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SUAREZ V.

PLATON
GR No. 46371 – February 7, 1940
Laurel

SUBJECT: Canon 6 – Lawyers in Government Service

FACTS: Lieut. Vivencio Orais of the Phil. Constabulary and one of the respondents, filed a complaint
under oath with the justice of peace of Calauag, Province of Tayabas, charging Fortunato Suarez,
petitioner herein, and one Tomas Ruedas, with sedition. While the preliminary investigation was
pending, Lieut. Orais, in obedience to an order of the Provincial Commander of Tayabas, moved for the
temporary dismissal of the case. Thereafter, Suarez charged Lieut. Orais and Damian Jiminez in the same
court with the crime of arbitrary detention.

Since the justice of peace of Calauag, Judge Platon, is one of the accused, the preliminary investigation
was conducted by the justice of peace of Lopez, Tayabas, who thereafter bound the defendants over to
the CFI. Motion for dismissal was objected and denied by Judge David of 2nd Branch CFI Tayabas.
Subsequently, Fiscal Yamson, who was assigned by the DOJ to conduct the prosecution of the case,
moved for reconsideration, denying the motion for dismissal. Judge Servillano Platon, granted the
motion for reconsideration and dismissed the case holding that the evidence was insufficient to convict
the accused of the crime charged. Hence, the petitioner appealed to this Court praying for a peremptory
writ of mandamus to compel the respondent judge to reinstate the criminal case which had been
ordered dismissed.

ISSUE: WON there is sufficient ground to proceed with the criminal case for arbitrary detention against
Lieut. Orais and Justice of Peace Jimenez.

HELD: Petition dismissed. The Court cannot overemphasize the necessity of close scrutiny and
investigation of prosecuting officers of all cases handled by them, but whilst his Court is averse to any
form of vacillation by such officers in the prosecution of public offenses, it is unquestionable that they
may, in appropriate cases, in order to do justice and avoid injustice, reinvestigate cases in which they
have already filed the corresponding informations. The prosecuting officer “is the representative not of
an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as
compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and who interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not
that is shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense
the servant of the law, the two-fold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape nor innocence suffer. He
may prosecute with earnestness and vigor, indeed, he should do so. But while he may strike hard blows,
he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated
to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.” (Mr.
Justice Sutherland of the US SC)
GREGORY ONG CASE

RE: ALLEGATIONS MADE UNDER OATH AT THE SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE HEARING HELD ON SEPTEMBER
26, 2013 AGAINST ASSOCIATE JUSTICE GREGORY S. ONG, SANDIGANBAYAN

September 23, 2014

Per Curiam

FACTS: When the Pork Barrel Scam broke the news in 2013, incriminating evidence surfaced implicating Associate
Justice of the Sandiganbayan Gregory Ong. Multiple sworn statements and verbal testimonies of Marina Sula
pointed out that Ong had visited the office of key Pork Barrel Scam player Janet Lim Napoles. A photo published by
Rappler showed Senator Jinggoy Estrada, Napoles and Ong together in a party. Ong explained himself in a letter to
CJ Sereno, saying that the photo was taken in one of Sen. Estrada’s birthday parties and it would have been rude of
him not to pose with other guests. He categorically stated that he did not attend any event hosted by Napoles
during or after she had a case (the Kevlar cases) in the Sandiganbayan in which she was acquitted .

Sereno then requested the court En Banc to conduct an investigation motu proprio under this Court's power of
administrative supervision over members of the judiciary and members of the legal profession . Ong filed a
comment saying that the testimony of Sula was merely heresay and that what Napoles told her was simply to
convince the people helping her that their cases would be fixed and may not have been true . As to Sula’s testimony
that Ong visited Napoles’ office, Ong clarified that he struck uyp a conversation with Napoles during Senator
Esrtrada’s party regarding the “miraculous healing power of the robe or clothing of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo”
and that Napoles had a way to help Ong access the statue in order to help him with his Prostate Cancer (they’re
both devotees). Because of this, he wanted to personally thank Napoles and that was the occasion when he went
to her office and that in that time she no longer had any pending case with the Sandiganbayan .

Upon the court finding possible transgressions to the New Code of Judicial Conduct , they Re-docketed the case and
assigned it to retired SC Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez for investigation. She examined the statements made
by Benhur Luy during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigations pointing out that because he is Napoles’
second cousin, she divulged to him, prior to the release of the Kevlar case decision, that her contact in the
Sandiganbayan was Ong. He also testified that he kept ledgers showing that Napoles spent a total of P100M in the
Snadiganbayan when she gave various amounts to different people during the pendency of the case and to Ong in
particular after which, she was already confident that she would be acquitted . He also testified to a transaction
between Ong and Napoles regaring P25.5M that they wanted to put into an account so that it would accrue 13%
interest and that he personally prepared the checks used for this transaction . Justice Sandoval Gutierrez also
examined the statements made by Sula, an employee of JLN corporation in charge of formation of corporations,
applying for licenses and the like. She corroborated the testimony of Benhur Luy and reiterated her previous
testimony on Napoles promisisng her that a TRO would be iussued in thew case investigating the PDAF case . She
said that every time Napoles talked to her and the other employees, she would say that Justice Ong will help her in
the Kevlar case. Sula likewise testified that Napoles told her and the other employees that she will fix (aayusin) the
"PDAF case" in the Sandiganbayan.
In his defense, Ong denied that he ever met Napoles prior to or during the pendency of the Kevlar case , denied that
he received any money from Napoles, that the Kevlar case was decided based on the merits, he never had any
transactions with Napoles, he only visited her office for the purpose of thanking her for that Black Nazarene thing ,
and that the whistleblowers’ testimonies were conflicting and lack credibility .

Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez evaluated and concluded that the testimonies of Benhur Luy and Marina Sula , because
they were only denied and in no way challenged or refuted by Ong via adverse testimony , were not lies. Ong did
not present Napoles to rebut the testimonies of Benhur and Sula and he failed to consider that his testimony is
likewise hearsay. He should have presented Msgr. Ramirez and Napoles as witnesses to support his claim regarding
their role which enabled him to wear the robe of the Holy Black Nazarene . His act of visitng Napoles’ office is
unquestionably disgraceful and renders him morally unfit as a member of the Judiciary and unworthy of the
privileges the law confers on him. Dishonesty violates Canon 2 ( 1 and 2) on Integrity of the same Code providing in
part that judges must ensure that their conduct is above reproach and must reaffirm the people's faith in the
integrity of the Judiciary and further constitutes gross misconduct in violation of Canon 4 on Propriety of the same
Code. Section 1 provides that judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their
activities.

In the end of her investigation report, Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez recommended that Ong be found guilty of gross
misconduct, dishonesty, and impropriety, all in violations of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine
Judiciary and be meted the penalty of DISMISSAL from the service WITH FORFEITURE of all retirement benefits .

RULING: The SC adopts the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Investigating Justice which are well-
supported by the evidence on record.

It is a settled rule that the findings of investigating magistrates are generally given great weight by the Court by
reason of their unmatched opportunity to see the deportment of the witnesses as they testified . The rule which
concedes due respect, and even finality, to the assessment of credibility of witnesses by trial judges in civil and
criminal cases applies a

fortiori to administrative cases. In particular, we concur with Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez's assessment on the
credibility of Luy and Sula, and disagree with respondent's claim that these witnesses are simply telling lies about
his association with Napoles.

Misconduct is a transgression of some established and definite rule of action , a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty,
unlawful behavior, willful in character, improper or wrong behavior; while ·"gross" has been defined as "out of all
measure beyond allowance; flagrant; shameful; such conduct as is not to be excused ." Ong’s association with
Napoles during the pendency of the Kevlar case resulting in her acquittal , constitutes gross misconduct.
In administrative proceedings, only substantial evidence, i.e., that amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion , is required. The standard of substantial evidence is
satisfied when there is reasonable ground to believe that respondent is responsible for the misconduct complained
of, even if such evidence might not be overwhelming or even preponderant . The testimonies of Luy and Sula,
considering that they were employees of Napoles privy to her daily business and personal activities and that she
occasionally updated them on developments regarding the case , were able to provide substantial evidence.

Bribery is committed when a public officer agrees to perform an act in connection with the performance of official
duties in consideration of any offer, promise, gift or present received. An accusation of bribery is easy to concoct
and difficult to disprove. The complainant must present a panoply of evidence in support of such an accusation .
Inasmuch as what is imputed against Ong connotes a grave misconduct, the quantum of proof required should be
more than substantial. Concededly, the evidence in this case is insufficient to sustain the bribery and corruption
charges against Ong. Notwithstanding the absence of direct evidence of any corrupt act by the respondent , we find
credible evidence of his association with Napoles.

Ong’s act of voluntarily meeting with Napoles at her office on two occasions was grossly improper and violated
Section 1, Canon 4 (Propriety) of the New Code of Judicial Conduct. A judge must not only be impartial but must
also appear to be impartial and that fraternizing with litigants tarnishes this appearance . The SC’s previous
pronouncements have enjoined judges to avoid association or socializing with persons who have pending cases
before their court.

Caneda v. Alaan: "A judicial office traces a line around his official as well as personal conduct , a price one has to pay
for occupying an exalted position in the judiciary, beyond which he may not freely venture. Canon 2 of the Code of
Judicial

Conduct enjoins a judge to avoid not just impropriety in the performance of judicial duties but in all his activities
whether in his public or private life. He must conduct himself in a manner that gives no ground for reproach ."

In this light, it does not matter that the case is no longer pending when improper acts were committed by the
judge. Because magistrates are under constant public scrutiny, the termination of a case will not deter public
criticisms for acts which may cast suspicion on its disposition or resolution .

In her report, Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez noted that respondent's purported reason for visiting Napoles in her
office remains uncorroborated, as Napoles and the Quiapo parish priest were not presented as witnesses despite
her suggestion to respondent and his counsel. On the other hand, Luy's testimony on what transpired in one of
respondent's meeting with Napoles at her office appears to be the more plausible and truthful version . The Court
finds that respondent, in not being truthful on crucial matters even before the administrative complaint was filed
against him motu proprio, is guilty of Dishonesty, a violation of Canon 3 (Integrity) of the New Code of Judicial
Conduct.
Dishonesty is a "disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, or defraud; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty ,
probity or integrity in principle; lack of fairness and straightforwardness; disposition to defraud , deceive or betray."
Dishonesty, being a grave offense, carries the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service with forfeiture of
retirement benefits except accrued leave credits, and with perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the
government service.

DISPOSITIVE: Court finds Ong GUILTY of GROSS MISCONDUCT, DISHONESTY and IMPROPRIETY, for which he is
hereby

DISMISSED from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, if any, and with
prejudice to reemployment in any branch, agency or instrumentality of the government including government-
owned or -controlled corporations.

MAPALAD, SR. v. ATTY. ECHANEZ


VIRGILIO J. MAPALAD, SR., Complainant vs. ATTY. ANSELMO S. ECHANEZ, Respondent.
A.C. No. 10911
JUNE 6, 2017

FACTS:

Before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) is a disbarment case filed by Virgilio J. Mapalad, Sr.
against respondent-lawyer Atty. Anselmo S. Echanez, for failure to comply with the MCLE requirements.
The respondent’s act of deliberately and unlawfully misleading the courts, parties and counsels
concerned into believing that he had complied with the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)
requirements, when in truth he had not, is a serious malpractice and grave misconduct in violation of
the Lawyer’s Oath, Canon 1, /Rule 1.01 and Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility when he falsified his MCLE Compliance Number. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
(IBP-CBD), after thorough investigation, and careful evaluation of pieces of evidence submitted by the
complainant (respondent opted not to heed the directive of the Commission to file comment and
position papers), recommended that Atty. Anselmo S. Echanez be disbarred and his name be stricken
from the Roll of Attorneys, which was adopted and approved by the IBP Board of Governors.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the respondent be administratively disciplined based on the allegations in the complaint
and evidence on record?
HELD:

YES. Respondent violated Bar Matter No. 850. The Lawyer’s Oath in Rule 138, Section 3 of the Rules of
Court requires commitment to obeying laws and legal orders, doing no falsehood, and acting with
fidelity to both court and client, among others. A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of
the land and promote respect for law and legal processes (Canon 1), he shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01), he owes candor, fairness and good faith to the
court (Canon 10), he shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court, nor shall he
mislead, or allow the court to be mislead by any artifice (Rule 10.01), he owes fidelity to the cause of his
client and shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed upon him (Canon 17), and he shall serve
his client with competence and diligence (Canon 18).

Engr. Tumbokon v Atty. Pefianco


A.C. No. 6116 (August 21, 2012)

FACTS: Complainant filed an administrative complaint for disbarment against respondent for grave
dishonesty, gross misconduct constituting deceit and grossly immoral conduct.

Complainant narrated that respondent undertook to give him 20% commission, later reduced to 10%, of
the attorney's fees the latter would receive in representing Sps. Yap, whom he referred, in an action for
partition of the estate of the late Benjamin Yap.

Respondent failed to pay notwithstanding the 17% attorney’s fees of the total estate of 40M.
Respondent told complainant that the Sps. Yap assumed to pay the amount after respondent agreed to
reduced fees.

Complainant further alleged that respondent has not lived up to the high moral standards required of
his profession. Respondent abandoned his legal wife, Milagros Hilado, with whom he has two children,
and cohabited with Mae Flor Galido, with whom he has four children. Complainant also accused
respondent of engaging in money-lending business without authorization from the Bangko Sentral ng
Pilipinas.

In his defense, respondent explained that he accepted the case in a 25% contingent fee basis and the
letter of Sps. Yap stating that they will pay the complainant’s commission is a forgery.

The court referred the case to IBP wherein the commissioner recommended that the respondent be
suspended for one (1) year from the practice of law for violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, Rule 1.01, Canon
1; Rule 7.03, Canon 7 and Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent
moved for reconsideration but was denied.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent is guilty.

HELD: YES. The practice of law is considered a privilege bestowed by the State on those who show that
they possess and continue to possess the legal qualifications for the profession. Clearly, respondent has
violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code which prohibits a lawyer from dividing or stipulating to divide a
fee for legal services with persons not licensed to practice law. Furthermore, respondent did not deny
the accusation that he abandoned his legal family to cohabit with his mistress with whom he begot four
children. The settled rule is that betrayal of the marital vow of fidelity or sexual relations outside
marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests deliberate disregard of the sanctity of
marriage and the marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws. However, SC
finds the charge of engaging in illegal money lending not to have been sufficiently established. The
lending of money to a single person without showing that such service is made available to other
persons on a consistent basis cannot be construed as indicia that respondent is engaged in the business
of lending. Thus, the SC deems it appropriate that respondent be suspended from the practice of law
for a period of one (1) year as recommended.