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Adm. Case No. 2984 August 31, 2007 the practice of law.

the practice of law. Let a copy of this Decision be spread in his record in the Bar Confidant’s
Office, and notice thereof furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as well as the Court
Administrator who is DIRECTED to inform all the Courts concerned of this Decision.
RODOLFO M. BERNARDO, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. ISMAEL F. MEJIA, Respondent. SO ORDERED.

RESOLUTION On June 1, 1999, Mejia filed a Petition praying that he be allowed to reengage in the practice of
law. On July 6, 1999, the Supreme Court En Banc issued a Resolution denying the petition for
reinstatement.
NACHURA, J.:

On January 23, 2007, Mejia filed the present petition for review of Administrative Case No. 2984
Before the Court is a petition for review of Administrative Case No. 2984 with plea for
with a plea for reinstatement in the practice of law. No comment or opposition was filed against
reinstatement in the practice of law filed by Ismael F. Mejia (Mejia) who is already seventy-one
the petition.2
years old and barred from the practice of law for fifteen years.

Whether the applicant shall be reinstated in the Roll of Attorneys rests to a great extent on the
The antecedent facts that led to Mejia’s disbarment are as follows.
sound discretion of the Court. The action will depend on whether or not the Court decides that
the public interest in the orderly and impartial administration of justice will continue to be
On January 23, 1987, Rodolfo M. Bernardo, Jr. accused his retained attorney, Ismael F. Mejia, preserved even with the applicant’s reentry as a counselor at law. The applicant must, like a
of the following administrative offenses: candidate for admission to the bar, satisfy the Court that he is a person of good moral character,
a fit and proper person to practice law. The Court will take into consideration the applicant’s
character and standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and character of the charge/s for
1) misappropriating and converting to his personal use: which he was disbarred, his conduct subsequent to the disbarment, and the time that has
elapsed between the disbarment and the application for reinstatement. 3
a) part of the sum of ₱27,710.00 entrusted to him for payment of real estate
taxes on property belonging to Bernardo, situated in a subdivision known as In the petition, Mejia acknowledged his indiscretions in the law profession.1avvphi1 Fifteen years
Valle Verde I; and
had already elapsed since Mejia’s name was dropped from the Roll of Attorneys. At the age of
seventy-one, he is begging for forgiveness and pleading for reinstatement. According to him, he
b) part of another sum of ₱40,000.00 entrusted to him for payment of taxes has long repented and he has suffered enough. Through his reinstatement, he wants to leave a
and expenses in connection with the registration of title of Bernardo to legacy to his children and redeem the indignity that they have suffered due to his disbarment.
another property in a subdivision known as Valle Verde V;
After his disbarment, he put up the Mejia Law Journal, a publication containing his religious and
2) falsification of certain documents, to wit: social writings. He also organized a religious organization and named it "El Cristo Movement
and Crusade on Miracle of Heart and Mind."
a) a special power of attorney dated March 16, 1985, purportedly executed
in his favor by Bernardo (Annex P, par. 51, complainant’s affidavit dates The Court is inclined to grant the present petition. Fifteen years has passed since Mejia was
October 4, 1989); punished with the severe penalty of disbarment. Although the Court does not lightly take the
bases for Mejia’s disbarment, it also cannot close its eyes to the fact that Mejia is already of
advanced years. While the age of the petitioner and the length of time during which he has
b) a deed of sale dated October 22, 1982 (Annex O, par. 48, id.); and endured the ignominy of disbarment are not the sole measure in allowing a petition for
reinstatement, the Court takes cognizance of the rehabilitation of Mejia. Since his disbarment in
c) a deed of assignment purportedly executed by the spouses Tomas and 1992, no other transgression has been attributed to him, and he has shown remorse. Obviously,
Remedios Pastor, in Bernardo’s favor (Annex Q, par. 52, id.); he has learned his lesson from this experience, and his punishment has lasted long enough.
Thus, while the Court is ever mindful of its duty to discipline its erring officers, it also knows how
to show compassion when the penalty imposed has already served its purpose. After all,
3) issuing a check, knowing that he was without funds in the bank, in payment of a penalties, such as disbarment, are imposed not to punish but to correct offenders.
loan obtained from Bernardo in the amount of ₱50,000.00, and thereafter, replacing
said check with others known also to be insufficiently funded. 1
We reiterate, however, and remind petitioner that the practice of law is a privilege burdened with
conditions. Adherence to the rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest
On July 29, 1992, the Supreme Court En Banc rendered a Decision Per Curiam, the dispositive degree of morality and faithful compliance with the rules of the legal profession are the
portion of which reads: continuing requirements for enjoying the privilege to practice law.4

WHEREFORE, the Court DECLARES the [sic] respondent, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia, guilty of all the WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for reinstatement in the Roll of Attorneys by
charges against him and hereby imposes on him the penalty of DISBARMENT. Pending finality Ismael F. Mejia is hereby GRANTED.
of this judgment, and effective immediately, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia is hereby SUSPENDED from
SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 7054 December 4, 2009 Additionally, the complaint accused the respondent of representing fifty-two (52) litigants in Civil
Case No. Q-03-48762 when no such authority was ever given to him.
CONRADO QUE, Complainant,
vs. The CBD required the respondent to answer the complaint.
ATTY. ANASTACIO REVILLA, JR. Respondent.
In his Answer,5 the respondent declared that he is a member of the Kalayaan Development
DECISION Cooperative (KDC) that handles pro bono cases for the underprivileged, the less fortunate, the
homeless and those in the marginalized sector in Metro Manila. He agreed to take over the
cases formerly handled by other KDC members. One of these cases was the unlawful detainer
PER CURIAM:
case handled by the late Atty. Catolico where the complainant and his siblings were the plaintiffs
and the respondent’s present clients were the defendants.
In a complaint for disbarment,1 Conrado Que (complainant) accused Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr.
(respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Committee on Bar Discipline (IBP
With respect to paragraph 1 of the disbarment complaint, the respondent professed his sincerity,
Committee on Bar Discipline or CBD) of committing the following violations of the provisions of
honesty and good faith in filing the petitions complained of; he filed these petitions to protect the
the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138 of the Rules of Court:
interests of his clients in their property. The respondent asserted that these petitions were all
based on valid grounds – the lack of jurisdiction of the MeTC and the RTC over the underlying
(1) The respondent’s abuse of court remedies and processes by filing a petition for unlawful detainer case, the extrinsic fraud committed by the late Atty. Catolico, and the extrinsic
certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA), two petitions for annulment of title before fraud committed by the complainant and his family against his clients; he discovered that the
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), a petition for annulment of judgment before the RTC allegedly detained property did not really belong to the complainant and his family but is a forest
and lastly, a petition for declaratory relief before the RTC (collectively, subject cases) land. The respondent also asserted that his resort to a petition for annulment of judgment and a
to assail and overturn the final judgments of the Metropolitan Trial Court2 (MeTC) and petition for declaratory relief to contest the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC were all parts
RTC3 in the unlawful detainer case rendered against the respondent’s clients. The of his legal strategy to protect the interests of his clients.
respondent in this regard, repeatedly raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction by the
MeTC and RTC knowing fully-well that these courts have jurisdiction over the unlawful
On the allegations of falsehood in the motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal of the
detainer case. The respondent also repeatedly attacked the complainant’s and his
petition for annulment of judgment (covered by paragraph 3 of the disbarment complaint), the
siblings’ titles over the property subject of the unlawful detainer case;
respondent maintained that his allegations were based on his observations and the notes he
had taken during the proceedings on what the presiding judge dictated in open court.
(2) The respondent’s commission of forum-shopping by filing the subject cases in
order to impede, obstruct, and frustrate the efficient administration of justice for his
The respondent denied that he had made any unauthorized appearance in court (with respect to
own personal gain and to defeat the right of the complainant and his siblings to
paragraphs 5 and 6 of the disbarment complaint). He claimed that the 52 litigants in Civil Case
execute the MeTC and RTC judgments in the unlawful detainer case;
No. Q-03-48762 were impleaded by inadvertence; he immediately rectified his error by dropping
them from the case. On the petition for annulment of judgment, the respondent claimed that a
(3) The respondent’s lack of candor and respect towards his adversary and the courts majority (31 out of 49) of the litigants who signed the certification constituted sufficient
by resorting to falsehood and deception to misguide, obstruct and impede the due compliance with the rules on forum-shopping. The respondent likewise denied having
administration of justice. The respondent asserted falsehood in the motion for represented the Republic of the Philippines in the second petition for annulment of title. The
reconsideration of the dismissal of the petition for annulment of judgment by respondent pointed out that there was no allegation whatsoever that he was the sole
fabricating an imaginary order issued by the presiding judge in open court which representative of both the complainants (his clients) and the Republic of the Philippines. The
allegedly denied the motion to dismiss filed by the respondents in the said case. The respondent pointed out that the petition embodied a request to the Office of the Solicitor General
complainant alleged that the respondent did this to cover up his lack of preparation; to represent his clients in the case.6
the respondent also deceived his clients (who were all squatters) in supporting the
above falsehood.4
The respondent submitted that he did not commit any illegal, unlawful, unjust, wrongful or
immoral acts towards the complainant and his siblings. He stressed that he acted in good faith in
(4) The respondent’s willful and revolting falsehood that unjustly maligned and his dealings with them and his conduct was consistent with his sworn duty as a lawyer to uphold
defamed the good name and reputation of the late Atty. Alfredo Catolico (Atty. justice and the law and to defend the interests of his clients. The respondent additionally claimed
Catolico), the previous counsel of the respondent’s clients. that the disbarment case was filed because the complainant’s counsel, Atty. Cesar P. Uy (Atty.
Uy), had an axe to grind against him.
(5) The respondent’s deliberate, fraudulent and unauthorized appearances in court in
the petition for annulment of judgment for 15 litigants, three of whom are already Lastly, the respondent posited in his pleadings7 before the IBP that the present complaint
deceased; violated the rule on forum shopping considering that the subject cases were also the ones on
which a complaint was filed against him in CBD Case No. 03-1099 filed by Atty. Uy before the
IBP Committee on Bar Discipline. The respondent also posited that the present complaint was
(6) The respondent’s willful and fraudulent appearance in the second petition for
filed to harass, ridicule and defame his good name and reputation and, indirectly, to harass his
annulment of title as counsel for the Republic of the Philippines without being clients who are marginalized members of the KDC.
authorized to do so.
The Findings of the Investigating Commissioner The Court’s Ruling

Except for the last charge of unauthorized appearance on behalf of 52 litigants in Civil Case No. Except for the penalty, we agree with the Report and Recommendation of Investigating
Q-03-48762, Investigating Commissioner Renato G. Cunanan8 (Investigating Commissioner Commissioner Cunanan and the Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline.
Cunanan) found all the charges against the respondent meritorious. In his Report and
Recommendation, he stated:
We take judicial notice that this disbarment complaint is not the only one so far filed involving the
respondent; another complaint invoking similar grounds has previously been filed. In Plus
While an attorney admittedly has the solemn duty to defend and protect the cause and rights of Builders, Inc. and Edgardo C. Garcia v. Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr., 15 we suspended the
his client with all the fervor and energy within his command, yet, it is equally true that it is the respondent from the practice of law for his willful and intentional falsehood before the court; for
primary duty of the lawyer to defend the dignity, authority and majesty of the law and the courts misuse of court procedures and processes to delay the execution of a judgment; and for
which enforce it. A lawyer is not at liberty to maintain and defend the cause of his clients thru collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal practice of law. We initially imposed a suspension of
means, inconsistent with truth and honor. He may not and must not encourage multiplicity of two (2) years, but in an act of leniency subsequently reduced the suspension to six (6) months. 16
suits or brazenly engage in forum-shopping.9
Abuse of court procedures and processes
On the first charge on abuse of court processes, Investigating Commissioner Cunanan noted the
unnecessary use by the respondent of legal remedies to forestall the execution of the final
The following undisputed facts fully support the conclusion that the respondent is guilty of
decisions of the MTC and the RTC in the unlawful detainer case against his clients. 10
serious misconduct for abusing court procedures and processes to shield his clients from the
execution of the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC in the unlawful detainer case against
On the second charge, the Investigating Commissioner ruled that the act of the respondent in these clients:
filing two petitions for annulment of title, a petition for annulment of judgment and later on a
petition for declaratory relief were all done to prevent the execution of the final judgment in the
First, the respondent filed a petition for certiorari (docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 53892) with
unlawful detainer case and constituted prohibited forum-shopping.11
prayer for the issuance of preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to question the
final judgments of the MeTC and RTC for lack of jurisdiction. In dismissing the respondent’s
On the third and fourth charges, Investigating Commissioner Cunanan found ample evidence petition, the CA held:
showing that the respondent was dishonest in dealing with the court as shown in his petition for
annulment of judgment; he resorted to falsities and attributed acts to Atty. Catolico and to the
Even for the sake of argument considering that the petition case be the proper remedy, still it
presiding judge, all of which were untrue. 12
must be rejected for failure of petitioners to satisfactorily demonstrate lack of jurisdiction on the
part of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City over the ejectment case. 17
On the fifth and sixth charges, the Investigating Commissioner disregarded the respondent’s
explanation that he had no intention to represent without authority 15 of the litigants (three of
Second, notwithstanding the CA’s dismissal of the petition for certiorari, the respondent again
whom were already deceased) in the petition for annulment of judgment (Civil Case No. Q-01-
questioned the MeTC’s and the RTC’s lack of jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer case in a
45556). To the Investigating Commissioner, the respondent merely glossed over the
petition for annulment of judgment (docketed as Civil Case No. Q-01-45556) before the RTC
representation issue by claiming that the authority given by a majority of the litigants complied
with an ancillary prayer for the grant of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.
with the certification of non-forum shopping requirement. The Investigating Commissioner
The RTC dismissed this petition on the basis of the motion to dismiss filed. 18
likewise brushed aside the respondent’s argument regarding his misrepresentation in the second
complaint for annulment of title since he knew very well that only the Solicitor General can
institute an action for reversion on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. Despite this Third, the respondent successively filed two petitions (docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-38780
knowledge, the respondent solely signed the amended complaint for and on behalf of his clients and Civil Case No. Q-02-46885) for annulment of the complainant’s title to the property involved
and of the Republic. in the unlawful detainer case. The records show that these petitions were both dismissed "for
lack of legal personality on the part of the plaintiffs" to file the petition.19
The Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline, through its Resolution No.
XVII-2005-164 on CBD Case No. 03-1100, adopted and approved the Report and Fourth, after the dismissals of the petition for annulment of judgment and the petitions for
Recommendation of Investigating Commissioner Cunanan and recommended that the annulment of title, the respondent this time filed a petition for declaratory relief with prayer for a
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years.13 On reconsideration, the writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the complainant and his siblings from exercising their
Board of Governors reduced the respondent’s suspension from the practice of law to one (1) rights over the same property subject of the unlawful detainer case. The respondent based the
year.14 petition on the alleged nullity of the complainant’s title because the property is a part of forest
land.
The Issue
Fifth, the persistent applications by the respondent for injunctive relief in the four petitions he had
filed in several courts – the petition for certiorari, the petition for annulment of judgment, the
The case poses to us the core issues of whether the respondent can be held liable for the
second petition for annulment of complainant’s title and the petition for declaratory relief – reveal
imputed unethical infractions and professional misconduct, and the penalty these transgressions
the respondent’s persistence in preventing and avoiding the execution of the final decisions of
should carry.
the MeTC and RTC against his clients in the unlawful detainer case.
Under the circumstances, the respondent’s repeated attempts go beyond the legitimate means Republic of the Philippines. This second petition, filed by a private party and not by the Republic,
allowed by professional ethical rules in defending the interests of his client. These are already showed that: (a) the respondent and his clients requested that they be represented by the
uncalled for measures to avoid the enforcement of final judgments of the MeTC and RTC. In Solicitor General in the proceedings; (b) the Republic of the Philippines was simply impleaded in
these attempts, the respondent violated Rule 10.03, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional the amended petition without its consent as a plaintiff; and (c) the respondent signed the
Responsibility which makes it obligatory for a lawyer to "observe the rules of procedure and. . . amended petition where he alone stood as counsel for the "plaintiffs." In this underhanded
not [to] misuse them to defeat the ends of justice." By his actions, the respondent used manner, the respondent sought to compel the Republic to litigate and waste its resources on an
procedural rules to thwart and obstruct the speedy and efficient administration of justice, unauthorized and unwanted suit.
resulting in prejudice to the winning parties in that case.20
Third, the respondent also committed falsehood in his motion for reconsideration of the order
Filing of multiple actions and forum shopping dismissing his petition for annulment of judgment where he misrepresented to the court and his
clients what actually transpired in the hearing of June 28, 2002 in this wise:
The respondent likewise violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility,21 as well as the rule against forum shopping, both of which are Likewise, the proceedings on said date of hearing (June 28, 2002) show, that after both counsel
directed against the filing of multiple actions to attain the same objective. Both violations have argued on the aforesaid pending incident, the Honorable Presiding Judge, in open court,
constitute abuse of court processes; they tend to degrade the administration of justice; wreak and in the presence and within the hearing distance of all the plaintiffs and their counsel as well
havoc on orderly judicial procedure;22 and add to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets as the counsel of the defendants resolved: TO DENY THE MOTION TO DISMISS FILED AND
of the courts.23 DIRECTED DEFENDANTS COUNSEL TO FILE AN ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT WITHIN
THE REMAINING PERIOD.27[Underscoring and emphasis theirs]
While the filing of a petition for certiorari to question the lower courts’ jurisdiction may be a
procedurally legitimate (but substantively erroneous) move, the respondent’s subsequent The records, however, disclose that the scheduled hearing for June 28, 2002 was actually for
petitions involving the same property and the same parties not only demonstrate his attempts to the respondent’s application for temporary restraining order and was not a hearing on the
secure favorable ruling using different fora, but his obvious objective as well of preventing the adverse party’s motion to dismiss.28 The records also show that RTC-Branch 101 held in
execution of the MeTC and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case against his clients. This abeyance the respondent’s application for injunctive relief pending the resolution of the motion to
intent is most obvious with respect to the petitions for annulment of judgment and declaratory dismiss filed by the adverse party.29 As stated in the order of the Presiding Judge of RTC-Branch
relief, both geared towards preventing the execution of the unlawful detainer decision, long after 101:
this decision had become final.
Browsing over the records of this case specifically the transcripts of stenographic notes as
Willful, intentional and deliberate transcribed by the Stenographer, the same will indicate that the allegations in the Motion for
falsehood before the courts Reconsideration are not true.

The records also reveal that the respondent committed willful, intentional and deliberate … how can this Court make a ruling on the matter even without stating the factual and legal
falsehood in the pleadings he filed with the lower courts. bases as required/mandated by the Rules. Moreover, there are no indications or iota of
irregularity in the preparation by Stenographer of the transcripts, and by the Court interpreter of
the Minutes of the open Court session.[Underscoring theirs]
First, in the petition for annulment of judgment filed before the RTC, Branch 101, Quezon City,
the respondent cited extrinsic fraud as one of the grounds for the annulment sought. The
extrinsic fraud was alleged in the last paragraph of the petition, as follows: The records further disclose that despite knowledge of the falsity of his allegations, the
respondent took advantage of his position and the trust reposed in him by his clients (who are all
squatters) to convince them to support, through their affidavits, his false claims on what allegedly
In here, counsel for the petitioners (defendants therein), deliberately neglected to file the proper
transpired in the June 28, 2002 hearing. 30
remedy then available after receipt of the denial of their Motion for Reconsideration … thus
corruptly sold out the interest of the petitioners (defendants therein) by keeping them away to the
Court and in complete ignorance of the suit by a false pretense of compromise and fraudulent For these acts, we find the respondent liable under Rule 10.01 of Canon 10 the Code of
acts of alleging representing them when in truth and in fact, have connived with the attorney of Professional Responsibility for violating the lawyer’s duty to observe candor and fairness in his
the prevailing party at his defeat to the prejudice of the petitioner (defendants therein) …24 dealings with the court. This provision states:

Yet, in paragraph 35 of the same petition, the respondent alleged that no second motion for CANON 10 – A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT
reconsideration or for new trial, or no other petition with the CA had been filed, as he believed
"that the decisions rendered both by the MeTC and the RTC are null and void." 25 These
Rule 10.01 – A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court, nor
conflicting claims, no doubt, involve a fabrication made for the purpose of supporting the petition
shall he mislead or allow the Court to be mislead by an artifice.
for annulment. Worse, it involved a direct and unsubstantiated attack on the reputation of a law
office colleague, another violation we shall separately discuss below.
Likewise, the respondent violated his duty as an attorney and his oath as a lawyer "never to
mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law."31 The
Second, the respondent employed another obvious subterfuge when he filed his second petition
respondent failed to remember that his duty as an officer of the court makes him an
for annulment of title, which was an unsuccessful attempt to circumvent the rule that only the
indispensable participant in the administration of justice,32 and that he is expected to act
Solicitor General may commence reversion proceedings of public lands26 on behalf of the
candidly, fairly and truthfully in his work.33 His duty as a lawyer obligates him not to conceal the respondent, who has been engaged in the practice of law for more than 30 years and who
truth from the court, or to mislead the court in any manner, no matter how demanding his duties received rigid and strict training as he so proudly declares, from the University of the Philippines
to his clients may be.34In case of conflict, his duties to his client yield to his duty to deal candidly College of Law and in the two law firms with which he was previously associated. 39 As
with the court.35 Investigating Commissioner Cunanan found, the respondent’s explanation of compliance with
the rule on the certification of non-forum shopping glossed over the real charge of appearing in
court without the proper authorization of the parties he allegedly represented.
In defending his clients’ interest, the respondent also failed to observe Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, which reads:
In the second instance, which occurred in the second complaint for annulment of title, the
respondent knew that only the Solicitor General can legally represent the Republic of the
CANON 19 – A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE
Philippines in actions for reversion of land. Nevertheless, he filed an amended petition where he
BOUNDS OF LAW
impleaded the Republic of the Philippines as plaintiff without its authority and consent, as a
surreptitious way of forcing the Republic to litigate. Notably, he signed the amended complaint
Rule 19.01 – A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of on behalf of all the plaintiffs – his clients and the Republic.
his clients x x x
In both instances, the respondent violated Sections 21 and 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court
This Canon obligates a lawyer, in defending his client, to employ only such means as are when he undertook the unauthorized appearances. The settled rule is that a lawyer may not
consistent with truth and honor.36 He should not prosecute patently frivolous and meritless represent a litigant without authority from the latter or from the latter’s representative or, in the
appeals or institute clearly groundless actions.37The recital of what the respondent did to prevent absence thereof, without leave of court.40 The willful unauthorized appearance by a lawyer for a
the execution of the judgment against his clients shows that he actually committed what the party in a given case constitutes contumacious conduct and also warrants disciplinary measures
above rule expressly prohibits. against the erring lawyer for professional misconduct.41

Maligning the name of his fellow lawyers The Respondent’s Defenses

To support the charge of extrinsic fraud in his petition for annulment of judgment, the respondent We find no merit in the respondent’s defenses.
attacked (as quoted above) the name and reputation of the late Atty. Catolico and accused him
of deliberate neglect, corrupt motives and connivance with the counsel for the adverse party.
"Good faith connotes an honest intention to abstain from taking unconscientious advantage of
another. Accordingly, in University of the East v. Jader we said that "[g]ood faith connotes an
We find it significant that the respondent failed to demonstrate how he came upon his accusation honest intention to abstain from taking undue advantage of another, even though the forms and
against Atty. Catolico. The respondent, by his own admission, only participated in the cases technicalities of law, together with the absence of all information or belief of facts, would render
previously assigned to Atty. Catolico after the latter died. At the same time, the respondent’s the transaction unconscientious."42 Bad faith, on the other hand, is a state of mind affirmatively
petition for annulment of judgment also represented that no second motion for reconsideration or operating with furtive design or with some motive of self-interest, ill will or for an ulterior
appeal was filed to contest the MeTC and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case for the purpose.43 As both concepts are states of mind, they may be deduced from the attendant
reason that the respondent believed the said decisions were null and void ab initio. circumstances and, more particularly, from the acts and statements of the person whose state of
mind is the subject of inquiry.
Under these circumstances, we believe that the respondent has been less than fair in his
professional relationship with Atty. Catolico and is thus liable for violating Canon 8 of the Code of In this case, we find that the respondent acted in bad faith in defending the interests of his
Professional Responsibility, which obligates a lawyer to "conduct himself with courtesy, fairness, clients. We draw this conclusion from the misrepresentations and the dubious recourses he
and candor toward his professional colleagues." He was unfair because he imputed wrongdoing made, all obviously geared towards forestalling the execution of the final judgments of the MeTC
to Atty. Catolico without showing any factual basis therefor; he effectively maligned Atty. and RTC. That he took advantage of his legal knowledge and experience and misread the Rules
Catolico, who is now dead and unable to defend himself. immeasurably strengthen the presence of bad faith.

Unauthorized appearances We find neither sincerity nor honest belief on the part of the respondent in pleading the
soundness and merit of the cases that he filed in court to prevent the execution of the MeTC and
RTC decisions, considering his own conduct of presenting conflicting theories in his petitions.
We support Investigating Commissioner Cunanan’s finding that the respondent twice The succession of cases he filed shows a desperation that negates the sincere and honest belief
represented parties without proper authorization: first, in the petition for annulment of judgment;
he claims; these are simply scattershot means to achieve his objective of avoiding the execution
and second, in the second petition for annulment of title. 38 of the unlawful detainer judgment against his clients.

In the first instance, the records show that the respondent filed the petition for annulment of
On the respondent’s allegations regarding his discretion to determine legal strategy, it is not
judgment on behalf of 49 individuals, 31 of whom gave their consent while the other 15 amiss to note that this was the same defense he raised in the first disbarment case.44 As we
individuals did not. We cannot agree with the respondent’s off-hand explanation that he truly explained in Plus Builders, the exercise of a lawyer’s discretion in acting for his client can never
believed that a majority of the litigants who signed the certification of non-forum shopping in the
be at the expense of truth and justice. In the words of this cited case:
petition already gave him the necessary authority to sign for the others. We find it highly
improbable that this kind of lapse could have been committed by a seasoned lawyer like the
While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to his genuine practice of law should be imposed. Neither should we limit ourselves to the originally
interest, and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights, as well as the exertion of recommended penalty of suspension for two (2) years.
his utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within the bounds of the law. He must give a
candid and honest opinion on the merits and probable results of his client’s case with the end in
Given the respondent’s multiple violations, his past record as previously discussed, and the
view of promoting respect for the law and legal processes, and counsel or maintain such actions
nature of these violations which shows the readiness to disregard court rules and to gloss over
or proceedings only as appear to him to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be
concerns for the orderly administration of justice, we believe and so hold that the appropriate
honestly debatable under the law. He must always remind himself of the oath he took upon
action of this Court is to disbar the respondent to keep him away from the law profession and
admission to the Bar that he ‘will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or
from any significant role in the administration of justice which he has disgraced. He is a
unlawful suit nor give aid nor consent to the same’; and that he ‘will conduct [himself] as a lawyer
continuing risk, too, to the public that the legal profession serves. Not even his ardor and
according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts
overzealousness in defending the interests of his client can save him. Such traits at the expense
as to [his] clients.’ Needless to state, the lawyer’s fidelity to his client must not be pursued at the
of everything else, particularly the integrity of the profession and the orderly administration of
expense of truth and the administration of justice, and it must be done within the bounds of
justice, this Court cannot accept nor tolerate.
reason and common sense. A lawyer’s responsibility to protect and advance the interests of his
client does not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives and malicious intentions
against the other party.45 Additionally, disbarment is merited because this is not the respondent’s first ethical infraction of
the same nature. We penalized him in Plus Builders, Inc. and Edgardo Garcia versus Atty.
Anastacio E. Revilla for his willful and intentional falsehood before the court; for misuse of court
We cannot give credence to the respondent’s claim that the disbarment case was filed because
procedures and processes to delay the execution of a judgment; and for collaborating with non-
the counsel of the complainant, Atty. Uy, had an axe to grind against him. We reject this
lawyers in the illegal practice of law. We showed leniency then by reducing his penalty to
argument, considering that it was not Atty. Uy who filed the present disbarment case against
suspension for six (6) months. We cannot similarly treat the respondent this time; it is clear that
him; Atty. Uy is only the counsel in this case. In fact, Atty. Uy has filed his own separate
he did not learn any lesson from his past experience and since then has exhibited traits of
disbarment case against the respondent.
incorrigibility. It is time to put a finis to the respondent’s professional legal career for the sake of
the public, the profession and the interest of justice.
The sui generis nature of a disbarment case renders the underlying motives of the complainants
unimportant and with very little relevance. The purpose of a disbarment proceeding is mainly to
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby AFFIRM Resolution No. XVII-2005-164 dated
determine the fitness of a lawyer to continue acting as an officer of the court and a participant in
December 17, 2005 and Resolution No. XVII-2008-657 dated December 11, 2008 of the Board
the dispensation of justice – an issue where the complainant’s personal motives have little
of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline insofar as respondent Atty. Anastacio
relevance. For this reason, disbarment proceedings may be initiated by the Court motu proprio
Revilla, Jr. is found liable for professional misconduct for violations of the Lawyer’s Oath; Canon
upon information of an alleged wrongdoing. As we also explained in the case In re: Almacen:
8; Rules 10.01 and 10.03, Canon 10; Rules 12.02 and 12.04, Canon 12; Rule 19.01, Canon 19
of the Code of Professional Responsibility; and Sections 20(d), 21 and 27 of Rule 138 of the
. . .disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely Rules of Court. However, we modify the penalty the IBP imposed, and hold that the respondent
criminal, this proceeding is not - and does not involve - a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather should be DISBARRED from the practice of law.
an investigation by the Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict
punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution.
SO ORDERED.

xxx

It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its primary objective, and the real
question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the
privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon
a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of-the Court with the end in view
of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of
justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved themselves
no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an
attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a
prosecutor.461avvphi1

Hence, we give little or no weight to the alleged personal motivation that drove the complainant
Que and his counsel to file the present disbarment case.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the respondent committed various acts of professional
misconduct and thereby failed to live up to the exacting ethical standards imposed on members
of the Bar. We cannot agree, however, that only a penalty of one-year suspension from the
THIRD DIVISION Deogracias del Rosario the custody of private respondent Javellana with the obligation "to hold
and detain" him in Atty. del Rosarios residence in his official capacity as the clerk of court of the
regional trial court. Hence, when Atty. del Rosario was appointed judge, he ceased to be the
[G.R. Nos. 89591-96. January 24, 2000]
personal custodian of accused Javellana and the succeeding clerk of court must be deemed the
custodian under the same undertaking.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. HON. BONIFACIO SANZ MACEDA,
Presiding Judge of Branch 12, Regional Trial Court of Antique, and AVELINO T.
In our mind, the perceived threats to private respondent Javelanas life no longer exist. Thus, the
JAVELLANA, respondents. ULANDU
trial courts order dated August 8, 1989 giving custody over him to the clerk of court must be
recalled, and he shall be detained at the Provincial Jail of Antique at San Jose, Antique.
RESOLUTION
Regarding his continued practice of law, as a detention prisoner private respondent Javellana is
PARDO, J.: not allowed to practice his profession as a necessary consequence of his status as a detention
prisoner. The trial courts order was clear that private respondent "is not to be allowed liberty to
roam around but is to be held as a detention prisoner." The prohibition to practice law referred
On September 8, 1999, we denied the Peoples motion seeking reconsideration of our August not only to Criminal Case No. 4262, but to all other cases as well, except in cases where private
13, 1990 decision in these cases. In said resolution, we held that respondent Judge Bonifacio respondent would appear in court to defend himself. Spped
Sanz Maceda committed no grave abuse of discretion in issuing the order of August 8, 1989
giving custody over private respondent Avelino T. Javellana to the Clerk of Court of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 12, San Jose, Antique, Atty. Deogracias del Rosario, during the pendency of As a matter of law, when a person indicted for an offense is arrested, he is deemed placed
Criminal Cases Nos. 3350-3355. At that time, sufficient reason was shown why private under the custody of the law. He is placed in actual restraint of liberty in jail so that he may be
respondent Javellana should not be detained at the Antique Provincial Jail. The trial courts order bound to answer for the commission of the offense.[3] He must be detained in jail during the
specifically provided for private respondents detention at the residence of Atty. del Rosario. pendency of the case against him, unless he is authorized by the court to be released on bail or
However, private respondent was not to be allowed liberty to roam around but was to be held as on recognizance.[4] Let it be stressed that all prisoners whether under preventive detention or
detention prisoner in said residence. serving final sentence can not practice their profession nor engage in any business or
occupation, or hold office, elective or appointive, while in detention. This is a necessary
consequence of arrest and detention. Consequently, all the accused in Criminal Cases Nos.
This order of the trial court was not strictly complied with because private respondent was not
3350-3355 must be confined in the Provincial Jail of Antique.
detained in the residence of Atty. Del Rosario. He went about his normal activities as if he were
a free man, including engaging in the practice of law. Despite our resolution of July 30, 1990
prohibiting private respondent to appear as counsel in Criminal Case No. 4262,[1] the latter Considering that the pendency of Criminal Cases Nos. 3350-3355 has dragged on for more than
accepted cases and continued practicing law. ten (10) years, the presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 12, San Jose, Antique, is
ordered to continue with the trial of said criminal cases with all deliberate dispatch and to avoid
further delay.
On April 7, 1997, Senior State Prosecutor Henrick F. Guingoyon filed with the Supreme Court a
motion seeking clarification on the following questions: "(1) Does the resolution of this Honorable
Court dated July 30, 1990, prohibiting Atty. Javellana from appearing as counsel refer only to WHEREFORE, the August 8, 1989 order of the trial court is hereby SET ASIDE. All accused in
Criminal Case No. 4262? (2) Is Atty. now (Judge) Deogracias del Rosario still the custodian of Criminal Cases Nos. 3350-3355, including Avelino T. Javellana and Arturo F. Pacificador are
Atty. Javellana? and (3) Since it appears that Atty. (now Judge) del Rosario never really held ordered detained at the Provincial Jail of Antique, San Jose, Antique, effective immediately, and
and detained Atty. Javellana as prisoner in his residence, is not Atty. Javellana considered an shall not be allowed to go out of the jail for any reason or guise, except upon prior written
escapee or a fugitive of justice for which warrant for his arrest should forthwith be permission of the trial court for a lawful purpose.
issued?"[2] Mis spped
Let copies of this resolution be given to the Provincial Director, PNP Antique Provincial Police
In a resolution dated June 18, 1997, we "noted" the above motion. Office, San Jose, Antique and to the Provincial Jail Warden, Provincial Jail of Antique, San Jose,
Antique.
After we denied the motion for reconsideration on September 8, 1999, the trial court resumed
hearing Criminal Cases Nos. 3350-3355. Earlier, on August 2, 1999, Rolando Mijares filed with SO ORDERED.
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 12, San Jose, Antique, a motion seeking the revocation of the
trial courts custody order and the imprisonment of private respondent Javellana in the provincial
jail.

On November 15, 1999, private respondent Javellana filed with the Supreme Court an urgent
motion seeking to clarify whether the June 18, 1997 resolution finally terminated or resolved the
motion for clarification filed by the State Prosecutor on April 7, 1997.

Private respondent Javellana has been arrested based on the filing of criminal cases against
him. By such arrest, he is deemed to be under the custody of the law. The trial court gave Atty.
A.M. No. P-220 December 20, 1978 Respectfully returned to the Honorable, the Secretary of Justice, Manila,
thru the Honorable District Judge, Court of First Instance, Branch I,
Catbalogan, Samar, and thru the Honorable Judicial Superintendent,
JULIO ZETA, complainant,
Department of Justice, Manila, the undersigned's reply to the preceding
vs.
endorsements, to wit: That the alleged letter-complaint of one Julio Zeta is
FELICISIMO MALINAO, respondent.
not inclosed in the first indorsement, which absence has also been noticed
and noted on the right hand corner of the said first indorsement by the Clerk
of Court, of this Court; that despite this absence, and without waiving,
however, his right to any pertinent provision of law, but for respect and
courtesy to a Superior, he hereby states that he has not violated any rule or
BARREDO, J.:
law, much less Sec. 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules; that his
participation for defendants' cause was gratuitous as they could not engage
Administrative complaint against Felicisimo Malinao court interpreter of the Court of First the services of counsel by reason of poverty and the absence of one in the
Instance of Catbalogan, Samar charging as follows: locality, said assistance has also checked the miscarriage of justice by the
Presiding Municipal Judge, now resigned; that he is attaching herewith a
carbon-original of a pleading submitted by Atty. Simeon Quiachon the
l — ILLEGALLY APPEARING IN COURT. — MR. Malinao has been attorney of record for the defendants in Civil Case No. 24, entitled 'Jose
appearing in the municipal court of this town for parties like attorney when Kiskisan versus Fidel Pacate, et al. for Forcible Entry, in the Municipal Court
he is not an attorney. Reliable information also says he has been appearing of Talalora, Samar, which is a 'Motion To Withdraw Exhibits', as Annex 'A',
in the municipal courts of Daram, Zumarraga, Talalora and even Sta. Rita. as part of this reply. (Page 5, Rec.)
He is not authorized to do so we believe. He makes it his means of
livelihood as he collects fees from his clients. He competes with attorneys
but does not pay anything. We believe that his doing so should be stopped the Department of Justice that had jurisdiction over the matter then, referred the said complaint
for a good government. These facts can be checked with records of those and answer to District Judge Segundo Zosa, Court of First Instance, Catbalogan, Western
municipal courts. Samar, for investigation, report and recommendation, and after due hearing, Judge Zosa
submitted his report pertinent parts of which read thus:
2 — GRAVE MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE. — Being employed in the Court of
First Instance he would instigate persons, especially in his barrio to grab Inspite of diligent efforts exerted by the Court to subpoena the complainant,
land rob or coerce. In fact he has cases in the municipal court in this town Julio Zeta, who is said to be a resident of Zumarraga, Samar the same had
involving himself and his men. He incite them telling them not to be afraid as failed because the said Julio Zeta appears to be a fictitious person
he is a court employee and has influence over the judges. Those persons
being ignorant would believe him and so would commit crimes. This act of Inspite of the failure of the complainant to appear in the investigation in
Mr. Malinao is contrary to good order and peace as he is using his connection with his complaint against Felicisimo Malinao, the Court
supposed influences to urge persons to commit crimes. nevertheless proceeded to investigate the case against him by calling Judge
Restituto Duran of Sta. Rita, Samar, Judge Juanito Reyes of Zumarraga,
3 — CRIME OF FALSIFICATION. — Information has it that he is unfaithfully Samar and Judge Miguel Avestruz of Daram, Samar.
filing his time record in the CFI. Even he has been out practicing in the
municipal courts sometimes he would fill his time record as present. He
Judge Restituto Duran of Sta. Rita, Samar, declared that according to his
receives salary for those absent days. This can be checked with time record docket books the respondent appeared as counsel for Vicente Baculanlan in
he has submitted and if he has any application for leave. He may try to cure criminal case No. 1247 in the Municipal Court of Sta. Rita, Samar, for grave
it by submitting application for leave but this should not be allowed as he
threats and in criminal case No. 1249 for the same accused and Romulo
has already committed crime. Villagracia for illegal possession of firearm on August 5, 1960 and on
September 17, 1970.
4 — VIOLATION OF EXECUTIVE ORDER AND CIVIL SERVICE LAW.-WE
have reliable information it is prohibited for a civil service employee to Judge Miguel Avestruz of Daram, Samar, declared that the respondent
engage in private practice any profession or business without permission appeared as counsel in civil case No. 39 in the Municipal Court of Daram,
from the Department Head. Mr. Malinao we are sure has not secured that
Samar, entitled Felix Versoza versus Victor Payao, et al., for forcible entry
permission because he should not be allowed to practice as he is not an on December 15, 1962, January 26, 1963, February 18, 1963 and on March
attorney. If that were so, he violated that Executive Order and Civil Service 1, 1963.
Law and we are urgently and earnestly requesting the Commissioner of Civil
Service to investigate him on this. If warranted he should be given the
corresponding penalty as dismissal because we believe he deserve it. Judge Juanito Reyes declared that on March 27, 1969, the respondent
(Page 2, Record.) appeared as counsel for the defendant in civil case No. 318 of the Municipal
Court of Zumarraga entitled Restituto Centino versus Jesus Tizon for
forcible entry and again on June 17, 1970 in the same case.
After respondent filed the following 3rd indorsement relative to the above complaint:
From the certification of the Clerk of this Court, it appears that the the bar, which, furthermore, constitutes illegal practice of law. We, therefore, adopt the above
respondent had the following entries in his daily time record: findings of fact of the Investigator.

1. Was on leave from office on August 5, 1960 and September 17, 1960; The defense of respondent that "his participation (sic) for defendants' cause was gratuitous as
they could not engage the services of counsel by reason of poverty and the absence of one in
the locality" cannot, even if true, carry the day for him, considering that in appearing as counsel
2. Was present in office on December l5, 1962;
in court, he did so without permission from his superiors and, worse, he falsified his time record
of service to conceal his absence from his office on the dates in question. Indeed, the number of
3. Was present in office on January 26, 1963, and present also on February times that respondent acted as counsel under the above circumstances would indicate that he
18, 1963 but undertime by 1 hour; was doing it as a regular practice obviously for considerations other than pure love of justice.

4. Was on leave from office on March 1, 1963; In the premises, it is quite obvious that the offense committed by respondent is grave, hence it
warrants a more drastic sanction than that of reprimand recommended by Judge Zosa. We find
no alternative than to separate him from the service, with the admonition that he desist from
5. Was on leave from office on March 27, 1969; and appearing in any court or investigative body wherein Only members of the bar are allowed to
practice.
6. Was present in office on June 17, 1970 but undertime by 5 hours.
WHEREFORE, respondent Felicisimo Malinao is hereby ordered dismissed from his position as
Comparing the dates when the respondent appeared before the interpreter in the Court of First Instance, CFI, Zumarraga, Western Samar with prejudice to
aforementioned Municipal Courts with his daily time records, he made it reemployment in the judicial branch of the government.
appear that on December 15, 1962 and February 18, 1963 he was present
in his office although according to the testimony of Judge Miguel Avestruz Castro, C.J., Fernando, Teehankee, Makasiar, Antonio, Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Santos,
he was before his Court on December 15, 1962 as well as on February 18,
Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ., concur.
1963. Again according to Judge Juanito Reyes the respondent appeared in
his Court on June 17, 1970. The respondent again made it appear in his
daily time record that he was present with an undertime of five hours. The
respondent did not offer any plausible explanation for this irregularity.

xxx xxx xxx

With respect to the crime of falsification of his daily time record as shown by
the evidence, he had made it appear that he was present in his office on
December 15, 1962, February 18, 1963 and June 17, 1970 when as a
matter of fact he was in the Municipal Court of Daram attending to a case
entitled Felix Versoza versus Victor Payao, et al., for forcible entry as well
as in the Municipal Court of Zumarraga attending to Civil Case No. 318
entitled Restituto Centino versus Jesus Tizon for forcible entry. The Inquest
Judge respectfully recommends that he be given stern warning and severe
reprimand for this irregularity.

With respect to the fourth charge, for violation of Section 12, Rule XVIII,
Republic Act 2260, as amended, again the evidence shows that respondent
had been appearing as counsel in the municipal courts of Sta. Rita, Daram
and Zumarraga in violation of the rules of the Civil Service Law. (Pp. 28-31,
Record.)

We have carefully reviewed the record, and We find the conclusions of fact of the Investigator to
be amply supported by the evidence, particularly the documents consisting of public records and
the declarations of the judges before whom respondent had appeared. It is clear to Us that
respondent, apart from appearing as counsel in various municipal courts without prior
permission of his superiors in violation of civil service rules and regulations, falsified his time
record of service by making it appear therein that he was present in his office on occasions
when in fact he was in the municipal courts appearing as counsel, without being a member of
G.R. No. 169517 March 14, 2006 Section 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court provides:

ROGELIO A. TAN, NORMA TAN and MALIYAWAO PAGAYOKAN, Petitioners, Section 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. – After a charge in writing
vs. has been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to comment thereon within such
BENEDICTO M. BALAJADIA, Respondent. period as may be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any
of the following acts may be punished for indirect contempt:
DECISION
xxxx
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
(e) Assuming to be an attorney or an officer of a court, and acting as such without authority;
Before us is an original petition1 for contempt filed by petitioners Rogelio Tan, Norma Tan and
Maliyawao Pagayokan against respondent Benedicto Balajadia. x x x x.

Petitioners allege that on May 8, 2005, respondent filed a criminal case against them with the In several cases,10 we have ruled that the unauthorized practice of law by assuming to be an
Office of the City of Prosecutor of Baguio City for usurpation of authority, grave coercion and attorney and acting as such without authority constitutes indirect contempt which is punishable
violation of city tax ordinance due to the alleged illegal collection of parking fees by petitioners by fine or imprisonment or both. The liability for the unauthorized practice of law under Section
from respondent. In paragraph 5 of the complaint-affidavit, respondent asserted that he is a 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court is in the nature of criminal contempt and the acts are
"practicing lawyer based in Baguio City with office address at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building, punished because they are an affront to the dignity and authority of the court, and obstruct the
Session Road, Baguio City."2 However, certifications issued by the Office of the Bar orderly administration of justice. In determining liability for criminal contempt, well-settled is the
Confidant3 and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines4 showed that respondent has never been rule that intent is a necessary element, and no one can be punished unless the evidence makes
admitted to the Philippine Bar. Hence, petitioners claim that respondent is liable for indirect it clear that he intended to commit it.11
contempt for misrepresenting himself as a lawyer.
In the case at bar, a review of the records supports respondent’s claim that he never intended to
In his Comment,5 respondent avers that the allegation in paragraph 5 of the complaint-affidavit project himself as a lawyer to the public. It was a clear inadvertence on the part of the secretary
that he is a practicing lawyer was an honest mistake. He claims that the secretary of Atty. of Atty Aquino. The affidavit of Liza Laconsay attesting to the circumstances that gave rise to the
Paterno Aquino prepared the subject complaint-affidavit which was patterned after Atty. Aquino’s mistake in the drafting of the complaint-affidavit conforms to the documentary evidence on
complaint-affidavit.6 It appears that Atty. Aquino had previously filed a complaint-affidavit against record. Taken together, these circumstances show that the allegation in paragraph 5 of
petitioners involving the same subject matter. respondent’s complaint-affidavit was, indeed, the result of inadvertence.

Respondent claims that two complaint-affidavits were drafted by the same secretary; one for the Respondent has satisfactorily shown that the allegation that he is a practicing lawyer was the
May 5, 2005 parking incident at 10:00 o’clock in the morning and another for the parking incident result of inadvertence and cannot, by itself, establish intent as to make him liable for indirect
on the same date but which occurred at 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon. Respondent insists that contempt. In the cases where we found a party liable for the unauthorized practice of law, the
the complaint-affidavit regarding the 1:00 o’clock parking incident correctly alleged that he is "a party was guilty of some overt act like signing court pleadings on behalf of his client;12 appearing
businessman with office address at Room B-204, 2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio before court hearings as an attorney;13 manifesting before the court that he will practice law
City."7 However, the complaint-affidavit regarding the 10:00 o’clock parking incident, which is the despite being previously denied admission to the bar;14 or deliberately attempting to practice law
subject of the instant petition, erroneously referred to him as a practicing lawyer because Atty. and holding out himself as an attorney through circulars with full knowledge that he is not
Aquino’s secretary copied verbatim paragraph 5 of Atty. Aquino’s complaint-affidavit. Hence, it licensed to do so.15
was inadvertently alleged that respondent is a "practicing lawyer based in Baguio City with office
address at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio City," which statement
In the case at bar, no evidence was presented to show that respondent acted as an attorney or
referred to the person of Atty. Aquino and his law office address.
that he intended to practice law. Consequently, he cannot be made liable for indirect contempt
considering his lack of intent to illegally practice law.
Liza Laconsay, Atty. Aquino’s secretary, executed an affidavit 8 admitting the mistake in the
preparation of the complaint-affidavit. Respondent alleged that he did not read the complaint-
However, while the evidence on record failed to prove respondent’s deliberate intent to
affidavit because he assumed that the two complaint-affidavits contained the same allegations
misrepresent himself as an attorney and act as such without authority, he is hereby warned to be
with respect to his occupation and office address. Respondent claims that he had no intention of
more careful and circumspect in his future actions.
misrepresenting himself as a practicing lawyer.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. Respondent is WARNED to be more careful and


In their Reply,9 petitioners reiterate that respondent should be made liable for indirect contempt
circumspect in his future actions.
for having made untruthful statements in the complaint-affidavit and that he cannot shift the
blame to Atty. Aquino’s secretary.
SO ORDERED.
The sole issue for resolution is whether respondent is liable for indirect contempt.
A.C. No. 6317 August 31, 2006 In finding the respondent guilty of violating Rules 1.01 and 9.02 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, the Investigating Commissioner opined that:
LUZVIMINDA C. LIJAUCO, Complainant,
vs. In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant. To be made the
ATTY. ROGELIO P. TERRADO, Respondent. suspension or disbarment of a lawyer, the charge against him must be established by convincing
proof. The record must disclose as free from doubt a case which compels the exercise by the
Supreme Court of its disciplinary powers. The dubious character of the act done as well as of the
DECISION
motivation thereof must be clearly demonstrated. x x x.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
In the instant scenario, despite the strong protestation of respondent that the Php70,000.00 legal
fees is purely and solely for the recovery of the Php180,000.00 savings account of complainant
On February 13, 2004, an administrative complaint1 was filed by complainant Luzviminda C. subsequent acts and events say otherwise, to wit:
Lijauco against respondent Atty. Rogelio P. Terrado for gross misconduct, malpractice and
conduct unbecoming of an officer of the court when he neglected a legal matter entrusted to him
1.) The Php70,000.00 legal fees for the recovery of a Php180,000.00 savings deposit is too
despite receipt of payment representing attorney’s fees.
high;

According to the complainant, she engaged the services of respondent sometime in January
2.) Respondent actively acted as complainant’s lawyer to effectuate the compromise agreement.
2001 for P70,000.00 to assist in recovering her deposit with Planters Development Bank,
Buendia, Makati branch in the amount of P180,000.00 and the release of her foreclosed house
and lot located in Calamba, Laguna. The property identified as Lot No. 408-C-2 and registered By openly admitting he divided the Php70,000.00 to other individuals as commission/referral
as TCT No. T-402119 in the name of said bank is the subject of a petition for the issuance of a fees respondent violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which
writ of possession then pending before the Regional Trial Court of Binan, Laguna, Branch 24 provides that a lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal services with persons
docketed as LRC Case No. B-2610. not licensed to practice law. Worst, by luring complainant to participate in a compromise
agreement with a false and misleading assurance that complainant can still recover after Three
(3) years her foreclosed property respondent violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
Complainant alleged that respondent failed to appear before the trial court in the hearing for the
Professional Responsibility which says a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
issuance of the Writ of Possession and did not protect her interests in the Compromise
or deceitful conduct.4
Agreement which she subsequently entered into to end LRC Case No. B-2610.2

The Investigating Commissioner thus recommended:


Respondent denied the accusations against him. He averred that the P70,000.00 he received
from complainant was payment for legal services for the recovery of the deposit with Planters
Development Bank and did not include LRC Case No. B-2610 pending before the Regional Trial WHEREFORE, finding respondent responsible for aforestated violations to protect the public
Court of Biñan, Laguna. and the legal profession from his kind, it is recommended that he be suspended for Six (6)
months with a stern warning that similar acts in the future will be severely dealt with. 5
The complaint was referred3 to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report and recommendation. On September 21, 2005, the Investigating Commissioner submitted The IBP Board of Governors adopted the recommendation of the investigating commissioner. 6
his report finding respondent guilty of violating Rules 1.01 and 9.02 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provide:
We agree with the findings of the IBP.

Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
The practice of law is a privilege bestowed on those who show that they possessed and
continue to possess the legal qualifications for it. Indeed, lawyers are expected to maintain at all
Rule 9.02 – A lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal services with persons times a high standard of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty, integrity and fair
not licensed to practice law, except: dealing. They must perform their fourfold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and
their clients, in accordance with the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the
Code of Professional Responsibility.7
a) Where there is a pre-existing agreement with a partner or associate that, upon the latter’s
death, money shall be paid over a reasonable period of time to his estate or to the persons
specified in the agreement; or Lawyers are prohibited from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct 8 and
are mandated to serve their clients with competence and diligence. 9 They shall not neglect a
legal matter entrusted to them, and this negligence in connection therewith shall render them
b) Where a lawyer undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer; or
liable.10

c) Where a lawyer or law firm includes non-lawyer employees in a retirement plan, even if the
Respondent’s claim that the attorney’s fee pertains only to the recovery of complainant’s savings
plan is based in whole or in part, on a profit-sharing arrangement.
deposit from Planter’s Development Bank cannot be sustained. Records show that he acted as
complainant’s counsel in the drafting of the compromise agreement between the latter and the
bank relative to LRC Case No. B-2610. Respondent admitted that he explained the contents of Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent and served on the IBP, as well
the agreement to complainant before the latter affixed her signature. Moreover, the Investigating as on the Court Administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for their information and
Commissioner observed that the fee of P70,000.00 for legal assistance in the recovery of the guidance.
deposit amounting to P180,000.00 is unreasonable. A lawyer shall charge only fair and
reasonable fees.11
SO ORDERED.

Respondent’s disregard for his client’s interests is evident in the iniquitous stipulations in the
compromise agreement where the complainant conceded the validity of the foreclosure of her
property; that the redemption period has already expired thus consolidating ownership in the
bank, and that she releases her claims against it.12As found by the Investigating Commissioner,
complainant agreed to these concessions because respondent misled her to believe that she
could still redeem the property after three years from the foreclosure. The duty of a lawyer to
safeguard his client’s interests commences from his retainer until his discharge from the case or
the final disposition of the subject matter of litigation. Acceptance of money from a client
establishes an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of fidelity to the client’s
cause. The canons of the legal profession require that once an attorney agrees to handle a
case, he should undertake the task with zeal, care and utmost devotion.13

Respondent’s admission14 that he divided the legal fees with two other people as a referral fee
does not release him from liability. A lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal
services with persons not licensed to practice law, except in certain cases. 15

Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred or
suspended on the following grounds: 1) deceit; 2) malpractice, or other gross misconduct in
office; 3) grossly immoral conduct; 4) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; 5) violation
of the lawyer’s oath; 6) willful disobedience to any lawful order of a superior court; and 7) willfully
appearing as an attorney for a party without authority.

In Santos v. Lazaro16 and Dalisay v. Mauricio, Jr.,17 we held that Rule 18.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility is a basic postulate in legal ethics. When a lawyer takes a client’s
cause, he covenants that he will exercise due diligence in protecting his rights. The failure to
exercise that degree of vigilance and attention makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust reposed
in him by his client and makes him answerable not just to his client but also to the legal
profession, the courts and society.

A lawyer should give adequate attention, care and time to his client’s case. Once he agrees to
handle a case, he should undertake the task with dedication and care. If he fails in this duty, he
is not true to his oath as a lawyer. Thus, a lawyer should accept only as much cases as he can
efficiently handle in order to sufficiently protect his clients’ interests. It is not enough that a
lawyer possesses the qualification to handle the legal matter; he must also give adequate
attention to his legal work. Utmost fidelity is demanded once counsel agrees to take the cudgels
for his client’s cause.18

In view of the foregoing, we find that suspension from the practice of law for six months is
warranted. In addition, he is directed to return to complainant the amount he received by way of
legal fees pursuant to existing jurisprudence.19

WHEREFORE, Atty. Rogelio P. Terrado is found GUILTY of violating Rules 1.01, 9.02, 18.02
and 20.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of
law for six (6) months effective from notice, and STERNLY WARNED that any similar infraction
will be dealt with more severely. He is further ordered to RETURN, within thirty (30) days from
notice, the sum of P70,000.00 to complainant Luzviminda C. Lijauco and to submit to this Court
proof of his compliance within three (3) days therefrom.
A.C. No. 7056 September 13, 2006 the Decision on March 14, 2000 and alleged that the Decision is against the law and
jurisprudence x x x.
PLUS BUILDERS, INC. and EDGARDO C. GARCIA, complainants,
vs. "On May 31, 2001, Respondent Anastacio Revilla Jr., knowing that there was a
ATTY. ANASTACIO E. REVILLA, JR., respondent. monetary judgment by way of Disturbance Compensation granted to
Tenants/Farmers, x x x filed a 'Motion for Leave of Court to Allow Correction of
Caption and Amendment of Judgment' (referring to the Decision of PARAD of Cavite
DECISION
dated November 15, 1999 x x x) with a prayer 'x x x to include the name of the
KALAYAAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION representing the following
PANGANIBAN, CJ: respondents herein above stated in the caption of [the] pleading.' Also, a Contract of
Retainership dated April 4, 2001 was attached to the Motion x x x to make x x x KDC
represented by Respondent, [the] retained x x x 'counsel on record' x x x.
By their oath and under the Code of Professional Responsibility, lawyers must uphold truth and
justice above everything else, even above their own and their client's interests. They must be
willing and able to stand for their convictions against all odds; to carry on in spite of seemingly "After realizing that his motion failed to give him beneficial monetary gain from the
insurmountable opposition; and to be beacons for the weak, the oppressed and the PARAD judgment, a Petition for Preliminary Injunction with prayer for Issuance of
marginalized. For failing miserably to live by this oath and Code, respondent must be Temporary Restraining Order and to Quash Alias Writ of Execution with Demolition
sanctioned. plus Damages dated July 18, 2001 was filed by Respondent x x x before the DARAB
Central Office, Quezon City, notwithstanding the fact that this instant case was
appealed by another lawyer (Atty. Willy Roxas). x x x.
The Case and the Facts

"On the basis of this Petition, a Temporary Restraining Order by the DARAB Central
This administrative case originated from a Verified Petition for Disbarment 1 filed by Plus Builders Office, Quezon City, was issued on July 25, 2001 and an extension of or another
Inc. and Edgardo C. Garcia before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Complainants
Temporary Restraining Order was issued dated August 24, 2001, as a result of the
charged Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr. with committing a willful and intentional falsehood before active participation of Respondent x x x.
the court; misusing court procedure and processes to delay the execution of a judgment; and
collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal practice of law.
"Emboldened by the two (2) TRO's coming from DARAB Central Office, Respondent x
x x filed an Indirect Contempt case dated August 28, 2001 against Plus Builders Inc.
The material averments of the Complaint are as follows: and their Board of Directors, Edgardo Garcia and [its] counsel Atty. Leopoldo S.
Gonzalez before the same Office. x x x.
"On April 7, 1999, Plus Builders Inc. filed before the Provincial Adjudicator of Cavite
(PARAD) of DAR, DARAB CASE NOS. R-402-027-99 up to R-402-031-99, inclusive, "Sensing a series of orders against herein Petitioners and considering, further, that the
against Leopoldo De Guzman, Heirs of Bienvenido De Guzman, Apolonio Ilas and DARAB Central Office refused to hear arguments from Petitioners on the two (2)
Gloria Martirez Siongco, Heirs of Faustino Siongco; Serafin Santarin, Benigno Alvarez questionable TRO's, Petitioners decided to elevate the matter to the Court of Appeals
and Maria Esguerra, et al; hereinafter called [tenants/farmers] x x x. by way of a Petition for Certiorari. A Decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals
on [December] 20, 2001 stating that:
"On November 15, 1999, the Provincial Adjudicator of Cavite (PARAD) rendered a
consolidated Decision in favor of petitioner/complainant [Plus Builders, Inc.], and 'WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed orders issued by
against [tenants/farmers]. x x x. the DARAB are hereby declared NULL AND VOID for having been issued
without jurisdiction. Consequently, this Court sees no impediment for the
"[Tenants/farmers] filed several verified pleadings as part of the records of DARAB IMPLEMENTATION of the 15 November 1999 Decision of the provincial
cases above-mentioned alleging under oath that they were 'MAGSASAKANG adjudicator.
NAMUMUWISAN' or mere tenants of subject properties, acknowledging the rights of
the registered owners at that time, even before the ownership and title were
'SO ORDERED.'
transferred to Petitioner/ Complainant Plus Builders, Inc. x x x.

"This incident was further elevated to the Supreme Court by Respondent x x x through
"On Dec[ember] 17, 1999, counsel for TENANTS/FARMERS who at that time was
a Petition, but said Petition was dismissed with finality x x x.
Atty. Damian S. J. Vellaseca, filed a pro-forma Motion for Reconsideration and
Manifestation x x x. As a result, PARAD did not give due course to the same x x x.
"Enraged by his defeat, Respondent x x x filed a verified "Action to Quiet Title" before
the Regional Trial Court of Imus, Cavite praying for a Temporary Restraining Order
"On March 27, 2000, another counsel for TENANTS/FARMERS, by the name of Atty. (TRO), among others, to deliberately and maliciously stop the enforcement of the
Willy G. Roxas, who represented himself as counsel for TENANTS/FARMERS, filed a Decisions of the higher courts to implement the PARAD Decision dated November 15,
manifestation stating that he is representing TENANTS/FARMERS and alleged that
1999. x x x.
they were 'bona fide' members of the [Kalayaan Development Cooperative] (KDC).
Thereafter, he filed a Notice of Appeal on March 27, 2000 stating that they received
xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

"Respondent signed his pleading under a group of non-lawyers joining him in the "Respondent respectfully submits that he has not committed any illegal, unlawful,
practice of law as [KDC] LEGAL SERVICES, LAW OFFICERS AND ASSOCIATES unjust, wrongful or immoral acts towards the complainant. Respondent, in good faith
which included KDC as law partners in violation of the Rules on the practice of law filed the aforesaid cases (Action to Quiet Title, RTC, Imus, Cavite, Branch 20; and
with non-lawyers. As a matter of fact, under the Retainership Contract submitted by Petition for Issuance of Preliminary Injunction and TRO, and Complaint before the
Respondent before the PARAD of Cavite, it was specifically mentioned that legal fees Ombudsman), as a lawyer sworn to uphold justice and the law who was the bounden
were to be collected as counsel on record for the cooperative and respondent. duty to exert utmost efforts to defend his client and protect his right, no matter how
Therefore, this contract was effectively used [for] unlawful solicitation of clients in the guilty or evil he appears to be, especially if they are poor and uneducated like the said
practice of law with non-lawyers, being the cooperative (KDC) to become "counsel on farmers."4
record [sic] x x x.
In a Reply5 dated April 12, 2004, complainants emphasized that the nature of the possession of
"On March 6, 2003, the Regional Trial Court of Imus, Cavite quashed the earlier the subject land by respondent's clients had already been settled in the case for disturbance
issued TRO and dismissed the case on the ground of 'res judicata' because the Court compensation. Complainants maintained that the PARAD Decision, which was sustained by the
of Appeals ruled that, 'x x x the Decision of the Provincial Adjudicator of DAR dated Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, clearly stated that these clients were mere tenants of
November 15, 1999 has already become final x x x' and that, prescription does not run the land. Thus, adverse possession could not be claimed by respondent in good faith, especially
against registered land. x x x."2 when he had previously acknowledged the rights of complainants as landowners.

In his Answer3 dated March 29, 2004, respondent denied the charges against him. He averred On August 4, 2004, both parties appeared at a hearing scheduled by Edmund T. Espina,
that by filing the action to quiet title in Civil Case No. 2763-03, he had merely wanted to protect commissioner of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD).
the rights and interests of his clients. According to him, they sincerely and honestly believed that During the hearing, the parties were directed to submit their respective Memoranda.
their possession of the litigated land had already ripened into ownership. He explained thus:
Report and Recommendation of the IBP-CBD
"Notwithstanding the claim of said farmers of tenancy relationship with [the] previous
owner in the decisions of PARA[D], Court of Appeals and Supreme Court in the
In his April 30, 2005 Report,6 Investigating Commissioner Espina found respondent guilty of
DISTURBANCE COMPENSATION CASES, (DARAB CASE NO. R-402-025-99; R-
violating the attorney's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.7 Allegedly, respondent
402-026-99; R-402-027-99; R-402-028-99; R-402-029-99; R-402-030-99; R-402-031-
had "maliciously concealed the defeat of his clients in the case before the PARAD of Cavite and
99) the said farmers, are not precluded, by any law or jurisprudence, from entertaining
the higher courts,"8 in order to secure a temporary restraining order from the RTC of Imus,
in good faith an opinion or belief that they could legally be considered as owners of the
Cavite. As a result, he was able to delay the execution of the provincial adjudicator's Decision
subject-property precisely because of the undisputed fact that they have been in
dated November 15, 1999.
possession thereof in an open, continuous, public, uninterrupted possession for more
than fifty (50) years. x x x.
Moreover, Commissioner Espina opined that the charge that respondent had been engaged in
the unlawful practice of law was neither satisfactorily explained nor specifically denied by the
"It was on the basis of [a] sincere and honest belief and opinion o[f] acquiring
latter. The failure of respondent to do so led to the presumption that the allegation was true.
ownership of the land through prescription that the said farmers had decided to pursue
and file the Action to Quiet Title in Civil Case No. 2763-03, before the RTC of Imus,
Cavite, Branch 20 x x x. Thus, his suspension from the practice of law for two years was recommended by the
investigating commissioner. In Resolution No. XVII-2005-172,9 the board of governors of the IBP
adopted the findings and recommendation of IBP Commissioner Espina.
xxx xxx xxx

The Resolution, together with the records of the case, was transmitted to this Court for final
"It should be stressed that the decisions of the PARA[D], Court of Appeals and the
action,10 pursuant to Rule 139-B Section 12(b).
Supreme Court in DARAB CASE No. R-402-025-99; R-402-026-99; R-402-027-99; R-
402-028-99; R-402-029-99; R-402-030-99; R-402-031-99, [i]ndisputably refer only to
the fixing of disturbance compensations. They did not in any way, involve [the] The Court's Ruling
question of ownership of the subject property, which is the subject matter of Civil Case
No. 2763-03, (Action to Quiet Title), filed before the RTC of Imus, Cavite, Branch 20.
We agree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP board of governors.

xxx xxx xxx


Administrative Liability of Respondent

"As new counsel of the said farmers x x x, respondent has the complete discretion [of]
what legal strategy or cause of action to undertake on their behalf and the complainant Lawyers are officers of the court, called upon to assist in the administration of justice. They act
as vanguards of our legal system,11 protecting and upholding truth and the rule of law.12 They
and their counsel have no business or right to interfere with or dictate [upon] the
respondent on how to protect the rights and interests of said farmers under the are expected to act with honesty in all their dealings, especially with the courts. Verily, the Code
applicable law and jurisprudence. of Professional Responsibility enjoins lawyers from committing or consenting to any falsehood in
court or from allowing the courts to be misled by any artifice. 13Moreover, they are obliged to course of action propelled by ill motives and malicious intentions against the other
observe the rules of procedure and not to misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. 14 party."20

Good faith, fairness and candor constitute the essence of membership in the legal Moreover, we agree with the finding of IBP Commissioner Espina that the silence or failure of
profession.15 Thus, while lawyers owe fidelity to the cause of their client, they must never abuse respondent to challenge the allegation that he allowed non-lawyers to engage in the
their right of recourse to the courts by arguing a case that has repeatedly been rejected. Neither unauthorized practice of law may be deemed an admission of the truth of the accusation. We
should they use their knowledge of the law as an instrument to harass a party or to misuse note that complainants successfully substantiated their claim that respondent, who held himself
judicial processes. These acts constitute serious transgression of their professional oath. 16 out as a law partner of the "KDC Legal Services, Law Offices and Associates," was rendering
legal services together with persons not licensed to practice law. His silence on this accusation
is deemed an admission, especially because he had every chance to deny it. 21
In the present case, respondent claims good faith in pursuing the cause of his clients. The
records show, however, that his course of legal action was obviously a stratagem. It was meant
to delay unduly the execution of the provincial adjudicator's Decision dated November 15, 1999. Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provide thus:

It must be noted that when the Court of Appeals and this Court upheld that Decision, respondent "Canon 9 – A lawyer shall not directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice
resorted to a different forum to pursue his clients' lost cause. In the disturbance compensation of law.
case, he represented his clients as tenants and acknowledged that complainants were the
owners of the subject land. In the action to quiet title, however, he conveniently repudiated his
'Rule 9.01 – A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the
previous admission by falsely alleging that his clients were adverse possessors claiming bona
performance of any task which by law may only be performed by a member
fide ownership. Consequently, he was able to obtain a temporary restraining order preventing
of the Bar in good standing.'"
the execution of the provincial adjudicator's Decision.

The significance of this professional norm was emphasized in Cambaliza v. Cristal-


Clearly, he was shielding his clients from the Order of execution. Contrary to his later claim of
Tenorio,22 which we quote:
ownership of the land, he cannot feign ignorance of his previous admission of a tenancy
relationship existing between his clients and complainants, as correctly observed by IBP
Commissioner Espina. "The lawyer's duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized
practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the
practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and
The propensity of respondent for doublespeak was also revealed in his declaration that his
character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and limited
clients were pauper litigants. His prayer for an exemption to pay court fees, on the ground that
privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and
they did not have sufficient income,17was granted by the trial court. Earlier, however, he admitted
professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the
that they had engaged the services of his legal office for a fee of P20,000, in addition to P2,500
bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not
per appearance in court. Also, in the action to quiet title, he even alleged that they were willing to
subject to the disciplinary control of the Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that
post a bond to answer for damages, in the event that the court ruled in favor of the defendants.
this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him not
These facts contravene his claim that his clients could not afford to pay the appropriate court
to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make
fees.
possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any agency, personal or corporate. And,
the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a
In support of the cause of their clients, lawyers have the duty to present every remedy or layman in the unauthorized practice of law."23
defense within the authority of the law. This obligation, however, must never be at the expense
of truth and justice,18 as explained in Choa v. Chiongson:19
Respondent failed to live up to the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of law and
justice. In line with jurisprudence, he is held liable for gross misconduct and is suspended from
"While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to his the practice of law. 24
genuine interest, and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights, as well
as the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within the bounds
WHEREFORE, Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr. is hereby found guilty of gross misconduct and
of the law. He must give a candid and honest opinion on the merits and probable
is SUSPENDED for two years from the practice of law, effective upon his receipt of this
results of his client's case with the end in view of promoting respect for the law and
Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more
legal processes, and counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear
severely.
to him to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable
under the law. He must always remind himself of the oath he took upon admission to
the Bar that he 'will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent as attorney and served on the
unlawful suit nor give aid nor consent to the same'; and that he 'will conduct [himself] IBP, as well as on the court administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for their information
as a lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with all good and guidance.
fidelity as well to the courts as to [his] clients.' Needless to state, the lawyer's fidelity to
his client must not be pursued at the expense of truth and the administration of justice,
and it must be done within the bounds of reason and common sense. A lawyer's SO ORDERED.
responsibility to protect and advance the interests of his client does not warrant a
A.M. No. 1053 September 7, 1979 It appearing that the hearing of this case has been unduly delayed, the Investigator of this Court
is directed forthwith to proceed with the hearing to terminate it as soon as possible. The request
of complainant to appear in the afore-mentioned hearing, assisted by her counsel, Atty. Jose U.
SANTA PANGAN, complainant
Lontoc, is hereby granted.
vs.
ATTY. DIONISIO RAMOS, respondent,
SO ORDERED
RESOLUTION

ANTONIO, J.:

This has reference to the motion of complainant, Santa Pangan, to cite respondent Dionisio
Ramos for contempt. It appears from the record that on September 7, 1978 and March 13, 1979,
the hearings in this administrative case were postponed on the basis of respondent's motions for
postponement. These motions were predicated on respondent's allegations that on said dates
he had a case set for hearing before Branch VII, Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled
People v. Marieta M. Isip (Criminal Case No. 35906). Upon verification, the attorney of record of
the accused in said case is one "Atty. Pedro D.D. Ramos, 306 Dona Salud Bldg., Dasmarinas
Manila." Respondent admits that he used the name of "Pedro D.D. Ramos" before said court in
connection with Criminal Case No. 35906, but avers that he had a right to do so because in his
Birth Certificate (Annex "A"), his name is "Pedro Dionisio Ramos", and -his parents are Pedro
Ramos and Carmen Dayaw, and that the D.D. in "Pedro D.D. Ramos" is but an abbreviation of
"Dionisio Dayaw his other given name and maternal surname.

This explanation of respondent is untenable. The name appearing in the "Roll of Attorneys" is
"Dionisio D. Ramos". The attorney's roll or register is the official record containing the names
and signatures of those who are authorized to practice law. A lawyer is not authorized to use a
name other than the one inscribed in the Roll of Attorneys in his practice of law.

The official oath obliges the attorney solemnly to swear that he will do no falsehood". As an
officer in the temple of justice, an attorney has irrefragable obligations of "truthfulness, candor
and frankness". 1 Indeed, candor and frankness should characterize the conduct of the lawyer at
every stage. This has to be so because the court has the right to rely upon him in ascertaining
the truth. In representing himself to the court as "Pedro D.D. Ramos" instead of "Dionisio D.
Ramos", respondent has violated his solemn oath.

The duty of an attorney to the courts to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes
confided to him, such means as are consistent with truth and honor cannot be overempahisized.
These injunctions circumscribe the general duty of entire devotion of the attorney to the client.
As stated in a case, his I nigh vocation is to correctly inform the court upon the law and the facts
of the case, and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at correct conclusions. He violates Ms oath
of office ,when he resorts to deception or permits his client to do so." 2

In using the name of' Pedro D.D. Ramos" before the courts instead of the name by which he was
authorized to practice law - Dionisio D. Ramos - respondent in effect resorted to deception. The
demonstrated lack of candor in dealing with the courts. The circumstance that this is his first
aberration in this regard precludes Us from imposing a more severe penalty.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Dionisio D. Ramos is severely


REPRIMANDED and warned that a repetition of the same overt act may warrant his suspencion
or disbarment from the practice of law.
A.M. No. 1892 July 29, 1988 On November 7, 1958, Glicerio Aquino, private respondent, filed his
Revocable Permit Application over an area of 8,000 square meters, which
was later found to cover a part of the first parcel already titled in favor of
ATTY. LUIS V. ARTIAGA JR., complainant,
petitioner and of the third parcel transferred to him by Suyo. On December
vs.
29, 1958, private respondent Florentina Guanzon, Aquino's sister-in-law,
ATTY. ENRIQUE C. VILLANUEVA, respondent.
also filed Revocable Permit Application over the second parcel.

Eventually, the conflicts were taken cognizance of by the Bureau of Lands


(B.L. Conflict No. 3-953, and B.L.O. Conflict No. 236). On May 21, 1962, the
PER CURIAM: Director of Lands rendered a Decision against private respondents, as
follows:
In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on April 2, 1978, Atty. Luis V. Artiaga Jr. sought the
disbarment of Atty. Enrique C. Villanueva for alleged unethical practices. WHEREFORE, it is ordered that the Revocable Permit
Application No. V-14105 of Glicerio Aquino be, as
hereby it is, rejected, forfeiting in favor of the
By a resolution dated May 24, 1978, this Court required respondent Atty. Enrique C. Villanueva Government whatever amount has been paid on
to answer the complaint. To the answer of respondent dated July 5, 1978, complainant Atty. Luis
account thereof. The Revocable Permit Application No.
V. Artiaga Jr. filed his reply of July 31, 1978. V-14142 of Florentina Guanzon shall remain, as it is,
rejected. Glicerio Aquino and Florentina Guanzon shall
After considering the answer of respondent, this Court resolved to refer the case to the Solicitor vacate the land within sixty (60) days from their receipt
General for investigation, report and recommendation. The solicitor General forwarded to the of a copy hereof The new Insular Government Property
Court his Report and Recommendation dated May 4, 1988 with the finding that respondent was Sales Application of Julian Estolano shall be given due
guilty of misconduct and with the recommendation that he be suspended from the practice of law course after the survey of the land covered thereby.'
for a period of at least six (6) months.
Private respondents moved for the reconsideration of the aforequoted
The complaint for disbarment arose from four (4) separate cases and several incidental cases Decision, and the Director of Lands, in an Order of August 13, 1962,
with Juliano Estolano, client of complainant Atty. Artiaga, Jr. and Glicerio Aquino and/or amended his previous Decision as follows:
Florentina Guanzon, clients of respondent Atty. Villanueva, as adversaries in all of these cases
involving the same property.
WHEREFORE, our decision of May 21, 1962, is hereby
modified by awarding to protesting Glicerio Aquino
The factual background of these cases is summed up in the decision of the Court of Appeals in preferential right to that area actually occupied and
CA-G.R. No. SP06600 dated November 16, 1977, a petition for certiorari and prohibition, an cultivated by him, indicated as portion "K" in the sketch
offshoot of Civil Case No. 183-C for Recovery of Possession filed by Estolano against Aquino drawn on the back hereof, and amending the Insular
and Guanzon before the Court of First Instance of Laguna, Branch VI on June 11, 1974. Quoted Government Property Sales Application (New) of
hereunder are pertinent portions of the Court's decision: Juliano Estolano so as to exclude therefrom the said
portion. With this modification, the decision stands
confirmed.
There were three parcels of land involved herein. All continuos and
adjoining to each other and located in Bambang, Los Banos, Laguna. The
first covered an area of 2.6793 hectares; the second, an area of one Petitioner and private respondents appealed the amended Decision of the
hectare; and the third, an area of one-half hectare. On July 20,1950, Director of Lands to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources
petitioner Juliano Estolano was issued original Certificate of Title No. P-286 who, in a Decision dated September 9, 1963, dismissed the appeals of
in his name over the first parcel. There is no controversy, therefore, in private respondents, set aside the Order of the Director of Lands dated
respect of this first parcel, the dispute being confined to the second and August 13, 1962, and affirmed the latter's Decision of May 21, 1962.
third parcels. Respondent Guanzon moved for the reconsideration of the Secretary's
Decision but said Motion was denied.
The second and third parcels were the object of Revocable Permit
Applications by Paciano Malabayabas and Canuto Suyo, both filed on Respondent Aquino appealed the Decision of the Secretary of Agriculture
March 31, 1951. On June 12, 1956, Canuto transferred his right over the and Natural Resources to the Office of the President of the Philippines,
third parcel to petitioner. On March 4, 1958, Malabayabas also sold his which likewise affirmed the Decision appealed from.
rights over the second parcel to petitioner. On May 15, 1958, petitioner filed
Insular Government Property Sales Application No. 1772 (New) covering The Decision of the Director of Lands having become final, an order of
the second and third parcels.
Execution thereof was issued on January 4, 1967, but this notwithstanding,
private respondents remained in possession of the subject property. For
failure to obtain possession thereof, petitioner filed, on June 15, 1974, the
principal case, (Civil Case No. 183-C) in the lower court which eventually
gave rise to the proceedings now challenged in this Petition." (pp. 3-7, and intimidation of and/or possession over a certain portion (now caused by
Decision in CA-G.R. No. Sp-06600) defendant Segundo de los Santos to be planted to bananas now of less
than a year old as of the filing of the original complaint) located on the
southern portion of their above-described landholding . .... (Emphasis
The restraining order issued in Civil Case No. 183-C on October 27, 1976 enjoining the Director
supplied. )2
of Lands from enforcing the Order of Execution was set aside by the Court of Appeals and the
writ of prohibition prayed for by petitioner Estolano was granted.
In the original complaint, respondent's client alleged that he was dispossessed of the subject
land in 1960, while in the amended complaint, he alleged it was in June, 1973. Clearly, this was
Meanwhile, on April 13, 1974, respondent's clients, Aquino and Guanzon, filed a complaint for
a ploy concocted by respondent to enable the court to acquire jurisdiction over the case since a
forcible entry against complainant's client, Estolano, in the Municipal Court of Los Banos Laguna
forcible entry case must be filed within one year from the accrual of the cause of action under
docketed as Civil Case No. 192. This case was dismissed by the Municipal Court on January 5,
Rule 70, Section 1.
1977. On appeal to the Court of First Instance (CFI), the order of dismissal was affirmed on
November 4, 1979 in Civil Case No. 386-C. No appeal was interposed from this decision, thus it
became final. Such action of respondent counsel is a clear violation of his oath that "he will do no falsehood
nor consent to the doing of any in court." 3 A legal counsel is of course expected to defend his
client's cause with zeal, but not at the disregard of the truth. 4 The duty of an attorney to the
The third case for annulment of Estolano's title over the same land was filed by respondent's
courts to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him, such means as are
client, Aquino, with the CFI on May 15, 1974 docketed as Civil Case No. 179-C which was
consistent with truth and honor cannot be overemphasized. 5 His high vocation is to correctly
dismissed on April 23, 1976. On appeal to the Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA-G.R.
inform the court upon the law and the facts of the case, and to aid it in doing justice and arriving
No. 62576-R, the dismissal by the trial court was affirmed on June 25, 1981. On October 21,
at correct conclusions. He violated his oath of office when he resorted to deception. 6 Worse, he
1981, the case was remanded to the trial court for execution.
had caused his client to perjure himself thus subjecting the latter to criminal prosecution for
perjury brought before the Municipal Court of Los Banos, Laguna. 7 Instead of safeguarding the
Finally, while their petition for certiorari and prohibition over Civil Case No. 183-C was pending interests of his client as his responsibility dictates, he did exactly the opposite by causing his
before the Court of Appeals, respondent's clients, Aquino, filed a complaint with the Court of client to commit a felony.
Agrarian Relations (CAR) at San Pablo City docketed as CAR Case No. 7043 against Estolano
and the Director of Lands on July 1, 1977. On July 2, 1977, the CAR issued an order requiring
From the foregoing, the lack of candor of respondent counsel towards the court is evident. This
Estolano to respect Aquino's possession. On May 18, 1979, the CAR dismissed the case and on
lack of candor and honesty to the courts and his adversary is further demonstrated by other acts
appeal, its dismissal was affirmed in a decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 5, 1981
of respondent.
in CA-G.R. No. 11635-CAR.

In Civil Case No. 192, respondent's clients were restored to the possession of the 2-1/2 hectares
Respondent Atty. Enrique C. Villanueva is charged with the following unethical practices: (1)
of the untitled portion of subject property by virtue of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction
That respondent had caused his client to perjure himself; (2) That he lacks candor and respect
issued by the court on May 21, 1974 upon filing of a property bond by respondent. Upon the
toward his adversary and the courts; and (3) That he had been abusive of the right of recourse
dismissal of the case on January 5, 1977, the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction was
to the courts.
dissolved and respondent's clients were ordered to restore possession of subject property to
complainant's client Estolano. However, respondent blocked the order by filing an urgent ex-
We find respondent Atty. Villanueva guilty as above charged. parte motion seeking clarification as to whether the dispositive portion of the order of January 5,
1977 was immediately executory and asking the court to allow his clients to remain in the
meantime in the premises. Before the court could even resolve the motion, respondent perfected
Anent the first charge, the complaint and amended complaint for forcible entry in Civil Case No. his appeal from the order of January 5, 1977 on January 25, 1977. Thus, when the court's order
192 filed by respondent's client are clear proofs that respondent had indeed caused his client affirming its previous order came out on January 26,1977, the Provincial Sheriff of Laguna
Glicerio Aquino to perjure himself as to the date he lost possession of the subject property so as
refused to implement the orders of January 5 and 26, 1977 until the appeal has been finally
to place the case within the jurisdiction of the court. disposed of. On appeal, the CFI of Laguna, affirmed the questioned orders of the Municipal
Court. When the decision of the CFI became final because respondent failed to appeal, his
Paragraph 5 of the original complaint filed on April 18, 1974 reads: clients refused to abide by the Order of Execution issued by the Municipal Court.

5. That sometime in the early part of 1960, defendant Julian Estolano was Consequently, Estolano filed an ex-parte motion asking that the Provincial Sheriff be authorized
able to dispossess plaintiffs spouses Glicerio Aquino and Lorenzo to forcibly evict respondent's clients. On the date set for the hearing of the motion, respondent
Magpantay of a portion of the above-described parcel of land ... (Emphasis did not appear and instead filed his "Opposition/ Manifestation" informing the court of a petition
supplied.) 1 for certiorari filed against the presiding judge before the Court of First Instance of Laguna. In
deference to this petition, the Municipal Court resolved to hold in abeyance theex-parte motion
of Estolano until resolution of said petition.
Paragraph 5 of the Amended Complaint dated June 19, 1974 reads:

Indeed, the manner in which respondent counsel handled the forcible entry case filed against the
5. That sometime in the early part of June, 1973, defendant Julian Estolano client of complainant shows his total lack of candor and respect for the courts and the rights of
and Segundo de los Santos unlawfully dispossessed and/or deprived or his adversary. He had employed every step necessary to forestall complainant's client from
turned out plaintiffs Sps. Aquino and Magpantay thru stealth, strategy, force taking rightful possession of subject property. He has shown utter disregard of the proper rules
of procedure to suit his purpose. While he filed his urgent ex-partemotion for clarification, he him to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the
chose not to wait for its resolution and instead perfected his appeal to the Court of First Instance. law.12 He had thus prostituted his office at the expense of justice.
When finally the decision became executory because of his failure to appeal to the Court of
Appeals, he filed a petition for certiorari against the decision of the CFI which petition is
The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to certain standards of
obviously frivolous and a mere tactic to delay enforcement of the court's decision. In the
mental and moral fitness. 13 For a counsel who has been sworn to assist in the administration of
meantime, the clients of respondents refused to obey the order of execution.
justice and to uphold the rule of law, respondent has miserably failed to live up to the standards
expected of a member of the Bar. Instead of assisting in the speedy disposition of cases, he
A lawyer should obey all lawful orders and rulings of the court. 8 He should have counseled his made a mockery of our system of justice, thus deserving to be censured and penalized by this
clients to submit to the order of the court instead of encouraging them to resist such order. The Court. No doubt, respondent is guilty of gross misconduct in office.
actuations of respondent of employing dilatory tactics by filing a clearly frivolous case amounts
to obstruction of the administration of justice which constitutes misconduct and justifies
WHEREFORE, the respondent is hereby SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY from the practice of law
disciplinary action against him. 9
from date of notice until such time that he can demonstrate to the court that he has rehabilitated
himself and deserves to resume the practice of law. Let this decision be noted in the bar records
Respondents counsel further demonstrated his questionable motive by filing another case, this of respondent.
time for annulment of the title of complainant's client to the other 2-1/2 hectares of subject land
with the Court of First Instance of Laguna, Branch VI. This case was dismissed on the ground
SO ORDERED.
of res judicata and prescription. Respondent appealed this ruling to the Court of Appeals where
it was pending resolution at the time the instant complaint for disbarment was filed. The decision
of the trial court was affirmed and remanded to the lower court for execution. Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco,
Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Griño-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
Not satisfied with the above-mentioned appeal, respondent counsel brought another case
against complainant's client this time before the Court of Agrarian Relations (CAR Case No.
7043) for determination allegedly of who had a better right over the subject property when he
was well aware e of the absence of any tenancy relationship between the parties.

An examination of the records shows that respondent did not disclose before the Court of
Agrarian Relations (CAR) prior law suits and decisions rendered relative to the subject land. As
a result, respondent was able to secure ex-parte from the CAR a restraining order against the
Director of Lands and Estolano on July 2, 1977. So when the decision of the Court of First
Instance of Laguna in Civil Case No. 386-C affirming the decision of the trial court in the forcible
entry case No. 192 was rendered on November 4, 1977 ordering the immediate restoration of
subject land to Estolano, because of the restraining order issued by the agrarian court, the
execution of the said decision cannot be fully satisfied, To make matters worse, respondent
even filed a criminal complaint against complainant and his client, among others, for alleged
violation of P.D. 316 and the restraining order issued by the Court of Agrarian Relations in CAR
Case No. 7043. 10 The CAR dismissed this case and on appeal, the dismissal was affirmed.

We also note that after respondent filed the case with the CAR on July 1, 1 977, he filed on July
5, 1977 in Civil Case No. 179-C before the CFI of Laguna, a motion to dismiss the present action
without prejudice to his clients' right to prosecute their present action with the Court of Agrarian
Relations. The lower court denied the motion since it had already dismissed the case on some
other ground and their appeal was already perfected without plaintiffs' manifesting that they are
abandoning their appeal. Thus, respondent was able to elevate two (2) separate appeals--CA-
G.R. No. 62576-R re: annulment of title (Civil Case No. 179-C) and CA-G.R. No. 11635-CAR
arising from the CAR Case No. 7043, before the Court of Appeals over the same issues
involving the same subject property titled to Estolano.

The cause of respondent's clients is obviously bereft of merit. Respondent was aware of this fact
so he resorted to forum shopping, continuously seeking the court where he may possibly obtain
favorable judgment, thereby adding to the already clogged dockets of the courts with the
unmeritorious cases he filed. He grossly abused his right of recourse to the courts by filing
multiple petitions or complaints for a cause that had been previously rejected in the false hope of
getting some favorable action, somehow, thus, obstructing the administration of justice. 11 He
was derelict in his duty as counsel to maintain such actions or proceedings only as appears to
A.C. No. 7325 January 21, 2015 In addition, Villahermosa claimed that Atty. Caracol introduced falsified and manufactured
evidence intothe proceedings. Atty. Caracol, in introducing a document denominated asWaiver
of Rights where Efren waived all his rights in favor of Ernesto Aguirre, was able to secure the
DR. DOMICIANO F. VILLAHERMOSA, SR., Complainant,
execution of the judgment in one of the cases12 in favor of Ernesto Aguirre. Villahermosa also
vs.
filed a case13 for falsification of public document and use of falsified document against Ernesto
ATTY. ISIDRO L. CARACOL, Respondent.
Aguirre and Atty. Caracol.14

RESOLUTION
Atty. Caracol insists that Efren and Ernesto authorized him to appear as "additional counsel". He
said that he had consulted Atty. Aquino who advised him to go ahead with the filing. Moreover,
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: he stated that he was not aware that there was a waiver of rights executed in Ernesto Aguirre’s
favor.
Before us is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by Dr. Domiciano F. Villahermosa, Sr., against
Atty. Isidro L. Caracol for deceit, gross misconduct and violation of oath under Section 27, 2 Rule In its Report and Recommendation,15 the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar
138 of the Rules of Court. Discipline (IBP CBD) found that Atty. Caracol committed deceitful acts and misconduct. It found
that respondent did not present credible evidence to controvert the allegation that he was not
authorized by plaintiff or counsel of record. Respondent admitted that at the time of the filing of
Villahermosa is respondent in two land cases3 involving cancellation of emancipation patents
the second motion, Efren was dead. It noted that Atty. Caracol did not explain how he obtained
and transfer certificates of title, cancellation of special power of attorney and deeds of absolute the authority nor did he present any proof of the authority. However, there was insufficient
sale and recovery of ownership and possession of parcels of land derived from Original evidence to hold him liable for falsification.
Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 433 which covered 23.3018 hectares of land in Valencia, Bukidnon.
Counsel on record for plaintiff was Atty. Fidel Aquino.
The IBP CBD stated that Atty. Caracol clearly misled and misrepresented to the DARAB, Region
X that he was counsel of Efren to protect the interest of Ernesto Aguirre, his real client, violating
OCT No. 433 was a homestead patent granted to Micael Babela who had two sons, Fernando
his oath as a lawyer. It thus recommended that Atty. Caracol be suspended from the practice of
and Efren. As legal heirs of Micael, Fernando received 53,298 square meters while Efren law for a period of five years.
received 33,296 square meters. Subsequently, Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) were issued
in their respective names.
The IBP Board of Governors adopted the report and recommendation but modified the penalty to
one year suspension from the practice of law.16 Atty. Caracol moved for reconsideration17 but
When the agrarian reform law4 was enacted on October 21, 1972, emancipation patents and was denied.18
titles were issued to Hermogena and Danilo Nipotnipot, beneficiaries of the program,who in turn
sold the parcels of land to complainant’s spouse, Raymunda Villahermosa. A deed of absolute
sale was executed in favor of Raymunda. Atty. Caracol filed a notice of appeal19 which this Court returned to him since no legal fees are
required in administrative cases.20
On March 2, 1994, the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) issued a
decision ordering the cancellation of the emancipation patents and TCTs derived from OCT No. We adopt the findings of the IBP.
433 stating that it was not covered by the agrarian reform law. This decision was appealed to
and affirmed by the DARAB Central Board and the Court of Appeals.
The Rules of Court under Rule 138, Section 21 provides for a presumption of a lawyer’s
appearance on behalf of his client, hence:
On September 25, 2002, Atty. Caracol, as "Add’l Counsel for the Plaintiffs-Movant," filed a
motion for execution with the DARAB, Malaybalay, Bukidnon praying for the full implementation
SEC. 21. Authority of attorney to appear. – An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to
of the March 2, 1994 decision.5
represent any cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney isrequired to
authorize him to appear in court for his client, butthe presiding judge may, on motion of either
On December 20, 2005, Atty. Caracol filed a Motion for Issuance of Second Alias Writ of party and on reasonable grounds therefor being shown, require any attorney who assumes the
Execution and Demolition6which he signed as "Counsel for the Plaintiff Efren Babela"7. right to appear in a case to produce or prove the authority under which he appears, and to
Villahermosa filed this complaint8 alleging that Atty. Caracol had no authority to file the motions disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the person who employed him, and may
since he obtained no authority from the plaintiffs and the counsel of record. Villahermosa posited thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorney willfully appearing in court for a
that Efren could not have authorized Atty. Caracol to file the second motion because Efren had person without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for contemptas
already been dead9 for more than a year. He claimed that Atty. Caracol’s real client was a an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions. (Emphases supplied)
certain Ernesto I. Aguirre, who had allegedly bought the same parcel of land. Villahermosa
presented affidavits of Efren’s widow10and daughter11 both stating that Efren never executed a
In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Pamintuan Dev’t. Co.,21 this Court said that while a lawyer is
waiver of rights and that the parcel of land was sold to Villahermosa through a deed of sale. Both
not required to present proof of his representation, when a court requires that he show
also stated that they werefamiliar with Efren’s signature. They state that the signature inthe
suchauthorization, it is imperative that he show his authority to act. Thus:
waiver was different from his usual signature. Villahermosa averred that Atty. Caracol committed
deceit and gross misconduct.
A lawyer is not even required to present a written authorization from the client. In fact, the
absence of a formal notice of entry of appearance will not invalidate the acts performed by the
counsel in his client’s name. However, [a] court, on its own initiative or on motion of the other This flows out from the lawyer's oath which each lawyer solemnly swears to uphold the law and
party may require a lawyer to adduce authorization from the client. 22 court processes in the pursuit of justice. Thus, a lawyer must be more circumspect in his
demeanor and attitude towards the public in general as agents of the judicial system.
Lawyers must be mindful that an attorney has no power to act as counsel for a person without
being retained nor may he appear in court without being employed unless by leave of court. 23 If Here, Atty. Caracol, as observed by the IBP CBD, has been less than candid about his
an attorney appears on a client’s behalf without a retainer or the requisite authority neither the representation. We also observe that he has used underhanded means to attain his purpose.
litigant whom he purports to represent nor the adverse party may be bound or affected by his Atty. Caracol's blatant disregard of his duties as a lawyer cannot be countenanced. In view of his
appearance unless the purported client ratifies or is estopped to deny his assumed authority.24 If actions of contravening his lawyer's oath and in violation of Canons 8 and 10 and Rule 10.01 of
a lawyer corruptly or willfully appears as an attorney for a party toa case without authority, he the Code of Professional Responsibility we deem it proper to suspend him from the practice of
may be disciplined or punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in law for a period of one year.
his official transaction.25
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Isidro L. Caracol GUILTY. Accordingly, we SUSPEND
We must also take into consideration that even if a lawyer is retained by a client, an attorney- respondent Atty. Isidro L. Caracol from the practice of law for ONE YEAR effective upon finality
client relationship terminates upon death of either client or the lawyer. 26 of this Resolution, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be
dealt with more severely.
Here, Atty. Caracol was presumed to have authority when he appeared in the proceedings
before the DARAB. The records are unclear at what point his authority to appear for Efren was Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to
questioned. Neither is there any indication that Villahermosa in fact questioned his authority respondent's personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the
during the course of the proceedings. Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.

However, Atty. Caracol knew that Efren had already passed away at the time he filed the Motion SO ORDERED.
for Issuance of Second Alias Writ of Execution and Demolition. As an honest, prudent and
conscientious lawyer, he should have informed the Court of his client’s passing and presented
authority that he was retained by the client’s successors-in-interest and thus the parties may
have been substituted.27

We also note the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz in People v. Mendoza28 where he
stated:

I am bothered by the improvident plea of guilty made by accused Juan Magalop, presumably
upon the adviceof his counsel, Atty. Isidro L. Caracol of the CLAO (now the PAO). It would seem
that this lawyer was less than conscientious when he advised his indigent client to admit a crime
the man did no[t] commit. As the ponenciaobserves, "outside of his improvident plea of guilt,
there is absolutely no evidence against him – presented or forthcoming. From the evidence of
the prosecution, there is no way by which Magalop could have been implicated."

It seems to me that if any one is guilty in this case, it is the PAO lawyer who, through an
incredible lack of zeal in the discharge of his duties, was apparently willing, without any moral
compunctions at all, and without proof, to consign an innocent man to prison.

The PAO is supposed to defend the accused, not to condemn them without cause.1âwphi1 The
defense counsel in this case did not seem to appreciate this responsibility when he prodded
Magalop to plead guilty and waived the right to submit evidence in his behalf. 29

While this observation does not serve to exacerbate Atty. Caracol’s liability under the present
circumstances, we would like to highlight the important role of an attorney in our judicial system.
Because of the particular nature of an attorney’s function it is essential that they should act with
fairness, honesty and candor towards the courts and his clients. 30 Under Rule 10.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility:

A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he
mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.
G.R. No. 124893 April 18, 1997 Acting on the Fax "Petition for Denial And/Or Cancellation of Certificate of
Candidacy" by petitioner Florencio G. Sales, Jr. against Lynette G. Garvida,
received on April 29, 1996, the pertinent allegations of which reads:
LYNETTE G. GARVIDA, petitioner,
vs.
FLORENCIO G. SALES, JR., THE HONORABLE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ELECTION xxx xxx xxx
OFFICER DIONISIO F. RIOS and PROVINCIAL SUPERVISOR NOLI PIPO, respondents.
5. That the said respondent is disqualified to become a voter and a
candidate for the SK for the reason that she will be more than twenty-one
(21) years of age on May 6, 1996; that she was born on June 11, 1974 as
can be gleaned from her birth certificate, copy of which is hereto attached
PUNO, J.:
and marked as Annex "A";

Petitioner Lynette G. Garvida seeks to annul and set aside the order dated May 2, 1996 of
6. That in filing her certificate of candidacy as candidate for SK of Bgy. San
respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc suspending her proclamation as the
Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte, she made material representation which is
duly elected Chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay San Lorenzo, Municipality of
false and as such, she is disqualified; that her certificate of candidacy
Bangui, Ilocos Norte.
should not be given due course and that said candidacy must be cancelled;

The facts are undisputed. The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections nationwide was scheduled
xxx xxx xxx
to be held on May 6, 1996. On March 16, 1996, petitioner applied for registration as member and
voter of the Katipunan ng Kabataan of Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. The Board
of Election Tellers, however, denied her application on the ground that petitioner, who was then the Commission, it appearing that the petition is meritorious, hereby
twenty-one years and ten (10) months old, exceeded the age limit for membership in the DIRECTS the Board of Election Tellers/Board of Canvassers of Barangay
Katipunan ng Kabataan as laid down in Section 3 [b] of COMELEC Resolution No. 2824. San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte, to suspend the proclamation of Lynette
G. Garvida in the event she garners the highest number of votes for the
position of Sangguniang Kabataan [sic].
On April 2, 1996, petitioner filed a "Petition for Inclusion as Registered Kabataang Member and
Voter" with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Bangui-Pagudpud-Adams-Damalneg, Ilocos Norte.
In a decision dated April 18, 1996, the said court found petitioner qualified and ordered her Meantime, petitioner is hereby required to submit immediately ten (10)
registration as member and voter in the Katipunan ng Kabataan. 1 The Board of Election Tellers copies of his petition and to pay the filing and legal research fees in the
appealed to the Regional Trial Court, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. 2 The presiding judge of the Regional amount of P510.00.
Trial Court, however, inhibited himself from acting on the appeal due to his close association
with petitioner. 3
SO ORDERED. 9

On April 23, 1996, petitioner filed her certificate of candidacy for the position of Chairman,
On May 6, 1996, election day, petitioner garnered 78 votes as against private respondent's
Sangguniang Kabataan, Barangay San Lorenzo, Municipality of Bangui, Province of Ilocos
votes of 76. 10 In accordance with the May 2, 1996 order of the COMELEC en banc, the Board of
Norte. In a letter dated April 23, 1996, respondent Election Officer Dionisio F. Rios, per advice of
Election Tellers did not proclaim petitioner as the winner. Hence, the instant petition
Provincial Election Supervisor Noli Pipo, 4 disapproved petitioner's certificate of candidacy again
for certiorari was filed on May 27, 1996.
due to her age. 5 Petitioner, however, appealed to COMELEC Regional Director Filemon A.
Asperin who set aside the order of respondents and allowed petitioner to run. 6
On June 2, 1996, however, the Board of Election Tellers proclaimed petitioner the winner for the
position of SK chairman, Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. 11 The proclamation was
On May 2, 1996, respondent Rios issued a memorandum to petitioner informing her of her
"without prejudice to any further action by the Commission on Elections or any other interested
ineligibility and giving her 24 hours to explain why her certificate of candidacy should not be
party." 12 On July 5, 1996, petitioner ran in the Pambayang Pederasyon ng mga Sangguniang
disapproved. 7 Earlier and without the knowledge of the COMELEC officials, private respondent
Kabataan for the municipality of Bangui, Ilocos Norte. She won as Auditor and was proclaimed
Florencio G. Sales, Jr., a rival candidate for Chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan, filed with
one of the elected officials of the Pederasyon. 13
the COMELEC en banc a "Petition of Denial and/or Cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy"
against petitioner Garvida for falsely representing her age qualification in her certificate of
candidacy. The petition was sent by facsimile 8 and registered mail on April 29, 1996 to the Petitioner raises two (2) significant issues: the first concerns the jurisdiction of the COMELEC en
Commission on Elections National Office, Manila. banc to act on the petition to deny or cancel her certificate of candidacy; the second, the
cancellation of her certificate of candidacy on the ground that she has exceeded the age
requirement to run as an elective official of the SK.
On May 2, 1996, the same day respondent Rios issued the memorandum to petitioner, the
COMELEC en bancissued an order directing the Board of Election Tellers and Board of
Canvassers of Barangay San Lorenzo to suspend the proclamation of petitioner in the event she I
won in the election. The order reads as follows:
Section 532 (a) of the Local Government Code of 1991 provides that the conduct of the SK
elections is under the supervision of the COMELEC and shall be governed by the Omnibus
Election Code. 14 The Omnibus Election Code, in Section 78, Article IX, governs the procedure Sec. 3. Form of Pleadings, etc. — (a) All pleadings allowed by these Rules
to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy, viz: shall be printed, mimeographed or typewritten on legal size bond paper and
shall be in English or Filipino.
Sec. 78. Petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy.
— A verified petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of xxx xxx xxx
candidacy may be filed by any person exclusively on the ground that any
material representation contained therein as required under Section 74
Every pleading before the COMELEC must be printed, mimeographed or typewritten
hereof is false. The petition may be filed at any time not later than twenty-
in legal size bond paper and filed in at least ten (10) legible copies. Pleadings must be
five days from the time of filing of the certificate of candidacy and shall be
filed directly with the proper Clerk of Court of the COMELEC personally, or, by
decided, after due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before
registered mail.
election.

In the instant case, the subject petition was not in proper form. Only two (2) copies of the petition
In relation thereto, Rule 23 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides that a
were filed with the COMELEC. 19 Also, the COMELEC en banc issued its Resolution on the
petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy for an elective office
basis of the petition transmitted by facsimile, not by registered mail.
may be filed with the Law Department of the COMELEC on the ground that the
candidate has made a false material representation in his certificate. The petition may
be heard and evidence received by any official designated by the COMELEC after A facsimile or fax transmission is a process involving the transmission and reproduction of
which the case shall be decided by the COMELEC itself. 15 printed and graphic matter by scanning an original copy, one elemental area at a time, and
representing the shade or tone of each area by a specified amount of electric current. 20 The
current is transmitted as a signal over regular telephone lines or via microwave relay and is used
Under the same Rules of Procedure, jurisdiction over a petition to cancel a certificate of
by the receiver to reproduce an image of the elemental area in the proper position and the
candidacy lies with the COMELEC sitting in Division, not en banc. Cases before a Division may
correct shade. 21 The receiver is equipped with a stylus or other device that produces a printed
only be entertained by the COMELEC en banc when the required number of votes to reach a
record on paper referred to as a facsimile. 22
decision, resolution, order or ruling is not obtained in the Division. Moreover, only motions to
reconsider decisions, resolutions, orders or rulings of the COMELEC in Division are resolved by
the COMELEC en banc. 16 It is therefore the COMELEC sitting in Divisions that can hear and Filing a pleading by facsimile transmission is not sanctioned by the COMELEC Rules of
decide election cases. This is clear from Section 3 of the said Rules thus: Procedure, much less by the Rules of Court. A facsimile is not a genuine and authentic pleading.
It is, at best, an exact copy preserving all the marks of an original. 23 Without the original, there is
no way of determining on its face whether the facsimile pleading is genuine and authentic and
Sec. 3. The Commission Sitting in Divisions. — The Commission shall sit in
was originally signed by the party and his counsel. It may, in fact, be a sham pleading. The
two (2) Divisions to hear and decide protests or petitions in ordinary actions,
uncertainty of the authenticity of a facsimile pleading should have restrained the COMELEC en
special actions, special cases, provisional remedies, contempt and special
banc from acting on the petition and issuing the questioned order. The COMELEC en
proceedings except in accreditation of citizens' arms of the Commission. 17
banc should have waited until it received the petition filed by registered mail.

In the instant case, the COMELEC en banc did not refer the case to any of its Divisions upon
III
receipt of the petition. It therefore acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion
when it entertained the petition and issued the order of May 2, 1996. 18
To write finis to the case at bar, we shall now resolve the issue of petitioner's age.
II
The Katipunan ng Kabataan was originally created by Presidential Decree No. 684 in 1975 as
the Kabataang Barangay, a barangay youth organization composed of all residents of the
The COMELEC en banc also erred when it failed to note that the petition itself did not comply
barangay who were at least 15 years but less than 18 years of age. 24 The Kabataang Barangay
with the formal requirements of pleadings under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. These
sought to provide its members a medium to express their views and opinions and participate in
requirements are:
issues of transcendental importance. 25 Its affairs were administered by a barangay youth
chairman together with six barangay youth leaders who were actual residents of the barangay
Sec. 1. Filing of Pleadings. — Every pleading, motion and other papers and were at least 15 years but less than 18 years of age. 26 In 1983, Batas Pambansa Blg. 337,
must be filed in ten (10) legible copies. However, when there is more than then the Local Government Code, raised the maximum age of the Kabataang Barangay
one respondent or protestee, the petitioner or protestant must file additional members from "less than 18 years of age" to "not more than 21 years of age."
number of copies of the petition or protest as there are additional
respondents or protestees.
The Local Government Code of 1991 changed the Kabataang Barangay into the Katipunan ng
Kabataan. It, however, retained the age limit of the members laid down in B.P. 337 at 15 but not
Sec. 2. How Filed. — The documents referred to in the immediately more than 21 years old. 27 The affairs of the Katipunan ng Kabataan are administered by the
preceding section must be filed directly with the proper Clerk of Court of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) composed of a chairman and seven (7) members who are elected
Commission personally, or, unless otherwise provided in these Rules, by by the Katipunan ng Kabataan. 28 The chairman automatically becomes ex-officio member of the
registered mail. In the latter case, the date of mailing is the date of filing and Sangguniang Barangay. 29 A member of the SK holds office for a term of three (3) years, unless
the requirement as to the number of copies must be complied with. sooner removed for cause, or becomes permanently incapacitated, dies or resigns from office. 30
Membership in the Katipunan ng Kabataan is subject to specific qualifications laid down by the a) a qualified voter;
Local Government Code of 1991, viz:
b) a resident in the barangay for at least one (1) year immediately prior to
Sec. 424. Katipunan ng Kabataan. — The katipunan ng kabataan shall be the elections; and
composed of all citizens of the Philippines actually residing in the barangay
for at least six (6) months, who are fifteen (15) but not more than twenty-one
c) able to read and write Filipino or any Philippine language or dialect or
(21) years of age, and who are duly registered in the list of the sangguniang
English.
kabataan or in the official barangay list in the custody of the barangay
secretary.
Cases involving the eligibility or qualification of candidates shall be decided
by the city/municipal Election Officer (EO) whose decision shall be final.
A member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan may become a candidate for the
Sangguniang Kabataan if he possesses the following qualifications:
A member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan may be a qualified voter in the May 6, 1996
SK elections if he is: (a) a Filipino citizen; (b) 15 but not more than 21 years of age on
Sec. 428. Qualifications. — An elective official of the sangguniang kabataan
election day, i.e., the voter must be born between May 6, 1975 and May 6, 1981,
must be a citizen of the Philippines, a qualified voter of the katipunan ng
inclusive; and (c) a resident of the Philippines for at least one (1) year and an actual
kabataan, a resident of the barangay for at least one (1) year immediately
resident of the barangay at least six (6) months immediately preceding the elections. A
prior to election, at least fifteen (15) years but not more than twenty-one (21)
candidate for the SK must: (a) possess the foregoing qualifications of a voter; (b) be a
years of age on the day of his election, able to read and write Filipino,
resident in the barangay at least one (1) year immediately preceding the elections;
English, or the local dialect, and must not have been convicted of any crime
and (c) able to read and write.
involving moral turpitude.

Except for the question of age, petitioner has all the qualifications of a member and voter in the
Under Section 424 of the Local Government Code, a member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan
Katipunan ng Kabataan and a candidate for the Sangguniang Kabataan. Petitioner 's age is
must be: (a) a Filipino citizen; (b) an actual resident of the barangay for at least six months; (c)
admittedly beyond the limit set in Section 3 [b] of COMELEC Resolution No. 2824. Petitioner,
15 but not more than 21 years of age; and (d) duly registered in the list of the Sangguniang
however, argues that Section 3 [b] of Resolution No. 2824 is unlawful, ultra vires and beyond the
Kabataan or in the official barangay list. Section 428 of the Code requires that an elective official
scope of Sections 424 and 428 of the Local Government Code of 1991. She contends that the
of the Sangguniang Kabataan must be: (a) a Filipino citizen; (b) a qualified voter in the
Code itself does not provide that the voter must be exactly 21 years of age on election day. She
Katipunan ng Kabataan; (c) a resident of the barangay at least one (1) year immediately
urges that so long as she did not turn twenty-two (22) years old, she was still twenty-one years
preceding the election; (d) at least 15 years but not more than 21 years of age on the day of his
of age on election day and therefore qualified as a member and voter in the Katipunan ng
election; (e) able to read and write; and (f) must not have been convicted of any crime involving
Kabataan and as candidate for the SK elections.
moral turpitude.

A closer look at the Local Government Code will reveal a distinction between the maximum age
For the May 6, 1996 SK elections, the COMELEC interpreted Sections 424 and 428 of the Local
of a member in the Katipunan ng Kabataan and the maximum age of an elective SK official.
Government Code of 1991 in Resolution No. 2824 and defined how a member of the Katipunan
Section 424 of the Code sets a member's maximum age at 21 years only. There is no further
ng Kabataan becomes a qualified voter and an elective official. Thus:
provision as to when the member shall have turned 21 years of age. On the other hand, Section
428 provides that the maximum age of an elective SK official is 21 years old "on the day of his
Sec. 3. Qualifications of a voter. — To be qualified to register as a voter in election." The addition of the phrase "or the day of his election" is an additional qualification. The
the SK elections, a person must be: member may be more than 21 years of age on election day or on the day he registers as
member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan. The elective official, however, must not be more than 21
years old on the day of election. The distinction is understandable considering that the Code
a) a citizen of the Philippines;
itself provides more qualifications for an elective SK official than for a member of the Katipunan
ng Kabataan. Dissimilum dissimilis est ratio. 31 The courts may distinguish when there are facts
b) fifteen (15) but not more than twenty-one (21) years of age on election and circumstances showing that the legislature intended a distinction or qualification. 32
day that is, he must have been born between May 6, 1975 and May 6, 1981,
inclusive; and
The qualification that a voter in the SK elections must not be more than 21 years of age on the
day of the election is not provided in Section 424 of the Local Government Code of 1991. In fact
c) a resident of the Philippines for at least one (1) year and actually residing the term "qualified voter" appears only in COMELEC Resolution No. 2824. 33 Since a "qualified
in the barangay wherein he proposes to vote for at least six (6) months voter" is not necessarily an elective official, then it may be assumed that a "qualified voter" is a
immediately preceding the elections. "member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan." Section 424 of the Code does not provide that the
maximum age of a member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan is determined on the day of the
election. Section 3 [b] of COMELEC Resolution No. 2824 is therefore ultra vires insofar as it sets
xxx xxx xxx the age limit of a voter for the SK elections at exactly 21 years on the day of the election.

Sec. 6. Qualifications of elective members. — An elective official of the SK The provision that an elective official of the SK should not be more than 21 years of age on the
must be: day of his election is very clear. The Local Government Code speaks of years, not months nor
days. When the law speaks of years, it is understood that years are of 365 days each. 34 One In the case at bar, petitioner was born on June 11, 1974. On March 16, 1996, the day she
born on the first day of the year is consequently deemed to be one year old on the 365th day registered as voter for the May 6, 1996 SK elections, petitioner was twenty-one (21) years and
after his birth — the last day of the year. 35 In computing years, the first year is reached after nine (9) months old. On the day of the elections, she was 21 years, 11 months and 5 days old.
completing the first 365 days. After the first 365th day, the first day of the second 365-day cycle When she assumed office on June 1, 1996, she was 21 years, 11 months and 20 days old and
begins. On the 365th day of the second cycle, the person turns two years old. This cycle goes was merely ten (10) days away from turning 22 years old. Petitioner may have qualified as a
on and on in a lifetime. A person turns 21 years old on the 365th day of his 21st 365-day cycle. member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan but definitely, petitioner was over the age limit for
This means on his 21st birthday, he has completed the entire span of 21 365-day cycles. After elective SK officials set by Section 428 of the Local Government Code and Sections 3 [b] and 6
this birthday, the 365-day cycle for his 22nd year begins. The day after the 365th day is the first of Comelec Resolution No. 2824. She was ineligible to run as candidate for the May 6, 1996
day of the next 365-day cycle and he turns 22 years old on the 365th day. Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

The phrase "not more than 21 years of age" means not over 21 years, not beyond 21 years. It The requirement that a candidate possess the age qualification is founded on public policy and if
means 21 365-day cycles. It does not mean 21 years and one or some days or a fraction of a he lacks the age on the day of the election, he can be declared ineligible. 41 In the same vein, if
year because that would be more than 21 365-day cycles. "Not more than 21 years old" is not the candidate is over the maximum age limit on the day of the election, he is ineligible. The fact
equivalent to "less than 22 years old," contrary to petitioner's claims. The law does not state that that the candidate was elected will not make the age requirement directory, nor will it validate his
the candidate be less than 22 years on election day. election. 42 The will of the people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of
ineligibility. 43
In P.D. 684, the law that created the Kabataang Barangay, the age qualification of a barangay
youth official was expressly stated as ". . . at least fifteen years of age or over but less than The ineligibility of petitioner does not entitle private respondent, the candidate who obtained the
eighteen . . ." 36 This provision clearly states that the youth official must be at least 15 years old highest number of votes in the May 6, 1996 elections, to be declared elected. 44 A defeated
and may be 17 years and a fraction of a year but should not reach the age of eighteen years. candidate cannot be deemed elected to the office. 45 Moreover, despite his claims, 46 private
When the Local Government Code increased the age limit of members of the youth organization respondent has failed to prove that the electorate themselves actually knew of petitioner's
to 21 years, it did not reenact the provision in such a way as to make the youth "at least 15 but ineligibility and that they maliciously voted for her with the intention of misapplying their
less than 22 years old." If the intention of the Code's framers was to include citizens less than 22 franchises and throwing away their votes for the benefit of her rival candidate. 47
years old, they should have stated so expressly instead of leaving the matter open to confusion
and doubt. 37
Neither can this Court order that pursuant to Section 435 of the Local Government Code
petitioner should be succeeded by the Sangguniang Kabataan member who obtained the next
Former Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, the sponsor and principal author of the Local Government highest number of votes in the May 6, 1996 elections. 48 Section 435 applies when a
Code of 1991 declared that one of the reasons why the Katipunan ng Kabataan was created and Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman "refuses to assume office, fails to qualify, 49 is convicted of a
the Kabataang Barangay discontinued was because most, if not all, Kabataang Barangay felony, voluntarily resigns, dies, is permanently incapacitated, is removed from office, or has
leaders were already over 21 years of age by the time President Aquino assumed been absent without leave for more than three (3) consecutive months."
power. 38 They were not the "youth" anymore. The Local Government Code of 1991 fixed the
maximum age limit at not more than 21 years 39 and the only exception is in the second
The question of the age qualification is a question of eligibility.50 Being "eligible" means being
paragraph of Section 423 which reads:
"legally qualified; capable of being legally chosen." 51 Ineligibility, on the other hand, refers to the
lack of the qualifications prescribed in the Constitution or the statutes for holding public
Sec. 423. Creation and Election. — office. 52 Ineligibility is not one of the grounds enumerated in Section 435 for succession of the
SK Chairman.
a) . . . ;
To avoid a hiatus in the office of SK Chairman, the Court deems it necessary to order that the
vacancy be filled by the SK member chosen by the incumbent SK members of Barangay San
b) A sangguniang kabataan official who, during his term of office, shall have
Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte by simple majority from among themselves. The member chosen
passed the age of twenty-one (21) years shall be allowed to serve the
shall assume the office of SK Chairman for the unexpired portion of the term, and shall
remaining portion of the term for which he was elected.
discharge the powers and duties, and enjoy the rights and privileges appurtenant to said office.

The general rule is that an elective official of the Sangguniang Kabataan must not be
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is dismissed and petitioner Lynette G. Garvida is declared
more than 21 years of age on the day of his election. The only exception is when the
ineligible for being over the age qualification for candidacy in the May 6, 1996 elections of the
official reaches the age of 21 years during his incumbency. Section 423 [b] of the
Sangguniang Kabataan, and is ordered to vacate her position as Chairman of the Sangguniang
Code allows him to serve the remaining portion of the term for which he was elected.
Kabataan of Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. The Sangguniang Kabataan member
According to Senator Pimentel, the youth leader must have "been elected prior to his
voted by simple majority by and from among the incumbent Sangguniang Kabataan members of
21st birthday." 40 Conversely, the SK official must not have turned 21 years old before
Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte shall assume the office of Sangguniang Kabataan
his election. Reading Section 423 [b] together with Section 428 of the Code, the latest
Chairman of Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte for the unexpired portion of the term.
date at which an SK elective official turns 21 years old is on the day of his election.
The maximum age of a youth official must therefore be exactly 21 years on election
day. Section 3 [b] in relation to Section 6 [a] of COMELEC Resolution No. 2824 is SO ORDERED.
not ultra vires insofar as it fixes the maximum age of an elective SK official on the day
of his election.
RE : SUSPENSION OF ATTY. ADM. CASE No. 7006
ROGELIO Z. BAGABUYO, FORMER of murder, punishable with reclusion perpetua, was not subject to bail under Sec. 4, Rule 114 of
SENIOR STATE PROSECUTOR Present:
the Rules of Court.[1]
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ.
CARPIO, In an Order dated August 30, 2002,[2] Judge Buyser inhibited himself from further
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA, trying the case because of the harsh insinuation of Senior Prosecutor Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo that
CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA, he lacks the cold neutrality of an impartial magistrate, by allegedly suggesting the filing of
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
the motion to fix the amount of bail bond by counsel for the accused.
GARCIA,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ.
The case was transferred to Branch 29 of the RTC of Surigao City, presided by Judge
Promulgated:
October 9, 2007 Jose Manuel P. Tan. In an Order dated November 12, 2002, Judge Tan favorably
X ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ X
resolved the Motion to Fix the Amount of Bail Bond, and fixed the amount of the bond
DECISION
at P40,000.
AZCUNA, J.:

Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order dated November 12, 2002,

This administrative case stemmed from the events of the proceedings in Crim. Case which motion was denied for lack of merit in an Order dated February 10, 2003. In October,

No. 5144, entitled People v. Luis Bucalon Plaza, heard before the sala of Presiding Judge Jose 2003, respondent appealed from the Orders dated November 12, 2002 and February 10, 2003,

Manuel P. Tan, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Surigao City, Branch 29. to the Court of Appeals (CA).

Crim. Case No. 5144 was originally raffled to the sala of Judge Floripinas C. Buyser, Instead of availing himself only of judicial remedies, respondent caused the publication

RTC of Surigao City, Branch 30. In an Order dated March 14, 2002, Judge Buyser denied the of an article regarding the Order granting bail to the accused in the August 18, 2003 issue of the

Demurrer to the Evidence of the accused, declaring that the evidence thus presented by the Mindanao Gold Star Daily. The article, entitled Senior prosecutor lambasts Surigao judge for

prosecution was sufficient to prove the crime of homicide and not the charge of murder. allowing murder suspect to bail out, reads:

Consequently, the counsel for the defense filed a Motion to Fix the Amount of Bail
SENIOR state prosecutor has lashed at a judge
in Surigao City for allowing a murder suspect to go out on bail.
Bond. Respondent Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo, then Senior State Prosecutor and the deputized
Senior state prosecutor Rogelio Bagabuyo lambasted Judge
prosecutor of the case, objected thereto mainly on the ground that the original charge Manuel Tan of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 29 based
in Surigao City for ruling on a motion that sought a bailbond
for Luis Plaza who stands charged with murdering a policeman . . . .
Plaza reportedly posted a P40-thousand bail bond. court why he printed such lies, Mr. Francisco answered that his only source was

Bagabuyo argued that the crime of murder is a non-bailable respondent.[4] Mr. Francisco clarified that in the statement alleging that Judge Buyser inhibited
offense. But Bagabuyo admitted that a judge could still opt to allow a murder
suspect to bail out in cases when the evidence of the prosecution is weak.
himself from the case for an unclear reason, the phrase for an unclear reason, was added by the
But in this murder case, Bagabuyo said the judge who previously
handled it, Judge F[lori]pinas B[uy]ser, described the evidence to be newspapers Executive Editor Herby S. Gomez.[5]
strong. B[uy]ser inhibited from the case for an unclear reason.

xxx
Respondent admitted that he caused the holding of the press conference, but refused
Bagabuyo said he would contest Tans decision before the Court
of Appeals and would file criminal and administrative charges
to answer whether he made the statements in the article until after he shall have filed a motion to
of certiorari against the judge.

Bagabuyuo said he was not afraid of being cited in contempt by dismiss. For his refusal to answer, the trial court declared him in contempt of court pursuant to
Judge Tan.
Sec. 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.[6] The Courts Order dated September 30, 2003 reads:
This is the only way that the public would know that there are
judges there who are displaying judicial arrogance. he said. [3]

ORDER
In an Order dated August 21, 2003, the RTC of Surigao City, Branch 29, directed Mr. Mark Francisco for publishing this article which is a lie clothed
in half truth to give it a semblance of truth is hereby ordered to pay a fine
respondent and the writer of the article, Mark Francisco of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, to of P10,000. Prosecutor Bagabuyo, for obstinately refusing to explain why he
should not be cited for contempt and admitting that the article published in
appear in court on September 20, 2003 to explain why they should not be cited for indirect the Mindanao Gold Star Daily on August 18, 2003 and quoted in the Order
of this Court dated August 21, 2003 which is contemptuous was caused by
him to be published, is hereby adjudged to have committed indirect
contempt of court for the publication of the article which degraded the court and its presiding
contempt of Court pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court
and he is hereby ordered to suffer the penalty of 30 days in jail. The BJMP
judge with its lies and misrepresentation. is hereby ordered to arrest Prosecutor Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo if he does not
put up a bond of P100,000.00.

SO ORDERD.[7]
The said Order stated that contrary to the statements in the article, Judge Buyser

described the evidence for the prosecution as not strong, but sufficient to prove the guilt of the

accused only for homicide. Moreover, it was not true that Judge Buyser inhibited himself from Respondent posted the required bond and was released from the custody of the

the case for an unclear reason. Judge Buyser, in an Order dated August 30, 2002, declared in law. He appealed the indirect contempt order to the CA.

open court in the presence of respondent that he was inhibiting himself from the case due to the

harsh insinuation of respondent that he lacked the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. Despite the citation of indirect contempt, respondent presented himself to the media

for interviews in Radio Station DXKS, and again attacked the integrity of Judge Tan and the trial

On the scheduled hearing of the contempt charge, Mark Francisco admitted that the courts disposition in the proceedings of Crim. Case No. 5144.

Mindanao Gold Star Daily caused the publication of the article. He disclosed that respondent, in

a press conference, stated that the crime of murder is non-bailable. When asked by the trial
In an Order dated October 20, 2003, the RTC of Surigao City, Branch 29, required cancelling the hearing to give Prosecutor Bagabuyo all the chances he asks for, and

respondent to explain and to show cause within five days from receipt thereof why he should not ordered him to appear on January 12, 2004 to explain in writing or orally why he should not be

be held in contempt for his media interviews that degraded the court and the presiding judge, cited in contempt of court pursuant to the facts stated in the Order dated October 20,

and why he should not be suspended from the practice of law for violating the Code of 2003. However, respondent did not appear in the scheduled hearing of January 12, 2004.

Professional Responsibility, specifically Rule 11.05 of Canon 11[8] and Rule 13.02 of Canon 13.[9]

On January 15, 2004, the trial court received respondents Answer dated January 8,

In the Order, the trial court stated that respondent was interviewed by Jun Clergio, and 2004. Respondent denied the charge that he sought to be interviewed by radio station

that the interview was repeatedly aired on September 30, 2003 and in his news program DXKS. He, however, stated that right after the hearing of September 30, 2003, he was

between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. on October 1, 2003. He was also interviewed by Tony Consing on approached by someone who asked him to comment on the Order issued in open court, and that

October 1 and 2, 2003, between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. in his radio program.In those radio his comment does not fall within the concept of indirect contempt of court. He also admitted that

interviews, respondent allegedly called Judge Tan a judge who does not know the law, a liar, he was interviewed by his friend, Tony Consing, at the latters instance. He justified his response

and a dictator who does not accord due process to the people. during the interview as a simple exercise of his constitutional right of freedom of speech and that

it was not meant to offend or malign, and was without malice.

The hearing for the second contempt charge was set on December 4, 2003.

On February 8, 2004, the trial court issued an Order, the dispositive portion of which

On November, 20, 2003, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Extension of Time to reads:
WHEREFORE, finding preponderant evidence that Prosecutor
File Answer to Contempt alleging that he was saddled with work of equal importance and Bagabuyo has grossly violated the Canons of the legal profession and [is]
guilty of grave professional misconduct, rendering him unfit to continue to be
needed ample time to answer the same. He also prayed for a bill of particulars in order to entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging to the office of an
attorney, he is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law.
properly prepare for his defense. Likewise, he is also found guilty of indirect contempt of court, for
which he is hereby ordered to suffer the penalty of IMPRISONMENT for
ninety (90) days to be served at the Surigao City Jail and to pay the
maximum fine of THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000.00). Future acts of
In an Order dated November 20, 2003, the trial court denied the motion. It stated that contempt will be dealt with more severely.

a bill of particulars is not applicable in contempt proceedings, and that respondentsactions and Let copies of the relevant records be immediately forwarded to
the Supreme Court for automatic review and for further determination of
grounds for [the] disbarment of Prosecutor Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo. [10]
statements are detailed in the Order of October 20, 2003.

The trial court found respondents denials to be lame as the tape of his interview
On the scheduled hearing of December 4, 2003 respondent neither appeared in court
on October 2, 2003, duly transcribed, showed disrespect of the court and its officers, thus:
nor informed the court of his absence. The trial court issued an Order dated December 4, 2003
TONY CONSING: Fiscal, nanglabay ang mga oras, nanglabay ingon ug kantidad
ang gamayng panahon ang samad sa nga P100,000.00 nga bail bond. . . .
imong kasingkasing nagpabilin pa ba
ni. O ingnon nato duna na bay pagbag-o (Yes, his Order said that . . . . Why did I say that he is a liar? It states that
sa imong huna-huna karon? this Order was given in open court,
and in Gods mercy, he did not state the
(Fiscal, after the lapse of time, are you still hurt? Or have you not changed amount of P100,000.00 as bail bond. . .
your mind yet?) .)

BAGABUYO : Ang akong huna-huna kon aduna man ugaling pagbag-o ang BAGABUYO : Kay dili man lagi mahibalo sa balaod, ako
pagsiguro, ang mga Huwes nga dili siyang gui-ingnan, Your Honor, I have the right to appeal. Mibalik dayon, ug
mahibalo sa balaod tangtangon pagka miingon siya, BJMP arrest Bagabuyo.
abogado, mao kana.
(Because he does not know the law, I
(If my mind has changed at all, it is that I ensure that all judges who are said, Your Honor, I have the right to
ignorant of the law should be appeal. Then he came back and said,
disbarred. Thats it.) BJMP, arrest Bagabuyo.)

xxx xxx

BAGABUYO : Mao kana ang tinuod, Ton, ug kining akong guibatonan karon BAGABUYO : . . . P100,000.00 ang iyang guipapiyansa.
nga hunahuna mahitungod nianang mga Naunsa na? Dinhi makita nimo ang
Huwes nga dili kahibalo sa balaod, iyang pagka gross ignorance of the law.
magkadugay magkalami. Kada adlao ...
nagatoon ako. Nagabasa ako sa mga
bag-ong jurisprudence ug sa atong (He imposed a bail of P100,000.00. How come? This is where you will
balaod aron sa pagsiguro gayod nga see his gross ignorance of the law. . . . )
inigsang-at unya nako sa kaso
nga disbarmentniining di mahibalo nga xxx
Huwes, sigurado gayod ako nga
katangtangan siya sa lisensiya . . . TONY CONSING : So karon, unsay plano nimo karon?
. Ang kini nga Huwes nga dili mahibalo
sa balaod, pagatangtangon na, dili (So what is your plan now?)
lamang sa pagka-Huwes kon dili sa
pagka-abogado. Tan-awa ra gyod kining BAGABUYO : Sumala sa akong gui-ingon moundang lang ako kon
iyang gibuhat nga Order, Ton, ang iyang matangtang na siya sa pagka abogado.
pagkabakakon . . . . ...

(Thats true, Ton, and this conviction I have now about judges who are (As I have said, I will only stop if he is already disbarred. . . .)
ignorant of the law is made firmer by
time. I study everyday. I read new xxx
jurisprudence and the law to insure that
when I file the disbarment case BAGABUYO : Nasuko siya niini kay hambugero kuno, pero angayan niyang
against this Judge who does not know hibaw-an nga ang trabajo sa Huwes dili
his law, I am certain that he loses his ang pagtan-aw kon ang tawo
license. . . . This judge who is ignorant hambugero . . . . Ug ang akong gisulti
of the law should not only be removed mao lamang ang balaod nga siya in fact
as a judge but should also be at that time I said he is not conversant of
disbarred. Just take a look at his Order, the law, with regards to the case of
Ton, and see what a liar he is . . . .) murder. . . .

xxx (He got angry because I was allegedly bragging but he should know that it is
not for a judge to determine if a person
BAGABUYO : Yes, nag-ingon ang iyang Order. . . . Ngano nga nakaingon is a braggart. . . .And what I said was
ako nga bakakon kini, nag-ingon nga based on the law. In fact, at that time, I
kini konong order given in open said he is not conversant of the law, with
court, ang kalooy sa dios, ang regards to the case of murder . . . .)
iyang order sa Korte wala siya mag-
xxx

BAGABUYO : Ah, mi sit down sab ako, contempt ra ba kadto . . . . Mao


kana, pero unsa may iyang katuyoan
ang iyang katuyoan nga ipa-adto ako The trial court concluded that respondent, as a member of the bar and an officer of the
didto kay didto, iya akong pakauwawan
kay iya kong sikopon, iya kong ipa-priso, court, is duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of the court, and should notpromote
pero kay di man lagi mahibalo sa
balaod, ang iyang gui orderan BJMP,
intawon por dios por Santo, Mr. Tan, distrust in the administration of justice.
pagbasa intawon ug balaod, naunsa ka
ba Mr. Tan? Unsa may imong hunahuna
nga kon ikaw Huwes, ikaw na ang
diktador, no way, no sir, ours is a The trial court stated that it is empowered to suspend respondent from the practice of
democratic country where all and
everyone is entitled to due process of law under Sec. 28, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court[12] for any of the causes mentioned in Sec.
law you did not accord me due process
of law . . . .
27[13] of the same Rule. Respondent was given the opportunity to be heard, but he opted to be
(I sat down. . . . Thats it. But what was his purpose? He made me come in
order to humiliate me because he silent. Thus, it held that the requirement of due process has been duly satisfied.
wanted me arrested, he wanted me
imprisoned, but because he is ignorant
of the law, he ordered the BMJP. For
Gods sake, Mr. Tan, whats wrong with In accordance with the provisions of Sec. 29, [14] Rule 138 and Sec. 9,[15] Rule 139 of
you, Mr. Tan? Please read the
law. What is your thinking? That when the Rules of Court, the RTC of Surigao City, Branch 29, transmitted to the Office of the Bar
you are a judge, you are also a
dictator? No way, no sir, ours is a Confidant the Statement of Facts of respondents suspension from the practice of law, dated July
democratic country where all and
everyone is entitled to due process of
14, 2005, together with the order of suspension and other relevant documents.
law you did not accord me due process
of law. . . .)

TONY CONSING: So mopasaka kang disbarment, malaumon kita nga


maaksiyonan kini, with all this In its Report dated January 4, 2006, the Office of the Bar Confidant found that the
problem sa Korte Suprema.
article in the August 18, 2003 issue of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, which maligned the
(So you are filing a disbarment case? We hope that this be given action with
all the problems in the Supreme Court.) integrity and independence of the court and its officers, and respondents criticism of the trial
BAGABUYO : Dili ako mabalaka niana kay usa ka truck ang
akong jurisprudence, nga ang mga courts Order dated November 12, 2002, which was aired in radio station DXKS,both in
Huwes nga di mahibalo sa balaod
pagatangtangon gayod sa ilang pagka connection with Crim. Case No. 5144, constitute grave violation of oath of office by
Huwes. . . . Apan unsa man intawon ang
balaod ang iyang gibasa niini respondent. It stated that the requirement of due process was complied with when respondent
nadunggan ko nga kini kuno siya
madjongero, mao bitaw na, madjong was given an opportunity to be heard, but respondent chose to remain silent.
ang iyang guitunan?

(I am not worried because I have a truckload of jurisprudence that judges


who are ignorant of the law must be
removed from the Bench. But what law The Office of the Bar Confidant recommended the implementation of the trial courts
has he been reading? I heard that he is
a mahjong aficionado (mahjongero) and order of suspension dated February 8, 2004, and that respondent be suspended from the
that is why he is studying mahjong.[11]
practice of law for one year, with a stern warning that the repetition of a similar offense will be Respondent also violated Canon 11 when he indirectly stated that Judge Tan was

dealt with more severely. displaying judicial arrogance in the article entitled, Senior prosecutor lambasts Surigaojudge for

allowing murder suspect to bail out, which appeared in the August 18, 2003 issue of the

The Court approves the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant. It has Mindanao Gold Star Daily. Respondents statements in the article, which were made while Crim.

been reiterated in Gonzaga v. Villanueva, Jr.[16] that: Case No. 5144 was still pending in court, also violated Rule 13.02 of Canon 13, which states
A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his
oath, a patent disregard of his duties, or an odious deportment unbecoming that a lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to
an attorney. Among the grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court are deceit; malpractice; gross misconduct in office; grossly arouse public opinion for or against a party.
immoral conduct; conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; any
violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to the
practice of law; willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court;
corrupt or willful appearance as an attorney for a party to a case
without authority to do so. The grounds are not preclusive in nature even as In regard to the radio interview given to Tony Consing, respondent violated Rule 11.05
they are broad enough as to cover practically any kind of impropriety that a
lawyer does or commits in his professional career or in his private life. A of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for not resorting to the proper authorities
lawyer must at no time be wanting in probity and moral fiber which are not
only conditions precedent to his entrance to the Bar, but are likewise only for redress of his grievances against Judge Tan. Respondent also violated Canon 11 for his
essential demands for his continued membership therein.
disrespect of the court and its officer when he stated that Judge Tan was ignorant of the law,

that as a mahjong aficionado, he was studying mahjong instead of studying the law, and that he
Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute
was a liar.
and defend; and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law

as a consequence.[17] Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain obligations.[18] Canon
Respondent also violated the Lawyers Oath, as he has sworn to conduct [himself] as a
11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates a lawyer to observe and maintain the
lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the
respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and [he] should insist on similar conduct by
courts as to [his] clients.
others. Rule 11.05 of Canon 11 states that a lawyer shall submit grievances against a judge to

the proper authorities only.


As a senior state prosecutor and officer of the court, respondent should have set the

example of observing and maintaining the respect due to the courts and to judicial
Respondent violated Rule 11.05 of Canon 11 when he admittedly caused the holding
officers. Montecillo v. Gica[19] held:
of a press conference where he made statements against the Order dated November 12,
It is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the courts a
respectful attitude. As an officer of the court, it is his duty to uphold the
2002 allowing the accused in Crim. Case No. 5144 to be released on bail. dignity and authority of the court to which he owes fidelity, according to the
oath he has taken. Respect for the courts guarantees the stability of our
democratic institutions which, without such respect, would be resting on a
very shaky foundation.
The Court is not against lawyers raising grievances against erring judges but the rules

clearly provide for the proper venue and procedure for doing so, precisely because respect for

the institution must always be maintained.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo is found guilty of

violating Rule 11.05, Canon 11 and Rule 13.02, Canon 13 of the Code of Professional

Responsibility, and of violating the Lawyers Oath, for which he is SUSPENDED from the practice

of law for one (1) year effective upon finality of this Decision, with a STERN WARNING that the

repetition of a similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be

appended to respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,

the Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 115932 January 25, 1995 blasphemer; "this Honorable [sic] First Division, however, forget, that the
undersigned alsp [sic] called him a "robber" (Petition, pp. 13 bottom; 14
bottom), a "rotten manipulator" (Petition, p. 11 line 26) and "abetter" of graft
THE SPOUSES JOSE B. TIONGCO and LETICIA M. TIONGCO, petitioners,
and shady deals (Petition, p. 12 bottom, p. 13 top); On the other hand, if the
vs.
undersigned called anybody "cross-eyed," it must be because he is indeed
HON. SEVERIANO C. AGUILAR, Judge, RTC, Branch 35, Iloilo City, and the Spouses
cross-eyed — particularly when he sees but five (5) letters in an eight (8)
WILFREDO and LORENA AGUIRRE, respondents.
letter-word; Indeed, it must be a lousy Code of Professional Responsibility
and therefore stands in dire need of amendment which punishes lawyer who
RESOLUTION truthfully expose incompetent and corrupt judges before this Honorable
Supreme Court; It is therefore, respectfully submitted, that for all his pains,
the undersigned does not deserve or is entitled to the honors of being dealt
with administratively or otherwise.

DAVIDE, J.:
and prays:

In the resolution of 26 September 1994, this Court required ATTY. JOSE B. TIONGCO, as WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the undersigned respectfully prays
counsel for the petitioners, to show cause why he should not be dealt with administratively for
of this Honorable Supreme Court, that it forebear from turning the
the violation of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility considering: undersigned into a martyr to his principles.

. . . the insinuation of counsel for the petitioners that this Court did not read
Yet, he added the following:
the petition as borne out by the following statement:

WITH THE UNDERSIGNED'S RESPECTFUL APOLOGIES — AND


". . . Truly, it is hard to imagine that this Honorable
UNDYING LOVE (Constitution, Preamble, 66 word).
Court had read the petition and the annexes attached
thereto and hold that the same has "failed to sufficiently
show that the respondent Court had committed a grave It must at once be noted that Atty. Tiongco did not at all show cause why he should not be dealt
abuse of discretion in rendering the questioned with administratively for violation of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility in view
judgment". . . of his unfounded and malicious insinuation that this Court did not at all read the petition in this
case before it concluded that the petition failed to sufficiently show that the respondent court had
committed a grave abuse of discretion. Moreover, while he tried to justify as true his descriptions
which, as earlier noted, is unfounded and malicious, and considering further of the respondent judge as a "liar," "thief." perfidious," and "blasphemer" he did not offer any
his use of intemperate language in the petition, as exemplified by his excuse for his use of the rest of the intemperate words enumerated in the resolution. Worse,
characterization of the decision of the respondent Judge as having been feeling obviously frustrated at the incompleteness of the Court's enumeration of the intemperate
"crafted in order to fool the winning party"; as a "hypocritical judgment in words or phrases, he volunteered to point out that in addition to those so enumerated, he also
plaintiffs' favor"; one "you could have sworn it was the Devil who dictated it"; called the respondent judge a "robber," "rotten manipulator," "abettor" of graft and corruption,
or one with "perfidious character," although the petitioners as plaintiffs and "cross-eyed."
therein and who were the prevailing party in the decision did not appeal
therefrom; and by his charge that the respondent Judge was "a bit confused
— with that confusion which is the natural product of having been born, Atty. Tiongco's Compliance is unsatisfactory and is entirely unacceptable for the following
nurtured and brought up amongst the crowded surroundings of the non- reasons: first, he impliedly admitted the falsity of his insinuation that this Court did not read the
propertied class; In fact, His Honor, Respondent Judge, the Honorable petition' second, except as to the words "liar," "thief," "perfidious'" and "blasphemer," he failed to
Severino O. Aguilar had not owned any real property until March 5, 1974 address squarely the other intemperate words and phrases enumerated in the resolution of 26
when his Honor was already either Public-Prosecutor or RTC Judge; — in September 1994, which failure amounts to an admission of their intemperateness; third, he did
one scale of the balance, a 311 square meter lot, 6 houses from the not indicate the circumstances upon which his defense of truth lies; and, fourth, he miserably
Provincial Road, about 6 kilometers from the Iloilo City Hall of Justice, and, failed to show the relevance of the harsh words and phrase to his petition.
in the other scale, His Honor's brand-new car, impeccable attire, and
dignified "mien"; and his charge that the respondent Judge has "joined the
We do not then hesitate to rule that by falsely and maliciously insinuating that this Court did not
defendants and their counsel in a scheme to unlawfully deprive petitioners
at all read the petition in this case, Atty. Tiongco not only exhibited his gross disrespect to and
of the possession and fruits of their property for the duration of appeal"; and
contempt for this Court and exposed his plot to discredit the Members of the First Division of the
with respect to the Order of 30 May 1994, by describing the respondent
Court and put them to public contempt or ridicule; he, as well, charged them with the violation of
Judge as a "liar," "perjurer," or "blasphemer."
their solemn duty to render justice, thereby creating or promoting distrust in judicial
administration which could have the effect of "encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is
In his 2-page Compliance, dated 11 October 1994, he alleges that: the source of disorder, thus undermining the foundation on which rests the bulwark called
judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn for protection and relief" (Salcedo vs.
Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724 [1953]).
If the undersigned has called anyone a "liar" "thief" "perfidious" and
"blasphemer" it is because he is in fact a liar, thief, perfidious and
In using in the petition in this case intemperate and scurrilous words and phrases against the A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court itself, an instrument
respondent judge which are obviously uncalled for and entirely irrelevant to the petition and or agency to advance the ends of justice." [People ex rel. Karlin vs. Culkin,
whose glaring falsity is easily demonstrated by the respondent judge's decision if favor of Atty. 60 A.L.R. 851, 855]. His duty is to uphold the dignity and the authority of the
Tiongco and his wife in their case for recovery of possession and damages, and by the dismissal courts to which he owes fidelity, "not to promote distrust in the
of the instant petition for failure of the petitioners to sufficiently show that the respondent judge administration in the administration of justice." [In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595,
committed grave abuse of discretion, Atty. Tiongco has equally shown his disrespect to and 602]. faith in the courts a lawyer should seek to preserve. For, to undermine
contempt for the respondent judge, thereby diminishing public confidence in the latter and the judicial edifice "is disastrous to the continuity of the government and to
eventually, in the judiciary, or sowing mistrust in the administration of justice. the attainment of the liberties of the people." [Malcolm legal and Judicial
Ethics, 1949 ed., p. 160]. Thus has it been said of a lawyer that "[a]s an
officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not
Consequently, Atty. Tiongco has made a strong case for a serious violation of Canon 11 of the
destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so
Code of Professional Responsibility which reads as follows:
essential to the proper administration of justice." [People vs. Carillo, 77 Phil.
572, 580]. (See also In re: Rafael C. Climaco, 55 SCRA 107 [1974]).
CANON 11 — A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE AND MAINTAIN THE
RESPECT DUE TO THE COURTS AND TO JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND
It does not, however, follow that just because a lawyer is an officer of the court, he cannot
SHOULD INSIST ON SIMILAR CONDUCT BY OTHERS.
criticize the courts. That is his right as a citizen, and it is even his duty as an officer of the court
to avail of such right. Thus, In Re: Almacen (31 SCRA 562, 579-580 [1970]), this Court explicitly
This duty is closely entwined with his vow in the lawyer's oath "to conduct himself as a lawyer declared:
with all good fidelity to the courts"; his duty under Section 20 (b), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court
"[t]o observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers"; and his
Hence, as a citizen and as an officer of the court, a lawyer is expected not
duty under the first canon of the Canons Professional Ethics "to maintain towards the courts a
only to exercise the right, but also to consider it his duty to avail of such
respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the
right. No law may abridge this right. Nor is he "professionally answerable for
maintenance of its incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme
a scrutiny into the official conduct of the judge, which would not expose him
importance."
to legal animadversion as a citizen." (Case of Austin, 28 Am dec. 657, 665).

In Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer (20 SCRA 441, 444 [1967]), this Court said:
"Above all others, the members of the bar have the best
opportunity to become conversant with the character
By now, a lawyer's duties to the Court had become commonplace. Really, and efficiency of out judges. No class is less likely to
there could hardly be any valid excuse for lapses in the observance thereof. abuse the privilege, or no other class has as great an
Section 20(b), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, in categorical terms, spells interest in the preservation of an able and upright
out one such duty: "To observe and maintain the respect due to the courts bench." (State Board of Examiners in Law vs. Hart, 116
of justice and judicial officers." As explicit is the first canon of legal ethics N.W. 212, 216).
which pronounces that "[i]t is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the
Courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of
To curtail the right of a lawyer to be critical of the foibles of courts and
the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance." That
judges is to seal the lips of those in the best position to give advice and who
same canon, as a corollary, makes it peculiarly incumbent upon lawyers to
might consider it their duty to speak disparagingly. "Under such a rule," so
support the courts against "unjust criticism and clamor." And more. The
far as the bar is concerned, "the merits of a sitting judge may be rehearsed,
attorney's oath solemnly binds him to conduct that should be "with all good
but as to his demerits there must be profound silence. (State vs. Circuit
fidelity . . . to the courts." Worth remembering is that the duty of an attorney
Court (72 N.W. 196)).
to the courts "can only be maintained by rendering no service involving any
disrespect to the judicial office which he is bound to uphold." [Lualhati vs.
Albert, 57 Phil. 86, 92]. Nevertheless, such a right is not without limit. For, as this Court warned in Almacen:

We concede that a lawyer may think highly of his intellectual endowment. But it is a cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona fide,
That is his privilege. And, he may suffer frustration at what he feels is and shall not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm
others' lack of it. That is his misfortune. Some such frame of mind, however, exists between fair criticism, on the one hand, and abuse and slander of
should not be allowed to harden into a belief that he may attack court's courts and the judges thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair criticism
decision in words calculated to jettison the time-honored aphorism that is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct
courts are the temples of right. He should give due allowance to the fact that that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
judges are but men; and men are encompassed by error, fettered by
fallibility.
xxx xxx xxx

Expounding further on the lawyer's duty to the courts, this Court, in Surigao Mineral Reservation
The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is
Board vs. Cloribel(31 SCRA 1, 16-17 [1970]), stated:
essential to the orderly administration of justice. hence, in the assertion of
their client's rights, lawyers — even those gifted with superior intellect — are
enjoined to rein up their tempers.

Elsewise stated, the right to criticize, which is guaranteed by the freedom of speech and of
expression in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, must be exercised responsibly, for every right
carries with it a corresponding obligation. Freedom is not freedom from responsibility, but
freedom with responsibility. In Zaldivar vs. Gonzales (166 SCRA 316, 353-354 [1988]), it was
held:

Respondent Gonzales is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free spe


ech. No one seeks to deny him that right, least of all this Court. What
respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression,
like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of
expression needs an occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with
the requirements of equally important public interests. One of these
fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the integrity and orderly
functioning of the administration justice. There is no antimony between free
expression and the integrity of the system of administering justice. For the
protection and maintenance of freedom of expression itself can be secured
only within the context of a functioning and orderly system of dispensing
justice, within the context, in other words, of viable independent institutions
for delivery of justice which are accepted by the general community.

Proscribed then are, inter alia, the use of unnecessary language which jeopardizes high esteem
in courts, creates or promotes distrust in judicial administration (Rheem, supra), or tends
necessarily to undermine the confidence of the people in the integrity of the members of this
Court and to degrade the administration of justice by this Court (In re: Sotto, 82 Phil. 595 [1949]);
or of offensive and abusive language (In re: Rafael Climaco, 55 SCRA 107 [1974]); or abrasive
and offensive language (Yangson vs. Salandanan, 68 SCRA 42 [1975]); or of disrespectful,
offensive, manifestly baseless, and malicious statements in pleadings or in a letter addressed to
the judge (Baja vs. Macando, 158 SCRA 391 [1988], citing the resolution of 19 January 1988 in
Phil. Public Schools Teachers Association vs. Quisumbing, G.R. No. 76180, and Ceniza vs.
Sebastian, 130 SCRA 295 [1984]); or of disparaging, intemperate, and uncalled-for remarks
(Sangalang vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 177 SCRA 87 [1989]).

That Atty. Tiongco had exceeded the bounds of decency and propriety in making the false and
malicious insinuation against this Court, particularly the Members of the First Division, and the
scurrilous characterizations of the respondent judge is, indeed, all too obvious. Such could only
come from anger, if not hate, after he was not given what he wanted. Anger or hate could only
come from one who "seems to be of that frame of mind whereby he considers as in accordance
with law and justice whatever he believes to be right in his own opinion and as contrary to law
and justice whatever does not accord with his views" (Montecillo vs. Gica, 60 SCRA 234, 238
[1974]). When such anger or hate is coupled with haughtiness or arrogance as when he even
pointed out other intemperate words in his petition which this Court failed to incorporate in the
resolution of 26 September 1994, and with seething sarcasm as when he prays that this Court
"forebear[s] from turning . . . [him] into a martyr to his principles" and ends up his Compliance
with the "RESPECTFUL APOLOGIES — AND UNDYING LOVE" (Constitution — Preamble,
66th word), "nothing more can extenuate his liability for gross violation of Canon 11 of the Code
of professional Responsibility and his other duties entwined therewith as earlier adverted to.

WHEREFORE, for such violation, ATTY. JOSE B. TIONGCO is hereby ordered to pay a Fine of
FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) and WARNED that the commission of the same or
similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more money.

Let a copy of this resolution be attached to the record of Atty. Jose B. Tiongco in this Court.
FIRST DIVISION 3. The motion to change counsel, in which Samonte stated that Atty. Abellana had failed
to promptly attend court hearings and to do other legal services required of him as the
counsel. In the lower left portion of the motion, Atty. Abellana noted the motion subject
A.C. No. 3452, June 23, 2014
to the reservation that his attorneys fees should still be paid.4

HENRY SAMONTE, Petitioner, v. ATTY. GINES ABELLANA, Respondent.


On March 12, 1990, the Court required Atty. Abellana to comment on the administrative
DECISION complaint.

In his comment dated April 6, 1990,5 Atty. Abellana denied the charge of falsification of
BERSAMIN, J.:
documents, clarifying that the actual filing of the complaint could be made only on June 14, 1988
instead of on June 10, 1988 because Samonte had not given enough money to cover the filing
A lawyer who willfully resorts to any falsehood in order to mislead the courts or his clients on the fees and other charges totaling P5,027.76; and that Samonte shelled out only P5,000.00,
status of their causes exhibits his unworthiness to remain a member of the Law Profession. This contrary to their agreement in April 1988 on paying to him P10,000.00 as the acceptance fee in
is because he is always expected to be honest and forthright in his dealings with them. He addition to the filing fees. He asserted that the charge of dereliction of duty was baseless,
thereby merits the condign sanction of suspension from the practice of law, if not disbarment. because he had filed the reply on December 2, 1988 after receiving the answer with
counterclaim of the defendants on August 2, 1988, attaching as proof the copies of the reply
Antecedents (Annex 8 and Annex 9 of his comment);6 and that it was the RTC, not him, who had scheduled
the pre-trial on January 16, 1989.7 Anent his non- attendance at the hearings in Civil Case No.
On February 16, 1990, complainant Henry E. Samonte brought this administrative complaint CEB-6970, he explained that although he had informed the RTC of his having been either
against respondent Atty. Gines N. AbelJana who had represented him as the plaintiff in Civil stranded in another province, or having attended the arraignment of another client in another
Case No. CEB-6970 entitled Capt. Henry E. Samonte v. Authographics, Inc., and Nelson Yu of court, the presiding judge had opted not to await his arrival in the courtroom. He blamed
the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City.1 In the administrative complaint, Samonte enumerated the Samonte for his inability to submit the formal offer of exhibits on time, pointing out that Samonte
serious acts of professional misconduct by Atty. Abellana, to wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary had failed to give the duplicate originals of the documentary exhibits despite his request because
of the latter’s absence from the country. He countered that it was Samonte who had been
dishonest, because Samonte had given only the filing fees plus at least P2,000.00 in
1. Falsification of documents, when Atty. Abellana made it appear that he had filed Civil contravention of their agreement on the amount of P10,000.00 being his acceptance fees in
Case No. CEB-6970 on June 10, 1988, conformably with their agreement, although addition to the filing fees; that the filing fees paid were covered by receipts issued by the Clerk of
the complaint was actually filed on June 14, 1988; Court; that no receipts were issued for the P200.00/appearance fee conformably with the
practice of most lawyers; and that Samonte had not also demanded any receipts.
2. Dereliction of duty, when Atty. Abellana failed to: (a) file the reply vis-à-vis the answer
with counterclaim, with his omission having delayed the pre-trial of the case; (b) inform Atty. Abellana branded as unethical Samonte’s submission of a motion to change
the trial court beforehand that Samonte could not be available on a scheduled hearing, counsel,8 stating that the latter did not thereby exhibit the courtesy of informing him beforehand
thereby incurring for the plaintiff’s side an unexplained absence detrimental to on the intention of not meeting his obligation to him as the counsel; that Samonte had been
Samonte as the plaintiff; and (c) submit an exhibit required by the trial judge, only to forced to issue to him a check after the Branch Clerk of Court had told him that his motion to
eventually submit it three months later; change counsel would not be acted upon unless it carried Atty. Abellana’s conformity as the
counsel; and that he had duly acknowledged the check.9
3. Gross negligence and tardiness in attending the scheduled hearings;
On May 23, 1990, the Court received Samonte’s letter dated May 8, 199010 embodying
and
additional charges of falsification of documents, dereliction of duty and dishonesty based on the
reply and the annexes Atty. Abellana had filed. Samonte noted in the letter that the reply
4. Dishonesty for not issuing official receipts for every cash payments made by Samonte attached to the comment of Atty. Abellana was not authentic based on the categorical statement
for his court appearances and his acceptance of the case. of the Branch Clerk of Court of Branch 5 of the RTC in Cebu City to the effect that no such reply
had been filed in behalf of Samonte; and that the rubber stamp affixed on the reply supposedly
filed by Atty. Abellana in Samonte’s behalf was not also the official rubber stamp of Branch 5. 11
To support his administrative complaint, Samonte attached the following annexes, Samonte denied being the cause of delay in the submission of the formal offer of exhibits, and
namely:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary reminded that the documentary exhibits concerned had been shown to the trial court during his
testimony, with the opposing party not even objecting to their authenticity.

1. Comparative photocopies of the cover page of the complaint on file in the RTC and of Samonte declared that his agreement with Atty. Abellana on the fees for all his legal services
the cover page of the complaint Atty. Abellana furnished him;2 stipulated the equivalent of 20% of the awarded damages; that the amount demanded was
P1.12 Million;12 that he paid Atty. Abellana a total of P7,027.00 for filing expenses, plus
2. A photocopy of the order issued on January 16, 1989, and a photocopy of the order P5,000.00 that he gave as a token payment for Atty. Abellana’s services after discovering the
issued on January 19, 1990 in which the RTC observed that “[t]he formal offer of latter’s inefficiency and fraudulent practices.
plaintiff’s exhibits is rather very late;”3 and
On May 30, 199013 and July 30, 1990,14 the Court referred the administrative complaint to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation.
Proceedings in the IBP
The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline recommended the disbarment of Atty. Abellana,
On November 3, 1994, the IBP notified the parties to appear and present their evidence at 10:00 observing as follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
am on November 18, 1994.15 However, the parties sought postponements.16 The hearing was
reset several times more for various reasons, namely: on December 9, 1994 due to the IBP x x x Apart from his negligent handling of portions of the civil case, said respondent has shown
Commissioner being out of town, but telegrams were sent to the parties on December 6, a facility for utilizing false and deceitful practices as a means to cover-up his delay and
1994;17 on April 12, 2002, with the hearing being cancelled;18 and on March 7, 2003, with the lack of diligence in pursuing the case of his client. Taken together as a whole, the
hearing being cancelled until further notice.19 respondent’s acts are nothing short of deplorable.
On February 7, 2005, the IBP received a motion to quash dated January 7, 2005 from Atty. WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended that respondent Atty.
Abellana,20seeking the dismissal of the administrative complaint because of the lack of interest Gines Abellana be disbarred from the practice of law for resorting to false and/or deceitful
on the part of Samonte. Atty. Abellana observed therein that Samonte had always sought the practices, and for failure to exercise honesty and trustworthiness as befits a member of
postponement of the hearings. the bar. (Bold emphasis supplied)
Reacting to the motion to quash, Samonte requested an early hearing by motion filed on On June 5, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors, albeit adopting the findings of the IBP
February 9, 2005,21 declaring his interest in pursuing the administrative complaint against Atty. Investigating Commissioner, suspended Atty. Abellana from the practice of law for one year, to
Abellana. wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
On March 22, 2005,22 IBP Commissioner Victoria Gonzalez-De Los Reyes set the mandatory
conference on June 22, 2005. In that conference, only Samonte appeared; 23 hence, the IBP just RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and
required the parties to submit their verified position papers within 30 days from notice. APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Nonetheless, the IBP scheduled the clarificatory hearing on August 18, 2005. 24 Commissioner of the above- entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex “A”,
and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable
Samonte submitted his position paper on August 2, 2005.25 On August 9, 2005, Atty. Abellana laws and rules, and for resorting to falsehood and/or deceitful practices, and for failure to
requested an extension of his period to submit his own position paper allegedly to allow him to exercise honesty and trustworthiness as befits member of the Bar, Atty. Gines N. Abellana is
secure relevant documents from the trial court.26 hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year.31 (Bold emphasis supplied)

On August 18, 2005, the parties appeared for the clarificatory hearing. The case was thereafter On September 25, 2008, Atty. Abellana moved for reconsideration based on the following
deemed submitted for resolution. grounds:32

On August 29, 2005, Samonte presented a verified amended position paper, reiterating his A. That the imposition of sanction for the suspension of the undersigned from the
allegations against Atty. Abellana.27 practice of law for one (1) year is too stiff in relation to the alleged unethical conduct
committed by the respondent;
Also on August 29, 2005, Atty. Abellana submitted his verified position paper dated August 17,
2005,28 in which he represented that although he had been at times late for the hearings he had
B. That the findings of the investigating commissioner is not fully supported with
nonetheless efficiently discharged his duties as the counsel for Samonte; that he had not caused evidence;
any delay in the case; that it was Samonte who had been unavailable at times because of his
work as an airline pilot; that the complainant had discharged him as his counsel in order to avoid
paying his obligation to him; and that the complainant filed this disbarment case after he lost his C. That the complaint of the complainant is not corroborated by testimonial evidence so
own civil case in the RTC. He attached all the pleadings he had filed on behalf of the that it is hearsay and self-serving.
complainant, except the above-stated replies.

On May 1, 2008,29 the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found Atty. Abellana negligent in In support of his motion, Atty. Abellana rehashed most of his previous arguments, and stated
handling certain aspects of his client’s case, like not filing a reply to the defendants’ answer with that the “enumerations of failures are belied by the existence of Reply to counterclaims, which
counterclaims in order to deny the new matters raised in the answer; resorting to falsehood to were attached as Annexes “8” and “9” of the Position Paper of respondent.”33 It is noted,
make it appear that he had filed the reply; and being considerably late in submitting the formal however, that Annex 8 and Annex 9 of Atty. Abellana’s position paper were different documents,
offer of exhibits for Samonte, as noted even by the trial judge in the order dated January 19, namely: Annex 834 (Manifestation and Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Change Counsel); and
1990. It observed that although the negligence of Atty. Abellana did not necessarily prejudice his Annex 935 (Manifestation). Nonetheless, he argued that both documents were already part of the
client’s case, his lack of honesty and trustworthiness as an attorney, and his resort to falsehood records of the case, and that anyway Atty. Geronimo V. Nazareth, the Branch Clerk of Court, did
and deceitful practices were a different matter;30 noted that he had twice resorted to falsehood, not execute any affidavit or certification to the effect that both documents were inexistent. He
the first being when he tried to make it appear that the complaint had been filed on June 10, reminded that Samonte had only said that both documents “seemed to be falsified documents”
1988 despite the court records showing that the complaint had been actually filed only on June based on the certification of Atty. Nazareth on the official rubber stamp of the court.
14, 1988; and the second being when he had attempted to deceive his client about his having
filed the reply by producing a document bearing a rubber stamp marking distinctively different The IBP required Samonte to comment on Atty. Abellana’s motion for reconsideration.36
from that of the trial court’s; that he did not dispute the pieces of material evidence adduced
against him; that he had explained that the reason for his delay in the filing of the complaint had In his comment dated October 21, 2008,37 Samonte reiterated his allegations against Atty.
been the complainant’s failure to pay the agreed fees on time; and that he had only stated that Abellana; insisted that Atty. Abellana did not refute the charges against him; and noted that the
he had filed a reply, without presenting proof of his having actually filed such in court. reply that Atty. Abellana had supposedly filed in the case was not even annexed either to his
position paper and motion for reconsideration. the later date. He ought to remember that honesty and integrity were of far greater value for him
as a member of the Law Profession than his transactions with his client.
On December 16, 2008, Atty. Abellana filed a motion requesting to be allowed to submit certified
true copies of his exhibits, i.e., the pleadings he had submitted in the RTC.38 Atty. Abellana’s perfidy towards Samonte did not stop there. He continued misleading Samonte
in explaining his mishandling of the latter’s civil case. Worse, he also foisted his dishonesty on
On April 2, 2009, Samonte filed a motion for early resolution.39 the Court no less. To counter Samonte’s accusation about his not filing the reply in the civil case,
he knowingly submitted two documents as annexes of his comment during the investigation by
On September 15, 2009, Atty. Abellana filed a supplemental motion for reconsideration. 40 the IBP, and represented said documents to have been part of the records of the case in the
RTC. His intention in doing so was to enhance his defense against the administrative charge.
On June 22, 2013, the IBP Board of Governors denied the motion for reconsideration of Atty. But the two documents turned out to be forged and spurious, and his forgery came to be
Abellana.41 exposed because the rubber stamp marks the documents bore were not the official marks of the
RTC’s, as borne out by the specimens of the official rubber stamp of Branch 5 of the RTC duly
Ruling certified by Atty. Geronimo V. Nazareth, the Branch Clerk of Court. 43 He defended his
dishonesty by lamely claiming that “court personnel were authorized to accept filing of pleadings
We adopt and approve the findings of the IBP Board of Governors by virtue of their being even without the usual rubber stamp.”44 In these acts, he manifested his great disrespect
substantiated by the records. towards both the Court and his client.

In his dealings with his client and with the courts, every lawyer is expected to be honest, imbued The finding on Atty. Abellana’s neglect in the handling of Samonte’s case was entirely
with integrity, and trustworthy. These expectations, though high and demanding, are the warranted. He admitted being tardy in attending the hearings of the civil case. He filed the formal
professional and ethical burdens of every member of the Philippine Bar, for they have been offer of evidence in behalf of his client way beyond the period to do so, a fact that he could not
given full expression in the Lawyer’s Oath that every lawyer of this country has taken upon deny because the RTC Judge had himself expressly noted the belated filing in the order issued
admission as a bona fide member of the Law Profession, thus:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary in the case. Atty. Abellana was fortunate that the RTC Judge exhibited some tolerance and
liberality by still admitting the belated offer of evidence in the interest of justice.
I, __________________________, do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the In the motion for reconsideration that he filed in the IBP Board of Governors, Atty. Abellana
Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal challenged the sufficiency of the proof presented against him by Samonte, contending that such
orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the proof had consisted of merely hearsay and self-serving evidence.
doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or
unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same. I will delay no man for money or malice, The contention of Atty. Abellana is bereft of substance. In disciplinary proceedings against
and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and lawyers, clearly preponderant evidence is required to overcome the presumption of innocence in
discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon favor of the respondent lawyers. Preponderant evidence means that the evidence adduced by
myself this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help one side is, as a whole, superior to or has greater weight than that of the other. 45 In order to
me God. (Emphasis supplied) determine if the evidence of one party is greater than that of the other, Section 1, Rule 133 of
the Rules of Court instructs that the court may consider the following, namely: (a) all the facts
By the Lawyer’s Oath is every lawyer enjoined not only to obey the laws of the land but also to and circumstances of the case; (b) the witnesses’ manner of testifying, their intelligence, their
refrain from doing any falsehood in or out of court or from consenting to the doing of any in court, means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to
and to conduct himself according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity which they testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony; (c) the witnesses’ interest or
as well to the courts as to his clients. Every lawyer is a servant of the Law, and has to observe want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may ultimately appear in
and maintain the rule of law as well as be an exemplar worthy of emulation by others. 42 It is by the trial; and (d) the number of witnesses, although it does not mean that preponderance is
no means a coincidence, therefore, that honesty, integrity and trustworthiness are emphatically necessarily with the greater number.
reiterated by the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The complainant’s evidence preponderantly established the administrative sins of Atty. Abellana.
Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor To start with, Atty. Abellana admitted superimposing the “0” on “4” but justified himself by
shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice. claiming that he had done so only because the complainant had not given to him the correct
amount of filing fees required. Secondly, Atty. Abellana filed a spurious document by making it
Rule 11.02 - A lawyer shall punctually appear at court hearings. appear as one actually filed in court by using a fake rubber stamp. His misdeed was exposed
because the rubber stamp imprint on his document was different from that of the official rubber
Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond stamp of the trial court. He defended himself by stating that court personnel accepted papers
within a reasonable time to client’s request for information. filed in the court without necessarily using the official rubber stamp of the court. He well knew, of
course, that such statement did not fully justify his misdeed. Thirdly, Atty. Abellana did not
Atty. Abellana abjectly failed the expectations of honesty, integrity and trustworthiness in his present any proof of his alleged filings, like certified copies of the papers supposedly filed in
dealings with Samonte as the client, and with the RTC as the trial court. He resorted to outright court. His omission to prove his allegation on the filings conceded that he did not really file them.
falsification by superimposing “0” on “4” in order to mislead Samonte into believing that he had And, lastly, Atty. Abellana misrepresented the papers he had supposedly filed by stating that he
already filed the complaint in court on June 10, 1988 as promised, instead of on June 14, 1988, was attaching them as Annex 8 and Annex 9 of his comment, but Annex 8 and Annex 9 turned
the date when he had actually done so. His explanation that Samonte was himself the cause of out to be papers different from those he represented them to be.
the belated filing on account of his inability to remit the correct amount of filing fees and his
acceptance fees by June 10, 1988, as agreed upon, did not excuse the falsification, because his Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are designed to ensure that whoever is granted the
falsification was not rendered less dishonest and less corrupt by whatever reasons for filing at privilege to practice law in this country should remain faithful to the Lawyer’s Oath. Only thereby
can lawyers preserve their fitness to remain as members of the Law Profession. Any resort to
falsehood or deception, including adopting artifices to cover up one’s misdeeds committed
against clients and the rest of the trusting public, evinces an unworthiness to continue enjoying
the privilege to practice law and highlights the unfitness to remain a member of the Law
Profession. It deserves for the guilty lawyer stem disciplinary sanctions.

The falsehoods committed by Atty. Abellana, being aimed at misleading his client and the Court
to bolster his unworthy denial of his neglect in the handling of the client's case, were
unmitigated. Still, the Court must not close its eyes to the fact that Atty. Abellana actually
finished presenting his client's case; and that the latter initiated the termination of Atty.
Abellana's engagement as his counsel only after their relationship had been tainted with
mistrust. Thus, we determine the proper sanction. In Maligaya v. Doronilla, Jr.,46 the respondent
lawyer was suspended for two months from the practice of law for representing in court that the
complainant had agreed to withdraw the lawsuit when in truth the complainant had made no
such agreement. The respondent admitted the falsity of his representation, but gave as an
excuse his intention to amicably settle the case. In Molina v. Magat,47 the respondent had
invoked double jeopardy in behalf of his client by stating that the complainant had filed a similar
case of slight physical injuries in another court, but his invocation was false because no other
case had been actually filed. He was suspended from the practice of law for six months for
making the false and untruthful statement in court. For Atty. Abellana, therefore, suspension
from the practice of law for six months with warning of a more severe sanction upon a repetition
suffices.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court AFFIRMS the Resolution dated June 22, 2013 of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines Board of Governors subject to the MODIFICATION that Atty. Gines N.
Abellana is SUSPENDED FOR SIX (6) MONTHS FROM THE PRACTICE OF LAW effective
upon receipt of this decision, with the stern warning that any repetition by him of the same or
similar acts will be punished more severely.

Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal records of Atty. Gines N. Abellana as a
member of the Philippine Bar, and copies furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Court Administrator for proper
dissemination to all courts in the country.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-35469 October 9, 1987 ... It is conceded that no decree of registration has been entered and section
38 of the Land Registration Act provides that a petition for review of such a
decree on the grounds of fraud must be filed "within one year after entry of
ENCARNACION BANOGON, ZOSIMA MUNOZ, and DAVIDINA MUNOZ, petitioners,
the decree." Giving this provision a literal interpretation, it may first blush
vs.
seem that the petition for review cannot be presented until the final decree
MELCHOR ZERNA, CONSEJO ZERNA DE CORNELIO, FRANCISCO ZERNA, and the HON.
has been entered. But on further reflection, it is obvious that such could not
CIPRIANO VAMENTA, JR., Judge of the Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental (Branch
have been the intention of the Legislature and that what it meant would
III).
have been better expressed by stating that such petitioners must be
presented before the expiration of one year from the entry of the decree.
Statutes must be given a reasonable construction and there can be no
possible reason for requiring the complaining party to wait until the final
decree is entered before urging his claim of fraud. We therefore hold that a
CRUZ, J.:
petition for review under section 38, supra, may be filed at any time the
rendition of the court's decision and before the expiration of one year from
It's unbelievable. The original decision in this case was rendered by the cadastral court way the entry of the final decree of registration. (Emphasissupplied).
back on February 9, 1926, sixty one years ago. A motion to amend that decision was filed on
March 6, 1957, thirty one years later. This was followed by an amended petition for review of the
A reading thereof will show that it is against their contentions and that under this doctrine they
judgment on March 18, 1957, and an opposition thereto on March 26, 1957. On October 11, should not have delayed in asserting their claim of fraud. Their delay was not only for thirty
1971, or after fourteen years, a motion to dismiss the petition was filed. The petition was one days but for thirty one years. Laches bars their petition now. Their position is clearly contrary
dismissed on December 8, 1971, and the motion for reconsideration was denied on February 14,
to law and logic and to even ordinary common sense.
1972. 1 The petitioners then came to us on certiorari to question the orders of the respondent
judge.2
This Court has repeatedly reminded litigants and lawyers alike:
These dates are not typographical errors. What is involved here are errors of law and lawyers.
"Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is
assent essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that,
The respondent court dismissed the petition for review of the decision rendered in 1926 on the
once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not, through a mere
ground that it had been filed out of time, indeed thirty one years too late. Laches, it was held, subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must therefore guard
had operated against the petitioners. 3 against any scheme calculated to bring about that result. Constituted as
they are to put an end to controversies, courts should frown upon any
The petitioners contend that the said judgment had not yet become final and executory because attempt to prolong them."8
the land in dispute had not yet been registered in favor of the private respondents. The said
judgment would become so only after one year from the issuance of the decree of registration. If There should be a greater awareness on the part of litigants that the time of
any one was guilty of laches, it was the private respondents who had failed to enforce the the judiciary, much more so of this Court, is too valuable to be wasted or
judgment by having the land registered in their the pursuant thereto. 4 frittered away by efforts, far from commendable, to evade the operation of a
decision final and executory, especially so, where, as shown in this case,
For their part, the private respondents argue that the decision of February 9, 1926, became final the clear and manifest absence of any right calling for vindication, is quite
and executory after 30 days, same not having been appealed by the petitioners during that obvious and indisputable. 9
period. They slept on their rights for thirty one years before it occurred to them to question the
judgment of the cadastral court. In fact, their alleged predecessor-in-interest, Filomeno Banogon, This appeal moreover, should fail, predicated as it is on an insubstantial
lived for nineteen more years after the 1926 decision and did not see fit to challenge it until his
objection bereft of any persuasive force. Defendants had to display
death in 1945. The herein petitioners themselves waited another twelve years, or until 195 7, to ingenuity to conjure a technicality. From Alonso v. Villamor, a 1910 decision,
file their petition for review. 5 we have left no doubt as to our disapproval of such a practice. The aim of a
lawsuit is to render justice to the parties according to law. Procedural rules
While arguing that they were not guilty of laches because the 1926 decision had not yet become are precisely designed to accomplish such a worthy objective. Necessarily,
final and executory because the land subject thereof had not yet been registered, the petitioners therefore, any attempt to pervert the ends for which they are intended
rationalize: "If an aggrieved party is allowed the remedy of re-opening the case within one year deserves condemnation. We have done so before. We do so again. 10
after the issuance of the decree, why should the same party be denied this remedy before the
decree is issued? 6 Regarding the argument that the private respondents took fourteen years to move for the
dismissal of the petition for review, it suffices to point out that an opposition thereto had been
Why not indeed? Why then did they not file their petition earlier? Why do they now pretend that made as early as March 26, 1957, or nine days after the filing of the petition. 11 Moreover, it was
they have all the time in the world because the land has not yet been registered and the one- for the petitioners to move for the hearing of the petition instead of waiting for the private
year reglementary period has not yet expired? respondents to ask for its dismissal. After all, they were the parties asking for relief, and it was
the private respondents who were in possession of the land in dispute.
Thinking to support their position, the petitioners cite Rivera v. Moran 7 where it was held:
One reason why there is a degree of public distrust for lawyers is the way some of them
misinterpret the law to the point of distortion in a cunning effort to achieve their purposes. By
doing so, they frustrate the ends of justice and at the same time lessen popular faith in the legal
profession as the sworn upholders of the law. While this is not to say that every wrong
interpretation of the law is to be condemned, as indeed most of them are only honest errors, this
Court must express its disapproval of the adroit and intentional misreading designed precisely to
circumvent or violate it.

As officers of the court, lawyers have a responsibility to assist in the proper administration of
justice. They do not discharge this duty by filing pointless petitions that only add to the workload
of the judiciary, especially this Court, which is burdened enough as it is. A judicious study of the
facts and the law should advise them when a case, such as this, should not be permitted to be
filed to merely clutter the already congested judicial dockets. They do not advance the cause of
law or their clients by commencing litigations that for sheer lack of merit do not deserve the
attention of the courts.

This petition is DISMISSED, with costs against the petitioners. This decision is immediately
executory. It is so ordered.

Teehankee, C.J., Narvasa and Paras, JJ., concur.

Gancayco, J., is on leave.


G.R. No. L-30978 September 30, 1974 Civic Action Group (PHILCAG) at the instance of the Philippine Military Attache in that city, and
kept in custody until 6:00 o'clock in the evening of the same day, when he was flown to Manila
under escort by two Philippine Military Attache personnel aboard an Air Vietnam plane, arriving
FORTUNATO MEDINA, petitioner,
in Manila about 9:00 o'clock that same evening. At the Manila International Airport, he was met
vs.
and arrested by a team of Intelligence Service Officers of the Philippine Constabulary and taken
GEN. MANUEL T. YAN, BRIG. GEN VICENTE RAVAL, and THE COURT OF
to Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, where he was interrogated and kept in custody until the
APPEALS, respondents.
morning of the following day, November 24, 1968, when he was turned over to the lst PC Zone
Headquarters at Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga. In the early morning of November 27,
Amelito R. Mutuc for petitioner. 1968 petitioner Medina was transferred to the custody of the 174th PC Command Officer at
Bano, Arayat, Pampanga. At 11:00 o'clock the same morning he was delivered to the custody of
the Chief of Police of Arayat, Pampanga, in view of the absence of the Municipal Judge.
Office of the Solicitor General Felix V. Makasiar and Solicitor Dominador L. Quiroz for
respondents.
On November 29, 1968 petitioner Medina, through counsel, filed a petition for habeas corpus
directly with the Supreme Court to secure his release from confinement in the Office of the Chief
of Police of Arayat. This Court, acting on the petition, issued on the same day the writ of habeas
corpus, made returnable to the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City Branch.
FERNANDEZ, J.:p
On December 3, 1968, a trial on the merits was held by the Honorable Judge Honorato B.
This is a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with preliminary injunction, praying that Masakayan, Presiding Judge, Branch V, Quezon City branch, Court of First Instance of Rizal.
judgment be rendered:
On January 2, 1969, the Honorable Judge Masakayan rendered a decision ordering the
(1) Annuling and setting aside all the actuations, orders, and resolutions of the respondent Court respondents or whoever acts in their place and stead, to immediately set free and release
of Appeals, more particularly the resolution dated February 1, 1969, denying petitioner's motion petitioner Fortunato Medina from custody. On January 9, 1969, the Solicitor General as counsel
for certification of this case to the Supreme Court; the resolution dated March 13, 1969 denying for the respondent, filed a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals "on the ground that the said
petitioner's "Urgent Motion for Release of Petitioner-Detainee", the resolution dated June 10, decision is not in accordance with law and the evidence adduced in the case." Acting on said
1969 denying petitioner's "Motion for Reconsideration"; and the resolution dated June 21, 1969 "Notice of Appeal", the lower court in its order of January 15, 1969, ordered that "the record of
requiring Atty. Amelito R. Mutuc to show cause why he should not be held liable and dealt with the case together with evidence, oral and documentary, be transmitted to the Court of Appeals."
for contempt of court and suspended from the practice of law as member of the Philippine Bar;
On January 27, 1969 Atty. Amelito Mutuc, counsel for petitioner Medina, filed a "Motion for
(2) Prohibiting respondent Court of Appeals from enforcing the aforesaid resolution dated June Certification of Appeal to the Supreme Court," which motion was opposed by the Office of the
21, 1969, regarding the contempt and suspension charge against aforenamed Amelito R. Mutuc, Solicitor General on the ground that since questions of fact are involved in the appeal, the proper
as well as from proceeding further with the case at bar; and appellate jurisdiction lies with the Court of Appeals, and that if the appeal were certified to the
Supreme Court, appellants will be estopped from raising questions of fact and will, therefore, be
deprived of due process of law.
(3) Ordering the respondent Court of Appeals to certify the appeal and to have all the records of
the same forwarded to this Court.
The motion for certification of appeal to the Supreme Court was denied by the respondent Court
of Appeals in a resolution dated February 1, 1969. On February 14, 1969, pending appeal, Atty.
Pending these proceedings a writ of preliminary injunction to be issued ex parte was sought, to Amelito R. Mutuc filed an "Urgent Motion for Release" without bond, of the petitioner Medina, to
enjoin, restrain and prohibit the respondent Court of Appeals from proceeding further with this which counsel for the respondents filed an opposition in its answer dated February 24, 1969.
case, more particularly with the enforcement of its resolution of June 21, 1969, requiring Atty.
Amelito R. Mutuc to explain why he should not be held for contempt of court and suspended
from the practice of law. The motion was denied by respondent Court of Appeals in a resolution rendered on March 13,
1969, which we quote:
On September 4, 1969, this Court adopted a resolution restraining the respondent Court of
Appeals from proceeding further with case No. CA-G.R. No. 42658-R, entitled "Fortunato For resolution by this Court is the motion dated February 14, 1969, filed by
Medina, petitioner-appellee vs. Gen. Manuel T. Yan and Brig. Gen. Vicente Raval, respondents- petitioner-appellee praying that he be ordered released without bail during
appellants", more particularly with the enforcement of its resolution of June 21, 1969, re: the pendency of this appeal. The Solicitor General filed an opposition
Contempt and Suspension of Atty. Amelito R. Mutuc." thereto.

For a clear perspective of the present petition, the events leading thereto are set forth as follows: As the trial court which rendered judgment did not fix the bond for the
release of petitioner pending appeal by respondents and as said court has
now lost jurisdiction over the case, LET PETITIONER BE RELEASED
At 6:00 o'clock in the morning of November 23, 1968 petitioner Fortunato Medina, a Filipino PENDING APPEAL UPON FILING A SURETY BOND OF P5,000.00.
citizen who was in Saigon, South Vietnam, employed as a laborer in an American company, was
arrested and apprehended by the South Vietnam Police and some members of the Philippine
A motion to reconsider the above-quoted resolution of the Court of Appeals, was denied by said Extremely Dubious
court in its resolution of June 10, 1969.
Mutuc said that the appeal of the Solicitor General was filed under
Before the respondent Court of Appeals (4th Division) could act on petitioner's motion for "extremely dubious circumstances" because the notice of appeal was filed
reconsideration, the following news item attributed to Atty. Amelito Mutuc, petitioner's counsel of even before the copy of the decision of the lower court was mailed to him.
record, appeared in the May 8, 1969 issue of the Manila Times, on pp. 1 and 22-A thereof:
On May 9, 1969, the issue of the Manila Times, pp. 1 and 14-A, carried a news item that
Mutuc Hits Appeals Court Ruling petitioner Medina had escaped from confinement in the municipal jail of Arayat, Pampanga,
upon advice of his counsel, Atty. Amelito Mutuc. The same issue of the Manila Times, p. 14-A
thereof, carried a statement of Atty. Mutuc to this effect:
A division of the Court of Appeals was denounced by former Ambassador
Amelito R. Mutuc yesterday for, he said, "knowingly abetting the
perpetration of a gross and rank injustice' on a dissident suspect. I have advised him (Medina) to escape. After all, his detention is illegal. It is
the only way to regain his freedom.
Mutuc spoke of the case of Fortunato Medina, a Filipino worker who was
arrested by armed forces and intelligence officers in Saigon last year and Atty. Mutuc commenting upon a proposed action of the Office of the Solicitor General to have
forcibly flown to Manila. Since his arrest last Nov. 23, Medina has been him cited for contempt and to institute disbarment proceedings against him, issued the following
detained without any criminal case being filed in court against him. He is statement appearing in the May 11, 1969, p. 1, issue of the Manila Times:
now at the Arayat municipal jail.
I am ready and willing to be imprisoned : or stripped of my privilege as a
The case in the Court of Appeals arose from a petition for habeas corpus lawyer if the Supreme Court so decrees that my cause is not just and that I
filed by Mutuc with the Supreme Court. The high court had given due course am in error.
to the case and made the writ returnable to the Quezon City court of first
instance.
On June 21, 1969 the Court of Appeals issued a resolution as follows:

Detention Illegal
Considering that the statements attributed to Atty. Amelito Mutuc as well as
the news items based thereon, as above set forth, are grossly defiant
The lower court later ruled that Medina's detention was illegal since there offensive and derogatory to the dignity and integrity of the members of the
was no pending criminal case against him. The court ordered his immediate Fourth Division of this Court; that they are evidently intended to browbeat,
release. But the solicitor general's office appealed the ruling to the CA. intimidate and hold them in contempt and ridicule by imputing to them the
act of "knowingly abetting the perpetration of a gross and rank injustice",
and that said statements and news reports tend to degrade and obstruct the
Mutuc then filed an urgent motion before the CA for Medina's release
free, just and impartial administration of justice on a matter then actually
without posting bail on the basis of the lower court's findings and the fact
pending consideration by this Court; and
that the man is a pauper.

Considering further that the act of Atty. Amelito Mutuc of advising,


Mutuc said the CA fourth division denied this motion and ordered that
encouraging and practically assisting in the escape of the petitioner-
Medina post a P5,000.00 bail bond for his provisional liberty.
appellee, Fortunato Medina, from the custody of the law as a detention
prisoner, in utter disregard of the order of this Court requiring him to post a
Reconsideration bond of P5,000.00 for his release, constitutes a deliberate and wanton
violation of his oath as a lawyer, particularly that portion thereof where he
swears that he will "obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly
Arguing that Medina's detention is illegal, Mutuc sought for the constituted authorities" of the Republic of the Philippines and will conduct
reconsideration of the CA order. The solicitor general's office opposed this
himself as a lawyer with "all good fidelity as well to the courts" as to his
latest motion, and this is now pending before the CA. clients;

Mutuc said in his statement:


WHEREFORE, Atty. Amelito Mutuc is hereby required to show cause within
fifteen (15) days from receipt of notice hereof why he should not be held
"It is unthinkable, deplorable, and shocking to see in liable and dealt with for contempt of court, and why he should not be
our midst — in a country which has prided itself as suspended under Rule 138, Section 28, of the Rules of Court, from the
being a proud example of a vibrant democracy and a practice of law as a member of the Philippine Bar.
firm adherent to the rule of law — this said law
spectacle of a man kept illegally for 165 days without
As already adverted to above, the instant petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus seeks
any criminal complaint pending against him." to annul the above-quoted resolution and all other pertinent orders, resolutions, of respondent
Court of Appeals, and prohibit it from proceeding further with the case, and to compel it to certify SEC. 18. Appeal in habeas corpus cases shall be
said case to this Court on the ground that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal. perfected by filing with the clerk of court or the judge
who rendered the judgment, within twenty-four (24)
hours from notice of such judgment, a statement that
The present controversy centers upon the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to entertain the
the person making it appeals from the judgment
appeal brought to it by the Solicitor General from the judgment or the Hon. Honorato B.
rendered.
Masakayan, presiding judge, Branch V, Court of First Instance of Rizal, ordering the release of
petitioner Fortunato Medina from custody of the Chief of Police of Arayat, Pampanga.
It has been consistently held that the reglamentary period for appeal is not
only mandatory but jurisdictional on the courts and that an appeal filed out
Petitioner argues that where a petition for habeas corpus has been originally filed with the
of time may be sought to be dismissed at any stage of the proceedings in
Supreme Court, as in this case, and this Court makes the writ returnable to a lower court, it does
the appellate court.
so merely for purposes of expediency, convenience and a speedy and inexpensive
determination of the proceedings, and the role of the lower court is just to receive evidence for
the Supreme Court, as if the Supreme Court assigned one of its members to receive evidence In petitioner's "manifestation" dated October 12, 1959, it is contended that
on the case. Hence, any appeal from the judgment of the court to which the writ was made since the case for habeas corpus was heard by the Manila Court of First
returnable, must be taken to the Supreme Court, not to the Court of Appeals, and the case Instance, "not by virtue of its original jurisdiction but merely by delegation",
would be before the Supreme Court by virtue of its original jurisdiction and not on account of its this Court should have the final say regarding the issues raised in the
appellate jurisdiction. petition, and only its decisions, not that of the court of First Instance, should
be regarded as operative. The logic is more apparent than real. While the
petition for habeas corpus was originally filed with this Court, the only
The stand taken by petitioner is devoid of merit.
question that was immediately involved was the propriety of the issuance of
a writ that would order the respondent to show cause why the detention of
The principal issue raised in the present petition has already been definitely ruled upon by Us in the person in whose behalf the writ was asked for should not be considered
the case of Saulo vs. Brig. General Cruz, etc., (109 Phil. 378, Aug. 31, 1960) wherein We held illegal, and that, therefore, the petitioner be ordered discharged from
that the court to which this Court makes the writ returnable, does not thereby become merely a custody. The Rules authorize that once the writ is issued the same may be
recommendatory body, whose findings and conclusion are devoid of effect, unless and until this made returnable before a Court of First Instance (Sec. 2, Rule 102, Rules of
Court decides to act on the "recommendation", but that such court acquire the authority and the Court), and not necessarily to us. The court designated does not thereby
duty to inquire into the facts and the law pertinent to the legality or illegality of petitioner's become merely a recommendatory body, whose findings and conclusion are
detention and to order his discharge from confinement should it find that he is unlawfully devoid of effect, unless and until we decide to act on the "recommendation".
imprisoned or restrained. Further clarifying Our ruling, We stated that the court or the judge to By filing a notice of appeal with the Court below, the appellant impliedly
whom the writ is made returnable takes the case for determination on the merits and its findings, admitted that the decision appealed was not merely recommendatory or
either for the release of the detainee or for sustaining his custody, if not appealed on time, can fact-finding.
become final just as it may in ordinary case. The pertinent fact and Our ruling in said case follow:
In our resolution dated March 19, 1959, resolving the question of jurisdiction
In G.R. No. L-14819, a petition for habeas corpus was filed before this Court of the lower court, we stated the following:
by and in behalf of petitioner Alfredo B. Saulo. We issued, on December 24,
1958, a writ ordering respondent Pelagio Cruz, as the Commanding General
"Moreover, it is apparent from sections 12 to 15 of said Rule 102 that the
of the Philippine Constabulary, to submit, within five (5) days from notice, an
court or judge to whom the writ is returned shall have the authority and the
answer returnable to the Court of First Instance of Manila.
duty to inquire into the facts and the law pertinent to the legality or illegality
of petitioner's detention and to order his discharge from confinement, should
xxx xxx xxx it appear satisfactorily "that he is unlawfully imprisoned or restrained,"

Upon such findings, the lower court rendered decision, concluding that the xxx xxx xxx
filing of Criminal Case No. 46410 amounted to the delivery of accused
petitioner, who was arrested without warrant, to the proper court as provided
"In point of practice, when a writ of habeas corpus is,
under Section 17, Rule 100 of the Rules of Court (citing Sayo, et al. vs.
conformably to law, made returnable to a court other
Chief of Police, 80 Phil., 859). The Court consequently denied the petition
than that issuing the writ, the court to which the writ is
for habeas corpus. Hence, this appeal:
returned, or the judge thereof, possesses full authority
to examine all issues raised in the case and to settle
However, petitioners appeal appears to have been filed out of time, as the same. In the language of the American
pointed out by the Solicitor General. The records disclose that the notice of jurisprudence:
appeal was filed eleven (11) days after a copy of the lower court's decision,
denying the petition, was served upon petitioner's counsel (on May 12, 1959
"After a return to a writ, the court or judge to whom the
as per sheriffs return). As provided by Section 18, Rule 41 of the Rules of
return is made must pass upon all questions of both law
Court, petitioner should have perfected his appeal within twenty-four (24)
and fact and determine the ultimate question whether
hours from notice of judgment:
the prisoner is wrongfully restrained of his liberty. It is
necessary for the court to determine the weight and The view that the appeal should be made direct to this Court because when a petition for writ of
credibility of evidence where the testimony is habeas corpus with Us he wants his case to be decided as expeditiously as possible, is clearly
conflicting. untenable; otherwise, We would be unduly hampered in the exercise of Our discretion1 when to
hear and decide directly a habeas corpus as We did in the habeas corpus cases under Martial
Law, and when We should make the writ returnable to a Court of First Instance so that the case
"... With further reference to habeas corpus
may not unduly clog the already over-burdened docket of this Court.
proceedings in Federal courts, it is expressly provided
by statute that the court or judge before whom the
prisoner may be brought shall proceed in a summary Considering that the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City branch, had jurisdiction to try
way to determine the facts of the case, by bearing the the habeas corpus case and render judgment thereon as though the same was originally filed
testimony and arguments, and thereupon to dispose of with it, any judgment rendered by it is appealable to the proper appellate court which, in this
the prisoner as law and justice may require. (25 Am. case, is the Court of Appeals, appellants having signified in their notice of appeal their intention
Jur., p. 245.)" to raise both questions of law and fact.

In other words, the court or the judge to whom the writ is made returnable The Court of Appeals being the proper court to which the appeal was brought, its actuations,
takes the case for determination on the merits (See 39 C.J.S p. 603, sec. 58 orders and resolutions in connection therewith, particularly those dated February 1, 1969, March
and case cited therein), and its findings, either for the release of the 13, 1969, June 10, 1969 and June 21, 1969 were, therefore, done and issued in the lawful
detainee or for sustaining his continued custody, if not, appealed on time, exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.
can become final just as it may in an ordinary case. (Saulo vs. Brig. Gen.
Cruz, etc., 109 Phil., 378, 379, 381-383) (Emphasis ours.)
WHEREFORE, the petition is, as it is hereby DENIED, and respondent Court of Appeals
authorized to proceed with the determination of the appealed case, and all incidents thereof. The
We also advert to the earlier case of Saulo vs. Brig. Gen. Cruz, 105 Phil. 315 (March 19, 1959), restraining order dated September 4, 1969, issued by this Court against the respondent Court of
wherein this Court, citing Sections 12 to 15 of Rule 102 (the same provisions as in the present Appeals is hereby LIFTED. No costs.
Rules) stated that the court or judge to whom the writ is returnable shall have the authority and
the duty to inquire into the facts and the law pertinent to the legality or illegality of petitioner's
So ordered.
detention and to order his discharge from confinement, should it appear that he is being
unlawfully imprisoned or restrained. The Court ruled:

In other words, said writ of habeas corpus plays a role somewhat


comparable to a summons, in ordinary civil actions, in that, by service of
said writ, the court acquires jurisdiction over the person of the respondent.
Once authority over the latter has thus been established, the appellate court
issuing the writ, or the court of first instance to which the writ has been
made returnable — acting in place of the appellate court — may render a
decision, which — like other decisions of the Supreme Court and of courts
of first instance — may be enforced anywhere in the Philippines.

In point of practice, when a writ of habeas corpus is, conformably to law,


made returnable to a court other than that issuing the writ, the court to which
the writ is returned or the judge thereof possesses full authority to examine
all issues raised in the case and to settle the same.

It is clear, therefore, that when this Court issued the writ of habeas corpus making the same
returnable before the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City branch, said court acquired
the power and authority to determine the merits of the case, and not merely to act as a referee,
in the same manner as We would have if the writ had been returnable before this Court. (See
C.J.S 603, citing Ex parte Smith, 300 P. 635; Ex parte Gonsher,. 294 P. 159; People vs. Booker,
51 Cal. 317.)

Mr. Justice Castro correctly observed during the deliberation of the Court in this case, that there
is no valid reason why a habeas corpus case originally filed in the Court of First Instance should
be appealed to the Court of Appeals, while one filed originally with the Supreme Court and made
returnable to the Court of First Instance should be appealable directly to Us, when a review of
the findings of facts of the Court of First Instance is necessary.
G.R. No. L-23956 July 21, 1967 decision against the petitioner, thus depriving the latter of his day in court. Counsel for the
petitioner further asserted that his client has a good and substantial defense, which is, that the
complainant had given his client an option to buy the premises subject-matter of the complaint
ELPIDIO JAVELLANA, plaintiff-appellant,
below, and that a reopening of the case would cause the private respondent no real injury.
vs.
NICOLAS LUTERO, Judge of the Municipal Court of Iloilo City and the ROMAN CATHOLIC
ARCHBISHOP OF JARO, defendants-appellees. This petition was given due course, the respondents were required to file their answers, and a
cease-and-desist order was issued as prayed for. On February 22, 1964, after due hearing, the
Court of First Instance rendered judgment dismissing the petition.1äwphï1.ñët
Hautea and Hinojales for plaintiff-appellant.
Luisito C. Hofileña for defendants-appellees.
Hence the present recourse.
CASTRO, J.:
From the perspective of the environmental circumstances obtaining in this case, the present
appeal is palpably devoid of merit.
This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo (CC 6425) dismissing a
petition for relief directed against the judgment rendered by the municipal court of Iloilo City in its
civil case 7220. A counsel for any party in a judicial controversy, by mandate of the canons of legal ethics, and
with due regard for the elementary standards of fair play, is duty bound to prepare for trial with
diligence and deliberate speed. This norm of conduct is no less applicable in a detainer case,
On March 29, 1963 the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jaro, Iloilo filed a detainer complaint
such as the one at bar, even if the issues are essentially simple and uncomplicated. It is obvious
against Elpidio Javellana with the municipal court of Iloilo City, presided by Judge Nicolas
that the counsel for the petitioner-appellant has been remiss in this respect.
Lutero. The hearing, originally set for April 30, 1963, was postponed to May 24 for failure of the
defendant to receive summons, and then postponed again to June 27 for the same reason. It
was thereafter postponed to July 16, then to July 24, and finally to August 27, all at the behest of The case was set for trial six times. Thrice it was postponed at the behest of the said counsel.
the defendant's Atty. Jose Hautea, on the grounds that "he has not finished his business The last postponement was granted on July 24, 1963 with the unequivocal admonition by the
transactions in Manila" and that "he hurt his right foot toe." The last postponement was granted judgment that no further postponement would be countenanced. The case was reset for hearing
by the municipal court with the warning that no further postponement would be entertained. on August 27, 1963, which means that the appellant's counsel had more than a month's time to
so adjust his schedule of activities as to obviate a conflict between his business transactions and
his calendar of hearings. Came August 27, and neither he nor the appellant appeared at the
When the case was called for trial on August 27, 1963, neither the defendant nor his counsel
trial. His absence on the latter date was not occasioned by illness or some other supervening
Atty. Hautea appeared although one Atty. Romy Peña who was present in court verbally moved
occurrence which unavoidably and justifiably prevented him from appearing in court.
for the postponement of the trial on the ground that Atty. Hautea was in Manila attending to a
business transaction. The plaintiff's counsel objected to the motion on the ground that the
defendant and his counsel were well aware of the court's previous admonition that no further In our view, it was the bounden duty of the said counsel, under the circumstances, to give
postponement of the case would be granted, and then manifested that the witnesses and the preferential attention to the case. As things were, he regarded the municipal court as a mere
evidence for the plaintiff were ready for presentation on that date. The verbal motion for marionette that must ever await his pleasure. This attitude on his part is censurable as it reveals
postponement was denied and the plaintiff was directed to adduce his evidence. During the more than just a modicum of disrespect for the judiciary and the established machinery of
presentation of the plaintiff's evidence, the municipal court received a telegram from Atty. justice.
Hautea requesting postponement of the hearing. The trial proceeded nevertheless, and, on the
basis of the plaintiff's evidence, the court on the same date rendered judgment for the plaintiff
Nor is his censurable conduct mitigated by the appearance in court on August 27 of another
and against the defendant. The latter's counsel received a copy of the decision on September 9,
attorney who verbally moved for postponement nor by his telegram received by the municipal
1963. On the following September 11, he filed a motion to set aside judgment and for new trial.
judge on the same date asking for continuance. These circumstances, upon the contrary,
This motion was denied on September 26; a copy of the order of denial was received by him on
emphasize his presumptuousness vis-a-vis the municipal judge.
the same date.

It is thus crystal-clear from the foregoing disquisition that the petitioner-appellant was not
On November 16, 1963, or about 50 days later, the defendant thru his same counsel filed a
deprived of his day in court, and that the respondent municipal judge did not err in proceeding
petition for relief (from the judgment of the municipal court)with the Court of First Instance of
with the trial, allowing the private respondent to present his evidence ex parte, and thereafter
Iloilo, praying that the decision in question be set aside, that the detainer case be set for trial on
rendering decision for the plaintiff-appellee. It follows that the petitioner was not entitled to the
the merits, and, pending determination of the petition, that an injunction issue restraining the
remedy of a petition for relief.
enforcement of the decision. Counsel for the petitioner averred that his absence on the date of
the trial was excusable as he attended to a very urgent business transaction in Manila; that
before his departure for the latter city, he verbally informed the respondent judge that his return Moreover, after the denial of his motion to set aside judgment and for new trial, the appellant had
to Iloilo might be delayed and that he might not arrive on time for the trial of the case as set; that ample time to appeal; instead he allowed the judgment to become final and executory. His
he called at both the law office and the residence of the counsel for the private respondent to argument that an appeal would have been futile as there was no evidence upon which such
inform him of the desired postponement and the reason therefor, but the latter was in Bacolod at appeal could be based, merits scant consideration. An appeal from the decision of a municipal
the time; that he exercised utmost diligence and precaution in the sense that while in Manila he court to the Court of First Instance has the effect of vacating the decision (sec. 9, Rule 40, view
sent a telegram to the respondent judge, asking for postponement; and that notwithstanding all Rules of Court; sec. 9, Rule 40, of the old Rules), and the action is to be tried de novo without
the foregoing, the municipal court nevertheless proceeded with the trial in his absence and that regard to the proof presented in the municipal court or the conclusions reached thereon (Colegio
of his client, allowed the private respondent to present his evidence ex parte, and rendered a de San Jose vs. Sison, 56 Phil. 344, 351; Lizo vs. Carandang, 73 Phil. 649; Crisostomo vs.
Director of Prisons, 41 Phil. 368). To grant the appellant's petition for relief would amount to
reviving his right to appeal which he had irretrievably lost through the gross inaction of his
counsel (see Espinosa vs. Yatco, etc., et al., L-16435, Jan. 31, 1963, and the cases therein
cited). This in law cannot be done.

Accordingly, the decision appealed from is affirmed. As this appeal is patently frivolous and
dilatory, this Court, under the authority of section 3 of Rule 142 of the Rules of Court, hereby
assesses treble costs against the petitioner-appellant Elpidio Javellana, said costs to be paid by
his counsel, Atty. Jose Hautea.

Reyes, J.B.L., Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Angeles and Fernando, JJ., concur.
Concepcion, C.J. and Dizon, J., took no part.
G.R. No. L-35867 June 28, 1973 The period for the filing of petitioner's reply lapsed on April 13, 1973 without counsel having filed
any reply manifestation explaining his failure to do so.
FRANCISCO A. ACHACOSO, in his own behalf and in behalf of Capital Insurance & Surety
Co., Inc., Accordingly, the Court in its resolution of May 24, 1973 denying the petition for review for lack of
vs. merit, further required petitioner's counsel to show cause why discipline action should not be
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, COTRAM, S.A., CAPITAL LIFE ASSURANCE CORP., taken against him for failure to file the reply after having obtained such leave and three
JOAQUIN G. GARRIDO, respondents. extensions time within which to do so.

Rodrigo M. Nera for petitioner. Counsel filed in due course his verified Explanation dated June 7, 1973 stating that he was
retained in the ease "on a piece-work basis on the verbal understanding that all expenses for the
preparation of pleadings and the cost of services of stenographer-typist shall be furnished in
Norberto J. Quisumbing & R.P. Mosqueda for private respondent.
advance by petition upon being notified thereof," that when he asked for a third extension on
March 29, 1973, he so informed petitioner and requested him to remit the expenses for the
RESOLUTION preparation of reply as per agreement" and that he tried to contact petitioner before the
expiration of the extended period but failed to do as petitioner "was then most of the time out of
his office."

Counsel relates that it was only on May 30, 1973 when he received notice of the Court's
TEEHANKEE, J.:
resolution of May 24, 1973 denying the petition and requiring his explanation — long after the
expiration on April 13, 1973 of the extended period for the filing of the reply — that he wrote
The Court censures the practice of counsels who secure repeated extensions of time to file their petitioner and in turn asked the petitioner to explain the latter's failure to comply with his request
pleadings and thereafter simply let the period lapse without submitting the pleading or even an for a remittance of P500.00 to cover the necessary expenses, and that petitioner had replied that
explanation or manifestation of their failure to do so. The Court herein reprimands petitioner's counsel's letter had been misplaced by a clerk and hence, petitioner had "failure to act on the
counsel for such misconduct with the warning that a repetition thereof will be dealt with more same."
severely.
Counsel pleads that "this counsel has not the least intention of delaying the administration of
Upon the filing on December 15, 1972 of the petition at bar for review of the Court of Appeals' justice and much less trifle with the resolutions and orders of this Honorable Court. The inability
decision dismissing petitioner's petition for mandamus filed with said court to compel the Manila of this counsel to submit the reply within the extension granted by this Honorable Court was due
court of first instance to allow petitioner's proposed appeal from its adverse judgment dismissing to supervening circumstances which could not be attributed to this counsel and that "if this poor
plaintiff's complaint, the Court per its resolution of December 22, 1972 required respondents to and humble practitioner has been impelled to inaction it surely was not intentional on his part,
comment thereon. the truth of the matter being that this counsel was just helpless in the face of petitioner's failure
to comply with his commitments aforesaid;" and that "this counsel deeply regrets this incident
and hereby apologizes to this Honorable Court for all his shortcomings relative to this case,
Respondents filed on February 8, 1973 an extensive eighteen page comment and petitioner's which after all were due to causes and circumstances not of his own making and far beyond his
counsel, Rodrigo M. Nera, filed on February 12, 1973 a motion for leave to file reply within 15 control."
days from notice alleging that there was need for such reply "in order that this Honorable Court
may be fully and completely informed of the nature of the controversy which gave rise to the
instant petition." The Court granted such leave per its resolution of February 23, 1973 and notice Counsel's explanation is far from satisfactory. If indeed he was not in a financial position to
of such leave was served on counsel on February 27, 1973. advance the necessary expenses for preparing and submitting the reply, then he could have
filed timely the necessary manifestation that he was foregoing the filing of such reply on
petitioner's behalf. His inaction unduly delayed the Court's prompt disposition of the case after
On the last day for filing of the reply, viz, March 14, 1973 counsel asked for an additional 15 the filing by respondents on February 8, 1973 of their comments on the petition showing its lack
days averring that "due to the pressure of urgent professional work and daily trial engagements of merit.
of the undersigned counsel during the original period granted, he has not had sufficient material
time to complete the preparation of petitioner's reply." The Court granted the requested
extension per its resolution of March 20, 1973. The Court would have then so disposed of the petition had it not been for petitioner's plea to be
given time and opportunity to file a reply to the comments in order to fully apprise the Court of
the nature of the controversy, which plea the Court granted in reliance on his good faith. Yet
On the last day of the extended period for filing of the reply, viz, March 29, 1973 counsel again after having obtained three extensions of time for the filing of the reply, counsel simply failed to
asked for still another 15-day extension stating that "due to the pressure of urgent professional file any reply nor to give the Court the courtesy of any explanation or manifestation for his failure
work and daily trial engagements of the undersigned counsel, he has not had sufficient material to do so.
time to complete the preparation of petitioners reply. The undersigned counsel humbly
apologizes that in view of his crowded schedule, he has been constrained to ask for this
extension, but respectfully assures the Honorable Court that this will be the last one requested.' Counsel readily perceived in his explanation that his conduct comes close to delaying the
As per its resolution of April 6, 1973, the Court granted counsel's motion for such third and last administration of justice and trifling with the Court's processes. It does not reflect well on
extension. counsel's conduct as an officer of the Court that after assuring the Court that the third extension
requested by him "in view of his crowded schedule" and "of urgent professional work and daily
trial engagements" would be the last within which period he would at last file the awaited reply,
for him thereafter to let the period simply lapse without any explanation whatsoever, and worse,
to wait to be found out, and have the Court require him to explain.

Considering, however, that counsel's record shows no previous infractions on his part since his
admission to the Philippine Bar in 1953, the Court is disposed to be lenient in this instance.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court hereby administers a reprimand on Atty. Rodrigo M. Nera, with the
warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely. Let a copy
of this resolution be filed in his personal record.

Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur.
A.C. No. 7062 September 26, 2006
13th Month Pay:
[Formerly CBD Case No. 04-1355]
1/12 of P239,236.40 = 19,936.36

RENERIO SAMBAJON, RONALD SAMBAJON, CRISANTO CONOS, and FREDILYN SILP


BACULBAS, complainants,
vs. 2/16/98 - 12/31/98 = 10.33 mos.
ATTY. JOSE A. SUING, respondent. P198.00 x 5 days x 10.33/ 12 = 852.22
1/1/99 - 12/31/99 = 12mos.
DECISION P223.50 x 5 days x 12/12 = 1,117.50
1/1/00 - 10/30/01 = 20 mos.
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
P250.00 x 5 days x 20/12 = 2,083.33 4,053.05

Complainants, via a complaint1 filed before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), have P263,225.81
sought the disbarment of Atty. Jose A. Suing (respondent) on the grounds of deceit, malpractice,
xxxx
violation of Lawyer's Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.2
7. RONALD SAMBAJON
Herein complainants were among the complainants in NLRC Case No. 00-0403180-98, (same as Conos) 263,225.81
"Microplast, Inc. Workers Union, Represented by its Union President Zoilo Ardan, et al. v.
Microplast, Incorporated and/or Johnny Rodil and Manuel Rodil," for Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) 8.FREDELYN BACULBAS
and Illegal Dismissal, while respondent was the counsel for the therein respondents. Said case (same as Conos) 263,225.81
was consolidated with NLRC Case No. 00-04-03161-98, "Microplast Incorporated v. Vilma
Ardan, et al.," for Illegal Strike. 9. RENEIRO SAMBAJON
(same as Conos) 263,225.81
By Decision of August 29, 2001,3 Labor Arbiter Ariel Cadiente Santos dismissed the Illegal Strike Total Backwages P2,370,674.38
case, and declared the employer-clients of respondent guilty of ULP. Thus, the Labor Arbiter
disposed:
Respondents are jointly and severally liable to pay the above-mentioned backwages
including the various monetary claims stated in the Manifestation dated August 24,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the complaint for illegal strike is dismissed for 1998 except payment of overtime pay and to pay 10% attorney's fees of all sums
lack of merit. owing to complainants.4 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Respondents Microplast, Inc., Johnny Rodil and Manuel Rodil are hereby declared The Decision having become final and executory, the Labor Arbiter issued on September 2,
guilty of Unfair Labor Practice for union busting and that the dismissal of the nine (9) 2003 a Writ of Execution.5
complainants are declared illegal. All the respondents in NLRC Case No. 00-04-
03161-98 for illegal dismissal are directed to reinstate all the complainants to their
former position with full backwages from date of dismissal until actual reinstatement In the meantime, on the basis of individual Release Waiver and Quitclaims dated February 27,
computed as follows: 2004 purportedly signed and sworn to by seven of the complainants in 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 were concerned, by Order dated March
3. CRISANTO CONOS 9, 2004. 6

Backwages:
Herein complainants, four of the seven who purportedly executed the Release Waiver and
Basic Wage: Quitclaims, denied having signed and sworn to before the Labor Arbiter the said documents or
having received the considerations therefor. Hence, spawned the administrative complaint at
2/21/98 – 10/30/99 = 20.30 mos. bar, alleging that respondent, acting in collusion with his clients Johnny and Manuel Rodil,
P198.00 x 26 days x 20.30 = P104, 504.40 "frustrated" the implementation of the Writ of Execution by presenting before the Labor Arbiter
the spurious documents.
10/31/99 - 10/31/00 = 12 mos.
P223.50 x 26 days x 12 = 69, 732.00
In a related move, complainants also filed a criminal complaint for Falsification against
11/01/00 - 8/30/01 = 10 mos. respondent, together with his clients Johnny and Manuel Rodil, before the Prosecutor's Office of
P250.00 x 26 days x 10 = 65,000.00 Quezon City where it was docketed as I.S. No. 04-5203.7

P239,236.40 In his Report and Recommendation8 dated September 27, 2005, IBP Commissioner Salvador B.
Hababag, who conducted an investigation of the administrative complaint at bar, recommended
that respondent be faulted for negligence and that he be reprimanded therefor with warning, in In respondent's Motion to Amend the IBP Board Resolution, he does not deny that those whom
light of his following discussion: he met face to face before Commissioner Hababag were not the same persons whom he saw
before Labor Arbiter Santos on February 27, 2004. 13 He hastens to add though that he was not
familiar with the complainants as they were not attending the hearings before Arbiter
The issue to be resolved is whether or not respondent can be disbarred for his alleged
Santos.14 Complainants15 and their former counsel Atty. Rodolfo Capocyan16 claim otherwise,
manipulation of four alleged RELEASE WAIVER AND QUITCLAIM by herein
however. And the Minutes17 of the proceedings before the National Conciliation Mediation Board
complainants who subsequently disclaimed the same as bogus and falsified.
in a related case, NCMB-NCR-NS-02-081-98, "Re: Microplast, Inc., Labor Dispute," which
minutes bear respondent's and complainants' signatures, belie respondent's claim that he had
A lawyer takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar. By doing so he thereby not met complainants before.
becomes an Officer of the Court on whose shoulders rests the grave responsibility of
assisting the courts in the proper, fair, speedy and efficient administration of justice.
Respondent, who declared that he went to the Office of the Labor Arbiter on February 27, 2004
on the request of his clients who "told him that on February 27, 2004 the seven claimants
Mindful of the fact that the present proceedings involve, on the one hand, the right of a w[ould] be at the office of Arbiter Santos [to] submit their respective quitclaims and waivers,"
litigant to seek redress against a member of the Bar who has, allegedly caused him heaps on the Labor Arbiter the responsibility of ascertaining the identity of the parties who
damaged, either through malice or negligence, while in the performance of his duties executed the Release Waiver and Quitclaims. But respondent himself had the same
as his counsel, and, on the other, the right of that member of the Bar to protect and responsibility. He was under obligation to protect his clients' interest, especially given the
preserve his good name and reputation, we have again gone over and considered amount allegedly given by them in consideration of the execution of the documents. His answers
[the] aspects of the case. to the clarificatory questions of Commissioner Hababag do not, however, show that he
discharged such obligation.
All the cases protesting and contesting the genuineness, veracity and due
execution of the questioned RELEASE WAIVER AND QUITCLAIM namely: Urgent COMM. HABABAG:
Ex-Parte Motion to Recall, Appeal and Falsification are PENDING resolution in their
respective venues. Arbiter Ariel Cadiente Santos, who was supposed to know the
But is it not a fact [that it is] also your duty to ask.. that the money of your
identities of the herein complainants is not impleaded by the complainants when it was
client would go to the deserving employee?
his solemn duty and obligation to ascertain true and real identities of person executing
Release Waiver with Quitclaim.
ATTY. SUING:
The old adage that in the performance of an official duty there is that presumption of
regularity unless proven otherwise, such was proven in the January 28, 2005 I did not do that anymore, Your Honor, because there was already as you
clarificatory questioning . . . : call it before a precedent in February of 1998 when my client directly made
settlement to the nine or eight of the seventeen original complainants, Your
Honor, and I did not participate. Hindi po ako nakialam don sa kanilang
xxxx
usapan because it is my belief that the best way, Your Honor, to have a
dispute settled between the parties is that we let them do the discussion,
. . . In the case at bar, the question of whether or not respondent actually committed we'll let them do the settlement because sometimes you know, Your Honor,
the despicable act would seem to be fairly debatable under the sad to say, when lawyers are involved in a matters [sic] of settlement the
circumstances.9 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) dispute does not terminate as in this case, Your Honor.

The Board of Governors of the IBP, by Resolution No. XVII-2005-226, approved and adopted xxxx
the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Hababag.
COMM. HABABAG:
After the records of the case were forwarded to the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC), the
Director for Bar Discipline of the IBP10 transmitted additional records including a Motion to
Yes. What made you appear on said date and time before Arbiter Santos?
Amend the Resolution No. XVII-2005-22611 filed by respondent.

ATTY. SUING:
One of the complainants, Renerio Sambajon (Sambajon), by Petition12 filed before the OBC,
assailed the IBP Board Resolution. The Petition was filed three days after the 15-day period to
assail the IBP Resolution. Sambajon explains that while his counsel received the Resolution on I was called by my client to go to the office of Arbiter Santos, number
February 27, 2006, he only learned of it when he visited on March 16, 2006 his counsel who one, to witness the signing of the documents of Quitclaim and Waiver;
could not reach him, he (Sambajon) having transferred from one residence to another. number 2, so that according to them someone as a lawyer will represent
them in that proceedings.
Giving Sambajon the benefit of the doubt behind the reason for the 3-day delay in filing the
present petition, in the interest of justice, this Court gives his petition due course. COMM. HABABAG:
My query, did it not surprise you that no money was given to you and yet ATTY. SUING:
there would be a signing of Quitclaim Receipt and Release?
Yes, Your Honor, I remember this. They asked me before February of 1998.
ATTY. SUING:
COMM. HABABAG:
I am not, your Honor, because it happened before and there were no
complaints, Your Honor.
When you say they whom are you referring to?

COMM. HABABAG:
ATTY. SUING:

Just because it happened before you did not bother to see to it that there is
I'm referring to my client, Your Honor.
a voucher so you just rely on your precedent, is that what you mean?

COMM. HABABAG:
ATTY. SUING:

They asked me attorney can you please prepare us a document of


Yes, Your Honor, because I always believe that the parties who are talking
Quitclaim and Waiver or give us a simple [sic] of Quitclaim and Waiver. I do
and it is my client who knows them better than I do, Your Honor.
recall that I made one but this document, Your Honor, is only a single
document where all the signatories named are present because my purpose
COMM. HABABAG: there really, Your Honor, is that so that each of them will be there together
and they will identify themselves, see each other para ho siguradong sila-
sila yong magkakasama at magkakakilanlan. x x x x And when the signing
So, you just followed the instruction of your client to be present at Arbiter
took place in February of 2004 it was made for any [sic] individual, Your
Cadiente Santos office because there would be signing of Quitclaim Receipt
Honor, no longer the document that I prepared when all of the seven
and Release, it that clear?
will be signing in one document.

ATTY. SUING:
COMM. HABABAG:

Yes, Your Honor.


Okay. You did not inquire from your client whom [sic] made the changes?

COMM. HABABAG:
ATTY. SUING:

[You] [d]id not bother to ask your client where is the money intended
I did not anymore because, Your Honor, at the time when I was there, there
for the payment of these workers?
are already people there, the seven complainants plus another
woman.18 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
ATTY. SUING:
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
I did not ask.
CANON 17 – A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND
COMM. HABABAG: HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.

You did not asked [sic] your client who will prepare the documents? CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND
DILIGENCE.
ATTY. SUING:
xxxx
As far as the documents are concerned, Your Honor.
Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.
COMM. HABABAG:

The Quitclaim Receipt and Release?


To be sure, respondent's client Manuel Rodil did not request him to go to the Office of Labor Ibig mong sabihin ibinigay sa yo to ng complainant o sinong nag-abot sa iyo
Arbiter Cadiente to be a mere passive witness to the signing of the Release Waiver and nitong Receipt Waiver and Quitclaim?
Quitclaims. That he was requested to go there could only mean that he would exert vigilance to
protect his clients' interest. This he conceded when he acknowledged the purpose of his
MR. RODIL:
presence at the Office of Labor Arbiter Santos, thus:

Si Atty. Suing po.


ATTY. SUING:

ATTY. SUING:
To go there, Your Honor, and represent them and see that these
document[s] are properly signed and that these people are properly
identified and verified them in front of Arbiter Ariel Cadiente In fact, ang tanong sa iyo kung ibinigay daw sa iyo yong mga dokumentong
Santos.19 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) ito or what?

That there was an alleged precedent in 1998 when a group of complainants entered into a COMM. HABABAG:
compromise agreement with his clients in which he "did not participate" and from which no
problem arose did not excuse him from carrying out the admitted purpose of going to the Labor
Okay, uulitin ko ha, tagalog na ang tanong ko sa iyo ha hindi na English. Ito
Arbiter's office — "that [the complainants] are properly identified . . . in front of [the] Arbiter."
bang Release Waiver and Quitclaim sino ang may gawa nito, sino ang
nagmakinilya nito?
Besides, by respondent's own information, Labor Arbiter Santos was entertaining doubts on the
true identity of those who executed the Release Waiver and Quitclaims. 20 That should have
alerted him to especially exercise the diligence of a lawyer to protect his clients' interest. But he MR. RODIL:
was not and he did not.
Kami yata ang gumawa niyan.
Diligence is "the attention and care required of a person in a given situation and is the
opposite of negligence." A lawyer serves his client with diligence by adopting that COMM. HABABAG:
norm of practice expected of men of good intentions. He thus owes entire devotion to
the interest of his client, warm zeal in the defense and maintenance of his rights, and
the exertion of his utmost learning, skill, and ability to ensure that nothing shall be Pag sinabi mong kami yata ang may gawa sino sa inyong mga officer,
taken or withheld from him, save by the rules of law legally applied. It is axiomatic in tauhan o abogado ang gumawa nito?
the practice of law that the price of success is eternal diligence to the cause of the
client. MR. RODIL:

The practice of law does not require extraordinary diligence (exactissima diligentia) or Matagal na ho yan eh.
that "extreme measure of care and caution which persons of unusual prudence and
circumspection use for securing and preserving their rights. All that is required is
ordinary diligence (diligentia) or that degree of vigilance expected of a bonus pater xxxx
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 Manuel
Rodil when the latter testified before Commissioner Manuel Hababag: Okay. Pangalawang gusto kong itanong. Sino ang naghatid nito kay Ariel
Cadiente Santos para pirmahan ni Ariel Cadiente Santos?
COMM. HABABAG:
MR. RODIL:
May pinirmahan dito na Quitclaim Receipt and Release. Ito ho ba sinong
may gawa nitong Receipt Waiver and Quitclaim? Si attorney po.

MR. RODIL: ATTY. SUING:

Sila po. Wait. I did not bring the documents. The Commissioner is asking kung sino
ang nagdala ng mga dokumento?
COMM. HABABAG:
MR. RODIL:
Yong mga tao. Ang sagot mo kay attorney. Sinong attorney ang tinutukoy mo?

xxxx MR. RODIL:

COMM. HABABAG: Atty. Suing po.

Simple ang tanong ko ha. Intindihin mo muna. Kanino mo inabot COMM. HABABAG:
ang bayad sa nakalagay dito sa Release waiver and Quitclaim?
Okay.
MR. RODIL:
ATTY. SUING:
Kay attorney po.
Your Honor,…
COMM. HABABAG:
COMM. HABABAG:
Pag sinabi mong kay attorney sinong tinutukoy mong attorney?
Pabayaan mo muna. I'll come to that. Magkano kung iyong natatandaan
ATTY. SUING: ang perang inabot kay Atty. Suing?

Yong ibinigay na pera pambayad saan, yon ang tanong. MR. RODIL:

COMM. HABABAG: Yan ang hindi ko matandaan.

Sundan mo ang tanong ko ha. Ako ang nagtatanong hindi ang abogado mo. x x x x22 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

MR. RODIL: Thus, not only did respondent try to coach his client or influence him to answer questions in an
apparent attempt not to incriminate him (respondent). His client contradicted respondent's claim
that the Release Waiver and Quitclaim which he (respondent) prepared was not the one
Opo.
presented at the Arbiter's Office, as well as his implied claim that he was not involved in
releasing to the complainants the money for and in consideration of the execution of the
COMM. HABABAG: documents.

Huwag kang tatawa. I'm reminding you serious tayo dito. As an officer of the court, a lawyer is called upon to assist in the administration of justice. He is
an instrument to advance its cause. Any act on his part that tends to obstruct, perverts or
impedes the administration of justice constitutes misconduct.23 While the Commission on Bar
MR. RODIL: Discipline is not a court, the proceedings therein are nonetheless part of a judicial proceeding, a
disciplinary action being in reality an investigation by the Court into the misconduct of its officers
Opo serious po. or an examination into his character.24

COMM. HABABAG: In Bantolo v. Castillon, Jr.25 the respondent lawyer was found guilty of gross misconduct for his
attempts to delay and obstruct the investigation being conducted by the IBP. Nonetheless, this
Court found that a suspension of one month from the practice of law was enough to give him
Sabi mo may inabutan kang taong pera? "the opportunity to retrace his steps back to the virtuous path of the legal profession."

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

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

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, and all courts throughout the country.

SO ORDERED.

Quisumbing, Chairperson, Carpio, Tinga, Velasco, Jr., J.J., concur.


A.C. No. 3455 April 14, 1998 Both respondent lawyer and complainant filed with the IBP-CBD their respective motions for the
reconsideration of the foregoing resolution.
ARSENIO A. VILLAFUERTE, complainant,
vs. On 23 August 1997, the Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XII-97-66 that —
ATTY. DANTE H. CORTEZ, respondent.
RESOLVE to CONFIRM Resolution No. XII-96-191 of the Board of
RESOLUTION Governors Meeting dated August 30, 1996 SUSPENDING Atty. Dante
Cortez from the practice of law for three (3) months with a warning that a
repetition of the acts/omission complained of will be dealt with more
severely.2

VITUG, J.:
The Court agrees with the IBP-CBD in its findings and conclusion that respondent lawyer has
somehow been remiss in his responsibilities.
Feeling aggrieved by what he perceives to be a neglect in the handling of his case by
respondent lawyer, despite the latter's receipt of P1,750.00 acceptance and retainer fees,
The Court is convinced that a lawyer-client relationship, given the circumstances, has arisen
complainant Arsenio A. Villafuerte seeks, in the instant proceedings, the disbarment of Atty.
between respondent and complainant. Respondent lawyer has admitted having received the
Dante H. Cortez.
amount of P1,750.00, including its nature and purpose, from complainant. His acceptance of the
payment effectively bars him from altogether disclaiming the existence of an attorney-client
From the records of the case and the Report submitted by the Commission on Bar Discipline relationship between them. It would not matter really whether the money has been intended to
("CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP), it would appear that sometime in January pertain only to Civil Case No. 83-18877 or to include Civil Case No. 062160-CV, there being no
1987, complainant, upon the referral of Atty. Rene A.V. Saguisag, went to the office of showing, in any event, that respondent lawyer has attended to either of said cases. It would
respondent lawyer to discuss his case for "reconveyance" (Civil Case No. 83-18877). During seem that he hardly has exerted any effort to find out what might have happened to his client's
their initial meeting, complainant tried to reconstruct before respondent lawyer the incidents of cases. A lawyer's fidelity to the cause of his client requires him to be ever mindful of the
the case merely from memory prompting the letter to ask complainant to instead return at responsibilities that should be expected of him. 3 He is mandated to exert his best efforts to
another time with the records of the case. On 30 January 1987, complainant again saw protect, within the bounds of the law, the interests of his client. The Code of Professional
respondent but still sans the records. Complainant requested respondent to accept the case, Responsibility cannot be any clearer in its dictum than when it has stated that a "lawyer shall
paying to the latter the sum of P1,750.00 representing the acceptance fee of P1,500.00 and serve his client with competence and diligence," 4 decreeing further that he "shall not neglect a
P250.00 retainer fee for January 1987. Respondent averred that he accepted the money with legal matter entrusted to him."5
much reluctance and only upon the condition that complainant would get the records of the case
from, as well as secure the withdrawal of appearance of, Atty. Jose Dizon, the former counsel of
Complainant, nevertheless, is not entirely without fault himself. He cannot expect his case to
complainant. Allegedly, complainant never showed up thereafter until November 1989 when he
properly and intelligently handled without listening to his own counsel and extending full
went to the office of respondent lawyer but only to leave a copy of a writ of execution in Civil
cooperation to him. It is not right for complainant to wait for almost two years and to deal with his
Case No. 062160-CV, a case for ejectment, which, according to respondent, was never priorly
lawyer only after receiving an adverse decision.
mentioned to him by complainant. Indeed, said respondent, he had never entered his
appearance in the aforenumbered case.
All considered, the Court deems it proper to reduce the recommended period of suspension of
the IBP from three months to one month.
In its report, IBP-CBD concluded that the facts established would just the same indicate
sufficiently a case of neglect of duty on the part of respondent. The CBD rejected the excuse
proffered by respondent that the non-receipt of the records of the case justified his failure to WHEREFORE, Atty. Dante H. Cortez is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
represent complainant. The IBP-CBD, through Commissioner Julio C. Elamparo, recommended period of one month from notice hereof, with a warning that a repetition of similar acts and other
to the IBP Board of Governors the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for three administrative lapses will be dealt with more severely than presently.
months with a warning that a repetition of similar acts could be dealt with more severely than a
mere 3-month suspension.
Let a copy of this Resolution be made a part of the personal records of respondent lawyer in the
Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and let copies thereof be
On 30 August 1996, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XII-96-191 which — furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and be circulated to all courts.

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and SO ORDERED.


APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, hereinmade part of this
Resolution/Decision as Annex "A;" and, finding the recommendation therein
to be fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and
rules, Respondent Atty. Dante Cortez is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for three (3) months with a warning that a repetition of the
acts/omission complained of will be dealt with more severely. 1
SECOND DIVISION Nonetheless, the court dismissed the complaint for unlawful detainer principally on the
ground that the plaintiffs are not the real parties-in-interest. The dispositive portion of
the Decision reads:

[A.C. No. 3967. September 3, 2003] WHEREFORE, this case is hereby dismissed on the ground that the plaintiffs have no legal
capacity to sue as they are not the real party (sic) in interest, in addition to the fact that there is
no privity of contract between the plaintiffs and the defendants as to the verbal lease agreement.

SO ORDERED.[9]
ARTEMIO ENDAYA, complainant, vs. ATTY. WILFREDO OCA, respondent.

Plaintiffs appealed the Decision to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Batangas City,
DECISION Branch 1, where the case was docketed as Civil Case No. 3378. On April 10, 1992, the RTC
directed the parties to file their respective memoranda.[10] Once again, respondent failed the
TINGA, J.: complainant and his wife. As observed by the RTC in its Decision[11] dated September 7, 1992,
respondent did not file the memorandum for his clients, thereby prompting the court to consider
The law is no brooding omnipresence in the sky, so spoke Justice Holmes. He must have the case as submitted for decision.[12]
made the statement because invariably the legal system is encountered in human form, notably
through the lawyers. For practical purposes, the lawyers not only represent the law; they are the In its Decision, the RTC reversed the decision appealed from as it held that plaintiffs are
law.[1] With their ubiquitous presence in the social milieu, lawyers have to be responsible. The the co-owners of the property in dispute and as such are parties-in-interest.[13] It also found that
problems they create in lawyering become public difficulties. To keep lawyers responsible the verbal lease agreement was on a month-to-month basis and perforce terminable by the
underlies the worth of the ethics of lawyering. Indeed, legal ethics is simply the aesthetic term for plaintiffs at the end of any given month upon proper notice to the defendants. [14] It also made a
professional responsibility. finding that defendants incurred rentals in arrears.[15] The decretal portion of the Decision reads,
thus:
The case before us demonstrates once again that when a lawyer violates his duties to his
client, the courts, the legal profession and the public, he engages in conduct which is both WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Taysan-
unethical and unprofessional. Lobo dated March 19, 1992, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and new one entered, to wit:
This case unfolded with a verified Complaint[2] filed on January 12, 1993 by complainant
Artemio Endaya against respondent Atty. Wifredo Oca for violation of the lawyers oath and what Defendants ARTEMIO ENDAYA and PATROSENIA ENDAYA and all persons claiming under
complainant termed as professional delinquency or infidelity. [3] The antecedents are: them are hereby ordered to vacate and dismantle their house on the land subject of the verbal
lease agreement at their own expense. The defendants are likewise ordered to pay the monthly
On November 7, 1991, a complaint for unlawful detainer docketed as Civil Case No. 34- rental of P25.00 from the month of January 1991 to November 1991 and ONE THOUSAND
MCTC-T was filed with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Taysan-Lobo, Batangas by Apolonia (P1,000.00) PESOS monthly from December 1991 until the defendants finally vacate and
H. Hornilla, Pedro Hernandez, Santiago Hernandez and Dominador Hernandez against surrender possession of the subject property to the plaintiffs and to pay attorneys fee in the
complainant and his spouse Patrosenia Endaya.[4] amount of TEN THOUSAND (P10,000.00) PESOS.
On December 13, 1991, the complainant and his wife as defendants in the case filed their
answer which was prepared by a certain Mr. Isaias Ramirez. A preliminary conference was No pronouncement as to cost.[16]
conducted on January 17, 1992, which complainant and his wife attended without counsel.
During the conference, complainant categorically admitted that plaintiffs were the declared
owners for taxation purposes of the land involved in the case. Continuation of the preliminary Complainant received a copy of the Decision on October 7, 1992. Two days later, or on
October 9, 1992, complainant confronted respondent with the adverse decision but the latter
conference was set on January 31, 1992. Thereafter, complainant sought the services of the
Public Attorneys Office in Batangas City and respondent was assigned to handle the case for denied receipt of a copy thereof. Upon inquiry with the Branch Clerk of Court, however,
the complainant and his wife.[5] complainant found out that respondent received his copy back on September 14, 1992.[17]

Having lost the unlawful detainer case, on January 12, 1993 complainant filed the present
At the continuation of the preliminary conference, respondent appeared as counsel for
complainant and his spouse. He moved for the amendment of the answer previously filed by administrative complaint against the respondent for professional delinquency consisting of his
complainant and his wife, but his motion was denied. [6] Thereafter, the court, presided by Acting failure to file the required pleadings in behalf of the complainant and his spouse. Complainant
contends that due to respondents inaction he lost the opportunity to present his cause and
Trial Court Judge Teodoro M. Baral, ordered the parties to submit their affidavits and position
papers within ten days from receipt of the order. The court also decreed that thirty days after ultimately the case itself.[18]
receipt of the last affidavit and position paper, or upon expiration of the period for filing the same, In his Comment[19] dated March 17, 1993, respondent denies that he committed
judgment shall be rendered on the case.[7] professional misconduct in violation of his oath, stressing that he was not the original counsel of
Respondent failed to submit the required affidavits and position paper, as may be gleaned complainant and his spouse.[20] He further avers that when he agreed to represent complainant
from the Decision dated March 19, 1992 of the MCTC where it was noted that only the plaintiffs at the continuation of the preliminary conference in the main case, it was for the sole purpose of
asking leave of court to file an amended answer because he was made to believe by the
submitted their affidavits and position papers.[8]
complainant that the answer was prepared by a non-lawyer. Upon discovering that the answer
was in fact the work of a lawyer, forthwith he asked the court to relieve him as complainants
counsel, but he was denied. He adds that he agreed to file the position paper for the Respondents allegation that complainant failed in his promise to submit the documents to
complainant upon the latters undertaking to provide him with the documents which support the support his claim was not denied by complainant; hence, it is deemed admitted. Complainant is
position that plaintiffs are not the owners of the property in dispute. As complainant had reneged not without fault; for misrepresenting that he could prove his claim through supporting
on his promise, he claims that he deemed it more prudent not to file any position paper as it documents, respondent was made to believe that he had a strong leg to stand on. A party
would be a repetition of the answer. He offers the same reason for not filing the memorandum cannot blame his counsel for negligence when he himself was guilty of neglect. (Macapagal vs.
on appeal with the RTC. Finally, respondent asserts that he fully explained his stand as regards Court of Appeals, 271 SCRA 491)[32]
Civil Case No. 34-MCTC-T to the complainant.[21]

Pursuant to our Resolution[22] dated May 10, 1993, complainant filed his Reply[23] to On April 18, 2001, we referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for
respondents Comment wherein he merely reiterated his allegations in the Complaint. investigation, report and recommendation.

On July 28, 1993, this Court directed respondent to file his rejoinder within ten days from Several hearings were set by the IBP but complainant did not appear even
notice of our Resolution.[24] But he failed to do so despite the lapse of a considerable period of once. Respondent attended five hearings, but he failed to present evidence in support of his
time. This prompted the Court to require respondent to show cause why he should not be defense, as required by Investigating Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez. This compelled the
disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt and to file his rejoinder, both within ten (10) days from latter to make his report on the basis of the pleadings and evidence forwarded by the Office of
notice.[25] the Bar Confidant.

In his Explanation[26] dated February 28, 1997, respondent admits having received a copy On October 11, 2002, Commissioner Fernandez issued his Report[33] wherein he
of the resolution requiring him to file a rejoinder. However, he asserts that he purposely did not concurred with the findings and recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant.
file a rejoinder for he believed in good faith that a rejoinder to complainants reply is no longer
In a Resolution[34] dated April 26, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors adopted the Report of
necessary.[27] He professes that in electing not to file a rejoinder he did not intend to cast
Commissioner Fernandez.
disrespect upon the Court.[28]
The Court is convinced that respondent violated the lawyers oath not only once but a
On June 16, 1997, we referred this case to the Office of the Bar Confidant for evaluation,
number of times in regard to the handling of his clients cause. The repeated violations also
report and recommendation.[29]
involve defilement of several Canons in the Code of Professional Responsibility.
In its Report[30] dated February 6, 2001, the Office of the Bar Confidant found respondent
Right off, the Court notes that respondent attributes his failure to file the required
negligent in handling the case of complainant and his wife and recommended that he be
pleadings for the complainant and his wife invariably to his strong personal belief that it was
suspended from the practice of law for one month. The pertinent portions of the Report read,
unnecessary or futile to file the pleadings. This was true with respect to the affidavits and
thus:
position paper at the MCTC level, the appeal memorandum at the RTC level and the rejoinder at
this Courts level. In the last instance, it took respondent as long as three years, under
It is to be noted that after appearing at the preliminary conference before the Municipal Circuit compulsion of a show cause order at that, only to manifest his predisposition not to file a
Trial Court, respondent was never heard from again. Respondents seeming indifference to the rejoinder after all. In other words, at the root of respondents transgressions is his seeming
cause of his client, specially when the case was on appeal, caused the defeat of herein stubborn mindset against the acts required of him by the courts. This intransigent attitude not
complainant. Respondent practically abandoned complainant in the midst of a storm. This is only belies lack of diligence and commitment but evinces absence of respect for the authority of
even more made serious of the fact that respondent, at that time, was assigned at the Public this Court and the other courts involved.
Attorneys Office- a government entity mandated to provide free and competent legal assistance.
The lawyers oath embodies the fundamental principles that guide every member of the
legal fraternity. From it springs the lawyers duties and responsibilities that any infringement
A lawyers devotion to his clients cause not only requires but also entitles him to deploy every thereof can cause his disbarment, suspension or other disciplinary action. [35]
honorable means to secure for the client what is justly due him or to present every defense
provided by law to enable the latters cause to succeed. (Miraflor vs. Hagad, 244 SCRA 106) Found in the oath is the duty of a lawyer to protect and safeguard the interest of his client.
Specifically, it requires a lawyer to conduct himself to the best of his knowledge and discretion
with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his clients. [36] This duty is further stressed
....
in Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates that (A) lawyer shall
serve his client with competence and diligence.
The facts, however, do not show that respondent employed every legal and honorable means to
advance the cause of his client. Had respondent tried his best, he could have found some other In this case, evidence abound that respondent failed to demonstrate the required diligence
defenses available to his client; but respondent was either too lazy or too convinced that his in handling the case of complainant and his spouse. As found by the Office of the Bar
client had a losing case. Confidant,[37] after appearing at the second preliminary conference before the MCTC,
respondent had not been heard of again until he commented on the complaint in this
case. Without disputing this fact, respondent reasons out that his appearance at the conference
.... was for the sole purpose of obtaining leave of court to file an amended answer and that when he
failed to obtain it because of complainants fault he asked the court that he be relieved as
For intentionally failing to submit the pleadings required by the court, respondent practically counsel.[38] The explanation has undertones of dishonesty for complainant had engaged
closed the door to the possibility of putting up a fair fight for his client. As the Court once held, A respondent for the entire case and not for just one incident. The alternative conclusion is that
client is bound by the negligence of his lawyer. (Diaz-Duarte vs. Ong, 298 SCRA 388)[31] respondent did not know his procedure for under the Rules on Summary Procedure [39] the
amended answer is a prohibited pleading.

However, the Bar Confidant did not find complainant entirely faultless. She observed, viz:
Even assuming respondent did in fact ask to be relieved, this could not mean that less manifested in court his intent not to file the pleadings to prevent delay in the disposition of the
was expected from him. Once a lawyer takes the cudgels for a clients case, he owes it to his case.[45] Specifically, the RTC would not have waited as it did for the lapse of three months from
client to see the case to the end. This, we pointed out in Legarda v. Court of Appeals,[40] thus: June 5,1992, the date when plaintiffs-appellants submitted their appeal memorandum, before it
rendered judgment. Had it known that respondent would not file the appeal memorandum, the
court could have decided the case much earlier.
It should be remembered that the moment a lawyer takes a clients cause, he covenants that he
will exert all effort for its prosecution until its final conclusion. A lawyer who fails to exercise due For his failure to inform the court, respondent violated Canon 12, to wit:
diligence or abandons his clients cause make him unworthy of the trust reposed on him by the
latter.[41]
Canon 12: A lawyer shall exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and
efficient administration of justice.
Also, we held in Santiago v. Fojas,[42] every case a lawyer accepts deserves his full
attention, diligence, skill, and competence, regardless of its importance and whether he accepts
if for a fee or for free. In other words, whatever the lawyers reason is for accepting a case, he is Respondent likewise failed to demonstrate the candor he owed his client. Canon
duty bound to do his utmost in prosecuting or defending it. 17 provides that (A) lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the
trust and confidence reposed in him. When complainant received the RTC decision, he talked to
Moreover, a lawyer continues to be a counsel of record until the lawyer-client relationship respondent about it.[46] However, respondent denied knowledge of the decision despite his
is terminated either by the act of his client or his own act, with permission of the court. Until such receipt thereof as early as September 14, 1992. Obviously, he tried to evade responsibility for
time, the lawyer is expected to do his best for the interest of his client [43] his negligence. In doing so, respondent was untruthful to complainant and effectively betrayed
the trust placed in him by the latter.
Thus, when respondent was directed to file affidavits and position paper by the MCTC,
and appeal memorandum by the RTC, he had no choice but to comply. However, respondent On top of all these is respondents employment as a lawyer of the Public Attorneys Office
did not bother to do so, in total disregard of the court orders. This constitutes negligence and which is tasked to provide free legal assistance for indigents and low-income persons so as to
malpractice proscribed by Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which promote the rule of law in the protection of the rights of the citizenry and the efficient and speedy
mandates that (A) lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in administration of justice.[47] Against this backdrop, respondent should have been more judicious
connection therewith shall render him liable. in the performance of his professional obligations. As we held in Vitriola v. Dasig[48] lawyers in
the government are public servants who owe the utmost fidelity to the public service.
Respondents failure to file the affidavits and position paper at the MCTC did not actually Furthermore, a lawyer from the government is not exempt from observing the degree of
prejudice his clients, for the court nevertheless rendered a decision favorable to them.However, diligence required in the Code of Professional Responsibility. Canon 6 of the Code provides that
the failure is per se a violation of Rule 18.03. the canons shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official tasks.
It was respondents failure to file appeal memorandum before the RTC which made At this juncture, it bears stressing that much is demanded from those who engage in the
complainant and his wife suffer as it resulted in their loss of the case. As found by the Office of practice of law because they have a duty not only to their clients, but also to the court, to the bar,
the Bar Confidant, to which we fully subscribe, in not filing the appeal memorandum respondent and to the public. The lawyers diligence and dedication to his work and profession not only
denied complainant and his spouse the chance of putting up a fair fight in the dispute. Canon promote the interest of his client, it likewise help attain the ends of justice by contributing to the
19 prescribes that (A) lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law. He proper and speedy administration of cases, bring prestige to the bar and maintain respect to the
should exert all efforts to avail of the remedies allowed under the law. Respondent did not do so, legal profession.[49]
thereby even putting to naught the advantage which his clients apparently gained by prevailing
at the MCTC level. Verily, respondent did not even bother to put up a fight for his clients. Clearly, The determination of the appropriate penalty to be imposed on an errant attorney involves
his conduct fell short of what Canon 19 requires and breached the trust reposed in him by his the exercise of sound judicial discretion based on the facts of the case.[50] In cases of similar
clients. nature, the penalty imposed by this Court consisted of reprimand, [51] fine of five hundred pesos
with warning,[52] suspension of three months,[53] six months,[54] and even disbarment in
We cannot sustain respondents excuse in not filing the affidavits and position paper with aggravated cases.[55]
the MCTC and the appeal memorandum with the RTC. He claims that he did not file the required
pleadings because complainant failed to furnish him with evidence that would substantiate The facts and circumstances in this case indubitably show respondents failure to live up to
complainants allegations in the answer. He argues that absent the supporting documents, the his duties as a lawyer in consonance with the strictures of the lawyers oath and the Code of
pleadings he could have filed would just be a repetition of the answer. However, respondent Professional Responsibility, thereby warranting his suspension from the practice of law. At
admits in his comment that complainant furnished him with the affidavit of persons purporting to various stages of the unlawful detainer case, respondent was remiss in the performance of his
be barangay officials attesting to an alleged admission by Felomino Hernandez, the brother of duty as counsel.
the plaintiffs in the unlawful detainer case, that he had already bought the disputed
property.[44] This did not precipitate respondent into action despite the evidentiary value of the To reiterate, respondent did not submit the affidavits and position paper when required by
affidavit, which was executed by disinterested persons. Said affidavit could have somehow the MCTC. With his resolution not to file the pleadings already firmed up, he did not bother to
bolstered the claim of complainant and his wife which was upheld by the MCTC that plaintiffs are inform the MCTC of his resolution in mockery of the authority of the court. His stubbornness
not the real parties-in-interest. While respondent could have thought this affidavit to be without continued at the RTC, for despite an order to file an appeal memorandum, respondent did not
probative value, he should have left it to the sound judgment of the court to determine whether file any. Neither did he manifest before the court that he would no longer file the pleading, thus
the affidavit supports the assertions of his clients. That could have happened had he filed the further delaying the proceedings. He had no misgivings about his deviant behavior, for despite
required position paper and annexed the affidavit thereto. receipt of a copy of the adverse decision by the RTC he opted not to inform his clients
accordingly. Worse, he denied knowledge of the decision when confronted by the complainant
Further, notwithstanding his belief that without the supporting documents filing the about it.
required pleadings would be a futile exercise, still respondent should have formally and promptly
At this Courts level, respondents stubborn and uncaring demeanor surfaced again when
he did not file a rejoinder to complainants reply.

Respondents story projects in vivid detail his appalling indifference to his clients cause,
deplorable lack of respect for the courts and a brazen disregard of his duties as a lawyer.

However, we are not unmindful of some facts which extenuate respondents misconduct.
First, when complainant sought the assistance of respondent as a PAO lawyer, he
misrepresented that his answer was prepared by someone who is not a lawyer. Second, when
complainant showed respondent a copy of their answer with the MCTC, he assured him that he
had strong evidence to support the defense in the answer that plaintiffs were no longer the
owners of the property in dispute. However, all that he could provide respondent was the
affidavit of the barangay officials. Last but not least, it is of public knowledge that the Public
Attorneys Office is burdened with a heavy caseload.

All things considered, we conclude that suspension for two (2) months from the practice of
law is the proper and just penalty.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Wilfredo Oca is ordered SUSPENDED from the practice
of law for two (2) months from notice, with the warning that a similar misconduct will be dealt
with more severely. Let a copy of this decision be attached to respondents personal record in the
Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) and to all the courts in the land.

SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 6125 September 19, 2006 Respondent confirmed that in 1995, complainant and his partners expressed interest in
acquiring Dizon's property. Respondent also explained that complainant and his partners, as
buyers of the tenant-farmers' properties, were impleaded as defendants in the Lizares cases.
SIMON D. PAZ, complainant,
Respondent came to represent complainant and his partners because they "did not get a lawyer
vs.
of their own and allowed respondent to represent them too." 4
ATTY. PEPITO A. SANCHEZ, respondent.

On the DARAB case, respondent clarified that the complaint 5 was filed on 15 May 1997 and not,
DECISION
as complainant claimed, after respondent's services was terminated in May 2000. Respondent
declared that he was compelled to file the case because he felt responsible for the cancellation
CARPIO, J.: of TCT No. 25214. Respondent explained that he lent Dizon's title to complainant and his
partners enabling them to transfer the title in their names. Denying that there was "malicious
machination" in the filing of the DARAB case, respondent stated that the address he placed was
The Case
the address of complainant in 1997. The 20 August 2002 DARAB decision6 specifically stated
that a copy of the complaint, summons and notices were duly served and received by
This is a disbarment complaint filed by Simon D. Paz ("complainant") against Atty. Pepito A. complainant and his partners. However, complainant and his partners ignored the complaint,
Sanchez ("respondent") for representing conflicting interests and violation of the lawyer's oath. summons and notices, which led to the issuance of a judgment in Dizon's favor. Moreover, there
was entry of judgment7 on 21 November 2002 and the writ of execution8 was issued on 10
December 2002.
The Facts

On the RTC case, respondent explained that he was compelled to file the case when he
In his complaint dated 23 July 2003, complainant stated that sometime in 1995, complainant and discovered that TCT No. 420127-R, in the name of complainant and his partners, was
his partners, Alfredo Uyecio and Petronila Catap, engaged the services of respondent to assist transferred in the name of Sycamore. Respondent pointed out that unless TCT No. 483629-R is
them purchase, as well as document the purchase, of several parcels of land from tenant- nullified, the Register of Deeds cannot execute the DARAB decision. Respondent denied that he
farmers in Pampanga. Respondent was also tasked to defend complainant's claim on the violated the prohibition on forum shopping.9 Respondent also maintained that the cases he filed
properties against the claim of a certain George Lizares ("Lizares"). were "justifiable, tenable and meritorious."

The complaint arose because respondent, allegedly after the termination of his services in May In a Resolution dated 12 November 2003, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of
2000, filed a complaint before the Department of Agrarian Reform Board ("DARAB case") in the Philippines ("IBP") for investigation, report and recommendation.
behalf of one Isidro Dizon ("Dizon") for annulment of Transfer Certificate Title No. 420127-R
("TCT No. 420127-R") in the name of complainant and his partners.1 Complainant explained that
Dizon's property, covered by Emancipation Patent No. 00708554/Transfer Certificate Title No. Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan ("Commissioner San Juan") set the case for mandatory
25214 ("TCT No. 25214"), was among those properties purchased by complainant with conference on 4 March 2004. Both parties appeared and were given ten days to submit their
respondent's assistance. Complainant alleged that respondent is guilty of representing position papers. Both parties complied.
conflicting interests when he represented Dizon in a case involving the same properties and
transactions in which he previously acted as complainant's counsel. Complainant added that The IBP's Report and Recommendation
respondent filed the DARAB case with "malicious machination" because respondent used
complainant's old address to serve the complaint and summons, enabling respondent to obtain a
judgment by default in Dizon's favor. The IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVI-2005-78 dated 12 March 2005 adopting,
with modification,10 Commissioner San Juan's Report and Recommendation finding respondent
guilty of violating the prohibition against representing conflicting interests. The IBP Board of
Complainant also stated that on 23 June 2003, respondent, despite knowledge of complainant's Governors recommended the imposition on respondent of a penalty of one year suspension
pending petition for review of judgment in the DARAB case, filed a civil case ("RTC case")
from the practice of law with a warning that a similar offense in the future will be dealt with more
against complainant and Sycamore Venture Corporation2 ("Sycamore") before the Regional Trial severely.
Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, for annulment of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 483629-R
("TCT No. 483629-R").3 Complainant pointed out that respondent should be punished for forum
shopping and preparing a false certification of non-forum shopping because respondent failed to The IBP Board of Governors forwarded the case to the Court as provided under Section 12(b),
disclose complainant's pending petition before the DARAB. Complainant also charged Rule 139-B11 of the Rules of Court.
respondent with violation of the lawyer's oath because, "with malice and full knowledge of the
real facts," respondent filed groundless and false suits against complainant, his partners and
The Court's Ruling
Sycamore.

The Court finds insufficient evidence to hold respondent liable for forum shopping and for filing
In his comment dated 2 October 2003, respondent stated that he has been representing the
groundless suits. However, the Court finds respondent liable for violation of the prohibition on
tenant-farmers, including Dizon, in their cases before the DARAB and the courts since 1978.
representing conflicting interests.
Respondent also represented the tenant-farmers against the claims of Lizares, who filed cases
for the cancellation of their emancipation patents.
On Respondent's Violation of the Rules
on Non-Forum Shopping
Forum shopping takes place when a litigant files multiple suits, either simultaneously or In Maturan v. Gonzales, the Court said:
successively, involving the same parties to secure a favorable judgment. 12 Forum shopping
exists if the actions raise identical causes of action, subject matter and issues. 13 The mere filing
The reason for the prohibition is found in the relation of attorney and client, which is
of several
one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. A lawyer becomes familiar with all
the facts connected with his client's case. He learns from his client the weak points of
cases based on the same incident does not necessarily constitute forum shopping. 14 the action as well as the strong ones. Such knowledge must be considered sacred
and guarded with care. No opportunity must be given him to take advantage of the
client's secrets. A lawyer must have the fullest confidence of his client. For if the
The Court notes that the certification against forum shopping did not form part of the records of
confidence is abused, the profession will suffer by the loss thereof. 21
the case. However, a comparison of the two cases reveal that there was no forum shopping.
Although both cases are related because Dizon's property is involved, the reliefs prayed for are
different. In the DARAB case, Dizon prayed for the cancellation of TCT No. 420127-R in the On the Appropriate Penalty Against Respondent
name of complainant and his partners. In the RTC case, Dizon's widow prayed for the
cancellation of TCT No. 483629-R in the name of Sycamore. Respondent cannot be held liable
In cases involving representation of conflicting interests, the Court has imposed on the erring
for forum shopping.
lawyer either a reprimand,22 or a suspension from the practice of law from six months 23 to two
years.24
On Respondent's Violation of the Lawyer's Oath
In this case, we deem it proper to suspend respondent from the practice of law for one year as
Lawyers take an oath that they will not wittingly or willingly promote any groundless, false or recommended by the IBP.
unlawful suit, nor give aid or consent to the same. The Court notes that the cases are still
pending before the DARAB and the RTC. The Court, therefore, does not have any basis for
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Pepito A. Sanchez GUILTY of violating Rule
ruling if there was a violation of the oath.
15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Court SUSPENDS respondent from the
practice of law
On Respondent's Violation of the Prohibition against
Representing Conflicting Interests
for ONE YEAR and WARNS respondent that the commission of a similar act in the future will
merit a more severe penalty.
Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that "a lawyer shall not represent
conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after full disclosure of the
Let copies of this decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to
facts." Lawyers are deemed to represent conflicting interests when, in behalf of one client, it is
respondent's personal record as attorney. Likewise, copies shall be furnished to the Integrated
their duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires them to oppose. 15 The
Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.
proscription against representation of conflicting interest applies to a situation where the
opposing parties are present clients in the same action or in an unrelated action. 16
SO ORDERED.
By respondent's own admission, when he filed the DARAB case on Dizon's behalf against
complainant, both complainant and Dizon were respondent's clients at that Quisumbing, Chairperson, Carpio-Morales, Tinga, Velasco, Jr., J.J., concur.
time. Respondent was representing complainant in the cases against Lizares where respondent
was duty-bound to defend complainant's title over the properties against the claims of Lizares.
While it is not clear from the records that the Lizares cases included Dizon's property, it is
undisputed that respondent acted as complainant's counsel in the Lizares cases. At the same
time, respondent was also representing Dizon before the DARAB for cancellation of lis
pendens17 involving Dizon's property, which cancellation was needed for complainant to
purchase the Dizon property. In filing the second DARAB case on Dizon's behalf, respondent
was duty-bound to assail complainant's title over Dizon's property, which complainant had
purchased from Dizon. Respondent was clearly in a conflict of interest situation.

The Court notes that respondent did not specifically deny that he represented conflicting
interests. Respondent merely offered to justify his actuations by stating that he felt it was his
"duty and responsibility" to file the case because he felt responsible for the cancellation of TCT
No. 25214 and its subsequent transfer in complainant's name. 18 Respondent stated that he "will
forever be bothered by his conscience" if he did not file the case.19However, good faith and
honest intentions do not excuse the violation of this prohibition. 20 In representing both
complainant and Dizon, respondent's duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his clients was
placed under a cloud of doubt. Respondent should have inhibited himself from representing
Dizon against complainant in the DARAB and RTC cases to avoid conflict of interest.
A.C. No. 4763 March 20, 2003 compromise agreement as well as the attorney's fees of Atty. Mariño worth P4,200,000.00
against the P42,000,000.00 outlay.
DR. GIL Y. GAMILLA, NORMA S. CALAGUAS, IRMA E. POTENCIANO, EDITHA OCAMPO,
LUZ DE GUZMAN, GLICERIA BALDRES, FERDINAND LIMOS, MA. LOURDES C. MEDINA, In accordance with the memorandum of agreement, UST took care of the disbursement of
HIDELITA GABO, CORAZON CUI, REMEDIOS T. GARCIA, RENE ARNEJO, RENE LUIS P20,226,221.60 from the total commitment of P42,000,000.00 to pay for the following expenses:
TADLE, LAURA ABARA, PHILIP AGUINALDO, BENEDICTA ALAVA, LEONCIO CASAL, (a) P2,000,000.00 as payment for unpaid obligations to faculty members under the 1986
CARMELITA ESPINA, ZENAIDA FAMORCA, CELSO NIERA, CESAR REYES, NATIVIDAD collective bargaining agreement; (b) P13,833,597.96 for the salary increases of faculty members
SANTOS and MAFEL YSRAEL, complainants, from 1 June 1991 to 31 October 1992; (c) P192,623.64 for telephone, electricity and water
vs. billings; and, (d) P4,200,000.00 paid to the UST Faculty Union as attorney's fees. The expenses
ATTY. EDUARDO J. MARIÑO JR., respondent. left a collectible sum of P21,773,778.40 from the obligation of P42,000,000.00. The university
however relinquished only P18,038,939.37 to the UST Faculty Union which was P3,734,839.03
short of the balance of P21,773,778.40. In the meantime, the UST Faculty Union placed
BELLOSILLO, J.:
P9,766,570.01 of the amount received from UST in the money market to earn as it did make
P1,146,381.27 in interest.
THIS DISBARMENT CASE EMANATED from an intra-union leadership dispute some seventeen
(17) years ago that spilled over to the instant complaint alleging impropriety and double-dealing
For benefits corresponding to 1 November 1992 to 31 May 1993, the UST Faculty Union
in the disbursement of sums of money entrusted by the University of Sto. Tomas to respondent
charged against the short-changed amount of P18,038,939.37 a total of P16,723,638.27
Atty. Eduardo J. Mariño Jr. as president of the UST Faculty Union and his core of officers and
consisting of the following expenses: (a) P10,521,800.64 as the amount paid for salary
directors for distribution among faculty members of the university.1
increases beginning 1 November 1992 to 31 May 1993; (b) P578,296.31 which was refunded to
the faculty members whose salaries were reduced as a result of their participation in the 1989
For a sense of history, sometime in 1986 respondent Atty. Mariño Jr. as president of the UST strike; (c) P2,045,192.97 as amount paid to the faculty members representing their December
Faculty Union and other union officers entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the 1992 bonus; and, (d) P3,578,348.35 for reimbursements to the University of Santo Tomas. The
management of UST for the provision of economic benefits amounting to P35 million. Instead of expenses left a balance of P5,050,140.13, i.e., the remainder of P1,315,301.10 out of the
creating a harmonious relationship between the contracting parties, the collective bargaining P18,038,939.37 earlier turned over by UST to the UST Faculty Union, plus the deficit amount of
agreement regrettably engendered disputes arising from the interpretation and implementation P3,734,839.03 which UST later turned over to the UST Faculty Union after previously failing to
thereof one of which even reached this Court.2 deliver the amount. To the sum of P5,050,140.13, the UST Faculty Union added the interest
earnings of P1,146,381.27 from money market investments as well as the amount of
P192,632.64 representing the disallowed amount of expenses earlier deducted by UST from the
The 1986 collective bargaining agreement expired in 1988 but efforts to forge a new one P42,000,000.00 package. All in all, the money left in the possession of the UST Faculty Union
unfortunately failed. In 1989 the faculty members of UST went on strike and as a counter- was P6,389,154.04 which it distributed among the faculty members in 1994.
measure UST terminated the employment of sixteen (16) officers and directors of the UST
Faculty Union including respondent. The dismissal precipitated anew bitter legal battles which
were resolved by this Court in favor of the dismissed employees by ordering their reinstatement Complainants as members of the UST Faculty Union questioned the alleged lack of
with back wages.3 transparency among the officers and directors of the union in the management and
disbursement of the monetary benefits for the faculty members. They initiated two (2) complaints
with the Office of the Regional Director, National Capital Region, Department of Labor and
In 1990 Secretary of Labor Ruben D. Torres prescribed the terms and conditions of a five (5)- Employment, one on 18 October 1995, docketed as Case No. NCR-OD-M-9412-022, and
year collective bargaining agreement between UST and the UST Faculty Union retroactive to
another, on 16 November 1996, docketed as Case No. NCR-OD-M-9510-028. In both pleadings,
1988 when the 1986 collective bargaining agreement expired. In the same year, the they prayed for the expulsion of the officers and directors of the union led by respondent Atty.
administration of UST and the UST Faculty Union also entered into a compromise agreement for Mariño because of their alleged failure to account for the balance of the P42,000,000.00 ceded
the payment of P7,000,000.00 from which P5,000,000.00 was intended to settle the back wages
to them by UST and the attorney's fees amounting to P4,200,000.00 which they deducted from
and other claims of the sixteen (16) union officers and directors of the UST Faculty Union, the benefits allotted to faculty members.4
including herein respondent, who were earlier ordered reinstated by this Court, and the sum of
P2,000,000.00 to satisfy the remaining obligations of UST under the 1986 collective bargaining
agreement. It appears from the record that only P5,000,000.00 for the back wages and other On 2 July 1997 complainants filed the instant complaint for disbarment against Atty. Mariño
claims of respondent Atty. Mariño and other concerned union officers and directors was paid accusing him of (a) compromising their entitlements under the 1986 collective bargaining
immediately by UST while the satisfaction of the balance of P2,000,000.00 was apparently agreement without the knowledge, consent or ratification of the union members, and worse, for
deferred to some unspecified time. only P2,000,000.00 when they could have received more than P9,000,000.00; (b) failing to
account for the P7,000,000.00 received by him and other officers and directors in the UST
Faculty Union under the 1990 compromise agreement; (c) lack of transparency in the
In 1992 UST and the UST Faculty Union executed a memorandum of agreement to settle the
administration and distribution of the remaining balance of the P42,000,000.00 package under
salary increases and other benefits under the collective bargaining agreement effective 1988 for the 1992 memorandum of agreement; (d) refusal to remit and account for the P4,200,000.00 in
the period 1 June 1991 to 31 May 1993 for a total of P42,000,000.00. It was agreed that the favor of the faculty members although the amount was denominated as attorney's fees.
benefits accruing from 1 June 1991 to 31 October 1992 were to be taken from the sum of
Complainants asserted that respondent violated Rules 1.015 and 1.026 of Canon 1; Rule
P42,000,000.00 which UST would release directly to the faculty members, while the remainder 15.087 of Canon 15; Rules 16.01,8 16.029 and 16.0310 of Canon 16; and Rule 20.0411 of Canon
of the P42,000,000.00 package would be ceded by UST to the UST Faculty Union which would 20, of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
then disburse the balance to cover the benefits from 1 November 1992 to 31 May 1993. The
memorandum of agreement also charged the amount of P2,000,000.00 agreed upon in the 1990
On 4 November 1997, after several extensions Atty. Mariño filed his comment on the complaint. value of this case to members of the Bench, many of whom are engaged simultaneously in other
He alleged that the issues raised therein were the same issues involved in the two (2) businesses or professions, we find it prudent and judicious to decide the instant case once and
complaints before the Bureau of Labor Relations and therefore constituted forum-shopping, and for all.
further explained that he had adequately accounted for the disbursement of the money
demanded by complainants.
In fine, there are ethical lapses on the part of respondent Atty. Eduardo J. Mariño Jr. in the
manner by which he secured the P7,000,000.00 by virtue of the compromise agreement and the
On 18 March 1998 we referred the disbarment complaint and the comment thereon to the P4,200,000.00 attorney's fees under the memorandum of agreement. Although the record
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation within ninety (90) shows that the Bureau of Labor Relations found respondent as having adequately accounted for
days from notice thereof. the disbursement of the funds which the UST Faculty Union received through the series of
agreements with the management of UST, this Court believes that Atty. Mariño failed to avoid
conflict of interests, first, when he negotiated for the compromise agreement wherein he played
On 18 May 1999 we received the Report of IBP Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro as well as
the diverse roles of union president, union attorney and interested party being one of the
the Resolution of 30 March 1999 of the IBP Board of Governors adopting and approving the
dismissed employees seeking his own restitution, and thereafter, when he obtained the
Report which found the complaint meritorious and suspended respondent Atty. Mariño from the
attorney's fees of P4,200,000.00 without full prior disclosure of the circumstances justifying such
practice of law "until such time that the required detailed accounting of the questioned
claim to the members of the UST Faculty Union.
remittances made by UST to the UST [Faculty Union] during his incumbency as President and
Legal Counsel has been officially submitted and reported to the UST [Faculty Union] and to the
IBP." As one of the sixteen (16) union officers and directors seeking compensation from the University
of Santo Tomas for their illegal dismissal, respondent was involved in obvious conflict of
interests when in addition he chose to act as concurrent lawyer and president of the UST Faculty
On 7 September 1999 respondent filed his comment on the IBP Report and Resolution and
Union in forging the compromise agreement. The test of conflict of interest among lawyers is
alleged the same contentions he previously asserted. On 27 October 1999 we referred the case
"whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his
back to the IBP for a more detailed investigation and submission of report and recommendation
duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-
within sixty (60) days from notice.
dealing in the performance thereof."15 In the same manner, it is undoubtedly a conflict of
interests for an attorney to put himself in a position where self-interest tempts, or worse, actually
In the meantime, or on 27 May 1999, the Regional Director found merit in the two (2) complaints impels him to do less than his best for his client.
docketed as Case No. NCR-OD-M-9412-022 and Case No. NCR-OD-M-9510-028 and ordered
the expulsion of respondent and the other officers and directors of the union led by respondent
Thus it has been held that an attorney or any other person occupying fiduciary relations
Atty. Mariño because of their failure to account for the balance of the P42,000,000.00 that had
respecting property or persons is utterly disabled from acquiring for his own benefit the property
been delivered to them by the management of UST, and their collection of exorbitant and illegal
committed to his custody for management.16 This rule is entirely independent of whether fraud
attorney's fees amounting to P4,200,000.00.12
has intervened as in fact no fraud need be shown; no excuse will be heard from an attorney
because the rule stands on the moral obligation to refrain from placing oneself in positions that
On 9 March 2000 the Bureau of Labor Relations in the appeal docketed as BLR-A-TR-52-25-10- ordinarily excite conflict between self-interest and integrity.
99 set aside the Order of the Regional Director. It found that the balance of the P42,000,000.00
which UST delivered to the UST Faculty Union had been fully and adequately accounted for by
Necessarily, a lawyer cannot continue representing a client in an action or any proceeding
respondent and the other officers and directors of the union. 13 Nonetheless, the Bureau of Labor
against a party even with the client's consent after the lawyer brings suit in his own behalf
Relations ordered respondent and the other officers and directors of the union to distribute the
against the same defendant if it is uncertain whether the defendant will be able to satisfy both
attorney's fees of P4,200,000.00 among the faculty members and to immediately hold the
judgments.17 No doubt, a lawyer is not authorized to have financial stakes in the subject matter
elections for union officers and directors in view of the expiration of their respective terms of
of the suit brought in behalf of his client.18
office.

In the instant case, quite apart from the issue of validity of the 1990 compromise agreement, this
On 16 March 2001 the Decision of the Bureau of Labor Relations was affirmed in toto by the
Court finds fault in respondent's omission of that basic sense of fidelity to steer clear of
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 60657.14 The Decision of the Court of Appeals was
situations that put his loyalty and devotion to his client, the faculty members of UST, open to
elevated to this Court, docketed G.R. No. 149763, where the case is allegedly still pending
question. Atty. Mariño both as lawyer and president of the union was duty bound to protect and
resolution.
advance the interest of union members and the bargaining unit above his own. This obligation
was jeopardized when his personal interest as one of the dismissed employees of UST
On 25 September 2002 we received the detailed Report and Recommendation of IBP complicated the negotiation process and eventually resulted in the lopsided compromise
Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro and the IBP Resolution of 3 August 2002 of the Board of agreement that rightly or wrongly brought money to him and the other dismissed union officers
Governors adopting and approving the Reportwhich recommended the lifting of Atty. Mariño's and directors, seemingly or otherwise at the expense of the faculty members.
suspension from law practice since he had sufficiently accounted for the funds in question.
The facts would affirm this observation. In brokering the compromise agreement, respondent
For a start, it appears that complainants did not file a petition with this Court to review the received P5,000,000.00 as compensation for the dismissed union officials while only
IBP Resolutionexonerating respondent from the accusations against him and lifting his P2,000,000.00 apparently settled UST's obligations in favor of the faculty members under the
suspension from the practice of law, an action otherwise required under Sec. 12, Rule 139-B of 1986 collective bargaining agreement when their original claim amounted to at least
the Rules of Court if the case against respondent could still proceed in this Court. Nevertheless P9,000,000.00. Worse, the P2,000,000.00 concession for accountabilities demandable long ago
since the IBP Resolution is merely recommendatory, and considering further the instructional in 1986 was paid only in 1992 under the memorandum of agreement, or a period of more than
two (2) years after the execution of the compromise agreement, in contrast to the immediate as well as an explanation on the details of the agreements, would have enlightened the faculty
payment of the P5,000,000.00 to Atty. Mariño and the other union officers and directors. members about the probability of conflict of interests on respondent's part and guided them to
look for alternative actions to protect their own interests.
Respondent Atty. Mariño ought to have disclosed to the members of the UST Faculty Union, if
not the entire bargaining unit of faculty members, his interest in the compromise agreement as In light of the irrefragable fact of respondent's misdemeanor, a possible mitigation of his
one of the dismissed union officers seeking compensation for the claim of back wages and other actionable conduct was that the attorney's fees and the compromise agreement were negotiated
forms of damages, and also the reasons for reducing the claim of the faculty members from and finalized under the most strenuous circumstances where his leadership and that of his core
more than P9,000,000.00 to only P2,000,000.00. As the record shows, the explanations for officers and directors were incessantly challenged by complainants allegedly aided by factions
respondent's actions were disclosed only years after the consummation of the compromise within UST itself. He might also have believed that the settlement achieved immense benefits for
agreement, particularly only after the instant complaint for disbarment was filed against him, his constituents which would not have been otherwise obtained if he had chosen to relinquish
when the accounting should have been forthcoming either before or during the settlement of the the rein of legal representation to some other lawyer. Finally, it was not improbable for him to
labor case against the management of UST. suppose though wrongly that he could represent and in some manner serve the interests of all of
them, including his own, by pushing for and seeking the approval of the agreements himself. 20
Equally important, since respondent and the other union officers and directors were to get for
themselves a lion's share of the compromise as they ultimately did, Atty. Mariño should have We reiterate that the objective of a disciplinary case is not so much to punish the individual
unambiguously divulged and made clear to his client the compelling probability of conflict of attorney as to protect the dispensation of justice by sheltering the judiciary and the public from
interests. He should have voluntarily turned over the reins of legal representation to another the misconduct or inefficiency of officers of the court. Restorative justice not retribution is our
lawyer who could have acted on the matter with a deep sense of impartiality over the several goal in this type of proceedings. In view of this, instead of taking a more stern measure against
claims against UST and an unfettered commitment to the cause of the faculty members. respondent, a reprimand and a warning would be sufficient disciplinary action in accordance with
our ruling in Sumangil v. Sta. Romana.21 Hence, Atty. Mariño is admonished to refrain from all
appearances and acts of impropriety including circumstances indicating conflict of interests, and
Furthermore, there was lack of notice and transparency in respondent's dual role as lawyer and
to behave at all times with circumspection and dedication befitting a member of the Bar,
president of the UST Faculty Union when he obtained P4,200,000.00 as attorney's fees. Without
especially observing candor, fairness and loyalty in all transactions with his client. 22
ruling on the validity of the collection of attorney's fees so as not to pre-empt the decision in G.R.
No. 149763 on this issue, the record does not show any justification for such huge amount of
compensation nor any clear differentiation between his legal services and his tasks as union WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Eduardo J. Mariño Jr. is REPRIMANDED for his misconduct
president comprising in all probability the same duties for which he had collected a hefty with a warning that a more drastic punishment will be imposed on him upon a repetition of the
compensation as attorney for the union. same act.

The situation of Atty. Mariño is not any different from that of an executor or administrator of an SO ORDERED.
estate who may not charge against the estate any professional fee for legal services rendered
by him because his efforts as such are already paid for in his capacity as executor or
Mendoza, Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.
administrator.19 Indeed, he could have avoided complaints and perceptions of self-enrichment
arising from the levy of attorney's fees by spelling out the terms and bases for the claim of
P4,200,000.00 since the compensation for his services as president of the union should have
otherwise covered his legal services as well.

Regardless of the motivations of respondent in perfecting the compromise agreement or


demanding the inexplicable attorney's fees, his actions were not transparent enough to allow the
bargaining unit ample information to decide freely and intelligently. Clearly, he violated Canon 15
of the Code of Professional Responsibility requiring every lawyer to "observe candor, fairness
and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his clients." Lawyers are vanguards in the
bastion of justice so they are without doubt expected to have a bigger dose of service-oriented
conscience and a little less of self-interest.

As indispensable part of the system of administering justice, attorneys must comply strictly with
the oath of office and the canons of professional ethics - a duty more than imperative during
these critical times when strong and disturbing criticisms are hurled at the practice of law. The
process of imbibing ethical standards can begin with the simple act of openness and candor in
dealing with clients, which would progress thereafter towards the ideal that a lawyer's vocation is
not synonymous with an ordinary business proposition but a serious matter of public interest.

The evidence on record proves that Atty. Mariño failed to disclose at crucial moments significant
information about the manner by which he secured the P7,000,000.00 by virtue of the
compromise agreement and the P4,200,000.00 attorney's fees under the memorandum of
agreement. A simple accounting of the money that he and others concerned received from UST,
A. M. No. 1008 January 22, 1980 malversation both against Pablo Cuneta and others with the Pasay City Fiscal's Office, docketed
therein as I.S. Nos. 71712 and 71712-A. respectively; that on November 13 and 23, 1970, during
the preliminary investigation by the Pasay City Fiscal's Office of I.S. Nos. 71712 and 71712-A,
PASAY LAW AND CONSCIENCE UNION, INC., complainant,
the respondent entered his appearance, participated and orally argued therein as one of the
vs.
counsels of Pablo Cuneta; that while in subsequent hearings thereof, the respondent no longer
ATTY. DAVID D.C. PAZ, respondent.
appeared as counsel for Cuneta, it was only after his appearance had been questioned by Atty.
Brion; that inasmuch as at least up to September 10, 1969, the respondent was then PARGO's
Legal Officer and Chief Prosecutor, as well as head of PARGO's "Charlie Division", he had
access to, and necessarily acquired, directly or indirectly, knowledge of the facts of the said anti-
graft case, its weak as well as its strong points, and such knowledge is confidential and should
FERNANDEZ, J.:
be guarded with great care, lest it jeopardizes PARGO, an agency and instrumentality of the
Republic of the Philippines whose interest respondent swore to serve and protect without any
On June 5, 1971, the Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc. (PLACU) filed this disbarment mental reservation, in the ultimate prosecution of the said case; that there was, therefore, then a
case against David D.C. Paz, a member of the Philippine Bar. The complainant charged the relationship of attorney and client between respondent and the government; that for having
respondent with malpractice, gross misconduct in office, gross immoral conduct and/or disloyalty appeared twice, participated and orally argued as counsel for Pablo Cuneta during the
to the Republic of the Philippines. 1 preliminary investigation of the charges for anti-graft and technical malversation filed by the CIO,
successor of PARGO, against said Pablo Cuneta and others before the Pasay City Fiscal's
Office, the respondent violated Section 6 of the Canons of Legal Ethics and Section 20 (e) of
In a resolution dated June 22, 1971, this Court required the respondent to file an answer to the Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court; and that the alleged withdrawal of the respondent as
complaint against him. 2 counsel for Pablo Cuneta, although in this connection there is nothing reflected in the records of
the preliminary investigation, is of no moment for he had already violated the aforesaid Canons
After the respondent had filed his answer 3 and the complainant had submitted a reply, 4 this of Legal Ethics and that respondent's having appeared twice as Counsel for Cuneta in the
administrative case was referred to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and preliminary investigation of the aforesaid charge constitutes clear attempts on respondent's part
recommendation. 5 to damage CIO's cause against Cuneta.

On January 23, 1973, the Solicitor General, having found sufficient grounds to proceed against On the charge of gross misconduct in office, the complaint stated that in the course of the
the respondent after due investigation of the administrative case against him, submitted, among investigation by the PARGO of Dr. Sia's anti-graft complaint against the then ex-Mayor Pablo
others sixteen copies, in a sealed envelope, of his complaint against the respondent, together Cuneta of Pasay City, but prior to September 10, 1969, the respondent borrowed and received
with the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the investigation of the case, the folder of from Atty. Brion the PLACU's copies of the record or expedients of Civil Case No. 72967 of the
exhibits, the record of the investigation not the case and the original Supreme Court record. 6 Court of First Instance of Manila entitled Vicente D. Isip vs. The Pasay City Government, et al.,"
in the presence of Dr. Sia and Atty. Alidio for the purpose of making xerox copies of such
relevant documents therein to be utilized as evidence in the said anti-graft case; that
The Solicitor General charged Atty. D.C. Paz with representing clients with conflicting interests notwithstanding repeated requests by Atty. Brion, the respondent never returned to the former
and gross misconduct in office. the aforesaid PLACU's copies of the record or expedients, and when Atty. Brion manifested
before Pasay City Fiscal Pineda during the preliminary investigation on November 13, 1970 of
Regarding the charge of representing clients with conflicting interests, the complainant alleged the anti-graft and technical malversation charges against Pablo Cuneta and others about the
that in 1969, in the course of the investigation then being conducted by the "Charlie Division" of non-return to him of said expediente, respondent denied having borrowed and received the
the Presidential Agency on Reforms and Government Operations, otherwise known as the same, to the prejudice of PARGO's prosecution of the said charges, so that PARGO, through
PARGO, on the complaint of Dr. Irineo P. Sia for anti-graft against the then ex-Mayor Pablo Atty. Brion, had to reconstitute the answer and its seventeen annexes which formed part of the
Cuneta of Pasay City, the respondent, David D.C. Paz, was then PARGO's Legal Officer and said record or expedients, and it was only then that these documents were presented in the
Chief Prosecutor, as well as the head of the aforesaid "Charlie Division"; that in the series of aforementioned preliminary investigation; and that the respondent's conduct in this regard
follow-ups made with PARGO by Dr. Irineo P. Sia himself and at times in company of Atty. tended to prevent and obstruct the administration of justice by concealing evidence, thus
Galileo P. Brion, President of the complainant, PLACU, of the aforesaid anti-graft complaint constituting gross misconduct in office.7
against the then ex-Mayor Pablo Cuneta, the respondent enlisted the help of Dr. Irineo P. Sia
and Atty. Galilee P. Brion in the gathering of evidence which included PLACU's copies of the In his answer filed on February 24, 1973, respondent, David D.C. Paz, specifically denied the
records of Civil Case No. 72967 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled "Vicente D. Isip allegation contained in paragraphs 1 to 9 of the complaint on representing clients with conflicting
vs. The Pasay City Government, et al."; that in the course of the investigation by the PARGO of interests, the same being contrary to the evidence of record submitted to the investigation
the aforesaid anti-graft complaint, but prior to September 10, 1969, the respondent even conducted by Solicitor Eulogio Racquel Santos and averred that the respondent, Paz did not
administered oaths to some persons who had given written statements before the PARGO participation the investigation of the Cuneta anti-graft case except to swear the witnesses; that
investigators; that on September 10, 1969, the respondent was detailed by the then PARGO the Secretary of PARGO issued Mission Order No. 362 directing Atty. Rodolfo Navarro and
Secretary Ramon D. Bagatsing as Executive and Police Adviser to the Mayor of Makati, Rizal; Engineers Platon Chaves, Ventura Villarosa, Gabriel Abellada, Jr. and agents Lysias G. Manalo
that on the same day, the respondent designated as division-in-charge Atty. Rodolfo Navarro, and Edilberto Arguelles, Jr. and Henry C. Consina to undertake a special mission and carry out
who was then Team Leader of Charlie-two under PARGO's "Charlie Division" to act for and in instructions given by the Secretary in connection with the confidential investigation being
respondent's behalf while not in office and while performing his duties and functions as such undertaken by PARGO; that a g to the affidavit Of Lysias Manalo of the Philippine Constabulary,
adviser in Makati, Rizal; that later on, after respondent had resigned from the PARGO sometime the Secretary of PARGO, by virtue of Mission Order No. 362, the continuance of the re-
in January 1970 and on the basis of the investigation conducted by the PARGO on the investigation of the complaint of Dr. Irineo P. Sia, against the ex-Mayor Pablo Cuneta and they
aforementioned anti-graft complaint of Dr. Sia, the PARGO's successor, the Complaints and for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; that in fact, in 1969, the respondent Paz
Investigation Office (CIO) filed an anti-graft charge and another charge for technical
was on detail as police ad. viser of the Mayor of Makati, Rizal and in 1970, he from PARGO and The respondent has displayed a lack concern for his duties as a lawyer and an office of the
transferred to Congress; that except for the self-serving declarations of Atty. Brion and Dr. Irineo court. In Nombrando vs. Hernandez,8 this court said:
Sia, no other evidence was presented to prove that the respondent Paz investigated the said
anti-graft case in the PARGO; that it is true that respondent Paz appeared among a battery of
The Solicitor General is of the opinion, and we find no reason to disagree
lawyers for Mayor Cuneta but when his appearance was questioned by Atty. Brion, it was
with him, that even if respondent did not use against his client any
withdrawn; and that the anti-graft case against Mayor Cuneta was finally dismissed.
information or evidence acquired by ham as counsel it cannot be denied
that he did become privy to information regarding the ownership of the
Anent the charge of gross misconduct in office, the respondent denied the allegation in parcel of land which was later litigated in the forcible entry case, for it was
paragraphs 1 to 6 of the second count, the same being contrary to the evidence of record and the dispute over the land that triggered the mauling incident which gave rise
alleged that the charge is a fabrication; that Atty, Brion was also a special assistant in the to the criminal action for physical injuries. This Court's remarks in Hilado vs.
PARGO; that when the respondent Paz resigned from the PARGO, he was granted a clearance David, 84 Phil. 571, are apropos:
dated January 2, 1970 clearing him from any record or money accountability; that Hector Lumba,
Docket Officer of PARGO who was presented by Atty. Brion as a witness, admitted on cross-
Communications between attorney and client are, in a great number of
examination that the respondent Paz had been cleared of accountabilities by the Docket
litigations, a complicated affair, consisting of entangled relevant and
Section; and that at the time the clearance was granted, the respondent had no pending cases
irrelevant, secret and well known facts. In the complexity of what is said in
in his possession that Atty. Brion admit" that the alleged expediente supposedly borrowed by the
the course of dealings between an attorney and client, inquiry of the nature
respondent Paz was merely his lawyer's file as intervenor in Civil Case No. 72967; that his
suggested would lead to the revelation, in advance of the trial of other
motion for intervention was, however, denied; that the lawyer's file was allegedly finally
matters that might only further prejudice the complainant's cause
reconstituted and presented in the preliminary investigation of the anti-graft case against Pablo
Cuneta; and Atty. Brion declared that the respondent Paz "receipted" for the same expediente
but during the investigation conducted by Solicitor Racquel Santos, Atty. Brion could not produce Whatever may be said as to whether or not respondent utilized against his
any receipt; that neither could Atty. Brion present any proof that he addressed a written former client information given to him in a professional capacity, the mere
complaint or demand to PARGO for the return of the alleged expediente and Dr. Sia admitted fact of their previous relationship should have precluded him from appearing
that the evidence gathered were turned over to Atty. Cuaresma and Mangase, not to respondent as counsel for the other side in the forcible entry case. In the same cast
Paz. of Hilado vs. David, supra, this Tribunal further said:

On the charge representing clients with conflicting interests, the evidence has duly established Hence the necessity of setting down the existence of the bare relationship of
that the respondent, David D.C. Paz, as PARGO's Legal Officer and Legal Prosecutor and head attorney and client as the yardstick for testing incompatibility of interest. This
of the "Charlie Division", took part in the investigation of the anti-graft case against ex-Mayor stern rule is designed not alone to prevent the dishonest practitioner from
Cuneta by administering oaths to witnesses and gathering evidence. He acquired knowledge of fraudulent conduct, but as wok to protect the honest lawyer from unfounded
the facts and circumstances surrounding the anti-graft case. The respondent obtained suspicion of unprofessional practice. ... It is founded on principles of public
confidential information and learned of the evidence of the PARGO against ex-Mayor Cuneta. policy of good taste. As has been said in another case, the n 43 not
There was undoubtedly a relationship of attorney and client between the respondent David D.C. necessarily one of the rights of the parties, but as to whether attorney has
Paz and the PARGO. adhered to proper professional standard. With these thoughts in mind, it
behooves attorneys, like 's Ceasar's wife, not only to keep inviolate the
client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and
It is also a fact that at the early stages of the preliminary investigation conducted by the City
double dealing. Only thus can litigants be encouraged to entrust their
Fiscal of Pasay of the anti-graft case against ex-Mayor Pablo Cuneta, the respondent appeared
secrets to their attorneys which is of paramount importance in the
as counsel for said Cuneta. This is the same anti-graft case investigated by the PARGO when
administration of justice. 9
the respondent was head of the "Charlie Division" thereof. That the respondent later withdrew
his appearances as counsel of Cuneta is of no moment. He had already violated the Canons of
Legal Ethics and Sec. 20(e) of Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court which provides: Under the circumstances, the respondent should be punished by suspension from the practice of
law for two (2) months, 10 with a warning that a repetition of the same offense wig be dealt with
more drastically.
Sec. 20. Duties of attorneys. — It is the duty of an attorney:

There is no sufficient evidence that the respondent had borrowed the record of Civil Case No.
xxx xxx xxx
72967 of the Court of First Instance of Manila entitled "Vicente D. Isip vs. The Pasay City
Government, et al. According to Atty. Galilee Brion, the respondent issued a receipt for the
(e) To maintain inviolate the confidence, and at a every peril to himself, to record. However, no such receipt could be presented at the investigation. Moreover, Dr. Irineo
preserve the secrets of his client, and to accept no compensation in Sia admitted that the evidence in connection with the Cuneta anti-graft case was turned over to
connection with his client's business except from him or with his knowledge Attys. Mangase and Cuaresma, both of the PARGO. In view thereof, the respondent cannot be
and approval; held guilty of the charge of serious misconduct.

xxx xxx xxx WHEREFORE, the respondent is found guilty of representing clients with conflicting interests
and he is hereby suspended from the practice of law for two (2) months, with a warning that a
repetition of the same offense win be dealt with i more drastically. The respondent is exonerated
of the charge of g TOSS misconduct in office.
SO ORDERED.

Teehankee, Antonio, Concepcion Jr., Santos, Guerrero, Abad Santos, De Castro and Melencio
Herrera JJ., concur.

Fernando, C.J., and Barredo, JJ., did not took part.


A.C. No. 9976 June 25, 2014 The complainant further alleged in her complaint that the week after she signed the contract of
[Formerly CBD Case No. 09-2539] service with the respondent, the latter requested for a meeting. Thinking that they were going to
discuss her case, she agreed. But during the meeting, the respondent invited her to be an
investor in the lending business allegedly ran by the respondent’s sister-in-law.6 The respondent
ALMIRA C. FORONDA, Complainant,
encouraged her to invest ₱200,000.00 which he said can earn five percent (5%) interest per
vs.
month.
ATTY. JOSE L. ALVAREZ, JR., Respondent.

The complainant finally agreed on the condition that the respondent shall issue personal and
DECISION
post-dated checks in her favor dated the 10th of each month starting July 2008 until June
10,2009, representing the five percent (5%) interest that the complainant’s money shall earn.
REYES, J.: Thus, the complainant gave ₱200,000.00 to the respondent upon the security of thirteen (13)
United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) checks. Eleven (11) of said checks were for ₱8,000.00
each. The other two (2) checks dated June 8, 2009 and June 10, 2009 were for ₱100,000.00
This refers to the complaint1 for disbarment filed before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
and ₱108,000.00, respectively.7
Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) by Almira C. Foronda (complainant) against Atty. Jose
L. Alvarez, Jr. (respondent) for the following alleged infractions:
According to the complainant, upon presentment of these checks, the drawee-bank honored the
first two (2) checks, but the rest were dishonored for being drawn against a closed account.
(1) Fraud and deceit in luring [the complainant] in transacting business with [the When she brought the matter to the respondent, he promised to pay her in cash. He actually
respondent]; (2) Dishonesty and misrepresentation when [the respondent] paid her certain amounts as interest through her representative. Nevertheless, the respondent
misinformed [the complainant] that [her] annulment case was already filed when in fact
failed to pay the entire obligation as promised. Thereafter, the respondent issued eight (8) Banco
it was not; de Oro (BDO)checks as replacement for the dishonored UCPB checks. However, the BDO
checks were likewise dishonored for being drawn against a closed account. 8
(3) Issuing unfunded checks as payment for [the respondent's] obligations to [the
complainant]; In his Answer,9 the respondent admitted that he filed the petition for annulment only in July 2009
but this was not due to his own fault. The delay was caused by the complainant herself who
(4) Violation of Canon 15.06 of the Code of Professional Responsibilities when [the allegedly instructed him to hold the filing of the said petition as she and her husband were
respondent] represented to [the complainant] that he know[s] of court personnel who discussing a possible reconciliation.10 He further claimed that he filed the petition on July 16,
will help facilitate [the complainant’s] annulment case; 2009 after negotiations with the complainant’s husband apparently failed. 11

(5) Violation of Canons 16.01 and 16.03 for failure to return [the complainant’s] money The respondent also admitted that he invited the complainant to be a partner in a lending
despite numerous demands; and business and clarified that the said business was being managed by a friend. He further stated
that he was also involved in the said business as a partner. 12
(6) Violation of Canon 18.04 when [the respondent] misinformed [the complainant]
regarding the status of [her] annulment case.2 The respondent admitted that only the first two (2) of the checks he issued were honored by the
drawee-bank. He stated that prior to the presentment and dishonor of the rest of the UCPB
checks, he advised the complainant that the third check should not be deposited just yet due to
Facts losses in their lending business caused by the failure of some borrowers to settle their
obligations.13 Apart from the foregoing, the respondent denied most of the allegations in the
The complainant is an overseas Filipino worker in Dubai. In May 2008, she returned to the complaint, including the dishonor of the BDO checks, for lack of sufficient information to form a
Philippines to institute a case for the nullification of her marriage. The respondent was referred belief as to the truth thereof.14
to her and the complainant agreed to engage his services for a fee of ₱195,000.00 to be paid as
follows: 50% or ₱100,000.00 upon the signing of the contract; 25% or ₱50,000.00 on or before By way of special and affirmative defense, the respondent asserted the following: that it was the
June 10, 2008; and 25% or ₱45,000.00 before the filing of the case.3 The complainant paid the complainant who owed him notarial fee amounting to 80,000.00 as he notarized a deed of
amounts as agreed. The amount of ₱45,000.00 was even paid on June 10, 2008, 4 after being conditional sale executed between her and a certain Rosalina A. Ruiz over a real property worth
informed by the respondent that the petition for the annulment of marriage was ready for filing. 4,000,000.00;15 and that the contract he executed with the complainant was a mere contract of
loan. Being a contract of loan, he cannot be held guilty of violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22
The complainant averred that the respondent promised to file the petition after he received the (B.P. Blg. 22) since the checks he issued were to serve only as security for it. 16
full payment of his attorney’s fee, or on June 11, 2008. In September 2008, the complainant
inquired about the status of her case and was allegedly told by the respondent that her petition The parties were called to a mandatory conference before the IBP-CBD on January 18, 2010 by
was pending in court; and in another time, she was told that a decision by the court was already the Investigating Commissioner.17 Thereafter, the parties were required to submit their
forthcoming. However, when she came back to the country in May 2009, the respondent told her respective position paper.
that her petition was still pending in court and apologized for the delay. Eventually, the
complainant was able to get a copy of her petition and found out that it was filed only on July 16,
2009.5 In an undated Report,18 the Investigating Commissioner made the following factual findings:
From the foregoing, it appears that the following facts are not disputed. The complainant is an Rule 18.04 – A lawyer shall keep his client informed of the status of his case and shall respond
overseas Filipino worker based in Dubai. During her vacation in the Philippines in May 2008, she within a reasonable time to the client’s request for information.
contracted the services of respondent to file a petition for the annulment of her marriage for an
agreed packaged fee of [P]195,000.00 which she paid in full by June 2008. Respondent,
xxxx
however, filed the petition for the annulment of her marriage only in July 2009. In the meantime,
more specifically in June 2008, respondent obtained [P]200,000.00 from complainant with the
promise to pay the same with interestat 4% per month starting July 2008 until June 2009. 3. Respondent induced complainant to lend him money at 5% interest per month but failed to
Respondent issued complainant eleven (11) checks for [P]8,000.00 each postdated checks pay the same. This is admitted by respondent. Rule 16.04 provides that a lawyer shall not
monthly from 10 July 2008 until 10 May 2009 plus a check for [P]108,000.00 payable on 10 June borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected by the nature of the
2009 and another check for [P]100,000.00 payable on 8 June 2009. When presented for case or by independent advice. Obviously, respondent borrowed money from his client and his
payment, the first two (2) checks were good but the rest of the checks were dishonored for being client’s interest was not fully protected. In fact, respondent repeatedly failed to comply with his
drawn against a closed account. When complainant demanded payment, respondent issued to promise to pay complainant. The fact that he subsequently paid complainant more than the
her eight (8) new replacement postdated checks dated 25th of every month from June 2009 to amount due from him as part of the settlement of the criminal complaint filed by her against him
January 2010. All of the replacement checks, however, were likewise dishonored for being hardly serves to mitigate his liability. x x x.
drawn against a closed account. When respondent was unable to pay respondent, complainant
filed a criminal complaint against him for violation of BP 22 before the Office of the City
4. He issued two sets of checks which were dishonored when presented for payment. This is
Prosecutor of Muntinlupa. The criminal complaint was eventually dismissed after complainant
executed an affidavit of desistance after she was paid a certain amount by respondent. 19 admitted by respondent. x x x.20

The Investigating Commissioner, thereby, recommended the penalty of two years suspension
The Investigating Commissioner found that there was basis to hold the respondent liable, to wit:
1. Respondent Atty. Alvarez, Jr. is guilty of delay in the filing of the petition for annulment of the from the practice of law with a warning that a repetition of the offenses shall merit a heavier
marriage of complainant for almost a year. Initially, in his Answer, he claims that the delay was penalty.21
due to the instruction of complainant to hold in abeyance the filing of the petition as she and her
husband discussed possible reconciliation. In his Position Paper, he claims that the delay was In a Resolution dated December 14, 2012, the Board of Governors of the IBP adopted and
due to the failure of the complainant to submit to an interview by the psychologist and the time it approved with modification the findings of the Investigating Commissioner. It directed the
took him to research on the guidelines on the matter. Finally, in his Supplemental Affidavit, he suspension of the respondent from the practice of law for one year with warning that repetition of
admits the delay and apologizes for it. For delaying in filing the petition for complainant, the similar conduct shall be dealt with more severely.22
respondent should be deemed guilty of violating Canons 17 and 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which pertinent read:
The Court’s Ruling

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. At the outset, it must be stressed that "[a] lawyer, by taking the lawyer’s oath, becomes a
guardian of the law and an indispensable instrument for the orderly administration of
justice."23 He can be disciplined for any conduct, in his professional or private capacity, which
CANON 18. – A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND renders him unfit to continue to be an officer of the court.24 For of all classes and professions, it
DILIGENCE[.] is the lawyer who is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws, for he is their sworn servant. 25

Rule 18.03 – A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and the negligence in "Disbarment of lawyers is a proceeding that aims to purge the law profession of unworthy
connection therewith shall render him liable. members of the bar. It is intended to preserve the nobility and honor of the legal
profession."26 Therefore, it is incumbent upon this Court to determine the full extent of the
respondent’s liability, and to impose the proper penalty therefor.
xxxx

2. Respondent lied about the delay. The allegations of complainant about how respondent lied to It was established that the complainant engaged the professional services of the respondent.
She expected the immediate filing of the petition for the nullity of her marriage after the full
her about the delay in the filing of the petition are very detailed. While denying he
misrepresented to complainant that the petition has been filed when it was not, respondent did payment of attorney’s fees on June 10, 2008. However, the respondent filed the said petition
not care to refute also in detail the allegations of complainant. In his Answer, he simply denied only on July 16, 2009. The respondent gave out different reasons for the delay in an attempt to
exculpate himself. At the end, the respondent admitted the delay and apologized for it. It cannot
the same for the reason [that] he has no sufficient information to form a belief as to the truth
thereof. It should be noted, however, that the allegations pertains [sic] to things respondent said be gainsaid that the complainant through her agent was diligent in following up the petition. The
and did[,] and are therefore[,] matters which he knew or should have known. His denial is different excuses proffered by the respondent also show his lack of candor in his dealings with
the complainant.
therefore tantamount to an admission. In doing so, respondent is guilty of violating not only
Canon 15 but also Rule 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which read:
"Once a lawyer agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause
and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him." 27 "[H]e is required by
CANON 15. – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS
DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENT. the Canons of Professional Responsibility to undertake the task with zeal, care and utmost
devotion."28 "A lawyer who performs his duty with diligence and candor not only protects the
interest of his client, he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the bar, and helps required petition and did not account for the money he received, as attorney’s fee, from the
maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession." 29 complainant.

Anent the ₱200,000.00 which was received by the respondent from the complainant, the In Junio v. Atty. Grupo,44 Atty. Salvador M. Grupo was found guilty of violating Rule 16.04 of the
respondent argued that it was a loan and not really meant to be the latter’s investment in any Code of Professional Responsibility for borrowing money from his client and was suspended
money-lending business. At any rate, the respondent issued 13 UCPB checks to serve as from the practice of law for a period of one month.
security for the alleged loan; among which, only two of said checks were honored by the
drawee-bank while the rest were dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account.
In Wong v. Atty. Moya II,45 Atty. Salvador N. Moya II was ordered suspended from the practice of
By reason of said dishonor, the respondent paid certain amounts in cash to the complainant as
law for two years, because aside from issuing worthless checks and failure to pay his debts, he
interest to the said loan. Ultimately, the respondent issued eight BDO checks as replacement for
also had seriously breached his client’s trust and confidence to his personal advantage and had
the dishonored UCPB checks. However, the BDO checks were also dishonored due to the same
shown a wanton disregard of the IBP orders in the course of its proceedings.
reason – they were drawn against a closed account.

Further, in Wilkie v. Atty. Limos,46 the Court held, to wit:


The respondent’s act of issuing worthless checks is a violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which requires that "a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct."30"[T]he issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having In Barrios v. Martinez, we disbarred the respondent who issued worthless checks for which he
been drawn against a closed account indicates a lawyer’s unfitness for the trust and confidence was convicted in the criminal case filed against him.
reposed on him, shows such lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to render
him unworthy of public confidence, and constitutes a ground for disciplinary action." 31
In Lao v. Medel, we held that the deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of
worthless checks constitute gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with one-
It cannot be denied that the respondent’s unfulfilled promise to settle his obligation and the year suspension from the practice of law. The same sanction was imposed on the respondent-
issuance of worthless checks have seriously breached the complainant’s trust. She went so far lawyer in Rangwani v. Dinohaving been found guilty of gross misconduct for issuing bad checks
as to file multiple criminal cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 against him. "The relationship of an in payment of a piece of property the title of which was only entrusted to him by the complainant.
attorney to his client is highly fiduciary. Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility But in Barrientos v. Libiran-Meteoro, we meted out only a six-month suspension to Atty. Elerizza
provides that ‘a lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and Libiran-Meteoro for having issued several checks to the complainants in payment of a pre-
transactions with his client.’ Necessity and public interest enjoin lawyers to be honest and existing debt without sufficient funds, justifying the imposition of a lighter penalty on the ground
truthful when dealing with his client."32 of the respondent’s payment of a portion of her debt to the complainant, unlike in the
aforementioned Lao and Rangwani cases where there was no showing of any restitution on the
part of the respondents.47 (Citations omitted and emphases ours)
All told, this Court finds that the respondent is liable for violation of Canons 15, 33 17,34 Rule
18.04,35 and Rule 16.0436 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Likewise, he is also liable
under Rule 1.0137 thereof pursuant to our ruling in Co v. Atty. Bernardino.38 In the instant case, the Court very well takes note of the fact that the criminal charges filed
against the respondent have been dismissed upon an affidavit of desistance executed by the
complainant.48 The Court also acknowledges that he dutifully participated in the proceedings
The complainant seeks the disbarment of the respondent. However, "[d]isbarment, jurisprudence
before the IBP-CBD and that he completely settled his obligation to the complainant, as
teaches, should not be decreed where any punishment less severe, such as reprimand,
evidenced by the Acknowledgment Receipt signed by the complainant's counsel. Therein, it was
suspension, or fine, would accomplish the end desired. This is as it should be considering the
acknowledged that the respondent paid the amount of ₱650,000.00 in payment for the: (1)
consequence of disbarment on the economic life and honor of the erring person." 39
₱200,000.00 for the amount of checks he issued in favor of the complainant; (2) ₱195,000.00 for
the attorney's fees he received for the annulment case; and (3) cost and expenses that the
"The severity of disbarment or suspension proceedings as the penalty for an attorney’s complainant incurred in relation to the cases the latter filed against the respondent including the
misconduct has always moved the Court to treat the complaint with utmost caution and instant complaint with the IBP.49 Unlike in Solidon where the respondent failed to file the required
deliberate circumspection."40 While the Court has the plenary power to discipline erring lawyers petition and did not account for the money he received, the respondent was able to file, albeit
through this kind of proceedings, it does so in the most vigilant manner so as not to frustrate its belatedly, the complainant's petition. In addition, he returned in full the money he received as
preservative principle. The Court, in the exercise of its sound judicial discretion, is inclined to attorney's fee in spite of having gone through all the trouble of preparing the required petition
impose a less severe punishment if through it the end desired of reforming the errant lawyer is and in filing the same - not to mention the cost he incurred for the purpose.50
possible.41
In light of the foregoing and the Court's rulings in the cases mentioned above, the Court finds
In Baldado v. Mejica,42 the Court found Atty. Aquilino A. Mejica guilty of violating Canon 18 of the that the penalty of six months suspension from the practice of law is commensurate, with a stem
Code of Professional Responsibility for his negligence in protecting the interest of his client, and warning that a repetition of any of the infractions attributed to him in this case, or any similar act,
suspended him from the practice of law for a period of three months, with a warning that a shall merit a heavier penalty.
repetition of the same or a similar act will be dealt with more severely.1âwphi1
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Jose L. Alvarez, Jr. is SUSPENDED FOR SIX (6) MONTHS
In Solidon v. Macalalad,43 the Court imposed on Atty. Ramil E. Macalalad (Atty. Macalalad) the from the practice of law with a stem warning that a repetition of any of the offenses involved in
penalty of six months suspension from the practice of law for violations of Rule16.01 and Rule this case or a commission of similar acts will merit a more severe penalty. Let a copy of this
18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. In said case, Atty. Macalalad failed to file the Decision be entered in Atty. Jose L. Alvarez, Jr. 's record as a member of the Bar, and notice of
the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court
Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.

SO ORDERED.