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FERDINAND A. CRUZ, 332 Edang St.

, Pasay City, Petitioner, versus JUDGE conduct of the trial could be inferred from the contumacious remarks of
PRISCILLA MIJARES, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 108, Pasay City, Judge Mijares during the pre-trial. It asserts that the judge, in uttering an
Metro Manila, Public Respondent. / BENJAMIN MINA, JR., 332 Edang St., Pasay City uncalled for remark, reflects a negative frame of mind, which engenders the
Private Respondent. belief that justice will not be served.[5]
G.R. No. 154464 | 2008-09-11
In an Order[6] dated April 19, 2002, Judge Mijares denied the motion for
Discussions citing this case or law are available. inhibition stating that throwing tenuous allegations of partiality based on
Pro Se Representation (Section 34 of Rule 138, Rules of Court)
the said remark is not enough to warrant her voluntary inhibition,
Law Student Practice Rule (Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court)
considering that it was said even prior to the start of pre-trial. Petitioner
filed a motion for reconsideration[7] of the said order.
On May 10, 2002, Judge Mijares denied the motion with finality.[8] In the
same Order, the trial court held that for the failure of petitioner Cruz to
This is a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus, with prayer for
submit the promised document and jurisprudence, and for his failure to
the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction under Rule 65 of the Rules
satisfy the requirements or conditions under Rule 138-A of the Rules of
of Court. It was directly filed with this Court assailing the Resolutions dated
Court, his appearance was denied.
May 10, 2002[1] and July 31, 2002[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 108, Pasay City, which denied the appearance of the plaintiff
In a motion for reconsideration,[9] petitioner reiterated that the basis of his
Ferdinand A. Cruz, herein petitioner, as party litigant, and the refusal of the
appearance was not Rule 138-A, but Section 34 of Rule 138. He contended
public respondent, Judge Priscilla Mijares, to voluntarily inhibit herself from
that the two Rules were distinct and are applicable to different
trying the case. No writ of preliminary injunction was issued by this Court.
circumstances, but the respondent judge denied the same, still invoking
Rule 138-A, in an Order[10] dated July 31, 2002.
The antecedents:
On August 16, 2002, the petitioner directly filed with this Court, the instant
On March 5, 2002, Ferdinand A. Cruz (petitioner) sought permission to
petition and assigns the following errors:
enter his appearance for and on his behalf, before the RTC, Branch 108,
Pasay City, as the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 01-0410, for Abatement of
Nuisance. Petitioner, a fourth year law student, anchors his claim on
Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court[3] that a non-lawyer may
appear before any court and conduct his litigation personally.
During the pre-trial, Judge Priscilla Mijares required the petitioner to secure
a written permission from the Court Administrator before he could be
allowed to appear as counsel for himself, a party-litigant. Atty. Stanley
Cabrera, counsel for Benjamin Mina, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss instead of
a pre-trial brief to which petitioner Cruz vehemently objected alleging that a
Motion to Dismiss is not allowed after the Answer had been filed. Judge
Mijares then remarked, "Hay naku, masama 'yung marunong pa sa Huwes.
Ok?" and proceeded to hear the pending Motion to Dismiss and calendared
The core issues raised before the Court are: (1) whether the extraordinary
the next hearing on May 2, 2002.
writs of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus under Rule 65 of the 1997
Rules of Court may issue; and (2) whether the respondent court acted with
On March 6, 2002, petitioner Cruz filed a Manifestation and Motion to
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it
Inhibit,[4] praying for the voluntary inhibition of Judge Mijares. The Motion
denied the appearance of the petitioner as party litigant and when the
alleged that expected partiality on the part of the respondent judge in the
judge refused to inhibit herself from trying the case.
This Court's jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus The respondent court held that the petitioner could not appear for himself
and injunction is not exclusive; it has concurrent jurisdiction with the RTCs and on his behalf because of his failure to comply with Rule 138-A. In
and the Court of Appeals. This concurrence of jurisdiction is not, however, denying petitioner's appearance, the court a quo tersely finds refuge in the
to be taken as an absolute, unrestrained freedom to choose the court fact that, on December 18, 1986, this Court issued Circular No. 19, which
where the application therefor will be directed.[11] A becoming regard of eventually became Rule 138-A, and the failure of Cruz to prove on record
the judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance that he is enrolled in a recognized school's clinical legal education program
of extraordinary writs against the RTCs should be filed with the Court of and is under supervision of an attorney duly accredited by the law school.
Appeals.[12] The hierarchy of courts is determinative of the appropriate
forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs; and only in exceptional However, the petitioner insisted that the basis of his appearance was
cases and for compelling reasons, or if warranted by the nature of the Section 34 of Rule 138, which provides:
issues reviewed, may this Court take cognizance of petitions filed directly
before it.[13] Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. - In the court of a justice of the
peace, a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent
Considering, however, that this case involves the interpretation of Section or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney.
34, Rule 138 and Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, the Court takes In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of
cognizance of herein petition. Nonetheless, the petitioner is cautioned not an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly
to continue his practice of filing directly before this Court petitions under authorized member of the bar.
Rule 65 when the issue raised can be resolved with dispatch by the Court of
Appeals. We will not tolerate litigants who make a mockery of the judicial and is a rule distinct from Rule 138-A.
hierarchy as it necessarily delays more important concerns before us.
From the clear language of this provision of the Rules, it will have to be
In resolving the second issue, a comparative reading of Rule 138, Section conceded that the contention of the petitioner has merit. It recognizes the
34 and Rule 138-A is necessary. right of an individual to represent himself in any case to which he is a
party. The Rules state that a party may conduct his litigation personally or
Rule 138-A, or the Law Student Practice Rule, provides: with the aid of an attorney, and that his appearance must either be
personal or by a duly authorized member of the Bar. The individual litigant
RULE 138-A may personally do everything in the course of proceedings from
commencement to the termination of the litigation.[14] Considering that a
LAW STUDENT PRACTICE RULE party personally conducting his litigation is restricted to the same rules of
evidence and procedure as those qualified to practice law,[15] petitioner,
Section 1. Conditions for Student Practice. - A law student who has not being a lawyer himself, runs the risk of falling into the snares and
successfully completed his 3rd year of the regular four-year prescribed law hazards of his own ignorance. Therefore, Cruz as plaintiff, at his own
curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law school's clinical legal instance, can personally conduct the litigation of Civil Case No. 01-0410. He
education program approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without would then be acting not as a counsel or lawyer, but as a party exercising
compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial his right to represent himself.
court, tribunal, board or officer, to represent indigent clients accepted by
the legal clinic of the law school. The trial court must have been misled by the fact that the petitioner is a
law student and must, therefore, be subject to the conditions of the Law
Sec. 2. Appearance. - The appearance of the law student authorized by this Student Practice Rule. It erred in applying Rule 138-A, when the basis of
rule, shall be under the direct supervision and control of a member of the the petitioner's claim is Section 34 of Rule 138. The former rule provides for
Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by the law school. Any and conditions when a law student may appear in courts, while the latter rule
all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed, must allows the appearance of a non-lawyer as a party representing himself.
be signed by the supervising attorney for and in behalf of the legal clinic.
The conclusion of the trial court that Rule 138-A superseded Rule 138 by of Judicial Ethics, which we dismissed for lack of merit on September 15,
virtue of Circular No. 19 is misplaced. The Court never intended to repeal 2002. We now adopt the Court's findings of fact in the administrative case
Rule 138 when it released the guidelines for limited law student practice. In and rule that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of Judge
fact, it was intended as an addendum to the instances when a non-lawyer Mijares when she did not inhibit herself from the trial of the case.
may appear in courts and was incorporated to the Rules of Court through
Rule 138-A. In a Motion for Inhibition, the movant must prove the ground for bias and
prejudice by clear and convincing evidence to disqualify a judge from
It may be relevant to recall that, in respect to the constitutional right of an participating in a particular trial,[20] as voluntary inhibition is primarily a
accused to be heard by himself and counsel,[16] this Court has held that matter of conscience and addressed to the sound discretion of the judge.
during the trial, the right to counsel cannot be waived.[17] The rationale for The decision on whether she should inhibit herself must be based on her
this ruling was articulated in People v. Holgado,[18] where we declared that rational and logical assessment of the circumstances prevailing in the case
"even the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the science before her.[21] Absent clear and convincing proof of grave abuse of
of law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and without counsel, he may discretion on the part of the judge, this Court will rule in favor of the
be convicted not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to presumption that official duty has been regularly performed.
establish his innocence."
WHEREFORE, the Petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The assailed
The case at bar involves a civil case, with the petitioner as plaintiff therein. Resolution and Order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 108, Pasay City
The solicitous concern that the Constitution accords the accused in a are MODIFIED. Regional Trial Court, Branch 108, Pasay City is DIRECTED
criminal prosecution obviously does not obtain in a civil case. Thus, a party to ADMIT the Entry of Appearance of petitioner in Civil Case No. 01-0410
litigant in a civil case, who insists that he can, without a lawyer's as a party litigant.
assistance, effectively undertake the successful pursuit of his claim, may be
given the chance to do so. In this case, petitioner alleges that he is a law No pronouncement as to costs.
student and impliedly asserts that he has the competence to litigate the
case himself. Evidently, he is aware of the perils incident to this decision. SO ORDERED.

In addition, it was subsequently clarified in Bar Matter 730, that by virtue of

Section 34, Rule 138, a law student may appear as an agent or a friend of a
party litigant, without need of the supervision of a lawyer, before inferior
courts. Here, we have a law student who, as party litigant, wishes to
represent himself in court. We should grant his wish.

Additionally, however, petitioner contends that the respondent judge

committed manifest bias and partiality by ruling that there is no valid
ground for her voluntary inhibition despite her alleged negative demeanor
during the pre-trial when she said: "Hay naku, masama 'yung marunong pa
sa Huwes. Ok?" Petitioner avers that by denying his motion, the respondent
judge already manifested conduct indicative of arbitrariness and prejudice,
causing petitioner's and his co-plaintiff's loss of faith and confidence in the
respondent's impartiality.

We do not agree.

It must be noted that because of this incident, the petitioner filed an

administrative case[19] against the respondent for violation of the Canons
People vs. Santocildes (1999) 1. The right of the accused to be heard by himself and his counsel goes
G.R. No. 109149 | 1999-12-21 much deeper than the question of ability or skill. It lies at the heart of our
adversarial system of justice.
2. Where the interplay of basic rights of the individual may collide with the
The Rationale for the Need of a Professional to Defend the Accused; awesome forces of the state, a professional learned in the law is needed, as
Accused has a Right to be Represented by a Member of the Bar; The Right well as ethically committed to defend the accused by all means fair and
to Counsel Stems proceeds from the Fundamental Principle of Due Process; reasonable.
The Constitution and Rules of Criminal Procedure assures the Right to
Counsel of an Accused; A Person Unauthorized to Practice Law is Liable for Accused has a Right to be Represented by a Member of the Bar
Indirect Contempt
3. An accused person is entitled to be represented by a member of the
Facts: bar in a criminal case filed against her before the Regional Trial Court.

Appellant Leoncio Santocildes was charged with the crime of rape of a girl 4. Unless she is represented by a lawyer, there is great danger that any
who was less than 9 years old in Iloilo. During arraignment, appellant defense presented in her behalf will be inadequate considering the legal
entered a plea of not guilty. He denied during trial that he raped the girl perquisites and skills needed in the court proceedings. This would certainly
and merely tried to stop the victim and her playmate from quarreling. be adenial of due process.
Thereafter, the trial court found the appellant guilty as charged.
The Right to Counsel Stems proceeds from the Fundamental
Appellant appealed and contended that the deprivation without his fault to Principle of Due Process
be defended by a persona authorized to practice law amounted to the
denial of due process. He mentioned that he was represented during trial by 5. The right of an accused to counsel is guaranteed to minimize the
a person named Gualberto Ompong, who for all intents and purposes acted imbalance in the adversarial system where the accused is pitted against the
as his counsel and even conducted the direct examination and cross- awesome prosecutory machinery of the State.
examinations of the witnesses. On appeal, however, appellant secured the
services of a new lawyer, Atty. Igmedio Prado, Jr., who discovered that 6. Such a right proceeds from the fundamental principle of due
Ompong was actually not a member of the bar. Appellant asseverated that process which basically means that a person must be heard before being
his deprivation of the right to counsel should necessarily result in his condemned. The due process requirement is a part of a person's basic
acquittal of the crime charged. rights.

On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General maintained that The Constitution and Rules of Criminal Procedure assures the Right
despite the fact that appellant's counsel during trial was not a member of to Counsel of an Accused
the bar, appellant was afforded due process since he had been given an
opportunity to be heard and the records revealed that Ompong presented 7. The right to counsel of an accused is enshrined in no less than Article III,
the evidence for the defense with the ability of a seasoned lawyer and in Sections 12 and 14 (2) of the 1987 Constitution. This constitutional
general, handled the case of appellant in a professional and skillful manner. mandate is reflected in Section 1 of Rule 115 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal
Procedure which declares the right of the accused at the trial to be present
Held: in person and by counsel at every stage of the proceedings from the
arraignment to the promulgation of judgment.
The Rationale for the Need of a Professional to Defend the Accused
A Person Unauthorized to Practice Law is Liable for Indirect
8. Jurisprudence has held that the right to practice law is not a natural or Meanwhile, the defendants filed their Opposition[7] to complainant's prayer for preliminary
constitutional right but is in the nature of a privilege or franchise. It is injunction and TRO. The September 28 hearing was held in abeyance after the defendants'
limited to persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly lawyer questioned the authority of complainant to appear on behalf of and as counsel for her co-
ascertained and certified. plaintiff.[8] Respondent gave the defendants ten days[9] to file a motion to disqualify
complainant from appearing as counsel and thereafter to complainant to file her opposition
9. Under Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a person who thereto.
undertakes the unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt
In his Order[10] dated October 19, 2001, respondent denied the defendants' Motion[11] to
of court for assuming to be an attorney and acting as such without
disqualify complainant from appearing on behalf of and as counsel for her co-plaintiff.
Complainant filed a total of three Motions[12] praying for judgment to be rendered on the civil
case. In an Order[13] dated October 19, 2001, respondent denied complainant's Motions
because of the pending hearing for the issuance of a restraining order and an injunction. He
likewise denied the defendants' Motion for extension of time to file an answer.[14] Complainant
IMELDA Y. MADERADA, complainant, vs. Judge ERNESTO H. MEDIODEA, 12th did not ask for a reconsideration of the denial of her Motion for Rendition of Judgment.
Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Cabatuan and Maasin, Iloilo, respondent.
A.M. No. MTJ-02-1459 | 2003-10-14 In his Comment[15] on the Complaint, respondent contends that complainant filed a Petition for
DECISION his inhibition after filing two administrative cases against him. He argues that the mere filing of
administrative charges against judges is not a ground for disqualifying them from hearing cases.
PANGANIBAN, J.: In the exercise of their discretion, however, they may voluntarily disqualify themselves. It is
worth noting that respondent later inhibited himself from Civil Case No. 252. The case was
Under the Rules of Court, parties to a case in a first-level court may -- without having to resign then reassigned to Judge Loida Maputol of the 14th MCTC, San Miguel-Alimodian-Leon,
from their posts -- conduct their own litigation in person as well as appear for and on their own Iloilo.
behalf as plaintiffs or defendants. However, appearing as counsel on behalf of a co-plaintiff
subjects the employee to administrative liability. Respondent avers that the delay in the resolution of the case cannot be attributed to him,
considering that he was mandated by law and the rules of procedure to pass upon every motion
The Case and the Facts presented before him.[16] Besides, complainant allegedly failed to present evidence necessary
for the immediate resolution of her prayer for preliminary injunction.[17] Moreover, she
A Complaint[1] dated January 3, 2002, was filed by Imelda Y. Maderada against Judge Ernesto supposedly failed to exhaust the remedies available to her to question the validity of his Orders.
H. Mediodea of the 12th Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Cabatuan and Maasin, Instead, she tried to compel him to render a decision on the case.[18]
Iloilo. In the Complaint, the judge was charged with "gross ignorance of the law amounting to
grave misconduct" for failing "to observe and apply the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure" Respondent likewise refutes complainant's assertion that she appeared as counsel on her own
in Civil Case No. 252.[2] behalf because she could not afford the services of a lawyer. Such claim was allegedly without
basis, since her compensation and other benefits as clerk of court were more than enough to pay
On September 7, 2001, complainant filed before the 12th MCTC of Cabatuan and Maasin, for the services of counsel.[19] He further alleges that she did not secure authority from this
Iloilo -- presided over by Judge Erlinda Tersol -- an action for forcible entry with a prayer for Court to appear as counsel, and that she failed to file her leave of absence every time she
preliminary injunction, temporary restraining order (TRO) and damages[3] covered by the Rule appeared in court.[20]
on Summary Procedure. Because complainant was the clerk of court in the aforesaid sala, Judge
Tersol inhibited herself from the case. Thus, Executive Judge Tito Gustilo designated Evaluation and Recommendation of the
respondent judge to hear and decide the case.
Court Administrator
In an Order[4] dated September 13, 2001, respondent required the defendants in the civil case
to show cause why the preliminary injunction should not be granted. Respondent judge The OCA agreed with respondent that the issuance of the preliminary injunction prayed for in
scheduled the hearing on September 21, 2001, but defendants therein filed a Manifestation[5] the Complaint should first be resolved before judgment should be rendered in the principal
on September 17, 2001, praying that they be given an additional period of ten days to file an action. However, it opined that the prayer for preliminary injunction should have been decided
answer. After the September 21 hearing, respondent reset the hearing to September 28, 2001.[6] within 30 days from the filing thereof. It noted that both the motion for preliminary injunction
and the principal action for forcible entry remained unresolved even after four months had the judgment or final order, requiring a party or a court, an agency or a person to refrain from
already lapsed since the filing of Civil Case No. 252. doing a particular act or acts.[28] It may also require the performance of a particular act or acts,
in which case it is known as a preliminary mandatory injunction.[29] Since this remedy is
Accordingly, the OCA recommended that respondent judge be fined in the amount of P1,000 granted prior to the judgment or final order, we agree with both the OCA and respondent that
with a stern warning that a similar infraction in the future would be dealt with more the prayer for preliminary injunction should first be resolved before the main case of forcible
severely.[21] entry is decided.

It did not, however, find complainant completely faultless. It therefore undertook another round However, respondent should have resolved the Motion for Preliminary Injunction within 30
of investigation, the subject of which was complainant's appearance in court as counsel for days from its filing. There can be no mistaking the clear command of Section 15 of Rule 70 of
herself and on behalf of her co-plaintiff without court authority. the Rules of Court, which reads:

According to the OCA, officials and employees of the judiciary must devote their full time to "Sec. 15. Preliminary injunction -- The court may grant preliminary injunction, in accordance
government service to ensure the efficient and speedy administration of justice. Although they with the provisions of Rule 58 hereof, to prevent the defendant from committing further acts of
are not absolutely prohibited from engaging in a vocation or a profession, they should do so dispossession against the plaintiff.
only with prior approval of this Court. The OCA added that "[e]ngaging in any private business,
vocation or profession without prior approval of the Court is tantamount to moonlighting, "A possessor deprived of his possession through forcible entry or unlawful detainer may, within
which amounts to malfeasance in office."[22] five (5) days from the filing of the complaint, present a motion in the action for forcible entry or
unlawful detainer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction to restore him
Thus, it recommended that Complainant Maderada be fined in the amount of P1,000 for in his possession. The court shall decide the motion within thirty (30) days from the filing
appearing as counsel without authority from this Court, with a stern warning that any similar thereof." (Italics ours)
infraction in the future would be dealt with more severely. The OCA also recommended that
she be directed to file her application for leaves of absence on the days she had appeared in Judges have no other option but to obey. In fact, the provision uses the word "shall" to evince
court to litigate her case. its mandatory character. We cannot subscribe to the belief of respondent that since there was a
prayer for the issuance of a preliminary injunction, the main case for forcible entry would have
The Court's Ruling to wait until after he shall have decided the injunction plea, no matter how long it took. If that
were so, then the main case would lose its summary nature.
We agree with the findings and recommendations of the OCA, but modify the penalty to
conform to the rules. Respondent should have known that since a prayer for preliminary injunction is merely a
provisional remedy in an action for forcible entry, it should lend itself to the summary nature of
Administrative Liability the main case. This is the very reason why the Rules of Court mandate that a preliminary
injunction in a forcible entry case be decided within 30 days from its filing. Preliminary
The Rules of Court clearly provide that actions for forcible entry and unlawful detainer, injunctions and TROs are extraordinary remedies provided by law for the speedy adjudication
regardless of the amount of damages or unpaid rentals sought to be recovered, shall be of an ejectment case in order to save the dispossessed party from further damage during the
governed by the Rule on Summary Procedure.[23] These actions are summary in nature, pendency of the original action.
because they involve the disturbance of the social order, which should be restored as promptly
as possible.[24] Designed as special civil actions, they are governed by the Rules on Summary Time and time again, this Court has impressed upon judges the need to decide, promptly and
Procedure to disencumber the courts from the usual formalities of ordinary actions.[25] judiciously, cases and other matters pending before their courts.[30] To a large extent, the
Accordingly, technicalities or details of procedure that may cause unnecessary delays should be public's faith and confidence in the judicial system is boosted by the judicious and prompt
carefully avoided.[26] The actions for forcible entry and unlawful detainer are designed to disposition of cases and undermined by any delay thereof.[31] Judges are thus enjoined to
provide expeditious means of protecting actual possession or the right to possession of the decide cases with dispatch.
property involved. Both are "time procedures" designed to bring immediate relief.[27]
Their failure to do so constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of
Moreover, as correctly observed by the OCA, in an action for forcible entry, parties are entitled administrative sanction on them. Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct specifically obliges
to the provisional remedy of preliminary injunction. judges to dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required periods.
Often have we ruled that their inability to decide a case within the required period is not
A preliminary injunction is an order granted at any stage of court actions or proceedings prior to excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency.[32] To avoid sanction, they should ask this Court
for an extension and give their reasons for the delay. Since complainant was charged with engaging in a private vocation or profession when she
appeared on her own behalf in court, the necessary implication was that she was in the practice
Although respondent is correct in asserting that he is mandated to rule on every motion, he of law. We clarify. A party's right to conduct litigation personally is recognized by law. Section
cannot use this excuse to evade the clear command of the rule that cases should be decided 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:
within the prescribed period. This Court notes with concern the plethora of motions and
pleadings filed in this case, which should have been tried under the Rules of Summary "SEC. 34. By whom litigation conducted. -- In the court of a justice of the peace a party may
Procedure. Yet, even after four months had lapsed since the filing of the original Complaint for conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that
forcible entry, the prayer for preliminary injunction and the main case remained unresolved. purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation
personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly
Respondent is reminded that in order to meet the deadlines set for deciding cases, judges should authorized member of the bar."
at all times remain in full control of the proceedings in their sala.[33] They should not be at the
mercy of the whims of lawyers and parties, for it is not the latter's convenience that should be This provision means that in a litigation, parties may personally do everything during its
the primordial consideration, but the administration of justice.[34] progress -- from its commencement to its termination.[41] When they, however, act as their
own attorneys, they are restricted to the same rules of evidence and procedure as those qualified
To reiterate, judges are bound to dispose of the court's business promptly and to decide cases to practice law; otherwise, ignorance would be unjustifiably rewarded.[42] Individuals have
within the required period. They are called upon to observe utmost diligence and dedication in long been permitted to manage, prosecute and defend their own actions; and when they do so,
the performance of their judicial functions and duties. As held by this Court in Gallego v. they are not considered to be in the practice of law.[43] "One does not practice law by acting
Acting Judge Doronila:[35] for himself any more than he practices medicine by rendering first aid to himself."[44]

"We cannot countenance such undue delay by a judge especially at a time when the clogging of The practice of law, though impossible to define exactly, involves the exercise of a profession
court dockets is still the bane of the judiciary whose present leadership has launched an all-out or vocation usually for gain, mainly as attorney by acting in a representative capacity and as
program to minimize, if not totally eradicate, docket congestion and undue delay in the counsel by rendering legal advise to others.[45] Private practice has been defined by this Court
disposition of cases. Judges are called upon to observe utmost diligence and dedication in the as follows:
performance of their judicial functions and duties."[36]
"x x x. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary
The prompt disposition of cases becomes even more pronounced when a municipal trial court is action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise.
called upon to decide a case governed by the Rules of Summary Procedure. As eloquently put Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute [referring to the prohibition for judges
by Justice Jose C. Vitug, speaking for the Court in Cruz Jr. v. Judge Joven:[37] and other officials or employees of the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General
from engaging in private practice] has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding
"x x x. Being the paradigm of justice in the first instance, a municipal trial court judge, more one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services. x x x."[46]
than any other colleague on the bench, is the immediate embodiment of how that trust is carried (Citations omitted)
out. In the evolvement of the public perception on the judiciary, there can likely be no greater
empirical data that influences it than the prompt and proper disposition of cases before the Clearly, in appearing for herself, complainant was not customarily or habitually holding herself
courts."[38] out to the public as a lawyer. Neither was she demanding payment for such services. Hence, she
cannot be said to be in the practice of law.
We have often held that failure to decide cases and other matters within the reglementary period
constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions against Black's Law Dictionary defines profession in the collective sense as referring to "the members
erring judges. Given the facts of this case, a fine of P10,000 is appropriate pursuant to current of such a vocation."[47] In turn, vocation is defined as "a person's regular calling or business;
jurisprudence[39] and Rule 140.[40] one's occupation or profession."[48]

As to Complainant Maderada, the OCA recommended that she be fined in the amount of The law allows persons who are not lawyers by profession to litigate their own case in court.
P1,000 for supposedly engaging in a private vocation or profession without prior approval of The right of complainant to litigate her case personally cannot be taken away from her. Her
the Court. The Office of the Court Administrator held that her appearance as counsel for herself being an employee of the judiciary does not remove from her the right to proceedings in propria
and on behalf of her co-plaintiff was tantamount to moonlighting, a species of malfeasance in persona or to self-representation. To be sure, the lawful exercise of a right cannot make one
office. administratively liable. Thus, we need not go into a discussion of the Court's ruling in Cayetano
v. Monsod[49] regarding the extent of the practice of law.
However, it was also clearly established that complainant had appeared on behalf of her co- ROMULO CANTIMBUHAN, NELSON B. MALANA, and ROBERT V. LUCILA,
plaintiff in the case below, for which act the former cannot be completely exonerated. petitioners, vs. HON. NICANOR J. CRUZ, JR., Presiding Judge of the Municipal Court
Representing oneself is different from appearing on behalf of someone else. of Para?aque, Metro Manila, and FISCAL LEODEGARIO C. QUILATAN, respondents.
G.R. Nos. L-51813-14 | 1983-11-29
The raison d'etre for allowing litigants to represent themselves in court will not apply when a DECISION
person is already appearing for another party. Obviously, because she was already defending
the rights of another person when she appeared for her co-plaintiff, it cannot be argued that
complainant was merely protecting her rights. That their rights may be interrelated will not give RELOVA, J.:
complainant authority to appear in court. The undeniable fact remains that she and her co-
plaintiff are two distinct individuals. The former may be impairing the efficiency of public Appeal from the Order, dated August 16, 1979, of respondent Judge Nicanor J. Cruz, Jr., of the
service once she appears for the latter without permission from this Court. then Municipal Court of Parañaque, Metro Manila, disallowing the appearances of petitioners
Nelson B. Malana and Robert V. Lucila as private prosecutors in Criminal Cases Nos. 58549
We cannot countenance any act that would undermine the people's faith and confidence in the and 58550, both for less serious physical injuries, filed against Pat. Danilo San Antonio and Pat.
judiciary, even if we consider that this was the first time complainant appeared in court, that she Rodolfo Diaz, respectively, as well as the Order, dated September 4, 1979, denying the motion
appeared for her own sister, and that there was no showing she did so for a fee. Again we for reconsideration holding, among others, that "the fiscal's claim that appearances of friends of
should be reminded that everyone connected with an office that is charged with the dispensation party-litigants should be allowed only in places where there is a scarcity of legal practitioner, to
of justice carries a heavy burden of responsibility.[50] Given these circumstances, the penalty be well founded. For, if we are to allow non-members of the bar to appear in court and
of reprimand[51] is sufficient. prosecute cases or defend litigants in the guise of being friends of the litigants, then the
requirement of membership in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the additional
This Court reiterates its policy not to tolerate or condone any conduct, act or omission that falls requirement of paying professional taxes for a lawyer to appear in court, would be put to
short of the exacting norms of public office, especially on the part of those expected to preserve naught." (p. 25, Rollo)
the image of the judiciary. Thus, it will not shirk from its responsibility of imposing discipline
upon its employees in order not to diminish the people's faith in our justice system. But when Records show that on April 6, 1979, petitioner Romulo Cantimbuhan filed separate criminal
the charge has no basis, it will not hesitate to shield the innocent court employee from any complaints against Patrolmen Danilo San Antonio and Rodolfo Diaz for less serious physical
groundless accusation that trifles with judicial processes,[52] and that serves only to disrupt injuries, respectively, and were docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 58549 and 58550 in the then
rather than promote the orderly administration of justice.[53] Municipal Court of Parañaque, Metro Manila.

WHEREFORE, Respondent Judge Ernesto H. Mediodea is hereby found GUILTY of gross Petitioners Nelson B. Malana and Robert V. Lucila, in 1979, were senior law students of the
inefficiency in failing to observe the reglementary periods in deciding cases, and is FINED in U.P. College of Law where, as part of the curriculum of the university they were required to
the amount of P10,000 with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or of a similar act in render legal assistance to the needy clients in the Office of the Legal Aid. Thus, in August
the future shall be dealt with more severely. On the other hand, Imelda Y. Maderada is hereby 1979, petitioners Malana and Lucila filed their separate appearances, as friends of complainant-
REPRIMANDED for appearing as counsel on behalf of a co-plaintiff without court authority petitioner Cantimbuhan. Herein respondent Fiscal Leodegario C. Quilatan opposed the
and is likewise warned that a future similar act shall be sanctioned more severely. appearances of said petitioners, and respondent judge, in an Order dated August 16, 1979,
sustained the respondent fiscal and disallowed the appearances of petitioners Malana and
SO ORDERED. Lucila, as private prosecutors in said criminal cases. Likewise, on September 4, 1979,
respondent Judge issued an order denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration.

Hence, this petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition with prayers, among others, that
the Orders of respondent judge, dated August 16, 1979 and September 4, 1979, be set aside as
they are in plain violation of Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and/or were issued with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. Upon motion, the Court, on
November 8, 1979, issued a temporary restraining order "enjoining respondent judge and all
persons acting for and in his behalf from conducting any proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos.
58549 (People of the Philippines vs. Danilo San Antonio) and 58559 (People of the Philippines
vs. Rodolfo Diaz) of the Municipal Court of Parañaque, Metro Manila on November 15, 1979
as scheduled or on any such dates as may be fixed by said respondent judge." to the court that the private prosecutor, with its approval, will conduct the prosecution of the
case under his supervision and control. Further, We may add that if a non-lawyer can appear as
Basis of this petition is Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court which states: defense counsel or as friend of the accused in a case before the municipal trial court, with more
reason should he be allowed to appear as private prosecutor under the supervision and control
"SEC. 34. By whom litigation conducted. - In the court of a justice of the peace a party may of the trial fiscal.
conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that
purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation In the two criminal cases filed before the Municipal Court of Parañaque, petitioner
personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly Cantimbuhan, as the offended party, did not expressly waive the civil action nor reserve his
authorized member of the bar." right to institute it separately and, therefore, the civil action is deemed impliedly instituted in
said criminal cases. Thus, said complainant Romulo Cantimbuhan has personal interest in the
Thus, a non-member of the Philippine Bar - a party to an action is authorized to appear in court success of the civil action and, in the prosecution of the same, he cannot be deprived of his right
and conduct his own case; and, in the inferior courts, the litigant may be aided by a friend or to be assisted by a friend who is not a lawyer.
agent or by an attorney. However, in the Courts of First Instance, now Regional Trial Courts, he
can be aided only by an attorney. WHEREFORE, the Orders issued by respondent judge dated August 16, 1979 and September 4,
1979 which disallowed the appearances of petitioners Nelson B. Malana and Robert V. Lucila
On the other hand, it is the submission of the respondents that pursuant to Sections 4 and 15, as friends of party-litigant petitioner Romulo Cantimbuhan, are hereby SET ASIDE and
Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, it is the fiscal who is empowered to determine who shall be the respondent judge is hereby ordered to ALLOW the appearance and intervention of petitioners
private prosecutor as was done by respondent fiscal when he objected to the appearances of Malana and Lucila as friends of Romulo Cantimbuhan. Accordingly, the temporary restraining
petitioners Malana and Lucila. Sections 4 and 15, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court provide: order issued on November 8, 1979 is LIFTED.

"SEC. 4. Who must prosecute criminal actions. - All criminal actions either commenced by SO ORDERED.
complaint or by information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the fiscal.
Fernando, C.J., Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, Abad Santos, Plana, Escolin and
xxx xxx xxx Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.

"SEC. 15. Intervention of the offended party in criminal action. - Unless the offended party has
waived the civil action or expressly reserved the right to institute it separately from the criminal
action, and subject to the provisions of section 4 hereof, he may intervene, personally or by
attorney, in the prosecution of the offense."

And, they contend that the exercise by the offended party to intervene is subject to the direction
and control of the fiscal and that his appearance, no less than his active conduct of the case later
on, requires the prior approval of the fiscal.

We find merit in the petition. Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, clearly provides that
in the municipal court a party may conduct his litigation in person with the aid of an agent
appointed by him for the purpose. Thus, in the case of Laput vs. Bernabe, 55 Phil. 621, a law
student was allowed to represent the accused in a case pending before the then Municipal Court,
the City Court of Manila, who was charged for damages to property through reckless
imprudence. "It is accordingly our view that error was committed in the municipal court in not
allowing Crispiniano V. Laput to act as an agent or friend of Catalino Salas to aid the latter in
conducting his defense." The permission of the fiscal is not necessary for one to enter his
appearance as private prosecutor. In the first place, the law does not impose this condition.
What the fiscal can do, if he wants to handle the case personally is to disallow the private
prosecutor's participation, whether he be a lawyer or not, in the trial of the case. On the other
hand, if the fiscal desires the active participation of the private prosecutor, he can just manifest
TEOFILO PAAR, petitioner, vs. FORTUNATO V. BORROMEO ET AL., respondents.
G.R. No. L-1582 | 1947-10-10 MORAN, C. J.:
I certify that Mr. Justice Pablo concurs in this decision.

Teofilo Paar is charged in Manila with treason before the People's Court, and prayed that he be
assisted in his defense by Andres R. Camasura who is not a member of the bar. The People's
Court denied the petition, hence, this action for mandamus. PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF FREE LABOR UNIONS (PAFLU), ENRIQUE
Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 112 are as follows: SUGAR COMPANY, COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS & QUINTIN MUNING,
"SEC. 3. Duty of court to inform defendant of his right to have attorney. - If the defendant G.R. No. L-23959 | 1971-11-29
appears without attorney, he must be informed by the court that it is his right to have attorney DECISION
before being arraigned, and must be asked if he desires the aid of attorney. If he desires and is
unable to employ attorney, the court must assign attorney de oficio to defend him. A reasonable
time must be allowed for procuring attorney. REYES, J.B.L., J:
"SEC. 4. Who may be appointed attorney 'de oficio.' - The attorney so employed or assigned
must be a duly authorized member of the Bar. But in provinces where duly authorized members May a non-lawyer recover attorney's fees for legal services rendered? This is the issue
of the bar are not available, the court may, in its discretion, admit or assign a person, resident in presented in this petition for review of an order, dated 12 May 1964, and the en banc resolution,
the province and of good repute for probity and ability, to aid the defendant in his defense, dated 8 December 1964, of the Court of Industrial Relations, in its Case No. 72-ULP-Iloilo,
although the person so admitted or assigned be not a duly authorized member of the Bar." granting respondent Quintin Muning, a non-lawyer, attorney's fees for professional services in
the said case.
Sections 29 and 31 of Rule 127 read:
The above-named petitioners were complainants in Case No. 72-ULP-Iloilo, entitled, "PAFLU,
"SEC. 29. Attorneys for destitute litigants. - 'A superior court may assign an attorney to render et al, vs. Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Co., et al." After trial, the Court of Industrial Relations
professional aid free of charge to any party in a case, if upon investigation it appears that the rendered a decision, on 29 March 1961, ordering the reinstatement with backwages of
party is destitute and unable to employ an attorney, and that the services of counsel are complainants Enrique Entila and Victorino Tenazas. Said decision became final On 18 October
necessary to secure the ends of justice and to protect the rights of the party. It shall be the duty 1963, Cipriano Cid & Associates, counsel of record for the winning complainants, filed a notice
of the attorney so assigned to render the required service, unless he is accused there from by the of attorney's hen equivalent to 30% of the total backwages. On 22 November 1963, Atty.
court for sufficient cause shown.' Atanacio Pacis also filed a similar notice for a reasonable amount. Complainants Entila and
Tenazas, on 3 December 1963, filed a manifestation indicating their non-objection to an award
"SEC. 31. By whom litigation conducted. - In the court of a justice of the peace a party may of attorney's fees for 25% of their backwages, and, on the same day, Quintin Muning filed a
conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that "Petition for Award of Services Rendered" equivalent to 20% of the backwages. Muning's
purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court a party may conduct his litigation petition was opposed by Cipriano Cid & Associates on the ground that he is not a lawyer.
personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly
authorized member of the bar." The records of Case No. 72-ULP-Iloilo show that the charge was filed by Cipriano Cid &
Associates through Atty. Atanacio Pacis. All the hearings were held in Bacolod City and
It is clear from these provisions that in Manila where there are many members of the bar, appearances made in behalf of the complainants were at first by Attorney Pacis and
defendants in the People's Court may be assisted only by members of the bar. subsequently by respondent Quintin Muning.

Petition denied, without costs. On 12 May 1964, the Court of Industrial Relations awarded 25% of the backwages as
compensation for professional services rendered in the case, apportioned as follows:
Paras, Feria, Perfecto, Hilado, Bengzon, Briones, Padilla and Tuason, JJ., concur.
Attys. Cipriano Cid & Associates 10%
Separate Opinions Quintin Muning 10%
Atty. Atanacio Pacis 5% attorney's fees. Certainly public policy demands that legal work in representation of parties
litigant should be entrusted only to those possessing tested qualifications and who are sworn to
The award of 10% to Quintin Muning, who is not a lawyer according to the order, is sought to observe the rules and the ethics of the profession, as well as being subject to judicial
be voided in the present petition. disciplinary control for the protection of courts, clients and the public.

Respondent Muning moved in this Court to dismiss the present petition on the ground of late On the present issue, the rule in American jurisdictions is persuasive. There, it is stated:
filing but his motion was overruled on 20 January 1965. 1 He asked for reconsideration, but,
considering that the motion contained averments that go into the merits of the case, this Court "But in practically all jurisdictions statutes have now been enacted prohibiting persons not
admitted and considered the motion for reconsideration for all purposes as respondent's answer licensed or admitted to the bar from practising law, and under statutes of this kind, the great
to the petition for review. 2 The case was considered submitted for decision without weight of authority is to the effect that compensation for strictly legal services cannot be
respondent's brief. 3 recovered by one who has not been admitted to practice before the court or in the jurisdiction
where the service were rendered." 5
Applicable to the issue at hand is the principle enunciated in Amalgamated Laborers'
Association, et al. vs. Court of Industrial Relations, et al., L-23467, 27 March 1968, 4 that an "No one is entitled to recover compensation for services as an attorney at law unless he has
agreement providing for the division of attorney's fees, whereby a non-lawyer union president is been duly admitted to practice . . . and is an attorney in good standing at the time." 6
allowed to share in said fees with lawyers, is condemned by Canon 34 of Legal Ethics and is
immoral and cannot be justified. An award by a court of attorney's fees is no less immoral in the The reasons are that the ethics of the legal profession should not be violated; 7 that acting as an
absence of a contract, as in the present case. attorney without authority constitutes contempt of court, which is punishable by fine or
imprisonment or both, 8 and the law will not assist a person to reap the fruits or benefit of an
The provision in Section 5(b) of Republic Act No. 875 that unlawful act or an act done in violation of law; 9 and that if fees were to be allowed to non-
lawyers, it would leave the public in hopeless confusion as to whom to consult in case of
"In the proceeding before the Court or Hearing Examiner thereof, the parties shall not be necessity and also leave the bar in a chaotic condition, aside from the fact that non-lawyers are
required to be represented by legal counsel . . ." not amenable to disciplinary measures. 10

is no justification for a ruling that the person representing the party-litigant in the Court of "And the general rule above-stated (referring to non-recovery of attorney's fees by non-lawyers)
Industrial Relations, even if he is not a lawyer, is entitled to attorney's fees: for the same section cannot be circumvented when the services were purely legal, by seeking to recover as an 'agent'
adds that and not as an attorney." 11

"it shall be the duty and obligation of the Court or Hearing Officer to examine and cross The weight of the reasons heretofore stated why a non-lawyer may not be awarded attorney's
examine witnesses on behalf of the parties and to assist in the orderly presentation of fees should suffice to refute the possible argument that appearances by non-lawyers before the
evidence." Court of Industrial Relations should be excepted on the ground that said court is a court of
special jurisdiction; such special jurisdiction does not outweigh the aforesaid reasons and
thus making it clear that the representation should be exclusively entrusted to duly qualified cannot justify an exception.
members of the bar.
The other issue in this case is whether or not a union may appeal an award of attorney's fees
The permission for a non-member of the bar to represent or appear or defend in the said court which are deductible from the backpay of some of its members. This issue arose because it was
on behalf of a party-litigant does not by itself entitle the representative to compensation for the union PAFLU, alone, that moved for an extension of time to file the present petition for
such representation. For Section 24, Rule 138, of the Rules of Court, providing review; union members Entila and Tenazas did not ask for extension but they were included as
petitioners in the present petition that was subsequently filed, it being contented that, as to them
"Sec. 24. Compensation of attorney's agreement as to fees. An attorney shall be entitled to have (Entila and Tenazas), their inclusion in the petition as co-petitioners was belated.
and recover from his client no more than a reasonable compensation for his services, . . . "
We hold that a union or legitimate labor organization may appeal an award of attorney's fees
imports the existence of an attorney-client relationship as a condition h the recovery of which are deductible from the backpay of its members because such union or labor organization
attorney's fees. Such a relationship cannot exist unless the client's representative in court be a is permitted to institute an action in the industrial court, 12 on behalf of its members; and the
lawyer. Since respondent Muning is not one, he cannot establish an attorney-client relationship union was organized "for the promotion of the employees' moral, social and economic well-
with Enrique Entila and Victorino Tenezas or with PAFLU, and he cannot, therefore, recover being"; 13 hence, if an award is disadvantageous to its members, the union may prosecute an
appeal as an aggrieved party, under Section 6, Republic Act 875, which provides:
In this petition for certiorari, petitioner Kanlaon Construction Enterprises Co., Inc. seeks to
"Sec. 6. Unfair Labor Practice Cases Appeals. Any person aggrieved by any order of the Court annul the decision of respondent National Labor Relations Commission, Fifth Division and
may appeal to the Supreme Court of the Philippines . . .", remand the cases to the Arbitration Branch for a retrial on the merits.

since more often than not the individual unionist is not in a position to bear the financial burden Petitioner is a domestic corporation engaged in the construction business nationwide with
of litigations. principal office at No. 11 Yakan St., La Vista Subdivision, Quezon City. In 1988, petitioner
was contracted by the National Steel Corporation to construct residential houses for its plant
Petitioners allege that respondent Muning is engaged in the habitual practice of law before the employees in Steeltown, Sta. Elena, Iligan City. Private respondents were hired by petitioner as
Court of Industrial Relations, and many others like him who are not licensed to practice, laborers in the project and worked under the supervision of Engineers Paulino Estacio and
registering their appearances as "representatives" and appearing daily before the said court. If Mario Dulatre. In 1989, the project neared its completion and petitioner started terminating the
true, this is a serious situation demanding corrective action that respondent court should services of private respondents and its other employees.
actively pursue and enforce by positive action to that purpose. But since this matter was not
brought in issue before the court a quo, it may not be taken up in the present case. Petitioners, In 1990, private respondents filed separate complaints against petitioner before Sub-Regional
however, may file proper action against the persons alleged to be illegally engaged in the Arbitration Branch XII, Iligan City. Numbering forty-one (41) in all, they claimed that
practice of law. petitioner paid them wages below the minimum and sought payment of their salary differentials
and thirteenth-month pay. Engineers Estacio and Dulatre were named co-respondents.
WHEREFORE, the orders under review are hereby set aside insofar as they awarded 10% of
the backwages as attorney's fees for respondent Quintin Muning. Said orders are affirmed in all Some of the cases were assigned to Labor Arbiter Guardson A. Siao while the others were
other respects. Costs against respondent Muning. assigned to Labor Arbiter Nicodemus G. Palangan. Summonses and notices of preliminary
conference were issued and served on the two engineers and petitioner through Engineer
Concepaion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Villamor and Estacio. The preliminary conferences before the labor arbiters were attended by Engineers
Makasiar, JJ., concur. Estacio and Dulatre and private respondents. At the conference of June 11, 1990 before Arbiter
Siao, Engineer Estacio admitted petitioner's liability to private respondents and agreed to pay
their wage differentials and thirteenth-month pay on June 19, 1990. As a result of this
agreement, Engineer Estacio allegedly waived petitioner's right to file its position paper. 1
Private respondents declared that they, too, were dispensing with their position papers and were
adopting their complaints as their position paper. 2
LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, 5TH DIVISION, and BENJAMIN RELUYA, JR., On June 19, 1990, Engineer Estacio appeared but requested for another week to settle the
EDGARDO GENAYAS, ERNESTO CANETE, PROTACIO ROSALES, NESTOR claims. Labor Arbiter Siao denied this request. On June 21, 1990, Arbiter Siao issued an order
BENOYA, RODOLFO GONGOB, DARIO BINOYA, BENJAMIN BASMAYOR, granting the complaint and directing petitioner to pay private respondents' claims. Arbiter Siao
JULIETO TEJADA, TEOTIMO LACIO, ONOFRE QUIZON, RUDY ALVAREZ, Considering the length of time that has elapsed since these cases were filed, and what the
CRESENCIO FLORES, ALFREDO PERMACIO, CRESENCIO ALVIAR, HERNANI complainants might think as to how this branch operates and/or conducts its proceedings as they
SURILLA, DIOSDADO SOLON, CENON ALBURO, ZACARIAS ORTIZ, EUSEBIO are now restless, this Arbiter has no other alternative or recourse but to order the respondent to
BUSTILLO, GREGORIO BAGO, JERRY VARGAS, EDUARDO BUENO, PASCUAL pay the claims of the complainants, subject of course to the computation of the Fiscal Examiner
HUDAYA, ROGELIO NIETES, and REYNALDO NIETES, respondents. II of this Branch pursuant to the oral manifestation of respondent. The Supreme Court ruled:
G.R. No. 126625 | 1997-09-18 "Contracts though orally made are binding on the parties." (Lao Sok v. Sabaysabay, 138 SCRA

Similarly, this Branch would present in passing that "a court cannot decide a case without facts
PUNO, J.: either admitted or agreed upon by the parties or proved by evidence." (Yu Chin Piao v. Lim
Tuaco, 33 Phil. 92; Benedicto v. Yulo, 26 Phil. 160) SPECULATION, SURMISE AND EVIDENCE CONJECTURE:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the respondent is hereby ordered to pay the individual A. Petitioner was deprived of the constitutional right to due process of law when it was
claims of the above-named complainants representing their wage differentials within ten (10) adjudged by the NLRC liable without trial on the merits and without its knowledge;
days from receipt of this order.
B. The NLRC erroneously, patently and unreasonably interpreted the principle that the NLRC
The Fiscal Examiner II of this Branch is likewise hereby ordered to compute the individual and its Arbitration Branch are not strictly bound by the rules of evidence;
claims of the herein complainants.
C. There is no legal nor actual basis in the NLRC's ruling that petitioner is already in estoppel
SO ORDERED. 3 to disclaim the authority of its alleged representatives.

On June 29, 1990, Arbiter Palangan issued a similar order, thus: D. The NLRC committed manifest error in relying merely on private, respondents'
unsubstantiated complaints to hold petitioner liable for damages. 5
When the above-entitled cases were called for hearing on June 19, 1990 at 10:00 a.m.
respondent thru their representative manifested that they were willing to pay the claims of the In brief, petitioner alleges that the decisions of the labor arbiters and respondent Commission
complainants and promised to pay the same on June 28, 1990 at 10:30 a.m. are void for the following reasons: (1) there was no valid service of summons; (2) Engineers
Estacio and Dulatre and Atty. Abundiente had no authority to appear and represent petitioner at
However, when these cases were called purposely to materialize the promise of the respondent, the hearings before the arbiters and on appeal to respondent Commission; (3) the decisions of
the latter failed to appear without any valid reason. the arbiters and respondent Commission are based on unsubstantiated and self-serving evidence
and were rendered in violation of petitioner's right to due process.
Considering therefore that the respondent has already admitted the claims of the complainants,
we believe that the issues raised herein have become moot and academic. Service of summons in cases filed before the labor arbiters is governed by Sections 4 and 5 of
Rule IV of the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC. They provide:
WHEREFORE premises considered, the above-entitled cases are hereby ordered Closed and
Terminated, however, the respondent is hereby ordered to pay the complainants their Sec. 4. Service of Notices and Resolutions. (a) Notices or summons and copies of orders,
differential pay and 13th-month pay within a period of ten (10) days from receipt hereof based resolutions or decisions shall be served on the parties to the case personally by the bailiff or
on the employment record on file with the respondent. duly authorized public officer within three (3) days from receipt thereof or by registered mail;
Provided that where a party is represented by counsel or authorized representative, service shall
SO ORDERED. 4 be made on such counsel or authorized representative; provided further that in cases of decision
and final awards, copies thereof shall be served on both the parties and their counsel; provided
Petitioner appealed to respondent National Labor Relations Commission. It alleged that it was finally, that in case where the parties are so numerous, service shall be made on counsel and
denied due process and that Engineers Estacio and Dulatre had no authority to represent and upon such number of complainants as may be practicable, which shall be considered substantial
bind petitioner. Petitioner's appeal was filed by one Atty. Arthur Abundiente. compliance with Article 224 (a) of the Labor Code, as amended.

In a decision dated April 27, 1992, respondent Commission affirmed the orders of the Arbiters. Xxx xxx xxx
Petitioner interposed this petition alleging that the decision of respondent Commission was
rendered without jurisdiction and in grave abuse of discretion. Petitioner claims that: Sec. 5. Proof and completeness of service. The return is prima facie proof of the facts indicated
therein. Service by registered mail is complete upon receipt by the addressee or his agent. . . .
THE QUESTIONED DECISION RENDERED BY THE HONORABLE COMMISSION IS A Under the NLRC Rules of Procedure, summons on the respondent shall be served personally or
NULLITY, IT HAVING BEEN ISSUED WITHOUT JURISDICTION; by registered mail on the party himself. If the party is represented by counsel or any other
authorized representative or agent, summons shall be served on such person.
PUBLIC RESPONDENT NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION GRAVELY It has been established that petitioner is a private domestic corporation with principal address in
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN ARBITRARILY, CAPRICIOUSLY AND WHIMSICALLY Quezon City. The complaints against petitioner were filed in Iligan City and summonses
MAKING THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS BASED NOT ON FACTS AND BUT ON therefor served on Engineer Estacio in Iligan City. The question now is whether Engineer
Estacio was an agent and authorized representative of petitioner. ascertain this authority especially since both engineers were named co-respondents in the cases
before the arbiters. Absent this authority, whatever statements and declarations Engineer
To determine the scope or meaning of the term "authorized representative" or "agent" of parties Estacio made before the arbiters could not bind petitioner.
on whom summons may be served, the provisions of the Revised Rules of Court may be
resorted to. 6 The appearance of Atty. Arthur Abundiente in the cases appealed to respondent Commission
did not cure Engineer Estacio's representation. Atty. Abundiente, in the first place, had no
Under the Revised Rules of Court, 7 service upon a private domestic corporation or partnership authority to appear before the respondent Commission. The appellants' brief he filed was
must be made upon its officers, such as the president, manager, secretary, cashier, agent, or any verified by him, not by petitioner. 12 Moreover, respondent Commission did not delve into the
of its directors. These persons are deemed so integrated with the corporation that they know merits of Atty. Abundiente's appeal and determine whether Engineer Estacio was duly
their responsibilities and immediately discern what to do with any legal papers served on them. authorized to make such promise. It dismissed the appeal on the ground that notices were
8 served on petitioner and that the latter was estopped from denying its promise to pay.

In the case at bar, Engineer Estacio, assisted by Engineer Dulatre, managed and supervised the Nevertheless, even assuming that Engineer Estacio and Atty. Abundiente were authorized to
construction project. 9 According to the Solicitor General and private respondents, Engineer appear as representatives of petitioner, they could bind the latter only in procedural matters
Estacio attended to the project in Iligan City and supervised the work of the employees thereat. before the arbiters and respondent Commission. Petitioner's liability arose from Engineer
As manager, he had sufficient responsibility and discretion to realize the importance of the legal Estacio's alleged promise to pay. A promise to pay amounts to an offer to compromise and
papers served on him and to relay the same to the president or other responsible officer of requires a special power of attorney or the express consent of petitioner. The authority to
petitioner. Summons for petitioner was therefore validly served on him. compromise cannot be lightly presumed and should be duly established by evidence. 13 This is
explicit from Section 7 of Rule III of the NLRC Rules of Procedure, viz:
Engineer Estacio's appearance before the labor arbiters and his promise to settle the claims of
private respondents is another matter. Sec. 7. Authority to bind party. Attorneys and other representatives of parties shall have
authority to bind their clients in all matters of procedure; but they cannot, without a special
The general rule is that only lawyers are allowed to appear before the labor arbiter and power of attorney or express consent, enter into a compromise agreement with the opposing
respondent Commission in cases before them. The Labor Code and the New Rules of Procedure party in full or partial discharge of a client's claim.
of the NLRC, nonetheless, lists three (3) exceptions to the rule, viz:
The promise to pay allegedly made by Engineer Estacio was made at the preliminary
Sec. 6. Appearances. . . . . conference and constituted an offer to settle the case amicably. The promise to pay could not be
presumed to be a single unilateral act, contrary to the claim of the Solicitor General. 14 A
A non-lawyer may appear before the Commission or any Labor Arbiter only if: defendant's promise to pay and settle the plaintiff's claims ordinarily requires a reciprocal
obligation from the plaintiff to withdraw the complaint and discharge the defendant from
(a) he represents himself as party to the case; liability. 15 In effect, the offer to pay was an offer to compromise the cases.
(b) he represents the organization or its members, provided that he shall be made to present
written proof that he is properly authorized; or In civil cases, an offer to compromise is not an admission of any liability, and is not admissible
(c) he is a duly-accredited member of any legal aid office duly recognized by the Department of in evidence against the offeror. 16 If this rule were otherwise, no attempt to settle litigation
Justice or the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in cases referred thereto by the latter. . . . 10 could safely be made. 17 Settlement of disputes by way of compromise is an accepted and
desirable practice in courts of law and administrative tribunals. 18 In fact, the Labor Code
A non-lawyer may appear before the labor arbiters and the NLRC only if: (a) he represents mandates the labor arbiter to exert all efforts to enable the parties to arrive at an amicable
himself as a party to the case; (b) he represents an organization or its members, with written settlement of the dispute within his jurisdiction on or before the first hearing. 19
authorization from them: or (c) he is a duly-accredited member of any legal aid office duly
recognized by the Department of Justice or the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in cases Clearly, respondent Commission gravely abused its discretion in affirming the decisions of the
referred to by the latter. 11 labor arbiters which were not only based on unauthorized representations, but were also made
in violation of petitioner's right to due process.
Engineers Estacio and Dulatre were not lawyers. Neither were they duly-accredited members of
a legal aid office. Their appearance before the labor arbiters in their capacity as parties to the Section 3 of Rule V of the NLRC Rules of Procedure provides:
cases was authorized under the first exception to the rule. However, their appearance on behalf
of petitioner required written proof of authorization. It was incumbent upon the arbiters to Sec. 3. Submission of Position Papers/Memorandum. Should the parties fail to agree upon an
amicable settlement, in whole or in part, during the conferences, the Labor Arbiter shall issue REY J. VARGAS AND EDUARDO A. PANES, JR., Complainants, versus ATTY.
an order stating therein the matters taken up and agreed upon during the conferences and MICHAEL A. IGNES, ATTY. LEONARD BUENTIPO MANN, ATTY. RODOLFO U.
directing the parties to simultaneously file their respective verified position papers VIAJAR, JR., AND ATTY. JOHN RANGAL D. NADUA, Respondents.
A.C. No. 8096 | 2010-07-05
xxx xxx xxx

After petitioner's alleged representative failed to pay the workers' claims as promised, Labor A discussion citing this case or law is available.
Arbiters Siao and Palangan did not order the parties to file their respective position papers. The GOCC, engagement of private counsel
arbiters forthwith rendered a decision on the merits without at least requiring private RESOLUTION
respondents to substantiate their complaints. The parties may have earlier waived their right to
file position papers but petitioner's waiver was made by Engineer Estacio on the premise that
petitioner shall have paid and settled the claims of private respondents at the scheduled VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
conference. Since petitioner reneged on its "promise," there was a failure to settle the case
amicably. This should have prompted the arbiters to order the parties to file their position Before the Court is a petition for review of Resolution No. XVIII-2008-335[1] passed on July
papers. 17, 2008 by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in CBD Case
No. 07-1953. The IBP Board of Governors dismissed the disbarment case filed by the
Article 221 of the Labor Code mandates that in cases before labor arbiters and respondent complainants against the respondents.
Commission, they "shall use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case
speedily and objectively and without regard to technicalities of law or procedure, all in the The facts and proceedings antecedent to this case are as follows:
interest of due process." The rule that respondent Commission and the Labor Arbiters are not
bound by technical rules of evidence and procedure should not be interpreted so as to dispense Koronadal Water District (KWD), a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC),
with the fundamental and essential right of due process. 20 And this right is satisfied, at the hired respondent Atty. Michael A. Ignes as private legal counsel for one (1) year effective April
very least, 'when the parties are given the opportunity to submit position papers. 21 Labor 17, 2006.[2] The Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and the Commission
Arbiters Siao and Palangan erred in dispensing with this requirement. on Audit (COA) gave their consent to the employment of Atty. Ignes.[3] However, controversy
later erupted when two (2) different groups, herein referred to as the Dela Peña board and
Indeed, the labor arbiters and the NLRC must not, at the expense of due process, be the first to Yaphockun board, laid claim as the legitimate Board of Directors of KWD.
arbitrarily disregard specific provisions of the Rules which are precisely intended to assist the
parties in obtaining the just, expeditious and inexpensive settlement of labor disputes. 22 On December 28, 2006, the members of the Dela Peña board filed Civil Case No. 1793[4] for
Injunction and Damages, seeking to annul the appointment of two (2) directors, Joselito T.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition for certiorari is granted. The decision of the National Labor Reyes and Carlito Y. Uy, who will allegedly connive with Director Allan D. Yaphockun whose
Relations Commission, Fifth Division, is annulled and set aside and the case is remanded to the hostility to the "present" Board of Directors, the Dela Peña board, is supposedly of public
Regional Arbitration Branch, Iligan City for further proceedings. knowledge.

SO ORDERED. On January 18, 2007, the Dela Peña board also adopted Resolution No. 009[5] appointing
respondents Atty. Rodolfo U. Viajar, Jr. and Atty. Leonard Buentipo Mann as private
collaborating counsels for all cases of KWD and its Board of Directors, under the direct
supervision and control of Atty. Ignes.

Subsequently, on February 9, 2007, Attys. Ignes, Viajar, Jr. and Mann filed SCA Case No. 50-
24 for Indirect Contempt of Court[6] entitled Koronadal Water District (KWD), represented
herein by its General Manager, Eleanor Pimentel-Gomba v. Efren V. Cabucay, et al. On
February 19, 2007, they also filed Civil Case No. 1799 for Injunction and Damages[7] entitled
Koronadal Water District (KWD), represented herein by its General Manager, & Eleanor
Pimentel-Gomba v. Rey J. Vargas. On March 9, 2007, KWD and Eleanor Pimentel-Gomba
filed a supplemental complaint[8] in Civil Case No. 1799.
Meanwhile, in Contract Review No. 079[9] dated February 16, 2007, the OGCC had approved Commissioner and dismissed the case for lack of merit.
the retainership contract of Atty. Benjamin B. Cuanan as new legal counsel of KWD and stated
that the retainership contract of Atty. Ignes had expired on January 14, 2007. Hence, the present petition.

In its letter[10] dated March 2, 2007, the OGCC also addressed Eleanor P. Gomba's insistence Complainants contend that the IBP Board of Governors erred in dismissing the case because
that the retainership contract of Atty. Ignes will expire on April 17, 2007. The OGCC stated respondents had no authority from the OGCC to file the complaints and appear as counsels of
that as stipulated, the KWD or OGCC may terminate the contract anytime without need of KWD in Civil Case No. 1799, SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1796-25. Complainants
judicial action; that OGCC's grant of authority to private counsels is a privilege withdrawable point out that the retainership contract of Atty. Ignes had expired on January 14, 2007; that the
under justifiable circumstances; and that the termination of Atty. Ignes's contract was justified "Notice of Appeal filed by Atty. Ignes, et al." in Civil Case No. 1799 was denied per Order
by the fact that the Local Water Utilities Administration had confirmed the Yaphockun board as dated April 8, 2008 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) "for being filed by one not duly
the new Board of Directors of KWD and that said board had terminated Atty. Ignes's services authorized by law;" and that the authority of Attys. Viajar, Jr. and Mann as collaborating
and requested to hire another counsel. counsels is infirm since Resolution No. 009 of the Dela Peña board lacks the conformity of the
OGCC. As a consequence, according to complainants, respondents are liable for willfully
Alleging that respondents acted as counsel for KWD without legal authority, complainants filed appearing as attorneys for a party to a case without authority to do so.
a disbarment complaint[11] against the respondents before the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline (CBD), docketed as CBD Case No. 07-1953. Complainants alleged that respondents In his comment, Atty. Ignes admits that their authority to represent KWD had expired on April
filed SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1799 as counsels of KWD without legal 17, 2007, but he and his fellow respondents stopped representing KWD after that date. He
authority. They likewise stated in their position paper[12] that Atty. Ignes continued submits that they are not guilty of appearing as counsels without authority. In their comment,
representing KWD even after the OGCC had confirmed the expiration of Atty. Ignes's contract Attys. Viajar, Jr. and Nadua propound similar arguments. They also say that their fees were
in its April 4, 2007 manifestation/motion[13] in Civil Case No. 1796-25 entitled Koronadal paid from private funds of the members of the Dela Peña board and KWD personnel who might
Water District (KWD), represented herein by its General Manager, Eleanor Pimentel Gomba v. need legal representation, not from the public coffers of KWD. In his own comment, Atty.
Supreme Investigative and Security Agency, represented by its Manager Efren Y. Cabucay. Mann submits similar arguments.

In his defense,[14] Atty. Mann stated that he and his fellow respondents can validly represent After a careful study of the case and the parties' submissions, we find respondents
KWD until April 17, 2007 since Atty. Ignes was not notified of his contract's pre-termination. administratively liable.
Atty. Mann also stated that he stopped representing KWD after April 17, 2007 in deference to
the OGCC's stand. Attys. Ignes, Viajar, Jr. and Nadua echoed Atty. Mann's defense.[15] At the outset, we note that the parties do not dispute the need for OGCC and COA conformity if
a GOCC hires private lawyers. Nonetheless, we shall briefly recall the legal basis of this rule.
On March 10, 2008, complainants filed a manifestation[16] before the IBP with the following Under Section 10, Chapter 3, Title III, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, it is the
attachments: (1) the transcript of stenographic notes taken on January 28, 2008 in Civil Case OGCC which shall act as the principal law office of all GOCCs. And Section 3 of
No. 1799, and (2) the notice of appeal dated February 28, 2008 of the January 7, 2008 Order Memorandum Circular No. 9,[19] issued by President Estrada on August 27, 1998, enjoins
dismissing Civil Case No. 1799. Aforesaid transcript showed that Atty. Ignes appeared as GOCCs to refrain from hiring private lawyers or law firms to handle their cases and legal
counsel of KWD and Ms. Gomba. He also signed the notice of appeal. matters. But the same Section 3 provides that in exceptional cases, the written conformity and
acquiescence of the Solicitor General or the Government Corporate Counsel, as the case may
In his report and recommendation,[17] the Investigating Commissioner recommended that the be, and the written concurrence of the COA shall first be secured before the hiring or
charge against Atty. Ignes be dismissed for lack of merit. The Investigating Commissioner held employment of a private lawyer or law firm. In Phividec Industrial Authority v. Capitol Steel
that Atty. Ignes had valid authority as counsel of KWD for one (1) year, from April 2006 to Corporation,[20] we listed three (3) indispensable conditions before a GOCC can hire a private
April 2007, and he was unaware of the pre-termination of his contract when he filed pleadings lawyer: (1) private counsel can only be hired in exceptional cases; (2) the GOCC must first
in SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1799 in February and March 2007. secure the written conformity and acquiescence of the Solicitor General or the Government
Corporate Counsel, as the case may be; and (3) the written concurrence of the COA must also
As to Attys. Viajar, Jr., Mann and Nadua, the Investigating Commissioner recommended that be secured.
they be fined P5,000 each for appearing as attorneys for a party without authority to do so, per
Santayana v. Alampay.[18] The Investigating Commissioner found that they failed to secure the In the case of respondents, do they have valid authority to appear as counsels of KWD?
conformity of the OGCC and COA to their engagement as collaborating counsels for KWD.
We find that Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann had no valid authority to appear as
As aforesaid, the IBP Board of Governors reversed the recommendation of the Investigating collaborating counsels of KWD in SCA Case No. 50-24 and Civil Case No. 1799. Nothing in
the records shows that Atty. Nadua was engaged by KWD as collaborating counsel. While the The following circumstances convince us that, indeed, respondents willfully and deliberately
4th Whereas Clause of Resolution No. 009 partly states that he and Atty. Ignes "presently stand appeared as counsels of KWD without authority. One, respondents have admitted the existence
as KWD legal counsels," there is no proof that the OGCC and COA approved Atty. Nadua's of Memorandum Circular No. 9 and professed that they are aware of our ruling in Phividec.[25]
engagement as legal counsel or collaborating counsel. Insofar as Attys. Viajar, Jr. and Mann are Thus, we entertain no doubt that they have full grasp of our ruling therein that there are
concerned, their appointment as collaborating counsels of KWD under Resolution No. 009 has indispensable conditions before a GOCC can hire private counsel and that for non-compliance
no approval from the OGCC and COA. with the requirements set by Memorandum Circular No. 9, the private counsel would have no
authority to file a case in behalf of a GOCC. Still, respondents acted as counsels of KWD
Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann are in the same situation as the private counsel of Phividec without complying with what the rule requires. They signed pleadings as counsels of KWD.
Industrial Authority in Phividec. In that case, we also ruled that said private counsel of Phividec They presented themselves voluntarily, on their own volition, as counsels of KWD even if they
Industrial Authority, a GOCC, had no authority to file the expropriation case in Phividec's had no valid authority to do so.
behalf considering that the requirements set by Memorandum Circular No. 9 were not complied
with.[21] Thus, Resolution No. 009 did not grant authority to Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Two, despite the question on respondents' authority as counsels of KWD which question was
Mann to act as collaborating counsels of KWD. That Atty. Ignes was not notified of the pre- actually raised earlier in Civil Case No. 1799 by virtue of an urgent motion to disqualify
termination of his own retainership contract cannot validate an inexistent authority of Attys. KWD's counsels[26] dated February 21, 2007 and during the hearing on February 23, 2007[27]
Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann as collaborating counsels. respondents still filed the supplemental complaint in the case on March 9, 2007. And despite
the pendency of this case before the IBP, Atty. Ignes had to be reminded by the RTC that he
In the case of Atty. Ignes, he also appeared as counsel of KWD without authority, after his needs OGCC authority to file an intended motion for reconsideration in behalf of KWD.
authority as its counsel had expired. True, the OGCC and COA approved his retainership
contract for one (1) year effective April 17, 2006. But even if we assume as true that he was not With the grain of evidence before us, we do not believe that respondents are innocent of the
notified of the pre-termination of his contract, the records still disprove his claim that he charge even if they insist that the professional fees of Attys. Nadua, Viajar, Jr. and Mann, as
stopped representing KWD after April 17, 2007. collaborating counsels, were paid not from the public coffers of KWD. To be sure, the facts
were clear that they appeared as counsels of KWD without authority, and not merely as
Atty. Ignes offered no rebuttal to the verified manifestation of complainants filed with the IBP counsels of the members of the Dela Peña board and KWD personnel in their private suits.
on March 10, 2008. Attached therein was the transcript of stenographic notes[22] in Civil Case
No. 1799 taken on January 28, 2008 when Atty. Ignes argued the extremely urgent motion for Consequently, for respondents' willful appearance as counsels of KWD without authority to do
the immediate return of the facilities of the KWD to the KWD Arellano Office. The RTC was so, there is a valid ground to impose disciplinary action against them. Under Section 27, Rule
compelled to ask him why he seeks the return of KWD properties if he filed the motion as 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office
counsel of Ms. Gomba. When the RTC noted that KWD does not appear to be a party to the as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such
motion, Atty. Ignes said that KWD is represented by Ms. Gomba per the caption of the case. office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
Atty. Ignes also manifested that they will file a motion for reconsideration of the orders turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to
dismissing Civil Case No. 1799 and Civil Case No. 1793. The RTC ruled that it will not accept practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or
any motion for reconsideration in behalf of KWD unless he is authorized by the OGCC, but willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so.
Atty. Ignes later filed a notice of appeal[23] dated February 28, 2008, in Civil Case No. 1799.
As the notice of appeal signed by Atty. Ignes was filed by one (1) not duly authorized by law, Disbarment, however, is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power
the RTC, in its Order[24] dated April 8, 2008, denied due course to said notice of appeal. to disbar must always be exercised with great caution, and should be imposed only for the most
imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character
As we see it, Atty. Ignes portrayed that his appearance on January 28, 2008 was merely as of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the bar. Accordingly, disbarment should
counsel of Ms. Gomba. He indicted himself, however, when he said that Ms. Gomba represents not be decreed where any punishment less severe such as a reprimand, suspension or fine,
KWD per the case title. In fact, the extremely urgent motion sought the return of the facilities of would accomplish the end desired.[28] In Santayana,[29] we imposed a fine of P5,000 on the
KWD to its Arellano Office. Clearly, Atty. Ignes filed and argued a motion with the interest of respondent for willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so.
KWD in mind. The notice of appeal in Civil Case No. 1799 further validates that Atty. Ignes The respondent therein also appeared as private counsel of the National Electrification
still appeared as counsel of KWD after his authority as counsel had expired. This fact was not Administration, a GOCC, without any approval from the OGCC and COA.
lost on the RTC in denying due course to the notice of appeal.
Conformably with Santayana, we impose a fine of P5,000 on each respondent.
Now did respondents willfully appear as counsels of KWD without authority?
On another matter, we note that respondents stopped short of fully narrating what had happened
after the RTC issued four (4) orders on March 24, 2007 and on April 13, 2007 in Civil Case No. Ecija, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. NT-123790 in the name of Maximo
1799.[30] As willingly revealed by complainants, all four (4) orders were nullified by the Court Gutierrez. Through fraud and deceit, petitioners succeeded in making it appear that Maximo
of Appeals.[31] We are compelled to issue a reminder that our Code of Professional Gutierrez executed a Deed of Sale on July 21, 1978 when, in truth, he died on April 25, 1977.
Responsibility requires lawyers, like respondents, to always show candor and good faith to the As a result, TCT No. NT-123790 was cancelled and a new one, TCT No. NT-188664, was
courts.[32] issued in the name of petitioners. Based on the notation at the back of the certificate of title,
portions of the property were brought under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution No. XVIII-2008-335 (CARP) and awarded to Lorna Padilla, Elenita Nuega and Suzette Nuega who were issued
passed on July 17, 2008 by the IBP Board of Governors in CBD Case No. 07-1953 is Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs).
In their defense, petitioners averred that respondents were not the real parties in interest, that
Respondents Attys. Michael A. Ignes, Leonard Buentipo Mann, Rodolfo U. Viajar, Jr., and the Deed of Sale was regularly executed before a notary public, that they were possessors in
John Rangal D. Nadua are found GUILTY of willfully appearing as attorneys for a party to a good faith, and that the action had prescribed.
case without authority to do so and FINED P5,000 each, payable to this Court within ten (10)
days from notice of this Resolution. They are STERNLY WARNED that a similar offense in On the day set for the presentation of the respondents' (plaintiffs') evidence, petitioners filed a
the future will be dealt with more severely. Motion to Dismiss, assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC over the subject matter of the case.
Petitioners contended that the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB),
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to respondents' personal records in the Office of the not the RTC, had jurisdiction since the subject land was covered by the CARP, and CLOAs had
Bar Confidant. been awarded to tenants. Respondents opposed the motion, arguing that the motion had been
filed beyond the period for filing an Answer, that the RTC had jurisdiction over the case based
SO ORDERED. on the allegations in the complaint, and that the DARAB had no jurisdiction since the parties
had no tenancy relationship.

In an Order[2] dated October 24, 2002, the RTC granted the petitioners' motion and dismissed
the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The RTC held that the DARAB had jurisdiction, since the
SPOUSES CONSTANTE AGBULOS AND ZENAIDA PADILLA AGBULOS, subject property was under the CARP, some portions of it were covered by registered CLOAs,
Petitioners, versus NICASIO GUTIERREZ, JOSEFA GUTIERREZ and ELENA G. and there was prima facie showing of tenancy. [3]
GARCIA, Respondents.
G.R. No. 176530 | 2009-06-16 Respondents filed a motion for reconsideration. On November 13, 2003, the RTC denied the
RESOLUTION motion.[4]

Atty. Magbitang filed a Notice of Appeal[5] with the RTC, which gave due course to the
NACHURA, J.: same.[6] The records reveal that on December 15, 2003, respondent Elena G. Garcia wrote a
letter to Judge Arturo M. Bernardo, Acting Judge of RTC Gapan, Branch 87, stating that they
This petition for review on certiorari seeks the review of the Decision[1] of the Court of were surprised to receive a communication from the court informing them that their notice of
Appeals (CA) dated February 6, 2007 in CA-G.R. CV No. 83994 which set aside the dismissal appeal was ready for disposition. She also stated in the letter that there was no formal
of a complaint for declaration of nullity of contract, cancellation of title, reconveyance and agreement with Atty. Magbitang as to whether they would pursue an appeal with the CA,
damages. because one of the plaintiffs was still in America.[7]

The case stems from the following antecedents: On February 6, 2007, the CA rendered a Decision in favor of respondents. The dispositive
portion of the decision reads:
On October 16, 1997, respondents, Dr. Nicasio G. Gutierrez, Josefa Gutierrez de Mendoza and
Elena G. Garcia, through their counsel, Atty. Adriano B. Magbitang, filed with the Regional WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby GRANTED and the assailed Order
Trial Court (RTC) of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, a complaint against petitioners, spouses Constante dated October 24, 2002 issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Gapan, Nueva Ecija,
Agbulos and Zenaida Padilla Agbulos, for declaration of nullity of contract, cancellation of Branch 87, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the subject complaint is reinstated
title, reconveyance and damages. The complaint alleged that respondents inherited from their and the records of the case is (sic) hereby remanded to the RTC for further proceedings.
father, Maximo Gutierrez, an eight-hectare parcel of land located in Callos, Penaranda, Nueva
SO ORDERED.[8] negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.[13] In light of such mandate, Atty.
Magbitang's act of filing the notice of appeal without waiting for her clients to direct him to do
The CA concluded that the dispute between the parties was purely civil, not agrarian, in nature. so was understandable, if not commendable.
According to the CA, the allegations in the complaint revealed that the principal relief sought
was the nullification of the purported deed of sale and reconveyance of the subject property. It The CA was likewise correct in holding that the case is within the jurisdiction of the RTC, not
also noted that there was no tenurial, leasehold, or any other agrarian relations between the the DARAB.
For the DARAB to have jurisdiction over a case, there must be a tenancy relationship between
Thus, this petition, raising the following issues for the resolution of this Court: the parties. It is, therefore, essential to establish all the indispensable elements of a tenancy
relationship, to wit: (1) that the parties are the landowner and the tenant or agricultural lessee;
1. Whether or not the CA erred in not dismissing the appeal despite the undisputed fact that (2) that the subject matter of the relationship is an agricultural land; (3) that there is consent
Atty. Magbitang filed the notice of appeal without respondents' knowledge and consent; between the parties to the relationship; (4) that the purpose of the relationship is to bring about
agricultural production; (5) that there is personal cultivation on the part of the tenant or
2. Whether or not the CA erred in giving due course to the appeal despite the fact that Atty. agricultural lessee; and (6) that the harvest is shared between the landowner and the tenant or
Magbitang's appellants' brief failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of Section 13, agricultural lessee.[14]
Rule 44 of the Rules of Court regarding the contents of an appellants' brief; and
Basic is the rule that jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint.[15]
3. Whether or not the CA erred in ruling that the RTC (Regional Trial Court), not the DARAB Respondents' complaint did not contain any allegation that would, even in the slightest, imply
(Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board) or the PARAD/RARAD that there was a tenancy relation between them and the petitioners. We are in full agreement
(Provincial/Regional Agrarian Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator), has jurisdiction over with the following findings of the CA on this point:
respondents' complaint.[9]
x x x A reading of the material averments of the complaint reveals that the principal relief
The CA did not err in giving due course to the appeal, on both procedural and substantive sought by plaintiffs-appellants is for the nullification of the supposedly forged deed of sale
grounds. which resulted in the issuance of TCT No. NT-188664 covering their 8-hectare property as well
as its reconveyance, and not for the cancellation of CLOAs as claimed by defendants-appellees.
A lawyer who represents a client before the trial court is presumed to represent such client Moreover, the parties herein have no tenurial, leasehold, or any other agrarian relations
before the appellate court. Section 22 of Rule 138 creates this presumption, thus: whatsoever that could have brought this controversy under the ambit of the agrarian reform
laws. Neither were the CLOA awardees impleaded as parties in this case nor the latter's
SEC. 22. Attorney who appears in lower court presumed to represent client on appeal. - An entitlement thereto questioned. Hence, contrary to the findings of the RTC, the herein dispute is
attorney who appears de parte in a case before a lower court shall be presumed to continue purely civil and not agrarian in nature falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of the trial
representing his client on appeal, unless he files a formal petition withdrawing his appearance courts.
in the appellate court.
On the alleged deficiency of the appellants' brief filed before the CA by the respondents, suffice
A reading of respondent Elena Garcia's letter to the RTC would show that she did not actually it to state that the requirements in Section 13, Rule 44 are intended to aid the appellate court in
withdraw Atty. Magbitang's authority to represent respondents in the case. The letter merely arriving at a just and proper resolution of the case. Obviously, the CA found the appellants'
stated that there was, as yet, no agreement that they would pursue an appeal. brief sufficient in form and substance as the appellate court was able to arrive at a just decision.
We have repeatedly held that technical and procedural rules are intended to help secure, not to
In any case, an unauthorized appearance of an attorney may be ratified by the client either suppress, substantial justice. A deviation from a rigid enforcement of the rules may, thus, be
expressly or impliedly. Ratification retroacts to the date of the lawyer's first appearance and allowed in order to attain this prime objective for, after all, the dispensation of justice is the
validates the action taken by him.[10] Implied ratification may take various forms, such as by core reason for the existence of courts.[16]
silence or acquiescence, or by acceptance and retention of benefits flowing therefrom.[11]
Respondents' silence or lack of remonstration when the case was finally elevated to the CA WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals' Decision
means that they have acquiesced to the filing of the appeal. dated February 6, 2007 is AFFIRMED.

Moreover, a lawyer is mandated to "serve his client with competence and diligence."[12] SO ORDERED.
Consequently, a lawyer is entreated not to neglect a legal matter entrusted to him; otherwise, his