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Republic of the Philippines to know later on that respondent had been employed by her husband in his

SUPREME COURT company.


Manila
A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed
SECOND DIVISION on August 11, 1989 by the complainant against respondent Atty. Iris
Bonifacio before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of
ADM. CASE No. 3319, June 8, 2000 the Philippines (hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, more
particularly, for carrying on an illicit relationship with the complainant's
LESLIE UI, Complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, Respondent. husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer, respondent averred that she met Carlos
Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to be a bachelor, with the
knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese woman in
DE LEON, JR., J.: Amoy, China, from whom he had long been estranged. She stated that
during one of their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry
Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris her and they in fact got married in Hawaii, USA in 1985 . Upon their return to
Bonifacio for allegedly carrying on an immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, Manila, respondent did not live with Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live
husband of complainant, Leslie Ui. with his children in their Greenhills residence because respondent and
Carlos Ui wanted to let the children gradually to know and accept the fact of
The relevant facts are: his second marriage before they would live together.

On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she
Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon City and as a result of their marital union, would only return occasionally to the Philippines to update her law practice
they had four (4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and Carl Cavin, all and renew legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime in June
surnamed Ui. Sometime in December 1987, however, complainant found out 1988, she was confronted by a woman who insisted that she was the lawful
that her husband. Carlos Ui, was carrying on an illicit relationship with wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon her discovery of the true civil status
respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot a daughter sometime in of Carlos Ui, respondent then left for Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July 1988
1986, and that they had been living together at No. 527 San Carlos Street, and returned only in March 1989 with her two (2) children. On March 20,
Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a graduate of 1989, a few days after she reported to work with the law firm she was
the College of Law of the University of the Philippines was admitted to the connected with, the woman who represented herself to be the wife of Carlos
Philippine Bar in 1982. Ui again came to her office, demanding to know if Carlos Ui has been
communicating with her.
Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent.
Complainant then visited respondent at her office in the later part of June It is respondent's contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit
1988 and introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon, because they were married abroad and that after June 1988, when
respondent admitted to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged, respondent discovered Carlos Ui's true civil status, she cut off all her ties with
however; that everything was over between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant him. Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never lived with her in Alabang, and
believed the representations of respondent and thought things would turn out that he resided at 26 Potsdam Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. It
well from then on and that the illicit relationship between her husband and was respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which belonged to her
respondent would come to an end. mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said house was built exclusively
from her parents' funds. By way of counterclaim, respondent sought moral
However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between damages in the amount of Ten Million Pesos (Php10,000,000.00) against
her husband and respondent continued, and that sometime in December complainant for having filed the present allegedly malicious and groundless
1988, respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child. disbarment case against respondent.
Complainant then met again with respondent sometime in March 1989 and
pleaded with respondent to discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui In her Reply dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that
but to no avail. The illicit relationship persisted and complainant even came respondent knew perfectly well that Carlos Ui was married to complainant
and had children with her even at the start of her relationship with Carlos Ui,
and that the reason respondent went abroad was to give birth to her two (2) Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to
children with Carlos Ui. the Secretary of Justice, but the same was dismissed on the ground of
insufficiency of evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and Carlos
During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, Ui lived together as husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala
complainant also charged her husband, Carlos Ui, and respondent with the Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.
crime of Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal,
docketed as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same was dismissed for insufficiency In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline,
of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged. The complainant filed a Motion to Cite Respondent in Contempt of the
resolution dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent reads: Commission wherein she charged respondent with making false allegations
in her Answer and for submitting a supporting document which was altered
Complainant's evidence had prima facie established the existence of the and intercalated. She alleged that in the Answer of respondent filed before
"illicit relationship" between the respondents allegedly discovered by the the Integrated Bar, respondent averred, among others, that she was married
complainant in December 1987. The same evidence however show that to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of Marriage to
respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to the latter part of substantiate her averment. However, the Certificate of Marriage duly certified
1988 and/or the early part of 1989. by the State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the Hawaii State
Department of Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate
General in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of marriage
It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of
between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio was October 22, 1987,
respondents started and was discovered by complainant sometime in 1987
when she and respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26 Potsdam Street, and not October 22, 1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer.
Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila and they, admittedly, According to complainant, the reason for that false allegation was because
continued to live together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 respondent wanted to impress upon the said IBP that the birth of her first
child by Carlos Ui was within the wedlock. It is the contention of complainant
or later 1988, when respondent Carlos left the same.
that such act constitutes a violation of Articles 183 and 184 of the Revised
Penal Code, and also contempt of the Commission; and that the act of
From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the respondent in making false allegations in her Answer and submitting an
relationship, illicit as complainant puts it, had been prima facie established by altered/intercalated document are indicative of her moral perversity and lack
complainant's evidence, this same evidence had failed to even prima of integrity which make her unworthy to be a member of the Philippine Bar.
facie establish the "fact of respondent's cohabitation in the concept of
husband and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of
which is necessary and indispensable to at least create probable cause for In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt), respondent
the offense charged. The statement alone of complainant, worse, a averred that she did not have the original copy of the marriage certificate
because the same was in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she annexed
statement only of a conclusion respecting the fact of cohabitation does not
such copy because she relied in good faith on what appeared on the copy of
make the complainant's evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs.
the marriage certificate in her possession.
Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178).

It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support of Respondent filed her Memorandum on February 22, 1995 and raised the
lone issue of whether or not she has conducted herself in an immoral manner
their respective positions on the matter support and bolster the foregoing
for which she deserves to be barred from the practice of law. Respondent
conclusion/recommendation.
averred that the complaint should be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely:
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant
complaint be dismissed for want of evidence to establish probable cause for i. Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the
requirement of good moral character for the practice of the legal
the offense charged.
profession; and
ii. Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent conducted
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED. herself in an immoral manner.
In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was her husband since the late 1970s because they were clients of the bank
the victim in this case and not Leslie Ui because she did not know that Carlos where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch Manager. It was thus highly improbable
Ui was already married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent that respondent, who was living with her parents as of 1986, would not have
immediately cut-off all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no been informed by her own mother that Carlos Ui was a married man.
reason for her to doubt at that time that the civil status of Carlos Ui was that Complainant likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards
of a bachelor because he spent so much time with her, and he was so open the Commission for submitting a photocopy of a document containing an
in his courtship. intercalated date.

On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it In her Reply to Complainant's Memorandum, respondent stated that
was highly incredible for her to have knowingly attached such marriage complainant miserably failed to show sufficient proof to warrant her
certificate to her Answer had she known that the same was altered. disbarment. Respondent insists that contrary to the allegations of
Respondent reiterated that there was no compelling reason for her to make it complainant, there is no showing that respondent had knowledge of the fact
appear that her marriage to Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987, of marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The allegation that her mother knew
because the fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got married before Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that such information was
complainant confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier made known to respondent.
marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was
Carlos Ui who testified and admitted that he was the person responsible for Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline
changing the date of the marriage certificate from 1987 to 1985, and submitted its Report and Recommendation, finding that:
complainant did not present evidence to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on
this matter. In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted by
Carlos Ui, the latter represented himself to be single. The Commission does
Respondent posits that complainant's evidence, consisting of the pictures of not find said claim too difficult to believe in the light of contemporary human
respondent with a child, pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a experience.
garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS 313, a
picture of the same car, and portion of the house and ground, and another
Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he represents
picture of the same car bearing Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture of the
himself to be single, separated, or without any firm commitment to another
house and the garage, does not prove that she acted in an immoral manner.
woman. The reason therefor is not hard to fathom. By their very nature,
They have no evidentiary value according to her. The pictures were taken by
single women prefer single men.
a photographer from a private security agency and who was not presented
during the hearings. Further, the respondent presented the Resolution of the
Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true civil
filed by Leslie Ui against respondent for lack of evidence to establish status of Carlos Ui, she left for the United States (in July of 1988). She broke
probable cause for the offense charged and the dismissal of the appeal by off all contacts with him. When she returned to the Philippines in March of
the Department of Justice to bolster her argument that she was not guilty of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and
any immoral or illegal act because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, respondent only talked to each other because of the children whom he was
respondent claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui in good allowed to visit. At no time did they live together.
faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, or
shameless, nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act on
Ui whom she believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true the part of respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or disgraceful
civil status, she parted ways with him. as to be reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she was more of a
victim that (sic) anything else and should deserve compassion rather than
In the Memorandum filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she condemnation. Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of
prayed for the disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that having a normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by every single girl.
respondent committed immorality by having intimate relations with a married
man which resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant testified that xxx xxx xxx
respondent's mother, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and
Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
issued a Notice of Resolution dated December 13, 1997, the dispositive conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should
portion of which reads as follows: have moral integrity in addition to professional probity.

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The
Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully rule implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, the laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.
complaint for Gross Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED for lack of
merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for knowingly and willfully Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant,
attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of Marriage with a stern or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the
warning that a repetition of the same will merit a more severe penalty. good and respectable members of the community." (7 C.J.S. 959).

We agree with the findings aforequoted. In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she
met Carlos Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent fell in
The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to love with him and they got married and as a result of such marriage, she
enjoy the practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar gave birth to two (2) children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil status of
examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of Carlos Ui, she left him.
due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics.
The requisites for admission to the practice of law are: Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of
respondent are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect on
a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines; how the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps
b. a resident thereof; morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before.
c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age; This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are
d. a person of good moral character; burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility and thus must handle
e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude, their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts of this case lead us to
are filed or pending in court; believe that perhaps respondent would not have found herself in such a
f. possess the required educational qualifications; and compromising situation had she exercised prudence and been more vigilant
g. pass the bar examinations. 25 (Emphasis supplied) in finding out more about Carlos Ui's personal background prior to her
intimate involvement with him.
Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the
bar is that an applicant must possess good moral character. More Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused
importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a respondent's suspicion that something was amiss in her relationship with
requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the Carlos Ui, and moved her to ask probing questions. For instance, respondent
loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege. It has been held admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with a woman from Amoy,
— China, yet it appeared that she never exerted the slightest effort to find out if
Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also, despite their
If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first child, a
continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for retaining circumstance that is simply incomprehensible considering respondent's
membership in the legal profession. Membership in the bar may be allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her.
terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character. (Royong vs.
Oblena, 117 Phil. 865). All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent
was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains
that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what respondent
believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality thereof, with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction will be
connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and imposed on her for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future.
the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. Moreover,
for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly SO ORDERED.
immoral," that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal
act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree.

We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only
required to refrain from adulterous relationships . . . but must also so behave
himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is
flouting those moral standards." Respondent's act of immediately distancing
herself from Carlos Ui upon discovering his true civil status belies just that
alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no intention of flaunting
the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession. Complainant's
bare assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the burden of
proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its disciplinary
powers only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory
evidence. 30 This, herein complainant miserably failed to do.

On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent


to her Answer, we find improbable to believe the averment of respondent that
she merely relied on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate which was
provided her by Carlos Ui. For an event as significant as a marriage
ceremony, any normal bride would verily recall the date and year of her
marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a lawyer as in the
case at bar, can forget the year when she got married. Simply stated, it is
contrary to human experience and highly improbable.

Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an


attachment to her pleading, especially so when she has personal knowledge
of the facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching such Marriage
Certificate with an intercalated date, the defense of good faith of respondent
on that point cannot stand.

It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest


standards of morality. The legal profession exacts from its members nothing
less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from
misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as
officers of the court demand no less than the highest degree of morality.

WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L.


Bonifacio, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED.

However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer


a photocopy of her Marriage Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date
Republic of the Philippines When Magdalena discovered in January, 1973 that she was pregnant, she
SUPREME COURT and Segundino went to her hometown, Ivisan, Capiz, to apprise Magdalena's
Manila parents that they were married although they were not really so. Segundino
convinced Magdalena's father to have the church wedding deferred until after
SECOND DIVISION he had passed the bar examinations. He secured his birth certificate
preparatory to applying for a marriage license.
A.M. No. 1608 August 14, 1981
Segundino continued sending letters to Magdalena wherein he expressed his
MAGDALENA T. ARCIGA, Complainant, vs. SEGUNDINO D. MANIWANG, love and concern for the baby in Magdalena's womb. He reassured her time
and again that he would marry her once he passed the bar examinations. He
Respondent.
was not present when Magdalena gave birth to their child on September 4,
1973 in the Cebu Community Hospital. He went to Cebu in December, 1973
AQUINO, J.: for the baptism of his child.

Magdalena T. Arciga in her complaint of February 24, 1976 asked for the Segundino passed the bar examinations. The results were released on April
disbarment of lawyer Segundino D. Maniwang (admitted to the Bar in 1975 ) 25, 1975. Several days after his oath-taking, which Magdalena also attended,
on the ground of grossly immoral conduct because he refused to fulfill his he stopped corresponding with Magdalena. Fearing that there was
promise of marriage to her. Their illicit relationship resulted in the birth on something amiss, Magdalena went to Davao in July, 1975 to contact her
September 4, 1973 of their child, Michael Dino Maniwang. lover. Segundino told her that they could not get married for lack of money.
She went back to Ivisan.
Magdalena and Segundino got acquainted sometime in October, 1970 at
Cebu City. Magdalena was then a medical technology student in the Cebu In December, 1975 she made another trip to Davao but failed to see
Institute of Medicine while Segundino was a law student in the San Jose Segundino who was then in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. She followed him there
Recoletos College. They became sweethearts but when Magdalena refused only to be told that their marriage could not take place because he had
to have a tryst with Segundino in a motel in January, 1971, Segundino married Erlinda Ang on November 25, 1975. She was broken-hearted when
stopped visiting her. she returned to Davao.

Their paths crossed again during a Valentine's Day party in the following Segundino followed her there and inflicted physical injuries upon her
month. They renewed their relationship. After they had dinner one night in because she had a confrontation with his wife, Erlinda Ang. She reported the
March, 1971 and finding themselves alone (like Adam and Eve) in her assault to the commander of the Padada police station and secured medical
boarding house since the other boarders had gone on vacation, they had treatment in a hospital (Exh. I and J).
sexual congress. When Segundino asked Magdalena why she had refused
his earlier proposal to have sexual intercourse with him, she jokingly said that
she was in love with another man and that she had a child with still another Segundino admits in his answer that he and Magdalena were lovers and that
he is the father of the child Michael. He also admits that he repeatedly
man. Segundino remarked that even if that be the case, he did not mind
promised to marry Magdalena and that he breached that promise because of
because he loved her very much.
Magdalena's shady past. She had allegedly been accused in court of oral
defamation and had already an illegitimate child before Michael was born.
Thereafter, they had repeated acts of cohabitation. Segundino started telling
his acquaintances that he and Magdalena were secretly married.
The Solicitor General recommends the dismissal of the case. In his opinion,
respondent's cohabitation with the complainant and his reneging on his
In 1972 Segundino transferred his residence to Padada, Davao del Sur. He promise of marriage do not warrant his disbarment.
continued his law studies in Davao City. .Magdalena remained in Cebu. He
sent to her letters and telegrams professing his love for her (Exh. K to Z).
An applicant for admission to the bar should have good moral character. He
is required to produce before this Court satisfactory evidence of good moral
character and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have Disbarment of a lawyer for grossly immoral conduct is illustrated in the
been filed or are pending in any court. following cases:

If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the 1. Where lawyer Arturo P. Lopez succeeded in having carnal knowledge of
continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for retaining Virginia C. Almirez, under promise of marriage, which he refused to
membership in the legal profession. Membership in the bar may be fulfill, although they had already a marriage license and despite the birth
terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character (Royong vs. of a child in consequence of their sexual intercourse; he married
Oblena, 117 Phil. 865). another woman and during Virginia's pregnancy, Lopez urged her to
take pills to hasten the flow of her menstruation and he tried to convince
A lawyer may be disbarred for grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his her to have an abortion to which she did not agree. (Almirez vs. Lopez,
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should Administrative Case No. 481, February 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 169. See
have moral integrity in addition to professional probity. Sarmiento vs. Cui, 100 Phil. 1102).
2. Where lawyer Francisco Agustin made Anita Cabrera believe that they
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what were married before Leoncio V. Aglubat in the City Hall of Manila, and,
after such fake marriage, they cohabited and she later give birth to their
is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity
child (Cabrera vs. Agustin, 106 Phil. 256).
which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The
3. Where lawyer Jesus B. Toledo abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited
rule implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-
with another women who had borne him a child (Toledo vs. Toledo, 117
laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.
Phil. 768. As to disbarment for contracting a bigamous marriage, see
Villasanta vs. Peralta, 101 Phil. 313).
Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant, 4. The conduct of Abelardo Simbol in making a dupe of Concepcion
or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the Bolivar by living on her bounty and allowing her to spend for his
good and respectable members of the community" (7 C.J.S. 959). schooling and other personal necessities, while dangling before her the
mirage of a marriage, marrying another girl as soon as he had finished
Where an unmarried female dwarf possessing the intellect of a child became his studies, keeping his marriage a secret while continuing to demand
pregnant by reason of intimacy with a married lawyer who was the father of money from the complainant, and trying to sponge on her and persuade
six children, disbarment of the attorney on the ground of immoral conduct her to resume their broken relationship after the latter's discovery of his
was justified (In re Hicks 20 Pac. 2nd 896). perfidy are indicative of a character not worthy of a member of the bar
(Bolivar vs. Simbol, 123 Phil. 450).
There is an area where a lawyer's conduct may not be inconsonance with the 5. Where Flora Quingwa, a public school teacher, who was engaged to
canons of the moral code but he is not subject to disciplinary action because lawyer Armando Puno, was prevailed upon by him to have sexual
his misbehavior or deviation from the path of rectitude is not glaringly congress with him inside a hotel by telling her that it was alright to have
scandalous. It is in connection with a lawyer's behavior to the opposite sex sexual intercourse because, anyway, they were going to get married.
where the question of immorality usually arises. Whether a lawyer's sexual She used to give Puno money upon his request. After she became
congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of marriage should pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy, Puno refused to marry her.
be characterized as "grossly immoral conduct," will depend on the (Quingwa vs. Puno, Administrative Case No. 389, February 28, 1967,
surrounding circumstances. 19 SCRA 439).

This Court in a decision rendered in 1925, when old-fashioned morality still (6) Where lawyer Anacleto Aspiras, a married man, misrepresenting that he
prevailed, observed that "the legislator well knows the frailty of the flesh and was single and making a promise of marriage, succeeded in having sexual
the ease with which a man, whose sense of dignity, honor and morality is not intercourse with. Josefina Mortel. Aspiras faked a marriage between Josefina
well cultivated, falls into temptation when alone with one of the fair sex and his own son Cesar. Aspiras wrote to Josefina: "You are alone in my life
toward whom he feels himself attracted. An occasion is so inducive to sin or till the end of my years in this world. I will bring you along with me before the
crime that the saying "A fair booty makes many a thief" or "An open door may altar of matrimony." "Through thick and thin, for better or for worse, in life or
tempt a saint" has become general." (People vs. De la Cruz, 48 Phil. 533, in death, my Josephine you will always be the first, middle and the last in my
535). life." (Mortel vs. Aspiras, 100 Phil. 586).
(7) Where lawyer Ariston Oblena, who had been having adulterous relations
for fifteen years with Briccia Angeles, a married woman separated from her
husband, seduced her eighteen-year-old niece who became pregnant and
begot a child. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).

The instant case can easily be differentiated from the foregoing cases. This
case is similar to the case of Soberano vs. Villanueva, 116 Phil. 1206, where
lawyer Eugenio V. Villanueva had sexual relations with Mercedes H.
Soberano before his admission to the bar in 1954. They indulged in frequent
sexual intercourse. She wrote to him in 1950 and 1951 several letters making
reference to their trysts in hotels.

On letter in 1951 contain expressions of such a highly sensual, tantalizing


and vulgar nature as to render them unquotable and to impart the firm
conviction that, because of the close intimacy between the complainant and
the respondent, she felt no restraint whatsoever in writing to him with
impudicity.

According to the complainant, two children were born as a consequence of


her long intimacy with the respondent. In 1955, she filed a complaint for
disbarment against Villanueva.

This Court found that respondent's refusal to marry the complainant was not
so corrupt nor unprincipled as to warrant disbarment. (See Montana vs.
Ruado, Administrative Case No. 507, February 24, 1975, 62 SCRA 382;
Reyes vs. Wong, Administrative Case No. 547, January 29, 1975, 63 SCRA
667, Viojan vs. Duran, 114 Phil. 322; Abaigar vs. Paz, Administrative Case
No. 997, September 10, 1979,93 SCRA 91).

Considering the facts of this case and the aforecited precedents, the
complaint for disbarment against the respondent is hereby dismissed.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines breast. Complainant even in a state of shocked (sic) succeeded in resisting
SUPREME COURT his criminal attempt and immediately manage (sic) to go (sic) out of the car.
Manila
In the late afternoon, complainant sent a text message to respondent
THIRD DIVISION informing him that she decided to refer the case with another lawyer and
needs (sic) to get back the case folder from him. The communications
A.C. No. 7204, March 7, 2007 transpired was recorded in her cellular phone and read as follows:

CYNTHIA ADVINCULA, Complainant, vs. ATTY. ERNESTO M.


MACABATA, Respondent. Sent by complainant - forget the case. I decided to refer it with other lawyer
At 5:33:46 pm

RESOLUTION replied by respondent - "does this mean I can not c u anymore"


at 6:16:11 pm (Does this mean I cannot see you
anymore)
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
sent by complainant - I feel bad. I can’t expect that u will take advantage of
Before us is a complaint for disbarment filed by Cynthia Advincula against at 6:17:59 pm the situation.
respondent Atty. Ernesto M. Macabata, charging the latter with Gross Follow-up message - wrong to kiss a girl especially in the lips if you don’t
Immorality. Sent by complainant have relationship with her.
At 6:29:30 pm
Complainant alleged the following:
Replied by respondent - "I’m veri sri. It’s not tking advantage of the situation, 2
At 6:32:43 pm put it rightly it s an expression of feeling. S sri" (I’m very
Sometime on 1st week of December 2004 complainant [Cynthia Advincula] sorry. Its not taking advantage of the situation, to put it
seek the legal advice of the respondent [Atty. Macabata], regarding her rightly it is an expression of feeling)
collectibles from Queensway Travel and Tours. As promised, he sent
Follow up message - I’m s sri. Il not do it again. Wil u stil c me s I can show
Demand Letter dated December 11, 2004 (copy attached as Annex "I") to the by respondent u my sincerity" (I’m so sorry. I’ll not do it again. Will you
concerned parties. at 6:42:25 pm still see me so I can show you my sincerity)

On February 10, 2005, met (sic) at Zensho Restaurant in Tomas Morato,


Quezon City to discuss the possibility of filing the complaint against
Queensway Travel and Tours because they did not settle their accounts as On the following day, March 7, 2005 respondent sent another message to
demanded. After the dinner, respondent sent complainant home and while complainant at 3:55:32 pm saying "I don’t know wat 2 do s u may 4give me.
she is about to step out of the car, respondent hold (sic) her arm and kissed "Im realy sri. Puede bati na tyo." (I don’t know what to do so you may forgive
her on the cheek and embraced her very tightly. me. I’m really sorry. Puede bati na tayo).

Again, on March 6, 2005, at about past 10:00 in the morning, she met Respondent replied "talk to my lawyer in due time." Then another message
respondent at Starbucks coffee shop in West Avenue, Quezon City to finalize was received by her at 4:06:33 pm saying "Ano k ba. I’m really sri. Pls. Nxt
the draft of the complaint to be filed in Court. After the meeting, respondent ime bhave n me." (Ano ka ba. I’m really sorry. Please next time behave na
offered again a ride, which he usually did every time they met. Along the ko), which is a clear manifestation of admission of guilt.
way, complainant was wandering (sic) why she felt so sleepy where in fact
she just got up from bed a few hours ago. At along Roosevelt Avenue In his answer, respondent admitted that he agreed to provide legal services
immediately after corner of Felipe St., in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon to the complainant; that he met with complainant on 10 February 2005 and 6
City when she was almost restless respondent stopped his car and forcefully March 2005, to discuss the relevant matters relative to the case which
hold (sic) her face and kissed her lips while the other hand was holding her complainant was intending to file against the owners of Queensway Travel
and Tours for collection of a sum of money; that on both occasions,
complainant rode with him in his car where he held and kissed complainant Simple as the facts of the case may be, the manner by which we deal with
on the lips as the former offered her lips to him; and, that the corner of respondent’s actuations shall have a rippling effect on how the standard
Cooper Street and Roosevelt Avenue, where he dropped off the complainant, norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our
was a busy street teeming with people, thus, it would have been impossible liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be. This permissiveness
to commit the acts imputed to him. notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a high
degree of social responsibility and, hence, must handle their personal affairs
By way of defense, respondent further elucidated that: 1) there was a with greater caution.
criminal case for Acts of Lasciviousness filed by complainant against
respondent pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City;
2) the legal name of complainant is Cynthia Advincula Toriana since she
remains married to a certain Jinky Toriana because the civil case for the The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
nullification of their marriage was archived pursuant to the Order dated 6
December 2000 issued by the Regional Trial Court of Maburao, Occidental CANON I – x x x
Mindoro; 3) the complainant was living with a man not her husband; and 4)
the complainant never bothered to discuss respondent’s fees and it was
respondent who always paid for their bills every time they met and ate at a Rule 1.01-- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
restaurant. deceitful conduct.

A hearing was conducted by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) at the IBP Building, Ortigas Center, legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
Pasig City, on 26 July 2005.
xxxx
On 30 September 2005, Investigating Commissioner Dennis A. B. Funa
submitted his Report and Recommendation, recommending the imposition of Rule 7.03-- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on
the penalty of one (1) month suspension on respondent for violation of the his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life,
Code of Professional Responsibility. behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

Thereafter, the IBP passed Resolution No. XVII-2006-117 dated 20 March As may be gleaned from above, the Code of Professional Responsibility
2006, approving and adopting, with modification, the recommendation of the forbids lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
Investigating Commissioner, thus: conduct.

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and Lawyers have been repeatedly reminded that their possession of good moral
APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the character is a continuing condition to preserve their membership in the Bar in
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of good standing. The continued possession of good moral character is a
this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully requisite condition for remaining in the practice of law. In Aldovino v. Pujalte,
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and Jr., we emphasized that:
considering the behavior of Respondent went beyond the norms of conduct
required of a lawyer when dealing with or relating with a client, Atty. Ernesto This Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity and good moral
A. Macabata is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months. character of members of the Bar. They are expected at all times to uphold
the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or
The issue to be resolved in this case is: whether respondent committed acts omission which might lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the public
that are grossly immoral or which constitute serious moral depravity that in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the legal profession. Membership in
would warrant his disbarment or suspension from the practice of law. the legal profession is a privilege. And whenever it is made to appear that an
attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of the public, it
becomes not only the right but also the duty of this Court, which made him
one of its officers and gave him the privilege of ministering within its Bar, to xxxx
withdraw the privilege.
35. When I stopped my car I said okay. I saw her offered (sic) her left cheek
It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest and I lightly kissed it and with my right hand slightly pulled her right cheek
standards of morality. The legal profession exacts from its members nothing towards me and plant (sic) a light kiss on her lips. There was no force used.
less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from No intimidation made, no lewd designs displayed. No breast holding was
misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as done. Everything happened very spontaneously with no reaction from her
officers of the court demand no less than the highest degree of morality. We except saying "sexual harassment."
explained in Barrientos v. Daarol that, "as officers of the court, lawyers must
not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of During the hearing held on 26 July 2005 at the 3rd floor, IBP Building, Dona
good moral character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas City, respondent candidly recalled the following
standards of the community." events:

Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon ATTY. MACABATA: That time in February, we met … I fetched her I should
admission to the Bar but also throughout their legal career, in order to say, somewhere along the corner of Edsa and Kamuning because it was
maintain their good standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity. They then raining so we are texting each other. So I parked my car somewhere
may be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred for any misconduct, along the corner of Edsa and Kamuning and I was there about ten to fifteen
even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be minutes then she arrived. And so I said … she opened my car and then she
wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. went inside so I said, would you like that we have a Japanese dinner? And
she said yes, okay. So I brought her to Zensho which is along Tomas
In Bar Matter No. 1154, good moral character was defined as what a person Morato. When we were there, we discussed about her case, we ordered food
really is, as distinguished from good reputation, or from the opinion generally and then a little while I told her, would it be okay for you of I (sic) order wine?
entertained of him, or the estimate in which he is held by the public in the She said yes so I ordered two glasses of red wine. After that, after discussing
place where he is known. Moral character is not a subjective term but one matters about her case, so I said … it’s about 9:00 or beyond that time
which corresponds to objective reality. already, so I said okay, let’s go. So when I said let’s go so I stood up and
then I went to the car. I went ahead of my car and she followed me then she
It should be noted that the requirement of good moral character has four rode on (sic) it. So I told her where to? She told me just drop me at the same
ostensible purposes, namely: (1) to protect the public; (2) to protect the place where you have been dropping me for the last meetings that we had
public image of lawyers; (3) to protect prospective clients; and (4) to protect and that was at the corner of Morato and Roosevelt Avenue. So, before she
errant lawyers from themselves. went down, I told her can I kiss you goodnight? She offered her left cheek
and I kissed it and with the slight use of my right hand, I ... should I say tilted
her face towards me and when she’s already facing me I lightly kissed her on
In the case at bar, respondent admitted kissing complainant on the lips.
the lips. And then I said good night. She went down the car, that’s it.

COMM. FUNA: February 10 iyan.

xxxx
In his Answer, respondent confessed, thus:
ATTY. MACABATA: Okay. After that were through so I said let’s go because
I have an appointment. So we went out, we went inside my car and I said
27. When she was about to get off the car, I said can I kiss you goodnight. where to? Same place, she said, so then at the same corner. So before she
She offered her left cheek and I kissed it and with my left hand slightly pulled went down , before she opened the door of the car, I saw her offered her left
her right face towards me and kissed her gently on the lips. We said cheek. So I kissed her again.
goodnight and she got off the car.
COMM. FUNA: Pardon?
ATTY. MACABATA: I saw her offered her left cheek like that, so I kissed her In Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma, respondent lawyer was disbarred when he
again and then with the use of my left hand, pushed a little bit her face and abandoned his lawful wife and three children, lured an innocent woman into
then kissed her again softly on the lips and that’s it. x x x. (Emphases marrying him and misrepresented himself as a "bachelor" so he could
supplied.) contract marriage in a foreign land.

It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what In Macarrubo v. Macarrubo, respondent entered into multiple marriages and
is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity then resorted to legal remedies to sever them. There, we ruled that "[s]uch
which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The pattern of misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions of marriage
rule implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight- and family, institutions that this society looks to for the rearing of our children,
laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment. for the development of values essential to the survival and well-being of our
communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole." As such,
In Zaguirre v. Castillo, we reiterated the definition of immoral conduct, as "there can be no other fate that awaits respondent than to be disbarred."
such conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show
indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the In Tucay v. Tucay, respondent contracted marriage with another married
community. Furthermore, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the woman and left complainant with whom he has been married for thirty years.
same must not simply be immoral, but grossly immoral. It must be so corrupt We ruled that such acts constitute "a grossly immoral conduct and only
as to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a indicative of an extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his
high degree or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances profession," warranting respondent’s disbarment.
as to shock the common sense of decency.
In Villasanta v. Peralta, respondent married complainant while his first wife
The following cases were considered by this Court as constitutive of grossly was still alive, their marriage still valid and subsisting. We held that "the act
immoral conduct: of respondent of contracting the second marriage is contrary to honesty,
justice, decency and morality." Thus, lacking the good moral character
In Toledo v. Toledo, a lawyer was disbarred from the practice of law, when required by the Rules of Court, respondent was disqualified from being
he abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with another woman who had admitted to the bar.
borne him a child.
In Cabrera v. Agustin, respondent lured an innocent woman into a simulated
In Obusan v. Obusan, Jr., a lawyer was disbarred after complainant proved marriage and thereafter satisfied his lust. We held that respondent failed to
that he had abandoned her and maintained an adulterous relationship with a maintain that degree of morality and integrity which, at all times, is expected
married woman. This court declared that respondent failed to maintain the of members of the bar. He is, therefore, disbarred from the practice of law.
highest degree of morality expected and required of a member of the bar.
Immorality has not been confined to sexual matters, but includes conduct
In Dantes v. Dantes, respondent’s act of engaging in illicit relationships with inconsistent with rectitude, or indicative of corruption, indecency, depravity
two different women during the subsistence of his marriage to the and dissoluteness; or is willful, flagrant, or shameless conduct showing moral
complainant constitutes grossly immoral conduct warranting the imposition of indifference to opinions of respectable members of the community, and an
appropriate sanctions. Complainant’s testimony, taken in conjunction with the inconsiderate attitude toward good order and public welfare.
documentary evidence, sufficiently established that respondent breached the
high and exacting moral standards set for members of the law profession. Guided by the definitions above, we perceived acts of kissing or beso-beso
on the cheeks as mere gestures of friendship and camaraderie, forms of
In Delos Reyes v. Aznar, it was ruled that it was highly immoral of greetings, casual and customary. The acts of respondent, though, in turning
respondent, a married man with children, to have taken advantage of his the head of complainant towards him and kissing her on the lips are
position as chairman of the college of medicine in asking complainant, a distasteful. However, such act, even if considered offensive and undesirable,
student in said college, to go with him to Manila where he had carnal cannot be considered grossly immoral.
knowledge of her under the threat that she would flank in all her subjects in
case she refused.
Complainant’s bare allegation that respondent made use and took advantage from the lawyer strict compliance with his duties to the court, to his client, to
of his position as a lawyer to lure her to agree to have sexual relations with his brethren in the profession and to the public.
him, deserves no credit. The burden of proof rests on the complainant, and
she must establish the case against the respondent by clear, convincing and The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be exercised on the
satisfactory proof, disclosing a case that is free from doubt as to compel the preservative and not on the vindictive principle, with great caution and only
exercise by the Court of its disciplinary power. Thus, the adage that "he who for the most weighty reasons and only on clear cases of misconduct which
asserts not he who denies, must prove." As a basic rule in evidence, the seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the
burden of proof lies on the party who makes the allegations—ei incumbit court and member of the Bar. Only those acts which cause loss of moral
probation, qui decit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis character should merit disbarment or suspension, while those acts which
probation nulla sit. In the case at bar, complainant miserably failed to comply neither affect nor erode the moral character of the lawyer should only justify a
with the burden of proof required of her. A mere charge or allegation of lesser sanction unless they are of such nature and to such extent as to
wrongdoing does not suffice. Accusation is not synonymous with guilt. clearly show the lawyer’s unfitness to continue in the practice of law. The
dubious character of the act charged as well as the motivation which induced
Moreover, while respondent admitted having kissed complainant on the lips, the lawyer to commit it must be clearly demonstrated before suspension or
the same was not motivated by malice. We come to this conclusion because disbarment is meted out. The mitigating or aggravating circumstances that
right after the complainant expressed her annoyance at being kissed by the attended the commission of the offense should also be considered.
respondent through a cellular phone text message, respondent immediately
extended an apology to complainant also via cellular phone text message. Censure or reprimand is usually meted out for an isolated act of misconduct
The exchange of text messages between complainant and respondent bears of a lesser nature. It is also imposed for some minor infraction of the lawyer’s
this out. duty to the court or the client. In the Matter of Darell Adams, a lawyer was
publicly reprimanded for grabbing a female client, kissing her, and raising her
Be it noted also that the incident happened in a place where there were blouse which constituted illegal conduct involving moral turpitude and
several people in the vicinity considering that Roosevelt Avenue is a major conduct which adversely reflected on his fitness to practice law.
jeepney route for 24 hours. If respondent truly had malicious designs on
complainant, he could have brought her to a private place or a more remote Based on the circumstances of the case as discussed and considering that
place where he could freely accomplish the same. this is respondent’s first offense, reprimand would suffice.

All told, as shown by the above circumstances, respondent’s acts are not We laud complainant’s effort to seek redress for what she honestly believed
grossly immoral nor highly reprehensible to warrant disbarment or to be an affront to her honor. Surely, it was difficult and agonizing on her part
suspension. to come out in the open and accuse her lawyer of gross immoral conduct.
However, her own assessment of the incidents is highly subjective and
The question as to what disciplinary sanction should be imposed against a partial, and surely needs to be corroborated or supported by more objective
lawyer found guilty of misconduct requires consideration of a number of evidence.
factors. When deciding upon the appropriate sanction, the Court must
consider that the primary purposes of disciplinary proceedings are to protect WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty.
the public; to foster public confidence in the Bar; to preserve the integrity of Ernesto Macabata, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED. However,
the profession; and to deter other lawyers from similar respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED to be more prudent and cautious in
misconduct. Disciplinary proceedings are means of protecting the his dealing with his clients with a STERN WARNING that a more severe
administration of justice by requiring those who carry out this important sanction will be imposed on him for any repetition of the same or similar
function to be competent, honorable and reliable men in whom courts and offense in the future.
clients may repose confidence. While it is discretionary upon the Court to
impose a particular sanction that it may deem proper against an erring
SO ORDERED.
lawyer, it should neither be arbitrary and despotic nor motivated by personal
animosity or prejudice, but should ever be controlled by the imperative need
to scrupulously guard the purity and independence of the bar and to exact
Republic of the Philippines The fact that Obusan and Natividad lived as husband and wife was
SUPREME COURT corroborated by Linda Delfin, their housemaid in 1974; Remedios Bernal, a
Manila laundress, and Ernesto Bernal, a plumber, their neighbors staying at 94 Felix
Manalo Street. The three executed the affidavits, Exhibits A, B and F, which
EN BANC were confirmed by their testimonies.

Adm. Case No. 1392, April 2, 1984 Romegil Q. Magana, a pook leader, testified that Obusan introduced himself
as the head of the family (25-30 tsn Nov. 26, 1976). His name is at the head
PRECIOSA R. OBUSAN, Complainant, vs. GENEROSO B. OBUSAN, of the barangay list (Exh. E, G and H). Nieves Cacnio the owner of the
JR., Respondent. apartment, came to know Obusan as Mr. Estabillo. She Identified five
photographs, Exhibits I to I-D where respondent Obusan appeared as the
man wearing eyeglasses.
Roger Castuciano for complainant.
Respondent's defense was that his relationship with Natividad was
Roemo J. Callejo for respondent. terminated when he married Preciosa. He admitted that from time to time he
went to 85-A Felix Manalo Street but only for the purpose of giving financial
AQUINO, J.: assistance to his son, Jun-Jun. Lawyer Rogelio Panotes, the ninong of Jun-
Jun, corroborated respondent's testimony.
This is a disbarment case filed in 1974 by Preciosa Razon against her
husband Generoso B. Obusan, Jr. on the ground of adultery or grossly He denied the testimonies of the maid, the laundress and the plumber. He
immoral conduct. He was admitted to the bar in 1968. claims that they were paid witnesses. He declared that he did not live with
Natividad. He resided with his sister at Cypress Village, San Francisco del
In 1967, when Generoso B. Obusan, Jr. was working in the Peoples Monte, Quezon City.
Homesite and Housing Corporation, he became acquainted with Natividad
Estabillo who represented to him that she was a widow. They had carnal On the other hand, he claimed that he was constrained to leave the conjugal
relations. He begot with her a son who was born on November 27, 1972. He home because he could not endure the nagging of his wife, their violent
was named John Obusan (Exh. D). Generoso came to know that Natividad's quarrels, her absences from the conjugal home (she allegedly went to
marriage to Tony Garcia was subsisting or undissolved. Baguio, Luneta and San Andres Street) and her interference with his
professional obligations.
Four days after the birth of the child or on December 1, 1972, Generoso, 33,
married Preciosa, 37, in a civil ceremony. The marriage was ratified in a The case was investigated by the Office of the Solicitor General. He filed a
religious ceremony held on December 30,1972 (Exh. C and C-1) complaint for disbarment against the respondent. Obusan did not answer the
complaint. He waived the presentation of additional evidence. His lawyer did
The couple lived with the wife's mother at 993 Sto. Cristo Street, Tondo, not file any memorandum.
Manila for more than one year. In the evening of April 13, 1974, when his
wife was out of the house, lawyer Obusan asked permission from his mother- After an examination of the record, we find that the complainant has
in-law to leave the house and take a vacation in his hometown, Daet, sustained the burden of proof. She has proven his abandonment of her and
Camarines Norte. Since then, he has never returned to the conjugal abode. his adulterous relations with a married woman separated from her own
husband.
Preciosa immediately started looking for her husband. After much patient
investigation and surveillance, she discovered that he was living and Respondent was not able to overcome the evidence of his wife that he was
cohabiting with Natividad in an apartment located at 85-A Felix Manalo guilty of grossly immoral conduct. Abandoning one's wife and resuming
Street, Cubao, Quezon City. He had brought his car to that place. carnal relations with a former paramour, a married woman, fails within "that
conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral
indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the
community" (7 C.J.S. 959; Arciga vs. Maniwang Adm. Case No. 1608,
August 14, 1981, 106 SCRA 591).

Thus, a lawyer was disbarred when he abandoned his lawful wife and
cohabited with another woman who had borne him a child. He failed to
maintain the highest degree of morality expected and required of a member
of the bar (Toledo vs. Toledo, 117 Phil. 768).

WHEREFORE, respondent is disbarred. His name is stricken off the Roll of


Attorneys.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines reluctance and a feeling of doubt engendered by love of respondent
SUPREME COURT and the respondent's promise of marriage, complainant acquiesced,
Manila and before they entered the hotel room respondent registered and
signed the registry book as 'Mr. and Mrs. A. Puno; that after
EN BANC registering at the hotel, respondent shoved complainant inside the
room; that as soon as they were inside the room, someone locked
A.C. No. 389, February 28, 1967 the door from outside and respondent proceeded to the bed and
undressed himself; that complainant begged respondent not to
molest her but respondent insisted, telling her: 'anyway I have
IN RE: DISBARMENT OF ARMANDO PUNO. promised to marry you'; and respondent, still noticing the reluctance
FLORA QUINGWA, Complainant, vs. ARMANDO PUNO, Respondent. of complainant to his overtures of love, again assured complainant
that 'you better give up. Anyway I promised that I will marry you'; that
Domingo T. Zavalla for complainant. thereupon respondent pulled complainant to the bed, removed her
Armando Puno for and in his own behalf as respondent. panty, and then placed himself on top of her and held her hands to
keep her flat on the bed; that when respondent was already on top of
REGALA, J.: complainant the latter had no other recourse but to submit to
respondent's demand and two (2) sexual intercourse took place from
On April 16, 1959, Flora Quingwa filed before this Court a verified complaint 3:00 o'clock until 7:00 o'clock that same evening when they left the
charging Armando Puno, a member of the Bar, with gross immorality and hotel and proceeded to a birthday party together; that after the
misconduct. In his answer, the respondent denied all the material allegations sexual act with complainant on June 1, 1958, respondent repeatedly
of the complaint, and as a special defense averred that the allegations proposed to have some more but complainant refused telling that
therein do not constitute grounds for disbarment or suspension under section they had better wait until they were married; that after their said
25, Rule 127 of the former Rules of Court. sexual intimacy on June 1, 1958 and feeling that she was already on
the family way, complainant repeatedly implored respondent to
comply with his promise of marriage but respondent refused to
The case was referred to the Solicitor General on June 3, 1958, for
comply; that on February 20, 1959, complainant gave birth to a child.
investigation, report and recommendation. Hearings were held by the then
Solicitor Roman Cancino, Jr., during which the complainant, assisted by her
counsel, presented evidence both oral and documentary. The respondent, as That the acts of the respondent in having carnal knowledge with the
well as his counsel, cross-examined the complainant's witnesses. The complainant through a promise of marriage which he did not fulfill and has
respondent likewise testified. He denied having sexual intercourse with refused to fulfill up to the present constitute a conduct which shows that
complainant at the Silver Moon Hotel on June 1, 1958, disclaimed the respondent is devoid of the highest degree of morality and integrity which at
handwriting "Mr. & Mrs. A. Puno" appearing in the hotel register, and all times is expected of and must be possessed by members of the Philippine
disowned Armando Quingwa Puno, Jr. to be his child. Bar.

After the hearing, the Solicitor General filed a complaint, formally charging The Solicitor General asked for the disbarment of the respondent.
respondent with immorality. The complaint recites:
A copy of this complaint was served on respondent on May 3, 1962.
That on June 1, 1958, at a time when complainant Flora Quingwa Thereupon, he answered the complaint on June 9, 1962, again denying that
and respondent Armando Puno were engaged to be married, the he took complainant to the Silver Moon Hotel and that on the promise of
said respondent invited the complainant to attend a movie but on marriage, succeeded twice in having sexual intercourse with her. He,
their way the respondent told the complainant that they take however, admitted that sometime in June, 1955, he and the complainant
refreshment before going to the Lyric Theater; that they proceeded to became sweethearts until November, 1955, when they broke off, following a
the Silver Moon Hotel at R. Hidalgo, Manila; that while at the quarrel. He left for Zamboanga City in July, 1958, to practice law. Without
restaurant on the first floor of the said Silver Moon Hotel, respondent stating in his answer that he had the intention of introducing additional
proposed to complainant that they go to one of the rooms upstairs evidence, respondent prayed that the complaint be dismissed.
assuring her that 'anyway we are getting married; that with
This case was set for hearing in this Court on July 20, 1962. On the day of To show how intimate the relationship between the respondent and the
the hearing Solicitor Ceferino E. Gaddi who appeared for the complainant complainant was, the latter testified that she gave money to the respondent
submitted the case for decision without oral argument. There was no whenever he asked from her. This was corroborated by the testimony of
appearance for the respondents. Maria Jaca a witness for the complainant. Even respondent's letter dated
November 3, 1958 (Exh. E) shows that he used to ask for money from the
Since the failure of respondent to make known in his answer his intention to complainant.
present additional evidence in his behalf is deemed a waiver of the right to
present such evidence (Toledo vs. Toledo, Adm. Case No. 266, April 27, The lengthy cross-examination to which complainant was subjected by the
1963), the evidence produced before the Solicitor General in his respondent himself failed to discredit complainant's testimony.
investigation, where respondent had an opportunity to object to the evidence
and cross-examine the witnesses, may now be considered by this Court, In his answer to the complaint of the Solicitor General, the respondent
pursuant to Section 6, Rule 139 of the Rules of Court. averred that he and complainant were sweethearts up to November, 1955
only. The fact that they reconciled and were sweethearts in 1958 is
After reviewing the evidence, we are convinced that the facts are as stated in established by the testimony of Fara Santos, a witness of the complainant
the complaint. (pp. 12 & 17, t.s.n.); respondent's letter to the complainant dated November
3, 1958 (Exh. E); and respondent's own testimony (pp. 249 & 255, t.s.n.)
Complainant is an educated woman, having been a public school teacher for
a number of years. She testified that respondent took her to the Silver Moon Complainant submitted to respondent's plea for sexual intercourse because
Hotel on June 1, 1958, signing the hotel register as "Mr. and Mrs. A. Puno," of respondent's promise of marriage and not because of a desire for sexual
and succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her on the promise of gratification or of voluntariness and mutual passion. (Cf. Tanjanco vs. Court
marriage. The hotel register of the Silver Moon Hotel (Exh. B-1 and Exh. B-2) of Appeals, G.R. No. L-18630, December 17, 1966).
shows that "Mr. and Mrs. A. Puno" arrived at that hotel on June 1, 1958 at
3:00 P.M. and departed at 7:00 P.M. One of the requirements for all applicants for admission to the Bar is that the
applicant must produce before the Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of
Complainant also testified that she last saw respondent on July 5, 1958, good moral character (Section 2, Rule 127 of the old Rules of Court, now
when the latter went to Zamboanga City. When she learned that respondent section 2, Rule 138). If that qualification is a condition precedent to a license
had left for Zamboanga City, she sent him a telegram sometime in August of or privilege to enter upon the practice of law, it is essential during the
that year telling him that she was in trouble. Again she wrote him a letter in continuance of the practice and the exercise of the privilege. (Royong vs.
September and another one in October of the same year, telling him that she Oblena, Adm. Case No. 376, April 30, 1963, citing In re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567).
was pregnant and she requested him to come. Receiving no replies from When his integrity is challenged by evidence, it is not enough that he denies
respondent, she went to Zamboanga City in November, 1958, where she met the charges against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence
the respondent and asked him to comply with his promise to marry her. for the relator (Legal and Judicial Ethics, by Malcolm, p. 93) and show proofs
that he still maintains the highest degree of morality and integrity, which at all
Respondent admitted that he left for Zamboanga City in July, 1958, and that times is expected of him. Respondent denied that he took complainant to the
he and complainant met in Zamboanga City in November, 1958. The fact that Silver Moon Hotel and had sexual intercourse with her on June 1, 1958, but
complainant sent him a telegram and letters was likewise admitted in he did not present evidence to show where he was on that date. In the case
respondent's letter to the complainant dated November 3, 1958 (Exh. E), of United States vs. Tria, 17 Phil. 303, Justice Moreland, speaking for the
which was duly identified by the respondent to be his. Court, said:

Complainant gave birth to a baby boy on February 20, 1959, at the Maternity An accused person sometimes owes a duty to himself if not to the State. If he
and Children's Hospital. This is supported by a certified true copy of a birth does not perform that duty he may not always expect the State to perform it
certificate issued by the Deputy Local Civil Registrar of Manila, and a for him. If he fails to meet the obligation which he owes to himself, when to
certificate of admission of complainant to the Maternity and Children's meet it is the easiest of easy things, he is hardly indeed if he demand and
Hospital issued by the medical records clerk of the hospital. expect that same full and wide consideration which the State voluntarily gives
to those who by reasonable effort seek to help themselves. This is
particularly so when he not only declines to help himself but actively conceals
from the State the very means by which it may assist him.

With respect to the special defense raised by the respondent in his answer to
the charges of the complainant that the allegations in the complaint do not
fall under any of the grounds for disbarment or suspension of a member of
the Bar as enumerated in section 25 of Rule 127 of the (old) Rules of Court,
it is already a settled rule that the statutory enumeration of the grounds for
disbarment or suspension is not to be taken as a limitation on the general
power of courts to suspend or disbar a lawyer. The inherent powers of the
court over its officers can not be restricted. Times without number, our
Supreme Court held that an attorney will be removed not only for malpractice
and dishonesty in his profession, but also for gross misconduct, which shows
him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges which his license
and the law confer upon him. (In re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567, citing In re Smith
[1906] 73 Kan 743; Balinon vs. de Leon Adm. Case No. 104, January 28,
1954; 50 O.G. 583; Mortel vs. Aspiras, Adm. Case No. 145, December 28,
1956, 53 O.G. 627). As a matter of fact, "grossly immoral conduct" is now
one of the grounds for suspension or disbarment. (Section 27, Rule 138,
Rules of Court).

Under the circumstances, we are convinced that the respondent has


committed a grossly immoral act and has, thus disregarded and violated the
fundamental ethics of his profession. Indeed, it is important that members of
this ancient and learned profession of law must conform themselves in
accordance with the highest standards of morality. As stated in paragraph 29
of the Canons of Judicial Ethics:

...The lawyer should aid in guarding the bar against the admission to the
profession of candidates unfit or unqualified because deficient in either moral
character or education. He should strive at all times to uphold the honor and
to maintain the dignity of the profession and to improve not only the law but
the administration of justice.

Wherefore, respondent Armando Puno is hereby disbarred and, as a


consequence, his name is ordered stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys.
Republic of the Philippines of law. This order of March 11, 1993 became the basis of Adm. Case No.
SUPREME COURT 3815 entitled "Judge Renato Abastillas v. Enrique S. Chua."
Manila
The two administrative cases were consolidated and referred to Associate
EN BANC Justice Alfredo J. Lagamon of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report
and recommendation in a resolution of this Court dated May 6, 1993.
A.M. No. RTJ-92-863 and AC. No. 3815, July 11, 1994.
After hearing of the two cases, Justice Lagamon submitted his report
JOHNSON LEE and SONNY MORENO, Complainants, v. HON. RENATO recommending the dismissal of the administrative complaint against Judge
E. ABASTILLAS, Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 50 Bacolod City, Abastillas in Adm. Matter No. RTJ-92-863 and the imposition of appropriate
Respondent. disciplinary measures against Atty. Enrique 5. Chua in Adm. Case No. 3815.

JUDGE RENATO E. ABASTILLAS, Complainant, v. ATTY. ENRIQUE S. Evidence in Adm. Case No. RTJ-92-563.
CHUA, Respondent.
Complainants in Adm. Case No. RTJ-92-863 sought to prove their charges of
Enrique S. Chua for complainants. violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and gross misconduct
and conduct unbecoming a magistrate against Judge Abastillas, through the
affidavits and testimonies of Johnny K.H. Uy, Johnson Lee and Atty. Enrique
DECISION
S. Chua.
PER CURIAM:
The testimony of Atty. Chua who claimed to have delivered the bribe money
of P20,000.00 to Judge Abastillas on May 2 or 3, 1991 as down payment of
Johnson Lee and Bonny Moreno filed with this Court a verified complainant the consideration for the dismissal of the criminal cases against his clients, is
dated June 8, 1992, docketed as Adm. Case No. RTJ- 863, charging summarized in the report of Justice Lagamon, to wit:
respondent Judge Renato E. Abastillas with a violation of the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act for soliciting a bribe in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and
10011 pending in his sala entitled "People v. Johnson Lee and Sonny "Atty. Enrique S. Chua as counsel for the complainants and also as their
Moreno," serious misconduct and conduct unbecoming a member of the principal witness declared in his Affidavit that when criminal cases Nos.
10010 and 10011 were raffled to RTC, Br. 50, Bacolod City, presided by the
Bench, gross ignorance of the law, rendering unjust interlocutory orders and
respondent, he was heartened because the respondent was among the few
manifest partiality, oppression and inordinate delay in the administration of
judges he was comfortable with. Consequently, Atty. Chua allegedly
justice "which may result or has resulted in falsification of public documents
or in the commission of falsehood." approached the respondent in his chambers and apprised him of the
background of the cases and requested that the warrants of arrest be held in
abeyance because of the irregularity in the conduct of the preliminary
In his comment dated September 28,1992, Judge Abastillas vehemently investigation. That the respondent accordingly instructed the docket clerk not
denied the charges against him. He averred that Atty. Chua had an axe to to release the warrants of arrest. After the clerk left, the respondent allegedly
grind against him because of a prior incident between them. Judge Abastillas said, Ike, don’t worry toe much, anyway, that is not your personal problem.
pointed out that on September 28, 1992, Atty. Chua as counsel for the They are just cases of your clients. What is important is that you are assured
accused in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011, filed an Urgent Motion for of your attorney’s fees. Why, how much is your fee there? P50,000.00? Make
Reconsideration where he made statements which were highly it double, so that I can have a share there and I will take care of everything’
contemptuous of Judge Abastillas. Hence, according to Judge Abastillas, he (Affidavit of Atty. Chua; Exh.’H’).
issued an order on March 2, 1993 requiring Atty. Chua to show cause why he
should not be held in contempt of court and recommended for suspension
from the practice of law. After due proceedings, Judge Abastillas issued an Atty. Chua then apprised his client Johnson Lee of what happened and told
order on March 11, 1993 finding Atty. Chua guilty of contempt of court and him not to worry but at the same time informed him that the judge is asking
for P50,000.00 to take care of everything. Johnny K.H. Uy advised Atty.
imposing upon him a fine in the amount of P500.00. Judge Abastillas then
Chua that they are willing to give P50,000.00 to the respondent because of
recommended Co this Court that Atty. Chua be suspended from the practice
their sad experience with the Department of Justice and insisted that the "In the Memorandum filed by Atty. Chua on Dec. 28, 1993, he pointed out the
amount be given over the objections of Atty. Chua. That Mr. Uy sent a check following facts which were either admitted or undisputed and which he
in the amount of P20,000.00 to Atty. Chua, which the latter should in turn believes established the misconduct and the impropriety of the respondent
give to respondent as initial payment for the bribe. In the meantime, Atty. as follows:
Chua deposited the check in his account.

Sometime in the second week of April, 1991, the criminal docket clerk of the
respondent informed Atty. Chua that the bail bond for his clients was a. Respondent Judge’s admission that he met complainant Lee ahead of
increased from P18,000.00 to P100,000.00 each, upon ax paste motion filed witness Johnny Uy, whom he tagged as the ‘financier’ of the herein
by the private prosecutor. Aware of the adverse development, Johnny Uy complainants on May 29, 1991; ‘while he met Uy only on October 7,
blamed Atty. Chua for not giving the money yet to the Respondent. Atty. 1991’ (p. 11, Comment dated September 28, 1992 of respondent).
Chua again went to the chambers of the respondent where accordingly he b. Respondent Judge’s admission that, indeed, on May 29, 1991, he and
was advised by the latter to file a motion to strike out the ex-parte motion for complainant Lee saw each other at the Quezon City Sports Center,
the reduction of the bail and at the same time moved for the reduction of the during the meeting of the Philippine Judges’ Association (p. 11,
bail provided it shall be in cash. The motion was filed and the respondent Comment, supra).
granted it the following day. The respondent instructed Atty. Chua that the c. As to witness Uy, respondent Judge admitted that ‘it is true that
bail bond should be in cash to facilitate the collection of his attorney’s fees so respondent met with Johnny N.H. Uy on October 7, 1991 at the
that both of them can receive their respective compensation for their efforts residence of respondent at Unit A-2, 157 Katipunan Road Quezon City .
(Exh.’H’, par. 9). . .’ (p. 7, Comment, supra).

Again, in his Affidavit Atty. Chua stated that on May 2, 1991 at about 4:00 Atty. Chua is of the opinion that the meeting of the respondent with the
o’clock in the afternoon he delivered P20,000.00 to the respondent and accused who were charged with two (2) criminal cases before his sala will
before he left the chambers, the respondent jestingly said where will they render him liable for gross misconduct or conduct unbecoming of (sic) a
celebrate that evening. magistrate."

Moreover, he indicated therein that on January 29,1992, Johnson Lee and Atty. Chua further declared that after he delivered the P20,000.00 to Judge
Atty. Chua appeared before the Judicial and Bar Council and briefly related Abastillas, the latter told him that the accused (in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010
the delivery of the P20,000.00 to the respondent where he was rebuked by and 10011) could see the Judge at the forthcoming convention of Philippine
Dean Palma for allowing himself to be used as a conduit for illegal and Judges’ Association to be held at the Quezon City Sports Center.
immoral act. Dean Palma asked Atty. Chua if he was not as guilty as the
respondent (Affidavit, par. 16).
Johnson Lee, one of the accused in the Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and
10011, narrated on the witness stand that he received a long distance call
During the cross examination of Atty. Chua, he affirmed that his first meeting from Atty. Chua advising him that Judge Abastillas wanted to see him
with the respondent was between April 10 to 15, 1991 in his chambers when (Johnson Lee) at the Quezon City Sports Center on May 29, 1991 where the
the criminal docket clerk was instructed not to release the warrants of arrest Philippine Judges’ Association was to hold a convention. Johnson Lee went
(p. 52, TSN, Sept. 16, 1993; p. 41, TSN, Sept. 15, 1993). He further testified to the place on said date. Alter introducing himself to Judge Abastillas, they
that it was also at that time when the respondent solicited P50,000.00 when repaired to a function room where they had a private conversation for about
he said, ‘why, how much is your fees there? P50,000.00? You double it.’ (p. twenty minutes. During the meeting, Johnson Lee naked Judge Abastillas if
54, TSN, Sept. 16, 1993). The second meeting was when Atty. Chua he had received what they sent to Atty. Chua. Judge Abastillas said yes, but
discussed the reduction of the bail bend which he said could be on April 17, added, "I cannot give you what you are asking. It will take a little time to
18 and 19, 1991, but most probably on the 18th (pp. 85, 86, TSN, Sept. 15, study." Johnson Lee responded by saying, "Judge, the balance later on na
1993), and the third meeting was when he delivered the P20,000.00 which lang." Judge Abastillas replied, "Okay, okay. Anyway, I know they have no
he said was on May 2, 1991 but which he rectified during cross examination case against you."
that he withdrew the amount on May 2, 1991 and the delivery of P20,000.00
to the respondent was on May 3, 1991 at about 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon
(pp. 63-64, TSN, Sept. 15, 1993).
On the same occasion, Johnson Lee took the opportunity to ask Judge low voice: "Johnson, don’t worry," Huwag kang mag-alala. Nakatimbre na
Abastillas why he approved three ex-parte motions of the private prosecutor ang kaso n’yo sa akin.
in the criminal cases, one, for issuance of a warrant of arrest of the accused
and, another, for increase of their bail bond, without giving the accused an After some waiting and obviously realizing that Judge Abastillas was giving
opportunity to oppose the same. Judge Abastillas assured Johnson Lee that the accused a runaround, not having done anything relative to the criminal
there was nothing to worry "because that is my style. I will just give them a proceedings to indicate that he would perform his part of the bargain,
little favor. Anyway, the case will be decided in your favor." Johnson Lee appeared before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) sometime
in the middle of 1992 to oppose Judge Abastillas’ application for transfer to
Before they parted, Johnson Lee told Judge Abastillas that one Johnny Uy, Manila as RTC Judge on the ground of his lack of good moral character.
a brother of Ban Hun Flores, who had a hand in the filing of the criminal Johnson Lee saw Justice Loreno Relova to whom he cited the incidents
cases, wanted to see the judge. Judge Abastillas said yes. "You just give him where the Judge allegedly solicited money in the sums of P50,000.00 and
my telephone number and call me." Judge Abastillas had earlier given $5,000.00 and accepted the amount of P20,000.00 in connection with
Johnson Lee his calling card bearing his telephone number 7222968. Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011. Justice Relova advised him to come
back together with Johnny Uy and bring with them the tape containing the
The meeting of Judge Abastillas with Johnson Lee at the Quezon City Sports conversation between Johnny Uy and Judge Abastillas in the evening of
Center became the basis for the charges of "gross misconduct and conduct October 16, 1991. A week later or on January 29, 1991 Johnson Lee,
unbecoming of (sic) a magistrate." together with Johnny Uy and Atty. Chua, returned to JBC’s office where the
tape was replayed before then JBC member Calcetas-Santos. Atty.
Johnny K.H. Uy testified that he was concerned with the two cases pending Calcetas-Santos obtained an English translation of the taped conversation
before Judge Abastillas where the accused were charged with and gave it to Justice Relova and Dean Rodolfo Palma, another JBC
member. Both extensively interrogated Johnson Lee, Johnny Uy and Atty.
embezzlement of the funds of Neugene Marketing Corporation. According to
Chua. At one point, Dean Palma sternly reprimanded Atty. Chua for having
Uy, he was interested in the outcome of the cases, more particularly in the
allowed himself to be a conduit in the bribery, pointedly reminding Chua that
acquittal of the accused, for the reason that the pendency of the criminal
by delivering himself the advance payment of P20,000.00 to Judge
cases had adversely affected the operation of the corporation, 75% of which
stocks had been assigned to him. Uy declared that he visited Judge Abastillas, he was as guilty as the judge.
Abastillas at his residence in St. Ignatius Village, Quezon City, on October 7,
1991 at about 11:30 in the morning. Before going to Judge Abastillas’ house,
Uy called him by telephone and Judge Abastillas gave him the direction of
his place. During that visit, where the background and merits of the criminal As specifics in support of their other charges against Judge Abastillas,
cases were discussed, Judge Abastillas assured Uy that he would take care complainants in Adm. Case No. RTJ-92-863 averred and sought to prove the
of the cases. Before they parted Judge Abastillas told Uy to ask Johnson Lee following:
if he could help Judge Abastillas with 5,000 U.S. dollars. Uy replied that he
would talk to Johnson Lee about the matter and would inform Judge 1. When complainants Filed a Consolidated Motion to Quash the
Abastillas by telephone of the result. On October 16, 1991 at about 7:00 Information in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011, Judge
o’clock in the evening, Uy called up Judge Abastillas telling him that there will Abastillas, instead of acting on the same, issued an order for their
be no problem about the 5T (meaning US $5,000.00) as long as the cases of arrest and confiscation of their bailbonds in view of their failure to
Johnson Lee will be cleared first. Judge Abastillas told Uy to take up the appear at the arraignment scheduled for that day;
matter with Al Simbulan. Al Simbulan, a lawyer, was a mutual friend of Uy 2. Likewise, although complainants had already posted bail, Judge
and Judge Abastillas. The telephone conversation was taped by Uy (Exh. Abastillas still insisted that they be present at their arraignment. Judge
"B"). Abastillas gave preferential treatment to some cases, particularly
Criminal Cases Nos. 8846 and 8847, entitled "People v. Espinosa" for
Going back to the testimony of Johnson Lee, said witness further declared violation of the Dangerous Drugs Acts and for Illegal Possession of
that sometime in the middle of June, 1991, Atty. Simbulan called his office Firearms and Ammunitions, which were heard and the accused
and left a note that they would have dinner with Judge Abastillas at six acquitted in just five (5) months, and in which the accused were not
o’clock in the evening at Manila Hotel. Johnson Lee obliged. Towards the required to be present at the hearing of the Motion to Quash the
end of the dinner, Judge Abastillas told Johnson Lee and Atty. Simbulan in a Information; whereas in connection with complainants’ Consolidated
Motion to Quash the Information, their presence was required in a "full- "A: Because as far as I can recall, when I appeared before the JBC I had
blown type of hearing" and the motion was denied in open court in a then with me my old bank passbook. I traced the deposit and withdrawal in
"trifling manner. that passbook. There was a withdrawal on May 2, 1991 of the sum of
3. Complainants’ Urgent Motion to Reset Arraignment and to Set P20,000.00. So most probably, it’s either on that very same day or
Arraignment, Pre-trial and Continuous Trial dated June 2, 1991 was immediately the next day that I delivered the money.
arbitrarily denied, their bonds were declared forfeited and the
bondsmen were asked to show cause why no judgment shall be "A: I think most probably it would be May 3 because if I am not mistaken, the
rendered against them for the amount of their bonds. In addition, next day is either a non-working day or a Saturday and I remember that. Yes,
Judge Abastillas issued an order for complainants’ arrest and fixed an yes. Correct. when I placed the P20,000.00 in my attache case, I remember
excessive bond of P50,000.00 each for their provisional liberty. my kid commenting that ‘Papa, you have so much money in your attache
4. In Criminal Case No. 8847, Judge Abastillas issued an order case.’ So the money stayed overnight with me. Yes, Correct. It was May 3."
posthaste requiring the delivery to court of the illegally possessed (TSN, p. 11, Sept. 15, 1993.)
firearm and ammunition, which order was not necessary because the
items should have been forfeited in favor of the Government and Seizing upon Atty. Chun’s above-quoted assertion that the delivery of the
deposited in Camp Crame. money "most probably’ was on May 3,1991, Judge Abastillas argued that he
5. Two of complainants’ motions in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and
could not have received the money in the afternoon of May 3 as he left
10011 had remained unresolved beyond the 90-day reglementary
Bacolod City early in the morning of that day by ferry boat for Iloilo City and
period.
then proceeded by car to Roxas City where he stayed up to the following day
to attend a testimonial in honor of Justice Bellosillo who was appointed as
Court Administrator. To prove his alibi, Judge Abastillas submitted an
affidavit of Judge Bernardo T. Ponferrada (then Presiding Judge of Branch
In his verified Comments dated September 28, 1992 and Sworn Affidavit of 42, RTC, Bacolod City) certifying that he and his wife were with Judge
October 22, 1993, as well as in his testimony in his own behalf, Judge Abastillas in their journey to Roxas City. Judges Sergio Pestano, Ramon B.
Abastillas denied having solicited P50,000.00 from Atty. Chua or having Berjamin and Jose V. Alovera of the Regional Trial Court at Roxas City also
received P20,000.00 from him as initial payment at 4:00 p.m. on May 2 or executed a joint affidavit to the effect that Judge Abastillas arrived at Roxas
May 3, 1991. To prove his defense, Judge Abastillas obtained a joint affidavit City just before noon of May 3, 1991 where he stayed up to the following day.
from the personnel of his sala, namely, Pablo D. Juguan (Branch Clerk of
Court), Estanes A. Alvior (Legal Researcher), Aurora Leda S. Exito, Alma M. Judge Abastillas admitted that he met Johnson Lee on May 29, 1991 at the
Ronato, Wilma B. Cepeda and Julieta D. Jarce (Stenographers), Diana B. Quezon City Sports Center during the convention of the Philippine Judges’
Lamur (Interpreter), Amando N. Eso (Deputy Sheriff), Maribec B. Alvior (Staff Association. But he denied having asked Johnson for a meeting there or
Asst. 2) and Edwin O. Navaja (RTC Aide) stating, in essence, that during the having talked to him privately regarding the criminal cases. Judge Abastillas
incumbency of Judge Abastillas of RTC Branch 50 in Bacolod City, they had said that RTC Judge Joselito de la Rosa of Manila, was introduced to him by
never seen Atty. Chua enter the judge’s chambers. Judge Ponferrada. Judge de la Rosa, a friend of Johnson Lee, in turn
introduced Lee to him. According to Judge Abastillas, he gave his calling
While on direct examination, Atty. Chua declared that he delivered the card to Judge de la Rosa who must have handed it to Johnson Lee
P20,000.00 to Judge Abastillas either on May 2 or May 3 of 1991, on cross- afterward. This was the same calling card that was introduced as evidence
examination Atty. Chua at one point adverted when pressed to give the exact by the complainants in Adm. Case No. RTJ-92-863.
date that:
Judge Abastillas, likewise, confirmed the fact that he met Johnson Lee at the
"Q: Now, we go back to your allegation that sometime either on May 2 or the Manila Hotel in the evening of June 7, 1991 but that the latter was never
next day, you delivered P20,000.00 to Judge Abastillas? invited by him to be there on that occasion. This is the account of Judge
Abastillas in his sworn affidavit (Exh. "27") of the meeting:
"A: Yes. Correct.
"23. It is true that Lee attended the dinner which I and my wife had with my
"Q: Can you please be a little bit more specific. Was it May 2 or May 3? cousin and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Arturo Sena, at the Manila Hotel on the
evening of June 7, 1991. He was a gatecrasher on that occasion. what his sister Banhua is opposing party. He did not say outright that he was going
happened was this: My cousin and I agreed to a foursome at the Manila to discuss the Criminal Cases against Lee and Moreno; if he had, I would
Hotel on June 7, 1991. When my wife and I were already on our way to the have refused to see him, because I did not want to talk with or about Lee, at
Manila Hotel, Atty. Simbulan called me up and said he wanted to see me. I this time, I was getting fed up with the pushiness and aggressive behavior of
told him that I was going to a dinner at the Manila Hotel. He insisted in seeing Uy, who plainly wanted to establish a close relationship with me. Uy was very
me; and I had an inkling it was because of the above-mentioned criminal insistent that I see him, so just to accommodate him, I agreed to see him.
cases, so I told him, I was willing to see him, as long as he did not bring And he came to my house on said date, October 7, 1991. He did talk about
along either or both Lee or Moreno. (Prior to this, he informed me that Lee the S.E.C. case and also about Commissioners. I never asked him for
and Moreno were clients of his partner, Atty. Pineda), and I made this $5,000.00. I never asked him for money, Philippine or American currency, on
condition because I did not want to meet Lee and/or Moreno outside of the that occasion, or over the phone. Uy was lying when he testified that when
court and especially not during a social occasion; I was willing to see Atty. he came to see me at home, I asked for $5,000.00 from him and/or Lee. He
Simbulan because his brother is a friend of mine, and he was counsel for one was likewise lying when he said that in a telephone conversation with me on
of my brothers-in law (’bilas-husband of my wife’s sister). Atty. Simbulan October 16, 1991, said $5,000.00 was discussed. That is not true. It is
agreed that he would not take with him either of his clients, so I told him to possible I may have talked with him over the phone, but I categorically
join us at the Manila Hotel. Much to my surprise and anger, Lee was at the declare that I have never mentioned, nor have we ever discussed $5,000.00.
Manila Hotel Lobby, when he reached the place. So, when I saw Atty. Also, I have never consented to the taping of any conversation, with him, or
Simbulan, I asked him: ‘Bakit ba nandito iyan?’ (Why is that person here?). with anybody else." (Sworn Statement, Exh. "27", pp. 14 and 15.)
Atty. Simbulan answered: ‘Ewan ko ba diyan. Pasensiya ka na; Huwag ka
nang magalit. Hayaan mo na siya’ (I don’t know. Please be patient; don’t get Evidence in Adm. Case No. 3815
angry. Let him join us). I contained my irritation. My cousin and his wife, and
my wife were civil and hospitable. We, Filipinos, are a hospitable people. The offending statements of Atty. Chua that were the subject of the March
Unlike Americans, we tolerate gatecrashers, as in this instance of
11, 1993 contempt order were contained in the Urgent Motion for
gatecrashing by Johnson Lee, who is a very pushy person, as indeed he also
Reconsideration dated February 21, 1992 he filed in Criminal Cases Nos.
gatecrashed during the Judges’ Convention. Furthermore, as indicated by
10010 and 10011, to wit:
their attempts to see and talk to Justice Alfredo Lagamon, the Investigating
Justice in this proceeding.
1. ’And at the risk of incurring the ire of the Court, defense counsel regrets
to say that in denying the six (6) incidents in the manner above-
"24. During the dinner, altho my wife, my cousin and his wife tried to be
described, the Court acted no better than a pre-school kid who murmurs
cordial to Lee, I showed my displeasure by not addressing him. It is not true
a favorite nursery rime (sic)’ (Page 3, par. 5 of the Motion).
that I told him I will take care of the two criminal cases." (At pp. 13 and 14.) 2. ’To put it bluntly, Accused have the feeling that these cases are being
railroaded against them’ (Page 5, 2nd par. of the Motion).
Again, Judge Abastillas did not deny that Johnson Lee, one of the accused in 3. ’Inasmuch as this motion not only seeks to reconsider the various
Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011, went to his residence at Quezon City palpable erroneous actuations of the Court, which have gone so far out
on October 7, 1991. But the visit, according to Judge Abastillas, was not at of hand, but also cries for prompt extraordinary remedies or corrective
his own initiative and the amount of $5,000.00 was never discussed on that disciplinary sanctions urgently required, so as to restore order and sanity
occasion. This is his version of the meeting: in the entangled situations created by the series of plainly and
outrageously, if not maliciously, erroneous orders of His Honor, which
"25. It is not true that on October 7, 1991 that I asked for $5,000.00 from are highly prejudicial to the rights of the accused and injurious to the
Johnny Uy. He did come to my residence on that date, but that was not on administration of justice and in effect, constitute a desecration of our
my initiative. Prior to October 7, 1991, I had been getting word from our maid entire judicial system, which have therefore rendered the President
and from my son, that a certain Mr. Uy had been calling up asking for me, but Judge RENATO E. ABASTILLAS unfit to continue wearing the judicial
refused to leave any message. And then on October 7, 1991, just as I was robe and sitting any second longer in the Bench, a copy of this Motion is
preparing to go out for a luncheon meeting, our maid informed me a certain made under oath and furnished the Supreme Court thru the Hon. Chief
Mr. Uy wanted to talk to me over the phone. When I answered the phone Justice Andrea R. Narvasa; Judicial and Bar Council and the Court
Johnny Uy introduced himself and insisted that I let him come over to my Administrator, without prejudice to the impending formal administrative
house; he said he wanted to talk to me and explain his S.E.C. Case where
complaint the accused will in due time institute with the Supreme Court Atty. Chua categorically testified on cross-examination during the
(Page 12, No. (7) of the Motion)." proceedings before Justice Lagamon that he gave P20,000.00 as bribe to
Judge Abastillas. Thus:
In the course of the joint hearing of the administrative cases, Judge
Abastillas expanded his charges against Atty. Chua to include the following:

A. Atty Chua does not have the good moral character required of a "Q: In this particular case, with a solicitation bribe allegedly made by Judge
member of the Bar and he violated his oath of office for the reason that: Abastillas, what was your advise to your clients?

1. He admitted during cross-examination that in his conspiracy with "A: I admonished them that the defense in these two cases are intrinsically
Lee, Moreno and Uy, he committed the crime of bribery which is meritorious. So I do not see any reason giving money or bribing any Judge.
penalized in Articles 210 and 212 of the Revised Penal Code; And that I am not in the habit doing that.
2. He has been charged with the crime of Falsification of Public
Document in People of the Philippines versus Enrique B. Chua, "Q: Did you agree with your clients that you would not give the bribe?
docketed as Criminal Case No. 12036 of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 53, Bacolod City;
"A: That is what I told them.
3. An administrative case has been filed against him in Adm. Case No.
1425, entitled "J. Bautista Rabago v. Atty. Enrique S. Chua;"
4. Atty. Chua committed perjury in conspiracy with Lee, Moreno and "Q: What did your clients tell you?
Uy, by testifying in the proceedings under oath that he gave
P20,000.00 as a bribe to Judge Abastillas on May 3, 1991, when he "A: They are so insistent and finally they prevailed upon me. Because their
knew that he never gave any bribe money to Judge Abastillas; and reason is the sad experience they had undergone with the Dept. of Justice.
that Atty. Chua also made other false statements in the proceedings And according to Mr. Uy he told me, he said you just cannot underestimate
to harass Judge Abastillas. my sister Banua and perhaps you do not know her. And he said giving of
money is not in reality a bribe because we are in effect buying justice. And he
B. Atty. Chua violated the provisions of the Code of Professional told me I have to be practical about the whole thing.
Responsibility, as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
"Q: So you were convinced by your clients that this was not really a bribe but
1. Canon 1, Rules 1.01 and 1.02 for falsely testifying under oath that he you were only ‘buying justice’?
gave P20,000.00 bribe money to Judge Abastillas on May 3, 1991;
2. Canon 8, Rule 8.01 for using abusive and offensive language in his "Q:I still have reservation. Actually, up to this date I do not as a way of life
pleadings and memoranda against Undersecretary Bello of the approach such practice but I really do not know why I gave in to their
Department of Justice; constant persistent pleadings.
3. Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03, for not only by perjuring
himself in declaring that be gave P20,000.00 bribe money to Judge "Q: Was it because as you said you emotionally identified yourself to your
Abastillas, but also by offering false evidence in the form of a taped clients?
conversation, indicating lack of candor, fairness and good faith with
the Court, and which acts of Atty. Chua violate his duties not to do "A: Partly maybe.
any falsehood to mislead or allow the court to be misled by any
artifice; and
"Q: So you agreed that you are going to give what Judge Abastillas was
4. Canon 12, Rule 12.04 for advising his client — the two (2) accused
allegedly asking from you?
in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011 — not to attend the
scheduled arraignment.
"A: That was the effect because finally I delivered P20,000.00 to him." (TSN.,
Oct. 27, 1993, pp. 7-8.)
Findings in Adm. Case No. RTJ-92-863 Uy for a few minutes. So Uy went to see respondent at the latter’s house.
After introducing himself, Uy started discussing the criminal cases against
We find no sufficient proof to sustain the charge that Judge Abastillas complainants herein.
accepted the amount of P20,000.00 in view of Atty. Chua’s uncertainty as to
the date he delivered the money. His final estimate of the date on cross- "What respondent repeatedly told Uy is that he (Uy) should rely on the
examination — May 3, 1993 — had afforded Judge Abastillas a credible counsel of Lee and Moreno to do all that need to be done in the case." (pp.
defense of alibi. 6-7.)

However, there is strong and convincing evidence that Judge Abastillas had Since Judge Abastillas had already heard Johnny Uy’s voice on the phone
willingly and knowingly discussed with interested parties with whom he met and in fact they had a face-to-face conversation on October 7, 1991 in the
at least three (3) times, the possible dismissal of the criminal cases for a Judge’s house, it is highly unbelievable that Judge Abastillas could not say
certain consideration. definitely whether he had a talk with Johnny Uy on the phone on October 16,
1991. His lame and shallow stance only serves to emphasize the obvious.
Judge Abastillas made no denial that he met and talked with Johnson Lee,
one of the accused in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011 on May 29, There is no doubt in the mind of the Court that the voices in the telephone
1991 at the Philippine Judges’ convention at the Quezon City Sports Center conversation as recorded in the tape by Johnny Uy on October 16, 1991
on May 29, 1991 and at the Manila Hotel on June 7, 1991. Also, he did not were those of Uy and Abastillas. The taped conversation was replayed at the
deny that he accepted as visitor in his house at St. Ignatius Village, Quezon hearing before Justice Lagamon with the consent of both parties. Johnny Uy
City, on October 7, 1991 Johnny K.H. Uy, a party interested in the outcome identified and recognized the voices in tape as belonging to him and Judge
of the criminal cases. This meeting was followed by a telephone call made by Abastillas.
Uy to Judge Abastillas on October 16, 1991 wherein the former informed the
latter that there will be no problem about the 5T (meaning US$5,000.00) as In the taped conversation already adverted to, Johnny Uy told Judge
long as the cases of Johnson Lee would be cleared first, to which Judge Abastillas that there will be no problem about the 5T (meaning US $5,000.00)
Abastillas suggested to Uy to take up the matter with Al Simbulan, a mutual as long as the (criminal) cases of Johnson Lee will be cleared first. Judge
friend to both. Abastillas’ response was to advise Uy to take up the matter with Al Simbulan.

Judge Abastillas cleverly hedged in answering whether or not he talked to It may be argued that that would not prove that Judge Abastillas solicited
Johnny Uy on the phone on October 16, 1991, except to say, "It is possible I US$5,000.00. However, the taped conversation as the evidence of the
may have talked with him over the phone, but I categorically declare that I complainants in Adm. Case No. RTJ-93-863 would show, was just a sequel
have never mentioned, nor have we even discussed $5,000.00’, (p. 16, of a series of interlinked events that had earlier taken place, starting with the
Sworn Statement, Em. "27"). Judge Abastillas also declared on cross- solicitation by Judge Abastillas of P50,000.00 of which he received
examination that "it is possible (that Johnny Uy talked to him over the phone P20,000.00 as initial payment, followed by the meeting between Judge
on October 16) but I cannot remember exactly the caller, maybe one of the Abastillas and Johnson Lee at the Quezon City Sports Center and at the
callers might be a certain Uy but I cannot recognize because I have never Manila Hotel, and the meeting between Johnny Uy and Judge Abastillas at
heard his voice." (TSN, p. 25, November 11, 1993.) Yet, in his verified the latter’s house at St. Ignatius Village, Quezon City where the judge asked
comment dated September 28, 1992 (Exh. 4), Judge Abastillas declared he for US $5,000.00. All the interrelated events ineluctably point to the
had telephone conversation with Johnny Uy just before Uy went to his house conclusion that Judge Abastillas knew that the "5T" meant $5,000.00 he tried
on October 7, 1991. Thus: to solicit.

"Then in (sic) October 7, 1991 in the morning, our aforesaid maid Beth Besides, if Judge Abastillas during the telephone conversation had no idea at
informed me that Mr. Johnny Uy wanted to talk to me. When respondent all about the "5T" mentioned by Johnny Uy, he should have expressed
answered the phone, Mr. Uy introduced himself and asked that he be surprise and inquired from Uy what he meant by it. He did not, which goes to
allowed to see respondent in his house. Respondent demurred because he show he filly understood what the "5T" stood for.
was in a hurry because he had a 2 p.m. appointment in the Court of Appeals.
But Uy was very insistent, so, just to get rid of him, respondent agreed to see
It is, likewise, suggested that when Johnny Uy mentioned "5T" to Judge on June 7, 1991 or barely a weck after respondent Judge, realizing that he
Abastillas, the latter’s reply did not appear to be responsive because he could no longer pretend to be that ‘resolute’ in avoiding complainant Lee,
mentioned something like ‘Take up the matter with Al Simbulan." The theory vainly set up the pretext that complaint (sic) Lee ‘was a gatecrasher on that
is advanced that it would be illogical for a person who is soliciting a bribe to occasion’. This, by itself is extremely difficult to believe.
involve a third party and a lawyer at that referring to Atty. Al Simbulan. We do
not agree. Atty. Simbulan is a mutual friend of Judge Abastillas and Johnny Even respondent Judge’s explanation about the presence of complainant
Uy. He could serve as a convenient conduit between the two, thus avoiding Lee at that Manila Hotel dinner is silly, if not childish and ridiculous.
the direct personal involvement of the taker in the payoff. According to respondent Judge, he already ‘had inkling’ on what was in Arty.
Simbulan’s mind when the latter ‘insisted in seeing him’ at the time he and
In this connection, Judge Abastillas cannot now question the admissibility of his wife were already on their way to the Manila Hotel for a ‘foursome’ dinner.
the taped conversation (Exh. 13) as evidence. He offered no objection to its That ‘inkling’ according to respondent Judge, are the two criminal cases
replay at the hearing before Justice Lagamon. where complainant Lee is one of the accused, but respondent Judge
nonetheless willingly allowed Atty. Simbulan to join them in the dinner,
We do not believe that Judge Abastillas’ meeting with Johnson Lee at the notwithstanding the fact that, in his own words, ‘prior to this, he (Atty.
Quezon City Sports Center was not pre-arranged. Neither do we accept his Simbulan) informed me that Lee and Moreno were clients of his partner, Atty.
explanation that Johnson Lee was a "gate crasher" at the judge’s party at Pineda’. Thus if indeed respondent Judge is so determined in not seeing
Manila Hotel. On this point, we find the discussion in complainants’ complainant Lee again and so resolute in avoiding at all costs complainant
memorandum in Adm. Case No. RTJ-92-863 dated December 3, 1993 Lee as what he wants to impress upon the Investigating Justice, then, he
convincing. We quote: could have easily set up an alibi to mislead Atty. Simbulan. Thus, there was
indeed a prior understanding on where and when to meet Lee again after
their meeting at the Judge’s convention.
"2. The circumstances as narrated by respondent Judge under which he first
met complainant Lee by way of his justification in meeting the said
Complainant, should he taken with a grain of salt, so to speak. Respondent Besides, why did not respondent call on his own cousin Mr. Sons to prove
Judge seems to heap the blame on his fellow Judges Ponferrada and de la that complainant Lee was really a ‘gatecrasher’ or request Atty. Simbulan to
Rosa, as being instrumental in paving the way for his meeting complainant substantiate his version that Lee was the most unwanted guest during that
Lee, but neither of these two judges was presented by him to substantiate his Manila Hotel dinner. Worse, respondent Judge did not offer an explanation
version. Worse, if respondent was able to secure the affidavit of Judge regarding Lee’s having his calling card (EXH.’C’), which witness Uy
Ponferrada (Annex ‘4’ of his sworn affidavit dated 27th October, 1993) to subsequently used in calling him up by telephone prior to their seeing each
support the fact that on May 3, 1991, he was in Roxas City, then, there is no other on October 7, 1991 at the residence of respondent Judge."
reason why he cannot at least secure a similar affidavit from Judge
Ponferrada to bolster the circumstances under which he met complainant The three (3) meetings by Judge Abastillas with interested parties who had a
Lee." stake in the outcome of Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 100~I and the
recorded telephone conversation where said cases were discussed
Hence, that respondent Judge and complainant Lee met under mutually manifested Judge Abastillas’ willingness, nay, propensity to ester into deals
conducive and cordial circumstances which subsequently led to the latters with motivations incongruous to the merits of the cases pending before him.
(sic) solicitation of bribe from witness Uy, is very probable. Judge Abastillas committed serious misconduct no less.

“3. Moreover, the pretension of the respondent Judge that after that meeting The Code of Judicial Conduct requires that a judge should be the
of May 29, 1991 with complainant Lee at the Judges’ convention, he ‘did not embodiment of competence, integrity and independence (Rule 1.01). He
give him the opportunity to see respondent again’ and that ‘he took all steps should administer justice impartially and without delay (Rule 1.02). He should
necessary so that he could not have to talk again to Lee’, is a pure lie, and so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and
thus cannot be believed, because when respondent Judge, without his impartiality of the judiciary (Rule 2.01).
slightest expectation, was confronted with a calling card (EXH.’D’) of his own
cousin Mr. Arturo Sena, given by said Mr. Sons to complainant Lee, in the It is peculiarly essential that the system for establishing and dispensing
presence of respondent Judge and his wife, at a dinner at the Manila Hotel justice be developed to a high degree of proficiency, to gain the absolute
confidence of the public in the integrity and impartiality of its administration, their personal use. The Court, therefore, has to issue an Order for the
because appearance is as important as reality, so much so that a judge, like delivery of the firearms for proper disposal. In fact, Atty. Chua is guilty of
Cesar’s wife, must not only be pure but beyond suspicion. The actuations of deliberately misquoting the Order of the Court changing the phrase ‘to this
Judge Abastillas transgressed against the high standard of moral ethics Court’ to ‘to him’, thereby creating an implication that the respondent
required of judges. entertained personal interest in the firearms.

We find, however, the rest of charges of the complainants in Adm. Case No. The records show that the public prosecutor also moved that the firearm in
RTJ-92-863 against Judge Abastillas without merit. We quote with approval question be delivered to the court and after an Order of Forfeiture be
the pertinent portions of Justice Lagamon’s report relative to said forwarded and deposited with the Firearms and Explosives Unit, PC
accusations: Headquarters, Bacolod City (Exh.’15’, p. 143, records).

‘The undersigned finds nothing irregular when the Court issued an Order of The charge that the respondent failed to decide Civil Case No. 2423 (Susana
Arrest when the accused Johnson Lee and Sonny Moreno failed to appear Lim v. Lim) within 90 days cannot be given much consideration taking into
during the scheduled arraignment on Sept. 26,1991. Atty. manifested that he account the Certification issued by the Clerk of Court of the branch to the
instructed his clients not to appear in Court because a day before the date effect that the case was partially tried by the respondent and that the
set for arraignment he allegedly filed a consolidated motion to quash which stenographer who took down the stenographic notes left for the United
he requested that the same be heard on Oct. 11, 1991. Both accused and States without transcribing the same. There is. therefore, a need for the
counsel were duly notified of the arraignment. They should have displayed retaking of the testimonies of the witnesses.
their respect for the Court by appearing personally and prayed for the
deferment of the arraignment. There was nothing that could have prevented The failure of the respondent to resolve the motion to disqualify private
the Court from orally denying the motion to quash and proceeding with the prosecutor dated April 20, 1991 as well as the motion for reinvestigation
arraignment. It appears that the motion which was filed only one day before dated July 3, 1991 which were resolved in open court only on February 5,
the scheduled date of hearing was intended to delay and derail the speedy 1992 is rather a minor violation in the face of the series of motions filed by
trial of the case, taking into account that the Sept. 16, 1991 date of Atty. Enrique S. Chua. Respondent lost track of what motions are due for
arraignment was originally agreed in open court in the presence of Atty. resolution until he was reminded on January 20, 1992 through a
Chua as early as August 5, 1991 and set for Sept. 3, 1991 but reset to Sept. supplemental motion filed by Arty. Chua, however, sixteen days thereafter
26. the pending motions were all resolved."

The undersigned finds nothing untoward in the proceedings of People v. Findings in Adm. Case No. 3815
Espinos (Crim. Cases 8846 and 8847) where the respondent ordered that
the firearms involved in the case be delivered to the custody of the Court for
Undoubtedly, Atty. Chua is guilty of violating Rule 1.01, canon 1, of the Code
proper disposition.
of Professional Responsibility in view of his admission that he allegedly
delivered P20,000.00 as bribe money to Judge Abastillas, thereby allowing
The complainants maintain that the respondent treated the cases in a himself to be used as a conduit for an illegal and immoral act. Rule 1.01
favored manner just because counsel for the accused Atty. Roger Z. Reyes provides that "A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
is close to him. Accordingly, a ‘full-blown trial type hearing’ was conducted in deceitful conduct."
a motion to quash and, eventually, the case was dismissed. Whereas, in the
cases of the complainants the accused were ordered arrested upon their
However, we take note that Atty. Chua during the investigation before Justice
failure to appear on Sept. 26, 1991 arraignment notwithstanding the Lagamon humbly expressed his genuine regrets for having acted the way he
pendency of a motion to quash. It is our observation that the two cases did. He said: "I considered that particular moment of my life as one of the
cannot be equated because in the first place the complainants failed or
human weaknesses." He felt sorry for "a lapse in my life." "I was not strong
refused to appear in court notwithstanding notice to them and counsel. In the
enough to resist," he added (TSN, Oct. 27, 1983, pp. 11-12).
Espinos case the accused consistently appeared in court. Moreover, the
Order of the Court directing the delivery of the firearms in the custody of the
police is properly and in order. We are fully aware of the evil practice of
irresponsible policemen who hold on to the possession of the firearms for
Atty. Chua declared that while he believed that his clients’ case was
meritorious, his clients prevailed upon him to offer bribe money as the
practical way to obtain justice.

Under the circumstances, and in addition to Atty. Chua’s profound


expression of remorse, we do not find it difficult to mitigate his liability when
we consider his willingness to come forward, at the risk of being
administratively penalized himself, to expose what we considered illegal and
immoral acts perpetrated by the very ones tasked with the sacred duty to
uphold the law and dispense justice.

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Renato E. Abastillas, Regional Trial Court,


Branch 50 Bacolod City, is hereby found GUILTY of serious misconduct in
Adm. Matter No. RTJ-92863 for having met with persons involved and/or
interested in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011 entitled "People v.
Johnson Lees and Sonny Moreno" of the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod
City, for the purpose of discussing or soliciting bribe in connection said cases
and is hereby DISMISSED from office, with forfeiture of all retirement
benefits and accrued leave credits and with prejudice to re-employment in
any branch or instrumentality of government, including government owned or
controlled corporations.

This Court holds Atty. Enrique S. Chua administratively liable in Adm. Case
No. 3815 for violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of professional Responsibility
for allegedly bribing Judge Abastillas.

Respondent Atty. Enrique S. Chua is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of


a similar act or acts or violation committed by him in the future will be dealt
with more severely.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines rescission cases, Rudex was represented by herein respondent Atty.
SUPREME COURT Nazareno.
Manila
Judgments of default were eventually rendered against Rudex in the first
EN BANC batch of rescission cases. Sometime in August 2003, Rudex filed three (3)
petitions for review before the HLURB assailing the same. In the
A.C. No. 6677, June 10, 2014 certifications against forum shopping attached to the said petitions, Rudex,
through its President Ruben P. Baes, and legal counsel Atty. Nazareno,
EUPROCINA I. CRISOSTOMO, MARILYN L. SOLIS, EVELYN MARQUIZO, stated that it has not commenced or has knowledge of any similar action or
ROSEMARIE BALATUCAN, MILDRED BATANG, MARILEN MINERALES,
proceeding involving the same issues pending before any court, tribunal or
AND MELINDA D. SIOTING, COMPLAINANTS, VS. ATTY. PHILIP Z. A.
NAZARENO, Respondent. agency – this, notwithstanding the fact that Rudex, under the representation
of Atty. Nazareno, previously filed an ejectment case on September 9, 2002
DECISION against Sioting and her husband, Rodrigo Sioting (Sps. Sioting), before the
Municipal Trial Court of Imus, Cavite (MTC).
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
On January 29, 2004, Rudex, again represented by Atty. Nazareno, filed
another complaint against Sps. Sioting before the HLURB for the rescission
For the Court’s resolution is an administrative complaint1 filed by
of their contract to sell and the latter’s ejectment, similar to its pending
complainants Euprocina I. Crisostomo (Crisostomo), Marilyn L. Solis (Solis),
September 9, 2002 ejectment complaint. Yet, in the certification against
Evelyn Marquizo (Marquizo), Rosemarie Balatucan (Balatucan), Mildred
forum shopping attached thereto executed by the Head of its Credit and
Batang (Batang), Marilen Minerales (Minerales), and Melinda D. Sioting
Collection department, Norilyn D. Unisan, Rudex declared that it has not
(Sioting) against respondent Atty. Philip Z. A. Nazareno (Atty. Nazareno),
commenced or is not aware of any action or proceeding involving the same
charging him with making false declarations in the certifications against
issues pending before any court, tribunal or agency. The said certification
forum shopping subject of this case in disregard of Section 5, Rule 7 of the
was notarized by Atty. Nazareno himself.
Rules of Court, and malpractice as a notary public in violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. On April 1, 2004, six (6) similar complaints for rescission of contracts to sell
and ejectment, plus damages for non-payment of amortizations due, were
The Facts
filed by Atty. Nazareno, on behalf of Rudex, against the other complainants
Sometime in 2001, complainants individually purchased housing units before the HLURB. The certifications against forum shopping attached
(subject properties) in Patricia South Villa Subdivision, Anabu-II, Imus, thereto likewise stated that Rudex has not commenced or has any
Cavite, from Rudex International Development Corp. (Rudex). In view of knowledge of any similar pending action before any court, tribunal or agency.
several inadequacies and construction defects in the housing units and the
On February 21, 2005, complainants jointly filed the present administrative
subdivision itself, complainants sought the rescission of their respective
complaint for disbarment against Atty. Nazareno, claiming that in the
contracts to sell before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board
certifications against forum shopping attached to the complaints for
(HLURB), seeking the refund of the monthly amortizations they had paid. The
rescission and ejectment of Rudex filed while Atty. Nazareno was its counsel,
first batch of rescission cases was filed by herein complainants Sioting on
the latter made false declarations therein that no similar actions or
May 24, 2002, and Crisostomo and Marquizo on June 10, 2002, while the
proceedings have been commenced by Rudex or remained pending before
second batch of rescission cases was filed by complainants Balatucan on
any other court, tribunal or agency when, in fact, similar actions or
March 3, 2003, Solis and Ederlinda M. Villanueva (represented by Minerales)
proceedings for rescission had been filed by herein complainants before the
on May 12, 2003, and Batang on July 29, 2003. In all the foregoing
HLURB against Rudex and Atty. Nazareno, and an ejectment complaint was
filed by Rudex, represented by Atty. Nazareno, against Sps. Sioting. In In a Resolution dated April 15, 2013, the IBP Board of Governors adopted
addition, complainants asserted that Atty. Nazareno committed malpractice and approved the Investigating Commissioner’s Report and
as a notary public since he only assigned one (1) document number (i.e., Recommendation, but modified the recommended penalty from a suspension
Doc. No. 1968) in all the certifications against forum shopping that were of six (6) months to only one (1) month.
separately attached to the six (6) April 1, 2004 complaints for rescission and
ejectment. The Issue Before the Court

Despite notice, Atty. Nazareno failed to file his comment and refute the The essential issue in this case is whether or not Atty. Nazareno should be
administrative charges against him. held administratively liable and accordingly suspended for a period of one (1)
month.
In the interim, the HLURB, in the Resolutions dated April 14, 2005 and May
12, 2005, dismissed Rudex’s complaints for rescission and ejectment on the The Court’s Ruling
ground that its statements in the certifications against forum shopping
The Court affirms the IBP’s findings with modification as to the penalty
attached thereto were false due to the existence of similar pending cases in
imposed.
violation of Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court.
Separate from the proscription against forum shopping is the violation of the
certification requirement against forum shopping, which was distinguished in
the case of Sps. Ong v. CA as follows:

The IBP’s Report and Recommendation The distinction between the prohibition against forum shopping and the
certification requirement should by now be too elementary to be
In a Report and Recommendation dated March 8, 2012, Integrated Bar of the misunderstood. To reiterate, compliance with the certification against forum
Philippines (IBP) Investigating Commissioner Oliver A. Cachapero shopping is separate from and independent of the avoidance of the act of
recommended the suspension of Atty. Nazareno for a period of six (6) forum shopping itself. There is a difference in the treatment between failure
months for his administrative violations. to comply with the certification requirement and violation of the prohibition
against forum shopping not only in terms of imposable sanctions but also in
The Investigating Commissioner found, among others, that there were the manner of enforcing them. The former constitutes sufficient cause for the
unassailable proofs that the certification against forum shopping attached to dismissal without prejudice to the filing of the complaint or initiatory pleading
Rudex’s ejectment complaint against Sps. Sioting had been erroneously upon motion and after hearing, while the latter is a ground for summary
declared, considering that at the time Rudex filed the said complaint in dismissal thereof and for direct contempt. x x x.
September 2002, Sps. Sioting’s rescission complaint against Rudex, filed on
May 24, 2002, was already pending. Hence, it was incumbent upon Rudex to Under Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, the submission of false entries
have declared its existence, more so, since both complaints involve the same in a certification against forum shopping constitutes indirect or direct
transaction and essential facts, and a decision on the rescission complaint contempt of court, and subjects the erring counsel to the corresponding
would amount to res judicata on the ejectment complaint. In this relation, the administrative and criminal actions, viz.:
Investigating Commissioner observed that Atty. Nazareno cannot claim
innocence of his omission since he was not only Rudex’s counsel but the Section 5. Certification against forum shopping. — The plaintiff or principal
notarizing officer as well. Having knowingly made false entries in the subject party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading
certifications against forum shopping, the Investigating Commissioner asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and
recommended that Atty. Nazareno be held administratively liable and thereby simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not theretofore commenced
penalized with six (6) months suspension. any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal
or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other Records show that Atty. Nazareno, acting as Rudex’s counsel, filed, in
action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or August 2003, petitions for review assailing the judgments of default rendered
claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he in the first batch of rescission cases without disclosing in the certifications
should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed against forum shopping the existence of the ejectment case it filed against
or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the Sps. Sioting which involves an issue related to the complainants’ rescission
court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed. cases. Further, on January 29, 2004, Rudex, represented by Atty. Nazareno,
filed a complaint for rescission and ejectment against Sps. Sioting without
Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by disclosing in the certifications against forum shopping the existence of
mere amendment of the complaint or other initiatory pleading but shall be Sioting’s May 24, 2002 rescission complaint against Rudex as well as
cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless otherwise Rudex’s own September 9, 2002 ejectment complaint also against Sps.
provided, upon motion and after hearing. The submission of a false Sioting. Finally, on April 1, 2004, Atty. Nazareno, once more filed rescission
certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall and ejectment complaints against the other complainants in this case without
constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to the corresponding disclosing in the certifications against forum shopping the existence of
administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his counsel complainants’ own complaints for rescission.
clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be
ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct Owing to the evident similarity of the issues involved in each set of cases,
contempt, as well as a cause for administrative sanctions. (Emphases Atty. Nazareno – as mandated by the Rules of Court and more pertinently,
supplied) the canons of the Code – should have truthfully declared the existence of the
pending related cases in the certifications against forum shopping attached
In the realm of legal ethics, said infraction may be considered as a violation to the pertinent pleadings. Considering that Atty. Nazareno did not even
of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 and Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional bother to refute the charges against him despite due notice, the Court finds
Responsibility (Code) which read as follows: no cogent reason to deviate from the IBP’s resolution on his administrative
liability. However, as for the penalty to be imposed, the Court deems it proper
CANON 1 – A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY
to modify the IBP’s finding on this score.
THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND
LEGAL PROCESSES. In Molina v. Atty. Magat, a penalty of six (6) months suspension from the
practice of law was imposed against the lawyer therein who was shown to
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
have deliberately made false and untruthful statements in one of his
deceitful conduct.
pleadings. Given that Atty. Nazareno’s infractions are of a similar nature, but
xxxx recognizing further that he, as may be gleaned from the foregoing
discussion, had repetitively committed the same, the Court hereby suspends
CANON 10 – A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH him from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year.
TO THE COURT.
Separately, the Court further finds Atty. Nazareno guilty of malpractice as a
Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of notary public, considering that he assigned only one document number (i.e.,
any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any Doc. No. 1968) to the certifications against forum shopping attached to the
artifice. six (6) April 1, 2004 complaints for rescission and ejectment despite the fact
that each of them should have been treated as a separate notarial act. It is a
In this case, it has been established that Atty. Nazareno made false standing rule that for every notarial act, the notary shall record in the notarial
declarations in the certifications against forum shopping attached to Rudex’s register at the time of the notarization, among others, the entry and page
pleadings, for which he should be held administratively liable. number of the document notarized, and that he shall give to each instrument
or document executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him a number agencies and the public at large must be able to rely upon the
corresponding to the one in his register. Evidently, Atty. Nazareno did not acknowledgment executed by a notary public and appended to a private
comply with the foregoing rule. instrument.

Worse, Atty. Nazareno notarized the certifications against forum shopping xxxx
attached to all the aforementioned complaints, fully aware that they
identically asserted a material falsehood, i.e., that Rudex had not When a notary public certifies to the due execution and delivery of the
commenced any actions or proceedings or was not aware of any pending document under his hand and seal he gives the document the force of
actions or proceedings involving the same issues in any other forum. The evidence. Indeed, one of the purposes of requiring documents to be
administrative liability of an erring notary public in this respect was clearly acknowledged before a notary public, in addition to the solemnity which
delineated as a violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code in the case of should surround the execution and delivery of documents, is to authorize
Heirs of the Late Spouses Villanueva v. Atty. Beradio, to wit: such documents to be given without further proof of their execution and
delivery. Where the notary public is a lawyer, a graver responsibility is placed
Where admittedly the notary public has personal knowledge of a false upon him by reason of his solemn oath to obey the laws and to do no
statement or information contained in the instrument to be notarized, yet falsehood or consent to the doing of any. Failing in this, he must accept the
proceeds to affix his or her notarial seal on it, the Court must not hesitate to consequences of his unwarranted actions.
discipline the notary public accordingly as the circumstances of the case may
dictate. Otherwise, the integrity and sanctity of the notarization process may WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Philip Z. A. Nazareno is found GUILTY of
be undermined and public confidence on notarial documents diminished. In making false declarations in the certifications against forum shopping subject
this case, respondent’s conduct amounted to a breach of Canon 1 of the of this case, as well as malpractice as a notary public. Accordingly, he is
Code of Professional Responsibility, which requires lawyers to obey the laws SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year, effective
of the land and promote respect for the law and legal processes. Respondent upon his receipt of this Decision, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition
also violated Rule 1.01 of the Code which proscribes lawyers from engaging of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Further, he is
in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct. (Emphasis supplied) PERMANENTLY DISQUALIFIED from being commissioned as a notary
public and, his notarial commission, if currently existing, is hereby
In said case, the lawyer who knowingly notarized a document containing REVOKED.
false statements had his notarial commission revoked and was disqualified
from being commissioned as such for a period of one (1) year. Thus, for his Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be
malpractice as a notary public, the Court is wont to additionally impose the appended to respondent’s personal record as attorney. Likewise, copies shall
same penalties of such nature against him. However, due to the multiplicity be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the
of his infractions on this front, coupled with his willful malfeasance in country for their information and guidance.
discharging the office, the Court deems it proper to revoke his existing
SO ORDERED.
commission and permanently disqualify him from being commissioned as a
notary public. Indeed, respondent ought to be reminded that:

Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is invested with


substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified or
authorized may act as notaries public. Notarization converts a private
document into a public document thus making that document admissible in
evidence without further proof of its authenticity. A notarial document is by
law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. Courts, administrative
Republic of the Philippines Chairman would be taken up. He has never accepted any appointment as
SUPREME COURT Chairman and President of LCI.
Manila
Atty. Limpin admits that she filed the GIS with the SEC listing Guarin as a
THIRD DIVISION stockholder, the Chairman of the BOD and President of LCI. She argued
that the GIS was provisional to comply with SEC requirements. It would have
A.C. No. 10576, January 14, 2015 been corrected in the future but unfortunately LCI filed for voluntary
dissolution shortly thereafter. She averred that the GIS was made and
ARCATOMY S. GUARIN, Complainant, vs. ATTY. CHRISTINE A.C. submitted in good faith and that her certification served to attest to the
LIMPIN, Respondent. information from the last BOD meeting held on March 3, 2008.

RESOLUTION She asserted that Guarin knew that he was a stockholder. Atty. Limpin said
that on October 13, 2008, she sent Guarin a text message and asked him to
meet with her so he may sign a Deed of Assignment concerning
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: shareholdings. Guarin responded in the affirmative and said that he would
meet with her on Friday, October 17, 2008. Guarin, however, neglected to
Before us is a complaint for disbarment filed by Arcatomy S. Guarin against show up at the arranged time and place for reasons unknown to Atty. Limpin.
Atty. Christine Antenor-Cruz Limpin for allegedly filing a false General On the strength of Guarin’s positive reply, Atty. Limpin filed the GIS on
Information Sheet (GIS) with the Securities and Exchange Commission November 27, 2008.
(SEC) thus violating Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility (CPR). To belie the claim that LCI never held any board meeting, Atty. Limpin
presented Secretary’s Certificates dated May 16, 2006, May 22, 2006, and
The facts are culled from the pleadings. June 13, 2007 bearing Guarin’s signature.

In 2004, Guarin was hired by Mr. Celso G. de los Angeles as Chief Operating Moreover, Atty. Limpin stated that there were pending criminal complaints
Officer and thereafter as President of OneCard Company, Inc., a member of against the directors and officers of LCI, where she and Guarin are co-
the Legacy Group of Companies. He resigned from his post effective August respondents: Senator Roxas, et al. v. Celso de los Angeles, et al. and SEC v.
11, 2008 and transferred to St. Luke’s Medical Center as the Vice President Legacy Card, Inc. In those proceedings, Guarin raised as a defense that the
for Finance. November 27, 2008 GIS was spurious and/or perjured. She averred that this
Court held that “when the criminal prosecution based on the same act
On November 27, 2008, Atty. Limpin, the Corporate Secretary of Legacy charged is still pending in court, any administrative disciplinary proceedings
Card, Inc. (LCI), another corporation under the Legacy Group, filed with the for the same act must await the outcome of the criminal case to avoid
SEC a GIS for LCI for “updating purposes”. The GIS identified Guarin as contradictory findings.” During the mandatory preliminary conference,
Chairman of the Board of Directors (BOD) and President. however, both parties stipulated that the complaint filed by Senator Roxas
was dismissed as to Guarin.
Mired with allegations of anomalous business transactions and practices, on
December 18, 2008, LCI applied for voluntary dissolution with the SEC. Lastly, Atty. Limpin contends that Guarin failed to present sufficient evidence
to warrant disbarment. She stated that merely presenting the GIS does not
On July 22, 2009, Guarin filed this complaint with the Integrated Bar of the constitute as proof of any unethical conduct, harassment and malpractice.
Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP CBD) claiming that Atty.
Limpin violated Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the CPR by knowingly listing him In its Report, the IBP CBD found that Atty. Limpin violated Canon 1, Rules
as a stockholder, Chairman of the Board and President of LCI when she 1.01 and 1.02 of the CPR and thus recommended that she be suspended
knew that he had already resigned and had never held any share nor was he from the practice of law for three months. It noted that based on the
elected as chairperson of the BOD or been President of LCI. He also never submissions of the parties, Guarin was never a stockholder of LCI
received any notice of meeting or agenda where his appointment as consequently making him ineligible to be a member of the BOD. Neither was
there proof that Guarin acted as the President of LCI but was a mere therein. That Atty. Limpin believed that Guarin would sign a Deed of
signatory of LCI’s bank accounts. This made the verified statement of Atty. Assignment is inconsequential: he never signed the instrument. We also
Limpin untrue. note that there was no submission which would support the allegation that
Guarin was in fact a stockholder. We thus find that in filing a GIS that
Moreover, it was noted that only Mr. Celso de los Angeles had the authority contained false information, Atty. Limpin committed an infraction which did
to appoint or designate directors or officers of Legacy. Atty. Limpin was not conform to her oath as a lawyer in accord with Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of
aware that this procedure was not legally permissible. Despite knowing this the CPR.
to be irregular, she allowed herself to be dictated upon and falsely certified
that Guarin was a stockholder, chairman and president of the company. The We also agree with the IBP that in allowing herself to be swayed by the
Secretary’s Certificates with Guarin’s signature Atty. Limpin presented were business practice of having Mr. de los Angeles appoint the members of the
of no moment since in these Guarin merely acceded to become a signatory BOD and officers of the corporation despite the rules enunciated in the
of bank accounts and these do not show that Guarin was a stockholder. Corporation Code with respect to the election of such officers, Atty. Limpin
has transgressed Rule 1.02 of the CPR.
The IBP Board of Governors in its April 15, 2013 Resolution adopted in toto
the CBD Report. Atty. Limpin moved for reconsideration but was denied in However, considering the seriousness of Atty. Limpin’s action in submitting a
the March 21, 2014 Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors. false document we see it fit to increase the recommended penalty to six
months suspension from the practice of law.
We adopt the report and recommendation of the IBP. Atty. Limpin has
violated Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Rule 1.02 of the CPR. WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin GUILTY of
violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional
Members of the bar are reminded that their first duty is to comply with the Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Christine A.C.
rules of procedure, rather than seek exceptions as loopholes. A lawyer who Limpin from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS effective upon finality of
assists a client in a dishonest scheme or who connives in violating the law this Decision, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the
commits an act which justifies disciplinary action against the lawyer. future will be dealt with more severely.

Disbarment proceedings are sui generis and can proceed independently of Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be
civil and criminal cases. As Justice Malcolm stated “[t]he serious appended to respondent’s personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar
consequences of disbarment or suspension should follow only where there is of the Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for
a clear preponderance of evidence against the respondent. The presumption their information and guidance.
is that the attorney is innocent of the charges pr[o]ferred and has performed
his duty as an officer of the court in accordance with his oath.” SO ORDERED.

Grounds for such administrative action against a lawyer may be found in


Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Among these are (1) the use of
any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office and (2) any
violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to
practice.

After going through the submissions and stipulations of the parties, we agree
with the IBP that there is no indication that Guarin held any share to the
corporation and that he is therefore ineligible to hold a seat in the BOD and
be the president of the company. It is undisputed that Atty. Limpin filed and
certified that Guarin was a stockholder of LCI in the GIS. While she posits
that she had made the same in good faith, her certification also contained a
stipulation that she made a due verification of the statements contained
Republic of the Philippines In his Comment, Sesbreño alleged that on 15 August 2008, Garcia filed a
SUPREME COURT similar complaint against him before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
Manila Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), docketed as CBC Case No. 08-
2273. Sesbreño alleged that Garcia’s complaint was motivated by
EN BANC resentment and desire for revenge because he acted as pro bono counsel for
Maria Margarita and Angie Ruth.
A.C. No. 7973 and A.C. No. 10457, February 3, 2015
In the Court’s Resolution dated 18 January 2010, the Court referred A.C. No.
MELVYN G. GARCIA, Complainant, vs. ATTY. RAUL H. 7973 to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation.
SESBRENO, Respondent.
A.C. No. 10457 (CBC Case No. 08-2273)
DECISION
A day prior to the filing of A.C. No. 7973, or on 29 July 2008, Garcia filed a
PER CURIAM: complaint for disbarment against Sesbreño before the IBP-CBD. He alleged
that Sesbreño is practicing law despite his previous conviction for homicide in
Criminal Case No. CBU-31733, and despite the facts that he is only on
Two complaints for disbarment were filed by Dr. Melvyn G. Garcia (Garcia) parole and that he has not fully served his sentence. Garcia alleged that
against Atty. Raul H. Sesbrefio (Sesbrefio). The two cases, docketed as A.C. Sesbreño violated Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court by continuing
No. 7973 and A.C. No. 10457, were consolidated in the Court's Resolution to engage in the practice of law despite his conviction of a crime involving
dated 30 September 2014. moral turpitude. Upon the directive of the IBP-CBD, Garcia submitted his
verified complaint against Sesbreño alleging basically the same facts he
A.C. No. 7973 alleged in A.C. No. 7973.

On 30 July 2008, Garcia filed a complaint for disbarment against Sesbreño In his answer to the complaint, Sesbreño alleged that his sentence was
before the Office of the Bar Confidant. The case was docketed as A.C. No. commuted and the phrase "with the inherent accessory penalties provided by
7973. Garcia alleged that in 1965, he married Virginia Alcantara in Cebu. law" was deleted. Sesbreño argued that even if the accessory penalty was
They had two children, Maria Margarita and Angie Ruth. In 1971, he and not deleted, the disqualification applies only during the term of the sentence.
Virginia separated. He became a dentist and practiced his profession in Sesbreño further alleged that homicide does not involve moral turpitude.
Cabanatuan City. Garcia alleged that in1992, Virginia filed a petition for the Sesbreño claimed that Garcia’s complaint was motivated by extreme malice,
annulment of their marriage, which was eventually granted. bad faith, and desire to retaliate against him for representing Garcia’s
daughters in court.
Garcia alleged that in 2005 while he was in Japan, Sesbreño, representing
Maria Margarita and Angie Ruth, filed an action for support against him and The IBP-CBD consolidated A.C. No. 7973 with CBD Case No. 08-2273. The
his sister Milagros Garcia Soliman. At the time of the filing of the case, Maria parties agreed on the sole issue to be resolved: whether moral turpitude is
Margarita was already 39 years old while Angie Ruth was 35 years old. The involved in a conviction for homicide. The IBP-CBD ruled that the Regional
case was dismissed. In 2007, Garcia returned from Japan. When Sesbreño Trial Court of Cebu found Sesbreño guilty of murder and sentenced him to
and Garcia’s children learned abouthis return, Sesbreño filed a Second suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. On appeal, this Court downgraded
Amended Complaint against him. Garcia alleged that he learned that the crime to homicide and sentenced Sesbreño to suffer the penalty of
Sesbreño was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 18, imprisonment for 9 years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 16 years
for Homicide in Criminal Case No. CBU-31733. Garcia alleged that Sesbreño and 4 months of reclusion temporalas maximum. The IBP-CBD found that
is only on parole. Garcia alleged that homicide is a crime against moral Sesbreño was released from confinement on 27 July 2001 following his
turpitude; and thus, Sesbreño should not be allowed to continue his practice acceptance of the conditions of his parole on 10 July 2001.
of law.
The IBP-CBD ruled that conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude is a
ground for disbarment or suspension. Citing International Rice Research
Institute v. National Labor Relations Commission, the IBPCBD further ruled On 11 February 2014, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No.
that homicide may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the XX-2014-31 denying Sesbreño’s motion for reconsideration. The IBPCBD
degree of the crime. The IBP-CBD reviewed the decision of this Court transmitted the records of the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant on 20
convicting Sesbreño for the crime of homicide, and found that the May 2014. CBD Case No. 08-2273 was redocketed as A.C. No. 10457. In
circumstances leading to the death of the victim involved moral turpitude. the Court’s Resolution dated 30 September 2014, the Court consolidated
The IBP-CBD stated: A.C. No. 7973 and A.C. No. 10457.

Neither victim Luciano Amparadon or his companion Christopher The only issue in these cases is whether conviction for the crime of homicide
Yapchangco was shown to be a foe of respondent and neither had the victim involves moral turpitude.
Luciano nor his companion Christopher shown to have wronged the
respondent. They simply happened to be at the wrong place and time the We adopt the findings and recommendation of the IBP-CBD and approve
early morning of June 3, 1993. Resolution No. XX-2013-19 dated 12 February 2013 and Resolution No. XX-
2014-31 dated 11 February 2014 of the IBP Board of Governors.
The circumstances leading to the death of Luciano solely caused by
respondent, bear the earmarks of moral turpitude. Paraphrasing what the Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states that a member of the bar
Supreme Court observed in Soriano v. Dizon, supra, the respondent, by his may be disbarred or suspended as attorney by this Court by reason of his
conduct, displayed extreme arrogance and feeling of self-importance. conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. This Court has ruled that
Respondent acted like a god who deserved not to be slighted by a couple of disbarment is the appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment for a
drunks who may have shattered the stillness of the early morning with their crime involving moral turpitude. Moral turpitude is an act of baseness,
boisterous antics, natural display of loud bravado of drunken men who had vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes to his fellow
one too many. Respondent’s inordinate over reaction to the ramblings of men or to society in general, contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good
drunken men who were not even directed at respondent reflected poorly on morals.
his fitness to be a member of the legal profession. Respondent was not only
vindictive without a cause; he was cruel with a misplaced sense of The question of whether conviction for homicide involves moral turpitude was
superiority.
discussed by this Court in International Rice Research Institute v.
NLRC where it ruled:
Following the ruling of this Court in Soriano v. Atty. Dizon where the
respondent was disbarred for having been convicted of frustrated homicide, This is not to say that all convictions of the crime of homicide do not involve
the IBP-CBD recommended that Sesbreño be disbarred and his name moral turpitude. Homicide may or may not involve moral turpitude depending
stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.
on the degree of the crime. Moral turpitude is not involved in every criminal
act and is not shown by every known and intentional violation of statute, but
In its Resolution No. XX-2013-19 dated 12 February 2013, the IBP Board of whether any particular conviction involves moral turpitude may be a question
Governors adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of the of fact and frequently depends on all the surrounding circumstances. While x
IBP-CBD. x x generally but not always, crimes mala in seinvolve moral turpitude, while
crimes mala prohibitado not, it cannot always be ascertained whether moral
On 6 May 2013, Sesbreño filed a motion for reconsideration before the IBP- turpitude does or does not exist by classifying a crime as malum in se or as
CBD. Sesbreño alleged that the IBP-CBD misunderstood and misapplied malum prohibitum, since there are crimes which are mala in se and yet rarely
Soriano v. Atty. Dizon. He alleged that the attendant circumstances in involve moral turpitude and there are crimes which involve moral turpitude
Sorianoare disparate, distinct, and different from his case. He further alleged and are mala prohibita only. It follows therefore, that moral turpitude is
that there was no condition set on the grant of executive clemency to him; somewhat a vague and indefinite term, the meaning of which must be left to
and thus, he was restored to his full civil and political rights. Finally, the process of judicial inclusion or exclusion as the cases are reached.
Sesbreño alleged that after his wife died in an ambush, he already stopped
appearing as private prosecutor in the case for bigamy against Garcia and In People v. Sesbreño, the Court found Sesbreño guilty of homicide and
that he already advised his clients to settle their other cases. He alleged that ruled: WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Garcia already withdrew the complaints against him. Cebu City, Branch 18, in Criminal Case No. CBU-31733 is hereby
MODIFIED. Appellant Raul H. Sesbreñois hereby found GUILTY of term of from 7 years and 6 months to 10 years imprisonment and to pay an
HOMICIDE and hereby sentenced to suffer a prison term of 9 years and 1 indemnity of ₱50,000.00.
day of prision mayor, as a minimum, to 16 years and 4 months of reclusion
temporal, as a maximum, with accessory penalties provided by law, to Again, there was no mention that the executive clemency was absolute and
indemnify the heirs of the deceased Luciano Amparado in the amount of unconditional and restored Sesbreño to his full civil and political rights.
₱50,000.00 and to pay the costs.
There are four acts of executive clemency that the President can extend: the
SO ORDERED. President can grant reprieves, commutations, pardons, and remit fines and
forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment. In this case, the executive
We reviewed the Decision of this Court and we agree with the IBPCBD that clemency merely "commuted to an indeterminate prison term of 7 years and
the circumstances show the presence of moral turpitude. 6 months to 10 years imprisonment" the penalty imposed on Sesbrefio.
Commutation is a mere reduction of penalty. Commutation only partially
The Decision showed that the victim Luciano Amparado (Amparado) and his extinguished criminal liability. The penalty for Sesbrefio' s crime was never
companion Christopher Yapchangco (Yapchangco) were walking and just wiped out. He served the commuted or reduced penalty, for which reason he
passed by Sesbreño’s house when the latter, without any provocation from was released from prison. More importantly, the Final Release and
the former, went out of his house, aimed his rifle, and started firing at them. Discharge stated that "[i]t is understood that such x x x accessory penalties
According to Yapchangco, theywere about five meters, more or less, from of the law as have not been expressly remitted herein shall subsist." Hence,
the gate of Sesbreño when they heard the screeching sound of the gate and the Parcasio case has no application here. Even if Sesbrefio has been
when they turned around, they saw Sesbreño aiming his rifle at them. granted pardon, there is nothing in the records that shows that it was a full
Yapchangco and Amparado ran away but Amparado was hit. An eyewitness, and unconditional pardon. In addition, the practice of law is not a right but a
Rizaldy Rabanes (Rabanes), recalled that he heard shots and opened the privilege. It is granted only to those possessing good moral character. A
window of his house. He saw Yapchangco and Amparado running away violation of the high moral standards of the legal profession justifies the
while Sesbreño was firing his firearm rapidly, hitting Rabanes’ house in the imposition of the appropriate penalty against a lawyer, including the penalty
process. Another witness, Edwin Parune, saw Amparado fall down after of disbarment.
being shot, then saw Sesbreño in the middle of the street, carrying a long
firearm, and walking back towards the gate of his house. The IBP-CBD WHEREFORE, respondent Raul H. Sesbrefio is DISBARRED effective
correctly stated that Amparado and Yapchangco were just at the wrong place immediately upon his receipt of this Decision.
and time. They did not do anything that justified the indiscriminate firing done
by Sesbreño that eventually led to the death of Amparado. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters, and the
We cannot accept Sesbreño’s argument that the executive clemency Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts all over the
restored his full civil and political rights. Sesbreño cited In re Atty. Parcasio to country. Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the personal records of
bolster his argument. In thatcase, Atty. Parcasio was granted "an absolute respondent.
and unconditional pardon"11 which restored his "full civil and political
rights,"12 a circumstance not present inthese cases. Here, the Order of SO ORDERED.
Commutation13 did not state that the pardon was absolute and unconditional.
The accessory penalties were not mentioned when the original sentence was
recited in the Order of Commutation and they were also not mentioned in
stating the commuted sentence. It only states: By virtue of the authority
conferred upon me by the Constitution and upon the recommendation of the
Board of Pardons and Parole, the original sentence of prisoner RAUL
SESBREÑO Y HERDA convicted by the Regional Trial Court, Cebu City and
Supreme Court and sentenced to an indeterminate prison term of from 9
years and 1 day to 16 years and 4 months imprisonment and to pay an
indemnity of ₱50,000.00 is/are hereby commuted to an indeterminate prison
Republic of the Philippines Respondent failed to exercise his right of repurchase within the period
SUPREME COURT provided in the deed, and no renewal of the contract was made even after
Manila complainant sent respondent a final demand dated May 10, 1984 for the
latter to repurchase the property. Complainant remained in peaceful
EN BANC possession of the property until December 1989 when he received letters
from the Rural Bank of Albuera (Leyte), Inc. (RBAI) informing him that the
A.C. No. 4697, November 25, 2014 property was mortgaged by respondent to RBAI, that the bank had
subsequently foreclosed on the property, and that complainant should
therefore vacate the property.
FLORENCIO A. SALADAGA, Complainant, vs. ATTY. ARTURO B.
ASTORGA, Respondent.
Complainant was alarmed and made aninvestigation. He learned the
following:
x-----------------------x
1. TCT No. T-662 was already cancelled by TCT No. T-3211 in the
A.C. No. 4728 name of Philippine National Bank (PNB) as early as November 17,
1972 after foreclosure proceedings;
FLORENCIO A. SALADAGA, Complainant, vs. 2. TCT No. T-3211 was cancelled by TCT No. T-7235 in the names of
ATTY. ARTURO B. ASTORGA, Respondent. respondent and his wife on January 4, 1982 pursuant to a deed of
sale dated March 27,1979 between PNB and respondent;
DECISION 3. Respondent mortgaged the subject property to RBAI on March 14,
1984, RBAI foreclosed on the property, and subsequently obtained
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: TCT No. TP-10635 on March 27, 1991. Complainant was
subsequently dispossessed of the property by RBAI.
Membership in the legal profession is a high personal privilege burdened with
conditions, including continuing fidelity to the law and constant possession of Aggrieved, complainant instituted a criminal complaint for estafa against
moral fitness. Lawyers, as guardians of the law, play a vital role in the respondent with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Leyte, docketed as
preservation of society, and a consequent obligation of lawyers is to maintain I.S. No. 95-144. The Provincial Prosecutor of Leyte approved the Resolution
the highest standards of ethical conduct. Failure to live by the standards of dated April 21, 1995 in I.S. No. 95-144 finding that "[t]he facts of [the] case
the legal profession and to discharge the burden of the privilege conferred on are sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that Estafa x x x has been
one as a member of the bar warrant the suspension or revocation of that committed and that respondent herein is probably guilty thereof."
privilege. Accordingly, an Information dated January 8,1996 was filed before the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Baybay, Leyte, formally charging respondent
with the crime of estafa under Article 316, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Revised
The Factual Antecedents
Penal Code, committed as follows:

Complainant Florencio A. Saladaga and respondent Atty. Arturo B. Astorga


On March 14, 1984, accused representing himself as the owner of a parcel of
entered into a "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" on December 2,
land known as Lot No. 7661 of the Baybay Cadastre, mortgaged the same to
1981 where respondent sold (with rightof repurchase) to complainant a
the Rural Bank of Albuera, Albuera, Leyte, within the jurisdiction of this
parcel of coconut land located at Barangay Bunga, Baybay, Leyte covered by
Honorable Court, knowing fully well that the possessor and owner at that
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-662 for ₱15,000.00. Under the said
time was private complainant Florencio Saladaga by virtue of a Pacto de
deed, respondent represented that he has "the perfect right to dispose as
Retro Sale which accused executed in favor of private complainant on 2nd
owner in fee simple" the subject property and that the said property is "free
December, 1981, without first redeeming/repurchasing the same. [P]rivate
from all liens and encumbrances." The deed also provided that respondent,
complainant knowing of accused[’s] unlawful act only on or about the last
as vendor a retro, had two years within which to repurchase the property,
week of February, 1991 when the rural bank dispossessed him of the
and if not repurchased within the said period, "the parties shall renew [the]
property, the mortgage having been foreclosed, private complainant thereby
instrument/agreement."
suffered damages and was prejudiced by accused[’s] unlawful transaction Considering respondent’s "commission of unlawful acts, especially crimes
and misrepresentation. involving moral turpitude, actsof dishonesty, grossly immoral conduct and
deceit," the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Investigating
The aforementioned estafa case against respondent was docketed as Commissioner’s Report and Recommendation with modification as follows:
Criminal Case No. 3112-A. respondent is(1) suspended from the practice of law for two years, with
warning that a similar misdeed in the future shall be dealt with more severity,
and (2) ordered to return the sum of ₱15,000.00 received in consideration of
Complainant likewise instituted the instant administrative cases against
respondent by filing before this Court an Affidavit-Complaint dated January the pacto de retrosale, with legal interest.
28, 1997 and Supplemental Complaint dated February 27, 1997, which were
docketed as A.C. No. 4697 and A.C. No. 4728, respectively. In both The Court’s Ruling
complaints, complainant sought the disbarment of respondent.
The Court agrees with the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors to
The administrative cases were referred to the Integrated Bar of the suspend respondent from the practice of law for two years, but it refrains
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. from ordering respondent to return the ₱15,000.00 consideration, plus
interest.
In his Consolidated Answer dated August 16, 2003 filed before the IBP,
respondent denied that his agreement with complainant was a pacto de Respondent does not deny executing the "Deed of Sale with Right to
retrosale. He claimed that it was an equitable mortgage and that, if only Repurchase" dated December 2, 1981 in favor of complainant. However,
complainant rendered an accounting of his benefits from the produce of the respondent insists that the deed is not one of sale with pacto de retro, but
land, the total amount would have exceeded ₱15,000.00. one of equitable mortgage. Thus, respondent argues that he still had the
legal right to mortgage the subject property to other persons. Respondent
additionally asserts that complainant should render an accounting of the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner and
Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors. produce the latter had collected from the said property, which would already
exceed the ₱15,000.00 consideration stated in the deed.
In a Report and Recommendation dated April 29, 2005, the Investigating
There is no merit in respondent’s defense.
Commissioner of the IBP’s Commission on Bar Discipline found that
respondent was in bad faith when he dealt with complainant and executed
the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" but later on claimed that the Regardless of whether the written contract between respondent and
agreement was one of equitable mortgage. Respondent was also guilty of complainant is actually one of sale with pacto de retroor of equitable
deceit or fraud when he represented in the "Deed of Sale with Right to mortgage, respondent’s actuations in his transaction with complainant, as
Repurchase" dated December 2, 1981 that the property was covered by TCT well as in the present administrative cases, clearly show a disregard for the
No. T-662, even giving complainant the owner’s copy of the said certificate of highest standards of legal proficiency, morality, honesty, integrity, and fair
title, when the said TCT had already been cancelled on November 17, 1972 dealing required from lawyers, for which respondent should be held
by TCT No. T-3211 in the name of Philippine National Bank (PNB). administratively liable.
Respondent made matters even worse, when he had TCT No. T-3211
cancelled with the issuance of TCT No. T-7235 under his and his wife’s When respondent was admitted to the legal profession, he took an oath
name on January 4,1982 without informing complainant. This was where he undertook to "obey the laws," "do no falsehood," and "conduct
compounded by respondent’s subsequent mortgage of the property to RBAI, [him]self as a lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion."
which led to the acquisition of the property by RBAI and the dispossession He gravely violated his oath.
thereof of complainant. Thus, the Investigating Commissioner recommended
that respondent be (1) suspended from the practice of law for one year, with The Investigating Commissioner correctly found, and the IBP Board of
warning that a similar misdeed in the future shall be dealt with more severity, Governors rightly agreed, that respondent caused the ambiguity or
and (2) ordered to return the sum of ₱15,000.00, the amount he received as vagueness in the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" as he was the one
consideration for the pacto de retrosale, with interest at the legal rate. who prepared or drafted the said instrument. Respondent could have simply
denominated the instrument as a deed of mortgage and referred to himself
and complainant as "mortgagor" and "mortgagee," respectively, rather than owner’s copy of the said certificate oftitle, when the truth is that the said TCT
as "vendor a retro" and "vendee a retro." If only respondent had been more had already been cancelled some nine years earlier by TCT No. T-3211 in
circumspect and careful in the drafting and preparation of the deed, then the the name of PNB. He did not evencare to correct the wrong statement in the
controversy between him and complainant could havebeen avoided or, at the deed when he was subsequently issued a new copy of TCT No. T-7235 on
very least, easily resolved. His imprecise and misleading wording of the said January 4, 1982, or barely a month after the execution of the said deed. All
deed on its face betrayed lack oflegal competence on his part. He thereby fell told, respondent clearly committed an act of gross dishonesty and deceit
short of his oath to "conduct [him]self as a lawyer according to the best of against complainant.
[his] knowledge and discretion."
Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Codeof Professional Responsibility provide:
More significantly, respondent transgressed the laws and the fundamental
tenet of human relations asembodied in Article 19 of the Civil Code: CANON 1 – A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land
and promote respect for law and legal processes.
Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the
performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
observe honesty and good faith. deceitful conduct. Under Canon 1, a lawyer is not only mandated to
personally obey the laws and the legal processes, he is moreover expected
Respondent, as owner of the property, had the right to mortgage it to to inspire respect and obedience thereto. On the other hand, Rule 1.01
complainant but, as a lawyer, he should have seen to it that his agreement states the norm of conduct that is expected of all lawyers.
with complainant is embodied in an instrument that clearly expresses the
intent of the contracting parties. A lawyer who drafts a contract must see to it Any act or omission that is contrary to, prohibited or unauthorized by, in
that the agreement faithfully and clearly reflects the intention of the defiance of, disobedient to, or disregards the law is "unlawful." "Unlawful"
contracting parties. Otherwise, the respective rights and obligations of the conduct does not necessarily imply the element of criminality although the
contracting parties will be uncertain, which opens the door to legal disputes concept is broad enough to include such element.
between the said parties. Indeed, the uncertainty caused by respondent’s
poor formulation of the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" was a
To be "dishonest" means the disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, defraud or
significant factor in the legal controversy between respondent and
betray; be untrustworthy; lacking inintegrity, honesty, probity, integrity in
complainant. Such poor formulation reflects at the very least negatively on
principle, fairness and straightforwardness. On the other hand, conduct that
the legal competence of respondent. is "deceitful" means as follows:

Under Section 63 of the Land Registration Act, the law in effect at the time
[Having] the proclivity for fraudulent and deceptive misrepresentation, artifice
the PNB acquired the subject property and obtained TCT No. T-3211 in its
or device that is used upon another who is ignorant of the true facts, to the
name in 1972, where a decree in favor of a purchaser who acquires
prejudice and damage of the party imposed upon. In order to be deceitful, the
mortgaged property in foreclosure proceedings becomes final, such person must either have knowledge of the falsity or acted in reckless and
purchaser becomes entitled to the issuance of a new certificate of title in his conscious ignorance thereof, especially if the parties are not on equal terms,
name and a memorandum thereof shall be "indorsed upon the mortgagor’s
and was done with the intent that the aggrieved party act thereon, and the
original certificate." TCT No. T-662, which respondent gave complainant
latter indeed acted in reliance of the false statement or deed in the manner
when they entered into the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" dated
contemplated to his injury. The actions of respondent in connection with the
December 2, 1981, does not bearsuch memorandum but only a
execution of the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" clearly fall within
memorandum on the mortgage of the property to PNB in 1963 and the the concept of unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct. They violate Article
subsequent amendment of the mortgage. 19 of the Civil Code. They show a disregard for Section 63 of the Land
Registration Act. They also reflect bad faith, dishonesty, and deceit on
Respondent dealt with complainant with bad faith, falsehood, and deceit respondent’s part. Thus, respondent deserves to be sanctioned.
when he entered into the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" dated
December 2, 1981 with the latter. He made it appear that the property was Respondent’s breach of his oath, violation of the laws, lack of good faith, and
covered by TCT No. T-662 under his name, even giving complainant the dishonesty are compounded by his gross disregard of this Court’s directives,
as well as the orders of the IBP’s Investigating Commissioner (who was Respondent’s infractions are aggravated by the fact that he has already been
acting as an agent of this Court pursuant to the Court’s referral of these imposed a disciplinary sanction before. In Nuñez v. Atty. Astorga, respondent
cases to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation), which was held liable for conduct unbecoming an attorney for which he was fined
caused delay in the resolution of these administrative cases. ₱2,000.00.

In particular, the Court required respondent to comment on complainant’s Given the foregoing, the suspension of respondent from the practice of law
Affidavit-Complaint in A.C. No. 4697 and Supplemental Complaint in A.C. for two years, as recommended by the IBP Board of Governors, is proper.
No. 4728 on March 12, 1997 and June 25, 1997, respectively. While he
requested for several extensions of time within which to submit his comment, The Court, however, will not adopt the recommendation of the IBP to order
no such comment was submitted prompting the Court to require him in a respondent to return the sum of ₱15,000.00 he received from complainant
Resolution dated February 4,1998 to (1) show cause why he should not be under the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase." This is a civil liability best
disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for such failure, and (2) submit the determined and awarded in a civil case rather than the present administrative
consolidated comment. Respondent neither showed cause why he should cases.
not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for such failure, nor
submitted the consolidated comment.
In Roa v. Moreno, the Court pronounced that "[i]n disciplinary proceedings
against lawyers, the only issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to
When these cases were referred to the IBP and during the proceedings be allowed to continue as a member of the Bar. Our only concern is the
before the IBP’s Investigating Commissioner, respondent was again required determination of respondent’s administrative liability. Our findings have no
several times to submit his consolidated answer. He only complied on August material bearing on other judicial action which the parties may choose to file
28, 2003, or more than six years after this Court originally required him to do against each other."While the respondent lawyer’s wrongful actuations may
so. The Investigating Commissioner also directed the parties to submit their give rise at the same time to criminal, civil, and administrative liabilities, each
respective position papers. Despite having been given several opportunities must be determined in the appropriate case; and every case must be
to submit the same, respondent did not file any position paper. resolved in accordance with the facts and the law applicable and the
quantum of proof required in each. Section 5, in relation to Sections 1 and 2,
Respondent’s disregard of the directives of this Court and of the Investigating Rule 133 of the Rules of Court states that in administrative cases, such as
Commissioner, which caused undue delay in these administrative cases, the ones atbar, only substantial evidence is required, not proof beyond
contravenes the following provisions of the Code of Professional reasonable doubt as in criminal cases, or preponderance of evidence asin
Responsibility: civil cases. Substantial evidence is that amount of relevant evidence which a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.
CANON 11 – A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the
courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others. The Court notes that based on the same factual antecedents as the present
administrative cases, complainant instituted a criminal case for estafa against
xxxx respondent, docketed as Criminal Case No. 3112-A, before the MTC. When
a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability
arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the criminal
CANON 12 – A lawyer shall exert every effort and consider it his duty to
action unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to
assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice.
institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal
action. Unless the complainant waived the civil action, reserved the right to
xxxx institute it separately, or instituted the civil action prior to the criminal action,
then his civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the estafa
Rule 12.03 – A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file committed by respondent is deemed instituted with Criminal Case No. 3112-
pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the A. The civil liability that complainant may recover in Criminal Case No. 3112-
same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so. A includes restitution; reparation of the damage caused him; and/or
indemnification for consequential damages, which may already cover the
Rule 12.04 – A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of ₱15,000.00 consideration complainant had paid for the subject property.
a judgment or misuse court processes.
WHEREFORE, respondent is hereby found GUILTY of the following: breach
of the Lawyer’s Oath; unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct; and
disrespect for the Court and causing undue delay of these cases, for which
he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years,
reckoned from receipt of this Decision, with WARNING that a similar
misconduct in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for their information and guidance. The
Court Administrator is directed to circulate this Decision to all courts in the
country.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines advantage or favor to the paying party, in violation of Rep. Act No. 3019 (The
SUPREME COURT Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
Manila
Pasay City MeTC Branch 44 Clerk of Court Pedro C. Doctolero, Jr., by his
EN BANC Affidavit, and members of the court staff, by a Joint Affidavit, attested that
Almarvez failed to maintain the cleanliness in and around the court premises,
A.M. No. P-03-1690, April 4, 2003 and had shown discourtesy in dealing with Judge Paas and his co-
employees. Doctolero's affidavit also corroborated Judge Paas' allegation
JUDGE ESTRELLITA M. PAAS, Petitioner, vs. EDGAR E. ALMARVEZ,
that Almarvez would merely sign the logbook in the morning and thereafter
Respondent.
stay out of the office.
A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363, April 4, 2003
Pasay City Postmaster Emma Z. Espiritu, by Certification dated August 2,
EDGAR E. ALMARVEZ, Petitioner, vs. Judge ESTRELLITA M. PAAS, 2000, attested that the alleged printed matter intended to be mailed on July
Respondent. 11, 2000 was not included in the list of registered mails posted in the Pasay
City Post Office on said date.
A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC. April 4, 2003[In Re: Use by Atty. Renerio G. Paas
as an Office in His Private Practice of His Profession the Office of His Jail Escort Russel S. Hernandez and Jail Officer II Rosendo Macabasag,
Wife, Pasay City MeTC Judge Estrellita M. Paas. both assigned to the Pasay City Jail, by their respective affidavits, attested
that on several occasions, they saw Almarvez receive from detention
DECISION prisoners PI 00.00 to P-200.00 in consideration of the release of their
Release Orders.
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Almarvez, by Answer of September 25, 2000, denied Judge Paas' charges,
Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 44 Presiding Judge and alleged that the real reason why Judge Paas filed the case against him
Estrellita M. Paas administratively charged Court Aide/Utility Worker Edgar was because she suspected him of helping her husband, Atty. Renerio G.
E. Almarvez with "discourtesy, disrespect, insubordination, neglect in Paas, conceal his marital indiscretions; since she failed to elicit any
performing his duties, disloyalty, solicitation of monetary consideration and information from him, she resorted to calling him names and other forms of
gross violation of the Civil Service Law." The case was docketed as A.M. harassment; on September 6, 2000, she hurled at him the following
OCA IPINo. 00-956-P. invectives before the other employees of the court: "Walang kuwenta, ahas
ka, driver long kita, pinaasenso kita, walang utang na loob, pinagtatakpan mo
In her complaint, Judge Paas alleged that Almarvez is discourteous to his co-
pa ang asawa ko, ulupong"; and she insisted that he sign a prepared
employees, lawyers and party litigants; has failed to maintain the cleanliness
resignation letter, a copy of which he was not able to keep.
in and around the court premises despite order to do so, thus amounting to
insubordination; was, and on several instances, habitually absent from work Almarvez added that he had been subjected by Judge Paas to the following
or made it appear that he reported for work by signing the logbook in the incidents of oppression and abuse of authority: On July 28, 2000, he was
morning, only to stay out of the office the whole day; asked from detention called by the Judge to her chambers where she berated him as follows:
prisoners P100.00 to P200.00 before he released to them their Release "Sinungaling ka, angdami mong alam, hindi ka nagsasabi ng totoo sa akin,
Orders; asked for amounts in excess of what was necessary for the purchase gago, tanga, pirmahan mo itong resignation letter, kung hindi kakasuhan kita
of stamps and pocketed the difference; once failed to mail printed matter on ng estafa at falsification"; the next day, the Judge, on seeing him, told him
July 11, 2000 and kept for his own use the amount given to him for the "Bakit ka nandiyan, mag-leave ka sa Lunes"; and on July 31, 2000, the
purpose; and divulged confidential information to litigants in advance of its Judge called him again to her chambers and told him "Ang kapal ng mukha
authorized release date for a monetary consideration, thus giving undue mo, pumasok ka pa dito, gago, kaya kita ipinasok dito dahil driver kita."
Continuing, Almarvez claimed that on July 31, 2000, he reported the Pursuant to Sec. 1 of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court which allows the
foregoing incidents to Pasay City MeTC Executive Judge Maria Cancino Supreme Court to motu proprio initiate proceedings for the discipline of
Erum who advised him to report the same to the Office of the Clerk of Court; attorneys, this Court resolved to docket the matter as A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC
and on August 1, 2000, he executed a sworn statement-complaint against and to consolidate it with A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956-P and A.M. No. MTJ-01-
Judge Paas and went to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) to file it, 1363.
but he was advised to try to talk the matter over with her who then told him
that they should forget all about it. In compliance with the December 4, 2001 Resolution of the Court en banc,
Judge and Atty. Paas submitted their January 16, 2002 Joint Affidavit
On the merits of the charges, Almarvez denied ever requesting for money in wherein they vehemently denied the charge that the latter was using Room
exchange for the release of court orders and alleged that both Hernandez 203 of the Pasay City Hall of Justice as his office address, they claiming that
and Macabasag executed their respective affidavits because Judge Paas Atty. Paas actually holds office at 410 Natividad Building, Escolta, Manila
was a principal sponsor at their respective weddings; Hernandez was in fact with his partner Atty. Herenio Martinez; Atty. Paas would visit his wife at her
indebted to the Judge for helping him cover-up the escape of a detainee office only when he has a hearing before the Pasay City courts or
under his charge; the court's mail matters were always sealed whenever he Prosecutor's Office, or when he lunches with or fetches her, or when he is a
received them for mailing and he never tampered with their contents; the guest during special occasions such as Christmas party and her birthday
alleged unmailed printed matter was actually posted on June 28, 2000, not which are celebrated therein; and Judge Paas would never consent nor
on July 11, 2000, via ordinary instead of registered mail, because the money tolerate the use of the court for any personal activities. Attached to the Joint
given to him for the purpose was insufficient; and on the days when he was Affidavit were the separate sworn statements of Arty. Paas' law partner Atty.
out of the office, he was actually performing personal errands for the judge Herenio E. Martinez and secretary Nilda L. Gatdula attesting that he is
and her husband, Atty. Paas, who treated him as their personal driver and holding office at the above-said address in Escolta, and the Joint Affidavit of
messenger. the Pasay City MeTC Branch 44 court personnel attesting that Atty. Paas'
visits to the court are neither routine nor daily occurrences, and he never
As further proof of Judge Paas' oppressive behavior towards him, Almarvez used the court in the practice of his profession.
claimed that she ordered him to undergo a drug test per Memorandum dated
September 7, 2000, even if he had no history of drug abuse on a periodic or On January 24, 2002, Judge Paas executed a Supplemental Affidavit
continuous basis as shown by the test results of his examination. wherein she admitted that Atty. Paas did use her office as his return address
for notices and orders in Crim. CaseNos. 98-1197 to 98-1198, "People vs.
The Court treated respondent's Answer as a counter-complaint against Louie Manabaty Valencia and Raymond dela Cruz y Salita, " (now docketed
Judge Paas and docketed it as A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363. in this Court as G.R. Nos. 140536-37), lodged at the Pasay City RTC, Branch
109, but only to ensure and facilitate delivery of those notices, but after the
The two administrative cases were consolidated and referred for evaluation
cases were terminated, all notices were sent to his office address in Escolta.
to the OCA, which assigned them to Executive Judge Vicente L. Yap of
Pasay City RTC, Branch 114 for investigation. By Resolution of February 12, 2002, the Court referred the matter to the OCA
for evaluation, report and recommendation.
In a separate case for inhibition of Judge Paas in a criminal case, it was
revealed that Judge Paas' husband, private practitioner Atty. Paas, was After the completion of his investigation of A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956-P and
using his wife's office as his office address in his law practice, in support of A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363, Judge Yap submitted his Report/Recommendation
which were submitted copies of a Notice of Appeal signed by Atty. Paas, dated February 28, 2002.
notices from Pasay City RTC Branch 109 and from the Supreme Court with
respect to the case of People vs. Louie Manabat, et al. (G.R. Nos. 140536- On March 11, 2002, the OCA submitted its Report on A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC
37) which indicated Atty. Paas' address to be Room 203, Hall of Justice, dated March 1, 2002.
Pasay City, the office assigned to Pasay City MeTC, Branch 44.
I. OCA Findings and Recommendations That said ALMARVEZ being in charge of the mails had divulged informations
which is confidential in nature to party litigants in advance of its authorized
A. On the charges against Almarvez: release date before the release of Court Order and Decision for
consideration of a sum of money thus giving undue advantage or favor to the
The OCA, for lack of evidence, recommended the dismissal of the charges
paying party detrimental to the due administration of justice, in fact lacks
against Almarvez of exacting money from detainees, violating confidentiality
particularity. It is devoid of material details to enable Almarvez to intelligently
of official communication, absence without official leave, discourtesy and
meet the same.
insubordination. Given Almarvez' unsatisfactory performance ratings for
three rating periods covering January to June 2000, July to December 2000, As for the charges of neglect of duty, discourtesy and insubordination which
and January to April 2001, however, the OCA recommended that he be duly were echoed in the affidavits of court personnel, they are also too general to
penalized for inefficiency in the performance of his official duties with One (1) support a conviction and are contrary to what is reflected in his performance
Month suspension without pay, instead of dismissal as warranted under rating that he cooperated willingly, even wholeheartedly, with his fellow
Memorandum Circular No. 12, s. 1994, his supervisor having failed to employees.
observe the procedure thereunder for dropping of employees from the rolls,
which procedure is quoted at the later portion of this decision. On the charge of violation of Rep. Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act): Absent any evidence to support the charge, the affiants-jail
B. On the charges against Judge Paas: officers who claimed to have witnessed Alarvez receive money from
detention prisoners in exchange for the release of their Release Orders not
With respect to the complaint of Almarvez against Judge Paas, the OCA, for
having been presented, hence, their claim remains hearsay, Almarvez'
lack of supporting evidence, recommended the dismissal of the charges of
categorical denial and counter-allegation that these affiants executed their
maltreatment, harassment and verbal abuse. It found, however, that Judge
affidavits only out of fear of or favor to Judge Paas gain light.
Paas "had used her administrative power of supervision and control over
court personnel for her personal pride, prejudice and pettiness" when she As for the charge that Almarvez would merely sign the logbook and would
issued her September 7,2000 Memorandum ordering Alvarez to undergo a thereafter leave the office, again Judge Paas failed to present the affiant-
drug test after she had already filed an administrative case against him. It Clerk of Court Atty. Pedro C. Doctolero, Jr. While she submitted in evidence
thus concluded that, in all probability, the purpose of Judge Paas in ordering a copy of her October 6, 2000 memorandum requiring Almarvez to explain
Almarvez to undergo a drug test was to fish for evidence to support the why he was not in the office on September 8, 11, and 13, and October 5,
administrative case she had already filed against him. 2000, despite his affixing of his signature in the logbook on those dates
indicating that he reported for work, Almarvez satisfactorily explained that on
September 8, 11, and 13, 2000, he submitted himself to drug testing as
Accordingly, the OCA recommended that Judge Paas be found guilty of required by her in her September 7, 2000 memorandum, which explanation
simple misconduct in office, and be penalized with reprimand with a warning is supported by the September 14, 2000 letter of Dr. Rosendo P. Saulog,
that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely. Medical Specialist II of the Dangerous Drug Board. As to his whereabouts on
October 5, 2000, Almarvez' explanation that he was actually present in the
II. This Court's Findings: morning but left in the afternoon for the Supreme Court was not controverted.

A. On the charges against Almarvez: On the charge of inefficiency, this Court concurs with the following findings of
the OCA that he should be faulted therefor:
Indeed, this Court finds that there is no sufficient evidence to support the
charge of violation of confidentiality of official communication against The performance ratings of respondent Almarvez for three (3) rating periods
Almarvez. The charge against Almarvez in Judge Paas' complaint-affidavit covering January to June 2000, July to December 2000 and January to April
which reads: 2001 evidently shows that he failed to perform his official duties. The fact that
respondent Almarvez never disputed the performance ratings given him is Judge Paas' order for Almarvez to undergo a drug test is not an unlawful
tantamount to an implied acceptance thereof pursuant to Sec. 5 Rule IX order. Per Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 34, s. 1997,
Book V of Executive Order No. 292, quoted as follows: public employees are required to undergo a drug test prior to employment to
determine if they are drug-free. To be drug-free is not merely a pre-
"Sec. 5. An employee who expresses dissatisfaction with the rating given him employment prerequisite but is a continuing requirement to ensure the
may appeal through the established Grievance Procedure of the Department highest degree of productivity of the civil service. However, considering that
or Agency within fifteen (15) days after receipt of his copy of his performance the order was issued after Judge Paas filed the administrative case against
rating. Failure to file an appeal within the prescribed period shall be deemed Almarvez, it elicits the suspicion that it was only a fishing expedition against
a waiver of such right." him. This is conduct unbecoming of a member of the judiciary, for which
Judge Paas should be duly reprimanded.
The performance ratings of respondent for the said periods are valid grounds
to drop him from the Rolls. However, considering that his superior/supervisor C. On the charges against Judge Paas and Atty. Paas:
failed to comply with the requirements set forth in Memorandum Circular No.
12, Series of 1994 of the Civil Service Commission, which is hereunder By Judge Paas' own admission in her January 24, 2002 Supplemental
quoted, and that he was able to make up and cure his inefficiency after he Affidavit, she was aware that her husband Atty. Paas was using her office to
was given the opportunity to improve his performance in his detail to Branch receive court notices and orders in a case lodged in a Pasay court. As the
11, MeTC, Manila, as shown by his performance rating for the period April to OCA puts it, "[w]hile the same appears to be innocuous, it could be
June 2001 with a "very satisfactory" rating, dropping him from the roll will no interpreted as a subtle way of sending a message that Atty. Paas is the
longer be appropriate (Emphasis and italics supplied.) husband of a judge in the same building and should be given special
treatment by other judges or court personnel."
Par. 2.2 of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 12, s. 1994 referred to in the
above-quoted findings of the OCA reads: The following are instructive in the disposition of these charges against the
judge and her spouse, Atty. Paas:
2.2 Unsatisfactory or Poor Performance.
SC Administrative Circular No. 01-99, "Enhancing the Dignity of Courts as
(a) An official or employee who is given two (2) consecutive unsatisfactory Temples of Justice and Promoting Respect for their Officials and Employers"
ratings may be dropped from the rolls after due notice. Notice shall mean that reads:
the officer or employee concerned is informed in writing of his unsatisfactory
performance for a semester and is sufficiently warned that a succeeding As courts are temples of justice, their dignity and sanctity must, at all times
unsatisfactory performance shall warrant his separation from the service. be preserved and enhanced. In inspiring public respect for the justice
Such notice shall be given not later than 30 days from the end of the system, court officials and employees must:
semester and shall contain sufficient information which shall enable the
employee to prepare an explanation. (Emphasis and italics supplied.) In general: (a) avoid committing any act which would constitute grounds for
disciplinary action under, as the case may be, the Canons of Judicial Ethics,
The suspension of Almarvez for One (1) Month without pay, as Code of Judicial Conduct; and Section 46, Chapter 7, Subtitle A, Title I, Book
recommended by the OCA, is thus in order. V of the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292); and (b)
faithfully comply with the norms of conduct and perform the duties prescribed
B. On the charges against Judge Paas: in the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees (R.A. No. 6713);
Regarding the charges of abuse of authority and oppression against Judge
Paas, Almarvez failed to substantiate the same. Zealously guard the public trust character of their offices;
xxx purposes of advancing his private interest, in violation of the Code of Judicial
Conduct" and of the above-stated Supreme Court circulars, which violation is
xxx classified as a less serious charge under the Rules of Court and is
punishable under the same Rule.
xxx
A judge's official conduct should indeed be free from the appearance of
Never use their offices as a residence or for any other purpose than for court
impropriety; and his behavior not only in the performance of judicial duties,
or judicial functions. (Emphasis and italics supplied.)
but also in his everyday life should be beyond reproach. This is premised on
Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that "A judge should avoid the truism that a Judge's official life cannot simply be detached or separated
impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities." Specifically, from his personal existence and that upon a Judge's attributes depend the
Rule 2.03 thereof provides that: public perception of the Judiciary.

Rule 2.03. A judge shall not allow family, social, or other relationships to On his part, Atty. Paas was guilty of using a fraudulent, misleading, and
influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige of judicial office shall not deceptive address that had no purpose other than to try to impress either the
be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, nor convey or court in which his cases are lodged, or his client, that he has close ties to a
permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to member of the judiciary, in violation of the following rules of the Code of
influence the judge. (Italics supplied.) Professional Responsibility:

SC Circular No. 3-92, dated August 31, 1992, of this Court reads: CANON 3 A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS LEGAL SERVICES SHALL
USE ONLY TRUE, HONEST, FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTIVE
SUBJECT: PROHIBITION AGAINST USE OF HALLS OF JUSTICE FOR INFORMATION OR STATEMENT OF FACTS.
RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES
Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent,
All judges and court personnel are hereby reminded that the Halls of Justice misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim
may be used only for purposes directly related to the functioning and regarding his qualifications or legal services.
operation of the courts of justice, and may not be devoted to any other use,
least of all as residential quarters of the judges or court personnel, or for CANON 10 A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH
carrying on therein any trade or profession. TO THE COURT.

Attention is drawn to A.M. No. RTJ-89-327 {Nellie Kelly Austria vs. Judge Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of
Singuat Guerra), a case involving unauthorized and improper use of the any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any
court's premises for dwelling purposes by respondent and his family, in which artifice.
the Court, by Resolution dated October 17, 1991, found respondent Judge
CANON 13 A LAWYER SHALL RELY UPON THE MERITS OF HIS CAUSE
guilty of irresponsible and improper conduct prejudicial to the efficient
AND REFRAIN FROM ANY IMPROPRIETY WHICH TENDS TO
administration of justice and best interest of the service, and imposed on him
INFLUENCE, OR GIVES THE APPEARANCE OF INFLUENCING THE
the penalty of SEVERE CENSURE, the Court declaring that such use of the
COURT.
court's premises inevitably degrades the honor and dignity of the court in
addition to exposing judicial records to danger of loss or damage. (Italics CANON 15 A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND
supplied.) LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS
CLIENTS.
By allowing her husband to use the address of her court in pleadings before
other courts, Judge Paas indeed "allowed [him] to ride on her prestige for
Rule 15.06. A lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able to influence any This Decision shall take effect immediately.
public official, tribunal or legislative body.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant,
The need for relying on the merits of a lawyer's case, instead of banking on Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and appended to respondents' personal
his relationship with a member of the bench which tends to influence or gives record.
the appearance of influencing the court, cannot be overemphasized. It is
unprofessional and dishonorable, to say the least, to misuse a public office to SO ORDERED.
enhance a lawyer's prestige. Public confidence in law and lawyers may be
eroded by such reprehensible and improper conduct.

This Court does not subscribe to the proffered excuse that expediency and a
desire to ensure receipt of court orders and notices prompted Atty. Paas and
Judge Paas to allow him to have his court notices sent to office of Judge
Paas, especially given the fact that for his other cases, Atty. Paas used his
office address but there is no showing that he failed to receive the notices
sent to that address. While a lawyer should make the necessary
arrangements to ensure that he is properly informed of any court action,
these should not violate his lawyer's oath or the Code of Professional
Responsibility, nor provide an opportunity for a member of the judiciary to
breach his or her responsibilities under Supreme Court circulars and the
Code of Judicial Conduct.

WHEREFORE, this Court finds:

1. In A.M. OCA IPINo. 00-956-P, respondent Edgar E. Almarvez GUILTY


of inefficiency and is hereby SUSPENDED for One (1) Month without
pay;
2. In A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363, respondent, Judge Estrellita M. Paas
GUILTY of conduct unbecoming of a member of the judiciary and is
hereby REPRIMANDED, with warning that repetition of the same or
similar acts shall be dealt with more severely;
3. In A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC,
a. Judge Paas GUILTYoiviolating SC Administrative Circular No. 01-
99, SC Circular No. 3-92 and Canon 2, Rule 2.03 of the Code of
Judicial Conduct and is hereby ordered to pay a FINE of TWELVE
THOUSAND PESOS'(P l 2,000.00), with warning that repetition of
the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely; and
b. Atty. Renerio Paas GUILTY of SIMPLE MISCONDUCT and is
hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of
THREE (3) MONTHS, with warning that repetition of the same or
similar act shall be dealt with more severely.
Republic of the Philippines x x x deliberate and adamant refusal to comply with his statutory duty to
SUPREME COURT protect and defend the interest of the Government of the Republic of the
Manila Philippines as against the interest of Lucio Tan and the Central Bank relative
to the verbatim adoption of the Lucio Tan Bid as the Liquidation Plan of
THIRD DIVISION GBTC under Monetary Board Resolution No. 677, March 29, 1977.
G.R. No. 125440, January 31, 2000 OMB-CRIM-093-1597 was assigned to respondent Raul E. Totanes,
Ombudsman Graft Investigation Office II, Evaluation and Preliminary
GENERAL BANK AND TRUST COMPANY (GBTC); WORLDWIDE
Investigation Bureau (EPIB). Respondent Totanes dismissed the criminal
INSURANCE AND SURETY COMPANY (WORLDWIDE); MIDLAND
case against respondent ASG de Leon in the assailed Resolution dated May
INSURANCE CORPORATION (MIDLAND); and STANDARD INSURANCE
15, 1995, the dispositive portion of which reads:
CO., INC. (STANDARD), Petitioners, vs. THE OMBUDSMAN; OMB-GIO
RAUL E. TOTANES and ASSISTANT SOLICITOR GENERAL WHEREFORE, premises considered, the undersigned investigator
MAGDANGAL M. DE LEON, Respondents. respectfully recommends that the above-entitled case be forthwith
DISMISSED for lack of sufficient evidence to hold respondent CRIMINALLY
DECISION
liable for the acts complained of in the instant complaint.
GONZAGA-REYES, J.:
SO RESOLVED.
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court that seeks
Petitioners then filed a Motion for Reconsideration on July 10, 1995 that was
to annul and set aside the Ombudsman Resolution dated May 15, 1995 in
denied in an Order dated March 13, 1996. Hence, this petition.
OMB-CRIM-0-93-1597 which dismissed the complaint filed by petitioners
against respondent Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) Magdangal M. de The relevant facts as summarized by the Office of the Ombudsman are:
Leon, and the Ombudsman Order dated March 13, 1996 denying the Motion
for Reconsideration of petitioners. On March 27, 1977, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank passed
Resolution No. 677 to the effect that GBTC is insolvent and therefore has to
Petitioners General Bank and Trust Company (GBTC), Worldwide Insurance stop its banking business operations. It designated a Liquidator and
and Surety Company (Worldwide), Midland Insurance Corporation (Midland) approved a Liquidation Plan whereby (sic) Lucio Tan Group shall purchase
and Standard Insurance Co., Inc. (Standard) filed a complaint against all the assets and assume all the liabilities of GBTC;
respondent ASG de Leon on July 5, 1993. Docketed as OMB-CRIM-093-
1597, the complaint accused respondent ASG de Leon of violating Section 3 On April 07, 1977, the Central Bank of the Philippines and Arnulfo B.
(e) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), for allegedly Aurellano in his capacity as the Monetary Board of the Central Bank
Liquidator of GBTC filed through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) a
x x x causing undue injury to the Government of the Republic of the Petition with the Court of First Instance of Manila, seeking the court's
Philippines and the GBTC Stockholders in giving Lucio Tan unwarranted assistance in the liquidation of GBTC. The Court docketed the said petition
benefit or advantage in the discharge of his official functions by protecting as Spec. Proc. No. 107812, entitled "Petition for Assistance in the Liquidation
and defending the interest of Lucio Tan and the Central Bank relative to (sic) of GBTC";
verbatim adoption of the Lucio Tan Bid as the Liquidation Plan of GBTC
under Monetary Board Resolution No. 677, March 29, 1977. On May 05, 1982, three minority stockholders of GBTC, namely, Worldwide,
Midland and Standard through their counsel, ATTY. ANGEL C. CRUZ, filed
and charged respondent administratively with malfeasance in office, for his an intervention in the said case, praying for the annulment of the closure and
alleged liquidation of GBTC by the Monetary Board of the Central Bank as these
were allegedly done arbitrarily and in bad faith. Later, GBTC itself joined and of the Philippines' as contained in the statement of ultimate facts set forth in
adopted the intervention of its aforesaid three minority stockholders; Par. 14 (a)-(1) to (3) of EDSA-SDB Civil Case No. 0005, ANNEX "C".

Assistant Solicitor General Ruben E. Agpalo, to whose Team the said case On December 16, 1992, counsel of petitioners wrote respondent ASG de
was assigned by Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, re-assigned the said Leon that he inhibit himself from appearing in Spec. Proc. No. 107812 and to
case from Solicitor Juan C. Nabong to the herein respondent in view of Juan defend the interest of the Government of the Philippines as against the
C. Nabong's appointment as RTC Judge; interest of Lucio Tan in Civil Case No. 0005.

From that time on, all the pleadings, filed with the Liquidation Court RTC of When respondent ASG de Leon for OSG continued to represent the Central
Manila, were signed by Assistant Solicitor General Ruben E. Agpalo and the Bank in Spec. Proc. No. 107812, petitioners then filed the complaint against
herein respondent in behalf of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). respondent with the Office of the Ombudsman.

What prompted petitioners to file a complaint against respondent ASG de In dismissing the case, the Office of the Ombudsman held:
Leon with the Ombudsman is the alleged "inconsistent position" of said
respondent in Spec. Proc. No. 107812 and in Civil Case No. 0005 filed with Thus, the records of this case convincingly show that, whenever the herein
Sandiganbayan. respondent Assistant Solicitor General appears in court or signs any pleading
in the aforesaid case, he is doing so not in his personal capacity but in his
Civil Case No. 0005 is an ill-gotten wealth case filed by the Presidential official capacity as one of the lawyers in the OSG, which is headed by the
Commission on Good Government (PCGG) through the OSG on July 17, Solicitor General.
1987. This case was instituted against Lucio Tan, former President
Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, et. al. Everything stated in the pleadings filed by the OSG in the aforesaid case is
not the personal stand or opinion of the herein respondent but the official
Petitioners point out that in Civil Case No. 0005, the first of the causes of stand or opinion of the OSG. Hence, OSG as counsel of the Central Bank of
actions therein as stated in Par. 14 (a)-(1) to (3) alleges that: the Philippines in the aforesaid case is defending its client, the Central Bank.
It is not defending the interest of Lucio Tan. The fact that, under the
(A) The Marcos-dominated Central Bank Closure of GBTC under MB Liquidation Plan approved by the Monetary Board of the Central Bank, the
Resolution, March 25, 1977; Lucio Tan Group purchased the assets and assumed the liabilities of GBTC,
is merely incidental. What is at issue in the aforesaid case, which is now
(B) The LUCIO TAN'S (sic) takeover of GBTC under MB Resolution, March
before the Court of Appeals, is whether or not the Monetary Board of the
29, 1977;
Central Bank acted arbitrarily or in bad faith in its actions, leading to the
are illegal, fraudulent and arbitrary, made thru conspiracy with and taking closure and liquidation of GBTC.
advantage of the close relationship between the LUCIO TAN Group and the
As regards the complaint in the Sandiganbayan, docketed as Civil Case No.
deposed President and Wife, other CB officials, with the help and
0005, which is an action for the recovery of the alleged ill-gotten wealth
manipulation of then CB Governor Gregorio S. Licaros and former PNB
against Lucio Tan, et. al., the same was signed by Presidential Commission
President Panfilo O. Domingo xxx.
on Good Government (PCGG) Chairman Ramon Diaz and Solicitor General
The charge that respondent ASG de Leon espoused conflicting interests Francisco Chavez. While it is true that, the said case is in the name of the
rests on the contention of petitioners that said respondent's act of defending Republic of the Philippines, yet it was filed by the PCGG which is the only
the legality of the Central Bank closure of GBTC amounts to defending the agency involved in that case. The said PCGG case has nothing to do with
interest of Lucio Tan and the Central Bank. Petitioners maintain that the Spec. Proc. No. 107812 (CA-G.R. CV No. 39939) which involves the issue of
position taken by the OSG represented by respondent ASG de Leon in Spec. validity of the closure and liquidation of GBTC. Neither the Central Bank nor
Proc. No. 107812 is "against the 'interest of the Government of the Republic GBTC Liquidator Arnulfo B. Aurellano of the Central Bank, petitioners-
appellants in the said CA G.R. CV No. 39938, are parties in the said 107812 (now CA-GR CV No. 39939) is also defending the interest of Lucio
Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0005. Tan. Considering that Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0005 is a complaint
against Lucio Tan filed by the PCGG through the OSG and includes
With the Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution having been denied, averments pertaining to the alleged illegal and arbitrary closure of GBTC,
petitioners filed this petition raising the following issues: petitioners are convinced that respondent ASG de Leon must be held
personally liable for the alleged inconsistent interest or position taken by the
I.
OSG in these two cases.
THAT RESPONDENT OMB AND RESPONDENT INVESTIGATION
To be criminally liable under Section 3 (e) of RA 3019, these elements must
OFFICER RAUL E. TOTANES COMMITTED OUTRAGEOUSLY WRONG
be present: (1) That the accused are public officers or private persons
FINDINGS (A) THAT THE OSG "IS NOT DEFENDING THE INTEREST OF
charged in conspiracy with them; (2) that said public officers commit the
LUCIO TAN" IN SPEC. PROC. NO. 107812, NOW CA-G.R. NO. 39939, AND
prohibited acts during the performance of their official duties or in relation to
(B) THAT THE EDSA CASE SANDIGANBAYAN CIVIL CASE NO. 0005 HAS
their public positions; (3) that they cause undue injury to any party, whether
NOTHING TO DO WITH SPEC. PROC. NO. 107812, NOW CA-G.R. NO.
the Government or a private party; (4) that such injury is caused by giving
39939, ARE DIRECTLY CONTRADICTED BY THE FACTS ON RECORD.
unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to such parties; and (5) that
II. the public officers have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or
gross inexcusable negligence.
THAT RESPONDENT OMBUDSMAN COMPLETELY ERRED IN NOT
CONSIDERING THAT THERE IS NO CONSTITUTIONAL NOR ANY LEGAL Respondent ASG de Leon, in representing the Central Bank in Spec. Proc.
PROVISION NOR ANY DECISIONAL AUTHORITY NOR ANY No. 107812/CA-G.R. CV No. 39939 was acting in his official capacity as
PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY VESTING UPON OSG THE RIGHT AND OR Assistant Solicitor General. As Assistant Solicitor General, respondent was a
DUTY TO REPRESENT INTEREST "IN CONFLICT OR OPPOSED" TO member of the legal staff of the OSG tasked to represent the Central Bank,
THE INTEREST OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, OF WHICH an agency of the Government, in Spec. Proc. No. 107812/CA-GR CV No.
OSG IS THE CHIEF COUNSEL, IN ANY ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH CASE 39939. Based on the records, the case was originally assigned to Solicitor
SUCH AS THAT ARISING FROM THE ILLEGAL AND FRAUDULENT CB Nabong, but was re-assigned to respondent who at the time was a Solicitor,
CLOSURE AND LUCIO TAN'S TAKEOVER OF GBTC, AS SET FORTH IN in view of the appointment of Nabong as RTC judge.
PAR. 14 (a)-(1) TO (3), EDSA-SDB CIVIL CASE NO. 0005, ANNEX "C".
In defending the validity of the closure of GBTC, respondent ASG de Leon
III. was merely acting in the interest of the Central Bank, which is the client of
OSG. It may be true that a successful defense of the interest of the Central
THAT RESPONDENT OMB IS TOTALLY WRONG IN NOT FINDING THAT Bank in said case would also inure to the benefit of the Lucio Tan group.
A PRIMA FACIE CASE EXISTS AGAINST RESPONDENT FOR VIOLATION However, such benefit would just be an incidental result of the position that
OF SECTION 3 (e), RA No. 3019, AS AMENDED CONSIDERING THAT the government has taken in justifying the closure of said bank because the
THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD, BEING DOCUMENTARY, IS SO CLEAR approved Liquidation Plan for GBTC provided that the Lucio Tan group shall
AND SO PLAIN. purchase all the assets and assume all the liabilities of GBTC and such
Liquidation Plan would be in force upon a judgment upholding the legality of
The petition must be dismissed. Not only are the charges against respondent the closure of GBTC. Whatever benefit the Lucio Tan group would reap upon
ASG de Leon baseless, they are also misplaced. a favorable judgment in Spec. Proc. No. 107812/CA-G.R. CV No. 39939 is
but a natural consequence of a successful defense of the actions of the
In accusing respondent ASG de Leon of malfeasance and violation of
Central Bank in closing GBTC. Certainly, it cannot be deemed as an act of
Section 3 (e) of RA 3019, petitioners would like this Court to believe that
respondent ASG de Leon, in representing the Central Bank in Spec. Proc.
causing undue injury to a party by giving it unwarranted benefits or Petitioners have already raised the issue of "inconsistent positions" of the
advantage. OSG in Spec. Proc. No. 107812 and Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0005
with the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 033642 (Appeal of the Central
We affirm the finding that respondent ASG de Leon cannot be held criminally Bank from the decision of the RTC of Manila, Branch IV in Spec. Proc. No.
liable for violating Section 3 (e) of RA 3019. In defending the Central Bank, 107812).
respondent was performing his legal duty to defend the interest of the
Government and was merely pursuing the position taken by it. Whatever In CA-G.R. CV No. 033642, petitioners sought to have then Solicitor General
legal services respondent ASG de Leon rendered in favor of the Central Francisco Chavez cited in contempt and subjected to disciplinary action for
Bank in Spec. Proc. No. 107812/CA-G.R. CV No. 39939 were made in his said inconsistency. In upholding the position of Solicitor General Chavez, the
official capacity as a member of the legal staff of the OSG. We note that in all Court of Appeals stated in its Resolution dated July 19, 1988:
of the pleadings filed by the OSG in Spec. Proc. No. 107812/CA-G.R. CV No.
39939, the signature of respondent ASG de Leon appeared therein as The second ground in support of the motion for contempt may have some
Solicitor and later on as Assistant Solicitor General. However, it must be basis per se, that is, appellants counsel espouses two inconsistent positions
noted that these pleadings also bore the signatures of the Solicitor General or interests: the first, in favor of Central Bank and Lucio Tan, which is the
and other members of the legal staff of the Office of the Solicitor General. position taken in the case at bar, and the second, in favor of the Republic but
against Lucio Tan and his cohorts in the Civil Case before the
Hence, the acts of respondent ASG de Leon had the imprimatur of the OSG Sandiganbayan. The situation of the appellants counsel may therefore be
which had consistently defended the interest of the Central Bank in Spec. likened to one whose choice is between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Proc. No. 107812/CA-G.R. CV No. 39939. Four Solicitor Generals, Estelito
Mendoza, Sedfrey Ordoez, Frank Chavez and Raul I. Goco have maintained Still and all, we are not ready to condemn appellants counsel because of the
the policy of defending the closure of GBTC by the Central Bank and fix in which he found himself. On the contrary, we might commiserate with
respondent ASG de Leon merely acted with the other officials of the OSG in him. He is under the payroll of the State and he represents the State
representing the State. sometimes through its instrumentality like the Central Bank and its officials,
as in the instant case. In other words, the State in both cases has knowingly
To be liable under Section 3 (e) of RA 3019, the five aforementioned allowed counsel to represent it, and for this reason, the latter may not be held
elements must concur. In the absence of proof that respondent ASG de Leon in contempt and subjected to any disciplinary action.
acted with manifest partiality in pursuing the official stand of the OSG in
Spec. Proc. No. 107812/CA-G.R. CV No. 39939, respondent ASG de Leon This Court agrees that even the Solicitor General cannot be personally liable
cannot be liable under Section 3 (e) of RA 3019. Thus, the failure of for the predicament he found himself in Spec. Proc. No. 107812 and
petitioners to prove the fifth element is fatal to their cause. Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0005. Basic to a prosecution under Section 3
(e) of RA 3019 is that public officers must have acted with manifest partiality,
Petitioners harp on the alleged conflicting positions of respondent ASG de evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence in performing his legal
Leon in Spec. Proc. No. 107812/CA-G.R. CV No. 39939 and in duty. We find no reason to disturb the ruling of respondent Totanes that there
Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0005. However, the records fail to disclose was no prima facie case against respondent ASG de Leon. The perceived
the nature and extent of respondent ASG de Leons participation in conflict of interest or position undertaken by the OSG in Spec. Proc. No.
Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0005. What has been set in detail is the 107812/CA-G.R. CV No. 39939 and in Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0005
participation of respondent ASG de Leon in Spec Proc. No. 107812/CA-G.R. should be addressed to the OSG or the Solicitor General in particular.
CV No. 39939. Assuming arguendo that respondent ASG de Leon
participated in these two cases, this Court cannot hold him personally liable. Furthermore, in Ocampo, IV vs. Ombudsman, we ruled that the "courts
The perceived inconsistent positions are the official positions taken by his cannot interfere with the discretion of the fiscal or the Ombudsman to
office as the principal law office and legal defender of the Government. determine the specificity and adequacy of the averments of the offense
charged. He may dismiss the complaint forthwith if he finds it to be
insufficient in form or substance or if he otherwise finds no ground to
continue with the inquiry; or he may proceed with the investigation if the
complaint is, in his view, in due and proper form."

The power of the Ombudsman to determine the merits of a complaint is


mandated by the Constitution and courts should not interfere in the exercise
thereof. There is also a practical reason behind this rule, to wit:

The rule is based not only upon respect for the investigatory and prosecutory
powers granted by the Constitution to the Office of the Ombudsman but upon
practicality as well. Otherwise, the functions of the courts will be grievously
hampered by innumerable petitioners assailing the dismissal of investigatory
proceedings conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman with regard to
complaints filed before it, in much the same was that the courts would be
extremely swamped if they could be compelled to review the exercise of
discretion on the part of the fiscals or prosecuting attorneys each time they
decide to file an information in court or dismiss a complaint by a private
complainant.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines After promulgation of the judgment, petitioner on that same day filed his
SUPREME COURT notice of appeal. Nine days thereafter or more particularly on January 24,
Manila 1970, petitioner filed a motion praying that the case be reopened to permit
him to present, pursuant to a reservation he had made in the course of the
FIRST DIVISION trial, a permit to possess the handgrenade in question. The trial court in its
order of January 30, 1970 denied the motion mainly on the ground that it had
G.R. No. L-38581, March 31, 1976 lost jurisdiction over the case in view of the perfection of the appeal by the
accused on the very date the decision was promulgated.
LORENZO JOSE, Petitioner, vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS and THE PEOPLE OF THE The records of Criminal Case 6237 were then elevated to the Court of
PHILIPPINES, Respondents. Appeals where petitioner as accused-appellant raised the issues of (1) an
erroneous conviction for illegal possession of explosives when there was no
proof of an essential element of the crime, and (2) erroneous denial of his
Francisco Carreon & Zosimo D. de Mesa for petitioner. motion to reopen the case for the reception of his permit to possess the
handgrenade. In his brief, Lorenzo Jose prayed for his acquittal or in the
Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Eulogio alternative for the remand of the case back to the trial court for a new trial.
Raquel-Santos and Solicitor Teodoro G. Bonifacio for respondents.
Resolving the appeal, respondent Appellate Court, rendered its decision of
MUÑOZ PALMA, J.: March 8, 1972, affirming the findings of fact and the judgment of conviction of
the court a quo, and declaring that no reversible error was committed by the
Petitioner Lorenzo Jose who was convicted of illegal possession of latter when it denied the reopening of the case as the court had lost its
explosives (handgrenade) and sentenced to suffer imprisonment of five "power to change, modify, or alter its decision."
years, seeks a new trial which was denied him by the Court of First Instance
of Pampanga, Branch III, and by respondent Court of Appeals. A motion for reconsideration and/or new trial was filed with a plea that
"assuming arguendo that the court a quo lacked jurisdiction to act upon
Petitioner thus poses one legal issue for the Court to resolve, viz: did appellant's motion for new trial because of the perfection of the appeal, this
respondent appellate court commit an error of law and gravely abuse its Honorable Court — before which said motion was reiterated and which has
discretion when it denied petitioner's motion for new trial "for the reception of competence to act thereon — should have granted the same if for no other
(1) the written permit of petitioner to possess and use handgrenade, and (2) reason than to prevent a miscarriage of justice which is the inevitable result
the written appointment of petitioner as PC agent with Code No. P-36-68 and of its denial." 7 This motion for reconsideration was denied in respondent
code Name 'Safari' (both documents are dated 31 January 1968)" court's resolution of April 3, 1974.

The following incidents are not in dispute: A second motion for reconsideration and/or new trial was filed by Lorenzo
Jose but this was also denied by the appellate court in a Resolution
On February 8, 1968, at the poblacion of Floridablanca, Pampanga, promulgated on July 24, 1974.
petitioner Jose was arrested by the local police leading to the filing with the
Court of First Instance of Pampanga, Branch III of several criminal cases Forthwith, appellant Lorenzo Jose assisted by counsel, Atty. Francisco
against him to wit: illegal discharge of firearm (Crim. Case 6235), robbery Carreon, filed with Us this petition for review which We denied outright on
(Crim. Case 6236) and illegal possession of explosives (Crim. Case 6237). September 6, 1974, "the question raised being factual and for insufficient
These three cases were jointly tried after which the trial judge, Hon. Honorio showing that the finding of facts by respondent court are unsupported by
Romero, in a decision dated December 15, 1969, and promulgated on substantial evidence, and for lack of merit."
January 15, 1970 acquitted accused Lorenzo Jose of illegal discharge of
firearm and robbery, but convicted him for illegal possession of the A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner stressing that the
handgrenade that was found on his person at the time of his arrest. following grounds should justify this Court to review the ruling of respondent
appellate court to wit:
1. Petitioners's plight is of compelling human and legal interest, and his Dear Solicitor General Mendoza:
being imprisoned for five (5) years when there is indubitable exculpatory
evidence on hand is a result so harsh that the Honorable Court may well With reference to your letter of December 5, 1974, please be informed that
undertake a review of the case just to satisfy itself of the justice and Colonel Pedrito C. de Guzman who is now Provincial of Sorsogon
inevitability of such a result; Constabulary Command, confirmed that he executed an affidavit on May 4,
2. A question of substance not heretofore determined by the Honorable 1974 at Sorsogon, Sorsogon stating that he appointed Mr. Lorenzo Jose of
Court is involved, as the evidence sought to be introduced at the new Betis, Guagua, Pampanga as PC Agent on January 31, 1968.
trial is, technically, not newly discovered: and
3. The denial of a new trial in the circumstances mentioned in his above- The incumbent Provincial Commander of Pampanga Constabulary
quoted statement of the main legal issue, is contrary to the decisions of
Command also confirmed the appointment of Lorenzo Jose as PC agent
this Honorable Court because under these decisions, the new trial
during the year 1968.
should have been granted since there is a 'strong, compelling reason' in
this case for granting the relief prayed for, such strong compelling reason
being the very strong probability of petitioner's acquittal if a new trial Attached herewith pertinent papers related to the said appointment.
were granted. (Workmen's Insurance Co. vs. Augusto, 40 SCRA 123;
Sison vs. Gatchalian, 51 SCRA 262; Rubio vs. Mariano 52 SCRA 338; Sincerely yours,
Montecines vs. Court of Appeals, 53 SCRA 14; Posadas vs. Court of
Appeals, L-38071, April 25, 1974; please see Annotation: 52 SCRA 346 (Sgd.) FIDEL V. RAMOS
... (pp. 157-158, rollo)
FIDEL V. RAMOS
The Solicitor General opposed the granting of the foregoing motion for
reconsideration claiming that there was neither a denial of "substantial justice Major General, AFP
nor error of any sort on the part of respondent Court of Appeals, affirming the
judgment of convinction," and that it being admitted by petitioner that the
Chief of Constabulary (p. 191, rollo)
evidence sought to be introduced by him at the new trial is not newly
discovered evidence, the denial of the new trial "visibly papers as correct".
This Opposition drew a lengthy reply from petitioner's counsel. Inclosure:

On February 13, 1975, a Manifestation was submitted by the Solicitor Appointmenmt paper of subject person dtd
General informing the Court that in view of the " Persistence of accused
petitioner Lorenzo Jose both before this Honorable Court and respondent Jan. 31, 1968 with Personal History Statement
Court of Appeals as to his alleged existing appointment as PC Agent and/or
authority to handgrenade," in the interest of justice, he was constrained to Annex B is the appointment dated January 31, 1968 of petitioner Lorenzo
make pertinent inquiries from the PC Chief, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos who in Jose as a PC Agent of the Pampanga Constabulary Command with Code
reply sent his letter dated December 27, 1974 with enclosures, xerox copies Number P-36-68 and Code Nanie "Safari" with expiration on December 31,
of which are being attached to the manifestation as Annexes A, B, C, C-1 1968, the pertinent portion of which We quote:
and D.
This Headquarters will, from time to time, provide our firearms and such
Annex A of the above-mentioned Manifestation of the Solicitor General other equipment which it may deem necessary for your personal protection
reads: on the need basis which will be covered by separate written authority. (p.
192, rollo)
Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza
In a Resolution of February 21, 1975, the Court resolved to set aside the
Padre Faura, Manila denial of this petition for review, to give due course and consider the Petition
as a special civil action. In another Resolution of April 4, 1975, the parties and increase or reduce the penalty imposed by the trial court, remand the
were given time to submit their respective memorandum. case to the Court of First Instance for new trial or retrial, or dismiss the case.

This is a situation where a rigid application of rules of procedure must bow to Petitioner asserts, and correctly so, that the authority of respondent appellate
the overriding goal of courts of justice to render justice where justice is due-to court over an appealed case is broad and ample enough to embrace
secure to every individual all possible legal means to prove his innocence of situations as the instant case where the court may grant a new trial or a
a crime of which he is charged. The failure of the Court of Appeals to retrial for reasons other than that provided in Section 13 of the same Rule, or
appreciate the merits of the situation, involving as it does the liberty of an Section 2, Rule 121 of the Rules of Court. While Section 13, Rule 124, and
individual, thereby closing its ear to a plea that a miscarriage of justice be Section 2, Rule 121, provide for specific grounds for a new trial, i.e. newly
averted, constitutes a grave abuse of discretion which calls for relief from this discovered evidence, and errors of law or irregularities committed during the
Court. trial. Section 11, Rule 124 quoted above does not so specify, thereby leaving
to the sound discretion of the court the determination, on a case to case
At the outset, We give due credit to the Solicitor General and his staff for basis, of what would constitute meritorious circumstances warranting a new
upholding the time-honored principle set forth in perspicuous terms by this trial or re-trial.
Court in Suarez vs. Platon, et al that a prosecuting officer, as the
representative of a sovereignty whose obligation and interest in a criminal Surely, the Rules of Court were conceived and promulgate to aid and not to
prosecution is not that it shall win a case but that justice shall be done, has obstruct the proper administration of justice, to set forth guidelines in the
the solemn responsibility to assure the public that while guilt shall not dispensation of justice but not to bind and chain the hand that dispense
escape, innocene shall not suffer. (69 Phil. 556, 564-565, qouting Justice justice, for otherwise, courts will be mere slaves to or robots of technical
Sutherland of the U.S. Supreme Court in 69 U.S. Law Review, June, 1935, rules, shorn of judicial discretion.
No. 6, p. 309) The Solicitor General now concedes that the interests of
justice will best be served by remanding this case to the court of origin for a Thus, admittedly, courts may suspend its own rules or except a case from
new trial. them for the purposes of justice or, in a proper case, disregard them. In this
jurisdiction, in not a. few instances, this Court ordered a new trial in criminal
We do not question the correctness of the findings of the Court of Appeals cases on grounds not mentioned in the statute, vis retraction of
that the evidence sought to be presented by the petitioner do not fall under witness, negligence or incompetency of counsel. Improvident plea of
the category of newly-discovered evidence because the same — his alleged guilty, disqualification of an attorney de oficio to represent the accused in the
appointment as an agent of the Philippine Constabulary and a permit to trial court, and where a judgment was rendered on a stipulation of facts
possess a handgrenade — were supposed to be known to petitioner and entered into by both the prosecution and the defense.
existing at the time of trial and not discovered only thereafter.
Characteristically, a new trial has been described as a new invention to
It is indeed an established rule that for a new trial to be granted on the temper the severity of a judgment or prevent the failure of justice.
ground of newly discovered evidence, it must be shown that (a) the evidence
was discovered after trial; (b) such evidence could not have been discovered Petitioner cites certain peculiar circumstances obtaining in the case now
and produced at the trial even with the exercise of reasonable diligence; (c) before Us which may be classified as exceptional enough to warrant a new
the evidence is material, not merely cumulative, corroborative, or trial if only to afford him an opportunity to establish his innocence of the crime
impeaching; and (d) it must go to the merits as ought to produce a different charged.
result if admitted.
Thus — petitioner was facing a criminal prosecution for illegal possession of
However, petitioner herein does not justify his motion for a new trial on newly a handgrenade in the court below. He claimed to be an agent of the
discovered evidence, but rather on broader grounds of substantial justice Philippine Constabulary with a permit to possess explosives such as the
under Sec. 11, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court which provides: handgrenade in question. However, he found himself in a situation where he
had to make a choice — reveal his Identity as an undercover agent of the
Power of appellate court on appeal. — Upon appeal from a judgement of the Philippine Constabulary assigned to perform intelligence work on subversive
Court of First Instance, the appellate court may affirm or modify the judgment activities and face possible reprisals or even liquidation at the hands of the
dissidents considering that Floridablanca the site of the incident, was in the
heart of "Huklandia", or ride on the hope of a possible exoneration or
acquittal based on insufficiency of the evidence of the prosecution. Without
revealing his Identity as an agent of the Philippine Constabulary, he claimed
before the trial judge that he had a permit to possess the handgrenade and
prayed for time to present the same. The permit however could not be
produced because it would reveal his intelligence work activities. Came the
judgment of conviction and with it the staggering impact of a five-year
imprisonment. The competent authorities then realized that it was unjust for
this man to go to jail for a crime he had not committed, hence, came the
desired evidence concerning petitioner's appointment as a Philippine
Constabulary agent and his authority to possess a handgrenade for the
protection of his person, but, it was too late according to the trial court
because in the meantime the accused had perfected his appeal.

We find and hold that the above circumstances justify a reopening of


petitioner's cas to afford him the opportunity of producing exculpating
exculpating evidence. An outright acquittal from this Court which petitioner
seeks as an alternative relief is not As correctly stressed by the Solicitor
General, the People is to be given the chance of examining the documentary
sought to be produced, and of cross-examining the persons who executed
the same, as well as the accused himself, now petitioner, on his explanation
for the non-production of the of the evidence during the trial.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, We hereby set aside the judgment of conviction


of the herein petitioner, Lorenzo Jose, and remand the case to the court a
quo for a new trial only for purpose of allowing said accused to present
additional evidence in his defense. The trial court shall inform this Court of
the final outcome of the case within a reasonable time. Without
pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines Eastern Visayas, to the exclusion of all the other eight (8) chapters. Atty.
SUPREME COURT Maglana cited the rotation rule under Bar Matter No. 491 and argued that
Manila since 1989 or the start of the implementation of the rotation rule, only IBP
Samar Chapter had not served as Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas.
EN BANC
Atty. Opinion, the candidate of the IBP Eastern Samar Chapter, thereafter,
B.M. No. 2713, June 10, 2014 took the floor and manifested that before he decided to run for Governor, he
sought the opinion of the IBP if he was still qualified to run considering that
ATTY. AILEEN R. MAGLANA, Complainant, vs. he also ran for Governor and lost in the immediately preceding term. Atty.
ATTY. JOSE VICENTE R. OPINION, Respondent. Opinion stated that he received an opinion dated April 2, 2013 from Governor
Vicente M. Joyas, Chairman of the IBP Executive Committee that pertinently
stated:
RESOLUTION
This has reference to your Letter dated March 15, 2013 addressed to former
BRION, J.: IBP President Roan I. Libarios seeking clarification on your Chapter’s
qualification to field a candidate for Governor on May 25, 2013.
Before the Court is the Appeal dated June 11, 2013 (with Urgent Motion to
Prohibit Protestant-Appellee to Participate in the Election for Executive Vice Please be informed that your having lost the Governorship elections for
President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines [IBP] Set on June 15, 2013) Eastern Visayas in 2011 does not disqualify your Chapter from seeking an
filed by Atty. Aileen R. Maglana, President of IBP Samar Chapter, assailing election for Governorship of Eastern Visayas Region. Thus, under the
the June 7, 2013 decision of the IBP Board of Governors (BOG). present set up, the IBP Chapters of Eastern Samar, Samar, and Biliran are
qualified to field their respective candidate for the scheduled Regional
This BOG decision granted the election protest of Atty. Jose Vicente R. Elections on May 25, 2013.
Opinion; declared Atty. Opinion as eligible to run for Governor of IBP Eastern
Visayas for the 2013-2015 term; annulled the proclamation of Atty. Maglana Atty. Opinion also manifested that in the 2011 Regional Elections for IBP
as Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas; and proclaimed Atty. Opinion as the Eastern Visayas, the representative of IBP Samar Chapter, Judge Amanzar,
duly elected Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015 term. waived "the votes as he cannot pursue an election at that time." Instead,
Atty. Opinion was "asked to run." The Chapter President of Samar in 2011,
The Antecedents however, categorically denied the waiver and said, "I did not pursue my
intentions, although I had one at that time to run for governor, because I was
On May 25, 2013, thirteen (13) delegates of the IBP Eastern Visayas Region financially handicapped... but I did not categorically waive our right to the
gathered at the Session Hall of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 24, governorship, because I believe that waiver should be, - should not be
Bulwagan ng Katarungan, Capitol Site, Maasin, Leyte, to elect the Governor implied. I categorically say that I did not waive my right, or the right of the
of their region for the 2013-2015 term. Also present during the meeting were chapter to run for governor."
the Court’s designated observer, Judge Bethany G. Kapili (Executive Judge
of the RTC, Branch 24, Maasin, Leyte), other lawyers of the Southern Leyte Atty. Jose Aguilar Grapilon, the delegate from Biliran, meanwhile pointed out
Chapter and outgoing Governor Manuel Enage, Jr. Governor Enage presided that Governor Joyas as Chairman of the IBP Executive Committee had no
over the election. He then called the election to order and opened the authority to make the above-cited pronouncement; it is only the Supreme
nominations for the position of Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas for the Court that has the authority to determine the qualified chapters in the region.
2013-2015 term.
After heated debates on the proper interpretation of the rotation rule to the
Upon a motion duly seconded, Atty. Maglana - the incumbent President of present case, Governor Enage eventually ruled that Atty. Opinion was
IBP Samar Chapter - was nominated for the position of Governor. Atty. disqualified from running for the position of Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas.
Maglana then moved that Governor Enage declare that only IBP Samar Thereafter, some delegates protested the decision of Governor Enage which
Chapter was qualified to be voted upon for the position of Governor for IBP prompted him to call a recess. When the session resumed, Atty. Malig-on,
Vice President of IBP Cebu Chapter, moved that the election be suspended turn in the rotation, should be allowed to reclaim its right to the
and the issue of Atty. Opinion’s objection to Governor Enage’s ruling be governorship.18
resolved by the IBP BOG. Governor Enage, however, denied this motion
and, thereafter, ordered the distribution of the ballots. Second, she noted that since Bar Matter No. 586, dated May 14, 1991,
mandated the strict implementation of the rotation rule, and based on IBP
The counting of the ballots revealed that only ten (10) out of the eleven (11) records, all chapters in the region, except IBP Samar Chapter, have already
ballots cast were filled up. Governor Enage counted the votes, with six (6) had their turn in the rotation. Thus, she argued that in order for the rotation
votes in favor of Atty. Opinion considered as stray votes and four (4) votes in cycle in the region to be completed, IBP Samar Chapter, which had not yet
favor of Atty. Maglana. He then proceeded to proclaim Atty. Maglana as the had its turn in the rotation, should be deemed the only qualified chapter to
duly elected Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas in view of the disqualification field its candidate for governor in the May 25, 2013 regional elections.
of the other nominee, Atty. Opinion.
Third, she contended that even if the rotation cycle is reckoned from 1973, it
The Protest is still IBP Samar Chapter’s turn in the rotation, pursuant to the rotation rule
under Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws. She notes
On May 27, 2013, Atty. Opinion filed an election protest with the IBP BOG. In that with the election of Governor Enage in the 2011-2013 term, the
support of his election protest, Atty. Opinion raised two points. remaining chapters that have not served as governor are Samar, Biliran and
Eastern Samar Chapters. Thus, pursuant to Section 39, IBP Samar Chapter
First, he noted that since its introduction in 1990, the rotation rule had not should be able to field its candidate for governor first, ahead of Biliran and
been followed in the elections for Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas since Eastern Samar Chapters.
Cebu Province, Cebu City, Bohol and Northern Samar have had two elected
governors each, as opposed to other chapters which only had one governor The IBP BOG Decision
elected. Since the rotation rule was not followed, IBP Eastern Samar Chapter
cannot be disqualified to run since it was merely exercising its right to run for In its June 7, 2013 decision, the IBP BOG granted the election protest of
the second time in the same manner as that of the other chapters that had Atty. Opinion and declared him the duly elected Governor of IBP Eastern
elected two governors. Visayas for the 2013-2015 term.

Second, he emphasized that IBP Samar Chapter had waived its turn in the First, the IBP BOG held that IBP Samar waived its turn in the first rotation
rotation when it did not field a candidate for Governor in the 2007, 2009 and cycle, from 1989 to 2007. It noted that under the rotation rule, the
2011 elections. He notes that IBP Samar Chapter should not be allowed to governorship of a region shall rotate once in as many as the number of
assert its turn in the rotation at anytime; otherwise, it would disrupt the chapters there are in the region, to give every chapter a chance to represent
sequence considering it "follows Cebu City sequence wise." Thus, for the the region in the IBP BOG. In the case of IBP Eastern Visayas, the region
2013 regional elections, both Eastern Samar and Samar should have been consists of nine (9) chapters, thus the cycle consists of nine governorship
declared eligible to run for Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas. terms (from 1989 to 2007). Based on the records, it is clear that four chapters
have been represented twice; IBP Eastern Samar was represented once
In her Comment, Atty. Maglana argued three points. while IBP Samar was never represented at all.

First, IBP Samar Chapter did not waive its turn in the rotation. In fact, the Based on these considerations, the IBP BOG concluded that IBP Samar
former IBP Samar Chapter President, Atty. Cesar Mabansag, categorically Chapter effectively waived its turn in the rotation order when it did not field
denied, during the May 25,2013 regional elections, that he had waived the any candidate from 1989 to 2007,as well as when it did not invoke the
right of IBP Samar Chapter to the governorship. Even if there was a waiver rotation rule to challenge the nominations of those candidates whose
during the 2011 election, IBP Samar Chapter can reclaim its right to the chapters had already been previously represented in the rotation cycle.
governorship before the rotation is completed, pursuant to Section 39, Article
VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws. Thus, for the 2013-2015 term, IBP Second, the IBP BOG ruled that the first rotation cycle had already
Samar Chapter, which remains to be the only chapter that did not have its terminated with the 2005 to 2007 term despite the lack of representation from
Eastern Samar as it has effectively waived its turn in the first rotation cycle. It
emphasized that the rotation rule is not absolute and is subject to waiver, waiver, Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws allows the
such as when the chapters, in the order of rotation, opt not to file or nominate chapter that waived its turn in the rotation order to reclaim its right at any time
their own candidates for governor during the election regularly done for that before the rotation is completed.
purpose. It also held that Atty. Maglana’s contentions that IBP Eastern
Samar can reclaim the governorship at any time and that the first rotation Third, the rotation cycle in the IBP Eastern Visayas region can only be
cycle cannot be completed unless IBP Eastern Samar has had its turn are completed once a nominee from IBP Samar Chapter had served as
completely anathema to the concept of the rotation cycle; the rotation cycle Governor for the 2013-2015 term. The rotation cycle cannot simply be
should run its course and the rotation in the region cannot be held hostage deemed complete by just equating the number of terms with the number of
by any one chapter. chapters in the region. Atty. Maglana contends that the situation of IBP
Samar Chapter is the same as that of Romblon Chapter in 2009 when the
Third, the IBP BOG found that based on the rotation by exclusion rule (i.e., Court, in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election in the
once a member of the chapter is elected as governor, his or her chapter Integrated Bar of the Philippines, affirmed IBP Romblon Chapter’s right to the
would be excluded in the next turn until all have taken turns in the rotation 2009-2011 term despite the fact that there were other chapters in the
cycle), the six (6) remaining chapters in the region were actually qualified to Western Visayas region that had served more than one term.
field a candidate for governor in the May 25, 2013 regional elections. It also
noted that the IBP Eastern Visayas region is actually already in its second On July 2, 2013, the Court issued a Resolution denying Atty. Maglana’s
rotation cycle with governors from Leyte (2007-2009), Bohol (2009-2011) and prayer to restrain Atty. Opinion from voting in the election on June 15, 2013,
Southern Leyte (2011-2013) already having served the region. In the present the same having become moot and academic. In the same Resolution, the
case, both IBP Eastern Samar and IBP Samar were actually qualified to field Court also required Atty. Maglana to furnish the Court, within five (5) days
their candidates for Governor, alongside IBP Cebu City, IBP Cebu Province, from notice, a certified true copy of the IBP BOG decision dated June 7,
IBP Biliran and IBP Northern Samar Chapters. 2013.

Fourth, the IBP BOG concluded that Atty. Opinion, who was actually a On August 3, 2013, Atty. Maglana submitted her Compliance with the Court’s
qualified candidate for Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas, should be declared directive in its July 2, 2013 Resolution.
the duly elected Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015 term,
considering that he garnered the majority six (6) votes, as opposed to the
The Issues for Resolution
minority four (4) votes garnered by Atty. Maglana.
The core issues raised by the present Appeal are the following:
The Appeal
1. Whether the first rotation cycle in IBP Eastern Visayas, since the
On June 11, 2013, Atty. Maglana filed the present Appeal (With Urgent
implementation of Bar Matter No. 491, has been completed;
Motion to Prohibit Protestant-Appellee to Participate in the Election for
2. Whether IBP Samar Chapter waived its turn in the rotation order so that
Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Set on June it can no longer claim its right to the governorship position for the 2013-
15, 2013). In support of her Appeal, Atty. Maglana submits the following 2015 term;
arguments:
3. Whether IBP Samar Chapter is the only qualified chapter to field a
candidate for governor in IBP Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015 term;
First, IBP Samar Chapter is the only qualified chapter to field a candidate for and
governor for the 2013-2015 term, to the exclusion of all other chapters in the 4. Whether Atty. Opinion should be declared the duly elected Governor for
IBP Eastern Visayas region. She emphasizes that based on the records, IBP IBP Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015 term.
Samar Chapter clearly had never served as governor for IBP Eastern
Visayas since the introduction of Bar Matter No. 491 in 1989.
Our Ruling

Second, IBP Samar Chapter never waived its turn in the rotation cycle We affirm the IBP BOG decision dated June 7, 2013 and declare Atty.
because under the rotation by exclusion scheme, it does not know when its Opinion the duly elected Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015
turn to serve as governor would be. Even assuming that there had been a
term.
We begin with a brief background on the organizational structure of the IBP. shall be reckoned with or considered in determining who should be the
The IBP is divided into nine (9) geographic regions, namely: Northern Luzon, governor to be selected from the different chapters to represent the region in
Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicolandia, Greater Manila, Western the Board of Governors."
Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao and Eastern Mindanao.
Despite the call for strict implementation of the rotation rule under Bar Matter
Each of these regions is subdivided into chapters and is represented by a No. 586 in 1991, the Court amended Section 39, Article VI of the IBP By-
Governor elected by delegates from among the member-chapters of each Laws only in 2010 in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the
region. In the case of IBP Eastern Visayas, the region is composed of nine Election in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, by mandating the mandatory
(9) chapters, namely: and strict implementation of the rotation rule, as well as recognizing that the
rotation rule is subject to waivers by the chapters of the regions. The
1. Biliran provision, as further amended, now reads:
2. Bohol
3. Cebu Province Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. – At least one (1)
4. Cebu City month before the national convention the delegates from each region shall
5. Eastern Samar elect the Governor for their region, who shall be chosen by rotation which is
6. Leyte mandatory and shall be strictly implemented among the Chapters in the
7. Northern Samar region. When a Chapter waives its turn in the rotation order, its place shall
8. Samar redound to the next Chapter in the line. Nevertheless, the former may reclaim
9. Southern Leyte its right to the Governorship at any time before the rotation is completed;
otherwise, it will have to wait for its turn in the next round, in the same place
At least one (1) month before the national convention, the delegates from that it had in the round completed.
each region shall elect the Governor for their region, who shall be chosen by
rotation. Broken down into its components, Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the
IBP By-Laws contains the following elements:
These nine (9) Governors constitute the IBP BOG which governs and has
general charge of the IBP’s affairs and activities. Aside from the Governors, 1. Delegates from each region shall elect the governor for their region who
the other national officers of the IBP are: the IBP President, the EVP, the shall be chosen by rotation;
National Secretary, the National Treasurer, and the heads of the National 2. Rotation of the governorship of each region shall be mandatory and to
Committees. be strictly implemented;
3. A chapter may waive its turn in the rotation order which shall redound to
The Rotation Rule the next chapter in the line; and
4. The chapter that waived its turn may reclaim its right to the
The logical starting point in resolving the present matter before us is Section governorship at any time before the rotation is completed; otherwise, it
39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws, as amended by Bar Matter No. 491. This will have to wait for its turn in the next round, in the same place that it
had in the round completed.
provision established the rotation rule in the IBP. The provision states:

Elements a, c and d are key elements that are decisive in resolving the
SEC. 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. – At least one (1) month
before the national convention the delegates from each region shall elect the present controversy. As far as element (a) is concerned, the problem relates
governor for their region, the choice of which shall as much as possible be to the element of rotation where the manner of implementation is the
disputed issue. Elements (c) and (d) also assume significance because of
rotated among the chapters in the region.
the assertion of waiver on the part of IBP Samar Chapter of its right to the
governorship.
In its Resolution in Bar Matter No. 586 dated May 16, 1991, the Court
decreed without amending Section 39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws that the
rotation rule under Sections 37 and 39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws should
be strictly implemented "so that all prior elections for governor in the region
As has been interpreted and applied by the Court in the past, the rotation rule 1993-1995 Agustinus V. Gonzaga Bohol
under Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws actually
consists of two underlying directives. 1995-1997 Jose Aguila Grapilon Biliran

First is the directive for the mandatory and strict implementation of the 1997-1999 Kenny A.H. Tantuico Northern Samar
rotation rule. The rule mandates that the governorship of a region shall rotate
once in as many terms as there may be chapters in the region. This serves 1999-2001 Celestino B. Sabate Eastern Samar
the purpose of giving every chapter a chance to represent the region in the
IBP BOG.
2001-2003 Emil L. Ong Northern Samar
Second is the exception from the mandatory and strict implementation of the
rotation rule. This exception would allow a chapter to waive its turn in the 2003-2005 Manuel M. Monzon Cebu Province
rotation order, subject to its right to reclaim the governorship at any time
before the rotation is completed. Thus, as the Court held in In the Matter of 2005-2007 Manuel P. Legaspi Cebu City
the Brewing Controversies in the Election in the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, "[t]he rotation rule is not absolute but subject to waiver as when 2007-2009 Evergisto S. Escalon Leyte
the chapters in the order of rotation opted not to field or nominate their own
candidates for Governor during the election regularly done for that purpose." 2009-2011 Roland B. Inting Bohol

The Operation of the Rotation System in IBP Eastern Visayas 2011-2013 Manuel L. Enage, Jr. Southern Leyte

Pursuant to Bar Matter No. 491, the delegates for the 1989-1991 term 2013-2015 Disputed Disputed
elected Atty. Benedict H. Alo of Cebu Province as Governor of IBP Eastern
Visayas. This development ushered in the implementation of the rotation
1. The First rotation cycle has been completed in 2007.
system for the governorship of IBP Eastern Visayas. Thus, the rotational
cycle should be counted from the time of Bar Matter No. 491, when the Court
provided for the rotation system. This term (1989-1991) constituted the first Counting from the governorship of Atty. Benedicto H. Alo of IBP Cebu
"turn" in the cycle and should be considered the starting point for Province Chapter, the first rotation cycle of governors, consisting of nine (9)
consideration in resolving the various aspects of the present controversy. governorship terms from 1989 to 2007, followed the following pattern and
Note, however, that part of this term was under a caretaker that served as a succession:
preliminary and preparatory measure under the developments that initiated
Bar Matter No. 491. 1. Cebu Province - Benedicto H. Alo, 1990-1991
2. Cebu City - Baldomero C. Estenzo, 1991-1993
The tabulation below shows the election developments for the position of 3. Bohol - Agustinus V. Gonzaga, 1993-1995
Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas from the 1989-1991 term up to the 4. Biliran - Jose Aguila Grapilon, 1995-1997
present, viz: 5. Northern Samar - Kenny A.H. Tantuico, 1997-1999
6. Eastern Samar - Celestino B. Sabate, 1999-2001
7. Northern Samar - Emil L. Ong, 2001-2003
Term Elected Governors Chapter
8. Cebu Province - Manuel M. Monzon, 2003-2005
9. Cebu City - Manuel P.Legaspi, 2005-2007
1989-1990 Caretaker Board N/A
leaving three chapters – Samar, Leyte and Southern Leyte – with no
1990-1991 Benedicto H. Alo Cebu Province governor elected to represent the chapter’s slot in the rotation. Pursuant to
the rotational rule, the governorship of a region shall rotate once in as many
1991-1993 Baldomero C. Estenzo Cebu City terms as there may be chapters in the region, to give every chapter a chance
to represent the region in the IBP BOG. However, not every chapter was the rotation rule. The region cannot be held hostage indefinitely by one
represented in the first rotational cycle. As the IBP BOG noted, there were chapter. The rotation has to run its course. Indeed the flaw of protestee’s
instances when the Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas came from the same reasoning would be even more apparent if the issue of the election of the
chapter, such as Northern Samar (1997-1999 and 2001-2003), Cebu Executive Vice President would come into play inasmuch as the Samar
Province (1990-1991 and 2003-2005) and Cebu City (1991-1993 and 2005- Chapter could then invoke its perceived right to the governorship when it is
2007). the turn of Eastern Visayas Region to have an EVP elected from its ranks,
thus, giving it an undue advantage over the other chapters in the region.
These "aberrant" developments, strictly speaking, sidetracked the smooth
and proper implementation of the rotation rule in the first rotational cycle that The dissent, however, emphasizes that the preferred policy as mandated in
started with the 1990-1991 term of IBP Cebu Province and which should Section 39, Article VI, as amended of the IBP By-Laws, is the mandatory and
have ended in the 2005-2007 term with all the chapters, including Samar, strict implementation of the rotation by exclusion rule. The dissent posits that
Leyte and Southern Leyte, given the chance to be governor. Stated unless and until IBP Samar Chapter had actually been given the opportunity
otherwise, had the chapters strictly and mandatorily followed the rotation to seat as Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas, the first rotation cycle for the
rule, the first rotational cycle should have been completed in 2007. position of IBP Eastern Visayas cannot be considered complete.

We cannot sustain Atty. Maglana’s arguments, that: (1) the first rotation cycle The dissent’s reliance on the mandatory and strict implementation of the
in IBP Eastern Visayas region had not been completed in 2007; and (2) that rotation by exclusion rule, as mandated by Section 39, as amended, Article
the rotation cycle can only be completed once a nominee from IBP Samar VI of the IBP By-Laws, is inaccurate. Despite the amendment of Section 39,
Chapter had served as governor for the 2013-2015 term, for two reasons. Article VI of the IBP By-Laws mandating the strict implementation of the
rotation by exclusion rule, the Court cannot ignore the reality that prior to the
First, as the IBP BOG established, the primary reason why some chapters, present amendment (i.e., from the 1989-1991 term until December 2010), the
such as Northern Samar, Cebu Province and Cebu City, were represented prevailing rotation rule was not mandatory; the choice of governor should
twice (in the first rotation cycle) was because Samar either did not field any only be rotated as much as possible among the chapters of the region.
candidate from 1989 to 2007 or it failed to invoke the rotation rule to
challenge the nominations of those candidates whose chapters had already Note that this rule even prevailed after the first rotation cycle of governors,
been represented in the rotation cycle. We agree with the IBP BOG that consisting of nine governorship terms from 1989 to 2007. Thus, the dissent
Samar Chapter effectively waived its turn in the rotation order, as will be cannot simply apply Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws
further explained below. Because of this waiver of its turn in the first rotation in the present case because this amendment calling for the strict
cycle, we conclude that the first rotation cycle had been completed in 2007. implementation of the rotation rule cannot be interpreted retroactively, but
only prospectively, so that it would only take effect in the 2011-2013 term.
Second, Atty. Maglana cannot simply reclaim IBP Samar Chapter’s right to
the governorship in the 2013-2015 term because it is contrary to Section 39, As previously emphasized, not every chapter was represented in the first
Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws. This provision states that the rotation cycle; there were three instances when the Governor of IBP Eastern
chapter which has waived its turn in the rotation cycle may reclaim its right to Visayas came from the same Chapter, such as the case of Northern Samar,
the governorship at any time before the rotation is completed. Having been Cebu Province and Cebu City. These aberrant developments can only be
established that the first rotational cycle had been completed in the 2005- justified under the "as much as possible" qualifier cited above. Based on
2007 term, IBP Samar Chapter can no longer belatedly reclaim its right to the these considerations and from a practical perspective, we can reasonably
governorship in the 2013-2015 term as it should have exercised its claim on conclude that the first rotation cycle has been completed in 2007 despite the
or before the completion of the first rotation cycle in 2007. In this regard, we non-participation of Samar, Leyte and Southern Leyte, after considering the
quote with approval the disquisition of the IBP BOG: following premises:

Moreover, protestee’s view that the Samar chapter, by virtue of its being the i. Bar Matter No. 491 lays down the starting point of the IBP's
only chapter that has yet to have its turn as governor in the rotation rule era, rotation system that called for the election of a governor for a
can reclaim the governorship at any time it opts to and that the rotation cycle region to be rotated as much as possible among the chapters of
cannot be deemed completed until it does is anathema to the very concept of the region;
ii. This rule on rotation prevailed until the amendment of Section 39, with the Constitution, laws and regulations, but also as may be necessary,
Article VI of the IBP By-Laws on December 14, 2010 decreeing the practicable and appropriate in light of prevailing circumstances.
mandatory and strict implementation of the rotation rule; and
iii. The recent amendment of Section 39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws Pursuant to the Court's power of supervision over the IBP, the Court already
should be interpreted prospectively so that it would only take effect spoke decisively on the issue of waiver under Section 39, Article VI, as
from the 2011-2013 term. amended, of the IBP By-Laws in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies
in the Election in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. As mentioned, the
2. IBP Samar Chapter waived its turn in the first rotation cycle. Court ruled that the rotation rule under Section 39 is not absolute, but is
subject to a waiver, as when a chapter in the order of the rotation opts not to
As mentioned, the rotation rule under Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of field or nominate a candidate for governor during the election regularly called
the IBP By-Laws is not absolute as it is subject to a waiver, as when a for that purpose. Notably, the Court in that case also established the
chapter in the order of rotation opts not to field or nominate its candidate for standards by which a chapter may be deemed to have waived its turn in the
governor during the election regularly called for the purpose. The dissent, rotation cycle under Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws.
however, posits that IBP Samar Chapter did not waive its turn in the rotation Thus, the dissent's reliance on the standards of waiver of rights under civil
cycle because there was no clear or unequivocal waiver on its part. law cannot simply prevail over the standards set by the Court in the Brewing
Controversies case.
First, the dissent notes that no express waiver was executed by the IBP
Samar Chapter to forego its turn in the rotation cycle. Second, the second In the Brewing Controversies case, the Court held that the six chapters in the
and third elements of a valid waiver were not proven. The dissent argues region that should strictly take precedence in the rotation rule over Lanao del
only during the election for governor for 2013-2015 that IBP Samar Chapter Sur Chapter (i.e., IBP Sarangani Chapter and the other five chapters) waived
could have been aware of its right to be the sole and only remaining Chapter their turn in the rotation order by not fielding a candidate for governor and by
that should vie for the position of Governor because it is only during that time failing to invoke the rotation rule to challenge the nominations from the latter.
that it becomes clear that it is the only remaining Chapter of IBP Eastern In ruling that Atty. Marohomsalic of Lanao del Sur Chapter was qualified to
Visayas which remains unrepresented in the IBP BOG. Lastly, the IBP By- run for governor in the 2009 elections, the Court noted that there were
Laws is silent on how and when the waiver should be made and whether or instances when the governor of Western Mindanao Region came from the
not the Chapter President or the Board of Directors is clothed with authority same chapter and that the other chapters opted not to field or nominate their
to waive the turn of the Chapter in the rotation cycle on behalf of its own candidates, thus:
members. Thus, the dissent concludes that it remains unclear that there was
a clear and unequivocal intention on the part of IBP Samar Chapter and its In the regular election of April 25, 2009, there is no dispute that the voting
members to waive its right to the governorship. delegates of IBP Western Mindanao Region voted into office Atty.
Marohomsalic of Lanao del Sur Chapter as Governor for the 2009-2011 term.
The dissent’s citation of Article 6 of the Civil Code and its application of the During the said election, his only rival was Atty. Benjamin Lanto who also
elements of a valid waiver of a right under civil law is misplaced. belongs to the same Lanao del Sur Chapter. A third candidate, Atty. Escobar
from the Sarangani Chapter, was nominated but he declined the nomination.
Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution mandates the Court’s power of
supervision over the IBP. In Garcia v. De Vera, the Court held that implicit in While the Committee points out that six (6) chapters in the region, including
the constitutional grant to the Supreme Court of the power to promulgate Sarangani, are entitled to precedence over the Lanao del Sur chapter in the
rules affecting the IBP (under Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution) is the order of rotation, the fact remains that not one of them nominated or fielded a
power to supervise all the activities of the IBP, including the election of its candidate from their respective ranks during the April 25, 2009 election.
officers. In administrative matters concerning the IBP, the Court can Neither did any one of them challenge the nominations of the Lanao del Sur
supervise the IBP by ensuring the legality and correctness of the exercise of Chapter based on the order of rotation.
its powers as to means and manner, and by interpreting for it the
constitutional provisions, laws and regulations affecting the means and By not fielding a candidate for Governor and by declining the nomination
manner of the exercise of its powers. For this reason, the IBP By-Laws raised in favor of its Chapter President (Atty. Escobar), the IBP Sarangani
mandates that the Court has the plenary power to amend, modify or repeal Chapter is deemed to have waived its turn in the rotation order. The same
the IBP By-Laws in accordance with policies it deems, not only consistent
can be said of the remaining chapters. They too are deemed to have waived was not represented at all. The IBP BOG also established that some
their turn in the rotation as they opted not to field or nominate a candidate chapters were represented twice during the first rotation cycle because
from among their respective members. Neither did they invoke the rotation Samar Chapter either did not field any candidate for governor from 1989 to
rule to challenge the nominations from the Lanao del Sur Chapter. On the 2007 or it did not invoke the rotation rule to challenge the nominations of
contrary, they fully expressed their concurrence to the cited nominations, those candidates whose chapters had already been previously represented
which may be interpreted as a waiver of their right to take their turn to in the rotation cycle. Based on these considerations and pursuant to the
represent the region in the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term. Court’s December 14, 2010 ruling, we conclude that IBP Eastern Samar
effectively waived its turn in the first rotation cycle.
It need not be stressed that, as cited by the Committee itself, there were
instances when the Governor of the Western Mindanao Region came from To justify its position that it is the sole Chapter qualified to field a candidate in
the same chapter such as ZAMBASULTA (1997-1999 & 1999-2001) and the 2013-2015 term, Atty. Maglana cites the December 14, 2010 Resolution
Sultan Kudarat (2003-2005 & 2007-2009). Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic could of the Court in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election in
not be faulted if the other chapters opted not to field or nominate their own the Integrated Bar of the Philippines where it upheld the turn of IBP Romblon
candidates. Having been validly nominated and duly proclaimed as the duly Chapter which then completed the rotation cycle in IBP Western Visayas
elected Governor of Western Mindanao, Atty. Marohomsalic therefore region.
deserves to assume his position during the remainder of the term.
The citation is also misplaced. In this case, the Court upheld the election of
It would have been a different story if another Chapter in the order of rotation Atty. Fortunato as Governor of IBP Western Visayas since he obtained the
fielded its own candidate or invoked the rotation rule to challenge Atty. highest number of votes and also because under the rotation rule, it was the
Marohomsalic’s nomination. But the record is bereft of any showing that his turn of the Romblon Chapter to represent IBP Western Visayas Region in the
nomination and subsequent election was challenged on that basis. If there IBP BOG. Contrary to Atty. Maglana’s contentions, the Court in that case
was any challenge at all, it merely referred to his nomination by Atty. never made a finding that there were also chapters that had two governors in
Macalawi which the Committee itself has found to be in order. Thus, no one cycle and that these second terms were considered as "aberrations."
compelling reason exists to disregard the electoral mandate and nullify the Furthermore, unlike the case of IBP Samar Chapter, the Court did not make
will of the voting delegates as expressed through the ballot. any finding regarding the waiver of the right to the governorship in IBP
Romblon Chapter’s case.
The "rotation rule" is not absolute but subject to waiver as when the chapters
in the order of rotation opted not to field or nominate their own candidates for c. IBP Samar Chapter is not the only qualified chapter to field a candidate for
Governor during the election regularly done for that purpose. If a validly governor for the 2013-2015 term.
nominated candidate obtains the highest number of votes in the election
conducted, his electoral mandate deserves to be respected unless obtained With the end of the first rotation cycle in 2007 during the term of Atty. Manuel
through fraud as established by evidence. Such is not the case here. P. Legaspi of IBP Cebu City Chapter, the election of Atty. Evergisto S.
Escalon of IBP Leyte Chapter in that same year effectively ushered in a fresh
Suffice it to say, the "rotation rule" should be applied in harmony with, and second rotation cycle in the IBP Eastern Visayas region.
not in derogation of, the sovereign will of the electorate as expressed through
the ballot. Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic cannot be divested and deprived of his Thus, the second rotation cycle for governor in the IBP Eastern Visayas
electoral mandate and victory. The order of rotation is not a rigid and region now follows the following pattern and succession:
inflexible rule as to bar its relaxation in exceptional and compelling
circumstances. 1. Leyte - Evergisto S.Escalon, 2007-2009
2. Bohol - Roland B. Inting, 2009-2011
The same facts obtain in the present case. As the IBP BOG noted, not all the 3. Southern Leyte - Manuel L.Enage, Jr., 2011-2013
nine (9) chapters of Eastern Visayas were able to field a governor for the first
rotation cycle from 1989 to 2007 since three chapters were represented
With the IBP Eastern Visayas region already in the second rotation cycle and
twice. IBP Eastern Samar Chapter, to which Atty. Opinion belongs, was with governors from Leyte, Bohol and Southern Leyte Chapters having
represented once while IBP Samar Chapter, which Atty. Maglana represents, served the region as starting points, Atty. Maglana’s position that IBP Samar
Chapter is the only remaining chapter qualified to field a candidate for 3. The proclamation of Atty. Aileen R. Maglana by Governor Manuel
governor in the 2013 -2015 term clearly fails. The rotation by exclusion rule Enage, Jr. be annulled since she failed to obtain the majority of the
provides that "once a member of [a] chapter is elected as Governor, his [or votes cast in the May 25, 2013 elections; and
her] chapter would be excluded in the next turn until all have taken their turns 4. Atty. Jose Vicente R. Opinion be declared the duly elected Governor
in the rotation cycle. Once a full rotation cycle ends and a fresh cycle of IBP Eastern Visayas region for the 2013-2015 term, having
commences, all the chapters in the region are once again entitled to vie but garnered the highest number of votes cast in the May 25, 2013
subject again to the rule on rotation by exclusion." elections.

Under this rule, considering that Leyte, Bohol and Southern Leyte Chapters SO ORDERED.
already served in the second rotation cycle, the six remaining chapters are
qualified to field their candidates for governor in the 2013-2015 term. Applied
in the present case, it is clear that both IBP Eastern Samar and IBP Samar,
along with Cebu Province, Cebu City, Biliran and Northern Samar Chapters,
are qualified to field their candidates in the May 25, 2013 regional elections in
the IBP Eastern Visayas region.

5. Atty. Opinion is the duly elected Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas for
the 2013-2015 term.

Based on the above considerations, we agree with the IBP BOG that
Governor Enage seriously erred in disqualifying Atty. Opinion as a candidate
and in declaring the six (6) votes he garnered as stray.

The election of Atty. Opinion is well-settled. He did not only come from the
chapter which is entitled to be elected for the position but also got the
majority of six (6) votes, as opposed to the four (4) votes garnered by Atty.
Maglana in the May 25, 2013 elections.

As the Court held in its December 14, 2010 Resolution in In the Matter of the
Brewing Controversies in the Election in the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, "[i]f a validly nominated candidate obtains the highest number of
votes in the election conducted, his electoral mandate deserves to be
respected unless obtained through fraud as established by evidence."

Similarly, such is not the case here and thus, Atty. Opinion should be
declared the duly elected Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas in the 2013-2015
term.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves that:

1. Atty. Jose Vicente R. Opinion is qualified to run for Governor of IBP


Eastern Visayas region for the 2013-2015 term;
2. The six (6) votes cast in favor of Atty. Jose Vicente R. Opinion are
valid votes and should be counted in his favor;
Republic of the Philippines 1. What is the correct interpretation of Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-
SUPREME COURT Laws which provides:
Manila
SEC. 31. Membership. The membership (of Delegates) shall consist of all the
EN BANC Chapter Presidents and, in the case of Chapters entitled to more than one
Delegate each, the Vice-Presidents of the Chapters and such additional
A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC, April 11, 2013 Delegates as the Chapters are entitled to. Unless the Vice-President is
already a Delegate, he shall be an alternate Delegate. Additional Delegates
and alternates shall in proper cases be elected by the Board of Officers of
IN THE MATTER OF THE BREWING CONTROVERSIES IN THE
the Chapter. Members of the Board of Governors who are not Delegates
ELECTIONS OF THE INTEGRA TED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES.
shall be members ex officio of the House, without the right to vote.
x-----------------------x
2. Who was validly elected Governor for the Greater Manila Region?
3. Who was validly elected Governor for Western Visayas Region?
A.C. No. 8292 4. Who was validly elected Governor for Western Mindanao Region?
5. Who was validly elected IBP Executive Vice President for the next
ATTYS. MARCIAL M. MAGSINO, MANUEL M. MARAMBA and NASSER term?
MARAHOMSALIC, Complainants, vs. 6. What is the liability, if any, of respondent Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan
ATTYS. ROGELIO A. VINLUAN, ABELARDO C. ESTRADA, BONIFACIO under the administrative complaint for grave professional misconduct,
T. BARANDON, JR., EVERGISTO S. ESCALON, and REYMUND JORGE violation of attorneys oath, and acts inimical to the IBP filed against
A. MERCADO, Respondents. him by Attys. Marcial Magsino, Manuel Maramba and Nasser
Marohomsalic?
RESOLUTION
Meanwhile, a Supplemental Complaint dated June 11, 2009 was received
CORONA, C.J.: from Attys. Magsino, Maramba and Marohomsalic regarding the earlier
complaint that they filed last May 21, 2009 against Atty. Vinluan.
This resolves the above matter involving the leadership controversy at the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the administrative case that was As such, then IBP President Feliciano M. Bautista and then Executive Vice
filed against some of the high-ranking officers of the IBP on account thereof. President (EVP) Vinluan agreed to submit their respective position papers on
the above issues and controversies. Also, Atty. Vinluan was required to file
I. Antecedents his answer to the administrative complaint against him.

The Court in an En Banc Resolution dated June 2, 2009 created a Special A Position Paper dated June 15, 2009 was then received from Atty. Vinluan.
(Investigating) Committee to look into the brewing controversies in the IBP Attys. Elpidio G. Soriano, III and Erwin M. Fortunato also filed their Position
elections, specifically in the elections of Vice-President for the Greater Manila Papers both dated June 15, 2009. It appears that an earlier Position Paper
Region and Executive Vice-President of the IBP itself xxx and any other also dated June 15, 2009 was submitted by Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto.
election controversy involving other chapters of the IBP, if any, that includes
as well the election of the Governors for Western Mindanao and Western For their part, Attys. Bautista, Maramba and Magsino filed their Position
Visayas. Paper dated June 16, 2009. Incidentally, in a Manifestation likewise dated
June 16, 2009 Attys. Bautista, Maramba and Marcial M. Magsino submitted
Consequently, the Special Committee called the IBP officers involved to a the same paper but already bearing the signature of Atty. Bautista.
preliminary conference on June 10, 2009. With respect thereto, Atty. Rogelio
A. Vinluan then submitted a Preliminary Conference Brief on the same day. Atty. Nasser A. Marohomsalic submitted his Position Paper dated June 17,
During the conference it was determined that the investigation would focus 2009. The Special Committee, in the course of its investigation, further
on the following issues or controversies:
received a letter dated June 22, 2009 from Atty. Alex L. Macalawi, President on account of his absence, incapacity, or refusal to call a meeting, the
of the IBP Lanao del Sur Chapter. Executive Vice President shall preside, there being a quorum to transact
business, but he may not vote except to break a tie.
As to the administrative case filed against him, Atty. Vinluan, as respondent,
filed his Comment dated June 15, 2009. In turn, Attys. Magsino, Maramba D. That Sec. 43, Article VI of the By-Laws, on the procedure for approving
and Marohomsalic, as complainants, submitted their Reply dated June 23, a resolution by the Board of Governors without a meeting, should be
2009. amended by adding the following exception thereto so that the
procedure may not be abused in connection with any election in the
The Special Committee then submitted a Report and Recommendation dated IBP:
July 9, 2009 the dispositive portion of which read as follows:
This provision shall not apply when the Board shall hold an election or hear
A. That to avoid further controversy regarding its proper interpretation and and decide an election protest.
implementation, Sec. 31, Article V, of the By-Laws should be amended
as follows (suggested amendments are in bold print): E. That the provision for the strict implementation of the rotation rule
among the Chapters in the Regions for the election of the Governor for
SEC. 31. Membership. The membership of the House of Delegates shall the regions, (as ordered by this Honorable Court in Bar Matter No. 586,
consist of all the Chapter Presidents and in the case of Chapters entitled to May 14, 1991) should be incorporated in Sec. 39, Article VI of the By-
mo(r)e than on(e) Delegate each, the Vice President of the Chapters and Laws, as follows:
such additional Delegates as the Chapters are entitled to. Unless the Vice
President is already (a) delegate, he shall be an alternate Delegate. Sec. 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. At least one (1) month
Additional Delegates and their respective alternates shall be elected from, before the national convention the delegates from each region shall elect the
and by, the Board of Officers of the Chapter. If the Delegate chosen is Governor for their region, who shall be chosen by rotation which is
incapacitated, or disqualified, or resigns, or refuses to serve, and there are mandatory and shall be strictly implemented among the Chapters in the
enough members of the Board to be elected as Delegates, then the Board region. When a Chapter waives its turn in the rotation order, its place shall
of Officers shall elect the additional delegates and alternates from the redound to the next Chapter in the line. Nevertheless, the former may reclaim
general membership of the Chapter, and his corresponding alternate shall its right to the Governorship at any time before the rotation is completed;
take his place. otherwise, it will have to wait for its turn in the next round, in the same place
that it had in the round completed.
B. That to avoid any ambiguity as to how the President shall preside and
vote in meetings of the House of Delegates, paragraph (g), Sec. 33, F. That in view of the fact that the IBP no longer elects its President,
Article V of the By-Laws should be amended as follows: because the Executive Vice President automatically succeeds the
President at the end of his term, Sec. 47, Article VII of the By-Laws
(g) In all meetings and deliberations of the House, whether in annual or should be amended by deleting the provision for the election of the
special convention, the President shall preside, or the Executive Vice President. Moreover, for the strict implementation of the rotation rule,
President, if the President is absent or incapacitated, but neither of them the Committee recommends that there should be a sanction for its
shall vote except to break a tie. violation, thus:

C. Similarly, Sec. 42, Article VI of the By-Laws, on meetings of the Board Sec. 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a
of Governors, should be amended to read as follows: President, an Executive Vice President, and nine (9) regional Governors. The
Executive Vice President shall be elected on a strict rotation basis by the
Board of Governors from among themselves, by the vote of at least five (5)
Sec. 42. Meetings. The Board shall meet regularly once a month, on such
Governors. The Governors shall be ex officio Vice President for their
date and such time and place as it shall designate. Special meetings may be
called by the President, and shall be called by him upon the written request respective regions. There shall also be a Secretary and Treasurer of the
of five (5) members of the Board. The President shall not vote except to Board of Governors.
break a tie in the voting. When for any reason, the President cannot preside
The violation of the rotation rule in any election shall be penalized by the biennial meeting on the last Saturday of February, and shall hold office
annulment of the election and disqualification of the offender from election or for a term of two (2) years from the first day of April following their election
appointment to any office in the IBP. and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified. For the
2009-2011 term, the election of Chapter officers was held on February 28,
G. That Atty. Manuel M. Maramba should be declared the duly elected 2009.
Governor of the Greater Manila Region for the 2009-2011 term.
H. That Atty. Erwin Fortunato of the Romblon Chapter should be declared In 1983 up to 1995, the Quezon City Chapter elected the usual nine (9)
the duly elected Governor of the Western Visayas Region for the 2009- officers to its Board of Officers and they were all delegates to the House of
2011 term. Delegates. Beginning with the 1997-1999 term, when it added a Public
I. That a special election should be held in the Western Mindanao Region, Relations Officer (P.R.O.) and Auditor to its Board of Officers, the number of
within fifteen (15) days from notice, to elect the Governor of that region delegates allotted to the Chapter was also increased to eleven (11) like the
for the 2009-2011 term. In accordance with the rotation rule, only the six membership in its Board of Officers, pursuant to a reapportionment of
(6) Chapters in the region that have not yet been elected to the Board of delegates by the Board of Governors under Sec. 30, Art. V of the By-Laws.
Governors, namely: Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte,
Za(m)boanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Up to the 2007-2009 term, all the officers of the QC Chapter were also the
Maguindanao-Cotabato City, shall participate in the election. Chapters delegates to the House of Delegates. Atty. Victoria Loanzon who
J. That, thereafter, a special election should also be held by the Board of has been an officer of the Chapter in various capacities since 2003, like her
Governors to elect the Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term fellow officers in the Board, automatically became a delegate since 2003 up
with strict observance of the rotation rule. Inasmuch as for the past nine to this time.
(9) terms, i.e., since the 1991-1993 term, the nominees of the Western
Visayas and Eastern Mindanao Regions have not yet been elected
For the 2009-2011 term, the Board of Officers of the IBP-QC Chapter that
Executive Vice President of the IBP, the special election shall choose
assumed office on April 1, 2009, is composed of six (6) officers and (5)
only between the nominees of these two (2) regions who shall become
directors, namely:
the Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term, in accordance
with the strict rotation rule.
K. That the high-handed and divisive tactics of Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan President - - - - - - - - - - Tranquil Salvador III
and his group of Governors, Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon, Jr.,
Evergisto Escalon, and Raymund Mercado, which disrupted the Vice President - - - - - - Jonas Cabochan
peaceful and orderly flow of business in the IBP, caused chaos in the
National Office, bitter disagreements, and ill-feelings, and almost Secretary - - - - - - - - - - Christian Fernandez
disintegrated the Integrated Bar, constituted grave professional
misconduct which should be appropriately sanctioned to discourage its Treasurer - - - - - - - - - - Victoria Loanzon
repetition in the future.
Auditor - - - - - - - - - - - Ginger Anne Castillo

P.R.O. - - - - - - - - - - - - Ernesto Tabujara III


II. Findings of the Special Committee
Director - - - - - - - - - - - Annalou Nachura
In its Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009, the Special
Committee disclosed when it was discussing the Board of Officers of each
Director - - - - - - - - - - - Melody Sampaga
chapter that:

Director - - - - - - - - - - - Francois Rivera


The government of a Chapter is vested in its Board of Officers composed of
nine (9) officers, namely: the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer,
and five (5) Directors who shall be elected by the members of the Chapter at Director - - - - - - - - - - - Joseph Cerezo
Director - - - - - - - - - - - Marita Iris Laqui entitled to the governorship once in every 5 terms, or once every ten (10)
years, since a term is two (2) years.
It is important to be an officer of ones Chapter and a delegate to the House
of Delegates, because a delegate gets to elect the Governor for the Region The record of the National IBP Secretariat shows that during the past five (5)
(which must rotate among the Chapters in the region). The Governor of the terms, from 1999 up to 2009, the GMR (Greater Manila Region) governorship
Region becomes a member of the Board of Governors, and gets to elect, or was occupied by the five (5) chapters of the region as follows:
be elected, as the next IBP Executive Vice President who automatically
becomes President for the next succeeding term (which must also rotate 1999-2001 ----- Jose P. Icaonapo ------------ Manila III
among the Regions).
2001-2003 ----- Santos V. Catubay, Jr. ---- QuezonCity
The Special Committee then pointed out that with respect to the IBP Board of
Governors this consists of nine (9) Governors from the nine (9) Regions. One 2003-2005 ----- Rosario Setias-Reyes ------ Manila II
(1) Governor for each Region shall be elected by the members of the House
of Delegates from that region only. The Governors, the President and the
Executive Vice-President shall hold office for a term of two (2) years from 2005-2007 ----- Alicia A. Risos-Vidal ------ Manila I
July 1 immediately following their election, up to June 30 of their second year
in office and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified. 2007-2009 ----- Marcial M. Magsino ------- Manila IV
It was further added by the Committee that:
In the next round, which starts with the 2009-2011 term, the same order of
At least one (1) month before the national convention, the delegates from rotation should be followed by the five (5) chapters, i.e., Manila III shall begin
each Region shall elect the Governor for their region. The IBP By-Laws the round, to be followed by Quezon City for 2011-2013 term, Manila for the
provide that starting in 1993-1995, the principle on rotation shall be strictly 2013-2015 term, Manila I for the 2015-2017 term, and Manila IV for the 2017-
implemented so that all prior elections for Governor in the region shall be 2019 term.
reckoned with or considered in determining who should be Governor to be
selected from the different chapters to represent the region in the Board of In the Western Visayas Region which is composed of ten (10) chapters, each
Governors. Hence, the governorship of the region shall rotate among the chapter is entitled to represent the governorship of the region once every ten
chapters in the region. (10) terms. The first chapter to occupy the governorship, must wait for the
nine (9) other chapters to serve their respective terms, before it may have its
The Governors-elect shall, by a vote of at least five (5), choose an Executive turn again as Governor of the region. The same rule applies to the Western
Vice-President, x x x either from among themselves or from other members Mindanao Region which is composed of twelve (12) chapters.
of the Integrated Bar. The Executive Vice-President shall automatically
become President for the next succeeding term. The Presidency shall rotate On April 25, 2009, the election of Governors for the nine (9) IBP regions
among the nine (9) Regions. proceeded as scheduled, presided over by their respective outgoing
Governor.
According to the Committee, the rotation of the position of Governor of a
region among the Chapters was ordered by the Supreme Court in its It was then cited by the Special Committee that Sec. 47, Art. VII of the By-
Resolution dated May 14, 1991 in Bar Matter No. 586 (Clarification Re: Bar Laws, as amended by Bar Matter 491, Oct. 6, 1989, provides that the
Matter No. 491, Atty. Romulo T. Capulong petitioner). With respect thereto, it Executive Vice President shall be chosen by the Board of Governors from
was revealed that: among the nine (9) regional governors. The Executive Vice President shall
automatically become President for the next succeeding term. The
Pursuant to the principle of rotation, the governorship of a region shall rotate Presidency shall rotate among the nine Regions. Further, the Committee
once in as many terms as the number of chapters there are in the region, to averred that:
give every chapter a chance to represent the region in the Board of
Governors. Thus, in a region composed of 5 chapters, each chapter is
The list of national presidents furnished the Special Committee by the IBP the election of the IBP Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term; and,
National Secretariat, shows that the governors of the following regions were (VII) the administrative complaint against EVP Rogelio Vinluan.
President of the IBP during the past nine (9) terms (1991-2009):
In addressing the above controversies, the Committee arrived at the
Numeriano Tanopo, Jr. (Pangasinan) --- Central Luzon --- 1991-1993 following findings and conclusions:

Mervin G. Encanto (Quezon City) ------ Manila ------------ 1993-1995 1. The silence of Sec. 31, Art. V of the IBP By-Laws on who may be elected
as additional delegates and alternates by the remaining members of the
Raul R. Angangco (Makati) -------------- Southern Luzon - 1995-1997 Board of Officers of the Chapter when the Chapter is entitled to more
than two (2) delegates to the House of Delegates, is the root cause of
the conflicting resolutions of the Bautista and Vinluan factions on the
Jose Aguila Grapilon (Biliran) ----------- Eastern Visayas 1997-1999
proper interpretation of the aforementioned provision of the By-Laws.
Arthur D. Lim (Zambasulta) ------------- Western Mindanao-1999-2001
According to the Resolution No. XVIII-2009 dated April 17, 2009 of the
Bautista Group, the additional delegate/s shall be elected by the Board of
Teofilo S. Pilando, Jr. (Kalinga-Apayao)-Northern Luzon 2001-2003 Officers of the Chapter only from among the remaining duly elected officers
and members of the Board, in consideration of their mandate from the
Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz (Camarines Sur) Bicolandia -------- 2003-2005 general membership.

Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz (Camarines Sur) Bicolandia ----2005-Aug 2006 According to the Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-23 April 2009) of the
Vinluan Group, the election of the additional delegate/s for the Chapters
Jose Vicente B. Salazar (Albay) ---------- Bicolandia --- Aug. 2006-2007 entitled to more than two (2) delegates shall be elected by the Board of
Officers of the Chapter from among the general membership who are in good
Feliciano M. Bautista (Pangasinan) ------ Central Luzon ---- 2007-2009 standing to include the remaining duly elected officers and members of the
Board.
Only the governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions
have not yet had their turn as Executive Vice President cum next IBP The Committee finds the qualification introduced by Resolution No. XVIII-
President, while Central Luzon and Bicolandia have had two (2) terms 2009 that the additional delegate/s and alternates must be elected from
already. among the remaining officers of the Chapter to be consistent with the
precedent set by Section 31 itself in appointing members of the Board of
Officers, namely, (a) the president of the Chapter as the delegate, and the
Therefore, either the governor of the Western Visayas Region, or the
vice president as the alternate, or second, delegate to the House of
governor of the Eastern Mindanao Region should be elected as Executive
Delegates, when the Chapter is entitled to two (2) delegates. There is a
Vice-President for the 2009-2011 term. The one who is not chosen for this
manifest intention in Sec. 31, Art. V of the By-Laws to reserve membership in
term, shall have his turn in the next (2011-2013) term. Afterwards, another
the House of Delegates (which is the deliberative body of the IBP) for the
rotation shall commence with Greater Manila in the lead, followed by
elected officers of the Chapter since they have already received the mandate
Southern Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao, Northern Luzon,
of the general membership of the Chapter.
Bicolandia, Central Luzon, and either Western Visayas or Eastern Mindanao
at the end of the round.
For the past four (4) terms (2003-2011), Atty. Loanzon has been an officer
and delegate of the QC Chapter to the House of Delegates, until the Vinluan
The Committee then disclosed that the controversies involved herein and
Group introduced its own interpretation of the aforementioned provision of
should be resolved are the following: (I) the dispute concerning additional
the By-Laws and elected non-officers of the Chapter as delegates to the
delegates of the QC Chapter to the House of Delegates; (II) the election of
House of Delegates in lieu of herself and Atty. Laqui.
the Governor for the Greater Manila Region (GMR); (III) the election of
Governor for the Western Visayas Region; (IV) the election of Governor for
the Western Mindanao Region; (V) the resolution of the election protests; (VI)
We find the Vinluan Groups interpretation of Sec. 31, Art. V, of the By-Laws 2003-2005 -------- Manila II ---------- Rosario Setias-Reyes
in Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special 23 April 2009) to be in error and devoid
of rational and historical bases. 2005-2007 -------- Manila I ----------- Alicia A. Risos-Vidal

2. Attys. Victoria Loanzon and Marite Laqui were properly recognized as 2007-2009 -------- Manila IV --------- Marcial M. Magsino
delegates of the QC Chapter by the Presiding Officer, GMR Governor
Marcial Magsino, during the election on April 25, 2009 of the Governor it is now the turn of the representative of the Manila III Chapter to sit again in
for the Greater Manila Region, in accordance with the guideline in the Board of Governors for the next round which begins in the 2009-2011
Resolution No. XVIII-2009.
term. The Manila III representative, Atty. Manuel M. Maramba, has every
right to the position not only because he won the election with 13 votes in his
The argument of the QC-Chapter President Tranquil Salvador, that Attys. favor against 12 for Atty. Soriano, but also because his election follows the
Loanzon and Laqui were not delegates because they were not elected by the rotation rule decreed by the Supreme Court.
QC-Board of Officers, is not well taken.
On the other hand, the election of Atty. Soriano (QC Chapter) in the special
Sec. 31, Art. V of the By-Laws provides that: election that was presided over by EVP Vinluan on May 4, 2009, was a nullity
on three (3) grounds: First, because Atty. Soriano already lost the election on
Additional Delegates and alternates shall in proper cases be elected by the April 25, 2009. Second, the special election conducted by the Vinluan Group
Board of Officers of the Chapter. on May 4, 2(00)8 was illegal because it was not called nor presided over by
the regional Governor. Third, Atty. Soriano is disqualified to run for GMR
The QC Chapter is not a proper case for the election of additional delegates Governor for the 2009-2011 term because his election as such would violate
by the Board of Officers because the Chapter is entitled to the same number the rotation rule which the Supreme Court requires to be strictly
of delegates (11) to the House, as the number of officers in its Board of implemented. Under the rotation rule, the GMR governorship for the 2009-
Officers. Its officers are ipso facto the Chapters delegates to the House. 2011 term belongs to the Manila III Chapter, not to the QC Chapter, whose
There is no need for the Board of Officers to conduct an election. turn will come two (2) years later, in 2011-2013 yet.

A proper case for the election of additional delegates and alternates by the 4. Atty. Erwin Fortunato of the Romblon Chapter was duly elected as
Board of Officers occurs when the number of additional delegates and Governor for the Western Visayas Region for the 2009-2011 term, not
alternates for the Chapter is less than the members of the Board of Officers, only because he obtained the highest number of votes among the three
for, then, the Board of Officers must select, and elect, who among (3) candidates for the position, but also because under the rotation rule,
themselves should be the additional delegate/s and alternates of the Chapter it is now the turn of the Romblon Chapter to represent the Western
to the House of Delegates. That has never been the case of the QC Chapter. Visayas Region in the IBP Board of Governors.

3. Atty. Manuel Maramba (Manila III Chapter) was validly elected as GMR The contention of the protestants, Attys. Cornelio Aldon (Antique Chapter)
Governor for the 2009-2011 term, not only because he outvoted his rival, and Benjamin Ortega (Negros Occidental Chapter) that the rotation rule in
Atty. Elpidio Soriano (Quezon City Chapter), but also because under the Sections 37 and 39 of the IBP By-Laws is not mandatory but only directory,
principle of rotation of the governorship (Bar Matter No. 586, May 14, betrays their ignorance of the resolution of the Supreme Court in Bar Matter
1991) since the five (5) chapters of the Greater Manila Region have all No. 586 dated May 16, 1991, ruling that the principle on rotation shall be
represented the region in the Board of Governors during the past five (5) strictly implemented so that all prior elections for governor in the region shall
terms, in the following order: be reckoned with or considered in determining who should be the governor to
be selected from the different chapters to represent the region in the Board of
Governors.
1999-2001 -------- Manila III -------- Jose P. Icaonapo

2001-2003 -------- Quezon City ----- Santos V. Catubay, Jr. 5. Neither Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic nor Atty. Benjamin Lanto is qualified
to be elected Governor of Western Mindanao Region. Sec. 39, Art. VI of
the IBP By-Laws provides that: Starting in 1993-1995, the principle of
rotation in the position of governor among the different chapters to respect to Atty. Benjamin Lanto, his nomination by the Board of Officers was
represent the region in the Board of Governors shall be strictly not only invalid, but also lost credibility after three (3), out of the thirteen (13)
implemented. signatories to his nomination, resigned from the Board of Officers, and six (6)
others signed authorizations in favor of Atty. Macalawi authorizing him to
Under Sec. 37, Art. VI of the By-Laws, the Governor of a region shall be nominate and elect the Governor for the Western Mindanao Region. That left
elected by the members of the House of Delegates from that region only. only four (4) votes in favor of his nomination for Governor of the Western
Since the delegate of a Chapter to the House of Delegates is the President of Mindanao Region.
the Chapter, not the Board of Officers, the nominee of the Chapter President,
not the nominee of the Board of Officers, is the valid nominee for Governor of 6. The elections for the IBP Executive Vice President separately held on
the Region. May 9, 2009 by the Bautista and Vinluan Groups were null and void for
lack of quorum. The presence of five (5) Governors-elect is needed to
However, under the rotation rule, it is not the Lanao del Sur Chapter that constitute a quorum of the 9-member Board of Governors-elect who shall
should represent the Western Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors elect the Executive Vice President.
for the 2009-2011 term. The record of the IBP National Secretariat shows
that, starting in 1993-1995 when the strict implementation of the rotation rule As previously stated, there were two (2) simultaneous elections for the
began, the 12-chapter Western Mindanao Region has been represented in Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term one was called and
the Board of Governors by only six (6) Chapters, as follows: presided over by EVP Vinluan in the Board Room of the IBP National Office,
while the other election for the same position was presided over by outgoing
1993-1995 ----- Lanao del Sur ------ Dimnatang T. Saro IBP Pres. Bautista in another room of the same building, at the same time,
9:00 A.M., on the same date, May 9, 2009.
1995-1997 ----- Cotabato ------------ George C. Jabido
Those present at the meeting of the Vinluan Group were:
1997-1999 ----- ZAMBASULTA -- Arthur D. Lim
1. Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano
2. Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto
1999-2001 ----- ZAMBASULTA -- Paulino R. Ersando
3. Atty. Amador Tolentino, Jr., Governor-elect for Southern Luzon
4. Atty. Jose V. Cabrera, Governor-elect for Bicolandia
2001-2003 ----- North Cotabato --- Little Sarah A. Agdeppa 5. Atty. Erwin Fortunato, Governor-elect for Western Visayas
6. Atty. Roland B. Inting, Governor-elect for Eastern Visayas
2003-2005 ----- Sultan Kudarat ---- Carlos L. Valdez, Jr.
Since both Attys. Soriano and Lanto were not validly elected as Governors
2005-2007 ----- SOCSARGEN ----- Rogelio C. Garcia respectively of the Greater Manila Region and the Western Mindanao
Region, they were disqualified to sit in the incoming Board of Governors and
2007-2009 ----- Sultan Kudarat ---- Carlos L. Valdez, Jr. participate in the election of the succeeding Executive Vice President. The
remaining four (4) Governors-elect Governors Tolentino, Cabrera, Fortunato,
Therefore, pursuant to the strict rotation, the Lanao del Sur Chapter must and Inting, did not constitute a quorum of the Board of Governors to conduct
wait for the six (6) other Chapters in the region (Zamboanga Sibugay, a valid election of the IBP Executive Vice President. The election of Atty.
Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Elpidio G. Soriano as Executive Vice President by the Vinluan Group was
Occidental, and Maguindanao-Cotabato City) to have their turn in the Board invalid. Aside from lack of a quorum to conduct the elections, EVP Vinluan
of Governors before Lanao del Sur may again represent the Western wrongly presided over the election. Thus, Atty. Soriano was not duly elected
Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors. as Governor of the Greater Manila Region, hence, he is disqualified to sit in
the Board of Governors.
Since both Attys. Nasser Marohomsalic and B(e)njamin Lanto belong to the
Lanao del Sur Chapter, both of them are disqualified to be elected as Neither did the meeting of the Bautista Group fare any better, for those
Governor of the Western Mindanao Region for the 2009-2011 term. With present were:
1. Atty. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, Governor-elect for Northern Luzon The Board may take action, without a meeting, by resolution signed by at
2. Atty. Ferdinand Y. Miclat, Governor-elect for Central Luzon least five Governors provided that every member of the Board shall have
3. Atty. Manuel M. Maramba, Governor-elect for Greater Manila been previously apprised of the contents of the resolution.
4. Atty. Roan Libarios, Governor-elect for Eastern Mindanao
5. Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic But the Vinluan Group ignored that procedure. They held a special meeting
on April 23, 2009, where they adopted Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-23
Atty. Marohomsalics election as Governor for Western Mindanao was invalid April 2009) striking out as ultra vires the earlier Resolution No. XVIII-2009
for violating the rotation rule. The four (4) remaining governors-elect (Attys. passed in the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Governors on April 17,
Cayosa, Miclat, Maramba and Libarios) like those in the Vinluan Group, did 2009. That meeting was illegal, hence, the resolution adopted therein was
not constitute a quorum to conduct the election of the IBP Executive Vice null and void.
President for the current term. The election of Governor Roan Libarios as
Executive Vice President by this group was therefore null and void. 2. The second special meeting held by the Vinluan Group on April 30,
2009 wherein they approved Resolution XVIII-2009 (Special-A-30
Besides that flaw in his election, since the Eastern Visayas Region, April 2009) resolving the election protests in the GMR, Western
represented by Governor Jose Aguila Grapilon of Biliran, had succeeded to Visayas and Western Mindanao governors elections, with complete
the presidency in 1997-1999, its next turn will come after the eight (8) other disregard for the protestees right to due process, was likewise illegal,
regions shall have also served in the presidency. That will be after sixteen hence, the Groups resolution of the election protests was likewise
years, or, in 2015-2017 yet. null and void, and the new election of the GMR Governor which they
set on May 4, 2009 was invalid.
7. The administrative complaint against EVP Rogelio A. Vinluan and his 3. The Board Resolution which was adopted and faxed to the
Group of Governors (Abelardo Estrada of Northern Luzon, Bonifacio Governors-elect on May 8, 2009, by the Vinluan Group, setting the
Barandon of Bicolandia, Evergisto Escalon of Eastern Visayas, and election of the IBP Executive Vice President on May 9, 2009, at 9:00
Raymund Mercado of Western Visayas) is meritorious, for their conduct A.M.; declaring Pres. Bautista unfit to preside over the election and
was fractious and high-handed, causing disunity and acrimonious designating EVP Vinluan to preside over the election in lieu of Pres.
disagreements in the IBP. Bautista, was uncalled and unwarranted, and caused disunity and
disorder in the IBP. It was in effect a coup to unseat Pres. Bautista
1. The request of the EVP Vinluans Group for a special meeting of the before the end of his term, and prematurely install EVP Vinluan as
Board of Governors on April 23, 2009 two (2) days before the president.
scheduled election of the regional Governors on April 25, 2009 when
IBP Pres. Bautista was in Zamboanga on IBP business, and the The actuations of Atty. Vinluans Group in defying the lawful authority of IBP
other Governors had just returned to their respective regions to President Bautista, due to Atty. Vinluans overweening desire to propel his
prepare for the April 25 election of the regional governors, was fraternity brother, Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano, to the next presidency of the IBP,
unreasonable. smacked of politicking, which is strongly condemned and strictly prohibited
by the IBP By-Laws and the Bar Integration Rule.
The special meeting on April 23, 2009 which he himself presided over
violated Sec. 42, Art. VI of the By-Laws which provides that it is the President Again, it must be noted that while the pending administrative case against
who shall call a special meeting and it is also the President who shall preside Atty. Vinluan and his co-respondents has not yet been resolved, Atty. Vinluan
over the meeting, not Atty. Vinluan (Sec. 50, Art. VII, By-Laws). was not allowed to assume his position as President of the IBP for 2009-
2011. Instead, the Supreme Court designated retired Supreme Court
The proper recourse for the Vinluan Group, in view of President Bautistas Associate Justice Santiago Kapunan as Officer-in-Charge of the IBP.
refusal to call a special meeting as requested by them, is found in Section
43, Art. VI of the By-Laws which provides that- III. Rulings of the Court

The Court completely agrees with the recommendations of the Special


Committee with respect to, among others, the following:
1. Declaring Atty. Manuel M. Maramba (Manila III Chapter) as the duly implemented. This being so, since he was not a duly elected Governor of the
elected Governor of the Greater Manila Region for the 2009-2011 Greater Manila Region, then Atty. Soriano cannot be voted as well as IBP
term; and, Executive Vice President for 2009-2011.
2. Declaring Atty. Erwin M. Fortunato (Romblon Chapter) as the duly
elected Governor of the Western Visayas Region for the 2009-2011 With respect to the case of Atty. Fortunato, his election as Governor for the
term. Western Visayas Region was upheld since he obtained the highest number
of votes among the three (3) candidates for the position and also because
As far as the Court is concerned, there is no dispute that the election of Atty. under the rotation rule, it is now the turn of the Romblon Chapter to represent
Maramba was in order. During the election held last April 25, 2009 which was the Western Visayas Region in the IBP Board of Governors. On account
duly presided over by then outgoing Greater Manila Region Governor Marcial thereof, the Court is convinced that the contentions of protestees Attys.
Magsino, it was Atty. Maramba who garnered the highest number of votes Cornelio Aldon (Antique Chapter) and Benjamin Ortega (Negros Occidental
among the delegates compared to Atty. Soriano, 13 votes to 12 votes. Chapter) cannot prosper. After all, the Court already upheld per its
However, instead of accepting the said defeat graciously, Atty. Soriano then Resolution in Bar Matter No. 586 dated May 16, 1991 that the rotation rule
filed an election protest on April 27, 2009 claiming that the said election was under Sections 37 and 39 of the IBP By-Laws shall be strictly implemented
void because there were non-delegates, particularly Attys. Loanzon and so that all prior elections for governor in the region shall be reckoned with or
Laqui of the Quezon City Chapter, who were allowed to vote. Consequently, considered in determining who should be the governor to be selected from
Atty. Soriano got a favorable ruling from the group of Atty. Vinluan, as EVP, the different chapters to represent the region in the Board of Governors.
and former Governors Estrada (Northern Luzon), Barandon, Jr. (Bicolandia), More so, when the concerned chapter invoked its right thereto as in the case
Escalon (Eastern Visayas) and Mercado (Western Visayas) per Resolution of Atty. Fortunato who came from the Romblon Chapter which was next in
No. XVIII-2009 (Special A-30 April 2009). This then resulted in the the rotation.
anomalous election of Atty. Soriano as Governor of the Greater Manila
Region last May 4, 2009. To the Court, the election of Atty. Fortunato as Governor last April 25, 2009
is well-settled. He did not only come from the chapter which is entitled to be
In addressing the said controversy, and as already discussed, the Committee elected for the said position, but also got the highest number of votes among
concluded that the Vinluan Groups interpretation of Sec. 31, Art. V, of the By- the candidates that included protestees Attys. Aldon and Ortega. As the
Laws in Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-23 April 2009) to be in error and election was presided over by then outgoing Governor Raymund Mercado,
devoid of rational and historical bases. It was then pointed out that (t)he the Court finds no cogent reason as well to reverse the findings of the
argument of the QC-Chapter President Tranquil Salvador, (as well as by Atty. Committee insofar as upholding the election of Atty. Fortunato is concerned.
Soriano), that Attys. Loanzon and Laqui were not delegates because they Suffice it to say, the Committee was correct in not finding any anomaly with
were not elected by the QC-Board of Officers, is not well taken. Likewise, the respect thereto.
Committee considered the situation then involving the Quezon City Chapter
as not a proper case for the election of additional delegates by the Board of On the nullification of the election of Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic as Governor
Officers because the Chapter is entitled to the same number of delegates for the Western Mindanao Region, the Court does not agree with the
(11) to the House (of Delegates), as the number of officers in its Board of recommendation of the Committee to hold a special election in the said
Officers. Its officers are ipso facto the Chapters delegates to the House. region. Instead, the Court rules to uphold the election of Atty. Marohomsalic
There is no need for the Board of Officers to conduct an election. last April 25, 2009 which was presided over by then outgoing Governor
Carlos Valdez, Jr.
Thus, and as rightly determined by the Committee to which the Court
subscribes to, the election of Atty. Soriano (QC Chapter) in the special It must be pointed out that Atty. Marohomsalic was duly nominated by Atty.
election that was presided over by EVP Vinluan on May 4, 2009, was a nullity Alex Macalawi, President of the Lanao del Sur Chapter, and the official
on three (3) grounds: First, because Atty. Soriano already lost the election on delegate of the said chapter to the House of Delegates for the Western
April 25, 2009. Second, the special election conducted by the Vinluan Group Mindanao Region during the elections held last April 25, 2009. On the other
on May 4, 2(009) was illegal because it was not called nor presided by the hand, Atty. Benjamin Lanto was supposedly nominated by the Board of
regional Governor (Atty. Magsino). Third, Atty. Soriano is disqualified to run Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter, except Atty. Macalawi, in Resolution
for GMR Governor for the 2009-2011 term because his election as such No. 002-2009 dated February 28, 2009. However, it appears that, as
would violate the rotation rule which the Supreme Court requires to be strictly discovered by the Committee, three (3) signatories of the resolution
apparently resigned as members of the Board of Officers since they are Officers, is the valid nominee for Governor of the Region, thereby sustaining
prosecutors who are ineligible for election or appointment to any position in the position of Atty. Marohomsalic and, in effect, the validity of his nomination
the Integrated Bar or any Chapter thereof, while (s)ix (6) other signatories of by Atty. Macalawi.
the resolution allegedly recalled their signatures and they, instead, signed an
authorization authorizing the Chapter President, Atty. Macalawi, to select and Despite the said findings, Atty. Marohomsalic was stripped of his electoral
vote for the Regional Governor for Western Mindanao. Thus, (t)he withdrawal mandate and victory when the Committee, invoking the strict application of
of nine (9) signatures from the Resolution No. 002, left only four (4) votes in the rotation rule, proceeded to altogether nullify the result of the elections
support of Lantos nomination a puny minority of the 14-member Board of duly conducted on April 25, 2009. According to the Committee, neither Lanto
Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter. nor Marohomsalic is qualified to be elected governor because it was not the
turn of Lanao del Sur chapter to represent the Western Mindanao Region in
The attempt of Atty. Vinluan and his group of Governors to nullify the election the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term. As declared in the Report --
of Atty. Marohomsalic through Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special A-30 April
2009) was clearly irregular and unjustified. Based on the April 25, 2009 However, under the rotation rule, it is not the Lanao del Sur Chapter that
election results, Atty. Marohomsalic won over his rival Atty. Lanto, 6 votes to should represent the Western Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors
5 votes. Consequently, he was duly proclaimed as the elected Governor of for the 2009-2011 term. The record of the IBP National Secretariat shows
the Western Mindanao Region. On April 27, 2009, Atty. Lanto filed an that, starting in 1993-1995 when the strict implementation of the rotation rule
election protest, questioning the validity of Atty. Marohomsalics nomination began, the 12 chapter Western Mindanao Region has been represented in
by Atty. Macalawi, President of the IBP Lanao del Sur Chapter, and claiming the Board of Governors only six (6) Chapters, as follows:
that his (Lantos) nomination by the Board of Officers of the Lanao del Sur
Chapter was the valid nomination. 1993-1995---Lanao del Sur-----Dimnatang T. Saro

Immediately, on April 30, 2009, the group of Atty. Vinluan issued Resolution
1995-1997---Cotatabato---------George C. Jabido
No. XVIII-2009 proclaiming Atty. Lanto as the duly elected Governor without
affording Atty. Marohomsalic his right to due process. More importantly,
instead of calling for another election like what it did for the Greater Manila 1997-1999---ZAMBASULTAArthur D. Lim
Region, the group of Atty. Vinluan proceeded to instantly declare Atty. Lanto
as having been duly elected on the ground that the nomination of the 1999-2001---ZAMBASULTA---Paulino R. Ersando
protestee, Nasser Marohomsalic, was contrary to the will of the Lanao del
Sur Chapter expressed through Board Resolution No. 00(2)-2009 of the 2001-2003---North Cotabato---- Little Sarah A. Agdeppa
Board of Officers (of the Lanao del Sur Chapter).
2003-2005---Sultan Kudarat-----Carlos L. Valdez, Jr.
As borne out by the records, Atty. Marohomsalic was duly nominated by Atty.
Alex Macalawi, President of the Lanao del Sur Chapter, and the official 2005-2007---SOCSARGEN-----Rogelio C. Garcia
delegate of the said chapter to the House of Delegates for the Western
Mindanao Region during the elections. On the other hand, Atty. Lanto was
2007-2009---Sultan Kudarat-----Carlos L. Valdez, Jr.
supposedly nominated by the Board of Officers of the same Chapter in a
resolution dated February 28, 2009, which was not signed and approved by
Atty. Macalawi. However, and as already pointed out by the Committee, the Therefore, pursuant to the strict rotation rule, the Lanao del Sur Chapter
withdrawal of nine (9) signatures from the Resolution No. 002, left only four must wait for the six (6) other Chapters in the region (Zamboanga Sibugay,
(4) votes in support of Lantos nomination a puny minority of the 14-member Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis
Board of Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter. Occidental, and Maguindanao-Cotabato City) to have their turn in the Board
of Governors before Lanao del Sur may again represent the Western
Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors.
Thus, the Committee, citing Sec. 37, Art. VI of the By-Laws, clearly
repudiated and overturned Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special A- 30 April
2009) of Atty. Vinluan and his group of Governors. In its Report, it declared
that the nominee of the Chapter President, not the nominee of the Board of
Since both Attys. Nasser Marohomsalic and Benjamin Lanto belong to the candidates. Having been validly nominated and duly proclaimed as the duly
Lanao del Sur Chapter, both of them are disqualified to be elected as elected Governor of Western Mindanao, Atty. Marohomsalic therefore
Governor of the Western Mindanao Region for the 2009-2011 term. deserves to assume his position during the remainder of the term.

The ruling of the Committee insofar as it nullified the election of Atty. It would have been a different story if another Chapter in the order of rotation
Marohomsalic as Governor of the Western Mindanao Region cannot be fielded its own candidate or invoked the rotation rule to challenge Atty.
sustained for not being in full accord with facts and the rules. While the Marohomsalics nomination. But the record is bereft of any showing that his
Committee may have correctly pointed out that under the rotation rule it was nomination and subsequent election was challenged on that basis. If there
not yet the turn of IBP Lanao del Sur Chapter to represent the region in the was any challenge at all, it merely referred to his nomination by Atty.
Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term, it does not necessarily follow Macalawi which the Committee itself has found to be in order. Thus, no
that the result of the elections should be altogether nullified on that ground. compelling reason exists to disregard the electoral mandate and nullify the
Evidently, and as determined by the Committee itself, there are instances will of the voting delegates as expressed through the ballot.
when the rotation rule was not followed insofar as the elections in 1999 and
2007 were concerned with respect to the Western Mindanao Region. The rotation rule is not absolute but subject to waiver as when the chapters
in the order of rotation opted not to field or nominate their own candidates for
In the regular election of April 25, 2009, there is no dispute that the voting Governor during the election regularly done for that purpose. If a validly
delegates of IBP Western Mindanao Region voted into office Atty. nominated candidate obtains the highest number of votes in the election
Marohomsalic of Lanao del Sur Chapter as Governor for the 2009-2011 term. conducted, his electoral mandate deserves to be respected unless obtained
During the said election, his only rival was Atty. Benjamin Lanto who also through fraud as established by evidence. Such is not the case here.
belongs to the same Lanao del Sur Chapter. A third candidate, Atty. Escobar
from the Sarangani Chapter, was nominated but he declined the nomination. Suffice it to say, the rotation rule should be applied in harmony with, and not
in derogation of, the sovereign will of the electorate as expressed through the
While the Committee points out that six (6) chapters in the region, including ballot. Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic cannot be divested and deprived of his
Sarangani, are entitled to precedence over the Lanao del Sur chapter in the electoral mandate and victory. The order of rotation is not a rigid and
order of rotation, the fact remains that not one of them nominated or fielded a inflexible rule as to bar its relaxation in exceptional and compelling
candidate from their respective ranks during the April 25, 2009 election. circumstances.
Neither did any one of them challenge the nominations of the Lanao del Sur
Chapter based on the order of rotation. If only to stress, compared to the case of Atty. Fortunato whose Romblon
Chapter invoked the rotation rule, no chapter in the Western Mindanao
By not fielding a candidate for Governor and by declining the nomination Region which was next in the rotation invoked the said rule.
raised in favor of its Chapter President (Atty. Escobar), the IBP Sarangani
Chapter is deemed to have waived its turn in the rotation order. The same Now, in its Report, the Committee nullified the elections for the IBP EVP
can be said of the remaining chapters. They too are deemed to have waived separately and simultaneously conducted by President Bautista and EVP
their turn in the rotation as they opted not to field or nominate a candidate Vinluan on May 9, 2009 and called for a special election for the same. In the
from among their respective members. Neither did they invoke the rotation case of the election conducted by EVP Vinluan, the results were nullified for
rule to challenge the nominations from the Lanao del Sur Chapter. On the lack of authority to preside over the election and for lack quorum, citing the
contrary, they fully expressed their concurrence to the cited nominations, disqualification of Attys. Soriano and Lanto to sit in the incoming Board of
which may be interpreted as a waiver of their right to take their turn to Governors. The finding deserves to be sustained.
represent the region in the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term.
In the same Report, the Committee also nullified the result of the election for
It need not be stressed that, as cited by the Committee itself, there were the incoming EVP conducted by President Bautista. While recognizing
instances when the Governor of the Western Mindanao Region came from President Bautistas authority to conduct the election, the Committee
the same chapter such as ZAMBASULTA (1997-1999 & 1999-2001) and nonetheless nullified the election results for lack of quorum, citing the
Sultan Kudarat (2003-2005 & 2007-2009). Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic could ineligibility of Atty. Marohomsalic to sit in the incoming Board of Governors,
not be faulted if the other chapters opted not to field or nominate their own
thereby leaving only four (out of nine) Governors-elect in attendance which Teofilo S. Pilando, Jr. (Kalinga Apayao)Northern Luzon2001-2003
did not constitute a quorum.
Jose Anselmo L. Cadiz (Camarines Sur)Bicolandia2005-Aug. 2006
With the election of Atty. Marohomsalic as Governor of Western Mindanao
being deemed valid, then the defect of lack of quorum that supposedly Jose Vicente B. Salazar (Albay)Bicolandia Aug. 2006-2007
tainted the election proceedings for EVP separately conducted by IBP
President Bautista may have been cured, five (5) Governors being sufficient Feliciano M. Bautista (Pangasinan)Central Luzon2007-2009
to constitute a quorum.
Only the Governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions
Be that as it may, the recommendation of the Committee to hold a special
have not yet had their turn as Executive Vice President cum next IBP
election for the EVP for the remaining 2009-2011 term deserves to be upheld
President, while Central Luzon and Bicolandia have had two (2) terms
to heal the divisions in the IBP and promote unity by enabling all the nine (9) already. Therefore, either the governor of the Western Visayas Region, or
Governors-elect to elect the EVP in a unified meeting called for that purpose. the governor of the Eastern Mindanao Region should be elected as
This will enable matters to start on a clean and correct slate, free from the
Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term.
politicking and the under handed tactics that have characterized the IBP
elections for so long.
Accordingly, a special election shall be held by the present nine-man IBP
Board of Governors to elect the EVP for the remainder of the term of 2009-
In the conduct of the unified election of the incoming EVP, the following 2011, which shall be presided over and conducted by IBP Officer-in-Charge
findings and recommendations of the Committee shall be adopted:
Justice Santiago Kapunan (Ret.) within seven (7) days from notice.

Further, in its report, the Committee declared that the high-handed and
divisive tactics of Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan and his group of Governors,
THE ROTATION OF THE PRESIDENCY AMONG THE REGIONS- Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon Jr., Evergisto Escalon, and Raymund
Mercado, which disrupted the peaceful and orderly flow of business in the
Sec. 47, Art. VII of the By-Laws, as amended by Bar Matter 491, Oct. 6, IBP, caused chaos in the National Office, bitter disagreements, and ill-
1989, provides that the Executive Vice President shall be chosen by the feelings, and almost disintegrated the Integrated Bar, constituted grave
Board of Governors from among the nine (9) regional governors. The professional misconduct which should be appropriately sanctioned to
Executive Vice President shall automatically become President for the next discourage its repetition in the future.
succeeding term. The Presidency shall rotate among the nine Regions.
The Committee, however, fell short of determining and recommending the
The list of national presidents furnished the Special Committee by the IBP appropriate penalty for the grave professional misconduct found to have
National Secretariat, shows that the governors of the following regions were been committed by Atty. Vinluan and his group of Governors. Still, with the
President of the IBP during the past nine (9) terms (1991-2009): above firm and unequivocal findings and declarations of the Committee
against Atty. Vinluan and his group that included Attys. Estrada, Barandon,
Numeriano Tanopo, Jr. (Pangasinan)Central Luzon1991-1993 Jr., Escalon and Mercado as unprofessional members of the IBP Board of
Governors (2007-2009 term) they certainly do not deserve to hold such
Mervin G. Encanto (Quezon City) Greater Manila 1993-1995 esteemed positions.

It has long been held that, as provided for in Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code
Raul R. Anchangco (Makati)Southern Luzon1995-1997
of Professional Responsibility that (a) lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Added to this, Rule 7.03, Canon 7
Jose Aguila Grapilon (Biliran) Eastewrn Visayas 1997-1999 requires that (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,
Arthur D. Lim ( Zambasulta)Western Mindanao1999-2001 behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. In the
case at bar, such canons find application.
In addition, it was clear to the Committee, and the Court agrees, that (t)he Also, Atty. Vinluan and his group should no longer be allowed to run as
actuations of Atty. Vinluans Group in defying the lawful authority of IBP national officers to prevent such similar irregularity from happening again.
President Bautista, due to Atty. Vinluans overweening desire to propel his Thus, in subsequent elections of the IBP, they are disqualified to run as
fraternity brother, Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano, to the next presidency of the IBP, candidates.
smacked of politicking, which is strongly condemned and strictly prohibited
by the IBP By-Laws and the Bar Integration Rule. Indeed, said actuations of On the recommendation of the Committee to amend Sections 31, 33, par.
Atty. Vinluan and his group of former IBP Governors Estrada, Barandon, Jr., (g), 39, 42, and 43, Article VI and Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws,
Escalon and Mercado were grossly inimical to the interest of the IBP and the Court finds the same in order. As such, and in order to immediately effect
were violative of their solemn oath as lawyers. After all, what they did served reforms in the IBP, particularly in the holding of its elections for national
only to benefit the apparently selfish goals of defeated candidate Atty. Elpidio officers, the subject amendments are hereby adopted and approved.
Soriano to be elected as IBP EVP and be the next IBP President for the
2011-2013 term by hook or by crook.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves that:

Bearing the above in mind, what Attys. Vinluan, Estrada, Barandon, Jr., 1. The elections of Attys. Manuel M. Maramba, Erwin M. Fortunato and
Escalon and Mercado conspired to do was truly high-handed and divisive
Nasser A. Marohomsalic as Governors for the Greater Manila Region,
that must not pass unsanctioned. Otherwise, future leaders of the IBP,
Western Visayas Region and Western Mindanao Region, respectively,
Governors at that, might be similarly inclined to do what they did, much to the
for the term 2009-2011 are UPHELD;
prejudice of the IBP and its membership. Surely, this should be addressed
2. A special election to elect the IBP Executive Vice President for the
without much delay so as to nip-in-the-bud such gross misconduct and 2009-2011 term is hereby ORDERED to be held under the supervision
unprofessionalism. They all deserve to suffer the same fate for betraying as of this Court within seven (7) days from receipt of this Resolution with
well the trust bestowed on them for the high positions that they previously
Attys. Maramba, Fortunato and Marohomsalic being allowed to
held.
represent and vote as duly-elected Governors of their respective
regions;
The Resolution of the Court in the case of Re: 1989 Elections of the 3. Attys. Rogelio Vinluan, Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon, Jr.,
Integrated Bar of the Philippines already declared that unethical practices of Evergisto Escalon and Raymund Mercado are all found GUILTY of
lawyers during IBP elections cannot but result in the stature of the IBP as an grave professional misconduct arising from their actuations in
association of the practitioners of a noble and honored profession being connection with the controversies in the elections in the IBP last April
diminished. As held therein, (r)espect for law is gravely eroded when lawyers 25, 2009 and May 9, 2009 and are hereby disqualified to run as national
themselves, who are supposed to be minions of the law, engage in unlawful officers of the IBP in any subsequent election. While their elections as
practices and cavalierly brush aside the very rules that the IBP formulated for Governors for the term 2007-2009 can no longer be annulled as this
their observance. Indeed, the said strong and vigorous declaration of this has already expired, Atty. Vinluan is declared unfit to hold the position
Court on the 1989 IBP Election scandal is relevant here. of IBP Executive Vice President for the 2007-2009 term and therefore
barred from succeeding as IBP President for the 2009-2011 term;
While Atty. Vinluan and his group deserve to be stripped of their positions in 4. The proposed amendments to Sections 31, 33, par. (g), 39, 42, and 43,
the IBP, this can no longer be done as their terms as Governors already Article VI and Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws as contained in
expired, specially on the part of Attys. Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon and the Report and Recommendation of the Special Committee dated July
Mercado. However, in the case of Atty. Vinluan, as former EVP of the IBP he 9, 2009 are hereby approved and adopted; and
would have automatically succeeded to the presidency for the term 2009- 5. The designation of retired SC Justice Santiago Kapunan as Officer-in-
2011 but now should not be allowed to. After all, and considering the findings Charge of the IBP shall continue, unless earlier revoked by the Court,
of the Committee, he has clearly manifested his unworthiness to hold the but not to extend beyond June 30, 2011.
said post. On account thereof, Atty. Vinluan is thus declared unfit to assume
the position of IBP President. To the Court, if Atty. Vinluan cannot be fit to SO ORDERED.
become a Governor and EVP of the IBP then he is not entitled to succeed as
its President for the 2009-2011 term.
Republic of the Philippines No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey
SUPREME COURT Laserna.
Manila
Judge Penuela instructed the civil docket clerk to retrieve the records of
EN BANC Special Proceedings Case No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of
Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna. It was then discovered that the RTC had
A.C. No. 6732, October 22, 2013 no record of Special Proceedings No. 084 wherein Shirley Quioyo was the
petitioner. Instead, the court files revealed that Judge Penuela had decided
ATTY. OSCAR L. EMBIDO, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL BUREAU Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of
OF INVESTIGATION, WESTERN VISAYAS, REGIONAL OFFICE (NBI- Presumptive Death of Rolando Austria, whose petitioner was one Serena
WEVRO), FOR SAN PEDRO, ILOILO CITY, Complainant, vs. ATTY. Catin Austria.
SALVADOR N. PE, JR., ASSISTANT PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR, SAN
JOSE, ANTIQUE, Respondent. Informed that the requested decision and case records did not exist, Mr. Hunt
sent a letter dated October 12, 2004 attaching a machine copy of the
purported decision in Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In the Matter of
DECISION
the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna that had been
presented by Shirley Quioyo in court proceedings in the UK.
BERSAMIN, J.:
After comparing the two documents and ascertaining that the document
A lawyer who forges a court decision and represents it as that of a court of attached to the October 12, 2004 letter was a falsified court document, Judge
law is guilty of the gravest misconduct and deserves the supreme penalty of Penuela wrote Mr. Hunt to apprise him of the situation.
disbarment.
The discovery of the falsified decision prompted the Clerk of Court to
The Case communicate on the situation in writing to the NBI, triggering the investigation
of the falsification.
Before this Court is the complaint for disbarment against Assistant Provincial
Prosecutor Atty. Salvador N. Pe, Jr. (respondent) of San Jose, Antique for In the meanwhile, Dy Quioyo, a brother of Shirley Quioyo, executed an
his having allegedly falsified an inexistent decision of Branch 64 of the affidavit on March 4, 2005, wherein he stated that it was the respondent who
Regional Trial Court stationed in Bugasong, Antique (RTC) instituted by the had facilitated the issuance of the falsified decision in Special Proceedings
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Western Visayas Regional Office, No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey
represented by Regional Director Atty. Oscar L. Embido. Laserna for a fee of P60,000.00. The allegations against the respondent
were substantially corroborated by Mary Rose Quioyo, a sister of Shirley
Antecedent Quioyo, in an affidavit dated March 20, 2005.

On July 7, 2004, Atty. Ronel F. Sustituya, Clerk of Court of the RTC, received The NBI invited the respondent to explain his side, but he invoked his
a written communication from Mr. Ballam Delaney Hunt, a Solicitor in the constitutional right to remain silent. The NBI also issued subpoenas to
United Kingdom (UK). The letter requested a copy of the decision dated Shirley Quioyo and Dy Quioyo but only the latter appeared and gave his
February 12, 1997 rendered by Judge Rafael O. Penuela in Special sworn statement.
Proceedings Case No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of
Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna, whose petitioner was one Shirley After conducting its investigation, the NBI forwarded to the Office of the
Quioyo. Ombudsman for Visayas the records of the investigation, with a
recommendation that the respondent be prosecuted for falsification of public
On September 9, 2004, the RTC received another letter from Mr. Hunt, document under Article 171, 1 and 2, of the Revised Penal Code, and for
reiterating the request for a copy of the decision in Special Proceedings Case violation of Section 3(a) of Republic Act 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act). The NBI likewise recommended to the Office of the Court
Administrator that disbarment proceedings be commenced against the was obtained in Recto, Manila, why was it an almost verbatim reproduction of
respondent. Then Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (now a the authentic decision on file in Judge Penuela’s branch except for the
Member of the Court) officially endorsed the recommendation to the Office of names and dates? Respondent failed to explain this. Secondly, respondent
the Bar Confidant. did not attend the NBI investigation and merely invoked his right to remain
silent. If his side of the story were true, he should have made this known in
Upon being required by the Court, the respondent submitted his counter- the investigation. His story therefore appears to have been a mere
affidavit, whereby he denied any participation in the falsification. He insisted afterthought. Finally, there is no plausible reason why Dy Quioyo and his
that Dy Quioyo had sought his opinion on Shirley’s petition for the annulment sister, Mary Rose Quioyo would falsely implicate him in this incident.
of her marriage; that he had given advice on the pertinent laws involved and
the different grounds for the annulment of marriage; that in June 2004, Dy In its Resolution No. XVII-2007-063 dated February 1, 2007, the IBP Board
Quioyo had gone back to him to present a copy of what appeared to be a of Governors adopted and approved, with modification, the report and
court decision; that Dy Quioyo had then admitted to him that he had caused recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner by suspending the
the falsification of the decision; that he had advised Dy Quioyo that the respondent from the practice of law for six years.
falsified decision would not hold up in an investigation; that Dy Quioyo, an
overseas Filipino worker (OFW), had previously resorted to people on Recto On December 11, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No.
Avenue in Manila to solve his documentation problems as an OFW; and that XVIII-2008-709 denying the respondent’s motion for reconsideration and
he had also learned from Atty. Angeles Orquia, Jr. that one Mrs. Florencia affirming Resolution No. XVII-2007-063. The IBP Board of Governors then
Jalipa, a resident of Igbalangao, Bugasong, Antique, had executed a sworn forwarded the case to the Court in accordance with Section 12(b), Rule 139-
statement before Police Investigator Herminio Dayrit with the assistance of B of the Rules of Court.
Atty. Orquia, Jr. to the effect that her late husband, Manuel Jalipa, had been
responsible for making the falsified document at the instance of Dy Quioyo.
On January 11, 2011, the Court resolved: (1) to treat the respondent’s
comment/opposition as his appeal by petition for review; (2) to consider the
Thereafter, the Court issued its resolution treating the respondent’s counter- complainant’s reply as his comment on the petition for review; (3) to require
affidavit as his comment, and referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the the respondent to file a reply to the complainant’s comment within 10 days
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. from notice; and (4) to direct the IBP to transmit the original records of the
case within 15 days from notice.
The IBP’s Report and Recommendation
Ruling
In a report and recommendation dated June 14, 2006, Atty. Lolita A.
Quisumbing, the IBP Investigating Commissioner, found the respondent We affirm the findings of the IBP Board of Governors. Indeed, the respondent
guilty of serious misconduct and violations of the Attorney’s Oath and Code was guilty of grave misconduct for falsifying a court decision in consideration
of Professional Responsibility, and recommended his suspension from the of a sum of money.
practice of law for one year. She concluded that the respondent had forged
the purported decision of Judge Penuela by making it appear that Special The respondent’s main defense consisted in blanket denial of the imputation.
Proceedings No. 084 concerned a petition for declaration of presumptive
He insisted that he had had no hand in the falsification, and claimed that the
death of Rey Laserna, with Shirley Quioyo as the petitioner, when in truth
falsification had been the handiwork of Dy Quioyo. He implied that Dy Quioyo
and in fact the proceedings related to the petition for declaration of
had resorted to the shady characters in Recto Avenue in Manila to resolve
presumptive death of Rolando Austria, with Serena Catin Austria as the
the problems he had encountered as an OFW, hinting that Dy Quioyo had a
petitioner; and that the respondent had received P60,000.00 from Dy Quioyo history of employing unscrupulous means to achieve his ends.
for the falsified decision. She rationalized her conclusions thusly:
However, the respondent’s denial and his implication against Dy Quioyo in
Respondent’s denials are not worthy of merit. Respondent contends that it
the illicit generation of the falsified decision are not persuasive. Dy Quioyo’s
was one Manuel Jalipa (deceased) who facilitated the issuance and as proof
categorical declaration on the respondent’s personal responsibility for the
thereof, he presented the sworn statement of the widow of Florencia Jalipa falsified decision, which by nature was positive evidence, was not overcome
(sic). Such a contention is hard to believe. In the first place, if the decision by the respondent’s blanket denial, which by nature was negative evidence.
Also, the imputation of wrongdoing against Dy Quioyo lacked credible x x x support [the] Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders
specifics and did not command credence. It is worthy to note, too, that the of the duly constituted authorities therein; xxx do no falsehood, nor consent
respondent filed his counter-affidavit only after the Court, through the en to the doing of any in court; x x x not wittingly or willingly promote or sue on
banc resolution of May 10, 2005, had required him to comment. The groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; x x x
belatedness of his response exposed his blanket denial as nothing more than delay no man for money or malice, and x x x conduct [themselves as
an afterthought. lawyers] according to the best of [their] knowledge and discretion with all
good fidelity as well to the courts as to [their] clients x x x.
The respondent relied on the sworn statement supposedly executed by Mrs.
Jalipa that declared that her deceased husband had been instrumental in the No lawyer should ever lose sight of the verity that the practice of the legal
falsification of the forged decision. But such reliance was outrightly worthless, profession is always a privilege that the Court extends only to the deserving,
for the sworn statement of the wife was rendered unreliable due to its and that the Court may withdraw or deny the privilege to him who fails to
patently hearsay character. In addition, the unworthiness of the sworn observe and respect the Lawyer’s Oath and the canons of ethical conduct in
statement as proof of authorship of the falsification by the husband is his professional and private capacities. He may be disbarred or suspended
immediately exposed and betrayed by the falsified decision being an almost from the practice of law not only for acts and omissions of malpractice and
verbatim reproduction of the authentic decision penned by Judge Penuela in for dishonesty in his professional dealings, but also for gross misconduct not
the real Special Proceedings Case No. 084. directly connected with his professional duties that reveal his unfitness for the
office and his unworthiness of the principles that the privilege to practice law
In light of the established circumstances, the respondent was guilty of grave confers upon him. Verily, no lawyer is immune from the disciplinary authority
misconduct for having authored the falsification of the decision in a non- of the Court whose duty and obligation are to investigate and punish lawyer
existent court proceeding. Canon 7 of the Code of Professional misconduct committed either in a professional or private capacity. The test is
Responsibility demands that all lawyers should uphold at all times the dignity whether the conduct shows the lawyer to be wanting in moral character,
and integrity of the Legal Profession. Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional honesty, probity, and good demeanor, and whether the conduct renders the
Responsibility states that “a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that lawyer unworthy to continue as an officer of the Court.
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 WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS AND PRONOUNCES ASST. PROVINCIAL
profession.” Lawyers are further required by Rule 1.01 of the Code of PROSECUTOR SALVADOR N. PE, JR. guilty of violating Rule 1.01 of
Professional Responsibility not to engage in any unlawful, dishonest and Canon 1, and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the Code of Professional
immoral or deceitful conduct. Responsibility, and DISBARS him effective upon receipt of this decision.

Gross immorality, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or The Court DIRECTS the Bar Confidant to remove the name of ASST.
fraudulent transactions can justify a lawyer’s disbarment or suspension from PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR SALVADOR N. PE, JR. from the Roll of
the practice of law. Specifically, the deliberate falsification of the court Attorneys.
decision by the respondent was an act that reflected a high degree of moral
turpitude on his part. Worse, the act made a mockery of the administration of This decision is without prejudice to any pending or contemplated
justice in this country, given the purpose of the falsification, which was to proceedings to be initiated against ASST. PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR
mislead a foreign tribunal on the personal status of a person. He thereby SALVADOR N. PE, JR.
became unworthy of continuing as a member of the Bar.
Let copies of this decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
It then becomes timely to remind all members of the Philippine Bar that they Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts of the country,
should do nothing that may in any way or degree lessen the confidence of and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
the public in their professional fidelity and integrity. The Court will not hesitate
to wield its heavy hand of discipline on those among them who wittingly and
SO ORDERED.i
willingly fail to meet the enduring demands of their Attorney’s Oath for them
to:
Republic of the Philippines Vera then had all the documents notarized before one Atty. DonatoManguiat
SUPREME COURT (Atty. Manguiat).
Manila
Later, however, Lachica discovered the falsification and immediately
FIRST DIVISION disowned the signature affixed in the affidavit and submitted his own
Affidavit, declaring that he did not authorize Papin to sign the document on
A.C. No. 10451, February 04, 2015 his behalf. Lachica’s affidavit was presented to the MeTC and drew the ire of
Presiding Judge Edgardo Belosillo (Judge Belosillo), who ruled that the
affidavits filed by Atty. De Vera were falsified. Judge Belosillo pointed out that
SPOUSES WILLIE AND AMELIA UMAGUING, Complainants, vs. ATTY. while Atty. De Vera filed a pleading to rectify this error (i.e., an Answer to
WALLEN R. DE VERA, Respondents. Counterclaim with Omnibus Motion, seeking, among others, the withdrawal
of Lachica’s and Almera’s affidavits), it was observed that such was a mere
DECISION flimsy excuse since Atty. De Vera had ample amount of time to have the
affidavits personally signed by the affiants but still hastily filed the election
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: protest with full knowledge that the affidavits at hand were falsified.

This administrative case stemmed from a Complaint for the alleged betrayal In further breach of his oath as a lawyer, the complainants pointed out that
of trust, incompetence, and gross misconduct of respondent Atty. Wallen R. Atty. De Vera did not appear before the MeTC, although promptly notified, for
De Vera (Atty. De Vera) in his handling of the election protest case involving a certain December 11, 2007 hearing; and did not offer any explanation as to
the candidacy of MariecrisUmaguing (Umaguing), daughter of Sps. Willie and why he was not able to attend.
Amelia Umaguing (complainants), for the SangguniangKabataan (SK)
Elections, instituted before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, The complainants then confronted Atty. De Vera and asked for an
Branch 36 (MeTC), docketed as ELEC. CASE No. 07-1279. explanation regarding his non-appearance in the court. Atty. De Vera
explained that he was hesitant in handling the particular case because of the
The Facts alleged favoritism of Judge Belosillo. According to Atty. De Vera, Judge
Belosillo received P60,000.00 from the defense counsel, Atty. Carmelo
As alleged in the Complaint, Umaguing ran for the position of SK Chairman Culvera, in order to acquire a favorable decision for his client. Atty. De Vera
in the SK Elections for the year 2007 but lost to her rival Jose Gabriel averred that he would only appear for the case if the complainants would
Bungag by one (1) vote. Because of this, complainants lodged an election give him P80,000.00, which he would in turn, give to Judge Belosillo to
protest and enlisted the services of Atty. De Vera. On November 7, 2007, secure a favorable decision for Umaguing.
complainants were asked by Atty. De Vera to pay his acceptance fee of
P30,000.00, plus various court appearance fees and miscellaneous On December 12, 2007, for lack of trust and confidence in the integrity and
expenses in the amount of P30,000.00. According to the complainants, Atty. competency of Atty. De Vera, as well as his breach of fiduciary relations, the
De Vera had more than enough time to prepare and file the case but the complainants asked the former to withdraw as their counsel and to reimburse
former moved at a glacial pace and only took action when the November 8, them the P60,000.00 in excessive fees he collected from them, considering
2008 deadline was looming. Atty. De Vera then rushed the preparation of the that he only appeared twice for the case.
necessary documents and attachments for the election protest. Two (2) of
these attachments are the Affidavits of material witnesses Mark Anthony In his Counter-Affidavit, Atty. De Vera vehemently denied all the accusations
Lachica (Lachica) and Angela Almera (Almera), which was personally lodged against him by complainants. He averred that he merely prepared the
prepared by Atty. De Vera. At the time that the aforesaid affidavits were essential documents for election protest based on the statements of his
needed to be signed by Lachica and Almera, they were unfortunately clients. Atty. De Vera then explained that the signing of Lachica’s falsified
unavailable. To remedy this, Atty. De Vera allegedly instructed AbethLalong- Affidavit was done without his knowledge and likewise stated that it was
Isip (Lalong-Isip) and Hendricson Fielding (Fielding) to look for the nearest Christina Papin who should be indicted and charged with the corresponding
kin or relatives of Lachica and Almera and ask them to sign over the criminal offense. He added that he actually sought to rectify his mistakes by
names. The signing over of Lachica’s and Almera’s names were done by filing the aforementioned Answer to Counterclaim with Omnibus Motion in
Christina Papin (Papin) and Elsa Almera-Almacen, respectively. Atty. De order to withdraw the affidavits of Lachica and Almera. As he supposedly felt
that he could no longer serve complainants with his loyalty and devotion in December 14, 2012 Resolution, decreasing the period of suspension from
view of the aforementioned signing incident, Atty. De Vera then withdrew two (2) months to one (1) month.
from the case. To add, he pointed out that along with his Formal Notice of
Withdrawal of Counsel, complainants executed a document entitled “Release The Issue Before the Court
Waiver & Discharge,” which, to him, discharges him and his law firm from all
causes of action that complainants may have against him, including the The sole issue in this case is whether or not Atty. De Vera should be held
instant administrative case. administratively liable.

After the conduct of the mandatory conference/hearing before the Integrated The Court’s Ruling
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline, the matter was
submitted for report and recommendation. The Court adopts and approves the findings of the IBP, as the same were
duly substantiated by the records. However, the Court finds it apt to increase
The Report and Recommendation of the IBP the period of suspension to six (6) months.

In a Report and Recommendation dated December 5, 2009, the IBP Fundamental is the rule that in his dealings with his client and with the courts,
Commissioner found the administrative action to be impressed with merit, every lawyer is expected to be honest, imbued with integrity, and trustworthy.
and thus recommended that Atty. De Vera be suspended from the practice of These expectations, though high and demanding, are the professional and
law for a period of two (2) months. ethical burdens of every member of the Philippine Bar, for they have been
While no sufficient evidence was found to support the allegation that Atty. De given full expression in the Lawyer’s Oath that every lawyer of this country
Vera participated in the falsification of Lachica’s affidavit, the IBP has taken upon admission as a bona fide member of the Law Profession,
Commissioner ruled oppositely with respect to the falsification of Almera’s thus:
affidavit, to which issue Atty. De Vera deliberately omitted to comment on.
The Investigating Commissioner pointed out that the testimony of Elsa I, ___________________, do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance
Almera-Almacen, Almera’s sister – attesting that Lalong-Isip approached her to the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey the
and asked if she could sign the affidavit, and her vivid recollection that Atty. laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I
De Vera was present during its signing, and that Lalong-Isip declared to Atty. will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not
De Vera that she was not Almera – was found to be credible as it was too wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor
straightforward and hard to ignore. It was also observed that the backdrop in give aid nor consent to the same. I will delay no man for money or malice,
which the allegations were made, i.e., that the signing of the affidavits was and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge
done on November 7, 2007, or one day before the deadline for the filing of and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and
the election protest, showed that Atty. De Vera was really pressed for time I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation
and, hence, his resort to the odious act of advising his client’s campaigners or purpose of evasion. So help me God. (Emphasis and underscoring
Lalong-Isip and Fielding to look for kin and relatives of the affiants for and in supplied)
their behalf in his earnest desire to beat the deadline set for the filing of the
election protest. To this, the IBP Investigating Commissioner remarked that The Lawyer’s Oath enjoins every lawyer not only to obey the laws of the land
the lawyer’s first duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice, but also to refrain from doing any falsehood in or out of court or from
and therefore, his conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously consenting to the doing of any in court, and to conduct himself according to
observant of the law and ethics of the profession. the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity to the courts as
well as to his clients. Every lawyer is a servant of the law, and has to observe
In a Resolution dated December 14, 2012, the Board of Governors of the IBP and maintain the rule of law as well as be an exemplar worthy of emulation
resolved to adopt the findings of the IBP Commissioner. Hence, for by others. It is by no means a coincidence, therefore, that the core values of
knowingly submitting a falsified document in court, a two (2) month honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness are emphatically reiterated by the
suspension was imposed against Atty. De Vera. Code of Professional Responsibility. In this light, Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility provides that “[a] lawyer shall not do any
On reconsideration, however, the IBP Board of Governors issued a falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or
Resolution dated February 11, 2014, affirming with modification their allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.”
After an assiduous examination of the records, the Court finds itself in A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or
complete agreement with the IBP Investigating Commissioner, who was lack of interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of
affirmed by the IBP Board of Governors, in holding that Atty. De Vera the facts borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral
sanctioned the submission of a falsified affidavit, i.e., Almera’s affidavit, conduct has been proven. This rule is premised on the nature of disciplinary
before the court in his desire to beat the November 8, 2008 deadline for filing proceedings. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not a civil action
the election protest of Umaguing. To this, the Court is wont to sustain the IBP where the complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a
Investigating Commissioner’s appreciation of Elsa Almera-Almacen’s defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no
credibility as a witness given that nothing appears on record to seriously redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for
belie the same, and in recognition too of the fact that the IBP and its officers the public welfare. They are undertaken for the purpose of preserving courts
are in the best position to assess the witness’s credibility during disciplinary of justice from the official administration of persons unfit to practice in them.
proceedings, as they – similar to trial courts – are given the opportunity to The attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of
first-hand observe their demeanor and comportment. The assertion that Atty. the court. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court
De Vera authorized the falsification of Almera’s affidavit is rendered more to the attorney’s alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally
believable by the absence of Atty. De Vera’s comment on the same. In fact, no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper
in his Motion for Reconsideration of the IBP Board of Governors’ Resolution administration of justice.
dated December 14, 2012, no specific denial was proffered by Atty. De Vera
on this score. Instead, he only asserted that he was not the one who All told, Atty. De Vera is found guilty of violating the Lawyer’s Oath and Rule
notarized the subject affidavits but another notary public, who he does not 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility by submitting a
even know or has seen in his entire life, and that he had no knowledge of the falsified document before a court.
falsification of the impugned documents, much less of the participation in
using the same. Unfortunately for Atty. De Vera, the Court views the same to As for the penalty, the Court, in the case of Samonte v. Atty. Abellana
be a mere general denial which cannot overcome Elsa Almera-Almacen’s (Samonte), suspended the lawyer therein from the practice of law for six (6)
positive testimony that he indeed participated in the procurement of her months for filing a spurious document in court. In view of the antecedents in
signature and the signing of the affidavit, all in support of the claim of this case, the Court finds it appropriate to impose the same here.
falsification.
Likewise, the Court grants the prayer for reimbursement for the return of the
The final lining to it all – for which the IBP Board of Governors rendered its amount of P60,000.00, comprised of Atty. De Vera’s acceptance fee and
recommendation – is that Almera’s affidavit was submitted to the MeTC in other legal expenses intrinsically related to his professional engagement, for
the election protest case. The belated retraction of the questioned affidavits, he had actually admitted his receipt thereof in his Answer before the IBP.
through the Answer to Counterclaim with Omnibus Motion, does not, for this
Court, merit significant consideration as its submission appears to be a mere As a final word, the Court echoes its unwavering exhortation in Samonte:
afterthought, prompted only by the discovery of the falsification. Truth be told,
it is highly improbable for Atty. De Vera to have remained in the dark about Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are designed to ensure that
the authenticity of the documents he himself submitted to the court when his whoever is granted the privilege to practice law in this country should remain
professional duty requires him to represent his client with zeal and within the faithful to the Lawyer’s Oath. Only thereby can lawyers preserve their fitness
bounds of the law. Likewise, he is prohibited from handling any legal matter to remain as members of the Law Profession. Any resort to falsehood or
without adequate preparationor allow his client to dictate the procedure in deception, including adopting artifices to cover up one’s misdeeds committed
handling the case. against clients and the rest of the trusting public, evinces an unworthiness to
continue enjoying the privilege to practice law and highlights the unfitness to
On a related point, the Court deems it apt to clarify that the document remain a member of the Law Profession. It deserves for the guilty lawyer
captioned “Release Waiver & Discharge” which Atty. De Vera, in his Counter- stern disciplinary sanctions.
Affidavit, claimed to have discharged him from all causes of action that
complainants may have against him, such as the present case, would not WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Wallen R. De Vera (respondent) is
deny the Court its power to sanction him administratively. It was held in Ylaya found GUILTY of violating the Lawyer’s Oath and Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of
v. Gacott that: the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is SUSPENDED for
six (6) months from the practice of law, effective upon receipt of this
Decision, with a stern warning that any repetition of the same or similar acts
will be punished more severely.

Moreover, respondent is ORDERED to return to complainants Spouses Willie


and Amelia Umaguing the amount of P60,000.00 which he admittedly
received from the latter as fees intrinsically linked to his professional
engagement within ninety (90) days from the finality of this Decision. Failure
to comply with the foregoing directive will warrant the imposition of further
administrative penalties.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be
appended to respondent’s personal record as attorney. Further, let copies of
this Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office
of the Court Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all courts in
the country for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines 4. Deed of Absolute Sale executedby Rowena Berja, notarized on March
SUPREME COURT 17, 2008;
Manila 5. Deed of Donation executed by and between Crispulo Rodriguez and
Luisa Rodriguez Jorgensen, notarized on April 8, 2008;
SECOND DIVISION 6. Extra Judicial Settlement of Estate with Waiver of Rights executed by the
wife and sons of Rodrigo Dy Jongco, notarized March 19, 2008;
A.C. No. 8103, December 3, 2014 7. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Sps. Rolando and
Nelia Francisco and Violeta Hernandez, notarized on April 3, 2008;
8. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Josefina Baluyot and
ATTY. AURELIO C. ANGELES, JR., PROVINCIAL LEGAL OFFICER, Carmelita Padlan, notarized on April 3, 2008;
BATAAN CAPITOL, BALANGA CITY, BATAAN, Complainant, vs. 9. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Gregorio Limcumpao and Simeona
ATTY. RENATO C. BAGAY, Respondent. Limcumpao, notarized on March 27, 2008;
10. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Sps. Eusebio and
DECISION Libertad Bacricio and Carlos Tamayo married to Teresa Tamayo
notarized on March 18, 2008;
MENDOZA, J.: 11. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Natividad S.
Consengco and Sps. Gilvert and Johanna Gervacio, notarized March 18,
Subject of this disposition is the September 28, 2013 Resolution or the IBP 2008;
Board of Governors which reads: 12. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between the Rural Bank of Pilar
and Mila Gatdula, notarized on April 2, 2008;
13. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Natividad Cosengco
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously
and Sps. Jay and Helen Zulueta, notarized on March 18, 2008;
ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the
14. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Cipriano and Salvacion Violago,
Investigating Commissioner xxx and finding the recommendation fully
notarized on April 1, 2008;
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules and
15. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Sahara Management and
considering the Respondent guilty of negligence in the performance of his
Development Corporation, notarized on March 26, 2008;
notarial duty, Atty. Renato C. Bagay's Notarial Commission is hereby
16. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Danilo Arellano,
immediately REVOKED. Further, he is DISQUALIFIED from reappointment
Luzviminda Ramos and Sps. Fernando and Agnes Silva, notarized on
as Notary Public for two (2) years.
March 18, 2008;
17. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Vicente Banzon
It appears from the records that this case stemmed from the letter, dated married to Elizabeth Banzon and Sps. Dommel and Crystal Lima,
June 11, 2008, submitted by Atty. Aurelio C. Angeles, Jr. (Atty. Angeles, Jr.), notarized on April 2, 2008; and
the Provincial Legal Officer of Bataan, to Hon. Remigio M. Escalada, Jr. 18. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Marilyn T. Casupanan
(Executive Judge), Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Bataan and Dominador M. Manalansan notarized on March 14, 2008.
against Atty. Renato C. Bagay (respondent), for his alleged notarization of 18
documents at the time he was out of the country from March 13, 2008 to April
These documents were endorsed to the Provincial Legal Office by the
8, 2008. The notarized documents were as follows:
Provincial Treasurer who had information that they were notarized while
respondent was outside the country attending the Prayer and Life Workshop
1. Deed of Donation executed by and between Renato Macalinao and in Mexico. The letter contained the affidavits of the persons who caused the
Loida C. Macalinao and Trisha Katrina Macalinao, notarized on April 3, documents to be notarized which showed a common statement that they did
2008; not see respondent sign the documents himself and it was either the
2. Deed of Donation executed by and between Renato S. Sese and Sandy secretary who signed them or the documents cameout of the office already
Margaret L. Sese, notarized on March 25, 2008; signed. Upon verification with the Bureau of Immigration, it was found out
3. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Josefina A. Castro that a certain Renato C. Bagay departed from the country on March 13, 2008
married to Eduardo Samson and Thelma Medina and Gina Medina and returned on April 8, 2008. The copy of the Certification issued by the
notarized on April 3, 2008; Bureau of Immigration was also attached to the letter.
The Executive Judge referred the matter to the IBP, Bataan Chapter, and the secretary who was not aware of the import of the act. Thus, by his own
latter endorsed the same to the IBP National Office for appropriate action. admission, it was established that by his negligence in employing an office
The latter endorsed it to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD). secretary who had access to his office, his notarial seal and records
especially pertaining to his notarial documents without the proper training,
When CBD Director Alicia Risos-Vidal (Atty. Risos-Vidal) required Atty. respondent failed to live up to the standard required by the Rules on Notarial
Angeles, Jr. to formalize the complaint, the latter replied on September 30, Practice.
2008 stating, among others, that his June 11, 2008 Letter was not intended
to be a formal complaint but rather "a report on, and endorsement of, public Finding respondent guilty of negligence in the performance of his notarial
documents by Atty. Bagay while he was out of the country," and that any duty which gave his office secretary the opportunity to abuse his prerogative
advice on how to consider or treat the documents concerned would be authority as notary public, the Investigating Commissioner recommended the
welcome. immediate revocation of respondent’s commission as notary public and his
disqualification to be commissioned as such for a period of two (2) years.
On December 3, 2008, Atty. Risos-Vidal opted to endorse the matter to the
Office of the Bar Confidant for appropriate action. The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the said
recommendation in its Resolution, dated September 28, 2013.
This Court, in its Resolution, dated February 2, 2009, resolved to note the
letter of Atty. Angeles, Jr., dated September 30, 2008, and require Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the said resolution of the
respondent to comment on the said letter. In his comment, dated 27 March IBP. He contended that by admitting and owning up to what had happened,
2009, respondent claimed that he was not aware that those were documents but without any wrongful intention, he should be merited with leniency.
notarized using his name while he was out of the country. Upon his own Moreover, he claimed that he only committed simple negligence which did
inquiry, he found out that the notarizations were done by his secretary and not warrant such harsh penalty.
without his knowledge and authority. The said secretary notarized the
documents without realizing the import of the notarization act. Respondent On May 4, 2014, the IBP Board of Governors denied the motion for
apologized to the Court for his lapses and averred that he had terminated the reconsideration of respondent stating:
employment of his secretary from his office.
RESOLVED to DENY Respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration, there being
The Court then referred the case tothe IBP for investigation, report and no cogent reason to reverse the findings of the Commission and the
recommendation. When the case was called for mandatory conference on resolution subject of the motion, it being a mere reiteration of the matters
September 16, 2009, only respondent appeared. Atty. Angeles filed a which had already been threshed out and taken into consideration. Thus,
manifestation reiterating his original position and requesting that his Resolution No. XX-2013-85 dated September 28, 2013 is hereby affirmed.
attendance be excused. The mandatory conference was terminated and the
parties were directed to file their respective position papers. Only respondent
On August 1, 2014, the Director for Bar Discipline endorsed the May 4, 2014
submitted a position paper, to which he added that for 21 years that he had Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors to the Office of the Chief Justice
been practicing law, he acted as a notary public without any blemish on for appropriate action.
record dutifully minding the rules of the law profession and notarial practice.
The sole issue to resolve in this case is whether the notarization of
The Report and Recommendation of Atty. Felimon C. Abelita III (Atty. Abelita
documents by the secretary of respondent while he was out of the country
III) as Investigating Commissioner found that the letter of Atty. Angeles, Jr., constituted negligence.
dated June11, 2008, was not verified, that most of the attachments were not
authenticated photocopies and that the comment of respondent was likewise
not verified. Atty. Abelita III, however, observed that respondent’s signature The Court answers in the affirmative.
on his comment appeared to be strikingly similar to the signatures in most of
the attached documents which he admitted were notarized in his absence by Respondent admitted in his commentand motion for reconsideration that the
his office secretary.He admitted the fact that there were documents that were 18 documents were notarized under his notarial seal by his office secretary
notarized while he was abroad and his signature was affixed by his office 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 Respondent also violated his obligation under Canon 7 of the CPR, which
Public" refers to any person commissioned to perform official acts under directs every lawyer to uphold at all times the integrity and dignity of the legal
these Rules. A notary public’s secretary is obviously not commissioned to profession. The people who came into his office while he was away, were
perform the official acts of a notary public. Respondent cannot take refuge in clueless as to the illegality of the activity being conducted therein. They
his claim that it was his secretary’s act which he did not authorize. He is expected that their documents would be converted into public documents.
responsible for the acts of the secretary which he employed. He left his office Instead, they later found out that the notarization of their documents was a
open to the public while leaving his secretary in charge. He kept his notarial mere sham and without any force and effect. By prejudicing the persons
seal and register within the reach of his secretary, fully aware that his whose documents were notarized by an unauthorized person, their faith in
secretary could use these items to notarize documents and copy his the integrity and dignity of the legal profession was eroded.
signature. Such blatant negligence cannot be countenanced by this Court
and it is far from being a simple negligence. There is an inescapable Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, an additional penalty of
likelihood that respondent’s flimsy excuse was a mere afterthought and such suspension from the practice of law for three (3) months is in order.
carelessness exhibited by him could be a conscious act of what his secretary
did. Respondent should remember that a notarial commission is a privilege and a
significant responsibility. It is a privilege granted only to those who are
Respondent must fully bear the consequence of his negligence. A person qualified to perform duties imbued with public interest. As we have declared
who is commissioned as a notary public takes full responsibility for all the on several occasions, notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary
entries in his notarial register. He cannot relieve himself of this responsibility act. It is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who
by passing the buck to his secretary. are qualified or authorized may act as notary public. The protection of that
interest necessarily requires that those not qualified or authorized to act must
As to his plea of leniency, the Court cannot consider it. Respondent claims be prevented from imposing upon the public, the courts, and the
that for the 21 years that he has been practicing law, he acted as a notary administrative offices in general.
public without any blemish and this was his first and only infraction. His
experience, however, should have placed him on guard and could have It must be underscored that notarization by a notary public converts a private
prevented possible violations of his notarial duty. By his sheer negligence, 18 document into a public document, making that document admissible in
documents were notarized by an unauthorized person and the public was evidence without further proof of its authenticity. Thus, notaries public must
deceived. Such prejudicial act towards the public cannot be tolerated by this observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of their
Court. Thus, the penalty of revocation of notarial commission and duties. Otherwise, the confidence of the public in the integrity of public
disqualification from reappointment as Notary Public for two (2) years is instruments would be undermined.
appropriate.
Let this serve as a reminder to the members of the legal profession that the
Because of the negligence of respondent, the Court also holds him liable for Court will not take lightly complaints of unauthorized acts of notarization,
violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).His failure to especially when the trust and confidence reposed by the public in our legal
solemnly perform his duty as a notary public not only damaged those directly system hang in the balance.
affected by the notarized documents but also undermined the integrity of a
notary public and degraded the function of notarization. He should, thus, be
WHEREFORE, the recommendation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
held liable for such negligence not only as a notary public but also as a
is ADOPTED with MODIFICATION. Finding Atty. Renato C. Bagay grossly
lawyer. Where the notary public is a lawyer, a graver responsibility is placed
negligent in his duty as a notary public, the Court REVOKES his notarial
upon his shoulder by reason of his solemn oath to obey the laws and to do
commission and DISQUALIFIES him from being commissioned as notary
no falsehood or consent to the doing of any. Respondent violated Canon 9 of public for a period of two (2) years. The Court also SUSPENDS him from the
the CPR which requires lawyers not to directly or indirectly assist in the practice of law for three (3) months effective immediately, with a WARNING
unauthorized practice of law. Due to his negligence that allowed his secretary
that the repetition of a similar violation will be dealt with even more severely.
to sign on his behalf as notary public, he allowed an unauthorized person to
practice law. By leaving his office open despite his absence in the country
and with his secretary in charge, he virtually allowed his secretary to notarize
documents without any restraint.
The respondent is DIRECTED to report the date of his receipt of this Republic of the Philippines
Decision to enable this Court to determine when his suspension shall take SUPREME COURT
effect. Manila

Let copies of this Decision be furnished to Office of the Bar Confidant to be SECOND DIVISION
appended to Atty. Renato C. Bagay's personal record; the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines; and all courts in the country for their information and A.C. No. 9604, March 20, 2013
guidance.
RODRIGO E. TAPAY and ANTHONY J. RUSTIA, Complainants, vs. ATTY.
SO ORDERED. CHARLIE L. BANCOLO and ATTY. JANUS T. JARDER, Respondents.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This administrative case arose from a Complaint tiled by Rodrigo E. Tapay


(Tapay) and Anthony J. Rustia (Rustia), both employees of the Sugar
Regulatory Administration, against Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo (Atty. Bancolo)
and Atty. Janus T. larder (Atty. Jarder) for violation of the Canons of Ethics
and Professionalism, Falsification of Public Document, Gross Dishonesty,
and Harassment.

The Facts

Sometime in October 2004, Tapay and Rustia received an Order dated 14


October 2004 from the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas requiring them to
file a counter-affidavit to a complaint for usurpation of authority, falsification
of public document, and graft and corrupt practices filed against them by
Nehimias Divinagracia, Jr. (Divinagracia), a co-employee in the Sugar
Regulatory Administration. The Complaint dated 31 August 2004 was
allegedly signed on behalf of Divinagracia by one Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo of
the Jarder Bancolo Law Office based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

When Atty. Bancolo and Rustia accidentally chanced upon each other, the
latter informed Atty. Bancolo of the case filed against them before the Office
of the Ombudsman. Atty. Bancolo denied that he represented Divinagracia
since he had yet to meet Divinagracia in person. When Rustia showed him
the Complaint, Atty. Bancolo declared that the signature appearing above his
name as counsel for Divinagracia was not his. Thus, Rustia convinced Atty.
Bancolo to sign an affidavit to attest to such fact. On 9 December 2004, Atty.
Bancolo signed an affidavit denying his supposed signature appearing on the
Complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman and submitted six
specimen signatures for comparison. Using Atty. Bancolo's affidavit and forged. Complainants attached a Report dated 1 July 2005 by the Philippine
other documentary evidence, Tapay and Rustia filed a counter-affidavit National Police Crime Laboratory 6 which examined three other letter-
accusing Divinagracia of falsifying the signature of his alleged counsel, Atty. complaints signed by Atty. Bancolo for other clients, allegedly close friends of
Bancolo. Atty. Jarder. The report concluded that the questioned signatures in the
letter-complaints and the submitted standard signatures of Atty. Bancolo
In a Resolution dated 28 March 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman were not written by one and the same person. Thus, complainants
provisionally dismissed the Complaint since the falsification of the counsel's maintained that not only were respondents engaging in unprofessional and
signature posed a prejudicial question to the Complaint's validity. Also, the unethical practices, they were also involved in falsification of documents
Office of the Ombudsman ordered that separate cases for Falsification of used to harass and persecute innocent people.
Public Document and Dishonesty be filed against Divinagracia, with Rustia
and Atty. Bancolo as complainants. On 9 January 2006, complainants filed a Supplement to the Disbarment
Complaint Due to Additional Information. They alleged that a certain Mary
Thereafter, Divinagracia filed his Counter-Affidavit dated 1 August 2005 Jane Gentugao, the secretary of the Jarder Bancolo Law Office, forged the
denying that he falsified the signature of his former lawyer, Atty. Bancolo. signature of Atty. Bancolo.
Divinagracia presented as evidence an affidavit dated 1 August 2005 by
Richard A. Cordero, the legal assistant of Atty. Bancolo, that the Jarder In their Answer dated 26 January 2006 to the disbarment complaint,
Bancolo Law Office accepted Divinagracia's case and that the Complaint respondents admitted that the criminal and administrative cases filed by
filed with the Office of the Ombudsman was signed by the office secretary Divinagracia against complainants before the Office of the Ombudsman were
per Atty. Bancolo's instructions. Divinagracia asked that the Office of the accepted by the Jarder Bancolo Law Office. The cases were assigned to
Ombudsman dismiss the cases for falsification of public document and Atty. Bancolo. Atty. Bancolo alleged that after being informed of the
dishonesty filed against him by Rustia and Atty. Bancolo and to revive the assignment of the cases, he ordered his staff to prepare and draft all the
original Complaint for various offenses that he filed against Tapay and necessary pleadings and documents. However, due to some minor lapses,
Rustia. Atty. Bancolo permitted that the pleadings and communications be signed in
his name by the secretary of the law office. Respondents added that
In a Resolution dated 19 September 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman complainants filed the disbarment complaint to retaliate against them since
dismissed the criminal case for falsification of public document (OMB-V-C- the cases filed before the Office of the Ombudsman were meritorious and
05-0207-E) for insufficiency of evidence. The dispositive portion states: strongly supported by testimonial and documentary evidence. Respondents
also denied that Mary Jane Gentugao was employed as secretary of their law
WHEREFORE, the instant case is hereby DISMISSED for insufficiency of office.
evidence, without prejudice to the re-filing by Divinagracia, Jr. of a proper
complaint for violation of RA 3019 and other offenses against Rustia and Tapay and Rustia filed a Reply to the Answer dated 2 March 2006.
Tapay. Thereafter, the parties were directed by the Commission on Bar Discipline to
attend a mandatory conference scheduled on 5 May 2006. The conference
SO ORDERED. was reset to 10 August 2006. On the said date, complainants were present
but respondents failed to appear. The conference was reset to 25 September
2006 for the last time. Again, respondents failed to appear despite receiving
The administrative case for dishonesty (OMB-V-A-05-0219-E) was also notice of the conference. Complainants manifested that they were submitting
dismissed for lack of substantial evidence in a Decision dated 19 September their disbarment complaint based on the documents submitted to the IBP.
2005. Respondents were also deemed to have waived their right to participate in
the mandatory conference. Further, both parties were directed to submit their
On 29 November 2005, Tapay and Rustia filed with the Integrated Bar of the respective position papers. On 27 October 2006, the IBP received
Philippines (IBP) a complaint to disbar Atty. Bancolo and Atty. Jarder, Atty. complainants' position paper dated 18 October 2006 and respondents'
Bancolo's law partner. The complainants alleged that they were subjected to position paper dated 23 October 2006.
a harassment Complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman with the
forged signature of Atty. Bancolo. Complainants stated further that the The IBP's Report and Recommendation
signature of Atty. Bancolo in the Complaint was not the only one that was
On 11 April 2007, Atty. Lolita A. Quisumbing, the Investigating Commissioner administratively liable under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
of the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP, submitted her Report. Atty. Responsibility.
Quisumbing found that Atty. Bancolo violated Rule 9.01 of Canon 9 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility while Atty. Jarder violated Rule 1.01 of On 19 September 2007, in Resolution No. XVIII-2007-97, the Board of
Canon 1 of the same Code. The Investigating Commissioner recommended Governors of the IBP approved with modification the Report and
that Atty. Bancolo be suspended for two years from the practice of law and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner. The Resolution states:
Atty. Jarder be admonished for his failure to exercise certain responsibilities roblesvirtualawliy
in their law firm.
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
In her Report and Recommendation, the Investigating Commissioner opined: APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of
x x x. In his answer, respondent Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo admitted that his this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully
signature appearing in the complaint filed against complainants' Rodrigo E. supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and
Tapay and Anthony J. Rustia with the Ombudsman were signed by the considering Respondent Atty. Bancolo's violation of Rule 9.01, Canon 9 of
secretary. He did not refute the findings that his signatures appearing in the the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo is hereby
various documents released from his office were found not to be his. Such SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year.
pattern of malpratice by respondent clearly breached his obligation under
Rule 9.01 of Canon 9, for a lawyer who allows a non-member to represent However, with regard to the charge against Atty. Janus T. Jarder, the Board
him is guilty of violating the aforementioned Canon. The fact that respondent of Governors RESOLVED as it is hereby RESOLVED to AMEND, as it is
was busy cannot serve as an excuse for him from signing personally. After all hereby AMENDED the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner,
respondent is a member of a law firm composed of not just one (1) lawyer. and APPROVE the DISMISSAL of the case for lack of merit.
The Supreme Court has ruled that this practice constitute negligence and
undersigned finds the act a sign of indolence and ineptitude. Moreover,
Tapay and Rustia filed a Motion for Reconsideration. Likewise, Atty. Bancolo
respondents ignored the notices sent by undersigned. That showed patent filed his Motion for Reconsideration dated 22 December 2007. Thereafter,
lack of respect to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines' Commission on Bar
Atty. Jarder filed his separate Consolidated Comment/Reply to
Discipline and its proceedings. It betrays lack of courtesy and irresponsibility
Complainants' Motion for Reconsideration and Comment Filed by
as lawyers.
Complainants dated 29 January 2008.

On the other hand, Atty. Janus T. Jarder, a senior partner of the law firm In Resolution No. XX-2012-175 dated 9 June 2012, the IBP Board of
Jarder Bancolo and Associates Law Office, failed to exercise certain
Governors denied both complainants' and Atty. Bancolo's motions for
responsibilities over matters under the charge of his law firm. As a senior
reconsideration. The IBP Board found no cogent reason to reverse the
partner[,] he failed to abide to the principle of "command responsibility". x x x.
findings of the Investigating Commissioner and affirmed Resolution No.
XVIII-2007-97 dated 19 September 2007.
xxx

Respondent Atty. Janus Jarder after all is a seasoned practitioner, having


passed the bar in 1995 and practicing law up to the present. He holds himself The Court's Ruling
out to the public as a law firm designated as Jarder Bancolo and Associates
Law Office. It behooves Atty. Janus T. Jarder to exert ordinary diligence to
After a careful review of the records of the case, we agree with the findings
find out what is going on in his law firm, to ensure that all lawyers in his firm
and recommendation of the IBP Board and find reasonable grounds to hold
act in conformity to the Code of Professional Responsibility. As a partner, it is
respondent Atty. Bancolo administratively liable.
his responsibility to provide efficacious control of court pleadings and other
documents that carry the name of the law firm. Had he done that, he could
have known the unethical practice of his law partner Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo. Atty. Bancolo admitted that the Complaint he filed for a former client before
Respondent Atty. Janus T. Jarder failed to perform this task and is the Office of the Ombudsman was signed in his name by a secretary of his
law office. Clearly, this is a violation of Rule 9.01 of Canon 9 of the Code of partner, Atty. Jarder. However, Atty. Bancolo did not take any steps to rectify
Professional Responsibility, which provides: the situation, save for the affidavit he gave to Rustia denying his signature to
the Complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman. Atty. Bancolo had
CANON 9 an opportunity to maintain his innocence when he filed with the IBP his Joint
A LAWYER SHALL NOT, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ASSIST IN THE Answer (with Atty. Jarder) dated 26 January 2006. Atty. Bancolo, however,
UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW. admitted that prior to the preparation of the Joint Answer, Atty. Jarder
threatened to file a disbarment case against him if he did not cooperate.
Rule 9.01 - A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the Thus, he was constrained to allow Atty. Jarder to prepare the Joint Answer.
performance of any task which by law may only be performed by a member Atty. Bancolo simply signed the verification without seeing the contents of the
Joint Answer.
of the Bar in good standing.

In the Answer, Atty. Bancolo categorically stated that because of some minor
This rule was clearly explained in the case of Cambaliza v. Cristal-
Tenorio, where we held: lapses, the communications and pleadings filed against Tapay and Rustia
were signed by his secretary, albeit with his tolerance. Undoubtedly, Atty.
Bancolo violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by allowing a non-
The lawyer's duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the lawyer to affix his signature to a pleading. This violation is an act of falsehood
unauthorized practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public which IS a ground for disciplinary action.
policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found
duly qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on
the lawyer is an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he The complainants did not present any evidence that Atty. Jarder was directly
involved, had knowledge of, or even participated in the wrongful practice of
fails to maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The
Atty. Bancolo in allowing or tolerating his secretary to sign pleadings for him.
purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar from the
Thus, we agree with the finding of the IBP Board that Atty. Jarder is not
incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not
administratively liable.
subject to the disciplinary control of the Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to
see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the
profession enjoin him not to permit his professional services or his name to In sum, we find that the suspension of Atty. Bancolo from the practice of law
be used in aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by, for one year is warranted. We also find proper the dismissal of the case
any agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a misbehavior on against Atty. larder.
his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a layman in the unauthorized
practice of law. WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the complaint against Atty. Janus T. larder for
lack of merit.
In Republic v. Kenrick Development Corporation, we held that the
preparation and signing of a pleading constitute legal work involving the We find respondent Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo administratively liable for
practice of law which is reserved exclusively for members of the legal violating Rule 9.01 of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He
profession. Atty. Bancolo's authority and duty to sign a pleading are personal is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one year effective upon
to him. Although he may delegate the signing of a pleading to another finality of this Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar
lawyer, he may not delegate it to a non-lawyer. Further, under the Rules of acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
Court, counsel's signature serves as a certification that (1) he has read the
pleading; (2) to the best of his knowledge, information and belief there is Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondent Atty. Charlie L.
good ground to support it; and (3) it is not interposed for delay. Thus, by Bancolo's record in this Court as attorney. Further, let copies of this Decision
affixing one's signature to a pleading, it is counsel alone who has the be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the
responsibility to certify to these matters and give legal effect to the document. Court Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all the courts in the
country for their information and guidance.
In his Motion for Reconsideration dated 22 December 2007, Atty. Bancolo
wants us to believe that he was a victim of circumstances or of manipulated SO ORDERED.
events because of his unconditional trust and confidence in his former law
Republic of the Philippines Enaje and Garcia soon left the FFW and secured employment with the Anti-
SUPREME COURT Dummy Board of the Department of Justice. Thereafter, the Companies hired
Manila Garcia in the latter part of 1956 as assistant corporate secretary and legal
assistant in their Legal Department, and he was soon receiving P900 a
EN BANC month, or P600 more than he was receiving from the FFW. Enaje was hired
on or about February 19, 1957 as personnel manager of the Companies, and
G.R. No. L-25291, January 30, 1971 was likewise made chairman of the negotiating panel for the Companies in
the collective bargaining with the Unions.
THE INSULAR LIFE ASSURANCE CO., LTD., EMPLOYEES
ASSOCIATION-NATU, FGU INSURANCE GROUP WORKERS and In a letter dated September 16, 1957, the Unions jointly submitted proposals
EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION-NATU, and INSULAR LIFE BUILDING to the Companies for a modified renewal of their respective collective
EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION-NATU, Petitioners, bargaining contracts which were then due to expire on September 30, 1957.
vs.THE INSULAR LIFE ASSURANCE CO., LTD., FGU INSURANCE The parties mutually agreed and to make whatever benefits could be agreed
GROUP, JOSE M. OLBES and COURT OF INDUSTRIAL upon retroactively effective October 1, 1957.
RELATIONS, Respondents.
Thereafter, in the months of September and October 1957 negotiations were
conducted on the Union's proposals, but these were snagged by a deadlock
Lacsina, Lontok and Perez and Luis F. Aquino for petitioners.
on the issue of union shop, as a result of which the Unions filed on January
27, 1958 a notice of strike for "deadlock on collective bargaining." Several
Francisco de los Reyes for respondent Court of Industrial Relations. conciliation conferences were held under the auspices of the Department of
Labor wherein the conciliators urged the Companies to make reply to the
Araneta, Mendoza and Papa for other respondents. Unions' proposals en toto so that the said Unions might consider the
feasibility of dropping their demand for union security in exchange for other
CASTRO, J.: benefits. However, the Companies did not make any counter-proposals but,
instead, insisted that the Unions first drop their demand for union security,
Appeal, by certiorari to review a decision and a resolution en banc of the promising money benefits if this was done. Thereupon, and prior to April 15,
Court of Industrial Relations dated August 17, 1965 and October 20, 1965, 1958, the petitioner Insular Life Building Employees Association-NATU
respectively, in Case 1698-ULP. dropped this particular demand, and requested the Companies to answer its
demands, point by point, en toto. But the respondent Insular Life Assurance
Co. still refused to make any counter-proposals. In a letter addressed to the
The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Employees Association-NATU, FGU
two other Unions by the joint management of the Companies, the former
Insurance Group Workers & Employees Association-NATU, and Insular Life
were also asked to drop their union security demand, otherwise the
Building Employees Association-NATU (hereinafter referred to as the
Companies "would no longer consider themselves bound by the commitment
Unions), while still members of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW),
to make money benefits retroactive to October 1, 1957." By a letter dated
entered into separate collective bargaining agreements with the Insular Life
April 17, 1958, the remaining two petitioner unions likewise dropped their
Assurance Co., Ltd. and the FGU Insurance Group (hereinafter referred to as
demand for union shop. April 25, 1958 then was set by the parties to meet
the Companies).
and discuss the remaining demands.

Two of the lawyers of the Unions then were Felipe Enaje and Ramon Garcia;
From April 25 to May 6, 1958, the parties negotiated on the labor demands
the latter was formerly the secretary-treasurer of the FFW and acting
but with no satisfactory result due to a stalemate on the matter of salary
president of the Insular Life/FGU unions and the Insular Life Building
increases. On May 13, 1958 the Unions demanded from the Companies final
Employees Association. Garcia, as such acting president, in a circular issued
counter-proposals on their economic demands, particularly on salary
in his name and signed by him, tried to dissuade the members of the Unions
increases. Instead of giving counter-proposals, the Companies on May 15,
from disaffiliating with the FFW and joining the National Association of Trade
1958 presented facts and figures and requested the Unions to submit a
Unions (NATU), to no avail.
workable formula which would justify their own proposals, taking into account
the financial position of the former. Forthwith the Unions voted to declare a
strike in protest against what they considered the Companies' unfair labor penetrating the picket lines in front of the Insular Life Building, thus causing
practices. injuries to the picketers and also to the strike-breakers due to the resistance
offered by some picketers.
Meanwhile, eighty-seven (87) unionists were reclassified as supervisors
without increase in salary nor in responsibility while negotiations were going Alleging that some non-strikers were injured and with the use of photographs
on in the Department of Labor after the notice to strike was served on the as evidence, the Companies then filed criminal charges against the strikers
Companies. These employees resigned from the Unions. with the City Fiscal's Office of Manila. During the pendency of the said cases
in the fiscal's office, the Companies likewise filed a petition for injunction with
On May 20, 1958 the Unions went on strike and picketed the offices of the damages with the Court of First Instance of Manila which, on the basis of the
Insular Life Building at Plaza Moraga. pendency of the various criminal cases against striking members of the
Unions, issued on May 31, 1958 an order restraining the strikers, until further
orders of the said court, from stopping, impeding, obstructing, etc. the free
On May 21, 1958 the Companies through their acting manager and
president, the respondent Jose M. Olbes (hereinafter referred to as the and peaceful use of the Companies' gates, entrance and driveway and the
respondent Olbes), sent to each of the strikers a letter (exhibit A) quoted free movement of persons and vehicles to and from, out and in, of the
Companies' building.
verbatim as follows:

On the same date, the Companies, again through the respondent Olbes, sent
We recognize it is your privilege both to strike and to conduct picketing.
individually to the strikers a letter (exhibit B), quoted hereunder in its entirety:
However, if any of you would like to come back to work voluntarily, you may:
The first day of the strike was last 21 May 1958.
1. Advise the nearest police officer or security guard of your intention to
do so. Our position remains unchanged and the strike has made us even more
2. Take your meals within the office. convinced of our decision.
3. Make a choice whether to go home at the end of the day or to sleep
nights at the office where comfortable cots have been prepared. We do not know how long you intend to stay out, but we cannot hold your
4. Enjoy free coffee and occasional movies. positions open for long. We have continued to operate and will continue to do
5. Be paid overtime for work performed in excess of eight hours. so with or without you.
6. Be sure arrangements will be made for your families.
If you are still interested in continuing in the employ of the Group Companies,
The decision to make is yours — whether you still believe in the motives of and if there are no criminal charges pending against you, we are giving you
the strike or in the fairness of the Management. until 2 June 1958 to report for work at the home office. If by this date you
have not yet reported, we may be forced to obtain your replacement.
The Unions, however, continued on strike, with the exception of a few
unionists who were convinced to desist by the aforesaid letter of May 21, Before, the decisions was yours to make.
1958.
So it is now.
From the date the strike was called on May 21, 1958, until it was called off on
May 31, 1958, some management men tried to break thru the Unions' picket Incidentally, all of the more than 120 criminal charges filed against the
lines. Thus, on May 21, 1958 Garcia, assistant corporate secretary, and members of the Unions, except three (3), were dismissed by the fiscal's
Vicente Abella, chief of the personnel records section, respectively of the office and by the courts. These three cases involved "slight physical injuries"
Companies, tried to penetrate the picket lines in front of the Insular Life against one striker and "light coercion" against two others.
Building. Garcia, upon approaching the picket line, tossed aside the placard
of a picketer, one Paulino Bugay; a fight ensued between them, in which both At any rate, because of the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction
suffered injuries. The Companies organized three bus-loads of employees, against them as well as the ultimatum of the Companies giving them until
including a photographer, who with the said respondent Olbes, succeeded in
June 2, 1958 to return to their jobs or else be replaced, the striking seasonably filed their motion for reconsideration of the said decision, and
employees decided to call off their strike and to report back to work on June their supporting memorandum on September 10, 1965. This was denied by
2, 1958. the Court of Industrial Relations en banc in a resolution promulgated on
October 20, 1965.
However, before readmitting the strikers, the Companies required them not
only to secure clearances from the City Fiscal's Office of Manila but also to Hence, this petition for review, the Unions contending that the lower court
be screened by a management committee among the members of which erred:
were Enage and Garcia. The screening committee initially rejected 83
strikers with pending criminal charges. However, all non-strikers with pending 1. In not finding the Companies guilty of unfair labor practice in sending
criminal charges which arose from the breakthrough incident were readmitted out individually to the strikers the letters marked Exhibits A and B;
immediately by the Companies without being required to secure clearances 2. In not finding the Companies guilty of unfair labor practice for
from the fiscal's office. Subsequently, when practically all the strikers had discriminating against the striking members of the Unions in the matter
secured clearances from the fiscal's office, the Companies readmitted only of readmission of employees after the strike;
some but adamantly refused readmission to 34 officials and members of the 3. In not finding the Companies guilty of unfair labor practice for
Unions who were most active in the strike, on the ground that they committed dismissing officials and members of the Unions without giving them the
"acts inimical to the interest of the respondents," without however stating the benefit of investigation and the opportunity to present their side in
specific acts allegedly committed. Among those who were refused regard to activities undertaken by them in the legitimate exercise of
readmission are Emiliano Tabasondra, vice president of the Insular Life their right to strike; and
Building Employees' Association-NATU; Florencio Ibarra, president of the 4. In not ordering the reinstatement of officials and members of the
FGU Insurance Group Workers & Employees Association-NATU; and Isagani Unions, with full back wages, from June 2, 1958 to the date of their
Du Timbol, acting president of the Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. actual reinstatement to their usual employment.
Employees Association-NATU. Some 24 of the above number were I. The respondents contend that the sending of the letters, exhibits A and
ultimately notified months later that they were being dismissed retroactively B, constituted a legitimate exercise of their freedom of speech. We do
as of June 2, 1958 and given separation pay checks computed under Rep. not agree. The said letters were directed to the striking employees
Act 1787, while others (ten in number) up to now have not been readmitted individually — by registered special delivery mail at that — without being
although there have been no formal dismissal notices given to them. coursed through the Unions which were representing the employees in
the collective bargaining.
On July 29, 1958 the CIR prosecutor filed a complaint for unfair labor
practice against the Companies under Republic Act 875. The complaint The act of an employer in notifying absent employees individually during a
specifically charged the Companies with (1) interfering with the members of strike following unproductive efforts at collective bargaining that the plant
the Unions in the exercise of their right to concerted action, by sending out would be operated the next day and that their jobs were open for them
individual letters to them urging them to abandon their strike and return to should they want to come in has been held to be an unfair labor practice, as
work, with a promise of comfortable cots, free coffee and movies, and paid an active interference with the right of collective bargaining through dealing
overtime, and, subsequently, by warning them that if they did not return to with the employees individually instead of through their collective bargaining
work on or before June 2, 1958, they might be replaced; and (2) representatives. (31 Am. Jur. 563, citing NLRB v. Montgomery Ward & Co.
discriminating against the members of the Unions as regards readmission to [CA 9th] 133 F2d 676, 146 ALR 1045)
work after the strike on the basis of their union membership and degree of
participation in the strike.
Indeed, it is an unfair labor practice for an employer operating under a
collective bargaining agreement to negotiate or to attempt to negotiate with
On August 4, 1958 the Companies filed their answer denying all the material his employees individually in connection with changes in the agreement. And
allegations of the complaint, stating special defenses therein, and asking for the basis of the prohibition regarding individual bargaining with the strikers is
the dismissal of the complaint. that although the union is on strike, the employer is still under obligation to
bargain with the union as the employees' bargaining representative (Melo
After trial on the merits, the Court of Industrial Relations, through Presiding Photo Supply Corporation vs. National Labor Relations Board, 321 U.S. 332).
Judge Arsenio Martinez, rendered on August 17, 1965 a decision dismissing
the Unions' complaint for lack of merit. On August 31, 1965 the Unions
Indeed, some such similar actions are illegal as constituting unwarranted strikers returned to work, they would receive new benefits in the form of
acts of interference. Thus, the act of a company president in writing letters to hospitalization, accident insurance, profit-sharing, and a new building to work
the strikers, urging their return to work on terms inconsistent with their union in.
membership, was adjudged as constituting interference with the exercise of
his employees' right to collective bargaining (Lighter Publishing, CCA 7th, Citing paragraph 5 of the complaint filed by the acting prosecutor of the lower
133 F2d 621). It is likewise an act of interference for the employer to send a court which states that "the officers and members of the complainant unions
letter to all employees notifying them to return to work at a time specified decided to call off the strike and return to work on June 2, 1958 by reason of
therein, otherwise new employees would be engaged to perform their jobs. the injunction issued by the Manila Court of First Instance," the respondents
Individual solicitation of the employees or visiting their homes, with the contend that this was the main cause why the strikers returned to work and
employer or his representative urging the employees to cease union activity not the letters, exhibits A and B. This assertion is without merit. The
or cease striking, constitutes unfair labor practice. All the above-detailed circumstance that the strikers later decided to return to work ostensibly on
activities are unfair labor practices because they tend to undermine the account of the injunctive writ issued by the Court of First Instance of Manila
concerted activity of the employees, an activity to which they are entitled free cannot alter the intrinsic quality of the letters, which were calculated, or which
from the employer's molestation. tended, to interfere with the employees' right to engage in lawful concerted
activity in the form of a strike. Interference constituting unfair labor practice
Moreover, since exhibit A is a letter containing promises of benefits to the will not cease to be such simply because it was susceptible of being thwarted
employees in order to entice them to return to work, it is not protected by the or resisted, or that it did not proximately cause the result intended. For
free speech provisions of the Constitution (NLRB v. Clearfield Cheese Co., success of purpose is not, and should not, be the criterion in determining
Inc., 213 F2d 70). The same is true with exhibit B since it contained threats to whether or not a prohibited act constitutes unfair labor practice.
obtain replacements for the striking employees in the event they did not
report for work on June 2, 1958. The free speech protection under the The test of whether an employer has interfered with and coerced employees
Constitution is inapplicable where the expression of opinion by the employer within the meaning of subsection (a) (1) is whether the employer has
or his agent contains a promise of benefit, or threats, or reprisal (31 Am. Jur. engaged in conduct which it may reasonably be said tends to interfere with
544; NLRB vs. Clearfield Cheese Co., Inc., 213 F2d 70; NLRB vs. Goigy Co., the free exercise of employees' rights under section 3 of the Act, and it is not
211 F2d 533, 35 ALR 2d 422). necessary that there be direct evidence that any employee was in fact
intimidated or coerced by statements of threats of the employer if there is a
Indeed, when the respondents offered reinstatement and attempted to "bribe" reasonable inference that anti-union conduct of the employer does have an
the strikers with "comfortable cots," "free coffee and occasional movies," adverse effect on self-organization and collective bargaining. (Francisco,
"overtime" pay for "work performed in excess of eight hours," and Labor Laws 1956, Vol. II, p. 323, citing NLRB v. Ford, C.A., 1948, 170 F2d
"arrangements" for their families, so they would abandon the strike and 735).
return to work, they were guilty of strike-breaking and/or union-busting and,
consequently, of unfair labor practice. It is equivalent to an attempt to break a Besides, the letters, exhibits A and B, should not be considered by
strike for an employer to offer reinstatement to striking employees themselves alone but should be read in the light of the preceding and
individually, when they are represented by a union, since the employees thus subsequent circumstances surrounding them. The letters should be
offered reinstatement are unable to determine what the consequences of interpreted according to the "totality of conduct doctrine,"
returning to work would be.
... whereby the culpability of an employer's remarks were to be evaluated not
Likewise violative of the right to organize, form and join labor organizations only on the basis of their implicit implications, but were to be appraised
are the following acts: the offer of a Christmas bonus to all "loyal" employees against the background of and in conjunction with collateral circumstances.
of a company shortly after the making of a request by the union to bargain; Under this "doctrine" expressions of opinion by an employer which, though
wage increases given for the purpose of mollifying employees after the innocent in themselves, frequently were held to be culpable because of the
employer has refused to bargain with the union, or for the purpose of circumstances under which they were uttered, the history of the particular
inducing striking employees to return to work; the employer's promises of employer's labor relations or anti-union bias or because of their connection
benefits in return for the strikers' abandonment of their strike in support of with an established collateral plan of coercion or interference. (Rothenberg
their union; and the employer's statement, made about 6 weeks after the on Relations, p. 374, and cases cited therein.)
strike started, to a group of strikers in a restaurant to the effect that if the
It must be recalled that previous to the petitioners' submission of proposals found no probable cause against the petitioning strikers, the Companies
for an amended renewal of their respective collective bargaining agreements adamantly refused admission to them on the pretext that they committed
to the respondents, the latter hired Felipe Enage and Ramon Garcia, former "acts inimical to the interest of the respondents," without stating specifically
legal counsels of the petitioners, as personnel manager and assistant the inimical acts allegedly committed. They were soon to admit, however,
corporate secretary, respectively, with attractive compensations. After the that these alleged inimical acts were the same criminal charges which were
notice to strike was served on the Companies and negotiations were in dismissed by the fiscal and by the courts.
progress in the Department of Labor, the respondents reclassified 87
employees as supervisors without increase in salary or in responsibility, in Verily, the above actuations of the respondents before and after the issuance
effect compelling these employees to resign from their unions. And during of the letters, exhibit A and B, yield the clear inference that the said letters
the negotiations in the Department of Labor, despite the fact that the formed of the respondents scheme to preclude if not destroy unionism within
petitioners granted the respondents' demand that the former drop their them.
demand for union shop and in spite of urgings by the conciliators of the
Department of Labor, the respondents adamantly refused to answer the
To justify the respondents' threat to dismiss the strikers and secure
Unions' demands en toto. Incidentally, Enage was the chairman of the
replacements for them in order to protect and continue their business, the
negotiating panel for the Companies in the collective bargaining between the CIR held the petitioners' strike to be an economic strike on the basis of
former and the Unions. After the petitioners went to strike, the strikers were
exhibit 4 (Notice of Strike) which states that there was a "deadlock in
individually sent copies of exhibit A, enticing them to abandon their strike by
collective bargaining" and on the strength of the supposed testimonies of
inducing them to return to work upon promise of special privileges. Two days
some union men who did not actually know the very reason for the strike. It
later, the respondents, thru their president and manager, respondent Jose M.
should be noted that exhibit 4, which was filed on January 27, 1958,
Olbes, brought three truckloads of non-strikers and others, escorted by states, inter alia:
armed men, who, despite the presence of eight entrances to the three
buildings occupied by the Companies, entered thru only one gate less than
two meters wide and in the process, crashed thru the picket line posted in
front of the premises of the Insular Life Building. This resulted in injuries on
the part of the picketers and the strike-breakers. Then the respondents TO: BUREAU OF LABOR RELATIONS
brought against the picketers criminal charges, only three of which were not DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
dismissed, and these three only for slight misdemeanors. As a result of these MANILA
criminal actions, the respondents were able to obtain an injunction from the
court of first instance restraining the strikers from stopping, impeding, Thirty (30) days from receipt of this notice by the Office, this [sic] unions
obstructing, etc. the free and peaceful use of the Companies' gates, entrance intends to go on strike against
and driveway and the free movement of persons and vehicles to and from,
out and in, of the Companies' buildings. On the same day that the injunction THE INSULAR LIFE ASSURANCE CO., LTD.
was issued, the letter, Exhibit B, was sent — again individually and by Plaza Moraga, Manila
registered special delivery mail — to the strikers, threatening them with
dismissal if they did not report for work on or before June 2, 1958. But when
THE FGU INSURANCE GROUP
most of the petitioners reported for work, the respondents thru a screening
Plaza Moraga, Manila
committee — of which Ramon Garcia was a member — refused to admit 63
members of the Unions on the ground of "pending criminal charges."
However, when almost all were cleared of criminal charges by the fiscal's INSULAR LIFE BUILDING ADMINISTRATION
office, the respondents adamantly refused admission to 34 officials and union Plaza Moraga, Manila.
members. It is not, however, disputed that all-non-strikers with pending
criminal charges which arose from the breakthrough incident of May 23, 1958 for the following reason: DEADLOCK IN COLLECTIVE BARGAINING...
were readmitted immediately by the respondents. Among the non-strikers
with pending criminal charges who were readmitted were Generoso Abella, However, the employees did not stage the strike after the thirty-day period,
Enrique Guidote, Emilio Carreon, Antonio Castillo, Federico Barretto, Manuel reckoned from January 27, 1958. This simply proves that the reason for the
Chuidian and Nestor Cipriano. And despite the fact that the fiscal's office strike was not the deadlock on collective bargaining nor any lack of economic
concessions. By letter dated April 15, 1958, the respondents categorically criminal charges against the strikers evolved, were readily readmitted and
stated what they thought was the cause of the "Notice of Strike," which so far were not required to secure clearances. This is a clear act of discrimination
as material, reads: practiced by the Companies in the process of rehiring and is therefore a
violation of sec. 4(a) (4) of the Industrial Peace Act.
3. Because you did not see fit to agree with our position on the union shop,
you filed a notice of strike with the Bureau of Labor Relations on 27 January The respondents did not merely discriminate against all the strikers in
1958, citing `deadlock in collective bargaining' which could have been for no general. They separated the active from the less active unionists on the basis
other issue than the union shop." (exhibit 8, letter dated April 15, 1958.) of their militancy, or lack of it, on the picket lines. Unionists belonging to the
first category were refused readmission even after they were able to secure
The strike took place nearly four months from the date the said notice of clearances from the competent authorities with respect to the criminal
strike was filed. And the actual and main reason for the strike was, "When it charges filed against them. It is significant to note in this connection that
became crystal clear the management double crossed or will not negotiate in except for one union official who deserted his union on the second day of the
good faith, it is tantamount to refusal collectively and considering the unfair strike and who later participated in crashing through the picket lines, not a
labor practice in the meantime being committed by the management such as single union officer was taken back to work. Discrimination undoubtedly
the sudden resignation of some unionists and [who] became supervisors exists where the record shows that the union activity of the rehired strikers
without increase in salary or change in responsibility, such as the coercion of has been less prominent than that of the strikers who were denied
employees, decided to declare the strike." (tsn., Oct. 14, 1958, p. 14.) The reinstatement.
truth of this assertion is amply proved by the following circumstances: (1) it
took the respondents six (6) months to consider the petitioners' proposals, So is there an unfair labor practice where the employer, although authorized
their only excuse being that they could not go on with the negotiations if the by the Court of Industrial Relations to dismiss the employees who
petitioners did not drop the demand for union shop (exh. 7, respondents' participated in an illegal strike, dismissed only the leaders of the strikers,
letter dated April 7, 1958); (2) when the petitioners dropped the demand for such dismissal being evidence of discrimination against those dismissed and
union shop, the respondents did not have a counter-offer to the petitioners' constituting a waiver of the employer's right to dismiss the striking employees
demands. Sec. 14 of Rep. Act 875 required the respondents to make a reply and a condonation of the fault committed by them." (Carlos and Fernando,
to the petitioners' demands within ten days from receipt thereof, but instead Labor and Social Legislation, p. 62, citing Phil. Air Lines, Inc. v. Phil. Air
they asked the petitioners to give a "well reasoned, workable formula which Lines Emloyees Association, L-8197, Oct. 31, 1958.)
takes into account the financial position of the group companies." (tsn., Sept.
8, 1958, p. 62; tsn., Feb. 26, 1969, p. 49.) It is noteworthy that — perhaps in an anticipatory effort to exculpate
themselves from charges of discrimination in the readmission of strikers
II. Exhibit H imposed three conditions for readmission of the strikers, returning to work — the respondents delegated the power to readmit to a
namely: (1) the employee must be interested in continuing his work with committee. But the respondent Olbes had chosen Vicente Abella, chief of the
the group companies; (2) there must be no criminal charges against him; personnel records section, and Ramon Garcia, assistant corporate secretary,
and (3) he must report for work on June 2, 1958, otherwise he would be to screen the unionists reporting back to work. It is not difficult to imagine that
replaced. Since the evidence shows that all the employees reported back these two employees — having been involved in unpleasant incidents with
to work at the respondents' head office on June 2, 1953, they must be the picketers during the strike — were hostile to the strikers. Needless to say,
considered as having complied with the first and third conditions. the mere act of placing in the hands of employees hostile to the strikers the
power of reinstatement, is a form of discrimination in rehiring.
Our point of inquiry should therefore be directed at whether they also
complied with the second condition. It is not denied that when the strikers Delayed reinstatement is a form of discrimination in rehiring, as is having the
reported for work on June 2, 1958, 63 members of the Unions were refused machinery of reinstatement in the hands of employees hostile to the strikers,
readmission because they had pending criminal charges. However, despite and reinstating a union official who formerly worked in a unionized plant, to a
the fact that they were able to secure their respective clearances 34 officials job in another mill, which was imperfectly organized. (Morabe, The Law on
and union members were still refused readmission on the alleged ground that Strikes, p. 473, citing Sunshine Mining Co., 7 NLRB 1252; Cleveland
they committed acts inimical to the Companies. It is beyond dispute, Worsted Mills, 43 NLRB 545; emphasis supplied.)
however, that non-strikers who also had criminal charges pending against
them in the fiscal's office, arising from the same incidents whence the
Equally significant is the fact that while the management and the members of Kindly acknowledge receipt of the check we are sending herewith.
the screening committee admitted the discrimination committed against the
strikers, they tossed back and around to each other the responsibility for the Very truly yours,
discrimination. Thus, Garcia admitted that in exercising for the management
the authority to screen the returning employees, the committee admitted the
(Sgd.) JOSE M. OLBES
non-strikers but refused readmission to the strikers (tsn., Feb. 6, 1962, pp.
President, Insurance Life
15-19, 23-29). Vicente Abella, chairman of the management's screening
Acting President, FGU.
committee, while admitting the discrimination, placed the blame therefor
squarely on the management (tsn., Sept. 20, 1960, pp. 7-8, 14-18). But the
management, speaking through the respondent Olbes, head of the The respondents, however, admitted that the alleged "acts of misconduct"
Companies, disclaimed responsibility for the discrimination. He testified that attributed to the dismissed strikers were the same acts with which the said
"The decision whether to accept or not an employee was left in the hands of strikers were charged before the fiscal's office and the courts. But all these
that committee that had been empowered to look into all cases of the charges except three were dropped or dismissed.
strikers." (tsn., Sept. 6, 1962, p. 19.)
Indeed, the individual cases of dismissed officers and members of the
Of course, the respondents — through Ramon Garcia — tried to explain the striking unions do not indicate sufficient basis for dismissal.
basis for such discrimination by testifying that strikers whose participation in
any alleged misconduct during the picketing was not serious in nature were Emiliano Tabasondra, vice-president of the petitioner FGU Insurance Group
readmissible, while those whose participation was serious were not. (tsn., Workers & Employees Association-NATU, was refused reinstatement
Aug. 4, 1961, pp. 48-49, 56). But even this distinction between acts of slight allegedly because he did not report for duty on June 2, 1958 and, hence, had
misconduct and acts of serious misconduct which the respondents contend abandoned his office. But the overwhelming evidence adduced at the trial
was the basis for either reinstatement or discharge, is completely shattered and which the respondents failed to rebut, negates the respondents' charge
upon a cursory examination of the evidence on record. For with the exception that he had abandoned his job. In his testimony, corroborated by many
of Pascual Esquillo whose dismissal sent to the other strikers cited the others, Tabasondra particularly identified the management men to whom he
alleged commission by them of simple "acts of misconduct." and his group presented themselves on June 2, 1958. He mentioned the
respondent Olbes' secretary, De Asis, as the one who received them and
III. Anent the third assignment of error, the record shows that not a single later directed them — when Olbes refused them an audience — to Felipe
dismissed striker was given the opportunity to defend himself against the Enage, the Companies' personnel manager. He likewise categorically stated
supposed charges against him. As earlier mentioned, when the striking that he and his group went to see Enage as directed by Olbes' secretary. If
employees reported back for work on June 2, 1958, the respondents Tabasondra were not telling the truth, it would have been an easy matter for
refused to readmit them unless they first secured the necessary the respondents to produce De Asis and Enage — who testified anyway as
clearances; but when all, except three, were able to secure and witnesses for the respondents on several occasions — to rebut his
subsequently present the required clearances, the respondents still testimony. The respondents did nothing of the kind. Moreover, Tabasondra
refused to take them back. Instead, several of them later received letters called on June 21, 1958 the respondents' attention to his non-admission and
from the respondents in the following stereotyped tenor: asked them to inform him of the reasons therefor, but instead of doing so, the
respondents dismissed him by their letter dated July 10, 1958. Elementary
fairness required that before being dismissed for cause, Tabasondra be
This will confirm the termination of your employment with the Insular Life-
given "his day in court."
FGU Insurance Group as of 2 June 1958.
At any rate, it has been held that mere failure to report for work after notice to
The termination of your employment was due to the fact that you committed return, does not constitute abandonment nor bar reinstatement. In one case,
acts of misconduct while picketing during the last strike. Because this may
the U.S. Supreme Court held that the taking back of six of eleven men
not constitute sufficient cause under the law to terminate your employment
constituted discrimination although the five strikers who were not reinstated,
without pay, we are giving you the amount of P1,930.32 corresponding to
all of whom were prominent in the union and in the strike, reported for work
one-half month pay for every year of your service in the Group Company.
at various times during the next three days, but were told that there were no
openings. Said the Court:
... The Board found, and we cannot say that its finding is unsupported, that, demands. After all, not being one of the supervisors, he was not a part of
in taking back six union men, the respondent's officials discriminated against management. And his statement, if indeed made, is but an expression of free
the latter on account of their union activities and that the excuse given that speech protected by the Constitution.
they did not apply until after the quota was full was an afterthought and not
the true reason for the discrimination against them. (NLRB v. Mackay Radio Free speech on both sides and for every faction on any side of the labor
& Telegraph Co., 304 U.S. 333, 58 Sup. Ct. 904, 82 L. Ed. 1381) (Mathews, relation is to me a constitutional and useful right. Labor is free ... to turn its
Labor Relations and the Law, p. 725, 728) publicity on any labor oppression, substandard wages, employer unfairness,
or objectionable working conditions. The employer, too, should be free to
The respondents' allegation that Tabasondra should have returned after answer and to turn publicity on the records of the leaders of the unions which
being refused readmission on June 2, 1958, is not persuasive. When the seek the confidence of his men ... (Concurring opinion of Justice Jackson in
employer puts off reinstatement when an employee reports for work at the Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 516, 547, 65 Sup. Ct. 315, 89 L. Ed. 430.)
time agreed, we consider the employee relieved from the duty of returning (Mathews, Labor Relations and the Law, p. 591.)
further.
The respondents also allege that in revealing certain confidential information,
Sixto Tongos was dismissed allegedly because he revealed that despite the Tongos committed not only a betrayal of trust but also a violation of the moral
fact that the Companies spent more than P80,000 for the vacation trips of principles and ethics of accountancy. But nowhere in the Code of Ethics for
officials, they refused to grant union demands; hence, he betrayed his trust Certified Public Accountants under the Revised Rules and Regulations of the
as an auditor of the Companies. We do not find this allegation convincing. Board of Accountancy formulated in 1954, is this stated. Moreover, the
First, this accusation was emphatically denied by Tongos on the witness relationship of the Companies with Tongos was that of an employer and not
stand. Gonzales, president of one of the respondent Companies and one of a client. And with regard to the testimonies of Juan Raymundo and Antolin
the officials referred to, took a trip abroad in 1958. Exchange controls were Carillo, both vice-presidents of the Trust Insurance Agencies, Inc. about the
then in force, and an outgoing traveller on a combined business and vacation alleged utterances made by Tongos, the lower court should not have given
trip was allowed by the Central Bank, per its Circular 52 (Notification to them much weight. The firm of these witnesses was newly established at that
Authorized Agent Banks) dated May 9, 1952, an allocation of $1,000 or only time and was still a "general agency" of the Companies. It is not therefore
P2,000, at the official rate of two pesos to the dollar, as pocket money; amiss to conclude that they were more inclined to favor the respondents
hence, this was the only amount that would appear on the books of the rather than Tongos.
Companies. It was only on January 21, 1962, per its Circular 133
(Notification to Authorized Agent Banks), that the Central Bank lifted the Pacifico Ner, Paulino Bugay, Jose Garcia, Narciso Daño, Vicente Alsol and
exchange controls. Tongos could not therefore have revealed an amount Hermenigildo Ramirez, opined the lower court, were constructively dismissed
bigger than the above sum. And his competence in figures could not be by non-readmission allegedly because they not only prevented Ramon
doubted considering that he had passed the board examinations for certified Garcia, assistant corporate secretary, and Vicente Abella, chief of the
public accountants. But assuming arguendo that Tongos indeed revealed the personnel records section of the Companies, from entering the Companies'
true expenses of Gonzales' trip — which the respondents never denied or premises on May 21, 1958, but they also caused bruises and abrasions on
tried to Garcia's chest and forehead — acts considered inimical to the interest of the
disprove — his statements clearly fall within the sphere of a unionist's right to respondents. The Unions, upon the other hand, insist that there is complete
discuss and advertise the facts involved in a labor dispute, in accordance lack of evidence that Ner took part in pushing Garcia; that it was Garcia who
with section 9(a)(5) of Republic Act 875 which guarantees the untramelled elbowed his way through the picket lines and therefore Ner shouted "Close
exercise by striking employees of the right to give "publicity to the existence up," which the picketers did; and that Garcia tossed Paulino Bugay's placard
of, or the fact involved in any labor dispute, whether by advertising, speaking, and a fight ensued between them in which both suffered injuries. But despite
patrolling or by any method not involving fraud or violence." Indeed, it is not these conflicting versions of what actually happened on May 21, 1958, there
only the right, it is as well the duty, of every unionist to advertise the facts of are grounds to believe that the picketers are not responsible for what
a dispute for the purpose of informing all those affected thereby. In labor happened. The picketing on May 21, 1958, as reported in the police blotter,
disputes, the combatants are expected to expose the truth before the public was peaceful (see Police blotter report, exh. 3 in CA-G.R. No. 25991-R of the
to justify their respective demands. Being a union man and one of the Court of Appeals, where Ner was acquitted). Moreover, although the
strikers, Tongos was expected to reveal the whole truth on whether or not the Companies during the strike were holding offices at the Botica Boie building
respondent Companies were justified in refusing to accede to union at Escolta, Manila; Tuason Building at San Vicente Street, Manila; and Ayala,
Inc. offices at Makati, Rizal, Garcia, the assistant corporate secretary, and In cases involving misdemeanors the board has generally held that unlawful
Abella, the chief of the personnel records section, reported for work at the acts are not bar to reinstatement. (Teller, Labor Disputes and Collective
Insular Life Building. There is therefore a reasonable suggestion that they Bargaining, Id., p. 854, citing Ford Motor Company, 23 NLRB No. 28.)
were sent to work at the latter building to create such an incident and have a
basis for filing criminal charges against the petitioners in the fiscal's office Finally, it is not disputed that despite the pendency of criminal charges
and applying for injunction from the court of first instance. Besides, under the against non-striking employees before the fiscal's office, they were readily
circumstances the picketers were not legally bound to yield their grounds and admitted, but those strikers who had pending charges in the same office
withdraw from the picket lines. Being where the law expects them to be in the were refused readmission. The reinstatement of the strikers is thus in order.
legitimate exercise of their rights, they had every reason to defend
themselves and their rights from any assault or unlawful transgression. Yet
[W]here the misconduct, whether in reinstating persons equally guilty with
the police blotter, about adverted to, attests that they did not resort to
those whose reinstatement is opposed, or in other ways, gives rise to the
violence.
inference that union activities rather than misconduct is the basis of his
[employer] objection, the Board has usually required reinstatement."
The heated altercations and occasional blows exchanged on the picket line (Teller, supra, p. 853, citing the Third Annual Report of NLRB [1938], p. 211.)
do not affect or diminish the right to strike. Persuasive on this point is the
following commentary: .
Lastly, the lower Court justified the constructive dismissal of Florencio Ibarra
allegedly because he committed acts inimical to the interest of the
We think it must be conceded that some disorder is unfortunately quite usual respondents when, as president of the FGU Workers and Employees
in any extensive or long drawn out strike. A strike is essentially a battle Association-NATU, he advised the strikers that they could use force and
waged with economic weapons. Engaged in it are human beings whose violence to have a successful picket and that picketing was precisely
feelings are stirred to the depths. Rising passions call forth hot words. Hot intended to prevent the non-strikers and company clients and customers
words lead to blows on the picket line. The transformation from economic to from entering the Companies' buildings. Even if this were true, the record
physical combat by those engaged in the contest is difficult to prevent even discloses that the picket line had been generally peaceful, and that incidents
when cool heads direct the fight. Violence of this nature, however much it is happened only when management men made incursions into and tried to
to be regretted, must have been in the contemplation of the Congress when it break the picket line. At any rate, with or without the advice of Ibarra,
provided in Sec. 13 of Act 29 USCA Sec. 163, that nothing therein should be picketing is inherently explosive. For, as pointed out by one author, "The
construed so as to interfere with or impede or diminish in any way the right to picket line is an explosive front, charged with the emotions and fierce
strike. If this were not so, the rights afforded to employees by the Act would loyalties of the union-management dispute. It may be marked by colorful
indeed be illusory. We accordingly recently held that it was not intended by name-calling, intimidating threats or sporadic fights between the pickets and
the Act that minor disorders of this nature would deprive a striker of the those who pass the line." (Mathews, Labor Relations and the Law, p. 752).
possibility of reinstatement. (Republic Steel Corp. v. N. L. R. B., 107 F2d The picket line being the natural result of the respondents' unfair labor
472, cited in Mathews, Labor Relations and the Law, p. 378) practice, Ibarra's misconduct is at most a misdemeanor which is not a bar to
reinstatement. Besides, the only evidence presented by the Companies
Hence the incident that occurred between Ner, et al. and Ramon Garcia was regarding Ibarra's participation in the strike was the testimony of one Rodolfo
but a necessary incident of the strike and should not be considered as a bar Encarnacion, a former member of the board of directors of the petitioner FGU
to reinstatement. Thus it has been held that: Insurance Group Workers and Employees Union-NATU, who became a
"turncoat" and who likewise testified as to the union activities of Atty.
Fist-fighting between union and non-union employees in the midst of a strike Lacsina, Ricardo Villaruel and others (annex C, Decision, p. 27) — another
is no bar to reinstatement. (Teller, Labor Disputes and Collective Bargaining, matter which emphasizes the respondents' unfair labor practice. For under
Vol. II, p. 855 citing Stackpole Carbon, Co. 6 NLRB 171, enforced 105 F2d the circumstances, there is good ground to believe that Encarnacion was
167.) made to spy on the actvities of the union members. This act of the
respondents is considered unjustifiable interference in the union activities of
the petitioners and is unfair labor practice.
Furthermore, assuming that the acts committed by the strikers were
transgressions of law, they amount only to mere ordinary misdemeanors and
are not a bar to reinstatement. It has been held in a great number of decisions at espionage by an employer
of union activities, or surveillance thereof, are such instances of interference,
restraint or coercion of employees in connection with their right to organize, previously held by the aggrieved employee can be found, the employer must
form and join unions as to constitute unfair labor practice. discharge the replacement employee, if necessary, to restore the striking or
locked-out worker to his old or comparable position ... If the employer's
... "Nothing is more calculated to interfere with, restrain and coerce improper conduct was an initial cause of the strike, all the strikers are entitled
employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization than such activity to reinstatement and the dismissal of replacement employees wherever
even where no discharges result. The information obtained by means of necessary; ... . (Id., p. 422 and cases cited.)
espionage is in valuable to the employer and can be used in a variety of
cases to break a union." The unfair labor practice is committed whether the A corollary issue to which we now address ourselves is, from what date
espionage is carried on by a professional labor spy or detective, by officials should the backpay payable to the unionists be computed? It is now a settled
or supervisory employees of the employer, or by fellow employees acting at doctrine that strikers who are entitled to reinstatement are not entitled to back
the request or direction of the employer, or an ex-employee..." (Teller, Labor pay during the period of the strike, even though it is caused by an unfair labor
Disputes and Collective Bargaining, Vol. II, pp. 765-766, and cases cited.) . practice. However, if they offer to return to work under the same conditions
just before the strike, the refusal to re-employ or the imposition of conditions
IV. The lower court should have ordered the reinstatement of the officials amounting to unfair labor practice is a violation of section 4(a) (4) of the
and members of the Unions, with full back wages from June 2, 1958 to Industrial Peace Act and the employer is liable for backpay from the date of
the date of their actual reinstatement to their usual employment. the offer (Cromwell Commercial Employees and Laborers Union vs. Court of
Because all too clear from the factual and environmental milieu of this Industrial Relations, L-19778, Decision, Sept. 30, 1964, 12 SCRA 124; Id.,
case, coupled with settled decisional law, is that the Unions went on Resolution on motion for reconsideration, 13 SCRA 258; see also Mathews,
strike because of the unfair labor practices committed by the Labor Relations and the Law, p. 730 and the cited cases). We have likewise
respondents, and that when the strikers reported back for work — upon ruled that discriminatorily dismissed employees must receive backpay from
the invitation of the respondents — they were discriminatorily dismissed. the date of the act of discrimination, that is, from the date of their discharge
The members and officials of the Unions therefore are entitled to (Cromwell Commercial Employees and Laborers Union vs. Court of Industrial
reinstatement with back pay. Relations, supra).

[W]here the strike was induced and provoked by improper conduct on the The respondents notified the petitioner strikers to report back for work on
part of an employer amounting to an 'unfair labor practice,' the strikers are June 2, 1958, which the latter did. A great number of them, however, were
entitled to reinstatement with back pay. (Rothenberg on Labor Relations, p. refused readmission because they had criminal charges against them
418.) pending before the fiscal's office, although non-strikers who were also facing
criminal indictments were readily readmitted. These strikers who were
[A]n employee who has been dismissed in violation of the provisions of the refused readmission on June 2, 1958 can thus be categorized as
discriminatorily dismissed employees and are entitled to backpay from said
Act is entitled to reinstatement with back pay upon an adjudication that the
discharge was illegal." (Id., citing Waterman S. S. Corp. v. N. L. R. B., 119 date. This is true even with respect to the petitioners Jose Pilapil, Paulino
Bugay, Jr. and Jose Garcia, Jr. who were found guilty only of misdemeanors
F2d 760; N. L. R. B. v. Richter's Bakery, 140 F2d 870; N. L. R. B. v. Southern
which are not considered sufficient to bar reinstatement (Teller, Labor
Wood Preserving Co., 135 F. 2d 606; C. G. Conn, Ltd. v. N. L. R. B., 108 F2d
390; N. L. R. B. v. American Mfg. Co., 106 F2d 61; N. L. R. B. v. Kentucky Disputes and Collective Bargaining, p. 854), especially so because their
Fire Brick Co., 99 F2d 99.) unlawful acts arose during incidents which were provoked by the
respondents' men. However, since the employees who were denied
readmission have been out of the service of the Companies (for more than
And it is not a defense to reinstatement for the respondents to allege that the ten years) during which they may have found other employment or other
positions of these union members have already been filled by replacements. means of livelihood, it is only just and equitable that whatever they may have
earned during that period should be deducted from their back wages to
[W]here the employers' "unfair labor practice" caused or contributed to the mitigate somewhat the liability of the company, pursuant to the equitable
strike or where the 'lock-out' by the employer constitutes an "unfair labor principle that no one is allowed to enrich himself at the expense of another
practice," the employer cannot successfully urge as a defense that the (Macleod & Co. of the Philippines v. Progressive Federation of Labor, 97
striking or lock-out employees position has been filled by replacement. Under Phil. 205 [1955]).
such circumstances, if no job sufficiently and satisfactorily comparable to that
The lower court gave inordinate significance to the payment to and consideration may be considered as a misconduct which is a just cause for
acceptance by the dismissed employees of separation pay. This Court has dismissal. (Lopez, Sr., et al. vs. Chronicle Publication Employees Ass'n. et
ruled that while employers may be authorized under Republic Act 1052 to al., G.R. No. L-20179-81, December 28, 1964.) (emphasis supplied)
terminate employment of employees by serving the required notice, or, in the
absence thereof, by paying the required compensation, the said Act may not The two pertinent paragraphs in the above-cited decision * which contained
be invoked to justify a dismissal prohibited by law, e.g., dismissal for union the underscored portions of the above citation read however as follows:
activities.
Differently as regard the dismissal of Orlando Aquino and Carmelito Vicente,
... While Republic Act No. 1052 authorizes a commercial establishment to we are inclined to uphold the action taken by the employer as proper
terminate the employment of its employee by serving notice on him one disciplinary measure. A reading of the article which allegedly caused their
month in advance, or, in the absence thereof, by paying him one month dismissal reveals that it really contains an insinuation albeit subtly of the
compensation from the date of the termination of his employment, such Act supposed exertion of political pressure by the Manila Chronicle management
does not give to the employer a blanket authority to terminate the upon the City Fiscal's Office, resulting in the non-filing of the case against the
employment regardless of the cause or purpose behind such termination. employer. In rejecting the employer's theory that the dismissal of Vicente and
Certainly, it cannot be made use of as a cloak to circumvent a final order of Aquino was justified, the lower court considered the article as "a report of
the court or a scheme to trample upon the right of an employee who has some acts and omissions of an Assistant Fiscal in the exercise of his official
been the victim of an unfair labor practice. (Yu Ki Lam, et al. v. Nena functions" and, therefore, does away with the presumption of malice. This
Micaller, et al., 99 Phil. 904 [1956].) being a proceeding for unfair labor practice, the matter should not have been
viewed or gauged in the light of the doctrine on a publisher's culpability under
Finally, we do not share the respondents' view that the findings of fact of the the Penal Code. We are not here to determine whether the employees' act
Court of Industrial Relations are supported by substantial and credible proof. could stand criminal prosecution, but only to find out whether the aforesaid
This Court is not therefore precluded from digging deeper into the factual act justifies the adoption by the employer of disciplinary measure against
milieu of the case (Union of Philippine Education Employees v. Philippine them. This is not sustaining the ruling that the publication in question is
Education Company, 91 Phil. 93; Lu Do & Lu Ym Corporation v. Philippine- qualified privileged, but even on the assumption that this is so, the exempting
Land-Air-Sea Labor Union, 11 SCRA 134 [1964]). character thereof under the Penal Code does not necessarily erase or
neutralize its effect on the employer's interest which may warrant
V. The petitioners (15 of them) ask this Court to cite for contempt the employment of disciplinary measure. For it must be remembered that not
respondent Presiding Judge Arsenio Martinez of the Court of Industrial even the acquittal of an employee, of the criminal charges against him, is a
Relations and the counsels for the private respondents, on the ground that bar to the employer's right to impose discipline on its employees, should the
the former wrote the following in his decision subject of the instant petition act upon which the criminal charges was based constitute nevertheless an
for certiorari, while the latter quoted the same on pages 90-91 of the activity inimical to the employer's interest.
respondents' brief: .
In the herein case, it appears to us that for an employee to publish his
... Says the Supreme Court in the following decisions: "suspicion," which actually amounts to a public accusation, that his employer
is exerting political pressure on a public official to thwart some legitimate
activities on the employees, which charge, in the least, would sully the
In a proceeding for unfair labor practice, involving a determination as to
employer's reputation, can be nothing but an act inimical to the said
whether or not the acts of the employees concerned justified the adoption of
employer's interest. And the fact that the same was made in the union
the employer of disciplinary measures against them, the mere fact that the
newspaper does not alter its deleterious character nor shield or protect a
employees may be able to put up a valid defense in a criminal prosecution
for the same acts, does not erase or neutralize the employer's right to reprehensible act on the ground that it is a union activity, because such end
impose discipline on said employees. For it is settled that not even the can be achieved without resort to improper conduct or behavior. The act of
the employees now under consideration may be considered as a misconduct
acquittal of an employee of the criminal charge against him is a bar to the
which is a just cause for dismissal.** (Emphasis ours)
employer's right to impose discipline on its employees, should the act upon
which the criminal charged was based constitute nevertheless an activity
inimical to the employer's interest... The act of the employees now under It is plain to the naked eye that the 60 un-underscored words of the
paragraph quoted by the respondent Judge do not appear in the pertinent
paragraph of this Court's decision in L-20179-81. Moreover, the first appellate courts will be precluded from acting on misinformation, as well as
underscored sentence in the quoted paragraph starts with "For it is settled ..." be saved precious time in finding out whether the citations are correct.
whereas it reads, "For it must be remembered ...," in this Court's decision.
Finally, the second and last underlined sentence in the quoted paragraph of Happily for the respondent Judge and the respondents' counsels, there was
the respondent Judge's decision, appears not in the same paragraph of this no substantial change in the thrust of this Court's particular ruling which they
Court's decision where the other sentence is, but in the immediately cited. It is our view, nonetheless, that for their mistake, they should be, as
succeeding paragraph. they are hereby, admonished to be more careful when citing jurisprudence in
the future. ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Court of Industrial Relations
This apparent error, however, does not seem to warrant an indictment for dated August 17, 1965 is reversed and set aside, and another is entered,
contempt against the respondent Judge and the respondents' counsels. We ordering the respondents to reinstate the dismissed members of the
are inclined to believe that the misquotation is more a result of clerical petitioning Unions to their former or comparatively similar positions, with
ineptitude than a deliberate attempt on the part of the respondent Judge to backwages from June 2, 1958 up to the dates of their actual reinstatements.
mislead. We fully realize how saddled with many pending cases are the Costs against the respondents.
courts of the land, and it is not difficult to imagine that because of the
pressure of their varied and multifarious work, clerical errors may escape
their notice. Upon the other hand, the respondents' counsels have the prima
facie right to rely on the quotation as it appears in the respondent Judge's
decision, to copy it verbatim, and to incorporate it in their brief. Anyway, the
import of the underscored sentences of the quotation in the respondent
Judge's decision is substantially the same as, and faithfully reflects, the
particular ruling in this Court's decision, i.e., that "[N]ot even the acquittal of
an employee, of the criminal charges against him, is a bar to the employer's
right to impose discipline on its employees, should the act upon which the
criminal charges were based constitute nevertheless an activity inimical to
the employer's interest."

Be that as it may, we must articulate our firm view that in citing this Court's
decisions and rulings, it is the bounden duty of courts, judges and lawyers to
reproduce or copy the same word-for-word and punctuation mark-for-
punctuation mark. Indeed, there is a salient and salutary reason why they
should do this. Only from this Tribunal's decisions and rulings do all other
courts, as well as lawyers and litigants, take their bearings. This is because
the decisions referred to in article 8 of the Civil Code which reads, "Judicial
decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a
part of the legal system of the Philippines," are only those enunciated by this
Court of last resort. We said in no uncertain terms in Miranda, et al. vs.
Imperial, et al. (77 Phil. 1066) that "[O]nly the decisions of this Honorable
Court establish jurisprudence or doctrines in this jurisdiction." Thus, ever
present is the danger that if not faithfully and exactly quoted, the decisions
and rulings of this Court may lose their proper and correct meaning, to the
detriment of other courts, lawyers and the public who may thereby be misled.
But if inferior courts and members of the bar meticulously discharge their
duty to check and recheck their citations of authorities culled not only from
this Court's decisions but from other sources and make certain that they are
verbatim reproductions down to the last word and punctuation mark,
Republic of the Philippines Regala and Associates, and Jose B. Sotto, the Solicitor General points
SUPREME COURT out, contain the following statements:
Manila
d. and [the Supreme Court] has overlooked the applicable law due to the
EN BANC misrepresentation and obfuscation of the petitioners' counsel. (Last
sentence, par. 1, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. 10,
G.R. No. L-27072, January 9, 1970 1968).
e. Never has any civilized, democratic tribunal ruled that such a gimmick
SURIGAO MINERAL RESERVATION BOARD, ET AL., Petitioners, vs. (referring to the "right to reject any and all bids") can be used by
HON. GAUDENCIO CLORIBEL ETC., ET AL., Respondents, In Re: vulturous executives to cover up and excuse losses to the public, a
Contempt Proceedings Against Attorneys Vicente L. Santiago, Jose government agency or just plain fraud ... and it is thus difficult, in the
Beltran Sotto, Graciano C. Regala and Associates, Erlito R. Uy, Juanito light of our upbringing and schooling, even under many of the
M. Caling; and Morton F. Meads. incumbent justices, that the Honorable Supreme Court intends to
create a decision that in effect does precisely that in a most absolute
manner. (Second sentence, par. 7, Third Motion for Reconsideration
RESOLUTION dated Sept. 10, 1968).

SANCHEZ, J.: The motion to inhibit filed on September 21, 1968 — after judgment herein
was rendered — and signed by Vicente L. Santiago for himself and allegedly
After the July 31, 1968 decision of this Court adverse to respondent for Attys. Erlito R. Uy, and Graciano Regala and Associates, asked Mr. Chief
MacArthur International Minerals Co., the Solicitor General brought to our Justice Roberto Concepcion and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro to inhibit
attention statements of record purportedly made by Vicente L. Santiago, themselves from considering, judging and resolving the case or any issue or
Erlito R. Uy, Graciano Regala, and Jose Beltran Sotto, members of the Bar, aspect thereof retroactive to January 11, 1967. The motion charges "[t]hat
with the suggestion that disciplinary action be taken against them. On the brother of the Honorable Associate Justice Castro is a vice-president of
November 21, 1968, this Court issued a show-cause order. the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the false, erroneous and
illegal decision dated January 31, 1968" and the ex parte preliminary
The following statements, so the Solicitor General avers, are set forth in the injunction rendered in the above-entitled case, the latter in effect prejudging
memoranda personally signed by Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto: and predetermining this case even before the joining of an issue. As to the
Chief Justice, the motion states "[t]hat the son of the Honorable Chief Justice
a. They (petitioners, including the Executive Secretary) have made these Roberto Concepcion was given a significant appointment in the Philippine
false, ridiculous and wild statements in a desperate attempt to Government by the President a short time before the decision of July 31,
prejudice the courts against MacArthur International. Such efforts could 1968 was rendered in this case." The appointment referred to was as
be accurately called "scattershot desperation" (Memorandum for secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments. The motion presents a
Respondents dated March 27, 1968, pp. 13-14, three lines from the lengthy discourse on judicial ethics, and makes a number of side comments
bottom of page 13 and first line page 14). projecting what is claimed to be the patent wrongfulness of the July 31, 1968
b. Such a proposition is corrupt on its face and it lays bare the immoral decision. It enumerates "incidents" which, according to the motion, brought
and arrogant attitude of the petitioners. (Respondents' Supplemental about respondent MacArthur's belief that "unjudicial prejudice" had been
Memorandum and Reply to Petitioner's Memorandum Brief, dated April caused it and that there was "unjudicial favoritism" in favor of "petitioners,
13, 1968, p. 16, last two lines on bottom of the page). their appointing authority and a favored party directly benefited by the said
c. The herein petitioners ... opportunistically change their claims and decision." The "incidents" cited are as follows:
stories not only from case to case but from pleading to pleading in the
same case. (Respondents' Supplemental Memorandum, Ibid., p.17, a) Said decision is in violation of the law, which law has not been declared
sixth, seventh and eighth lines from bottom of the page). unconstitutional.
b) Said decision ignores totally the applicable law in the above-entitled
MacArthur's third motion for reconsideration signed by Atty. Vicente L. case.
Santiago, on his behalf and purportedly for Attys. Erlito R. Uy, Graciano
c) Said decision deprives respondent of due process of law and the right oblivious or uncomprehending of the violation of moral principle involved
to adduce evidence as is the procedure in all previous cases of this — and also of Judge Geraldez who refuses to inhibit himself in judging
nature. a criminal case against an accused who is also his correspondent in two
d) Due course was given to the unfounded certiorari in the first place when other cases. What is the explanation for such mentality? Is it outright
the appeal from a denial of a motion to dismiss was and is neither new dishonesty? Lack of intelligence? Serious deficiency in moral
nor novel nor capable of leading to a wholesome development of the comprehension? Or is it that many of our government officials are just
law but — only served to delay respondent for the benefit of the favored amoral?
party.
e) The preliminary injunction issued herein did not maintain the status And, in addition, he attempted to explain further subparagraphs (f) and (h)
quo but destroyed it, and the conclusion cannot be avoided that it was of paragraph 7 thereof.
destroyed for a reason, not for no reason at all.
f) There are misstatements and misrepresentations in the said decision
It was on December 2, 1968 that Atty. Vicente L. Santiago filed his
which the Honorable Supreme Court has refused to correct.
compliance with this Court's resolution of November 21, 1968. He there
g) The two main issues in the said decision were decided otherwise in stated that the motion to inhibit and third motion for reconsideration were of
previous decisions, and the main issue "right to reject any or all bids" is his exclusive making and that he alone should be held responsible
being treated on a double standard basis by the Honorable Supreme
therefor. He further elaborated on his explanations made on November 21,
Court.
1968.
h) The fact that respondent believes that the Honorable Supreme Court
knows better and has greater understanding than the said decision
manifests. On December 5, 1968, he supplemented his explanations by saying that
i) The public losses (sic) one hundred and fifty to two hundred million he already deleted paragraph 6 of the Motion to Inhibit heretofore quoted
dollars by said decision — without an effort by the Honorable Supreme from his rough draft but that it was still included through inadvertence.
Court to learn all the facts through presentation through the trial court,
which is elementary. On March 1, 1969, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, as counsel for MacArthur,
registered an amended motion to inhibit. While it repeats the prayer that
On November 21, 1968, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, again for himself and Mr. Chief Justice Concepcion and Mr. Justice Castro inhibit themselves, it
Attys. Erlito R. Uy and Graciano Regala and Associates, in writing pointed left but three paragraphs of the original motion to inhibit, taking out the
out to this Court that the statements specified by the Solicitor General were dissertation on judicial ethics and most of the comments attacking the
either quoted out of context, could be defended, or were comments decision of this Court of July 31, 1968.
legitimate and justifiable. Concern he expressed for the fullest defense of the
interests of his clients. It was stressed that if MacArthur's attorney could not On the part of Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto, it must be stated that as early as
plead such thoughts, his client would be deprived of due process of law. October 7, 1968, he insisted in withdrawing his appearance in this case as
However, counsel sought to change the words "Chief Justice" to "Supreme one of the lawyers of MacArthur. His ground was that he did not agree with
Court" appearing on line 7, paragraph 2 of the motion to inhibit. Atty. the filing of the motion to inhibit the two justices. According to him, "[t]he
Santiago also voluntarily deleted paragraph 6 of the said motion, which in full present steps (sic) now being taken is against counsel's upbringing and
reads: judicial conscience."

1. Unfortunately for our people, it seems that many of our judicial In Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto's return of November 29, 1968, he took pains to
authorities believe that they are the chosen messengers of God in all say that the questioned statements he made were also taken out of context
matters that come before them, and that no matter what the and were necessary for the defense of his client MacArthur. He made the
circumstances are, their judgment is truly ordained by the Almighty unto admission, though, that those statements lifted out of context would indeed
eternity. Some seem to be constitutionally incapable of considering that be sufficient basis for a finding that Section 20(f), Rule 138, had been
any emanation from their mind or pen could be the product of unjudicial violated.
prejudice or unjudicial sympathy or favoritism for a party or an issue.
Witness the recent absurdity of Judge Alikpala daring to proceed to On January 8, 1969, additional arguments were filed by Atty. Jose Beltran
judge a motion to hold himself in contempt of court — seemingly totally Sotto. He there averred that the Supreme Court had no original jurisdiction
over the charge against him because it is one of civil contempt against a present instance because the member who penned the decision was
party and the charge is originally cognizable by the Court of First Instance the very member who was absent for approximately four months or
under Sections 4 and 10, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court. He also stressed more. This provision also applies to the Honorable Justices Claudio
that said charge was not signed by an "offended party or witness", as Teehankee and Antonio Barredo.
required by law; and that the Solicitor General and his assistants could not
stand in the stead of an "offended Party or witness." xxx xxx xxx

We now come to Atty. Graciano C. Regala. In his explanation of December 3. That if the respondent MacArthur International Minerals Company
2, 1968, as further clarified by a supplemental motion of December 27, abandons its quest for justice in the Judiciary of the Philippine
1968, he manifested that the use of or reference to his law firm in this case Government, it will inevitably either raise the graft and corruption of
was neither authorized nor consented to by him or any of his associates; Philippine Government officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965, required
that on July 14, 1967, one Morton F. Meads, in MacArthur's behalf, offered by the Nickel Law to determine the operator of the Surigao nickel
to retain his services, which was accepted; that Meads inquired from him deposits, to the World Court on grounds of deprivation of justice and
whether he could appear in this case; that he advised Meads that this case confiscation of property and /or to the United States Government, either
was outside his professional competence and referred Meads to another its executive or judicial branches or both, on the grounds of confiscation
lawyer who later on likewise turned down the offer; that in view of the of respondent's proprietary vested rights by the Philippine Government
rejection, Meads and he agreed to terminate their previous retainer without either compensation or due process of law — and invoking the
agreement; that he had not participated in any manner in the preparation or Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and benefits
authorship of any pleading or any other document in connection with this to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium,
case. amounting to more than fifty million dollars annually, until restitution or
compensation is made.
On February 4, 1969, Atty. Erlito R. Uy explained his side of the case. In
brief, he denied participation in any of the court papers subject of our This elicited another resolution from this Court on July 18, 1969, requiring
November 21, 1968 order; claimed that he was on six months' leave of Atty. Juanito M. Caling "to show cause within five (5) days from receipt of
absence from July 1, 1968 to December 31, 1968 as one of the attorneys notice hereof why he should not be dealt with for contempt of court."
for MacArthur but that he gave his permission to have his name included
as counsel in all of MacArthur's pleadings in this case (L-27072), even
On July 30, 1969, Atty. Juanita M. Caling filed his return. He there alleged
while he was on leave of absence.
that the said fourth motion for reconsideration was already finalized when
Atty. Vicente L. Santiago came to his office and requested him to
Hearing on this contempt incident was had on March 3, 1969. accommodate MacArthur by signing the motion; that he turned down said
request twice on the ground that he did not know anything about the case,
A second contempt proceeding arose when, on July 14, 1969, respondent much less the truth of the allegations stated in the motion; that "the
MacArthur, through new counsel, Atty. Juanito M. Caling who entered a allegations in said motion were subsequently explained to the undersigned
special appearance for the purpose, lodged a fourth motion for counsel together with the background of the case involved by Atty. Vicente L.
reconsideration without express leave of court. Said motion reiterated Santiago and by one Morton F. Meads"; that upon assurance that there was
previous grounds raised, and contained the following paragraphs: nothing wrong with the motion he was persuaded in good faith to sign the
same; that he was misled in so signing and the true facts of the allegations
2. The said decision is illegal because it was penned by the Honorable were not revealed to him especially the oral argument allegedly made in the
Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion when in fact he was outside the case.
borders of the Republic of the Philippines at the time of the Oral
Argument of the above-entitled case — which condition is prohibited by Because of the foregoing explanation by Atty. Caling, this Court, on August
the New Rules of Court — Section 1, Rule 51, and we quote: "Justices; 4, 1969, resolved "to require Atty. Vicente L. Santiago and Morton Meads to
who may take part. — ... . only those members present when any file in writing their answer to the said return [of Atty. Caling] and at the same
matter is submitted for oral argument will take part in its consideration time to show cause why they, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago and Morton Meads,
and adjudication ..." This requirement is especially significant in the should not be dealt with for contempt of court, on or before August 16, 1969;
and ... to direct that the three, Atty. Juanita M. Caling, Atty. Vicente L. 1. We start with the case of Atty. Vicente L. Santiago. In his third motion for
Santiago, and Morton Meads, personally appear Before this Court on reconsideration, we, indeed, find language that is not to be expected of
Thursday, August 27, 1969, at 9:30 a.m., on which date the contempt an officer of the courts. He pictures petitioners as "vulturous executives".
proceedings against all of them will be heard by this Court." He speaks of this Court as a "civilized, democratic tribunal", but by
innuendo would suggest that it is not.
On August 13, 1969, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago gave his explanation. He
disavowed the truth of Atty. Caling's statement that he (Santiago) convinced In his motion to inhibit, his first paragraph categorizes our decision of July 31,
Caling to sign the motion. The truth, according to Santiago, is that one day 1968 as "false, erroneous and illegal" in a presumptuous manner. He there
Morton Meads went to his office and asked him if he knew of a lawyer nearby charges that the ex parte preliminary injunction we issued in this case
who could help him file another motion for reconsideration, and he (Santiago) prejudiced and predetermined the case even before the joining of an issue.
mentioned Atty. Caling; he there upon accompanied Meads to Caling, told He accuses in a reckless manner two justices of this Court for being
Caling of Meads' desire and left Meads with Caling. Santiago insists that he interested in the decision of this case: Associate Justice Fred Ruiz Castro,
never prepared the motion and that he never even read it. because his brother is the vice president of the favored party who is the chief
beneficiary of the decision, and Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, whose
On August 15, 1969, Morton Meads answered. Meads' version is as follows: son was appointed secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments, "a
On July 14, 1969, he went to Atty. Santiago's office with the fourth motion for significant appointment in the Philippine Government by the President, a
reconsideration which he himself prepared. Santiago started to read the short time before the decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered." In this
motion and in fact began to make some changes in Pencil in the first or backdrop, he proceeds to state that "it would seem that the principles thus
second paragraph when Meads told him that MacArthur wanted a new established [the moral and ethical guidelines for inhibition of any judicial
lawyer, not Santiago, to file the same. Meads asked Santiago if he could authority by the Honorable Supreme Court should first apply to itself." He
recommend one. They then went to Caling whose office was on the same puts forth the claim that lesser and further removed conditions have been
floor. Santiago introduced Meads to Caling at the same time handing the known to create favoritism, only to conclude that there is no reason for a
fourth motion to Caling. While Caling was reading the document, Santiago belief that the conditions obtaining in the case of the Chief Justice and
left. After reading the motion, Caling gave his go-signal. He signed the same Justice Castro "would be less likely to engender favoritism or prejudice for or
after his name was typed therein. The motion was then filed. According to against a particular cause or party." Implicit in this at least is that the Chief
Meads, from the time he entered the office of Santiago to the time the motion Justice and Justice Castro are insensible to delicadeza, which could make
was filed, the period that elapsed was approximately one hour and a half. their actuation suspect. He makes it plain in the motion that the Chief Justice
Santiago was with Caling for about three minutes and Meads was with Caling and Justice Castro not only were not free from the appearance of impropriety
for about fifteen minutes. but did arouse suspicion that their relationship did affect their judgment. He
points out that courts must be above suspicion at all times like Caesar's wife,
In defending himself from the contempt charge, Meads asserts that the warns that loss of confidence for the Tribunal or a member thereof should not
be allowed to happen in our country, "although the process has already
quotation from the Rules of Court set forth in the fourth motion for
begun."
reconsideration has not been taken out of context because said quotation is
precisely accurate; that the "xs" indicate that it is not a complete quotation
and that it is a common practice in court pleadings to submit partial It is true that Santiago voluntarily deleted paragraph 6 which contained
quotations. Meads further contends that the announced plan to bring the language that is as disrespectful. But we cannot erase the fact that it has
case to the World Court is not a threat. In fact, his answer also included a been made. He explained that, he deleted this paragraph in his rough draft,
notice of appeal to the World Court. which paragraph was included in the motion filed in this Court only because
of mere inadvertence. This explanation does not make much of a
distinguishing difference; it erects no shield. Not only because it was
On August 27, 1969, this Court heard Attys. Vicente L. Santiago and Juanito
Caling and Morton Meads in oral argument with respect to the second belatedly made but also because his signature appeared on the motion to
contempt incident. We shall now discuss the first and second contempt inhibit which included paragraph 6. And this paragraph 6 describes with
derision "many of our judicial authorities" who "believe that they are the
incidents seriatim.
chosen messengers of God in all matters that come before them, and that no
matter what the circumstances are, their judgment is truly ordained by the
Almighty unto eternity." It depicts them as seemingly "incapable of
considering that any emanation from their mind or pen could be the product temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its
of unjudicial prejudice or unjudicial sympathy or favoritism for a party or an supreme importance.' That same canon, as a corollary, makes it peculiarly
issue." After citing acts of two judges of first instance, he paused to ask: incumbent upon lawyers to support the courts against 'unjust criticism and
"What is the explanation for such mentality? Is it outright dishonesty? Lack of clamor.' And more. The attorney's oath solemnly binds him to a conduct that
intelligence? Serious deficiency in moral comprehension? Or is it that many should be 'with all good fidelity ... to the courts.' Worth remembering is that
of our government officials are just amoral?" the duty of an attorney to the courts can only be maintained by rendering no
service involving any disrespect to the judicial office which he is bound to
Paragraph 7 also of the motion to inhibit repeated mention of "unjudicial uphold.' "
prejudice" against respondent MacArthur and spoke of "unjudicial favoritism"
for petitioners, their appointing authority and a favored party directly A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court itself, an instrument
benefited by the decision. Paragraph 8 is a lecture on judicial ethics. or agency to advance the ends of justice." His duty is to uphold the dignity
Paragraph 9 is a warning to this Court about loss of confidence, and and authority of the courts to which he owes fidelity, "not to promote distrust
paragraph 10 makes a sweeping statement that "any other justices who have in the administration of justice." Faith in the courts a lawyer should seek to
received favors or benefits directly or indirectly from any of the petitioners or preserve. For, to undermine the judicial edifice "is disastrous to the continuity
members of any board-petitioner, or their agents or principals, including the of government and to the attainment of the liberties of the people." Thus has
President", should also inhibit themselves. it been said of a lawyer that "[a]s an officer of the court, it is his sworn and
moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and
What is disconcerting is that Atty. Santiago's accusations have no basis in regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of
fact and in law. The slur made is not limited to the Chief Justice and Mr. justice."
Justice Castro. It sweepingly casts aspersion on the whole court. For,
inhibition is also asked of, we repeat, "any other justices who have received It ill behooves Santiago to justify his language with the statement that it was
favors or benefits directly or indirectly from any of the petitioners or any necessary for the defense of his client. A client's cause does not permit an
members of any board-petitioner or their agents or principals, including the attorney to cross the line between liberty and license. Lawyers must always
president." The absurdity of this posture is at once apparent. For one thing, keep in perspective the thought that "[s]ince lawyers are administrators of
the justices of this Court are appointed by the President and in that sense justice, oath-bound servants of society, their first duty is not to their clients,
may be considered to have each received a favor from the President. Should as many suppose, but to the administration of justice; to this, their clients'
these justices inhibit themselves every time a case involving the success is wholly subordinate; and their conduct ought to and must be
Administration crops up? Such a thought may not certainly be entertained. scrupulously observant of law and ethics." As rightly observed by Mr. Justice
The consequence thereof would be to paralyze the machinery of this Court. Malcolm in his well-known treatise, a judge from the very nature of his
We would in fact, be wreaking havoc on the tripartite system of government position, lacks the power to defend himself and it is the attorney, and no
operating in this country. Counsel is presumed to know this. But why the other, who can better or more appropriately support the judiciary and the
unfounded charge? There is the not-too-well concealed effort on the part of a incumbent of the judicial position. From this, Mr. Justice Malcolm continued
losing litigant's attorney to downgrade this Court. to say: "It will of course be a trying ordeal for attorneys under certain
conditions to maintain respectful obedience to the court. It may happen that
The mischief that stems from all of the foregoing gross disrespect is easy to counsel possesses greater knowledge of the law than the justice of the
discern. Such disrespect detracts much from the dignity of a court of justice. peace or judge who presides over the court. It may also happen that since no
Decidedly not an expression of faith, counsel's words are intended to create court claims infallibility, judges may grossly err in their decisions.
an atmosphere of distrust, of disbelief. We are thus called upon to repeat Nevertheless, discipline and self-restraint on the part of the bar even under
what we have said in Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer (1967), 20 SCRA adverse conditions are necessary for the orderly administration of justice."
441, 444, as follows: "By now, a lawyer's duties to the Court have become
common place. Really, there could hardly be any valid excuse for lapses in The precepts, the teachings, the injunctions just recited are not unfamiliar to
the observance thereof. Section 20(b), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, in lawyers. And yet, this Court finds in the language of Atty. Santiago a style
categorical terms, spells out one such duty: 'To observe and maintain the that undermines and degrades the administration of justice. The stricture in
respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers.' As explicit is the first Section 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Rules — against improper conduct tending to
canon of legal ethics which pronounces that '[i]t is the duty of the lawyer to degrade the administration of justice— is thus transgressed. Atty. Santiago is
maintain towards the Courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the guilty of contempt of court.
2. We next take the case of Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto. We analyze the 3. Not much need be said of the case of Atty. Graciano C. Regala. It was
statements pointed out to us by the Solicitor General hereinbefore improper for Atty. Santiago to have included the name of the firm of Atty.
quoted. Sotto accuses petitioners of having made "false, ridiculous and Regala without the latter's knowledge and consent. Correctly did Regala
wild statements in a desperate attempt to prejudice the courts against insist — and this is confirmed by the other lawyers of respondents — that
MacArthur." He brands such efforts as "scattershot desperation". He he had not participated in any way in the pleadings of the above-entitled
describes a proposition of petitioners as "corrupt on its face", laying bare case. Regala did not even know that his name was included as co-
"the immoral and arrogant attitude of the petitioners." He charges counsel in this case. He is exonerated.
petitioners with opportunistically changing their claims and stories not 4. Last to be considered with respect to the first contempt incident is the
only from case to case but from pleading to pleading in the same case. case of Atty. Erlito R. Uy. Borne out by the record is the fact that Atty. Uy
Such language is not arguably protected; it is the surfacing of a feeling of was not also involved in the preparation of any of the pleadings subject
contempt towards a litigant; it offends the court before which it is made. It of the contempt citation. He should be held exempt from contempt.
is no excuse to say that these statements were taken out of context. We 5. We now turn our attention to the second contempt incident. The fourth
have analyzed the lines surrounding said statements. They do not in any motion for reconsideration is, indeed, an act of contumacy.
manner justify the inclusion of offensive language in the pleadings. It has
been said that "[a] lawyer's language should be dignified in keeping with First. It was filed without express leave of court. No explanation has been
the dignity of the legal profession." It is Sotto's duty as a member of the made why this has been done.
Bar "[t]o abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact
prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless
Second. It lifted Section 1. Rule 51, Rules of Court, out of context. Said
required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged."
Section 1 was quoted as follows: "Justices; who may take part. — ... only
those members present when any matter is submitted for oral argument will
Not far from the case of Atty. Sotto is People vs. Young, 83 Phil. 702, 708, take part in its consideration and adjudication ..." However, the provision in
where counsel for the accused convicted of murder made use of the its entire thought should be read thus —
following raw language in his brief : "The accused since birth was a poor man
and a son of a poor farmer, that since his boyhood he has never owned a
SECTION 1. Justices; who may take part. — All matters submitted to the
thousand pesos in his own name. Now, here comes a chance for him. A cold court for its consideration and adjudication will be deemed to be submitted
fifty thousand bucks in exchange of a man's life. A simple job. Perhaps a
for consideration and adjudication by any and all of the Justices who are
question of seconds' work and that would transform him into a new man.
members of the division of the court at the time when such matters are taken
Once in a small nipa shack, now in a palatial mansion! This poor ignorant
up for consideration and adjudication, whether such Justices were or were
man blinded by the promise of wealth, protection and stability was given to
not present at the date of submission; however, only those members present
do the forbidden deed." We there held that "[s]uch a plea is a disgrace to the when any matter is submitted for oral argument will take part in its
bar and an affront to the court." consideration and adjudication, if the parties or either of them, express a
desire to that effect in writing filed with the clerk at the date of submission.
It will not avail Sotto any to say that the Solicitor General or his assistants
may not be considered offended parties in this case. This Court may motu
Atty. Caling, who was admitted to the Bar in 1966, did not attempt to explain
proprio start proceedings of this nature. There should be no doubt about the this point.
power of this Court to punish him for contempt under the circumstances. For,
inherent in courts is the power "[t]o control, in furtherance of justice, the
conduct of its ministerial officers, and of all other persons in any manner Meads, however, for his part tried to reason out why such a distorted
connected with a case before it, in every manner appertaining thereto." quotation came about — the portion left out was anyway marked by "XS"
which is a common practice among lawyers. Canon 22 of the Canons of
Legal Ethics reminds the lawyer to characterize his conduct with candor and
We, accordingly, hold that Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto has misbehaved, under fairness, and specifically states that "it is not candid nor fair for the lawyer
Section 3 (a), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, as an officer of the court in the
knowingly to misquote." While Morton Meads is admittedly not a lawyer, it
performance of his official duties; and that he too has committed, under
does not take a lawyer to see the deliberate deception that is being foisted
Section 3 (d) of the same rule, improper conduct tending to degrade the
upon this Court. There was a qualification to the rule quoted and that
administration of justice. He is, therefore, guilty of contempt.
qualification was intentionally omitted.
Third. The motion contained an express threat to take the case to the World the proceedings. Whatever steps his client takes should be within his
Court and/or the United States government. It must be remembered that knowledge and responsibility. Indeed, Canon 16 of the Canons of Legal
respondent MacArthur at that time was still trying to overturn the decision of Ethics should have reminded him that "[a] lawyer should use his best efforts
this Court of July 31, 1968. In doing so, unnecessary statements were to restrain and to prevent his clients from doing those things which the lawyer
injected. More specifically, the motion announced that MacArthur "will himself ought not to do, particularly with reference to their conduct towards
inevitably ... raise the graft and corruption of [the] Philippine government courts, judicial officers, jurors, witnesses and suitors. If a client persists in
officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965 ... to the World Court" and would such wrongdoing the lawyer should terminate their relation."
invoke "the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and
benefits to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium, The dignity of the Court, experience teaches, can never be protected where
amounting to more than fifty million dollars annually…" infraction of ethics meets with complacency rather than punishment. The
people should not be given cause to break faith with the belief that a judge is
This is a clear attempt to influence or bend the mind of this Court to decide the epitome of honor amongst men. To preserve its dignity, a court of justice
the case in its favor. A notice of appeal to the World Court has even been should not yield to the assaults of disrespect. Punctilio of honor, we prefer to
embodied in Meads' return. There is a gross inconsistency between the think, is a standard of behavior so desirable in a lawyer pleading a cause
appeal and the move to reconsider the decision. An appeal from a decision before a court of justice.
presupposes that a party has already abandoned any move to reconsider
that decision. And yet, it would appear that the appeal to the World Court is 9. One last word. It would seem apropos to say again that, if only for one
being dangled as a threat to effect a change of the decision of this Court. reason, this Court had really no alternative but to decide the main case
Such act has no aboveboard explanation. against respondent MacArthur. As we held in our decision of July 31,
1968, MacArthur did not even adhere to the terms and conditions of the
6. Atty. Caling has not shown to the satisfaction of this Court that he should invitation to bid. For, this invitation to bid explicitly warned that "bids not
be exempted from the contempt charge against him. He knows that he is accompanied by bid bonds will be rejected. And We repeat, "[a]dmittedly,
an officer of this Court. He admits that he has read the fourth motion for the bid of the Company [MacArthur] had been submitted without the
reconsideration before he signed it. While he has been dragged in only requisite bond." It would not require the adroit mind of a lawyer to say
at the last minute, still it was plainly his duty to have taken care that his that a bid unaccompanied by a bond., contrary to the instructions to
name should not be attached to pleadings contemptuous in character. bidders, is not entitled to any consideration.
7. As for Morton F. Meads, he had admitted having prepared the fourth
motion for reconsideration. He cannot beg off from the contempt charge It should be emphasized, too, that because the decision herein was by a
against him even though he is not a lawyer. He is guilty of contempt. unanimous Court, even if the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro
8. We go back to Atty. Vicente L. Santiago. His insistence that he had had not taken part in the decision on the merits of this case, the result would
nothing to do with the fourth motion for reconsideration and that he had have been the same: MacArthur's cause would just the same have failed.
not even read the same is too transparent to survive fair appraisal. It
goes against the grain of circumstances. Caling represents before us
For the reasons given, this Court hereby finds:
that it was Santiago who convinced him to sign the motion, who with
Meads explained to him the allegations thereof and the background of
the case. Caling says that if not for his friendship with Santiago, he would 1. On the first contempt charge, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago and Atty. Jose
not have signed the motion. On the other hand, Meads states that Beltran Sotto guilty of contempt of court, and fines Atty. Santiago in the
Santiago began to read the fourth motion for reconsideration and even sum of P1,000, and Atty. Sotto, P100; and holds Attys. Graciano C.
started to make changes thereon in pencil. We must not forget, too, that Regala and Associates and Atty. Erlito R. Uy not guilty of contempt of
according to Meads himself, he spent, on July 14, 1969, quite some time court; and
with Santiago before they proceeded to Caling. It is highly improbable 2. On the second contempt charge, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, Morton F.
that Santiago did not read the fourth motion for reconsideration during all Meads and Atty. Juanita M. Caling guilty of contempt of court, and fines
that time. Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, an additional P1,000, Morton F. Meads,
P1,000, and Atty. Juanito M. Caling, P200.
Furthermore, Santiago is a lawyer of record for respondent MacArthur in this
case. He has not resigned from his position as such lawyer. He has control of
Let a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Honorable, the Secretary of
Justice, for whatever action he may deem proper to take in the premises
against Morton F. Meads who is an alien.

Let another copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Honorable, the


Solicitor General, for such action as he may deem proper in relation to the
disbarment or suspension of Attys. Vicente L. Santiago, Jose Beltran Sotto
and Juanito M. Caling.

The Clerk of this Court is hereby directed to append a copy of this decision to
the personal records of Attorneys Vicente L. Santiago, Jose Beltran Sotto
and Juanito M. Caling.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines A complaint for Damages was filed before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of
SUPREME COURT San Mateo, Rizal docketed as Civil Case No. 1863, entitled Marsha Aranas
Manila vs. Arnold Balmores. The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) thru Atty. Ferdinand
P. Censon represented the complainant while Atty. Rodolfo Flores appeared
SECOND DIVISION as counsel for the defendant.

A.C. No. 8954, November 13, 2013 x x x During the Preliminary Conference x x x, respondent Atty. Flores
entered his appearance and was given time to file a Pre-Trial Brief. x x x On
HON. MARIBETH RODRIGUEZ-MANAHAN, Presiding Judge, Municipal May 24, 2010, respondent Atty. Flores filed his Pre-Trial Brief but without
Trial Court, San Mateo, Rizal, Complainant, vs. proof of MCLE compliance hence it was expunged from the records without
ATTY. RODOLFO FLORES, Respondent. prejudice to the filing of another Pre-Trial Brief containing the required MCLE
compliance. x x x Atty. Flores asked for ten (10) days to submit proof.
RESOLUTION
The preliminary conference was reset several times (August 11, September
8) for failure of respondent Atty. Flores to appear and submit his Pre-Trial
DEL CASTILLO, J.: Brief indicating thereon his MCLE compliance. The court a quo likewise
issued Orders dated September 15 and October 20, 2010 giving respondent
Respondent Atty. Rodolto Flores (Atty. Flores) was counsel for the defendant Atty. Flores a last chance to submit his Pre-Trial Brief with stern warning that
in Civil Case No. 1863 captioned as Marsha Aranas plaintiff versus Arnold failure to do so shall be considered a waiver on his part.
Balmores defendant a suit for damages filed before the Municipal Trial Court
of San Mateo, Rizal and presided by herein complainant Judge Maribeth Meanwhile, respondent Atty. Flores filed a Manifestation in Court dated
Rodriguez-Manahan (Judge Manahan). During the proceedings in Civil Case September 14, 2010 stating among others, the following allegations:
No. 1863, Judge Manahan issued an Order dated January 12, 2011,
whereby she voluntarily inhibited from hearing Civil Case No. 1863. The said
xxxx
Order reads in part, viz:

3. When you took your oath as member of the Bar, you promised to serve
More than mere contempt do his (Atty. Flores) unethical actuations, his traits
of dishonesty and discourtesy not only to his own brethren in the legal truth, justice and fair play. Do you think you are being truthful, just and
fair by serving a cheater?
profession, but also to the bench and judges, would amount to grave
4. Ignorance of the law excuses no one for which reason even Erap was
misconduct, if not a malpractice of law, a serious ground for disciplinary
convicted by the Sandiganbayan. But even worse is a lawyer who
action of a member of the bar pursuant to Rules 139 a & b.
violates the law.
5. Last but not the least, God said Thou shall not lie. Again the Philippine
IN VIEW WHEREOF, furnish a copy of this Order to the Bar Discipline Constitution commands: Give every Filipino his due. The act of refusal
Committee, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, to the Supreme Court en banc, by the plaintiff is violative of the foregoing divine and human laws.
for appropriate investigation and sanction.
xxxx
Upon receipt of the copy of the above Order, the Office of the Bar Confidant
(OBC) deemed the pronouncements of Judge Manahan as a formal
Respondent Atty. Flores later filed his Pre-Trial Brief bearing an MCLE
administrative Complaint against Atty. Flores. Docketed as A.C. No. 8954,
number which was merely superimposed without indicating the date and
the case was referred to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
place of compliance. During the preliminary conference on November 24,
Rizal for investigation, report and recommendation.
2010, respondent Atty. Flores manifested that he will submit proof of
compliance of his MCLE on the following day. On December 1, 2010,
In her Investigation, Report and Recommendation, Investigating Judge respondent Atty. Flores again failed to appear and to submit the said
Josephine Zarate Fernandez (Investigating Judge) narrated the antecedents promised proof of MCLE compliance. In its stead, respondent Atty. Flores
of the case as follows: filed a Letter of even date stating as follows:
If only to give your Honor another chance to prove your pro plaintiff speech which must be exercised responsibly. After all, every right carries
sentiment, I am hereby filing the attached Motion which you may once more with it the corresponding obligation. Freedom is not freedom from
assign to the waste basket of nonchalance. responsibility, but freedom with responsibility. The lawyer's fidelity to his
client must not be pursued at the expense of truth and orderly administration
With the small respect that still remains, I have asked the defendant to look of justice. It must be done within the confines of reason and common sense.
for another lawyer to represent him for I am no longer interested in this case
because I feel I cannot do anything right in your sala. However, we find the recommended penalty too harsh and not
commensurate with the infractions committed by the respondent. It appears
The Investigating Judge found Atty. Flores to have failed to give due respect that this is the first infraction committed by respondent. Also, we are not
to the court by failing to obey court orders, by failing to submit proof of his prepared to impose on the respondent the penalty of one-year suspension
compliance with the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) for humanitarian reasons. Respondent manifested before this Court that he
requirement, and for using intemperate language in his pleadings. The has been in the practice of law for half a century. Thus, he is already in his
Investigating Judge recommended that Atty. Flores be suspended from the twilight years. Considering the foregoing, we deem it proper to fine
practice of law for one year. respondent in the amount of ₱5,000.00 and to remind him to be more
circumspect in his acts and to obey and respect court processes.
The OBC adopted the findings and recommendation of the Investigating
Judge. ACCORDINGLY, respondent Atty. Rodolfo Flores is FINED in the amount of
₱5,000.00 with STERN WARNING that the repetition of a similar offense
Our Ruling shall be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.
There is no doubt that Atty. Flores failed to obey the trial court’s order to
submit proof of his MCLE compliance notwithstanding the several
opportunities given him. "Court orders are to be respected not because the
judges who issue them should be respected, but because of the respect and
consideration that should be extended to the judicial branch of the
Government. This is absolutely essential if our Government is to be a
government of laws and not of men. Respect must be had not because of the
incumbents to the positions, but because of the authority that vests in them.
Disrespect to judicial incumbents is disrespect to that branc the Government
to which they belong, as well as to the State which has instituted the judicial
system."

Atty. Flores also employed intemperate language in his pleadings. As an


officer of the court, Atty. Flores is expected to be circumspect in his
language. Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
enjoins all attorneys to abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing
language or behavior before the Courts. Atty. Flores failed in this respect.

At this juncture, it is well to remind respondent that:

While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client full devotion to
his client's genuine interest and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense
of his client's rights, as well as the exertion of his utmost learning and ability,
he must do so only within the bounds of law. A lawyer is entitled to voice his
c1iticism within the context of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of