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1526 January 31, 2005
NAZARIA S. HERNANDEZ (DECEASED), SUBSTITUTED BY LUCIANO S. HERNANDEZ, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE C. GO, respondent. DECISION PER CURIAM: For our resolution is the verified letter-complaint1 for disbarment against Atty. Jose C. Go dated June 23, 1975 filed by Nazaria S. Hernandez (now deceased). Both parties are from Zamboanga City. The allegations in the letter-complaint are: Sometime in 1961, complainant’s husband abandoned her and her son, Luciano S. Hernandez, Jr. Shortly thereafter, her husband’s numerous creditors demanded payments of his loans. Fearful that the various mortgage contracts involving her properties will be foreclosed and aware of impending suits for sums of money against her, complainant engaged the legal services of Atty. Jose C. Go, herein respondent. Respondent instilled in complainant a feeling of helplessness, fear, embarrassment, and social humiliation. He advised her to give him her land titles covering Lots 848-A, 849Q, and 849-P at Zamboanga City so he could sell them to enable her to pay her creditors. He then persuaded her to execute deeds of sale in his favor without any monetary or valuable consideration. Complainant agreed on condition that he would sell the lots and from the proceeds pay her creditors. Complainant also owned Lots 2118, 2139, and 1141-A, likewise located in Zamboanga City, which were mortgaged to her creditors. When the mortgages fell due, respondent redeemed the lots. Again, he convinced her to execute deeds of sale involving those lots in his favor. As a result, respondent became the registered owner of all the lots belonging to complainant. Sometime in 1974, complainant came to know that respondent did not sell her lots as agreed upon. Instead, he paid her creditors with his own funds and had her land titles registered in his name, depriving her of her real properties worth millions.1a\^/phi1.net
2 In our Resolution dated September 24, 1975, respondent was required to file his comment on the complaint. Instead of filing his comment, respondent submitted a motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint is premature since there is pending before the then Court of First Instance of Zamboanga City Civil Case No. 17812 for recovery of ownership and declaration of nullity of deeds of sale filed by complainant against him involving the subject lots. On November 14, 1975, we issued a Resolution denying respondent’s motion and requiring him to submit his answer. In his answer dated December 19, 1975, respondent denied the allegations in the instant complaint. He averred that he sold, in good faith, complainant’s lots to various buyers, including himself, for valuable consideration. On several occasions, he extended financial assistance to complainant and even invited her to live with his family. His children used to call her "Lola" due to her frequent visits to his residence. He prayed that the complaint be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action. On January 17, 1977, we referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for investigation, report, and recommendation. It was only on March 13, 1990 or after 13 years, 1 month and 26 days that the OSG filed a motion to refer the instant case to the IBP for the retaking of the testimonies of complainant’s witnesses and the submission of its report and recommendation. On April 4, 1990, we issued a Resolution referring the case to the IBP for investigation, report, and recommendation. The Report and Recommendation dated June 15, 2004 of Atty. Lydia A. Navarro, Commissioner of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, is quoted as follows: "A careful examination and evaluation of the evidence submitted by the parties showed that all the properties of the complainant are presently owned by the respondent by virtue of several deeds of sale executed by the complainant in favor of the respondent without monetary consideration except Lot 849-D situated in Tomas Claudio which was returned by the respondent to the complainant on September 5, 1974. It is evident from the records that respondent was the one who notarized the documents involving the said properties redeemed or repurchased by the complainant from her creditors which ended up in respondent’s name like in the deed of sale executed by Victoriano Dejerano in favor of Nazaria Hernandez over Lots 1141-A-3-A and 1141-A-3B; deed of sale executed by Antonio Masrahon on September 3, 1961regarding Lot No. 1141-A; deed of absolute sale executed by Francisco Esperat over the Curuan properties on November 9, 1971 and the cancellation of the mortgage executed by Alfonso Enriquez on July 18, 1964 over the Tomas Claudio properties.
It is incumbent upon the respondent to have rendered a detailed report to the complainant on how he paid complainant’s creditors without selling her properties.3 Such conduct on the part of respondent degrades not only himself but also the name and honor of the legal profession. then later on admitted that he was one of the purchasers of complainant’s properties in utter disregard of their agreement and no evidence was submitted by the respondent concerning the value of the said sale of complainant’s properties.net Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. by any standard. the principal source of ethical rules for lawyers in this jurisdiction. XVI-2004-39 adopting and approving the Report of Commissioner Navarro with modification in the sense that the recommended penalty of suspension from the practice of law was increased from six (6) months to three (3) years.1a\^/phi1. a grievous wrong. advised and gave solutions to complainant’s legal problems and liabilities to her creditors and even requested her creditors for extension of time to pay complainant’s accounts constitute practice of law as legal counsel for consultation aside from representing complainant in other cases. a mute proof of a lawyer-client relations between them. Instead of selling to buyers at higher price. a fact also admitted by the respondent. and implies a wrongful intent and not mere error in judgment. we have to modify its recommended penalty. We sustain the Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors finding that respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility. Jose C. provides: "A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession. a forbidden act.l^vvphi1." Respondent breached this Canon. His acts of acquiring for himself complainant’s lots entrusted to him are. a dereliction in duty. in view of the foregoing." On July 30. the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. Go be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months from receipt hereof and the IBP Chapter where he is a registered member be furnished a copy of the same for implementation hereof. As such. willful in character. acts constituting gross misconduct.3 The foregoing legal activities and operations of the respondent in addition to his having discussed. He . the undersigned respectfully recommends that respondent Atty.net However. respondent did not adhere faithfully and honestly in his obligation and duty as complainant’s legal adviser and counsel when he took advantage of the trust and confidence reposed in him by the complainant in ultimately putting complainant’s properties in his name and possession in violation of Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. he paid them out of his own funds. WHEREFORE. 2004. subject to the approval of the Honorable Members of the Board of Governors.
8 Respondent. Respondent.9 . blemished not only his integrity as a member of the Bar. Records show that she did not receive any amount from respondent. We have been exacting in our demand for integrity and good moral character of members of the Bar. Undoubtedly. complainant could have earned more. that when she engaged his services. especially in their dealing with their clients and the public at large. He has definitely fallen below the moral bar when he engaged in deceitful. They are expected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession 5 and refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the public in the fidelity. respondent’s conduct has made him unfit to remain in the legal profession. respondent is duty-bound to render a detailed report to the complainant on how much he sold the latter’s lots and the amounts paid to her creditors. but also the legal profession.4 violated this Court’s mandate that lawyers must at all times conduct themselves. and integrity of the legal profession. believing that the proceeds thereof would be used to pay her creditors. dishonest. It is a time-honored rule that good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the practice of law. she entrusted to him her land titles and allowed him to sell her lots. which made him one of its officers and gave him the privilege of ministering within its Bar. respondent did not adhere faithfully and honestly in his duty as complainant’s counsel. had he sold the lots to other buyers. unlawful and grossly immoral acts. As correctly observed by Investigating IBP Commissioner Lydia Navarro. abused her trust and confidence when he did not sell her properties to others but to himself and spent his own money to pay her obligations. Its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the legal profession.6 Membership in the legal profession is a privilege. A lawyer who performs that duty with diligence and candor not only protects his client’s cause. however. it becomes not only the right but also the duty of this Court.4 Canon 17 of the same Code states: "A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. to withdraw the privilege." The records show that complainant reposed such high degree of trust and confidence in herein respondent.7 And whenever it is made to appear that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of his clients and the public. Clearly. by his conduct. honesty. with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach. Public interest requires that an attorney should exert his best efforts and ability to protect the interests of his clients. Obviously. he also serves the ends of justice and does honor to the bar and helps maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession.
12 we disbarred a member of the Bar for his refusal or failure to account for the P50.5 Section 27. Tinga. In Navarro vs. which constitutes gross misconduct. Carpio. concur. that of expulsion from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers. for violation of Canon 16 and Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Panganiban..00 he received from a client to settle a case.J. In Docena vs. Puno. Callejo. Limson . ChicoNazario and Garcia. Davide. Ynares-Santiago. C. an attorney who extorted money from his client through deceit and misrepresentation. respondent deserves the ultimate penalty. It bears reiterating that a lawyer who takes advantage of his client’s financial plight to acquire the latter’s properties for his own benefit is destructive of the confidence of the public in the fidelity. GO is found guilty of gross misconduct and is DISBARRED from the practice of law.13 we expelled from the brotherhood of lawyers. respondent JOSE S. Rayos . and integrity of the legal profession. Austria-Martinez. WHEREFORE. Azcuna. (5) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.. (2) malpractice.11 we ordered the disbarment of lawyer when he deceived his 85-year old aunt into entrusting him with all her money and later refused to return the same despite demand. SandovalGutierrez. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION . JJ. Jr.10 In Rayos-Ombac vs.. Considering the depravity of respondent’s offense. (7) willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Bar Confidant. SO ORDERED. on official leave.14 an attorney was stripped of his license to practice law for misappropriating his client’s money. honesty. and consistent with the need to maintain the high standards of the Bar and thus preserve the faith of the public in the legal profession. Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court mandates that a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended by this Court for any of the following acts: (1) deceit. (6) violation of the lawyer’s oath. Thus. the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts throughout the country. Meneses III . Ricafort . we find the penalty recommended by the IBP too light. (4) grossly immoral conduct. Sr... (3) gross misconduct in office. His name is ordered STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. Carpio-Morales. and (8) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without authority to do so. J. In Busiños vs. Quisumbing. Corona.000.
the late Maria Ortega Vda. DECISION PANGANIBAN.: Disbarment and suspension of an attorney are the most severe forms of disciplinary action. ms. Nuñez. Eduardo. . Eugenio O. 106 claiming that complainants have no right over the same. ASTORGA. 6131 February 28. extrajudicially partitioned his estate. De Nu[ñ]ez executed a Sale with Right to Repurchase in favor of Eugenio O. 8955 in the name of Ricardo Nu[ñ]ez. 106 covered by OCT No. The material averments of the Complaint are summarized by the IBP-CBD as follows: "Complainants allege that sometime on June 5. on the pretext of administering the properties of the late spouses. among others. Atty.C. 8955) containing an area of 384 sq. Nuñez. for a consideration of P400. 106 was adjudicated to Ricardo Nu[ñ]ez which eventually was the basis for the issuance of TCT No. Nu[ñ]ez Lot No. de Nu[ñ]ez and her son Ricardo Nu[ñ]ez. J. all surnamed Nu[ñ]ez.6 A. the stipulated time of repurchase was ten (10) years from the date of execution thereof or until June 5. No. Eliza Nuñez-Alvarico and Imelda L. the subject [L]ot No. To date. vs. as the surviving heirs of the late Eleuterio Nu[ñ]ez. "By virtue of a power of attorney executed sometime in 1982 by the late spouses Ricardo Nu[ñ]ez and Paterna Nu[ñ]ez appointing respondent as administrator. Nu[ñ]ez [has] occupied and possessed said Lot No. NUÑEZ. 2651 (now TCT No. That said period of vendor’s right to repurchase expired without any agreement of extending said period of repurchase. the late Maria Ortega Vda. 106 for more than 40 years up to the present and it is also where his children. ARTURO B. They should be meted out only for duly proven serious administrative charges. as acknowledged natural child of Ricardo Nu[ñ]ez. Elisa and Imelda. had been disturbing the peaceful occupation and possession of complainants of Lot No. respondent. they should be imposed with great caution. thus. grew and [are] presently residing. Nuñez. de Nu[ñ]ez have not exercised[d] their right of repurchase. NUÑEZ. NUÑEZ. EUGENIO O. Arturo B. ELISA NUÑEZ-ALVARICO and IMELDA L. as well as on the alleged judicial confirmation of respondent’s wife. Eugenio O. Atty. Astorga was charged therein with conduct unbecoming a member of the bar. complainants. A year after the execution of the said pacto de ret[r]o sale. In the said contract. 1968. 1978. 2005 EDUARDO L.1 The Case and the Facts This administrative case stems from a Complaint-Affidavit2 filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) by Eduardo L. respondent. even the heirs of the late Maria Ortega Vda.00.
2001. De Nuñez and Ricardo O. and respondent. Nu[ñ]ez before Municipal Trial Court of Baybay. The hearing was thus reset to June 26. Leyte docketed as Criminal Case No. Laurel and M. B-2001-10-27. After which Elisa Nu[ñ]ez-Alvarico filed a criminal complaint for Estafa against respondent before the Municipal Trial Court of Baybay. 2002. 2002. That the Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase executed by the late Maria Ortega Vda. 106. Atty. Leyte. was present. Astorga finally submitted his Answer. Arnold Logares. complainants agreed to buy Lot No. 2002. Nuñez. an amended complaint of which is filed where one of the issues is the declaration of invalidity of the foregoing questioned deed of sale with right to repurchase because if this document is really valid and existing then why did complainant Eugenio Nuñez [affix] his signature as one of the instrumental witnesses in the Deed of Extra-Judicial Partition among Maria Ortega Vda.L. R4012-A was filed by Eduardo L. Respondent filed a Motion seeking a cancellation of the scheduled hearing and another extension of fifteen (15) days within which to file his answer. complainants appeared with their counsel. Why did he allow the late Ricardo O. sold and conveyed to Imelda Nu[ñ]ez and Elisa Nu[ñ]ez-Alvarico the portions of Lot No. Quezon Sts. He was thus granted a non-extendible period of fifteen (15) days within which to do so. he was granted a period of fifteen (15) days within which to do so.5 On July 18.4 On June 26.7 With our desire to peaceably settle the controversy. et al[‘] for Rescission of Contract[.P.. Nuñez to take control and full possession and ownership of Lot 106 to his exclusion after the partition in 1969? . Baybay.6 He denied that he had utilized his profession to circumvent the law and averred that there were already several pending cases involving the same issues raised by complainants in the present administrative action: "2. R-4013-A. Atty.] [T]he original complaint was filed in October 2001 at the Regional Trial Court. 1968 is more civil in nature and can be best threshed out in the amended complaint of Civil Case No. 106. only respondent’s counsel. Nu[ñ]ez at corner J. De Nuñez on June 5. Leyte and threatened to kill Eduardo Nu[ñ]ez by uttering the words ‘ipaposil ta ka’ which means ‘I’ll have you shot. 2002. who. entitled [‘]The Intestate Estate of the late Spouses Ricardo O. Leyte."3 In a hearing held on June 5. Nuñez on May 19. Branch 14. respondent went to the house of Eduardo L. one of the properties subject of partition. et al versus Spouses Bonito D. 106 they were occupying.net "Sometime on 29 March 2001 at around 7:30 in the evening. Arnold Logares. Baybay. As respondent had not yet filed his answer to the Complaint despite a previous Order dated December 7. Alvarico.’ A complaint for Grave Threats docketed as Case No. while respondent was represented by Atty.1a\^/phi1. 1969 otherwise he would have protested at the time of the execution thereof because he is the temporary owner of Lot No. without being appointed by the court as administrator of the intestate estate of the late spouses Ricardo Nu[ñ]ez and Paterna Nu[ñ]ez.
Atty. more or less. x x x. " d) Undersigned respondent did not utilize his profession to circumvent the law. Linda Teresa Tan-Nuñez who confirmed undersign[ed]’s authority as administrator of the aforenamed estate. Nuñez and Imelda L. the late Atty. the same was filed at the instance of Amado Caballes. the complainants were emboldened to actively [question] [the] estate as they now [refuse] to recognize the ownership and long time possession of the real properties forming part of the aforenamed [estate] to belong to the offspring of the late Ricardo O. Nuñez without the intervention from any government prosecutor but said case is no longer pending in the Municipal Trial Court of Baybay. 9 and 10 of the complaint. Modina and their current counsel. "4. Vivero and approved by Provincial Prosecutor Teresita S. " c) With the discovery of the aforenamed deed of sale with the right to repurchase only recently. Nuñez and Paterna Baltazar that herein respondent is relying as administrator of the said intestate estate but the same had been duly confirmed by the judicially declared daughter of Ricardo O.] a prejudicial question now exist[s] whereby this administrative case should be suspended until the resolution of that petition for review by the Department of Justice.] including [the] portion which complainant Eduardo Nuñez is now renting of Lot No. respondent’s wife Dr. 106[. Norjue I. Because of the pendency of this criminal case with the Department of Justice[. That respondent in response to paragraph 7 of the complaint hereby admit the pendency of Criminal Case No. R-4013-A which was personally filed by Elisa L. namely. Later it was ordered dismissed by the Asst. complainants negotiated with the respondent to buy their area of Lot No. ill-advised by their counsel [started] filing [a] series of criminal. But before the filing of this present action initiated by Mr. 106 they rented and in fact actually advanced part of the agreed consideration until their father Eugenio Nuñez discovered an existing document of sale with right to repurchase when they. 106 and 107 of the Baybay Cadastre with an area only of 201 square meters. Caballes’s counsel and complainants Eduardo Nuñez and . civil and administrative cases against respondent and his wife at the instigation of their lawyers. Lopez on February 22. Complainants Elisa L. the truth of the matter is that Amado Caballes at the instigation of the complain[an]ts and their counsel filed Criminal Case No. Jose C. Leyte which is pending pre-trial. Leyte when then same was recommended for dismissal x x x. Like Criminal Case No. That respondent specifically denies the material allegations of paragraph 8. Nuñez are actually renting the cornermost portion of the consolidated Lot Nos. "5.8 xxxxxxxxx " b) It is not only the authority of the Spouses Ricardo O. Nuñez. 2001 x x x but complainants elevated the case for review to the Department of Justice x x x. and when respondent was trying to eject them. Nuñez. Baybay. Provincial Prosecutor Rosulo U. 89. Juego as a way of pressuring respondent and wife to give up [the] portion they are occupying [of] Lot No. R-4013-A. R-4011-A with the Municipal Trial Court.
Despite legal redemption. Leyte despite the lack of witnesses x x x. Nuñez and Paterna Baltazar x x x. "7. complainants submitted their Reply. That by virtue of the pendency of Criminal Case No. there is also filed Crim. R-4011-A[. Case No." x x x x x x x x x. 2003. there exist[s] a prejudicial question and that further hearing of the present administrative action should be suspended until the outcome of this criminal case. Case No.10 Commissioner Villanueva-Maala found respondent guilty of serious misconduct. 2003. Case No. IBP-CPD Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala scheduled the case for hearing on December 11. R-4011-A.8 Thereafter. In Resolution No. respondent requested and was a granted a period of fifteen (15) days to file his rejoinder. the investigating commissioner recommended his suspension from the practice of law for a period of one year. XV-2003-346 dated June 21.] [T]he truth of the matter is that respondent had been already acquitted in Crim. On this date. Case No. Caballes to execute a document of resale on August 14.91awphi1. 2002. .7 On August 8. the Board of Governors of the IBP adopted the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Villanueva-Maala. 2002. CBU-29395 x x x.] this is a matter of existence and pend[ing] with [the IBP-CBD] and need not be a part of this complaint because this will be threshed out in another hearing[. the pendency of this case will constitute a prejudicial question which necessarily will suspend further hearing of the present administrative action until the final outcome of the aforesaid Crim. That similar to other cases filed at the instance of the Nuñezes. and despite Amado Caballes having executed x x x a Deed of Resale which was witnessed by complainant Eugenio Nuñez x x x. Again. after which the case was to be considered submitted for resolution. R-4012-A for Grave Threats by complainant Eduardo Nuñez and now pending in the Municipal Court of Baybay. Thus. "6. 2001 despite knowing that the same has already been long redeemed by respondent x x x.nét Report and Recommendation of the IBP In her Report. The parties agreed to file simultaneous memoranda on January 15. That respondent is duly authorized to negotiate for the disposal of any part of the Intestate Estate of the late Spouses Ricardo O. R-4011-A. "8. the complainants convinced Amado Caballes to file Crim.] x x x.9 Eugenio Nuñez required Mr. That regarding paragraph 12 and 13 of the complaint[.
10 The Resolution. however. Tucay. behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.12 this Court. but find respondent’s offensive language against complainants and their counsel unbecoming an attorney.13 held thus: "A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath. Neither shall they. Respondent also filed a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. malpractice. Lawyers shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on their fitness to practice law. Villanueva. The grounds are not preclusive in nature even as they are broad enough as to cover practically any kind of impropriety that a lawyer does or commits in his professional career or in his private life."14 However. which are not only conditions precedent to his entrance to the Bar but are likewise essential demands for his continued membership therein. willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court. pursuant to Section 12(b) of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court. was transmitted to this Court for final action. Likewise bereft of merit.15 The allegations in the Complaint were not substantiated by clear evidence. any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to the practice of law. XV-2003-346 of the IBP Board of Governors. or an odious deportment unbecoming an attorney. gross misconduct in office. citing Tucay v. together with the records of the case. The admission of respondent that there are various cases filed or pending against him does not ipso facto constitute serious misconduct. they were bereft of convincing proof of respondent’s deceit and gross misconduct. Rule 138 of the Rules of Court are deceit. . conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. A lawyer must at no time be wanting in probity and moral fiber. the penalties of disbarment and suspension are severe forms of disciplinary action and must be imposed with great caution. to set aside Resolution No. corrupt or willful appearance as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. is the finding of the IBP investigating commissioner that the mere existence of the same pending cases constitute serious misconduct on the part of respondent. His contention that the pending cases against him pose a prejudicial question that will bar the instant administrative case is untenable. The Court’s Ruling We disagree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP. grossly immoral conduct. a patent disregard of his duties. whether in public or in private life. Among the grounds enumerated in Section 27. Administrative Liability of Respondent The legal profession exacts a high standard from its members.11 In gr_ Gonzaga v.
Logares. By such conviction. in his professional dealings. appeared.21 He hurled insulting language in describing the opposing counsel22 and cast doubts on the latter’s integrity by implying that the lawyer had instigated the filing of the so-called baseless suits. 2002. however. Norjue I. Hence. The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates: CANON 8 – A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy. To hold otherwise would open the door to harassment of attorneys through the mere filing of numerous criminal cases against them. the opposing counsel.1awphi1. Atty. and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. use language which is abusive. he himself appeared at the December 11. such lawyer has become unfit to uphold the administration of justice and is no longer possessed of good moral character. however. Respondent was allowed to file his Answer. Investigating Commissioner Villanueva-Maala conducted hearings on the case on June 5 and June 26. violated the rules on non-forum shopping and committed malpractice. In his Memorandum18 dated January 15. he cannot claim that he was not given ample opportunity to rebut the charges filed against him. offensive or otherwise improper. 16 In the present case. And. upon a finding that the crime a lawyer has been convicted of involves moral turpitude. after which the case was deemed submitted for resolution. Suspension or disbarment may follow as a matter of course. and candor toward his professional colleagues. Juego. the mere existence of pending criminal charges cannot be a ground for disbarment or suspension of respondent. Without clear and convincing evidence that he committed acts that allegedly constituted serious misconduct. 2002 hearing when the parties agreed to file simultaneous memoranda. 2003.01 – A lawyer shall not. Atty.17 As borne by the records. fairness. during which counsel for respondent.11 Under Section 27 of Rule 138. as well as his Rejoinder. merely to harass and place him in a bad light. we do. while respondent has been charged with several criminal cases involving moral turpitude.20 The latter suggested that complainants and their counsel had caused the filing of several baseless suits. Rule 8. 2003. Records show that respondent filed his Memorandum on January 29. including the present charge. Respondent contends that his right to due process was violated when the IBP investigating commissioner failed to conduct a formal investigation. conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude is a ground for disbarment or suspension.23 . more important. points out the manner and tenor of the language in the Answer 19 and the Rejoinder of respondent.nét While we are not convinced that complainants have clearly and convincingly proven the charges of serious misconduct. he has yet to be convicted of any of them. note the use of offensive language in respondent’s pleadings.
24 WHEREFORE. LUIS MEINRADO C. these statements.. emphatic. Sandoval-Gutierrez. but should always be dignified. whether written or oral. Astorga is ACQUITTED of the charge of serious misconduct. Arguments. particularly the words "who he is despite x x x his shortness not only in size but in arrogance. and Garcia. CATHERINE . Corona. 2000 MANUEL N. concur. PANGULAYAN. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION A.." constitute conduct unbecoming a member of the legal profession and cannot be countenanced by this Court. on leave. J. vs. JJ. A lawyer’s language may be forceful. No. Arturo B. REGINA D. Carpio-Morales. CAMACHO.12 Indeed. 4807 March 22. SO ORDERED. Atty. should be gracious to both court and opposing counsel and should use such language as may be properly addressed by one gentleperson to another. BALMORES. but is held liable for conduct unbecoming an attorney and is FINED two thousand pesos. but respectful as befitting an advocate. complainant.C. ATTYS.
or execution of the various Re-Admission Agreements complained of and were. and Herbert Joaquin P. required them to waive all kinds of claims they might have had against AMACC. VITUG. . Leila D. Santiago. Complainant averred that such an act of respondents was unbecoming of any member of the legal profession warranting either disbarment or suspension from the practice of law. Basalo. formulation. Melyda B. charged that respondents. specifically Canon 9 thereof. in fact. Laurel. but should only deal with his counsel. of Quezon City. then counsel for the defendants. J. Q-97-30549 of the Regional Trial Court. Branch 78. he claimed. Catherine V. in effect. it found the students guilty of the use of indecent language and unauthorized use of the student publication funds. Balmores. had nothing to do with the dismissal of Civil Case Q-97-30549 and were executed for the sole purpose of effecting the settlement of an administrative case involving nine students of AMACC who were expelled therefrom upon the recommendation of the Student Disciplinary Tribunal. were all members of the Editorial Board of DATALINE. Regina D. Joven. without his knowledge. Melissa F. The students. The body recommended the penalty of expulsion against the erring students. Salcedo. Domondon. much less should he undertake to negotiate or compromise the matter with him. who apparently had caused to be published some objectionable features or articles in the paper. and Cleo B. Almira O. It is incumbent upon the lawyer most particularly to avoid everything that may tend to mislead a party not represented by counsel and he should not undertake to advise him as to law. Attorney Pangulayan acknowledged that not one of his co-respondents had taken part in the negotiation. Michael Ejercito. namely. viz: A lawyer should not in any way communicate upon the subject of controversy with a party represented by counsel. procured and effected on separate occasions. no longer connected at the time with the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices. In his comment.: Respondent lawyers stand indicted for a violation of the Code of Professional Ethics. De Leon. namely. Pangulayan. and after a series of hearings. discussion. BUSTOS of PANGULAYAN AND ASSOCIATES LAW OFFICES. Atty. The 3-member Student Disciplinary Tribunal was immediately convened.13 V. The Re-Admission Agreements. Manuel N. Ian Dexter Marquez. in an action for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction and for Damages. Neil Jason R. the hired counsel of some expelled students from the AMA Computer College ("AMACC"). Signorelli A. criminal and administrative proceedings filed against it. Attorneys Luis Meinrado C. Bustos. the principal defendant. Camacho filed a complaint against the lawyers comprising the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices. and to terminate all civil. docketed Civil Case No. Villareiz. LAUREL and HUBERT JOAQUIN P. Complainant. respondents. compromise agreements ("Re-Admission Agreements") with four of his clients in the aforementioned civil case which.
Balmores of the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices for defendant AMACC. letter or apology. It would appear that when the individual letters of apology and Re-Admission Agreements were formalized. A copy of the manifestation was furnished complainant. While the civil case was still pending. De Leon for her daughter Melyda B. letter of apology. Respondent Pangulayan had full knowledge of this fact. dated 06 June 1997. herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A". respondent attorney proceeded. and Re-Admission Agreement of 22 May 1997 with the AMACC President. On 19 June 1999. as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED. and Re-Admission Agreement of 23 January 1997 with the AMACC President. dated 20 January 1997. Judge Lopez of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court thereupon dismissed Civil Case No. and letter of apology. to wit: Letter of Apology. Q-97-30549 on 14th March 1997 before the Regional Trial Court. AMACC President. dated 14 June 1997. with an amendment Atty. Veronica B. to negotiate with them and their parents without at the very least communicating the matter to their lawyer. In his Resolution. the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP") passed Resolution No. assisted by his mother. . This failure of respondent. Aguiluz V. of Leila Joven. of Cleo Villareiz and Re-Admission Agreement of 10 October 1997 with the AMACC President. whether by design or because of oversight. dated 31 March 1997. dated 27 May 1997. dated 22 May 1997. Amable R. and ReAdmission Agreement of 22 June 1997 with the AMACC President. letter of apology. Branch 78. was filed with the trial court where the civil case was pending by Attorney Regina D. thus: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE. letters of apology and Re-Admission Agreements were separately executed by and/or in behalf of some of the expelled students. XIII-99-163. Q-97-30549. Although aware that the students were represented by counsel. finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules. Following the execution of the letters of apology and Re-Admission Agreements. complainant was by then already the retained counsel for plaintiff students in the civil case. De Leon and Re-Admission Agreement of 09 May 1997 with the AMACC President. Meinrado Pangulayan is suspended from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS for being remiss in his duty and DISMISSAL of the case against the other Respondents for they did not take part in the negotiation of the case. Respondent fell short of the demands required of him as a lawyer and as a member of the Bar. of Quezon City. nonetheless. gave rise to the commencement of Civil Case No. of Neil Jason Salcedo. of Mrs. the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case. a Manifestation. is an inexcusable violation of the canons of professional ethics and in utter disregard of a duty owing to a colleague. who was counsel of record in Civil Case No. Q-97-30549. dated 22 September 1997. herein complainant. of Michael Ejercito. and. assisted by her mother. assisted by his parents.14 The denial of the appeal made by the students to Dr.
and furnished the Bar Confidant. Consequently. among other things. criminal and administrative proceedings which they may have against the AMACC arising from their previous dismissal. ZALDIVAR. Panganiban.. Luis Meinrado C. Q-97-30549 will by filed them. 1988 ENRIQUE A. . explicitly contained the following stipulation. nevertheless. vs. xxx xxx xxx 3. 79690-707 April 27. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN AND HONORABLE RAUL M. GONZALEZ. concur. petitioner. CLAIMING TO BE AND ACTING AS TANODBAYAN-OMBUDSMAN UNDER THE 1987 CONSTITUTION. The case against the other respondents is DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence.R. the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country. Pangulayan is ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of THREE (3) MONTHS effective immediately upon his receipt of this decision. JJ. Nos. Purisima and Gonzaga-Reyes. as soon as possible. viz: 1. The Court can only thus concur with the IBP Investigating Commission and the IBP Board of Governors in their findings. an Urgent Motion to Withdraw from Civil Case No. respondent Atty. four (4) of whom assisted by their parents/guardian already executed a Re-Admission Agreement with AMACC President. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.nêt SO ORDERED. WHEREFORE. Among the nine (9) signatories to the complaint. Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal record of respondent as an attorney and as a member of the Bar. respondents. the recommended six-month suspension would appear to be somewhat too harsh a penalty given the circumstances and the explanation of respondent. AGUILUZ V acknowledging guilt for violating the AMA COMPUTER COLLEGE MANUAL FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS and agreed among others to terminate all civil. AMABLE R. Melo.1âwphi1.15 The allegation that the context of the Re-Admission Agreements centers only on the administrative aspect of the controversy is belied by the Manifestation 1 which.
and the filing of the Motion for Suspension Pendente Lite. Zaldivar. Zaldivar is concerned and from hearing and resolving the special prosecutor's motion to suspend (Annex J) and thereafter. Francisco Carreon and Nestor C. ." petitioner Enrique A. restraining the Honorable Sandiganbayan from hearing and trying Criminal Cases Nos. 1988 ENRIQUE A. 12159 to 12161 and 12163-12177 on the ground thatsaid cases were filed by said Tanodbayan without legal and constitutional authority. GONZALEZ. Prohibition. Philippines. Manila. PETITIONER prays for such other and further relief as may be deemed proper in the premises. prohibiting and restraining the respondent Sandiganbayan from proceeding to hear and try the abovementioned criminal cases or making the temporary preliminary injunction permanent. respondent. RAUL M. Nos.16 G. the filing of the original informations on 3 March 1987 and the amended ones on 4 June 1987. Lumba for petitioner. and mandamus under Rule 65. L-80578 April 27. PER CURIAM: In G. 79690-707 "Petition for Certiorari. ZALDIVAR. final judgment be rendered: — (1) ordering that the amended informations in the above-mentioned crimininal cases be or issuing a writ of mandamus commanding and ordering the respondent Sandiganbayan to do so and. vs. since under the 1987 Constitution which took effect on February 2. a writ of preliminary injunction issue upon the filing of a bond in such amount as may be fixed by the Honorable Court. (2) declaring the acts of respondent Gonzalez as "Tanodbayan-Ombudsman" after 2 February 1987 relating to these cases as anullity and without legal effect. 1987. particularly. the promulgation of Tanodbayan resolution of 5 February 1987. September 9. petitioner.R. it is respectfully prayed that pending the final disposition of this petition or until further orders of the Honorable Court. governor of the province of Antique. claiming to be and acting as TanodbayanOmbudsman under the 1987 Constitution. it is only the Ombudsman (not the present or incumbent Tanodbayan) who has the authority to file cases with the Sandiganbayan. HON. and 12163 to 12177 insofar as petitioner Enrique A. No. sought to restrain the Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan Raul Gonzalez from proceeding with the prosecution and hearing of Criminal Cases Nos. 12159 to 12161. in consequence.R. The Solicitor General for respondent. 1987. The complete prayer of the petition reads: WHEREFORE. with costs against the respondents.
It is likewise prayed that the present petition be consolidated with G. Zaldivar. 87-01304 and. After a study of the petitions. petitioner Enrique A. particularly: (1) Annulling. particularly. the Ombudsman (as distinguished from theincumbent Tanodbayan) is charged with the duty to: . and to forthwith decide the petitions. (2) Prohibiting and restraining the respondent from filing any criminal Information as a consequence of the void preliminary investigation he conducted in TBP CASE NO.R.R. We find the petitions impressed with merit. Under the 1987 Constitution. After proper proceedings. such other complaints/cases now pending or which may hereafter be filed against petitioner with the Office of the respondent. prays that Tanodbayan Gonzalez be restrained from conducting preliminary investigations and similar cases with the Sandiganbayan. it is respectfully prayed that pending the final disposition of this petition or until further orders of this Honorable court. by respondent in TBP CASE NO. 45-47. We have decided to give due course to the same. 80578. (3) Prohibiting and restraining the respondent from conducting preliminary investigations in. on substantially the same ground as the first petition. 8701304. 24-25. have already been filed.1987 (pp. or annulling the criminal Information in the said case which may. the preliminary investigation conducted. November 18. to consider the comments of the Solicitor-General and of Tanodbayan Gonzalez as their Answers thereto. such other complaints/ cases now pending or which may hereafter be filed against petitioner with the Office of the respondent. and filing criminal informations for. in the meantime. PETITIONER further prays for such other and further reliefs as may be deemed proper in the proper with costs against the respondent. it is prayed that final judgment be rendered annulling the acts of respondent Gonzalez as "Tanodbayan. and filing criminal informations for. 87-01304. and from conducting preliminary investigations in.17 (pp. Manila.Ombudsman" after 2 February 1987 relating to the investigation of complaints against petitioner. No. and the Resolution rendered. Philippines. 7969079707. Rollo) We issued the restraining orders prayed for. The prayer reads: WHEREFORE.L-Nos. Rollo) In G. for absolute want of jurisdiction. a writ of preliminary injunction issue restraining the respondent from further acting in TBP CASE NO. from filing the criminal Information consequent thereof-.
however. WHEREFORE. 1) The Constitution likewise provides that: The existing Tanodbayan shall hereafter be known as the office of the Special Prosecutor. Even his original power to issue subpoena. and (2) ORDER respondent Raul Gonzalez to cease and desist from conducting investigations and filing criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan or otherwise exercising the powers and function of the Ombudsman. contempt except those conferred on the office of the Ombudsman created under this Constitution. The Office of the Ombudsman is a new creation under Article XI of the Constitution different from the Office of the Tanodbayan created under PD 1607 although concededly some of the powers of the two offices are Identical or similar. or on complaint by any person. except upon orders of the Ombudsman. 1987. is now deemed transferred to the Ombudsman. Section 7) (Emphasis ours). 13. office or agency. XI. This right to do so was lost effective February 2. It shall continue to function and exercise its powers as now or hereafter may be provided by law. Under the present Constitution. par. the incumbent Tanodbayan (caged Special Prosecutor under the 1987 constitution and who is supposed to retain powers and duties NOT GIVEN to the Ombudsman) is clearly without authority to conduct preliminary investigations and to direct the filing of criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan. Now then. It is not correct either to suppose that the Special Prosecutor remains the Ombudsman as long as he has not been replaced. improper. We hereby: (1) GRANT the consolidated petitions filed by petitioner Zaldivar and hereby NULLIFY the criminal informations filed against him in the Sandiganbayan. which he still claims under Section 10(d) of PD 1630. for the fact is that he has never been the Ombudsman. he has been divested of such authority. (Art.18 Investigate on its own. the Special Prosecutor (Raul Gonzalez) is a mere subordinate of the Tanodbayan Ombudsman) and can investigate and prosecute cases only upon the latter's authority or orders. unjust. retain it in the Spedal Prosecutor in connection with the cases he is ordered to investigate. The Special Prosecutor cannot plead that he has a right to hold over the position of Ombudsman as he has never held it in the first place. From that time. or inefficient (Sec. employee. who may. inasmuch as the aforementioned duty is given to the Ombudsman. . when such act or commission appears to be illegal. any act or omission of any public official. The Special Prosecutor cannot initiate the prosecution of cases but can only conduct the same if instructed to do so by the Ombudsman.
however. Melencio-Herrera..J. 1987. J. that the 1987 Constitution took effect on February 11. it is a profession in which duty to public service. a lawyer owes fidelity to both cause and client. Separate Opinions SARMIENTO. and Griño-Aquino.. J. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION AC No. that the 1987 Constitution took effect on February 11. Bidin and Cortes. however. ALBERTO C.: After agreeing to take up the cause of a client. BURBE. Paras.19 SO ORDERED. Lawyering is not a business. The Case .R. ATTY. is the primary consideration. consistent with my dissent in De Leon vs. Cruz. Gancayco. Esguerra. concurring: I maintain. No. Esguerra. even if the client never paid any fee for the attorney-client relationship. Yap. 99-634 June 10. concurring: I maintain. concur. Fernan. 2002 DOMINADOR P.. MAGULTA. consistent with my dissent in De Leon vs. G. JJ. PANGANIBAN. Gutierrez. 1987. vs. C. 78059. G. Narvasa. J. Separate Opinions SARMIENTO.R. Padilla.. No. Jr. respondent. not money.. complainant. 78059. Feliciano.
m. "That consequent to such agreement. copy of which is attached as Annex A.000. "That a week later. Filed by Dominador P. attached as Annex C. Magulta but there seemed to be no progress in my case. 1999. "That I had grown impatient on the case. who agreed to legally represent me in a money claim and possible civil case against certain parties for breach of contract. that I failed to secure a settlement of the dispute. Alberto C. "That having the need to legally recover from the parties to be sued I. sometime in September. in his office at the Respicio. which he subsequently drafted. Alberto C. he came back and told me that the Clerk of Court was absent on that day. inasmuch. Magulta suggested that I file the necessary complaint. copy of the Receipt attached as Annex B. Magulta. Atty. where he left me at the Office of the City Prosecutor at the ground floor of the building and told to wait while he personally follows up the processes with the Clerk of Court. on January 4. Juan de la Cruz St. I waited for such notice from the court or from Atty. he even brought me to the Hall of Justice Building at Ecoland. Magulta and Adan Law Offices at 21-B Otero Building. I decided to go to the Office of the Clerk of Court with my draft of Atty. such that I frequented his office to inquire. for my satisfaction. Alberto C. Davao City. Magulta on my behalf. Magulta's complaint to personally verify the progress of my case. 1999. Magulta that the complaint had already been filed in court. Alberto C. and there told that there was no record at all of a case filed by Atty. Burbe with the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on June 14. whereupon.00). Magulta. and he would repeatedly tell me just to wait. considering that I am told to wait [every time] I asked. however. 1998. .. the Complaint is accompanied by a Sworn Statement alleging the following: "x x x xxx xxx "That in connection with my business. Magulta last May 25.20 Before us is a Complaint for the disbarment or suspension or any other disciplinary action against Atty. within the hour. 1999. Magulta. upon the instruction that I needed the case filed immediately. Atty. and that I should receive notice of its progress. the filing fee whereof will require the amount of Twenty Five Thousand Pesos (P25. 1999. "That in the months that followed. copy of the Certification dated May 27. for which services I have accordingly paid. and in my last visit to Atty.000. I was informed by Atty.00 to Atty. at about 4:00 p. Alberto C. Magulta.. Alberto C. I was introduced to Atty. Davao City. he said that the court personnel had not yet acted on my case and. Magulta prepared for me the demand letter and some other legal papers. deposited the amount of P25. "That sensing I was being given the run-around by Atty.
postdated June 1 and June 5. the latter requested that another demand letter -.1 On August 6. copies of which are attached as Annexes D and E. treatment and deception I was made to suffer. when no settlement was reached. Draft a complaint against ALC Corporation 4. Aside from attending to the Regwill case which had required a three-hour meeting. in the amounts of P12. May 28. Inc. and only when shown the certification did he admit that he has not at all filed the complaint because he had spent the money for the filing fee for his own purpose. 1999.this time addressed to the former -." xxx xxx x x x.2 respondent filed his Answer3 vehemently denying the allegations of complainant "for being totally outrageous and baseless. one of the business partners of complainant. Magulta at his office the following day. pursuant to the July 22. replied to this letter." The latter had allegedly been introduced as a kumpadre of one of the former's law partners. who reluctantly agreed to do so. I confronted Atty. Nelson Tan 2.be drafted by respondent. dishonesty and oppressive conduct. Research on the Mandaue City property claimed by complainant's wife All of these respondent did.00 and P8. After Mr. Alberto C. 1999. but he was never paid for his services by complainant. Alberto C. "That for the inconvenience. Without informing the lawyer. Write a demand letter addressed to Mr. complainant later on withdrew all the files pertinent to the Regwill case. 1999 Order of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline.000.21 "That feeling disgusted by the way I was lied to and treated. Magulta for misrepresentation. I wish to complain Atty. respectively. complainant requested him to draft a demand letter against Regwill Industries. where he continued to lie to with the excuse that the delay was being caused by the court personnel. the latter instructed him to draft a complaint for breach of contract. Respondent likewise said that without telling him why. After their meeting. 1999.000. -. Said Sayre. complainant asked the process server of the former's law office to deliver the letter to the addressee. he offered to reimburse me by issuing two (2) checks. whose services had never been paid by complainant until this time. He was also requested by complainant to do the following: 1.a service for which the former never paid. and to appease my feelings.00. Write a demand letter addressed to ALC Corporation 3. told the latter about his . respondent drafted a complaint (which was only for the purpose of compelling the owner to settle the case) and prepared a compromise agreement. Respondent. However.
the complainant. 1999. The IBP's Recommendation In its Report and Recommendation dated March 8. When respondent refused. it was he. the lawyer immediately called the attention of complainant. The lawyer returned the amount using his own personal checks because their law office was undergoing extensive renovation at the time. Sometime in February 1999. The negotiations went on for two months. Respondent's checks were accepted and encashed by complainant. complainant again relayed to respondent his interest in filing the complaint. When told that these fees amounted to P187.000. complainant proposed that the complaint be filed first before payment of respondent's acceptance and legal fees. complainant promised to pay on installment basis.000 to respondent's secretary and told her that it was for the filing fee of the Regwill case.742 because the Regwill claim was almost P4 million. mistreated or deceived complainant. complainant gave the amount of P25. unbecoming a member of the law profession. the First Oriental Property Ventures. informing the latter of the need to pay the acceptance and filing fees before the complaint could be filed. The failure of respondent to fulfill this obligation due to his misuse of the filing fees deposited by complainant. a corresponding obligation on the part of respondent was created and that was to file the Regwill complaint within the time frame contemplated by his client. Inc. and that he should give the filing fee later. and his attempts to cover up this misuse of funds of the client.000 deposited by complainant with the Respicio Law Office was for the filing fees of the Regwill complaint. With complainant's deposit of the filing fees for the Regwill complaint. Respondent averred that he never inconvenienced. the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) opined as follows: "x x x [I]t is evident that the P25. In response. Respondent reminded him once more of the acceptance fee. 2000. complainant told respondent to suspend for the meantime the filing of the complaint because the former might be paid by another company. but the parties never arrived at any agreement. does not exculpate the respondent for his . Complainant was told that the amount he had paid was a deposit for the acceptance fee. complainant demanded the return of the P25. constitutes highly dishonest conduct on his part. which caused complainant additional damage and prejudice. which had offered to buy a parcel of land owned by Regwill Industries.. and their office personnel were not reporting regularly. On January 4. When informed of the payment.22 acceptance and legal fees. Sometime in May 1999. The subsequent reimbursement by the respondent of part of the money deposited by complainant for filing fees. and if anyone had been shortchanged by the undesirable events.
and integrity of the profession. but also serve the ends of justice. it is recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year. Thus. hence. They who perform that duty with diligence and candor not only protect the interests of the client. because the latter never paid him for services rendered."4 The Court's Ruling We agree with the Commission's recommendation. it is not essential that the client employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion.23 misappropriation of said funds. neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not afterward handle the case for which his service had been sought. consults a lawyer with a view to obtaining professional advice or assistance. A lawyer-client relationship was established from the very first moment complainant asked respondent for legal advice regarding the former's business. Also. in respect to business affairs or troubles of any kind. They do honor to the bar and help maintain the respect of the community for the legal profession. the honesty. Respondent claims that complainant did not give him the filing fee for the Regwill complaint. Lawyers must exert their best efforts and ability in the prosecution or the defense of the client's cause. We are not persuaded.6 Respondent wants this Court to believe that no lawyer-client relationship existed between him and complainant. then the professional employment is established. The former adds that he only drafted the said documents as a personal favor for the kumpadre of one of his partners. If a person. to impress upon the respondent the gravity of his offense. Main Issue: Misappropriation of Client's Funds Central to this case are the following alleged acts of respondent lawyer: (a) his non-filing of the Complaint on behalf of his client and (b) his appropriation for himself of the money given for the filing fee. or charged. and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces with the consultation. the former's failure to file the complaint in court. It is not necessary that any retainer be paid. We disagree. respondent alleges that the amount delivered by complainant to his office on January 4. To constitute professional employment.7 . 1999 was for attorney's fees and not for the filing fee.5 Members of the bar must do nothing that may tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity. promised.
at the soonest possible time. Lawyers who convert the funds entrusted to them are in gross violation of professional ethics and are guilty of betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession. Not a Business In this day and age.11 Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a moneymaking venture. despite the fact that complainant was kumpadre of a law partner of respondent. in order to protect the client's interest. members of the bar often forget that the practice of law is a profession and not a business. and the exertion of their utmost learning and abilities to the end that nothing be taken or withheld from the client. the lawyer was duty-bound to file the complaint he had agreed to prepare -. The Practice of Law -. a lawyer-client relationship exists notwithstanding the close personal relationship between the lawyer and the complainant or the nonpayment of the former's fees.24 Likewise. Rule 18. and that respondent dispensed legal advice to complainant as a personal favor to the kumpadre. who must subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to themselves.respondent should have immediately taken steps to correct the error.13 Duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that lawyers shall hold in trust all moneys of their clients and properties that may come into their possession. 16 It may be .10 Similarly unconvincing is the explanation of respondent that the receipt issued by his office to complainant on January 4. they owe fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in them. 12 The gaining of a livelihood is not a professional but a secondary consideration. warm zeal in the maintenance and the defense of the client's rights.and had actually prepared -.if indeed it was one -.14 In failing to apply to the filing fee the amount given by complainant -.15 Rule 16. and the highest eminence may be attained without making much money. This Court has likewise constantly held that once lawyers agree to take up the cause of a client.a Profession.9 They owe entire devotion to the interest of the client. save by the rules of law legally applied.8 Hence. Moreover. and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits.the latter also violated the rule that lawyers must be scrupulously careful in handling money entrusted to them in their professional capacity. The IBP Report correctly noted that it was quite incredible for the office personnel of a law firm to be prevailed upon by a client to issue a receipt erroneously indicating payment for something else. 1999 was erroneous. The practice of law is a noble calling in which emolument is a byproduct. upon discovering the "mistake" -.as evidenced by the receipt issued by the law office of respondent -.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that lawyers should not neglect legal matters entrusted to them. He should have lost no time in calling complainant's attention to the matter and should have issued another receipt indicating the correct purpose of the payment.
Magulta is found guilty of violating Rules 16. If much is demanded from an attorney.17 In any event. JJ. SO ORDERED. Only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and the character of the bar will disbarment be imposed as a penalty. and to the public. and that they may apply such funds to the satisfaction of such fees and disbursements. effective upon his receipt of this Decision.01 and 18.18 Respondent fell short of this standard when he converted into his legal fees the filing fee entrusted to him by his client and thus failed to file the complaint promptly. it is because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries with it correlative duties not only to the client but also to the court. The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution. which is instructed to include a copy in respondent's file. they must still exert all effort to protect their client's interest within the bounds of law. we do not agree with complainant's plea to disbar respondent from the practice of law. that they may retain them until their lawful fees and disbursements have been paid.19 WHEREFORE. Let copies be furnished all courts as well as the Office of the Bar Confidant. Puno. these considerations do not relieve them of their duty to promptly account for the moneys they received.25 true that they have a lien upon the client's funds. concur. and Carpio. to the bar. On the other hand.*. Alberto C. J.. .03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year. The fact that the former returned the amount does not exculpate him from his breach of duty. Atty. Sandoval-Gutierrez. Their failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct. documents and other papers that have lawfully come into their possession. However.
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