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Re: 2003 Bar Examinations

B.M. No. 1222, 04 February 2004

Nature: Disbarment
Ponente: Per Curiam

Facts: On 22 September 2003, Justice Jose Vitug, Chairman of the 2003 Bar examinations committee
apprised Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. and the other members of the court of a rumored leakage on
the bar examination on Mercantile Law further recommending that the bar exam be nullified and an
investigation be conducted. However after receiving numerous petitions and motions from the
Philippine Association of Law schools agreeing to the nullification of the bar exams on Mercantile Law
but voicing strong reservations against holding another exam on the subject due to physical, emotional
and financial difficulties that may be encountered by the examinees. In a resolution dated 29
September 2003, the Court resolved to cancel the scheduled examination in Mercantile Law and allocate
the 15 percentage points among the seven bar exam subjects. Further, they resolved to create a
Committee to conduct a thorough investigation on the incident.

The investigation committee formed by 3 retired associate justices of the Supreme Court held nine (9)
meetings to conduct the investigation and prepare the report. The investigation yielded that Atty.
Marcial O.T. Balgas, examiner Mercantile Law, used his office computer to prepare the questions for the
bar exams and that one of his associate lawyers, Atty. Danilo de Guzman, admitted that he downloaded
the test questionnaires from Atty. Balgos’ computer and faxed a copy to his fraternity brother. After
further investigation, it yielded that the copy that was leaked and the actual exam were 82% identical
and such were reproduced among the barristers for that year. Aside from Atty. De Guzman, several
people were also investigated on but yielded not much evidence.

Issue: Whether or not the parties involved in the leakage should be disbarred?

Ratio: Atty. Danilo de Guzman’s act of downloading Atty. Balgos’ test questionnaires in Mercantile Law
from Atty. Balgos’ computer without his knowledge and permission was a criminal act of larceny, a theft
of intellectual property. Besides larceny, Atty. De Guzman likewise committed an unlawful infraction of
Atty. Balgos’ right to privacy of communication and to the security of his papers and effects against
unauthorized search and seizure – rights protected by the Bill of rights of our Constitution. He likewise
disobeyed the first canon of the lawyers’ Code of Professional responsibility which provides that a
lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promise respect for law and legal

Further, the Committee upheld that Atty. Balgos likewise committed negligence in the preparation and
safekeeping of his proposed test questions for the bar exam in Mercantile Law. Knowing that he was
not proficient on the use of computers, he could have used a typewriter where he was more proficient.

Thus, the Committee recommended that:

1. Atty. Danilo de Guzman be DISBARRED for he has shown that he was morally unfit to continue
as a member of the legal profession, for grave dishonesty, lack of integrity and criminal
behavior. He shall likewise make a PUBLIC APOLOGY and pay DAMAGES to the Supreme Court
for involving it in another scandal.
2. Atty. Marcial O.T. Balgos should be REPRIMANDED by the Court and be required to make a
written apology for the scandal he brought upon it as result of his negligence and lack of due
care in preparing and safeguarding his proposed test questionnaires in Mercantile Law.