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SECOND DIVISION

JUDGE ALDEN V. A.C. No. 7828


CERVANTES,
Complainant, Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


CORONA,*
- versus - CARPIO MORALES,
VELASCO, JR., and
BRION, JJ.

ATTY. JUDE JOSUE L. SABIO, Promulgated:


Respondent. August 11, 2008

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DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:


Judge Alden V. Cervantes (complainant) was the presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of
Cabuyao, Laguna until his optional retirement on November 23, 2005. Some of the cases lodged in his sala
were ejectment cases filed by Extra-Ordinary Development Corporation (EDC) against the clients of Atty. Jude
Josue L. Sabio (respondent). It appears that respondent had filed motions for inhibition of complainant on the
basis of the fact that EDC gave him a house and lot putting into serious doubt his impartiality, independence
and integrity. The motions were denied.

After the retirement of complainant, respondent, by Affidavit-Complaint dated April 6, 2006,[1] sought
the investigation of complainant for bribery.

In support of the charge, respondent submitted a Sinumpaang Salaysay dated March 6, 2006 of Edwin
P. Cardeo,[2] a utility worker in the MTC of Cabuyao, stating that, inter alia, orders and decisions of
complainant were not generated from the typewriter of the court but from a computer which the court did not
have, it having acquired one only on May 2, 2005; that there had been many times that a certain Alex of EDC
would go to the court bearing certain papers for the signature of complainant; that he came to learn that a
consideration of P500.00 would be given for every order or decision released by complainant in favor of EDC;
and that he also came to know that attempts at postponing the hearings of the complaints filed by EDC were
thwarted by complainant as he wanted to expedite the disposition thereof.

By Resolution of August 30, 2006,[3] this Court, after noting the July 20, 2006 Memorandum of the
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) relative to respondents complaint against complainant, approved the
recommendation of the OCA to dismiss the complaint for lack of merit, the complaint being unsubstantiated
and motivated by plain unfounded suspicion, and for having been filed after the effectivity of his optional
retirement (underscoring supplied).

Thus, spawned the present verified December 18, 1996 letter-complaint[4] of complainant against
respondent, for disbarment.

The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation.

From the Report and Recommendation[5] of the IBP Investigating Commissioner, Randall C.
Tabayoyong, it is gathered that despite the January 12, 2007 Order for respondent to file an answer to the
complaint, he failed to do so, prompting the Commissioner to declare him in default.
It is further gathered that after the conduct by the Investigating Commissioner of a mandatory conference
on May 25, 2007, the parties were ordered to file their respective position papers. In compliance with the
Order, complainant submitted his verified position paper.[6] Respondent did not.

Defined as issues before the IBP were:

(1) Whether . . . the complaint filed by respondent against the complainant before the
Office of the Court Administrator in Admin Matter OCA IPI No. 06-1842-MTJ was
malicious, false and untruthful.

(2) If in the affirmative, whether . . . respondent is guilty under the Code of


Professional Responsibility.

On the first issue, the IBP Commissioner did not find respondents complaint against herein complainant
false and untruthful, it noting that respondents complaint was dismissed by this Court due to insufficiency of
evidence which, to the IBP, merely shows a failure on the part of respondent to prove his allegations against
complainant.

Noting, however, this Courts August 30, 2006 Resolution finding respondents complaint
unsubstantiated and motivated by plain, unfounded suspicion, the Investigating Commissioner concluded that
respondent knowingly instituted not only a groundless suit against herein complainant, but also a suit based
simply on his bare suspicion and speculation. (underscoring supplied)

On the second issue, the IBP found that by filing the groundless bribery charge against complainant,
respondent violated the proscription of the Code of Professional Responsibility against wittingly or willingly
promot[ing] or su[ing] any groundless suit including baseless administrative complaints against judges and
other court officers and employees.

The Investigating Commissioner thus concluded that

while the evidence on record is sufficient to show that the allegations in respondents affidavit-
complaint against herein complainant were false, the evidence nonetheless show[s] that
respondent had knowingly and maliciously instituted a groundless suit, based simply on his
unfounded suspicions against complainant;[7] (Underscoring supplied)

and that he violated Canons 10,[8] 11,[9] & 12[10] and Rule 11.04[11] of the Code of Professional Responsibility
under his oath of office.

He accordingly recommended that respondent be fined in the amount of P5,000, with a stern warning
that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely.

The Board of Governors of the IBP, by Notice of Resolution,[12] informs that on November 22, 2007, it
adopted the following Resolution adopting and approving with modification the Report and Recommendation
of the Investigating Commissioner, viz:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and


APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A; and,
finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws
and rules, and considering Respondents violation of Canons 10, 11 and 12 and Rule 11.04 of
the Code of Professional responsibility for filing a groundless suit against complainant, Atty.
Jude Sabio is hereby REPRIMANDED with Stern Warning that a repetition of the same or
similar act will be dealt with more severely. (Emphasis in the original)
The Court finds the action taken by the IBP Board of Governors well taken.
Respondent ought to be aware that if a court official or employee or a lawyer is to be disciplined, the
evidence against him should be substantial, competent and derived from direct knowledge, not on mere
allegations, conjectures, suppositions, or on the basis of hearsay.[13]

No doubt, it is this Courts duty to investigate the truth behind charges against judges and lawyers. But
it is also its duty to shield them from unfounded suits which are intended to, among other things, harass them.

WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Jude Josue L. Sabio, is FINED in the amount of Five Thousand
(P5,000) Pesos, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar questioned act will be dealt with more
severely.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

ATTY. EMMANUEL R. ANDAMO, A.M. No. RTJ-11-2265


Complainant, [Formerly A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 08-2986-RTJ]

Present:

- versus - VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,


PERALTA,
ABAD,
MENDOZA, and
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.
JUDGE EDWIN G. LARIDA, JR.,
CLERK OF COURT STANLEE D.
CALMA and
LEGAL RESEARCHER
DIANA G. RUIZ,
all of Regional Trial Court,
Branch 18 Tagaytay City, Promulgated:
Respondents.
September 21, 2011

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DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

Doubtless, the Court will never tolerate or condone any conduct, act or omission that
would violate the norm of public accountability or diminish the peoples faith in the judiciary.
However, it will not hesitate to protect innocent court employees against any baseless
accusation or administrative charge that only serve to disrupt rather than promote the orderly
administration of justice.[1]

At bench is an administrative case against respondents Judge Edwin G. Larida, Jr. (Judge Larida,
Jr.), Clerk of Court Stanlee D. Calma (Atty. Calma) and Legal Researcher Diana G. Cruz (LR Ruiz), all of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 18, Tagaytay City.

The Facts:

In a Letter-Complaint dated August 26, 2008,[2] complainant Atty. Emmanuel R.


Andamo (complainant), counsel for Cavite Rural Banking Corporation (CRBC), charged Judge Larida, Jr., Atty.
Calma and LR Ruiz with ignorance of the law.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) summarized the letter-complaint and its attachments as follows:

I. Four (4) Petitions for issuance by the Clerk of Court of Certificates of Sale under
Act 3135, as amended:

1. Cavite Rural Banking Corporation, petitioner, Freddie P.


Magno, mortgagor, filed on 28 December 2005 (Re: application for extra-
judicial foreclosure of mortgage, 19 March 2003);

2. Cavite Rural Banking Corporation, petitioner, Sps. Sixto & Norma


Tolentino, mortgagors, filed on 28 December 2005 (Re: application for
extra-judicial foreclosure of mortgage, 19 March 2003);

3. Cavite Rural Banking Corporation, petitioner, Sps. Jonathan & Yolanda


Pearanda, mortgagors, filed on 28 December 2005 (Re: application for extra-
judicial foreclosure of mortgage, 01 October 2001);

4. Cavite Rural Banking Corporation, petitioner, Celia Bay, mortgagor, filed on 28


December 2005 (Re: application for extra-judicial foreclosure of
mortgage, 19 March 2003);

II. Four (4) Ex-parte Joint Petitions for the issuance by the Honorable Trial Court of
Writs of Possession under Act 3135, as amended:

1. TG-05-1103, 08 August 2005, Sps. Babestil & Sancha


Pendatum, mortgagors;

2. TG-05-1104, 24 November 2005, Josefina Villanueva, mortgagor;

3. TG-05-1105, 08 August 2005, Sps. Josefa Desipeda & Roqueno


Calderon, mortgagors;

4. TG-05-1141, 28 December 2005, Norma Malabanan, mortgagor;

Complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo avers that the aforementioned Petitions have long
been pending before the above-mentioned court saying that the ongoing hearings of said cases
may be further extended by the respondent Judge Edwin G. Larida, Jr.

Anent TG-05-1103 and TG-05-1105, complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo argues that


respondent Judge Edwin G. Larida, Jr. committed an error when he recognized the appearance
and participation of Atty. Ireneo Anarna as lawyer for the oppositors to the said petitions in the
hearings thereof, and thereafter gave due course to the two oppositions filed, both dated 15
November 2005. Respondent Judge Edwin G. Larida, Jr. committed another error when he
failed to require the oppositors and Atty. Anarna the required guaranty bonds as mandated by
Section 47 of Republic Act 8791.

Likewise, complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo bewails the issuance by respondent Judge


Edwin G. Larida, Jr. of the Order dated 10 July 2008 in TG-05-1141 which denied complainants
Ex Parte Joint Motion for Early Resolution of Ex-Parte Joint Petitions for the Issuance of Writs of
Possession (in TG-05-1103, TG-05-1104, TG-05-1105, and TG-05-1141) by ruling that the
petitioner has yet to present evidence besides marking of exhibits. Complainant Emmanuel R.
Andamo considers the said Order as contrary to Sections 7 and 8 of Act 3135 which mandates,
among others, that the trial court shall issue the Writ of Possession regardless of opposition
thereto.

In addition, complainant Emmanuel B. Andamo accuses respondent Diana Ruiz, as then


Officer-in-Charge and Acting Clerk of Court, and Atty. Stanlee Calma, as the incumbent Clerk of
Court, for not having lifted a finger, say, by placing the docket of those eight (8) long pending
cases beside the other dockets already placed on the Hon. Courts working table by way of
requesting his Honor for instruction or reminding his Honor of the urgency of action thereon,
and notwithstanding Mrs. Ruiz[s] acknowledged receipt of the written instruction of the Hon.
Supreme Court Administrator, dated November 17, 2005 as to how to act thereon.
Furthermore, complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo implicated Atty. Ireneo Anarna,
charging the latter of ignorance on the provisions of Act 3135 and for obstruction of justice for
filing misplaced oppositions to non-litigious ex-parte petitions for issuance of Writ of Possession
and for not submitting the required oppositors bond.[3]

The Joint Comment of respondents Atty. Calma and LR Ruiz dated October 3, 2007 was also summarized by
the OCA, viz:
Respondents Calma and Ruiz aver that complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo mainly
charges them for the non-issuance of certificates of sale in the abovementioned extra-judicial
foreclosure proceedings which were filed by Pepito Abueg as Acting Manager of petitioner
Cavite Rural Banking Corporation. Respondents Calma and Ruiz declare that in all the aforesaid
applications for foreclosure, were undated certificates of sale signed by then Deputy Sheriff
Victor Hernandez, and Clerk of Court Analiza Luna. However, these certificates do not bear the
signature of approval of then Assisting Judge (and eventually Deputy Court Administrator)
Reuben P. Dela Cruz.

Likewise, respondents Calma and Ruiz stress that there is an Order in an undocketed
case, entitled Cavite Rural Banking Corporation (then Cavite Development Bank), mortgagee v.
Sps. Jonathan Pearanda, Sps. Simon and Petronila Peji, Celia M. Bay, Sixto and Norma
Tolentino and Freddie Magno, mortgagors. This Order was issued by then Judge Reuben Dela
Cruz on 17 March 2004, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the applications for extra-judicial


foreclosure of mortgage of Spouses Jonathan and Yolanda Pearanda; Spouses
Simon and Petronila Peji; Celia M. Bay; Spouses Sixto and Norma Tolentino; and
Freddie Magno are hereby DENIED for failure to comply with the requirements
thereto.

SO ORDERED.

Respondents Calma and Ruiz argue that the aforesaid applications for foreclosure,
including the petition for issuance of certificates of sale, were properly brought before and
deliberated by the court. Hence, taking into consideration the issuance of the 17 March
2004 Order which they cannot alter or modify, respondents Calma and Ruiz aver that any
issuance of certificates of sale on the subject applications for foreclosure cannot be done.

Respondents Calma and Ruiz further explicate that in a copy of the 17 March
2004 Order, there appears a signature over a handwritten name Sibano J. Sibero dated 3-17-
04. Thus suggesting that he received a copy of said Order in behalf of Cavite Rural Banking
Corporation. Hence, respondents Calma and Ruiz chide complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo for
not mentioning in his complaint the 17 March 2004 Order. Furthermore, assuming ex gratia
argumenti that complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo is not aware of said Order, respondents
Calma and Ruiz still blame complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo that it took him almost seven (7)
years before he made a follow up on the petitions for issuance of certificates of sale. If only
their attention were called, respondents Calma and Ruiz aver that they would have searched for
the records and inform complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo about the Order.

In addition, respondents Calma and Ruiz call as an unfair accusation complainant


Emmanuel R. Andamos imputation that they were the reason for the issuance of the 10 July
2008 Order. Respondents Calma and Ruiz argue that said Order is a judicial action and an
exercise of discretion by the court to which they, being merely the Clerk of Court and the Legal
Researcher, respectively, do not have any control. Moreover, they point out that the said Order
was also given in the other petitions of complainant where there is no oppositor, thus,
rendering complainants perception as unfounded.

Lastly, while complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo charges respondents Calma and Ruiz
with gross ignorance of Act No. 3135, respondents Calma and Ruiz find it ironic that
complainant Emmanuel R. Andamo misses the entire point of the issuance of the 17 March
2004 Order which states complainants failure to show compliance with the same Act No.
3135.[4]
After perusing the records, the OCA found that the allegations in the complaint and the defenses raised by
respondents Atty. Calma and LR Ruiz presented conflicting factual issues that could not be categorically
resolved merely on the basis of the records submitted. Judge Larida, Jr. even failed to submit his Comment on
the matter. The OCA then pointed out the necessity for a formal investigation where the complainant and the
respondents would be given the opportunity to adduce their respective evidence. Thus, it recommended that
the administrative complaint against respondents be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative case, and the
same be REFERRED to a Justice of the Court of Appeals (CA) for investigation, report and recommendation
within sixty (60) days from receipt of the records.
In the Resolution dated January 19, 2011,[5] the Court resolved to: (1) note the letter-complaint of
Atty. Emmanuel R. Andamo against respondents Judge Larida, Jr., Atty. Calma and LR Ruiz, for gross
ignorance of the law relative to LRC Case Nos. 05-1105, 05-1104, 05-1103, and 05-1141 for the issuance of
writs of possession under Act 3135, as amended, and the joint comment dated October 3, 2007 of
respondents Clerk of Court and Legal Researcher; (2) re-docket the instant administrative
complaint; (3) refer this case to a Justice of the CA for investigation, report and recommendation within sixty
(60) days from receipt of the records, and direct the Presiding Justice of the CA to raffle the case among the
incumbent Justices of the CA who shall conduct the investigation and submit the required report and
recommendation; and (4) note the Report dated June 18, 2010 of the OCA.

The case was eventually assigned to CA Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier (Justice Lazaro-Javier) who, as
directed by the Court, conducted the corresponding investigation on the complaint.

Notably, during the initial stage of the proceedings, Judge Larida, Jr. filed his Motion with Leave of Court to
Admit Comment[6] dated April 14, 2011.[7] The same was granted in the interest of substantial justice.[8] In his
Comment, respondent Judge Larida, Jr. denied that he delayed the resolution of complainants petitions for
issuance of writs of possession in TG-05-1103, TG-05-1104, TG-05-1105, and TG-05-1141. He claimed that he
was unaware of unacted foreclosure proceedings pending before the Office of the Clerk of Court of RTC-Br.
18, Tagaytay City; that he never talked to complainant about the cases in his chambers; that it was only out of
prudence and propriety that he acknowledged the oppositions to complainants four (4) petitions as the said
oppositions were necessarily part of the proceedings; and that he eventually set the petitions for hearing since
there was a need for complainant to present evidence to support his entitlement to the four (4) writs prayed
for.

Judge Larida, Jr. also informed the Court that per Supreme Court Resolution dated November 18, 2008,[9] he
was detailed as Assisting Judge of RTC, Branch 74, Malabon City.

During the hearing on April 14, 2011, the parties agreed to submit their affidavits with attachments to
constitute their testimony subject to cross-examination.[10]

Complainant did not submit an affidavit and opted to adopt his Letter-Complaint as his direct testimony. He
further submitted several documentary evidence.[11]
For his part, Judge Larida, Jr. submitted his Judicial Affidavit dated April 18, 2011. He essentially iterated
therein his allegations in his Comment. He also offered various documentary evidence[12] to refute the charges
against him.

Atty. Calma and LR Ruiz likewise submitted their undated Joint Affidavit.

Atty. Calma emphasized that then Assisting Judge Reuben dela Cruz had long denied complainants
undocketed petitions for extrajudicial foreclosure in CRBC v. Magno, in his Order of March 17, 2004. The
grounds for the said denial were: (1) non-payment of entry fees; (2) non-assignment of docket
numbers; (3) absence of proofs of service to the sheriff and the parties; (4) non-attachment of photocopies
of the official receipts to the cases; and (5) non-payment of sufficient amount of docket fees. Atty. Calma also
disclosed that he was no longer connected with the judiciary as he had opted to engage in the private practice
of law.

Aside from those previously submitted exhibits, Atty. Calma and LR Ruiz presented the
following: (1) Application for Extra-Judicial Foreclosure filed in CRBC v. Magno;[13] (2) Application for Extra-
Judicial Foreclosure filed in CRBC v. Spouses Tolentino;[14] (3) Application for Extra-Judicial Foreclosure filed
in CRBC v. Jonathan and Yolanda Pearanda;[15] (4) Application for Extra-Judicial Foreclosure filed in Celia M.
Bay;[16] (5) Certificate of Sale for the auctioned property of Freddie P. Magno;[17] (6) Unsigned printed name
of Assisting Judge Reuben dela Cruz;[18] (7) Certificate of Sale for the auctioned property of Sps.
Tolentino;[19] (8) Unsigned printed name of Assisting Judge Reuben dela Cruz;[20] (9) Certificate of Sale for
the auctioned property of Jonathan and Yolanda Pearanda;[21] (10) Unsigned printed name of Assisting Judge
Reuben dela Cruz;[22] (11) Certificate of Sale for the auctioned property of Celia Bay;[23] (12) Unsigned
printed name of Assisting Judge Reuben dela Cruz;[24] (13) Order of Judge Reuben Dela Cruz dated March 17,
2004;[25] (14) Certification dated June 7, 2004 by Judge Reuben dela Cruz;[26] (15) Comment dated October
3, 2007 filed before the OCA;[27] and (16) Joint Affidavit of respondent Atty. Calma and LR Ruiz.[28]
The Acting Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 18, Tagaytay City, submitted a status report and certified
copies of the pertinent documents in LRC Case Nos. TG-05-1103, TG-05-1104, TG-05-1105, and TG-05-
1141.[29]

After the formal offer of evidence and the admission of the exhibits, the parties were required to file
their respective memoranda. Only respondent Judge Larida, Jr. complied.

Accordingly, in her Report and Recommendation dated July 25, 2011, Justice Lazaro-Javier
recommended that Judge Larida, Jr., Atty. Calma and LR Ruiz be EXONERATED of the charges against them
for ignorance of the law. In sum, Justice Lazaro-Javier found that:

Complainants charge of gross ignorance of the law against respondents remains


unfounded and unsubstantiated. The evidence which complainant submitted, instead of helping
his cause, showed that it was he who was stubbornly remiss in his duties to his client and to
the court, as well. The evidence likewise showed that contrary to complainants accusation,
respondents in fact strictly complied with applicable laws, rules, and jurisprudence
pertaining to issuance of writs of possession or allowance of extrajudicial
foreclosure. Verily, complainant has, among others, unjustly inconvenienced and mentally
tortured respondents by dragging them into this unnecessary battle.Precious time, energy and
expense were wasted when the same could have been beneficially used for some other lawful
purpose beneficial to the interest of public service. [Emphasis supplied]

Now, the Court resolves.

After a thorough study of the case, the Court agrees with the evaluation and recommendation of
Justice Lazaro-Javier.

Notably, respondents are all charged with gross ignorance of the law for their alleged acts or omissions, as
follows:

Acts or Omission
Name Cases Charged

Judge Edwin Larida, Jr. LRC No. TG-05-1103 Issuing Order dated August
9, 2005 which set the
petition for hearing October
21, 2005

LRC No. TG-05-1105 Issuing Order dated August


11, 2005 which set the
petition for hearing
on October 21, 2005
LRC Nos. TG- a) Recognizing the
05-1103 and appearance of Atty. Ireneo
TG-05-1105 Anarna as oppositors
counsel;

b) Not requiring the


oppositors therein to file
guaranty bonds pursuant to
Section 47 of RA 8791.

LRC No. TG-05- For issuing Order dated 10


1141 July 2008 denying the Ex
Parte Joint Motion for Early
Resolution of Ex-Parte Joint
Petitions for the Issuance of
Writs of Possession in LRC
Nos. TG-05-1103, TG-05-
1104, TG-05-1105, and TG-
05-1141 on the ground that
CRBC had yet to present
evidence besides marking
of exhibits.

Atty. Stanlee Calma For not having lifted a


and finger, say, by placing the
Legal Researcher docket of those eight (8)
Diana Ruiz long pending cases beside
the other dockets already
placed on the Hon. Courts
working table by way of
requesting his Honor for
instruction or reminding his
Honor of the urgency of
action thereon, and
notwithstanding Mrs.
Ruiz[s] acknowledged
receipt of the written
instruction of the Hon.
Supreme Court
Administrator, dated
November 17, 2005 as to
how to act thereon.

As to respondent
Judge Edwin Larida, Jr.

According to complainant, it was Judge Larida Jr.s ministerial duty under Act 3135, specifically Sections
7[30] and 8[31] thereof, to issue the writs of possession in TG-05-1103, TG-05-1104, TG-05-1105, and TG-05-
1141. This being so, there was no need for him to still require applicant to present evidence as condition for
granting them. The fact that he did, nonetheless, was a clear defiance of his ministerial duty and rendered him
guilty of gross ignorance of the law.

Complainant is mistaken.

The ministerial character of judicial duty to issue writs of possession in extrajudicial foreclosure
proceedings is explained in the case of Saguan v. Philippine Bank of Communications. [32]
Thus:
A writ of possession is an order enforcing a judgment to allow a persons recovery of
possession of real or personal property. An instance when a writ of possession may issue is
under Act No. 3135, as amended by act No. 4118, on extrajudicial foreclosure of real estate
mortgage. Sections 6 and 7 provide, to wit:

Section 6. Redemption.In all cases in which an extrajudicial sale is made under


the special power herein before referred to, the debtor, his successors-in-interest
or any judicial creditor or judgment creditor of said debtor or any person having
a lien on the property subsequent to the mortgage or deed of trust under which
the property is sold, may redeem the same at anytime within the term of one
year from and after the date of the sale; and such redemption shall be governed
by the provisions of section four hundred and sixty-four hundred and sixty-six,
inclusive, of the Code of Civil Procedure, in so far as these are not inconsistent
with the provisions of this Act.

Section 7. Possession during redemption period.In any sale made under the
provisions of this Act, the purchaser may petition the Court of First Instance of
the province or place where the property or any part thereof is situated, to give
him possession thereof during the redemption period, furnishing bond in an
amount equivalent to the use of the property for a period of twelve months, to
indemnify the debtor in case it be shown that the same was made
without violating the mortgage or without complying with the requirements of
this Act. Such petition shall be made under oath and filed in [the] form of the ex-
parte motion in the registration or cadastral proceedings if the property is
registered, or in special proceedings in case of property registered under the
Mortgage Law or under section one hundred and ninety-four of the
Administrative Code, or of any other real property encumbered with a mortgage
duly registered in the office of any register of deeds in accordance with any
existing law, and in each case the clerk of court shall, upon the filing of such
petition, collect the fees specified in paragraph eleven of section one hundred
and fourteen of Act Number Four hundred and ninety-six, and the court shall ,
upon approval of the bond, order that a writ of possession issue, addressed to
the sheriff of the province in which the property is situated, who shall execute
said order immediately.

From the foregoing provisions, a writ of possession may be issued either (1) within the
one-year redemption period, upon the filing of a bond, or (2) after the lapse of the redemption
period, without need of a bond.

Within the redemption period the purchaser in a foreclosure sale may apply for a writ of
possession by filing for that purpose an ex-parte motion under oath, in the corresponding
registration or cadastral proceeding in the case of property covered by a Torrens title. Upon the
filing of an ex-parte motion and the approval of the corresponding bond, the court is expressly
directed to issue the order for a writ of possession.

On the other hand, after the lapse of the redemption period, a writ of possession may
be issued in favor of the purchaser in a foreclosure sale as the mortgagor is now considered to
have lost interest over the foreclosed property. Consequently, the purchaser, who has a right to
possession after the expiration of the redemption period, becomes the absolute owner of the
property when no redemption is made. In this regard, the bond is no longer needed. The
purchaser can demand possession at any time following the consolidation of ownership in his
name and the issuance to him of a new TCT. After consolidation of title in the purchasers name
for failure of the mortgagor to redeem the property, the purchasers right to possession ripens
into the absolute right of a confirmed owner. At that point, the issuance of a writ of
possession, upon proper application and proof of title, to a purchaser in an extrajudicial
foreclosure sale becomes merely a ministerial function. Effectively, the court cannot exercise its
discretion.

Therefore, the issuance by the RTC of a writ of possession in favor of the respondent in
this case is proper. We have consistently held that the duty of the trial court to grant a writ of
possession in such instances is ministerial, and the court may not exercise discretion or
judgment. The propriety of the issuance of the writ was heightened in this case where the
respondents right to possession of the properties extended after the expiration of the
redemption period, and became absolute upon the petitioners failure to redeem the mortgaged
properties. [Underscoring supplied]
Simply put, after all the requisite elements for issuance of a writ of possession, which
are: (1) consolidation of ownership in the mortgagors name; and (2) issuance to mortgagor of a new TCT,
shall have been duly established, the trial court has no choice but to issue the writ prayed for. It cannot
withhold, suspend, or otherwise deny this relief from petitioner.

In this case, Judge Larida Jr. denied complainants Urgent Ex-Parte Joint Motion for Early Resolution of
Ex-Parte Joint Petition for the Issuance of Writs of Possession in TG-05-1103, TG-05-1104, TG-05-1105, and
TG-05-1141 precisely because CRBC had yet to present evidence to establish its entitlement to the writs
prayed for.[33] As it was, complainant negatively reacted to Judge Larida Jr.s directive and accused him of
gross ignorance of the law for not instantly resolving the petitions, for ruling that his client had yet to present
evidence and for recognizing Atty. Anarnas appearance as oppositors counsel.

It is settled that a judge can be held liable for gross ignorance of the law if it can be shown that he
committed an error so gross and patent as to produce an inference of bad faith. In addition to this, the acts
complained of must not only be contrary to existing law and jurisprudence, but should also be motivated by
bad faith, fraud, dishonesty, and corruption.[34]

The reasons cited by complainant, far from constituting gross ignorance of the law, actually reflect
respondent Judge Larida Jr.s faithful adherence to his judicial duty to review the cases, serve due process to
all parties concerned, and to eventually decide the petitions based solely on law and evidence. Be that as it
may, respondent Judge Larida, Jr. has nothing more to do with these cases since his detail to RTC, Branch
74, Malabon City.

At any rate, the filing of this administrative complainant is not the proper remedy for
complainant. Complainant should have sought relief from higher courts. The filing of an administrative case
against the judge is not an alternative to the other judicial remedies provided by law; neither is it
complementary or supplementary to such actions. As regards this matter, the case of Atty. Flores v. Hon.
Abesamis[35] is enlightening:

As everyone knows, the law provides ample judicial remedies against errors or
irregularities being committed by a Trial Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction. The ordinary
remedies against errors or irregularities which may be regarded as normal in nature (i.e., error
in appreciation or admission of evidence, or in construction or application of procedural or
substantive law or legal principle) include a motion for reconsideration (or after rendition of a
judgment or final order, a motion for new trial), and appeal. The extraordinary remedies against
error or irregularities which may be deemed extraordinary in character (i.e., whimsical,
capricious, despotic exercise of power or neglect of duty, etc.) are inter alia the special civil
actions of certiorari, prohibition or mandamus, or a motion for inhibition, a petition for change
of venue, as the case may be.

Now, the established doctrine and policy is that disciplinary proceedings and criminal
actions against Judges are not complementary or suppletory of, nor a substitute for, these
judicial remedies, whether ordinary or extraordinary. Resort to and exhaustion of these judicial
remedies, as well as the entry of judgment in the corresponding action or proceeding, are pre-
requisites for the taking of other measures against the persons of the judges concerned,
whether of civil, administrative, or criminal nature. It is only after the available judicial remedies
have been exhausted and the appellate tribunals have spoken with finality, that the door to an
inquiry into his criminal, civil or administrative liability may be said to have opened, or closed.

Complainant also held against Judge Larida, Jr. his alleged failure to require oppositors to post guaranty
bonds in TG-05-1103, TG-05-1104, TG-05-1105, and TG-05-1141. Complainant invokes Section 47 of Republic
Act (R.A) No. 8791.[36]

Clearly, the provision cited by complainant refers to restraint of foreclosure proceedings which requires
posting of bond by one who seeks it. It does not apply to the present case wherein the subject properties had
already been foreclosed and sold at public auction. Thus, petitioners insistence for imposition of guaranty
bonds on the oppositors in TG-05-1103, TG-05-1104, TG-05-1105, and TG-05-1141 is misplaced. On this score
too, Judge Larida, Jr. cannot be accused of gross ignorance of the law for not imposing these bonds in the
cases mentioned.

As to respondents
Atty. Calma and
LR Ruiz

Records bear out that as early as March 17, 2004, then Assisting Judge Reuben dela Cruz of RTC
Branch 18, Tagaytay City, under Order[37] of even date, had already denied CRBCs petitions in CRBC v.
Spouses Pearanda, thus:

Hence, it is very evident, therefore, that there is no payment of the entry fees; there are
no docket numbers assigned and stamped on the cases; there are no proofs of service of the
notices of the Sheriff to the parties, particularly the mortgagors; there are no xerox copies of
the official receipts attached to the cases, except Spouses Pearanda; and that official receipts
issued do not cover the correct amounts and entries for each pertinent book of accounts, in
violation of RA 3135, as amended and the issuances of the Supreme Court.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the application for extra-judicial foreclosure of


mortgage of Spouses Jonathan and Yolanda Pearanda, Spouses Simon and Petronila
Peji; Celia M. Bay; Spouses Sixto and Norma Tolentino and Freddie Magno are hereby DENIED
for failure to comply with the requirements thereto.

SO ORDERED. [Italics supplied]

It is worth noting, too, that there were no pending motions for reconsideration filed or other incidents
initiated by complainant in the subject cases to warrant their entry in the court calendar. As a matter of fact,
complainant does not deny that the assailed Order dated March 17, 2004 had long attained finality. For Atty.
Calma and LR Ruiz to put them back in the court calendar, for no cogent reason at all, is obviously improper.

Finally, the trial court, through then Assisting Judge Reuben dela Cruz, had already spoken when it
denied the petitions in CRBC v. Spouses Pearanda. As stated, it was beyond Atty. Calma and LR Ruiz to order
the trial court what to do next with these cases. At that time, complainant had plain, speedy, and adequate
remedies available to him under the rules. He could have filed a motion for reconsideration or a petition for
certiorari from the Order of denial dated March 17, 2004 but he did not. What complainant failed to do as a
judicial remedy, he cannot revive through an administrative complaint against these court employees. It bears
pointing out that it was only on August 26, 2008 or more than four years since the Order of March 17,
2004 was issued when the complainant unfairly turned his ire on these innocent and helpless respondents by
wrongly accusing them in this administrative case.

Clearly, this is a frivolous and baseless complaint. The respondents cannot be held liable for judiciously
performing their sworn duty to observe and follow court proceedings as provided by the Rules. Complainant
apparently filed this complaint primarily to divert the attention of his client from his shortcomings as its
counsel, if not to simply harass the respondents. At this juncture, the Court finds it worth quoting again the
conclusion of the Investigating Justice Lazaro-Javier, to wit:

Complainants charge of gross ignorance of the law against respondents


remains unfounded and unsubstantiated. The evidence which complainant submitted,
instead of helping his cause, showed that it was he who was stubbornly remiss in his duties
to his client and to the court, as well. The evidence likewise showed that contrary to
complainants accusation, respondents in fact strictly complied with applicable laws, rules, and
jurisprudence pertaining to issuance of writs of possession or allowance of extrajudicial
foreclosure. Verily, complainant has, among others, unjustly inconvenienced and mentally
tortured respondents by dragging them into this unnecessary battle.Precious time, energy
and expense were wasted when the same could have been beneficially used for some other
lawful purpose beneficial to the interest of public service. [Emphases supplied]
A repeat of this cannot be tolerated.

This administrative charge seeks to cast doubt on the integrity of respondent judge, the judicial
personnel and the court which they represent, in flagrant abdication of the bounden responsibility of
a lawyer to observe and maintain the respect due to courts of justice. As an officer of the court, a lawyer has
the sworn duty to assist in, not to impede or pervert, the administration of justice.[38] Lawyers must always
keep in perspective the thought that since lawyers are administrators of justice, oath-bound servants of
society, their first duty is not to their clients, as many suppose, but to the administration of justice; to this,
their clients' success is wholly subordinate; and their conduct ought to and must be scrupulously observant of
law and ethics."[39]

A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court itself, an instrument or agency
to advance the ends of justice." His duty is to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts to
which he owes fidelity, "not to promote distrust in the administration of justice." Faith in the
courts a lawyer should seek to preserve. For, to undermine the judicial edifice "is disastrous to
the continuity of government and to the attainment of the liberties of the people."[40]

A lawyer who files an unfounded complaint must be sanctioned because, as an officer of the court, he
does not discharge his duty by filing frivolous petitions that only add to the workload of the
judiciary. Such filing of baseless complaints is contemptuous of the courts.[41]

WHEREFORE, as recommended by Court of Appeals Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, the


complaint against respondents Judge Edwin G. Larida, Jr., Clerk of Court Stanlee D. Calma and Legal
Researcher Diana G. Ruiz, all of Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Tagaytay City, for gross ignorance of the law
is DISMISSED for utter lack of merit.

Complainant Atty. Emmanuel R. Andamo is hereby ordered to SHOW CAUSE why he should not be
subjected to disciplinary action for filing a frivolous and baseless complaint against the respondent judiciary
personnel, within ten (10) days from receipt hereof.

G.R. No. 102781. April 22, 1993.

BONIFACIO SANZ MACEDA, Presiding Judge, Branch 12, Regional Trial Court, Antique, petitioner,
vs.
HON. OMBUDSMAN CONRADO M. VASQUEZ AND ATTY. NAPOLEON A. ABIERA, respondents.

Bonifacio Sanz Maceda for and in his own behalf.

Public Attorney's Office for private respondent.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; JURISDICTION; OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN HAS JURISDICTION TO INVESTIGATE


OFFENSE COMMITTED BY JUDGE WHETHER OR NOT OFFENSE RELATES TO OFFICIAL DUTIES; REASON. —
Petitioner also contends that the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over said cases despite this Court's ruling in
Orap vs. Sandiganbayan, since the offense charged arose from the judge's performance of his official duties,
which is under the control and supervision of the Supreme Court . . . The Court disagrees with the first part of
petitioner's basic argument. There is nothing in the decision in Orap that would restrict it only to offenses
committed by a judge unrelated to his official duties. A judge who falsifies his certificate of service is
administratively liable to the Supreme Court for serious misconduct and inefficiency under Section 1, Rule 140
of the Rules of Court, and criminally liable to the State under the Revised Penal Code for his felonious act.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; JURISDICTION TO INVESTIGATE OFFENSE RELATED TO OFFICIAL DUTIES SUBJECT TO
PRIOR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TAKEN AGAINST JUDGE BY SUPREME COURT; REASON. — However, We
agree with petitioner that in the absence of any administrative action taken against him by this Court with
regard to his certificates of service, the investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman encroaches into the
Court's power of administrative supervision over all courts and its personnel, in violation of the doctrine of
separation of powers.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PROCEDURE TO BE OBSERVED BY OMBUDSMAN REGARDING COMPLAINT AGAINST
JUDGE OR OTHER COURT EMPLOYEE; PURPOSE. — Thus, the Ombudsman should first refer the matter of
petitioner's certificates of service to this Court for determination of whether said certificates reflected the true
status of his pending case load, as the Court has the necessary records to make such a determination . . . In
fine, where a criminal complaint against a judge or other court employee arises from their administrative
duties, the Ombudsman must defer action on said complaint and refer the same to this Court for
determination whether said judge or court employee had acted within the scope of their administrative duties.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; OMBUDSMAN CANNOT SUBPOENA SUPREME COURT AND ITS PERSONNEL; REASON. —
The Ombudsman cannot compel this Court, as one of the three branches of government, to submit its records,
or to allow its personnel to testify on this matter, as suggested by public respondent Abiera in his affidavit-
complaint. The rationale for the foregoing pronouncement is evident in this case. Administratively, the
question before Us is this: should a judge, having been granted by this Court an extension of time to decide
cases before him, report these cases in his certificate of service? As this question had not yet been raised with,
much less resolved by, this Court, how could the Ombudsman resolve the present criminal complaint that
requires the resolution of said question?

DECISION

NOCON, J p:

The issue in this petition for certiorari with prayer for preliminary mandatory injunction and/or restraining
order is whether the Office of the Ombudsman could entertain a criminal complaint for the alleged falsification
of a judge's certification submitted to the Supreme Court, and assuming that it can, whether a referral should
be made first to the Supreme Court.

Petitioner Bonifacio Sanz Maceda, Presiding Judge of Branch 12 of the Regional Trial Court of Antique, seeks
the review of the following orders of the Office of the Ombudsman: (1) the Order dated September 18, 1991
denying the ex-parte motion to refer to the Supreme Court filed by petitioner; and (2) the Order dated
November 22, 1951 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration and directing petitioner to file his counter-
affidavit and other controverting evidences.

In his affidavit-complaint dated April 18, 1991 filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, respondent Napoleon
A. Abiera of the Public Attorney's Office alleged that petitioner had falsified his Certificate of Service 1 dated
February 6, 1989, by certifying "that all civil and criminal cases which have been submitted for decision or
determination for a period of 90 days have been determined and decided on or before January 31, 1998,"
when in truth and in fact, petitioner knew that no decision had been rendered in five (5) civil and ten (10)
criminal cases that have been submitted for decision. Respondent Abiera further alleged that petitioner
similarly falsified his certificates of service for the months of February, April, May, June, July and August, all in
1989; and the months beginning January up to September 1990, or for a total of seventeen (17) months.

On the other hand, petitioner contends that he had been granted by this Court an extension of ninety (90)
days to decide the aforementioned cases.

Petitioner also contends that the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over said case despite this Court's ruling in
Orap vs. Sandiganbayan, 2 since the offense charged arose from the judge's performance of his official duties,
which is under the control and supervision of the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the investigation of the
Ombudsman constitutes an encroachment into the Supreme Court's constitutional duty of supervision over all
inferior courts.

The Court disagrees with the first Part of petitioner's basic argument. There is nothing in the decision in Orap
that would restrict it only to offenses committed by a judge unrelated to his official duties. A judge who
falsifies his certificate of service is administratively liable to the Supreme Court for serious misconduct and
inefficiency under Section 1, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, and criminally liable to the State under the
Revised Penal Code for his felonious act.

However, We agree with petitioner that in the absence of any administrative action taken against him by this
Court with regard to his certificates of service, the investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman
encroaches into the Court's power of administrative supervision over all courts and its personnel, in violation of
the doctrine of separation of powers.

Article VIII, section 6 of the 1987 Constitution exclusively vests in the Supreme Court administrative
supervision over all courts and court personnel, from the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals down to the
lowest municipal trial court clerk. By virtue of this power, it is only the Supreme Court that can oversee the
judges' and court personnel's compliance with all laws, and take the proper administrative action against them
if they commit any violation thereof. No other branch of government may intrude into this power, without
running afoul of the doctrine of separation of powers.

The Ombudsman cannot justify its investigation of petitioner on the powers granted to it by the Constitution, 3
for such a justification not only runs counter to the specific mandate of the Constitution granting supervisory
powers to the Supreme Court over all courts and their personnel, but likewise undermines the independence of
the judiciary.

Thus, the Ombudsman should first refer the matter of petitioner's certificates of service to this Court for
determination of whether said certificates reflected the true status of his pending case load, as the Court has
the necessary records to make such a determination. The Ombudsman cannot compel this Court, as one of the
three branches of government, to submit its records, or to allow its personnel to testify on this matter, as
suggested by public respondent Abiera in his affidavit-complaint. 4

The rationale for the foregoing pronouncement is evident in this case. Administratively. the question before Us
is this: should a judge, having been granted by this Court an extension of time to decide cases before him,
report these cases in his certificate of service? As this question had not yet been raised with, much less
resolved by, this Court. how could the Ombudsman resolve the present criminal complaint that requires the
resolution of said question?

In fine, where a criminal complaint against a Judge or other court employee arises from their administrative
duties, the Ombudsman must defer action on said complaint and refer the same to this Court for
determination whether said Judge or court employee had acted within the scope of their administrative duties.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The Ombudsman is hereby directed to dismiss the
complaint filed by public respondent Atty. Napoleon A. Abiera and to refer the same to this Court for
appropriate action.

EN BANC

ATTY. CARMEN LEONOR M. A.C. No. 5859


ALCANTARA, VICENTE P. MERCADO,
(Formerly CBD Case No. 421)
SEVERINO P. MERCADO AND
SPOUSES JESUS AND ROSARIO
MERCADO, Present:
Complainants,

CORONA, C.J.,

CARPIO,

CARPIO MORALES,

VELASCO, JR.,

NACHURA,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
- versus - BRION,

PERALTA,

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,

VILLARAMA, JR.,

PEREZ,

MENDOZA, and

SERENO, JJ.

ATTY. EDUARDO C. DE VERA, Promulgated:

Respondent.
November 23, 2010

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

RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:

For our review is the Resolution[1]of the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) finding respondent Atty. Eduardo C. De Vera liable for professional
malpractice and gross misconduct and recommending his disbarment.

The facts, as appreciated by the investigating commissioner,[2]are undisputed.

The respondent is a member of the Bar and was the former counsel of Rosario P.
Mercado in a civil case filed in 1984 with the Regional Trial Court of Davao City and an
administrative case filed before the Securities and Exchange Commission, Davao City Extension
Office.[3]

Pursuant to a favorable decision, a writ of execution pending appeal was issued in favor
of Rosario P. Mercado. Herein respondent, as her legal counsel, garnished the bank deposits of
the defendant, but did not turn over the proceeds to Rosario. Rosario demanded that the
respondent turn over the proceeds of the garnishment, but the latter refused claiming that he
had paid part of the money to the judge while the balance was his, as attorneys fees. Such
refusal prompted Rosario to file an administrative case for disbarment against the
respondent.[4]

On March 23, 1993, the IBP Board of Governors promulgated a Resolution holding the
respondent guilty of infidelity in the custody and handling of clients funds and recommending
to the Court his one-year suspension from the practice of law.[5]

Following the release of the aforesaid IBP Resolution, the respondent filed a series of
lawsuits against the Mercado family except George Mercado. The respondent also instituted
cases against the family corporation, the corporations accountant and the judge who ruled
against the reopening of the case where respondent tried to collect the balance of his alleged
fee from Rosario. Later on, the respondent also filed cases against the chairman and members
of the IBP Board of Governors who voted to recommend his suspension from the practice of
law for one year. Complainants allege that the respondent committed barratry, forum
shopping, exploitation of family problems, and use of intemperate language when he filed
several frivolous and unwarranted lawsuits against the complainants and their family
members, their lawyers, and the family corporation.[6]They maintain that the primary purpose
of the cases is to harass and to exact revenge for the one-year suspension from the practice of
law meted out by the IBP against the respondent. Thus, they pray that the respondent be
disbarred for malpractice and gross misconduct under Section 27,[7]Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court.

In his defense the respondent basically offers a denial of the charges against him.

He denies he has committed barratry by instigating or stirring up George Mercado to file


lawsuits against the complainants. He insists that the lawsuits that he and George filed against the
complainants were not harassment suits but were in fact filed in good faith and were based on
strong facts.[8]

Also, the respondent denies that he has engaged in forum shopping. He argues that he
was merely exhausting the remedies allowed by law and that he was merely constrained to
seek relief elsewhere by reason of the denial of the trial court to reopen the civil case so he
could justify his attorneys fees.

Further, he denies that he had exploited the problems of his clients family. He argues
that the case that he and George Mercado filed against the complainants arose from their
perception of unlawful transgressions committed by the latter for which they must be held
accountable for the public interest.

Finally, the respondent denies using any intemperate, vulgar, or unprofessional


language. On the contrary, he asserts that it was the complainants who resorted to intemperate
and vulgar language in accusing him of extorting from Rosario shocking and unconscionable
attorneys fees.[9]

After careful consideration of the records of this case and the parties submissions, we
find ourselves in agreement with the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board of
Governors.

It is worth stressing that the practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the
State upon those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications
required by law for the conferment of such privilege.[10] Membership in the bar is a privilege
burdened with conditions. A lawyer has the privilege and right to practice law only during
good behavior and can only be deprived of it for misconduct ascertained and declared by
judgment of the court after opportunity to be heard has been afforded him. Without invading
any constitutional privilege or right, an attorneys right to practice law may be resolved by a
proceeding to suspend or disbar him, based on conduct rendering him unfit to hold a license
or to exercise the duties and responsibilities of an attorney. It must be understood that the
purpose of suspending or disbarring an attorney is to remove from the profession a person
whose misconduct has proved him unfit to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities
belonging to an office of an attorney, and thus to protect the public and those charged with
the administration of justice, rather than to punish the attorney.[11]In Maligsa v.
Cabanting,[12]we explained that the bar should maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as
well as of honesty and fair dealing. A lawyer brings honor to the legal profession by faithfully
performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. To this end a
member of the legal profession should refrain from doing any act which might lessen in any
degree the confidence and trust reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of
the legal profession. An attorney may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath
or of his duties as an attorney and counselor, which include statutory grounds enumerated in
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
In the present case, the respondent committed professional malpractice and gross
misconduct particularly in his acts against his former clients after the issuance of the IBP
Resolution suspending him from the practice of law for one year. In summary, the respondent
filed against his former client, her family members, the family corporation of his former client,
the Chairman and members of the Board of Governors of the IBP who issued the said
Resolution, the Regional Trial Court Judge in the case where his former client received a
favorable judgment, and the present counsel of his former client, a total of twelve (12)
different cases in various fora which included the Securities and Exchange Commission; the
Provincial Prosecutors Office of Tagum, Davao; the Davao City Prosecutors Office; the IBP-
Commission on Bar Discipline; the Department of Agrarian Reform; and the Supreme Court.[13]

In addition to the twelve (12) cases filed, the respondent also re-filed cases which had
previously been dismissed. The respondent filed six criminal cases against members of the
Mercado family separately docketed as I.S. Nos. 97-135; 97-136; 97-137; 97-138; 97-139; and
97-140. With the exception of I.S. No. 97-139, all the aforementioned cases are re-filing of
previously dismissed cases.[14]

Now, there is nothing ethically remiss in a lawyer who files numerous cases in different
fora, as long as he does so in good faith, in accordance with the Rules, and without any ill-
motive or purpose other than to achieve justice and fairness. In the present case, however, we
find that the barrage of cases filed by the respondent against his former client and others close
to her was meant to overwhelm said client and to show her that the respondent does not fold
easily after he was meted a penalty of one year suspension from the practice of law.

The nature of the cases filed by the respondent, the fact of re-filing them after being
dismissed, the timing of the filing of cases, the fact that the respondent was in conspiracy with
a renegade member of the complainants family, the defendants named in the cases and the
foul language used in the pleadings and motions[15]all indicate that the respondent was acting
beyond the desire for justice and fairness. His act of filing a barrage of cases appears to be an
act of revenge and hate driven by anger and frustration against his former client who filed the
disciplinary complaint against him for infidelity in the custody of a clients funds.

In the case of Prieto v. Corpuz,[16]the Court pronounced that it is professionally


irresponsible for a lawyer to file frivolous lawsuits. Thus, we stated in Prieto,
Atty. Marcos V. Prieto must be sanctioned for filing this unfounded complaint. Although no person
should be penalized for the exercise of the right to litigate, however, this right must be exercised in good
faith.[17]

As officers of the court, lawyers have a responsibility to assist in the proper administration of justice.
They do not discharge this duty by filing frivolous petitions that only add to the workload of the
judiciary.

A lawyer is part of the machinery in the administration of justice. Like the court itself, he is an
instrument to advance its ends the speedy, efficient, impartial, correct and inexpensive adjudication of
cases and the prompt satisfaction of final judgments. A lawyer should not only help attain these
objectives but should likewise avoid any unethical or improper practices that impede, obstruct or
prevent their realization, charged as he is with the primary task of assisting in the speedy and efficient
administration of justice.[18]Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility promulgated on 21 June
1988 is very explicit that lawyers must exert every effort and consider it their duty to assist in the speedy
and efficient administration of justice.

Further, the respondent not only filed frivolous and unfounded lawsuits that violated his
duties as an officer of the court in aiding in the proper administration of justice, but he did so
against a former client to whom he owes loyalty and fidelity. Canon 21 and Rule 21.02 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility[19]provides:
CANON 21 - A lawyer shall preserve the confidence and secrets of his client even after the attorney-
client relation is terminated.

Rule 21.02 A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his client, use information acquired in the course of
employment, nor shall he use the same to his own advantage or that of a third person, unless the client
with full knowledge of the circumstances consents thereto.

The cases filed by the respondent against his former client involved matters and
information acquired by the respondent during the time when he was still Rosarios counsel.
Information as to the structure and operations of the family corporation, private documents,
and other pertinent facts and figures used as basis or in support of the cases filed by the
respondent in pursuit of his malicious motives were all acquired through the attorney-client
relationship with herein complainants. Such act is in direct violation of the Canons and will not
be tolerated by the Court.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Eduardo C. De Vera is hereby DISBARRED from the


practice of law effective immediately upon his receipt of this Resolution.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Bar Confidant to be spread on the records
of the respondent; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters; and
the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts throughout the country.

SO ORDERED.

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

Associate Justice Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

Associate Justice Associate Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice Associate Justice


DIOSDADO M. PERALTA LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA MARIA LOURDES P. A.


SERENOAssociate Justice
Associate Justice