned about the inordinate delay
Curiously, in asking for the inhibition of Justice Nachura for his alleged partiality in
in resolving the case than about making sure that the wrong or unfriendly Justices in his
favor of Urban Bank because of his decision in a related case [108] and his prior appointment as
perception do not sit and rule on the issues. He has thrived on the protracted interruptions
Undersecretary of Education during the Ramos presidency, respondent Pea impliedly
caused by his numerous motions for inhibition and re-raffle, resulting in the case languishing
prayed that his case be specifically retained in the Courts Third Division. [109] Respondents
in this Court for years and clogging its dockets. Respondent stands out for this disorderly
peculiar request, which was not included in his other motions, gives the impression that in his
behavior and must be made an example so that litigants be reminded that they cannot bend
quest to have Justice Nachura inhibit himself, respondent nonetheless did not want his case
or toy with the rules of procedure to favor their causes. Worse, respondent has thrown no
to be raffled out of the Third Division. If his only intention was to raise the possibility of bias
less than the rules of basic courtesy in imputing sinister motives against members of the
against Justice Nachura alone, then it would not matter whether his case remained with the
Court.
Third Division, with another member being designated to replace Justice Nachura, or raffled
to another Division altogether. Respondent Peas odd prayer in his motion for inhibition bore
signs of an intent to shop for a forum that he perceived to be friendly to him, except for one
member. Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that respondent Pea has violated several
canons of professional and ethical conduct expected from him as a lawyer and an officer of
the court. His conduct, demeanor and language with respect to his cause of action in this
Court, no less tend to undermine the integrity and reputation of the judiciary, as well as
In Chin v. Court of Appeals,[110] the Court warned against litigants contumacious
inflict unfounded accusations against fellow lawyers. Most disconcerting for this Court is his
practice in successively asking for the inhibition of judges, in order to shop for one who is
uncanny ability to obtain confidential and internal court records and to use them shamelessly
more friendly and sympathetic to their cause:
in his pleadings in furtherance of his cause.
We agree that judges have the duty of protecting the integrity of the
judiciary as an institution worthy of public trust and confidence. But under the
circumstances here, we also agree that unnecessary inhibition of judges in a In addition, the Court cannot just make short shrift of his inclination towards casually
case would open the floodgates to forum-shopping. More so, considering that moving for the inhibition of Justices of the Court based on unfounded claims, since he has not
Judge Magpale was not the first judge that TAN had asked to be inhibited on shown remorse or contrition for his ways. Atty. Pea has shown and displayed in these
the same allegation of prejudgment. To allow successive inhibitions proceedings that he has fallen short of the ethical standards of the noble profession and must
would justify petitioners apprehension about the practice of certain be sanctioned accordingly.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, for violating Canons 8, 10 and 11 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and for failing to give due respect to the Courts and his fellow
lawyers, respondent Atty. Magdaleno M. Pea is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of
law, effective upon his receipt of this Decision, and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from
the Roll of Attorneys.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondent Peas personal record in the
Office of the Bar Confidant and other copies thereof be furnished the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines.

The En Banc Clerk of Court is directed to INVESTIGATE how respondent was able to
secure copies of the following: (a) copies of the Agenda dated 13 November 2002 of the
Courts First Division, attached as Annexes B and C of respondent Peas Urgent Motion
to Inhibit and to Resolve Respondents Urgent Omnibus Motion dated 30 January 2003; (b)
the Internal Resolution dated 04 September 2002, attached as Annex D of the same motion;
(c) the Report and Recommendation dated 11 December 2007, issued by the Office of the
Bar Confidant, attached as Annex 5 of respondent Peas Motion to Vacate/Recall dated 20
February 2010; and (d) the Minutes of the Court, consisting of 58-pages, attached as Annex
A of the Reply (to Petitioners Opposition to Motion to Urgent Motion to Inhibit) dated 31
October 2001 filed by respondent Pea. She is further required to SUBMIT such an
investigation report with recommendations on the administrative and disciplinary liabilities, if
any, of all court personnel possibly involved therein, as well as suggestions for protecting
confidential and internal court documents of pending cases within NINETY (90) DAYS from
receipt of this Resolution.

SO ORDERED.
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

SECOND DIVISION

DECISION

ATTY. EDITA NOE-LACSAMANA, A.C. No. 7269

Complainant, CARPIO, J.:

Pre
sent:
The Case

CA
RPIO, J., Before the Court is a complaint for disbarment filed by Atty. Edita Noe-Lacsamana (Noe-
Chairperso Lacsamana) against Atty. Yolando F. Busmente (Busmente) before the Integrated Bar of the
n, Philippines (IBP).

- versus - BRION,

PE The Antecedent Facts


REZ,

SE
RENO, and Noe-Lacsamana alleged in her complaint that she was the counsel for Irene Bides, the
plaintiff in Civil Case No. SCA-2481 before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 167,
RE while Busmente was the counsel for the defendant Imelda B. Ulaso (Ulaso). Noe-
YES, JJ. Lacsamana alleged that Ulasos deed of sale over the property subject of Civil Case No.
SCA-2481 was annulled, which resulted in the filing of an ejectment case before the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), San Juan, docketed as Civil Case No. 9284,
where Busmente appeared as counsel. Another case for falsification was filed
against Ulaso where Busmente also appeared as counsel. Noe-Lacsamana alleged that one
ATTY. YOLANDO F. BUSMENTE, Promulgated:
Atty. Elizabeth Dela Rosa or Atty. Liza Dela Rosa (Dela Rosa) would accompany Ulaso in
court, projecting herself as Busmentes collaborating counsel. Dela Rosa signed the minutes
Respondent. November 23, 2011
of the court proceedings in Civil Case No. 9284 nine times from 25 November 2003 to 8
February 2005. Noe-Lacsamana further alleged that the court orders and notices
specified Dela Rosa as Busmentes collaborating counsel. Noe-Lacsamana alleged that upon regards Busmentes allegation that his signature on the Answer was forged, the IBP-CBD
verification with this Court and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, she discovered gave Busmente the opportunity to coordinate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
that Dela Rosa was not a lawyer. to prove that his signature was forged but he failed to submit any report from the NBI despite
the lapse of four months from the time he reserved his right to submit the report.

Busmente alleged that Dela Rosa was a law graduate and was his paralegal assistant for a
few years. Busmente alleged that Dela Rosas employment with him ended in 2000 The IBP-CBD recommended Busmentes suspension from the practice of law for not less
but Dela Rosa was able to continue misrepresenting herself as a lawyer with the help than five years. On 26 May 2006, in its Resolution No. XVII-2006-271,3 the IBP Board of
of Regine Macasieb (Macasieb), Busmentes former secretary. Busmente alleged that he did Governors adopted and approved the recommendation of the IBP-CBD, with modification by
not represent Ulaso in Civil Case No. 9284 and that his signature in the Answer1 presented as reducing the period of Busmentes suspension to six months.
proof by Noe-Lacsamana was forged.

Busmente filed a motion for reconsideration and submitted a report 4 from the NBI stating that
The Decision of the Commission on Bar Discipline the signature in the Answer, when compared with standard/sample signatures submitted to its
office, showed that they were not written by one and the same person. In its 14 May 2011
Resolution No. XIX-2011-168, the IBP Board of Governors denied Busmentes motion for
reconsideration.
In its Report and Recommendation,2 the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) found
that Dela Rosa was not a lawyer and that she represented Ulaso asBusmentes collaborating
counsel in Civil Case No. 9284. The IBP-CBD noted that while Busmente claimed
that Dela Rosa no longer worked for him since 2000, there was no proof of her separation The Issue
from employment. The IBP-CBD found that notices from the MTC San Juan, as well as the
pleadings of the case, were all sent to Busmentesdesignated office address. The IBP-CBD
stated that Busmentes only excuse was that Dela Rosa connived with his former
secretary Macasieb so that the notices and pleadings would not reach him. The issue in this case is whether Busmente is guilty of directly or indirectly
assisting Dela Rosa in her illegal practice of law that warrants his suspension from the
practice of law.

The IBP-CBD rejected the affidavit submitted by Judy M. Ortalez (Ortalez), Busmentes staff,
alleging Macasiebs failure to endorse pleadings and notices of Civil Case No. 9284
to Busmente. The IBP-CBD noted that Ortalez did not exactly refer to Ulasos case in her The Ruling of this Court
affidavit and that there was no mention that she actually witnessed Macasiebwithholding
pleadings and notices from Busmente. The IBP-CBD also noted that Macasieb was still
working at Busmentes office in November 2003 as shown by the affidavit attached to a
Motion to Lift Order of Default that she signed. However, even if Macasieb resigned in We agree with the IBP.
November 2003, Dela Rosa continued to represent Ulaso until 2005, which
belied Busmentes allegation that Dela Rosa was able to illegally practice law using his office
address without his knowledge and only due to Dela Rosas connivance with Macasieb. As
Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states: In this case, it has been established that Dela Rosa, who is not a member of the Bar,
misrepresented herself as Busmentes collaborating counsel in Civil Case No. 9284. The only
question is whether Busmente indirectly or directly assisted Dela Rosa in her illegal practice
of law.
Canon 9. A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, assist in the unauthorized practice
of law.

Busmente alleged that Dela Rosas employment in his office ended in 2000 and
that Dela Rosa was able to continue with her illegal practice of law through connivance
The Court ruled that the term practice of law implies customarily or habitually holding withMacasieb, another member of Busmentes staff. As pointed out by the IBP-
oneself out to the public as a lawyer for compensation as a source of livelihood or in CBD, Busmente claimed that Macasieb resigned from his office in 2003. Yet, Dela Rosa
consideration of his services.5 The Court further ruled that holding ones self out as a lawyer continued to represent Ulaso until 2005. Pleadings and court notices were still sent
may be shown by acts indicative of that purpose, such as identifying oneself as attorney, to Busmentes office until 2005. The IBP-CBD noted that Dela Rosas practice should have
appearing in court in representation of a client, or associating oneself as a partner of a law ended in 2003 when Macasieb left.
office for the general practice of law.6

We agree. Busmentes office continued to receive all the notices of Civil Case No. 9284. The
The Court explained: 7 December 2004 Order8 of Judge Elvira DC. Panganiban (Judge Panganiban) in Civil Case
No. 9284 showed that Atty. Elizabeth Dela Rosa was still representing Ulaso in the case. In
that Order, Judge Panganiban set the preliminary conference of Civil Case No. 9284 on 8
February 2005. It would have been impossible for Dela Rosa to continue
The lawyers duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized representing Ulaso in the case, considering Busmentes claim thatMacasieb already
practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the resigned, if Dela Rosa had no access to the files in Busmentes office.
practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and
character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and limited
privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and
professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and Busmente, in his motion for reconsideration of Resolution No. XVII-2006-271, submitted a
the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and copy of the NBI report stating that the signature on the Answer submitted in Civil Case No.
not subject to the disciplinary control of the Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see 9284 and the specimen signatures submitted by Busmente were not written by one and the
that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him same person. The report shows that Busmente only submitted to the NBI the questioned
not to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make signature in the Answer. The IBP-CBD report, however, showed that there were other
possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any agency, personal or corporate. And, documents signed by Busmente, including the Pre-Trial Brief dated 14 November 2003 and
the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a Motion to Lift Order of Default dated 22 November 2003. Noe-Lacsamana also submitted a
layman in the unauthorized practice of law.7 letter dated 14 August 2003 addressed to her as well as three letters dated 29 August 2003
addressed to the occupants of the disputed property, all signed
by Busmente. Busmente failed to impugn his signatures in these other documents.
Finally, Busmente claimed that he was totally unaware of Civil Case No. 9284 and he only 1. That offender has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of
came to know about the case when Ulaso went to his office to inquire about its the facts narrated;
status. Busmentes allegation contradicted the Joint Counter-Affidavit 9 submitted
by Ulaso and Eddie B. Bides stating that: 2. There must be wrongful intent to
injure a 3rd party;

3. Knowledge that the facts narrated


a. That our legal counsel is Atty. YOLANDO F. BUSMENTE of the YOLANDO F. by him are absolutely false;
BUSMENTE AND ASSOCIATES LAW OFFICES with address at suite 718 BPI Office
Cond. Plaza Cervantes, Binondo Manila. 4. That the offender makes in a
document untruthful statements in
the narration of facts.

b. That ELIZABETH DELA ROSA is not our legal counsel in the case And furthermore the untruthful
which have been filed by IRENE BIDES and LILIA VALERA in representation of her narrations of facts must affect the
sister AMELIA BIDES for Ejectmentdocketed as Civil Case No. 9284 before Branch integrity which is not so in the
58 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of San Juan, Metro Manila. instant case.

g. That from the start of our acquaintance with ELIZABETH DELA ROSA we never
ask her whether she was a real lawyer and allowed to practice law in the Philippines;
c. That we never stated in any of the pleadings filed in the cases mentioned in the it would have been unethical and shameful on our part to ask her qualification; we
Complaint-Affidavit that ELIZABETH DELA ROSA was our lawyer; just presumed that she has legal qualifications to represent us in our cases
because Atty. YOLANDO F. BUSMENTE allowed her to accompany us and
attend our hearings in short, she gave us paralegal assistance[.] (Emphasis
supplied)
d. That if ever ELIZABETH DELA ROSA had affixed her signature in the notices or
other court records as our legal counsel the same could not be taken against us for,
we believed in good faith that she was a lawyer; and we are made to believe that it
was so since had referred her to us (sic), she was handling some cases The counter-affidavit clearly showed that Busmente was the legal counsel in Civil Case No.
of Hortaleza and client of Atty. Yolando F. Busmente; 9284 and that he allowed Dela Rosa to give legal assistance to Ulaso.

e. That we know for the fact that ELIZABETH DELA ROSA did not sign any pleading
which she filed in court in connection with our cases at all of those were signed by
Atty. YOLANDO BUSMENTE as our legal counsel; she just accompanied us to the Hence, we agree with the findings of the IBP-CBD that there was sufficient evidence to prove
court rooms and/or hearings; that Busmente was guilty of violation of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
We agree with the recommendation of the IBP, modifying the recommendation of the IBP-
f. That we cannot be made liable for violation of Article 171 (for and in relation to CBD, that Busmente should be suspended from the practice of law for six months.
Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code) for the reason that the following elements of
the offense are not present, to wit:
WHEREFORE, we SUSPEND Atty. Yolando F. Busmente from the practice of law for SIX ERLINDA R. TAROG, Complainant,
MONTHS. vs.
ATTY. ROMULO L. RICAFORT, Respondent.

DECISION
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Busmentes personal record in the Office of
the Bar Confidant. Let a copy of this Decision be also furnished to all chapters of the PER CURIAM:
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in the land.
We resolve a complaint for disbarment for alleged grave misconduct brought against Atty.
SO ORDERED. Romulo L. Ricafort for his failure to account for and to return the sums of money received
from his clients for purposes of the civil action to recover their property from a foreclosing
banking institution he was handling for them. The original complainant was Arnulfo A. Tarog,
but his wife, Erlinda R. Tarog, substituted him upon his intervening death.

Antecedents

In 1992, the Tarogs sought the advice of Atty. Jaime L. Miralles regarding their bank-
foreclosed property located in the Bicol Region. Atty. Miralles advised them to engage a Bicol-
based attorney for that purpose. Thus, they went to see Atty. Ricafort accompanied by Vidal
Miralles, their friend who was a brother of Atty. Miralles.1 They ultimately engaged Atty.
Ricafort as their attorney on account of his being well-known in the community, and being
also the Dean of the College of Law of Aquinas University where their son was then studying.

Having willingly accepted the engagement, Atty. Ricafort required the Tarogs to
pay P7,000.00 as filing fee, which they gave to him. 2 He explained the importance of
depositing P65,000.00 in court to counter the P60,000.00 deposited by Antonio Tee, the
buyer of the foreclosed property. After they informed him that they had onlyP60,000.00, he
required them to add some more amount (dagdagan niyo ng konti).3 To raise the P65,000.00
for the Tarogs, therefore, Vidal solicited a loan from one Sia with the guarantee of his brother
Atty. Miralles. Sia issued a check in that amount in the name of Arnulfo. 4
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT On November 7, 1992, the Tarogs and Vidal went to the office of Atty. Ricafort to deliver
Manila the P65,000.00. When Arnulfo said that he had first to encash the check at the bank, Atty.
Ricafort persuaded him to entrust the check to him instead so that he (Atty. Ricafort) would be
the one to encash it and then deposit the amount in court. On that representation, Arnulfo
EN BANC
handed the check to Atty. Ricafort.5
A.C. No. 8253 March 15, 2011
After some time, the Tarogs visited Atty. Ricafort to verify the status of the consignation. Atty.
(Formerly CBD Case No. 03-1067)
Ricafort informed them that he had not deposited the amount in court, but in his own account.
He promised to return the money, plus interest. Despite several inquiries about when the
amount would be returned, however, the Tarogs received mere assurances from Atty. Ricafort Atty. Ricafort in his testimony attempted to show that the amount of P65,000.00 was paid to
that the money was in good hands. him by the complainant as acceptance fee on a package deal basis and under said deal, he
will answer the filing fee, attorneys fees and other expenses incurred up to the time the
The Tarogs further claimed that the Regional Trial Court, Branch 52, in Sorsogon (RTC), judgment is rendered. He presented a transcript of stenographic notes wherein it was stated
where their complaint for annulment of sale was being heard, had required the parties to file that complainant himself did not consign the money in court. The respondent admitted in his
their memoranda. Accordingly, they deliveredP15,000.00 to Atty. Ricafort for that purpose, but testimony that he did not have any retainer agreement nor any memorandum signed or any
he did not file the memorandum.6 receipt which would prove that the amount of P65,000.00 was received as an acceptance fee
for the handling of the case.
When it became apparent to the Tarogs that Atty. Ricafort would not make good his promise
of returning theP65,000.00, plus interest, Arnulfo demanded by his letter dated December 3, Atty. Romulo Ricafort stated that there was no retainer agreement and that he issued only
2002 that Atty. Ricafort return theP65,000.00, plus interest, and the P15,000.00 paid for the receipt because the late Arnulfo Tarog will not pay unless a receipt is issued.
filing of the memorandum.7 Yet, they did not receive any reply from Atty. Ricafort.
The Undersigned Commissioner asked the respondent "Basically you describe that thing that
In his defense, Atty. Ricafort denied that the P65,000.00 was intended to be deposited in will happen in the litigation related to the payment of fees. But when you received
court, insisting that the amount was payment for his legal services under a "package deal," that P65,000.00 did you not put anything there that you will describe the nature of legal work
that is, the amount included his acceptance fee, attorneys fee, and appearance fees from the which you will undertake considering that you have considered thisP65,000.00 as your
filing of the complaint for annulment of sale until judgment, but excluding appeal. He claimed attorneys fees? And Atty. Ricafort stated: Yes I did. I do not know why they were not showing
that the fees were agreed upon after considering the value of the property, his skill and the receipt. That is a big amount, Your Honor. They demanded for me the receipt
experience as a lawyer, the labor, time, and trouble involved, and his professional character of P30,000.00 how much more with that P65,000.00. They demanded for the receipt of
and social standing; that at the time he delivered the check, Arnulfo read, understood, and that P65,000.00 but I cannot explain the reason why
agreed to the contents of the complaint, which did not mention anything about any
consignation;8 and that Arnulfo, being a retired school principal, was a learned person who During the clarificatory questioning, the Undersigned Commissioner also asked Atty. Ricafort
would not have easily fallen for any scheme like the one they depicted against him. why he did not answer the demand letter sent by Arnulfo Tarog and the proof of service of the
said letter was presented by the complainant. Conveniently, Atty. Ricafort stated that he did
Findings of the IBP Commissioner not receive the letter and it was received by their helper who did not forward the letter to him.
He also adopted the position that the complainant was demanding theP65,000.00 wherefore
Following his investigation, Commissioner Wilfredo E.J.E. Reyes of the Integrated Bar of the this case was filed. When confronted by the testimony of Mr. Vidal Miralles, the respondent
Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline rendered his Report and Recommendation dated Atty. Ricafort just denied the allegation that he received the P65,000.00 for deposit to the
October 7, 2004,9 in which he concluded that: court. He also denied that Mr. Miralles has visited his residence for follow-up the
reimbursement.
It is respectfully recommended that respondent, Atty. Romulo L. Ricafort be DISBARRED and
be ordered to return the amount of P65,000 and P15,000 which he got from his client. The Undersigned Commissioner asked the respondent if he has personal animosity with
Arnuldo Tarog, Erlinda Tarog and Vidal Miralles and if there are any reason why this case was
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED. filed against him. In his answer the respondent stated that we have been very good friends
for the past ten (10) years and he said that in fact he was surprised when the complaint was
Commissioner Reyes regarded the testimonies of Erlinda and Vidal more credible than the filed against him and they even attached the decision of the Supreme Court for his
testimony of Atty. Ricafort, observing: suspension and maybe they are using this case to be able to collect from him.

Based on the said testimony, statements and actuations of complainant Erlinda Tarog and his
collaborating witness, we find their statements to be credible.
The main defense of the respondent is that the complainant in this case testified that the total Through Resolution No. XVII-2006-569,13 therefore, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
amount to redeem his property is P240,000.00 and when asked whether he consigned the approved the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Reyes and recommended the
money to the court to redeem the property he answered in the negative. disbarment of Atty. Ricafort and the order for him to return the amounts of P65,000.00
and P15,000.00 to Erlinda, viz:
The alleged payment of P65,000.00 was made prior to the said testimony sometime in 1992.
Hence, it was stated on complainants affidavit that on November 7, 1992, prior to filing said RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the
complaint I had given him the sum of Sixty Five Thousand Pesos to be deposited to the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case
Regional Trial Court representing redemption money of the Real Estate Mortgage. The herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A" and, finding the recommendation fully
amount of P65,000.00 is very much close to the amount of the principal obligation of the supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering that
complainant and it is not surprising for a non-lawyer to hold on to the belief that with the filing Respondent has taken advantage of his client [sic] vulnerability and has been dishonest with
of the case for annulment of foreclosure his case would be strengthened by making a deposit his dealings to his client, Atty. Romulo L. Ricafort is hereby DISBARRED and Ordered to
in court hence, the motivation to produce the deposit was logical and natural insofar as the Return the amount of P65,000 and P15,000 to complainant.
complainant is concerned. The testimony of the complainant in court that the bank
needed P240,000.00 for the redemption of the property will have no bearing on the actuation Atty. Ricafort moved for reconsideration,14 maintaining that a retainer agreement was
of the complainant who has been required to deposit P65,000.00 by his lawyer. The immaterial because he had affirmed having received the P65,000.00 and having issued a
Undersigned Commission has no alternative but to believe in the credibility and truthfulness receipt for the amount; that he had not kept the receipt because "the practice of lawyers in
of complainants narration that of Mrs. Erlinda Tarog and Vidal Miralles. 10 most instances is that receipt is issued without duplicate as it behooves upon the client to
demand for a receipt;"15 that considering that the Tarogs had produced a photocopy of the
Commissioner Reyes concluded that Atty. Ricafort violated Canon 15, and Rules 16.01, 16.02 receipt he had issued for the P30,000.00 in connection with their appeal, it followed that a
and 16.03 of Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility by taking advantage of the similar receipt for attorneys fees had been made at the time when the case had been about
vulnerability of his clients and by being dishonest in his dealings with them by refusing to to be filed in the RTC; that the testimonies of Erlinda and Vidal were inconsistent with
return the amount of P65,000.00 to them. Arnulfos affidavit; and that he did not receive Arnulfos demand letter, which was received by
one Gemma Agnote (the name printed on the registry receipt), whom he did not at all know.
On November 4, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors adopted Resolution No. XVI-2004-
473,11 resolving to return the matter to Commissioner Reyes for a clarification of whether or Acting on Atty. Ricaforts motion for reconsideration, the IBP Board of Governors downgraded
not there was evidence to support the claim that the P65,000.00 had been in payment of the penalty from disbarment to indefinite suspension, 16 thus:
attorneys fees and other expenses.
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED the
On October 11, 2005, Commissioner Reyes issued a second Report and Recommendation of the Board of Governors First Division of the above-entitled case, herein
Recommendation,12 in which he declared that Atty. Ricafort did not present any retainer made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported
agreement or receipt to prove that the amount ofP65,000.00 had been part of his attorneys by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, the Motion for Reconsideration
fees; that Atty. Ricafort had willfully ignored the demand of Arnulfo by not replying to the is hereby DENIED with modification of Resolution No. XVII-2006-509 of the Board of
demand letter; that, instead, Atty. Ricafort had insisted that the househelp who had received Governors dated 18 November 2006, that in lieu of the Disbarment of Atty. Romulo Ricafort,
the demand letter had not given it to him; and that in his (Commissioner Reyes) presence, he is INDEFINITELY SUSPENDED from the practice of law and Ordered to return the amount
Atty. Ricafort had also promised to the complainant that he would settle his liability, but Atty. of P65,000 and P15,000 to complainant.
Ricafort did not make good his promise despite several resettings to allow him to settle his
obligation. Atty. Ricafort filed a second motion for reconsideration, 17 assailing the resolution of the IBP
Board of Governors for violating Section 12, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court requiring the
Action of IBP Board of Governors decision of the IBP Board of Governors to be in writing and to clearly and distinctly state the
facts and reasons on which the decision was based.
Hence, the administrative case is now before the Court for resolution. denial, because not only was the denial an apparently belated afterthought, it was even
contradicted by his earlier admission of receipt. In any event, the fact that Gemma Agnote
Ruling was even the househelp whom Atty. Ricafort had adverted to becomes very plausible under
the established circumstances.
We affirm the findings of the Commissioner Reyes, because they were supported by
substantial evidence. However, we impose the penalty of disbarment instead of the Thirdly, Atty. Ricafort explained that he had no copies of the receipts for the P65,000.00
recommended penalty of indefinite suspension, considering that Atty. Ricafort committed a and P15,000.00 issued to the Tarogs because "the practice of lawyers in most instances is
very serious offense that was aggravated by his having been previously administratively that receipt is issued without duplicate as it behooves upon the client to demand for a
sanctioned for a similar offense on the occasion of which he was warned against committing receipt."21 But such explanation does not persuade us. Ethical and practical considerations
a similar offense. made it both natural and imperative for him to issue receipts, even if not demanded, and to
keep copies of the receipts for his own records. He was all too aware that he was
A. accountable for the moneys entrusted to him by the clients, and that his only means of
Version of the complainants was more credible than version of Atty. Ricafort ensuring accountability was by issuing and keeping receipts. Rule 16.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility expressly enjoins such accountability, viz:
Atty. Ricafort admitted receiving the P65,000.00 from the Tarogs. Even so, we have two
versions about the transaction. On the one hand, the Tarogs insisted that the amount was to Rule 16.01 - A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from
be consigned in court for purposes of their civil case; on the other hand, Atty. Ricafort claimed the client.
that the amount was for his fees under a "package deal" arrangement.
Definitely, Atty. Ricafort had a highly fiduciary and confidential relation with the Tarogs. As
Commissioner Reyes considered the Tarogs version more credible. such, he was burdened with the legal duty to promptly account for all the funds received from
or held by him for them.22
We hold that Commissioner Reyes appreciation of the facts was correct and in accord with
human experience. And, fourthly, to buttress his denial that the P65,000.00 was not intended for deposit in court,
Atty. Ricafort insisted that Arnulfo did not object to the omission from the complaint in the civil
Firstly, it is easier to believe that Atty. Ricafort persuaded the Tarogs on the need for that action of any mention of consignation. However, the complaint that he himself had written and
amount to be deposited in court for purposes of their civil case. Being non-lawyers, they had filed for the Tarogs contradicted his insistence, specifically in its paragraph 16, which averred
no idea about the requirement for them to consign any amount in court, due to the the plaintiffs (i.e., Tarogs) readiness and willingness to deposit the amount of P69,345.00
substantive and procedural implications of such requirement being ordinarily known only to (inclusive of the redemption price and interest) in court, thus:
lawyers. Their ready and full reliance on Atty. Ricaforts representations about the
requirement to consign that amount in court was entirely understandable in view of their 16. And to show willingness and sincerity of the plaintiffs, they are ready and willing to deposit
awareness of Atty. Ricaforts standing in the legal community of the place. Besides, as the amount ofP69,345.00 as redemption price plus reasonable accrued interests, if there are
Commissioner Reyes observed, it was not far-fetched for the Tarogs to believe that an any; 23
amount close in value to their original obligation was necessary to be deposited in court to
boost their chances of recovering their property. Nor could the Tarogs have conjured or invented the need for consignation. The consignation
was a notion that could have emanated only from him as their lawyer. In fact, Erlinda recalled
Secondly, Atty. Ricaforts denial of receipt of Arnulfos demand letter was incredible. He while testifying before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline that they had brought to their
already initially admitted receiving the letter through a househelp. 18 His denial came only meeting with Atty. Ricafort only P60,000.00 for the consignation, but that Atty. Ricafort had to
subsequently and for the first time through his motion for reconsideration dated December 30, instruct them to raise the amount. The excerpt of her pertinent testimony follows:
2006,19 in which he completely turned about to declare that the Gemma Agnote who had
received the letter was unknown to him.20 Expectedly, Commissioner Reyes disregarded his
Comm. Reyes: Madam Witness, in this affidavit you stated that your late husband and Mr. Rule 16.01 - A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from
Vidal Miralles went to the office of Atty. Ricafort to advise the latter that we already had the the client.
sum of P65,000.00 in the form of check, how did you come to know this fact?
Undoubtedly, Atty. Ricafort was required to hold in trust any money and property of his clients
Witness: Paano po ba sabi nya na magdeposit ng P65,000.00 tapos may P60,000.00 that came into his possession,26 and he needed to be always mindful of the trust and
kami sabi niya dagdagan niyo ng konti. confidence his clients reposed in him.27 Thus, having obtained the funds from the Tarogs in
the course of his professional employment, he had the obligation to deliver such funds to his
Comm. Reyes: Kinausap ba niya kayo? clients (a) when they became due, or (b) upon demand. 281avvphi1

Witness: Nandoon po ako. Furthermore, Rule 16.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, imposes on an attorney
the positive obligation to keep all funds of his client separate and apart from his own and from
Comm. Reyes: Where you present when the check was given? those of others kept by him, to wit:

Witness: Yes. Rule 16.02 - A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own and
those of others kept by him.
Comm. Reyes: So, alam niyo, nakita niyo na binigay yong P65,000.00 na tseke?
Atty. Ricaforts act of obtaining P65,000.00 and P15,000.00 from the Tarogs under the
Witness: Opo. respective pretexts that the amount would be deposited in court and that he would prepare
and file the memorandum for the Tarogs erected a responsibility to account for and to use the
Comm. Reyes: Alam niyo ba kung ano ang nangyari doon sa tseke na idiniposit? amounts in accordance with the particular purposes intended. For him to deposit the amount
of P65,000.00 in his personal account without the consent of the Tarogs and not return it
Witness: Noong una sinabi niya sa amin na ididiposit niya sa court. upon demand, and for him to fail to file the memorandum and yet not return the amount
of P15,000.00 upon demand constituted a serious breach of his fiduciary duties as their
Comm. Reyes: Nalaman niyo ba na hindi naman pala idiniposit sa court? attorney. He reneged on his duty to render an accounting to his clients showing that he had
spent the amounts for the particular purposes intended. 29 He was thereby presumed to have
misappropriated the moneys for his own use to the prejudice of his clients and in violation of
Witness: Opo.
the clients trust reposed in him.30 He could not escape liability, for upon failing to use the
moneys for the purposes intended, he should have immediately returned the moneys to his
Comm. Reyes: Kailan niyo nalaman?
clients.31

Witness: Nagsabi siya tapos sinabi pa niya na yong interest sa bank ay ibinigay niya sa amin
Atty. Ricaforts plain abuse of the confidence reposed in him by his clients rendered him liable
ang sabi naming salamat.24
for violation of Canon 16,32 particularly Rule 16.01, supra, and Canon 17, 33 all of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. His acts and actuations constituted a gross violation of general
B.
morality and of professional ethics that impaired public confidence in the legal profession and
Atty. Ricaforts acts and actuations constituted serious breach of his fiduciary duties
deserved punishment.34
as an attorney

Without hesitation, therefore, we consider Atty. Ricaforts acts and conduct as gross
The Code of Professional Responsibility demands the utmost degree of fidelity and good faith
misconduct, a serious charge under Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
in dealing with the moneys entrusted to lawyers because of their fiduciary relationship. 25 In
particular, Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states:
Section 8. Serious charges. Serious charges include:
xxx All the foregoing constituted grave and gross misconduct in blatant violation of Rule 1.01 of
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:
3. Gross misconduct constituting violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct;
A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest and immoral or deceitful conduct.
xxx
Respondents claim of good faith in closing his account because he thought complainant has
That this offense was not the first charged and decided against Atty. Ricafort aggravated his already encashed all checks is preposterous. The account was closed on or before 26
liability. In Nuez v. Ricafort,35 decided in 2002, the Court found him to have violated Rules February 1996. He knew that there were still other checks due on 29 February 1996 and 15
1.0136 of Canon 1 and Rule 12.0337 and Rule 12.0438 of Canon 12 of the Code of Professional March 1996 which could not be encashed before their maturity dates.
Responsibility in relation to his failure to turn over the proceeds of the sale of realty to the
complainant (who had authorized him to sell the realty in her behalf). His failure to turn over By violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, respondent
the proceeds compelled the complainant to commence in the RTC a civil action to recover the diminished public confidence in the law and the lawyers (Busios v. Ricafort, 283 SCRA 407
proceeds against him and his wife. The [1997]; Ducat v. Villalon,

Court meted on him the penalty of indefinite suspension, and warned him against the 337 SCRA 622 [2000]). Instead of promoting such confidence and respect, he miserably
commission of similar acts, stating: failed to live up to the standards of the legal profession (Gonato v. Adaza, 328 SCRA 694
[2000]; Ducat v. Villalon, supra).
We concur with the findings of the Investigating Commissioner, as adopted and approved by
the Board of Governors of the IBP, that respondent Atty. Romulo Ricafort is guilty of grave Respondents act of issuing bad checks in satisfaction of the alias writ of execution for money
misconduct in his dealings with complainant. Indeed, the record shows respondents grave judgment rendered by the trial court was a clear attempt to defeat the ends of justice. His
misconduct and notorious dishonesty. failure to make good the checks despite demands and the criminal cases for violation of B.P.
Blg. 22 showed his continued defiance of judicial processes, which he, as an officer of the
There is no need to stretch ones imagination to arrive at an inevitable conclusion that court, was under continuing duty to uphold.39
respondent gravely abused the confidence that complainant reposed in him and committed
dishonesty when he did not turn over the proceeds of the sale of her property. Worse, with Bearing in mind his administrative record, and considering that the penalty for violation of
palpable bad faith, he compelled the complainant to go to court for the recovery of the Canon 16 ranges from suspension for six months,40 to suspension for one year,41 to
proceeds of the sale and, in the process, to spend money, time and energy therefor. Then, suspension for two years,42 depending on the amount involved and the severity of the
despite his deliberate failure to answer the complaint resulting in his having been declared in lawyers misconduct, we rule that disbarment is the commensurate punishment for Atty.
default, he appealed from the judgment to the Court of Appeals. Again, bad faith attended Ricafort, who has shown no reformation in his handling of trust funds for his clients.
such a step because he did not pay the docket fee despite notice. Needless to state,
respondent wanted to prolong the travails and agony of the complainant and to enjoy the WHEREFORE, we find and declare Atty. Romulo L. Ricafort guilty of a violation of Canon 16,
fruits of what rightfully belongs to the latter. Unsatisfied with what he had already unjustly and Rule 16.01 and Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and, accordingly, disbar
unlawfully done to complainant, respondent issued checks to satisfy the alias writ of him. The Bar Confidant is directed to strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys.
execution. But, remaining unrepentant of what he had done and in continued pursuit of a
clearly malicious plan not to pay complainant of what had been validly and lawfully adjudged Atty. Ricafort is ordered to return to Erlinda R. Tarog the sums of P65,000.00 and P15,000.00,
by the court against him, respondent closed the account against which the checks were plus interest of six percent per annum reckoned from the demand made on December 3,
drawn. There was deceit in this. Respondent never had the intention of paying his obligation 2002, within twenty days from notice.
as proved by the fact that despite the criminal cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, he did not
pay the obligation. This decision is effective immediately.
Let a copy of this decision be furnished to the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation
to all courts, and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, for its reference.

SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION

IMELDA BIDES-ULASO, A.C. No. 7297


Complainant, the word for above the printed name IRENE BIDES. The signature bore a positive
Present: resemblance to the respondents signature as the notary on the jurat of
the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping.[4] Seeing the defective
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, execution of the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping, Ulaso and her co-
- versus - CORONA, defendants filed a motion to dismiss on July 22, 2003,[5] citing the defect as a ground, along
CHICO-NAZARIO,* with another.
LEONARDO- DE CASTRO, and
BERSAMIN, JJ. Through the respondent as her counsel, Bides opposed the motion to dismiss on
August 6, 2003, claiming an inadvertent mistake committed in relation to the signature
ATTY. EDITA NOE-LACSAMANA, Promulgated: appearing above the printed name of the affiant, but offering the excuse that the
Respondent. September 29, 2009 defective amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping had actually been only a
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x sample-draft intended to instruct Irene Mallari, the respondents new secretary, on where
Bides, as affiant, should sign. Bides also claimed that the respondents signature above the
DECISION printed name of the affiant had not been intended to replace the signature of Bides as the
affiant; that the correct amendedverification and affidavit of non-forum shopping to be
appended to the amended complaint had been executed only on June 23, 2003 due to her
BERSAMIN, J.: (Bides) delayed arrival from her home province of Abra; and that Mallari had failed to replace
the defective document with the correct amended verification and affidavit of non-forum
The decisive question to be resolved in this administrative proceeding is whether or not shopping.[6]
the notarization of the jurat of the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum
shopping attached to the initiatory pleading even before the plaintiff-client has affixed her own The RTC denied the motion to dismiss and even declared Ulaso and her co-
signature amounts to censurable conduct on the part of the notary-counsel. defendants in default. The RTC ultimately decided the action in favor of Bides, granting reliefs
like the nullification of the deed of sale between Bides, as seller, and Ulaso, as buyer.[7]
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) found respondent Atty. Edita Noe-
Lacsamana, the notary-counsel, guilty of gross negligence and of a violation of the Notarial On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTCs judgment. [8]
Law; and recommended her suspension from the practice of law for six months. [1] She now
pleads her cause before us.[2] Bides and the respondent brought other proceedings against Ulaso. On September 26,
2003, Bides sued Ulaso and others for ejectment in the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC)
Antecedents in San Juan, Metro Manila, to evict them from the premises of Bides property subject of the
RTC case.[9] She next formally charged Ulaso and two others with falsification of a public
The respondent was the counsel of Irene Bides (Bides) when the latter filed a civil document in the Manila Prosecutors Office for the execution of the nullified deed of sale,
action in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Pasig City against complainant Imelda Bides- resulting in the criminal prosecution of Ulaso and the others before the MeTC, Branch 17,
Ulaso (Ulaso), her own niece; Alan Ulaso (Ulasos husband); Bartolome Bides (Ulasos father in Manila.[10] The respondent actively prosecuted the criminal charge against Ulaso after
and Bides brother); the Register of Deeds of Region II, Metro Manila; and the Revenue being granted by the MeTC the express authority for that purpose pursuant to the Rules of
District Office of San Juan, Metro Manila. The action was docketed as Special Civil Action Court.[11] The respondent herself commenced disbarment proceedings in the IBP against
(SCA) No. 2481 and raffled to Branch 167 of the RTC. Atty. Yolando Busmente, Ulasos counsel; and proceedings for usurpation against Elizabeth
de la Rosa, for appearing as Ulasos other counsel although she had not been a member of
Bides amended the complaint on June 23, 2003 to demand the declaration of nullity the Philippine Bar.[12] The disbarment proceedings against Atty. Busmente were docketed as
of the deed of sale dated May 27, 1996 pertaining to the parcel of land situated in San Juan, CBD Case No. 05-1462.
Metro Manila of which Bides was the registered owner. Bides averred that Ulaso had taken
her owners certificate of title during her absence from her residence and that Ulaso had then To counteract the aforestated moves of Bides and the respondent, Ulaso initiated this
caused the transfer of the property to herself through the fraudulent execution of the deed of proceeding against the respondent on March 2, 2005, praying for the latters disbarment due
sale.[3] to her act of signing the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping attached to
the amended complaint of Bides and notarizing the document sans the signature of Bides
The amended complaint of Bides contained a so-called amended verification and and despite the non-appearance of Bides before her.[13]
affidavit of non-forum shopping dated June 18, 2003, on which was a signature preceded by
On July 21, 2005, Bides and Ulaso entered into a compromise agreement to settle the her documents. The burden of preparing a complete pleading falls on
criminal case for falsification, whereby Bides agreed to drop the criminal charge against counsels shoulders, not on the messenger (Tan v. Court of Appeals, 295
Ulaso in exchange for, among others, Ulasos withdrawal of the disbarment complaint against SCRA 765 [1998]) and not even on the secretary.
the respondent.[14] The MeTC, Branch 17, in Manilaapproved the compromise agreement.
Besides, even if the story she tells us is true, it would appear that the
The agreement on the dropping of the criminal case notwithstanding, the complaint document was pre-notarized based on the very averments made in Irene
for disbarment continued against the respondent. The IBP Committee on Bar Discipline Mallaris Affidavit of Merit when she stated that:
designated Atty. Patrick M. Velez as Investigating Commissioner. After due hearing, Atty.
Velez submitted his report and recommendation dated December 8, 2005,[15] in which he 3. Atty. Lacsamana was scheduled for an out-of-town
rendered the following resolution and findings, viz: trip on Monday, June 23, 2003, thus she hurriedly notarized
another prepared set of Amended Verification dated June 23,
IV. RESOLUTION AND FINDINGS 2003, and repeatedly told me to file the amended complaint
not later than that afternoon to this Honorable Court after
We are not impressed with the excuses presented by the replacing its old June 18, 2003-Amended Verification;
respondent. The lapse committed by the respondent is clear based on the
facts and pieces of evidence submitted in this case. 4. Irene Bides arrived only after lunch and after her
niece cause her to sign the amended verification, I replaced
The respondent admits signing the questioned verification and there is the last page of the sets of the Amended Complaint without
also no dispute that she notarized the same. Even if her tale is true, the fact knowing that I missed its original copy and the copy I hurriedly
that she notarized her own signature is inexcusable. It cannot even be sent to the counsel for the respondent.
pardoned as a simple act of negligence as the standards set by notarial law
are stringent enough to require all notaries public to exercise caution in order Respondent was not around when the document was signed by the
to protect the integrity and veracity of documents. respondents client. That is a violation of notarial law and deceitful conduct
of the part of a lawyer, since he is notarizing a document which he did not
We also cannot understand the fact that all the pleadings submitted to actually witness being signed in his presence.
the court do not bear the corrected verification and certification. It may be
easy to convince us that she is really innocent of the charges if at least one Even page 8 of the respondents notarial register will not help her in
of those documents or even that one copy furnished to the other party in that this case. All that it shows is the alleged document no. 36, but what about
case would bear at least one such corrected verification. But no, there was document no. 35 which should appear in page 7 of Book no. 1? The second
none at all. This certainly militates against the position that respondent document was notarized on another page and it is incumbent on the
lawyer took. respondent to show that the same was really not recorded as such. The
failure of respondent to present such evidence should be treated as
We have already stated earlier that lawyers may be disciplined for disputable presumption that the same would be detrimental to his interests if
misconduct as a notary public, and now emphasize that the respondent can so presented. Thus, when the circumstances in proof tend to fix the liability
not even hide behind the mantle of good faith or throw blame to her on a party who has it in his power to offer evidence of all facts as they
secretary. Even as the Supreme Court stated that: existed and rebut the inference which the circumstances in proof tend to
establish, and he fails to offer such proof, the natural conclusion is that proof
If the document he notarized turned out to have been if produced, instead of rebutting, would support the inference against him,
falsified, without the fact being known to him at the time, he and the court is justified in acting upon that conclusion (Herrera, Remedial
may still be admonished for not taking pains to ascertain the Law, VI, 1999 ed p. 63 citing Worcester vs. Ocampo, 22 Phil. 42).
identity of the person who acknowledged the instrument before
him. (Cailing vs. Espinoza, 103 Phil. 1165) This commission feels that respondent is not being truthful with her
defenses. The problem with using such unjustified excuses is that one lie will
Indeed, we may even consider her being grossly negligent in allowing pile up over the other. Somewhere along the way, the story will leak out its
her secretary to commit that error. She gave her secretary blanket authority sordid details exposing the excuse as a mere concocted tale and nothing
where she should have exercise sufficient prudence to protect the integrity of more.
WHEREFORE, it is hereby recommended that the respondent lawyer,
We have the impression that respondent is trying to mislead this Atty. Edita Noe-Lacsamana be suspended from the practice of law for a
Commission, which we cannot allow. period of not less than two (2) years and that she be required to take three
(3) units of MCLE required legal ethics before she may be allowed to practice
The issue in this case is really limited and focused on the signature law again.[16]
and the notarization of the verification and certification against forum
shopping for Irene Bides. Does it constitute actionable misconduct? The In its Resolution No. XVII-2006-272 dated May 26, 2006, the IBP Board of Governors
other matters raised by the respondent have little bearing herein because it approved the report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner with
refers to other cases which she has against the complainant. But the causes modification,[17] to wit:
of action are different so we will deign to entertain such other matters.
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
The practice of law is a privilege and respondent has gravely abused APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
the same: Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of
this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully
The practice of law is a privilege burdened with supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and
conditions. Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, for notarizing a verification which she has executed, gross negligence and
maintenance of the highest degree of morality and faithful violation of the notarial law, Atty. Edita Noe-Lacsamana is
compliance with the rules of the legal profession are the hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months.
conditions required for remaining member of good standing of
the bar and for enjoying the privilege to practice law. Any
breach by lawyer of any of these conditions makes him Respondents Motion for Reconsideration
unworthy of the trust and confidence which courts and clients
must, by necessity, repose in him or unfit to continue in the
exercise of his professional privilege. His misconduct justifies On August 29, 2006, the respondent came to the Court to seek the overturning of the
disciplinary action against him or the withdrawal of his privilege IBP resolution, contending that:
to practice law. (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 Ed., 392; citation
of cases omitted.) I.

What is far worse is that the respondent has taken a habit of making THE METED 6-MONTH SUSPENSION FROM THE LAW PRACTICE
such excuses for similar mistakes she committed. This Commission notes OF THE RESPONDENT IS REPUGNANT TO THE FAILURE OF THE
that the respondent herein is also a complainant in a different case against COMPLAINANT TO SHOW PROOF OF HER ALLEGED GROSS
Atty. Yolando Busmente docketed as CBD case no. 05-1462. In that case, NEGLIGENCE AND VIOLATION OF THE NOTARIAL LAW, AS
again no certification against non-forum shopping was made in that case, but EVENTUALLY SELF-MANIFESTED BY THE COMPLAINANT, WHO,
instead of admitting the lack thereof (as it is not absolutely required in CBD ABSENT KNOWLEDGE OR INVOCATION OF THE
cases) she went on to create a different story that her lawyer was RESPONDENT, WITHDREW HER INSTANT COMPLAINT, AS EMBODIED
negligent. Unfortunately said lawyer is already dead and cannot answer her IN THE JULY 22, 2005-DECISION OF HON. GERMANO FRANCISCO D.
accusations. She tried to pass off another set of certification which allegedly LEGASPI OF BRANCH 17, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT OF MANILA.
was not included with the original documents. What is however telling is that
in all the seven (7) copies submitted to the CBD and that one (1) copy II.
furnished to the respondents in that case, no such certification appears.
THE BLEMISH CAUSED ON THE MORE THAN 26-YEARS OF
This unacceptable pattern of behavior compels us to recommend UNSULLIED REPUTATION OF THE RESPONDENT AS A LAWYER IS
stricter measures to ensure that respondent lawyer is reminded of her COMPELLING HER TO ENTREAT THE HONORABLE BAR CONFIDANT
solemn duty and obligation to be truthful and honest. TO ASSESS AND RECONSIDER THE UNJUST AND SPECULATIVE
PORTRAYAL OF INVESTIGATING COMMISSIONER PATRICK M. VELEZ
IN HIS DECEMBER 8, 2005-REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION TO THE
IBP, THAT RESPONDENT IS GUILTY OF DISHONESTY AND/OR GROSS The agreement between Bides and Ulaso stipulating the withdrawal of the
NEGLIGENCE, WITH AN UNACCEPTABLE PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR, disbarment case against the respondent did not terminate or abate the jurisdiction of the IBP
WHICH ALTHOUGH NOT SPECIFIED, IS COMPATIBLE WITH A and of this Court to continue the present administrative proceeding against the respondent as
DEROGATORY CONCLUSION THAT SHE LACKS THE REQUIRED a member of the Philippine Bar. We explained why in Rayos-Ombac v. Rayos,[18] viz:
CANDOR, INTEGRITY AND PROFESSIONAL DECORUM OF A MEMBER
OF THE BAR, IN REPUGNANCE TO THE MANDATE IN MANUBAY VS. The affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case allegedly executed
GARCIA, 330 SCRA 237, THAT: by complainant does not, in any way, exonerate the respondent. A case of
suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or lack of
The lawyers guilt cannot be presumed. Allegation is interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts
never equivalent to proof and a bare charge cannot be borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct
equated with liability. has been duly proven. xxx. The complainant or the person who called the
attention of the court to the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense a
III. party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good
citizens may have in the proper administration of justice. Hence, if the
THE FALLACIES OF THE COMPLAINANT WERE MISSED, evidence on record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or disbarred
DELIBERATELY OR OTHERWISE, IN THE INVESTIGATION OF THIS despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the charges. xxx.
ADMINISTRATIVE CASE, PARTICULARLY ON THE FACT THAT THE
COMPLAINT IS CONFINED ON A REHASH OF THE QUESTIONED
AMENDED VERIFICATION AND AFFIDAVIT OF NON-FORUM SHOPPING, The respondent next contends that we should reject the disbarment complaint
TWO (2) YEARS AFTER ITS DISPUTE WAS SETTLED AT THE LOWER because it was filed only after the lapse of two years from the occurrence of the cause; and
COURT AND AT THE COURT OF APPEALS, THUS, FILED OUT OF that personal vendetta impelled its filing.
RANCOR OF THE COMPLAINANT FOR HAVING LOST ALL HER CASES
AGAINST THE RESPONDENTS PRO BONO CLIENT, THUS, SHE WAS
UNJUSTLY DENIED OF THE RULE IN SANTOS VS. DICHOSO, 84 SCRA The respondents contention cannot be upheld.
622, THAT:
Neither the lapse of time from the occurrence of the cause nor the motivation for the
The success of a lawyer in his profession depends filing of the complaint diminished the Courts inherent power to discipline a member of the Bar
almost entirely on his reputation. Anything which will harm his whenever appropriate. First of all, the ordinary statutes of limitation had no application to
good name is to be deplored. Private persons and particularly disbarment or suspension proceedings against members of the Bar.[19] Indeed,
disgruntled opponents may not, therefore, be permitted to use such proceedings are sui generis. They are not akin to the trials of actions or suits in which
the courts as vehicles through which to vent their rancor on interests and rights are enforced by the plaintiffs against the defendants, but are rather
members of the bar. (underscoring supplied) investigations into the conduct of the members of the Bar made by the Supreme Court within
the context of its plenary powers expressly granted by the Constitution to regulate the
Ruling practice of law.[20] The proceedings, which the Court may even motu proprio initiate, have
neither plaintiffs nor prosecutors. The public interest is their primary objective, the true
We affirm the findings against the respondent. question for determination being whether or not the respondent members of the Bar
are still fit to be allowed to retain their memberships and to enjoy the privileges appurtenant
A. Preliminary Considerations to such memberships.[21]

The respondent argues that this proceeding should be abated by virtue of its B. Basis for Disciplinary Action
withdrawal by Ulaso pursuant to the compromise agreement concluded in the criminal case
and approved by the trial court. Ulaso insists that the respondents act of signing the amended verification and
affidavit of non-forum shopping for Bides as plaintiff-affiant violated the penal law, the
The respondents argument is unwarranted. 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the Lawyers Oath, the Code of Professional Responsibility,
and the Notarial Law.
In contrast, the respondent maintains that her signature was made not to fool the trial Being a lawyer commissioned as a notary, the respondent was mandated to
court, but only to illustrate to her new secretary how and where Bides should sign the form; discharge with fidelity the sacred duties appertaining to her notarial office. Such duties being
and that the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping, merely a sample- dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest, she could not disregard the
draft, was wrongly attached. requirements and solemnities of the Notarial Law. [27] It was emphatically her primary duty as
a lawyer-notary to obey the laws of the land and to promote respect for the law and legal
Investigating Commissioner Velez found that the respondent had deliberately and processes.[28] She was expected to be in the forefront in the observance and maintenance of
with malice led the trial court to believe that her signature in the amendedverification and the rule of law. She ought to have remembered that a graver responsibility was placed upon
affidavit of non-forum shopping had been that of Bides. her shoulders by virtue of her being a lawyer.[29]

We regard the finding of deliberation and malice to be unjustified. The admitted In imposing the penalty upon the respondent, however, we opt to reprimand her
precedence by the word for of the signature on the amended verification and affidavit of instead of suspending her from the practice of law for three months, as the IBP
non-forum shopping was an indicium that the respondent did not intend to misrepresent the recommended. This we do after we take into account, firstly, the absence of bad faith in her
signature as that of Bides. The apparent resemblance of the signature after the word for notarizing the unsigned document; secondly, the fact that the infraction was the first lodged
with the respondents signature as the notary executing the jurat rendered improbable that against her in her long years of membership in the Bar; and thirdly, her recuperating from the
the respondent had intended to deceive, considering that the respondent would have instead debilitating stroke that had left her unable to perform any work since July 11, 2007. [30]
written the name Irene Bides or forged the signature of Bides had she wanted to pass the
signature off as that of Bides.
ACCORDINGLY, we modify the recommendation of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines by reprimanding respondent Atty. Edita Noe-Lacsamana, with a warning that a
The respondent, by notarizing the document sans the signature of Bides, was only
similar infraction in the future will be dealt with more severely.
anticipating that Bides would subsequently sign, because, after all, Bides had already signed
the original verification and affidavit. Ostensibly, the amended verification and affidavit of non-
forum shopping was intended to replace the original one attached to the initiatory pleading of SO ORDERED.
Bides. Thus, bad faith did not motivate the respondent into notarizing the
amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping.

The lack of bad faith notwithstanding, we nonetheless concur with the findings of
Investigating Commissioner Velez that the respondents notarizing theamended verification
and affidavit of non-forum shopping in the absence of Bides as the affiant constituted a clear
breach of the notarial protocol and was highly censurable. [22]

The jurat is that end part of the affidavit in which the notary certifies that the
instrument is sworn to before her. As such, the notarial certification is essential. Considering
that notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act, [23] the faithful observance and
utmost respect of the legal solemnity of the oath in the jurat are sacrosanct.[24]

Specifically, the notarial certification contained in the jurat of the amended verification
and affidavit of non-forum shopping SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO BEFORE ME, on this
18th day of June 2003, affiant IRENE BIDES, showing to me her CTC Nos. 11833475 issued
on November 21, 2002, in Manila[25] indicated both the necessity for the physical presence
of Bides as the affiant and the fact that the signing was done in the presence of the
respondent as the notary. The physical presence of Bides was required in order to have her
as the affiant swear before the respondent that she was that person and in order to enable
the respondent as the notary to ascertain whether Bides had voluntarily and freely executed
the affidavit.[26] Thus, the respondent, by signing as notary even before Bides herself could
appear before her, failed to give due observance and respect to the solemnity.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court x-----------------------------------------------------x

Manila

THIRD DIVISION DECISION

JOHN CHRISTEN S. HEGNA, PERALTA, J.:


A.C. No. 5955
Complainant,

Before this Court is a letter-complaint [1] dated June 3, 2002, filed by complainant John
Present: Christen S. Hegna with the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) against respondent Atty.
Goering G.C. Paderanga for deliberately falsifying documents, which caused delay in the
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J., execution of the decision rendered by the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCC), Branch 8,
Cebu City, in Civil Case No. R-45146, entitled John Hegna v. Mr. & Mrs. Eliseo Panaguinip.
Chairperson,
- versus -
CHICO-NAZARIO,

VELASCO, JR., Herein complainant was the lessee of a portion of Lot No. 5529, situated at Barangay
Quiot Pardo, Cebu City, which was owned by the heirs of Sabina Baclayon. The heirs of
NACHURA, and
Baclayon, through their representative Gema Sabandija, entered into a contract of lease with
PERALTA, JJ. complainant for a period of ten (10) years, commencing from June 26, 1994, with a rental
of P3,000.00 per year, or P250.00 per month.
ATTY. GOERING G.C. PADERANGA,

Respondent. Promulgated:

September 8, 2009 On September 26, 2001, complainant filed a complaint for forcible entry against therein
defendants docketed as Civil Case No. R-45146, entitled John Hegna v. Mr. & Mrs. Eliseo
Panaguinip, with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Branch 8 of Cebu City. In said
complaint, he alleged that in about the second week of March 1996, therein defendants
entered the vacant portion of the leased premises by means of force, intimidation, threat,
strategy or stealth; destroyed the barbed wire enclosing the leased premises of complainant,
then built a shop on the said premises without complainants consent. He averred that despite
his demands upon therein defendants to vacate the premises and demolish the structure built
thereon, the latter failed and refused to comply.[2]
When therein defendants failed to file their Answer, complainant filed a motion that
judgment be rendered in default.
On March 1, 2002, therein defendants requested the complainant to move for the
dismissal of the complaint against them so as to prevent the issuance of the writ of execution
thereon. While therein defendants wanted to amicably settle the case, however, they failed to
On December 21, 2001, the MTCC rendered a Decision in favor of complainant, mention the proposed settlement amount stated in the decision dated December 21, 2001.
ordering therein defendants to vacate the leased premises and to pay complainant
compensatory damages for illegal occupation and use of the subject property, as well as
attorneys fees and costs of suit. The dispositive portion of the decision reads as follows:
Subsequently, respondent Atty. Goering G.C. Paderanga filed an Affidavit of Third-Party
Claim[5] dated March 5, 2002 before Sheriff Suarin, the sheriff executing the judgment in the
said civil case. In the said affidavit, respondent claimed that he was the owner of Lot No.
WHEREFORE, this Court directs judgment against Defendants MR. 3653-D-1 and a FUSO (Canter series) vehicle, which he bought from therein defendants
& MRS. ELISEO PANAGUINIP and directs them to vacate Lot No. 5529 over on November 27, 2001,[6] and December 12, 2001,[7] respectively, both of which could be
the portion in an area of 1,596 square meters thereof, as leased to herein erroneously levied by a writ of execution issued in the civil case.
Plaintiff, situated at Barangay Quiot Pardo, Cebu City, and to pay Plaintiff the
sum of PESOS: ONE THOUSAND (P1,000) per month from the second
week of March 1996 until the present date by way of compensatory damages
for the illegal occupation and use of the contested property, subject to 12% On April 3, 2002, Sheriff Suarin tried to levy therein defendants parcel of land and
annual legal interest until fully paid, and thereafter pay the same amount per motor vehicle, but failed to do so because of the third- party claim filed by respondent.
month until they vacate the subject property hereof, and to further pay [8]
Subsequently, on April 24, 2002, respondent filed a Complaint [9] for Annulment of Judgment
Plaintiff the sum of P5,000.00 by way of Attorneys Fees, and the costs of this with prayer for the issuance of an injunction and temporary restraining order (TRO) with
suit. damages against complainant before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 13 of Cebu City,
docketed as Case No. CEB-27614, entitled Mr. Eliseo Panaguinip, Mrs. Ma. Teresa
Panaguinip and Goering G.C. Paderanga v. John Hegna, Mila Hegna, Judge Edgemelo C.
Rosales and Edilberto R. Suarin.
SO ORDERED.[3]

In an Order[10] dated May 13, 2002, the RTC issued a writ of preliminary injunction
enjoining the MTCC to desist from further proceeding with the civil case, and the Sheriff to
desist from conducting a public auction of the levied properties of therein defendants. The
On February 8, 2002, the MTCC granted the Motion for Execution of Judgment filed by RTC subsequently dismissed respondents complaint for annulment of judgment in its
complainant, and issued a Writ of Execution on February 18, 2002. Decision[11] dated June 29, 2006.

On February 21, 2002, Sheriff Edilberto Suarin of the MTCC, Branch 8 of Cebu City In a letter dated June 3, 2002, filed with the OBC, complainant alleged that he was
levied on certain personal properties of therein defendants. [4] filing a complaint against respondent for deliberately falsifying documents, causing delay and
a possible denial of justice to be served in Civil Case No. R-45146. He alleged that after the
decision in the said civil case was rendered, therein defendants called him on the telephone, the fact that he failed to register the same. Also, he alleged that the MTCC Decision
requesting the stay of the execution of judgment, as the latter would be settling their accounts dated December 21, 2001 was unjust and void due to lack of jurisdiction, and for being based
within ten days, but they failed to comply. on spurious claims.

On March 14, 2003, complainant filed a criminal complaint [12] for falsification of public In a Resolution[15] dated July 9, 2003, the Court referred the administrative complaint to
documents against respondent; false testimony and perjury against therein defendants; and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
falsification under paragraph 6, Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code against Atty. Elena recommendation/decision within ninety (90) days from receipt of the record.
Marie Madarang, notary public, before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cebu City. Anent
the complaint against respondent, complainant averred that the third-party claim was full of
irregularities, to wit: (a) the Deed of Absolute Sale involving Lot No. 3653-D-1, covered by
TCT No. T-11127, dated November 27, 2001, had no record of transfer in the Register of On November 21, 2003, the parties appeared in a mandatory preliminary conference
Deeds of Cebu City; (b) the registration of the motor vehicle allegedly owned by respondent and, upon termination thereof, were ordered to submit their respective verified position
by virtue of the Deed of Absolute Sale dated December 21, 2001 did not reflect any change of papers within ten (10) days, after which the case would be deemed submitted for resolution.
ownership from May 4, 2001; (c) the two Deeds of Absolute Sale dated November 27, 2001 [16]
Complainant and respondent submitted their position papers on December 11, 2003,
and December 21, 2001 showed that both were notarized under Series of 2000 of the notary [17]
and December 2, 2003,[18] respectively.
public; (d) Notarial Register No. 177 on page 37, Book II showed erasures and tampering
done by substituting the intended entry of Joint Affidavit of Two Disinterested Person to a
Deed of Absolute Sale under the names of the spouses Eliseo and Ma. Teresa Panaguinip,
therein defendants, representing the sale of Lot No. 3653-D-1 under TCT No. 11127; and On June 1, 2005, the Investigating Commissioner of the IBP submitted his Report and
Notarial Register No. 188 on Page 39, Book II of Atty. Madarang also had tampering and Recommendation, which contained the following observations:
erasures, as the entry of Affidavit of Loss was substituted with a Deed of Absolute Sale under
the name of Ma. Teresa Panaguinip representing the sale of the FUSO (Canter series); and
(e) the Community Tax Certificate number appearing in both Deeds of Absolute Sale was
actually issued to another person, not to therein defendant Ma. Teresa Panaguinip. III. FINDINGS:

On April 28, 2003, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cebu City dismissed the criminal Based on the resolution of the City Prosecutors office in Cebu City,
complaint for falsification of public documents against respondent for lack of prima the complaint against the Panaguinip spouses and Attys. Paderanga and
facie evidence of guilt, as the allegations therein were similar to the instant administrative Madarang (the notary public) was dismissed for lack of prima facie of guilt.
complaint.[13] Such resolution is accorded great weight but certainly not conclusive
considering the administrative nature of this instant complaint. In criminal
prosecutions, a prima facie evidence is necessary but in this instant case,
substantial evidence is all that [is] necessary to support a guilty verdict.
In his Comment[14] dated April 29, 2003 on the administrative complaint filed against
him, respondent argued that he did not falsify any document and maintained that he had
already satisfactorily explained the irregularities before the Office of the City Prosecutor. He
added that the genuineness and due execution of the deeds of sale had not been affected by
According to the Respondent, it was perfectly normal for him to obtain attached to the Complaint, was never refuted in any way by Respondent
properties without registering the same under his own name. In his Position Paderanga who may have skirted the issue by inadvertence or by design.
Paper, he even cited several other transactions where he merely possessed The letter datedMarch 1, 2002 indicates that the Panaguinip spouses still
Deeds of Sale but not Certification of Registration or Transfer Certificates of believe and assert ownership over these properties despite the existence of
Title. He alleged that for ESTATE PLANNING purposes, he intentionally left a Deed of Sale allegedly dated March 5, 2002. Complainant also went further
these properties in the name of the previous owner. The alleged by attaching an Affidavit by a Third Person who stated that the Panaguinip
discrepancies in the notarization were fully explained as well. The notary spouses still assert ownership over the parcel of land and vehicle.
public explained that the erasures in her Notarial Register were made to
correct mistakes so that entries will speak the truth. These corrections
include the entries under entry number 177 to indicate the correct entry
which was the Deed ofSale executed [by] the spouses Panaguinip. The Moreover, Complainant alleged that Respondent invited him
original entry, Affidavit of Two Disinterested Persons, was actually notarized consecutive times after the issuance of the writ of execution in the lower
but was later cancelled at the request of the same affiants. The full court; the first was at the Majestic Restaurant, the second was at Club Cebu
explanation of these affiants, very doubtful and highly suspect, was at Waterfront Hotel. There was an offer to settle the judgment award
nevertheless taken into consideration by the Prosecutor for reasons known of P100,000. During the first meeting, the offer was P3,000, on the second
only to him. The Respondents also managed to convince the Cebu meeting, this time with the Panaguinip spouses, the offer was P10,000.
Prosecutor that the discrepancy in the Residence Certificates was due to When Complainant refused to settle with Respondent, he received a copy of
human error! the Affidavit of Third-Party Claim a few days later.

The parties did not stipulate this particular issue; however, this
Commissioner feels that for the final disposition of this case, it is worthy to
Not necessarily disagreeing with the findings of the City Prosecutor of mention Article 1491 of the Civil Code. It specifically states that:
Cebu City, the Resolution dismissing the case for falsification is not entirely
convincing. There were certainly evidentiary matters which could have been
better addressed by a judge, namely, the affidavit of the secretary of the
notary public, the explanation in the incorrect entries in notarial register, the Art. 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by
affidavit of the two (2) witnesses who sought the cancellation of their original purchase, even at public or judicial auction, either in person
affidavit, and the explanation of Paderanga himself regarding the difference or through the mediation of another:
in the dates.

x x x
Complainant is a layman who filed his own Position Paper unaided by
counsel while Respondent is a lawyer. Nevertheless, Complainant managed
to present one (1) piece of evidence not squarely addressed by Respondent
Paderanga: the letter handwritten by Respondents clients, written in (5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of superior
Cebuano, asking the Complainant for mercy and forgiveness in relation to and inferior courts, and other officers and employees
the forcible entry case. Such letter was no longer necessary if indeed there connected with the administration of justice, the property and
was a GENUINE transfer of ownership of properties owned by the rights in litigations or levied upon execution before the court
Panaguinip spouses to their lawyer, Respondent Paderanga. This letter, within whose jurisdiction or territory they exercise their
respective functions; this prohibition includes the act of IV. RECOMMENDATION
acquiring by assignment and shall apply to lawyers, with
respect to the property and rights which may be the object of
any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their
profession. While Complainant cannot fully prove the existence of falsity in the
execution of the Affidavit of Third Party Claim, this Commissioner is
x x x convinced that there was indeed an anomaly which constitutes a violation of
the Canons of Professional Responsibility.

This is a classic case where a lawyer acquired the interests of his


client in certain properties subject for execution. Regardless of the courts A lawyer ought to have known that he cannot acquire the property of
apparent lack of jurisdiction, Respondent Paderanga acquired the two (2) his client which is in litigation. x x x Respondent necessitates a heavy penalty
matters subject for execution in the forcible entry case in violation of [the] since the circumstances surrounding the transfer of ownership of properties
Canon of Legal Ethics. A thing is said to be in litigation not only if there is tend to indicate an anomalous transfer aimed to subvert the proper
some contest or litigation over it in court, but also the moment that becomes administration of justice. The numerous discrepancies in the transfer
subject to the judicial action of the judge. x x x document, some dismissed as clerical errors and other explained by
incredulous stories by way of affidavits, compounded by the letter left
uncontested by Respondent Paderanga, inevitably lead a rational person to
conclude that Paderanga may not have acquired the properties prior to the
In all likelihood, although Complainant failed to get a favorable judicial action of execution. Even if the City Prosecutor found no prima facie
resolution from the City Prosecutors office in Cebu City, the Affidavit of Third case of falsification, this Commissioner finds substantial evidence to support
Party Claim was simulated to defeat the rights of Complainant herein. It is a conclusion that Respondent Paderanga committed an ethical violation and
immaterial that the decision of the lower court granting a judgment award should be meted the penalty of suspension of five (5) years from the practice
was subsequently reversed or nullified. It is immaterial that the City of law.[19]
Prosecutor did not find a prima facie case of falsification. The fact remains
that there was a MULTITUDE of irregularities surrounding the execution of
the Affidavit and, coupled with the letter sent by the Panaguinip spouses left
unrebutted by Respondent Paderanga, there is substantial evidence that the In a Resolution dated December 17, 2005, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
Affidavit of Third Party Claim was purposely filed to thwart the enforcement of approved, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
the decision in the forcible entry case. Commissioner, viz:

It is worthy to note that the proceedings before the prosecutors office x x x finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record
did not take into consideration the handwritten letter from the Panaguinip and the applicable laws and rules, and considering that a lawyer ought to
spouses. For whatever reason, Complainant did not present such letter, know that he cannot acquire the property of his client which is in litigation,
which if he did, the prosecutor may come up with a different resolution. Atty. Goering Paderanga is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
one (1) year.[20]
respondent, stating that the latter was the owner of the property and motor vehicle. On the
other hand, respondent claimed that the meetings took place in April 2002, after he had filed
On March 23, 2006, respondent filed with the Court a Motion for Reconsideration of the a third-party claim.
Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors and, on August 18, 2006, a Supplemental Motion
for Reconsideration.

Had respondent been the rightful owner of a parcel of land and motor vehicle that were
still registered in the name of defendants-spouses, he should have immediately disclosed
In a Resolution dated August 23, 2006, the Court referred the motion for such fact immediately and filed a third- party claim, as time was of the essence. Moreover, in
reconsideration to the IBP. their letter dated March 1, 2002, defendants-spouses did not mention any transfer of
ownership of the said properties to respondent, as the former still believed that they owned
the same. The continued possession and ownership by defendants-spouses was also
attested to by a certain Brigida Lines, who executed an Affidavit [22] in favor of complainant.
On December 11, 2008, the IBP issued a Resolution denying the motion for
reconsideration, and affirmed its Resolution dated December 17, 2005.

Based on the foregoing, the Court is more inclined to believe that when complainant
and defendants-spouses failed to reach an agreement, respondent came forward as a third-
Under Section 27 of Rule 138[21] of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be party claimant to prevent the levy and execution of said properties. He, therefore, violated
disbarred or suspended on any of the following grounds: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice or other Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,[23]which provides that a lawyer shall not
gross misconduct in office; (3) grossly immoral conduct; (4) conviction of a crime involving engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Under this rule, conduct has
moral turpitude; (5) violation of the lawyers oath; (6) willful disobedience of any lawful order been construed not to pertain exclusively to the performance of a lawyers professional
of a superior court; and (7) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without authority. In duties.[24] In previous cases,[25] the Court has held that a lawyer may be disbarred or
the present case, the Court finds respondent administratively liable for engaging in dishonest suspended for misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him
and deceitful conduct. to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor; or unworthy to
continue as an officer of the court.

Although respondent denied having acted as counsel for therein defendants, the
Spouses Panaguinip, in the forcible entry case filed by complainant, his involvement in the Notably, in the falsification case earlier filed, complainant was able to cite several
said case was still highly suspect. After the writ of execution had been issued on February 18, irregularities in the documents evidencing the deeds of sale in question: the non-registration
2002, he went with defendants-spouses to amicably settle with complainant on two separate by respondent of the sale transactions; a Community Tax Certificate number appearing on
occasions, ostensibly to protect his own interests. Complainant claimed that during those two said deeds which was different from that issued to defendant Ma. Teresa Panaguinip; and the
meetings, respondent did not disclose his ownership over the properties in question, leading erasures of the entries pertaining to said deeds from the Notarial Register.
the former to believe that respondent was, in fact, the counsel for defendants-spouses. He
averred that respondent and defendant spouses initially offered a settlement of P3,000.00,
which he refused as he had already spent P10,000.00 on court expenses. On their second
meeting, the offer had been raised to P25,000.00, which again complainant declined, as the Of these irregularities, only one can directly be attributable to respondent his non-
latter had, at that time, spent P25,000.00. Complainant maintained that it was only after said registration of the sale transaction. He argues that the sales were valid despite non-
meetings had transpired that he received the affidavit of a third-party claim executed by registration, and maintained that it was perfectly normal and regular for a lawyer like him to
choose not to register and cause the transfer of title of the land and the FUSO jeepney after did not express the true intention of the parties, he was found guilty of gross misconduct and
the execution of the Deeds of Sale, so the transactions would not appear in the records of the suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months.
Bureau of Internal Revenue, the City Assessor or the Register of Deeds, on the Land
Registration Office. He added that he had also bought four lots, which had not yet been In Yap-Paras v. Paras,[31] where therein respondent lawyer applied for free patents over
transferred to his name, for estate planning or speculation purposes. He claimed that he lands owned by another person and not in the formers physical possession, he was found
found it legally wise not to immediately register after buying so that he would not pay for the guilty of committing a falsehood in violation of the Lawyers Oath and the Code of
expenses of the sale and transfer twice, once he decided to sell; or place them in his Professional Responsibility and suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year, with a
childrens name, and avoid paying estate and inheritance taxes upon his death. [26] warning that the commission of the same or similar offense in the future would result in the
imposition of a more severe penalty.

In the present case, the Investigating Commissioner and the IBP Board of Governors
While the act of registration of a document is not necessary in order to give it legal recommended a penalty of suspension to be imposed upon respondent for five (5) years and
effect as between the parties, requirements for the recording of the instruments are designed one (1) year, respectively. The Court, however, believes that a penalty of one (1) year is
to prevent frauds and to permit and require the public to act with the presumption that a more commensurate to respondents deceitful and dishonest conduct.
recorded instrument exists and is genuine. [27]However, while the RTC was correct in holding
that said omission on respondents part may not be considered falsification, he had shown an
intent to defraud the government, which had the right to collect revenue from him, as well as
from other persons who may have an interest in said properties. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Goering G.C. Paderanga is found guilty of engaging in
dishonest and deceitful conduct, and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1)
year, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense in the future would
result in the imposition of a more severe penalty.
Respondent violated the Lawyers Oath, which mandates that he should support the
Constitution, obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities
therein, and do no falsehood or not consent to the doing of any in court. Further, he has also
failed to live up to the standard set by law that he should refrain from counseling or abetting Let a copy of this Decision be entered into respondents record as a member of the
activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. Bar, and notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of thePhilippines, and on the
[28]
Respondents act of non-registration of the deeds of sale to avoid paying tax may not be Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
illegal per se; but, as a servant of the law, a lawyer should make himself an exemplar for
others to emulate. The responsibilities of a lawyer are greater than those of a private citizen.
He is looked up to in the community.[29] Respondent must have forgotten that a lawyer must
refrain from committing acts which give even a semblance of impropriety to the profession. This Decision shall be immediately executory.

In cases wherein lawyers have similarly engaged in deceitful and dishonest conduct, SO ORDERED.
the Court has imposed the penalty of suspension from the practice of law ranging from six (6)
months to one (1) year.

In Spouses Donato v. Asuncion, Sr.,[30] where therein respondent lawyer filed a


complaint for reformation of instrument to obtain financial gain, and prepared a contract which
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE

PHILIPPINES, COMMISSION

ON BAR DISCIPLINE, BOARD

OF GOVERNORS, PASIG CITY

and ATTY. FREDDIE A. VENIDA,

Respondents. Promulgated:

September 3, 2009

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

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

FIRST DIVISION

ROLANDO SAA, G.R. No. 132826 Petitioner Rolanda Saa filed a complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty.
Freddie A. Venida on December 27, 1991 in this Court. In his complaint, Saa stated that Atty.
Petitioner, Venidas act of filing two cases[1] against him was oppressive and constituted unethical
practice.[2]
Present:

In a resolution dated February 17, 1992, [3] Atty. Venida was required to comment on
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, the complaint against him. In his belated and partial compliance [4] with the February 17, 1992
resolution, Atty. Venida averred that Saa did not specifically allege his supposed infractions.
CARPIO, He asked to be furnished a copy of the complaint. He also prayed for the dismissal of the
complaint.
- versus - CORONA,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO and


Despite receipt of a copy of the complaint,[5] Atty. Venida still did not file his complete
BERSAMIN, JJ. comment within 10 days as required in the February 17, 1992 resolution. Consequently, we
issued the June 14, 1995 resolution [6] requiring Atty. Venida to show cause why he should not convincing proof that Atty. Venida was motivated by a desire to file baseless legal actions, the
be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for failure to comply with the February 17, 1992 findings of the IBP stand.
resolution.

Nonetheless, we strongly disapprove of Atty. Venidas blatant refusal to comply with


Finally, Atty. Venida filed his full comment [7] on September 4, 1995 which, without various court directives. As a lawyer, he had the responsibility to follow legal orders and
doubt, was a mere reiteration of his partial comment. Atty. Venida also added that he was processes.[16] Yet, he disregarded this very important canon of legal ethics when he filed only
merely performing his duty as counsel of Saas adversaries. [8] a partial comment on January 26, 1993 or 11 months after being directed to do so in the
February 17, 1992 resolution. Worse, he filed his complete comment only on June 14, 1995
The matter was thereafter referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for or a little over three years after due date. In both instances, he managed to delay the
investigation, report and recommendation. In a report dated August 14, 1997, Commissioner resolution of the case, a clear violation of Canon 12 [17] and Rules 1.03[18] and 12.04[19] of the
George S. Briones recommended the dismissal of the complaint for lack of merit. [9] It found no Code of Professional Responsibility.
evidence that the two cases filed by Atty. Venida against Saa were acts of oppression or
unethical practice.[10]

Yet again, Atty. Venida failed to file a memorandum within the period required in our
May 17, 2004 resolution.[20] Despite the 30-day deadline to file his memorandum, [21] he still did
The Board of Governors of the IBP resolved to adopt and approve the investigating not comply. As if taunting authority, he continually ignored our directives for him to show
commissioners report and dismissed the complaint. [11] Saa filed a motion for reconsideration cause and comply with the May 17, 2004 resolution.[22]
but was denied.[12]

Atty. Venida apologized for the late filing of both his partial and full comments. But
Saa now questions the resolution of the IBP in this petition for certiorari. [13] He tried to exculpate himself by saying he inadvertently misplaced the complaint and had a
ascribes grave abuse of discretion to the IBP when it adopted and affirmed the report of the heavy workload (for his partial comment). He even had the temerity to blame a strong
investigating commissioner dismissing his complaint. According to him, the investigating typhoon for the loss of all his files, the complaint included (for his full comment). His excuses
commissioners report did not at all mention the dismissal of OMB 1-90-1118 and A.C. P-90- tax the imagination. Nevertheless, his apologies notwithstanding, we find his conduct utterly
513, even if the existence of both cases was admitted by the parties. The dismissal of his unacceptable for a member of the legal profession. He must not be allowed to evade
complaint for disbarment was therefore grounded entirely on speculations, surmises and accountability for his omissions.
conjectures.

A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as an attorney
We disagree. for violation of the lawyers oath and/or for breach of the ethics of the legal profession as
embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.[23] We reiterate our ruling in Catu v. Atty.
Rellosa:[24]
Grave abuse of discretion refers to a capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or despotic
exercise of judgment by reason of passion or personal hostility as is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction.[14] It must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion or a virtual refusal to Indeed, a lawyer who disobeys the law disrespects it. In so doing, he
perform the duty enjoined or to act in contemplation of law.[15] A decision is not deemed disregards legal ethics and disgraces the dignity of the legal profession.
tainted with grave abuse of discretion simply because a party affected disagrees with it.

Public confidence in the law and in lawyers may be eroded by the


There was no grave abuse of discretion in this case. There was in fact a dearth of irresponsible and improper conduct of a member of the bar. Every lawyer
evidence showing oppressive or unethical behavior on the part of Atty. Venida. Without
should act and comport himself in a manner that promotes public confidence - versus - CHICO-NAZARIO, J.,
in the integrity of the legal profession. Acting Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,*
Sen. MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO, VELASCO, JR.,
Respondent. NACHURA, and
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED IN PART. The charge of PERALTA, JJ.
oppressive or unethical behavior against respondent is dismissed. However, for violation of
Canons 1 and 12 and Rules 1.03 and 12.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as Promulgated:
well as the lawyers oath, Atty. Freddie A. Venida is herebySUSPENDED from the practice of
law for one (1) year, effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He is August 25, 2009
further STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar offense shall be dealt with x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
more severely.
DECISION
Let a copy of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and entered
into the records of respondent Atty. Freddie A. Venida. The Office of the Court Administrator
shall furnish copies to all the courts of the land for their information and guidance. VELASCO, JR., J.:

SO ORDERED. In his sworn letter/complaint dated December 22, 2006, with enclosures, Antero J.
Pobre invites the Courts attention to the following excerpts of Senator Miriam Defensor-
Santiagos speech delivered on the Senate floor:
x x x I am not angry. I am irate. I am foaming in the mouth. I am
homicidal. I am suicidal. I am humiliated, debased, degraded. And I am not
only that, I feel like throwing up to be living my middle years in a country of
this nature. I am nauseated. I spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio
Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested
in the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded by idiots. I would
rather be in another environment but not in the Supreme Court of idiots x x
x.

To Pobre, the foregoing statements reflected a total disrespect on the part of the
speaker towards then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and the other members of the Court
and constituted direct contempt of court. Accordingly, Pobre asks that disbarment
proceedings or other disciplinary actions be taken against the lady senator.

In her comment on the complaint dated April 25, 2007, Senator Santiago, through
counsel, does not deny making the aforequoted statements. She, however, explained that
those statements were covered by the constitutional provision on parliamentary immunity,
being part of a speech she delivered in the discharge of her duty as member of Congress or
THIRD DIVISION its committee. The purpose of her speech, according to her, was to bring out in the open
controversial anomalies in governance with a view to future remedial legislation. She averred
that she wanted to expose what she believed to be an unjust act of the Judicial Bar Council
ANTERO J. POBRE, A.C. No. 7399 [JBC], which, after sending out public invitations for nomination to the soon to-be vacated
Complainant, position of Chief Justice, would eventually inform applicants that only incumbent justices of
Present: the Supreme Court would qualify for nomination. She felt that the JBC should have at least
given an advanced advisory that non-sitting members of the Court, like her, would not be
considered for the position of Chief Justice. The Court wishes to express its deep concern about the language Senator Santiago,
a member of the Bar, used in her speech and its effect on the administration of justice. To the
The immunity Senator Santiago claims is rooted primarily on the provision of Article Court, the lady senator has undoubtedly crossed the limits of decency and good professional
VI, Section 11 of the Constitution, which provides: A Senator or Member of the House of conduct. It is at once apparent that her statements in question were intemperate and highly
Representative shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be improper in substance. To reiterate, she was quoted as stating that she wanted to spit on the
privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. No member shall be questioned face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, and calling
nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any the Court a Supreme Court of idiots.
committee thereof. Explaining the import of the underscored portion of the provision, the
Court, in Osmea, Jr. v. Pendatun, said: The lady senator alluded to In Re: Vicente Sotto.[6] We draw her attention to the
Our Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity which is a ensuing passage in Sotto that she should have taken to heart in the first place:
fundamental privilege cherished in every legislative assembly of the
democratic world. As old as the English Parliament, its purpose is to enable x x x [I]f the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity
and encourage a representative of the public to discharge his public trust of this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice therefrom, they
with firmness and success for it is indispensably necessary that he should might be driven to take the law into their own hands, and disorder and
enjoy the fullest liberty of speech and that he should be protected from perhaps chaos would be the result.
resentment of every one, however, powerful, to whom the exercise of that
liberty may occasion offense.[1]

No lawyer who has taken an oath to maintain the respect due to the courts should be
As American jurisprudence puts it, this legislative privilege is founded upon long
allowed to erode the peoples faith in the judiciary. In this case, the lady senator clearly
experience and arises as a means of perpetuating inviolate the functioning process of the
violated Canon 8, Rule 8.01 and Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which
legislative department. Without parliamentary immunity, parliament, or its equivalent, would
respectively provide:
degenerate into a polite and ineffective debating forum. Legislators are immune from
deterrents to the uninhibited discharge of their legislative duties, not for their private
Canon 8, Rule 8.01.A lawyer shall not, in his professional
indulgence, but for the public good. The privilege would be of little value if they could be
dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.
subjected to the cost and inconvenience and distractions of a trial upon a conclusion of the
pleader, or to the hazard of a judgment against them based upon a judges speculation as to
Canon 11.A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to
the motives.[2]
the courts and to the judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by
others.
This Court is aware of the need and has in fact been in the forefront in upholding the
institution of parliamentary immunity and promotion of free speech. Neither has the Court lost
sight of the importance of the legislative and oversight functions of the Congress that enable
Senator/Atty. Santiago is a cut higher than most lawyers. Her achievements speak for
this representative body to look diligently into every affair of government, investigate and
themselves. She was a former Regional Trial Court judge, a law professor, an oft-cited
denounce anomalies, and talk about how the country and its citizens are being
authority on constitutional and international law, an author of numerous law textbooks, and an
served. Courts do not interfere with the legislature or its members in the manner they
elected senator of the land. Needless to stress, Senator Santiago, as a member of the Bar
perform their functions in the legislative floor or in committee rooms. Any claim of an unworthy
and officer of the court, like any other, is duty-bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this
purpose or of the falsity and mala fides of the statement uttered by the member of the
Court and to maintain the respect due its members. Lawyers in public service are keepers of
Congress does not destroy the privilege.[3] The disciplinary authority of the assembly[4] and
public faith and are burdened with the higher degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher
the voters, not the courts, can properly discourage or correct such abuses committed in the
than their brethren in private practice.[7] Senator Santiago should have known, as any
name of parliamentary immunity.[5]
perceptive individual, the impact her statements would make on the peoples faith in the
integrity of the courts.
For the above reasons, the plea of Senator Santiago for the dismissal of the
As Senator Santiago alleged, she delivered her privilege speech as a prelude to
complaint for disbarment or disciplinary action is well taken. Indeed, her privilege speech is
crafting remedial legislation on the JBC. This allegation strikes the Court as an afterthought in
not actionable criminally or in a disciplinary proceeding under the Rules of Court. It is felt,
light of the insulting tenor of what she said. We quote the passage once more:
however, that this could not be the last word on the matter.
The Court, besides being authorized to promulgate rules concerning pleading,
x x x I am not angry. I am irate. I am foaming in the mouth. I am practice, and procedure in all courts, exercises specific authority to promulgate rules
homicidal. I am suicidal. I am humiliated, debased, degraded. And I am not governing the Integrated Bar with the end in view that the integration of the Bar will, among
only that, I feel like throwing up to be living my middle years in a country of other things:
this nature. I am nauseated. I spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio
Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested (4) Shield the judiciary, which traditionally cannot defend itself except
in the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded by idiots. I would within its own forum, from the assaults that politics and self interest may level
rather be in another environment but not in the Supreme Court of idiots x x x. at it, and assist it to maintain its integrity, impartiality and independence;
(Emphasis ours.)
xxxx

A careful re-reading of her utterances would readily show that her statements were (11) Enforce rigid ethical standards x x x. [9]
expressions of personal anger and frustration at not being considered for the post of Chief
Justice. In a sense, therefore, her remarks were outside the pale of her official parliamentary
functions. Even parliamentary immunity must not be allowed to be used as a vehicle to In Re: Letter Dated 21 February 2005 of Atty. Noel S. Sorreda,[10] we reiterated our
ridicule, demean, and destroy the reputation of the Court and its magistrates, nor as armor for pronouncement in Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer[11] that the duty of attorneys to the
personal wrath and disgust. Authorities are agreed that parliamentary immunity is not an courts can only be maintained by rendering no service involving any disrespect to the judicial
individual privilege accorded the individual members of the Parliament or Congress for their office which they are bound to uphold. The Court wrote in Rheem of the Philippines:
personal benefit, but rather a privilege for the benefit of the people and the institution that
represents them. x x x As explicit is the first canon of legal ethics which pronounces
that [i]t is the duty of a lawyer to maintain towards the Courts a respectful
To be sure, Senator Santiago could have given vent to her anger without indulging in attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but
insulting rhetoric and offensive personalities. for the maintenance of its supreme importance. That same canon, as a
corollary, makes it peculiarly incumbent upon lawyers to support the courts
Lest it be overlooked, Senator Santiagos outburst was directly traceable to what she against unjust criticism and clamor. And more. The attorneys oath solemnly
considered as an unjust act the JBC had taken in connection with her application for the binds him to a conduct that should be with all good fidelity x x x to the
position of Chief Justice. But while the JBC functions under the Courts supervision, its courts.
individual members, save perhaps for the Chief Justice who sits as the JBCs ex-
officio chairperson,[8] have no official duty to nominate candidates for appointment to the
position of Chief Justice. The Court is, thus, at a loss to understand Senator Santiagos Also, in Sorreda, the Court revisited its holding in Surigao Mineral Reservation Board
wholesale and indiscriminate assault on the members of the Court and her choice of critical v. Cloribel[12] that:
and defamatory words against all of them.
A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, like the court itself, an
At any event, equally important as the speech and debate clause of Art. VI, Sec. 11 of instrument or agency to advance the ends of justice. His duty is to uphold
the Constitution is Sec. 5(5) of Art. VIII of the Constitution that provides: the dignity and authority of the courts to which he owes fidelity, not to
promote distrust in the administration of justice. Faith in the courts, a lawyer
Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers: should seek to preserve. For, to undermine the judicial edifice is disastrous
to the continuity of government and to the attainment of the liberties of the
xxxx people. Thus has it been said of a lawyer that [a]s an officer of the court, it
is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper
constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the administration of justice.[13]
admission to the practice of the law, the Integrated Bar, and legal The lady senator belongs to the legal profession bound by the exacting injunction of a
assistance to the underprivileged. (Emphasis ours.) strict Code. Society has entrusted that profession with the administration of the law and
dispensation of justice. Generally speaking, a lawyer holding a government office may not be
disciplined as a member of the Bar for misconduct committed while in the discharge of official violated the rules of her own chamber. It is unfortunate that her peers bent backwards and
duties, unless said misconduct also constitutes a violation of his/her oath as a lawyer.[14] avoided imposing their own rules on her.

Lawyers may be disciplined even for any conduct committed in their private capacity,
as long as their misconduct reflects their want of probity or good demeanor, [15] a good Finally, the lady senator questions Pobres motives in filing his complaint, stating that
character being an essential qualification for the admission to the practice of law and for disciplinary proceedings must be undertaken solely for the public welfare. We cannot agree
continuance of such privilege. When the Code of Professional Responsibility or the Rules of with her more. We cannot overstress that the senators use of intemperate language to
Court speaks of conduct or misconduct, the reference is not confined to ones behavior demean and denigrate the highest court of the land is a clear violation of the duty of respect
exhibited in connection with the performance of lawyers professional duties, but also covers lawyers owe to the courts.[21]
any misconduct, whichalbeit unrelated to the actual practice of their professionwould
show them to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges which their license and the Finally, the Senator asserts that complainant Pobre has failed to prove that she in
law invest in them.[16] fact made the statements in question. Suffice it to say in this regard that, although she has
not categorically denied making such statements, she has unequivocally said making them as
This Court, in its unceasing quest to promote the peoples faith in courts and trust in part of her privilege speech. Her implied admission is good enough for the Court.
the rule of law, has consistently exercised its disciplinary authority on lawyers who, for
malevolent purpose or personal malice, attempt to obstruct the orderly administration of WHEREFORE, the letter-complaint of Antero J. Pobre against Senator/Atty. Miriam
justice, trifle with the integrity of courts, and embarrass or, worse, malign the men and women Defensor-Santiago is, conformably to Art. VI, Sec. 11 of the Constitution,DISMISSED.
who compose them. We have done it in the case of former Senator Vicente Sotto in Sotto, in
the case of Atty. Noel Sorreda inSorreda, and in the case of Atty. Francisco B. SO ORDERED.
Cruz in Tacordan v. Ang[17] who repeatedly insulted and threatened the Court in a most
insolent manner.

The Court is not hesitant to impose some form of disciplinary sanctions on


Senator/Atty. Santiago for what otherwise would have constituted an act of utter disrespect on
her part towards the Court and its members. The factual and legal circumstances of this case,
however, deter the Court from doing so, even without any sign of remorse from her. Basic
constitutional consideration dictates this kind of disposition.

We, however, would be remiss in our duty if we let the Senators offensive and
disrespectful language that definitely tended to denigrate the institution pass by. It is
imperative on our part to re-instill in Senator/Atty. Santiago her duty to respect courts of
justice, especially this Tribunal, and remind her anew that the parliamentary non-
accountability thus granted to members of Congress is not to protect them against
prosecutions for their own benefit, but to enable them, as the peoples representatives, to
perform the functions of their office without fear of being made responsible before the courts
or other forums outside the congressional hall. [18] It is intended to protect members of
Congress against government pressure and intimidation aimed at influencing the decision-
making prerogatives of Congress and its members.

The Rules of the Senate itself contains a provision on Unparliamentary Acts and
Language that enjoins a Senator from using, under any circumstance, offensive or improper
language against another Senator or against any public institution.[19] But as to Senator
Santiagos unparliamentary remarks, the Senate President had not apparently called her to
order, let alone referred the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee for appropriate
disciplinary action, as the Rules dictates under such circumstance. [20] The lady senator clearly
PROVINCIAL ENGINEER PATROCINIO BACAY (sued CHICO-NAZARIO,
both in their official and personal capacities),
NACHURA, and
Respondents.
REYES, JJ.

Promulgated:

April 16, 2008

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

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

THIRD DIVISION

RAUL H. SESBREO, G.R. No. 161390


For review is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated July 23, 2003 and its
Petitioner, Resolution[2] dated January 12, 2004 in CA-G.R. CV No. 43287. The assailed decision
Present: reversed the decision[3] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 6, Cebu City in Civil Case
R-19022 insofar as the RTC held the Province of Cebuliable for damages to petitioner Raul
H. Sesbreo. The assailed resolution denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.
- versus -
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,

Chairperson, On January 26, 1970, Mrs. Rosario Sen and other camineros[4] hired the petitioner to
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, PROVINCE OF CEBU, prosecute Civil Cases Nos. R-10933 [5] and R-11214,[6] evidenced by anAgreement,[7] the
GOV. EDUARDO R. GULLAS, THE PROVINCIAL AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, terms of which read as follows:
TREASURER, THE PROVINCIAL AUDITOR, THE
backwages and salaries as awarded by the trial court in its decision to all the
private respondents-employees from and after July 1, 1968, the date of their
AGREEMENT termination, up to the date of the approval of the herein Compromise
Agreement by the Honorable Supreme Court, except for those who are
qualified for compulsory retirement whose back salaries and wages shall be
limited up to the effective date of their retirement.
WE, the undersigned, hereby agree to pay Atty. Raul H. Sesbreo,
thirty (30%) percent of whatever back salaries, damages, etc. that we may
recover in the mandamus and other cases that we are filing or have filed
against the Province of Cebu, the Provincial Governor, etc., whether or not xxxx
the said cases will be amicably settled or decided by the courts by final
judgment. We shall take care of all expenses in connection with the said
cases.[8]
9. That the amounts payable to the employees concerned
represented by Atty. Raul H. Sesbreo is subject to said lawyers charging
and retaining liens as registered in the trial court and in the Honorable Court
of Appeals.

During the pendency of the aforesaid cases or on April 17, 1979, petitioner registered
his charging/retaining lien based on the Agreement.[9]
xxxx

The camineros obtained favorable judgment when the Court of First Instance (now
RTC) of Cebu ordered that they be reinstated to their original positions with back salaries, 11. That upon request of the employees concerned, most of whom
together with all privileges and salary adjustments or increases. [10] Aggrieved, the are in dire actual financial straits, the Province of Cebu is agreeable to
Commissioner of Public Highways and the District Engineer filedcertiorari cases before this paying an advance of P5,000.00 to each employee payable through their
Court where the petitioner willingly rendered further legal assistance and represented counsel, Atty. Raul H. Sesbreo, deductible from the total amount that each
the camineros. will receive from the Province of Cebu, effective upon confirmation by the
Honorable Solicitor General, the Supreme Court and the Philippine National
Bank where the JJ (now infrastructure funds) are now in deposit under trust.
[12]

When respondent Eduardo R. Gullas (Gov. Gullas) assumed the position of governor
of Cebu, he proposed the compromise settlement of all mandamus cases then pending
against the province which included Civil Cases Nos. R-10933 and R-11214 handled by the
petitioner.

Apparently, the camineros waived their right to reinstatement embodied in the CFI decision
and the province agreed that it immediately pay them their back salaries and other
On April 21, 1979, the camineros, represented by the petitioner, and claims. This Court adopted said compromise agreement in our decision [13] dated December
the province of Cebu, through then Gov. Gullas, forged a Compromise Agreement,[11]with the 18, 1979.[14]
following terms and conditions:

In view of the finality of the above decision, the camineros, through their new counsel
1. The respondent Province of Cebu represented in this act by Gov. (who substituted for the petitioner), moved for its execution. The court then ordered the
Eduardo R. Gullas, duly authorized by proper resolution of the Sanguniang issuance of a partial writ of execution directing the payment of only 45% of the amount due
Panlalawigan, hereby agrees to immediately appropriate and pay full them based on the computation of the provincial engineering office as audited by the
authority concerned.[15] The court did not release the remaining 55%, thus holding in (d) To pay the costs.[24]
abeyance the payment of the lawyers fees pending the determination of the final amount of
such fees.[16] However, instead of complying with the court order directing partial payment,
the province of Cebudirectly paid the camineros the full amount of their adjudicated claims.[17]

While maintaining the validity of the compromise agreement, the trial court found that
Thus, petitioner filed the complaint for Damages (Thru Breach of Contract) and the petitioners money claims should have been computed based on the national and not the
Attorneys Fees against the Province of Cebu, the provincial governor, treasurer, auditor, and provincial rate of wages paid the camineros. Accordingly, the court declared that the
engineer in their official and personal capacities, as well as against his former clients petitioner was prejudiced to the extent of the difference between these two rates. The court
(the camineros).[18] further upheld the petitioners status as a quasi-party considering that he had a registered
charging lien. However, it did not give credence to the petitioners claim that the respondent
public officials induced the camineros to violate their contract, and thus, absolved them from
liability.
Petitioner anchored his claim on the provision of the Civil Code, specifically Article
19[19] thereof. He alleged that by directly paying the camineros the amounts due them, the
respondents induced the camineros to violate their written contract for attorneys fees. [20] He
likewise claimed that they violated the compromise agreement approved by the Court by On appeal, the CA reversed the trial courts decision and dismissed the complaint.
[25]
computing the camineros money claims based on the provincial instead of the national wage The appellate court concluded that petitioner failed to sufficiently establish his allegation
rate which, consequently, yielded a lower amount. [21] Petitioner went on to say that although that the respondents induced the camineros to violate the agreement for attorneys fees and
he was not a party to the above contracts, by virtue of the registration of his charging lien, he the compromise agreement, and that he suffered damage due to respondents act of directly
was a quasi-party and thus, had legal standing to institute the case below.[22] paying the camineros the amounts due them.[26]

On August 23, 1982, petitioner moved to dismiss the case against the camineros after Hence, the instant petition. In his Memorandum, petitioner raises the following
he had entered into an agreement with them and settled their differences. [23] The case, issues:
however, proceeded against the respondents.

1. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT


On October 18, 1992, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of the petitioner and AFFIRMING THE TRIAL COURT DECISION DUE TO LONG DELAY IN
against the respondent province of Cebu, the pertinent portion of which reads: DECIDING CA-G.R. CV NO. 43287.

Wherefore, for all the foregoing, judgment is rendered, ordering 2. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT
the defendant Province of Cebu to pay the plaintiff the following sums: DISMISSING THE APPEAL IN CA-G.R. CV NO. 43287 FOR FAILURE TO
PROSECUTE AND DUE TO THE FATALLY-DEFECTIVE APPELLANTS
BRIEF.

(a) P669,336.51 in actual damages; with interest of


12% per annum from date of demand until fully paid;
3. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
(b) P20,000.00 in moral damages; REVERSING THE TRIAL COURT DECISION BY DECLARING THAT THE
TRIAL COURT SHOULD NOT FIX THE ATTORNEYS FEES OF
(c) P5,000.00 in litigation expenses; and PETITIONER DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE TRIAL COURT DECISION IS
CLEAR THAT WHAT WAS ADJUDGED WAS THE DECLARATION THAT
THERE WAS BREACH OF THE COMPROMISE CONTRACT AND (2) With respect to the Supreme Court and other collegiate appellate
DAMAGES ARE TO BE AWARDED THE PETITIONER. courts, when the applicable maximum period shall have lapsed without the
rendition of the corresponding decision or resolution because the necessary
vote cannot be had, the judgment, order, or resolution appealed from shall be
4. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT deemed affirmed x x x.
DECLARING RESPONDENTS GULLAS, RESENTES, SANCHEZ AND
BACAY AS PERSONALLY LIABLE AND THAT THEIR PERSONAL
LIABILITY IS SOLIDARY WITH THAT
OF RESPONDENT PROVINCE OF CEBU.

That provision is not found in the present Constitution. The court, under the 1987
5. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT Constitution, is now mandated to decide or resolve the case or matter submitted to it for
DECLARING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ARE SOLIDARILY LIABLE
determination within specified periods.[31] Even when there is delay and no decision or
TO PAY TO PETITIONER ACTUAL OR COMPENSATORY, MORAL,
EXEMPLARY, NOMINAL, TEMPERATE DAMAGES, LITIGATION resolution is made within the prescribed period, there is no automatic affirmance of the
EXPENSES AND LOSS OF EARNINGS AND INTERESTS.[27] appealed decision. The appellate court, therefore, cannot be faulted in not affirming the
RTCs decision. While we do not tolerate delay in the disposition of cases, we cannot dismiss
appealed cases solely because they had been pending in court for a long period, especially
when the appeal is highly meritorious as in the present case.

The petition is bereft of merit.

Likewise, we cannot agree with the petitioner that the appealed case be dismissed on
account of the formal defects in respondents appellants brief filed before the CA. The
Petitioner insists that the CA should have affirmed the trial courts decision in view of requirements laid down by the Rules of Court on the contents of the brief are intended to aid
the delay in resolving the case, and should have denied the appeal because of the formal the appellate court in arriving at a just and proper conclusion of the case. [32] However, despite
defects in the appellants brief. [28] Petitioner cites the cases of Malacora v. Court of its deficiencies, respondents appellants brief is sufficient in form and substance as to apprise
Appeals[29] and Flora v. Pajarillaga[30] where this Court held that an appealed case which had the appellate court of the essential facts and nature of the case, as well as the issues raised
been pending beyond the time fixed by the Constitution should be deemed affirmed. and the laws necessary for the disposition of the same. [33] Thus, we sustain the CAs decision
to rule on the merits of the appeal instead of dismissing it on mere technicality.

We cannot apply the cited cases to the one at bench because they were decided on
the basis of Section 11 (2), Article X of the 1973 Constitution, which reads: Now, on the main issue of whether or not respondents are liable for damages for
breach of contract.

SEC. 11. x x x
Petitioner clarifies that he instituted the instant case for breach of the compromise
agreement and not for violation of the agreement for attorneys fees as mistakenly concluded
by the appellate court. He also cites Calalang v. De Borja[34] in support of his right to collect
the amounts due him against the judgment debtor (the respondents). [35] Lastly, petitioner
argues that the respondent public officials acted beyond the scope of their authority when
they directly paid thecamineros their money claims and failed to withhold the petitioners To insure payment of his professional fees and reimbursement of his lawful
fees. There is, according to the petitioner, a showing of bad faith on the part of the province disbursements in keeping with his dignity as an officer of the court, the law creates in favor of
and the public officials concerned. a lawyer a lien, not only upon the funds, documents and papers of his client which have
lawfully come into his possession until what is due him has been paid, but also a lien upon all
judgments for the payment of money and executions issued pursuant to such judgments
rendered in the case wherein his services have been retained by the client. [37] Section 37,
After a careful scrutiny of the record of the case, we find no compelling reason to Rule 138 of the Rules of Court specifically provides:
disturb the appellate courts conclusion. We would like to stress at this point that the
compromise agreement had been validly entered into by the respondents and
the camineros and the same became the basis of the judgment rendered by this Court. Its
validity, therefore, had been laid to rest as early as 1979 when the Court promulgated its Section 37. Attorneys liens. An attorney shall have a lien upon the
decision in Commissioner of Public Highways v. Burgos.[36] In fact, the judgment had already funds, documents and papers of his client, which have lawfully come into his
been fully satisfied by the respondents. It was precisely this full satisfaction of judgment that possession and may retain the same until his lawful fees and disbursements
gave rise to the instant controversy, based primarily on the petitioners claim that he was have been paid, and may apply such funds to the satisfaction thereof. He
prejudiced because of the following: 1) the wrong computation in the camineros money shall also have a lien to the same extent upon all judgments for the payment
claims by using the provincial and not the national wage rate; and 2) the mode of satisfying of money, and executions issued in pursuance of such judgments, which he
the judgment through direct payment which impaired his registered charging lien. has secured in a litigation of his client, from and after the time when he shall
have caused a statement of his claim of such lien to be entered upon the
records of the court rendering such judgment, or issuing such execution, and
shall have caused written notice thereof to be delivered to his client and to
Petitioners claim for attorneys fees was evidenced by an agreement for attorneys the adverse party; and he shall have the same right and power over such
fees voluntarily executed by the camineros where the latter agreed to pay the former thirty judgments and executions as his client would have to enforce his lien
(30%) percent of whatever back salaries, damages, etc. that they might recover in the and secure the payment of his just fees and disbursements.
mandamus and other cases that they were filing or have filed. Clearly, no fixed amount was
specifically provided for in their contract nor was a specified rate agreed upon on how the
money claims were to be computed. The use of the word whatever shows that the basis
for the computation would be the amount that the court would award in favor of
the camineros. Considering that the parties agreed to a compromise, the payment would
have to be based on the amount agreed upon by them in the compromise agreement
approved by the court. And since the compromise agreement had assumed finality, this A charging lien is an equitable right to have the fees and costs due to the lawyer for
Court can no longer delve into its substance, especially at this time when the judgment had services in a suit secured to him out of the judgment or recovery in that particular suit. It is
already been fully satisfied. We cannot allow the petitioner to question anew the compromise based on the natural equity that the plaintiff should not be allowed to appropriate the whole of
agreement on the pretext that he suffered damage. As long as he was given the agreed a judgment in his favor without paying thereout for the services of his attorney in obtaining
percentage of the amount received by the camineros, then, the agreement is deemed such judgment.[38]
complied with, and petitioner cannot claim to have suffered damage.

In this case, the existence of petitioners charging lien is undisputed since it was
Petitioner likewise claims that he was prejudiced by respondents act in directly properly registered in the records. The parties even acknowledged its existence in their
paying the camineros the amounts due them, as it rendered inutile the charging lien duly compromise agreement. However, a problem arose when the respondents directly paid in full
registered for his protection.
the camineros money claims and did not withhold that portion which corresponds to right to the lien. No rule will allow a lawyer to collect from his client and then collect anew
petitioners fees. from the judgment debtor except, perhaps, on a claim for a bigger amount which, as earlier
discussed, is baseless.

When the judgment debt was fully satisfied, petitioner could have enforced his lien
either against his clients (the camineros herein) or against the judgment debtor (the Lawyering is not a moneymaking venture and lawyers are not merchants. Law
respondents herein). The clients, upon receiving satisfaction of their claims without paying advocacy is not capital that yields profits. The returns it births are simple rewards for a job
their lawyer, should have held the proceeds in trust for him to the extent of the amount of his done or service rendered. It is a calling that, unlike mercantile pursuits which enjoy a greater
recorded lien, because after the charging lien had attached, the attorney is, to the extent of deal of freedom from governmental interference, is impressed with a public interest, for which
said lien, regarded as an equitable assignee of the judgment or funds produced by his efforts. it is subject to state regulation.[45]
[39]
The judgment debtors may likewise be held responsible for their failure to withhold from
the camineros the amount of attorneys fees due the petitioner.

Considering that petitioners claim of higher attorneys fees is baseless and considering
further that he had settled his case as against his former clients, we cannot sustain his right
In the instant case, the petitioner rightly commenced an action against both his clients to damages for breach of contract against the respondents, even on the basis of Articles
and the judgment debtors. However, at the instance of the petitioner himself, the complaint 1191[46] or 1311.[47] Although we sustain his status to institute the instant case, we cannot
against his clients was withdrawn on the ground that he had settled his differences with render a favorable judgment because there was no breach of contract. Even if there was
them. He maintained the case against respondents because, according to him, the such a breach, he had waived his right to claim against the respondents by accepting
computation of the camineros money claims should have been based on the national and not payment and/or absolving from liability those who were primarily liable to him. Thus, no
the provincial wage rate. Thus, petitioner insists that the respondents should be made liable liability can be imputed to theprovince of Cebu or to the respondent public officials, either in
for the difference. their personal or official capacities.

While the respondents may have impaired the petitioners charging lien by satisfying Lastly, we cannot ascribe bad faith to the respondents who directly paid
the judgment without regard for the lawyers right to attorneys fees, we cannot apply the the camineros the amounts due them. The records do not show that when they did so, they
doctrine enunciated in Calalang v. Judge de Borja,[40] because of the peculiar circumstances induced the camineros to violate their contract with the petitioner; nor do the records show
obtaining in this case. In Calalang, this Court stressed that the judgment debtor may be held that they paid their obligation in order to cause prejudice to the petitioner. The attendant
responsible for his failure to withhold the amount of attorneys fees in accordance with the circumstances, in fact, show that the camineros acknowledged their liability to the petitioner
duly registered charging lien.[41] However, there is a disparity between the two cases, and they willingly fulfilled their obligation. It would be contrary to human nature for the
because, in this case, the petitioner had withdrawn his complaint against the camineros with petitioner to have acceded to the withdrawal of the case against them, without receiving the
whom he had a contract for legal services. The withdrawal was premised on a settlement, agreed attorneys fees.
which indicates that his former clients already paid their obligations. This is bolstered by the
certification of the clerk of court that his former clients had deposited their passbooks to
ensure payment of the agreed fees. Having been paid by his clients in accordance with the
agreement, his claim against the respondents, therefore, has no leg to stand on. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision of
the Court of Appeals dated July 23, 2003 and its Resolution datedJanuary 12, 2004 in CA-
G.R. CV No. 43287 are AFFIRMED.

Neither can the petitioner rely on Bacolod Murcia Milling Co., Inc. v. Henares, etc.
[42]
where this court declared that satisfaction of the judgment, in general, does not by itself
bar or extinguish the attorneys liens, as the court may even vacate such satisfaction and SO ORDERED.
enforce judgment for the amount of the lien. [43] However, the satisfaction of the judgment
extinguishes the lien if there has been a waiver, as shown either by the attorneys conduct or
by his passive omission.[44] In the instant case, petitioners act in withdrawing the case
against the camineros and agreeing to settle their dispute may be considered a waiver of his
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

ADM. CASE NO. 6876 March 7, 2008

HEIRS OF LYDIO "JERRY" FALAME, namely: MELBA FALAME, LEO FALAME and
JERRY FALAME,petitioners,
vs.
ATTY. EDGAR J. BAGUIO, respondent.

RESOLUTION
TINGA, J.: of office and duty as an attorney. Plainly, they contended that the spouses Falame's interests
are adverse to those of his former client, Lydio.7
On Petition for Review1 is the Resolution of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Board
of Governors dismissing the disbarment complaint filed by the Heirs of Lydio "Jerry" Falame Secondly, complainants claimed that respondent knowingly made false statements of fact in
(complainants) against Atty. Edgar J. Baguio (respondent), docketed as CBD Case No. 04- the complaint in the second civil case to mislead the trial court. In so doing, respondent
1191. violated paragraph (d), Section 208 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court,9 complainants asserted
further.
In their Complaint2 against respondent, complainants alleged that on 15 July 1991, their
father, the late Lydio "Jerry" Falame (Lydio), engaged the services of respondent to represent Lastly, complainants alleged that the second civil case is a baseless and fabricated suit which
him in an action for forcible entry docketed as Civil Case No. A-2694 (the first civil case) and respondent filed as counsel for complainants' uncle against the heirs of respondent's
entitled "Heirs of Emilio T. Sy, represented by Anastacia Velayo Vda. De Sy and Belen V. Sy deceased client. Specifically, they averred that respondent filed the case for the sole purpose
vs. Lydio 'Jerry' Falame, Raleigh Falame and Four (4) John Does," in which Lydio was one of of retaining, maintaining and/or withholding the possession of the subject property from
the defendants.3 complainants who are its true owners. Complainants concluded that respondent violated
paragraph (g), Section 2010 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.11
Complainants recounted that respondent, as counsel for the defendants, filed the answer to
the complaint in the first civil case. Subsequently, when the parties to the first civil case were In his Answer with Motion to Dismiss,12 respondent controverted complainants' allegations.
required to file their respective position papers, respondent used and submitted in evidence He emphasizes that it was only Raleigh Falame who personally engaged his legal services
the following: (1) a special power of attorney dated 1 July 1988 executed by Lydio in favor of for him and on Lydio's behalf and that, in fact, it was Raleigh who paid him the attorney's
his brother, Raleigh Falame, appointing the latter to be his attorney-in-fact; and (2) the fees. He also stated that he signed the jurat in Raleigh's affidavit, which was submitted as
affidavit of Raleigh Falame dated 23 July 1988, executed before respondent, in which Raleigh evidence in the first civil case, believing to the best of his knowledge that there is good
stated that Lydio owned the property subject of the first civil case. 4 ground to support it. Insisting that he did not betray the confidence reposed in him by Lydio
as the latter's counsel in the first civil case, respondent maintained that he did not reveal or
Complainants claimed that even after the Municipal Trial Court of Dipolog City had ruled in use any fact he acquired knowledge of during the existence of the attorney-client relation in
favor of the defendants in the first civil case, Lydio retained the services of respondent as his the first civil case as he had never even conferred with nor talked to Lydio in the first place.
legal adviser and counsel for his businesses until Lydio's death on 8 September 1996. 5 Respondent likewise contended that he did not knowingly make any misleading or untruthful
statement of fact in the complaint in the second civil case and neither did he employ any
However, on 23 October 2000, in representation of spouses Raleigh and Noemi Falame, means inconsistent with truth and honor in the hearing of the case. 13
respondent filed a case against complainants allegedly involving the property subject of the
first civil case, entitled "Spouses Rally F. Falame and Noemi F. Falame v. Melba A. Falame, Respondent vigorously averred that Lydio had not retained him as counsel in any case or
Leo A. Falame, Jerry A. Falame, Jr., Sugni Realty Holdings and Development Corporations, transaction. Stressing the long interval of twelve years separating the termination of the first
their representatives, agents and persons acting in their behalf" and docketed as Civil Case civil case and his acceptance of the second civil case, respondent pointed out that the first
No. 5568 (the second civil case) before the Regional Trial Court of Dipolog City, Branch 6. civil case was not between Lydio and Raleigh but rather between the heirs of Emilio T. Sy on
The complaint sought the declaration of nullity of the deed of sale, its registration in the one hand and Lydio and Raleigh on the other where physical possession of property was at
registry of deeds, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 20241 issued as a consequence of the stake. Respondent further averred that in contrast the second civil case is one involving the
registration of the deed of sale, and the real estate mortgage on the said property. spouses Raleigh and Noemi Falame as plaintiffs, and Melba, Leo and Jerry Jr., all surnamed
Alternatively, it prayed for specific performance and reconveyance or legal redemption and Falame, and Sugni Realty Holdings and Development Corporation, as defendantsa case
damages with preliminary injunction and restraining order.6 which arose from the wrongful acts committed by Melba, Leo and Jerry Jr. after Lydio's
death.14
Firstly, complainants maintained that by acting as counsel for the spouses Falame in the
second civil case wherein they were impleaded as defendants, respondent violated his oath
Respondent maintained that since the second civil case was still pending before the trial Civil Case No. 5568, which was commenced on 03 October 2000, or three years
court, the IBP had no jurisdiction over the instant administrative case. He added that since the complainants became owners of Lydio Falame's properties, is a suit against
complainants filed this administrative case when Raleigh could no longer testify in his own the complainants, not as representatives of Lydio Falame, but as owners of their
favor as he had died a year earlier.15 respective aliquot interests in the property in question (Gayon v. Gayon, 36 SCRA
104; 107-108). The complainants are sued not on the basis of the acts, rights,
In their Position Paper16 dated 7 September 2004, in addition to their previous charges obligations and interest of Lydio Falame on the material possession of the
against respondent, complainants claimed that respondent violated Rule 15.03 17 of the Code improvements found on Lot 345 litigated in Civil Case No. A-2694 nor even on such
of Professional Responsibility when he represented the cause of the spouses Falame against land itself, but rather on the facts alleged in the second amended and supplemental
that of his former client, Lydio.18 complaint which give rise to their cause of action against them.

On 25 June 2005, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XVI-2005-167 adopting While the complainants could not specify under what circumstances the respondent
and approving Investigating Commissioner Winston D. Abuyuan's report and committed [the] alleged breach of confidence, breach of secrecy or revelation of
recommendation for the dismissal of this administrative case, thus: 19 secret or confidential information[,] the respondent has shown that he did not commit
any violation of such duties or obligations of an attorney.
x x x The charge lacks specification as to what part of the lawyer's oath was violated
by the respondent and what confidence was disclosed. The complainants may have It is clear that only Raleigh Falame engaged the legal services of the respondent for
in mind the prohibition against disclosure of secret information learned in confidence, his and Lydio Falame's defense in Civil Case No. A-2694.
but there is no specification in the complaint what secret or information learned in
confidence under Civil Case No. A-2694 was disclosed or will be disclosed by xxx
respondent in Civil Case No. 5568. In administrative complaints for disbarment or
suspension against lawyers, the complainant must specify in the affidavit-complaint The other allegations of the complainants that the respondent violated paragraph (d),
the alleged secrets or confidential information disclosed or will be disclosed in the Section 20 of Rule 139, Rules of Court, and his lawyer's oath when he allegedly
professional employment (Uy v. Gonzalez, 426 SCRA 422; 431). In the absence of betrayed the trust and confidence of his former client by denying knowledge of the
such specification, the complaint must fail. fact that the land was owned by Lydio Falame and when he did not disclose to the
Court that at one time his present clients categorically declared and unconditionally
In the complaint, there is no specific charge against respondent for violation of Canon recognized the full ownership of the late Lydio Falame and complainant Melba
15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility about the prohibition Falame over subject matter of both cases equally lacks evidentiary basis.
against representation of conflicting interest. So, the allegation in paragraph 1, page
8 and 9 of complainants' position paper stating: With all due respect, it is submitted xxx
that respondent violated Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility"cannot be countenanced. The reason being that it is an elementary It is beyond the competence of the complainants to conclude and is outside the
principle of due process to which the respondent is entitled that only those charged in jurisdiction of this Honorable Commission to rule as to whether or nor (sic) the
the complaint can be proved by the complainants. A charge not specified in the complaint in Civil Case No.5568 is baseless or fabricated. It is only the Honorable
complaint cannot be proved (Uy v. Gonzales, id.) Court which has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the same and cannot be the
subject of an administrative complaint against the respondent.
x x x But still this charge will not proper for lack of sufficient bases.
xxx
xxx
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended that this Prescinding from the unavailability of the defense of prescription, the Court concurs with the
complaint be dismissed on grounds of prescription, the same having been filed four Investigating Commissioner's opinion that some of the charges raised by complainants in
(4) years after the alleged misconduct took place and for lack of merit. their complaint are unsubstantiated.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.20 There is, however, sufficient basis to hold respondent accountable for violation of Rule 15.03
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. While this charge was not raised in the initiatory
Dissatisfied, complainants filed the instant petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of pleading, it was put forward in complainants' position paper filed with the IBP and in the
Court reiterating their allegations in the complaint and their position paper.21 They likewise petition filed with the Court. In fact, respondent proffered his defenses to the charge in his
assert that the IBP erred in holding that the instant administrative complaint had been filed position paper before the IBP and likewise in his comment before the Court. In his very first
out of time since it was filed on 16 January 2004, or three (3) years, four (4) months and pleading before the IBP, the answer with motion to dismiss, he denied having Lydio as his
sixteen (16) days after the second civil case was filed on 23 October 2000. 22 In addition, in client. Such absence of attorney-client relationship is the essential element of his defense to
their Consolidated Comment (should be Consolidated Reply), 23 complainants invoke the the charge of conflict of interest, as articulated in his subsequent submissions.
Court's ruling in Frias v. Bautista-Lozada24to support their contention that administrative
complaints against members of the bar do not prescribe. 25 The Court, therefore, rules and so holds that respondent has been adequately apprised of
and heard on the issue. In administrative cases, the requirement of notice and hearing does
In his Comment,26 respondent principally maintains that the charges imputed to him have not connote full adversarial proceedings. Actual adversarial proceedings only become
never been proven by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence which is the quantum of necessary for clarification when there is a need to propound searching questions to witnesses
proof required in administrative cases against lawyers, and that complainants have the who give vague testimonies. Due process is fulfilled when the parties were given reasonable
burden to prove their accusations as he enjoys the presumption of innocence. 27 Respondent opportunity to be heard and to submit evidence in support of their arguments. 33
likewise asserts that in accusing him of violation of Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility only in their position paper and in the instant petition, complainants infringed Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
his right to due process and to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against
him.28 A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all
concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.
There is merit in the petition.
A lawyer may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a person
At the outset, the Court holds that the instant administrative action is not barred by whose interest conflicts with that of his present or former client. 34 The test is whether, on
prescription. As early as 1947, the Court held in Calo, Jr. v. Degamo,29 to wit: behalf of one client, it is the lawyer's duty to contest for that which his duty to another client
requires him to oppose or when the possibility of such situation will develop. 35 The rule covers
The ordinary statutes of limitation have no application to disbarment proceedings, nor not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided, but also those in
does the circumstance that the facts set up as a ground for disbarment constitute a which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. 36 In addition, the rule holds even if
crime, prosecution for which in a criminal proceeding is barred by limitation, affect the the inconsistency is remote or merely probable or the lawyer has acted in good faith and with
disbarment proceeding x x x (5 Am. Jur. 434)30 no intention to represent conflicting interests.37

This doctrine was reaffirmed in the relatively recent case of Frias v. Bautista-Lozada31where The rule concerning conflict of interest prohibits a lawyer from representing a client if that
the Court held that Rule VII, Section 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the CBD-IBP, which representation will be directly adverse to any of his present or former clients. In the same
provides for a prescriptive period for the filing of administrative complaints against lawyers, way, a lawyer may only be allowed to represent a client involving the same or a substantially
should be struck down as void and of no legal effect for being ultra vires.32 related matter that is materially adverse to the former client only if the former client consents
to it after consultation. The rule is grounded in the fiduciary obligation of loyalty.38 In the
course of a lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns all the facts connected with the
client's case, including the weak and strong points of the case. The nature of that relationship For representing Raleigh's cause which is adverse to that of his former clientRaleigh's
is, therefore, one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. 39 supposed co-ownership of the subject property respondent is guilty of representing
conflicting interests. Having previously undertaken joint representation of Lydio and Raleigh,
The termination of attorney-client relation provides no justification for a lawyer to represent an respondent should have diligently studied and anticipated the
interest adverse to or in conflict with that of the former client. The client's confidence once
reposed should not be divested by mere expiration of professional employment. Even after potential conflict of interest. Accordingly, disciplinary action is warranted. 47 Heretofore,
the severance of the relation, a lawyer should not do anything which will injuriously affect his respondent is enjoined to look at any representation situation from "the point of view that
former client in any matter in which he previously represented him nor should he disclose or there are possible conflicts"; and further, "to think in terms of impaired loyalty" that is to
use any of the client's confidences acquired in the previous relation. 40 evaluate if his representation in any way will impair loyalty to a client. 48Considering, however,
that this is respondent's first offense, the Court resolves to reprimand respondent, with
In relation to this, Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer admonition to observe a higher degree of fidelity in the practice of his profession. 49
owes fidelity to the cause of his client and shall be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed on him. His highest and most unquestioned duty is to protect the client at all hazards WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Edgar J. Baguio is found GUILTY of representing conflicting
and costs even to himself.41 The protection given to the client is perpetual and does not cease interests and meted out the penalty of REPRIMAND. He is further admonished to observe a
with the termination of the litigation, nor is it affected by the party's ceasing to employ the higher degree of fidelity in the practice of his profession and to bear in mind that a repetition
attorney and retaining another, or by any other change of relation between them. It even of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
survives the death of the client.42
SO ORDERED.
In the case at bar, respondent admitted having jointly represented Lydio and Raleigh as
defendants in the first civil case. Evidently, the attorney-client relation between Lydio and Carpio, Acting Chairperson Carpio-Morales, Azcuna*, Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.
respondent was established despite the fact that it was only Raleigh who paid him. The case
of Hilado v. David43tells us that it is immaterial whether such employment was paid, promised
or charged for.44

As defense counsel in the first civil case, respondent advocated the stance that Lydio solely
owned the property subject of the case. In the second civil case involving the same property,
respondent, as counsel for Raleigh and his spouse, has pursued the inconsistent position that
Raleigh owned the same property in common with Lydio, with complainants, who inherited
the property, committing acts which debase respondent's rights as a co-owner.

The fact that the attorney-client relation had ceased by reason of Lydio's death or through the
completion of the specific task for which respondent was employed is not reason for
respondent to advocate a position opposed to that of Lydio. 45 Precedents tell us that even
after the termination of his employment, an attorney may not act as counsel against his client
in the same general matter, even though, while acting for his former client, he acquired no
knowledge which could operate to his client's disadvantage in the subsequent adverse
employment.46 And while complainants have never been respondent's clients, they derive
their rights to the property from Lydio's ownership of it which respondent maintained in the
first civil case.
Complainant Wilfredo M. Catu is a co-owner of a lot 1 and the building erected thereon located
at 959 San Andres Street, Malate, Manila. His mother and brother, Regina Catu and Antonio
Catu, contested the possession of Elizabeth C. Diaz-Catu 2 and Antonio Pastor3 of one of the
units in the building. The latter ignored demands for them to vacate the premises. Thus, a
complaint was initiated against them in the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay 723, Zone 79
of the 5th District of Manila4 where the parties reside.

Respondent, as punong barangay of Barangay 723, summoned the parties to conciliation


meetings.5 When the parties failed to arrive at an amicable settlement, respondent issued a
certification for the filing of the appropriate action in court.

Thereafter, Regina and Antonio filed a complaint for ejectment against Elizabeth and Pastor
in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 11. Respondent entered his appearance as
counsel for the defendants in that case. Because of this, complainant filed the instant
administrative complaint,6 claiming that respondent committed an act of impropriety as a
lawyer and as a public officer when he stood as counsel for the defendants despite the fact
that he presided over the conciliation proceedings between the litigants as punong barangay.

In his defense, respondent claimed that one of his duties as punong barangay was to hear
complaints referred to the barangay's Lupong Tagapamayapa. As such, he heard the
complaint of Regina and Antonio against Elizabeth and Pastor. As head of the Lupon, he
performed his task with utmost objectivity, without bias or partiality towards any of the parties.
The parties, however, were not able to amicably settle their dispute and Regina and Antonio
Republic of the Philippines filed the ejectment case. It was then that Elizabeth sought his legal assistance. He acceded
SUPREME COURT to her request. He handled her case for free because she was financially distressed and he
Manila wanted to prevent the commission of a patent injustice against her.

FIRST DIVISION The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report and recommendation. As there was no factual issue to thresh out, the IBP's
A.C. No. 5738 February 19, 2008 Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) required the parties to submit their respective position
papers. After evaluating the contentions of the parties, the IBP-CBD found sufficient ground to
WILFREDO M. CATU, complainant, discipline respondent.7
vs.
ATTY. VICENTE G. RELLOSA, respondent. According to the IBP-CBD, respondent admitted that, as punong barangay, he presided over
the conciliation proceedings and heard the complaint of Regina and Antonio against Elizabeth
RESOLUTION and Pastor. Subsequently, however, he represented Elizabeth and Pastor in the ejectment
case filed against them by Regina and Antonio. In the course thereof, he prepared and signed
CORONA, J.: pleadings including the answer with counterclaim, pre-trial brief, position paper and notice of
appeal. By so doing, respondent violated Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility:
Rule 6.03 - A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement Respondent cannot be found liable for violation of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
or employment in connection with any matter in which he intervened while in said Responsibility. As worded, that Rule applies only to a lawyer who has left government
service. service and in connection "with any matter in which he intervened while in said service."
In PCGG v. Sandiganbayan,11 we ruled that Rule 6.03 prohibits former government
Furthermore, as an elective official, respondent contravened the prohibition under Section lawyers from accepting "engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which
7(b)(2) of RA 6713:8 [they] had intervened while in said service."

SEC. 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. - In addition to acts and omissions of Respondent was an incumbent punong barangay at the time he committed the act
public officials and employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, complained of. Therefore, he was not covered by that provision.
the following shall constitute prohibited acts and transactions of any public official
ands employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful: Section 90 of RA 7160, Not Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713, Governs The Practice of
Profession of Elective Local Government Officials
xxx xxx xxx
Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713 prohibits public officials and employees, during their incumbency,
(b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. - Public officials and from engaging in the private practice of their profession "unless authorized by the
employees during their incumbency shall not: Constitution or law, provided that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their
official functions." This is the general law which applies to all public officials and employees.
xxx xxx xxx
For elective local government officials, Section 90 of RA 7160 12 governs:
(2) Engage in the private practice of profession unless authorized by
the Constitution or law, provided that such practice will not conflict or tend SEC. 90. Practice of Profession. - (a) All governors, city and municipal mayors are
to conflict with their official functions; xxx (emphasis supplied) prohibited from practicing their profession or engaging in any occupation other than
the exercise of their functions as local chief executives.
According to the IBP-CBD, respondent's violation of this prohibition constituted a breach of
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility: (b) Sanggunian members may practice their professions, engage in any occupation,
or teach in schools except during session hours: Provided,
CANON 1. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS That sanggunian members who are members of the Bar shall not:
OF THE LAND, PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.
(emphasis supplied) (1) Appear as counsel before any court in any civil case wherein a local
government unit or any office, agency, or instrumentality of the government is
For these infractions, the IBP-CBD recommended the respondent's suspension from the the adverse party;
practice of law for one month with a stern warning that the commission of the same or similar
act will be dealt with more severely.9 This was adopted and approved by the IBP Board of (2) Appear as counsel in any criminal case wherein an officer or employee of
Governors.10 the national or local government is accused of an offense committed in
relation to his office;
We modify the foregoing findings regarding the transgression of respondent as well as the
recommendation on the imposable penalty. (3) Collect any fee for their appearance in administrative proceedings
involving the local government unit of which he is an official; and
Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility Applies Only to Former
Government Lawyers
(4) Use property and personnel of the Government except when While, as already discussed, certain local elective officials (like governors, mayors, provincial
the sanggunian member concerned is defending the interest of the board members and councilors) are expressly subjected to a total or partial proscription to
Government. practice their profession or engage in any occupation, no such interdiction is made on
the punong barangay and the members of the sangguniang barangay. Expressio unius est
(c) Doctors of medicine may practice their profession even during official hours of exclusio alterius.15 Since they are excluded from any prohibition, the presumption is that they
work only on occasions of emergency: Provided, That the officials concerned do not are allowed to practice their profession. And this stands to reason because they are not
derive monetary compensation therefrom. mandated to serve full time. In fact, the sangguniang barangay is supposed to hold regular
sessions only twice a month.16
This is a special provision that applies specifically to the practice of profession by elective
local officials. As a special law with a definite scope (that is, the practice of profession by Accordingly, as punong barangay, respondent was not forbidden to practice his profession.
elective local officials), it constitutes an exception to Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713, the general However, he should have procured prior permission or authorization from the head of his
law on engaging in the private practice of profession by public officials and employees. Lex Department, as required by civil service regulations.
specialibus derogat generalibus.13
A Lawyer In Government Service Who Is Not Prohibited To Practice Law Must Secure
Under RA 7160, elective local officials of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays are Prior Authority From The Head Of His Department
the following: the governor, the vice governor and members of the sangguniang
panlalawigan for provinces; the city mayor, the city vice mayor and the members of A civil service officer or employee whose responsibilities do not require his time to be fully at
the sangguniang panlungsod for cities; the municipal mayor, the municipal vice mayor and the disposal of the government can engage in the private practice of law only with the written
the members of the sangguniang bayan for municipalities and the punong barangay, the permission of the head of the department concerned. 17 Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised
members of the sangguniang barangay and the members of the sangguniang kabataan for Civil Service Rules provides:
barangays.
Sec. 12. No officer or employee shall engage directly in any private business,
Of these elective local officials, governors, city mayors and municipal mayors are prohibited vocation, or professionor be connected with any commercial, credit, agricultural, or
from practicing their profession or engaging in any occupation other than the exercise of their industrial undertaking without a written permission from the head of the
functions as local chief executives. This is because they are required to render full time Department: Provided, That this prohibition will be absolute in the case of those
service. They should therefore devote all their time and attention to the performance of their officers and employees whose duties and responsibilities require that their entire time
official duties. be at the disposal of the Government; Provided, further, That if an employee is
granted permission to engage in outside activities, time so devoted outside of office
On the other hand, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang hours should be fixed by the agency to the end that it will not impair in any way the
panlungsod or sangguniang bayanmay practice their professions, engage in any occupation, efficiency of the officer or employee: And provided, finally, that no permission is
or teach in schools except during session hours. In other words, they may practice their necessary in the case of investments, made by an officer or employee, which do not
professions, engage in any occupation, or teach in schools outside their session hours. involve real or apparent conflict between his private interests and public duties, or in
Unlike governors, city mayors and municipal mayors, members of the sangguniang any way influence him in the discharge of his duties, and he shall not take part in the
panlalawigan,sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan are required to hold regular management of the enterprise or become an officer of the board of directors.
sessions only at least once a week.14 Since the law itself grants them the authority to practice (emphasis supplied)
their professions, engage in any occupation or teach in schools outside session hours, there
is no longer any need for them to secure prior permission or authorization from any other As punong barangay, respondent should have therefore obtained the prior written permission
person or office for any of these purposes. of the Secretary of Interior and Local Government before he entered his appearance as
counsel for Elizabeth and Pastor. This he failed to do.
The failure of respondent to comply with Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Let a copy of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and entered into the
Rules constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer: to obey the laws. Lawyers are servants records of respondent Atty. Vicente G. Rellosa. The Office of the Court Administrator shall
of the law, vires legis, men of the law. Their paramount duty to society is to obey the law and furnish copies to all the courts of the land for their information and guidance.
promote respect for it. To underscore the primacy and importance of this duty, it is enshrined
as the first canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility. SO ORDERED.

In acting as counsel for a party without first securing the required written permission,
respondent not only engaged in the unauthorized practice of law but also violated civil service
rules which is a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:

Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or


deceitful conduct. (emphasis supplied)

For not living up to his oath as well as for not complying with the exacting ethical standards of
the legal profession, respondent failed to comply with Canon 7 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility:

CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND


THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF
THE INTEGRATED BAR. (emphasis supplied)

Indeed, a lawyer who disobeys the law disrespects it. In so doing, he disregards legal ethics
and disgraces the dignity of the legal profession.

Public confidence in the law and in lawyers may be eroded by the irresponsible and improper
conduct of a member of the bar.18 Every lawyer should act and comport himself in a manner
that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession. 19

A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as an attorney for
violation of the lawyer's oath20 and/or for breach of the ethics of the legal profession as
embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Vicente G. Rellosa is hereby found GUILTY of professional


misconduct for violating his oath as a lawyer and Canons 1 and 7 and Rule 1.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility. He is therefore SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
period of six months effective from his receipt of this resolution. He is sternly WARNED that
any repetition of similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.

Respondent is strongly advised to look up and take to heart the meaning of the
word delicadeza.
FIRST DIVISION

MANUEL L. LEE, A.C. No. 5281


Complainant,
Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
-versus- CORONA,
AZCUNA and
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, JJ.

ATTY. REGINO B. TAMBAGO,


Respondent. Promulgated:
February 12, 2008
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:

In a letter-complaint dated April 10, 2000, complainant Manuel L. Lee charged


respondent Atty. Regino B. Tambago with violation of the Notarial Law and the ethics of the
legal profession for notarizing a spurious last will and testament.

In his complaint, complainant averred that his father, the decedent Vicente Lee, Sr.,
never executed the contested will. Furthermore, the spurious will contained the forged
signatures of Cayetano Noynay and Loreto Grajo, the purported witnesses to its execution.

In the said will, the decedent supposedly bequeathed his entire estate to his wife Lim
Hock Lee, save for a parcel of land which he devised to Vicente Lee, Jr. and Elena Lee, half-
siblings of complainant.

The will was purportedly executed and acknowledged before respondent on June 30,
1965.[1] Complainant, however, pointed out that the residence certificate [2]of the testator noted
in the acknowledgment of the will was dated January 5, 1962. [3] Furthermore, the signature of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).[13] Thus, the investigating commissioner of the
the testator was not the same as his signature as donor in a deed of donation [4] (containing IBP Commission on Bar Discipline recommended the suspension of respondent for a period
his purported genuine signature). Complainant averred that the signatures of his deceased of three months.
father in the will and in the deed of donation were in any way (sic) entirely and diametrically
opposed from (sic) one another in all angle[s].[5] The IBP Board of Governors, in its Resolution No. XVII-2006-285 dated May 26,
2006, resolved:
Complainant also questioned the absence of notation of the residence certificates of
the purported witnesses Noynay and Grajo. He alleged that their signatures had likewise [T]o ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
been forged and merely copied from their respective voters affidavits. APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of
Complainant further asserted that no copy of such purported will was on file in the this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully
archives division of the Records Management and Archives Office of the National supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and
Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). In this connection, the certification of the chief considering Respondents failure to comply with the laws in the discharge of
of the archives division dated September 19, 1999 stated: his function as a notary public, Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby suspended
from the practice of law for one year and Respondents notarial commission
Doc. 14, Page No. 4, Book No. 1, Series of 1965 refers to an AFFIDAVIT is Revoked and Disqualified from reappointment as Notary Public for two
executed by BARTOLOME RAMIREZ on June 30, 1965 and is available in (2) years.[14]
this Office[s] files.[6]

We affirm with modification.


Respondent in his comment dated July 6, 2001 claimed that the complaint against
him contained false allegations: (1) that complainant was a son of the decedent Vicente Lee, A will is an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law,
Sr. and (2) that the will in question was fake and spurious. He alleged that complainant was to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate, to take effect after his death. [15] A
not a legitimate son of Vicente Lee, Sr. and the last will and testament was validly executed will may either be notarial or holographic.
and actually notarized by respondent per affidavit [7] of Gloria Nebato, common-law wife of
Vicente Lee, Sr. and corroborated by the joint affidavit [8] of the children of Vicente Lee, Sr., The law provides for certain formalities that must be followed in the execution of wills.
namely Elena N. Lee and Vicente N. Lee, Jr. xxx. [9] The object of solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door on bad faith
and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guarantee their truth and
Respondent further stated that the complaint was filed simply to harass him because authenticity.[16]
the criminal case filed by complainant against him in the Office of the Ombudsman did not
prosper. A notarial will, as the contested will in this case, is required by law to be subscribed at
the end thereof by the testator himself. In addition, it should be attested and subscribed by
Respondent did not dispute complainants contention that no copy of the will was on three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.[17]
file in the archives division of the NCCA. He claimed that no copy of the contested will could
be found there because none was filed. The will in question was attested by only two witnesses, Noynay and Grajo. On this
circumstance alone, the will must be considered void. [18] This is in consonance with the rule
Lastly, respondent pointed out that complainant had no valid cause of action against that acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void,
him as he (complainant) did not first file an action for the declaration of nullity of the will and except when the law itself authorizes their validity.
demand his share in the inheritance.
The Civil Code likewise requires that a will must be acknowledged before a notary
In a resolution dated October 17, 2001, the Court referred the case to the Integrated public by the testator and the witnesses. [19] The importance of this requirement is highlighted
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. [10] by the fact that it was segregated from the other requirements under Article 805 and
embodied in a distinct and separate provision.[20]
In his report, the investigating commissioner found respondent guilty of violation of
pertinent provisions of the old Notarial Law as found in the Revised Administrative Code. The An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some
violation constituted an infringement of legal ethics, particularly Canon 1 [11] and Rule 1.01[12] of competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed. It involves an extra step
undertaken whereby the signatory actually declares to the notary public that the same is his of the residence certificate showing payment of the residence taxes by such
or her own free act and deed.[21] The acknowledgment in a notarial will has a two-fold person xxx.
purpose: (1) to safeguard the testators wishes long after his demise and (2) to assure that
his estate is administered in the manner that he intends it to be done.
In the issuance of a residence certificate, the law seeks to establish the true and
A cursory examination of the acknowledgment of the will in question shows that this correct identity of the person to whom it is issued, as well as the payment of residence taxes
particular requirement was neither strictly nor substantially complied with. For one, there was for the current year. By having allowed decedent to exhibit an expired residence certificate,
the conspicuous absence of a notation of the residence certificates of the notarial witnesses respondent failed to comply with the requirements of both the old Notarial Law and the
Noynay and Grajo in the acknowledgment. Similarly, the notation of the testators old Residence Tax Act. As much could be said of his failure to demand the exhibition of the
residence certificate in the same acknowledgment was a clear breach of the law. These residence certificates of Noynay and Grajo.
omissions by respondent invalidated the will.

As the acknowledging officer of the contested will, respondent was required to On the issue of whether respondent was under the legal obligation to furnish a copy
faithfully observe the formalities of a will and those of notarization. As we held in Santiago v. of the notarized will to the archives division, Article 806 provides:
Rafanan:[22]
Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by
The Notarial Law is explicit on the obligations and duties of notaries the testator and the witness. The notary public shall not be required to
public. They are required to certify that the party to every document retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of
acknowledged before him had presented the proper residence certificate (or Court. (emphasis supplied)
exemption from the residence tax); and to enter its number, place of issue
and date as part of such certification. Respondents failure, inadvertent or not, to file in the archives division a copy of the notarized
will was therefore not a cause for disciplinary action.

These formalities are mandatory and cannot be disregarded, considering the degree Nevertheless, respondent should be faulted for having failed to make the necessary
of importance and evidentiary weight attached to notarized documents. [23] A notary public, entries pertaining to the will in his notarial register. The old Notarial Law required the entry of
especially a lawyer,[24] is bound to strictly observe these elementary requirements. the following matters in the notarial register, in chronological order:

The Notarial Law then in force required the exhibition of the residence certificate 1. nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before
upon notarization of a document or instrument: him;
2. person executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument;
Section 251. Requirement as to notation of payment of [cedula] residence 3. witnesses, if any, to the signature;
tax. Every contract, deed, or other document acknowledged before a 4. date of execution, oath, or acknowledgment of the instrument;
notary public shall have certified thereon that the parties thereto have 5. fees collected by him for his services as notary;
presented their proper [cedula] residence certificate or are exempt from the 6. give each entry a consecutive number; and
[cedula] residence tax, and there shall be entered by the notary public as a 7. if the instrument is a contract, a brief description of the substance of the
part of such certificate the number, place of issue, and date of each [cedula] instrument.[27]
residence certificate as aforesaid.[25]

In an effort to prove that he had complied with the abovementioned rule, respondent
The importance of such act was further reiterated by Section 6 of the Residence Tax contended that he had crossed out a prior entry and entered instead the will of the decedent.
Act[26] which stated: As proof, he presented a photocopy of his notarial register. To reinforce his claim, he
presented a photocopy of a certification [28] stating that the archives division had no copy of the
When a person liable to the taxes prescribed in this Act acknowledges any affidavit of Bartolome Ramirez.
document before a notary public xxx it shall be the duty of such person xxx
with whom such transaction is had or business done, to require the exhibition A photocopy is a mere secondary evidence. It is not admissible unless it is shown
that the original is unavailable. The proponent must first prove the existence and cause of the
unavailability of the original,[29] otherwise, the evidence presented will not be admitted. Thus, The first and foremost duty of a lawyer is to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the
the photocopy of respondents notarial register was not admissible as evidence of the entry of Philippines, uphold the Constitution and obey the laws of the land.[40] For a lawyer is the
the execution of the will because it failed to comply with the requirements for the admissibility servant of the law and belongs to a profession to which society has entrusted the
of secondary evidence. administration of law and the dispensation of justice. [41]

In the same vein, respondents attempt to controvert the certification dated While the duty to uphold the Constitution and obey the law is an obligation imposed
September 21, 1999[30] must fail. Not only did he present a mere photocopy of the certification on every citizen, a lawyer assumes responsibilities well beyond the basic requirements of
dated March 15, 2000;[31] its contents did not squarely prove the fact of entry of the contested good citizenship. As a servant of the law, a lawyer should moreover make himself an example
will in his notarial register. for others to emulate.[42] Being a lawyer, he is supposed to be a model in the community in so
far as respect for the law is concerned.[43]
Notaries public must observe with utmost care [32] and utmost fidelity the basic
requirements in the performance of their duties, otherwise, the confidence of the public in the The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. [44] A breach of these
integrity of notarized deeds will be undermined.[33] conditions justifies disciplinary action against the erring lawyer. A disciplinary sanction is
imposed on a lawyer upon a finding or acknowledgment that he has engaged in professional
Defects in the observance of the solemnities prescribed by law render the entire will misconduct.[45] These sanctions meted out to errant lawyers include disbarment, suspension
invalid. This carelessness cannot be taken lightly in view of the importance and delicate and reprimand.
nature of a will, considering that the testator and the witnesses, as in this case, are no longer
alive to identify the instrument and to confirm its contents. [34]Accordingly, respondent must be Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction. [46] We have held in a
held accountable for his acts. The validity of the will was seriously compromised as a number of cases that the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution [47] and should
consequence of his breach of duty.[35] not be decreed if any punishment less severe such as reprimand, suspension, or fine will
accomplish the end desired.[48] The rule then is that disbarment is meted out only in clear
In this connection, Section 249 of the old Notarial Law provided: cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an
officer of the court.[49]
Grounds for revocation of commission. The following derelictions of duty
on the part of a notary public shall, in the discretion of the proper judge of Respondent, as notary public, evidently failed in the performance of the elementary
first instance, be sufficient ground for the revocation of his commission: duties of his office. Contrary to his claims that he exercised his duties as Notary Public with
due care and with due regard to the provision of existing law and had complied with the
xxx xxx xxx elementary formalities in the performance of his duties xxx, we find that he acted very
irresponsibly in notarizing the will in question. Such recklessness warrants the less severe
(b) The failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his punishment of suspension from the practice of law. It is, as well, a sufficient basis for the
notarial register touching his notarial acts in the manner required by revocation of his commission[50] and his perpetual disqualification to be commissioned as a
law. notary public.[51]

xxx xxx xxx


WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby found guilty of
professional misconduct. He violated (1) the Lawyers Oath; (2) Rule 138 of the Rules of
(f) The failure of the notary to make the proper notation regarding Court; (3) Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility; (4) Art. 806 of
cedula certificates.[36] the Civil Code and (5) the provisions of the old Notarial Law.

Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one
These gross violations of the law also made respondent liable for violation of his oath year and his notarial commission REVOKED. Because he has not lived up to the
as a lawyer and constituted transgressions of Section 20 (a), Rule 138 of the Rules of trustworthiness expected of him as a notary public and as an officer of the court, he
Court[37] and Canon 1[38] and Rule 1.01[39] of the CPR. is PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED from reappointment as a notary public.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to all the courts of the land, the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Bar Confidant, as well as made part of the
personal records of respondent.

SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION
ATTY. ALFONSO L. DELA A.M. No. P-07-2343
(formerly A.M. OCA IPI No.
VICTORIA,
The Court will never shirk its responsibility to impose discipline upon erring court
06-2416-P)
Complainant, employees and magistrates, nor hesitate to shield them from unfounded suits that serve only
to disrupt, rather than promote, the orderly administration of justice. [1]

Present:

- versus - We demonstrate the force of this pronouncement in the instant administrative case.
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,

Chairperson,

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
ATTY. MARIA FE ORIG-
CHICO-NAZARIO, and
MALOLOY-ON, Clerk of Court,
NACHURA, JJ.
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, In a sworn letter-complaint[2] dated November 21, 2005, Atty. Alfonso L. Dela Victoria
(Atty. Dela Victoria), a former judge, charged Atty. Maria Fe O. Maloloy-on (Atty. Maloloy-on),
Office of the Clerk of Court,
Promulgated: Clerk of Court of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Davao City, before the Office of
Davao City, the Court Administrator (OCA) with gross ignorance of the law for her refusal to accept the
cash bond being tendered by his clients.
Respondent.
August 14, 2007

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Atty. Dela Victoria alleged that, on November 12, 2005, a Saturday, he went to the
Office of the City Prosecutor, Davao City, because his clients, Butch and
Excel Verano (Veranos) were being detained by virtue of a warrantless arrest and after an
inquest; that he learned that the criminal information against the Veranos, which
recommended a bail of P2,000.00 each, had not yet been filed with the proper court as it still
RESOLUTION
lacked the signature of the City Prosecutor; that he went to see the MTCC Executive Judge
who suggested that a motion to set bail pursuant to Rule 114, Section 17(c) [3] should be filed;
that he then immediately called his secretary, dictated the contents of the motion, and
instructed her to immediately bring the motion to court so that the Executive Judge could act
on it; that before he left the MTCC, he passed by the Office of the MTCC Clerk of Court
offering to post a cash bond of P4,000.00; that Atty. Maloloy-on was out of the office, and so,
NACHURA, J.: he simply instructed his daughter-in-law, a relative of the Veranos, to wait for Atty. Maloloy-on
and pay the P4,000.00 cash bond; but that later that day, his daughter-in-law reported that
Atty. Maloloy-on did not accept the cash bond because no information had yet been filed. He
then added that his clients could not avail of the remedy under Rule 114, Section 17(c) issued an order[5] for the Veranos' release, without them posting any bail bond; and that
because, on Saturdays, the offices of the City Prosecutor and the MTCC Clerk of Court are the Veranos were even thankful for her assistance.
open only until 12 noon.

Atty. Maloloy-on presented a different version of the incident of November 17, 2005:
that Atty. Dela Victoria barged into her office, in a demanding and high-handed manner,
Atty. Dela Victoria further alleged that on Thursday, November 17, 2005, he went to see inquired why she refused to accept the cash bond; that she told him she was present then
and tried to explain her side, but Atty. Dela Victoria kept cutting her short and lectured her on
Atty. Maloloy-on to inquire why she refused to accept the cash bond, but that instead of giving
Rule 114, Section 17(c); that when she insisted on explaining, Atty. Dela Victoria arrogantly
a proper explanation, Atty. Maloloy-on "lectured" him, claiming that she could not accept the told her, "You should listen to me. I am a former judge and I know the law better than you
bond because there was no information to be used as basis, and that the City Prosecutor do;" that she explained that there was no refusal to accept the bond but merely a failure to
might quash the information prepared by the inquest Prosecutor; that even as he tried to post bond because of the absence of an order from the Executive Judge granting bail; that
explain that he had "already made an arrangement with the Executive Judge," Atty. Maloloy- Atty. Dela Victoria stood up, shouted at her, and as he made for the door, he turned around
on still insisted and tried to justify her refusal to accept the offered cash bond. and shouted, "What kind of a Clerk of Court are you? You are ignorant of the law. Bullshit!"

This, according to Atty. Dela Victoria, constituted gross ignorance of the law, even as
In a letter-reply[6] dated June 17, 2006, Atty. Dela Victoria reiterated that he was able
he said that he would not have filed this complaint if only Atty. Maloloy-on "apologized for her
to make arrangements with the Executive Judge regarding his motion to pay cash bond, but
procedural lapses." Atty. Maloloy-on refused to accept the cash bond purportedly on the ground that she is the
only one who can determine the amount of the bond to be deposited before she accepts the
same. He said that because of the refusal of Atty. Maloloy-on, the motion to tender the cash
bond could not be filed before the Executive Judge for appropriate action.
In her Comment,[4] Atty. Maloloy-on clarified that the Office of the Clerk of Court
holds office from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., on Saturdays, and that she was present
on November 12, 2005. She narrated that at about 11:30 a.m. that day, she went out of
the office to buy lunch; that when she returned ten minutes later, theVeranos, then Atty. Maloloy-on, in her Rejoinder,[7] denied any knowledge of the supposed agreement
accompanied by a police officer told her that they were posting a cash bond for their between Atty. Dela Victoria and the MTCC Executive Judge, as she had not received any
temporary release, and handed her a piece of paper with the amount of P2,000.00 advice or instruction, verbal or written, about it. She stated that what was given her on
scribbled on it; that after learning that the case was still with the City Prosecutor's Office, November 12, 2005 was merely a piece of paper on which was scribbled the amount
she personally went to said office to verify the status of the criminal information; that she of P2,000.00, and which turned out to be in the handwriting of Atty. Dela Victoria. She also
was told that it was probably with the City Prosecutor who had already left because it was denied the charge that she arrogated unto herself the power of determining the amount of
already noontime; that she went to the Office of the MTCC Executive Judge, but the latter bond to be posted in criminal cases. To support this, she submitted a certification [8] to this
was no longer in the office; that she inquired from Branch Clerk of Court effect dated June 28, 2006executed by MTCC Executive Judge George E. Omelio.
Atty. Zenia Villariza (Atty. Villariza) if Atty. DelaVictoria filed a motion to fix bail, but was
informed that there was none. It was then that she returned to the Veranos and told them
that she could not accept the cash bond, and instead, to come back Monday, assuring
them that she would give priority to the case.
The OCA, in its Report[9] dated July 11, 2006, recommended that the subject
Atty. Maloloy-on further averred that in the morning of November 14, 2005, an administrative complaint against Atty. Maloloy-on be dismissed for lack of merit, finding that
information for Resistance and Disobedience to an Agent of a Person in Authority was filed she was justified in not accepting the cash bond being offered for the temporary release of
with their court; that since the rules provide for summary procedure for the offense, she told the Veranos because the guidelines for the application of Rule 114, Sec. 17(c) had not been
the Veranos to go to the Executive Judge for interview; that after the interview, the judge complied with. The OCA noted that Atty. Dela Victoria failed to substantiate his allegation that
he truly filed a motion/petition to fix bail and that the court granted the same. The OCA
further recommended that Atty. Dela Victoria be ordered to explain why no disciplinary action
should be taken against him for filing a baseless harassment complaint against Atty. Maloloy-
on.

The OCA, in a Memorandum [16] dated April 11, 2007, found Atty. Dela Victoria's
explanation unacceptable and scant of any consideration. Being a former judge and now a
practicing lawyer, he is expected to be fully aware of the requirements before invoking Rule
114, Section 17(c) of the Rules of Court. The OCA found Atty. Maloloy-on to have acted
In our Resolution[10] of August 16, 2006, we (1) noted the sworn letter-complaint of Atty. within her authority when she refused to accept the offered cash bonds in the absence of an
Dela Victoria, the comment of Atty. Maloloy-on thereto, and the report of the OCA; (2) order from the court granting the same. It also noted that there was no evidence on record to
dismissed the complaint for lack of merit; and (3) directed Atty. Dela Victoria to explain within support the allegation that Atty. Dela Victoria really filed the proper motion and that the court
ten (10) days from notice why he should not be disciplined as an erring member of the bar for allowed it.
filing his baseless harassment complaint. This directive to Atty. Dela Victoria was reiterated
in our October 25, 2006Resolution.[11]

For filing a frivolous complaint, the OCA recommended that Atty. Dela Victoria be found
guilty of Contempt of Court, meted a fine of P2,000.00, and sternly warned that a repetition of
Atty. Dela Victoria filed by registered mail on October 31, 2006, an undated letter- the same offense in the future shall be more severely dealt with. Accordingly, the OCA
explanation[12] which merely restated the allegations in his letter-complaint. He also requested recommended the denial of his request for an investigation in view of the dismissal of his
that an investigation be conducted to verify the allegations in his complaint. He then filed an complaint.
undated Compliance,[13] stating that he merely invoked the Rules of Court when he filed his
complaint. He reiterated his request for an inquiry and insisted that Atty. Maloloy-on
exceeded her authority in arrogantly claiming that she knows the Rules and the law regarding
the posting of bail bonds. In support of this, he narrated that Atty. Maloloy-on once refused to
accept a petition for execution of a compromise agreement entered before the Lupong The Court's Ruling
Tagapamayapa filed by a patron of his radio program, and instead advised the petitioner to
file a complaint before the court to vindicate her rights. It was allegedly only after a lengthy
discussion with a regional state prosecutor, a member of the panel of the radio program, that We agree with the OCA.
Atty. Maloloy-on acceded to the filing of the petition.

Considering that he was a former judge and had been engaged in the practice of law
for thirty (30) years, Atty. Dela Victoria is expected to be conversant with the scope and
application of Rule 114, Section 17(c) of the Rules of Court which he invokes. He should
In a letter[14] dated January 24, 2007, Atty. Maloloy-on replied that the additional have known that he could not insist on the acceptance of the cash bond in favor of his clients
allegations of Atty. Dela Victoria deserve no explanation because they are irrelevant to the without the necessary order from the court granting his motion to post the same. In fact, his
issue, false, misleading, and merely intended to cast a bad image on her person not in accord assertion that he had already made arrangements with the MTCC Executive Judge when
with legal ethics. there was actually no proper court order amounts to an attempt to mislead Atty. Maloloy-on
into processing the unauthorized temporary release of his clients.

In our Resolution[15] dated February 26, 2007, after noting the letters of both parties, we Lawyers are required to act with the highest standard of truthfulness, fair play and
referred the matter to the OCA for evaluation, report, and recommendation within thirty (30) nobility in the conduct of their litigation and their relations with their clients, the opposing
days from notice.
parties, the other counsel and the courts.[17] They are duty bound to avoid improprieties, he is with the primary task of assisting in the speedy and efficient administration of justice by
which give the appearance of influencing the court.[18] Atty.Dela Victoria failed in this regard. Canon 12[23] of the Code of Professional Responsibility.[24] Although no person should be
penalized for the exercise of the right to litigate, this right must be exercised in good faith. A
lawyer who files an unfounded complaint must be sanctioned because as an officer of the
court, he does not discharge his duty by filing frivolous petitions that only add to the workload
of the judiciary.[25] Such filing of baseless complaints is indeed contemptuous of the courts. [26]
Further, as correctly pointed out by Atty. Maloloy-on and affirmed by the OCA, if Atty. Ordinarily, lawyers who file unfounded complaints are disciplined by imposing upon
Dela Victoria insists that he filed his motion to fix the amount of bail with the MTCC Executive them a fine in an amount commensurate to the gravity of the offense to be determined by this
Judge and the same was granted he should have attached copies of the motion and the Court as the disciplining authority.[27] On various occasions, this Court has imposed a fine
Court Order to his complaint. He did not. Furthermore, there is nothing on record that refutes ranging from P2,000.00 to P5,000.00 for cases similar to the one at bench. In this case, the
the statement of Atty. Maloloy-on that she inquired from Atty. Villariza, Branch Clerk of Court OCA recommends a fine of P2,000.00. We agree.
of the MTCC Executive Judge, and was informed that no petition to fix bail had been filed.

As to Atty. Dela Victoria's request for further investigation, the same must be denied,
it having become moot under the circumstances.

In administrative proceedings, the complainant has the burden of proving by


substantial evidence the allegations in his complaint. Mere allegation is not evidence and is WHEREFORE, for filing his unfounded complaint against Atty. Maria Fe O. Maloloy-
not equivalent to proof.[19] Atty. Dela Victoria failed to substantiate this burden. In stark on, Atty. Alfonso L. Dela Victoria is found guilty of Contempt of Court and is meted
contrast, Atty. Maloloy-on proved truthful her defense when she submitted a copy of the entire a FINE of P2,000.00, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar
court records involving the criminal case against the Veranos, [20] including the offense in the future shall be dealt with more severely. For having become moot because of
certification[21] of Branch Clerk of Court Atty. Villariza that Atty. Dela Victoria did not file any the dismissal of his administrative complaint, the request of Atty. Dela Victoria for an
motion to set bail and the certification[22] of the MTCC Executive Judge Omelio that she did investigation is DENIED.
not arrogate unto herself, at any time in her capacity as clerk of court, the authority of
determining the amount of bail to be posted.
SO ORDERED.

Culled from his very own complaint, it was the failure of Atty. Maloloy-on to apologize
to Atty. Dela Victoria that drove him to institute this administrative case, especially after being
lectured on why she could not accept his tendered cash bond. Obviously, he considered
this an affront, given that he is a former judge and has been engaged in the practice of law for
three (3) decades. Thus, he filed his complaint for alleged gross ignorance of the law, even
without competent evidence to support it.

We cannot overemphasize that a lawyer is part of the machinery in the administration


of justice. Like the court itself, he is an instrument to advance its ends the speedy, efficient,
impartial, correct, and inexpensive adjudication of cases and the prompt satisfaction of final
judgments. He should not only help attain these objectives but should likewise avoid
unethical or improper practices that impede, obstruct, or prevent their realization, charged as
GARCIA, JJ.

Promulgated:

ATTY. ROCELES F. MADIANDA,

Respondent. July 3, 2007

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

DECISION

GARCIA, J.:

FIRST DIVISION

Under consideration is Resolution No. XVI-2004-472 of the Board of Governors,


MA. LUISA HADJULA, A.C. No. 6711 Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), relative to the complaint for disbarment filed by herein
complainant Ma. Luisa Hadjula against respondent Atty. Roceles F. Madianda.
Complainant,
Present:

The case started when, in an AFFIDAVIT-COMPLAINT[1] bearing date September 7,


PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, 2002 and filed with the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant charged Atty. Roceles
* F. Madianda with violation of Article 209 [2] of the Revised Penal Code and Canon Nos. 15.02
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
and 21.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
CORONA,
- versus -
AZCUNA, and
In said affidavit-complaint, complainant alleged that she and respondent used to be
friends as they both worked at the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) whereat respondent was
the Chief Legal Officer while she was the Chief Nurse of the Medical, Dental and Nursing In her answer, styled as COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT,[5] respondent denied giving legal
Services. Complainant claimed that, sometime in 1998, she approached respondent for some advice to the complainant and dismissed any suggestion about the existence of a lawyer-
legal advice. Complainant further alleged that, in the course of their conversation which was client relationship between them. Respondent also stated the observation that the supposed
supposed to be kept confidential, she disclosed personal secrets and produced copies of a confidential data and sensitive documents adverted to are in fact matters of common
marriage contract, a birth certificate and a baptismal certificate, only to be informed later by knowledge in the BFP. The relevant portions of the answer read:
the respondent that she (respondent) would refer the matter to a lawyer friend. It was
malicious, so complainant states, of respondent to have refused handling her case only after
she had already heard her secrets.
5. I specifically deny the allegation of F/SUPT. MA. LUISA C.
HADJULA in paragraph 4 of her AFFIDAVIT-COMPLAINT for reason that she
never WAS MY CLIENT nor we ever had any LAWYER-CLIENT
Continuing, complainant averred that her friendship with respondent soured after her RELATIONSHIP that ever existed ever since and that never obtained any
filing, in the later part of 2000, of criminal and disciplinary actions against the latter. What, per legal advice from me regarding her PERSONAL PROBLEMS or PERSONAL
complainants account, precipitated the filing was when respondent, then a member of the SECRETS. She likewise never delivered to me legal documents much more
BFP promotion board, demanded a cellular phone in exchange for the complainants told me some confidential information or secrets. That is because I never
promotion. entertain LEGAL QUERIES or CONSULTATION regarding PERSONAL
MATTERS since I know as a LAWYER of the Bureau of Fire Protection that I
am not allowed to privately practice law and it might also result to CONFLICT
OF INTEREST. As a matter of fact, whenever there will be PERSONAL
According to complainant, respondent, in retaliation to the filing of the aforesaid MATTERS referred to me, I just referred them to private law practitioners and
actions, filed a COUNTER COMPLAINT [3] with the Ombudsman charging her never entertain the same, NOR listen to their stories or examine or accept
(complainant) with violation of Section 3(a) of Republic Act No. 3019,[4] falsification of public any document.
documents and immorality, the last two charges being based on the disclosures complainant
earlier made to respondent. And also on the basis of the same disclosures, complainant
further stated, a disciplinary case was also instituted against her before the Professional
Regulation Commission. 9. I specifically deny the allegation of F/SUPT. MA. LUISA C.
HADJULA in paragraph 8 of her AFFIDAVIT-COMPLAINT, the truth of the
matter is that her ILLICIT RELATIONSHIP and her illegal and unlawful
activities are known in the Bureau of Fire Protection since she also filed
Complainant seeks the suspension and/or disbarment of respondent for the latters act CHILD SUPPORT case against her lover where she has a child .
of disclosing personal secrets and confidential information she revealed in the course of
seeking respondents legal advice.

Moreover, the alleged DOCUMENTS she purportedly have shown to


me sometime in 1998, are all part of public records .
In an order dated October 2, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline required
respondent to file her answer to the complaint.
Furthermore, F/SUPT. MA. LUISA C. HADJULA, is filing the instant Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution
case just to get even with me or to force me to settle and withdraw the as Annex A; and , finding the recommendation fully supported by the
CASES I FILED AGAINST HER since she knows that she will certainly be evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering the
DISMISSED FROM SERVICE, REMOVED FROM THE PRC ROLL and actuation of revealing information given to respondent during a legal
CRIMINALLY CONVICTED of her ILLICIT, IMMORAL, ILLEGAL and consultation, Atty. Roceles Madianda is hereby REPRIMANDED.
UNLAWFUL ACTS.

We AGREE with the recommendation and the premises holding it together.

On October 7, 2004, the Investigating Commissioner of the IBP Commission on Bar


Discipline came out with a Report and Recommendation, stating that the information related As it were, complainant went to respondent, a lawyer who incidentally was also then
by complainant to the respondent is protected under the attorney-client privilege a friend, to bare what she considered personal secrets and sensitive documents for the
communication. Prescinding from this postulate, the Investigating Commissioner found the purpose of obtaining legal advice and assistance. The moment complainant approached the
respondent to have violated legal ethics when she [revealed] information given to her then receptive respondent to seek legal advice, a veritable lawyer-client relationship evolved
during a legal consultation, and accordingly recommended that respondent be reprimanded between the two. Such relationship imposes upon the lawyer certain restrictions
therefor, thus: circumscribed by the ethics of the profession. Among the burdens of the relationship is that
which 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, not inclined to handle the clients case is hardly of consequence. Of little moment,
too, is the fact that no formal professional engagement follows the consultation. Nor will it
make any difference that no contract whatsoever was executed by the parties to memorialize
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended the relationship. As we said in Burbe v. Magulta,[6] -
that respondent Atty. Roceles Madianda be reprimanded for revealing the
secrets of the complainant.

A lawyer-client relationship was established from the very first


moment complainant asked respondent for legal advise regarding the
formers business. To constitute professional employment, it is not essential
that the client employed the attorney professionally on any previous
On November 4, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVI-2004- occasion.
472 reading as follows:

It is not necessary that any retainer be paid, promised, or charged;


RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not afterward handle the
and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating case for which his service had been sought.
It a person, in respect to business affairs or troubles of any kind, The purpose of the rule of confidentiality is actually to protect the client from possible
consults a lawyer with a view to obtaining professional advice or assistance, breach of confidence as a result of a consultation with a lawyer.
and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces with the consultation, then
the professional employments is established.

The seriousness of the respondents offense notwithstanding, the Court feels that there
is room for compassion, absent compelling evidence that the respondent acted with ill-
Likewise, a lawyer-client relationship exists notwithstanding the close will. Without meaning to condone the error of respondents ways, what at bottom is before
personal relationship between the lawyer and the complainant or the non- the Court is two former friends becoming bitter enemies and filing charges and counter-
payment of the formers fees. charges against each other using whatever convenient tools and data were readily available.
Unfortunately, the personal information respondent gathered from her conversation with
complainant became handy in her quest to even the score. At the end of the day, it appears
clear to us that respondent was actuated by the urge to retaliate without perhaps realizing
that, in the process of giving vent to a negative sentiment, she was violating the rule on
confidentiality.

Dean Wigmore lists the essential factors to establish the existence of the attorney-
client privilege communication, viz: IN VIEW WHEREOF, respondent Atty. Roceles F. Madianda is
hereby REPRIMANDED and admonished to be circumspect in her handling of information
acquired as a result of a lawyer-client relationship. She is also STERNLY WARNED against
a repetition of the same or similar act complained of.

(1) Where legal advice of any kind is sought (2) from a professional
legal adviser in his capacity as such, (3) the communications relating to that
purpose, (4) made in confidence (5) by the client, (6) are at his instance SO ORDERED.
permanently protected (7) from disclosure by himself or by the legal advisor,
(8) except the protection be waived.[7]

With the view we take of this case, respondent indeed breached his duty of preserving
the confidence of a client. As found by the IBP Investigating Commissioner, the documents
shown and the information revealed in confidence to the respondent in the course of the legal
consultation in question, were used as bases in the criminal and administrative complaints
lodged against the complainant.
NAPOLEON CAGAS, A.M. No. RTJ-06-1979
Complainant, [Formerly OCA IPI No. 05-2268-RTJ]

Present:

- versus -

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,

JUDGE ROSARIO B. AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,

TORRECAMPO, CALLEJO, SR.,*

Presiding Judge, CHICO-NAZARIO, and

Regional Trial Court, NACHURA, JJ.

Branch 33, Pili,

Camarines Sur, Promulgated:

Respondent. March 14, 2007

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

RESOLUTION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court Before us is an Administrative Complaint[1] dated April 12, 2005 of Napoleon Cagas (complainant)
Manila charging Judge Rosario B. Torrecampo (respondent), Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 33, Pili, Camarines Sur with Serious Neglect of Duty, Falsification of Public Documents,
Incompetence, Knowingly Rendering an Unjust Judgment, and Infidelity to the Canons of Legal Ethics
and Moral Standards relative to Criminal Case Nos. P-2196 to P-2201 entitled People of
the Philippines v. Genuival Cagas, Wilson Butin and Julio Astillero.

THIRD DIVISION
Complainant alleges: He is the brother of accused Genuival Cagas (Genuival). In 1992, criminal or is not supported by evidence, or both. The same is said to be rendered knowingly when it is made
charges for murder were filed against Genuival, Wilson Butin(Wilson), and Julio Astillero, and they were deliberately and with malice. It is a fact that the evidence presented during the bail hearing shall be
arrested and detained without bail. The trial was terminated in June 2000 and the cases were automatically reproduced at the trial. The findings and discussions contained in the Resolution of the
submitted for decision. For almost 11 years, the accused had lingered in jail but no decision was Court of Appeals (CA) are very material to the determination of the issues. She made it clear, under the
rendered. Respondent failed to resolve the cases submitted for decision for over four years, findings of facts, that she adopted both the Order of Judge Panga and the Resolution of the CA after
prompting Genuival to file motions to resolve the cases. An organization called CAMJUST wrote she reviewed the records of the hearing and the application for bail. She consistently performed her
Hon. Hilario Davide, Jr. and explained the situation of the accused. Meanwhile, Wilson died in duties with all candor and fidelity to her oath. If ever there were delays in the rendition of the decisions,
incarceration. The remaining two accused filed another plea to resolve the cases. On January 11, the same happened because of circumstances beyond her control. She has shared a major part of her
2005, counsel for the accused filed a Motion to Dismiss invoking the constitutional rights of the accused life as an educator and public servant and lived simply and honorably.
to a speedy disposition of cases considering hibernation for about five years from the date said cases
were submitted for resolution in 2000. The motion was set for hearing on January 19, 2005. Counsel
for the accused received an Order setting the promulgation of the Decision on January 18, 2005,
convicting the accused, one day ahead of the hearing of the Motion to Dismiss. The promulgation of In the Agenda Report[3] dated January 23, 2006, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA)
the decision set one day ahead of the hearing of the motion to dismiss will hostage the hearing of the submitted its evaluation and recommendation, to wit:
motion and render it moot and academic. From June 2000 to January 2005, 55 months had elapsed
before respondent wrote her decision. Each time respondent makes a certification that she has no
pending cases for resolution, respondent must be criminally charged for falsification. If respondent is
not guilty of serious negligence for failing to decide the cases against the accused in a span of almost EVALUATION: It is to be noted that respondent had already been sanctioned
five years, it follows that she is incompetent. Respondent ought to know that a resolution of a bail for her failure to decide cases within the prescribed period.
hearing is not a decision, and that denial of bail is not that degree of evidence required for a court to
pronounce the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Yet, respondent merely adopted the resolution
of the bail hearing and on that basis convicted the accused. Respondent failed to mention in her
decision that the trial resumed only six years later and the witnesses were placed on the stand only at In Administrative Matter No. 03-7-427-RTC (Re: Report on Judicial Audit
that time. Respondent failed to mention that witnesses testified more than six years after the conducted in the Regional Trial Court, Pili, Camarines Sur, Branch 33), the Court
occurrence of the alleged murder. issued a Resolution on 13 August 2003 imposing upon respondent a fine in the
amount of P1,000.00 for her failure to decide cases within the reglementary period
with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more
severely. Respondent was granted in the same resolution a thirty (30) day period
In her Comment[2] dated July 25, 2005, respondent contends: The records of Criminal Case Nos. within which to decide a number of cases, including the subject criminal cases.
P-2196 to P-2201 were remanded to the lower court sometime in the middle part of 1997. She had just
assumed her duties as presiding judge of RTC, Branch 33, Pili, Camarines Sur. Due to postponements
at the instance of the accused, they were finally arraigned on January 5, 1998. The pre-trial was held
on August 10 and September 2, 1998. After several hearings, the cases were deemed submitted for While we consider the predicament of the respondent and are inclined to be
decision on December 8, 2000. On November 14, 2001, she requested time to finalize the decision in compassionate, we also realize that compassion has its limits. We cannot close our
several cases including Criminal Case Nos. P-2196 to P-2201, due to illness hounding her eyes to the fact that the[sic] she had been sanctioned for her failure to decide cases
family. On January 15, 2002, she requested for another extension of 30 days to decide some cases seasonably as required by law. The subject criminal cases were submitted for
including Criminal Case Nos. P-2196 to P-2201 due to lower back pains which prevents her from sitting decision as early as December 2000. Respondent decided them only on 10 January
down for a long period of time. On June 10, 2003, she requested for another extension to decide 2005 or after five (5) years from the date of their submission for decision. It took her
Criminal Case Nos. P-2196 to P-2201 due to health problems, resulting to her hospitalization more than one (1) year to comply with the extension of time granted to her to decide
on February 17 to 19, 2003 for hypertension and pulmonaryKock's disease. She took a two-month them in the Courts 13 August 2003 Resolution. Now, respondent seeks the Courts
leave of absence on doctor's advice and returned to duty in May 2003. On August 13, 2003, the Court understanding once again giving the same reasons that she had stated in her earlier
granted her request for extension of 30 days to decide cases including Criminal Case Nos. P-2196 to P- requests for extension of time her recurring health problems. The Court may grant
2201. During the early part of 2004 to date, she has been on treatment for enlarged thyroid gland. The compassion but only to a certain extent.
foregoing circumstances which were beyond her control adversely affected and hampered her capacity
to perform and not neglect of duty on her part. It is not correct, fair, nor just to say that she had not
studied the cases. She spent time poring over the records of the cases. The court has only one
computer and the final draft consisting of 53 pages was completed and filed with the office of the clerk In fact, in case of poor health, the judge concerned needs only to ask the
of court on January 10, 2005. The Motion to Dismiss was filed onJanuary 13, 2005. The monthly report Court for an extension of time to decide cases (Report on the Judicial Audit
of cases would readily show that Criminal Case Nos. P-2196 to P-2201 were disclosed and reported as Conducted in the MTCC, Branch 5, Bacolod City, A.M. No. 04-3-63-
among the cases pending decision. There cannot, therefore, be falsification of public documents under MTCC, November 23, 2004). Also, the Court allows a certain degree of latitude to
the circumstances. Her inability to decide the cases within the required period was due to illness and judges and grants them a reasonable extension of time to decide and resolve cases
other circumstances beyond her control. A judgment, to be unjust, must be one that is contrary to law upon proper application by the judge concerned upon meritorious grounds (Office of
the Court Administrator vs. Judge Francisco Joven, A.M. No. RTJ-01-1646, March 11, 1. The present administrative complaint against Judge Rosario
2003). In the instant case, the Court had already given respondent the extension of B. Torrecampo be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter; and
time she needed.

2. The respondent be declared GUILTY of undue delay in rendering a decision


The neglect of duty committed by respondent lies particularly in failing to within the reglementary period and be FINED in the amount of Eleven
decide the subject criminal cases within the reglementary period compounded by the Thousand Pesos (P11,000.00).
fact that she again failed to decide them within the extended period granted to her by
the Court. For such delay, respondent must be accountable lest requests for
extension of time may be subject to abuse.
We agree with the findings and recommendations of the OCA, with modification as to the
recommended penalty.

From the records of the OCA, OAS-Leave Division, the only available In the Resolution of March 6, 2006, the Court required the parties to manifest their willingness to
certificates of service of respondent were for the months of December 2003; February submit the case for resolution based on the pleadings filed. The Court, in its Resolution of January 17,
2004 to June 2004; and October 2004 to December 2004. These available 2007, deemed the case submitted for resolution for failure of the parties to manifest their willingness to
certificates were not properly accomplished by the respondent. She did not provide a submit the case for resolution based on the pleadings filed.
list of the case numbers and titles of the cases submitted for decision that she was
asking for extension of time to decide. She merely put a check mark on the item The Constitution provides that all lower courts must decide or resolve cases or matters brought
illness of judge among others, as one of her reasons for requesting an extension. before them three months from the time a case or matter is submitted for decision, [4] in view of the right
of all persons to the speedy disposition of their cases.[5] Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct also directs judges to dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases within the
required periods. For it cannot be gainsaid that justice delayed is justice denied. Procrastination
Nevertheless, the submission of the monthly report which includes the subject among members of the judiciary in rendering decisions and acting upon cases before them not only
criminal cases as among those cases submitted for decision but not yet decided, causes great injustice to the parties involved but also invites suspicion of ulterior motives on the part of
negates respondents alleged intent to falsify her certificate of service. the judge.[6] If public confidence in the judiciary is to be preserved, judges must perform their official
duties with utmost diligence.[7] There is no excuse for delay nor negligence in the performance of
judicial functions.

The imputation that the decision rendered by the respondent was unjust is an In Re: Report on the Judicial Audit and Physical Inventory of Cases in the Regional Trial Court,
issue which is judicial in nature and is best left to the Court of Appeals to which the Branch 54, Bacolod City,[8] citing Office of the CourtAdministrator v. Judge Aquino,[9] we held that
accused have taken recourse through a Notice of Appeal that they filed on 24 January members of the judiciary have the sworn duty to administer justice without undue delay. For failing to
2005. do so, respondent Judge has to suffer the consequences thereof. Any delay in the disposition of cases
undermines the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary. The Court has consistently impressed
upon members of the judiciary the need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously under the time-
honored precept that justice delayed is justice denied. [10] It is the duty of every judge to resolve cases
Undue Delay in Rendering a Decision or Order is classified under Section 9, filed before him with good dispatch. Undue delay in the disposition of cases x x x erodes the faith and
Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court as a less serious offense. Section 11 (B) of confidence of the people in the judiciary and unnecessarily blemishes its stature.[11]
the same Rule provides the imposable penalty for such offense as follows: (1)
suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) Records reveal that the criminal cases subject of herein complaint were submitted for decision
month nor more than three (3) months; or (2) a fine of more than P10,000.00 but not on December 8, 2000. The Court granted respondent's requests for several extensions of 30
exceeding P20,000.00. days, i.e., November 14, 2001, January 15, 2002, and June 10, 2003, within which to decide said
cases, due to recurring health problems, such as hypertension and
pulmonary Kock's disease. However, despite all the extensions granted by the Court, respondent still
failed to seasonably render decision on the subject cases. Record further reveals that the decision on
RECOMMENDATION: It is respectfully submitted for the consideration of the the criminal cases subject of herein complaint was rendered only on January 10, 2005, or more than
Honorable Court the following recommendations: four years after the same were submitted for decision on December 8, 2000. This, to our mind, is a
clear violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Constitution requiring the early disposition of
cases so as not to erode the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary.
While we commiserate with the misfortunes that befell respondent and her family, we cannot
close our eyes to the fact that respondent miserably failed to abide by the high standards set forth by On the allegation that respondent merely adopted the resolution of the bail hearing and on the
the Code of Judicial Conduct. It cannot be gainsaid that inability to decide a case within the required basis thereof convicted the accused, we find the same untenable. Section 8, Rule 114 of the Rules of
period is not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency. The Court has constantly reminded judges to Court provides, inter alia, that the evidence presented during the bail hearing shall be considered
decide cases promptly. Delay not only results in undermining the peoples faith in the judiciary from automatically reproduced at the trial. In this case, respondent explained that the findings and
whom the prompt hearing of their supplications is anticipated and expected; it also reinforces in the discussions contained in the CA Resolution are very material to the determination of the issues and she
mind of the litigants the impression that the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly, and worse, it invites adopted both the Order of Judge Panga and the CA Resolution after reviewing the records of the
suspicion of ulterior motives on the part of the judge. [12] Failure to decide cases on time constitutes hearing and the application for bail. We find nothing irregular in the act of respondent in adopting the
inefficiency that merits administrative sanction.[13] Order and Resolution of Judge Panga and the CA, respectively.
In sum, we find respondent guilty of undue delay in rendering decision in Criminal Case Nos. P-
Moreover, the Code of Judicial Conduct decrees that a judge should administer justice impartially 2196 to P-2201 for her failure to resolve the same within thereglementary period and should be
and without delay. She should be imbued with a high sense of duty and responsibility in the discharge penalized accordingly.
of her obligation to promptly administer justice. It need not be overemphasized that any delay in the
determination or resolution of a case no matter how insignificant is, at the bottom line, delay in the Section 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC, classifies undue
administration of justice in general.[14] Prompt disposition of cases is attained basically through the delay in rendering a decision or order as a less serious charge which carries any of the following
efficiency and dedication to duty of judges. If they do not possess these traits, delay in the disposition sanctions: suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) nor more
of cases is inevitable to the prejudice of litigants. Accordingly, judges should be imbued with a high than three (3) months, or a fine of more than Php 10,000 but not exceeding Php 20,000.
sense of duty and responsibility in the discharge of their obligation to promptly administer justice.[15]
Considering that respondent was priorly fined[20] in the amount of Php 1,000.00 for her failure
Anent the charge that respondent falsified her certificate of service by stating that she has no to decide cases within the reglementary period and warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts
pending cases for resolution, we find the same not supported by substantial evidence and, perforce, shall be dealt with more severely, and considering the illness that beleaguered her, we find it proper to
must fail. impose a fine of Php10,000.00 with stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the
future shall be dealt with more severely.
As correctly observed by the OCA, the available certificates of service of respondent were for the
months of December 2003; February to June 2004; and October to December 2004. Although these WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Rosario B. Torrecampo, RTC, Branch
certifications were not properly accomplished by respondent, as she failed to indicate the case numbers 33, Pili, Camarines Sur, guilty of undue delay in rendering a decision within thereglementary period and
and titles of the cases submitted for decision that she was asking for extension of time to decide, the is FINED in the amount of Php 10,000.00 with STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or
monthly report of cases includes the subject criminal cases as among those submitted for decision but similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
not yet decided.
SO ORDERED.
On the imputation that the decision rendered by respondent was unjust, we find it unnecessary to
delve into due to the fact that the questioned decision is the subject of an appeal with the CA and is best
left to the sound judgment of the latter, it being judicial in nature.[16]

On the allegation that respondent rendered a decision promulgated a day ahead of the hearing of
the Motion to Dismiss, implying that respondent purposely did so in order to preempt the resolution of
the Motion, we find the same without merit.

Records show that the Motion of complainant dated January 11, 2005 was received by the RTC
on January 13, 2005,[17] or three days after the Decision was finalized on January 10, 2005 and
forwarded to the Office of the Clerk of Court for promulgation on January 18, 2005, thus negating the
allegation of complainant that respondent purposely did so to render his Motion moot and
academic. Malice or bad faith on the part of respondent is not alleged and shown by complainant.

For administrative liability to attach, respondent must be shown to have been moved by bad faith,
dishonesty, hatred or some other motive. There exists no competent evidence that respondent in
disposing of the criminal cases has been moved by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred, or some other
motive. Moreover, a judge enjoys the presumption of regularity in the performance of her function no
less than any other public officer. The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by
affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a duty.[18] The presumption, however, prevails
until it is overcome by no less than clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Thus, unless the
presumption is rebutted, it becomes conclusive.[19]
CYNTHIA ADVINCULA, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. ERNESTO M. MACABATA, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Before Us is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by Cynthia Advincula against respondent Atty.
Ernesto M. Macabata, charging the latter with Gross Immorality.

Complainant alleged the following:

Sometime on 1st week of December 2004 complainant [Cynthia Advincula] seek the legal
advice of the respondent [Atty. Macabata], regarding her collectibles from Queensway Travel
and Tours. As promised, he sent Demand Letter dated December 11, 2004 (copy attached as
Annex "I") to the concerned parties.

On February 10, 2005, met (sic) at Zensho Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City to
discuss the possibility of filing the complaint against Queensway Travel and Tours because
they did not settle their accounts as demanded. After the dinner, respondent sent complainant
home and while she is about to step out of the car, respondent hold (sic) her arm and kissed
her on the cheek and embraced her very tightly.

Again, on March 6, 2005, at about past 10:00 in the morning, she met respondent at
Starbucks coffee shop in West Avenue, Quezon City to finalize the draft of the complaint to be
filed in Court. After the meeting, respondent offered again a ride, which he usually did every
time they met. Along the way, complainant was wandering (sic) why she felt so sleepy where
in fact she just got up from bed a few hours ago. At along Roosevelt Avenue immediately
after corner of Felipe St., in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City when she was almost
restless respondent stopped his car and forcefully hold (sic) her face and kissed her lips while
the other hand was holding her breast. Complainant even in a state of shocked (sic)
succeeded in resisting his criminal attempt and immediately manage (sic) to go (sic) out of
the car.

In the late afternoon, complainant sent a text message to respondent informing him that she
Republic of the Philippines decided to refer the case with another lawyer and needs (sic) to get back the case folder from
SUPREME COURT him. The communications transpired was recorded in her cellular phone and read as follows:
Manila
Sent by complainant - forget the case. I decided to refer it with other lawyer
THIRD DIVISION At 5:33:46 pm

A.C. No. 7204 March 7, 2007 replied by respondent - "does this mean I can not c u anymore"
at 6:16:11 pm (Does this mean I cannot see you
anymore) A hearing was conducted by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) at the IBP Building, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, on 26 July 2005.
sent by complainant - I feel bad. I cant expect that u will take advantage of the
at 6:17:59 pm situation. On 30 September 2005, Investigating Commissioner Dennis A. B. Funa submitted his Report
Follow-up message - wrong to kiss a girl especially in the lips if you dont and Recommendation,4 recommending the imposition of the penalty of one (1) month
Sent by complainant have relationship with her. suspension on respondent for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
At 6:29:30 pm
Thereafter, the IBP passed Resolution No. XVII-2006-117 dated 20 March 2006, approving
Replied by respondent - "Im veri sri. Its not tking advantage of the situation, 2 and adopting, with modification, the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, thus:
At 6:32:43 pm put it rightly it s an expression of feeling. S sri" (Im very
sorry. Its not taking advantage of the situation, to put it RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with
rightly it is an expression of feeling) modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the
Follow up message - Im s sri. Il not do it again. Wil u stil c me s I can show u above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the
by respondent my sincerity" (Im so sorry. Ill not do it again. Will you still recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules,
at 6:42:25 pm see me so I can show you my sincerity) and considering the behavior of Respondent went beyond the norms of conduct required of a
lawyer when dealing with or relating with a client, Atty. Ernesto A. Macabata is SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for three (3) months.5
On the following day, March 7, 2005 respondent sent another message to complainant at
3:55:32 pm saying "I dont know wat 2 do s u may 4give me. "Im realy sri. Puede bati na tyo." The issue to be resolved in this case is: whether respondent committed acts that are grossly
(I dont know what to do so you may forgive me. Im really sorry. Puede bati na tayo). immoral or which constitute serious moral depravity that would warrant his disbarment or
suspension from the practice of law.
Respondent replied "talk to my lawyer in due time." Then another message was received by
her at 4:06:33 pm saying "Ano k ba. Im really sri. Pls. Nxt ime bhave n me." (Ano ka ba. Im Simple as the facts of the case may be, the manner by which we deal with respondents
really sorry. Please next time behave na ko), which is a clear manifestation of admission of actuations shall have a rippling effect on how the standard norms of our legal practitioners
guilt.2 should be defined. Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used
to be. This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened
In his answer,3 respondent admitted that he agreed to provide legal services to the with a high degree of social responsibility and, hence, must handle their personal affairs with
complainant; that he met with complainant on 10 February 2005 and 6 March 2005, to greater caution.
discuss the relevant matters relative to the case which complainant was intending to file
against the owners of Queensway Travel and Tours for collection of a sum of money; that on The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
both occasions, complainant rode with him in his car where he held and kissed complainant
on the lips as the former offered her lips to him; and, that the corner of Cooper Street and
Roosevelt Avenue, where he dropped off the complainant, was a busy street teeming with CANON I x x x
people, thus, it would have been impossible to commit the acts imputed to him.
Rule 1.01-- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
By way of defense, respondent further elucidated that: 1) there was a criminal case for Acts of
Lasciviousness filed by complainant against respondent pending before the Office of the City CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession
Prosecutor in Quezon City; 2) the legal name of complainant is Cynthia Advincula Toriana and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
since she remains married to a certain Jinky Toriana because the civil case for the
nullification of their marriage was archived pursuant to the Order dated 6 December 2000 xxxx
issued by the Regional Trial Court of Maburao, Occidental Mindoro; 3) the complainant was
living with a man not her husband; and 4) the complainant never bothered to discuss Rule 7.03-- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to
respondents fees and it was respondent who always paid for their bills every time they met practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to
and ate at a restaurant. the discredit of the legal profession.
As may be gleaned from above, the Code of Professional Responsibility forbids lawyers from 27. When she was about to get off the car, I said can I kiss you goodnight. She offered her
engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. left cheek and I kissed it and with my left hand slightly pulled her right face towards me and
kissed her gently on the lips. We said goodnight and she got off the car.
Lawyers have been repeatedly reminded that their possession of good moral character is a
continuing condition to preserve their membership in the Bar in good standing. The continued xxxx
possession of good moral character is a requisite condition for remaining in the practice of
law.6 In Aldovino v. Pujalte, Jr.,7 we emphasized that: 35. When I stopped my car I said okay. I saw her offered (sic) her left cheek and I lightly
kissed it and with my right hand slightly pulled her right cheek towards me and plant (sic) a
This Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity and good moral character of light kiss on her lips. There was no force used. No intimidation made, no lewd designs
members of the Bar. They are expected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the displayed. No breast holding was done. Everything happened very spontaneously with no
legal profession and refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and reaction from her except saying "sexual harassment."
confidence reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the legal profession.
Membership in the legal profession is a privilege. And whenever it is made to appear that an During the hearing held on 26 July 2005 at the 3rd floor, IBP Building, Dona Julia Vargas
attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of the public, it becomes not only the Avenue, Ortigas City, respondent candidly recalled the following events:
right but also the duty of this Court, which made him one of its officers and gave him the
privilege of ministering within its Bar, to withdraw the privilege. ATTY. MACABATA:

It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality. That time in February, we met I fetched her I should say, somewhere along the corner of
The legal profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to Edsa and Kamuning because it was then raining so we are texting each other. So I parked
safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. my car somewhere along the corner of Edsa and Kamuning and I was there about ten to
Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand no less than the highest degree of fifteen minutes then she arrived. And so I said she opened my car and then she went
morality.8 We explained in Barrientos v. Daarol9 that, "as officers of the court, lawyers must inside so I said, would you like that we have a Japanese dinner? And she said yes, okay. So I
not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral brought her to Zensho which is along Tomas Morato. When we were there, we discussed
character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the about her case, we ordered food and then a little while I told her, would it be okay for you of I
community." (sic) order wine? She said yes so I ordered two glasses of red wine. After that, after
discussing matters about her case, so I said its about 9:00 or beyond that time already, so
Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar I said okay, lets go. So when I said lets go so I stood up and then I went to the car. I went
but also throughout their legal career, in order to maintain their good standing in this exclusive ahead of my car and she followed me then she rode on (sic) it. So I told her where to? She
and honored fraternity. They may be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred for any told me just drop me at the same place where you have been dropping me for the last
misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in meetings that we had and that was at the corner of Morato and Roosevelt Avenue. So, before
moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor.10 she went down, I told her can I kiss you goodnight? She offered her left cheek and I kissed it
and with the slight use of my right hand, I ... should I say tilted her face towards me and when
In Bar Matter No. 1154,11 good moral character was defined as what a person really is, as shes already facing me I lightly kissed her on the lips. And then I said good night. She went
distinguished from good reputation, or from the opinion generally entertained of him, or the down the car, thats it.
estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he is known. Moral character is
not a subjective term but one which corresponds to objective reality. COMM. FUNA:

It should be noted that the requirement of good moral character has four ostensible purposes, February 10 iyan.
namely: (1) to protect the public; (2) to protect the public image of lawyers; (3) to protect
prospective clients; and (4) to protect errant lawyers from themselves. 12 xxxx

In the case at bar, respondent admitted kissing complainant on the lips. ATTY. MACABATA:

In his Answer,13 respondent confessed, thus:


Okay. After that were through so I said lets go because I have an appointment. So we went In Delos Reyes v. Aznar,20 it was ruled that it was highly immoral of respondent, a married
out, we went inside my car and I said where to? Same place, she said, so then at the same man with children, to have taken advantage of his position as chairman of the college of
corner. So before she went down , before she opened the door of the car, I saw her offered medicine in asking complainant, a student in said college, to go with him to Manila where he
her left cheek. So I kissed her again. had carnal knowledge of her under the threat that she would flank in all her subjects in case
she refused.
COMM. FUNA:
In Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma,21 respondent lawyer was disbarred when he abandoned his lawful
Pardon? wife and three children, lured an innocent woman into marrying him and misrepresented
himself as a "bachelor" so he could contract marriage in a foreign land.
ATTY. MACABATA:
In Macarrubo v. Macarrubo,22 respondent entered into multiple marriages and then resorted to
legal remedies to sever them. There, we ruled that "[s]uch pattern of misconduct by
I saw her offered her left cheek like that, so I kissed her again and then with the use of my left
respondent undermines the institutions of marriage and family, institutions that this society
hand, pushed a little bit her face and then kissed her again softly on the lips and thats it. x x
looks to for the rearing of our children, for the development of values essential to the survival
x.14 (Emphases supplied.)
and well-being of our communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole." As
such, "there can be no other fate that awaits respondent than to be disbarred."
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is "grossly
immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer
In Tucay v. Tucay,23 respondent contracted marriage with another married woman and left
unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what appears to be
complainant with whom he has been married for thirty years. We ruled that such acts
unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants
constitute "a grossly immoral conduct and only indicative of an extremely low regard for the
disbarment.15
fundamental ethics of his profession," warranting respondents disbarment.
In Zaguirre v. Castillo,16 we reiterated the definition of immoral conduct, as such conduct
In Villasanta v. Peralta,24 respondent married complainant while his first wife was still alive,
which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and
their marriage still valid and subsisting. We held that "the act of respondent of contracting the
respectable members of the community. Furthermore, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary
second marriage is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality." Thus, lacking the
action, the same must not simply be immoral, but grossly immoral. It must be so corrupt as to
good moral character required by the Rules of Court, respondent was disqualified from being
constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree or
admitted to the bar.
committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense
of decency.
In Cabrera v. Agustin,25 respondent lured an innocent woman into a simulated marriage and
thereafter satisfied his lust. We held that respondent failed to maintain that degree of morality
The following cases were considered by this Court as constitutive of grossly immoral conduct:
and integrity which, at all times, is expected of members of the bar. He is, therefore, disbarred
from the practice of law.
In Toledo v. Toledo,17 a lawyer was disbarred from the practice of law, when he abandoned his
lawful wife and cohabited with another woman who had borne him a child.
Immorality has not been confined to sexual matters, but includes conduct inconsistent with
rectitude, or indicative of corruption, indecency, depravity and dissoluteness; or is willful,
In Obusan v. Obusan, Jr.,18 a lawyer was disbarred after complainant proved that he had flagrant, or shameless conduct showing moral indifference to opinions of respectable
abandoned her and maintained an adulterous relationship with a married woman. This court members of the community, and an inconsiderate attitude toward good order and public
declared that respondent failed to maintain the highest degree of morality expected and welfare.26
required of a member of the bar.
Guided by the definitions above, we perceived acts of kissing or beso-beso on the cheeks as
In Dantes v. Dantes,19 respondents act of engaging in illicit relationships with two different mere gestures of friendship and camaraderie,27 forms of greetings, casual and customary.
women during the subsistence of his marriage to the complainant constitutes grossly immoral The acts of respondent, though, in turning the head of complainant towards him and kissing
conduct warranting the imposition of appropriate sanctions. Complainants testimony, taken in her on the lips are distasteful. However, such act, even if considered offensive and
conjunction with the documentary evidence, sufficiently established that respondent breached undesirable, cannot be considered grossly immoral.
the high and exacting moral standards set for members of the law profession.
Complainants bare allegation that respondent made use and took advantage of his position character should merit disbarment or suspension, while those acts which neither affect nor
as a lawyer to lure her to agree to have sexual relations with him, deserves no credit. The erode the moral character of the lawyer should only justify a lesser sanction unless they are
burden of proof rests on the complainant, and she must establish the case against the of such nature and to such extent as to clearly show the lawyers unfitness to continue in the
respondent by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof, 28 disclosing a case that is free from practice of law. The dubious character of the act charged as well as the motivation which
doubt as to compel the exercise by the Court of its disciplinary power.29 Thus, the adage that induced the lawyer to commit it must be clearly demonstrated before suspension or
"he who asserts not he who denies, must prove." 30 As a basic rule in evidence, the burden of disbarment is meted out. The mitigating or aggravating circumstances that attended the
proof lies on the party who makes the allegationsei incumbit probation, qui decit, non qui commission of the offense should also be considered.36
negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis probation nulla sit. 31 In the case at bar,
complainant miserably failed to comply with the burden of proof required of her. A mere Censure or reprimand is usually meted out for an isolated act of misconduct of a lesser
charge or allegation of wrongdoing does not suffice. Accusation is not synonymous with nature. It is also imposed for some minor infraction of the lawyers duty to the court or the
guilt.32 client.37 In the Matter of Darell Adams,38 a lawyer was publicly reprimanded for grabbing a
female client, kissing her, and raising her blouse which constituted illegal conduct involving
Moreover, while respondent admitted having kissed complainant on the lips, the same was moral turpitude and conduct which adversely reflected on his fitness to practice law.
not motivated by malice. We come to this conclusion because right after the complainant
expressed her annoyance at being kissed by the respondent through a cellular phone text Based on the circumstances of the case as discussed and considering that this is
message, respondent immediately extended an apology to complainant also via cellular respondents first offense, reprimand would suffice.
phone text message. The exchange of text messages between complainant and respondent
bears this out. We laud complainants effort to seek redress for what she honestly believed to be an affront
to her honor. Surely, it was difficult and agonizing on her part to come out in the open and
Be it noted also that the incident happened in a place where there were several people in the accuse her lawyer of gross immoral conduct. However, her own assessment of the incidents
vicinity considering that Roosevelt Avenue is a major jeepney route for 24 hours. If is highly subjective and partial, and surely needs to be corroborated or supported by more
respondent truly had malicious designs on complainant, he could have brought her to a objective evidence.
private place or a more remote place where he could freely accomplish the same.
WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Ernesto Macabata, for
All told, as shown by the above circumstances, respondents acts are not grossly immoral nor alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED. However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED
highly reprehensible to warrant disbarment or suspension. to be more prudent and cautious in his dealing with his clients with a STERN WARNING that
a more severe sanction will be imposed on him for any repetition of the same or similar
The question as to what disciplinary sanction should be imposed against a lawyer found guilty offense in the future.
of misconduct requires consideration of a number of factors. 33 When deciding upon the
appropriate sanction, the Court must consider that the primary purposes of disciplinary
proceedings are to protect the public; to foster public confidence in the Bar; to preserve the
integrity of the profession; and to deter other lawyers from similar misconduct. 34Disciplinary
SO ORDERED .
proceedings are means of protecting the administration of justice by requiring those who
carry out this important function to be competent, honorable and reliable men in whom courts
and clients may repose confidence.35 While it is discretionary upon the Court to impose a
particular sanction that it may deem proper against an erring lawyer, it should neither be
arbitrary and despotic nor motivated by personal animosity or prejudice, but should ever be
controlled by the imperative need to scrupulously guard the purity and independence of the
bar and to exact from the lawyer strict compliance with his duties to the court, to his client, to
his brethren in the profession and to the public.

The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be exercised on the preservative and not on
the vindictive principle, with great caution and only for the most weighty reasons and only on
clear cases of misconduct which seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as
an officer of the court and member of the Bar. Only those acts which cause loss of moral
FIDELA VDA. DE ENRIQUEZ, A.C. No. 3569
Complainant,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


- versus - CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.

ATTY. MANUEL G. SAN JOSE, Promulgated:


Respondent.
February 23, 2007

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

RESOLUTION

QUISUMBING, J.:

This is an administrative complaint[1] for disbarment filed by Fidela Vda. De Enriquez


against respondent Atty. Manuel G. San Jose for gross negligence.

Complainant alleged that on August 28, 1989, she hired the services of respondent
Atty. San Jose for the purpose of filing an unlawful detainer case against
oneRugerio Alipante, who defaulted in the payment of monthly rentals on complainants
property in Taban, Libmanan, Camarines Sur. According to the complainant, respondent
failed to file the appropriate civil case, despite payment to him of P2,000 attorneys fees, so
she decided to withdraw the case from respondent. She demanded the return of the
pertinent documents but despite repeated demands, respondent refused and failed to return
the documents. As a result, the action for unlawful detainer prescribed. Complainant alleged
further, that her daughter who worked for respondent was not paid her salary. Complainant
prayed that Atty. San Jose be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law.
SECOND DIVISION

In his Comment,[2] respondent denied being negligent. He alleged that he received a


letter from the complainant informing him that the lessee had already agreed to vacate the
premises, and thus, the filing of an unlawful detainer case had become
unnecessary. Respondent also explained that he did not file the case even before receiving
complainants letter because there was a vacancy in the sala of the Municipal Circuit Trial
Court (MCTC) of Libmanan-Cabusao, Camarines Sur. He claimed that he informed
complainant that the case could not be filed until a new judge was appointed, but he matter; he is also required to prepare adequately and give the appropriate attention to his legal
promised to file the case before the action prescribed. Respondent claimed further that the work.[7]
attorneys fee was P3,000 and that he had paid complainants daughter P700 per month.
In Santos v. Lazaro,[8] we held that Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
[3]
The Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for is a basic postulate in legal ethics. Indeed, when a lawyer takes a clients cause, he covenants
investigation, report, and recommendation by the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline that he will exercise due diligence in protecting the latters rights. Failure to exercise that
(CBD). The investigating officer found that respondent was indeed remiss in the performance degree of vigilance and attention expected of a good father of a family makes the lawyer
of his professional duties as counsel. According to Commissioner Julio C. Elamparo, the only unworthy of the trust reposed in him by his client and makes him answerable not just to his
complete work respondent rendered to his client was sending a demand letter for the lessee client but also to the legal profession, the courts and society. Until the lawyers withdrawal is
to vacate the subject premises within ten days from receipt of the demand letter. The properly done, the lawyer is expected to do his or her best for the interest of the client.[9]
Commissioner also found respondents explanation for his failure to file the case
unsatisfactory and concluded that respondent was guilty of negligence in the performance of
In this case, respondent fell short of the diligence required of a lawyer entrusted with a
his duty as a lawyer for abandonment of his clients cause. The Commissioner
case. It is undisputed that respondent was hired by the complainant onAugust 28, 1989, and
recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for three months. [4]
that respondent sent the notice to vacate to the lessee before the appropriate unlawful
detainer case could be filed. However, after nine months, respondent had done nothing
The IBP Board of Governors adopted the report and recommendation of the further in connection with the case.
Commissioner finding respondent liable for negligence but only imposed the penalty of one-
month suspension from the practice of law.[5]
Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes
to conduct an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its conclusion. [10] However, respondent
On December 17, 1997, respondent filed a petition seeking the dismissal of the case in this case failed to file the appropriate civil case after sending a demand letter. The failure
against him and prayed that he be exonerated. He denied being negligent. He claimed that to file a pleading is by itself inexcusable negligence on the part of respondent. [11] Moreover,
the IBP Board of Governors misinterpreted the complainants letter, which stated that the this Court finds reprehensible respondents failure to heed the request of his client for the
complainant and her lessee came to an agreement for the latter to vacate the leased return of the case documents. That respondent gave no reasonable explanation for that
premises. He claimed that he relied on that letter thereby negating the necessity of further failure makes his neglect patent.
filing a case for unlawful detainer.

Respondent aggravates his misconduct by blaming the courts. Respondents excuse


In our Resolution, dated December 6, 1999, we resolved to remand the case to the IBP
that the MCTC having jurisdiction over the case was vacant; that filing of a case would be
which, in turn, assigned the case to the IBP-CBD for further investigation.
useless; and that the best thing to do was to wait for the vacancy to be filled, finds no support
in the practice of law. The vacancy in court did not suspend the courts official existence,
The Investigating Commissioner in her report, dated August 5, 2004, recommended much less render it functus oficio.
that the petition be dismissed for lack of merit. Said recommendation was adopted by the
IBP, which passed a resolution to that effect, and approved by the IBP Board of Governors
on October 7, 2004. Respondent also relies in vain on complainants letter dated August 16, 1990, wherein
complainant informed respondent of her decision to withdraw the case. According to the
complainant, she resorted to the letter so she could retrieve the records she previously
After a thorough review of the records in this matter, we are in agreement with the IBP
handed over to the respondent, but he continued to refuse to return them. It may be noted
that respondent Atty. San Jose be held liable for negligence; thus, his petition for exoneration
that the letter was sent to respondent a few days before the lapse of the one-year prescriptive
should be denied for utter lack of merit.
period. If respondent had earlier filed a case, there would have been no need for
complainant to resort to that letter to get the records in line with her plan to have the Public
The Code of Professional Responsibility in Rule 18.03 enjoins a lawyer not to neglect a Attorneys Office assist in filing the appropriate case. Needless to stress, because of the
legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. respondents failure to file the appropriate case, and his refusal to return the documents, time
[6]
A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the ran out and the action for unlawful detainer case was barred by prescription. Damage and
latters interest with utmost diligence. It is the duty of a lawyer to serve his client with prejudice to the clients cause was undeniable.
competence and diligence and he should exert his best efforts to protect, within the bounds of
the law, the interest of his client. It is not enough that a practitioner is qualified to handle a legal
Finally, we find the recommended penalty of one-month suspension from the practice Republic of the Philippines
of law too light. In previous cases, we have imposed six months suspension for violations of
this nature, taking into consideration the gravity of the offense and the necessity of preserving Supreme Court
the integrity of the legal profession. In Reyes v. Vitan,[12] for failure to take the appropriate
actions in connection with his clients case, the lawyer was suspended from the practice of Manila
law for a period of six months and was required to render accounting of all the sums he
received from his client. Considering precedents, in the light of circumstances in this case, EN BANC
we find no reason to deviate now from the penalty meted previously for similar infractions.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Manuel G. San Jose is hereby declared guilty of


violation of Canon 18 specifically Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and CLARITA J. SAMALA, ADM. CASE NO. 5439
is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months effective upon notice of
this Resolution. He is ordered to return to complainant, within five (5) days from notice, the Complainant,
sum of P2,000 with 12% interest per annum from the date of the promulgation of this
Resolution until the full amount shall have been returned. Present:

Let a copy of this Resolution be entered into respondents personal records as an


attorney and as a member of the Philippine Bar, and furnished the Court Administrator for PUNO, C.J.,
distribution to all courts of the land, the IBP, and the Office of the Bar Confidant.
QUISUMBING,
SO ORDERED.
YNARES-SANTIAGO,

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,

CARPIO,

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,

- versus - CORONA,

CARPIO MORALES,

CALLEJO, SR.,

AZCUNA,

TINGA,

CHICO-NAZARIO,

GARCIA, and

VELASCO, JR., JJ.


We adopt the report of the IBP Board of Governors except as to the issue on immorality
and as to the recommended penalty.

ATTY. LUCIANO D. VALENCIA, Promulgated:


On serving as counsel for contending parties.
Respondent. _______________________
Records show that in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK, filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 272, Marikina City, entitled Leonora M. Aville v. EdithaValdez for nonpayment of
x----------------------------------------------------------- x rentals, herein respondent, while being the counsel for defendant Valdez, also acted as
counsel for the tenants Lagmay, Valencia,Bustamante and Bayuga[6] by filing an Explanation
and Compliance before the RTC.[7]

In Civil Case No. 98-6804 filed in the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), Branch
75, Marikina City, entitled Editha S. Valdez and Joseph J. Alba, Jr. v. SalveBustamante and
RESOLUTION her husband for ejectment, respondent represented Valdez against Bustamante one of the
tenants in the property subject of the controversy. Defendants appealed to the RTC, Branch
272, Marikina City docketed as SCA Case No. 99-341-MK. In his decision dated May 2,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J. 2000,[8] Presiding Judge Reuben P. dela Cruz[9] warned respondent to refrain from repeating
the act of being counsel of record of both parties in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK.

Before us is a complaint[1] dated May 2, 2001 filed by Clarita J. Samala (complainant) But in Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK, filed in the RTC, Branch 273, Marikina City, entitled
against Atty. Luciano D. Valencia (respondent) for Disbarment on the following grounds: (a) Editha S. Valdez v. Joseph J. Alba, Jr. and Register of Deeds ofMarikina City,
serving on two separate occasions as counsel for contending parties; (b) knowingly respondent, as counsel for Valdez, filed a Complaint for Rescission of Contract with Damages
misleading the court by submitting false documentary evidence; (c) initiating numerous cases and Cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 275500 against Alba, respondent's former
in exchange for nonpayment of rental fees; and (d) having a reputation of being immoral by client in Civil Case No. 98-6804 and SCA Case No. 99-341-MK.
siring illegitimate children.
Records further reveal that at the hearing of November 14, 2003, respondent admitted
After respondent filed his Comment, the Court, in its Resolution of October 24, 2001, that in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK, he was the lawyer for Lagmay (one of the tenants) but not
referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and for Bustamante and Bayuga[10] albeit he filed the Explanation and Compliance for and in
recommendation.[2] behalf of the tenants.[11] Respondent also admitted that he represented Valdez in Civil Case
No. 98-6804 and SCA Case No. 99-341-MK against Bustamante and her husband but denied
The investigation was conducted by Commissioner Demaree Jesus B. Raval. After being the counsel for Alba although the case is entitled Valdez and Alba v. Bustamante and
a series of hearings, the parties filed their respective memoranda [3] and the case was deemed her husband, because Valdez told him to include Alba as the two were the owners of the
submitted for resolution. property[12] and it was only Valdez who signed the complaint for ejectment.[13] But, while
claiming that respondent did not represent Alba, respondent, however, avers that he already
Commissioner Wilfredo E.J.E. Reyes prepared the Report and severed his representation for Alba when the latter charged respondent with estafa.[14] Thus,
Recommendation[4] dated January 12, 2006. He found respondent guilty of violating Canons the filing of Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK against Alba.
15 and 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended the penalty of
suspension for six months. Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer
shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after
In a minute Resolution[5] passed on May 26, 2006, the IBP Board of Governors adopted a full disclosure of the facts.
and approved the report and recommendation of Commissioner Reyesbut increased the
penalty of suspension from six months to one year. A lawyer may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a
person whose interest conflicts with that of his present or former client. [15] He may not also
undertake to discharge conflicting duties any more than he may represent antagonistic
interests. This stern rule is founded on the principles of public policy and good taste. [16] It
springs from the relation of attorney and client which is one of trust and confidence. Lawyers
are expected not only to keep inviolate the clients confidence, but also to avoid the The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies
appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to to a situation where the opposing parties are present clients in the same
entrust their secrets to their lawyers, which is of paramount importance in the administration action or in an unrelated action. It is of no moment that the lawyer would not
of justice.[17] be called upon to contend for one client that which the lawyer has to oppose
One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new for the other client, or that there would be no occasion to use the confidential
relation would prevent the full discharge of the lawyers duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty information acquired from one to the disadvantage of the other as the two
to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that actions are wholly unrelated. It is enough that the opposing parties in one
duty.[18] case, one of whom would lose the suit, are present clients and the nature or
conditions of the lawyers respective retainers with each of them would affect
The stern rule against representation of conflicting interests is founded on principles of the performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to both clients. [29]
public policy and good taste. It springs from the attorneys duty to represent his client with
undivided fidelity and to maintain inviolate the clients confidence as well as from the
injunction forbidding the examination of an attorney as to any of the privileged
communications of his client.[19]

An attorney owes loyalty to his client not only in the case in which he has represented
him but also after the relation of attorney and client has terminated. [20] The bare attorney- Respondent is bound to comply with Canon 21 of the Code of Professional
client relationship with a client precludes an attorney from accepting professional employment Responsibility which states that a lawyer shall preserve the confidences and secrets of his
from the clients adversary either in the same case [21] or in a different but related action. [22] A client even after the attorney-client relation is terminated.
lawyer is forbidden from representing a subsequent client against a former client when the
subject matter of the present controversy is related, directly or indirectly, to the subject matter
of the previous litigation in which he appeared for the former client. [23]
The reason for the prohibition is found in the relation of attorney and client, which is one
We held in Nombrado v. Hernandez[24] that the termination of the relation of attorney of trust and confidence of the highest degree. A lawyer becomes familiar with all the facts
and client provides no justification for a lawyer to represent an interest adverse to or in connected with his clients case. He learns from his client the weak points of the action as
conflict with that of the former client. The reason for the rule is that the clients confidence well as the strong ones. Such knowledge must be considered sacred and guarded with care.
once reposed cannot be divested by the expiration of the professional employment. [30]
[25]
Consequently, a lawyer should not, even after the severance of the relation with his client,
do anything which will injuriously affect his former client in any matter in which he previously
represented him nor should he disclose or use any of the clients confidences acquired in the
previous relation.[26] From the foregoing, it is evident that respondents representation of Valdez and Alba
against Bustamante and her husband, in one case, and Valdez against Alba, in another case,
In this case, respondents averment that his relationship with Alba has long been is a clear case of conflict of interests which merits a corresponding sanction from this
severed by the act of the latter of not turning over the proceeds collected in Civil Case No. Court. Respondent may have withdrawn his representation in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK
98-6804, in connivance with the complainant, is unavailing. Termination of the attorney-client upon being warned by the court,[31] but the same will not exculpate him from the charge of
relationship precludes an attorney from representing a new client whose interest is adverse to representing conflicting interests in his representation in Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK.
his former client. Alba may not be his original client but the fact that he filed a case entitled
Valdez and Alba v. Bustamante and her husband, is a clear indication that respondent is
protecting the interests of both Valdez and Alba in the said case. Respondent cannot just
Respondent is reminded to be more cautious in accepting professional employments, to
claim that the lawyer-client relationship between him and Alba has long been severed without
refrain from all appearances and acts of impropriety including circumstances indicating
observing Section 26, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court wherein the written consent of his client
conflict of interests, and to behave at all times with circumspection and dedication befitting a
is required.
member of the Bar, especially observing candor, fairness and loyalty in all transactions with
his clients.[32]
In Gonzales v. Cabucana, Jr.,[27] citing the case of Quiambao v. Bamba,[28] we held that:
in the name of Valdez, as shown by its decision dated January 8, 2002[36] dismissing the
complaint for ejectment. What is decisive in this case is respondent's intent in trying to
mislead the court by presenting TCT No. 273020 despite the fact that said title was already
cancelled and a new one, TCT No. 275500, was already issued in the name of Alba.

In Young v. Batuegas,[37] we held that a lawyer must be a disciple of truth. He swore


On knowingly misleading the court by submitting false documentary evidence. upon his admission to the Bar that he will do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in
court and he shall conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his knowledge and
discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his clients. [38] He should bear in
mind that as an officer of the court his high vocation is to correctly inform the court upon the
Complainant alleges that in Civil Case No. 00-7137 filed before MTC, Branch 75
law and the facts of the case and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at correct conclusion.
for ejectment, respondent submitted TCT No. 273020 as evidence of Valdez's ownership [39]
The courts, on the other hand, are entitled to expect only complete honesty from lawyers
despite the fact that a new TCT No. 275500 was already issued in the name of Alba
appearing and pleading before them. While a lawyer has the solemn duty to defend his
on February 2, 1995.
clients rights and is expected to display the utmost zeal in defense of his clients cause, his
conduct must never be at the expense of truth.

Records reveal that respondent filed Civil Case No. 00-7137 on November 27,
2000 and presented TCT No. 273020 as evidence of Valdez's ownership of the subject
A lawyer is the servant of the law and belongs to a profession to which society has
property.[33] During the hearing before Commissioner Raval, respondent avers that when the
entrusted the administration of law and the dispensation of justice. [40] As such, he should
Answer was filed in the said case, that was the time that he came to know that the title was
make himself more an exemplar for others to emulate. [41]
already in the name of Alba; so that when the court dismissed the complaint, he did not do
anything anymore.[34] Respondent further avers that Valdez did not tell him the truth and
things were revealed to him only when the case for rescission was filed in 2002.
On initiating numerous cases in exchange for nonpayment of rental fees.

Upon examination of the record, it was noted that Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK for
rescission of contract and cancellation of TCT No. 275500 was also filed onNovember 27, Complainant alleges that respondent filed the following cases: (a) Civil Case No. 2000-
2000,[35] before RTC, Branch 273, Marikina City, thus belying the averment of respondent that 657-MK at the RTC, Branch 272; (b) Civil Case No. 00-7137 at the MTC, Branch 75; and (c)
he came to know of Alba's title only in 2002 when the case for rescission was filed. It was I.S. Nos. 00-4439 and 01-036162 both entitled Valencia v. Samala for estafa and grave
revealed during the hearing before Commissioner Raval that Civil Case Nos. 00-7137 and coercion, respectively, before the Marikina City Prosecutor. Complainant claims that the two
2000-657-MK were filed on the same date, although in different courts and at different times. criminal cases were filed in retaliation for the cases she filed against Lagmay docketed as I.S.
No. 00-4306 for estafa and I.S. No. 00-4318 against Alvin Valencia (son of respondent) for
trespass to dwelling.
Hence, respondent cannot feign ignorance of the fact that the title he submitted was
already cancelled in lieu of a new title issued in the name of Alba in 1995 yet, as proof of the
latter's ownership. As culled from the records, Valdez entered into a retainer agreement with
respondent. As payment for his services, he was allowed to occupy the property for free and
utilize the same as his office pursuant to their retainer agreement.[42]
Respondent failed to comply with Canon 10 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the
doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be mislead by any artifice. It Respondent filed I.S. Nos. 00-4439 [43] and 01-036162[44] both entitled
matters not that the trial court was not misled by respondent's submission of TCT No. 273020 Valencia v. Samala for estafa and grave coercion, respectively, to protect his client's rights
against complainant who filed I.S. No. 00-4306 [45] for estafa against Lagmay, and I.S. No. 00-
4318[46] against Alvin Valencia[47] for trespass to dwelling.
In this case, the admissions made by respondent are more than enough to hold him
liable on the charge of immorality. During the hearing, respondent did not show any
remorse. He even justified his transgression by saying that he does not have any relationship
with Lagmay and despite the fact that he sired three children by the latter, he does not
consider them as his second family. It is noted that during the hearing, respondent boasts in
telling the commissioner that he has two houses - inMuntinlupa, where his first wife lived, and
in Marikina, where Lagmay lives.[53] It is of no moment that respondent eventually
We find the charge to be without sufficient basis. The act of respondent of filing married Lagmay after the death of his first wife. The fact still remains that respondent did not
the aforecited cases to protect the interest of his client, on one hand, and his own interest, on live up to the exacting standard of morality and decorum required of the legal profession.
the other, cannot be made the basis of an administrative charge unless it can be clearly
shown that the same was being done to abuse judicial processes to commit injustice.

Under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. It may be difficult to specify the
The filing of an administrative case against respondent for protecting the interest of his degree of moral delinquency that may qualify an act as immoral, yet, for purposes of
client and his own right would be putting a burden on a practicing lawyer who is obligated to disciplining a lawyer, immoral conduct has been defined as that conduct which is willful,
defend and prosecute the right of his client. flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable
members of the community.[54] Thus, in several cases, the Court did not hesitate to discipline
a lawyer for keeping a mistress in defiance of the mores and sense of morality of the
On having a reputation for being immoral by siring illegitimate children. community.[55] That respondent subsequently married Lagmay in 1998 after the death of his
wife and that this is his first infraction as regards immorality serve to mitigate his liability.

We find respondent liable for being immoral by siring illegitimate children.


ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds respondent Atty. Luciano D. Valencia GUILTY of
misconduct and violation of Canons 21, 10 and 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) years, effective immediately upon
During the hearing, respondent admitted that he sired three children receipt of herein Resolution.
by Teresita Lagmay who are all over 20 years of age, [48] while his first wife was still alive. He
also admitted that he has eight children by his first wife, the youngest of whom is over 20
years of age, and after his wife died in 1997, he married Lagmay in 1998.[49]Respondent Let copies of this Resolution be furnished all courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of the
further admitted that Lagmay was staying in one of the apartments being claimed by Philippines as well as the Office of the Bar Confidant for their information and guidance, and
complainant. However, he does not consider his affair with Lagmayas a relationship[50] and let it be entered in respondents personal records.
does not consider the latter as his second family.[51] He reasoned that he was not staying
with Lagmay because he has two houses, one inMuntinlupa and another in Marikina.[52] SO ORDERED.