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Ramos v.

Imbang
A.C No. 6788 | 23 August 2007 | Per Curiam
Aggy

Doctrine:
Lawyers in government service cannot handle private cases for they are expected to devote themselves full-
time to the work of their respective offices.

Facts:

Ramos Version (PETITIONER)


- Ramos sought the assistance of Atty. Imbang because she wanted to sue spouses Jovellanos. She
paid Imbang’s attorney’s fees in the amount of P8,500 but Imbang issued a receipt for only P5,000.
She claims Imbang never let her inside the courtroom during hearings and that he would only inform
her after that the hearing had been cancelled and rescheduled. This happened 6 times and she paid
Imbang P350.00 each time as appearance fee. She grew suspicious so she went to RTC to check
the status of her case. She found out that Imbang never filed a case and that he was in fact an PAO
lawyer (Public Attorney’s Office). Ramos, then, filed this complaint seeking the disbarment of Imbang.

Atty. Imbang Version (aka what a bullpoo)


- He claims that Ramos knew that he was a PAO lawyer. He refused to assist Ramos in her pursuit
against the Jovellanos precisely because he knew he wasn’t allowed to since he works for the
government. He referred Ramos to another lawyer which never pushed through because Ramos
couldn’t pay the lawyer’s attorney’s fee as she only had P5,000. Imbang says that Ramos asked her
to keep the P5,000 as she was afraid she’d spend it. A year later, Ramos asked him to issue a receipt
for P5,000 because Ramos’ daughter asked her to account the money. He agreed because Ramos
was a friend. In 1994, Imbang resigned from PAO and Ramos once again asked his assistance
regarding the suit against the Jovellanos. He agreed since by that time he was already a private
practitioner. However, he claims the case was never finalized since he lost contact with Ramos.

Commission on Bar Discipline (CDB) found Imbang guilty and recommended his suspension and the
return of the P5,000. IBP affirmed the recommendation but held that interest should also be given aside
from the P5000.

Issue/s:
1. W/N respondent is guilty for violating the lawyer’s oath and should be disbarred? - YES

Holding:
Imbang violated the lawyer’s oath. His claim that he only issued the receipt to accommodate his friend is
untenable. The receipt of the P5,000 confirmed that there was indeed an attorney-client relation between
the two of them. The date of the receipt indicated that he accepted the case while he was still a PAO
lawyer (meaning he was prohibited from practicing in private).

He is found guilty because for violating Section 7(b)(2) of the Code of Ethical Standards for Public
Officials, Canon 1 Rule 1.01, Canon 18 Rule 18.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
- Practicing in private when he was prohibited to do so since he’s a government lawyer
- Accepting the attorney’s fee of P5,000 when PAO’s main mission is to provide free legal assistance
to indigent litigants
- Deceiving Ramos into thinking that he actually filed the case.
Ruling:
Imbang is found guilty of violating lawyer’s oath. He is disbarred and his name is ordered stricken
from the Roll of Attorneys. He is also ordered to return the 5,000.00 with legal interest.

Relevant Provisions:

CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE
LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW OF AND LEGAL PROCESSES.


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

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

Rules 18.01 - A lawyer shall not undertake a legal service which he knows or should know
that he is not qualified to render. However, he may render such service if, with the consent
of his client, he can obtain as collaborating counsel a lawyer who is competent on the
matter.

Section 7(b)(2) of the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees:
Section 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. -- In addition to acts and omissions of public officials
and employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the following constitute
prohibited acts and transactions of any public official and employee and are hereby declared
unlawful:
xxx xxx xxx
(b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto, public officials and employees during
their incumbency shall not:
xxx xxx xxx
(1) Engage in the private practice of profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law,
provided that such practice will not conflict with their official function