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Panganiban vs Borromeo


- These proceedings looking to the disbarment of the respondent attorney

- The respondent admits that, in his capacity as notary public he legalized the document which
is the basis of the complaint against him, and that the document contains provisions contrary
to law, morals and good customs, but by way of defense disclaims any previous knowledge
of the illegal character of the document.
- On November 25, 1931, Alejandro Pabro and Juana Mappala husband and wife, subscribed
a contract before the notary public Elias Borromeo, who was at that time a regularly admitted
member of the Philippine Bar.
- The contract in question had been prepared by the municipal secretary of Naguilian, Isabela.
Attorney Borromeo cooperated in the execution of the document and had, at lease, some
knowledge of its contents, although he may not have been fully informed because of a
difference in dialect.
- The contract in question had been prepared by the municipal secretary of Naguilian, Isabela.
- The contract in substance purported to formulate an agreement between the husband and
the wife which permitted the husband to take unto himself a concubine and the wife to live in
adulterous relationship with another man, without opposition from either one of them.

- Two questions are suggested by the record. The first concerns the points of whether or not
the contract sanctioned an illicit and immoral purpose. The second concerns the point, on the
supposition that the contract did sanction an illicit and immoral purpose, of whether a lawyer
may be disciplined for misconduct as a notary public.

- The contract of the spouses, it will be recalled, was executed at a time when the Spanish
Penal Code, as modified by Act No. 1773 was in force

- more liberal provisions of the Revised Penal Code should be given application, it is herein
provided that the consent or pardon given by the offended party constitutes a bar to
prosecution for adultery or concubinage.

- In this instance, if the spouses should retain their present frame of mind, no prosecution of
either one by the other could be expected.

- Nevertheless, we think it far from the purpose of the Legislature to legalize adultery and
- They still remain crimes, with the qualification that prosecution cannot be instituted if the
offended party consent to the act or pardon the offender. This is a matter of future
contingency and is not matter for legalization in wanton disregard of good morals.

- We hold the contract to contain provisions contrary to law, morals and public order, and as a
consequence not judicially recognizable.

- Passing to the second question, we think there can be no question as to the right of the court
to discipline an attorney who, in his capacity as notary public, has been guilty of misconduct.

- We are led to hold that a member of the bar who performs an act as a notary public of a
disgraceful or immoral character may be held to account by the court even to the extent of

- As mitigating circumstances, there may be taken into consideration (1) that the attorney may
not have realized the full purport of the document to which he took acknowledgment, (2) that
no falsification of facts was attempted, and (3) that the commission of the respondent as a
notary public has been revoked. Accordingly, we are disposed in this case to exercise
clemency and to confine our discipline of the respondent to severe censure. So ordered.

In re ATTY. ROQUE SANTIAGO, respondent


- This is an administrative case initiated upon complaint of the Solicitor-General against the
respondent Roque Santiago, charging the latter with malpractice and praying that disciplinary
action be taken against him.
- It appears that one Ernesto Baniquit, who was living then separately from his wife Soledad
Colares for some nine consecutive years and who was bent on contracting a second
marriage, sought the legal advice of the respondent, who was at the time a practicing and
notary public in the Province of Occidental Negros.
- The respondent, after hearing Baniquit's side of the case, assured the latter that he could
secure a separation from his wife and marry again, and asked him to bring his wife on the
afternoon of the same day, May 29, 1939.
- This was done and the respondent right then and there prepared the document Exhibit A in
which it was stipulated, among other things, that the contracting parties, who are husband
and wife authorized each other to marry again, at the same time renouncing or waiving
whatever right of action one might have against the party so marrying.
- After the execution and acknowledgment of Exhibit A by the parties, the respondent asked
the spouses to shake hands and assured them that they were single and as such could
contract another and subsequent marriage. Baniquit then remarked, "Would there be no
trouble?" Upon hearing it the respondent stood up and, pointing to his diploma hanging on
the wall, said: "I would tear that off if this document turns out not to be valid."
- Ernesto Baniquit, on June 11, 1939, contracted a second marriage with Trinidad Aurelio
- There is also evidence to show that the respondent tried to collect for this service the sum of
P50, but as the evidence on this point is not clear and the same is not material in the
resolution of the present case, we do not find it necessary to make any express finding as to
whether the full amount or any portion thereof was paid or, as contended by the respondent,
the service were rendered free of charge.
- The respondent did not deny the preparation of Exhibit A, put up the defense that he had the
idea that seven years separation of husband and wife would entitle either of them to contract
a second marriage and for that reason prepared Exhibit A, but immediately after the
execution of said document he realized that he had made a mistake and for that reason
immediately sent for the contracting parties who, on June 30, 1939, came to his office and
signed the deed of cancellation Exhibit A.
- There is no doubt that the contract Exhibit A executed by and between the spouses Ernesto
Baniquit and Soledad Colares upon the advice of the respondent and prepared by the latter
as a lawyer and acknowledged by him as a notary public is contrary to law, moral, and tends
to subvert the vital foundation of the family.
- When it appears that he, by recklessness or sheer ignorance of the law, is unfit or unsafe to
be entrusted with the responsibilities and obligations of a lawyer, his right to continue in the
enjoyment of this professional privilege should be declared terminated
- In the present case, respondent was either ignorant of the applicable provision of the law or
carelessly negligent in giving the complainant legal advice. Drastic action should lead to his
disbarment and this is the opinion of some members of the court.


ALEJANDRO E. MENDOZA, City Judge of Mandaue City, respondent.


- Saturnino Selanova charged Judge Alejandro E. Mendoza of Mandaue City with gross
ignorance of the law for having prepared and ratified a document dated November 21, 1972,
extrajudicially liquidating the conjugal partnership of the complainant and his wife, Avelina
- One condition of the liquidation was that either spouse (as the case may be) would withdraw
the complaint for adultery or concubinage which each had filed against the other and that
they waived their "right to prosecute each other for whatever acts of infidelity" either one
would commit against the other.
- Judge Mendoza in his comment on the charge purposed to convey the impression that he
was aware of the invalidity of the agreement but he nevertheless ratified it and gave it
his nihil obstat on the assurance of the spouses that they would ask the Court of First
Instance of Negros Oriental (where they were residing) to approve the agreement.
- Respondent Judge alleged that he relied on the provision that "the husband and the wife
may agree upon the dissolution of the conjugal partnership during the marriage, subject to
judicial approval" (
- He argues that to give the prohibition against an extrajudicial liquidation of the conjugal
partnership during the marriage "an unqualified and literal legal construction" would lender
nugatory the aforequoted provisions of article 191.
- However, the respondent overlooks the unmistakable ruling of this Court in the Lacson case
that judicial sanction for the dissolution of the conjugal partnership during the marriage
should be "secured beforehand."

- Even before the enactment of the new Civil Code, this Court held that the extrajudicial
dissolution of the conjugal partnership without judicial approval was void (Quintana vs.
Lerma, 24 Phil. 285; De Luna vs. Linatoc, 74 Phil. 15, De La Rosa vs. Barruga, L-2368, June
30, 1950, 4 ROP Digest 171, sec. 29).

- In that case this Court noted that while adultery and concubinage are private crimes, "they
still remain crimes" and a contract legalizing their commission is "contrary to law, morals and
public order, and as a consequence not judicially recognizable". Since the notary's
commission was already revoked, this Court did not disbar him. The fact that he "may not
have realized the full purport of the document to which he took acknowledgment' was
considered mitigating.
LEON, respondents


- Jose Vicente De Leon and petitioner Sylvia Lichauco De Leon were united in wedlock
before the Municipal Mayor of Binangonan, Rizal. On August 28, 1971, a child named
Susana L. De Leon was born from this union.
- Sometime in October, 1972, a de facto separation between the spouses
- Sylvia leaving the conjugal home. Sometime in March, 1973, Sylvia went to the United
States where she obtained American citizenship.
- On November 23, 1973, Sylvia filed with the Superior Court of California, County of San
Francisco, a petition for dissolution of marriage against Jose Vicente. In the said divorce
proceedings, Sylvia also filed claims for support and distribution of properties. It appears,
however, that since Jose Vicente was then a Philippine resident and did not have any assets
in the United States,
- Sylvia chose to hold in abeyance the divorce proceedings, and in the meantime,
concentrated her efforts to obtain some sort of property settlements with Jose Vicente in the
- on March 16, 1977, Sylvia succeeded in entering into a Letter-Agreement with her mother-in-
law, private respondent Macaria De Leon
- On the same date, Macaria made cash payments to Sylvia in the amount of P100,000 and
US$35,000.00 or P280,000.00, in compliance with her obligations as stipulated in the
aforestated Letter-Agreement.
- On March 30, 1977, Sylvia and Jose Vicente filed before the then Court of First Instance of
Rizal a joint petition for judicial approval of dissolution of their conjugal partnership,

- After ex-parte hearings, the trial court issued an Order dated February 19, 1980 approving
the petition, the dispositive portion of which reads (p. 143, Rollo):
- WHEREFORE, it is hereby declared that the conjugal partnership of the Spouses is
- On March 17, 1980, Sylvia moved for the execution of the above-mentioned order. However,
Jose Vicente moved for a reconsideration of the order alleging that Sylvia made a verbal
reformation of the petition as there was no such agreement for the payment of P4,500.00
monthly support to commence from the alleged date of separation in April, 1973 and that
there was no notice given to him that Sylvia would attempt verbal reformation of the
agreement contained in the joint petition
- While the said motion for reconsideration was pending resolution, on April 20, 1980, Macaria
filed with the trial court a motion for leave to intervene alleging that she is the owner of the
properties involved in the case.
- On October 29, 1980, Macaria, assisted by her husband Juan De Leon, filed her complaint in
intervention. She assailed the validity and legality of the Letter-Agreement which had for its
purpose, according to her, the termination of marital relationship between Sylvia and Jose

- On December 29, 1983, the trial court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which
reads (pp. 35-36, Rollo):
- WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered on the complaint in intervention in favor of the
intervenor, declaring null and void the letter agreement dated March 16, 1977 (Exhibits 'E' to
'E-2'), and ordering petitioner Sylvia Lichauco De Leon to restore to intervenor the amount of
P380,000.00 plus legal interest from date of complaint, and to pay intervenor the amount of
P100,000.00 as and for attorney's fees, and to pay the costs of suit.
- Sylvia appealed to the respondent Court of Appeals
- The respondent court affirmed the decision in toto. The motion for reconsideration was
denied. Hence, the present petition.

- The only basis by which Sylvia may lay claim to the properties which are the subject matter
of the Letter-Agreement, is the Letter-Agreement itself reads:

In consideration for a peaceful and amicable termination of relations between the

undersigned and her lawfully wedded husband, Jose Vicente De Leon, your son, the
following are agreed upon: (emphasis supplied)

- It is readily apparent that the use of the word "relations" is ambiguous, perforce, it is subject
to interpretation.
- Article 1374 of the Civil Code which provides that the various stipulations of a contract shall
be interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones that sense which may result from all
of them taken jointly, is necessary.
- Sylvia insists that the consideration for her execution of the Letter-Agreement was the
termination of property relations with her husband. Indeed, Sylvia and Jose Vicente
subsequently filed a joint petition for judicial approval of the dissolution of their conjugal
partnership, sanctioned by Article 191 of the Civil Code. On the other hand, Macaria and
Jose Vicente assert that the consideration was the termination of marital relationship.
- We sustain the observations and conclusion made by the trial court:
 the parties contemplated not only to agree to a judicial separation of property of the
spouses but likewise to continue with divorce proceedings
 the court could not clearly perceive the underlying benefit for the intervenor insofar as
termination of property relationship between petitioners is concerned, unless the
underlying consideration for intervenor is the termination of marital relationship by
divorce proceedings between her son Jose Vicente and his wife petitioner Sylvia.
- Court, therefore, finds and holds that the cause or consideration for the intervenor Macaria
De Leon in having executed Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2' was the termination of the marital
relationship between her son Jose Vicente De Leon and Sylvia Lichauco de Leon.
- Macaria was able to prove that the questioned properties are owned by her. Neither Sylvia
nor Jose Vicente adduced any contrary evidence.
- Article 1377 of the Civil Code provides: "The interpretation of obscure words of stipulations in
a contract shall not favor the party who caused the obscurity