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BM No. 139, Mar 28, 1983 "11.

Respondent likewise has a Certificate of Membership in the Integrated Bar of the


RE: ELMO S. ABAD v. ELMO S. ABAD Philippines as well as a Certificate of Membership in Good Standing with the Quezon
206 Phil. 172 City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, . . .."
ABAD SANTOS, J.: Respondent Abad should know that the circumstances which he has narrated do not
Charged by Atty. Procopio S. Beltran, Jr., president of the Philippine Trial Lawyers constitute his admission to the Philippine Bar and the right to practise law thereafter.
Association, Inc., of practicing law without having been previously admitted to the He should know that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be
Philippine Bar, Mr. Elmo S. Abad could not deny and had to admit the practice. In performed, namely: his lawyer's oath to be administered by this Court and his
exculpation he gives the following lame explanation: signature in the Roll of Attorneys. [Rule 138, Secs. 17 and 19, Rules of Court.]
"1. On July 23, 1979, respondent conformably with the Resolution of the Honorable The proven charge against respondent Abad constitutes contempt of court (Rule 71,
Supreme Court En Banc dated July 10, 1979, . . . prior to his taking the Oath of Office Sec. 3(e), Rules of Court.)
as a member of the bar, paid his Bar Admission Fee in the amount of P175.00 as WHEREFORE, Mr. Elmo S. Abad is hereby fined Five Hundred (P500.00) pesos
shown by Official Receipt No. 8128792, . . . paid his Certification Fee in the amount payable to this Court within ten (10) days from notice failing which he shall serve
of P5.00 as shown by Official Receipt No. 8128793, . . . and also paid his Membership twenty-five (25) days imprisonment.
Dues for the year 1979-80 to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as shown by Official SO ORDERED.
Receipt No. 83740, . . ..
"2. On July 26, 1979, Atty. Romeo Mendoza, the then Clerk of Court of the Honorable
Supreme Court, included the respondent as among those taking the Oath of Office as BM No. 139, Oct 11, 1984
Member of the Bar as shown by a letter of Request dated July 23, 1979, . . .. RE: ELMO S. ABAD v. ELMO S. ABAD
"3. At around Eleven O'clock in the morning of July 26, 1979, while waiting for my 217 Phil. 431
turn to take my Oath as a member of the Bar, I was made to sign my Lawyer's Oath ABAD SANTOS, J.:
by one of the Clerk in the Office of the Bar Confidant and while waiting there, Atty. On March 28, 1983, this Court held respondent ELMO S. ABAD in contempt of court
Romeo Mendoza told me that Chief Justice, the Honorable Enrique M. Fernando wants for unauthorized practice of law and he was fined P500.00 with subsidiary
to talk to me about the Reply of Mr. Jorge Uy (Deceased) to my Answer to his imprisonment in case he failed to pay the fine (121 SCRA 217). He paid the fine.
Complaint. The Honorable Chief Justice told me that I have to answer the Reply and On May 5, 1983, Atty. Procopio S. Beltran, Jr., the complainant, filed a MOTION TO
for which reason the taking of my Lawyer's Oath was further suspended.[*] CIRCULARIZE TO ALL METRO MANILA COURTS THE FACT THAT ELMO S. ABAD
"4. On July 31, 1979, I filed my Reply to Mr. Jorge Uy's Answer with a Prayer that the IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO PRACTICE LAW.
Honorable Supreme Court determines my fitness to be a member of the Bar; Asked to comment on the Motion, Mr. Abad opposed it. He denied the allegations in
"5. While waiting for the appropriate action which the Honorable Supreme Court may the Motion that he had been practicing law even after our Decision of March 28, 1983.
take upon my Prayer to determine my fitness to be a member of the Bar, I received Because the Motion and the Opposition raised a question of fact, in Our resolution of
a letter from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Quezon City Chapter dated May April 10, 1984, We directed "the Clerk of Court to conduct an investigation in the
10, 1980 informing the respondent of an Annual General Meeting together with my premises and submit a report thereon with appropriate recommendation."
Statement of Account for the year 1980-1981, . . .. In a comprehensive and well-documented Report which is hereby made a part of this
"6. Believing that with my signing of the Lawyer's Oath on July 26, 1979 and my Resolution, the Clerk of Court concluded:
Reply to Mr. Jorge Uy's (Deceased) Answer, the Honorable Supreme Court did not "The aforesaid documentary and testimonial evidence, as well as the above report of
ordered for the striking of my name in the Roll of Attorneys with the Integrated Bar the NBI, have clearly proved that respondent Abad is still practicing law despite the
of the Philippines and therefore a Member in Good Standing, I paid my membership decision of this Court of March 28, 1983."
due and other assessments to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Quezon City The Clerk of Court makes the following recommendations:
Chapter, as shown by Official Receipt No. 110326 and Official Receipt No. 0948, . . .. "a. imposed a fine of P2,000.00 payable within ten (10) days from receipt of this
Likewise respondent paid his Professional Tax Receipt as shown by Official Receipt resolution or an imprisonment of twenty (20) days in case of non-payment thereof,
No. 058033 and Official Receipt No. 4610685, . . .. with warning of drastic disciplinary action of imprisonment in case of any further
"7. On February 28, 1981, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Quezon City Chapter practice of law after receipt of this resolution; and
also included the name of the respondent as a Qualified Voter for the election of b. debarred from admission to the Philippine Bar until such time that the Court finds
officers and directors for the year 1981-1982, . . .. him fit to become such a member.
"8. Respondent's belief and good faith was further enhanced by the fact that on "It is further recommended that a circular be issued to all courts in the Philippines
January 8, 1981, Complainant Jorge Uy in SBC-607 died and herein respondent through the Office of the Court Administrator that respondent Elmo S. Abad has not
submitted a verified Notice and Motion with the Honorable Supreme Court on April been admitted to the Philippine Bar and is therefore not authorized to practice law."
27, 1981; notifying the Court of this fact with a prayer that herein respondent be We find the Report to be in order and its recommendations to be well-taken. However,
allowed to take his Oath as Member of the Bar; the latter are not sufficiently adequate in dealing with the improper activities of the
"9. Thereafter, respondent was again assessed by the Integrated Bar for his 1981- respondent.
1982 membership due and other assessment for which the undersigned paid as shown The Report has found as a fact, over the denials of the respondent under oath, that
by Official Receipt No. 132734 and Official Receipt No. 3363, . . .. he signed Exhibits B, C, and D, and that he made appearances in Metro Manila courts.
"10. Respondent likewise paid his Professional Tax Receipt for 1981 as shown by This aspect opens the respondent to a charge for perjury.
Official Receipt No. 3195776, . . .. The Report also reveals that Atty. Ruben A. Jacobe collaborated with the respondent
as counsels for Antonio S. Maravilla one of the accused in Criminal Case Nos. 26084,
26085 and 26086 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. (Exhibit D.) Atty. Jacobe elections in Biliran where he ran and subsequently lost; then he was offered a position
should be called to account for his association with the respondent. at the Philippine Stock Exchange as head of the Compliance and Surveillance Division
WHEREFORE, Elmo S. Abad is hereby ordered to pay a fine of P2, 000.00 within ten which he accepted; his time and attention was spent in the performance of his
(10) days from notice, failing which he shall be imprisoned for twenty (20) days. He demanding job at the PSE as well as in the preparation of his testimony before the
is also warned that if he persists in the unauthorized practice of law he shall be dealt Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in connection with the "BW" scam; anent the case of
with more severely. herein complainant, he offered on several occasions to withdraw as one of the defense
The Court Administrator is directed to circularize all courts in the country that the counsel of the complainant even to the extent of offering to return his acceptance fee
respondent has not been authorized to practice law. A copy of the circular should be which the latter however refused;6 it is not true that complainant pleaded with
sent to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. respondent to withdraw as his counsel, the truth being that it was complainant who
The Clerk of Court is directed to file with the City Fiscal of Manila an appropriate refused to let go of respondent as his counsel; also, while he is a counsel of
complaint for false testimony against the respondent. complainant in the criminal case before the RTC, he was merely a collaborating
Finally, Atty. Ruben A. Jacobe is required to explain within ten (10) days from notice counsel, the lead counsel being Atty. Solomon Villanueva;7 finally, he was actually
why he should not be disciplined for collaborating and associating in the practice of mulling over the possible procedural steps to take with regard to complainant’s case
the law with the respondent who is not a member of the bar. when he received instead, a copy of the present complaint.8
SO ORDERED. On February 28, 2001, the Court issued a Resolution9 referring the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation.
On June 13, 2001, the IBP through Commissioner Renato G. Cunanan submitted its
A.C. No. 5246 March 20, 2003 report, pertinent portions of which are quoted verbatim:
EDGAR O. PEREA, complainant, vs. ATTY. RUBEN ALMADRO, respondent. "We are not convinced about the truth of respondent’s affirmative allegations. It is
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: clear that he as well as his counsels are lying. First off, the manifestation with motion
Before the Court is a complaint for disbarment filed by Edgar O. Perea against Atty. filed by respondent’s counsels, Sua and Alambra is incredibly unbelievable. In fact, to
Ruben Almadro for gross neglect of his duties as lawyer of herein complainant. be blunt about it, respondent’s counsels were clearly lying when they manifested that
Complainant narrates: Respondent was his counsel before the Regional Trial Court of the respondent "has yet to receive a copy of the complaint..." This is an outrageous
Quezon City (Branch 99) where he (complainant Perea) is being charged with the lie. The respondent’s three (3) motions never once mentioned that he had not
crime of Frustrated Homicide. On February 26, 1996, the said RTC issued an order received copy of the complaint. In fact, in his second motion for further extension of
granting Atty. Almadro’s motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence within ten (10) time to file comment, Atty. Almadro CLEARLY stated in the second paragraph thereof
days from said date. All the while, complainant thought that respondent filed said that:
demurrer and the case against him dismissed. It was only sometime in 1999 that ‘He is in the process of reviewing an initial draft of said comment and will need said
complainant learned that Atty. Almadro failed to file any demurrer. The trial court period of ten (10) days to complete and finalize the draft.’
ordered the herein complainant to present evidence in his defense. Later, a warrant "From the afore-quoted portion of Mr. Almadro’s manifestation and motion, it is
was issued for his arrest prompting him to surrender to the court and post bail. obvious he already had a copy of the complaint. The manifestation and motion filed
Complainant suffered financially and emotionally due to respondent’s neglect of his on his behalf by Attys. Sua and Alambra with the Honorable Supreme Court is a
duties. Respondent has not attended any of his hearings which led complainant to brazen and deliberate misrepresentation which deserves an uncompromising and
plead with respondent to withdraw formally as his counsel so he could hire another vigorous condemnation.
lawyer. Because of Atty. Almadro’s neglect, complainant is now facing the loss of his "The respondent claims he is in solo practice. How then can he honestly claim that
freedom and livelihood.1 when he could not find the draft of his demurrer in the magnetic computer diskette
Respondent filed three motions for extension of time to file comment.2 On November where he allegedly stored it, he was led "to believe that the drafts must have been
13, 2000, the Court resolved to grant the said motions with a warning that no further finalized and the edited versions thereof accordingly filed." This allegation is pure
extensions shall be granted.3 On November 17, 2000, respondent, through the law unadulterated garbage. All Mr. Almadro had to do was check his case folder to see if
firm Sua and Alambra, filed a Manifestation and Motion that respondent has not yet a demurrer had indeed been filed. As a solo practitioner like this representation, we
received a copy of the complaint hence it asked the Court to order the complainant can only surmise that logically, nothing happens or "goes down" in Mr. Almadro’s
to furnish them a copy.4 office without his knowledge and indispensable participation. If so, how could he have
On December 20, 2000, respondent through said law firm submitted an Answer5 to been led to believe anything? To be sure, he would have read and signed the demurrer
the complaint, contending that: two days after the RTC granted the manifestation of before it was "accordingly filed." Being a solo practitioner no one else could have
defense to file motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence, he had finished the draft signed that demurrer. And does Mr. Almadro expect anyone to believe that after
of the motion and the accompanying pleading which he stored in a magnetic computer finishing the draft (in his computer) he would not even bother to print a hard copy for
diskette intended for editing prior to its submission in court; a few days before the him to read, edit and correct without having to do so from his computer monitor?
deadline, herein respondent tried to retrieve the draft from the diskette but said drafts "Incidentally, this representation verified the records of the complainant’s criminal
were nowhere to be found despite efforts to retrieve them; this led him to believe case before RTC-Branch 99, Quezon City. We came upon an Order of the incumbent
that the drafts must have been finalized and the edited versions accordingly filed presiding judge declaring the respondent herein in contempt of court for repeatedly
since it is his practice to expunge from the diskette drafts that were already finalized failing to submit an explanation as ordered by the court.
and acted upon; meanwhile, the presiding judge of the RTC retired, as a consequence, "The undersigned is convinced that Atty. Ruben L. Almadro’s actuations reveal not
actions on pending cases were held in abeyance; moreover, communications with the only serious neglect or indifference to his duties as a lawyer but more gravely his
herein complainant had become rarer; thereafter, towards the end of 1997 up to the open disrespect for the court and the authority it represents.
next five months of 1998, respondent was preoccupied with the congressional
"We wish to put on record our extreme DISPLEASURE at the behavior of respondent In other cases, the Court also held that while a lawyer may decline a person to become
Atty. Ruben L. Almadro. We strongly recommend that respondent be suspended from his client for valid reasons, once he agrees to take up the cause of a client, he begins
the practice of law for two (2) years and that he be fined Ten Thousand to owe fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence
(PhP10,000.00) Pesos. We likewise recommend strongly that Attys. Sua and Alambra reposed in him. As a lawyer, he must serve the client with competence and diligence,
be ordered to explain why they should not be held in contempt for deliberately foisting and champion the latter’s cause with wholehearted fidelity, care and devotion.
a deliberate falsehood and misrepresentation on the Honorable Supreme Court by Indeed, he owes entire devotion to the interest of his client, warm zeal in the
declaring that their client had not received a copy of the complaint when such was maintenance and defense of his client’s rights, and the exertion of his utmost learning
not true. By their misrepresentation the afore-named counsels have exhibited and ability to the end that nothing be taken or withheld from his client, save by the
contemptible disrespect not only for the Court but also the authority it represents." 10 rules of law legally applied.16 His client is entitled to the benefit of any and every
The report was adopted and approved by the Board of Governors of the IBP remedy and defense that is authorized by the law of the land and he may expect his
Commission on Bar Discipline with some modifications thus: lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense.17
"RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Respondent’s negligence is compounded by his attempt to have this tribunal believe
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled the story of how his draft, stored in a magnetic diskette, mysteriously disappeared
case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A"; and, finding the and how the absence of such file in his diskette led him to believe that the same was
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws already filed in court. In his Answer, he even tried to depict himself as a conscientious
and rules, with modification, and considering that Atty. Ruben L. Almadro’s actuations lawyer by stating that he was actually mulling on the procedural steps he would
reveal not only serious neglect or indifference to his duties as a lawyer but more undertake regarding complainant’s case when instead he received a copy of this
gravely his open disrespect for the court and the authority it represent. Respondent complaint for disbarment. Such story, as observed by the IBP, is not only outrageous
is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year and FINED for Ten but is contemptuous as it makes a mockery of the Court.
Thousand (P 10,000.00) Pesos. Likewise, Atty. Sua and Atty. Alambra are ordered to Again, the Code of Professional Responsibility is explicit on this matter:
explain why they should not be held in contempt for deliberately foisting a deliberate CANON 10--- A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.
falsehood and misrepresentation."11 Rule 10.01 ---A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration on September 11, 2002, this time in court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.
his own behalf, of the above quoted IBP Board Resolution.12 This was denied on In Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. vs Atty. Flores,18 the Court, aside from citing
October 19, 2002.13 Canon 10 above stated that "a lawyer must be a disciple of truth." Indeed, it cannot
We are in full accord with the findings and recommendation of the IBP. be stressed enough how important it is for a lawyer as an officer of the court to
As clearly stated in the Code of Professional Responsibility - observe honesty at all times, especially before the courts.
CANON 18 --- A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence. Respondent would have this Court believe a very preposterous story of how his draft
Rule 18.03 --- A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his disappeared, all the time avoiding the simple fact that he failed to submit the
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. necessary pleading before the trial court. Such behavior cannot be countenanced and
Rule 18.04 --- A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and deserves stern penalty therefor.
shall respond within a reasonable time to the client’s request for information. The act of the IBP in requiring Atty. Kenton Sua and Atty. Alan Alambra to show cause
It is plain from the records that respondent lawyer failed to submit a demurrer to why they should not be held in contempt of court for deliberate falsehood and
evidence for which he had earlier asked permission from the trial court and which his misrepresentation in the preparation of the Answer for herein respondent is
client, herein complainant was relying on. More than that, he failed to contact his appropriate. Records reveal that both Attys. Sua and Alambra have filed their joint
client and to apprise the latter about the developments of the case leaving Explanation.19
complainant completely surprised and without any protection when years later, he WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Ruben Almadro guilty of serious neglect of his
received summons from the trial court asking him to present evidence in his defense duties as a lawyer and of open disrespect for the court and the authority it represents,
and, not long after, the trial court issued a warrant for his arrest. as embodied in Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 and Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the
In the recent case of Sps. Galen et al. vs. Atty. Paguirigan14 the Court is explicit in its Code of Professional Responsibility, he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one
pronouncement that: (1) year and FINED in the amount of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos, with a
"An attorney is bound to protect his client’s interest to the best of his ability and with WARNING that any or similar acts of dishonesty would be dealt with more severely.
utmost diligence. A failure to file brief for his client certainly constitutes inexcusable Let a copy of the Resolution be attached to the personal records of Atty. Alambra in
negligence on his part. The respondent has indeed committed a serious lapse in the the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be furnished the Integrated Bar of the
duty owed by him to his client as well as to the Court not to delay litigation and to Philippines (IBP) and all the courts in the country for their information and guidance.
aid in the speedy administration of justice. Let the records of herein case be remanded to the Office of the Integrated Bar of the
xxx xxx xxx Philippines for further action on the contempt proceedings against Atty. Kenton Sua
"A lawyer is expected to be familiar with these rudiments of law and procedure and and Atty. Alan Alambra.
anyone who acquires his service is entitled to not just competent service but also SO ORDERED.
whole-hearted devotion to his client’s cause. It is the duty of a lawyer to serve his
client with competence and diligence and he should exert his best efforts to protect
within the bounds of law the interest of his client. A lawyer should never neglect a
legal matter entrusted to him, otherwise his negligence in fulfilling his duty will render
him liable for disciplinary action."15
A.C. No. 6198 September 15, 2006 infringed on every lawyer's duty to "never seek to mislead the judge or any judicial
RENATO M. MALIGAYA, complainant, vs. ATTY. ANTONIO G. DORONILLA, JR., officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law."17
respondent. Atty. Doronilla's unethical conduct was compounded, moreover, by his obstinate
CORONA, J.: refusal to acknowledge the impropriety of what he had done. From the very beginning
Atty. Antonio G. Doronilla, Jr. of the Judge Advocate General's Service is before us on of this administrative case, Atty. Doronilla maintained the untenable position that he
a charge of unethical conduct for having uttered a falsehood in open court during a had done nothing wrong in the hearing of Civil Case No. Q-99-38778. He persisted in
hearing of Civil Case No. Q-99-38778.1 doing so even after having admitted that he had, in that hearing, spoken of an
Civil Case No. Q-99-38778 was an action for damages filed by complainant Renato M. agreement that did not in truth exist. Rather than express remorse for that
Maligaya, a doctor and retired colonel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, against regrettable incident, Atty. Doronilla resorted to an ill-conceived attempt to evade
several military officers for whom Atty. Doronilla stood as counsel. At one point during responsibility, professing that the falsehood had not been meant for the information
the February 19, 2002 hearing of the case, Atty. Doronilla said: of Judge Daway but only as "a sort of question" to complainant regarding a "pending
And another matter, Your Honor. I was appearing in other cases he [complainant proposal" to settle the case.18
Maligaya] filed before against the same defendants. We had an agreement that if The explanation submitted by Atty. Doronilla, remarkable only for its speciousness,19
we withdraw the case against him, he will also withdraw all the cases. So, cannot absolve him. If anything, it leads us to suspect an unseemly readiness on his
with that understanding, he even retired and he is now receiving pension.2 part to obfuscate plain facts for the unworthy purpose of escaping his just deserts.
(emphasis supplied) There is in his favor, though, a presumption of good faith20 which keeps us from
Considering this to be of some consequence, presiding Judge Reynaldo B. Daway treating the incongruity of his proffered excuse as an indication of mendacity. Besides,
asked a number of clarificatory questions and thereafter ordered Atty. Doronilla to in the light of his avowal that his only aim was "to settle the case amicably among
put his statements in writing and "file the appropriate pleading."3 Weeks passed but comrades in arms without going to trial,"21 perhaps it is not unreasonable to assume
Atty. Doronilla submitted no such pleading or anything else to substantiate his that what he really meant to say was that he had intended the misrepresentation as
averments. a gambit to get the proposed agreement on the table, as it were. But even if that had
On April 29, 2002, Maligaya filed a complaint against Atty. Doronilla in the Integrated been so, it would have been no justification for speaking falsely in court. There is
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline.4 The complaint, which nothing in the duty of a lawyer to foster peace among disputants that, in any way,
charged Atty. Doronilla with "misleading the court through misrepresentation of facts makes it necessary under any circumstances for counsel to state as a fact that which
resulting [in] obstruction of justice,"5 was referred to a commissioner6 for is not true. A lawyer's duty to the court to employ only such means as are consistent
investigation. Complainant swore before the investigating commissioner that he had with truth and honor22 forbids recourse to such a tactic. Thus, even as we give Atty.
never entered into any agreement to withdraw his lawsuits.7 Atty. Doronilla, who took Doronilla the benefit of the doubt and accept as true his avowed objective of getting
up the larger part of two hearings to present evidence and explain his side, admitted the parties to settle the case amicably, we must call him to account for resorting to
several times that there was, in fact, no such agreement.8 Later he explained in his falsehood as a means to that end.
memorandum that his main concern was "to settle the case amicably among Atty. Doronilla's offense is within the ambit of Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of
comrades in arms without going to trial"9 and insisted that there was no proof of his Court, which in part declares:
having violated the Code of Professional Responsibility or the lawyer's oath.10 He A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by
pointed out, in addition, that his false statement (or, as he put it, his "alleged acts of the Supreme Court for any deceit x x x or for any violation of the oath which he is
falsity") had no effect on the continuance of the case and therefore caused no actual required to take before admission to practice x x x.
prejudice to complainant.11 The suspension referred to in the foregoing provision means only suspension from
In due time, investigating commissioner Lydia A. Navarro submitted a report and the practice of law. For this reason, we disagree with the IBP's recommendation for
recommendation finding Atty. Doronilla guilty of purposely stating a falsehood in Atty. Doronilla's suspension from the government military service. After all, the only
violation of Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility 12 and purpose of this administrative case is to determine Atty. Doronilla's liability as a
recommending that he be "suspended from the government military service as legal member of the legal profession, not his liability as a legal officer in the military service.
officer for a period of three months."13 This was adopted and approved in toto by the Thus, it would be improper for us to order, as a penalty for his breach of legal ethics
IBP Board of Governors on August 30, 2003.14 and the lawyer's oath, his suspension from employment in the Judge Advocate
There is a strong public interest involved in requiring lawyers who, as officers of the General's Service. Of course, suspension from employment as a military legal officer
court, participate in the dispensation of justice, to behave at all times in a manner may well follow as a consequence of his suspension from the practice of law but
consistent with truth and honor.15 The common caricature that lawyers by and large that should not be reason for us to impose it as a penalty for his professional
do not feel compelled to speak the truth and to act honestly should not become a misconduct. We would be going beyond the purpose of this proceeding were we to do
common reality.16 To this end, Canon 10 and Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional so. Therefore, we shall treat the IBP's recommendation as one for suspension from
Responsibility state: the practice of law.
CANON 10 – A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS, AND GOOD FAITH TO THE At any rate, we are not inclined to adopt the IBP's recommendation on the duration
COURT. of Atty. Doronilla's suspension. We need to consider a few circumstances that mitigate
Rule 10.01 – A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in his liability somewhat. First, we give him credit for exhibiting enough candor to admit,
court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice. during the investigation, the falsity of the statement he had made in Judge Daway's
By stating untruthfully in open court that complainant had agreed to withdraw his courtroom. Second, the absence of material damage to complainant may also be
lawsuits, Atty. Doronilla breached these peremptory tenets of ethical conduct. Not considered as a mitigating circumstance.23 And finally, since this is Atty. Doronilla's
only that, he violated the lawyer's oath to "do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing first offense, he is entitled to some measure of forbearance.24
of any in court," of which Canon 10 and Rule 10.01 are but restatements. His act
Nonetheless, his unrepentant attitude throughout the conduct of this administrative by his clients in the DARAB case. He believes that the courses of action he took were
case tells us that a mere slap on the wrist is definitely not enough. Atty. Doronilla, it valid and proper legal theory designed to protect the rights and interests of Leopoldo
seems, needs time away from the practice of law to recognize his error and to purge de Guzman, et. al.3 He stresses that he was not the original lawyer in this case. The
himself of the misbegotten notion that an effort to compromise justifies the sacrifice lawyer-client relationship with the former lawyer was terminated because Leopoldo
of truthfulness in court. de Guzman, et. al. felt that their former counsel did not explain/argue their position
WHEREFORE, Atty. Antonio G. Doronilla, Jr. is hereby SUSPENDED from the very well, refused to listen to them and, in fact, even castigated them. As the new
practice of law for TWO MONTHS. He is WARNED that a repetition of the same or counsel, respondent candidly relied on what the tenants/farmers told him in the
similar misconduct shall be dealt with more severely. course of his interview. They maintained that they had been in open, adverse,
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to his personal record and copies furnished continuous and notorious possession of the land in the concept of an owner for more
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Court Administrator, the Chief- than 50 years. Thus, the filing of the action to quiet title was resorted to in order to
of-Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Commanding General of the determine the rights of his clients respecting the subject property. He avers that he
AFP Judge Advocate General's Service. merely exhausted all possible remedies and defenses to which his clients were entitled
SO ORDERED. under the law, considering that his clients were subjected to harassment and threats
of physical harm and summary eviction by the complainant.4 He posits that he was
only being protective of the interest of his clients as a good father would be protective
A.C. No. 7056 February 11, 2009 of his own family,5 and that his services to Leopoldo de Guzman, et. al were almost
PLUS BUILDERS, INC., and EDGARDO C. GARCIA, Complainants, vs. ATTY. pro bono.61avvphi1
ANASTACIO E. REVILLA, JR., Respondent. Anent the issue that he permitted his name to be used for unauthorized practice of
NACHURA, J.: law, he humbly submits that there was actually no sufficient evidence to prove the
Before us is a motion for reconsideration of our Decision dated September 13, 2006, same or did he fail to dispute this, contrary to the findings of the Integrated Bar of
finding respondent guilty of gross misconduct for committing a willful and intentional the Philippines (IBP). He was counsel of Leopoldo de Guzman, et al. only and not of
falsehood before the court, misusing court procedure and processes to delay the the cooperative Kalayaan Development Cooperative (KDC). He was just holding his
execution of a judgment and collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal practice of office in this cooperative, together with Attys. Dominador Ferrer, Efren Ambrocio, the
law. late Alfredo Caloico and Marciano Villavert. He signed the retainer agreement with
To recall, the antecedents of the case are as follows: Atty. Dominador to formalize their lawyer-client relationship, and the complainants
On November 15, 1999, a decision was rendered by the Provincial Adjudicator of were fully aware of such arrangement.7
Cavite (PARAD) in favor of herein complainant, Plus Builders, Inc. and against the Finally, he submits that if he is indeed guilty of violating the rules in the courses of
tenants/farmers Leopoldo de Guzman, Heirs of Bienvenido de Guzman, Apolonio Ilas action he took in behalf of his clients, he apologizes and supplicates the Court for kind
and Gloria Martirez Siongco, Heirs of Faustino Siongco, Serafin Santarin, Benigno consideration, pardon and forgiveness. He reiterates that he does not deserve the
Alvarez and Maria Esguerra, who were the clients of respondent, Atty. Anastacio E. penalty of two years’ suspension, considering that the complaint fails to show him
Revilla, Jr. The PARAD found that respondent’s clients were mere tenants and not wanting in character, honesty, and probity; in fact, he has been a member of the bar
rightful possessors/owners of the subject land. The case was elevated all the way up for more than 20 years, served as former president of the IBP Marinduque Chapter,
to the Supreme Court, with this Court sustaining complainant’s rights over the land. a legal aide lawyer of IBP Quezon City handling detention prisoners and pro bono
Continuing to pursue his clients’ lost cause, respondent was found to have committed cases, and is also a member of the Couples for Christ, and has had strict training in
intentional falsehood; and misused court processes with the intention to delay the the law school he graduated from and the law offices he worked with.8 He is the sole
execution of the decision through the filing of several motions, petitions for temporary breadwinner in the family with a wife who is jobless, four (4) children who are in
restraining orders, and the last, an action to quiet title despite the finality of the school, a mother who is bedridden and a sick sister to support. The family’s only
decision. Furthermore, he allowed non-lawyers to engage in the unauthorized practice source of income is respondent’s private practice of law, a work he has been engaged
of law – holding themselves out as his partners/associates in the law firm. in for more than twenty-five (25) years up to the present.9
The dispositive portion of the decision thus reads: On August 15, 2008, the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) received a letter from
WHEREFORE, Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr. is hereby found guilty of gross misconduct and respondent, requesting that he be issued a clearance for the renewal of his notarial
is SUSPENDED for two years from the practice of law, effective upon his receipt of commission. Respondent stated therein that he was aware of the pendency of the
this Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt administrative cases10 against him, but pointed out that said cases had not yet been
with more severely. resolved with finality. Respondent sought consideration and compassion for the
Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent as attorney and issuance of the clearance -- considering present economic/financial difficulties -- and
served on the IBP, as well as on the court administrator who shall circulate it to all reiterating the fact that he was the sole breadwinner in the family.
courts for their information and guidance.1 It is the rule that when a lawyer accepts a case, he is expected to give his full
Respondent duly filed a motion for reconsideration within the reglementary period, attention, diligence, skill and competence to the case, regardless of its importance
appealing to the Court to take a second look at his case and praying that the penalty and whether he accepts it for a fee or for free.11 A lawyer’s devotion to his client’s
of suspension of two years be reduced to mere reprimand or admonition for the sake cause not only requires but also entitles him to deploy every honorable means to
of his family and the poor clients he was defending.2 secure for the client what is justly due him or to present every defense provided by
Respondent maintains that he did not commit the acts complained of. The courses of law to enable the latter’s cause to succeed.12 In this case, respondent may not be
action he took were not meant to unduly delay the execution of the DARAB Decision wanting in this regard. On the contrary, it is apparent that the respondent’s acts
dated November 19, 1999, but were based on his serious study, research and complained of were committed out of his over-zealousness and misguided desire to
experience as a litigation lawyer for more than 20 years and on the facts given to him protect the interests of his clients who were poor and uneducated. We are not
unmindful of his dedication and conviction in defending the less fortunate. Taking the According to complainant, the residence certificates of Eulalio Zaballero were fake.
cudgels from the former lawyer in this case is rather commendable, but respondent Residence Certificate No. 13994501 dated April 18, 1989, which was used in the Deed
should not forget his first and foremost responsibility as an officer of the court. We Confirming a Previous Verbal Donation of Land dated November 6, 1989, was not
stress what we have stated in our decision that, in support of the cause of their clients, personally secured by him. Also, the supposed date of issuance on February 8,1990
lawyers have the duty to present every remedy or defense within the authority of the of Residence Certificate No. 15648548 which was used in the Deed Confirming a
law. This obligation, however, is not to be performed at the expense of truth and Previous Verbal Sale of Portion of Land dated October 17, 1991, was a Saturday.
justice.13 This is the criterion that must be borne in mind in every exertion a lawyer Residence Certificate No. 15648548 issued on February 8, 1989, used in the Deed
gives to his case.14 Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer has the Confirming a Previous Verbal Donation of Land dated November 6, 1989 could not
duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice, and is enjoined have been obtained by complainant’s father because he was then confined at the
from unduly delaying a case by impeding execution of a judgment or by misusing Cebu Doctors Hospital, where he stayed until February 10, 1989.
court processes.15 The complainant further asserts Eulalio Zaballero could not have appeared before
Certainly, violations of these canons cannot be countenanced, as respondent must respondent because he was already very sick and suffering from a serious eye defect.
have realized with the sanction he received from this Court. However, the Court also More significantly, he died on May 31, 1992; hence, he could not have appeared to
knows how to show compassion and will not hesitate to refrain from imposing the acknowledge the Deed Confirming a Previous Verbal Sale of Portion of Land dated
appropriate penalties in the presence of mitigating factors, such as the respondent’s October 17, 1991 on June 9, 1992. Finally, the defects and superimpositions are
length of service, acknowledgment of his or her infractions and feeling of remorse, evident.
family circumstances, humanitarian and equitable considerations, and respondent’s In his Comment, respondent claims that he had nothing to do with the issuance of
advanced age, among other things, which have varying significance in the Court’s Eulalio Zaballero’s residence certificate. The personnel from the City Treasurer’s Office
determination of the imposable penalty. Thus, after a careful consideration of herein are the ones tasked and responsible therefor. Moreover, complainant’s mere
respondent’s motion for reconsideration and humble acknowledgment of his allegation that Eulalio Zaballero did not personally secure his residence certificates
misfeasance, we are persuaded to extend a degree of leniency towards him.16 We find cannot overcome the presumption of regularity of its issuance, respondent avers.
the suspension of six (6) months from the practice of law sufficient in this case According to respondent, Eulalio Zaballero, accompanied by one whom the
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the letter-request dated August 15, 2008 is NOTED. respondent believed to be Eulalio’s son, appeared before him on October 17, 1991.
Respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Decision dated Eulalio showed him a prepared document captioned Deed of Confirmation of Previous
September 13, 2006 is hereby MODIFIED in that respondent is SUSPENDED from the Verbal Sale of Land for notarization. Other than the space allotted for the residence
practice of law for a period of six (6) months, effective upon receipt of this Resolution. certificate, the document was complete. It was duly signed and acknowledged by
Respondent is DIRECTED to inform the Court of the date of his receipt of said Eulalio’s to be his free and voluntary act. When respondent asked for Eulalio’s
Resolution within ten (10) days from receipt thereof. residence certificate, he failed to present one. Eulalio said that he would just go to
Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent as attorney and the City Hall and procure a residence certificate. He never returned.
served on the IBP, as well as on the Court Administrator, who shall circulate it to all Approximately eight (8) months later, on June 9, 1992, a representative of Eulalio
courts for their information and guidance. Zaballero, accompanied by one whom respondent believed to be his son, appeared
before him. They showed respondent the document brought by Eulalio Zaballero on
October 17, 1991, still unnotarized. Knowing that it was the same document,
Adm. Case No. 4370 May 25, 2004 respondent notarized it. No one informed respondent that Eulalio Zaballero had
DOUGLAS G. ZABALLERO, complainant, vs. ATTY. MARIO J. MONTALVAN, already passed away. Otherwise, respondent alleges, he would not have notarized
respondent. the subject document.
TINGA, J.: Respondent expresses deep regrets and sadness about the incident. Claiming that he
Because of the credence which all civilized nations attach to the attestation and was misled, he stresses that Eulalio Zaballero acknowledged his signature and
authentication of notaries to facilitate commercial intercourse,1 faithful observance voluntarily executed the document on October 17, 1991, but it was not notarized on
and utmost respect for its legal solemnities [are] sacrosanct and, failing therein, one said date because he did not have his residence certificate. Seeking compassion and
must bear commensurate consequences.2 understanding for his conduct, respondent blames it on his alleged busy workload as
On January 17, 1995, the Bar Confidant received a verified Complaint from Douglas he notarized twenty-three (23) other documents on that day.
G. Zaballero praying for the disbarment of Atty. Mario J. Montalvan, Notary Public for On May 29, 1995, the Court issued a resolution referring the case to the Integrated
the City of Oroquieta, for alleged negligence and incompetence in notarizing Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation within
documents.3 ninety (90) days from notice. After eight (8) years and a series of resolutions from
Complainant alleges that respondent notarized three (3) documents sometime from the Court addressed to the IBP, the last of which is dated July 9, 2003, the latter
1989 to 1992, purportedly executed, either as a vendor or a donor, by complainant’s finally submitted its report on July 24, 2003.
father Eulalio Zaballero. These documents are: a Deed Confirming a Previous Verbal IBP Investigating Commissioner Manuel A. Tiuseco (Tiuseco) found that respondent
Donation of Land dated November 6, 1989 and notarized on November 10, 1989 with failed to comply with his calling as a lawyer and a notary public and recommended
Quirino Zaballero as donee; a Deed Confirming a Previous Verbal Sale of Portion of that he be suspended for a period of three months.
Land dated October 17, 1991 and notarized on June 9, 1992 in favor of Luis Zaballero, On June 21, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Report and
as vendee; and a Deed of Absolute Sale of a Portion of Land dated February 26, 1990 Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, but modified the recommended
notarized on February 26, 1990 with James Zaballero, as vendee. Complainant faults penalty, as follows:
respondent for notarizing said documents despite the fact that they were falsified. [W]ith modification as to penalty to conform to evidence, and considering that the
respondent has not been true to his calling as a lawyer and notary public by taking
lightly his duty and obligation in giving effect to public documents that need[s] his WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the notarial commission of respondent Atty.
participation as notary public thereby causing harm and injury to complainant, Atty. Mario J. Montalvan, if still existing, is REVOKED and he is DISQUALIFIED from being
Mario J. Montalvan’s Commission as Notary Public is hereby REVOKED and he is commissioned as notary public for a period of two (2) years. He is also SUSPENDED
hereby DISQUALIFIED from being appointed as Notary Public for two (2) years from from the practice of law for six (6) months effective immediately, with a WARNING
receipt of notice.4 that the repetition of a similar violation will be dealt with even more severely. He is
As culled from the evidence, Eulalio Zaballero died on May 31, 1992. However, further DIRECTED to report the date of his receipt of this Decision to the Court within
respondent notarized the document in question which purportedly contains the five (5) days from such receipt.
signature of Eulalio Zaballero on June 9, 1992, or a little more than a week after his Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal records of respondent as a
death. Part of the document is a notarial acknowledgment where respondent declared member of the Bar, and copies furnished the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the
that Eulalio Zaballero appeared before him and acknowledged that the instrument Philippines, and the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
was his free and voluntary act, but the fact was that he was already dead at that SO ORDERED.
time. Clearly, respondent "made an untruthful statement, thus violating Rule 10.01
of the Code of Professional Responsibility and his oath as a lawyer, which
unconditionally requires him not to do or declare any falsehood."5 A.C. No. 5921 March 10, 2006
Notarization is not an empty, meaningless and routine act. It is invested with such JUDGE UBALDINO A. LACUROM, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court,
substantial public interest, that only those who are qualified or authorized may act as Cabanatuan City, Branch 29 and Pairing Judge, Branch 30, Complainant, vs.
notaries public. Notarization of a private document converts the document into a ATTY. ELLIS F. JACOBA and ATTY. OLIVIA VELASCO-JACOBA, Respondents.
public one, making it admissible in court without further proof of its authenticity.6 CARPIO, J.:
Indeed, it creates real rights.7 The Case
Notaries public, therefore, should not authenticate documents unless the persons who This administrative case arose from a complaint filed on 22 October 2001 by Judge
signed thereon are the very same persons who executed and personally appeared Ubaldino A. Lacurom ("Judge Lacurom"), Pairing Judge, Regional Trial Court of
before them to attest to the contents and truth of what are stated therein.8 Notaries Cabanatuan City, Branch 30, against respondent-spouses Atty. Ellis F. Jacoba and
public must observe with utmost fidelity the basic requirements in the performance Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba ("respondents"). Complainant charged respondents with
of their duties. Otherwise, the confidence of the public in the integrity of notarized violation of Rules 11.03,1 11.04,2 and 19.013 of the Code of Professional
deeds would be undermined. Responsibility.
Respondent’s rationalization of the events surrounding the notarization of the Deed The Facts
Confirming a Previous Verbal Sale of Portion of Land dated October 17, 1991 is The Jacoba-Velasco-Jacoba Law Firm is counsel for plaintiff Alejandro R. Veneracion
preposterous. Worse, it reflects his utter disregard of his duties, as a notary public, ("Veneracion") in a civil case for unlawful detainer against defendant Federico
to comply with the required legal formalities in the execution of documents. Barrientos ("Barrientos").4 The Municipal Trial Court of Cabanatuan City rendered
Respondent was initially asked to notarize the subject document on October 17, 1991. judgment in favor of Veneracion but Barrientos appealed to the Regional Trial Court.
He alleged that the act was not completed for failure of Eulalio Zaballero to present The case was raffled to Branch 30 where Judge Lacurom was sitting as pairing judge.
his residence certificate. Eight (8) months after, the same document was presented On 29 June 2001, Judge Lacurom issued a Resolution ("Resolution") reversing the
to him, this time without Eulalio Zaballero. The circumstances should have put him earlier judgments rendered in favor of Veneracion.5 The dispositive portion reads:
on guard. Verily, the fact that Eulalio Zaballero previously appeared before him in WHEREFORE, this Court hereby REVERSES its Decision dated December 22, 2000, as
person does not justify, for instead it should have deterred him from proceeding with, well as REVERSES the Decision of the court a quo dated July 22, 1997.
the notarization of the document in question. Furthermore, the plaintiff-appellee Alejandro Veneracion is ordered to CEASE and
Worse, apart from resorting to prevarications respondent was inconsistent with DESIST from ejecting the defendant-appellant Federico Barrientos from the 1,000
himself. In the notarial acknowledgment, he attested that the party to the deed square meter homelot covered by TCT No. T-75274, and the smaller area of one
appeared before him on June 9, 1992 which is the date of acknowledgment. In his hundred forty-seven square meters, within the 1,000 sq.m. covered by TCT No. T-
comment,9 he stated that the party appeared before him on a different date, October 78613, and the house thereon standing covered by Tax Declaration No. 02006-01137,
17, 1991, which is the date of the document. Of course, the party could not have issued by the City Assessor of Cabanatuan City; and Barrientos is ordered to pay
appeared before him on June 9, 1992 because the party died on May 31, 1992. Veneracion P10,000.00 for the house covered by Tax Declaration No. 02006-01137.
Respondent, however, cannot be put to task for the alleged use of fake residence SO ORDERED.6
certificates and forged signatures. The records and the evidence adduced at the Veneracion’s counsel filed a Motion for Reconsideration (with Request for Inhibition)7
hearing simply do not bear out the charge. dated 30 July 2001 ("30 July 2001 motion"), pertinent portions of which read:
The remorseful attitude of respondent and his claim that he is a wheelchair-bound II. PREFATORY STATEMENT
invalid and depends solely on notarial service for his income,10 though deserving of This RESOLUTION of REVERSAL is an ABHORRENT NULLITY as it is entirely DEVOID
commiseration, are of no consequence. Still and all, the IBP’s recommendation to of factual and legal basis. It is a Legal MONSTROSITY in the sense that the Honorable
revoke respondent’s notarial commission and disqualify him from securing the same REGIONAL TRIAL COURT acted as if it were the DARAB (Dept. of Agrarian Reform
commission for two (2) years, if heeded, would not suffice to punish respondent for ADJUDICATION BOARD)! x x x HOW HORRIBLE and TERRIBLE! The mistakes are very
his offense. In the case of Ocampo v. Yrreverre,11 where a similarly contrite patent and glaring! x x x
respondent was found guilty of breach of the notarial law for notarizing a document xxxx
in the absence of the party-signatory, the Court did not only revoke his notarial III. GROUNDS FOR RECONSIDERATION
commission and disqualify him from being so commissioned for a period of two (2)
years, but also suspended him from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.
1. The Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge ERRED in Peremptorily and Suddenly xxxx
Reversing the Findings of the Lower Court Judge and the Regular RTC Presiding We most respectfully submit that plaintiff & counsel did not just fire a staccato of
Judge:1awph!l.net incisive and hard-hitting remarks, machine-gun style as to be called contumacious
x x x The defendant filed a Motion for Reconsideration, and after a very questionable and contemptuous. They were just articulating their feelings of shock, bewilderment
SHORT period of time, came this STUNNING and SUDDEN REVERSAL. Without any and disbelief at the sudden reversal of their good fortune, not driven by any desire to
legal or factual basis, the Hon. Pairing Judge simply and peremptorily REVERSED two just cast aspersions at the Honorable Pairing judge. They must believe that big
(2) decisions in favor of the plaintiff. This is highly questionable, if not suspicious, monumental errors deserve equally big adjectives, no more no less. x x x The matters
hence, this Motion for Reconsideration. involved were [neither] peripheral nor marginalized, and they had to call a spade a
xxxx spade. x x x14
[The Resolution] assumes FACTS that have not been established and presumes FACTS Nevertheless, Velasco-Jacoba expressed willingness to apologize "for whatever
not part of the records of the case, all "loaded" in favor of the alleged "TENANT." mistake [they] may have committed in a moment of unguarded discretion when
Clearly, the RESOLUTION is an INSULT to the Judiciary and an ANACHRONISM in the [they] may have ‘stepped on the line and gone out of bounds’." She also agreed to
Judicial Process. Need we say more? have the allegedly contemptuous phrases stricken off the record.15
xxxx On 13 September 2001, Judge Lacurom found Velasco-Jacoba guilty of contempt and
4. The Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge ERRED in Holding That the Defendant penalized her with imprisonment for five days and a fine of P1,000.16
is Entitled to a Homelot, and That the Residential LOT in Question is That Homelot: Velasco-Jacoba moved for reconsideration of the 13 September 2001 order. She
THIS ERROR IS STUPENDOUS and a real BONER. Where did the Honorable PAIRING recounted that on her way out of the house for an afternoon hearing, Atty. Ellis Jacoba
JUDGE base this conclusion? x x x This HORRENDOUS MISTAKE must be corrected ("Jacoba") stopped her and said "O, pirmahan mo na ito kasi last day na, baka
here and now! mahuli." (Sign this as it is due today, or it might not be filed on time.) She signed the
xxxx pleading handed to her without reading it, in "trusting blind faith" on her husband of
6. The Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge ERRED Grievously in Holding and 35 years with whom she "entrusted her whole life and future."17 This pleading turned
Declaring that The [court] A QUO Erroneously Took Cognizance of the Case and That out to be the 30 July 2001 motion which Jacoba drafted but could not sign because
It Had No Jurisdiction over the Subject-Matter: of his then suspension from the practice of law.18
Another HORRIBLE ERROR! Even an average Law Student knows that JURISDICTION Velasco-Jacoba lamented that Judge Lacurom had found her guilty of contempt
is determined by the averments of the COMPLAINT and not by the averments in the without conducting any hearing. She accused Judge Lacurom of harboring "a personal
answer! This is backed up by a Litany of Cases! vendetta," ordering her imprisonment despite her status as "senior lady lawyer of the
xxxx IBP Nueva Ecija Chapter, already a senior citizen, and a grandmother many times
7. FINALLY, the Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge Ridiculously ERRED in over."19 At any rate, she argued, Judge Lacurom should have inhibited himself from
Ordering the Defendant To Pay P10,000.00 to the Plaintiff As Payment for Plaintiff’s the case out of delicadeza because "[Veneracion] had already filed against him
HOUSE: criminal cases before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cabanatuan City and before
THIS IS the Last STRAW, but it is also the Best ILLUSTRATION of the Manifold the Ombudsman."20
GLARING ERRORS committed by the Hon. Pairing Court Judge. The records show that with the assistance of counsel Jacoba and the Jacoba-Velasco-
xxxx Jacoba Law Firm, Veneracion had executed an affidavit on 23 August 2001 accusing
This Order of the Court for the plaintiff to sell his RESIDENTIAL HOUSE to the Judge Lacurom of knowingly rendering unjust judgment through inexcusable
defendant for the ridiculously LOW price of P10,000.00 best illustrates the Long Line negligence and ignorance21 and violating
of Faulty reasonings and ERRONEOUS conclusions of the Hon. Pairing Court Presiding Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 ("RA 3019").22 The first charge became the
Judge. Like the proverbial MONSTER, the Monstrous Resolution should be slain on subject of a preliminary investigation23 by the City Prosecutor of Cabanatuan City.
sight!8 On the second charge, Veneracion set forth his allegations in a Complaint-Affidavit24
The 30 July 2001 motion prayed that (1) Judge Lacurom inhibit himself "in order to filed on 28 August 2001 with the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.
give plaintiff a fighting chance" and (2) the Resolution be reconsidered and set aside.9 Judge Lacurom issued another order on 21 September 2001, this time directing
Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba ("Velasco-Jacoba") signed the motion on behalf of the Jacoba to explain why he should not be held in contempt.25 Jacoba complied by filing
Jacoba-Velasco-Jacoba Law Firm. an Answer with Second Motion for Inhibition, wherein he denied that he typed or
On 6 August 2001, Judge Lacurom ordered Velasco-Jacoba to appear before his sala prepared the 30 July 2001 motion. Against Velasco-Jacoba’s statements implicating
and explain why she should not be held in contempt of court for the "very him, Jacoba invoked the marital privilege rule in evidence.26 Judge Lacurom later
disrespectful, insulting and humiliating" contents of the 30 July 2001 motion.10 In rendered a decision27 finding Jacoba guilty of contempt of court and sentencing him
her Explanation, Comments and Answer,11 Velasco-Jacoba claimed that "His Honor to pay a fine of P500.
knows beforehand who actually prepared the subject Motion; records will show that On 22 October 2001, Judge Lacurom filed the present complaint against respondents
the undersigned counsel did not actually or actively participate in this case."12 before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
Velasco-Jacoba disavowed any "conscious or deliberate intent to degrade the honor Report and Recommendation of the IBP
and integrity of the Honorable Court or to detract in any form from the respect that Respondents did not file an answer and neither did they appear at the hearing set by
is rightfully due all courts of justice."13 She rationalized as follows: IBP Commissioner Atty. Lydia A. Navarro ("IBP Commissioner Navarro") despite
x x x at first blush, [the motion] really appears to contain some sardonic, strident and sufficient notice.28
hard-striking adjectives. And, if we are to pick such stringent words at random and IBP Commissioner Navarro, in her Report and Recommendation of 10 October 2002,
bunch them together, side-by-side x x x then collectively and certainly they present recommended the suspension of respondents from the practice of law for six
a cacophonic picture of total and utter disrespect. x x x months.29 IBP Commissioner Navarro found that "respondents were prone to us[ing]
offensive and derogatory remarks and phrases which amounted to discourtesy and The signature of counsel constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading,
disrespect for authority."30 Although the remarks were not directed at Judge Lacurom that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief there is good ground to
personally, they were aimed at "his position as a judge, which is a smack on the support it, and that it is not interposed for delay.
judiciary system as a whole."31 x x x Counsel who x x x signs a pleading in violation of this Rule, or alleges scandalous
The IBP Board of Governors ("IBP Board") adopted IBP Commissioner Navarro’s or indecent matter therein x x x shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.
Report and Recommendation, except for the length of suspension which the IBP Board (Emphasis supplied)
reduced to three months.32 On 10 December 2002, the IBP Board transmitted its By signing the 30 July 2001 motion, Velasco-Jacoba in effect certified that she had
recommendation to this Court, together with the documents pertaining to the case. read it, she knew it to be meritorious, and it was not for the purpose of delaying the
Several days later, Velasco-Jacoba sought reconsideration of the IBP Board decision, case. Her signature supplied the motion with legal effect and elevated its status from
thus:33 a mere scrap of paper to that of a court document.
xxxx Velasco-Jacoba insists, however, that she signed the 30 July 2001 motion only
3. For the information of the Honorable Commission, the present complaint of Judge because of her husband’s request but she did not know its contents beforehand.
Lacurom is sub judice; the same issues involved in this case are raised before the Apparently, this practice of signing each other’s pleadings is a long-standing
Honorable Court of Appeals presently pending in CA-G.R. SP No. 66973 for Certiorari arrangement between the spouses. According to Velasco-Jacoba, "[s]o implicit is
and Mandatory Inhibition with TRO and Preliminary Injunction x x x; [their] trust for each other that this happens all the time. Through the years, [she]
4. We filed an Administrative Case against Judge Lacurom before the Supreme Court already lost count of the number of pleadings prepared by one that is signed by the
involving the same issues we raised in the aforementioned Certiorari case, which was other."38 By Velasco-Jacoba’s own admission, therefore, she violated Section 3 of
dismissed by the Supreme Court for being premature, in view of the pending Certiorari Rule 7. This violation is an act of falsehood before the courts, which in itself is a
case before the Court of Appeals; ground
5. In like manner, out of respect and deference to the Court of Appeals, the present for subjecting her to disciplinary action, independent of any other ground arising from
complaint should likewise be dismissed and/or suspended pending resolution of the the contents of the 30 July 2001 motion.39
certiorari case by the Court of Appeals.34 (Emphasis supplied) We now consider the evidence as regards Jacoba. His name does not appear in the
The Court’s Ruling 30 July 2001 motion. He asserts the inadmissibility of Velasco-Jacoba’s statement
On a preliminary note, we reject Velasco-Jacoba’s contention that the present pointing to him as the author of the motion.
complaint should be considered sub judice in view of the petition for certiorari and The Court cannot easily let Jacoba off the hook. Firstly, his Answer with Second Motion
mandatory inhibition with preliminary injunction ("petition for certiorari")35 filed for Inhibition did not contain a denial of his wife’s account. Instead, Jacoba impliedly
before the Court of Appeals. admitted authorship of the motion by stating that he "trained his guns and fired at
The petition for certiorari, instituted by Veneracion and Velasco-Jacoba on 4 October the errors which he perceived and believed to be gigantic and monumental."40
2001, seeks to nullify the following orders issued by Judge Lacurom in Civil Case No. Secondly, we find Velasco-Jacoba’s version of the facts more plausible, for two
2836: (1) the Orders dated 26 September 2001 and 9 November 2001 denying reasons: (1) her reaction to the events was immediate and spontaneous, unlike
respondents’ respective motions for inhibition; and (2) the 13 September 2001 Order Jacoba’s defense which was raised only after a considerable time had elapsed from
which found Velasco-Jacoba guilty of contempt. The petitioners allege that Judge the eruption of the controversy; and (2) Jacoba had been counsel of record for
Lacurom acted "with grave abuse of discretion [amounting] to lack of jurisdiction, in Veneracion in Civil Case No. 2836, supporting Velasco-Jacoba’s assertion that she had
violation of express provisions of the law and applicable decisions of the Supreme not "actually participate[d]" in the prosecution of the case.
Court."36 Moreover, Jacoba filed a Manifestation in Civil Case No. 2836, praying that Judge
Plainly, the issue before us is respondents’ liability under the Code of Professional Lacurom await the outcome of the petition for certiorari before deciding the contempt
Responsibility. The outcome of this case has no bearing on the resolution of the charge against him.41 This petition for certiorari anchors some of its arguments on
petition for certiorari, as there is neither identity of issues nor causes of action. the premise that the motion was, in fact, Jacoba’s handiwork.42
Neither should the Court’s dismissal of the administrative complaint against Judge The marital privilege rule, being a rule of evidence, may be waived by failure of the
Lacurom for being premature impel us to dismiss this complaint. Judge Lacurom’s claimant to object timely to its presentation or by any conduct that may be construed
orders in Civil Case No. 2836 could not be the subject of an administrative complaint as implied consent.43 This waiver applies to Jacoba who impliedly admitted
against him while a petition for certiorari assailing the same orders is pending with authorship of the 30 July 2001 motion.
an appellate court. Administrative remedies are neither alternative nor cumulative to The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
judicial review where such review is available to the aggrieved parties and the same Rule 11.03.—A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language
has not been resolved with finality. Until there is a final declaration that the challenged or behavior before the Courts.
order or judgment is manifestly erroneous, there will be no basis to conclude whether Rule 11.04.—A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the
the judge is administratively liable.37 record or have no materiality to the case.
The respondents are situated differently within the factual setting of this case. The No doubt, the language contained in the 30 July 2001 motion greatly exceeded the
corresponding implications of their actions also give rise to different liabilities. We vigor required of Jacoba to defend ably his client’s cause. We recall his use of the
first examine the charge against Velasco-Jacoba. following words and phrases: abhorrent nullity, legal monstrosity, horrendous
There is no dispute that the genuine signature of Velasco-Jacoba appears on the 30 mistake, horrible error, boner, and an insult to the judiciary and an anachronism in
July 2001 motion. Velasco-Jacoba’s responsibility as counsel is governed by Section the judicial process. Even Velasco-Jacoba acknowledged that the words created "a
3, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court: cacophonic picture of total and utter disrespect."44
SEC. 3.Signature and address.—Every pleading must be signed by the party or Respondents nonetheless try to exculpate themselves by saying that every remark in
counsel representing him x x x. the 30 July 2001 motion was warranted. We disagree.
Well-recognized is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, This is an appeal by petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court from a
to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of decision of the Court of Appeals.
courts and judges.45 However, even the most hardened judge would be scarred by Petitioner Jimmy T. Go raises the issue of whether or not his Notice of Appeal from
the scurrilous attack made by the 30 July 2001 motion on Judge Lacurom’s Resolution. the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) should be given due course despite
On its face, the Resolution presented the facts correctly and decided the case having been filed late.
according to supporting law and jurisprudence. Though a lawyer’s language may be The facts are not in dispute.
forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the On March 31, 1998, respondent International Exchange Bank (Bank) filed a Complaint
dignity of the legal profession.46 The use of unnecessary language is proscribed if we before the RTC of Makati 1 for Collection of a Sum of Money against petitioner and
are to promote high esteem in the courts and trust in judicial administration.47 Alberto T. Looyuko, docketed as Civil Case No. 98-791. The complaint alleged that
In maintaining the respect due to the courts, a lawyer is not merely enjoined to use the Bank opened a credit line in favor of Looyuko to which petitioner executed a
dignified language but also to pursue the client’s cause through fair and honest Surety Agreement binding himself solidarily for all debts incurred under the credit
means, thus: line. On various occasions, the defendants availed of the credit line to the total
Rule 19.01.—A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful amount of P98,000,000, as evidenced by eight (8) promissory notes co-signed by
objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to both defendants. When the debts became due, the Bank demanded that the
present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or defendants settle their obligations. The defendants, however, failed to pay, prompting
proceeding. the Bank to institute the case against them. 2
Shortly after the filing of the 30 July 2001 motion but before its resolution, Jacoba Petitioner, at the start of the proceedings and until the case was submitted for
assisted his client in instituting two administrative cases against Judge Lacurom. As decision, was represented by counsel, Atty. Ronald E. Javier. On October 7, 1999, the
we have earlier noted, Civil Case No. 2836 was then pending before Judge Lacurom’s RTC rendered a decision, finding petitioner and Looyuko jointly and severally liable to
sala. The Court’s attention is drawn to the fact that the timing of the filing of these the Bank for the amount of P96,000,000, plus interests and costs.3 The decision was
administrative cases could very well raise the suspicion that the cases were intended received by Atty. Javier, as counsel of record for petitioner, on October 20, 1999.
as leverage against Judge Lacurom. Prior to this receipt, however, the relationship had apparently turned sour for counsel
Respondent spouses have both been the subject of administrative cases before this and client. On September 30, 1999, Atty. Javier wrote to petitioner, informing the
Court. In Administrative Case No. 2594, we suspended Jacoba from the practice of latter that he was withdrawing his services as counsel. Petitioner, however, formally
law for a period of six months because of "his failure to file an action for the recovery released Atty. Javier only on October 29, 1999 through a Notice of Termination 4
of possession of property despite the lapse of two and a half years from receipt by attached as Annex "A" to the "Entry of Appearance," filed with the RTC on November
him of P550 which his client gave him as filing and sheriff’s fees."48 In Administrative 5, 1999 by petitioner’s new counsel, Atty. Gregorio D. Caneda, Jr.
Case No. 5505, Jacoba was once again found remiss in his duties when he failed to On November 5, 1999, petitioner, now represented by Atty. Caneda, Jr., filed a Motion
file the appellant’s brief, resulting in the dismissal of his client’s appeal. We imposed for Reconsideration of the October 7, 1999 decision.5 When the RTC denied the
the penalty of one year suspension.49 motion,6 petitioner through his new lawyer filed a Notice of Appeal7 on November 5,
As for Velasco-Jacoba, only recently this Court fined her P5,000 for appearing in 1999. On February 8, 2000, the RTC issued an Order8 denying the Notice of Appeal
barangay conciliation proceedings on behalf of a party, knowing fully well the on the ground that the reglementary period had already expired on November 4,
prohibition contained in Section 415 of the Local Government Code.50 1999, or one day before petitioner filed his Notice of Appeal, considering that the
In these cases, the Court sternly warned respondents that a repetition of similar acts Registry Return Card showed that Atty. Ronald Javier received a copy of the decision
would merit a stiffer penalty. Yet, here again we are faced with the question of on October 20, 1999. The decision having become final and executory, upon motion
whether respondents have conducted themselves with the courtesy and candor by the Bank, the RTC ordered the issuance of a Writ of Execution against petitioner.9
required of them as members of the bar and officers of the court. We find respondents On March 6, 2000, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus
to have fallen short of the mark. under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with the Court of Appeals to assail the denial of
WHEREFORE, we SUSPEND Atty. Ellis F. Jacoba from the practice of law for two (2) the Motion for Reconsideration and the Notice of Appeal and the granting of the
years effective upon finality of this Decision. We also SUSPEND Atty. Olivia Velasco- issuance of a Writ of Execution. 10 Petitioner claims that he should not be bound by
Jacoba from the practice of law for two (2) months effective upon finality of this the receipt of the decision by Atty. Javier who was no longer his counsel when the
Decision. We STERNLY WARN respondentsthat a repetition of the same or similar latter received the decision.
infraction shall merit a more severe sanction. On May 15, 2000, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision that denied the petition
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended for lack of merit. 11 The appellate court held that the reglementary period to file the
to respondents’ personal records as attorneys; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; appeal began to run when Atty. Javier, who was still counsel of record as far as the
and all courts in the country for their information and guidance. RTC was concerned, received a copy of the decision on October 20, 1999, giving
SO ORDERED. petitioner until November 4, 1999 within which to file his appeal or motion for
reconsideration. It ruled that petitioner filed his Motion for Reconsideration a day after
the period to file had lapsed, so that he had already lost his right to appeal from the
G.R. No. 145213 March 28, 2006 decision.
JIMMY T. GO a.k.a. JAIME T. GAISANO, Petitioner, vs. HON. ZEUS C. ABROGAR, Petitioner is now before this Court on a Petition for Review by Certiorari under Rule
in his capacity as Presiding Judge of REGIONAL TRIAL COURT Branch 150, 45 of the Rules of Court to reverse the denial of his Petition for Certiorari by the Court
Makati, and INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE BANK, Respondents. of Appeals. Petitioner argues that he should be given a new trial as his former counsel,
AZCUNA, J.: Atty. Javier, was grossly negligent in the handling of his case and that he has a
meritorious defense.
The Court finds the petition without merit. It should be noted that the assailed conformed to the writ of execution; 3) Atty. Javier neglected his case and continued
decision was decided by the Court of Appeals under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. To to represent Looyuko in other cases; 4) Looyuko supported the Motion to Cite
be granted relief under a special civil action, it must be convincingly proven that the petitioner for contempt that was filed by the Bank; and, 5) Judge Abrogar was once
court a quo committed grave abuse of discretion, or an act constituting a patent and an assistant fiscal under then Manila City Fiscal Atty. Flaminiano.
gross evasion of a duty, or a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act in Petitioner’s particular attack against an RTC Judge is a serious accusation that erodes
contemplation of law, or that the trial court exercised its powers in an arbitrary and trust and confidence in our judicial system. This Court will not hesitate to sanction
despotic manner by reason of passion and personal hostility. 12 Bearing this standard persons who recklessly and nonchalantly impute ill motives that are nothing more
in mind, the Court finds no error in the denial of the petition by the Court of Appeals than unfounded speculations. The above "suspicious" circumstances enumerated,
as there was no showing that the RTC had gravely abused its discretion or whimsically whether taken together or separately, are plainly unjustified as they fail to even
exercised its judgment. The Court agrees with the RTC and the Court of Appeals that remotely show the existence of a grand conspiracy against petitioner. For all their
the decision was properly mailed to Atty. Javier as he was still counsel of record. His derogatory implication, they are clearly unsubstantiated and disrespectful to a
receipt of the decision on October 20, 1999 is, therefore, the starting point from which member of the Bench.
to count the 15-day reglementary period. The RTC, therefore, correctly dismissed the The Court is also dismayed that such baseless attacks were assisted by counsel, who
Notice of Appeal that was filed late. is an officer of the court. Under Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
Moreover, under Section 26 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, an attorney may A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE AND MAINTAIN RESPECT DUE TO THE COURTS AND TO
withdraw his representation by written consent of his client filed in court. Otherwise, JUDICIAL OFFICERS. In particular, he shall not attribute to a judge motives not
notice and hearing on the withdrawal are necessary. Therefore, even if Atty. Javier supported by the records or by evidence. A lawyer should submit grievances against
had already written a letter to petitioner withdrawing his services as counsel, it did a Judge to the proper authorities only. Atty. Caneda, Jr. should have known better
not become effective until after the submission by petitioner of the letter officially than to permit the irresponsible and unsupported claim against Judge Abrogar to be
terminating Atty. Javier’s services on October 29, 1999. In fact, petitioner even stated included in the pleadings. Allowing such statements to be made is against a lawyer’s
in the letter that his termination of Atty. Javier’s services was effective only beginning oath of office and goes against the Code of Professional Responsibility. Petitioner
October 29, 1999. 13 This constitutes an admission by petitioner that when Atty. Javier Jimmy T. Go and Atty. Gregorio D. Caneda, Jr. are STRICTLY WARNED not to make
received the decision, he was still considered by petitioner as his counsel. disrespectful statements against a Judge without basis in the records or the evidence.
Petitioner also argues that he should not be bound by the acts of Atty. Javier whom WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals dated
he claimed was grossly negligent in the handling of his case, even to the extent of May 15, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 57572 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
calling him incompetent or that his actions were intentionally done. This argument SO ORDERED.
has already been discredited as Atty. Javier was absolved of all negligence in
connection with the case by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), after
conducting an investigation upon a complaint filed by petitioner himself. 14 The IBP A.C. No. 5921 March 10, 2006
furnished this Court a copy of the resolution dismissing the complaint which the Court JUDGE UBALDINO A. LACUROM, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court,
noted in a Resolution dated May 8, 2002 and thereafter the Court declared the case Cabanatuan City, Branch 29 and Pairing Judge, Branch 30, Complainant, vs.
closed and terminated. Considering that petitioner’s contention is that he should not ATTY. ELLIS F. JACOBA and ATTY. OLIVIA VELASCO-JACOBA, Respondents.
be made to suffer the consequences of his counsel’s negligence, his argument has no CARPIO, J.:
leg to stand on since Atty. Javier was declared not negligent in the first place. The Case
Even on the merits, the Court finds no substantial reason to reverse the RTC’s decision This administrative case arose from a complaint filed on 22 October 2001 by Judge
finding petitioner liable solidarily with Looyuko to the Bank. There was no denying Ubaldino A. Lacurom ("Judge Lacurom"), Pairing Judge, Regional Trial Court of
that he had signed the promissory notes as a co-maker and that he executed a Surety Cabanatuan City, Branch 30, against respondent-spouses Atty. Ellis F. Jacoba and
Agreement. Petitioner argues that the parties had actually intended their liabilities to Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba ("respondents"). Complainant charged respondents with
be joint and that he has evidence to prove that his liability was less than what the violation of Rules 11.03,1 11.04,2 and 19.013 of the Code of Professional
RTC declared him liable for. Petitioner’s liability is largely a factual assessment that Responsibility.
has been thoroughly and extensively passed upon by the RTC and should not be The Facts
disturbed on appeal.15 The Jacoba-Velasco-Jacoba Law Firm is counsel for plaintiff Alejandro R. Veneracion
Before closing, the Court has a few observations regarding the conduct of petitioner ("Veneracion") in a civil case for unlawful detainer against defendant Federico
and his counsel in this case. The petitioner alleges that: Barrientos ("Barrientos").4 The Municipal Trial Court of Cabanatuan City rendered
Now it can be told, that the fishy and suspicious actuations of Atty. Javier was done judgment in favor of Veneracion but Barrientos appealed to the Regional Trial Court.
for the sole purpose of making sure that Jimmy T. Go will lose his case. With due The case was raffled to Branch 30 where Judge Lacurom was sitting as pairing judge.
respect, to our mind, it can even be said that the respondent IBank and its counsel On 29 June 2001, Judge Lacurom issued a Resolution ("Resolution") reversing the
Atty. Benedicto Valerio, Alberto Looyuko, petitioner’s nemesis against whom he earlier judgments rendered in favor of Veneracion.5 The dispositive portion reads:
initiated several cases, and Looyuko’s counsel Atty. Flaminiano, the Honorable WHEREFORE, this Court hereby REVERSES its Decision dated December 22, 2000, as
Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 150 Zeuz Abrogar well as REVERSES the Decision of the court a quo dated July 22, 1997.
and Petitioner’s negligent counsel Atty. Javier are in cahoots with one another in their Furthermore, the plaintiff-appellee Alejandro Veneracion is ordered to CEASE and
common objective to pin down Mr. Jimmy T. Go. Our apprehension is not without DESIST from ejecting the defendant-appellant Federico Barrientos from the 1,000
basis, consider the following: x x x16 square meter homelot covered by TCT No. T-75274, and the smaller area of one
Petitioner thereafter goes on to state the basis for his accusations against everyone hundred forty-seven square meters, within the 1,000 sq.m. covered by TCT No. T-
connected to the case: 17 1) Looyuko had withdrawn his appeal; 2) Atty. Flaminiano 78613, and the house thereon standing covered by Tax Declaration No. 02006-01137,
issued by the City Assessor of Cabanatuan City; and Barrientos is ordered to pay On 6 August 2001, Judge Lacurom ordered Velasco-Jacoba to appear before his sala
Veneracion P10,000.00 for the house covered by Tax Declaration No. 02006-01137. and explain why she should not be held in contempt of court for the "very
SO ORDERED.6 disrespectful, insulting and humiliating" contents of the 30 July 2001 motion.10 In
Veneracion’s counsel filed a Motion for Reconsideration (with Request for Inhibition)7 her Explanation, Comments and Answer,11 Velasco-Jacoba claimed that "His Honor
dated 30 July 2001 ("30 July 2001 motion"), pertinent portions of which read: knows beforehand who actually prepared the subject Motion; records will show that
II. PREFATORY STATEMENT the undersigned counsel did not actually or actively participate in this case."12
This RESOLUTION of REVERSAL is an ABHORRENT NULLITY as it is entirely DEVOID Velasco-Jacoba disavowed any "conscious or deliberate intent to degrade the honor
of factual and legal basis. It is a Legal MONSTROSITY in the sense that the Honorable and integrity of the Honorable Court or to detract in any form from the respect that
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT acted as if it were the DARAB (Dept. of Agrarian Reform is rightfully due all courts of justice."13 She rationalized as follows:
ADJUDICATION BOARD)! x x x HOW HORRIBLE and TERRIBLE! The mistakes are very x x x at first blush, [the motion] really appears to contain some sardonic, strident and
patent and glaring! x x x hard-striking adjectives. And, if we are to pick such stringent words at random and
xxxx bunch them together, side-by-side x x x then collectively and certainly they present
III. GROUNDS FOR RECONSIDERATION a cacophonic picture of total and utter disrespect. x x x
1. The Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge ERRED in Peremptorily and Suddenly xxxx
Reversing the Findings of the Lower Court Judge and the Regular RTC Presiding We most respectfully submit that plaintiff & counsel did not just fire a staccato of
Judge:1awph!l.net incisive and hard-hitting remarks, machine-gun style as to be called contumacious
x x x The defendant filed a Motion for Reconsideration, and after a very questionable and contemptuous. They were just articulating their feelings of shock, bewilderment
SHORT period of time, came this STUNNING and SUDDEN REVERSAL. Without any and disbelief at the sudden reversal of their good fortune, not driven by any desire to
legal or factual basis, the Hon. Pairing Judge simply and peremptorily REVERSED two just cast aspersions at the Honorable Pairing judge. They must believe that big
(2) decisions in favor of the plaintiff. This is highly questionable, if not suspicious, monumental errors deserve equally big adjectives, no more no less. x x x The matters
hence, this Motion for Reconsideration. involved were [neither] peripheral nor marginalized, and they had to call a spade a
xxxx spade. x x x14
[The Resolution] assumes FACTS that have not been established and presumes FACTS Nevertheless, Velasco-Jacoba expressed willingness to apologize "for whatever
not part of the records of the case, all "loaded" in favor of the alleged "TENANT." mistake [they] may have committed in a moment of unguarded discretion when
Clearly, the RESOLUTION is an INSULT to the Judiciary and an ANACHRONISM in the [they] may have ‘stepped on the line and gone out of bounds’." She also agreed to
Judicial Process. Need we say more? have the allegedly contemptuous phrases stricken off the record.15
xxxx On 13 September 2001, Judge Lacurom found Velasco-Jacoba guilty of contempt and
4. The Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge ERRED in Holding That the Defendant penalized her with imprisonment for five days and a fine of P1,000.16
is Entitled to a Homelot, and That the Residential LOT in Question is That Homelot: Velasco-Jacoba moved for reconsideration of the 13 September 2001 order. She
THIS ERROR IS STUPENDOUS and a real BONER. Where did the Honorable PAIRING recounted that on her way out of the house for an afternoon hearing, Atty. Ellis Jacoba
JUDGE base this conclusion? x x x This HORRENDOUS MISTAKE must be corrected ("Jacoba") stopped her and said "O, pirmahan mo na ito kasi last day na, baka
here and now! mahuli." (Sign this as it is due today, or it might not be filed on time.) She signed the
xxxx pleading handed to her without reading it, in "trusting blind faith" on her husband of
6. The Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge ERRED Grievously in Holding and 35 years with whom she "entrusted her whole life and future."17 This pleading turned
Declaring that The [court] A QUO Erroneously Took Cognizance of the Case and That out to be the 30 July 2001 motion which Jacoba drafted but could not sign because
It Had No Jurisdiction over the Subject-Matter: of his then suspension from the practice of law.18
Another HORRIBLE ERROR! Even an average Law Student knows that JURISDICTION Velasco-Jacoba lamented that Judge Lacurom had found her guilty of contempt
is determined by the averments of the COMPLAINT and not by the averments in the without conducting any hearing. She accused Judge Lacurom of harboring "a personal
answer! This is backed up by a Litany of Cases! vendetta," ordering her imprisonment despite her status as "senior lady lawyer of the
xxxx IBP Nueva Ecija Chapter, already a senior citizen, and a grandmother many times
7. FINALLY, the Honorable Pairing Court Presiding Judge Ridiculously ERRED in over."19 At any rate, she argued, Judge Lacurom should have inhibited himself from
Ordering the Defendant To Pay P10,000.00 to the Plaintiff As Payment for Plaintiff’s the case out of delicadeza because "[Veneracion] had already filed against him
HOUSE: criminal cases before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cabanatuan City and before
THIS IS the Last STRAW, but it is also the Best ILLUSTRATION of the Manifold the Ombudsman."20
GLARING ERRORS committed by the Hon. Pairing Court Judge. The records show that with the assistance of counsel Jacoba and the Jacoba-Velasco-
xxxx Jacoba Law Firm, Veneracion had executed an affidavit on 23 August 2001 accusing
This Order of the Court for the plaintiff to sell his RESIDENTIAL HOUSE to the Judge Lacurom of knowingly rendering unjust judgment through inexcusable
defendant for the ridiculously LOW price of P10,000.00 best illustrates the Long Line negligence and ignorance21 and violating
of Faulty reasonings and ERRONEOUS conclusions of the Hon. Pairing Court Presiding Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 ("RA 3019").22 The first charge became the
Judge. Like the proverbial MONSTER, the Monstrous Resolution should be slain on subject of a preliminary investigation23 by the City Prosecutor of Cabanatuan City.
sight!8 On the second charge, Veneracion set forth his allegations in a Complaint-Affidavit24
The 30 July 2001 motion prayed that (1) Judge Lacurom inhibit himself "in order to filed on 28 August 2001 with the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.
give plaintiff a fighting chance" and (2) the Resolution be reconsidered and set aside.9 Judge Lacurom issued another order on 21 September 2001, this time directing
Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba ("Velasco-Jacoba") signed the motion on behalf of the Jacoba to explain why he should not be held in contempt.25 Jacoba complied by filing
Jacoba-Velasco-Jacoba Law Firm. an Answer with Second Motion for Inhibition, wherein he denied that he typed or
prepared the 30 July 2001 motion. Against Velasco-Jacoba’s statements implicating an appellate court. Administrative remedies are neither alternative nor cumulative to
him, Jacoba invoked the marital privilege rule in evidence.26 Judge Lacurom later judicial review where such review is available to the aggrieved parties and the same
rendered a decision27 finding Jacoba guilty of contempt of court and sentencing him has not been resolved with finality. Until there is a final declaration that the challenged
to pay a fine of P500. order or judgment is manifestly erroneous, there will be no basis to conclude whether
On 22 October 2001, Judge Lacurom filed the present complaint against respondents the judge is administratively liable.37
before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). The respondents are situated differently within the factual setting of this case. The
Report and Recommendation of the IBP corresponding implications of their actions also give rise to different liabilities. We
Respondents did not file an answer and neither did they appear at the hearing set by first examine the charge against Velasco-Jacoba.
IBP Commissioner Atty. Lydia A. Navarro ("IBP Commissioner Navarro") despite There is no dispute that the genuine signature of Velasco-Jacoba appears on the 30
sufficient notice.28 July 2001 motion. Velasco-Jacoba’s responsibility as counsel is governed by Section
IBP Commissioner Navarro, in her Report and Recommendation of 10 October 2002, 3, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court:
recommended the suspension of respondents from the practice of law for six SEC. 3.Signature and address.—Every pleading must be signed by the party or
months.29 IBP Commissioner Navarro found that "respondents were prone to us[ing] counsel representing him x x x.
offensive and derogatory remarks and phrases which amounted to discourtesy and The signature of counsel constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading,
disrespect for authority."30 Although the remarks were not directed at Judge Lacurom that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief there is good ground to
personally, they were aimed at "his position as a judge, which is a smack on the support it, and that it is not interposed for delay.
judiciary system as a whole."31 x x x Counsel who x x x signs a pleading in violation of this Rule, or alleges scandalous
The IBP Board of Governors ("IBP Board") adopted IBP Commissioner Navarro’s or indecent matter therein x x x shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.
Report and Recommendation, except for the length of suspension which the IBP Board (Emphasis supplied)
reduced to three months.32 On 10 December 2002, the IBP Board transmitted its By signing the 30 July 2001 motion, Velasco-Jacoba in effect certified that she had
recommendation to this Court, together with the documents pertaining to the case. read it, she knew it to be meritorious, and it was not for the purpose of delaying the
Several days later, Velasco-Jacoba sought reconsideration of the IBP Board decision, case. Her signature supplied the motion with legal effect and elevated its status from
thus:33 a mere scrap of paper to that of a court document.
xxxx Velasco-Jacoba insists, however, that she signed the 30 July 2001 motion only
3. For the information of the Honorable Commission, the present complaint of Judge because of her husband’s request but she did not know its contents beforehand.
Lacurom is sub judice; the same issues involved in this case are raised before the Apparently, this practice of signing each other’s pleadings is a long-standing
Honorable Court of Appeals presently pending in CA-G.R. SP No. 66973 for Certiorari arrangement between the spouses. According to Velasco-Jacoba, "[s]o implicit is
and Mandatory Inhibition with TRO and Preliminary Injunction x x x; [their] trust for each other that this happens all the time. Through the years, [she]
4. We filed an Administrative Case against Judge Lacurom before the Supreme Court already lost count of the number of pleadings prepared by one that is signed by the
involving the same issues we raised in the aforementioned Certiorari case, which was other."38 By Velasco-Jacoba’s own admission, therefore, she violated Section 3 of
dismissed by the Supreme Court for being premature, in view of the pending Certiorari Rule 7. This violation is an act of falsehood before the courts, which in itself is a
case before the Court of Appeals; ground
5. In like manner, out of respect and deference to the Court of Appeals, the present for subjecting her to disciplinary action, independent of any other ground arising from
complaint should likewise be dismissed and/or suspended pending resolution of the the contents of the 30 July 2001 motion.39
certiorari case by the Court of Appeals.34 (Emphasis supplied) We now consider the evidence as regards Jacoba. His name does not appear in the
The Court’s Ruling 30 July 2001 motion. He asserts the inadmissibility of Velasco-Jacoba’s statement
On a preliminary note, we reject Velasco-Jacoba’s contention that the present pointing to him as the author of the motion.
complaint should be considered sub judice in view of the petition for certiorari and The Court cannot easily let Jacoba off the hook. Firstly, his Answer with Second Motion
mandatory inhibition with preliminary injunction ("petition for certiorari")35 filed for Inhibition did not contain a denial of his wife’s account. Instead, Jacoba impliedly
before the Court of Appeals. admitted authorship of the motion by stating that he "trained his guns and fired at
The petition for certiorari, instituted by Veneracion and Velasco-Jacoba on 4 October the errors which he perceived and believed to be gigantic and monumental."40
2001, seeks to nullify the following orders issued by Judge Lacurom in Civil Case No. Secondly, we find Velasco-Jacoba’s version of the facts more plausible, for two
2836: (1) the Orders dated 26 September 2001 and 9 November 2001 denying reasons: (1) her reaction to the events was immediate and spontaneous, unlike
respondents’ respective motions for inhibition; and (2) the 13 September 2001 Order Jacoba’s defense which was raised only after a considerable time had elapsed from
which found Velasco-Jacoba guilty of contempt. The petitioners allege that Judge the eruption of the controversy; and (2) Jacoba had been counsel of record for
Lacurom acted "with grave abuse of discretion [amounting] to lack of jurisdiction, in Veneracion in Civil Case No. 2836, supporting Velasco-Jacoba’s assertion that she had
violation of express provisions of the law and applicable decisions of the Supreme not "actually participate[d]" in the prosecution of the case.
Court."36 Moreover, Jacoba filed a Manifestation in Civil Case No. 2836, praying that Judge
Plainly, the issue before us is respondents’ liability under the Code of Professional Lacurom await the outcome of the petition for certiorari before deciding the contempt
Responsibility. The outcome of this case has no bearing on the resolution of the charge against him.41 This petition for certiorari anchors some of its arguments on
petition for certiorari, as there is neither identity of issues nor causes of action. the premise that the motion was, in fact, Jacoba’s handiwork.42
Neither should the Court’s dismissal of the administrative complaint against Judge The marital privilege rule, being a rule of evidence, may be waived by failure of the
Lacurom for being premature impel us to dismiss this complaint. Judge Lacurom’s claimant to object timely to its presentation or by any conduct that may be construed
orders in Civil Case No. 2836 could not be the subject of an administrative complaint as implied consent.43 This waiver applies to Jacoba who impliedly admitted
against him while a petition for certiorari assailing the same orders is pending with authorship of the 30 July 2001 motion.
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: Decision. We STERNLY WARN respondentsthat a repetition of the same or similar
Rule 11.03.—A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language infraction shall merit a more severe sanction.
or behavior before the Courts. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended
Rule 11.04.—A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the to respondents’ personal records as attorneys; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines;
record or have no materiality to the case. and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.
No doubt, the language contained in the 30 July 2001 motion greatly exceeded the SO ORDERED.
vigor required of Jacoba to defend ably his client’s cause. We recall his use of the
following words and phrases: abhorrent nullity, legal monstrosity, horrendous
mistake, horrible error, boner, and an insult to the judiciary and an anachronism in G.R. No. 157824 January 17, 2005
the judicial process. Even Velasco-Jacoba acknowledged that the words created "a WAINWRIGHT RIVERA, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE ASSOCIATE JUSTICES of
cacophonic picture of total and utter disrespect."44 the FOURTH DIVISION, SANDIGANBAYAN RODOLFO PALATTAO, GREGORY
Respondents nonetheless try to exculpate themselves by saying that every remark in ONG, MA. CRISTINA CORTEZ-ESTRADA and PROSECUTORS JOHN I.C.
the 30 July 2001 motion was warranted. We disagree. TURALBA, ORLANDO I. INES, JAIME C. BLANCAFLOR, ROSALYN M. LOJA of
Well-recognized is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, the OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTORS/OMBUDSMAN, respondents.
to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of CALLEJO, SR., J.:
courts and judges.45 However, even the most hardened judge would be scarred by This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for the nullification
the scurrilous attack made by the 30 July 2001 motion on Judge Lacurom’s Resolution. of the December 17, 2002 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan in People v. Amado S.
On its face, the Resolution presented the facts correctly and decided the case Lagdameo, Jr., Wainwright Rivera, et al., and its February 11, 2003 Order, denying
according to supporting law and jurisprudence. Though a lawyer’s language may be the motion for reconsideration thereof.
forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the The Antecedents
dignity of the legal profession.46 The use of unnecessary language is proscribed if we On May 19, 1998, an Amended Information was filed with the Sandiganbayan
are to promote high esteem in the courts and trust in judicial administration.47 charging Justiniano Montano IV, John Doe and Peter Doe with violation of Republic
In maintaining the respect due to the courts, a lawyer is not merely enjoined to use Act No. 3019. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 24642. The accusatory
dignified language but also to pursue the client’s cause through fair and honest portion reads:
means, thus: That, on or about May 31, 1995, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Manila
Rule 19.01.—A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused
objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to Justiniano Montano IV, a public officer, being then the Deputy General Manager for
present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or Special Projects of Public Estate Authority (PEA), conspiring, confederating and
proceeding. cooperating with John Doe, Peter Doe, officials of the Philippine Government, whose
Shortly after the filing of the 30 July 2001 motion but before its resolution, Jacoba identities are yet to be established, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
assisted his client in instituting two administrative cases against Judge Lacurom. As criminally receive from Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation (AMARI), the
we have earlier noted, Civil Case No. 2836 was then pending before Judge Lacurom’s amount of ₱6.25 million in consideration for a favorable action on the Joint Venture
sala. The Court’s attention is drawn to the fact that the timing of the filing of these Agreement between PEA and AMARI, a transaction in which they had intervened in
administrative cases could very well raise the suspicion that the cases were intended their official capacities.
as leverage against Judge Lacurom. CONTRARY TO LAW.1
Respondent spouses have both been the subject of administrative cases before this Another Amended Information was later filed with the Sandiganbayan charging
Court. In Administrative Case No. 2594, we suspended Jacoba from the practice of Amado S. Lagdameo, Jr., Wainwright Rivera, et al. with violation of Rep. Act No. 3019,
law for a period of six months because of "his failure to file an action for the recovery docketed as Criminal Case No. 24643. The accusatory portion of the Information
of possession of property despite the lapse of two and a half years from receipt by reads:
him of P550 which his client gave him as filing and sheriff’s fees."48 In Administrative That on or about April 25, 1995, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Manila
Case No. 5505, Jacoba was once again found remiss in his duties when he failed to City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
file the appellant’s brief, resulting in the dismissal of his client’s appeal. We imposed accused Amado S. Lagdameo, Jr., Wainwright R. Rivera, Arturo Q. Trinidad, Gregorio
the penalty of one year suspension.49 B. Fider, Marylou C. Ventura, Justiniano Montano IV, Theron V. Lacson, Manuel R.
As for Velasco-Jacoba, only recently this Court fined her P5,000 for appearing in Berina and Oscar I. Garcia, being then the General Manager of Public Estate Authority
barangay conciliation proceedings on behalf of a party, knowing fully well the (PEA), Chairman, Board of Directors, Deputy General Managers and Chief, Office of
prohibition contained in Section 415 of the Local Government Code.50 the Government Corporate Counsel, respectively, while in the performance of their
In these cases, the Court sternly warned respondents that a repetition of similar acts respective official functions and acting with evident bad faith, conspiring,
would merit a stiffer penalty. Yet, here again we are faced with the question of confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully,
whether respondents have conducted themselves with the courtesy and candor unlawfully and criminal give Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation (AMARI),
required of them as members of the bar and officers of the court. We find respondents undue advantage, benefits and preference by entering into and confirming the Joint
to have fallen short of the mark. Venture Agreement with Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation (AMARI), dated
WHEREFORE, we SUSPEND Atty. Ellis F. Jacoba from the practice of law for two (2) April 25, 1995 and its supplement, dated August 9, 1995, a contract which is grossly
years effective upon finality of this Decision. We also SUSPEND Atty. Olivia Velasco- disadvantageous to the government.
Jacoba from the practice of law for two (2) months effective upon finality of this CONTRARY TO LAW.2
The graft court ordered a consolidation of the two cases. During the arraignment, the prosecution then filed a Manifestation with Prayer for Partial Reconsideration dated
accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. After the pre-trial in both cases, the January 10, 2002 of the Sandiganbayan’s October 29, 2001 Resolution.l^vvphi1.net
prosecution commenced presenting its testimonial evidence on November 27, 2000. The accused Rivera, Lagdameo and Oscar Garcia opposed the motion.11
By September 27, 2001, the prosecution had already presented fourteen (14) On February 7, 2002, the Sandiganbayan resolved to deny the motion to file formal
witnesses on its evidence-in-chief.3 During trial on even date, the prosecution offer of evidence in Crim. Case No. 24643.12
manifested that it had no more witnesses to present, and prayed for a period of On February 27, 2002, the graft court issued a Resolution13 denying the motion of the
twenty (20) days within which to file its formal offer of documentary evidence. The Prosecutor on the ground that such motion was a proscribed second motion for
4th Division of the Sandiganbayan granted the motion. It also granted the accused a reconsideration and that no cogent reason was cited to set aside its October 29, 2001
period of fifteen (15) days from service of the said formal offer of evidence within Resolution. The Sandiganbayan gave the prosecutor seven (7) days from notice of
which to file their comment thereon.4 The Sandiganbayan set the trial for the accused said resolution within which to file the said formal offer of evidence in Criminal Case
to adduce their evidence at 8:30 a.m. of December 3, December 5 and December 11, No. 24643. It also warned the prosecution that the failure to file the formal offer of
2001.5 evidence on or before the deadline shall be considered as a waiver of its right to do
Instead of filing its formal offer of evidence on or before October 17, 2001, the so. The prosecution received a copy the Resolution dated February 27, 2002 on March
prosecution filed an "Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and Motion for Issuance of 5, 2002.
Subpoena" on October 22, 2001.6 The prosecution alleged that, after a serious study During the trial of March 6, 2002, the prosecutor opted not to present any witness,
of the facts and the evidence, it found it imperative to withdraw its oral manifestation in view of graft court’s denial of its January 10, 2002 Motion for Partial
that it had no more witness to present which was made during the trial of September Reconsideration. The court then issued an Order14 granting the motion of the
27, 2001, and prayed that it be allowed to adduce additional testimonial and prosecution for a resetting of the trial to May 4, 2002, and the filing of its formal offer
documentary evidence from the following banks: of evidence.
UCPB - Binondo Branch On March 11, 2002, the prosecution filed a Manifestation with Motion for
Far East Bank – Binondo Branch Reconsideration of the Sandiganbayan’s October 29, 2001 Order, alleging that:
Solid Bank – Binondo Branch 3. Indeed, on March 5, instant, the representatives of the bank appeared and
Metrobank – Arranque Branch confirmed with the Prosecutors, the deposit of such checks which were previously
Allied Bank – Binondo Branch marked in evidence by the prosecution;
The prosecution then prayed that the Sandiganbayan reconsider and set aside its 4. With particular reference to Citibank Check No. 278607 in the name of KDM Realty
previous Order issued in open court on September 27, 2001, mandating the and Development Corporation reflecting the amount of ₱25,000,000.00, and already
prosecution to formally offer its evidence; and, instead, allow it to present additional marked Exhibit "ZZZ" for the Prosecution, the representative of the Philippine National
witnesses, more specifically the Branch Managers of the five banks, to testify on the Bank submitted the microfilm of said check together with the Corporate Secretary’s
checks and/or documents enumerated therein and to offer the same in evidence.7 Certificate of KDM Realty and Development Corporation showing the names of the
Accused Lagdameo and Gregorio Fider opposed the motion of the prosecution. In an officers of the corporation who are allowed to withdraw the deposits with said bank;
Order8 dated October 29, 2001 promulgated on December 12, 2001, the graft court 5. Significantly, the President and General Manager of KDM Realty and Development
granted the motion of the prosecution in Criminal Case No. 24642, but denied the Corporation in 1994 was EDUARDO G. CASTELO who signed as a witness together
said motion in Criminal Case No. 24643. In the latter case, the court granted the with Mr. THERON V. LACSON who is one of the accused in CC#24643, in the Joint
prosecution seven (7) days within which to formally offer its documentary evidence. Venture Agreement (JVA) between AMARI then represented by Emmanuel Sy and
The dispositive portion of the Order reads: Public Estates Authority then represented by Amado S. Lagdameo, Jr., also one of the
WHEREFORE, the prosecution’s Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration dated October accused in Criminal Case No. 24643, the photocopy of the last page of the JVA is
16, 2001, is hereby partially granted, hereby amending the Resolution of September hereto attached as Annex "A;"
27, 2001, such that the evidence in chief for the prosecution in Criminal Case No. 6. Said Eduardo Castelo also signed a Provisional Receipt for Eight Hundred Ninety
24642 against accused Justiniano Montano IV for Violation of Section 3(b), Republic Six Million Eight Hundred Sixty-Three Thousand and Fifty (896,863,050.00) from
Act No. 3019 is hereby reopened for the purpose only of the issuance of subpoena AMARI Coastal Bay Corporation on June 9, 1995 which were also the uniform dates
duces tecum specified in paragraph 2 of the prayer in said Omnibus Motion, but of the checks already marked by the Prosecution;
limited to the bank managers therein identified and no "others." For this purpose, let 7. Copies of the documents that will be additionally marked and offered by the
Criminal Case No. 24642 be scheduled for the reception of the additional evidence for Prosecution are the last page of the JVA, Microfilm of check, Secretary’s Certificate
the prosecution, as so limited, on January 15 & 16, 2002, at 8:30 in the morning; and Provisional Receipt which are hereto attached as Annexes "A," "B," "C" and "D,"
and let subpoena duces tecum prayed for by the prosecution be issued. respectively;
The prosecution’s said Omnibus Motion is hereby denied insofar as Criminal Case No. 8. If the bank representatives will be allowed to testify in the two cases (CC #24642
24643 for Violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, and the prosecution is and CC #24643) the Prosecution will be able to prove where the amounts reflected
hereby granted an extension of seven (7) days from receipt of this Order within which in the checks already marked in evidence went thereby establishing the conspiracy
to formally offer its documentary exhibits in said Criminal Case No. 24643, furnishing between the AMARI representatives and the herein accused who facilitated and
copies thereof to the accused who are given fifteen (15) days from receipt of said allowed the approval of the Joint Venture Agreement which was grossly
offer within which to file their reaction thereto. disadvantageous to the government;
SO ORDERED.9 9. This will not be the first time that this Honorable Court will reconsider its previous
On November 21, 2001, accused Lagdameo, Jr., filed a motion to dismiss Criminal Order in the supreme interest of justice as it did in the case of People vs. Rosalinda
Case No. 24643 because of the prosecution’s failure to file its formal offer of evidence. Talingting (Crim. Case No. 17071), where a decision of conviction promulgated on
The other accused adopted the motion, which the prosecution opposed.10 The September 5, 1999 was reconsidered and a new trial was granted, but the accused
repeatedly failed to present her evidence and this Honorable Court also repeatedly He further asserts that the graft court should have cited the respondents-prosecutors
acted favorably on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the accused, the latest of in contempt of court for their repeated failure to file their formal offer of evidence
such Order was November 22, 2001, where this Honorable Court set aside its Order despite its order for them to do so. Finally, the petitioner insists that the
for execution of judgment and reinstated its Order granting the accused the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in dismissing the case against Oscar
opportunity to present her evidence on February 19 to 22, 2002 at the Hall of Justice, Garcia without dismissing the case as against the other accused therein, including
Davao City; himself.
10. In another case where the accused was already convicted and the decision was On June 16, 2003, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition.
already promulgated (People vs. ROMEO D. LONZANIDA, CC #23850, 24644-52), a In their Comment on the petition, the respondents-prosecutors maintain that the
third Motion for Reconsideration was also granted by this Honorable Court in the matter of the reopening of the case for the reception of additional evidence for the
supreme interest of substantial justice; People is addressed to the sound discretion of the Sandiganbayan, taking into account
11. As pointed out by the Prosecution in its Manifestation with Prayer for Partial the interest of substantial justice. They posit that they filed their successive motions
Reconsideration and also in open court on March 5, 2002, the testimonies of additional for the reconsideration of the October 29, 2001 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan
witnesses representing the banks, will establish the conspiracy of all the accused in insofar as Criminal Case No. 24643 was concerned in the exercise of this mandatory
Criminal Case No. 24643 because the checks represented the commissions given by duty to prosecute the case and see to it that justice is done. They maintain that the
AMARI by reason of the favorable action on the Joint Venture Agreement. In short, graft court acted judiciously when it allowed the prosecution to adduce additional
this being a joint trial of the two (2) cases, the testimonies of the bank representatives evidence despite their filing of a formal offer of documentary evidence. According to
will establish the paper trail which will prove beyond reasonable doubt the liability of the respondents, such filing of formal offer of evidence was without prejudice to the
all the accused in the two (2) cases.15 resolution of their March 11, 2002 Motion for Partial reconsideration of the
Petitioner Wainwright Rivera opposed the motion, praying that: Sandiganbayan’s Resolution of October 29, 2001.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing reasons, it is most respectfully prayed that an The respondents-prosecutors further aver that the petition for certiorari assailing the
order be issued: dismissal of the case against accused Oscar Garcia is premature because the
1. Denying and/or expunging from the record the Manifestation with Motion for Partial Sandiganbayan has yet to resolve the petitioner’s October 4, 2002 motion for
Reconsideration dated March 11, 2002 filed by the prosecution; reconsideration thereof.
2. Holding that the prosecution be deemed to have waived its right to formally offer The Court’s Ruling
its evidence and disregarding all documentary and object object presented by the In a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, the petitioner is
prosecution for not having been formally offered; burdened to establish that the respondent tribunal acted without jurisdiction, meaning
3. Citing the prosecutors for direct contempt; and that it does not have the legal power to determine the case; or that it acted without
4. Dismissing the present case for lack of evidence against the accused. or in excess of jurisdiction, meaning having been clothed with power to determine the
Other just and equitable reliefs are likewise prayed for.16 case, it oversteps its authority as determined by law, or that it committed grave abuse
On April 10, 2002, the court issued an Order17 amending its March 5, 2002 Order, of its discretion or acted in a capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or despotic manner in
resetting the trial to 8:30 a.m. of May 9, 2002. On September 2, 2002, the the exercise of its jurisdiction as to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Mere abuse
prosecution filed its Formal Offer of Evidence18 dated August 29, 2002 in Criminal of discretion is not enough.21 In a petition for certiorari, the jurisdiction of the court
Case No. 24643. The prosecution manifested therein that with the testimonies of all is narrow in scope. It is limited to resolving only errors of jurisdiction. It is not to stray
its witnesses, as well as the admission of the exhibits described therein, it was resting at will and resolve questions or issues such as errors of judgment. Such errors are to
its case. be resolved by the appellate court on appeal by writ of error or via a petition for
Nevertheless, on December 17, 2002, the Sandiganbayan made a volte face and review on certiorari in this Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. An error of
issued a Resolution19 granting the March 11, 2002 Motion for Partial Reconsideration judgment is one in which the Court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction.
of the prosecution and allowing it to adduce additional evidence in the two cases. The In the present case, we find and so hold that the Sandiganbayan committed a grave
petitioner filed a motion for the reconsideration of the Resolution which the court abuse of its discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed
denied in an Order20 dated February 11, 2003.1awphi1.nét Resolution and Order.
Hence, the petition at bar. Section 35, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides that documentary and object
The issue for resolution is whether the Sandiganbayan committed a grave abuse of evidence shall be offered by a party after the presentation of its testimonial evidence.
its discretion amounting to excess of lack of jurisdiction (a) in issuing Resolution of Such offer shall be done orally unless allowed by the trial court to be done in writing.
December 17, 2002 and Order dated February 11, 2003 in Criminal Case No. 24643; We agree with the respondents-prosecutors that the Sandiganbayan may allow the
and (b) in ordering the dismissal of the case as against accused Oscar Garcia. reopening of a case for the reception of additional proofs before judgment. The Rules
On the first issue, the petitioner contends that the Sandiganbayan committed a grave of Court does not contain any provision prohibiting the trial court from allowing a
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing its December party to offer additional proofs on the evidence-in-chief or rebuttal evidence after it
17, 2002 Resolution allowing the prosecution to adduce additional evidence in had rested its case, or even after the case has been submitted for decision but before
Criminal Case No. 24643, and its February 11, 2003 Order denying his motion for the rendition thereof. Neither does the Rules of Court contain a specific rule allowing
reconsideration of the said resolution. The petitioner points out that despite the the reopening of a case to allow a party to adduce additional proofs. However, the
Sandiganbayan’s repeated denials of the prosecution’s motions to adduce additional reopening of a case by the court either on its own motion or on motion of a party,
evidence, the graft court made a volte face and allowed the prosecution to adduce allowing him or them to present additional proofs, is a recognized procedural recourse
additional evidence just the same. The petitioner asserts that, by filing its formal offer or device, deriving validity and acceptance from long-established usage.22 The matter
of evidence on September 2, 2002, the prosecution thereby waived its plea to adduce of the trial court’s allowing the reopening of a case for additional proof by a party or
additional evidence; yet, the Sandiganbayan allowed it to adduce additional evidence. by the parties is addressed to the court’s discretion provided that, by reopening the
case, the court does not commit a grave abuse of its discretion. The trial court may additional proofs in Criminal Case No. 24643 to establish conspiracy among all the
allow the reopening of a case and the presentation of additional proofs for the orderly accused in both cases. The prosecution made another volte face when, without
administration of justice or where evidence has been omitted by a party, through waiting for the resolution of their March 11, 2002 Motion for Partial Reconsideration,
inadvertence or mistake, or oversight.23 respondents Prosecutors Orlando I. Ines and Jaime C. Blancaflor filed a "Formal Offer
We also agree with the respondents-prosecutors that they are mandated to exhaust of Evidence" dated August 29, 2002, manifesting that "with the testimonies of all the
available proofs to establish the guilt of the accused and being taken to justice for prosecution witnesses, as well as the admission of the documentary evidence
their offense against the State; and, if they deliberately and willfully refused to do so, accounted to them, the plaintiff rested its case."26 The respondents-prosecutors even
they would be prosecuted for dereliction of duty.24 The prosecutors are mandated to noted in their pleading that "due to the voluminous documentary evidence previously
lay before the court the pertinent facts at their disposal with methodical and submitted by the prosecutors to the court, the parties may directly examine the same
meticulous attention, clarifying contradictions and filling up gaps and loopholes in at their convenience."27 By filing such formal offer of evidence, without any
their evidence to the end that the trial court’s view may not be tortured by doubts, preconditions whatsoever, the respondents-prosecutors thereby withdrew their March
that the innocent may not suffer and the guilty may not escape unpunished. This is 11, 2002 Motion for Reconsideration of the February 27, 2002 Resolution of the
their duty to the State, the Court and the accused.25 Sandiganbayan; as such, there was no longer a March 11, 2002 Motion for Partial
In the present case, the prosecution believed that, after presenting fourteen (14) Reconsideration to speak of and to be resolved by the Sandiganbayan.1a\^/phi1.net
witnesses and voluminous documentary evidence, it had discharged its duty of The Sandiganbayan should have merely resolved the Formal Offer of Evidence of the
proving the guilt of all the accused in both cases. Thus, during the trial of September respondents-prosecutors. However, with grave abuse of its discretion, the graft court
27, 2001, the prosecution manifested that it had no more witnesses to present, and ignored such formal offer of evidence and resolved and granted the March 11, 2002
prayed for a period of twenty (20) days within which to file a written offer of its Motion for Reconsideration of the respondents-prosecutors per its December 17, 2002
documentary evidence, which the graft court granted. In the interim, however, the Resolution. In effect, the Sandiganbayan set aside its October 29, 2001 and February
prosecution discovered its oversight, that it was imperative for it to present additional 27, 2002 Resolutions, as well as its Order of March 6, 2002. The graft court did not
witnesses and documentary evidence on its evidence-in-chief consisting of the bank even bother to explain why it ignored the Manifestation of respondent prosecutor John
managers of the United Coconut Planters Bank, Far East Bank, Solid Bank, Metrobank I.C. Turalba made in open court during the trial on March 5, 2002 that he was no
and Allied Bank, the corporate secretary of the Public Estate Authority, thirteen (13) longer presenting any witness, in view of the Sandiganbayan’s denial of their January
checks, among others, to prove the crimes charged in the Informations and filed on 10, 2002 Motion for Reconsideration. Instead, the Sandiganbayan resolved and
October 22, 2001, and filed its "Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration" of the granted the March 12, 2002 Motion for Reconsideration of the respondents-
September 17, 2001 Resolution of the Court and prayed for the issuance of subpoena prosecutors.
duces tecum and ad testificandum to the said witnesses. The Sandiganbayan then We have reviewed the records and find no substantial basis for the claim of the
resolved to grant the motion for reconsideration of the prosecution per its October respondents-prosecutors that their filing of formal offer of evidence on September 2,
29, 2001 Resolution insofar as Criminal Case No. 24642 was concerned, and denied 2002 was without prejudice to the Sandiganbayan’s resolution of their March 11, 2002
the said motion for reconsideration of the prosecution insofar as Criminal Case No. Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolutions of October 29, 2001 and February 27,
24643 was concerned. However, the Sandiganbayan did not state therein the reason 2002. We note that the ponente of the December 17, 2002 and February 11, 2003
for the denial of the said motion insofar as Criminal Case No. 24643 was concerned, Resolutions is Justice Rodolfo G. Palattao, who concurred in the October 29, 2001 and
except for its observation that the additional proofs the prosecution wanted to adduce February 27, 2002 Resolutions and in the graft court’s March 6, 2002 Order.
were only in relation to Criminal Case No. 24642. Hence, on January 10, 2002, the In resolving and granting the March 11, 2002 Motion for Reconsideration of the
prosecution filed its Manifestation with prayer for partial reconsideration of the respondents-prosecutors, the Sandiganbayan declared that pleadings should be
October 29, 2001 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan which the latter denied per its liberally construed so that the issues may be properly ventilated and resolved. Such
February 27, 2002 Resolution. Contrary to the ruling of the graft court, the January rather curt statement is disconcerting, considering that the Sandiganbayan failed to
10, 2002 Manifestation with Prayer for Partial Reconsideration filed by the prosecution explain in its October 29, 2001 Resolution why it declared that the additional proofs
was not a "proscribed second motion for reconsideration." Upon such denial of the that the prosecution wanted to adduce pertained solely to Criminal Case No. 24642,
motion, the remedy of the prosecution was two-fold: either to file a petition for and its reason for ignoring the formal of documentary evidence of the prosecution;
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for the nullification of the October 29, instead, it granted the March 11, 2002 Motion for Reconsideration filed by the
2001 and February 27, 2002 Resolutions predicated on grave abuse of discretion, or prosecution. Indeed, while it is true that litigation is not a game of technicalities, it is
to file its formal offer of documentary evidence as directed by the Sandiganbayan. equally true that every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed
However, the prosecution opted not to file any petition for certiorari in this Court. procedure, to insure an orderly administration of justice. 28 It is this symbiosis
Indeed, during the trial on March 5, 2002, respondent Prosecutor John I.C. Turalba between form and substance that guarantees that discernible result. The Court
manifested, in open court, that the prosecution was opting not to present any witness emphasized in People v. Mamalias ,29 that the great goal of our criminal law and
because of the Sandiganbayan’s denial of its January 10, 2002 Manifestation with procedure is not to send people to the gaol but to do justice. Public order and our
Prayer for Partial Reconsideration. The respondent-prosecutor even prayed for a system of justice are well served by a conscientious observance of the rules of
resetting of the case, presumably to enable him to file the formal offer of the procedure, particularly by government officials and agencies.30
documentary evidence to which all the accused offered no objection. Still, the In the present case, the Sandiganbayan tolerated and condoned the deft but
prosecution failed to file any formal offer of its documentary evidence. Instead, barely deleterious somersaults of the respondents-prosecutors and itself flip-flopped, to the
a week thereafter, the prosecution, through respondents Prosecutors John I.C. prejudice of the accused, including the petitioner, and the orderly, fair and impartial
Turalba and Jaime C. Blancaflor, made a "somersault," and filed on March 11, 2002, administration of justice. While the Sandiganbayan may set aside and recourse its
a Manifestation with Motion for Reconsideration of the October 20, 2001 and February Resolutions and Orders for valid and cogent reasons, in the present case, it did so
27, 2002 Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan, praying that it be allowed to adduce imprudently and capriciously.
On the second issue, we find the petition bereft of merit, and insufficient in form and Civil Case No. B-259 for the simple reason that the latter was no less the defendant
in substance. Under Section 1, Rule 65, in relation to Section 3,31 Rule 46 of the Rules therein and it was the plaintiff who failed to prosecute the case for a long period of
of Court, the petitioner is mandated to append to his petition a certified true copy of time. In any event, respondent alleged that the instant administrative complaint is
the assailed resolution, that is, the September 19, 2002 Resolution of the simply complainant’s reaction to his letter dated June 15, 20046 relative to his
Sandiganbayan dismissing Criminal Case No. 24643 insofar as accused Oscar Garcia (respondent’s) act of having withdrawn as complainant’s counsel in a different case
is concerned; and his motion for the reconsideration of said resolution. The petitioner pending before another court.
failed to do so. Under the last paragraph of the said Rule, the Court may dismiss the Complainant, in his Reply-Affidavit,7 countered that he contacted respondent several
petition on such ground. Besides, the petition was premature, considering that the times regarding the submission of the compromise agreement in Civil Case No. B-
Sandiganbayan had not as yet resolved the said motion for reconsideration of the 259. The first was on October 20, 1999 at respondent’s residence as the latter was
petitioner. Finally, the petitioner failed to implead Oscar Garcia as party-respondent not at his office at that time, in compliance with respondent’s letter requesting to see
who is an indispensable party, considering that what is being assailed is the him. The second was on April 19, 2000 when complainant went to respondent’s office
September 19, 2003 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan dismissing the case as against on account of another case, and there reminded the latter as to the compromise
him. agreement but respondent just made the assurance that he will be the one to make
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The the draft and/or prepare the same. The third was on January 12, 2001, again at the
December 17, 2002 and February 11, 2003 Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan, insofar respondent’s office where, after being reminded as to the compromise agreement,
as Criminal Case No. 24643 is concerned are NULLIFIED. The petition, in so far as it respondent told him not to be in a hurry because the court can wait for the
assails the September 19, 2002 Order of the Sandiganbayan dismissing Criminal Case compromise agreement and besides he is quite busy with other court cases. Denying
No. 24643 as to Oscar Garcia is DENIED due course and is hereby DISMISSED. No that the administrative complaint is his reaction to respondent’s letter dated June 15,
costs. 2004, complainant asserted that said letter concerns another case in connection with
SO ORDERED. which he is preparing another administrative case against respondent.
In his Rejoinder,8 respondent denied that complainant contacted and reminded him
about the subject compromise agreement, averring that any communication that has
A.C. No. 6986 March 6, 2006 happened between him and the complainant pertains to another case. Respondent
JULIUS V. AGUSTIN, Complainant, vs. ATTY. ENRIQUE S. EMPLEO, Respondent. further averred that complainant is merely attempting to besmirch his unsullied
GARCIA, J.: reputation as a legal practitioner since 1975.
This is a complaint for disbarment1 filed by complainant Julius V. Agustin against After the termination of the mandatory preliminary conference, the parties were
respondent Atty. Enrique S. Empleo for the latter’s failure to comply with a court order required to submit their respective position papers with documentary exhibits and
while acting as the former’s counsel, thereby resulting in the outright dismissal of a affidavits of witnesses, if any, within twenty (20) days from notice, after which the
case and the complainant’s counterclaim therein. case shall be submitted for resolution.9
Records reveal that complainant was the defendant in Civil Case No. B-259 for Eventually, on July 26, 2005, the IBP Investigating Commissioner, Acerey C. Pacheco,
Forcible Entry with Preliminary Mandatory Injunction and Damages then pending submitted his Report and Recommendation.10 Said the Commissioner in his report:
before the 2nd Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), Bindoy, Negros Oriental, in which It is a fact as established by the records that no compromise agreement was
respondent was his counsel. submitted to the court despite the receipt of the Order dated September 25, 1998.
In the course of the proceedings in that case, the MCTC issued an Order on September While it is true that as counsel, respondent do not decide for the complainant to enter
25, 1998,2 giving the parties to the case a period of fifteen (15) days from receipt into such kind of agreement, respondent is however, duty bound to assist the court
thereof within which to submit their compromise agreement or amicable settlement in the speedy disposition of cases.
for the approval of the court. xxx xxx xxx
With no compromise agreement having been submitted by the parties within the Respondent’s asseveration that he waited for the complainant to provide him with
period thus given or thereafter, the MCTC, some four (4) years later, or on August 5, details of the compromise agreement but the latter failed to come does not inspire
2002, issued an Order3 dismissing Civil Case No. B-259 and the counterclaim therein belief in the face of the denials made by the complainant. Not even a piece of paper
for failure of the parties to prosecute. or letter requesting the complainant to provide him with the details of the agreement
Blaming his counsel for the dismissal of the case and his counterclaim therein, was presented to substantiate such allegation.
complainant filed on October 18, 2004, an administrative complaint against And even assuming arguendo that respondent indeed asked the complainant of such
respondent with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), thereat docketed as CBD details, the period of almost four (4) years from September 25, 1998 (date of the
Case No. 04-1344. Order requiring the submission of the compromise agreement) up to August 5, 2002
Acting on the complaint, the IBP Director for Bar Discipline, Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan, (date of the Order dismissing the case for failure to submit the same) without doing
required respondent to submit his answer thereto, otherwise he will be considered as anything to avoid the case being left "hanging on the air" betrays respondent’s duty
in default and the case heard ex-parte.4 towards the court. As an officer of the court whose primary function is to assist the
In his answer,5 respondent admits having been complainant’s counsel in Civil Case court in the impartial and speedy adjudication of cases, respondent ought to be
No. B-259 and the dismissal of that case by the MCTC for the parties’ failure to submit vigilant and avoid any act or omission that only impedes and obstructs speedy
a compromise agreement. He explained, however, that the non-submission of the disposition of cases.
compromise agreement was due to complainant’s own fault in not contacting him for In the case at bar, the period of almost four (4) years of waiting constitutes inaction
the purpose of providing the details of said agreement, pointing out that counsels that caused unnecessary delay in the disposition of said cases. The fact that no
merely assist their clients and do not decide for them in a compromise agreement. damage or prejudice was sustained by the complainant, he being the defendant in
Respondent likewise averred that complainant was not prejudiced by the dismissal of that case, is of no moment.
Thus, the Commissioner’s recommendation: for almost four (4) years until its dismissal for the parties’ non-compliance,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully recommended that herein respondent sorely failed to perform what is required of him as a lawyer and a member
respondent be reprimanded for his inaction over the period of almost four (4) years of the Bar.
without doing anything and that a repetition of the same act to be dealt with ACCORDINGLY, respondent Atty. Enrique Empleo is hereby REPRIMANDED with
accordingly.11 WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely.
On October 22, 2005, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XVII-2005- SO ORDERED.
9012 adopting and approving the afore-quoted report and recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner, to wit:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the G.R. No. L-35113 March 25, 1975
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled EUGENIO CUARESMA, petitioner, vs. MARCELO DAQUIS, PHHC, CESAR
case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the NAVARRO, NICANOR GUEVARRA, Sheriff of Quezon City or his Deputy and
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws JUDGE PACIFICO P. DE CASTRO, respondents. ATTORNEY MACARIO O.
and rules, and considering the almost four years of inaction that caused delay in the DIRECTO, respondent.
disposition of the cases, Atty. Enrique S. Empleo is hereby REPRIMANDED and FERNANDO, J.:
repetition of the same act shall be dealt with accordingly. The predicament in which respondent Macario O. Directo, a member of the Philippine
We are in full accord with the findings and recommendation of the Investigating bar, now finds himself is one of his own making. In a petition for certiorari filed with
Commissioner as adopted by the IBP Board of Governors. this Court on behalf of one Eugenio Cuaresma, he included the following categorical
First and foremost among the duties of a lawyer is his duty to the court. The chief allegations: "4. That your petitioner has no knowledge of the existence of said case
mission of an attorney is to assist in the administration of justice and to this end, his (Civil Case No. 12176, CFI of Rizal, Quezon City Branch) aforecited between the
client’s success in the case is subordinate. As mandated in Canon 12 of the Code of respondents Marcelo Daquis, PHHC, and Cesar Navarro, and wherein the respondent
Professional Responsibility: Judge, [gave] due course to the complaint, and the subject matter in litigation; 5.
A LAWYER SHALL EXERT EVERY EFFORT AND CONSIDER IT HIS DUTY TO ASSIST IN That on May 26, 1972, the respondent Judge issued an order of demolition, ordering
THE SPEEDY AND EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. the respondent Sheriff of Quezon City or his deputy to demolish the house of your
Like the court itself, a lawyer is an instrument to advance its ends: the speedy, petitioner etc., and on the same day May 26, 1972, the Sheriff of Quezon City through
efficient, impartial, correct and inexpensive adjudication of cases and the prompt his deputy [gave] three (3) days to your petitioner to remove his house or face
satisfaction of final judgments.13 A lawyer should not only help attain these objectives demolition, ... ;6 ... 7. That your petitioner was not given a day in court to present
but should likewise avoid any unethical or improper practices that impede, obstruct his side of the case, in violation of law, and of the dictum of due process of the
or prevent their realization, charged as he is with the primary task of assisting in the constitution, ... "1 Thereafter, after receipt of the comments of respondents, it turned
speedy and efficient administration of justice.14 out, as set forth in a resolution of this Court of August 4, 1972, "that petitioner was
True, a lawyer cannot enter into a compromise agreement without his client’s consent. fully aware of the existence of said civil case because on December 14, 1971 Atty.
Be it remembered, however, that a lawyer is also an officer of the court with the Macario Directo, as counsel of petitioner, addressed to respondent Marcelo Daquis a
correlative duty to see to it that cases are disposed in the soonest possible time. letter which indicates that both counsel and petitioner were aware of the existence of
Here, respondent, fully aware that there is a pending court order for the submission the case. It also appears that, before respondents Marcelo Daquis and Cesar Navarro
of a compromise agreement, should have taken pains to remind complainant about it filed a motion for a writ of Possession in Civil Case No. Q-12176, petitioner Eugenio
and ascertain the true intent of the latter regarding the same, so that he, as Cuaresma, along with the other occupants of the lot in question, was given thirty (30)
complainant’s counsel, can make the necessary legal action in order for the case not days notice to vacate the premises which period was even extended for another thirty
to be unduly delayed and appear not to be indefinitely pending in the docket of the (30) days, but that, despite that notice, petitioner Eugenio Cuaresma refused to
court concerned. vacate the lot involved in the case. It further appears that on May 3, 1972, Atty.
Moreover, by respondent’s inaction to the court order in Civil Case No. B-259, he has Macario Directo, as counsel for petitioner, filed a motion for intervention in the
very well violated his Attorney’s Oath to "obey the laws and legal orders of the duly aforementioned Civil Case No. Q-12176; and on May 13, 1972, same counsel filed a
constituted authorities." motion to quash or recall the writ of execution, and an opposition to the issuance of
Lastly, we cannot but note that respondent's conduct relative to the civil case in a writ of demolition. On May 22, 1972, respondent Judge Pacifico de Castro issued an
question likewise fell short of the diligence required of his profession, in violation of order denying the motion to intervene as well as the motion to quash or recall the
Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which demands that a lawyer writ of execution."2 It was then set forth in such resolution that there was no truth to
shall serve his client with competence and diligence. Rule 18.03 of said Canon further the allegation that on May 27, 1972, the date of the filing of the petition for certiorari
states that a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his in the present case, petitioner had no knowledge of the existence of Civil Case No.
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. 12176.
As complainant’s counsel in Civil Case No. B-259, it was incumbent upon respondent Respondent Macario O. Directo was then given ten days to show cause why no
to invite his client’s attention as to the compromise agreement, especially so when disciplinary action should be taken against him for deliberately making false
there is a pending court order for the submission of the same. There is nothing in the allegations in such petition. Thereafter, on August 16, 1972, came a pleading which
record which shows that respondent did anything in this respect, even when, as per he entitled Compliance. This is his explanation: "What your petitioner honestly meant
his admission, he and complainant were in communication at that time, albeit, with when he alleged that he [has] no knowledge of the existence of said Civil Case No.
regards to another case. 12176, CFI of Rizal, Quezon City Branch, was from the time the plaintiff Marcelo
Thus, by just letting the court order for the submission of a compromise agreement Daquis instituted the said case in June 1968 up to and after the time the Court issued
in Civil Case No. B-259 remain unacted upon resulting in the pendency of that case the decision in the year 1970. The plaintiff Marcelo Daquis entered into a conditional
contract of sale of the lot involved in said Civil Case No. 12176 with the PHHC. There personnel in forcibly taking over BENECO system, offices, collection centers and
were four (4) purchasers, the plaintiff, two others, and your petitioner. Because of substations and installing NEA personnel to replace BENECO employees. The
the requirement of the PHHC that only one of them should enter into the contract, employees of BENECO and consumers posed strong resistance against the take-over
Marcelo Daquis was chosen by the others to enter into the same. Since this was a in such a manner that violence and bloodshed may occur (p. 56, Rollo). On July 25,
sale on installment basis, by agreement of all the purchasers, duly acknowledged by 1990, We noted said telegram (p. 57, Rollo).chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
the PHHC, the monthly dues of the petitioner and the two others, were remitted to On August 23, 1990, petitioners filed a supplemental petition reiterating their prayer
Marcelo Daquis, who in turn remits the same to the PHHC. In June 1968 plaintiff for a restraining order and/or preliminary injunction based on the same unrelenting
Marcelo Daquis instituted Civil Case No. 12176 in the CFI of Quezon City. From June persistence of the NEA personnel to take over BENECO and the mounting resistance
1968 up to the time and after the decision was issued by the court, plaintiff Marcelo of the BENECO employees and members-consumers (pp. 64-70, Rollo). The
Daquis never informed your petitioner of the said case." 3 He reiterated in a later supplemental petition was verified by Hamada (p. 70, Rollo). On September 12, 1990,
paragraph that all he wanted to convey was that his knowledge of the aforesaid civil We required NEA to comment on petitioners’ prayer for the issuance of a temporary
case came only after the decision was issued. He closed his Compliance with the plea restraining order (p. 76, Rollo). In the comment on the petition (pp. 77-113, Rollo)
that if there were any mistake committed, "it had been an honest one, and would say and on the prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (pp. 133-140,
in all sincerity that there was no deliberate attempt and intent on his part of Rollo) filed by the Solicitor General for NEA, the following grounds were invoked: (1)
misleading this Honorable Court, honestly and totally unaware of any false allegation Hamada and BENECO are guilty of forum shopping; (2) petitioners failed to exhaust
in the petition."4 administrative remedies before instituting the present petition; (3) NEA did not abuse
The above explanation lends itself to the suspicion that it was a mere afterthought. its discretion in dismissing the members of the Board of Directors of BENECO; and
It could very well be that after his attention was called to the misstatements in his (4) the dismissed members of the BENECO Board were not denied due process of law.
petition, he decided on such a version as a way out. That is more than a bare As regards the first ground, the Solicitor General alleged that on August 31, 1990,
possibility. There is the assumption though of good faith. That is in his favor. BENECO thru the same counsel, filed a complaint for damages with prayer for the
Moreover, judging from the awkwardly worded petition and even his compliance quite issuance of a preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order this time
indicative of either carelessness or lack of proficiency in the handling of the English before the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, docketed as Civil Case No. 2160-R,
language, it is not unreasonable to assume that his deficiency in the mode of wherein similar allegations contained in these petition and supplemental petition were
expression contributed to the inaccuracy of his statements. While a mere disclaimer reproduced, namely, persistent taking over of BENECO by NEA employees and
of intent certainly cannot exculpate him, still, in the spirit of charity and forbearance, resistance by the employees of BENECO (pp. 115-123, Rollo). The complaint was
a penalty of reprimand would suffice. At least, it would serve to impress on respondent verified by Hamada and Peter M. Cosalan as General Manager of BENECO (p. 123,
that in the future he should be much more careful in the preparation of his pleadings Rollo). On September 6, 1990, the trial court granted BENECO’s prayer for a
so that the least doubt as to his intellectual honesty cannot be entertained. Every temporary restraining order (p. 128, Rollo).
member of the bar should realize that candor in the dealings with the Court is of the On October 10, 1990, We Resolved to dismiss the petition for failure to demonstrate
very essence of honorable membership in the profession. that the questioned resolution of NEA is tainted by grave abuse of discretion because
the dissolution of the Board of Directors was for a legal cause and its members were
afforded due process of law. We resolved further to (1) require Hamada and Atty.
G.R. No. 93924. January 23, 1991. Gayo to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of this Court for having
BENGUET ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC. and members of its BOARD OF filed a similar complaint before the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City during the
DIRECTORS and BAGUIO-BENGUET COMMUNITY CREDIT COOPERATIVE, pendency of this petition; and (2) direct Atty. Gayo to show cause why he should not
INC., Petitioners, vs. NATIONAL ELECTRIFICATION ADMINISTRATION, be suspended from the practice of law by reason of his having committed an act of
Respondent. forum shopping (p. 143, Rollo). Both parties complied by filing separate but almost
E .L . Gayo & Associates, for Petitioners. identical explanations on October 30, 1990 and October 31, 1990. They enumerated
Sinai C . Hamada for and in his own behalf and co-petitioners. the following justifications for their having filed Civil Case No. 2160-R: 1) it is a
Ceasar G . Oracion and Mauricio G . Domogan for Intervenors. damage suit requiring presentation of evidence; and 2) it is directed against the
MEDIALDEA, J.: employees of NEA in their personal capacities as differentiated from the present
On July 4, 1990, petitioners Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BENECO), members petition which is directed against NEA as a corporate entity. However, should this
of its Board of Directors and Baguio-Benguet Community Credit Cooperative, Inc., Court declare that they have erred in filing Civil Case No. 2160-R, they humbly submit
thru Atty. Emiliano L. Gayo, filed the present petition for certiorari with prayer for the that it was an honest error in the prosecution of what they perceived to be in the
issuance of a preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order seeking to interest of BENECO (pp. 239-245; pp. 295-301, Rollo).
nullify Resolution No. 51 issued by respondent National Electrification Administration The Court finds their explanations far from acceptable. To begin with, this Court
(NEA) which dismissed the Board of Directors of BENECO; and to enjoin NEA from frowns upon BENECO’s omission in not disclosing to Us that a complaint involving the
taking over the management of BENECO (pp. 2-54, Rollo). The petition was verified same subject matter had been filed and is pending before the trial court and a
by Sinai C. Hamada as President of the Board of Directors of BENECO and Gregorio temporary restraining order had been obtained by it from said court. Information on
S. Rimas as President and Chairman of the Board of Baguio-Benguet Community the existence and status of the case before the trial court was revealed only in the
Credit Cooperative, Inc. (p. 24, Rollo). On July 9, 1990, We required NEA to comment Solicitor General’s comment (see Collado, Et. Al. v. Hernando, etc., Et Al., G.R. No.
on the petition (p. 55, Rollo). On July 11, 1990, We received a telegram from Atty. L-43866, May 30, 1988, 161 SCRA 639). Now, in an attempt to make the present
Gayo requesting immediate action on their prayer for a restraining order and/or petition and Civil Case No. 2160-R appear to be distinct, BENECO impleaded different
preliminary injunction since armed military men from Philippine Constabulary, Camp respondents/defendants therein and sought ostensibly different reliefs (see Danville
Dangwa, led by the Provincial Commander and/or top officers are leading NEA Maritime, Inc. v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 85285, July 28, 1989, 175 SCRA
701). Yet, the allegation that Civil Case No. 2160-R is a damage suit directed against the supplemental motion for reconsideration; (4) to note the explanation of petitioner
the employees of NEA in their personal capacities whereas the present petition is Sinai C. Hamada; (5) to order the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, First Judicial
directed against NEA as a corporate entity is nothing but specious (see Palm Avenue Region Branch 5, to dismiss Civil Case No. 2160-R and to set aside, effective
Realty Development Corporation, Et. Al. v. Philippine Commission on Good immediately, the temporary restraining order and any other orders or processes
Government, Et Al., G.R. No. 76296, August 31, 1987, 153 SCRA 579). A reading of issued in said case; (6) to declare Sinai C. Hamada and Atty. Emiliano L. Gayo in
the allegations of the complaint in Civil Case No. 2160-R and those, of the present contempt of this Court and ordering them to pay a fine of P1,000.00 each within five
petition show that both actions arose from the same facts and circumstances (see (5) days from notice; and (7) to suspend Atty. Emiliano L. Gayo from the practice of
Danville Maritime, Inc. v. Commission on Audit, supra). The allegation that the law for a period of three (3) months effective from notice. Let a copy of this resolution
respondents in the present petition and the defendants in Civil Case No. 2160-R are be attached to the personal record of Atty. Emiliano L. Gayo. Let another copy of this
different is likewise beside the point because what is material is the fact that BENECO, resolution be served on Judge Salvador J. Valdez, Jr., presiding judge of said trial
in seeking to enjoin the acts complained of, resorted to both this Court and the trial court.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
court. This is the very misdeed which the sanction on forum shopping seeks to correct.
BENECO’s filing of a complaint before the trial court during the pendency of this SO ORDERED.
petition is indicative of lack of faith in this Court in the evenhanded administration of
law. In so doing, BENECO certainly ridiculed our judicial processes (see Limpin, Jr.,
Et. Al. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, Et Al., G.R. No. 70987, May 5, 1988, 161 G.R. No. 133625 September 6, 2000
SCRA 83; Minister of Natural Resources, Et. Al. v. Heirs of Orval Hughes, Et Al., G.R. REMEDIOS F. EDRIAL, MAURO EDRIAL JR., MARYLENE EDRIAL, ILDEFONSO
No. 62664, November 12, 1987, 155 SCRA 566) and played havoc with Our rules on EDRIAL, ROSALIND EDRIAL, MARY JEAN EDRIAL, and SUSAN EDRIAL-
orderly procedure. A party should not be allowed to pursue simultaneous remedies in VALENZUELA, petitioners, vs. PEDRO QUILAT-QUILAT, GABRIELA QUILAT-
two different forums (see People v. Court of Appeals, Et Al., G.R. No. 54641, QUILAT, ISIDRA QUILAT-QUILAT, and ESTANISLAO QUILAT-QUILAT,
November 28, 1980, 101 SCRA 450). What aggravates BENECO’s case is that it respondents.
deceived the highest court of the land (see Collado, Et. Al. v. Hernando, etc., et. al., PANGANIBAN, J.:
supra). If, indeed, the purpose in filing Civil Case No. 2160-R is to protect the interest Parties who prayed for and were granted several postponements and caused repeated
of BENECO, is the Supreme Court incapable of protecting said interest? But the lower delays cannot ask for the reopening of the trial for the purpose of presenting
court can? We certainly cannot unfold our compassionate mantle in this instance. additional evidence. After squandering several opportunities given them to ventilate
Instead, We will lay our disciplinary hand to strike down the reprehensible stratagem their claims, they can no longer complain of alleged violation of their right to due
employed by Hamada and Atty. Gayo.chanrobles law library : red process.
In Our resolution in the case of E. Razon, Inc., Et. Al. v. Philippine Port Authority, Et The Case
Al., G.R. No. 75197, July 31, 1986, p. 121, We made it clear Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari, assailing the October 17, 1997
that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph Decision1 and the March 19, 1998 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA)3 in CA-
". . . forum shopping (is) an act of malpractice that is proscribed and condemned as GR SP No. 42660. The CA affirmed the Order of the trial court, which had denied their
trifling with the courts and abusing their processes. It is improper conduct that tends Motion to Reopen the Case and to allow them to complete the presentation of their
to degrade the administration of justice. The rule has been formalized in Section 17 evidence. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:4
of the Interim Rules and Guidelines issued by this Court on January 11, 1983 in "WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED."
connection with the implementation of the Judiciary Reorganization Act, specifically The Resolution denied reconsideration of the challenged Decision.
with the grant in Section 9 of B.P. Blg. 129 of equal original jurisdiction to the The Facts
Intermediate Appellate Court to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, etc., and Respondents Pedro, Gabriela, Isidra and Estanislao - all surnamed Quilat-Quilat --
auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. Thus, filed an action for recovery of a parcel of land against Petitioners Remedios, Mauro
the cited Rule provides that no such petition may be filed in the Intermediate Jr., Marylene, Idelfonso, Rosalind, Mary Jean -- all surnamed Edrial -- and Susan
Appellate Court ‘if another similar petition has been filed or is still pending in the Edrial-Valenzuela. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 6315 and raffled to Branch
Supreme Court’ and vice-versa. The Rule orders that ‘A violation of this rule shall 39 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dumaguete City.5 The Court of Appeals
constitute contempt of court and shall be a cause for the summary dismissal of both presented the facts of this case as follows:
petitions, without prejudice to the taking of appropriate action against the counsel or "Atty. Gerardo Lituanas, a lawyer of the LAPIL (IBP) Negros Oriental, who was also
party concerned.’ The rule applies with equal force where the party having filed an an [e]lection [r]egistrar of the COMELEC, filed the complaint in 1975;
action in the Supreme Court shops for the same remedy of prohibition and a Atty. Lituanas was able to present evidence on the following dates:
restraining order or injunction in the regional trial court."cralaw virtua1aw library July 10, 1981
On November 5, 1990, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of Our October First plaintiffs' witness Atilano Ramirez, 73 years old, was presented;
10, 1990 resolution (pp. 247-263, Rollo). On November 9, 1990, petitioners filed a July 16, 1981
supplemental motion for reconsideration of said resolution (pp. 272-290, Rollo). Continuation of the testimony of Atilano Ramirez;
It appears to the Court that this motion for reconsideration merely reiterates the same August 24, 1982
arguments earlier raised and does not present any substantial reasons not previously Continuation of the testimony of Atilano Ramirez;
invoked nor any matters not already considered and passed upon. November 20, 1984
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved (1) to grant the motion of Atty. Emiliano L. Gayo Continuation of the testimony of Atilano Ramirez;
praying that he be given until November 7, 1990 to submit his explanation; (2) to February 28, 1984
note the aforesaid explanation; (3) to deny the motion for reconsideration as well as
Direct Examination of 2ndPlaintiffs' witness Ignacio Tomias. Cross-examination was The transcript of stenographic notes which was taken down by stenographer
waived. Alexander Yberley, was missing. He was ordered to produce the transcript.
August 21, 1985 October 30, 1992
Plaintiff Pedro Quilat-Quilat was presented on direct examination. Witness Atilano Ramirez was recalled for cross-examination since stenographer
"On December 16, 1986, the Citizen Legal Assistance Office (CLAO) entered its Yberley manifested that the record was burned. Despite due notice, nobody appeared
appearance as new [private respondents'] counsel after Atty. Gerardo Lituanas has for the [petitioners]. So as of this day, the cross-examination of Atilano Ramirez was
filed his withdrawal. The subsequent events are as follows: considered waived and the case was finally submitted for decision.
February 23, 1987 December 11, 1992
The case was set for hearing on April 21, 1987. Court granted the prayer of Atty. Sedillo and the case [was] set for hearing on March
April 21, 1987 22, 29 and April 5 1993.
The hearing was reset due to the projected amendment of the complainant to implead March 22, 1993
Primitiva Torrecampo. Atty. Sedillo did not present evidence but instead moved for a resetting of the hearing
June 19, 1987 to April 12, 1993. He [was] advised by the Court to be prepared on the next scheduled
The third amended complaint was admitted. hearing.
September 9, 1987 June 4, 1993
Hearing was postponed at the instance of the defendants [herein petitioners]. Judge [was] on leave. Hearing [was] reset to July 2, 1993.
October 22, 1987 July 2, 1993
The hearing was suspended for the reason that the Court would require the [private Flaviano Umbac was presented as first [petitioners'] witness. Hearing [was] scheduled
respondents] to submit a certification from the Bureau of Forest Development that [for] August 27, 1993.
the land involved in this case [was] not a part of the public forest. August 27, 1993
December 17, 1987 [Petitioners] moved for a resetting to October 7, 1993.
The hearing was postponed at the request of [private respondents'] counsel for the October 7, 1993
reason that she [would] be attending [a] conference in Cebu City. Atty. Bongaciso was presented as second witness for the [petitioners]. His testimony
March 18, 1988 [was] terminated and hearing [was] reset to December 13, 1993.
The hearing was aborted due to the fact that the Bureau of Forest Development report December 13, 1993
ha[d] not yet been finished. Judge [was] on leave. Hearing [was] reset to February 14, 1994.
July 5, 1988 February 14, 1994
The hearing [was] reset upon agreement of both counsel. Hearing [was] reset at the instance of Atty. Sedillo who want[ed] to recall his witness
September 15, 1988 Atty. Bonganciso. Hearing [was] reset to March 23, 1994.
The hearing [was] reset upon the Court's instance. March 24, 1994
December 8, 1988 Hearing [was] postponed to May 6, 1994 to find avenue for settlement.
No hearing was held as the certification from the Bureau of Forest Development [was] May 6, 1994
being awaited. Due to the conflict of schedule by Atty. Sedillo and due to the absence of recalled 2nd
March 16, 1989 [petitioners'] witness Bongaciso, hearing [was] reset to June 17, 1994.
The said certification [was] still being awaited. June 17, 1994
May 25, 1989 Atty. Sedillo asked for postponement. He [would] attend a Kiwanis Training
The testimony of [Private Respondent] Pedro Quilat-Quilat [was] suspended after a Conference. Hearing [was] reset to July 4, 1994.
question was [propounded] that would require him to use reading eyeglasses which July 4, 1994
he did not have at the moment. Atty. Sedillo was present but Atty. Rosalinda Ybanez [was] available at 10:00 a.m. so
December 14, 1989 the case [was] reset to August 15, 1994.
Hearing [was] reset due to the illness of [private respondents'] counsel. August 15, 1994
September 20, 1990 Judge [was] on leave. Hearing [was] reset to October 3, 1994.
Atty. Eleccion, [petitioners'] counsel did not appear despite due notice. At this time, October 3, 1994
the [private respondents] rested their case. The hearing [was] reset to November 17, 1994 due to non-availability of [petitioners']
October 15, 1990 witness Atty. Roque Bonganciso who [was] on recall.
Atty. Eleccion [private respondents'] counsel did not appear. Hearing [was] reset to November 17, 1994
October 16, 1990. There [was] talk about [a] proposed settlement, hearing [was] held in abeyance.
October 16, 1990 January 6, 1995
Atty. Eleccion did not appear. Hearing [was] reset to December 10, 11 and 12. Since no settlement [was] realized a [private respondents'] motion to set [the] case
December 10, 1990 for hearing was filed and the case was reset to [February] 27, 1995.
Atty. Eleccion asked for postponement. Hearing [was] reset to December 11, 1990. February 27, 1995
December 11, 1990 Earlier, [petitioners'] counsel, Atty. Sedillo filed a motion for postponement as he
Atty. Eleccion did not appear. The case [was] submitted for decision as of th[at] day. [would be] appearing in a case in Manila. Atty. Ybanez manifested that on February
August 21, 1992 26, 1995 Atty. Sedillo was in Dumaguete and further that this case ha[d] been
delayed by the failure of the [petitioners] to complete the presentation of their Counsel for petitioners alleges that the addresses of his clients on file in his law firm
evidence. The Court then ordered the case submitted for decision for the THIRD TIME. were incorrect; hence, the notices and other forms of communication he had sent to
March 16, 1995 them were not received. He allegedly discovered this fact only after he had filed his
The Court issued an order reconsidering the February 27, 1995 order upon motion of withdrawal as their counsel. He also argues that the denial of the Motion to Reopen
Atty. Sedillo and set the case for the [petitioners] for June 16, 1995 with a STERN Trial was "plainly capricious and oppressive" because private respondents were
WARNING TO THE [PETITIONERS]. equally guilty of delay and procrastination. Finally, he maintains that allowing
June 16, 1995 petitioners to present their remaining evidence would be "in the interest of substantial
The hearing set for [this day] was cancelled as the Judge [was] on leave and reset to due process and humane justice."
September 8, 1995. Respondents disagree, reasoning that the trial court thrice reconsidered its Order to
September 8, 1995 submit the case for decision; that is, petitioners were given several opportunities to
The [petitioners'] counsel did not appear. Hearing [was] reset to November 16, 1995. present their evidence, but they squandered them. Petitioners, they further point out,
November 16, 1995 were intentionally seeking to delay the resolution of the case because they were in
The [petitioners'] counsel did not appear. Neither did his client. The hearing [was] physical possession of the land in dispute.
reset to February 13, 1996. Counsel's excuses are unsatisfactory and unacceptable. The CA ruled that petitioners
February 9, 1996 were given "more than enough time" to complete their presentation of evidence.
The [petitioners'] counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel. Respondents rested their case as early as September 1992. Petitioners' lawyer, at his
February 12, 1996 own request, was allowed to start presenting evidence only on April 12, 1993. From
The Court issued an order granting the withdrawal of the [petitioners'] counsel. The that day until April 26, 1996 or for a period of three years, counsel presented only
[petitioners were] directed to immediately engage the services of a new counsel. This two witnesses. The trial judge was in fact liberal in granting petitioners' Motions for
notice was received personally by the wife of [Petitioner] Mauro Edrial, Jr. Postponement. But enough was enough; when they attempted to delay the trial some
February 13, 1996 more, the trial judge finally and correctly refused to go along.
The Court issued an order setting the case [for] April 26, 1996. This order was True, respondents also asked for continuances, but petitioners were ultimately to
received by the wife of the [Petitioner] Mauro Edrial, Jr. blame for the inexcusable delay. The case was submitted for decision three times --
April 26, 1996 on December 11, 1990, October 30, 1992, and February 27, 1995 - but petitioners
There was no appearance from the [petitioners]. Hence, the case was submitted for and/or their counsel did not appear in court each time. After having failed to take
decision for the FOURTH TIME. advantage of opportunities to ventilate their claims below, parties may no longer be
July 8, 1996 accorded the same chances, in the absence of grave abuse of discretion on the part
Atty. Sedillo filed a motion to reopen the case and in effect reentered his appearance. of the trial court, as in this case.9
August 20, 1996 The Court frowns on lawyers' practice of repeatedly seeking extensions of time to file
Private respondents thru counsel filed opposition to the motion of the [petitioners]. pleadings and thereafter simply letting the period lapse without submitting any
September 6, 1996 pleading or even any explanation or manifestation of their failure.10 The same
The Hon. Judge issued an order denying the motion to reopen hereby affirming the principle applies more forcefully to motions for continuance. Postponement is not a
April 26, 1996 order submitting the case for decision. matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion. Actions thereon will not be disturbed
September 11, 1996 by appellate courts in the absence of a clear or manifest abuse of discretion, resulting
[Petitioners] filed a motion for reconsideration. in a denial of substantial justice.11 We concur with the CA that there is no such denial
October 2, 1996 in this case.1âwphi1
Court denied the motion for reconsideration. It is highly suspicious how the counsel for petitioners continued to represent his
October 23, 1996 clients effectively for several years despite allegedly having lost their correct
Private respondents received a copy of the Petition for Certiorari."6 addresses. It was definitely his duty to know the correct ones. Indeed, it was too late
Ruling of the Court of Appeals for him to do so after he had withdrawn as their counsel. According to him, after April
The CA dismissed petitioners' appeal because, in issuing the questioned Orders, the 16, 1996, he sent an office employee to verify the whereabouts of Mauro Edrial Jr.
trial judge committed no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The inquiry yielded the information that Mauro actually resided in San Jose, Negros
In giving petitioners more than ample time to complete their presentation of evidence Oriental, and that Susan Edrial Valenzuela resided in Gomez St., Dumaguete City.12
and in granting their Motions for Postponement, the judge was accommodating them He should have undertaken the search before withdrawing as counsel. Further, notice
more than they actually deserved. might not have been received by petitioners themselves, but that did not excuse
Hence, this Petition.7 counsel's failure to appear during trials.
Issues Counsel for petitioners further avers that he had difficulty in presenting Atty. Roque
Petitioners submit that the CA erred in affirming the twin Orders of the Dumaguete Bonganciso because of the latter's prior commitments which conflicted with the
City RTC, Branch 39. They contend that a reversal thereof would have allowed them scheduled trial dates. The last witness was Mauro Edrial Jr., but counsel had the wrong
to complete their presentation of evidence. Hence, by affirming those Orders, the CA address on file. He should just have adjusted the order of presentation of witnesses
allegedly violated their right to due process.8 and called Edrial Jr. later. Such move could have prevented the postponement.
This Court's Ruling Besides, finding an available date in his calendar would not have taken Atty.
The Petition is without merit. Bonganciso three years.
Main Issue The Code of Professional Responsibility requires that lawyers, after obtaining
Due Process and Reopening of Trial extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, shall not let the period
lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for their failure to do so Complainant adds that he had filed a motion to cite counsel for respondent corporation
(Rule 12.03).13 Moreover, they should avoid any action that would unduly delay a in contempt8 and an answer to the order dated 5 April 2000, but these were
case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse court processes (Rule 12.04). disregarded by Bartolabac on the ground that an appeal was already underway at the
For the benefit of the bench and bar, worth repeating is the CA's reminder to NLRC by the corporation.
petitioners' counsel of his duty to his client and to the court: Further, he states that he was not given a copy of the appeal memorandum filed by
"Being an officer of the court a lawyer is part of the machinery in the administration the corporation with the NLRC; yet, the NLRC First Division headed by Quimpo
of justice. Like the court itself, he is an instrument to advance its ends-the speedy, disposed of the same. He also alleges that the corporation did not post a cash bond
efficient, impartial, correct and inexpensive adjudication of cases and the prompt for the appeal nor did they give him a temporary reinstatement or payroll
satisfaction of final judgments. A lawyer should not only help attain these objectives reinstatement, which according to complainant, is mandatory. Despite this, and
but should likewise avoid any unethical or improper practices that impede, obstruct without giving complainant any opportunity to comment on the appeal memorandum,
or prevent their realization, charged as he is with the primary task of assisting in the Quimpo nonetheless issued a resolution dated 26 September 2000 which ordered the
speedy and efficient administration of justice."14 corporation to pay complainant separation pay plus backwages. Complainant asserts
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision and Resolution that Quimpo should have inhibited himself from deciding the case as he, or the NLRC
AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners. First Division, was the public respondent in the Supreme Court case.
SO ORDERED. Complainant admits having received the monetary award in the amount of
P449,062.98 from the corporation in satisfaction of this Court’s ruling in G.R. No.
126561 but contends that the award cannot be considered a cash bond for the appeal
ADM. CASE No. 5649 January 27, 2006 memorandum before the NLRC as the same was computed until 24 November 1999
DANDY V. QUIJANO, Complainant, vs. GEOBEL A. BARTOLABAC (Labor Arbiter, only and he has a right to the award because his case had long become final and
NLRC-NCR South), and ALBERTO R. QUIMPO (Commissioner, NLRC-First executory.
Division), Respondents. Thus, complainant asserts that his constitutional right to due process has been
TINGA, J.: seriously violated by Bartolabac and Quimpo.
On 19 March 2002, complainant Dandy Quijano filed before this Court a verified On 22 April 2002, this Court issued a Resolution9 requiring respondents to file their
complaint1 written in Pilipino against herein respondents Atty. Geobel A. Bartolabac respective comments on the complaint within ten (10) days from notice.
(Bartolabac), Labor Arbiter of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), and In his comment10 filed on 4 July 2002, Bartolabac states that the present complaint
Commissioner Alberto R. Quimpo (Quimpo) of the same Commission for violating is a rehash of several complaints against him which complainant filed before different
Canon 12 and Rule 1.013 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. fora, including this Court and the Office of the Ombudsman.
According to complainant, respondents violated his constitutional right to due process As to the issue of monetary award and reinstatement due the complainant, Bartolabac
in failing to execute the final and executory judgment of this Court in G.R. No. 126561 argues that the records of G.R. No. 126561 reveal that the corporation had already
entitled Quijano v. Mercury Drug Corporation.4 released to complainant the sum of P297,930.75 as cash bond deposit. The amount
The antecedent facts are as follows: of P449,062.98 had been deposited to the cashier of the NLRC. Out of the said
Complainant was dismissed from service by the Mercury Drug Corporation remaining amount, Bartolabac directed the release of P250,660.62 to complainant.
(corporation). He filed a complaint for illegal dismissal before the NLRC. Eventually, The remaining balance of P198,402.36 was to answer for complainant’s MEDICARE
the case was elevated to this Court. On 8 July 1998, the Court promulgated its and SSS contributions, withholding tax, loans, etc., which had yet to be determined
Decision in favor of herein complainant ordering, among others, his reinstatement.5 at that time. Bartolabac gave both parties the opportunity to dispute or defend their
The corporation’s motion for reconsideration was denied by this Court in its Resolution respective claims but complainant failed to cooperate either by not attending the
dated 5 July 1999. scheduled hearing called for that purpose on 27 March 2000, or by failing to file
Complainant relates that he filed with respondent Labor Arbiter Bartolabac a motion controverting evidence to dispute the claimed deductions by the corporation.11
for execution on 9 December 1998 but despite the final resolution of his case, Before Bartolabac could adjudicate the proper monetary award for complainant, the
Bartolabac issued an order that in effect changed the tenor of the final judgment.6 latter filed a complaint against him before the Office of the Ombudsman for oppression
While the decision of this Court had mandated complainant’s reinstatement, and grave misconduct. Due to this supervening event, Bartolabac’s sense of propriety
Bartolabac instead awarded backwages and separation pay. compelled him to inhibit himself from further participating in the adjudication of the
The Court, upon learning this, issued a Resolution7 on 17 November 1999 directing remaining balance of P198,402.36. But most importantly, he adds, the case was re-
Bartolabac to fully comply with its Decision dated 8 July 1998 and Resolution dated 5 raffled to Labor Arbiter Gaudencio P. Demaisip, Jr. who awarded the whole amount of
July 1999 within a non-extendible period of five (5) days from receipt thereof and to P449,062.36 which complainant has already received.
explain in writing why he should not be punished for indirect contempt for his Offering another perspective of the case at bar, Bartolabac avers that after the
actuations in handling the case and defiance of the Court’s directives. Supreme Court had rendered its decision in G.R. No. 126561 on 8 July 1998, the case
Pursuant to the Resolution of this Court, Bartolabac issued an alias writ of execution was re-raffled to Labor Arbiter Renell Joseph R. Dela Cruz for the satisfaction of
on 18 February 2000. However, respondent Bartolabac allegedly again unilaterally judgment. At that point, the exact monetary award and reinstatement aspects were
issued another order dated 5 April 2000, amending his previous order and assigning raised. Both parties submitted conflicting computations on the monetary award. The
the complainant to the position of self-service attendant of the corporation instead of corporation also asserted that they had abolished the position of warehouseman and
his original position of warehouseman. Subsequently, respondent Commissioner there was no substantially equivalent vacant position. Labor Arbiter Dela Cruz then
Quimpo overturned the above order of Bartolabac and directed the payment of ordered the parties to submit their respective position papers but eleven (11) days
separation pay rather than reinstatement to a substantially similar position as ordered thereafter, said labor arbiter issued an order inhibiting himself from handling the case
by this Court.
as he allegedly could not bear with complainant dictating the rules of the the other hand, is requested to expedite the proceedings before it on the issue of
proceedings.12 petitioner’s reinstatement.18
The labor case was re-raffled to Bartolabac on 20 April 1999. Unaware of the pending Hence, Quimpo adds, the NLRC did not abuse its discretion when it assumed
motion for reconsideration of the corporation in G.R. No. 126561 where the feasibility jurisdiction over the corporation’s appeal.
of reinstatement was at issue, he issued an order on 24 June 1999 ruling out Quimpo likewise explains that in resolving the appeal, he took judicial notice of the
complainant’s reinstatement, awarding separation pay instead and the amount of various resolutions issued by this Court and with utmost good faith and fidelity tried
P573,228.00 (less necessary deductions) as backwages. to implement the directive to reinstate the complainant to his former position or to a
As a consequence, this Court on 17 November 1999 reproached Bartolabac for substantially equivalent position. However, due to certain supervening events that
completely disregarding the corporation’s motion for reconsideration with this Court, transpired after the resolution of the labor case and up to the time of execution,
directing him to order complainant’s reinstatement and payment of backwages, moral reinstatement had become improbable and so it was the ruling of the Commission
damages, exemplary damages and attorney’s fees, and requiring him to explain in that separation pay instead of reinstatement would be the most logical, sensible and
writing why he should not be punished for indirect contempt for his handling of the practical solution.19
case and defiance of the Court’s directives. Bartolabac complied by filing his As to complainant’s claim that he was not furnished a copy of the corporation’s appeal
manifestation stating that his office was not furnished with a copy of the motion for memorandum, records show that a copy of the appeal memorandum was furnished
reconsideration. His act of adjudicating the issue of reinstatement was impelled by his counsel and in any event, complainant admitted his knowledge of the existing
the sense of urgency on the matter since he received a letter signed by complainant appeal when he filed a Reiteration of Motion to Release Monetary Award dated 20
and a Memo from the NLRC Chairman referring the complainant’s letter to him for June 2000, arguing that his monetary award should be released to him since only the
appropriate action.13 Both letters sought the immediate disposition of his labor case.14 issue of reinstatement is being appealed to the Commission.20
Based on the foregoing, Bartolabac maintains that complainant engaged in forum- Furthermore, Quimpo states that complainant filed a similar complaint with the Office
shopping for while complainant knew of the existence of the corporation’s motion for of the Ombudsman for neglect of duty but the same was dismissed. Complainant’s
reconsideration with this Court, he remained insistent that Bartolabac resolve the motion for reconsideration was denied with finality on 21 February 2002.
reinstatement issue.15 Complainant’s act of re-filing another administrative complaint is designed primarily
He also stresses that he did not incur delay in the disposition of the labor case. After to harass and intimidate him.21
he received the 17 November 1999 Resolution of this Court on 22 November 1999, He also notes that complainant already received the full satisfaction of his monetary
he issued an alias writ of execution on 24 November 1999 directing the sheriff to award which only shows that the Commission has complied in good faith with the
garnish the amount of P449,062.98 and to cause the reinstatement of complainant directive to execute the judgment award in favor of complainant.22
to a substantially equivalent position. When the sheriff returned the writ unsatisfied Without waiting for this Court’s action, complainant filed his Reply to Both
for failure of the corporation to comply with the reinstatement aspect as the open Respondent[s’] Comments23 on 23 July 2002. He substantially reiterates the
positions were only for pharmacist, pharmacy assistant, cashier and self-service arguments he made in his complaint.
attendant, he lost no time in resolving that, while the first three positions need college On 19 August 2002, this Court resolved, among others, to refer this case to the
graduates, the self-service attendant position may be sufficiently performed by Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
complainant even though he is not a college graduate.16 On 6 May 2003, the IBP submitted its resolution adopting and approving the report
Lastly, Bartolabac declares that with the filing of the appeal from the order of and recommendation of Investigating Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro dismissing the
reinstatement with the NLRC, he lost jurisdiction over the issue. complaint against respondents.24
For his part, Quimpo alleges that his inclusion in the present administrative case was Complainant filed a motion for reconsideration with the IBP but it was subsequently
due to his participation in disposing of the corporation’s appeal on the issue of denied since the matter had already been endorsed to this Court and the IBP no
complainant’s reinstatement as self-service attendant. He asserts that by law, the longer had jurisdiction over the case.25
Commission has exclusive appellate jurisdiction to hear and decide all decisions, We nonetheless resolve to treat the motion for reconsideration as a petition for review
awards or orders rendered by the labor arbiter.17 He adds that said authority was on certiorari of the IBP resolution.26
even tacitly recognized by the Court in its Resolution dated 7 June 2000 in relation to We now go to the main issue at bar, i.e., whether or not respondents are liable for
G.R. No. 126561. The pertinent portions of the resolution read: their acts in deviating from the final and executory judgment of this Court in G.R. No.
"On the issue of reinstatement, the Labor Arbiter issued an Order on April 5, 2000, 126561.
directing the private respondent to reinstate petitioner to the position of self-service The Court is unyielding in its adjudication that complainant must be reinstated to his
attendant. The reinstatement order was impugned by the private respondent as the former position as warehouseman or to a substantially equivalent position. This was
petitioner was allegedly not qualified for the position and there was already strained stated in its Decision dated 8 July 1998, reiterated in the Resolution dated 5 July
relations between the parties. The reinstatement order is now pending appeal before 1999, and again stressed in the Resolution dated 17 November 1999. In the latter
the NLRC. resolution, it was particularly expressed that:
As the NLRC has acquired jurisdiction over the issue of petitioner’s reinstatement and Indeed, private respondent’s [Mercury Drug Corporation] contention, as erroneously
the amount of deduction on petitioner’s monetary award is subject to proof and/or upheld by the labor arbiter, that there is no substantially equivalent position for
dispute by the respective parties before the Labor Arbiter, the letter-complaints of petitioner’s reinstatement has been categorically discounted by this Court. We took
the petitioner are thus hereby NOTED. judicial notice of the fact that private respondent Mercury Drug Corporation operates
IN VIEW THEREOF, Labor Arbiter Geobel A. Bartolabac is hereby directed to determine nationwide and has numerous branches all over the Philippines. Petitioner, as
with dispatch the amount still owning the petitioner, if any, and to see to it that no warehouseman, occupied a clerical/rank and file position in said company and we find
further delay would hamper the proceedings before him. Public respondent NLRC, on it highly inconceivable that no other substantially equivalent position exists to effect
his reinstatement.27
Clearly, the Court is unwilling to accept the corporation and respondent labor arbiter’s enshrined in the Constitution ensuring the protection of the rights of workers and the
reason that reinstatement is no longer feasible because the position of warehouseman promotion of their welfare.33
had already been abolished and there is no substantially equivalent position in the As a final word, we note that the IBP’s report and recommendation falls far short of
corporation. the Court’s expectations. After a lengthy account of the allegations of the parties, the
Both respondents labor arbiter and commissioner do not have any latitude to depart investigating commissioner concluded its report with a two-paragraph
from the Court’s ruling. The Decision in G.R. No. 126561 is final and executory and uncommendably bare exoneration, thus:
may no longer be amended. It is incumbent upon respondents to order the execution A detailed examination and evaluation of the evidence submitted by the parties
of the judgment and implement the same to the letter. Respondents have no showed that respondents Labor Arbiter Geobel A. Bartolabac and Commissioner
discretion on this matter, much less any authority to change the order of the Court. Alberto R. Quimpo only performed the duties required of them under the Rules and
The acts of respondent cannot be regarded as acceptable discretionary performance Procedure of Law particularly that pertaining to the NLRC Rules and Procedures and
of their functions as labor arbiter and commissioner of the NLRC, respectively, for the Labor Code; as Labor Arbiter and Commissioner.
they do not have any discretion in executing a final decision. The implementation of In fact, complainant’s complaints against them before the Ombudsman relative to the
the final and executory decision is mandatory. same case were dismissed with finality which office has jurisdiction over respondents
As held in Siy v. National Labor Relations Commission and Embang:28 relative to the performance of their duties as Labor Arbiter and Commissioner and not
Once the case is decided with finality, the controversy is settled and the matter is laid on a lawyer-client relationship nor on the practice of the professions as lawyer or
to rest. The prevailing party is entitled to enjoy the fruits of his victory while the other members of the Bar.34
party is obliged to respect the court’s verdict and to comply with it. We reiterate our How the IBP investigating commissioner arrived at that supposition or in what manner
pronouncement in Salicdan v. Court of Appeals:29 were the acts of herein respondents regularly done cannot be extracted from its
…well-settled is the principle that a decision that has acquired finality becomes scanty determination.
immutable and unalterable and may no longer be modified in any respect even if the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds respondents liable for violating
modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law and whether it Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondents Labor
will be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land. Arbiter Geobel A. Bartolabac and Commissioner Alberto R. Quimpo are hereby
The reason for this is that litigation must end and terminate sometime and SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of THREE (3) months.
somewhere, and it is essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished the Bar Confidant for appropriate annotation
that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not deprived of the on the records of the respondents.
fruits of the verdict. Courts must guard against any scheme calculated to bring about SO ORDERED.
that result and must frown upon any attempt to prolong the controversies.
The Court recognizes Bartolabac’s efforts to adjudicate and advance the cause of
complainant, albeit erroneously. In his desire to settle the issue of reinstatement, he A.C. No. 7062 September 26, 2006
determined that complainant, a high school graduate, be appointed to the position of [Formerly CBD Case No. 04-1355]
self-service attendant which requires the appointee to hold a college degree, since RENERIO SAMBAJON, RONALD SAMBAJON, CRISANTO CONOS, and
the corporation "failed to rationalize the need for a college graduate for the position FREDILYN BACULBAS, complainants, vs. ATTY. JOSE A. SUING, respondent.
of self-service attendant…and…complainant has exhibited before [the NLRC] that he CARPIO MORALES, J.:
has a reasonable degree of comprehension to understand and perform the functions Complainants, via a complaint1 filed before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
of a self-service attendant."30 Complainant had pointed out several job openings31 in (IBP), have sought the disbarment of Atty. Jose A. Suing (respondent) on the grounds
the corporation to which he would be qualified, but respondent made no effort to of deceit, malpractice, violation of Lawyer's Oath and the Code of Professional
verify it. Instead, he took at face value the corporation’s representation that there Responsibility.2
were limited vacancies. It is inconceivable that a company as large as the corporation, Herein complainants were among the complainants in NLRC Case No. 00-0403180-
operating nationwide, could not accommodate complainant and appoint him to one of 98, "Microplast, Inc. Workers Union, Represented by its Union President Zoilo Ardan,
its numerous rank and file positions. et al. v. Microplast, Incorporated and/or Johnny Rodil and Manuel Rodil," for Unfair
Again, we are unceasing in emphasizing that the decision in the labor case has Labor Practice (ULP) and Illegal Dismissal, while respondent was the counsel for the
become final and executory since 1999. There can be no justification for the therein respondents. Said case was consolidated with NLRC Case No. 00-04-03161-
overturning of the Court’s reinstatement order by the NLRC First Division and full 98, "Microplast Incorporated v. Vilma Ardan, et al.," for Illegal Strike.
satisfaction of the monetary award of only three (3) years after the finality of the By Decision of August 29, 2001,3 Labor Arbiter Ariel Cadiente Santos dismissed the
judgment.lawphil.net Illegal Strike case, and declared the employer-clients of respondent guilty of ULP.
The Court is not wont to compel the corporation to instantly restore the position of Thus, the Labor Arbiter disposed:
warehouseman if it has been already abolished. Indeed, the Court granted that WHEREFORE, premises considered, the complaint for illegal strike is dismissed for
complainant could be reinstated to a substantially equivalent or similar position as a lack of merit.
viable alternative for the corporation to carry out.lavvphil.net Respondents Microplast, Inc., Johnny Rodil and Manuel Rodil are hereby declared
Our Constitution mandates that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, and guilty of Unfair Labor Practice for union busting and that the dismissal of the nine (9)
property without due process of law.32 It should be borne in mind that employment is complainants are declared illegal. All the respondents in NLRC Case No. 00-04-03161-
considered a property right and cannot be taken away from the employee without 98 for illegal dismissal are directed to reinstate all the complainants to their former
going through legal proceedings. In the instant case, respondents wittingly or position with full backwages from date of dismissal until actual reinstatement
unwittingly dispossessed complainant of his source of living by not implementing his computed as follows:
reinstatement. In the process, respondents also run afoul of the public policy 3. CRISANTO CONOS
xxxx
Backwages:

Basic Wage: 7. RONALD SAMBAJON


(same as Conos)
2/21/98 – 10/30/99 = 20.30 mos.
P198.00 x 26 days x 20.30 263,225.81
= 8.FREDELYN BACULBAS
P104, 504.40 (same as Conos)

10/31/99 - 10/31/00 = 12 mos. 263,225.81


P223.50 x 26 days x 12 9. RENEIRO SAMBAJON
= (same as Conos)
69, 732.00
263,225.81
11/01/00 - 8/30/01 = 10 mos.
P250.00 x 26 days x 10 Total Backwages
=
65,000.00 P2,370,674.38
Respondents are jointly and severally liable to pay the above-mentioned backwages
including the various monetary claims stated in the Manifestation dated August 24,
1998 except payment of overtime pay and to pay 10% attorney's fees of all sums
P239,236.40 owing to complainants.4 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The Decision having become final and executory, the Labor Arbiter issued on
13th Month Pay: September 2, 2003 a Writ of Execution.5
1/12 of P239,236.40 In the meantime, on the basis of individual Release Waiver and Quitclaims dated
= February 27, 2004 purportedly signed and sworn to by seven of the complainants in
19,936.36 the ULP and Illegal Dismissal case before Labor Arbiter Santos in the presence of
respondent, the Labor Arbiter dismissed said case insofar as the seven complainants
SILP were concerned, by Order dated March 9, 2004. 6
Herein complainants, four of the seven who purportedly executed the Release Waiver
and Quitclaims, denied having signed and sworn to before the Labor Arbiter the said
documents or having received the considerations therefor. Hence, spawned the
2/16/98 - 12/31/98 = 10.33 mos. administrative complaint at bar, alleging that respondent, acting in collusion with his
P198.00 x 5 days x 10.33/ 12 clients Johnny and Manuel Rodil, "frustrated" the implementation of the Writ of
= Execution by presenting before the Labor Arbiter the spurious documents.
852.22 In a related move, complainants also filed a criminal complaint for Falsification against
respondent, together with his clients Johnny and Manuel Rodil, before the Prosecutor's
Office of Quezon City where it was docketed as I.S. No. 04-5203.7
1/1/99 - 12/31/99 = 12mos. In his Report and Recommendation8 dated September 27, 2005, IBP Commissioner
P223.50 x 5 days x 12/12 Salvador B. Hababag, who conducted an investigation of the administrative complaint
= at bar, recommended that respondent be faulted for negligence and that he be
1,117.50 reprimanded therefor with warning, in light of his following discussion:
The issue to be resolved is whether or not respondent can be disbarred for his alleged
manipulation of four alleged RELEASE WAIVER AND QUITCLAIM by herein
1/1/00 - 10/30/01 = 20 mos. complainants who subsequently disclaimed the same as bogus and falsified.
P250.00 x 5 days x 20/12 A lawyer takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar. By doing so he thereby
= becomes an Officer of the Court on whose shoulders rests the grave responsibility of
2,083.33 assisting the courts in the proper, fair, speedy and efficient administration of justice.
4,053.05 Mindful of the fact that the present proceedings involve, on the one hand, the right
of a litigant to seek redress against a member of the Bar who has, allegedly caused
him damaged, either through malice or negligence, while in the performance of his
duties as his counsel, and, on the other, the right of that member of the Bar to protect
P263,225.81 and preserve his good name and reputation, we have again gone over and considered
[the] aspects of the case.
All the cases protesting and contesting the genuineness, veracity and due execution Hindi po ako nakialam don sa kanilang usapan because it is my belief that the best
of the questioned RELEASE WAIVER AND QUITCLAIM namely: Urgent Ex-Parte Motion way, Your Honor, to have a dispute settled between the parties is that we let them
to Recall, Appeal and Falsification are PENDING resolution in their respective venues. do the discussion, we'll let them do the settlement because sometimes you know,
Arbiter Ariel Cadiente Santos, who was supposed to know the identities of the herein Your Honor, sad to say, when lawyers are involved in a matters [sic] of settlement
complainants is not impleaded by the complainants when it was his solemn duty and the dispute does not terminate as in this case, Your Honor.
obligation to ascertain true and real identities of person executing Release Waiver xxxx
with Quitclaim. COMM. HABABAG:
The old adage that in the performance of an official duty there is that presumption of Yes. What made you appear on said date and time before Arbiter Santos?
regularity unless proven otherwise, such was proven in the January 28, 2005 ATTY. SUING:
clarificatory questioning . . . : I was called by my client to go to the office of Arbiter Santos, number one, to witness
xxxx the signing of the documents of Quitclaim and Waiver; number 2, so that according
. . . In the case at bar, the question of whether or not respondent actually committed to them someone as a lawyer will represent them in that proceedings.
the despicable act would seem to be fairly debatable under the circumstances.9 COMM. HABABAG:
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) My query, did it not surprise you that no money was given to you and yet there would
The Board of Governors of the IBP, by Resolution No. XVII-2005-226, approved and be a signing of Quitclaim Receipt and Release?
adopted the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Hababag. ATTY. SUING:
After the records of the case were forwarded to the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC), I am not, your Honor, because it happened before and there were no complaints,
the Director for Bar Discipline of the IBP10 transmitted additional records including a Your Honor.
Motion to Amend the Resolution No. XVII-2005-22611 filed by respondent. COMM. HABABAG:
One of the complainants, Renerio Sambajon (Sambajon), by Petition12 filed before Just because it happened before you did not bother to see to it that there is a voucher
the OBC, assailed the IBP Board Resolution. The Petition was filed three days after so you just rely on your precedent, is that what you mean?
the 15-day period to assail the IBP Resolution. Sambajon explains that while his ATTY. SUING:
counsel received the Resolution on February 27, 2006, he only learned of it when he Yes, Your Honor, because I always believe that the parties who are talking and it is
visited on March 16, 2006 his counsel who could not reach him, he (Sambajon) having my client who knows them better than I do, Your Honor.
transferred from one residence to another. COMM. HABABAG:
Giving Sambajon the benefit of the doubt behind the reason for the 3-day delay in So, you just followed the instruction of your client to be present at Arbiter Cadiente
filing the present petition, in the interest of justice, this Court gives his petition due Santos office because there would be signing of Quitclaim Receipt and Release, it that
course. clear?
In respondent's Motion to Amend the IBP Board Resolution, he does not deny that ATTY. SUING:
those whom he met face to face before Commissioner Hababag were not the same Yes, Your Honor.
persons whom he saw before Labor Arbiter Santos on February 27, 2004. 13 He COMM. HABABAG:
hastens to add though that he was not familiar with the complainants as they were [You] [d]id not bother to ask your client where is the money intended for the payment
not attending the hearings before Arbiter Santos.14 Complainants15 and their former of these workers?
counsel Atty. Rodolfo Capocyan16 claim otherwise, however. And the Minutes17 of ATTY. SUING:
the proceedings before the National Conciliation Mediation Board in a related case, I did not ask.
NCMB-NCR-NS-02-081-98, "Re: Microplast, Inc., Labor Dispute," which minutes bear COMM. HABABAG:
respondent's and complainants' signatures, belie respondent's claim that he had not You did not asked [sic] your client who will prepare the documents?
met complainants before. ATTY. SUING:
Respondent, who declared that he went to the Office of the Labor Arbiter on February As far as the documents are concerned, Your Honor.
27, 2004 on the request of his clients who "told him that on February 27, 2004 the COMM. HABABAG:
seven claimants w[ould] be at the office of Arbiter Santos [to] submit their respective The Quitclaim Receipt and Release?
quitclaims and waivers," heaps on the Labor Arbiter the responsibility of ascertaining ATTY. SUING:
the identity of the parties who executed the Release Waiver and Quitclaims. But Yes, Your Honor, I remember this. They asked me before February of 1998.
respondent himself had the same responsibility. He was under obligation to protect COMM. HABABAG:
his clients' interest, especially given the amount allegedly given by them in When you say they whom are you referring to?
consideration of the execution of the documents. His answers to the clarificatory ATTY. SUING:
questions of Commissioner Hababag do not, however, show that he discharged such I'm referring to my client, Your Honor.
obligation. COMM. HABABAG:
COMM. HABABAG: They asked me attorney can you please prepare us a document of Quitclaim and
But is it not a fact [that it is] also your duty to ask.. that the money of your client Waiver or give us a simple [sic] of Quitclaim and Waiver. I do recall that I made one
would go to the deserving employee? but this document, Your Honor, is only a single document where all the signatories
ATTY. SUING: named are present because my purpose there really, Your Honor, is that so that each
I did not do that anymore, Your Honor, because there was already as you call it before of them will be there together and they will identify themselves, see each other para
a precedent in February of 1998 when my client directly made settlement to the nine ho siguradong sila-sila yong magkakasama at magkakakilanlan. x x x x And when the
or eight of the seventeen original complainants, Your Honor, and I did not participate. signing took place in February of 2004 it was made for any [sic] individual, Your
Honor, no longer the document that I prepared when all of the seven will be signing Ibig mong sabihin ibinigay sa yo to ng complainant o sinong nag-abot sa iyo nitong
in one document. Receipt Waiver and Quitclaim?
COMM. HABABAG: MR. RODIL:
Okay. You did not inquire from your client whom [sic] made the changes? Si Atty. Suing po.
ATTY. SUING: ATTY. SUING:
I did not anymore because, Your Honor, at the time when I was there, there are In fact, ang tanong sa iyo kung ibinigay daw sa iyo yong mga dokumentong ito or
already people there, the seven complainants plus another woman.18 (Emphasis and what?
underscoring supplied) COMM. HABABAG:
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: Okay, uulitin ko ha, tagalog na ang tanong ko sa iyo ha hindi na English. Ito bang
CANON 17 – A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL Release Waiver and Quitclaim sino ang may gawa nito, sino ang nagmakinilya nito?
BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM. MR. RODIL:
CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND Kami yata ang gumawa niyan.
DILIGENCE. COMM. HABABAG:
xxxx Pag sinabi mong kami yata ang may gawa sino sa inyong mga officer, tauhan o
Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his abogado ang gumawa nito?
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. MR. RODIL:
To be sure, respondent's client Manuel Rodil did not request him to go to the Office Matagal na ho yan eh.
of Labor Arbiter Cadiente to be a mere passive witness to the signing of the Release xxxx
Waiver and Quitclaims. That he was requested to go there could only mean that he COMM. HABABAG:
would exert vigilance to protect his clients' interest. This he conceded when he Okay. Pangalawang gusto kong itanong. Sino ang naghatid nito kay Ariel Cadiente
acknowledged the purpose of his presence at the Office of Labor Arbiter Santos, thus: Santos para pirmahan ni Ariel Cadiente Santos?
ATTY. SUING: MR. RODIL:
To go there, Your Honor, and represent them and see that these document[s] are Si attorney po.
properly signed and that these people are properly identified and verified them in ATTY. SUING:
front of Arbiter Ariel Cadiente Santos.19 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Wait. I did not bring the documents. The Commissioner is asking kung sino ang
That there was an alleged precedent in 1998 when a group of complainants entered nagdala ng mga dokumento?
into a compromise agreement with his clients in which he "did not participate" and MR. RODIL:
from which no problem arose did not excuse him from carrying out the admitted Yong mga tao.
purpose of going to the Labor Arbiter's office — "that [the complainants] are properly xxxx
identified . . . in front of [the] Arbiter." COMM. HABABAG:
Besides, by respondent's own information, Labor Arbiter Santos was entertaining Simple ang tanong ko ha. Intindihin mo muna. Kanino mo inabot ang bayad sa
doubts on the true identity of those who executed the Release Waiver and nakalagay dito sa Release waiver and Quitclaim?
Quitclaims.20 That should have alerted him to especially exercise the diligence of a MR. RODIL:
lawyer to protect his clients' interest. But he was not and he did not. Kay attorney po.
Diligence is "the attention and care required of a person in a given situation and is COMM. HABABAG:
the opposite of negligence." A lawyer serves his client with diligence by adopting that Pag sinabi mong kay attorney sinong tinutukoy mong attorney?
norm of practice expected of men of good intentions. He thus owes entire devotion ATTY. SUING:
to the interest of his client, warm zeal in the defense and maintenance of his rights, Yong ibinigay na pera pambayad saan, yon ang tanong.
and the exertion of his utmost learning, skill, and ability to ensure that nothing shall COMM. HABABAG:
be taken or withheld from him, save by the rules of law legally applied. It is axiomatic Sundan mo ang tanong ko ha. Ako ang nagtatanong hindi ang abogado mo.
in the practice of law that the price of success is eternal diligence to the cause of the MR. RODIL:
client. Opo.
The practice of law does not require extraordinary diligence (exactissima diligentia) COMM. HABABAG:
or that "extreme measure of care and caution which persons of unusual prudence and Huwag kang tatawa. I'm reminding you serious tayo dito.
circumspection use for securing and preserving their rights. All that is required is MR. RODIL:
ordinary diligence (diligentia) or that degree of vigilance expected of a bonus pater Opo serious po.
familias. x x x21 (Italics in the original; underscoring supplied) COMM. HABABAG:
And this Court notes the attempt of respondent to influence the answers of his client Sabi mo may inabutan kang taong pera?
Manuel Rodil when the latter testified before Commissioner Manuel Hababag: MR. RODIL:
COMM. HABABAG: Opo.
May pinirmahan dito na Quitclaim Receipt and Release. Ito ho ba sinong may gawa COMM. HABABAG:
nitong Receipt Waiver and Quitclaim? Ang sagot mo kay attorney. Sinong attorney ang tinutukoy mo?
MR. RODIL: MR. RODIL:
Sila po. Atty. Suing po.
COMM. HABABAG: COMM. HABABAG:
Okay. 2. In giving credit to the testimony of Pedro Bingayen.
ATTY. SUING: 3. In not finding that the deceased Pedro Uy accidentally met his death by drowning
Your Honor,… in his attempt to got he house of Martin Ferry on September 8, 1937 by crossing the
COMM. HABABAG: Sibang river.
Pabayaan mo muna. I'll come to that. Magkano kung iyong natatandaan ang perang 4. In admitting the statement Exhibit M against the accused Martin Ferry and Zacarias
inabot kay Atty. Suing? Manalang, and the statement Exhibit E against the accused Juan Julio de los Santos,
MR. RODIL: and
Yan ang hindi ko matandaan. 5. In finding the three guilty of the crime of murder and in imposing on them the
x x x x22 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) penalties above-mentioned, instead of acquitting them of said crime.
Thus, not only did respondent try to coach his client or influence him to answer Pedro Uy (alias We Kwan), for whose death the judgment appealed from makes the
questions in an apparent attempt not to incriminate him (respondent). His client three appellants responsible, was according to the record, a Christian Chinaman who
contradicted respondent's claim that the Release Waiver and Quitclaim which he was engaged in business in the municipality of Tuao, Province of Cagayan. Before
(respondent) prepared was not the one presented at the Arbiter's Office, as well as starting his planned trip to the town of Appari, of said province, he desired to see the
his implied claim that he was not involved in releasing to the complainants the money accused Martin Ferry, another merchant engaged in gathering tobacco for the account
for and in consideration of the execution of the documents. of the "Alhambra" cigar factory and in the rice milling business which belonged to him
As an officer of the court, a lawyer is called upon to assist in the administration of exclusively, in the barrio of Palca, of the said municipality of Tuao, for the purpose of
justice. He is an instrument to advance its cause. Any act on his part that tends to collecting from him a small account in the amount of P60 and a few cents and to
obstruct, perverts or impedes the administration of justice constitutes misconduct.23 discuss with him the sale of Ferry's rice in Appari as they had previously agreed. The
While the Commission on Bar Discipline is not a court, the proceedings therein are two were compadres inasmuch as Uy had acted as sponsor for Ferry's daughter Lydia
nonetheless part of a judicial proceeding, a disciplinary action being in reality an when the latter was baptized in May, 1937. Uy left his house after breakfast on
investigation by the Court into the misconduct of its officers or an examination into September 8, 1937. As he did not return on that day nor on the day following, his
his character.24 family became alarmed and subsequently employed several men to search for him
In Bantolo v. Castillon, Jr.25 the respondent lawyer was found guilty of gross for fear that he had been the victim of a mishap or accident on the road. They found
misconduct for his attempts to delay and obstruct the investigation being conducted him around five o'clock in the afternoon of the tenth, but already dead, his body
by the IBP. Nonetheless, this Court found that a suspension of one month from the floating in the Sibang estero or river about one meter from the shore. On his body
practice of law was enough to give him "the opportunity to retrace his steps back to were found the same clothes he had worn when he left his house and some of the
the virtuous path of the legal profession." papers he had brought with him as Exhibit H, a stub of receipts some of which were
While the disbarment of respondent is, under the facts and circumstances attendant filled and others blanks, bearing serial Nos. 750 to 800; Exhibit 1 which is a letter of
to the case, not reasonable, neither is reprimand as recommended by the IBP. This the write of the accused Martin Fery addressed to the write of Pedro Uy; Exhibits J
Court finds that respondent's suspension from the practice of law for six months is in and J-1 which bear the headings "Dr. M. Ferry" and "Dr. Martin Ferry" respectively,
order. and which, on their face, are some accounts for merchandise of the total value of
WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Jose A. Suing, is found GUILTY of negligence and P64.93, of which P26.60 is the total appearing in Exhibit J, and P38.33 the total
gross misconduct and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of Six (6) appearing in Exhibit J-1.
Months, with WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with After the cadaver of Pedro Uy was found, it was examined by the president of the 8th
more severely. sanitary division Dr. Ricardo Pagulayan, his sanitary inspector Geronimo Arao, justice
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated of the peace Canuto M. Baligod, and municipal president Marciano Baligod. In the
Bar of the Philippines, and all courts throughout the country. record of their proceedings (Exh. G or 1), they state that they did not find in the body
SO ORDERED. any sign of violence, except a contusion of the size of a peso in the superior dorsal
part of the right ear and that the same "was in an advanced state of putrefaction."
The body was later embalmed with the permission of the proper authorities. On
G.R. No. L-45901 October 10, 1938 September 12, 1937, Doctors Pagulayan and Gaerlan performed the autopsy, and in
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MARTIN FERRY, the certificate they issued, they state that they found eccyhymosis at the level of the
ZACARIAS MANALANG, and JUAN JULIO DE LOS SANTOS, defendants- waist in an horizontal direction and a swelling of the size of an egg in the temporo-
appellants. occipital region above the right ear, and that the nails of the deceased were covered
Felix B. Bautista and Macario Guevara for appellants. with mud.
Felipe Buencamino, Jr., Macario M. Peralta and Barrera & Reyes for appellant Ferry. As regards the internal examinations, the two physicians also declared having found
Solicitor-General Tuason for appellee. the following: "Hearts congested; valves dilated and the ventricular walls are
DIAZ, J.: distended with water mixed with blood. Endocardium also markedly congested.
The accused Martin Ferry, Zacarias Manalang, and Juan Julio de los Santos appealed Lungs show acute passive congestion and distention, crepetiates (sic) on pressure
from the judgment of the lower court finding them guilty of the crime of murder for and it floats when placed in a basin of water.
the death of a Chinaman named Pedro Uy (alias We Kwan), and sentencing them to As to the examination of the head, they likewise declared having found "semi
the penalty of reclusion perpetua, to indemnify jointly and severally the heirs of said coagulated blood" around the contusion and "blood in the form of petechial
Chinaman in the sum of P1,000 and each to pay a proportional part of the costs. In hemmorrhage in the pia mater (sic) in the right of the membrane (sic)."
their brief they allege that the court erred: Notwithstanding that the certificate of autopsy of Doctors Pagulayan and Gaerlan says
1. In not declaring itself without jurisdiction to try the case. that the lungs "show acute passive congestion and distention" and that "on section-
Nothing particular except the presence of small quantity of serious liquid", it was the crime for the purpose of throwing his body into the Sibang river, passing through
observed that when the body was fished from the river a quantity of water which, in tobacco and corn fields and exposing themselves thereby to the needless risk of being
the opinion of the justice of the peace, would be sufficient to fill a glass to half its seen by the owners thereof. It is unlike that appellant Ferry who is an educated man
capacity flowed from the mouth of the deceased. 9a doctor of veterinary science from the University of the Philippines) and who is
Pedro Bingayen, the sole witness for the prosecution, who alleged having seen the furthermore an enterprising and industrious merchant inasmuch as he is engaged not
supposed act of aggression of which Pedro Uy was the victim of the appellant Juan only in the business of buying and selling tobacco, but also in the milling and selling
Julio de los Santos, attempted to show to some extent that the ecchymosis on the of rice, would, after entrusting the execution of the proposed plan to kill Pedro Uy to
back of Uy at the level of the waist was the mark left by a blow inflicted by Juan Julio his servants Pedro Bingayen and Juan Julio de los Santos on threat of death and
de los Santos on that part of Uy's body with a branch broken from a tree, when Uy promise to pay them P500 if they would kill him, two things which hardly go together,
passed near his aggressor through the bridge indicated with the latter "G" in Exhibit follow them not far behind, unarmed and accompanied by Zacarias Manalang who
6; and that the contusion found on the upper dorsal part of the right ear or "right likewise did not carry any weapon and had no cause for ill feeling or grudge against
temporo-occipital (sic) region", was the mark of the blow which the accused and Pedro Uy, so as to see how they would carry out his design. It is even more unlikely
appellant Zacarias Manalang, in turn, had given the deceased with the same branch. that Zacarias Manalang, just because he was in the employ of Ferry as his buyer of
The testimony of Pedro Bingayen is briefly as follows: Martin Ferry, of whom he was tobacco, would, more indignant than his master, beat the deceased with the branch
a servant at monthly salary of P6 plus a cavan of rice, told him on September 6, 1937 of a tree above-mentioned until the latter was dead. It is also improbable that if his
that he(Bingayen) and Juan Julio de los Santos kill Pedro Uy whose visit was expected master Ferry had succeeded in inducing him to kill Pedro Uy, Pedro Bingayen would
n the 8th of the month and that when he (Ferry) would give them the signal, the two not take part in the commission of the crime, especially when, as he declared in his
should go straight to the bridge to wait for Uy and kill him; that Ferry threatened affidavit which he signed before two policemen and the justice of the peace of Tuao,
them with death should they not obey his order and that he would pay them P500 that before proceeding to the bridge, the place designated for the commission of the
upon their complying with it; that for fear rather than the desire to gain the sum of crime, Ferry made him take some gin to give him courage as he did with appellant
P500 which had been promised them, he and Juan Julio de los Santos proceeded to Juan Julio de los Santos. And it is likewise improbable that appellant Ferry being able
the bridge to carry out their plan to kill Pedro Uy when their master Martin Ferry to commit the crime himself if he had ever thought of committing it, would employ
winked at them at noon on September 8, 1937 which was the occassion on which for that purpose three accomplices, thus making it more difficult for him to keep the
Pedro Uy arrived at Ferry's house, but with bare hands, without even a knife or a dull same a secret and less probable the impunity of his act.
bolo; that when they almost reached the bridge, his courage failed him and he Attempt has been made to show that the motive for the crime were the rivalries in
deviated from the road and ran to hide himself behind the banana plant which was business between Ferry and Uy and the latter's insistence in collecting from the former
about 11 meters distant from the said bridge; that Juan Julio de los Santos proceeded an account of some P60 plus. Uy's widow declared that among the papers which he
alone to the bridge in order to wait there for Pedro Uy who soon showed up; that with brought on the morning of the day in question was a receipt or chit of Ferry for P60,
a branch broken from a tree which he casually found near the bridge, Juan Julio de which seemed to be the account Uy was going to collect from him. Said paper was
los Santos hit the deceased in the right hip when the latter passed by him; that the not among those found in the possession of the deceased when the authorities
deceased thereupon fell face downwards on the wooden floor of the bridge from the recovered his body. It is insinuated that Ferry was not ignorant of its disappearance.
horse he was riding; that immediately thereafter Zacarias Manalang and martin Ferry If this be accepted, even only hypothetically, then the non-disappearance of the other
arrived unarmed like them; and that as soon as Manalang reached the scene he took papers relating also to the accounts of Ferry like Exhibits H, J and J-1 which were
from Juan Julio de los Santos the branch with which the latter had beaten Pedro Uy found in the possession on the deceased can not possibly be explained. lâwphi1.nêt
and with it he, in turn, gave Uy a blow on the head, instantly killing him. What rivalries and competition were there between Ferry and Uy in their business?
With same emphasis with which he testified concerning the facts above-related, Pedro There is nothing definite in the record concerning the matter. On the contrary, it
Bingayen declared that he saw blood flow from the wound in the head of Pedro Uy appears that their relations never cooled down from the date they became intimate
caused by the blow inflicted by Zacarias Manalang; that Pedro Uy wore white trousers and that there was no reason why they should compete because they were not
and a "white shirt" at the time; and that when Martin Ferry, Zacarias Manalang and engaged in the same kind of business. If Ferry in his wife needed some merchandise
Juan Julio de los Santos saw him dead they carried him, one holding his feet and the and Uy and in his wife had it, the former would get from the latter in preference to
others his hands in order to throw him into the Sibang river at a straight distance of others. A sure sign of the good relations existing between the two couples, beside the
200 meters from the bridge where the aggression took place, passing through lands fact that they were compadres, was that, according to the evidence of the prosecution
planted with tobacco and corn. itself, Ferry's wife stayed in the house of the prosecution itself, Ferry's wife stayed in
When one proposes to commit a crime of the nature of that imputed to the accused, the house of the Uy's on September 5, 1937 and was there well attended and
it seems that the first step to take would be to provide himself with a deadly weapon entertained. Still another such sign are Exhibits 3 and 4, the last one being a letter of
with which to commit it. However, if credit is to be given to the testimony of Bingayen, Uy dated August 1, 1937 in which he informed Ferry of the result of his efforts to find
the accused did not act in this manner. It is for this reason that the statement of said out, in compliance with Ferry's requests, the prices of rice in Appari wherein Ferry
witness has all the trimmings and the flavor of a fairy tale. This becomes the more desired to sell his rice through Uy.
evident by the fact that no blood flowed from the contusion of Pedro Uy in the head Dr. Gaerlan testified at the trial that Pedro Uy died a violent death. He could not but
as the two physicians who performed the autopsy stated, and that Uy did not wear admit, however, that the presence of mud or clay on the nails of the deceased were
white trousers on the day in question. The justice of the peace who took all the steps positive signs of death by drowning. It is true that he declared that the absence of
for the recovery of the body, together with the municipal president of Tuao, Dr. water in the stomach, heart and lungs of the deceased made him conclude that Uy
Pagulayan and sanitary inspector Arao positively stated that the trousers which the did not die of drowning but of the injury received by him in the right temporo-occipital
deceased wore were black. It appears would carry him in broad daylight (it was noon region. However, granting that he died from said cause, this does not mean that the
of September 8, 1937 according to the record) about 200 meters from the place of injury was inflicted by Zacarias Manalang or by Juan Julio de los Santos. The
testimony of Dr. Gaerlan and of Dr. Pagulayan does not exclude the possibility that Abrasions of the hands, mud or sand under the finger nails, and foreign bodies
Uy fell from his horse and that his head struck a stone. The evidence of record shows grasped in the hands are at times found. In the struggles made by a drowning person
that there are many stones of the size of a person's head or bigger in the bed of the to save himself, he clutches wildly at every object in the water. Hence, if the water is
Sibang river where Uy's body was found. To this must be added the fact that Dr. not very deep, or the drowning person is near the bank, the fingers will most probably
Gaerlan admitted that the absence of water in the lungs and stomach is not always bear the marks of the sand or gravel, and weeds or sticks may remain firmly grasped
an indication that death did not result from drowning, especially when, as in the case in the hands. Unless the substances thus found are peculiar to the water, it may be
of Pedro UY, a small quantity of water mixed with blood was found in the left ventricle impossible to exclude their having come from a struggle on the bank. (3 Wharton and
of the heart and very red blood in the other ventricle. The following was his testimony: Stille, 350, 351.)
Q. So that there are cases in which water is not found? (The attorney refers to the Some of the most reliable means of diagnosing death form drowning are the physical
stomach). — A. If the drowning takes place rapidly, I believe there is no time for the and chemical methods, based on the well-known physiologic fact, that blood from the
entrance of water. lungs passes to the left heart, then through the whole system to the right heart and
Q. But may a person drown rapidly or do you mean that there are rapid and slow then back to the lungs. Thus, water entering the lungs will quickly reach the left heart
drownings? — A. That depends upon the resistance of the individual. There are rapid and dilute to the blood therein; while the blood of the right heart remains relatively
and slow drownings. undiluted. As may be inferred from this, the absence of heart beat will make it
Q. In rapid drownings is it generally the case that no water is found in the stomach? impossible for the water contained in the lungs to get into the left heart, as will be
— A. No, sir. There are cases in which water is found in the stomach. the case if the individual is thrown into the water after death. (Angeles on Legal
Q. And how may a rapid drowning take place? — A. Sometimes the nervous Medicine, 386.)
temperament, and carry heavy weights on his body which sink straight to the bottom. So, also, death may have been due to some natural cause, such as apoplexy, and the
Q. Do I understand, Doctor, that drowning may take place in two ways: first, by the person have fallen into the water immediately after the apoplectic stroke. Here, for
closing of the glottis, and second, by the entrance of water into the lungs through the instance, we should find, perhaps, a hemorrhage on the surface of the brain., which
air passages? — A. Yes, sir. might be attributed to violence. So, too, the person, in diving, may have struck a rock
xxx xxx xxx or some obstacle which has inflicted wounds of a very suspicious character. (3
Q. Is it not true that in all cases of drowning by spasmodic (the word "closing" was Wharton and Stille, 352.)
suppressed by the stenographer) of the glottis the individual does not absorb or take Then, asphyxiation may take place in two ways: first, from the spasmodic closure of
in water? — A. This may happen in all cases. the glottis due to the irritating effect of the water, and second, from the entrance of
xxx xxx xxx the water into the lungs through the respiratory passage talking the place of the air.
Q. In the particular case of Pedro Uy, although water was found in the lungs but none In the first case, the victim falling into the water usually sinks at once and remains
in the stomach, as you have said, is it not true that his death might have been caused below the surface. With the onset of unconsciousness, there is a relaxation of the
by drowning by spasmodic closing of the glottis? — A. It might have been. (Pp. 114, spasm of the glottis which permits the entrance of small amounts of water into the
115, t. s. n.) lungs, while the last inspiratory efforts take place before death. Under such
xxx xxx xxx circumstances death may also be due to "inhibition" which consequently results in a
Q. Have you not examined the pericardium? — A. Only the congestion of the more sudden death, thus explaining the absence of water in the lungs and stomach
pericardium. in some cases. (Angeles on Legal Medicine, 381, 382.)
Q. About the endocardium? — A. There was also congestion there resulting from the We must add to all this the fact that about one-half glass of water was ejected from
deceased's fight for his life due to the lack of oxygen. the mouth of the deceased when his body was placed on the bank after having been
Q. Is that another sign that the drowning took place ante mortem? — A. Yes, sir. (P. retrieved from the river.
124, t. s. n.) The lower court admitted the extrajudicial declarations (Exhibits E and M) of the
xxx xxx xxx appellant Juan Julio de los Santos in order to strengthen, by way of corroboration,
Q. Did you open the heart in its place or did you remove it from the body? — A. I those of the witness for the prosecution, Pedro Bingayen. In the declarations
removed it. aforementioned this appellant affirmed, in substance, all that to which Bingayen
Q. Was it then that you examined it? — A. Yes, sir. testified. It appears, however, that the repudiated them at the trial, denying having
Q. When you cut it open, did you find blood as you said? — A. A small quantity of it. ever taken any part in the commission of the crime for which it is sought to make him
Q. To what was that due? You don't mean that the blood had been expelled through responsible together with his coaccused and stating that, while under the custody of
the circulatory system? — A. The blood found there was due to accumulation or to corporal Orquia and private Villanueva of the Army or Constabulary and some
crowding in the circulation. policemen, he was compelled by threats to make said declarations. Without
Q. What was the color of the blood? — A. It was a bit pale or aqueous due to a little considering whether or not events took place as testified to by Juan Julio de los Santos
mixture of water. at the trial, we believe that the declarations aforesaid are unworthy of credence for
Q. Was the blood dark in the other part? — A. Yes, sir, it was much darker. being improbable and absurd, taking into account the reasons and conclusions above
Q. Is it not true, Doctor, that when the blood in the heart is dark it means that death set forth in the discussion of the testimony of Pedro Bingayen and the further
took place by asphyxiation through drowning or strangulation or through the use of circumstance, truly remarkable, that said declarations of this appellant and those of
chloroform or carbon dioxide? — A. Yes, sir. (Pp. 124, 125, t. s. n.) Bingayen in Exhibit F of which Exhibit F-1 is the translation seem to have come out
There is no doubt that the testimony of Dr. Gaerlan agrees with the studies made by of the same mold because they are written in, and are of, the same tenor. Which
Dr. Angeles in legal medicine and the opinion set forth in Wharton and Stille's Medical excludes the idea that they were made spontaneously and naturally gives color to the
Jurisprudence, which are as follows: belief that they were prepared without the free consent of both. For the reason just
enumerated, the declarations of Juan Julio de los Santos are not competent to prove
his guilt and much less that of his coaccused Manalang and Ferry. If the voluntary ceremony between them performed by a brother of the defendant on the 27th day of
admissions of an accused made extrajudicially are ever admissible as evidence October, 1909. In that action the accused in the present case testified as a witness
against him, they are not so against his coaccused who have had no opportunity to that he was in company with the brother of Jose Quebengco, who performed the
hear him testify and cross-examine him (U. S. vs. Galanco and Gamis, 11 Phil., 575; marriage ceremony proved in the seduction case, during the whole day of the 27th of
U. S. vs. Cassion and Apduhan, 28 Phil., 285; People vs. Tabuche, 46 Phil., 28; People October, the day on which the said marriage ceremony took place, and that the said
vs. Manalo and Atienza, 46 Phil., 572); nor are those of a conspirator, made after the marriage ceremony on said day.
conspiracy has come to an end, successfully or unsuccessfully, against his It having been ascertained that the testimony given by the accused as a witness in
coconspirators (U. S. vs. Empeinado, 9 Phil., 613). behalf of the defendant in the seduction case was false, the information in this case
Discarding the testimony of Pedro Bingayen and the supposed extrajudicial confession was presented against him and he was prosecuted thereunder.
of the appellant Juan Julio de los Santos, nothing remains in the record which may The guilt of the defendant is proved overwhelmingly. He himself, testifying as witness
justify a judgment unfavorable to the accused. Nor was there any motive for them to in his own behalf, substantially admits the falsity of his previous testimony. Every
think of committing the crime because the alleged rivalries in business between Ferry essential element of perjury is present.
and Pedro Uy did not exist. Moreover, considering the financial circumstances of the Counsel for the appellant alleges two errors. The first one is that the judge erred in
former who was a tobacco and rice dealer and was furthermore an owner of a rice denying the application of the accused that he be tried before another court by reason
mill, it is not even possible to suppose that to avoid paying a small account of P60 to of an alleged prejudice against the defendant on the part of the trial court. The only
Pedro Uy, he would have to take away the latter's life. And it is absurd to think that ground presented by the defendant for the alleged prejudice is the fact that said court,
to save P60, he would bind himself to pay to his servants if they killed Uy the not on the trial of the seduction case against Quebengco, became satisfied that the
inconsiderable sum of P500. accused in this case committed perjury and, therefore, ordered the fiscal to present
It follows from what has heretofore been stated that the lower court really committed an information against him if he could obtain sufficient evidence. This in no sense
the second and fifth errors attributed to it by the appellants. disqualified the judge. If a trial judge is convinced that a witness in any case before
As to the first error it suffices to state to dismiss the same that the lower court had him is deliberately, willfully and corruptly swearing falsely on a material matter, it is
jurisdiction to take cognizance of the case until decision thereof after its remand by not only his right but it is his duty to see that such witness is duly prosecuted. Men's
the justice of the peace who conducted the preliminary proceedings. When a lives and property are wholly insecure in a community where perjury is prevalent. If
complaint charging a person with a crime is filed with a justice of the peace who, after a court can not believe the witness who testify before him, then his judgment is but
examining the witnesses produced by the complainant, issues an order for the arrest a guess and real justice is impossible. There is nothing more fatal performed his duty
of the accused, it is to be implied that he thus acts because he is convinced that there when he ordered the prosecution of the accused.
is reasonable cause to believe that the crime charged was committed and that the The second and last assignment of error is that the court erred in finding the accused
accused was the one who committed it (section 334, Nos. 14, 15, of Act No. 190). guilty of the crime charged. As we have already said, the proofs demonstrate beyond
From the record it appears that immediately after their arrest, the accused filed their a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime of perjury and that the
written plea (Exhibit 2) of not guilty and made formal renunciation therein of their court would have been remiss in its duty in making any other finding.
right to a preliminary investigation. When the case was already before the Court of The judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against the appellant.
First Instance of Cagayan, the presiding judge ordered that the information be read
to the three appellants who, in open court, indicated that they had been advised
thereof and that they pleaded not guilty. This shows that the lower court acquired G.R. No. L-35252 October 21, 1932
and had jurisdiction to act in the manner it did. THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, plaintiff-appellant, vs. UY TENG PIAO,
In view of all the foregoing, the judgment appealed from is reversed and appellants defendant-appellee.
acquitted with costs de oficio. It is hereby ordered that a copy of this decision be Nat. M. Balboa and Dominador J. Endriga for appellant.
furnished the Solicitor-General in order that, after the preliminary investigation Antonio Gonzales for appellee.
required by law, he may take the proper actions against Pedro Bingayen for perjury VICKERS, J.:
and against all those who may have induced him to commit the same. This is an appeal by the plaintiff a decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila
SO ORDERED. absolving the defendant from the complaint, without a special finding as to costs.
The appellant makes the following assignments of error:
The trial court erred:
G.R. No. 6692 September 2, 1911 1. In finding that one Mr. Pecson gave a promise to appellee Uy Teng Piao to condone
THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. VICENTE LUMAMPAO, defendant- the balance of the judgment rendered against the said Uy Teng Piao and in favor of
appellant. the Philippine National Bank in civil case No. 26328 of the Court o First Instance of
Jalandoni & Lozano, for appellant. Manila.
Acting Attorney-General Harvey, for appellee. 2. In finding that merely in selling the property described in certificate of title No.
MORELAND, J.: 11274 situated at Ronquillo Street, Manila, to Mariano Santos for P8,600 (Exhibit 2),
This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of the Province of the appellant had undoubtedly given the alleged promise of condonation to appellee
Iloilo, the Hon. J. S. Powell presiding, convicting the defendant of the crime of perjury Uy Teng Piao.
and sentencing him to two years of imprisonment and to pay the costs of the action. 3. In finding that the consideration of document Exhibit 1 is the condonation of the
The prosecution of this case arises from the testimony given by the accused in the balance of the judgment rendered in said civil case No. 26328.
case of U. S. vs. Quebengco (18 Phil. Rep., 47), which was a prosecution for the 4. In finding that said Mr. Pecson, granting that the latter has actually given such
seduction of a young lady by the defendant, brought about by a fictitious marriage promise to condone, could bind the appellant corporation.
5. In holding that the absence of demand for payment upon appellee Uy Teng Piao P. ¿Que era el del Banco Nacional, usted sabe? — R. Era encargado de estas
for the balance of the said judgment from February 11, 1925 up to the year 1930 is transacciones. Cuando tenia necesidad siempre llamaba yo al señor Pecson. Entonces
"una senal inequivoca una prueba evidente" of the condonation of the balance of the hable al señor Pecson que somos comerciantes, algunas veces los alquileres no
said judgment. pueden cobrarse por anticipado.
6. In finding that by the sale of the said property to Mariano Santos for the sum of Sr. ENDRIGA. No es responsiva la contestacion a la pregunta.
P8,600, the said judgment in civil case No. 26328 has been more than fully paid even Sr. GONZALEZ. Si esta explicando y no ha terminado el testigo su contestacion.
discounting the sum of P1,300 which appellant paid as the highest bidder for the said JUZGADO. Que la termine.
property. TESTIGO. Me dijo el señor Pecson que es cosa mala para mi "¿por que usted cobra
7. In declaring that the offer of appellee Uy Teng Piao as shown by Exhibits D and D- alquileres y no paga los intereses? Mejor deje usted ya todos sus bienes para cubrir
1, reflects only the desire of the said appellee Uy Teng Piao to avoid having a case sus deudas.
with the appellant bank. P. El señor Pecson le dijo a usted "mejor deje usted ya todos sus bienes," ¿a que
8. In finally absolving appellee Uy Teng Piao and in not sentencing him to pay the bienes se referia el ? — R. Al terreno de Ronquillo y al terreno de Paco.
amount claimed in the complaint with costs. P. ¿Cual de esos terrenos, el de Ronquillo o el de Paco, el que se refiere aqui en el
On September 9, 1924, the Court of First Instance of Manila rendered a judgment in Exhibit 1? — R. Paco, primeramente, los dos ambos.
favor of the Philippine National Bank and against Uy Teng Piao in civil case No. 26328 P. Pero este Exhibit 1, ¿a que se refiere; al de Paco o al de Ronquillo? — R. Parece
for the sum of P17,232.42 with interest at 7 per cent per annum from June 1, 1924, que Paco.
plus 10 per cent of the sum amount for attorney's fees and costs. The court ordered P. ¿No recuerda usted muy bien? — R. No recuerdo.
the defendant to deposit said amount with the clerk of the court within three months P. Y cuando le dijo a usted el señor Pecson mejor que dejara todos sus bienes, ¿le
from the date of the judgment, and in case of his failure to do so that the mortgaged dijo a usted a favor de quien iba usted a dejar sus bienes? — R. Al Banco Nacional.
properties described in transfer certificates of title Nos. 7264 and 8274 should be sold P. ¿Y que le dijo a usted, si le dijo a usted algo el señor Pecson con respecto al saldo
at public auction in accordance with the law and the proceeds applied to the payment deudor que usted todavia era en deber a favor del Banco Nacional? — R. No recuerdo
of the judgment. mas; pero mas o menos de catorce mil pesos.
Uy Teng Piao failed to comply with the order of the court, and the sheriff of the City P. ¿Que le dijo el con respeto al saldo, si el cobraria todavia o se le condonaria?
of Manila sold the two parcels of land at public auction to the Philippine National Bank Sr. ENDRIGA. Es alternativa la pregunta. Me opongo.
on October 14, 1924 for P300 and P1,000 respectively. JUZGADO. Cambiese la pregunta.
On February 11, 1925, the Philippine National Bank secured from Uy Teng Piao a P. ¿Que le dijo a usted con respeto al saldo, una vez otorgado este Exhibit 1?
waiver of his right to redeem the property described in Transfer Certificate of Title SR. ENDRIGA. La pregunta no tiene ninguna base. Nos openemos.
No. 8274, and on the same date the bank sold said property to Mariano Santos for Sr. GONZALES. Si dice el que se havian vendido todos los terrenos.
P8,600.1awphil.net JUZGADO. Puede contestar.
Evidently the other parcel, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 7264, was subsequently Sr. ENDRIGA. Excepcion.
resold by the bank for P2,700, because the account of the defendant was credited R. Me dijo que para que usted no cobre alquileres y no pague intereses deje usted
with the sum of P11,300. In other words, the bank credited the defendant with the esos terrenos de Ronquillo y terreno de Paco para cubrir ya todas mis deudas.
full amount realized by it when it resold the two parcels of land. Entonces dije ya, si, como yo tengo buena fe con este Banco. Hasta que al fin yo dije
The bank brought the present action to revive the judgment for the balance of que queria yo comprar.
P11,574.33, with interest at 7 per cent per annum from August 1, 1930. P. Cuando usted firmo el once de febrero de mil novecientos veintecinco este
In his amended answer the defendant alleged as a special defense that he waived his documento Exhibit 1, ¿recibio usted algun centimo de dinero del Banco? — R. Nada,
right to redeem the land described in transfer certificate of title No. 8274 in absolutamente.
consideration of an understanding between him and the bank that the bank would not When asked on cross-examination if Pecson was not in Iloilo at the time of the
collect from him the balance of the judgment. It was on this ground that the trial execution of defendant's waiver of his right to redeem, the defendant answered that
court absolved the defendant from the complaint. he did not know; asked when Pecson had spoken to him about the matter, the
In our opinion the defendant has failed to prove any valid agreement on the part of defendant replied that he did not remember.
the bank not to collect from him the remainder of the judgment. The alleged One of the attorneys for the plaintiff testified that the defendant renounced his right
agreement rests upon the uncorroborated testimony of the defendant, the pertinent to redeem the parcel of land in Calle Ronquillo, Exhibit 1, because a friend of the
part of whose testimony on direct examination was as follows: defendant was interested in buying it.
P. En este documento aparece que usted, por consideracion de valor recibido del The bank ought to have presented Pecson as a witness, or his deposition, if he was
Banco Nacional demandante en la presente causa, renuncia a su derecho de recompra not residing in Manila at the time of the trial.
de la propiedad vendida por el Sheriff en publica subasta el catorce de octubre de mil With respect to the testimony of the bank's attorney, we should like to observe that
novecientos veintecuatro a favor del Banco Nacional; ¿quiere usted explicar al although the law does not forbid an attorney to be a witness and at the same time an
Honorable Juzgado, cual es esta consideracion de valor? — R. Si, señor. Esto desde attorney in a cause, the courts prefer that counsel should not testify as a witness
mil novecientos veintitres o mil novecientos veintecuatro, no recuerdo bien, me haba unless it is necessary, and that they should withdraw from the active management of
dicho el señor Pecson, porque algunas veces yo no podia pagar esos intereses the case. (Malcolm, Legal Ethics, p. 148.) Canon 19 of the Code of Legal Ethics reads
mensuales. Entonces me dijo Pecson, "¿como puede usted recibir alquileres y no paga as follows:
usted intereses?" When a lawyer is a witness for his client, except as to merely formal matters, such as
P. ¿Quien es ese señor Pecson? — R. Era encargado de este asunto. 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 tumulong sa mahihirap. Kaya naisip ko pong sumulat sa opisina ninyo, para ihain ang
should avoid testifying in court in behalf of his client. aking karaingan. Kung inyo pong mamarapatin ako ay humihingi ng tulong sa iyo
Defendant's testimony as to the alleged agreement is very uncertain. There is no bilang pinakamataas na hustisya ang aking kaapihan.
mention in Exhibit 1 as to such an agreement on the part of the bank. Exhibit 1 relates Respondent denied the allegations against him. In his manifestation and comment,
only to the land in Calle Ronquillo. If Pecson had made any such agreement as the dated March 4, 1991, he contended:
defendant claims, it is reasonable to suppose that he would have required the a) Ms. Rosita Tan was formerly represented by Atty. Juanito Subia in Civil Case No.
defendant to waive his right to redeem both parcels of land, and that the defendant, 5295, Rosita Tan vs. Wilfredo Enriquez before the Regional Trial Court of Camarines
a Chines business man, would have insisted upon some evidence of the agreement in Norte; said case was dismissed due to failure of Rosita Tan and his (sic) counsel to
writing. It appears to us that the defendant waived his right to redeem the land in appear during the scheduled Pre-Trial of the case; . . . said Order of dismissal was
Calle Ronquillo, because a friend of his wished to purchase it and was willing to pay however reconsidered;
therefor P8,600, and the bank agreed to credit the defendant with the full amount of b) On November 11, 1986, Atty. Marciano C. Dating, Jr. entered his appearance for
the sale. the said Rosita Tan as her original counsel, Atty. Juanito Subia, had withdrawn for
Furthermore, if it be conceded that there was such an understanding between Pecson reasons only known to her; . . . Atty. Marciano C. Dating, Jr. filed an Amended
and the defendant as the latter claims, it is not shown that Pecson was authorized to Complaint;
make any such agreement for the bank. Only the board of directors or the persons c) That on September 20, 1988, the Court, through Hon. Luis Dictado, who heard the
empowered by the board of directors could bind the bank by such an agreement. case, rendered a decision dismissing Rosita Tan's complaint;
There is no merit in the contention that since the bank accepted the benefit of the d) That on October 13, 1988, Atty. Dating, Rosita Tan's counsel, appealed from the
waiver it cannot now repudiate the alleged agreement. The fact that the bank after adverse decision against her to the Court of Appeals;
having bought the land for P1,000 resold it at the instance of the defendant for P8,600 e) That Atty. Marciano Dating also withdrew later as Rosita Tan's counsel and a certain
and credited the defendant with the full amount of the resale was a sufficient Leopoldo P. San Buenaventura entered his appearance as new counsel for the said
consideration for the execution of defendant's waiver of his right to redeem. Rosita Tan in the appealed case before the Court of Appeals which was docketed as
For the foregoing reasons, the decision appealed from is reversed, and the defendant C.A. G.R. CV No. 20669;
is condemned to pay the plaintiff the sum of P11,574.38 with interest thereon at the f) On October 26, 1989, Atty. Leopoldo E. San Buenaventura filed a Motion for
rate of 7 per cent per annum from August 1, 1930, and the costs of both instances. Extension of Time to File Brief for Rosita Tan; . . . however, for reasons only known
to said lawyer, he failed to file his Appellant's Brief; hence, on February 20, 1990, the
Court of Appeals issued a Resolution dismissing the appeal for failure to Rosita Tan's
G.R. No. 93707 January 23, 2001 counsel to file Appellant's Brief despite extension of time granted to him;
ROSITA TAN, petitioner, vs. ATTY. JOSE L. LAPAK, respondent. g) That upon receipt by Ms. Rosita Tan of said Resolution dismissing her appeal due
MENDOZA, J.: to the failure of her Manila lawyer to file Appellant's Brief, she came to the law office
This is a complaint filed by Rosita Tan against Atty. Jose L. Lapak for misconduct, of undersigned counsel in the company of her friend, Mrs. Gloria Gatan, to employ
based on respondent's failure to file with this Court a petition for review on certiorari the latter's services to seek reconsideration of the Order of dismissal and file
of a resolution of the Court of Appeals dismissing complainant's appeal. Complainant Appellant's Brief to enable her to pursue her appeal; Rosita employed the legal
alleged that despite the fact that this Court had granted respondent an extension of services of undersigned counsel not to file a Petition for Review but to seek
the time to file the petition for review on certiorari and she had paid respondent his reconsideration of the order to dismissal of her appeal; considering then that she does
fee, the latter nonetheless failed to file the petition in this Court. Complainant's letter, not have the papers to the case on appeal, Rosita Tan agreed to pay counsel
dated January 10, 1991, addressed to then Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan, stated: P5,000.00 to go to Manila, study the records of the case in the Court of Appeals, file
Ako po ay sumusulat sa iyo upang ihingi ng tulong ang aking suliranin na may a Motion for Reconsideration and prepare Appellant's Brief for her; she was able to
kaugnayan sa aking kaso, G.R. No. 93707 ROSITA TAN v. CA, et al. Na dahilan sa pay P3,000.00 only instead of P5,000.00 promising to pay the balance later;
kapabayaan ng aking abogado na si Atty. Jose Lapak ay hindi nakapagfile ng Certiorari consequently, the undersigned counsel filed an URGENT MOTION FOR
nasa ngayon kanyang inihihinging palugit ay naibigay naman, at ako po ay nagbigay RECONSIDERATION with the Court of Appeals . . . .;
naman ng halagang P4,000.00 upang gawain lamang ang petition sa pagrerepaso ng h) Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals denied said Motion for Reconsideration in a
Certiorari subalit inuulit pang hindi gawain. Resolution promulgated on May 2, 1990 . . . .;
Kgg. Na Chief Justice ako po'y pinaasa lamang ng aking abogado na wala man lamang i) That upon receipt by the undersigned counsel of said Resolution of the Court of
nagawa kung ano ang nararapat. Ako naman ay isang walang karanasan sa bagay na Appeals denying the Motion for Reconsideration, the undersigned counsel summoned
ito ay naniwala at naghintay. Nang makausap ko po siya ay aking tinapat kung ano the appellant Rosita Tan and requested her to bring the balance of P2,000.00 so that
na at walang nadating na resulta sa ginawa niya ang sagot sa aking maghintay na a Petition for Review on Certiorari could be filed with the Supreme Court; however,
lamang daw ako. Ngunit ng ako po ay pumunta sa Maynila at napadaan ako sa Korte the said appellant Rosita Tan upon knowing of the adverse Resolution of the Court of
Suprema saka ko pa lamang napag-alaman na ang aking abogado ay hindi Appeals became apathetic and when she came to the law office of the undersigned
nakapaggawa ng brief ng Certiorari at kaya napawalaan ng bisa ang aking she expressed her misgivings of bringing the case to the Supreme Court and told
apelasyon.1âwphi1.nêt counsel that she has no more money; despite her indifference and lukewarm attitude,
Akin pong naisip na idulog ang aking kaapihan sa Pangulo ng IBP ng Camarines Norte the undersigned counsel filed a Motion for Extension of Time to file a Petition for
ang mga bagay na ito ang sagot po sa aking ay maari akong maghain ng demanda Review with the Supreme Court paying the docket fees therefore in behalf of said
laban sa aking abogado na si Atty. Jose L. Lapak ngunit ako po ay mahirap lamang appellant; in the meantime the undersigned counsel went to Manila to make
at isa pa wala akong matutustos sa aking abogado. Isa pa po wala akong pera at researches preparatory to the filing of the Petition for Review with the Supreme Court;
sapat na pinag-aralan kaya po hindi ko alam kung sino ang aking dudulungan para . . . The undersigned counsel then requested the appellant Rosita Tan to pay him the
balance of P2,000.00 as per agreement for him to be able to prepare the Petition for to file the Appellant's Brief in behalf of complainant within the period allowed. The
Review in Manila and file it with the Supreme Court; but said appellant hesitantly paid dismissal of the appeal gave complainant a slim chance, if not a futile remedy, with
only P1,000.00 which was her only money available promising to pay the balance of the Hon. Supreme Court. Atty. Lapak would have been shackled in any disquisition
P1,000.00 later; thereafter, the undersigned counsel went to the Court of Appeals to for complainant's cause considering that she already lost in the trial court and her
get certified true copies of the Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration; he appeal had been dismissed without any argument being advanced in her behalf. Atty.
then learned that there was already an Entry of Judgment in the case as the Lapak should have been candid with complainant. He should not have asked more at
Resolution dismissing the appeal had already become final; the undersigned then a time when nothing fruitful could be done anymore.
informed Rosita Tan of her misfortune and informed her that he would study the With respect to respondent's offer to return the amount of P1,000.00 paid to him to
propriety of filing an action for annulment of the decision because of his discovery of file the petition for review on certiorari, the investigating commissioner stated:
an anomaly which resulted in a mistrial; because of continuous setbacks she suffered . . . [T]his willingness to return P1,000.00 does not erase his breach of the Code of
from beginning to end; Rosita Tan said she had lost all hope and was unwilling to go Professional Responsibility for lacking in honesty, diligence and fairness in dealing
any further; she then demanded the refund of P4,000.00 from the undersigned; when with his client as shown by the very fact that he received the amount at a time when
the undersigned gave back the P1,000.00 he received from her, she refused to receive he could no longer file the "petition with the Supreme Court". His client deserved the
the amount insisting that the whole amount of P4,000.00 be returned to her claiming information that on such date the decision of the Court of Appeals was already final.
that the undersigned counsel had not done anything for her anyway; hence the Respondent's actuation of filing an extension motion with the Hon. Supreme Court
misunderstanding which culminated in her sending a letter complaint to the Honorable and yet not filing the pleading within the period requested and granted speaks well
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. of respondent's lack of candor, honesty and judicious conduct in dealing with his client
The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report, or in the handling of his case. This conduct violates Canon 17, & Rule 18.03, Rule
and recommendation. On July 29, 2000, the IBP passed a resolution adopting the 18.04 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
report and recommendation of its Investigating Commissioner Jaime M. Vibar that The investigating commissioner recommends that respondent only be reprimanded
respondent be reprimanded and ordered to restitute to complainant the amount of considering his old age and the negligent conduct of complainant's previous counsel.
P1,000.00. The commissioner reasoned that it was the negligent conduct of complainant's
In finding respondent guilty of betrayal of his client's trust and confidence, the previous counsel which caused the dismissal of the appeal and rendered inutile any
investigating commissioner said in his report: further legal action before the Supreme Court.
Regardless of the agreement on the total amount of the fees, it is clear that The investigating commissioner's findings are supported by the evidence. However,
respondent committed to prepare and file a "petition with the Supreme Court" and we hold that the appropriate sanction should be reprimand and order respondent to
for which he received P1,000.00 from the complainant (Annex "B", Sagot, dated May return the amount of P4,000.00 which he received from complainant.1âwphi1.nêt
31, 1991). Despite such commitment, he failed to file the petition. Respondent advances two reasons why he did not file a petition for review on
It is not explained why the payment of PHP1,000.00 was made by complainant for certiorari in this Court, to wit: (1) because he found that the resolution of the Court
the "petition" on August 8, 1990. At that time, the period to file the petition for review of Appeals to be appealed to the Supreme Court had become final on May 27, 1990
as contemplated by respondent and which was the subject of an extension motion, and (2) because complainant failed to pay the balance of P1,000.00 of his fee.
dated May 18, 1990, filed with and granted by the Hon. Supreme Court, had already First. With respect to the first reason, Rule 18.03 thereof which provides that "A
expired. It is to be noted that respondent's motion sought an extension of "thirty (30) lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in
days from May 26, 1990 or up to June 25, 1990". It would appear that respondent connection therewith shall render him liable." Respondent alleges that upon receipt
received P1,000.00 on August 8, 1990 from complainant at a time when the remedy of the Court of Appeals resolution denying the motion for reconsideration which he
of a review of the dismissal order of the Court of Appeals was no longer available. had filed, he summoned complainant and told her that it was imperative that a
Yet, complainant was never informed or favored with an explanation that a petition petition for review on certiorari be filed with this Court.
for review was no longer possible, or perhaps that another remedy was still open to At this point, it is important to note the material dates on record to determine if
the complaint. To aggravate his situation, respondent alleges in his comment to the respondent's justification for his failure to file a petition for review is tenable. The
complaint (at page 3) that after he received P1,000.00 from the complainant he resolution of the Court of Appeals dismissing complainant's appeal for failure to file
immediately went to the Court of Appeals to get certified copies of the resolution an appellant's brief was promulgated on February 20, 1990. Within the reglementary
denying his motion for reconsideration and that thereat he discovered that an "Entry period for filing an appeal, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration which the
of Judgment" had already been issued. Respondent should have known that when he Court of Appeals denied on May 2, 1990. Respondent received a copy of this resolution
went to the Court of Appeals after receipt of P1,000.00, or after August 8, 1990. The (denying the motion for reconsideration) on May 11, 1990 so that respondent had 15
period he requested from the Hon. Supreme Court to institute the petition for review days from May 11, 1990, or until May 26, within which to file a petition for review on
had long expired. certiorari with the Supreme Court. Respondent thereafter asked for, and was granted
But the silence of respondent at the time of receipt of the amount of P1,000.00 on by this Court, an extension of 30 days "counted from the reglementary period," or
August 8, 1990 and the "petition with the Supreme Court" was no longer an available until June 25, 1990, within which to file the petition. As respondent failed to file the
remedy smacks of a betrayal of a client's cause and the trust and confidence reposed petition within the extended period, the Supreme Court issued a resolution on August
in him. If indeed his client's cause was no longer worth fighting for, the lawyer should 20, 1990 declaring the judgment sought to be reviewed to have become final and
not have demanded a fee…and made representations that there is merit in her case. executory.
He should have dealt with his client with all candor and honesty by informing her that It is not true, therefore, that respondent failed to file a petition for review on certiorari
on August 8, 1990 the period to file the petition had already expired. because the judgment sought to be reviewed had become final on May 27, 1990.
Complainant has been a victim of negligence on the part of the law firm of San When respondent summoned complainant and told her that in view of the denial of
Buenaventura, et al., or particularly Atty. Leopoldo San Buenaventura, for their failure his motion for reconsideration it was imperative that a petition for review be filed with
this Court, the resolution of the Court of Appeals was not yet final. In fact, this Court It is axiomatic that no lawyer is obliged to act either as adviser or advocate for every
granted respondent's motion for extension of time to file the petition for review, person who may wish to become his client. He has the right to decline employment,
because the resolution of the Court of Appeals denying the motion for reconsideration subject, however, to Canon 14 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Once he
had not yet attained finality. Despite having been granted an extension, however, agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and
respondent failed to file the petition within the reglementary period. This constitutes must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. He must serve
a serious breach. Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that the client with competence and diligence, and champion the latter's cause with
"A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda wholehearted fidelity, care and devotion. Elsewise stated, he owes entire devotion to
or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation the interest of his client, warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his client's
for his failure to do so." rights, and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability to the end that nothing be
The filing of a petition for review is similar to the filing of an appellant's or appellee's taken or withheld from his client, save by the rules of law legally applied. This simply
brief. In Mariveles v. Mallari,1 it was held that the lawyer's failure to file an appellant's means that his client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy and defense
brief despite numerous extensions of time to file the same constitutes a blatant that is authorized by the law of the land and he may expect his lawyer to assert every
violation of Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. As already noted, such remedy or defense.4
this Rule provides that after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, Third. Nor can respondent excuse himself for his failure to file the petition for review
memoranda, or briefs, a lawyer should not let the period lapse without submitting the on certiorari on the ground that complainant failed to pay what she promised to pay.
same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so. Complainant agreed to pay P5,000.00. Of this amount, she paid respondent
In Re: Santiago F. Marcos,2 the Court considered a lawyer's failure to file a brief for P3,000.00 and later P1,000.00, leaving only a balance of P1,000.00. Even if this
his client as amounting to inexcusable negligence. Said the Court: balance had not been paid, this fact was not sufficient to justify the failure of
An attorney is bound to protect his client's interest to the best of his ability and with respondent to comply with his professional obligation which does not depend for
utmost diligence. (Del Rosario v. CA, 114 SCRA 159). A failure to file brief for his compliance on the payment of a lawyer's fees.
client certainly constitutes inexcusable negligence on his part. (People v. Villar, 46 As respondent utterly failed to comply with his professional commitment to
SCRA 107) The respondent has indeed committed a serious lapse in the duty owed complainant, it is, therefore, not just for him to keep the legal fee of P4,000.00 which
by him to his client as well as to the Court not to delay litigation and to aid in the complainant paid him. He has not rightfully earned that fee and should return it to
speedy administration of justice. (People v. Daban, 43 SCRA 185; People v. Estocada, complainant.
43 SCRA 515). WHEREFORE, Atty. Jose L. Lapak is REPRIMANDED and ORDERED to refund to
At any rate, even assuming that the resolution of the Court of Appeals expired on complainant Rosita Tan the amount of P4,000.00. He is admonished henceforth to
May 27, 1990, he should not have asked on August, 8, 1990 for the balance of exercise greater care and diligence in the performance of his duties towards his clients
P5,000.00 which complainant had agreed to pay since the resolution had already and the courts and warned that repetition of the same or similar offense will be more
become final at that time. As the investigating commissioner pointed out in his report: severely dealt with.
To aggravate his situation, respondent alleges in his comment to the complaint (at SO ORDERED.
page 3) that after he received P1,000.00 from the complainant he immediately went
to the Court of Appeals to get certified copies of the resolution denying his motion for
reconsideration and that thereat he discovered that an "Entry of Judgment" had G.R. No. 75209 September 30, 1987
already been issued. Respondent should have known that when he went to the Court NESTLE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. AUGUSTO S. SANCHEZ,
of Appeals after receipt of P1,000.00, or after August 8, 1990, (t)he period he MINISTER OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT and THE UNION OF FILIPRO
requested from the Hon. Supreme Court to institute the petition for review had long EMPLOYEES, respondents.
expired.3 No. 78791 September 30, 1987
It would, therefore, appear that if an entry of judgment had been made in the Court KIMBERLY INDEPENDENT LABOR UNION FOR SOLIDARITY, ACTIVISM AND
of Appeals, it was precisely because respondent failed to file a petition for review with NATIONALISM-OLALIA, petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS
the Supreme Court within the extended period granted him. He cannot, therefore, COMMISSION, MANUEL AGUILAR, MA. ESTRELLA ALDAS, CAPT. REY L.
excuse his breach of the duty to his client by his own negligent act. LANADA, COL. VIVENCIO MANAIG and KIMBERLY-CLARK PHILIPPINES, INC.,
Second. Respondent asserts that complainant only engaged his services to pursue respondents.
her appeal in the Court of Appeals which was dismissed due to the failure of PER CURIAM:
complainant's former counsel, Atty, Leopoldo E. San Buenaventura, to file the During the period July 8-10. 1987, respondent in G.R. No. 75029, Union of Filipro
appellant's brief. Whether or not he was engaged to represent complainant only in Employees, and petitioner in G.R. No. 78791, Kimberly Independent Labor Union for
the Court of Appeals and not also in the Supreme Court is immaterial. For the fact is Solidarity, Activism and Nationalism-Olalia intensified the intermittent pickets they
that respondent already commenced the representation of complainant in the had been conducting since June 17, 1987 in front of the Padre Faura gate of the
Supreme Court by filing a motion for extension of the time of file a petition for review. Supreme Court building. They set up pickets' quarters on the pavement in front of
In fact, according to respondent, upon receipt of the Court of Appeals resolution the Supreme Court building, at times obstructing access to and egress from the
denying reconsideration of the dismissal of complainant's appeal, respondent Court's premises and offices of justices, officials and employees. They constructed
summoned complainant to his office precisely to tell her that it was imperative that a provisional shelters along the sidewalks, set up a kitchen and littered the place with
petition for review be filed with the Supreme Court. Once he took the cudgels of his food containers and trash in utter disregard of proper hygiene and sanitation. They
client's case and assured her that he would represent her in the Supreme Court, waved their red streamers and placards with slogans, and took turns haranguing the
respondent owed it to his client to do his utmost to ensure that every remedy allowed court all day long with the use of loud speakers.
by law was availed of. As this Court has held:
These acts were done even after their leaders had been received by Justices Pedro L. been invoked to shatter the standards of propriety entertained for the conduct of
Yap and Marcelo B. Fernan as Chairmen of the Divisions where their cases are courts. For "it is a traditional conviction of civilized society everywhere that courts
pending, and Atty. Jose C. Espinas, counsel of the Union of Filipro Employees, had and juries, in the decision of issues of fact and law should be immune from every
been called in order that the pickets might be informed that the demonstration must extraneous influence; that facts should be decided upon evidence produced in court;
cease immediately for the same constitutes direct contempt of court and that the and that the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or
Court would not entertain their petitions for as long as the pickets were maintained. sympathies."4
Thus, on July 10, 1987, the Court en banc issued a resolution giving the said unions Moreover, "parties have a constitutional right to have their causes tried fairly in court
the opportunity to withdraw graciously and requiring Messrs. Tony Avelino. Lito by an impartial tribunal, uninfluenced by publication or public clamor. Every citizen
Payabyab, Eugene San Pedro, Dante Escasura, Emil Sayao and Nelson Centeno, union has a profound personal interest in the enforcement of the fundamental right to have
leaders of respondent Union of Filipro Employees in the Nestle case and their counsel justice administered by the courts, under the protection and forms of law free from
of record, Atty. Jose C. Espinas; and Messrs. Ernesto Facundo, Fausto Gapuz, Jr. and outside coercion or interference." 5 The aforecited acts of the respondents are
Antonio Gonzales, union leaders of petitioner Kimberly Independent Labor Union for therefore not only an affront to the dignity of this Court, but equality a violation of
Solidarity, Activism and Nationalism-Olalia in the Kimberly case to appear before the the above-stated right of the adverse parties and the citizenry at large.
Court on July 14, 1987 at 10:30 A.M. and then and there to SHOW CAUSE why they We realize that the individuals herein cited who are non-lawyers are not
should not be held in contempt of court. Atty. Jose C. Espinas was further required to knowledgeable in her intricacies of substantive and adjective laws. They are not aware
SHOW CAUSE why he should not be administratively dealt with. that even as the rights of free speech and of assembly are protected by the
On the appointed date and time, the above-named individuals appeared before the Constitution, any attempt to pressure or influence courts of justice through the
Court, represented by Atty. Jose C. Espinas, in the absence of Atty. Potenciano Flores, exercise of either right amounts to an abuse thereof, is no longer within the ambit of
counsel of record of petitioner in G.R. No. 78791, who was still recuperating from an constitutional protection, nor did they realize that any such efforts to influence the
operation. course of justice constitutes contempt of court. 6 The duty and responsibility of
Atty. Espinas, for himself and in behalf of the union leaders concerned, apologized to advising them, therefore, rest primarily and heavily upon the shoulders of their
the Court for the above-described acts, together with an assurance that they will not counsel of record. Atty. Jose C. Espinas, when his attention was called by this Court,
be repeated. He likewise manifested to the Court that he had experienced to the did his best to demonstrate to the pickets the untenability of their acts and posture.
picketers why their actions were wrong and that the cited persons were willing to Let this incident therefore serve as a reminder to all members of the legal profession
suffer such penalty as may be warranted under the circumstances. 1 He, however, that it is their duty as officers of the court to properly apprise their clients on matters
prayed for the Court's leniency considering that the picket was actually spearheaded of decorum and proper attitude toward courts of justice, and to labor leaders of the
by the leaders of the "Pagkakaisa ng Mangagawa sa Timog Katagalogan" (PAMANTIK), importance of a continuing educational program for their members.
an unregistered loose alliance of about seventy-five (75) unions in the Southern WHEREFORE, the contempt charges against herein respondents are DISMISSED.
Tagalog area, and not by either the Union of Filipro Employees or the Kimberly Henceforth, no demonstrations or pickets intended to pressure or influence courts of
Independent Labor Union. 2 justice into acting one way or the other on pending cases shall be allowed in the
Atty. Espinas further stated that he had explained to the picketers that any delay in vicinity and/or within the premises of any and all courts.
the resolution of their cases is usually for causes beyond the control of the Court and SO ORDERED.
that the Supreme Court has always remained steadfast in its role as the guardian of
the Constitution.
To confirm for the record that the person cited for contempt fully understood the G.R. No. L-12871 July 25, 1959
reason for the citation and that they wig abide by their promise that said incident will TIMOTEO V. CRUZ, petitioner, vs. FRANCISCO G. H. SALVA, respondent.
not be repeated, the Court required the respondents to submit a written manifestation Baizas and Balderrama for petitioner.
to this effect, which respondents complied with on July 17, 1987. City Attorney Francisco G. H. Salva in his own behalf.
We accept the apologies offered by the respondents and at this time, forego the MONTEMAYOR, J.:
imposition of the sanction warranted by the contemptuous acts described earlier. The This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction filed by
liberal stance taken by this Court in these cases as well as in the earlier case of Timoteo V. Cruz against Francisco G. H. Salva, in his capacity as City Fiscal of Pasay
AHS/PHILIPPINES EMPLOYEES UNION vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS City, to restrain him from continuing with the preliminary investigation he was
COMMISSION, et al., G.R. No. 73721, March 30, 1987, should not, however, be conducting in September, 1957 in connection with the killing of Manuel Monroy which
considered in any other light than an acknowledgment of the euphoria apparently took place on June 15, 1953 in Pasay City. To better understand the present case and
resulting from the rediscovery of a long-repressed freedom. The Court will not its implications, the following facts gathered from the pleadings and the memoranda
hesitate in future similar situations to apply the full force of the law and punish for filed by the parties, may be stated.
contempt those who attempt to pressure the Court into acting one way or the other Following the killing of Manuel Monroy in 1953 a number of persons were accused as
in any case pending before it. Grievances, if any, must be ventilated through the involved and implicated in said crime. After a long trial, the Court of First Instance of
proper channels, i.e., through appropriate petitions, motions or other pleadings in Pasay City found Oscar Castelo, Jose de Jesus, Hipolito Bonifacio, Bienvenido
keeping with the respect due to the Courts as impartial administrators of justice Mendoza, Francis Berdugo and others guilty of the crime of murder and sentenced
entitled to "proceed to the disposition of its business in an orderly manner, free from them to death. They all appealed the sentence although without said appeal, in view
outside interference obstructive of its functions and tending to embarrass the of the imposition of the extreme penalty, the case would have to be reviewed
administration of justice." 3 automatically by this Court. Oscar Castelo sought a new trial which was granted and
The right of petition is conceded to be an inherent right of the citizen under all free upon retrial, he was again found guilty and his former conviction of sentence was
governments. However, such right, natural and inherent though it may be, has never affirmed and reiterated by the same trial court.
It seems that pending appeal, the late President Magsaysay ordered a reinvestigation Respondent Salva, however, contends that if he subpoenaed petitioner Cruz at all, it
of the case. The purpose of said reinvestigation does not appear in the record. was because of the latter's oral and personal request to allow him to appear at the
Anyway, intelligence agents of the Philippine Constabulary and investigators of investigation with his witnesses for his own protection, possibly, to controvert and
Malacañang conducted the investigation for the Chief Executive, questioned a number rebut any evidence therein presented against him. Salva claims that were it not for
of people and obtained what would appear to be confession, pointing to persons, other this request and if, on the contrary, Timoteo Cruz had expressed any objection to
than those convicted and sentenced by the trial court, as the real killers of Manuel being cited to appear in the investigation he (Salva) would never have subpoenaed
Monroy. him.
Counsel for Oscar Castelo and his co-defendants wrote to respondent Fiscal Salva to Although petitioner Cruz now stoutly denies having made such request that he be
conduct a reinvestigation of the case presumably on the basis of the affidavits and allowed to appear at the investigation, we are inclined to agree with Fiscal Salva that
confessions obtained by those who had investigated the case at the instance of such a request had been made. Inasmuch as he, Timoteo Cruz, was deeply implicated
Malacañang. Fiscal Salva conferred with the Solicitor General as to what steps he in the killing of Manuel Monroy by the affidavits and confessions of several persons
should take. A conference was held with the Secretary of Justice who decided to have who were being investigated by Salva and his committee, it was but natural that
the results of the investigation by the Philippine Constabulary and Malacañang petitioner should have been interested, even desirous of being present at that
investigators made available to counsel for the appellants. investigation so that he could face and cross examine said witnesses and affiants
Taking advantage of this opportunity, counsel for the appellants filed a motion for when they testified in connection with their affidavits or confessions, either
new trial with this Tribunal supporting the same with the so-called affidavits and repudiating, modifying or ratifying the same. Moreover, in the communication,
confessions of some of those persons investigated, such as the confessions of Sergio addressed to respondent Salva asking that the investigation, scheduled for
Eduardo y de Guzman, Oscar Caymo, Pablo Canlas, and written statements of several September 21, 1957, be postponed because his attorney would be unable to attend,
others. By resolution of this Tribunal, action on said motion for new trial was deferred Timoteo Cruz expressed no opposition to the subpoena, not even a hint that he was
until the case was studied and determined on the merits. In the meantime, the Chief, objecting to his being cited to appear at the investigation.
Philippine Constabulary, head sent to the Office of Fiscal Salva copies of the same As to the right of respondent Salva to conduct the preliminary investigation which he
affidavits and confessions and written statements, of which the motion for new trial and his committee began ordinarily, when a criminal case in which a fiscal intervened
was based, and respondent Salva proceeded to conduct a reinvestigation designating though nominally, for according to respondent, two government attorneys had been
for said purposes a committee of three composed of himself as chairman and Assistant designed by the Secretary of Justice to handle the prosecution in the trial of the case
City Attorneys Herminio A. Avendañio and Ernesto A. Bernabe. in the court below, is tried and decided and it is appealed to a higher court such as
In connection with said preliminary investigation being conducted by the committee, this Tribunal, the functions and actuations of said fiscal have terminated; usually, the
petitioner Timoteo Cruz was subpoenaed by respondent to appear at his office on appeal is handled for the government by the Office of the Solicitor General.
September 21, 1957, to testify "upon oath before me in a certain criminal Consequently, there would be no reason or occasion for said fiscal to conduct a
investigation to be conducted at the time and place by this office against you and reinvestigation to determine criminal responsibility for the crime involved in the
Sergio Eduardo, et al., for murder." On September 19, 1957, petitioner Timoteo Cruz appeal.
wrote to respondent Salva asking for the transfer of the preliminary investigation However, in the present case, respondent has, in our opinion, established a
from September 21, due to the fact that this counsel, Atty. Crispin Baizas, would justification for his reinvestigation because according to him, in the original criminal
attend a hearing on that same day in Naga City. Acting upon said request for case against Castelo, et al., one of the defendants named Salvador Realista y de
postponement, Fiscal Salva set the preliminary investigation on September 24. On Guzman was not included for the reason that he was arrested and was placed within
that day, Atty. Baizas appeared for petitioner Cruz, questioned the jurisdiction of the the jurisdiction of the trial court only after the trial against the other accused had
committee, particularly respondent Salva, to conduct the preliminary investigation in commenced, even after the prosecution had rested its case and the defense had
view of the fact that the same case involving the killing of Manuel Monroy was pending begun to present its evidence. Naturally, Realista remained to stand trial. The trial
appeal in this Court, and on the same day filed the present petition for certiorari and court, according to respondent, at the instance of Realista, had scheduled the hearing
prohibition. This Tribunal gave due course to the petition for certiorari and prohibition at an early date, that is in August, 1957. Respondent claims that before he would go
and upon the filing of a cash bond of P200.00 issued a writ of preliminary injunction to trial in the prosecution of Realista he had to chart his course and plan of action,
thereby stopping the preliminary investigation being conducted by respondent Salva. whether to present the same evidence, oral and documentary, presented in the
The connection, if any, that petitioner Cruz had with the preliminary investigation original case and trial, or, in view of the new evidence consisting of the affidavits and
being conducted by respondent Salva and his committee was that affidavits and confessions sent to him by the Philippine Constabulary, he should first assess and
confessions sent to Salva by the Chief, Philippine Constabulary, and which were being determine the value of said evidence by conducting an investigation and that should
investigated, implicated petitioner Cruz, even picturing him as the instigator and he be convinced that the persons criminally responsible for the killing of Manuel
mastermind in the killing of Manuel Monroy. Monroy were other than those already tried and convicted, like Oscar Castelo and his
The position taken by petitioner Cruz in this case is that inasmuch as the principal co-accused and co-appellants, including Salvador Realista, then he might act
case of People vs. Oscar Castelo, et al., G.R. No. L-10794, is pending appeal and accordingly and even recommend the dismissal of the case against Realista.
consideration before us, no court, much less a prosecuting attorney like respondent In this, we are inclined to agree with respondent Salva. For, as contended by him and
Salva, had any right or authority to conduct a preliminary investigation or as suggested by authorities, the duty and role of prosecuting attorney is not only to
reinvestigation of the case for that would be obstructing the administration of justice prosecute and secure the conviction of the guilty but also to protect the innocent.
and interferring with the consideration on appeal of the main case wherein appellants We cannot overemphasize the necessity of close scrutiny and investigation of the
had been found guilty and convicted and sentenced; neither had respondent authority prosecuting officers of all cases handled by them, but whilst this court is averse to
to cite him to appear and testify at said investigation. any form of vacillation by such officers in the prosecution of public offenses, it is
unquestionable that they may, in appropriate cases, in order to do justice and avoid
injustice, reinvestigate cases in which they have already filed the corresponding descriptions of the incidents that took place during the investigation. It seemed as
informations. In the language of Justice Sutherland of the Supreme Court of the though the criminal responsibility for the killing of Manuel Monroy which had already
United States, the prosecuting officer "is the representative not of an ordinary party been tried and finally determined by the lower court and which was under appeal and
to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as advisement by this Tribunal, was being retried and redetermined in the press, and all
compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a with the apparent place and complaisance of respondent.
criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As Frankly, the members of this Court were greatly disturbed and annoyed by such
such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold publicity and sensationalism, all of which may properly be laid at the door of
aim of which is that guilt shall not escape nor innocent suffer. He may prosecute with respondent Salva. In this, he committed what was regard a grievous error and poor
earnestness and vigor — indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike had blows, judgment for which we fail to find any excuse or satisfactory explanation. His
he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper actuations in this regard went well beyond the bounds of prudence, discretion and
methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate good taste. It is bad enough to have such undue publicity when a criminal case is
means to bring about a just one. (69 United States law Review, June, 1935, No. 6, p. being investigated by the authorities, even when it being tried in court; but when said
309, cited in the case of Suarez vs. Platon, 69 Phil., 556) publicity and sensationalism is allowed, even encouraged, when the case is on appeal
With respect to the right of respondent Salva to cite petitioner to appear and testify and is pending consideration by this Tribunal, the whole thing becomes inexcusable,
before him at the scheduled preliminary investigation, under the law, petitioner had even abhorrent, and this Court, in the interest of justice, is constrained and called
a right to be present at that investigation since as was already stated, he was more upon to put an end to it and a deterrent against its repetition by meting an appropriate
or less deeply involved and implicated in the killing of Monroy according to the affiants disciplinary measure, even a penalty to the one liable.
whose confessions, affidavits and testimonies respondent Salva was considering or Some of the members of the Court who appeared to feel more strongly than the
was to consider at said preliminary investigation. But he need not be present at said others favored the imposition of a more or less severe penal sanction. After mature
investigation because his presence there implies, and was more of a right rather than deliberation, we have finally agreed that a public censure would, for the present, be
a duty or legal obligation. Consequently, even if, as claimed by respondent Salva, sufficient.
petitioner expressed the desire to be given an opportunity to be present at the said In conclusion, we find and hold that respondent Salva was warranted in holding the
investigation, if he latter changed his mind and renounced his right, and even preliminary investigation involved in this case, insofar as Salvador Realista is
strenuously objected to being made to appear at said investigation, he could not be concerned, for which reason the writ of preliminary injunction issued stopping said
compelled to do so. preliminary investigation, is dissolved; that in view of petitioner's objection to appear
Now we come to the manner in which said investigation was conducted by the and testify at the said investigation, respondent may not compel him to attend said
respondent. If, as contended by him, the purpose of said investigation was only to investigation, for which reason, the subpoena issued by respondent against petitioner
acquaint himself with and evaluate the evidence involved in the affidavits and is hereby set aside.
confessions of Sergio Eduardo, Cosme Camo and others by questioning them, then In view of the foregoing, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is granted in part
he, respondent, could well have conducted the investigation in his office, quietly, and denied in part. Considering the conclusion arrived at by us, respondent Francisco
unobtrusively and without much fanfare, much less publicity. G. H. Salva is hereby publicly reprehended and censured for the uncalled for and wide
However, according to the petitioner and not denied by the respondent, the publicity and sensationalism that he had given to and allowed in connection with his
investigation was conducted not in respondent's office but in the session hall of the investigation, which we consider and find to be contempt of court; and, furthermore,
Municipal Court of Pasay City evidently, to accommodate the big crowd that wanted he is warned that a repetition of the same would meet with a more severe disciplinary
to witness the proceeding, including members of the press. A number of microphones action and penalty. No costs.
were installed. Reporters were everywhere and photographers were busy taking
pictures. In other words, apparently with the permission of, if not the encouragement
by the respondent, news photographers and newsmen had a filed day. Not only this, A.M. No. 188 November 29, 1976
but in the course of the investigation, as shown by the transcript of the stenographic RICARDA GABRIEL DE BUMANGLAG, complainant, vs. ESTEBAN T.
notes taken during said investigation, on two occasions, the first, after Oscar Caymo BUMANGLAG, respondent.
had concluded his testimony respondent Salva, addressing the newspapermen said, TEEHANKEE, J.:
"Gentlemen of the press, if you want to ask questions I am willing to let you do so In the Court's decision of September 24, 1973, the Court found respondent guilty of
and the question asked will be reproduced as my own"; and the second, after Jose gross immoral conduct and ordered his suspension from the practice of law for a
Maratella y de Guzman had finished testifying and respondent Salva, addressing the period of two (2) years. Respondent filed several motions for reconsideration, all of
newsmen, again said, "Gentlemen of the press is free to ask questions as ours." Why which were denied per the Court's Resolutions of November 20, 1973, December 19,
respondent was willing to abdicate and renounce his right and prerogative to make 1973, January 9, 1974 and October 30, 1974.
and address the questions to the witnesses under investigation, in favor of the On March 31, 1975, the Clerk of Court received a 1st Indorsement dated February
members of the press, is difficult for us to understand, unless he, respondent, wanted 21, 1975 from then Assistant Executive Secretary Ronaldo B. Zamora "requesting
to curry favor with the press and publicize his investigation as much as possible. comment and/or appropriate action" on the therewith enclosed petition of respondent
Fortunately, the gentlemen of the press to whom he accorded such unusual privilege to the President of the Philippines that he "promulgate(s) a decree that the order of
and favor appeared to have wisely and prudently declined the offer and did not ask suspension by the Supreme Court be set aside and that your humble self be allowed
questions, this according to the transcript now before us. to become an active member of the New Society".
But, the newspapers certainly played up and gave wide publicity to what took place The Court per its Resolution of June 16, 1975 directed the Clerk of Court "to furnish
during the investigation, and this involved headlines and extensive recitals, narrations the Office of the President through Assistant Executive Secretary Zamora with copies
of and comments on the testimonies given by the witnesses as well as vivid of the Court's decision of September 24, 1973 wherein the Court in a spirit of liberality
by majority vote imposed a lesser penalty of two-year suspension instead of
disbarment (as voted by a minority composed of Justices Castro and Makasiar) and
of the Court's resolutions of November 20, 1973 and December 19, 1973 denying for
lack of merit respondent's two motions for reconsideration dated October 18, 1973
and December 12, 1973"; and further resolved "to require respondent to show cause
within ten (10) days from notice why he should not be subjected to further disciplinary
action for making false statements and misrepresentations in his petition to the
President that he has been allegedly deprived of due process of law contrary to the
facts of record as stated in the Court's decision, and for gross ignorance of the law
and of the Constitution in asking the President to set aside by decree this Court's
decision imposing upon him two-year suspension from the practice of law".
In a 2nd Indorserment of June 18, 1975 and received by the Clerk of Court on the
same day, then Assistant Executive Secretary Zamora forwarded respondent's letter
of the same date to the President stating that "(T)he undersigned by now (has) come
to realize that I made a big mistake by making said letter to you, Your Excellency,
because the Honorable Supreme Court may believe that I may be challenging the
decision which is already final and executory and as such do not observe the doctrine
of protocol of separation of power(s)", and withdrawing and asking the President to
disregard his first letter.
Respondent in his Explanation of July 23, 1975 cited the fact that he had
"immediately" withdrawn his letter asking for the President's intervention and that
"lately, however, he has fully realized that the Chief Executive is bereft (of) any
authority to set aside or modify the decision of this Honorable Supreme Court" and
"with folded hands begs and asks an apology from the members of this Honorable
Court, with the full assurance that nothing of this sort will be repeated by him in the
future."
Respondent served his two-year suspension, as duly noted in the Court's Resolution
of November 7, 1975. Since respondent has apologized for his "big mistake" and now
appreciates that under the fundamental principle of separation of powers enshrined
in both the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, a decision of this Court may not be set aside
by the President, the Court is disposed to view his misconduct and/or ignorance with
liberality and will administer a reprimand with warning of severe action on any future
transgressions, considering respondent's unenviable record.
A final word is called for on respondent's statement in his Explanation inferring that
he was led to file his petition with the President by the fact that his motions for
reconsideration "were only denied by the Clerk of Court without any comment
whatsoever". As the Court has had occasion to state in People vs. Catolico * and
earlier cases, this remark of respondent exposes his lack of appreciation or disregard
of the time-honored usage of the Court that minute resolutions, summons and
processes of the Court, upon being duly adopted and recorded are transmitted to the
interested parties by and upon the signature of the Clerk of Court who is duly
authorized to do so. With the thousands of resolutions approved monthly by the Court,
it would unduly tax the time and attention of the Chief Justice and members of the
Court to the prejudice of the administration of justice if all such papers, other than
decisions, could be released only upon their own signatures.
ACCORDINGLY, respondent is hereby administered a reprimand for gross ignorance
of the law and of the Constitution in having asked the President to set aside by decree
the Court's decision which suspended him for two years from the practice of law, with
warning that the commission of any transgression in the future of his oath and duties
as a member of the bar will be severely dealt with.
SO ORDERED.