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[G.R. Nos. 131384-87. February 2, 2000] NADERA, twelve (12) years of age at that time against
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. the latter's will and consent.
ELEGIO NADERA, JR. Y SADSAD, In Criminal Case No. C-4985, the information[8] recited -
MENDOZA, J.: That on or about the 3rd day of March 1996 at around
8:00 o'clock in the evening, at Barangay Bayani,
These cases are before us on automatic review of the Municipality of Naujan, Province of Oriental Mindoro,
decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, Calapan, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Oriental Mindoro, finding accused-appellant Elegio Court, the above-named accused, motivated by lust and
Nadera, Jr. guilty of four counts of rape of his minor lewd design, and by means of force and intimidation,
daughters, Oleby and Maricris Nadera, and sentencing wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously did lie and succeeded
him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for one in having carnal knowledge with his daughter, MARICRIS
count of rape and death for each of the remaining three NADERA, eleven (11) years of age against the latter's
counts. Accused-appellant was also ordered to indemnify will and consent.
complainants Oleby Nadera in the amount of The record shows that at his arraignment on July 23,
P150,000.00 and Maricris Nadera in the amount of 1996, accused-appellant, assisted by Atty. Manolo A.
P50,000.00, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of Brotonel of the Public Attorney's Office, pleaded not
insolvency. MENDOZAJ guilty to the charges filed against him.[9] However, on
Reversal of the decision is sought on the sole ground that August 5, 1997, after the prosecution had presented Dr.
- Cynthia S. Fesalbon, accused-appellant pleaded guilty to
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN ACCEPTING the crime charged in all the informations.
ACCUSED-APPELLANT'S IMPROVIDENT PLEA OF GUILTY The prosecution presented four witnesses, namely: Dr.
TO A CAPITAL OFFENSE AND IN FAILING TO CONDUCT Cynthia Fesalbon, Oleby Nadera, Maricris Nadera, and
ACCUSED FULLY UNDERSTOOD THE CONSEQUENCE OF Dr. Cynthia S. Fesalbon, Medical Officer IV of the Oriental
HIS PLEA.[1] Mindoro Provincial Hospital, who conducted the medical
The facts are as follows: examination of both complainants, submitted a report on
Accused-appellant Elegio Nadera, Jr. has four children by the result of Oleby Nadera's examination as follows:[10]
his wife Daisy, namely: Oleby, born on October 2, 1982; PHYSICAL EXAMINATION:
Maricris, born on March 16, 1984; March Anthony, born - No sign of external physical injuries as of time of
on January 8, 1986; and Sherilyn, born on September examination.
27, 1987.[2] - Breast developed
On September 22, 1991, Daisy left for a job in Bahrain, - Abdomen: flat, soft non-tender.
and came home to the Philippines for vacation only in EXTERNAL GENITALIA
July 1993. She then left again for Bahrain in September - Minimal pubic hair
1993 and did not return until September 12, 1995.[3] - Healed incomplete hymenal lacerations at 5, 7, 12
On April 28, 1996, Oleby and Maricris, assisted by a o'clock positions.
neighbor, Lita Macalalad, told their mother that they had - No bleeding.
been raped by their father, herein accused-appellant. INTERNAL SPECULUM EXAMINATION
Thereupon, they went to the police authorities of Naujan - Vagina admits 2 fingers with ease.
and filed a complaint against accused-appellant.[4] - Cervix small, firm, close non-tender (-) bleeding.
After preliminary examination, on June 6, 1996, four - Uterus not enlarged.
informations charging accused-appellant with rape on - Adnexae negative
various dates were filed in the Regional Trial Court, LABORATORY EXAMINATION:
Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. - Smear for the presence of spermatozoa revealed
In Criminal Case No. C-4982, the information[5] alleged- positive result.
That on or about the 17th day of May, 1992, at around She testified that the hymenal lacerations may have
10:00 o'clock in the evening, at Barangay Bayani, been caused by the insertion of a hard object, the
Municipality of Naujan, Province of Oriental Mindoro, patient's history of genitalic insertions, a straddle injury,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable or sitting on hard wood. She could not determine when
Court, the above-named accused, motivated by lust and these lacerations were sustained because they had
lewd design, and by means of force and intimidation, healed over a period beyond seven days.[11]
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously did lie and succeeded Dr. Fesalbon likewise rendered a report[12] on the
in having carnal knowledge with his daughter, OLEBY medical examination of Maricris Nadera, the pertinent
NADERA, nine (9) years of age at that time against the parts of which state:
latter's will and consent. PHYSICAL EXAMINATION:
In Criminal Case No. C-4983, the information[6] charged - No sign of external physical injuries as of time of
- examination.
That on or about the 17th day of April, 1995 at Barangay - Abdomen, flat, soft.
Bayani, Municipality of Naujan, Province of Oriental EXTERNAL GENITALIA:
Mindoro, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this - Absence of pubic hair healed hymenal lacerations,
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, motivated incomplete at 1, 5, 8, 11 o'clock positions.
by lust and lewd design, and by means of force and INTERNAL EXAMINATION:
intimidation, wilfully, and unlawfully and feloniously did - Vagina admits 1 finger with ease.
lie and succeeded in having carnal knowledge with his - Cervix small (-) bleeding
daughter, OLEBY NADERA, twelve (12) years of age at - Uterus not enlarged.
that time against the latter's will and consent. -Adnexae (-).
In Criminal Case No. C-4984, the information[7] stated- LABORATORY EXAMINATION
That on or about the 24th day of April, 1995, sometime - Smear for the presence of spermatozoa revealed
in the evening, at Barangay Bayani, Municipality of Negative result.
Naujan, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines and In the case of Maricris Nadera, Dr. Fesalbon explained
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the that the hymenal lacerations could have been caused by
above-named accused, motivated by lust and lewd penetration such as through instrumentation or insertion
design, and by means of force and intimidation, wilfully, of an object inside the vagina. They could also have been
unlawfully and feloniously did lie and succeeded in caused by the penetration of the penis. Upon inquiry
having carnal knowledge with his daughter, OLEBY from the court, Dr. Fesalbon stated that the fact that
Maricris had more hymenal lacerations than Oleby could

be due to the difference in the impact of penetration. She acts. Thereafter, her children were subjected to a
added that the number of times each of the girls had medical examination.[17]
sexual intercourse could not be ascertained merely from On August 12, 1997, the prosecution formally offered its
the hymenal lacerations, although it could be concluded documentary evidence and rested its case thereafter.
that an object had been inserted in the vagina.[13] Accused-appellant did not present any evidence in his
Oleby Nadera testified about the rapes committed by her defense.
father against her as follows: On August 27, 1997, the trial court rendered judgment
On May 17, 1992, at around 10 o'clock in the evening, finding accused-appellant guilty of four counts of rape
while Daisy was away working as a domestic helper in against his daughters. The dispositive portion of its
Bahrain, accused- appellant pulled Oleby, then nine decision[18] reads:
years of age, towards a bed, removed her panties and ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds accused Elegio Nadera,
shorts and ordered her to keep quiet. He then placed Jr., guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as principal, of the
himself on top of her and inserted his penis into her crime of Rape [4 counts] with the qualifying
vagina. He proceeded to make an up and down motion circumstance that the victims are under 18 years of age
while on top of his daughter. All the while, Oleby was and the offender is a parent. He is hereby sentenced to
crying, pleading with her father, "Huwag po!", "Huwag suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua ranging
po!" Accused-appellant again ordered Oleby to keep from 20 years and 1 day to 40 years for the rape
quiet lest her brother and sisters were awakened. committed on May 17, 1992 and three DEATH
Afterwards, accused-appellant told Oleby to put on her PENALTIES for the rape committed on April 17 and 24,
panties and shorts and to go to sleep. Oleby went to the 1995 and March 3, 1996, together with the accessory
bed where her brother and sisters were sleeping and penalties provided by law. He is also ordered to
cried. indemnify victim Oleby Nadera the total amount of
On another occasion, on April 17, 1995, accused- P150,000.00 in Criminal Case Nos. C-4982, C-4983 and
appellant sent Sherilyn and Maricris to the sari-sari store C-4984 and Maricris Nadera, the amount of P50,000.00
while he asked March Anthony to gather firewood. While in Criminal Case No. C-4985, without subsidiary
Oleby was left alone inside their house in Barangay imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.
Bayani, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, accused-appellant S OO R D E R E D.
again raped her. Oleby was 12 years old at that time. As already stated, accused-appellant's lone assignment
Accused-appellant closed the door and windows, of error is that the trial court accepted his plea of guilty
removed Oleby's panties and shorts and sat down. While to a capital offense without making a searching inquiry
sitting down, accused-appellant placed Oleby's legs on to determine whether he understood the consequences
his thighs and inserted his penis into her vagina. Later of his plea. In support of his contention, accused-
on, he told Oleby to put on her panties and shorts and appellant invokes the ruling in the case of People v.
told her to fetch her brother and sisters. Dayot[19] in which this Court ruled that, in criminal cases,
Oleby was raped by her father for the third time on April the judge must be convinced that the accused, in
24, 1995. That evening, she woke up to find her father pleading guilty, is truly guilty. This could be done by
on top of her, taking off her shorts and panties and requiring him to narrate the events leading to the crime,
inserting his penis into her vagina. As her father was making him reenact it, or asking him to supply missing
taking off her clothes, Oleby cried and pleaded, "Huwag details. The judge must satisfy himself that: (1) the
po! Huwag po!" Instead of desisting, accused-appellant accused is voluntarily pleading guilty, and (2) he is truly
told her to keep quiet so as not to awaken her brother guilty and there is a rational basis for a finding of guilt
and sisters, and threatened her with harm if she made based on his testimony.
any noise. Accused-appellant then made a pumping We find merit in accused-appellant's allegations. In
motion, consummating the sexual act with his addition, we find that there was inadequate
daughter.[14] representation of his case in court, thus necessitating the
After Oleby's direct examination had been finished, Atty. remand of this case for further proceedings.
Brotonel, accused-appellant's counsel, did not conduct I.
any cross examination on the ground that he was Rule 116 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:
convinced Oleby was telling the truth.[15] SEC. 3. Plea of guilty to capital offense; reception of
On that same day, Maricris also testified. She related evidence.- When the accused pleads guilty to a capital
how she was raped by her father on March 3, 1996, the offense, the court shall conduct a searching inquiry into
year before, when she was 11 years old. At about eight the voluntariness and full comprehension of the
o'clock in the evening of said date, while her brother and consequences of his plea and require the prosecution to
sisters were sleeping, she was pulled by her father prove his guilt and the precise degree of culpability. The
towards his bed and told to lie down. Accused-appellant accused may also present evidence on his behalf.
then placed himself on top of Maricris and inserted his Under this Rule, three things are enjoined upon the trial
penis into her vagina. Maricris pleaded "Papa, huwag po, court when a plea of guilty to a capital offense is entered:
maawa naman kayo sa amin." Ignoring his daughter's (1) the court must conduct a searching inquiry into the
pleas, accused-appellant continued raping her by making voluntariness of the plea and the accused's full
a pumping motion and threatened to kill all of them if comprehension of the consequences thereof; (2) the
she cried. Accused-appellant afterwards asked Maricris court must require the prosecution to present evidence
to put on her shorts and panties and return to bed. He to prove the guilt of the accused and the precise degree
told Maricris not to cry so as not to awaken her siblings. of his culpability; and, (3) the court must ask the
She did not tell anyone what befell her because she was accused if he desires to present evidence on his behalf
afraid. A neighbor, named Lita Macalalad, asked her if and allow him to do so if he desires.[20]
Oleby had been raped by their father. It turned out Oleby What constitutes a searching inquiry, as explained
had told her ordeal to Lita Macalalad while they were in People v. Alicando,[21] is that the plea of guilt must be
washing clothes and talking about Oleby's parents. Oleby based on a free and informed judgment. Hence, a
also told Lita Macalalad that Maricris had been raped by searching inquiry must focus on: (1) the voluntariness of
their father as well, a fact related to Oleby by Maricris.[16] the plea, and (2) the full comprehension of the
Daisy Nadera, accused-appellant's wife, also testified for consequences of the plea.
the prosecution. Her testimony focused on the dates of In the case at bar, the record does not show what exactly
births of her children and the fact that she was out of the transpired at the re-arraignment of accused-appellant,
country when the alleged rapes occurred. She testified for what reason he changed his plea from "not guilty" to
that she and her daughters filed a complaint for rape "guilty," and whether he fully understood the
against accused-appellant after discovering his hideous consequences of his guilty plea. The only indication in

the record that accused-appellant changed his plea to understood and comprehended the meaning, full
guilty is the Certificates of Re- Arraignment, dated significance and consequences of his plea.[28]
August 5, 1997, in Criminal Case Nos. C-4982 to C- Clearly, the plea of guilty of accused-appellant in this
4985.[22] On what exactly accused-appellant said in case was made improvidently.
entering his plea of guilty and what exactly he had been II.
told by the trial judge, the records shed no light. There Convictions based on an improvident plea of guilt are set
is thus no evidence to show that accused-appellant's aside only if such plea is the sole basis of the judgment.
guilty plea was voluntarily made or that he had fully If the trial court relied on sufficient and credible evidence
understood the consequences of such plea. to convict the accused, the conviction must be sustained,
In its decision, the trial court described the manner in because then it is predicated not merely on the guilty
which the accused pleaded guilty, thus: plea of the accused but on evidence proving his
Upon arraignment, accused, assisted by Atty. Manolo A. commission of the offense charged.[29]
Brotonel of the Public Attorney's Office, pleaded not As already stated, the prosecution evidence consisted of
guilty to the crime charged. However, on August 5, the testimonies of Oleby and Maricris Nadera, the results
1997, when these cases were called for pre-trial and of their medical examinations, and the testimonies of
trial, counsel for the accused manifested that the their mother, Daisy, and the physician who conducted
accused, realizing the futility of entering into trial and the medical examination of the two girls, Dr. Cynthia
considering that he actually committed the acts Fesalbon. Certain circumstances present in this case,
complained of, intimated his intention to enter a plea of however, persuade us that a remand of this case is
guilty to the above- mentioned charges. The accused necessary.
was then asked by this Court if he was aware of the First. A perusal of the decision of the court reveals that
consequences of a plea of guilty to a capital offense: that the trial judge failed to state the factual and legal
for the rape he committed on May 17, 1992 against his reasons on which he based accused-appellant's
daughter, Oleby Nadera, who was 9 years old at the conviction. Except for the narration of the prosecution's
time, he would be sentenced to reclusion perpetua and evidence and a bare recital of R.A. No.7659, amending
for the three other counts of rape committed on April 17 Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, there is nothing else
and 24, 1995 [both against Oleby Nadera] and on March to indicate the reason for the decision. There is no
3, 1996 [against Maricris Nadera, 11 years old at the evaluation of the evidence and no reason given why the
time], he would be sentenced to death by lethal court found the testimonies of the witnesses credible.
injection. After having been informed of this, he insisted Rule 120 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure
that he is willing to enter a plea of guilty to the crimes provides:
charged and is ready to face the consequences Sec. 2. Form and contents of judgment.- The judgment
thereof.[23] must be written in the official language, personally and
The warnings given by the trial court in this case fall directly prepared by the judge and signed by him and
short of the requirement that it must make a searching shall contain clearly and distinctly a statement of the
inquiry to determine whether accused-appellant facts proved or admitted by the accused and the law
understood fully the import of his guilty plea. As has upon which the judgment is based.
been said, a mere warning that the accused faces the If it is of conviction, the judgment shall state (a) the legal
supreme penalty of death is insufficient.[24] For more qualification of the offense constituted by the acts
often than not, an accused pleads guilty upon bad advice committed by the accused, and the aggravating or
or because he hopes for a lenient treatment or a lighter mitigating circumstances attending the commission
penalty. The trial judge must erase such mistaken thereof, if there be any; (b) participation of the accused
impressions.[25] He must be completely convinced that in the commission of the offense, whether as principal,
the guilty plea made by the accused was not made under accomplice, or accessory after the fact; (c) the penalty
duress or promise of reward. The judge must ask the imposed upon the accused; and (d) the civil liability or
accused the manner the latter was arrested or detained, damages caused by the wrongful act to be recovered
and whether he was assisted by counsel during the from the accused by the offended party, if there be any,
custodial and preliminary investigations. In addition, the unless the enforcement of the civil liability by a separate
defense counsel should also be asked whether he action has been reserved or waived.
conferred with the accused and completely explained to In case of acquittal, unless there is a clear showing that
him the meaning and the consequences of a plea of guilt. the act from which the civil liability might arise did not
Furthermore, since the age, educational attainment and exist, the judgment shall make a finding on the civil
socio-economic status of the accused may reveal liability of the accused in favor of the offended party.
insights for a proper verdict in the case, the trial court In People v. Bugarin,[30] we stated:
must ask questions concerning them.[26] In this case, The requirement that the decisions of courts must be in
absent any showing that these questions were put to writing and that they must set forth clearly and distinctly
accused-appellant, a searching inquiry cannot be said to the facts and the law on which they are based serves
have been undertaken by the trial court. many functions. It is intended, among other things, to
What the trial court did in this case, as described in its inform the parties of the reason or reasons for the
decision, is similar to what happened in People v. decision so that if any of them appeals, he can point out
Sevilleno.[27] In that case, the accused was charged with to the appellate court the finding of facts or the rulings
the rape and homicide of a nine-year old girl. The on points of law with which he disagrees. More than that,
accused pleaded guilty whereupon the judge asked him the requirement is an assurance to the parties that, in
questions: (1) Do you understand your plea of guilt? and reaching judgment, the judge did so through the
(2) Do you know that your plea of guilt could bring the processes of legal reasoning. It is, thus, a safeguard
death penalty? This Court held that these questions did against the impetuosity of the judge, preventing him
not constitute a searching inquiry. from deciding by ipse dixit. Vouchsafed neither the
. . . In every case where the accused enters a plea of sword nor the purse by the Constitution but nonetheless
guilty to a capital offense, especially where he is an vested with the sovereign prerogative of passing
ignorant person with little or no education, the proper judgment on the life, liberty or property of his fellowmen,
and prudent course to follow is to take such evidence as the judge must ultimately depend on the power of reason
are available and necessary in support of the material for sustained public confidence in the justness of his
allegations of the information, including the aggravating decision. The decision of the trial court in this case
circumstances therein enumerated, not only to satisfy disrespects the judicial function.
the trial judge himself but also to aid the Supreme Court Second. The cavalier attitude of accused-appellant's
in determining whether the accused really and truly counsel, Atty. Manolo A. Brotonel of the Public Attorney's

Office, cannot go unnoticed. It is discernible in (a) his which create reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the
refusal to cross examine Oleby Nadera; (b) the manner accused and thus to give substance to the constitutional
in which he conducted Maricris Nadera's cross right of the accused to confront the witnesses against
examination; and, (c) his failure not only to present him. For unless proven otherwise to be guilty beyond all
evidence for the accused but also to inform the accused reasonable doubt, the accused is presumed to be
of his right to do so, if he desires. innocent.[34]
Only faithful performance by counsel of his duty towards Indeed, cross examining Oleby Nadera becomes
his client can give meaning and substance to the indispensable if her testimony is viewed together with
accused's right to due process and to be presumed the results of her medical examination. Oleby Nadera
innocent until proven otherwise. Hence, a lawyer's duty, claimed that she was last raped by her father on April
especially that of a defense counsel, must not be taken 24, 1995.[35] Yet, the medical examination conducted on
lightly. It must be performed with all the zeal and vigor her on April 30, 1996[36] revealed the presence of
at his command to protect and safeguard the accused's spermatozoa in the vaginal canal on that date. This was
fundamental rights. a year after the last rape allegedly committed by her
In the case of People vs. Bermas,[31] no less than three father. This evident discrepancy leads to only one natural
PAO lawyers were found by the Court to have failed in conclusion: Oleby engaged in sexual intercourse a few
performing their duties to their client, an accused days before she was examined. This raises a number of
charged with raping his daughter. The first lawyer questions that bear upon the credibility of Oleby as a
inexplicably waived the cross examination of the private witness and upon the guilt of accused- appellant. This
complainant and later asked to be relieved of her duties may not necessarily mean that she was lying when she
as counsel de oficio. A second lawyer appointed by the said that on April 24, 1995 she had been raped by
court missed several hearings during the trial and could accused-appellant, but it does indicate a necessity-that
no longer be located. The third PAO lawyer appointed by of cross examining her in order to ferret out the truth.
the trial court accepted his duties reluctantly and later The same may be said of defense counsel's treatment of
ceased to appear for the accused. This Court held that: Maricris' testimony. While she was cross examined by
The right to counsel must be more than just the presence defense counsel, the examination was at best a half-
of a lawyer in the courtroom or the mere propounding of hearted attempt to comply with a lawyer's obligation,
standard questions and objections. The right to counsel lacking the rigor and zeal required considering that a
means that the accused is amply accorded legal man's life is at stake. The cross examination centered on
assistance extended by a counsel who commits himself what Maricris did or did not do while she witnessed her
to the cause for the defense and acts accordingly. The sister being raped, and on her failure to report the
right assumes an active involvement by the lawyer in the allegedly incestuous rapes against them. Said cross
proceedings, particularly at the trial of the case, his examination did not even touch upon the specific details
bearing constantly in mind of the basic rights of the concerning the rape committed against her. Containing
accused, his being well-versed on the case and his lurid details as it may be, it was nonetheless important
knowing the fundamental procedures, essential laws and to probe Maricris' testimony, especially since it was
existing jurisprudence. The right of an accused to substantially similar to the first incident of rape narrated
counsel finds substance in the performance by the by her sister, and thus raised the possibility that it was
lawyer of his sworn duty of fidelity to his client. Tersely a rehearsed, if not concocted, story.
put, it means an efficient and truly decisive legal Lastly, not only did defense counsel fail to object to the
assistance and not a simple perfunctory representation. documentary evidence presented by the prosecution,
Measured by this standard, the defense counsels conduct according to the trial court's decision, he even expressed
in this case falls short of the quality of advocacy his conformity to the admission of the same. Neither did
demanded of him, considering the gravity of the offense he present any evidence on behalf of accused-
charged and the finality of the penalty. A glaring example appellant.[37] Worse, nowhere in the records is it shown
of his manifest lack of enthusiasm for his client's cause that accused-appellant was informed, either by his
is his decision not to cross examine Oleby Nadera, as counsel or by the court, of his right to present evidence,
revealed in the following portion of the records: if he so desires.
COURT: Atty. Brotonel, as counsel de oficio, had the duty to
.......Any cross? defend his client and protect his rights, no matter how
ATTY. BROTONEL: guilty or evil he perceives accused-appellant to be. The
.......If Your Honor please, we are not conducting any performance of this duty was all the more imperative
cross-examination, because this representation, from because the life of accused-appellant hangs in the
the demeanor of the witness, I am convinced that she is balance. His duty was no less because he was counsel de
telling the truth.[32] oficio.
It may be so that defense counsel personally found In view of the foregoing, we find it necessary to remand
Oleby's testimony to be believable. Nonetheless, he had the case for the proper arraignment and trial of the
the bounden duty to scrutinize private complainant's accused, considering not only the accused's improvident
testimony to ensure that the accused's constitutional plea of guilt but also his lawyer's neglect in representing
right to confront and examine the witnesses against him his cause. A new trial has been ordered in criminal cases
was not rendered for naught. on the ground of retraction of witnesses, negligence or
It bears pointing out that in rape cases, it is often the incompetency of counsel, improvident plea of guilty,
word of the complainant against that of the accused, the disqualification of an attorney de oficio to represent the
two being the only persons present during the accused in the trial court, and where a judgment was
commission of the offense. While the lone testimony of rendered on a stipulation of facts entered into by both
the victim is sufficient to convict the accused, such the prosecution and the defense.[38]
testimony must be clear, positive, convincing and WHEREFORE, the decision, dated April 27, 1997, of the
consistent with human nature and the normal course of Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, Calapan, Oriental
things. Complainant's testimony cannot be accepted with Mindoro, is hereby SET ASIDE and Criminal Case Nos. C-
precipitate credulity without denying the accused's 4982, C-4983, C-4984 and C-4985 are REMANDED to it
constitutional right to be presumed innocent.[33] This is for further proceedings in accordance with this decision.
where cross examination becomes essential to test the The trial court is enjoined to conduct the proper trial of
credibility of the witnesses, expose falsehoods or half- accused-appellant with all deliberate speed upon receipt
truths, uncover the truth which rehearsed direct of the records of the cases.
examination testimonies may successfully suppress, and SO ORDERED.2/28/00 9:29 AM
demonstrate inconsistencies in substantial matters

A.C. No. 6711, July 3, 2007 5. I specifically deny the allegation of F/SUPT. MA. LUISA
that ever existed ever since and that never obtained any
Under consideration is Resolution No. XVI-2004-472 of legal advice from me regarding her PERSONAL
the Board of Governors, Integrated Bar of the Philippines PROBLEMS or PERSONAL SECRETS. She likewise never
(IBP), relative to the complaint for disbarment filed by delivered to me legal documents much more told me
herein complainant Ma. Luisa Hadjula against some confidential information or secrets. That is because
respondent Atty. Roceles F. Madianda. I never entertain LEGAL QUERIES or CONSULTATION
regarding PERSONAL MATTERS since I know as a
The case started when, in an AFFIDAVIT- LAWYER of the Bureau of Fire Protection that I am not
COMPLAINT[1] bearing date September 7, 2002 and filed allowed to privately practice law and it might also result
with the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant to CONFLICT OF INTEREST. As a matter of fact,
charged Atty. Roceles F. Madianda with violation of whenever there will be PERSONAL MATTERS referred to
Article 209[2] of the Revised Penal Code and Canon Nos. me, I just referred them to private law practitioners and
15.02 and 21.02 of the Code of Professional never entertain the same, NOR listen to their stories or
Responsibility. examine or accept any document.

In said affidavit-complaint, complainant alleged that she 9. I specifically deny the allegation of F/SUPT. MA. LUISA
and respondent used to be friends as they both worked C. HADJULA in paragraph 8 of her AFFIDAVIT-
at the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) whereat COMPLAINT, the truth of the matter is that her ILLICIT
respondent was the Chief Legal Officer while she was the RELATIONSHIP and her illegal and unlawful activities are
Chief Nurse of the Medical, Dental and Nursing Services. known in the Bureau of Fire Protection since she also
Complainant claimed that, sometime in 1998, she filed CHILD SUPPORT case against her lover where she
approached respondent for some legal advice. has a child .
Complainant further alleged that, in the course of their
conversation which was supposed to be kept Moreover, the alleged DOCUMENTS she purportedly
confidential, she disclosed personal secrets and have shown to me sometime in 1998, are all part of
produced copies of a marriage contract, a birth public records .
certificate and a baptismal certificate, only to be
informed later by the respondent that she (respondent) Furthermore, F/SUPT. MA. LUISA C. HADJULA, is filing
would refer the matter to a lawyer friend. It was the instant case just to get even with me or to force me
malicious, so complainant states, of respondent to have to settle and withdraw the CASES I FILED AGAINST HER
refused handling her case only after she had already since she knows that she will certainly be DISMISSED
Continuing, complainant averred that her friendship with ILLEGAL and UNLAWFUL ACTS.
respondent soured after her filing, in the later part of
2000, of criminal and disciplinary actions against the On October 7, 2004, the Investigating Commissioner of
latter. What, per complainants account, precipitated the the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline came out with
filing was when respondent, then a member of the BFP a Report and Recommendation, stating that the
promotion board, demanded a cellular phone in information related by complainant to the respondent is
exchange for the complainants promotion. protected under the attorney-client privilege
communication. Prescinding from this postulate, the
According to complainant, respondent, in retaliation to Investigating Commissioner found the respondent to
the filing of the aforesaid actions, filed a COUNTER have violated legal ethics when she [revealed]
COMPLAINT[3] with the Ombudsman charging her information given to her during a legal consultation, and
(complainant) with violation of Section 3(a) of Republic accordingly recommended that respondent be
Act No. 3019,[4] falsification of public documents and reprimanded therefor, thus:
immorality, the last two charges being based on the
disclosures complainant earlier made to respondent. And WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully
also on the basis of the same disclosures, complainant recommended that respondent Atty. Roceles Madianda
further stated, a disciplinary case was also instituted be reprimanded for revealing the secrets of the
against her before the Professional Regulation complainant.
On November 4, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors
Complainant seeks the suspension and/or disbarment of issued Resolution No. XVI-2004-472 reading as follows:
respondent for the latters act of disclosing personal RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
secrets and confidential information she revealed in the ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
course of seeking respondents legal advice. Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of
the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
In an order dated October 2, 2002, the IBP Commission Resolution as Annex A; and , finding the
on Bar Discipline required respondent to file her answer recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
to the complaint. record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering
the actuation of revealing information given to
In her answer, styled as COUNTER- respondent during a legal consultation, Atty. Roceles
AFFIDAVIT,[5] respondent denied giving legal advice to Madianda is hereby REPRIMANDED.
the complainant and dismissed any suggestion about the
existence of a lawyer-client relationship between them. We AGREE with the recommendation and the premises
Respondent also stated the observation that the holding it together.
supposed confidential data and sensitive documents
adverted to are in fact matters of common knowledge in As it were, complainant went to respondent, a lawyer
the BFP. The relevant portions of the answer read: who incidentally was also then a friend, to bare what she
considered personal secrets and sensitive documents for
the purpose of obtaining legal advice and assistance. The

moment complainant approached the then receptive respondent was actuated by the urge to retaliate without
respondent to seek legal advice, a veritable lawyer-client perhaps realizing that, in the process of giving vent to a
relationship evolved between the two. Such relationship negative sentiment, she was violating the rule on
imposes upon the lawyer certain restrictions confidentiality.
circumscribed by the ethics of the profession. Among the
burdens of the relationship is that which enjoins the IN VIEW WHEREOF, respondent Atty. Roceles F.
lawyer, respondent in this instance, to keep inviolate Madianda is hereby REPRIMANDED and admonished to
confidential information acquired or revealed be circumspect in her handling of information acquired
during legal consultations. The fact that one is, at the as a result of a lawyer-client relationship. She is
end of the day, not inclined to handle the clients case is also STERNLY WARNED against a repetition of the
hardly of consequence. Of little moment, too, is the fact same or similar act complained of.
that no formal professional engagement follows the
consultation.Nor will it make any difference that no SO ORDERED.
contract whatsoever was executed by the parties to
memorialize the relationship. As we said in Burbe v.
Magulta,[6] -

A lawyer-client relationship was established from the

very first moment complainant asked respondent for
legal advise regarding the formers business. To
constitute professional employment, it is not essential
that the client employed the attorney professionally on
any previous occasion.

It is not necessary that any retainer be paid, promised,

or charged; neither is it material that the attorney
consulted did not afterward handle the case for which his
service had been sought.

It a person, in respect to business affairs or troubles of

any kind, consults a lawyer with a view to obtaining
professional advice or assistance, and the attorney
voluntarily permits or acquiesces with the consultation,
then the professional employments is established.

Likewise, a lawyer-client relationship exists

notwithstanding the close personal relationship between
the lawyer and the complainant or the non-payment of
the formers fees.

Dean Wigmore lists the essential factors to establish the

existence of the attorney-client privilege
communication, viz:

(1) Where legal advice of any kind is sought (2) from a

professional legal adviser in his capacity as such, (3) the
communications relating to that purpose, (4) made in
confidence (5) by the client, (6) are at his instance
permanently protected (7) from disclosure by himself or
by the legal advisor, (8) except the protection be

With the view we take of this case, respondent indeed

breached his duty of preserving the confidence of a
client. As found by the IBP Investigating Commissioner,
the documents shown and the information revealed in
confidence to the respondent in the course of the legal
consultation in question, were used as bases in
the criminal and administrative complaints lodged
against the complainant.

The purpose of the rule of confidentiality is actually to

protect the client from possible breach of confidence as
a result of a consultation with a lawyer.
The seriousness of the respondents offense
notwithstanding, the Court feels that there is room for
compassion, absent compelling evidence that the
respondent acted with ill-will.Without meaning to
condone the error of respondents ways, what at bottom
is before the Court is two former friends becoming bitter
enemies and filing charges and counter-charges against
each other using whatever convenient tools and data
were readily available. Unfortunately, the personal
information respondent gathered from her conversation
with complainant became handy in her quest to even the
score. At the end of the day, it appears clear to us that

[ A.C. No. 9390, August 01, 2012 ] RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
EMILIA O. DHALIWAL, COMPLAINANT, ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report
VS. and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner
ATTY. ABELARDO B. DUMAGUING, RESPONDENT. of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
RESOLUTION Resolution as Annex “A”; and, finding the
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering
Emilia O. Dhaliwal filed a complaint for violation of Canon Respondent's violation of Canon 16 of the Code of
16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility against Professional Responsibility by his failure to return and
Atty. Abelardo B. Dumaguing. account to complainant the amount previously consigned
In her sworn statement, complainant alleged that she with the HLURB despite demand, Atty. Abelardo B.
engaged the services or respondent in connection with Dumaguing is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of
the purchase of a parcel of land from Fil-Estate law for six (6) months and Ordered to Return the amount
Development Inc. (Fil-Estate). On June 13, 2000, upon of P311,819.94 to complainant within thirty (30) days
the instruction of respondent, complainant's daughter from receipt of notice.
and son-in-law withdrew P342,000.00 from the Respondent's motion for reconsideration was denied by
Philippine National Bank (PNB) and handed the cash over the IBP Board of Governors in Resolution No. XX-2012-
to respondent. They then proceeded to BPI Family Bank 42.
Malcolm Square Branch where respondent purchased The Court adopts the IBP's findings of fact and
two manager's checks in the amounts of P58,631.94 and conclusions of law.
P253,188.00 both payable to the order of Fil- Estate Inc. The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
When asked why the manager's checks were not Canon 16-A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and
purchased at PNB, respondent explained that he has properties of his client that may come into his
friends at the BPI Family Bank and that is where he possession.
maintains an account. These manager's checks were
subsequently consigned with the Housing and Land Use Rule 16.01-A lawyer shall account for all money or
Regulatory Board (HLURB) after complainant’s request property collected or received for or from the client.
to suspend payments to Fil-Estate had been granted. On
September 22, 2000, respondent, on behalf of Rule 16.02-A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client
complainant, filed with the HLURB a complaint for separate and apart from his own and those of others kept
delivery of title and damages against Fil-Estate. A week by him.
after or on September 29, 2000, he withdrew the two
manager's checks that were previously consigned. On Rule 16.03-A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property
March 3, 2003, complainant informed the HLURB of his client when due or upon demand.
through a letter that respondent was no longer Money entrusted to a lawyer for a specific purpose, such
representing her. On March 11, 2003, the HLURB as payment for the balance of the purchase price of a
promulgated its Decision, adverse to complainant, parcel of land as in the present case, but not used for
finding the case for delivery of title and damages the purpose, should be immediately returned. “A
premature as there was no evidence of full payment of lawyer's failure to return upon demand the funds held by
the purchase price. Thereafter, complainant made him on behalf of his client gives rise to the presumption
demands upon respondent to return and account to her that he has appropriated the same for his own use in
the amounts previously consigned with the HLURB. violation of the trust reposed in him by his client.
Respondent did not comply. Thus, complainant prays Such act is a gross violation of general morality as well
that respondent be disbarred. as of professional ethics. It impairs public confidence in
In his answer, respondent admitted substantially all of the legal profession and deserves punishment.”
the allegations in the complaint. In defense, he claims Since respondent withdrew the consignation of the BPI
that the amount of P311,819.94 was consigned to the manager’s checks in the total amount of P311,891.94
HLURB to cover the full payment of the balance of the from the HLURB and the same was not used to settle the
purchase price of the lot with Fil-Estate. Fil-Estate, balance of the purchase price of the parcel of land
however, did not accept the same as it wanted purchased by complainant from Fil-Estate, then
complainant to also pay interests and surcharges reimbursement with legal interest was properly ordered
totalling more than P800,000.00. Because the amount by the IBP.
was formally consigned with the HLURB, he allegedly Respondent's proffered excuse of having to await the
filed a motion to verify if the judgment in the case was HLURB action on his alleged motion--the filing of which
already satisfied. He claimed that his motion has not yet he miserably failed to prove--as a condition to the return
been acted upon; hence, he did not deem it proper as of the sum of P311,891.94 to complainant compounds
yet to return the consigned amount. his liability and even bolstered his attitude to use
Following the submission by complainant of her verified dishonest means i r only to evade his obligation. It
position paper and the failure of respondent to submit underlines his failure to meet the high moral standards
his, despite having been given ample opportunity to do required of members of the legal profession.
so, the Commission on Bar Discipline, through Attorney
Gerely C. Rico, submitted its Report and WHEREFORE, Atty. Abelmdo B. Dumaguing is adjudged
Recommendation finding complainant to have GUILTY of violating Canon 16 of the Code of Professional
sufficiently established that respondent violated Canon Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED from the
16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It practice of law for a period of six (6) months effective
also found respondent to have submitted a false and upon receipt of this Resolution. He is also ordered to
fabricated piece of documentary evidence, as the return to complainant Emilia O. Dhaliwal, the amount of
January 2004 Motion attached to his answer as Annex A P311,819.94 with legal interest of six percent (6%) per
did not bear any proof of service upon the opposing party annum from the time of his receipt of the money on
and proof of filing with the HLURB. The Commission September 29, 2000 up to the finality of this Resolution
recommended that respondent be suspended from the and twelve percent ( 12%) per annum from finality
practice of law for a period of one (1) year. On thereof until paid.
September 19, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors passed Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of
Resolution No. XVIII-2007-93, adopting with the Bar Confidant to be entered into respondent's
modification the Commission's Report and personal record as attorney. Copies shall likewise be
Recommendation, to wit:

furnished the IBP and the Office of the Court [A.C. No. 1558. March 10, 2003]
Administrator for circulation to all courts concerned. HONORIO MANALANG and FLORENCIO
ANGELES,[1] respondent.
In this administrative complaint[2] filed on November 11,
1975, against Atty. Francisco F. Angeles for grave
misconduct as a lawyer, respondent stands charged with
infidelity in the discharge of fiduciary obligations to his
clients, herein complainants Honorio Manalang and
Florencio Cirillo.
Manalang and Cirillo alleged that they were the
complainants in a case for overtime and separation pay
filed against their employer, the Philippine Racing Club
Restaurant, before the National Labor Relations
Commission Region IV Office, docketed as NLRC-RO 4
No. 4-2417-74. Respondent was their counsel. Judgment
was rendered in their favor, in the amount of P6,500.
After the decision became final, a writ of execution
issued. However, without authority from his clients,
respondent compromised the award and was able to
collect P5,500 only.
Complainants said they made several demands upon
respondent to turn over to them the amount collected
minus the agreed upon attorneys fees of thirty percent
(30%), but Atty. Angeles refused and offered to give
them only the sum of P2,650.
Complainants then instituted the instant case, with the
assistance of the then Citizens Legal Assistance Office
(CLAO)[3] of the Department of Justice.
In his answer, filed on December 15, 1975, respondent
stated that he offered to give complainants their money,
but they insisted that he deduct from this attorneys fees
the amount of P2,000, representing the amount
discounted by the counsel of the Philippine Racing Club
Restaurant, together with sheriff legal fees and other
administrative expenses.[4] Respondent claimed that to
accept complainants proposition meant that he would
not be compensated for prosecuting and handling the
In our resolution[6] of January 9, 1976, we referred the
case to the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) for
investigation, report, and recommendation.
The OSG conducted several hearings from March-August
1976.[7] The complainants testimonies were received.
Respondent appeared only at three (3) hearings, those
of June 21, 1976,[8] July 1, 1976[9] and August 6,
1976.[10] On August 24, 1976, the Solicitor General
ordered respondents testimony stricken from the record
and the case deemed submitted for resolution[11] for his
failure to appear despite due notice.
Thereafter, the case was transferred to the Committee
on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP). Hearings were scheduled on September 20 and
November 21, 1991, but neither party appeared despite
prior due notice. The IBP then subpoenaed respondent
for him to appear at the hearings on February 12-13,
1992, but the notices were returned unserved with the
indication that respondent had changed address. On July
8, 1992, the IBP issued an order stating that respondent
had been given ample opportunities to present his
evidence and considered the case submitted for
resolution on the basis of the existing evidence.
On January 23, 1997, the IBP Committee on Bar
Discipline issued a resolution recommending that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for
two (2) years.[12] This was adopted and approved by the
IBP Board of Governors in its resolution of July 26,
On September 23, 1997, respondent moved for
reconsideration of the resolution of the IBP Board of
Governors, dated July 26, 1997.
On October 8, 1997, we resolved to refer this matter to
the Office of the Bar Confidant for recommendation
within twenty (20) days from notice.[14] On June 19,

2002, the Bar Confidant recommended that the IBP fraternity should refrain from any act or omission which
Resolution, recommending suspension of the respondent might lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the
from the practice of law for two (2) years be affirmed.[15] public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the legal
The sole issue in this case is whether respondent Atty. profession.[24]
Francisco F. Angeles should be suspended from the We note that in 1976 at the hearings before the OSG,
practice of law because of grave misconduct related to complainant Manalang declared he was already 58 years
his clients funds. old,[25] while complainant Cirillo stated that he was 64
Where a member of the bar stands charged with years of age.[26] A quarter of century has since passed. It
malpractice, the proceedings are not meant solely to rule is true that a disciplinary action involves no private
on his culpability but also to determine if the lawyer interest and affords no redress for private grievance,
concerned is possessed of that good moral character, since it is undertaken solely for the public welfare, and
which is a condition precedent to the privilege of the attorney-at-law is called to task mainly to answer to
practicing law and continuing in the practice this Court for his conduct as an officer of the
thereof.[16] For the bar must not only maintain a high court.[27] Nevertheless, we must stress that disciplinary
standard of legal proficiency, it must likewise be exacting action against a member of the bar involves the public
in its standards for honesty, integrity, and fair dealing. interest, and it should be resolved with
In the instant case, there is no dispute that complainants dispatch.[28] Moreover, we note that respondents clients
were awarded P6,500.00 in NLRC-RO 4 No. 4-2417-74 in the instant case were poor working men. They were
for unpaid overtime and separation pay. Of this amount, made to wait long for their money, by their very own
thirty percent (30%) or P1,950 was agreed to be paid to counsel, contrary to the Attorneys Oath and the Code of
respondent as his attorneys fees. In other words, Professional Responsibility. This is contrary to all ethical
complainants were to receive from respondent the net principles that members of the bar are supposed to
sum of P4,550 or P2,275 each. Alleging difficulties in uphold. Thus, we find no hesitance in imposing on
collecting the full amount awarded, respondent respondent the penalty of suspension. However, this is
compromised the award on execution and collected the first case on record against him, a fact which could
only P5,500 from the losing party in NLRC-RO 4 No. 4- be taken into account by way of mitigation. Considering
2417-74. This compromise was allegedly without further the amount involved, the penalty of six (6)
authority from his clients. The authority to compromise months suspension appears to us in order.
cannot be lightly presumed and must be supported by ACCORDINGLY, the Court hereby SUSPENDS Atty.
evidence.[17] In the instant case, respondent failed to Francisco F. Angeles from the practice of law for a period
show such authority. of six (6) months, effective immediately upon his receipt
Money claims due to workers cannot, as a rule, be the of this Resolution. He is also ordered to pay the sum of
object of settlement or compromise effected by counsel two thousand two hundred seventy five pesos
without the consent of the workers concerned.[18] A (P2,275.00) each to complainants Honorio Manalang and
client has every right to expect from his counsel that Florencio Cirillo, with interest of six percent (6%) per
nothing will be taken or withheld from him, save by the annum from the time of filing this complaint until fully
rules of law validly applied. By compromising the paid.
judgment without the consent of his clients, respondent Let a copy of this resolution be served personally on
not only went against the stream of judicial dicta, he also respondent at his last known address and entered in his
exhibited an uncaring lack of devotion to the interest of record as attorney. Let the IBP, the Bar Confidant, and
his clients as well as want of zeal in the maintenance and the Court Administrator be furnished also a copy of this
defense of their rights. In so doing, he violated Canon 17 resolution for their information and guidance as well as
of the Code of Professional Responsibility.[19] for circularization to all courts in the country.
Worse, as found by the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline, SO ORDERED.
respondent only offered to remit to complainants the
amount of P2,650 or P1,325 each, an amount
substantially less than the P2,275 that each complainant
was entitled to receive under the judgment. On this
score, respondent failed to establish any credible
defense. Moreover, he consistently failed to appear at
the hearings scheduled by the CBD. Hence, his excuse
for failing to give the money due his clients merit scant
A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of
his client that may come into his possession.[20] In the
instant case, the records clearly and abundantly point to
respondents receipt of and failure to deliver upon
demand, the amount of P4,550 intended for his clients.
This is a clear breach of Rule 16.03,[21] Canon 16 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility. Moreover, his excuse
in his answer, that he should be allowed to deduct
sheriffs fees and other administrative expenses before
delivering the money due his clients, is
unsatisfactory.Respondent clearly failed to comply with
the Rules of Court in the enforcement of an attorneys
liens.[22] The records of this case are barren of any
statement of respondents claims for lien or payment of
his alleged disbursements. Nor did respondent present
any showing that he caused written notices of his lien on
the money judgment to be served upon his clients and
to the losing party in NLRC-RO 4 No. 4-2417-74.
His act of holding on to his clients money without their
acquiescence is conduct indicative of lack of integrity and
propriety. He was clinging to something which was not
his, and to which he had no right.[23] He appears
oblivious of the admonition that a member of the legal

A.C. No. 8158, February 24, 2010 considering that the allegations corroborate the
ATTY. ELMER C. SOLIDON VS ATTY. RAMIL E. undisputed facts of the instant case...
BRION, J.: As respondent has failed to duly present any reasonable
excuse for the non-filing of the application despite the
In a verified complaint[1] before the Commission on Bar lapse of about a year from the time his services were
Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP engaged, it is plain that his negligence in filing the
Commission on Bar Discipline), Atty. Elmer C. Solidon application remains uncontroverted. And such
(Atty. Solidon) sought the disbarment of Atty. Ramil E. negligence is contrary to the mandate prescribed in Rule
Macalalad (Atty. Macalalad) for violations of Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
16.01,[2] Rule 18.03,[3] and Rule 18.04[4] of the Code of Responsibility, which enjoins a lawyer not to neglect a
Professional Responsibility involving negligence in legal matter entrusted to him. In fact, Rule 18.03 even
handling a case. provides that his negligence in connection therewith shall
The Facts render him liable.

Atty. Macalalad is the Chief of the Legal Division of the Acting on this recommendation, the Board of Governors
Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline passed
(DENR), Regional Office 8, Tacloban City. Although he is Resolution No. XVIII-2008-336 dated July 17, 2008,
in public service, the DENR Secretary has given him the holding that:
authority to engage in the practice of law.
RESOLVED TO ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
While on official visit to Eastern Samar in October unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with
2005, Atty. Macalalad was introduced to Atty. Solidon by modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
a mutual acquaintance, Flordeliz Cabo-Borata (Ms. Cabo- Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case,
Borata). Atty. Solidon asked Atty. Macalalad to handle herein made part of this Resolution and, finding the
the judicial titling of a parcel of land located in recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
Borongan, Eastern Samar and owned by Atty. Solidons record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering
relatives. For a consideration of Eighty Thousand Pesos Respondents violation of Rule 18.03 of the Code of
(P80,000.00), Atty. Macalalad accepted the task to be Professional Responsibility, Atty. Ramil E. Macalalad is
completed within a period of eight (8) months. Atty. hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three
Macalalad received Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) (3) months and Ordered to Return the amount of Fifty
as initial payment; the remaining balance of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P50,000) with 12% interest per annum
Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) was to be paid when Atty. to complainant
Solidon received the certificate of title to the property.
Atty. Macalalad has not filed any petition for registration The case is now before this Court for our final action
over the property sought to be titled up to the present pursuant to Section 12(b), Rule 139-B of the Rules of
time. Court, considering that the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline imposed the penalty of suspension on Atty.
In the Complaint, Position Papers[5] and documentary Macalalad.
evidence submitted, Atty. Solidon claimed that he tried
to contact Atty. Macalalad to follow-up on the status of The Courts Ruling
the case six (6) months after he paid the initial legal We agree with the IBPs factual findings and legal
fees. He did this through phone calls and text messages conclusions.
to their known acquaintances and relatives, and, finally,
through a letter sent by courier to Atty. In administrative cases against lawyers, the quantum of
Macalalad. However, he did not receive any proof required is preponderance of evidence which the
communication from Atty. Macalalad. complainant has the burden to discharge.[8] We fully
considered the evidence presented and we are fully
In the Answer,[6] Position Paper,[7] and affidavits of satisfied that the complainants evidence, as outlined
witnesses, Atty. Macalalad posited that the delay in the above, fully satisfies the required quantum of proof in
filing of the petition for the titling of the property was proving Atty. Macalalads negligence.
caused by his clients failure to communicate with
him. He also explained that he had no intention of Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
reneging on his obligation, as he had already prepared Responsibility provides for the rule on negligence and
the draft of the petition. He failed to file the petition states:
simply because he still lacked the needed documentary
evidence that his clients should have furnished Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal
him. Lastly, Atty. Macalalad denied that Atty. Solidon matter entrusted to him and his negligence in
tried to communicate with him. connection therewith shall render him liable.
This Court has consistently held, in construing this Rule,
The Findings of the IBP that the mere failure of the lawyer to perform the
obligations due to the client is considered per se a
In his Report and Recommendation dated June 25, 2008, violation.
Investigating Commissioner Randall C. Tabayoyong Thus, in Villafuerte v. Cortez,[9] we held that a lawyer
made the following finding of negligence against Atty. is negligent if he failed to do anything to protect his
Macalalad: clients interest after receiving his acceptance fee. In In
Re: Atty. Briones,[10] we ruled that the failure of the
complainant submitted in his position paper the affidavit counsel to submit the required brief within the
of Flordeliz Cabo-Borata, the mutual acquaintance of reglementary period (to the prejudice of his client who
both complainant and respondent. In the said affidavit, languished in jail for more than a year) is an offense that
Mrs. Cabo-Borata described how she repeatedly warrants disciplinary action. In Garcia v. Atty. Manuel,
followed-up the matter with respondent and how we penalized a lawyer for failing to inform the client of
respondent turned a deaf ear towards the same. There the status of the case, among other matters.[11]
is nothing on record which would prompt this Office to
view the allegations therein with caution. In fact, Subsequently, in Reyes v. Vitan,[12] we reiterated that
the act of receiving money as acceptance fee for legal

10 | P a g e
services in handling the complainants case and, enable him to file the petition even pending the IBP
subsequently, in failing to render the services, is a clear Commission on Bar Discipline investigation. As matters
violation of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional now stand, he did not take any action to initiate
Responsibility. We made the same conclusion in Canoy communication. These omissions unequivocally
v. Ortiz[13] where we emphatically stated that the point to Atty. Macalalads lack of due care that now
lawyers failure to file the position paper was per se a warrants disciplinary action.
violation of Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. In addition to the above finding of negligence, we also
find Atty. Macalalad guilty of violating Rule 16.01 of the
The circumstance that the client was also at fault does Code of Professional Responsibility which requires a
not exonerate a lawyer from liability for his negligence in lawyer to account for all the money received from the
handling a case. In Canoy, we accordingly declared that client. In this case, Atty. Macalalad did not immediately
the lawyer cannot shift the blame to his client for failing account for and promptly return the money he received
to follow up on his case because it was the lawyers duty from Atty. Solidon even after he failed to render any
to inform his client of the status of the case.[14] Our legal service within the contracted time of the
rulings in Macarilay v. Seria,[15] in Heirs engagement.[22]
of Ballesteros v. Apiag,[16] and in Villaflores v.
Limos[17] were of the same tenor. In Villaflores, we The Penalty
opined that even if the client has been equally at fault
for the lack of communication, the main responsibility Based on these considerations, we modify the IBP
remains with the lawyer to inquire and know the best Commission on Bar Disciplines recommended penalty by
means to acquire the required information. We held that increasing the period of Atty. Macalalads suspension
as between the client and his lawyer, the latter has more from the practice of law from three (3) months, to six
control in handling the case. (6) months.[23] In this regard, we follow the Courts lead
in Parias v. Paguinto[24] where we imposed on the
All these rulings drive home the fiduciary nature of a respondent lawyer suspension of six (6) months from the
lawyers duty to his client once an engagement for legal practice of law for violations of Rule 16.01 and Rule
services is accepted. A lawyer so engaged to represent 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
a client bears the responsibility of protecting the latters
interest with utmost diligence.[18] The lawyer bears the WHEREFORE, premises considered, we
duty to serve his client with competence and diligence, hereby AFFIRM WITH MODIFICATION Resolution No.
and to exert his best efforts to protect, within the bounds XVIII-2008-336 dated July 17, 2008 of the Board of
of the law, the interest of his or her Governors of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline. We
client.[19] Accordingly, competence, not only in the impose on Atty. Ramil E. Macalalad the penalty of SIX
knowledge of law, but also in the management of the (6) MONTHS SUSPENSION from the practice of law for
cases by giving these cases appropriate attention and violations of Rule 16.03 and Rule 18.03 of the Code of
due preparation, is expected from a lawyer.[20] Professional Responsibility, effective upon finality of this
Decision. Atty. Macalalad is STERNLY WARNED that a
The records in this case tell us that Atty. Macalalad failed repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with
to act as he committed when he failed to file the required more severely.
petition. He cannot now shift the blame to his clients
since it was his duty as a lawyer to communicate with Atty. Macalalad is also ORDERED to RETURN to Atty.
them. At any rate, we reject Atty. Macalalads defense Elmer C. Solidon the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos
that it was his clients who failed to contact him. Although (P50,000.00) with interest of twelve percent (12%) per
no previous communication transpired between Atty. annum from the date of promulgation of this Decision
Macalalad and his clients, the records nevertheless show until the full amount is returned.
that Atty. Solidon, who contracted Atty. Macalalads
services in behalf of his relatives, tried his best to reach Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the
him prior to the filing of the present disbarment case. Bar Confidant and noted in Atty. Macalalads record as a
Atty. Solidon even enlisted the aid of Ms. Cabo-Borata to member of the Bar.
follow-up on the status of the registration application
with Atty. Macalalad. SO ORDERED.

As narrated by Ms. Cabo-Borata in her affidavit,[21] she

succeeded several times in getting in touch with Atty.
Macalalad and on those occasions asked him about the
progress of the case. To use Ms. Cabo-Boratas own
words, she received no clear-cut answers from him; he
just informed her that everything was on process. We
give credence to these narrations considering Atty.
Macalalads failure to contradict them or deny their
veracity, in marked contrast with his vigorous denial of
Atty. Solidons allegations.

We consider, too, that other motivating factors

specifically, the monetary consideration and the fixed
period of performance should have made it more
imperative for Atty. Macalalad to promptly take action
and initiate communication with his clients. He had been
given initial payment and should have at least
undertaken initial delivery of his part of the engagement.

We further find that Atty. Macalalads conduct refutes his

claim of willingness to perform his obligations. If Atty.
Macalalad truly wanted to file the petition, he could have
acquired the necessary information from Atty. Solidon to

11 | P a g e
A. C. No. 5355 December 13, 2011 These request are (sic) in connection with our plan to
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, construct a new site for the Rural Health Center of San
Petitioner, Luis, Pampanga. However, the designated place thereof
- versus - is presently being squatted (sic) by a certain Mr.
ATTY. DANIEL B. LIANGCO, Hermogenes Gozun and inspite of the official notice of
Atty. Benlfre S. Galang, our Provincial Legal Officer, and
The Case personal request of our Municipal Mayor Jovito C. Bondoc
to Mr. Gozun to vacate his (sic) premises, he continues
This is an administrative Complaint for Disbarment filed to defy such notices and request to the detriment of the
by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) against proposed project.
respondent Atty. Daniel B. Liangco. WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that this petition
In a per curiam En Banc Resolution in Gozun v. Hon. will merit your favorable consideration and appropriate
Liangco,[1] dated 30 August 2000, this Court ordered the action for the sake of public interest.
dismissal from service of respondent as judge of the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of San Fernando, Pampanga On the very same day, May 24, 1996, respondent judge
and as acting judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court issued a resolution, reasoning: First, the municipality of
(MCTC) of Mexico-San Luis, Pampanga. His dismissal San Luis, Pampanga through its Sangguniang Bayan
was with forfeiture of all his retirement benefits and may enact resolutions and ordinances to regulate the use
accumulated leave credits; and with prejudice to his of property within its jurisdiction. Second, Resolution No.
reinstatement or reemployment in any branch, 34-96 is not contrary to law, morals and public
instrumentality or agency of the government, including policy. Third, the municipal mayor through an executive
government-owned or -controlled corporations. The order may order the Philippine National Police or any
Court further directed the OCA to initiate disbarment government law enforcement agency to enforce or
proceedings against him for misconduct as a member of implement the resolution, using reasonable force if
the bar. Hence, this present case for resolution by the necessary and justified. Fourth, squatting in government
Court. property is considered a nuisance per se. Respondent
judge ruled:
The Facts
We quote the facts as stated in A. M. No. MTJ-97- With the issuance by the Municipal Mayor of an executive
1136,[2] as follows: order, the municipality of San Luis may order the
Philippine National Police (PNP) stationed in San Luis,
Complainant Hermogenes T. Gozun (hereinafter referred Pampanga to effect the eviction of Hermogenes Gozun
to as Gozun) was in open and adverse possession of and all other persons who may be claiming any right
subject land for a period of more than thirty years. His under him from Lot No. 114 covered by tax Declaration
familys house was erected on the land. The house was No. 6030 (underscoring ours).
made of old vintage lumber, cement, hollow blocks, G. Again, on the same day, March 24, 1996, the municipal
I. sheet roofing and other strong materials. Gozun mayor, Jovito C. Bondoc, pursuant to the aforequoted
inherited the house and lot from his parents. resolution, issued Executive Order No. 1, series of 1996,
ordering the PNP to implement Resolution No. 34-96.
The municipality of San Luis, Pampanga claimed to own
the same lot. Note that complainant Gozun was not served with
summons or given notice of the petition for declaratory
On January 12, 1996, the Sangguniang Bayan of San relief.
Luis, Pampanga issued Resolution No. 26-96, stating:
On June 2, 1996, complainant Gozun learned about the
Sangguniang Bayan of San Luis, Pampanga do hereby
consider (sic) the lot under Tax Dec. No. 114 owned by On June 3, 1996, complainant Gozuns wife together with
the Municipal Government of San Luis, Pampanga, other public school teachers went to the office of the
specifically the lot where Mr. Hermogenes Gozun and respondent judge. When asked about the resolution,
family were squatting (sic) as the new site of the Rural respondent judge answered, Ing Apung Guinu yu y
Health Center will rise (sic). Mayor Bondoc at kaya ko makisabi (Your God is Mayor
On May 17, 1996, the Sangguniang Bayan issued Bondoc and you should talk to him).
Resolution No. 34-96 to amend the correct Resolution
No. 26-96. On August 8, 1996, agents of the municipal government
demolished complainant Gozuns house, using
On May 24, 1996, Romulo M. Batu, Vice Mayor, on behalf respondent judges resolution and the mayors executive
of the Sangguniang Bayan, filed with the MTC, San Luis, order as basis.
Pampanga, a petition for declaratory relief. We quote the
petition: On December 18, 1996, complainant Gozun filed this
administrative complaint with the Office of the Court
PETITION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF Administrator. He averred that respondent judges
issuance of the resolution amounts to gross misconduct,
THE HONORABLE gross inefficiency and incompetence. Complainant Gozun
JUDGE DANIEL LIANGCO further accused the municipal mayor of having bribed
respondent judge. Mayor Bondoc told complainant
In behalf of the Sangguniang Bayan of San Luis, Gozun that the respondent judge is in his pocketbecause
Pampanga, We would like to petition your good office to he (Mayor Bondoc) has given him (respondent judge) a
render legal opinion on the following matters, to wit: lot of things (dacal naku a regalo kaya).
1. The validity of the attached Resolution.
On January 20, 1997, the Office of the Court
2. The powers of the Municipal Mayor to enforce said Administrator submitted the petition to this Court for its
Resolution. consideration, recommending that the complaint be
3. To issue an order to the PNP to assist the Municipal given due course.
Mayor in implementing said Resolution.

12 | P a g e
On March 21, 1997, the Court resolved to require the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of San Luis,
respondent judge to comment thereon, within ten (10) Pampanga, he was merely rendering a legal opinion
days from notice. honestly and in good faith;[12] and that his actions were
not attended by malice, bad faith or any other ulterior
On May 15, 1997, respondent judge submitted his motive.[13] He further pleads for compassion from this
comment, denying the charges and urging that the case Court and for permission to remain a member of the bar,
be dismissed. because the practice of law is his only means of livelihood
to support his family.[14]
On June 23, 1997, we referred the case back to the
Office of the Court Administrator for evaluation, report On 07 August 2001, the Court En Banc noted the
and recommendation. submission of respondent and referred the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
On April 13, 2000, after investigation, Court report and recommendation within ninety (90) days from
Administrator Alfredo L. Benipayo submitted a receipt of the records of the case.[15]
memorandum, recommending the dismissal from office
of respondent judge.[3] IBPs Report and Recommendation
A.M. No. MTJ-97-1136 The IBP held a series of hearings on the disbarment case
Dismissal of Respondent from the Bench with respondents participation. On 03 October 2003, the
investigating commissioner issued her Report and
The OCA Resolution was forwarded to this Court for Recommendation[16] finding justification for the
evaluation and action and docketed as A.M. No. MTJ-97- disbarment of respondent and recommending that his
1136. On 30 August, 2000, the Court En Banc name be struck off the Roll of Attorneys. The
promulgated a per curiam Resolution adopting the investigating commissioner found that, based on the
report and recommendation of the Court Administrator. facts of the case, there was clear, convincing and
It ruled that respondent had blatantly ignored the basic satisfactory evidence to warrant the disbarment of
rules of fair play, in addition to acting without jurisdiction respondent.[17] She observed that he had exhibited
in entertaining a Petition for Declaratory Relief despite lapses, as well as ignorance of well-established rules and
his being a judge of a first-level court.[4] The Court also procedures. She also observed that the present
pointed out that his ruling on the said Petition resulted Complaint was not the first of its kind to be filed against
in the demolition of the house of complainant Gozun, him. She further noted that before his dismissal from the
thus rendering his family homeless.[5] It described judiciary, respondent was suspended for six (6) months
respondents acts as biased and maleficent and ruled that when he assigned to his court, without a raffle, fifty-four
those acts merited the punishment of dismissal from the (54) cases for violation of Presidential Decree No. 1602
service,[6] viz: a violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 7 dated 23
September 1974. Also, pending with the Supreme Court
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court hereby orders the were three (3) administrative cases filed against him for
DISMISSAL of respondent Judge Daniel B. Liangco, dishonesty, gross ignorance of the law, and direct
Municipal Trial Judge, Municipal Trial Court, San bribery. In the bribery case, he was caught by the
Fernando, Pampanga, and Acting Judge Municipal Circuit National Bureau of Investigation in an entrapment
Trial Court (MCTC), Mexico-San Luis, Pampanga, from operation.[18]
the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and
accumulated leave credits, if any, and with prejudice to On 30 January 2009, respondent filed a Motion for
reinstatement or reemployment in any branch, Reconsideration[19] of the Report and Recommendation
instrumentality or agency of the Government, including of the IBP. He alleged that the evidence presented in the
government-owned or controlled corporations. proceedings for his dismissal as judge was the same as
that which was used in the disbarment case against him.
The Court directs the Court Administrator to initiate Thus, because he did not have the chance to cross-
disbarment proceedings against respondent Judge for examine the witnesses, he claimed to have been
misconduct as a member of the bar within thirty (30) deprived of due process.[20] In addition, respondent
days from finality of his decision. emphasized the submission by Gozun of an Affidavit of
Desistance from the Complaint the latter had originally
This decision is immediately executory. filed against him and contended that the case should
have been dismissed.[21] Lastly, respondent averred that
SO ORDERED.[7] he had endeavored to improve himself as a devout
Catholic by joining religious organizations. He also
A.C. No. 5355 impressed upon the IBP his effort to improve on his
Disbarment knowledge of the law by attending Mandatory Continuing
On 10 November 2000, the OCA filed a Complaint for Legal Education (MCLE).[22]
Disbarment against respondent.[8] In its Complaint dated
06 November 2000, docketed as Administrative Case No. On 12 May 2009, respondent filed a Supplemental
(A.C.) 5355, the OCA charged him with gross misconduct Motion for Reconsideration[23] wherein he implored the
for acting with manifest bias and partiality towards a IBP to take a second look at his case. He emphasized the
party, as well as for inexcusable ignorance of well- submission by Gozun of an Affidavit of Desistance and
established rules of procedure that challenged his the fact that the former had already suffered the
competence to remain a member of the legal profession. supreme penalty of dismissal as MTC
Thus, it prayed that he be disbarred, and that his name judge.[24] Respondent also reiterated the grounds
be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.[9] already stated in his first Motion for Reconsideration.

On 28 November 2000, the Court En Banc promulgated On 09 October 2008, the IBP board of governors passed
a Resolution requiring respondent to file his Comment on Resolution No. XVIII-2008-525,[25] which adopted the
the Complaint for Disbarment against him.[10] On 01 Report and Recommendation of the investigating
June 2001, he filed his Comment on/Answer to commissioner, who found that respondent had acted
Complaint for Disbarment,[11] appealing for with manifest bias and partiality in favor of a party-
understanding and asking that the Court allow him to litigant and shown inexcusable ignorance of the Rules of
continue practicing as a lawyer. He reasoned that when Procedure. The Resolution likewise adopted the
he acted on the Petition for Declaratory Relief filed by recommendation to disbar respondent.

13 | P a g e
On 30 June 2011, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
transmitted the case records of A. C. No. 5355 to this So May 24, 1996 was the first time you went to see him
Court, which noted it on 16 August 2011.[26] in his office?

The Courts Ruling WITNESS:

The Court affirms in toto the findings and Before that, Your Honor, nagpupunta na kami doon kung
recommendations of the IBP. minsan may nagpapatulong na mga may kaso.

The evidence on record overwhelmingly supports the COMM. SANSANO:

finding that respondent is guilty of gross misconduct and
inexcusable ignorance of well-established rules of Yon ang tanong ko kanina sa iyo kung bago May
procedures. 24 pumupunta ka na sa opisina niyang datihan?

Gross Misconduct WITNESS:

In Sps. Donato v. Atty. Asuncion, Jr.[27] citing Yap v. Yes, Your Honor. [30]
Judge Aquilino A. Inopiquez, Jr.,[28] this Court explained
the concept of gross misconduct as any inexcusable, The testimony of respondents own witness clearly
shameful or flagrant unlawful conduct on the part of a showed his wanton disregard of Canon 1, Sections 4 and
person concerned with the administration of justice; i.e., 5 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine
conduct prejudicial to the rights of the parties or to the Judiciary, which requires the observance of judicial
right determination of the cause. The motive behind this independence and its protection from undue influence,
conduct is generally a premeditated, obstinate or whether from private or from public interests.[31]
intentional purpose. In Edao v. Judge Asdala,[32] we explained the rationale
behind this imposition:
In the case at bar, respondent acted upon the Petition As the visible representation of the law and justice,
for Declaratory Relief filed by the Sangguniang Bayan of judges, such as the respondent, are expected to conduct
San Luis, Pampanga, without the mandatory notice to themselves in a manner that would enhance the respect
Gozun who would be affected by the action. The records and confidence of the people in the judicial system. The
show that respondent, upon receipt of the Petition, had New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary
it docketed in his court, designated Gozun as respondent mandates that judges must not only maintain their
in the case title, and quickly disposed of the matter by independence, integrity and impartiality; but they must
issuing a Resolution all on the same day that the Petition also avoid any appearance of impropriety or partiality,
was filed without notice and hearing. Respondent which may erode the peoples faith in the
admitted that, to his mind, he was merely rendering a judiciary. Integrity and impartiality, as well as the
legal opinion at the local governments behest, which he appearance thereof, are deemed essential not just in the
gladly and expeditiously obliged. Without denying this proper discharge of judicial office, but also to the
fact in his Comment, he admitted that he had erred in personal demeanor of judges. This standard applies not
acting upon the Petition, but emphasized that his actions only to the decision itself, but also to the process by
were not attended by malice or bad faith.[29] which the decision is made. Section 1, Canon 2,
specifically mandates judges to ensure that not only is
We find his statements hard to believe. their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to
be so in the view of reasonable observers.Clearly, it is of
The undue haste with which respondent acted on the vital importance not only that independence, integrity
Petition negates good faith on his part. Moreover, the and impartiality have been observed by judges and
testimonial evidence on record indicates that he reflected in their decisions, but that these must also
maintained close relations with the municipal vice-mayor appear to have been so observed in the eyes of the
of San Luis, Pampanga, a party-litigant who had an people, so as to avoid any erosion of faith in the justice
obvious interest in the outcome of the case. The system. Thus, judges must be circumspect in their
testimony of Romulo A. Batu, former vice-mayor of San actions in order to avoid doubt and suspicion in the
Luis, Pampanga, showed that respondent denigrated his dispensation of justice. To further emphasize its
impartiality as a judge is as follows: importance, Section 2, Canon 2 states:

COMM. SANSANO: Sec. 2. The behavior and conduct of judges must

reaffirm the peoples faith in the integrity of the judiciary.
You dont remember therefore that at any time at all you Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen
were with the mayor in going to see the respondent? to be done.

WITNESS: (Mr. Batu) As early as June 6, 2003, OCA Circular No. 70-2003 has
directed judges as follows:
I do not know any instance that the mayor visited the
respondent, Your Honor. I do not know any instance that In view of the increasing number of reports reaching the
I was with him. Office of the Court Administrator that judges have been
meeting with party litigants inside their chambers,
COMM. SANSANO: judges are hereby cautioned to avoid in-chambers
sessions without the other party and his counsel present,
But other than the occasion of the filing of this request and to observe prudence at all times in their conduct to
there were times when you went to see the respondent the end that they only act impartially and with propriety
also in his office? but are also perceived to be impartial and proper.

WITNESS: Impartiality is essential to the proper discharge of the

judicial office. It applies not only to the decision itself but
There was no other visit, Your Honor. also to the process by which the decision is made. As
such, judges must ensure that their conduct, both in and
COMM. SANSANO: out of the court, maintains and enhances the confidence

14 | P a g e
of the public, the legal profession and litigants in the of the power and responsibility that attach to the
impartiality of the judge and of the judiciary. In the same processes and issuances of a judge, and that he as a
vein, the Code of Judicial Conduct behooves all judges to member of the bar should know.
avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in
all their activities, as such is essential to the performance Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
of all the activities of a judge in order to maintain the mandates that a lawyer must uphold the Constitution
trust and respect of the people in the judiciary. and promote respect for the legal processes.[35] Contrary
to this edict, respondent malevolently violated the basic
Also relevant is Canon 3, particularly Section 2 of the constitutional right of Gozun not to be deprived of a right
new code, which exhorts judges not only to be impartial or property without due process of law.
in deciding the cases before them, but also to project the
image of impartiality.[33] Unfortunately, as shown by the Under Canon 10, Rule 10.03, respondent as lawyer is
facts of the case, these rules were not properly observed mandated to observe the Rules of Procedure and not to
by respondent as a judge of a first-level court. misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.[36] In this
case, however, the opposite happened. Respondent
Inexcusable Ignorance of the Law recklessly used the powers of the court to inflict injustice.

We are appalled by respondents ignorance of the basic Should the misconduct of respondent as judge also
rules of procedure. His wanton use of court processes in warrant his disbarment from the legal profession? We
this case without regard for the repercussions on the answer in the affirmative.
rights and property of others clearly shows his unfitness
to remain a member of the bar. In Collantes v. Renomeron,[37] we ruled therein that the
misconduct of the respondent therein as a public official
A cursory look at the Resolution dated 24 May 1996 also constituted a violation of his oath as a lawyer:
issued by respondent would prompt an ordinary person
to conclude that an action in the form of a Petition for As the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro said:
Declaratory Relief was indeed filed, because it bears the
name and the branch of the court of law that issued it. "A person takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar
It had a docket number and the names of the parties which is designed to impress upon him his
involved. The Resolution even states the justiciable responsibilities. He thereby becomes an officer of the
question to be resolved and accordingly makes a judicial court on whose shoulders rest the grave responsibility of
determination thereof. In reality, though, there was no assisting the courts in the proper, fair, speedy and
notice sent to Gozun, the named respondent in the efficient administration of justice. As an officer of the
Petition; nor was a hearing held to thresh out the issues court he is subject to a rigid discipline that demands that
involved. As far as respondent was concerned, he simply in his every exertion the only criterion be that truth and
issued a legal opinion, but one with all the hallmarks of justice triumph. This discipline is what has given the law
a valid issuance by a court of law, despite the absence profession its nobility, its prestige, its exalted place.
of mandatory processes such as notice especially to From a lawyer, to paraphrase Justice Felix Frankfurter,
Gozun and hearing. Even this excuse is unacceptable. are expected those qualities of truth-speaking, a high
Judges do not, and are not allowed, to issue legal sense of honor, full candor, intellectual honesty, and the
opinions. Their opinions are always in the context of strictest observance of fiduciary responsibility - all of
judicial decisions, or concurring and dissenting opinions which, throughout the centuries, have been
in the case of collegiate courts, and always in the context compendiously described as 'moral character.'
of contested proceedings.
xxx xxx xxx
What is most unfortunate is that the Sanguniang Bayan,
relying on the Resolution respondent issued, caused the "A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely
demolition of the house of Gozun and his family, who reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he,
were thus ejected from the property they had been whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous
occupying for decades. In effect, Gozun was deprived of manner to the discredit of the legal profession." (Rule
his property without due process. To us, this is precisely 7.03, Code of Professional Responsibility.)
the injustice that members of the bench and the bar are
sworn to guard against. Regrettably, respondent as This Court has ordered that only those who are
judge was even instrumental in its commission. When "competent, honorable, and reliable" may practice the
his liability for his act was invoked, he casually justifies profession of law (Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293) for
them as honest mistakes not attended by malice or bad every lawyer must pursue "only the highest standards in
faith. His justification is unacceptable to us. the practice of his calling" (Court Administrator vs.
Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269, 278).
As a member of the bar and former judge, respondent is Recently, in Samson v. Judge Caballero,[38] we ruled that
expected to be well-versed in the Rules of Procedure. because membership in the bar is an integral
This expectation is imposed upon members of the legal qualification for membership in the bench, the moral
profession, because membership in the bar is in the fitness of a judge also reflects the latters moral fitness
category of a mandate for public service of the highest as a lawyer. A judge who disobeys the basic rules of
order. Lawyers are oath-bound servants of society judicial conduct also violates the lawyers oath.
whose conduct is clearly circumscribed by inflexible
norms of law and ethics, and whose primary duty is the We note that on 25 August 2011, respondent filed a
advancement of the quest for truth and justice, for which Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing Resolution No.
they have sworn to be fearless crusaders.[34] XVIII-2008-525 dated 09 October 2008 promulgated by
As judge of a first-level court, respondent is expected to the IBP board of governors, which adopted and approved
know that he has no jurisdiction to entertain a petition the findings of the investigating commissioner
for declaratory relief. Moreover, he is presumed to know recommending his disbarment. Respondent alleged
that in his capacity as judge, he cannot render a legal therein that he had served as assistant provincial
opinion in the absence of a justiciable question. prosecutor in the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of
Displaying an utter lack of familiarity with the rules, he Pampanga for thirteen (13) years prior to his dismissal
in effect erodes the publics confidence in the competence as MTC judge of San Luis, Pampanga and as acting MCTC
of our courts. Moreover, he demonstrates his ignorance judge of Mexico-San Luis, Pampanga. He also complains

15 | P a g e
that he was deprived of due process by the IBP board of .C. No. 6691 April 27, 2007
governors when it approved and adopted the findings of ATTY. GEORGE C. BRIONES, Complainant,
the investigating commissioner recommending his vs.
disbarment; and he prays for a second look at his case, ATTY. JACINTO D. JIMENEZ, Respondent.
considering the withdrawal of the Complaint originally RESOLUTION
filed by Gozun. AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
The root of herein administrative complaint for
In the light of our ruling in this case, we can no longer Disbarment1 dated August 12, 2004 filed by Atty. George
consider the undocketed Petition for Review on Certiorari S. Briones charging Atty. Jacinto D. Jimenez with
filed by respondent. In the first place, such kind of violation of Revised Circular No. 28-91 on forum-
petition is not available to assail the resolution of the IBP shopping and Rule 19.01 and Rule 12.08 of the Code of
in an administrative case. His remedies from an adverse Professional Responsibility, is the April 3, 2002 Order of
resolution is to seek a reconsideration of the same, and the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila in SP Proc. No.
when denied, to raise the same defenses against 99-92870, entitled, "In the Matter of the Petition for the
administrative liability before this Court. He has availed Allowance of the Will of Luz J. Henson", to wit:
of both remedies in this case. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the court hereby:
1. Reiterates its designation of the accounting firm of
Disbarment proceedings are sui generis. As such, they Messrs. Alba, Romeo & Co. to immediately conduct an
render the underlying motives of complainant audit of the administration by Atty. George S. Briones of
unimportant and of little relevance. The purpose of the estate of the late Luz J. Henson, the expenses of
disbarment proceedings is mainly to determine the which shall be charged against the estate.
fitness of a lawyer to continue acting as an officer of the 2. Suspends the approval of the report of the special
court and as participant in the dispensation of justice an administrator except the payment of his commission
issue which the complainants personal motives have which is hereby fixed at 1.8% of the value of the estate.
little relevance. For this reason, upon information of an 3. Directs the special administrator to deliver the residue
alleged wrongdoing, the Court may initiate the to the heirs in proportion to their shares. From the share
disbarment proceedings motu proprio.[39] of Lilia J. Henson-Cruz, there shall be deducted the
advances made to her.
Recently in Garrido v. Atty. Garrido,[40] we reiterated the IT IS SO ORDERED.
unique characteristic of disbarment proceedings and Complainant Atty. Briones is the Special Administrator of
their purpose in this wise: the Estate of Luz J. Henson. Respondent Atty. Jacinto D.
Jimenez is the counsel for the Heirs of the late Luz J.
Laws dealing with double jeopardy or with procedure Henson (Heirs).
such as the verification of pleadings and prejudicial On April 9, 2002, Atty. Jimenez filed with the RTC a
questions, or in this case, prescription of offenses or the notice of appeal from the Order dated April 3, 2002,
filing of affidavits of desistance by the complainant do questioning the payment of commission to Atty.
not apply in the determination of a lawyers qualifications Briones.2
and fitness for membership in the Bar. We have so ruled On April 29, 2002, Atty. Jimenez filed with the Court of
in the past and we see no reason to depart from this Appeals (CA) a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition
ruling. First, admission to the practice of law is a and Mandamus, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70349
component of the administration of justice and is a assailing the Order dated March 12, 2002, appointing the
matter of public interest because it involves service to firm of Alba, Romeo & Co. to conduct an audit at the
the public. The admission qualifications are also expense of the late Luz J. Henson, as well as the Order
qualifications for the continued enjoyment of the dated April 3, 2002, insofar as it denied their motion for
privilege to practice law. Second, lack of qualifications or recommendation.3
the violation of the standards for the practice of law, like On July 26, 2002, Atty. Jimenez filed with the CA a
criminal cases, is a matter of public concern that the Petition for Mandamus, docketed as CA-G.R. No.
State may inquire into through this Court. In this sense, 71844,4alleging that the respondent Judge therein
the complainant in a disbarment case is not a direct party unlawfully refused to comply with his ministerial duty to
whose interest in the outcome of the charge is wholly his approve their appeal which was perfected on time.5
or her own; effectively, his or her participation is that of Atty. Briones, in his Comment, contends that the heirs
a witness who brought the matter to the attention of the of the late Luz J. Henson, represented by Atty. Jimenez,
Court. are guilty of forum shopping for which reason, the
Thus, despite Gozuns desistance in A.M. No. MTJ-97- petition should be dismissed. 6
1136, from whence this case originated, respondent is On February 11, 2003, the CA without touching on the
not exonerated. forum shopping issue, granted the petition and ordered
the respondent Judge to give due course to the appeal
WHEREFORE, this Court resolves to DISBAR Atty. taken by Atty. Jimenez from the Order dated April 3,
Daniel B. Liangco for the following offenses: 2002, insofar as it directed the payment of commission
to Atty. Briones.7
1. GROSS MISCONDUCT in violation of Canon 1, Atty. Briones then filed with this Court a Petition for
Sections 4 and 5 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
the Philippine Judiciary docketed as G.R. No. 159130, praying for the dismissal
of the appeal from the Order dated April 3, 2002, insofar
2. INEXCUSABLE IGNORANCE OF THE LAW in as it ordered the payment of commission to him, as the
violation of Canons 1 and 10, Rule 10.03 of the Code of Special Administrator of the estate of the deceased Luz
Professional Responsibility J. Henson.8
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the personal The Court gave due course to the petition and required
records of Atty. Daniel B. Liangco in the Office of the Bar the parties to file their respective memoranda.
Confidant and another copy furnished the Integrated Bar Atty. Briones (hereinafter referred to as complainant)
of the Philippines. filed his "Memorandum with Administrative Complaint
The Bar Confidant is hereby directed to strike out the for Disbarment against Atty. Jacinto Jimenez, Counsel
name of Daniel B. Liangco from the Roll of Attorneys. for Respondents",9 for violation of Rule 19.01 and Rule
12.08 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and
SO ORDERED. Revised Circular No. 28-91 on forum shopping.

16 | P a g e
Complainant claims that Atty. Jimenez (hereinafter demand letters to the latter to comply with the Order of
referred to as respondent) and the Heirs engaged again Judge Tipon to deliver the residue of the estate to the
in forum shopping when respondent, as counsel for the heirs of the late Luz J. Henson. Considering that
Heirs, filed a criminal complaint and executed an complainant did not reply to the demand letters,
affidavit against complainant for resisting and seriously respondent opted to file said criminal complaint in behalf
disobeying the RTC Order dated April 3, 2002 which of his clients for refusal to obey the lawful order of the
directed complainant to deliver the residue of the estate court.
to the Heirs in proportion to their shares, punishable The Order referred to is the third part of the assailed
under Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code. Order dated April 3, 2002 which directs complainant to
Complainant further claims that respondent violated deliver the residue to the Heirs in proportion to their
Rules 19.01 and 12.08 of the Code of Professional shares. As aptly pointed out by complainant, respondent
Responsibility, to wit: should have first filed the proper motion with the RTC for
Rule 19.01 - A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest execution of the third part of said Order instead of
means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and immediately resorting to the filing of criminal complaint
shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to against him. A mere perusal of the rest of the Order
present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an dated April 3, 2002 readily discloses that the approval of
improper advantage in any case of proceeding. the report of complainant as Special Administrator was
Rule 12.08 – A lawyer shall avoid testifying in behalf of suspended prior to the audit of the administration of
his client, except: complainant. Consequently, the RTC would still have to
(a) on formal matters, such as the mailing, determine and define the residue referred to in the
authentication or custody of an instrument, and the like; subject Order. The filing of the criminal complaint was
or evidently premature.
b) on substantial matters, in cases where his testimony Respondent claims that he acted in good faith and in fact,
is essential to the ends of justice, in which event he did not violate Rule 19.01 because he assisted the Heirs
must, during his testimony, entrust the trial of the case in filing the criminal complaint against herein
to another counsel. complainant after the latter ignored the demand letters
by filing the unfounded criminal complaint against him sent to him; and that a lawyer owes his client the
to obtain an improper advantage in Special Proceedings exercise of utmost prudence and capability. The Court is
No. 99-92870 before the RTC, Branch 46, and coerce not convinced. Fair play demands that respondent
complainant to deliver to the Heirs the residue of the should have filed the proper motion with the RTC to
estate of the late Luz J. Henson without any writ of attain his goal of having the residue of the estate
execution or any pronouncement from the RTC as to the delivered to his clients and not subject complainant to a
finality of the Order dated April 3, 2002;10 and in premature criminal prosecution.
executing an affidavit in support of the criminal As held in Suzuki v. Tiamson:16
complaint. Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
The Court in its Resolution dated January 24, 2005, in enjoins a lawyer to represent his client with zeal.
G.R. No. 159130, resolved to docket the complaint However, the same Canon provides that a lawyer’s
against Atty. Jimenez as a regular administrative performance of his duties towards his client must be
complaint; referred said Complaint to the Office of the within the bounds of the law. Rule 19.01 of the same
Bar Confidant (OBC); and required Atty. Jimenez to Canon requires, among others, that a lawyer shall
comment.11 employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful
Respondent filed his Comment on April 6, 2005. He objectives of his client. Canon 15, Rule 15.07 also obliges
contends that when he assisted the Heirs in filing a lawyers to impress upon their clients compliance with the
criminal case against complainant, he was merely laws and the principle of fairness. To permit lawyers to
fulfilling his legal duty to take the necessary steps to resort to unscrupulous practices for the protection of the
protect the interests of his clients; that it cannot serve supposed rights of their clients is to defeat one of the
as basis for filing an administrative case against purposes of the state – the administration of justice.
him.12 Respondent further cites Santiago v. While lawyers owe their entire devotion to the interest of
Rafanan13 where the Court absolved the respondent their clients and zeal in the defense of their client’s right,
lawyer from administrative liability in submitting an they should not forget that they are, first and foremost,
affidavit in a preliminary investigation in defense of his officers of the court, bound to exert every effort to assist
clients. in the speedy and efficient administration of justice.17
On January 31, 2007, the OBC submitted its Report and Although respondent failed to live up to this expectation,
Recommendation recommending that the administrative there is no evidence that he acted with malice or bad
complaint against Atty. Jimenez be dismissed for lack of faith. Consequently, it is but fit to reprimand respondent
merit.14 for his act of unfair dealing with complainant. It must be
The Court agrees with the OBC that respondent is not stressed that disbarment is the most severe form of
guilty of forum shopping. Records show that respondent, disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power to disbar
as counsel for the heirs of the late Luz J. Henson, filed a must always be exercised with great caution for only the
special civil action docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70349 most imperative reasons and in clear cases of
assailing the Order of March 12, 2002 appointing the misconduct affecting the standing and moral character
accounting firm of Alba, Romeo and Co. as auditor; and, of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of
a regular appeal docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 71488 the bar. Accordingly, disbarment should not be decreed
assailing the Order of April 3, 2002, insofar as it directed where any punishment less severe – such as reprimand,
the payment of commission to complainant. It is evident suspension, or fine – would accomplish the end
that there is identity of parties but different causes of desired.18
action and reliefs sought. Hence, respondent is not WHEREFORE, Atty. Jacinto D. Jimenez is
guilty of forum shopping.15 The Court likewise finds no found guilty of and REPRIMANDED for violation of
fault on the part of respondent in executing an affidavit Rule 19.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
in support of the criminal complaint as held in SO ORDERED.
the Santiago case.
However, there is sufficient ground in support of
complainant’s claim that respondent violated Rule 19.01
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Records reveal
that before respondent assisted the Heirs in filing the
criminal complaint against herein complainant, he sent

17 | P a g e
G.R. No. 179892-93 January 30, 2009 of ₱184 million only to the EPIRA separated members to
ATTY. VICTORIANO V. OROCIO, Petitioner, the exclusion of the NAPOCOR employees (who were also
vs. members of the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund) who have
EDMUND P. ANGULUAN, LORNA T. DY and resigned, retired, or separated prior to the effectivity of
NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, Respondents. EPIRA (non-EPIRA separated members).10
DECISION This prompted Mrs. Perla A. Segovia (Segovia), former
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Vice-President of Human Resources and Administration
Before Us is a Petition1 for Review on Certiorari under and former Ex-Officio Chairman of the NAPOCOR-WFBT,
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to set aside the in behalf of the 559 non-EPIRA separated members and
Resolution2 dated 31 October 2006, Decision3 dated 29 in her own personal capacity, to write a letter to Mr.
January 2007, and Resolution4 dated 27 September Rogelio M. Murga, then NAPOCOR President, demanding
2007, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 95786 their equal shares in the remaining assets of the
and 95946. NAPOCOR Welfare Fund and access to information and
The facts culled from the records are as follows: records thereof.11
On 26 September 1978, the National Power Corporation On 13 July 2004, there being no action or response on
Board of Directors (NAPOCOR Board), pursuant to its her letter, Segovia, together with Mrs. Emma C. Baysic
specific power and duty to fix the compensation, (Baysic), former President of the NAPOCOR Employees
allowance and benefits of the NAPOCOR employees Association and former member of the NAPOCOR-WFBT,
under Section 6(c) of Republic Act No. 6395, as in their personal capacities and on behalf of the 559 non-
amended, passed Resolution No. 78-119 approving the EPIRA separated members, filed with the Quezon City
grant of a monthly welfare allowance equivalent to 10% Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 217, a Petition
of an employee’s basic pay to all NAPOCOR employees for Mandamus, Accounting and Liquidation with a Prayer
effective 1 October 1978.5Pursuant thereto, the for the Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and
NAPOCOR Welfare Plan Committee, renamed and Injunction against respondents NAPOCOR, the NAPOCOR
reconstituted later on as the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund Board, Anguluan (as NAPOCOR Vice-President, Human
Board of Trustees (NAPOCOR-WFBT), issued and Resources, Administration and Finance Department) and
promulgated a charter for the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund Lorna T. Dy (as NAPOCOR Senior Department Manager
which includes the following provisions: on Finance).12 The Petition was docketed as Civil Case
ARTICLE VII No. Q04-53121.
TERMINATION/AMENDMENT OF THE PLAN Segovia, Baysic and the 559 non-EPIRA separated
"Section 1. Termination/Amendment of the Plan – The members were represented in Civil Case No. Q04-53121
Board of Directors may amend, revise, repeal any or all by petitioner Atty. Victoriano V. Orocio under a "Legal
of the provisions herein contained and/or terminate the Retainer Agreement"13 dated 1 September 2004,
Plan, subject to the pertinent provisions of the Trust pertinent portions of which are reproduced below:
Agreement. SUBJECT: Petition for Mandamus with Damages
Section 2. Payment of Member’s share – In the event of Temporary Restraining Order/Injunction, etc. with the
termination of the Plan, the balance to the credit of each Court "NPC RETIREES versus NPC, NP Board of Directors,
member and the General Reserve for Employee Benefits et. al. before the RTC Quezon City for the
shall be paid to the members in full. The accumulated payment/settlement of their claims for NPC Welfare Fund
amount in the General Reserve for Employee Benefits (P462 Million assets and other assets liquid or non-
shall be distributed among the members in the liquid).
proportion to the amount outstanding to their credit as Dear Ms. Segovia and Ms. Baysic:
of the time of termination.6 In connection with the above-stated subject, hereunder
The NAPOCOR Board subsequently passed Resolution are our terms and conditions, to wit:
No. 82-172 fixing a NAPOCOR employee’s contribution 1. No acceptance fee;
to the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund in a sum equivalent to 5% 2. All costs of litigation ([filing] and docket fees, etc.),
of his basic pay.7 miscellaneous and out-of-pocket expenses the
Almost two decades thereafter, on 8 June 2001, prosecution of said action shall be for the account of the
Congress passed Republic Act No. 9136, otherwise clients;
known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act 3. No appearance/meeting fee;
(EPIRA). EPIRA directed the restructuring of the power 4. Contingency or success fees of fifteen percent (15%)
industry which includes the reorganization of NAPOCOR. of whatever amounts/value of assets (liquid and/or non-
Following the directive of EPIRA, the NAPOCOR Board liquid) are recovered;
passed Resolution No. 2003-43 on 26 March 2003 5. This Retainer Agreement serves as Legal Authority for
abolishing the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund Department and the Law Firm to receive and/or collect its
other departments, and dissolving the NAPOCOR Welfare contingency/success fee without further demand.
Fund upon the effectivity of EPIRA on 26 June On 22 February 2006, the parties in the above-
2001.8 Consequently, some of the employees in the mentioned case, duly assisted by their respective
NAPOCOR Welfare Fund Department and in other counsels, executed a Compromise Agreement14 whereby
departments (who were also members of the NAPOCOR they agreed to amicably settle their dispute under the
Welfare Fund) resigned, retired or separated from following terms and conditions:
service. Thereafter, the liquidation and dissolution COMPROMISE AGREEMENT
process for the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund commenced. xxxx
On 11 May 2004, the NAPOCOR-WFBT, with authority WHEREAS, the parties have agreed to settle the instant
from the Commission on Audit, approved Resolution No. case amicably.
2004-001 authorizing the release of ₱184 million (which PREMISES CONSIDERED, the parties herein have agreed
represented 40% of the liquid assets of NAPOCOR as follows:
Welfare Fund in the total amount of ₱462 million as of 1. Both the NPC EPIRA separated members (those
16 April 2004) for distribution to the NAPOCOR Welfare members of the Welfare Fund affected by the
Fund members who resigned, retired, or EPIRA law and ceased to be members of the
separated upon the effectivity of EPIRA on 26 June 2001 Welfare Fund anytime from June 26, 2001
(EPIRA separated members).9 [effectivity of the EPIRA LAW] to March 1, 2003
Pursuant to Resolution No. 2004-001, herein respondent [implementation of the EPIRA law and date of
Edmund P. Anguluan (Anguluan), as Ex- abolition of the Welfare Fund]) and NPC non-
Officio Chairman of NAPOCOR-WFBT, issued a EPIRA separated members (those who ceased to
memorandum on 17 May 2004 to implement the release be members of the Fund prior to June 26, 2001)

18 | P a g e
are entitled to "Earnings Differential" of the NPC estimate and, as such, cannot be validly used by
Welfare Fund; petitioner as basis for his claim of 15% attorney’s fees.21
2. "Corrected Earnings Differential" refers to a The RTC issued an Order on 25 July 2006 granting
benefit which is a result of re-computation of petitioner’s Motion22 and, accordingly, a Writ of
Member’s Equity Contributions and Earnings using Execution of the RTC Order dated 15 May 2006 was
the correct rates of return vis-à-vis what was used issued on 26 July 2006. Pursuant to the said Writ of
when they were separated. Period covered by the Execution, RTC Branch Sheriff Reynaldo B. Madoloria
discrepancy is from 1989 to 2003. Hence, affected (Sheriff Madoloria) issued a Notice of Garnishment to Ms.
are WF members separated anytime within the Aurora Arenas (Arenas), Assistant Vice-President and
period 1989 to 2003; Business Manager of the Philippine National Bank (PNB)-
xxxx NAPOCOR Extension Office, Diliman, Quezon City, and to
4. The Corrected Earnings Differential of all affected WF Mr. Emmanuel C. Mendoza (Mendoza), Unit Head of the
separated members shall earn 6% legal interest per Landbank of the Philippines-NAPOCOR Extension Office,
annum computed from the separation of the members Diliman, Quezon City.23
from service up to March 31, 2006 for all the non-EPIRA Respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the
separated members and May 31, 2006 for the EPIRA RTC Order dated 25 July 2006.24
separated members; On 12 August 2006, Sheriff Madoloria served to Arenas
5. As of March 2006, the estimated Corrected an "Order for Delivery of Money."25
Earnings Differential for the non-EPIRA separated Respondents Anguluan and Dy filed before the Court of
members is ₱119.196 Million while for the EPIRA Appeals on 22 August 2006 a Petition
separated members is ₱173.589 Million or a total for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court,
of ₱292.785 Million, inclusive of the 6% legal docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 95786, assailing the RTC
interest; Order dated 25 July 2006 and praying that a temporary
6. In conformity with the Retainer Agreement restraining order and/or a writ of preliminary injunction
dated September 1, 2004 between Mrs. Perla A. be issued enjoining the implementation of the said RTC
Segovia, Mrs. Emma Y. Baysic and Atty. Victoriano order.26 Respondent NAPOCOR filed with the Court of
V. Orocio; and Irrevocable Special Power of Appeals on the same date another Petition
Attorney dated July 20, 2005 executed by Mrs. for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court,
Perla A. Segovia and Mrs. Emma Y. Baysic in favor docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 95946, also challenging the
of Atty. Victoriano V. Orocio, counsel for RTC Order dated 25 July 2006 and praying that it be set
petitioners, (copies attached as Annexes "A" and aside and a temporary restraining order and/or a writ of
"B" respectively), 15% attorney’s fees shall be preliminary injunction be issued prohibiting the RTC from
deducted from the corresponding Corrected enforcing the said order and the corresponding writ of
Earnings Differential of those non-EPIRA execution and notice of garnishment.27 Subsequently,
separated members who have already executed respondent NAPOCOR filed a Motion to Consolidate CA-
the corresponding Special Power of G.R. SP No. 95946 with CA-G.R. SP No. 95786 which was
Attorney/Written Authority for the granted by the appellate court.28
deduction/payment of said attorney’s fees, and On 31 October 2006, the Court of Appeals issued a
shall be paid to V.V. Orocio and Associates Law Resolution granting respondents’ application for a TRO
Office, represented by Atty. Victoriano V. Orocio, and writ of preliminary injunction. It enjoined the RTC
as compensation for his legal services as counsel from implementing its Order dated 25 July 2006 and the
for the non-EPIRA separated members subject to corresponding writ of execution and notice of
deduction of applicable taxes; garnishment during the pendency of CA-G.R. SP No.
xxxx 95946 and No. 95786. Petitioner filed a motion for
15. The parties herein shall exert their best effort in reconsideration of the said resolution.29
order that the terms and conditions of this agreement On 29 January 2007, the Court of Appeals promulgated
are implemented and complied with in the spirit of its Decision annulling and setting aside: (1) the RTC
fairness, transparency and equity; Order dated 25 July 2006; (2) the corresponding Writ of
16. This Agreement is not contrary to law, good customs, Execution dated 26 July 2006; (3) the Notice of
public order or public policy and is voluntarily entered Garnishment dated 28 July 2006; and (4) Order for
into by the parties of their own free will.15 Delivery of Money dated 10 August 2006. It also held
The parties filed with the RTC the very next day, 23 that petitioner was entitled only to an amount of
February 2006, a Joint Motion before the RTC for the ₱1,000,000.00 as attorney’s fees on the basis
approval of their Compromise Agreement.16 The RTC of quantum meruit.
rendered a Decision on 3 April 2006 granting the parties’ The Court of Appeals held that the amount of
Joint Motion and approving the said Compromise ₱17,794,572.70 sought to be collected by petitioner as
Agreement.17 attorney’s fees, equivalent to 15% of the
On 10 April 2006, petitioner filed with the RTC a Motion ₱119,196,000.00 estimated corrected earnings
for Approval of Charging (Attorney’s) Lien. Petitioner differential for non-EPIRA separated members, was
asked the RTC to issue an order declaring him entitled to excessive based on the following reasons: (1) the
collect an amount equivalent to 15% of the monies due corrected earnings differential in the amount of
the non-EPIRA separated members as his attorney’s fees ₱119,196,000.00 due the non-EPIRA separated
in conformity with the Compromise Agreement.18 In an members was a mere estimate and was hypothetical.
Order dated 15 May 2006, the RTC granted petitioner’s Thus, petitioner was unjustified in using said amount as
motion and decreed that he is entitled to collect the basis for his 15% attorney’s fees; (2) there was hardly
amount so demanded.19 any work by petitioner since (a) the compromise
On 20 June 2006, petitioner filed with the RTC a Motion agreement was reached without trial or hearing on the
for the Issuance of a Writ of Execution of the RTC Order merits; (b) there was no issue regarding the release and
dated 15 May 2006.20 Respondents opposed the motion distribution of the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund to the non-
on the ground that there was no stipulation in the EPIRA separated members as the enactment of EPIRA,
Compromise Agreement to the effect that petitioner is not the efforts of petitioner, made such distribution
entitled to collect an amount equivalent to 15% of the possible; (c) there was no issue on how much each non-
monies due the non-EPIRA separated members. EPIRA separated members would receive because the
Respondents contended that the amount of amount of their respective contribution was duly
₱119,196,000.00 due the non-EPIRA separated recorded by the respondents; (d) respondents have
members under the compromise agreement was a mere already distributed the corrected earnings differential to

19 | P a g e
some non-EPIRA separated members, and have given petitioner’s clients to pay only reasonable attorney’s
petitioner his corresponding partial attorney’s fees fees. Petitioner asserts that none of the respondents is
amounting to ₱3,512,007.32; (e) most of the non-EPIRA his client in the present case; that even respondents
separated members have not yet received their share themselves have not alleged or claimed that they are his
under the compromise agreement but petitioner, who clients; that the amount of attorney’s fees he claimed
was merely their agent, was already given partial was chargeable on a portion of the NAPOCOR Welfare
payment as attorney’s fees; (f) the amount of Fund due his clients, the non-EPIRA separated
₱17,794,572.70 represents "only less than one fourth employees; that if anyone would be injured by his claim
partial release of the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund which of attorney’s fees, it would be his clients, the non-EPIRA
means that the equivalent of three-fourths more would separated employees, and not respondents; that none of
be demanded [by petitioner] in the future;" and (3) the his clients has questioned or complained about the
money claim of the non-EPIRA separated members was amount of attorney’s fees he is claiming; that
settled through a compromise agreement and not won respondents are not the real parties-in-interest and at
by petitioner in a trial on the merits. most are merely nominal parties-in-interest; that as
The Court of Appeals determined that petitioner was mere nominal parties-in-interest, respondents are not
entitled only to an amount of ₱1,000,000.00 as entitled to a writ of preliminary injunction under the
attorney’s fees on the basis of quantum meruit. Rules of Court; and that the requisites for the proper
However, since petitioner already received issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction are lacking in
₱3,512,007.32 from respondents as partial payment of the instant case.33
his supposed 15% attorney’s fees, it ruled that such In its Resolution dated 31 October 2006, the Court of
amount was more than sufficient and petitioner was not Appeals granted respondents’ application for a writ of
entitled to claim anymore the additional amount of preliminary injunction based on the following reasons:
₱14,282,565.38. The fallo of the Decision of the Court of This Court finds that [herein respondents] have prima
Appeals reads: facie established [their] compliance with strict
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed July requirements for issuance of a writ of preliminary
25, 2006 Order, the July 26, 2006 Writ of Execution, the injunction in this case. Under the leading case
July 28, 2006 Notice of Garnishment, and the August 10, of Valencia vs. Court of Appeals, 352 SCRA 72 (2001),
2006 Order of Delivery of Money are hereby ANNULLED the requisites of preliminary injunction are as follows:
and SET ASIDE, and a new one is (a) the invasion of the right of [herein respondents] is
ordered, CAPPING at ₱3,512,007.32, the amount material and substantial; (b) the right of [herein
manifested to have already been received from the respondents] is clear and unmistakable; and (c) there is
welfare fund as attorneys fees, as the maximum an urgent and paramount necessity for the writ to
amount that may be billed or collected as attorneys fees prevent serious irreparable damage to [herein
from the whole welfare fund – which amount is NOTED respondents].
to have already exceeded what this court had fixed at The right of [herein respondents] alleged to have
₱1,000,000.00 as the reasonable amount, on quantum been invaded is that a client has the right to pay
meruit, that may be collected as attorneys’ fees, only a reasonable amount of attorney’s fees and
pursuant to the guidelines codified in Rule 20.01, Canon only for services actually rendered – which is clearly
20 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.30 and unmistakably available to all clients. What [herein
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the respondents] are claiming is a material and substantial
aforementioned Decision but this was denied by the right. This Court finds that [herein respondents]
Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated 27 September have prima facie established an urgent and paramount
2007.31 necessity for the issuance of the writ of preliminary
Hence, petitioner brought the instant petition before us injunction prayed for, to avoid irreparable injury to
assigning the following errors: [herein respondents]. x x x.
I. As can be gleaned from the foregoing, the basis of the
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT Court of Appeals in granting the writ was petitioner’s
RESPONDENTS EDMUND P. ANGULUAN, LORNA T. DY alleged violation or invasion of respondents’ right, as
AND NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION (NPC) ARE petitioner’s clients, to pay only a reasonable amount of
ENTITLED TO [PRELIMINARY] INJUNCTION AS THEY attorney’s fees to, and only for services actually
ARE CLEAR AND UNMISTAKABLE, i.e. RIGHTS OF BEING The Court of Appeals is clearly mistaken.
CLIENTS TO QUESTION THE REASONABLENESS OF THE It should be made clear that petitioner is the counsel for
ATTORNEY’S FEES OF A LAWYER. THIS ALLEGED RIGHT the non-EPIRA separated members in the latter’s quest
IS NON-EXISTENT AND IN FACT FABRICATED to claim their shares in the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund.
CONSIDERING THAT THE RESPONDENTS ARE NOT THE Petitioner was never hired or employed by respondents
CLIENTS AT ALL OF PETITIONER, ATTY. VICTORIANO V. as their counsel in the cases at bar. Respondents
OROCIO; themselves do not claim or allege that they are clients of
II. petitioner. In fact, petitioner is representing the non-
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE EPIRA separated members, the opposing party to the
FIFTEEN PERCENT (15%) CONTINGENCY/SUCCESS FEE respondents in the present cases.
OF PETITIONER VICTORIANO V. OROCIO IS Further, the amount of attorney’s fees being claimed by
UNCONSCIONABLE AND UNREASONABLE DESPITE THE petitioner is chargeable to the ₱119,196,000.00
UNDISPUTED FACT THAT THE SAID ATTORNEY’S FEES corrected earnings differential of his clients, the non-
IS AMONG THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF A EPIRA separated members. Respondents have actually
JUDICIALLY APPROVED COMPROMISE AGREEMENT AND partially distributed such amount to some non-EPIRA
COURT ORDER APPROVING HIS CHARGING LIEN, separated members pursuant to the Compromise
WHICH AGREEMENT AND ORDER HAVE ALREADY Agreement. In other words, the non-EPIRA separated
BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY.32 members are the lawful owners/beneficiaries of the
In his first assigned error, petitioner assails the amount from which petitioner’s attorney’s fees had been
Resolution dated 31 October 2006 of the Court of and shall be taken.
Appeals granting respondents’ application for a writ of Hence, if anyone would be injured by petitioner’s claim
preliminary He claims that the for attorney’s fees, it would be his clients, the non-EPIRA
Court of Appeals issued a writ of preliminary injunction separated members, and not respondents. It appears,
in favor of respondents because petitioner allegedly however, that none of the non-EPIRA separated
violated respondents’ material and substantial right as

20 | P a g e
members has questioned or complained about non-EPIRA separated members; that he did a lot of legal
petitioner’s claim for attorney’s fees. work and utilized his legal skills on discovery procedures
A preliminary injunction is an order granted at any stage to force respondents to enter into the Compromise
of an action or proceeding prior to the judgment or final Agreement with the non-EPIRA separated members;
order, requiring a party or a court, agency or a person that the passage of EPIRA merely paved the way for the
to refrain from a particular act or acts.34 A writ of distribution of the remaining assets of the NAPOCOR
preliminary injunction is a provisional remedy, an Welfare Fund; that if not for his legal work and skills, the
adjunct to a main suit, as well as a preservative remedy non-EPIRA separated members would not have received
issued to preserve the status quo of the things subject their lawful shares in the remaining assets of the
of the action or the relations between the parties during NAPOCOR Welfare Fund; and that his claim for 15%
the pendency of the suit.35For a writ of preliminary attorney’s fees is supported by jurisprudence.44
injunction to issue, the applicant is tasked to establish An attorney’s fee, in its ordinary concept, refers to the
and convincingly show the following: (1) a right reasonable compensation paid to a lawyer for the legal
in esse or a clear and unmistakable right to be services he has rendered to a client.45 The client and his
protected; (2) a violation of that right; and (3) there is lawyer may enter into a written contract whereby the
an urgent and permanent act and urgent necessity for latter would be paid attorney’s fees only if the suit or
the writ to prevent serious damage.36 litigation ends favorably to the client. This is called a
A clear legal right means one clearly founded on or contingency fee contract. The amount of attorney’s fees
granted by law or is enforceable as a matter of law.37 The in this contract may be on a percentage basis, and a
existence of a right violated is a prerequisite to the much higher compensation is allowed in consideration of
granting of a writ of preliminary injunction.38 A writ of the risk that the lawyer may get nothing if the suit
preliminary injunction will not issue to protect a right not fails.46 In the case at bar, the non-EPIRA separated
in esse and which may never arise.39 It may be issued members and petitioner voluntarily entered into a
only if the applicant has clearly shown an actual existing contingency fee contract whereby petitioner did not
right that should be protected during the pendency of receive any acceptance fee or appearance/meeting fee.
the principal action.40 In the absence of a clear legal The non-EPIRA separated members expressly agreed to
right, or when the applicant’s right or title is doubtful or pay petitioner "contingency or success fees of fifteen
disputed, preliminary injunction is not proper.41 percent (15%) of whatever amount/value of assets
It is evident from the foregoing that respondents do not (liquid and/or non-liquid)" recovered; and authorized
have a clear right or right in esse to pay only a petitioner’s law firm "to receive and/or collect its
reasonable amount of attorney’s fees to the petitioner contingency/success fee without further demand."
because such right belongs solely to petitioner’s clients, Contingent fee contracts are permitted in this jurisdiction
the non-EPIRA separated members. There can be no because they redound to the benefit of the poor client
violation of a right which does not exist in the first place. and the lawyer "especially in cases where the client has
Also, there was no necessity for the writ of preliminary meritorious cause of action, but no means with which to
injunction since the non-EPIRA separated members do pay for legal services unless he can, with the sanction of
not claim any damage or injury caused by the execution law, make a contract for a contingent fee to be paid out
of the RTC Order dated 15 May 2006. Even assuming of the proceeds of litigation. Oftentimes, the contingent
that respondents would probably suffer damages as fee arrangement is the only means by which the poor
administrators or custodians of the NAPOCOR Welfare clients can have their rights vindicated and upheld."
Fund if the writ of preliminary injunction was not Further, such contracts are sanctioned by Canon 13 of
granted, our ruling would still be the same. We have held the Canons of Professional Ethics.47
that the possibility of irreparable damage without proof However, in cases where contingent fees are sanctioned
of an actual existing right is not a ground for the issuance by law, the same should be reasonable under all the
of a writ of preliminary injunction.42Given these circumstances of the case, and should always be subject
considerations, we hold that the issuance by the Court to the supervision of a court, as to its reasonableness,
of Appeals of a writ of preliminary injunction in favor of such that under Canon 20 of the Code of Professional
respondents in its Resolution, dated 31 October 2006, Responsibility, a lawyer is tasked to charge only fair and
was reasonable fees.48
With regard to his second assigned error, petitioner A stipulation on a lawyer’s compensation in a written
maintained that his claim for attorney’s fees equivalent contract for professional services ordinarily controls the
to 15% of the ₱119,196,000.00 estimated corrected amount of fees that the contracting lawyer may be
earnings differential due the non-EPIRA separated allowed, unless the court finds such stipulated amount
members was not unreasonable or unconscionable to be unreasonable or unconscionable. If the stipulated
because such amount was expressly agreed upon in the amount for attorney’s fees is excessive, the contract may
Compromise Agreement between the non-EPIRA be disregarded even if the client expressed their
separated members and respondents. The Compromise conformity thereto.49 Attorney’s fees are unconscionable
Agreement was submitted to the RTC for approval if they affront one’s sense of justice, decency or
through the joint motion of the non-EPIRA separated reasonableness, or if they are so disproportionate to the
members and respondents, and the RTC had rendered a value of the services rendered. In such a case, courts are
final and executory decision approving the same. By empowered to reduce the attorney’s fee or fix a
virtue of res judicata, the Court of Appeals cannot alter reasonable amount thereof taking into consideration the
or change the terms of the Compromise Agreement by surrounding circumstances and the established
prohibiting petitioner from collecting his stipulated parameters.50
amount of attorney’s fees.43 The principle of quantum meruit (as much as he
Petitioner also avers that the amount of ₱17,794,572.70, deserves) may be a basis for determining the reasonable
which is equivalent to 15% of the ₱119,196,000.00 amount of attorney’s fees. Quantum meruit is a device
estimated corrected earnings differential due the non- to prevent undue enrichment based on the equitable
EPIRA separated members from the NAPOCOR Welfare postulate that it is unjust for a person to retain benefit
Fund is already the total, not partial, amount he is without paying for it. It is applicable even if there was a
claiming as attorney’s fees; that the ₱119,196,000.00 formal written contract for attorney’s fees as long as the
estimated corrected earnings differential due the non- agreed fee was found by the court to be unconscionable.
EPIRA separated members from the NAPOCOR Welfare In fixing a reasonable compensation for the services
Fund is not hypothetical, such amount having been rendered by a lawyer on the basis of quantum meruit,
actually computed and fixed by respondents themselves factors such as the time spent, and extent of services
without the participation of petitioner and his clients, the rendered; novelty and difficulty of the questions

21 | P a g e
involved; importance of the subject matter; skill whatever amounts/monies are recovered in favor of said
demanded; probability of losing other employment as a NPC personnel contingent on the success of the
result of acceptance of the proferred case; customary case. Atty. Aldon and Atty. Orocio filed a Motion for
charges for similar services; amount involved in the Approval of Charging (Attorney’s) Lien pursuant to the
controversy and the benefits resulting to the client; legal retainer agreement. Although we granted the said
certainty of compensation; character of employment; motion, we reduced the amount of attorney’s fees which
and professional standing of the lawyer, may be was chargeable on the monies recoverable by the NPC
considered.51 employees from 25% to 10% because:
It appears that the non-EPIRA separated members chose While we duly recognize the right of Atty. Aldon and Atty.
petitioner as their counsel because the latter, as former Orocio to a charging lien on the amounts recoverable by
member of the NAPOCOR-WFBT for two terms or four petitioners pursuant to our 26 September 2006 Decision,
years, is familiar and knowledgeable on the operation of nevertheless, we deem it proper to reduce the same.
the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund.52 Yet, according to the Under Section 24, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a
contingency fee contract agreement between petitioner written contract for services shall control the amount to
and the non-EPIRA separated members, petitioner be paid therefor unless found by the court to be
received no acceptance fee and appearance/meeting fee unconscionable or unreasonable. The amounts which
when he took on the non-EPIRA separated members’ petitioners may recover as the logical and necessary
case. Petitioner’s attorney’s fees were absolutely consequence of our Decision of 26 September 2006, i.e.,
dependent on the success of non-EPIRA separated backwages and separation pay (in lieu of reinstatement),
members’ claim on the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund. Despite are essentially the same awards which we grant to
these circumstances, petitioner worked diligently in illegally dismissed employees in the private sector. In
advocating the claims of the non-EPIRA separated such cases, our Labor Code explicitly limits attorney’s
members against respondents as shown by the fees to a maximum of 10% of the recovered amount.
following: (1) petitioner took pains in verifying the Considering by analogy the said limit on attorney’s fees
identity and claim of each of the 559 non-EPIRA in this case of illegal dismissal of petitioners by
separated members on the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund; (2) respondent NPC, a government-owned and controlled
petitioner prepared and filed a well-researched and well- corporation; plus the facts that petitioners have suffered
argued petition with the RTC for the claims of the non- deprivation of their means of livelihood for the last five
EPIRA separated members;53 (3) he prepared and years; and the fact that this case was originally filed
presented several witnesses and numerous pertinent before us, without any judicial or administrative
documents before the RTC in support of their application proceedings below; as well as the fundamental ethical
for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or principle that the practice of law is a profession and not
writ of preliminary injunction against respondents’ plan a commercial enterprise, we approve in favor of Atty.
to exclude the non-EPIRA separated members from Aldon and Atty. Orocio a charging lien of 10% (instead
receiving their shares in the NAPOCOR Welfare Fund; (4) of 25%) on the amounts recoverable by petitioners from
he participated, as non-EPIRA separated members’ NPC pursuant to our Decision dated 26 September 2006.
counsel, in the conduct of several hearings regarding the The abovementioned case may be reasonably applied by
said application for the issuance of temporary restraining analogy in the instant case since they have substantially
order and/or writ of preliminary injunction;54 (5) he similar circumstances. In the case before us, although
obtained a temporary restraining order and a writ of the non-EPIRA separated members were not illegally
preliminary injunction from the RTC which dismissed, they were, nevertheless, separated from
enjoined/prohibited respondents from excluding the work by reason of EPIRA. In addition, the non-EPIRA
non-EPIRA separated members from their shares in the separated members had a legal retainer
NAPOCOR Welfare Fund;55 (6) he held numerous agreement/contingency fee contract with petitioner as
conferences with the non-EPIRA separated members their counsel.
wherein he apprised the latter of the status of their It should also be emphasized that the practice of law is
claims and his legal strategies pertinent thereto;56 and a profession not a moneymaking venture. A lawyer is not
(7) he exerted utmost efforts which eventually led to the merely the defender of his client’s cause and a trustee of
execution of the Compromise Agreement between the his client’s cause of action and assets; he is also, and
non-EPIRA separated members and respondents. first and foremost, an officer of the court and participates
By reason of petitioner’s dedication and persistence as in the fundamental function of administering justice in
can be gleaned above, respondents finally agreed to society. It follows that a lawyer’s compensation for
settle amicably with the non-EPIRA separated members professional services rendered is subject to the
as regards the latter’s claim for shares in the NAPOCOR supervision of the court, not just to guarantee that the
Welfare Fund by virtue of the Compromise Agreement. fees he charges and receives remain reasonable and
Undoubtedly, were it not for petitioner’s vigilance and commensurate with the services rendered, but also to
zeal, respondents would not have executed the maintain the dignity and integrity of the legal profession
Compromise Agreement with the non-EPIRA separated to which he belongs. Upon taking his attorney’s oath as
members. Hence, it is fair to conclude that petitioner was an officer of the court, a lawyer submits himself to the
entitled to a reasonably high compensation. authority of the courts to regulate his right to charge
However, petitioner’s attorney’s fees in the amount of professional fees.58
₱17,794,572.70 or equivalent to 15% of the ₱ Thus, taking into account the foregoing circumstances
119,196,000.00 corrected earnings differential of the and recognized principles, the 15% attorney’s fees of
non-EPIRA separated members should be equitably petitioner should be reduced to 10%. As such,
reduced. petitioner is entitled to collect only, as attorney’s fees,
In NPC Drivers and Mechanics Association (NPC DAMA) an amount equivalent to 10% of
v. The National Power Corporation (NPC),57 we awarded the ₱119,196,000.00 or ₱11,919,600.00.
separation pay in lieu of reinstatement plus backwages We note, however, that the compromise agreement was
to several NPC employees because they were illegally partially implemented in the first week of April 2006 with
dismissed by the NPC. The NPC employees were the payment of ₱23,416,000.00 to some non-EPIRA
represented by a certain Atty. Cornelio P. Aldon (Atty. separated members.59 Petitioner admitted having
Aldon) and Atty. Victoriano V. Orocio, (the petitioner in already received an amount of ₱3,512,007.32 as his
the instant cases) under a legal retainer agreement attorney’s fees on the said partial payment of
which provides: (1) no acceptance fee; (2) ₱23,416,000.00.60 Accordingly, the amount of
miscellaneous/out of pocket expenses in the amount of ₱3,512,007.32 received by petitioner as attorney’s fees
₱25,000.00; and (3) twenty-five percent (25%) of should be deducted from the fixed 10% attorney’s fees

22 | P a g e
or the amount of ₱11,919,600.00. Per computation, A.C. No. 5859 (Formerly CBD Case No. 421),
petitioner is entitled to recover the amount November 23, 2010
of ₱8,407,592.68 as attorney’s fees. ATTY. CARMEN LEONOR M. ALCANTARA, VICENTE
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Resolution of P. MERCADO, et al., VS ATTY. EDUARDO C. DE VERA
the Court of Appeals dated 31 October 2006 in CA-G.R. PER CURIAM:
SP Nos. 95786 and 95946 granting the issuance of a writ For our review is the Resolution[1]of the Board of
of preliminary injunction is hereby ANNULLED and SET Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
ASIDE. The Decision and Resolution, dated 29 January finding respondent Atty. Eduardo C. De Vera liable for
2007 and 27 September 2007, respectively, of the Court professional malpractice and gross misconduct and
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 95786 and 95946 are recommending his disbarment.
hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that The facts, as appreciated by the investigating
petitioner is entitled to recover attorney’s fees in the commissioner,[2]are undisputed.
amount of ₱8,407,592.68 on the corrected earnings The respondent is a member of the Bar and was the
differential of the non-EPIRA separated members. No former counsel of Rosario P. Mercado in a civil case filed
costs. in 1984 with the Regional Trial Court of Davao City and
SO ORDERED. an administrative case filed before the Securities and
Exchange Commission, Davao City Extension Office.[3]
Pursuant to a favorable decision, a writ of execution
pending appeal was issued in favor of Rosario P.
Mercado. Herein respondent, as her legal counsel,
garnished the bank deposits of the defendant, but did
not turn over the proceeds
to Rosario. Rosario demanded that the respondent turn
over the proceeds of the garnishment, but the latter
refused claiming that he had paid part of the money to
the judge while the balance was his, as attorneys
fees. Such refusal prompted Rosario to file an
administrative case for disbarment against the
On March 23, 1993, the IBP Board of Governors
promulgated a Resolution holding the respondent guilty
of infidelity in the custody and handling of clients funds
and recommending to the Court his one-year suspension
from the practice of law.[5]
Following the release of the aforesaid IBP Resolution, the
respondent filed a series of lawsuits against the Mercado
family except George Mercado. The respondent also
instituted cases against the family corporation, the
corporations accountant and the judge who ruled against
the reopening of the case where respondent tried to
collect the balance of his alleged fee from Rosario. Later
on, the respondent also filed cases against the chairman
and members of the IBP Board of Governors who voted
to recommend his suspension from the practice of law
for one year. Complainants allege that the respondent
committed barratry, forum shopping, exploitation of
family problems, and use of intemperate language when
he filed several frivolous and unwarranted lawsuits
against the complainants and their family members,
their lawyers, and the family corporation.[6]They
maintain that the primary purpose of the cases is to
harass and to exact revenge for the one-year suspension
from the practice of law meted out by the IBP against
the respondent. Thus, they pray that the respondent be
disbarred for malpractice and gross misconduct under
Section 27,[7]Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
In his defense the respondent basically offers a denial of
the charges against him.
He denies he has committed barratry by instigating or
stirring up George Mercado to file lawsuits against the
complainants. He insists that the lawsuits that he and
George filed against the complainants were not
harassment suits but were in fact filed in good faith and
were based on strong facts.[8]
Also, the respondent denies that he has engaged in
forum shopping. He argues that he was merely
exhausting the remedies allowed by law and that he was
merely constrained to seek relief elsewhere by reason of
the denial of the trial court to reopen the civil case so he
could justify his attorneys fees.
Further, he denies that he had exploited the problems of
his clients family. He argues that the case that he and
George Mercado filed against the complainants arose
from their perception of unlawful transgressions
committed by the latter for which they must be held
accountable for the public interest.

23 | P a g e
Finally, the respondent denies using any intemperate, find that the barrage of cases filed by the respondent
vulgar, or unprofessional language. On the contrary, he against his former client and others close to her was
asserts that it was the complainants who resorted to meant to overwhelm said client and to show her that the
intemperate and vulgar language in accusing him of respondent does not fold easily after he was meted a
extorting from Rosario shocking and unconscionable penalty of one year suspension from the practice of law.
attorneys fees.[9] The nature of the cases filed by the respondent, the fact
After careful consideration of the records of this case and of re-filing them after being dismissed, the timing of the
the parties submissions, we find ourselves in agreement filing of cases, the fact that the respondent was in
with the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board conspiracy with a renegade member of the complainants
of Governors. family, the defendants named in the cases and the foul
It is worth stressing that language used in the pleadings and motions[15]all
the practice of law is not a right but a privilege indicate that the respondent was acting beyond the
bestowed by the State upon those who show that they desire for justice and fairness. His act of filing a barrage
possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications of cases appears to be an act of revenge and hate driven
required by law for the conferment of such by anger and frustration against his former client who
privilege.[10] Membership in the bar is a privilege filed the disciplinary complaint against him for infidelity
burdened with conditions. A lawyer has the privilege and in the custody of a clients funds.
right to practice law only during good behavior and can In the case of Prieto v. Corpuz,[16]the Court pronounced
only be deprived of it for misconduct ascertained and that it is professionally irresponsible for a lawyer to file
declared by judgment of the court after opportunity to frivolous lawsuits. Thus, we stated in Prieto,
be heard has been afforded him. Without invading any Atty. Marcos V. Prieto must be sanctioned for filing this
constitutional privilege or right, an attorneys right to unfounded complaint. Although no person should be
practice law may be resolved by a proceeding to suspend penalized for the exercise of the right to litigate,
or disbar him, based on conduct rendering him unfit to however, this right must be exercised in good faith.[17]
hold a license or to exercise the duties and As officers of the court, lawyers have a responsibility to
responsibilities of an attorney. It must be understood assist in the proper administration of justice. They do
that the purpose of suspending or disbarring an attorney not discharge this duty by filing frivolous petitions that
is to remove from the profession a person whose only add to the workload of the judiciary.
misconduct has proved him unfit to be entrusted with the A lawyer is part of the machinery in the administration
duties and responsibilities belonging to an office of an of justice. Like the court itself, he is an instrument to
attorney, and thus to protect the public and those advance its ends the speedy, efficient, impartial, correct
charged with the administration of justice, rather than to and inexpensive adjudication of cases and the prompt
punish the attorney.[11]In Maligsa v. Cabanting,[12]we satisfaction of final judgments. A lawyer should not only
explained that the bar should maintain a high standard help attain these objectives but should likewise avoid
of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair any unethical or improper practices that impede,
dealing. A lawyer brings honor to the legal profession by obstruct or prevent their realization, charged as he is
faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to with the primary task of assisting in the speedy and
the courts and to his clients. To this end a member of efficient administration of justice.[18]Canon 12 of the
the legal profession should refrain from doing any act Code of Professional Responsibility promulgated on 21
which might lessen in any degree the confidence and June 1988 is very explicit that lawyers must exert every
trust reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty and effort and consider it their duty to assist in the speedy
integrity of the legal profession. An attorney may be and efficient administration of justice.
disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath or of Further, the respondent not only filed frivolous and
his duties as an attorney and counselor, which include unfounded lawsuits that violated his duties as an officer
statutory grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the court in aiding in the proper administration of
of the Rules of Court. justice, but he did so against a former client to whom he
In the present case, the respondent committed owes loyalty and fidelity. Canon 21 and Rule 21.02 of
professional malpractice and gross misconduct the Code of Professional Responsibility[19]provides:
particularly in his acts against his former clients after the CANON 21 - A lawyer shall preserve the confidence and
issuance of the IBP Resolution suspending him from the secrets of his client even after the attorney-client
practice of law for one year. In summary, the respondent relation is terminated.
filed against his former client, her family members, the Rule 21.02 A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his
family corporation of his former client, the Chairman and client, use information acquired in the course of
members of the Board of Governors of the IBP who employment, nor shall he use the same to his own
issued the said Resolution, the Regional Trial Court Judge advantage or that of a third person, unless the client with
in the case where his former client received a favorable full knowledge of the circumstances consents thereto.
judgment, and the present counsel of his former client, a The cases filed by the respondent against his former
total of twelve (12) different cases in various fora which client involved matters and information acquired by the
included the Securities and Exchange Commission; the respondent during the time when he was still Rosarios
Provincial Prosecutors Office of Tagum, Davao; the counsel. Information as to the structure and operations
Davao City Prosecutors Office; the IBP-Commission on of the family corporation, private documents, and other
Bar Discipline; the Department of Agrarian Reform; and pertinent facts and figures used as basis or in support of
the Supreme Court.[13] the cases filed by the respondent in pursuit of his
In addition to the twelve (12) cases filed, the respondent malicious motives were all acquired through the
also re-filed cases which had previously been dismissed. attorney-client relationship with herein complainants.
The respondent filed six criminal cases against members Such act is in direct violation of the Canons and will not
of the Mercado family separately docketed as I.S. Nos. be tolerated by the Court.
97-135; 97-136; 97-137; 97-138; 97-139; and 97- WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Eduardo C. De Vera is
140. With the exception of I.S. No. 97-139, all the hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law effective
aforementioned cases are re-filing of previously immediately upon his receipt of this Resolution.
dismissed cases.[14] Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Bar
Now, there is nothing ethically remiss in a lawyer who Confidant to be spread on the records of the respondent;
files numerous cases in different fora, as long as he does the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to
so in good faith, in accordance with the Rules, and all its chapters; and the Office of the Court Administrator
without any ill-motive or purpose other than to achieve for dissemination to all courts throughout the country.
justice and fairness. In the present case, however, we SO ORDERED.

24 | P a g e
[A.C. No. 5834. December 11, 2003] Complainant further averred that respondent told her to
TERESITA D. SANTECO, complainant, vs. ATTY. go to the court to claim the check for
LUNA B. AVANCE, respondent. the supersedeas bond and have the same encashed with
DECISION the Landbank. However, upon verification with the MTC,
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: she discovered that there was no such check and that
The relationship between a lawyer and a client is highly she needs to present the official receipt to withdraw said
fiduciary; it requires a high degree of fidelity and good deposit. She tried to recover the official receipt from
faith.[1] The Code of Professional Responsibility states: respondent but the latter kept avoiding her.
CANON 17. A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO CAUSE OF HIS Thus, complainant filed an action against respondent
CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM. of Barangay Nangka, Marikina City. Respondent,
CANON 18. A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH however, repeatedly failed to appear at the conciliation
COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE. proceedings, despite notice of the hearings, prompting
We are once again called upon to reiterate these dicta in the Lupong Tagapayapa, to issue a certification to file
the instant administrative matter before us. action.[10] Since then, respondent persistently avoided
On July 31, 2001, Teresita D. Santeco filed a Verified complainant and failed to represent her in Civil Cases
Complaint[2] with the Committee on Bar Discipline of the Nos. 50988 and 97-275. According to complainant,
Integrated Bar of the Philippines praying that respondent just stopped appearing as her counsel of
appropriate sanctions be meted on respondent Atty. record without any justifiable reason.Hence, she prayed
Luna B. Avance for mishandling Civil Case No. 97-275. that appropriate sanctions be meted on respondent.
Complainant averred that she was the defendant in an After the filing of the administrative complaint, docketed
action for ejectment docketed as Civil Case No. 50988 as CBD Case No. 01-861, an Order dated August 1,
filed with Branch 62 of the Makati City Metropolitan Trial 2001[11] was issued by the Commission on Bar Discipline
Court (MTC). On March 3, 1997, the trial court rendered requiring respondent to submit her Answer within fifteen
judgment against her. Thereafter, she filed (15) days from receipt thereof. A copy of said Order was
a supersedeas bond with the Clerk of Court of received by respondent on August 8, 2001. Respondent
the Makati MTC. failed to file her Answer, which compelled complainant
Sometime in February 1997, during the pendency of to file a Motion To Declare Respondent In Default And To
the ejectment case, complainant filed an action to Set Case For Hearing Ex Parte.[12] She furnished
Declare Deed of Absolute Sale Null and Void and for respondent copy of the motion by personal service. The
Reconveyance with Damages with Branch 147 of copy was received by one Kins Avance on October 3,
the Makati City Regional Trial Court. The case was 2001.[13]
entitled, Feliciana David Santeco, et al. v. Ramon Respondent still failed to file her Answer. Thus, the
Gutierrez, et al., and docketed as Civil Case No. 97-275. Commission on Bar Discipline issued an Order
On or before March 1998, complainant terminated the dated October 30, 2001 setting the case for hearing
services of her then counsel and engaged the services of on November 20, 2001. This Order was received by
respondent Atty. Luna B. Avance as her respondent on November 8, 2001, as reflected in the
counsel de parte in both cases.Complainant agreed to Registry Return Receipt thereof.
and did pay respondent P12,000.00 as acceptance fee On the scheduled hearing on November 20, 2001, only
for her services.[3] the complainant appeared.[14] In order to abbreviate
In June 1997 and August 2000, complainant paid proceedings, the Commission on Bar Discipline issued an
respondent the sums of P1,500.00 and P500.00 Order[15] requiring both parties to submit their respective
respectively in full satisfaction of their acceptance memoranda within twenty (20) days from receipt, after
fee. However, respondent refused to issue to which the case shall be deemed submitted for decision
complainant the corresponding receipts therefor, despite with or without memoranda.Respondent received a copy
demands to do so. of the Order on November 27, 2001, per the Registry
In an Order dated July 6, 1998 in Civil Case No. 97-275, Return Receipt.
the Presiding Judge of Branch 147 of the Makati City RTC Pursuant to the foregoing Order, complainant filed her
expunged from the record the testimony of a witness for Position Paper on December 13, 2001.[16] Again,
complainant, who was one of the plaintiffs respondent did not file her memorandum.
therein.[4] Respondent, as her counsel, filed a Motion to On March 14, 2002, Investigating Commissioner Lydia A.
Reconsider and/or Set Aside Order of July 6, 1998.[5] The Navarro submitted a Report finding respondent culpable
motion was denied by the trial court in an Order as charged and recommended that she be suspended
dated June 30, 1999.[6] Thereafter, on August 27, from the practice of law for two (2) years. She found
1999,[7] Civil Case No. 97-275 was dismissed for failure that:
to prosecute. Respondent filed a Motion to Reconsider As it is, respondent violated Canon 16 of the Code of
and/or Set Aside Order of August 27, 1999.[8] Professional Responsibility for having failed to account to
Subsequently, respondent made representations with the complainant the official receipt of
complainant that she was going to file a petition for the supersedeas bond she got from complainant to
certiorari with the Court of Appeals, assailing the withdrew (sic) the same from the court relative to
dismissal of Civil Case No. 97-275. For the proposed the ejectment case.
service, respondent charged complainant the total sum Respondent also violated Canon 18.03 for having failed
of P3,900.00, which the latter paid.[9] After waiting for to file the [petition for] certiorari before the Court of
some time without any word from respondent, Appeals as she promised the complainant and even got
complainant personally verified with the docket section litigation expenses relative to the same.
of the Court of Appeals whether or not a petition Likewise, respondent violated Canon 20 when she
for certiorari was filed. She was dismayed to discover discontinued her legal services for complainant without
that no such petition had been filed. any notice of withdrawal and even ignored the issuances
Complainant also alleged that respondent took from her of the Commission for her to answer the complaint filed
the official receipt and pictures of the torn-down against her.
structures which were the subject of Civil Case No. On August 3, 2002, the Board of Governors of the
50988, issued by the Clerk of Court of Branch 62 of Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued Resolution No.
the Makati City MTC, evidencing her deposit of XV-02-408, adopting and approving the report and
the supersedeas bond. Respondent obtained the same recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.
under the pretext that she needed them in the motion
for the withdrawal of complainants deposit.

25 | P a g e
While we agree that indeed respondent is liable, we find pending with neither a withdrawal nor an explanation for
the recommended penalty not commensurate to the doing so. This was in gross violation of the following:
degree of her malfeasance. CANON 22. A LAWYER SHALL WITHDRAW HIS
There can be no question that respondent was grossly SERVICES ONLY FOR GOOD CAUSE AND UPON
remiss in the performance of her duties as counsel for NOTICE APPROPRIATE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES. (Italics
complainant. The records show that in engaging the supplied)
services of respondent, complainant agreed to and did It must be remembered that while the right of the client
pay respondent P12,000.00 as acceptance fee.[17] It also to terminate the relation is absolute, i.e., with or without
appears that on April 20, 1998, a witness for cause,[25] the right of the attorney to withdraw or
complainant in Civil Case No. 97-275 testified before the terminate the relation other than for sufficient cause is
court on direct examination. For lack of material time, considerably restricted.[26] Among the fundamental rules
the cross-examination was reset to June 1, of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes
1998. However, the witness failed to attend the hearing to conduct an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its
on the said date. Respondent, on the other hand, arrived termination.[27] He is not at liberty to abandon it without
late. Over the vehement objections of defense counsel, reasonable cause.[28]
the trial court reset the hearing to July 6, 1998, with the The grounds wherein a lawyer may withdraw his services
warning that in the event the witness fails to appear on are well-defined,[29] and the abruptness of respondents
said date, her direct examination shall be expunged. The withdrawal hardly fits into any of them. Be that as it
witness again failed to appear at the next hearing may, whether or not a lawyer has a valid cause for
because she went to Baguio. Respondent was likewise withdrawing from a case, he can not just do so and leave
not around when the case was called. Thus, on motion the client out in the cold unprotected.[30] An attorney
of adverse counsel, the trial court ordered that the may only retire from a case either by written consent of
testimony of the witness be stricken off the record.[18] his client or by permission of the court after due notice
These incidents show respondents lackadaisical manner and hearing, in which event the lawyer should see to it
in handling her clients cause. Again, for respondents that the name of the new counsel is recorded in the
failure to appear during the hearings scheduled on case.[31]
August 23 and 27, 1999, Civil Case No. 97-275 was Respondents consistent refusal to comply with lawful
dismissed for failure to prosecute.[19] Her failure to orders in the proceedings before the Commission on Bar
appear during those hearings constitutes inexcusable Discipline, with no explanation offered to justify them,
negligence as it proved fatal to the cause of not only underscores her utter lack of respect for
complainant.[20] She thereafter filed a Motion to authority, but also a defiance for law and order which is
Reconsider and/or Set Aside Order of August 27, 1999 at the very core of her profession. Such defiance is
on February 8, 2000[21] way beyond anathema to those who seek a career in the
the reglementary period for the filing thereof. She administration of justice because obedience to the
proffered the lame excuse that notices sent to her were dictates of the law and justice is demanded of every
returned to the trial court with the notation: lawyer. How else would respondent even endeavor to
Moved.[22] However, it was her duty to notify the court serve justice and uphold the law when she disdains to
of the change in her address, if she had indeed moved. follow even simple directives? The first and foremost
Even as the aforesaid motion for reconsideration was command of the Code of Professional Responsibility
pending, she made representations with complainant could not be any clearer:
that she would file a petition for certiorari with the Court CANON 1. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE
of Appeals assailing the trial courts dismissal of Civil CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND
Case No. 97-275. For the filing and preparation thereof, PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LEGAL PROCESSES.
she charged and was paid the sum of P3,900.00 by The inevitable conclusion is that respondent gravely
complainant.[23] Respondent, however, did notfile the abused the confidence that complainant reposed in her
petition without notifying the complainant. and with palpable bad faith. Her persistent refusal to
Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility comply with lawful orders directed at her without any
mandates that a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter explanation for doing so, is contumacious conduct which
entrusted to him. Her negligence in connection therewith merits no compassion.
shall render her liable. Verily A lawyer has the duty to uphold the integrity and dignity
Once he agrees to take up the cause of a client, a lawyer of the legal profession at all times and
owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful to faithfully perform her duties to society, to the bar, to
of the trust and confidence reposed in him. He must the courts and to her clients.[32] We can not tolerate any
serve the client with competence and diligence and misconduct that tends to besmirch the fair name of an
champion the latters cause with wholehearted fidelity, honorable profession.
care and devotion. Elsewise stated, he owes entire All told, respondent has dismally failed to do her duty to
devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal in the her client and has clearly violated the Code of
maintenance and defense of his clients rights, and the Professional Responsibility. Respondents actions erode
exertion of his utmost learning and ability to the end that the public perception of the legal profession. They
nothing be taken or withheld from his client, save by the constitute gross misconduct, and the sanctions for such
rules of law, legally applied. This simply means that his malfeasance is provided by Section 27, Rule 138 of the
client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy Rules of Court which states:
and defense that is authorized by the law of the land and SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by
he may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy Supreme Court, grounds therefore. A member of the bar
or defense. If much is demanded from an attorney, it is may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
with it the correlative duties not only to the client but malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office,
also to the court, to the bar and to the public. A lawyer grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction
who performs his duty with diligence and candor not only of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation
protects the interest of his client; he also serves the ends of the oath which he is required to take before the
of justice, does honor to the bar and helps maintain the admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience
respect of the community to the legal profession.[24] appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do
Aggravating her gross negligence in the performance of so.
her duties, respondent abruptly stopped appearing as The penalty of suspension for a period of two (2) years
complainants counsel even as proceedings were still recommended by the Board of Governors of the IBP is
too light and inadequate given the prevailing facts of this

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case. For the deliberate violation and defiance of not
merely one but several Canons of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, coupled with palpable bad
faith and dishonesty in her dealings with complainant,
respondent deserves a graver penalty that of suspension
for a period of five (5) years from the practice of law.[33]
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, respondent
ATTY. LUNA B. AVANCE is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of five (5) years. She is
directed to return to complainant the amount of
P3,900.00 within ten (10) days from notice.
This decision shall take effect immediately. Copies
thereof shall be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant,
to be appended to respondents personal record. The
Court Administrator shall also furnish all lower courts
with copies of this Decision.

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