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A.M. NO.

P-07-2298 April 24, 2009

EN BANC

PETER B. MALLONGA, Complainant,


vs.
MARITES R. MANIO, Court Interpreter III, Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 4, Tuguegarao
City, Respondent.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

A.M. NO. P-07-2299 April 24, 2009

HON. LYLIHA ABELLA-AQUINO, Judge, RTC, Branch 4, Tuguegarao City, Complainant,


vs.
MARITES R. MANIO, Court Interpreter III, RTC, Branch 4, Tuguegarao City, Respondent.

Facts:

The case is a consolidated administrative charges against Court Interpreter III Marites R. Manio
(Manio) of Branch 4, Regional Trial Court (RTC), Tuguegarao City for dishonesty and grave
misconduct.

Administrative Matter No. P-07-2298 stemmed from an executed by Peter B. Mallonga (Mallonga).

Mallonga stated that respondent Manio was his former classmate and friend in college. Mallonga
went to the RTC of Tuguegarao City and inquired from respondent Manio if she knew a lawyer who
could help him for the correction of entry in his marriage certificate.

Respondent volunteered the name of a certain lawyer and told Mallonga to secure copies of his
marriage and birth certificates. A week later, Mallonga gave the copies of said certificates and
respondent then asked Mallonga to sign a prepared petition and to pay the amount of ₱13,000.00 for
attorney’s fees and other expenses.

After many weeks passed, Respondent Manio handed a copy of an alleged resolution dated
November 25, 2003 of Branch 4, RTC, Tuguegarao City and purportedly signed by Judge Lyliha L.
Abella-Aquino and told Mallonga his petition was already granted and that she "pulled some strings
in the court”.

Mallonga asked respondent to produce a certificate of finality, but the latter failed to deliver the
same.

Mallonga went to the office of respondent and asked for the assistance of clerk of Courts. When
Danao checked his records, he found that the docket number which appeared in the resolution
Manio had given Mallonga belonged to another case, and that the said resolution was a spurious
document.

Judge Abella-Aquino forwarded the complaint of Mallonga to the Office of the Court Administrator
(OCA) and reported that her signature in the purported resolution was a forgery.
A.M. No. P-07-2299 arose from an Affidavit dated April 19, 2004 executed by Bernadette Canlas-
Bartolome (Bartolome).

In said matter it was quite similar with what happened in the first case. Petitioner Bartolome was the
doing transaction with Manio for the correction of entries in the marriage certificate of her sister who
was in the Italy now.

This Court promulgated Canlas-Bartolome v. Manio7 docketed as A.M. No. P-07-2397,which is an


earlier case filed against respondent guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct and hereby
dismisses her from the service.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent Manio was guilty of such dishonesty and misconduct?

Held:

This Court hold respondent Manio guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct for the second time.

Respondent Manio’s dismissal from the service in A.M. No. P-07-2397 does not render moot the
subject complaints of Mallonga and Judge Aquino in A.M. P-07-2298, which were founded on a
different set of facts.

She took advantage of her official position and defrauded a potential litigant. Her acts clearly
constitute dishonesty which is the "disposition to lie, cheat, deceive or defraud; untrustworthiness;
lack of integrity; lack of honesty, probity, or integrity in principle; lack of fairness and
straightforwardness; disposition to defraud, deceive or betray. The forgery that she committed in
furtherance of the deceit constitutes grave misconduct or a "flagrantly or shamefully wrong or
improper conduct.

We view with disfavor respondent Manio’s repeated refusal to answer the charges against her. Thus,
the Court considers her silence and inaction as indicative not only of defiance, but also of guilt.

In the present case, taking into account the Court’s earlier decision in Canlas-Bartolome v. Manio,
WE impose upon respondent Manio the penalty of fine in the amount of ₱40,000.00 to be deducted
from her accrued leave credits in lieu of the extreme penalty of dismissal for a grave offense.

A.M. No. P-07-2299 is hereby DISMISSED, as the charges involved therein against respondent
Manio had already been resolved by this Court in a prior judgment.

86. A.C. No. 7813 April 21, 2009

CARLITO P. CARANDANG, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. GILBERT S. OBMINA, Respondent.
Facts:

This is a complaint filed by Carlito P. Carandang (Carandang) against Atty. Gilbert S. Obmina (Atty.
Obmina). Atty. Obmina was counsel for Carandang in Civil Case. Carandang brought suit for Atty.
Obmina’s failure to inform Carandang of the adverse decision in Civil Case No. B-5109 and for
failure to appeal the decision.

The IBP’s Report and Recommendation

IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline Jose I. De La Rama, Jr. found that Atty. Obmina was still
counsel of record for complainant at the time the decision was rendered and up to the time of the
issuance of the writ of execution.

Although Commissioner observed that complainant is partly to blame for his loss for failure to
maintain contact with Atty. Obmina and to inform himself of the progress of his case, Commissioner
De La Rama nonetheless underscored the duty of Atty. Obmina to notify his client as to what
happened to his case.

Thus, IBP found that Atty. Obmina violated Canon 18, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

Issue:

Whether or not Atty. Obmina violated his duty as a lawyer or counsel of Carandang?

Held:

Yes.

Yes, Atty. Obmina violated Canon 18, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Also Atty. Obmina Failed to Serve Complainant
with Competence and Diligence.

Canon 18 states that "[a] lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence." Rules 18.03
and 18.04 provide that "[a] lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable" and "[a] lawyer shall keep the client
informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the client’s request
for information."

Atty. Obmina’s futile efforts of shifting the blame on Carandang only serve to emphasize his failure to
notify Carandang that there is already a decision in said Civil Case that was adverse to Carandang’s
interests. Atty. Obmina cannot overlook that Carandang learned about the promulgation of the
decision not through him but through a chance visit to the trial court.

The relationship of lawyer-client being one of confidence, there is ever present the need for the
lawyer to inform timely and adequately the client of important developments affecting the client’s
case. The lawyer should not leave the client in the dark on how the lawyer is defending the client’s
interests.

Thus, Atty. Gilbert S. Obmina is found GUILTY of violation of Canon 18 and of Rules 18.03 and
18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Court SUSPENDS Atty. Gilbert S. Obmina
from the practice of law for one year, and WARNS him that a repetition of the same or similar
offense will be dealt with more severely.

87. A.M. No. RTJ-09-2176 April 20, 2009

PROSECUTOR JORGE D. BACULI, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE MEDEL ARNALDO B. BELEN, Regional Trial Court, Branch 36, Calamba City,
Laguna, Respondent.

Facts:

Complainant Prosecutor Baculi filed against the accused Jay Ballestrinos an information for
frustrated homicide.

Respondent Judge directed herein complainant Baculi to explain why he should not be cited in
contempt of court for making unfounded statements in his pleadings.

In the course of the proceedings, complainant Baculi filed several pleadings [1] Motion to Dismiss
and/or Cancel Proceedings with Voluntary Inhibition and [2] Urgent Reiterative Motion to Dismiss
and/or Hold in Abeyance the Proceedings and/or Resolution of the Citation for Contempt with
Voluntary Inhibition and Complaints for Gross Ignorance of the Law, Grave Misconduct, Abuse of
Authority and Acts Unbecoming a Lawyer and Member of the Judiciary, Harassment and Oppressive
Conduct.

Thus, respondent Judge found complainant Baculi guilty of direct contempt for making scurrilous and
contumacious statements in the latter’s Urgent Reiterative Motion.

In another Decision complainant Baculi was cited for indirect contempt of court and sentenced to pay
a fine of Twenty Thousand Pesos (₱20,000.00) and to suffer imprisonment of three (3) days.

Thereafter, complainant filed the instant complaint, asseverating, that respondent violated Section 7,
Rule 71 of the Rules of Court and prevailing jurisprudence in holding him liable for indirect contempt
because the use of contemptuous language in a pleading, if submitted before the same judge, would
constitute only direct contempt of court; that complainant's conviction had no basis because the
pleadings in question did not contain any vulgar, vile or unethical statements that would be an affront
to the dignity of the court. Thus, complainant charges respondent with abuse of the court’s power to
cite persons for contempt.

Issue:

Whether or not Judge Belen is guilty of gross ignorance of law for citing complainant guilty of indirect
contempt?

Held:

Yes, respondent is guilty of gross ignorance of the law for citing complainant for indirect contempt.
Charges for indirect contempt shall be commenced by a verified petition with supporting particulars
and certified true copies of documents or papers involved therein, and upon full compliance with the
requirements for filing initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court concerned.

As correctly observed by OCA, there was no order issued by respondent for the charge of indirect
contempt against complainant to be docketed separately; neither was there an order that the said
charge be consolidated with the principal action. In sum, respondent simply incorporated or
integrated the proceedings for indirect contempt with the principal case.

Respondent Judge failed to conform to the high standards of competence required of judges under
the Code of Judicial Conduct, which mandates that:

Rule 1.01. — A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence.

Rule 3.01 — A judge shall x x x maintain professional competence.

When a judge displays an utter lack of familiarity with the rules, he erodes the public's confidence in
the competence of the courts. Such is gross ignorance of the law. Having accepted the exalted
position of a judge, he owes the public and the court the duty to be proficient in the law. A judge
must be acquainted with legal norms and precepts as well as with procedural rules. Verily, failure to
follow basic legal commands embodied in the law and the rules constitutes gross ignorance of the
law, from which no one is excused, and surely not a judge like respondent.10

88. EDERLINDA K MANZANO, COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. SANTIAGO C. SORIANO,


RESPONDENT.

Facts:

Complainant Ederlinda K. Manzano charged respondent Atty. Santiago C. Soriano with dishonesty
(misappropriation) and misrepresentation and/or usurping the authority of a notary public.

According to complainant, she engaged respondent's services to pursue collection cases from
individuals dealing with her construction supply/hardware business. After a time, complainant
noticed that not a single successful collection was ever made. The case was investigated by the
IBP-CBD.

As aptly observed by the CBD, respondent perverted his position, as complainant's lawyer, and his
legal expertise by convincing debtor Barela to sell and transfer to him the latter’s house for PhP
65,000 with the understanding that it would remit the PhP 50,000 to complainant to offset Barela's
debt. Instead of remitting the amount, respondent, however, misappropriated this amount for his
benefit without so much as informing complainant. And in a vain bid to cover up his grave misdeed,
respondent, via a deed of sale made it appear that he acquired the aforesaid property from Barela's
mother for PhP 10,000.

Issue:

Whether or not Atty. Soriano is guilty in usurping the authority of a notary public?

Held:
Yes, respondent held himself up and acted as notary public for the province of Camarines Sur for
Calendar Years 1996, 2005, 2006, and 2007 although he was without the proper commission during
those times.

Performing a notarial act without such commission is a violation of the lawyer's oath to obey the
laws, more specifically the Notarial Law. Then, by making it to appear that he is duly commissioned
when he is not, he is, for all intents and purposes, indulging in deliberate falsehood, which the
lawyer's oath similarly proscribes.

But the worst uncovered cut of all occurred in 1996, when respondent authenticated a conveying
deed, one which he prepared, and he himself was the transferee of the lot. Respondent, by his
conduct, created an impression of dishonesty, fraud, or deceit, not only in his dealings with a client
but also with the public.

His guilt for the acts complained of which constitute dishonesty, grave misconduct and/or serious
malpractice, not to mention his delinquency in the payment of his annual IBP dues since the year
2003, is indisputable. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Santiago C. Soriano is DISBARRED from
the practice of law.

89. A.M. No. MTJ-06-1651 April 7, 2009


(Formerly OCA IPI No. 04-1576-MTJ)

PROSECUTOR ROBERT M. VISBAL, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE WENCESLAO B. VANILLA, MTCC - BR. 2, TACLOBAN CITY Respondent.

Facts:

The complainant in this criminal case is with the Leyte Provincial Prosecution Office and he charged
respondent with grave misconduct and gross ignorance of the law for ordering Criminal Case No.
2000-08-OD-01 to be archived.

The complainant alleged that at the time the respondent judge ordered the criminal case archived,
the witnesses for the Prosecution were able, ready, and willing to testify, with due notice to the
accused after he had been arraigned.

The complainant ground his complaint when the respondent issued a warrant for the arrest of the
accused for his failure to appear; thus, "there was no setting of the hearing in the meantime, for it
was not known when the accused would be arrested and, for practical purposes, he ordered that the
case be archived to be revived upon the arrest of the accused.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent Judge was guilty of gross ignorance of the law?

Held:

Yes, respondent judge showed gross ignorance of the law when he archived the said criminal case
immediately after the warrant of arrest was issued against the accused. He violated Administrative
Circular No. 7-A-92, which allows the archiving of a criminal case if, after the issuance of the warrant
of arrest, the accused remains at large for six (6) months from delivery of the warrant to the proper
peace officer.

Under Canon 1.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge must be "the embodiment of
competence, integrity and independence." A judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory
acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules; it is imperative that he be conversant with basic
legal principles and be aware of well-settled authoritative doctrines. He owes to the public and to this
Court the duty to be proficient in the law. He is expected to keep abreast of laws and prevailing
jurisprudence.

In this case, considering that no malice or bad faith has been established and it is respondent
judge's first administrative offense, it is just and reasonable to impose upon him a fine of
₱10,000.00.

90. A.C. No. 5704 May 8, 2009

WILLEM KUPERS, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. JOHNSON B. HONTANOSAS, Respondent.

Facts:

Complainant claimed that as counsel for Hans and Vivian Busse, respondent had prepared a
memorandum of agreement and a contract of lease between the spouses Busse and Hochstrasser,
a Swiss national. In another agreement prepared by respsondent for his foreign clients it stated that
it would lease Vivian Busse’s property in Alcoy, Cebu for fifty (50) years, renewable for another fifty
(50) years. Respondent prepared a similar agreement and lease contract between the spouses
Busse and Karl Emberger, a Swiss national, over another parcel of land in Alcoy, Cebu. This time
the lease contract was for a period of forty nine (49) years renewable for another forty nine (49)
years.6 All four (4) documents were notarized by respondent. It was also respondent who drafted two
deeds of sale over the leased properties of Spouses Busse to Naomie Melchior, a Filipina, and Karl
Novak, a German National.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent has any liability or violation?

Held:

Yes it has.

Respondents drafting and preparing of the subject contracts clearly shows that it violated the law
limiting lease of private lands to aliens for a period of twenty five (25) years renewable for another
twenty five (25) years.

In preparing and notarizing illegal lease contracts, respondent violated the Attorney’s Oath and
several canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility. One of the foremost sworn duties of an
attorney-at-law is to "obey the laws of the Philippines.This duty is enshrined in the Attorney’s
Oath and in Canon 1, which provides that "(a) lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of
the land and promote respect for law and legal processes." Rule 1.02 under Canon 1 states: "A
lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at decreasing confidence in
the legal systems."

Also other canons of was transgressed by the respondent:

CANON 15 – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS
DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.

Rule 15.07- A lawyer shall impress upon his client compliance with the laws and the principles of
hairness.

CANON 17 – A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE
MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.

Also the acts of respondents also amount to gross misconduct under Section 27, Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court.

91. A.C. No. 6674 June 30, 2009

ROBERT BERNHARD BUEHS, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. INOCENCIO T. BACATAN, Respondent.

Facts:

A petition for the disbarment of respondent Atty. Inocencio T. Bacatan filed by complainant Robert
Bernhard Buehs, charging respondent with representation of conflicting interests and gross
misconduct for usurpation of authority.

Complainant alleged that:

1. Respondent clearly represented conflicting interests by acting as counsel for Alvarez and
Malukuh in the criminal case they filed against herein complainant while the labor case filed
by Alvarez and Malukuh against complainant was still pending before him.

2. Respondent usurped the judicial powers of the Regional Trial Court and the higher judicial
authorities by issuing a Hold Departure Order/Watchlist Order without any notice or hearing.

Respondent claimed that when he indorsed the criminal complaint for the complainants, he could
already do so as counsel because he had already rendered his Decision in the illegal dismissal
case.

Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Bacatan is guilty of representing conflicting interest?

Held:

Respondent is found GUILTY of gross misconduct for representing conflicting interests, gross
ignorance of the law for issuing an order without authority, and failure to update his membership
dues to the IBP

Code of Professional Responsibility State:

Rule 15.01 – A lawyer, in conferring with a prospective client, shall ascertain as soon as practicable
whether the matter would involve a conflict with another client or is own interest, and if so, shall
forthwith inform the prospective client.

Rule 15.03 – A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all
concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.

In the present case, respondent was appointed as Voluntary Arbitrator for the parties in the illegal
dismissal case. He took on the duty to act as a disinterested person to hear the parties’ contentions
and give judgment between them.20 However, instead of exhibiting neutrality and impartiality
expected of an arbitrator, respondent indorsed a criminal complaint to the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Zamboanga City for possible criminal prosecution against herein complainant, and
signed the said Indorsement as counsel for complainants in the illegal dismissal case

Respondent likewise showed gross ignorance of the law when he issued a Hold Departure Order
requesting the BID to place petitioner in its Watchlist, completely contravening Supreme Court
Circular No. 39-97

Lastly, as the Investigating Commissioner also discovered that respondent failed to update his IBP
membership dues and pay his community tax certificate for the year 2004, he is likewise liable under
Sections 9 and 10,23 Rule 139-A of the Rules Court

Section 9. Membership dues. – Every member of the Integrated Bar shall pay such annual dues as
the Board of Governors shall determine with the approval of the Supreme Court. A fixed sum
equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the collections from each Chapter shall be set aside as a Welfare
Fund for disabled members of the Chapter and the compulsory heirs of deceased members. 1avv phi1

Section 10. Effect of non-payment of dues. – Subject to the provisions of Section 12 of this Rule,
default in the payment of annual dues for six months shall warrant suspension of membership in the
Integrated Bar, and default in such payment for one year shall be a ground for the removal of the
name of the delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys.

92. A.C. No. 7036 June 29, 2009

JUDGE LILY LYDIA A. LAQUINDANUM, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. NESTOR Q. QUINTANA, Respondent.

Facts:
This administrative case against Atty. Nestor Q. Quintana (Atty. Quintana) stemmed from a
letter filed by Executive Judge Lily Lydia A. Laquindanum of the Regional Trial Court of Midsayap,
Cotabato requesting that proper disciplinary action be imposed on him for performing notarial
functions in Midsayap, Cotabato, which is beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the
commissioning court that issued his notarial commission, and for allowing his wife to do
notarial acts in his absence.

Issue:

Whether or not Atty. Quintana violated his duty as a notary public?

Held:

Yes, Atty. Quintana violated the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice and the Code of Professional
Responsibility when he committed the following acts:

(1) he notarized documents outside the area of his commission as a notary public; (2) he
performed notarial acts with an expired commission; (3) he let his wife notarize
documents in his absence; and (4) he notarized a document where one of the
signatories therein was already dead at that time.

The act of notarizing documents outside one’s area of commission partakes of malpractice of law
and falsification. Notarizing documents with an expired commission is a violation of the lawyer’s oath
to obey the laws. Since the public is deceived into believing that he has been duly commissioned, it
also amounts to indulging in deliberate falsehood, which the lawyer's oath proscribes. Notarizing
documents without the presence of the signatory to the document is a violation of Sec. 2(b)(1), Rule
IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and
the lawyer’s oath which unconditionally requires lawyers not to do or declare any falsehood. Finally,
Atty. Quintana is personally accountable for the documents that were signed by his wife and thus,
guilty of violating Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which requires lawyers not to
directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice of law.

Atty. Quintana fell miserably short of his obligation under Canon 7 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which directs every lawyer to uphold at all times the integrity
and dignity of the legal profession.

93. A.M. No. RTJ-07-2063 June 26, 2009


(Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 07-2588-RTJ)

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE RAMON S. CAGUIOA, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City,
Branch 74,Respondent.

Facts:

Three administrative cases was filed against Judge Ramon S. Caguioa, Presiding Judge of Branch
74, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Olongapo City.
For gross ignorance of the law, manifest partiality, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the
best interest of the service

A.M. No. RTJ-07-2063 was grounded no respondent judge order granting the Declaratory Relief with
Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Preliminary Mandatory Injunction of the
collection/payment of excise taxes.

A.M. No. RTJ-07-2064 respondent granted a Petition for Mandamus, with Prayer for the Issuance of
a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Writ of Preliminary Injunction, of the reassigning 20
customs personnel to different ports and offices.

A.M. No. RTJ-07-2066 respondent dismissed the civil case on the principal ground of prescription.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent judge is guilty of gross ignorance of law?

Held:

Yes, he is.

Respondent judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of
the service.

Ignorance of the law is the mainspring of injustice. Judges are called upon to exhibit more than just a
cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules. Basic rules should be at the palm of their
hands. Their inexcusable failure to observe basic laws and rules will render them administratively
liable. Where the law involved is simple and elementary, lack of conversance with it constitutes
gross ignorance of the law. "Verily, for transgressing the elementary jurisdictional limits of his court,
respondent should be administratively liable for gross ignorance of the law.

94. A.M. No. MTJ-06-1659 June 18, 2009

ANNA JANE D. LIHAYLIHAY, Clerk III, Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, Liloy, Zamboanga del
Norte,Complainant,
vs.
JUDGE ALEJANDRO T. CANDA, Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Liloy-Tampilisan, Zamboanga
del Norte,Respondent.

Facts:

Lihaylihay (Clerk III, Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 28, Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte) filed a
complaint with the Office of the Court Administrator charging Judge Canda of (1) bullying her; (2)
ridiculing, humiliating, and besmirching her reputation by publishing in the newspaper describing her
as a GRO and a whore; (3) sending her threatening text messages; and (4) sending her indecent
text messages.

Judge Canda on the other hand filed a complaint with the OCA charging Lihaylihay with conduct
unbecoming a court employee for publishing in the newspaper her 20 January 2006 comment.
Issue:

Whether or not Judge Canda violated the Legal Ethics imposed to judges?

Held:

Yes, Judge Canda is liable for gross misconduct.

Section 6, Canon 4 of the Code states that "Judges, like any other citizen, are entitled to freedom of
expression but in exercising such right, they shall always conduct themselves in such a manner as
to preserve the dignity of the judicial office." Section 6, Canon 6 of the Code states that "Judges
shall x x x be x x x dignified and courteous." Judge Canda violated these provisions.

Judge must at all times be temperate in his language. He must choose his words, written or spoken,
with utmost care and sufficient control.

Judge Canda’s acts of (1) threatening Lihaylihay (2) filing administrative complaints and a criminal
case to harass her; (3) describing her as a "GRO," "undignified," a "whore," "disgusting," "repulsive,"
"pakialamera," "offensive," "demeaning," and "inappropriate"; and (4) publishing such foul remarks in
the newspaper are very unbecoming a judge. The image of the judiciary is reflected in the conduct of
its officials and Judge Canda subjected the judiciary to embarrassment.

95. A.C. No. 8010 June 16, 2009

KELD STEMMERIK, represented by ATTYS. HERMINIO A. LIWANAG and WINSTON P.L.


ESGUERRA,Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. LEONUEL N. MAS, Respondent.

Facts:

In one visit to the Philippines complainant Keld Stemmerik who is a citizen and resident of
Denmark consulted respondent who advised him that he could legally acquire and own real
property in the Philippines. Respondent even suggested an 86,998 sq.m. property in Quarry,
Agusuin, Cawag, Subic, Zambales with the assurance that the property was alienable.

Because of this, complainant purchase a property through respondent as his representative or


attorney-in-fact a property in Quarry, Agusuin, Cawag, Subic, Zambales in which he gave 3.8
million to respondent. He also engaged the services of respondent for the preparation of the
necessary document and paid again an amount of Php 400,000 for such services.

After these transactions, complainant tried to get in touch with respondent the latter became
scarce and refused to answer complainant’s calls and e-mails.

When complainant visited the Philippines again he engaged the services of another law firm
to ascertain the status of the property only to learn that aliens could not own land under
Philippine laws. Moreover, CENRO of the Olongapo City revealed that the property was
inalienable as it was situated within the former US Military Reservation.

Issue:

Whether or not the respondent Atty. Mas is liable to said acts?

Held:

Yes,

Lawyers, as members of a noble profession, have the duty to promote respect for the law and
uphold the integrity of the bar.

Lawyers are servants of the law 23 and the law is their master. They should not simply obey
the laws, they should also inspire respect for and obedience thereto by serving as exemplars
worthy of emulation. Indeed, that is the first precept of the Code of Professional Responsibility:

CANON 1 – A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE
LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.

Section 7, Article XII of the Constitution provides:

SEC. 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or


conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold
lands of the public domain.

Under the Constitution, aliens may not acquire private or agricultural lands, including
residential lands

Respondent, in giving advice that directly contradicted a fundamental constitutional policy,


showed disrespect for the Constitution and gross ignorance of basic law. Worse, he prepared
spurious documents that he knew were void and illegal.

By advising complainant that a foreigner could legally and validly acquire real estate in the
Philippines and by assuring complainant that the property was alienable, respondent
deliberately foisted a falsehood on his client.

respondent violated not only the lawyer’s oath and Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. He also transgressed the following provisions of the Code of Professional
Responsibility:

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

Rule 1.02. – A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at
lessening confidence in the legal system.

CANON 7 – A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF
THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
CANON 15 – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS
DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENT.

CANON 16 – A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS
CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.

CANON 17 – A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE
MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM. (emphasis supplied)

It is respondent and his kind that give lawyering a bad name and make laymen support Dick
the Butcher’s call, "Kill all lawyers!"27 A disgrace to their professional brethren, they must be
purged from the bar.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Leonuel N. Mas is hereby DISBARRED. The Clerk of Court is
directed to immediately strike out the name of respondent from the Roll of Attorneys.

96. A.M. No. MTJ-05-1588 June 5, 2009


(Formerly No. 04-9-511-RTC)

JUDGE DIVINA LUZ P. AQUINO-SIMBULAN, Complainant,


vs.
PRESIDING JUDGE NICASIO BARTOLOME (retired), ACTING CLERK OF COURT ROMANA C.
PASCUAL, CLERK OF COURT MILAGROS P. LEREY (retired), and DOCKET CLERK AMOR
DELA CRUZ, all of the Municipal Trial Court, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, Respondents

Facts:

Complainant Judge Divina Luz P. Aquino-Simbulan with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA),
alleged that respondents Judge Nicasio V. Bartolome, together with Romana Pascual, Milagros
Lerey, and Amor dela Cruz, Acting Clerk of Court, retired Clerk of Court and Docket Clerk,
respectively, all of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Sta. Maria, Bulacan, committed grave errors
and discrepancies in processing the surety bond for the accused Rosalina Mercado in Criminal Case
No. 13360. Also respondent delayed in the transmission of this surety bonds and other documents
were not properly attached.

The Criminal Case was originally raffled to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 41, San
Fernando, Pampanga, where complainant Judge presides.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent Judge Bartolome has negligence in the said transmission of surety
bond?

Held:

Yes, respondent judge is liable for gross neglect of duty.


Whenever bail is filed with a court other than where the case is pending, the judge accepting the bail
shall forward the bail, the order of release and other supporting papers to the court where the case is
pending, which may, for good reason, require a different one to be filed.

Respondent Judge contends that Lerey, who has been Clerk of Court for 37 years, was given the
simple matter of examining the documents attached to the application for a bail bond. Lerey admitted
her negligence when she misplaced and overlooked the surety bond policy.

However, Lerey’s admission of negligence cannot excuse respondent Judge from liability in the
irregular processing of the bail bond. Pertinent provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct 31 state
that:

Rule 3.08. – A judge should diligently discharge administrative responsibilities, maintain professional
competence in court management, and facilitate the performance of the administrative functions of
other judges and court personnel.

Rule 3.09. – A judge should organize and supervise the court personnel to ensure the prompt and
efficient dispatch of business, and require at all times the observance of high standards of public
service and finality.

is the responsibility of the judge to always see to it that his/her orders are properly and promptly
enforced, and that case records are properly stored and kept. Thus, in the present case, respondent
Judge himself should have verified that the documents for bail were complete and correct instead of
relying on the representations of his clerk of court.

97. A.C. No. 5688 June 4, 2009

FELIPE E. ABELLA, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. ASTERIA E. CRUZABRA, Respondent.

Facts:

Complainant charged respondent with engaging in private practice of law while employed in the
government service.

Complainant asserted that as Deputy Register of Deeds, respondent filed a petition for commission
as a notary public and thereafter was commissioned without obtaining prior authority from the
Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Complainant claimed that respondent has notarized
some 3,000 document.

Respondent reasoned that her being a notary public complemented her functions as Deputy
Register of Deeds because respondent could immediately have documents notarized instead of the
registrants going out of the office to look for a notary public. Respondent added that she did not
charge fees for the documents required by the office to be presented under oath.14 lawphi1

Issue:
Whether or not respondents act of engaging as notary public while in the government service is
violative?

Held:

Yes.

It is clear that when respondent filed her petition for commission as a notary public, she did not
obtain a written permission from the Secretary of the DOJ. Respondent’s superior, the Register of
Deeds, cannot issue any authorization because he is not the head of the Department. And even
assuming that the Register of Deeds authorized her, respondent failed to present any proof of that
written permission. Respondent cannot feign ignorance or good faith because respondent filed her
petition for commission as a notary public after Memorandum Circular No. 17 was issued in 1986.

Under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, engaging in the private
practice of profession, when unauthorized, is classified as a light offense punishable by reprimand.

Wherefore, Atty. Asteria E. Cruzabra is guilty of engaging in notarial practice without the written
authority from the Secretary of the Department of Justice, and accordingly we REPRIMAND her.

98. A.C. No. 6121 July 31, 2009

TRINIDAD H. CAMARA, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. OSCAR AMANDY REYES, Respondent.

Facts:

Complainant hired the services of respondent to handle her case. As partial acceptance fee,
respondent received from complainant ₱50,000.00 evidenced by a receipt placed on his calling card.
Respondent, however, took no steps to protect complainant’s interest. As no service was rendered,
complainant asked respondent to return the amount for repair of his house. Respondent offered that
he would take charge of repairing the house. Yet, he again failed to fulfill his promise, which
prompted the complainant to reiterate her demand for the return of the money.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent Reyes is liable?

Held: Yes

The alleged compromise between complainant and respondent is not enough to exonerate the latter
from the present disciplinary case.

The act of receiving money as acceptance fee for legal services in handling complainant’s case and
subsequently failing to render such services is a clear violation of Canon 18 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which provides that a lawyer shall serve his client with competence and
diligence. Specifically, Rule 18.03 states:
A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith
shall render him liable.

A member of the legal profession owes his client entire devotion to the latter’s genuine interest, and
warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights. An attorney is expected to exert his best
efforts and ability to preserve his client’s cause, for the unwavering loyalty displayed to his client,
likewise, serves the ends of justice.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Oscar Amandy Reyes is SUSPENDED for a period of SIX (6) MONTHS from
the practice of law.

99. A.M. No. RTJ-08-2132 July 31, 2009


[Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2549-RTJ]

ATTY. FLORENCIO ALAY BINALAY, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE ELIAS O. LELINA, JR., Respondent.

Facts:

Atty. Florencio Alay Binalay (complainant), head agent of the NBI Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya,
administratively charged Judge Elias O. Lelina, Jr. (respondent), presiding judge of Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Cabarroguis, Quirino, for violation of Section 35, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and
Rule 5.07, Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The Court, by Order preventively suspended respondent on account of an earlier administrative


complaint charging respondent with harassment in connection with the criminal complaint for Rape
filed against him.

Respondent was acquitted in the criminal complaint because of the motion for new trial.

He subsequently filed a Manifestation, Appeal and Omnibus Motion appealing to the Court’s "sense
of understanding, charity and justice" to grant him permission to practice law during the remainder of
his preventive suspension or, if such cannot be granted, to consider him resigned from the judiciary.
It turned out that before he filed the said Manifestation, Appeal and Omnibus Motion, respondent
engaged in the private practice of law.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent Judge violated Code of Judicial conduct when he engaged in the private
practice during his preventive suspension?

Held:

Yes, he is liable.

Where the law does not distinguish, the courts should not distinguish.18 Since Section 35, Rule 138
of the Rules of Court19 and Section 11, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the
Philippine Judiciary20 does not make any distinction in prohibiting judges from engaging in the private
practice of law while holding judicial office, no distinction should be made in its application. In the
present case, respondent having been merely suspended and not dismissed from the service, he
was still bound under the prohibition.

As a member of the judiciary, albeit a suspended one, he still had the duty to comply with the Rules
and the New Code of Judicial Conduct.

That respondent tried to secure an authorization to engage in private practice pending the resolution
of A.M. No. RTJ-98-141523 shows his awareness of the proscription against engaging in the private
practice of law.

100. A.C. No. 8243 July 24, 2009

ROLANDO B. PACANA, JR., Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. MARICEL PASCUAL-LOPEZ, Respondent.

Facts:

Administrative complaint filed by Rolando Pacana, Jr. against Atty. Maricel Pascual-Lopez charging
the latter with flagrant violation of the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It alleges
that respondent committed acts constituting conflict of interest, dishonesty, influence peddling, and
failure to render an accounting of all the money and properties received by her from complainant.

In this case, complainant sought the advice of respondent who also a member of the Couples for
Christ where complainant and his wife were also active members.

After a few weeks, complainant was surprised to receive demand letter from respondent asking for
the return and settlement of the funds invested by respondent’s clients in Multitel. When complainant
confronted respondent about the demand letter, the latter explained that she had to send it so that
her clients the defrauded investors of Multitel would know that she was doing something for them
and assured complainant that there was nothing to worry about.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent Atty. Lopez is guilty of representing clients with conflicting interest?

Held:

Yes

Rule 15.03 – A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all
concerned given after full disclosure of the facts.

In the course of a lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns all the facts connected with the
client’s case, including its weak and strong points. Such knowledge must be considered
sacred and guarded with care. No opportunity must be given to him to take advantage of his
client; for if the confidence is abused, the profession will suffer by the loss thereof.
Respondent must have known that her act of constantly and actively communicating with
complainant, who, at that time, was beleaguered with demands from investors of Multitel,
eventually led to the establishment of a lawyer-client relationship. Respondent cannot shield
herself from the inevitable consequences of her actions by simply saying that the assistance
she rendered to complainant was only in the form of "friendly accommodations," 47 precisely
because at the time she was giving assistance to complainant, she was already privy to the
cause of the opposing parties who had been referred to her by the SEC.48

Respondent also tries to disprove the existence of such relationship by arguing that no
written contract for the engagement of her services was ever forged between her and
complainant. The IBP was correct when it said that “the absence of a written contract will not
preclude the finding that there was a professional relationship between the parties”.

101. A.C. No. 7815 July 23, 2009

DOLORES C. BELLEZA, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. ALAN S. MACASA, Respondent.

Facts:

Complainant went to see respondent on referral of their mutual friend. Complainant availed of
respondent’s legal services in connection with the case of her son for alleged violation of
Republic Act 9165 which respondent agreed for ₱30,000.

Complainant made a partial payment of ₱15,000 thru their mutual friend Chua. Then she gave
him an additional ₱10,000 and paid the ₱5,000 balance. Both payments were also made thru
Chua however respondent did not issue any receipt.

Respondent received also ₱18,000 from complainant for posting a bond to secure the
provisional liberty of her son. Again, no receipt was issued. When complainant went to the
court she found out that respondent did not remit the amount to the court.

Complainant demanded the return of the money from respondent but latter ignored her.
Respondent failed to act on the case of complainant’s son and complainant was forced to
avail of the services of the Public Attorney’s Office for her son’s defense.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent Atty. Macasa violated his duty as a lawyer?

Held:Yes

Respondent undertook to defend the criminal case against complainant’s son. Such
undertaking imposed upon him the following duties:

CANON 17 – A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE
MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.
CANON 18 – A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

xxx xxx xxx

Rule 18.03 – A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
connection therewith shall render him liable.

xxx xxx xxx

CANON 19 – A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS
OF THE LAW.

A lawyer who accepts professional employment from a client undertakes to serve his client
with competence and diligence.17 He must conscientiously perform his duty arising from
such relationship.

If his client’s case is already pending in court, a lawyer must actively represent his client by
promptly filing the necessary pleading or motion and assiduously attending the scheduled
hearings. This is specially significant for a lawyer who represents an accused in a criminal
case.

In this case, after accepting the criminal case against complainant’s son and receiving his
attorney’s fees, respondent did nothing that could be considered as effective and efficient
legal assistance. For all intents and purposes, respondent abandoned the cause of his client.
Indeed, on account of respondent’s continued inaction, complainant was compelled to seek
the services of the Public Attorney’s Office. Respondent’s lackadaisical attitude towards the
case of complainant’s son was reprehensible. Not only did it prejudice complainant’s son, it
also deprived him of his constitutional right to counsel. Furthermore, in failing to use the
amount entrusted to him for posting a bond to secure the provisional liberty of his client,
respondent unduly impeded the latter’s constitutional right to bail.

Thus, a lawyer who does not render legal services is not entitled to attorney’s fees.
Otherwise, not only would he be unjustly enriched at the expense of the client, he would also
be rewarded for his negligence and irresponsibility.

Respondent Failed to Uphold the Integrity and Dignity of the Legal Profession

For his failure to comply with the exacting ethical standards of the legal profession, respondent failed
to obey Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:

CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND THE DIGNITY OF
THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.

102. A.C. No. 7199 July 22, 2009


[Formerly CBD 04-1386]

FOODSPHERE, INC., Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. MELANIO L. MAURICIO, JR., Respondent.

Facts:
Foodsphere, Inc. (complainant), a corporation engaged in the business of meat processing and
manufacture and distribution of canned goods and grocery products under the brand name "CDO,"
filed a Verified Complaint1 for disbarment against Atty. Melanio L. Mauricio, Jr., popularly known as
"Batas Mauricio" (respondent), a writer/columnist of tabloids and a host of a television program and
of a radio program for (1) grossly immoral conduct; (2) violation of lawyer’s oath and (3) disrespect to
the courts and to investigating prosecutors.

This case stemmed from the Alberto Cordero found the spread had a colony of worms inside the
can. Cordero filed a complaint against complainants but it was settled to a compromise agreement.
Respondent sent complainant an Advertising Contract asking complainant to advertise in its tabloid
for a total amount of ₱360,000, and a Program Profile of the television program also asking
complainant to place spot advertisements. However not all offers was taken by the complainant.

Disappointed with the offer and threatened to proceed with the publication of the articles/columns,
respondent published offensive and malicious articles against respondent causing damage to its
reputation despite a temporary restraining order issued against him expressly prohibiting such
actions.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent violated his oath of office?

Held:

Yes.

Respondent violated Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates lawyers
to refrain from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. He engaged in
deceitful conduct by taking advantage of the complaint against CDO to advance his interest – to
obtain funds for his Batas Foundation and seek sponsorships and advertisements for the tabloids
and his television program.

He also violated Rule 13.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:

A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse
public opinion for or against a party.

For despite the pendency of the civil case against him and the issuance of a status quo order
restraining/enjoining further publishing, televising and broadcasting of any matter relative to the
complaint of CDO, respondent continued with his attacks against complainant and its products. At
the same time, respondent violated Canon 1 also of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which
mandates lawyers to "uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
and legal processes.

Canon 8 and Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandate, viz:

CANON 8 - A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his
professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel.

Rule 8.01 – A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive
or otherwise improper, by using intemperate language.
While a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not
justify the use of offensive and abusive language.

Respondent also violated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which directs a lawyer
to "at all times uphold the integrity and the dignity of the legal profession."40
1avvph!1

Atty. Melanio Mauricio is, for violation of the lawyer’s oath and breach of ethics of the legal
profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility, SUSPENDED from the practice
of law for three years.

103. A.C. No. 8252 July 21, 2009

NATIVIDAD UY, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. BRAULIO RG TANSINSIN, Respondent.

Facts:

Complainant was the defendant in an ejectment case filed with the MeTC Caloocan City wherein
respondent was here attorney. A decision was rendered by the MeTC against the complainant.

Complainant, through respondent, elevated the case to the Regional Trial Court (RTC)4 by filing a
Notice of Appeal. However the RTC dismissed the appeal solely because of the failure of
respondent to file a memorandum on appeal likewise the motion for reconsideration was denied for
having been filed out of time.

Realizing that she lost her case because of the negligence of her counsel, complainant initiated the
disbarment case against respondent.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent Atty. Tansinsin failed to perform his duty to his client (complainant)?

Held:

Yes, respondent’s failure to file the required pleadings and to inform his client about the
developments in her case fall below the standard exacted upon lawyers on dedication and
commitment to their client’s cause.

Respondent’s failure to file the required pleadings is per se a violation of Rule 18.03 of the Code of
Professional Resposibility which states:

Rule 18.03-A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
connection therewith shall render him liable.

Aside from failing to file the required pleadings, respondent also lacked candor in dealing with his
client, as he omitted to apprise complainant of the status of her ejectment case. 1av vphi1
It bears stressing that the lawyer-client relationship is one of trust and confidence. Thus, there is a
need for the client to be adequately and fully informed about the developments in his
case. Respondent’s act demonstrates utter disregard of Rule 18.04, Canon 18, Code of Professional
Resposibility, which states:

Rule 18.04–A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within
a reasonable time to the client’s request for information.

105. A.M. No. RTJ-09-2186 July 14, 2009


[Formerly A.M. OCA-IPI No. 03-1893-RTJ]

ATTY. NELSON T. ANTOLIN and ATTY. DIOSDADO E. TRILLANA, Complainants,


vs.
JUDGE ALEX L. QUIROZ, SHERIFF EDWIN V. GARROBO, and SHERIFF MARIO
PANGILINAN, Respondents.

Facts:

These two administrative complaints, stemmed from the issuance, in Civil Case a Writ of Execution,
and its implementation.

Upon Judge Quiroz return to office from his sick leave he called on the members of his staff for their
monthly meeting. Judge Quiroz berated and lambasted Garrobo for serving the writ on PSPI, hence,
his filing of the administrative complaint against the judge for gross misconduct.

Judge Quiroz, using all his filthy words he can come up with insulted and threatened Garrobo who is
the sheriff because of alleged failure on executing the writ of execution.

Also Judge Quiroz, stated that Garrobo accepted money from Mr. Litonjua, as expected, thus
implementation of the Writ was prejudiced for he failed to exercise the proper protocol/conduct to
implement the same resulting to an administrative case filed by lawyer of PSPI against Garrobo and
his two sheriffs and also included Judge Quiroz.

Issue:

Whether or not Judge Quiroz is guilty of gross misconduct?

Held:

No, he is not.

Sheriff Garrobo, aside from his bare allegations that he was berated by Judge Quiroz in the
presence of his officemates, presented no evidence to support his assertions. Also the Court
personnel of RTC Branch 156, Pasig City, unanimously belied the allegations of Sheriff Garrobo.
Clearly, the said complaint has no leg to stand on.

Although administrative proceedings are not bound by technical rules of procedure in adjudication of
cases, it does not do away with compliance with basic rules in proving allegations. The fundamental
requirement of due process requires that if sanction must be meted out, the quantum of proof
required in administrative cases should be met. In the present case, absent substantial evidence to
support them, the complaint and the counter-charge are reduced to bare accusations and mere
conjectures. They must necessarily be dismissed.

106-107

A.M. No. RTJ-08-2124 August 27, 2009


[Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2631-RTJ]

JUDGE RIZALINA T. CAPCO-UMALI, RTC, Br. 212, Mandaluyong City, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE PAULITA B. ACOSTA-VILLARANTE, RTC, Br. 211, Mandaluyong City, Respondent.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

A.M. No. RTJ-08-2125


[Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2632-RTJ]

JUDGE PAULITA B. ACOSTA-VILLARANTE, RTC, Br. 211, Mandaluyong City, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE RIZALINA T. CAPCO-UMALI, RTC, Br. 212, Mandaluyong City, Respondent.

Facts:

This two consolidated complaints arose on what happened during the judges meeting on March 27,
2007.

First, the Executive and Vice Executive Judge Villarante of RTC Mandaluyong and other court
personnel went to Mayor Neptali Gonzales for a courtesy call/visit to discuss increase in allowance
of Judges.

Then, on March 27, 2007 Monthly Judges Meeting when the matter of giving to the new executive
judge the increased allowances a commotion incurred where Judge Villarante repeatedly called
Judge Umali (complainant) a liar in the presence of fellow Judges and other employees of RTC.

As a result of the provocation, Judge Umali continuously uttered the remarks "matanda ka na, halos
malapit ka na sa kamatayan gumagawa ka pa ng ganyan, madadamay pa kami" to Judge Acosta-
Villarante and also attempting to inflict harm to Judge Villarante.

After said incident, Judge Villarante wrote a Memorandum of March 27, 2007 incident addressed to
fellow Judges of Mandaluyong and copies furnished to the Offices of the Chief Justice and the
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, the Mayor of Mandaluyong, the Judicial and Bar Council
which describes what tragic happened on that date.

Both Judges in their Comment before the OCA admitted said actuations they’ve done.
Issue:

Whether or not the both Judges are liable?

Held:

Yes both Judges are administratively liable.

Courts are looked upon by the people with high respect. Misbehavior by judges and employees
necessarily diminishes their dignity. Any fighting or misunderstanding is a disgraceful occurrence
reflecting adversely on the good image of the Judiciary. By fighting within the court premises,
respondent judges failed to observe the proper decorum expected of members of the Judiciary.
More detestable is the fact that their squabble arose out of a mere allowance coming from the local
government.

However, both Judges acts does not constitute gross misconduct and should be considered only as
a violation of Supreme Court rules, directives and circulars, which is classified as a less serious
charge.

Thus, Judges Rizalina Capco-Umali and Paulita B. Acosta-Villarante GUILTY of violation of Section
1, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, for which they are
each FINED in the amount of Eleven Thousand (₱11,000) Pesos.

108. A.M. No. RTJ-07-2031 August 4, 2009


(Formerly OCA IPI No. 06-2484-RTJ)

ADELPHA E. MALABED, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE ENRIQUE C. ASIS, Regional Trial Court, Branch 16, Naval, Biliran, Respondent.

Facts:

Complainant filed a civil case for ejectment and damages with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court
against spouses Cericos. Both MCTC and Regional Trial Court (RTC), of Naval, Biliran, where
respondent Judge presided rendered judgment in favor of complainant (therein plaintiff). However
respondent Judge granted the petition for relief filed by Spouses Cericos and denied the motion for
writ of demolition. Complainant appealed to the CA which reversed the decision of respondent judge.
As a result, complainant filed a complaint with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), charging
respondent with violation of Rule 1.02, Canon I of the Code of Judicial Conduct for exhibiting bias
and partiality with regard to its Civil Case because defendants new counsel, Atty. De la Peña,
represented respondent Judge in administrative complaints filed against the latter.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent judge is guilty of bias and partiality when it granted the petition for relief
filed by Spouses Cericos?

Held:
No, he is not.

The charge of bias and partiality must fail. Aside from the complainant’s allegation of bias and
partiality because the Sps. Cericos are represented by Atty. Meljohn Dela Peña, she failed to
substantiate her claims. The reversal of a judge’s order by a superior court in a certiorari case is, in
itself, not a ground for an administrative action against the judge. The fact that a judge’s order is set
aside on certiorari does not connote that he was biased or partial in favor of the party who was
benefited by the order. For who is the judge who can proudly say that he was never reversed on
certiorari? Only judicial errors tainted with fraud, dishonesty, gross ignorance, bad faith or deliberate
intent to do an injustice will be administratively sanctioned.

Rule 1.02, Canon I of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that a judge should administer justice
impartially and without delay. Partiality, or bias, has been defined as a predisposition to decide a
cause or an issue in a certain way, which does not leave the mind perfectly open to conviction.
However, mere suspicion that respondent Judge is partial is not enough. Clear and convincing
evidence to prove the charge is required. The burden to prove that respondent Judge committed the
acts complained of rests on the complainant.

In this case, we cannot say that the respondent’s errors were so gross and patent as to amount to
evidence of bias or evasion of judicial duty.

However, respondent judge is guilty of constituted gross ignorance of the law when it granted a
Petition for Relief from Judgment which was filed out of time.

109. A.C. No. 7297 September 29, 2009

IMELDA BIDES-ULASO, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. EDITA NOE-LACSAMANA, Respondent.

Facts:

Bides amended the complaint on June 23, 2003 to demand the declaration of nullity of the
deed of sale pertaining to the parcel of land situated in San Juan, Metro Manila of which
Bides was the registered owner.

The said amended complaint contained a so-called amended verification and affidavit of non-
forum shopping on which was a signature preceded by the word "for" above the printed
name "IRENE BIDES." The signature bore a positive resemblance to the respondent’s
signature as the notary on the jurat of the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum
shopping. Thus, respondent notarized the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum
shopping even in the absence of Bides.

Issue:

Whether or not the notarization of the jurat of the amended verification and affidavit of non-
forum shopping even before the plaintiff-client has affixed her own signature amounts to
censurable conduct on the part of the notary-counsel?

Held:
Yes, respondent’s notarizing the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping in
the absence of Bides as the affiant constituted a clear breach of the notarial protocol and was
highly censurable.

First, the agreement between Bides and Ulaso stipulating the withdrawal of the disbarment
case against the respondent did not terminate or abate the jurisdiction of the IBP and of this
Court to continue the present administrative proceeding against the respondent as a member
of the Philippine Bar. A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest
or lack of interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts
borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been duly
proven. Neither the lapse of time from the occurrence of the cause nor the motivation for the
filing of the complaint diminished the Court’s inherent power to discipline a member of the
Bar whenever appropriate.

Being a lawyer commissioned as a notary, the respondent was mandated to discharge with
fidelity the sacred duties appertaining to her notarial office. Such duties being dictated by
public policy and impressed with public interest, she could not disregard the requirements
and solemnities of the Notarial Law.27 It was emphatically her primary duty as a lawyer-notary
to obey the laws of the land and to promote respect for the law and legal processes.

110. A.C. No. 7910 September 18, 2009

WEN MING W CHEN, a.k.a. DOMINGO TAN, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. F.D. NICOLAS B. PICHAY, Respondent.

A complaint was filed by Wen Ming W Chen, also known as Domingo Tan, before the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP) against Atty. F.D. Nicolas B. Pichay for (1) violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility when he allegedly extorted money from the complainant; (2) gross
misconduct amounting to gross inexcusable ignorance of the law when he filed complaints for
damages before the Department of Justice (DOJ); and (3) violation of Rule 10.3 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility when he filed a motion before the Regional Trial Court seeking the
inclusion of complainant’s name in the hold departure list of the Bureau of Immigration and
Deportation (BID).’

Atty. Pichay was the legal counsel of American Security Systems International (ASSI), an intellectual
property consultancy firm incorporated under Philippine laws engaged in prosecuting violations of
the intellectual property rights of its clients Guccio Gucci S.P.A. (Gucci) and Louis Vuitton (LV).

This case stemmed from the search and seizure of the NBI of thousands of counterfeit Gucci and LV
items from complainant’s residence.

Investigating Commissioner of the IBP recommended that respondent be suspended for a period of
four months "from the practice of law and as a member of the Bar due to ignorance of the law and
his intention to harass complainant; that the application for the hold departure order likewise
exemplifies his ignorance of the law considering that no Information has been filed in Court
Issue:

Whether or not respondent was guilty of gross ignorance of the law?

Held:

No, he is not.

Even assuming that the cases filed were civil actions for damages, the same does not merit
respondent’s disbarment or suspension. There is nothing on record to show that the filing of the
cases was done for the purpose of harassment. The conclusion that the filing of the DOJ complaints
was to harass complainant has no basis. If at all, it was an error of judgment sans bad faith. It has
been held that not all mistakes of members of the Bar justify the imposition of disciplinary actions. An
attorney-at-law is not expected to know all the law. For an honest mistake or error, an attorney is not
liable.2 The alleged errors are not of such nature which would warrant the imposition of the penalty of
suspension for one year.

112. A.C. No. 7435 September 10, 2009

REY C. SARMIENTO, ANGELITO C. SARMIENTO, WILLY C. SARMIENTO and RAQUEL C.


SARMIENTO-CO,Complainants,
vs.
ATTY. EDELSON G. OLIVA, Respondent.

Facts:

Complainants alleged that they received, as payment for the purchase of a ₱13 million Makati
City property,4 five postdated checks from respondent.5 When presented the two checks were
dishonored due to "closed account”.

Respondent requested complainants to reduce his obligation to ₱11 million. Complainants


agreed. Thus, he gave partial down payment of ₱200,0007 and issued four postdated Premier
Bank checks.8 Upon presentment, the first check was dishonored again due to "closed
account."9 Complainants again demanded payment from respondent but the demand was
ignored. Hence, this complaint, which was originally filed with the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP).

Issue:

Whether or not respondent can be suspended or disbarred by said act?

Held:

Respondent was already disbarred in Libit v. Attys. Edelson G. Oliva and Umali17 for grave
misconduct.18 Hence, not being a member of the bar, he cannot be suspended from the
practice of law. Complainants obviously had no knowledge of respondent’s disbarment in
1994. Respondent must have represented himself to complainants as a bona fide member of
the bar. Furthermore, he never informed the IBP of his prior disbarment.
Since respondent himself made a positive misrepresentation to complainants that he was still
a lawyer and even submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the IBP, he is estopped from
questioning the jurisdiction of the IBP over him. For this reason we find as proper the
recommendation of the IBP that respondent be required to indemnify the complainants the
amount of ₱11 million.

Moreover, a disbarred lawyer, who continues to represent himself as a lawyer with the
authority to practice law commits a contumacious act20 and is liable for indirect contempt.21

29. FREDDIE A. GUILLEN vs ATTY. AUDIE ARNADO

A.C. No. 10547 Nov. 8, 2017

Facts:

instant case is brought about by an administrative complaint


which Freddie Guillen filed against his fonner business partner, Atty. Audie

Arnado, for alleged violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility

Complainant Freddie Guillen is the registered owner of the City Grill


Restaurant. Respondent Atty. Audie Amado and a certain
Cedric Ebo together with complainant join the restaurant business. Each of them had
contributed P200,000.00 to make up a total capital of P.600,000.00. Complications in
the business operations arose, which later forced Guillen and his wife to step down as
general manager and operations manager.
Because of the disagreements among the parties, Guillen offered that he
would waive his claims for profits, provided that Arnado would return the
ld200,000.00 that he paid as capital. Guillen was surprised to find out that Arnado had
already
caused the incorporation of the restaurant with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC. Guillen
was likewise excluded from the business without the aforementioned refund
of his capital.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent takes advantage of his knowledge to the prejudice of complainant?

Held:

Yes.
Arnado is guilty of taking advantage of his knowledge of the law and of
surreptitiously easing out
Guillen from their restaurant business partnership by registering a
corporation under a different but similar name and style, in the same line of
business, and using the same trade secrets. Arnado, although not reflected
as one of the incorporators of City Grill-Sutukil Food Corporation, has
deceived the public into believing that City Grill Restaurant and City GrillSutukil
Food Corporation are one and the same, clearly violating Rule 1.01
of the CPR, which prohibits a lawyer from engaging in unlawful, dishonest,

immoral, or deceitful conduct.

The Court has repeatedly emphasized that the practice of law is


imbued with public interest and that a lawyer owes substantial duties, not
only to his client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts, and
to the public, and takes part in the administration of justice, one of the most
important functions of the State, as an officer of the court. Accordingly,
lawyers are bound to maintain, not only a high standard of legal proficiency,
but also of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing.4
Here, Arnado has certainly fallen short of the high standard of
morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing required of him. On the
contrary, he employed his knowledge and skill of the law as well as took
advantage of Guillen to secure undue gains for himself and to inflict serious

damage on others.

he did the same to take advantage of the goodwill earned by the

name of City Grill Restaurant

30. CARLINA P. ROBINOL, vs ATTY. EDILBERTO P. BASSIG

A.C. No. 11836

Facts:

complainant Carlina Robifiol (Robifiol)


alleged that respondent rented a house from her in Brgy. Tanong, Marikina
City, for a monthly rental of P8,500.00. Said lease, without any written
contract, was for a period of two years. Atty. Bassig then paid his rents and
stopped making any payment for other months. Atty. Bassig told Robifiol that he will
be receiving
a big amount from his client and that he will thereafter pay the remaining
unpaid rent.3
Believing that Atty. Bassig will remain truthful to his promise,
Robifiol allowed him to stay in the premises. However, when Typhoon
Habagat struck Marikina City, Atty. Bassig left the house because of the
heavy flood. When he left, he neither informed Robifiol of his intended
destination nor satisfied his unsettled obligation. Robifiol then went to the said house
and demanded payment from Atty. Bassig. As a consequence, he executed a

promissory note. However, Atty. Bassig reneged on his obligation

Issue:

Whether or not Atty. Bassig has any liability ?

Held:

In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the


complainant16 and the proper evidentiary threshold is substantial evidence. 17
Here, Robifiol failed to discharge the burden of proof. For one, the
evidence submitted were inadmissible. It must be noted that the receipts
showing payment of Atty. Bassig to Robifiol and the promissory note
executed and signed by Atty. Bassig were photocopies of the original.
A photocopy, being a mere secondary evidence, is not admissible
unless it is shown that the original is unavailable. In this case, nowhere in the record
shows that Robifiol laid down the

predicate for the admission of said photocopies.

However , Atty. Bassig, despite due notice, repeatedly


failed to abide by the orders of the IBP, i.e. filing a verified answer,

appearing in two mandatory conferences and filing of position paper.

For his behavior, Atty. Bassig committed an act in violation of Canon


11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:
Canon 11 · A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to
the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by
others.
His attitude of refusing to obey the orders of the IBP indicates his lack
of respect for the IBP's rules and regulations, but also towards the IBP as an
institution. Remarkably, the IBP is empowered by this Court to conduct
proceedings regarding the discipline of lawyers. In disregarding the orders of the IBP,
he exhibited a conduct which runs contrary to his sworn duty as an officer of
the court.

31. Tumbaga vs Atty. Teoxon


A.C. No. 5573, Nov. 21, 2017

Facts:

Complainant met respondent sometime in September 1999. He was then the City Legal Officer of
Naga City from whom complainant sought legal advice. Thereafter respondent visited her often at
her residence and brought gifts for her son.

Complainant became pregnant. After the birth of their son, Billy John, respondent
spent more time with them.

After Billy John was baptized, complainant secured a Certificate of Live Birth from the Office of the
Civil Registrar of Naga City and gave it to respondent to sign. He hesitantly signed it and
volunteered to facilitate its filing. After respondent failed to file the same, complainant secured
another form and asked respondent to sign it twice. Thus, the Certificate of Live Birth was registered.

Respondent compelled her to resign from her work, assuring her that he would take care of her
financial needs. As respondent failed to fulfill his promise, complainant sought assistance from the
Office of the City Fiscal in Naga City. Respondent gave complainant an affidavit of support and told
her there was no need for him to appear in the conference. Complainant showed the affidavit to
Fiscal Mampo, but the latter
advised her to have the respondent sign the affidavit again.

To corroborate her allegations, complainant attached the following documents to her complaint,
among others: (a) pictures showing respondent lying in a bed holding Billy John, respondent holding
Billy John in a beach setting, complainant holding Billy John in a beach setting,5 respondent holding
Billy . John in a house setting, 6 and respondent and complainant seated beside each other in a
restaurant7; (b) the Certificate of Live Birth of Billy John with an Affidavit of
Acknowledgment/Admission of Paternity showing respondent's signature
; (c) the affidavit of support9 executed by respondent; (d) the promissory note executed by
respondent; (e) the police blotter entry11 dated September 9, 2001; and (f) copies of pleading
showing the signature of respondent.

In his answer, respondent denied that he lived together with complainant at the
Puncia Apartment. As complainant was his kumadre, he would pass by her house whenever he
visited the house of Representative Sulpicio S. Roco, Jr. Respondent was then a member of
Representative Roco's legislative staff. Respondent accused complainant of taking the pictures in
order to use the same to extort money from him.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent Atty. Teoxon is guilty in having an illicit affair with the complainant?

Held:

Yes, respondent committed gross immorality by having an illicit affair with another woman.

The good moral conduct or character must be possessed by lawyers at the time of their application
for admission to the Bar, and must be maintained until retirement from the practice of law.

Accordingly, it is expected that every lawyer, being an officer of the Court, must not only be in fact of
good moral character, but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading lives in
accordance with the highest moral standards of the community. More specifically, a
member of the Bar and officer of the Court is required not only to refrain from adulterous
relationships or keeping mistresses but also to conduct himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by
creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards.

One of the key pieces of evidence that the IBP considered in ruling against respondent is the
Decision of the MTCC of Naga City in Civil Case No. 11546 for replevin.

In said case, [MTCC] is not persuaded by his allegation that he left his bag with [complainant]
because he was in a hurry in going to Manila. He boldly declared in [the trial court] that he has three
residences in Naga City and of all places he had to leave his shirt and underwear with a lady whom
he had visited "only twice".

While the issues in the replevin case and the instant administrative case are indeed different, they
share a common factual backdrop, i.e., the parties' contrasting account of the true nature of their
relationship. Complainant further attached pictures of respondent with her and Billy John as proof of
their romantic relations. A perusal of these pictures convinces this Court that while the same cannot
indeed prove Billy John's paternity, they are nevertheless indicative of a relationship between
complainant ~d respondent that is more than merely platonic.
Unfortunately, respondent failed to prove his defense when the burden of evidence shifted to him.
He could neither provide any concrete corroboration of his denials in this case nor satisfactorily
prove his claim that complainant was merely extorting money from him.

Court finds respondent Atty. Manuel P. Teoxon GUILTY of gross immorality and is hereby
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years

32. ISALOS vs. ATTY. ANA LUZ B. CRISTAL

A.C. No. 11822, November 22, 2017

Facts:
Complainant was the Director and Treasurer of C Five Holdings, Management & Consultancy, Inc.
(C Five), a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines while
respondent was the corporations Secretary and Legal Counsel.

When C Five was exploring investment options, respondent recommended the purchase of a resort
in Laguna and relying on respondent's recommendation, C Five agreed to acquire the property and
completed the payment of the purchase price.

More than a year however, no title was transferred in C Five's name. It was then discovered that the
title covering the property is a Free Patent rendering any sale, assignment, or transfer thereof within
a period of five (5) years from issuance of the title null and void. Thus, formal demand was made
upon respondent to return the P1,200,000.00 entrusted to her.

Respondent claimed that she paid the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) registration, Mayor's
Permit, business licenses, documentation, and other expenses using the money entrusted to her by
complainant. Also respondent pointed out that the criminal case for Estafa filed against her by C Five
had already been dismissed for lack of probable cause. As such, she prayed that the disbarment
case against her be likewise dismissed for lack of merit.

Issue:

Whether or not grounds exist to hold respondent administratively liable.

Held:

Respondent should be held administratively liable in this case.

The practice of law is considered a privilege bestowed by the State on those who possess and
continue to possess the legal qualifications for the profession. As such, lawyers are expected to
maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency, morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing,
and must perform their four-fold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients, in
accordance with the values and norms embodied in the Code.

In this case, it is indubitable that respondent received the amount from complainant to be used to
cover the expenses for the transfer of title of the subject property under C Five's name. As the
subject property was covered by a Free Patent there was no longer any reason for respondent to
retain the money.

Moreover, respondent's assertion that the instant disbarment case should be dismissed, in view of
the return of the full amount to complainant and the latter's withdrawal of the complaint against her is
specious. Such are not ample grounds to completely exonerate the administrative liability of
respondent. It is settled that a case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest
or lack of interest of the complainant, the latter not being a direct party to the case, but a witness
who brought the matter to the attention of the Court.

Atty. Ana Luz B. Cristal is found guilty of violation of Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, she is SUSPENDED from the practice of
law for a period of one (1) year.
34. Fajardo vs Judge Natino

A.M. No. RTJ-16-2479, Dec. 13, 2017

Facts:

Fajardo charged Judge Natino with the violation of the Constitution and the Rules of Court relative to
the latter's dispositions in two civil cases in its court wherein complainant was a party (plaintiff) in
one of said case. He based his complaint on the following gorund:

l. Violation of the 90-day period within which a case is to be resolved, counted from the date it is
submitted for decision, in relation to Civil Case No. 20225 x x x. Fajardo said that the case was
submitted for decision on January 23, 2007, but a decision thereon was only issued on April 21,
2010. In effect, the decision was only rendered more than three years after the case was submitted
for decision.

2. Delay in the release of the Decision. The decision in x x x Civil Case No. 20225 was dated April
21, 2010 but according to Fajardo, the decision was released only four months after, or on August
17, 2010.

3. Falsification of Certificate of Service,

4. failure to resolve the matters covered in the Motion to Show Cause (Contempt),

5. Entertaining a second motion for reconsideration, in relation to Civil Case No. 07-29298.

It is Fajardo's theory that the delay in the resolution and release of the decision in Civil Case No.
20225, and the order giving due course to a second motion for reconsideration were all due to Judge
Natino's maneuver to obtain a part of the amount in said case.

Issue:

Whether or not Judge Natino is guilty of the charges against him.

Held:

Yes, but only to the delay in the resolution of one of the civil case.

The records are bereft of any proof to support the allegation on the intentional delay on the release
of the Civil Case No. 20225, much less the charge of corruption against Judge Natino. Likewise, the
alleged falsification of certificates of service was never proven.

As to the charges on the alleged failure to act upon Panay News, Inc. 's motion, as well as, again,
the imputation of corruption against Judge Natino, the October 18, 2010 Order indeed
comprehensively refuted said charges. On the undue delay in the resolution of Civil Case No. 20225,
however, We agree with the finding of guilt against Judge Natino.

This Court has constantly emphasized that the office of a judge exacts nothing less than faithful
observance of the Constitution and the law in the discharge of official duties. It is undisputed in this
case that Judge Natino failed to decide Civil Case No. 20225 within the 90-day period provided in
the Constitution.
Records show that the said case was filed on January 30, 1992, submitted for decision on January
23, 2007, and decided only in August 2010 or after more than three years from the time it was
submitted for decision. We have previously ruled that the 90-day period within which to decide cases
is mandatory.

We have considered the justifications and explanations on such delay, proffered by Judge Natino,
which, while may be recognized as true and reasonable, are not sufficient to exonerate him from
liability. The Court has allowed reasonable extensions of time needed to decide cases, but such
extensions must first be requested from the Court. Whenever a judge cannot decide a case
promptly, all he has to do is to ask the Court for a reasonable extension of time to resolve it.
Unfortunately Judge Natino did not avail of such remedy. A judge cannot by himself choose to
prolong the period for deciding cases beyond that authorized by law.

35. ROMEO A. ALMARIO vs. ATTY. DOMINICA LLERA-AGNO,

A.C. No. 10689

Facts:

This administrative case stemmed from a Complaint for notarizing a Special Power of Attorney
(SPA) without the personal appearance of one of the affiants therein.

A complaint for Judicial Partition with Delivery of Certificate of Title, civil case was instituted before
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila by the herein complainant against therein defendants
Angelita A. Barrameda and other persons. Relative to the said civil case, herein respondent lawyer,
as counsel for therein defendants, notarized and acknowledged a SPA.

It is complainant's contention

(l) that the said SP A was falsified because one of the affiants therein was in Japan at the time the
SP A was executed, as certified to5 by the Bureau of Immigration (BI);

(2) that this SP A was used in the said civil case to perpetrate fraud and deception

(3) that respondent lawyer notarized the SPA although Mallari did not personally appear before her;

4) that in the process of notarizing the SP A, respondent lawyer also accepted a Community Tax
Certificate CTC

(5) that, therefore, respondent lawyer violated Canons 1 and 10 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility

Issue:

Whether or not respondent lawyer committed an offense in said case?

Held:

Yes, respondent lawyer clearly admits the infraction imputed against her, and simply pleads that the
penalty recommended by the IBP be reduced or lowered.
These provisions mandate the notary public to require the physical or personal presence of the
person/s who executed a document, before notarizing the same. In other words, a document should
not be notarized unless the person/s who is/are executing it is/are personally or physically present
before the notary public. The personal and physical presence of the parties to the deed is necessary
to enable the notary public to verify the genuineness of the signature/s of the affiant/s therein and
the due execution of the document.

Notaries public are absolutely prohibited or forbidden from notarizing a fictitious or spurious
document.

In the present case, the SPA in question was notarized by respondent lawyer despite the absence of
Mallari, one of the affiants therein.

It goes without saying that it was respondent lawyer's bounden duty, as a lawyer and notary public,
to obey the laws of the land and to promote respect for legal processes. Respondent lawyer may
only forsake this duty at the risk of forfeiting her membership in the Philippine Bar and the revocation
of her license as a notary public. Considering however, the circumstances attendant upon this case,
we resolve to reduce or lower the recommended penalty on respondent lawyer.

681. TOMAS P. TAN, JR. vs. ATTY. HAIDE V. GUMBA,


A.C. No. 9000, Jan. 10, 2018

FACTS:

This case is an offshoot of the administrative Complaint1 filed by Tomas P. Tan, Jr.
(complainant) against Atty. Haide V. Gumba (respondent), and for which respondent
was suspended from the practice of law for six months.

On March 14, 2012, the Court resolved to serve anew the October 5, 2011 Resolution·
upon respondent because its previous copy sent to her was returned unserved. In its
August 13, 2012 Resolution, the court considered .the October 5, 2011 Resolution to
have been served upon respondent after the March 14, 2012 Resolution was also
returned unserved. In the same resolution, the Court also denied with finality
respondent's motion for reconsideration on the October 5, 2011 Resolution.

Subsequently, Judge Margaret N. Armea (Judge Armea) of the Municipal Trial Court in
Cities of Naga City, Branch 2 wrote1 a letter inquiring from the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA) whether respondent could continue representing her clients and
appear in courts because respondent represented a party in a case pending in her
court; and, the counsel of the opposing party called Judge Arrr1ea's attention regarding
the legal standing of respondent to appear as counsel.

RESPONDENT e insisted that service of any pleading or judgment cannot be made


through the inte1net. She further claimed that she had not received an authentic copy of
the Court's. October 5, 2011 resolution.
Issue:

Is respondent administratively liable for engaging in the practice of law during the period
of her suspension and prior to an order of the Court lifting such suspension?

Held:

Time and again, the Court reminds the bench and bar "that the practice of law is not a
right but a mere privilege [subject] to the inherent regulatory power of the [Couit], It is a
"privilege burdened with conditions. As such, lawyers must comply with its 1igid
standards, which include mental fitness, maintenance of highest level of morality, and
foll compliance with the rules of the legal process.

While, indeed, service of a judgment or resolution must be done only personally or by


registered mail, and that mere showing of a downloaded copy of the October 5, 2011
Resolution to respondent is not a valid service, the fact, however, that respondent was
duly informed of her suspension remains unrebutted. Again, as stated above, she filed a
motion for reconsideration on the October 5, 2011 Resolution, and the Court duly
notified her of the denial of said motion. It thus follows that respondent's six months
suspension commenced from the notice of the denial of her motion for reconsideration
on November 12, 2012 until May 12, 2013.

Similarly, in this case, the Court notified respondent of her suspension. However, she
continued to engage in the practice law by filing pleadings and appearing as counsel in
courts during the period of her suspension.

As also stressed by the OBC in its March 24, 2015 Report, during and even after the
period of her suspension and without filing a sworn statement for the lifting of her
suspension, respondent signed pleadings and appeared in courts as counsel. Clearly,
such acts of respondent are in violation of the order of her suspension to practice Jaw.

Moreover, the lifting of a suspension order is not automatic. It is necessary that there is
an order from the Court lifting the suspension of a lawyer to practice law upon filing a
sworn written statement with the Court and that such statement shall be the proof of the
lawyer's compliance with the order of suspension.