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Hernandez v. Padilla, A.C. No. 9387, (2012) Dismissal.

The IBP found respondent guilty of violating Canons


5, 17, and 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and
This is a disbarment case filed by Emilia Hernandez recommended suspension for 3-6 months.
(complainant) against her lawyer, Atty. Venancio B. Padilla
(respondent) of Padilla Padilla Bautista Law Offices, for his Issue:
alleged negligence in the handling of her case.
Whether or not respondent is guilty of violating Canons 5, 17 and
Facts: 18 of the Code.

Complainant was a respondent of an ejectment case with the Ruling:


RTC. RTC ordered the Deed of Sale of complainants cancelled and
to pay the complainant of the said case, Duigan, attorney’s fees The Courts adopt the factual findings of the board of governors
and damages. Complainants chose Padilla to represent them for of the IBP. This Court, however, disagrees with its Decision to
their Appeal with the CA. He filed a Memorandum on Appeal reduce the penalty to one-month suspension. We thus affirm the
instead of an Appellants’ Brief, which was requested by the CA. six-month suspension the Board originally imposed. A perusal of
Duigan filed a Motion to Dismiss the Appeal, which was granted the Memorandum of Appeal filed in the appellate court revealed
by the CA. Complainant claims that because respondent ignored that he had signed as counsel for the defendant-appellants
the Resolution, he acted with “deceit, unfaithfulness amounting therein, including complainant and her husband. Acceptance of
to malpractice of law.” Complainant and her husband failed to money from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship
file an appeal, because respondent never informed them of the and gives rise to the duty of fidelity to the client’s cause. Once a
adverse decision. Complainant further claims that she asked lawyer agrees to handle a case, it is that lawyer’s duty to serve
respondent “several times” about the status of the appeal, but the client with competence and diligence (Canon 18).
“despite inquiries he deliberately withheld response,” to the Respondent’s claim that the reason for his failure to file the
damage and prejudice of the spouses. Respondent claimed it was proper pleading was that he “did not have enough time to
the husband and not the complainant who transacted with him acquaint himself thoroughly with the factual milieu of the case”
and that he filed a Memorandum on Appeal because he honestly does not excuse his negligence to file a proper pleading and
believed it was the pleading required. He further advised the comment on the Motion to Dismiss as well as failure to update
husband to settle the case and after not hearing from him again, his clients regarding status of the case. Rule 18.02 of the Code
assumed that the husband heeded his advice. When he received provides that a lawyer shall not handle any legal matter without
the CA’s Order to comment on the Motion to Dismiss, he adequate preparation, Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a
instructed his staff to contact the husband but to no avail and legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
was thus surprised when he was informed by the husband of the therewith shall render him liable. and Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall
keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall clients to make an inquiry about the developments in their case.
respond within a reasonable time to the client’s request for Close coordination between counsel and client is necessary for
information.. Regardless of the particular pleading his client may them to adequately prepare for the case, as well as to effectively
monitor the progress of the case. Also, his excuse that he did not
have believed to be necessary, it was respondent’s duty to know
appear in court because the spouses failed to appear in court is
the proper pleading to be filed in appeals from RTC decisions. not tenable. His attendance at the hearing should not be made to
CANON 5 - A lawyer shall keep abreast of legal depend on the whether the spouses Aranda will come or not.
developments. Hence, he is SUSPENDED from the practice of
The IBP Board of Governors recommended a 6 month
law for SIX (6) MONTHS. suspension. This was adopted by the court.
Spouses Aranda vs Atty. Emmanuel Elayda

ULEP v. THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC.

In 2006, Atty. Emmanuel Elayda was hired by Spouses Virgilio Bar Matter No. 550, June 17, 1993
and Angelina Aranda to be their counsel in a civil case. However,
to their surprise in July 2006, an adverse judgment was issued FACTS: In 1984, The Legal Clinic was formed by Atty. Rogelio
against them, thus they lost possession of their car. Apparently, Nogales. Its aim, according to Nogales was to move toward
their counsel never appeared in court for them. Atty. Elayda
specialization and to cater to clients who cannot afford the
failed to inform the spouses of the date of hearing as well as the
order of judgment. No motion for reconsideration or appeal was services of big law firms. Now, Atty. Mauricio Ulep filed a
interposed by the lawyer as well. complaint against The Legal Clinic because of the latter’s
advertisements which contain the following:
In his defense, Atty. Elayda said that it was the spouses who
never went to court; that the spouses neglected to check on their SECRET MARRIAGE? P560.00 for a valid marriage. Info on
case in court; that one time when their case was scheduled, he
DIVORCE. ABSENCE. ANNULMENT. VISA.
even notified the court stenographer to notify him if the spouses
are in court so that he could be there for them as he was in
THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC. Please call: 521-0767; 521-7232; 522-
another court branch for another case.
2041 8:30am – 6:00pm 7 th Flr. Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Manila
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Elayda should be disciplined.
HELD: Yes. It was established that Atty. Elayda was remiss and GUAM DIVORCE DON PARKINSON An attorney in Guam is giving
negligent in handling the Aranda case. Although it is true that the FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce through The Legal Clinic
client and their counsel must equally share the burden of beginning Monday to Friday during office hours. Guam divorce.
communication, it is the primary duty of the counsel to inform Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Problems, Visa Ext.
the client of the status of their case in court and the orders which Quota/Non-quota Res. & Special Retiree’s Visa. Declaration of
have been issued by the court. He cannot simply wait for his
Absence. Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees. Adoption. Investment services from simple documentation to complex litigation and
in the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call corporate undertakings. Most of these services are undoubtedly
Marivic. beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather, are exclusive
functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of law. Under
THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC. 7 th Flr. Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Manila Philippine jurisdiction however, the services being offered by
nr. US Embassy Tel. 521-7232, 521-7251, 522-2041, 521-0767 Legal Clinic which constitute practice of law cannot be
It is also alleged that The Legal Clinic published an article performed by paralegals. Only a person duly admitted as a
entitled “Rx for Legal Problems” in Star Week of Philippine Star member of the bar and who is in good and regular standing, is
wherein Nogales stated that they The Legal Clinic is composed of entitled to practice law.
specialists that can take care of a client’s problem no matter how Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements,
complicated it is even if it is as complicated as the Sharon the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in
Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion situation. He said that he and his staff making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair,
of lawyers, who, like doctors, are “specialists” in various fields, dignified and objective information or statement of facts. The
can take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in taxation standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer’s
and criminal law, medicolegal problems, labor, litigation and advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without violating
family law. These specialists are backed up by a battery of the ethics of his profession, advertise his talents or skills as in a
paralegals, counselors and attorneys. manner similar to a merchant advertising his goods. Further, the
As for its advertisement, Nogales said it should be allowed in advertisements of Legal Clinic seem to promote divorce, secret
view of the jurisprudence in the US which now allows it (John marriage, bigamous marriage, and other circumventions of law
Bates vs The State Bar of Arizona). And that besides, the which their experts can facilitate. Such is highly reprehensible.
advertisement is merely making known to the public the services The Supreme Court also noted which forms of advertisement are
that The Legal Clinic offers. allowed. The best advertising possible for a lawyer is a well-
ISSUE: Whether or not The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust,
of law; whether such is allowed; whether or not its which must be earned as the outcome of character and conduct.
advertisement may be allowed. Good and efficient service to a client as well as to the community
has a way of publicizing itself and catching public attention. That
HELD: Yes, The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law publicity is a normal by-product of effective service which is
however, such practice is not allowed. The Legal Clinic is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no artificial
composed mainly of paralegals. The services it offered include stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He easily sees
various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal the difference between a normal by-product of able service and
the unwholesome result of propaganda. The Supreme Court also enough cause for their disbarment, despite the offense being
enumerated the following as allowed forms of advertisement: 1. supposedly committed when they were not lawyers.
Advertisement in a reputable law list 2. Use of ordinary simple
professional card 3. Listing in a phone directory but without HELD: Yes. Membership in the Bar is a privilege, and as a
designation as to his specialization privilege bestowed by law through the Supreme Court,
membership in the Bar can be withdrawn where circumstances
GARRIDO vs. GARRIDO 611 SCRA 508 (2010) show the lawyer’s lack of the essential qualifications required of
lawyers, be they academic or moral. In the present case, the
FACTS: The petitioner, the respondent’s legal wife, filed a Court had resolved to withdraw this privilege from Atty. Angel E.
complaint-affidavit and a supplemental affidavit for disbarment Garrido and Atty. Rowena P. Valencia for the reason of their
against the respondents Atty. Angel E. Garrido and Atty. Romana blatant violation of Canon 1,Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
P.Valencia before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Responsibility, which commands that a lawyer shall not engage
Committee on Discipline, charging them with gross immorality, in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
in violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01, of the Code of Professional Furthermore, the contention of respondent that they were not
Responsibility. The complaint arose after the petitioner caught yet lawyers when they got married shall not afford them
wind through her daughter that her husband was having an exemption from sanctions; good moral character was already
affair with a woman other than his wife and already had a child required as a condition precedent to admission to the Bar. As a
with her; and the same information was confirmed when one of lawyer, a person whom the community looked up to, Atty.
her daughters saw that her husband walking in a Robinsons mall Garrido and Valencia were shouldered with the expectation that
with the other respondent, Atty. Valencia, with their child in tow. they would set a good example in promoting obedience to the
After a much further investigation into the matter, the time and Constitution and the laws. When they violated the law and
effort given yielded results telling her that Atty. Valencia and her distorted it to cater to their own personal needs and selfish
legal husband had been married in Hong Kong. Moreover, on motives, not only did their actions discredit the legal profession.
June 1993, her husband left their conjugal home and joined Atty. Such actions by themselves, without even including the fact of
Ramona Paguida Valencia at their residence, and has since failed Garrido’s abandonment of paternal responsibility, to the
to render much needed financial support. In their defense, they detriment of his children by the petitioner; or the fact that
postulated that they were not lawyers as of yet when they Valencia married Garrido despite knowing of his other marriages
committed the supposed immorality, so as such, they were not to two other women including the petitioner, are clear
guilty of a violation of Canon1, Rule 1.01. indications of a lack of moral values not consistent with the
SSUE: Whether or not Atty. Garrido’s and Valencia’s actions proper conduct of practicing lawyers within the country. As such,
constitute a violation of Canon 1, Rule1.01 and thus a good their disbarment is affirmed.
REYNALDO RAMIREZ vs. ATTY. MERCEDES BUHAYANG- appeal to this court since the Decision of the Court of Appeals
MARGALLO had been promulgated and the reglementary period for filing an
A.C. No. 10537 Appeal had already lapsed. Ramirez went to the Court of Appeals.
February 3, 2015
There, he discovered that the Appellant’s Brief was filed on April
FACTS: Complainant Reynaldo Ramirez (Ramirez) engaged Atty. 13, 2009 with a Motion for Reconsideration and Apologies for
Margallo’s services as legal counsel in a civil case for Quieting of filing beyond the reglementary period.
Title entitled “Spouses Roque v. Ramirez.” The case was initiated Petitioner’s Contention: Ramirez alleged that Atty. Margallo had
before the Regional Trial Court of Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 68. violated Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the
According to Ramirez, Atty. Margallo contacted him as per a Code of Professional Responsibility.
referral from a friend of Ramirez’s sister. He alleged that Atty.
Margallo had offered her legal services on the condition that she Respondent’s Contention: By way of defense, Atty. Margallo
be given 30% of the land subject of the controversy instead of argued that she had agreed to take on the case for free, save for
attorney’s fees. It was also agreed upon that Ramirez would pay travel expense of P1,000.00 per hearing. She also claimed that
Atty. Margallo P1,000.00 per court appearance. On October 19, she had candidly informed Ramirez and his mother that they
2006, the Regional Trial Court promulgated a Decision adverse only had a 50% chance of winning the case. She denied ever
to Ramirez. Atty. Margallo advised him to appeal the judgment. having entered into an agreement regarding the contingent fee
She committed to file the Appeal before the Court of Appeals. The worth 30% of the value of the land subject of the controversy.
Appeal was perfected and the records were sent to the Court of Atty. Margallo asserted that she would not have taken on the
Appeals sometime in 2008.14 On December 5, 2008, the Court of Appeal except that the mother of Ramirez had begged her to do
Appeals directed Ramirez to file his Appellant’s Brief. Ramirez so. She claimed that when she instructed Ramirez to see her for
notified Atty. Margallo, who replied that she would have one document signing on January 8, 2009, he ignored her. When he
prepared. On January 8, 2009, Ramirez contacted Atty. Margallo finally showed up on March 2009, he merely told her that he had
to follow up on the Appellant’s Brief. Atty. Margallo informed been busy. Her failure to immediately inform Ramirez of the
him that he needed to meet her to sign the documents necessary unfavorable Decision of the Court of Appeals was due to losing
for the brief. On several occasions, Ramirez followed up on the her client’s number because her 8-year-old daughter played with
status of the brief, but he was told that there was still no word her phone and accidentally erased all her contacts.
from the Court of Appeals. On August 26, 2009, Atty. Margallo
informed Ramirez that his Appeal had been denied. She told him IBP Findings and Recommendation: The Board of Governors of
that the Court of Appeals’ denial was due to Ramirez’s failure to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines adopted and approved the
establish his filiation with his alleged father, which was the basis recommendation of the Commission on Bar Discipline. The
of his claim. She also informed him that they could no longer Board of Governors resolved to recommend a penalty of
reprimand to Atty. Margallo with a stern warning that repetition DE LEON v. CASTELO
of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely. A.C. No. 8620,
January 12, 2011
The Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
affirmed with modification its earlier Resolution. It found that FACTS: On January 2, 2006, the Government brought suit for the
respondent Atty. Margallo had violated Canon 17 and Canon purpose of correcting the transfer certificates of title (TCTs)
18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional covering two parcels of land located in Malabon City then
Responsibility. Consequently, the Board of Governors registered in the names of defendants Spouses Lim Hio and
recommended that Atty. Margallo be suspended from the Dolores Chu due to their encroaching on a public callejon and on
practice of law for two (2) years. a portion of the Malabon-Navotas River shoreline. De Leon,
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Margallo should be held having joined the civil case as a voluntary intervenor two years
administratively liable? later, now accuses the respondent, the counsel of record of the
defendants, with the serious administrative offenses of
RULING: Yes, Atty. Mercedes Buhayang-Margallo’s (Atty. dishonesty and falsification warranting his disbarment or
Margallo) inaction resulted in a lost appeal, terminating the case suspension as an attorney. The respondent’s error was allegedly
of her client not on the merits but due to her negligence. She committed by his filing for defendants Spouses Lim Hio and
made it appear that the case was dismissed on the merits Dolores Chu of various pleadings that is, answer with
when, in truth, she failed to file the Appellant’s Brief on time. counterclaim and cross-claim in relation to the main complaint;
She did not discharge her duties of candor to her client. Canon 17 and answer to the complaint in intervention with counterclaim
and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional and cross-claim despite said spouses being already deceased at
Responsibility clearly provide: CANON 17 - A LAWYER OWES the time of filing.
FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE
MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN Defendant’s Defense: In his defense, he averred that he was
HIM. CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH engaged to represent the Lim family by William and Leonardo
COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE. Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall Lim, the children of Spouses Hio and Dolores Chu. That by virtue
not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his of a deed of absolute sale executed in their favor by their parents,
negligence in connection there with shall render him liable. William and Leonardo had assumed that the TCTs were already
Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the transferred to their names. He prepared the initial pleading
status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time based on his honest belief that Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu
to client’s request for information. were then still living. Had he known that they were already
deceased; he would have most welcomed the information and
would have moved to substitute Leonardo and William Lim as interested in the litigation. He also had an actual awareness of
defendants for that reason. such other persons, as his own complaint in intervention, bear
out in its specific allegations against Leonardo Lim and William
ISSUE: WON respondent violated the Code of Professional Lim, and their respective spouses. Thus, he could not validly
Responsibility or Lawyer’s Oath. insist that the respondent committed any dishonesty or
HELD: No. The Court found that the respondent, as attorney, falsification in relation to him or to any other party.
did not commit any falsehood or falsification in his Peter Bejarsco v PP
pleadings. The records indicated that the respondent did not GR No 159781
misrepresent that Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu were still
living. On the contrary, the respondent directly stated in the This case concerns the dire consequences of a litigants
answer to the complaint in intervention with counterclaim and failure to periodically follow up with his counsel on the
cross-claim, and in the clarification and submission, supra, that developments of his appeal.
the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu were already deceased.
The petitioner was convicted on February 16, 2001,
Even if any of the respondent’s pleadings might have created any for grave threats and grave oral defamation in the Municipal Trial
impression that the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu were still Court (MTC) in Sibonga, Cebu. On July 31, 2001, the Regional
living, the Court still cannot hold the respondent guilty of any Trial Court (RTC), Branch 26, in Argao, Cebu affirmed the
dishonesty or falsification. For one, the respondent was acting in convictions. In due course, the petitioner, then represented by
the interest of the actual owners of the properties when he filed the Public Attorneys Office (PAO), sought the reconsideration of
the RTC decision, claiming that he had not filed his appeal
the answer with counterclaim and cross-claim on April 17, 2006.
memorandum because of the MTCs failure to give him free
As such, his pleadings were privileged and would not occasion copies of the transcripts of stenographic notes. He argued that
any action against him as an attorney. Secondly, having made the RTCs decision should be set aside and the criminal cases
clear at the start that the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu were against him should be dismissed due to the prematurity and the
no longer the actual owners of the affected properties due to the serious errors of facts and law. However, the RTC denied the
transfer of ownership even prior to the institution of the action, petitioners motion for reconsideration on September 24, 2001.
and that the actual owners needed to be substituted in lieu of
On October 12, 2001, the petitioner, this time represented by
said spouses, whether the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu
Atty. Luzmindo B. Besario (Atty. Besario), a private practitioner,
were still living or already deceased as of the filing of the filed in the Court of Appeals (CA) a motion for extension of time
pleadings became immaterial. And, lastly, De Leon could not to file his petition for review (C.A.-G.R. CR No. UDK-181). The CA
disclaim knowledge that the Spouses Lim Hio and Dolores Chu granted his motion. Instead of filing his petition for review
were no longer living. His joining in the action as a voluntary within the period granted, however, Atty. Besario sought another
intervenor charged him with notice of all the other persons extension, but still failed in the end to file the petition for review.
Thus, on March 13, 2002, the CA dismissed his appeal. After the The general rule is that a client is bound by the counsels
dismissal became final and executory, entry of judgment was acts, including even mistakes in the realm of procedural
made on April 4, 2002. technique.[2] The rationale for the rule is that a counsel, once
retained, holds the implied authority to do all acts necessary
Thereafter, on March 31, 2003, the MTC issued a warrant or, at least, incidental to the prosecution and management of
of arrest against the petitioner, who surrendered himself on May the suit in behalf of his client, such that any act or omission
22, 2003. by counsel within the scope of the authority is regarded, in
the eyes of the law, as the act or omission of the client
On July 16, 2003, the petitioner filed in the CA his petition for himself.[3] A recognized exception to the rule is when the
review through another attorney, alleging that Atty. Besario had reckless or gross negligence of the counsel deprives the client of
recklessly abandoned him and had disappeared without leaving due process of law. For the exception to apply, however,
a trace. the gross negligence should not be accompanied by the clients
own negligence or malice, considering that the client has the
In its resolution dated August 14, 2003, the CA denied duty to be vigilant in respect of his interests by keeping himself
admission to the petition for review and ordered it expunged up-to-date on the status of the case. Failing in this duty, the client
from the records; and reiterated its March 13, 2002resolution of should suffer whatever adverse judgment is rendered against
dismissal.[1] him.

Aggrieved, the petitioner is now before the Court to plead Truly, a litigant bears the responsibility to monitor the status of
his cause. He submits that Atty. Besarios reckless abandonment his case, for no prudent party leaves the fate of his case entirely
of his case effectively deprived him of his day in court and of his in the hands of his lawyer. It is the clients duty to be in contact
right to due process; and that said former counsels actuation with his lawyer from time to time in order to be informed of the
constituted reckless and gross negligence that should not be progress and developments of his case;[4] hence, to merely rely
binding against him. on the bare reassurances of his lawyer that everything is being
taken care of is not enough.
The petition is denied due course. Here, the petitioner took nearly 16 months from the
That Atty. Besario was negligent in handling the petitioners case issuance of the entry of judgment by the CA, and almost 22
was clear. Indeed, his abject failure to file the petition for review months from when the RTC affirmed the convictions before he
in the CA despite his two motions for extension for that purpose actually filed his petition for review in the CA. He ought to have
warranted no other conclusion but that he was negligent. been sooner alerted about his dire situation by the fact that an
unreasonably long time had lapsed since the RTC had handed
Nonetheless, we find no justification to reverse the CAs down its dismissal of his appeal without Atty. Besario having
disposition of the appeal. The petitioner was bound by Atty. updated him on the developments, including showing to him a
Besarios negligence. copy of the expected petition for review. Also, he could have
himself verified at the CA whether or not the petition for review
had been filed, especially upon realizing that Atty. Besario had
started making himself scarce to him. In short, the petitioners
failure to know or to find out the real status of his appeal The Facts:
rendered him undeserving of any sympathy from the Court vis--
vis the negligence of his former counsel. The case stemmed from a complaint for disbarment[2] filed by
Rodrigo A. Molina (complainant) against Atty. Magat before the
The right to appeal is not a natural right or a part of due process, Court on May 5, 1978. The complaint alleged, among others, that
but is merely a statutory privilege that may be exercised only in complainant filed cases of Assault Upon an Agent of a Person in
the manner prescribed by the law.[5] The right is unavoidably Authority and Breach of the Peace and Resisting Arrest against
forfeited by the litigant who does not comply with the manner one Pascual de Leon (de Leon) before the Court of First
thus prescribed. So it is with the petitioner. Instance (CFI) of Manila; that the counsel of record for accused
de Leon in both cases was Atty. Magat; that a case for slight
WHEREFORE, the Court affirms the resolution promulgated physical injuries was filed against him (Molina)by de Leon as a
on August 14, 2003 in C.A. G.R. CR No. UDK-181 for failure of the counter-charge and Atty. Magat was also the private prosecutor;
petitioner to show a reversible error committed by the Court of that Atty. Magat subsequently filed a motion to quash the
Appeals. information on Assault upon an Agent of a Person in Authority
on the sole ground of double jeopardy claiming that a similar
SO ORDERED. case for slight physical injuries was filed in court by a certain
Pat. Molina (Molina); that based on the record, no case of
slight physical injuries was filed by Molina against de Leon;
that Atty. Magat was very much aware of such fact as he was the
THIRD DIVISION counsel and private prosecutor on record of de Leon from the
very start of the case way back on May 24, 1974; that Atty.
Magat's act of filing the Motion to Quash was a malicious act
[ A.C. No. 1900, June 13, 2012 ]
done in bad faith to mislead the court, thus, a betrayal of the
confidence of the court of which he is an officer; and that Atty.
RODRIGO A. MOLINA, COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. CEFERINO R. Magat likewise committed willful disobedience of the court order
MAGAT, RESPONDENT. when he appeared as counsel for de Leon on two (2) occasions
despite the fact that he was suspended from the practice of law.
DECISION
In his Answer,[3] Atty. Magat averred that in so far as the filing of
MENDOZA, J.: the motion to quash was concerned, he was really under the
impression that a criminal case in lieu of the two (2) charges was
Before the Court is the undated Resolution[1] of the Board of indeed filed and that the said motion was opposed by the other
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) finding party and was denied by the court. He admitted his appearances
Atty. Ceferino R. Magat (Atty. Magat) liable for unethical conduct in court while under suspension. He explained that his
and recommending that he be reprimanded. appearance in the December 21, 1977 hearing was to inform the
court that the accused was sick and to prevent the issuance of a court despite having been suspended, he could have so informed
warrant of arrest against the accused. In the January 9, 1978 the Presiding Judge of his plight and explained why the party he
hearing, he appeared because the accused had no money and was representing could not attend. Yet, what he proceeded to do
pleaded that his testimony be finished. Atty. Magat begged for was to enter his appearance as counsel. Indeed, it is beyond
the indulgence of the court and conveyed his repentance and doubt he trifled with the suspension order handed by the
apology and promised that the same would not happen again. Supreme Court.

The complaint was endorsed to the Office of the Solicitor If there is one thing going for respondent, it is that the passage of
General (OSG) for investigation, report and time with which this case remains pending makes it difficult to
recommendation.[4] Thereafter, the OSG transmitted the records impose a penalty of suspension on him. Under normal
of the case to the IBP for proper disposition. circumstances, this Commission would not have thought twice of
suspending respondent. However, the acts committed by
In his Report and Recommendation[5] dated March 20, 2009, the respondent occurred over TWENTY (20) YEARS ago. It would
IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found merit in the complaint not be fair to now impose a suspension on respondent, more so
and recommended that Atty. Magat be reprimanded and fined considering that he is, in all likelihood, in the twilight of his
P50,000.00. It stated that: career.

This Commission finds it hard to believe that respondent would


On the other hand, there is still a need to discipline respondent if
have mistakenly been under the impression that a case for
only to set an example to other lawyers that suspension orders of
physical injuries was filed against his client when there was no
the Supreme Court cannot simply be ignored. Thus, it is the
such case filed. Respondent was either negligently reckless or he
recommendation of the undersigned that respondent be meted a
had mischievous intentions to deceive the trial court. In any case,
fine of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) and that he be
he committed a transgression for which he should be punished.
heavily reprimanded for his actions, the passage of time
notwithstanding.[6]
However, the graver sin of respondent is, and this he admits, that
he appeared as counsel before a trial court on at least two (2)
occasions notwithstanding the fact that he had been suspended On May 14, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors passed its
by the Supreme Court from the practice of law. Despite Resolution[7] adopting the findings of the Investigating
professing his contrition in his Answer, this Commission is not Commissioner. It, however, deleted the imposition of fine.
convinced. Otherwise, respondent should have had, at the onset
of the proceedings, admitted to his misdeeds and put his fate The Court agrees with the findings of the IBP but not with
squarely with the disciplinary body. Yet, he proceeded to fight respect to the penalty.
the charges against him.
The practice of law is a privilege bestowed on those who show
Moreover, if respondent was indeed moved by altruistic that they possess and continue to possess the legal qualifications
intentions when he made those appearances before the trial
for it. Indeed, lawyers are expected to maintain at all times a high any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office,
standard of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a
integrity and fair dealing. They must perform their four-fold duty crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath
to society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients, in which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for
accordance with the values and norms of the legal profession as a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior
embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.[8] court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney
for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice
Atty. Magat's act clearly falls short of the standards set by the of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either
Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly Rule 10.01, personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes
which provides: malpractice. [Underlining supplied]
Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent
to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow As stated, if Atty. Magat was truly moved by altruistic intentions
the Court to be misled by any artifice. when he appeared before the trial court despite having been
suspended, he could have informed the Presiding Judge of his
In this case, the Court agrees with the observation of the IBP that plight and explained why the party he was representing could
there was a deliberate intent on the part of Atty. Magat to not attend. On the contrary, Atty. Magat kept his silence and
mislead the court when he filed the motion to dismiss the proceeded to represent his client as counsel.
criminal charges on the basis of double jeopardy. Atty. Magat
should not make any false and untruthful statements in his WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Ceferino R. Magat is hereby
pleadings. If it were true that there was a similar case for slight ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6)
physical injuries that was really filed in court, all he had to do months with a WARNING that the commission of the same or
was to secure a certification from that court that, indeed, a case similar offense in the future would be dealt with more severely.
was filed.

Furthermore, Atty. Magat expressly admitted appearing in court SO ORDERED.


on two occasions despite having been suspended from the
practice of law by the Court. Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court, a member of the bar may be disbarred or
suspended from office as an attorney for a willful disobedience of
any lawful order of a superior court and/or for corruptly or
wilfully appearing as an attorney without authority to do so. It
provides:

SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court;


grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for
Alberto Fernandez vs Atty. Benjamin Grecia able to get to the good side of the Supreme Court hence he was
reinstated to the profession.
ISSUE: Whether or not Grecia should be disbarred again.
2 SCAD 438 – Legal Ethics – Gross Misconduct
HELD: Yes. Grecia violated the Code of Professional
This disbarment complaint against Attorney Benjamin M. Grecia Responsibility. As a lawyer, he should not engage in unlawful,
was filed on August 20, 1991 by Doctors Alberto Fernandez, dishonest, immoral and deceitful conduct. A lawyer shall at all
Isabelo Ongtengco and Achilles Bartolome and the St. Luke’s times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and
Medical Center (hereafter “St. Luke’s” for brevity) where they are support the activities of the Integrated Bar. A lawyer is an officer
accredited medical practitioners. The respondent is charged with of the courts; he is “like the court itself, an instrument or agency
dishonesty and grave misconduct in connection with the theft of to advance the ends of justice”. Considering that this is his
some pages from a medical chart which was material evidence in second offense, an incorrigible practitioner of “dirty tricks,” like
a damage suit filed by his clients against the aforenamed doctors Grecia would be ill-suited to discharge the role of “an instrument
and St. Luke’s. to advance the ends of justice.” By descending to the level of a
In 1990, Linda Aves was admitted to St. Lukes Hospital. Among common thief, respondent Grecia has demeaned and disgraced
the doctors who treated her was Dr. Alberto Fernandez. She was the legal profession. He has demonstrated his moral unfitness to
treated well hence she was sent home but then the next day she continue as a member of the honorable fraternity of lawyers. He
died together with her unborn child. Damaso Aves, husband, has forfeited his membership in the BAR.
then filed a damage suit against the hospital and he impleaded On the basis of the evidence presented before Judge Bernad,
the attending doctors which included Fernandez. Aves hired the Court is convinced that the charge against Attorney
Atty. Benjamin Grecia to represent him. Benjamin M. Grecia is true. By stealing two pages from Linda
Grecia requested St. Luke to surrender before the court the Aves’ medical chart and passing them on to his driver, he
medical records of Linda Aves. St. Luke complied and the medical violated Rule 1.01, canon 1 of the Rules of Professional
records were delivered to the Clerk of Court. In the morning of Responsibility as well as canon 7 thereof which provide that:
July 16, 1991, Grecia went to the office of the clerk of court to Canon 1. . . .
borrow the said medical records. While Grecia was examining
the said medical records, he tore in front of the Clerk and one Rule 1.01 — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
office staff two pages from the medical records and then handed dishonest, immoral and deceitful conduct.
it back to the Clerk. The Clerk was stunned as she watched Grecia Canon 7. A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and
walk away. She then reported the incident to the judge. The dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of
judge immediately took action and the torn pages were the Integrated Bar.
eventually recovered as it turned out that Grecia handed the torn
pages to someone else.
Grecia was then administratively charged by Dr. Fernandez.
Apparently, Grecia has been disbarred before. However, he was
Jocelyn De Leon v Atty. Padrena IBP Investigating Commissioner, on January 30,2006 after asking
Attorney; Gross Immoral Conduct. about the status of the casualty. Pedreña told Jocelyn De Leon
then to ride with him and he would just drop Jocelyn by
Respondent Pedreña, a Public Attorney, was charged for sexual thejeepney station, she refused to ride with himbut Atty. Pedreña
harassment. The Supreme Court held that the records show that persistently told her to get in the car, and so she acceded to his
the respondent rubbed the complainant’s right leg with his hand; request so as not to offend him. Inside the car Atty. Pedreña
rubbed the Jocelyn’s right leg with his hand; tried to insert his
tried to insert his finger into her firmly closed hand; grabbed her
finger into her firmly closed hand; grabbed her hand and forcibly
hand and forcibly placed it on his crotch area; and pressed his placed it on his crotch area; and pressed his finger against her
finger against her private part. Given the circumstances in which private part. Jocelyn thereafter tried at all cost to unlock the car’s
he committed them, his acts were not merely offensive and door and told him categorically that she was getting off the car.
undesirable but repulsive, disgraceful and grossly immoral. They Instead he accelerated a bit more but sensing her insistence to
constituted misconduct on the part of any lawyer. In this regard, get off, he stopped the car, and allowed her to get off. Jocelyn de
immoral conduct is gross when it is so corrupt as to constitute a Leon then filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines(IBP) a
complaint for disbarment or suspension from the practice of law
criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high
against Atty.Tyrone Pedreña.
degree, or when committed under such scandalous or revolting
circumstances as to shock the community’s sense of decency.
Atty. Pedreña’s misconduct was aggravated by the fact that he Attorney; Gross Immoral Conduct. Respondent Pedreña, a Public
was then a Public Attorney mandated to provide free legal Attorney, was charged for sexual harassment. The Supreme
service to indigent litigants, and by the fact that complainant was Court held that the records show that the respondent rubbed the
then such a client. He also disregarded his oath as a public officer complainant’s right leg with his hand; tried to insert his finger
to serve others and to be accountable at all times, because he into her firmly closed hand; grabbed her hand and forcibly
thereby took advantage of her vulnerability as a client then in placed it on his crotch area; and pressed his finger against her
desperate need of his legal assistance. Thus, respondent was private part. Given the circumstances in which he committed
meted out the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for them, his acts were not merely offensive and undesirable but
two (2) years. Jocelyn De Leon v. Atty. Tyrone Pedrena, A.C. No. repulsive, disgraceful and grossly immoral. They constituted
9401, October 22, 2013. misconduct on the part of any lawyer. In this regard, immoral
conduct is gross when it is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal
DE LEON vs PEDREÑA708 SCRA 13 act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree, or
when committed under such scandalous or revolting
Atty. Tyrone Pedreña, a Public Attorney of Parañaque City.
Jocelyn De Leon is a single mother of two minor children. Atty. circumstances as to shock the community’s sense of decency.
Pedreña is the counsel of Jocelyn De Leon on the case for support Atty. Pedreña’s misconduct was aggravated by the fact that he
for the two minor children. Records show, as established by the was then a Public Attorney mandated to provide free legal
service to indigent litigants, and by the fact that complainant was respondent was married to Elizabeth Hermosisima and has
then such a client. He also disregarded his oath as a public officer three children. Complainant filed for the declaration of nullity
to serve others and to be accountable at all times, because he of the marriage between respondent and Lisa. The
complainant contented that with the moral ascendancy of the
thereby took advantage of her vulnerability as a client then in
respondent over Maria Luisa and his misrepresentation that
desperate need of his legal assistance. Thus, respondent was there was no legal impediment or prohibition to his contracting a
meted out the penalty of suspension from the practice of law second marriage, respondent succeeded in inducing and
for two (2) years. Jocelyn De Leon v. Atty. Tyrone Pedrena, A.C. beguiling her into marrying him. Without complying with the
No. 9401, October 22, 2013. requirements of the Philippine law that he should first obtain a
judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Elizabeth H.
Palma and that the “advice” of Maria Luisa’s parents should first
be obtained she being only twenty-two (22) years of age,
Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr., complainant versus Atty. Leo J. Palma, respondent succeeded in contracting marriage with her in
respondent. Hongkong in June 22, 1992 by falsely representing himself
Adm. Case No. 2474 September 15, 2004 before the Hongkong authorities that he is a “bachelor.”

Facts: The respondent contented that “….. and that it is contrary to the
natural course of things for an immoral man to marry the woman
Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. filed with this Court the instant complaint he sincerely loves.”
for disbarment against Atty. Leo J. Palma, alleging as grounds
deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct in office, violation of his Issue: Whether or not the marriage of respondent to Ma. Luisa is
oath as a lawyer and grossly immoral conduct. void ab initio.

Complainant was a client of Angara Concepcion Regala and Cruz Held: To this date, the records fail to disclose the outcome of this
Law Offices (ACCRA) and respondent was the lawyer assigned to case.
handle his cases. He hired respondent as his personal counsel.
Consequently, respondent’s relationship with complainant Respondent admits that he married Luisa in Hongkong
became intimate. On June 22, without the knowledge of representing himself as a bachelor; however, he claimed that the
complainant’s family, respondent married Lisa, the marriage certificate stated a condition no different from the term
complainant’s daughter in Hongkong. Complainant came to know “spinster” with respect to Luisa. There is no question that
that, a) on the date of the supposed marriage, respondent respondent as a lawyer well versed in the law knew fully well
requested from his (complainant’s) office an airplane ticket to that in marrying Maria Luisa he was entering into a bigamous
and from Australia, with stop-over in Hongkong; b) respondent marriage defined and penalized under Article 349 of the Revised
misrepresented himself as bachelor in the Hongkong Penal Code.
authorities to facilitate his marriage with Lisa; and c)
The ringing truth in this case is that respondent married Lisa The interdict upon lawyers, as inscribed in Rule 1.01 of
while he has a subsisting marriage with Elizabeth Hermosisima. the Code of Professional Responsibility, is that they shall not
The Certification from the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
shows that he married Elizabeth on December 19, 1971 at the conduct. This is founded on the lawyers primordial duty to
Cardial’s Private Chapel, Cebu City. On the other hand, the society as spelled out in Canon 1 which states:
Certificate of Marriage from the Deputy Registrar of Marriages in
Hongkong proves respondent’s subsequent marriage with Lisa CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the
on July 9, 1982. That Elizabeth was alive at the time of Constitution, obey the laws of the land and
respondent’s second marriage was confirmed. In particular, he promote respect for law and legal processes.
made a mockery of marriage which is a sacred institution
demanding respect and dignity. His act of contracting a second
marriage is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality. It is not by coincidence that the drafters of our Code of
Professional Responsibility ranked the above responsibility first
Respondent justified his conduct by professing he really loved in the enumeration. They knew then that more than anybody
Lisa and since he married her, he cannot be charged with else, it is the lawyers -- the disciples of law -- who are most
immorality. His reasoning shows a distorted mind and a brazen obliged to venerate the law. As stated in Ex Parte Wall:[37]
regard on the sanctity of marriage. In such relationship, the man
and woman are obliged to live together, observe mutual respect Of all classes and professions, the
and fidelity. How could respondent perform these obligations to lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the
Lisa when he was previously married to Elizabeth? If he really laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him,
loved her, then the noblest thing he could have done was to walk of all men in the world, to repudiate and
away. override the laws, to trample them underfoot
and to ignore the very bonds of society,
Furthermore, (not stated in the case) under Article 35 paragraph argues recreancy to his position and office
3 of the Family Code, “a marriage solemnized without a marriage and sets a pernicious example to the
license is void ab initio except those covered by the preceding insubordinate and dangerous elements of
chapter”. Though the marriage was solemnized in Hongkong, the the body politic.
intrinsic validity of the marriage is governed by the national law
of the contracting parties. In the case at bar, since both of the WHEREFORE, respondent Leo J. Palma is found GUILTY of
parties are Filipino citizens, the validity of their marriage shall be grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer,
governed by the Philippine law. Under the Philippine law, and is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law.
absence of the essential and formal requisites of marriage shall
make the marriage void ab initio. Their marriage was contracted
without the valid marriage license, thus, the marriage of
respondent and Ma. Luisa is void ab initio.
CASE DIGEST : Estrada Vs Escritor absolute barrier to formal interdependence of religion and
A.M. No. P-02-1651 June 22, 2006 (Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. state. Religious institutions could not receive aid, whether direct
00-1021-P) ALEJANDRO ESTRADA, Complainant, vs. SOLEDAD or indirect, from the state. Nor could the state adjust its secular
S. ESCRITOR, Respondent. programs to alleviate burdens the programs placed on believers.
the strict neutrality or separationist view is largely used by the
Court, showing the Court’s tendency to press relentlessly
towards a more secular society Accommodationist - Benevolent
FACTS : Complainant Alejandro Estrada wrote to Judge Jose F. neutrality thus recognizes that religion plays an important role
Caoibes, Jr., requesting for an investigation of rumors that in the public life of the United States as shown by many
respondent Soledad Escritor, court interpreter, is living with a traditional government practices which An accommodationist
man not her husband. They allegedly have a child of eighteen to holds that it is good public policy, and sometimes
twenty years old. Estrada is not personally related either to constitutionally required, for the state to make conscious and
Escritor or her partner. Nevertheless, he filed the charge against deliberate efforts to avoid interference with religious freedom.
Escritor as he believes that she is committing an immoral act that On the other hand, the strict neutrality adherent believes that it
tarnishes the image of the court, thus she should not be allowed is good public policy, and also constitutionally required, for the
to remain employed therein as it might appear that the court government to avoid religion-specific policy even at the cost of
condones her act. Respondent Escritor testified that when she inhibiting religious exercise First, the accommodationist
entered the judiciary in 1999, she was already a widow, her interpretation is most consistent with the language of the First
husband having died in 1998. She admitted that she has been Amendment. Second, the accommodationist position best
living with Luciano Quilapio, Jr. without the benefit of marriage achieves the purposes of the First Amendment. Third, the
for twenty years and that they have a son. But as a member of the accommodationist interpretation is particularly necessary to
religious sect known as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watch protect adherents of minority religions from the inevitable
Tower and Bible Tract Society, their conjugal arrangement is in effects of majoritarianism, which include ignorance and
conformity with their religious beliefs. In fact, after ten years of indifference and overt hostility to the minority Fourth, the
living together, she executed on July 28, 1991 a "Declaration of accommodationist position is practical as it is a commonsensical
Pledging Faithfulness," insofar as the congregation is concerned, way to deal with the various needs and beliefs of different faiths
there is nothing immoral about the conjugal arrangement in a pluralistic nation. The "compelling state interest" test is
between Escritor and Quilapio and they remain members in good proper where conduct is involved for the whole gamut of human
standing in the congregation. conduct has different effects on the state’s interests: some effects
may be immediate and short-term while others delayed and far-
ISSUE : Whether or not respondent should be found guilty of the reaching. A test that would protect the interests of the state in
administrative charge of "gross and immoral conduct." preventing a substantive evil, whether immediate or delayed, is
therefore necessary In applying the test, the first inquiry is
HELD : The two streams of jurisprudence - separationist or whether respondent’s right to religious freedom has been
accommodationist - are anchored on a different reading of the burdened. There is no doubt that choosing between keeping
"wall of separation." Separationist - This approach erects an her employment and abandoning her religious belief and
practice and family on the one hand, and giving up her counsel of most of SCP’s creditors; he is also a partner of the law firm that he
employment and keeping her religious practice and family engaged as legal adviser.2. The respondent conducted informal meetings
on the other hand, puts a burden on her free exercise of (which she termed as "consultative meetings" in her Order2 dated May
religion The second step is to ascertain respondent’s sincerity in 11,2007) in places outside her official jurisdiction (i.e., a first class golf club, a
her religious belief. Respondent appears to be sincere in her hotel and sports club facilities in Metro Manila) and where she arbitrarily
religious belief and practice and is not merely using the dictated the terms, parameters and features of the rehabilitation plan she
"Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness" to avoid punishment wanted to approve for SCP. She also announced in the meetings that she
for immorality. She did not secure the Declaration only after would prepare the rehabilitation plan for SCP.3. The modified rehabilitation
entering the judiciary where the moral standards are strict and plan submitted by Atty. Gabionza is a replica of what the respondent dictated
defined, much less only after an administrative case for to him. Thus, the respondent exceeded the limits of her authority and
immorality was filed against herIndeed, it is inappropriate for effectively usurped and pre- empted the rehabilitation receiver’s exercise of
the complainant, a private person, to present evidence on the functions.4. The respondent ordered that the proceedings of the informal
compelling interest of the state. The burden of evidence should meetings be off-record so that there would be no record that she had favored
be discharged by the proper agency of the government which is Equitable-PCI Bank (EPCIB).5. The respondent had secret meetings and
the Office of the Solicitor General. To properly settle the issue in communications with EPCIB to discuss the case without the knowledge and
the case at bar, the government should be given the opportunity presence ofSCP and its creditors.6. The respondent appointed Gerardo
to demonstrate the compelling state interest it seeks to uphold in Anonas (Anonas) as Atty. Gabionza’s financial adviser and, at the same time,
opposing the respondent’s stance that her conjugal as her financial adviser to guide her in the formulation and development f the
arrangement is not immoral and punishable as it comes rehabilitation plan, for a fee of P3.5M at SCP’s expense. Anonas is also the
within the scope of free exercise protection. cousin-in-law of the managing partner of Atty. Gabionza’s law firm.
7. The respondent encouraged EPCIB to raise complaints or accusations
against SCP, leading to EPCIB’s filing of a motion tocreate a management
A.M. No. RTJ-09-2200 April 2, 2014(formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 08-2834- committee.
RTJ) ANTONIO M. LORENZANA, Complainant, vs.JUDGE MA. CECILIA I. 8. When requested to conduct an evidentiary meeting and to issue a
AUSTRIA, Regional Trial Court, Branch 2, Batangas City, subpoena (so that SCP could confront EPCIB’s witnesses to prove the
Respondent. allegation that there was a need for the creation of management committee),
the respondent denied SCP’s requests and delayed the issuance of the order
FACTS: The complainant alleged that in the course of SP. Proc.No. 06-7993, until the last minute.
the respondent committed Gross ignorance of the Law, Grave Abuse of 9. At the hearing of September 14, 2007, the respondent intimidated SCP’s
Authority, Gross Misconduct, Grave Incompetence, Irregularity in the counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio; blocked his every attempt to speak; refused
Performance of Duty, Grave Bias and Partiality, Lack of Circumspection, to recognize his appearances in court; and made condescending and snide
Conduct Unbecoming of a judge, Failure to Observe the Reglementary Period remarks.
and Violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. 1. The respondent 10. The respondent failed to observe the reglementary period prescribed by
appointed Atty. Santiago T. Gabionza, Jr. as rehabilitation receiver over SCP’s the Interim Rules of Procedure on Corporate Rehabilitation (Rules). She
objections and despite serious conflict of interest in being the duly appointed approved the rehabilitation plan beyond the 180 days given to her in the
rehabilitation receiver for SCP and, at the same time, the external legal
Rules, without asking for permission to extend the period from the Supreme RULING: We agree with the recommendation of both Justice Gonzales-Sison
Court (SC). and the OCA for the imposition of a fine on the respondent but modify the
11. The respondent erroneously interpreted and applied Section 23, Rule 4 of amount as indicated below. We sustain JusticeGonzales-Sison’s finding of
the Rules (the court’s power to approve the rehabilitation plan) to include the gross ignorance of the law in so far as the respondent ordered the
power to amend, modify and alter it. creation of a management committee without conducting an evidentiary
12. The respondent took a personal interest and commitment to decide the hearing. The absence of hearing was a matter of basic due process that no
matter in EPCIB’s favour and made comments and rulings in the proceedings magistrate should be forgetful or careless about. Even granting that the
that raised concerns regarding her impartiality. respondent indeed erred in the exercise of her judicial functions, these are, at
13. The respondent adamantly refused to inhibit herself and showed best, legal errors correctible not by a disciplinary action, but by judicial
special interest and personal involvement in the case. The remedies that are readily available to the complainant. "An administrative
complainant likewise filed a supplemental complaint3 dated April complaint is not the appropriate remedy for every irregular or erroneous
14, 2008 where he alleged that the respondent committed an act order or decision issued by a judge where a judicial remedy is available, such
of impropriety when she displayed her photographs in a social as a motion for reconsideration or an appeal."23Errors committed by
networking website called "Friendster" and posted her personal him/her in the exercise of adjudicative functions cannot be corrected
details as an RTC Judge, allegedly for the purpose of finding compatible through administrative proceedings but should be assailed instead
partner. She also posed with her upper body barely covered by a shawl, through judicial remedies.24In the present case, aside from being
allegedly suggesting that nothing was worn underneath except probably a speculative and judicial in character, the circumstances cited by the
brassiere. In arriving at its recommendation the 1. OCA found that the complainant were grounded on mere opinion and surmises. The
respondent was not guilty of gross ignorance of the law as the complainant, too, failed to adduce proof indicating the respondent’s
complainant failed to prove that her orders were motivated by bad predisposition to decide the case in favor of one party. This kind of evidence
faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption. The OCA also found that 2. the would have helped its cause. The bare allegations of the complainant cannot
charges of bias and partiality in handling the rehabilitation proceedings were overturn the presumption that the respondent acted regularly and
not supported by evidence. It accepted the respondent’s explanation in the impartially. We thus conclude that due to the
charge of failure to observe the elementary period. Complainant’s failure to establish with clear, solid, and convincing proof, the
Lastly, 3. the OCA maintained that the allegations of grave abuse of authority allegations of bias and partiality must fail. In the present case, nothing in the
and gross incompetence are judicial in nature, hence, they should not be the records suggests that the respondent was motivated by bad faith, fraud,
subject of disciplinary action. On the other hand, on allegations of conduct corruption, dishonesty or egregious error in rendering her decision
unbecoming of a judge, violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility approving the modified rehabilitation plan. Besides his bare accusations, the
(Code), lack of circumspection and impropriety, the OCA shared complainant failed to substantiate his allegations with competent proof. Bad
JusticeGonzales-Sison’s observations that the respondent’s act of posting faith cannot be presumed32 and this Court cannot conclude that bad faith
seductive photos in her Friendster account contravened the standard of intervened when none was actually proven.
propriety set forth by the Code.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Ma. Cecilia I. Austria guilty of GROSS
ISSUE: WON respondent violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. IGNORANCE OF THE LAW for which she is FINED Twenty-One
Thousand Pesos (P21, 000,00). Judge Austria is likewise hereby
ADMONISHED to refrain from further acts of IMPROPRIETY and to refrain
from CONDUCT UNBECOMING OF A JUDGE, with the
STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall
be dealt with more severely.