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638 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Artiaga, Jr. vs. Villanueva

*
AC No. 1892. July 29,1988.

ATTY. LUIS V. ARTIAGA, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY.


ENRIQUE C. VILLANUEVA, respondent.

Attorneys; Disbarment; Unethical practice of respondent.—


Respondent Atty. Enrique C. Villanueva was found guilty of the
following unethical practices: (1) Causing his client to perjure
himself; (2) Lack of candor and respect toward his adversary and
the courts; and (3) Abuse of the right of recourse to the courts.

ADMINISTRATIVE CASE in the Supreme Court.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

________________

* EN BANC.

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VOL. 163, JULY 29, 1988 639


Artiaga, Jr. us. Villanueva

PER CURIAM:

In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on April 2, 1978,


Atty. Luis V. Artiaga, Jr. sought the disbarment of Atty.
Enrique C. Villanueva for alleged unethical practices.
By a resolution dated May 24, 1978, this Court required
respondent Atty. Enrique C. Villanueva to answer the
complaint. To the answer of respondent dated July 5, 1978,
complainant Atty. Luis V. Artiaga, Jr. filed his reply of
July 31, 1978.
After considering the answer of respondent, this Court
resolved to refer the case to the Solicitor General for
investigation, report and recommendation.

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The Solicitor General forwarded to the Court his Report


and Recommendation dated May 4, 1988 with the fmding
that respondent was guilty of misconduct and with the
recommendation that he be suspended from the practice of
law for a period of at least six (6) months.
The complaint for disbarment arose from four (4)
separate cases and several incidental cases with Juliano
Estolano, client of complainant Atty. Artiaga, Jr. and
Glicerio Aquino and/or Florentina Guanzon, clients of
respondent Atty. Villanueva, as adversaries in all of these
cases involving the same property.
The factual background of these cases is summed up in
the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No.
SP06600 dated November 16, 1977, a petition for certiorari
and prohibition, an offshoot of Civil Case No. 183-C for
Recovery of Possession filed by Estolano against Aquino
and Guanzon before the Court of First Instance of Laguna,
Branch VI on June 11,1974. Quoted hereunder are
pertinent portions of the Court's decision:

"There were three parcels of land involved herein. All contiguous


and adjoining to each other and located in Bambang, Los Barios,
Laguna. The first covered an area of 2.6793 hectares; the second,
an area of one hectare; and the third, an area of one-half hectare.
On July 20,1950, petitioner Juliano Estolano was issued original
Certificate of Title No. P-286 in his name over the first parcel.
There is no controversy, therefore, in respect of this first parcel,
the dispute being confined to the second and third parcels.

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Artiaga, Jr. vs. Villanueva

"The second and third parcels -were the object of Revocable


Permit Applications by Paciano Malabayabas and Canuto Suyo,
both filed on March 31, 1951. On June 12,1956, Canuto
transferred his right over the third parcel to petitioner. On March
4,1958, Malabayabas also sold his rights over the second parcel to
petitioner. On May 15,1958, petitioner filed Insular Government
Property Sales Application No. 1772 (New) covering the second
and third parcels.
"On November 7, 1958, Glicerio Aquino, private respondent,
filed his Revocable Permit Application over an area of 8,000
square meters, which was later found to cover a part of the first
parcel already titled in favor of petitioner and of the third parcel
transferred to him by Suyo. On December 29,1958, private

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respondent Florentina Guanzon, Aquino's sister-in-law, also filed


Revocable Permit Application over the second parcel.
"Eventually, the conflicts were taken cognizance of by the
Bureau of Lands (B.L. Conflict No. 3-953, and B.L.O. Conflict No.
236). On May 21,1962, the Director of Lands rendered a Decision
against private respondents, as follows:

'WHEREFORE, it is ordered that the Revocable Permit Application No.


V-14105 of Glicerio Aquino be, as hereby it is, rejected, forfeiting in favor
of the Government whatever amount has been paid on account thereof.
The Revocable Permit Application No. V-14142 of Florentina Guanzon
shall remain, as it is, rejected. Glicerio Aquino and Florentina Guanzon
shall vacate the land within sixty (60) days from their receipt of a copy
hereof. The new Insular Government Property Sales Application of
Julian Estolano shall be given due course after the survey of the land
covered thereby.'

"Private respondents moved for the reconsideration of the


aforequoted Decision, and the Director of Lands, in an Order of
August 13, 1962, amended his previous Decision as follows:

'WHEREFORE, our decision of May 21, 1962, is hereby modified by


awarding to protesting Glicerio Aquino preferential right to that area
actually occupied and cultivated by him, indicated as portion "K" in the
sketch drawn on the back hereof, and amending the Insular Government
Property Sales Application (New) of Juliano Estolano so as to exclude
therefrom the said portion. With this modification, the decision stands
confirmed.

"Petitioner and private respondents appealed the amended


Decision of the Director of Lands to the Secretary of Agriculture
and Natural Resources who, in a Decision dated September 9,
1963,

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VOL. 163, JULY 29, 1988 641


Artiaga, Jr. vs. Villanueva

dismissed the appeals of private respondents, set aside the Order


of the Director of Lands dated August 13, 1962, and affirmed the
latter's Decision of May 21,1962. Respondent Guanzon moved for
the reconsideration of the Secretary's Decision but said Motion
was denied.
"Respondent Aquino appealed the Decision of the Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources to the Office of the President
of the Philippines, which likewise affirmed the Decision appealed
from.

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"The Decision of the Director of Lands having become final, an


order of Execution thereof was issued on January 4, 1967, but this
notwithstanding, private respondents remained in possession of
the subject property. For failure to obtain possession thereof,
petitioner filed, on June 15,1974, the principal case, (Civil Case
No. 183-C) in the lower court which eventually gave rise to the
proceedings now challenged in this Petition." (pp. 3-7, Decision in
CA-G.R. No. Sp06600)

The restraining order issued in Civil Case No. 183-C on


October 27,1976 enjoining the Director of Lands from
enforcing the Order of Execution was set aside by the Court
of Appeals and the writ of prohibition prayed for by
petitioner Estolano was granted.
Meanwhile, on April 13, 1974, respondent's clients,
Aquino and Guanzon, filed a complaint for forcible entry
against complainant's client, Estolano, in the Municipal
Court of Los Baiios, Laguna docketed as Civil Case No.
192. This case was dismissed by the Municipal Court on
January 5,1977. On appeal to the Court of First Instance
(CPI), the order of dismissal was affirmed on November 4,
1979 in Civil Case No. 386-C. No appeal was interposed
from this decision, thus it became final.
The third case for annulment of Estolano's title over the
same land was filed by respondent's client, Aquino, with
the CFI on May 15,1974 docketed as Civil Case No. 179-C
which was dismissed on April 23, 1976. On appeal to the
Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA-G.R. No.
62576-R, the dismissal by the trial court was affirmed on
June 25,1981. Ori October 21,1981, the case was remanded
to the trial court for execution.
Finally, while their petition for certiorari and
prohibition over Civil Case No. 183-C was pending before
the Court of Appeals, respondent's clients, Aquino, filed a
complaint with
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Artiaga, Jr. vs. Villanueva

the Court of Agrarian Relations (CAR) at San Pablo City


docketed as CAR Case No. 7043 against Estolano and the
Director of Lands on July 1,1977. On July 2,1977, the CAR
issued an order requiring Estolano to respect Aquino's
possession. On May 18,1979, the CAR dismissed the case
and on appeal, its dismissal was affirmed in a decision of

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the Court of Appeals dated February 5,1981 in CA-G.R. No.


11635-CAR.
Respondent Atty. Enrique C. Villanueva is charged with
the following unethical practices: (1) That respondent had
caused his client to perjure himself; (2) That he lacks
candor and respect toward his adversary and the courts;
and (3) That he had been abusive of the right of recourse to
the courts.
We find respondent Atty. Villanueva guilty as above
charged.
Anent the first charge, the complaint and amended
complaint for forcible entry in Civil Case No. 192 filed by
respondent's client are clear proofs that respondent had
indeed caused his client Glicerio Aquino to perjure himself
as to the date he lost possession of the subject property so
as to place the case within the jurisdiction of the court.
Paragraph 5 of the original complaint filed on April
18,1974 reads:

"5. That sometime in the early part of 1960, defendant Julian


Estolano was able to dispossess plaintiffs spouses Glicerio Aquino
and Lorenza Magpantay of a portion
1
of the above-described parcel
of land xxx." (Italics supplied.)

Paragraph 5 of the Amended Complaint dated June


19,1974 reaas:

"5. That sometime in the early part of June, 1973, defendant


Julian Estolano and Segundo de los Santos unlawfully
dispossessed and/or deprived or turned out plaintiffs Sps. Aquino
and Magpantay thru stealth, strategy, force and intimidation of
and/or possession over a certain portion (now caused by defendant
Segundo de los Santos to be planted to bananas now of less than a
year old as of the filing of the original complaint) located on the
southern portion2 of their above-described landholding x x x."
(Italics supplied.)

________________

1 Exhibit "D".
2 Exhibit "F".

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Artiaga, Jr. vs. Villanueva

In the original complaint, respondent's client alleged that


he was dispossessed of the subject land in 1960, while in
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the amended complaint, he alleged it was in June, 1973.


Clearly, this was a ploy concocted by respondent to enable
the court to acquire jurisdiction over the case since a
forcible entry case must be filed within one year from the
accrual of the cause of action under Rule 70, Section 1.
Such action of respondent counsel is a clear violation of
his oath that "he will3 do no falsehood nor consent to the
doing of any in court." A legal counsel is of course expected
to defend his client's 4cause with zeal, but not at the
disregard of the truth. The duty of an attorney to the
courts to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes
confided to him, such means as are consistent
5
with truth
and honor cannot be overemphasized. His high vocation is
to correctly inform the court upon the law and the facts of
the case, and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at
correct eonclusions. He 6
violated his oath of office when he
resorted to deception. Worse, he had caused his client to
perjure himself thus subjecting the latter to criminal
prosecution for perjury brought
7
before the Municipal Court
of Los Banos, Laguna. Instead of safeguarding the
interests of his client as his responsibility dictates, he did
exactly the opposite by causing his client to commit a
felony.
From the foregoing, the lack of candor of respondent
counsel towards the court is evident. This lack of candor
and honesty to the courts and his adversary is further
demonstrated by other acts of respondent.
In Civil Case No. 192, respondent's clients were restored
to the possession of the 2-1/2 hectares of the imtitled
portion of subject property by virtue of a writ of
preliminary mandatory injunction issued by the court on
May 21,1974 upon filing of a property bond by respondent.
Upon the dismissal of the case on January 5,1977, the writ
of preliminary mandatory injunc-

_________________

3 Rule 138, Sec. 3.


4 Cosmos Foundry Shop Workers Union v. Lo Bu, 63 SCRA 313; Munoz
v. People, 53 SCRA 190.
5 Rulel38,Sec. 20 (d).
6 Pangan v. Ramos, 93 SCRA 87.
7 Docketed as Criminal Gase No. 2447 (Exhibit "GG").

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tion was dissolved and respondent's clients were ordered to


restore possession of subject property to complainant's
client Estolano. However, respondent blocked the order by
filing an urgent ex-parte motion seeking clarification as to
whether the dispositive portion of the order of January
5,1977 was immediately executory and asking the court to
allow his clients to remain in the meantime in the
premises. Before the court could even resolve the motion,
respondent perfected his appeal from the order of January
5,1977 on January 25,1977. Thus, when the court's order
affirming its previous order came out on January 26,1977,
the Provincial Sheriff of Laguna refused to implement the
orders of January 5 and 26, 1977 until the appeal has been
finally disposed of. On appeal, the CFI of Laguna, affinned
the questioned orders of the Municipal Court. When the
decision of the CFI became final because respondent failed
to appeal, his clients refused to abide by the Order of
Execution issued by the Municipal Court.
Consequently, Estolano filed an ex-parte motion asking
that the Provincial Sheriff be authorized to forcibly evict
respondent's clients. On the date set for the hearing of the
motion, respondent did not appear and instead filed his
"Opposition/ Manifestation" informing the court of a
petition for certiorari filed against the presiding judge
before the Court of First Instance of Laguna. In deference
to this petition, the Municipal Court resolved to hold in
abeyance the ex-parte motion of Estolano until resolution of
said petition.
Indeed, the manner in which respondent counsel
handled the forcible entry case filed against the client of
complainant shows his total lack of candor and respect for
the courts and the rights of his adversary. He had
employed every step necessary to forestall complainant's
client from taking rightful possossion of subject property.
He has shown utter disregard of the proper rules of
procedure to suit his purpose. While he filed his urgent ex-
parte motion for clarification, he chose not to wait for its
resolution and instead perfected his appeal to the Court of
First Instance. When finally the decision became executory
because of his failure to appeal to the Court of Appeals, he
filed a petition for certiorari against the decision of the CFI
which petition is obviously frivolous and a mere tactic to
delay enforcement of the court's decision. In the meantime,
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the clients of respondents refused to obey the order of


execution.
A lawyer
8
should obey all lawful orders and rulings of the
court. He should have counseled his clients to submit to
the order of the court instead of encouraging them to resist
such order. The actuations of respondent of employing
dilatory tactics by filing a clearly frivolous case amounts to
obstruction of the administration of justice which
constitutes misconduct
9
and justifies disciplinary action
against him.
Respondents counsel further demonstrated his
questionable motive by filing another case, this time for
annulment of the title of complainant's client to the other
2-1/2 hectares of subject land with the Court of First
Instance of Laguna, Branch VI. This case was dismissed on
the ground of res judicata and prescription. Respondent
appealed this ruling £0 the Court of Appeals where it was
pending resolution at the time the instant complaint for
disbarment was filed. The decision of the trial court was
affirmed and remanded to the lower court for execution.
Not satisfied with the above-mentioned appeal,
respondent counsel brought another case against
complainant's client this time before the Court of Agrarian
Relations (CAR Case No. 7043) for determination allegedly
of who had a better right over the subject property when he
was well aware of the absence of any tenancy relationship
between the parties.
An examination of the records shows that respondent
did not disclose before the Court of Agrarian Relations
(CAR) prior lawsuits and decisions rendered relative to the
subject land. As a result, respondent was able to secure ex-
parte from the CAR a restraining order against the
Director of Lands and Estolano on July 2, 1977. So when
the decision of the Court of First Instance of Laguna in
Civil Case No. 386-C affirming the decision of the trial
court in the forcible entry case No. 192 was rendered on
November 4, 1977 ordering the immediate restoration of
subject land to Estolano, because of the restraining order
issued by the agrarian court, the execution of the said
decision cannot be fully satisfied. To make matters worse,

________________

8 In re Dianala Jo, 1 SCRA 31.


9 People v. Jardin, 124 SCRA 167.

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Artiaga, Jr. vs. Villanueva

respondent even filed a criminal complaint against


complainant and his client, among others, for alleged
violation of P.D. 316 and the restraining order issued by 10
the Court of Agrarian Relations in CAR Case No. 7043.
The CAR dismissed this case and on appeal, the dismissal
was affirmed.
We also note that after respondent filed the case with
the CAR on July 1,3 977, he filed on July 5,1977 in Civil
Case No. 179-C before the CFI of Laguna, a motion to
dismiss the present action without prejudice to his clients'
right to prosecute their present action with the Court of
Agrarian Relations. The lower court denied the motion
since it had already dismissed the case on some other
ground and their appeal was already perfected without
plaintiffs' manifesting tfiat they are abandoning their
appeal. Thus, respondent was able to elevate two (2)
separate appeals—CA-G.R. No. 62576-R re: annulment of
title (Civil Case No. 179-C) and CA-G.R. No. 11635-CAR
arising from the CAR Case No. 7043, before the Court of
Appeals over the same issues-involving the same subject
property titled to Estolano.
The cause of respondent's clients is obviously bereft of
merit. Respondent was aware of this fact so he resorted to
forum shopping, continuously seeking the court where he
may possibly obtain favorable judgment, thereby adding to
the already clogged dockets of the courts with the
unmeritorious cases he filed. He grossly abused his right of
recourse to the courts by filing multiple petitions or
complaint& for a cause that had been previously rejected in
the false hope of getting some favorable action, 11somehow,
thus, obstructing the administration of justice. He was
derelict in his duty as counsel to maintain such actions or
proceedings only as appears to him to be just, and such
defenses12only as he believes to be honestly debatable under
the law. He had thus prostituted his office at the expense
of justice.
The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those
who measure
13
up to certain standards of mental and moral
fitness.

________________

10 Docketed as I.S. No. 3075.


11 People v. Jardin, supra; Cabagui v. CA, 67 SCRA 299.
12 Rule 138, Sec. 20 (c).
13 In re Gutierrez, 5 SCRA 661.

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647

VOL. 163, JULY 29, 1988 647


Luzon Stevedoring Corporation vs. Court of Tax Appeals

For a counsel who has been sworn to assist in the


administration of justice and to uphold the rule oflaw,
respondent has miserably failed to live up to the standards
expected of a member of the Bar. Instead of assisting in the
speedy disposition of cases, he made a mockery of our
system of justice, thus deserving to be censured and
penalized by this Court. No doubt, respondent is gujlty of
gross misconduct in office.
WHEREFORE, the respcmdent is hereby SUSPENDED
INDEFINITELY from the practice of law from date of
notice until such time that he can demonstrate to the court
that he has rehabilitated himself and deserves to resume
the practice of law. Let this decision be noted in the bar
recor.ds of respondent.
SO ORDERED.

          Fernan (C.J.), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera,


Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla,
Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Grino-Aquino and Medialdea,
JJ., concur.

Respondent suspended indefinitely from the practice


oflaw.

Note.—An attorney may be criminally liable for breach


of professional duty. (Halili vs. Court oflndustrial
Relations, 136 SCRA 112.)

——oOo——

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