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A.C. No.

5246 May 2, 2006

EDGAR O. PEREA, Complainant, vs. ATTY. RUBEN L. ALMADRO, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

This refers to an offshoot incident in the disbarment case1 filed by Edgar O. Perea against Atty. Ruben L. Almadro.

Atty. Ruben L. Almadro engaged the services of the Sua & Alambra Law Offices to represent him in this disbarment case. In their
Entry of Appearance with Motion/Manifestation dated November 20, 2000, signed by Atty. Alan Andres B. Alambra, he stated
that respondent has yet to receive a copy of the complaint and thus prayed that a copy of the said complaint be furnished him
so he can file an answer. Complainant Edgar O. Perea filed a Manifestation dated November 29, 2000, asseverating that he had
furnished respondent copies of the complaint through facsimile machine.

In the Resolution dated March 20, 2003, the Court sustained the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ order requiring Atty. Kenton
Sua and Atty. Alambra to show cause for their deliberate falsehood and misrepresentation in the preparation of the answer for
respondent, and accordingly remanded the case to the IBP for further action on the contempt proceedings.

Before the Court now is the Resolution No. XVII-2005-162 dated December 17, 2005 of the Board of Governors of the IBP
finding that Atty. Sua and Atty. Alambra were less than honest and forthright in their representation before the Court and
imposing a fine of P2,000.00 each with warning that any further unprofessional conduct will be dealt with more severely.

Let it be emphasized that the subject contumacious act was committed before the Court; thus, the following disposition.

In their Explanation dated September 10, 2002,2 Atty. Sua and Atty. Alambra avered that: Atty. Sua, a partner in the Sua &
Alambra Law Offices, was not and is not, the partner assigned to handle the case for Atty. Almadro and had no participation
whatsoever in the case other than to notarize the Affidavit of Service for Atty. Almadro’s Answer; Atty. Alambra acted in good
faith upon the express instructions and advise of Atty. Almadro that he never received a copy of the complaint up to the time
that he referred the case to their Law Office. To bolster their claim of good faith, they attached a photocopy of the letter of
Atty. Almadro dated November 9, 20003 stating that he had not actually received a copy of the complaint of Mr. Perea.

The Court is not fully convinced.

A perusal of the aforesaid letter of Atty. Almadro reveals that indeed stated that he had not received a copy of the complaint.
However, in Atty. Almadro’s three Motions for Extension of Time to Comment4 which he filed before the Court before engaging
the services of the law office, there was no mention that he had not received a copy of the complaint. In fact, in the second
paragraph of the second motion for extension, Atty. Almadro stated that:

He is in the process of reviewing an initial draft of said comment and will need said period of ten (10) days to complete and
finalize the draft.

Said statement shows very clearly that Atty. Almadro has received a copy of the complaint. For how can he prepare a draft of
his comment if it were not so? This should have alerted Atty. Alambra to verify the veracity of the claim of Atty. Almadro. Atty.
Alambra should not have relied on the statement given by Atty. Almadro. Their being classmates in the law school is not a
reason to be less cautious in his dealings with the Court. He is an officer of the court, and as such, he owes candor, fairness and
good faith to the Court.5 As explicitly stated in Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:

A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he misled, or allow the Court to be
misled by any artifice.1avvphil.net

Considering the admission made by Atty. Alambra regarding the non-participation of Atty. Sua, the latter should be absolved of
any liability.

WHEREFORE, finding Atty. Alan Andres B. Alambra guilty of contempt of Court and neglect of his duties as a lawyer as
embodied in Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, he is FINED in the amount of Two Thousand Pesos
(P2,000.00) with a WARNING that any similar act will be dealt with more severely. Atty. Kenton Sua is absolved of any liability.

SO ORDERED.
ALLIED BANKING CORPORATION vs. CA and POTENCIANO L. GALANIDA G.R. No. 144412 November 18, 2003

Carpio, J.

FACTS: Private respondent is an employee of petitioner, hired as an accountant-bookkeeper and eventually promoted as an
assistant manager which included his transfer to several branches nine times. His appointment was covered by a “Notice of
Personnel Action” which provides as one of the conditions of employment the provision on petitioner’s right to transfer
employees on as a regular appointment as the need arises in the interest of maintaining smooth and uninterrupted service to
the public. Effecting a rotation/movement of officers assigned in the Cebu homebase, petitioner listed respondent as second in
the order of priority of assistant managers to be assigned outside of Cebu City. However, private respondent refused to be
transferred to Bacolod City in a letter by reason of parental obligations, expenses, and the anguish that would result if he is
away from his family. He thereafter filed a complaint before the Labor Arbiter for constructive dismissal. Subsequently,
petitioner informed private respondent that he was to report to the Tagbilaran City Branch, however, private respondent again
refused. As a result, petitioner warned and required him to follow the said orders; otherwise, he shall be penalized under the
company’s discipline policy. Furthermore, private respondent was required to explain and defend himself. The latter replied
stating that whether he be suspended or dismissed, it would all the more establish and fortify his complaint pending before the
NLRC and further charges petitioner with discrimination and favoritism in ordering his transfer. He further alleges that the
management’s discriminatory act of transferring only the long staying accountants of Cebu in the guise of its exercise of
management prerogative when in truth and in fact, the ulterior motive is to accommodate some new officers who happen to
enjoy favorable connection with management. As a result, petitioner, through a Memo, informed private respondent that Allied
Bank is terminating him. The reasons given for the dismissal were: (1) continued refusal to be transferred from the Jakosalem,
Cebu City branch; and (2) his refusal to report for work despite the denial of his application for additional vacation leave. The
Labor Arbiter held that petitioner had abused its management prerogative in ordering private respondent’s transfer and the
refusal by the latter did not amount to insubordination. The NLRC likewise ruled that: (1) petitioner terminated the private
respondent without just cause considering family considerations; (2) the transfer is a demotion since the Bacolod and
Tagbilaran branches were smaller than the Jakosalem branch, a regional office, and because the bank wanted him, an assistant
manager, to replace an assistant accountant in the Tagbilaran branch; (3) the termination was illegal for lack of due process as
no hearing appears to have been conducted and that petitioner failed to send a termination notice and instead issued a Memo
merely stating a notice of termination would be issued, but petitioner did not issue any notice; and (4) petitioner dismissed
private respondent in bad faith,

tantamount to an unfair labor practice as the dismissal undermined the latter’s right to security of tenure and equal protection
of the laws. The ruling of NLRC was later affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

ISSUES: 1. WHETHER THERE IS LEGAL BASIS IN PETITIONER’S EXERCISE OF ITS MANAGEMENT PREROGATIVE. 2. WHETHER
PRIVATE RESPONDENT’S REFUSAL TO TRANSFER CONSTITUTES VIOLATIONS OF COMPANY RULES WARRANTING THE PENALTY
OF DISMISSAL. 3. WHETHER PETITIONER DISCRIMINATED AGAINST PRIVATE RESPONDENT IN DIRECTING HIS TRANSFER. 4.
WHETHER PRIVATE RESPONDENT’S TRANSFER CONSTITUTES A DEMOTION. 5. WHETHER PETITIONER IS COMMITTED ULP. 6.
WHETHER ALLIED BANK AFFORDED PRIVATE RESPONDENT DUE PROCESS.

HELD: 1. Yes. The rule is that the transfer of an employee ordinarily lies within the ambit of the employer’s prerogatives. The
employer exercises the prerogative to transfer an employee for valid reasons and according to the requirement of its business,
provided the transfer does not result in demotion in rank or diminution of the employee’s salary, benefits and other privileges.
In illegal dismissal cases, the employer has the burden of showing that the transfer is not unnecessary, inconvenient and
prejudicial to the displaced employee. 2. Yes. Private respondent was well aware of petitioner’s policy of periodically
transferring personnel to different branches. The assignment to the different branches of Allied Bank was a condition of his
employment and he consented to this condition when he signed the Notice of Personnel Action. The Court cannot accept the
proposition that when an employee opposes his employer’s decision to transfer him to another work place, there being no bad
faith or underhanded motives on the part of either party, it is the employee’s wishes that should be made to prevail. The
refusal to obey a valid transfer order constitutes willful disobedience of a lawful order of an employer. Employees may object
to, negotiate and seek redress against employers for rules or orders that they regard as unjust or illegal. However, until and
unless these rules or orders are declared illegal or improper by competent authority, the employees ignore or disobey them at
their peril. Therefore, private respondent’s continued refusal to obey Allied Bank’s transfer orders warrants just cause in his
dismissal in accordance with Article 282 (a) of the Labor Code and thus not entitled to reinstatement or to separation pay. 3.
No. Allied Bank’s letter of 13 June 1994 showed that at least 14 accounting officers and personnel from various branches,
including private respondent, were transferred to other branches. Allied Bank did not single him out. The same letter
explained that he was second in line for assignment outside Cebu because he had been in Cebu for seven years already. It must
be noted that none of the other transferees joined private respondents in his complaint or corroborated his allegations of
widespread discrimination and favoritism.

4. No. No evidence was presented showing that the transfer would diminish his salary, benefits, or privileges. On the contrary,
petitioner’s letter of 13 June 1994 assured private respondent that he would not suffer any reduction in rank or grade, and that
the transfer would involve the same rank, duties and obligations. 5. No. Unfair labor practices relate only to violations of “the
constitutional right of workers and employees to self-organization” and are limited to the acts enumerated in Article 248 of the
Labor Code, none of which applies to the present case. There is no evidence that private respondent took part in forming a
union, or even that a union existed in Allied Bank. 6. Yes. To be effective, a dismissal must comply with Section 2 (d), Rule 1,
Book VI of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code which provides: For termination of employment based on just
causes as defined in Article 282 of the Labor Code: (i) A written notice served on the employee specifying the ground or
grounds of termination, and giving said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain his side.

(ii) A hearing or conference during which the employee concerned, with the assistance of counsel if he so desires is given
opportunity to respond to the charge,present his evidence, or rebut the evidence presented against him. (iii) A written notice
of termination served on the employee indicating that upon due consideration of all the circumstances, grounds have been
established to justify his termination. The first written notice was embodied in Allied Bank’s letter of 13 June 1994. The first
notice required private respondent to explain why no disciplinary action should be taken against him for his refusal to comply
with the transfer orders. On the requirement of a hearing, the Court has held that the essence of due process is simply an
opportunity to be heard. An actual hearing is not necessary. The exchange of several letters gave him an opportunity to
respond to the charges against him. The Memo, although captioned “Transfer and Reassignment,” did not preclude it from
being a notice of termination. The Court has held that the nature of an instrument is characterized not by the title given to it
but by its body and contents. Moreover, private respondent himself regarded the Memo as a notice of termination. The Memo
shows that it unequivocally informed private respondent of Allied Bank’s decision to dismiss him and discussed the findings of
the Investigation Committee that served as grounds for the dismissal. In addition, the Memo also refuted the charges of
discrimination and demotion. However, the Memo suffered from certain errors. Although the Memo stated that termination
was to be effective as of 1 September 1994, the Memo bore the date 8 September 1994. More importantly, private respondent
only received a copy of the Memo on 5 October 1994, or more than a month after the supposed date of his dismissal. To be
effective, a written notice of termination must be served on the employee. Allied Bank could not terminate him on 1
September 1994 because he had not received as of that date the notice of Allied Bank’s decision to dismiss him. The dismissal
could only

take effect on 5 October 1994, upon his receipt of the Memo. For this reason, private respondent is entitled to backwages for
the period from 1 September 1994 to 4 October 1994.

Fallo:

CA and NLRC affirmed. Case is remanded to the Labor Arbiter for the computationof the backwages, inclusive of allowances and
other benefits, due to private respondent from 1 September 1994 until 4 October 1994. Labor Arbiter Dominador A. Almirante
and Atty. Loreto M. Durano are ADMONISHED to be more careful in citing the decisions of the Supreme Court in the future
(Dosch v. NLRC).
ATTY. ANTONIO D. SELUDO, complainant, vs. JUDGE ANTONIO J. FINEZA, respondent.

The incident which gave rise to this administrative case occurred in the course of the proceedings of People of the Philippines vs. Alfonso De
Villar, Errol De Villar and Rodeo Lerio, Criminal Case No. C-58093 for attempted murder, before respondent Judge Antonio J. Fineza, Branch 131
of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City.

The respondent judge was charged administratively by Atty. Antonio D. Seludo, counsel for the accused, before the Office of the Court
Administrator of the Supreme Court, with the following offenses: (1) gross ignorance of the law, (2) oppression in office, (3) grave abuse of
authority, and (4) conduct unbecoming of a judge.[1]

It was alleged that on November 27, 2002, respondent judge ordered the arrest of complainant for the failure of accused, Errol De Villar and
Rodeo Lerio, as well as their counsel, Atty. Antonio Seludo, to appear in todays promulgation of (the) decision despite due notice, x x x.[2] The
Order of Arrest[3] commanded any officer of the law to arrest complainant and to keep him in jail until the decision in Criminal Case No. 58093
shall have been promulgated.

Complainant averred that he was the defense counsel in two separate Criminal Cases: (1) Nos. 178462-64 before Judge Edwin B. Ramizo and (2)
No. C-58093 before respondent judge. On November 11, 2002, complainant received an order from respondent setting the promulgation of the
decision in Criminal Case No. 58093 on November 18. The promulgation did not push through as respondent judge was confined in a hospital.
On November 25, complainant received another order setting the promulgation at 8:30 a.m. of November 27. However, upon checking his
calendar, complainant noticed that on the said date and time, he had a previously-set hearing of Criminal Case Nos. 178462-64 before Judge
Ramizo. Due to the conflicting schedule, he instructed his secretary to inform the office of respondent judge that he could not attend the
promulgation of his decision. He was thus surprised to receive on November 28, the aforementioned order directing his arrest and detention.

Upon his arrest, complainant requested permission to go to the court of respondent judge to ask for reconsideration. In court, respondent
judge refused to see him. Complainant waited and was able to talk to respondent judge when the latter went out of his chambers and walked
to his car. Complainant pleaded with respondent judge, who opened the windows of his car and, in the presence of the police officers, said,
kung gusto mo, pumunta ka sa harap ng kotse ko at sasagasaan na lang kita.[4]

Complainant spent the night in jail. The next day, he was brought to court for the promulgation of the decision. However, Prosecutor Eulogio
Mananquil, Jr., the public prosecutor, came late and was improperly dressed. Respondent judge flared up, fined him and held the promulgation
in abeyance until Prosecutor Mananquil paid the cashier the one thousand peso (P1,000.00)-fine meted on him. Atty. Eduardo Rodriguez, the
lawyer assisting complainant, requested for a written order to be presented to the cashier as basis for the payment of the imposed fine, but
respondent merely told him, If you want an order, I will sign that order on Monday.[5] Fortunately, Prosecutor Mananquil was able to pay the
fine. The decision was promulgated on the same afternoon and complainant was released from jail.

Complainant claimed that he attended all scheduled hearings of Criminal Case No. 58093 before respondent judge, and that it was only the
promulgation set on November 27 that he missed due to a conflict in schedule. He alleged that due to his incarceration, he failed to attend to
the hearing of his cases involving six paying clients set in the morning of November 29.

In his comment, respondent judge denied the allegations of the complaint. He called the complainant a fact fabricator, a congenital liar, and an
Indian, meaning, he failed to comply with his commitment.[6] He averred that he ordered the incarceration of complainant to avoid delay in the
promulgation of the decision in Criminal Case No. 58093. Allegedly, complainant failed to attend the first scheduled date of promulgation. He
emphasized his fast disposal of cases such that for the years 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002, his inventory of pending cases showed a
zero balance. He likewise denied the car incident and alleged that he merely asked complainant, umalis ka diyan at baka masagasaan iyong
paa,[7] since complainant was leaning on the left side of his car.

Complainant replied stating that his secretary called respondents office on November 18, and was told that all hearings scheduled for the day
were cancelled due to respondents hospitalization. He denied he was delaying the case.

The report of the Office of the Court Administrator is adverse to the respondent judge, viz:

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The arrest of the complainant was, therefore, not only illegal, but also oppressive, and it violated his constitutional right to due process.
Complainant was arrested and detained without giving him the opportunity to be heard. In so doing, respondent judge, wittingly or unwittingly,
committed arbitrary detention defined and penalized under Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code when the order of arrest was issued for
complainant (who) was not committing a crime

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In his COMMENT, respondent judge used the words: fact fabricator, congenital liar, Indian who fails to comply with his commitment and dim-
witted lawyer, as descriptive of the complainant. These words are inflammatory which should have been avoided. In explaining why he issued
the order of arrest against the complainant, the use of intemperate and insulting rhetorics is not necessary, if only to maintain the dignity of,
and respect for, the court as an institution.[8]
The OCA recommended that respondent judge be penalized to pay a FINE in the amount of twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) for gross
ignorance of the law, oppression, grave abuse of authority and violation of Rule 8.01,[9] Canon 8 and Rule 10.03,[10] Canon 10 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.[11]

We agree with modification.

In the case at bar, respondent based his authority in ordering complainants incarceration on Section 14, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Court,
which provides:

Sec. 14. Bail to secure appearance of material witness. When the court is satisfied, upon proof or oath, that a material witness will not testify
when required, it may, upon motion of either party, order the witness to post bail in such sum as may be deemed proper. Upon refusal to post
bail, the court shall commit him to prison until he complies or is legally discharged after his testimony has been taken.

It does not need a keen intellect to hold that the rule relied upon by the respondent cannot be used as basis for the detention of complainant
since he is a counsel and not a material witness to a case.

Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court is likewise of no help to the respondent. It does not require the presence of the counsel during the
promulgation of a judgment, viz:

SEC. 6. Promulgation of judgment The judgment is promulgated by reading it in the presence of the accused and any judge of the court in which
it was rendered. However, if the conviction is for a light offense, the judgment may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or
representative. When the judge is absent or is outside the province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the clerk of court.

If the accused is confined or detained in another province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the executive judge of the Regional
Trial Court having jurisdiction over the place of confinement or detention upon the request of the court which rendered the judgment. The
court promulgating the judgment shall have authority to accept the notice of appeal and to prove the bail bond pending appeal; provided, that
if the decision of the trial court convicting the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for bail
can only be filed and resolved by the appellate court.

The proper clerk of court shall give notice to the accused personally or through his bondsman or warden and counsel, requiring him to be
present at the promulgation of the decision. If the accused was tried in absentia because he jumped bail or escaped from prison, the notice to
him shall be served at his last known address.

In case the accused fails to appear at the scheduled date of promulgation of judgment despite notice, the promulgation shall be made by
recording the judgment in the criminal docket and serving him a copy thereof at his last known address or thru his counsel.

If the judgment is for conviction and the failure of the accused to appear was without justifiable cause, he shall lose the remedies available in
these Rules against the judgment and the court shall order his arrest. Within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of the judgment, however, the
accused may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state the reasons for his absence at the
scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of these remedies within
fifteen (15) days from notice.

We hold that respondent violated Rule 3.04, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which states:

Rule 3.04. A judge should be patient, attentive, and courteous to lawyers, especially the inexperienced, to litigants, witnesses, and others
appearing before the court. A judge should avoid consciously falling into the attitude of mind that the litigants are made for the courts, instead
of the courts for the litigants.

It is plain that respondent was impatient and discourteous in dealing with complainant. Judges should respect all people appearing before their
courts, be they lawyers or litigants. Respondent ordered complainants arrest without according him the elementary right to challenge the
order. The violation of his right to due process cannot be denied. To be sure, complainant satisfactorily explained his absence in the November
18 scheduled promulgation. Before the promulgation, complainants secretary called respondents office to verify the schedule and was
informed that all hearings for the day were cancelled due to respondents confinement in the hospital. It is therefore inaccurate to contend that
complainant was absent twice, and he has to be arrested to prevent delay in the promulgation of the decision. The Office of the Court
Administrator correctly observed that the respondent should have followed the following procedure:

What respondent judge should have done under the circumstances obtaining at the time he issued the order of arrest of complainant was first
to issue an order directing him (Seludo), within a reasonable time, to show cause why he should not be punished for indirect contempt of court
and, reset the promulgation of the decision to some other time at the convenience of the court. If the explanation is not satisfactory to the
court, then and only then, that a penalty should be imposed upon the contemner.

It is likewise provided in A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC Re: Automatic Conversion of Some Administrative Cases Against Justices of the Court of Appeals
and the Sandiganbayan; Judges of Regular and Special Courts; and Court Officials Who are Lawyers as Disciplinary Proceedings Against Them
Both as Such Officials and as Members of the Philippine Bar, that administrative cases against judges of lower courts, who are likewise lawyers,
are based on grounds which are also grounds for disciplinary action of members of the Bar, among others, for violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

We consider respondent judge to have violated: (1) Rule 8.01, Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which prohibits the use of
inappropriate language:

Rule 8.01. A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper; and

(2) Rule 10.03, Can-on 10, which mandates the proper observance of the rules of procedure:

Rule 10.03 A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.

We are disappointed by respondents penchant for improper words when he called the complainant a fact fabricator, a congenital liar, an Indian
who fails to comply with his commitment and dim-witted. We had previously admonished respondent judge for using inappropriate language.
In Judge Antonio J. Fineza vs. Romeo P. Aruelo,[12] respondent judge filed a complaint against Aruelo, a Clerk of Court of another branch for
interfering with a case pending in his sala. He later withdrew his complaint on the ground that x x x the Supreme Court and the OCAD did not
take prompt action on (the) matter. It took for (sic) (them) two years and eight months without favorably giving due course to this
administrative case which was filed by this representation against the respondent. I am downgraded (sic) not to say I am saddened by the
inaction of the Supreme Court so I am withdrawing my complaint. He also added that (he is) already demoralized and (has) lost faith in the
system. In our decision, respondent judge was enjoined to be more circumspect in his language. He was likewise made to show cause why he
should not be administratively sanctioned for casting the Court and the Judiciary in bad light.

In his explanation, respondent claimed that he had no intention to speak ill against the Court or the Judiciary and attributed his intemperate
language to being human and having his own share of human frailties. Nonetheless, we admonished him to exercise prudence and restraint in
his language and sternly warned that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.[13]

In a more recent case decided by the Court En Banc, Lim vs. Judge Antonio J. Fineza,[14] respondent judge was also found guilty of gross
misconduct for failing to execute a judgment which had become final, and was fined P30,000.00, with a stern warning that a repetition of the
same act will be dealt with more severely.

We consider respondents act of ordering the detention of complainant without just cause as gross ignorance of the law or procedure, and the
improper use of words in his Comment as gross misconduct,[15] both under Section 8, Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, [16] as amended,
viz:

Sec. 8. Serious charges Serious charges include:

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3. Gross misconduct constituting violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct;

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9. Gross ignorance of the law or procedure;

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Section 11 of the same Rule, provides the following penalty, viz:

SEC. 11. Sanctions A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious charge, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:

1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or
appointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations. Provided, however, that the forfeiture of benefits
shall in no case include accrued leave credits;

2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or

3. A fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.

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IN VIEW WHEREOF, we find respondent judge guilty of gross ignorance of procedure and impose on him a fine of P40,000.00, and gross
misconduct and impose on him a fine of P40,000.00, considering his repetition of the offense.

SO ORDERED.
Judge Rene B. Baculi, Complainant, vs. Atty. Melchor A. Battung, Respondent

Supreme Court Second Division

A.C. No. 8920, September 28, 2011

Facts:

Judge Baculi, Presiding Judge of Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 2, Tuguegarao City, filed a complaint for disbarment
against Atty. Battung. He claimed that on July 24, 2008, during the hearing on the motion for reconsideration of Civil Case No.
2502, the respondent was shouting while arguing his motion. Judge Baculi advised him to tone down his voice but instead, the
respondent shouted at the top of his voice. When warned that he would be cited for direct contempt, the respondent shouted,
“Then cite me!”Judge Baculi cited him for direct contempt and imposed a fine of P100.00. The respondent then left

While other cases were being heard, the respondent re-entered the courtroom and shouted, “Judge, I will file gross ignorance
against you! I am not afraid of you!” Judge Baculi ocited him for direct contempt of court for the second time.

After his hearings, respondent again shouted in a threatening tone, “Judge, I will file gross ignorance against you! I am not
afraid of you!” He kept on shouting, “I am not afraid of you!” and challenged the judge to a fight. Staff and lawyers escorted
him out of the building.

Judge Baculi later found out that after the respondent left the courtroom, Atty. Battung continued shouting and punched a
table at the Office of the Clerk of Court.

Issue:

Did Atty. Battung violate Cannons 11 and 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility?

Ruling:

IBP Commissioner found that the respondent failed to observe Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility that
requires a lawyer to observe and maintain respect due the courts and judicial officers. The respondent also violated Rule 11.03
of Canon 11 that provides that a lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the
courts. The respondent’s argument that Judge Baculi provoked him to shout should not be given due consideration since the
respondent should not have shouted at the presiding judge; by doing so, he created the impression that disrespect of a judge
could be tolerated. De la Rama recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months.

The Supreme Court held that litigants and counsels, particularly the latter because of their position and avowed duty to the
courts, cannot be allowed to publicly ridicule, demean and disrespect a judge, and the court that he represents.

A lawyer who insults a judge inside a courtroom completely disregards the latter’s role, stature and position in our justice
system. When the respondent publicly berated and brazenly threatened Judge Baculi that he would file a case for gross
ignorance of the law against the latter, the respondent effectively acted in a manner tending to erode the public confidence in
Judge Baculi’s competence and in his ability to decide cases. Incompetence is a matter that, even if true, must be handled with
sensitivity in the manner provided under the Rules of Court; an objecting or complaining lawyer cannot act in a manner that
puts the courts in a bad light and bring the justice system into disrepute.

Atty. Battung was ordered suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year with a warning that a repetition of a similar
offense shall be dealt with more severely.
ROXAS V. DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR

Facts:

The Zuzuarreguis engaged the legal services of Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and Santiago N. Pastor, to represent them in
the case. This was sealed by a Letter-Agreement, wherein it was contained that the attorneys would endeavor to
secure just compensation with the NHA and other government agencies at a price of 11pesos or more per square
meter, and that any lower amount shall not entitle them to any atty’s fees. They also stipulated that in the event
they get it for 11pesos per square meter, their contingent fee shall be 30% of the just compensation. They also
stipulated that their lawyer’s fees shall be in proportion to the cash/bonds ratio of the just compensation.

A Compromise Agreement was executed between the Zuzuarreguis and the NHA. The Compromise Agreement,
stipulated among other things, that the just compensation of the Zuzuarregui properties would be at P19.50 per
square meter payable in NHA Bonds. In a Decision dated 20 December 1985, the RTC, approved the Compromise
Agreement submitted by the parties.

The total amount in NHA bonds released to Atty. Romeo G. Roxas in behalf of the Zuzuarreguis amounted to
P54,500,000.00. Out of this amount, the records show that the amount turned over to the Zuzuarreguis by Atty.
Roxas amounted to P30,520,000.00 (representing the actual just compensation, although this amount is bigger) in
NHA bonds.

Computed at P19.50 per square meter, the 1,790,570.36 square meters property of the Zuzuarreguis was
expropriated at a total price of P34,916,122.00. The total amount released by the NHA was P54,500,000.00. The
difference of P19,583,878.00 is, undoubtedly, the yield on the bonds.

On 25 August 1987, a letter was sent by the Zuzuarreguis’ new counsel, Jose F. Gonzalez, to Attys. Roxas and
Pastor, demanding that the latter deliver to the Zuzuarreguis the yield corresponding to bonds paid by the NHA
within a period of 10 days from receipt, under pain of administrative, civil and/or criminal action.

Issue:

The honorable court of appeals gravely erred on a question of law in holding that the letter-agreement re:
contingent fees cannot be allowed to stand as the law between the parties

Held:

A contract is a meeting of the minds between two persons whereby one binds himself, with respect to the other,
to give something or to render some service. Contracts shall be obligatory, in whatever form they may have been
entered into, provided all the essential requisites for their validity are present. The Zuzuarreguis, in entering into
the Letter-Agreement, fully gave their consent thereto. In fact, it was them (the Zuzuarreguis) who sent the said
letter to Attys. Roxas and Pastor, for the purpose of confirming all the matters which they had agreed upon
previously. There is absolutely no evidence to show that anybody was forced into entering into the Letter-
Agreement. Verily, its existence, due execution and contents were admitted by the Zuzuarreguis themselves.

In the presence of a contract for professional services duly executed by the parties thereto, the same becomes the
law between the said parties is not absolute but admits an exception – that the stipulations therein are not
contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy or public order.

Under the contract in question, Attys. Roxas and Pastor are to receive contingent fees for their professional
services. It is a deeply-rooted rule that contingent fees are not per se prohibited by law. They are sanctioned by
Canon 13 of the Canons of Professional Ethics.
A contract for contingent fee, where sanctioned by law, should be reasonable under all the circumstances of the
case including the risk and uncertainty of the compensation, but should always be subject to the supervision of a
court, as to its reasonableness.

Indubitably entwined with the lawyer’s duty to charge only reasonable fees is the power of this Court to reduce
the amount of attorney’s fees if the same is excessive and unconscionable.

Attorney’s fees are unconscionable if they affront one’s sense of justice, decency or reasonableness. It becomes
axiomatic therefore, that power to determine the reasonableness or the, unconscionable character of attorney's
fees stipulated by the parties is a matter falling within the regulatory prerogative of the courts.

In the instant case, Attys. Roxas and Pastor received an amount which was equal to forty-four percent (44%) of the
just compensation paid (including the yield on the bonds) by the NHA to the Zuzuarreguis, or an amount
equivalent to P23,980,000.00 of the P54,500,000.00. Considering that there was no full blown hearing in the
expropriation case, ending as it did in a Compromise Agreement, the 44% is, undeniably, unconscionable and
excessive under the circumstances. Its reduction is, therefore, in order.

It is imperative that the contingent fees received by Attys. Roxas and Pastor must be equitably reduced. In the
opinion of this Court, the yield that corresponds to the percentage share of the Zuzuarreguis in the P19.50 per
square meter just compensation paid by the NHA must be returned by Attys. Roxas and Pastor.

The yield on the NHA bonds amounted to P19,583,878.00. This amount must therefore be divided between the
Zuzuarreguis, on the one hand, and Attys. Roxas and Pastor, on the other. The division must be pro rata. Attys.
Roxas and Pastor, in the opinion of this Court, were not shortchanged for their efforts for they would still be
earning or actually earned attorney’s fees in the amount of P6,987,078.75

On the issue of moral and exemplary damages, we cannot award the same for there was no direct showing of bad
faith on the part of Attys. Roxas and Pastor, for as we said earlier, contingency fees are not per se prohibited by
law. It is only necessary that it be reduced when excessive and unconscionable, which we have already done.
SUSPENSION OF ATTY. BAGABUYO

FACTS

Administrative case stemmed from the events of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 5144: People v. Luis Plaza.
Plaza was accused of murdering a policeman.

Criminal case was originally raffled to the sala of Judge Buyser. Buyser denied the Demurrer to the Evidence of the
accused, declaring that evidence presented was sufficient to prove the crime of homicide but not murder.

Counsel for Plaza filed a Motion to Fix Amount of Bail, but Senior State Prosecutor Bagabuyo (who was in charge of
the case) objected thereto on the ground that the original charge of murder was not subject to bail (Rules of
Court).

Judge Buyser inhibited himself from trying the case because of the “harsh insinuation” of Bagabuyo that he “lacks
the cold neutrality of an impartial magistrate” by allegedly suggesting the filing of the motion to fix the amount of
bail.

Case was transferred to Judge Tan, who fixed the amount of bail at P40k.

Instead of availing of judicial remediess, Bagabuyo caused the publication of an article regarding the Order
granting the bail in the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, “Senior prosecutor lambasts Surigao judge for allowing murder
suspect to bail out.”

In the article, Bagabuyo argued that the crime of murder is non-bailable, but admitted that a judge could still opt
to allow a murder suspect to bail out in cases when the evidence of the prosecution is weak. He claims that the
former judge found the evidence to be strong. He stated that he was not afraid to be cited for contempt because
it was the only way for the public to know that there are judges displaying judicial arrogance.

RTC directed Bagabuyo (and the writer of the article) to explain why he should not be cited for indirect contempt
of court for the publication of the article which degraded the court with its presiding judge with its lies and
misrepresentations.

Bagabuyo refused to explain and the RTC held him in contempt of court, sentencing him to 30 days in jail (he
posted a bail bond and was released).

Despite this, Bagabuyo presented himself to the media for interviews in Radio Station DXKS and again, attacked
the integrity of Judge Tan.

In the radio interview, Bagabuyo called Judge Tan a liar, ignorant of the law and that as a mahjong aficionado, he
was studying mahjong instead of studying the law.

RTC required Bagabuyo to explain and show cause why he should not be held in contempt and be suspended from
the practice of law for violating the Code of Professional Responsibility (Rule 11.05 and Rule 13.02).

Bagabuyo denied the charge that he sought to be interviewed. He said that he was approached by someone who
asked him to comment on the Order. He justified his response to the interview (at the instance of his friend) as a
simple exercise of his constitutional right of freedom of speech and that it was made without malice.

RTC found his denials lame, held him in contempt, and suspended him from the practice of law for 1 year. In
accordance with the Rules of Court, the case was transmitted to the Office of the Bar Confidant, which
recommended the implementation of the RTC’s order of suspension.
ISSUE

W/N Bagabuyo should be held in contempt and suspended for violating Rule 11.05, Canon 11 and Rule 13.02 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility – YES

HELD

Canon 11 mandates a lawyer to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers.

Bagabuyo violated Canon 11 when he indirectly stated that Judge Tan was displaying judicial arrogance in the
published article and when he stated that Judge Tan was ignorant of the law and that as a mahjong aficionado, he
was studying mahjong instead of the law.

Rule 11.05 states that a lawyer shall submit grievances against a judge to the proper authorities.

Bagabuyo violated Rule 11.05 when he caused the holding of a press conference and submitted to a radio
interview to air out his grievances against Judge Tan.

Rule 13.02 states that a lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to
arouse public opinion for or against a party.

Bagabuyo violated Rule 13.02 when he made statements in the article, which were made while Criminal Case No.
5144 was still pending in court.

A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath, a patent disregard of his duties, or an odious
deportment unbecoming of an attorney
Santiago vs. Rafanan, 440 SCRA 91 , October 05, 2004

Attorneys; Notarial Law; Duties; The Notarial Law is explicit on the obligations and duties of notaries public.—The Notarial Law
is explicit on the obligations and duties of notaries public. They are required to certify that the party to every document
acknowledged before them has presented the proper residence certificate (or exemption from the residence tax); and to enter its
number, place of issue and date as part of such certification. They are also required to maintain and keep a notarial register; to
enter therein all instruments notarized by them; and to “give to each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before
[them] a number corresponding to the one in [their] register [and to state therein] the page or pages of [their] register, on which
the same is recorded.” Failure to perform these duties would result in the revocation of their commission as notaries public.

Same; Same; Notary Public; Notaries public entering into their commissions are presumed to be aware of the elementary
requirements.—The formalities are mandatory and cannot be simply neglected, considering the degree of importance and
evidentiary weight attached to notarized documents. Notaries public entering into their commissions are presumed to be
aware of these elementary requirements.

Same; Same; Same; Notarization; A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face.—The importance
attached to the act of notarization cannot be overemphasized. 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 agencies and the public at large must be able to rely upon the acknowledgment executed by a notary public and
appended to a private instrument.”

Same; Same; Same; Where notaries public are lawyers, a graver responsibility is placed upon them by reason of their solemn
oath to obey the laws.—It must be emphasized that the primary duty of lawyers is to obey the laws of the land and promote
respect for the law and legal processes. They are expected to be in the forefront in the observance and maintenance of the rule
of law. This duty carries with it the obligation to be well-informed of the existing laws and to keep abreast with legal
developments, recent enactments and jurisprudence. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles. Unless
they faithfully comply with such duty, they may not be able to discharge competently and diligently their obligations as
members of the bar. Worse, they may become susceptible to committing mistakes. Where notaries public are lawyers, a graver
responsibility is placed upon them by reason of their solemn oath to obey the laws. No custom or age-old practice provides
sufficient excuse or justification for their failure to adhere to the provisions of the law. In this case, the excuse given by
respondent exhibited his clear ignorance of the Notarial Law, the Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the importance of his office
as a notary public.

Same; Duties; Integrity; Acting or appearing to act in the double capacity of lawyer and witness for the client will provoke
unkind criticism and leave many people to suspect the truthfulness of the lawyer because they cannot believe the lawyer as
disinterested.—“Acting or appearing to act in the double capacity of lawyer and witness for the client will provoke unkind
criticism and leave many people to suspect the truthfulness of the lawyer because they cannot believe the lawyer as
disinterested. The people will have a plausible reason for thinking, and if their sympathies are against the lawyer’s client, they
will have an opportunity, not likely to be neglected, for charging, that as a witness he fortified it with his own testimony. The
testimony of the lawyer becomes doubted and is looked upon as partial and untruthful.” Thus, although the law does not forbid
lawyers from being witnesses and at the same time counsels for a cause, the preference is for them to refrain from testifying as
witnesses, unless they absolutely have to; and should they do so, to withdraw from active management of the case.
FOODSPHERE V. MAURICIO

FACTS

Foodsphere, Inc. is the owner of CDO grocery products. One day, a Mr. Cordero bought canned goods from a
grocery store, one of them being a CDO liver spread canned good. When Mr. Cordero and his family ate the liver
spread, they found that it tasted sour and subsequently discovered that the canned good was infested with a
colony of worms. A complaint was filed with the Bureau of Food and Drug Administration (BFAD) and a subsequent
investigation confirmed the presence of the parasites. BFAD ordered a hearing between Foodsphere and the
Corderos, where the latter demanded P150k. Foodsphere refused, resulting to the Corderos threatening to bring
up the matter to the media.

Meanwhile, Atty Mauricio faxed Foodsphere a sample front page of a tabloid he was involved with, which
contained articles discrediting the latter, and threatened to publish it if they didn’t pay the amount the Corderos
wanted. Foodsphere refused as well. Atty Mauricio thus proposed a ‘Kasunduan’ between the two, where
Foodsphere agreed to settle the matter for a lower amount, but added that Foodsphere advertise in Mauricio’s
tabloids and tv shows, in exchange for the withdrawal of the complaint. The Corderos withdrew their complaint
and BFAD dismissed the complaint against Foodsphere.

Mauricio then sent Foodsphere an ‘Advertising Contract’ asking the latter advertisements of various media (which
were a lot…and expensive!) owned by Mauricio. As a sign of goodwill, Foodsphere offered to patronize some
advertisements only. Mauricio was disappointed with this and threatened to proceed with the publications. And a
few weeks later, Mauricio, in his radio talk show (Batas ng Bayan) held a guessing contest with questions that
asked which company had worms in its liver spread. He also wrote in his columns and aired in his tv shows about
the same topic.

Foodsphere filed criminal and civil complaints against Mauricio about the discrediting remarks that he has been
making against the company. Foodsphere also filed the present administrative complaint against Mauricio to the
IBP, where he was ordered not to make any more statements on the matter. Notwithstanding the pending cases
against him, Mauricio continued to publish articles against Foodsphere and discredit them in his tv shows. Because
of this, the IBP ordered that Mauricio be suspended for 2 years. Mauricio now challenges the validity of the
suspension.

ISSUE/S

W/N Mauricio’s suspension was valid.

HELD

YES! Mauricio suspended for 3 years.

Continued Attacks Despite Pending Cases = Violation Of Rule 13.02

Despite the pendency of the case against Mauricio, and IBP’s orders that he discontinue with his actions, he still
continued with his attacks against Foodsphere and its products. This is a clear and conscious violation the Code of
Professional Responsibility which is an improper conduct of a member of the bar.

NOTE: The power of the media to form or influence public opinion cannot be underestimated
Adm. Case No. 8108 July 15, 2014

DANTE LA JIMENEZ & LAURO G. VIZCONDE, Complainants, vs. ATTY. FELISBERTO L. VERANO, JR., Respondent.

Before this Court is the Resolution1 of the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) finding respondent
Atty. Felisberto Verano liable for improper and inappropriate conduct tending to influence and/or giving the appearance of
influence upon a public official. The Joint Report and Recommendation submitted by Commissioner Felimon C. Abelita III
recommended that respondent beissued a warning not to repeat the same nor any similar action, otherwise the Commission
will impose a more severe penalty. The Commission adopted the said ruling on 16 April 2013.2

The complainants in Administrative Case (A.C.) No. 8108 are Dante La Jimenez and Lauro G. Vizconde, while complainant in
Adm. Case No. 10299 is Atty. Oliver O. Lozano. At the time of the filing of the complaints, respondent Atty. Verano was
representing his clients Richard S. Brodett and Joseph R. Tecson.

FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS

Brodett and Tecson (identified in media reports attached to the Complaint as the "Alabang Boys") werethe accused in cases
filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for the illegal sale and use of dangerous drugs.3 In a Joint Inquest
Resolution issued on 2 December 2008, the charges were dropped for lack of probable cause.4

Because of the failure of Prosecutor John R. Resado to ask clarificatory questions during the evaluation of the case, several
media outlets reported on incidents of bribery and "cover-up" allegedly prevalent in investigations of the drug trade.This
prompted the House Committee on Illegal Drugs to conduct its own congressional hearings. It was revealed during one such
hearing that respondenthad prepared the release order for his three clients using the letterhead ofthe Department of Justice
(DOJ) and the stationery of then Secretary Raul Gonzales.5

Jimenez and Vizconde, in their capacity as founders of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), sent a letter of
complaint to Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno. They stated that respondent had admitted to drafting the release order, and had
thereby committed a highly irregular and unethical act. They argued that respondent had no authority to use the DOJ
letterhead and should be penalized for acts unbecoming a member of the bar.6

For his part, Atty. Lozano anchoredhis Complaint on respondent’s alleged violation of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which states that a lawyer shall upholdthe Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respectfor legal
processes.7 Atty. Lozano contended that respondent showed disrespect for the law and legal processes in drafting the said
order and sending it to a high-ranking public official, even though the latter was not a government prosecutor.8 Atty. Lozano’s
verified ComplaintAffidavit was filed with the Committee on Bar Discipline of the IBP and docketed as CBD Case No. 09-2356.9

Officers of the IBP, Cebu CityChapter, issued a Resolution condemning the unethical conduct of respondent and showing
unqualified support for the VACC’s filing of disbarment proceedings.10 On 27 February 2009, Atty. Lozano withdrew his
Complaint on the ground that a similar action had been filed by Dante Jimenez.11 On 2 June 2009, the Court referred both
cases to the IBP for consolidation, as well as for investigation, report and recommendation. RESPONDENT’S VERSION

In his Comment, respondent alludes to the Joint Inquest Resolution dropping the charges against his clients for lack of probable
cause, arguing that the resolution also ordered the immediate release of Brodett and Tecson. He reasoned that the high hopes
of the accused, together with their families, came crashing down when the PDEA still refused to release his clients.12 Sheer
faith in the innocence of his clients and fidelity to their cause prompted him to prepare and draft the release order. Respondent
admits that perhaps he was overzealous; yet, "if the Secretary of Justice approves it, then everything may be expedited."13 In
any case, respondent continues, the drafted release order was not signed by the Secretary and therefore remained "a mere
scrap of paper with no effect at all."14

FINDINGS OF THE INVESTIGATING COMMISSIONER

The Commissioner noted that both complaints remained unsubstantiated, while the letter-complaint of Jimenez and Vizconde
had not been verified. Therefore, no evidence was adduced to prove the charges.

However, by his own admissions inparagraphs 11 and 12 of his Comment, respondent drafted the release order specifically for
the signature of the DOJ Secretary. This act of "feeding" the draft order to the latter was found to be highly irregular, as it
tended to influence a public official. Hence, Commissioner Abelita found respondent guilty of violating Canon 13 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and recommended that he be issued a warning not to repeat the same or any similar action.15

RULING OF THE COURT

We emphasize at the outset thatthe Court may conduct its own investigation into charges against members of the bar,
irrespective of the form of initiatory complaints brought before it. Thus, a complainant in a disbarment case is not a direct party
to the case, but a witness who brought the matter to the attention of the Court.16 By now, it is basic that there is neither a
plaintiff nor a prosecutor in disciplinary proceedings against lawyers. The real question for determination in these proceedings
is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges of a member of the bar.17

As to Atty. Lozano’s withdrawal of his verified Complaint, we reiterate our ruling in Rayos-Ombac v. Rayos:

The affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case allegedly executed by complainant does not, in any way, exonerate the
respondent. A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or lack of interest of the complainant. What
matters is whether, on the basis of the facts borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has
been duly proven x x x. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the attorney's alleged
misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the
proper administration of justice.Hence, if the evidence on record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or disbarred
despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the charges.18 (Emphasis supplied)

After a careful review of the records,we agree with the IBP in finding reasonable grounds to hold respondent administratively
liable. Canon 13, the provision applied by the Investigating Commissioner, states that "a lawyer shall rely upon the merits of his
cause and refrain from any impropriety which tends to influence, or gives the appearance of influencing the court." We believe
that other provisions in the Code of Professional Responsibility likewise prohibit acts of influence-peddling not limited to the
regular courts, but even in all other venues in the justice sector, where respect for the rule of law is at all times demanded from
a member of the bar.

During the mandatory hearing conducted by the Committee on Bar Discipline, respondent stated that the PDEA refused to
release his clients unless it received a direct order from the DOJ Secretary. This refusal purportedly impelled him to take more
serious action, viz.:

ATTY VERANO: x x x By Monday December 22 I think my only recourse was to see the Secretary himself personally. The
Secretary is the type of a person who opens his [sic] kasihe is very political also so he opens his office. If I’m not mistaken that
day because of the timing we will afraid [sic] that Christmas time is coming and that baka nga sila maipit sa loob ng Christmas
time. So the family was very sad x x x kung pwede ko raw gawan ng paraan na total na-dismissed na ang kaso. So, what I did
was thinking as a lawyer now…I prepared the staff to make it easy, to make it convenient for signing authority that if he agrees
with our appeal he will just sign it and send it over to PDEA. So hinanda ko ho yon. And then I sent it first to the Office of the
other Secretary si Blancaflor.

xxxx

So I think it’s a Tuesday I had to do something and I said I will see the Secretary first with the parents of Rodette, yong nanay at
saka tatay, so we went to see him after 1:00 o’clock or 1:30 in the afternoon. By then, that draft was still with Blancaflor. Andon
ho ang Secretary tinanggap naman kami, so we sat down with him x x x Pinaliwanag ho namin inexplain x x x Anyway, sabi niya
what can I do if I move on this, they will think that kasama rin ako dyan sa Fifty Million na yan. Sabi ko, Your Honor, wala akong
Fifty Million, hindi naman ho milyonaryo ang mga pamilyang ito. So, sabi ko pwede ho bang maki-usap…sabi niya okay I will see
what I can do. I will study the matter, those particular words, I will study the matter. Tumuloy pa ho ang kwentuhan, as a
matter of fact, 2 oras ho kami ron eh. They were not pushing us away, he was entertaining us, and we were discussing the
case.19

Respondent likewise stated that his "experience with Secretary Gonzales is, he is very open;" and that "because of my practice
and well, candidly I belong also to a political family, my father was a Congressman. So, he (Gonzalez) knows of the family and he
knows my sister was a Congresswoman of Pasay and they weretogether in Congress. In other words, I am not a complete
stranger to him."20 Upon questioning by Commissioner Rico A. Limpingco, respondent admitted that he was personally
acquainted with the Secretary; however, they were not that close.21
These statements and others made during the hearing establish respondent’s admission that 1) he personally approached the
DOJ Secretary despite the fact that the case was still pending before the latter; and 2) respondent caused the preparation of
the draft release order on official DOJ stationery despite being unauthorized to do so, with the end in view of "expediting the
case."

The way respondent conducted himself manifested a clear intent to gain special treatment and consideration from a
government agency. This is precisely the type of improper behavior sought to be regulated by the codified norms for the bar.
Respondentis duty-bound to actively avoid any act that tends to influence, or may be seen to influence, the outcome of an
ongoing case, lest the people’s faith inthe judicial process is diluted.

The primary duty of lawyers is not to their clients but to the administration of justice.1âwphi1 To that end, their clients’ success
is wholly subordinate. The conduct of a member of the bar ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of the law and
ethics. Any means, not honorable, fair and honest which is resorted to bythe lawyer, even inthe pursuit of his devotion to his
client’s cause, is condemnable and unethical.22

Rule 1.02 states: "A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the
legal system." Further, according to Rule 15.06, "a lawyershall not state or imply that he is able to influence any public official,
tribunal or legislative body." The succeeding rule, Rule 15.07, mandates a lawyer "to impress upon his client compliance with
the laws and the principles of fairness."

Zeal and persistence in advancing a client’s cause must always be within the bounds of the law.23 A self-respecting
independence in the exercise of the profession is expected if an attorney is to remain a member of the bar. In the present case,
we find that respondent fell short of these exacting standards. Given the import of the case, a warning is a mere slap on the
wrist that would not serve as commensurate penalty for the offense.

In Sylvia Santos vs. Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya- Chua, the Court saw fit to impose a six-month suspension against a judge who
likewise committed acts of influence peddling whenshe solicited ₱100,000.00 from complainant Santos when the latter asked
for her help in the case of her friend Emerita Muñoz, who had a pendingcase with the Supreme Court, because respondent
judge was a former court attorney of the high court.24 We find that the same penalty is appropriate in the present case.

WHEREFORE,in view of the foregoing, Atty. Felisberto L. Verano, Jr. is found GUILTYof violating Rules 1.02 and 15.07, in relation
to Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, for which he is SUSPENDEDfrom the practice of law for six (6) months
effective immediately. This also serves as an emphaticWARNING that repetition of any similar offense shall be dealt with more
severely.

Let copies of this Decision be appended to the respondent’s bar records. The Court Administrator is hereby directed to inform
the different courts of this suspension.

SO ORDERED.
WILLIAM S. UY vs. ATTY. FERMIN L. GONZALES

A.C. No. 5280 : March 30, 2004

FACTS:

Complainant engaged the services of respondent lawyer to prepare and file a petition for the issuance of a new certificate of title. After
confiding with respondent the circumstances surrounding the lost title and discussing the fees and costs, respondent prepared, finalized and
submitted to him a petition to be filed before the Regional Trial Court.

When the petition was about to be filed, respondent went to complainant’s office demanding a certain amount other than what was previously
agreed upon. Respondent left his office after reasoning with him. Expecting that said petition would be filed, he was shocked to find out later
that instead of filing the petition for the issuance of a new certificate of title, respondent filed a letter-complaint against him with the Office of
the Provincial Prosecutor for Falsification of Public Documents. The letter-complaint contained facts and circumstances pertaining to the
transfer certificate of title that was the subject matter of the petition which respondent was supposed to have filed.

Respondent claims that he gave complainant a handwritten letter telling complainant that he is withdrawing the petition he prepared and that
complainant should get another lawyer to file the petition thereby terminating the lawyer-client relationship between him and complainant;
that there was no longer any professional relationship between the two of them when he filed the letter-complaint for falsification of public
document; that the facts and allegations contained in the letter-complaint for falsification were culled from public documents procured from
the Office of the Register of Deeds.

The IBP found him guilty of violating Rule 21.02, Canon 21 of the Canons of Professional Responsibility and recommended for his suspension for
6 months.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent violated Canon 21 of the CPR?

HELD:

No. Evidently, the facts alleged in the complaint for Estafa Through Falsification of Public Documents filed by respondent against complainant
were obtained by respondent due to his personal dealings with complainant. Respondent volunteered his service to hasten the issuance of the
certificate of title of the land he has redeemed from complainant. Clearly, there was no attorney-client relationship between respondent and
complainant. The preparation and the proposed filing of the petition was only incidental to their personal transaction.

Whatever facts alleged by respondent against complainant were not obtained by respondent in his professional capacity but as a redemptioner
of a property originally owned by his deceased son and therefore, when respondent filed the complaint for estafa against herein complainant,
which necessarily involved alleging facts that would constitute estafa, respondent was not, in any way, violating Canon 21. There is no way we
can equate the filing of the affidavit-complaint against herein complainant to a misconduct that is wanting in moral character, in honesty,
probity and good demeanor or that renders him unworthy to continue as an officer of the court. To hold otherwise would be precluding any
lawyer from instituting a case against anyone to protect his personal or proprietary interests.

PETITION DISMISSED for lack of merit.


REGALA V. SANDIGANBAYAN

FACTS:

The Republic of the Philippines instituted a Complaint before the Sandiganbayan (SB), through the Presidential Commission on Good Gov’t (PCGG)
against Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr., as one of the principal defendants, for the recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth, which includes shares of stocks in the
named corps. in PCGG Case No. 33 (CC No. 0033) entitled "RP vs. Eduardo Cojuangco, et al."

Among the defendants named in the case are herein petitioners and herein private respondent Raul S. Roco, who all were then partners of the law firm
Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz (ACCRA) Law Offices. ACCRA Law Firm performed legal services for its clients and in the performance of
these services, the members of the law firm delivered to its client documents which substantiate the client's equity holdings.

In the course of their dealings with their clients, the members of the law firm acquire information relative to the assets of clients as well as their personal
and business circumstances. As members of the ACCRA Law Firm, petitioners and private respondent Raul Roco admit that they assisted in the
organization and acquisition of the companies included in CC No. 0033, and in keeping with the office practice, ACCRA lawyers acted as nominees-
stockholders of the said corporations involved in sequestration proceedings.

PCGG filed a "Motion to Admit 3rd Amended Complaint" & "3rd Amended Complaint" w/c excluded Roco from the complaint in PCGG Case No. 33 as
partydefendant, Roco having promised he’ll reveal the identity of the principal/s for whom he acted as nominee/stockholder in the companies involved
in PCGG Case # 33.

Petitioners were included in 3rd Amended Complaint for having plotted, devised, schemed, conspired & confederated w/each other in setting up,
through the use of coconut levy funds, the financial & corporate framework & structures that led to establishment of UCPB, UNICOM, COCOLIFE,
COCOMARK, CIC, & more than 20 other coconut levy funded corps, including the acquisition of San Miguel Corp. shares & its institutionalization through
presidential directives of the coconut monopoly. Through insidious means & machinations, ACCRA Investments Corp., became the holder of roughly
3.3% of the total outstanding capital stock of UCPB.

In their answer to the Expanded Amended Complaint, petitioners alleged that their participation in the acts w/ w/c their co-defendants are charged, was
in furtherance of legitimate lawyering

Petitioner Paraja Hayudini, who had separated from ACCRA law firm, filed a separate answer denying the allegations in the complaint implicating him in
the alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Petitioners then filed their "Comment &/or Opposition" w/ Counter-Motion that PCGG exclude them as parties-defendants like Roco. PCGG set the ff.
precedent for the exclusion of petitioners:

(a) the disclosure of the identity of its clients;

(b) submission of documents substantiating the lawyer-client relationship; and

(c) the submission of the deeds of assignments petitioners executed in favor of its clients covering their respective shareholdings.

Consequently, PCGG presented supposed proof to substantiate compliance by Roco of the same conditions precedent. However, during said
proceedings, Roco didn’t refute petitioners' contention that he did actually not reveal the identity of the client involved in PCGG Case No. 33, nor had he
undertaken to reveal the identity of the client for whom he acted as nominee-stockholder.

In a Resolution, SB denied the exclusion of petitioners, for their refusal to comply w/ the conditions required by PCGG. It held, “ACCRA lawyers cannot
excuse themselves from the consequences of their acts until they have begun to establish the basis for recognizing the privilege; the existence and
identity of the client.”

ACCRA lawyers filed MFR w/c was denied. Hence, ACCRA lawyers filed the petition for certiorari. Petitioner Hayudini, likewise, filed his own MFR w/c was
also denied thus, he filed a separate petition for certiorari, assailing SB’s resolution on essentially same grounds averred by petitioners, namely:

SB gravely abused its discretion in subjecting petitioners to the strict application of the law of agency.

SB gravely abused its discretion in not considering petitioners & Roco similarly situated &, thus, deserving equal treatment

SB gravely abused its discretion in not holding that, under the facts of this case, the attorney-client privilege prohibits petitioners from revealing the
identity of their client(s) and the other information requested by the PCGG.

SB gravely abused its discretion in not requiring that dropping of partydefendants be based on reasonable & just grounds, w/ due consideration to
constitutional rts of petitioners

PCGG, through its counsel, refutes petitioners' contention, alleging that the revelation of the identity of the client is not w/in the ambit of the lawyer-
client confidentiality privilege, nor are the documents it required (deeds of assignment) protected, because they are evidence of nominee status.
RULING (pulled out only the pertinent sections ):

WON ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE PROHIBITS PETITIONERS FROM REVEALING THE IDENTITY OF THEIR CLIENT(S) & THE OTHER INFORMATION
REQUESTED BY THE PCGG

YES. Nature of lawyer-client relationship is premised on the Roman Law concepts of locatio conductio operarum (contract of lease of services) where one
person lets his services and another hires them without reference to the object of which the services are to be performed, wherein lawyers' services may
be compensated by honorarium or for hire, and mandato (contract of agency) wherein a friend on whom reliance could be placed makes a contract in his
name, but gives up all that he gained by the contract to the person who requested him. But the lawyer-client relationship is more than that of the
principal-agent and lessor-lessee

An attorney is more than a mere agent or servant, because he possesses special powers of trust and confidence reposed on him by his client. An attorney
occupies a "quasi-judicial office" since he is in fact an officer of the Court & exercises his judgment in the choice of courses of action to be taken favorable
to his client.

Thus, in the creation of lawyer-client relationship, there are rules, ethical conduct and duties that breathe life into it, among those, the fiduciary duty to
his client which is of a very delicate, exacting and confidential character, requiring a very high degree of fidelity and good faith, that is required by reason
of necessity and public interest based on the hypothesis that abstinence from seeking legal advice in a good cause is an evil which is fatal to the
administration of justice.

Attorney-client privilege, is worded in Rules of Court, Rule 130:

Sec. 24. Disqualification by reason of privileged communication. The following persons cannot testify as to matters learned in confidence in the following
cases: xxx An attorney cannot, without the consent of his client, be examined as to any communication made by the client to him, or his advice given
thereon in the course of, or with a view to, professional employment, can an attorney's secretary, stenographer, or clerk be examined, without the
consent of the client and his employer, concerning any fact the knowledge of which has been acquired in such capacity.

Further, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states: Sec. 20. It is the duty of an attorney: (e) to maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself,
to preserve the secrets of his client, and to accept no compensation in connection with his client's business except from him or with his knowledge and
approval.

This duty is explicitly mandated in Canon 17, CPR (“A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed in him.”) Canon 15, CPE also demands a lawyer's fidelity to client.

An effective lawyer-client relationship is largely dependent upon the degree of confidence which exists between lawyer and client which in turn requires
a situation which encourages a dynamic and fruitful exchange and flow of information. Thus, the Court held that this duty may be asserted in refusing to
disclose the name of petitioners' client(s) in the case at bar.

The general rule is that a lawyer may not invoke the privilege and refuse to divulge the name or identity of his client.

Reasons advanced for the general rule:

• Court has a right to know that the client whose privileged information is sought to be protected is flesh and blood.

• Privilege begins to exist only after the attorney-client relationship has been established.

• Privilege generally pertains to subject matter of relationship

• Due process considerations require that the opposing party should, as a general rule, know his adversary.

Exceptions to the gen. rule:

Client identity is privileged where a strong probability exists that revealing the client's name would implicate that client in the very activity for which he
sought the lawyer's advice.

Ex-Parte Enzor and U.S. v. Hodge and Zweig: The subject matter of the relationship was so closely related to the issue of the client's identity that the
privilege actually attached to both.

Where disclosure would open the client to civil liability, his identity is privileged.
Neugass v. Terminal Cab Corp.: couldn’t reveal name of his client as this would expose the latter to civil litigation.

Matter of Shawmut Mining Company: “We feel sure that under such conditions no case has ever gone to the length of compelling an attorney, at the
instance of a hostile litigant, to disclose not only his retainer, but the nature of the transactions to w/c it related, when such information could be made
the basis of a suit against his client.”

Where the government's lawyers have no case against an attorney's client unless, by revealing the client's name, the said name would furnish the only
link that would form the chain of testimony necessary to convict an individual of a crime, the client's name is privileged.

Baird vs. Korner: a lawyer could not be forced to reveal the names of clients who employed him to pay sums of money to gov’t voluntarily in settlement
of undetermined income taxes, unsued on, & w/ no gov’t audit or investigation into that client's income tax liability pending

Apart from these principal exceptions, there exist other situations which could qualify as exceptions to the general rule:

• if the content of any client communication to a lawyer is relevant to the subject matter of the legal problem on which the client seeks legal
assistance

• where the nature of the attorney-client relationship has been previously disclosed & it is the identity w/c is intended to be confidential, the
identity of the client has been held to be privileged, since such revelation would otherwise result in disclosure of the entire transaction.

Summarizing these exceptions, information relating to the identity of a client may fall within the ambit of the privilege when the client's name itself has
an independent significance, such that disclosure would then reveal client confidences.

Instant case falls under at least 2 exceptions to the general rule. First, disclosure of the alleged client's name would lead to establish said client's
connection with the very fact in issue of the case, which is privileged information, because the privilege, as stated earlier, protects the subject matter or
the substance (without which there would be no attorney-client relationship).

The link between the alleged criminal offense and the legal advice or legal service sought was duly established in the case at bar, by no less than the
PCGG itself as can be seen in the 3 specific conditions laid down by the PCGG which constitutes petitioners' ticket to non-prosecution should they accede
thereto.

From these conditions, particularly the third, we can readily deduce that the clients indeed consulted the petitioners, in their capacity as lawyers,
regarding the financial and corporate structure, framework and set-up of the corporations in question. In turn, petitioners gave their professional advice
in the form of, among others, the aforementioned deeds of assignment covering their client's shareholdings.

Petitioners have a legitimate fear that identifying their clients would implicate them in the very activity for which legal advice had been sought, i.e., the
alleged accumulation of ill-gotten wealth in the aforementioned corporations.

Secondly, under the third main exception, revelation of the client's name would obviously provide the necessary link for the prosecution to build its case,
where none otherwise exists.

While the privilege may not be invoked for illegal purposes such as in a case where a client takes on the services of an attorney, for illicit purposes, it may
be invoked in a case where a client thinks he might have previously committed something illegal and consults his attorney. Whether or not the act for
which the client sought advice turns out to be illegal, his name cannot be used or disclosed if the disclosure leads to evidence, not yet in the hands of the
prosecution, which might lead to possible action against him.

The Baird exception, applicable to the instant case, is consonant with the principal policy behind the privilege, i.e., that for the purpose of promoting
freedom of consultation of legal advisors by clients, apprehension of compelled disclosure from attorneys must be eliminated. What is sought to be
avoided then is the exploitation of the general rule in what may amount to a fishing expedition by the prosecution.

In fine, the crux of petitioner's objections ultimately hinges on their expectation that if the prosecution has a case against their clients, the latter's case
should be built upon evidence painstakingly gathered by them from their own sources and not from compelled testimony requiring them to reveal the
name of their clients, information which unavoidably reveals much about the nature of the transaction which may or may not be illegal.

The utmost zeal given by Courts to the protection of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege and lawyer's loyalty to his client is evident in the duration
of the protection, which exists not only during the relationship, but extends even after the termination of the relationship.

We have no choice but to uphold petitioners' right not to reveal the identity of their clients under pain of the breach of fiduciary duty owing to their
clients, as the facts of the instant case clearly fall w/in recognized exceptions to the rule that the client's name is not privileged information. Otherwise, it
would expose the lawyers themselves to possible litigation by their clients in view of the strict fiduciary responsibility imposed on them in exercise of
their duties.
JOSEFINA M. ANIÑON, COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. CLEMENCIO SABITSANA, JR., RESPONDENT.

Facts:

Josefina M. Aniñon (complainant) had previously engaged the legal services of Atty. Sabitsana in the preparation and execution
in her favor of a Deed of Sale over a parcel of land owned by her late common-law husband, Brigido Caneja, Jr. Atty. Sabitsana
allegedly violated her confidence when he subsequently filed a civil case against her for the annulment of the Deed of Sale in
behalf of Zenaida L. Cañete, the legal wife of Brigido Caneja, Jr. The complainant accused Atty. Sabitsana of using the
confidential information he obtained from her in filing the civil case.

Atty. Sabitsana admitted having advised the complainant in the preparation and execution of the Deed of Sale. However, he
denied having received any confidential information. Atty. Sabitsana asserted that the present disbarment complaint was
instigated by one Atty. Gabino Velasquez, Jr., the notary of the disbarment complaint who lost a court case against him (Atty.
Sabitsana) and had instigated the complaint for this reason.

In a resolution dated February 27, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors resolved to adopt and approve the Report and
Recommendation of the IBP Commissioner after finding it to be fully supported by the evidence on record and Respondent was
suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year.

Atty. Sabitsana moved to reconsider the above resolution, but the IBP Board of Governors denied his motion.

The Issue

Whether Atty. Sabitsana is guilty of misconduct for representing conflicting interests.

The Court’s Ruling

The SC agreed with the findings and recommendations of the IBP Commissioner and the IBP Board of Governors. The SC rules
that the relationship between a lawyer and his/her client should ideally be imbued with the highest level of trust and
confidence. This is the standard of confidentiality that must prevail to promote a full disclosure of the client’s most confidential
information to his/her lawyer for an unhampered exchange of information between them. Needless to state, a client can only
entrust confidential information to his/her lawyer based on an expectation from the lawyer of utmost secrecy and discretion;
the lawyer, for his part, is duty-bound to observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all dealings and transactions with the client.
Part of the lawyer’s duty in this regard is to avoid representing conflicting interests, a matter covered by Rule 15.03, Canon 15
of the Code of Professional Responsibility

Jurisprudence has provided three tests in determining whether a violation of the above rule is present in a given case.

One test is whether a lawyer is duty-bound to fight for an issue or claim in behalf of one client and, at the same time, to oppose
that claim for the other client. Thus, if a lawyer’s argument for one client has to be opposed by that same lawyer in arguing for
the other client, there is a violation of the rule.

Another test of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the
lawyer’s duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the
performance of that duty. Still another test is whether the lawyer would be called upon in the new relation to use against a
former client any confidential information acquired through their connection or previous employment

On the basis of the attendant facts of the case, substantial evidence proved to support Atty. Sabitsana’s violation of the above
rule: first, he filed a case against the complainant in behalf of Zenaida Cañete; second, he impleaded the complainant as the
defendant in the case; and third, the case he filed was for the annulment of the Deed of Sale that he had previously prepared
and executed for the complainant.

By his acts, not only did Atty. Sabitsana agree to represent one client against another client in the same action; he also accepted
a new engagement that entailed him to contend and oppose the interest of his other client in a property in which his legal
services had been previously retained.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves to ADOPT the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Bar Discipline of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Atty. Clemencio C. Sabitsana, Jr. is found GUILTY of misconduct for representing conflicting interests in
violation of Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED for one (1) year from the practice of law.
Santiago v Fojas AC 4103

TOPIC: Legal Ethics, Canon 14 CPR

FACTS:

An expulsion case was faced by the complainants contending that they have illegally removed from the union
(FEUFA) membership Mr. Paulino Salvador. The lower court resolved in favor of Salvador and ordered the
complainants to pay, jointly and severally, Mr. Salvador. The case was then elevated to the Court of Appeals. The
complainants lost in their petition at the Court of Appeals due to abandonment, failure to act accordingly, or
serious neglect of their counsel, Atty. Fojas to answer the civil complaint on an expulsion case. Atty. Fojas assured
them that everything was in order and he had already answered the complaint. However, the appellants soon
discovered that he never answered it after all because, according to him, he was a very busy man. Atty. Fojas
admitted his “mistake” in failing to file an answer for the expulsion case, but he alleges that it was cured by his
filing of a motion for reconsideration. However, such motion for reconsideration was denied. Atty. Fojas defended
his negligence with the reason that the case was a losing cause after all. Atty. Fojas also asserts that he was about
to appeal the said decision to this Court, but his services as counsel for the complainants and for the union were
illegally and unilaterally terminated by complainant. Complainants then filed for a disbarment case.

ISSUE:

Whether the respondent committed culpable negligence, as would warrant disciplinary action, in failing to file for
the complainants an answer

HELD:

Yes. The Supreme Court upheld Canon 14 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Once he agrees to take up the
cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed in him. This means that his client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is
authorized by the law of the land and he may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. In his
motion for reconsideration of the default order, the respondent explained his non-filing of the required answer by
impliedly invoking forgetfulness occasioned by a large volume and pressure of legal work, while in his Comment in
this case he attributes it to honest mistake and excusable neglect due to his overzealousness to question the denial
order of the trial court. Whether it be the first or the second ground, the fact remains that the respondent did not
comply with his duty to file an answer.

Pressure and large volume of legal work provide no excuse for the respondent’s inability to exercise due diligence
in the performance of his duty to file an answer. Every case a lawyer accepts deserves his full attention, diligence,
skill, and competence, regardless of its importance and whether he accepts it for a fee or for free. Furthermore, a
breach of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which requires him to serve his clients, the
complainants herein, with diligence and, more specifically, Rule 18.03 thereof which provides: “A lawyer shall not
neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.”

Atty. Fojas’s negligence is not excused by his claim that Civil Case No. 3526-V-91 was in fact a “losing cause”. The
Supreme Court held that he should have seasonably informed the complainants thereof. Rule 15.05, Canon 15 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility expressly provides: A lawyer, when advising his client, shall give a candid
and honest opinion on the merits and probable results of the client’s case, neither overstating nor understanding
the prospects of the case.

REPRIMANDED AND ADMONISHED


Castro v. Galing (A.C. No. 6174 November 16, 2011)

FACTS:

In 2003, complainant Lydia Castro-Justo engaged the services of respondent Atty. Rodolfo Galing in connection with dishonored
checks issued by Manila City Councilor Arlene W. Koa (Ms. Koa). After she paid his professional fees, the respondent drafted
and sent a letter to Ms. Koa demanding payment of the checks.Respondent advised complainant to wait for the lapse of the
period indicated in the demand letter before filing her complaint. complainant filed a criminal complaint against Ms. Koa for
estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila. Complainant then received a
copy of Motion for Consolidation that was filed for the respondent on behalf of the opposing party. Complainant submits that
by representing conflicting interests, respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility.He admitted that he drafted a
demand letter for complainant but argued that it was made only in deference to their long standing friendship and not by
reason of a professional engagement as professed by complainant. He denied receiving any professional fee for the services he
rendered. It was allegedly their understanding that complainant would have to retain the services of another lawyer. He alleged
that complainant, based on that agreement, engaged the services of Atty. Manuel A. Ao.respondent stated that the movants in
these cases are mother and daughter while complainants are likewise mother and daughter and that these cases arose out
from the same transaction. Thus, movants and complainants will be adducing the same sets of evidence and witnesses.
Respondent argued that no lawyer-client relationship existed between him and complainant because there was no professional
fee paid for the services he rendered. Complainant filed filed the instant administrative complaint against Atty.Galing seeking
his disbarment from the practice of law for violation of Canon 15 of Code of Professional Responsibility and conflict of interest.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the respondent violated Canon 15 Rule 15.03 of Code of Professional Responsibility.

HELD:

Yes,the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) found respondent guilty of violating Canon 15, Rule
15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility by representing conflicting interests and for his daring audacity and for the
pronounced malignancy of his act. Under Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that [a] lawyer shall not
represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure

of the facts. Respondent was therefore bound to refrain from representing parties with conflicting interests in a controversy.
The prohibition against representing conflicting interest is founded on principles of public policy and good taste. A lawyer-client
relationship can exist notwithstanding the close friendship between complainant and respondent. The relationship was
established the moment complainant sought legal advice from respondent regarding the dishonored checks. By drafting the
demand letter respondent further affirmed such relationship. The fact that the demand letter was not utilized in the criminal
complaint filed and that respondent was not eventually engaged by complainant to represent her in the criminal cases is of no
moment. In the course of the lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns of the facts connected with the clients case, including
the weak and strong points of the case. The nature of the relationship is, therefore, one of trust and confidence

of the highest degree.It behooves lawyers not only to keep inviolate the clients confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of
treachery and double-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers, which is of
paramount importance in the administration of justice.The excuse proffered by respondent that it was not him but Atty. Ao
who was eventually engaged by complainant will not exonerate him from the clear violation of Rule 15.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. The take- over of a clients cause of action by another lawyer does not give the former lawyer the
right to represent the opposing party. It is not only malpractice but also constitutes a violation of the confidence resulting from
the attorney-client relationship.Considering that it is respondents first infraction, the disbarment sought in the complaint is
deemed to be too severe. As recommended by the Board of Governors of the IBP,respondent is suspended from the practice of
law for one (1) year.