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A.C. No.

4585 November 12, 2004 On 05 April 1999, the National Bureau of Investigation reported9 that respondent was
arrested in Tacloban City on 26 March 1999, but was subsequently released after having
MICHAEL P. BARRIOS, complainant, shown proof of compliance with the resolutions of 17 February 1997 and 27 April 1998
vs. by remitting the amount of P2,000 and submitting his long overdue Comment.
ATTY. FRANCISCO P. MARTINEZ, respondent.
In the said Comment10 dated 16 March 1999, respondent stated that:
DECISION
PER CURIAM: 1. He failed to respond to our Resolution dated 17 February 1997 as he was at
that time undergoing medical treatment at Camp Ruperto Kangleon in Palo,
This is a verified petition1 for disbarment filed against Atty. Francisco Martinez for having Leyte;
been convicted by final judgment in Criminal Case No. 6608 of a crime involving moral
turpitude by Branch 8 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City.2 2. Complainant Michael Barrios passed away sometime in June 1997; and

The dispositive portion of the same states: 3. Said administrative complaint is an offshoot of a civil case which was decided
in respondent's favor (as plaintiff in the said case). Respondent avers that as a
WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused Francisco Martinez guilty beyond result of his moving for the execution of judgment in his favor and the eviction of
reasonable doubt of the crime for (sic) violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 the family of herein complainant Michael Barrios, the latter filed the present
charged in the Information. He is imposed a penalty of one (1) year imprisonment administrative case.
and fine double the amount of the check which is EIGHT THOUSAND (8,000.00)
PESOS, plus payment of the tax pursuant to Section 205 of the Internal Revenue In the meantime, on 11 September 1997, a certain Robert Visbal of the Provincial
Code and costs against the accused.3 Prosecution Office of Tacloban City submitted a letter11 to the First Division Clerk of
Court alleging that respondent Martinez also stood charged in another estafa case
Complainant further submitted our Resolution dated 13 March 1996 and the Entry of before the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City, Branch 9, as well as a civil case
Judgment from this Court dated 20 March 1996. involving the victims of the Doña Paz tragedy in 1987, for which the Regional Trial Court
of Basey, Samar, Branch 30 rendered a decision against him, his appeal thereto having
On 03 July 1996, we required4 respondent to comment on said petition within ten (10) been dismissed by the Court of Appeals.
days from notice. On 17 February 1997, we issued a second resolution5 requiring him to
show cause why no disciplinary action should be imposed on him for failure to comply In the said Decision of Branch 30 of the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Samar,12 it
with our earlier Resolution, and to submit said Comment. On 07 July 1997, we imposed a appears that herein respondent Atty. Martinez offered his legal services to the victims of
fine of P1,000 for respondent's failure to file said Comment and required him to comply the Doña Paz tragedy for free. However, when the plaintiff in the said civil case was
with our previous resolution within ten days.6 On 27 April 1998, we fined respondent an issued a check for P90,000 by Sulpicio Lines representing compensation for the deaths
additional P2,000 and required him to comply with the resolution requiring his comment of his wife and two daughters, Atty. Martinez asked plaintiff to endorse said check, which
within ten days under pain of imprisonment and arrest for a period of five (5) days or until was then deposited in the account of Dr. Martinez, Atty. Martinez's wife. When plaintiff
his compliance.7 Finally, on 03 February 1999, or almost three years later, we declared asked for his money, he was only able to recover a total of P30,000. Atty. Martinez
respondent Martinez guilty of Contempt under Rule 71, Sec. 3[b] of the 1997 Rules of claimed the remaining P60,000 as his attorney's fees. Holding that it was "absurd and
Civil Procedure and ordered his imprisonment until he complied with the aforesaid totally ridiculous that for a simple legal service … he would collect 2/3 of the money
resolutions.8 claim," the trial court ordered Atty. Martinez to pay the plaintiff therein the amount of
P60,000 with interest, P5,000 for moral and exemplary damages, and the costs of the 815; Medina vs. Bautista, 12 SCRA 1, People vs. Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360,
suit. 30 Jan. 1990).

Said trial court also made particular mention of Martinez's dilatory tactics during the trial, WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended that
citing fourteen (14) specific instances thereof. Martinez's appeal from the above respondent Atty. Francisco P. Martinez be disbarred and his name stricken out
judgment was dismissed by the Court of Appeals for his failure to file his brief, despite from the Roll of Attorneys immediately.
having been granted three thirty (30)-day extensions to do so.13
On 27 September 2003, the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution16 adopting and
On 16 June 1999, we referred the present case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
14 approving the report and recommendation of its Investigating Commissioner.
(IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
On 03 December 2003, respondent Martinez filed a Motion for Reconsideration and/or
The report15 of IBP Investigating Commissioner Winston D. Abuyuan stated in part that: Reinvestigation,17 in the instant case alleging that:

Several dates for the hearing of the case were scheduled but none of the parties 1. The Report and Recommendation of the IBP Investigating Commissioner is
appeared before the Commission, until finally it was considered submitted for tantamount to a deprivation of property without due process of law, although
resolution last 27 June 2002. On the same date respondent filed a motion for the admittedly the practice of law is a privilege;
dismissal of the case on the ground that the complainant died sometime in June
1997 and that dismissal is warranted because "the case filed by him does not 2. If respondent is given another chance to have his day in court and allowed to
survive due to his demise; as a matter of fact, it is extinguished upon his death." adduce evidence, the result/outcome would be entirely different from that arrived
at by the Investigating Commissioner; and
We disagree with respondent's contention.
3. Respondent is now 71 years of age, and has served the judiciary in various
Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court, the Honorable capacities (from acting city judge to Municipal Judges League Leyte Chapter
Supreme Court or the IBP may motu proprio initiate the proceedings when they President) for almost 17 years prior to resuming his law practice.
perceive acts of lawyers which deserve sanctions or when their attention is called
by any one and a probable cause exists that an act has been perpetrated by a On 14 January 2004, we required18 complainant to file a comment within ten days. On 16
lawyer which requires disciplinary sanctions. February 2004, we received a Manifestation and Motion19 from complainant's daughter,
Diane Francis Barrios Latoja, alleging that they had not been furnished with a copy of
As earlier cited, respondent lawyer's propensity to disregard or ignore orders of respondent's Motion, notwithstanding the fact that respondent ostensibly lives next door
the Honorable Supreme Court for which he was fined twice, arrested and to complainant's family. Required to Comment on 17 May 2004, respondent has until
imprisoned reflects an utter lack of good moral character. now failed to do so.

Respondent's conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude (estafa and/or The records show that respondent, indeed, failed to furnish a copy of said Motion to
violation of BP Blg. 22) clearly shows his unfitness to protect the administration of herein complainant. The records also show that respondent was given several
justice and therefore justifies the imposition of sanctions against him (see In re: opportunities to present evidence by this Court20 as well as by the IBP.21 Indeed, he only
Abesamis, 102 Phil. 1182; In re: Jaramillo, 101 Phil. 323; In re: Vinzon, 19 SCRA has himself to blame, for he has failed to present his case despite several occasions to
do so. It is now too late in the day for respondent to ask this court to receive his a lawyer; however, it certainly relates to and affects the good moral character of
evidence. a person convicted of such offense…26 (emphasis supplied)

This court, moreover, is unwilling to exercise the same patience that it did when it waited Over ten years later, we reiterated the above ruling in Villaber v. Commission on
for his comment on the original petition. At any rate, after a careful consideration of the Elections27 and disqualified a congressional candidate for having been sentenced by final
records of the instant case, we find the evidence on record sufficient to support the IBP's judgment for three counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in accordance with Sec. 12 of the
findings. Omnibus Election Code, which states:

Under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred or SEC. 12. Disqualifications. — Any person who has been declared by competent
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for
or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his subversion, insurrection, rebellion, or for any offense for which he has been
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months, or for a crime involving
required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office,
order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party unless he has been given plenary pardon or granted amnesty. (emphasis
to a case without authority to do so. supplied)

In the present case, respondent has been found guilty and convicted by final judgment Enumerating the elements of that crime, we held that the act of a person in issuing a
for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 for issuing a worthless check in the amount of P8,000. The check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not have sufficient funds
issue with which we are now concerned is whether or not the said crime is one involving in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the check in full upon its presentment, is a
moral turpitude. 22 manifestation of moral turpitude. Notwithstanding therein petitioner's averment that he
was not a lawyer, we nevertheless applied our ruling in People v. Tuanda, to the effect
Moral turpitude "includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, that
or good morals."23 It involves "an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private
duties which a man owes his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the (A) conviction for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, "imports deceit" and "certainly relates
accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct to and affects the good moral character of a person." [Indeed] the effects of the
contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals."24 issuance of a worthless check, as we held in the landmark case of Lozano v.
Martinez, through Justice Pedro L. Yap, "transcends the private interests of the
In People of the Philippines v. Atty. Fe Tuanda,25 where the erring lawyer was indefinitely parties directly involved in the transaction and touches the interests of the
suspended for having been convicted of three counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22, we held community at large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee or
that conviction by final judgment of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 involves moral turpitude and holder, but also an injury to the public" since the circulation of valueless
stated: commercial papers "can very well pollute the channels of trade and commerce,
injure the banking system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the
We should add that the crimes of which respondent was convicted also import public interest." Thus, paraphrasing Black's definition, a drawer who issues an
deceit and violation of her attorney's oath and the Code of Professional unfunded check deliberately reneges on his private duties he owes his fellow
Responsibility under both of which she was bound to "obey the laws of the men or society in a manner contrary to accepted and customary rule of right and
land." Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude might not (as in the instant duty, justice, honesty or good morals.28 (emphasis supplied)
case, violation of B.P. Blg. 22 does not) relate to the exercise of the profession of
In the recent case of Barrientos v. Libiran-Meteoro,29 we stated that: any professional or private misconduct showing them to be wanting in moral character,
honesty, probity and good demeanor — or to be unworthy to continue as officers of the
(T)he issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been drawn Court."33
against a closed account indicates a lawyer's unfitness for the trust and
confidence reposed on her. It shows a lack of personal honesty and good moral Nor are we inclined to look with favor upon respondent's plea that if "given another
character as to render her unworthy of public confidence. [Cuizon v. Macalino, chance to have his day in court and to adduce evidence, the result/outcome would be
A.C. No. 4334, 07 July 2004] The issuance of a series of worthless checks also entirely different from that arrived at." We note with displeasure the inordinate length of
shows the remorseless attitude of respondent, unmindful to the deleterious time respondent took in responding to our requirement to submit his Comment on the
effects of such act to the public interest and public order. [Lao v. Medel, 405 original petition to disbar him. These acts constitute a willful disobedience of the lawful
SCRA 227] It also manifests a lawyer's low regard for her commitment to the orders of this Court, which under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is in itself a
oath she has taken when she joined her peers, seriously and irreparably cause sufficient for suspension or disbarment. Thus, from the time we issued our first
tarnishing the image of the profession she should hold in high esteem. [Sanchez Resolution on 03 July 1996 requiring him to submit his Comment, until 16 March 1999,
v. Somoso, A.C. No. 6061, 03 October 2003] when he submitted said Comment to secure his release from arrest, almost three years
had elapsed.
Clearly, therefore, the act of a lawyer in issuing a check without sufficient funds to cover
the same constitutes such willful dishonesty and immoral conduct as to undermine the It is revealing that despite the unwarranted length of time it took respondent to comply,
public confidence in law and lawyers. And while "the general rule is that a lawyer may his Comment consists of all of two pages, a copy of which, it appears, he neglected to
not be suspended or disbarred, and the court may not ordinarily assume jurisdiction to furnish complainant.34 And while he claims to have been confined while undergoing
discipline him for misconduct in his non-professional or private capacity, where, however, medical treatment at the time our Resolution of 17 February 1997 was issued, he merely
the misconduct outside of the lawyer's professional dealings is so gross a character as to reserved the submission of a certification to that effect. Nor, indeed, was he able to offer
show him morally unfit for the office and unworthy of the privilege which his licenses and any explanation for his failure to submit his Comment from the time we issued our first
the law confer on him, the court may be justified in suspending or removing him from the Resolution of 03 July 1996 until 16 March 1999. In fact, said Comment alleged, merely,
office of attorney."30 that the complainant, Michael Barrios, passed away sometime in June 1997, and
imputed upon the latter unsupported ill-motives for instituting the said Petition against
The argument of respondent that to disbar him now is tantamount to a deprivation of him, which argument has already been resolved squarely in the abovementioned IBP
property without due process of law is also untenable. As respondent himself admits, the report.
practice of law is a privilege. The purpose of a proceeding for disbarment is "to protect
the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important function Moreover, the IBP report cited the failure of both parties to appear before the
shall be competent, honorable and reliable; men in whom courts and clients may repose Commission as the main reason for the long delay, until the same was finally submitted
confidence."31 "A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil for Resolution on 27 June 2002. Respondent, therefore, squandered away seven years
action where the complainant is plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. to "have his day in court and adduce evidence" in his behalf, which inaction also unduly
Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private delayed the court's prompt disposition of this petition.
grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare, and for the
purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministrations of persons unfit to In Pajares v. Abad Santos,35 we reminded attorneys that "there must be more faithful
practice them."32 "Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their duties to adherence to Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court [now Rule 7, Section 3] which
society, to the bar, to the courts and to their clients. Their conduct must always reflect the provides that the signature of an attorney constitutes a certificate by him that he has read
values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional the pleading and that to the best of his knowledge, information and belief, there is good
Responsibility. On these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend lawyers for ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay, and expressly admonishes
that for a willful violation of this rule an attorney may be subjected to disciplinary However, in a long line of cases, some of which were decided after Tuanda, we have
action.36 It is noteworthy that in the past, the Court has disciplined lawyers and judges for held disbarment to be the appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment for a crime
willful disregard of its orders to file comments or appellant's briefs, as a penalty for involving moral turpitude. Thus:
disobedience thereof. 37
1. In In The Matter of Disbarment Proceedings v. Narciso N. Jaramillo,43 we
For the same reasons, we are disinclined to take respondent's old age and the fact that disbarred a lawyer convicted of estafa without discussing the circumstances
he served in the judiciary in various capacities in his favor. If at all, we hold respondent to behind his conviction. We held that:
a higher standard for it, for a judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity,
and independence,38 and his conduct should be above reproach.39 The fact that There is no question that the crime of estafa involves moral turpitude.
respondent has chosen to engage in private practice does not mean he is now free to The review of respondent's conviction no longer rests upon us. The
conduct himself in less honorable – or indeed in a less than honorable – manner. judgment not only has become final but has been executed. No elaborate
argument is necessary to hold the respondent unworthy of the privilege
We stress that membership in the legal profession is a privilege,40 demanding a high bestowed on him as a member of the bar. Suffice it to say that, by his
degree of good moral character, not only as a condition precedent to admission, but also conviction, the respondent has proved himself unfit to protect the
as a continuing requirement for the practice of law.41 Sadly, herein respondent falls short administration of justice.44
of the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of the legal profession.
2. In In Re: Dalmacio De Los Angeles,45 a lawyer was convicted of the crime of
The IBP Board of Governors recommended that respondent be disbarred from the attempted bribery in a final decision rendered by the Court of Appeals. "And
practice of law. We agree. since bribery is admittedly a felony involving moral turpitude (7 C.J.S., p. 736; 5
Am. Jur. p. 428), this Court, much as it sympathizes with the plight of respondent,
We come now to the matter of the penalty imposable in this case. In Co v. is constrained to decree his disbarment as ordained by Section 25 of Rule 127."46
Bernardino and Lao v. Medel, we upheld the imposition of one year's suspension for
non-payment of debt and issuance of worthless checks, or a suspension of six months 3. In Ledesma De Jesus-Paras v. Quinciano Vailoces,47 the erring lawyer
upon partial payment of the obligation.42 However, in these cases, for various reasons, acknowledged the execution of a document purporting to be a last will and
none of the issuances resulted in a conviction by the erring lawyers for either estafa or testament, which later turned out to be a forgery. He was found guilty beyond
B.P. Blg. 22. Thus, we held therein that the issuance of worthless checks constitutes reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of public document, which the Court
gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension from the held to be a crime involving moral turpitude, said act being contrary to justice,
practice of law. honesty and good morals, and was subsequently disbarred.

In the instant case, however, herein respondent has been found guilty and stands 4. In In Re: Disbarment Proceedings Against Atty. Diosdado Q. Gutierrez,48 Atty.
convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude. In People v. Tuanda, Gutierrez was convicted for murder. After serving a portion of the sentence, he
which is similar to this case in that both respondents were convicted for violation of B.P. was granted a conditional pardon by the President. Holding that the pardon was
Blg. 22 which we have held to be such a crime, we affirmed the order of suspension from not absolute and thus did not reach the offense itself but merely remitted the
the practice of law imposed by the Court of Appeals, until further orders. unexecuted portion of his term, the court nevertheless disbarred him.
5. In In Re: Atty. Isidro P. Vinzon,49 Atty. Vinzon was convicted of the crime of servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to
estafa for misappropriating the amount of P7,000.00, and was subsequently trample them underfoot and to ignore the very bands of society, argues recreancy to his
disbarred. We held thus: position and office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous
elements of the body politic."56
Upon the other hand, and dealing now with the merits of the case, there
can be no question that the term "moral turpitude" includes everything WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco P. Martinez is hereby dISBARRED and his
which is done contrary to justice, honesty, or good morals. In essence name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be
and in all respects, estafa, no doubt, is a crime involving moral turpitude entered in the respondent's record as a member of the Bar, and notice of the same be
because the act is unquestionably against justice, honesty and good served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court
morals (In re Gutierrez, Adm. Case No. 263, July 31, 1962; Bouvier's Law Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
Dictionary; In re Basa, 41 Phil. 275-76). As respondent's guilt cannot now
be questioned, his disbarment is inevitable. (emphasis supplied)50 SO ORDERED.

6. In In Re: Attorney Jose Avanceña,51 the conditional pardon extended to the


erring lawyer by the Chief Executive also failed to relieve him of the penalty of
disbarment imposed by this court.

7. In In Re Disbarment of Rodolfo Pajo,52 a lawyer was charged and found guilty


of the crime of falsification of public document for having prepared and notarized
a deed of sale of a parcel of land knowing that the supposed affiant was an
impostor and that the vendor had been dead for almost eight years. We ruled
that disbarment follows as a consequence of a lawyer's conviction by final
judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude, and since the crime of falsification
of public document involves moral turpitude, we ordered respondent's name
stricken off the roll of attorneys.

8. In Adelina T. Villanueva v. Atty. Teresita Sta. Ana,53 we upheld the


recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors to disbar a lawyer who had been
convicted of estafa through falsification of public documents, because she was
"totally unfit to be a member of the legal profession."54

9. In Victoriano P. Resurreccion v. Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson,55 a lawyer was


disbarred for having been convicted of estafa by final judgment for
misappropriating the funds of his client.

In this case as well, we find disbarment to be the appropriate penalty. "Of all classes and
professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn ADM. CASE No. 3319 June 8, 2000
LESLIE UI, complainant, A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed on August
vs. 11, 1989 by the complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio before the
ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent. Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter,
Commission) on the ground of immorality, more particularly, for carrying on an illicit
DE LEON, JR., J.: relationship with the complainant's husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer,2 respondent
averred that she met Carlos Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to be a
Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris Bonifacio for bachelor, with the knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese woman
allegedly carrying on an immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, husband of complainant, in Amoy, China, from whom he had long been estranged. She stated that during one of
Leslie Ui. their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry her and they in fact got
married in Hawaii, USA in 19853. Upon their return to Manila, respondent did not live with
Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live with his children in their Greenhills residence
The relevant facts are:
because respondent and Carlos Ui wanted to let the children gradually to know and
accept the fact of his second marriage before they would live together.4
On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our Lady of
Lourdes Church in Quezon City1 and as a result of their marital union, they had four (4)
In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she would only
children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and Carl Cavin, all surnamed Ui. Sometime in
return occasionally to the Philippines to update her law practice and renew legal ties.
December 1987, however, complainant found out that her husband. Carlos Ui, was
During one of her trips to Manila sometime in June 1988, she was confronted by a
carrying on an illicit relationship with respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot
woman who insisted that she was the lawful wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon
a daughter sometime in 1986, and that they had been living together at No. 527 San
her discovery of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, respondent then left for Honolulu,
Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a graduate
Hawaii sometime in July 1988 and returned only in March 1989 with her two (2) children.
of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines was admitted to the Philippine
On March 20, 1989, a few days after she reported to work with the law firm5 she was
Bar in 1982.
connected with, the woman who represented herself to be the wife of Carlos Ui again
came to her office, demanding to know if Carlos Ui has been communicating with her.
Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent. Complainant then
visited respondent at her office in the later part of June 1988 and introduced herself as
It is respondent's contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit because they
the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon, respondent admitted to her that she has a child
were married abroad and that after June 1988, when respondent discovered Carlos Ui's
with Carlos Ui and alleged, however; that everything was over between her and Carlos
true civil status, she cut off all her ties with him. Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never
Ui. Complainant believed the representations of respondent and thought things would
lived with her in Alabang, and that he resided at 26 Potsdam Street, Greenhills, San
turn out well from then on and that the illicit relationship between her husband and
Juan, Metro Manila. It was respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which belonged
respondent would come to an end.
to her mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said house was built exclusively from
her parents' funds.6 By way of counterclaim, respondent sought moral damages in the
However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her husband amount of Ten Million Pesos (Php10,000,000.00) against complainant for having filed the
and respondent continued, and that sometime in December 1988, respondent and her present allegedly malicious and groundless disbarment case against respondent.
husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child. Complainant then met again with respondent
sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with respondent to discontinue her illicit
In her Reply7 dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that respondent
relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail. The illicit relationship persisted and
knew perfectly well that Carlos Ui was married to complainant and had children with her
complainant even came to know later on that respondent had been employed by her
even at the start of her relationship with Carlos Ui, and that the reason respondent went
husband in his company.
abroad was to give birth to her two (2) children with Carlos Ui.
During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, complainant also RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.8
charged her husband, Carlos Ui, and respondent with the crime of Concubinage before
the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, docketed as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to the
was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense Secretary of Justice, but the same was dismissed9 on the ground of insufficiency of
charged. The resolution dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent reads: evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and Carlos Ui lived together as
husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.
Complainant's evidence had prima facie established the existence of the "illicit
relationship" between the respondents allegedly discovered by the complainant In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant filed a
in December 1987. The same evidence however show that respondent Carlos Ui Motion to Cite Respondent in Contempt of the Commission 10 wherein she charged
was still living with complainant up to the latter part of 1988 and/or the early part respondent with making false allegations in her Answer and for submitting a supporting
of 1989. document which was altered and intercalated. She alleged that in the Answer of
respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, respondent averred, among others, that she
It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of was married to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of Marriage to
respondents started and was discovered by complainant sometime in 1987 when substantiate her averment. However, the Certificate of Marriage 11 duly certified by the
she and respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26 Potsdam Street, Northeast State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the Hawaii State Department of
Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila and they, admittedly, continued to live Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu, Hawaii,
together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 or later 1988, when USA revealed that the date of marriage between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris
respondent Carlos left the same. Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and not October 22, 1985 as claimed by respondent in
her Answer. According to complainant, the reason for that false allegation was because
From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the respondent wanted to impress upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child by Carlos
relationship, illicit as complainant puts it, had been prima facie established by Ui was within the wedlock. 12 It is the contention of complainant that such act constitutes
complainant's evidence, this same evidence had failed to evenprima a violation of Articles 183 13 and 184 14 of the Revised Penal Code, and also contempt of
facie establish the "fact of respondent's cohabitation in the concept of husband the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false allegations in her Answer
and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of which is and submitting an altered/intercalated document are indicative of her moral perversity
necessary and indispensable to at least create probable cause for the offense and lack of integrity which make her unworthy to be a member of the Philippine Bar.
charged. The statement alone of complainant, worse, a statement only of a
conclusion respecting the fact of cohabitation does not make the complainant's In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt), 15 respondent averred
evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs. Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. that she did not have the original copy of the marriage certificate because the same was
178). in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she annexed such copy because she relied in
good faith on what appeared on the copy of the marriage certificate in her possession.
It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support of their
respective positions on the matter support and bolster the foregoing Respondent filed her Memorandum 16 on February 22, 1995 and raised the lone issue of
conclusion/recommendation. whether or not she has conducted herself in an immoral manner for which she deserves
to be barred from the practice of law. Respondent averred that the complaint should be
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant complaint be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely:
dismissed for want of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense
charged.
(i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the requirement of nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Ui whom she believed
good moral character for the practice of the legal profession; and to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true civil status, she parted ways with
him.
(ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent conducted herself
in an immoral manner. In the Memorandum 22 filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she prayed for
the disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent committed immorality
In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was the victim by having intimate relations with a married man which resulted in the birth of two (2)
in this case and not Leslie Ui because she did not know that Carlos Ui was already children. Complainant testified that respondent's mother, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio,
married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent immediately cut-off all her ties personally knew complainant and her husband since the late 1970s because they were
with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no reason for her to doubt at that time that the clients of the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch Manager. 23 It was thus highly
civil status of Carlos Ui was that of a bachelor because he spent so much time with her, improbable that respondent, who was living with her parents as of 1986, would not have
and he was so open in his courtship. 18 been informed by her own mother that Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant
likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards the Commission for
On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it was highly submitting a photocopy of a document containing an intercalated date.
incredible for her to have knowingly attached such marriage certificate to her Answer had
she known that the same was altered. Respondent reiterated that there was no In her Reply to Complainant's Memorandum 24, respondent stated that complainant
compelling reason for her to make it appear that her marriage to Carlos Ui took place miserably failed to show sufficient proof to warrant her disbarment. Respondent insists
either in 1985 or 1987, because the fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got that contrary to the allegations of complainant, there is no showing that respondent had
married before complainant confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier knowledge of the fact of marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The allegation that her
marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui who mother knew Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that such information was
testified and admitted that he was the person responsible for changing the date of the made known to respondent.
marriage certificate from 1987 to 1985, and complainant did not present evidence to
rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on this matter. Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline submitted its
Report and Recommendation, finding that:
Respondent posits that complainant's evidence, consisting of the pictures of respondent
with a child, pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a garage with cars, a In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted by Carlos
picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS 313, a picture of the same car, and Ui, the latter represented himself to be single. The Commission does not find
portion of the house and ground, and another picture of the same car bearing Plate No. said claim too difficult to believe in the light of contemporary human experience.
PNS 313 and a picture of the house and the garage, 19 does not prove that she acted in
an immoral manner. They have no evidentiary value according to her. The pictures were Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he represents
taken by a photographer from a private security agency and who was not presented himself to be single, separated, or without any firm commitment to another
during the hearings. Further, the respondent presented the Resolution of the Provincial woman. The reason therefor is not hard to fathom. By their very nature, single
Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint filed by Leslie Ui women prefer single men.
against respondent for lack of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense
charged 20 and the dismissal of the appeal by the Department of Justice21 to bolster her The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true civil
argument that she was not guilty of any immoral or illegal act because of her relationship status of Carlos Ui, she left for the United States (in July of 1988). She broke off
with Carlos Ui. In fine, respondent claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui all contacts with him. When she returned to the Philippines in March of 1989, she
in good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, or shameless,
lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and respondent only b. a resident thereof;
talked to each other because of the children whom he was allowed to visit. At no
time did they live together. c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age;

Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act on the d. a person of good moral character;
part of respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or disgraceful as to be
reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she was more of a victim that (sic) e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude, are filed
anything else and should deserve compassion rather than condemnation. or pending in court;
Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of having a normal and
happy family life, a dream cherished by every single girl.
f. possess the required educational qualifications; and
xxx xxx xxx
g. pass the bar examinations. 25 (Emphasis supplied)
Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a
Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that
Notice of Resolution dated December 13, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads as
an applicant must possess good moral character. More importantly, possession of good
follows:
moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of
law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege. It
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and has been held —
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the
Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully
continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for retaining
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, the
membership in the legal profession. Membership in the bar may be terminated
complaint for Gross Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED for lack of
when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117
merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for knowingly and willfully attaching
Phil. 865).
to her Answer a falsified Certificate of Marriage with a stern warning that a
repetition of the same will merit a more severe penalty.
A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should have
We agree with the findings aforequoted.
moral integrity in addition to professional probity.
The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy the
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is
practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is a privilege
"grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which
that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of due process, once a lawyer violates his
render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies
oath and the dictates of legal ethics. The requisites for admission to the practice of law
that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be
are:
the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.
a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines;
Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to
shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and refrain from adulterous relationships . . . but must also so behave himself as to avoid
respectable members of the community." (7 C.J.S. 959). 26 scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral
standards." 29 Respondent's act of immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui upon
In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she met Carlos discovering his true civil status belies just that alleged moral indifference and proves that
Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love with him and they got she had no intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of the legal
married and as a result of such marriage, she gave birth to two (2) children. Upon her profession. Complainant's bare assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the
knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left him. burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its disciplinary
powers only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory
Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of respondent evidence. 30 This, herein complainant miserably failed to do.
are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the standard norms of
our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to her
a far cry from what it used to be before. This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, Answer, we find improbable to believe the averment of respondent that she merely relied
as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility and on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate which was provided her by Carlos Ui. For an
thus must handle their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts of this case lead event as significant as a marriage ceremony, any normal bride would verily recall the
us to believe that perhaps respondent would not have found herself in such a date and year of her marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a lawyer as
compromising situation had she exercised prudence and been more vigilant in finding out in the case at bar, can forget the year when she got married. Simply stated, it is contrary
more about Carlos Ui's personal background prior to her intimate involvement with him. to human experience and highly improbable.

Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused respondent's Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an attachment
suspicion that something was amiss in her relationship with Carlos Ui, and moved her to to her pleading, especially so when she has personal knowledge of the facts and
ask probing questions. For instance, respondent admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui circumstances contained therein. In attaching such Marriage Certificate with an
had children with a woman from Amoy, China, yet it appeared that she never exerted the intercalated date, the defense of good faith of respondent on that point cannot stand.
slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also,
despite their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first child, It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of
a circumstance that is simply incomprehensible considering respondent's allegation that morality. The legal profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called
1avv phi1

Carlos Ui was very open in courting her. upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of
malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand no less than the
All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent was highest degree of morality.
imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her
relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what respondent believed was a valid WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L. Bonifacio,
marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality connotes conduct that shows for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED.
indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and respectable
members of the community. 27 Moreover, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer a
the same must be "grossly immoral," that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to photocopy of her Marriage Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date thereof, with a
constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree. 28 STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed on her for any repetition
of the same or similar offense in the future.
SBC Case No. 519 July 31, 1997 the resolution of the present case. On June 18, 1974, the Court denied respondent's
motion to dismiss.
PATRICIA FIGUEROA, complainant,
vs. On October 2, 1980, the Court once again denied a motion to dismiss on the ground of
SIMEON BARRANCO, JR., respondent. abandonment filed by respondent on September 17, 1979. 2 Respondent's third motion to
dismiss was noted in the Court's Resolution dated September 15, 1982. 3 In 1988, respondent
RESOLUTION repeated his request, citing his election as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Janiuay,
Iloilo from 1980-1986, his active participation in civic organizations and good standing in the
community as well as the length of time this case has been pending as reasons to allow him
to take his oath as a lawyer. 4

ROMERO, J.:
On September 29, 1988, the Court resolved to dismiss the complaint for failure of
complainant to prosecute the case for an unreasonable period of time and to allow
In a complaint made way back in 1971, Patricia Figueroa petitioned that respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. to take the lawyer's oath upon payment of the required fees. 5
Simeon Barranco, Jr. be denied admission to the legal profession. Respondent had
passed the 1970 bar examinations on the fourth attempt, after unsuccessful attempts in
Respondent's hopes were again dashed on November 17, 1988 when the Court, in
1966, 1967 and 1968. Before be could take his oath, however, complainant filed the
response to complainant's opposition, resolved to cancel his scheduled oath-taking. On
instant petition averring that respondent and she had been sweethearts, that a child out
June 1, 1993, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
of wedlock was born to them and that respondent did not fulfill his repeated promises to for investigation, report and recommendation.
many her.
The IBP's report dated May 17, 1997 recommended the dismissal of the case and that
The facts were manifested in hearings held before Investigator Victor F. Sevilla in June
respondent be allowed to take the lawyer's oath.
and July 1971. Respondent and complainant were townmates in Janiuay, Iloilo. Since
1953, when they were both in their teens, they were steadies. Respondent even acted as
escort to complainant when she reigned as Queen at the 1953 town fiesta. Complainant We agree.
first acceded to sexual congress with respondent sometime in 1960. Their intimacy
yielded a son, Rafael Barranco, born on December 11, 1964. 1 It was after the child was Respondent was prevented from taking the lawyer's oath in 1971 because of the charge
born, complainant alleged, that respondent first promised he would marry her after he passes of gross immorality made by complainant. To recapitulate, respondent bore an
the bar examinations. Their relationship continued and respondent allegedly made more than illegitimate child with his sweetheart, Patricia Figueroa, who also claims that he did not
twenty or thirty promises of marriage. He gave only P10.00 for the child on the latter's fulfill his promise to marry her after he passes the bar examinations.
birthdays. Her trust in him and their relationship ended in 1971, when she learned that
respondent married another woman. Hence, this petition. We find that these facts do not constitute gross immorality warranting the permanent
exclusion of respondent from the legal profession. His engaging in premarital sexual
Upon complainant's motion, the Court authorized the taking of testimonies of witnesses relations with complainant and promises to marry suggests a doubtful moral character on
by deposition in 1972. On February 18, 1974, respondent filed a Manifestation and his part but the same does not constitute grossly immoral conduct. The Court has held
Motion to Dismiss the case citing complainant's failure to comment on the motion of that to justify suspension or disbarment the act complained of must not only be immoral,
Judge Cuello seeking to be relieved from the duty to take aforesaid testimonies by but grossly immoral. "A grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to
deposition. Complainant filed her comment required and that she remains interested in constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high
degree." 6 It is a willful, flagrant, or shameless act which shows a moral indifference to the A.C. No. 6288 June 16, 2006
opinion of respectable members of the community. 7
MARILI C. RONQUILLO, ALEXANDER RONQUILLO and JON ALEXANDER
We find the ruling in Arciga v. Maniwang 8 quite relevant because mere intimacy between a RONQUILLO, represented by their Attorney-in-Fact SERVILLANO A.
man and a woman, both of whom possess no impediment to marry, voluntarily carried on and CABUNGCAL, Complainants,
devoid of any deceit on the part of respondent, is neither so corrupt nor so unprincipled as to vs.
warrant the imposition of disciplinary sanction against him, even if as a result of such ATTY. HOMOBONO T. CEZAR, Respondent.
relationship a child was born out of wedlock. 9
DECISION
Respondent and complainant were sweethearts whose sexual relations were evidently
consensual. We do not find complainant's assertions that she had been forced into PUNO, J.:
sexual intercourse, credible. She continued to see and be respondent's girlfriend even
after she had given birth to a son in 1964 and until 1971. All those years of amicable and
Complainants seek the disbarment or suspension of respondent from the practice of law
intimate relations refute her allegations that she was forced to have sexual congress with
for unlawful, dishonest, immoral and deceitful conduct. They allege that respondent sold
him. Complainant was then an adult who voluntarily and actively pursued their
relationship and was not an innocent young girl who could be easily led astray. them a piece of property over which he has no right nor interest, and that he refuses to
return to them the amount they have paid him for it.
Unfortunately, respondent chose to marry and settle permanently with another woman.
We cannot castigate a man for seeking out the partner of his dreams, for marriage is a
sacred and perpetual bond which should be entered into because of love, not for any Complainant Marili C. Ronquillo is a Filipino citizen currently residing in Cannes, France,
other reason. together with her minor children, Alexander and Jon Alexander.

We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act of revenge of a woman scorned, In May 1999, complainants and respondent entered into a Deed of Assignment.1 For the
bitter and unforgiving to the end. It is also intended to make respondent suffer severely price of P1.5M, respondent transferred, in favor of the complainants, his rights and
and it seems, perpetually, sacrificing the profession he worked very hard to be admitted interests over a townhouse unit and lot, located at 75 Granwood Villas Subd., BF Homes,
into. Even assuming that his past indiscretions are ignoble, the twenty-six years that Quezon City. Respondent also obligated himself to deliver to complainants a copy of the
respondent has been prevented from being a lawyer constitute sufficient punishment Contract to Sell he executed with Crown Asia, the townhouse developer, dated April 19,
therefor. During this time there appears to be no other indiscretion attributed to 1996. Upon full payment of the purchase price, respondent further undertook to have
him. 10 Respondent, who is now sixty-two years of age, should thus be allowed, albeit Crown Asia execute a Deed of Absolute Sale over the property in favor of the
belatedly, to take the lawyer's oath. complainants.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. Respondent Simeon Respondent received from complainants P750,000.00 upon execution of the Deed of
Barranco, Jr. is ALLOWED to take his oath as a lawyer upon payment of the proper fees. Assignment. The balance was to be paid by complainants in four equal quarterly
installments of P187,500.00 each. Thus, complainants issued in favor of respondent four
SO ORDERED. postdated checks in the amount of P187,500.00 each. Respondent was able to encash
the first check dated August 17, 1999.2

Complainants subsequently received information from Crown Asia that respondent has
not paid in full the price of the townhouse at the time he executed the Deed of
Assignment. Respondent also failed to deliver to complainants a copy of the Contract to We agree.
Sell he allegedly executed with Crown Asia. For these reasons, complainant Marili
Ronquillo ordered the bank to stop payment on the second check she issued to Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be
respondent in the amount of P187,500.00. disbarred or suspended on any of the following grounds: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice or
other gross misconduct in office; (3) grossly immoral conduct; (4) conviction of a crime
On March 6, 2000, complainants, through their counsel, wrote respondent, informing him involving moral turpitude; (5) violation of the lawyer’s oath; (6) willful disobedience of any
that they were still willing to pay the balance of the purchase price of the townhouse on lawful order of a superior court; and (7) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party
the condition that respondent work on Crown Asia’s execution of the Deed of Absolute without authority. Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides
Sale in their favor. In the alternative, complainants demanded the return of the amount that "A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."
of P937,500.00, plus legal interest, within ten days.3 The amount of P937,500.00 "Conduct," as used in this rule, does not refer exclusively to the performance of a
represents the P750,000.00 down payment and the first quarterly installment lawyer’s professional duties. This Court has made clear in a long line of cases7 that a
of P187,500.00 which complainants paid respondent. lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for misconduct, whether in his professional or
private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and
In a letter dated May 2, 2000, addressed to complainants,4 respondent claimed that he good demeanor, or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.
was "working now on a private project which hopefully will be realized not long from
now," and requested for "a period of twenty days from May 15, 2000 within which to In the instant case, respondent may have acted in his private capacity when he entered
either completely pay Crown Asia or return the money at your (complainants’) option." into a contract with complainant Marili representing to have the rights to transfer title over
The period lapsed but respondent did not make good his promise to pay Crown Asia in the townhouse unit and lot in question. When he failed in his undertaking, respondent fell
full, or return the amount paid by complainants. short of his duty under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It
cannot be gainsaid that it was unlawful for respondent to transfer property over which
On February 21, 2002, complainants’ counsel sent respondent a second one has no legal right of ownership. Respondent was likewise guilty of dishonest and
letter5 demanding the return of the amount of P937,500.00, including legal interest, for deceitful conduct when he concealed this lack of right from complainants. He did not
failing to comply with his promise. The demand was unheeded. inform the complainants that he has not yet paid in full the price of the subject townhouse
unit and lot, and, therefore, he had no right to sell, transfer or assign said property at the
Hence, this administrative complaint6 that respondent engaged in unlawful, dishonest, time of the execution of the Deed of Assignment. His acceptance of the bulk of the
immoral or deceitful conduct. Allegedly, respondent violated his oath under Rule 1.01, purchase price amounting to Nine Hundred Thirty-Seven Thousand Five Hundred Pesos
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and he ought to be disbarred or (P937,500.00), despite knowing he was not entitled to it, made matters worse for him.
suspended from the practice of law.
Respondent’s adamant refusal to return to complainant Marili Ronquillo the money she
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, paid him, which was the fruit of her labor as an Overseas Filipino Worker for ten (10)
to whom the instant disciplinary case was assigned for investigation, report and years, is morally reprehensible. By his actuations, respondent failed to live up to the strict
recommendation, found respondent guilty of dishonest and deceitful conduct proscribed standard of morality required by the Code of Professional Responsibility and violated the
under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. In her Report dated trust and respect reposed in him as a member of the Bar, and an officer of the court.
October 9, 2003, she recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of
law for a period of three (3) years. The IBP Board of Governors, through Resolution No. Respondent’s culpability is therefore clear. He received a letter from complainants’
XVI-2003-226, dated October 25, 2003, approved the recommendation of Commissioner counsel demanding the execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of the
San Juan. complainants, or, in the alternative, the return of the money paid by complainants. In
reply to said letter, respondent acknowledged his obligation, and promised to settle the IN VIEW WHEREOF, respondent Atty. Homobono T. Cezar is SUSPENDED from the
same if given sufficient time, thus: practice of law for a period of THREE (3) YEARS, effective immediately. Let a copy of
this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the
xxx Philippines, and all courts for their information and guidance.

I am working now on a private project which hopefully will be realized not long from now
but I need a little time to fix some things over. May I please request for a period of 20
days from May 15, 2000 within which to either completely pay Crown Asia or return the A.C. No. 6408 August 31, 2004
money at your option. (Emphasis supplied)
ISIDRA BARRIENTOS, complainant,
In no uncertain terms, respondent admitted not having full ownership over the subject vs.
townhouse unit and lot, as he has yet to completely pay Crown Asia. Respondent even ATTY. ELERIZZA A. LIBIRAN-METEORO, respondent.
failed to produce the Contract to Sell he allegedly executed with Crown Asia over the
subject unit, which would show the extent of his right of ownership, if any, over the
townhouse unit and lot in question.

To be sure, complainants gave respondent sufficient time to fulfill his obligation. It was
only after almost two years had passed, after respondent promised to pay Crown Asia or RESOLUTION
return to complainants the amount they paid him, that complainants sent respondent a
second letter8 demanding solely the return of the amount of P937,500.00, including legal
interest. By this time, it was indubitable that respondent would not be able to perform his
end of their agreement.
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
The practice of law is not a right but a privilege. It is granted only to those of good moral
character.9 The Bar must maintain a high standard of honesty and fair dealing.10 Lawyers Before this Court is a complaint for disbarment filed against Atty. Elerizza A. Libiran-
must conduct themselves beyond reproach at all times, whether they are dealing with Meteoro for deceit and non-payment of debts.
their clients or the public at large,11 and a violation of the high moral standards of the
legal profession justifies the imposition of the appropriate penalty, including suspension A letter-complaint dated May 21, 2001 was filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and disbarment.12 (IBP) under the names of Isidra Barrientos and Olivia C. Mercado, which was signed,
however, by Isidra only. It states that: sometime in September of 2000, respondent
Be that as it may, we cannot grant complainants’ prayer that respondent be directed to issued several Equitable PCIBank Checks in favor of both Isidra and Olivia, amounting
return the money he received from them in the amount of P937,500.00. Disciplinary to P67,000.00, and in favor of Olivia, totaling P234,000.00, for the payment of a pre-
proceedings against lawyers do not involve a trial of an action, but rather investigations existing debt; the checks bounced due to insufficient funds thus charges for violation of
by the court into the conduct of one of its officers. The only question for determination in B.P. 22 were filed by Isidra and Olivia with the City Prosecutor of Cabanatuan;
these proceedings is whether or not the attorney is still fit to be allowed to continue as a respondent sent text messages to complainants asking for the deferment of the criminal
member of the Bar.13 Thus, this Court cannot rule on the issue of the amount of money charges with the promise that she will pay her debt; respondent however failed to fulfill
that should be returned to the complainants. said promise; on May 16, 2001, respondent, through her sister-in-law, tried to give
complainants a title for a parcel of land in exchange for the bounced checks which were 3. That I was the one who transacted with Atty. Elerizza L. Meteoro and not my
in the possession of complainants; the title covered an area of 5,000 square meters co-complainant Isidra Barrientos;
located at Bantug, La Torre, Talavera, Nueva Ecija, registered in the name of Victoria
Villamar which was allegedly paid to respondent by a client; complainants checked the 4. That all the pieces of jewelry were taken from me by Atty. Elerizza L. Meteoro
property and discovered that the land belonged to a certain Dra. Helen Garcia, the sole and the corresponding checks were given to Isidra Barrientos through me;
heir of Victoria Villamar, who merely entrusted said title to respondent pursuant to a
transaction with the Quedancor; complainants tried to get in touch with respondent over 5. That my name was indicated as co-complainant in a letter-complaint filed by
the phone but the latter was always unavailable, thus the present complaint.1 Ms. Isidra Barrientos against Atty. Elerizza L. Meteoro but I am not interested in
pursuing the complaint against Atty. Elerizza L. Meteoro since the complaint was
On July 13, 2001, in compliance with the Order2 of the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline brought about by a case of some mistakes in the records;
(CBD), respondent filed her Answer alleging that: she issued several Equitable PCIBank
checks amounting to P234,000.00 in favor of Olivia but not to Isidra; said checks were 6. That I, together with Isidra Barrientos had already signed an affidavit of
issued in payment of a pre-existing obligation but said amount had already been paid desistance and submitted the same before the Municipal Trial Court Branch III of
and replaced with new checks; Isidra signed a document attesting to the fact that the Cabanatuan City w(h)ere Criminal Case Nos. 77851 to 56 for violation of BP 22
subject of her letter-complaint no longer exists;3 she also issued in favor of Olivia several were filed against Atty. Meteoro;
Equitable PCIBank checks amounting to P67,000.00 for the payment of a pre-existing
obligation; the checks which were the subject of the complaint filed at the City
7. That with respect to I.S. nos. 03-01-1356 to 1361 the case was not filed in
Prosecutor’s Office in Cabanatuan City are already in the possession of respondent and
court and I have also executed an affidavit of desistance for said complaint;
the criminal case filed by complainants before the Municipal Trial Court of Cabanatuan
City Branch 3 was already dismissed; the Informations for Violation of B.P. 22 under I.S.
Nos. 01-14090-034 were never filed in court; Olivia already signed an affidavit of 8. That I am executing this affidavit to attest to the truth of all the foregoing and to
desistance; respondent did not send text messages to Isidra and Olivia asking for prove that I have no cause of action against Atty. Elerizza L. Meteoro.6
deferment of the criminal complaints neither did she present any title in exchange for her
bounced checks; she never transacted with Isidra since all dealings were made with On August 9, 2001, the IBP-CBD issued a Notice of Hearing requiring both parties to
Olivia; and the present complaint was initiated by Isidra only because she had a appear before it on September 6, 2001. On said date, both parties appeared and agreed
misunderstanding with Olivia and she wants to extract money from respondent.5 to settle their misunderstanding.7

Attached to said Answer is an affidavit signed by Olivia C. Mercado which states as On November 27, 2001, the parties agreed that the balance of P134,000.00 which
follows: respondent acknowledged as her indebtedness to complainant will be settled on a
staggered basis. Another hearing was then set for February 5, 2002. Respondent failed
1. That I am one of the complainants for the Disbarment of Atty. Elerizza Libiran- to appear in said hearing despite due notice. It was then reset to February 28, 2002 with
Meteoro filed before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines National Office in Pasig the order that should respondent fail to appear, the case shall already be submitted for
City, Philippines docketed as CBD case no. 01-840; resolution.8

2. That the filing of the said complaint before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Respondent appeared in the next two hearings. However, this time, it was complainant
was brought about by some misunderstanding and error in the accounting of the who was unavailable. In the hearing of July 31, 2002, respondent was absent and was
records of the account of Atty. Elerizza L. Meteoro; warned again that should she fail to appear in the next hearing, the Commissioner shall
resolve the case. On said date, respondent did not appear despite due notice.9
On August 1, 2002, respondent filed with the Commission a motion for reconsideration of any satisfactory explanation for, nor has she controverted the complainant’s
the July 31 order stating that: she got sick a few days before the scheduled hearing; she charge that she (respondent) had tried to negotiate a transfer certificate of title
had already paid complainant the amount of P64,000.00; in March of 2002, respondent’s (TCT) which had been entrusted by a certain Dra. Helen Garcia to her relative to
father was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Santo Tomas Hospital a transaction which the former had with the Quedancor where respondent was
thus she was not able to settle her remaining balance as planned; and because of said formerly employed. Based on all the foregoing findings and the deliberate failure
emergency, respondent was not able to fully settle the balance of her debt up to this of the respondent to come forward and settle her accountabilities, inspite of
date. Respondent prayed that she be given another 60 days from August 1,2002 to several warnings given her by the undersigned, and her failure to attend the
finally settle her debt with complainant.10 scheduled hearings despite due notice, this Office is convinced that Atty. Elerizza
Libiran-Meteoro has committed a glaring violation not only of her oath as a
On April 30, 2003, the IBP-CBD issued an order granting respondent’s motion and lawyer but also the dictates of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 which mandates that a worthy
setting aside the order dated July 31, 2002. It noted that while respondent claims that member of the Bar must constantly be of good moral character and unsullied
she already paid complainant P64,000.00, the photocopies of the receipts she submitted honesty.14
evidencing payment amount only to P45,000.00.11 A hearing was then set for May 28,
2003 at which time respondent was directed to present proof of her payments to the He then recommended that Atty. Elerizza A. Libiran-Meteoro be suspended from the
complainant. The hearing was however reset several times until August 20, 2003 at practice of law for two years and meted a fine of twenty thousand pesos.15
which time, only complainant appeared. Respondent sent somebody to ask for a
postponement which the commission denied. The commission gave respondent a last On October 29, 2003, respondent filed another motion for reconsideration stating that:
opportunity to settle her accounts with complainant. The hearing was set for October 7, she was not able to receive the notice for the October 7 hearing because she was in
2003 which the commission said was "intransferrable."12 Bicol attending to pressing personal problems; she only arrived from the province on
October 25, 2003 and it was only then that she got hold of the Order dated October 7;
On October 7, 2003, only complainant appeared. The commission noted that respondent from the very beginning, respondent never intended to ignore the Commission’s
was duly notified and even personally received the notice for that day’s hearing. The hearings; as much as she wanted to pay complainant in full, the financial crisis which hit
case was thereafter submitted for resolution.13 her family since 2001 has gravely affected her ability to pay; until that day, the expenses
incurred by respondent due to the hospitalization of her father has not been paid in full by
On October 24, 2003, the Investigating IBP Commissioner Renato G. Cunanan her family; the family home of respondent in Cabanatuan has already been foreclosed by
submitted his report pertinent portions of which read as follows: the bank; respondent’s husband has been confined recently due to thyroid problems and
respondent herself had sought medical help on several occasions due to her inability to
The issue to be resolved is whether or not Atty. Elerizza A. Libiran-Meteoro has conceive despite being married for more than five years; if not for said reasons,
committed a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. This Office respondent could have already paid the complainant despite respondent’s knowledge
holds that she has. More particularly, the respondent, by initially and vehemently that the amount complainant wanted to collect from her is merely the interest of her debt
denying her indebtedness to herein complainant and then subsequently admitting since she already returned most of the pieces of jewelry she purchased and she already
liability by proposing a staggered settlement has displayed a glaring flaw in her paid for those that she was not able to return. Respondent prays that the resolution of
integrity. She has shown herself to possess poor moral characters. In her motion the case be deferred and that she be given another 90 days from said date or until
for reconsideration, seeking the reopening of this case, the respondent made a January 19, 2003 to settle whatever balance remains after proper accounting and
false assertion that she had settled up to P64,000.00 of her indebtedness but the presentation of receipts.16
receipts she submitted total only P50,000.00. What is more disconcerting is that
while she is aware and duly notified of the settings of this Office respondent has On February 27, 2004, the Board of Governors of the IBP passed a resolution as follows:
seemingly ignored the same deliberately. Finally, the respondent has not offered
RESOLUTION NO. XVI-2003-67 In this case, respondent in her answer initially tried to deny having any obligation towards
Isidra Barrientos. Upon appearing before the IBP-CBD, however, respondent eventually
CBD Case No. 01-840 acknowledged her indebtedness to Isidra in the amount of P134,000.00, promising only
to pay in a staggered basis. Her attempt to evade her financial obligation runs counter to
Isidra Barrientos vs. Atty. Elerizza A. Libiran-Meteoro the precepts of the Code of Professional Responsibility, above quoted, and violates the
lawyer’s oath which imposes upon every member of the bar the duty to delay no man for
money or malice.21
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as After respondent acknowledged her debt to complainant, she committed herself to the
Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on payment thereof. Yet she failed many times to fulfill said promise. She did not appear in
record and the applicable laws and rules, with modification, and considering most of the hearings and merely submitted a motion for reconsideration on August 1,
respondent’s glaring violation not only of her oath as a lawyer but of Rule 1.01, 2002 after the IBP-CBD Commissioner had already submitted the case for resolution.
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Elerizza A. Libiran- She claimed that she got sick days before the hearing and asked for sixty days to finally
Meteoro is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months settle her account. Again, she failed to fulfill her promise and did not appear before the
and Restitution of P84,000.00 to complainant.17 Commission in the succeeding hearings despite due notice. After the case was
submitted anew for resolution on October 6, 2003, respondent filed another motion for
reconsideration, this time saying that she was in the province attending to personal
We agree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP except as to the alleged
matters. Again she asked for another ninety days to settle her entire debt. This repeated
matter of respondent offering a transfer certificate of title to complainants in exchange for
failure on her part to fulfill her promise puts in question her integrity and moral character.
the bounced checks that were in their possession.
Her failure to attend most of the hearings called by the commission and her belated
pleas for reconsideration also manifest her propensity to delay the resolution of the case
We have held that deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless and to make full use of the mechanisms of administrative proceedings to her benefit.
checks constitute gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with
suspension from the practice of law.18 Lawyers are instruments for the administration of
She also could not deny that she issued several checks without sufficient funds, which
justice and vanguards of our legal system. They are expected to maintain not only legal
prompted Isidra and Olivia to file complaints before the prosecutor’s office in Cabanatuan
proficiency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing so that
City. Her only excuse is that she was able to replace said checks and make
the people’s faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured.19 They must at all
arrangements for the payment of her debt, which led to the dismissal of the criminal
times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, the courts and to their clients,
complaints against her.
which include prompt payment of financial obligations. They must conduct themselves in
a manner that reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the
Code of Professional Responsibility.20 Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 explicitly states that: We have held that the issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been
drawn against a closed account indicates a lawyer’s unfitness for the trust and
confidence reposed on her. It shows a lack of personal honesty and good moral
CANON 1 -- A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and
character as to render her unworthy of public confidence.22 The issuance of a series of
promote respect for law and for legal processes.
worthless checks also shows the remorseless attitude of respondent, unmindful to the
deleterious effects of such act to the public interest and public order.23 It also manifests a
Rule 1.01 -- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or lawyer’s low regard to her commitment to the oath she has taken when she joined her
deceitful conduct. peers, seriously and irreparably tarnishing the image of the profession she should hold in
high esteem.24
Mere issuance of worthless checks by a lawyer, regardless of whether or not the same knowledge regarding such matter and no further discussion was made on the matter, not
were issued in his professional capacity to a client, calls for appropriate disciplinary even in the hearings before the commission.29 For this reason, we hold that respondent
measures. As we explained in Co vs. Bernardino:25 should not be held liable for the alleged negotiation of a TCT to complainants for lack of
sufficient evidence, but only for the non-payment of debts and the issuance of worthless
The general rule is that a lawyer may not be suspended or disbarred, and the checks which were sufficiently proved and which respondent herself admitted.
court may not ordinarily assume jurisdiction to discipline him for misconduct in his
non-professional or private capacity. Where, however, the misconduct outside of We reiterate that membership in the legal profession is a privilege and demands a high
the lawyer’s professional dealings is so gross a character as to show him morally degree of good moral character, not only as a condition precedent to admission, but also
unfit for the office and unworthy of the privilege which his licenses and the law as a continuing requirement for the practice of law.30
confer on him, the court may be justified in suspending or removing him from the
office of attorney. Accordingly, administrative sanction is warranted by respondent’s misconduct. The IBP
Board of Governors recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of
The evidence on record clearly shows respondent’s propensity to issue bad law for six months. In Lao vs. Medel,31 which also involved non-payment of debt and
checks. This gross misconduct on his part, though not related to his professional issuance of worthless checks, the Court held that suspension from the practice of law for
duties as a member of the bar, puts his moral character in serious one year was appropriate. Unlike in the Lao case however, respondent is this case paid
doubt…26 (Citations omitted). a portion of her debt, as evidenced by receipts amounting to P50,000.00. Thus we deem
that six months suspension from the practice of law and the restitution of P84,000.00 to
She also claims that her father was hospitalized in March 2002 and that she and her complainant Isidra Barrientos would be sufficient in this case.
husband also had to seek medical help which greatly affected her ability to pay. She
however did not present any proof to substantiate such claims. She also did not appear WHEREFORE, Atty. Elerizza A. Libiran-Meteoro is found guilty of gross misconduct and
personally before the complainant and the commission, in spite of the many opportunities is hereby SUSPENDED for six months from the practice of law, effective upon her
given her, to make arrangements for the payment of her debt considering the receipt of this Decision, and is ordered to pay complainant Isidra Barrientos the amount
circumstances that befell her family. Instead, she waited until the case was submitted for of P84,000.00, as balance of her debt to the latter, plus 6% interest from date of finality
resolution to allege such facts, without presenting any proof therefor. of herein decision.

We cannot uphold the IBP in finding that since respondent has not offered any Let copies of this Resolution be entered in the record of respondent and served on the
explanation for, nor has she controverted the complainants’ charge that she tried to IBP as well as the court administrator who shall circulate herein Resolution to all courts
negotiate with them a transfer certificate of title that had been entrusted to her by a client, for their information and guidance.
she should be held liable therefor. Basic is the principle that if the complainant, upon
whom rests the burden of proving her cause of action, fails to show in a satisfactory
manner the facts upon which she bases her claim, the respondent is under no obligation
to prove her exception or defense.27 Simply put, the burden is not on the respondent to
prove her innocence but on the complainants to prove her guilt. In this case,
complainants submitted a photocopy of a TCT in the name of Victoria Villamar together
with their letter-complaint, which according to complainants was the title respondent
tried, through her sister-in-law, to negotiate with them in exchange for the bounced
checks in their possession.28 No other evidence or sworn statement was submitted in
support of such allegation. Respondent in her answer, meanwhile, denied having any
A.C. No. 7136 August 1, 2007 to the conjugal house and hauled off all her personal belongings, pieces of furniture, and
her share of the household appliances.
JOSELANO GUEVARRA, complainant,
vs. Complainant later found, in the master's bedroom, a folded social card bearing the words
ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, respondent. "I Love You" on its face, which card when unfolded contained a handwritten letter dated
October 7, 2000, the day of his wedding to Irene, reading:
DECISION
My everdearest Irene,
PER CURIAM:
By the time you open this, you'll be moments away from walking down the aisle. I
Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4, 2002 a Complaint for will say a prayer for you that you may find meaning in what you're about to do.
Disbarment1 before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar
Discipline (CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala a.k.a. Noli Eala (respondent) for Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me to find fleeting happiness
"grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyer's oath." but experience eternal pain? Is it only for us to find a true love but then lose it
again? Or is it because there's a bigger plan for the two of us?
In his complaint, Guevarra gave the following account:
I hope that you have experienced true happiness with me. I have done
He first met respondent in January 2000 when his (complainant's) then-fiancee Irene everything humanly possible to love you. And today, as you make your vows . . .
Moje (Irene) introduced respondent to him as her friend who was married to Marianne I make my own vow to YOU!
(sometimes spelled "Mary Ann") Tantoco with whom he had three children.
I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you from the first time I laid eyes on
After his marriage to Irene on October 7, 2000, complainant noticed that from January to you, to the time we spent together, up to the final moments of your single life. But
March 2001, Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone calls, as well as more importantly, I will love you until the life in me is gone and until we are
messages some of which read "I love you," "I miss you," or "Meet you at Megamall." together again.

Complainant also noticed that Irene habitually went home very late at night or early in the Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I have enough memories of us to
morning of the following day, and sometimes did not go home from work. When he asked last me a lifetime. Always remember though that in my heart, in my mind and in
about her whereabouts, she replied that she slept at her parents' house in Binangonan, my soul, YOU WILL ALWAYS
Rizal or she was busy with her work.
. . . AND THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO!
In February or March 2001, complainant saw Irene and respondent together on two
occasions. On the second occasion, he confronted them following which Irene BE MINE . . . . AND MINE ALONE, and I WILL ALWAYS BE YOURS AND
abandoned the conjugal house. YOURS ALONE!

On April 22, 2001, complainant went uninvited to Irene's birthday celebration at which he I LOVE YOU FOREVER, I LOVE YOU FOR ALWAYS. AS LONG AS I'M LIVING
saw her and respondent celebrating with her family and friends. Out of embarrassment, MY TWEETIE YOU'LL BE!"2
anger and humiliation, he left the venue immediately. Following that incident, Irene went
Eternally yours, 15. Respondent's adulterous conduct with the complainant's wife and his
NOLI apparent abandoning or neglecting of his own family, demonstrate his gross
moral depravity, making him morally unfit to keep his membership in the bar.
He flaunted his aversion to the institution of marriage, calling it a "piece of paper."
Complainant soon saw respondent's car and that of Irene constantly parked at No. 71-B Morally reprehensible was his writing the love letter to complainant's bride on the
11th Street, New Manila where, as he was to later learn sometime in April 2001, Irene very day of her wedding, vowing to continue his love for her "until we are together
was already residing. He also learned still later that when his friends saw Irene on or again," as now they are.6 (Underscoring supplied),
about January 18, 2002 together with respondent during a concert, she was pregnant.
respondent stated in his ANSWER as follows:
In his ANSWER,3 respondent admitted having sent the I LOVE YOU card on which the
above-quoted letter was handwritten. 5. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 15 of the
Complaint regarding his adulterousrelationship and that his acts demonstrate
On paragraph 14 of the COMPLAINT reading: gross moral depravity thereby making him unfit to keep his membership in the
bar, the reason being that Respondent's relationship with Irene was not under
14. Respondent and Irene were even FLAUNTING THEIR ADULTEROUS scandalous circumstances and that as far as his relationship with his own
RELATIONSHIP as they attended social functions together. For instance, in or family:
about the third week of September 2001, the couple attended the launch of the
"Wine All You Can" promotion of French wines, held at the Mega Strip of SM 5.1 Respondent has maintained a civil, cordial and peaceful relationship with [his
Megamall B at Mandaluyong City. Their attendance was reported in Section B of wife] Mary Anne as in fact they still occasionally meet in public, even if Mary
the Manila Standard issue of 24 September 2001, on page 21. Respondent and Anne is aware of Respondent's special friendship with Irene.
Irene were photographed together; their picture was captioned: "Irene with
Sportscaster Noli Eala." A photocopy of the report is attached as Annex xxxx
C.4 (Italics and emphasis in the original; CAPITALIZATION of the phrase
"flaunting their adulterous relationship" supplied), 5.5 Respondent also denies that he has flaunted his aversion to the institution of
marriage by calling the institution of marriage a mere piece of paper because his
respondent, in his ANSWER, stated: reference [in his above-quoted handwritten letter to Irene] to the marriage
between Complainant and Irene as a piece of paper was merely with respect to
4. Respondent specifically denies having ever flaunted an adulterous the formality of the marriage contract.7 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the truth of
the matter being that their relationship was low profile and known only to the Respondent admitted8 paragraph 18 of the COMPLAINT reading:
immediate members of their respective families, and that Respondent, as far
as the general public was concerned, was still known to be legally married to 18. The Rules of Court requires lawyers to support the Constitution and obey the
Mary Anne Tantoco.5 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) laws. The Constitution regards marriage as an inviolable social institution and is
the foundation of the family (Article XV, Sec. 2).9
On paragraph 15 of the COMPLAINT reading:
And on paragraph 19 of the COMPLAINT reading:
19. Respondent's grossly immoral conduct runs afoul of the Constitution and The Commissioner thus recommended19 that respondent be disbarred for violating Rule
the laws he, as a lawyer, has been sworn to uphold. In pursuing obsessively 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility reading:
his illicit love for the complainant's wife, he mocked the institution of marriage,
betrayed his own family, broke up the complainant's marriage, commits adultery Rule 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
with his wife, and degrades the legal profession.10 (Emphasis and underscoring deceitful conduct (Underscoring supplied),
supplied),
and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code reading:
respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:
Rule 7.03: A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his
7. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
Complaint, the reason being that under the circumstances the acts of scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. (Underscoring
Respondent with respect to his purely personal and low profile special supplied)
relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor
tantamount to grossly immoral conduct as would be a ground for The IBP Board of Governors, however, annulled and set aside the Recommendation of
disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.11 (Emphasis the Investigating Commissioner and accordingly dismissed the case for lack of merit, by
and underscoring supplied) Resolution dated January 28, 2006 briefly reading:

To respondent's ANSWER, complainant filed a REPLY,12 alleging that Irene gave birth to RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2006-06
a girl and Irene named respondent in the Certificate of Live Birth as the girl's father.
Complainant attached to the Reply, as Annex "A," a copy of a Certificate of Live
CBD Case No. 02-936
Birth13 bearing Irene's signature and naming respondent as the father of her daughter
Joselano C. Guevarra vs.
Samantha Irene Louise Moje who was born on February 14, 2002 at St. Luke's Hospital.
Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala
a.k.a. Noli Eala
Complainant's REPLY merited a REJOINDER WITH MOTION TO DISMISS14 dated
January 10, 2003 from respondent in which he denied having "personal knowledge of the
RESOLVED to ANNUL and SET ASIDE, as it is hereby ANNULLED AND SET
Certificate of Live Birth attached to the complainant's Reply."15 Respondent moved to
ASIDE, the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and to
dismiss the complaint due to the pendency of a civil case filed by complainant for the
APPROVE the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled case for lack of merit.20 (Italics
annulment of his marriage to Irene, and a criminal complaint for adultery against
and emphasis in the original)
respondent and Irene which was pending before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office.
Hence, the present petition21 of complainant before this Court, filed pursuant to Section
During the investigation before the IBP-CBD, complainant's Complaint-Affidavit and
12 (c), Rule 13922 of the Rules of Court.
Reply to Answer were adopted as his testimony on direct examination.16 Respondent's
counsel did not cross-examine complainant.17
The petition is impressed with merit.
After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, in a 12-
page REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION18 dated October 26, 2004, found the charge Oddly enough, the IBP Board of Governors, in setting aside the Recommendation of the
against respondent sufficiently proven. Investigating Commissioner and dismissing the case for lack of merit, gave no reason
therefor as its above-quoted 33-word Resolution shows.
Respondent contends, in his Comment23 on the present petition of complainant, that a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her, knowing her to
there is no evidence against him.24 The contention fails. As the IBP-CBD Investigating be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void."26 (Italics supplied) What
Commissioner observed: respondent denies is having flaunted such relationship, he maintaining that it was "low
profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families."
While it may be true that the love letter dated October 7, 2000 (Exh. "C") and the
news item published in the Manila Standard (Exh. "D"), even taken together do In other words, respondent's denial is a negative pregnant,
not sufficiently prove that respondent is carrying on an adulterous relationship
with complainant's wife, there are other pieces of evidence on record which a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial facts in the pleading
support the accusation of complainant against respondent. responded to which are not squarely denied. It was in effect an admission of the
averments it was directed at. Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a form of
It should be noted that in his Answer dated 17 October 2002, respondent negative expression which carries with it in affirmation or at least an implication
through counsel made the following statements to wit: "Respondent of some kind favorable to the adverse party. It is a denial pregnant with an
specifically denies having [ever] flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene as admission of the substantial facts alleged in the pleading. Where a fact is alleged
alleged in paragraph [14] of the Complaint, the truth of the matter being with qualifying or modifying language and the words of the allegation as so
[that] their relationship was low profile and known only to immediate members of qualified or modified are literally denied, it has been held that the qualifying
their respective families . . . , and Respondent specifically denies the allegations circumstances alone are denied while the fact itself is admitted.27 (Citations
in paragraph 19 of the complaint, the reason being that under the circumstances omitted; emphasis and underscoring supplied)
the acts of the respondents with respect to his purely personal and low profile
relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount A negative pregnant too is respondent's denial of having "personal knowledge" of Irene's
to grossly immoral conduct . . ." daughter Samantha Louise Irene Moje's Certificate of Live Birth. In said certificate, Irene
named respondent – a "lawyer," 38 years old – as the child's father. And the phrase
These statements of respondent in his Answer are an admission that there "NOT MARRIED" is entered on the desired information on "DATE AND PLACE OF
is indeed a "special" relationship between him and complainant's wife, MARRIAGE." A comparison of the signature attributed to Irene in the certificate28 with her
Irene, [which] taken together with the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha signature on the Marriage Certificate29 shows that they were affixed by one and the same
Louise Irene Moje (Annex "H-1") sufficiently prove that there was indeed an person. Notatu dignum is that, as the Investigating Commissioner noted, respondent
illicit relationship between respondent and Irene which resulted in the birth of never denied being the father of the child.
the child "Samantha". In the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha it should be
noted that complainant's wife Irene supplied the information that Franklin A. Ricafort, the records custodian of St. Luke's Medical Center, in his January
respondent was the father of the child. Given the fact that the respondent 29, 2003 Affidavit30 which he identified at the witness stand, declared that Irene gave the
admitted his special relationship with Irene there is no reason to believe that information in the Certificate of Live Birth that the child's father is "Jose Emmanuel
Irene would lie or make any misrepresentation regarding the paternity of Masacaet Eala," who was 38 years old and a lawyer.31
the child. It should be underscored that respondent has not categorically
denied that he is the father of Samantha Louise Irene Moje.25 (Emphasis and Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between respondent and Irene has been
underscoring supplied) sufficiently proven by more than clearly preponderant evidence – that evidence adduced
by one party which is more conclusive and credible than that of the other party and,
Indeed, from respondent's Answer, he does not deny carrying on an adulterous therefore, has greater weight than the other32 – which is the quantum of evidence needed
relationship with Irene, "adultery" being defined under Art. 333 of the Revised Penal in an administrative case against a lawyer.
Code as that "committed by any married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with
Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct ART. 334. Concubinage. - Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the
from and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases. conjugal dwelling, or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous
circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any
. . . of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal case, proof beyond other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium
reasonable doubt is necessary; in an administrative case for disbarment or periods.
suspension, "clearly preponderant evidence" is all that is required.33 (Emphasis
supplied) x x x x,

Respondent insists, however, that disbarment does not lie because his relationship with an element of the crime of concubinage when a married man has sexual intercourse with
Irene was not, under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, reading: a woman elsewhere.

SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds "Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of
therefor. ─ A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office marriage should be characterized as 'grossly immoral conduct' depends on the
as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross surrounding circumstances."35 The case at bar involves a relationship between a married
misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his lawyer and a married woman who is not his wife. It is immaterial whether the affair was
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath carried out discreetly. Apropos is the following pronouncement of this Court in Vitug v.
which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful Rongcal:36
disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so
to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extra-
personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. marital affair with complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not "so
corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be
The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a competent reprehensible to a high degree" in order to merit disciplinary sanction. We
court or other disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also disagree.
been admitted as an attorney is a ground for his disbarment or suspension if the
basis of such action includes any of the acts hereinabove enumerated. xxxx

The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall While it has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations
be prima facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension (Emphasis between two unmarriedadults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction
and underscoring supplied), for such illicit behavior, it is not so with respect to betrayals of the marital vow
of fidelity. Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under
under scandalous circumstances.34 penal law, sexual relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and
immoral as it manifests deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and
The immediately-quoted Rule which provides the grounds for disbarment or suspension the marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our
uses the phrase "grossly immoral conduct," not "under scandalous circumstances." laws.37 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances is, following Article 334 of the
Revised Penal Code reading: And so is the pronouncement in Tucay v. Atty. Tucay:38
The Court need not delve into the question of whether or not the respondent did dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct," and Rule 7.03 of Canon7 of the same Code
contract a bigamous marriage . . . It is enough that the records of this which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in any "conduct that adversely reflects on his
administrative case substantiate the findings of the Investigating Commissioner, fitness to practice law."
as well as the IBP Board of Governors, i.e., that indeed respondent has
been carrying on an illicit affair with a married woman, a grossly immoral Clutching at straws, respondent, during the pendency of the investigation of the case
conduct and indicative of an extremely low regard for the fundamental before the IBP Commissioner, filed a Manifestation41 on March 22, 2005 informing the
ethics of his profession. This detestable behavior renders him regrettably IBP-CBD that complainant's petition for nullity of his (complainant's) marriage to Irene
unfit and undeserving of the treasured honor and privileges which his had been granted by Branch 106 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, and that the
license confers upon him.39 (Underscoring supplied) criminal complaint for adultery complainant filed against respondent and Irene "based on
the same set of facts alleged in the instant case," which was pending review before the
Respondent in fact also violated the lawyer's oath he took before admission to practice Department of Justice (DOJ), on petition of complainant, had been, on motion of
law which goes: complainant, withdrawn.

I _________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the The Secretary of Justice's Resolution of January 16, 2004 granting complainant's Motion
Philippines, do solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the to Withdraw Petition for Review reads:
Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution andobey the laws as
well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no Considering that the instant motion was filed before the final resolution of the
falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly petition for review, we are inclined to grant the same pursuant to Section 10 of
promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to Department Circular No. 70 dated July 3, 2000, which provides that
the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a "notwithstanding the perfection of the appeal, the petitioner may withdraw the
lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity same at any time before it is finally resolved, in which case the appealed
as well as to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary resolution shall stand as though no appeal has been taken."42 (Emphasis
obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me supplied by complainant)
God. (Underscoring supplied)
That the marriage between complainant and Irene was subsequently declared void ab
Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article XV (The Family) of the initio is immaterial. The acts complained of took place before the marriage was declared
Constitution reading: null and void.43 As a lawyer, respondent should be aware that a man and a woman
deporting themselves as husband and wife are presumed, unless proven otherwise, to
Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.44 In carrying on an extra-marital affair
family and shall be protected by the State. with Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage with complainant was null and
void, and despite respondent himself being married, he showed disrespect for an
In this connection, the Family Code (Executive Order No. 209), which echoes this institution held sacred by the law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer.
constitutional provision, obligates the husband and the wife "to live together, observe
mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support."40 As for complainant's withdrawal of his petition for review before the DOJ, respondent
glaringly omitted to state that before complainant filed his December 23, 2003 Motion to
Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Withdraw his Petition for Review, the DOJ had already promulgated a Resolution
Responsibility which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in "unlawful, on September 22, 2003 reversing the dismissal by the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office
of complainant's complaint for adultery. In reversing the City Prosecutor's Resolution, petition for review. But even if respondent and Irene were to be acquitted of adultery after
DOJ Secretary Simeon Datumanong held: trial, if the Information for adultery were filed in court, the same would not have been a
bar to the present administrative complaint.
Parenthetically the totality of evidence adduced by complainant would, in the fair
estimation of the Department, sufficiently establish all the elements of the offense Citing the ruling in Pangan v. Ramos,46 viz:
of adultery on the part of both respondents. Indeed, early on, respondent Moje
conceded to complainant that she was going out on dates with respondent Eala, x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the criminal charge is not a bar to
and this she did when complainant confronted her about Eala's frequent phone these [administrative] proceedings. The standards of legal profession are not
calls and text messages to her. Complainant also personally witnessed Moje and satisfied by conduct which merely enables one to escape the penalties of x x x
Eala having a rendezvous on two occasions. Respondent Eala never denied the criminal law. Moreover, this Court, in disbarment proceedings is acting in an
fact that he knew Moje to be married to complainant[.] In fact, he (Eala) himself entirely different capacity from that which courts assume in trying criminal
was married to another woman. Moreover, Moje's eventual abandonment of their case47 (Italics in the original),
conjugal home, after complainant had once more confronted her about Eala, only
served to confirm the illicit relationship involving both respondents. This becomes this Court in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pools, Inc. v. Atty. Naldoza,48 held:
all the more apparent by Moje's subsequent relocation in No. 71-B, 11th Street,
New Manila, Quezon City, which was a few blocks away from the church where
Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are
she had exchange marital vows with complainant.
distinct from and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.
It was in this place that the two lovers apparently cohabited. Especially since
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Resolution No. XVII-2006-06 passed on
Eala's vehicle and that of Moje's were always seen there. Moje herself admits
January 28, 2006 by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
that she came to live in the said address whereas Eala asserts that that was
is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
where he held office. The happenstance that it was in that said address that Eala
and Moje had decided to hold office for the firm that both had formed smacks too
much of a coincidence. For one, the said address appears to be a residential Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, is DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct,
house, for that was where Moje stayed all throughout after her separation from violation of his oath of office, and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03
complainant. It was both respondent's love nest, to put short; their illicit affair that of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
was carried out there bore fruit a few months later when Moje gave birth to a
girl at the nearby hospital of St. Luke's Medical Center. What finally militates Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately executory, be made part of the records
against the respondents is the indubitable fact that in the certificate of birth of the of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines. And
girl, Moje furnished the information that Eala was the father. This speaks all too let copies of the Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
eloquently of the unlawful and damning nature of the adulterous acts of the circulated to all courts.
respondents. Complainant's supposed illegal procurement of the birth certificate
is most certainly beside the point for both respondents Eala and Moje have not This Decision takes effect immediately.
denied, in any categorical manner, that Eala is the father of the child
Samantha Irene Louise Moje.45 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

It bears emphasis that adultery is a private offense which cannot be prosecuted de oficio
and thus leaves the DOJ no choice but to grant complainant's motion to withdraw his
A.C. No. 6148 February 27, 2004 Copy of the complaint could not be immediately served upon respondent owing to the
difficulty of locating him.7
FLORENCE TEVES MACARRUBO, the Minors JURIS ALEXIS T. MACARRUBO and
GABRIEL ENRICO T. MACARRUBO as represented by their Mother/Guardian, Complainant later filed a Manifestation8 before the IBP, furnishing therein respondent's
FLORENCE TEVES MACARRUBO, complainant, address where he supposedly resided with his third wife Jo T. Constantino-Macarubbo.
vs. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline thereupon thrice9 required respondent to file his
ATTY. EDMUNDO L. MACARRUBO, respondent. Answer. He failed to do so, however, on motion of complainant,10 he was declared in
default.11 Complainant was thus allowed to present evidence ex parte.
DECISION
The IBP Investigating Commissioner came out with a Report and Recommendation on
PER CURIAM: January 22, 2001.12

Florence Teves Macarrubo (complainant), by herself and on behalf of her two children, By Resolution of May 26, 2001,13 however, the IBP Board of Governors remanded the
filed on June 6, 2000 a verified complaint1 for disbarment against Atty. Edmundo L. case to the Investigating Commissioner to "ensure proper notice or another opportunity
Macarubbo (respondent) with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), docketed as to serve notice to the respondent." Subsequently or on September 5, 2001, respondent
CBD Case No. 00-734-A, alleging that respondent deceived her into marrying him filed a Manifestation/Ex Parte Motion to Re-Open Proceedings14 which was granted.15
despite his prior subsisting marriage with a certain Helen Esparza.
By Comment of October 18, 2001,16 respondent denied employing deception in his
Detailing the circumstances surrounding respondent's complained act, complainant marriage to complainant, insisting instead that complainant was fully aware of his prior
averred that he started courting her in April 1991, he representing himself as a bachelor; subsisting marriage to Helen Esparza, but that she dragged him against his will to a
that they eventually contracted marriage which was celebrated on two occasions "sham wedding" to protect her and her family's reputation since she was then three-
administered by Rev. Rogelio J. Bolivar, the first on December 18, 19912 in the latter's months pregnant.
Manila office, and the second on December 28, 19913 at the Asian Institute of Tourism
Hotel in Quezon City; and that although respondent admitted that he was married to Respondent submitted in evidence the final and executory October 30, 2000 Decision of
Helen Esparza on June 16, 1982, he succeeded in convincing complainant, her family Branch IV of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tuguegarao City in Civil Case No. 5617,
and friends that his previous marriage was void. "Edmundo L. Macarubbo v. Florence J. Teves,"17 declaring his marriage to complainant
void ab initio. He drew attention to the trial court's findings on the basis of his evidence
Complainant further averred that respondent entered into a third marriage with one which was not controverted, that the marriage was indeed "a sham and make believe"
Josephine T. Constantino; and that he abandoned complainant and their children without one, "vitiated by fraud, deceit, force and intimidation, and further exacerbated by the
providing them any regular support up to the present time, leaving them in precarious existence of a legal impediment" and want of a valid marriage license.
living conditions.
Respondent also submitted a certification from the National Statistics Office that
Complainant submitted documentary evidence consisting of the marriage contract complainant's name does not appear in the National Index of Marriages for
between respondent and Helen Esparza4 and that between her and respondent,5 and Bride;18 another certification from the National Statistics Office-Office of Civil Registrar
photographs6 of their (complainant and respondent) nuptials and of captured moments in General that it has no record of the December 28, 1991 marriage of complainant and
their life as a couple and a family. respondent;19 and an attestation from the Office of the Municipal Civil Registrar of
Bacoor, Cavite that Marriage License No. 772176221 which was used in complainant Stressing that he had always been the victim in his marital relations, respondent invoked
and respondent's marriage is not on file in its records.20 the final and executory August 21, 1998 Decision of Branch 158 of the Pasig City RTC in
JDRC Case No. 4320, "Edmundo L. Macarubbo v. Helen C. Esparza,"33 declaring his first
Admitting having sired complainant's two children, Juris Alexis and Gabriel Enrico, marriage void on the ground of his wife's psychological incapacity.
respondent denied ever abandoning them.
After hearing during which both complainant and respondent took the witness stand, the
In his Supplemental Comment, respondent claimed that he left complainant and their
21 Investigating Commissioner rendered a Report and Recommendation34 the dispositive
two children with her consent after explaining to her that the pain and shame of living in portion of which reads:
sin and ridicule was unbearable.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is recommended that respondent Atty.
To refute the charge that he had abandoned complainant and their two children, he Edmundo L. Macarrubo be SUSPENDED FOR THREE MONTHS for gross
presented copies of fully paid educational plans22 for the high school and college misconduct reflecting unfavorably on the moral norms of the profession.
education of the children; a Philippine National Bank check dated January 18, 1999 for Moreover, it must likewise be impressed on respondent that he should comply
P22,556.33 representing his payment of the final amortization of his car which has been with the moral and legal obligations incumbent upon him as a father of the
in complainant's possession since 1997;23 a copy of a petition of complainant in a civil children as a result of his relationship with complainant. (Underscoring supplied)
case filed against respondent with the Quezon City RTC, for judicial authorization to sell
certain properties of respondent, wherein she admitted that respondent issued three The IBP Board of Governors subsequently passed Resolution No. XV-2003-35135 which
postdated checks in the amount of P2,000.00 each for his children's allowance covering adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
the period October 1999 to December 1999;24 and copy of his August 9, 1999 letter to Commissioner.
complainant demanding custody of his children, he having been barred from seeing
them, as well as the return of his personal properties in complainant's possession.25 The final disposition of the present administrative case is now before this Court.

To disprove that he is of depraved moral character, respondent submitted certifications It appears that respondent began his legal career in 1986 as Legal Officer of the
from the Office of the Bar Confidant,26 Office of the Ombudsman,27 Department of Department of Education, Culture and Sports after which he became Supervising Civil
Justice,28 and the Philippine National Police in his hometown in Enrile, Cagayan29 that he Service Attorney of the Civil Service Commission.36He later became an Ombudsman
has no cases of any nature pending with them. And he too submitted letters from the Graft Investigation Officer, then a State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice, before
Department of Interior and Local Government30 and the Metro Manila Development finally bowing out of public service after about 14 years or in July 2000 to engage in
Authority31addressed to him to show that he is a civic-spirited person. private practice.37

Finally, respondent, in his Supplemental Comment, raised the additional defenses that The rule that a lawyer may be disciplined or suspended for any misconduct, whether in
the judicial decree of annulment of his marriage to complainant is res judicata upon the his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in
present administrative case; that complainant is in estoppel for admitting her status as honesty, in probity and good demeanor, thus rendering him unworthy to continue as an
mere live-in partner to respondent in her letter to Josephine T. Constantino;32 and that officer of the court38 bears reiterating.
she resorted to forum-shopping in bringing both this administrative action and the civil
case with the Quezon City RTC. Upon the evidence on record, respondent is indeed guilty of gross misconduct in his
private affairs which warrant disciplinary action by this Court as the guardian of the purity
and integrity of the legal profession.
The incontrovertible facts show that while respondent had a subsisting marriage with Q: And is it correct for me to say that you did not file any case before the
Helen Esparza with whom he had two children,39 he entered into a second marriage with Prosecutor's Office.
complainant.
A: I reported that matter to the police.
While the marriage between complainant and respondent has been annulled by final
judgment, this does not cleanse his conduct of every tinge of impropriety. He and COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION -
complainant started living as husband and wife in December 1991 when his first
marriage was still subsisting, as it was only on August 21, 1998 that such first marriage Q: In what way did M[s]. Florence Teves coerce you?
was annulled, rendering him liable for concubinage.40 Such conduct is inconsistent with
the good moral character that is required for the continued right to practice law as a
A: She placed me in a place where she could guard me and she treated (sic) to
member of the Philippine bar.41 It imports moral turpitude and is a public assault upon the
sue me, destroy my career. And at the time of the marriage she sent people to
basic social institution of marriage.42
fetch me from my place to be there. And there are a lot of people with strange
faces.
Even assuming arguendo that respondent was coerced by complainant to marry her, the
duress, by his own admission as the following transcript of his testimony reflects, ceased
ATTY. PAGUIA -
after their wedding day, respondent having freely cohabited with her and even begot a
second child by her.
Q: How many days or hours did this coercion last?
xxx
A: That's continuing.
ATTY. PAGUIA [Complainant's Counsel]
Q: From what day to what day?
Q: Are you claiming that the complainant coerced you again to marry her?
A: It's started when she said she was pregnant until the date of the alleged
marriage.
A: Yes, I was.
Q: Can you tell the Honorable Commission who got her pregnant at that time?
Q: Did she use a gun to coerce you?
A: Although there was a carnal knowledge once.
A: A lot of people appearing around and a lot of bad mouth from her, threats to
sue me and to even kill me by people around.
Q: Of course you know that the complainant delivered the child after your
marriage, is it not?
Q: So insofar as you are concerned the complainant committed a crime of
coercion against yourself?
A: Yes, six months after because she was already pregnant three months during
that time already.
A: Yes.
Q: Can you tell the Honorable Commission what is the name of the child was Q: When you say intermittently you don't stay there?
(sic)?
A: Not permanently.
A: Juris. I recognized the children. There's no problem about that. I gave them
educational plan, I gave them support. ATTY. PAGUIA -

Q: After the first child you continued living with the complainant, is it not? Q: How often did you come home to the residence of the complainant?

A: Intermittently I get out and then she would call pagka't may sakit yong A: Whenever she call that the child is sick.
bata so I have to go back.
Q: So you live (sic) with her up to what year?
Q: Of course it was your responsibility as father to the child to see the condition
of the child? A: Intermittently 1995.

A: Yes, that's why whenever she comes and tells me that the child is sick I go Q: You mentioned that you have two children with the complainant?
there.
A: Yes.
Q: After your wedding with the complainant can you tell the Honorable
Commission where you resided?
Q: Can you remember when your second child with the complainant was born?
COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION -
A: I cannot remember.
Q: When you say where you resided, both of them?
Q: Do you know how old the second child with the complainant is?
ATTY. PAGUIA: Yes, Your Honor.
A: I guess six or seven.
A: In the residence of Florence.
Q: What is his name?
ATTY. PAGUIA -
A: Mico.
Q: How long did you live with the complainant after your wedding?
Q: Who provided the support for these children from the time they were born up
to the present?
A: Intermittently again few months then I get out then when the child is sick
I have to visit.
A: When I was there I gave for their subsistence.
COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION -
Q: Will you please tell the Commission how much was that?
A: I buy groceries for them and I gave also for their leisure and for their disbarment case does not affect its course,46 then the judgment of annulment of
education. respondent's marriage does not also exonerate him from a wrongdoing actually
committed. So long as the quantum of proof - clear preponderance of evidence -
Q: When you gave this support during the intermittently that you had with them? in disciplinary proceedings against members of the bar is met, then liability
attaches.47
A: Intermittently also.
The disturbing fact that respondent was able to secure the annulment of his first
A: Roughly, Compañero, can you tell the Honorable Commission from that time two marriages and is in the process of procuring the annulment of his third bears
they were born to this time how much you were giving them? noting. Contrary to the finding of the Investigating Commissioner, respondent, by
his own admission, contracted a third marriage:
A: I cannot compute.
xxx
COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION -
ATTY. PAGUIA -
Q: What about on a monthly basis, do you recall?
Q: After getting married to the complainant is it a fact that you entered into a third
marriage to one Josephine Constantino?
A: I cannot compute although when I left with her consent in 1997 I left valuables
in the amount of P400,000.00.
A: I think that is . . .
Q: When you say with her consent, did you tell her that you are leaving?
Q: I will reform, Your Honor. Do you know a person by the name of Josephine
Constantino?
A: Yes, Your Honor, she agreed because I said I can no longer bear living with
sin.
A: Yes
x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
43
Q: What relation if any do you have with her?
The saying that photographs do not lie could not be any truer in those submitted
in evidence by complainant which show a typical happy family with respondent A: I am separated to her since 2000.
essaying out his role as a husband to complainant and a father to their two kids.
Respondent cannot thus take refuge in the earlier mentioned finding in the COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION -
decision of Tuguegarao City trial court in the annulment case he filed against
complainant. The decision, rendered in default of complainant, cannot serve Q: Were you married to Josephine Constantino?
as res judicata on the final resolution of the present case. As this Court held in In
re Almacen,44 a disbarment case is sui generis for it is neither purely civil nor A: Yes, but it's in the process of annulment.
purely criminal but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its
officers. Thus, if the acquittal of a lawyer in a criminal action is not determinative x x x48 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
of an administrative case against him,45 or if an affidavit of withdrawal of a
In both his marriages to his first wife and to complainant, respondent claimed that he was Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
made to enter into the marital union against his will. That claim is an affront to the conduct.
intelligence of the members of this Court to distinguish fact from fiction, reality from
fantasy. It is not easy to believe that a lawyer like respondent could easily be cowered to CANON 7 - A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
enter into any marriage. One incident of a "shotgun marriage" is believable, but two such profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
in succession would tax one's credulity. And then, there is a third marriage to Josephine
T. Constantino which is again the subject of another annulment case. It would not come Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to
as a surprise if in that pending case, he would again put blame on his third wife in order practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous
to send the marriage to oblivion. manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

Respondent here has exhibited the vice of entering into multiple marriages and then There can then be no other fate that awaits respondent, as a consequence of his grossly
leaving them behind by the mere expedient of resorting to legal remedies to sever them. immoral conduct, than to be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law.52 The
The impact of respondent's conduct is incalculable upon his ex-wives as well as the penalty of 3 months suspension recommended by the IBP is, not commensurate to the
children he had by them, their lives having been dislocated beyond recall. gravity of his conduct.

Respondent's assertion that he has not failed to support his children by complainant is WHEREFORE, respondent Edmundo L. Macarubbo is found guilty of gross immorality
not totally supported by the evidence on record. He may have secured educational plans and is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law. He is likewise ORDERED to show
for them and doled out some sums of money in the past, but it appears that he has failed satisfactory evidence to the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline and to this Court that he
to provide them regular, monthly support. In fact, he admitted that even before he left is supporting or has made provisions for the regular support of his two children by
complainant's residence in 1995, he was only giving intermittent support to his children complainant.53
with her.49
Let respondent's name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.
Such pattern of misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions of marriage and
family, institutions that this society looks to for the rearing of our children, for the
development of values essential to the survival and well-being of our communities, and
for the strengthening of our nation as a whole. This must be checked if not stopped.

As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must
also be perceived to be of good moral character and must lead a life in accordance with
the highest moral standards of the community.50The moral delinquency that affects the
fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such, including that which makes a
mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage,51 outrages the generally accepted
moral standards of the community.

In sum, respondent has breached the following precepts of the Code of Professional
Responsibility:
A.C. No. 7022 June 18, 2008 In Resolution No. XVII-2005-13811 dated November 12, 2005, the IBP Board of
Governors adopted the report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner,
MARJORIE F. SAMANIEGO, complainant, and imposed upon Atty. Ferrer the penalty of six (6) months suspension from the practice
vs. of law for his refusal to support his daughter with Ms. Samaniego. The IBP also
ATTY. ANDREW V. FERRER, respondent. admonished him to be a more responsible member of the bar and to keep in mind his
duties as a father.
RESOLUTION
On February 1, 2006, Atty. Ferrer filed a Motion for Reconsideration12 with prayer for us
QUISUMBING, J.: to reduce the penalty, to wit:

For resolution is the Complaint of Marjorie F. Samaniego against respondent Atty. Without passing judgment on the correctness or incorrectness of the disposition
Andrew V. Ferrer for immorality, abandonment and willful refusal to give support to their of the Honorable Commission on Bar Discipline, herein respondent most humbly
daughter, filed before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and docketed as CBD and respectfully begs the compassion of the Honorable Court and states that the
Case No. 04-1184. gravity of the penalty imposed and meted out, depriving herein respondent to
earn a modest living for a period of six (6) months, will further cause extreme
hardship to his family of ten (10) children.13
The facts are as follows:
We referred the motion to the Office of the Bar Confidant for evaluation. Upon finding
Early in 1996, Ms. Samaniego was referred to Atty. Ferrer as a potential client. Atty.
that Atty. Ferrer lacked the degree of morality required of a member of the bar for his
Ferrer agreed to handle her cases1 and soon their lawyer-client relationship became
illicit affair with Ms. Samaniego, with whom he sired a child while he was lawfully married
intimate. Ms. Samaniego said Atty. Ferrer courted her and she fell in love with him.2 He
and with 10 children, the Office of the Bar Confidant recommended that we affirm
said she flirted with him and he succumbed to her temptations.3 Thereafter, they lived
Resolution No. XVII-2005-138 and deny the prayer for reduced penalty.14
together as "husband and wife" from 1996 to 1997,4 and on March 12, 1997, their
daughter was born.5 The affair ended in 20006 and since then he failed to give support to
their daughter.7 We agree with the IBP on Atty. Ferrer's failure to give support to his daughter with Ms.
Samaniego. We also agree with the Office of the Bar Confidant that Atty. Ferrer's affair
with Ms. Samaniego showed his lack of good moral character as a member of the bar.
Before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, Ms. Samaniego presented their
We dismiss, however, Ms. Samaniego's charge of abandonment since Atty. Ferrer did
daughter's birth and baptismal certificates, and the photographs taken during the
not abandon them. He returned to his family.
baptism. She testified that she knew that Atty. Ferrer was in a relationship but did not
think he was already married. She also testified that she was willing to compromise, but
he failed to pay for their daughter's education as agreed upon.8 Atty. Ferrer refused to Atty. Ferrer admitted his extra-marital affair; in his words, his indiscretion which ended in
appear during the hearing since he did not want to see Ms. Samaniego.9 2000. We have considered such illicit relation as a disgraceful and immoral conduct
subject to disciplinary action.15 The penalty for such immoral conduct is disbarment,16 or
indefinite17 or definite18 suspension, depending on the circumstances of the case.
In his position paper,10 Atty. Ferrer manifested his willingness to support their daughter.
Recently, in Ferancullo v. Ferancullo, Jr.,19 we ruled that suspension from the practice of
He also admitted his indiscretion; however, he prayed that the IBP consider Ms.
law for two years was an adequate penalty imposed on the lawyer who was found guilty
Samaniego's complicity as she was acquainted with his wife and children. He further
of gross immorality. In said case, we considered the absence of aggravating
reasoned that he found it unconscionable to abandon his wife and 10 children to cohabit
circumstances such as an adulterous relationship coupled with refusal to support his
with Ms. Samaniego.
family; or maintaining illicit relationships with at least two women during the subsistence Needless to state, respondent ought always to keep in mind the responsibilities of a
of his marriage; or abandoning his legal wife and cohabiting with other women.20 father to all his children. If there be a resultant hardship on them because of this case, let
it be impressed on all concerned that the direct cause thereof was his own misconduct.
In this case, we find no similar aggravating circumstances. Thus we find the penalty
recommended by the IBP and Office of the Bar Confidant as adequate sanction for the WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Andrew V. Ferrer GUILTY of gross immorality
grossly immoral conduct of respondent. and, as recommended by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Bar
Confidant, SUSPEND him from the practice of law for six (6) months effective upon
On another point, we may agree with respondent's contention that complainant was not notice hereof, with WARNING that the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with
entirely blameless. She knew about his wife but blindly believed him to be unmarried. more severely.
However, that one complicit in the affair complained of immorality against her co-
principal does not make this case less serious since it is immaterial whether Ms. To enable us to determine the effectivity of the penalty imposed, the respondent
Samaniego is in pari delicto.21 We must emphasize that this Court's investigation is not is DIRECTED to report the date of his receipt of this Decision to this Court.
about Ms. Samaniego's acts but Atty. Ferrer's conduct as one of its officers and his
fitness to continue as a member of the Bar.22 Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines, and the courts all over the country. Let a copy of this Decision
Finally, it is opportune to remind Atty. Ferrer and all members of the bar of the following likewise be attached to the personal records of the respondent.
norms under the Code of Professional Responsibility:

xxxx

Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.

xxxx

Canon 7 - A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the
legal profession and support the activities of the integrated bar.

xxxx

Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his
fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

xxxx
G.R. No. 1203 May 15, 1903 The promoting of organizations, with knowledge of their objects, for the purpose of
violating or evading the laws against crime constitutes such misconduct on the part of an
In the matter of the suspension of HOWARD D. TERRELL from the practice of law. attorney, an officer of the court, as amounts to malpractice or gross misconduct in his
office, and for which he may be removed or suspended. (Code of Civil Procedure, sec.
Solicitor-General Araneta for Government. 21.) The assisting of a client in a scheme which the attorney knows to be dishonest, or
W. A. Kincaid for defendant. the conniving at a violation of law, are acts which justify disbarment.

PER CURIAM: In this case, however, inasmuch as the defendant in the case of the United
States, vs. Terrell was acquitted on the charge of estafa, and has not, therefore, been
convicted of crime, and as the acts with which he is charged in this proceeding, while
Howard D. Terrell, an attorney-at-law, was ordered to show cause in the Court of First
unprofessional and hence to be condemned, are not criminal in their nature, we are of
Instance, in the city of Manila, on the 5th day of February, 1903, why he should not be
opinion that the ends of justice will be served by the suspension of said Howard D.
suspended as a member of the bar of the city of Manila for the reasons:
Terrell from the practice of law in the Philippine Islands for the term of one year from the
7th day of February, 1903.
First, that he had assisted in the organization of the "Centro Bellas Artes" Club, after he
had been notified that the said organization was made for the purpose of evading the law
It is therefore directed that the said Howard D. Terrell be suspended from the practice of
then in force in said city; and,
law for a term of one year from February 7, 1903. It is so ordered.
Secondly, for acting as attorney for said "Centro Bellas Artes" during the time of and after
its organization, which organization was known to him to be created for the purpose of
evading the law.

The accused appeared on the return day, and by his counsel, W. A. Kincaid, made
answer to these charges, denying the same, and filed affidavits in answer thereto. After
reading testimony given by said Howard D. Terrell, in the case of the United States vs. H.
D. Terrell,1 wherein he was charged with estafa, and after reading the said affidavits in
his behalf, and hearing his counsel, the court below found, and decided as a fact, that
the charges aforesaid made against Howard D. Terrell were true, and thereupon made
an order suspending him from his office as a lawyer in the Philippine Islands, and
directed the clerk of the court to transmit to this court a certified copy of the order of
suspension, as well as a full statement of the facts upon which the same was based.

We have carefully considered these facts, and have reached the conclusion that they
were such as to justify the court below in arriving at the conclusion that the knowledge
and acts of the accused in connection with the organization of the "Centro Bellas Artes"
Club were of such a nature and character as to warrant his suspension from practice.
G.R. No. L-28546 July 30, 1975 However, on May 2, 1964 Pastor Ago, now joined by his wife, Lourdes Yu Ago, as his
co-plaintiff, filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Quezon City (civil case Q-
VENANCIO CASTANEDA and NICETAS HENSON, petitioners, 7986) to annul the sheriff's sale on the ground that the obligation of Pastor Ago upon
vs. which judgment was rendered against him in the replevin suit was his personal
PASTOR D. AGO, LOURDES YU AGO and THE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. obligation, and that Lourdes Yu Ago's one-half share in their conjugal residential house
and lots which were levied upon and sold by the sheriff could not legally be reached for
Quijano and Arroyo for petitioners. the satisfaction of the judgment. They alleged in their complaint that wife Lourdes was
not a party in the replevin suit, that the judgment was rendered and the writ of execution
was issued only against husband Pastor, and that wife Lourdes was not a party to her
Jose M. Luison for respondents.
husband's venture in the logging business which failed and resulted in the replevin suit
and which did not benefit the conjugal partnership.

The Court of First Instance of Quezon City issued an ex parte writ of preliminary
CASTRO, J.: injunction restraining the petitioners, the Register of Deeds and the sheriff of Quezon
City, from registering the latter's final deed of sale, from cancelling the respondents'
The parties in this case, except Lourdes Yu Ago, have been commuting to this Court for certificates of title and issuing new ones to the petitioners and from carrying out any writ
more than a decade. of possession. A situation thus arose where what the Manila court had ordered to be
done, the Quezon City court countermanded. On November 1, 1965, however, the latter
In 1955 the petitioners Venancio Castañeda and Nicetas Henson filed a replevin suit court lifted the preliminary injunction it had previously issued, and the Register of deeds
against Pastor Ago in the Court of First Instance of Manila to recover certain machineries of Quezon City cancelled the respondents' certificates of title and issued new ones in
(civil case 27251). In 1957 judgment was rendered in favor of the plaintiffs, ordering Ago favor of the petitioners. But enforcement of the writ of possession was again thwarted as
to return the machineries or pay definite sums of money. Ago appealed, and on June 30, the Quezon City court again issued a temporary restraining order which it later lifted but
1961 this Court, in Ago vs. Castañeda, L-14066, affirmed the judgment. After remand, then re-restored. On May 3, 1967 the court finally, and for the third time, lifted the
the trial court issued on August 25, 1961 a writ of execution for the sum of P172,923.87. restraining order.
Ago moved for a stay of execution but his motion was denied, and levy was made on
Ago's house and lots located in Quezon City. The sheriff then advertised them for While the battle on the matter of the lifting and restoring of the restraining order was
auction sale on October 25, 1961. Ago moved to stop the auction sale, failing in which he being fought in the Quezon City court, the Agos filed a petition for certiorari and
filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals. The appellate court dismissed the prohibition with this Court under date of May 26, 1966, docketed as L-26116, praying for
petition and Ago appealed. On January 31,1966 this Court, in Ago vs. Court of Appeals, a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the sheriff from enforcing the writ of possession.
et al., L-19718, affirmed the dismissal. Ago thrice attempted to obtain a writ of This Court found no merit in the petition and dismissed it in a minute resolution on June
preliminary injunction to restrain the sheriff from enforcing the writ of execution "to save 3, 1966; reconsideration was denied on July 18, 1966. The respondents then filed on
his family house and lot;" his motions were denied, and the sheriff sold the house and August 2, 1966 a similar petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Court of Appeals
lots on March 9, 1963 to the highest bidders, the petitioners Castañeda and Henson. Ago (CA-G.R. 37830-R), praying for the same preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals
failed to redeem, and on April 17, 1964 the sheriff executed the final deed of sale in favor also dismissed the petition. The respondents then appealed to this Court (L-27140). We 1äwphï1.ñët

of the vendees Castañeda and Henson. Upon their petition, the Court of First Instance dismissed the petition in a minute resolution on February 8, 1967.
of Manila issued a writ of possession to the properties.
The Ago spouses repaired once more to the Court of Appeals where they filed another
petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction (CA-G.R. 39438-R). The
said court gave due course to the petition and granted preliminary injunction. After a judge with jurisdiction to issue the latter also has jurisdiction to issue the former, unless
hearing, it rendered decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: in the interval between the judicial sale and the issuance of the writ of possession, the
rights of third parties to the property sold have supervened. The ruling in Omnas is
WHEREFORE, writ of preliminary injunction from enforcement of the writ clearly inapplicable in the present case, for, here, there has been no change in the
of possession on and ejectment from the one-half share in the properties ownership of the properties or of any interest therein from the time the writ of execution
involved belonging to Lourdes Yu Ago dated June 15, 1967 is made was issued up to the time writ of possession was issued, and even up to the present.
permanent pending decision on the merits in Civil Case No. Q-7986 and
ordering respondent Court to proceed with the trial of Civil Case No. Q- 4. We agree with the trial court (then presided by Judge Lourdes P. San Diego) that it is
7986 on the merits without unnecessary delay. No pronouncement as to much too late in the day for the respondents Agos to raise the question that part of the
costs. property is unleviable because it belongs to Lourdes Yu Ago, considering that (1) a wife
is normally privy to her husband's activities; (2) the levy was made and the properties
Failing to obtain reconsideration, the petitioners Castañeda and Henson filed the present advertised for auction sale in 1961; (3) she lives in the very properties in question; (4) her
petition for review of the aforesaid decision. husband had moved to stop the auction sale; (5) the properties were sold at auction in
1963; (6) her husband had thrice attempted to obtain a preliminary injunction to restrain
1. We do not see how the doctrine that a court may not interfere with the orders of a co- the sheriff from enforcing the writ of execution; (7) the sheriff executed the deed of final
equal court can apply in the case at bar. The Court of First Instance of Manila, which sale on April 17, 1964 when Pastor failed to redeem; (8) Pastor had impliedly admitted
issued the writ of possession, ultimately was not interfered with by its co-equal court, the that the conjugal properties could be levied upon by his pleas "to save his family house
Court of First Instance of Quezon City as the latter lifted the restraining order it had and lot" in his efforts to prevent execution; and (9) it was only on May 2, 1964 when he
previously issued against the enforcement of the Manila court's writ of possession; it is and his wife filed the complaint for annulment of the sheriff's sale upon the issue that the
the Court of Appeals that enjoined, in part, the enforcement of the writ. wife's share in the properties cannot be levied upon on the ground that she was not a
party to the logging business and not a party to the replevin suit. The spouses Ago had
every opportunity to raise the issue in the various proceedings hereinbefore discussed
2. Invoking Comilang vs. Buendia, et al., 1 where the wife was a party in one case and the
but did not; laches now effectively bars them from raising it.
husband was a party in another case and a levy on their conjugal properties was upheld, the
petitioners would have Lourdes Yu Ago similarly bound by the replevin judgment against her
husband for which their conjugal properties would be answerable. The case invoked is not at Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and
par with the present case. In Comilang the actions were admittedly instituted for the unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence,
protection of the common interest of the spouses; in the present case, the Agos deny that could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to
their conjugal partnership benefited from the husband's business venture. assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the
party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. 2
3. Relying upon Omnas vs. Rivera, 67 Phil. 419, the Court of Appeals held that a writ of
possession may not issue until the claim of a third person to half-interest in the property 5. The decision of the appellate court under review suffers from two fatal infirmities.
is adversely determined, the said appellate court assuming that Lourdes Yu Ago was a
"stranger" or a "third-party" to her husband. The assumption is of course obviously (a) It enjoined the enforcement of the writ of possession to and ejectment from the one-
wrong, for, besides living with her husband Pastor, she does not claim ignorance of his half share in the properties involved belonging to Lourdes Yu Ago. This half-share is
business that failed, of the relevant cases in which he got embroiled, and of the auction not in esse, but is merely an inchoate interest, a mere expectancy, constituting neither
sale made by the sheriff of their conjugal properties. Even then, the ruling in Omnas is legal nor equitable estate, and will ripen into title when only upon liquidation and
not that a writ of possession may not issue until the claim of a third person is adversely settlement there appears to be assets of the community. 3 The decision sets at naught the
determined, but that the writ of possession being a complement of the writ of execution,
well-settled rule that injunction does not issue to protect a right not in esse and which may It is the duty of a counsel to advise his client, ordinarily a layman to the
never arise. 4 intricacies and vagaries of the law, on the merit or lack of merit of his
case. If he finds that his client's cause is defenseless, then it is his
(b) The decision did not foresee the absurdity, or even the impossibility, of its enforcement. bounden duty to advise the latter to acquiesce and submit, rather than
The Ago spouses admittedly live together in the same house 5 which is conjugal property. By traverse the incontrovertible. A lawyer must resist the whims and caprices
the Manila court's writ of possession Pastor could be ousted from the house, but the decision of his client, and temper his clients propensity to litigate. A lawyer's oath
under review would prevent the ejectment of Lourdes. Now, which part of the house would be to uphold the cause of justice is superior to his duty to his client; its
vacated by Pastor and which part would Lourdes continue to stay in? The absurdity does not primacy is indisputable. 7
stop here; the decision would actually separate husband and wife, prevent them from living
together, and in effect divide their conjugal properties during coverture and before the 7. In view of the private respondents' propensity to use the courts for purposes other than to
dissolution of the conjugal union. seek justice, and in order to obviate further delay in the disposition of the case below which
might again come up to the appellate courts but only to fail in the end, we have motu
6. Despite the pendency in the trial court of the complaint for the annulment of the proprio examined the record of civil case Q-7986 (the mother case of the present case). We
sheriff's sale (civil case Q-7986), elementary justice demands that the petitioners, long find that
denied the fruits of their victory in the replevin suit, must now enjoy them, for, the
respondents Agos, abetted by their lawyer Jose M. Luison, have misused legal remedies (a) the complaint was filed on May 2, 1964 (more than 11 years ago) but trial on the
and prostituted the judicial process to thwart the satisfaction of the judgment, to the merits has not even started;
extended prejudice of the petitioners. The respondents, with the assistance of counsel,
maneuvered for fourteen (14) years to doggedly resist execution of the judgment thru (b) after the defendants Castañedas had filed their answer with a counterclaim, the
manifold tactics in and from one court to another (5 times in the Supreme Court). plaintiffs Agos filed a supplemental complaint where they impleaded new parties-
defendants;
We condemn the attitude of the respondents and their counsel who,
(c) after the admission of the supplemental complaint, the Agos filed a motion to admit an
far from viewing courts as sanctuaries for those who seek justice, have amended supplemental complaint, which impleads an additional new party-defendant (no
tried to use them to subvert the very ends of justice. 6 action has yet been taken on this motion);

Forgetting his sacred mission as a sworn public servant and his exalted position as an officer (d) the defendants have not filed an answer to the admitted supplemental complaint; and
of the court, Atty. Luison has allowed himself to become an instigator of controversy and a
predator of conflict instead of a mediator for concord and a conciliator for compromise, a
virtuoso of technicality in the conduct of litigation instead of a true exponent of the primacy of
(e) the last order of the Court of First Instance, dated April 20, 1974, grants an extension
truth and moral justice. to the suspension of time to file answer. (Expediente, p. 815)

A counsel's assertiveness in espousing with candour and honesty his We also find that the alleged causes of action in the complaint, supplemental complaint
client's cause must be encouraged and is to be commended; what we do and amended supplemental complaint are all untenable, for the reasons hereunder
not and cannot countenance is a lawyer's insistence despite the patent stated. The Complaint
futility of his client's position, as in the case at bar.
Upon the first cause of action, it is alleged that the sheriff levied upon conjugal properties
of the spouses Ago despite the fact that the judgment to be satisfied was personal only
to Pastor Ago, and the business venture that he entered into, which resulted in the This third cause of action, therefore, actually states no valid cause of action and is
replevin suit, did not redound to the benefit of the conjugal partnership. The issue here, moreover barred by prior judgment.
which is whether or not the wife's inchoate share in the conjugal property is leviable, is
the same issue that we have already resolved, as barred by laches, in striking down the The fourth cause of action pertains to moral damages allegedly suffered by the Agos on
decision of the Court of Appeals granting preliminary injunction, the dispositive portion of account of the acts complained of in the preceding causes of action. As the fourth cause
which was herein-before quoted. This ruling applies as well to the first cause of action of of action derives its life from the preceding causes of action, which, as shown, are
the complaint. baseless, the said fourth cause of action must necessarily fail.

Upon the second cause of action, the Agos allege that on January 5, 1959 the The Counterclaim
Castañedas and the sheriff, pursuant to an alias writ of seizure, seized and took
possession of certain machineries, depriving the Agos of the use thereof, to their As a counterclaim against the Agos, the Castañedas aver that the action was unfounded
damage in the sum of P256,000 up to May 5, 1964. This second cause of action fails to and as a consequence of its filing they were compelled to retain the services of counsel
state a valid cause of action for it fails to allege that the order of seizure is invalid or for not less than P7,500; that because the Agos obtained a preliminary injunction
illegal. enjoining the transfer of titles and possession of the properties to the Castañedas, they
were unlawfully deprived of the use of the properties from April 17, 1964, the value of
It is averred as a third cause of action that the sheriff's sale of the conjugal properties such deprived use being 20% annually of their actual value; and that the filing of the
was irregular, illegal and unlawful because the sheriff did not require the Castañeda unfounded action besmirched their feelings, the pecuniary worth of which is for the court
spouses to pay or liquidate the sum of P141,750 (the amount for which they bought the to assess.
properties at the auction sale) despite the fact that there was annotated at the back of
the certificates of title a mortgage of P75,000 in favor of the Philippine National Bank; The Supplemental Complaint
moreover, the sheriff sold the properties for P141,750 despite the pendency of L-19718
where Pastor Ago contested the amount of P99,877.08 out of the judgment value of
Upon the first cause of action, it is alleged that after the filing of the complaint, the
P172,923.37 in civil case 27251; and because of said acts, the Agos suffered
defendants, taking advantage of the dissolution of the preliminary injunction, in
P174,877.08 in damages.
conspiracy and with gross bad faith and evident intent to cause damage to the plaintiffs,
caused the registration of the sheriff's final deed of sale; that, to cause more damage, the
Anent this third cause of action, the sheriff was under no obligation to require payment of defendants sold to their lawyer and his wife two of the parcels of land in question; that
the purchase price in the auction sale because "when the purchaser is the judgment the purchasers acquired the properties in bad faith; that the defendants mortgaged the
creditor, and no third-party claim has been filed, he need not pay the amount of the bid if two other parcels to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation while the defendants'
it does not exceed the amount of his judgment." (Sec. 23, Rule 39, Rules of Court) lawyer and his wife also mortgaged the parcels bought by them to the Rizal Commercial
Bank; and that the bank also acted in bad faith.
The annotated mortgage in favor of the PNB is the concern of the vendees Castañedas
but did not affect the sheriff's sale; the cancellation of the annotation is of no moment to The second cause of action consists of an allegation of additional damages caused by
the Agoo. the defendants' bad faith in entering into the aforesaid agreements and transactions.

Case L-19718 where Pastor Ago contested the sum of P99,877.08 out of the amount of The Amended Supplemental Complaint
the judgment was dismissed by this Court on January 31, 1966.
The amendment made pertains to the first cause of action of the supplemental complaint,
which is, the inclusion of a paragraph averring that, still to cause damage and prejudice
to the plaintiffs, Atty. & Mrs. Juan Quijano, in bad faith sold the two parcels of land they
had previously bought to Eloy Ocampo who acquired them also in bad faith, while
Venancio Castañeda and Nicetas Henson in bad faith sold the two other parcels to Juan
Quijano (60%) and Eloy Ocampo (40%) who acquired them in bad faith and with
knowledge that the properties are the subject of a pending litigation.

Discussion on The Causes of Action


of The Supplemental Complaint And
The Amended Supplemental Complaint

Assuming hypothetically as true the allegations in the first cause of action of the
supplemental complaint and the amended supplemental complaint, the validity of the
cause of action would depend upon the validity of the first cause of action of the original
complaint, for, the Agos would suffer no transgression upon their rights of ownership and
possession of the properties by reason of the agreements subsequently entered into by
the Castañedas and their lawyer if the sheriff's levy and sale are valid. The reverse is
also true: if the sheriff's levy and sale are invalid on the ground that the conjugal
properties could not be levied upon, then the transactions would perhaps prejudice the
Agos, but, we have already indicated that the issue in the first cause of action of the
original complaint is barred by laches, and it must therefore follow that the first cause of
action of the supplemental complaint and the amended supplemental complaint is also
barred.

For the same reason, the same holding applies to the remaining cause of action in the
supplemental complaint and the amended supplemental complaint.

ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Court of Appeals under review is set aside. Civil
case Q-7986 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal is ordered dismissed, without
prejudice to the re-filing of the petitioners' counterclaim in a new and independent action.
Treble costs are assessed against the spouses Pastor Ago and Lourdes Yu Ago, which
shall be paid by their lawyer, Atty. Jose M. Luison. Let a copy of this decision be made a
part of the personal file of Atty. Luison in the custody of the Clerk of Court.
G.R. No. L-23815 June 28, 1974 as such. Not only did respondent Judge deny such motion, but he also appointed him
counsel de oficio for the two defendants. Subsequently, on November 3, 1964, petitioner
ADELINO H. LEDESMA, petitioner, filed an urgent motion to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio, premised on the
vs. policy of the Commission on Elections to require full time service as well as on the
HON. RAFAEL C. CLIMACO, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of volume or pressure of work of petitioner, which could prevent him from handling
Negros Occidental, Branch I, Silay City, respondent. adequately the defense. Respondent Judge, in the challenged order of November 6,
1964, denied said motion. A motion for reconsideration having proved futile, he instituted
Adelino H. Ledesma in his own behalf. this certiorari proceeding. 3

Hon. Rafael C. Climaco in his own behalf. As noted at the outset, the petition must fail.

1. The assailed order of November 6, 1964 denying the urgent motion of petitioner to
withdraw as counsel de oficio speaks for itself. It began with a reminder that a crime was
allegedly committed on February 17, 1962, with the proceedings having started in the
FERNANDO, J.:p
municipal court of Cadiz on July 11, 1962. Then respondent Judge spoke of his order of
October 16, 1964 which reads thus: "In view of the objection of the prosecution to the
What is assailed in this certiorari proceeding is an order of respondent Judge denying a motion for postponement of October 15, 1964 (alleging that counsel for the accused
motion filed by petitioner to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. 1 One of the cannot continue appearing in this case without the express authority of the Commission
grounds for such a motion was his allegation that with his appointment as Election Registrar on Elections); and since according to the prosecution there are two witnesses who are
by the Commission on Elections, he was not in a position to devote full time to the defense of
ready to take the stand, after which the government would rest, the motion for
the two accused. The denial by respondent Judge of such a plea, notwithstanding the
postponement is denied. When counsel for the accused assumed office as Election
conformity of the defendants, was due "its principal effect [being] to delay this case." 2 It was
likewise noted that the prosecution had already rested and that petitioner was previously
Registrar on October 13, 1964, he knew since October 2, 1964 that the trial would be
counsel de parte, his designation in the former category being precisely to protect him in his resumed today. Nevertheless, in order not to prejudice the civil service status of counsel
new position without prejudicing the accused. It cannot be plausibly asserted that such failure for the accused, he is hereby designated counsel de oficio for the accused. The defense
to allow withdrawal of de oficio counsel could ordinarily be characterized as a grave abuse of obtained postponements on May 17, 1963, June 13, 1963, June 14, 1963, October 28,
discretion correctible by certiorari. There is, however, the overriding concern for the right to 1963, November 27, 1963, February 11, 1964, March 9, 1964, June 8, 1964 July 26,
counsel of the accused that must be taken seriously into consideration. In appropriate cases, 1964, and September 7, 1964." 4 Reference was then made to another order of February
it should tilt the balance. This is not one of them. What is easily discernible was the obvious 11, 1964: "Upon petition of Atty. Adelino H. Ledesma, alleging indisposition, the continuation
reluctance of petitioner to comply with the responsibilities incumbent on the counsel de oficio. of the trial of this case is hereby transferred to March 9, 1964 at 8:30 in the morning. The
Then, too, even on the assumption that he continues in his position, his volume of work is defense is reminded that at its instance, this case has been postponed at least eight (8)
likely to be very much less at present. There is not now the slightest pretext for him to shirk times, and that the government witnesses have to come all the way from Manapala." 5 After
an obligation a member of the bar, who expects to remain in good standing, should fulfill. The which, it was noted in such order that there was no incompatibility between the duty of
petition is clearly without merit. petitioner to the accused and to the court and the performance of his task as an election
registrar of the Commission on Elections and that the ends of justice "would be served by
According to the undisputed facts, petitioner, on October 13, 1964, was appointed allowing and requiring Mr. Ledesma to continue as counsel de oficio, since the prosecution
has already rested its case." 6
Election Registrar for the Municipality of Cadiz, Province of Negros Occidental. Then and
there, he commenced to discharge its duties. As he was counsel de parte for one of the
accused in a case pending in the sala of respondent Judge, he filed a motion to withdraw
2. What is readily apparent therefore, is that petitioner was less than duly mindful of his in effect be rendered nugatory. Its importance was rightfully stressed by Chief Justice
obligation as counsel de oficio. He ought to have known that membership in the bar is a Moran in People v. Holgado in these words: "In criminal cases there can be no fair
privilege burdened with conditions. It could be that for some lawyers, especially the hearing unless the accused be given an opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right to
neophytes in the profession, being appointed counsel de oficio is an irksome chore. For be heard would be of little avail if it does not include the right to be heard by counsel.
those holding such belief, it may come as a surprise that counsel of repute and of Even the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the science of law,
eminence welcome such an opportunity. It makes even more manifest that law is indeed particularly in the rules of procedure, and; without counsel, he may be convicted not
a profession dedicated to the ideal of service and not a mere trade. It is understandable because he is guilty but because he does not know how to establish his innocence. And
then why a high degree of fidelity to duty is required of one so designated. A recent this can happen more easily to persons who are ignorant or uneducated. It is for this
statement of the doctrine is found in People v. Daban: 7 "There is need anew in this reason that the right to be assisted by counsel is deemed so important that it has
disciplinary proceeding to lay stress on the fundamental postulate that membership in the bar become a constitutional right and it is so implemented that under rules of procedure it is
carries with it a responsibility to live up to its exacting standard. The law is a profession, not a not enough for the Court to apprise an accused of his right to have an attorney, it is not
trade or a craft. Those enrolled in its ranks are called upon to aid in the performance of one of enough to ask him whether he desires the aid of an attorney, but it is essential that the
the basic purposes of the State, the administration of justice. To avoid any frustration thereof, court should assign one de oficio for him if he so desires and he is poor or grant him a
especially in the case of an indigent defendant, a lawyer may be required to act as counsel reasonable time to procure an attorney of his
de oficio. The fact that his services are rendered without remuneration should not occasion a own." 13 So it was under the previous Organic Acts. 14 The present Constitution is even more
diminution in his zeal. Rather the contrary. This is not, of course, to ignore that other pressing emphatic. For, in addition to reiterating that the accused "shall enjoy the right to be heard by
matters do compete for his attention. After all, he has his practice to attend to. That himself and counsel," 15 there is this new provision: "Any person under investigation for the
circumstance possesses a high degree of relevance since a lawyer has to live; certainly he commission of an offense shall have the right to remain silent and to counsel, and to be
cannot afford either to neglect his paying cases. Nonetheless, what is incumbent upon him as informed of such right. No force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which
counsel de oficio must be fulfilled." 8 vitiates the free will shall be used against him. Any confession obtained in violation of this
section shall be inadmissible in evidence." 16
So it has been from the 1905 decision of In re Robles Lahesa, 9 where respondent was de
oficio counsel, the opinion penned by Justice Carson making clear: "This Court should exact Thus is made manifest the indispensable role of a member of the Bar in the defense of
from its officers and subordinates the most scrupulous performance of their official duties, an accused. Such a consideration could have sufficed for petitioner not being allowed to
especially when negligence in the performance of those duties necessarily results in delays in withdraw as counsel de oficio. For he did betray by his moves his lack of enthusiasm for
the prosecution of criminal cases ...." 10 Justice Sanchez in People v. Estebia 11 reiterated
the task entrusted to him, to put matters mildly. He did point though to his responsibility
such a view in these words: "It is true that he is a court-appointed counsel. But we do say that
as an election registrar. Assuming his good faith, no such excuse could be availed now.
as such counsel de oficio, he has as high a duty to the accused as one employed and paid by
There is not likely at present, and in the immediate future, an exorbitant demand on his
defendant himself. Because, as in the case of the latter, he must exercise his best efforts and
professional ability in behalf of the person assigned to his care. He is to render effective time. It may likewise be assumed, considering what has been set forth above, that
assistance. The accused-defendant expects of him due diligence, not mere perfunctory petitioner would exert himself sufficiently to perform his task as defense counsel with
representation. For, indeed a lawyer who is a vanguard in the bastion of justice is expected to competence, if not with zeal, if only to erase doubts as to his fitness to remain a member
have a bigger dose of social conscience and a little less of self-interest." 12 of the profession in good standing. The admonition is ever timely for those enrolled in the
ranks of legal practitioners that there are times, and this is one of them, when duty to
The weakness of the petition is thus quite evident. court and to client takes precedence over the promptings of self-interest.

3. If respondent Judge were required to answer the petition, it was only due to the WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is dismissed. Costs against petitioner.
apprehension that considering the frame of mind of a counsel loath and reluctant to fulfill
his obligation, the welfare of the accused could be prejudiced. His right to counsel could
March 23, 1929 your barrio in particular. You can come to my house at any time here in Echague,
to submit to me any kind of suggestion or recommendation as you may desire.
In re LUIS B. TAGORDA,
I also inform you that despite my membership in the Board I will have my
Duran & Lim for respondent. residence here in Echague. I will attend the session of the Board of Ilagan, but
Attorney-General Jaranilla and Provincial Fiscal Jose for the Government. will come back home on the following day here in Echague to live and serve with
you as a lawyer and notary public. Despite my election as member of the
MALCOLM, J.: Provincial Board, I will exercise my legal profession as a lawyer and notary
public. In case you cannot see me at home on any week day, I assure you that
you can always find me there on every Sunday. I also inform you that I will
The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of the provincial
receive any work regarding preparations of documents of contract of sales and
board of Isabela, admits that previous to the last general elections he made use of a card
affidavits to be sworn to before me as notary public even on Sundays.
written in Spanish and Ilocano, which, in translation, reads as follows:
I would like you all to be informed of this matter for the reason that some people
LUIS B. TAGORDA
are in the belief that my residence as member of the Board will be in Ilagan and
Attorney
that I would then be disqualified to exercise my profession as lawyer and as
Notary Public
notary public. Such is not the case and I would make it clear that I am free to
CANDIDATE FOR THIRD MEMBER
exercise my profession as formerly and that I will have my residence here in
Province of Isabela
Echague.
(NOTE. — As notary public, he can execute for you a deed of sale for the
I would request you kind favor to transmit this information to your barrio people in
purchase of land as required by the cadastral office; can renew lost documents of
any of your meetings or social gatherings so that they may be informed of my
your animals; can make your application and final requisites for your homestead;
desire to live and to serve with you in my capacity as lawyer and notary public. If
and can execute any kind of affidavit. As a lawyer, he can help you collect your
the people in your locality have not as yet contracted the services of other
loans although long overdue, as well as any complaint for or against you. Come
lawyers in connection with the registration of their land titles, I would be willing to
or write to him in his town, Echague, Isabela. He offers free consultation, and is
handle the work in court and would charge only three pesos for every
willing to help and serve the poor.)
registration.
The respondent further admits that he is the author of a letter addressed to a lieutenant
Yours respectfully,
of barrio in his home municipality written in Ilocano, which letter, in translation, reads as
follows:
(Sgd.) LUIS TAGORDA
Attorney
ECHAGUE, ISABELA, September 18, 1928
Notary Public.
MY DEAR LIEUTENANT: I would like to inform you of the approaching date for
The facts being conceded, it is next in order to write down the applicable legal provisions.
our induction into office as member of the Provincial Board, that is on the 16th of
Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure as originally conceived related to disbarments
next month. Before my induction into office I should be very glad to hear your
of members of the bar. In 1919 at the instigation of the Philippine Bar Association, said
suggestions or recommendations for the good of the province in general and for
codal section was amended by Act No. 2828 by adding at the end thereof the following: influencing the criminal, the sick and the injured, the ignorant or others, to seek
"The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or his professional services. A duty to the public and to the profession devolves
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." upon every member of the bar having knowledge of such practices upon the part
of any practitioner immediately to inform thereof to the end that the offender may
The statute as amended conforms in principle to the Canons of Professionals Ethics be disbarred.
adopted by the American Bar Association in 1908 and by the Philippine Bar Association
in 1917. Canons 27 and 28 of the Code of Ethics provide: Common barratry consisting of frequently stirring up suits and quarrels between
individuals was a crime at the common law, and one of the penalties for this offense
27. ADVERTISING, DIRECT OR INDIRECT. — The most worthy and effective when committed by an attorney was disbarment. Statutes intended to reach the same
advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, and especially with his brother evil have been provided in a number of jurisdictions usually at the instance of the bar
lawyers, is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional itself, and have been upheld as constitutional. The reason behind statutes of this type is
capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced, but must be the outcome of not difficult to discover. The law is a profession and not a business. The lawyer may not
character and conduct. The publication or circulation of ordinary simple business seek or obtain employment by himself or through others for to do so would be
cards, being a matter of personal taste or local custom, and sometimes of unprofessional. (State vs. Rossman [1909], 53 Wash., 1; 17 Ann. Cas., 625;
convenience, is not per se improper. But solicitation of business by circulars or People vs. Mac Cabe [1893], 19 L. R. A., 231; 2 R. C. L., 1097.)
advertisements, or by personal communications or interview not warranted by
personal relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure It becomes our duty to condemn in no uncertain terms the ugly practice of solicitation of
business by indirection through touters of any kind, whether allied real estate cases by lawyers. It is destructive of the honor of a great profession. It lowers the
firms or trust companies advertising to secure the drawing of deeds or wills or standards of that profession. It works against the confidence of the community in the
offering retainers in exchange for executorships or trusteeships to be influenced integrity of the members of the bar. It results in needless litigation and in incenting to
by the lawyer. Indirect advertisement for business by furnishing or inspiring strife otherwise peacefully inclined citizens.
newspaper comments concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of
the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like The solicitation of employment by an attorney is a ground for disbarment or suspension.
self-laudation, defy the traditions and lower the tone of our high calling, and are That should be distinctly understood.
intolerable.
Giving application of the law and the Canons of Ethics to the admitted facts, the
28. STIRRING UP LITIGATION, DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AGENTS. — It is respondent stands convicted of having solicited cases in defiance of the law and those
unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer advice to bring a lawsuit, except in rare canons. Accordingly, the only remaining duty of the court is to fix upon the action which
cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his duty to do so. Stirring should here be taken. The provincial fiscal of Isabela, with whom joined the
up strife and litigation is not only unprofessional, but it is indictable at common representative of the Attorney-General in the oral presentation of the case, suggests that
law. It is disreputable to hunt up defects in titles or other causes of action and the respondent be only reprimanded. We think that our action should go further than this
inform thereof in order to the employed to bring suit, or to breed litigation by if only to reflect our attitude toward cases of this character of which unfortunately the
seeking out those with claims for personal injuries or those having any other respondent's is only one. The commission of offenses of this nature would amply justify
grounds of action in order to secure them as clients, or to employ agents or permanent elimination from the bar. But as mitigating, circumstances working in favor of
runners for like purposes, or to pay or reward directly or indirectly, those who the respondent there are, first, his intimation that he was unaware of the impropriety of
bring or influence the bringing of such cases to his office, or to remunerate his acts, second, his youth and inexperience at the bar, and, third, his promise not to
policemen, court or prison officials, physicians, hospital attaches or others who commit a similar mistake in the future. A modest period of suspension would seem to fit
may succeed, under the guise of giving disinterested friendly advice, in the case of the erring attorney. But it should be distinctly understood that this result is
reached in view of the considerations which have influenced the court to the relatively A.C. No. L-1117 March 20, 1944
lenient in this particular instance and should, therefore, not be taken as indicating that
future convictions of practice of this kind will not be dealt with by disbarment. THE DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS, complainant,
vs.
In view of all the circumstances of this case, the judgment of the court is that the ESTANISLAO R. BAYOT, respondent.
respondent Luis B. Tagorda be and is hereby suspended from the practice as an
attorney-at-law for the period of one month from April 1, 1929, Office of the Solicitor General De la Costa and Solicitor Feria for complainant.
Francisco Claravall for respondent.

OZAETA, J.:

The respondent, who is an attorney-at-law, is charged with malpractice for having


published an advertisement in the Sunday Tribune of June 13, 1943, which reads as
follows:

Marriage

license promptly secured thru our assistance & the annoyance of delay or
publicity avoided if desired, and marriage arranged to wishes of parties.
Consultation on any matter free for the poor. Everything confidential.

Legal assistance service


12 Escolta, Manila, Room, 105
Tel. 2-41-60.

Appearing in his own behalf, respondent at first denied having published the said
advertisement; but subsequently, thru his attorney, he admitted having caused its
publication and prayed for "the indulgence and mercy" of the Court, promising "not to
repeat such professional misconduct in the future and to abide himself to the strict ethical
rules of the law profession." In further mitigation he alleged that the said advertisement
was published only once in the Tribune and that he never had any case at law by reason
thereof.

Upon that plea the case was submitted to the Court for decision.
It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993
respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from
the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that "the MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner,
practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid vs.
agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an attorney to THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent.
advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession and
not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts R E SO L U T I O N
the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public. As
a member of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the
money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worth and effective
advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . is the establishment of a well-
merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but REGALADO, J.:
must be the outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.)
Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to cease and desist from issuing
In In re Tagorda, 53 Phil., the respondent attorney was suspended from the practice of advertisements similar to or of the same tenor as that of annexes "A" and "B" (of said
law for the period of one month for advertising his services and soliciting work from the petition) and to perpetually prohibit persons or entities from making advertisements
public by writing circular letters. That case, however, was more serious than this because pertaining to the exercise of the law profession other than those allowed by law."
there the solicitations were repeatedly made and were more elaborate and insistent.
The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner are as follows:
Considering his plea for leniency and his promise not to repeat the misconduct, the Court
is of the opinion and so decided that the respondent should be, as he hereby is, Annex A
reprimanded.
SECRET MARRIAGE?
P560.00 for a valid marriage.
Info on DIVORCE. ABSENCE.
ANNULMENT. VISA.

THE Please call: 521-0767 LEGAL 5217232, 5222041 CLINIC, INC. 8:30
am— 6:00 pm 7-Flr. Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Mla.

Annex B

GUAM DIVORCE.

DON PARKINSON
an Attorney in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce through law and, in either case, whether the same can properly be the subject of the
The Legal Clinic beginning Monday to Friday during office hours. advertisements herein complained of.

Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Problems, Visa Ext. Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the merits of this case, we deem it proper
Quota/Non-quota Res. & Special Retiree's Visa. Declaration of Absence. and enlightening to present hereunder excerpts from the respective position papers
Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees. Adoption. Investment in the Phil. adopted by the aforementioned bar associations and the memoranda submitted by them
US/Foreign Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call Marivic. on the issues involved in this bar matter.

THE 7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave., LEGAL Ermita, Manila nr. US 1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines:
Embassy CLINIC, INC. 1 Tel. 521-7232; 521-7251; 522-2041; 521-0767
xxx xxx xxx
It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements above reproduced are
champterous, unethical, demeaning of the law profession, and destructive of the Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which respondent endeavored to
confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar and that, as a distinguish the two terms, i.e., "legal support services" vis-a-vis "legal
member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and offended by the said advertisements, services", common sense would readily dictate that the same are
hence the reliefs sought in his petition as hereinbefore quoted. essentially without substantial distinction. For who could deny that
document search, evidence gathering, assistance to layman in need of
In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of publication of said basic institutional services from government or non-government agencies
advertisement at its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in the practice of law but in like birth, marriage, property, or business registration, obtaining
the rendering of "legal support services" through paralegals with the use of modern documents like clearance, passports, local or foreign visas, constitutes
computers and electronic machines. Respondent further argues that assuming that the practice of law?
services advertised are legal services, the act of advertising these services should be
allowed supposedly xxx xxx xxx
in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs. State Bar of
Arizona, 2 reportedly decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 7, 1977. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) does not wish to make issue
with respondent's foreign citations. Suffice it to state that the IBP has
Considering the critical implications on the legal profession of the issues raised herein, made its position manifest, to wit, that it strongly opposes the view
we required the (1) Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), (2) Philippine Bar Association espoused by respondent (to the effect that today it is alright to advertise
(PBA), (3) Philippine Lawyers' Association (PLA), (4) U.P. Womens Lawyers' Circle one's legal services).
(WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers Association of the Philippines (WLAP), and (6)
Federacion International de Abogadas (FIDA) to submit their respective position papers The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain terms its opposition to
on the controversy and, thereafter, their memoranda. 3 The said bar associations readily respondent's act of establishing a "legal clinic" and of concomitantly
responded and extended their valuable services and cooperation of which this Court takes advertising the same through newspaper publications.
note with appreciation and gratitude.
The IBP would therefore invoke the administrative supervision of this
The main issues posed for resolution before the Court are whether or not the services Honorable Court to perpetually restrain respondent from undertaking
offered by respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as advertised by it constitutes practice of highly unethical activities in the field of law practice as aforedescribed. 4
xxx xxx xxx B. The advertisements in question are meant to induce the performance
of acts contrary to law, morals, public order and public policy.
A. The use of the name "The Legal Clinic, Inc." gives the impression that
respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it renders It may be conceded that, as the respondent claims, the advertisements in
legal services. question are only meant to inform the general public of the services being
offered by it. Said advertisements, however, emphasize to Guam divorce,
While the respondent repeatedly denies that it offers legal services to the and any law student ought to know that under the Family Code, there is
public, the advertisements in question give the impression that only one instance when a foreign divorce is recognized, and that is:
respondent is offering legal services. The Petition in fact simply assumes
this to be so, as earlier mentioned, apparently because this (is) the effect Article 26. . . .
that the advertisements have on the reading public.
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a
The impression created by the advertisements in question can be traced, foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter
first of all, to the very name being used by respondent — "The Legal validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating
Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is respectfully submitted connotes the him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have
rendering of legal services for legal problems, just like a medical clinic capacity to remarry under Philippine Law.
connotes medical services for medical problems. More importantly, the
term "Legal Clinic" connotes lawyers, as the term medical clinic connotes It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family Code (defines) a marriage
doctors. as follows:

Furthermore, the respondent's name, as published in the advertisements Article 1. Marriage is special contract of permanent
subject of the present case, appears with (the) scale(s) of justice, which union between a man and woman entered into
all the more reinforces the impression that it is being operated by accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and
members of the bar and that it offers legal services. In addition, the family life. It is the foundation of the family and an
advertisements in question appear with a picture and name of a person inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences,
being represented as a lawyer from Guam, and this practically removes and incidents are governed by law and not subject to
whatever doubt may still remain as to the nature of the service or stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the
services being offered. property relation during the marriage within the limits
provided by this Code.
It thus becomes irrelevant whether respondent is merely offering "legal
support services" as claimed by it, or whether it offers legal services as By simply reading the questioned advertisements, it is obvious that the
any lawyer actively engaged in law practice does. And it becomes message being conveyed is that Filipinos can avoid the legal
unnecessary to make a distinction between "legal services" and "legal consequences of a marriage celebrated in accordance with our law, by
support services," as the respondent would have it. The advertisements simply going to Guam for a divorce. This is not only misleading, but
in question leave no room for doubt in the minds of the reading public encourages, or serves to induce, violation of Philippine law. At the very
that legal services are being offered by lawyers, whether true or not. least, this can be considered "the dark side" of legal practice, where
certain defects in Philippine laws are exploited for the sake of profit. At xxx xxx xxx
worst, this is outright malpractice.
It is respectfully submitted that respondent should be enjoined from
Rule 1.02. — A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities causing the publication of the advertisements in question, or any other
aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in advertisements similar thereto. It is also submitted that respondent
the legal system. should be prohibited from further performing or offering some of the
services it presently offers, or, at the very least, from offering such
In addition, it may also be relevant to point out that advertisements such services to the public in general.
as that shown in Annex "A" of the Petition, which contains a cartoon of a
motor vehicle with the words "Just Married" on its bumper and seems to The IBP is aware of the fact that providing computerized legal research,
address those planning a "secret marriage," if not suggesting a "secret electronic data gathering, storage and retrieval, standardized legal forms,
marriage," makes light of the "special contract of permanent union," the investigators for gathering of evidence, and like services will greatly
inviolable social institution," which is how the Family Code describes benefit the legal profession and should not be stifled but instead
marriage, obviously to emphasize its sanctity and inviolability. Worse, this encouraged. However, when the conduct of such business by non-
particular advertisement appears to encourage marriages celebrated in members of the Bar encroaches upon the practice of law, there can be
secrecy, which is suggestive of immoral publication of applications for a no choice but to prohibit such business.
marriage license.
Admittedly, many of the services involved in the case at bar can be better
If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be reviewed, it can readily be performed by specialists in other fields, such as computer experts, who
concluded that the above impressions one may gather from the by reason of their having devoted time and effort exclusively to such field
advertisements in question are accurate. The Sharon Cuneta-Gabby cannot fulfill the exacting requirements for admission to the Bar. To
Concepcion example alone confirms what the advertisements suggest. prohibit them from "encroaching" upon the legal profession will deny the
Here it can be seen that criminal acts are being encouraged or profession of the great benefits and advantages of modern technology.
committed Indeed, a lawyer using a computer will be doing better than a lawyer
(a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las Vegas) with impunity simply using a typewriter, even if both are (equal) in skill.
because the jurisdiction of Philippine courts does not extend to the place
where the crime is committed. Both the Bench and the Bar, however, should be careful not to allow or
tolerate the illegal practice of law in any form, not only for the protection
Even if it be assumed, arguendo, (that) the "legal support services" of members of the Bar but also, and more importantly, for the protection
respondent offers do not constitute legal services as commonly of the public. Technological development in the profession may be
understood, the advertisements in question give the impression that encouraged without tolerating, but instead ensuring prevention of illegal
respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it offers practice.
legal services, as earlier discussed. Thus, the only logical consequence
is that, in the eyes of an ordinary newspaper reader, members of the bar There might be nothing objectionable if respondent is allowed to perform
themselves are encouraging or inducing the performance of acts which all of its services, but only if such services are made available exclusively
are contrary to law, morals, good customs and the public good, thereby to members of the Bench and Bar. Respondent would then be offering
destroying and demeaning the integrity of the Bar. technical assistance, not legal services. Alternatively, the more difficult
task of carefully distinguishing between which service may be offered to Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged in the practice of law but
the public in general and which should be made available exclusively to engaged in giving legal support services to lawyers and laymen, through
members of the Bar may be undertaken. This, however, may require experienced paralegals, with the use of modern computers and electronic
further proceedings because of the factual considerations involved. machines" (pars. 2 and 3, Comment). This is absurd. Unquestionably,
respondent's acts of holding out itself to the public under the trade name
It must be emphasized, however, that some of respondent's services "The Legal Clinic, Inc.," and soliciting employment for its enumerated
ought to be prohibited outright, such as acts which tend to suggest or services fall within the realm of a practice which thus yields itself to the
induce celebration abroad of marriages which are bigamous or otherwise regulatory powers of the Supreme Court. For respondent to say that it is
illegal and void under Philippine law. While respondent may not be merely engaged in paralegal work is to stretch credulity. Respondent's
prohibited from simply disseminating information regarding such matters, own commercial advertisement which announces a certain Atty. Don
it must be required to include, in the information given, a disclaimer that it Parkinson to be handling the fields of law belies its pretense. From all
is not authorized to practice law, that certain course of action may be indications, respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." is offering and
illegal under Philippine law, that it is not authorized or capable of rendering legal services through its reserve of lawyers. It has been held
rendering a legal opinion, that a lawyer should be consulted before that the practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court, but
deciding on which course of action to take, and that it cannot recommend includes drawing of deeds, incorporation, rendering opinions, and
any particular lawyer without subjecting itself to possible sanctions for advising clients as to their legal right and then take them to an attorney
illegal practice of law. and ask the latter to look after their case in court See Martin, Legal and
Judicial Ethics, 1984 ed., p. 39).
If respondent is allowed to advertise, advertising should be directed
exclusively at members of the Bar, with a clear and unmistakable It is apt to recall that only natural persons can engage in the practice of
disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law or perform legal law, and such limitation cannot be evaded by a corporation employing
services. competent lawyers to practice for it. Obviously, this is the scheme or
device by which respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself to the
The benefits of being assisted by paralegals cannot be ignored. But public and solicits employment of its legal services. It is an odious
nobody should be allowed to represent himself as a "paralegal" for profit, vehicle for deception, especially so when the public cannot ventilate any
without such term being clearly defined by rule or regulation, and without grievance for malpractice against the business conduit. Precisely, the
any adequate and effective means of regulating his activities. Also, law limitation of practice of law to persons who have been duly admitted as
practice in a corporate form may prove to be advantageous to the legal members of the Bar (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court) is to
profession, but before allowance of such practice may be considered, the subject the members to the discipline of the Supreme Court. Although
corporation's Article of Incorporation and By-laws must conform to each respondent uses its business name, the persons and the lawyers who act
and every provision of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the for it are subject to court discipline. The practice of law is not a profession
Rules of Court. 5 open to all who wish to engage in it nor can it be assigned to another
(See 5 Am. Jur. 270). It is a personal right limited to persons who have
qualified themselves under the law. It follows that not only respondent but
2. Philippine Bar Association:
also all the persons who are acting for respondent are the persons
engaged in unethical law practice. 6
xxx xxx xxx.
3. Philippine Lawyers' Association:
The Philippine Lawyers' Association's position, in answer to the issues Applying the test laid down by the Court in the aforecited Agrava Case,
stated herein, are wit: the activities of respondent fall squarely and are embraced in what
lawyers and laymen equally term as "the practice of law." 7
1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law;
4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle:
2. Such practice is unauthorized;
In resolving, the issues before this Honorable Court, paramount
3. The advertisements complained of are not only unethical, but also consideration should be given to the protection of the general public from
misleading and patently immoral; and the danger of being exploited by unqualified persons or entities who may
be engaged in the practice of law.
4. The Honorable Supreme Court has the power to supress and punish
the Legal Clinic and its corporate officers for its unauthorized practice of At present, becoming a lawyer requires one to take a rigorous four-year
law and for its unethical, misleading and immoral advertising. course of study on top of a four-year bachelor of arts or sciences course
and then to take and pass the bar examinations. Only then, is a lawyer
xxx xxx xxx qualified to practice law.

Respondent posits that is it not engaged in the practice of law. It claims While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in many jurisdiction as an aid
that it merely renders "legal support services" to answers, litigants and to the administration of justice, there are in those jurisdictions, courses of
the general public as enunciated in the Primary Purpose Clause of its study and/or standards which would qualify these paralegals to deal with
Article(s) of Incorporation. (See pages 2 to 5 of Respondent's Comment). the general public as such. While it may now be the opportune time to
But its advertised services, as enumerated above, clearly and establish these courses of study and/or standards, the fact remains that
convincingly show that it is indeed engaged in law practice, albeit outside at present, these do not exist in the Philippines. In the meantime, this
of court. Honorable Court may decide to make measures to protect the general
public from being exploited by those who may be dealing with the general
public in the guise of being "paralegals" without being qualified to do so.
As advertised, it offers the general public its advisory services on
Persons and Family Relations Law, particularly regarding foreign
divorces, annulment of marriages, secret marriages, absence and In the same manner, the general public should also be protected from the
adoption; Immigration Laws, particularly on visa related problems, dangers which may be brought about by advertising of legal services.
immigration problems; the Investments Law of the Philippines and such While it appears that lawyers are prohibited under the present Code of
other related laws. Professional Responsibility from advertising, it appears in the instant
case that legal services are being advertised not by lawyers but by an
entity staffed by "paralegals." Clearly, measures should be taken to
Its advertised services unmistakably require the application of the
protect the general public from falling prey to those who advertise legal
aforesaid law, the legal principles and procedures related thereto, the
services without being qualified to offer such services. 8
legal advices based thereon and which activities call for legal training,
knowledge and experience.
A perusal of the questioned advertisements of Respondent, however, seems
to give the impression that information regarding validity of marriages,
divorce, annulment of marriage, immigration, visa extensions, declaration of by whatever merit the illegal act may serve. The law has yet to be
absence, adoption and foreign investment, which are in essence, legal amended so that such act could become justifiable.
matters , will be given to them if they avail of its services. The Respondent's
name — The Legal Clinic, Inc. — does not help matters. It gives the We submit further that these advertisements that seem to project that
impression again that Respondent will or can cure the legal problems secret marriages and divorce are possible in this country for a fee, when
brought to them. Assuming that Respondent is, as claimed, staffed purely by
in fact it is not so, are highly reprehensible.
paralegals, it also gives the misleading impression that there are lawyers
involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc., as there are doctors in any medical clinic,
when only "paralegals" are involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc. It would encourage people to consult this clinic about how they could go
about having a secret marriage here, when it cannot nor should ever be
Respondent's allegations are further belied by the very admissions of its attempted, and seek advice on divorce, where in this country there is
President and majority stockholder, Atty. Nogales, who gave an insight none, except under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws in the Philippines.
on the structure and main purpose of Respondent corporation in the It is also against good morals and is deceitful because it falsely
aforementioned "Starweek" article." 9 represents to the public to be able to do that which by our laws cannot be
done (and) by our Code of Morals should not be done.
5. Women Lawyer's Association of the Philippines:
In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the Supreme Court held that
solicitation for clients by an attorney by circulars of advertisements, is
Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are clearly advertisements to solicit
unprofessional, and offenses of this character justify permanent
cases for the purpose of gain which, as provided for under the above
elimination from the Bar. 10
cited law, (are) illegal and against the Code of Professional Responsibility
of lawyers in this country.
6. Federacion Internacional de Abogados:
Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in that it is an advertisement to
solicit cases, but it is illegal in that in bold letters it announces that the xxx xxx xxx
Legal Clinic, Inc., could work out/cause the celebration of a secret
marriage which is not only illegal but immoral in this country. While it is 1.7 That entities admittedly not engaged in the practice of law, such as
advertised that one has to go to said agency and pay P560 for a valid management consultancy firms or travel agencies, whether run by
marriage it is certainly fooling the public for valid marriages in the lawyers or not, perform the services rendered by Respondent does not
Philippines are solemnized only by officers authorized to do so under the necessarily lead to the conclusion that Respondent is not unlawfully
law. And to employ an agency for said purpose of contracting marriage is practicing law. In the same vein, however, the fact that the business of
not necessary. respondent (assuming it can be engaged in independently of the practice
of law) involves knowledge of the law does not necessarily make
No amount of reasoning that in the USA, Canada and other countries the respondent guilty of unlawful practice of law.
trend is towards allowing lawyers to advertise their special skills to enable
people to obtain from qualified practitioners legal services for their . . . . Of necessity, no one . . . . acting as a consultant can
particular needs can justify the use of advertisements such as are the render effective service unless he is familiar with such
subject matter of the petition, for one (cannot) justify an illegal act even statutes and regulations. He must be careful not to
suggest a course of conduct which the law forbids. It
seems . . . .clear that (the consultant's) knowledge of the industrial relations experts are the officers and business
law, and his use of that knowledge as a factor in agents of the labor unions and few of them are lawyers.
determining what measures he shall recommend, do not Among the larger corporate employers, it has been the
constitute the practice of law . . . . It is not only presumed practice for some years to delegate special responsibility
that all men know the law, but it is a fact that most men in employee matters to a management group chosen for
have considerable acquaintance with broad features of their practical knowledge and skill in such matter, and
the law . . . . Our knowledge of the law — accurate or without regard to legal thinking or lack of it. More recently,
inaccurate — moulds our conduct not only when we are consultants like the defendants have the same service
acting for ourselves, but when we are serving others. that the larger employers get from their own specialized
Bankers, liquor dealers and laymen generally possess staff.
rather precise knowledge of the laws touching their
particular business or profession. A good example is the The handling of industrial relations is growing into a
architect, who must be familiar with zoning, building and recognized profession for which appropriate courses are
fire prevention codes, factory and tenement house offered by our leading universities. The court should be
statutes, and who draws plans and specification in very cautious about declaring [that] a widespread, well-
harmony with the law. This is not practicing law. established method of conducting business is unlawful, or
that the considerable class of men who customarily
But suppose the architect, asked by his client to omit a perform a certain function have no right to do so, or that
fire tower, replies that it is required by the statute. Or the the technical education given by our schools cannot be
industrial relations expert cites, in support of some used by the graduates in their business.
measure that he recommends, a decision of the National
Labor Relations Board. Are they practicing law? In my In determining whether a man is practicing law, we should
opinion, they are not, provided no separate fee is charged consider his work for any particular client or customer, as
for the legal advice or information, and the legal question a whole. I can imagine defendant being engaged primarily
is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal to advise as to the law defining his client's obligations to
problem. his employees, to guide his client's obligations to his
employees, to guide his client along the path charted by
It is largely a matter of degree and of custom. law. This, of course, would be the practice of the law. But
such is not the fact in the case before me. Defendant's
If it were usual for one intending to erect a building on his primarily efforts are along economic and psychological
land to engage a lawyer to advise him and the architect in lines. The law only provides the frame within which he
respect to the building code and the like, then an architect must work, just as the zoning code limits the kind of
who performed this function would probably be building the limits the kind of building the architect may
considered to be trespassing on territory reserved for plan. The incidental legal advice or information defendant
licensed attorneys. Likewise, if the industrial relations field may give, does not transform his activities into the
had been pre-empted by lawyers, or custom placed a practice of law. Let me add that if, even as a minor
lawyer always at the elbow of the lay personnel man. But feature of his work, he performed services which are
this is not the case. The most important body of the customarily reserved to members of the bar, he would be
practicing law. For instance, if as part of a welfare one not a lawyer. In this phase of his work, defendant
program, he drew employees' wills. may lawfully do whatever the Labor Board allows, even
arguing questions purely legal. (Auerbacher v. Wood, 53
Another branch of defendant's work is the representations A. 2d 800, cited in Statsky, Introduction to Paralegalism
of the employer in the adjustment of grievances and in [1974], at pp. 154-156.).
collective bargaining, with or without a mediator. This is
not per se the practice of law. Anyone may use an agent 1.8 From the foregoing, it can be said that a person engaged in a lawful
for negotiations and may select an agent particularly calling (which may involve knowledge of the law) is not engaged in the
skilled in the subject under discussion, and the person practice of law provided that:
appointed is free to accept the employment whether or
not he is a member of the bar. Here, however, there may (a) The legal question is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal
be an exception where the business turns on a question problem;.
of law. Most real estate sales are negotiated by brokers
who are not lawyers. But if the value of the land depends (b) The services performed are not customarily reserved to members of
on a disputed right-of-way and the principal role of the the bar; .
negotiator is to assess the probable outcome of the
dispute and persuade the opposite party to the same
(c) No separate fee is charged for the legal advice or information.
opinion, then it may be that only a lawyer can accept the
assignment. Or if a controversy between an employer and
his men grows from differing interpretations of a contract, All these must be considered in relation to the work for any particular
or of a statute, it is quite likely that defendant should not client as a whole.
handle it. But I need not reach a definite conclusion here,
since the situation is not presented by the proofs. 1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer and non-lawyer, the Code of
Professional Responsibility succintly states the rule of conduct:
Defendant also appears to represent the employer before
administrative agencies of the federal government, Rule 15.08 — A lawyer who is engaged in another profession or
especially before trial examiners of the National Labor occupation concurrently with the practice of law shall make clear to his
Relations Board. An agency of the federal government, client whether he is acting as a lawyer or in another capacity.
acting by virtue of an authority granted by the Congress,
may regulate the representation of parties before such 1.10. In the present case. the Legal Clinic appears to render wedding
agency. The State of New Jersey is without power to services (See Annex "A" Petition). Services on routine, straightforward
interfere with such determination or to forbid marriages, like securing a marriage license, and making arrangements
representation before the agency by one whom the with a priest or a judge, may not constitute practice of law. However, if
agency admits. The rules of the National Labor Relations the problem is as complicated as that described in "Rx for Legal
Board give to a party the right to appear in person, or by Problems" on the Sharon Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion-Richard Gomez
counsel, or by other representative. Rules and case, then what may be involved is actually the practice of law. If a non-
Regulations, September 11th, 1946, S. 203.31. 'Counsel' lawyer, such as the Legal Clinic, renders such services then it is engaged
here means a licensed attorney, and ther representative' in the unauthorized practice of law.
1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears to give information on divorce, being no legal impediment under the statute to the sale of
absence, annulment of marriage and visas (See Annexes "A" and "B" the kit, there was no proper basis for the injunction
Petition). Purely giving informational materials may not constitute of law. against defendant maintaining an office for the purpose of
The business is similar to that of a bookstore where the customer buys selling to persons seeking a divorce, separation,
materials on the subject and determines on the subject and determines annulment or separation agreement any printed material
by himself what courses of action to take. or writings relating to matrimonial law or the prohibition in
the memorandum of modification of the judgment against
It is not entirely improbable, however, that aside from purely giving defendant having an interest in any publishing house
information, the Legal Clinic's paralegals may apply the law to the publishing his manuscript on divorce and against his
particular problem of the client, and give legal advice. Such would having any personal contact with any prospective
constitute unauthorized practice of law. purchaser. The record does fully support, however, the
finding that for the change of $75 or $100 for the kit, the
It cannot be claimed that the publication of a legal text defendant gave legal advice in the course of personal
which publication of a legal text which purports to say contacts concerning particular problems which might arise
what the law is amount to legal practice. And the mere in the preparation and presentation of the purchaser's
fact that the principles or rules stated in the text may be asserted matrimonial cause of action or pursuit of other
accepted by a particular reader as a solution to his legal remedies and assistance in the preparation of
problem does not affect this. . . . . Apparently it is urged necessary documents (The injunction therefore sought to)
that the conjoining of these two, that is, the text and the enjoin conduct constituting the practice of law, particularly
forms, with advice as to how the forms should be filled with reference to the giving of advice and counsel by the
out, constitutes the unlawful practice of law. But that is the defendant relating to specific problems of particular
situation with many approved and accepted texts. Dacey's individuals in connection with a divorce, separation,
book is sold to the public at large. There is no personal annulment of separation agreement sought and should be
contact or relationship with a particular individual. Nor affirmed. (State v. Winder, 348, NYS 2D 270 [1973], cited
does there exist that relation of confidence and trust so in Statsky, supra at p. 101.).
necessary to the status of attorney and client. THIS IS
THE ESSENTIAL OF LEGAL PRACTICE — THE 1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its services are "strictly non-
REPRESENTATION AND ADVISING OF A diagnostic, non-advisory. "It is not controverted, however, that if the
PARTICULAR PERSON IN A PARTICULAR services "involve giving legal advice or counselling," such would
SITUATION. At most the book assumes to offer general constitute practice of law (Comment, par. 6.2). It is in this light that FIDA
advice on common problems, and does not purport to submits that a factual inquiry may be necessary for the judicious
give personal advice on a specific problem peculiar to a disposition of this case.
designated or readily identified person. Similarly the
defendant's publication does not purport to give personal xxx xxx xxx
advice on a specific problem peculiar to a designated or
readily identified person in a particular situation — in their 2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically objectionable in that it can give the
publication and sale of the kits, such publication and sale impression (or perpetuate the wrong notion) that there is a secret
did not constitutes the unlawful practice of law . . . . There marriage. With all the solemnities, formalities and other requisites of
marriages (See Articles 2, et seq., Family Code), no Philippine marriage renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is, to
can be secret. that extent, practicing law. 18

2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically objectionable. The second In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, 19 after citing the doctrines in several cases, we
paragraph thereof (which is not necessarily related to the first paragraph) laid down the test to determine whether certain acts constitute "practice of law," thus:
fails to state the limitation that only "paralegal services?" or "legal support
services", and not legal services, are available." 11 Black defines "practice of law" as:

A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase "practice of law" becomes exigent The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of
for the proper determination of the issues raised by the petition at bar. On this score, we legal principles and technique to serve the interest of another with his
note that the clause "practice of law" has long been the subject of judicial construction consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting in
and interpretation. The courts have laid down general principles and doctrines explaining the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and
the meaning and scope of the term, some of which we now take into account. other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing,
the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and all actions taken for
law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of them in matters connected with the law.
law is to perform those acts which are characteristic of the profession. Generally, to
practice law is to give advice or render any kind of service that involves legal knowledge The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases on court.(Land Title Abstract
or skill. 12 and Trust Co. v. Dworken , 129 Ohio St. 23, 193N. E. 650). A person is also considered
to be in the practice of law when he:
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. It includes legal advice
and counsel, and the preparation of legal instruments and contract by which legal rights . . . . for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising
are secured, although such matter may or may not be pending in a court. 13 person, firms, associations or corporations as to their right under the law,
or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings,
In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law generally engages in three pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board,
principal types of professional activity: legal advice and instructions to clients to inform body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to settle
them of their rights and obligations, preparation for clients of documents requiring controversies and there, in such representative capacity, performs any
knowledge of legal principles not possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of their
clients before public tribunals which possess power and authority to determine rights of clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative
life, liberty, and property according to law, in order to assist in proper interpretation and capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as to their rights
enforcement of law. 14 under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in
court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of
When a person participates in the a trial and advertises himself as a lawyer, he is in the law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S. W. 2d 895,
practice of law. 15 One who confers with clients, advises them as to their legal rights and then 340 Mo. 852).
takes the business to an attorney and asks the latter to look after the case in court, is also
practicing law. 16 Giving advice for compensation regarding the legal status and rights of This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers Association v. Agrava (105 Phil. 173, 176-
another and the conduct with respect thereto constitutes a practice of law. 17 One who 177),stated:
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of activities in and out of court.
court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident Applying the aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, we agree with the perceptive
to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions and findings and observations of the aforestated bar associations that the activities of
proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in respondent, as advertised, constitute "practice of law."
addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken
for them in matters connected with the law incorporation services, The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal support services can neither be
assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance seriously considered nor sustained. Said proposition is belied by respondent's own
before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a description of the services it has been offering, to wit:
creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and
conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters or estate and Legal support services basically consists of giving ready information by
guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the trained paralegals to laymen and lawyers, which are strictly non-
preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done diagnostic, non-advisory, through the extensive use of computers and
involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of modern information technology in the gathering, processing, storage,
facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). transmission and reproduction of information and communication, such
as computerized legal research; encoding and reproduction of
Practice of law under modern conditions consists in no small part of work documents and pleadings prepared by laymen or lawyers; document
performed outside of any court and having no immediate relation to search; evidence gathering; locating parties or witnesses to a case; fact
proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal finding investigations; and assistance to laymen in need of basic
advice on a large variety of subjects and the preparation and execution of institutional services from government or non-government agencies, like
legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust birth, marriage, property, or business registrations; educational or
relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no employment records or certifications, obtaining documentation like
direct connection with court proceedings, they are always subject to clearances, passports, local or foreign visas; giving information about
become involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a high laws of other countries that they may find useful, like foreign divorce,
degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great marriage or adoption laws that they can avail of preparatory to emigration
capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These to the foreign country, and other matters that do not involve
customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate representation of clients in court; designing and installing computer
relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, systems, programs, or software for the efficient management of law
so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn offices, corporate legal departments, courts and other entities engaged in
between that part of the work of the lawyer which involves appearance in dispensing or administering legal services. 20
court and that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments in
his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these While some of the services being offered by respondent corporation merely involve
manifold customary functions be performed by persons possessed of mechanical and technical knowhow, such as the installation of computer systems and
adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and acting at all programs for the efficient management of law offices, or the computerization of research
times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all aids and materials, these will not suffice to justify an exception to the general rule.
attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules o Court, Vol. 3 [1973 ed.], pp.
665-666, citing In Re Opinion of the Justices [Mass], 194 N. E. 313,
What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives out legal information to
quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 197 A.
laymen and lawyers. Its contention that such function is non-advisory and non-diagnostic
139, 144).
is more apparent than real. In providing information, for example, about foreign laws on
marriage, divorce and adoption, it strains the credulity of this Court that all the There are cases which do not, in medical terms, require surgery or follow-
respondent corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy thereof to the up treatment. These The Legal Clinic disposes of in a matter of minutes.
client, and stop there as if it were merely a bookstore. With its attorneys and so called "Things like preparing a simple deed of sale or an affidavit of loss can be
paralegals, it will necessarily have to explain to the client the intricacies of the law and taken care of by our staff or, if this were a hospital the residents or the
advise him or her on the proper course of action to be taken as may be provided for by interns. We can take care of these matters on a while you wait basis.
said law. That is what its advertisements represent and for the which services it will Again, kung baga sa hospital, out-patient, hindi kailangang ma-confine.
consequently charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely within the jurisprudential It's just like a common cold or diarrhea," explains Atty. Nogales.
definition of "practice of law." Such a conclusion will not be altered by the fact that
respondent corporation does not represent clients in court since law practice, as the Those cases which requires more extensive "treatment" are dealt with
weight of authority holds, is not limited merely giving legal advice, contract drafting and accordingly. "If you had a rich relative who died and named you her sole
so forth. heir, and you stand to inherit millions of pesos of property, we would refer
you to a specialist in taxation. There would be real estate taxes and
The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an article published in the January arrears which would need to be put in order, and your relative is even
13, 1991 issue of the Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of the Philippines Star, entitled taxed by the state for the right to transfer her property, and only a
"Rx for Legal Problems," where an insight into the structure, main purpose and specialist in taxation would be properly trained to deal with the problem.
operations of respondent corporation was given by its own "proprietor," Atty. Rogelio P. Now, if there were other heirs contesting your rich relatives will, then you
Nogales: would need a litigator, who knows how to arrange the problem for
presentation in court, and gather evidence to support the case. 21
This is the kind of business that is transacted everyday at The Legal
Clinic, with offices on the seventh floor of the Victoria Building along U. N. That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to carry out its services is not
Avenue in Manila. No matter what the client's problem, and even if it is as controlling. What is important is that it is engaged in the practice of law by virtue of the
complicated as the Cuneta-Concepcion domestic situation, Atty. Nogales nature of the services it renders which thereby brings it within the ambit of the statutory
and his staff of lawyers, who, like doctors are "specialists" in various prohibitions against the advertisements which it has caused to be published and are now
fields can take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in taxation assailed in this proceeding.
and criminal law, medico-legal problems, labor, litigation, and family law.
These specialist are backed up by a battery of paralegals, counsellors Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P. WILOCI, said reported
and attorneys. facts sufficiently establish that the main purpose of respondent is to serve as a one-stop-
shop of sorts for various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal services from
Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in 1984. Inspired by the trend in the simple documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings. Most of these
medical field toward specialization, it caters to clients who cannot afford services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather, are exclusive
the services of the big law firms. functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of law. 22

The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in clients. "when they come, we It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services being offered by private respondent
start by analyzing the problem. That's what doctors do also. They ask you which constitute practice of law cannot be performed by paralegals. Only a person duly
how you contracted what's bothering you, they take your temperature, admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the
they observe you for the symptoms and so on. That's how we operate, provisions of the Rules of Court, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to
too. And once the problem has been categorized, then it's referred to one practice law. 23
of our specialists.
Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and limited acceptance of what may
qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyers is an be considered as paralegal service. As pointed out by FIDA, some persons not duly
individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper licensed to practice law are or have been allowed limited representation in behalf of
standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the another or to render legal services, but such allowable services are limited in scope and
court, the client and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to extent by the law, rules or regulations granting permission therefor. 30
practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the court. 24
Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial policy that, in the absence of
The same rule is observed in the american jurisdiction wherefrom respondent would wish constitutional or statutory authority, a person who has not been admitted as an attorney
to draw support for his thesis. The doctrines there also stress that the practice of law is cannot practice law for the proper administration of justice cannot be hindered by the
limited to those who meet the requirements for, and have been admitted to, the bar, and unwarranted intrusion of an unauthorized and unskilled person into the practice of
various statutes or rules specifically so provide. 25 The practice of law is not a lawful law. 31 That policy should continue to be one of encouraging persons who are unsure of their
business except for members of the bar who have complied with all the conditions required legal rights and remedies to seek legal assistance only from persons licensed to practice law
by statute and the rules of court. Only those persons are allowed to practice law who, by in the state. 32
reason of attainments previously acquired through education and study, have been
recognized by the courts as possessing profound knowledge of legal science entitling them to Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of
advise, counsel with, protect, or defend the rights claims, or liabilities of their clients, with Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services
respect to the construction, interpretation, operation and effect of law. 26 The justification for shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of
excluding from the practice of law those not admitted to the bar is found, not in the protection facts. 33 He is not supposed to use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading,
of the bar from competition, but in the protection of the public from being advised and deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications
represented in legal matters by incompetent and unreliable persons over whom the judicial or legal services. 34 Nor shall he pay or give something of value to representatives of the
department can exercise little control. 27 mass media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to attract legal business. 35 Prior to the
adoption of the code of Professional Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics had
We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's position that the concept in the also warned that lawyers should not resort to indirect advertisements for professional
United States of paralegals as an occupation separate from the law profession be employment, such as furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his
adopted in this jurisdiction. Whatever may be its merits, respondent cannot but be aware photograph to be published in connection with causes in which the lawyer has been or is
that this should first be a matter for judicial rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral engaged or concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved,
adoption as it has done. the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation. 36

Paralegals in the United States are trained professionals. As admitted by respondent, The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's advertisement of his talents.
there are schools and universities there which offer studies and degrees in paralegal A lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of his profession. advertise his talents or skill
education, while there are none in the Philippines. 28 As the concept of the "paralegals" or as in a manner similar to a merchant advertising his goods. 37 The prescription against
"legal assistant" evolved in the United States, standards and guidelines also evolved to advertising of legal services or solicitation of legal business rests on the fundamental
protect the general public. One of the major standards or guidelines was developed by the postulate that the that the practice of law is a profession. Thus, in the case of The Director of
American Bar Association which set up Guidelines for the Approval of Legal Assistant Religious Affairs. vs. Estanislao R. Bayot 38 an advertisement, similar to those of respondent
Education Programs (1973). Legislation has even been proposed to certify legal assistants. which are involved in the present proceeding, 39 was held to constitute improper advertising
There are also associations of paralegals in the United States with their own code of or solicitation.
professional ethics, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. and the
American Paralegal Association. 29 The pertinent part of the decision therein reads:
It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation degrees and other educational distinction; public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor;
by the respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar associations
solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the fact of
provides among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with
for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or brokers, their written consent, the names of clients regularly represented." 42
constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise
his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it cannot be
profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is
profession who stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by published principally for other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly
advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member of the publish his brief biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade
bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a law
money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worthy list the conduct, management or contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or
and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . . is the injure the public or the bar, or to lower the dignity or standing of the profession. 43
establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and
fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may contain
character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.). only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with,
address, telephone number and special branch of law practiced. The publication of a
We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that the best advertising possible for a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership,
lawyer is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, which associates, firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the profession, is
must be earned as the outcome of character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed in a telephone directory but not
client as well as to the community has a way of publicizing itself and catching public under a designation of special branch of law. 44
attention. That publicity is a normal by-product of effective service which is right and
proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no artificial stimulus to generate it and to Verily, taking into consideration the nature and contents of the advertisements for which
magnify his success. He easily sees the difference between a normal by-product of able respondent is being taken to task, which even includes a quotation of the fees charged
service and the unwholesome result of propaganda. 40 by said respondent corporation for services rendered, we find and so hold that the same
definitely do not and conclusively cannot fall under any of the above-mentioned
Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are prohibited. The canons of the exceptions.
profession enumerate exceptions to the rule against advertising or solicitation and define
the extent to which they may be undertaken. The exceptions are of two broad categories, The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of Arizona, 45 which is repeatedly
namely, those which are expressly allowed and those which are necessarily implied from invoked and constitutes the justification relied upon by respondent, is obviously not applicable
the restrictions. 41 to the case at bar. Foremost is the fact that the disciplinary rule involved in said case
explicitly allows a lawyer, as an exception to the prohibition against advertisements by
The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law lists, in a manner lawyers, to publish a statement of legal fees for an initial consultation or the availability upon
consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canons, of brief biographical request of a written schedule of fees or an estimate of the fee to be charged for the specific
and informative data. "Such data must not be misleading and may include only a services. No such exception is provided for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our former
statement of the lawyer's name and the names of his professional associates; Canons of Professional Ethics or the present Code of Professional Responsibility. Besides,
addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and even the disciplinary rule in the Bates case contains a proviso that the exceptions stated
place of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation, therein are "not applicable in any state unless and until it is implemented by such authority in
that state." 46 This goes to show that an exception to the general rule, such as that being advertising, cannot be subverted by employing some so-called paralegals supposedly
invoked by herein respondent, can be made only if and when the canons expressly provide rendering the alleged support services.
for such an exception. Otherwise, the prohibition stands, as in the case at bar.
The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition by respondent is the concern and
It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the American Bar Association after the province of the Solicitor General who can institute the corresponding quo
decision in Bates, on the attitude of the public about lawyers after viewing television warranto action, 50 after due ascertainment of the factual background and basis for the grant
commercials, it was found that public opinion dropped significantly 47 with respect to these of respondent's corporate charter, in light of the putative misuse thereof. That spin-off from
characteristics of lawyers: the instant bar matter is referred to the Solicitor General for such action as may be necessary
under the circumstances.
Trustworthy from 71% to 14%
Professional from 71% to 14% ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN and ENJOIN herein respondent, The
Honest from 65% to 14% Legal Clinic, Inc., from issuing or causing the publication or dissemination of any
Dignified from 45% to 14% advertisement in any form which is of the same or similar tenor and purpose as Annexes
"A" and "B" of this petition, and from conducting, directly or indirectly, any activity,
Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present situation of our legal and judicial operation or transaction proscribed by law or the Code of Professional Ethics as
systems, to allow the publication of advertisements of the kind used by respondent would indicated herein. Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Integrated Bar of the
only serve to aggravate what is already a deteriorating public opinion of the legal Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Office of the Solicitor General for
profession whose integrity has consistently been under attack lately by media and the appropriate action in accordance herewith.
community in general. At this point in time, it is of utmost importance in the face of such
negative, even if unfair, criticisms at times, to adopt and maintain that level of
professional conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert all efforts to regain the high
esteem formerly accorded to the legal profession.

In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of the lawyer, subject to disciplinary


action, to advertise his services except in allowable instances 48 or to aid a layman in the
unauthorized practice of law. 49 Considering that Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales, who is the prime
incorporator, major stockholder and proprietor of The Legal Clinic, Inc. is a member of the
Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded, with a warning that a repetition of the same or
similar acts which are involved in this proceeding will be dealt with more severely.

While we deem it necessary that the question as to the legality or illegality of the
purpose/s for which the Legal Clinic, Inc. was created should be passed upon and
determined, we are constrained to refrain from lapsing into an obiter on that aspect since
it is clearly not within the adjudicative parameters of the present proceeding which is
merely administrative in nature. It is, of course, imperative that this matter be promptly
determined, albeit in a different proceeding and forum, since, under the present state of
our law and jurisprudence, a corporation cannot be organized for or engage in the
practice of law in this country. This interdiction, just like the rule against unethical