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VIOLATION OF THE CODE OF PROFESSIONAL

RESPONSIBILITY
FERNANDO W. CHU, complainant v. ATTY. JOSE C. GUICO, JR., respondents

A.C. No. 10573, January 13, 2015

FACTS

 Atty. Guico was the counsel of Chu in handling the labor disputes involving his company, CVC
San Lorenzo Ruiz Corporation (CVC).
 Atty. Guico’s legal services included handling a complaint for illegal dismissal brought against
CVC.
 On September 7, 2006, Labor Arbiter Herminio V. Suelo rendered a decision adverse to CVC.3
Atty. Guico filed a timely appeal in behalf of CVC.
 According to Chu, during a Christmas party held on December 5, 2006, Atty. Guico asked him to
prepare a substantial amount of money to be given to the NLRC Commissioner handling the
appeal to insure a favorable decision.
 On June 10, 2007, Chu called Atty. Guico to inform him that he had raised ₽300,000.00 for the
purpose. Atty. Guico told him to proceed to his office and to give the money to his assistant,
Reynaldo (Nardo) Manahan.
 Atty. Guico handed Chu a copy of an alleged draft decision of the NLRC in favor of CVC. On that
occasion, the latter told Chu to raise another ₽300,000.00 to encourage the NLRC Commissioner
to issue the decision.
 But Chu could only produce ₽280,000.00, which he brought to Atty. Guico’s office on July 10,
2007. However, it was Nardo who received the amount without issuing any receipt.
 Chu followed up on the status of the CVC case with Atty. Guico in December 2007. However,
Atty. Guico referred him to Nardo who in turn said that he would only know the status after
Christmas.
 On January 11, 2008, Chu asked Nardo if the NLRC Commissioner had accepted the money, but
Nardo replied in the negative and simply told Chu to wait and assured that the money was still
with Atty. Guico who would return it should the NLRC Commissioner not accept it.
 On January 19, 2009, the NLRC promulgated a decision adverse to CVC. Chu confronted Atty.
Guico, who in turn referred Chu to Nardo for the filing of a motion for reconsideration.
 After the denial of the motion for reconsideration, Atty. Guico caused the preparation and filing
of an appeal in the Court of Appeals. Finally, Chu terminated Atty. Guico as legal counsel on May
25, 2009.

PROCEEDING

This is an administrative case against Atty. Jose C. Guico, Jr. in violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. The case was decided EN BANC.

COMPLAINT
The complaint was filed against Atty. Guico, Jr. for he committed the imputed gross misconduct
by demanding and receiving ₽580,000.00 from Chu to obtain a favourable decision.

COMMENT

In his position paper, Atty. Guico described the administrative complaint as replete with lies and
inconsistencies, and insisted that the charge was only meant for harassment. He denied
demanding and receiving money from Chu, a denial that Nardo corroborated with his own
affidavit. He further denied handing to Chu a draft decision printed on used paper emanating
from his office, surmising that the used paper must have been among those freely lying around
in his office that had been pilfered by Chu’s witnesses in the criminal complaint he had handled
for Chu.

INVESTOGATING BODY

The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

RULING OR RATIO DECIDENDI

IBP Commissioner Cecilio A.C. Villanueva found that Atty. Guico had violated Rules 1.01 and
1.02, Canon I of the Code of Professional Responsibility for demanding and receiving
P580,000.00.

Atty. Guico willingly and wittingly violated the law in appearing to counsel Chu to raise
the large sums of money in order to obtain a favorable decision in the labor case. He thus
violated the law against bribery and corruption. He compounded his violation by actually using
said illegality as his means of obtaining a huge sum from the client that he soon appropriated for
his own personal interest. His acts constituted gross dishonesty and deceit, and were a flagrant
breach of his ethical commitments under the Lawyer’s Oath not to delay any man for money or
malice; and under Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility that forbade him from
engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. His deviant conduct eroded the
faith of the people in him as an individual lawyer as well as in the Legal Profession as a whole. In
doing so, he ceased to be a servant of the law.

Atty. Guico committed grave misconduct and disgraced the Legal Profession. There is no
question that any gross misconduct by an attorney in his professional or private capacity renders
him unfit to manage the affairs of others, and is a ground for the imposition of the penalty of
suspension or disbarment, because good moral character is an essential qualification for the
admission of an attorney and for the continuance of such privilege.

Accordingly, the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors to suspend him from
the practice of law for three (3) years would be too soft a penalty. Instead, he should be
disbarred, for he exhibited his unworthiness of retaining his membership in the legal profession.
The recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors that Atty. Guico be ordered to
return the amount of P580,000.00 to Chu is well-taken. That amount was exacted by Atty. Guico
from Chu in the guise of serving the latter’s interest as the client. Although the purpose for the
amount was unlawful, it would be unjust not to require Atty. Guico to fully account for and to
return the money to Chu.

 RULES VIOLATED

In taking the Lawyer’s Oath, Atty. Guico bound himself to:

x x x maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; x x x support its Constitution and
obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; x x x do no
falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; x x x delay no man for money or malice x x x.

The Code of Professional Responsibility

CANON 1

A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and for
legal processes.

Rule 1.01

A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Rule 1.02

A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in
the legal system.

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In the case of Aba v. De Guzman, it states that “In disbarment proceedings, the burden
of proof rests on the complainant to establish respondent attorney’s liability by clear, convincing
and satisfactory evidence. Indeed, this Court has consistently required clearly preponderant
evidence to justify the imposition of either disbarment or suspension as penalty.”1

In Donton v. Tansingco, the sworn obligation to respect the law and the legal processes
under the Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility is a continuing condition
for every lawyer to retain membership in the Legal Profession. To discharge the obligation,

1Aba v. De Guzman, A.C. No. 7649, December 14, 2011, 662 SCRA 361, 371; Ceniza v. Rubia, A.C. No. 6166,
October 2, 2009, 602 SCRA 1, 8.
every lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client that would involve
defiance of the very laws that he was bound to uphold and obey.2

The case of Rangwani v. Diño states that, verily, he or she must act and comport himself
or herself in such a manner that would promote public confidence in the integrity of the Legal
Profession.3

Grave misconduct was defined in the case of Whitson v. Atienza, which states that grave
misconduct is “improper or wrong conduct, the transgression of some established and definite
rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, wilful in character, and implies a wrongful
intent and not mere error of judgment. 4

As the Court has reminded in Samonte v. Abellana5:

Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are designed to ensure that whoever is


granted the privilege to practice law in this country should remain faithful to the
Lawyer’s Oath. Only thereby can lawyers preserve their fitness to remain as members of
the Law Profession. Any resort to falsehood or deception, including adopting artifices to
cover up one’s misdeeds committed against clients and the rest of the trusting public,
evinces an unworthiness to continue enjoying the privilege to practice law and
highlights the unfitness to remain a member of the Law Profession. It deserves for the
guilty lawyer stern disciplinary sanctions.

It did not matter that this proceeding is administrative in character, for, as the Court has pointed
out in Bayonla v. Reyes:

Although the Court renders this decision in an administrative proceeding primarily to


exact the ethical responsibility on a member of the Philippine Bar, the Court’s silence
about the respondent lawyer’s legal obligation to restitute the complainant will be both
unfair and inequitable. No victim of gross ethical misconduct concerning the client’s
funds or property should be required to still litigate in another proceeding what the
administrative proceeding has already established as the respondent’s liability. x x x 6

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable

 Penalty Imposed: The Court DISBARS Atty. Guico, Jr. from membership in the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines.

Dispositive Portion:

2 Donton v. Tansingco, A.C. No. 6057, June 27, 2006, 493 SCRA 1, 5.
3 Rangwani v. Diño, A.C. No. 5454, November 23, 2004, 443 SCRA 408, 419
4 Whitson v. Atienza, A.C. No. 5535, August 28, 2003, 410 SCRA 10.
5 A.C. No. 3452, June 23, 2014.
6 A.C. No. 4808, November 22, 2011, 660 SCRA 490, 506.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court FINDS and DECLARES respondent ATTY. JOSE S. GUICO, JR. GUILTY of
the violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, and Rules 1.01 and 1.02, Canon I of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, and DISBARS him from membership in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. His
name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys.
MARILEN G. SOLIMAN, complainant v. ATTY. DITAS LERIOS-AMBOY, respondent.

A.C. No. 10568, January 13, 2015

Facts:

 Soliman claimed that she engaged the services of Atty. Amboy on May 27, 2007 in connection
with a partition case and agreed to pay Atty. Amboy 50,000.00 as acceptance fee.
 Upon the latter’s engagement, Soliman paid her 25,000.00. Later on, Atty. Amboy advised
Soliman to no longer institute a partition case since the other co-owners of the property were
amenable to the partition thereof. Instead, Atty. Amboy just facilitated the issuance of the titles
to the said property from the co-owners to the individual owners.
 In November 2008, Soliman gave Atty. Amboy 16,700.00 as payment for the transfer tax.
 In the second quarter of 2009, Atty. Amboy told Soliman that there was a delay in the issuance
of the titles to the property.
 Atty. Amboy then told Soliman that someone from the Register of Deeds (RD) can help expedite
the issuance of the titles for a fee of 80,000.00 then RD agreed to reduce the amount to
50,000.00.
 Soliman deposited the amount of 8,900.00 to Atty. Amboy’s bank account as payment for the
real property tax for the year 2009 and 50,000.00 as payment for the latter’s contract in the RD.
 However, Atty. Amboy failed to deliver the respective certificates of title of Soliman and her co-
owners to the subject property.
 On January 6, 2010, Atty. Amboy’s secretary informed Soliman that their contact in the RD was
asking for an additional 10,000.00 to facilitate the release of the said certificates of title.
Soliman then refused to further pay the amount being asked by Atty. Amboy’s secretary.
 On July 7, 2010, Soliman and Atty. Amboy’s secretary went to the office of a certain Atty.
Marasigan, Deputy RD of Manila and asked if he received the 50,000.00 as payment for the
release of the said titles.
 Atty. Marasigan denied having received any amount to facilitate the release of the titles and
claimed that the reason why the same could not be processed was that Atty. Amboy failed to
file certain documents.
 Atty. Amboy admitted that she had a retainer agreement with Soliman, but denied having
received any amount from the latter and claimed that the retainer agreement was not
implemented since the partition case was not instituted.
 She also claimed that she merely undertook to research, gather and collate all documents
required in the partition and in the transfer of the titles from the co-owners to the individual
owners, denied having failed to submit the relevant documents to the RD and having asked
Soliman for 50,000.00 to facilitate the release of the said titles.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative case against Atty. Ditas Lerios-Amboy in violation of The Code of
Professional Responsibility. The case was decided EN BANC.
Complaint(s):

This is a complaint filed against Atty. Ditas Lerios-Amboy for (I) refusal to release the pertinent
documents she gave to her for the processing of the titles to the property or give back the
50,000.00 that was already paid to her and (II) after receiving 25,000.00 as payment for her
professional services, failed to submit material documents relative to the issuance of separate
certificates of title to the individual owners of the property. It was her negligence which caused
the delay in the issuance of the certificates of title.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

Atty. Amboy admitted that she had a retainer agreement with Soliman, but denied having
received any amount from the latter pursuant to the said agreement. She claimed that the
retainer agreement was not implemented since the partition case was not instituted. She
claimed that she merely undertook to research, gather and collate all documents required in the
partition and in the transfer of the titles from the co-owners to the individual owners. She
denied having failed to submit the relevant documents to the RD which caused the delay in the
processing of the said titles. She likewise denied having asked Soliman for 50,000.00 to facilitate
the release of the said titles.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:

The Court finds Atty. Amboy guilty of violating Rule 16.03, Canons 17 and 18, and Rules 18.03
and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility by failing to observe due diligence in
dealing with Soliman.

 Rules Violated:

Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Rule 16.03

lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client upon demand. It is settled that the
unjustified withholding of money belonging to a client warrants the imposition of disciplinary
action.

Canon 17

The Code of Professional Responsibility clearly states that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of
his client and that he should be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.

Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04

A lawyer is mandated to serve his client with competence and diligence; to never neglect a legal
matter entrusted to him; and to keep his client informed of the status of his case and respond
within a reasonable time to the client’s request for information.
 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In Sencio v. Atty. Calvadores ,it is settled that the unjustified withholding of money belonging to
a client warrants the imposition of disciplinary action.7

In Adrimisin v. Atty. Javier, "A lawyer's failure to return upon demand the funds held by him on
behalf of his client gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own
use in violation of the trust reposed in him by his client. Such act is a gross violation of general
morality as well as of professional ethics. It impairs public confidence in the legal profession and
deserves punishment."8

 Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable

 Penalty Imposed: The Court SUSPENDS her from the practice of law for a period of two (2)
years.
Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, Atty. Ditas Lerios-Amboy is found


GUILTY of violating Rule 16.03, Canons 17 and 18, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of
two (2) years, effective upon receipt of this Resolution. Furthermore, she is ORDERED to return
to Marilen G. Soliman the entire amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (PS0,000.00) she received from
the latter, plus legal interest thereon, reckoned from finality of this Resolution until fully paid.
The respondent is further DIRECTED to promptly submit to this Court written proof of her
compliance within thirty (30) days from notice of this Resolution.

7 Sencio v. Atty. Calvadores, 443 Phil. 490, 494 (2003).


8 Adrimisin v. Atty. Javier, 532 Phil. 639, 645-646 (2006).
DR. DOMICIANO F. VILLAHERMOSA, SR., complainant v. ATTY. ISIDRO L. CARACOL, respondent

A.C. No. 7325, January 21, 2015

Facts:

 Villahermosa is respondent in two land cases involving cancellation of emancipation patents and
transfer certificates of title, cancellation of special power of attorney and deeds of absolute sale
and recovery of ownership and possession of parcels of land derived from Original Certificate of
Title (OCT) No. 433 which covered 23.3018 hectares of land in Valencia, Bukidnon.
 OCT No. 433 was a homestead patent granted to Micael Babela.
 As legal heirs of Micael, Fernando received 53,298 square meters while Efren received 33,296
square meters. Subsequently, Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) were issued in their respective
names.
 When the agrarian reform law4 was enacted on October 21, 1972, emancipation patents and
titles were issued to Hermogena and Danilo Nipotnipot, beneficiaries of the program, who in
turn sold the parcels of land to complainant’s spouse, Raymunda Villahermosa. A deed of
absolute sale was executed in favor of Raymunda.
 On March 2, 1994, the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) issued a
decision ordering the cancellation of the emancipation patents and TCTs derived from OCT No.
433 stating that it was not covered by the agrarian reform law.
 On September 25, 2002, Atty. Caracol, as “Add’l Counsel for the Plaintiffs-Movant,” filed a
motion for execution with the DARAB, Malaybalay, Bukidnon praying for the full implementation
of the March 2, 1994 decision.
 On December 20, 2005, Atty. Caracol filed a Motion for Issuance of Second Alias Writ of
Execution and Demolition.
 Villahermosa filed this complaint8 alleging that Atty. Caracol had no authority to file the motions
since he obtained no authority from the plaintiffs and the counsel of record.
 Villahermosa posited that Efren could not have authorized Atty. Caracol to file the second
motion because Efren had already been dead9 for more than a year.
 He claimed that Atty. Caracol’s real client was a certain Ernesto I. Aguirre, who had allegedly
bought the same parcel of land. Villahermosa presented affidavits of Efren’s widow and
daughter both stating that Efren never executed a waiver of rights and that the parcel of land
was sold to Villahermosa through a deed of sale.
 They state that the signature in the waiver was different from his usual signature. Villahermosa
averred that Atty. Caracol committed deceit and gross misconduct.
 Atty. Caracol, in introducing a document denominated as Waiver of Rights where Efren waived
all his rights in favor of Ernesto Aguirre, was able to secure the execution of the judgment in one
of the cases in favor of Ernesto Aguirre.
 Villahermosa also filed a case for falsification of public document and use of falsified document
against Ernesto Aguirre and Atty. Caracol.

Proceedings:
This is an administrative case against Atty. Caracol in violation of oath under Section 27, Rule
138 of the Rules of Court. The case was decided by the Third Division.

Complaint(s):

This is a complaint filed against Atty. ISIDRO L. CARACOL for (I) deceit and gross misconduct,
alleging that Atty. Caracol had no authority to file the motions since he obtained no authority
from the plaintiffs and the counsel of record. (II) Falsification of public document and use of
falsified document for introducing falsified and manufactured evidence into the proceedings.

Comment(s)/Answer(s):

Atty. Caracol insists that Efren and Ernesto authorized him to appear as “additional counsel”.
He said that he had consulted Atty. Aquino who advised him to go ahead with the filing.
Moreover, he stated that he was not aware that there was a waiver of rights executed in
Ernesto Aguirre’s favor.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:

The Court finds respondent Atty. Isidro Caracol guilty of violating his lawyer’s oath and in
violation of Canons 8 and 10 and Rule 10. 01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

 Rules Violated:
CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Canons 8 and 10 provide:
Canon 8
A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his
professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel.
Canon 10
A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court

Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:


A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he
mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.

 Case Law/ Doctrine Applied:


In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Pamintuan Dev’t. Co9 this Court said that while a
lawyer is not required to present proof of his representation, when a court requires that he
show such authorization, it is imperative that he show his authority to act.

The separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz in People v. Mendoza 10 where he stated: I
am bothered by the improvident plea of guilty made by accused Juan Magalop, presumably
upon the advice of his counsel, Atty. Isidro L. Caracol of the CLAO (now the PAO). It would seem
that this lawyer was less than conscientious when he advised his indigent client to admit a crime
the man did no[t] commit. As the ponencia observes, “outside of his improvident plea of guilt,
there is absolutely no evidence against him – presented or forthcoming. From the evidence of
the prosecution, there is no way by which Magalop could have been implicated.”

It seems to me that if anyone is guilty in this case, it is the PAO lawyer who, through an
incredible lack of zeal in the discharge of his duties, was apparently willing, without any moral
compunctions at all, and without proof, to consign an innocent man to prison.

The PAO is supposed to defend the accused, not to condemn them without cause. The
defense counsel in this case did not seem to appreciate this responsibility when he prodded
Magalop to plead guilty and waived the right to submit evidence in his behalf.

 Penalty Imposed: Respondent is suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Isidro L. Caracol GUILTY. Accordingly, we SUSPEND


respondent Atty. Isidro L. Caracol from the practice of law for ONE YEAR effective upon finality
of this Resolution, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be
dealt with more severely.

9 510 Phil. 839 (2005).


10 G.R. No. 80845, March 14, 1994, 231 SCRA 264.
JOSELITO F. TEJANO, complainant, v. ATTY. BENJAMIN F. BATERINA, respondent.
A.C. No. 8235, January 27, 2015

Facts:
 On 26 March 2009, Joselito F. Tejano filed an Affidavit-Complaint before the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA) of the Supreme Court against Judge Dominador LL. Arquelada, Presiding
Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Branch 21, and Tejano’s own
counsel, Atty. Baterina.
 Tejano accused Judge Arquelada of acting in conspiracy with Atty. Baterina for the former to
take possession of his (Tejano) property, which was the subject matter of litigation in the judge’s
court.
 The case stems from Civil Case No. 4046-V, a suit for recovery of possession and damages filed
by Tejano, his mother and sisters against the Province of Ilocos Sur, the property involved in the
suit is a strip of land located at the northern portion of Lot No. 5663 in Tamag, Vigan City.
 The lot was wholly owned by Tejano’s family, but the Province of Ilocos Sur constructed an
access road stretching from the provincial highway in the east to the provincial government’s
motor pool in the west without instituting the proper expropriation proceedings.
 Judge Arquelada was one of the trial prosecutors assigned to Branch 21, and in that capacity
represented the Province of Ilocos Sur in Civil Case No. 4046-V.
 In his Affidavit-Complaint, Tejano accused Judge Arquelada of colluding with Atty. Baterina in
the former’s bid to “take possession” of their property and was “collecting rentals from
squatters who had set up their businesses inside the whole of Lot [No.] 5663.
 In support of his accusations, Tejano attached a copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
43004 covering Lot No. 5663 in the name of Karen Laderas, purportedly the daughter of Judge
Arquelada; receipts of rents paid to Terencio Florendo, sheriff at Judge Arquelada’s sala at the
Vigan City RTC; receipts of rents paid to Aida Calibuso, who was expressly designated by Laderas
as her attorney-in-fact in collecting said rents; and receipts of rents paid to Edgar Arquelada,
Judge Arquelada’s brother.
 Then Court Administrator (now Supreme Court Associate Justice) Jose P. Perez informed Tejano
that the OCA has no jurisdiction over Atty. Baterina since it only has administrative supervision
over officials and employees of the judiciary. However, Tejano was informed to file the
complaint against his counsel at the Office of the Bar Confidant, and that the complaint against
Judge Arquelada was already “being acted upon” by the OCA.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Benjamin
F. Baterina. The cases was decided EN BANC.

Complaint(s):

Tejano alleged that Atty. Baterina (1) failed to object when the trial court pronounced that he
and his co-plaintiffs had waived their right to present evidence after several postponements in
the trial because his mother was ill and confined at the hospital;(2) manifested in open court
that he would file a motion for reconsideration of the order declaring their presentation of
evidence terminated but failed to actually do so; (3) not only failed to file said motion for
reconsideration, but also declared in open court that they would not be presenting any
witnesses without consulting his clients;and (4) failed to comply with the trial court’s order to
submit their formal offer of exhibits.
Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

 Atty. Baterina explained that he had been recuperating from a kidney transplant when he
received a copy of the complaint. He begged the Court’s indulgence and said that his failure to
comply was “not at all intended to show disrespect to the orders of the Honorable Tribunal.”
 Atty. Baterina also denied the allegation of bad faith and negligence in handling the Tejano case.
He explained that the reason he could not attend to the case was that in 2002, after the initial
presentation of the plaintiffs’ case, he was suspended by the Court from the practice of law for
two years. He alleged that this fact was made known to Tejano’s mother and sister. However,
the trial court did not order plaintiffs to secure the services of another lawyer. On the contrary,
it proceeded to hear the case, and plaintiffs were not represented by a lawyer until the
termination of the case.Atty. Baterina instead points to the “displayed bias” and “undue and
conflict of interest” of Judge Arquelada as the culprit in Tejano’s predicament.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:

Atty. Benjamin F. Baterina is found GUILTY of gross negligence.

 Rules Violated:

The Code of Professional Responsibility governing the conduct of lawyers


states:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
CANON 18 – A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

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

RULE 18.04
A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable
time to the client’s request for information.
Lawyers have a “fourfold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients,” and must act
“in accordance with the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of
Professional Responsibility.”

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In Spouses Soriano v. Reyes, the Court held that “the appropriate penalty on an errant
lawyer depends on the exercise of sound judicial discretion based on the surrounding facts.”11

In Lad vda. De Dominguez v. Agleron, when a lawyer agrees to take up a client’s cause,
he makes a commitment to exercise due diligence in protecting the latter’s rights. Once a
lawyer’s services are engaged, “he is duty bound to serve his client with competence, and to
attend to his client’s cause with diligence, care and devotion regardless of whether he accepts it

11 Spouses Soriano v. Reyes, 523 Phil. 1, 16 (2006).


for a fee or for free. He owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and
confidence reposed on him.”12

In Dagala v. Queseda, Jr., A lawyer – even one suspended from practicing the
profession – owes it to his client to not “sit idly by and leave the rights of his client in a state of
uncertainty.”13

In Cabauatan v. Venida, as such, Atty. Baterina should “know that a resolution of this
Court is not a mere request but an order which should be complied with promptly and
completely.”14

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable


 Penalty Imposed: The respondent was SUSPENDED from practice of law for five (5) years.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, Atty. Benjamin F. Baterina is found GUILTY of gross negligence. He


is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for five (5) years. He is also STERNLY WARNED that a
repetition of the same or a similar offense will be dealt with more severely.

12Lad vda. De Dominguez v. Agleron, A.C. No. 5359, 10 March 2014.


13 Dagala v. Queseda, Jr., A.C. No. 5044, 2 December 2013, 711 SCRA 206.
14 Cabauatan v. Venida, A.C. No. 10043, 20 November 2013, 710 SCRA 328.
REYNALDO G. RAMIREZ, complainant v ATTY. MERCEDES BUHAYANG-MARGALLO, respondent.

A.C. No. 10537 February 3, 2015

Facts:

 Complainant Reynaldo Ramirez alleged that he engaged Atty. Margallo’s services as legal
counsel in a civil case for Quieting of Title entitled “Spouses Roque v. Ramirez.”
 He alleged that Atty. Margallo had offered her legal services on the condition that she will be
given 30% of the land subject of the controversy instead of attorney’s fees. It was also agreed
upon that Ramirez would pay Atty. Margallo ₽1,000.00 per court appearance.
 On October 19, 2006, the Regional Trial Court promulgated a Decision adverse to Ramirez. Atty.
Margallo advised him to appeal the judgment. She committed to file the Appeal before the
Court of Appeals.
 On December 5, 2008, the Court of Appeals directed Ramirez to file his Appellant’s Brief.
Ramirez notified Atty. Margallo, who replied that she would have one prepared.
 On January 8, 2009, Ramirez contacted Atty. Margallo to follow up on the Appellant’s Brief.
Atty. Margallo informed him that he needed to meet her to sign the documents necessary for
the brief.
 On August 26, 2009, Atty. Margallo informed Ramirez that his Appeal had been denied, that the
Court of Appeals’ denial was due to Ramirez’s failure to establish his filiations with his alleged
father, which was the basis of his claim. She also informed him that they could no longer appeal
to this court since the Decision of the Court of Appeals had been promulgated and the
reglementary period for filing an Appeal had already lapsed.
 Ramirez went to the Court of Appeals and discovered that the Appellant’s Brief was filed on
April 13, 2009 with a Motion for Reconsideration and Apologies for filing beyond the
reglementary period.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative case against Atty. Mercedes Buhayang-Margallo in violation of


The Code of Professional Responsibility. The case was decided EN BANC.

Complaint(s):

 Atty. Margallo filed the Appellant’s Brief with a Motion for Reconsideration and Apologies for
filing beyond the reglementary period.
 Ramirez alleged that Atty. Margallo had violated Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04
of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Comment (s)/ Answer(s):

 Atty. Margallo argued that she had agreed to take on the case for free, save for travel expense
of ₽1,000.00 per hearing. She also claimed that she had candidly informed Ramirez and his
mother that they only had a 50% chance of winning the case. She denied ever having entered
into an agreement regarding the contingent fee worth 30% of the value of the land subject of
the controversy.
 Atty. Margallo asserted that she would not have taken on the Appeal except that the mother of
Ramirez had begged her to do so. She claimed that when she instructed Ramirez to see her for
document signing on January 8, 2009, he ignored her. When he finally showed up on March
2009, he merely told her that he had been busy. Her failure to immediately inform Ramirez of
the unfavorable Decision of the Court of Appeals was due to losing her client’s number because
her 8-year-old daughter played with her phone and accidentally erased all her contacts.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:


The respondent violated Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

Respondent Atty. Margallo was unjustifiably remiss in her duties as legal counsel to
Ramirez.

The lack of communication and coordination between respondent Atty. Margallo and
her client was palpable but was not due to the lack of diligence of her client. This cost
complainant Ramirez his entire case and left him with no appellate remedies. His legal cause
was orphaned not because a court of law ruled on the merits of his case, but because a person
privileged to act as counsel failed to discharge her duties with the requisite diligence. Her
assumption that complainant Ramirez was no longer interested to pursue the Appeal is a poor
excuse. There was no proof that she exerted efforts to communicate with her client. This is an
admission that she abandoned her obligation as counsel on the basis of an assumption.
Respondent Atty. Margallo failed to exhaust all possible means to protect complainant
Ramirez’s interest, which is contrary to what she had sworn to do as a member of the legal
profession. For these reasons, she clearly violated Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and
18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

 Rules Violated:

Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility clearly
provide:

CANON 17 - A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE
TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.

CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

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

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

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:


In Caranza Vda. de Saldivar v. Cabanes Jr.,the relationship between a lawyer and a client
is “imbued with utmost trust and confidence.”15 Lawyers are expected to exercise the necessary
diligence and competence in managing cases entrusted to them. They commit not only to
review cases or give legal advice, but also to represent their clients to the best of their ability
without need to be reminded by either the client or the court. The expectation to maintain a
high degree of legal proficiency and attention remains the same whether the represented party
is a high-paying client or an indigent litigant.16

In Caranza Vda. De Saldivar v. Cabanes, Jr.,17a lawyer was suspended after failing to
justify his absence in a scheduled preliminary conference, which resulted in the case being
submitted for resolution. This was aggravated by the lawyer’s failure to inform his client about
the adverse ruling of the Court of Appeals, thereby precluding the litigant from further pursuing
an Appeal. This court found that these actions amounted to gross negligence tantamount to
breaching Canons 17 and 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:

The relationship between an attorney and his client is one imbued with utmost trust and
confidence. In this light, clients are led to expect that lawyers would be ever-mindful of their
cause and accordingly exercise the required degree of diligence in handling their affairs. Verily, a
lawyer is expected to maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency, and to devote his
full attention, skill, and competence to the case, regardless of its importance and whether he
accepts it for a fee or for free.

Case law further illumines that a lawyer’s duty of competence and diligence includes not
merely reviewing the cases entrusted to the counsel’s care or giving sound legal advice, but also
consists of properly representing the client before any court or tribunal, attending scheduled
hearings or conferences, preparing and filing the required pleadings, prosecuting the handled
cases with reasonable dispatch, and urging their termination without waiting for the client or the
court to prod him or her to do so.

Conversely, a lawyer’s negligence in fulfilling his duties subjects him to disciplinary


action. While such negligence or carelessness is incapable of exact formulation, the Court has
consistently held that the lawyer’s mere failure to perform the obligations due his client is per se
a violation.18

Respondent Atty. Margallo’s position that a two-year suspension is too severe


considering that it is her first infraction cannot be sustained. In Caranza Vda. De Saldivar, we
observed:

15 Caranza Vda. de Saldivar v. Cabanes Jr., A.C. No. 7749, July 8, 2013, 700 SCRA 734, 741 [Per J. Perlas-
Bernabe, Second Division].
16 Id.
17 Id at 734.
18 Id. at 741–742.
As regards the appropriate penalty, several cases show that lawyers who have been
held liable for gross negligence for infractions similar to those of the respondent were
suspended for a period of six (6) months. In Aranda v. Elayda, a lawyer who failed to
appear at the scheduled hearing despite due notice which resulted in the submission of the
case for decision was found guilty of gross negligence and hence, suspended for six (6)
months. In Heirs of Tiburcio F. Ballesteros, Sr. v. Apiag, a lawyer who did not file a pre-trial
brief and was absent during the pre-trial conference was likewise suspended for six (6)
months. In Abiero v. Juanino, a lawyer who neglected a legal matter entrusted to him by
his client in breach of Canons 17 and 18 of the Code was also suspended for six (6) months.
Thus, consistent with existing jurisprudence, the Court finds it proper to impose the same
penalty against respondent and accordingly suspends him for a period of six (6) months.19

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable

 Penalty Imposed: Atty. Mercedes Buhayang-Margallo is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
two (2) years, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with
more severely.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is DENIED. The Recommendations and Resolution of the
Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines dated March 21, 2014 is ACCEPTED,
ADOPTED AND AFFIRMED. Atty. Mercedes Buhayang-Margallo is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for two (2) years, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act
shall be dealt with more severely. This decision is immediately executory.

19 Id. at 744.
ROBERTO BENARDINO, complainant v ATTY. VICTOR REY SANTOS, respondent.

A.C. No. 10583

ATTY. JOSE MANGASER CARINGAL, complainant v ATTY. VICTOR REY SANTOS, respondent.

A.C. No. 10584 February 18, 2015

Facts:

 Bernardino alleged that the death certificate of his aunt, Rufina de Castro Turla, was falsified by
Atty. Santos. Atty. Santos made it appear that Rufina Turla died in 1992, when in fact, she died
in 1990.
 Atty. Santos used the falsified death certificate to -support the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication
executed by Mariano Turla, husband of Rufina Turla. Paragraph 6 of the Affidavit ·of Self-
Adjudication prepared by Atty. Santos states:
Being her surviving spouse, I am. the sole legal heir entitled to succeed to and inherit the
estate of said deceased who did not leave any descendant or any other heir entitled to her
estate
 Years later, Atty. Santos, on behalf of Marilu Turla, daughter of Rufina and Mariano Turla, filed a
Complaint for sum of money with prayer for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and temporary
restraining order against Bernardino.
 The Complaint alleged that Marilu Turla is an heir of Mariano Turla, which allegedly contradicts
the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication that Atty. Santos drafted. Hence, Atty. Santos represented
clients with conflicting interests.
 Another Complaint was filed against Atty. Santos by Atty. Jose Mangaser Caringal. This was
docketed as A.C. No. 10584.
 Similar to Bernardino’s Complaint, Atty. Caringal alleged that Atty. Santos represented clients
with conflicting interests. He also alleged that in representing Marilu Turla, Atty. Santos would
necessarily go against the claims of Mariano Turla.

Proceeding(s): These cases involve administrative Complaints against Atty. Victor Rey Santos in violation
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The case was decided by the Second Division.

Complaint(s):

The complaints filed against the respondent are as follows:

 In representing Marilu Turla, Atty. Santos was allegedly violating the so-called “Dead Man’s
Statute” because “he [would] be utilizing information or matters of fact occurring before the
death of his deceased client. Similarly, he [would] be unscrupulously utilizing information
acquired during his professional relation with his said client that [would] constitute a breach of
trust or of privileged communication.”
 Atty. Santos violated Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility when he filed several
cases against the other claimants of Mariano Turla’s estate.
 Atty. Santos allegedly violated Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
when he drafted Mariano Turla’s Affidavit of Self-Adjudication. The Affidavit states that Mariano
Turla is the sole heir of Rufina Turla, but Atty. Santos knew this to be false.
 Also, Atty. Santos allegedly converted funds belonging to the heirs of Mariano Turla for his own
benefit. The funds involved were rental income from Mariano Turla’s properties that were
supposed to be distributed to the heirs. Instead, Atty. Santos received the rental income.
 Atty. Caringal alleged that Atty. Santos cited the repealed Article 262 of the Civil Code in his
arguments.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

 Atty. Santos denied having falsified the death certificate. He explained that the death certificate
and the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication were given to him by Mariano Turla and that he was not
aware that there was a falsified entry in the death certificate.
 As regards the issue on conflict of interest, Atty. Santos argued that he did not represent and
was not representing conflicting interests since Mariano Turla was already dead. Further, “he
[was] representing Marilu Turla against those who ha[d] an interest in her father’s estate.”
Mariano Turla’s Affidavit of Self-Adjudication never stated that there was no other legal heir but
only “that Mariano Turla was the sole heir of Rufina Turla.”
 Atty. Santos insisted that he did not commit forum shopping because the various cases filed had
different issues.
 As to the conversion of funds, Atty. Santos explained that the funds used were being held by his
client as the special administratrix of the estate of Mariano Turla. According to Atty. Santos,
payment of attorney’s fees out of the estate’s funds could be considered as “expenses of
administration.” Also, payment of Atty. Santos’ legal services was a matter which Atty. Caringal
had no standing to question.
 On the allegation that Atty. Santos cited a repealed provision of law, he discussed that Article
262 of the Civil Code is applicable because it was in force when Marilu Turla’s birth certificate
was registered.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:


The Court finds respondent Atty. Victor Rey Santos guilty of violating Canon 15, Rule 15.03 and
Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

This court accepts and adopts the findings of fact of the IBP Board of Governors’
Resolution that Bernardino failed to prove his allegation that Atty. Santos knew that the death
certificate was falsified and used it to support Ma riano Turla’s Affidavit of Self-Adjudication.
Likewise, Atty. Caringal failed to prove that Atty. Santos converted funds from Mariano Turla’s
estate.

Applying the test to determine whether conflict of interest exists, respondent would
necessarily refute Mariano Turla’s claim that he is Rufina Turla’s sole heir when he agreed to
represent Marilu Turla. Worse, he knew that Mariano Turla was not the only heir.
Respondent had the duty to inform Mariano Turla and Marilu Turla that there is a
conflict of interest and to obtain their written consent.

Mariano Turla died on February 5, 2009, while respondent represented Marilu Turla in
March 2009. It is understandable why respondent was unable to obtain Mariano Turla’s
consent. Still, respondent did not present evidence showing that he disclosed to Marilu Turla
that he previously represented Mariano Turla and assisted him in executing the Affidavit of Self-
Adjudication. Thus, the allegation of conflict of interest against respondent was sufficiently
proven.

 Rules Violated:

Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states:

CANON 15 — A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and
transactions with his client.

Rule 15.03 — A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all
concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.

Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which states:

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

Rule 10.01 — A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor
shall he mislead or allow the court to be mislead by any artifice.

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In Samson v. Atty. Era, the rule on conflict of interest is based on the fiduciary obligation
in a lawyer-client relationship. Lawyers must treat all information received from their clients
with utmost confidentiality in order to encourage clients to fully inform their counsels of the
facts of their case.20

In Hornilla v. Atty. Salunat,21 this court explained what conflict of interest means:

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two


or more opposing parties. The test is “whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the
lawyer’s duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other
client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this argument will be opposed by him when he
argues for the other client.” This rule covers not only cases in which confidential
communications have been confided, but also those in which no confidence has been

20 Samson v. Atty. Era, A.C. No. 6664, July 16, 2013, 701 SCRA 241, 252 [Per J. Bersamin, En Banc].
21 453 Phil. 108 (2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].
bestowed or will be used. Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new
retainer will require the attorney to perform an act which will injuriously affect his first
client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in
his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their
connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a
new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty of undivided
fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the
performance thereof.22

In the Report, the Commission on Bar Discipline explained:

Corollary to the foregoing, the Commission by virtue of the doctrine res ipsa
loquitor [sic] finds that the respondent’s act of failing to thwart his client Mariano Turla
from filing the Affidavit of Adjudication despite . . . his knowledge of the existence of Marilu
Turla as a possible heir to the estate of Rufina Turla, the respondent failed to uphold his
obligation as a member of the bar to be the stewards of justice and protectors of what is
just, legal and proper. Thus in failing to do his duty and acting dishonestly[,] not only was
he in contravention of the Lawyer’s Oath but was also in violation of Canon 10, Rule 10.01
of the Code of Professional Responsibility.”23

In Sonic Steel Industries, Inc. v. Atty. Chua, as officers of the court, lawyers have the duty
to uphold the rule of law. In doing so, lawyers are expected to be honest in all their dealings.24
Unfortunately, respondent was far from being honest. With full knowledge that Rufina Turla
had another heir, he acceded to Mariano Turla’s request to prepare the Affidavit of Self-
Adjudication.25

Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan26 elucidated on this court’s “plenary disciplinary authority over


attorneys”27 and discussed:

We begin by referring to the authority of the Supreme Court to discipline officers of


the court and members of the court and members of the Bar. The Supreme Court, as
regular and guardian of the legal profession, has plenary disciplinary authority over
attorneys. The authority to discipline lawyers stems from the Court’s constitutional
mandate to regulate admission to the practice of law, which includes as well authority to
regulate the practice itself of law. Quite apart from this constitutional mandate, the
disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court over members of the Bar is an inherent power
incidental to the proper administration of justice and essential to an orderly discharge of
judicial functions. . . .

22 Id. at 111–112.
23 Id. at 494.
24 Sonic Steel Industries, Inc. v. Atty. Chua, A.C. No. 6942, July 17, 2013, 701 SCRA 340, 350 [Per J. Peralta, Third

Division].
25 Rollo, p. 494.
26 248 Phil. 542 (1988) [Per Curiam, En Banc].
27 Id. at 554.
. . . The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar is but corollary
to the Court’s exclusive power of admission to the Bar. A lawyers [sic] is not merely a
professional but also an officer of the court and as such, he is called upon to share in the
task and responsibility of dispensing justice and resolving disputes in society.28

In Ramirez v. Buhayang-Margallo,29 this court emphasized the authority of this court to impose
disciplinary action on those admitted to the practice of law.

Under the current rules, the duty to assist fact finding can be delegated to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The findings of the Integrated Bar, however, can only be
recommendatory, consistent with the constitutional powers of this court. Its recommended
penalties are also, by its nature, recommendatory.30

We reiterate the discussion in Tenoso v. Atty. Echanez:31

Time and again, this Court emphasizes that the practice of law is imbued with
public interest and that “a lawyer owes substantial duties not only to his client, but also to
his brethren in the profession, to the courts, and to the nation, and takes part in one of the
most important functions of the State—the administration of justice—as an officer of the
court.” Accordingly, “[l]awyers are bound to maintain not only a high standard of legal
proficiency, but also of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing.”32

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable

Penalty Imposed: Respondent Atty. Santos is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year. He
is warned that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely.

Dispositive Portion:
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Victor Rey Santos guilty of violating Canon 15, Rule 15.03
and Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The findings of fact and
recommendations of the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines dated May
10, 2013 and March 22, 2014 are ACCEPTED and ADOPTED with the MODIFICATION that the
penalty of suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year is imposed upon Atty. Victor Rey
Santos. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more
severely.

28 Id. at 554–556.
29 A.C. No. 10537, p. 8 [Per J. Leonen, En Banc]
30 Id.
31 A.C. No. 8384, April 11, 2013, 696 SCRA 1 [Per J. Leonen, En Banc].
32 Id. at 6.
MICHAEL RUBY, complainant v. ATTY. ERLINDA B. ESPEJO and ATTY. RUDOLPH DILLA BAYOT,
respondents.

A.C. No. 10558 February 23, 2015

Facts:

 The complainant alleged that he and his mother, Felicitas Ruby Bihla , engaged the services of
the respondents in connection with a case for cancellation and nullification of deeds of
donation.
 The complainant gave Atty. Espejo the amount of ₽50,000.00 as payment for filing fee. Atty.
Espejo filed the complaint for nullification and cancellation of deeds of donation with the RTC of
Quezon City. However, the actual filing fee that was paid by her only amounted to
₽7,561.00;she failed to account for the excess amount given her despite several demand letters
therefor.
 Atty. Espejo allegedly asked the complainant to give Atty. Bayot the amount of ₽30,000.00 – the
remaining balance of the acceptance fee agreed upon.
 On September 25, 2009, Atty. Espejo called the complainant informing him of the need to file a
separate petition for the issuance of a TRO and asked for ₽50,000.00 to be used as
“representation fee.”
 Meanwhile, on September 24, 2009, the RTC issued an Order8 denying the complainant’s prayer
for the issuance of a TRO.
 On October 23, 2009, the complainant deposited to the bank account of Atty. Bayot as
appearance fee for the hearing on the motion to serve summons. However, Atty. Bayot
allegedly did not appear in court and instead met with the complainant at the lobby of the
Quezon City Hall of Justice, telling them that he already talked to the clerk of court who assured
him that the court would grant their motion.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative complaint against Atty. Erlinda B. Espejo and Atty. Rudolph Dilla
Bayot for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The case was decided by the Third
Division.

Complaint(s):

The complaints against the respondents are as follows: (I) failure to apprise the complainant of
the denial of his prayer for the issuance of a TRO. (II) Failure to update the complainant as to the
status of his complaint and (III) Denial of Atty. Bayot that he was the complainants’ counsel.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

 Atty. Bayot claimed that he was not the counsel of the complainant; that he merely assisted him
and Atty. Espejo. He averred that Atty. Espejo, with the complainant’s consent, sought his help
for the sole purpose of drafting a complaint. He pointed out that it was Atty. Espejo who signed
and filed the complaint in the RTC.
 Atty. Bayot further pointed out that he had no part in the retainer agreement that was entered
into by the complainant, Felicitas, and Atty. Espejo. He also denied having any knowledge as to
the ₽50,000.00 that was paid to Atty. Espejo as filing fees.
 As to the ₽12,000.00 that was given him, he claimed that he was entitled to ₽4,000.00 thereof
since the said amount was his appearance fee. He pointed out that he appeared before the
RTC’s hearing for the issuance of a TRO on September 22, 2009. On the other hand, the
₽8,000.00 was paid to him as part of the acceptance fee, which was then already due since the
RTC had already heard their prayer for the issuance of a TRO.
 He also denied any knowledge as to the ₽20,000.00 that was paid to Atty. Espejo purportedly for
“representation fee” that would be used to file a new petition for the issuance of a TRO.
 Atty. Bayot admitted that he was the one who drafted the motion to serve summons through
publication, but pointed out that it was Atty. Espejo who signed and filed it in the RTC. He also
admitted that he was the one who was supposed to attend the hearing of the said motion, but
claimed that he was only requested to do so by Atty. Espejo since the latter had another
commitment. He denied requesting from the complainant the amount of ₽4,000.00 as
appearance fee, alleging that it was the latter who insisted on depositing the same in his bank
account.
 During the said hearing, Atty. Bayot claimed that when he checked the court’s calendar, he
noticed that their motion was not included. Allegedly, the clerk of court told him that she would
just tell the judge to consider their motion submitted for resolution.
 On the other hand, Atty. Espejo, in her Answer, denied asking for ₽50,000.00 from the
complainant as filing fees. She insisted that it was the complainant who voluntarily gave her the
money to cover the filing fees. She further alleged that she was not able to account for the
excess amount because her files were destroyed when her office was flooded due to a typhoon.
She also denied having asked another ₽50,000.00 from the complainant as “representation fee,”
asserting that the said amount was for the payment of the injunction bond once the prayer for
the issuance of a TRO is issued.
 Atty. Bayot claimed that he is not the counsel of record of the complainant in the case before
the RTC. He pointed out that he had no part in the retainer agreement entered into by the
complainant and Atty. Espejo. Thus, Atty. Bayot claimed, the complainant had no cause of action
against him.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:


 The Court issued a Resolution, which, inter alia, considered the case closed and terminated as to
Atty. Espejo on account of her death. Accordingly, the Court’s disquisition in this case would
only be limited to the liability of Atty. Bayot.
 Atty. Bayot may not be held administratively liable for the failure to account for the filing fees.
 Atty. Bayot cannot also be held liable for the 20,000.00 which Atty. Espejo asked from the
complainant for “representation fee.”
 Atty. Bayot is legally entitled to the 8,000.00 he received from the complainant on September
23, 2009, the same being his share in the acceptance fee agreed to by the complainant in the
retainer agreement.
 He is likewise legally entitled to the 4,000.00 from the complainant on even date as it is the
payment for his appearance fee in the hearing for the issuance of a TRO.
 Atty. Bayot is not entitled to the 4,000.00 which the complainant deposited to his bank account
on October 23, 2009.
 As regards the complainant’s charge of gross neglect against Atty. Bayot, the Court finds the
same unsubstantiated.

Respondent Atty. Rudolph Dilla Bayot violated The Code of Professional Responsibility.

 Rules Violated:
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides that:

CANON 16 – A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT
THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.
Rule 16.01 – A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from
the client.
Rule 16.02 – A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own and
those of others kept by him. x x x x

CANON 18 – A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

xxxx

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

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

Accordingly, Atty. Bayot owes fidelity to the cause of the complainant and is obliged to keep the
latter informed of the status of his case. He is likewise bound to account for all money or
property collected or received from the complainant. He may be held administratively liable for
any inaptitude or negligence he may have had committed in his dealing with the complainant.

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In Del Mundo v. Capistrano33, the Court emphasized that:

Indeed, when a lawyer takes a client’s cause, he covenants that he will exercise due
diligence in protecting the latter’s rights. Failure to exercise that degree of vigilance and
attention expected of a good father of a family makes the lawyer unworthy of the trust
reposed on him by his client and makes him answerable not just to his client but also to the
legal profession, the courts and society. His workload does not justify neglect in handling
one’s case because it is settled that a lawyer must only accept cases as much as he can
efficiently handle.

33 A.C. No. 6903, April 16, 2012, 669 SCRA 462.


Moreover, a lawyer is obliged to hold in trust money of his client that may come to
his possession. As trustee of such funds, he is bound to keep them separate and apart from
his own. Money entrusted to a lawyer for a specific purpose such as for the filing and
processing of a case if not utilized, must be returned immediately upon demand. Failure to
return gives rise to a presumption that he has misappropriated it in violation of the trust
reposed on him. And the conversion of funds entrusted to him constitutes gross violation
of professional ethics and betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession.34

Nevertheless, the administrative liability of a lawyer for any infractions of his duties
attaches only to such circumstances, which he is personally accountable for. It would be
plainly unjust if a lawyer would be held accountable for acts, which he did not commit.

In Aba v. De Guzman, Jr., As regards the complainant’s charge of gross neglect against
Atty. Bayot, the Court finds the same unsubstantiated. The Court has consistently held that in
suspension or disbarment proceedings against lawyers, the lawyer enjoys the presumption of
innocence, and the burden of proof rests upon the complainant to prove the allegations in his
complaint.35

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable


 Penalty Imposed:

Atty. Rudolph Dilla Bayot is hereby ADMONISHED to exercise more prudence and judiciousness
in dealing with his clients and also ordered to return to Michael Ruby the amount of Four
Thousand Pesos (4,000.00) representing his appearance fee received from the latter on October
23, 2009

Dispositive Portion:
WHEREFORE, Atty. Rudolph Dilla Bayot is hereby ADMONISHED to exercise more prudence and
judiciousness in dealing with his clients. He is also ordered to return to Michael Ruby within
fifteen (15) days from notice the amount of Four Thousand Pesos (4,000.00) representing his
appearance fee received from the latter on October 23, 2009 with a warning that failure on his
part to do so will result in the imposition of stiffer disciplinary action.

34 Id. at 468.
35 Aba v. De Guzman, Jr., A.C. No. 7649, December 14, 2011, 662 SCRA 361, 373.
WILFREDO ANGLO, complaint v. ATTY. JOSE MA. V. VALENCIA, ATTY. JOSE MA. J. CIOCON, ATTY.
PHILIP Z. DABAO, ATTY. LILY UYV ALENCIA, ATTY. JOEY P. DE LA PAZ, ATTY. CRIS G. DIONELA, ATTY.
RAYMUNDO T. PANDAN, JR., ATTY. RODNEY K. RUBICA, and ATTY. WILFRED RAMON M. PENALOSA,
respondents.

A.C. No. 10567, February 25, 2015

Facts:

 Complainant alleged that he availed the services of the law firm Valencia Ciocon Dabao Valencia
De La Paz Dionela Pandan Rubica Law Office (law firm), of which Attys. Valencia, Ciocon, Dabao,
Uy-Valencia, De La Paz, Dionela, Pandan, Jr., and Rubica were partners, for two (2) consolidated
labor cases where he was impleaded as respondent. Atty. Dionela, a partner of the law firm, was
assigned to represent complainant.
 On September 18, 2009, a criminal case4 for qualified theft was filed against complainant and
his wife by FEVE Farms Agricultural Corporation (FEVE Farms) acting through a certain Michael
Villacorta
 Villacorta, however, was represented by the law firm, the same law office which handled
complainant’s labor cases.

Proceeding(s): This is a disbarment case against respondents for violating the Code of Professional
Responsibility (CPR), specifically the rule against conflict of interest. The case was decided by the First
Division.

Complaint(s): Complainant filed this disbarment case against respondents, alleging that they violated
Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and Canon 21 of the CPR

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

 Respondents admitted that they indeed operated under the name Valencia Ciocon Dabao
Valencia De La Paz Dionela Pandan Rubica Law Office, but explained that their association is not
a formal partnership, but one that is subject to certain “arrangements.” According to them, each
lawyer contributes a fixed amount every month for the maintenance of the entire office; and
expenses for cases, such as transportation, copying, printing, mailing, and the like are
shouldered by each lawyer separately, allowing each lawyer to fix and receive his own
professional fees exclusively. As such, the lawyers do not discuss their clientele with the other
lawyers and associates, unless they agree that a case be handled collaboratively. Respondents
claim that this has been the practice of the law firm since its inception. They averred that
complainant’s labor cases were solely and exclusively handled by Atty. Dionela and not by the
entire law firm. Moreover, respondents asserted that the qualified theft case filed by FEVE
Farms was handled by Atty. Peñalosa, a new associate who had no knowledge of complainant’s
labor cases, as he started working for the firm after the termination thereof.

 Atty. Dionela confirmed that he indeed handled complainant’s labor cases but averred that it
was terminated on June 13, 2008, and that complainant did not have any monthly retainer
contract. He likewise explained that he did not see the need to discuss complainant’s labor cases
with the other lawyers as the issue involved was very simple, and that the latter did not confide
any secret during the time the labor cases were pending that would have been used in the
criminal case with FEVE Farms. He also claimed that the other lawyers were not aware of the
details of complainant’s labor cases nor did they know that he was the handling counsel for
complainant even after the said cases were closed and terminated.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:


Respondents Attys. Jose Ma. V. Valencia, Jose Ma. J. Ciocon, Lily Uy-Valencia, Joey P. De La Paz,
Cris G. Dionela, Raymundo T. Pandan, Jr., Rodney K. Rubica, and Wilfred Ramon M. Penalosa are
found GUILTY of representing conflicting interests in violation of Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and
Canon 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

As such, a lawyer is prohibited from representing new clients whose interests oppose
those of a former client in any manner, whether or not they are parties in the same action or
on totally unrelated cases. The prohibition is founded on the principles of public policy and
good taste.

The Court concurs with the IBP’s conclusions that respondents represented conflicting
interests and must therefore be held liable. As the records bear out, respondents’ law firm was
engaged and, thus, represented complainant in the labor cases instituted against him.
However, after the termination thereof, the law firm agreed to represent a new client,
FEVE Farms, in the filing of a criminal case for qualified theft against complainant, its former
client, and his wife. As the Court observes, the law firm’s unethical acceptance of the criminal
case arose from its failure to organize and implement a system by which it would have been
able to keep track of all cases assigned to its handling lawyers to the end of, among others,
ensuring that every engagement it accepts stands clear of any potential conflict of interest.
As an organization of individual lawyers which, albeit engaged as a collective, assigns
legal work to a corresponding handling lawyer, it behooves the law firm to value coordination in
deference to the conflict of interest rule. This lack of coordination, as respondents’ law firm
exhibited in this case, intolerably renders its clients’ secrets vulnerable to undue and even
adverse exposure, eroding in the balance the lawyer-client relationship’s primordial ideal of
unimpaired trust and confidence.
Thus, for this shortcoming, herein respondents, as the charged members of the law firm,
ought to be administratively sanctioned. The Court finds no sufficient reason as to why Atty.
Dionela should suffer the greater penalty of suspension. As the Court sees it, all respondents
stand in equal fault for the law firm’s deficient organization for which Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and
Canon 21 of the CPR had been violated.

 Rules Violated:
Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and Canon 21 of the CPR provide:

CANON 15 – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS
AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.

xxxx
RULE 15.03 – A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all
concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.

xxxx

CANON 21 – A LAWYER SHALL PRESERVE THE CONFIDENCES AND SECRETS OF HIS CLIENT EVEN
AFTER THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS TERMINATED.

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In Hornilla v. Atty. Salunat36, the Court explained the concept of conflict of interest in this wise:

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two


or more opposing parties. The test is “whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the
lawyer’s duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client.
In brief, if he argues for one client, this argument will be opposed by him when he argues
for the other client.” This rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications
have been confided, but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be
used. Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require
the attorney to perform an act which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in
which he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use
against his first client any knowledge acquired through their connection. Another test of the
inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an
attorney from the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or
invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof.37

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable

 Penalty Imposed: The respondents are REPRIMANDED for said violations, with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar infraction would be dealt with more severely.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, respondents Attys. Jose Ma. V. Valencia, Jose Ma. J. Ciocon, Lily Uy-Valencia, Joey
P. De La Paz, Cris G. Dionela, Raymundo T. Pandan, Jr., Rodney K. Rubica, and Wilfred Ramon M.
Penalosa are found GUILTY of representing conflicting interests in violation of Rule 15.03, Canon
15 and Canon 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and are therefore REPRIMANDED for
said violations, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar infraction would
be dealt with more severely. Meanwhile, the case against Atty. Philip Dabao is DISMISSED in
view of his death.

36 453 Phil. 108 (2003).


37 Id. at 111-112; italics supplied.
A.C. 10679 MARCH 10, 2015

PO1 JOSE B. CASPE vs ATTY. AQUILINO A. MEJICA

FACTS

 The case started when Atty. Mejica disregarded the conflict of interest rule. Caspe said that Atty.
Mejica was his counsel when he filed for complaint for attempted murder against Antonio
Rodrigues, Jr. (Rodriguez, Jr.) and when the latter filed his counter-affidavit, it was Atty. Mejica
who counseled him.
 Caspe brought suits for damages and disbarment: one for conflict of interest and the presemt
complaint. Atty Mejica tried to negotiate the settlement but Caspe declined then, Atty. Mejica
threatened Caspe saying that he will help every case filed against him until he kneels before him
and that he will ‘put him down’ so much that Caspe will be out of service.
 From then on, Caspe alleged that Atty. Mejica has been encouraging the filing of suits against
him.
 In the present case, Caspe narrated that together PO1 Onofre Lopena, they tried to stop Romulo
Gaudena from harassing Jan Mark Busa and Marcelino Jataas with a 0.357 which they have
recovered and turned over to the Can-avid Police Statio.
 The incident was recorded in the police blotter. Gaudena evade arrest through the help of Brgy.
Capt. Prudencio Agda and other barangay tanods.
 The Chief of Police requested that Caspe refrain from filing charges against the barangay captain
and tanods.
 Gaudena with Atty. Mejica as counsel, filed for serious slander by deed supported by a joint
affidavit of two barangay tanods. It was alleged that Caspe kicked, collared and slapped
Gaduena’s face.
 It was what prompted Caspe to file cases for damages and disbarment of Atty. Mejica, suspecting
that it was the latter that encouraged Gaudena to file the cases against him.
 On July 4, 2008, the IBP-CBD ordered Atty. Mejica to submit his answer. On September 22,
2008, a Notice of Mandatory Conference was issued for a hearing scheduled on October 21,
2008. Atty. Mejica, however, failed to appear. The hearing was rescheduled on November 18,
2008.
 On February 13, 2008, Atty. Mejica filed for a manifestation that he never received a copy of the
complaints filed against him. He asked that the hearing be postponed and the copies be furnished
to him. The hearing was rescheduled to January 13, 2009 and a copy of the complaint was sent
to him via a private courier, LBC, however, he did not claim the mail.
 On December 9, 2008, Atty. Mejica claimed that he did not receive the mail delivered by a private
courier and said that the complaint be sent to him via a registered mail.
 On the rescheduled hearing on January 13, 2009, Atty. Mejica failed to appear. The IBP-CBD
warned him that if he fails to appear on the next rescheduled hearing would render him in default
and the case would be submitted for decision.
 Despite the warning, Atty. Mejica failed to appear on the scheduled February 3, 2009 hearing and
the case was then submitted for decision.
 IBP-CBD found Atty. Mejica guilty of violating Rules 1.03, 1.04 and 10.01 of the CPR. Atty. Mejica
corruptly encouraged the filing of suits against Caspe making good to his threat to file case after
case until Caspe kneels before him.
 It was also the second time Att. Mejica was complained for the same reason which was in
Baldado v. Mejica wherein he was suspended for three months. Thus, the IBP-CBD
recommended for his suspension for one year.
 Atty. Mejica moved for reconsideration when the IBP-BOG adopted the recommendation of the
IBP-CBD but was later on denied by the IBP-BOG and modified the penalty of period of
suspension to three years.

PROCEEDING

This is an administrative case for disbarment filed by POI Jose B. Caspe against Atty. Aquilino A.
Mejica for alleged violation of Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) specifically Rules
1.03, 1.04, and 10.01. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors (IBP BOG)
recommended that Atty. Mejica be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three years. The
case was decided En Banc.

COMPLAINT

A complaint for the disbarment against Atty. Mejica for alleged violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility Rules 1.03, 1,04, and 10.01.

COMMENT

 Atty. Mejica claimed that he was not afforded of due process. He said that he received a Notice of
the complaint but did not receive the copy of the order to answer.
 On February 3, 2009 Conference, he said that he could not possibly attend the meeting since he
received the Notice in the afternoon of the said date and so he was not given the opportunity to
answer. He also claimed that he did not threaten Caspe as he was not present during the
preliminary conference where he was allegedly uttered the threatening words.

INVESTIGATION BODY

Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Commission on Bar Disciple

RULING OR RATIO DECIDENDI

 The court adopted the recommendation of the IBP-CBD but modified the penalty. Atty. Mejica
was found guilty in violating the Code of Professional Responsibility Rules 1.03, 1.04, and 10.01.
 The court recognized the reports of the IBP-CBD regarding the disbarment and civil cases filed by
Caspe after he was threatened by Atty. Mejica, that a gap of five months elapsed between the
incident of the December 21, 2008 and the filing of grave slander by deed and that the chief of
police did not prosecute Gaudena and two other tanods, that Caspe did not file a criminal case
against Gaudena and companions, that there was a settlement between Caspe and Gaudena
and companions but despite of the settlement, the case for grave slander by deed and multiple
attempted murders were field against him with the help of Atty. Mejica as counsel, that the
disbarment and the civil cases filed against Atty. Mejica was filed only after the grave slander by
deed was filed against him, and most importantly that despite ethical proscription, Atty. Mejica still
served as counsel for the criminal complaints against Caspe.
 There is no other reason for Atty. Mejica to file the cases afainst Caspe but the get back at him.
 Atty. Mejica’s contention that he was not afforded due process because did not receive the copy
which was the reason why he could not attend the mandatory conference is untenable. He
missed all four scheduled hearing due to the reason that he did not receive the copy of the
complaint. However, in August 25, 2008, a copy of the complaint was sent to him but he failed to
claim it.
 Atty. Mejica further violated Canon 11 of the CPR which calls for a lawyer to observe and give
due respect to courts and judicial officers.

RULES VIOLATED

 Code of Professional Responsibility


o Rule 1.03 – A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or
proceeding or delay any man’s cause
o Rule 1.04 – A lawyers shall encourage his clients to avoid, end or settle a controversy if it
will admit of a fair settlement.
o Rule 10.01 – A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
Court; nor shall mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.
o Canon 11 – A layer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the Courts and to
judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others.

CASE LAW OR DOCTRINES CITED

 Cabauatan v. Venida38

o “Respondent’s refusal to obey the orders of the IBP "is not only irresponsible, but also
constitutes utter disrespect for the judiciary and his fellow lawyers. His conduct is
unbecoming of a lawyer, for lawyers are particularly called upon to obey court orders and
processes and are expected to stand foremost in complying with court directives being
themselves officers of the court." Respondent should be reminded that -

As an officer of the court, [he] is expected to know that a resolution of this Court is not a
mere request but an order which should be complied with promptly and completely. This
is also true of the orders of the IBP as the investigating arm of the Court in administrative
cases against lawyers.

Respondent should strive harder to live up to his duties of observing and maintaining the
respect due to the courts, respect for law and for legal processes, and of upholding the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession in order to perform his responsibilities as a
lawyer effectively.”

 Heenan v. Espejo39

o “A lawyer’s unjustified refusal to heed the directives of the IBP and to appear at the
scheduled mandatory conference constituted a blatant disrespect for the IBP amounting
to conduct unbecoming a lawyer.”

 Almendarez, Jr. v. Atty. Langit40

o “The misconduct of respondent is aggravated by his unjustified refusal to heed the orders
of the IBP requiring him to file an answer to the complaint-affidavit and, afterwards, to
appear at the mandatory conference x x x he is justly charged with conduct unbecoming

38 A.C. No. 10043, November 20, 2013, 710 SCRA 328.


39 A.C. No. 10050, December 3, 2013, 711 SCRA 290, 299
40 528 Phil. 814 (2006).
a lawyer, for a lawyer is expected to uphold the law and promote respect for legal
processes. Further, a lawyer must observe and maintain respect not only to the courts,
but also to judicial officers and other duly constituted authorities, including the IBP. Under
Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, the Court has empowered the IBP to conduct
proceedings for the disbarment, suspension, or discipline of attorneys.”

PENALTY IMPOSED

Atty. Mejica was suspended from the practice of law for two years.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION

WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Aquilino A. Mejica GUILTY of violation of Rules 1.03,
1.04 and 10.01 and Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND
respondent Atty. Aquilino A. Mejica from the practice of law for TWO (2) YEARS effective upon finality of
this Resolution, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with
more severely.
March 11, 2015 A.C. No. 5914
SPOUSES ROGELIO AMATORIO and AIDA AMATORIO, Complainants, vs.
ATTY. FRANCISCO DY YAP and ATTY. WHELMA F. SITON-YAP, Respondents.

FACTS

 Spouses Amatorio were sued by respondents docketed as Civil Case No. 2000-319 to compel
them to pay P18,000 as evidenced by a promissory note.
 After they have filed their answer to the complaint, respondents further filed a motion to strike out
the name and to declare them in default on the ground that the said pleading was prepared by a
lawyer suspended from the practice of law and lacked proper verification. The motion was
however denied.
 Respondents sued the spouses again docketed as Civil Case No. 2000-321 to collect
P94,273.44. The answer filed by Atty. Paras was stricken off record for the belief that he was
suspended from the practice of law.
 Since the spouses do not have anyone to replace Atty. Paras, Aida went to the law office of the
respondents to ask for consideration to pay the amount in installment which the respondents
agreed to. Aida tendered her first payment of P20,000 which was acknowledged by Francisco
Yap in a written document with the letterhead of Yap Law Office.
 Furthermore, she asked the respondents if they still need to attend the pre-trial that was
scheduled on May 28, 2008 and June 18, 2008. The respondents told her that they need not to
attend as they will be moving for the dismissal of the case.
 On the scheduled pre-trial, the spouses Amatorio were declared in default for non-appearance in
the pre-trial conference and ordered them to pay the debt and damages.
 Although the decision did not mention an out-of-court settlement, the spouses still tendered their
installments upon the respondents’ assurance that they will disregard the decision of the trial
court.
 However, the complainants were surprised when they learned that the respondents file for a
motion for the issuance of writ of execution of the first case and because of this, they went to Atty.
Paras, who regained his practice of law, after they have been rejected by Atty. Carriaga because
his wife was a relative of the respondents.
 Paras was supposed to decline to handle the case because of personal animosity between him
and the respondents but upon the insistence of the complainants, he accepted the case.
 According to Atty. Paras, the complainants experienced threats from the respondents, wherein
the profession of Aida as a Public School teacher was jeopardized and suspicious-looking
individuals were seen loitering around their house.
 When complainants refused to yield to the threats, the respondents filed charges against them to
wit:
o An administrative case against Aida for failure to pay the same debts subject of this case;
o A criminal case for perjury against the complainants.
 Complainants filed a Joint Affidavit, asking the Court to warn the respondents and to stop them
from employing deplorable acts upon them.
 After a deliberate investigation of the IBP-CBD, they have found that there is substantial evidence
that Francisco Yap had purposely misled the civil courts of Dumaguete City.
 Francisco Yap failed to controvert the existence and the authenticity of the Acknowledgment
Receipt dated May 21, 2001 which bore his signature and written in a “Yap Law Office” letterhead
which supports the out-of-court settlement prior to the pre-trial.
 Since it was only the signature of Francisco Yap appears in all Acknowledgement Receipts and
all Motions filed in the civil courts, only he should be penalized and not both him andWhelma
Siton Yap.
 The IBP-CBD recommended for the suspension of Atty. Francisco Yap for a period of six months
but the IBP-BOG modified the penalty to three months only.
 On March 27, 2006, the respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration/Petition for Review.
 On August 9, 2007, the complainants filed a Manifestation, terminating the services of Atty. Paras
and/or Paras-Enojo and Associates as their counsel for the reason that they can no longer afford
the services of a private counsel.
 On the same day, complainants executed a Judicial Affidavit disclaiming their knowledge and
participation of the complaint and the pleadings filed on their behalf by Atty. Paras in connection
with the disbarment case against the respondents.
 They also claimed that Atty. Paras explained the contents to them in a dialect the do not
understand, that they also claimed that they lack the interest to file a case for disbarment of the
respondents, and that they are willing to pay their debt to the respondents.
 They also claimed that it was Atty. Paras and not the respondents who urged them not to attend
the pre-trial and that Atty. Paras told them that he would be the one to appear in the pre-trial but
he did not appear on the scheduled hearing. They also claimed that most of the statements
contained in the complaint for disbarment were false and wished for the dismissal of the case.
 On August 18, 20011, respondents filed a motion for reconsideration, saying the Judicial Affidavit
of the complainants proved that the disbarment filed against them were just fabricated by Atty.
Paras.

PROCEEDINGS

This pertains to the complaint for disbarment filed by Spouses Rogelio Amatorio and Aida
Amatorio (Aida) (complainants) against Attys. Francisco Dy Yap (Francisco) and Whelma Siton-Yap
(respondents) for violating Rules 1.01, 7.03, 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. The case was heard by the Third Division of the Supreme Court.

COMPLAINT

The complainants alleged that the respondents employed deceit to obtain favorable judgments,
specifically by failing to inform the trial court that there was already an out-of-court settlement between
them and maliciously manifesting that their counsel, Atty. Justo Paras (Atty. Paras) was suspended from
the practice of law.

COMMENT

 Respondents denied that they have resorted to deceitful means in obtaining favorable judgments
in Civil Case Nos. 2000-319 and 2000-321.
 They admitted that they had an out-of-court settlement through Rosa Yap Paras, the estranged
wife of Atty. Paras but they denied that they received installment payments.
 They claimed that Atty. Paras merely employed cajolery in order to entice the complainants to file
the instant case to retaliate against them and that Paras resented them because they
represented his former wife, who previously filed the administrative case for immorality,
abandonment of family, and falsification and use of falsified documents which resulted to his
suspension.
 The respondents also alleged that Atty. Paras defied the order of the court when he represented
the complainants during his suspension for the practice of law and that Atty. Paras handled
multiple cases and filed numerous pleadings despite his suspension.

INVESTIGATING BODY

Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Commission on Bar Discipline

RULING OR RATIO DECIDENDI

 The court adopted the resolution of the IBP-BOG.


 The respondents asked for reconsideration on the basis of the Judicial Affidavit of the
complainants clearing them of the disbarment case filed against them through turning the blame
on their counsel.
 The court said that a lawyer has a responsibility to possess good moral character for the uplifting
of and promoting the public’s faith in the legal profession. 41
 The Court cannot yield to the complainants’ change of hearts because case for suspension or
disbarment may proceed “regardless of interest or lack of interest of the complainants, if the facts
proven so warrant.
 This is so because the misconduct of a lawyer is deemed a violation of his oath to keep sacred
the integrity of the profession for which he must be disciplined. The power to discipline lawyers
who are officers of the court may not be cut short by compromise and withdrawal of the charges.
This is as it should be, especially when we consider that the law profession and its exercise is
one impressed with public interest. Proceedings to discipline erring members of the bar are not
instituted to protect and promote the public good only but also to maintain the dignity of the
profession by the weeding out of those who have proven themselves unworthy thereof. 42
 It is for that reason that the Court cannot set aside the finding of culpability against respondents;
their forgiveness or withdrawal matters not in deciding the misconduct of Francisco.
 It was clear the Francisco received the P20,000 installment paid by the complainants as evident
in the Acknowledgment Receipt signed by him in a letterhead of his own law firm.
 Francisco did not mention to the court of the agreed out-of-court settlements which rendered the
complainants default because of non-appearance in the scheduled pre-trial. They also file a
motion for execution of the decision but still, they did not inform the court, hence, violating the
standards of honesty and the Code of Professional Responsibility Canon 1, Rule 1.01, and
Canon 10, Rule 10.01.
 The claims of the complainants regarding the fabrication of Atty. Paras are immaterial to this
case. It is inexplicable how the complainants could now claim that the respondents are blameless
when the records tell otherwise.

RULES VIOLATED

 Code of Professional Responsibility


o Canon 1 – A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote
respect for law and of legal profession
 Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.

o Canon 10 – A lawyer owes candor, fairness, and good faith to the Court.
 Rule 10.01 – A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any
in the Court; nor shall he mislead or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.

CASE LAW OR DOCTRINES CITED

 Go v. Candoy43
o A case for suspension or disbarment may proceed "regardless of interest or lack of
interest of the complainants, if the facts proven so warrant."
 San Jose Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Atty. Romanillos
 Munar v. Flores
 Cruz v. Atty. Centron44

41 San Jose Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Atty. Romanillos, 499 Phil. 99, 107 (2005).
42 Munar v. Flores, 207 Phil. 390, 393 (1983).
43 Go v. Candoy, 128 Phil. 461, 465 (1967).
44 Cruz v. Atty. Centron , 484 Phil. 671, 675 (2004).
o To be clear, "[i]n administrative cases for disbarment or suspension against lawyers, the
quantum of proof required is clearly preponderant evidence and the burden of proof rests
upon the complainant."

PENALTY IMPOSED

Atty. Francisco Yap was suspended from the practice of law for a period of three months.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION

WHEREFORE, for deliberately misleading the Court, Atty. Francisco Dy Yap is hereby
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of three (3) months effective upon receipt of this
Resolution, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future shall be
dealt with severely.
March 18, 2015 A.C. No. 10672
EDUARDO A. MAGLENTE, Complainant, vs. ATTY. DELFIN R. LOZADAOILI, Respondent.

FACTS:
 Complainant, as President of Samahan ng mga Maralitang Taga Ma. Corazon III, Incorporated
(Samahan), sought for the legal services of the respondent to determine the true owner of the
land the Samahan was occupying.
 He then gave respondent P48,000 to cover for filing fees as acknowledged by the respondent
 Despite the payment, respondent failed to file the action in court and when complainant
confronted him, he reasoned that the money was not enough to cover for the fees.
 Complainant then asked for the money to be returned but respondent said that he has spent the
money and further asked for more.
 Complainant also said that when he persisted for the return of money, the respondent told him to
shut up as it was not his money in the first place.

PROCEEDING:

This is an administrative case filed by Eduardo Manglete against Atty. Delfin R. Agcaoili before
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The case was decided by the First Division of the Supreme Court.

COMPLAINT:

Manglete prayed that Atty. Agcaoili be directed to return the amount of P48,000 that he received
from him.

COMMENT:

 Respondent denied spending the money. He claimed that he already prepared the initiatory
pleading and was about to file the same when he learned from the Regional Trial Court Clerk of
Antipolo City that the filing fee was costly which he relayed to the complainant to raise the amount
needed.
 While waiting for the amount, the present administrative case was filed against him.

INVESTIGATING BODY:

Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commissioner for Bar Discipline

RULING OR RATIO DECIDENDI:

 The Court found the respondent GUILTY in violation of the CPR, Canon 18 and Rule 18.03.
 A lawyer is duty-bound to serve the latter with competence, and to attend to such client’s cause
with diligence, care, and devotion, whether he accepts it for a fee or for free. He owes fidelity to
such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed upon him.
 The respondent clearly received the money from the complainant for the payment of filing fees
but failed to comply with his duties and offered as an alibi the insufficiency of the amount to fully
pay the fees.
 Respondent also violate Rules 16.01 and 16.03 Canon 16 of the CPR when he failed to return the
money to the complainant despite repeated demands.
 The Court said that when a client gave a sum of money to his lawyer, his lawyer must comply
with his duties and report to the client that the money has served its purpose and if the money
was not used accordingly, the lawyer must return the same to the client.
 As respondent failed to return the money to the complainant, he failed to exercise such skill, care,
and diligence as men of the legal profession commonly possess and exercise in such matters of
professional employment and hence, must be disciplined accordingly.

RULES VIOLATED:

 Canon 18 – A lawyers shall serve his client with competence and diligence.
o Rule 18.03 – A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.
 Canon 16 – A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that my come in is
profession.
o Rule 16.01 – A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or
from client.
o 16.03 – A lawyer shall deliver funds and property of his client when due or upon demand.

CASE LAW OR DOCTRINE CITED:

 Quantum Meruit – “what one has earned”


 Segovia-Ribaya v. Lawsin45 - the Court suspended the lawyer for a period of one (1) year for his
failure to perform his undertaking under his retainership agreement with his client and to return
the money given to him by the latter.
 Meneses v. Macalino46 - the same penalty was imposed on a lawyer who failed to render any
legal service to his client as well as to return the money he received for such purpose.

PENALTY IMPOSED:

Atty. Agcaoili was suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year with a stern
warning that a repetition of the same shall be dealt with more severely.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION:

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Delfin R. Agcaoili, Jr. (respondent), is found GUILTY of violating
Rules 16.01 and 16.03 of Canon 16, and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one (1)
year, effective upon his receipt of this Decision, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or
similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

45 A.C. No. 7965, November 13, 2013, 709 SCRA 287.


46 518 Phil. 378 (2006).
A.C. No. 8826 March 25, 2015

SHIRLEY OLAYTA-CAMBA, Complainant, vs.ATTY. OTILIO SY BONGON, Respondent.

FACTS:

 Complainant alleged she engaged the services of the respondent for titling and/or reconstituting
the titles to the real estate properties of the late Bernabe Olayta situatied in Camalig and
Guinobatan, Albay.
 With that, she gave the respondent the aggregate amount of P112,499.55 to respondents for
payment for the legal services, certification fees, advance payment for reconstitution of the titles,
land taxes and titling properties, attorney’s fees, documentary stamps, and BIR taxes.
 However, respondent failed to update the complainant of the status of the matters referred to him.
 Complainant then terminated her engagement with the respondent and demanded the return of
P112,499.55, but to no avail.

PROCEEDINGS:

This is an administrative case filed by complainant Shirley Olayta-Camba against respondent


Atty. Otilio Sy Bongon, praying that the latter be disbarred and be directed to return the amount of
Pl12,449.55 that he received from the former.

COMPLAINT:

Complainant alleged that respondent failed to update her regarding the titling and reconstituting
of titles of the land of the late Bernabe Olayta.

COMMENT:

 Respondent claimed that he only received P55,000 and the rest of the money was received by
Rowena Delos Reyes-Kelley who was not an employee of his firm.
 Respondent said that he offered to return the P30,000 and that he earned the P20,000 for having
studied the matter entrusted to him and drafted the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition that underwent
several revisions.

INVESTIGATING BODY:

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Commission on Bar Discipline investigated this case.

RULING OR RATIO DECIDENDI:

 The Court agreed with the findings of the IBP-CBD.


 Complainant indeed engaged the services of the respondent which the respondent admitted the
receipt of only P55,000 which the respondent did not return despite demands.
 Respondent also failed to comply with his duty reasoning that the delay of the preparation of the
deed and the reconstitution of the tiles were due the deed’s several provisions and Bernabe
Olayta’s surviving heirs were living in different places, making it difficult to secure their presence
and obtain their signatures.
 When a lawyer receives money from the client for a particular purpose, the lawyer is bound to
render an accounting to the client showing that the money was spent for the intended purpose.
Consequently, if not used accordingly, the money must be returned immediately to the client. As
such, a lawyer’s failure to return the money to his client despite numerous demands is a violation
of the trust reposed on him and is indicative of his lack of integrity, as in this case.

RULES VIOLATED

 Code of Professional Responsibility


o Canon 16 - A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF
HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.
 Rule 16.01 – A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or
received for or from the client.
xxxx
 Rule 16.03 – A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due
or upon demand. x x x.

CASE CITED

 Segovia-Ribaya v. Lawsin47
o “The Court suspended the lawyer for a period of one (1) year for his failure to perform his
undertaking under his retainership agreement with his client and to return the money
given to him by the latter.”
 Meneses v. Macalino48

PENALTY IMPOSED

Atty. Bongon was suspended from the practice of law for a period of one month.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Otilio Sy Bongon is found GUILTY of violating Rules 16.01 and
16.03 of Canon 16, and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly,
he is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one (1) month, effective upon his
receipt of this Resolution, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be
dealt with more severely.

47 A.C. No. 7965, November 13, 2013, 709 SCRA 287.


48 518 Phil. 378, 385 (2006).
VICTOR D. DE LOS SANTOS II, complainant v. ATTY. NESTOR C. BARBOSA, respondent.

A.C. No. 6681 June 17, 2015

Facts:

 A complaint for Falsification of Public Document was filed by Melba D. De Los Santos Rodis
against her, father, Ricardo D. De Los Santos, Sr. and Rosie P. Canaco. Rodis alleged that Canaco
made untruthful statements in the certificate of live birth of her son, Victor Canaco De Los
Santos. Canaco indicated in her son's certificate of live birth that she was married to De Los
Santos, Sr. on September 1, 1974 in San Fernando, Camarines Sur when no such marriage took
place. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 111152.
 At the preliminary conference held on May 24, 2004, the respondent, as counsel de parte of
Canaco, objected to the Prosecution’s offer in evidence of the photocopy of the birth record of
Victor Canaco Delos Santos. As a result, the MeTC issued an order resetting the preliminary
conference to October 19, 2004 in order to give the prosecution time to file a certified true copy
of the birth certificate.
 On May 25, 2004, the respondent sent letters dated May 24, 2004 to the Office of the Civil
Registrar of Quezon City, the National Census and Statistics Office, and St. Luke’s Hospital. The
pertinent portions of these letters state:
Assuming without admitting that such facts of birth records exists, please be guided that
my client, VICTOR CANACO DE LOS SANTOS, has never authorized anybody to secure a
copy, Xerox or otherwise.
 Thus, the MeTC issued an order for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum/ad testificandum
ordering the Civil Registrar to produce a certified true copy of the live birth of Victor Canaco
delos Santos.
 On February 22, 2005, the complainant filed a Petition for Disbarment, charging the respondent
with multiple gross violations of his oath as a lawyer and Canons of Professional Ethics for
unlawfully obstructing and delaying the proceedings in Criminal Case against Canaco.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative case against Atty. Nestor C. Barbosa for violation of his oath as a
lawyer and of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The case was decided by the Second Division.

Complaint(s):

 The respondent’s act of sending out the letters dated May 24, 2004 was criminally and
maliciously done to delay, impeded, obstruct, or otherwise frustrate the prosecution of Canaco,
who is the respondent’s client.
 The respondent’s letters were not justified by any tenable and lawful defense and were made to
suppress and conceal the subject birth record to impair its availability, authenticity, verity, or
admissibility as evidence.
 The acts of respondent constituted multiple gross violations of his oath as a lawyer, of the
Canons of Professional Ethics, and of his duties as an attorney under the Rules of Court.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):
In his Comment-Opposition, the respondent argued that the complainant is a disgruntled litigant
whose series of cases, filed together with his group, had all been dismissed and the respondent
was the opposing counsel in these dismissals.

The respondent further asserted that this case is a violation of the rule on forum shopping since
it is the tenth case pending on the same set of facts.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:

The Court finds respondent Atty. Nestor C. Barbosa GUILTY of violating Rules 1.01 and
1.03 of Canon 1, Rule 10.01 of Canon 10, and Rule 12.04 of Canon 12 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

A lawyer should not only help attain the speedy, efficient, impartial, correct, and
inexpensive adjudication of cases and prompt satisfaction of final judgments, but should
likewise avoid any unethical or improper practices that may impede, obstruct, or prevent the
realization of a speedy and efficient administration of justice,

In the present case, in disregard of the METC’s intent to expedite the proceedings
through its Order of October 19, 2004, the respondent sent letters to the Office of the Civil
Registrar of Quezon City, the National Census and Statistics Office, and St. Luke’s Hospital to
prevent the prosecution from obtaining a certified true copy of the birth certificate of Victor
Canaco Delos Santos. The preliminary conference of May 24, 2004 was precisely postponed to
allow the prosecution to secure this certified true copy. Thus, the respondent committed willful
disobedience to a lawful order of the court intended to avoid any further delay of the
proceedings in the criminal case.

A lawyer’s first duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice. The
respondent deliberately misled the MeTC, the Commission and this Court into believing that
Victor Canaco De Los Santos (Canaco’s son whose birth certificate is at issue in the criminal case)
and Victor P. De Los Santos (named in the Information) are different persons.

 Rules Violated:

Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 states:

“[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.”

Rule 1.03 provides that:

“[a] lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or
delay any man’s cause.”

Rule 12.04 of Canon 12 likewise states that:


“[a] lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse Court
processes.”

Rule 10.01 of Canon 10 provides that:

“[a] lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he
mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.”

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

The case of Prieto v. Corpus, states that “As an officer of the court, a lawyer is part of
the machinery in the administration of justice”49

In Valencia v. Antiniw, A lawyer is, first and foremost, an officer of the court. A lawyer’s
first duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice.50

In Yupangco-Nakpil v. Uy, Members of the Bar are expected at all times to uphold the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or omission, that might
lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of
the legal profession.51

 Other Case Related to the Present Case:

In Molina v. Magat, the penalty of six months suspension from the practice of law was
imposed against the lawyer who made false and untruthful statements in one of his pleadings.
Here, the respondent committed breaches of ethical rules beyond what was committed in
Molina; his defiance and willful disobedience to a lawful order of the MeTC and the act of
misleading the MeTC, the Commission, and this Court as to the identity of his client constitute
gross violation of his oath as a lawyer and of the Code of Professional Responsibility.52

 Penalty Imposed: Respondent is SUSPENDED for one (1) year from the practice of law.

Dispositive Portion:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds respondent Atty. Nestor C. Barbosa GUILTY
of violating Rules 1.01 and 1.03 of Canon 1, Rule 10.01 of Canon 10, and Rule 12.04 of Canon 12
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED for one (1) year from the
practice of law, effective upon his receipt of this Decision, and is STERNLY WARNED that a
repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

49 Prieto v. Corpus, A.C. No. 6517, December 6, 2006, 510 SCRA 1, 11.
50 Valencia v. Antiniw, A.C. Nos. 1302, 1391, 1543, June 30, 2008, 556 SCRA 503, 514
51 Yupangco-Nakpil v. Uy, A.C. 9115, September 17, 2014.
52 A.C. No. 1900, June 13, 2012, 672 SCRA 1.
ADELITA B. LLUNAR, complainant v. ATTY. ROMULO RICAFORT, respondent.

A.C. No. 6484 June 16, 2015

Facts:

 In September 2000, the complainant, as attorney-in-fact of Severina Bañez, hired the


respondent to file a case against father and son Ricardo and Ard Cervantes (Ard) for the
recovery of a parcel of land allegedly owned by the Bañez family but was fraudulently registered
under the name of Ricardo and later was transferred to Ard.
 The property, which Ard had mortgaged with the Rural Bank of Malilipot, Albay, was the subject
of foreclosure proceedings at the time the respondent was hired.
 The respondent received from the complainant the following amounts: (a) P70,000.00 as partial
payment of the redemption price of the property; (b) P19,000.00 to cover the filing fees; and (c)
P6,500.00 as attorney’s fees.
 Three years later, the complainant learned that no case involving the subject property was ever
filed by the respondent with RTC in Legaspi City. Thus, the complainant demanded that the
respondent return to her the amount of P95,000.00.
 The respondent refused to return the whole amount of P95,000.00 to the complainant. He
argued that a complaint for annulment of title against Ard Cervantes had actually been filed in
court, though not by him, but by another lawyer, Atty. Edgar M. Abitria. Thus, he was willing to
return only what was left of the P95,000.00 after deducting therefrom the P50,000.00 that he
paid to Atty. Abitria as acceptance fee for handling the case.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative case against Atty. Romulo Ricafort for gross and inexcusable
negligence and serious misconduct. The case was decided EN BANC.

Complaint(s):

The complaints filed against the respondent are as follows: (1) The complainant had no
knowledge of Atty. Abitria’s engagement as counsel. (2) The complaint was filed three (3) years
late and the property could no longer be redeemed from the bank. (3) The complainant
discovered that the respondent had been suspended indefinitely from the practice of law since
May 29, 2002 which the complainant suspected was the reason another lawyer, and not the
respondent, filed the complaint for annulment of title in court.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

The respondent argued that his referral of the complainant’s case to Atty. Abitria was actually
with the complainant’s knowledge and consent; and that he paid Atty. Abitria P50,000.00 for
accepting the case. These facts were confirmed by Atty. Abitria in an affidavit dated November
17, 2004, but were alleged to have been overlooked by Commissioner Villanueva in his report.

Investigating Body: This case was investigated by the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:


The Court finds respondent guilty of Grave Misconduct in his dealings with his client and in
engaging in the practice of law while under indefinite suspension.

The respondent in this case committed several infractions making him liable for grave
misconduct. First, the respondent did not exert due diligence in handling the complainant’s
case. He failed to act promptly in redeeming the complainant’s property within the period of
redemption. What is worse is the delay of three years before a complaint to recover the
property was actually filed in court. The respondent clearly dilly-dallied on the complainant’s
case and wasted precious time and opportunity that were then readily available to recover the
complainant’s property. Under these facts, the respondent violated Rule 18.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

Second, the respondent failed to return, upon demand, the amounts given to him by the
complainant for handling the latter’s case. The complainant approached the respondent several
times thereafter to follow up on the case/s to be filed supposedly by the respondent who, in
turn, reassured her that actions on her case had been taken.

After the complainant discovered three years later that the respondent had not filed
any case in court, she demanded that the respondent return the amount of P95,000.00, but her
demand was left unheeded. The respondent later promised to pay her, but until now, no
payment of any amount has been made. These facts confirm that the respondent violated
Canon 16 of the CPR. In addition, a lawyer’s failure to return upon demand the funds or
property he holds for his client gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated these
funds or property for his own use to the prejudice of, and in violation of the trust reposed in him
by his client.53

Third, the respondent committed dishonesty by not being forthright with the
complainant that he was under indefinite suspension from the practice of law. The respondent
should have disclosed this fact at the time he was approached by the complainant for his
services. Canon 15 of the CPR states that “a lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in
all his dealings and transactions with his clients.” The respondent lacked the candor expected of
him as a member of the Bar when he accepted the complainant’s case despite knowing that he
could not and should not practice law.

Lastly, the respondent was effectively in the practice of law despite the indefinite
suspension imposed on him. This infraction infinitely aggravates the offenses he committed.
Based on the above facts alone, the penalty of suspension for five (5) years from the practice of
law would have been justified, but the respondent is not an ordinary violator of the profession's
ethical rules; he is a repeat violator of these rules.

Rules Violated:

53 Espiritu v. Ulep, 497 Phil. 339, 345 (2005).


CANON 15 – A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and
transactions with his clients.

CANON 17 – A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust
and confidence reposed in him.

Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Rule 16.03 – A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon
demand. However, he shall have a lien over the funds and may apply so much thereof as may be
necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving notice promptly thereafter to his
client. He shall also have a lien to the same extent on all judgments and executions he has
secured for his client as provided for in the Rules of Court.

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

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

Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned: None

Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable

Penalty Imposed: Respondent Atty. Romulo Ricafort is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law and
his name REMOVED from the Roll of Attorneys and ordered to return the amount of ₽95,000.00 to
complainant.

Dispositive Portion:
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Romulo Ricafort is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law
and his name REMOVED from the Roll of Attorneys, effective immediately upon his receipt of
this Decision. Also, he is ORDERED to RETURN the amount of 195,000.00 to complainant Adelita
B. Llunar, within thirty (30) days from notice of this Decision.
ALFREDO C. OLVIDA, complainant v. ATTY. ARNEL C. GONZALES, respondent.

A.C. No. 5732 June 16, 2015

Facts:

 The complainant engaged the services of the respondent in the filing and handling of a case for
Termination of Tenancy Relationship (case) against tenant Alfonso Lumanta who was no longer
religiously paying the rentals for a 54,000sq.m. coconut farm in Tibungco, Davao City, owned by
his wife and under his administration. Lumanta had left the leased property unattended and in
a sorry state.
 On December 5, 2000, the complainant paid the respondent his acceptance fee of 15,000.00
and 700.00 as advance appearance fee. The respondent asked the complainant to provide him
with copies of all pertinent documents and affidavits of his witnesses.
 At the hearing, the DARAB exerted efforts to resolve the case amicably, but the parties failed to
come to an agreement, prompting the Board to require the parties to submit their position
papers within 40 days from the date of the hearing.
 On March 22, 2001, the complainant provided the respondent all pieces of documentary
evidence, including his own affidavit, for the preparation of the position paper.
 Thereafter, the complainant repeatedly called the respondent’s office for information about the
position paper. He did this until the last day of its submission, but failed to contact the
respondent. Thus, he was compelled to go to the respondent’s office; but again, he failed to see
the respondent.
 The complainant finally contacted the respondent’s secretary, Marivic Romero, about the
position paper. Romero told him that the position paper had already been filed. When he
asked for a copy, Romero replied that there was none as it was the respondent himself who
prepared the position paper on his computer.
 On December 13, 2001, nine months after the expiration of the period for the filing of the
position paper the complainant received a copy of the decision of Regional Agrarian Reform
Adjudicator dismissing the case for lack of merit. When he read the text of the decision, he
discovered that the respondent did not file the position paper in the case. The decision stated
that the respondent failed to submit a position paper despite ample time to do so.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative case against Atty. Amel C. Gonzales for intentional negligence
due to respondent's failure to submit the complainant's position paper in his case before the
Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) in Davao City. The case was decided EN
BANC.

Complaint(s):

The complaints against the respondent are as follows: (I) failure to submit a position paper
despite ample time to do so which resulted to the dismissal of the case. (II) When the
respondent already had a copy of the decision even before he received his own, and had not
informed him about it.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):
 More than seven years after he was first required by the Court to do so, the respondent filed his
comment. He prayed for a dismissal of the complaint, contending that the complainant’s
accusations were merely products of his fertile imagination and scheming mind. He explained
that the complainant pressed charges against him not because he failed to file a position paper
— under DARAB rules, the filing of a position paper can be dispensed with — but because he
lost the case.
 The respondent pointed out that the complainant lost the case because there was a difference
of opinion between them; the complainant wanted to impose upon him his own view and
opinion and would dictate to him what he wanted to be done in the course of the proceedings,
while refusing all his advice on how to pursue the case. The complainant in fact failed to submit
to him all the pieces of documentary evidence he needed.

Investigating Body: This case was investigated by the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:

The respondent, Atty. Arnel C. Gonzales, is liable as charged. He grossly violated Canon 17, and
failed to comply with his duty under Rule 18.04, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

At so late a period for the filing of the position paper and without even asking for
extension to file the pleading, the respondent remained unavailable until the complainant’s
receipt of a copy of the DARAB decision dismissing the case for lack of merit due to the
respondent’s failure to file a position paper.

The respondent is no less responsible than the two erring lawyers in the above-cited cases
for his failure to file the position paper in the DARAB case, which caused complainant and his
family so much grief, considering, as complainant lamented, that they suffered emotional shock,
heartaches, and sleepless nights because of the expenses they had incurred that aggravated their
longstanding problems with their tenant.

Further, the respondent kept to himself his receipt of a copy of the DARAB’s adverse
decision which he received even before the complainant received his own. This failure to
communicate was downright dishonest and unethical and cannot but aggravates the respondent’s
inexcusable neglect in not filing a position paper in the case. It also showed the respondent’s
gross lack of professionalism in dealing with his client; worse than this, his office, through his
secretary, had even made the complainant believe that the position paper had already been filed.

The respondent tried to evade liability by shifting the blame on the complainant for the
non-filing of the position paper. He claimed that the complainant refused to provide him with the
documentary evidence he needed and to follow his advice on how the case should proceed.

 Rules Violated:

Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:


A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE
TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.

Rule 18.04, Canon 18

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

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

As the Court said in Biomi Sarenas Ochagabia v. Atty. Balmes L. Ocampos:54 “A lawyer engaged
to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latter’s interest with
utmost diligence. By failing to file appellant’s brief, respondent was remiss in the discharge of
such responsibility. He thus violated the Code of Professional Responsibility.”

Also, in In Re: Atty. David Briones,55 we held that the failure of the counsel to submit the
required brief within the reglementary period is an offense that entails disciplinary action.
x x x His failure to file an appellant’s brief x x x has caused the appeal to remain inactive for
more than a year, to the prejudice of his client, the accused himself, who continues to languish
in jail pending the resolution of his case.56

 Penalty Imposed: Respondent Atty. Amel C. Gonzales is SUSPENDED from the· practice of law
for three (3) years.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent Atty. Amel C. Gonzales is SUSPENDED from the·
practice of law for three (3) years, effective upon finality of this decision, with a warning that a
repetition of the same offense shall be dealt with more severely.

54 466 Phil. 1, 6 (2004), citing Ford v. Datol, A. C. No. 3736, November 16, 1995, 250 SCRA 7, 12.
55 A.C. No. 5486, 415 Phil. 203, (2001).
56 Id. at 208.
TEODULO F. ENRIQUEZ, complainant v. ATTY. EDILBERTO B. LAVADIA, JR., respondent.

A. C. No. 5686 June 16 2015

Facts:

 On January 7, 1997, Mr. Ernesto Ouano, Sr. filed a complaint3 for forcible entry against
complainant Teodulo Enriquez, to defend his interests, Enriquez engaged4 the services of the
law office of Attys. Joselito M. Alo, R. L. C. Agapay, and Edilberto B. Lavadia, Jr. with Atty.
Lavadia as the assigned attorney.
 On March 18, 2000, in open court, Atty. Lavadia agreed to submit their position papers and
affidavits within 30 days from the receipt of the pre-trial order after which, the case would be
submitted for decision. However, Atty. Lavadia failed to file the position paper resulting in the
defendants being declared in default. The MCTC rendered a decision in favor of the plaintiffs.
Atty. Lavadia filed a notice of appeal.
 The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Talibon, Bohol dismissed the appeal based on Section 7(b),
Rule 40 of the Rules of Court. The RTC stated that Atty. Lavadia failed to file the appeal
memorandum after more than 71 days. Atty. Lavadia moved for reconsideration but the same
was denied by the RTC in its June 26, 2001 Order pointing out that it had granted four motions
for extension and still no appeal memorandum was filed.

Proceeding(s): This is complaint for disbarment against Atty. Edilberto B. Lavadia, Jr. for gross
negligence and inefficiency in the performance of his duties as a lawyer. The case was decided EN BANC.

Complaint(s):

Enriquez alleged that in failing to file the necessary pleadings before the court, Atty.
Lavadia caused them great damage and prejudice. This constituted gross negligence and
inefficiency in the performance of his professional duties as a lawyer and thus prayed that
respondent be disbarred.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

 The Court received an ex parte manifestation from Atty. Lavadia stating that he cannot file a
comment because he did not receive a copy of the complaint.

On December 10, 2002, Enriquez informed the Court that he sent a copy of the complaint and its
annexes to Atty. Lavadia on December 6, 2002 as evinced by a receipt.

 Atty. Lavadia filed two motions for extension citing his heavy case load and family problems as
reasons in both instances for not filing the comment. Said motions were granted by the Court
giving Atty. Lavadia another 60 days within which to file his comment.
 On February 18, 2003, Atty. Lavadia again filed a motion to extend to file his comment due to his
wife’s continued illness.
 As to the requirement of the court to show cause why he should not be held in contempt and a
1000 pesos fine or imprisonment of five days if he failed to pay the fine, Atty. Lavadia paid the
fine on June 2, 2005, and asked for additional time to file his comment this time stating that he
had moved from Tagbilaran to Cebu because of his wife’s illness which was caused by “dark-
beings.” He claimed that a series of unfortunate events plagued them, i.e., their house was
razed by a fire, the hard drive of his computer crashing, and his family members falling ill due to
a “dark being.”
 The Court thus granted a 30-day extension, but he failed once again to file his comment.
 On April 20, 2011, Atty. Lavadia requested that he be furnished a copy of the complaint having
lost his copy in a fire that razed his home.

Investigating Body: This case was investigated by the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:


The court finds respondent Atty. Edilberto B. Lavadia, Jr. GUILTY for violating Canons 11 and 18
and Rules 10.03, 12.03 and 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

This Court notes Atty. Lavadia’s propensity for filing motions for extension of time to file
pleadings but failing to file the same, in violation of Rule 12.03 of the CPR. In fact, such proclivity
on the part of Atty. Lavadia to file such motions precisely led to the filing of this complaint. In
the course of this administrative proceeding, he continued to flaunt to this Court his willful
defiance and disregard for court orders.

This disbarment case has dragged on for years while we gave Atty. Lavadia every
opportunity to file his comment. Despite the extended time granted him, he continued to fail to
do so. Such obstinate disobedience to the Court’s orders merits disciplinary action.

In the present case, we note that this is Atty. Lavadia’s first infraction. However, given
his proven propensity for filing motions for extension of time and not filing the required
pleading, this Court finds that it should impose the severe sanction lest some other unknowing
clien'ts engage his services only to lose their case due to Atty. Lavadia's nonchalant attitude.

 Rules Violated:

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Canons 11 and 18 and Rules 10.03, 12.03 and 18.03 provides:

Canon 11 – A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial
officers and should insist on similar conduct by others.

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

Rule 10.03 – A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat
the ends of justice

Rule 12.03. – A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings,
memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an
explanation for his failure to do so.

Rule 18.03. – A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
connection there with shall render him liable.
 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In Molina v. Magat, it states that we cannot stress enough that being a lawyer is a
privilege with attached duties and obligations.57

A lawyer is expected to live by the lawyer’s oath, the rules of the profession and the
Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). The duties of a lawyer may be classified into four
general categories namely duties he owes to the court, to the public, to the bar and to his
client.58

In Solidon v. Macalalad59, we stated that receiving money as acceptance fee for legal
services and failing to render the services is a violation of Canon 18 of the CPR. In that case, we
also stated that a lawyer’s failure to file the position paper is a per se violation of Rule 18.03 of
the CPR.60 We pointed to the fiduciary nature of a lawyer’s duty to his client. We stated:

x x x A lawyer so engaged to represent a client bears the responsibility of protecting the


latter’s interest with utmost diligence. The lawyer bears the duty to serve his client with
competence and diligence, and to exert his best efforts to protect, within the bounds of the
law, the interest of his or her client. Accordingly, competence, not only in the knowledge of
law, but also in the management of the cases by giving these cases appropriate attention
and due preparation, is expected from a lawyer.61

In the recent case of Figueras v. Jimenez,62 Atty. Jimenez was found administratively liable
for failing to file the appellant’s brief on behalf of his client.

In Vaflor-Fabroa v. Paguinto,63 this Court reiterated its previous ruling in Sebastian v.


Bajar64 where we stated that:

x x x Respondent’s cavalier attitude in repeatedly ignoring the orders of the Supreme Court
constitutes utter disrespect to the judicial institution. Respondent’s conduct indicates a
high degree of irresponsibility. A Court’s Resolution is “not to be construed as a mere
request, nor should it be complied with partially, inadequately, or selectively”.
Respondent’s obstinate refusal to comply with the Court’s orders “not only betrays a
recalcitrant flaw in her character; it also underscores her disrespect of the Court’s lawful
orders which is only too deserving of reproof.”

 Other Case Related to the Present Case:

57 See Molina v. Magat, A.C. No. 1900, June 13, 2012, 672 SCRA 1, 6.
58 Molina v. Magat, supra note 37.
59 627 Phil. 284 (2010).
60 Id. at 289-290.
61 Id. at 290-291
62 A.C. No. 9116, March 12, 2014.
63 629 Phil. 230, 236-237 (2010).
64 559 Phil. 211, 224 (2007).
In Mariveles v. Mallari,65 we disbarred Atty. Mallari for violating Rules 12.03 and 18.03
of the CPR. There, Atty. Mallari, after being granted a total of 245 days to file his client’s
appellant’s brief failed to file the same, resulting in the dismissal of the appeal. The Court
considered Atty. Mallari’s act a shameless disregard of his duties as a lawyer and found him to
be unfit for membership in the noble profession

 Penalty Imposed: Respondent Atty. Atty. Edilberto B. Lavadia, Jr. is DISBARRED and his name is
ORDERED STRICKEN.OFF from the Roll of Attorneys.

Dispositive Portion:
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Edilberto B. Lavadia, Jr. is hereby DISBARRED for violating Canons
11 and 18 and Rules 10.03, 12.03 and 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and his
name is ORDERED STRICKEN.OFF from the Roll of Attorneys.

65 Adm. Case No. 3294, February 17, 1993, 219 SCRA 44.
FRANCISCO CAOILE, complainant v. ATTY. MARCELINO MACARAEG, respondents.

A.C.No. 720 JUNE 17, 2015

Facts:

 Francisco, and four others, engaged the services of Atty. Macaraeg to represent them in Civil
Case No. 11119, an action for recovery of ownership. After the CFI rendered judgment against
them, Francisco and his co-defendants decided to appeal their case before the Court of Appeals
(CA).
 Atty. Macaraeg filed a notice of appeal. Thrice he moved for extension of time to file appellants'
brief.
 In his last motion for extension, he alleged that he was already in the process of doing the
finishing touches on the brief and just needed to have it printed. Yet, the extended period
expired without Atty. Macaraeg filing any brief. Hence, upon motion of the opposing party, the
CA dismissed the appeal.
 Francisco averred that they were unaware of the dismissal of their appeal until they were served
with the CFI’s writ of execution5 and a notice of sale at public auction of their property in 1965.
 Francisco confronted Atty. Macaraeg who informed him that they lost the case because they
failed to pay him in full.
 In November 1972, the Office of the Solicitor General again summoned the parties to appear
before it. Notably, the return of the subpoena served upon Atty. Macaraeg contained a
notation, viz:

Atty. Marcelino Macaraeg is now deceased.

Proceeding(s): This is a administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Marcelino Macaraeg for
neglect and dereliction of duty. The case was decided by the Second Division.

Complaint(s): The complainant alleged that his lawyer's neglect and dereliction of duty caused the
dismissal of his appeal.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

Atty. Macaraeg averred that Francisco and his co-defendants did not pay in full for his services
in filing the appeal. Anent the pacto de retro sale which Francisco and his wife executed in his
favor supposedly to cover the balance of his professional fees, Atty. Macaraeg claimed that it
was Francisco who insisted on its execution, and that, contrary to Francisco’s claim, it was
intended as payment for his services while representing Francisco before the CFI, and not as
payment for his services in filing the appeal. Atty. Macaraeg also claimed that, in any case,
Francisco did not honor the said pacto de retro sale as the possession of the lot was never
turned over to him.

Atty. Macaraeg denied Francisco’s accusation that he neglected their case. He pointed out that
to push through with the appeal he even advanced some of the appeal expenses. While he
admitted that he failed to submit an appellants’ brief, he averred that the same was actually the
fault of his clients who failed to provide the necessary funds to file said brief. According to him,
he constantly reminded Francisco to give him the amount necessary to cover the costs of the
transcript and printing of the appeal brief. He even filed three motions for extension of time to
file brief to give Francisco more time to come up with the said payment. Still, Francisco was
unable to pay. Moreover, Atty. Macaraeg was not reimbursed for the amount he advanced for
appeal expenses.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:


The Court found Atty. Macaraeg to have violated Rule 12.03 of Canon 12 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

A considerable length of time had elapsed from the time Atty. Macaraeg filed the notice
of appeal up to the time he filed the third motion for extension of time to file the brief. Despite
the passage of such time, however, Atty. Macaraeg still failed to file the brief, which resulted in
the dismissal of his clients’ appeal. Failure to do so without any reasonable excuse violates the
Code of Professional Responsibility.
While Atty. Macaraeg attributed the non-filing of the brief to his clients’ failure to give
the amount necessary for filing the same, he should have, as aptly stated by Commissioner
Cachapero, shown a more mindful and caring attitude towards the cause of his clients by
advancing the payment. Besides, the facts of this case show that his clients were making partial
payments in their efforts to comply with their obligation to him and were not deliberately
refusing to pay him.
In fact, if Atty. Macaraeg truly believed that the necessary funds from his clients were
not forthcoming, he could have excused himself from the case. The Code of Professional
Responsibility allows a counsel to withdraw his services for a good cause, including the client’s
failure to comply with the retainer agreement. Indeed, Atty. Macaraeg violated Rule 12.03.
Nevertheless, while the actuation of Atty. Macaraeg warrants the imposition of a
penalty, supervening circumstances call for the dismissal of this administrative case.
The subpoena issued by the Solicitor General in 1972 contains a handwritten note that
Atty. Macaraeg had already died. Thereafter, nothing more was heard from either party despite
notice. Under these circumstances, it is safe to assume that the complainant had already lost
interest in pursuing this disbarment case against Atty. Macaraeg.

 Rules Violated:

Rule 12.03 of Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let
the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so.

Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.
A considerable length of time had elapsed from the time Atty. Macaraeg filed the notice
of appeal on August 30, 1962 up to the time he filed the third motion for extension of time to
file brief on October 5, 1963. Despite the passage of such time, however, Atty. Macaraeg still
failed to file the brief, which resulted in the dismissal of his clients’ appeal. Suffice it to state
that a motion for extension to file an appellant’s brief carries with it the presumption that the
applicant-lawyer will file the pleading within the requested extended period. Failure to do so
without any reasonable excuse violates the Code of Professional Responsibility.66

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In Apiag v. Cantero,67 the Court dismissed the administrative case against therein
respondent and no longer imposed any sanction against him in view of his death during the
pendency of said case.

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable

 Penalty Imposed: While the actuation of Atty. Macaraeg warrants the imposition of a penalty,
supervening circumstances call for the dismissal of this administrative case.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Complaint for Disbarment against Atty. Marcelino
Macaraeg is hereby DISMISSED.

66 Bergonia v. Atty. Merrera, 446 Phil. 1, 3 (2003)


67 335 Phil. 511, 526 (1997).
CORAZON M. DALUPAN, complainant v ATTY. GLENN C. GACOTT, respondent.

A.C. No. 5067 June 29, 2015

Facts:

 Before us is a petition for review under Rule 139-B, Section 12 (c) of the Rules of Court assailing
Resolution No. XVII-2007-115 dated March 17, 2007 and Resolution No. XIX-2010-544 dated
October 8, 2010 of the Board of Governors of the IBP) which adopted and approved the Report
and Recommendation dated December 12, 2006 of the Investigating Commissioner of the
Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP.
 Although the IBP Board of Governors dismissed the complaint for disbarment filed against the
respondent, it ordered the latter to return the payment of the attorney's fee to the complainant
in the amount of ll5,000. This order to return the attorney's fee is the subject of the present
petition.
 The complainant claimed that she was a defendant in a criminal case for grave slander pending
before the (MTC) of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
 Her son, Wilmer Dalupan, was also a defendant in a separate criminal case for grave slander and
malicious mischief pending before the same court. In order to represent the complainant and
her son, the complainant engaged the legal services of the respondent who then charged an
acceptance fee of P10,000.
 On August 20, 1996, the complainant paid the respondent P5,000 as initial payment for his
acceptance fee.
 The complainant requested the respondent to draft a Motion to Reduce Bail Bond. However,
the respondent allegedly denied the request and claimed that it was beyond the scope of his
retainer services. Thus, the complainant alleged that she caused a certain Rolly Calbentos to
draft the same which was however signed by the respondent.
 On January 31, 1997, the complainant paid the respondent the remaining balance of P5,000 for
his acceptance fee. When the complainant asked for an Official Receipt from the respondent,
the latter refused saying that there was no need for the issuance of a receipt.
 On that same day, the complainant also paid the respondent P500 for his appearance fee in the
preliminary conference and arraignment which occurred on the same day.
 On October 10, 1997, the complainant told the respondent that she was terminating the latter’s
services on the ground of loss of trust and confidence. Furthermore, the complainant also told
the respondent that she engaged the services of Atty. Roland Pay to replace the respondent. As
a result, on October 30, 1997, the complainant withdrew all her records from the law office of
the respondent.

Proceeding(s): This is a complaint for disbarment against the respondent on the ground of
abandonment or neglect of duty. The case was decided by the Third Division.

Complaint(s):

 The complainant alleged that she requested the respondent to draft a Motion to Reduce Bail
Bond which was denied by the latter.
 The complainant alleged that the respondent neglected his duties as counsel and failed to
attend any of the hearings before the MTC.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

 In his comment, the respondent denied all the allegations of the complainant.
 The respondent alleged that the complainant approached him and represented herself as an
indigent party in the following cases for which she sought to engage the legal services of the
respondent: (1) Criminal Case No. 12586, People of the Philippines v. Corazon Dalupan, et al. for
Grave Slander, (2) Criminal Case No. 12585, People of the Philippines v. Wilmer Dalupan for
Malicious Mischief, (3) I.S. No. 96-1104, Custodio Family v. Cesar Dalupan, et al. for Frustrated
Murder, (4) I.S. No. 97-54, Dalupan Family v. Romulo Custodio, et al. for Physical Injuries, and (5)
I.S. No. 9760 Dalupan Family v. Romulo Custodio for Frustrated Murder. The respondent agreed
to represent the complainant in the aforementioned cases subject to the payment of an
acceptance fee of P5,000 per case and an appearance fee of P500 for each court appearance.
 On August 27, 1996, the respondent filed a Motion for Reduction of Bail in favor of the
complainant before the MTC of Puerto Princesa City. On that same day, the complainant
proceeded to the law office of the respondent and demanded that the latter negotiate with the
MTC judge to ensure the grant of the Motion for Reduction of Bail. When the respondent
refused the demand of the complainant, the latter replied at the top of her voice: “Binabayaran
kita, bakit hindi mo ginagawa ang gusto ko?” The respondent answered her with, “Hindi po
lahat ng gusto ninyo ay gagawin ko, sa tama lamang po tayo, abogado po ninyo ako, hindi ako
fixer.” This irked the complainant who then made verbal threats that she will replace the
respondent with a certain Atty. Roland Pay who held office nearby. However, when the MTC of
Puerto Princesa City eventually ruled in favor of the complainant and granted the motion, the
latter revoked her threats that she will replace the respondent.
 The respondent argued that he was not guilty of abandonment or neglect of duty because it was
the complainant who wilfully terminated his services even without fault or negligence on his
part.

The respondent’s comments during the hearing:

 Firstly, the respondent argued that when the MTC of Puerto Princesa City issued the Order
dated January 29, 1998 which relieved the respondent of any responsibility in Criminal Case Nos.
12585 and 12586, the trial court did not require the respondent to reimburse the payment of
the attorney’s fee to the complainant. Thus, the IBP Board of Governors exceeded its authority
in ordering the respondent to return such fees to the complainant.
 Secondly, the respondent argued that a plain reading of the Official Receipt dated August 20,
1996 would reveal that the parties intended the payment of P5,000 to serve as acceptance fee
which is different from attorney’s fee. According to the respondent, the acceptance fee
corresponds to the opportunity cost incurred by the lawyer for not representing other potential
clients due to a conflict of interest with the present client. Thus, the payment of acceptance fee
to the lawyer does not depend on the latter’s performance of legal services.

Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:


The respondent is not liable for abandonment or neglect of duty.

The court finds that the respondent did not commit any fault or negligence in the
performance of his obligations under the retainer agreement which was wilfully terminated by
the complainant on the ground of loss of trust and confidence. As held by the Investigating
Commissioner, the evidence on record shows that the respondent is not liable for abandonment
or neglect of duty.

However, the court disagree with the conclusion of the Investigating Commissioner that
the respondent should return the payment of the attorney’s fee to the complainant in the
amount of P5,000.

Firstly, the Investigating Commissioner seriously erred in referring to the amount to be


returned by the respondent as attorney’s fee. Relevantly, we agree with the respondent that
there is a distinction between attorney’s fee and acceptance fee.

In the present case, based on a simple reading of the Official Receipt dated August 20,
1996, the parties clearly intended the payment of P5,000 to serve as acceptance fee of the
respondent, and not attorney’s fee. Moreover, both parties expressly claimed that they
intended such payment as the acceptance fee of the respondent. Absent any other evidence
showing a contrary intention of the parties, we find that the Investigating Commissioner gravely
erred in referring to the amount to be returned by the respondent as attorney’s fee.

Secondly, the respondent did not commit any fault or negligence which would entail the
return of the acceptance fee.

The complainant failed to present any evidence to support her claim that the
respondent committed abandonment or neglect of duty. Thus, we are constrained to affirm the
factual findings of the Investigating Commissioner that the presumption of regularity should
prevail in favor of the respondent. Absent any fault or negligence on the part of the respondent,
we see no legal basis for the order of the Investigating Commissioner to return the attorney's
fee (acceptance fee) of P5,000.

 Rules Violated: No rules violated


 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In Traders Royal Bank Employees Union-Independent v. NLRC, it is well-settled that


attorney’s fee is understood both in its ordinary and extraordinary concept.68 In its ordinary
sense, attorney’s fee refers to the reasonable compensation paid to a lawyer by his client for
legal services rendered. Meanwhile, in its extraordinary concept, attorney’s fee is awarded by
the court to the successful litigant to be paid by the losing party as indemnity for damages.69

68 Traders Royal Bank Employees Union-Independent v. NLRC, 336 Phil. 705, 712 (1997).
69 Ortiz v. San Miguel Corporation, 582 Phil. 627, 640 (2008).
Once a lawyer receives the acceptance fee for his legal services, he is expected to serve
his client with competence, and to attend to his client’s cause with diligence, care and
devotion.70

In Voluntad-Ramirez v. Bautista,71 we ordered the respondent lawyer to return the


P14,000 acceptance fee because he did nothing to advance his client’s cause during the six-
month period that he was engaged as counsel.

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable


 Penalty Imposed: No penalty imposed.

Dispositive Portion:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. Resolution No. XVII-2007-
115 and Resolution No. XIX2010-544 of the IBP Board of Governors insofar as they ordered the
respondent to return the attorney's fee (acceptance fee) to the complainant in the amount of
Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000) are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

70 Hernandez v. Padilla, A.C. No. 9387, June 20, 2012, 674 SCRA 1, 8; See Del Mundo v. Capistrano, A.C. No.
6903, April 16, 2012, 669 SCRA 462, 468; Reyes v. Atty. Vitan, 496 Phil. 1, 4 (2005).
71 A.C. No. 6733, October 10, 2012, 683 SCRA 327, 335
A.C. No. 8319 [Formerly CBD Case No. 11-2887] September 16, 2015

DAVID WILLIAMS, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. RUDY T. ENRIQUEZ, Respondent.

x-----------------------x

A.C. No. 8329 [Formerly CBD Case No. 11-2888]

SPOUSES DAVID and MARISA WILLIAMS, Complainants,


vs.
ATTY. RUDY T. ENRIQUEZ, Respondent.

x-----------------------x

A.C. No. 8366 [Formerly CBD Case No. 11-2889)

SPOUSES DAVID and MARISA WILLIAMS, Complainants,


vs.
ATTY. RUDY T. ENRIQUEZ, Respondent.

FACTS:

 On December 2, 2002, a complaint for forcible entry of a parcel of land (Lot No. 2920), located in
San Miguel, Bacong, Negros Oriental, docketed as Civil Case No. 390, was filed against the
herein complainants before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Valencia-Bacong, Negros Oriental.
It was filed by Desdiderio Ventolero et. al. and Atty. Enriquez was the counsel for the plaintiffs.
 The MCTC ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and the RTC of Negros Oriental affirmed the MCTC
Decision.
 On November 8, 2006, on reconsideration, RTC-BR. 32 reversed the decision and dismissed the
complaint filed against the complainants.
 Atty. Enqriques was alleged to have instructed Paciano Ventolero Umbac (Paciano) to use death
threats to chase off the complainants’ caretaker and to illegally invade Lot No. 2920 and destroy
an old house of their predecessor, Orlando Verar Rian, Jr.
 As a result, Complainants filed Civil Case No. 502-B for forcible entry against Paciano where the
decision was in their favor and ordered Paciano to vacate the property.
 Complainants also alleged that Atty. Enriquez was the leader of a group of usurpers, squatters
and would be extortionists who were trying to punish them because they refused an earlier
demand for a cash payoff.
 Another complaint, docketed as as Civil Case No. 521-B, was filed against them by Paciano,
owner of the said lot by way of successional rights from his grandparents, Aurea and Ceriaco
Ventolero.
 Complainants informed the Court that they have previously filed an administrative case against
Atty. Enriquez for knowingly making false statements but was dismissed by the Court.
 According to the complainants, the said case was upon the instruction of Atty. Enriquez in order
to prevent another administrative case.
 On May 27, 2008, the MCTC dismissed Civil Case No. 521-B on the ground of litis pendentia.
 Complainants alleged that Atty. Enriquez was the one who drafted the complaint and also
participated in the filing of the case because Paciano was illiterate, spoke no English, and could
not possibly draft the complaint by himself; that Civil Case No. 390 and Civil Case No. 521-B
were identical; the handwriting of the two cases were similar and of Atty. Enriquez; and the
answer to counterclaim in Civil Case No. 521-B was prepared by Atty. Enriquez.
PROCEEDING:

These three disbarment administrative cases were filed against Atty. Enriquez but the Court
ordered for the consolidation of the three cases in violation of the rule on forum shopping and
purposely filing a groundless, false and unlawful suit. The case was decided by the second division.

COMPLAINT:

Spouses Williams filed this administrative case against Atty. Enriquez for allegedly violating the
rule on forum shopping and purposely filing a groundless, false and unlawful suit.

COMMENT:

 Atty. Enriquez countered that he was merely representing the heirs of Aurea Briones Ventolero
who were defending their title over Lot 2920.

INVESTIGATING BODY:

IBP – Commission on Bar Discipline

RULING OR RATIO DECIDENDI

 The Court ruled that Atty. Enriquez was guilty of forum-shopping, violated his oath, and
transgressed the known values and virtues which the legal profession demands from its
members. As observed by the IBP-CBD, Atty. Enriquez did not deny the allegation of forum-
shopping
 It was evident in his elucidation of the decision of the RTC of the Civil Case No. 390 and the
imposition of Civil Case No. 521-B that warranted the imposition of the recommended disciplinary
sanction against Atty. Enriquez.
 He knew that the decision was reversed and the RTC dismissed the case against the
complainants, he still drafted another complaint similar to the first complaint he filed.
 Even if he did not affix his signature in the draft of the complaint, he can still be held liable
because the words he used in the first case as similar to the second case filed by Paciano.
 As a retired judge, Atty. Enriquez should know that a lawyer’s primary duty is to assist the courts
in the administration of justice. Any conduct that tends to delay, impede or obstruct the
administration of justice contravenes this obligation. He also disregarded his duty to assist in the
speedy and efficient administration of justice,20and the prohibition against unduly delaying a case
by misusing court processes.

RULES VIOLATED:

 Forum-shopping - This Court has held that forum shopping exists when, as a result of an adverse
opinion in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion (other than by appeal or certiorari) in
another, or when he institutes two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause,
on the gamble that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition. 72
 Code of Professional Responsibility
o Canon 12 – A lawyer shall exert his effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy
and efficient administration of justice.

PENALTY IMPOSED:

Atty. Enriquez was suspended for six months from the practice of law.

72 Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Flores, 350 Phil. 889, 898-899 (1998).
DISPOSITIVE PORTION:

WHEREFORE, Atty. Rudy T. Enriquez is guilty of violating Canon 12 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of Six (6) Months. He is
STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely.

SPOUSES HENRY A. CONCEPCION and BLESILDA S. CONCEPCION, complainants v ATTY. ELMER A. DELA
ROSA, respondent.

A.C. No. 10681 February 3, 2015

Facts:

 Complainants alleged that from 19972 until August 2008, respondent served as their retained
lawyer and counsel. In this capacity, respondent handled many of their cases and was consulted
on various legal matters, among others, the prospect of opening a pawnshop business towards
the end of 2005. Said business, however, failed to materialize.
 Aware of the fact that complainants had money intact from their failed business venture,
respondent, on March 23, 2006, called Henry to borrow the amount of 2,500,000.00 pesos,
which he promised to return, with interest, five (5) days thereafter.
 Henry consulted his wife, Blesilda, who, believing that respondent would be soon returning the
money, agreed to lend the aforesaid sum to respondent. She thereby issued three (3) EastWest
Bank checks in respondent’s name.
 Upon receiving the checks, respondent signed a piece of paper containing: (a) photocopies of
the checks; and (b) an acknowledgment that he received the originals of the checks and that he
agreed to return the 2,500,000.00 pesos, plus monthly interest of five percent (5%), within five
(5) days.
 In the afternoon of March 23, 2006, the foregoing checks were personally encashed by
respondent.
 On March 28, 2006, or the day respondent promised to return the money, he failed to pay
complainants. Thus, in April 2006, complainants began demanding payment but respondent
merely made repeated promises to pay soon.
 On July 7, 2008, Blesilda sent a demand letter to respondent, which the latter did not heed.
 On August 4, 2008, complainants, through their new counsel, Atty. Kathryn Jessica dela Serna,
sent another demand letter to respondent.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative case against Atty. Elmer A. dela Rosa in violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. The case was decided EN BANC.

Complaint(s): The IBP-Misamis Oriental Chapter received complainants’ letter-complaint charging


respondent with violation of Rule 16.04 of the CPR.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

Respondent denied borrowing 2,500,000.00 pesos from complainants, insisting that Nault was
the real debtor. He also claimed that complainants had been attempting to collect from Nault
and that he was engaged for that specific purpose.
Investigating Body: The IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline investigated the case ate hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:

Respondent Atty. Elmer A. dela Rosa is found guilty of violating Canon 7 and Rule 16.04, Canon
16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

The Court has repeatedly emphasized that the relationship between a lawyer and his
client is one imbued with trust and confidence. And as true as any natural tendency goes, this
“trust and confidence” is prone to abuse. The rule against borrowing of money by a lawyer from
his client is intended to prevent the lawyer from taking advantage of his influence over his
client. The rule presumes that the client is disadvantaged by the lawyer’s ability to use all the
legal maneuverings to renege on his obligation.

Respondent borrowed money from complainants who were his clients and whose
interests, by the lack of any security on the loan, were not fully protected. Owing to their trust
and confidence in respondent, complainants relied solely on the former’s word that he will
return the money plus interest within five (5) days. However, respondent abused the same and
reneged on his obligation, giving his previous clients the runaround up to this day. Accordingly,
there is no quibble that respondent violated Rule 16.04 of the CPR.

In unduly borrowing money from the complainants and by blatantly refusing to pay the
same, respondent abused the trust and confidence reposed in him by his clients, and, in so
doing, failed to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. Thus, he should be
equally held administratively liable on this score.

 Rules Violated:

CANON 16 – A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his clients that may come
into his possession.

Rule 16.04 – A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are
fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend
money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses
in a legal matter he is handling for the client.”

Respondent also violated Canon 7 of the CPR which reads:

CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL
PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

A lawyer’s act of asking a client for a loan, as what respondent did, is very unethical.
It comes within those acts considered as abuse of client’s confidence. The canon presumes that
the client is disadvantaged by the lawyer’s ability to use all the legal maneuverings to renege on
her obligation.73

In Frias v. Atty. Lozada (Frias) the Court categorically declared that a lawyer’s act of
asking a client for a loan, as what herein respondent did, is unethical.74

In Junio v. Atty. Grupo,the Court has repeatedly emphasized that the relationship
between a lawyer and his client is one imbued with trust and confidence. And as true as any
natural tendency goes, this “trust and confidence” is prone to abuse. The rule against borrowing
of money by a lawyer from his client is intended to prevent the lawyer from taking advantage of
his influence over his client.75

In Roav. Atty. Moreno, It is settled that in disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the
only issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to be allowed to continue as a member of
the Bar. 76

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable


 Penalty Imposed: Respondent Atty. Elmer A. dela Rosa is SUSPENDED from the practice of law
for a period of three (3) years.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Elmer A. dela Rosa is found guilty of violating Canon 7 and Rule 16.04,
Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of three (3) years effective upon finality of this Decision, with a stem warning
that a commission of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. This Decision is
immediately executory upon

73
Frias v. Atty. Lozada, 513 Phil. 512, 521-522 (2005).
74
Id.
75
Junio v. Atty. Grupo, 423 Phil. 808, 816 (2001).
76
Roav. Atty. Moreno, 633 Phil. 1, 8 (2010) ... See alsoSuzukiv. Atty. Tiamson, 508 Phil. 130, 142 (2005).
ARCATOMY S. GUARIN, complainant v. ATTY. CHRISTINE A.C. LIMPIN, respondent

A.C. No. 10576, January 14, 2015

Facts:

 In 2004, Guarin was hired by Mr. Celso G. de los Angeles as Chief Operating Officer and
thereafter as President of OneCard Company, Inc., a member of the Legacy Group of
Companies. He resigned from his post effective August 11, 2008 and transferred to St. Luke's
Medical Center as the Vice President for Finance.
 On November 27, 2008, Atty. Limpin, the Corporate Secretary of Legacy Card, Inc. (LCI), another
corporation under the Legacy Group, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a
General Information Sheet (GIS) for LCI for “updating purposes”. The GIS identified Guarin as
Chairman of the Board of Directors (BOD) and President.
 Mired with allegations of anomalous business transactions and practices, on December 18,
2008, LCI applied for voluntary dissolution with the SEC.
 On July 22, 2009, Guarin filed this complaint with the IBP CBD claiming that Atty. Limpin violated
Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the CPR by knowingly listing him as a stockholder, Chairman of the
Board and President of LCI when she knew that he had already resigned and had never held any
share nor was he elected as chairperson of the BOD or been President of LCI. He also never
received any notice of meeting or agenda where his appointment as Chairman would be taken
up. He has never accepted any appointment as Chairman and President of LCI.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative case against Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin in violation of the Code
of Professional Responsibility. The case was decided by the Third Division.

Complaint(s): The complaint was filed with the IBP CBD claiming that Atty. Limpin violated Canon 1 and
Rule 1.01 of the CPR by knowingly listing him as a stockholder, Chairman of the Board and President of
LCI when she knew that he had already resigned and had never held any share nor was he elected as
chairperson of the BOD or been President of LCI.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

Atty. Limpin admits that she filed the GIS with the SEC listing Guarin as a stockholder, the
Chairman of the BOD and President of LCI. She argued that the GIS was provisional to comply
with SEC requirements. It would have been corrected in the future but unfortunately LCI filed for
voluntary dissolution shortly thereafter. She averred that the GIS was made and submitted in
good faith and that her certification served to attest to the information from the last BOD
meeting held on March 3, 2008.

She asserted that Guarin knew that he was a stockholder. Atty. Limpin said that on October 13,
2008, she sent Guarin a text message and asked him to meet with her so he may sign a Deed of
Assignment concerning shareholdings. Guarin responded in the affirmative and said that he
would meet with her on Friday, October 17, 2008. Guarin, however, neglected to show up at
the arranged time and place for reasons unknown to Atty. Limpin. On the strength of Guarin’s
positive reply, Atty. Limpin filed the GIS on November 27, 2008.
To belie the claim that LCI never held any board meeting, Atty. Limpin presented Secretary’s
Certificates dated May 16, 2006, May 22, 2006, and June 13, 2007 bearing Guarin’s signature.

Moreover, Atty. Limpin stated that there were pending criminal complaints against the directors
and officers of LCI, where she and Guarin are co-respondents: Senator Roxas, et al. v. Celso de
los Angeles, et al.9 and SEC v. Legacy Card, Inc. In those proceedings, Guarin raised as a defense
that the November 27, 2008 GIS was spurious and/or perjured. She averred that this Court held
that “when the criminal prosecution based on the same act charged is still pending in court, any
administrative disciplinary proceedings for the same act must await the outcome of the criminal
case to avoid contradictory findings.” During the mandatory preliminary conference, however,
both parties stipulated that the complaint filed by Senator Roxas was dismissed as to Guarin.

Lastly, Atty. Limpin contends that Guarin failed to present sufficient evidence to warrant
disbarment. She stated that merely presenting the GIS does not constitute as proof of any
unethical conduct, harassment and malpractice.

Investigating Body: The IBPs Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) investigated the case at hand.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi: The Court finds Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin GUILTY of violation of Canon 1,
Rule 1.01 and 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

After going through the submissions and stipulations of the parties, this court agree with the
IBP that there is no indication that Guarin held any share to the corporation and that he is therefore
ineligible to hold a seat in the BOD and be the president of the company. It is undisputed that Atty.
Limpin filed and certified that Guarin was a stockholder of LCI in the GIS. While she posits that she
had made the same in good faith, her certification also contained a stipulation that she made a due
verification of the statements contained therein. That Atty. Limpin believed that Guarin would sign a
Deed of Assignment is inconsequential: he never signed the instrument. We also note that there
was no submission which would support the allegation that Guarin was in fact a stockholder. We
thus find that in filing a GIS that contained false information, Atty. Limpin committed an infraction
which did not conform to her oath as a lawyer in accord with Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the CPR.

 Rules Violated:
CODE OFPROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Canon 1 provides:
A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal
processes.
Rule 1.01 provides:
A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Rule 1.02 provides:
A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in
the legal system.
 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

As Justice Malcolm stated “[t]he serious consequences of disbarment or suspension


should follow only where there is a clear preponderance of evidence against the respondent.
The presumption is that the attorney is innocent of the charges pr[o]ferred and has performed
his duty as an officer of the court in accordance with his oath.”77

 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable


 Penalty Imposed: The Court SUSPENDS respondent Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin from the practice
of law for six (6) months.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin GUILTY of violation of Canon 1, Rule
1.01 and Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND
respondent Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS effective
upon finality of this Decision, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the
future will be dealt with more severely.

77
In re Tionko, 43 Phil. 191, 194 (1922).
DOMINIC PAUL D. LAZARETO, complainant v. ATTY. DENNIS N. ACORDA, respondent.

A.C. No. 9603 June 16, 2015

Facts:

 In January 2004, Lazareto and his family engaged the respondent’s services to handle the
extrajudicial settlement of the estate of Lazareto’s father who died intestate. They agreed to set
the deadline for the filing of the extrajudicial settlement action on May 26, 2004, to enable the
family to avail of a 100,000.00 deduction in estate taxes.
 They also agreed that titles to a parcel of conjugal land (Lots B & E) at Tomas Mapua St., Sta.
Cruz, Manila, left by the deceased, be transferred to Lazareto’s mother, Cleotilde D. Lazareto.
 Lazareto gave the respondent the original duplicate copies of TCT No. 206006 for Lot B and TCT
No. 206008 for Lot E, together with cash5 representing the respondent’s acceptance fee
(50,000.00), and initial deposit to answer for extrajudicial transactions which include transfer
taxes and cost of publication (70,000.00).
 Since then, Lazareto had followed up the developments with the respondent by phone, but he
could not be contacted until he received a fax message from him asking for an additional
88,000.00, which Lazareto gave in instalments.
 May 2004 passed without the papers for extrajudicial settlement being filed. Lazareto had not
heard from the respondent all this time, although the lawyer sent a certain Manny Pacheco
allegedly the liaison officer of the law firm, to get the second instalment of ₽20,000.00.
 After August 24, 2004, Lazareto gave additional funds to respondent consisting of 150,000.00
for property taxes and issuance of new titles; 15,000.00 for additional transfer expenses; and
another 10,330.00 for additional property taxes. Since then, Lazareto had not heard from the
respondent, until he wrote the family on April 8, 2005, saying that Pacheco had not given an
accounting of the monies the family had given him (respondent).
 Lazareto and his family entered into negotiations to sell Lot B with a certain Mrs. Nel Manzano.
They asked the respondent to prepare the deed of sale for the transaction; however, even if the
respondent promised to give the matter priority, he failed to attend to it. On August 15, 2005,
the family wrote him a letter reminding him of his promise, as well as of his failure to act on the
filing of the extrajudicial settlement action which had expired a year ago.
 After more than a week without hearing from the respondent, Lazareto was constrained to
write the respondent another letter, demanding the return of the title to Lot E. Thereafter,
Lazareto made several follow-ups with the respondent — through his relatives, as well as
through text messages — to no avail, until the respondent admitted that he had lost TCT No.
206008 covering Lot E.
 With this admission, Lazareto requested the respondent to execute an affidavit of loss so that
the family could secure a duplicate copy of the TCT. The respondent did send a copy of the
affidavit of loss, but it was unsigned.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative case against Atty. Dennis N. Acorda for violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility

Complaint(s):
(1) No “Extrajudicial Settlement” was on file with the Manila Register of Deeds, nor was there
an “Affidavit of Publication;”

(2) what was on file with the Register of Deeds was only a “Deed of Absolute Sale”17 of Lot B
dated September 20, 2005, where the signature D. Lazareto” appeared above the name of his
father, Damaso R. Lazareto, who had been dead since November 26, 2003; and

(3) three copies of the tabloid Balitang Detalye,18 given to the family by the respondent, where
the lawyer claimed the “extrajudicial settlement” was published, were one and the same issue
— VOLUME VIII-NO. 31 MAY 24-30, 2004; 3.a, the published notice was merely ONE DETACHED
SEPARATE PAGE appearing on a mere insert (page 6) titled Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate of
Damaso Lazareto with Deed of Sale; 3.b. below it was the statement: Publisher: Balitang
Detalye; Dates: May 24, 31 and June 7, 2004.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):

 The respondent alleged that upon his engagement as counsel by Lazareto’s family, he advised
them that he could not determine the exact date of completion or termination of his assigned
task, considering that he did not have full control over the processing of documents by the
concerned agencies.
 He denied Lazareto’s submission that he had been negligent in the performance of his duties as
lawyer for the settlement of the estate of Lazareto’s deceased father. He claimed that he
performed the tasks assigned to him with honesty and diligence and that he intended, in good
faith, to complete his tasks at the soonest possible time.
 Additionally, the respondent alleged that Pacheco stole a substantial amount of money from
the firm, as well as several original documents, and that Pacheco could not be found despite
efforts to locate him. Lazareto, however, alleged that the documents were returned to the
respondent. The respondent claimed that the he had to borrow money from his relatives,
friends , and even from informal lenders to enable him to continue performing his work for
Lazareto and his family. He stressed that despite the losses he suffered, “he was able to
finalize all documents and transactions and to deliver the certificate of title covering Lot B.”
 The respondent further claimed that he was determined to complete the task assigned to him
despite the fact that Lazareto, his mother Clotilde, and Ramon Lazareto became “impatient” and
“intrusive” in their language and dealings with him.
 He insisted that he was not negligent in handling the task entrusted to him by the Lazareto
family and that he was entitled to the presumption of diligence as the Court held in Adarne v.
Aldaba. He stressed that Lazareto had executed an affidavit of desistance and had, in fact,
agreed to let him continue as the family lawyer. This being the case, he maintained, Lazareto
should be deemed to have abandoned his cause of action against him.
 The respondent argued that in the light of Comm. Inocencio’s finding that he did not act in bad
faith in dealing with Lazareto and the fact that he had returned the TCT of Lot E and
substantially all of the amounts paid to him, substantial justice, fairness and equity demand that
the case be dismissed.

Investigating Body: The case was investigated by Commission on Bar Discipline.


Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:
The Court SET ASIDE the IBP Board of Governors’ Resolution No. XX-2012-196 (granting
respondent’s motion for reconsideration. Consequently, it dismissed the administrative case
against the respondent, with a warning that he be circumspect in his future dealings).

After an objective examination of the facts and the evidence, we find the dismissal of
the case unacceptable, notwithstanding Lazareto’s affidavit of desistance and his silence with
respect to said dismissal. The IBP Board of Governors misappreciated the gravity and the scope
of the respondent’s breach of his contractual obligation with Lazareto and his family. He had
been negligent in carrying out the task entrusted to him by Lazareto and his family as found by
Comm. Inocencio, a clear violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He had been
grossly dishonest with respect to certain actions he claimed he had taken in relation to his task.

After the family gave him his acceptance fee and provided him with the necessary funds
for the undertaking, respondent became inaccessible and unheard of with respect to his task
(except when he was asking for funding), until the agreed deadline for the filing of the
extrajudicial settlement papers expired. While the respondent might have manifested, in good
faith, his intention to complete the task referred to him at the earliest possible time, the results
proved otherwise.

The filing of the falsified documents by the respondent or by someone acting upon his
instructions was clearly a dishonest attempt to mitigate the adverse effect of his inaction or
negligence on the legal matter entrusted to him.

 Rules Violated:

CANON 18, Rule 18.03

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

Rule 1.01 of Canon 1

A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

In Ong v. Unto, the ethics of the legal profession rightly enjoins every lawyer to act with
the highest standards of truthfulness, fair play, and nobility in the course of his practice of law.78

In Ducat, Jr. v. Villalon, Jr., stated differently, any member of the legal fraternity should
do nothing that would lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty,
and integrity of the legal profession.79

78
Ong v. Unto, 426 Phil. 531, 540 (2002)
79
Ducat, Jr. v. Villalon, Jr., 392 Phil. 394, 402 (2000).
 Other Case Related to the Present Case: Not Applicable

 Penalty Imposed: Respondent Atty. Dennis N. Acorda is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
three (3) years.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Resolution No. XX-2012-196, dated June 9, 2012, of the IBP
Board of Governors is SET ASIDE. Respondent Atty. Dennis N. Acorda is ORDERED suspended
from the practice of law for three (3) years from and after notice of this Decision. We also WARN
him that the commission of the same or similar act or acts shall be dealt with more severely.
ALFREDO C. OLVIDA, complainant v. ATTY. ARNEL C. GONZALES, respondent.

A.C. No. 5732 June 16, 2015

Facts:

 The complainant engaged the services of the respondent in the filing and handling of a case for
Termination of Tenancy Relationship (case) against tenant Alfonso Lumanta who was no longer
religiously paying the rentals for a 54,000sq.m. coconut farm in Tibungco, Davao City, owned by
his wife and under his administration. Lumanta had left the leased property unattended and in
a sorry state.
 On December 5, 2000, the complainant paid the respondent his acceptance fee of 15,000.00
and 700.00 as advance appearance fee. The respondent asked the complainant to provide him
with copies of all pertinent documents and affidavits of his witnesses.
 At the hearing, the DARAB exerted efforts to resolve the case amicably, but the parties failed to
come to an agreement, prompting the Board to require the parties to submit their position
papers within 40 days from the date of the hearing.
 On March 22, 2001, the complainant provided the respondent all pieces of documentary
evidence, including his own affidavit, for the preparation of the position paper.
 Thereafter, the complainant repeatedly called the respondent’s office for information about the
position paper. He did this until the last day of its submission, but failed to contact the
respondent. Thus, he was compelled to go to the respondent’s office; but again, he failed to see
the respondent.
 The complainant finally contacted the respondent’s secretary, Marivic Romero, about the
position paper. Romero told him that the position paper had already been filed. When he
asked for a copy, Romero replied that there was none as it was the respondent himself who
prepared the position paper on his computer.
 On December 13, 2001, nine months after the expiration of the period for the filing of the
position paper the complainant received a copy of the decision of Regional Agrarian Reform
Adjudicator dismissing the case for lack of merit. When he read the text of the decision, he
discovered that the respondent did not file the position paper in the case. The decision stated
that the respondent failed to submit a position paper despite ample time to do so.

Proceeding(s): This is an administrative case against Atty. Amel C. Gonzales for intentional negligence
due to respondent's failure to submit the complainant's position paper in his case before the
Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) in Davao City. The case was decided EN
BANC.

Complaint(s):

The complaints against the respondent are as follows: (I) failure to submit a position paper
despite ample time to do so which resulted to the dismissal of the case. (II) When the
respondent already had a copy of the decision even before he received his own, and had not
informed him about it.

Comment(s)/ Answer(s):
 More than seven years after he was first required by the Court to do so, the respondent filed his
comment. He prayed for a dismissal of the complaint, contending that the complainant’s
accusations were merely products of his fertile imagination and scheming mind. He explained
that the complainant pressed charges against him not because he failed to file a position paper
— under DARAB rules, the filing of a position paper can be dispensed with — but because he
lost the case.
 The respondent pointed out that the complainant lost the case because there was a difference
of opinion between them; the complainant wanted to impose upon him his own view and
opinion and would dictate to him what he wanted to be done in the course of the proceedings,
while refusing all his advice on how to pursue the case. The complainant in fact failed to submit
to him all the pieces of documentary evidence he needed.

Investigating Body: This case was investigated by the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline.

Ruling or Ratio Decidendi:

The respondent, Atty. Arnel C. Gonzales, is liable as charged. He grossly violated Canon 17, and
failed to comply with his duty under Rule 18.04, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

At so late a period for the filing of the position paper and without even asking for
extension to file the pleading, the respondent remained unavailable until the complainant’s
receipt of a copy of the DARAB decision dismissing the case for lack of merit due to the
respondent’s failure to file a position paper.

The respondent is no less responsible than the two erring lawyers in the above-cited cases
for his failure to file the position paper in the DARAB case, which caused complainant and his
family so much grief, considering, as complainant lamented, that they suffered emotional shock,
heartaches, and sleepless nights because of the expenses they had incurred that aggravated their
longstanding problems with their tenant.

Further, the respondent kept to himself his receipt of a copy of the DARAB’s adverse
decision which he received even before the complainant received his own. This failure to
communicate was downright dishonest and unethical and cannot but aggravates the respondent’s
inexcusable neglect in not filing a position paper in the case. It also showed the respondent’s
gross lack of professionalism in dealing with his client; worse than this, his office, through his
secretary, had even made the complainant believe that the position paper had already been filed.

The respondent tried to evade liability by shifting the blame on the complainant for the
non-filing of the position paper. He claimed that the complainant refused to provide him with the
documentary evidence he needed and to follow his advice on how the case should proceed.

 Rules Violated:

Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:


A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE
TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.

Rule 18.04, Canon 18

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

 Case Law or Doctrine Mentioned:

As the Court said in Biomi Sarenas Ochagabia v. Atty. Balmes L. Ocampos:80 “A lawyer engaged
to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latter’s interest with
utmost diligence. By failing to file appellant’s brief, respondent was remiss in the discharge of
such responsibility. He thus violated the Code of Professional Responsibility.”

Also, in In Re: Atty. David Briones,81 we held that the failure of the counsel to submit the
required brief within the reglementary period is an offense that entails disciplinary action.
x x x His failure to file an appellant’s brief x x x has caused the appeal to remain inactive for
more than a year, to the prejudice of his client, the accused himself, who continues to languish
in jail pending the resolution of his case.82

 Penalty Imposed: Respondent Atty. Amel C. Gonzales is SUSPENDED from the· practice of law
for three (3) years.

Dispositive Portion:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent Atty. Amel C. Gonzales is SUSPENDED from the·
practice of law for three (3) years, effective upon finality of this decision, with a warning that a
repetition of the same offense shall be dealt with more severely.

80
466 Phil. 1, 6 (2004), citing Ford v. Datol, A. C. No. 3736, November 16, 1995, 250 SCRA 7, 12.
81
A.C. No. 5486, 415 Phil. 203, (2001).
82
Id. at 208.