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LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 1

Canon 12: ASSIST IN SPEEDY AND in the agreement, respondent issued eight post-
EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE dated checks, totaling
₱736,060.00.6 Respondent then entered into a
Rule 12.01 and 18.02 joint venture or partnership agreement with Mrs.
Guadalupe Ares for the subdivision of the land
A.M. No. AC 4762 June 28, 2004 into home-size lots and its development, with a
portion of the land retained by respondent for his
LINDA VDA. DE ESPINO, complainant, own use.7 The land was eventually titled in the
vs. name of respondent and Mrs. Ares, and
ATTY. PEPITO C. PRESQUITO, respondent. subdivided into 35 to 36 lots.

RESOLUTION Meanwhile, the eight post-dated checks issued


by respondent were all dishonored. Mr. Espino
PUNO, J.: made repeated demands for payment from
respondent but the latter refused. Mr. Espino
On June 9, 1997, Linda Vda. de Espino wrote a died in December 1996. His widow,
letter-complaint1 with the then Court complainant, then tried to collect from
Administrator Alfredo Benipayo, charging respondent the value of the eight checks. When
respondent Atty. Pepito C. Presquito, a member complainant’s numerous pleas remained
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), unheeded, she filed the complaint in June 1997.
Misamis Oriental Chapter, for "having employed
fraud, trickery and dishonest means in refusing In his comment dated September 22, 1997,
to honor and pay [her] late husband Virgilio respondent denied any wrongdoing, and said
Espino, when he was still alive, the sum of that the allegations that he had employed "fraud,
₱763,060.00." According to complainant, trickery and dishonest means" with the late Mr.
respondent’s unlawful refusal and dilatory tactics Espino were totally false and baseless. The
partly triggered the death of her husband, who complaint, according to respondent, stemmed
died "disillusioned and embittered."2 The letter- from complainant’s lack of knowledge as to "the
complaint and affidavit also alleged that real story" of the transaction between
notwithstanding the numerous oral demands by complainant’s husband and respondent. He also
Mr. Espino and complainant (after the death of vehemently took exception to the imputation that
Mr. Espino), respondent still refused to pay the he was banking on the influence of his father-in-
amount represented by the eight checks which law and uncle-in-law.
had all been dishonored. Complainant surmised
that Atty. Presquito’s refusal to pay may be due Respondent does not deny the issuance of the
to his reliance on the influence of his father-in- eight checks. What respondent claims, however,
law, a former Executive Judge of the RTC is that the nonpayment was justified by the
(Cagayan de Oro), and of his uncle, an RTC unresolved problems he and Mrs. Ares have
judge (Cagayan de Oro). with respect to the right-of-way of the land. He
alleged that Mr. Espino had made assurances
The records show that sometime in September that the land had a right-of-way required for its
1995, respondent was introduced to development, but respondent later found out that
complainant’s late husband, Mr. Virgilio M. such road-right-of-way required the consent of
Espino. Mr. Espino, a resident of Davao City, four other land owners, and the expense would
had sought the assistance of respondent, a be considerably more than he was made to
resident of Cagayan de Oro, regarding the sale believe. According to respondent, he and Mr.
of his piece of land with an area of 11,057.59 Espino had agreed that the latter would not
sq.m. situated in Misamis Oriental. The encash the checks or demand the equivalent of
discussion between Mr. Espino and the the same until the right-of-way problem of the
respondent resulted in the sale of the property to land had been resolved.8 Respondent’s position
respondent.3Under the terms of the agreement is that until the problem of obtaining a right-of-
between Mr. Espino and respondent,4 the way to the land has been resolved, nothing has
purchase price of the land was ₱1,437,410.00, yet accrued against him or Mrs. Ares (his
payable on a staggered basis and by partner), as it would be "very unfair and unjust"
installments.5 Pursuant to the terms of payment
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 2

for them to pay Mr. Espino when the land could complainant’s late husband for the sale of the
not be developed and sold.9 latter’s land; (2) respondent had issued the eight
checks in connection with said agreement; (3)
Respondent also alleged that he was entitled to these checks were dishonored and remain
set-off against the amount he owes Mr. Espino unpaid; and (4) the land sold had an existing
or his heirs from the purchase of the land, the road-right-of-way. Complainant’s exhibits were
advances he made to Mr. Espino, and the cost formally offered as early as January 6,
he incurred when he defended Mr. Espino’s son 1999,13and were admitted without objections
in a criminal case. He later on manifested that he from respondent.14
has fully paid the portion of the land which had
been titled in his name through the same In the face of these uncontroverted facts, it was
advances and incurred expenses.10 incumbent upon respondent to prove a legal
excuse or defense for nonpayment of the eight
In a resolution dated November 26, 1997,11 the checks.
case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and Respondent utterly failed in this regard.
recommendation/decision, and assigned to the
IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD). From the termination of complainant’s
presentation of evidence on December 1998
In the IBP-CBD report dated November 12, until Commissioner Dulay’s report on November
2002,12 Investigating Commissioner Caesar R. 12, 2002, the records show that respondent was
Dulay found that "the facts and credible unable to present evidence - either testimonial
evidence made available in this case indubitably or documentary - to prove that he had legal
establish respondent’s failure to live up to the cause to refuse payment, or that he was entitled
demands of the Lawyers Code of Professional to legal compensation. Even respondent’s own
Responsibility and the Canons of Professional statements - which, without corroborating
Ethics." For having failed to act with candor and evidence, remain mere self-serving allegations -
fairness toward complainant, Commissioner fall short of testimony, as he failed to submit to
Dulay recommended that respondent be cross-examination by opposing counsel or for
suspended from the practice of law for six (6) clarificatory questions by the IBP-CBD. Worse,
months, and ordered to immediately account respondent attached eighteen documents to his
with complainant regarding the sale of the piece comment, but only went so far as to
of land which had been subdivided in the name mark (without a formal offer) the agreement
of respondent and his business partner. On June between him and Mr. Espino (for the sale of the
21, 2003, the Board of Governors of the IBP land), and the partnership agreement between
passed a Resolution adopting/approving the him and Mrs. Ares. Thus, respondent had no
Report and Recommendation of Commissioner evidence other than his own allegations.
Dulay, finding that "respondent’s lack of fairness
and candor and honesty [was] in violation of Respondent’s failure to present evidence is a
Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional breach of Rule 12.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility." Responsibility,15especially in the light of the
numerous postponements and resettings he
After a careful consideration of the record of the requested for and was granted with, on the
instant case, we agree that respondent was ground that he needed more time to prepare his
wanting in fairness, candor and honesty evidence. We note that respondent was first
demanded of him by the Lawyers’ Code of scheduled to present his evidence on December
Professional Responsibility and the Canons of 14, 1998. Two years - five resettings, and three
Professional Ethics. We find, however, the orders submitting the case for resolution - later,
recommended penalty of six (6) months respondent still had not proffered testimonial or
suspension too light considering respondent’s documentary evidence.
gross misconduct.
Respondent claims that his failure to present
Complainant’s testimony and exhibits have evidence was due to his financial difficulties, i.e.,
clearly established that: (1) there was an he could not afford to spend for travel expenses
agreement between respondent and of his witnesses.16 We are not persuaded. First,
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 3

it boggles the mind how financial constraints standards demanded of him as a


could have prevented respondent from member of the bar. Respondent is
presenting the originals of the documents lacking in fairness and candour [sic] and
attached to his comment, proving, among honesty. The fact that he has
others, the alleged advances and costs on Mr. unreasonably delayed and failed to
Espino’s behalf. The originals of these account with complainant for a long time
documents are presumably in his possession. and the fact of his having allowed the
Second, with respect to the absence of checks he issued to bounce is [sic]
testimony, respondent could have submitted the unacceptable and censurable behavior
affidavits of his witnesses - the taking of which for a member of the bar.19 [citations
he could have done himself in Cagayan de Oro omitted]
to keep down the cost. The records are clear that
he was allowed this option.17 But he did neither. Having no legal defense to refuse payment of
the eight dishonored checks, respondent’s
All these circumstances lead us to the indifference to complainant’s entreaties for
ineluctable conclusion that respondent could payment was conduct unbecoming of a member
not present evidence because there really of the bar and an officer of the court. Respondent
was none to justify his nonpayment.18 violated the Code of Professional Responsibility
by his unlawful, dishonest and deceitful conduct
Even if we were to excuse respondent’s towards complainant and her late
20
husband, first by allowing the eight (8) checks
procedural lapse and consider his written
pleadings as testimony, we agree with he issued to bounce, then by ignoring the
Commissioner Dulay that respondent’s repeated demands for payment until
problems with respect to the right-of-way or his complainant was forced to file this complaint,
partnership with Mrs. Ares do not excuse his and finally by deliberately delaying the
nonpayment. As stated in the IBP-CBD report: disposition of this case with dilatory tactics.
Considering that the property of complainant
[T]he solution to the right-of-way problem and her late husband is already in respondent
however clearly lies in the hands of and Mrs. Ares’ name, the injustice of
respondent….We note that respondent respondent’s different maneuvers to evade
has already taken title over the property payment of the eight checks - due and unpaid
together with Guadalupe Ares by making since 1996 - becomes more manifest.
complainant’s late husband, sign over the
property by way of the Deed of Sale. We It should be stressed that respondent issued
therefore find respondent’s position vis- eight (8) worthless checks, seemingly without
à-vis the widowed complainant sneaky regard to its deleterious effects to public interest
and unfair. We reiterate that respondent and public order. We have already declared,
has assumed responsibility for the most recently in Lao v. Medel,21 that the
negotiations on the road-right-of-way and issuance of worthless checks constitutes gross
was aware of the problem. To [sic] our misconduct, and puts the erring lawyer’s moral
mind he has used the alleged road-right- character in serious doubt, though it is not
of-way problem only as an afterthought related to his professional duties as a member of
and a reason to delay and in fact deny the the bar.22 He not only sets himself liable for a
complainant payment of what is due her. serious criminal offense under B.P. Blg. 22, but
Respondent also alleges and blames the also transgresses the Code of Professional
deceased husband of complainant for the Responsibility, specifically the mandate of
failed project but the facts show Canon 1 to obey the laws of the land and
otherwise. They are just bare allegations promote the respect for law.
and remain unsubstantiated. Besides,
respondent and Ares took risks in the It behooves respondent to remember that a
business venture and are now the titled lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any
owners of the property. The seller cannot misconduct, even if it pertains to his private
be blamed for any failure in the project. activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting
Respondent’s actuations in the whole in moral character, honesty, probity or good
transaction is [sic] not at par with the demeanor. Possession of good moral character
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 4

is not only a good condition precedent to the


practice of law, but a continuing qualification for
all members of the bar.23 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.24 Thus, the
Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in


unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.

xxx xxx xxx

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.

Given the foregoing, and in line with


jurisprudence involving lawyers who issued
worthless checks - Lao v. Medel,25Co v.
Bernardino,26 and Ducat v. Villalon, Jr.,27 - we
find respondent’s reprehensible conduct
warrants suspension from the practice of law for
one (1) year.

WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. PEPITO C.


PRESQUITO is found guilty of gross misconduct
and is hereby suspended from the practice of
law for one (1) year, and ordered to immediately
account with complainant regarding the sale of
the piece of land, which has been subdivided in
the name of respondent and his business
partner.

Let a copy of this decision be spread in his file at


the Office of the Bar Confidant and of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

SO ORDERED.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 5

RULE 12. 03: NO DELAY CASE letter-notices to complainant and the four
removed directors informing them of their
A.C. No. 6273 removal from the Board and as members of
GEMASCO, and advising them to cease and
ATTY. ILUMINADA M. VAFLOR-FABROA, desist from further discharging the duties of their
Complainant, vs. ATTY. OSCAR PAGUINTO, positions.[7]
Respondent.
Complainant thus filed on October 16, 2001 with
DECISION the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA)-
Calamba a complaint for annulment of the
CARPIO MORALES, J.: proceedings taken during the October 14, 2001
An Information for Estafa[1] was filed on June 21, Special General Assembly.
2001 against Atty. Iluminada M. Vaflor-
Fabroa (complainant) along with others based The CDA Acting Regional Director (RD), by
on a joint affidavit-complaint which Atty. Resolution of February 21, 2002, declared the
Oscar Paguinto (respondent) prepared and questioned general assembly null and void for
notarized. As the joint affidavit-complaint did not having been conducted in violation of
indicate the involvement of complainant, GEMASCOs By-Laws and the Cooperative
complainant filed a Motion to Quash the Code of the Philippines.[8] The RDs Resolution
Information which the trial court of February 21, 2002 was later vacated for lack
granted.[2] Respondents Motion for of jurisdiction[9] of CDA.
Reconsideration of the quashal of the
Information was denied[3] In her present complainant[10] against
respondent for disbarment, complainant alleged
Respondent also filed six other criminal that respondent:
complaints against complainant for violation of
Article 31 of Republic Act No. 6938 (Cooperative X X X PROMOTED OR SUED A
Code of the Philippines) before the Office of the GROUNDLESS, FALSE OR UNLAWFUL SUIT,
Provincial Prosecutor, but he eventually filed a AND GAVE AID AND CONSENT TO THE
Motion to Withdraw them.[4] SAME[11]

On October 10, 2001, complainant, who was X X X DISOBEYED LAWS OF THE


Chairperson of the General Mariano Alvarez LAND, PROMOTE[D] DISRESPECT FOR LAW
Service Cooperative, Inc. (GEMASCO), AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION[12]
received a Notice of Special General Assembly
of GEMASCO on October 14, 2001 to consider X X X DID NOT CONDUCT HIMSELF WITH
the removal of four members of the Board of COURTESY, FAIRNESS AND CANDOR
Directors (the Board), including her and the TOWARD HIS PROFESSIONAL COLLEAGUE
General Manager.[5] The notice was signed by AND ENGAGED IN HARASSING TACTICS
respondent. AGAINST OPPOSING COUNSEL[13]

At the October 14, 2001 Special General X X X VIOLATED CANON 19 A LAWYER


Assembly presided by respondent and PNP Sr. SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL
Supt. Angelito L. Gerangco (Gerangco), who WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE LAW [14]
were not members of the then current
Board,[6] Gerango, complainants predecessor, X X X RUINED AND DAMAGED NOT
as Chair of the GEMASCO board, declared ONLY THE GEN. MARIANO ALVAREZ
himself Chair, appointed others to replace the SERVICES COOPERATIVE, INC. (GEMASCO,
removed directors, and appointed respondent as INC.) BUT THE ENTIRE WATER-CONSUMING
Board Secretary. COMMUNITY AS WELL[15]

On October 15, 2001, respondent and his group Despite the Courts grant,[16] on respondents
took over the GEMASCO office and its motion,[17] of extension of time to file Comment,
premises, the pumphouses, water facilities, and respondent never filed any comment. The Court
operations. On even date, respondent sent thus required him to show cause why he should
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 6

not be disciplinarily dealt with,[18] but just the disbarment or suspension of attorneys by the
same he failed to comply.[19] Supreme Court as provided for in Section 27,
Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court.[21]
The Court thus referred the complaint to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report, and recommendation.[20] Respondents counsel who represented him
during the conference proposed the issue of
It appears that during the mandatory conference whether, on the basis of the allegations of the
before the IBP, complainant proposed the complaint, misconduct was committed by
following issues: respondent.[22]

1. Whether or not the acts of respondent After the conclusion of the conference, both
constitute violations of the Code of Professional parties were ordered to submit position
Responsibility, particularly the following: papers.[23] Complainant filed hers,[24] but
respondent, despite grant, on his motion, of
1.1 Canon 1 A lawyer shall uphold the extension of time, did not file any position paper.
Constitution, obey the laws of the land and
promote respect for law and legal [processes]. In her Report and
[25]
Recommendation, Investigating
1.2 Canon 8 A lawyer shall conduct himself with Commissioner Lolita A. Quisumbing found
courtesy, fairness, and candor toward his respondent guilty of violating the Lawyers Oath
professional colleagues, and shall avoid as well as Canons 1, 8, 10, and Rule 12.03 of
harassing tactics against opposing counsel. the Code of Professional Responsibility. Noting
that respondent had already been previously
1.3 Canon 10 A lawyer owes candor, fairness suspended for six months, the Commissioner
and good faith to the court. recommended that respondent be suspended
for two years.
1.4 Canon 19 A lawyer shall represent his client
with zeal within the bounds of the law. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD)
Board of Governors opted for the dismissal of
1.5 Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after obtaining the complaint, however, for lack of merit.[26]
extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda
or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting On Motion for Reconsideration,[27] the IBP-CBD
the same or offering an explanation for his failure Board of Governors recommended that
to do so. respondent be suspended from the practice of
law for six months.
2. Whether or not the above acts of The Court finds that by conniving
respondent constitute violations of his lawyers with Gerangco in taking over the Board of
oath, particularly the following: Directors and the GEMASCO facilities,
respondent violated the provisions of the
2.1 support the Constitution and obey the laws Cooperative Code of the Philippines and the
as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted GEMASCO By-Laws. He also violated the
authorities therein Lawyers Oath, which provides that a lawyer shall
support the Constitution and obey the laws.
2.2 will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing
of any in court When respondent caused the filing of baseless
criminal complaints against complainant, he
2.3 will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue violated the Lawyers Oath that a lawyer shall not
any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor wittingly or willingly promote or sue any
give aid nor consent to the same groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid or
consent to the same.
2.4 will delay no man for money or malice
When, after obtaining an extension of time to file
3. Whether or not the above acts of comment on the complaint, respondent failed to
[respondent] complained of are grounds for file any and ignored this Courts subsequent
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 7

show cause order, he violated Rule 12.03 of the


Code of Professional Responsibility, which SO ORDERED.
states that A lawyer shall not, after obtaining
extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda
or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting
the same or offering an explanation for his failure
to do so. Sebastian v. Bajar[28] teaches:

x x x Respondents cavalier attitude in


repeatedly ignoring the orders of the Supreme
Court constitutes utter disrespect to the judicial
institution. Respondents conduct indicates a
high degree of irresponsibility. A Courts
Resolution is not to be construed as a mere
request, nor should it be complied with partially,
inadequately, or selectively. Respondents
obstinate refusal to comply with the Courts
orders not only betrays a recalcitrant flaw in her
character; it also underscores her disrespect of
the Courts lawful orders which is only too
deserving of reproof.

Lawyers are called upon to obey court orders


and processes and respondents deference is
underscored by the fact that willful disregard
thereof will subject the lawyer not only to
punishment for contempt but to disciplinary
sanctions as well. In fact, graver responsibility is
imposed upon a lawyer than any other to uphold
the integrity of the courts and to show respect to
their processes.[29] (Citations omitted).

The Court notes that respondent had previously


been suspended from the practice of law for six
months for violation of the Code of Professional
Responsibility,[30] he having been found to have
received an acceptance fee and misled the client
into believing that he had filed a case for her
when he had not.[31] It appears, however, that
respondent has not reformed his ways. A more
severe penalty this time is thus called for.

WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Oscar


P. Paguinto, is SUSPENDED for two years from
the practice of law for violation of Canons 1, 8,
10, and Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and the Lawyers Oath, effective
immediately.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the


Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to
respondents personal record as an attorney; the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and all courts
in the country for their information and guidance.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 8

A.C. No. 7922 October 1, 2013 In the Court’s Resolution3 of July 16, 2008, we
required Atty. Villaseca to comment on the
MARY ANN T. MATTUS, Complainant, complaint.
vs.
ATTY. ALBERT T. VILLASECA, Respondent. On September 10, 2008, Atty. Villaseca filed his
comment,4 refuting the allegations against him.
DECISION Atty. Villaseca explained that he made known to
the complainant that the testimony of a
PER CURIAM: handwriting expert was necessary only if the
prosecution would be able to produce the
Before us is a complaint for disbarment filed by original copy of the SPA. Atty. Villaseca also
complainant Mary Ann T. Mattus against Atty. claimed that his absences during the hearings,
Albert T. Villaseca for gross and inexcusable as well as his numerous motions for
negligence in handling Criminal Case No. postponement, were justified and were never
10309-02. intended for delay. He denied having collected
appearance fees when he did not attend the
Background Facts scheduled hearings, and maintained that the
fees he received were intended to compensate
The complainant, German Bernardo D. Mattus him for his services in the other cases filed by
and Dexter Aligan were the accused in Criminal the complainant. Atty. Villaseca further claimed
Case No. 10309-02 – a case for estafa thru that he immediately corrected the case number
falsification of public document filed in the in the notice of appeal when he discovered this
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 20, Imus, error.
Cavite. The complainant and her husband,
German, engaged the services of Atty. Villaseca In a Resolution5dated October 15, 2008, we
to represent them in the proceedings. The referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
complainant maintained that she and German Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
were convicted due to Atty. Villaseca’s gross recommendation.
and inexcusable negligence in performing his
duties as their counsel. The IBPs’ Report and Recommendation

In her complaint-affidavit,1 the complainant In his Report and Recommendation6 dated


alleged, among others, that Atty. Villaseca: (1) September 16, 2009,Investigating
was often absent during court hearings but still Commissioner Salvador B. Hababag
collected appearance fees; (2) frequently sought recommended that Atty. Villaseca be suspended
the postponement of trial when he was present; for six (6) months from the practice of law.
(3) failed to ask the RTC to direct a National
Bureau of Investigation expert to examine the Commissioner Hababag ruled that Atty.
signatures of the spouses Leslie and Zuraida Villaseca’s reckless and gross negligence
Porter2 in the special power of attorney (SPA); deprived his clients of due process; his
(4) failed to file a demurrer to evidence despite actuations in the criminal case showed utter
having been granted sufficient time by the RTC disregard for his clients’ life and liberty.
to submit one; (5) failed to present evidence on Commissioner Hababag explained that Atty.
behalf of the defense, and only filed a Villaseca failed to file a demurrer to evidence
memorandum; (6) did not inform her and despite the sufficient length of time that had
German of the dates of the presentation of been given to him by the RTC to submit this
defense evidence and the promulgation of pleading, and waived his right to present
judgment; and (7) erroneously indicated the evidence for the defense, opting instead to file a
wrong case number in the notice of appeal. memorandum only. Commissioner Hababag
According to the complainant, Atty. Villaseca’s concluded that Atty. Villaseca’s failure to
negligence in handling the case resulted in her properly attend to the interests of his clients led
own and her husband’s conviction. to their conviction.

In Resolution No. XIX-2011-2517 dated May 14,


2011, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 9

approved the findings of the Investigating it ruled that he was deemed to have waived his
Commissioner, but increased Atty. Villaseca’s right to file this pleading. Clearly, Atty.
period of suspension from the practice of law Villaseca’s actuations violated Rule 12.03 of the
from six (6) months to one (1) year. Code of Professional Responsibility which states
that "a lawyer shall not, after obtaining
Our Ruling extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda
or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting
After a careful review of the records, the Court the same or offering an explanation for his failure
finds the evidence on record sufficient to support to do so."
the IBP’s findings. We, however, increase Atty.
Villaseca’s period of suspension from the The records further disclosed that after Atty.
practice of law from one (1) year to five (5) years. Villaseca’s failure to file a demurrer to evidence,
the RTC set the initial presentation of defense
We stress at the outset that a lawyer "is evidence on May 9, 2005. However, this hearing
expected to exert his best efforts and ability to was postponed thrice: the May 9, 2005 hearing
preserve his client's cause, for the unwavering was reset to August 8, 2005 due to Atty.
loyalty displayed to his client likewise serves the Villaseca’s failure to appear;12 the August 8,
ends of justice."8 Once a lawyer agrees to take 2005 hearing was reset to November 17, 2005
up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity upon Atty. Villaseca’s motion;13 and the
to such cause and must always be mindful of the November 17, 2005 hearing was reset to March
trust and confidence reposed in him. He owes 1, 2006 because of Atty. Villaseca’s
entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm manifestation that his intended first witness was
zeal in maintenance and defense of his client’s unavailable.14 During the March 1, 2006hearing,
rights, and the exertion of his utmost learning the respondent manifested that the defense
and ability to the end that nothing be taken or would no longer present any evidence, and
withheld from his client, save by the rules of law, moved that he be given time to file a
legally applied. A lawyer who performs his duty memorandum.15
with diligence and candor not only protects the
interest of his client; he also serves the ends of We point out that the prosecution rested its case
justice, does honor to the bar, and helps on July 1, 2004; yet Atty. Villaseca waited until
maintain the respect of the community to the March 1, 2006 only to manifest that he would no
legal profession.9 longer present any evidence. We are at a loss
why Atty. Villaseca chose not to present any
The records of the present case show that Atty. evidence for the defense, considering that the
Villaseca had been grossly remiss in handling accused wanted and were ready to take the
Criminal Case No. 10309-02. To recall, Atty. witness stand. As a result, the testimony of the
Villaseca requested for time to file demurrer to lone prosecution witness remained
evidence after the prosecution had rested its uncontroverted. To make matters worse, Atty.
case. In its order 10 of July 1, 2004, the RTC Villaseca directed German to attend the hearing
gave him 20 days from receipt of the transcript on June 6, 2007without informing him that it was
of stenographic notes within which to file a already the date of the promulgation of
demurrer to evidence. Atty. Villaseca, however, judgment.1âwphi1
did not file a demurrer to evidence, without
offering any explanation why he failed to do so. The Code of Professional Responsibility states
As a result, the RTC issued an order 11 stating that "a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his
that Atty. Villaseca "is deemed to have waived client and he shall be mindful of the trust and
his right to file the said pleading." confidence reposed in him."16 It further
mandates that "a lawyer shall serve his client
To our mind, Atty. Villaseca’s failure to submit a with competence and diligence."17 It also states
demurrer to evidence to explain such omission that "a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter
constitutes inexcusable negligence; it showed entrusted to him, and his negligence in
his lack of devotion and zeal in preserving his connection therewith shall render him liable."18
clients’ cause. We point out that nine months
had lapsed from the time the RTC granted Atty. Atty. Villaseca’s failure to present any
Villaseca 20 days to file the demurrer to the time testimonial, object or documentary evidence for
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 10

the defense reveals his lack of diligence in only to the client, but also to the court, to the bar
performing his duties as an officer of the Court; and to the public. As we explained in Spouses
it showed his indifference towards the cause of Bautista v. Atty. Arturo Cefra:20
his clients. Considering that the liberty and
livelihood of his clients were at stake, Atty. The practice of law is a privilege bestowed by
Villaseca should have exerted efforts tore but the State on those who show that they possess
the presented prosecution evidence. He could the legal qualifications for it. Lawyers are
have presented the complainant and/or her expected to maintain at all times a high standard
husband to the witness stand, instead of just of legal proficiency and morality, including
opting to file a memorandum. Or, at the very honesty, integrity and fair dealing. They must
least, the reason for this move should have been perform their fourfold duty to society, the legal
fully explained to the clients, and later to the IBP profession, the courts and their clients, in
and to this Court. But no such explanation ever accordance with the values and norms of the
came. We are thus left with the stark reality that legal profession as embodied in the Code of
Atty. Villaseca failed to file, despite the promise Professional Responsibility.
made to the lower court, a demurrer to evidence.
After failing in this first line of defense for his "The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer
clients, it should have been incumbent upon depends on the exercise of sound judicial
Atty. Villaseca to present evidence for the discretion based on the surrounding
defense, but again, he unexplainably failed to do facts."21 Under the circumstances, we find that
this, leaving the lower court with no evidence to the IBP’s recommended penalty of one year’s
appreciate except that of the prosecution, to the suspension from the practice of law is not
detriment of his clients’ cause. commensurate to Atty. Villaseca’s
transgressions. His incompetence and appalling
We emphasize that while a lawyer has complete indifference to his duty to his client, the courts
discretion on what legal strategy to employ in a and society indicate a high degree of
case entrusted to him, he must present every irresponsibility that casts dishonor on the legal
remedy or defense within the authority of the law profession.
to support his client’s cause. A memorandum, no
matter how lengthy, should not be made a The present case finds a close forerunner in
substitute for testimonial, object or documentary Santeco v. Atty. Avance,22 where we suspended
evidence, more so in a criminal case where a Atty. Luna B. Avance from the practice of law for
conviction could lead to dire consequences. In five(5) years for being grossly remiss in the
saying so, we are not insinuating that the RTC performance of her duties as counsel. In this
decision would have tilted in favor of the defense cited case, the civil case entrusted to Atty.
had Atty. Villaseca presented evidence; we Avance was dismissed for failure to prosecute.
simply stress that utmost fidelity and attention During the pendency of her motion for
are demanded once counsel agrees to take the reconsideration (which she had filed way beyond
cudgels for his client's cause. the reglementary period), she told her client that
she would file a petition for certiorari before the
We again remind members of the bar to live up CA to assail the dismissal of the civil case. She
to the standards and norms expected of the legal did not file this petition, but failed to inform her
profession by upholding the ideals and principles client of this omission. Moreover, Atty. Avance
embodied in the Code of Professional stopped appearing as counsel for her client
Responsibility. A lawyer engaged to represent a without notifying the latter.
client bears the responsibility of protecting the
latter's interest with utmost diligence. It is his Atty. Villaseca’s negligence in the present case
duty to serve his client with competence and had much graver implications, as the legal
diligence, and he should exert his best efforts to matter entrusted to him involved not merely
protect, within the bounds of the law, the money or property, but the very liberty and
interests of his client.19 A lawyer’s diligence and livelihood of his clients. We stress that the
vigilance is more imperative in criminal cases, moment Atty. Villaseca agreed to handle the
where the life and liberty of an accused is at complainant’s criminal case, he became duty-
stake. Verily, the entrusted privilege to practice bound to serve his clients with competence and
law carries with it the corresponding duties, not diligence, and to champion their cause with
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 11

whole-hearted fidelity. By failing to afford his


clients every remedy and defense that is
authorized by the law, Atty. Villaseca fell short of
what is expected of him as an officer of the
Court. We cannot overstress the duty of a lawyer
to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession by faithfully performing his duties to
society, to the bar, to the courts and to his
clients.

All told, Atty. Villaseca showed a wanton and


utter disregard to his clients’ cause; his failure to
exercise due diligence in attending to their
interest in the criminal case caused them grave
prejudice. Under the circumstances, we find a
five-year suspension from the practice of law to
be a sufficient and appropriate sanction against
him. The increased penalty serves the purpose
of protecting the interest of the Court, the legal
profession and the public.

WHEREFORE premises considered, we find


Atty. Albert T. Villaseca guilty of negligence, in
violation of Rules 12.03 and 18.03 and Canon 17
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is
hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
five (5) years, effective upon his receipt of this
Decision, and STERNLY WARNED that a
repetition of the same or similar offense will be
dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the


Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, and the Office of the Court
Administrator for circulation to all the courts.

SO ORDERED.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 12

RULE 12. 04: NO DELAY OR IMPEDE THE Opposition and a Motion for Contempt of
EXECUTION OF JUDGEMENT/MISUSE Court.[3]
COUNT PROCESS
During the hearing of the motion for contempt of
[G.R. No. 133090. January 19, 2001] court held on December 5, 1996, the following
incident transpired:
REXIE EFREN A. BUGARING AND ROYAL
BECHTEL BUILDERS, INC., petitioners, vs. ATTY. BUGARING: For the plaintiff, your Honor,
HON. DOLORES S. ESPAOL, in her capacity we are ready.
as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial
Court Branch 90, Imus, Cavite, respondent. ATTY CORDERO: Same appearance for the
defendant, your Honor.
DECISION
ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor please, we are
DE LEON, JR., J.: ready with respect to the prosecution of our
motion for contempt, your Honor. May we know
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of from the record if the Register of Deeds is
the Decision dated March 6, 1998 of the Court of properly notified for todays hearing.
Appeals[1] affirming the decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Cavite, Branch 90, Imus, Cavite, COURT: Will you call on the Register of Deeds.
declaring petitioner Rexie Efren A. Bugaring
guilty in direct contempt of court. INTERPRETER: Atty. Diosdado Concepcion,
He is here, your Honor.
The incident subject of the petition occurred
during a hearing held on December 5, 1996 of ATTY. BUGARING: We are ready, your Honor.
Civil Case No. 1266-96 entitled Royal
Becthel[2] Builders, Inc. vs. Spouses Luis COURT: There is a motion for contempt in
Alvaran and Beatriz Alvaran, et al., for connection with the order of this Court which
Annulment of Sale and Certificates of Title, directed your office to register lis pendens of the
Specific Performance and Damages with Prayer complaint in connection with this case of Royal
for Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Becthel Builder, Inc. versus spouses Luis
Restraining Order in the sala of respondent Alvaran and Beatriz Alvaran, et al.
judge Dolores S. Espaol of the Regional Trial
Court of Cavite, Branch 90, Imus, Cavite. ATTY. CONCEPCION: Your Honor, I just
received this morning at ten o clock [in the
Pursuant to a motion filed by the previous morning] the subpoena.
counsel of Royal Bechtel Builders, Inc., the trial
court issued an order on February 27, 1996 ATTY. BUGARING: May we put it on record that
directing the Register of Deeds of the Province as early as November 6, 1996, the Office of the
of Cavite to annotate at the back of certain Register of Deeds was furnished with a copy of
certificates of title a notice of lis pendens. Before our motion, your Honor please, and the record
the Register of Deeds of the Province of Cavite will bear it out. Until now they did not file any
could comply with said order, the defendant answer, opposition or pleadings with respect to
Spouses Alvaran on April 15, 1996, filed a this motion.
motion to cancel lis pendens. On July 19, 1996,
petitioner, the newly appointed counsel of Royal ATTY. CONCEPCION: Well I was not informed
Bechtel Builders, Inc., filed an opposition to the because I am not the Register of Deeds. I am
motion to cancel lis pendens. On August 16, only the Deputy Register of Deeds and I was not
1996, the motion to cancel lis pendens was informed by the receiving clerk of our office
granted by the court. Petitioner filed a motion for regarding this case. As a matter of fact I was
reconsideration, which was opposed by the surprised when I received this morning the
defendants. On November 5, 1996, petitioner subpoena, your Honor.
filed an Urgent Motion to Resolve, and on
November 6, 1996, filed a Rejoinder to
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 13

ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor please, may we COURT: After the court have noticed that he is
put that on record that the manifestation of the taking a video tape.
respondent that he was not informed.
ATTY. BUGARING: Yes, your Honor, in fact that
COURT: That is recorded. This is a Court of is not my personal problem your Honor please,
record and everything that you say here is that is personal to that guy your Honor please if
recorded. this representation is being .

ATTY. BUGARING: Yes your Honor please, we COURT: That is very shallow, dont give that
know that but we want to be specific because we alibi.
will be [filing] a case against this receiving clerk
who did not [inform] him your Honor please, with ATTY. BUGARING: At any rate, your Honor
this manifestation of the Deputy of the Register please, we are going to mark our documentary
of Deeds that is irregularity in the performance evidence as part of our motion for contempt,
of the official duty of the clerk not to inform the your Honor please.
parties concerned.
COURT: What has the Register of Deeds got to
COURT: Counsel, the Court would like to find say with this matter?
out who this fellow who is taking the video
recording at this proceedings. There is no ATTY. CONCEPCION: Well as I have said
permission from this Court that such before, I have not received any motion regarding
proceedings should be taken. this contempt you are talking. I am willing now to
testify.
ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor, my Assistant. I
did not advise him to take a video he just ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor I am still of the
accompanied me this morning. prosecution stage, it is not yet the defense. This
is a criminal proceedings, contempt proceedings
COURT: Right, but the video recording is is a criminal.
prepared process and you should secure the
permission of this Court. ATTY. CONCEPCION: Your Honor please, may
I ask for the assistance from the Fiscal.
ATTY. BUGARING: Actually, I did not instruct
him to take some video tape. COURT: If this is going to proceed, we need the
presence of a Fiscal or a counsel for the
COURT: Why would he be bringing camera if Register of Deeds.
you did not give him the go signal that shots
should be done. ATTY. CONCEPCION: Can I appoint an outside
lawyer not a Fiscal but a private counsel, your
ATTY. BUGARING: This Court should not Honor.
presume that, your Honor please, we just came
from an occasion last night and I am not yet COURT: That is at your pleasure. The Court will
come home, your Honor please. I could prove consider that you should be amply represented.
your Honor please, that the contents of that tape
is other matters your Honor please. I was just ATTY. CONCEPCION: As a matter of fact I have
surprised why he took video tape your Honor a lawyer here, Atty. Barzaga if he is willing
please, that we ask the apology of this Court if
that offend this Court your Honor please. ATTY. BARZAGA[4]: Yes, your Honor, I will just
review the records.
COURT: It is not offending because this is a
public proceedings but the necessary authority ATTY. BUGARING: Anyway your Honor please,
or permission should be secured. I will not yet present my witness but I will just
mark our documentary exhibits which are part of
ATTY. BUGARING: In fact I instructed him to go the record of the case and thereafter your Honor
out, your Honor. please.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 14

COURT: You wait for a minute counsel because ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor please, may we
there is a preparation being done by newly proceed your Honor, will first mark our
appointed counsel of the respondent, Atty. documentary evidence.
Barzaga is considered as the privately hired
counsel of the register of deeds and the COURT: You wait until the Court allows you to
respondent of this contempt proceedings. How do what you want to do, okay. The counsel has
much time do you need to go over the record of just made manifestation, he has not prayed for
this case so that we can call the other case in anything. So let us wait until he is finished and
the meanwhile. then wait for the direction of this Court what to
do to have an orderly proceedings in this case.
ATTY. BARZAGA: Second call, your Honor.
ATTY. BARZAGA: Considering your Honor, that
----------------------------------- the issues appear to be a little bit complicated
----------------------------------- your Honor, considering that the order regarding
--------- the annotation of the lis pendens has already
been revoked by the Hon. Court your Honor, we
COURT: Are you ready Atty. Barzaga? just request that we be given a period of ten days
from today your Honor, within which to submit
ATTY. BARZAGA: Yes, your Honor. Well our formal written opposition your Honor.
actually your Honor, after reviewing the record of
the case your Honor, I noticed that the motion for COURT: Counsel, will you direct your attention
contempt of Court was filed on November 6, to the manifestation filed earlier by Atty. Tutaan
1966 and in paragraph 6 thereof, your Honor it in connection with the refusal of the Register of
is stated that, the record of the case shows up to Deeds to annotate the lis pendens because of
the filing of this motion, the Register as well as certain reasons. According to the manifestation
the Deputy Register Diosdado Concepcion of of Atty. Tutaan and it is appearing in the earlier
the Office of the Register of Deeds of the part of the record of this case, the reason for that
Province of Cavite, did not comply with the Court is because there was a pending subdivision
Orders dated February 27, 1996, March 29, plan, it is so stated. I think it was dated March,
1996, respectively. However, your Honor, Atty. 1996. May I have the record please.
Diosdado Concepcion has shown to me a letter
coming from Atty. Efren A. Bugaring dated ATTY. BARZAGA: Yes, your Honor.
September 18, 1996 addressed to the Register
regarding this notice of Lis Pendens pertaining COURT: This Court would like to be enlightened
to TCT Nos. T-519248, 519249 and 519250 and with respect to that matter.
this letter request, your Honor for the annotation
of the lis pendens clearly shows that it has been ATTY. BARZAGA: Well, according to Atty.
already entered in the book of primary entry. We Diosdado Concepcion he could already explain
would like also to invite the attention of the Hon. this, your Honor.
Court that the Motion for Contempt of Court was
filed on November 6, 1996. The letter for the COURT: Have it properly addressed as part of
annotation of the lis pendens was made by the the manifestation so that this court can be
counsel for the plaintiff only on September 18, guided accordingly. Because this Court believes
1996, your Honor. However, your Honor, as that the root of the matter started from that. After
early as August 16, 1996 an Order has already the submission of the . what are you suppose to
been issued by the Hon. Court reading as submit?
follows, Wherefore in view of the above, the
motion of the defendant is GRANTED and the ATTY. BARZAGA: Comment your Honor, on the
Register of Deeds of the Province of Cavite, is motion to cite Atty. Diosdado Concepcion in
hereby directed to CANCEL the notice of lis contempt of Court.
pendens annotated at the back of Certificate of
Title Nos. 519248, 51949 (sic) and 51950 (sic). COURT: After the submission of the Comment
and furnishing a copy of the comment to the
counsel for the plaintiff, this Court is going to give
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 15

the counsel for the plaintiff an equal time within COURT: If you know your procedure then you
which to submit his reply. follow the procedure of the Court first and then
do whatever you want.
ATTY. BUGARING: Your Honor please, it is the
position of this representation your Honor ATTY. BUGARING: Yes, your Honor please,
please, that we will be marking first our because we could feel the antagonistic
documentary evidence because this is set for approach of the Court to this representation ever
hearing for today, your Honor please. since I appeared your Honor please and I put on
record that I will be filing an inhibition to this Hon.
COURT: If you are going to mark your evidence Court.
and they do not have their comment yet what are
we going to receive as evidence. COURT: Do that right away. (Banging the gavel)

ATTY. BUGARING: If your Honor please ATTY. BUGARING: Because we could not find
any sort of justice in town.
COURT: Will you listen to the Court and just do
whatever you have to do after the submission of COURT: Do that right away.
the comment.
ATTY. BUGARING: We are ready to present our
ATTY. BUGARING: I am listening, your Honor witness and we are deprive to present our
please, but the record will show that the motion witness.
for contempt was copy furnished with the
Register of Deeds and Diosdado Concepcion. COURT: You have presented a witness and it
was an adverse witness that was presented.
COURT: Precisely, if you are listening then you
will get what the Court would want to do. This ATTY. BUGARING: I did not.
should be an orderly proceedings and
considering that this is a Court of record the COURT: With respect to this, the procedure of
comment has to be in first then in your reply you the Court is for the respondent to file his
can submit your evidence to rebut the argument comment.
that is going to be put up by the respondent and
so we will be able to hear the case smoothly. ATTY. BUGARING: Well your Honor please, at
this point in time I dont want to comment on
ATTY. BUGARING: My point here your Honor anything but I reserve my right to inhibit this
please, is that the respondent had been long Honorable Court before trying this case.
time furnished of this contempt
proceedings. With a copy of the motion they COURT: You can do whatever you want.
should have filed it in due time in accordance
with the rules and because it is scheduled for ATTY. BUGARING: Yes, your Honor, that is our
trial, we are ready to mark our evidence and prerogative your Honor.
present to this Court, your Honor.
COURT: As far as this Court is concerned it is
COURT: (Banging the gavel) Will you listen. going to follow the rules.

ATTY. BUGARING: I am listening, your Honor. ATTY. BUGARING: Yes, your Honor, we know
all the rules.
COURT: And this Court declares that you are
out of order. COURT: Yes, you know your rules thats why
you are putting the cart ahead of the horse.
ATTY. BUGARING: Well, if that is the contention
of the Court your Honor please, we are all ATTY. BUGARING: No your Honor, Ive been
officers of the Court, your Honor, please, we challenged by this Court that I know better than
have also ---- and we know also our procedure, this Court. Modestly (sic) aside your Honor
your Honor.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 16

please, Ive been winning in many certiorari services of counsel and right then and there
cases, your Honor. appointed Atty. Elpidio Barzaga to represent
him, the case was allowed to be called again. On
COURT: Okay, okay, do that, do that. I am going the second call, Atty. Bugaring started to insist
to cite you for contempt of Court. (Banging the that he be allowed to mark and present his
gavel) You call the police and I am going to send documentary evidence in spite of the fact that
this lawyer in jail. (Turning to the Sheriff) Atty. Barzaga was still manifesting that he be
allowed to submit a written pleading for his client,
ATTY. BUGARING: I am just manifesting and considering that the Motion has so many
arguing in favor of my client your Honor please. ramifications and the issues are complicated.

COURT: You have been given enough time and At this point, Atty. Bugaring was insisting that he
you have been abusing the discretion of this be allowed to mark his documentary evidence
Court. and was raring to argue as in fact he was already
perorating despite the fact that Atty. Barzaga
ATTY. BUGARING: I am very sorry your Honor, has not yet finished with his manifestation. As
if that is the appreciation of the Court but this is Atty. Bugaring appears to disregard orderly
one way I am protecting my client, your Honor. procedure, the Court directed him to listen and
wait for the ruling of the Court for an orderly
COURT: That is not the way to protect your proceeding.
client that is an abuse of the discretion of this
Court. (Turning to the Sheriff) Will you see to it While claiming that he was listening, he would
that this guy is put in jail. (pp. 29-42. Rollo) speak up anytime he felt like doing so. Thus, the
Court declared him out of order, at which point,
Hence, in an Order dated December 5, 1996, Atty. Bugaring flared up and uttered words
Judge Espaol cited petitioner in direct contempt insulting the Court; such as: that he knows better
of court, thus: than the latter as he has won all his cases of
certiorari in the appellate Courts, that he knows
During the hearing of this case, plaintiffs and better the Rules of Court; that he was going to
counsel were present together with one (1) move for the inhibition of the Presiding Judge for
operating a video camera who was taking allegedly being antagonistic to his client, and
pictures of the proceedings of the case while other invectives were hurled to the discredit of
counsel, Atty. Rexie Efren Bugaring was making the Court.
manifestation to the effect that he was ready to
mark his documentary evidence pursuant to his Thus, in open court, Atty. Bugaring was declared
Motion to cite (in contempt of court) the Deputy in direct contempt and order the Courts sheriff to
Register of Deeds of Cavite, Diosdado arrest and place him under detention.
Concepcion.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing and the
The Court called the attention of said counsel fact that Atty. Rexie Efren Bugaring committed
who explained that he did not cause the an open defiance, even challenging the Court in
appearance of the cameraman to take pictures, a disrespectful, arrogant, and contumacious
however, he admitted that they came from a manner, he is declared in direct contempt of
function, and that was the reason why the said Court and is sentenced to three (3) days
cameraman was in tow with him and the imprisonment and payment of a fine
plaintiffs. Notwithstanding the flimsy explanation of P3,000.00. His detention shall commence
given, the counsel sent out the cameraman after immediately at the Municipal Jail of Imus,
the Court took exception to the fact that although Cavite.[5]
the proceedings are open to the public and that
it being a court of record, and since its Pursuant to said Order, the petitioner served his
permission was not sought, such situation was three (3) day sentence at the Imus Municipal
an abuse of discretion of the Court. Jail, and paid the fine of P3,000.00.[6]

When the respondent, Deputy Register of Deeds While serving the first day of his sentence on
Concepcion manifested that he needed the December 5, 1996, petitioner filed a motion for
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 17

reconsideration of the Order citing him in direct Petitioner insists that a careful examination of
contempt of court. The next day, December 6, the transcript of stenographic notes of the
1996, petitioner filed another motion praying for subject proceedings would reveal that the
the resolution of his motion for contempt order issued by respondent judge had
reconsideration. Both motions were never no factual and legal basis. It would also show
resolved and petitioner was released on that he was polite and respectful towards the
December 8, 1996.[7] court as he always addressed the court with the
phrase your honor please.
To clear his name in the legal circle and the
general public, petitioner filed a petition before We disagree.
the Court of Appeals praying for the annulment
of the Order dated December 5, 1996 citing him Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court as
in direct contempt of court and the amended by Administrative Circular No. 22-95
reimbursement of the fine of P3,000.00 on provides:
grounds that respondent Judge Dolores S.
Espaol had no factual and legal basis in citing Direct contempt punished summarily. - A person
him in direct contempt of court, and that said guilty of misbehavior in the presence of or so
Order was null and void for being in violation of near a court or judge as to obstruct or interrupt
the Constitution and other pertinent laws and the proceedings before the same, including
jurisprudence.[8] disrespect toward the court or judge, offensive
personalities toward others, or refusal to be
The Court of Appeals found that from a thorough sworn or to answer as a witness, or to subscribe
reading of the transcript of stenographic notes of an affidavit or deposition when lawfully required
the hearing held on December 5, 1996, it was to do so, may be summarily adjudged in
obvious that the petitioner was indeed arrogant, contempt by such court or judge and punished
at times impertinent, too argumentative, to the by a fine not exceeding two thousand pesos or
extent of being disrespectful, annoying and imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) days, or
sarcastic towards the court.[9] It affirmed the both, if it be a superior court, or a judge thereof,
order of the respondent judge, but found that the or by a fine not exceeding two hundred pesos or
fine of P3,000.00 exceeded the limit of imprisonment not exceeding one (1) day, or
P2,000.00 prescribed by the Rules of both, if it be an inferior court.
Court,[10] and ordered the excess of P1,000.00
returned to petitioner. On March 6, 1998, it We agree with the statement of the Court of
rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of Appeals that petitioners alleged deference to the
which reads: trial court in consistently addressing the
respondent judge as your Honor please
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby throughout the proceedings is belied by his
DISMISSED for lack of merit and the assailed behavior therein:
order dated December 5, 1996 issued by the trial
court is hereby AFFIRMED with the modification 1. the veiled threat to file a petition for certiorari
that the excess fine of P1,000.00 is ORDERED against the trial court (pp. 14-15, tsn, December
RETURNED to the petitioner. 5, 1996; pp. 41-42, Rollo) is contrary to Rule
11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of Professional
Before us, petitioner ascribes to the Court of Responsibility which mandates that a lawyer
Appeals this lone error: shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or
menacing language or behavior before the
THE APPELLATE COURT COMMITTED A Courts.
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AFFIRMING THE
ASSAILED ORDER OF THE TRIAL COURT 2. the hurled uncalled for accusation that the
WHICH TO PETITIONERS SUBMISSIONS respondent judge was partial in favor of the other
SMACKS OF OPPRESSION AND ABUSE OF party (pp. 13-14, tsn, December 5, 1996; pp. 40-
AUTHORITY, HENCE IT COMMITTED A 41, Rollo) is against Rule 11.04, Canon 11 of the
GRAVE ERROR OF LAW IN ITS QUESTIONED Code of Professional Responsibility which
DECISION.[11] enjoins lawyers from attributing to a judge
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 18

motives not supported by the record or have no extent of interrupting the opposing counsel and
materiality to the case. the court showed disrespect to said counsel and
the court, was defiant of the courts system for an
3. behaving without due regard to the trial courts orderly proceeding, and obstructed the
order to maintain order in the proceedings (pp. administration of justice. The power to punish for
9-13, tsn, December 5, 1996; pp. 36-40, Rollo) contempt is inherent in all courts and is essential
is in utter disregard to Canon 1 of the Canons of to the preservation of order in judicial
Professional Ethics which makes it a lawyers proceedings and to the enforcement of
duty to maintain towards the courts (1) respectful judgments, orders, and mandates of the court,
attitude in order to maintain its importance in the and consequently, to the due administration of
administration of justice, and Canon 11 of the justice.[13] Direct contempt is committed in the
Code of Professional Responsibility which presence of or so near a court or judge, as in the
mandates lawyers to observe and maintain the case at bar, and can be punished summarily
respect due to the Courts and to judicial officers without hearing.[14] Hence, petitioner cannot
and should insist on similar conduct by others. claim that there was irregularity in the actuation
of respondent judge in issuing the contempt
4. behaving without due regard or deference to order inside her chamber without giving the
his fellow counsel who at the time he was petitioner the opportunity to defend himself or
making representations in behalf of the other make an immediate reconsideration. The
party, was rudely interrupted by the petitioner records show that petitioner was cited in
and was not allowed to further put a word in contempt of court during the hearing in the sala
edgewise (pp. 7-13, tsn, December 5, 1996; pp. of respondent judge, and he even filed a motion
34-39, Rollo) is violative of Canon 8 of the Code for reconsideration of the contempt order on the
of Professional Responsibility and Canon 22 of same day.[15]
the Canons of Professional Ethics which obliges
a lawyer to conduct himself with courtesy, Petitioner argued that while it might appear that
fairness and candor toward his professional he was carried by his emotions in espousing the
colleagues, and case of his client - by persisting to have his
documentary evidence marked despite the
5. the refusal of the petitioner to allow the respondent judges contrary order - he did so in
Registrar of Deeds of the Province of Cavite, the honest belief that he was bound to protect
through counsel, to exercise his right to be heard the interest of his client to the best of his ability
(Ibid) is against Section 1 of Article III, 1997 and with utmost diligence.
Constitution on the right to due process of law,
Canon 18 of the Canons of Professional Ethics The Court of Appeals aptly stated:
which mandates a lawyer to always treat an
adverse witness with fairness and due But a lawyer should not be carried away in
consideration, and Canon 12 of Code of espousing his clients cause (Buenaseda v.
Professional Responsibility which insists on a Flavier, 226 SCRA 645, 656). He should not
lawyer to exert every effort and consider it his forget that he is an officer of the court, bound to
duty to assist in the speedy and efficient exert every effort and placed under duty, to
administration of justice. assist in the speedy and efficient administration
of justice pursuant to Canon 12, Canons of
The Court cannot therefore help but notice the Professional Responsibility (Gomez v. Presiding
sarcasm in the petitioners use of the phrase your Judge, RTC, Br. 15, Ozamis City, 249 SCRA
honor please. For, after using said phrase he 432, 439). He should not , therefore, misuse the
manifested utter disrespect to the court in his rules of procedure to defeat the ends of justice
subsequent utterances. Surely this behavior per Rule 10.03. Canon 10 of the Canons of
from an officer of the Court cannot and should Professional Responsibility, or unduly delay a
not be countenanced, if proper decorum is to be case, impede the execution of a judgment or
observed and maintained during court misuse court processes, in accordance with
proceedings.[12] Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the same Canons
(Ibid).
Indeed, the conduct of petitioner in persisting to
have his documentary evidence marked to the
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 19

Lawyers should be reminded that their primary


duty is to assist the courts in the administration
of justice. Any conduct which tends to delay,
impede or obstruct the administration of justice
contravenes such lawyers duty.[16]

Although respondent judge was justified in citing


petitioner in direct contempt of court, she erred
in imposing a fine in the amount of P3,000.00
which exceeded the ceiling of P2,000.00 under
Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 22-
95 which took effect on November 16, 1995. It
was not established that the fine was imposed in
bad faith. The Court of Appeals thus properly
ordered the return of the excess of
P1,000.00. Aside from the fine, the three days
imprisonment meted out to petitioner was
justified and within the 10-day limit prescribed
in Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, as
amended.

It is our view and we hold, therefore, that the


Court of Appeals did not commit any reversible
error in its assailed decision.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated


March 6, 1998 of the Court of Appeals is hereby
AFFIRMED. The Regional Trial Court of Cavite,
Branch 90, Imus, Cavite is ordered to return to
the petitioner, Rexie Efren A. Bugaring, the sum
of P1,000.00 out of the original fine of P3,000.00.

SO ORDERED.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 20

G.R. No. L-27662 October 29, 1968 a denial of such motion for reconsideration on
April 24, 1967, and a plea for execution on behalf
MANILA PEST CONTROL, INC., petitioner, of respondent Abitria, which was granted on
vs. June 14, 1967, the City Sheriff of Manila,
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION likewise made a respondent, levied on
COMMISSION, ATANACIO A. MARDO, as petitioner's properties on June 14, 1967, by
Chief Hearing Officer of Regional Officer of virtue of the above writ of execution.5
the Department of Labor, CITY SHERIFF OF
MANILA and MARIO ABITRIA, respondents. It is petitioner's contention that in the light of the
above alleged infringement of procedural due
Manuel A. Corpuz for petitioner. process, the actuation of respondent
Pagano C. Villavieja and Cecilia E. Curso for Commission was either in excess of its
public respondent Atanacio A. Mardo. jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.
Hector C. Regino for private respondent. That was the basis for the relief sought, seeking
a writ of preliminary injunction restraining City
FERNANDO, J.: Sheriff of Manila, from proceeding with the sale
at public auction of petitioner's properties and
This Court, in a resolution of June 21, 1967, was after hearing, annulling the aforesaid writ of
persuaded, regrettably as it turned out, to give execution and likewise all the proceedings in
due course to a certiorari and prohibition RO4-WC Case No. 5503, thereafter making the
proceeding with a plea for preliminary injunction, injunction permanent, and ordering respondent
a restraining order being issued, in view of the Abitria to pay petitioner the sum of P500.00 as
rather vehement and earnest protestations of attorney'sfees. Thus was imparted more than
petitioner Manila Pest ControI, Inc. that it was just a semblance of plausibility to the petition,
denied procedural due process. As will be more deceptive in character, as subsequent pleadings
fully explained, such is not the case at all. proved, but nonetheless insufficient to call for its
summary dismissal.
More specifically, it was alleged that on February
24, 1967, respondent Workmen's Compensation On June 21, 1967, this Court issued a resolution
Commission, through its referee, considered a to this effect: "The respondents in L-27662
complaint filed against it by the other (Manila Pest Control, Inc. vs. Workmen's
respondent, Mario Abitria, for compensation Compensation Commission, et al.) are required
submitted for decision after he and a physician to file, within 10 days from notice hereof, an
had testified, petitioner's counsel having failed to answer (not a motion to dismiss) to the petition
appear at the hearing of February 24, for prohibition; let temporary restraining order
1967.1 Then came, according to the petition, a issue, effective immediately and until further
motion for reconsideration dated March 7, 1967, orders from this Court."
petitioner praying that he be allowed to present
evidence on his behalf.2 It was denied in an The answer of respondent Workmen's
order of April 4, 1967, as a decision had already Compensation Commission of July 21, 1967 and
been rendered against petitioner, as employer, the later pleadings, revealed quite a different
awarding respondent Abitria P6,000.00 as his story. It is now quite clear that instead of being
disability compensation benefit. It was also the offended party suffering from a legitimate
pointed out in such order that there was no plea grievance, its right to due process having been
in such motion for reconsideration for such summarily disregarded, petitioner was not above
decision being set aside, as it was limited to resorting to every technicality the law affords to
seeking an opportunity to cross-examine the evade the performance of an obligation, which
witnesses. It could not be granted as the matter under the law it must fulfill, namely, to
was looked upon as "moot and academic."3 It compensate for the serious and debilitating
was then alleged in the petition that on April 11, ailment of tuberculosis acquired in the course of
1967, a motion for reconsideration of the employment by respondent Abitria. Accordingly,
aforesaid order was filed with the averment that the petition for certiorari and prohibition should
petitioner was not aware of any decision be, as it is hereby, denied.
rendered in the case as no copy of the same had
theretofore been furnished to its counsel.4 After
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 21

The facts as found by respondent Workmen's hemoptysis. The doctor testified on cross
Compensation Commission, which must be examination that the nature of work of the
deemed conclusive, can yield no other claimant involving strenuous physical exertion
conclusion but the undeniable liability for and other factors of work such as the lowering of
compensation to respondent Abitria on the part his resistance in view of the enormous inhalation
of petitioner. Thus: "From the recorded of chemical fumes also brought about the
evidence, it appears that claimant was employed aggravation of the claimant's present condition.
with the respondent since February 4, 1956, According to the claimant the respondent was
working six (6) days a week and receiving an duly notified of his illness through the general
average monthly wage of P180.00 as laborer for manager and in view of the respondent's refusal
the respondent. He was assigned in the to pay him disability compensation despite
Research Division which conducted research on repeated demands, claimant filed this instant
rat traps and other matters regarding claim."6
extermination of pests, animals and insects. It
was testified to by the claimant and his The sole issue then, as accurately set forth in the
witnesses that in the place of his employment he above decision, was "to determine in this case ...
was made to inhale dangerous fumes as the whether ... there is sufficient or substantial
atmosphere was polluted with poisonous evidence in support of the claim for disability
chemical dusts. The working condition of his compensation benefits under the Workmen's
place of work was also warm and humid in view Compensation Law. The evidence on record is
of the products being manufactured by the crystal clear that the claimant had already
respondent. He was not extended any protective substantially proven his case and all indications
device and he was also made to lift heavy point that the illness of moderately advanced,
objects in the painting and soldering. In his pulmonary tuberculosis was service connected
soldering work muriatic acid and soldering paste in view of his work as laborer involving strenuous
[were] used. Sometime in July, 1966 while the physical exertion which brought about the
claimant was soldering [he] began to experience lowering of his resistance due to the massive
symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis. Because inhalation of injurious chemical fumes to the
of his spitting of blood or hemoptysis, he went to extent that he was made an easy prey to the
consult Dr. Felix Tuazon of the Quezon Institute contraction of TB bacilli. The fact that there was
whose diagnosis was pulmonary tuberculosis, no evidence on record that claimant was sick
chronic, active moderately advanced, right: upon entrance to his employment, it is presumed
minimal, left. He was confined at the Quezon that he was normal in every respect during the
Institute under the care of Dr. Felix Tuazon. first period of his employment and the disease of
According to the attending physician, he was pulmonary tuberculosis showed only during the
admitted in the hospital ward as a hemoptic later part of his employment when he was
patient or one who is bleeding from the lungs. assigned in the research division of the
When he was admitted he was prescribed Vita respondent. The attending physician himself
K. ampules, bronocal, ablocid, duestrep stated that claimant's exposure to his work
injections and other anti-TB drugs. His clinical aggravated the illness and we believe that the
history showed that the claimant was diagnosed respondent had failed to dispute the work
with severe coughing followed by expectoration connection as there is no showing that
of fresh blood amounting to two glassful [when] claimant's ailment was due to the lowering of his
he was brought to the Philippine General resistance by causes other than the nature of his
Hospital and given injection and was X-rayed. work as laborer of the respondent."7
From that hospital he was transferred to the
Quezon Institute where he was subsequently It must be a realization that no valid defenses
admitted. The attending physician testified could be interposed that prompted petitioner to
further that the right lung had bronchogenous rely on the alleged deprivation of due process, a
lesions in the upper lobe with honeycomb at 2nd contention, which as will now be shown, is
and 3rd intercostal space, while the left lung had without basis.
fibrotic lesion behind the anterior rib II. ... He was
discharged from the Quezon Institute on The petition was so worded that the employer's
September 3, 1966, but the illness was not yet right to be heard appeared to have been
arrested although there was stopping of the disregarded. No further attention should be
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 22

accorded such an alleged grievance. If it did not Petitioner refused to receive the copy of said
introduce any evidence, it had itself solely to decision, he is now impugning the delivery of
blame. No fault could be attributed to respondent said decision to Atty. Camacho and is denying
Workmen's Compensation Commission. There knowledge of it when in fact and truth the
must be such a realization on the part of delivery of said decision to Atty. Camacho was
petitioner for its four-page memorandum made per his instruction to Mr. Guzman, as
submitted in lieu of oral argument did not bother evidenced by the attached affidavit of Mr.
to discuss such a matter at all. Accordingly, such Guzman."12
a contention need not detain us further as it
ought never to have been raised in the first In view of the rather persuasive character of
place. such an affidavit and the understandable
reflection on the actuation of counsel for
Petitioner would make much however of the petitioner, there was, as could be expected
allegation that, as shown in the answer of submitted by petitioner's counsel a rejoinder,
respondent Workmen's Compensation dated November 26, 1967. He would have this
Commission,8 the decision was sent to a certain Court believe that the reply-memorandum is
Attorney Manuel Camacho but care of contradicted by what appeared in respondents'
petitioner's counsel, Attorney Manuel Corpuz. answer, where it was stated that a copy of the
Petitioner would emphasize that the one decision was received, not by him but by the law
"officially furnished" with a copy of such decision office of a certain Attorney Camacho. He would
was not its counsel, who was without any then ask why Guzman did not serve a copy of
connection with the aforesaid Attorney the decision to him. He would even assume, for
Camacho. It would conclude, therefore, that it argument sake, that there was a refusal on his
had not received a copy of a decision which part to accept a copy of this decision, but he
could not thereafter reach the stage of finality would argue why did not Guzman, who could be
calling for a writ of execution. expected to know the duties of a service officer,
fail "to state said refusal in his official return."
This contention was squarely met in the reply-
memorandum of November 6, 1967 of the Which of the above conflicting versions is
Workmen's Compensation Commission. Why it entitled to credence? That of respondent
happened thus was explained in an affidavit of Workmen's Compensation Commission would
one of its employees, a certain Gerardo appear to be more in accordance with the
Guzman, included therein.9 As set forth in such realities of the situation. It is entitled to belief.
reply memorandum: "As stated in the affidavit of
Mr. Guzman, he went to the office of Atty. This would not be the first time, in the first place,
Corpuz, on March 10, 1967 to deliver a copy of where out of excess of zeal and out of a desire
the decision ..., but Atty. Corpuz refused to to rely on every conceivable defense that could
receive the said decision alleging that he was no delay if not defeat the satisfaction of an
longer handling the case. Atty. Corpuz, instead obligation incumbent on one's client, counsel
instructed Mr. Guzman to deliver the said would attempt to put the most favorable light on
decision to Atty. Camacho since it was already a course of conduct which certainly cannot be
Atty, Camacho who was handling the case, and given the stamp of approval. Not that it would
Atty. Camacho, according to Atty. Corpuz, even clear counsel of any further responsibility. His
had the records of the case."10 In view of such conduct leaves much to be desired. His
instruction, it was further noted, Guzman "went responsibility aside, it made evident why, to
the office of Atty. Camacho, but since Atty. repeat the effort to evade liability by petitioner by
Camacho was not around he handed the copy of invoking the due process guaranty must not be
the decision to the receiving clerk therein, who rewarded with success.
received it as evidenced by the stamp pad
bearing the name of the Law Office of Camacho, Under the above circumstances, no due process
Zapa, Andaya & Associates on the attached true question arose. What was done satisfied such a
copy of the Notice of Decision, ..."11 constitutional requirement. An effort was made
to serve petitioner with a copy of the decision;
From which it could make the apt observation. "It that such effort failed was attributable to the
is indeed sad to note that after the Counsel for conduct of its own counsel. True, there was a
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 23

denial; it is far from persuasive, as already similarly situated are impressive for their number
noted. It does not have the ring of truth. There is and unanimity.13
no reason why the decision would have been
served on some other counsel if there where no It would thus be grimly ironic if the due process
such misinformation, if there where no such concept, in itself an assurance and a guaranty of
attempt to mislead. justice and fairness, would be the very vehicle to
visit on a hapless and impoverished litigant
No benefit would have accrued to respondent injustice and unfairness. The law itself would
Workmen's Compensation Commission. It was stand in disrepute, if such a gross perversion of
merely performing its official function. Certainly, its dictates were allowed. Any other view is
it could be expected to see to it that the law's unthinkable. Otherwise, there would be a
beneficiaries were not inconvenienced, much stultification of all our efforts to promote social
less frustrated, by its failure to follow the regular justice14 and a mockery of the constitutional
procedure prescribed. It was unlikely that the ideal of protection to labor.15
employee entrusted with serving a copy of the
decision, in this particular case, and in this Considering the above, it is not enough that
particular case alone, would depart so radically petitioner be required to pay forthwith the sum
from what the law requires, if there were no such due respondent Abitria. The unseemly conduct,
intervening cause that resulted in his going under the above circumstances disclosed, of
astray. How could petitioner escape petitioner's counsel, Attorney Manuel A. Corpuz
responsibility? calls for words of reproof.

Petitioner, and petitioner alone, could be It is one thing to exert to the utmost one's ability
expected to furnish such a cause. Who would to protect the interest of one's client. It is quite
benefit thereby? The answer cannot be in doubt. another thing, and this is to put it at its mildest,
Through such circumstance, wether intended or to take advantage of any unforeseen turn of
otherwise, a basis was laid for at least a delay of events, if not to create one, to delay if not to
the fulfillment of a just claim. For it is to be noted defeat the recovery of what is justly due and
that there is no, as there could not be any, valid demandable, especially so, when as in this case,
ground for denying compensation to respondent the obligee is a necessitous and poverty-stricken
Abitria on the facts as found. Considering how man suffering from a dreaded disease, that
great and pressing the laborer's need for the unfortunately afflicts so many of our countrymen
compensation due him was and the consequent and even more unfortunately requires an outlay
temptation to settle for less if in the meanwhile, far beyond the means of our poverty stricken
the money he had the right to expect, was not masses.
forthcoming, petitioner, as the employer liable,
had everything to gain and nothing to lose by The ancient and learned profession of the law
such a turn of events. Even if it were an honest stresses fairness and honor; that must ever be
mistake, the consequences were still deplorable. kept in mind by everyone who is enrolled in its
ranks and who expects to remain a member in
It is quite revealing that in not one of the good standing. This Tribunal is rightfully
pleadings filed by petitioner did it ever indicate entrusted with the serious responsibility of
how it could validly avoid its liability under the seeing to it that no deviation from such a norm
Workmen's Compensation Commission which should be countenanced. If what occurred here
disclosed that the ailment suffered by would not be characterized for the shocking
respondent Abitria while in its employment was thing it was, then it could be said that the law is
indeed compensable. Neither in its less than fair and far from honorable. What
memorandum submitted on October 19, 1967 happens then to the ideal that only he is fit to
nor rejoinder of November 21, 1967, did it ever belong to such a profession who remains a
occur to petitioner to allege that if given the faithful votary at the altar of justice? Such an
opportunity for hearing it could interpose a ideal may be difficult to approximate. That is
plausible, not to say a valid defense. It did not do true, but let it not be said that when such a
so because it could not do so. Our decisions as notorious breach of its lofty standard took place,
to the undeniable liability of an employer as unfortunately it did in this case, this Court
exhibited magnificent unconcern.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 24

WHEREFORE, this petition for certiorari and


prohibition with preliminary injunction is denied.
With treble costs against petitioner to be paid by
his counsel, Attorney Manuel A. Corpuz.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 25

[A.C. No. 6289. December 16, 2004] B. Payment of Fees is on contingent basis. No
acceptance fees, appearance and liaison fees;
JULIAN MALONSO, complainant, vs. ATTY.
PETE PRINCIPE, respondent. C. The legal fees or payment to FIRST PARTY:

DECISION 1. Forty (40%) Percent of the selling price


between NAPOCOR and the SANDAMA
TINGA, J.: members; this forty (40%) [percent] is the
maximum rate and may be negotiated
The duty of courts is not alone to see that depending on the volume of work involved;
lawyers act in a proper and lawful manner; it is
also their duty to see that lawyers are paid their 2. Legal Fees as stated above shall cover:
just and lawful fees. Certainly, no one, not even
the Court can deny them that right; there is no i.) Attorneys Fees of FIRST PARTY;
law that authorizes them to do so.[1]
ii.) His representation expenses and
In a Complaint[2] for disbarment dated 6 June commitment expenses;
2001 filed before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), Julian Malonso claimed that iii.) Miscellaneous Expenses, etc.
Atty. Pete Principe, without any authority
entered his appearance as Malonsos counsel in D. Both parties agree to exert their best efforts
the expropriation proceedings initiated by the to increase or secure the best price from
National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR). In NAPOCOR.
addition, he complained that Atty. Principe, after
illegally representing him in the said case, Respondent claimed that complainant Malonso
claimed forty (40%) of the selling price of his land is a member of SANDAMA and that said
to the NAPOCOR by way of attorneys fees and, member executed a special power of
further, in a Motion to Intervene, claimed to be a attorney[6] in favor of Elfa, which served as the
co-owner of Malonsos property.[3] latters authority to act in behalf of Malonso. In
the document, Malonso authorized Elfa in the
In his Answer,[4] respondent replied that the following manner:
services of his law office, Principe Villano
Villacorta and Clemente Law Offices, was Ako, si JULIAN M. MALONSO, nasa hustong
engaged by Samahan ng mga Dadaanan at gulang, may asawa, Pilipino at naninirahan sa
Maapektuhan ng NAPOCOR, Inc. (SANDAMA), 92 New York St. Cubao, Q.C., sa pamamagitan
through its President, Danilo Elfa, as embodied nito ay ITINATALAGA at BINIBIGYANG
in the Contract of Legal Services executed on 01 KAPANGYARIHAN si G. DANILO V. ELFA,
April 1997.[5] The Contract states in part: nasa hustong gulang, may asawa, Pilipino at
naninirahan sa 038 Dulong Bayan, San Jose del
The parties mutually agree one with the other as Monte, Bulacan, upang gumanap at umakda
follows: para sa akin/amin upang gumawa tulad ng mga
sumusunod:
I. SECOND PARTY engages the services of the
FIRST PARTY as their lawyer of the collection, 1. PANGASIWAAN, ISAAYOS at
claim, and/ or payment of just compensation of MAKIPAGKASUNDO (negotiate) para sa
its members with the NAPOCOR; pagbebenta ng akin/aming lupa, sa National
Power Corp. (NAPOCOR), na may Titulo Bilang
II. FIRST PARTY accepts the engagement; both T-229122, na nasasakupan ng Dulong Bayan,
parties further agree on the following conditions: San Jose del Monte, Bulacan;

A. Scope of Work - negotiation, legal 2. TUMAYONG KINATAWAN O


documentation, attendance to court proceedings REPRESENTANTE ko/naming saan man at ano
and other related activities; man maging sa hukuman o alin man sa mga
opisinang may kinalaman hinggil sa aming
nabanggit na pagbebenta ng akin/aming lupa;
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 26

3. TUMANGGAP AT MAGSUMITE ng mga proceedings against several lot owners in


papeles na nauukol sa lupang nabanggit sa Bulacan including the complainant in this case.
Bilang 1;
On April 1, 1997, a Contract of Legal Services
4. GUMANAP ng ano man sa inaakala ni G. was entered into between the law firm Principe
DANILO V. ELFA na nararapat, matuwid at Villano and Clemente Law Offices and
makabubuti para sa nabanggit sa Bilang 1; SANDAMA, Inc. (Samahan ng mga Dadaanan
at Maapektuhan ng National Power Corporation)
5. NA sa pamamagitan ng kasunduan at represented by its President Danilo V. Elfa.
kapasyahang ito ay binibigyan ng karapatan at SANDAMA is the organization of lot owners
kapangyarihang lumagda sa lahat ng affected by the expropriation proceedings.
papeles/dokumento si G. Danilo V. Elfa, ngunit Complainant is a member of this organization.
sa isang pasubali na HINDI KAILAN MAN SIYA
DAPAT AT WALA SIYANG KARAPATANG On November 27, 1997, complainant executed
LUMAGDA S GANAP NA BENTAHAN a Kasulatan ng Pagbibigay Kapangyarihan in
(ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE). favor of Danilo Elfa appointing the latter as the
attorney-in-fact of the complainant on the matter
DITOY AKING IGINAGAWAD sa naturan of negotiation with the NPC.
naming kinatawan ang lahat ng karapatang
kumilos at magsagawa upang isakatuparan ang On December 21, 1999, NPCs Board of
kapangyarihang magbili sa bisa ng karapatang Directors approved the amicable settlement of
dito ay iginagawad sa kanya nang kahalintulad the expropriation cases by paying all the lot
nang kung kami, sa ganang aming sarili ang owners the total of One Hundred Three Million
mismong nagsasagawa, at ditoy AMING Four Hundred Thirteen Thousand Two
PINAGTITIBAY ang lahat ng kanyang gawin na Hundred Pesos (P103,413,200.00).
nasa aming naman ang lubos na karapatang
siya ay palitan o bawiin ang Gawad na More that two (2) years after the expropriation
Karapatang ito. cases were instituted and while complainant was
represented therein by Atty. Benjamin Mendoza,
In his Reply,[7] Malonso reiterated that he did not or on January 18, 2000, respondent filed an Ex-
authorize Elfa to act in his behalf, considering Parte Motion to Separate Legal Fees From
that while the Contract of Legal Selling Price Between Plaintiffs and Defendants.
Services entered into by Atty. Principe and Elfa
was dated 01 April 1997, the special power of About ten days after respondent filed his motion
attorney he executed bore a much later date, 27 to separate legal fees, respondent filed his
November 1997. Moreover, he could not have Notice of Entry of Appearance (dated January
authorized Elfa to hire a lawyer in his behalf 28, 2000) claiming that respondent is the legal
since he already had his own lawyer in the counsel of the complainant, a defendant in said
person of Atty. Benjamin Mendoza. case.

To counter this argument, Atty. Principe On February 12, 2000, Sixty Nine (69) lot owners
commented that the agreement entered into by including the complainant wrote a letter to NPC
SANDAMA and his law firm is a continuing one informing the latter that they have never
and hence, Malonso was within the coverage of authorized Mr. Danilo Elfa to hire the services of
the contract even if he executed the special the respondents law firm to represent them in the
power of attorney on a later date. Likewise, as a expropriation cases.
member of SANDAMA, Malonso is bound to
honor the organizations commitments.[8] On February 17, 2000, complainant filed an
Opposition to respondents entry of appearance
The Court adopts the chronological order of and motion to separate legal fees.
events as found by the IBP Investigating
Commissioner, Julio C. Elamparo: On March 7, 2000, respondent filed a Notice of
Attorneys Lien claiming 40% of the selling price
In the early part of 1997, National Power Corp. of the properties being expropriated by NPC.
(NPC for brevity) instituted expropriation
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 27

On April 10, 2000, respondent filed a Notice of and the other lot owners legal counsel in the face
Adverse Claim before the Register of Deeds of of the latters opposition, Atty. Principe was found
Bulacan claiming 40% of the rights, title and to be guilty of gross or serious misconduct.
interest of the lot owners over their lots being Likewise, his act of falsely claiming to be the co-
expropriated including that of complainant. owner of properties being expropriated and his
filing of several actions to frustrate the
On November 20, 2000, respondent herein filed implementation of the decision approving the
a Motion for Leave to Intervene in the compromise agreement make his conduct
expropriation case claiming to be a co-owner of constitutive of malpractice. The Report
the property being expropriated. recommended the penalty of two (2) years
suspension from the practice of law. [12]
On February 26, 2001, respondent filed an
Opposition to the Compromise Agreement In its Resolution[13] dated 25 October 2003, the
submitted by the lot owners and NPC for court IBP Board of Governors ordained:
approval.
RESOLUTION NO. XVI-2003-241
Because of the actions taken by the respondent,
the execution of the decision approving the CBD Case No. 01-848
compromise agreement between the lot owners
and the NPC was delayed.[9] Julian Malonso v.

The Report found that the Contract of Legal Atty. Pete Principe
Services is between SANDAMA, a corporate
being, and respondents law firm. SANDAMA is RESOLVED to ADOPT AND APPROVE, as it is
not a party in all of the expropriation proceedings hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report
instituted by NAPOCOR, neither does it claim and Recommendation of the Investigating
co-ownership of the properties being Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein
expropriated. Furthermore, the power of made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex
attorney was executed by Malonso in favor of A; and, finding the recommendation fully
Elfa and not SANDAMA, and that said power of supported by the evidence on record and the
attorney was executed after SANDAMA entered applicable laws and rules, with
into the Contract of Legal Services. Thus, the modification, and considering respondents
Report concluded that the right of co-ownership violation of Rule 3.01 of Canon 3, Rule 10.01 of
could not be derived from the said documents.[10] Canon 10 and Rule 12.04 of Canon 12 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Pedro
Likewise, the Report noted that the right of legal Principe is hereby SUSPENDED from the
representation could not be derived from the practice of law for one (1) year.
above-mentioned documents. A contract for
legal services between a lawyer and his client is In his Appeal Memorandum,[14] respondent
personal in nature and cannot be performed claims that the Resolution No. XVI-2003-241
through intermediaries. Even Elfa, the attorney- has no factual and legal basis, the complaint
in-fact of Malonso, was never authorized to having been motivated by pure selfishness and
engage legal counsels to represent the former in greed, and the Resolution itself invalid for having
the expropriation proceedings. Moreover, failed to comply with Rule 139-B of the Rules of
SANDAMA is not a party litigant in the Court.[15] According to the respondent, the
expropriation proceedings and thus Atty. Investigating Commissioner continued to
Principe has no basis to interfere in the court investigate the instant case despite the lapse of
proceeding involving its members. three months provided under Section 8 of Rule
139-B, without any extension granted by the
The Investigating Commissioner concluded that Supreme Court.[16] Moreover, in the subsequent
from the evidence presented by both parties, review made by the IBP Board of Governors, no
Atty. Principe was guilty of misrepresentation. actual voting took place but a mere consensus,
Atty. Principe was found to have violated Canon and the required number of votes provided by
3, Rule 3.01, Canon 10, Rule 10.01 and Rule the Rules was not secured considering that
12.04.[11] In representing himself as Malonsos there were only five (5) governors
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 28

present.[17] Respondent opines that the actions This Court underscores the procedural
of the IBP Board were aimed at preventing him transgression incurred by the IBP Board when it
from pursuing his known intention to run for IBP issued Resolution No. XVI-2003-241 which was
National President.[18] reached through a mere consensus, and not
through a formal voting, with the required
We find for the respondent. number of votes not secured. As to the issue of
the protracted investigation without the requisite
It is the duty of the Supreme Court to see to it permission from the Supreme Court to extend
that a lawyer accounts for his behavior towards the investigation period, we agree with
the court, his client, his peers in the profession respondent that no such request was made to
and the public. However, the duty of the Court is this Court.
not limited to disciplining those guilty of
misconduct, but also to protecting the reputation The pertinent provisions of Rule 139-B read:
of those wrongfully charged, much more, those
wrongfully found guilty. Sec. 8. Investigation. Upon joinder of issues or
upon failure of the respondent to answer, the
On the other hand, the IBP is aimed towards the Investigator shall, with deliberate speed,
elevation of the standards of the law profession, proceed with the investigation of the case. He
the improvement of the administration of justice, shall have the power to issue subpoenas and
and the enabling of the Bar to discharge its administer oaths. The respondent shall be given
public responsibility more effectively.[19] Despite full opportunity to defend himself, to present
its duty to police the ranks, the IBP is not exempt witnesses on his behalf, and be heard by himself
from the duty to promote respect for the law and and counsel. However, if upon reasonable
legal processes and to abstain from activities notice, the respondent fails to appear, the
aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening investigation shall proceed ex parte.
confidence in the legal system.[20] Respect for
law is gravely eroded when lawyers themselves, The Investigator shall terminate the investigation
who are supposed to be minions of the law, within three (3) months from the date of its
engage in unlawful practices and cavalierly commencement, unless extended for good
brush aside the very rules formulated for their cause by the Board of Governors upon prior
observance.[21] For the very same reasons, the application.
Court cannot accept the explanation[22] of Atty.
Carlos L. Valdez, Jr. on the non-holding of a ...
formal voting for respondents case that:
Sec. 12. Review and decision by the Board of
Eventually, the Board reached a consensus to Governors. (a)
reduce the recommended penalty from two
years to one year suspension. Since there was (b) If the Board, by the vote of a majority of its
already a consensus, the Board did not hold a total membership, determines that the
formal voting. A formal voting became respondent should be suspended from the
unnecessary inasmuch as it was obvious that practice of law or disbarred, it shall issue a
the decision of the Board became unanimous. resolution setting forth its findings and
recommendations which, together with the
I assure the Honorable Justices of the Supreme whole record of the case, shall forthwith be
Court that due process was observed and the transmitted to the Supreme Court for final action.
Rules governing the Disbarment and Discipline
of Attorneys were faithfully observed and Relevantly, Sec. 6, Rule 139-A of the Rules of
complied with by the IBP Board of Governors. Court provides in part:

The procedures outlined by the Rules are meant Sec. 6. Board of Governors. the Integrated Bar
to ensure that the innocents are spared from the shall be governed by a Board of Governors. Nine
wrongful condemnation and that only the guilty Governors shall be elected by the House of
are meted out their just due. These rules cannot Delegates from the nine Regions on the
be taken lightly.[23] representation basis of one Governor from each
Region.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 29

The Board shall meet regularly once every three parties.[27] In view of the delay in resolving the
months, on such date and at such time and place instant complaint against the respondent, and in
as it shall designate. A majority of all the the interest of justice and speedy disposition of
members of the Board shall constitute a quorum cases, the Court opts to resolve the same based
to do business. on the records before it.[28]

From these provisions, it is clear that before a Before delving at length on the merits of the
lawyer may be suspended from the practice of other aspect of the present proceedings, there is
law by the IBP, there should be (1) a review of need to dwell first on a dimension of
the investigators report; (2) a formal voting; and expropriation proceedings which is uniquely its
(3) a vote of at least five (5) members of the own.
Board. The rationale for this rule is simple: a
decision reached by the Board in compliance There are two stages in every action for
with the procedure is the official decision of the expropriation. The first is concerned with the
Board as a body and not merely as the collective determination by the courts of the authority of the
view of the individual members thereof. This is in plaintiff to exercise the power of eminent domain
keeping with the very nature of a collegial body and the propriety of its exercise in the context of
which arrives at its decisions only after the facts involved in the suit. The second phase
deliberation, the exchange of views and ideas, is concerned with the determination by the court,
and the concurrence of the required majority with the assistance of commissioners, of the just
vote.[24] Thus, the vote of the majority would be compensation for the property sought to be
necessary for the validity of the Boards taken which relates to the valuation thereof. The
resolution. Without a vote having been taken, order fixing the just compensation on the basis
Resolution No. XVI-2003-241 (CBD Case No. of the evidence before, and findings of, the
01-848) is void and has no effect. commissioners would be final and would
dispose of the second stage of the suit, leaving
The Court views with disapproval the fashion by nothing more to be done by the Court regarding
which the IBP Board of Governors, with a fellow the issue.[29] During this stage, the main bone of
lawyer and fellow governors reputation and good contention is the valuation of the property
name at stake, cavalierly brushed aside the concerned.
procedural rules outlined no less by this Court
for the discipline and protection of its members. The second stage which involves the issue of
The IBP, more than anyone, knows that the just compensation is as important, if not more,
success of a lawyer in his profession depends than the first stage which refers to the issue of
almost entirely on his reputation. Anything, public purpose. But as it frequently happens, as
which will harm his good name, is to be in this case, the public purpose dimension is not
deplored.[25] And yet the IBP Board of as fiercely contested. Moreover, in their quest to
Governors, despite clear evidence to the secure what they believe to be the fair
contrary, and without any remorse, even compensation of their property, the owners seek
asserted that due process was observed and the inroads to the leverages of executive power
Rules governing the Disbarment and Discipline where compensation compromises are
of Attorneys were faithfully observed and commenced and given imprimatur. In this
complied. dimension, the services of lawyers different from
the ordinary litigator may prove to be handy or
Normally, non-compliance with the procedural even necessary. Negotiations are mostly out of
rules would result in the remand of the court and relies, for most part, on the sagacity,
case.[26] However, on many occasions, the persuasion, patience, persistence and
Court, in the public interest and the expeditious resourcefulness of the negotiator.
administration of justice, has resolved actions on
the merits instead of remanding them for further In the instant case, the trial court had already
proceedings, such as where the ends of justice ruled on the valuation of the properties subject
would not be subserved by the remand of the of the expropriation, the same order which is
case, or when public interest demands an early subject of the appeal filed by the NAPOCOR.
disposition of the case, or where the trial court Aware that it might take a long time before the
had already received all the evidence of the said appeal is finally resolved, and in view of the
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 30

delay in the adjudication of the case, the Third, the contract for legal services clearly
landowners and NAPOCOR negotiated for a indicated a contingent fee of forty percent (40%)
compromise agreement. To assist them, the of the selling price of the lands to be
landowners, through SANDAMA and its expropriated, the same amount which was
president, Danilo Elfa, engaged the services of reflected in the deed of assignment made by the
a lawyer in the person of respondent. It is clear individual members of SANDAMA. Respondent
that respondent was hired precisely for the could have easily and naturally assumed that the
negotiation phase of the case. same figure assigned to SANDAMA was the
same amount earmarked for its legal services as
Now, on to the merits. indicated in their service contract. Being a non-
stock, non-profit corporation, where else would
As a legal entity, a corporation has a personality SANDAMA get the funds to pay for the legal fees
distinct and separate from its individual due to respondent and his firm but from the
stockholders or members and from that of its contribution of its members.
officers who manage and run its affairs.[30] The
rule is that obligations incurred by the Lastly, respondents legal services were
corporation, acting through its directors, officers disengaged by SANDAMAs new President
and employees, are its sole liabilities.[31] Thus, Yolanda Bautista around the same time when
property belonging to a corporation cannot be the SANDAMA members abandoned and
attached to satisfy the debt of a stockholder and disauthorized former SANDAMA president Elfa,
vice versa, the latter having only an indirect just when the negotiations bore fruit. With all
interest in the assets and business of the these circumstances, respondent, rightly or
former.[32] Thus, as summed by the IBP wrongly, perceived that he was also about to be
investigator, respondent is the lawyer of deprived of his lawful compensation for the
SANDAMA, but SANDAMA is not a party litigant services he and his firm rendered to SANDAMA
in all of the expropriation cases; thus respondent and its members. With the prevailing attitude of
had no basis to interfere in the court proceedings the SANDAMA officers and members,
involving the members. But things are not as respondent saw the immediate need to protect
simple as that. his interests in the individual properties of the
landowners. The hairline distinction between
A review of the records reveals that respondent SANDAMA and its individual members interests
had grounds to believe that he can intervene and and properties, flowing as it does from a legal
claim from the individual landowners. For one, fiction which has evolved as a mechanism to
the incorporation of the landowners into promote business intercourse but not as an
SANDAMA was made and initiated by instrument of injustice, is simply too tenuous,
respondents firm so as to make negotiations impractical and even unfair in view of the
with NAPOCOR easier and more organized. circumstances.
SANDAMA was a non-stock, non-profit
corporation aimed towards the promotion of the Thus, the Court cannot hold respondent guilty of
landowners common interest. It presented a censurable conduct or practice justifying the
unified front which was far easier to manage and penalty recommended. While filing the claim for
represent than the individual owners. In effect, attorneys fees against the individual members
respondent still dealt with the members, albeit in may not be the proper remedy for respondent,
a collective manner. the Court believes that he instituted the same out
of his honest belief that it was the best way to
Second, respondent relied on the representation protect his interests. After all, SANDAMA
of Danilo Elfa, former SANDAMA president and procured his firms services and was led to
attorney-in-fact of the members, with whom he believe that he would be paid for the same.
entered into a contract for legal services. There is evidence which tend to show that
Respondent could not have doubted the respondent and his firm rendered legal and even
authority of Elfa to contract his firms services. extra-legal services in order to assist the
After all, Elfa was armed with a Board Resolution landowners get a favorable valuation of their
from SANDAMA, and more importantly, properties. They facilitated the incorporation of
individual grants of authority from the the landowners to expedite the negotiations
SANDAMA members, including Malonso. between the owners, the appraisers, and
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 31

NAPOCOR. They sought the assistance of The fact that the contract stipulates a maximum
several political personalities to get some of forty percent (40%) contingent fees does not
leverage in their bargaining with NAPOCOR. make the contract illegal or unacceptable.
Suddenly, just after concluding the compromise Contingent fees are not per se prohibited by law.
price with NAPOCOR and before the Its validity depends, in large measure, upon the
presentation of the compromise agreement for reasonableness of the amount fixed as
the courts approval, SANDAMA disengaged the contingent fee under the circumstances of the
services of respondents law firm. case.[38] Nevertheless, when it is shown that a
contract for a contingent fee was obtained by
With the validity of its contract for services and undue influence exercised by the attorney upon
its authority disputed, and having rendered legal his client or by any fraud or imposition, or that
service for years without having received the compensation is clearly excessive, the Court
anything in return, and with the prospect of not must, and will protect the aggrieved party.[39]
getting any compensation for all the services it
has rendered to SANDAMA and its members, WHEREFORE, this case is DISMISSED and
respondent and his law firm auspiciously moved considered CLOSED. The Integrated Bar of the
to protect their interests. They may have been Philippines is enjoined to comply with the
mistaken in the remedy they sought, but the procedure outlined in Rule 139-B in all cases
mistake was made in good faith. Indeed, while involving the disbarment and discipline of
the practice of law is not a business venture, a attorneys.
lawyer nevertheless is entitled to be duly
compensated for professional services SO ORDERED.
rendered.[33] It is but natural that he protect his
interest, most especially when his fee is on a
contingent basis.[34]

Respondent was disengaged by SANDAMA


after a compromise agreement was entered into
by the lot owners and NAPOCOR.[35] Its motions
for separate legal fees as well as for intervention
were dismissed by the trial court. Prescinding
from the ultimate outcome of an independent
action to recover attorneys fees, the Court does
not see any obstacle to respondent filing such
action against SANDAMA or any of its members.
Any counsel, worthy of his hire, is entitled to be
fully recompensed for his services.[36] Such
independent action may be the proper venue to
show entitlement to the attorneys fees he is
claiming, and for his client to refute the
same. [37] If respondent could resort to such
separate action which obviously is more
cumbersome and portends to be more
protracted, there is similarly no rhyme or reason
to preclude him from filing mere motions such as
the ones he resorted to for the purpose of
providing what he perceives to be his legitimate
claim. The bottom line is that respondent is not
proscribed from seeking recovery of attorneys
fees for the services he and his firm rendered to
SANDAMA and its members. As to whether he
would succeed in the quest, that is another story
which obviously does not have to be resolved in
this case.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 32

Rule 12. 05 - Rule 12.07: PROPER date of dismissal until actual reinstatement
BEHAVIOR; LAWYER SHALL NOT computed as follows:
HARASS WITNESS
3. CRISANTO CONOS
A.C. No. 7062 September 26, 2006
Backwages:
[Formerly CBD Case No. 04-1355]
Basic Wage:
RENERIO SAMBAJON, RONALD 2/21/98 – 10/30/99 = 20.30
SAMBAJON, CRISANTO CONOS, and mos.
FREDILYN BACULBAS, complainants, P198.00 x 26 days x 20.30 = P104, 504.40
vs. 10/31/99 - 10/31/00 = 12
ATTY. JOSE A. SUING, respondent. mos.
P223.50 x 26 days x 12 = 69, 732.00
DECISION
11/01/00 - 8/30/01 = 10
CARPIO MORALES, J.: mos.
P250.00 x 26 days x 10 = 65,000.00
Complainants, via a complaint1 filed before the P239,236.40
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), have 13th Month Pay:
sought the disbarment of Atty. Jose A. Suing 1/12 of P239,236.40 = 19,936.36
(respondent) on the grounds of deceit,
malpractice, violation of Lawyer's Oath and the SILP
Code of Professional Responsibility.2 2/16/98 - 12/31/98
= 10.33 mos.
Herein complainants were among the P198.00 x 5 days
complainants in NLRC Case No. 00-0403180- x 10.33/ 12 = 852.22
98, "Microplast, Inc. Workers Union, 1/1/99 - 12/31/99
Represented by its Union President Zoilo Ardan, = 12mos.
et al. v. Microplast, Incorporated and/or Johnny P223.50 x 5 days
Rodil and Manuel Rodil," for Unfair Labor x 12/12 = 1,117.50
Practice (ULP) and Illegal Dismissal, while
1/1/00 - 10/30/01
respondent was the counsel for the therein
= 20 mos.
respondents. Said case was consolidated with
P250.00 x 5 days
NLRC Case No. 00-04-03161-98, "Microplast
x 20/12 = 2,083.33 4,053.05
Incorporated v. Vilma Ardan, et al.," for Illegal
Strike. P263,225.81
xxxx
By Decision of August 29, 2001,3 Labor Arbiter
7. RONALD SAMBAJON
Ariel Cadiente Santos dismissed the Illegal
(same as Conos) 263,225.81
Strike case, and declared the employer-clients
of respondent guilty of ULP. Thus, the Labor 8.FREDELYN BACULBAS
Arbiter disposed: (same as Conos) 263,225.81
9. RENEIRO SAMBAJON
WHEREFORE, premises considered, (same as Conos) 263,225.81
the complaint for illegal strike is dismissed for
Total Backwages P2,370,674.38
lack of merit.
Respondents are jointly and severally liable to
Respondents Microplast, Inc., Johnny Rodil and pay the above-mentioned backwages including
Manuel Rodil are hereby declared guilty of the various monetary claims stated in the
Unfair Labor Practice for union busting and that Manifestation dated August 24, 1998 except
the dismissal of the nine (9) complainants are payment of overtime pay and to pay 10%
declared illegal. All the respondents in NLRC attorney's fees of all sums owing to
Case No. 00-04-03161-98 for illegal dismissal complainants.4 (Emphasis and underscoring
are directed to reinstate all the complainants to supplied)
their former position with full backwages from
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 33

The Decision having become final and Mindful of the fact that the present proceedings
executory, the Labor Arbiter issued on involve, on the one hand, the right of a litigant to
September 2, 2003 a Writ of Execution.5 seek redress against a member of the Bar who
has, allegedly caused him damaged, either
In the meantime, on the basis of individual through malice or negligence, while in the
Release Waiver and Quitclaims dated February performance of his duties as his counsel, and,
27, 2004 purportedly signed and sworn to by on the other, the right of that member of the Bar
seven of the complainants in the ULP and Illegal to protect and preserve his good name and
Dismissal case before Labor Arbiter Santos in reputation, we have again gone over and
the presence of respondent, the Labor Arbiter considered [the] aspects of the case.
dismissed said case insofar as the seven
complainants were concerned, by Order dated All the cases protesting and contesting the
March 9, 2004. 6 genuineness, veracity and due execution of the
questioned RELEASE WAIVER AND
Herein complainants, four of the seven who QUITCLAIM namely: Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to
purportedly executed the Release Waiver and Recall, Appeal and Falsification are PENDING
Quitclaims, denied having signed and sworn to resolution in their respective venues. Arbiter
before the Labor Arbiter the said documents or Ariel Cadiente Santos, who was supposed to
having received the considerations therefor. know the identities of the herein complainants is
Hence, spawned the administrative complaint at not impleaded by the complainants when it was
bar, alleging that respondent, acting in collusion his solemn duty and obligation to ascertain true
with his clients Johnny and Manuel Rodil, and real identities of person executing Release
"frustrated" the implementation of the Writ of Waiver with Quitclaim.
Execution by presenting before the Labor Arbiter
the spurious documents. The old adage that in the performance of an
official duty there is that presumption of
In a related move, complainants also filed a regularity unless proven otherwise, such was
criminal complaint for Falsification against proven in the January 28, 2005 clarificatory
respondent, together with his clients Johnny and questioning . . . :
Manuel Rodil, before the Prosecutor's Office of
Quezon City where it was docketed as I.S. No. xxxx
04-5203.7
. . . In the case at bar, the question of whether or
In his Report and Recommendation8 dated not respondent actually committed the
September 27, 2005, IBP Commissioner despicable act would seem to be fairly debatable
Salvador B. Hababag, who conducted an under the circumstances.9 (Emphasis and
investigation of the administrative complaint at underscoring supplied)
bar, recommended that respondent be faulted
for negligence and that he be reprimanded The Board of Governors of the IBP, by
therefor with warning, in light of his following Resolution No. XVII-2005-226, approved and
discussion: adopted the Report and Recommendation of
Commissioner Hababag.
The issue to be resolved is whether or not
respondent can be disbarred for his alleged After the records of the case were forwarded to
manipulation of four alleged RELEASE WAIVER the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC), the
AND QUITCLAIM by herein complainants who Director for Bar Discipline of the
subsequently disclaimed the same as bogus and IBP10 transmitted additional records including
falsified. a Motion to Amend the Resolution No. XVII-
2005-22611 filed by respondent.
A lawyer takes an oath when he is admitted to
the Bar. By doing so he thereby becomes an One of the complainants, Renerio Sambajon
Officer of the Court on whose shoulders rests the (Sambajon), by Petition12 filed before the OBC,
grave responsibility of assisting the courts in the assailed the IBP Board Resolution. The Petition
proper, fair, speedy and efficient administration was filed three days after the 15-day period to
of justice. assail the IBP Resolution. Sambajon explains
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 34

that while his counsel received the Resolution on I did not do that anymore, Your Honor, because
February 27, 2006, he only learned of it when he there was already as you call it before a
visited on March 16, 2006 his counsel who could precedent in February of 1998 when my client
not reach him, he (Sambajon) having transferred directly made settlement to the nine or eight of
from one residence to another. the seventeen original complainants, Your
Honor, and I did not participate. Hindi po ako
Giving Sambajon the benefit of the doubt behind nakialam don sa kanilang usapan because it is
the reason for the 3-day delay in filing the my belief that the best way, Your Honor, to have
present petition, in the interest of justice, this a dispute settled between the parties is that we
Court gives his petition due course. let them do the discussion, we'll let them do the
settlement because sometimes you know, Your
In respondent's Motion to Amend the IBP Board Honor, sad to say, when lawyers are involved in
Resolution, he does not deny that those whom a matters [sic] of settlement the dispute does not
he met face to face before Commissioner terminate as in this case, Your Honor.
Hababag were not the same persons whom he
saw before Labor Arbiter Santos on February xxxx
27, 2004. 13 He hastens to add though that he
was not familiar with the complainants as they COMM. HABABAG:
were not attending the hearings before Arbiter
Santos.14 Complainants15 and their former Yes. What made you appear on said date and
counsel Atty. Rodolfo Capocyan claim 16
time before Arbiter Santos?
otherwise, however. And the Minutes17 of the
proceedings before the National Conciliation ATTY. SUING:
Mediation Board in a related case, NCMB-NCR-
NS-02-081-98, "Re: Microplast, Inc., Labor I was called by my client to go to the office of
Dispute," which minutes bear respondent's and Arbiter Santos, number one, to witness the
complainants' signatures, belie respondent's signing of the documents of Quitclaim and
claim that he had not met complainants before. Waiver; number 2, so that according to them
someone as a lawyer will represent them in that
Respondent, who declared that he went to the proceedings.
Office of the Labor Arbiter on February 27, 2004
on the request of his clients who "told him that COMM. HABABAG:
on February 27, 2004 the seven claimants
w[ould] be at the office of Arbiter Santos [to] My query, did it not surprise you that no money
submit their respective quitclaims and waivers," was given to you and yet there would be a
heaps on the Labor Arbiter the responsibility of signing of Quitclaim Receipt and Release?
ascertaining the identity of the parties who
executed the Release Waiver and Quitclaims. ATTY. SUING:
But respondent himself had the same
responsibility. He was under obligation to protect I am not, your Honor, because it happened
his clients' interest, especially given the amount before and there were no complaints, Your
allegedly given by them in consideration of the Honor.
execution of the documents. His answers to the
clarificatory questions of Commissioner COMM. HABABAG:
Hababag do not, however, show that he
discharged such obligation.
Just because it happened before you did not
bother to see to it that there is a voucher so you
COMM. HABABAG: just rely on your precedent, is that what you
mean?
But is it not a fact [that it is] also your duty to ask..
that the money of your client would go to the ATTY. SUING:
deserving employee?
Yes, Your Honor, because I always believe that
ATTY. SUING: the parties who are talking and it is my client who
knows them better than I do, Your Honor.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 35

COMM. HABABAG: Honor, is only a single document where all the


signatories named are present because my
So, you just followed the instruction of your client purpose there really, Your Honor, is that so that
to be present at Arbiter Cadiente Santos office each of them will be there together and they will
because there would be signing of Quitclaim identify themselves, see each other para ho
Receipt and Release, it that clear? siguradong sila-sila yong magkakasama at
magkakakilanlan. x x x x And when the signing
ATTY. SUING: took place in February of 2004 it was made for
any [sic] individual, Your Honor, no longer the
Yes, Your Honor. document that I prepared when all of the
seven will be signing in one document.
COMM. HABABAG:
COMM. HABABAG:
[You] [d]id not bother to ask your client
where is the money intended for the payment Okay. You did not inquire from your client whom
of these workers? [sic] made the changes?

ATTY. SUING: ATTY. SUING:

I did not ask. I did not anymore because, Your Honor, at the
time when I was there, there are already people
COMM. HABABAG: there, the seven complainants plus another
woman.18 (Emphasis and underscoring
You did not asked [sic] your client who will supplied)
prepare the documents?
The Code of Professional Responsibility
ATTY. SUING: provides:

As far as the documents are concerned, Your CANON 17 – A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO
Honor. THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL
BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND
COMM. HABABAG: CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.

The Quitclaim Receipt and Release? CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS
CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND
ATTY. SUING: DILIGENCE.

Yes, Your Honor, I remember this. They asked xxxx


me before February of 1998.
Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal
COMM. HABABAG: matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
connection therewith shall render him liable.
When you say they whom are you referring to?
To be sure, respondent's client Manuel Rodil did
not request him to go to the Office of Labor
ATTY. SUING:
Arbiter Cadiente to be a mere passive witness to
the signing of the Release Waiver and
I'm referring to my client, Your Honor.
Quitclaims. That he was requested to go there
could only mean that he would exert vigilance to
COMM. HABABAG: protect his clients' interest. This he conceded
when he acknowledged the purpose of his
They asked me attorney can you please prepare presence at the Office of Labor Arbiter Santos,
us a document of Quitclaim and Waiver or give thus:
us a simple [sic] of Quitclaim and Waiver. I do
recall that I made one but this document, Your ATTY. SUING:
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 36

To go there, Your Honor, and represent them May pinirmahan dito na Quitclaim Receipt and
and see that these document[s] are properly Release. Ito ho ba sinong may gawa nitong
signed and that these people are properly Receipt Waiver and Quitclaim?
identified and verified them in front of Arbiter
Ariel Cadiente Santos.19 (Emphasis and MR. RODIL:
underscoring supplied)
Sila po.
That there was an alleged precedent in 1998
when a group of complainants entered into a COMM. HABABAG:
compromise agreement with his clients in which
he "did not participate" and from which no Ibig mong sabihin ibinigay sa yo to ng
problem arose did not excuse him from carrying complainant o sinong nag-abot sa iyo nitong
out the admitted purpose of going to the Labor Receipt Waiver and Quitclaim?
Arbiter's office — "that [the complainants] are
properly identified . . . in front of [the] Arbiter." MR. RODIL:

Besides, by respondent's own information, Si Atty. Suing po.


Labor Arbiter Santos was entertaining doubts on
the true identity of those who executed the ATTY. SUING:
Release Waiver and Quitclaims.20 That should
have alerted him to especially exercise the In fact, ang tanong sa iyo kung ibinigay daw sa
diligence of a lawyer to protect his clients' iyo yong mga dokumentong ito or what?
interest. But he was not and he did not.
COMM. HABABAG:
Diligence is "the attention and care required of a
person in a given situation and is the opposite of Okay, uulitin ko ha, tagalog na ang tanong ko sa
negligence." A lawyer serves his client with iyo ha hindi na English. Ito bang Release Waiver
diligence by adopting that norm of practice and Quitclaim sino ang may gawa nito, sino ang
expected of men of good intentions. He thus nagmakinilya nito?
owes entire devotion to the interest of his client,
warm zeal in the defense and maintenance of his
MR. RODIL:
rights, and the exertion of his utmost learning,
skill, and ability to ensure that nothing shall be
Kami yata ang gumawa niyan.
taken or withheld from him, save by the rules of
law legally applied. It is axiomatic in the practice
of law that the price of success is eternal COMM. HABABAG:
diligence to the cause of the client.
Pag sinabi mong kami yata ang may gawa sino
The practice of law does not require sa inyong mga officer, tauhan o abogado ang
extraordinary diligence (exactissima diligentia) gumawa nito?
or that "extreme measure of care and caution
which persons of unusual prudence and MR. RODIL:
circumspection use for securing and preserving
their rights. All that is required is ordinary Matagal na ho yan eh.
diligence (diligentia) or that degree of vigilance
expected of a bonus pater familias. x x x21 (Italics xxxx
in the original; underscoring supplied)
COMM. HABABAG:
And this Court notes the attempt of respondent
to influence the answers of his client Manuel Okay. Pangalawang gusto kong itanong.
Rodil when the latter testified before Sino ang naghatid nito kay Ariel Cadiente
Commissioner Manuel Hababag: Santos para pirmahan ni Ariel Cadiente Santos?

COMM. HABABAG: MR. RODIL:


LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 37

Si attorney po. Sabi mo may inabutan kang taong pera?

ATTY. SUING: MR. RODIL:

Wait. I did not bring the documents. The Opo.


Commissioner is asking kung sino ang nagdala
ng mga dokumento? COMM. HABABAG:

MR. RODIL: Ang sagot mo kay attorney. Sinong attorney ang


tinutukoy mo?
Yong mga tao.
MR. RODIL:
xxxx
Atty. Suing po.
COMM. HABABAG:
COMM. HABABAG:
Simple ang tanong ko ha. Intindihin mo
muna. Kanino mo inabot ang bayad sa Okay.
nakalagay dito sa Release waiver and
Quitclaim? ATTY. SUING:

MR. RODIL: Your Honor,…

Kay attorney po. COMM. HABABAG:

COMM. HABABAG: Pabayaan mo muna. I'll come to that. Magkano


kung iyong natatandaan ang perang inabot kay
Pag sinabi mong kay attorney sinong tinutukoy Atty. Suing?
mong attorney?
MR. RODIL:
ATTY. SUING:
Yan ang hindi ko matandaan.
Yong ibinigay na pera pambayad saan, yon ang
tanong. x x x x22 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

COMM. HABABAG: Thus, not only did respondent try to coach his
client or influence him to answer questions in an
Sundan mo ang tanong ko ha. Ako ang apparent attempt not to incriminate him
nagtatanong hindi ang abogado mo. (respondent). His client contradicted
respondent's claim that the Release Waiver and
MR. RODIL: Quitclaim which he (respondent) prepared was
not the one presented at the Arbiter's Office, as
Opo. well as his implied claim that he was not involved
in releasing to the complainants the money for
COMM. HABABAG: and in consideration of the execution of the
documents.
Huwag kang tatawa. I'm reminding you serious
tayo dito. As an officer of the court, a lawyer is called upon
to assist in the administration of justice. He is an
MR. RODIL: instrument to advance its cause. Any act on his
part that tends to obstruct, perverts or impedes
Opo serious po. the administration of justice constitutes
misconduct.23 While the Commission on Bar
COMM. HABABAG: Discipline is not a court, the proceedings therein
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 38

are nonetheless part of a judicial proceeding, a


disciplinary action being in reality an
investigation by the Court into the misconduct of
its officers or an examination into his character.24

In Bantolo v. Castillon, Jr.25 the respondent


lawyer was found guilty of gross misconduct for
his attempts to delay and obstruct the
investigation being conducted by the IBP.
Nonetheless, this Court found that a suspension
of one month from the practice of law was
enough to give him "the opportunity to retrace
his steps back to the virtuous path of the legal
profession."

While the disbarment of respondent is, under the


facts and circumstances attendant to the case,
not reasonable, neither is reprimand as
recommended by the IBP. This Court finds that
respondent's suspension from the practice of
law for six months is in order.

WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Jose A. Suing,


is found GUILTY of negligence and gross
misconduct and is SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of Six (6) Months,
with WARNING that a repetition of the same or
similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the


Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, and all courts throughout the
country.

SO ORDERED.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 39

Rule 12.08: NOT TO TESTIFY ON BEHALF 6. In finding that by the sale of the said property
OF CLIENT to Mariano Santos for the sum of P8,600, the
said judgment in civil case No. 26328 has been
G.R. No. L-35252 October 21, 1932 more than fully paid even discounting the sum of
P1,300 which appellant paid as the highest
THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, plaintiff- bidder for the said property.
appellant,
vs. 7. In declaring that the offer of appellee Uy Teng
UY TENG PIAO, defendant-appellee. Piao as shown by Exhibits D and D-1, reflects
only the desire of the said appellee Uy Teng Piao
Nat. M. Balboa and Dominador J. Endriga for to avoid having a case with the appellant bank.
appellant.
Antonio Gonzales for appellee. 8. In finally absolving appellee Uy Teng Piao and
in not sentencing him to pay the amount claimed
VICKERS, J.: in the complaint with costs.

This is an appeal by the plaintiff a decision of the On September 9, 1924, the Court of First
Court of First Instance of Manila absolving the Instance of Manila rendered a judgment in favor
defendant from the complaint, without a special of the Philippine National Bank and against Uy
finding as to costs. Teng Piao in civil case No. 26328 for the sum of
P17,232.42 with interest at 7 per cent per annum
The appellant makes the following assignments from June 1, 1924, plus 10 per cent of the sum
of error: amount for attorney's fees and costs. The court
ordered the defendant to deposit said amount
The trial court erred: with the clerk of the court within three months
from the date of the judgment, and in case of his
1. In finding that one Mr. Pecson gave a promise failure to do so that the mortgaged properties
to appellee Uy Teng Piao to condone the described in transfer certificates of title Nos.
balance of the judgment rendered against the 7264 and 8274 should be sold at public auction
said Uy Teng Piao and in favor of the Philippine in accordance with the law and the proceeds
National Bank in civil case No. 26328 of the applied to the payment of the judgment.
Court o First Instance of Manila.
Uy Teng Piao failed to comply with the order of
2. In finding that merely in selling the property the court, and the sheriff of the City of Manila
described in certificate of title No. 11274 situated sold the two parcels of land at public auction to
at Ronquillo Street, Manila, to Mariano Santos the Philippine National Bank on October 14,
for P8,600 (Exhibit 2), the appellant had 1924 for P300 and P1,000 respectively.
undoubtedly given the alleged promise of
condonation to appellee Uy Teng Piao. On February 11, 1925, the Philippine National
Bank secured from Uy Teng Piao a waiver of his
3. In finding that the consideration of document right to redeem the property described in
Exhibit 1 is the condonation of the balance of the Transfer Certificate of Title No. 8274, and on the
judgment rendered in said civil case No. 26328. same date the bank sold said property to
Mariano Santos for P8,600.1awphil.net
4. In finding that said Mr. Pecson, granting that
the latter has actually given such promise to Evidently the other parcel, Transfer Certificate of
condone, could bind the appellant corporation. Title No. 7264, was subsequently resold by the
bank for P2,700, because the account of the
5. In holding that the absence of demand for defendant was credited with the sum of P11,300.
payment upon appellee Uy Teng Piao for the In other words, the bank credited the defendant
balance of the said judgment from February 11, with the full amount realized by it when it resold
the two parcels of land.
1925 up to the year 1930 is "una senal
inequivoca una prueba evidente" of the
condonation of the balance of the said judgment. The bank brought the present action to revive
the judgment for the balance of P11,574.33, with
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 40

interest at 7 per cent per annum from August 1, TESTIGO. Me dijo el señor Pecson que es cosa
1930. mala para mi "¿por que usted cobra alquileres y
no paga los intereses? Mejor deje usted ya
In his amended answer the defendant alleged as todos sus bienes para cubrir sus deudas.
a special defense that he waived his right to
redeem the land described in transfer certificate P. El señor Pecson le dijo a usted "mejor deje
of title No. 8274 in consideration of an usted ya todos sus bienes," ¿a que bienes se
understanding between him and the bank that referia el ? — R. Al terreno de Ronquillo y al
the bank would not collect from him the balance terreno de Paco.
of the judgment. It was on this ground that the
trial court absolved the defendant from the P. ¿Cual de esos terrenos, el de Ronquillo o el
complaint. de Paco, el que se refiere aqui en el Exhibit 1?
— R. Paco, primeramente, los dos ambos.
In our opinion the defendant has failed to prove
any valid agreement on the part of the bank not P. Pero este Exhibit 1, ¿a que se refiere; al de
to collect from him the remainder of the Paco o al de Ronquillo? — R. Parece que Paco.
judgment. The alleged agreement rests upon the
uncorroborated testimony of the defendant, the P. ¿No recuerda usted muy bien? — R. No
pertinent part of whose testimony on direct recuerdo.
examination was as follows:
P. Y cuando le dijo a usted el señor Pecson
P. En este documento aparece que usted, por mejor que dejara todos sus bienes, ¿le dijo a
consideracion de valor recibido del Banco usted a favor de quien iba usted a dejar sus
Nacional demandante en la presente causa, bienes? — R. Al Banco Nacional.
renuncia a su derecho de recompra de la
propiedad vendida por el Sheriff en publica P. ¿Y que le dijo a usted, si le dijo a usted algo
subasta el catorce de octubre de mil el señor Pecson con respecto al saldo deudor
novecientos veintecuatro a favor del Banco que usted todavia era en deber a favor del
Nacional; ¿quiere usted explicar al Honorable Banco Nacional? — R. No recuerdo mas; pero
Juzgado, cual es esta consideracion de valor? mas o menos de catorce mil pesos.
— R. Si, señor. Esto desde mil novecientos
veintitres o mil novecientos veintecuatro, no P. ¿Que le dijo el con respeto al saldo, si el
recuerdo bien, me haba dicho el señor Pecson, cobraria todavia o se le condonaria?
porque algunas veces yo no podia pagar esos
intereses mensuales. Entonces me dijo Pecson, Sr. ENDRIGA. Es alternativa la pregunta. Me
"¿como puede usted recibir alquileres y no paga opongo.
usted intereses?"
JUZGADO. Cambiese la pregunta.
P. ¿Quien es ese señor Pecson? — R. Era
encargado de este asunto. P. ¿Que le dijo a usted con respeto al saldo, una
vez otorgado este Exhibit 1?
P. ¿Que era el del Banco Nacional, usted sabe?
— R. Era encargado de estas transacciones. SR. ENDRIGA. La pregunta no tiene ninguna
Cuando tenia necesidad siempre llamaba yo al base. Nos openemos.
señor Pecson. Entonces hable al señor Pecson
que somos comerciantes, algunas veces los Sr. GONZALES. Si dice el que se havian
alquileres no pueden cobrarse por anticipado. vendido todos los terrenos.
Sr. ENDRIGA. No es responsiva la contestacion JUZGADO. Puede contestar.
a la pregunta.
Sr. ENDRIGA. Excepcion.
Sr. GONZALEZ. Si esta explicando y no ha
terminado el testigo su contestacion.
R. Me dijo que para que usted no cobre
alquileres y no pague intereses deje usted esos
JUZGADO. Que la termine.
LEGAL ETHICS CANON 12 ACJUCO 41

terrenos de Ronquillo y terreno de Paco para redeem both parcels of land, and that the
cubrir ya todas mis deudas. Entonces dije ya, si, defendant, a Chines business man, would have
como yo tengo buena fe con este Banco. Hasta insisted upon some evidence of the agreement
que al fin yo dije que queria yo comprar. in writing. It appears to us that the defendant
waived his right to redeem the land in Calle
P. Cuando usted firmo el once de febrero de mil Ronquillo, because a friend of his wished to
novecientos veintecinco este documento Exhibit purchase it and was willing to pay therefor
1, ¿recibio usted algun centimo de dinero del P8,600, and the bank agreed to credit the
Banco? — R. Nada, absolutamente. defendant with the full amount of the sale.

When asked on cross-examination if Pecson Furthermore, if it be conceded that there was


was not in Iloilo at the time of the execution of such an understanding between Pecson and the
defendant's waiver of his right to redeem, the defendant as the latter claims, it is not shown
defendant answered that he did not know; asked that Pecson was authorized to make any such
when Pecson had spoken to him about the agreement for the bank. Only the board of
matter, the defendant replied that he did not directors or the persons empowered by the
remember. board of directors could bind the bank by such
an agreement. There is no merit in the
One of the attorneys for the plaintiff testified that contention that since the bank accepted the
the defendant renounced his right to redeem the benefit of the waiver it cannot now repudiate the
parcel of land in Calle Ronquillo, Exhibit 1, alleged agreement. The fact that the bank after
because a friend of the defendant was interested having bought the land for P1,000 resold it at the
in buying it. instance of the defendant for P8,600 and
credited the defendant with the full amount of the
The bank ought to have presented Pecson as a resale was a sufficient consideration for the
witness, or his deposition, if he was not residing execution of defendant's waiver of his right to
in Manila at the time of the trial. redeem.

With respect to the testimony of the bank's For the foregoing reasons, the decision
attorney, we should like to observe that although appealed from is reversed, and the defendant is
the law does not forbid an attorney to be a condemned to pay the plaintiff the sum of
witness and at the same time an attorney in a P11,574.38 with interest thereon at the rate of 7
cause, the courts prefer that counsel should not per cent per annum from August 1, 1930, and
testify as a witness unless it is necessary, and the costs of both instances.
that they should withdraw from the active
management of the case. (Malcolm, Legal
Ethics, p. 148.) Canon 19 of the Code of Legal
Ethics reads as follows:

When a lawyer is a witness for his client, except


as to merely formal matters, such as the
attestation or custody of an instrument and the
like, he should leave the trial of the case to other
counsel. Except when essential to the ends of
justice, a lawyer should avoid testifying in court
in behalf of his client.

Defendant's testimony as to the alleged


agreement is very uncertain. There is no
mention in Exhibit 1 as to such an agreement on
the part of the bank. Exhibit 1 relates only to the
land in Calle Ronquillo. If Pecson had made any
such agreement as the defendant claims, it is
reasonable to suppose that he would have
required the defendant to waive his right to