You are on page 1of 33


LEGAL CLINIC offended by the said advertisements, hence the reliefs sought
in his petition as hereinbefore quoted.

Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993 In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of
publication of said advertisement at its instance, but claims
MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner, that it is not engaged in the practice of law but in the
vs. rendering of "legal support services" through paralegals with
THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent. the use of modern computers and electronic machines.
Respondent further argues that assuming that the services
R E SO L U T I O N advertised are legal services, the act of advertising these
services should be allowed supposedly
in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs.
REGALADO, J.: State Bar of Arizona,2 reportedly decided by the United States
Supreme Court on June 7, 1977.
Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to cease
and desist from issuing advertisements similar to or of the Considering the critical implications on the legal profession of
same tenor as that of annexes "A" and "B" (of said petition) the issues raised herein, we required the (1) Integrated Bar of
and to perpetually prohibit persons or entities from making the Philippines (IBP), (2) Philippine Bar Association (PBA), (3)
advertisements pertaining to the exercise of the law Philippine Lawyers' Association (PLA), (4) U.P. Womens
profession other than those allowed by law." Lawyers' Circle (WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers Association of
the Philippines (WLAP), and (6) Federacion International de
The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner are as Abogadas (FIDA) to submit their respective position papers on
follows: the controversy and, thereafter, their memoranda. 3 The said
bar associations readily responded and extended their
Annex A valuable services and cooperation of which this Court takes
note with appreciation and gratitude.
P560.00 for a valid marriage. The main issues posed for resolution before the Court are
Info on DIVORCE. ABSENCE. whether or not the services offered by respondent, The Legal
ANNULMENT. VISA. Clinic, Inc., as advertised by it constitutes practice of law and,
in either case, whether the same can properly be the subject
THE Please call: 521-0767 LEGAL 5217232, of the advertisements herein complained of.
5222041CLINIC, INC. 8:30 am— 6:00 pm 7-Flr. Victoria
Bldg., UN Ave., Mla. Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the merits of
this case, we deem it proper and enlightening to present
Annex B hereunder excerpts from the respective position papers
adopted by the aforementioned bar associations and the
GUAM DIVORCE. memoranda submitted by them on the issues involved in this
bar matter.
1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines:
an Attorney in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce
through The Legal Clinic beginning Monday to Friday during xxx xxx xxx
office hours.
Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which respondent
Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Problems, endeavored to distinguish the two terms, i.e., "legal support
Visa Ext. Quota/Non-quota Res. & Special Retiree's Visa. services" vis-a-vis "legal services", common sense would
Declaration of Absence. Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees. readily dictate that the same are essentially without
Adoption. Investment in the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for Filipina substantial distinction. For who could deny that document
Spouse/Children. Call Marivic. search, evidence gathering, assistance to layman in need of
basic institutional services from government or non-
THE 7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave., LEGAL Ermita, government agencies like birth, marriage, property, or
Manila nr. US Embassy CLINIC, INC.1 Tel. 521- business registration, obtaining documents like clearance,
7232; 521-7251; 522-2041; 521-0767 passports, local or foreign visas, constitutes practice of law?

It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements xxx xxx xxx

above reproduced are champterous, unethical, demeaning of
the law profession, and destructive of the confidence of the The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) does not wish to
community in the integrity of the members of the bar and make issue with respondent's foreign citations. Suffice it to
that, as a member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and state that the IBP has made its position manifest, to wit, that it

Page 1 of 33
strongly opposes the view espoused by respondent (to the general public of the services being offered by it. Said
effect that today it is alright to advertise one's legal services). advertisements, however, emphasize to Guam divorce, and
any law student ought to know that under the Family Code,
The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain terms its there is only one instance when a foreign divorce is
opposition to respondent's act of establishing a "legal clinic" recognized, and that is:
and of concomitantly advertising the same through
newspaper publications. Article 26. .. .

The IBP would therefore invoke the administrative supervision Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is
of this Honorable Court to perpetually restrain respondent validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained
from undertaking highly unethical activities in the field of law abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry,
practice as aforedescribed.4 the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under
Philippine Law.
xxx xxx xxx
It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family Code (defines) a
A. The use of the name "The Legal Clinic, Inc." gives the marriage as follows:
impression that respondent corporation is being operated by
lawyers and that it renders legal services. Article 1.Marriage is special contract of permanent union
between a man and woman entered into accordance with law
While the respondent repeatedly denies that it offers legal for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the
services to the public, the advertisements in question give the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution
impression that respondent is offering legal services. The whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by
Petition in fact simply assumes this to be so, as earlier law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage
mentioned, apparently because this (is) the effect that the settlements may fix the property relation during the marriage
advertisements have on the reading public. within the limits provided by this Code.

The impression created by the advertisements in question can By simply reading the questioned advertisements, it is obvious
be traced, first of all, to the very name being used by that the message being conveyed is that Filipinos can avoid
respondent — "The Legal Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is the legal consequences of a marriage celebrated in
respectfully submitted connotes the rendering of legal accordance with our law, by simply going to Guam for a
services for legal problems, just like a medical clinic connotes divorce. This is not only misleading, but encourages, or serves
medical services for medical problems. More importantly, the to induce, violation of Philippine law. At the very least, this can
term "Legal Clinic" connotes lawyers, as the term medical be considered "the dark side" of legal practice, where certain
clinic connotes doctors. defects in Philippine laws are exploited for the sake of profit.
At worst, this is outright malpractice.
Furthermore, the respondent's name, as published in the
advertisements subject of the present case, appears with (the) Rule 1.02. — A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities
scale(s) of justice, which all the more reinforces the aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the
impression that it is being operated by members of the bar legal system.
and that it offers legal services. In addition, the
advertisements in question appear with a picture and name of In addition, it may also be relevant to point out that
a person being represented as a lawyer from Guam, and this advertisements such as that shown in Annex "A" of the
practically removes whatever doubt may still remain as to the Petition, which contains a cartoon of a motor vehicle with the
nature of the service or services being offered. words "Just Married" on its bumper and seems to address
those planning a "secret marriage," if not suggesting a "secret
It thus becomes irrelevant whether respondent is merely marriage," makes light of the "special contract of permanent
offering "legal support services" as claimed by it, or whether it union," the inviolable social institution," which is how the
offers legal services as any lawyer actively engaged in law Family Code describes marriage, obviously to emphasize its
practice does. And it becomes unnecessary to make a sanctity and inviolability. Worse, this particular advertisement
distinction between "legal services" and "legal support appears to encourage marriages celebrated in secrecy, which
services," as the respondent would have it. The is suggestive of immoral publication of applications for a
advertisements in question leave no room for doubt in the marriage license.
minds of the reading public that legal services are being
offered by lawyers, whether true or not. If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be reviewed, it can
readily be concluded that the above impressions one may
B. The advertisements in question are meant to induce gather from the advertisements in question are accurate. The
the performance of acts contrary to law, morals, public order Sharon Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion example alone confirms
and public policy. what the advertisements suggest. Here it can be seen that
criminal acts are being encouraged or committed
It may be conceded that, as the respondent claims, the
advertisements in question are only meant to inform the

Page 2 of 33
(a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las Vegas) with exclusively to members of the Bar may be undertaken. This,
impunity simply because the jurisdiction of Philippine courts however, may require further proceedings because of the
does not extend to the place where the crime is committed. factual considerations involved.

Even if it be assumed, arguendo, (that) the "legal support It must be emphasized, however, that some of respondent's
services" respondent offers do not constitute legal services as services ought to be prohibited outright, such as acts which
commonly understood, the advertisements in question give tend to suggest or induce celebration abroad of marriages
the impression that respondent corporation is being operated which are bigamous or otherwise illegal and void under
by lawyers and that it offers legal services, as earlier discussed. Philippine law. While respondent may not be prohibited from
Thus, the only logical consequence is that, in the eyes of an simply disseminating information regarding such matters, it
ordinary newspaper reader, members of the bar themselves must be required to include, in the information given, a
are encouraging or inducing the performance of acts which disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law, that certain
are contrary to law, morals, good customs and the public course of action may be illegal under Philippine law, that it is
good, thereby destroying and demeaning the integrity of the not authorized or capable of rendering a legal opinion, that a
Bar. lawyer should be consulted before deciding on which course
of action to take, and that it cannot recommend any particular
xxx xxx xxx lawyer without subjecting itself to possible sanctions for illegal
practice of law.
It is respectfully submitted that respondent should be
enjoined from causing the publication of the advertisements If respondent is allowed to advertise, advertising should be
in question, or any other advertisements similar thereto. It is directed exclusively at members of the Bar, with a clear and
also submitted that respondent should be prohibited from unmistakable disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice
further performing or offering some of the services it law or perform legal services.
presently offers, or, at the very least, from offering such
services to the public in general. The benefits of being assisted by paralegals cannot be ignored.
But nobody should be allowed to represent himself as a
The IBP is aware of the fact that providing computerized legal "paralegal" for profit, without such term being clearly defined
research, electronic data gathering, storage and retrieval, by rule or regulation, and without any adequate and effective
standardized legal forms, investigators for gathering of means of regulating his activities. Also, law practice in a
evidence, and like services will greatly benefit the legal corporate form may prove to be advantageous to the legal
profession and should not be stifled but instead encouraged. profession, but before allowance of such practice may be
However, when the conduct of such business by non- considered, the corporation's Article of Incorporation and By-
members of the Bar encroaches upon the practice of law, laws must conform to each and every provision of the Code of
there can be no choice but to prohibit such business. Professional Responsibility and the Rules of Court.5

Admittedly, many of the services involved in the case at bar 2. Philippine Bar Association:
can be better performed by specialists in other fields, such as
computer experts, who by reason of their having devoted time xxx xxx xxx.
and effort exclusively to such field cannot fulfill the exacting
requirements for admission to the Bar. To prohibit them from Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged in the practice of
"encroaching" upon the legal profession will deny the law but engaged in giving legal support services to lawyers and
profession of the great benefits and advantages of modern laymen, through experienced paralegals, with the use of
technology. Indeed, a lawyer using a computer will be doing modern computers and electronic machines" (pars. 2 and 3,
better than a lawyer using a typewriter, even if both are Comment). This is absurd. Unquestionably, respondent's acts
(equal) in skill. of holding out itself to the public under the trade name "The
Legal Clinic, Inc.," and soliciting employment for its
Both the Bench and the Bar, however, should be careful not to enumerated services fall within the realm of a practice which
allow or tolerate the illegal practice of law in any form, not thus yields itself to the regulatory powers of the Supreme
only for the protection of members of the Bar but also, and Court. For respondent to say that it is merely engaged in
more importantly, for the protection of the public. paralegal work is to stretch credulity. Respondent's own
Technological development in the profession may be commercial advertisement which announces a certain Atty.
encouraged without tolerating, but instead ensuring Don Parkinson to be handling the fields of law belies its
prevention of illegal practice. pretense. From all indications, respondent "The Legal Clinic,
Inc." is offering and rendering legal services through its
There might be nothing objectionable if respondent is allowed reserve of lawyers. It has been held that the practice of law is
to perform all of its services, but only if such services are not limited to the conduct of cases in court, but includes
made available exclusively to members of the Bench and Bar. drawing of deeds, incorporation, rendering opinions, and
Respondent would then be offering technical assistance, not advising clients as to their legal right and then take them to an
legal services. Alternatively, the more difficult task of carefully attorney and ask the latter to look after their case in court See
distinguishing between which service may be offered to the Martin, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1984 ed., p. 39).
public in general and which should be made available

Page 3 of 33
It is apt to recall that only natural persons can engage in the Applying the test laid down by the Court in the aforecited
practice of law, and such limitation cannot be evaded by a Agrava Case, the activities of respondent fall squarely and are
corporation employing competent lawyers to practice for it. embraced in what lawyers and laymen equally term as "the
Obviously, this is the scheme or device by which respondent practice of law."7
"The Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself to the public and solicits
employment of its legal services. It is an odious vehicle for 4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle:
deception, especially so when the public cannot ventilate any
grievance for malpractice against the business conduit. In resolving, the issues before this Honorable Court,
Precisely, the limitation of practice of law to persons who have paramount consideration should be given to the protection of
been duly admitted as members of the Bar (Sec. 1, Rule 138, the general public from the danger of being exploited by
Revised Rules of Court) is to subject the members to the unqualified persons or entities who may be engaged in the
discipline of the Supreme Court. Although respondent uses its practice of law.
business name, the persons and the lawyers who act for it are
subject to court discipline. The practice of law is not a At present, becoming a lawyer requires one to take a rigorous
profession open to all who wish to engage in it nor can it be four-year course of study on top of a four-year bachelor of
assigned to another (See 5 Am. Jur. 270). It is a personal right arts or sciences course and then to take and pass the bar
limited to persons who have qualified themselves under the examinations. Only then, is a lawyer qualified to practice law.
law. It follows that not only respondent but also all the
persons who are acting for respondent are the persons While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in many jurisdiction
engaged in unethical law practice.6 as an aid to the administration of justice, there are in those
jurisdictions, courses of study and/or standards which would
3. Philippine Lawyers' Association: qualify these paralegals to deal with the general public as
such. While it may now be the opportune time to establish
The Philippine Lawyers' Association's position, in answer to these courses of study and/or standards, the fact remains that
the issues stated herein, are wit: at present, these do not exist in the Philippines. In the
meantime, this Honorable Court may decide to make
1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law; measures to protect the general public from being exploited
by those who may be dealing with the general public in the
2. Such practice is unauthorized; guise of being "paralegals" without being qualified to do so.

3. The advertisements complained of are not only In the same manner, the general public should also be
unethical, but also misleading and patently immoral; and protected from the dangers which may be brought about by
advertising of legal services. While it appears that lawyers are
4. The Honorable Supreme Court has the power to prohibited under the present Code of Professional
supress and punish the Legal Clinic and its corporate officers Responsibility from advertising, it appears in the instant case
for its unauthorized practice of law and for its unethical, that legal services are being advertised not by lawyers but by
misleading and immoral advertising. an entity staffed by "paralegals." Clearly, measures should be
taken to protect the general public from falling prey to those
xxx xxx xxx who advertise legal services without being qualified to offer
such services. 8
Respondent posits that is it not engaged in the practice of law.
It claims that it merely renders "legal support services" to A perusal of the questioned advertisements of Respondent,
answers, litigants and the general public as enunciated in the however, seems to give the impression that information
Primary Purpose Clause of its Article(s) of Incorporation. (See regarding validity of marriages, divorce, annulment of
pages 2 to 5 of Respondent's Comment). But its advertised marriage, immigration, visa extensions, declaration of
services, as enumerated above, clearly and convincingly show absence, adoption and foreign investment, which are in
that it is indeed engaged in law practice, albeit outside of essence, legal matters , will be given to them if they avail of its
court. services. The Respondent's name — The Legal Clinic, Inc. —
does not help matters. It gives the impression again that
As advertised, it offers the general public its advisory services Respondent will or can cure the legal problems brought to
on Persons and Family Relations Law, particularly regarding them. Assuming that Respondent is, as claimed, staffed purely
foreign divorces, annulment of marriages, secret marriages, by paralegals, it also gives the misleading impression that
absence and adoption; Immigration Laws, particularly on visa there are lawyers involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc., as there are
related problems, immigration problems; the Investments Law doctors in any medical clinic, when only "paralegals" are
of the Philippines and such other related laws. involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc.

Its advertised services unmistakably require the application of Respondent's allegations are further belied by the very
the aforesaid law, the legal principles and procedures related admissions of its President and majority stockholder, Atty.
thereto, the legal advices based thereon and which activities Nogales, who gave an insight on the structure and main
call for legal training, knowledge and experience. purpose of Respondent corporation in the aforementioned
"Starweek" article."9

Page 4 of 33
necessarily make respondent guilty of unlawful practice of
5. Women Lawyer's Association of the Philippines: law.

Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are clearly advertisements . . . . Of necessity, no one . . . . acting as a consultant can
to solicit cases for the purpose of gain which, as provided for render effective service unless he is familiar with such statutes
under the above cited law, (are) illegal and against the Code of and regulations. He must be careful not to suggest a course of
Professional Responsibility of lawyers in this country. conduct which the law forbids. It seems . . . .clear that (the
consultant's) knowledge of the law, and his use of that
Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in that it is an knowledge as a factor in determining what measures he shall
advertisement to solicit cases, but it is illegal in that in bold recommend, do not constitute the practice of law . . . . It is not
letters it announces that the Legal Clinic, Inc., could work only presumed that all men know the law, but it is a fact that
out/cause the celebration of a secret marriage which is not most men have considerable acquaintance with broad
only illegal but immoral in this country. While it is advertised features of the law . . . . Our knowledge of the law — accurate
that one has to go to said agency and pay P560 for a valid or inaccurate — moulds our conduct not only when we are
marriage it is certainly fooling the public for valid marriages in acting for ourselves, but when we are serving others. Bankers,
the Philippines are solemnized only by officers authorized to liquor dealers and laymen generally possess rather precise
do so under the law. And to employ an agency for said knowledge of the laws touching their particular business or
purpose of contracting marriage is not necessary. profession. A good example is the architect, who must be
familiar with zoning, building and fire prevention codes,
No amount of reasoning that in the USA, Canada and other factory and tenement house statutes, and who draws plans
countries the trend is towards allowing lawyers to advertise and specification in harmony with the law. This is not
their special skills to enable people to obtain from qualified practicing law.
practitioners legal services for their particular needs can justify
the use of advertisements such as are the subject matter of But suppose the architect, asked by his client to omit a fire
the petition, for one (cannot) justify an illegal act even by tower, replies that it is required by the statute. Or the
whatever merit the illegal act may serve. The law has yet to be industrial relations expert cites, in support of some measure
amended so that such act could become justifiable. that he recommends, a decision of the National Labor
Relations Board. Are they practicing law? In my opinion, they
We submit further that these advertisements that seem to are not, provided no separate fee is charged for the legal
project that secret marriages and divorce are possible in this advice or information, and the legal question is subordinate
country for a fee, when in fact it is not so, are highly and incidental to a major non-legal problem.
It is largely a matter of degree and of custom.
It would encourage people to consult this clinic about how
they could go about having a secret marriage here, when it If it were usual for one intending to erect a building on his
cannot nor should ever be attempted, and seek advice on land to engage a lawyer to advise him and the architect in
divorce, where in this country there is none, except under the respect to the building code and the like, then an architect
Code of Muslim Personal Laws in the Philippines. It is also who performed this function would probably be considered to
against good morals and is deceitful because it falsely be trespassing on territory reserved for licensed attorneys.
represents to the public to be able to do that which by our Likewise, if the industrial relations field had been pre-empted
laws cannot be done (and) by our Code of Morals should not by lawyers, or custom placed a lawyer always at the elbow of
be done. the lay personnel man. But this is not the case. The most
important body of the industrial relations experts are the
In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the Supreme Court officers and business agents of the labor unions and few of
held that solicitation for clients by an attorney by circulars of them are lawyers. Among the larger corporate employers, it
advertisements, is unprofessional, and offenses of this has been the practice for some years to delegate special
character justify permanent elimination from the Bar. 10 responsibility in employee matters to a management group
chosen for their practical knowledge and skill in such matter,
6. Federacion Internacional de Abogados: and without regard to legal thinking or lack of it. More
recently, consultants like the defendants have the same
xxx xxx xxx service that the larger employers get from their own
specialized staff.
1.7 That entities admittedly not engaged in the practice of
law, such as management consultancy firms or travel The handling of industrial relations is growing into a
agencies, whether run by lawyers or not, perform the services recognized profession for which appropriate courses are
rendered by Respondent does not necessarily lead to the offered by our leading universities. The court should be very
conclusion that Respondent is not unlawfully practicing law. In cautious about declaring [that] a widespread, well-established
the same vein, however, the fact that the business of method of conducting business is unlawful, or that the
respondent (assuming it can be engaged in independently of considerable class of men who customarily perform a certain
the practice of law) involves knowledge of the law does not function have no right to do so, or that the technical

Page 5 of 33
education given by our schools cannot be used by the 1.8 From the foregoing, it can be said that a person
graduates in their business. engaged in a lawful calling (which may involve knowledge of
the law) is not engaged in the practice of law provided that:
In determining whether a man is practicing law, we should
consider his work for any particular client or customer, as a (a) The legal question is subordinate and incidental to a
whole. I can imagine defendant being engaged primarily to major non-legal problem;.
advise as to the law defining his client's obligations to his
employees, to guide his client's obligations to his employees, (b) The services performed are not customarily reserved
to guide his client along the path charted by law. This, of to members of the bar; .
course, would be the practice of the law. But such is not the
fact in the case before me. Defendant's primarily efforts are (c) No separate fee is charged for the legal advice or
along economic and psychological lines. The law only provides information.
the frame within which he must work, just as the zoning code
limits the kind of building the limits the kind of building the All these must be considered in relation to the work for any
architect may plan. The incidental legal advice or information particular client as a whole.
defendant may give, does not transform his activities into the
practice of law. Let me add that if, even as a minor feature of 1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer and non-lawyer,
his work, he performed services which are customarily the Code of Professional Responsibility succintly states the
reserved to members of the bar, he would be practicing law. rule of conduct:
For instance, if as part of a welfare program, he drew
employees' wills. Rule 15.08 — A lawyer who is engaged in another profession
or occupation concurrently with the practice of law shall make
Another branch of defendant's work is the representations of clear to his client whether he is acting as a lawyer or in
the employer in the adjustment of grievances and in collective another capacity.
bargaining, with or without a mediator. This is not per se the
practice of law. Anyone may use an agent for negotiations and 1.10. In the present case. the Legal Clinic appears to render
may select an agent particularly skilled in the subject under wedding services (See Annex "A" Petition). Services on routine,
discussion, and the person appointed is free to accept the straightforward marriages, like securing a marriage license,
employment whether or not he is a member of the bar. Here, and making arrangements with a priest or a judge, may not
however, there may be an exception where the business turns constitute practice of law. However, if the problem is as
on a question of law. Most real estate sales are negotiated by complicated as that described in "Rx for Legal Problems" on
brokers who are not lawyers. But if the value of the land the Sharon Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion-Richard Gomez case,
depends on a disputed right-of-way and the principal role of then what may be involved is actually the practice of law. If a
the negotiator is to assess the probable outcome of the non-lawyer, such as the Legal Clinic, renders such services
dispute and persuade the opposite party to the same opinion, then it is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
then it may be that only a lawyer can accept the assignment.
Or if a controversy between an employer and his men grows 1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears to give information on
from differing interpretations of a contract, or of a statute, it is divorce, absence, annulment of marriage and visas (See
quite likely that defendant should not handle it. But I need not Annexes "A" and "B" Petition). Purely giving informational
reach a definite conclusion here, since the situation is not materials may not constitute of law. The business is similar to
presented by the proofs. that of a bookstore where the customer buys materials on the
subject and determines on the subject and determines by
Defendant also appears to represent the employer before himself what courses of action to take.
administrative agencies of the federal government, especially
before trial examiners of the National Labor Relations Board. It is not entirely improbable, however, that aside from purely
An agency of the federal government, acting by virtue of an giving information, the Legal Clinic's paralegals may apply the
authority granted by the Congress, may regulate the law to the particular problem of the client, and give legal
representation of parties before such agency. The State of advice. Such would constitute unauthorized practice of law.
New Jersey is without power to interfere with such
determination or to forbid representation before the agency It cannot be claimed that the publication of a legal text which
by one whom the agency admits. The rules of the National publication of a legal text which purports to say what the law
Labor Relations Board give to a party the right to appear in is amount to legal practice. And the mere fact that the
person, or by counsel, or by other representative. Rules and principles or rules stated in the text may be accepted by a
Regulations, September 11th, 1946, S. 203.31. 'Counsel' here particular reader as a solution to his problem does not affect
means a licensed attorney, and ther representative' one not a this. . . . . Apparently it is urged that the conjoining of these
lawyer. In this phase of his work, defendant may lawfully do two, that is, the text and the forms, with advice as to how the
whatever the Labor Board allows, even arguing questions forms should be filled out, constitutes the unlawful practice of
purely legal. (Auerbacher v. Wood, 53 A. 2d 800, cited in law. But that is the situation with many approved and
Statsky, Introduction to Paralegalism [1974], at pp. 154-156.). accepted texts. Dacey's book is sold to the public at large.
There is no personal contact or relationship with a particular
individual. Nor does there exist that relation of confidence and

Page 6 of 33
trust so necessary to the status of attorney and client. THIS IS the clause "practice of law" has long been the subject of
THE ESSENTIAL OF LEGAL PRACTICE — THE REPRESENTATION judicial construction and interpretation. The courts have laid
AND ADVISING OF A PARTICULAR PERSON IN A PARTICULAR down general principles and doctrines explaining the meaning
SITUATION. At most the book assumes to offer general advice and scope of the term, some of which we now take into
on common problems, and does not purport to give personal account.
advice on a specific problem peculiar to a designated or
readily identified person. Similarly the defendant's publication Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which
does not purport to give personal advice on a specific problem requires the application of law, legal procedures, knowledge,
peculiar to a designated or readily identified person in a training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to
particular situation — in their publication and sale of the kits, perform those acts which are characteristic of the profession.
such publication and sale did not constitutes the unlawful Generally, to practice law is to give advice or render any kind
practice of law . . . . There being no legal impediment under of service that involves legal knowledge or skill. 12
the statute to the sale of the kit, there was no proper basis for
the injunction against defendant maintaining an office for the The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in
purpose of selling to persons seeking a divorce, separation, court. It includes legal advice and counsel, and the preparation
annulment or separation agreement any printed material or of legal instruments and contract by which legal rights are
writings relating to matrimonial law or the prohibition in the secured, although such matter may or may not be pending in
memorandum of modification of the judgment against a court. 13
defendant having an interest in any publishing house
publishing his manuscript on divorce and against his having In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law
any personal contact with any prospective purchaser. The generally engages in three principal types of professional
record does fully support, however, the finding that for the activity: legal advice and instructions to clients to inform them
change of $75 or $100 for the kit, the defendant gave legal of their rights and obligations, preparation for clients of
advice in the course of personal contacts concerning particular documents requiring knowledge of legal principles not
problems which might arise in the preparation and possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for clients
presentation of the purchaser's asserted matrimonial cause of before public tribunals which possess power and authority to
action or pursuit of other legal remedies and assistance in the determine rights of life, liberty, and property according to law,
preparation of necessary documents (The injunction therefore in order to assist in proper interpretation and enforcement of
sought to) enjoin conduct constituting the practice of law, law. 14
particularly with reference to the giving of advice and counsel
by the defendant relating to specific problems of particular When a person participates in the a trial and advertises
individuals in connection with a divorce, separation, himself as a lawyer, he is in the practice of law. 15 One who
annulment of separation agreement sought and should be confers with clients, advises them as to their legal rights and
affirmed. (State v. Winder, 348, NYS 2D 270 [1973], cited in then takes the business to an attorney and asks the latter to
Statsky, supra at p. 101.). look after the case in court, is also practicing law. 16 Giving
advice for compensation regarding the legal status and rights
1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its services are of another and the conduct with respect thereto constitutes a
"strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory. "It is not controverted, practice of law. 17 One who renders an opinion as to the
however, that if the services "involve giving legal advice or proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is, to
counselling," such would constitute practice of law (Comment, that extent, practicing law. 18
par. 6.2). It is in this light that FIDA submits that a factual
inquiry may be necessary for the judicious disposition of this In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, 19 after citing the
case. doctrines in several cases, we laid down the test to determine
whether certain acts constitute "practice of law," thus:
xxx xxx xxx
Black defines "practice of law" as:
2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically objectionable in that it
can give the impression (or perpetuate the wrong notion) that The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the
there is a secret marriage. With all the solemnities, formalities application of legal principles and technique to serve the
and other requisites of marriages (See Articles 2, et seq., interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to
Family Code), no Philippine marriage can be secret. appearing in court, or advising and assisting in the conduct of
litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and
2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically objectionable. other papers incident to actions and special proceedings,
The second paragraph thereof (which is not necessarily conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all
related to the first paragraph) fails to state the limitation that kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces
only "paralegal services?" or "legal support services", and not all advice to clients and all actions taken for them in matters
legal services, are available." 11 connected with the law.

A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase "practice The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases on
of law" becomes exigent for the proper determination of the court.(Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken , 129 Ohio
issues raised by the petition at bar. On this score, we note that

Page 7 of 33
St. 23, 193N. E. 650). A person is also considered to be in the which rests upon all attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the
practice of law when he: Rules o Court, Vol. 3 [1973 ed.], pp. 665-666, citing In Re
Opinion of the Justices [Mass], 194 N. E. 313, quoted in Rhode
. . . . for valuable consideration engages in the business of Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 197 A. 139,
advising person, firms, associations or corporations as to their 144).
right under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as
an advocate in proceedings, pending or prospective, before The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of activities
any court, commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or in and out of court. Applying the aforementioned criteria to
commission constituted by law or authorized to settle the case at bar, we agree with the perceptive findings and
controversies and there, in such representative capacity, observations of the aforestated bar associations that the
performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or activities of respondent, as advertised, constitute "practice of
defending the rights of their clients under the law. Otherwise law."
stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the
business of advising clients as to their rights under the law, or The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal
while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or support services can neither be seriously considered nor
outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of sustained. Said proposition is belied by respondent's own
law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S. W. description of the services it has been offering, to wit:
2d 895, 340 Mo. 852).
Legal support services basically consists of giving ready
This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers Association v. information by trained paralegals to laymen and lawyers,
Agrava (105 Phil. 173, 176-177),stated: which are strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory, through the
extensive use of computers and modern information
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or technology in the gathering, processing, storage, transmission
litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and reproduction of information and communication, such as
and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, computerized legal research; encoding and reproduction of
the management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of documents and pleadings prepared by laymen or lawyers;
clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveying. In document search; evidence gathering; locating parties or
general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in witnesses to a case; fact finding investigations; and assistance
matters connected with the law incorporation services, to laymen in need of basic institutional services from
assessment and condemnation services contemplating an government or non-government agencies, like birth, marriage,
appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a property, or business registrations; educational or
mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and employment records or certifications, obtaining
insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in documentation like clearances, passports, local or foreign
attachment, and in matters or estate and guardianship have visas; giving information about laws of other countries that
been held to constitute law practice, as do the preparation they may find useful, like foreign divorce, marriage or
and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done adoption laws that they can avail of preparatory to emigration
involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the to the foreign country, and other matters that do not involve
legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). representation of clients in court; designing and installing
computer systems, programs, or software for the efficient
Practice of law under modern conditions consists in no small management of law offices, corporate legal departments,
part of work performed outside of any court and having no courts and other entities engaged in dispensing or
immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces administering legal services. 20
conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a large variety of
subjects and the preparation and execution of legal While some of the services being offered by respondent
instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust corporation merely involve mechanical and technical
relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may knowhow, such as the installation of computer systems and
have no direct connection with court proceedings, they are programs for the efficient management of law offices, or the
always subject to become involved in litigation. They require computerization of research aids and materials, these will not
in many aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide experience suffice to justify an exception to the general rule.
with men and affairs, and great capacity for adaptation to
difficult and complex situations. These customary functions of What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives
an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate relation to out legal information to laymen and lawyers. Its contention
the administration of justice by the courts. No valid that such function is non-advisory and non-diagnostic is more
distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the apparent than real. In providing information, for example,
order, can be drawn between that part of the work of the about foreign laws on marriage, divorce and adoption, it
lawyer which involves appearance in court and that part which strains the credulity of this Court that all the respondent
involves advice and drafting of instruments in his office. It is of corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy
importance to the welfare of the public that these manifold thereof to the client, and stop there as if it were merely a
customary functions be performed by persons possessed of bookstore. With its attorneys and so called paralegals, it will
adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and necessarily have to explain to the client the intricacies of the
acting at all times under the heavy trust obligations to clients law and advise him or her on the proper course of action to be

Page 8 of 33
taken as may be provided for by said law. That is what its
advertisements represent and for the which services it will That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to carry out
consequently charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely its services is not controlling. What is important is that it is
within the jurisprudential definition of "practice of law." Such engaged in the practice of law by virtue of the nature of the
a conclusion will not be altered by the fact that respondent services it renders which thereby brings it within the ambit of
corporation does not represent clients in court since law the statutory prohibitions against the advertisements which it
practice, as the weight of authority holds, is not limited merely has caused to be published and are now assailed in this
giving legal advice, contract drafting and so forth. proceeding.

The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an article Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P.
published in the January 13, 1991 issue of the Starweek/The WILOCI, said reported facts sufficiently establish that the main
Sunday Magazine of the Philippines Star, entitled "Rx for Legal purpose of respondent is to serve as a one-stop-shop of sorts
Problems," where an insight into the structure, main purpose for various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal
and operations of respondent corporation was given by its services from simple documentation to complex litigation and
own "proprietor," Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales: corporate undertakings. Most of these services are
undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather, are
This is the kind of business that is transacted everyday at The exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of law.
Legal Clinic, with offices on the seventh floor of the Victoria 22
Building along U. N. Avenue in Manila. No matter what the
client's problem, and even if it is as complicated as the It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services being
Cuneta-Concepcion domestic situation, Atty. Nogales and his offered by private respondent which constitute practice of law
staff of lawyers, who, like doctors are "specialists" in various cannot be performed by paralegals. Only a person duly
fields can take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as
taxation and criminal law, medico-legal problems, labor, such in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Court,
litigation, and family law. These specialist are backed up by a and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice
battery of paralegals, counsellors and attorneys. law. 23

Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in 1984. Inspired by the Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to
trend in the medical field toward specialization, it caters to those individuals found duly qualified in education and
clients who cannot afford the services of the big law firms. character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyers is an
individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails
The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in clients. "when they to maintain proper standards of moral and professional
come, we start by analyzing the problem. That's what doctors conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the
do also. They ask you how you contracted what's bothering client and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of
you, they take your temperature, they observe you for the those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the
symptoms and so on. That's how we operate, too. And once disciplinary control of the court. 24
the problem has been categorized, then it's referred to one of
our specialists. The same rule is observed in the american jurisdiction
wherefrom respondent would wish to draw support for his
There are cases which do not, in medical terms, require thesis. The doctrines there also stress that the practice of law
surgery or follow-up treatment. These The Legal Clinic is limited to those who meet the requirements for, and have
disposes of in a matter of minutes. "Things like preparing a been admitted to, the bar, and various statutes or rules
simple deed of sale or an affidavit of loss can be taken care of specifically so provide. 25 The practice of law is not a lawful
by our staff or, if this were a hospital the residents or the business except for members of the bar who have complied
interns. We can take care of these matters on a while you wait with all the conditions required by statute and the rules of
basis. Again, kung baga sa hospital, out-patient, hindi court. Only those persons are allowed to practice law who, by
kailangang ma-confine. It's just like a common cold or reason of attainments previously acquired through education
diarrhea," explains Atty. Nogales. and study, have been recognized by the courts as possessing
profound knowledge of legal science entitling them to advise,
Those cases which requires more extensive "treatment" are counsel with, protect, or defend the rights claims, or liabilities
dealt with accordingly. "If you had a rich relative who died and of their clients, with respect to the construction,
named you her sole heir, and you stand to inherit millions of interpretation, operation and effect of law. 26 The justification
pesos of property, we would refer you to a specialist in for excluding from the practice of law those not admitted to
taxation. There would be real estate taxes and arrears which the bar is found, not in the protection of the bar from
would need to be put in order, and your relative is even taxed competition, but in the protection of the public from being
by the state for the right to transfer her property, and only a advised and represented in legal matters by incompetent and
specialist in taxation would be properly trained to deal with unreliable persons over whom the judicial department can
the problem. Now, if there were other heirs contesting your exercise little control.27
rich relatives will, then you would need a litigator, who knows
how to arrange the problem for presentation in court, and We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's
gather evidence to support the case. 21 position that the concept in the United States of paralegals as

Page 9 of 33
an occupation separate from the law profession be adopted in The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's
this jurisdiction. Whatever may be its merits, respondent advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without
cannot but be aware that this should first be a matter for violating the ethics of his profession. advertise his talents or
judicial rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral skill as in a manner similar to a merchant advertising his
adoption as it has done. goods. 37 The prescription against advertising of legal services
or solicitation of legal business rests on the fundamental
Paralegals in the United States are trained professionals. As postulate that the that the practice of law is a profession.
admitted by respondent, there are schools and universities Thus, in the case of The Director of Religious Affairs. vs.
there which offer studies and degrees in paralegal education, Estanislao R. Bayot 38 an advertisement, similar to those of
while there are none in the Philippines. 28 As the concept of respondent which are involved in the present proceeding, 39
the "paralegals" or "legal assistant" evolved in the United was held to constitute improper advertising or solicitation.
States, standards and guidelines also evolved to protect the
general public. One of the major standards or guidelines was The pertinent part of the decision therein reads:
developed by the American Bar Association which set up
Guidelines for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a
Programs (1973). Legislation has even been proposed to flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics of his
certify legal assistants. There are also associations of profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the
paralegals in the United States with their own code of public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other
professional ethics, such as the National Association of Legal things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the
Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal Association. 29 purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or
brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an
In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant
limited acceptance of what may be considered as paralegal advertises his wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. The
service. As pointed out by FIDA, some persons not duly lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and
licensed to practice law are or have been allowed limited adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his
representation in behalf of another or to render legal services, services or offering them to the public. As a member of the
but such allowable services are limited in scope and extent by bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities
the law, rules or regulations granting permission therefor. 30 as the money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah.
"The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even
Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial policy for a young lawyer, . . . . is the establishment of a well-merited
that, in the absence of constitutional or statutory authority, a reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This
person who has not been admitted as an attorney cannot cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and
practice law for the proper administration of justice cannot be conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.).
hindered by the unwarranted intrusion of an unauthorized
and unskilled person into the practice of law. 31 That policy We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that the best
should continue to be one of encouraging persons who are advertising possible for a lawyer is a well-merited reputation
unsure of their legal rights and remedies to seek legal for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be
assistance only from persons licensed to practice law in the earned as the outcome of character and conduct. Good and
state. 32 efficient service to a client as well as to the community has a
way of publicizing itself and catching public attention. That
Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned publicity is a normal by-product of effective service which is
advertisements, the Code of Professional Responsibility right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no
provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services shall artificial stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He
use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information easily sees the difference between a normal by-product of
or statement of facts. 33 He is not supposed to use or permit able service and the unwholesome result of propaganda. 40
the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive,
undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are
regarding his qualifications or legal services. 34 Nor shall he prohibited. The canons of the profession enumerate
pay or give something of value to representatives of the mass exceptions to the rule against advertising or solicitation and
media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to attract define the extent to which they may be undertaken. The
legal business. 35 Prior to the adoption of the code of exceptions are of two broad categories, namely, those which
Professional Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics are expressly allowed and those which are necessarily implied
had also warned that lawyers should not resort to indirect from the restrictions. 41
advertisements for professional employment, such as
furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law
photograph to be published in connection with causes in lists, in a manner consistent with the standards of conduct
which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning the imposed by the canons, of brief biographical and informative
manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest data. "Such data must not be misleading and may include only
involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other a statement of the lawyer's name and the names of his
like self-laudation. 36 professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable
addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place of birth

Page 10 of 33
and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the American
graduation, degrees and other educational distinction; public Bar Association after the decision in Bates, on the attitude of
or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal authorships; legal the public about lawyers after viewing television commercials,
teaching positions; membership and offices in bar associations it was found that public opinion dropped significantly 47 with
and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and respect to these characteristics of lawyers:
legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law
lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with their Trustworthy from 71% to 14%
written consent, the names of clients regularly represented." Professional from 71% to 14%
42 Honest from 65% to 14%
Dignified from 45% to 14%
The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for
that purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present situation of
paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is published our legal and judicial systems, to allow the publication of
principally for other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may advertisements of the kind used by respondent would only
not properly publish his brief biographical and informative serve to aggravate what is already a deteriorating public
data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society opinion of the legal profession whose integrity has
program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in consistently been under attack lately by media and the
a law list the conduct, management or contents of which are community in general. At this point in time, it is of utmost
calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, importance in the face of such negative, even if unfair,
or to lower the dignity or standing of the profession. 43 criticisms at times, to adopt and maintain that level of
professional conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert
The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also all efforts to regain the high esteem formerly accorded to the
permitted. The card may contain only a statement of his legal profession.
name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with,
address, telephone number and special branch of law In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of the
practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of the lawyer, subject to disciplinary action, to advertise his services
opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, except in allowable instances 48 or to aid a layman in the
associates, firm name or office address, being for the unauthorized practice of law. 49 Considering that Atty. Rogelio
convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may P. Nogales, who is the prime incorporator, major stockholder
likewise have his name listed in a telephone directory but not and proprietor of The Legal Clinic, Inc. is a member of the
under a designation of special branch of law. 44 Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded, with a warning that
a repetition of the same or similar acts which are involved in
Verily, taking into consideration the nature and contents of this proceeding will be dealt with more severely.
the advertisements for which respondent is being taken to
task, which even includes a quotation of the fees charged by While we deem it necessary that the question as to the
said respondent corporation for services rendered, we find legality or illegality of the purpose/s for which the Legal Clinic,
and so hold that the same definitely do not and conclusively Inc. was created should be passed upon and determined, we
cannot fall under any of the above-mentioned exceptions. are constrained to refrain from lapsing into an obiter on that
aspect since it is clearly not within the adjudicative
The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of Arizona, parameters of the present proceeding which is merely
45 which is repeatedly invoked and constitutes the administrative in nature. It is, of course, imperative that this
justification relied upon by respondent, is obviously not matter be promptly determined, albeit in a different
applicable to the case at bar. Foremost is the fact that the proceeding and forum, since, under the present state of our
disciplinary rule involved in said case explicitly allows a lawyer, law and jurisprudence, a corporation cannot be organized for
as an exception to the prohibition against advertisements by or engage in the practice of law in this country. This
lawyers, to publish a statement of legal fees for an initial interdiction, just like the rule against unethical advertising,
consultation or the availability upon request of a written cannot be subverted by employing some so-called paralegals
schedule of fees or an estimate of the fee to be charged for supposedly rendering the alleged support services.
the specific services. No such exception is provided for,
expressly or impliedly, whether in our former Canons of The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition by
Professional Ethics or the present Code of Professional respondent is the concern and province of the Solicitor
Responsibility. Besides, even the disciplinary rule in the Bates General who can institute the corresponding quo warranto
case contains a proviso that the exceptions stated therein are action, 50 after due ascertainment of the factual background
"not applicable in any state unless and until it is implemented and basis for the grant of respondent's corporate charter, in
by such authority in that state." 46 This goes to show that an light of the putative misuse thereof. That spin-off from the
exception to the general rule, such as that being invoked by instant bar matter is referred to the Solicitor General for such
herein respondent, can be made only if and when the canons action as may be necessary under the circumstances.
expressly provide for such an exception. Otherwise, the
prohibition stands, as in the case at bar. ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN and ENJOIN
herein respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., from issuing or
causing the publication or dissemination of any advertisement

Page 11 of 33
in any form which is of the same or similar tenor and purpose
as Annexes "A" and "B" of this petition, and from conducting,
directly or indirectly, any activity, operation or transaction
proscribed by law or the Code of Professional Ethics as
indicated herein. Let copies of this resolution be furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar
Confidant and the Office of the Solicitor General for
appropriate action in accordance herewith.

Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Griño-Aquino,

Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ.,


A.C. No. 7027 January 30, 2009

TANU REDDI, Complainant,


Page 12 of 33


Tanu Reddi (complainant), an American citizen of Indian descent and a practicing endodontist in New York, seeks the
disbarment of Atty. Diosdado C. Sebrio, Jr. (respondent) for allegedly deceiving her into giving him a total of US$
3,000,000 for the purpose of, among other things, purchasing several real estate properties for resale.

From the records of the case, the following facts are gathered:

Taking after her parents who had been involved in various charitable activities in India, complainant nurtured
philanthropic desires of her own consisting primarily in opening a hospital with modern facilities in an underdeveloped
part of Asia. 1

Together with Immaculada Luistro (Immaculada), a Filipino citizen, 2 who was her assistant of over 10 years, complainant
visited the Philippines for the first time in 2000. Noting the level of poverty in the country and the lack of medical services
for the poor, 3 she decided to put up a hospital. 4

Immaculada suggested to complainant to consider engaging in the real estate business in the Philippines in order to speed
up the generation of funds. 5 Heeding the suggestion, complainant returned to the Philippines in 2003 to explore
opportunities in the real estate business. 6

Complainant was introduced to respondent who would help her acquire real properties for development and/or resale.
Since she could not acquire ownership of lands in the Philippines, respondent advised her to use corporate vehicles to
effect the purchases. Three corporations were thus formed – Tagaytay Twins, Inc., Manila Chic Twins, Inc., and Tanu, Inc. 7

By complainant’s account, respondent cajoled her into buying several parcels of land located at Tagaytay City, Las Piñas
City, Makati City, Quezon City, and Pasay City. She related the details surrounding the intended acquisition of property as

Re the Tagaytay City Property

Respondent represented to complainant that his client Teresita Monzon (Teresita) owned an untitled 27-hectare property
located at Tagaytay City. Through the Tagaytay Twins, Inc., complainant and Teresita executed a Memorandum of
Agreement dated March 21, 2003 (Tagaytay MOA)8 prepared by respondent under which she agreed to finance the titling
of the property in the total amount of ₱20,000,000, and that once titled, the property would be offered for sale, the
proceeds of which would be divided equally between her and Teresita. Complainant thereupon made staggered payments
of US$1,000, ₱2,000,000, and US$36,360 to Teresita. 9

Complainant was later to discover that 996 square meters of the 27-hectare property had been purchased by Aldio
Properties, Inc. in an extrajudicial foreclosure sale, which sale Teresita challenged in an action for annulment before the
Regional Trial Court of Tagaytay City. In said action, respondent was Teresita’s counsel of record. 10

Re the Las Piñas City Property

Respondent offered to complainant the option to purchase a house and lot located at Las Piñas City, which were
encumbered by a mortgage, and which respondent represented as owned and being sold by one Francisca Parales
(Francisca)11 to finance an urgently needed heart surgery of her daughter. 12

On respondent’s advice, complainant obtained a franchise to operate a Jollibee food outlet, with the agreement that out
of the profits that its operation would generate, she would get 50% while respondent and Immaculada would share the
remaining 50%. 13 Complainant thus sent respondent sums of money for the acquisition of both the Las Piñas property and
a franchise to operate a Jollibee outlet. 14

Re the Makati City Property

Respondent introduced complainant to a certain Mario C. Mangco (Mangco), alleged legal officer of the intestate estate
of one Faustino Ramos (Ramos), which estate was alleged to be the owner of a real property located at the consular area
adjacent to Forbes Park in Makati City. 15 Complainant having been interested in acquiring the property, respondent
prepared a Memorandum of Agreement (Makati MOA) which she, together with Mangco, forged on March 20, 2004. 16

Page 1 3 of 3 3
Under the Makati MOA, complainant agreed to, as she did, release ₱10,000,000 representing the cost of development
and titling of the property, and payment of back taxes; and an additional ₱2,000,000 for the execution of the Makati

Complainant was later to learn that the property was neither owned by the intestate estate of Ramos nor for sale.

Re the Quezon City Property

Respondent broached to complainant the idea of buying the land on which SM North Mall in Quezon City stands, he
representing that it belongs to his client, purportedly a retired US Navy employee who resides in Mindanao. 17
Complainant assented and transmitted large sums of money to respondent for the purpose of, among other things, filing
a petition for injunction against SM North Mall, paying back taxes, and titling of the land. 18

Re the Pasay City Property

Complainant sent respondent hefty amounts of money for the purchase of a vacant lot located along Roxas Boulevard in
Pasay City, alleged to belong to Florenda Estrada (Florenda) and Alma Mallari (Alma), but which was mortgaged to one
Atty. Go to secure a loan of ₱5,000,000.19 She also defrayed expenses, on the strength of respondent’s representations,
to secure title to the lot, settle the mortgage obligation, relocate squatters on the lot, and bribe a judge to "close the
transaction." 20

Complainant subsequently discovered that there was no such vacant lot along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City; instead, she
found out that the "vacant lot" referred to was titled in the names of Philippine Bank of Communications (PBC) and Banco
De Oro Universal Bank (BDO). 21

In light of the foregoing developments, complainant’s counsel, by letter dated December 19, 2005, 22 demanded from
respondent the return of the amount of US$3,000,000, claimed to be part of the total sum of money she had sent to him
for all the transactions that did not come about. No amount has been returned to complainant.

Hence, spawned the filing on January 27, 2006 23 of the present complaint for disbarment against respondent.

By his Comment, respondent admits receiving a total of US$544,828 from complainant 24 which amount he claims was
used not only for the purchase of the Las Piñas property and discharge of the mortgage thereon, but also for the setting
up of the earlier mentioned corporations, as well as for the downpayment on the Makati property and related expenses. 25

Respondent likewise admits having represented to complainant that the Las Piñas City property belonged to one
Francisca,26 certificate of title to which and the corresponding deed of sale signed by Francisca, by his claim, are in his
possession; but the title has not been transferred to Tanu, Inc., as agreed, in view of complainant’s failure to provide the
money needed therefor, he adding that he is also exercising his retaining lien over the Las Piñas documents. 27

Specifically with respect to the Makati property, respondent claims having paid ₱500,000 to Mangco representing initial
payment28 thereof.

Regarding the Tagaytay City property, respondent admits that the Tagaytay MOA exists, and avers that it is complainant
who wants to get out of a perfected sale in order to recover her partial payment amounting to approximately

With respect to the Quezon City property, respondent states that he is willing to surrender all the documents pertaining
thereto, but would do so only if complainant is first ordered to pay him his professional fees. 30

As for the Pasay City property, respondent denies complainant’s claims thereon as mere "preposterous allegations."

Following the filing by complainant of her Reply, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
for investigation, report and recommendation/decision by Resolution of January 22, 2007. 31

At the mandatory conference scheduled by the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline on September 13, 2007 before
Commissioner Lolita A. Quisumbing (the Commissioner), 32 respondent failed to appear despite notice. He instead sent a
representative who sought a resetting as, allegedly, respondent was in Ilocos attending to an important family matter. 33
The Commissioner, finding respondent’s absence inexcusable, given that he had ample time to file a motion for resetting
but he did not, considered respondent to have waived his right to participate in the proceedings. 34 Complainant
thereupon presented evidence ex-parte and submitted her position paper. 35

Page 1 4 of 3 3
In her Report and Recommendation 36 submitted to the IBP Board of Governors on December 14, 2007, the Commissioner
found respondent to have committed fraudulent acts which constitute violations of the lawyer’s oath and numerous
provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR), viz:

1. Respondent violated CANON 1 which states: "A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and
promote respect for the law and for legal processes."

Respondent committed estafa punishable under Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code. With unfaithfulness and abuse of
confidence, he misappropriated millions of pesos which was [sic] given to him on his misrepresentation that such were
needed for the acquisition of the aforementioned properties.

Respondent also committed an unlawful act (i.e., falsification as part of his fraudulent scheme) when he tampered with
the Articles of Incorporation of Tanu, Inc.. A perusal of the Articles of Incorporation given by respondent to complainant
shows that the incorporators are Tanu Reddi, Michael Lee, Prasuna Reddy, Ahalya Devi, and Robert Juntilla. When
complainant obtained a copy of the same in September 2005, she discovered that other names were inserted. The names
of respondent, Clarito D. Cardozo, Brian Pellazar, and Michael Angelo Lopez were intercalated. (Exhibit "W")

2. He likewise violated Rule 1.01 of the CPR which provides: "A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct."

He engaged in unlawful, dishonest and deceitful conduct when he offered properties for sale to complainant on the
misrepresentation that complainant was dealing with the true owners thereof. This is very clear from the documents he
asked complainant to sign; namely, the Memorandum of Agreement (Exhibit "D") for the Tagaytay property, Deed of
Conditional Sale (Exhibit "U") for the Pasay City property, and Memorandum of Agreement (Exhibit "M") for the Makati
City property. The certificates of title, tax declaration and other documents obtained by complainant from the various
government agencies reveal that all these properties aforementioned were either fictitious, not susceptible to sale,
simulated, or inexistent.

3. Respondent violated Canon 16 and Rule 16.01 of the CPR which state:

"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 collected or received for or from the client."

He failed to account for the sums of money he received from complainant and failed to return the same upon demand.
(Copy of demand letter dated 19 December 2005, Exhibit "T")

4. Respondent violated Rule 15.06 of the CPR which provides:

"A lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body."

He convinced complainant to pay bribe money to our judges since, he claims, that it is a common practice in the
Philippines.37 (Underscoring supplied)

The Commissioner thus recommended that respondent be disbarred; that his name be ordered stricken from th e roll of
attorneys; and that he be ordered to return the total amount of US$3,000,000 to complainant.

By Resolution of January 17, 2008, 38 the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation
of the Commissioner, with the modification that respondent was ordered to return only the admitted amount he received
from complainant (US$544,828), without prejudice to complainant’s recovery of the other amounts claimed in the
appropriate forum.

The Court sustains the IBP Board of Governors, except its findings/conclusion that respondent committed estafa and
falsification. This is not the proper forum to determine whether he committed these offenses.

The Court finds, however, that respondent’s dishonest and deceitful conduct with respect to the intended transactions,
real property acquisitions which turned out to be bogus, is sufficiently established.

It bears emphasis that respondent admits having received from complainant at least US$544,828. He claims, however,
that the amount was used for the purchase of the Las Piñas property and the discharge of the mortgage thereon, the
setting up of the corporations earlier mentioned, and the downpayment on the Makati property and related
representation expenses therefor. The Court finds that the claim does not lie.

Page 1 5 of 3 3
All that respondent presented to account for the money is a handwritten acknowledgment of a supposed partial payment
of ₱500,000 for the Makati property, purportedly executed by one Mangco. 39 By any standard, this document is a mere
piece of paper, Mangco not having been presented, if he exists at all, to confirm that he indeed issued the receipt. Since
respondent failed to credibly account, upon demand, for the money held by him in trust – an element of
misappropriation 40 – complainant’s claim that respondent employed deceit on her is established.

Respondent’s culpability is further highlighted by his utter lack of regard for the seriousness of the charges against him.
His defenses raised in his Comment consist mainly in bare denials. When the integrity of a member of the bar is
challenged, it is not enough that he denies the charges against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence
against him. 41 He must show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is
expected of him. 42 This, respondent miserably failed to do.

Respondent’s justification for his non-presentation of any documents to substantiate the so-called property acquisitions –
that he is exercising his retaining lien over them as, allegedly, his professional fees have not been paid – is incredible.

If those documents actually exist, and considering that his license to practice law is on the line, respondent could have
readily attached even photocopies thereof to his Comment in order to lend a semblance of credibility to his claim. His
"retaining lien" claim remains just that. Worse, it only amounts to an admission that he acted as counsel for complainant;
yet, he completely failed to show that in his dealings on her behalf, he put her interests before his.

As to the recommended penalty of disbarment, the Court finds the same to be in order.

Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:

A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
malpractice, or 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 admission to practice, or for
a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a
party to a case without authority to do so. x x x.

To reiterate, by his own admission, respondent received a total of US$544,828 from complainant, which he could not
properly account for. The orchestrated manner in which he carried out his fraudulent scheme, in connivance with other
persons, and by taking advantage of complainant’s naivete in the workings of the real estate business in the Philippines,
depict a man whose character falls way, way short of the exacting standards required of him as a member of the bar and
an officer of the court. Thus, respondent is no longer fit to remain as such.

The Court is mindful that disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction and, as such, the power to disbar
must always be exercised with great caution, and only for the most imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct
affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of th e bar.43 If the
practice of law, however, is to remain an honorable profession and attain its basic ideals, those enrolled in its ranks should
not only master its tenets and principles but should also, in their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them. 44 The
requirement of good moral character is, in fact, of much greater import, as far as the general public is concerned, than
the possession of legal learning. 45

The Court also sustains the order of the IBP for respondent to return only the amount of US$544,828. While complainant
submitted documents showing her bank remittances involving different sums of money, some of these remittances were
not made in the name of respondent. 46 And as complainant herself declares, the amount of US$3,000,000 is a mere
estimate of her total claim. 47 Thus, only the return of the admitted amount of US$544,828 is in order. As reflected above,
complainant is not precluded from litigating her claim for any balance due her in the proper forum.

WHEREFORE, respondent Diosdado C. Sebrio, Jr. is DISBARRED, and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of
Attorneys. He is ORDERED TO RETURN to complainant the amount of US$544,828. Let a copy of this Decision be entered
in his record as a member of the Bar; and let notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on
the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.



Chief Justice

Page 1 6 of 3 3

[Adm. Case No. 2 4 1 7 . February 6 , 2 0 0 2 ]

ALEX O NG, co mp la in a n t, v s. ATTY. ELP IDIO D. UNTO , resp o n d en t.

This is a disbarment[1] case filed by Alex Ong, a businessman from Dumaguete City, against Atty. Elpidio D. Unto, for malpractice
of law and conduct unbecoming of a lawyer.

The Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP -Pasig City) found Atty. Unto guilty of malpractice
and recommended the penalty of one-month suspension from the practice of law or, at the very least, a severe reprimand against

First, we look at the antecedent facts. The records show that the complainant received a demand-letter from the respondent, in
the latters capacity as legal counsel of one Nemesia Garganian. The full text of respondents letter[3] reads:

Dear Mr. Ong:

This is in connection with the claim of support of Miss Nemesia Garganian (my client) from you for your only child, Anson Garganian,
with her (Miss Nemesia Garganian) and other claims which Miss Garganian is demanding from you. It is now about two months that
you have abandoned your legal and moral obligations to support your only child with her (Miss Nemesia Garganian) and up to this
moment you have not given said financial support.

I am doing this as a preliminary basis to a possible amicable settlement, if you desire so, so that you will not be dragged u nnecessarily
to a court proceeding in connection with your legal and moral obligations to your son with Miss Garganian.

May I advise you that within three (3) days from your receipt of this letter, you should return to her house her television a nd betamax
which you got from her house during her absence and without her knowledge and consent. Your failure to comply with this demand,
this office will be constrained to file the proper action in court against you.

I hope within three (3) days from your receipt of this letter you may come to my Law Office at the above address or you may send
your lawyer and/or representative to discuss with me about the preliminary matters in connection with all the claims of Miss
Garganian against you.

I hope that you will not fail us, so that we can thresh out this matter smoothly, otherwise your intentional failure or refusal to discuss
these claims amicably with our office might be construed as your absolute refusal really.

Expecting you then.

Very truly yours,


Counsel for Miss Nemesia Garganian
Dumaguete City



A few days thereafter, the respondent wrote a letter addressed to Dr. Jose Bueno (Agaw), an emissary of the complainant. In this
letter, the respondent listed down the alleged additional financial demands of Ms. Garganian against the complainant and discussed
the courses of action that he would take against the complainant should the latter fail to comply with his obligation to supp ort Ms.
Garganian and her son. The relevant portion of the respondents second letter reads: [4]

These are the demands which my client would want to be complied (with):

1. P1,500.00 monthly For the sustenance of Mr. Ongs son. x x x (Note: That this amount of P1,500.00 should be up to the completion
of Mr. Ongs son in the elementary course and this is subject to adjustment when the son is already in the secondary course or up to
his college course).

2. P50,000.00 - This amount should be given to Miss Garganian as her starting capital for her planned business venture to give her a
source of her living since she cannot anymore be a teacher in any government position because of her status , having a child without
being lawfully wedded. x x x.

3. The TV and the Betamax should be returned and delivered to the house of Miss Garganian, without the presence of Mr. Alex Ong x
x x.

Page 1 7 of 3 3
4. The amount of P5,000.00 as my attorneys fees should be given or paid to me tomorrow before noon in my Law Office, through my
cousin, Dr. Jose Bueno.

Criminal, civil and administrative actions that I am contemplating to file against Mr. Alex Ong will be withheld pending the compliance by
Mr. Ong of these compromise agreements.

Gaw, if not of (sic) your representation I believe that one-week time as grace period for Mr. Ong is too long a time.

Thank you very much.

Very truly yours,


Counsel for Miss Nemesia Garganian

It was alleged that the real father of Ms. Garganians son was the complainants brother and that the complainant merely
assumed his brothers obligation to appease Ms. Garganian who was threatening to sue them. The complainant then did not comply
with the demands against him.

Consequently, the respondent filed a complaint[5] with the Office of the City Fiscal (now Prosecutors Office)
of Dumaguete City against the complainant, his wife, Bella Lim, and one Albina Ong, for alleged violation of the Retail Trade
Nationalization Law and the Anti-Dummy Law.

The next day, the respondent filed another criminal complaint against the complainant, Lim, Ong and Adela Peralta for their
alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law.

In addition, the respondent commenced administrative cases against the complainant before the Bureau of Domestic Trade, the
Commission on Immigration and Deportation, and the Office of the Solicitor General.[6] According to the complainant, these cases
were subsequently denied due course and dismissed by the aforesaid government agencies.

The foregoing prompted the complainant to file the present case for disbarment. Essentially, the complainant alleged that the
respondent manufactured the criminal and administrative cases against him to blackmail him or extort money from him. He claimed
that the respondent solicited for any information that could be used against him in the aforementioned cases by offering any informer
or would-be witness a certain percentage of whatever amounts they could get from him. The complainant branded the respondents
tactics as highly immoral, unprofessional and unethical, constitutingmalpractice of law and conduct gravely unbecoming of a l awyer.

In support of his accusations, the complainant submitted the following documents: (1) the afore-quoted letters of the
respondent addressed to the complainant and Dr. Bueno; (2)Nemesia Garganians affidavit where she denied any knowledge regarding
the demands listed in the letter addressed to Dr. Bueno; (3) an unsigned affidavit allegedly prepared by the respondent for the
complainant, wherein the latter was acknowledging that he sired Ms. Ganganians son illegitimate child; (4) the criminal complaints
filed against the complainant for alleged violation of the Retail Trade Nationalization Law and the Anti -Dummy Law; and (5) an
affidavit of Manuel Orbeta, a neighbor of the complainant who claimed that a representative of the respondent had asked him to si gn
an affidavit allegedly prepared by the respondent, with an offer to give any informer 20% and witness, 10%, of any amount he can get
from Mr. Alex Ong. To further bolster the disbarment case against the respondent, the complainant also included a Supplemental
Affidavit,[7] citing several cases previously filed against the respondent by other parties. [8]

The records show that the respondent was directed to submit his comment on the complaint lodged against him.[9] He did not
file any. Subsequently, the case was endorsed to the Office of the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation. In
turn, the OSG forwarded the records of the case to the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Negros Oriental, authorizing said o ffice to
conduct the investigation.

It appears that the respondent did not appear before the investigating officer, then Provincial Fiscal Jacinto Bautista, to answer
the charges against him. Instead, he moved for postponement. After denying the respondents third request for postponement, Fiscal
Bautista proceeded with the reception of the complainants evidence. The respondent was duly notified of the on-going investigation
but he did not show up. When it was the respondents turn to present evidence, notices of the preliminary investigation were sent to
his home address in Valenzuela, Negros Oriental, his law office in Dumaguete City and his last known address in Quezon City. The
return cards showed that he could not be located, although his wife received some of the notices sent to his home in Dumaguet e.

Meanwhile, the case was transferred from one investigating officer to another, with some of them inhibiting from the
investigation. Finally, the case was assigned to 2 nd Asst. Provincial Prosecutor Cristino Pinili. Atty. Pinili deemed the respondents
absence as waiver of his right to present his evidence. Finding merit in the complainants cause, the investigator recommended that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one month, or, at the very least, be severely reprimanded.

The records of the case were endorsed to the Office of the Solicitor General. [10] Thereafter, the OSG transmitted the records to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Manila, for proper disposition, conformably with adopted policies and procedures.[11] The IBPs
Commission on Bar Discipline adopted Atty. Pinilis report and recommendation in toto.[12]

We affirm with modification.

The complainant seeks the disbarment of the respondent. Thus, it is meet to revisit the importance of the legal profession and
the purpose of the disbarment as aptly discussed in Noriega vs. Sison.[13] We then held:

Page 1 8 of 3 3
In resolving this disbarment case, (w)e must initially emphasize the degree of integrity and respectability attached to the law
profession. There is no denying that the profession of an attorney is required after a long and laborious study. By years of patience,
zeal and ability, the attorney acquires a fixed means of support for himself and his family. This is not to say, however, that the
emphasis is on the pecuniary value of this profession but rather on the social prestige and intellectual standing necessarily arising
from and attached to the same by reason of the fact that every attorney is deemed an officer of the court.

The importance of the dual aspects of the legal profession has been wisely put by Chief Justice Marshall of the United States
Court when he said:

On one hand, the profession of an Atty. is of great importance to an individual and the prosperity of his life may depend on its
exercise. The right to exercise it ought not to be lightly or capriciously taken from him. On the other hand, it is extremely desirable
that the respectability of the Bar should be maintained and that its harmony with the bench should be preserved. For these objects,
some controlling power, some discretion ought to be exercised with great moderation and judgment, but it must be exercised.

The purpose of disbarment, therefore, is not meant as a punishment depriving him of a source of livelihood but is rather intended to
protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this function should be competent, honorable and reliable in
order that the courts and clients may rightly repose confidence in them.

The relevant rule to the case at bar is Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. [14] It mandates lawyers to represent
their clients with zeal but within the bounds of the law.Rule 19.01 further commands that a lawyer shall employ only fair and honest
means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall not present, participate or threaten to present unfounded criminal charges
to obtain an improper advantage in any case or proceeding.

Considering the facts of this case, we find that respondent has not exercised the good faith required of a lawyer in handling the
legal affairs of his client. It is evident from the records that he tried to coerce the complainant to comply with his letter-demand by
threatening to file various charges against the latter. When the complainant did not heed his warning, he made good his threat and
filed a string of criminal and administrative cases against the complainant. We find the respondents action to be malicious as the cases
he instituted against the complainant did not have any bearing or connection to the cause of his client, Ms. Garganian. Clearly, the
respondent has violated the proscription in Canon 19, Rule 19.01. His behavior is inexcusable.

The records show that the respondent offered monetary rewards to anyone who could provide him any information against the
complainant just so he would have a leverage in his actions against the latter. His tactic is unethical and runs counter to the rules that
a lawyer shall not, for corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding [15] and he shall not do any act designed primarily
to solicit legal business.[16] In the case of Choa vs. Chiongson,[17] we held:

While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to his genuine interest, and warm zeal in the
maintenance and defense of his right, as well as the exercise of his utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within t he bounds
of the law. He must give a candid and honest opinion on the merits and probable results of his clients case with the end view of
promoting respect for the law and legal processes, and counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to h im to be
just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law. He must always remind himself of the oath he took
upon admission to the Bar that he will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawfu l suit nor give aid nor
c onsent to the same;Needless to state, the lawyers fidelity to his client must not be pursued at the expense of truth and the
administration of justice, and it must be done within the bounds of reason and common sense. A lawyers responsibility to protect and
advance the interests of his client does not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives and malicious intentions aga inst the other

(emphases ours)

The ethics of the legal profession rightly enjoin lawyers to act with the highest standards of truthfulness, fair play and nobility in
the course of his practice of law. A lawyer may be disciplined or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his professional o r private
capacity.[18] Public confidence in law and lawyers may be eroded by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a member of the
Bar. Thus, every lawyer should act and comport himself in such a manner that would promote public confidence in the integrity of the
legal profession.[19]

Finally, we note that during the investigation of the case, despite being duly notified thereof as evidenced by the motions for
postponement he filed on several occasions, the respondent chose not to participate in the proceedings against him. His nonchalance
does not speak well of him as it reflects his utter lack of respect towards the public officers who were assigned to investigate the
case. He should be watchful of his conduct. [20] The respondent should keep in mind the solemn oath [21] he took before this Court when
he sought admission to the bar. The lawyers oath should not be reduced to mere recital of empty words for each word aims to
promote the high standard of professional integrity befitting a true officer of the court.

The recommended penalty for the unprofessional conduct of the respondent was one (1) month suspension or reprimand. We
believe that the same is too light vis--vis the misconduct of the respondent.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, respondent ATTY. ELPIDIO D. UNTO is hereby declared guilty of conduct unbecoming of a lawyer. He is
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of five (5) months and sternly warned that a repetition of the same or similar act will
be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Untos personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and a copy thereof be
furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).


Page 1 9 of 3 3
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, Pardo, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

Page 2 0 of 3 3

Republic of the Philippines



March 23, 1929


Duran & Lim for respondent.

Attorney-General Jaranilla and Provincial Fiscal Jose for the Government.


The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of the provincial board of Isabela, admits that previous to the
last general elections he made use of a card written in Spanish and Ilocano, which, in translation, reads as follows:

Notary Public
Province of Isabela

(NOTE. — As notary public, he can execute for you a deed of sale for the purchase of land as required by the cadastral
office; can renew lost documents of your animals; can make your application and final requisites for your homestead; and
can execute any kind of affidavit. As a lawyer, he can help you collect your loans although long overdue, as well as any
complaint for or against you. Come or write to him in his town, Echague, Isabela. He offers free consultation, and is willing
to help and serve the poor.)

The respondent further admits that he is the author of a letter addressed to a lieutenant of barrio in his home municipality written in
Ilocano, which letter, in translation, reads as follows:

ECHAGUE, ISABELA, September 18, 1928

MY DEAR LIEUTENANT: I would like to inform you of the approaching date for our induction into office as member of the
Provincial Board, that is on the 16th of next month. Before my induction into office I should be very glad to hear your
suggestions or recommendations for the good of the province in general and for your barrio in particular. You can come to
my house at any time here in Echague, to submit to me any kind of suggestion or recommendation as you may desire.

I also inform you that despite my membership in the Board I will have my residence here in Echague. I will attend the
session of the Board of Ilagan, but will come back home on the following day here in Echague to live and serve with you as
a lawyer and notary public. Despite my election as member of the Provincial Board, I will exercise my legal profession as a
lawyer and notary public. In case you cannot see me at home on any week day, I assure you that you can always find me
there on every Sunday. I also inform you that I will receive any work regarding preparations of documents of contract of
sales and affidavits to be sworn to before me as notary public even on Sundays.

I would like you all to be informed of this matter for the reason that some people are in the belief that my residence as
member of the Board will be in Ilagan and that I would then be disqualified to exercise my profession as lawyer and as
notary public. Such is not the case and I would make it clear that I am free to exercise my profession as formerly and that I
will have my residence here in Echague.

I would request you kind favor to transmit this information to your barrio people in any of your meetings or social
gatherings so that they may be informed of my desire to live and to serve with you in my capacity as lawyer and notary
public. If the people in your locality have not as yet contracted the services of other lawyers in connection with the
registration of their land titles, I would be willing to handle the work in court and would charge only three pesos for every

Yours respectfully,


Notary Public.

Page 2 1 of 3 3
The facts being conceded, it is next in order to write down the applicable legal provisions. Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure as
originally conceived related to disbarments of members of the bar. In 1919 at the instigation of the Philippine Bar As sociation, said
codal section was amended by Act No. 2828 by adding at the end thereof the following: "The practice of soliciting cases at la w for the
purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice."

The statute as amended conforms in principle to the Canons of Professionals Ethics adopted by the American Bar Association in 1908
and by the Philippine Bar Association in 1917. Canons 27 and 28 of the Code of Ethics provide:

27. ADVERTISING, DIRECT OR INDIRECT. — The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer,
and especially with his brother lawyers, is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and
fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced, but must be the outcome of character and conduct. The publication or circulation of
ordinary simple business cards, being a matter of personal taste or local custom, and sometimes of convenience, is not per
se improper. But solicitation of business by circulars or advertisements, or by personal communications or interview not
warranted by personal relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure business by indirection through
touters of any kind, whether allied real estate firms or trust companies advertising to secure the drawing of deeds or wills or
offering retainers in exchange for executorships or trusteeships to be influenced by the lawyer. Indirect advertisement for
business by furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments concerning the manner o f their conduct, the magnitude of the
interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation, defy the traditions and lower the
tone of our high calling, and are intolerable.

28. STIRRING UP LITIGATION, DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AGENTS. — It is unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer advice to
bring a lawsuit, except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his duty to do so. Stirring up strif e and
litigation is not only unprofessional, but it is indictable at common law. It is disreputable to hunt up defects in titles or other
causes of action and inform thereof in order to the employed to bring suit, or to breed litigation by seeking out those with
claims for personal injuries or those having any other grounds of action in order to secure them as clients, or to employ
agents or runners for like purposes, or to pay or reward directly or indirectly, those who bring or influence the bringing of
such cases to his office, or to remunerate policemen, court or prison officials, physicians, hospital attaches or others who
may succeed, under the guise of giving disinterested friendly advice, in influencing the criminal, the sick and the injured, the
ignorant or others, to seek his professional services. A duty to the public and to the profession devolves upon every member
of the bar having knowledge of such practices upon the part of any practitioner immediately to inform thereof to the end
that the offender may be disbarred.

Common barratry consisting of frequently stirring up suits and quarrels between individuals was a crime at the common law, and one
of the penalties for this offense when committed by an attorney was disbarment. Statutes intended to reach the same evil have been
provided in a number of jurisdictions usually at the instance of the bar itself, and have been upheld as constitutional. The reason
behind statutes of this type is not difficult to discover. The law is a profession and not a business. The lawyer may not seek or obtain
employment by himself or through others for to do so would be unprofessional. (State vs. Rossman [1909], 53 Wash., 1; 17 Ann. Cas.,
625; People vs. Mac Cabe [1893], 19 L. R. A., 231; 2 R. C. L., 1097.)

It becomes our duty to condemn in no uncertain terms the ugly practice of solicitation of cases by lawyers. It is destructive of the
honor of a great profession. It lowers the standards of that profession. It works against the confidence of the community in the
integrity of the members of the bar. It results in needless litigation and in incenting to strife otherwise peacefully inclined citizens.

The solicitation of employment by an attorney is a ground for disbarment or suspension. That should be distinctly understood.

Giving application of the law and the Canons of Ethics to the admitted facts, the respondent stands convicted of having solic ited cases
in defiance of the law and those canons. Accordingly, the only remaining duty of the court is to fix upon the action whi ch should here
be taken. The provincial fiscal of Isabela, with whom joined the representative of the Attorney -General in the oral presentation of the
case, suggests that the respondent be only reprimanded. We think that our action should go further than this if only to reflect our
attitude toward cases of this character of which unfortunately the respondent's is only one. The commission of offenses of th is nature
would amply justify permanent elimination from the bar. But as mitigating, circumstances working in favor of the respondent there
are, first, his intimation that he was unaware of the impropriety of his acts, second, his youth and inexperience at the bar, and, third,
his promise not to commit a similar mistake in the future. A modest period of suspension would seem to fit the case of the erring
attorney. But it should be distinctly understood that this result is reached in view of the considerations which have influen ced the
court to the relatively lenient in this particular instance and should, therefore, not be taken as indicating that future convictions of
practice of this kind will not be dealt with by disbarment.

In view of all the circumstances of this case, the judgment of the court is that the respondent Luis B. Tagorda be and is hereby
suspended from the practice as an attorney-at-law for the period of one month from April 1, 1929,

Street, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

Johnson, J., reserves his vote.

Separate Opinions

O STRAND, J., dissenting:

I dissent. Under the circumstances of the case a reprimand would have been sufficient punishment.

Page 2 2 of 3 3


[A.M. No. RTJ-0 1 -1 6 4 6 . Marc h 1 1 , 2 0 0 3 ]

O FFICE O F THE CO URT ADMINISTRATO R, co mp la in a n t, v s. JUDGE FRANCISCO C. JO VEN, resp o n d en t.


P UNO, J.:

The administrative case at bar arose from a judicial audit of the Regional Trial Court of Bislig, Branch 29, Surigao del Sur, presided
by respondent Judge Francisco C. Joven. The audit was conducted on April 10-11, 2000 by a team from the Office of the Court

The audit team reported the following findings:

(a) respondent failed to decide the following cases within the reglementary period: criminal cases nos. 1504-H and 2004-B, and
civil cases nos. 374-B and 715-H;

(b) respondent failed to resolve within the mandatory period the pending incidents in criminal cases nos. 1182 -T, 1297-T and 1473-
B, and in civil case no. 671-L;

(c) respondent failed to take appropriate action on the following eighteen (18) criminal cases from the time they were
filed: criminal cases nos. 1793-B, 2112-B, 2187-B, 2222-T, 2223-T, 2226-B, 2229-B, 2233-L, 2232-L, 2243-B, 2244-L, 2245-B, 2246-B,
2247-T, 2248-B, 2249-T, 2250-T and 2251-T;

(d) respondent failed to act upon or set the following fifty-three (53) cases for further hearing after the lapse of considerable length
of time: criminal cases nos. 946-B, 1004-B, 1008-B, 1215-B, 1241-B, 1453-B, 1575-L, 1581-B, 1672-B, 1858-H, 1865-L, 1926-B, 1965-H,
1990-L, 2043-B, 2090-B, 2094-B, 2179-H, 2182-B, 2198-B, 2235-T, 2236-T, 2237-T and 2241-B, and civil/other cases nos., 250-L, 446-B,
509-B, 600-B, 621-H, 629-B, 681-B, 736-B, 755-B, 769-B, 786-B, 788-B, 790-H, 798-B, 800-B, 804-B, SP-707-B, SCA-733-L, SP-712-B, SP-
722-B, SP-770-B, SP-780-B, SP-792-B, SP-794-B, SP-797-B, SP-799-B, SP-825-B, LRC-663-B and LRC-674-B;

(e) respondent failed to act in accordance with Administrative Circular No. 7 -A-92, dated June 21, 1993 (re: Guidelines in the
Archiving of Cases) in the following thirty-one (31) cases: criminal cases nos. 2006-H, 2018-L, 2019-L, 2020-T, 2022-H, 2029-H, 2031-L,
2040-H, 2046-H, 2048-B, 2050-B, 2053-H, 2086-T, 2089-L, 2097-L, 2104-T, 2110-L, 2113-L, 2117-B, 2118-L, 2125-B, 2128-B, 2129-L,
2132-T, 2144-B, 2145-L, 2150-L, 2155-L, 2172-H, 2173-T and 2184-B;

(f) respondent failed to submit to the Court Administrator a monthly report on the condition of the jail and the prisoners within
his jurisdiction, pursuant to Rule 114, Sec. 25, Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended by Administrative Circular No. 12 -94;

(g) respondent granted the accuseds motion to post reduced bail of P2,000.00 in criminal case no. 2216-B while the criminal
complaint was still under preliminary investigation by the municipal judge who recommended or fixed a bail of P60,000.00;in the same
case, respondent also ordered the discharge of one of the accused, Jose Pinados, prior to the latters posting of the cash bai l;

(h) respondent did not apply for a leave of absence for April 13 and 14, 2000;

(i) respondent issued orders dismissing with prejudice some criminal cases on the ground of non-service of subpoena to
complainants therein; and

(j) respondent failed to conduct the required monthly visits at the Surigao del Sur Detention and Correctional Center in Bislig,
Surigao del Sur, where a number of prisoners escaped from detention.

The Court, in its Resolution dated August 16, 2000, [1] directed respondent to explain why no administrative sanction should be
imposed on him. In addition, it referred the matter regarding the escape of prisoners from the Surigao Correctional Center to the
Director of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology for the filing of appropriate charges against the negligent jail personnel. [2]

In his letter, dated November 6, 2000,[3] respondent gave the following explanation:

(a) As to the first charge, respondent informed the Court that he had rendered a decision on criminal cases nos. 1504 -H and 2004-
B on August 8 and June 16, 2000, respectively. The decision on the former case was delayed due to the numerous extensions of time
requested by the parties to submit their Memorandum. Anent the civil cases, civil case no. 715-H was still pending as he was awaiting
the Memorandum of the parties. In civil case no. 374-B, he issued an order to the municipal assessor on May 4, 2000 to appraise the
improvement on the subject lot and was still awaiting the report from the municipal assessor.

Page 2 3 of 3 3
(b) He heard criminal cases nos. 1182-T, 1297-T and 1473-B jointly. The delay on his ruling on the pending incident (motion for
reconsideration of his Order) was due to the prosecutions failure to conduct a reinvestigation as per his Order and the failu re of accuseds
counsel to file an opposition.

With respect to civil case no. 671-L, the pending incident therein is the motion to dismiss filed by the defendants. He set it for
hearing on November 6, 2000 and December 8, 2000 after he gave plaintiffs counsel one last chance to file his Comment to the motion.

(c) He has already taken appropriate action on the following cases, viz:

He ordered the dismissal of criminal cases nos. 1793 and 2243 on August 31, 2000 and August 17, 2000, respectively, while cri minal
cases nos. 2112, 2233 and 2242 were archived. As there was no return of the arrest warrants in criminal cases nos. 2222, 2223, 2229
and 2244, he ordered that tracer-letters be sent to the PNP concerned. In criminal cases nos. 2187, 2226, 2246, 2247 and 2249, the
accused were arraigned and the cases were set for trial. The prosecution was ordered to conduct a reinvestigation in criminal cases nos.
2245 and 2250. In criminal cases nos. 2248 and 2251, accused were arraigned and pled guilty.

(d) After the audit, respondent also acted on the following cases:

He ordered the following cases archived: criminal cases nos. 1004, 1008, 1215, 1241, 1926, 2090 and civil cases nos. 712, 780 and
663. He rendered a decision in criminal case no. 1965 and civil case no. 825. He dismissed criminal cases nos. 2043 and 946 and civil
cases nos. 509, 629, 736, 707 and 794. He ordered the setting of the following cases for hearing: criminal cases nos. 2094, 2179, 2198,
2235, 2236, 2237, 2241, 1581, 2182, 1858 and civil cases nos. 600, 681, 770, 797, 446 and 800. He ordered civil cases nos. 798, 804,
733 and 722 to be set for pre-trial. He approved the compromise agreements in civil cases nos. 755, 768 and 769 and ordered the
suspension of hearing in criminal case no. 1865 and civil case no. 786. Finally, respondent reported that he has issued the necessary
orders in criminal cases nos. 1453, 1575, 1672 and civil cases nos. 250, 621, 788, 790, 792, 799 and 674.

(e) As to the other cases reported by the audit team, respondent issued the necessary orders to archive them.

(f) He regularly conducted the monthly inspection of the jail and prisoners within his jurisdiction as the jail was right in fron t of his
residence.[4] However, he admitted his failure to submit the reports regarding his monthly visits but claimed that this was due to
inadvertence, not negligence. He attached to his letter-explanation the aforesaid monthly inspection reports. [5]

(g) As to his grant of reduced bail of P2,000.00 in criminal case no. 2216-B, he explained that he found the amount reasonable as
the case involved only a violation of the Forestry Law. The bail was posted late in the afternoon of August 6, 1999, a Friday, but the
official receipt was issued only on August 9, 1999.

(h) He did not file a leave of absence for April 13 and 14, 2000 because he reported for work on said days, as evidenced by the
orders he dictated in open court on said dates which he attached to his letter-explanation.

Respondent offered no explanation regarding his order of provisional dismissal of criminal case no. 2141 -B (People vs. Julito
Villamater, accused in a frustrated murder case) for failure of complainant and his witnesses to appear despite the fact that the records
showed that complainants address was incorrectly stated in the subpoena, hence, complainants non -appearance during the scheduled

Thereafter, respondents clerk of court informed the Court that respondent has already resolved all the undecided cases reported
by the audit team, except civil case no. 374, the decision of which was deferred pending the submission of the appraisal repo rt by the
Bislig City Assessors Office.

In its Resolution, dated July 1, 2002, the Court resolved to refer the case to Justice Perlita J. Tria Tirona of the Court of Appeals for
investigation, report and recommendation.

On August 21, 2002, during the pendency of this case, respondent compulsorily retired from service. He manifested that he has
fully complied with all matters reported in the judicial audit and requested that the administrative case at bar be considered close and

On January 16, 2002, the Court resolved to release respondents retirement benefits, withholding therefrom the amount of sixty
thousand pesos (P60,000.00) pending the resolution of three (3) other administrative cases against him. [6]

In her Report,[7] investigating Justice Tria Tirona found that subsequent to the audit, respondent has exerted effort to put his
docket in order. However, Justice Tria Tirona found inexcusable respondents failure to decide within the reglementary period criminal
cases nos. 1504 and 2004 and civil cases nos. 374 and 715. Anent the two (2) criminal cases and civil case no. 715, respondent alleged
that these were not yet submitted for decision in view of the series of extensions for time requested by the prosecution and the defense
to file their respective Memorandum. With respect to civil case no. 374, respondent claimed that the case was not yet submitted for
decision as he was still awaiting the report of the municipal assessor regarding the value of improvement on the subject lot.

After a careful evaluation of the records, we agree with the finding of Justice Tria Tirona that the reasons cited by respondent for
failing to promptly act on and decide the aforecited cases are insufficient. Firstly, we note that respondent exerted effort to comply
with his official duties and act on the numerous cases pending in his sala only after his office was audited by a team from the Office of
the Court Administrator. Secondly, we reject respondents explanation that his failure to decide criminal cases nos. 1504 and 2004 and
civil case no. 715 was due to the failure of the parties counsels to submit the Memoranda he required in said

Page 2 4 of 3 3
cases. The Constitution [8] and the Code of Judicial Conduc t [9] mandate that judges should resolve their cases promptly within ninety (90)
days from the filing of the last pleading, brief or memorandum. The Court issued Administrative Circular No. 28 on July 3, 1989 to make
clear to all judges that a case is considered submitted for decision upon the admission of the parties evidence at the termin ation of the
trial. However, should the court allow or require the submission of a Memorandum, the case is considered submitted for decision upon
the filing of the last Memorandum or the expiration of the period to do so, whichever is earlier. The court may grant an extension of
time to file the Memorandum but it will not extend the ninety-day period within which to decide the case.

In the case at bar, respondent cannot justify his delay in deciding criminal cases nos. 1504 and 2004 and civil case no. 715 on the
ground that he was still awaiting the submission of the parties Memoranda which had been long overdue and did not seem to be
forthcoming. The filing of the Memoranda containing the summary of issues litigated and proved is not indispensable in the resolution
of the pending cases. It is respondents obligation as a trial judge to take down notes during the trial to assist him in the prompt
disposition of the cases without awaiting and relying on the Memoranda of the parties.

Neither can we accept respondents reason for the delay in deciding civil case no. 374 justified. After issuing an Order to the
municipal assessor of Bislig to appraise the improvements of the lot subject of the case, respondent simply left it at that. He failed to
monitor the assessors immediate compliance with his Order, hence, the delay in the proceedings of the case. We cannot countenance
this inaction considering its serious efforts to minimize, if not eradicate, the problems of congestion of court dockets and delay in the
disposition of cases that have been plaguing our court system. Needless to state, delay in the resolution of cases erodes the faith and
confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers its standards and brings it into disrepute. [10]

It bears to stress that the Court is cognizant of the predicament of judges in rendering decisions on cases, especially those th at
involve complex questions of facts or law. Almost always, their situation is compounded by heavy caseloads which may at times make
the allotted period to decide the cases insufficient. Hence, the Court allows a certain degree of latitude to judges and grants them a
reasonable extension of time to resolve cases upon proper application by the judge concerned and on meritorious groun ds.[11] In the
case at bar, respondent could have requested for a reasonable extension of time to decide the cases pending before his sala b ut he did
not. For failure to do so, respondent should be held accountable. Thus, for incurring delay in rendering the decision on the cases assigned
to him which constitutes a less serious charge under Sec tion 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended, respondent who was
compulsorily retired from service as of August 21, 2001 may be penalized with a fine of not less than P10,000.00 but not
exceeding P20,000.00.[12]

IN VIEW WHEREOF, respondent Judge FRANCISO C. JOVEN of the Regional Trial Court of Bislig, Branch 29, Surigao del Sur, is fined
ten thousand five hundred pesos (P10,500.00) to be taken from his retirement benefits.


Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.

Page 2 5 of 3 3
Republic of the Philippines


A.C. No. 7199 July 22, 2009

[Formerly CBD 04-1386]

FOODSPHERE, INC., Complainant,




Foodsphere, Inc. (complainant), a corporation engaged in the business of meat processing and manufacture and
distribution of canned goods and grocery products under the brand name "CDO," filed a Verified Complaint 1 for
disbarment before the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) against Atty.
Melanio L. Mauricio, Jr., popularly known as "Batas Mauricio" (respondent), a writer/columnist of tablo ids including
Balitang Patas BATAS, Bagong TIKTIK, TORO and HATAW!, and a host of a television program KAKAMPI MO ANG
BATAS telecast over UNTV and of a radio program Double B-BATAS NG BAYAN aired over DZBB, for (1) grossly
immoral conduct; (2) violation of lawyer’s oath and (3) disrespect to the courts and to investigating prosecutors.

The facts that spawned the filing of the complaint are as follows:

On June 22, 2004, a certain Alberto Cordero (Cordero) purportedly bought from a grocery in Valenzuela City canned
goods including a can of CDO Liver spread. On June 27, 2004, as Cordero and his relatives were eating bread with
the CDO Liver spread, they found the spread to be sour and soon discovered a colony of worms inside the can.

Cordero’s wife thus filed a complaint with the Bureau of Food and Drug Administration (BFAD). Laboratory
examination confirmed the presence of parasites in the Liver spread.

Pursuant to Joint DTI-DOH-DA Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 1993, the BFAD conducted a conciliation hearing
on July 27, 2004 during which the spouses Cordero demanded ₱150,000 as damages from complainant. Complainant
refused to heed the demand, however, as being in contravention of company policy and, in any event, "outrageous."

Complainant instead offered to return actual medical and incidental expenses incurred by the Corderos as long as
they were supported by receipts, but the offer was turned down. And the Corderos threatened to bring the matter to
the attention of the media.

Complainant was later required by the BFAD to file its Answer to the complaint. In the meantime or on August 6, 2004,
respondent sent complainant via fax a copy of the front page of the would -be August 10-16, 2004 issue of the tabloid
Balitang Patas BATAS, Vol. 1, No. 12 2 which complainant found to contain articles maligning, discrediting and imputing
vices and defects to it and its products. Respondent threatened to publish the articles unle ss complainant gave in to
the ₱150,000 demand of the Corderos. Complainant thereupon reiterated its counter -offer earlier conveyed to the
Corderos, but respondent turned it down.

Respondent later proposed to settle the matter for ₱50,000, ₱15,000 of which would go to the Corderos and ₱35,000
to his Batas Foundation. And respondent directed complainant to place paid advertisements in the tabloids and
television program.

The Corderos eventually forged a KASUNDUAN 3 seeking the withdrawal of their complaint before the BFAD. The
BFAD thus dismissed the complaint. 4 Respondent, who affixed his signature to the KASUNDUAN as a witness, later
wrote in one of his articles/columns in a tabloid that he prepared the document.

On August 11, 2004, respondent sent complainant an Advertising Contract 5 asking complainant to advertise in the
tabloid Balitang Patas BATAS for its next 24 weekly issues at ₱15,000 per issue or a total amount of ₱360,000, and
a Program Profile 6 of the television program KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS also asking complainant to place spot
advertisements with the following rate cards: (a) spot buy 15-second TVC at ₱4,000; (b) spot buy 30-second TVC at
₱7,700; and (c) season buy [13 episodes, 26 spots] of 30-second TVC for ₱130,000.

As a sign of goodwill, complainant offered to buy three full-page advertisements in the tabloid amounting to ₱45,000
at ₱15,000 per advertisement, and three spots of 30-second TVC in the television program at ₱7,700 each or a total
of ₱23,100. Acting on complainant’s offer, respondent relayed to it that he and his Executive Producer were
disappointed with the offer and threatened to proceed with the publication of the articles/columns. 7

Page 2 6 of 3 3
On August 28, 2004, respondent, in his radio program Double B- Batas ng Bayan at radio station DZBB, announced
the holding of a supposed contest sponsored by said prog ram, which announcement was transcribed as follows:

"OK, at meron akong pa-contest, total magpapasko na o ha, meron pa-contest si Batas Mauricio ang Batas ng Bayan.
Ito yung ating pa-contest, hulaan ninyo, tatawag kayo sa telepono, 433-7549 at 433-7553. Ang mga premyo
babanggitin po natin sa susunod pero ito muna ang contest, o, ‘aling liver spread ang may uod?’ Yan kita ninyo
yan, ayan malalaman ninyo yan. Pagka-nahulaan yan ah, at sasagot kayo sa akin, aling liver spread ang may uod
at anong companya ang gumagawa nyan? Itawag po ninyo sa 433-7549 st 433-7553. Open po an[g] contest na
ito sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig. Pipiliin natin ang mananalo, kung tama ang inyong sagot. Ang tanong, aling liver
spread sa Pilipinas an[g] may uod? 8 (Emphasis and italics in the original; underscoring supplied)

And respondent wrote in his columns in the tabloids articles which put complainant in bad light. Thus, in the August
31- September 6, 2004 issue of Balitang Patas BATAS, he wrote an article captioned "KADIRI ANG CDO LIVER
SPREAD!" In another article, he wrote "IBA PANG PRODUKTO NG CDO SILIPIN!" 9 which appeared in the same
publication in its September 7-13, 2004 issue. And still in the same publication, its September 14 -20, 2004 issue, he
wrote another article entitled "DAPAT BANG PIGILIN ANG CDO." 10

Respondent continued his tirade against complainant in his column LAGING HANDA published in another tabloid,
BAGONG TIKTIK, with the following articles: 11 (a) "Uod sa liver spread," Setyembre 6, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.276); 12 (b)
"Uod, itinanggi ng CDO," Setyembre 7, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.277); 13 (c) "Pagpapatigil sa CDO," Setyembre 8, 2004 (Taon
7, Blg.278);14 (d) "Uod sa liver spread kumpirmado," Setyembre 9, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.279); 15 (e) "Salaysay ng nakakain
ng uod," Setyembre 10, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.280); 16 (f) "Kaso VS. CDO itinuloy," Setyembre 11, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.281); 17
(g) "Kasong Kidnapping laban sa CDO guards," Setyembre 14, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.284); 18 (h) "Brutalidad ng CDO
guards," Setyembre 15, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.285); 19 (i) "CDO guards pinababanatan sa PNP," Setyembre 17, 2004
(Taon 7, Blg.287); 20 (j) "May uod na CDO liver spread sa Puregold binili," Setyembre 18, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.288); 21 (k)
"Desperado na ang CDO," Setyembre 20, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.290); 22 (l) "Atty. Rufus Rodriguez pumadrino sa CDO,"
Setyembre 21, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 291); 23 (m) "Kasunduan ng CDO at Pamilya Cordero," Setyembre 22, 2004 (Taon
7,Blg. 292);24 (n) "Bakit nagbayad ng P50 libo ang CDO," Setyembre 23, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 293). 25

In his September 8, 2004 column "Anggulo ng Batas" published in Hataw!, respondent wrote an article "Reaksyon pa
sa uod ng CDO Liver Spread." 26

And respondent, in several episodes in September 2004 of his television program Kakampi Mo ang Batas aired over
UNTV, repeatedly complained of what complainant claimed to be the "same baseless and malicious
allegations/issues" against it. 27

Complainant thus filed criminal complaints against respondent and several others for Libel and Threatening to Publish
Libel under Articles 353 and 356 of the Revised Penal Code before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City
and Valenzuela City. The complaints were pending at he time of the filing of the present administrative complaint. 28

In the criminal complaints pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, docketed as I.S. Nos.
V-04-2917-2933, respondent filed his Entry of Appearance with Highly Urgent Motion to Elevate T hese Cases to the
Department of Justice, 29 alleging:


2.N. The question here is this: What gives, Honorable (???) Prosecutors of the Office of the City Prosecu tor of
Valenzuela City?


2.R. Can an ordinary person like Villarez simply be tossed around, waiting for miracles to happen?

2.S. Why? How much miracle is needed to happen here before this Office would ever act on his complaint?


8. With a City Prosecutor acting the way he did in the case filed by Villarez, and with an investigating prosecutor
virtually kowtowing to the wishes of his boss, the Chief Prosecutor, can Respondents expect justice to be meted to

9. With utmost due respect, Respondents have reason to believe that justice would elude them in this Office of the
City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, not because of the injustice of their cause, but, more importantly, because of the
injustice of the system;

10. Couple all of these with reports that many a government office in Valenzuela City had been the willing recipient of
too many generosities in the past of the Complainant, and also with reports that a top official of the City had
campaigned for his much coveted position in the past distributing products of the Complainant, what would one expect
the Respondents to think?

Page 2 7 of 3 3
11. Of course, not to be lost sight of here is the attitude and behavior displayed even by mere staff and underlings of
this Office to people who dare complain against the Complainant in their respective turfs. Perhaps, top officials of this
Office should investigate and ask their associates and relatives incognito to file, even if on a pakunwari basis only,
complaints against the Complainant, and they would surely be given the same rough and insulting treatment that
Respondent Villarez got when he filed his kidnapping charge here; 30

And in a Motion to Dismiss [the case] for Lack of Jurisdiction 31 which respondent filed, as counsel for his therein co-
respondents-staffers of the newspaper Hataw!, before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, respondent


5. If the Complainant or its lawyer merely used even a little of whatever is inside their thick skulls, they would
have clearly deduced that this Office has no jurisdiction over this action. 32 (Emphasis supplied)


Meanwhile, on October 26, 2004, complainant filed a civil case against respondent and several others, docketed as
Civil Case No. 249-V-04,33 before the Regional Trial Court, Valenzuela City and raffled to Branch 75 thereof.

The pending cases against him and the issuance of a status quo order notwithstanding, res pondent continued to
publish articles against complainant 34 and to malign complainant through his television shows.

Acting on the present administrative complaint, the Investigating Commissioner of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) came up with the following findings in his October 5, 2005 Report and Recommendation: 35



In Civil Case No. 249-V-04 entitled "Foodsphere, Inc. vs. Atty. [Melanio] Mauricio, et al.", the Order dated 10 December
2004 (Annex O of the Complaint) was issued by Presiding Judge Dionisio C. Sison which in part reads:

"Anent the plaintiff’s prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order included in the instant plaintiff’s motion,
this Court, inasmuch as the defendants failed to appear in court or file an opposition thereto, is constrained to GRANT
the said plaintiff’s prater, as it is GRANTED, in order to maintain STATUS QUO, and that all the defendants, their
agents, representatives or any person acting for and in behalf are hereby restrained/enjoined from further publishing,
televising and/or broadcasting any matter subject of the Complaint in the instant case more specifically the imputation
of vices and/or defects on plaintiff and its products."

Complainant alleged that the above-quoted Order was served on respondent by the Branch Sheriff on 13 December
2004. Respondent has not denied the issuance of the Order dated 10 December 2004 or his receipt of a copy thereof
on 13 December 2004.

Despite his receipt of the Order dated 10 December 2004, and the clear directive therein addressed to him to desists
[sic] from "further publishing, televising and/or broadcasting any matter subject of the Complaint in the instant case
more specifically the imputation of vices and/or defects on plaintiff and its products", respondent in clear defiance of
this Order came out with articles on the prohibited subject matter in his column "Atty. Batas", 2004 in the December
16 and 17, 2004 issues of the tabloid "Balitang Bayan –Toro" (Annexes Q and Q-1 of the Complaint).

The above actuations of respondent are also in violation of Rule 13.03 of the Canon of Professional Responsibility
which reads: "A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse
public opinion for or against a party."



In I.S. No. V.04-2917-2933, then pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, respondent filed
his "Entry of Appearance with Highly Urgent Motion to Elevate These Cases To the Department of Justice". In said
pleading, respondent made the following statements:


The above language employed by respondent undoubtedly casts aspersions on the integrity of the Office of the City
Prosecutor and all the Prosecutors connected with said Office. Respondent clearly assailed the impartiality and
fairness of the said Office in handling cases filed before it and did not even design to submit any evidence to
substantiate said wild allegations. The use by respondent of the above -quoted language in his pleadings is manifestly

Page 2 8 of 3 3
violative of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides: "A lawyer [s]hall [o]bserve and
[m]aintain [t]he [re]spect [d]ue [t]o [t]he [c]ourts [a]nd [t]o [j]udicial [o]fficers [a]nd [s]hould [i]nsist [o]n [s]imilar [c]onduct
[b]y [o]thers."


The "Kasunduan" entered into by the Spouses Cordero and herein complainant (Annex C of the Complaint) was
admittedly prepared, witnessed and signed by herein respondent. …


In its Order dated 16 August 2004, the Bureau of Food and Drugs recognized that the said "Kasunduan" was not
contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order and policy, and this accordingly dismissed the complaint filed by
the Spouses Cordero against herein complainant.

However, even after the execution of the "Kasunduan" and the consequent dismissal of the complaint of his clients
against herein complainant, respondent inexplicably launched a media offensive intended to disparage and put to
ridicule herein complainant. On record are the numerous articles of respondent published in 3 tabloids commencing
from 31 August to 17 December 2004 (Annexes G to Q-1). As already above-stated, respondent continued to come
out with these articles against complainant in his tabloid columns despite a temporary restraining order issued against
him expressly prohibiting such actions. Respondent did not deny that he indeed wrote said articles and submitted
them for publication in the tabloids.

Respondent claims that he was prompted by his sense of public service, that is, to expose the defects of complainant’s
products to the consuming public. Complainant claims that there is a baser motive to the actions of respondent.
Complainant avers that respondent retaliated for complainant’s failure to give in to respondent’s "request" that
complainant advertise in the tabloids and television programs of respondent. Complainant’s explanation is more
credible. Nevertheless, whatever the true motive of respondent for his barrage of articles against complainant does
not detract from the fact that respondent consciously violated the spirit behind the "Kasunduan" which he himself
prepared and signed and submitted to the BFAD for approval. Respondent was less than forthright when he prepared
said "Kasunduan" and then turned around and proceeded to lambaste complainant for what was supposedly already
settled in said agreement. Complainant would have been better of with the BFAD case proceeding as it could have
defended itself against the charges of the Spouses Cordero. Complainant was helpless against the attacks of
respondent, a media personality. The actuations of respondent constituted, to say the least, deceitful conduct
contemplated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility .36 (Underscoring supplied)

The IBP Board of Governors, by Resolution No. XVIII-2006-114 dated March 20, 2006, adopted the findings and
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner to suspend respondent from the practice of law for two years.

The Court finds the findings/evaluation of the IBP well-taken.

The Court, once again, takes this occasion to emphasize the necessity for every lawyer to act and comport himself in
a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession, 37 which confidence may be eroded
by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a member of the bar.

By the above-recited acts, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates
lawyers to refrain from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. For, as the IBP found, he
engaged in deceitful conduct by, inter alia, taking advantage of the complaint against CDO to advance his interest –
to obtain funds for his Batas Foundation and seek sponsorships and advertisements for the tabloids and his television

He also violated Rule 13.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates:

A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for
or against a party.

For despite the pendency of the civil case against him and the issuance of a status quo order restraining/enjoining
further publishing, televising and broadcasting of any matter relative to the complaint of CDO, respondent continued
with his attacks against complainant and its products. At the same time, respondent violated Canon 1 also of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, which mandates lawyers to "uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and
promote respect for law and legal processes." For he defied said status quo order, despite his (respondent’s) oath as
a member of the legal profession to "obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities."

Further, respondent violated Canon 8 and Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandate, viz:

CANON 8 - A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and
shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel.

Page 2 9 of 3 3
Rule 8.01 – A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise
improper, by using intemperate language.

Apropos is the following reminder in Saberon v. Larong:38

To be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted members of the bar to use strong language in
pursuit of their duty to advance the interests of their clients.

However, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the
use of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for one to be emphat ic but
respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive. 1awphi1

On many occasions, the Court has reminded members of the Bar to abstain from all offensive personality and to
advance no fact prejudicial to the honor and reputation o f a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the
cause with which he is charged. In keeping with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyer’s language even in his
pleadings must be dignified.39 (Underscoring supplied)

By failing to live up to his oath and to comply with the exacting standards of the legal profession, respondent also
violated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which directs a lawyer to "at all times uphold the integrity
and the dignity of the legal profession." 40
1avvph! 1

The power of the media to form or influence public opinion cannot be underestimated. In Dalisay v. Mauricio, Jr., 41 the
therein complainant engaged therein-herein respondent’s services as "she was impressed by the pro-poor and pro-
justice advocacy of respondent, a media personality," 42 only to later find out that after he demanded and the therein
complainant paid an exorbitant fee, no action was taken nor any pleadings prepared by him. Respondent was
suspended for six months.

On reading the articles respondent published, not to mention listening to him over the radio and watching him on
television, it cannot be gainsaid that the same could, to a certain extent, have affected the sales of complainant.

Back to Dalisay, this Court, in denying therein-herein respondent’s motion for reconsideration, took note of the fact
that respondent was motivated by vindictiveness when he filed falsification charges against the therein complainant. 43

To the Court, suspension of respondent from the practice of law for three years is, in the premises, sufficient.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Melanio Mauricio is, for violation of the lawyer’s oath and breach of ethics of the legal profession
as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility, SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three years effective
upon his receipt of this Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to his personal record and copies furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts.



Associate Justice


Page 3 0 of 3 3

A.C. No. L-1117 March 20, 1944


ESTANISLAO R. BAYOT, respondent.

O ffice of the Solicitor General De la Costa and Solicitor Feria for complainant.
Francisco Claravall for respondent.


The respondent, who is an attorney-at-law, is charged with malpractice for having published an advertisement in the Sunday Tribune
of June 13, 1943, which reads as follows:


license promptly secured thru our assistance & the annoyance of delay or publicity avoided if desired, and marriage arranged to
wishes of parties. Consultation on any matter free for the poor. Everything confidential.

Legal assistance service

12 Escolta, Manila, Room, 105
Tel. 2-41-60.

Appearing in his own behalf, respondent at first denied having published the said advertisement; but subsequently, thru his a ttorney,
he admitted having caused its publication and prayed for "the indulgence and mercy" of the Court, promising "not to repeat such
professional misconduct in the future and to abide himself to the strict ethical rules of the law profession." In further mit igation he
alleged that the said advertisement was published only once in the Tribune and that he never had any case at law by reason thereof.

Upon that plea the case was submitted to the Court for decision.

It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respon dent of the ethics of his profession, it being a
brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that "the pract ice of
soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly
unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. The
lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or
offering them to the public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money -changers
of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worth and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . is the
establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the
outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.)

In In re Tagorda, 53 Phil., the respondent attorney was suspended from the practice of law for the period of one month for ad vertising
his services and soliciting work from the public by writing circular letters. That case, however, was more serious than this because
there the solicitations were repeatedly made and were more elaborate and insistent.

Considering his plea for leniency and his promise not to repeat the misconduct, the Court is of the opinion and so decided th at the
respondent should be, as he hereby is, reprimanded.

Yulo, C.J., Moran, Horrilleno, Paras and Bocobo, JJ., concur.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

Page 3 1 of 3 3

Adm. Case No. 2131 May 10, 1985

ADRIANO E. DACANAY, complainant


CURAMMENG, JR., respondents.

Adriano E. Dacanay for and his own behalf.

Madrid, Cacho, Angeles, Dominguez & Pecson Law Office for respondents.


Lawyer Adriano E. Dacanay, admitted to the bar in 1954, in his 1980 verified complaint, sought to enjoin Juan G. Collas, Jr.
and nine other lawyers from practising law under the name of Baker & McKenzie, a law firm organized in Illinois.

In a letter dated November 16, 1979 respondent Vicente A. Torres, using the letterhead of Baker & McKenzie, which
contains the names of the ten lawyers, asked Rosie Clurman for the release of 87 shares of Cathay Products International,
Inc. to H.E. Gabriel, a client.

Attorney Dacanay, in his reply dated December 7, 1979, denied any liability of Clurman to Gabriel. He requested that he
be informed whether the lawyer of Gabriel is Baker & McKenzie "and if not, what is your purpose in using the letterhead
of another law office." Not having received any reply, he filed the instant complaint.

We hold that Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm, cannot practice law in the Philippines (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Rules of
Court). As admitted by the respondents in their memorandum, Baker & McKenzie is a professional partnership organized
in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois with members and associates in 30 cities around the world. Respondents, aside from being
members of the Philippine bar, practising under the firm name of Guerrero & Torres, are members or associates of Baker
& Mckenzie.

As pointed out by the Solicitor General, respondents' use of the firm name Baker & McKenzie constitutes a representation
that being associated with the firm they could "render legal services of the highest quality to multinational business
enterprises and others engaged in foreign trade and investment" (p. 3, respondents' memo). This is unethical because
Baker & McKenzie is not authorized to practise law here. (See Ruben E. Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1983 Ed., p. 115.)

Page 3 2 of 3 3
WHEREFORE, the respondents are enjoined from practising law under the firm name Baker & McKenzie.


Teehankee, Acting CJ., Makasiar, Abad Santos, Melencio-Herrera, Escolin, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente, Cuevas and
Alampay, JJ., concur.

Plana, J., took no part.

Fernando, C.J., and Concepcion, Jr., J., are on leave.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

Page 3 3 of 3 3