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CASE DOCTRINES IN LEGAL ETHICS (part I)

Prepared by Glenn Rey Anino

WHAT CONSTITUTES PRACTICE OF LAW

Cayetano vs. Monsod, 201 SCRA 210, September 03, 1991


Constitutional Law; Qualifications of COMELEC Chairman; “Practice of law” defined.—
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of
law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. “To engage in the practice of
law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, to
practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service
requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill.” (111 ALR 23) Interpreted in
the light of the various definitions of the term “practice of law”, particularly the modern
concept of law practice, and taking into consideration the liberal construction intended
by the framers of the Constitution, Atty. Monsod’s past work experiences as a lawyer-
economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of
contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the poor—verily more than satisfy
the constitutional requirement—that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at
least ten years.

Same; Same; Judicial review of judgments rendered by the Commission on


Appointments.—The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted during the public
hearings on Monsod’s confirmation, implicitly determined that he possessed the
necessary qualifications as required by law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in
the exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference except only
upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such grave abuse of
discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commission’s judgment. In
the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court’s corrective power,
since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to lack or
excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been
clearly shown.

Lim-Santiago vs. Sagucio, 486 SCRA 10 , March 31, 2006


Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Practice of Law; Conflict of Interests; Canon 6 provides that the
Code “shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official
duties.” A government lawyer is thus bound by the prohibition “not [to] represent
conflicting interests.” Not only that, he is likewise prohibited from engaging in “unlawful
conduct” which includes violation of the statutory prohibition on a government
employee to “engage in the private practice of [his] profession unless authorized by the
Constitution or law.”— Canon 6 provides that the Code “shall apply to lawyers in
government service in the discharge of their official duties.” A government lawyer is thus
bound by the prohibition “not [to] represent conflicting interests.” However, this rule is
subject to certain limitations. The prohibition to represent conflicting interests does not
apply when no conflict of interest exists, when a written consent of all concerned is given
after a full disclosure of the facts or when no true attorney-client relationship exists.
Moreover, considering the serious consequence of the disbarment or suspension of a
member of the Bar, clear preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of
the administrative penalty. Respondent is also mandated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 not
to engage in “unlawful x x x conduct.” Unlawful conduct includes violation of the
statutory prohibition on a government employee to “engage in the private practice of
[his] profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice
will not conflict or tend to conflict with [his] official functions.”

Same; Same; Same; Same; In Quiambao vs. Bamba, 468 SCRA 1 (2005), the Supreme
Court enumerated various tests to determine conflict of interests.—In Quiambao v.
Bamba, the Court enumerated various tests to determine conflict of interests. One test of
inconsistency of interests is whether the lawyer will be asked to use against his former
client any confidential information acquired through their connection or previous
employment. In essence, what a lawyer owes his former client is to maintain inviolate
the client’s confidence or to refrain from doing anything which will injuriously affect him
in any matter in which he previously represented him.

Same; Same; Same; Same; A lawyer’s immutable duty to a former client does not cover
transactions that occurred beyond the lawyer’s employment with the client.—The fact
alone that respondent was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of
Taggat and the case he resolved as government prosecutor was labor-related is not a
sufficient basis to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests. A lawyer’s
immutable duty to a former client does not cover transactions that occurred beyond the
lawyer’s employment with the client. The intent of the law is to impose upon the lawyer
the duty to protect the client’s interests only on matters that he previously handled for
the former client and not for matters that arose after the lawyer-client relationship has
terminated.

Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; “Private practice of law” contemplates a
succession of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding one’s self to the
public as a lawyer.—The Court has defined the practice of law broadly as—x x x any
activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure,
knowledge, training and experience. “To engage in the practice of law is to perform
those acts which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give
notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in any
degree of legal knowledge or skill.” “Private practice of law” contemplates a succession
of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding one’s self to the public as a
lawyer.

Same; Same; Same; For as long as respondent performed acts that are usually rendered
by lawyers with the use of their legal knowledge, the same falls within the ambit of the
term “practice of law.”—Respondent argues that he only rendered consultancy services
to Taggat intermittently and he was not a retained counsel of Taggat from 1995 to 1996
as alleged. This argument is without merit because the law does not distinguish between
consultancy services and retainer agreement. For as long as respondent performed acts
that are usually rendered by lawyers with the use of their legal knowledge, the same falls
within the ambit of the term “practice of law.”

Same; Same; Same; Violations of RA 6713 are not subject to disciplinary action under the
Code of Professional Responsibility unless the violations also constitute infractions of
specific provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility.—Violations of RA 6713 are
not subject to disciplinary action under the Code of Professional Responsibility unless the
violations also constitute infractions of specific provisions of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Certainly, the IBP has no jurisdiction to investigate violations of RA
6713—the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees—
unless the acts involved also transgress provisions of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Here, respondent’s violation of RA 6713 also constitutes a violation of
Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which mandates that “[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.” Respondent’s admission that he received from
Taggat fees for legal services while serving as a government prosecutor is an unlawful
conduct, which constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01.

Same; Same; Same; Civil Service; Penalties; Under Civil Service Law and rules, the penalty
for government employees engaging in unauthorized private practice of profession is
suspension for six months and one day to one year.—The appropriate penalty on an
errant lawyer depends on the exercise of sound judicial discretion based on the
surrounding facts. Under Civil Service Law and rules, the penalty for government
employees engaging in unauthorized private practice of profession is suspension for six
months and one day to one year. We find this penalty appropriate for respondent’s
violation in this case of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
[Lim-Santiago vs. Sagucio, 486 SCRA 10(2006)].

GOOD MORAL CHARACTER

Aquino vs. Pascua, 539 SCRA 1 , November 28, 2007


Attorneys; Notarial Law; Statutory Construction; Words and Phrases; “Misconduct”
Defined; A lawyer is guilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties for failing to
register in his Notarial Register affidavits-complaints.—After a close review of the records
of this case, we resolve to adopt the findings of facts and conclusion of law by the Office
of the Bar Confidant. We find Atty. Pascua guilty of misconduct in the performance of his
duties for failing to register in his Notarial Register the affidavit-complaints of Joseph B.
Acorda and Remigio B. Domingo. “Misconduct” generally means wrongful, improper or
unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose. The
term, however, does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent.

Same; Same; Misconduct; Penalties; The penalty to be imposed for acts of misconduct
committed by a lawyer is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court; A three-month
suspension from practice of law for a first time offender is in order, and since the offense
is a ground for revocation of his notarial commission, the same should likewise be
imposed.—The penalty to be imposed for such act of misconduct committed by a lawyer
is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court. In Arrieta v. Llosa, 282 SCRA 248
(1997), wherein Atty. Joel A. Llosa notarized a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some
of the vendors were already dead, this Court held that such wrongful act “constitutes
misconduct” and thus imposed upon him the penalty of suspension from the practice of
law for six months, this being his first administrative offense. Also, in Vda. de Rosales v.
Ramos, 383 SCRA 498 (2002), we revoked the notarial commission of Atty. Mario G.
Ramos and suspended him from the practice of law for six months for violating the
Notarial Law in not registering in his notarial book the Deed of Absolute Sale he
notarized. In Mondejar v. Rubia, 496 SCRA 1 (2006), however, a lesser penalty of one
month suspension from the practice of law was imposed on Atty. Vivian G. Rubia for
making a false declaration in the document she notarized. In the present case, considering
that this is Atty. Pascua’s first offense, we believe that the imposition of a three-month
suspension from the practice of law upon him is in order. Likewise, since his offense is a
ground for revocation of notarial commission, the same should also be imposed upon
him. [Aquino vs. Pascua, 539 SCRA 1(2007)]

Re: Non-Disclosure before the Judicial and Bar Council of the Administrative
Case Filed against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, 530 SCRA 729 , August 22, 2007
Courts; Judges; It behooves every prospective appointee to the Judiciary to apprise the
appointing authority of every matter bearing on his fitness for judicial office, including
such circumstances as may reflect on his integrity and probity.—It behooves every
prospective appointee to the Judiciary to apprise the appointing authority of every
matter bearing on his fitness for judicial office, including such circumstances as may reflect
on his integrity and probity. These are qualifications specifically required of appointees to
the Judiciary by Sec. 7(3), Article VIII of the Constitution. In this case, Judge Quitain
failed to disclose that he was administratively charged and dismissed from the service for
grave misconduct per A.O. No. 183 dated April 10, 1995 by no less than the former
President of the Philippines.

Same; Same; Resignation; Due Process; A judge ought to know that cessation from office
by his resignation does not warrant the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed
against him while he was still in the service nor does it render said administrative case
moot and academic; In administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is simply
an opportunity to be heard, or an opportunity to explain one’s side or opportunity to
seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.—No amount of
explanation or justification can erase the fact that Judge Quitain was dismissed from the
service and that he deliberately withheld this information. His insistence that he had no
knowledge of A.O. No. 183 is belied by the newspaper items published relative to his
dismissal. It bears emphasis that in the Mindanao Times dated April 18, 1995, Judge
Quitain stated in one of his interviews that “I was dismissed from the (Napolcom) office
without due process.” It also reads: “Quitain, who was one of the guests in yesterday’s
Kapehan sa Dabaw, wept unabashedly as he read his prepared statement on his dismissal
from the government service.” Neither can we give credence to the contention that he
was denied due process. The documents submitted by the NAPOLCOM to the OCA
reveal that Commissioner Alexis C. Canonizado, Chairman Ad Hoc Committee, sent him
summons on March 19, 1993 informing him that an administrative complaint had been
filed against him and required him to file an answer. Then on March 29, 1993,
respondent, through his counsel, Atty. Pedro Castillo, filed an Answer. In administrative
proceedings, the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or an
opportunity to explain one’s side or opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action
or ruling complained of. Where opportunity to be heard either through oral arguments
or through pleadings is accorded, there is no denial of due process. Furthermore, as we
have earlier mentioned and which Judge Quitain ought to know, cessation from office
by his resignation does not warrant the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed
against him while he was still in the service nor does it render said administrative case
moot and academic. Judge Quitain was removed from office after investigation and was
found guilty of grave misconduct. His dismissal from the service is a clear proof of his
lack of the required qualifications to be a member of the Bench.

Same; Same; It is clear that respondent judge deliberately misled the Judicial and Bar
Council in his bid to gain an exalted position in the Judiciary.—It is clear that Judge
Quitain deliberately misled the JBC in his bid to gain an exalted position in the Judiciary.
In Office of the Court Administrator v. Estacion, Jr., 181 SCRA 33, this Court stressed: x x
x The important consideration is that he had a duty to inform the appointing authority
and this Court of the pending criminal charges against him to enable them to determine
on the basis of his record, eligibility for the position he was seeking. He did not discharge
that duty. His record did not contain the important information in question because he
deliberately withheld and thus effectively hid it. His lack of candor is as obvious as his
reason for the suppression of such a vital fact, which he knew would have been taken
into account against him if it had been disclosed.” Thus, we find respondent guilty of
dishonesty. “Dishonesty” means “disposition to lie, cheat or defraud; unworthiness; lack
of integrity.”

Same; Same; Resignation; The jurisdiction that the Court had at the time of the filing of
the administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the respondent judge by his
resignation and its consequent acceptance—without prejudice—by the Court, has ceased
to be in office during the pendency of his case.—On August 9, 2007, the Court received
a letter from Judge Quitain addressed to the Chief Justice stating that he is tendering his
irrevocable resignation effective immediately as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 10, Davao City. Acting on said letter, “the Court Resolved to accept the
irrevocable resignation of Judge Jaime V. Quitain effective August 15, 2007, without
prejudice to the decision of the administrative case.” Verily, the resignation of Judge
Quitain which was accepted by the Court without prejudice does not render moot and
academic the instant administrative case. The jurisdiction that the Court had at the time
of the filing of the administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the
respondent judge by his resignation and its consequent acceptance—without prejudice—
by this Court, has ceased to be in office during the pendency of this case. The Court
retains its authority to pronounce the respondent official innocent or guilty of the
charges against him. A contrary rule would be fraught with injustice and pregnant with
dreadful and dangerous implications. Indeed, if innocent, the respondent official merits
vindication of his name and integrity as he leaves the government which he has served
well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive the corresponding censure and a
penalty proper and imposable under the situation.

Bernardo, Jr. vs. Mejia, 211 SCRA 852 , July 29, 1992
Attorneys; An attorney who appropriated money entrusted by his client, and who falsely
gave assurances that he used the money for the purposes intended, and who issued bad
checks to re-pay them is ordered debarred.—A thoroughgoing review of the affidavits,
pleadings and other papers filed by the parties convinces this Court of the correctness of
the foregoing conclusions of the IBP Board of Governors. They are consequently hereby
adopted and approved. WHEREFORE, the Court DECLARES the respondent, Atty. Ismael
F. Mejia, guilty of all the charges against him and hereby imposes on him the penalty of
DISBARMENT. Pending finality of this judgment, and effective immediately, Atty. Ismael
F. Mejia is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law. Let a copy of this Decision be
spread in his record in the Bar Confidant’s Office, and notice thereof furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as well as the Court Administrator who is DIRECTED to
inform all the Courts concerned of this Decision.

Velez vs. De Vera, 496 SCRA 345 , July 25, 2006


Attorneys; Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP); The Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) By-Laws do not allow for preelection disqualification proceedings—absent a final
judgment by the Supreme Court in a proper case declaring otherwise, every lawyer
aspiring to hold the position of IBP Regional Director is presumed morally fit.—The
distinctions between the two cases are far from trivial. The previous case was resolved on
the basis of the parties’ rights and obligations under the IBP By-laws. We held therein
that Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified from running as Regional Governor as there is
nothing in the present IBP By-laws that sanctions the disqualification of candidates for IBP
governors. Consequently, we stressed that the petition had no firm ground to stand on.
Likewise, we held that the complainants therein were not the proper parties to bring the
suit as the IBP By-laws prescribes that only nominees—which the complainants were
not—can file with the IBP President a written protest against the candidate. The Court’s
statement, therefore, that Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified on the ground that he was
not morally fit was mere obiter dictum. Precisely, the IBP By-laws do not allow for pre-
election disqualification proceedings; hence, Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified on the
basis of the administrative findings of a hearing officer of the State Bar of California
suspending him from the practice of law for three years. We held in that case that—
There is nothing in the By-Laws which explicitly provides that one must be morally fit
before he can run for IBP governorship. For one, this is so because the determination of
moral fitness of a candidate lies in the individual judgment of the members of the House
of Delegates. Indeed, based on each member’s standard of morality, he is free to
nominate and elect any member, so long as the latter possesses the basic requirements
under the law. For another, basically the disqualification of a candidate involving lack of
moral fitness should emanate from his disbarment or suspension from the practice of law
by this Court, or conviction by final judgment of an offense which involves moral
turpitude. What this simply means is that absent a final judgment by the Supreme Court
in a proper case declaring otherwise, every lawyer aspiring to hold the position of IBP
Regional Director is presumed morally fit. Any person who begs to disagree will not be
able to find a receptive audience in the IBP through a petition for disqualification but
must first file the necessary disbarment or suspension proceeding against the lawyer
concerned.

Disbarment; Conflict of Laws; Where there is technically no foreign judgment to speak


of, the recommendation by the hearing officer of the State Bar of another jurisdiction
does not constitute prima facie evidence of unethical behavior by a Philippine lawyer
practicing in said jurisdiction.—In Philippine Aluminum Wheels, Inc. v. Fasgi Enterprises,
Inc., 342 SCRA 722 (2000), we explained that “[a] foreign judgment is presumed to be
valid and binding in the country from which it comes, until a contrary showing, on the
basis of a presumption of regularity of proceedings and the giving of due notice in the
foreign forum.”In herein case, considering that there is technically no foreign judgment to
speak of, the recommendation by the hearing officer of the State Bar of California does
not constitute prima facie evidence of unethical behavior by Atty. de Vera. Complainant
must prove by substantial evidence the facts upon which the recommendation by the
hearing officer was based. If he is successful in this, he must then prove that these acts are
likewise unethical under Philippine law.

Conflicts of Laws; The statutory enumeration of the grounds for disbarment or


suspension is not to be taken as a limitation on the general power of courts to suspend
or disbar a lawyer—the inherent power of the court over its officers cannot be
restricted.—Disciplinary action against a lawyer is intended to protect the court and the
public from the misconduct of officers of the court and to protect the administration of
justice by requiring that those who exercise this important function shall be competent,
honorable and reliable men in whom courts and clients may repose confidence. The
statutory enumeration of the grounds for disbarment or suspension is not to be taken as
a limitation on the general power of courts to suspend or disbar a lawyer. The inherent
power of the court over its officers cannot be restricted

Malpractice; Unprofessional Conduct; Words and Phrases; Malpractice ordinarily refers


to any malfeasance or dereliction of duty committed by a lawyer; Unprofessional
conduct in an attorney is that which violates the rules on ethical code of his profession or
which is unbecoming a member of that profession.—Malpractice ordinarily refers to any
malfeasance or dereliction of duty committed by a lawyer. Section 27 gives a special and
technical meaning to the term “Malpractice.” That meaning is in consonance with the
elementary notion that the practice of law is a profession, not a business. Unprofessional
conduct in an attorney is that which violates the rules on ethical code of his profession or
which is unbecoming a member of that profession.

Burden of Proof; In cases filed before administrative and quasijudicial bodies, a fact may
be deemed established if it is supported by substantial evidence or that amount of
relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a
conclusion—it means such evidence which affords a substantial basis from which the fact
in issue can be reasonably inferred.—In fact, Atty. de Vera did not deny complainant’s
allegation in the latter’s memorandum that he (de Vera) received US$12,000.00
intended for his client and that he deposited said amount in his personal account and not
in a separate trust account and that, finally, he spent the amount for personal purposes.
At this point, it bears stressing that in cases filed before administrative and quasi-judicial
bodies, a fact may be deemed established if it is supported by substantial evidence or that
amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
justify a conclusion. It means such evidence which affords a substantial basis from which
the fact in issue can be reasonably inferred.

Unprofessional Conduct; Beyond doubt, the unauthorized use by a lawyer of his client’s
funds is highly unethical.—Beyond doubt, the unauthorized use by a lawyer of his client’s
funds is highly unethical. Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is emphatic
about this, thus: CANON 16. A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND
PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME TO HIS POSSESSION. Rule 16.01. A
lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the
client. Rule 16.02. A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from
his own and those of others kept by him.

Attorneys; When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that
he denies the charges against him—he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence
against him.—Aside from these self-serving statements, however, we cannot find
anywhere in the records of this case proof that indeed Atty. de Vera was duly authorized
to use the funds of his client. In Radjaie v. Atty. Alovera, 337 SCRA 244 (2000), we
declared that—When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough
that he denies the charges against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the
evidence against him. He must show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality
and integrity which at all times is expected of him. Atty. de Vera cannot rely on the
statement made by the hearing officer that the elder Willis had indeed testified that he
“expected de Vera might use the money for a few days.” As Atty. de Vera had vigorously
objected to the admissibility of the document containing this statement, he is now
estopped from relying thereon. Besides, that the elder Willis “expected de Vera might use
the money for a few days” was not so much an acknowledgment of consent to the use
by Atty. de Vera of his client’s funds as it was an acceptance of the probability that Atty.
de Vera might, indeed, use his client’s funds, which by itself did not speak well of the
character of Atty. de Vera or the way such character was perceived.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP); Transferring Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
membership to a chapter where the lawyer is not a resident is not a ground for his
suspension or disbarment—the Code of Professional Responsibility as well as the
Lawyer’s Oath do not prohibit nor punish lawyers from aspiring to be IBP National
President and from doing perfectly legal acts in accomplishing such goal.—As it was
perfectly within Atty. de Vera’s right to transfer his membership, it cannot be said that he
is guilty of unethical conduct or behavior. And while one may incessantly argue that a
legal act may not necessarily be ethical, in herein case, we do not see anything wrong in
transferring to an IBP chapter that—based on the rotation rule—will produce the next
IBP EVP who will automatically succeed to the National Presidency for the next term.
Our Code of Professional Responsibility as well as the Lawyer’s Oath do not prohibit nor
punish lawyers from aspiring to be IBP National President and from doing perfectly legal
acts in accomplishing such goal.

Same; Due Process; The position of Executive Vice President (EVP) of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP) is not property within the constitutional sense especially since
there is no right to security of tenure over said position.—It needs stressing that the
constitutional provision on due process safeguards life, liberty and property. It cannot be
said that the position of EVP of the IBP is property within the constitutional sense
especially since there is no right to security of tenure over said position as, in fact, all that
is required to remove any member of the board of governors for cause is a resolution
adopted by 2/3 of the remaining members of the board.

Due Process; Words and Phrases; The term “due process of law” as used in the
Constitution has no fixed meaning for all purposes due “to the very nature of the
doctrine which, asserting a fundamental principle of justice rather than a specific rule of
law, is not susceptible of more than one general statement”—the phrase is so elusive of
exact apprehension, because it depends on circumstances and varies with the subject
matter and the necessities of the situation; The due process clause guarantees no
particular form of procedure and its requirements are not technical.—Even if the right of
due process could be rightfully invoked, still, in administrative proceedings, the essence
of due process is simply the opportunity to explain one’s side. At the outset, it is here
emphasized that the term “due process of law” as used in the Constitution has no fixed
meaning for all purposes due “to the very nature of the doctrine which, asserting a
fundamental principle of justice rather than a specific rule of law, is not susceptible of
more than one general statement.” The phrase is so elusive of exact apprehension,
because it depends on circumstances and varies with the subject matter and the necessities
of the situation. Due process of law in administrative cases is not identical with “judicial
process” for a trial in court is not always essential to due process. While a day in court is
a matter of right in judicial proceedings, it is otherwise in administrative proceedings
since they rest upon different principles. The due process clause guarantees no particular
form of procedure and its requirements are not technical. Thus, in certain proceedings of
administrative character, the right to a notice or hearing are not essential to due process
of law. The constitutional requirement of due process is met by a fair hearing before a
regularly established administrative agency or tribunal. It is not essential that hearings be
had before the making of a determination if thereafter, there is available trial and
tribunal before which all objections and defenses to the making of such determination
may be raised and considered. One adequate hearing is all that due process requires.
What is required for “hearing” may differ as the functions of the administrative bodies
differ.

Same; The right to cross-examine is not an indispensable aspect of due process.—The


right to cross-examine is not an indispensable aspect of due process. Nor is an actual
hearing always essential especially under the factual milieu of this case where the
members of the IBP Board—upon whose shoulders the determination of the cause for
removal of an IBP governor is placed subject to the approval of the Supreme Court—all
witnessed Atty. de Vera’s actuations in the IBP National Convention in question. It is
undisputed that Atty. de Vera received a copy of the complaint against him and that he
was present when the matter was taken up. From the transcript of the stenographic notes
of the 13 May 2005 meeting wherein Atty. de Vera was removed, it is patent that Atty.
de Vera was given fair opportunity to defend himself against the accusations made by
Atty. Rivera.

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP); Words and Phrases; The phrase “remaining
members” in Section 44 of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) By-Laws refers to
the members exclusive of the complainant member and the respondent member.—Under
the rules, a resolution for expulsion of an IBP Governor is done via a resolution adopted
by 2/3 of the remaining members. The phrase “remaining members” refers to the
members exclusive of the complainant member and the respondent member. The reason
therefore is that such members are interested parties and are thus presumed to be unable
to resolve said motion impartially. This being the case, the votes of Attys. Rivera and de
Vera should be stricken-off which means that only the votes of the seven remaining
members are to be counted. Of the seven remaining members, five voted for expulsion
while two voted against it which still adds up to the 2/3 vote requirement for expulsion.

Same; Doctrine of Majority Rule; Indubitably, conflicts and disagreements of varying


degrees of intensity, if not animosity, are inherent in the internal life of an organization,
but especially of the IBP since lawyers are said to disagree before they agree; The
effectiveness of the IBP, like any other organization, is diluted if the conflicts are brought
outside its governing body for then there would be the impression that the IBP, which
speaks through a Board of Governors, does not and cannot speak for its members in an
authoritative fashion; As a means of self-preservation, internecine conflicts must be
adjusted within the governing board itself so as to free it from the stresses that invariably
arise when internal cleavages are made public.—After weighing the arguments of the
parties and in keeping with the fundamental objective of the IBP to discharge its public
responsibility more effectively, we hereby find that Atty. de Vera’s removal from the IBP
Board was not capricious or arbitrary. Indubitably, conflicts and disagreements of varying
degrees of intensity, if not animosity, are inherent in the internal life of an organization,
but especially of the IBP since lawyers are said to disagree before they agree. However,
the effectiveness of the IBP, like any other organization, is diluted if the conflicts are
brought outside its governing body for then there would be the impression that the IBP,
which speaks through the Board of Governors, does not and cannot speak for its
members in an authoritative fashion. It would accordingly diminish the IBP’s prestige and
repute with the lawyers as well as with the general public. As a means of self-
preservation, internecine conflicts must thus be adjusted within the governing board itself
so as to free it from the stresses that invariably arise when internal cleavages are made
public.

Same; Same; The doctrine of majority rule is almost universally used as a mechanism for
adjusting and resolving conflicts and disagreements within the group after the members
have been given an opportunity to be heard; When the IBP Board is not seen by the bar
and the public as a cohesive unit, it cannot effectively perform its duty of helping the
Supreme Court enforce the code of legal ethics and the standards of legal practice as well
as improve the administration of justice.—The doctrine of majority rule is almost
universally used as a mechanism for adjusting and resolving conflicts and disagreements
within the group after the members have been given an opportunity to be heard. While
it does not efface conflicts, nonetheless, once a decision on a contentious matter is
reached by a majority vote, the dissenting minority is bound thereby so that the board
can speak with one voice, for those elected to the governing board are deemed to
implicitly contract that the will of the majority shall govern in matters within the
authority of the board. The IBP Board, therefore, was well within its right in removing
Atty. de Vera as the latter’s actuations during the 10th National IBP Convention were
detrimental to the role of the IBP Board as the governing body of the IBP. When the IBP
Board is not seen by the bar and the public as a cohesive unit, it cannot effectively
perform its duty of helping the Supreme Court enforce the code of legal ethics and the
standards of legal practice as well as improve the administration of justice. In view of the
importance of retaining group cohesiveness and unity, the expulsion of a member of the
board who insists on bringing to the public his disagreement with a policy/resolution
approved by the majority after due discussion, cannot be faulted. The effectiveness of the
board as a governing body will be negated if its pronouncements are resisted in public by
a board member. Indeed, when a member of a governing body cannot accept the voice
of the majority, he should resign therefrom so that he could criticize in public the
majority opinion/decision to his heart’s content; otherwise, he subjects himself to
disciplinary action by the body.

Same; To be Executive Vice President (EVP) of the IBP, one must necessarily be a member
of the IBP Board of Governors, and a lawyer’s removal from the Board of Governors
automatically disqualifies him from acting as IBP EVP.—The removal of Atty. de Vera as
member of the Board of Governors ipso facto meant his removal as EVP as well. Section
47, Article VII of the By-Laws of the IBP provides: SEC. 47. National Officers.—The
Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President and Executive Vice President to be
chosen by the Board of Governors from among nine (9) regional governors, as much as
practicable, on a rotation basis. x x x Thus, to be EVP of the IBP, one must necessarily be
a member of IBP Board of Governors. Atty. de Vera’s removal from the Board of
Governors, automatically disqualified him from acting as IBP EVP. To insist otherwise
would be contrary to Section 47 of the IBP ByLaws.

Same; Supreme Court; The power of supervision of the Supreme Court over the IBP
should not preclude the IBP from exercising its reasonable discretion especially in the
administration of its internal affairs governed by the provisions of its By-Laws.—While it
is true that the Supreme Court has been granted an extensive power of supervision over
the IBP, it is axiomatic that such power should be exercised prudently. The power of
supervision of the Supreme Court over the IBP should not preclude the IBP from
exercising its reason able discretion especially in the administration of its internal affairs
governed by the provisions of its By-Laws. The IBP By-Laws were precisely drafted and
promulgated so as to define the powers and functions of the IBP and its officers, establish
its organizational structure, and govern relations and transactions among its officers and
members. With these By-Laws in place, the Supreme Court could be assured that the IBP
shall be able to carry on its day-to-day affairs, without the Court’s interference.

Same; Article VI, Section 41(g) of the IBP By-Laws expressly grants to the Board the
authority to fill vacancies, however arising, in the IBP positions.—With the removal of
Atty. de Vera from the Board, by virtue of the IBP Board Resolution dated 13 May 2005,
he was also removed from his post as EVP; thus, there was a resultant vacancy in the
position of IBP EVP. Article VI, Section 41(g) of the IBP By-Laws expressly grants to the
Board the authority to fill vacancies, however arising, in the IBP positions, subject to the
provisions of Section 8 of the Integration Rule, and Section 11 (Vacancies), Section 44
(Removal of members), Section 47 (National officers), Section 48 (other officers), and
Section 49 (Terms of Office) of the By-Laws. The IBP Board has specific and sufficient
guidelines in its Rules and By-Laws on how to fill-in the vacancies after the removal of
Atty. de Vera. We have faith and confidence in the intellectual, emotional and ethical
competencies of the remaining members of the 2005-2007 Board in dealing with the
situation within the bounds of the IBP Rules and By-Laws.

Same; Rotation Rule; Automatic Succession Rule; The rotation rule pertains in particular
to the position of IBP EVP, while the automatic succession rule pertains to the
Presidency—the rotation with respect to the Presidency is but a consequence of the
automatic succession rule provided in Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.—In Bar Matter 491,
it is clear that it is the position of IBP EVP which is actually rotated among the nine
Regional Governors. The rotation with respect to the Presidency is merely a result of the
automatic succession rule of the IBP EVP to the Presidency. Thus, the rotation rule
pertains in particular to the position of IBP EVP, while the automatic succession rule
pertains to the Presidency. The rotation with respect to the Presidency is but a
consequence of the automatic succession rule provided in Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.
In the case at bar, the rotation rule was duly complied with since upon the election of
Atty. De Vera as IBP EVP, each of the nine IBP regions had already produced an EVP and,
thus, the rotation was completed. It is only unfortunate that the supervening event of
Atty. de Vera’s removal as IBP Governor and EVP rendered it impossible for him to
assume the IBP Presidency. The fact remains, however, that the rotation rule had been
completed despite the non-assumption by Atty. de Vera to the IBP Presidency.

Same; Same; The application of the rotation rule is not a license to disregard the spirit
and purpose of the automatic succession rule, but should be applied in harmony with the
latter; The automatic succession rule affords the IBP leadership transition seamless and
enables the new IBP National President to attend to pressing and urgent matters without
having to expend valuable time for the usual adjustment and leadership consolidation
period.—The application of the rotation rule is not a license to disregard the spirit and
purpose of the automatic succession rule, but should be applied in harmony with the
latter. The automatic succession rule affords the IBP leadership transition seamless and
enables the new IBP National President to attend to pressing and urgent matters without
having to expend valuable time for the usual adjustment and leadership consolidation
period. The time that an IBP EVP spends assisting a sitting IBP President on matters
national in scope is in fact a valuable and indispensable preparation for the eventual
succession. It should also be pointed out that this wisdom is further underscored by the
fact that an IBP EVP is elected from among the members of the IBP Board of Governors,
who are serving in a national capacity, and not from the members at large. It is intrinsic
in the IBP ByLaws that one who is to assume the highest position in the IBP must have
been exposed to the demands and responsibilities of national leadership.

MEMBERSHIP IN GOOD STANDING

LAW STUDENT PRACTICE

Cruz vs. Mina, 522 SCRA 382 , April 27, 2007


Criminal Procedure; Law Student Practice Rule; As succinctly clarified in Bar Matter No.
730, by virtue of Section 34, Rule 138, a law student may appear, as an agent or a friend
of a party litigant, without the supervision of a lawyer before inferior courts.—Section
34, Rule 138 is clear that appearance before the inferior courts by a non-lawyer is
allowed, irrespective of whether or not he is a law student. As succinctly clarified in Bar
Matter No. 730, by virtue of Section 34, Rule 138, a law student may appear, as an
agent or a friend of a party litigant, without the supervision of a lawyer before inferior
courts.

Same; Recovery of Civil Liability; When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for
the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted
with criminal action, unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right
to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.—Under
Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, every person criminally liable for a felony is also
civilly liable except in instances when no actual damage results from an offense, such as
espionage, violation of neutrality, flight to an enemy country, and crime against popular
representation. The basic rule applies in the instant case, such that when a criminal action
is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense
charged shall be deemed instituted with criminal action, unless the offended party waives
the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action
prior to the criminal action.

Same; Same; Petitioner is correct in stating that there being no reservation, waiver nor
prior institution of the civil aspect in Criminal Case No. 00-1705, it follows that the civil
aspect arising from Grave Threats is deemed instituted with criminal action; Private
prosecutor may rightfully intervene to prosecute the civil aspect.—The petitioner is
correct in stating that there being no reservation, waiver, nor prior institution of the civil
aspect in Criminal Case No. 00-1705, it follows that the civil aspect arising from Grave
Threats is deemed instituted with the criminal action, and, hence, the private prosecutor
may rightfully intervene to prosecute the civil aspect.

MEMBERSHIP IN THE IBP

In re Atty. Marcial Edillon, 84 SCRA 554, August 03, 1978


Bar Integration; Attorneys; Disbarment; Payment of membership dues; Integration of the
Bar, its concept and purpose.—An “Integrated Bar” is a State-organized Bar, to which
every lawyer must belong, as distinguished from bar associations organized by individual
lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary. Integration of the Bar is
essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is afforded an opportunity to do
his share in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as well as obliged to hear his portion of
its responsibilities. Organized by or under the direction of the State, an Integrated Bar is
an official national body of which all lawyers are required to be members. They are,
therefore, subject to all the rules prescribed for the governance of the Bar, including the
requirement of payment of a reasonable annual fee for the effective discharge of the
purposes of the Bar, and adherence to a code of professional ethics or professional
responsibility breach of which constitutes sufficient reason for investigation by the Bar
and, upon proper cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline or disbarment of the
offending member. The integration of the Philippine Bar was obviously dictated by
overriding considerations of public interest and public welfare to such an extent as more
than constitutionally and legally justifies the restrictions that integration imposes upon
the personal interests and personal convenience of individual lawyers.

Same; Same; Same; Police power; Integration of the Bar is a valid exercise of police
power of the State; Practice of law, nature of.—Apropos to the above, it must be
stressed that all legislation directing the integration of the Bar have been uniformly and
universally sustained as a valid exercise of the police power over an important
profession. The practice of law is not a vested right but a privilege, a privilege moreover
clothed with public interest because a lawyer owes substantial duties not only to his
client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts, and to the nation, and
takes part in one of the most important functions of the State—the administration of
justice—as an officer of the court. The practice of law being clothed with public interest,
the holder of this privilege must submit to a degree of control for the common good, to
the extent of the interest he has created. As the U. S. Supreme Court through Mr. Justice
Roberts explained, the expression “affected with a public interest” is the equivalent of
“subject to the exercise of the police power”.

Same; Same; Same; Courts; Supreme Court authorized to adopt rules of court to effect
integration of the Philippine Bar; Purposes of integration of the Bar.—When, therefore.
Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6397 authorizing the Supreme Court to “adopt rules
of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under such conditions as it shall see
fit,” it did so in the exercise of the paramount-police power of the State. The Act’s
avowal is to “raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of
justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively.” Hence,
the Congress in enacting such Act, the Court in ordaining the integration of the Bar
through its Resolution promulgated on January 9, 1973, and the President of the
Philippines in decreeing the constitution of the IBP into a body corporate through
Presidential Decree No. 181 dated May 4, 1973, were prompted by fundamental
considerations of public welfare and motivated by a desire to meet the demands of
pressing public necessity. The State, in order to promote the general welfare, may
interfere with and regulate personal liberty, property and occupations. Persons and
property may be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to secure the general
prosperity and welfare of the State (U.S. Gomez, Jesus, 31 Phil. 218), for, as the Latin
maxim goes, “Salus populi eat suprema lex.” The public welfare is the supreme law. To
this fundamental principle of government the rights of individuals are subordinated.
Liberty is a blessing without which life is a misery, but liberty should not be made to
prevail over authority because then society will fall into anarchy (Calalang vs. Williams,
70, Phil. 726). It is an undoubted power of the State to restrain some individuals from all
freedom, and all individuals from some freedom.

Same; Same; Same; Practice of law and exercise of the legal profession clothed with
public interest and lawyers must be bound by such regulations as might be established by
the proper authorities for the common good; Reasons.—Thus, when the respondent
Edillon entered upon the legal profession, his practice of law and his exercise of the said
profession, which affect the society at large, were (and are) subject to the power of the
body politic to require him to conform to such regulations as might be established by the
proper authorities for the common good, even to the extent of interfering with some of
his liberties. If he did not wish to submit himself to such reasonable interference and
regulation, he should not have clothed the public with an interest in his concerns.

Same; Same; Same; Constitutional Law; Constitutionality and validity of Bar integration
sustained by explicit grant of precise power to the Supreme Court under Art. X of the
1973 Constitution resting the Court with plenary power in all cases regarding admistion
to and supervision of the practice of law.—But the most compelling argument sustaining
the constitutionality and validity of Bar Integration in the Philippines is the explicit
unequivocal grant of precise power to the Supreme Court by Section 5 (5) of Article X of
the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines. xxx Quite apart from the above, let it be stated
that even without the enabling Act (Republic Act No. 6397), and looking solely to the
language of the provision of the Constitution granting the Supreme Court the power “to
promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, and the
admission to the practice of law,” it at once becomes indubitable that this constitutional
declaration vests the Supreme Court with plenary power in all cases regarding the
admission to and supervision of the practice of law.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Membership dues; Effect of Bar integration upon a lawyer’s
freedom of association; Compelling a lawyer to be a member of the Integrated Bar not
violative of the constitutional freedom to associate but the only compulsion a lawyer is
subjected is the payment of annual dues which is not violation of the Constitution;
Compulsion upon a lawyer if any justified by exercise of police power of the State;
Reasons.—The first objection posed by the respondent is that the Court is without power
to compel him to become a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, hence,
Section 1 of the Court Rule is unconstitutional for it impinges on his constitutional right of
freedom to associate (and not to associate). Our answer is: To compel a lawyer to be a
member of the Integrated Bar is no violative of his constitution freedom to associate.
Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any group of which he is not already a
member. He became a member of the Bar when he passed the Bar examinations. All that
integration actually does is to provide an official national organization for the well-
defined but unorganized and incohesive group of which every lawyer is already a
member. Bar Integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is free
to attend or not attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to
vote in its elections as he chooses. The only compulsion to which he is subjected is the
payment of annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order to further the State’s legitimate
interest in elevating the quality of professional legal services, may require that the cost of
improving the professional in his fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of
the regulatory program—the lawyers. Assuming that the questioned provision does in a
sense compel a lawyer to be member of the Integrated Bar, such compulsion is justified
as an exercise of the police power of the State.

Same; Same; Same: Same; Same; Provisions of the Court Rule requiring payment of
membership dues by lawyers not violative of the Constitution; The 1973 Constitution
does not prohibit the Supreme Court from requiring lawyers to pay reasonable
membership fees; Nature of membership fees.—The second issue posed by the
respondent is that the provision of the Court Rule repairing payment of a membership
fee is void. We see nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the Court, under its
constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules concerning the admission to the
practice of law and the integration of the Philippine Bar (Article X, Section 5 of the 1973
Constitution)—which power the respondent acknowledges—from requiring members of
a privileged class, such as lawyers are, to pay a reasonable fee toward defraying the
expenses of regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is quite apparent that
the fee is indeed imposed as a regulatory measure, designed to raise funds for carrying
out the objectives and purposes of integration.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Penalties; Enforcement of penalty provisions for non-
payment of membership dues not a deprivation of due process; Reasons; Practice of law
in the courts subject to regulation and inquiry; Practice of law is not property right but
mere privilege.—That respondent further argues that the enforcement of the penalty
provisions would amount to a deprivation of property without due process and hence
infringes on one of his constitutional rights. Whether the practice of law is property right,
in the sense of its being one that entitles the holder of a license to practise of law is a
property right, in the sense of its being one that entitles the holder of a license to practise
a profession, we do not here pause to consider at length, as it is clear that under the
police power of the State, and under necessary powers granted to the Court to
perpetuate its existence, the respondent’s right to practise law before the courts of this
country should be and is a matter subject to regulation and inquiry. And, if the power to
imposed the fee as regulatory measure is recognized, then a penalty designed to enforce
its payment, which penalty may be avoided altogether by payment, is not void as
unreasonable or arbitrary. But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is not a
property right but a mere privilege, and as such must bow to the inherent regulatory
power of the Court to exact compliance with the lawyer’s public responsibilities.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Supreme Court; Jurisdiction; The Supreme Court has
power and jurisdiction to strike the name of a lawyer from its Roll of Attorneys; Court’s
jurisdiction provided for in the 1973 Constitution.—Relative to the issue of the power
and/or jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to strike the name of a lawyer from its Roll of
Attorneys, it is sufficient to state that the matters of admission, suspension, disbarment
and reinstatement of lawyers and their regulation and supervision have been and are
indisputably recognized as inherent judicial functions and responsibilities, and the
authorities holding such are legion. The Court’s jurisdiction was greatly reinforced by our
1973 Constitution when it explicitly granted to the Court the power to “promulgate rules
concerning pleading, practice . . . . . . . and the admission to the practice of law and the
integration of the Bar . . . . .” (Article X, Sec. 5[5]) The power to pass upon the fitness of
the respondent to remain a member of the legal profession is indeed undoubtedly vested
in the Court.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Rule of Court 139-A and ByLaws of the Integrated Bar
providing for payment of membership dues are neither unconstitutional nor illegal;
Respondent lawyer disbarred and his name striken from the Roll of Attorneys in the
Supreme Court for repeated failure to pay membership dues; Case at bar.—We thus
reach the conclusion that the provisions of Rule of Court 139-A and of the By-Laws of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines complained of are neither unconstitutional nor
illegal. x x x It is the unanimous sense of the Court that the respondent Marcial A. Edillon
should be as he is hereby disbarred, and his name is hereby ordered stricken from the
Roll of Attorneys of the Court.
THE LAWYER & SOCIETY/NOTARIAL PRACTICE

Zaldivar vs. Sandiganbayan, 170 SCRA 1 , February 01, 1989


Constitutional Law; Bill of Rights; Freedom of Expression; Contempt of Court; Direct and
Indirect Contempt; In convicting respondent Gonzalez of contempt of court in facie
curiae, the Court did not use the phrase in facie curiae as a technical equivalent of direct
contempt.—In respondent’s point A, it is claimed that it was error for this Court “to
charge respondent [with] indirect contempt and convict him of direct contempt.” In the
per curiam Resolution, the Court concluded that “respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of
contempt of court in facie curiae and of gross misconduct as an officer of the court and
member of the bar.” The Court did not use the phrase “in facie curiae” as a technical
equivalent of “direct contempt,” though we are aware that courts in the United States
have sometimes used that phrase in speaking of “direct contempts” as “contempts in the
face of the courts.” Rather, the Court sought to convey that it regarded the contumacious
acts or statements (which were made both in a pleading filed before the Court and in
statements given to the media) and the misconduct of respondent Gonzalez as serious
acts flaunted in the face of the Court and constituting a frontal assault upon the integrity
of the Court and, through the Court, the entire judicial system. What the Court would
stress is that it required respondent, in its Resolution dated 2 May 1988, to explain “why
he should not be punished for contempt of court and/or subjected to administrative
sanctions” and in respect of which, respondent was heard and given the most ample
opportunity to present all defenses, arguments and evidence that he wanted to present
for the consideration of this Court. The Court did not summarily impose punishment
upon the respondent which it could have done under Section 1 of Rule 71 of the Revised
Rules of Court had it chosen to consider respondent’s acts as constituting “direct
contempt.”

Same; Same; Same; Same; Legal Ethics; Lawyers; Complaints against lawyers; Referral of a
complaint filed against an attorney to the Solicitor General for investigation is not
required where the Supreme Court itself has initiated the charges against the respondent
lawyer.—In its per curiam Resolution, the Court referred to Rule 139 (b) of the Revised
Rules of Court pointing out that: “[R]eference of complaints against attorneys either to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is not mandatory upon
the Supreme Court; such reference to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the
Solicitor General is certainly not an exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139 (b)
of the Revised Rules of Court, especially where the charge consists of acts done before
the Supreme Court.” x x x Thus, there is no need to refer a case to the Solicitor General,
which referral is made “for investigation to determine if there is sufficient ground to
proceed with the prosecution of the respondent” (Section 3, Rule 139), where the Court
itself has initiated charges against the respondent. The Court may, of course, refer a case
to the Solicitor General if it feels that, in a particular case, further factual investigation is
needed. In the present case, as pointed out in the per curiam Resolution of the Court,
there was “no need for further investigation of facts in the present case for it [was] not
substantially disputed by respondent Gonzalez that he uttered or wrote certain
statements attributed to him” and that “in any case, respondent has had the amplest
opportunity to present his defense: his defense is not that he did not make the statements
ascribed to him but that those statements give rise to no liability on his part, having been
made in the exercise of his freedom of speech.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Clear and present danger rule; The clear and present danger
test is not the only test which has been recognized and applied by courts for making out
the appropriate limits of freedom of speech and of assembly.—The “clear and present
danger” doctrine invoked by respondent’s counsel is not a magic incantation which
dissolves all problems and dispenses with analysis and judgment in the testing of the
legitimacy of claims to free speech, and which compels a court to exonerate a defendant
the moment the doctrine is invoked, absent proof of impending apocalypse. The “clear
and present danger” doctrine has been an accepted method for making out the
appropriate limits of freedom of speech and of assembly in certain contexts. It is not,
however, the only test which has been recognized and applied by courts. In Lagunzad v.
Vda. de Gonzales, this Court, speaking through Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera said: x x
x The prevailing doctrine is that the clear and present danger rule is such a limitation.
Another criterion for permissible limitation on freedom of speech and of the press, which
includes such vehicles of the mass media as radio, television and the movies, is the
‘balancing-of-interests test’ (Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando of the Bill of Rights, 1970
ed., p. 79). The principle ‘requires a court to take conscious and detailed consideration of
the interplay of interests observable in a given situation or type of situation’ (Separate
Opinion of the late Chief Justice Castro in Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, supra,
p. 899).” Under either the “clear and present danger” test or the “balancing-of-interest
test,” we believe that the statements here made by respondent Gonzalez are of such
nature and were made in such a manner and under such circumstances, as to transcend
the permissible limits of free speech. This conclusion was implicit in the per curiam
Resolution of October 7, 1988. It is important to point out that the “substantive evil”
which the Supreme Court has a right and a duty to prevent does not, in the instant case,
relate to threats of physical disorder or overt violence or similar disruptions of public
order. What is here at stake is the authority of the Supreme Court to confront and
prevent a “substantive evil” consisting not only of the obstruction of a free and fair
hearing of a particular case but also the avoidance of the broader evil of the degradation
of the judicial system of a country and the destruction of the standards of professional
conduct required from members of the bar and officers of the courts. The “substantive
evil” here involved, in other words, is not as palpable as a threat of public disorder or
rioting but is certainly no less deleterious and more far reaching in its implications for
society.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Cruel and Unusual Punishments; The imposition of the penalty
of indefinite suspension from the practice of law against respondent is not cruel,
degrading and inhuman.—In his point J, respondent’s counsel pleads that the imposition
of indefinite suspension from the practice of law constitutes “cruel, degrading or
inhuman punishment.” The Court finds it difficult to consider this a substantial
constitutional argument. The indefiniteness of the respondent’s suspension, far from
being “cruel” or “degrading” or “inhuman,” has the effect of placing, as it were, the key
to the restoration of his rights and privileges as a lawyer in his own hands. That sanction
has the effect of giving respondent the chance to purge himself in his own good time of
his contempt and misconduct by acknowledging such misconduct, exhibiting appropriate
repentance and demonstrating his willingness and capacity to live up to the exacting
standards of conduct rightly demanded from every member of the bar and officer of the
courts.

Santuyo vs. Hidalgo, 448 SCRA 282 , January 17, 2005


Attorneys; Legal Ethics; Notarial Law; Respondent lawyer had been negligent not only in
the supposed notarization but foremost in having allowed the office secretaries to make
the necessary entries in his notarial registry which was supposed to be done and kept by
him alone.—In finding respondent negligent in performing his notarial functions, the IBP
reasoned out: x x x xxx x x x. Considering that the responsibility attached to a
notary public is sensitive respondent should have been more discreet and cautious in the
execution of his duties as such and should not have wholly entrusted everything to the
secretaries; otherwise he should not have been commissioned as notary public. For
having wholly entrusted the preparation and other mechanics of the document for
notarization to the secretary there can be a possibility that even the respondent’s
signature which is the only one left for him to do can be done by the secretary or
anybody for that matter as had been the case herein. As it is respondent had been
negligent not only in the supposed notarization but foremost in having allowed the
office secretaries to make the necessary entries in his notarial registry which was supposed
to be done and kept by him alone; and should not have relied on somebody else.

Sicat vs. Ariola, Jr., 456 SCRA 93 , April 15, 2005


Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Notarial Law; The act of a lawyer of notarizing a Special Power
of Attorney knowing that the person who allegedly executed it was already dead is a
serious breach of the sacred obligation imposed upon him by the Code of Professional
Responsibility, specifically Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which prohibited him from engaging in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct—as a lawyer and as an officer of the
court, it is his duty to serve the ends of justice, not to corrupt it.—After a careful review
of the records, we find that respondent never disputed complainant’s accusation that he
notarized the SPA purportedly executed by Benitez on January 4, 2001. He likewise
never took issue with the fact that on said date, Benitez was already dead. His act was a
serious breach of the sacred obligation imposed upon him by the Code of Professional
Responsibility, specifically Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which prohibited him from engaging in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. As a lawyer and as an officer of the
court, it was his duty to serve the ends of justice, not to corrupt it. Oath-bound, he was
expected to act at all times in accordance with law and ethics, and if he did not, he
would not only injure himself and the public but also bring reproach upon an honorable
profession.
Same; Same; Same; Lawyers commissioned as notaries public should not authenticate
documents unless the persons who signed them are the very same persons who executed
them and personally appeared before them to attest to the contents and truth of what
are stated therein.—In the recent case of Zaballero v. Atty. Mario J. Montalvan, where
the respondent notarized certain documents and made it appear that the deceased father
of complainant executed them, the Court declared the respondent there guilty of
violating Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Court was
emphatic that lawyers commissioned as notaries public should not authenticate
documents unless the persons who signed them are the very same persons who executed
them and personally appeared before them to attest to the contents and truth of what
are stated therein. The Court added that notaries public must observe utmost fidelity, the
basic requirement in the performance of their duties, otherwise the confidence of the
public in the integrity of notarized deeds and documents will be undermined.

Same; Same; Same; Notarization is not an empty, meaningless and routinary act—it
converts a private document into a public instrument, making it admissible in evidence
without the necessity of preliminary proof of its authenticity and due execution.—In the
case at bar, the records show that Benitez died on October 25, 2000. However,
respondent notarized the SPA, purportedly bearing the signature of Benitez, on January
4, 2001 or more than two months after the latter’s death. The notarial acknowledgement
of respondent declared that Benitez “appeared before him and acknowledged that the
instrument was his free and voluntary act.” Clearly, respondent lied and intentionally
perpetuated an untruthful statement. Notarization is not an empty, meaningless and
routinary act. It converts a private document into a public instrument, making it
admissible in evidence without the necessity of preliminary proof of its authenticity and
due execution.

Same; Same; Same; A lawyer’s assertion of falsehood in a public document contravenes


one of the most cherished tenets of the legal profession and potentially cast suspicion on
the truthfulness of every notarial act.—Neither will respondent’s defense that the SPA in
question was superfluous and unnecessary, and prejudiced no one, exonerate him of
accountability. His assertion of falsehood in a public document contravened one of the
most cherished tenets of the legal profession and potentially cast suspicion on the
truthfulness of every notarial act. As the Municipal Administrator of Cainta, he should
have been aware of his great responsibility not only as a notary public but as a public
officer as well. A public office is a public trust. Respondent should not have caused
disservice to his constituents by consciously performing an act that would deceive them
and the Municipality of Cainta. Without the fraudulent SPA, the erring parties in the
construction project could not have encashed the check amounting to P3,700,000 and
could not have foisted on the public a spurious contract—all to the extreme prejudice of
the very Municipality of which he was the Administrator.

Isenhardt vs. Real, 666 SCRA 20 , February 15, 2012


Attorneys; Notary Public; Code of Professional Responsibility; A notary public should not
notarize a document unless the person who signs it is the same person who executed it,
personally appearing before him to attest to the contents and the truth of what are
stated therein.—Respondent violated his oath as a lawyer and the Code of Professional
Responsibility when he made it appear that complainant personally appeared before him
and subscribed an SPA authorizing her brother to mortgage her property. It cannot be
overemphasized that a notary public should not notarize a document unless the person
who signs it is the same person who executed it, personally appearing before him to
attest to the contents and the truth of what are stated therein. This is to enable the
notary public to verify the genuineness of the signature of the acknowledging party and
to ascertain that the document is the party’s free act.

Same; Same; By notarizing the questioned document despite the absence of one of the
parties, the notary public engaged in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.—The duties of a notary public is dictated by public policy and impressed with
public interest. It is not a meaningless ministerial act of acknowledging documents
executed by parties who are willing to pay the fees for notarization. It is of no moment
that the subject SPA was not utilized by the grantee for the purpose it was intended
because the property was allegedly transferred from complainant to her brother by
virtue of a deed of sale consummated between them. What is being penalized is
respondent’s act of notarizing a document despite the absence of one of the parties. By
notarizing the questioned document, he engaged in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct. A notarized document is by law entitled to full credit upon its face and
it is for this reason that notaries public must observe the basic requirements in notarizing
documents. Otherwise, the confidence of the public in notarized documents will be
undermined.

NO UNLAWFUL, DISHONEST, IMMORAL, DECEITFUL CONDUCT- RULE 1.01

Ui vs. Bonifacio, 333 SCRA 38 , June 08, 2000


Administrative Law; Attorneys; Disbarment; Practice of law is a privilege; Requisites for
admission to the practice of law.—The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate
does not have the right to enjoy the practice of the legal profession simply by passing the
bar examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of due
process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics. The requisites for
admission to the practice of law are: (a) he must be a citizen of the Philippines; (b) a
resident thereof; (c) at least twenty-one (21) years of age; (d) a person of good moral
character; (e) he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude, are
filed or pending in court; (f) possess the required educational qualifications; and (g) pass
the bar examinations.

Same; Same; Same; Possession of good moral character must be continuous as a


requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice.—Clear from the foregoing
is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must
possess good moral character. More importantly, possession of good 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.

Same; Same; Same; Lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher
degree of social responsibility and thus must handle their personal affairs with greater
caution.—Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of
respondent are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the
standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our
liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before. This permissiveness
notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree
of social responsibility and thus must handle their personal affairs with greater caution.
The facts of this case lead us to believe that perhaps respondent would not have found
herself in such a compromising situation had she exercised prudence and been more
vigilant in finding out more about Carlos Ui’s personal background prior to her intimate
involvement with him.

Same; Same; Same; To warrant disciplinary action, conduct must be “grossly immoral,”
that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as
to be reprehensible to a high degree.—All these taken together leads to the inescapable
conclusion that respondent was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However,
the fact remains that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what
respondent believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For
immorality connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and
the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. Moreover, for such
conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be “grossly immoral,” that is, it
must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be
reprehensible to a high degree.

Same; Same; Same; A member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to
refrain from adulterous relationships x x x but must also so behave himself as to avoid
scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards.—
We have held that “a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to
refrain from adulterous relationships x x x but must also so behave himself as to avoid
scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards.”
Respondent’s act of immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui upon discovering his
true civil status belies just that alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no
intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession.
Complainant’s bare assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the burden of
proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its disciplinary powers only
if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence. This, herein
complainant miserably failed to do. [Ui vs. Bonifacio, 333 SCRA 38(2000)]
Figueroa vs. Barranco, Jr., 276 SCRA 445 , July 31, 1997
Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Gross Immorality; Words and Phrases; A person’s engaging in
premarital sexual relations with another, making promises to marry, suggests a doubtful
moral character but the same does not constitute grossly immoral conduct; A grossly
immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so
unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree.—Respondent was
prevented from taking the lawyer’s oath in 1971 because of the charges of gross
immorality made by complainant. To recapitulate, respondent bore an illegitimate child
with his sweetheart, Patricia Figueroa, who also claims that he did not fulfill his promise
to marry her after he passes the bar examinations. 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 relations with complainant and
promises to marry suggests a doubtful moral character on his part but the same does not
constitute grossly immoral conduct. The Court has held that to justify suspension or
disbarment the act complained of must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. “A
grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so
unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree.” It is a willful,
flagrant, or shameless act which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable
members of the community.

Same; Same; Same; Mere intimacy between a man and a woman, both of whom possess
no impediment to marry, voluntarily carried on and devoid of any deceit on the part of
the former, is neither so corrupt nor so unprincipled as to warrant the imposition of
disciplinary sanction against him, even if as a result of such relationship a child was born
out of wedlock.—We find the ruling in Arciga v. Maniwang quite relevant because mere
intimacy between a man and a woman, both of whom possess no impediment to marry,
voluntarily carried on and devoid of any deceit on the part of respondent, is neither so
corrupt nor so unprincipled as to warrant the imposition of disciplinary sanction against
him, even if as a result of such relationship a child was born out of wedlock.

Same; Same; Same; Marriages; The Supreme Court 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 other reason.—Respondent and complainant
were sweethearts whose sexual relations were evidently consensual. We do not find
complainant’s assertions that she had been forced into 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 intimate relations refute her
allegations that she was forced to have sexual congress with 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. 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 other reason.
Same; Same; Same; Even assuming that a person’s indiscretions are ignoble, the twenty-
six years that he has been prevented from being a lawyer constitute sufficient punishment
therefor.—We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act of revenge of a
woman scorned, bitter and unforgiving to the end. It is also intended to make
respondent suffer severely and it seems, perpetually, sacrificing the profession he worked
very hard to be admitted into. Even assuming that his past indiscretions are ignoble, the
twenty-six years that respondent has been prevented from being a lawyer constitute
sufficient punishment therefor. During this time there appears to be no other indiscretion
attributed to him. Respondent, who is now sixty-two years of age, should thus be
allowed, albeit belatedly, to take the lawyer’s oath.

Barrios vs. Martinez, 442 SCRA 324 , November 12, 2004


Attorneys; Duties; Gross Misconduct; Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a
member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the
Supreme Court for any of the following reasons.—Under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules
of Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney
by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such
office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving
moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before
admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior
court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without
authority to do so.

Same; Same; Same; “Moral Turpitude,” Defined.—Moral turpitude “includes everything


which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.” 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 accepted and customary rule of right and
duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or
good morals.”

Same; Same; Same; Same; Issuance of a check knowing that he or she does not have
sufficient funds is a manifestation of moral turpitude.—The act of a person in issuing a
check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not have sufficient funds
in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the check in full upon its presentment, is a
manifestation of moral turpitude.

Same; Same; Same; Same; 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 public confidence in law and lawyers.—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 public confidence in law and lawyers. And while
“the general rule is that a lawyer may not be suspended or disbarred, and the court may
not ordinarily assume jurisdiction to discipline him for misconduct in his non-professional
or private capacity, where, however, the misconduct outside of the lawyer’s professional
dealings is so gross a character as to show him morally unfit for the office and unworthy
of the privilege which his licenses and the law confer on him, the court may be justified
in suspending or removing him from the office of attorney.”

Same; Same; Same; Disbarment; The Court may disbar or suspend lawyers for 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
Court.—The purpose of a proceeding for disbarment is “to protect the administration of
justice by requiring that those who exercise this important function shall be competent,
honorable and reliable; men in whom courts and clients may repose confidence.” “A
proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the
complainant is plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary
proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private 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 practice
them.” “Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the
bar, to the courts and to their clients. Their conduct must always reflect the values and
norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. On
these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend lawyers for 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 Court.”

Same; Same; Same; Same; It is noteworthy that in the past, the Court has disciplined
lawyers and judges for willful disregard of its orders to file comments or appellant’s
briefs, as a penalty for disobedience thereof.—In Pajares v. Abad Santos, we reminded
attorneys that “there must be more faithful adherence to Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of
Court [now Rule 7, Section 3] which provides that the signature of an attorney
constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading and that to the best of his
knowledge, information and belief, there is good 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 action. It is noteworthy that in the past, the
Court has disciplined lawyers and judges for willful disregard of its orders to file
comments or appellant’s briefs, as a penalty for disobedience thereof.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Membership in the legal profession is a privilege, demanding a
high degree of good moral character.—We stress that membership in the legal profession
is a privilege, demanding a high degree of good moral character, not only as a condition
precedent to admission, but also as a continuing requirement for the practice of law.
Sadly, herein respondent falls short of the exacting standards expected of him as a
vanguard of the legal profession.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly
bound to uphold the laws.—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 servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to
repudiate and override the laws, to trample them underfoot and to ignore the very
bands of society, argues recreancy to his position and office and sets a pernicious
example to the insubordinate and dangerous elements of the body politic.”

NO COUNSELING TO DEFY LAW- RULE 1.02

Donton vs. Tansingco, 493 SCRA 1 , June 27, 2006


Legal Ethics; Attorneys; A lawyer who assists a client in a dishonest scheme or who
connives in violating the law commits an act which justifies disciplinary action against the
lawyer.—The Court finds respondent liable for violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the
Code. A lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client which will
involve defiance of the laws which he is bound to uphold and obey. A lawyer who
assists a client in a dishonest scheme or who connives in violating the law commits an act
which justifies disciplinary action against the lawyer.

Same; Same; The act of a lawyer in using his knowledge of the law to achieve an
unlawful end amounts to malpractice in his office, for which he may be suspended.—
Respondent had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thus, he violated his oath and the
Code when he prepared and notarized the Occupancy Agreement to evade the law
against foreign ownership of lands. Respondent used his knowledge of the law to
achieve an unlawful end. Such an act amounts to malpractice in his office, for which he
may be suspended.

Velez vs. De Vera, 496 SCRA 345 , July 25, 2006 (supra)

In re Terell, 2 Phil. 266

Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan, 416 SCRA 465 , November 25, 2003


Administrative Law; Attorneys; Court will not countenance any wrongdoing nor allow
the erosion of our people’s faith in the judicial system, let alone, by those who have
been privileged by it to practice law in the Philippines.—The Supreme Court does not
claim infallibility; it will not denounce criticism made by anyone against the Court for, if
well-founded can truly have constructive effects in the task of the Court, but it will not
countenance any wrongdoing nor allow the erosion of our people’s faith in the judicial
system, let alone, by those who have been privileged by it to practice law in the
Philippines.

Same; Same; A lawyer should observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and
judicial officers and, indeed, should insist on similar conduct by others.—Canon 11 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that the lawyer should observe and
maintain the respect due to the courts and judicial officers and, indeed, should insist on
similar conduct by others. In liberally imputing sinister and devious motives and
questioning the impartiality, integrity, and authority of the members of the Court, Atty.
Paguia has only succeeded seeking to impede, obstruct and pervert the dispensation of
justice.

Same; Same; Attorney Allan Paguia is indefinitely suspended from the practice of law.—
WHEREFORE, Attorney Alan Paguia is hereby indefinitely suspended from the practice of
law, effective upon his receipt hereof, for conduct unbecoming a lawyer and an officer of
the Court.

NOT TO ENCOURAGE LAWSUIT OR PROCEEDINGS- RULE 1.03

Saburnido vs. Madrono, 366 SCRA 1 , September 26, 2001


Legal Ethics; Attorneys; A lawyer may be disciplined for any conduct, in his professional
or private capacity, that renders him unfit to continue to be an officer of the court.—A
lawyer may be disciplined for any conduct, in his professional or private capacity, that
renders him unfit to continue to be an officer of the court. Canon 7 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility commands all lawyers to at all times uphold the dignity and
integrity of the legal profession. Specifically, in Rule 7.03, the Code provides: 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.

Same; Same; A lawyer’s act of filing multiple complaints against the complainants reflects
on his fitness to be a member of the legal profession.—Clearly, respondent’s act of filing
multiple complaints against herein complainants reflects on his fitness to be a member of
the legal profession. His act evinces vindictiveness, a decidedly undesirable trait whether
in a lawyer or another individual, as complainants were instrumental in respondent’s
dismissal from the judiciary. We see in respondent’s tenacity in pursuing several cases
against complainants not the persistence of one who has been grievously wronged but
the obstinacy of one who is trying to exact revenge.

Same; Same; Disbarment; The supreme penalty of disbarment is meted out only in clear
cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an
officer of the court.—Complainants ask that respondent be disbarred. However, we find
that suspension from the practice of law is sufficient to discipline respondent. The
supreme penalty of disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that
seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court. While
we will not hesitate to remove an erring attorney from the esteemed brotherhood of
lawyers, where the evidence calls for it, we will also not disbar him where a lesser
penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end. In this case, we find suspension to be a
sufficient sanction against respondent. Suspension, we may add, is not primarily intended
as a punishment, but as a means to protect the public and the legal profession.

Linsangan vs. Tolentino, 598 SCRA 133 , September 04, 2009


Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Disbarment; Malpractice; Solicitations; Advertisements; Time and
time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a
business—lawyers should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares.—
Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the manner
by which a lawyer’s services are to be made known. Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:
CANON 3 — A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS LEGAL SERVICES SHALL USE ONLY
TRUE, HONEST, FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTIVE INFORMATION OR STATEMENT
OF FACTS. Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a
profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as merchants
advertise their wares. To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize
the practice of law, degrade the profession in the public’s estimation and impair its ability
to efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is
called.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the
purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, an actuation which
constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.—Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides: RULE
2.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT DO OR PERMIT TO BE DONE ANY ACT DESIGNED
PRIMARILY TO SOLICIT LEGAL BUSINESS. Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting
cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers. Such
actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Ambulance Chasing; Words and Phrases; Ambulance
chasing is the solicitation of almost
any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent, in order to
gain employment.—Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR
which provides: RULE 1.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT, FOR ANY CORRUPT MOTIVE OR
INTEREST, ENCOURAGE ANY SUIT OR PROCEEDING OR DELAY ANY MAN’S CAUSE.
This rule proscribes “ambulance chasing” (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal
business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in order to gain employment) as
a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty.

Same; Same; Same; Same; A lawyer should not steal another lawyer’s client nor induce
the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his
services.—With regard to respondent’s violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the
rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyer’s client nor induce the latter to retain
him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services. Again the
Court notes that respondent never denied having these seafarers in his client list nor
receiving benefits from Labiano’s “referrals.” Furthermore, he never denied Labiano’s
connection to his office. Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into
another’s legal practice. He cannot escape liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR.
Same; Same; Lending to Clients; The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his
client; Exception.—The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only
exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses (such
as filing fees, stenographer’s fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash bond or
premium for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is handling for the client.

Same; Same; Solicitations; Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions


for initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining
employment.—As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice
which calls for the exercise of the Court’s disciplinary powers. Violation of anti-
solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for initiating contact with a prospective
client for the purpose of obtaining employment. Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to
the rule to protect the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous
lawyers and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession.

Same; Same; Advertisements; Calling Cards; Professional calling cards may only contain
the following details: (a) lawyer’s name; (b) name of the law firm with which he is
connected; (c) address; (d) telephone number; and, (e) special branch of law practiced.—
A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyer’s
best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to
trust based on his character and conduct. For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to
announce their services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional
cards. Professional calling cards may only contain the following details: (a) lawyer’s
name; (b) name of the law firm with which he is connected; (c) address; (d) telephone
number; and, (e) special branch of law practiced.

ENCOURAGE CLIENT TO AVOID CONTROVERSY- Rule 1.04

De Ysasi III vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 231 SCRA 173 , March 11, 1994
Ethics; Lawyers; A lawyer should be a mediator for concord and conciliator for
compromise, rather than a virtuoso of technicality in the conduct of litigation.—The
conduct of the respective counsel of the parties, as revealed by the records, sorely
disappoints the Court and invites reproof. Both counsel may well be reminded that their
ethical duty as lawyers to represent their clients with zeal goes beyond merely presenting
their clients’ respective causes in court. It is just as much their responsibility, if not more
importantly, to exert all reasonable efforts to smooth over legal conflicts, preferably out
of court and especially in consideration of the direct and immediate consanguineous ties
between their clients. Once again, we reiterate that the useful function of a lawyer is not
only to conduct litigation but to avoid it whenever possible by advising settlement or
withholding suit. He is often called upon less for dramatic forensic exploits than for wise
counsel in every phase of life. He should be a mediator for concord and a conciliator for
compromise, rather than a virtuoso of technicality in the conduct of litigation.
Same; Code of Professional Responsibility; A lawyer should encourage his client to avoid,
end or settle the controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement.—Rule 1.04 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility explicitly provides that “(a) lawyer shall encourage his
client to avoid, end or settle the controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement.” On this
point, we find that both counsel herein fell short of what was expected of them, despite
their avowed duties as officers of the court. The records do not show that they took
pains to initiate steps geared toward effecting a rapprochment between their clients. On
the contrary, their acerbic and protracted exchanges could not but have exacerbated the
situation even as they may have found favor in the equally hostile eyes of their
respective clients.

Labor Law; Labor Arbiter; A labor arbiter shall exert all efforts towards the amicable
settlement of a labor dispute within his jurisdiction.—In the same manner, we find that
the labor arbiter who handled this regrettable case has been less than faithful to the letter
and spirit of the Labor Code mandating that a labor arbiter “shall exert all efforts
towards the amicable settlement of a labor dispute within his jurisdiction.” If he ever did
so, or at least entertained the thought, the copious records of the proceeding in this
controversy are barren of any reflection of the same.

Castañeda vs. Ago, 65 SCRA 505 , July 30, 1975


Courts; Non-interference with order of co-equal court; Case at bar.—The doctrine that a
court may not interfere with the orders of a co-equal court does not apply in the case at
bar. The Court of First Instance of Manila, which issued the writ of possession, ultimately
was not interfered with by its co-equal court, the Court of First Instance of Quezon City
as the latter lifted the restraining order it had previously issued against the enforcement
of the Manila court’s writ of possession; it is the Court of Appeals that enjoined, in part,
the enforcement of the writ.

Injunction; Purpose of; Injunction issued to protect present right; Case at bar.—The
decision enjoined the enforcement of the writ of possession to and ejectment from the
one-half share in the properties involved. This half-share is not in esse, but is merely an
inchoate interest, a mere expectancy, constituting neither legal nor equitable estate, and
will ripen into title when only upon liquidation and settlement there appears to be assets
of the community. The decision sets at naught the well-settled rule that injunction does
not issue to protect a right not in esse and which may never arise.

Attorneys; Duty to advise client on merit or lack of merit of case.—It is the duty of a
counsel to advise his client, ordinarily a layman to the intricaries 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 bounden duty to advise the latter to acquiesce and submit, rather than
traverse the incontrovertible. A lawyer must resist the whims and caprices of his client,
and temper his client’s propensity to litigate. A lawyer’s oath to uphold the cause of
justice is superior to his duty to his client; its primacy is indisputable.
Same; Counsel as true exponent of the primacy of truth and moral justice.—Forgetting
his sacred mission as a sworn public servant and his exalted position as an officer of the
court, counsel 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 truth and moral justice.
Laches; Laches defined and explained.—Laches, in a general sense, is a failure or neglect,
for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due
diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to 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.

NOT TO REFUSE TO GIVE LEGAL ADVICE- Rule 2.02

Santiago vs. Rafanan, 440 SCRA 91 , October 05, 2004


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

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

Same; Same; Same; Notarization; A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and
credit upon its face.—The importance attached to the act of notarization cannot be
overemphasized. Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is invested
with substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified or authorized
may act as notaries public. Notarization converts a private document into a public
document thus making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of its
authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face.
Courts, administrative agencies and the public at large must be able to rely upon the
acknowledgment executed by a notary public and appended to a private instrument.”
Same; Same; Same; Where notaries public are lawyers, a graver responsibility is placed
upon them by reason of their solemn oath to obey the laws.—It must be emphasized
that the primary duty of lawyers is to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for
the law and legal processes. They are expected to be in the forefront in the observance
and maintenance of the rule of law. This duty carries with it the obligation to be well-
informed of the existing laws and to keep abreast with legal developments, recent
enactments and jurisprudence. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal
principles. Unless they faithfully comply with such duty, they may not be able to
discharge competently and diligently their obligations as members of the bar. Worse,
they may become susceptible to committing mistakes. Where notaries public are lawyers,
a graver responsibility is placed upon them by reason of their solemn oath to obey the
laws. No custom or age-old practice provides sufficient excuse or justification for their
failure to adhere to the provisions of the law. In this case, the excuse given by
respondent exhibited his clear ignorance of the Notarial Law, the Rules of Criminal
Procedure, and the importance of his office as a notary public.

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

NO SOLICITATION

Linsangan vs. Tolentino, 598 SCRA 133 , September 04, 2009 (supra)

CANON 3/ NO FALSE or UNFAIR CLAIM


Khan, Jr. vs. Simbillo, 409 SCRA 299 , August 19, 2003
Administrative Law; Attorneys; The practice of law is not a business; Lawyering is not
primarily meant to be a money-making venture and law advocacy is not a capital that
necessarily yields profits; Elements distinguishing the legal profession from a business.—It
has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law is not a business. It is a profession in
which duty to public service, not money, is the primary consideration. Lawyering is not
primarily meant to be a money-making venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that
necessarily yields profits. The gaining of a livelihood should be a secondary
consideration. The duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be
the primary consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or
what they owe to themselves. The following elements distinguish the legal profession
from a business: (1) A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a by-product,
and in which one may attain the highest eminence without making much money; (2) A
relation as an “officer of the court” to the administration of justice involving thorough
sincerity, integrity and reliability; (3) A relation to clients in the highest degree of
fiduciary; and (4) A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness,
and unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising and encroachment
on their practice, or dealing directly with their clients.

Same; Same; Solicitation of legal business is not altogether proscribed for solicitation to
be proper, it must be compatible with the dignity of the legal profession.—The
solicitation of legal business is not altogether proscribed. However, for solicitation to be
proper, it must be compatible with the dignity of the legal profession. If it were made in
a modest and decorous manner, it would bring no injury to the lawyer and to the bar.
Thus, the use of simple signs stating the name or names of the lawyers, the office and
residence address and fields of practice, as well as advertisement in legal periodicals
bearing the same brief data, are permissible. Even the use of calling cards is now
acceptable. Publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the standards
of conduct imposed by the canon, of brief biographical and informative data is likewise
allowable.

Ulep vs. Legal Clinic, Inc., 223 SCRA 378 , June 17, 1993
Attorneys; Words and Phrases; Meaning of “Practice of Law.”—Practice of law means
any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedures,
knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of 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 or skill. 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 contracts by which legal rights are secured, although
such matter may or may not be pending in a court.

Same; Same; Same.—When a person participates in a trial and advertises himself as a


lawyer, he is in the practice of law. One who confers with clients, advises them as to
their legal rights and then takes the business to an attorney and asks the latter to look
after the case in court, is also practicing law. Giving advice for compensation regarding
the legal status and rights of another and the conduct with respect thereto constitutes a
practice of law. One who renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute,
and receives pay for it, is, to that extent, practicing law.

Same; The practice of giving out legal information constitutes practice of law.—What is
palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives out legal information to laymen and
lawyers. Its contention that such function is non-advisory and non-diagnostic 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 that
respondent corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy thereof to the
client, and stop there as if it were merely a bookstore. With its attorneys and so called
paralegals, it will necessarily have to explain to the client the intricacies of the law and
advise him or her on the proper course of action to be taken as may be provided-for by
said law. That is what its advertisements represent and for which services it will
consequently charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely within the jurisprudential
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
weight of authority holds, is not limited merely to court appearances but extends to legal
research, giving legal advice, contract drafting, and so forth.

Same; Same.—Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P. WILOCI,
said reported 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 simple documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings.
Most of these services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather, are
exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of law.

Same; Same; The services offered by respondent cannot be performed by paralegals here
as distinguished from the United States.—Paralegals in the United States are trained
professionals. As admitted by respondent, there are schools and universities there which
offer studies and degrees in paralegal education, while there are none in the Philippines.
As the concept of the “paralegal” or “legal assistant” evolved in the United States,
standards and guidelines also evolved to protect the general public. One of the major
standards or guidelines was developed by the American Bar Association which set up
Guidelines for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education Programs (1973). Legislation has
even been proposed to certify legal assistants. There are also associations of paralegals in
the United States with their own code of professional ethics, such as the National
Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal Association. In the
Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and limited acceptance of what may be
considered as paralegal service. As pointed out by FIDA, some persons not duly licensed
to practice law are or have been allowed limited representation in behalf of another or
to render legal services, but such allowable services are limited in scope and extent by the
law, rules or regulations granting permission therefor.

Same; Lawyers may not advertise their services or expertise.—Anent the issue on the
validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of Professional Responsibility
provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair,
dignified and objective information or statement of facts. He is not supposed to use or
permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory
or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. Nor shall he pay
or give something of value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in
return for, publicity to attract legal business. Prior to the adoption of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics had also warned that
lawyers should not resort to indirect advertisements for professional employment, such
as furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his photograph to be
published in connection with causes in which the lawyer has been or is engaged or
concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the
importance of the lawyer’s position, and all other like self-laudation.

Same; Exceptions.—Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are prohibited.
The canons of the 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, namely, those which are expressly allowed and those which are
necessarily implied from the restrictions.

Same; Same.—The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law lists, in a
manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canons, of brief
biographical and informative data.

Same; Same.—The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card
may contain 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 simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the
partnership, associates, firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the
profession, is not objectionable.

Same; Legal profession here has been under attack on its integrity.—Secondly, it is our
firm belief that with the present situation of our legal and judicial systems, to allow the
publication of advertisements of the kind used by respondent would only serve to
aggravate what is already a deteriorating public opinion of the legal profession whose
integrity has consistently been under attack lately by media and the 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.

NO FALSE OR MISLEADING
Dacanay vs. Baker & McKenzie, 136 SCRA 349 , May 10, 1985
Attorneys; Use by Philippine lawyers of the firm name of an American law firm is
unethical.—We hold that Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm, cannot practice law
in the Philippines (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Rules of Court). As admitted by the respondents in
their memorandum, Baker & McKenzie is a professional partner ship organized in 1949 in
Chicago, Illinois with members and associates in 30 cities around the world.
Respondents, aside from being members of the Philippine bar, practising under the firm
name of Guerrero & Torres, are members or associates of Baker & McKenzie.

Same; Same.—As pointed out by the Solicitor General, respondents’ use of the firm name
Baker & McKenzie constitutes a representation that being associated with the firm they
could “render legal services of the highest quality to multinational business enterprises
and others engaged in foreign trade and investment” (p. 3, respondents’ memo). This is
unethical because Baker & McKenzie is not authorized to practise law here.

In the Matter of the Petition for Authority To Continue use of the Firm name “Ozaeta,
Romulo, etc., 92 SCRA 1 , July 30, 1979
Same; Same; Same; Practice of Law; Partnership for the practice of law, nature of.—A
partnership for the practice of law cannot be likened to partnerships formed by other
professionals or for business. For one thing, the law on accountancy specifically allows
the use of a trade name in connection with the practice of accountancy. “A partnership
for the practice of law is not a legal entity. It is a mere relationship or association for a
particular purpose. x x x It is not a partnership formed for the purpose of carrying on a
trade or business or of holding property.” Thus, it has been stated that “the use of a nom
de plume, assumed or trade name in law practice is improper.”

Same; Same; Same; Same; Right to practice law, nature of.—“The right to practice law is
not a natural or constitutional right but is in the nature of a privilege or franchise. It is
limited, to persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained
and certified. The right does not only presuppose in its possessor integrity, legal standing
and attainment, but also the exercise of a special privilege, highly personal and partaking
of the nature of a public trust.”

Same; Same; Same; Custom; Continued use of a deceased or former partner’s name in
the firm names of law partnerships not sanctioned by local custom; Reason; Possibility of
deception upon the public where the name of a deceased partner continues to be
used.—It is true that Canon 33 does not consider as unethical the continued use of the
name of a deceased or former partner in the firm name of a law partnership when such a
practice is permissible by local custom but the Canon warns that care should be taken
that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use. It must be conceded that in
the Philippines, no local custom permits or allows the continued use of a deceased or
former partner’s name in the firm names of law partnerships. Firm names, under our
custom, identify the more active and/or more senior members or partners of the law
firm. A glimpse at the history of the firms of petitioners and of other law firms in this
country would show how their firm names have evolved and changed from time to time
as the composition of the partnership changed. The possibility of deception upon the
public, real or consequential, where the name of a deceased partner continues to be used
cannot be ruled out. A person in search of legal counsel might be guided by the familiar
ring of a distinguished name appearing in a firm title.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Evidence; Concept of Customs; To be admissible custom
must be proved as a fact; Distinctions between juridical custom and social custom.—Not
so in this jurisdiction where there is no local custom that sanctions the practice. Custom
has been defined as a rule of conduct formed by repetition of acts, uniformly observed
(practiced) as a social rule, legally binding and obligatory. Courts take no judicial notice
of custom. A custom must be proved as a fact, according to the rules of evidence. A local
custom as a source of right cannot be considered by a court of justice unless such custom
is properly established by competent evidence like any other fact. We find such proof of
the existence of a local custom, and of the elements requisite to constitute the same,
wanting herein. Merely because something is done as a matter of practice does not mean
that Courts can rely on the same for purposes of adjudication as a juridical custom.
Juridical custom must be differentiated from social custom. The former can supplement
statutory law or be applied in the absence of such statute. Not so with the latter.

Same; Same; Same; Practice of Law; Practice of law not considered money-making trade
but peculiarly related to the administration of justice.—The practice of law is intimately
and peculiarly related to the administration of justice and should not be considered like
an ordinary "money-making trade."

PARTNERS ASSUMING PUBLIC OFFICE- Rule 3.03


Samonte vs. Gatdula, 303 SCRA 756 , February 26, 1999
Administrative Law; Courts; Court agrees with the investigating judge that the
respondent is guilty of an infraction.—We agree with the investigating judge that the
respondent is guilty of an infraction. The complainant, by her failure to appear at the
hearings, failed to substantiate her allegation that it was the respondent who gave her
the calling card of “Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera Law Offices” and
that he tried to convince her to change counsels. We find however, that while the
respondent vehemently denies the complainant’s allegations, he does not deny that his
name appears on the calling card attached to the complaint, which admittedly came into
the hands of the complainant.

Same; Same; The inclusion/retention of his name in the professional card constitutes an
act of solicitation which violates Section 7, sub-par. (b)(2) of Republic Act No. 6713,
otherwise known as “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees.”—Respondent does not claim that the calling card was printed without his
knowledge or consent, and the calling card carries his name primarily and the name of
“Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera with address at 220 Mariwasa Bldg.,
717 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City” in the left corner. The card clearly gives the
impression that he is connected with the said law firm. The inclusion/retention of his
name in the professional card constitutes an act of solicitation which violates Section 7,
sub-par. (b)(2) of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as “Code of Conduct and
Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”
Same; Same; The conduct and behavior of every one connected with an office charged
with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, should be
circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility.—Time and again this Court has
said that the conduct and behavior of every one connected with an office charged with
the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, should be
circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. His conduct, at all times must not
only be characterized by propriety and decorum but above all else must be above
suspicion.

CANON 6: LAWYERS IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE

Collantes vs. Renomeron, 200 SCRA 584 , August 16, 1991


Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Misconduct as public official constitutes violation of oath as
lawyer.—The issue in this disbarment proceeding is whether the respondent register of
deeds, as a lawyer, may also be disciplined by this Court for his malfeasances as a public
official. The answer is yes, for his misconduct as a public official also constituted a
violation of his oath as a lawyer. The lawyer’s oath (Rule 138, Section 17, Rules of Court:
People vs. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968), imposes upon every lawyer the duty to delay no
man for money or malice. The lawyer’s oath is a source of his obligations and its
violation is a ground for his suspension, disbarment or other disciplinary action.

Same; Same; Same.—The Code of Professional Responsibility applies to lawyers in


government service in the discharge of their official tasks (Canon 6). Just as the Code of
Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials requires public officials and employees
to process documents and papers expeditiously (Sec. 5, subpars. [c] and [d] and prohibits
them from directly or indirectly having a financial or material interest in any transaction
requiring the approval of their office, and likewise bars them from soliciting gifts or
anything of monetary value in the course of any transaction which may be affected by
the functions of their office (Sec. 7, subpars. [a] and [d]), the Code of Professional
Responsibility forbids a lawyer to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct (Rule 1.01, Code of Professional Responsibility), or delay any man’s cause “for
any corrupt motive or interest” (Rule 1.03).

Ramos vs. Imbang, 530 SCRA 759 , August 23, 2007


Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Government Lawyers; Lawyers in government service are
expected to be more conscientious of their actuations as they are subject to public
scrutiny.—Lawyers are expected to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity. More
specifically, lawyers in government service are expected to be more conscientious of their
actuations as they are subject to public scrutiny. They are not only members of the bar
but also public servants who owe utmost fidelity to public service.
Same; Same; Same; Lawyers in government service cannot handle private cases for they
are expected to devote themselves fulltime to the work of their respective offices.—
Government employees are expected to devote themselves completely to public service.
For this reason, the private practice of profession is prohibited. Section 7(b)(2) of the
Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees provides: Section 7.
Prohibited Acts and Transactions.—In addition to acts and omissions of public officials
and employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the following
constitute prohibited acts and transactions of any public official and employee and are
hereby declared unlawful: x x x x x x x x x (b) Outside employment and other activities
related thereto, public officials and employees during their incumbency shall not: x x x x
x x x x x (1) Engage in the private practice of profession unless authorized by the
Constitution or law, provided that such practice will not conflict with their official
function. Thus, lawyers in government service cannot handle private cases for they are
expected to devote themselves full-time to the work of their respective offices.

Same; Same; Same; Acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney-client


relationship.—In this instance, respondent received P5,000 from the complainant and
issued a receipt on July 15, 1992 while he was still connected with the PAO. Acceptance
of money from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship. Respondent’s
admission that he accepted money from the complainant and the receipt confirmed the
presence of an attorney-client relationship between him and the complainant. Moreover,
the receipt showed that he accepted the complainant’s case while he was still a
government lawyer. Respondent clearly violated the prohibition on private practice of
profession.

Same; Same; Same; Public Attorney’s Office (PAO); The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO)
was created for the purpose of providing free legal assistance to indigent litigants; A
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) lawyer should not accept attorney’s fees from a party as
this is inconsistent with the office’s mission.—Aggravating respondent’s wrongdoing was
his receipt of attorney’s fees. The PAO was created for the purpose of providing free
legal assistance to indigent litigants. Section 14(3), Chapter 5, Title III, Book V of the
Revised Administrative Code provides: Sec. 14. x x x The PAO shall be the principal law
office of the Government in extending free legal assistance to indigent persons in
criminal, civil, labor, administrative and other quasijudicial cases. As a PAO lawyer,
respondent should not have accepted attorney’s fees from the complainant as this was
inconsistent with the office’s mission. Respondent violated the prohibition against
accepting legal fees other than his salary.

Same; Same; Same; Same; The undertaking to uphold the law includes the observance of
the prohibitions blatantly violated by respondent when he accepted the complainant’s
cases and received attorney’s fees in consideration of his legal services.—Canon 1 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility provides: CANON 1.—A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD
THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR
THE LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. Every lawyer is obligated to uphold the law. This
undertaking includes the observance of the above-mentioned prohibitions blatantly
violated by respondent when he accepted the complainant’s cases and received
attorney’s fees in consideration of his legal services. Consequently, respondent’s
acceptance of the cases was also a breach of Rule 18.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility because the prohibition on the private practice of profession disqualified
him from acting as the complainant’s counsel.

Same; Same; Same; Same; A government lawyer is a keeper of public faith and is
burdened with a high degree of social responsibil ity, higher than his brethren in private
practice.—Respondent’s conduct in office fell short of the integrity and good moral
character required of all lawyers, specially one occupying a public office. Lawyers in
public office are expected not only to refrain from any act or omission which tend to
lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in government but also uphold the dignity
of the legal profession at all times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair
dealing. A government lawyer is a keeper of public faith and is burdened with a high
degree of social responsibility, higher than his brethren in private practice.

Same; Same; A lawyer could not be held guilty of violating Rule 16.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility where he did not hold the money for the benefit of the client
but accepted it as his attorney’s fees.—There is, however, insufficient basis to find
respondent guilty of violating Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Respondent did not hold the money for the benefit of the complainant but accepted it as
his attorney’s fees. He neither held the amount in trust for the complainant (such as an
amount delivered by the sheriff in satisfaction of a judgment obligation in favor of the
client) nor was it given to him for a specific purpose (such as amounts given for filing fees
and bail bond). Nevertheless, respondent should return the P5,000 as he, a government
lawyer, was not entitled to attorney’s fees and not allowed to accept them.

PRIMARY DUTY: THAT JUSTICE IS DONE- RULE 6.01


Cuenca vs. Court of Appeals, 250 SCRA 485 , December 01, 1995
“Under Rule 6.01 of Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, prosecutors
who represent the People of the Philippines in a criminal case are not duty bound to seek
conviction of the accused but to see that justice is done. Said Rule 6.01 of Canon 6 states:
‘Canon 6—These canons shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of
their official tasks.
‘Rule 6.01—The primary duty of a lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not to convict
but to see that justice is done. The suppression of facts or the concealment of witnesses
capable of establishing the innocence of the accused is highly reprehensible and is cause
for disciplinary action.’ (Italics supplied.)
“The above duty is well founded on the instruction of the U.S. Supreme Court in Berger
v. United States, 295 U.S. 78 (1935) that prosecutors represent a sovereign ‘whose
obligation to govern impartially is compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and
whose interest, therefore in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that
justice shall be done (Time to Rein in the Prosecution, by Atty. Bruce Fein, published on
p. 11, The Lawyers Review, July 31, 1994)

Remedial Law; New Trial; Rule that the court is not authorized to entertain a motion for
reconsideration and/or new trial predicated on allegedly newly discovered evidence
appears to have been relaxed if not abandoned in Helmuth, Jr. vs. People and People vs.
Amparado.—Although in “Goduco v. CA” (14 SCRA 282 [1965]) decided some twenty
(20) years ago, this Court ruled it is not authorized to entertain a motion for
reconsideration and/or new trial predicated on allegedly newly discovered evidence the
rationale of which being: “The judgment of the Court of Appeals is conclusive as to the
facts, and cannot be reviewed by the Supreme Court. Accordingly, in an appeal by
certiorari to the Supreme Court, the latter has no jurisdiction to entertain a motion for
new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence, for only questions of fact are
involved therein,” the rule now appears to have been relaxed, if not abandoned, in
subsequent cases like “Helmuth, Jr. v. People” and “People v. Amparado.”

NOT TO USE PUBLIC POSITION FOR PRIVATE INTEREST- RULE 6.02


Ali vs. Bubong, 453 SCRA 1 , March 08, 2005
Attorneys; Disbarment; Grounds; Grave Misconduct; Where a lawyer’s misconduct as a
government official is of such nature as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or to show
moral delinquency, then he may be disciplined as a member of the bar on such
grounds.—The Code of Professional Responsibility does not cease to apply to a lawyer
simply because he has joined the government service. In fact, by the express provision of
Canon 6 thereof, the rules governing the conduct of lawyers “shall apply to lawyers in
government service in the discharge of their official tasks.” Thus, where a lawyer’s
misconduct as a government official is of such nature as to affect his qualification as a
lawyer or to show moral delinquency, then he may be disciplined as a member of the
bar on such grounds. Although the general rule is that a lawyer who holds a government
office may not be disciplined as a member of the bar for infractions he committed as a
government official, he may, however, be disciplined as a lawyer if his misconduct
constitutes a violation of his oath a member of the legal profession.

Same; Same; Same; Same; As an officer of the court one is subject to a rigid discipline that
demands that in his every exertion the only criterion be that truth and justice triumph.—
[A] person takes an oath when he is admitted to the bar which is designed to impress
upon him his responsibilities. He thereby becomes an “officer of the court” on whose
shoulders rests the grave responsibility of assisting the courts in the proper, fair, speedy
and efficient administration of justice. As an officer of the court he is subject to a rigid
discipline that demands that in his every exertion the only criterion be that truth and
justice triumph. This discipline is what has given the law profession its nobility, its
prestige, its exalted place. From a lawyer, to paraphrase Justice Felix Frankfurter, are
expected those qualities of truth-speaking, a high sense of honor, full candor, intellectual
honesty, and the strictest observance of fiduciary responsibility—all of which, throughout
the centuries, have been compendiously described as moral character.
Same; Same; Same; Same; A lawyer in government service is a keeper of the public faith
and is burdened with high degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than her
brethren in private practice.—[A] lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain
from any act or omission which might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the
citizenry in government, she must also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all
times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair dealing. Otherwise said, a lawyer
in government service is a keeper of the public faith and is burdened with high degree of
social responsibility, perhaps higher than her brethren in private practice.

Same; Same; Same; Same; The ill-conceived use of his knowledge of the intricacies of the
law calls for nothing less than the withdrawal of his privilege to practice law.—
Respondent’s conduct manifestly undermined the people’s confidence in the public office
he used to occupy and cast doubt on the integrity of the legal profession. The ill-
conceived use of his knowledge of the intricacies of the law calls for nothing less than the
withdrawal of his privilege to practice law.

Same; Same; Nature; A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a
civil action where the complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a
defendant.—A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or
lack of interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts
borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been duly
proven. This rule is premised on the nature of disciplinary proceedings. A proceeding for
suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the complainant is a
plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no
private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and
prosecuted solely for the public welfare. They are undertaken for the purpose of
preserving courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice in
them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the
court. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the
attorney’s alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the
outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administrative of justice.

Olazo vs. Tinga, 637 SCRA 1 , December 07, 2010


Administrative Law; Attorneys; Public Officers; Misconduct; A lawyer who holds a
government office may not be disciplined as a member of the Bar for misconduct in the
discharge of his duties as a government official.—Generally, a lawyer who holds a
government office may not be disciplined as a member of the Bar for misconduct in the
discharge of his duties as a government official. He may be disciplined by this Court as a
member of the Bar only when his misconduct also constitutes a violation of his oath as a
lawyer.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Lawyers in the government service are subject to constant
public scrutiny under norms of public accountability.—Since public office is a public trust,
the ethical conduct demanded upon lawyers in the government service is more exacting
than the standards for those in private practice. Lawyers in the government service are
subject to constant public scrutiny under norms of public accountability.

Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Practice of Law; To practice law is to give notice
or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of
legal knowledge or skill.—In Cayetano v. Monsod, 201 SCRA 210 (1991), we defined the
practice of law as any activity, in and out of court, that requires the application of law,
legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. Moreover, we ruled that to engage
in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession;
to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service
requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill.

Same; Same; Same; Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees (R.A. No. 6713); As a rule, government lawyers are not allowed to engage in
the private practice of their profession during their incumbency.—As a rule, government
lawyers are not allowed to engage in the private practice of their profession during their
incumbency. By way of exception, a government lawyer can engage in the practice of his
or her profession under the following conditions: first, the private practice is authorized
by the Constitution or by the law; and second, the practice will not conflict or tend to
conflict with his or her official functions.

Attorneys; Disbarment; Suspension; Evidence; Considering the serious consequences of


the penalty of disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, the burden rests on the
complainant to present clear, convincing and satisfactory proof for the Court to exercise
its disciplinary powers.—All told, considering the serious consequences of the penalty of
disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, the burden rests on the complainant
to present clear, convincing and satisfactory proof for the Court to exercise its
disciplinary powers. The respondent generally is under no obligation to prove his/her
defense, until the burden shifts to him/her because of what the complainant has proven.
Where no case has in the first place been proven, nothing has to be rebutted in defense.
[Olazo vs. Tinga, 637 SCRA 1(2010)]

NOT TO ACCEPT EMPLOYMENT AFTER GOVERNMENT SERVICE- RULE 6.03


Huyssen vs. Gutierrez, 485 SCRA 244 , March 24, 2006
Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official
task have more restrictions than lawyers in private practice.—We begin with the veritable
fact that lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official task have more
restrictions than lawyers in private practice. Want of moral integrity is to be more
severely condemned in a lawyer who holds a responsible public office.
Same; Same; When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough
that he deny the charges against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence
against him.—It is undisputed that respondent admitted having received the US$20,000
from complainant as shown by his signatures in the petty cash vouchers and receipts he
prepared, on the false representation that that it was needed in complainant’s
application for visa with the BID. Respondent denied he misappropriated the said
amount and interposed the defense that he delivered it to a certain Atty. Mendoza who
assisted complainant and children in their application for visa in the BID. Such defense
remains unsubstantiated as he failed to submit evidence on the matter. While he claims
that Atty. Mendoza already died, he did not present the death certificate of said Atty.
Mendoza. Worse, the action of respondent in shifting the blame to someone who has
been naturally silenced by fate, is not only impudent but downright ignominious. When
the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he deny the
charges against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him. He
must show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all
times is expected of him. In the case at bar, respondent clearly fell short of his duty.
Records show that even though he was given the opportunity to answer the charges and
controvert the evidence against him in a formal investigation, he failed, without any
plausible reason, to appear several times whenever the case was set for reception of his
evidence despite due notice.

Same; Same; Evidence; Denial; It is settled that denial is inherently a weak defense.—The
defense of denial proffered by respondent is, thus, not convincing. It is settled that denial
is inherently a weak defense. To be believed, it must be buttressed by a strong evidence
of non-culpability; otherwise, such denial is purely self-serving and is with nil evidentiary
value.

Same; Same; Respondent’s act of asking money from complainant in consideration of the
latter’s pending application for visas is violative of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which prohibits members of the Bar from engaging or participating in any
unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts—said acts likewise constitute a breach of Rule 6.02
of the Code which bars lawyers in government service from promoting their private
interest.—Respondent’s act of asking money from complainant in consideration of the
latter’s pending application for visas is violative of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which prohibits members of the Bar from engaging or participating in any
unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts. Moreover, said acts constitute a breach of Rule
6.02 of the Code which bars lawyers in government service from promoting their private
interest. Promotion of private interest includes soliciting gifts or anything of monetary
value in any transaction requiring the approval of his office or which may be affected by
the functions of his office. Respondent’s conduct in office betrays the integrity and good
moral character required from all lawyers, especially from one occupying a high public
office. A lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain from any act or omission
which might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in government; he
must also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times and observe a high
standard of honesty and fair dealing. Otherwise said, a lawyer in government service is a
keeper of the public faith and is burdened with high degree of social responsibility,
perhaps higher than his brethren in private practice.

Same; Same; Gross Misconduct; Moral Turpitude; The issuance of worthless checks
constitutes gross misconduct and is also a manifestation of moral turpitude.—In a recent
case, we have held that the issuance of worthless checks constitutes gross misconduct, as
the effect “transcends the private interests of the parties directly involved in the
transaction and touches the interests of the community at large. The mischief it creates is
not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public since the
circulation of value less 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 public interest. Thus, paraphrasing Black’s definition, a drawer who issues an
unfunded check deliberately reneges on his private duties he owes his fellow men or
society in a manner contrary to accepted and customary rule of right and duty, justice,
honesty or good morals.” Consequently, we have held that the act of a person in issuing
a check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not have sufficient funds
in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon its
presentment, is also a manifestation of moral turpitude.

Same; Same; Practice of Law; The practice of law is a special privilege bestowed only
upon those who are competent intellectually, academically and morally; The possession
of good 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.—Time and again, we have declared that the practice of law is a noble
profession. It is a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are competent
intellectually, academically and morally. A lawyer must at all times conduct himself,
especially in his dealings with his clients and the public at large, with honesty and
integrity in a manner beyond reproach. He must faithfully perform his duties to society,
to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. A violation of the high standards of the legal
profession subjects the lawyer to administrative sanctions which includes suspension and
disbarment. More importantly, possession of good 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.

Same; Same; Government lawyers should be more sensitive to their professional


obligations as their disreputable conduct is more likely to be magnified in the public
eye.—The primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to punish
and discipline the erring individual lawyers but also to safeguard the administration of
justice by protecting the courts and the public from the misconduct of lawyers, and to
remove from the legal profession persons whose utter disregard of their lawyer’s oath
have proven them unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in them as members of
the bar. These pronouncement gain practical significance in the case at bar considering
that respondent was a former member of the Board of Special Inquiry of the BID. It bears
stressing also that government lawyers who are public servants owe fidelity to the public
service, a public trust. As such, government lawyers should be more sensitive to their
professional obligations as their disreputable conduct is more likely to be magnified in
the public eye. As a lawyer, who was also a public officer, respondent miserably failed to
cope with the strict demands and high standards of the legal profession.

Same; Same; Disbarment; Suspension; Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court
mandates that a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any of the acts enumerated
therein.—Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court mandates that a lawyer may
be disbarred or suspended by this Court for any of the following acts: (1) deceit; (2)
malpractice; (3) gross misconduct in office; (4) grossly immoral conduct; (5) conviction
of a crime involving moral turpitude; (6) violation of the lawyer’s oath; (7) willful
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (8) willfully appearing as an
attorney for a party without authority to do so.

Philippine National Bank vs. Cedo, 243 SCRA 1 , March 28, 1995
Administrative Law; Attorneys; Code of Professional Responsibility; IBP discovered that
respondent was previously fined by the Court in the amount of P1,000.00 for forum
shopping.—During the investigation conducted by the IBP, it was discovered that
respondent was previously fined by this Court in the amount of P1,000.00 in connection
with G.R. No. 94456 entitled “Milagros Ong Siy vs. Hon. Salvador Tensuan, et al.” for
forum shopping, where respondent appeared as counsel for petitioner Milagros Ong Siy
“through the law firm of Cedo Ferrer Maynigo and Associates.”

Same; Same; Same; Charges against respondent found to be fully substantiated.—The IBP
further found that the charges herein against respondent were fully substantiated.
Respondent’s averment that the law firm handling the case of the Almeda spouses is not
a partnership deserves scant consideration in the light of the attestation of complainant’s
counsel, Atty. Pedro Singson, that in one of the hearings of the Almeda spouses’ case,
respondent attended the same with his partner Atty. Ferrer, and although he did not
enter his appearance, he was practically dictating to Atty. Ferrer what to say and argue
before the court. Furthermore, during the hearing of the application for a writ of
injunction in the same case, respondent impliedly admitted being the partner of Atty.
Ferrer, when it was made of record that respondent was working in the same office as
Atty. Ferrer.

Same; Same; Same; The alleged set-up of the firm is in itself a violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.—Moreover, the IBP noted that assuming the alleged set-up of
the firm to be true, it is in itself a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility
(Rule 15.02) since the client’s secrets and confidential records and information are
exposed to the other lawyers and staff members at all times.

Same; Same; Same; Court finds the occasion appropriate to emphasize the paramount
importance of avoiding the representation of conflicting interests.—In addition to the
findings of the IBP, this Court finds this occasion appropriate to emphasize the
paramount importance of avoiding the representation of conflicting interests.

Same; Same; Same; Rule on conflicting interest applies with equal force and effect to
respondent in the case at bar.—The foregoing disquisition on conflicting interest applies
with equal force and effect to respondent in the case at bar. Having been an executive of
complainant bank, respondent now seeks to litigate as counsel for the opposite side, a
case against his former employer involving a transaction which he formerly handled
while still an employee of complainant, in violation of Canon 6 of the Canons of
Professional Ethics on adverse influence and conflicting interests.

Zaguirre vs. Castillo, 465 SCRA 520 , August 03, 2005


Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Suspension; In view of respondent’s show of repentance and
active service to the community, the Court deems it just and reasonable to convert the
penalty of indefinite suspension to a definite period of two years suspension.—In view of
respondent’s show of repentance and active service to the community, the Court deems
it just and reasonable to convert the penalty of indefinite suspension to a definite period
of two years suspension. [Zaguirre vs. Castillo, 465 SCRA 520(2005)]

Que vs. Revilla, Jr., 739 SCRA 459 , November 11, 2014
Attorneys; Membership in the Bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. It is not a
natural, absolute or constitutional right granted to everyone who demands it, but rather,
a special privilege granted and continued only to those who demonstrate special fitness
in intellectual attainment and in moral character.—Membership in the Bar is a privilege
burdened with conditions. It is not a natural, absolute or constitutional right granted to
everyone who demands it, but rather, a special privilege granted and continued only to
those who demonstrate special fitness in intellectual attainment and in moral character.
The same reasoning applies to reinstatement of a disbarred lawyer. When exercising its
inherent power to grant reinstatement, the Court should see to it that only those who
establish their present moral fitness and knowledge of the law will be readmitted to the
Bar. Thus, though the doors to the practice of law are never permanently closed on a
disbarred attorney, the Court owes a duty to the legal profession as well as to the
general public to ensure that if the doors are opened, it is done so only as a matter of
justice.

Same; Practice of Law; Reinstatement to the Practice of Law; The basic inquiry in a
petition for reinstatement to the practice of law is whether the lawyer has sufficiently
rehabilitated himself or herself in conduct and character.—The basic inquiry in a petition
for reinstatement to the practice of law is whether the lawyer has sufficiently
rehabilitated himself or herself in conduct and character. Whether the applicant shall be
reinstated in the Roll of Attorneys rests to a great extent on the sound discretion of the
Court. The lawyer has to demonstrate and prove by clear and convincing evidence that
he or she is again worthy of membership in the Bar. The Court will take into
consideration his or her character and standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and
character of the charge/s for which he or she was disbarred, his or her conduct
subsequent to the disbarment, and the time that has elapsed in between the disbarment
and the application for reinstatement.

Same; Same; Same; Considering the respondent’s earlier disbarment case (and subsequent
reduction of the penalty imposed as an act of clemency), and another disbarment case
against him still pending review by the Supreme Court (SC), the Court is not fully and
convincingly satisfied that the respondent has already reformed.—Considering the
respondent’s earlier disbarment case (and subsequent reduction of the penalty imposed
as an act of clemency), and another disbarment case against him still pending review by
the Court, we are not fully and convincingly satisfied that the respondent has already
reformed. The period of five (5) years is likewise not considerably long considering the
nature and perversity of the respondent’s misdeeds. We believe that it is still early for the
Court to consider the respondent’s reinstatement. [Que vs. Revilla, Jr., 739 SCRA
459(2014)]

Camacho vs. Pangulayan, 328 SCRA 631 , March 22, 2000


Administrative Law; Attorneys; Respondent fell short of the demands required of him as
a lawyer and as a member of the Bar.—Although aware that the students were
represented by counsel, respondent attorney proceeded, nonetheless, to negotiate with
them and their parents without at the very least communicating the matter to their
lawyer, herein complainant, who was counsel of record in Civil Case No. Q-97-30549.
This failure of respondent, whether by design or because of oversight, is an inexcusable
violation of the canons of professional ethics and in utter disregard of a duty owing to a
colleague. Respondent fell short of the demands required of him as a lawyer and as a
member of the Bar. [Camacho vs. Pangulayan, 328 SCRA 631(2000)]

People vs. Maceda, 323 SCRA 45 , January 24, 2000


Criminal Procedure; As a detention prisoner private respondent Javellana is not allowed
to practice his profession as a necessary consequence of his status as a detention
prisoner.—Regarding his continued practice of law, as a detention prisoner private
respondent Javellana is not allowed to practice his profession as a necessary consequence
of his status as a detention prisoner. The trial court’s order was clear that private
respondent “is not to be allowed liberty to roam around but is to be held as a detention
prisoner.”—The prohibition to practice law referred not only to Criminal Case No. 4262,
but to all other cases as well, except in cases where private respondent would appear in
court to defend himself.
Same; All prisoners whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence cannot
practice their profession nor engage in any business or occupation or hold office, elective
or appointive, while in detention.—As a matter of law, when a person indicted for an
offense is arrested, he is deemed placed under the custody of the law. He is placed in
actual restraint of liberty in jail so that he may be bound to answer for the commission of
the offense. He must be detained in jail during the pendency of the case against him,
unless he is authorized by the court to be released on bail or on recognizance. Let it be
stressed that all prisoners whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence
cannot practice their profession nor engage in any business or occupation, or hold office,
elective or appointive, while in detention. This is a necessary consequence of arrest and
detention. Consequently, all the accused in Criminal Cases Nos. 3350-3355 must be
confined in the Provincial Jail of Antique. [People vs. Maceda, 323 SCRA 45(2000)]

Zeta vs. Malinao, 87 SCRA 303 , December 20, 1978


Attorneys; Courts; A lower court employee who has been appearing as counsel in court
cases and falsifying his time record is dismissed from the service the acts committed being
grave in nature.—The defense of respondent that “his participation (sic) for defendants’
cause was gratuitous as they could not engage the services of counsel by reason of
poverty and the absence of one in the locality” cannot, even if true, carry the day for
him, considering that in appearing as counsel in court, he did so without permission from
his superiors and, worse, he falsified his time record of service to conceal his absence
from his office on the dates in question. Indeed, the number of times that respondent
acted as counsel under the above circumstances would indicate that he was doing it as a
regular practice obviously for considerations other than pure love of justice.

Same; Same; Same.—In the premises, it is quite obvious that the offense committed by
respondent is grave, hence it warrants a more drastic sanction than that of reprimand
recommended by Judge Zosa. We find no alternative than to separate him from the
service, with the admonition that he desist from appearing in any court or investigative
body wherein only members of the bar are allowed to practice. Wherefore, respondent
Felicisimo Malinao is hereby ordered dismissed from his position as interpreter in the
Court of First Instance, CFI, Zumarraga, Western Samar, with prejudice to reemployment
in the judicial branch of the government.

Tan vs. Balajadia, 484 SCRA 659 , March 14, 2006


Legal Ethics; Attorneys; The unauthorized practice of law by assuming to be an attorney
and acting as such without authority constitutes indirect contempt which is punishable by
fine or imprisonment or both.—In several cases, we have ruled that the unauthorized
practice of law by assuming to be an attorney and acting as such without authority
constitutes indirect contempt which is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. The
liability for the unauthorized practice of law under Section 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of
Court is in the nature of criminal contempt and the acts are punished because they are an
affront to the dignity and authority of the court, and obstruct the orderly administration
of justice. In determining liability for criminal contempt, well-settled is the rule that intent
is a necessary element, and no one can be punished unless the evidence makes it clear
that he intended to commit it. [Tan vs. Balajadia, 484 SCRA 659(2006)]

Aguirre vs. Rana, 403 SCRA 342 , June 10, 2003


Administrative Law; Attorneys; Practice of law means any activity in or out of court
which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and
experience; To engage in the practice of law is to perform acts which are usually
performed by members of the legal profession.—In Cayetano v. Monsod, the Court held
that “practice of law” means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the
application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in
the practice of law is to perform acts which are usually performed by members of the
legal profession. Generally, to practice law is to render any kind of service which requires
the use of legal knowledge or skill.

Same; Same; Having held himself out as “counsel” knowing that he had no authority to
practice law, respondent has shown moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine
Bar.—Verily, respondent was engaged in the practice of law when he appeared in the
proceedings before the MBEC and filed various pleadings, without license to do so.
Evidence clearly supports the charge of unauthorized practice of law. Respondent called
himself “counsel” knowing fully well that he was not a member of the Bar. Having held
himself out as “counsel” knowing that he had no authority to practice law, respondent
has shown moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine Bar.

Same; Same; The practice of law is a privilege that can be withheld even from one who
has passed the bar examinations, if the person seeking admission had practiced law
without a license.—The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is
a privilege. It is limited to persons of good moral character with special qualifications
duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of this privilege presupposes possession of
integrity, legal knowledge, educational attainment, and even public trust since a lawyer is
an officer of the court. A bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply
by passing the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can be withheld
even from one who has passed the bar examinations, if the person seeking admission had
practiced law without a license.

Same; Same; Under Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a person who engages
in the unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt of court.—The
regulation of the practice of law is unques tionably strict. In Beltran, Jr. v. Abad, a
candidate passed the bar examinations but had not taken his oath and signed the Roll of
Attorneys. He was held in contempt of court for practicing law even before his admission
to the Bar. Under Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a person who engages in
the unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt of court.

Same; Same; It is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a full-pledged
lawyer; Fact that respondent passed the bar examinations is immaterial.—True,
respondent here passed the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the lawyer’s oath.
However, it is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a full-fledged
lawyer. The fact that respondent passed the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing the
bar is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law. Respondent should know
that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his
lawyer’s oath to be administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys.

Lijauco vs. Terrado, 500 SCRA 301 , August 31, 2006


Attorneys; Gross Misconduct; The practice of law is a privilege bestowed on those who
show that they possessed and continue to possess the legal qualifications for it.—The
practice of law is a privilege bestowed on those who show that they possessed and
continue to possess the legal qualifications for it. Indeed, lawyers are expected to
maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty,
integrity and fair dealing. They must perform their fourfold duty to society, the legal
profession, the courts and their clients, in accordance with the values and norms of the
legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Same; Lawyers shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to them, and this negligence in
connection therewith shall render them liable.—Lawyers are prohibited from engaging in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct and are mandated to serve their clients
with competence and diligence. They shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to them,
and this negligence in connection therewith shall render them liable.

Same; The canons of the legal profession require that once an attorney agrees to handle
a case, he should undertake the task with zeal, care and utmost devotion.—The duty of a
lawyer to safeguard his client’s interests commences from his retainer until his discharge
from the case or the final disposition of the subject matter of litigation. Acceptance of
money from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty
of fidelity to the client’s cause. The canons of the legal profession require that once an
attorney agrees to handle a case, he should undertake the task with zeal, care and utmost
devotion.

Same; A member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended on the following grounds. —
Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred
or suspended on the following grounds: 1) deceit; 2) malpractice, or other gross
misconduct in office; 3) grossly immoral conduct; 4) conviction of a crime involving
moral turpitude; 5) violation of the lawyer’s oath; 6) willful disobedience to any lawful
order of a superior court; and 7) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without
authority.
Same; When a lawyer takes a client’s cause, he covenants that he will exercise due
diligence in protecting his rights.—When a lawyer takes a client’s cause, he covenants
that he will exercise due diligence in protecting his rights. The failure to exercise that
degree of vigilance and attention makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust reposed in
him by his client and makes him answerable not just to his client but also to the legal
profession, the courts and society.

Same; Utmost fidelity is demanded once counsel agrees to take the cudgels for his client’s
cause.—A lawyer should give adequate attention, care and time to his client’s case. Once
he agrees to handle a case, he should undertake the task with dedication and care. If he
fails in this duty, he is not true to his oath as a lawyer. Thus, a lawyer should accept only
as much cases as he can efficiently handle in order to sufficiently protect his clients’
interests. It is not enough that a lawyer possesses the qualification to handle the legal
matter; he must also give adequate attention to his legal work. Utmost fidelity is
demanded once counsel agrees to take the cudgels for his client’s cause. [Lijauco vs.
Terrado, 500 SCRA 301(2006)]