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TITLE: ENRIQUEZ VS. LAVADIA, JR. A.C. No.

5686
COMPLAINANT: RESPONDENT: Date: 16 JUNE, 2015
TEODULFO F. ENRIQUEZ ATTY. EDILBERTO B.
Ponente: PER CURIAM
LAVADIA JR.
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
DOCTRINE: 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.
FACTS:
This is a disbarment case filed by Enriquez against Atty. Lavadia for gross negligence and
inefficiency in the performance of his duties.

On 1997, Mr. Ouano filed a complaint for forcible entry against Enriquez before the MTC of
Talibon, Bohol. Enriquez was represented by Lavadia. On March 2000, Lavadia agreed to submit
their position papers within 30 days from receipt of the pre-trial order. Lavadia failed to do this
and as a result, was declared in default. The plaintiffs won. Atty. Lavadia filed a notice of appeal.
The RTC dismissed the appeal because Lavadia failed to file a memorandum as required by Rule
40 Sec. 7(b). He moved for reconsideration but it was also denied by the RTC pointing out that it
had already granted four motions for extension (71 days total) and still no memorandum was
filed.

On January 2002, the disbarment complaint was received by the OBC. Atty. Lavadia made and ex
parte motion stating that he cannot file a comment because he did not receive a copy of the
complaint so the court directed that he be furnished a copy. After receiving a copy, Atty. Lavadia
filed TWO motions for extension on 2002 and 2003 respectively. The reason for the first motion
is because of heavy workload and family problems. The court granted it and gives him a 60 days
extension to file a comment. After this, Lavadia filed the second motion because of his wife’s
illness to which the court grants a 30 days extension stating that it will be the last extension.
However, no comment was filed and the court required Atty. Lavadia to show cause why he
should not be held in comtempt. He failed to comply, thus, the court imposed a 1,000 pesos fine.
He paid the fine but in june 2005, he asked again for an additional time to file his comment
because they moved to Cebu because of his wife’s illness caused by “dark beings” and a series of
unfortunate events like the burning of his house and the crashing of the hard drive of his
computer and family members being sick because of such dark being. The court gives him
another 30 days extension. He failed again and the court imposed a 2,000 pesos fine and ordered
him to file his comment. It was not filed.

In August 2010, the court referred the case to the IBP for investigation and recommendation.
Both parties failed to attend the conference held by the IBP-CBD. The IBP Governors adopted the
recommendation of the CBD to disbar Atty. Lavadia.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the act of Atty. Lavadia in requesting multiple time extensions to file his
comments but failing to file them constitutes a violation of the Code of Professional
responsibility which would warrant his disbarment.
HELD:
The court ruled in the affirmative. The court explained that lawyers have four duties in general,
to wit: his duty to the courts, the public, the bar and to his clients.

In this case, the court noted that Atty. Lavadia violated his duty to to the court and his client. His
act of filing motions for extension to file pleadings but failing to do so violates Rule 12.03 of the
CPR which provides that,
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.
Atty. Lavadia violates this rule not only in the Forcible entry case but also in the administrative
proceedings for disbarment against him.
Rule 18.03 provides that A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his
negligence in connection there with shall render him liable.

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.

The court also related Canon 12.03 to Canon 11 which requires a lawyer to observe and maintain
the respect due to the courts and judicial officers. These act does not merely affects clients but
also the judicial process. 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."

This case was filed in 2002 in the OBC. The court issued no less than 8 resolutions ordering Atty.
Lavadia to comment, two of which the court ordered him to pay fines. In total, the court granted
155 days of extension. After a lapse of 8 years, the SC referred the case to the IBP where Atty.
Lavadia filed a motion for extension again but failed to file his comments.

The determination to disbar a lawyer or merely suspend him depends on sound judicial
discretion. While the case is only the first infraction of Atty. Lavadia, the SC ruled to disbar him
given his propensity for filing motions for extension of time to file pleadings but failing to file the
same.