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NOTARIAL LAW

TAN TIONG BIO VS. ATTY. GONZALES

As aptly found by the Investigating Commissioner, delving on the second part of the
recommendation, complainant failed to substantiate with competent proof his
allegations that respondent performed the notarial procedure on Deed 1108 without his
(complainant) being present to acknowledge the due execution thereof. Being a
notarized document, Deed 1108 and the solemnities attending its execution are
disputably presumed to be regular. 8 Absent convincing evidence to the contrary, the
certification in Deed 1108 that the vendor and the vendee personally appeared before
the respondent to acknowledge the same must be upheld.

It cannot be over-emphasized that notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary


act. Far from it. Notarization is invested with substantive public interest, such that only
those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. 14 Hence, the
requirements for the issuance of a commission as notary public are treated with a
formality definitely more than casual. 15
For all legal intents and purposes, respondent, by performing through the years notarial
acts in Pasig City where he is not so authorized, has indulged in deliberate falsehood.
By such malpractice as a notary public, respondent likewise violated Canon 7 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, which directs every lawyer to uphold at all times
the integrity and dignity of the legal profession.

Needless to stress, respondent cannot escape from disciplinary action in his capacity as
member of the bar and as a notary public. His proven transgression does not, however,
merit disbarment, as urged by the complainant. This most severe form of disciplinary
sanction ought to be imposed only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects
the standing and character of a respondent as an officer of the court and as a member
of the bar. Disbarment should never be decreed where any lesser penalty, such as
temporary suspension, could accomplish the end desired.

In their complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Jose R. Dimaano,


Jr., Dolores L. Dela Cruz, Milagros L. Principe, Narcisa L. Faustino, Jorge V. Legaspi,
and Juanito V. Legaspi alleged that on July 16, 2004, respondent notarized a
document denominated as Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate with Waiver of
Rights purportedly executed by them and their sister, Zenaida V.L. Navarro.
Complainants further alleged that: (1) their signatures in this document were forged;
(2) they did not appear and acknowledge the document on July 16, 2004 before
respondent, as notarizing officer; and (3) their purported community tax certificates
indicated in the document were not theirs. SEcTHA

||| (Dela Cruz v. Dimaano, Jr., A.C. No. 7781, [September 12, 2008], 586 PHIL 573-580)

We agree with the recommendation of the Commission and the premises holding it
together. It bears reiterating that notaries public should refrain from affixing their
signature and notarial seal on a document unless the persons who signed it are the
same individuals who executed and personally appeared before the notaries public to
attest to the truth of what are stated therein, for under Section 1 of Public Act No.
2103 or the Notarial Law, an instrument or document shall be considered authentic if
the acknowledgment is made in accordance with the followin (Dela Cruz v. Dimaano,
|||

Jr., A.C. No. 7781, [September 12, 2008], 586 PHIL 573-580)
(a) The acknowledgment shall be made before a notary public or an
officer duly authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgments of
instruments or documents in the place where the act is done. The notary
public or the officer taking the acknowledgment shall certify that the person
acknowledging the instrument or document is known to him and that he is
the same person who executed it, and acknowledged that the same is his free
act and deed. The certificate shall be made under his official seal, if he is by
law required to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall so state. 2
Without the appearance of the person who actually executed the document in
question, notaries public would be unable to verify the genuineness of the signature
of the acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the party's free act
or deed. 3 Furthermore, notaries public are required by the Notarial Law to certify
that the party to the instrument has acknowledged and presented before the notaries
public the proper residence certificate (or exemption from the residence certificate)
and to enter its number, place, and date of issue as part of certification. 4 Rule II, Sec.
12 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice 5 now requires a party to the instrument to
present competent evidence of identity. Sec. 12 provides: HIDCTA

||| (Dela Cruz v. Dimaano, Jr., A.C. No. 7781, [September 12, 2008], 586 PHIL 573-580)

complainant Joy A. Gimeno (Gimeno) filed a complaint 3 with the IBP's


Commission on Bar Discipline, charging Atty. Zaide with: (1) usurpation of a notary
public's office; (2) falsification; (3) use of intemperate, offensive and abusive
language; and (4) violation of lawyer-client trust.
In her complaint, Gimeno alleged that even before Atty. Zaide's admission 4 to
the Bar and receipt 5 of his notarial commission, he had notarized a partial
extrajudicial partition with deed of absolute sale on March 29, 2002. 6 She also
accused Atty. Zaide of making false and irregular entries in his notarial registers. 7
||| (Gimeno v. Zaide, A.C. No. 10303, [April 22, 2015])

As the investigating commissioner found, Gimeno did not present any


concrete evidence to show that Atty. Zaidenotarized the March 29, 2002 partial
extrajudicial partition prior to his admission to the Bar and receipt of his notarial
commission.
It appears that this document originally carried the name of one Atty. Elpedio
Cabasan, as notary public. Atty. Zaide's signature and notarial stamp that bears his
name, roll number, PTR number, IBP number, and the expiration date of his notarial
commission, were merely superimposed over Atty. Cabasan's typewritten name.
Notably, Atty. Zaide admitted that the details stamped on the document are
his true information. However, he denied that he personally stamped and signed the
document. In fact, this document never appeared in his notarial register and was
never included in his notarial report for the year 2002. He contended
that Gimeno falsified his signature and used his notarial stamp to make it appear that
he was the one who notarized it.
This Court notes that at the time the document was purportedly
notarized, Atty. Zaide's details as a lawyer and as a notary public had not yet
existed. He was admitted to the Bar only on May 2, 2002; thus, he could not have
obtained and used the exact figures pertaining to his roll number, PTR number,
IBP number and the expiration date of his notarial commission, prior to this date,
particularly on March 29, 2002.
This circumstance, coupled with the absence of any evidence
supporting Gimeno's claim such as a witness to the alleged fictitious notarization,
leads us to the conclusion that Atty. Zaide could not have notarized the document
before his Bar admission and receipt of his notarial commission.
(Gimeno v. Zaide, A.C. No. 10303, [April 22, 2015])
|||

We find that Atty. Zaide violated the Notarial Practice Rules by maintaining different
notarial registers in several offices. (Gimeno v. Zaide, A.C. No. 10303, [April 22, 2015])
|||

Section 1 (a), Rule VI of the Notarial Practice Rules provides that "a notary
public shall keep, maintain, protect and provide for lawful inspection as provided in
these Rules, a chronological official notarial register of notarial acts consisting of a
permanently bound book with numbered pages." The same section further provides
that "a notary public shall keep only one active notarial register at any given
time." 28 On this basis, Atty. Zaide's act of simultaneously keeping several active
notarial registers is a blatant violation of Section 1, Rule VI.
The Notarial Practice Rules strictly requires a notary public to maintain only
one active notarial register and ensure that the entries in it are chronologically
arranged. The "one active notarial register" rule is in place to deter a notary public
from assigning several notarial registers to different offices manned by assistants
who perform notarial services on his behalf.
Since a notarial commission is personal to each lawyer, the notary public must
also personally administer the notarial acts 29 that the law authorizes him to execute.
This important duty is vested with public interest. Thus, no other person, other than
the notary public, should perform it.
(Gimeno v. Zaide, A.C. No. 10303, [April 22, 2015])
|||

Atty. Zaide should have been acutely aware of the requirements of his notarial
commission. His flagrant violation of Section 1, Rule VI of the Notarial Practice Rules is
not merely a simple and excusable negligence. It amounts to a clear violation of Canon
1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that "a lawyer [should]
uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and
legal processes." (Gimeno v. Zaide, A.C. No. 10303, [April 22, 2015])
ETHIDa|||

Crescenciano M. Pitogo (Pitogo) purchased a motorcycle from EMCOR, Inc. However,


EMCOR, Inc. allegedly failed to cause the registration of the motorcycle under his
name. Pitogo, thus, filed a Civil Complaint before the Regional Trial Court against
EMCOR, Inc. 1
The motorcycle was eventually registered in Pitogo's name based on three (3)
documents notarized by respondent Atty. Joselito Troy Suello (Suello). 2 The documents
indicate that they are registered in Suello's notarial register as follows:
(Pitogo v. Suello, A.C. No. 10695 (Resolution), [March 18, 2015])
|||

Pitogo filed his Affidavit-Complaint against Suello before the Cebu Chapter of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Pitogo alleges that there were discrepancies between
the three (3) documents notarized by Suello and Suello's entries in his notarial
register. 11
||| (Pitogo v. Suello, A.C. No. 10695 (Resolution), [March 18, 2015])

Hence, when respondent negligently failed to enter the details of the three (3)
documents on his notarial register, he cast doubt on the authenticity of complainant's
documents. He also cast doubt on the credibility of the notarial register and the notarial
process. He violated not only the Notarial Rules but also the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which requires lawyers to promote respect for law and legal
processes. 3 (Pitogo v. Suello, A.C. No. 10695 (Resolution), [March 18, 2015])
|||
Respondent's secretary cannot be blamed for the erroneous entries in the notarial
register. The notarial commission is a license held personally by the notary public. It
cannot be further delegated. It is the notary public alone who is personally responsible
for the correctness of the entries in his or her notarial register. 37 Respondent's
apparent remorse may assuage the injury done privately, but it does not change the
nature of the violation. (Pitogo v. Suello, A.C. No. 10695 (Resolution), [March 18, 2015])
|||

Absolute Deeds of Sale 10 were executed by the Spouses Alilano in favor of Ramon
Examen and his wife, Edna. Both documents were notarized by respondent Atty.
Roberto Examen, brother of the vendee. Sometime in September 1984, Spouses
Examen obtained possession of the property. (Heirs of Alilano v. Examen, A.C. No.
|||

10132, [March 24, 2015])

heirs of Alilano filed this complaint alleging that Atty. Examen, based on Barretto v.
Cabreza, 13 violated the notarial law when he notarized the absolute deeds of sale since
a notary public is prohibited from notarizing a document when one of the parties is a
relative by consanguinity within the fourth civil degree or affinity within the second civil
degree. It is also alleged that Atty. Examen notarized the documents knowing that
the cedula or residence certificate number used by Ramon Examen was not actually his
but the residence certificate number of Florentina. Atty. Examen also falsely
acknowledged that the two witnesses personally appeared before him when they did
not. Lastly, it is alleged that despite knowing the infirmities of these documents, Atty.
Examen introduced these documents into evidence violating his oath as a lawyer and
the CPR. (Heirs of Alilano v. Examen, A.C. No. 10132, [March 24, 2015])
|||

heirs of Alilano filed this complaint alleging that Atty. Examen, based on Barretto v.
Cabreza, 13 violated the notarial law when he notarized the absolute deeds of sale since
a notary public is prohibited from notarizing a document when one of the parties is a
relative by consanguinity within the fourth civil degree or affinity within the second civil
degree. It is also alleged that Atty. Examen notarized the documents knowing that
the cedula or residence certificate number used by Ramon Examen was not actually his
but the residence certificate number of Florentina. Atty. Examen also falsely
acknowledged that the two witnesses personally appeared before him when they did
not. Lastly, it is alleged that despite knowing the infirmities of these documents, Atty.
Examen introduced these documents into evidence violating his oath as a lawyer and
the CPR. (Heirs of Alilano v. Examen, A.C. No. 10132, [March 24, 2015])
|||

Court En Banc opined that there can be no prescription in bar discipline cases. This ruling
was reiterated in the more recent case of Bengco v. Bernardo, 26 where the Court stated
that putting a prescriptive period on administrative cases involving members of the bar
would only serve to embolden them to disregard the very oath they took as lawyers,
prescinding from the fact that as long as no private complainant would immediately
come forward, they stand a chance of being completely exonerated from whatever
administrative liability they ought to answer for.
Atty. Examen's defense of prescription therefore is of no moment and deserves scant
consideration.
||| (Heirs of Alilano v. Examen, A.C. No. 10132, [March 24, 2015])

In this case, the heirs of Alilano stated that Atty. Examen was prohibited to notarize the
absolute deeds of sale since he was related by consanguinity within the fourth civil
degree with the vendee, Ramon. The prohibition might have still applied had the
applicable rule been the Spanish Notarial Law. However, following the Court's ruling
in Kapunan, the law in force at the time ofsigning was the Revised Administrative Code,
thus, the prohibition was removed. Atty. Examen was not incompetent to notarize the
document even if one of the parties to the deed was a relative, his brother (Heirs of
|||

Alilano v. Examen, A.C. No. 10132, [March 24, 2015])


By his negligent act of not checking the work of his secretary and merely perfunctorily
notarizing documents, it cannot be said that he upheld legal processes thus violating
Canon 1 of the CPR. Neither can it be said that he promoted confidence in the legal
system. If anything, his acts serve to undermine the functions of a diligent lawyer. He
thus ran afoul Rule 1.02 of the CPR. n We cannot stress enough that as a lawyer,
respondent is expected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession and refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and
confidence reposed by the public in the integrity of the legal profession. 38 A lawyer's
mandate includes thoroughly going over documents presented to them typed or
transcribed by their secretaries. 39 (Heirs of Alilano v. Examen, A.C. No. 10132, [March
|||

24, 2015])

NEVADA VS. ATTY. CASUGO

In 2007, Corazon Nevada, filed a disbarment case against Atty. Rodolfo Casuga. Nevada
alleged the following:

1. That Atty. Casuga acquired several pieces of jewelry from her; the jewelries include diamond
earrings and diamond rings amounting P300,000.00. and a Rolex gold watch worth
$12,000.00; that Casuga assured her that he will sell them; but despite repeated demands,
Casuga never remitted any money nor did he return said jewelries.
2. That in 2006, Casuga, taking advantage of his close relationship with Nevada (they belong to
the same religious sect), Casuga represented himself as the hotel administrator of the hotel
(Mt. Crest) that Nevada own; that as such, Casuga was able to enter into a contract of lease
with one Jung Chul; that he negotiated an office space with Chul in said Hotel for P90,000.00;
that Casuga notarized said agreement; that he forged the signature of Edwin Nevada
(husband); that he never remitted the P90k to Nevada.
In his defense, Casuga said:

1. That Nevada actually pawned said jewelries in a pawnshop; that she later advised Casuga’s
wife to redeem said jewelries using Mrs. Casuga’s wife; that Casuga can sell said jewelries
and reimburse herself from the proceeds; that he still has possession of said jewelries.
2. That he never received the P90,000.00; that it was received by a certain Pastor Oh; that he
was authorized as an agent by Edwin Nevada to enter into said contract of lease.

ISSUE: Whether or not there is merit in Atty. Casuga’s defense.


HELD: No. Atty. Casuga is in violation of the following:
1. Gross Misconduct: Casuga misrepresented himself as a duly authorized representative
of Nevada when in fact he was not. He never adduced evidence showing that he was duly
authorized either by Edwin or Corazon. He also dialed to adduce evidence proving that he
never received the P90k from Chul. On the contrary, a notarized letter showed that Casuga
did receive the money. His misrepresentations constitute gross misconduct and his mere
denial does not overcome the evidence presented against him.
2. Violated Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility: It is his duty as a lawyer
to account for all moneys and property of his client that may come to his possession. This is
still applicable even though said property/money did not come to his possession by virtue of
a lawyer-client relationship. He failed to adduce evidence to prove his claim that Nevada
pawned said jewelries. He never presented receipts. Further, even assuming that Nevada did
pawn said items, Casuga was still duty bound to return said jewelries upon demand by
Nevada.
3. Violation of Notarial Rules: He signed a document (contract of lease) in behalf of
another person without authorization. His forgery made him an actual party to the contract. In
effect he was notarizing a document in which he is party in violation of the notarial rules (Secs.
1 and 3, Rule IV).
4. Malpractice of Law: As a summation of all the above violations, Casuga is guilty of
Malpractice and Misconduct. Such act is punishable under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court. However, the Supreme Court deemed that disbarment is too severe a punishment
against Casuga. He was suspended for 4 years from the practice of law. His notarial
commission was likewise revoked and he is disqualified to be a notary public while serving
his suspension. The Supreme Court emphasized: the penalty of disbarment shall be meted
out only when the lawyer’s misconduct borders on the criminal and/or is committed under
scandalous circumstance.

These documents were endorsed to the Provincial Legal Office by the Provincial
Treasurer who had information that they were notarized while respondent was outside
the country attending the Prayer and Life Workshop in Mexico. The letter contained the
affidavits of the persons who caused the documents to be notarized which showed a
common statement that they did not see respondent sign the documents himself and it
was either the secretary who signed them or the documents came out of the office
already signed. Upon verification with the Bureau of Immigration, it was found out that
a certain Renato C. Bagay departed from the country on March 13, 2008 and returned
on April 8, 2008. The copy of the Certification issued by the Bureau of Immigration was
also attached to the letter. 3 (Angeles, Jr. v. Bagay, A.C. No. 8103, [December 3, 2014])
|||

admitted in his comment and motion for reconsideration that the 18 documents were
notarized under his notarial seal by his office secretary while he was out of the country.
This clearly constitutes negligence considering that respondent is responsible for the
acts of his secretary. Section 9 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice provides that a
"Notary Public" refers to any person commissioned to perform official acts under these
Rules. A notary public's secretary is obviously not commissioned to perform the official
acts of a notary public.
Respondent cannot take refuge in his claim that it was his secretary's act which he did
not authorize. He is responsible for the acts of the secretary which he employed. He left
his office open to the public while leaving his secretary in charge. He kept his notarial seal
and register within the reach of his secretary, fully aware that his secretary could use
these items to notarize documents and copy his signature. Such blatant negligence
cannot be countenanced by this Court and it is far from being a simple negligence. There
is an inescapable likelihood that respondent's flimsy excuse was a mere afterthought and
such carelessness exhibited by him could be a conscious act of what his secretary did.
||| (Angeles, Jr. v. Bagay, A.C. No. 8103, [December 3, 2014])

admitted in his comment and motion for reconsideration that the 18 documents were
notarized under his notarial seal by his office secretary while he was out of the country.
This clearly constitutes negligence considering that respondent is responsible for the
acts of his secretary. Section 9 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice provides that a
"Notary Public" refers to any person commissioned to perform official acts under these
Rules. A notary public's secretary is obviously not commissioned to perform the official
acts of a notary public.
Respondent cannot take refuge in his claim that it was his secretary's act which he did
not authorize. He is responsible for the acts of the secretary which he employed. He left
his office open to the public while leaving his secretary in charge. He kept his notarial seal
and register within the reach of his secretary, fully aware that his secretary could use
these items to notarize documents and copy his signature. Such blatant negligence
cannot be countenanced by this Court and it is far from being a simple negligence. There
is an inescapable likelihood that respondent's flimsy excuse was a mere afterthought and
such carelessness exhibited by him could be a conscious act of what his secretary did.
||| (Angeles, Jr. v. Bagay, A.C. No. 8103, [December 3, 2014])
Respondent also violated his obligation under Canon 7 of the CPR, which directs every
lawyer to uphold at all times the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. The people
who came into his office while he was away, were clueless as to the illegality of the
activity being conducted therein. They expected that their documents would be
converted into public documents. Instead, they later found out that the notarization of
their documents was a mere sham and without any force and effect. By prejudicing the
persons whose documents were notarized by an unauthorized person, their faith in the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession was eroded.
||| (Angeles, Jr. v. Bagay, A.C. No. 8103, [December 3, 2014])

CANON 6

The above-cited rules, which are contained under Chapter 1 of the Code, delineate the
lawyer's responsibility to society: Rule 1.01 engraves the overriding prohibition against
lawyers from engaging in any unlawful, dishonest, immoral and deceitful conduct; Rule
1.03 proscribes lawyers from encouraging any suit or proceeding or delaying any man's
cause for any corrupt motive or interest; meanwhile, Rule 6.02 is particularly directed to
lawyers in government service, enjoining them from using one's public position to: (1)
promote private interests; (2) advance private interests; or (3) allow private interests to
interfere with public duties. 26 It is well to note that a lawyer who holds a government
office may be disciplined as a member of the Bar only when his misconduct also
constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer. 27
In this light, a lawyer's compliance with and observance of the above-mentioned rules
should be taken into consideration in determining his moral fitness to continue in the
practice of law.
To note, "the possession of good moral character is both a condition precedent and a
continuing requirement to warrant admission to the Bar and to retain membership in the
legal profession." 28 This proceeds from the lawyer's duty to observe the highest degree
of morality in order to safeguard the Bar's integrity. 29 Consequently, any errant behavior
on the part of a lawyer, be it in the lawyer's public or private activities, which tends to
show deficiency in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor, is sufficient to
warrant suspension or disbarment. 30
In this case, records show that respondent was merely tasked to re-compute the
monetary awards due to the complainant who sought to execute the CA Decision which
had already been final and executory. When complainant moved for execution — twice
at that — respondent slept on the same for more than a year. It was only when
complainant paid respondent a personal visit on November 4, 2005 that the latter
speedily issued a writ of execution three (3) days after, or on November 7, 2005. Based
on these incidents, the Court observes that the sudden dispatch in respondent's action
soon after the aforesaid visit casts serious doubt on the legitimacy of his denial, i.e., that
he did not extort money from the complainant.
||| (Abella v. Barrios, Jr., A.C. No. 7332, [June 18, 2013], 711 PHIL 363-376)

Thus, as respondent's violations clearly constitute gross immoral conduct and gross
misconduct, his disbarment should come as a matter of course. (Abella v. Barrios, Jr.,
|||

A.C. No. 7332, [June 18, 2013], 711 PHIL 363-376)

By his own admission, Melchor knowingly used the court funds in his custody to defray
the hospitalization expenses of his child. Regrettably though, personal problems or
even medical emergencies in the family cannot justify acts of using the judiciary funds
held by an accountable officer of the court. 31 As Clerk of Court, Melchor was entrusted
with delicate functions in the collection of legal fees. 32 He acted as cashier and
disbursement officer of the court; and was tasked to collect and receive all monies paid
as legal fees, deposits, fines and dues, and controls the disbursement of the same. 33 He
was designated as custodian of the court's funds and revenues, records, properties and
premises, and should be liable for any loss or shortage thereof. 34 (Office of the Court
ECISAD|||

Administrator v. Melchor, Jr., A.M. No. P-06-2227, [August 19, 2014])

By failing to properly remit the cash collections constituting public


funds, Melchor violated the trust reposed in him as the disbursement officer of the
Judiciary. Delayed remittance of cash collections constitutes gross neglect of duty
because this omission deprives the court of interest that could have been earned if the
amounts were deposited in the authorized depository bank. It should be stressed that
clerks of court are required by SC Circular No. 13-92 to withdraw interest earned on
deposits, and to remit the same to the account of the JDF within two (2) weeks after the
end of each quarter (Office of the Court Administrator v. Melchor, Jr., A.M. No. P-06-
|||

2227, [August 19, 2014])

Melchor's promotion as a judge during the pendency of this case cannot be considered
by the Court either as a mitigating or an exculpatory circumstance to excuse him from
any administrative liability. A judge is still bound by the same principle enshrined in
Section 1, Article XI of the Constitution, which states that a public office is a public
trust, and all public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the
people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act
with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives. The demand for moral uprightness is
more pronounced for the members and personnel of the Judiciary who are involved in
the dispensation of justice. The conduct of court members and personnel must not only
be characterized with propriety and decorum but must also be above suspicion, for any
act of impropriety can seriously erode or diminish the people's confidence in the
Judiciary. As frontliners in the administration of justice, they should live up to the
strictest standards of honesty and integrity in the public service. 48 Thus, Melchor's
current position in the judiciary will not merit any leniency from the Court. (Office of the
|||

Court Administrator v. Melchor, Jr., A.M. No. P-06-2227, [August 19, 2014])

Complainant avers that respondent Judge failed to decide Criminal Cases Nos. 98-07-19
and 98-07-20 within the 90-day period from submission of the parties' memoranda.
Hence, complainant prays that respondent Judge be held administratively liable as well
as criminally liable for Violation of Article 174 4 of the Revised Penal Code for his failure
to disclose in his Certificates of Service from June 1999 that the subject cases were
pending decision. (Visbal v. Buban, A.M. No. MTJ-02-1432, [September 3, 2004], 481
|||

PHIL 111-124)

Complainant avers that respondent Judge failed to decide Criminal Cases Nos. 98-07-19
and 98-07-20 within the 90-day period from submission of the parties' memoranda.
Hence, complainant prays that respondent Judge be held administratively liable as well
as criminally liable for Violation of Article 174 4 of the Revised Penal Code for his failure
to disclose in his Certificates of Service from June 1999 that the subject cases were
pending decision. (Visbal v. Buban, A.M. No. MTJ-02-1432, [September 3, 2004], 481
|||

PHIL 111-124)

We find complainant's explanation unsatisfactory. His propensity to litigate raises


doubts as to how he could find the time to perform his duties at all. Such an excessive
tendency to complain even the slightest of administrative infractions in some of the
cases constitutes an oppressive and gross abuse of legal processes. This imposes on the
precious time of the Court and impedes the speedy and efficient dispensation of justice.
Complainant should be reminded that it is the duty of a lawyer as an officer of the court
not to foment suits among individuals. (Visbal v. Buban, A.M. No. MTJ-02-1432,
|||

[September 3, 2004], 481 PHIL 111-124)

The foregoing dictum which is embodied in the Canons of Professional Responsibility


applies with equal vigor to lawyers in the government service like
complainant. 23 Indeed, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly
states that —
Rule 7.03. — A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his
fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. 24
Government lawyers who are public servants owe utmost fidelity to the public service
because public service is a public trust. 25 A lawyer does not shed his professional
obligations upon assuming public office. 26 In fact, his professional obligations should
make him more sensitive to his official obligations because a lawyer's disreputable
conduct is more likely to be magnified in the public eye. 27
||| (Visbal v. Buban, A.M. No. MTJ-02-1432, [September 3, 2004], 481 PHIL 111-124)

We had held previously that if a lawyer's misconduct in the discharge of his official
duties as government official is of such a character as to affect his qualification as a
lawyer or to show moral delinquency, he may be disciplined as a member of the Bar on
such ground. 19 More significantly, lawyers in government service in the discharge of
their official tasks have more restrictions than lawyers in private practice. Want of
moral integrity is to be more severely condemned in a lawyer who holds a responsible
public office. 20 Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a
lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening
confidence in the legal system. Extortion by a government lawyer, an outright violation
of the law, calls for the corresponding grave sanctions. With the aforesaid rule a high
standard of integrity is demanded of a government lawyer as compared to a private
practitioner because the delinquency of a government lawyer erodes the people's trust
and confidence in the government.
Needless to say, lawyers owe it to the court and to society not to stir up litigations.
Employees of the billiards hall, Ditan and Ubante, swore that respondent public officer
encouraged complainant Lim's workers to file a case against the latter. Rule 1.03 of the
same Code states that a lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage
any suit or proceeding or delay any man's cause.
Noteworthy, as an Attorney IV and Chief of the Public Assistance Center of the NLRC,
respondent failed to observe prudence by hanging out and playing in the billiard hall.
By so doing, he exposed himself unnecessarily to certain elements and situations which
could compromise his official position and his status as a lawyer.
||| (Lim v. Barcelona, A.C. No. 5438, [March 10, 2004], 469 PHIL 1-15)

This complaint for disbarment is related to the administrative case which complainant
Attorney Fernando T. Collantes, house counsel for V & G Better Homes Subdivision,
Inc. (V & G for short), filed against Attorney Vicente C. Renomeron, Register of Deeds
of Tacloban City, for the latter's irregular actuations with regard to the application
of V & G for registration of 163 pro formaDeeds of Absolute Sale with Assignment of
lots in its subdivision. (Collantes v. Renomeron, A.C. No. 3056, [August 16, 1991], 277
|||

PHIL 668-676)
Although V & G complied with the desired requirements,
respondent Renomeron suspended the registration of the documents pending
compliance by V & G with a certain "special arrangement" between them, which was
that V & G should provide him with a weekly round trip ticket from Tacloban to Manila
plus P2,000.00 as pocket money per trip, or, in lieu thereof, the sale of respondent's
Quezon City house and lot by V & G or GSIS representatives. (Collantes v. Renomeron,
|||

A.C. No. 3056, [August 16, 1991], 277 PHIL 668-676)


The issue in this disbarment proceeding is whether the respondent register of deeds, as
a lawyer, may also be disciplined by this Court for his malfeasances as a public official.
The answer is yes, for his misconduct as a public official also constituted a violation of
his oath as a lawyer.
The lawyer's oath (Rule 138, Section 17, Rules of Court; People vs. De Luna, 102 Phil.
968), imposes upon every lawyer the duty to delay no man for money or malice. The
lawyer's oath is a source of his obligations and its violation is a ground for his suspension,
disbarment or other disciplinary action (Legal Ethics, Ruben E. Agpalo, 1983 Edition, pp.
66-67).
||| (Collantes v. Renomeron, A.C. No. 3056, [August 16, 1991], 277 PHIL 668-676)

Code of Professional Responsibility applies to lawyers in government service in the


discharge of their official tasks (Canon 6). Just as the Code of Conduct and Ethical
Standards for Public Officials requires public officials and employees to process
documents and papers expeditiously (Sec. 5, subpars. [c] and [d] and prohibits them
from directly or indirectly having a financial or material interest in any transaction
requiring the approval of their office, and likewise bars them from soliciting gifts or
anything of monetary value in the course of any transaction which may be affected by
the functions of their office (Sec. 7, subpars. [a] and [d]), the Code of Professional
Responsibility forbids a lawyer to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct (Rule 1.01, Code of Professional Responsibility), or delay any man's cause "for
any corrupt motive or interest" (Rule 1.03).
"A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to
practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession." (Rule 7.03, Code of
Professional Responsibility.)
This Court has ordered that only those who are "competent, honorable, and reliable"
may practice the profession of law (Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293) for every lawyer
must pursue "only the highest standards in the practice of his calling" (Court
Administrator vs. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269, 278).
The acts of dishonesty and oppression which Attorney Renomeron committed as a
public official have demonstrated his unfitness to practice the high and noble calling of
the law (Bautista vs. Judge Guevarra, 142 SCRA 632; Court Administrator vs. Rodolfo G.
Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269). He should therefore be disbarred.
(Collantes v. Renomeron, A.C. No. 3056, [August 16, 1991], 277 PHIL 668-676)
|||

Complainants filed a disbarment case against Atty. Felina S. Dasig for gross misconduct
in violation of the Attorney's Oath. They claimed, among others, that during her term
as Officer-In-Charge of the Legal Affairs Services of the Commission on Higher
Education (CHED), Atty. Dasig made unlawful demands or attempted to extort money
from certain individuals who had pending applications/requests before her office in
exchange for her promise to act favorably on said requests/applications. Despite due
notice, Atty. Dasig failed to file her comment or answer. Accordingly, the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline recommended that she be suspended from the practice
of law for a period of three years.
The Court ruled that respondent's attempts to extort money from persons with
applications or requests pending before her office were violative of Rule 1.01 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility which prohibits members of the Bar from engaging
or participating in any unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts. Moreover, said acts
constituted a breach of Rule 6.02 of the Code which bars lawyers in government service
from promoting their private interests. Promotion of private interests includes soliciting
gifts or anything of monetary value in any transaction requiring the approval of his
office or which may be affected by the functions of his office. Respondent's conduct in
office fell short of the integrity and good moral character required from all lawyers,
specially from one occupying a high public office. Thus, respondent Atty. Felina
S. Dasig was found liable for gross misconduct and dishonesty in violation of the
Attorney's Oath as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility and was ordered
disbarred.
||| (Vitriolo v. Dasig, A.C. No. 4984, [April 1, 2003], 448 PHIL 199-210)

In this case, the record shows that the respondent, on various occasions, during her
tenure as OIC, Legal Services, CHED, attempted to extort from Betty C. Mangohon,
Rosalie B. Dela Torre, Rocella G. Eje, and Jacqueline N. Ng sums of money as
consideration for her favorable action on their pending applications or requests before
her office. The evidence remains unrefuted, given the respondent's failure, despite the
opportunities afforded her by this Court and the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline to
comment on the charges. We find that respondent's misconduct as a lawyer of the
CHED is of such a character as to affect her qualification as a member of the Bar, for as
a lawyer, she ought to have known that it was patently unethical and illegal for her to
demand sums of money as consideration for the approval of applications and requests
awaiting action by her office.
4. ID.; ID.; CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY; GOVERNS THE CONDUCT OF
ALL LAWYERS INCLUDING THOSE IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE. — A member of the
Bar who assumes public office does not shed his professional obligations. Hence, the
Code of Professional Responsibility, promulgated on June 21, 1988, was not meant to
govern the conduct of private practitioners alone, but of all lawyers including those in
government service. This is clear from Canon 6 of said Code. Lawyers in government
are public servants who owe utmost fidelity to the public service. Thus, they should be
more sensitive in the performance of their professional obligations, as their conduct is
subject to the ever-constant scrutiny of the public. aScITE

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; BARS LAWYERS IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE FROM PROMOTING THEIR
PRIVATE INTERESTS. — Respondent's attempts to extort money from persons with
applications or requests pending before her office are violative of Rule 1.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, which prohibits members of the Bar from engaging or
participating in any unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts. Moreover, said acts
constitute a breach of Rule 6.02 of the Code which bars lawyers in government service
from promoting their private interests. Promotion of private interests includes soliciting
gifts or anything of monetary value in any transaction requiring the approval of his
office or which may be affected by the functions of his office.
6. ID.; ID.; A LAWYER MUST UPHOLD THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AT
ALL TIMES & UPHOLD A HIGH STANDARD OF HONESTY & FAIR DEALING. —
Respondent's conduct in office falls short of the integrity and good moral character
required from all lawyers, specially from one occupying a high public office. For a
lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain from any act or omission which
might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in government, she must
also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times and observe a high standard
of honesty and fair dealing. Otherwise said, a lawyer in government service is a keeper
of the public faith and is burdened with high degree of social responsibility, perhaps
higher than her brethren in private practice.
||| (Vitriolo v. Dasig, A.C. No. 4984, [April 1, 2003], 448 PHIL 199-210)

This administrative case concerns the respondent, a retired judge who took on the case
that he had intervened in during his incumbency on the Bench. The complainant was
the counsel of record of the plaintiff in the case. The charge specified that the
respondent was guilty of "representing adverse interest, illegal practice of law, conduct
and (sic) becoming as a former member of the bench and conduct unbecoming in
violation of the canons of legal ethics with prayer for disbarment." 1 (Pasok v. Zapatos,
|||

A.C. No. 7388, [October 19, 2016])

adopt and affirm the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board of
Governors.
Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Rule 6.03. A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service,
accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in
which he had intervened while in said service.
This rule, according to Presidential Commission on Good Government v.
Sandiganbayan, 8 traces its lineage to Canon 36 of the Canons of Professional Ethics,
viz.:
36. Retirement from judicial position or public employment
A lawyer should not accept employment as an advocate in any
matter upon the merits of which he has previously acted in a judicial
capacity.
A lawyer, having once held public office or having been in the public
employ should not, after his retirement, accept employment in
connection with any matter he has investigated or passed upon while in
such office or employ.
To come within the ambit of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, the respondent must be shown to have accepted the engagement or
employment in relation to a matter that, by virtue of his judicial office, he had
previously exercised power to influence the outcome of the proceedings. 9 That
showing was sufficiently made herein. The respondent, in his capacity as the judge of
the MTCC of Tangub City, presided over the case before eventually inhibiting himself
from further proceedings. His act of presiding constituted intervention within the
meaning of the rule whose text does not mention the degree or length of the
intervention in the particular case or matter. It is also plain and unquestionable that
Canon 36, supra, from which the canon was derived, prohibited him as a former
member of the Bench from handling any case upon which he had previously acted in
a judicial capacity. In this context, he not only exercised the power to influence the
outcome of the proceedings but also had a direct hand in bringing about the result of
the case by virtue of his having the power to rule on it.

The restriction extended to engagement or employment. The respondent could


not accept work or employment from anyone that would involve or relate to any
matter in which he had intervened as a judge except on behalf of the body or
authority that he served during his public employment. 10 The restriction as applied
to him lasted beyond his tenure in relation to the matters in which he had intervened
as judge. 11 Accordingly, the fact that he was already retired from the Bench, or that
he was already in the private practice of law when he was engaged for the case was
inconsequential.
Although the respondent removed himself from the cases once his neutrality
and impartiality were challenged, he ultimately did not stay away from the cases
following his retirement from the Bench, and acted thereon as a lawyer for and in
behalf of the defendants.
||| (Pasok v. Zapatos, A.C. No. 7388, [October 19, 2016])

Without a doubt, it has been established that respondent habitually watches


pornographic materials in his office-issued laptop while inside the office premises,
during office hours, and with the knowledge and full view of his staff. Obviously, the
Court cannot countenance such audacious display of depravity on respondent's part not
only because his obscene habit tarnishes the reputation of the government agency he
works for — the CAAP where he was engaged at that time as Acting Corporate
Secretary — but also because it shrouds the legal profession in a negative light. As a
lawyer in the government service, respondent is expected to perform and discharge his
duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence, and skill,
and with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. 42 However, his aforesaid habit
miserably fails to showcase these standards, and instead, displays sheer
unprofessionalism and utter lack of respect to the government position he was
entrusted to hold. His flimsy excuse that he only does so by himself and that he would
immediately close his laptop whenever anyone would pass by or come near his table is
of no moment, because the lewdness of his actions, within the setting of this case,
remains. The legal profession — much more an engagement in the public service —
should always be held in high esteem, and those who belong within its ranks should be
unwavering exemplars of integrity and professionalism. As keepers of the public faith,
lawyers, such as respondent, are burdened with a high degree of social responsibility
and, hence, must handle their personal affairs with greater caution. Indeed, those who
have taken the oath to assist in the dispensation of justice should be more possessed of
the consciousness and the will to overcome the weakness of the flesh, as respondent in
this case. 43 (Reyes v. Nieva, A.C. No. 8560, [September 6, 2016])
|||