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Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

CAYETANO vs. MONSOD in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings,


G.R. No. 100113, September 3, 1991 and conducting proceedings in attachment,
and in matters of estate and guardianship
Facts: Respondent Christian Monsod was have been held to constitute law practice.
nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino Practice of law means any activity, in or out
to the position of chairman of the COMELEC. court, which requires the application of law,
Petitioner opposed the nomination because legal procedure, knowledge, training and
allegedly Monsod does not possess required experience.
qualification of having been engaged in the
The contention that Atty. Monsod does not
practice of law for at least ten years. The 1987
possesses the required qualification of
constitution provides in Section 1, Article IX-
having engaged in the practice of law for at
C: There shall be a Commission on Elections
least ten years is incorrect since Atty.
composed of a Chairman and six
Monsod’s past work experience as a lawyer-
Commissioners who shall be natural-born
economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-
citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of
entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator
their appointment, at least thirty-five years of
of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both
age, holders of a college degree, and must
rich and the poor – verily more than satisfy
not have been candidates for any elective
the constitutional requirement for the
position in the immediately preceding
position of COMELEC chairman, The
elections. However, a majority thereof,
respondent has been engaged in the practice
including the Chairman, shall be members of
of law for at least ten years does In the view
the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in
of the foregoing, the petition is DISMISSED.
the practice of law for at least ten years.
SECOND DIVISION [ A.C. No. 5737,
Issue: Whether the respondent does not
October 25, 2004]
posses the required qualification of having
FERDINAND A. CRUZ, COMPLAINANT,
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten
VS.
years. ATTY. STANLEY CABRERA, RESPONDENT.
Held: In the case of Philippine Lawyers
Association vs. Agrava, stated: The practice of Facts: Complainant alleges that he is a fourth
law is not limited to the conduct of cases or year law student; since the latter part of 2001,
he instituted several actions against his
litigation in court; it embraces the
neighbors; he appeared for and in his behalf
preparation of pleadings and other papers
in his own cases; he met respondent who
incident to actions and special proceeding,
acted as the counsel of his neighbors; during
the management of such actions and a hearing on January 14, 2002, in one case
proceedings on behalf of clients before before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 112,
judges and courts, and in addition, Pasay City, presided by Judge Caridad
conveying. In general, all advice to clients, Cuerdo.
and all action taken for them in matters
connected with the law incorporation Respondent’s imputations were uncalled for
services, assessment and condemnation and the latter’s act of compelling the court to
services, contemplating an appearance ask complainant whether he is a lawyer or not
before judicial body, the foreclosure of was intended to malign him before the
mortgage, enforcement of a creditor’s claim public, inasmuch as respondent knew that
complainant is not a lawyer, having appeared

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Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

for and in his behalf as a party litigant in prior that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney.
cases; respondent’s imputations of In any other court, a party may conduct his
complainant’s misrepresentation as a lawyer litigation personally or by aid of an attorney,
was patently with malice to discredit his and his appearance must be either personal
honor, with the intention to threaten him not or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
to appear anymore in cases respondent was
handling; the manner, substance, tone of 3. The practice of law, though impossible to
voice and how the words “appear ka ng define exactly, involves the exercise of a
appear, pumasa ka muna!” were uttered were profession or vocation usually for gain,
totally with the intention to annoy, vex and mainly as attorney by acting in a
humiliate, malign, ridicule, incriminate and representative capacity and as counsel by
discredit complainant before the public. rendering legal advise to others. Private
practice has been defined by this Court as
Issue: Whether or not respondent violated follows:
Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional x x x. Practice is more than an isolated
Responsibility appearance, for it consists in frequent or
customary action, a succession of acts of the
Whether or not complainant is not precluded same kind. In other words, it is frequent
from litigating personally his cases habitual exercise. Practice of law to fall within
the prohibition of statute [referring to the
Whether or not complainant is engaged in prohibition for judges and other officials or
the practice of law employees of the superior courts or of the
Office of the Solicitor General from engaging
Ruling: 1. We hold that respondent’s in private practice] has been interpreted as
outburst of “appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka customarily or habitually holding one’s self
muna” does not amount to a violation of Rule out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding
8.01 of the Code of Professional payment for such services. x x x.
Responsibility. Such single outburst, though
uncalled for, is not of such magnitude as to Clearly, in appearing for herself, complainant
warrant respondent’s suspension or reproof. was not customarily or habitually holding
It is but a product of impulsiveness or the herself out to the public as a lawyer. Neither
heat of the moment in the course of an was she demanding payment for such
argument between them. It has been said services. Hence, she cannot be said to be in
that lawyers should not be held to too strict the practice of law.
an account for words said in the heat of the
moment, because of chagrin at losing cases, On the other hand, all lawyers should take
and that the big way is for the court to heed that lawyers are licensed officers of the
condone even contemptuous language. courts who are empowered to appear,
prosecute and defend; and upon whom
2. Nonetheless, we remind respondent that peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities
complainant is not precluded from litigating are devolved by law as a consequence.
personally his cases. A party’s right to Membership in the bar imposes upon them
conduct litigation personally is recognized by certain obligations. Mandated to maintain
Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court: the dignity of the legal profession, they must
SEC. 34. By whom litigation conducted. — In conduct themselves honorably and fairly.
the court of a justice of the peace a party may Though a lawyer’s language may be forceful
conduct his litigation in person, with the aid and emphatic, it should always be dignified
of an agent or friend appointed by him for and respectful, befitting the dignity of the

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legal profession. The use of intemperate a. Rule 15.03 of the Code of


language and unkind ascriptions has no Professional Responsibility- guilty of
place in the dignity of judicial forum. representing conflicting interests.
Respondent, being the former Personnel
A.C. No. 6705 March 31, 2006 Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat,
RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO vsATTY. CARLOS knew the operations of Taggat very well.
SAGUCIO Respondent should have inhibited himself
from hearing, investigating and deciding the
DOCTRINE: the law does not distinguish case filed by Taggat employees.
between consultancy services and retainer b. Engaging in the private practice of
agreement. For as long as respondent law while working as a government
performed acts that are usually rendered by prosecutor- Engaging in the private practice
lawyers with the use of their legal knowledge, of law while working as a government
the same falls within the ambit of the term prosecutor. He received retainer’s fees which
"practice of law." respondent claims to only consultation fees.
6. Complainant seeks the disbarment of
FACTS: 1. Ruthie Lim-Santiago respondent for the violations committed.
("complainant") is the daughter of Alfonso 7. Respondent claims that when the
Lim and Special Administratrix of his estate. criminal complaint was filed, respondent had
Alfonso Lim is a stockholder and the former resigned from Taggat for more than five
President of Taggat Industries, Inc, a years and refutes complainant’s allegations
domestic corporation engaged in the and counters that complainant was merely
operation of timber concessions from the aggrieved by the resolution of the criminal
government. PCGG sequestered it and its complaint which was adverse and contrary to
operations ceased. her expectation.
2. Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio ("respondent") 8. Respondent points out that
was the former Personnel Manager and complainant did not file a motion to inhibit
Retained Counsel of Taggat Industries, Inc. respondent from hearing the criminal
until his appointment as Assistant Provincial complaint and states that complainant’s
Prosecutor of Tuguegarao, Cagayan. reason in not filing a motion to inhibit was
3. employees of Taggat ("Taggat her impression that respondent would
employees") filed a criminal complaint exonerate her from the charges filed
entitled "Jesus Tagorda, Jr. et al. v. Ruthie 9. While this disbarment case was
Lim-Santiago," docketed as I.S. No. 97-240 pending, the Resolution and Order issued by
("criminal complaint"). Taggat employees respondent to file 651 Informations against
alleged that complainant, who took over the complainant was reversed and set aside by
management and control of Taggat after the Regional State Prosecutor. Hence, the
death of her father, withheld payment of criminal complaint was dismissed.
their salaries and wages without valid cause
4. Respondent, as Assistant Provincial ISSUE: Whether or not respondent was
Prosecutor, was assigned to conduct the engaged in private practice of law while
preliminary investigation. He resolved the being a public official.
criminal complaint by recommending the
filing of 651 Informations for violation of HELD: YES. Government prosecutors are
Article 288 in relation to Article 116 of the prohibited to engage in the private practice
Labor Code of the Philippines. of law. The act of being a legal consultant is
5. Complainant now charges a practice of law. To engage in the practice of
respondent with the following violations: law is to do any of those acts that are

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characteristic of the legal profession. It related and Respondent was a former


covers any activity, in or out of court, which Personnel Manager of Taggat.
required the application of law, legal
principles, practice or procedures and calls RULING. The Court exonerates respondent
for legal knowledge, training and experience. from the charge of violation of Rule 15.03 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility
ISSUE: whether being a former lawyer of (conflicting interest.) In the present case, we
Taggat conflicts with his role as Assistant find no conflict of interests when respondent
Provincial Prosecutor handled the preliminary investigation of the
criminal complaint filed by Taggat
HELD: YES. A lawyer owes something to a employees in 1997. The issue in the criminal
former client. Herein Respondent owes to complaint pertains to non-payment of wages
Taggat, a former client, the duty to "maintain that occurred from 1 April 1996 to 15 July
inviolate the client’s confidence or to refrain 1997. Clearly, respondent was no longer
from doing anything which will injuriously connected with Taggat during that period
affect him in any matter in which he since he resigned sometime in 1992.
previously represented him."
However, the Court finds respondent liable
I.S. No. 97-240 was filed for "Violation of for violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the
Labor Code" (see Resolution of the Provincial Code of Professional Responsibility against
Prosecutors Office, Annex "B" of Complaint). unlawful conduct. 42 Respondent committed
Herein Complainant, Ruthie Lim-Santiago, unlawful conduct when he violated Section
was being accused as having the 7(b)(2) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical
"management and control" of Taggat. Standards for Public Officials and Employees
Clearly, as a former Personnel Manager and or Republic Act No. 6713 ("RA 6713").
Legal Counsel of Taggat, herein Respondent
undoubtedly handled the personnel and Respondent is mandated under Rule 1.01 of
labor concerns of Taggat. Respondent, Canon 1 not to engage in "unlawful x x x
undoubtedly dealt with and related with the conduct." Unlawful conduct includes
employees of Taggat. Therefore, Respondent violation of the statutory prohibition on a
undoubtedly dealt with and related with government employee to "engage in the
complainants in I.S. No. 97-240. private practice of [his] profession unless
authorized by the Constitution or law,
It should not be forgotten, however, that a provided, that such practice will not conflict
lawyer has an immutable duty to a former or tend to conflict with [his] official
client with respect to matters that he functions."
previously handled for that former client. In
this case, matters relating to personnel, labor Dela Cruz v Paras
policies, and labor relations that he G.R. No. L-42571-72 July 25, 1983
previously handled as Personnel Manager
and Legal Counsel of Taggat. I.S. No. 97-240 Facts: 1. Assailed was the validity of an
was for "Violation of the Labor Code." Here ordinance which prohibit the operation of
lies the conflict. Perhaps it would have been night clubs. Petitioners contended that the
different had I.S. No. 97-240 not been labor- ordinance is invalid, tainted with nullity, the
related, or if Respondent had not been a municipality being devoid of power to
Personnel Manager concurrently as Legal prohibit a lawful business, occupation or
Counsel. But as it is, I.S. No. 97-240 is labor- calling. Petitioners at the same time alleging
that their rights to due process and equal
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protection of the laws were violated as the regulatory power but an exercise of an
licenses previously given to them was in assumed power to prohibit.
effect withdrawn without judicial hearing.
1. The Constitution mandates: "Every bill
2. RA 938, as amended, was originally shall embrace only one subject which shall be
enacted on June 20, 1953. It is entitled: "An expressed in the title thereof. "Since there is
Act Granting Municipal or City Boards and no dispute as the title limits the power to
Councils the Power to Regulate the regulating, not prohibiting, it would result in
Establishments, Maintenance and Operation the statute being invalid if, as was done by
of Certain Places of Amusement within Their the Municipality of Bocaue, the operation of
Respective Territorial Jurisdictions.' a night club was prohibited. There is a wide
gap between the exercise of a regulatory
The first section reads, "The municipal or city power "to provide for the health and safety,
board or council of each chartered city shall promote the prosperity, and improve the
have the power to regulate by ordinance the morals, in the language of the Administrative
establishment, maintenance and operation Code, such competence extending to all "the
of night clubs, cabarets, dancing schools, great public needs.
pavilions, cockpits, bars, saloons, bowling
alleys, billiard pools, and other similar places 2. In accordance with the well-settled
of amusement within its territorial principle of constitutional construction that
jurisdiction: between two possible interpretations by one
On May 21, 1954, the first section was of which it will be free from constitutional
amended to include not merely "the power infirmity and by the other tainted by such
to regulate, but likewise "Prohibit ... " The grave defect, the former is to be preferred. A
title, however, remained the same. It is construction that would save rather than one
worded exactly as RA 938. that would affix the seal of doom certainly
commends itself.
3. As thus amended, if only the said portion
of the Act was considered, a municipal 3. Under the Local Govt Code, it is clear that
council may go as far as to prohibit the municipal corporations cannot prohibit the
operation of night clubs. The title was not in operation of night clubs. They may be
any way altered. It was not changed one bit. regulated, but not prevented from carrying
The exact wording was followed. The power on their business. It would be, therefore, an
granted remains that of regulation, not exercise in futility if the decision under review
prohibition. were sustained. All that petitioners would
have to do is to apply once more for licenses
4. Petitioners contended that RA 938 which to operate night clubs. A refusal to grant
prohibits the operation of night clubs would licenses, because no such businesses could
give rise to a constitutional question. The legally open, would be subject to judicial
lower court upheld the constitutionality and correction. That is to comply with the
validity of Ordinance No. 84 and dismissed legislative will to allow the operation and
the cases. Hence this petition for certiorari by continued existence of night clubs subject to
way of appeal. appropriate regulations. In the meanwhile, to
compel petitioners to close their
ISSUE: Whether or not the ordinance is valid establishments, the necessary result of an
affirmance, would amount to no more than a
NO. It is unconstitutional. It undoubtly temporary termination of their business.
involves a measure not embraced within the

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4. Herein what was involved is a measure not failure to disclose all required
embraced within the regulatory power but an information.
exercise of an assumed power to prohibit.  Hamm’s neglect of his financial
responsibilities and/or violation of a
In the Matter of JAMES JOSEPH HAMM longstanding child support court
Arizona Supreme Court No. SB-04-0079- order and his testimony as to his
M211 Ariz 458, 123 p.3d 652, 2005 failure to comply with the court order.
 Hamm’s mental or emotional
FACTS: - Hamm, the Petitioner, was instability impairing his ability to
sentenced to life in prison for one-count of perform the functions of an attorney
first-degree murder to which he pled guilty. including his testimony as to any
Prior to serving his sentence, Hamm had diagnosis and treatment.
been separated from his wife with whom he
had a son and had supported himself by ISSUE: Whether or not Hamm can be
selling and using marijuana, other drugs and admitted to the Bar.
drinking alcohol.
HELD: No, the Supreme Court decided that
- The crime for which Hamm was sentenced Hamm failed to prove his burden that he is
to life imprisonment is for the murder of of good moral character on the following
Morley and Well,who were killed by Hamm grounds:
along with two accomplices, Garland Wells  Hamm failed to show rehabilitation
and Bill Reeser. The three robbedand killed from past criminal conduct by not
Morley and Well by shooting them with a accepting full responsibility for
gun and leaving their bodies lying in the serious criminal misconduct -Staples’
dessert. murder although he accepted
responsibility for the death of Morley.
- While in prison, Hamm exhibited good  Hamm was not completely up-front
conduct and became a model prisoner which in his testimony to the murder of
earned him aconditioned parole. Hamm was which he claims that he only intended
released after serving nearly seventeen years to rob and not to kill. This is contrary
in prison. Fromconditioned parole, Hamm to the facts he accepted the gun and
absolutely discharged on December 2001.- brings it with him in the car, shot
While on parole, Hamm graduated from the Morley without attempting robbery
Arizona State University College of Law. In and shot hit again to ensure he is
July 1999,Hamm passed the Arizona bar dead and shot Staples when he
examination and, in 2004, filed his Character attempted to escape.
and Fitness Report with theCommittee.- In its  Hamm’s failure to fulfill his long
report, the Committee stated that, in overdue obligation to support his
reaching its conclusions, it considered the child who he was aware existed.
following:  Hamm’s failure to disclose the
incident involving him and his wife,
 Hamm’s unlawful conduct, which Donna, when he submitted his
included the commission of two application to the Committee. This
violent “execution style” murders and incident gave rise to Hamm being
his testimony as to the facts questioned by the law enforcers
surrounding the murders which should have been reflected by
 Hamm’s omissions on his Application Hamm in the application – Question
and his testimony in explaining his 25.

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From the above provisions, it is clear that as


 Hamm’s act of quoting lines from clerk of court of the RTC, Kabacan,
Supreme Courts’ decision and use the respondent was charged with the custody
same in the introduction for his and safekeeping of Pentecostes’ motorcycle,
petition. and to keep it until the termination of the
case, barring circumstances that would justify
PENTECOSTES VS MARASIGAN its safekeeping elsewhere, and upon the prior
SECOND DIVISION[ A.M. No. P-07-2337 authority of the trial court.
(Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 04-2060-P),
August 03, 2007 ] No explanation was offered by respondent,
however, for turning over the motorcycle. But
Facts: The administrative case against whatever the reason was, respondent was
respondent stemmed from a sworn affidavit- mandated to secure prior consultations with
complaint filed by Rolly Pentecostes, the and approval of the trial court.
owner of a Kawasaki motorcycle, which was
recovered by members of the PNP of M’lang, This Court has repeatedly emphasized that
North Cotabato from suspected carnappers clerks of court are essential and ranking
against whom a criminal case for carnapping, officers of our judicial system who perform
was lodged at RTC. delicate functions vital to the prompt and
proper administration of justice. Their duties
On the order of the trial court, the chief of include the efficient recording, filing and
police of M’lang, North Cotabato turned over management of court records and, as
the motorcycle to respondent who previously pointed out, the safekeeping of
acknowledged receipt thereof. exhibits and public property committed to
their charge.
After the conduct of hearings to determine
the true owner of the motorcycle, the trial Misconduct is a transgression of some
court issued an Order for its release to established or definite rule of action; more
Pentecostes. particularly, it is an unlawful behavior by the
public officer. The misconduct is grave if it
Pentecostes immediately asked respondent involves any of the additional elements of
to release the motorcycle to him. corruption, willful intent to violate the law or
Respondent, however, told him to wait and to disregard established rules, which must be
come back repeatedly from 2001 up to the proved by substantial evidence. Otherwise,
filing of the complaint. the misconduct is only simple, as in this case.

Issue: On the topic of good moral character


Father Ranhilio Aquino vs Atty. Edwin
Ruling: Section 7 of Rule 136 of the Rules of Pascua
Court, provides: 539 SCRA 1, November 28, 2007

SEC. 7. Safekeeping of property. – The clerk Facts: Father Aquino, Academic head of
shall safely keep all record, papers, files, Philippine Judicial Academy, filed a
exhibits and public property committed to complaint against Atty. Edwin Pascua, a
his charge, including the library of the court, Notary Public for violation of the Notarial
and the seals and furniture belonging to his Practice Law. He alleged that Atty. Pascua
office. falsified two documents wherein both
documents had “Doc. No. 1213, Page No.
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243. Book III, Series of 1998” and both are Atty. Pascua falsely assigned fictitious
dated on December 10, 1998. It was shown numbers to the questioned affidavit-
by the Clerk of Court of RTC-Tuguegarao that complaints, a clear dishonesty on his part not
none of these entries appear in the Notarial only as a Notary Public, but also as a member
Register of Atty. Pascua. In his comment, of the Bar.
Atty. Pascua admitted having notarized the
two documents on December 10, 1998, but A member of the Bar may be disciplined or
they were not entered in his Notarial Register disbarred for any misconduct in his
due to the oversight of his legal secretary. professional or private capacity. The Court
Complainant maintains that Atty. Pascua’s has invariably imposed a penalty for
omission was not due to inadvertence but a notaries public who were found guilty of
clear case of falsification. dishonesty or misconduct in the performance
of their duties.
Issue: Whether or not Atty. Pascua violated
the Notarial Practice Rule. Atty Pascua is declared guilty of misconduct
and is suspended from the practice of law for
Ruling: Yes. Under the notarial law, “the 3 months with a stern warning that a
notary public shall enter in such register, in repetition of the same act will be dealt with
chronological order, the nature of each more severely. His notarial commission is
instrument executed, sworn to, or revoked.
acknowledged before him, the person
executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the NON-DISCLOSURE BEFORE THE JUDICIAL
instrument. Failure of the notary to make the AND BAR COUNCIL OF THE
proper entry or entries in his notarial ADMINISTRATIVE CASE FILED AGAINST
register touching his notarial acts in the JUDGE JAIME V. QUINTAIN
manner required by law is a ground for 530 SCRA 729, August 22, 2007
revocation of his commission.”
FACTS: In May 17, 2003, Judge Jaime Vega
Atty. Pascua claims that the omission was not Quintain was appointed Presiding judge at
intentional but due to oversight of his staff. the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10,
Whichever is the case, Atty. Pascua cannot Davao City. Subsequently thereto, the Office
escape liability. His failure to enter into his of the Court Administrator Received a
notarial register the documents that he confidential information that Administrative
admittedly notarized is a dereliction of duty and Criminal cases were filed against Judge
on his part as a notary public and he is bound Quintain in his capacity as then Assistant
by the acts of his staff. Regional Director of the National Police
Commission (NAPOLCOM) Regional Office
Furthermore, the claim of Atty. Pascua of 11, Davao City, as a result of which he was
simple inadvertence is untenable. The dismissed from the service per
photocopy of his notarial register shows that Administrative Order (A.O.) no. 183 dated
the last entry which he notarized on April 10, 1995.
December 28, 1998 is Document No. 1200 on To confirm the veracity of the information,
Page 240. On the other hand, the two then Deputy Court Administrator (DCA)
affidavit-complaints allegedly notarized on Christopher O. Lock (now Court
December 10, 1998 are Document Nos. 1213 Administrator) requested from the
and 1214, respectively, under Page No. 243, Sandiganbayan certified copies of the Orders
Book III. Thus, Fr. Ranhilio and the other dismissing the criminal cases. On even Date,
complainants are correct in maintaining that letter were sent to the NAPOLCOM
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requesting for certified copies of documents academic in the instant of the administrative
relative to the administrative complaints filed case. The decision of the court had at the
against Judge Quintain, particularly A. O. 183 time of the filling of the administrative
dated April 10, 1995 dismissing him from the complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the
service. respondent judge by his resignation and its
In a letter dated November 28, 2003, the consequent acceptance- without prejudice-
NAPOLCOM furnished the office of the Court by this court, has ceased to be in office
Administrator a copy of A.O. No. 183 during the pendency of the case. The court
showing that respondent judge was indeed retains its authority to pronounce
dismissed from the service for Grave respondent judge either innocent or guilty of
Misconduct for falsifying or altering the the charges against him. A contrary rule
amounts reflected in disbursement vouchers would be fraught with injustice, indeed, if
in support of his claim for reimbursement innocent, the respondent judge merits
expenses. vindication of his name and integrity as he
This fact did not appear in his Personal Data leaves the government; if guilty, he deserves
Sheet when he submitted his application as to receive the corresponding censure and
Judge. Quintain explained that he was not penalty which is proper and imposable under
aware of his administrative dismissal in the situation
NAPOLCOM. However, there were articles in 2. Yes, Judge Quintain is Liable for his Non-
some newspaper that even featured his Disclosure if the administrative case in his
ouster and his subsequent appeal to clear his Personal Data sheet. On the strength of his
name. misinterpretation, Judge Quintain has misled
Thus the OCA recommended that: the Judicial and Bar Council by making it
a. The instant administrative case against appear that he had a clean record and was
respondent be docket as administrative qualified to join the judiciary. His prior to his
matter dismissal from the government service s a
b. That he be dismissed from the service with blot on his record, which has gone worse and
prejudice from his reappointment to any has spread even more because of his
government, including government owned concealment of it. Had he not concealed the
or controlled corporation and with forfeiture said vital fact, it would have been taken into
of all retirement benefits except accrued consideration when the Council acted on his
leave credits. application. His act of dishonesty renders him
When the case reaches the Supreme Court, unfit to join the judiciary, much less sitting as
Judge Quintain tendered his resignation a judge, and to remain in the Judiciary he has
which was accepted without prejudice to the tainted with his falsehood. It even appear
decision of the Administrative case. that he was dismissed by the NAPOLCOM for
misconduct and dishonesty.
ISSUES: A. Does the resignation of Judge The judiciary emphasized the need for
Quintain renders that administrative case honesty and integrity on the part of all those
moot and academic? who are in its service. It is often stressed that
the conduct required, must always be
B. Whether or not Judge Quintain is liable for beyond reproach and circumscribed with the
his non-disclosure in the Personal Data Sheet heavy burden of responsibility as to let them
of the administrative case against him? be free from any suspicion that may taint the
judiciary. The Court condemns and will never
HELD: 1. The resignation of Judge Quintain countenance any conduct, act or omission on
which was accepted by the court without the part of all those involved in the
prejudice does not render moot and administration of justice , which would

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violate the norm of public accountability and existing law and jurisprudence but also
diminish or even just tend to diminish the motivated by bad faith, fraud, malice or
faith of the people on the judiciary. dishonesty.

Bernardo, Jr. vs. Mejia, 211 SCRA 852 , Does an honest divergence of opinion
July 29, 1992 constitute gross ignorance of the law?
NO, the honest divergence of opinion as to
Attorneys; An attorney who appropriated the legal issues and applicable laws involved
money entrusted by his client, and who does not constitute gross ignorance of the
falsely gave assurances that he used the law more so if there is no evidence that
money for the purposes intended, and who respondent judge’s acts were imbued with
issued bad checks to re-pay them is ordered malice or bad faith.
debarred.—A thoroughgoing review of the
affidavits, pleadings and other papers filed Define bad faith.
by the parties convinces this Court of the Bad faith does not simply connote poor or
correctness of the foregoing conclusions of flawed judgment; it imports a dishonest
the IBP Board of Governors. They are purpose, moral obliquity or conscious doing
consequently hereby adopted and approved. of a wrong.
WHEREFORE, the Court DECLARES the
respondent, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia, guilty of all Will an administrative complaint against a
the charges against him and hereby imposes judge prosper when there still exists other
on him the penalty of DISBARMENT. Pending sufficient remedies for a party in a case?
finality of this judgment, and effective NO, the filing of an administrative complaint
immediately, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia is hereby is not the proper remedy for correcting the
SUSPENDED from the practice of law. Let a actions of a judge perceived to have gone
copy of this Decision be spread in his record beyond the norms of propriety, where a
in the Bar Confidant’s Office, and notice sufficient remedy exists. The actions against
thereof furnished the Integrated Bar of the judges should not be considered as
Philippines, as well as the Court complementary or suppletory to, or
Administrator who is DIRECTED to inform all substitute for, the judicial remedies which
the Courts concerned of this Decision. can be availed of by a party in a case.

GSIS v. Pacquing Velez vs. De Vera,


A.M. No. RTJ-04-1831, En Banc, Res., 496 SCRA 345 , July 25, 2006
February 2, 2007, per Corona, J. Attorneys; Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP); The Integrated Bar of the Philippines
How may a judge be made (IBP) By-Laws do not allow for preelection
administratively liable for ignorance of disqualification proceedings—absent a final
the law? judgment by the Supreme Court in a proper
For a judge to be administratively liable for case declaring otherwise, every lawyer
ignorance of the law, the acts complained of aspiring to hold the position of IBP Regional
must be gross or patent. Director is presumed morally fit.—The
distinctions between the two cases are far
What constitutes gross ignorance of the from trivial. The previous case was resolved
law for a judge? on the basis of the parties’ rights and
To constitute gross ignorance of the law, obligations under the IBP By-laws. We held
such acts must not only be contrary to therein that Atty. de Vera cannot be
disqualified from running as Regional
10 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

Governor as there is nothing in the present


IBP By-laws that sanctions the Disbarment; Conflict of Laws; Where there is
disqualification of candidates for IBP technically no foreign judgment to speak of,
governors. Consequently, we stressed that the recommendation by the hearing officer
the petition had no firm ground to stand on. of the State Bar of another jurisdiction does
Likewise, we held that the complainants not constitute prima facie evidence of
therein were not the proper parties to bring unethical behavior by a Philippine lawyer
the suit as the IBP By-laws prescribes that practicing in said jurisdiction.—In Philippine
only nominees—which the complainants Aluminum Wheels, Inc. v. Fasgi Enterprises,
were not—can file with the IBP President a Inc., 342 SCRA 722 (2000), we explained that
written protest against the candidate. The “[a] foreign judgment is presumed to be valid
Court’s statement, therefore, that Atty. de and binding in the country from which it
Vera cannot be disqualified on the ground comes, until a contrary showing, on the basis
that he was not morally fit was mere obiter of a presumption of regularity of
dictum. Precisely, the IBP By-laws do not proceedings and the giving of due notice in
allow for pre-election disqualification the foreign forum.”In herein case,
proceedings; hence, Atty. de Vera cannot be considering that there is technically no
disqualified on the basis of the administrative foreign judgment to speak of, the
findings of a hearing officer of the State Bar recommendation by the hearing officer of
of California suspending him from the the State Bar of California does not constitute
practice of law for three years. We held in prima facie evidence of unethical behavior by
that case that—There is nothing in the By- Atty. de Vera. Complainant must prove by
Laws which explicitly provides that one must substantial evidence the facts upon which the
be morally fit before he can run for IBP recommendation by the hearing officer was
governorship. For one, this is so because the based. If he is successful in this, he must then
determination of moral fitness of a candidate prove that these acts are likewise unethical
lies in the individual judgment of the under Philippine law.
members of the House of Delegates. Indeed,
based on each member’s standard of Conflicts of Laws; The statutory enumeration
morality, he is free to nominate and elect any of the grounds for disbarment or suspension
member, so long as the latter possesses the is not to be taken as a limitation on the
basic requirements under the law. For general power of courts to suspend or disbar
another, basically the disqualification of a a lawyer—the inherent power of the court
candidate involving lack of moral fitness over its officers cannot be restricted.—
should emanate from his disbarment or Disciplinary action against a lawyer is
suspension from the practice of law by this intended to protect the court and the public
Court, or conviction by final judgment of an from the misconduct of officers of the court
offense which involves moral turpitude. What and to protect the administration of justice
this simply means is that absent a final by requiring that those who exercise this
judgment by the Supreme Court in a proper important function shall be competent,
case declaring otherwise, every lawyer honorable and reliable men in whom courts
aspiring to hold the position of IBP Regional and clients may repose confidence. The
Director is presumed morally fit. Any person statutory enumeration of the grounds for
who begs to disagree will not be able to find disbarment or suspension is not to be taken
a receptive audience in the IBP through a as a limitation on the general power of courts
petition for disqualification but must first file to suspend or disbar a lawyer. The inherent
the necessary disbarment or suspension power of the court over its officers cannot be
proceeding against the lawyer concerned. restricted

11 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

Unprofessional Conduct; Beyond doubt, the


Malpractice; Unprofessional Conduct; Words unauthorized use by a lawyer of his client’s
and Phrases; Malpractice ordinarily refers to funds is highly unethical.—Beyond doubt,
any malfeasance or dereliction of duty the unauthorized use by a lawyer of his
committed by a lawyer; Unprofessional client’s funds is highly unethical. Canon 16 of
conduct in an attorney is that which violates the Code of Professional Responsibility is
the rules on ethical code of his profession or emphatic about this, thus: CANON 16. A
which is unbecoming a member of that LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL
profession.—Malpractice ordinarily refers to MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT
any malfeasance or dereliction of duty THAT MAY COME TO HIS POSSESSION. Rule
committed by a lawyer. Section 27 gives a 16.01. A lawyer shall account for all money or
special and technical meaning to the term property collected or received for or from the
“Malpractice.” That meaning is in consonance client. Rule 16.02. A lawyer shall keep the
with the elementary notion that the practice funds of each client separate and apart from
of law is a profession, not a business. his own and those of others kept by him.
Unprofessional conduct in an attorney is that
which violates the rules on ethical code of his Attorneys; When the integrity of a member of
profession or which is unbecoming a the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he
member of that profession. denies the charges against him—he must
meet the issue and overcome the evidence
Burden of Proof; In cases filed before against him.—Aside from these self-serving
administrative and quasijudicial bodies, a fact statements, however, we cannot find
may be deemed established if it is supported anywhere in the records of this case proof
by substantial evidence or that amount of that indeed Atty. de Vera was duly authorized
relevant evidence which a reasonable mind to use the funds of his client. In Radjaie v.
might accept as adequate to justify a Atty. Alovera, 337 SCRA 244 (2000), we
conclusion—it means such evidence which declared that—When the integrity of a
affords a substantial basis from which the member of the bar is challenged, it is not
fact in issue can be reasonably inferred.—In enough that he denies the charges against
fact, Atty. de Vera did not deny complainant’s him; he must meet the issue and overcome
allegation in the latter’s memorandum that the evidence against him. He must show
he (de Vera) received US$12,000.00 intended proof that he still maintains that degree of
for his client and that he deposited said morality and integrity which at all times is
amount in his personal account and not in a expected of him. Atty. de Vera cannot rely on
separate trust account and that, finally, he the statement made by the hearing officer
spent the amount for personal purposes. At that the elder Willis had indeed testified that
this point, it bears stressing that in cases filed he “expected de Vera might use the money
before administrative and quasi-judicial for a few days.” As Atty. de Vera had
bodies, a fact may be deemed established if vigorously objected to the admissibility of
it is supported by substantial evidence or that the document containing this statement, he
amount of relevant evidence which a is now estopped from relying thereon.
reasonable mind might accept as adequate Besides, that the elder Willis “expected de
to justify a conclusion. It means such Vera might use the money for a few days”
evidence which affords a substantial basis was not so much an acknowledgment of
from which the fact in issue can be consent to the use by Atty. de Vera of his
reasonably inferred. client’s funds as it was an acceptance of the
probability that Atty. de Vera might, indeed,
use his client’s funds, which by itself did not

12 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

speak well of the character of Atty. de Vera or Due Process; Words and Phrases; The term
the way such character was perceived. “due process of law” as used in the
Constitution has no fixed meaning for all
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP); purposes due “to the very nature of the
Transferring Integrated Bar of the Philippines doctrine which, asserting a fundamental
(IBP) membership to a chapter where the principle of justice rather than a specific rule
lawyer is not a resident is not a ground for his of law, is not susceptible of more than one
suspension or disbarment—the Code of general statement”—the phrase is so elusive
Professional Responsibility as well as the of exact apprehension, because it depends
Lawyer’s Oath do not prohibit nor punish on circumstances and varies with the subject
lawyers from aspiring to be IBP National matter and the necessities of the situation;
President and from doing perfectly legal acts The due process clause guarantees no
in accomplishing such goal.—As it was particular form of procedure and its
perfectly within Atty. de Vera’s right to requirements are not technical.—Even if the
transfer his membership, it cannot be said right of due process could be rightfully
that he is guilty of unethical conduct or invoked, still, in administrative proceedings,
behavior. And while one may incessantly the essence of due process is simply the
argue that a legal act may not necessarily be opportunity to explain one’s side. At the
ethical, in herein case, we do not see outset, it is here emphasized that the term
anything wrong in transferring to an IBP “due process of law” as used in the
chapter that—based on the rotation rule— Constitution has no fixed meaning for all
will produce the next IBP EVP who will purposes due “to the very nature of the
automatically succeed to the National doctrine which, asserting a fundamental
Presidency for the next term. Our Code of principle of justice rather than a specific rule
Professional Responsibility as well as the of law, is not susceptible of more than one
Lawyer’s Oath do not prohibit nor punish general statement.” The phrase is so elusive
lawyers from aspiring to be IBP National of exact apprehension, because it depends
President and from doing perfectly legal acts on circumstances and varies with the subject
in accomplishing such goal. matter and the necessities of the situation.
Due process of law in administrative cases is
Same; Due Process; The position of Executive not identical with “judicial process” for a trial
Vice President (EVP) of the Integrated Bar of in court is not always essential to due
the Philippines (IBP) is not property within process. While a day in court is a matter of
the constitutional sense especially since right in judicial proceedings, it is otherwise in
there is no right to security of tenure over administrative proceedings since they rest
said position.—It needs stressing that the upon different principles. The due process
constitutional provision on due process clause guarantees no particular form of
safeguards life, liberty and property. It cannot procedure and its requirements are not
be said that the position of EVP of the IBP is technical. Thus, in certain proceedings of
property within the constitutional sense administrative character, the right to a notice
especially since there is no right to security of or hearing are not essential to due process of
tenure over said position as, in fact, all that is law. The constitutional requirement of due
required to remove any member of the board process is met by a fair hearing before a
of governors for cause is a resolution regularly established administrative agency
adopted by 2/3 of the remaining members of or tribunal. It is not essential that hearings be
the board. had before the making of a determination if
thereafter, there is available trial and tribunal
before which all objections and defenses to

13 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

the making of such determination may be expulsion while two voted against it which
raised and considered. One adequate still adds up to the 2/3 vote requirement for
hearing is all that due process requires. What expulsion.
is required for “hearing” may differ as the
functions of the administrative bodies differ. Same; Doctrine of Majority Rule; Indubitably,
conflicts and disagreements of varying
Same; The right to cross-examine is not an degrees of intensity, if not animosity, are
indispensable aspect of due process.—The inherent in the internal life of an
right to cross-examine is not an organization, but especially of the IBP since
indispensable aspect of due process. Nor is lawyers are said to disagree before they
an actual hearing always essential especially agree; The effectiveness of the IBP, like any
under the factual milieu of this case where other organization, is diluted if the conflicts
the members of the IBP Board—upon whose are brought outside its governing body for
shoulders the determination of the cause for then there would be the impression that the
removal of an IBP governor is placed subject IBP, which speaks through a Board of
to the approval of the Supreme Court—all Governors, does not and cannot speak for its
witnessed Atty. de Vera’s actuations in the members in an authoritative fashion; As a
IBP National Convention in question. It is means of self-preservation, internecine
undisputed that Atty. de Vera received a copy conflicts must be adjusted within the
of the complaint against him and that he was governing board itself so as to free it from
present when the matter was taken up. From the stresses that invariably arise when
the transcript of the stenographic notes of internal cleavages are made public.—After
the 13 May 2005 meeting wherein Atty. de weighing the arguments of the parties and in
Vera was removed, it is patent that Atty. de keeping with the fundamental objective of
Vera was given fair opportunity to defend the IBP to discharge its public responsibility
himself against the accusations made by more effectively, we hereby find that Atty. de
Atty. Rivera. Vera’s removal from the IBP Board was not
capricious or arbitrary. Indubitably, conflicts
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP); Words and disagreements of varying degrees of
and Phrases; The phrase “remaining intensity, if not animosity, are inherent in the
members” in Section 44 of the Integrated Bar internal life of an organization, but especially
of the Philippines (IBP) By-Laws refers to the of the IBP since lawyers are said to disagree
members exclusive of the complainant before they agree. However, the
member and the respondent member.— effectiveness of the IBP, like any other
Under the rules, a resolution for expulsion of organization, is diluted if the conflicts are
an IBP Governor is done via a resolution brought outside its governing body for then
adopted by 2/3 of the remaining members. there would be the impression that the IBP,
The phrase “remaining members” refers to which speaks through the Board of
the members exclusive of the complainant Governors, does not and cannot speak for its
member and the respondent member. The members in an authoritative fashion. It would
reason therefore is that such members are accordingly diminish the IBP’s prestige and
interested parties and are thus presumed to repute with the lawyers as well as with the
be unable to resolve said motion impartially. general public. As a means of self-
This being the case, the votes of Attys. Rivera preservation, internecine conflicts must thus
and de Vera should be stricken-off which be adjusted within the governing board itself
means that only the votes of the seven so as to free it from the stresses that
remaining members are to be counted. Of invariably arise when internal cleavages are
the seven remaining members, five voted for made public.

14 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

should resign therefrom so that he could


Same; Same; The doctrine of majority rule is criticize in public the majority
almost universally used as a mechanism for opinion/decision to his heart’s content;
adjusting and resolving conflicts and otherwise, he subjects himself to disciplinary
disagreements within the group after the action by the body.
members have been given an opportunity to
be heard; When the IBP Board is not seen by Same; To be Executive Vice President (EVP) of
the bar and the public as a cohesive unit, it the IBP, one must necessarily be a member of
cannot effectively perform its duty of helping the IBP Board of Governors, and a lawyer’s
the Supreme Court enforce the code of legal removal from the Board of Governors
ethics and the standards of legal practice as automatically disqualifies him from acting as
well as improve the administration of IBP EVP.—The removal of Atty. de Vera as
justice.—The doctrine of majority rule is member of the Board of Governors ipso facto
almost universally used as a mechanism for meant his removal as EVP as well. Section 47,
adjusting and resolving conflicts and Article VII of the By-Laws of the IBP provides:
disagreements within the group after the SEC. 47. National Officers.—The Integrated
members have been given an opportunity to Bar of the Philippines shall have a President
be heard. While it does not efface conflicts, and Executive Vice President to be chosen by
nonetheless, once a decision on a the Board of Governors from among nine (9)
contentious matter is reached by a majority regional governors, as much as practicable,
vote, the dissenting minority is bound on a rotation basis. x x x Thus, to be EVP of
thereby so that the board can speak with one the IBP, one must necessarily be a member of
voice, for those elected to the governing IBP Board of Governors. Atty. de Vera’s
board are deemed to implicitly contract that removal from the Board of Governors,
the will of the majority shall govern in automatically disqualified him from acting as
matters within the authority of the board. The IBP EVP. To insist otherwise would be
IBP Board, therefore, was well within its right contrary to Section 47 of the IBP ByLaws.
in removing Atty. de Vera as the latter’s
actuations during the 10th National IBP
Convention were detrimental to the role of Same; Supreme Court; The power of
the IBP Board as the governing body of the supervision of the Supreme Court over the
IBP. When the IBP Board is not seen by the IBP should not preclude the IBP from
bar and the public as a cohesive unit, it exercising its reasonable discretion especially
cannot effectively perform its duty of helping in the administration of its internal affairs
the Supreme Court enforce the code of legal governed by the provisions of its By-Laws.—
ethics and the standards of legal practice as While it is true that the Supreme Court has
well as improve the administration of justice. been granted an extensive power of
In view of the importance of retaining group supervision over the IBP, it is axiomatic that
cohesiveness and unity, the expulsion of a such power should be exercised prudently.
member of the board who insists on bringing The power of supervision of the Supreme
to the public his disagreement with a Court over the IBP should not preclude the
policy/resolution approved by the majority IBP from exercising its reason able discretion
after due discussion, cannot be faulted. The especially in the administration of its internal
effectiveness of the board as a governing affairs governed by the provisions of its By-
body will be negated if its pronouncements Laws. The IBP By-Laws were precisely drafted
are resisted in public by a board member. and promulgated so as to define the powers
Indeed, when a member of a governing body and functions of the IBP and its officers,
cannot accept the voice of the majority, he establish its organizational structure, and

15 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

govern relations and transactions among its pertains in particular to the position of IBP
officers and members. With these By-Laws in EVP, while the automatic succession rule
place, the Supreme Court could be assured pertains to the Presidency. The rotation with
that the IBP shall be able to carry on its day- respect to the Presidency is but a
to-day affairs, without the Court’s consequence of the automatic succession
interference. rule provided in Section 47 of the IBP By-
Laws. In the case at bar, the rotation rule was
Same; Article VI, Section 41(g) of the IBP By- duly complied with since upon the election of
Laws expressly grants to the Board the Atty. De Vera as IBP EVP, each of the nine IBP
authority to fill vacancies, however arising, in regions had already produced an EVP and,
the IBP positions.—With the removal of Atty. thus, the rotation was completed. It is only
de Vera from the Board, by virtue of the IBP unfortunate that the supervening event of
Board Resolution dated 13 May 2005, he was Atty. de Vera’s removal as IBP Governor and
also removed from his post as EVP; thus, EVP rendered it impossible for him to assume
there was a resultant vacancy in the position the IBP Presidency. The fact remains,
of IBP EVP. Article VI, Section 41(g) of the IBP however, that the rotation rule had been
By-Laws expressly grants to the Board the completed despite the non-assumption by
authority to fill vacancies, however arising, in Atty. de Vera to the IBP Presidency.
the IBP positions, subject to the provisions of
Section 8 of the Integration Rule, and Section Same; Same; The application of the rotation
11 (Vacancies), Section 44 (Removal of rule is not a license to disregard the spirit and
members), Section 47 (National officers), purpose of the automatic succession rule, but
Section 48 (other officers), and Section 49 should be applied in harmony with the latter;
(Terms of Office) of the By-Laws. The IBP The automatic succession rule affords the IBP
Board has specific and sufficient guidelines in leadership transition seamless and enables
its Rules and By-Laws on how to fill-in the the new IBP National President to attend to
vacancies after the removal of Atty. de Vera. pressing and urgent matters without having
We have faith and confidence in the to expend valuable time for the usual
intellectual, emotional and ethical adjustment and leadership consolidation
competencies of the remaining members of period.—The application of the rotation rule
the 2005-2007 Board in dealing with the is not a license to disregard the spirit and
situation within the bounds of the IBP Rules purpose of the automatic succession rule, but
and By-Laws. should be applied in harmony with the latter.
The automatic succession rule affords the IBP
Same; Rotation Rule; Automatic Succession leadership transition seamless and enables
Rule; The rotation rule pertains in particular the new IBP National President to attend to
to the position of IBP EVP, while the pressing and urgent matters without having
automatic succession rule pertains to the to expend valuable time for the usual
Presidency—the rotation with respect to the adjustment and leadership consolidation
Presidency is but a consequence of the period. The time that an IBP EVP spends
automatic succession rule provided in assisting a sitting IBP President on matters
Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.—In Bar Matter national in scope is in fact a valuable and
491, it is clear that it is the position of IBP EVP indispensable preparation for the eventual
which is actually rotated among the nine succession. It should also be pointed out that
Regional Governors. The rotation with this wisdom is further underscored by the
respect to the Presidency is merely a result of fact that an IBP EVP is elected from among
the automatic succession rule of the IBP EVP the members of the IBP Board of Governors,
to the Presidency. Thus, the rotation rule who are serving in a national capacity, and

16 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

not from the members at large. It is intrinsic


in the IBP ByLaws that one who is to assume Rule 7.03-- A lawyer shall not engage in
the highest position in the IBP must have conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness
been exposed to the demands and to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public
responsibilities of national leadership. or private life, behave in a scandalous
manner to the discredit of the legal
A.C. No. 7204 March 7, 2007 profession.
ADVINCULA vs. MACABATA The SC held that lawyers are expected
to abide the tenets of morality, not only upon
Facts: The case is a disbarment case against admission to the Bar but all throughtout their
respondent on the ground of gross legal career as lawyers belong to an exclusive
immorality. It was alleged that sometime in and honored fraternity. Lawyers are called
December 2004, complainant seek for legal upon to safeguard the integrity of the legal
advice from peitioner regarding her profession and should adhere to the
collectibles from a travel company. unwaveringly to the highest standard of
Respondent sent Demand Letter and morality. The respondent admitted to the act
sometime in February 2005, they met at of kissing the complainant on the lips as
Zensho Restaurant to discuss the possibility evidenced as well of his asking for apology
of filing complaint against the travel from complainant in his text message.
company because the latter failed to settle Regardless of the fact that the respondent
the accounts. That after that said meeting, admitted that he kissed the complainant but
the respondent "held her arm and kissed her the Court held that this was not accompanied
on the cheek while embracing her very by malice because the respondent
tightly." immediately asked for forgiveness after
The two met again to finalize the draft sensing the annoyance of the respondent
for the complaint and while on their way after texting him. Thus the Court held that
home after the said meeting, the respondent this is not grossly immoral nor highly
suddenly stopped the car and things went reprehensible which will warrant disbarment
out of hand. Thus, she decided to refer the or suspension. But the Court reprimanded
case to another lawyer. respondent to be more prudent and
cautious.
Issue: Whether or not the respondent
committed acts are grossly immoral which Corazon Nevada vs Atty. Rodolfo
would warrant the disbarment or suspension Casuga
from the practice of law.
In 2007, Corazon Nevada, filed a
Held: The Code of Professional disbarment case against Atty. Rodolfo
Responsibility provides: Casuga. Nevada alleged the following:

CANON I – x x x That Atty. Casuga acquired several


Rule 1.01-- A lawyer shall not engage in pieces of jewelry from her; the jewelries
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful include diamond earrings and diamond rings
conduct. amounting P300,000.00. and a Rolex gold
CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold watch worth $12,000.00; that Casuga assured
the integrity and dignity of the legal her that he will sell them; but despite
profession and support the activities of the repeated demands, Casuga never remitted
Integrated Bar. any money nor did he return said jewelries.
xxxx
17 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

That in 2006, Casuga, taking 2. Violated Canon 16 of the Code of


advantage of his close relationship with Professional Responsibility: It is his duty as a
Nevada (they belong to the same religious lawyer to account for all moneys and
sect), Casuga represented himself as the property of his client that may come to his
hotel administrator of the hotel (Mt. Crest) possession. This is still applicable even
that Nevada own; that as such, Casuga was though said property/money did not come
able to enter into a contract of lease with one to his possession by virtue of a lawyer-client
Jung Chul; that he negotiated an office space relationship. He failed to adduce evidence to
with Chul in said Hotel for P90,000.00; that prove his claim that Nevada pawned said
Casuga notarized said agreement; that he jewelries. He never presented receipts.
forged the signature of Edwin Nevada Further, even assuming that Nevada did
(husband); that he never remitted the P90k to pawn said items, Casuga was still duty bound
Nevada. to return said jewelries upon demand by
In his defense, Casuga said: Nevada.

That Nevada actually pawned said 3. Violation of Notarial Rules: He


jewelries in a pawnshop; that she later signed a document (contract of lease) in
advised Casuga’s wife to redeem said behalf of another person without
jewelries using Mrs. Casuga’s wife; that authorization. His forgery made him an
Casuga can sell said jewelries and reimburse actual party to the contract. In effect he was
herself from the proceeds; that he still has notarizing a document in which he is party in
possession of said jewelries. violation of the notarial rules (Secs. 1 and 3,
That he never received the Rule IV).
P90,000.00; that it was received by a certain
Pastor Oh; that he was authorized as an 4. Malpractice of Law: As a
agent by Edwin Nevada to enter into said summation of all the above violations,
contract of lease. Casuga is guilty of Malpractice and
ISSUE: Whether or not there is merit Misconduct. Such act is punishable under
in Atty. Casuga’s defense. Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
However, the Supreme Court deemed that
HELD: No. Atty. Casuga is in violation disbarment is too severe a punishment
of the following: against Casuga. He was suspended for 4
years from the practice of law. His notarial
1. Gross Misconduct: Casuga commission was likewise revoked and he is
misrepresented himself as a duly authorized disqualified to be a notary public while
representative of Nevada when in fact he was serving his suspension. The Supreme Court
not. He never adduced evidence showing emphasized: the penalty of disbarment shall
that he was duly authorized either by Edwin be meted out only when the lawyer’s
or Corazon. He also dialed to adduce misconduct borders on the criminal and/or is
evidence proving that he never received the committed under scandalous circumstance.
P90k from Chul. On the contrary, a notarized
letter showed that Casuga did receive the
money. His misrepresentations constitute IN RE: ATTY. LEONARD DE VERA,
gross misconduct and his mere denial does A.M. No. 01-12-03-SC. July 29, 2002
not overcome the evidence presented
against him. Quoted hereunder is a newspaper
article with contemptuous statements
attributed to Atty. Leonard De Vera
18 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

concerning the Plunder Law case while the


same was still pending before the Court. Indeed, freedom of speech includes
“De Vera asked the Supreme Court to the right to know and discuss judicial
dispel rumors that it would vote in favor of a proceedings, but such right does not cover
petition filed by Estrada’s lawyers to declare statements aimed at undermining the Court’s
the plunder law unconstitutional for its integrity and authority, and interfering with
supposed vagueness.” the administration of justice. Freedom of
speech is not absolute and must occasionally
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER be balanced with the requirements of equally
important public interests, such as the
Monday, November 19, 2001 maintenance of the integrity of the courts
and orderly functioning of the administration
Atty. Leonard De Vera also argued of justice.
that he was merely exercising his Thus, the making of contemptuous
constitutionally guaranteed right tofreedom statements directed against the Court is not
of speech when he said that a decision by the an exercise of free speech; rather, it is an
Court declaring the Plunder Law abuse of such right. Unwarranted attacks on
unconstitutional the dignity of the courts cannot be disguised
“would trigger mass actions, probably as free speech, for the exercise of said right
more massive than those that led to People cannot be used to impair the independence
Power II.” While Atty. and efficiency of courts or public respect
Leonard De Vera admitted to having therefore and confidence therein. In People
uttered the afore cited statements, vs. Godoy, this Court explained that while a
respondent denied having made the same to citizen may comment upon the proceedings
degrade the Court, to destroy public and decisions of the court and discuss their
confidence in it and to bring it into disrepute. correctness, and even express his opinions
on the fitness or unfitness of the judges for
Issue: WON Atty. Leonard De Vera is liable their stations, and the fidelity with which they
for indirect contempt of court for uttering perform the important public trusts reposed
statements aimed atinfluencing and in them, he has no right to attempt to
threatening the Court in deciding in favor of degrade the court, destroy public confidence
the constitutionality of the Plunder Law. in it, and encourage the people to disregard
and set naught its orders, judgments and
Held: Yes, after a careful consideration of decrees. Such publications are said to be an
respondent’s arguments, the Court finds his abuse of the liberty of speech and of the
explanation unsatisfactory and hereby finds press, for they tend to destroy the very
him guilty of indirect contempt of court for foundation of good order and well-being in
uttering statements aimed at influencing and society by obstructing the course of justice.
threatening the Court in deciding in favor of Clearly, respondent’s utterances
the constitutionality of the Plunder Law. Rule pressuring the Court to rule in favor of the
71, Section 3 (d) of the Revised Rules of Court constitutionality of the Plunder Law or
authorizes the courts to hold liable for risk another series of mass actions by
criminal contempt a person guilty of conduct the public cannot be construed as falling
that is directed against the dignity or within the ambit of constitutionally-
authority of the court, or of an act protected speech, because such statements
obstructing the administration of justice are not fair criticisms of any decision of the
which tends to bring the court into disrepute Court, but obviously are threats made
or disrespect. against it to force the Court to decide the

19 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

issue in a particular manner, or risk earning FACTS: Respondent Edwin L. Rana was
the ire of the public. among those who passed the 2000 Bar
Such statements show disrespect not Examinations.
only for the Court but also for the judicial
system as a whole, tend to promote distrust A day before the scheduled mass
and undermine public confidence in the oath-taking of successful bar examiners,
judiciary, by creating the impression that the petitioner Donna Marie Aguirre filed a
Court cannot be trusted to resolve cases complaint charging Rana of unauthorized
impartially and violate the right of the parties practice of law, grave misconduct, violation
to have their case tried fairly by an of law, and grave misrepresentation.
independent tribunal, uninfluenced by public
clamor and other extraneous influences. The Court allowed respondent to take
his oath as a member of the Bar at the PICC,
Soriano v. Dizon however, the respondent cannot sign the Roll
A.C. No. 6792. January 25, 2006. of Attorneys pending the resolution of the
charge against him. Thus, respondent passed
FACTS: While driving on his way home, a taxi the bar, took the lawyer’s oath on the
driver (herein complainant) overtook the car scheduled date but has not signed the Roll of
driven by herein respondent. Incensed, Attorneys.
respondent tailed the taxi driver until the
latter stopped to make a turn. An altercation Petitioner alleges that respondent,
resulted therefrom that got to the point that while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel
the respondent fired and shot complainant of a political candidate, signed pleadings as
hitting him on the neck. He fell on the thigh well as represent himself as counsel in
of the respondent so the latter pushed him proceedings.
out and sped off.
ISSUE: Whether Rana engaged in the
ISSUE: WON respondent’s guilt warrants unauthorized practice of law and thus does
disbarment. not deserve admission to the Philippine Bar.

RULING: Yes. Moral turpitude has been HELD: Yes. In Cayetano v. Monsod, the Court
defined as “everything which is done held that “practice of law” means any activity,
contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals; in or out of court, which requires the
an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in application of law, legal procedure,
the private and social duties which a man knowledge, training and experience. To
owes his fellowmen, or to society in general, engage in the practice of law is to perform
contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or acts which are usually performed by
good morals.” It is also glaringly clear that members of the legal profession. Generally,
respondent seriously transgressed Canon 1 to practice law is to render any kind of service
of the Code of Professional Responsibility which requires the use of legal knowledge or
through his illegal possession of an skill.
unlicensed firearm and his unjust refusal to The right to practice law is not a
satisfy his civil liabilities. natural or constitutional right but is a
privilege. It is limited to persons of good
moral character with special qualifications
AGUIRRE VS RANA (2003) duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of
this privilege presupposes possession of
integrity, legal knowledge, educational

20 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

attainment, and even public trust4 since a instituted with criminal action, unless the
lawyer is an officer of the court. A bar offended party waives the civil action,
candidate does not acquire the right to reserves the right to institute it separately or
practice law simply by passing the bar institutes the civil action prior to the criminal
examinations. The practice of law is a action.—Under Article 100 of the Revised
privilege that can be withheld even from one Penal Code, every person criminally liable for
who has passed the bar examinations, if the a felony is also civilly liable except in
person seeking admission had practiced law instances when no actual damage results
without a license. from an offense, such as espionage, violation
It is true that the respondent passed of neutrality, flight to an enemy country, and
the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the crime against popular representation. The
lawyer’s oath. However, it is the signing in the basic rule applies in the instant case, such
Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a full- that when a criminal action is instituted, the
fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent civil action for the recovery of civil liability
passed the bar examinations is immaterial. arising from the offense charged shall be
Passing the bar is not the only qualification deemed instituted with criminal action,
to become an attorney-at-law. Respondent unless the offended party waives the civil
should know that two essential requisites for action, reserves the right to institute it
becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, separately or institutes the civil action prior
namely: his lawyer’s oath to be administered to the criminal action.
by this Court and his signature in the Roll of
Attorneys. Same; Same; Petitioner is correct in
stating that there being no reservation,
Edwin Rana is denied Admission to waiver nor prior institution of the civil aspect
the Philippine Bar. in Criminal Case No. 00-1705, it follows that
the civil aspect arising from Grave Threats is
Cruz vs. Mina, 522 SCRA 382 , deemed instituted with criminal action;
April 27, 2007 Private prosecutor may rightfully intervene to
Criminal Procedure; Law Student prosecute the civil aspect.—The petitioner is
Practice Rule; As succinctly clarified in Bar correct in stating that there being no
Matter No. 730, by virtue of Section 34, Rule reservation, waiver, nor prior institution of
138, a law student may appear, as an agent the civil aspect in Criminal Case No. 00-1705,
or a friend of a party litigant, without the it follows that the civil aspect arising from
supervision of a lawyer before inferior Grave Threats is deemed instituted with the
courts.—Section 34, Rule 138 is clear that criminal action, and, hence, the private
appearance before the inferior courts by a prosecutor may rightfully intervene to
non-lawyer is allowed, irrespective of prosecute the civil aspect.
whether or not he is a law student. As
succinctly clarified in Bar Matter No. 730, by In the case of FERDINAND A. CRUZ
virtue of Section 34, Rule 138, a law student vs. JUDGE PRISCILLA MIJARES, Presiding
may appear, as an agent or a friend of a party Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 108,
litigant, without the supervision of a lawyer Pasay City, Metro Manila, G.R. No. 154464,
before inferior courts. September 11, 2008, the Supreme Court of
the Philippines upheld a litigant’s right to pro
Same; Recovery of Civil Liability; se representation under Sec. 34, Rule 138,
When a criminal action is instituted, the civil Rules of Court and clarified its distinction in
action for the recovery of civil liability arising relation to the Law Student Practice Rule
from the offense charged shall be deemed under Rule 138-A, Rules of Court.
21 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration


On March 5, 2002, Ferdinand A. Cruz [7] of the said order.
(petitioner) sought permission to enter his
appearance for and on his behalf, before the On May 10, 2002, Judge Mijares
RTC, Branch 108, Pasay City, as the plaintiff in denied the motion with finality. [8] In the
Civil Case No. 01-0410, for Abatement of same Order, the trial court held that for the
Nuisance. Petitioner, a fourth year law failure of petitioner Cruz to submit the
student, anchors his claim on Section 34 of promised document and jurisprudence, and
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court [3] that a non- for his failure to satisfy the requirements or
lawyer may appear before any court and conditions under Rule 138-A of the Rules of
conduct his litigation personally. Court, his appearance was denied.

During the pre-trial, Judge Priscilla In a motion for reconsideration, [9]


Mijares required the petitioner to secure a petitioner reiterated that the basis of his
written permission from the Court appearance was not Rule 138-A, but Section
Administrator before he could be allowed to 34 of Rule 138. He contended that the two
appear as counsel for himself, a party- Rules were distinct and are applicable to
litigant. Atty. Stanley Cabrera, counsel for different circumstances, but the respondent
Benjamin Mina, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss judge denied the same, still invoking Rule
instead of a pre-trial brief to which petitioner 138-A, in an Order [10] dated July 31, 2002.
Cruz vehemently objected alleging that a
Motion to Dismiss is not allowed after the On August 16, 2002, the petitioner
Answer had been filed. Judge Mijares then directly filed with this Court, the instant
remarked, “Hay naku, masama ‘yung petition.
marunong pa sa Huwes. Ok?” and proceeded
to hear the pending Motion to Dismiss and The core issue raised before the Court
calendared the next hearing on May 2, 2002. was whether the respondent court acted with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
On March 6, 2002, petitioner Cruz or excess of jurisdiction when it denied the
filed a Manifestation and Motion to Inhibit, appearance of the petitioner as party litigant
[4] praying for the voluntary inhibition of and when the judge refused to inhibit herself
Judge Mijares. The Motion alleged that from trying the case.
expected partiality on the part of the
respondent judge in the conduct of the trial
could be inferred from the contumacious Rule 138-A, or the Law Student
remarks of Judge Mijares during the pre-trial. Practice Rule, provides:
It asserts that the judge, in uttering an
uncalled for remark, reflects a negative frame RULE 138-A
of mind, which engenders the belief that
justice will not be served. [5] LAW STUDENT PRACTICE RULE

In an Order [6] dated April 19, 2002, Section 1. Conditions for Student
Judge Mijares denied the motion for Practice. – A law student who has successfully
inhibition stating that throwing tenuous completed his 3rd year of the regular four-
allegations of partiality based on the said year prescribed law curriculum and is
remark is not enough to warrant her enrolled in a recognized law school's clinical
voluntary inhibition, considering that it was legal education program approved by the
said even prior to the start of pre-trial. Supreme Court, may appear without

22 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

compensation in any civil, criminal or


administrative case before any trial court, From the clear language of this
tribunal, board or officer, to represent provision of the Rules, it will have to be
indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of conceded that the contention of the
the law school. petitioner has merit. It recognizes the right of
an individual to represent himself in any case
Sec. 2. Appearance. – The appearance to which he is a party. The Rules state that a
of the law student authorized by this rule, party may conduct his litigation personally or
shall be under the direct supervision and with the aid of an attorney, and that his
control of a member of the Integrated Bar of appearance must either be personal or by a
the Philippines duly accredited by the law duly authorized member of the Bar. The
school. Any and all pleadings, motions, briefs, individual litigant may personally do
memoranda or other papers to be filed, must everything in the course of proceedings from
be signed by the supervising attorney for and commencement to the termination of the
in behalf of the legal clinic. litigation. [14] Considering that a party
personally conducting his litigation is
restricted to the same rules of evidence and
The respondent court held that the procedure as those qualified to practice law,
petitioner could not appear for himself and [15] petitioner, not being a lawyer himself,
on his behalf because of his failure to comply runs the risk of falling into the snares and
with Rule 138-A. In denying petitioner’s hazards of his own ignorance. Therefore,
appearance, the court a quo tersely finds Cruz as plaintiff, at his own instance, can
refuge in the fact that, on December 18, personally conduct the litigation of Civil Case
1986, this Court issued Circular No. 19, which No. 01-0410. He would then be acting not as
eventually became Rule 138-A, and the a counsel or lawyer, but as a party exercising
failure of Cruz to prove on record that he is his right to represent himself.
enrolled in a recognized school’s clinical legal
education program and is under supervision The trial court must have been misled
of an attorney duly accredited by the law by the fact that the petitioner is a law student
school. and must, therefore, be subject to the
conditions of the Law Student Practice Rule.
However, the petitioner insisted that It erred in applying Rule 138-A, when the
the basis of his appearance was Section 34 of basis of the petitioner’s claim is Section 34 of
Rule 138, which provides: Rule 138. The former rule provides for
conditions when a law student may appear in
Sec. 34. By whom litigation is courts, while the latter rule allows the
conducted. - In the court of a justice of the appearance of a non-lawyer as a party
peace, a party may conduct his litigation in representing himself.
person, with the aid of an agent or friend
appointed by him for that purpose, or with The conclusion of the trial court that
the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a Rule 138-A superseded Rule 138 by virtue of
party may conduct his litigation personally or Circular No. 19 is misplaced. The Court never
by aid of an attorney, and his appearance intended to repeal Rule 138 when it released
must be either personal or by a duly the guidelines for limited law student
authorized member of the bar. practice. In fact, it was intended as an
addendum to the instances when a non-
lawyer may appear in courts and was
and is a rule distinct from Rule 138-A.

23 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

incorporated to the Rules of Court through she said: “Hay naku, masama ‘yung
Rule 138-A. marunong pa sa Huwes. Ok?” Petitioner avers
that by denying his motion, the respondent
It may be relevant to recall that, in judge already manifested conduct indicative
respect to the constitutional right of an of arbitrariness and prejudice, causing
accused to be heard by himself and counsel, petitioner’s and his co-plaintiff’s loss of faith
[16] this Court has held that during the trial, and confidence in the respondent’s
the right to counsel cannot be waived. [17] impartiality.
The rationale for this ruling was articulated in
People v. Holgado, [18] where we declared We do not agree.
that “even the most intelligent or educated
man may have no skill in the science of law, It must be noted that because of this
particularly in the rules of procedure, and incident, the petitioner filed an
without counsel, he may be convicted not administrative case [19] against the
because he is guilty but because he does not respondent for violation of the Canons of
know how to establish his innocence.” Judicial Ethics, which we dismissed for lack of
merit on September 15, 2002. We now adopt
The case at bar involves a civil case, the Court’s findings of fact in the
with the petitioner as plaintiff therein. The administrative case and rule that there was
solicitous concern that the Constitution no grave abuse of discretion on the part of
accords the accused in a criminal prosecution Judge Mijares when she did not inhibit
obviously does not obtain in a civil case. herself from the trial of the case.
Thus, a party litigant in a civil case, who insists
that he can, without a lawyer’s assistance, In a Motion for Inhibition, the movant
effectively undertake the successful pursuit must prove the ground for bias and prejudice
of his claim, may be given the chance to do by clear and convincing evidence to
so. In this case, petitioner alleges that he is a disqualify a judge from participating in a
law student and impliedly asserts that he has particular trial, [20] as voluntary inhibition is
the competence to litigate the case himself. primarily a matter of conscience and
Evidently, he is aware of the perils incident to addressed to the sound discretion of the
this decision. judge. The decision on whether she should
inhibit herself must be based on her rational
In addition, it was subsequently and logical assessment of the circumstances
clarified in Bar Matter 730, that by virtue of prevailing in the case before her. [21] Absent
Section 34, Rule 138, a law student may clear and convincing proof of grave abuse of
appear as an agent or a friend of a party discretion on the part of the judge, this Court
litigant, without need of the supervision of a will rule in favor of the presumption that
lawyer, before inferior courts. Here, we have official duty has been regularly performed.
a law student who, as party litigant, wishes to
represent himself in court. We should grant In fine, the Court PARTIALLY
his wish. GRANTED the petition, modified the assailed
Resolution and Order of the Regional Trial
Additionally, however, petitioner Court, Branch 108, Pasay City, and directed it
contends that the respondent judge to ADMIT the Entry of Appearance of
committed manifest bias and partiality by petitioner in Civil Case No. 01-0410 as a party
ruling that there is no valid ground for her litigant.
voluntary inhibition despite her alleged
negative demeanor during the pre-trial when In re Atty. Marcial Edillon,

24 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

84 SCRA 554, August 03, 1978 clothed with public interest because a lawyer
Bar Integration; Attorneys; owes substantial duties not only to his client,
Disbarment; Payment of membership dues; but also to his brethren in the profession, to
Integration of the Bar, its concept and the courts, and to the nation, and takes part
purpose.—An “Integrated Bar” is a State- in one of the most important functions of the
organized Bar, to which every lawyer must State—the administration of justice—as an
belong, as distinguished from bar officer of the court. The practice of law being
associations organized by individual lawyers clothed with public interest, the holder of this
themselves, membership in which is privilege must submit to a degree of control
voluntary. Integration of the Bar is essentially for the common good, to the extent of the
a process by which every member of the Bar interest he has created. As the U. S. Supreme
is afforded an opportunity to do his share in Court through Mr. Justice Roberts explained,
carrying out the objectives of the Bar as well the expression “affected with a public
as obliged to hear his portion of its interest” is the equivalent of “subject to the
responsibilities. Organized by or under the exercise of the police power”.
direction of the State, an Integrated Bar is an
official national body of which all lawyers are Same; Same; Same; Courts; Supreme
required to be members. They are, therefore, Court authorized to adopt rules of court to
subject to all the rules prescribed for the effect integration of the Philippine Bar;
governance of the Bar, including the Purposes of integration of the Bar.—When,
requirement of payment of a reasonable therefore. Congress enacted Republic Act
annual fee for the effective discharge of the No. 6397 authorizing the Supreme Court to
purposes of the Bar, and adherence to a code “adopt rules of court to effect the integration
of professional ethics or professional of the Philippine Bar under such conditions
responsibility breach of which constitutes as it shall see fit,” it did so in the exercise of
sufficient reason for investigation by the Bar the paramount-police power of the State.
and, upon proper cause appearing, a The Act’s avowal is to “raise the standards of
recommendation for discipline or the legal profession, improve the
disbarment of the offending member. The administration of justice, and enable the Bar
integration of the Philippine Bar was to discharge its public responsibility more
obviously dictated by overriding effectively.” Hence, the Congress in enacting
considerations of public interest and public such Act, the Court in ordaining the
welfare to such an extent as more than integration of the Bar through its Resolution
constitutionally and legally justifies the promulgated on January 9, 1973, and the
restrictions that integration imposes upon President of the Philippines in decreeing the
the personal interests and personal constitution of the IBP into a body corporate
convenience of individual lawyers. through Presidential Decree No. 181 dated
May 4, 1973, were prompted by fundamental
Same; Same; Same; Police power; considerations of public welfare and
Integration of the Bar is a valid exercise of motivated by a desire to meet the demands
police power of the State; Practice of law, of pressing public necessity. The State, in
nature of.—Apropos to the above, it must be order to promote the general welfare, may
stressed that all legislation directing the interfere with and regulate personal liberty,
integration of the Bar have been uniformly property and occupations. Persons and
and universally sustained as a valid exercise property may be subjected to restraints and
of the police power over an important burdens in order to secure the general
profession. The practice of law is not a vested prosperity and welfare of the State (U.S.
right but a privilege, a privilege moreover Gomez, Jesus, 31 Phil. 218), for, as the Latin

25 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

maxim goes, “Salus populi eat suprema lex.” Act No. 6397), and looking solely to the
The public welfare is the supreme law. To this language of the provision of the Constitution
fundamental principle of government the granting the Supreme Court the power “to
rights of individuals are subordinated. Liberty promulgate rules concerning pleading,
is a blessing without which life is a misery, but practice and procedure in all courts, and the
liberty should not be made to prevail over admission to the practice of law,” it at once
authority because then society will fall into becomes indubitable that this constitutional
anarchy (Calalang vs. Williams, 70, Phil. 726). declaration vests the Supreme Court with
It is an undoubted power of the State to plenary power in all cases regarding the
restrain some individuals from all freedom, admission to and supervision of the practice
and all individuals from some freedom. of law.

Same; Same; Same; Practice of law Same; Same; Same; Same;


and exercise of the legal profession clothed Membership dues; Effect of Bar integration
with public interest and lawyers must be upon a lawyer’s freedom of association;
bound by such regulations as might be Compelling a lawyer to be a member of the
established by the proper authorities for the Integrated Bar not violative of the
common good; Reasons.—Thus, when the constitutional freedom to associate but the
respondent Edillon entered upon the legal only compulsion a lawyer is subjected is the
profession, his practice of law and his payment of annual dues which is not
exercise of the said profession, which affect violation of the Constitution; Compulsion
the society at large, were (and are) subject to upon a lawyer if any justified by exercise of
the power of the body politic to require him police power of the State; Reasons.—The first
to conform to such regulations as might be objection posed by the respondent is that
established by the proper authorities for the the Court is without power to compel him to
common good, even to the extent of become a member of the Integrated Bar of
interfering with some of his liberties. If he did the Philippines, hence, Section 1 of the Court
not wish to submit himself to such Rule is unconstitutional for it impinges on his
reasonable interference and regulation, he constitutional right of freedom to associate
should not have clothed the public with an (and not to associate). Our answer is: To
interest in his concerns. compel a lawyer to be a member of the
Integrated Bar is no violative of his
Same; Same; Same; Constitutional constitution freedom to associate.
Law; Constitutionality and validity of Bar Integration does not make a lawyer a
integration sustained by explicit grant of member of any group of which he is not
precise power to the Supreme Court under already a member. He became a member of
Art. X of the 1973 Constitution resting the the Bar when he passed the Bar
Court with plenary power in all cases examinations. All that integration actually
regarding admistion to and supervision of does is to provide an official national
the practice of law.—But the most organization for the well-defined but
compelling argument sustaining the unorganized and incohesive group of which
constitutionality and validity of Bar every lawyer is already a member. Bar
Integration in the Philippines is the explicit Integration does not compel the lawyer to
unequivocal grant of precise power to the associate with anyone. He is free to attend or
Supreme Court by Section 5 (5) of Article X of not attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar
the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines. xxx Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its
Quite apart from the above, let it be stated elections as he chooses. The only compulsion
that even without the enabling Act (Republic to which he is subjected is the payment of

26 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order to provisions would amount to a deprivation of
further the State’s legitimate interest in property without due process and hence
elevating the quality of professional legal infringes on one of his constitutional rights.
services, may require that the cost of Whether the practice of law is property right,
improving the professional in his fashion be in the sense of its being one that entitles the
shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of holder of a license to practise of law is a
the regulatory program—the lawyers. property right, in the sense of its being one
Assuming that the questioned provision does that entitles the holder of a license to practise
in a sense compel a lawyer to be member of a profession, we do not here pause to
the Integrated Bar, such compulsion is consider at length, as it is clear that under the
justified as an exercise of the police power of police power of the State, and under
the State. necessary powers granted to the Court to
perpetuate its existence, the respondent’s
Same; Same; Same: Same; Same; right to practise law before the courts of this
Provisions of the Court Rule requiring country should be and is a matter subject to
payment of membership dues by lawyers not regulation and inquiry. And, if the power to
violative of the Constitution; The 1973 imposed the fee as regulatory measure is
Constitution does not prohibit the Supreme recognized, then a penalty designed to
Court from requiring lawyers to pay enforce its payment, which penalty may be
reasonable membership fees; Nature of avoided altogether by payment, is not void
membership fees.—The second issue posed as unreasonable or arbitrary. But we must
by the respondent is that the provision of the here emphasize that the practice of law is not
Court Rule repairing payment of a a property right but a mere privilege, and as
membership fee is void. We see nothing in such must bow to the inherent regulatory
the Constitution that prohibits the Court, power of the Court to exact compliance with
under its constitutional power and duty to the lawyer’s public responsibilities.
promulgate rules concerning the admission
to the practice of law and the integration of Same; Same; Same; Same; Same;
the Philippine Bar (Article X, Section 5 of the Supreme Court; Jurisdiction; The Supreme
1973 Constitution)—which power the Court has power and jurisdiction to strike the
respondent acknowledges—from requiring name of a lawyer from its Roll of Attorneys;
members of a privileged class, such as Court’s jurisdiction provided for in the 1973
lawyers are, to pay a reasonable fee toward Constitution.—Relative to the issue of the
defraying the expenses of regulation of the power and/or jurisdiction of the Supreme
profession to which they belong. It is quite Court to strike the name of a lawyer from its
apparent that the fee is indeed imposed as a Roll of Attorneys, it is sufficient to state that
regulatory measure, designed to raise funds the matters of admission, suspension,
for carrying out the objectives and purposes disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers and
of integration. their regulation and supervision have been
and are indisputably recognized as inherent
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; judicial functions and responsibilities, and
Penalties; Enforcement of penalty provisions the authorities holding such are legion. The
for non-payment of membership dues not a Court’s jurisdiction was greatly reinforced by
deprivation of due process; Reasons; Practice our 1973 Constitution when it explicitly
of law in the courts subject to regulation and granted to the Court the power to
inquiry; Practice of law is not property right “promulgate rules concerning pleading,
but mere privilege.—That respondent further practice . . . . . . . and the admission to the
argues that the enforcement of the penalty practice of law and the integration of the Bar

27 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

. . . . .” (Article X, Sec. 5[5]) The power to pass Atty. Arevalo wrote a letter to the SC
upon the fitness of the respondent to remain requesting for exemption from payment of
a member of the legal profession is indeed his IBP dues from 1977-2005 in the amount
undoubtedly vested in the Court. of P12,035.00. He contends that after
admission to the Bar he worked at the Civil
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Rule Service Commission then migrated to the US
of Court 139-A and ByLaws of the Integrated until his retirement. His contention to be
Bar providing for payment of membership exempt is that his employment with the CSC
dues are neither unconstitutional nor illegal; prohibits him to practice his law profession
Respondent lawyer disbarred and his name and he did not practice the same while in the
striken from the Roll of Attorneys in the US. The compulsion that he pays his IBP
Supreme Court for repeated failure to pay annual membership is oppressive since he
membership dues; Case at bar.—We thus has an inactive status as a lawyer. His removal
reach the conclusion that the provisions of from the profession because of non-payment
Rule of Court 139-A and of the By-Laws of of the same constitutes to the deprivation of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines his property rights bereft of due process of
complained of are neither unconstitutional the law.
nor illegal. x x x It is the unanimous sense of
the Court that the respondent Marcial A. Issues: 1. Is petitioner entitled to exemption
Edillon should be as he is hereby disbarred, from payment of his dues during the time
and his name is hereby ordered stricken from that he was inactive in the practice of law that
the Roll of Attorneys of the Court. is, when he was in the Civil Service from
1962-1986 and he was working abroad from
Letter of Atty. Cecilio Y. Arevalo, Jr., 1986-2003?
Requesting Exemption from Payment of
IBP Dues, B.M. No. 1370. May 9, 2005 2. Does the enforcement of the penalty of
The Supreme Court shall have the following removal amount to a deprivation of property
powers: without due process?
xxx
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the Held: 1. No. A membership fee in the Bar
protection and enforcement of constitutional association is an exaction for regulation. If
rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in the judiciary has inherent power to regulate
all courts, the admission to the practice of the Bar, it follows that as an incident to
law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance regulation, it may impose a membership fee
to the underprivileged. Such rules shall for that purpose. It would not be possible to
provide a simplified and inexpensive put on an integrated Bar program without
procedure for the speedy disposition of means to defray the expenses. The doctrine
cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the of implied powers necessarily carries with it
same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, the power to impose such exaction.
or modify substantive rights. Rules of
procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial The payment of dues is a necessary
bodies shall remain effective unless consequence of membership in the IBP, of
disapproved by the Supreme Court. (Sec. 5, which no one is exempt. This means that the
Art. VIII, 1987 Constitution) compulsory nature of payment of dues
subsists for as long as ones membership in
Facts: the IBP remains regardless of the lack of
practice of, or the type of practice, the
member is engaged in.

28 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

1997. Respondent’s last payment of his IBP


dues was in 1991. Since then he has not paid
2. No. Whether the practice of law is a or remitted any amount to cover his
property right, in the sense of its being one membership fees up to the present. He
that entitles the holder of a license to practice likewise admit that as appearing in the
a profession, we do not here pause to pleadings submitted by complainant to this
consider at length, as it [is] clear that under Court, he indicated "IBP-Rizal 259060" in the
the police power of the State, and under the pleadings he filed in court, at least for the
necessary powers granted to the Court to years 1995, 1996, and 1997, thus
perpetuate its existence, the respondents misrepresenting that such was his IBP
right to practice law before the courts of this chapter membership and receipt number for
country should be and is a matter subject to the years in which those pleadings were filed.
regulation and inquiry. And, if the power to He claims, however, that he is only engaged
impose the fee as a regulatory measure is in a "limited" practice and that he believes in
recognize[d], then a penalty designed to good faith that he is exempt from the
enforce its payment, which penalty may be payment of taxes, such as income tax, under
avoided altogether by payment, is not void R.A. No. 7432, as a senior citizen since 1992.
as unreasonable or arbitrary.

But we must here emphasize that the practice ISSUES: Whether or not the respondent has
of law is not a property right but a mere misled the court about his standing in the IBP
privilege, and as such must bow to the by using the same IBP O.R. number in his
inherent regulatory power of the Court to pleadings of at least 6 years and therefore
exact compliance with the lawyers public liable for his actions.
responsibilities.
Whether or not the respondent is exempt
As a final note, it must be borne in mind that from paying his membership dues owing to
membership in the bar is a privilege limited practice of law and for being a senior
burdened with conditions, one of which is the citizen.
payment of membership dues. Failure to
abide by any of them entails the loss of such
privilege if the gravity thereof warrants such HELD: Yes. By indicating "IBP-Rizal 259060" in
drastic move. his pleadings and thereby misrepresenting to
the public and the courts that he had paid his
SANTOS JR. VS. ATTY LLAMAS (AC 4749 IBP dues to the Rizal Chapter, respondent is
01/20/2000) guilty of violating the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides: Rule 1.01 – A
FACTS: This is a complaint for lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
misrepresentation and non-payment of bar dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. His
membership dues filed against respondent act is also a violation of Rule 10.01 which
Atty. Francisco R. Llamas who for a number provides that: A lawyer shall not do any
of years has not indicated the proper PTR and falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
IBP O.R. Nos. and data (date & palce of court; nor mislead or allow the court to be
issuance) in his pleadings. If at all, he only misled by any artifice.
indicated “IBP Rizal 259060” but he has been
using this for at least 3 years already, as No. Rule 139-A requires that every member
shown by the following attached sample of the Integrated Bar shall pay annual dues
pleadings in various courts in 1995, 1996 & and default thereof for six months shall

29 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

warrant suspension of membership and if Filipino citizen before the Philippine


nonpayment covers a period of 1-year, Consulate General in Toronto, Canada.
default shall be a ground for removal of the Thereafter, he returned to the Philippines and
delinquent’s name from the Roll of Attorneys. now intends to resume his law practice.
It does not matter whether or not respondent ISSUE: Whether petitioner may still resume
is only engaged in “limited” practice of law. practice?
Moreover, While it is true that R.A. No. 7432, RULING: Section 2, Rule 138 of the Rules of
grants senior citizens "exemption from the Court provides an applicant for admission to
payment of individual income taxes: the bar be a citizen of the Philippines, at least
provided, that their annual taxable income twenty-one years of age, of good moral
does not exceed the poverty level as character and a resident of the Philippines.5
determined by the National Economic and He must also produce before this Court
Development Authority (NEDA) for that satisfactory evidence of good moral
year," the exemption however does not character and that no charges against him,
include payment of membership or involving moral turpitude, have been filed or
association dues. are pending in any court in the Philippines.
Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for
Respondent's failure to pay his IBP dues and admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates
his misrepresentation in the pleadings he membership in the Philippine bar and,
filed in court indeed merit the most severe consequently, the privilege to engage in the
penalty. However, in view of respondent's practice of law. In other words, the loss of
advanced age, his express willingness to pay Filipino citizenship ipso jure terminates the
his dues and plea for a more temperate privilege to practice law in the Philippines.
application of the law, we believe the penalty The practice of law is a privilege denied to
of one year suspension from the practice of foreigners.
law or until he has paid his IBP dues, The exception is when Filipino citizenship is
whichever is later, is appropriate. Respondent lost by reason of naturalization as a citizen of
Atty. Francisco R. Llamas is SUSPENDED from another country but subsequently reacquired
the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR, or until pursuant to RA 9225. This is because “all
he has paid his IBP dues, whichever is later. Philippine citizens who become citizens of
another country shall be deemed not to have
Petition for Leave to Resume Practice of lost their Philippine citizenship under the
Law, Benjamin Dacanay 540 SCRA 424 conditions of [RA 9225].” Therefore, a Filipino
lawyer who becomes a citizen of another
FACTS: Petitioner was admitted to the country is deemed never to have lost his
Philippine bar in March 1960. He practiced Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in
law until he migrated to Canada in December accordance with RA 9225.
1998 to seek medical attention for his Before he can resume his law practice, he
ailments. He subsequently applied for must first secure from this Court the
Canadian citizenship to avail of Canada’s free authority to do so, conditioned on:
medical aid program. His application was  the updating and payment of of IBP
approved and he became a Canadian citizen membership dues;
in May 2004.  the payment of professional tax;
In July 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA)  the completion of at least 36 credit
9225 (Citizenship Retention and Re- hours of mandatory continuing legal
Acquisition Act of 2003), petitioner education; this is specially significant
reacquired his Philippine citizenship. On that to refresh the applicant/petitioner’s
day, he took his oath of allegiance as a knowledge of Philippine laws and

30 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

update him of legal developments


and This administrative case stems from a
 the retaking of the lawyer’s oath. complaint filed by complainant Atty. Benigno
T. Bartolome (Bartolome) on May 19, 2009
before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) against respondent Atty. Christopher A.
Jocelyn De Leon v. Atty. Tyrone Basilio (Basilio) for violation of the 2004 Rules
Pedrena, A.C. No. 9401, October on Notarial Practice[2] (Notarial Rules).
22, 2013.
The Facts
Attorney; Gross Immoral Conduct.
Respondent Pedreña, a Public Attorney, was In the complaint, Bartolome alleged that
charged for sexual harassment. The Supreme Basilio, a notary public in Tarlac City,
Court held that the records show that the notarized a document entitled "Joint
respondent rubbed the complainant’s right Affidavit of Non-Tenancy and Aggregate
leg with his hand; tried to insert his finger Landholdings"[3] (Joint Affidavit) purportedly
into her firmly closed hand; grabbed her subscribed and sworn to before him by
hand and forcibly placed it on his crotch area; Loreto M. Tañedo (Tanedo) and Ramon T.
and pressed his finger against her private Lim on January 15, 2006, and supposedly
part. Given the circumstances in which he recorded as Doc. No. 375, Page No. 75, Book
committed them, his acts were not merely No. X, Series of 2007 in his notarial
offensive and undesirable but repulsive, register,[4] despite the fact that Tañedo had
disgraceful and grossly immoral. They already passed away as early as December 1,
constituted misconduct on the part of any 2003.[5]
lawyer. In this regard, immoral conduct is
gross when it is so corrupt as to constitute a In his Answer/Comment[6] dated June 24,
criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be 2009, Basilio admitted having notarized the
reprehensible to a high degree, or when Joint Affidavit but claimed that, prior to the
committed under such scandalous or notarization, he verified the identities of the
revolting circumstances as to shock the persons who appeared before him through
community’s sense of decency. Atty. their respective Social Security System (SSS)
Pedreña’s misconduct was aggravated by the identification cards and driver's licenses. He
fact that he was then a Public Attorney further denied any knowledge that the one
mandated to provide free legal service to who appeared before him misrepresented
indigent litigants, and by the fact that himself as Tañedo and that the latter was
complainant was then such a client. He also already dead as of December 1, 2003.[7]
disregarded his oath as a public officer to
serve others and to be accountable at all During the clarificatory hearing, Basilio, who
times, because he thereby took advantage of undisputedly notarized the Joint Affidavit,
her vulnerability as a client then in desperate admitted his failure to: (a) record the subject
need of his legal assistance. Thus, respondent document in his notarial book; (b) submit a
was meted out the penalty of suspension copy of the same to the Regional Trial Court
from the practice of law for two (2) years. of Tarlac City (RTC); and (c) have the
notarization revoked or recalled.[8]
A.C. No. 10783, October 14, 2015
ATTY. BENIGNO T. BARTOLOME VS. The IBP's Report and Recommendation
ATTY. CHRISTOPHER A. BASILIO

31 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

In a Report and Recommendation[9] dated


June 10, 2010 submitted by IBP Investigating The act of notarization is impressed with
Commissioner Randall C. Tabayoyong public interest.[14] As such, a notary public
(Investigating Commissioner), Basilio was must observe the highest degree of care in
found to have manifested gross negligence complying with the basic requirements in the
and a complete disregard of the Notarial performance of his duties in order to
Rules. The Investigating Commissioner preserve the confidence of the public in the
pointed out that contrary to Section 8, in integrity of the notarial system.[15]
relation to Section 6, Rule II of the Notarial
Rules, Basilio failed to indicate in the Joint In the present case, Basilio, as duly found by
Affidavit the details of the SSS identification the IBP, failed to faithfully comply with his
card and driver's license which were allegedly duties as a notary public.
shown as competent evidence of identity of
the persons who appeared before him. Thus, Section 5 (b), Rule IV of the Notarial Rules
his claim that he verified the identities of the clearly states that:
persons who subscribed the Joint Affidavit
could not be given credence. Basilio also SEC. 5. False or Incomplete Certificate. — A
failed to record in his notarial register his notary public shall not:
notarial act on the Joint Affidavit in violation
of Section 2 (a), Rule VI of the Notarial Rules. xxxx
Lastly, the Investigating Commissioner found (b) affix an official signature or seal on a
that Basilio failed to submit a copy of the notarial certificate that is incomplete.
Joint Affidavit to the Clerk of Court of the (Emphases supplied)
RTC, contrary to Section 2 (h), Rule VI of the
Notarial Rules.[10] Accordingly, he A notarial certificate, as defined in Section 8,
recommended that Basilio's notarial Rule II of the Notarial Rules, requires a
commission, if still existing, be revoked; he be statement of the facts attested to by the
disqualified from obtaining a notarial notary public in a particular notarization, viz.:
commission for a period of one (1) year and
suspended from the practice of law for six (6) SEC. 8. Notarial Certificate. — "Notarial
months.[11] Certificate" refers to the part of, or
attachment to, a notarized instrument or
In a Resolution[12] dated December 29, document that is completed by the notary
2012, the IBP Board of Governors adopted public, bears the notary's signature and seal,
and approved the Investigating and states the facts attested to by the notary
Commissioner's Report and public in a particular notarization as provided
Recommendation. Dissatisfied, Basilio filed a for by these Rules. (Emphasis supplied)
motion for reconsideration, which was
denied in a Resolution[13] dated September Meanwhile, a jurat is, among others, an
27, 2014. attestation that the person who presented
the instrument or document to be notarized
The Issue Before the Court is personally known to the notary public or
identified by the notary public through
The sole issue for the Court's resolution is competent evidence of identity as defined by
whether or not the IBP correctly found Basilio the Notarial Rules:[16]
liable for violation of the Notarial Rules.
SEC. 6. Jurat. — "Jurat" refers to an act in
The Court's Ruling which an individual on a single occasion:

32 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

(a) appears in person before the notary (b) A person shall not perform a notarial act
public and presents an instrument or if the person involved as signatory to the
document; instrument or document -
(1) is not in the notary's presence personally
(b) is personally known to the notary public at the time of the notarization; and
or identified by the notary public through
competent evidence of identity as defined by (2) is not personally known to the notary
these Rules; public or otherwise identified by the notary
public through competent evidence of
(c) signs the instrument or document in the identity as defined by these Rules. (Emphasis
presence of the notary; and supplied)

(d) takes an oath or affirmation before the To add, Basilio himself admitted that he
notary public as to such instrument or failed to record his notarial act on the Joint
document. (Emphasis supplied) Affidavit in his notarial register, contrary to
Section 2 (a), Rule VI of the Notarial Rules,
As the records bear out, Basilio affixed his which states:
official signature and seal on the notarial
certificate of the Joint Affidavit without SEC. 2. Entries in the Notarial Register. — (a)
properly identifying the person/s who signed For every notarial act, the notary shall record
the same. His claim that he verified the in the notarial register at the time of
identities of the affiants through their notarization the following:
respective SSS identification cards and (1) the entry number and page number;
driver's licenses cannot be given any
credence considering the ostensible lack of (2) the date and time of day of the notarial
their details on the face of the certificate. act;
Neither was he able to provide the fact of
identification in any way. On the other hand, (3) the type of notarial act;
it has been established that one of the
named signatories to the Joint Affidavit was (4) the title or description of the instrument,
already dead when he notarized the document or proceeding;
aforesaid document. Hence, it is sufficiently
clear that Basilio had indeed affixed his (5) the name and address of each principal;
official signature and seal on an incomplete,
if not false, notarial certificate. (6) the competent evidence of identity as
defined by these Rules if the signatory is not
Moreover, by the same account, Basilio personally known to the notary;
violated Section 2 (b), Rule IV of the Notarial
Rules which prohibits the notarization of a (7) the name and address of each credible
document if the person involved is not witness swearing to or affirming the person's
personally known to the notary public or has identity;
not identified himself through competent
evidence of identity: (8) the fee charged for the notarial act;

SEC. 2. Prohibitions. - x x x (9) the address where the notarization was


performed if not in the notary's regular place
xxxx of work or business; and

33 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

and personally appeared before him to attest


(10) any other circumstance the notary public to the contents and the truth of what are
may deem of significance or relevance. stated therein.[22] By failing in this regard,
x x x x (Emphases supplied) the notary public permits a falsehood which
does not only transgress the Notarial Rules
Since the notarial register is a record of the but also Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
notary public's official acts, he is charged Professional Responsibility, which provides
with recording therein the necessary that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
information regarding the document or dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."[23]
instrument notarized. If the document or Verily, a notarized document is, by law,
instrument does not appear in the notarial entitled to full faith and credit upon its face;
records, doubt as to its nature arises so that and it is for this reason that a notary public
the alleged notarized document cannot be must observe with utmost care the basic
considered a public document.[17] requirements in the performance of his
Considering the evidentiary value given to duties; otherwise, the public's confidence in
the notarized documents, the failure of the the integrity of a notarized document would
notary public to record the document in his be undermined.
notarial register is tantamount to falsely
making it appear that the document was As herein discussed, Basilio's failure to
notarized when, in fact, it was not,[18] as in properly perform his duty as a notary public
this case. resulted not only in damage to those directly
affected by the notarized document, but also
It should be clarified, however, that while in undermining the integrity of the office of a
Basilio had also failed to submit a copy of the notary public and in degrading the function
Joint Affidavit to the Clerk of Court of the of notarization. In fine, he should be meted
RTC, and to retain a copy thereof for his own out with the modified penalty of
records, the requirement therefor, as stated disqualification from being commissioned as
under Section 2 (h),[19] Rule VI of the notary public for a period of two (2) years and
Notarial Rules, applies only to instruments suspension from the practice of law for one
acknowledged before the notary public. (1) year. Although there is no showing that
Documents like the Joint Affidavit which Basilio prepared the document in question,
contain a jurat and not an acknowledgment his utter disregard of the Notarial Rules as
are not required to be forwarded to the Clerk exhibited during the proceedings before the
of Court. Hence, there should be no IBP, together with his admitted failure to
administrative infraction on this score. revoke or recall his notarization despite his
Nevertheless, Basilio's afore-discussed knowledge of its irregularity, warrants the
violations of the Notarial Rules are grave same treatment as the errant lawyer in
enough to warrant sanctions from the Court. Agbulos v. Viray:[24]

A notary public exercises duties calling for [T]he Court finds the need to increase that
carefulness and faithfulness.[20] Notaries recommended by the IBP which is one month
must inform themselves of the facts they suspension as a lawyer and six months
certify to; most importantly, they should not suspension as notary public, considering that
take part or allow themselves to be part of respondent himself prepared the document,
illegal transactions.[21] In line with this and he performed the notarial act without
mandate, a notary public should not notarize the personal appearance of the affiant and
a document unless the person who signed without identifying her with competent
the same is the very person who executed evidence of her identity. With his

34 | Peejay Notes
Legal Ethics | Atty Razo | Wednesdays | 5:30 to 8:30 PM

indiscretion, he allowed the use of a CTC by


someone who did not own it. Worse, he
allowed himself to be an instrument of fraud.
Based on existing jurisprudence, when a
lawyer commissioned as a notary public fails
to discharge his duties as such, he is meted
the penalties of revocation of his notarial
commission, disqualification from being
commissioned as a notary public for a period
of two years, and suspension from the
practice of law for one year.[25] (Emphasis
supplied)

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent


Atty. Christopher A. Basilio GUILTY of
violating the 2004 Rules of Notarial Practice
and Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, the
Court hereby SUSPENDS him from the
practice of law for one (1) year; REVOKES his
incumbent commission as a notary public, if
any; and PROHIBITS him from being
commissioned as a notary public for two (2)
years, effective immediately. He is WARNED
that a repetition of the same offense or
similar acts in the future shall be dealt with
more severely.

35 | Peejay Notes