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B.M. No.

1678 December 17, 2007 Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as furnishing
PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW, satisfactory proof of educational, moral and other qualifications;7 passing the
BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner. bar examinations;8 taking the lawyer’s oath9 and signing the roll of attorneys
RESOLUTION and receiving from the clerk of court of this Court a certificate of the license to
CORONA, J.: practice.10
This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay for The second requisite for the practice of law ― membership in good standing
leave to resume the practice of law. ― is a continuing requirement. This means continued membership and,
Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He practiced law concomitantly, payment of annual membership dues in the IBP;11 payment of
until he migrated to Canada in December 1998 to seek medical attention for the annual professional tax;12 compliance with the mandatory continuing legal
his ailments. He subsequently applied for Canadian citizenship to avail of education requirement;13 faithful observance of the rules and ethics of the
Canada’s free medical aid program. His application was approved and he legal profession and being continually subject to judicial disciplinary control.14
became a Canadian citizen in May 2004. Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino citizenship still
On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship Retention practice law in the Philippines? No.
and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003), petitioner reacquired his Philippine The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the Philippines
citizenship.1 On that day, he took his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen shall be limited to Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law.15 Since
before the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof
returned to the Philippines and now intends to resume his law practice. There terminates membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege
is a question, however, whether petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay lost his to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino
membership in the Philippine bar when he gave up his Philippine citizenship citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines.
in May 2004. Thus, this petition. The practice of law is a privilege denied to foreigners.16
In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the Bar Confidant cites The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as
Section 2, Rule 138 (Attorneys and Admission to Bar) of the Rules of Court: a citizen of another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225.
SECTION 2. Requirements for all applicants for admission to the This is because "all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country
bar. – Every applicant for admission as a member of the bar must shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the
be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, conditions of [RA 9225]."17Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen
of good moral character, and a resident of the Philippines; and must of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he
produce before the Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of good reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed
moral character, and that no charges against him, involving moral never to have terminated his membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic
turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the right to resume law practice accrues.
Philippines. Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the
Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant opines that, by virtue of Philippines and he reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions
his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, in 2006, petitioner has again met all "(he) shall apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in
the qualifications and has none of the disqualifications for membership in the such practice."18 Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino
bar. It recommends that he be allowed to resume the practice of law in the citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first
Philippines, conditioned on his retaking the lawyer’s oath to remind him of his secure from this Court the authority to do so, conditioned on:
duties and responsibilities as a member of the Philippine bar. (a) the updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues
We approve the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant with certain in the IBP;
modifications. (b) the payment of professional tax;
The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.2 It is so delicately (c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory
affected with public interest that it is both a power and a duty of the State continuing legal education; this is specially significant to refresh the
(through this Court) to control and regulate it in order to protect and promote applicant/petitioner’s knowledge of Philippine laws and update him
the public welfare.3 of legal developments and
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest (d) the retaking of the lawyer’s oath which will not only remind
degree of morality, faithful observance of the rules of the legal profession, him of his duties and responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer
compliance with the mandatory continuing legal education requirement and of the Court, but also renew his pledge to maintain allegiance to the
payment of membership fees to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are Republic of the Philippines.
the conditions required for membership in good standing in the bar and for Compliance with these conditions will restore his good standing as a member
enjoying the privilege to practice law. Any breach by a lawyer of any of these of the Philippine bar.
conditions makes him unworthy of the trust and confidence which the courts WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Benjamin M. Dacanay is
and clients repose in him for the continued exercise of his professional hereby GRANTED, subject to compliance with the conditions stated above
privilege.4 and submission of proof of such compliance to the Bar Confidant, after which
Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides: he may retake his oath as a member of the Philippine bar.
SECTION 1. Who may practice law. – Any person heretofore duly SO ORDERED.
admitted as a member of the bar, or thereafter admitted as such in
BAR MATTER No. 914 October 1, 1999
accordance with the provisions of this Rule, and who is in good and
regular standing, is entitled to practice law.
BAR,vs. VICENTE D. CHING, applicant.
Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the Philippine bar in
accordance with the statutory requirements and who is in good and regular
standing is entitled to practice law.
Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of Court
Can a legitimate child born under the 1935 Constitution of a Filipino
mandates that an applicant for admission to the bar be a citizen of the
mother and an alien father validly elect Philippine citizenship fourteen
Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character and a
(14) years after he has reached the age of majority? This is the
resident of the Philippines.5 He must also produce before this Court
question sought to be resolved in the present case involving the
satisfactory evidence of good moral character and that no charges against
application for admission to the Philippine Bar of Vicente D. Ching.
him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in
The facts of this case are as follows:
the Philippines.6
Vicente D. Ching, the legitimate son of the spouses Tat Ching, a Ching to elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with C.A. No. 625
Chinese citizen, and Prescila A. Dulay, a Filipino, was born in Francia prior to taking his oath as a member of the Philippine Bar.
West, Tubao, La Union on 11 April 1964. Since his birth, Ching has On 27 July 1999, Ching filed a Manifestation, attaching therewith his
resided in the Philippines. Affidavit of Election of Philippine Citizenship and his Oath of
On 17 July 1998, Ching, after having completed a Bachelor of Laws Allegiance, both dated 15 July 1999. In his Manifestation, Ching
course at the St. Louis University in Baguio City, filed an application states:
to take the 1998 Bar Examinations. In a Resolution of this Court, 1. I have always considered myself as a Filipino;
dated 1 September 1998, he was allowed to take the Bar 2. I was registered as a Filipino and consistently declared myself as
Examinations, subject to the condition that he must submit to the one in my school records and other official documents;
Court proof of his Philippine citizenship. 3. I am practicing a profession (Certified Public Accountant) reserved
In compliance with the above resolution, Ching submitted on 18 for Filipino citizens;
November 1998, the following documents: 4. I participated in electoral process[es] since the time I was eligible
1. Certification, dated 9 June 1986, issued by the Board of to vote;
Accountancy of the Professional Regulations Commission showing 5. I had served the people of Tubao, La Union as a member of the
that Ching is a certified public accountant; Sangguniang Bayan from 1992 to 1995;
2. Voter Certification, dated 14 June 1997, issued by Elizabeth B. 6. I elected Philippine citizenship on July 15, 1999 in accordance with
Cerezo, Election Officer of the Commission on Elections Commonwealth Act No. 625;
(COMELEC) in Tubao La Union showing that Ching is a registered 7. My election was expressed in a statement signed and sworn to by
voter of the said place; and me before a notary public;
3. Certification, dated 12 October 1998, also issued by Elizabeth B. 8. I accompanied my election of Philippine citizenship with the oath
Cerezo, showing that Ching was elected as a member of the of allegiance to the Constitution and the Government of the
Sangguniang Bayan of Tubao, La Union during the 12 May 1992 Philippines;
synchronized elections. 9. I filed my election of Philippine citizenship and my oath of
On 5 April 1999, the results of the 1998 Bar Examinations were allegiance to (sic) the Civil Registrar of Tubao La Union, and
released and Ching was one of the successful Bar examinees. The 10. I paid the amount of TEN PESOS (Ps. 10.00) as filing fees.
oath-taking of the successful Bar examinees was scheduled on 5 Since Ching has already elected Philippine citizenship on 15 July
May 1999. However, because of the questionable status of Ching's 1999, the question raised is whether he has elected Philippine
citizenship, he was not allowed to take his oath. Pursuant to the citizenship within a "reasonable time." In the affirmative, whether his
resolution of this Court, dated 20 April 1999, he was required to citizenship by election retroacted to the time he took the bar
submit further proof of his citizenship. In the same resolution, the examination.
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) was required to file a comment When Ching was born in 1964, the governing charter was the 1935
on Ching's petition for admission to the bar and on the documents Constitution. Under Article IV, Section 1(3) of the 1935 Constitution,
evidencing his Philippine citizenship. the citizenship of a legitimate child born of a Filipino mother and an
The OSG filed its comment on 8 July 1999, stating that Ching, being alien father followed the citizenship of the father, unless, upon
the "legitimate child of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother born reaching the age of majority, the child elected Philippine
under the 1935 Constitution was a Chinese citizen and continued to citizenship. 4 This right to elect Philippine citizenship was recognized
be so, unless upon reaching the age of majority he elected Philippine in the 1973 Constitution when it provided that "(t)hose who elect
citizenship" 1 in strict compliance with the provisions of Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of
Commonwealth Act No. 625 entitled "An Act Providing for the Manner nineteen hundred and thirty-five" are citizens of the
in which the Option to Elect Philippine Citizenship shall be Declared Philippines. 5 Likewise, this recognition by the 1973 Constitution was
by a Person Whose Mother is a Filipino Citizen." The OSG adds that carried over to the 1987 Constitution which states that "(t)hose born
"(w)hat he acquired at best was only an inchoate Philippine before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine
citizenship which he could perfect by election upon reaching the age citizenship upon reaching the age of majority" are Philippine
of majority." 2 In this regard, the OSG clarifies that "two (2) conditions citizens. 6 It should be noted, however, that the 1973 and 1987
must concur in order that the election of Philippine citizenship may Constitutional provisions on the election of Philippine citizenship
be effective, namely: (a) the mother of the person making the election should not be understood as having a curative effect on any
must be a citizen of the Philippines; and (b) said election must be irregularity in the acquisition of citizenship for those covered by the
made upon reaching the age of majority." 3 The OSG then explains 1935 Constitution. 7 If the citizenship of a person was subject to
the meaning of the phrase "upon reaching the age of majority:" challenge under the old charter, it remains subject to challenge under
The clause "upon reaching the age of majority" has been construed the new charter even if the judicial challenge had not been
to mean a reasonable time after reaching the age of majority which commenced before the effectivity of the new Constitution. 8
had been interpreted by the Secretary of Justice to be three (3) years C.A. No. 625 which was enacted pursuant to Section 1(3), Article IV
(VELAYO, supra at p. 51 citing Op., Sec. of Justice No. 70, s. 1940, of the 1935 Constitution, prescribes the procedure that should be
Feb. 27, 1940). Said period may be extended under certain followed in order to make a valid election of Philippine citizenship.
circumstances, as when a (sic) person concerned has always Under Section 1 thereof, legitimate children born of Filipino mothers
considered himself a Filipino (ibid., citing Op. Nos. 355 and 422, s. may elect Philippine citizenship by expressing such intention "in a
1955; 3, 12, 46, 86 and 97, s. 1953). But in Cuenco, it was held that statement to be signed and sworn to by the party concerned before
an election done after over seven (7) years was not made within a any officer authorized to administer oaths, and shall be filed with the
reasonable time. nearest civil registry. The said party shall accompany the aforesaid
In conclusion, the OSG points out that Ching has not formally elected statement with the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the
Philippine citizenship and, if ever he does, it would already be beyond Government of the Philippines."
the "reasonable time" allowed by present jurisprudence. However, However, the 1935 Constitution and C.A. No. 625 did not prescribe a
due to the peculiar circumstances surrounding Ching's case, the time period within which the election of Philippine citizenship should
OSG recommends the relaxation of the standing rule on the be made. The 1935 Charter only provides that the election should be
construction of the phrase "reasonable period" and the allowance of made "upon reaching the age of majority." The age of majority then
commenced upon reaching twenty-one (21) years. 9 In the opinions
of the Secretary of Justice on cases involving the validity of election Esteban Mallare, natural child of Ana Mallare, a Filipina, is therefore
of Philippine citizenship, this dilemma was resolved by basing the himself a Filipino, and no other act would be necessary to confer on
time period on the decisions of this Court prior to the effectivity of the him all the rights and privileges attached to Philippine citizenship
1935 Constitution. In these decisions, the proper period for electing (U.S. vs. Ong Tianse, 29 Phil. 332; Santos Co vs. Government of the
Philippine citizenship was, in turn, based on the pronouncements of Philippine Islands, 42 Phil. 543, Serra vs. Republic, L-4223, May 12,
the Department of State of the United States Government to the 1952, Sy Quimsuan vs. Republic, L-4693, Feb. 16, 1953; Pitallano
effect that the election should be made within a "reasonable time" vs. Republic, L-5111, June 28, 1954). Neither could any act be taken
after attaining the age of majority. 10 The phrase "reasonable time" on the erroneous belief that he is a non-filipino divest him of the
has been interpreted to mean that the election should be made within citizenship privileges to which he is rightfully entitled. 17
three (3) years from reaching the age of The ruling in Mallare was reiterated and further elaborated in Co
majority. 11 However, we held in Cuenco vs. Secretary of vs. Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives, 18 where we
Justice, 12 that the three (3) year period is not an inflexible rule. We held:
said: We have jurisprudence that defines "election" as both a formal and
It is true that this clause has been construed to mean a reasonable an informal process.
period after reaching the age of majority, and that the Secretary of In the case of In re: Florencio Mallare (59 SCRA 45 [1974]), the Court
Justice has ruled that three (3) years is the reasonable time to elect held that the exercise of the right of suffrage and the participation in
Philippine citizenship under the constitutional provision adverted to election exercises constitute a positive act of election of Philippine
above, which period may be extended under certain circumstances, citizenship. In the exact pronouncement of the Court, we held:
as when the person concerned has always considered himself a Esteban's exercise of the right of suffrage when he came of age
Filipino. 13 constitutes a positive act of Philippine citizenship. (p. 52: emphasis
However, we cautioned in Cuenco that the extension of the option to supplied)
elect Philippine citizenship is not indefinite: The private respondent did more than merely exercise his right of
Regardless of the foregoing, petitioner was born on February 16, suffrage. He has established his life here in the Philippines.
1923. He became of age on February 16, 1944. His election of For those in the peculiar situation of the respondent who cannot be
citizenship was made on May 15, 1951, when he was over twenty- excepted to have elected Philippine citizenship as they were already
eight (28) years of age, or over seven (7) years after he had reached citizens, we apply the In Re Mallare rule.
the age of majority. It is clear that said election has not been made xxx xxx xxx
"upon reaching the age of majority." 14 The filing of sworn statement or formal declaration is a requirement
In the present case, Ching, having been born on 11 April 1964, was for those who still have to elect citizenship. For those already
already thirty-five (35) years old when he complied with the Filipinos when the time to elect came up, there are acts of deliberate
requirements of C.A. No. 625 on 15 June 1999, or over fourteen (14) choice which cannot be less binding. Entering a profession open only
years after he had reached the age of majority. Based on the to Filipinos, serving in public office where citizenship is a qualification,
interpretation of the phrase "upon reaching the age of majority," voting during election time, running for public office, and other
Ching's election was clearly beyond, by any reasonable yardstick, the categorical acts of similar nature are themselves formal
allowable period within which to exercise the privilege. It should be manifestations for these persons.
stated, in this connection, that the special circumstances invoked by An election of Philippine citizenship presupposes that the person
Ching, i.e., his continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines electing is an alien. Or his status is doubtful because he is a national
and his being a certified public accountant, a registered voter and a of two countries. There is no doubt in this case about Mr. Ong's being
former elected public official, cannot vest in him Philippine citizenship a Filipino when he turned twenty-one (21).
as the law specifically lays down the requirements for acquisition of We repeat that any election of Philippine citizenship on the part of the
Philippine citizenship by election. private respondent would not only have been superfluous but it would
Definitely, the so-called special circumstances cannot constitute also have resulted in an absurdity. How can a Filipino citizen elect
what Ching erroneously labels as informal election of citizenship. Philippine citizenship? 19
Ching cannot find a refuge in the case of In re: Florencio The Court, like the OSG, is sympathetic with the plight of Ching.
Mallare, 15 the pertinent portion of which reads: However, even if we consider the special circumstances in the life of
And even assuming arguendo that Ana Mallare were (sic) legally Ching like his having lived in the Philippines all his life and his
married to an alien, Esteban's exercise of the right of suffrage when consistent belief that he is a Filipino, controlling statutes and
he came of age, constitutes a positive act of election of Philippine jurisprudence constrain us to disagree with the recommendation of
citizenship. It has been established that Esteban Mallare was a the OSG. Consequently, we hold that Ching failed to validly elect
registered voter as of April 14, 1928, and that as early as 1925 (when Philippine citizenship. The span of fourteen (14) years that lapsed
he was about 22 years old), Esteban was already participating in the from the time he reached the age of majority until he finally expressed
elections and campaigning for certain candidate[s]. These acts are his intention to elect Philippine citizenship is clearly way beyond the
sufficient to show his preference for Philippine citizenship. 16 contemplation of the requirement of electing "upon reaching the age
Ching's reliance on Mallare is misplaced. The facts and of majority." Moreover, Ching has offered no reason why he delayed
circumstances obtaining therein are very different from those in the his election of Philippine citizenship. The prescribed procedure in
present case, thus, negating its applicability. First, electing Philippine citizenship is certainly not a tedious and
Esteban Mallare was born before the effectivity of the 1935 painstaking process. All that is required of the elector is to execute
Constitution and the enactment of C.A. No. 625. Hence, the an affidavit of election of Philippine citizenship and, thereafter, file the
requirements and procedures prescribed under the 1935 Constitution same with the nearest civil registry. Ching's unreasonable and
and C.A. No. 625 for electing Philippine citizenship would not be unexplained delay in making his election cannot be simply glossed
applicable to him. Second, the ruling in Mallare was an obiter since, over.
as correctly pointed out by the OSG, it was not necessary for Esteban Philippine citizenship can never be treated like a commodity that can
Mallare to elect Philippine citizenship because he was already a be claimed when needed and suppressed when convenient. 20 One
Filipino, he being a natural child of a Filipino mother. In this regard, who is privileged to elect Philippine citizenship has only an inchoate
the Court stated: right to such citizenship. As such, he should avail of the right with
fervor, enthusiasm and promptitude. Sadly, in this case, Ching slept
on his opportunity to elect Philippine citizenship and, as a result. this Consistent with Section 20, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, the matter
golden privilege slipped away from his grasp. was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court Resolves to DENY of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation. After
Vicente D. Ching's application for admission to the Philippine Bar. conducting a thorough investigation, the Commission through
SO ORDERED. Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez recommended that respondent be
disbarred, and his name be stricken off the roll of attorneys. Mainly, this
A.C. No. 4148 July 30, 1998 was premised on the ground that, notwithstanding sanctions previously
REMEDIOS RAMIREZ TAPUCAR, complainant, vs. Atty. LAURO L. imposed upon him by the Honorable Supreme Court, respondent
TAPUCAR, respondent. continued the illicit liaison with Elena. 7
PER CURIAM: In his report Commissioner Fernandez noted that, instead of
In a letter-complaint dated November 22, 1993, complainant Remedios contradicting the charges against him, respondent displayed arrogance,
Ramirez Tapucar sought the disbarment of her husband, Atty. Lauro L. and even made a mockery of the law and the Court, as when he said:
Tapucar, on the ground of continuing grossly immoral conduct for cohabiting I have been ordered suspended by Supreme Court for two months
with a certain Elena (Helen) Peña under scandalous circumstances. 1 without pay in 1980 for having a mistress, the same girl Ms. Elena (Helen)
Prior to this complaint, respondent was already administratively charged four Peña, now my wife. Being ordered separated in later administrative case
times for conduct unbecoming an officer of the court. In Administrative Matter constitute double jeopardy. If now disbarred for marrying Ms. Elena Peña
No. 1740, resolved on April 11, 1980, respondent, at that time the Judge of will constitute triple jeopardy. If that's the law so be it. 8
Butuan City, was meted the penalty of six months suspension without Based on said report, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of
pay, 2 while in Administrative Matters Nos. 1720, 1911 and 2300-CFI, the Philippines, passed on May 17, 1997, a Resolution adopting the
which were consolidated, 3 this Court on January 31, 1981 ordered the Commissioner's recommendation, as follows:
separation from the service of respondent. 4 RESOLUTION NO. XII-97-97
Now he faces disbarment. Adm. Case No. 4148
The records reveal the following facts: Remedios Ramirez Tapucar vs.
From the Report and Recommendation of the Commission on Bar Atty. Lauro L. Tapucar
Discipline, it appears that complainant and respondent married on RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
October 29, 1953 at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Quezon APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
City. They established their residence in Antipolo, Rizal, where eight of Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of the
their eleven children were born. In 1962 respondent relocated his family Resolution/Decision as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation
to Dadiangas, Cotabato (now Gen. Santos City), where his last three therein to be fully supported by the evidence on record and the
children were born and where he practiced his profession until his applicable laws and rules, Respondent Atty. Lauro L. Tapucar is hereby
appointment as a CFI Judge in Butuan City on January 30, 1976. DISBARRED and that his name be stricken off the roll of attorneys.
In August, 1976, shortly after being appointed as CFI Judge, respondent We find the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Fernandez,
began cohabiting with a certain Elena (Helen) Peña, in Nasipit, Agusan as approved and adopted by the Board of Governors of IBP, more than
del Norte. On December 28, 1977, Elena gave birth to their first child, sufficient to justify and support the foregoing Resolution, herein
named Ofelia Sembrano Peña. considered as the recommendation to this Court by said Board pursuant
In view of this cohabitation, a certain Atty. Tranquilino Calo filed an to Rule 139-B, Sec. 12 (b), of the Rules of Court. * We are in agreement
administrative complaint against respondent for immorality. After that respondent's actuations merit the penalty of disbarment.
investigation, the penalty of suspension from office for a period of six Well settled is the rule that good moral character is not only a condition
months without pay was meted by this Court upon respondent. 5 precedent for admission to the legal profession, but it must also remain
Despite this penalty, respondent still continued to cohabit with Elena, intact in order to maintain one's good standing in that exclusive and
giving rise to another charge of immorality and other administrative honored fraternity.9 There is perhaps no profession after that of the
cases, such as: conduct unbecoming an officer of the court, and grossly sacred ministry in which a high-toned morality is more imperative than
immoral conduct. These cases were consolidated and after that of law. 10 The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that:
investigation, this Court ordered his dismissal and separation from the Rule 1.01. A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
service. 6 deceitful conduct.
But his dismissal as a judge did not impel respondent to mend his ways. Rule 7.03. A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects
He continued living with Elena, which resulted in the birth on September on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private
20, 1989, of their second child named Laella Peña Tapucar. Moreover, he life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
completely abandoned complainant and his children by her. profession. (Emphasis supplied.)
Respondent later moved from Nasipit, Agusan del Norte back to As this Court often reminds members of the Bar, they must live up to the
Antipolo, Rizal, bringing along Elena and their two children. And on standards and norms expected of the legal profession, by upholding the
March 5, 1992, respondent contracted marriage with Elena in a ceremony ideals and tenets embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility
solemnized by MTC Judge Isagani A. Geronimo of Antipolo, Rizal. This always. Lawyers must maintain a high standard of legal proficiency, as
was done while the respondent's marriage to complainant subsists, as well as morality including honesty, integrity and fair dealing. For they are
nothing on record shows the dissolution thereof. at all times subject to the scrutinizing eye of public opinion and
Complainant, in the meanwhile, had migrated to United States of community approbation. Needless to state, those whose conduct — both
America upon her retirement from the government service in 1990. public and private — fails this scrutiny would have to be disciplined and,
However, her children, who remained in Antipolo, kept her posted of the after appropriate proceedings, penalized accordingly.
misery they allegedly suffered because of their father's acts, including Moreover, it should be recalled that respondent here was once a member
deception and intrigues against them. Thus, despite having previously of the judiciary, a fact that aggravates his professional infractions. For
withdrawn a similar case which she filed in 1976, complainant was forced having occupied that place of honor in the Bench, he knew a judge's
to file the present petition for disbarment under the compulsion of the actuations ought to be free from any appearance of impropriety. 11 For a
maternal impulse to shield and protect her children from the despotic judge is the visible representation of the law and, more importantly, of
and cruel acts of their own father. Complainant secured the assistance justice. Ordinary citizens consider him as a source of strength that
of her eldest daughter, Atty. Ma. Susana Tapucar-Baua, to represent her fortifies their will to obey the law. 12 Indeed, a judge should avoid the
in this case. slightest infraction of the law in all of his actuations, lest it be a
4 demoralizing example to others. 13 Surely, respondent could not have
forgotten the Code of Judicial Conduct entirely as to lose its moral B.M. No. 44 February 24, 1992
imperatives. 14 EUFROSINA Y. TAN, complainant, vs. NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL,
Like a judge who is held to a high standard of integrity and ethical respondent.
conduct, 15 an attorney-at-law is also invested with public trust. Judges SBC No. 609 February 24, 1992
and lawyers serve in the administration of justice. Admittedly, as officers MOISES B. BOQUIA, complainant, vs. NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL,
of the court, lawyers must ensure the faith and confidence of the public respondent.
that justice is administered with dignity and civility. A high degree of SBC No. 616 February 24, 1992
moral integrity is expected of a lawyer in the community where he HERVE DAGPIN, complainant, vs. NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent.
resides. He must maintain due regard for public decency in an orderly
society. Nelbert T. Paculan for respondent.
A lawyer is expected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the Moises B. Boquia for himself and Herve Dagpin.
legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, RESOLUTION
to the courts and to his clients. 16 Exacted from him, as a member of the MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
profession charged with the responsibility to stand as a shield in the On 29 November 1983, * this Court sustained the charge of unauthorized
defense of what is right, are such positive qualities of decency, practice of law filed against respondent Sabandal and accordingly denied the
truthfulness and responsibility that have been compendiously described latter's petition to be allowed to take the oath as member of the Philippine Bar
as "moral character." To achieve such end, every lawyer needs to strive and to sign the Roll of Attorneys.
at all times to honor and maintain the dignity of his profession, and thus
improve not only the public regard for the Bar but also the administration From 1984-1988, Sabandal filed Motions for Reconsideration of the aforesaid
of justice. Resolution, all of which were either denied or "Noted without action." The
On these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend a lawyer for Court, however, on 10 February 1989, after considering his plea for mercy and
misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which forgiveness, his willingness to reform and the several testimonials attesting to
shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity, and his good moral character and civic consciousness, reconsidered its earlier
good demeanor, thus proving unworthy to continue as an officer of the Resolution and finally allowed him to take the lawyer's oath "with the Court
court. 17 binding him to his assurance that he shall strictly abide by and adhere to the
The power to disbar, however, is one to be exercised with great caution, language, meaning and spirit of the Lawyer's Oath and the highest standards
and only in a clear case of misconduct which seriously affects the of the legal profession" (Yap Tan v. Sabandal, 10 February 1989, 170 SCRA
standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court and 211).
member of the bar. 18 For disbarment proceedings are intended to afford
the parties thereto full opportunity to vindicate their cause before However, before a date could be set for Sabandal's oath-taking, complainants
disciplinary action is taken, to assure the general public that those who Tan, Dagpin and Boquia each filed separate motions for reconsideration of the
are tasked with the duty of administering justice are competent, Resolution of 10 February 1989. These were acted upon in the Resolution of
honorable, trustworthy men and women in whom the Courts and the 4 July 1989 hereunder quoted, in part, for ready reference:
clients may repose full confidence.
In the case of Obusan vs. Obusan, Jr., 19 a complaint for disbarment was On 7 April 1989, Complainant Herve Dagpin in SBC No. 616, and Complainant
filed against a member of the bar by his wife. She was able to prove that Moises Boquia in SBC No. 609 also filed a Motion for Reconsideration of our
he had abandoned his wife and their son; and that he had adulterous Resolution allowing respondent to take his oath. They alleged that respondent
relations with a married but separated woman. Respondent was not able had deliberately and maliciously excluded them in his Petition of 28 June 1988.
to overcome the evidence presented by his wife that he was guilty of That, of course, is without merit considering that in his Petition of 28 June
grossly immoral conduct. In another case, 20 a lawyer was disbarred 1988, respondent had discussed said cases quite lengthily.
when he abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with another woman
who had borne him a child. The Court held that respondent failed to On 27 April 1989, Complainant Tan also manifested that Complainant
maintain the highest degree of morality expected and required of a Benjamin Cabigon in BM No. 59 and Complainant Cornelio Agnis in SBC No.
member of the bar. 624, had passed away so that they are in no position to submit their respective
In the present case, the record shows that despite previous sanctions Comments.
imposed upon him by this Court, respondent continued his illicit liaison
with a woman other than his lawfully-wedded wife. The report of the One of the considerations we had taken into account in allowing respondent
Commissioner assigned to investigate thoroughly the complaint found to take his oath, was a testimonial from the IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter,
respondent far from contrite; on the contrary, he exhibited a cavalier dated 29 December 1986, certifying that respondent was "acting with morality
attitude, even arrogance, in the face of charges against him. The IBP and has been careful in his actuations in the community."
Board of Governors, tasked to determine whether he still merited the
privileges extended to a member of the legal profession, resolved the Complainant Tan maintains that said IBP testimonial was signed only by the
matter against him. For indeed, evidence of grossly immoral conduct then President of the IBP, Zamboanga del Norte Chapter, Atty. Senen O.
abounds against him and could not be explained away. Keeping a Angeles, without authorization from the Board of Officers of said Chapter; and
mistress, entering into another marriage while a prior one still subsists, that Atty. Angeles was respondent's own counsel as well as the lawyer of
as well as abandoning and/or mistreating complainant and their children, respondent's parents-in-law in CAR Case No. 347, Ozamiz City. Attached to
show his disregard of family obligations, morality and decency, the law Complainant's Motion for Reconsideration was a Certification, dated 24
and the lawyer's oath. Such gross misbehavior over a long period of time February 1989, signed by the IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter President,
clearly shows a serious flaw in respondent's character, his moral Atty. Norberto L. Nuevas, stating that "the present Board of Officers with the
indifference to scandal in the community, and his outright defiance of undersigned as President had not issued any testimonial attesting to the good
established norms. All these could not but put the legal profession in moral character and civic consciousness of Mr. Nicolas Sabandal."
disrepute and place the integrity of the administration of justice in peril,
hence the need for strict but appropriate disciplinary action. In his Comment, received by the Court on 27 March 1989, respondent states
IN VIEW THEREOF, respondent Atty. Lauro L. Tapucar is hereby that the IBP testimonial referred to by Complainant Tan must have been that
DISBARRED. The Clerk of Court is directed to strike out his name from signed by the former IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter President, Atty.
the Roll of Attorneys. Senen O. Angeles, addressed to the Chief Justice, dated 29 December 1986,
and that he himself had not submitted to the Court any certification from the Complainant Tan further stated that she sees no further reason to oppose his
IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter Board of Officers of 1988-1989. admission to the Bar as he had shown sincere repentance and reformation
which she believes make him morally fit to become a member of the Philippine
Under the circumstances, the Court has deemed it best to require the present Bar. "In view of this development," the letter stated, "we highly recommend
Board of Officers of the IBP, Zamboanga del Norte Chapter, to MANIFEST him for admission to the legal profession and request this Honorable Court to
whether or not it is willing to give a testimonial certifying to respondent's good schedule his oath-taking at a time most convenient." This letter was Noted in
moral character as to entitle him to take the lawyer's oath, and if not, the the Resolution of 2 October 1990, which also required a comment on Tan's
reason therefor. The Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of letter from complainants Boquia and Dagpin.
Zamboanga del Norte is likewise required to submit a COMMENT on
respondent's moral fitness to be a member of the Bar. Moises Boquia, for himself, and complainant Dagpin, in their comment, dated
5 November 1990, stated thus:
Compliance herewith is required within ten (10) days from notice.
Eufrosina Yap Tan's letter dated 15 August 1990 is a private personal
Pursuant to the aforesaid Resolution, Judge Pelagio R. Lachica, Executive disposition which raises the question whether personal forgiveness is enough
Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga del Norte, filed his Comment, basis to exculpate and obliterate these cases. On our part, we believe and
dated 4 August 1989, and received on 25 August 1989, pertinently reading: maintain the importance and finality of the Honorable Supreme Court's
resolutions in these cases. . . .
The undersigned, who is not well acquainted personally with the respondent,
is not aware of any acts committed by him as would disqualify him from It is not within the personal competence, jurisdiction and discretion of any party
admission to the Bar. It might be relevant to mention, however, that there is to change or amend said final resolutions which are already res judicata.
Civil Case No. 3747 entitled Republic of the Philippines, Represented by the Viewed in the light of the foregoing final and executory resolutions, these
Director of Lands, Plaintiff, versus Nicolas Sabandal, Register of Deeds of cases therefore should not in the least be considered as anything which is
Zamboanga del Norte and Rural Bank of Pinan, (Zamboanga del Norte), Inc., subject and subservient to the changing moods and dispositions of the parties,
for Cancellation of Title and/or Reversion pending in this Court in which said devoid of any permanency or finality. Respondent's scheming change in
respondent, per complaint filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, is alleged tactics and strategy could not improve his case.
to have secured a free patent and later a certificate of title to a parcel of land
which, upon investigation, turned out to be a swampland and not susceptible The above was "Noted" in the Resolution of 29 November 1990.
of acquisition under a free patent, and which he later mortgaged to the Rural
Bank of Pinan (ZN) Inc. The mortgage was later foreclosed and the land sold In compliance with the Resolution of 2 October 1990, Judge Pacifico M.
at public auction and respondent has not redeemed the land until the present. Garcia, Regional Trial Court Judge of Branch 8, Dipolog City (who apparently
(Emphasis Supplied) succeeded Judge Pelagio Lachica, the latter having availed of optional
retirement on 30 June 1990) submitted to this Court, on 17 December 1990, a
The IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter also submitted a Certification, dated 2 copy of the "Judgment," dated 12 December 1990, in Civil Case 3747, entitled
February 1990, signed by its Secretary Peter Y. Co and attested to by its "Republic of the Philippines v. Nicolas Sabandal et al" for Cancellation of Title
President Gil L. Batula, to wit: and/or Reversion, which, according to him, was already considered closed and
This is to certify that based on the certifications issued by the Office of the
Clerk of Court—Municipal Trial Court in the City of Dipolog; Regional Trial Said judgment reveals that an amicable settlement, dated 24 October 1990,
Court of Zamboanga del Norte and the Office of the Provincial and City had been reached between the principal parties, approved by the Trial Court,
Prosecutors, Mr. Nicolas E. Sabandal has not been convicted of any crime, and conformed to by the counsel for defendant Rural Bank of Pinan.
nor is there any pending derogatory criminal case against him. Based on the
above findings, the Board does not find any acts committed by the petitioner Briefly, the said amicable settlement cancelled the Original Certificate of Title
to disqualify him from admission to the Philippine Bar. under Free Patent in Sabandal's name and the latter's mortgage thereof in
favor of the Rural Bank of Pinan; provided for the surrender of the certificate
We required the complainants to comment on the aforesaid IBP Certification of title to the Register of Deeds for proper annotation; reverted to the mass of
and to reply to Executive Judge Pelagio Lachica's comment in our Resolution public domain the land covered by the aforesaid Certificate of' Title with
of 15 February 1990. defendant Sabandal refraining from exercising acts of possession or
ownership over said land; caused the defendant Sabandal to pay defendant
On 17 April 1990, after taking note of the unrelenting vehement objections of Rural Bank of Pinan the sum of P35,000 for the loan and interest; and the
complainants Tan (in BM 44) and Boquia (in SBC 616) and the Certification Rural Bank of Pinan to waive its cross-claims against defendant Nicolas
by Executive Judge Lachica, dated 4 August 1989, that there is a pending Sabandal.
case before his Court involving respondent Sabandal, this Court resolved to
DEFER the setting of a date for the oath-taking of respondent Sabandal and Judge Pacifico Garcia's letter and the afore-mentioned Judgment were
required Judge Lachica to inform this Court of the outcome of the case entitled NOTED in our Resolution of 29 January 1991. In the same Resolution,
Republic v. Sabandal, (Civil Case 3747), pending before his "Sala" as soon as complainants Tan, Boquia and Dagpin were required to comment on the
resolved. same.

In the meantime, on 18 April 1990, the Court received another Comment, Upon request of Sabandal, a certification, dated 20 December 1990, was sent
dated 13 March 1990, by complainant Herve Dagpin in SBC 609, vehemently by Executive judge Jesus Angeles of the RTC of Zamboanga del Norte,
objecting to the oath-taking of respondent Sabandal and describing his certifying that Sabandal has no pending case with his Court and that he has
actuations in Civil Case 3747 as manipulative and surreptitious. This comment no cause to object to his admission to the Philippine Bar. This was "Noted" in
was Noted in the Resolution of 22 May 1990. the Resolution of 26 February 1991.

In a letter, addressed to the Chief Justice, dated 15 August 1990, complainant Meanwhile, Sabandal reiterated his prayer to be allowed to take the lawyer's
Tan in Bar Matter 44, informed the Court that her relationship with Sabandal oath in a Motion dated 8 June 1991. In our Resolution of 1 August 1991, we
has "already been restored," as he had asked forgiveness for what has been deferred action on the aforesaid Motion pending compliance by the
done to her and that she finds no necessity in pursuing her case against him. 6
complainants with the Resolution of 29 January 1991 requiring them to There are testimonials attesting to his good moral character, yes. But these
comment on the letter of Judge Pacifico M. Garcia. were confined to lack of knowledge of the pendency of any criminal case
against him and were obviously made without awareness of the facts and
To date, only complainant Tan has complied with the said Resolution by circumstances surrounding the case instituted by the Government against him.
submitting a Comment, dated 29 August 1991, stating that the termination of Those testimonials can not, therefore, outweigh nor smother his acts of
Civil Case No. 3747 is "proof of Sabandal's sincere reformation, of his dishonesty and lack of good moral character.
repentance with restitution of the rights of complainants he violated," and that
"there is no more reason to oppose his admission to the Bar." This was "Noted" That the other complainants, namely, Moises Boquia (in SBC 606) and Herve
in the Resolution of 24 September 1991. Dagpin (in SBC 619) have not submitted any opposition to his motion to take
the oath, is of no moment. They have already expressed their objections in
In a Manifestation, dated 6 December 1991, Sabandal reiterates his plea to their earlier comments. That complainant Tan has withdrawn her objection to
be allowed to take the Lawyer's Oath. his taking the oath can neither tilt the balance in his favor, the basis of her
complaint treating as it does of another subject matter.
His plea must be DENIED.
Time and again, it has been held that the practice of law is not a matter of
In our Resolution of 10 February 1989, Sabandal was allowed to take the oath, right. It is a privilege bestowed upon individuals who are not only learned in
ten (10) years having elapsed from the time he took and passed the 1976 Bar the law but who are also known to possess good moral character:
examinations, after careful consideration of his show of contrition and
willingness to reform. Also taken cognizance of were the several testimonials The Supreme Court and the Philippine Bar have always tried to maintain a
attesting to his good moral character and civic consciousness. At that time, we high standard for the legal profession, both in academic preparation and legal
had not received the objections from complainant Tan to Sabandal's taking the training as well as in honesty and fair dealing. The Court and the licensed
oath nor were we aware of the gravity of the civil case against him. lawyers themselves are vitally interested in keeping this high standard; and
one of the ways of achieving this end is to admit to the practice of this noble
It turns out that Civil Case No. 3747 entitled "Republic of the Philippines v. profession only those persons who are known to be honest and to possess
Nicolas Sabandal" was instituted by the Government in 1985 and was brought good moral character. . . . (In re Parazo, 82 Phil. 230).
about because of respondent's procurement of a certificate of free patent over
a parcel of land belonging to the public domain and its use as security for a Although the term "good moral character" admits of broad dimensions, it has
mortgage in order to obtain a loan. At that time, Sabandal was an employee been defined as "including at least common honesty" (Royong v. Oblena,
of the Bureau of Lands. He did not submit any defense and was declared it Adm. Case No. 376, April 30, 1963, 7 SCRA 859; In re Del Rosario, 52 Phil.
default by order of the RTC dated 26 November 1986. The controversy was 399 [1928]). It has also been held that no moral qualification for bar
eventually settled by mere compromise with respondent surrendering the membership is more important than truthfulness or candor (Fellner v. Bar
bogus certificate of title to the government and paying-off the mortgagor, "to Association of Baltimore City, 131 A. 2d 729).
buy peace and forestall further expenses of litigation incurred by defendants"
(Rollo, Judgment in Civil Case No. 3747). The Office of the Solicitor General WHEREFORE, finding respondent Sabandal to be unfit to become a member
interposed no objection to the approval of the said amicable settlement and of the BAR, this Court's Resolution, dated 10 February 1989 is RECALLED
prayed that judgment be rendered in accordance therewith, "as the amicable and his prayer to be allowed to take the lawyer's oath is hereby denied.
settlement may amount to a confession by the defendant" (Rollo, supra). It
must also be stressed that in 1985, at the time said case was instituted, SO ORDERED.
Sabandal's petition to take the lawyer's oath had already been denied on 29 A.C. No. 1512 January 29, 1993
November 1983 and he was then submitting to this Court motions for VICTORIA BARRIENTOS, complainant, vs. TRANSFIGURACION
reconsideration alleging his good moral character without, however, DAAROL, respondent.
mentioning the pendency of that civil case against him. RESOLUTION
In view of the nature of that case and the circumstances attending its In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on August 20, 1975, complainant
termination, the Court now entertains second thoughts about respondent's Victoria C. Barrientos seeks the disbarment of respondent Transfiguracion
fitness to become a member of the Bar. Daarol, ** a member of the Philippine Bar, on grounds of deceit and grossly
immoral conduct.
It should be recalled that Sabandal worked as Land Investigator at the Bureau After respondent filed his answer (Rollo, p. 12), the Court Resolved to refer
of Lands. Said employment facilitated his procurement of the free patent title the case to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation
over property which he could not but have known was public land. This was (Rollo, p. 18).
manipulative on his part and does not speak well of his moral character. It is a As per recommendation of the Solicitor General and for the convenience of
manifestation of gross dishonesty while in the public service, which can not be the parties and their witnesses who were residing in the province of
erased by the termination of the case filed by the Republic against him where Zamboanga del Norte, the Provincial Fiscal of said province was authorized to
no determination of his guilt or innocence was made because the suit had conduct the investigation and to submit a report, together with transcripts of
been compromised. Although as the Solicitor General had pointed out, the stenographic notes and exhibits submitted by the parties, if any (Rollo, p. 20).
amicable settlement was tantamount to a confession on his part. What is more, On November 9, 1987, the Office of the Solicitor General submitted its Report
he could not but have known of the intrinsic invalidity of his title and yet he and Recommendation, viz.:
took advantage of it by securing a bank loan, mortgaging it as collateral, and Evidence of the complainant:
notwithstanding the foreclosure of the mortgage and the sale of the land at . . . complainant Victoria Barrientos was single and a resident of Bonifacio St.,
public auction, he did not lift a finger to redeem the same until the civil case Dipolog City; that when she was still a teenager and first year in college she
filed against him was eventually compromised. This is a sad reflection on his came to know respondent Transfiguracion Daarol in 1969 as he used to go to
sense of honor and fair dealing. His failure to reveal to this Court the pendency their house being a friend of her sister Norma; that they also became friends,
of the civil case for Reversion filed against him during the period that he was and she knew the respondent as being single and living alone in Galas,
submitting several Motions for Reconsideration before us also reveal his lack Dipolog City; that he was the General Manager of Zamboanga del Norte
of candor and truthfulness. Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ZANECO) and subsequently transferred his
residence to the ZANECO compound at Laguna Blvd. at Del Pilar St., Dipolog
7 City (pp. 109-111, tsn, September 30, 1976).
That on June 27, 1973, respondent came to their house and asked her to be let us come here in Manila?" (p. 138, tsn, id.). Later on, however, respondent
one of the usherettes in the Mason's convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City, from reassured complainant not to worry because respondent had been separated
June 28 to 30, 1973 and, she told respondent to ask the permission of her from his wife for 16 years and he would work for the annulment of his marriage
parents, which respondent did, and her father consented; that for three whole and, subsequently marry complainant (p. 139, tsn, id.); respondent told
days she served as usherette in the convention and respondent picked her up complainant to deliver their child in Manila and assured her of a monthly
from her residence every morning and took her home from the convention site support of P250.00 (p. 140, tsn, id.); respondent returned to Dipolog City and
at the end of each day (pp. 112-114, tsn, id.). actually sent the promised support; he came back to Manila in January 1974
That in the afternoon of July 1, 1973, respondent came to complainant's house and went to see complainant; when asked about the annulment of his previous
and invited her for a joy ride with the permission of her mother who was a marriage, he told complainant that it would soon be approved (pp. 141-142,
former classmate of respondent; that respondent took her to Sicayab in his tsn, id.); he came back in February and in March 1974 and told complainant
jeep and then they strolled along the beach, and in the course of which the same thing (p. 142, tsn, id.); complainant wrote her mother to come to
respondent proposed his love to her; that respondent told her that if she would Manila when she delivers the child, but her mother answered her that she
accept him, he would marry her within six (6) months from her acceptance; cannot come as nobody would be left in their house in Dipolog and instead
complainant told respondent that she would think it over first; that from then suggested that complainant go to Cebu City which is nearer; complainant went
on respondent used to visit her in their house almost every night, and he kept to Cebu City in April 1974 and, her sister Norma took her to the Good
on courting her and pressed her to make her decision on respondent's Shepherd Convent at Banawa Hill; she delivered a baby girl on June 14, 1974
proposal; that on July 7, 1973, she finally accepted respondent's offer of love at the Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu City; and the child was registered as
and respondent continued his usual visitations almost every night thereafter; "Dureza Barrientos" (pp. 143-148, tsn, id.).
they agreed to get married in December 1973 (pp. 115-119, tsn, id.). In the last week of June 1974 complainant came to Dipolog City and tried to
That in the morning of August 20, 1973, respondent invited her, with the contact respondent by phone and, thru her brother, but to no avail; as she was
consent of her father, to a party at the Lopez Skyroom; that at 7:00 p.m. of that ashamed she just stayed in their house; she got sick and her father sent her
day respondent fetched her from her house and went to the Lopez Skyroom to Zamboanga City for medical treatment; she came back after two weeks but
(pp. 119-121, tsn, id); that at about 10:00 p.m. of that evening they left the still respondent did not come to see her (tsn. 48-150, tsn, id.); she consulted
party at the Lopez Skyroom, but before taking her home respondent invited a lawyer and filed an administrative case against respondent with the National
her for a joy ride and took her to the airport at Sicayab, Dipolog City; Electrification Administration; the case was referred to the Zamboanga del
respondent parked the jeep by the beach where there were no houses around; Norte Electric Cooperative (ZANECO) and it was dismissed and thus she filed
that in the course of their conversation inside the jeep, respondent reiterated the present administrative case (pp. 150-151, tsn, id.).
his promise to marry her and then started caressing her downward and his Evidence for the Respondent
hand kept on moving to her panty and down to her private parts (pp. 121-122, The evidence of the respondent consists of his sole testimony and one exhibit,
tsn. id.); that she then said: "What is this Trans?", but he answered: "Day, do the birth certificate of the child (Exh. 1). Respondent declared substantially as
not be afraid of me. I will marry you" and reminded her also that "anyway, follows: that he was born on August 6, 1932 in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte;
December is very near, the month we have been waiting for" ([p], 122, tsn, id.), that he married Romualda Sumaylo in Liloy in 1955; that he had a son who is
then he pleaded, "Day, just give this to me, do not be afraid" (ibid), and again now 20 years old; that because of incompatibility he had been estranged from
reiterated his promise and assurances, at the same time pulling down her his wife for 16 years; that in 1953 he was baptized as a moslem and thereby
panty; that she told him that she was afraid because they were not yet married, embraced the Islam Religion (pp.
but because she loved him she finally agreed to have sexual intercourse with 173-180 tsn, Jan. 13, 1977); that he came to know complainant's father since
him at the back seat of the jeep; that after the intercourse she wept and 1952 because he was his teacher; likewise he knew complainant's mother
respondent again reiterated his promises and assurances not to worry because they were former classmates in high school; that he became
because anyway he would marry her; and at about 12:00 midnight they went acquainted with complainant when he used to visit her sister, Norma, in their
home (pp. house; they gradually became friends and often talked with each other, and
122-124, tsn, id.). even talked about their personal problems; that he mentioned to her his being
After August 20, 1973, respondent continued to invite her to eat outside usually estranged from his wife; that with the consent of her parents he invited her to
at the Honeycomb Restaurant in Dipolog City about twice or three times a be one of the usherettes in the Masonic Convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City
week, after which he would take her to the airport where they would have held on June 28-30, 1973 (pp. 185-192, tsn, id.); that the arrangement was for
sexual intercourse; that they had this sexual intercourse from August to him to fetch her from her residence and take her home from the convention
October 1973 at the frequency of two or three times a week, and she site; that it was during this occasion that they became close to each other and
consented to all these things because she loved him and believed in all his after the convention, he proposed his love to her on July 7, 1973; that (sic) a
promises (pp. 125-127, tsn, id.). week of courtship, she accepted his proposal and since then he used to invite
Sometime in the middle part of September, 1973 complainant noticed that her her (pp. 193-194, tsn, id.).
menstruation which usually occurred during the second week of each month That in the evening of August 20, 1973, respondent invited complainant to be
did not come; she waited until the end of the month and still there was no his partner during the Chamber of Commerce affair at the Lopez Skyroom;
menstruation; she submitted to a pregnancy test and the result was positive; that at about 10:00 p.m. of that evening after the affair, complainant
she informed respondent and respondent suggested to have the fetus aborted complained to him of a headache, so he decided to take her home but once
but she objected and respondent did not insist; respondent then told her not inside the jeep, she wanted to have a joy ride, so he drove around the city and
to worry because they would get married within one month and he would talk proceeded to the airport; that when they were at the airport, only two of them,
to her parents about their marriage (pp. 129-132, tsn, id.). they started the usual kisses and they were carried by their passion; they
On October 20, 1973, respondent came to complainant's house and talked to forgot themselves and they made love; that before midnight he took her home;
her parents about their marriage; it was agreed that the marriage would be that thereafter they indulged in sexual intercourse many times whenever they
celebrated in Manila so as not to create a scandal as complainant was already went on joy riding in the evening and ended up in the airport which was the
pregnant; complainant and her mother left for Manila by boat on October 22, only place they could be alone
1973 while respondent would follow by plane; and they agreed to meet in (p. 195, tsn, id.).
Singalong, Manila, in the house of complainant's sister Delia who is married That it was sometime in the later part of October 1973 that complainant told
to Ernesto Serrano (pp. 132-135, tsn, id.). him of her pregnancy; that they agreed that the child be delivered in Manila to
On October 26, 1973, when respondent came to see complainant and her avoid scandal and respondent would take care of expenses; that during
mother at Singalong, Manila, respondent told them that he could not marry respondent's talk with the parents of complainant regarding the latter's
complainant because he was already married (p. 137, tsn, id.); complainant's pregnancy, he told him he was married but estranged from his wife; that when
mother got mad and said: "Trans, so you fooled my daughter and why did you 8 complainant was already in Manila, she asked him if he was willing to marry
her, he answered he could not marry again, otherwise, he would be charged From the records, it appears indubitable that complainant was never informed
with bigamy but he promised to file an annulment of his marriage as he had by respondent attorney of his real status as a married individual. The fact of
been separated from his wife for 16 years; that complainant consented to have his previous marriage was disclosed by respondent only after the complainant
sexual intercourse with him because of her love to him and he did not resort became pregnant. Even then, respondent misrepresented himself as being
to force, trickery, deceit or cajolery; and that the present case was filed against eligible to re-marry for having been estranged from his wife for 16 years and
him by complainant because of his failure to give the money to support dangled a marriage proposal on the assurance that he would work for the
complainant while in Cebu waiting for the delivery of the child and, also to meet annulment of his first marriage. It was a deception after all as it turned out that
complainant's medical expenses when she went to Zamboanga City for respondent never bothered to annul said marriage. More importantly,
medical check-up (pp. 198-207, tsn, id.). respondent knew all along that the mere fact of separation alone is not a
FINDING OF FACTS ground for annulment of marriage and does not vest him legal capacity to
From the evidence adduced by the parties, the following facts are not disputed: contract another marriage.
1. That the complainant, Victoria Barrientos, is single, a college student, and Interestingly enough. respondent lived alone in Dipolog City though his son,
was about 20 years and 7 months old during the time (July-October 1975) of who was also studying in Dipolog City, lived separately from him. He never
her relationship with respondent, having been born on December 23, 1952; introduced his son and went around with friends as though he was never
while respondent Transfiguracion Daarol is married, General Manager of married much less had a child in the same locality. This circumstance alone
Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative, and 41 years old at the time of the belies respondent's claim that complainant and her family were aware of his
said relationship, having been born on August 6, 1932; previous marriage at the very start of his courtship. The Court is therefore
2. That respondent is married to Romualda A. Sumaylo with whom be has a inclined to believe that respondent resorted to deceit in the satisfaction of his
son; that the marriage ceremony was solemnized on September 24, 1955 at sexual desires at the expense of the gullible complainant. It is not in
Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte by a catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Anacleto Pellamo, accordance with the nature of the educated, cultured and respectable, which
Parish Priest thereat; and that said respondent had been separated from his complainant's family is, her father being the Assistant Principal of the local
wife for about 16 years at the time of his relationship with complainant; public high school, to allow a daughter to have an affair with a married man.
3. That respondent had been known by the Barrientos family for quite But what surprises this Court even more is the perverted sense of
sometime, having been a former student of complainant's father in 1952 and, respondent's moral values when he said that: "I see nothing wrong with this
a former classmate of complainant's mother at the Andres Bonifacio College relationship despite my being married." (TSN, p. 209, January 13, 1977; Rollo,
in Dipolog City; that he became acquainted with complainant's sister, Norma p. 47) Worse, he even suggested abortion. Truly, respondent's moral sense is
in 1963 and eventually with her other sisters, Baby and Delia and, her brother, so seriously impaired that we cannot maintain his membership in the Bar.
Boy, as he used to visit Norma at her residence; that he also befriended In Pangan v. Ramos (107 SCRA 1 [1981]), we held that:
complainant and who became a close friend when he invited her, with her (E)ven his act in making love to another woman while his first wife is still alive
parents' consent, to be one of the usherettes during the Masonic Convention and their marriage still valid and existing is contrary to honesty, justice,
in Sicayab, Dipolog City from June 28 to 30, 1973, and he used to fetch her at decency and morality. Respondent made a mockery of marriage which is a
her residence in the morning and took her home from the convention site after sacred institution demanding respect and dignity.
each day's activities; Finally, respondent even had the temerity to allege that he is a Moslem convert
4. That respondent courted complainant, and after a week of courtship, and as such, could enter into multiple marriages and has inquired into the
complainant accepted respondent's love on July 7, 1973; that in the evening possibility of marrying complainant (Rollo, p. 15). As records indicate,
of August 20, 1973, complainant with her parents' permission was however, his claim of having embraced the Islam religion is not supported by
respondent's partner during the Chamber of Commerce affair at the Lopez any evidence save that of his self-serving testimony. In this regard, we need
Skyroom in the Dipolog City, and at about 10:00 o'clock that evening, they left only to quote the finding of the Office of the Solicitor General, to wit:
the place but before going home, they went to the airport at Sicayab, Dipolog When respondent was asked to marry complainant he said he could not
City and parked the jeep at the beach, where there were no houses around; because he was already married and would open him to a charge of bigamy
that after the usual preliminaries, they consummated the sexual act and at (p. 200, tsn, January 13, 1977). If he were a moslem convert entitled to four
about midnight they went home; that after the first sexual act, respondent used (4) wives, as he is now claiming, why did he not marry complainant? The
to have joy ride with complainant which usually ended at the airport where they answer is supplied by respondent himself. He said while he was a moslem,
used to make love twice or three times a week; that as a result of her intimate but, having been married in a civil ceremony, he could no longer validly enter
relations, complainant became pregnant; into another civil ceremony without committing bigamy because the
5. That after a conference among respondent, complainant and complainant's complainant is a christian (p. 242, tsn, January 13, 1977). Consequently, if
parents, it was agreed that complainant would deliver her child in Manila, respondent knew, that notwithstanding his being a moslem convert, he cannot
where she went with her mother on October 22, 1973 by boat, arriving in marry complainant, then it was grossly immoral for him to have sexual
Manila on the 25th and, stayed with her brother-in-law Ernesto Serrano in intercourse with complainant because he knew the existence of a legal
Singalong, Manila; that respondent visited her there on the 26th, 27th and 28th impediment. Respondent may not, therefore, escape responsibility thru his
of October 1973, and again in February and March 1974; that later on dubious claim that he has embraced the Islam religion. (Rollo,
complainant decided to deliver the child in Cebu City in order to be nearer to p. 49).
Dipolog City, and she went there in April 1974 and her sister took her to the By his acts of deceit and immoral tendencies to appease his sexual desires,
Good Shepherd Convent at Banawa Hill, Cebu City; that on June 14, 1974, respondent Daarol has amply demonstrated his moral delinquency. Hence, his
she delivered a baby girl at the Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu City and, removal for conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar on the grounds of deceit
named her "Dureza Barrientos"; that about the last week of June 1974 she and grossly immoral conduct (Sec. 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court) is in order.
went home to Dipolog City; that during her stay here in Manila and later in Good moral character is a condition which precedes admission to the Bar
Cebu City, the respondent defrayed some of her expenses; that she filed an (Sec. 2, Rule 138, Rules of Court) and is not dispensed with upon admission
administrative case against respondent with the National Electrification thereto. It is a continuing qualification which all lawyers must possess (People
Administration; which complaint, however, was dismissed; and then she v. Tuanda, 181 SCRA 682 [1990]; Delos Reyes v. Aznar, 179 SCRA 653
instituted the present disbarment proceedings against respondent. [1989]), otherwise, a lawyer may either be suspended or disbarred.
xxx xxx xxx As we have held in Piatt v. Abordo (58 Phil. 350 [1933], cited in Leda v.
In view of the foregoing, the undersigned respectfully recommend that after Tabang, 206 SCRA 395 [1992]):
hearing, respondent Transfiguracion Daarol be disbarred as a lawyer. (Rollo, It cannot be overemphasized that the requirement of good character is not
pp. 28-51). only a condition precedent to admission to the practice of law; its continued
After a thorough review of the case, the Court finds itself in full accord with the possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law (People v.
findings and recommendation of the Solicitor General. 9 Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360, 30 January 1990, 181 SCRA 692). As aptly put
by Mr. Justice George A. Malcolm: "As good character is an essential carnappers against whom a criminal case for carnapping, Criminal Case No.
qualification for admission of an attorney to practice, when the attorney's 1010, was lodged at Branch 22, RTC, Kabacan, North Cotabato.
character is bad in such respects as to show that he is unsafe and unfit to be On the order of the trial court, the chief of police of M’lang, North Cotabato
entrusted with the powers of an attorney, the court retains the power to turned over the motorcycle to respondent who acknowledged receipt thereof
discipline him (Piatt v. Abordo, 58 Phil. 350 [1933]). on August 1, 1995.
Only recently, another disbarment proceeding was resolved by this Court After the conduct of hearings to determine the true owner of the motorcycle,
against a lawyer who convinced a woman that her prior marriage to another the trial court issued an Order2 of November 15, 2000 for its release to
man was null and void ab initio and she was still legally single and free to Pentecostes.
marry him (the lawyer), married her, was supported by her in his studies, begot Pentecostes immediately asked respondent to release the motorcycle to him.
a child with her, abandoned her and the child, and married another woman Respondent, however, told him to wait and come back repeatedly from 2001
(Terre vs. Terre, Adm. Case No. 2349, July 3, 1992). up to the filing of the complaint.
Here, respondent, already a married man and about 41 years old, proposed In his Comment3 filed on February 9, 2005, respondent gave the following
love and marriage to complainant, then still a 20-year-old minor, knowing that explanation:
he did not have the required legal capacity. Respondent then succeeded in After the motorcycle was delivered to him by the M’lang chief of police on
having carnal relations with complainant by deception, made her pregnant, August 1, 1995, he requested Alex Pedroso, a utility worker, to inspect the
suggested abortion, breached his promise to marry her, and then deserted her engine, chassis, and make, after which he issued an acknowledgement receipt
and the child. Respondent is therefore guilty of deceit and grossly immoral thereof.
conduct. He thereafter instructed Pedroso to bring the motorcycle to the Kabacan police
The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to station for which he (respondent) prepared a receipt.
the exacting standards of mental and moral fitness. Respondent having He and Pedroso visited and inspected the motorcycle every time a hearing on
exhibited debased morality, the Court is constrained to impose upon him the the criminal case was conducted. When the court finally ordered the release
most severe disciplinary action — disbarment. of the motorcycle to Pentecostes on November 15, 2000, the latter refused to
The ancient and learned profession of law exacts from its members the highest receive it, claiming that it was already "cannibalized" and unserviceable.
standard of morality. The members are, in fact, enjoined to aid in guarding the From that time on until 2003, Pentecostes harassed him, demanding that he
Bar against the admission of candidates unfit or unqualified because deficient be responsible for reconditioning the vehicle. During the latter part of 2004,
either moral character or education (In re Puno, 19 SCRA 439, [1967]; Pangan upon the advice of the executive judge, he accompanied Pentecostes to the
vs. Ramos, 107 SCRA 1 [1981]). Kabacan police station only to discover that the motorcycle was missing.
As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral As no explanation could be offered by then Kabacan police chief Nestor
character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and must lead Bastareche for the loss, he prepared a letter-complaint requesting for
a life in accordance with the highest moral standards of the community. More assistance in the recovery of the motorcycle and for the conduct of an
specifically, a member of the Bar and an officer of the Court is not only required investigation. Pentecostes refused to sign the letter, however.
to refrain from adulterous relationships or the keeping of mistresses but must He later discovered that the turnover receipt attached to the record of the
also behave himself in such a manner as to avoid scandalizing the public by criminal case and the page of the blotter where the turnover was recorded
creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards (Tolosa vs. Cargo, were missing. Hence, he submitted the sworn statements of Pedroso4 and
171 SCRA 21, 26 [1989], citing Toledo vs. Toledo, 7 SCRA 757 [1963] and SPO4 Alex Ocampo5 who confirmed the transfer of the vehicle from his
Royong vs. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859 [1963]). custody to that of the Kabacan chief of police.
In brief, We find respondent Daarol morally delinquent and as such, should Belying respondent’s averments, Pentecostes, in his "Rejoinder,"6 contended
not be allowed continued membership in the ancient and learned profession as follows:
of law (Quingwa v. Puno, 19 SCRA 439 [1967]). The vehicle was in good running condition when it was delivered to respondent
ACCORDINGLY, We find respondent Transfiguracion Daarol guilty of grossly by police operatives7 of M’lang.
immoral conduct unworthy of being a member of the Bar and is hereby ordered Respondent’s act of passing the blame to the PNP of Kabacan was a clear
DISBARRED and his name stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys. Let copies case of hand washing as the records showed that respondent was responsible
of this Resolution be furnished to all courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of for the safekeeping of the motorcycle. It was for this reason that he
the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and spread on the personal (Pentecostes) refused to sign the letter to the chief of police of Kabacan
record of respondent Daarol. protesting the loss. Moreover, the police blotter of PNP Kabacan has no entry
SO ORDERED. or record of the alleged turn over.
By Resolution of October 19, 2005,8 this Court referred the case to the
Executive Judge of RTC, Kabacan, North Cotabato, for investigation, report
A.M. No. P-07-2337 August 3, 2007 and recommendation.
[Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 04-2060-P] Then Executive Judge Francisco G. Rabang, Jr. of the RTC, Kabacan, North
ROLLY PENTECOSTES, complainant, Cotabato submitted on January 16, 2006 his findings and recommendation for
vs. the dismissal of the administrative complaint against respondent.9
ATTY. HERMENEGILDO MARASIGAN, Clerk of Court VI, Office of the In his report, Judge Rabang noted that Pentecostes denied any knowledge
Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Kabacan, North about the turnover of the motorcycle to the PNP of Kabacan.
Cotabato, respondent. On the evidence for the defense, the investigating judge found that the
DECISION motorcycle was delivered by the PNP of M’lang, North Cotabato to respondent
CARPIO MORALES, J.: who in turn transferred it to the PNP of Kabacan.
Atty. Hermenegildo Marasigan (respondent), Clerk of Court VI of the Office of To Judge Rabang, what remained an issue was the actual physical condition
the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Kabacan, North of the motorcycle when it was turned over to the PNP of Kabacan. The judge
Cotabato, stands administratively charged with grave misconduct and conduct noted that there was no proof of Pentecostes’ claim that the vehicle was
unbecoming a public officer for the loss of a motorcycle-subject matter of a "cannibalized" from the time it was under respondent’s custody until its transfer
criminal case which was placed under his care and custody. to the PNP of Kabacan.
The administrative case against respondent stemmed from a sworn affidavit- In light of the peace and order situation in Kabacan in the late 1990s and in
complaint1 filed on November 11, 2004 by Rolly Pentecostes (Pentecostes), the early part of 2000 and the absence of a suitable courthouse then, Judge
the owner of a Kawasaki motorcycle, which was recovered by members of the Rabang believed that respondent had made a wise decision in turning over
Philippine National Police (PNP) of M’lang, North Cotabato from suspected the custody of the vehicle to the PNP of Kabacan.
To Judge Rabang’s report and recommendation, Pentecostes filed a Motion during his testimony, Guadalupe narrated that he was the "the driver of the
for Reconsideration10 in which he assailed the conclusion that the motorcycle service jeep while Chief Banaybanay was on board the motorcycle" when the
was no longer roadworthy and was already "cannibalized" when it was vehicle was turned over to respondent on August 1, 1995.15
delivered to the office of the clerk of court from the M’lang police station. Even respondent’s following testimony that:
Moreover, Pentecostes maintained that the alleged turnover of the motorcycle "x x x when x x x [he] received the motorcycle for safekeeping, he immediately
to the police station of Kabacan was irrelevant because the proper custodian delivered together with Alex Pedroso [sic] because it could be noted that
of the vehicle was respondent who should be held responsible for its eventual respondent do[es] not know how to drive a motorcycle, I requested x x x Alex
loss. Pedroso to accompany me and deliver [it] to [the] chief of police of
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found the investigating judge’s Kabacan"16 (Italics supplied)
recommendation to be sufficiently supported by the evidence.11 suggests that the vehicle was in running condition when respondent took and
The OCA thus concurred with Judge Rabang’s recommendation for the subsequently transferred its custody to the Kabacan police.
dismissal of the complaint against respondent, subject to certain qualifications This Court has repeatedly emphasized that clerks of court are essential and
with respect to the physical condition of the vehicle upon its delivery to ranking officers of our judicial system who perform delicate functions vital to
respondent and the latter’s lack of authority for the turn over of the vehicle to the prompt and proper administration of justice.17 Their duties include the
the PNP of Kabacan. efficient recording, filing and management of court records and, as previously
While the investigating judge found no evidence to show the actual condition pointed out, the safekeeping of exhibits and public property committed to their
of the motorcycle at the time it was turned over to respondent, the OCA charge.
observed that the evidence presented during the investigation supported a Clearly, they play a key role in the complement of the court and cannot be
finding that the vehicle had missing parts when it was delivered to respondent. permitted to slacken on their jobs under one pretext or another.18 They cannot
From the testimony of Pentecostes’ witness SPO2 Servando Guadalupe, the err without affecting the integrity of the court or the efficient administration of
OCA noted, the motorcycle was loaded into a service vehicle for delivery to justice.19
respondent. This fact, according to the OCA, could only mean that the vehicle The same responsibility bears upon all court personnel in view of their exalted
could not run by itself. positions as keepers of public faith.20The exacting standards of ethics and
Although the OCA agreed with the investigating judge that the evidence morality imposed upon court employees are reflective of the premium placed
sufficiently proved that the vehicle was turned over to the PNP of Kabacan on the image of the court of justice, and that image is necessarily mirrored in
where it got lost, it noted that respondent failed to ask prior authority from the the conduct, official or otherwise, of court personnel.21 It becomes the
trial court to transfer its custody. Only when respondent was having problems imperative and sacred duty of everyone charged with the dispensation of
with Pentecostes did he bring the matter to the attention of the executive judge, justice, from the judge to the lowliest clerk, to maintain the courts’ good name
the OCA added. and standing as true temples of justice.22
Accordingly, the OCA recommended that respondent be reminded to secure By transferring Pentecostes’ motorcycle without authority, respondent failed to
prior authority from the court before evidence is turned over to any authorized give premium to his avowed duty of keeping it under his care and possession.
government office or agency and that he be warned to be more careful to He must, therefore, suffer the consequences of his act or omission, which is
prevent any similar incident from arising in the future. akin to misconduct.
The finding of the OCA insofar as respondent’s lack of authority to transfer the Misconduct is a transgression of some established or definite rule of action;
motorcycle is well taken, on account of which respondent is administratively more particularly, it is an unlawful behavior by the public officer. 23 The
liable for simple misconduct. misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of corruption,
It is the duty of the clerk of court to keep safely all records, papers, files, willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules, which must be
exhibits and public property committed to his charge.12 Section D (4), Chapter proved by substantial evidence. Otherwise, the misconduct is only simple, as
VII of the 1991 Manual For Clerks of Court (now Section E[2], paragraph 2.2.3, in this case.
Chapter VI of the 2002 Revised Manual for Clerks of Court) provides: The Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service
All exhibits used as evidence and turned over to the court and before the (Memorandum Circular No. 19, Series of 1999) classifies simple misconduct
case/s involving such evidence shall have been terminated shall be under the as a less grave offense, punishable by suspension of One Month and One Day
custody and safekeeping of the Clerk of Court. to Six Months. Considering that this is respondent’s first offense and no taint
Similarly, Section 7 of Rule 136 of the Rules of Court, provides: of bad faith has been shown by his actuations, a 15-day suspension without
SEC. 7. Safekeeping of property. — The clerk shall safely keep all record, pay is deemed appropriate.
papers, files, exhibits and public property committed to his charge, including WHEREFORE, respondent, Clerk of Court Hermenegildo Marasigan, is found
the library of the court, and the seals and furniture belonging to his office. guilty of Simple Misconduct. He is SUSPENDED for 15 days without pay, with
From the above provisions, it is clear that as clerk of court of the RTC, a stern WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt
Kabacan, respondent was charged with the custody and safekeeping of with more severely.
Pentecostes’ motorcycle, and to keep it until the termination of the case, SO ORDERED.
barring circumstances that would justify its safekeeping elsewhere, and upon A.C. No. 5095 November 28, 2007
the prior authority of the trial court. FATHER RANHILIO C. AQUINO, LINA M. GARAN, ESTRELLA C.
No explanation was offered by respondent, however, for turning over the LOZADA, POLICARPIO L. MABBORANG, DEXTER R. MUNAR, MONICO
motorcycle. But whatever the reason was, respondent was mandated to U. TENEDRO, ANDY R. QUEBRAL, NESTOR T. RIVERA, EDUARDO C.
secure prior consultations with and approval of the trial court. RICAMORA, ARTHUR G. IBAÑEZ, AURELIO C. CALDEZ and DENU A.
Moreover disconcerting is the fact that the acknowledgment receipt evidencing AGATEP, complainants, vs. ATTY. EDWIN PASCUA, respondent.
the turnover of the motorcycle from the trial court to the Kabacan police station DECISION
was lost from the records of Criminal Case No. 1010,13 with nary a lead as to SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
who was responsible for it. This circumstance is viewed with disfavor as it For our resolution is the letter-complaint dated August 3, 1999 of Father
reflects badly on the safekeeping of court records, a duty entrusted to Ranhilio C. Aquino, then Academic Head of the Philippine Judicial Academy,
respondent as clerk of court. joined by Lina M. Garan and the other above-named complainants, against
With regard to the condition of the vehicle upon its delivery to respondent, the Atty. Edwin Pascua, a Notary Public in Cagayan.
evidence indicates that it was still serviceable when it was delivered by the In his letter-complaint, Father Aquino alleged that Atty. Pascua falsified two
M’lang police to respondent and at the time it was turned over by respondent documents committed as follows:
to the Kabacan police station. The Joint Affidavit14 of SPO2 Guadalupe and (1) He made it appear that he had notarized the "Affidavit-Complaint" of one
Police Inspector Romeo Banaybanay categorically stated that the motorcycle Joseph B. Acorda entering the same as "Doc. No. 1213, Page No. 243, Book
was in "good running condition" when they delivered it to respondent. Later 11 III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998".
(2) He also made it appear that he had notarized the "Affidavit-Complaint" of both documents are dated December 10, 1998 and numbered as 1213 and
one Remigio B. Domingo entering the same as "Doc. No. 1214, Page 243, 1214.
Book III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998. A member of the legal fraternity should refrain from doing any act which might
Father Aquino further alleged that on June 23 and July 26, 1999, Atty. Angel lessen in any degree the confidence and trust reposed by the public in the
Beltran, Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Tuguegarao, certified that none fidelity, honesty and integrity of the legal profession (Maligsa v. Cabanting,
of the above entries appear in the Notarial Register of Atty. Pascua; that the 272 SCRA 409).
last entry therein was Document No. 1200 executed on December 28, 1998; As a lawyer commissioned to be a notary public, Atty. Pascua is mandated to
and that, therefore, he could not have notarized Documents Nos. 1213 and subscribe to the sacred duties appertaining to his office, such duties being
1214 on December 10, 1998. dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest.
In his comment on the letter-complaint dated September 4, 1999, Atty. Pascua A member of the Bar may be disciplined or disbarred for any misconduct
admitted having notarized the two documents on December 10, 1998, but they in his professional or private capacity. The Court has invariably imposed a
were not entered in his Notarial Register due to the oversight of his legal penalty for notaries public who were found guilty of dishonesty or misconduct
secretary, Lyn Elsie C. Patli, whose affidavit was attached to his comment. in the performance of their duties.
The affidavit-complaints referred to in the notarized documents were filed by In Villarin v. Sabate, Jr. (325 SCRA 123), respondent lawyer was suspended
Atty. Pascua with the Civil Service Commission. Impleaded as respondents from his Commission as Notary Public for a period of one year for notarizing a
therein were Lina M. Garan and the other above-named complainants. They document without affiants appearing before him, and for notarizing the same
filed with this Court a "Motion to Join the Complaint and Reply to Respondent's instrument of which he was one of the signatories. The Court held that
Comment." They maintain that Atty. Pascua's omission was not due to respondent lawyer failed to exercise due diligence in upholding his duties as
inadvertence but a clear case of falsification.1 On November 16, 1999, we a notary public.
granted their motion.2 In Arrieta v. Llosa (282 SCRA 248), respondent lawyer who certified under
Thereafter, we referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant for oath a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of the vendors were dead
investigation, report and recommendation. was suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months, with a
On April 21, 2003, the Office of the Bar Confidant issued its Report and warning that another infraction would be dealt with more severely. In said case,
Recommendation partly reproduced as follows: the Court did not impose the supreme penalty of disbarment, it being the
A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. For respondent's first offense.
this reason, notaries public must observe the utmost care to comply with the In Maligsa v. Cabanting (272 SCRA 409), respondent lawyer was disbarred
formalities and the basic requirement in the performance of their duties from the practice of law, after being found guilty of notarizing a fictitious or
(Realino v. Villamor, 87 SCRA 318). spurious document. The Court considered the seriousness of the offense and
Under the notarial law, "the notary public shall enter in such register, in his previous misconduct for which he was suspended for six months from the
chronological order, the nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or practice of law.
acknowledged before him, the person executing, swearing to, or It appearing that this is the first offense of Atty. Pascua, a suspension from the
acknowledging the instrument, xxx xxx. The notary shall give to each practice of law for a period of six (6) months may be considered enough
instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him a number penalty for him as a lawyer. Considering that his offense is also a ground for
corresponding to the one in his register, and shall also state on the instrument revocation of notarial commission, the same should also be imposed upon
the page or pages of his register on which the same is recorded. No blank line him.
shall be left between entries" (Sec. 246, Article V, Title IV, Chapter II of the PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is most respectfully recommended that the
Revised Administrative Code). notarial commission of Atty. EDWIN V. PASCUA, if still existing, be REVOKED
Failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his notarial register and that he be SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6)
touching his notarial acts in the manner required by law is a ground for months."3
revocation of his commission (Sec. 249, Article VI). After a close review of the records of this case, we resolve to adopt the findings
In the instant case, there is no question that the subject documents allegedly of facts and conclusion of law by the Office of the Bar Confidant. We find Atty.
notarized by Atty. Pascua were not recorded in his notarial register. Pascua guilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties for failing to
Atty. Pascua claims that the omission was not intentional but due to oversight register in his Notarial Register the affidavit-complaints of Joseph B. Acorda
of his staff. Whichever is the case, Atty. Pascua cannot escape liability. His and Remigio B. Domingo.
failure to enter into his notarial register the documents that he admittedly "Misconduct" generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct
notarized is a dereliction of duty on his part as a notary public and he is bound motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose.4 The term,
by the acts of his staff. however, does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent.5
The claim of Atty. Pascua that it was simple inadvertence is far from true. The penalty to be imposed for such act of misconduct committed by a lawyer
The photocopy of his notarial register shows that the last entry which he is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court. In Arrieta v. Llosa,6 wherein
notarized on December 28, 1998 is Document No. 1200 on Page 240. On the Atty. Joel A. Llosa notarized a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of
other hand, the two affidavit-complaints allegedly notarized on December 10, the vendors were already dead, this Court held that such wrongful act
1998 are Document Nos. 1213 and 1214, respectively, under Page No. 243, "constitutes misconduct" and thus imposed upon him the penalty of
Book III. Thus, Fr. Ranhilio and the other complainants are, therefore, correct suspension from the practice of law for six months, this being his first
in maintaining that Atty. Pascua falsely assigned fictitious numbers to the administrative offense. Also, in Vda. de Rosales v. Ramos,7 we revoked the
questioned affidavit-complaints, a clear dishonesty on his part not only as a notarial commission of Atty. Mario G. Ramos and suspended him from the
Notary Public, but also as a member of the Bar. practice of law for six months for violating the Notarial Law in not registering
This is not to mention that the only supporting evidence of the claim of in his notarial book the Deed of Absolute Sale he notarized. In Mondejar v.
inadvertence by Atty. Pascua is the affidavit of his own secretary which is Rubia,8 however, a lesser penalty of one month suspension from the practice
hardly credible since the latter cannot be considered a disinterested witness of law was imposed on Atty. Vivian G. Rubia for making a false declaration in
or party. the document she notarized.
Noteworthy also is the fact that the questioned affidavit of Acorda (Doc. No. In the present case, considering that this is Atty. Pascua's first offense, we
1213) was submitted only when Domingo's affidavit (Doc. No. 1214) was believe that the imposition of a three-month suspension from the practice of
withdrawn in the administrative case filed by Atty. Pascua against Lina law upon him is in order. Likewise, since his offense is a ground for revocation
Garan, et al. with the CSC. This circumstance lends credence to the of notarial commission, the same should also be imposed upon him.
submission of herein complainants that Atty. Pascua ante-dated another WHEREFORE, Atty. Edwin Pascua is declared GUILTY of misconduct and
affidavit-complaint making it appear as notarized on December 10, 1998 and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months with
entered as Document No. 1213. It may not be sheer coincidence then that 12 a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt
with more severely. His notarial commission, if still existing, is WHEREFORE, and as recommended by the NAPOLCOM, Assistant Regional
ordered REVOKED. SO ORDERED. Director Jaime Vega Quitain is hereby DISMISSED from the service, with
JBC No. 013 August 22, 2007 forfeiture of pay and benefits, effective upon receipt of a copy hereof.
Re: Non-disclosure Before the Judicial and Bar Council of the Done in the City of Manila, this 10th day of April in the year of our Lord,
Administrative Case Filed Against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, in His nineteen hundred and ninety-five.
Capacity as the then Asst. Regional Director of the National Police (Sgd. by President Fidel V. Ramos)
Commission, Regional Office XI, Davao City. By the President:
Judge Jaime Vega Quitain was appointed Presiding Judge of the Regional Executive Secretary7
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 10, Davao City on May 17, 2003.1 Subsequent In a letter8 dated October 22, 2003 addressed to DCA Lock, Judge Quitain
thereto, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) received confidential denied having committed any misrepresentation before the JBC. He alleged
information that administrative and criminal charges were filed against Judge that during his interview, the members thereof only inquired about the status
Quitain in his capacity as then Assistant Regional Director, National Police of the criminal cases filed by the NAPOLCOM before the Sandiganbayan, and
Commission (NAPOLCOM), Regional Office 11, Davao City, as a result of not about the administrative case simultaneously filed against him. He also
which he was dismissed from the service per Administrative Order (A.O.) No. alleged that he never received from the Office of the President an official copy
183 dated April 10, 1995. of A.O. No. 183 dismissing him from the service.
In the Personal Data Sheet (PDS)2 submitted to the Judicial and Bar Council Thereafter, DCA Lock directed Judge Quitain to explain within ten (10) days
(JBC) on November 26, 2001, Judge Quitain declared that there were five from notice why he did not include in his PDS, which was sworn to before a
criminal cases (Criminal Cases Nos. 18438, 18439, 22812, 22813, and 22814) notary public on November 22, 2001, the administrative case filed against him,
filed against him before the Sandiganbayan, which were all dismissed. No and the fact of his dismissal from the service.9
administrative case was disclosed by Judge Qutain in his PDS. In his letters10 dated March 13, 2004 and June 17, 2004, respondent explained
To confirm the veracity of the information, then Deputy Court Administrator that during the investigation of his administrative case by the NAPOLCOM Ad
(DCA) Christopher O. Lock (now Court Administrator) requested from the Hoc Committee, one of its members suggested to him that if he resigns from
Sandiganbayan certified copies of the Order(s) dismissing the criminal the government service, he will no longer be prosecuted; that following such
cases.3On even date, letters4 were sent to the NAPOLCOM requesting for suggestion, he tendered his irrevocable resignation from NAPOLCOM on June
certified true copies of documents relative to the administrative complaints 1, 199311 which was immediately accepted by the Secretary of the Department
filed against Judge Quitain, particularly A.O. No. 183 dated April 10, 1995 of Interior and Local Governments; that he did not disclose the case in his PDS
dismissing him from the service. Likewise, DCA Lock required Judge Quitain because he was of the "honest belief" that he had no more pending
to explain the alleged misrepresentation and deception he committed before administrative case by reason of his resignation; that his resignation
the JBC.5 "amounted to an automatic dismissal" of his administrative case considering
In a letter6 dated November 28, 2003, the NAPOLCOM furnished the Office of that "the issues raised therein became moot and academic"; and that had he
the Court Administrator (OCA) a copy of A.O. No. 183 showing that respondent known that he would be dismissed from the service, he should not have
Judge was indeed dismissed from the service for Grave Misconduct for applied for the position of a judge since he knew he would never be appointed.
falsifying or altering the amounts reflected in disbursement vouchers in Finding reasonable ground to hold him administratively liable, then Court
support of his claim for reimbursement of expenses. A.O. 183 partly reads: Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (now a member of this Court) and then
THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES DCA Lock submitted a Memorandum12 dated September 3, 2004 to then Chief
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 183 Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., which states:
DISMISSING FROM THE SERVICE ASSISTANT REGIONAL DIRECTOR In order that this Office may thoroughly and properly evaluate the matter, we
JAIME VEGA QUITAIN, NATIONAL POLICE COMMISSION, REGIONAL deemed it necessary to go over the records of the subject administrative case
OFFICE NO. 11 against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, particularly the matter that pertains to
This refers to the administrative complaint against Jaime Vega Quitain, Administrative Order No. 183 dated 10 April 1995. On 15 May 2004, we
Assistant Regional Director, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), examined the records of said administrative case on file with the NAPOLCOM,
Regional Office No. 11, Davao City, for Grave Misconduct (Violation of Art. 48, Legal Affairs Service, and secured certified [true] copies of pertinent
in relation to Arts. 171 and 217 of the Revised Penal Code and Art. IX of the documents.
Civil Service Law) filed by the NAPOLCOM. After careful perusal of the documents and records available, including the
xxxx letters-explanations of Judge Jaime V. Quitain, this Office finds that there are
After circumspect study, I am in complete accord with the above findings and reasonable grounds to hold him administratively liable.
recommendation of the NAPOLCOM. An examination of the Personal Data Sheet submitted by Judge Quitain with
It was established that the falsification could not have been consummated the Judicial and Bar Council, which was subscribed and sworn to before
without respondent’s direct participation, as it was upon his direction and Notary Public Bibiano M. Bustamante of Davao City on 22 November 2001,
approval that disbursement vouchers were prepared showing the falsified reveals that he concealed material facts and even committed perjury in having
amount. The subsequent endorsement and encashment of the check by answered "yes" to Question No. 24, but without disclosing the fact that he was
respondent only shows his complete disregard for the truth which per se dismissed from the government service. Question No. 24 and his answer
constitutes misconduct and dishonesty of the highest order. By any standard, thereto are hereunder quoted as follows:
respondent had manifestly shown that he is unfit to discharge the functions of 24. Have you ever been charged with or convicted of or otherwise imposed a
his office. Needless to stress, a public office is a position of trust and public sanction for the violation of any law, decree, ordinance or regulation by any
service demands of every government official or employee, no matter how court, tribunal or any other government office, agency or instrumentality in the
lowly his position may be, the highest degree of responsibility and integrity and Philippines or in any foreign country or found guilty of an administrative offense
he must remain accountable to the people. Moreover, his failure to adduce or imposed any administrative sanction? [ / ] Yes [ ] No. If your answer is "Yes"
evidence in support of his defense is a tacit admission of his guilt. Let this be to any of the questions, give particulars.
a final reminder to him that the government is serious enough to [weed out] But all dismissed (acquitted)
misfits in the government service, and it will not be irresolute to impose the Sandiganbayan Criminal Cases Nos. 18438, 18439
severest sanction regardless of personalities involved. Accordingly, Date of [Dismissal] – August 2, 1995
respondent’s continuance in office becomes untenable. Sandiganbayan Criminal Cases Nos. 22812, 22813, 22814
Date of [Dismissal] – July 17, 2000
As borne out by the records, Judge Quitain deliberately did not disclose the against him by reason of his resignation and the assurance made by the
fact that he was dismissed from the government service. At the time he filled NAPOLCOM that no administrative case will be filed, does not hold water. It is
up and submitted his Personal Data Sheet with the Judicial and Bar Council, rather absurd for him to state that his resignation from the NAPOLCOM
he had full knowledge of the subject administrative case, as well as amounts to an automatic dismissal of whatever administrative case filed
Administrative Order No. 183 dismissing him from the government service. against him because when he resigned and relinquished his position, the
Based on the certified documents secured from the Office of the NAPOLCOM, issues raised therein became moot and academic. He claims that he did not
the following data were gathered: bother to follow up the formal dismissal of the administrative case because of
1. In compliance with the "Summons" dated 19 March 1993, signed by said belief. All these are but futile attempts to exonerate himself from
Commissioner Alexis C. Canonizado, Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee of the administrative culpability in concealing facts relevant and material to his
NAPOLCOM, Judge Jaime V. Quitain, through Atty. Pedro S. Castillo, filed his application in the Judiciary. As a member of the Bar, he should know that his
Answer (dated 29 March 1993) to the administrative complaint lodged against resignation from the NAPOLCOM would not obliterate any administrative
him by the Napolcom; liability he may have incurred[,] much less, would it result to the automatic
2. On 30 March 1993, Judge Quitain received a copy of the "Notice of Hearing" dismissal of the administrative case filed against him. The acceptance of his
of even date, signed by Mr. Canonizado, in connection with the formal hearing resignation is definitely without prejudice to the continuation of the
of the subject administrative case scheduled on 30 April 1993; administrative case filed against him. If such would be the case, anyone
3. Administrative Order No. 183, dismissing Judge Quitain from the service, charged administratively could easily escape from administrative sanctions by
was dated 10 April 1995. On 18 April 1995, newspaper items relative to the the simple expedient of resigning from the service. Had it been true that Judge
dismissal of Judge Quitain were separately published in the Mindanao Daily Quitain honestly believes that his resignation amounts to the automatic
Mirror and in the Mindanao Times, the contents of which read as follows: dismissal of his administrative case, the least he could have done was to
Mindanao Times: personally verify the status thereof. He should not have relied on the alleged
Dismissed NAPOLCOM chief airs appeal assurance made by the NAPOLCOM.
Former National Police Commission (Napolcom) acting regional director On the strength of his misrepresentation, Judge Quitain misled the Judicial
Jaime Quitain yesterday appealed for understanding to those allegedly behind and Bar Council by making it appear that he had a clean record and was
his ouster from his post two years ago. Quitain, who was one of the guests in qualified to join the Judiciary. His prior dismissal from the government service
yesterday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw, wept unabashedly as he read his prepared is a blot on his record, which has gone [worse] and has spread even more
statement on his dismissal from government service. because of his concealment of it. Had he not concealed said vital fact, it could
Quitain claimed that after Secretary Luis Santos resigned from the Department have been taken into consideration when the Council acted on his application.
of Interior and Local Governments in 1991, a series of administrative charges His act of dishonesty renders him unfit to join the Judiciary, much less remain
were hurled against him by some regional employees. sitting as a judge. It even appears that he was dismissed by the NAPOLCOM
"I was dismissed from the Napolcom Office without due process," Quitain said. for misconduct and dishonesty.
He also said he had no idea as to who the people (sic) are behind the alleged Thus, the OCA recommended that: (1) the instant administrative case against
smear campaign leveled against him. respondent be docketed as an administrative matter; and (2) that he be
"Whoever is behind all this, I have long forgiven you. My only appeal to you, dismissed from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to any position
give me my day in court, give me the chance to clear my name, the only legacy in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations,
that I can leave to my children," Quitain said in his statement. and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits except accrued leave credits.
"It is my constitutional right to be present in all proceedings of the Respondent was required to Comment.13
administrative case," he also said. In compliance with the Court’s Resolution respondent filed his
Quitain was appointed Assistant Regional Director of Napolcom in 1991 by Comment14 contending that before he filed his application for RTC Judge with
then President Corazon Aquino upon the recommendation of Secretary the JBC, he had no knowledge that he was administratively dismissed from
Santos. He was later designated Napolcom acting regional director for Region the NAPOLCOM service as the case was "secretly heard and decided." He
XI. averred that:
Mindanao Daily Mirror: 1. Being a religious lay head and eventually the Pastoral Head of the
Quitain vows to clear name Redemptorist Eucharistic Lay Ministry in Davao City and the surrounding
Former assistant regional director Jaime Quitain of the National Police provinces, he was recruited as one of the political followers of then Mayor Luis
Commission (Napolcom) vowed yesterday to clear his name in court from T. Santos of Davao City, who later became the Secretary of the Department
charges of tampering with an official receipt. of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and was instrumental in his
Quitain[,] who is running for a council seat, expressed confidence that he appointment as Assistant Regional Director of the National Police
would soon be vindicated in court against the group that plotted his ouster from Commission, Region XI;
office: He said his only appeal was for Interior and Local Government 2. After Secretary Luis T. Santos was replaced as DILG Secretary, the political
Secretary Rafael Alunan to grant him his day in court to answer the charges. followers of his successor, who were the same followers involved in the chain
"Whoever was behind all of these things, I have long forgiven them," Quitain of corruption prevalent in their department, began quietly pressing for his
said. (Quitain) resignation as Assistant Regional Director;
"Just give me the chance to clear my name because this is the only legacy 3. Finding difficulty in attacking his honesty and personal integrity, his
that I can give my children," Quitain said. detractors went to the extent of filing criminal charges against him;
While the records of the subject administrative case on file with the 4. Before these criminal charges were scheduled for trial, he was being
NAPOLCOM Office does not bear proof of receipt of Administrative Order No. convinced to resign in exchange for the dismissal of said criminal charges, but
183 by Judge Quitain, the same does not necessarily mean that he is totally when he refused to do so, he was unjustifiably detailed or "exiled" at the DILG
unaware of said Administrative Order. As shown by the above-quoted central office in Manila;
newspaper clippings, Judge Quitain even aired his appeal and protest to said 5. Upon his "exile" in Manila for several months, he realized that even his
Administrative Order. immediate superiors cooperated with his detractors in instigating for his
xxxx removal. Hence, upon advice of his relatives, friends and the heads of their
Judge Quitain asseverated that he should not have applied with the JBC had pastoral congregation, he resigned from his position in NAPOLCOM on
he known that he was administratively charged and was consequently condition that all pending cases filed against him, consisting of criminal cases
dismissed from the service since he will not be considered. But this may be only, shall be dismissed, as in fact they were dismissed;
the reason why he deliberately concealed said fact. His claim that he did not 6. From then on he was never formally aware of any administrative case filed
declare the administrative case in his Personal Data Sheet because of his against him. Hence, when he submitted his Personal Data Sheet before the
honest belief that there is no administrative or criminal case that would be filed 14
Judicial and Bar Council in support of his application as RTC judge, he made Quitain ought to know, cessation from office by his resignation does not
the following answer in Question No. 23: warrant the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed against him while he
23. Is there any pending civil, criminal, or administrative (including disbarment) was still in the service nor does it render said administrative case moot and
case or complaint filed against you pending before any court, prosecution academic.22 Judge Quitain was removed from office after investigation and
office, any other office, agency or instrumentality of the government, or the was found guilty of grave misconduct. His dismissal from the service is a clear
Integrated Bar of the Philippines? proof of his lack of the required qualifications to be a member of the Bench.
He could only give a negative answer since there was no pending More importantly, it is clear that Judge Quitain deliberately misled the JBC in
administrative case filed against him that he knows; his bid to gain an exalted position in the Judiciary. In Office of the Court
7. Had he known that there was an administrative case filed against him he Administrator v. Estacion, Jr.,23 this Court stressed:
would have desisted from applying as a judge and would have given his full x x x The important consideration is that he had a duty to inform the appointing
attention to the said administrative case, if only to avoid ensuing authority and this Court of the pending criminal charges against him to enable
embarrassment; and them to determine on the basis of his record, eligibility for the position he was
8. The filing of the administrative case against him as well as the proceedings seeking. He did not discharge that duty. His record did not contain the
had thereon and the decision rendered therein, without his knowledge, could important information in question because he deliberately withheld and thus
have probably occurred during his "exile period" when he was detailed effectively hid it. His lack of candor is as obvious as his reason for the
indefinitely in Manila. The proceedings had in the said administrative case are suppression of such a vital fact, which he knew would have been taken into
null and void since he was denied due process. account against him if it had been disclosed."
Respondent’s Comment was submitted to the OCA for evaluation, report and Thus, we find respondent guilty of dishonesty. "Dishonesty" means
recommendation.15 "disposition to lie, cheat or defraud; unworthiness; lack of integrity."24
OCA submitted its Memorandum16 dated August 11, 2005 stating therein that Section 8(2), Rule 14025 of the Rules of Court classifies dishonesty as a
it was adopting its earlier findings contained in its Memorandum dated serious charge. Section 11, same Rules, provides the following sanctions:
September 3, 2004. Based on the documents presented, it can not be denied SEC. 11. Sanctions. – A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious charge, any of
that at the time Judge Quitain applied as an RTC judge, he had full knowledge the following sanctions may be imposed:
of A.O. No. 183 dismissing him from government service. Considering that 1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the
Judge Quitain’s explanations in his Comment are but mere reiterations of his Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or appointment
allegations in the previous letters to the OCA, the OCA maintained its to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations.
recommendation that Judge Quitain be dismissed from the service with Provided, however, That the forfeiture of benefits shall in no case include
prejudice to his reappointment to any position in the government, including accrued leave credits;
government-owned or controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all 2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three
retirement benefits except accrued leave credits. (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or
The Court fully agrees with the disquisition and the recommendation of the 3. A fine of not less than ₱20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.
OCA. In Re: Inquiry on the Appointment of Judge Enrique A. Cube,26 we held:
It behooves every prospective appointee to the Judiciary to apprise the By his concealment of his previous dismissal from the public service, which
appointing authority of every matter bearing on his fitness for judicial office, the Judicial and Bar Council would have taken into consideration in acting on
including such circumstances as may reflect on his integrity and probity. These his application, Judge Cube committed an act of dishonesty that rendered him
are qualifications specifically required of appointees to the Judiciary by Sec. unfit to be appointed to, and to remain now in, the Judiciary he has tarnished
7(3), Article VIII of the Constitution.17 with his falsehood.
In this case, Judge Quitain failed to disclose that he was administratively WHEREFORE, Judge Enrique A. Cube of the Metropolitan Trial Court of
charged and dismissed from the service for grave misconduct per A.O. No. Manila is DISMISSED with prejudice to his reappointment to any position in
183 dated April 10, 1995 by no less than the former President of the the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and
Philippines. He insists that on November 26, 2001 or before he filed with the with forfeiture of all retirement benefits. This decision is immediately
JBC his verified PDS in support of his application for RTC Judge, he had no executory.
knowledge of A.O. No. 183; and that he was denied due process. He further We cannot overemphasize the need for honesty and integrity on the part of all
argues that since all the criminal cases filed against him were dismissed on those who are in the service of the Judiciary.27 We have often stressed that
August 2, 1995 and July 17, 2000, and considering the fact that he resigned the conduct required of court personnel, from the presiding judge to the
from office, his administrative case had become moot and academic. lowliest clerk of court, must always be beyond reproach and circumscribed
Respondent’s contentions utterly lack merit. with the heavy burden of responsibility as to let them be free from any
No amount of explanation or justification can erase the fact that Judge Quitain suspicion that may taint the Judiciary. We condemn, and will never
was dismissed from the service and that he deliberately withheld this countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in
information. His insistence that he had no knowledge of A.O. No. 183 is belied the administration of justice, which would violate the norm of public
by the newspaper items published relative to his dismissal. It bears emphasis accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people
that in the Mindanao Times dated April 18, 1995,18 Judge Quitain stated in one in the Judiciary.28lavvphil
of his interviews that "I was dismissed from the (Napolcom) office without due Considering the foregoing, Judge Quitain is hereby found guilty of grave
process." It also reads: "Quitain, who was one of the guests in yesterday’s misconduct. He deserves the supreme penalty of dismissal.
Kapehan sa Dabaw, wept unabashedly as he read his prepared statement on However, on August 9, 2007, the Court received a letter from Judge Quitain
his dismissal from the government service." Neither can we give credence to addressed to the Chief Justice stating that he is tendering his irrevocable
the contention that he was denied due process. The documents submitted by resignation effective immediately as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial
the NAPOLCOM to the OCA reveal that Commissioner Alexis C. Canonizado, Court, Branch 10, Davao City. Acting on said letter, "the Court Resolved to
Chairman Ad Hoc Committee, sent him summons on March 19, 1993 accept the irrevocable resignation of Judge Jaime V. Quitain effective August
informing him that an administrative complaint had been filed against him and 15, 2007, without prejudice to the decision of the administrative case."29
required him to file an answer.19 Then on March 29, 1993, respondent, through Verily, the resignation of Judge Quitain which was accepted by the Court
his counsel, Atty. Pedro Castillo, filed an Answer.20 In administrative without prejudice does not render moot and academic the instant
proceedings, the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, administrative case. The jurisdiction that the Court had at the time of the filing
or an opportunity to explain one’s side or opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the respondent
of the action or ruling complained of. Where opportunity to be heard either judge by his resignation and its consequent acceptance – without prejudice –
through oral arguments or through pleadings is accorded, there is no denial of by this Court, has ceased to be in office during the pendency of this case. The
due process.21Furthermore, as we have earlier mentioned and which Judge 15 Court retains its authority to pronounce the respondent official innocent or
guilty of the charges against him. A contrary rule would be fraught with injustice having been filed out of time as three years had elapsed since the order
and pregnant with dreadful and dangerous implications.30 Indeed, if innocent, awarding Bengson P31 million as costs of suit became final and executory.[5]
the respondent official merits vindication of his name and integrity as he leaves
the government which he has served well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves Petitioner filed an MR of the above decision and, while it was pending
to receive the corresponding censure and a penalty proper and imposable resolution at the CA, respondent judge, on December 16, 1998, issued an
under the situation.31 alias writ of execution ordering petitioner to pay Bengson the P31
WHEREFORE, in view of our finding that JUDGE JAIME V. QUITAIN is guilty million.[6] Pursuant thereto, respondent Atty. Mario Anacleto M. Baez, acting
of grave misconduct which would have warranted his dismissal from the as sheriff of Branch 26, executed the writ and levied on petitioners shares of
service had he not resigned during the pendency of this case, he is hereby stock in San Miguel Corporation (SMC) worth P6.2 million. The garnished
meted the penalty of a fine of ₱40,000.00. It appearing that he has yet to apply shares were later sold at public auction with Bengson as the only bidder.
for his retirement benefits and other privileges, if any, the Court likewise
ORDERS the FORFEITURE of all benefits, except earned leave credits which Aggrieved, petitioner moved to quash the writ on the ground that its funds and
Judge Quitain may be entitled to, and he is PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED properties were exempt from garnishment, levy and execution under Section
from reinstatement and appointment to any branch, instrumentality or agency 39 of RA 8291.[7] Respondent judge denied the motion stating that only funds
of the government, including government-owned and/or controlled and properties that were necessary to maintain petitioners actuarial solvency,
corporations. like contributions of GSIS members, were exempt from garnishment, levy and
This Decision is immediately executory. execution under RA 8291.[8]
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Judge Jaime V. Quitain’s 201 File.
SO ORDERED. Petitioner filed its MR of the trial courts denial of its motion to quash the writ
A.M. No. RTJ-04-1831 February 2, 2007 but this was rejected as well.
99-796-RTJ) Petitioner, Via a special civil action for certiorari with an urgent motion for the issuance of
-versus- a writ of preliminary injunction and/or restraining order (TRO), petitioner came
HON. VICENTE A. PACQUING, Presiding Judge, Branch 28 and MARIO to us questioning the garnishment and sale on execution of its SMC shares.
ANACLETO M. BAEZ, JR., Clerk of Court, RTC, San Fernando City, La The petition was docketed as G.R. No. 136874.[9]
x----------------------------------------------------x We referred G.R. No. 136874 to the CA for consideration and adjudication on
RESOLUTION the merits. In the CA, it was re-docketed as CA-G.R. SP. No. 51131 and was
CORONA, J. consolidated with CA-G.R. SP. No. 47669.[10]
In 1971, Bengson Commercial Building, Inc. (Bengson) borrowed P4,250,000
from petitioner Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), secured by Later, the CA dismissed both petitions.[11]
real estate and chattel mortgages. When Bengson defaulted in the payment
of the amortizations, petitioner extrajudicially foreclosed the mortgaged Petitioner questioned the CAs dismissal of CA-G.R. SP. No. 47669 via a
properties and sold them at public auction where it emerged as the highest petition for review in this Court docketed as G.R. No. 137448,[12] the ultimate
bidder. issue of which was the existence of grounds for relief from the P31 million
costs of suit judgment by respondent judge.
In 1977, Bengson filed an action in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San
Fernando, La Union, Branch 26[1] to annul the extrajudicial foreclosure. The Later, petitioner filed another case, a special civil action for certiorari in this
trial court, through Judge Antonio Fineza, declared the foreclosure void and Court, this time contesting the CAs dismissal of its petition in CA-G.R. No.
directed petitioner to restore to Bengson the foreclosed properties, pay 51131. Docketed as G.R. No. 141454,[13] the petition ascribed grave abuse of
damages and costs of suit. discretion on the part of the CA for upholding the trial courts issuance of the
alias writ of execution and the subsequent garnishment and sale of its shares
Petitioner appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals (CA). The CA affirmed in SMC.
with modification the trial courts decision and remanded the case for reception
of evidence on the costs of suit and determination of the replacement value of Petitioner also filed this administrative complaint[14] against respondents for
the properties should petitioner fail to return them. The CA decision became ignorance of the law, bias and partiality, and for violation of RA 8291. In its
final and executory on February 10, 1988. complaint, petitioner alleged:
In fine, [respondent judge] refused to take cognizance of [Section 39, RA
When petitioner failed to return the foreclosed properties, the new presiding 8291]. He refused to await an authoritative and definitive resolution of the
judge of Branch 26, respondent Judge Vicente A. Pacquing, ordered it to pay issues [on the exemption of GSISs funds and properties] from execution or the
Bengson the equivalent value of the foreclosed properties. Thereafter, issue of whether GSIS is entitled to a relief from judgment of his [P]31 million
Bengson moved that it be permitted to present evidence on the costs of suit. peso cost[s] of suit. [H]e was in a hurry, as Bengson, to execute the P31 million
On April 6, 1995, the trial court directed petitioner to pay Bengson P31 million costs of suit[O]n the other hand, Sheriff Mario Anacleto M. Baez, seemed to
as costs of suit. This order became final on April 24, 1995. have the same objective when he refused to take heed of [GSISs request] to
hold in abeyance the execution sale on the basis of Section 39 (RA 8291).
Petitioner filed an urgent omnibus motion with the court a quo stating that its
counsel, Atty. Rogelio Terrado, went on AWOL and never informed it of The foregoing only shows [respondent judges] deliberate disregard of the
respondent judges order.[2] This motion, treated as petition for relief from express provisions of [RA 8291], specifically Section 39and his bias, given his
judgment by respondent judge, was dismissed on January 16, 1997.[3] exorbitant award for cost[s] of suit, bereft, as it is, of any legal basis. It evidently
reveals a malicious scheme that seriously undermines the very integrity and
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration (MR) but respondent judge denied impartiality of his court.
the same on April 23, 1998.
The same can be said of the acts of Sheriff Baez in garnishing and selling
Petitioner then instituted a special civil action for certiorari in the CA docketed [GSISs shares of stock in SMC] to Bengson, characterized by an unusual
as CA-G.R. SP No. 47669[4] assailing the court a quos denial of its petition for swiftness and in clear disregard of the express provision of Section 39, RA
relief from judgment. The CA, however, dismissed CA-G.R. SP No. 47669 for 8291[15]
We referred the complaint to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for becomes final, the winning party is entitled to a writ of execution and the
investigation, report and recommendation. In its report[16] to the Court, the issuance thereof becomes a courts ministerial duty.[28]
OCA found nothing in the records to support petitioners accusations against
both respondents. According to the OCA, even assuming that respondent Assuming ex gratia argumenti that respondent judge erred in issuing the alias
judge erred in interpreting RA 8291, such error did not constitute gross writ, his act would still not merit administrative sanction absent malice or bad
ignorance of the law. It added that the records also failed to prove malice, faith.[29] Bad faith does not simply connote poor or flawed judgment; it imports
fraud, dishonesty or bad faith on the part of respondent judge in issuing the a dishonest purpose, moral obliquity or conscious doing of a wrong.
assailed alias writ of execution.
On petitioners allegations against respondent Atty. Baez, the OCA likewise Furthermore, for allegations of bias and partiality to stand, petitioner should
found no reason to hold him liable for failing to defer the execution of the writ. have demonstrated that respondent judges decisions and orders came from
extrajudicial sources or from some bases other than what he had learned from
The OCA then recommended the dismissal of petitioners complaint against his study of the case.[30] Decisions formed in the course of judicial
respondents.[17] proceedings, although they appear erroneous, are not necessarily partial as
On petitioners motion, we referred the case to the CA for further investigation. long as they are culled from the arguments and evidence of the parties.[31] The
It was assigned to Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios, who acted as party who alleges partiality must prove it with clear and convincing evidence.
investigating officer. Before a hearing on the case could be conducted, Petitioner failed in that aspect.
respondent judge died.[18] The hearing proceeded but we withheld his benefits
pending the completion of the investigation of his case by Justice Barrios. Interestingly, this Court, in our decision in G.R. Nos. 137448 and 141454,
nullified the orders of respondent judge only to give petitioner another chance
Subsequently, Justice Barrios submitted his report[19] to us agreeing with to seek redress from the gross negligence and mistake of its then counsel,
OCAs findings that petitioners complaint against respondents was unfounded. Atty. Terrado. We did not at all declare respondent judges orders as erroneous
According to Justice Barrios: or tainted with malice or bad faith. In our decision, we said:

Assuming for the nonce that [respondent judge] erred in issuing the Order of It is readily apparent that part of [petitioners] predicament stemmed from the
16 December 1998 without awaiting the resolution of [petitioners motion for negligence or mistake, to put it mildly, of its former counsels.
reconsideration], and in holding that [its] properties are not exempt from
execution, these would not be errors that are gross and patent, or done Indeed, it is undisputed that despite ample opportunity, [petitioners] counsel,
maliciously, deliberately or in evident bad faith. [Petitioner] has not presented Atty. Rogelio Terrado, did not rebut BENGSONs evidence on the costs of suit
proof to the contrary, which with the factual milieu would call for administrative or, at the very least, verify the schedule of costs and cross-examine
sanctions against [respondent judge]. As a matter of public policy, the acts of BENGSONs witnesses. Much worse, he allowed the 6 April 1995 Order
the judge in his official capacity are not subject to disciplinary action, even awarding BENGSON P31 million costs of suit to attain finality by not filing a
though such acts are erroneous. Good faith and absence of malice, corrupt motion for reconsideration with the trial court or a petition with the Court of
motives or improper considerations are sufficient defenses in which a judge Appeals. Instead, he went AWOL without informing petitioner of the said
charged with ignorance of [the] law can find refuge.[20] Order. These acts constituted gross negligence, if not fraud, and resulted in
the deprivation of petitioner of an opportunity to move to reconsider or appeal
the adverse order.
He added that the filing of the administrative charges against respondents was
premature because this Court at that time had yet to decide G.R. No. 137448 [A]s a general rule, the negligence or mistake of a counsel binds the client for
and G.R. No. 141454. He thus recommended the dismissal of the otherwise there would be never be no end to a suit so long as new counsel
administrative charges against respondents. could be employed who could allege and show that the former counsel had
not been sufficiently diligent, experienced, or learned. But if under the
On January 31, 2002,[21] we handed down our decision in the above cases circumstances of the case, the rule deserts its proper office as an aid to justice
nullifying the CAs resolutions dismissing G.R. Nos. 51131[22] and 47669.[23] In and becomes a great hindrance and chief enemy, its rigors must be relaxed to
the same decision, we set aside respondent judges January 16, 1997 order admit exceptions thereto and prevent miscarriage of justice. In other words,
dismissing petitioners petition for relief from judgment and his April 23, 1998 the court has the power to except a particular case from the operation of the
order denying the MR.[24] rule whenever the purposes of justice require it.
Notwithstanding the nullification of respondent judges orders, we are adopting
the findings and recommendations of the OCA and Justice Barrios.
Moreover, the filing of an administrative complaint is not the proper remedy for
For a judge to be administratively liable for ignorance of the law, the acts correcting the actions of a judge perceived to have gone beyond the norms of
complained of must be gross or patent.[25] To constitute gross ignorance of the propriety, where a sufficient remedy exists.[32] The actions against judges
law, such acts must not only be contrary to existing law and jurisprudence but should not be considered as complementary or suppletory to, or substitute for,
also motivated by bad faith, fraud, malice or dishonesty.[26] That certainly does the judicial remedies which can be availed of by a party in a case.[33]
not appear to be the case here as petitioners complaint was spawned merely
by the honest divergence of opinion between petitioner and respondent judge Regarding the accusations against respondent Atty. Baez, the Court finds no
as to the legal issues and applicable laws involved.[27] Petitioner also proffered basis to hold him liable for executing the assailed writ at that time. Undeniably,
no evidence that respondent judges acts were imbued with malice or bad faith. the most difficult phase of any proceeding is the execution of
judgment.[34] Charged with this task, he must act with considerable dispatch to
In the same vein, we hold that respondent judge was neither biased nor partial administer justice. Otherwise, a judgment, if not executed at once, would just
against petitioner when he issued the alias writ of execution. Petitioners be an empty victory on the part of the prevailing party.[35] In executing the writ,
assertion that respondent judge precipitately issued the alias writ is not Atty. Baez merely carried out a ministerial duty. He had no discretion to
supported by the records. On the contrary, the records indicate that the writ implement the writ or not.
was issued more than three years from the finality of the order directing
petitioner to pay Bengson P31 million as costs of suit. Its issuance was not all WHEREFORE, the complaint for ignorance of the law, bias and partiality, and
tainted with undue haste. In the exercise of his judicial discretion, respondent violation of RA 8291 against the late Judge Vicente A. Pacquing and Atty.
judge believed that the issuance of the alias writ had become forthwith a matter Mario Anacleto M. Baez, is hereby DISMISSED.
of right following the finality of said order. The rule is that once a judgment 17
Let a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Office of the Court xxx xxx xxx
Administrator so that the benefits due the late respondent judge can be FINDINGS AND COMMENT
promptly released to his heirs, unless there exists some other lawful cause to There is no controversy that the respondent had carnal knowledge of the
withhold the same. complainant. The complainant claims she surrendered to him under
SO ORDERED. circumstances of violence and intimidation, but the undersigned are convinced
A.C. No. 376 April 30, 1963 that the sexual intercourse was performed not once but repeatedly and with
JOSEFINA ROYONG, complainant, vs. ATTY. ARISTON her consent. From her behaviour before and after the alleged rape, she
OBLENA, respondent. appears to have been more a sweetheart than of the victim of an outrage
BARRERA, J.: involving her honor ....
In a verified complaint filed with this Court on January 14, 1959, complainant But the foregoing observations notwithstanding, the undersigned cannot in
Josefina Royong charged the respondent Ariston J. Oblena, a member of the conscience recommend respondent's exoneration. The respondent tempted
Philippine Bar, with rape allegedly committed on her person in the manner Briccia Angeles to live maritally with him not long after she and her husband
described therein. Upon requirement of this Court, the respondent filed his parted, and it is not improbable that the spouses never reconciled because of
answer denying all the allegations in the complaint and praying that he be not him. His own evidence shows that, tiring of her after more than fifteen years of
disbarred. On February 3, 1959, this Court referred the case to the Solicitor adulterous relationship with her and on the convenient excuse that she, Briccia
General for investigation, report and recommendation. Angeles, could not bear a child, he seduced Josefina Andalis, then 17 or 18
On July 10, 1961, the Solicitor General submitted his report on the case with years of age, resulting in her pregnancy and the birth of a child, on June 2,
the recommendation that the respondent "be permanently removed from his 1959. The seduction was accomplished with grave abuse of confidence and
office lawyer and his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys". The pertinent by means of promises of marriage which he knew he could not fulfill without
part of the report reads as follows: grievous injury to the woman who forsook her husband so that he, respondent,
The complainant testified that after lunch on August 5, 1958, Cecilia Angeles, could have all of her. He also took advantage of his moral influence over her.
her foster mother, left her alone in their house and went down to the pig sty to From childhood, Josefina Andalis, treated him as an uncle and called him 'tata'
feed the pigs. At about 1:00 p.m., while she" (complainant) was ironing clothes (uncle), undoubtedly because he is the paramour of a sister of her mother.
on the second floor of the house the respondent entered and read a Considering her age (she was 17 or 18 years old then), it is not difficult to see
newspaper at her back. Suddenly he covered her mouth with one hand and why she could not resist him.
with the other hand dragged her to one of the bedrooms of the house and The evidence further shows that on July 22, 1954, the respondent filed a sworn
forced her to lie down on the floor. She did not shout for help because he petition dated May 22, 1954 alleging "that he is a person of good moral
threatened her and her family with death. He next undressed as she lay on the character" (Par. 3) and praying that the Supreme Court permit him "to take the
floor, then had sexual intercourse with her after he removed her panties and bar examinations to be given on the first Saturday of August, 1954, or at any
gave her hard blows on the thigh with his fist to subdue her resistance. After time as the Court may fix.."
the sexual intercourse, he warned her not to report him to her foster parents, But he was not then the person of good moral character he represented
otherwise, he would kill her and all the members of her family. She resumed himself to be. From 1942 to the present, he has continuously lived an
ironing clothes after he left until 5:00 o'clock that afternoon when she joined adulterous life with Briccia Angeles whose husband is still alive, knowing that
her foster mother on the first floor of the house. As a result of the sexual his concubine is a married woman and that her marriage still subsists. This
intercourse she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby on June 2, 1959 fact permanently disqualified him from taking the bar examinations, and had it
(pp. 4-8, 21, 23, 26, 27, t.s.n., hearing of Aug. 5, 1959). been known to the Supreme Court in 1954, he would not have been permitted
She admitted that had she shouted for help she would have been heard by the to take the bar examinations that year or thereafter, or to take his oath of office
neighbors that she did not report the outrage to anyone because of the threat as a lawyer. As he was then permanently disqualified from admission to the
made by the respondent; that she still frequented the respondent's house after Philippine Bar by reason of his adulterous relations with a married woman, it
August 5, 1959, sometimes when he was alone, ran errands for him, cooked is submitted that the same misconduct should be sufficient ground for his
his coffee, and received his mail for him. Once, on November 14, 1958, when permanent disbarment, unless we recognize a double standard of morality,
respondent was sick of influenza, she was left alone with him in his house one for membership to the Philippine Bar and another for disbarment from the
while her aunt Briccia Angeles left for Manila to buy medicine (pp. 11, 14-18, office of a lawyer.
24, t.s.n., hearing of August 5, 1959). xxx xxx xxx
The respondent on the witness stand denied that he raped the complainant (p. RECOMMENDATION
3, t.s.n., hearing of March 25 1960). He testified that after lunch on August 5, Wherefore, the undersigned respectfully recommend that after due hearing,
1958, he went to the Commission Of Civil Service to follow up his appointment respondent Ariston J. Oblena be permanently removed from his office as a
as technical assistant in the office of the mayor of Makati, Rizal, and read the lawyer and his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys.
record of the administrative case against Buenaventura Perez (pp. 23, 24, 34, In view of his own findings as a result of his investigation, that even if
t.s.n., hearing of March 25, 1960, Exhs. 1 and 2). respondent did not commit the alleged rape nevertheless he was guilty of other
The respondent, however, admitted that he had illicit relations with the misconduct, the Solicitor General formulated another complaint which he
complainant from January, 1957 to December, 1958, when their clandestine appended to his report, charging the respondent of falsely and deliberately
affair was discovered by the complainant's foster parents, but to avoid criminal alleging in his application for admission to the bar that he is a person of good
liability for seduction, according to him, he limited himself to kissing and moral character; of living adulterously with Briccia Angeles at the same time
embracing her and sucking her tongue before she completed her eighteenth maintaining illicit relations with the complainant Josefina Royong, niece of
birthday. They had their first sexual intercourse on May 11, 1958, after she Briccia, thus rendering him unworthy of public confidence and unfit and unsafe
had reached eighteen, and the second one week later, on May 18. The last to manage the legal business of others, and praying that this Court render
intercourse took place before Christmas in December, 1958. In all, they had judgment ordering "the permanent removal of the respondent ... from his office
sexual intercourse about fifty times, mostly in her house and sometimes in his as a lawyer and the cancellation of his name from the roll of attorneys."
house whenever they had the opportunity. He intended to marry her when she In his answer to this formal complaint, respondent alleged the special defense
could legally contract marriage without her foster parents' intervention, 'in case that "the complaint does not merit action", since the causes of action in the
occasion will permit ... because we cannot ask permission to marry, for her said complaint are different and foreign from the original cause of action for
foster parents will object and even my common-law wife, will object.' After the rape and that "the complaint lacks the necessary formalities called for in Sec.
discovery of their relationship by the complainant's foster parents, he 1, Rule 128 of the Rules of Court." Respondent prayed that after due notice
confessed the affair to Briccia, explaining that he wanted to have a child, and hearing for additional evidence, the complaint be dismissed.
something she (Briccia) could not give him. (pp. 14-16, 19-25, t.s.n., hearing On September 13, 1961, this Court designated the Court Investigators to
of March 25, 1960). 18 receive the additional evidence. Accordingly the case was set for hearing of
which the parties were duly notified. On September 29, 1961, respondent General that he first learned he was not so; and that he did not commit perjury
asked leave to submit a memorandum which was granted, and on October 9, or fraudulent concealment when he filed his petition to take the bar
1961 the same was filed, alleging the following: 1) That the charge of rape has examinations in 1954." (Report of the Court Investigators, pp. 6-8, March 6,
not been proven; 2) That no act of seduction was committed by the 1962).
respondent; 3) That no act of perjury or fraudulent concealment was After hearing, the investigators submitted a report with the finding that: 1)
committed by the respondent when he filed his petition for admission to the Respondent used his knowledge of the law to take advantage by having illicit
bar; and 4) That the respondent is not morally unfit to be a member of the bar. relations with complainant, knowing as he did, that by committing immoral acts
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts on her, he was free from any criminal liability; and 2) Respondent committed
be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the gross immorality by continuously cohabiting with a married woman even after
parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this he became a lawyer in 1955 to the present; and 3) That respondent falsified
stipulation of facts. 1äwphï1.ñët the truth as to his moral character in his petition to take the 1954 bar
At the hearing on November 16, 1961, respondent presented his common-law examinations, being then immorally (adulterously) in cohabitation with his
wife, Briccia Angeles, who testified as follows: common-law wife, Briccia Angeles, a married woman. The investigators also
... Respondent is her common-law husband (t.s.n. 23). She first met recommended that the respondent be disbarred or alternatively, be suspended
respondent on December 16, 1941 at Cavinti, Laguna (t.s.n. 23). She and her from the practice of law for a period of one year.
sister Cecilia Angeles-Royong were evacuated to Cavinti by the Red Cross Upon the submission of this report, a copy of which was served on respondent,
(t.s.n. 23). She was already married (to Teodoro Arines) at the time (t.s.n. 24). through his counsel of record, the case was set for hearing before the Court
She and Arines are from Iriga, Camarines Sur (t.s.n. 24). Respondent and one on April 30, 1962. Respondent asked leave to file his memorandum in lieu of
Mr. Flores registered them (t.s.n. 24) as evacuees. When Mr. Flores asked her oral argument. This was granted and the corresponding memorandum was
about her status she told him she was 'single' (t.s.n. 25). She and her sister, duly filed.
Cecilia, were then told to stay at respondent's house, respondent courted her It is an admitted and uncontroverted fact that the respondent had sexual
(t.s.n. 26). Respondent asked her if she was married and she told him 'we will relations with the complainant several times, and as a consequence she bore
talk about that later on' (t.s.n. 26). She told respondent she was married (to him a child on June 2, 1959; and that he likewise continuously cohabited with
Arines) when she and respondent were already living together as 'husband Briccia Angeles, in an adulterous manner, from 1942 up to the present.
and wife', in 1942( t.s.n. 26). Respondent asked her to marry him, when they The main point in issue is thus limited illicit relations with the complainant
were living as husband and wife (t.s.n. 27). Her sister Cecilia left Cavinti 2 Josefina Royong the and the open cohabitation with Briccia Angeles, a
months after their arrival thereat, but she did not go with her because she and married woman, are sufficient grounds to cause the respondent's disbarment.
respondent 'had already a good understanding'(sexual relations) [t.s.n. 27]. It is argued by the respondent that he is not liable for disbarment
Later, she left Cavinti and went to her hometown in Iriga, Camarines Sur, notwithstanding his illicit relations with the complainant and his open
because respondent was already reluctant to live with her and he told her it cohabitation with Briccia Angeles, a married woman, because he has not been
was better for her to go home to Iriga (t.s.n. 25). Arriving at Iriga, she met her convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude. It is true that the respondent
legitimate husband (Arines), who told her he had already a wife, named has not been convicted of rape, seduction, or adultery on this count, and that
Conching Guevara (t.s.n. 28-29). She then went back to Cavinti (in 1943), with the grounds upon which the disbarment proceedings is based are not among
her father, and lived with respondent (t.s.n. 29). Respondent eventually agreed those enumerated by Section 25, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court for which a
that she live with him (t.s.n. 35); in fact, she is still presently living with lawyer may be disbarred. But it has already been held that this enumeration is
respondent (t.s.n. 35) [Report of Court Investigators, March 6, 1962, pp. 5-6]." not exclusive and that the power of the courts to exclude unfit and unworthy
Thereafter, respondent requested permission to submit an affidavit at a later members of the profession is inherent; it is a necessary incident to the proper
date, which request was also granted. The affidavit was filed on December 16, administration of justice; it may be exercised without any special statutory
1961, the respondent averring, among others, the following:. authority, and in all proper cases unless positively prohibited by statute; and
... That he never committed any act or crime of seduction against the the power may be exercised in any manner that will give the party be disbarred
complainant, because the latter was born on February 19, 1940, and his first a fair trial and a fair opportunity to be heard. (1 Francisco, Rules of Court [1958
sexual intercourse with her took place on May 11, 1958, when she was already ed.] 698, citing In Re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567). Although it is a well settled rule
above 18 years of age; that he had been living with his common-law wife, that the legislature (or the Supreme Court by virtue of its rule-making power)
Briccia Angeles, for almost 20 years, but from the time he began courting her, may provide that certain acts or conduct shall require disbarment, the
he 'had no intention to alienate' her love for her husband, Arines, or to commit accepted doctrine is that statutes and rules merely regulate the power to disbar
the crime of adultery; that he courted Briccia on October 16, 1941, and was instead of creating it, and that such statutes (or rules) do not restrict the
shortly thereafter accepted by her; that on February 21, 1942, he found Briccia general powers of the court over attorneys, who are its officers, and that they
alone in his house, who told him that her sister, Cecilia, had gone to Pagsanjan may be removed for other than statutory grounds (7 C.J.S. 734). In the United
with the other evacuees; that from said date (February 21), to the present, he States, where from our system of legal ethics is derived, "the continued
and Briccia had been living together as common-law husband and wife; that 2 possession of a fair private and professional character or a good moral
or 3 weeks thereafter, he asked Briccia to marry him, but she confessed she character is a requisite condition for the rightful continuance in the practice of
was already married, and maybe her husband (Arines) was still living in Iriga; law for one who has been admitted, and its loss requires suspension or
that he could not then drive Briccia away, because she was a stranger in the disbarment even though the statutes do not specify that as a ground of
place, nor could he urge her to join her sister Cecilia, as the latter had left disbarment". The moral turpitude for which an attorney may be disbarred may
Pagsanjan; that in 1943 she told Briccia to separate from him and to return to consist of misconduct in either his professional or non-professional activities
Iriga, and urged her never to see him again; that contrary to his expectations, (5 Am. Jur. 417). The tendency of the decisions of this Court has been toward
Briccia returned to Cavinti 3 months thereafter; that Briccia strongly insisted to the conclusion that a member of the bar may be removed or suspended from
live with him again, telling him that she cannot separate from him anymore, as office as a lawyer for other than statutory grounds. Indeed, the rule is so
he was ashamed; that Briccia's father told him that Briccia's husband (Arines) phrased as to be broad enough to cover practically any misconduct of a lawyer
had agreed not to molest them as in fact he (Arines) was already living with (In Re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567). In the case at bar, the moral depravity of the
another woman; that he had 'no choice but to live with her' (Briccia) again; that respondent is most apparent. His pretension that before complainant
when he filed his petition to take the bar examinations in 1954, he 'did not have completed her eighteenth birthday, he refrained from having sexual
the slightest intention to hide' from this Court the fact of his 'open cohabitation intercourse with her, so as not to incur criminal liability, as he himself declared
with a married woman' (Briccia Angeles); that he did not state said fact in his — and that he limited himself merely to kissing and embracing her and sucking
petition, because he did not see in the form of the petition being used in 1954 her tongue, indicates a scheming mind, which together with his knowledge of
that the fact must be stated; and that since his birth, he thought and believed the law, he took advantage of, for his lurid purpose.
he was a man of good moral character, and it was only from the Solicitor 19
Moreover, his act becomes more despicable considering that the complainant SEC. 4. Report of the Solicitor General.— Based upon the evidence adduced
was the niece of his common-law wife and that he enjoyed a moral at the hearing, if the Solicitor General finds no sufficient ground to proceed
ascendancy over her who looked up to him as her uncle. As the Solicitor against the respondent, he shall submit a report to the Supreme Court
General observed: "He also took advantage of his moral influence over her. containing his findings of fact and conclusion, whereupon the respondent shall
From childhood, Josefina Andalis (Royong), treated him as an uncle and be exonerated unless the court orders differently.
called him 'tata' (uncle), undoubtedly because he is the paramour of a sister SEC. 5. Complaint of the Solicitor General. Answer of the respondent. — If the
of her mother. Considering her age (she was 17 or 18 years old then), her Solicitor General finds sufficient ground to proceed against the respondent, he
inexperience and his moral ascendency over her, it is not difficult to see why shall file the corresponding complaint, accompanied with all the evidence
she could not resist him." Furthermore, the blunt admission of his illicit introduced in his investigation, with the Supreme Court, and the respondent
relations with the complainant reveals the respondent to be a person who shall be served by the clerk of the Supreme Court with a copy of the complaint
would suffer no moral compunction for his acts if the same could be done with direction to answer the same within fifteen days.
without fear of criminal liability. He has, by these acts, proven himself to be The contention is devoid of merit. Nothing in the language of the foregoing
devoid of the moral integrity expected of a member of the bar. rules requires the Solicitor General to charge in his complaint the same offense
The respondent's misconduct, although unrelated to his office, may constitute charged in the complaint originally filed by the complainant for disbarment.
sufficient grounds for disbarment. This is a principle we have followed since Precisely, the law provides that should the Solicitor General find sufficient
the ruling in In Re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567, where this Court quoted with approval grounds to proceed against the respondent, he shall file the corresponding
the following portion of the decision of the Supreme Court of Kansas in the complaint, accompanied by the evidence introduced in his investigation. The
case of Peyton's Appeal (12 Kan. 398, 404), to wit:. Solicitor General therefore is at liberty to file any case against the respondent
The nature of the office, the trust relation which exists between attorney and he may be justified by the evidence adduced during the investigation..
client, as well as between court and attorney, and the statutory rule prescribing The respondent also maintains that he did not falsify his petition to take the
the qualifications of attorneys, uniformly require that an attorney be a person bar examinations in 1954 since according to his own opinion and estimation
of good moral character. If that qualification is a condition precedent to a of himself at that time, he was a person of good moral character. This
license or privilege to enter upon the practice of the law, it would seem to be contention is clearly erroneous. One's own approximation of himself is not a
equally essential during the continuance of the practice and the exercise of gauge to his moral character. Moral character is not a subjective term, but one
the privilege. So it is held that an attorney will be removed not only for which corresponds to objective reality. Moral character is what a person really
malpractice and dishonesty in his profession, but also for gross misconduct is, and not what he or other people think he is. As former Chief Justice Moran
not connected with his professional duties, which shows him to be unfit for the observed: An applicant for license to practice law is required to show good
office and unworthy of the privileges which his license and the law confer upon moral character, or what he really is, as distinguished from good reputation, or
him. (Emphasis supplied). from the opinion generally entertained of him, the estimate in which he is held
Respondent's conduct though unrelated to his office and in no way directly by the public in the place where he is known. As has been said, ante the
bearing on his profession, has nevertheless rendered him unfit and unworthy standard of personal and professional integrity which should be applied to
of the privileges of a lawyer. We cannot give sanction to his acts. For us to do persons admitted to practice law is not satisfied by such conduct as merely
so would be — as the Solicitor General puts it — recognizing "a double enables them to escape the penalties of criminal law. Good moral character
standard of morality, one for membership to the Philippine Bar, and another includes at least common honesty (3 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court,
for disbarment from the office of the lawyer." If we concede that respondent's [1957 ed.] 626, citing In Re Weinstein, 42 P. [2d] 744 B.L.D., Cooper v.
adulterous relations and his simultaneous seduction of his paramour's niece Greeley. 1 Den. [N.Y.] 3447; In Re Del Rosario, 52 Phil. 399; and People v.
did not and do not disqualify him from continuing with his office of lawyer, this Macauley, 82 N.E. 612). Respondent, therefore, did not possess a good moral
Court would in effect be requiring moral integrity as an essential prerequisite character at the time he applied for admission to the bar. He lived an
for admission to the bar, only to later on tolerate and close its eyes to the moral adulterous life with Briccia Angeles, and the fact that people who knew him
depravity and character degeneration of the members of the bar. seemed to have acquiesced to his status, did not render him a person of good
The decisions relied upon by the respondent in justifying his stand that even if moral character. It is of no moment that his immoral state was discovered then
he admittedly committed fornication, this is no ground for disbarment, are not or now as he is clearly not fit to remain a member of the bar.
controlling. Fornication, if committed under such scandalous or revolting WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby entered striking the name of herein
circumstances as have proven in this case, as to shock common sense of respondent, Ariston J. Oblena, from the roll of attorneys.
decency, certainly may justify positive action by the Court in protecting the ADM. CASE No. 3319 June 8, 2000
prestige of the noble profession of the law. The reasons advanced by the LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent.
respondent why he continued his adulterous relations with Briccia Angeles, in DE LEON, JR., J.:
that she helped him in some way finish his law studies, and that his "sense of Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris
propriety and Christian charity" did not allow him to abandon her after his Bonifacio for allegedly carrying on an immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui,
admission to the bar after almost 13 years of cohabitation, are hardly an husband of complainant, Leslie Ui.
excuse for his moral dereliction. The means he employed, as he stated, in The relevant facts are:
order to extricate himself from the predicament he found himself in, by courting On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our
the complainant and maintaining sexual relations with her makes his conduct Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon City1and as a result of their marital union,
more revolting. An immoral act cannot justify another immoral act. The noblest they had four (4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and Carl Cavin, all
means he could have employed was to have married the complainant as he surnamed Ui. Sometime in December 1987, however, complainant found out
was then free to do so. But to continue maintaining adulterous relations with a that her husband. Carlos Ui, was carrying on an illicit relationship with
married woman and simultaneously maintaining promiscuous relations with respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot a daughter sometime in
the latter's niece is moral perversion that can not be condoned. Respondent's 1986, and that they had been living together at No. 527 San Carlos Street,
conduct therefore renders him unfit and unworthy for the privileges of the legal Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a graduate of
profession. As good character is an essential qualification for admission of an the College of Law of the University of the Philippines was admitted to the
attorney to practice, he may be removed therefrom whenever he ceases to Philippine Bar in 1982.
possess such character (7 C.J.S. 735). Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent.
The respondent further maintains that the Solicitor General exceeded his Complainant then visited respondent at her office in the later part of June 1988
authority in filing the present complaint against him for seduction, adultery and and introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon, respondent
perjury, as it charges an offense or offenses different from those originally admitted to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged, however; that
charged in the complaint of January 14, 1959 for rape, and cites as authority everything was over between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant believed the
Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 128 of the Rules of Court, which state:. 20 representations of respondent and thought things would turn out well from then
on and that the illicit relationship between her husband and respondent would to live together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 or later
come to an end. 1988, when respondent Carlos left the same.
However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the
husband and respondent continued, and that sometime in December 1988, relationship, illicit as complainant puts it, had been prima facie established by
respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child. Complainant then complainant's evidence, this same evidence had failed to even prima
met again with respondent sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with facie establish the "fact of respondent's cohabitation in the concept of husband
respondent to discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail. and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of which is
The illicit relationship persisted and complainant even came to know later on necessary and indispensable to at least create probable cause for the offense
that respondent had been employed by her husband in his company. charged. The statement alone of complainant, worse, a statement only of a
A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed conclusion respecting the fact of cohabitation does not make the complainant's
on August 11, 1989 by the complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs. Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil.
before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the 178).
Philippines (hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, more It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support of
particularly, for carrying on an illicit relationship with the complainant's their respective positions on the matter support and bolster the foregoing
husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer,2 respondent averred that she met Carlos conclusion/recommendation.
Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to be a bachelor, with the WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant complaint
knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese woman in be dismissed for want of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense
Amoy, China, from whom he had long been estranged. She stated that during charged.
one of their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry her and RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.8
they in fact got married in Hawaii, USA in 19853 . Upon their return to Manila, Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to
respondent did not live with Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live with his the Secretary of Justice, but the same was dismissed9 on the ground of
children in their Greenhills residence because respondent and Carlos Ui insufficiency of evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and Carlos
wanted to let the children gradually to know and accept the fact of his second Ui lived together as husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala
marriage before they would live together.4 Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.
In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant
would only return occasionally to the Philippines to update her law practice filed a Motion to Cite Respondent in Contempt of the Commission 10 wherein
and renew legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime in June 1988, she charged respondent with making false allegations in her Answer and for
she was confronted by a woman who insisted that she was the lawful wife of submitting a supporting document which was altered and intercalated. She
Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon her discovery of the true civil status of alleged that in the Answer of respondent filed before the Integrated Bar,
Carlos Ui, respondent then left for Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July 1988 respondent averred, among others, that she was married to Carlos Ui on
and returned only in March 1989 with her two (2) children. On March 20, 1989, October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of Marriage to substantiate her
a few days after she reported to work with the law firm 5 she was connected averment. However, the Certificate of Marriage 11duly certified by the State
with, the woman who represented herself to be the wife of Carlos Ui again Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the Hawaii State Department
came to her office, demanding to know if Carlos Ui has been communicating of Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in
with her. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of marriage between Carlos Ui
It is respondent's contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit and respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and not October 22,
because they were married abroad and that after June 1988, when respondent 1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer. According to complainant, the
discovered Carlos Ui's true civil status, she cut off all her ties with him. reason for that false allegation was because respondent wanted to impress
Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never lived with her in Alabang, and that upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child by Carlos Ui was within the
he resided at 26 Potsdam Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. It was wedlock. 12 It is the contention of complainant that such act constitutes a
respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which belonged to her mother, violation of Articles 183 13 and 184 14 of the Revised Penal Code, and also
Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said house was built exclusively from her contempt of the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false
parents' funds.6 By way of counterclaim, respondent sought moral damages in allegations in her Answer and submitting an altered/intercalated document are
the amount of Ten Million Pesos (Php10,000,000.00) against complainant for indicative of her moral perversity and lack of integrity which make her unworthy
having filed the present allegedly malicious and groundless disbarment case to be a member of the Philippine Bar.
against respondent. In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt), 15 respondent
In her Reply7 dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that averred that she did not have the original copy of the marriage certificate
respondent knew perfectly well that Carlos Ui was married to complainant and because the same was in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she annexed
had children with her even at the start of her relationship with Carlos Ui, and such copy because she relied in good faith on what appeared on the copy of
that the reason respondent went abroad was to give birth to her two (2) the marriage certificate in her possession.
children with Carlos Ui. Respondent filed her Memorandum 16 on February 22, 1995 and raised the
During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, lone issue of whether or not she has conducted herself in an immoral manner
complainant also charged her husband, Carlos Ui, and respondent with the for which she deserves to be barred from the practice of law. Respondent
crime of Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, averred that the complaint should be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely:
docketed as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same was dismissed for insufficiency of (i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the requirement
evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged. The resolution of good moral character for the practice of the legal profession; and
dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent reads: (ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent conducted
Complainant's evidence had prima facie established the existence of the "illicit herself in an immoral manner.
relationship" between the respondents allegedly discovered by the In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was
complainant in December 1987. The same evidence however show that the victim in this case and not Leslie Ui because she did not know that Carlos
respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to the latter part of Ui was already married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent
1988 and/or the early part of 1989. immediately cut-off all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no
It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of reason for her to doubt at that time that the civil status of Carlos Ui was that of
respondents started and was discovered by complainant sometime in 1987 a bachelor because he spent so much time with her, and he was so open in
when she and respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26 Potsdam Street, his courtship. 18
Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila and they, admittedly, continued On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it was
21 highly incredible for her to have knowingly attached such marriage certificate
to her Answer had she known that the same was altered. Respondent condemnation. Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of having
reiterated that there was no compelling reason for her to make it appear that a normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by every single girl.
her marriage to Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987, because the fact xxx xxx xxx
remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got married before complainant Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier marriage to Carlos issued a Notice of Resolution dated December 13, 1997, the dispositive
Ui in June 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui who testified portion of which reads as follows:
and admitted that he was the person responsible for changing the date of the RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
marriage certificate from 1987 to 1985, and complainant did not present APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
evidence to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on this matter. Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Respondent posits that complainant's evidence, consisting of the pictures of Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully
respondent with a child, pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, the
garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS 313, a complaint for Gross Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED for lack of
picture of the same car, and portion of the house and ground, and another merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for knowingly and willfully
picture of the same car bearing Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture of the house attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of Marriage with a stern warning
and the garage, 19 does not prove that she acted in an immoral manner. They that a repetition of the same will merit a more severe penalty.
have no evidentiary value according to her. The pictures were taken by a We agree with the findings aforequoted.
photographer from a private security agency and who was not presented The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to
during the hearings. Further, the respondent presented the Resolution of the enjoy the practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar
Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of
filed by Leslie Ui against respondent for lack of evidence to establish probable due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics.
cause for the offense charged 20 and the dismissal of the appeal by the The requisites for admission to the practice of law are:
Department of Justice21 to bolster her argument that she was not guilty of any a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines;
immoral or illegal act because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, b. a resident thereof;
respondent claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui in good faith c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, or shameless, d. a person of good moral character;
nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Ui whom she e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude, are
believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true civil status, she filed or pending in court;
parted ways with him. f. possess the required educational qualifications; and
In the Memorandum 22 filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she g. pass the bar examinations. 25 (Emphasis supplied)
prayed for the disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the
committed immorality by having intimate relations with a married man which bar is that an applicant must possess good moral character. More importantly,
resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant testified that respondent's possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to
mother, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and her husband the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a
since the late 1970s because they were clients of the bank where Mrs. ground for the revocation of such privilege. It has been held —
Bonifacio was the Branch Manager. 23 It was thus highly improbable that If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the
respondent, who was living with her parents as of 1986, would not have been continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for retaining
informed by her own mother that Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant membership in the legal profession. Membership in the bar may be terminated
likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards the when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117
Commission for submitting a photocopy of a document containing an Phil. 865).
intercalated date. A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
In her Reply to Complainant's Memorandum 24 , respondent stated that conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should
complainant miserably failed to show sufficient proof to warrant her have moral integrity in addition to professional probity.
disbarment. Respondent insists that contrary to the allegations of complainant, It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what
there is no showing that respondent had knowledge of the fact of marriage of is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity
Carlos Ui to complainant. The allegation that her mother knew Carlos Ui to be which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The
a married man does not prove that such information was made known to rule implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-
respondent. laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.
Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant,
submitted its Report and Recommendation, finding that: or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good
In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted by and respectable members of the community." (7 C.J.S. 959). 26
Carlos Ui, the latter represented himself to be single. The Commission does In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she
not find said claim too difficult to believe in the light of contemporary human met Carlos Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love
experience. with him and they got married and as a result of such marriage, she gave birth
Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he represents to two (2) children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui,
himself to be single, separated, or without any firm commitment to another she left him.
woman. The reason therefor is not hard to fathom. By their very nature, single Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of
women prefer single men. respondent are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect on how
The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true civil the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps
status of Carlos Ui, she left for the United States (in July of 1988). She broke morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before.
off all contacts with him. When she returned to the Philippines in March of This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are
1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility and thus must handle
respondent only talked to each other because of the children whom he was their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts of this case lead us to
allowed to visit. At no time did they live together. believe that perhaps respondent would not have found herself in such a
Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act on compromising situation had she exercised prudence and been more vigilant
the part of respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or disgraceful in finding out more about Carlos Ui's personal background prior to her intimate
as to be reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she was more of a victim involvement with him.
that (sic) anything else and should deserve compassion rather than 22
Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused Complainant and respondent are siblings born to Porferio2 R. Caronan, Jr. and
respondent's suspicion that something was amiss in her relationship with Norma A. Caronan. Respondent is the older of the two, having been born on
Carlos Ui, and moved her to ask probing questions. For instance, respondent February 7, 1975, while complainant was born on August 5, 1976.3 Both of
admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with a woman from Amoy, them completed their secondary education at the Makati High School where
China, yet it appeared that she never exerted the slightest effort to find out if complainant graduated in 19934 and respondent in 1991.5 Upon his
Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also, despite their marriage graduation, complainant enrolled at the University of Makati where he obtained
in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first child, a a degree in Business Administration in 1997.6 He started working thereafter
circumstance that is simply incomprehensible considering respondent's as a Sales Associate for Philippine Seven Corporation (PSC), the operator of
allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her. 7-11 Convenience Stores.7 In 2001, he married Myrna G. Tagpis with whom
All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent he has two (2) daughters.8 Through the years, complainant rose from the
was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains ranks until, in 2009, he was promoted as a Store Manager of the 7-11 Store in
that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what respondent Muntinlupa.9
believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality Meanwhile, upon graduating from high school, respondent enrolled at
connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), where he stayed for one (1)
the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. 27 Moreover, year before transferring to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in 1992.10 In
for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly 1993, he was discharged from the PMA and focused on helping their father in
immoral," that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act the family's car rental business. In 1997, he moved to Nueva Vizcaya with his
or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree. 28 wife, Rosana, and their three (3) children.11 Since then, respondent never went
We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only back to school to earn a college degree.12
required to refrain from adulterous relationships . . . but must also so behave In 1999, during a visit to his family in Metro Manila, respondent told
himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is complainant that the former had enrolled in a law school in Nueva Vizcaya.13
flouting those moral standards." 29 Respondent's act of immediately distancing Subsequently, in 2004, their mother informed complainant that respondent
herself from Carlos Ui upon discovering his true civil status belies just that passed the Bar Examinations and that he used complainant's name and
alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no intention of flaunting college records from the University of Makati to enroll at St. Mary's University's
the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession. Complainant's College of Law in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya and take the Bar
bare assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the burden of proof Examinations.14 Complainant brushed these aside as he did not anticipate any
rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its disciplinary powers adverse consequences to him.15
only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory In 2006, complainant was able to confirm respondent's use of his name and
evidence. 30 This, herein complainant miserably failed to do. identity when he saw the name "Patrick A. Caronan" on the Certificate of
On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to Admission to the Bar displayed at the latter's office in Taguig
her Answer, we find improbable to believe the averment of respondent that City.16 Nevertheless, complainant did not confront respondent about it since
she merely relied on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate which was he was pre-occupied with his job and had a family to support.17
provided her by Carlos Ui. For an event as significant as a marriage ceremony, Sometime in May 2009, however, after his promotion as Store Manager,
any normal bride would verily recall the date and year of her marriage. It is complainant was ordered to report to the head office of PSC in Mandaluyong
difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a lawyer as in the case at bar, can City where, upon arrival, he was informed that the National Bureau of
forget the year when she got married. Simply stated, it is contrary to human Investigation (NBI) was requesting his presence at its office in Taft Avenue,
experience and highly improbable. Manila, in relation to an investigation involving respondent who, at that point,
Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an was using the name "Atty. Patrick A. Caronan."18 Accordingly, on May 18,
attachment to her pleading, especially so when she has personal knowledge 2009, complainant appeared before the Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes
of the facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching such Marriage Division of the NBI where he was interviewed and asked to identify documents
Certificate with an intercalated date, the defense of good faith of respondent including: (1) his and respondent's high school records; (2) his transcript of
on that point cannot stand. records from the University of Makati; (3) Land Transportation Office's records
It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest showing his and respondent's driver's licenses; (4) records from St. Mary's
standards of morality.The legal profession exacts from its members nothing University showing that complainant's transcript of records from the University
less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from of Makati and his Birth Certificate were submitted to St. Mary's University's
misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as College of Law; and (5) Alumni Book of St. Mary's University showing
officers of the court demand no less than the highest degree of morality. respondent's photograph under the name "Patrick A. Caronan."19 Complainant
WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L. later learned that the reason why he was invited by the NBI was because of
Bonifacio, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED. respondent's involvement in a case for qualified theft and estafa filed by Mr.
However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer Joseph G. Agtarap (Agtarap), who was one of the principal sponsors at
a photocopy of her Marriage Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date respondent's wedding.20
thereof, with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed Realizing that respondent had been using his name to perpetrate crimes and
on her for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future. commit unlawful activities, complainant took it upon himself to inform other
SO ORDERED. people that he is the real "Patrick A. Caronan" and that respondent's real name
A.C. No. 11316 is Richard A. Caronan.21 However, problems relating to respondent's use of
PATRICK A. CARONAN, Complainant vs. RICHARD A. CARONAN a.k.a. the name "Atty. Patrick A. Caronan" continued to hound him. In July 2013,
"ATTY. PATRICK A. CARONAN," Respondent PSC received a letter from Quasha Ancheta Peña & Nolasco Law Offices
DECISION requesting that they be furnished with complainant's contact details or, in the
PER CURIAM: alternative, schedule a meeting with him to discuss certain matters concerning
For the Court's resolution is the Complaint-Affidavit1 filed by complainant respondent.22 On the other hand, a fellow church-member had also told him
Patrick A. Caronan (complainant), before the Commission on Bar Discipline that respondent who, using the name "Atty. Patrick A. Caronan," almost
(CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), against respondent "Atty. victimized his (church-member's) relatives.23 Complainant also received a
Patrick A. Caronan," whose real name is allegedly Richard A. Caronan phone call from a certain Mrs. Loyda L. Reyes (Reyes), who narrated how
(respondent), for purportedly assuming complainant's identity and falsely respondent tricked her into believing that he was authorized to sell a parcel of
representing that the former has the required educational qualifications to take land in Taguig City when in fact, he was not.24 Further, he learned that
the Bar Examinations and be admitted to the practice of law. respondent was arrested for gun-running activities, illegal possession of
The Facts 23 explosives, and violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 22.25
Due to the controversies involving respondent's use of the name "Patrick A. As pointed out by the IBP, respondent admitted that he and complainant are
Caronan," complainant developed a fear for his own safety and security.26 He siblings when he disclosed upon his arrest on August 31, 2012 that his parents
also became the subject of conversations among his colleagues, which are Porferio Ramos Caronan and Norma Atillo.49 Respondent himself also
eventually forced him to resign from his job at PSC.27 Hence, complainant filed stated that he is married to Rosana Halili-Caronan.50 This diverges from the
the present Complaint-Affidavit to stop respondent's alleged use of the official NSO records showing that "Patrick A. Caronan" is married to Myrna G.
former's name and identity, and illegal practice of law.28 Tagpis, not to Rosana Halili-Caronan.51 Moreover, the photograph taken of
In his Answer,29 respondent denied all the allegations against him and respondent when he was arrested as "Richard A. Caronan" on August 16,
invoked res judicata as a defense. He maintained that his identity can no 2012 shows the same person as the one in the photograph in the IBP records
longer be raised as an issue as it had already been resolved in CBD Case No. of "Atty. Patrick A. Caronan."52 Meanwhile, complainant submitted numerous
09-2362 where the IBP Board of Governors dismissed30 the administrative documents showing that he is the real "Patrick A. Caronan," among which
case31 filed by Agtarap against him, and which case had already been are: (a) his transcript of records from the University of Makati bearing his
declared closed and terminated by this Court in A.C. No. 10074.32 Moreover, photograph;53 (b) a copy of his high school yearbook with his photograph and
according to him, complainant is being used by Reyes and her spouse, the name "Patrick A. Caronan" under it;54 and (c) NBI clearances obtained in
Brigadier General Joselito M. Reyes, to humiliate, disgrace, malign, discredit, 2010 and 2013.55
and harass him because he filed several administrative and criminal To the Court's mind, the foregoing indubitably confirm that respondent falsely
complaints against them before the Ombudsman.33 used complainant's name, identity, and school records to gain admission to
On March 9, 2015, the IBP-CBD conducted the scheduled mandatory the Bar. Since complainant - the real "Patrick A. Caronan" - never took the Bar
conference where both parties failed to appear.34 Instead, respondent moved Examinations, the IBP correctly recommended that the name "Patrick A.
to reset the same on April 20, 2015.35 On such date, however, both paiiies Caronan" be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.
again failed to appear, thereby prompting the IBP-CBD to issue an The IBP was also correct in ordering that respondent, whose real name is
Order36 directing them to file their respective position papers. However, neither "Richard A. Caronan," be barred from admission to the Bar. Under Section 6,
of the parties submitted any.37 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, no applicant for admission to the Bar
The IBP's Report and Recommendation Examination shall be admitted unless he had pursued and satisfactorily
On June 15, 2015, IBP Investigating Commissioner Jose Villanueva Cabrera completed a pre-law course, VIZ.:
(Investigating Commissioner) issued his Report and Section 6. Pre-Law. - No applicant for admission to the bar examination shall
Recommendation,38 finding respondent guilty of illegally and falsely assuming be admitted unless he presents a certificate that he has satisfied the Secretary
complainant's name, identity, and academic records.39 He observed that of Education that, before he began the study of law, he had pursued
respondent failed to controvert all the allegations against him and did not and satisfactorily completed in an authorized and recognized university or
present any proof to prove his identity.40 On the other hand, complainant college, requiring for admission thereto the completion of a four-year high
presented clear and overwhelming evidence that he is the real "Patrick A. school course, the course of study prescribed therein for a bachelor's
Caronan."41 degree in arts or sciences with any of the following subject as major or field
Further, he noted that respondent admitted that he and complainant are of concentration: political science, logic, english, spanish, history, and
siblings when he disclosed upon his arrest on August 31, 2012 that: (a) his economics. (Emphases supplied)
parents are Porferio Ramos Caronan and Norma Atillo; and (b) he is married In the case at hand, respondent never completed his college degree. While he
to Rosana Halili-Caronan.42 However, based on the Marriage Certificate enrolled at the PLM in 1991, he left a year later and entered the PMA where
issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO), "Patrick A. Caronan" is married he was discharged in 1993 without graduating.56 Clearly, respondent has not
to a certain "Myrna G. Tagpis," not to Rosana Halili-Caronan.43 completed the requisite pre-law degree.
The Investigating Commissioner also drew attention to the fact that the The Court does not discount the possibility that respondent may later on
photograph taken of respondent when he was arrested as "Richard A. complete his college education and earn a law degree under his real
Caronan" on August 16, 2012 shows the same person as the one in the name.1âwphi1 However, his false assumption of his brother's name, identity,
photograph in the IBP records of "Atty. Patrick A. Caronan."44 These, and educational records renders him unfit for admission to the Bar. The
according to the Investigating Commissioner, show that respondent indeed practice of law, after all, is not a natural, absolute or constitutional right to be
assumed complainant's identity to study law and take the Bar granted to everyone who demands it.57 Rather, it is a privilege limited to
Examinations.45 Since respondent falsely assumed the name, identity, and citizens of good moral character.58 In In the Matter of the Disqualification of
academic records of complainant and the real "Patrick A. Caronan" neither Bar Examinee Haron S. Meling in the 2002 Bar Examinations and for
obtained the bachelor of laws degree nor took the Bar Exams, the Investigating Disciplinary Action as Member of the Philippine Shari 'a Bar, Atty. Froilan R.
Commissioner recommended that the name "Patrick A. Caronan" with Roll of Melendrez,59the Court explained the essence of good moral character:
Attorneys No. 49069 be dropped and stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.46He Good moral character is what a person really is, as distinguished from good
also recommended that respondent and the name "Richard A. Caronan" be reputation or from the opinion generally entertained of him, the estimate in
barred from being admitted as a member of the Bar; and finally, for making a which he is held by the public in the place where he is known. Moral character
mockery of the judicial institution, the IBP was directed to institute appropriate is not a subjective term but one which corresponds to objective reality. The
actions against respondent.47 standard of personal and professional integrity is not satisfied by such conduct
On June 30, 2015, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XXI- as it merely enables a person to escape the penalty of criminal law. Good
2015-607,48 adopting the Investigating Commissioner's recommendation. moral character includes at least common honesty.60 (Emphasis supplied)
The Issues Before the Court Here, respondent exhibited his dishonesty and utter lack of moral fitness to be
The issues in this case are whether or not the IBP erred in ordering that: (a) a member of the Bar when he assumed the name, identity, and school records
the name "Patrick A. Caronan" be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys; and (b) of his own brother and dragged the latter into controversies which eventually
the name "Richard A. Caronan" be barred from being admitted to the Bar. caused him to fear for his safety and to resign from PSC where he had been
The Court's Ruling working for years. Good moral character is essential in those who would be
After a thorough evaluation of the records, the Court finds no cogent reason lawyers.61 This is imperative in the nature of the office of a lawyer, the trust
to disturb the findings and recommendations of the IBP. relation which exists between him and his client, as well as between him and
As correctly observed by the IBP, complainant has established by clear and the court.62
overwhelming evidence that he is the real "Patrick A. Caronan" and that Finally, respondent made a mockery of the legal profession by pretending to
respondent, whose real name is Richard A. Caronan, merely assumed the have the necessary qualifications to be a lawyer. He also tarnished the image
latter's name, identity, and academic records to enroll at the St. Mary's of lawyers with his alleged unscrupulous activities, which resulted in the filing
University's College of Law, obtain a law degree, and take the Bar of several criminal cases against him. Certainly, respondent and his acts do
Examinations. 24
not have a place in the legal profession where one of the primary duties of its As regards the use of the title Attorney, Meling admits that some of his
members is to uphold its integrity and dignity.63 communications really contained the word Attorney as they were, according
WHEREFORE, respondent Richard A. Caronan a.k.a. "Atty. Patrick A. to him, typed by the office clerk.
Caronan" (respondent) is found GUILTY of falsely assuming the name, In its Report and Recommendation[4] dated December 8, 2003, the OBC
identity, and academic records of complainant Patrick A. Caronan disposed of the charge of non-disclosure against Meling in this wise:
(complainant) to obtain a law degree and take the Bar Examinations. The reasons of Meling in not disclosing the criminal cases filed against him in
Accordingly, without prejudice to the filing of appropriate civil and/or criminal his petition to take the Bar Examinations are ludicrous. He should have known
cases, the Court hereby resolves that: that only the court of competent jurisdiction can dismiss cases, not a retired
(1) the name "Patrick A. Caronan" with Roll of Attorneys No. 49069 is judge nor a law professor. In fact, the cases filed against Meling are still
ordered DROPPED and STRICKEN OFF the Roll of Attorneys; pending. Furthermore, granting arguendo that these cases were already
(2) respondent is PROHIBITED from engaging in the practice of law or making dismissed, he is still required to disclose the same for the Court to ascertain
any representations as a lawyer; his good moral character. Petitions to take the Bar Examinations are made
(3) respondent is BARRED from being admitted as a member of the Philippine under oath, and should not be taken lightly by an applicant.
Bar in the future; The merit of the cases against Meling is not material in this case. What matters
(4) the Identification Cards issued by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to is his act of concealing them which constitutes dishonesty.
respondent under the name "Atty. Patrick A. Caronan" and the Mandatory In Bar Matter 1209, the Court stated, thus:
Continuing Legal Education Certificates issued in such name It has been held that good moral character is what a person really is, as
are CANCELLED and/or REVOKED; and distinguished from good reputation or from the opinion generally entertained
(5) the Office of the Court Administrator is ordered to CIRCULATE notices of him, the estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he is
and POST in the bulletin boards of all courts of the country a photograph of known. Moral character is not a subjective term but one which corresponds to
respondent with his real name, " Richard A. Caronan," with a warning that he objective reality. The standard of personal and professional integrity is not
is not a member of the Philippine Bar and a statement of his false assumption satisfied by such conduct as it merely enables a person to escape the penalty
of the name and identity of "Patrick A. Caronan." of criminal law. Good moral character includes at least common honesty.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the The non-disclosure of Meling of the criminal cases filed against him makes
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Court Administrator. him also answerable under Rule 7.01 of the Code of Professional
SO ORDERED. Responsibility which states that a lawyer shall be answerable for knowingly
B.M. No. 1154 June 8, 2004 making a false statement or suppressing a material fact in connection with his
IN THE MATTER OF THE DISQUALIFICATION OF BAR EXAMINEE application for admission to the bar.[5]
HARON S. MELING IN THE 2002 BAR EXAMINATIONS AND FOR As regards Melings use of the title Attorney, the OBC had this to say:
DISCIPLINARY ACTION AS MEMBER OF THE PHILIPPINE SHARIA BAR, Anent the issue of the use of the appellation Attorney in his letters, the
ATTY. FROILAN R. MELENDREZ, petitioner, explanation of Meling is not acceptable. Aware that he is not a member of the
RESOLUTION Bar, there was no valid reason why he signed as attorney whoever may have
TINGA, J.: typed the letters.
The Court is here confronted with a Petition that seeks twin reliefs, one of Although there is no showing that Meling is engaged in the practice of law, the
which is ripe while the other has been rendered moot by a supervening event. fact is, he is signing his communications as Atty. Haron S. Meling knowing fully
The antecedents follow. well that he is not entitled thereto.As held by the Court in Bar Matter 1209, the
On October 14, 2002, Atty. Froilan R. Melendrez (Melendrez) filed with the unauthorized use of the appellation attorney may render a person liable for
Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) a Petition[1] to disqualify Haron S. Meling indirect contempt of court.[6]
(Meling) from taking the 2002 Bar Examinations and to impose on him the Consequently, the OBC recommended that Meling not be allowed to take the
appropriate disciplinary penalty as a member of the Philippine Sharia Bar. Lawyers Oath and sign the Roll of Attorneys in the event that he passes the
In the Petition, Melendrez alleges that Meling did not disclose in his Petition to Bar Examinations. Further, it recommended that Melings membership in the
take the 2002 Bar Examinations that he has three (3) pending criminal cases Sharia Bar be suspended until further orders from the Court.[7]
before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Cotabato City, We fully concur with the findings and recommendation of the OBC. Meling,
namely: Criminal Cases Noa. 15685 and 15686, both for Grave Oral however, did not pass the 2003 Bar Examinations. This renders
Defamation, and Criminal Case No. 15687 for Less Serious Physical Injuries. the Petition, insofar as it seeks to prevent Meling from taking the Lawyers Oath
The above-mentioned cases arose from an incident which occurred on May and signing the Roll of Attorneys, moot and academic.
21, 2001, when Meling allegedly uttered defamatory words against Melendrez On the other hand, the prayer in the same Petition for the Court to impose the
and his wife in front of media practitioners and other people. Meling also appropriate sanctions upon him as a member of the Sharia Bar is ripe for
purportedly attacked and hit the face of Melendrez wife causing the injuries to resolution and has to be acted upon.
the latter. Practice of law, whether under the regular or the Sharia Court, is not a matter
Furthermore, Melendrez alleges that Meling has been using the title Attorney of right but merely a privilege bestowed upon individuals who are not only
in his communications, as Secretary to the Mayor of Cotabato City, despite learned in the law but who are also known to possess good moral
the fact that he is not a member of the Bar. Attached to the Petition is an character.[8] The requirement of good moral character is not only a condition
indorsement letter which shows that Meling used the appellation and appears precedent to admission to the practice of law, its continued possession is also
on its face to have been received by the Sangguniang Panglungsod essential for remaining in the practice of law.[9]
of Cotabato City on November 27, 2001. The standard form issued in connection with the application to take the 2002
Pursuant to this Courts Resolution[2] dated December 3, 2002, Meling filed Bar Examinations requires the applicant to aver that he or she has not been
his Answer with the OBC. charged with any act or omission punishable by law, rule or regulation before
In his Answer,[3] Meling explains that he did not disclose the criminal cases a fiscal, judge, officer or administrative body, or indicted for, or accused or
filed against him by Melendrez because retired Judge Corocoy Moson, their convicted by any court or tribunal of, any offense or crime involving moral
former professor, advised him to settle his misunderstanding with turpitude; nor is there any pending case or charge against him/her. Despite
Melendrez. Believing in good faith that the case would be settled because the the declaration required by the form, Meling did not reveal that he has three
said Judge has moral ascendancy over them, he being their former professor pending criminal cases. His deliberate silence constitutes concealment, done
in the College of Law, Meling considered the three cases that actually arose under oath at that.
from a single incident and involving the same parties as closed and The disclosure requirement is imposed by the Court to determine whether
terminated. Moreover, Meling denies the charges and adds that the acts there is satisfactory evidence of good moral character of the applicant.[10] The
complained of do not involve moral turpitude. 25 nature of whatever cases are pending against the applicant would aid the
Court in determining whether he is endowed with the moral fitness demanded (b) Diao never attended Quisumbing College, and never obtained his A.A.
of a lawyer. By concealing the existence of such cases, the applicant then diploma therefrom — which contradicts the credentials he had submitted in
flunks the test of fitness even if the cases are ultimately proven to be support of his application for examination, and of his allegation therein of
unwarranted or insufficient to impugn or affect the good moral character of the successful completion of the "required pre-legal education".
applicant. Answering this official report and complaint, Telesforo A. Diao, practically
Melings concealment of the fact that there are three (3) pending criminal cases admits the first charge: but he claims that although he had left high school in
against him speaks of his lack of the requisite good moral character and results his third year, he entered the service of the U.S. Army, passed the General
in the forfeiture of the privilege bestowed upon him as a member of the Sharia Classification Test given therein, which (according to him) is equivalent to a
Bar. high school diploma, and upon his return to civilian life, the educational
Moreover, his use of the appellation Attorney, knowing fully well that he is not authorities considered his army service as the equivalent of 3rd and 4th year
entitled to its use, cannot go unchecked. In Alawi v. Alauya,[11] the Court had high school.
the occasion to discuss the impropriety of the use of the title Attorney by We have serious doubts, about the validity of this claim, what with
members of the Sharia Bar who are not likewise members of the Philippine respondent's failure to exhibit any certification to that effect (the equivalence)
Bar. The respondent therein, an executive clerk of court of the 4th Judicial by the proper school officials. However, it is unnecessary to dwell on this, since
Sharia District in Marawi City, used the title Attorney in several the second charge is clearly meritorious. Diao never obtained his A.A. from
correspondence in connection with the rescission of a contract entered into by Quisumbing College; and yet his application for examination represented him
him in his private capacity. The Court declared that: as an A.A. graduate (1940-1941) of such college. Now, asserting he had
persons who pass the Sharia Bar are not full-fledged members of the obtained his A.A. title from the Arellano University in April, 1949, he says he
Philippine Bar, hence, may only practice law before Sharia courts. While one was erroneously certified, due to confusion, as a graduate of Quisumbing
who has been admitted to the Sharia Bar, and one who has been admitted to College, in his school records.
the Philippine Bar, may both be considered counselors, in the sense that they Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts
give counsel or advice in a professional capacity, only the latter is an be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the
attorney. The title attorney is reserved to those who, having obtained the parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this
necessary degree in the study of law and successfully taken the Bar stipulation of facts. 1äwphï1.ñët
Examinations, have been admitted to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and This explanation is not acceptable, for the reason that the "error" or "confusion"
remain members thereof in good standing; and it is they only who are was obviously of his own making. Had his application disclosed his having
authorized to practice law in this jurisdiction.[12] obtained A.A. from Arellano University, it would also have disclosed that he
The judiciary has no place for dishonest officers of the court, such as Meling got it in April, 1949, thereby showing that he began his law studies (2nd
in this case. The solemn task of administering justice demands that those who semester of 1948-1949) six months before obtaining his Associate in Arts
are privileged to be part of service therein, from the highest official to the degree. And then he would not have been permitted to take the bar tests,
lowliest employee, must not only be competent and dedicated, but likewise because our Rules provide, and the applicant for the Bar examination must
live and practice the virtues of honesty and integrity. Anything short of this affirm under oath, "That previous to the study of law, he had successfully and
standard would diminish the public's faith in the Judiciary and constitutes satisfactorily completed the required pre-legal education(A.A.) as prescribed
infidelity to the constitutional tenet that a public office is a public trust. by the Department of Private Education," (emphasis on "previous").
In Leda v. Tabang, supra, the respondent concealed the fact of his marriage Plainly, therefore, Telesforo A. Diao was not qualified to take the bar
in his application to take the Bar examinations and made conflicting examinations; but due to his false representations, he was allowed to take it,
submissions before the Court. As a result, we found the respondent grossly luckily passed it, and was thereafter admitted to the Bar. Such admission
unfit and unworthy to continue in the practice of law and suspended him having been obtained under false pretenses must be, and is hereby revoked.
therefrom until further orders from the Court. The fact that he hurdled the Bar examinations is immaterial. Passing such
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED insofar as it seeks the imposition of examinations is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law; taking
appropriate sanctions upon Haron S. Meling as a member of the Philippine the prescribed courses of legal study in the regular manner is equally
Sharia Bar.Accordingly, the membership of Haron S. Meling in the Philippine essential..
Sharia Bar is hereby SUSPENDED until further orders from the Court, the The Clerk is, therefore, ordered to strike from the roll of attorneys, the name
suspension to take effect immediately. Insofar as the Petition seeks to prevent of Telesforo A. Diao. And the latter is required to return his lawyer's diploma
Haron S. Meling from taking the Lawyers Oath and signing the Roll of within thirty days. So ordered.
Attorneys as a member of the Philippine Bar, the same is DISMISSED for B.M. No. 1370 May 9, 2005
having become moot and academic. LETTER OF ATTY. CECILIO Y. AREVALO, JR., REQUESTING
Copies of this Decision shall be circulated to all the Sharia Courts in the EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF IBP DUES.
country for their information and guidance. DECISION
A.C. No. 244 March 29, 1963 This is a request for exemption from payment of the Integrated Bar of the
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR DISBARMENT OF TELESFORO Philippines (IBP) dues filed by petitioner Atty. Cecilio Y. Arevalo, Jr.
A. DIAO, vs. SEVERINO G. MARTINEZ, petitioner. In his letter,[1] dated 22 September 2004, petitioner sought exemption from
BENGZON, C.J.: payment of IBP dues in the amount of P12,035.00 as alleged unpaid
After successfully passing the corresponding examinations held in 1953, accountability for the years 1977-2005. He alleged that after being admitted to
Telesforo A. Diao was admitted to the Bar. the Philippine Bar in 1961, he became part of the Philippine Civil Service from
About two years later, Severino Martinez charged him with having falsely July 1962 until 1986, then migrated to, and worked in, the USA in December
represented in his application for such Bar examination, that he had the 1986 until his retirement in the year 2003. He maintained that he cannot be
requisite academic qualifications. The matter was in due course referred to the assessed IBP dues for the years that he was working in the Philippine Civil
Solicitor General who caused the charge to be investigated; and later he Service since the Civil Service law prohibits the practice of ones profession
submitted a report recommending that Diao's name be erased from the roll of while in government service, and neither can he be assessed for the years
attorneys, because contrary to the allegations in his petition for examination in when he was working in the USA.
this Court, he (Diao) had not completed, before taking up law subjects, the On 05 October 2004, the letter was referred to the IBP for comment.[2]
required pre-legal education prescribed by the Department of Private On 16 November 2004, the IBP submitted its comment[3] stating inter alia: that
Education, specially, in the following particulars: membership in the IBP is not based on the actual practice of law; that a lawyer
(a) Diao did not complete his high school training; and continues to be included in the Roll of Attorneys as long as he continues to be
26 a member of the IBP; that one of the obligations of a member is the payment
of annual dues as determined by the IBP Board of Governors and duly reasonable fee toward defraying the expenses of regulation of the profession
approved by the Supreme Court as provided for in Sections 9 and 10, Rule to which they belong. It is quite apparent that the fee is, indeed, imposed as a
139-A of the Rules of Court; that the validity of imposing dues on the IBP regulatory measure, designed to raise funds for carrying out the noble
members has been upheld as necessary to defray the cost of an Integrated objectives and purposes of integration.
Bar Program; and that the policy of the IBP Board of Governors of no The rationale for prescribing dues has been explained in the Integration of the
exemption from payment of dues is but an implementation of the Courts Philippine Bar,[9] thus:
directives for all members of the IBP to help in defraying the cost of integration For the court to prescribe dues to be paid by the members does not mean that
of the bar. It maintained that there is no rule allowing the exemption of payment the Court is attempting to levy a tax.
of annual dues as requested by respondent, that what is allowed is voluntary A membership fee in the Bar association is an exaction for regulation, while
termination and reinstatement of membership. It asserted that what petitioner tax purpose of a tax is a revenue. If the judiciary has inherent power to regulate
could have done was to inform the secretary of the IBP of his intention to stay the Bar, it follows that as an incident to regulation, it may impose a
abroad, so that his membership in the IBP could have been terminated, thus, membership fee for that purpose. It would not be possible to put on an
his obligation to pay dues could have been stopped. It also alleged that the integrated Bar program without means to defray the expenses. The doctrine
IBP Board of Governors is in the process of discussing proposals for the of implied powers necessarily carries with it the power to impose such
creation of an inactive status for its members, which if approved by the Board exaction.
of Governors and by this Court, will exempt inactive IBP members from The only limitation upon the States power to regulate the privilege of law is
payment of the annual dues. that the regulation does not impose an unconstitutional burden. The public
In his reply[4] dated 22 February 2005, petitioner contends that what he is interest promoted by the integration of the Bar far outweighs the slight
questioning is the IBP Board of Governors Policy of Non-Exemption in the inconvenience to a member resulting from his required payment of the annual
payment of annual membership dues of lawyers regardless of whether or not dues.
they are engaged in active or inactive practice. He asseverates that the Policy Thus, payment of dues is a necessary consequence of membership in the IBP,
of Non-Exemption in the payment of annual membership dues suffers from of which no one is exempt. This means that the compulsory nature of payment
constitutional infirmities, such as equal protection clause and the due process of dues subsists for as long as ones membership in the IBP remains
clause. He also posits that compulsory payment of the IBP annual regardless of the lack of practice of, or the type of practice, the member is
membership dues would indubitably be oppressive to him considering that he engaged in.
has been in an inactive status and is without income derived from his law There is nothing in the law or rules which allows exemption from payment of
practice. He adds that his removal from nonpayment of annual membership membership dues. At most, as correctly observed by the IBP, he could have
dues would constitute deprivation of property right without due process of law. informed the Secretary of the Integrated Bar of his intention to stay abroad
Lastly, he claims that non-practice of law by a lawyer-member in inactive before he left. In such case, his membership in the IBP could have been
status is neither injurious to active law practitioners, to fellow lawyers in terminated and his obligation to pay dues could have been discontinued.
inactive status, nor to the community where the inactive lawyers-members As abovementioned, the IBP in its comment stated that the IBP Board of
reside. Governors is in the process of discussing the situation of members under
Plainly, the issue here is: whether or nor petitioner is entitled to exemption inactive status and the nonpayment of their dues during such inactivity. In the
from payment of his dues during the time that he was inactive in the practice meantime, petitioner is duty bound to comply with his obligation to pay
of law that is, when he was in the Civil Service from 1962-1986 and he was membership dues to the IBP.
working abroad from 1986-2003? Petitioner also contends that the enforcement of the penalty of removal would
We rule in the negative. amount to a deprivation of property without due process and hence infringes
An Integrated Bar is a State-organized Bar, to which every lawyer must belong, on one of his constitutional rights.
as distinguished from bar association organized by individual lawyers This question has been settled in the case of In re Atty. Marcial Edillon,[10] in
themselves, membership in which is voluntary. Integration of the Bar is this wise:
essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is afforded an . . . Whether the practice of law is a property right, in the sense of its being one
opportunity to do his shares in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as well as that entitles the holder of a license to practice a profession, we do not here
obliged to bear his portion of its responsibilities. Organized by or under the pause to consider at length, as it [is] clear that under the police power of the
direction of the State, an Integrated Bar is an official national body of which all State, and under the necessary powers granted to the Court to perpetuate its
lawyers are required to be members. They are, therefore, subject to all the existence, the respondents right to practice law before the courts of this
rules prescribed for the governance of the Bar, including the requirement of country should be and is a matter subject to regulation and inquiry. And, if the
payment of a reasonable annual fee for the effective discharge of the purposes power to impose the fee as a regulatory measure is recognize[d], then a
of the Bar, and adherence to a code of professional ethics or professional penalty designed to enforce its payment, which penalty may be avoided
responsibility, breach of which constitutes sufficient reason for investigation by altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or arbitrary.
the Bar and, upon proper cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is not a property right but
or disbarment of the offending member.[5] a mere privilege, and as such must bow to the inherent regulatory power of
The integration of the Philippine Bar means the official unification of the entire the Court to exact compliance with the lawyers public responsibilities.
lawyer population. This requires membership and financial support of every As a final note, it must be borne in mind that membership in the bar is a
attorney as condition sine qua non to the practice of law and the retention of privilege burdened with conditions,[11] one of which is the payment of
his name in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court.[6] membership dues. Failure to abide by any of them entails the loss of such
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is privilege if the gravity thereof warrants such drastic move.
free to attend or not to attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or WHEREFORE, petitioners request for exemption from payment of IBP dues is
vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses. The only compulsion to DENIED. He is ordered to pay P12,035.00, the amount assessed by the IBP
which he is subjected is the payment of his annual dues. The Supreme Court, as membership fees for the years 1977-2005, within a non-extendible period
in order to foster the States legitimate interest in elevating the quality of of ten (10) days from receipt of this decision, with a warning that failure to do
professional legal services, may require that the cost of improving the so will merit his suspension from the practice of law.
profession in this fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of the SO ORDERED.
regulatory program the lawyers.[7]
Moreover, there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the Court, under [A.C No. 4749. January 20, 2000]
its constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules concerning the admission SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY. FRANCISCO R.
to the practice of law and in the integration of the Philippine Bar[8] - which LLAMAS, respondent.
power required members of a privileged class, such as lawyers are, to pay a 27 DECISION
MENDOZA, J.: As above pointed out also, the Supreme Court dismissal decision was set
This is a complaint for misrepresentation and non-payment of bar membership aside and reversed and respondent was even promoted from City Judge
dues filed against respondent Atty. Francisco R. Llamas. of Pasay City to Regional Trial Court Judge of Makati, Br. 150.
In a letter-complaint to this Court dated February 8, 1997, complainant Also as pointed out, the February 14, 1995 decision in Crim. Case No.
Soliman M. Santos, Jr., himself a member of the bar, alleged that: 11787 was appealed to the Court of Appeals and is still pending.
Complainant need not even file this complaint if indeed the decision of
On my oath as an attorney, I wish to bring to your attention and dismissal as a Judge was never set aside and reversed, and also had the
appropriate sanction the matter of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas who, for a decision of conviction for a light felony, been affirmed by the Court of
number of years now, has not indicated the proper PTR and IBP O.R. Appeals. Undersigned himself would surrender his right or privilege to
Nos. and data (date & place of issuance) in his pleadings. If at all, he only practice law.
indicates "IBP Rizal 259060" but he has been using this for at least three 4. That complainant capitalizes on the fact that respondent had been
years already, as shown by the following attached sample pleadings in delinquent in his dues.
various courts in 1995, 1996 and 1997: (originals available) Undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it clear per his Income Tax
This matter is being brought in the context of Rule 138, Section 1 which
qualifies that only a duly admitted member of the bar "who is in good and Annex A.......- "Ex-Parte Manifestation and Submission"
regular standing, is entitled to practice law". There is also Rule 139-A, dated December 1, 1995 in Civil Case No.
Section 10 which provides that "default in the payment of annual dues for Q-95-25253, RTC, Br. 224, QC
six months shall warrant suspension of membership in the Integrated Bar,
and default in such payment for one year shall be a ground for the removal Annex B.......- "Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation Motion"
of the name of the delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys." dated November 13, 1996 in Sp. Proc.
Among others, I seek clarification (e.g. a certification) and appropriate No. 95-030, RTC Br. 259 (not 257),
action on the bar standing of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas both with the Bar Paraaque, MM
Confidant and with the IBP, especially its Rizal Chapter of which Atty.
Llamas purports to be a member. Jksm Annex C.......- "An Urgent and Respectful Plea for
Please note that while Atty. Llamas indicates "IBP Rizal 259060" extension of Time to File Required
sometimes, he does not indicate any PTR for payment of professional tax. Comment and Opposition" dated January
Under the Rules, particularly Rule 138, Sections 27 and 28, suspension 17, 1997 in CA-G.R. SP (not Civil Case)
of an attorney may be done not only by the Supreme Court but also by No. 42286, CA 6th Div.
the Court of Appeals or a Regional Trial Court (thus, we are also copy
furnishing some of these courts). Return, up to the present, that he had only a limited practice of law. In
Finally, it is relevant to note the track record of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas, fact, in his Income Tax Return, his principal occupation is a farmer of
as shown by: which he is. His 30 hectares orchard and pineapple farm is located at
1........his dismissal as Pasay City Judge per Supreme Court Admin. Calauan, Laguna.
Matter No. 1037-CJ En Banc Decision on October 28, 1981 ( in SCRA ) Moreover, and more than anything else, respondent being a Senior
2........his conviction for estafa per Decision dated June 30, 1994 in Crim. Citizen since 1992, is legally exempt under Section 4 of Rep. Act 7432
Case No. 11787, RTC Br. 66, Makati, MM (see attached copy of the Order which took effect in 1992, in the payment of taxes, income taxes as an
dated February 14, 1995 denying the motion for reconsideration of the example. Being thus exempt, he honestly believe in view of his
conviction which is purportedly on appeal in the Court of Appeals). detachment from a total practice of law, but only in a limited practice, the
subsequent payment by him of dues with the Integrated Bar is covered by
Attached to the letter-complaint were the pleadings dated December 1, 1995, such exemption. In fact, he never exercised his rights as an IBP member
November 13, 1996, and January 17, 1997 referred to by complainant, to vote and be voted upon.
bearing, at the end thereof, what appears to be respondents signature above Nonetheless, if despite such honest belief of being covered by the
his name, address and the receipt number "IBP Rizal 259060."[1] Also attached exemption and if only to show that he never in any manner wilfully and
was a copy of the order,[2] dated February 14, 1995, issued by Judge Eriberto deliberately failed and refused compliance with such dues, he is willing at
U. Rosario, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 66, Makati, denying any time to fulfill and pay all past dues even with interests, charges and
respondents motion for reconsideration of his conviction, in Criminal Case No. surcharges and penalties. He is ready to tender such fulfillment or
11787, for violation of Art. 316, par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code. payment, not for allegedly saving his skin as again irrelevantly and
On April 18, 1997, complainant filed a certification[3] dated March 18, 1997, by frustratingly insinuated for vindictive purposes by the complainant, but as
the then president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Atty. Ida R. an honest act of accepting reality if indeed it is reality for him to pay such
Macalinao-Javier, that respondents "last payment of his IBP dues was in 1991. dues despite his candor and honest belief in all food faith, to the
Since then he has not paid or remitted any amount to cover his membership contrary. Esmsc
fees up to the present." On December 4, 1998, the IBP Board of Governors passed a
On July 7, 1997, respondent was required to comment on the complaint within resolution[6] adopting and approving the report and recommendation of the
ten days from receipt of notice, after which the case was referred to the IBP Investigating Commissioner which found respondent guilty, and
for investigation, report and recommendation. In his comment- recommended his suspension from the practice of law for three months and
memorandum,[4] dated June 3, 1998, respondent alleged:[5] until he pays his IBP dues. Respondent moved for a reconsideration of the
3. That with respect to the complainants absurd claim that for using in decision, but this was denied by the IBP in a resolution,[7] dated April 22, 1999.
1995, 1996 and 1997 the same O.R. No. 259060 of the Rizal IBP, Hence, pursuant to Rule 139-B, 12(b) of the Rules of Court, this case is here
respondent is automatically no longer a member in good standing. for final action on the decision of the IBP ordering respondents suspension for
Precisely, as cited under the context of Rule 138, only an admitted three months.
member of the bar who is in good standing is entitled to practice law. The findings of IBP Commissioner Alfredo Sanz are as follows:
The complainants basis in claiming that the undersigned was no longer in On the first issue, Complainant has shown "respondents non-indication of the
good standing, were as above cited, the October 28, 1981 Supreme Court proper IBP O.R. and PTR numbers in his pleadings (Annexes "A", "B" and "C"
decision of dismissal and the February 14, 1995 conviction for Violation of the letter complaint, more particularly his use of "IBP Rizal 259060 for at
of Article 316 RPC, concealment of encumbrances. Chief least three years."

The records also show a "Certification dated March 24, 1997 from IBP Rizal WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco R. Llamas is SUSPENDED from
Chapter President Ida R. Makahinud Javier that respondents last payment of the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR, or until he has paid his IBP dues,
his IBP dues was in 1991." whichever is later. Let a copy of this decision be attached to Atty. Llamas
While these allegations are neither denied nor categorically admitted by personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be furnished to
respondent, he has invoked and cited that "being a Senior Citizen since 1992, all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in the land.
he is legally exempt under Section 4 of Republic Act No. 7432 which took SO ORDERED.
effect in 1992 in the payment of taxes, income taxes as an example."
The above cited provision of law is not applicable in the present case. In fact,
respondent admitted that he is still in the practice of law when he alleged that
the "undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it clear per his Income tax
Return up to the present time that he had only a limited practice of law." (par.
4 of Respondents Memorandum).
Therefore respondent is not exempt from paying his yearly dues to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Esmmis
On the second issue, complainant claims that respondent has misled the court
about his standing in the IBP by using the same IBP O.R. number in his
pleadings of at least six years and therefore liable for his actions. Respondent
in his memorandum did not discuss this issue.
First. Indeed, respondent admits that since 1992, he has engaged in law
practice without having paid his IBP dues. He likewise admits that, as
appearing in the pleadings submitted by complainant to this Court, he
indicated "IBP-Rizal 259060" in the pleadings he filed in court, at least for the
years 1995, 1996, and 1997, thus misrepresenting that such was his IBP
chapter membership and receipt number for the years in which those
pleadings were filed. He claims, however, that he is only engaged in a "limited"
practice and that he believes in good faith that he is exempt from the payment
of taxes, such as income tax, under R.A. No. 7432, 4 as a senior citizen since
Rule 139-A provides:
Sec. 9. Membership dues. - Every member of the Integrated Bar shall pay
such annual dues as the Board of Governors shall determine with the approval
of the Supreme Court. A fixed sum equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the
collections from each Chapter shall be set aside as a Welfare Fund for
disabled members of the Chapter and the compulsory heirs of deceased
members thereof.
Sec. 10. Effect of non-payment of dues. - Subject to the provisions of Section
12 of this Rule, default in the payment of annual dues for six months shall
warrant suspension of membership in the Integrated Bar, and default in such
payment for one year shall be a ground for the removal of the name of the
delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys.
In accordance with these provisions, respondent can engage in the practice of
law only by paying his dues, and it does not matter that his practice is "limited."
While it is true that R.A. No. 7432, 4 grants senior citizens "exemption from
the payment of individual income taxes: provided, that their annual taxable
income does not exceed the poverty level as determined by the National
Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for that year," the exemption
does not include payment of membership or association dues.
Second. By indicating "IBP-Rizal 259060" in his pleadings and thereby
misrepresenting to the public and the courts that he had paid his IBP dues to
the Rizal Chapter, respondent is guilty of violating the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides:
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.
Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of
any court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.
Respondents failure to pay his IBP dues and his misrepresentation in the
pleadings he filed in court indeed merit the most severe penalty. However, in
view of respondents advanced age, his express willingness to pay his dues
and plea for a more temperate application of the law,[8] we believe the penalty
of one year suspension from the practice of law or until he has paid his IBP
dues, whichever is later, is appropriate. 29