G.R. No. L-36138 January 31, 1974 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ANTONIO ROSQUETA, JR.


FERNANDO, J.:1äwphï1.ñët Every now and then, although there seems to be more of such cases of late, a member of the bar is proceeded against for failure to live up to the responsibility owed to a client as well as to this Court. This is another such instance. In our resolution of May 25, 1973, we required respondent Gregorio B. Estacio, counsel de parte for appellants to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for failure to file the brief for appellants within the period which expired on March 30, 1973. He failed to show cause as thus required, and on September 7, 1973, we issued a resolution suspending him from the practice of law except for the purpose of filing the brief which should be done within thirty days from receipt of notice. Then on October 22, 1973, he filed a motion for reconsideration wherein it appeared that he did seek to explain his failure to file the brief on time, but he left it to be mailed on June 9, 1973 with Antonio Rosqueta, Sr., father of appellants Antonio Rosqueta, Jr. and Eusebio Rosqueta, who, however, was unable to do so as on the 10th of June, his house caught fire. He would impress on this Court that he was not informed of such occurrence until the preparation of his motion for reconsideration. At any rate, he would stress that both Antonio Rosqueta, Sr. and Salvador Labariento, father-inlaw of the third appellant, Citong Bringas, informed him they would withdraw the appeal as they could not raise the money needed for pursuing it. He had a supplement to such motion for reconsideration filed on October 25, 1973 wherein he stated that he could not secure the affidavits of appellants themselves as two of them were in the Penal Colony in Davao and the third in the Iwahig Penal Colony in Palawan. On November 5, 1973, this Court required appellants to comment on a motion for reconsideration of respondent concerning specifically their alleged desire to withdraw appeal. Then on December 27, 1973, there was a motion of respondent submitting two affidavits, one from Antonio Rosqueta, Jr. and the aforesaid Citong Bringas and the other from Eusebio Rosqueta wherein they indicated their consent and approval to respondent's motion to withdraw appeal. The joint affidavit of the first two appellants reads as follows: "1. That we are the same persons named above who have been charged in Criminal Case No. L36138 entitled People v. Antonio Rosqueta, Jr., et al.pending on appeal before the Supreme Court of the Philippines; 2. That we hereby consent and approve the motion to withdraw the appeal filed by our counsel, Atty. Gregorio B. Estacio before the Supreme Court of the Philippines on that Criminal Case No. L-36138 their pending in said Court; 3. That we have given our consent and approval of our own will voluntarily, without duress, force, threat or fraud or deceit; [In witness whereof], we have hereunto set our signatures this 4th day of December 1973 in the Municipality of Panabo, Davao." 1 The affidavit of Eusebio Rosqueta follows: "1. That I am one of the accused in that case entitled People v. Antonio Rosqueta, Jr., et al. under G.R. No. L-36138 now pending before the Supreme Court of the Philippines; 2. That I hereby give my consent and approval to the Motion to Withdraw the Appeal which has been filed by our counsel Atty. Gregorio B. Estacio before the Supreme Court on the abovestated case; 3. That I have reached this conclusion after I have conferred with our counsel Atty. Gregorio B. Estacio and this statement hereby revokes and nullifies the statement signed by me on December 5, 1973 at the Central Sub-Colony, Iwahig Penal Colony, Palawan before witnesses, namely, Mr. Abencio B. Gabayan and Miss Merle J. Jopida; 4. That I have executed this affidavit of my own free will, without intimidation, threat, fraud, deceit, duress or force; [In witness whereof], I have hereunto set my hand this 13th day of December, 1973 in the City of Puerto Princesa." 2 Respondent's liability is thus mitigated but he cannot be absolved from the irresponsible conduct of which he is guilty. Respondent should be aware that even in those cases where counsel de parte is unable to secure from appellants or from their near relatives the amount necessary to pursue the appeal, that does not necessarily conclude his connection with the case. It has been a commendable practice of some members of the bar under such circumstances, to be designated as counsel de oficio. That way the interest of justice is best served. Appellants will then continue to receive the benefits of advocacy from one who is familiar with the facts of the case. What is more, there is no undue delay in the administration of justice. Lawyers of such category are entitled to commendation.<äre||anº•1àw> They manifest fidelity to the concept that law is a profession and not a mere trade with those engaged in it being motivated solely by the desire to make money. Respondent's conduct yields a different impression. What has earned a reproof however is his irresponsibility. He should be aware that in the pursuance of the duty owed this Court as well as to a client, he cannot be too casual and unconcerned about the filing of pleadings. It is not enough that he prepares them; he must see to it that they are duly mailed. Such inattention as shown in this case is inexcusable. At any rate, the suspension meted on him under the circumstances is more than justified. It seems, however, that well-nigh five months had elapsed. That would suffice to atone for his misdeed. WHEREFORE, the suspension of Atty. Gregorio B. Estacio is lifted. The requirement to file the brief is dispensed with but Atty. Gregorio B. Estacio is censured for negligence and inattention to duty. Likewise, as prayed for by appellants themselves, their appeal is dismissed.

It is understandable then why a high degree of fidelity to duty is required of one so designated. Silay City. J. June 8. was due "its principal effect [being] to delay this case. his designation in the former category being precisely to protect him in his new position without prejudicing the accused. November 27. It could be that for some lawyers. The defense obtained postponements on May 17. petitioner. but he also appointed him counselde oficio for the two defendants. 1962. Then. petitioner filed an urgent motion to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. Adelino H. It cannot be plausibly asserted that such failure to allow withdrawal of de oficio counsel could ordinarily be characterized as a grave abuse of discretion correctible by certiorari. No. What is easily discernible was the obvious reluctance of petitioner to comply with the responsibilities incumbent on the counsel de oficio. There is. A recent statement of the doctrine is found in People v. which could prevent him from handling adequately the defense. RAFAEL C. According to the undisputed facts. Respondent Judge. A motion for reconsideration having proved futile. and September 7. he was not in a position to devote full time to the defense of the two accused. in order not to prejudice the civil service status of counsel for the accused. What is readily apparent therefore. 1964. too. after which the government would rest. 1964 July 26. especially the neophytes in the profession. even on the assumption that he continues in his position. Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. 1964 which reads thus: "In view of the objection of the prosecution to the motion for postponement of October 15.R. 1964. it may come as a surprise that counsel of repute and of eminence welcome such an opportunity. Nevertheless. is that petitioner was less than duly mindful of his obligation as counsel de oficio. he is hereby designated counsel de oficio for the accused. JJ. 1964: "Upon petition of Atty. Climaco in his own behalf. the overriding concern for the right to counsel of the accused that must be taken seriously into consideration. FERNANDO. Province of Negros Occidental. HON.:p What is assailed in this certiorari proceeding is an order of respondent Judge denying a motion filed by petitioner to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. Then and there. 1963. The defense is reminded that at its instance. who expects to remain in good standing. February 11. 1. This is not one of them. June 14. petitioner. the motion for postponement is denied. he instituted this certiorari proceeding. the petition must fail. this case has been postponed at least eight (8) times. 1964. Hon. in the challenged order of November 6. Ledesma in his own behalf. 1964 at 8:30 in the morning. Adelino H. It makes even more manifest that law is indeed a profession dedicated to the ideal of service and not a mere trade. denied said motion. 1964 that the trial would be resumed today. premised on the policy of the Commission on Elections to require full time service as well as on the volume or pressure of work of petitioner. October 28. Daban: 7 "There is need anew in this disciplinary proceeding to lay stress on the fundamental postulate that . he filed a motion to withdraw as such. on November 3.Zaldivar (Chairman). and that the government witnesses have to come all the way from Manapala. it should tilt the balance. 1963. being appointed counsel de oficio is an irksome chore. In appropriate cases. 1963. 1963. and Aquino. It began with a reminder that a crime was allegedly committed on February 17. Rafael C. Ledesma. since the prosecution has already rested its case. concur. 1964. Antonio. The denial by respondent Judge of such a plea. on October 13. He ought to have known that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. CLIMACO. The assailed order of November 6. 1964.. For those holding such belief. 3 As noted at the outset. should fulfill. When counsel for the accused assumed office as Election Registrar on October 13. the continuation of the trial of this case is hereby transferred to March 9. 1964. L-23815 June 28. Barredo. 1963. Then respondent Judge spoke of his order of October 16. 1964 denying the urgent motion of petitioner to withdraw as counsel de oficio speaks for itself. his volume of work is likely to be very much less at present. Not only did respondent Judge deny such motion. respondent. vs. it was noted in such order that there was no incompatibility between the duty of petitioner to the accused and to the court and the performance of his task as an election registrar of the Commission on Elections and that the ends of justice "would be served by allowing and requiring Mr. June 13. he commenced to discharge its duties. 1 One of the grounds for such a motion was his allegation that with his appointment as Election Registrar by the Commission on Elections. Ledesma to continue as counsel de oficio." 5 After which. he knew since October 2." 6 2. with the proceedings having started in the municipal court of Cadiz on July 11." 4 Reference was then made to another order of February 11. Subsequently. 1962. 1974 ADELINO H. however. alleging indisposition. LEDESMA. G. notwithstanding the conformity of the defendants. There is not now the slightest pretext for him to shirk an obligation a member of the bar. 1964. 1964." 2 It was likewise noted that the prosecution had already rested and that petitioner was previously counsel de parte. Branch I. March 9. As he was counsel de parte for one of the accused in a case pending in the sala of respondent Judge. Fernandez. The petition is clearly without merit. was appointed Election Registrar for the Municipality of Cadiz. 1964 (alleging that counsel for the accused cannot continue appearing in this case without the express authority of the Commission on Elections). and since according to the prosecution there are two witnesses who are ready to take the stand.

to put matters mildly. considering what has been set forth above. The right to be heard would be of little avail if it does not include the right to be heard by counsel. J. He is to render effective assistance. ESTANISLAO R. particularly in the rules of procedure. And this can happen more easily to persons who are ignorant or uneducated. Those enrolled in its ranks are called upon to aid in the performance of one of the basic purposes of the State. in addition to reiterating that the accused "shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel. when duty to court and to client takes precedence over the promptings of self-interest. intimidation. Holgado in these words: "In criminal cases there can be no fair hearing unless the accused be given an opportunity to be heard by counsel. as in the case of the latter. OZAETA. and this is one of them. it is not enough to ask him whether he desires the aid of an attorney. to ignore that other pressing matters do compete for his attention. Assuming his good faith.. of course.: . threat. That circumstance possesses a high degree of relevance since a lawyer has to live. complainant. violence. Nonetheless. and to be informed of such right. No. indeed a lawyer who is a vanguard in the bastion of justice is expected to have a bigger dose of social conscience and a little less of self-interest. the welfare of the accused could be prejudiced.membership in the bar carries with it a responsibility to live up to its exacting standard. Its importance was rightfully stressed by Chief Justice Moran in People v. But we do say that as such counsel de oficio. If respondent Judge were required to answer the petition. he has his practice to attend to. the opinion penned by Justice Carson making clear: "This Court should exact from its officers and subordinates the most scrupulous performance of their official duties. Such a consideration could have sufficed for petitioner not being allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. an exorbitant demand on his time. that petitioner would exert himself sufficiently to perform his task as defense counsel with competence. J. His right to counsel could in effect be rendered nugatory. After all. 1944 THE DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS. concur." 16 Thus is made manifest the indispensable role of a member of the Bar in the defense of an accused. To avoid any frustration thereof. Even the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the science of law.. vs. It may likewise be assumed. not a trade or a craft. if not with zeal. but it is essential that the court should assign one de oficio for him if he so desires and he is poor or grant him a reasonable time to procure an attorney of his own. 14 The present Constitution is even more emphatic. A. BAYOT. Fernandez and Aquino. it was only due to the apprehension that considering the frame of mind of a counsel loath and reluctant to fulfill his obligation. JJ. Antonio. For. There is not likely at present.." 8 So it has been from the 1905 decision of In re Robles Lahesa. Any confession obtained in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in evidence.. This is not. WHEREFORE. he may be convicted not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to establish his innocence. the petition for certiorari is dismissed." 12 The weakness of the petition is thus quite evident. 9 where respondent was de oficio counsel. Because. and. he has as high a duty to the accused as one employed and paid by defendant himself. L-1117 March 20. certainly he cannot afford either to neglect his paying cases. Costs against petitioner. It is for this reason that the right to be assisted by counsel is deemed so important that it has become a constitutional right and it is so implemented that under rules of procedure it is not enough for the Court to apprise an accused of his right to have an attorney. Francisco Claravall for respondent. The law is a profession. He did point though to his responsibility as an election registrar. For he did betray by his moves his lack of enthusiasm for the task entrusted to him." 15 there is this new provision: "Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to remain silent and to counsel." 13 So it was under the previous Organic Acts. Rather the contrary. a lawyer may be required to act as counsel de oficio. or any other means which vitiates the free will shall be used against him. Zaldivar (Chairman). without counsel. no such excuse could be availed now. and in the immediate future. The fact that his services are rendered without remuneration should not occasion a diminution in his zeal. The admonition is ever timely for those enrolled in the ranks of legal practitioners that there are times. 3. Estebia11 reiterated such a view in these words: "It is true that he is a court-appointed counsel. respondent. especially in the case of an indigent defendant. especially when negligence in the performance of those duties necessarily results in delays in the prosecution of criminal cases . No force.C." 10 Justice Sanchez in People v. For. The accused-defendant expects of him due diligence. what is incumbent upon him as counsel de oficio must be fulfilled. Barredo. the administration of justice. he must exercise his best efforts and professional ability in behalf of the person assigned to his care. Office of the Solicitor General De la Costa and Solicitor Feria for complainant.. not mere perfunctory representation. if only to erase doubts as to his fitness to remain a member of the profession in good standing. took no part.

J. plaintiffs-appellants.. for appellants. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain. . Crisanto. J. No appearance for appellees. 1908.) In In re Tagorda. Legal assistance service 12 Escolta. C. for the purpose of recovering the sum of P1. and marriage arranged to wishes of parties. it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Horrilleno. but subsequently. vs. either personally or thru paid agents or brokers. Consultation on any matter free for the poor.itc@alf The complaint was accompanied by Exhibit A. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public. C. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and conduct. Galo and Timotea Lichauso. was more serious than this because there the solicitations were repeatedly made and were more elaborate and insistent. .: On the 16th of July. concur. Law is a profession and not a trade. Zacarias. 105 Tel. constitutes malpractice. WEINMANN. JOHNSON. is charged with malpractice for having published an advertisement in the Sunday Tribune of June 13. even for a young lawyer. reprimanded. JJ. Clara. respondent at first denied having published the said advertisement. with interest at 12 per cent from the said 16th of July. who is an attorney-at-law. the respondent attorney was suspended from the practice of law for the period of one month for advertising his services and soliciting work from the public by writing circular letters. is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. Everything confidential. and D. "The most worth and effective advertisement possible. . B.657. 53 Phil. Manila. Code of Ethics. the plaintiffs commenced an action against the defendants. Luisa. 1908) the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint against the defendants. On the same day (the 23d of November. 1908. Appearing in his own behalf.R. 1911 FAUSTINO LICHAUCO. as he hereby is. Room. in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga. Ramon Salinas.. the Court is of the opinion and so decided that the respondent should be.The respondent.net . defendant-appellees. That case." In further mitigation he alleged that the said advertisement was published only once in the Tribune and that he never had any case at law by reason thereof. ANA ALEJANDRINO and her husband W. promising "not to repeat such professional misconduct in the future and to abide himself to the strict ethical rules of the law profession.75. It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics of his profession. sustained by the Hon. No. To this complaint the defendants demurred. L-6513 December 15. As a member of the bar. in his own name and in behalf of his coheirs. 1908. he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah." (Canon 27. which demurrer was. Moran. Upon that plea the case was submitted to the Court for decision. he admitted having caused its publication and prayed for "the indulgence and mercy" of the Court. Julio Llorente. 1943. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G. however." It is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares.. 2-41-60.1awphil. on the 23d of November. Yulo. which reads as follows: Marriage license promptly secured thru our assistance & the annoyance of delay or publicity avoided if desired. thru his attorney. Eugenia. Considering his plea for leniency and his promise not to repeat the misconduct. Paras and Bocobo. judge.

22. they obligated themselves to pay their proportional amount of the indebtedness of their father. 1908).465. that she was liable for the payment of one-sixth part of said amount by virtue of her having accepted her proportional part of the property involved and covered by the original contract between her father and the mother of the plaintiffs.. no other or different evidence would have been adduced. (See Exhibit A. She was. the said Mariano Alejandrino borrowed from the said Cornelia Laochangco the sum of P6. No. once being informed of the views of this court upon the facts presented. and Cornelia Laochangco as the mother of the plaintiffs. amounted to P610. 1895) the said Mariano Alejandrino borrowed from Cornelia Laochangco the additional sum of P234. or the sum of P1. was not a party to the contract represented by Exhibit D. bearing date of July 30.946. the sum of P4. together with 12 per cent interest.115. represents as he alleges "the plaintiff. Ana Alejandrino. rendered a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants for the sum of P610. however.350 pesos Mex. 1906. which. 1 The present case seems to have been tried in the lower court upon the theory that all of the interested parties were present.) Fifth. There is a question of parties. . 1908. the Hon. On the same day (August 15.Later the defendants presented a demurrer which was overruled. who signs the complaint. Therefore they are not in court at all. So far as the record shows. and it was found on the date that there was still due under the said contract the sum of P4. reduced to conant. on the 10th of February. From the judgment of the lower court the plaintiffs appealed. There is nothing in the record which shows that they ever gave their consent to the commencement of the present action. 1895. and his appearance must be either personal or by the aid of a duly authorized member of the bar. The plaintiffs claim that the amount due on the contract of July 30. 1886.. Faustino Lichauco represents himself and his co-heirs. the co-heirs have no knowledge of the pendency of the action. That on the 15th of August. making a total amount due of 4. the plaintiffs were entitled to sell at public auction one-sixth part of the land mortgaged under and by virtue of a contract between Mariano Alejandrino and Cornelia Laochangco. The lower court correctly held. Mariano Alejandrino and Cornelia Laochangco are both dead. 1898. That on the 23d of April. (Exhibit B. with interest at 6 per cent from the 16th of July. There is no proof in the record that any demand was ever made upon her for the payment of her aliquot part of the balance found to be due on the 23rd of April. the said Mariano Alejandrino and Cornelia Laochangco liquidated the amount due under the said contract. We have discussed the question upon their merits as they are presented in the record. 1886.) Third. but this not sufficient. believing that the parties would deem further litigation unnecessary. Mariano Alejandrino.16 pesos Mex. or for the sum of 744. Faustino Lichauco shows no authority for representing his co-heirs except the mere allegation in the title of his complaint. (Espiritu vs. (See Exhibit D. It may be assumed that they did. in which they prayed to be relieved from all liability under the complaint. however. 5313). 1901. That on the 15th of December. is based upon the ground that even though the co-heirs had been represented in the trial of the cause. except the defendant herein. The attorney signs himself as attorney for the plaintiff — not for the plaintiffs. of the debt between her father and the plaintiffs herein.50. Ana Alejandrino). 1886. and for that reason we have discussed the case upon its merits. and any judgment which we might render in the present case. 1908. 190. This assumption. Ana Alejandrino. He speaks of himself as the plaintiff. the following facts seem to be true: First. together with the interest amounted to the sum of P9. with reference to the heirs.) Second. either judicially or extrajudicially. at the time of the commencement of the present action (the 15th of July. 1909." There is nothing in the record which shows that the co-heirs are not capable of representing themselves. Crossfield and Vicente Guasch. we believe that we have answered each of them in effect. judge.000 Mex. 1886. The defendant. (Sec.75. all of the children of the said Mariano Alejandrino. the defendants presented a general and special answer. which has not been presented. (See Exhibit C. Act No.657. therefore.) Mariano Alejandrino was the father of the defendant. Exhibit A. with costs against the plaintiffs. 1898. by the terms of which they obligated themselves to pay to the plaintiffs the balance due from their father.25. which we can not overlook. was again liquidated and it was found that there was remaining due and unpaid on the said contract. dated the 30th of July. While we have not discussed the assignments of error in detail. the amount due on the said contract of July 30. From an examination of the record. That on the 30th of July. under certain conditions mentioned in the said contract. It will be noted that Faustino Lichauco has brought this action for himself and in representation of his co-heirs. 1898. 34. Julio Llorente. and the attorney-at-law. Ana Alejandrino. in accordance with law. (See Exhibit A. After hearing the evidence adduced during the trial of the cause. however.) In the present case the co-heirs are neither in court personally nor by the a duly authorized member of the bar. The Code of Procedure in Civil Actions provides that in Courts of First Instance a party may conduct his litigation personally or by the aid of a lawyer.75. and that the defendant herein. On the 2d of July. she did not agree to pay 12 per cent interest on the amount remaining due on the 23rd of April. either pro or con. 1886.) Under the provisions of Exhibit D (the contract which was entered into by all of the heirs of Mariano Alejandrino. would in no way be binding upon them. was liable for one-sixth part of said sum. the amount for which the lower court rendered judgment. with the provision that if the defendants failed to pay the said amount.22 Philippine currency. except the defendant herein. Ana Alejandrino. with 6 per cent from the 16th of July. not liable to pay interest or her aliquot part of the said amount. entered into a contract.

Mapa. and in writing indicate their full conformance with the proceedings had in the present cause. unless the coheirs of Faustino Lichauco. the Court of First Instance of the Province of Pampanga is hereby directed to enter a judgment confirming the judgment heretofore rendered by said court on the 10th day of February. Rep. JJ.. within a period of ten days from notification of this decision. following the decision of this court in the case of Lichauco vs. Limjuco (19 Phil. concur.Therefore. Carson and Moreland. 12). . either as plaintiffs or defendants. shall appear personally or by attorney in the Court of First Instance of the Province or Pampanga. In which case.. 1910. the judgment of the lower court is hereby set aside.