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GRANDE v DE SILVA

FACTS:

 Emilio Grande is the private offended party (of estafa and BP 22) against a certain Sergio Natividad,
the client of Atty. De Silva
 De Silva tendered a check to Grande as settlement of the civil aspect of the case.
 The check was returned with the notation that the ACCT CLOSED
 Grande filed a suit against De Silva for violation of BP 22 and Estafa (sha naman ang nakasuhan tuloy
hehe)
 De Silva refused to comment on notices of complaints sent to her.
 IBP recommended that de Silva be suspended for two years.

ISSUE: WoN de Silva should be suspended?

HELD: YES

RATIO:

1. The nature of the office of an atty requires that a lawyer shall be a person of good moral character.
Gross misconduct which puts the lawyer’s moral character in serious doubt may render her unfit to continue
in the practice of law. A lawyer may be disciplined for evading payment of a debt validly incurred. The loss of
moral character of a lawyer for any reason whatsoever shall warrant her suspension or disbarment.

2. Any wrongdoing which indicates moral unfitness for the profession, whether it be professional or non-
pro, justifies disciplinary action. For a lawyer’s professional and personal conduct must at all times be kept
beyond reproach and above suspicion.

Her deliberate refusal to accept the notices served on her stains the nobility of the profession. How else would
a lawyer endeavor to serve justice and uphold the law when she disdains to follow even simple directives.
Also, Canon 1 says that a lawyer shall uphold the consti, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for the
legal processes.
FELIX E. EDQUIBAL, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. ROBERTO FERRER, JR., Respondent.

RESOLUTION

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

In a letter-complaint1 under oath dated January 8, 2002, Felix E. Edquibal, complainant, charged Atty.
Roberto Ferrer, Jr., respondent, with professional misconduct and neglect of duty.

Complainant alleged that he engaged the services of respondent to assist his mother Ursula Edquibal
in cases she filed against his sister Delia Edquibal-Garcia involving a certain real property in
Masinloc, Zambales. His mother obtained favorable judgments in four (4) out of the five (5) cases
handled by respondent. However, in Civil Case No. RTC-1495-I (filed with the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 70, Iba, Zambales), the trial judge rendered a decision adverse to his mother. Respondent
then advised complainant to appeal to the Court of Appeals and that the cost involved is ₱4,000.00.
When complainant informed respondent that he does not have enough money, the latter said
₱2,000.00 would be sufficient for the moment. After receiving the money from complainant,
respondent told him just to wait for the result. The appeal was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 65019.

When complainant failed to hear from respondent in January 2001, he went to the Court of Appeals to
follow-up the appealed case. He then learned that the appeal was dismissed for failure of the
appellant to file the required appellant’s brief.

In his comment2 dated June 2, 2003, respondent denied that he filed an appeal, on behalf of
complainant’s mother, with the Court of Appeals or received ₱2,000.00. What happened was that
complainant told him that there is someone in the Court of Appeals who can help him regarding his
appeal. Respondent claimed that he "did his best" for complainant’s mother and did not even ask for
attorney’s fees.

On July 30, 2003, we referred the complaint to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report, and recommendation.

In his Report and Recommendation dated March 19, 2004, Atty. Leland R. Villadolid, IBP
Commissioner, made the following findings:

"It is clear from the records of this case that per the records of CA G-R. CV No. 65019, Respondent is
the counsel of record of defendants-appellants therein (including Complainant’s mother). In the
Resolution dated 31 August 000, it was explicitly noted that ‘(N)otice sent to counsel for defendants-
appellants requiring him to file appellant’s brief within forty-five (45) days from receipt thereof was
received by him on March 16, 2000.’ If it is true that Respondent never agreed to handle the appeal,
upon receipt of said notice, Respondent should have immediately manifested to the Court of Appeals
that he is not handling the appeal on behalf of said defendants-appellants. Thus, Section 2, Rule 44
of the Rules of Civil Procedure clearly states that ‘[T]he counsel and guardians ad litem of the parties
in the court of origin shall be respectively considered as their counsel and guardians ad litem in the
Court of Appeals.’ By failing to do so, the Court of Appeals had every reason to assume that he was
likewise representing defendants-appellants in the appeal. Accordingly, his failure to timely file the
required appellants’ brief resulted in the dismissal of the appeal.
The facts of this case clearly show that Respondent violated Canon 17 and 18 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (‘CPR’).

Undoubtedly, Respondent’s failure to exercise due diligence in protecting and attending to the interest
of Complainant (Complainant’s mother) caused the latter material prejudice. It should be remembered
that the moment a lawyer takes a client’s cause, he covenants that he will exert all effort for its
prosecution until its final conclusion. A lawyer who fails to exercise due diligence or abandons his
client’s cause makes him unworthy of the trust reposed in him by the latter. x x x"

Atty. Villadolid recommended to the IBP Board of Governors that respondent be reprimanded "for
failure to act with reasonable diligence in representing the cause of complainant;" and that
respondent be directed to "return the amount of ₱2,000.00 as and by way of restitution to
complainant."

In its Resolution No. XVI-2004-383 dated July 30, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
approved the Report and Recommendation of Atty. Villadolid, thus:

"RESOLVED TO ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report
and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part
of the Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering the respondent’s failure to act with
reasonable diligence in representing the cause of complainant, Atty. Roberto Ferrer, Jr., is hereby
REPRIMANDED and Ordered to Return the amount of ₱2,000,00 by way of Restitution to
complainant."3

We sustain the Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors except as to the penalty recommended.

Records show that respondent was the counsel of record for the appellants, complainant’s mother
and other relatives in CA-G.R. CV No. 65019. The Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated August
31, 2000 clearly states that the "notice sent to counsel for defendants-appellants requiring him
to file appellant’s brief within forty-five (45) days from receipt thereof, was received by him on
March 16, 2000."4 However, respondent failed to file the appellants’ brief despite receipt of such
notice.

Section 2, Rule 44 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides:

SEC. 2. Counsel and guardians. – The counsel and guardians ad litemof the parties in the court of
origin shall be respectively considered as their counsel and guardians ad litemin the Court of
Appeals. When others appear or are appointed, notice thereof shall be served immediately on the
adverse party and filed with the court.

If it were true that respondent did not agree to represent the appellants in CA-G.R. CV No. 65019,
why did he not file with the Court of Appeals a motion to withdraw as their counsel? Obviously, his
negligence, which resulted in the dismissal of the appeal, caused prejudice to his clients. Likewise,
respondent’s failure to inform complainant of the status of his mother’s appeal is inexcusable.

It bears stressing that the lawyer-client relationship is one of trust and confidence. Thus, there is a
need for the client to be adequately and fully informed about the developments in his case. 5 A client
should never be left groping in the dark, for to do so would be to destroy the trust, faith, and
confidence reposed in the lawyer so retained in particular and the legal profession in general.

Respondent violated Canons 17 and 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provide:
"Canon 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and
confidence reposed in him.

Canon 18 – A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.

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

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

Diligence is "the attention and care required of a person in a given situation and is the opposite of
negligence."6 A lawyer serves his client with diligence by adopting that 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 taken or withheld from him, save by the rules of law legally applied.7 It is
axiomatic in the practice of law that the price of success is eternal diligence to the cause of the client.

The practice of law does not require extraordinary diligence (exactissima diligentia) or that "extreme
measure of care and caution which persons of unusual prudence and circumspection use for securing
and preserving their rights."8 All that is required is ordinary diligence (diligentia) or that degree of
vigilance expected of a bonus pater familias. Yet, even by this lesser standard, respondent’s failure to
attend to his client’s appeal is clearly wanting.

In People v. Cawili,9 we held that the failure of counsel to submit the brief within the reglementary
period is an offense that entails disciplinary action. People v. Villar, Jr.10 characterized a lawyer’s
failure to file a brief for his client as inexcusable neglect. In Blaza v. Court of Appeals,11 we held that
the filing of a brief within the period set by law is a duty not only to the client, but also to the court.
gr_ Perla Compania de Seguros, Inc. v. Saquilaban 12 reiterated Ford v. Daitol13 and In re: Santiago F.
Marcos14 in holding that an attorney’s failure to file brief for his client constitutes inexcusable
negligence.

In cases involving a lawyer’s failure to file a brief or other pleading before an appellate court, we did
not hesitate to suspend the erring member of the Bar from the practice of law for three months,15 six
months,16 or even disbarment in severely aggravated cases.17

Accordingly and considering the circumstances of this case, we find a need to scale the
recommended penalty upward. Here, we are convinced that respondent deserves the penalty of
suspension for three (3) months.

WHEREFORE, ATTY. ROBERTO FERRER, JR. is hereby found guilty of professional misconduct
and neglect of duty. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months with a
WARNING that a repetition of the same or a similar offense shall be dealt with more severely. He is
further DIRECTED to return immediately to the complainant the amount of ₱2,000.00.

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

SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, (Chairman), Corona, Carpio-Morales, and Garcia, JJ., concur.


RAMOS V. IMBANG

FACTS
In 1992, the complainant Diana Ramos sought the assistance of respondent Atty. Jose R. Imbang in
filing civil and criminal actions against the spouses Roque and Elenita Jovellanos. She gave respondent P8,500
as attorney's fees but the latter issued a receipt for P5,000 only.
The complainant tried to attend the scheduled hearings of her cases against the Jovellanoses. Oddly,
respondent never allowed her to enter the courtroom and always told her to wait outside. He would then come
out after several hours to inform her that the hearing had been cancelled and rescheduled. This happened six
times and for each “appearance” in court, respondent charged her P350.
After six consecutive postponements, the complainant became suspicious. She personally inquired about
the status of her cases in the trial courts of Biñan and San Pedro, Laguna. She was shocked to learn that
respondent never filed any case against the Jovellanoses and that he was in fact employed in the Public
Attorney's Office (PAO).

HELD
Attorney Imbang is disbarred and his name stricken from the roll of attorneys.
Lawyers are expected to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity. More specifically, lawyers in
government service are expected to be more conscientious of their actuations as they are subject to public
scrutiny. They are not only members of the bar but also public servants who owe utmost fidelity to public
service.
Government employees are expected to devote themselves completely to public service. For this reason, the
private practice of profession is prohibited. Section 7(b)(2) of the Code of Ethical Standards for Public
Officials and Employees provides:
Section 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. -- In addition to acts and omissions of public officials and
employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the following constitute prohibited acts and
transactions of any public official and employee and are hereby declared unlawful:
xxx xxx xxx
(b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto, public officials and employees during their
incumbency shall not:
xxx xxx xxx
(1) Engage in the private practice of profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided
that such practice will not conflict with their official function.
Thus, lawyers in government service cannot handle private cases for they are expected to devote
themselves full-time to the work of their respective offices.
In this instance, respondent received P5,000 from the complainant and issued a receipt on July 15, 1992
while he was still connected with the PAO. Acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney-client
relationship. Respondent's admission that he accepted money from the complainant and the receipt confirmed
the presence of an attorney-client relationship between him and the complainant. Moreover, the receipt showed
that he accepted the complainant's case while he was still a government lawyer. Respondent clearly violated the
prohibition on private practice of profession.
Aggravating respondent's wrongdoing was his receipt of attorney's fees. The PAO was created for the
purpose of providing free legal assistance to indigent litigants. Section 14(3), Chapter 5, Title III, Book V of
the Revised Administrative Code provides:
Sec. 14. xxx
The PAO shall be the principal law office of the Government in extending free legal assistance to
indigent persons in criminal, civil, labor, administrative and other quasi-judicial cases.
As a PAO lawyer, respondent should not have accepted attorney's fees from the complainant as this was
inconsistent with the office's mission. Respondent violated the prohibition against accepting legal fees other
than his salary.
Every lawyer is obligated to uphold the law. This undertaking includes the observance of the above-
mentioned prohibitions blatantly violated by respondent when he accepted the complainant's cases and received
attorney's fees in consideration of his legal services. Consequently, respondent's acceptance of the cases was
also a breach of Rule 18.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility because the prohibition on the private
practice of profession disqualified him from acting as the complainant's counsel.
Aside from disregarding the prohibitions against handling private cases and accepting attorney's fees,
respondent also surreptitiously deceived the complainant. Not only did he fail to file a complaint against the
Jovellanoses (which in the first place he should not have done), respondent also led the complainant to believe
that he really filed an action against the Jovellanoses. He even made it appear that the cases were being tried
and asked the complainant to pay his “appearance fees” for hearings that never took place. These acts
constituted dishonesty, a violation of the lawyer's oath not to do any falsehood.
Respondent's conduct in office fell short of the integrity and good moral character required of all
lawyers, specially one occupying a public office. Lawyers in public office are expected not only to refrain from
any act or omission which tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in government but also uphold
the dignity of the legal profession at all times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair dealing. A
government lawyer is a keeper of public faith and is burdened with a high degree of social responsibility, higher
than his brethren in private practice.
There is, however, insufficient basis to find respondent guilty of violating Rule 16.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Respondent did not hold the money for the benefit of the complainant but accepted
it as his attorney's fees. He neither held the amount in trust for the complainant (such as an amount delivered by
the sheriff in satisfaction of a judgment obligation in favor of the client) nor was it given to him for a specific
purpose (such as amounts given for filing fees and bail bond). Nevertheless, respondent should return
the P5,000 as he, a government lawyer, was not entitled to attorney's fees and not allowed to accept them.
MS. ALICE DAVILA v. JUDGE JOSELITO S.D. GENEROSO +

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

The office of a judge requires him to obey all the lawful orders of his superiors. A judge is required to
decide cases before him with dispatch, mindful that delay in the disposition of cases erodes the faith
of the people in the judicial system. A judge who cannot comply with such a sworn duty should not
serve the judiciary any longer.

Administrative Matter No. MTJ-95-1062 was commenced by a letter-complaint[1] sent to the Court
Administrator by Ms. Alice Davila (complainant Davila), complaining of undue delay in the
disposition of Criminal Case No. 12293 before respondent Presiding Judge of Branch 34 of the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City. Complainant Davila alleged that subject criminal case was
deemed submitted for decision way back on February 16, 1993 but has remained undecided.

In a 1st Indorsement[2] dated May 30, 1994, Deputy Court Administrator Bernardo P. Abesamis (DCA
Abesamis) required the respondent judge to comment on the complaint within ten (10) days from
notice. In view of the failure of respondent judge to comply with the said 1st Indorsement, Reynaldo
L. Suarez (DCA Suarez), successor of DCA Abesamis, sent a First Tracer[3] warning the respondent
judge that should he fail to comment he (DCA Suarez) will recommend resolution of the Complaint
without respondent's comment.

On October 11, 1995, the Court Administrator received a letter[4] from complainant Davila, dated
September 7, 1995, requesting information as to the status of her subject complaint against the
respondent judge. Thereafter, DCA Suarez recommended to the Court that respondent judge be made
to explain his failure to decide subject Criminal Case No. 12293 and to comply with the directives of
the Court Administrator in connection therewith.

Acting thereupon, the Court issued the following Resolutions, to wit:

1. Resolution,[5] dated December 11, 1995, requiring respondent judge to

"(a) EXPLAIN his failure to decide Crim. Case No. 12293; and (b) SHOW CAUSE why he
should not be administratively dealt with or held in contempt for failure to comply with the
directive of the Office of the Court Administrator requiring him to inform said Office of his
comment/action on the complaint of Alice Davila, both within ten (10) days from notice
hereof."

2. Resolution,[6] dated October 7, 1996, requiring the respondent judge, anew, to comment on the
subject complaint within fifteen (15) days from notice;
3. Resolution,[7] dated August 13, 1997, requiring, for the last time, the respondent judge to
comply within ten (10) days from notice with the aforesaid Resolution of December 11, 1995;
otherwise, the same complaint will be decided on the basis of the pleadings and records on
hand;
4. Resolution,[8] dated January 21, 1998, requiring the respondent judge to show cause why he
should not be dealt with disciplinary or held in contempt for failure to comment on subject
complaint of complainant Davila and to comply with the resolution of August 13, 1997, within
ten (10) days from notice;
5. Resolution,[9] dated October 5, 1998, requiring respondent judge to comply with the resolution
of January 21, 1998, within ten (10) days from notice, under pain of appropriate disciplinary
action; and
6. Resolution,[10] dated March 17, 1999, requiring respondent judge to show cause why he should
not be dealt with more severely for failure to comply with the Resolution, dated December 11,
1995, and to file the required comment within ten (10) days from notice.

Administrative Matter No. OCA IPI 97-251-MTJ was commenced by the letter-complaint[11] of Dr.
Leticia S. Santos complaining of the delay in the resolution of her case pending before the respondent
judge. She stressed that Civil Case No. 11072, a simple case of ejectment, was submitted for decision
on June 28, 1995 but as of June 17, 1996, the case had not been decided.

In a 1st Indorsement[12] dated June 20, 1996, DCA Suarez required respondent judge to comment on
the said complaint within ten (10) days from receipt thereof. Absent any Comment filed, DCA Suarez
sent a 1st Tracer,[13]with the follow-up letter[14] of Dr. Santos thereto attached, requiring the
respondent judge to comply with the 1st Indorsement of June 20, 1996 within five (5) days; otherwise,
the case would be submitted for the consideration of the Court.

On March 17, 1997, the Court resolved to consolidate Administrative Matter No. OCA IPI 97-251-MTJ
with Administrative Matter No. MTJ-95-1062.[15]

It bears stressing that, in the above-cited Resolutions dated August 13, 1997, January 21, 1998,
October 5, 1998, and March 17, 1999, respectively, respondent judge was required to comment on the
Complainant and to explain his failure to comply with the directives of the Court. But as in the former
case, the respondent judge utterly failed to heed the orders of the Court.

The Court Administrator recommended the dismissal from the service of respondent judge, with
forfeiture of all benefits and leave credits and disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to
any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporation.

After a careful study, and considering the failure of respondent judge to explain the undue delay in the
disposition of subject cases before his court and his repeated failure to comply with the orders issued
in connection therewith, the Court finds merit in the recommendation of the Court Administrator.

The failure of respondent judge to comply with the show-cause resolutions aforecited constitutes
"grave and serious misconduct affecting his fitness and worthiness of the honor and integrity attached
to his office."[16] It is noteworthy that respondent judge was afforded several opportunities to explain
his failure to decide the subject cases long pending before his court and to comply with the directives
of the Court, but he has failed, and continues to fail, to heed the orders of the Court; a glaring proof
that he has become disinterested in his position in the judicial system to which he belongs. [17]

It is beyond cavil that the inability of respondent judge to decide the cases in question within the
reglementary period of ninety (90) days from their date of submission, constitutes gross
inefficiency[18] and is violative of Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which provides
that "[a] judge shall dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required
periods."
The separation of the respondent judge from the service is indeed warranted, if only to see to it that
the people's trust in the judiciary be maintained and speedy administration of justice be assured.

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Joselito S.D. Generoso is hereby DISMISSED from the service,
with forfeiture of all benefits and leave credits, and with disqualification from reinstatement or
appointment to any office in the government, including government-owned and controlled
corporations.

SO ORDERED.
[A.C. No. 6249. October 14, 2004]

SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSION, complainant, vs. ATTY. NAPOLEON CORRAL, respondent

RESOLUTION
QUISUMBING, J.:

In a Verified Complaint[1] filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines on January 25, 1993,
complainant Social Security Commission (hereafter the Commission, for brevity) sought to disbar
respondent Atty. Napoleon Corral for preparing, notarizing, and filing with the Commissions Regional
Office in Bacolod City two complaints allegedly executed and verified by people who have been long
dead.
The Commission alleged that respondent filed the first spurious complaint [2] on April 18, 1986, on
behalf of one Hermogenes Bareno. The complaint was signed by respondent himself, but appeared
to have been verified by Bareno with a thumbmark and acknowledged before respondent on April 16,
1986. Later, upon investigation, it was discovered that Bareno had died two years earlier. [3]
The second spurious complaint,[4] for its part, was filed on September 10, 1987, on behalf of one
Domingo N. Panadero, under similar circumstances. The complaint was likewise signed by
respondent himself and likewise appeared to have been verified by Panadero with a thumbmark and
acknowledged before respondent shortly prior to filing. When this complaint was investigated, it was
discovered that Panadero had also died long before.[5]
Adding to these charges, the Commission filed on May 16, 1994, a Supplemental
Complaint.[6] The Commission added that on July 12, 1990, respondent had filed a third similarly
spurious complaint.[7] Like the other two complaints, the third complaint was signed by respondent
himself and likewise appeared to have been subscribed and sworn to before him in Bacolod by the
purported complainant, one Catalino de la Cruz, who, upon being investigated, declared in an
affidavit that he had never been to Bacolod City for the last ten years, that he had never verified any
such complaint, and that he did not even know who respondent was. [8]
Claiming that respondent was liable for misconduct and unethical practice of law, the Commission
prayed in both its Verified Complaint and Supplemental Complaint that respondent be disbarred and
his name removed from the Roll of Attorneys.
In his Comment, respondent argued that since Hermogenes Barenos impostor had Barenos
Social Security System (SSS) card, Domingo Panaderos impostor had Panaderos SSS FORM E-1,
and Catalino de la Cruzs impostor had an ID, he could not be faulted for not investigating further into
their identities. He argued he had sufficiently complied with his obligations as notary public when he
relied only on what they had presented, especially since they sought only the preparation of simple,
but justified, complaints for remittance of unpaid SSS premiums.[9]
After investigating the matter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
issued on September 27, 2003, Resolution No. XVI-2003-175 recommending that respondent be
disbarred. The IBP resolution reads:
RESOLUTION NO. XVI-2003-175
CBD Case No. 232
Social Security Commission vs.
Atty. Napoleon Corral
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of
this Resolution/Decision as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, with modification, and considering
Respondents violation of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility by failure to
fulfill his duties and responsibilities as a lawyer and as a Notary Public, Atty. Napoleon Corral is
hereby DISBARRED.[10]

The Resolution, now before the Court for final action pursuant to Sec. 12 par. (b), Rule 139-B of
the Rules of Court,[11] is well taken.
Respondent failed to exercise utmost diligence in the performance of his duty under Section 1(a)
of Public Act No. 2103,[12] which requires a party to any document notarized by a notary public to
personally appear before the latter.[13] Bareno, Panadero, and de la Cruz did not personally appear
before respondent. The death certificates presented show that both Bareno and Panadero had long
been dead, while de la Cruzs unrebutted affidavit proves he had never been to Bacolod City where he
supposedly verified the complaint. It is a mystery, then, how respondent, in notarizing the complaints,
could have certified that Bareno, Panadero and de la Cruz personally appeared before him and swore
to the truth of the facts stated in the complaints.
Respondent did not clarify whether the forms of identification presented to him and on which he
relied were valid IDs. He never expounded on what documents Barenos impostor presented or on
what kind of ID de la Cruzs impostor showed him. An examination of said SSS Form E-1, presented
to him by Panaderos impostor, also shows that it is only a statement of a members beneficiaries and
does not, in any way, tend to prove that the bearer is the member whose name appears on said form.
Respondent did not even state what precautions he took to ascertain the identities of those who
appeared before him. He asseverated that it was sufficient that he relied on some form of
identification, especially since he was merely notarizing simple complaints for remittance of unpaid
SSS contributions. Respondent failed to realize that the complaints he had prepared and carelessly
notarized would haul the prospective defendants in those complaints to the Commission and cause
them to spend valuable time and incur expenses in their defense. Such jaunty indifference betrays his
deplorable failure to heed the importance of the notarial act and observe with utmost care the basic
requirements in the performance of his duties as a notary public. It is noteworthy to stress here that a
notary public is duty bound to require the person executing a document to be personally present, to
swear before him that he is that person and ask the latter if he has voluntarily and freely executed the
same.
Respondent is reminded that faithful observance and utmost respect of the legal solemnity of the
oath in an acknowledgment or jurat is sacrosanct.[14] Notarization is not an empty, meaningless,
routinary act.[15] Being a lawyer, respondent has a graver responsibility because of his solemn oath to
obey the laws and to do no falsehood or consent to the doing of any.[16] He is mandated to discharge
his duties, which are dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest, with accuracy and
fidelity.[17]
By recklessly notarizing the complaints without ascertaining that Hermogenes Bareno, Domingo
Panadero, and Catalino de la Cruz were indeed personally appearing before him to attest to the
contents and truth of what were stated in the complaints he prepared, respondent undermined the
confidence of the public on notarial documents. He breached Canon I of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which requires lawyers to uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and
promote respect for the law and legal processes, and Rule 1.01 thereof, which proscribes lawyers
from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.[18] Serious doubts exist in his
fitness to continue as a member of an esteemed and honorable profession.
WHEREFORE, for violating Public Act No. 2103, Section 1(a) and the Code of Professional
Responsibility, respondent Atty. Napoleon Corrals notarial commission, if still extant, is
INDEFINITELY SUSPENDED.[19]
Respondent is further DIRECTED to SHOW CAUSE within ten (10) days from receipt of copy of
this Resolution why he should not be disbarred.
SO ORDERED.
[A.C. No. 5151. October 19, 2004]

PEDRO G. TOLENTINO, ROMEO M. LAYGO, SOLOMON M. LUMALANG, SR., MELITON D.


EVANGELISTA, SR., and NELSON B. MELGAR, complainants, vs. ATTY. NORBERTO M.
MENDOZA, respondent.

RESOLUTION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Before us is a complaint filed by Pedro G. Tolentino, Romeo M. Laygo, Solomon M. Lumalang,


Sr., Meliton D. Evangelista, Sr., and Nelson B. Melgar against Atty. Norberto M. Mendoza for Grossly
Immoral Conduct and Gross Misconduct.
Complainants allege in their Affidavit-Complaint that respondent, a former Municipal Trial Court
Judge, abandoned his legal wife, Felicitas V. Valderia in favor of his paramour, Marilyn dela Fuente,
who is, in turn, married to one Ramon G. Marcos; respondent and Marilyn dela Fuente have been
cohabiting openly and publicly as husband and wife in Brgy. Estrella, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro;
respondent had fathered two children by his paramour Marilyn dela Fuente; respondent and Marilyn
dela Fuente declared in the birth certificates of their two daughters that they were married on May 12,
1986, making it appear that their two children are legitimate, while in respondents Certificate of
Candidacy filed with the COMELEC during the 1995 elections, respondent declared that his wife is
Felicitas V. Valderia; in respondents certificate of candidacy for the 1998 elections, he declared his
civil status as separated; such declarations in the birth certificates of his children and in his certificate
of candidacy are acts constituting falsification of public documents; and respondents acts betray his
lack of good moral character and constitute grounds for his removal as a member of the bar.
Respondent filed his Comment wherein he states that complainants, who are his political
opponents in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, are merely filing this case to exact revenge on him for his
filing of criminal charges against them; complainants illegally procured copies of the birth certificates
of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza,
in violation of Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993, thus, such documents are
inadmissible in evidence; respondent did not participate in the preparation and submission with the
local civil registry of subject birth certificates; respondent never declared that he had two wives, as he
has always declared that he is separated in fact from his wife, Felicitas V. Valderia; and complainants
have used this issue against him during elections and yet, the people of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro still
elected him as Mayor, hence, respondent has not offended the publics sense of morality.
The administrative case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter IBP) for
investigation, report and recommendation. Thereafter, the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP
conducted hearings.
Witnesses for complainants, Nelson B. Melgar and Romeo M. Laygo, submitted their affidavits as
their direct testimony and were subjected to cross-examination by respondents counsel.
Witness Nelson B. Melgar declares in his affidavit as follows: He knows respondent for they both
reside in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. Respondent is known as a practicing lawyer and a former
Municipal Trial Court Judge. Respondent has been cohabiting openly and publicly with Marilyn dela
Fuente, representing themselves to be husband and wife, and from their cohabitation, they produced
two children, namely, Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela
Fuente Mendoza. Sometime in 1995, he (witness Melgar) received a letter from a concerned citizen,
informing him that respondent was married to Felicitas Valderia of San Rafael, Bulacan, on January
16, 1980, but respondent abandoned his wife to cohabit with Marilyn dela Fuente. Attached to the
letter was a photocopy of a Certification issued by the Civil Register attesting to the marriage between
respondent and Felicitas Valderia. He also received information from concerned citizens that Marilyn
dela Fuente is also legally married to one Ramon G. Marcos, as evidenced by a Certification from the
Office of the Civil Register. Respondent stated in his Certificate of Candidacy filed with the
COMELEC in 1995 that he is still legally married to Felicitas Valderia. In respondents Certificate of
Candidacy filed with the COMELEC in 1998, he declared his civil status as separated. Respondent
has represented to all that he is married to Marilyn dela Fuente. In the Naujanews, a local newspaper
where respondent holds the position of Chairman of the Board of the Editorial Staff, respondent was
reported by said newspaper as husband to Marilyn dela Fuente and the father of Mara Khrisna
Charmina and Myrra Khrisna Normina.
On cross-examination, witness Melgar testified as follows: He was the former mayor of Naujan
and he and respondent belong to warring political parties. It was not respondent who told him about
the alleged immoral conduct subject of the present case. Although he received the letter of a
concerned citizen regarding the immoral conduct of respondent as far back as 1995, he did not
immediately file a case for disbarment against respondent. It was only after respondent filed a
criminal case for falsification against him that he decided to file an administrative case against
respondent.[1]
On re-direct examination, witness Melgar testified that there were people who were against the
open relationship between respondent and Marilyn dela Fuente as respondent had been publicly
introducing the latter as his wife despite the fact that they are both still legally married to other
persons, and so someone unknown to him just handed to their maid copies of the birth certificates of
Mara Khrisna Charmina and Myrra Khrisna Normina.[2]
The affidavit of Mr. Romeo M. Laygo, which was adopted as his direct testimony, is practically
identical to that of witness Melgar. On cross-examination, witness Laygo testified that he was not the
one who procured the certified true copies of the birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela
Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza, as somebody just gave said
documents to Nelson Melgar. He was a municipal councilor in 1995 when the letter of a concerned
citizen regarding respondents immorality was sent to Melgar, but he did not take any action against
respondent at that time.[3]
Complainants then formally offered documentary evidence consisting of photocopies which were
admitted by respondents counsel to be faithful reproductions of the originals or certified true copies
thereof, to wit: a letter of one Luis Bermudez informing Nelson Melgar of respondents immoral
acts,[4] the Certification of the Local Civil Registrar of San Rafael, Bulacan, attesting to the celebration
of the marriage between respondent and one Felicitas Valderia,[5] the Birth Certificate of Mara Khrisna
Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza,[6] the Birth Certificate of Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente
Mendoza,[7] the Certificate of Candidacy of respondent dated March 9, 1995, [8] the Certificate of
Candidacy of respondent dated March 25, 1998,[9] Certification issued by the Civil Registrar of
Naujan, Oriental Mindoro dated October 27, 1998, attesting to the marriage celebrated between
Marilyn dela Fuente and Ramon Marcos,[10] and the editorial page of the Naujanews (February-March
1999 issue),[11] wherein it was stated that respondent has two daughters with his wife, Marilyn dela
Fuente.
Respondent, on the other hand, opted not to present any evidence and merely submitted a
memorandum expounding on his arguments that the testimonies of complainants witnesses are mere
hearsay, thus, said testimonies and their documentary evidence have no probative weight.
On February 27, 2004, the Board of Governors of the IBP passed Resolution No. XVI-2004-123,
reading as follows:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating 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 laws and rules, and considering respondents violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, Atty. Norberto M. Mendoza is hereby SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY from the practice of
law until he submits satisfactory proof that he is no longer cohabiting with a woman who is not his wife and has
abandoned such immoral course of conduct.

Portions of the report and recommendation of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, upon which
the above-quoted Resolution was based, read as follows:

FINDINGS:

The evidence of complainants to support their charge of immorality consists in a) the testimonies of Nelson
Melgar and Romeo Laygo given by way of affidavits executed under oath and affirmed before the Commission
and b) their documentary evidence consisting of their Exhibits A to H.

Respondent filed his comment through counsel and did not formally present or offer any evidence. Respondent
opted not to present his evidence anymore because according to him there is none to rebut vis--vis the evidence
presented by the private complainants. Respondent instead submitted a memorandum through counsel to argue
his position. As can be seen from the comment and memorandum submitted, respondents counsel argues that
the complaint is politically motivated since complainants are political rivals of respondent and that the birth
certificates Exhibits D and D-1 which were offered to show that respondent sired the children namely Mara
Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza out of his
cohabitation with Marilyn dela Fuente are inadmissible because they were allegedly secured in violation of
Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 1993. The rest of the exhibits are either hearsay or self-serving according
to respondent.

The witnesses who are also two of the complainants herein, on the other hand, categorically state in their
affidavits [Exhibits A and B] particularly in paragraph 2 that Respondent has been cohabiting openly and
publicly with Marilyn de la Fuente, representing themselves to be husband and wife. In paragraph 10 of said
affidavits the witnesses also categorically state that respondent has even represented to all and sundry that
Marilyn de la Fuente is his wife. These categorical statements made under oath by complainants are not hearsay
and remain un-rebutted. Respondent chose not to rebut them.

Exhibit E, the Certificate of Candidacy executed by respondent shows that respondent is married to one,
Felicitas V. Valderia. As shown by Exhibit H, a marriage certificate, Marilyn de la Fuente is married to one,
Ramon G. Marcos. Duly certified true copies of said exhibits have been presented by complainants.

With respect to Exhibits D and D-1, we believe that they are competent and relevant evidence and admissible in
this proceedings. The exclusionary rule which bars admission of illegally obtained evidence applies more
appropriately to evidence obtained as a result of illegal searches and seizures. The instant case cannot be
analogous to an illegal search or seizure. A person who violates Rule 24 of Administrative Order No. 1 Series
of 1993 as cited by respondent risks the penalty of imprisonment or payment of a fine but it does not make the
document so issued inadmissible as evidence specially in proceedings like the present case. Exhibits D and D-1
which are duly certified birth certificates are therefore competent evidence to show paternity of said children by
respondent in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.

By and large the evidence of complainants consisting of the testimonies of witnesses Nelson Melgar and Romeo
Laygo, and corroborated by the documentary exhibits will show that indeed respondent has been cohabiting
publicly with a certain Marilyn de la Fuente who is not his wife and that out of said cohabitation respondent
sired two children. These facts we repeat have not been denied by respondent under oath since he chose to just
argue on the basis of the improper motivations and the inadmissibility, hearsay and self-serving nature of the
documents presented. Complainants have presented evidence sufficient enough to convince us that indeed
respondent has been cohabiting publicly with a person who is not his wife. The evidence taken together will
support the fact that respondent is not of good moral character. That respondent chose not to deny under oath
the grave and serious allegations made against him is to our mind his undoing and his silence has not helped his
position before the Commission. As between the documents and positive statements of complainants, made
under oath and the arguments and comments of respondent submitted through his lawyers, which were not
verified under oath by respondent himself, we are inclined and so give weight to the evidence of complainants.
The direct and forthright testimonies and statements of Nelson Melgar and Romeo Laygo that respondent was
openly cohabiting with Marilyn de la Fuente is not hearsay. The witnesses may have admitted that respondent
Mendoza did not tell them that a certain Marilyn de la Fuente was his paramour (for why would respondent
admit that to complainants) but the witnesses did state clearly in their affidavits under oath that respondent was
cohabiting with Marilyn de la Fuente who is not respondents wife. Again their categorical statements taken
together with the other documents, are enough to convince us and conclude that respondent is not of good moral
character.

Members of the Bar have been repeatedly reminded that possession of good moral character is a continuing
condition for membership in the Bar in good standing. The continued possession of good moral character is a
requisite condition for remaining in the practice of law [Mortel vs. Aspiras 100 Phil. 586 (1956); Cordova vs.
Cordova 179 SCRA 680 (1989); People vs. Tuanda 181 SCRA 682 (1990)]. The moral delinquency that affects
the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such includes conduct that outrages the generally accepted
moral standards of the community, conduct for instance, which makes mockery of the inviolable social
institution of marriage [Mijares vs. Villaluz 274 SCRA 1 (1997)].

In the instant case respondent has disregarded and made a mockery of the fundamental institution of marriage.
Respondent in fact even so stated in Exhibit F that he is separated from his wife. This fact and statement
without any further explanation from respondent only contributes to the blot in his moral character which good
moral character we repeat is a continuing condition for a member to remain in good standing. Under Rule 1.01
of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct. Respondent has violated this rule against engaging in immoral conduct.

We agree, as cited by the respondent, with the pronouncement made in Santos vs. Dischoso, 84 SCRA 622
(1978) that courts should not be used by private persons particularly disgruntled opponents to vent their rancor
on members of the Bar through unjust and unfounded accusations. However, in the instant case the charges can
hardly be considered as unfounded or unjust based on the evidence presented. The evidence presented shows
that respondent no longer possess (sic) that good moral character necessary as a condition for him to remain a
member of the Bar in good standing. He is therefore not entitled to continue to engage in the practice of law.

We find such report and recommendation of the IBP to be fully supported by the pleadings and
evidence on record, and, hence, approve and adopt the same.
The evidence presented by complainants reach that quantum of evidence required in
administrative proceedings which is only substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence
that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conviction. [12]
Witness Melgars testimony that respondent had been publicly introducing Marilyn dela Fuente as
his wife is corroborated by the contents of an article in the Naujanews, introducing respondent as one
of Naujans public servants, and stating therein that respondent has been blessed with two beautiful
children with his wife, Marilyn dela Fuente.[13] It should be noted that said publication is under the
control of respondent, he being the Chairman of the Board thereof. Thus, it could be reasonably
concluded that if he contested the truth of the contents of subject article in the Naujanews, or if he did
not wish to publicly present Marilyn dela Fuente as his wife, he could have easily ordered that the
damning portions of said article to be edited out.
With regard to respondents argument that the credibility of witnesses for the complainants is
tainted by the fact that they are motivated by revenge for respondents filing of criminal cases against
them, we opine that even if witnesses Melgar and Laygo are so motivated, the credibility of their
testimonies cannot be discounted as they are fully supported and corroborated by documentary
evidence which speak for themselves. The birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente
Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza born on June 16, 1988 and May 22,
1990, respectively, to Norberto M. Mendoza and Marilyn Dela Fuente; and the Certification from the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Bulacan attesting to the existence in its records of an entry of a
marriage between respondent and one Felicitas Valderia celebrated on January 16, 1980, are public
documents and are prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein, as provided for under Article
410[14] of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
Respondent mistakenly argues that the birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente
Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza born on June 16, 1988 and May 22,
1990, respectively, to Norberto M. Mendoza and Marilyn Dela Fuente, are inadmissible in evidence
for having been obtained in violation of Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993, which
provides as follows:

Rule 24. Non-Disclosure of Birth Records.

(1) The records of a persons birth shall be kept strictly confidential and no information relating
thereto shall be issued except on the request of any of the following:
a. the concerned person himself, or any person authorized by him;
b. the court or proper public official whenever absolutely necessary in administrative, judicial
or other official proceedings to determine the identity of the childs parents or other
circumstances surrounding his birth; and
c. in case of the persons death, the nearest of kin.
(2) Any person violating the prohibition shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of at least two
months or a fine in an amount not exceeding five hundred pesos, or both in the discretion
of the court. (Article 7, P.D. 603)
Section 3, Rule 128 of the Revised Rules on Evidence provides that evidence is admissible when
it is relevant to the issue and is not excluded by the law or these rules. There could be no dispute that
the subject birth certificates are relevant to the issue. The only question, therefore, is whether the law
or the rules provide for the inadmissibility of said birth certificates allegedly for having been obtained
in violation of Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993.
Note that Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993 only provides for sanctions against
persons violating the rule on confidentiality of birth records, but nowhere does it state that
procurement of birth records in violation of said rule would render said records inadmissible in
evidence. On the other hand, the Revised Rules of Evidence only provides for the exclusion of
evidence if it is obtained as a result of illegal searches and seizures. It should be emphasized,
however, that said rule against unreasonable searches and seizures is meant only to protect a person
from interference by the government or the state.[15] In People vs. Hipol,[16] we explained that:

The Constitutional proscription enshrined in the Bill of Rights does not concern itself with the relation between
a private individual and another individual. It governs the relationship between the individual and the State and
its agents. The Bill of Rights only tempers governmental power and protects the individual against any
aggression and unwarranted interference by any department of government and its agencies. Accordingly, it
cannot be extended to the acts complained of in this case. The alleged warrantless search made by Roque, a co-
employee of appellant at the treasurers office, can hardly fall within the ambit of the constitutional proscription
on unwarranted searches and seizures.

Consequently, in this case where complainants, as private individuals, obtained the subject birth
records as evidence against respondent, the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures
does not apply.
Since both Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993 and the Revised Rules on
Evidence do not provide for the exclusion from evidence of the birth certificates in question, said
public documents are, therefore, admissible and should be properly taken into consideration in the
resolution of this administrative case against respondent.
Verily, the facts stated in the birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza
and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza and respondents Certificate of Candidacy dated
March 9, 1995 wherein respondent himself declared he was married to Felicitas Valderia, were never
denied nor rebutted by respondent. Hence, said public documents sufficiently prove that he fathered
two children by Marilyn dela Fuente despite the fact that he was still legally married to Felicitas
Valderia at that time.
In Bar Matter No. 1154,[17] good moral character was defined thus:

. . . good moral character is what a person really is, as distinguished from good reputation or from the opinion
generally entertained of him, the estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he is known.
Moral character is not a subjective term but one which corresponds to objective reality. The standard of
personal and professional integrity is not satisfied by such conduct as it merely enables a person to escape the
penalty of criminal law.

In Zaguirre vs. Castillo,[18] we reiterated the definition of immoral conduct, to wit:

. . . that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and
respectable members of the community. Furthermore, such conduct must not only be immoral, but grossly
immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to
a high degree or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of
decency.

In the above-quoted case, we pointed out that a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not
only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or the keeping of mistresses but must also
behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those
moral standards and, thus, ruled that siring a child with a woman other than his wife is a conduct way
below the standards of morality required of every lawyer.[19]
We must rule in the same wise in this case before us. The fact that respondent continues to
publicly and openly cohabit with a woman who is not his legal wife, thus, siring children by her, shows
his lack of good moral character. Respondent should keep in mind that the requirement of good moral
character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the Philippine Bar but is also a continuing
requirement to maintain ones good standing in the legal profession.[20] In Aldovino vs. Pujalte,
Jr.,[21] we emphasized that:

This Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity and good moral character of members of the Bar. They
are expected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or
omission which might lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and
integrity of the legal profession. Membership in the legal profession is a privilege. And whenever it is made to
appear that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of the public, it becomes not only the
right but also the duty of this Court, which made him one of its officers and gave him the privilege of
ministering within its Bar, to withdraw the privilege.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Norberto M. Mendoza is hereby found GUILTY of immorality, in


violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY
from the practice of law until he submits satisfactory proof that he has abandoned his immoral course
of conduct.
Let a copy of this resolution be served personally on respondent at his last known address and
entered in his record as attorney. Let the IBP, the Bar Confidant, and the Court Administrator be
furnished also a copy of this resolution for their information and guidance as well as for circularization
to all courts in the country.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio,
Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Tinga, Chico-Nazario, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
Azcuna, J., on leave.
VIOLETA R. TAHAW, complainant, vs. ATTY. JEREMIAS P. VITAN, respondent. A.C. No. 6441.
October 21, 2004

Facts: Victoria Tahaw (Tahaw), the complainant, secured the services of respondent Atty.
Jeremias Vitan (Vitan) for filing appropriate action for a partition of a real property located in Makati
City delivering to respondent 4 checks amounting to P30,000.00. Upon verification to check if a case
has been filed for and in her behalf, she was issued a certification by the Clerk of Court in Makati that
no such case was filed prompting Tahaw to write the respondent informing him that she was
terminating his services as counsel and demanded the refund of the P30,000.00 to which Vitan failed
to return prompting to file a complaint of disbarment or suspension with IBP.
Issue: Whether or not the non filing of a case constitute a remiss in the lawyer’s responsibilities
which can be penalized by disbarment or suspension with the IBP.

Held: The Court agreed with the recommendation of the IBP that respondent has been remiss in
his responsibilities. He is found guilty of violation of Canons 7 and 17 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility for his failure to file the necessary pleading for his client’s case and for the failure to
return and immediately deliver the funds of his client advanced for the purpose of filing the said case,
upon demand, and even after his commitment with the IBP to do so. Canon 17 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility provides: “A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. The trust and confidence of clients require in a
lawyer a high standard and appreciation of his duty to them. Nothing should be done by any member
of the legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the
fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the legal profession. The respondent was suspended for six months
with a stern warning that a repetition of the same and similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
HON. MARIANO S. MACIAS, complainant, vs. ATTY. ALANIXON A. SELDA, respondent.

DECISION
PUNO, J.:

For violation of the lawyers oath, Judge Mariano S. Macias, Presiding Judge of Regional Trial
Court, Branch 28, Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte, filed before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
a Petition for Administrative Discipline against Atty. Alanixon A. Selda.[1]
The facts are undisputed. On January 24, 2000, respondent Selda withdrew as counsel for one
Norma T. Lim, private protestee in Election Case No. SE-01 entitled Ruth Maraon v. The Municipal
Board of Canvassers, Salud, Zamboanga del Norte, and Norma T. Lim for Annulment of Election,
etc.[2] He basically submitted as ground for his withdrawal that he could not cope up with the pace of
the proceedings in view of his workload. He claimed that the hearings of the election protest case
would run from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and he still had to attend to his other cases including classes at
Philippine Advent College, which start at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
In light of these representations, complainant granted the Motion and ordered respondent
relieved of all his responsibilities as counsel for private protestee. However, on May 22, 2000,
respondent executed an affidavit disavowing his grounds for withdrawing as counsel for private
protestee. He swore that he only filed the Motion on account of the pre-judgment of the case by
complainant, who, on several occasions insinuated to him that his client would lose in the protest. He
stated that he was convinced that chaos would result if his client were unseated, and withdrawal from
the case was his best recourse.
On the basis of respondents affidavit, his former client and private protestee in subject election
protest case, moved for the inhibition of complainant. On June 2, 2000, complainant granted the
motion for his inhibition if only to disabuse any doubt on his impartiality. But on August 23, 2000, this
Court set aside complainants inhibition after finding no strong and valid reason therefor, and directed
him to continue hearing the case and to resolve it with reasonable dispatch.
Deploring the act of respondent as serious deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct as a lawyer and
in utter violation of the lawyers oath, complainant requested the IBP to investigate the matter and
recommend to the Court an appropriate penalty against respondent. On January 30, 2002, the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline[3] required respondent to answer. He failed.
On November 21, 2003, after several postponements filed by the parties, their failure to
personally appear before the IBP investigating commission, and the request of complainant to resolve
the case on the basis of the pleadings, Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, submitted her
report and recommended to the IBP Board of Governors that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for two (2) years.
The Board, in its Resolution No. XVI-2004-122 dated February 27, 2004, adopted and approved
with modification the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Maala. It reduced the
suspension of respondent to six (6) months; hence, the transmittal of the case and its records to this
Court for final resolution[4] pursuant to Rule 139-B, Section 12(b) of the Rules of Court, viz:

Review and Decision by the Board of Governors. x x x x (b) If the Board, by the vote of a majority of its total
membership, determines that the respondent should be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred, it shall
issue a resolution setting forth its findings and recommendations which, together with the whole record of the
case, shall forthwith be transmitted to the Supreme Court for final action.
We affirm the findings of the IBP on the culpability of respondent.
All members of the legal profession made a solemn oath to, inter alia, do no falsehood and
conduct [themselves] as [lawyers] according to the best of [their] knowledge and discretion with all
good fidelity as well to the courts as to [their] clients. These particular fundamental principles are
reflected in the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically:

Canon 10 A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.

Rule 10.01 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 an artifice.

When respondent executed his affidavit of May 22, 2000 retracting his reason for withdrawing as
counsel for Norma T. Lim, he acknowledged, under oath, his misrepresentation. He misled the court
in clear violation of his oath as lawyer and failed to abide by the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Candor towards the courts is a cardinal requirement of the practicing lawyer. [5] In fact, this
obligation to the bench for candor and honesty takes precedence. [6] Thus, saying one thing in
his Motion to Withdraw as Counsel for Private Protestee and another in his subsequent affidavit is a
transgression of this imperative which necessitates appropriate punishment.
The appropriate penalty to be imposed on an errant attorney involves the exercise of sound
judicial discretion based on the facts of the case. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court
provides, viz:

Sec. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the bar
may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or
other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to
practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully
appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. The practice of soliciting cases for the
purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.

The circumstances in this case demand that respondent be imposed suspension from the
practice of law for one (1) year. This serves the purpose of protecting the interest of the court, the
legal profession and the public. For indeed, if respect for the courts and for judicial process is gone or
steadily weakened, no law can save us as a society.[7]
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the February 27, 2004 Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors in CBD
Case No. 02-921 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that respondent Atty. Alanixon A. Selda is
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year, to commence upon receipt of this Decision.
He is further sternly warned that a repetition of a similar offense will call for a more severe
consequence.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the personal record of respondent with the Office of the
Bar Confidant. Likewise, let copies of this Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and all its chapters, and to all the courts in the land.
Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
A.C. No. 3532January 17, 2005

Rasmus Anderson Jr., petitioner vs. Atty. Reynaldo A. Cardeno, respondent

AZCUNA, J.:

FACTS:

This is an administrative case filed by petitioner against respondent charging for malpractice and neglectof
duty from alleged neglect or deliberate mishandling of a case resulting to the latter’s prejudice.Petitioner
specifically alleged that respondent failed to file an opposition and did not appear at theformal hearing set
considering the merits of the demurrer. Furthermore, respondent did not file a Motion for Reconsideration
after the trial court issued an order finding the respondent’s demurrer to evidence meritorious.Moreover,
respondent insisted to represent the complainant despite verbal withdrawing the case as his counsel.On the
other hand, respondent concluded that complainant cannot accuse him of deliberately causingtheir defeat in
the case, when in fact, he did his best with such little information, support and cooperation by thecomplainant
and the latter’s friends. It was his friends who chose to take “another path” to deal with the caseand proposed
to employ acts to corrupt the judge.IBP Commissioner, found respondent guilty of neglect of duty which was
affirmed by the IBP Board of Governors.

ISSUE:

Whether or not respondent violate Canon 18 of the Code of CPR?

RULING:

The court sustains the findings and recommendations of the IBP Board of Governors. Hence, it was heldthat a
lawyer should never neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, otherwise his negligence in fulfilling his
dutysubjects him to disciplinary action. Respondent is reminded that the practice of law is a special
privilege bestowed only upon those who are competent intellectually, academically and morally. This court ha
s beenexacting in its expectations for the members of the Bar always to uphold the integrity and dignity of the
legal profession and refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and confidence of the
public.
SAN JOSE HOMEOWNERS V ROMANILLOS

Facts:
 This is a disbarment case against Atty. Roberto Romanillos, for representing conflicting
interests and for using the title “Judge” despite having been found guilty of grave and serious
misconduct (in Zarate v Romanillos).
 Apparently, Romanillos was previously an active board member as corporate secretary of
Durano Corp. Inc. (DCI). But it allowed itself to represent San Jose Homeowners Association, Inc
(SJHAI) before the human Settlements Regulation Commission in a case against the same DCI.
 Irrelevant info: the case above was an alleged violation of DCI of the Subdivision and
Condominium Buyer’s Protection Act. DCI sold a land designated as a school site, without disclosing
it as such. (page 106)
 When SJHAI’s petition over the land was denied, the SJHAI’s Board terminated Romanillos’
services.
 Also, Romanillos acted as counsel for Lydia Durano-Rodriguez who substituted for DCI.
 Thus, a disbarment case was filed for conflicting interests.
 The IBP handled the case, but he was merely reprimanded.
 In spite of this, he still continued to serve as counsel for Durano-Rodriguez. Thus, a second
disbarment case was filed. It also included his use of “judge” although he was found guilty of grave
and serious misconduct.

Issue:
W/N Romanillos should be disbarred

Held:
 Yes.
 It is inconsequential that SJHAI never questioned the propriety of respondent’s continued
representation of Durano-Rodriguez. The lack of opposition does not mean consent. As long as the
lawyer represents 2 or more opposing clients, he is guilty of violating his oath.
 His continued use of “judge” violated Rules 1.01 and 3.01. The penalty imposed on him in the
Zarate case forfeiture of all leave and retirement benefits and privileges: including the title judge.
(he was a judge before, but he resigned instead of being booted out)
 The title “judge” should be reserved only to judges, incumbent and retired, an not to those
who were dishonorably discharged from the service.