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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC A.C. No.

7136 August 1, 2007

JOSELANO GUEVARRA, complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, respondent. DECISION PER CURIAM: Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4, 2002 a Complaint for Disbarment1 before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala a.k.a. Noli Eala (respondent) for "grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyer's oath." In his complaint, Guevarra gave the following account: He first met respondent in January 2000 when his (complainant's) then-fiancee Irene Moje (Irene) introduced respondent to him as her friend who was married to Marianne (sometimes spelled "Mary Ann") Tantoco with whom he had three children. After his marriage to Irene on October 7, 2000, complainant noticed that from January to March 2001, Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone calls, as well as messages some of which read "I love you," "I miss you," or "Meet you at Megamall." Complainant also noticed that Irene habitually went home very late at night or early in the morning of the following day, and sometimes did not go home from work. When he asked about her whereabouts, she replied that she slept at her parents' house in Binangonan, Rizal or she was busy with her work. In February or March 2001, complainant saw Irene and respondent together on two occasions. On the second occasion, he confronted them following which Irene abandoned the conjugal house. On April 22, 2001, complainant went uninvited to Irene's birthday celebration at which he saw her and respondent celebrating with her family and friends. Out of embarrassment, anger and humiliation, he left the venue immediately. Following that incident, Irene went to the conjugal house and hauled off all her personal belongings, pieces of furniture, and her share of the household appliances. Complainant later found, in the master's bedroom, a folded social card bearing the words "I Love You" on its face, which card when unfolded contained a handwritten letter dated October 7, 2000, the day of his wedding to Irene, reading: My everdearest Irene, By the time you open this, you'll be moments away from walking down the aisle. I will say a prayer for you that you may find meaning in what you're about to do.

Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me to find fleeting happiness but experience eternal pain? Is it only for us to find a true love but then lose it again? Or is it because there's a bigger plan for the two of us? I hope that you have experienced true happiness with me. I have done everything humanly possible to love you. And today, as you make your vows . . . I make my own vow to YOU! I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you from the first time I laid eyes on you, to the time we spent together, up to the final moments of your single life. But more importantly, I will love you until the life in me is gone and until we are together again. Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I have enough memories of us to last me a lifetime. Always remember though that in my heart, in my mind and in my soul, YOU WILL ALWAYS . . . AND THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO! BE MINE . . . . AND MINE ALONE, and I WILL ALWAYS BE YOURS AND YOURS ALONE! I LOVE YOU FOREVER, I LOVE YOU FOR ALWAYS. AS LONG AS I'M LIVING MY TWEETIE YOU'LL BE!"2 Eternally NOLI yours,

Complainant soon saw respondent's car and that of Irene constantly parked at No. 71-B 11th Street, New Manila where, as he was to later learn sometime in April 2001, Irene was already residing. He also learned still later that when his friends saw Irene on or about January 18, 2002 together with respondent during a concert, she was pregnant. In his ANSWER,3 respondent admitted having sent the I LOVE YOU card on which the above-quoted letter was handwritten. On paragraph 14 of the COMPLAINT reading: 14. Respondent and Irene were even FLAUNTING THEIR ADULTEROUS RELATIONSHIP as they attended social functions together. For instance, in or about the third week of September 2001, the couple attended the launch of the "Wine All You Can" promotion of French wines, held at the Mega Strip of SM Megamall B at Mandaluyong City. Their attendance was reported in Section B of the Manila Standard issue of 24 September 2001, on page 21. Respondent and Irene were photographed together; their picture was captioned: "Irene with Sportscaster Noli Eala." A photocopy of the report is attached as Annex C.4 (Italics and emphasis in the original; CAPITALIZATION of the phrase "flaunting their adulterous relationship" supplied), respondent, in his ANSWER, stated: 4. Respondent specifically denies having ever flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the truth of the matter being that their relationship was low profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families, and that Respondent, as far as the general public was concerned, was still known to be legally married to Mary Anne Tantoco.5 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) On paragraph 15 of the COMPLAINT reading:

15. Respondent's adulterous conduct with the complainant's wife and his apparent abandoning or neglecting of his own family, demonstrate his gross moral depravity, making him morally unfit to keep his membership in the bar. He flaunted his aversion to the institution of marriage, calling it a "piece of paper." Morally reprehensible was his writing the love letter to complainant's bride on the very day of her wedding, vowing to continue his love for her "until we are together again," as now they are.6 (Underscoring supplied), respondent stated in his ANSWER as follows:

5. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 15 of the Complaint regarding his adulterousrelationship and that his acts demonstrate gross moral depravity thereby making him unfit to keep his membership in the bar, the reason being that Respondent's relationship with Irene was not under scandalous circumstances and that as far as his relationship with his own family: 5.1 Respondent has maintained a civil, cordial and peaceful relationship with [his wife] Mary Anne as in fact they still occasionally meet in public, even if Mary Anne is aware of Respondent's special friendship with Irene. xxxx 5.5 Respondent also denies that he has flaunted his aversion to the institution of marriage by calling the institution of marriage a mere piece of paper because his reference [in his above-quoted handwritten letter to Irene] to the marriage between Complainant and Irene as a piece of paper was merely with respect to the formality of the marriage contract.7 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Respondent admitted8 paragraph 18 of the COMPLAINT reading: 18. The Rules of Court requires lawyers to support the Constitution and obey the laws. The Constitution regards marriage as an inviolable social institution and is the foundation of the family (Article XV, Sec. 2).9 And on paragraph 19 of the COMPLAINT reading: 19. Respondent's grossly immoral conduct runs afoul of the Constitution and the laws he, as a lawyer, has been sworn to uphold. In pursuing obsessively his illicit love for the complainant's wife, he mocked the institution of marriage, betrayed his own family, broke up the complainant's marriage, commits adultery with his wife, and degrades the legal profession.10 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied), respondent, in his ANSWER, stated: 7. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the Complaint, the reason being thatunder the circumstances the acts of Respondent with respect to his purely personal and low profile special relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral conduct as would be a ground for disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.11 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) To respondent's ANSWER, complainant filed a REPLY,12 alleging that Irene gave birth to a girl and Irene named respondent in the Certificate of Live Birth as the girl's father. Complainant attached to the Reply, as Annex "A," a copy of a Certificate of Live Birth13 bearing Irene's signature and naming respondent as the father of her daughter Samantha Irene Louise Moje who was born on February 14, 2002 at St. Luke's Hospital.

Complainant's REPLY merited a REJOINDER WITH MOTION TO DISMISS14 dated January 10, 2003 from respondent in which he denied having "personal knowledge of the Certificate of Live Birth attached to the complainant's Reply."15 Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint due to the pendency of a civil case filed by complainant for the annulment of his marriage to Irene, and a criminal complaint for adultery against respondent and Irene which was pending before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office. During the investigation before the IBP-CBD, complainant's Complaint-Affidavit and Reply to Answer were adopted as his testimony on direct examination.16 Respondent's counsel did not cross-examine complainant.17 After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, in a 12-page REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION18 dated October 26, 2004, found the charge against respondent sufficiently proven. The Commissioner thus recommended19 that respondent be disbarred for violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility reading: Rule 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Underscoring supplied), and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code reading: Rule 7.03: A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. (Underscoring supplied) The IBP Board of Governors, however, annulled and set aside the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner and accordingly dismissed the case for lack of merit, by Resolution dated January 28, 2006 briefly reading: RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2006-06 CBD Joselano Atty. a.k.a. Noli Eala Case C. Jose Emmanuel No. Guevarra M. 02-936 vs. Eala

RESOLVED to ANNUL and SET ASIDE, as it is hereby ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE, the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and to APPROVE the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled case for lack of merit.20 (Italics and emphasis in the original) Hence, the present petition21 of complainant before this Court, filed pursuant to Section 12 (c), Rule 13922 of the Rules of Court. The petition is impressed with merit. Oddly enough, the IBP Board of Governors, in setting aside the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner and dismissing the case for lack of merit, gave no reason therefor as its above-quoted 33-word Resolution shows. Respondent contends, in his Comment23 on the present petition of complainant, that there is no evidence against him.24 The contention fails. As the IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner observed: While it may be true that the love letter dated October 7, 2000 (Exh. "C") and the news item published in theManila Standard (Exh. "D"), even taken together do not sufficiently prove that respondent is carrying on an

adulterous relationship with complainant's wife, there are other pieces of evidence on record which support the accusation of complainant against respondent. It should be noted that in his Answer dated 17 October 2002, respondent through counsel made the following statements to wit: "Respondent specifically denies having [ever] flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph [14] of the Complaint, the truth of the matter being [that] their relationship was low profile and known only to immediate members of their respective families . . . , and Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the complaint, the reason being that under the circumstances the acts of the respondents with respect to his purely personal and low profile relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral conduct . . ." These statements of respondent in his Answer are an admission that there is indeed a "special" relationship between him and complainant's wife, Irene, [which] taken together with the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha Louise Irene Moje (Annex "H-1") sufficiently prove that there was indeed an illicit relationship between respondent and Irene which resulted in the birth of the child "Samantha". In the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha it should be noted that complainant's wife Irene supplied the information that respondent was the father of the child. Given the fact that the respondent admitted his special relationship with Irene there is no reason to believe that Irene would lie or make any misrepresentation regarding the paternity of the child. It should be underscored that respondent has not categorically denied that he is the father of Samantha Louise Irene Moje.25 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Indeed, from respondent's Answer, he does not deny carrying on an adulterous relationship with Irene, "adultery" being defined under Art. 333 of the Revised Penal Code as that "committed by any married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her, knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void."26 (Italics supplied) What respondent denies ishaving flaunted such relationship, he maintaining that it was "low profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families." In other words, respondent's denial is a negative pregnant, a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial facts in the pleading responded to which are not squarely denied. It was in effect an admission of the averments it was directed at. Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a form of negative expression which carries with it in affirmation or at least an implication of some kind favorable to the adverse party. It is a denial pregnant with an admission of the substantial facts alleged in the pleading. Where a fact is alleged with qualifying or modifying language and the words of the allegation as so qualified or modified are literally denied, it has been held that thequalifying circumstances alone are denied while the fact itself is admitted.27 (Citations omitted; emphasis and underscoring supplied) A negative pregnant too is respondent's denial of having "personal knowledge" of Irene's daughter Samantha Louise Irene Moje's Certificate of Live Birth. In said certificate, Irene named respondent a "lawyer," 38 years old as the child's father. And the phrase "NOT MARRIED" is entered on the desired information on "DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE." A comparison of the signature attributed to Irene in the certificate28 with her signature on the Marriage Certificate29 shows that they were affixed by one and the same person. Notatu dignum is that, as the Investigating Commissioner noted, respondent never denied being the father of the child. Franklin A. Ricafort, the records custodian of St. Luke's Medical Center, in his January 29, 2003 Affidavit30 which he identified at the witness stand, declared that Irene gave the information in the Certificate of Live Birth that the child's father is "Jose Emmanuel Masacaet Eala," who was 38 years old and a lawyer.31 Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between respondent and Irene has been sufficiently proven by more than clearly preponderant evidence that evidence adduced by one party which is more conclusive and credible than that of

the other party and, therefore, has greater weight than the other32 which is the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative case against a lawyer. Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases. . . . of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal case, proof beyond reasonable doubt is necessary; in an administrative case for disbarment or suspension, "clearly preponderant evidence" is all that is required.33 (Emphasis supplied) Respondent insists, however, that disbarment does not lie because his relationship with Irene was not, under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, reading: SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a competent court or other disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been admitted as an attorney is a ground for his disbarment or suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the acts hereinabove enumerated. The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall be prima facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension (Emphasis and underscoring supplied), under scandalous circumstances.34 The immediately-quoted Rule which provides the grounds for disbarment or suspension uses the phrase "grossly immoral conduct," not "under scandalous circumstances." Sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances is, following Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code reading: ART. 334. Concubinage. - Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods. x x x x, an element of the crime of concubinage when a married man has sexual intercourse with a woman elsewhere. "Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of marriage should be characterized as 'grossly immoral conduct' depends on the surrounding circumstances."35 The case at bar involves a relationship between a married lawyer and a married woman who is not his wife. It is immaterial whether the affair was carried out discreetly. Apropos is the following pronouncement of this Court in Vitug v. Rongcal:36 On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extra-marital affair with complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not "so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree" in order to merit disciplinary sanction. We disagree.

xxxx While it has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations between two unmarriedadults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for such illicit behavior, it is not so with respect tobetrayals of the marital vow of fidelity. Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under penal law, sexual relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifestsdeliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws.37 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) And so is the pronouncement in Tucay v. Atty. Tucay:38 The Court need not delve into the question of whether or not the respondent did contract a bigamous marriage . . . It is enough that the records of this administrative case substantiate the findings of the Investigating Commissioner, as well as the IBP Board of Governors, i.e., that indeed respondent has beencarrying on an illicit affair with a married woman, a grossly immoral conduct and indicative of an extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his profession. This detestable behaviorrenders him regrettably unfit and undeserving of the treasured honor and privileges which his license confers upon him.39 (Underscoring supplied)

Respondent in fact also violated the lawyer's oath he took before admission to practice law which goes: I _________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution andobey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well as to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God. (Underscoring supplied) Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article XV (The Family) of the Constitution reading: Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State. In this connection, the Family Code (Executive Order No. 209), which echoes this constitutional provision, obligates the husband and the wife "to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support."40 Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in "unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct," and Rule 7.03 of Canon7 of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in any "conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law." Clutching at straws, respondent, during the pendency of the investigation of the case before the IBP Commissioner, filed a Manifestation41 on March 22, 2005 informing the IBP-CBD that complainant's petition for nullity of his (complainant's) marriage to Irene had been granted by Branch 106 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, and that the criminal complaint for adultery complainant filed against respondent and Irene "based on the same set of facts alleged in the instant case," which was pending review before the Department of Justice (DOJ), on petition of complainant, had been, on motion of complainant, withdrawn.

The Secretary of Justice's Resolution of January 16, 2004 granting complainant's Motion to Withdraw Petition for Review reads: Considering that the instant motion was filed before the final resolution of the petition for review, we are inclined to grant the same pursuant to Section 10 of Department Circular No. 70 dated July 3, 2000, which provides that "notwithstanding the perfection of the appeal, the petitioner may withdraw the same at any time before it is finally resolved, in which case the appealed resolution shall stand as though no appeal has been taken."42 (Emphasis supplied by complainant) That the marriage between complainant and Irene was subsequently declared void ab initio is immaterial. The acts complained of took place before the marriage was declared null and void.43 As a lawyer, respondent should be aware that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.44 In carrying on an extra-marital affair with Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage with complainant was null and void, and despite respondent himself being married, he showed disrespect for an institution held sacred by the law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer. As for complainant's withdrawal of his petition for review before the DOJ, respondent glaringly omitted to state thatbefore complainant filed his December 23, 2003 Motion to Withdraw his Petition for Review, the DOJ had already promulgated a Resolution on September 22, 2003 reversing the dismissal by the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office of complainant's complaint for adultery. In reversing the City Prosecutor's Resolution, DOJ Secretary Simeon Datumanong held: Parenthetically the totality of evidence adduced by complainant would, in the fair estimation of the Department, sufficiently establish all the elements of the offense of adultery on the part of both respondents. Indeed, early on, respondent Moje conceded to complainant that she was going out on dates with respondent Eala, and this she did when complainant confronted her about Eala's frequent phone calls and text messages to her. Complainant also personally witnessed Moje and Eala having a rendezvous on two occasions. Respondent Eala never denied the fact that he knew Moje to be married to complainant[.] In fact, he (Eala) himself was married to another woman. Moreover, Moje's eventual abandonment of their conjugal home, after complainant had once more confronted her about Eala, only served to confirm the illicit relationship involving both respondents. This becomes all the more apparent by Moje's subsequent relocation in No. 71-B, 11th Street, New Manila, Quezon City, which was a few blocks away from the church where she had exchange marital vows with complainant. It was in this place that the two lovers apparently cohabited. Especially since Eala's vehicle and that of Moje's were always seen there. Moje herself admits that she came to live in the said address whereas Eala asserts that that was where he held office. The happenstance that it was in that said address that Eala and Moje had decided to hold office for the firm that both had formed smacks too much of a coincidence. For one, the said address appears to be a residential house, for that was where Moje stayed all throughout after her separation from complainant. It was both respondent's love nest, to put short; their illicit affair that was carried out there bore fruit a few months later when Moje gave birth to a girl at the nearby hospital of St. Luke's Medical Center. What finally militates against the respondents is the indubitable fact that in the certificate of birth of the girl, Moje furnished the information that Eala was the father. This speaks all too eloquently of the unlawful and damning nature of the adulterous acts of the respondents. Complainant's supposed illegal procurement of the birth certificate is most certainly beside the point for bothrespondents Eala and Moje have not denied, in any categorical manner, that Eala is the father of the child Samantha Irene Louise Moje.45 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) It bears emphasis that adultery is a private offense which cannot be prosecuted de oficio and thus leaves the DOJ no choice but to grant complainant's motion to withdraw his petition for review. But even if respondent and Irene were to be acquitted of adultery after trial, if the Information for adultery were filed in court, the same would not have been a bar to the present administrative complaint. Citing the ruling in Pangan v. Ramos,46 viz:

x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the criminal charge is not a bar to these [administrative] proceedings. The standards of legal profession are not satisfied by conduct which merely enables one to escape the penalties of x x x criminal law. Moreover, this Court, in disbarment proceedings is acting in an entirely different capacity from that which courts assume in trying criminal case47 (Italics in the original), this Court in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pools, Inc. v. Atty. Naldoza,48 held: Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they mayproceed independently of civil and criminal cases. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Resolution No. XVII-2006-06 passed on January 28, 2006 by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, is DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct, violation of his oath of office, and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately executory, be made part of the records of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines. And let copies of the Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all courts. This Decision takes effect immediately. SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION Adm. Case No. 6290 July 14, 2004

ANA MARIE CAMBALIZA, complainant, vs. ATTY. ANA LUZ B. CRISTAL-TENORIO, respondent.

RESOLUTION

DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: In a verified complaint for disbarment filed with the Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on 30 May 2000, complainant Ana Marie Cambaliza, a former employee of respondent Atty. Ana Luz B. CristalTenorio in her law office, charged the latter with deceit, grossly immoral conduct, and malpractice or other gross misconduct in office.

On deceit, the complainant alleged that the respondent has been falsely representing herself to be married to Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., who has a prior and subsisting marriage with another woman. However, through spurious means, the respondent and Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., were able to obtain a false marriage contract,1which states that they were married on 10 February 1980 in Manila. Certifications from the Civil Registry of Manila2and the National Statistics Office (NSO)3 prove that no record of marriage exists between them. The false date and place of marriage between the two are stated in the birth certificates of their two children, Donnabel Tenorio4and Felicisimo Tenorio III.5 But in the birth certificates of their two other children, Oliver Tenorio6 and John Cedric Tenorio,7 another date and place of marriage are indicated, namely, 12 February 1980 in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. As to grossly immoral conduct, the complainant alleged that the respondent caused the dissemination to the public of a libelous affidavit derogatory to Makati City Councilor Divina Alora Jacome. The respondent would often openly and sarcastically declare to the complainant and her co-employees the alleged immorality of Councilor Jacome. On malpractice or other gross misconduct in office, the complainant alleged that the respondent (1) cooperated in the illegal practice of law by her husband, who is not a member of the Philippine Bar; (2) converted her client's money to her own use and benefit, which led to the filing of an estafa case against her; and (3) threatened the complainant and her family on 24 January 2000 with the statement "Isang bala ka lang" to deter them from divulging respondent's illegal activities and transactions. In her answer, the respondent denied all the allegations against her. As to the charge of deceit, she declared that she is legally married to Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr. They were married on 12 February 1980 as shown by their Certificate of Marriage, Registry No. 2000-9108 of the Civil Registry of Quezon City.8 Her husband has no prior and subsisting marriage with another woman. As to the charge of grossly immoral conduct, the respondent denied that she caused the dissemination of a libelous and defamatory affidavit against Councilor Jacome. On the contrary, it was Councilor Jacome who caused the execution of said document. Additionally, the complainant and her cohorts are the rumormongers who went around the city of Makati on the pretext of conducting a survey but did so to besmirch respondent's good name and reputation. The charge of malpractice or other gross misconduct in office was likewise denied by the respondent. She claimed that her Cristal-Tenorio Law Office is registered with the Department of Trade and Industry as a single proprietorship, as shown by its Certificate of Registration of Business Name.9 Hence, she has no partners in her law office. As to the estafa case, the same had already been dropped pursuant to the Order of 14 June 1996 issued by Branch 103 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.10 The respondent likewise denied that she threatened the complainant with the words "Isang bala ka lang" on 24 January 2000. Further, the respondent averred that this disbarment complaint was filed by the complainant to get even with her. She terminated complainant's employment after receiving numerous complaints that the complainant extorted money from different people with the promise of processing their passports and marriages to foreigners, but she reneged on her promise. Likewise, this disbarment complaint is politically motivated: some politicians offered to re-hire the complainant and her cohorts should they initiate this complaint, which they did and for which they were re-hired. The respondent also flaunted the fact that she had received numerous awards and citations for civic works and exemplary service to the community. She then prayed for the dismissal of the disbarment case for being baseless. The IBP referred this case to Investigating Commissioner Atty. Kenny H. Tantuico. During the hearing on 30 August 2000, the parties agreed that the complainant would submit a Reply to respondent's Answer, while the respondent would submit a Rejoinder to the Reply. The parties also agreed that the Complaint, Answer, and the attached affidavits would constitute as the respective direct testimonies of the parties and the affiants.11 In her Reply, the complainant bolstered her claim that the respondent cooperated in the illegal practice of law by her husband by submitting (1) the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office12 where the name of Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is

listed as a senior partner; and (2) a Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card13 signed by the respondent as Chairperson where her husband is identified as "Atty. Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr." She added that respondent's husband even appeared in court hearings. In her Rejoinder, respondent averred that she neither formed a law partnership with her husband nor allowed her husband to appear in court on her behalf. If there was an instance that her husband appeared in court, he did so as a representative of her law firm. The letterhead submitted by the complainant was a false reproduction to show that her husband is one of her law partners. But upon cross-examination, when confronted with the letterhead ofCristal-Tenorio Law Office bearing her signature, she admitted that Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a lawyer, but he and a certain Gerardo A. Panghulan, who is also not a lawyer, are named as senior partners because they have investments in her law office.14 The respondent further declared that she married Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., on 12 February 1980 in Quezon City, but when she later discovered that their marriage contract was not registered she applied for late registration on 5 April 2000. She then presented as evidence a certified copy of the marriage contract issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar General and authenticated by the NSO. The erroneous entries in the birth certificates of her children as to the place and date of her marriage were merely an oversight.15 Sometime after the parties submitted their respective Offer of Evidence and Memoranda, the complainant filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint on 13 November 2002 after allegedly realizing that this disbarment complaint arose out of a misunderstanding and misappreciation of facts. Thus, she is no longer interested in pursuing the case. This motion was not acted upon by the IBP. In her Report and Recommendation dated 30 September 2003, IBP Commissioner on Bar Discipline Milagros V. San Juan found that the complainant failed to substantiate the charges of deceit and grossly immoral conduct. However, she found the respondent guilty of the charge of cooperating in the illegal practice of law by Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., in violation of Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility based on the following evidence: (1) the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office, which lists Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., as a senior partner; (2) the Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card of "Atty. Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr.," signed by respondent as Chairperson; (3) and the Order dated 18 June 1997 issued by the Metropolitan Trial Court in Criminal Cases Nos. 20729 20734, wherein Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., entered his appearance as counsel and even moved for the provisional dismissal of the cases for failure of the private complainants to appear and for lack of interest to prosecute the said cases. Thus, Commissioner San Juan recommended that the respondent be reprimanded. In its Resolution No. XVI-2003-228 dated 25 October 2003, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved with modification the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner San Juan. The modification consisted in increasing the penalty from reprimand to suspension from the practice of law for six months with a warning that a similar offense in the future would be dealt with more severely. We agree with the findings and conclusion of Commissioner San Juan as approved and adopted with modification by the Board of Governors of the IBP. At the outset, we find that the IBP was correct in not acting on the Motion to Withdraw Complaint filed by complainant Cambaliza. In Rayos-Ombac vs. Rayos,16 we declared: The affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case allegedly executed by complainant does not, in any way, exonerate the respondent. A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or lack of interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been duly proven. This rule is premised on the nature of disciplinary proceedings. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare. They are undertaken for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to

practice in them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice. Hence, if the evidence on record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or disbarred despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the charges. Hence, notwithstanding the Motion to Withdraw Complaint, this disbarment case should proceed accordingly. The IBP correctly found that the charges of deceit and grossly immoral conduct were not substantiated. In disbarment proceedings, the complainant has the burden of proving his case by convincing evidence.17 With respect to the estafa case which is the basis for the charge of malpractice or other gross misconduct in office, the respondent is not yet convicted thereof. In Gerona vs. Datingaling,18 we held that when the criminal prosecution based on the same act charged is still pending in court, any administrative disciplinary proceedings for the same act must await the outcome of the criminal case to avoid contradictory findings. We, however, affirm the IBP's finding that the respondent is guilty of assisting in the unauthorized practice of law. A lawyer who allows a non-member of the Bar to misrepresent himself as a lawyer and to practice law is guilty of violating Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which read as follows: Canon 9 A lawyer shall not directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice of law. Rule 9.01 A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing. The term "practice of law" implies customarily or habitually holding oneself out to the public as a lawyer for compensation as a source of livelihood or in consideration of his services. Holding one's self out as a lawyer may be shown by acts indicative of that purpose like identifying oneself as attorney, appearing in court in representation of a client, or associating oneself as a partner of a law office for the general practice of law.19 Such acts constitute unauthorized practice of law. In this case, Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a lawyer, but he holds himself out as one. His wife, the respondent herein, abetted and aided him in the unauthorized practice of the legal profession. At the hearing, the respondent admitted that the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office listed Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., Gerardo A. Panghulan, and Maricris D. Battung as senior partners. She admitted that the first two are not lawyers but paralegals. They are listed in the letterhead of her law office as senior partners because they have investments in her law office.20 That is a blatant misrepresentation. The Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card is another proof that the respondent assisted Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., in misrepresenting to the public that he is a lawyer. Notably, the identification card stating that he is "Atty. Felicisimo Tenorio, Jr.," bears the signature of the respondent as Chairperson of the Group. The lawyer's duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him not to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law.21

WHEREFORE, for culpable violation of Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, respondent Atty. Ana Luz B. Cristal-Tenorio is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months effective immediately, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely. Let copies of this Resolution be attached to respondent Cristal-Tenorio's record as attorney in this Court and furnished to the IBP and the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts. SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION

A.C. No. 4807

March 22, 2000

MANUEL N. CAMACHO, complainant, vs. ATTYS. LUIS MEINRADO C. PANGULAYAN, REGINA D. BALMORES, CATHERINE V. LAUREL and HUBERT JOAQUIN P. BUSTOS of PANGULAYAN AND ASSOCIATES LAW OFFICES, respondents.

VITUG, J.: Respondent lawyers stand indicted for a violation of the Code of Professional Ethics, specifically Canon 9 thereof,viz: A lawyer should not in any way communicate upon the subject of controversy with a party represented by counsel, much less should he undertake to negotiate or compromise the matter with him, but should only deal with his counsel. 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. Atty. Manuel N. Camacho filed a complaint against the lawyers comprising the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices, namely, Attorneys Luis Meinrado C. Pangulayan, Regina D. Balmores, Catherine V. Laurel, and Herbert Joaquin P. Bustos. Complainant, the hired counsel of some expelled students from the AMA Computer College ("AMACC"), in an action for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction and for Damages, docketed Civil Case No. Q-9730549 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, of Quezon City, charged that respondents, then counsel for the defendants, procured and effected on separate occasions, without his knowledge, compromise agreements ("Re-Admission Agreements") with four of his clients in the aforementioned civil case which, in effect, required them to waive all kinds of claims they might have had against AMACC, the principal defendant, and to terminate all civil, criminal and administrative proceedings filed against it. 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. In his comment, Attorney Pangulayan acknowledged that not one of his co-respondents had taken part in the negotiation, discussion, formulation, or execution of the various Re-Admission Agreements complained of and were, in fact, no longer connected at the time with the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices. The Re-Admission Agreements, he claimed, 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. The students, namely, Ian Dexter Marquez, Almira O. Basalo, Neil Jason R. Salcedo, Melissa F. Domondon, Melyda B. De Leon, Leila D. Joven, Signorelli A. Santiago, Michael Ejercito, and Cleo B. Villareiz, were all members of the Editorial Board of DATALINE, who apparently had caused to be published some objectionable features or articles in the paper. The 3-member Student Disciplinary Tribunal was immediately convened, and after a series of hearings, it found the students guilty of the use of indecent language and unauthorized use of the student publication funds. The body recommended the penalty of expulsion against the erring students. The denial of the appeal made by the students to Dr. Amable R. Aguiluz V, AMACC President, gave rise to the commencement of Civil Case No. Q-97-30549 on 14th March 1997 before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, of Quezon City. While the civil case was still pending, letters of apology and Re-Admission Agreements were separately executed by and/or in behalf of some of the expelled students, to wit: Letter of Apology, dated 27 May 1997, of Neil Jason Salcedo, assisted by his mother, and Re-Admission Agreement of 22 June 1997 with the AMACC President; letter of apology, dated 31 March 1997, of Mrs. Veronica B. De Leon for her daughter Melyda B. De Leon and Re-Admission Agreement of 09 May 1997 with the AMACC President; letter of apology, dated 22 May 1997, of Leila Joven, assisted by her mother, and ReAdmission Agreement of 22 May 1997 with the AMACC President; letter or apology, dated 22 September 1997, of Cleo Villareiz and Re-Admission Agreement of 10 October 1997 with the AMACC President; and letter of apology, dated 20 January 1997, of Michael Ejercito, assisted by his parents, and Re-Admission Agreement of 23 January 1997 with the AMACC President. Following the execution of the letters of apology and Re-Admission Agreements, a Manifestation, dated 06 June 1997, was filed with the trial court where the civil case was pending by Attorney Regina D. Balmores of the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices for defendant AMACC. A copy of the manifestation was furnished complainant. In his Resolution, dated 14 June 1997, Judge Lopez of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court thereupon dismissed Civil Case No. Q-9730549. On 19 June 1999, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP") passed Resolution No. XIII-99163, thus: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, with an amendment Atty. 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. It would appear that when the individual letters of apology and Re-Admission Agreements were formalized, complainant was by then already the retained counsel for plaintiff students in the civil case. Respondent Pangulayan had full knowledge of this fact. Although aware that the students were represented by counsel, respondent attorney proceeded, nonetheless, to negotiate with them and their parents without at the very least communicating the matter to their lawyer, herein complainant, who was counsel of record in Civil Case No. Q-97-30549. This failure of respondent, whether by design or because of oversight, is an inexcusable violation of the canons of professional ethics and in utter disregard of a duty owing to a colleague. Respondent fell short of the demands required of him as a lawyer and as a member of the Bar. 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, among other things, explicitly contained the following stipulation; viz: 1. Among the nine (9) signatories to the complaint, four (4) of whom assisted by their parents/guardian already executed a Re-Admission Agreement with AMACC President, AMABLE R. AGUILUZ V acknowledging guilt for violating the AMA COMPUTER COLLEGE MANUAL FOR DISCIPLINARY

ACTIONS and agreed among others to terminate all civil, criminal and administrative proceedings which they may have against the AMACC arising from their previous dismissal. xxx xxx xxx 3. Consequently, as soon as possible, an Urgent Motion to Withdraw from Civil Case No. Q-97-30549 will by filed them. The Court can only thus concur with the IBP Investigating Commission and the IBP Board of Governors in their findings; nevertheless, the recommended six-month suspension would appear to be somewhat too harsh a penalty given the circumstances and the explanation of respondent. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Luis Meinrado C. Pangulayan is ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of THREE (3) MONTHS effective immediately upon his receipt of this decision. The case against the other respondents is DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence. Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal record of respondent as an attorney and as a member of the Bar, and furnished the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.1wphi1.nt SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC A.C. No. 7199 July 22, 2009 [Formerly CBD 04-1386] FOODSPHERE, INC., Complainant, vs. ATTY. MELANIO L. MAURICIO, JR., Respondent. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: Foodsphere, Inc. (complainant), a corporation engaged in the business of meat processing and manufacture and distribution of canned goods and grocery products under the brand name "CDO," filed a Verified Complaint1 for disbarment before the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) against Atty. Melanio L. Mauricio, Jr., popularly known as "Batas Mauricio" (respondent), a writer/columnist of tabloids including Balitang Patas BATAS, Bagong TIKTIK, TORO and HATAW!, and a host of a television program KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS telecast over UNTV and of a radio program Double B-BATAS NG BAYAN aired over DZBB, for (1) grossly immoral conduct; (2) violation of lawyers oath and (3) disrespect to the courts and to investigating prosecutors. The facts that spawned the filing of the complaint are as follows:

On June 22, 2004, a certain Alberto Cordero (Cordero) purportedly bought from a grocery in Valenzuela City canned goods including a can of CDO Liver spread. On June 27, 2004, as Cordero and his relatives were eating bread with the CDO Liver spread, they found the spread to be sour and soon discovered a colony of worms inside the can. Corderos wife thus filed a complaint with the Bureau of Food and Drug Administration (BFAD). Laboratory examination confirmed the presence of parasites in the Liver spread. Pursuant to Joint DTI-DOH-DA Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 1993, the BFAD conducted a conciliation hearing on July 27, 2004 during which the spouses Cordero demanded P150,000 as damages from complainant. Complainant refused to heed the demand, however, as being in contravention of company policy and, in any event, "outrageous." Complainant instead offered to return actual medical and incidental expenses incurred by the Corderos as long as they were supported by receipts, but the offer was turned down. And the Corderos threatened to bring the matter to the attention of the media. Complainant was later required by the BFAD to file its Answer to the complaint. In the meantime or on August 6, 2004, respondent sent complainant via fax a copy of the front page of the would-be August 10-16, 2004 issue of the tabloid Balitang Patas BATAS, Vol. 1, No. 122 which complainant found to contain articles maligning, discrediting and imputing vices and defects to it and its products. Respondent threatened to publish the articles unless complainant gave in to the P150,000 demand of the Corderos. Complainant thereupon reiterated its counter-offer earlier conveyed to the Corderos, but respondent turned it down. Respondent later proposed to settle the matter for P50,000, P15,000 of which would go to the Corderos andP35,000 to his Batas Foundation. And respondent directed complainant to place paid advertisements in the tabloids and television program. The Corderos eventually forged a KASUNDUAN3 seeking the withdrawal of their complaint before the BFAD. The BFAD thus dismissed the complaint.4 Respondent, who affixed his signature to the KASUNDUAN as a witness, later wrote in one of his articles/columns in a tabloid that he prepared the document. On August 11, 2004, respondent sent complainant an Advertising Contract5 asking complainant to advertise in the tabloid Balitang Patas BATAS for its next 24 weekly issues at P15,000 per issue or a total amount of P360,000, and a Program Profile6 of the television program KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS also asking complainant to place spot advertisements with the following rate cards: (a) spot buy 15-second TVC at P4,000; (b) spot buy 30-second TVC at P7,700; and (c) season buy [13 episodes, 26 spots] of 30-second TVC for P130,000. As a sign of goodwill, complainant offered to buy three full-page advertisements in the tabloid amounting toP45,000 at P15,000 per advertisement, and three spots of 30-second TVC in the television program at P7,700 each or a total of P23,100. Acting on complainants offer, respondent relayed to it that he and his Executive Producer were disappointed with the offer and threatened to proceed with the publication of the articles/columns.7 On August 28, 2004, respondent, in his radio program Double B- Batas ng Bayan at radio station DZBB, announced the holding of a supposed contest sponsored by said program, which announcement was transcribed as follows: "OK, at meron akong pa-contest, total magpapasko na o ha, meron pa-contest si Batas Mauricio ang Batas ng Bayan. Ito yung ating pa-contest, hulaan ninyo, tatawag kayo sa telepono, 433-7549 at 433-7553. Ang mga premyo babanggitin po natin sa susunod pero ito muna ang contest, o, aling liver spread ang may uod? Yan kita ninyo yan, ayan malalaman ninyo yan. Pagka-nahulaan yan ah, at sasagot kayo sa akin, aling liver spread ang may uod at anong companya ang gumagawa nyan? Itawag po ninyo sa 433-7549 st 433-7553. Open po an[g] contest na ito sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig. Pipiliin natin ang mananalo, kung tama ang inyong sagot. Ang tanong, aling liver spread sa Pilipinas an[g] may uod? 8 (Emphasis and italics in the original; underscoring supplied)

And respondent wrote in his columns in the tabloids articles which put complainant in bad light. Thus, in the August 31September 6, 2004 issue of Balitang Patas BATAS, he wrote an article captioned "KADIRI ANG CDO LIVER SPREAD!" In another article, he wrote "IBA PANG PRODUKTO NG CDO SILIPIN!"9 which appeared in the same publication in its September 7-13, 2004 issue. And still in the same publication, its September 14-20, 2004 issue, he wrote another article entitled "DAPAT BANG PIGILIN ANG CDO."10 Respondent continued his tirade against complainant in his column LAGING HANDA published in another tabloid, BAGONG TIKTIK, with the following articles:11 (a) "Uod sa liver spread," Setyembre 6, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.276);12(b) "Uod, itinanggi ng CDO," Setyembre 7, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.277);13 (c) "Pagpapatigil sa CDO," Setyembre 8, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.278);14 (d) "Uod sa liver spread kumpirmado," Setyembre 9, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.279);15 (e) "Salaysay ng nakakain ng uod," Setyembre 10, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.280);16 (f) "Kaso VS. CDO itinuloy," Setyembre 11, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.281);17 (g) "Kasong Kidnapping laban sa CDO guards," Setyembre 14, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.284);18 (h) "Brutalidad ng CDO guards," Setyembre 15, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.285);19 (i) "CDO guards pinababanatan sa PNP," Setyembre 17, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.287);20 (j) "May uod na CDO liver spread sa Puregold binili," Setyembre 18, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.288);21 (k) "Desperado na ang CDO," Setyembre 20, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.290);22 (l) "Atty. Rufus Rodriguez pumadrino sa CDO," Setyembre 21, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 291);23 (m) "Kasunduan ng CDO at Pamilya Cordero," Setyembre 22, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 292);24 (n) "Bakit nagbayad ng P50 libo ang CDO," Setyembre 23, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 293).25 In his September 8, 2004 column "Anggulo ng Batas" published in Hataw!, respondent wrote an article "Reaksyon pa sa uod ng CDO Liver Spread."26 And respondent, in several episodes in September 2004 of his television program Kakampi Mo ang Batas aired over UNTV, repeatedly complained of what complainant claimed to be the "same baseless and malicious allegations/issues" against it.27 Complainant thus filed criminal complaints against respondent and several others for Libel and Threatening to Publish Libel under Articles 353 and 356 of the Revised Penal Code before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City and Valenzuela City. The complaints were pending at he time of the filing of the present administrative complaint.28 In the criminal complaints pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, docketed as I.S. Nos. V-042917-2933, respondent filed his Entry of Appearance with Highly Urgent Motion to Elevate These Cases to the Department of Justice,29 alleging: xxxx 2.N. The question here is this: What gives, Honorable (???) Prosecutors of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City? xxxx 2.R. Can an ordinary person like Villarez simply be tossed around, waiting for miracles to happen? 2.S. Why? How much miracle is needed to happen here before this Office would ever act on his complaint? xxxx 8. With a City Prosecutor acting the way he did in the case filed by Villarez, and with an investigating prosecutor virtually kowtowing to the wishes of his boss, the Chief Prosecutor, can Respondents expect justice to be meted to them?

9. With utmost due respect, Respondents have reason to believe that justice would elude them in this Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, not because of the injustice of their cause, but, more importantly, because of the injustice of the system; 10. Couple all of these with reports that many a government office in Valenzuela City had been the willing recipient of too many generosities in the past of the Complainant, and also with reports that a top official of the City had campaigned for his much coveted position in the past distributing products of the Complainant, what would one expect the Respondents to think? 11. Of course, not to be lost sight of here is the attitude and behavior displayed even by mere staff and underlings of this Office to people who dare complain against the Complainant in their respective turfs. Perhaps, top officials of this Office should investigate and ask their associates and relatives incognito to file, even if on a pakunwari basis only, complaints against the Complainant, and they would surely be given the same rough and insulting treatment that Respondent Villarez got when he filed his kidnapping charge here;30 And in a Motion to Dismiss [the case] for Lack of Jurisdiction31 which respondent filed, as counsel for his therein corespondents-staffers of the newspaper Hataw!, before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, respondent alleged: xxxx 5. If the Complainant or its lawyer merely used even a little of whatever is inside their thick skulls, they would have clearly deduced that this Office has no jurisdiction over this action.32 (Emphasis supplied) xxxx Meanwhile, on October 26, 2004, complainant filed a civil case against respondent and several others, docketed as Civil Case No. 249-V-04,33 before the Regional Trial Court, Valenzuela City and raffled to Branch 75 thereof. The pending cases against him and the issuance of a status quo order notwithstanding, respondent continued to publish articles against complainant34 and to malign complainant through his television shows. Acting on the present administrative complaint, the Investigating Commissioner of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) came up with the following findings in his October 5, 2005 Report and Recommendation:35 I. xxxx In Civil Case No. 249-V-04 entitled "Foodsphere, Inc. vs. Atty. [Melanio] Mauricio, et al.", the Order dated 10 December 2004 (Annex O of the Complaint) was issued by Presiding Judge Dionisio C. Sison which in part reads: "Anent the plaintiffs prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order included in the instant plaintiffs motion, this Court, inasmuch as the defendants failed to appear in court or file an opposition thereto, is constrained to GRANT the said plaintiffs prater, as it is GRANTED, in order to maintain STATUS QUO, and that allthe defendants, their agents, representatives or any person acting for and in behalf are hereby restrained/enjoined from further publishing, televising and/or broadcasting any matter subject of the Complaint in the instant case more specifically the imputation of vices and/or defects on plaintiff and its products."

Complainant alleged that the above-quoted Order was served on respondent by the Branch Sheriff on 13 December 2004. Respondent has not denied the issuance of the Order dated 10 December 2004 or his receipt of a copy thereof on 13 December 2004. Despite his receipt of the Order dated 10 December 2004, and the clear directive therein addressed to him to desists [sic] from "further publishing, televising and/or broadcasting any matter subject of the Complaint in the instant case more specifically the imputation of vices and/or defects on plaintiff and its products", respondent in clear defiance of this Order came out with articles on the prohibited subject matter in his column "Atty. Batas", 2004 in the December 16 and 17, 2004 issues of the tabloid "Balitang Bayan Toro" (Annexes Q and Q-1 of the Complaint). The above actuations of respondent are also in violation of Rule 13.03 of the Canon of Professional Responsibilitywhich reads: "A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party." II. xxxx In I.S. No. V.04-2917-2933, then pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, respondent filed his "Entry of Appearance with Highly Urgent Motion to Elevate These Cases To the Department of Justice". In said pleading, respondent made the following statements: xxxx The above language employed by respondent undoubtedly casts aspersions on the integrity of the Office of the City Prosecutor and all the Prosecutors connected with said Office. Respondent clearly assailed the impartiality and fairness of the said Office in handling cases filed before it and did not even design to submit any evidence to substantiate said wild allegations. The use by respondent of the above-quoted language in his pleadings is manifestly violative of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides: "A lawyer [s]hall [o]bserve and [m]aintain [t]he [re]spect [d]ue [t]o [t]he [c]ourts [a]nd [t]o [j]udicial [o]fficers [a]nd [s]hould [i]nsist [o]n [s]imilar [c]onduct [b]y [o]thers." III. The "Kasunduan" entered into by the Spouses Cordero and herein complainant (Annex C of the Complaint) was admittedly prepared, witnessed and signed by herein respondent. xxxx In its Order dated 16 August 2004, the Bureau of Food and Drugs recognized that the said "Kasunduan" was not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order and policy, and this accordingly dismissed the complaint filed by the Spouses Cordero against herein complainant. However, even after the execution of the "Kasunduan" and the consequent dismissal of the complaint of his clients against herein complainant, respondent inexplicably launched a media offensive intended to disparage and put to ridicule herein complainant. On record are the numerous articles of respondent published in 3 tabloids commencing from 31 August to 17 December 2004 (Annexes G to Q-1). As already above-stated, respondent continued to come out with these articles against complainant in his tabloid columns despite a temporary restraining order issued against him expressly prohibiting such actions. Respondent did not deny that he indeed wrote said articles and submitted them for publication in the tabloids.

Respondent claims that he was prompted by his sense of public service, that is, to expose the defects of complainants products to the consuming public. Complainant claims that there is a baser motive to the actions of respondent. Complainant avers that respondent retaliated for complainants failure to give in to respondents "request" that complainant advertise in the tabloids and television programs of respondent. Complainants explanation is more credible. Nevertheless, whatever the true motive of respondent for his barrage of articles against complainant does not detract from the fact that respondent consciously violated the spirit behind the "Kasunduan" which he himself prepared and signed and submitted to the BFAD for approval. Respondent was less than forthright when he prepared said "Kasunduan" and then turned around and proceeded to lambaste complainant for what was supposedly already settled in said agreement. Complainant would have been better of with the BFAD case proceeding as it could have defended itself against the charges of the Spouses Cordero. Complainant was helpless against the attacks of respondent, a media personality. The actuations of respondent constituted, to say the least, deceitful conduct contemplated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.36 (Underscoring supplied) The IBP Board of Governors, by Resolution No. XVIII-2006-114 dated March 20, 2006, adopted the findings and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner to suspend respondent from the practice of law for two years. The Court finds the findings/evaluation of the IBP well-taken. The Court, once again, takes this occasion to emphasize the necessity for every lawyer to act and comport himself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession,37 which confidence may be eroded by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a member of the bar. By the above-recited acts, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates lawyers to refrain from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. For, as the IBP found, he engaged in deceitful conduct by, inter alia, taking advantage of the complaint against CDO to advance his interest to obtain funds for his Batas Foundation and seek sponsorships and advertisements for the tabloids and his television program. He also violated Rule 13.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates: A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party. For despite the pendency of the civil case against him and the issuance of a status quo order restraining/enjoining further publishing, televising and broadcasting of any matter relative to the complaint of CDO, respondent continued with his attacks against complainant and its products. At the same time, respondent violated Canon 1 also of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates lawyers to "uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes." For he defied said status quo order, despite his (respondents) oath as a member of the legal profession to "obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities." Further, respondent violated Canon 8 and Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandate, viz: CANON 8 - A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. Rule 8.01 A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper, by using intemperate language. Apropos is the following reminder in Saberon v. Larong:38 To be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted members of the bar to use strong language in pursuit of their duty to advance the interests of their clients.

However, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive.1awphi1 On many occasions, the Court has reminded members of the Bar to abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor and reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged. In keeping with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyers language even in his pleadings must be dignified.39 (Underscoring supplied) By failing to live up to his oath and to comply with the exacting standards of the legal profession, respondent alsoviolated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which directs a lawyer to "at all times uphold the integrity and the dignity of the legal profession."401avvph!1 The power of the media to form or influence public opinion cannot be underestimated. In Dalisay v. Mauricio, Jr.,41the therein complainant engaged therein-herein respondents services as "she was impressed by the pro-poor and pro-justice advocacy of respondent, a media personality,"42 only to later find out that after he demanded and the therein complainant paid an exorbitant fee, no action was taken nor any pleadings prepared by him. Respondent was suspended for six months. On reading the articles respondent published, not to mention listening to him over the radio and watching him on television, it cannot be gainsaid that the same could, to a certain extent, have affected the sales of complainant. Back to Dalisay, this Court, in denying therein-herein respondents motion for reconsideration, took note of the fact that respondent was motivated by vindictiveness when he filed falsification charges against the therein complainant.43 To the Court, suspension of respondent from the practice of law for three years is, in the premises, sufficient. WHEREFORE, Atty. Melanio Mauricio is, for violation of the lawyers oath and breach of ethics of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility, SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three years effective upon his receipt of this Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this Decision be attached to his personal record and copies furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION A.C. No. 7434 August 23, 2007

SPS. AMADOR and ROSITA TEJADA, Petitioners, vs. ATTY. ANTONIUTTI K. PALAA, Respondent. DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.: Petitioners-spouses Rosita and Amador Tejada filed a Complaint Affidavit before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to initiate disbarment proceedings against respondent Atty. Antoniutti K. Palaa for his continued refusal to settle his long overdue loan obligation to the complainants, in violation of his sworn duty as a lawyer to do justice to every man and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. More specifically, the complaint alleges that: 3. Sometime on January, 2001, respondent lawyer Antoniutti K. Palana taking advantage of his special knowledge as a lawyer represented to the petitioners that he has an alleged parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. (73196) 16789 and that he needs an amount of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) so that he could reconstitute the torrens title on the same; 4. Respondent then induced by sweet promises and assurances petitioners spouses to finance such undertaking with a solemn commitment on his part that after he has already reconstituted such torrens title, he will deliver the same to the petitioners spouses as security for the amount they had financed; Thereafter, petitioner spouses shall earn an amount of P70,000.00 from the P100,000.00 they had financed or all and [sic] all, respondent lawyer shall pay petitioner spouses a total amount of P170,000.00; 5. The agreement between the petitioner spouses and respondent lawyer, Antoniutti K. Palana in this regard is being partly evidenced by their written agreement thereon dated January 12, 2001, a xerox copy of which is hereto attached as Annex "A". Likewise, the receipt by the respondent of the P100,000.00 is being evidenced in the bottom part of page 1 of the agreement; 6. Under the clear terms of their agreement, respondent lawyer Antoniutti K. Palana solemnly assured petitioner spouses that he will reconstitute, deliver the reconstituted title and give the P170,000.00 to the petitioners spouses all within a period of three months reckoned from their execution of their written agreement dated January 12, 2001; 7. However, after respondent lawyer, Antoniutti K. Palana had gotten the P100,000.00 amount from the petitioner spouses, respondent from that time on up to the present had intentionally evaded the performance of his due, just, legal and demandable obligations to petitioner spouses. It turned out that all his assurances that he had a torrens title, he will reconstitute the same and deliver an amount of P170,000.00 to petitioner spouses were all fraudulent representations on his part or else were only fictitious in character to defraud petitioner spouses of their hard owned monies; xxxx 9. Legal demands had already been made to respondent lawyer to fulfill all his moral and legal responsibilities to petitioner spouses but all of said demands simply went unheeded. A xerox copy of the two legal demand letters to respondent lawyer in this regard is hereto attached as Annex "B" and "C."1 Despite due notice, respondent failed to file his answer to the complaint as required by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP. Respondent likewise failed to appear on the scheduled date of the mandatory conference despite due notice. Thus, on March 10, 2005, the IBP declared respondent to have waived his right to submit evidence and to participate further in the proceedings of the case.

After a careful consideration of the pleadings and evidence submitted by the complainants ex parte, Investigating Commissioner Elpidio G. Soriano III submitted his February 1, 2006 Report to the IBP Board of Governors, recommending respondent's suspension from the practice of law for three (3) months. Based on said Report, petitioners were able to satisfactorily prove the following: that Rosita Tejada and respondent and his companion executed a written agreement (Annex "A"); that respondent received the amount of one hundred thousand pesos (PhP 100,000) from Rosita Tejada pursuant to said agreement; and that petitioners sent a demand letter to respondent (Annex "C"), but, until now, respondent has failed to settle his obligation. Petitioners, however, failed to present evidence to show that respondent fraudulently represented himself to be the owner of the aforesaid lot. Noting respondents indifference to the proceedings of the case, the Investigating Commissioner cited Ngayan v. Tugade,2 where the Supreme Court considered respondents failure to answer the complaint and his failure to appear in four hearings below as evidence of his flouting resistance to a lawful order of the court, and illustrate his despiciency to his oath of office in violation of Section 3, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Thus, for respondents misconduct, the Investigating Commissioner recommended respondents suspension for a period of three (3) months, guided by Supreme Court rulings in analogous cases, viz: Sanchez v. Somoso,3 where the lawyer was suspended for six (6) months for having issued personal checks from a closed bank account and subsequently refused to pay for his medical expenses despite demand after the checks were dishonored; Constantino v. Saludares,4 where the lawyer was suspended for three (3) months for his unwarranted refusal to pay a personal loan despite demand; and Lizaso v. Amante,5 where the lawyer was suspended indefinitely for his failure to return and account for the money delivered to him for investment purposes.6 In its November 18, 2006 Resolution, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved said report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, "considering Respondent's continued refusal to settle his obligation to the complainants and for his failure to participate in the proceedings before the Commission of Bar Discipline."7 After a review of the records and especially sans the submittal of any response or evidence from respondent, we find no reason to disturb the findings of Commissioner Soriano. Respondent, like all other members of the bar, is expected to always live up to the standards embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly the following Canons, viz: CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and for legal processes. Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Rule 1.02 A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. CANON 7 A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar. Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. A high sense of morality, honesty, and fair dealing is expected and required of a member of the bar. Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that "a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." The nature of the office of a lawyer requires that s/he shall be of good moral character. This qualification is not only a condition precedent to the admission to the legal profession, but its continued possession is essential to maintain ones good standing in the profession.8

Indeed, the strength of the legal profession lies in the dignity and integrity of its members. As previously explained in SipinNabor v. Baterina: A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession.1avvphi1 The trust and confidence necessarily reposed by clients requires in the attorney a high standard and appreciation of his duty to his clients, his profession, the courts and the public. The bar must maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing. Generally speaking, a lawyer can do honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. To this end, members of the legal fraternity can do nothing that might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of the profession.9 In the instant case, respondents unjustified withholding of petitioners money years after it became due and demandable demonstrates his lack of integrity and fairness, and this is further highlighted by his lack of regard for the charges brought against him. Instead of meeting the charges head on, respondent did not bother to file an answer nor did he participate in the proceedings to offer a valid explanation for his conduct. The Court has emphatically stated that when the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that s/he denies the charges against him; s/he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him/her. S/he must show proof that s/he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is expected of him/her.10 Finally, respondents acts, which violated the Lawyer's Oath "to delay no man for money or malice" as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility, warrant the imposition of disciplinary sanctions against him. With respect to the recommendation to suspend respondent Palaa for three (3) months, we find that the sanction is not commensurate to the breach committed and disrespect to the Court exhibited by the erring member of the bar. We increase the suspension to six (6) months in view of our ruling in Barrientos v. Libiran-Meteoro.11 We find that the complainants could not have been defrauded without the representations of respondent that he can easily have the torrens title of his lot reconstituted with his special knowledge as a legal practitioner as long as he is provided PhP 100,000 to finance the reconstitution. Respondent knew that his representations were false since the filing fee for a petition for reconstitution in 2001 was only PhP 3,145, and other expenses including the publication of the filing of the petition could not have cost more than PhP 20,000. It is clear that he employed deceit in convincing complainants to part with their hard earned money and the latter could not have been easily swayed to lend the money were it not for his misrepresentations and failed promises as a member of the bar. Moreover, when he failed to pay his just and legal obligation, he disobeyed the provisions of the Civil Code which is one of the substantive laws he vowed to uphold when he took his oath as a lawyer. Lastly, to aggravate his misconduct, he totally ignored the directives of the IBP to answer the complaint when he fully knew as a lawyer that the compulsory bar organization was merely deputized by this Court to undertake the investigation of complaints against lawyers, among which is the instant complaint. In short, his disobedience to the IBP is in reality a gross and blatant disrespect to the Court. Lawyers fully know, as respondent is aware or at least is assumed to know, that lawyers like him cannot disobey the orders and resolutions of the Court. Failing in this duty as a member of the bar which is being supervised by the Court under the Constitution, we find that a heavier sanction should fall on respondent. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Antoniutti K. Palaa is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months and is ordered to settle his loan obligation to petitioners-spouses Amador and Rosita Tejada within two (2) months from the date of this Decisions promulgation. This Decision is immediately executory. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT SECOND DIVISION A.C. No. 6396 October 25, 2005 ROSALIE DALLONG-GALICINAO, Complainant, vs. ATTY. VIRGIL R. CASTRO, Respondent. RESOLUTION Tinga, J.: This administrative case concerns a lawyer who hurled invectives at a Clerk of Court. Members of the bar decorum must at all times comfort themselves in a manner befitting their noble profession. Complainant Atty. Rosalie Dallong-Galicinao is the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya. On 8 May 2003, she filed with the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) a Complaint-Affidavit1 with supporting documents2 against respondent Atty. Virgil R. Castro for Unprofessional Conduct, specifically violation of Canon 7, Rule 7.03, Canon 8 and Rule 8.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.3 The charge in the complaint is summed up as follows: Respondent Atty. Castro was a private practitioner and Vice-President of IBP-Nueva Vizcaya Chapter. On 5 May 2003, respondent went to complainants office to inquire whether the complete records of Civil Case No. 784, entitled Sps. Crispino Castillano v. Sps. Federico S. Castillano and Felicidad Aberin, had already been remanded to the court of origin, MCTC Dupax del Norte, Alfonso Castaned, Nueva Vizcaya. It must be noted that respondent was not the counsel of record of either party in Civil Case No. 784. Complainant informed respondent that the record had not yet been transmitted since a certified true copy of the decision of the Court of Appeals should first be presented to serve as basis for the transmittal of the records to the court of origin. To this respondent retorted scornfully, "Who will certify the Court of Appeals Decision, the Court of Appeals? You mean to say, I would still have to go to Manila to get a certified true copy?" Surprised at this outburst, complainant replied, "Sir, its in the Rules but you could show us the copy sent to the party you claim to be representing." Respondent then replied, "Then you should have notified me of the said requirement. That was two weeks ago and I have been frequenting your office since then, but you never bothered to notify me." Complainant replied, "It is not our duty, Sir, to notify you of the said requirement." Respondent then answered, "You mean to say it is not your duty to remand the record of the case?" Complainant responded, "No, Sir, I mean, its not our duty to notify you that you have to submit a copy of the Court of Appeals decision." Respondent angrily declared in Ilocano, "Kayat mo nga saw-en, awan pakialam yon? Kasdiay?" ("You mean to say you dont care anymore? Is that the way it is?") He then turned and left the office, banging the door on his way out to show his anger. The banging of the door was so loud it was heard by the people at the adjacent RTC, Branch 30 where a hearing was taking place.4 After a few minutes, respondent returned to the office, still enraged, and pointed his finger at complainant and shouted, "Ukinnan, no adda ti unget mo iti kilientek haan mo nga ibales kaniak ah!" ("Vulva of your mother! If you are harboring ill feelings against my client, dont turn your ire on me!") Complainant was shocked at respondents words but still managed to reply, "I dont even know your client, Sir." Respondent left the office and as he passed by complainants window, he again shouted, "Ukinnam nga babai!" ("Vulva of your mother, you woman!")5

Complainant suffered acute embarrassment at the incident, as it happened in her office of which she was, and still is, the head and in front of her staff. She felt that her credibility had been tarnished and diminished, eliciting doubt on her ability to command full respect from her staff.6 The Complaint-Affidavit, filed three days after the incident, was supported by an Affidavit7 signed by employees of RTCBambang, Nueva Vizcaya who witnessed the incident. The Affidavit narrated the same incident as witnessed by the said employees. A Motion to File Additional Affidavit/Documentary Evidence was filed by complainant on 25 September 2003.8 On 26 May 2003, the CBD-IBP issued an Order9 requiring respondent to submit his answer to the complaint. Respondent submitted his Compliance10 dated 18 June 2003. Respondent explained that he was counsel for the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 847, entitled Sps. Federico Castillano, et al. v. Sps. Crispin Castillano, et al., filed with the RTC of Nueva Vizcaya, Branch 30. He learned of the finality of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 64962 with respect to Civil Case No. 847 before the lower court. Prior to the incident, he went to the office of the complainant to request for the transmittal of the records of the case to the MCTC and the complainant reassured him of the same. Respondent admits having inquired about the status of the transmittal of the records on 5 May 2003. However, he has no explanation as to what transpired on that day. Instead, he narrates that on 25 May 2003, twelve days after the incident, the records had not yet been transmitted, and he subsequently learned that these records were returned to the court of origin. The hearing for the administrative complaint before the CBD was set on 25 September 2003 by the Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan. However, on said date, only complainant appeared. The latter also moved that the case be submitted for resolution.11 Respondent later on filed a Manifestation stating that the reason for his nonappearance was because he was still recuperating from physical injuries and that he was not mentally fit to prepare the required pleadings as his vehicle was rained with bullets on 19 August 2003. He also expressed his public apology to the complainant in the same Manifestation.12 Complainant filed a Manifestation expressing her desire not to appear on the next hearing date in view of respondents public apology, adding that respondent personally and humbly asked for forgiveness which she accepted.13 The Investigating Commissioner recommended that respondent be reprimanded and warned that any other complaint for breach of his professional duties shall be dealt with more severely.14 The IBP submitted to this Court a Notice of Resolution adopting and approving the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.15 At the onset, it should be noted that respondent was not the counsel of record of Civil Case No. 784. Had he been counsel of record, it would have been easy for him to present the required certified true copy of the decision of the Court of Appeals. He need not have gone to Manila to procure a certified true copy of the decision since the Court of Appeals furnishes the parties and their counsel of record a duplicate original or certified true copy of its decision. His explanation that he will enter his appearance in the case when its records were already transmitted to the MCTC is unacceptable. Not being the counsel of record and there being no authorization from either the parties to represent them, respondent had no right to impose his will on the clerk of court. Rule 8.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states: Rule 8.02A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, encroach upon the professional employment of another lawyer; however, it is the right of any lawyer, without fear or favor, to give proper advice and assistance to those seeking relief against unfaithful or neglectful counsel. Through his acts of constantly checking the transmittal of the records of Civil Case No. 784, respondent deliberately encroached upon the legal functions of the counsel of record of that case. It does not matter whether he did so in good faith.

Moreover, in the course of his questionable activities relating to Civil Case No. 784, respondent acted rudely towards an officer of the court. He raised his voice at the clerk of court and uttered at her the most vulgar of invectives. Not only was it ill-mannered but also unbecoming considering that he did all these to a woman and in front of her subordinates. As held in Alcantara v. Atty. Pefianco,16 respondent ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior can only bring down the legal profession in the public estimation and erode public respect for it.17 These acts violate Rule 7.03, Canon 8 and Rule 8.01, to wit: Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law, now shall he, whether in public or private life behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. Canon 8 A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. Rule 8.01 A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper. Moreover, Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility demands that lawyers conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor toward their fellow lawyers. Lawyers are duty bound to uphold the dignity of the legal profession. They must act honorably, fairly and candidly towards each other and otherwise conduct themselves without reproach at all times.18 As correctly evaluated by the Investigating Commissioner, respondent did not categorically deny the charges in the complaint. Instead, he gave a lengthy narration of the prefatory facts of the case as well as of the incident on 5 May 2003. Complainant also alleged in her Complaint-Affidavit that respondents uncharacteristic behavior was not an isolated incident. He has supposedly done the same to Attys. Abraham Johnny G. Asuncion and Temmy Lambino, the latter having filed a case against respondent pending before this Court.19 We, however, cannot acknowledge such allegation absent any evidence showing the veracity of such claim. No affidavits to that effect were submitted by either Atty. Asuncion or Atty. Lambino. Nonetheless, the penalty to be imposed should be tempered owing to the fact that respondent had apologized to the complainant and the latter had accepted it. This is not to say, however, that respondent should be absolved from his actuations. People are accountable for the consequences of the things they say and do even if they repent afterwards. The fact remains that things done cannot be undone and words uttered cannot be taken back. Hence, he should bear the consequences of his actions. The highest reward that can be bestowed on lawyers is the esteem of their brethren. This esteem cannot be purchased, perfunctorily created, or gained by artifice or contrivance. It is born of sharp contexts and thrives despite conflicting interest. It emanates solely from integrity, character, brains and skills in the honorable performance of professional duty.20 WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent is hereby FINED in the amount of TEN THOUSAND (P10,000.00) PESOS with a warning that any similar infraction with be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Bar Confidant for appropriate annotation in the record of the respondent. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION A.C. No. 5768 March 26, 2010

ATTY. BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR., Complainant, vs. ATTY. EDWIN Z. FERRER, SR., Respondent. DECISION ABAD, J.: This administrative case concerns a lawyer who is claimed to have hurled invectives upon another lawyer and filed a baseless suit against him. The Facts and the Case On January 11, 2001 complainant Atty. Bonifacio T. Barandon, Jr. filed a complaint-affidavit1 with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) seeking the disbarment, suspension from the practice of law, or imposition of appropriate disciplinary action against respondent Atty. Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. for the following offenses: 1. On November 22, 2000 Atty. Ferrer, as plaintiffs counsel in Civil Case 7040, filed a reply with opposition to motion to dismiss that contained abusive, offensive, and improper language which insinuated that Atty. Barandon presented a falsified document in court. 2. Atty. Ferrer filed a fabricated charge against Atty. Barandon in Civil Case 7040 for alleged falsification of public document when the document allegedly falsified was a notarized document executed on February 23, 1994, at a date when Atty. Barandon was not yet a lawyer nor was assigned in Camarines Norte. The latter was not even a signatory to the document. 3. On December 19, 2000, at the courtroom of Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Daet before the start of hearing, Atty. Ferrer, evidently drunk, threatened Atty. Barandon saying, "Laban kung laban, patayan kung patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na palang magaling na abogado sa Camarines Norte, ang abogado na rito ay mga taga-Camarines Sur, umuwi na kayo sa Camarines Sur, hindi kayo taga-rito." 4. Atty. Ferrer made his accusation of falsification of public document without bothering to check the copy with the Office of the Clerk of Court and, with gross ignorance of the law, failed to consider that a notarized document is presumed to be genuine and authentic until proven otherwise. 5. The Court had warned Atty. Ferrer in his first disbarment case against repeating his unethical act; yet he faces a disbarment charge for sexual harassment of an office secretary of the IBP Chapter in Camarines Norte; a related criminal case for acts of lasciviousness; and criminal cases for libel and grave threats that Atty. Barandon filed against him. In October 2000, Atty. Ferrer asked Atty. Barandon to falsify the daily time record of his son who worked with the Commission on Settlement of Land Problems, Department of Justice. When Atty. Barandon declined, Atty. Ferrer repeatedly harassed him with inflammatory language. Atty. Ferrer raised the following defenses in his answer with motion to dismiss:

1. Instead of having the alleged forged document submitted for examination, Atty. Barandon filed charges of libel and grave threats against him. These charges came about because Atty. Ferrers clients filed a case for falsification of public document against Atty. Barandon. 2. The offended party in the falsification case, Imelda Palatolon, vouchsafed that her thumbmark in the waiver document had been falsified. 3. At the time Atty. Ferrer allegedly uttered the threatening remarks against Atty. Barandon, the MTC Daet was already in session. It was improbable that the court did not take steps to stop, admonish, or cite Atty. Ferrer in direct contempt for his behavior. 4. Atty. Barandon presented no evidence in support of his allegations that Atty. Ferrer was drunk on December 19, 2000 and that he degraded the law profession. The latter had received various citations that speak well of his character. 5. The cases of libel and grave threats that Atty. Barandon filed against Atty. Ferrer were still pending. Their mere filing did not make the latter guilty of the charges. Atty. Barandon was forum shopping when he filed this disbarment case since it referred to the same libel and grave threats subject of the criminal cases. In his reply affidavit,2 Atty. Barandon brought up a sixth ground for disbarment. He alleged that on December 29, 2000 at about 1:30 p.m., while Atty. Ferrer was on board his sons taxi, it figured in a collision with a tricycle, resulting in serious injuries to the tricycles passengers.3 But neither Atty. Ferrer nor any of his co-passengers helped the victims and, during the police investigation, he denied knowing the taxi driver and blamed the tricycle driver for being drunk. Atty. Ferrer also prevented an eyewitness from reporting the accident to the authorities.4 Atty. Barandon claimed that the falsification case against him had already been dismissed. He belittled the citations Atty. Ferrer allegedly received. On the contrary, in its Resolution 00-1,5 the IBP-Camarines Norte Chapter opposed his application to serve as judge of the MTC of Mercedes, Camarines Sur, on the ground that he did not have "the qualifications, integrity, intelligence, industry and character of a trial judge" and that he was facing a criminal charge for acts of lasciviousness and a disbarment case filed by an employee of the same IBP chapter. On October 10, 2001 Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan of the IBP-CBD submitted to this Court a Report, recommending the suspension for two years of Atty. Ferrer. The Investigating Commissioner found enough evidence on record to prove Atty. Ferrers violation of Canons 8.01 and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He attributed to Atty. Barandon, as counsel in Civil Case 7040, the falsification of the plaintiffs affidavit despite the absence of evidence that the document had in fact been falsified and that Atty. Barandon was a party to it. The Investigating Commissioner also found that Atty. Ferrer uttered the threatening remarks imputed to him in the presence of other counsels, court personnel, and litigants before the start of hearing. On June 29, 2002 the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution XV-2002-225,6 adopting and approving the Investigating Commissioners recommendation but reduced the penalty of suspension to only one year. Atty. Ferrer filed a motion for reconsideration but the Board denied it in its Resolution7 of October 19, 2002 on the ground that it had already endorsed the matter to the Supreme Court. On February 5, 2003, however, the Court referred back the case to the IBP for resolution of Atty. Ferrers motion for reconsideration.8 On May 22, 2008 the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation9 of the Investigating Commissioner that denied Atty. Ferrers motion for reconsideration.10 On February 17, 2009, Atty. Ferrer filed a Comment on Board of Governors IBP Notice of Resolution No. XVIII-2008.11 On August 12, 2009 the Court resolved to treat Atty. Ferrers comment as a petition for review under Rule 139 of the Revised Rules of Court. Atty. Barandon filed his comment,12 reiterating his arguments before the IBP. Further, he presented certified copies of orders issued by courts in Camarines Norte that warned Atty. Ferrer against appearing in court drunk.13

The Issues Presented The issues presented in this case are: 1. Whether or not the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP Investigating Commissioner erred in finding respondent Atty. Ferrer guilty of the charges against him; and 2. If in the affirmative, whether or not the penalty imposed on him is justified. The Courts Ruling We have examined the records of this case and find no reason to disagree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors and the Investigating Commissioner. The practice of law is a privilege given to lawyers who meet the high standards of legal proficiency and morality. Any violation of these standards exposes the lawyer to administrative liability.14 Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility commands all lawyers to conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor towards their fellow lawyers and avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. Specifically, in Rule 8.01, the Code provides: Rule 8.01. A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper. Atty. Ferrers actions do not measure up to this Canon. The evidence shows that he imputed to Atty. Barandon the falsification of the Salaysay Affidavit of the plaintiff in Civil Case 7040. He made this imputation with pure malice for he had no evidence that the affidavit had been falsified and that Atty. Barandon authored the same. Moreover, Atty. Ferrer could have aired his charge of falsification in a proper forum and without using offensive and abusive language against a fellow lawyer. To quote portions of what he said in his reply with motion to dismiss: 1. That the answer is fraught with grave and culpable misrepresentation and "FALSIFICATION" of documents, committed to mislead this Honorable Court, but with concomitant grave responsibility of counsel for Defendants, for distortion and serious misrepresentation to the court, for presenting a grossly "FALSIFIED" document, in violation of his oath of office as a government employee and as member of the Bar, for the reason, that, Plaintiff, IMELDA PALATOLON, has never executed the "SALAYSAY AFFIDAVIT", wherein her fingerprint has been falsified, in view whereof, hereby DENY the same including the affirmative defenses, there being no knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth of the same, from pars. (1) to par. (15) which are all lies and mere fabrications, sufficient ground for "DISBARMENT" of the one responsible for said falsification and distortions."15 The Court has constantly reminded lawyers to use dignified language in their pleadings despite the adversarial nature of our legal system.16 Atty. Ferrer had likewise violated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which enjoins lawyers to uphold the dignity and integrity of the legal profession at all times. Rule 7.03 of the Code provides: Rule 7.03. A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. Several disinterested persons confirmed Atty. Ferrers drunken invectives at Atty. Barandon shortly before the start of a court hearing. Atty. Ferrer did not present convincing evidence to support his denial of this particular charge. He merely

presented a certification from the police that its blotter for the day did not report the threat he supposedly made. Atty. Barandon presented, however, the police blotter on a subsequent date that recorded his complaint against Atty. Ferrer. Atty. Ferrer said, "Laban kung laban, patayan kung patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na palang magaling na abogado sa Camarines Norte, ang abogado na rito ay mga taga-Camarines Sur, umuwi na kayo sa Camarines Sur, hindi kayo taga-rito." Evidently, he uttered these with intent to annoy, humiliate, incriminate, and discredit Atty. Barandon in the presence of lawyers, court personnel, and litigants waiting for the start of hearing in court. These language is unbecoming a member of the legal profession. The Court cannot countenance it. Though a lawyers language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of judicial forum.17 Atty. Ferrer ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior can only bring down the legal profession in the public estimation and erode public respect for it. Whatever moral righteousness Atty. Ferrer had was negated by the way he chose to express his indignation.1avvphi1 Contrary to Atty. Ferrers allegation, the Court finds that he has been accorded due process. The essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit any evidence one may have in support of ones defense.18 So long as the parties are given the opportunity to explain their side, the requirements of due process are satisfactorily complied with.19 Here, the IBP Investigating Commissioner gave Atty. Ferrer all the opportunities to file countless pleadings and refute all the allegations of Atty. Barandon. All lawyers should take heed that they are licensed officers of the courts who are mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession, hence they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly.20 Atty. Ferrers display of improper attitude, arrogance, misbehavior, and misconduct in the performance of his duties both as a lawyer and officer of the court, before the public and the court, was a patent transgression of the very ethics that lawyers are sworn to uphold. ACCORDINGLY, the Court AFFIRMS the May 22, 2008 Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors in CBD Case 01-809 and ORDERS the suspension of Atty. Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. from the practice of law for one year effective upon his receipt of this Decision. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in Atty. Ferrers personal record as an attorney with the Office of the Bar Confidant and a copy of the same be served to the IBP and to the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all the courts in the land. SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION A.C. No. 6672 September 4, 2009

PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, Complainant, vs. ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO, Respondent. RESOLUTION CORONA, J.:

This is a complaint for disbarment1 filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services. Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients2 to transfer legal representation. Respondent promised them financial assistance3 and expeditious collection on their claims.4 To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them and sent them text messages. To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit5 of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000. Complainant also attached "respondents" calling card:6 Front

NICOMEDES TOLENTINO LAW OFFFICE CONSULTANCY & W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE Fe Paralegal Marie MARITIME L. SERVICES Labiano

1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01 6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar Grace Park, Caloocan City Back

Tel: 362-7820 Fax: (632) 362-7821 Cel.: (0926) 2701719

SERVICES OFFERED: CONSULTATION AND TO OVERSEAS REPATRIATED DUE TO INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, AND INSURANCE BENEFIT ABROAD. 1avvphi1 ASSISTANCE SEAMEN ACCIDENT, DEATH CLAIMS

(emphasis supplied)

Hence, this complaint. Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the said calling card.7 The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.8 Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and recommendation,9 found that respondent had encroached on the professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.0210 and other canons11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he contravened the rule against soliciting cases for gain, personally or through paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 13812 of the Rules of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be reprimanded with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a heavier penalty. We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent but we modify the recommended penalty. The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent into complainants professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said misconduct themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules. Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the manner by which a lawyers services are to be made known. Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides: CANON 3 - A lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts. Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares.13 To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession in the publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is called.14 Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides: RULE 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business. Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers.15 Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.16 Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides: RULE 1.03. A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any mans cause. This rule proscribes "ambulance chasing" (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in order to gain employment)17 as a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty.18 Complainant presented substantial evidence19 (consisting of the sworn statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal business as well as profited from referrals suits. Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he later admitted it during the mandatory hearing.

Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the strength of Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result. Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.1avvphi1 With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers client nor induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services.20 Again the Court notes that respondent never denied having these seafarers in his client list nor receiving benefits from Labianos "referrals." Furthermore, he never denied Labianos connection to his office.21 Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into anothers legal practice. He cannot escape liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR. Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04: Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client. The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is handling for the client. The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so that the free exercise of his judgment may not be adversely affected.22 It seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his entire devotion and fidelity to the clients cause. If the lawyer lends money to the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in effect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the case or an additional stake in its outcome.23 Either of these circumstances may lead the lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client, or to accept a settlement which may take care of his interest in the verdict to the prejudice of the client in violation of his duty of undivided fidelity to the clients cause.24 As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice25 which calls for the exercise of the Courts disciplinary powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining employment.26 Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession. Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the prohibition on lending money to clients), the sanction recommended by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed penalty is grossly incommensurate to its findings. A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyers best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and conduct.27 For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional cards. Professional calling cards may only contain the following details: (a) lawyers name; (b) name of the law firm with which he is connected; (c) address;

(d) telephone number and (e) special branch of law practiced.28 Labianos calling card contained the phrase "with financial assistance." The phrase was clearly used to entice clients (who already had representation) to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance their legal actions. Money was dangled to lure clients away from their original lawyers, thereby taking advantage of their financial distress and emotional vulnerability. This crass commercialism degraded the integrity of the bar and deserved no place in the legal profession. However, in the absence of substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly responsible for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling cards. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is hereby SUSPENDEDfrom the practice of law for a period of one year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He isSTERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator to be circulated to all courts.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION A.C. No. 6672 September 4, 2009

PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, Complainant, vs. ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO, Respondent. RESOLUTION CORONA, J.: This is a complaint for disbarment1 filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services. Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients2 to transfer legal representation. Respondent promised them financial assistance3 and expeditious collection on their claims.4 To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them and sent them text messages. To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit5 of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000. Complainant also attached "respondents" calling card:6 Front

NICOMEDES TOLENTINO LAW OFFFICE CONSULTANCY & W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE Fe Paralegal Marie MARITIME L. SERVICES Labiano

1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01 6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar Grace Park, Caloocan City Back

Tel: 362-7820 Fax: (632) 362-7821 Cel.: (0926) 2701719

SERVICES OFFERED: CONSULTATION AND TO OVERSEAS REPATRIATED DUE TO INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, AND INSURANCE BENEFIT ABROAD. 1avvphi1 ASSISTANCE SEAMEN ACCIDENT, DEATH CLAIMS

(emphasis supplied) Hence, this complaint. Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the said calling card.7 The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.8 Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and recommendation,9 found that respondent had encroached on the professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.0210 and other canons11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he contravened the rule against soliciting cases for gain, personally or through paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 13812 of the Rules of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be reprimanded with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a heavier penalty.

We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent but we modify the recommended penalty. The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent into complainants professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said misconduct themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules. Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the manner by which a lawyers services are to be made known. Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides: CANON 3 - A lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts. Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares.13 To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession in the publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is called.14 Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides: RULE 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business. Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers.15 Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.16 Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides: RULE 1.03. A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any mans cause. This rule proscribes "ambulance chasing" (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in order to gain employment)17 as a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty.18 Complainant presented substantial evidence19 (consisting of the sworn statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal business as well as profited from referrals suits. Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he later admitted it during the mandatory hearing. Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the strength of Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result. Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.1avvphi1 With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers client nor induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services.20 Again the Court notes that respondent never denied having these seafarers in his client list nor receiving benefits from Labianos "referrals." Furthermore, he never denied Labianos connection to his office.21 Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into anothers legal practice. He cannot escape liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR.

Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04: Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client. The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is handling for the client. The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so that the free exercise of his judgment may not be adversely affected.22 It seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his entire devotion and fidelity to the clients cause. If the lawyer lends money to the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in effect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the case or an additional stake in its outcome.23 Either of these circumstances may lead the lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client, or to accept a settlement which may take care of his interest in the verdict to the prejudice of the client in violation of his duty of undivided fidelity to the clients cause.24 As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice25 which calls for the exercise of the Courts disciplinary powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining employment.26 Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession. Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the prohibition on lending money to clients), the sanction recommended by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed penalty is grossly incommensurate to its findings. A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyers best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and conduct.27 For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional cards. Professional calling cards may only contain the following details: (a) lawyers name; (b) name of the law firm with which he is connected; (c) address; (d) telephone number and (e) special branch of law practiced.28 Labianos calling card contained the phrase "with financial assistance." The phrase was clearly used to entice clients (who already had representation) to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance their legal actions. Money was dangled to lure clients away from their original lawyers, thereby taking advantage of their financial distress and emotional vulnerability. This crass commercialism degraded the integrity of the bar and deserved no place in the legal profession. However, in the absence of substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly responsible for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling cards.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is hereby SUSPENDEDfrom the practice of law for a period of one year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He isSTERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator to be circulated to all courts.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION A.C. No. 7399 August 25, 2009

ANTERO J. POBRE, Complainant, vs. Sen. MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO, Respondent. DECISION VELASCO, JR., J.: In his sworn letter/complaint dated December 22, 2006, with enclosures, Antero J. Pobre invites the Courts attention to the following excerpts of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiagos speech delivered on the Senate floor: x x x I am not angry. I am irate. I am foaming in the mouth. I am homicidal. I am suicidal. I am humiliated, debased, degraded. And I am not only that, I feel like throwing up to be living my middle years in a country of this nature. I am nauseated. I spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested in the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded by idiots. I would rather be in another environment but not in the Supreme Court of idiots x x x. To Pobre, the foregoing statements reflected a total disrespect on the part of the speaker towards then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and the other members of the Court and constituted direct contempt of court. Accordingly, Pobre asks that disbarment proceedings or other disciplinary actions be taken against the lady senator. In her comment on the complaint dated April 25, 2007, Senator Santiago, through counsel, does not deny making the aforequoted statements. She, however, explained that those statements were covered by the constitutional provision on parliamentary immunity, being part of a speech she delivered in the discharge of her duty as member of Congress or its committee. The purpose of her speech, according to her, was to bring out in the open controversial anomalies in governance with a view to future remedial legislation. She averred that she wanted to expose what she believed "to be an unjust act of the Judicial Bar Council [JBC]," which, after sending out public invitations for nomination to the soon to-be vacated position of Chief Justice, would eventually inform applicants that only incumbent justices of the Supreme Court would qualify for nomination. She felt that the JBC should have at least given an advanced advisory that non-sitting members of the Court, like her, would not be considered for the position of Chief Justice.

The immunity Senator Santiago claims is rooted primarily on the provision of Article VI, Section 11 of the Constitution, which provides: "A Senator or Member of the House of Representative shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session.No member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof." Explaining the import of the underscored portion of the provision, the Court, in Osmea, Jr. v. Pendatun, said: Our Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity which is a fundamental privilege cherished in every legislative assembly of the democratic world. As old as the English Parliament, its purpose "is to enable and encourage a representative of the public to discharge his public trust with firmness and success" for "it is indispensably necessary that he should enjoy the fullest liberty of speech and that he should be protected from resentment of every one, however, powerful, to whom the exercise of that liberty may occasion offense."1 As American jurisprudence puts it, this legislative privilege is founded upon long experience and arises as a means of perpetuating inviolate the functioning process of the legislative department. Without parliamentary immunity, parliament, or its equivalent, would degenerate into a polite and ineffective debating forum. Legislators are immune from deterrents to the uninhibited discharge of their legislative duties, not for their private indulgence, but for the public good. The privilege would be of little value if they could be subjected to the cost and inconvenience and distractions of a trial upon a conclusion of the pleader, or to the hazard of a judgment against them based upon a judges speculation as to the motives.2 This Court is aware of the need and has in fact been in the forefront in upholding the institution of parliamentary immunity and promotion of free speech. Neither has the Court lost sight of the importance of the legislative and oversight functions of the Congress that enable this representative body to look diligently into every affair of government, investigate and denounce anomalies, and talk about how the country and its citizens are being served. Courts do not interfere with the legislature or its members in the manner they perform their functions in the legislative floor or in committee rooms. Any claim of an unworthy purpose or of the falsity and mala fides of the statement uttered by the member of the Congress does not destroy the privilege.3 The disciplinary authority of the assembly4 and the voters, not the courts, can properly discourage or correct such abuses committed in the name of parliamentary immunity.5 For the above reasons, the plea of Senator Santiago for the dismissal of the complaint for disbarment or disciplinary action is well taken. Indeed, her privilege speech is not actionable criminally or in a disciplinary proceeding under the Rules of Court. It is felt, however, that this could not be the last word on the matter. The Court wishes to express its deep concern about the language Senator Santiago, a member of the Bar, used in her speech and its effect on the administration of justice. To the Court, the lady senator has undoubtedly crossed the limits of decency and good professional conduct. It is at once apparent that her statements in question were intemperate and highly improper in substance. To reiterate, she was quoted as stating that she wanted "to spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court," and calling the Court a "Supreme Court of idiots." The lady senator alluded to In Re: Vicente Sotto.6 We draw her attention to the ensuing passage in Sotto that she should have taken to heart in the first place: x x x [I]f the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity of this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their own hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos would be the result.1avvphi1 No lawyer who has taken an oath to maintain the respect due to the courts should be allowed to erode the peoples faith in the judiciary. In this case, the lady senator clearly violated Canon 8, Rule 8.01 and Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which respectively provide: Canon 8, Rule 8.01.A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.

Canon 11.A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to the judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others. Senator/Atty. Santiago is a cut higher than most lawyers. Her achievements speak for themselves. She was a former Regional Trial Court judge, a law professor, an oft-cited authority on constitutional and international law, an author of numerous law textbooks, and an elected senator of the land. Needless to stress, Senator Santiago, as a member of the Bar and officer of the court, like any other, is duty-bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court and to maintain the respect due its members. Lawyers in public service are keepers of public faith and are burdened with the higher degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than their brethren in private practice.7Senator Santiago should have known, as any perceptive individual, the impact her statements would make on the peoples faith in the integrity of the courts. As Senator Santiago alleged, she delivered her privilege speech as a prelude to crafting remedial legislation on the JBC. This allegation strikes the Court as an afterthought in light of the insulting tenor of what she said. We quote the passage once more: x x x I am not angry. I am irate. I am foaming in the mouth. I am homicidal. I am suicidal. I am humiliated, debased, degraded. And I am not only that, I feel like throwing up to be living my middle years in a country of this nature. Iam nauseated. I spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested in the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded by idiots. I would rather be in another environment but not in the Supreme Court of idiots x x x. (Emphasis ours.) A careful re-reading of her utterances would readily show that her statements were expressions of personal anger and frustration at not being considered for the post of Chief Justice. In a sense, therefore, her remarks were outside the pale of her official parliamentary functions. Even parliamentary immunity must not be allowed to be used as a vehicle to ridicule, demean, and destroy the reputation of the Court and its magistrates, nor as armor for personal wrath and disgust. Authorities are agreed that parliamentary immunity is not an individual privilege accorded the individual members of the Parliament or Congress for their personal benefit, but rather a privilege for the benefit of the people and the institution that represents them. To be sure, Senator Santiago could have given vent to her anger without indulging in insulting rhetoric and offensive personalities. Lest it be overlooked, Senator Santiagos outburst was directly traceable to what she considered as an "unjust act" the JBC had taken in connection with her application for the position of Chief Justice. But while the JBC functions under the Courts supervision, its individual members, save perhaps for the Chief Justice who sits as the JBCs exofficio chairperson,8 have no official duty to nominate candidates for appointment to the position of Chief Justice. The Court is, thus, at a loss to understand Senator Santiagos wholesale and indiscriminate assault on the members of the Court and her choice of critical and defamatory words against all of them. At any event, equally important as the speech and debate clause of Art. VI, Sec. 11 of the Constitution is Sec. 5(5) of Art. VIII of the Constitution that provides: Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers: xxxx (5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of the law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. (Emphasis ours.)

The Court, besides being authorized to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, exercises specific authority to promulgate rules governing the Integrated Bar with the end in view that the integration of the Bar will, among other things: (4) Shield the judiciary, which traditionally cannot defend itself except within its own forum, from the assaults that politics and self interest may level at it, and assist it to maintain its integrity, impartiality and independence; xxxx (11) Enforce rigid ethical standards x x x.9 In Re: Letter Dated 21 February 2005 of Atty. Noel S. Sorreda,10 we reiterated our pronouncement in Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer11 that the duty of attorneys to the courts can only be maintained by rendering no service involving any disrespect to the judicial office which they are bound to uphold. The Court wrote in Rheem of the Philippines: x x x As explicit is the first canon of legal ethics which pronounces that "[i]t is the duty of a lawyer to maintain towards the Courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance." That same canon, as a corollary, makes it peculiarly incumbent upon lawyers to support the courts against "unjust criticism and clamor." And more. The attorneys oath solemnly binds him to a conduct that should be "with all good fidelity x x x to the courts." Also, in Sorreda, the Court revisited its holding in Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel12 that: A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court itself, an instrument or agency to advance the ends of justice." His duty is to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts to which he owes fidelity, "not to promote distrust in the administration of justice." Faith in the courts, a lawyer should seek to preserve. For, to undermine the judicial edifice "is disastrous to the continuity of government and to the attainment of the liberties of the people." Thus has it been said of a lawyer that "[a]s an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice."13 The lady senator belongs to the legal profession bound by the exacting injunction of a strict Code. Society has entrusted that profession with the administration of the law and dispensation of justice. Generally speaking, a lawyer holding a government office may not be disciplined as a member of the Bar for misconduct committed while in the discharge of official duties, unless said misconduct also constitutes a violation of his/her oath as a lawyer.14 Lawyers may be disciplined even for any conduct committed in their private capacity, as long as their misconduct reflects their want of probity or good demeanor,15 a good character being an essential qualification for the admission to the practice of law and for continuance of such privilege. When the Code of Professional Responsibility or the Rules of Court speaks of "conduct" or "misconduct," the reference is not confined to ones behavior exhibited in connection with the performance of lawyers professional duties, but also covers any misconduct, whichalbeit unrelated to the actual practice of their professionwould show them to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges which their license and the law invest in them.16 This Court, in its unceasing quest to promote the peoples faith in courts and trust in the rule of law, has consistently exercised its disciplinary authority on lawyers who, for malevolent purpose or personal malice, attempt to obstruct the orderly administration of justice, trifle with the integrity of courts, and embarrass or, worse, malign the men and women who compose them. We have done it in the case of former Senator Vicente Sotto in Sotto, in the case of Atty. Noel Sorreda in Sorreda, and in the case of Atty. Francisco B. Cruz in Tacordan v. Ang17 who repeatedly insulted and threatened the Court in a most insolent manner. The Court is not hesitant to impose some form of disciplinary sanctions on Senator/Atty. Santiago for what otherwise would have constituted an act of utter disrespect on her part towards the Court and its members. The factual and legal

circumstances of this case, however, deter the Court from doing so, even without any sign of remorse from her. Basic constitutional consideration dictates this kind of disposition. We, however, would be remiss in our duty if we let the Senators offensive and disrespectful language that definitely tended to denigrate the institution pass by. It is imperative on our part to re-instill in Senator/Atty. Santiago her duty to respect courts of justice, especially this Tribunal, and remind her anew that the parliamentary non-accountability thus granted to members of Congress is not to protect them against prosecutions for their own benefit, but to enable them, as the peoples representatives, to perform the functions of their office without fear of being made responsible before the courts or other forums outside the congressional hall.18 It is intended to protect members of Congress against government pressure and intimidation aimed at influencing the decision-making prerogatives of Congress and its members. The Rules of the Senate itself contains a provision on Unparliamentary Acts and Language that enjoins a Senator from using, under any circumstance, "offensive or improper language against another Senator or against any public institution."19 But as to Senator Santiagos unparliamentary remarks, the Senate President had not apparently called her to order, let alone referred the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee for appropriate disciplinary action, as the Rules dictates under such circumstance.20 The lady senator clearly violated the rules of her own chamber. It is unfortunate that her peers bent backwards and avoided imposing their own rules on her. Finally, the lady senator questions Pobres motives in filing his complaint, stating that disciplinary proceedings must be undertaken solely for the public welfare. We cannot agree with her more. We cannot overstress that the senators use of intemperate language to demean and denigrate the highest court of the land is a clear violation of the duty of respect lawyers owe to the courts.21 Finally, the Senator asserts that complainant Pobre has failed to prove that she in fact made the statements in question. Suffice it to say in this regard that, although she has not categorically denied making such statements, she has unequivocally said making them as part of her privilege speech. Her implied admission is good enough for the Court. WHEREFORE, the letter-complaint of Antero J. Pobre against Senator/Atty. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is, conformably to Art. VI, Sec. 11 of the Constitution, DISMISSED. SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION Adm. Case No. 7252 November 22, 2006 [CBD 05-1434] JOHNNY NG, Complainant, vs. ATTY. BENJAMIN C. ALAR, Respondent.

RESOLUTION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.

Before the Court is Resolution No. XVII-2006-223 dated April 27, 2006 of the IBP Board of Governors, to wit: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondents propensity to resort to undeserved language and disrespectful stance, Atty. Benjamin C. Alar is hereby REPRIMANDED with a stern Warning that severe penalties will be imposed in case similar misconduct is again committed. Likewise, the counter complaint against Atty. Jose Raulito E. Paras and Atty. Elvin Michael Cruz is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. A verified complaint 1 dated February 15, 2005 was filed by Johnny Ng (complainant) against Atty. Benjamin C. Alar (respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), for Disbarment. Complainant alleges that he is one of the respondents in a labor case with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) docketed as NLRC NCR CA No. 040273-04, while respondent is the counsel for complainants. The Labor Arbiter (LA) dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the NLRC rendered a Decision 2affirming the decision of the LA. Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Inhibit (MRMI), 3pertinent portions of which read: x x x We cannot help suspecting that the decision under consideration was merely copied from the pleadings of respondents-appellees with very slight modifications. But we cannot accept the suggestion, made by some knowledgeable individuals, that the actual writer of the said decision is not at all connected with the NLRC First Division. x x x Why did the NLRC, First Division, uphold the Labor Arbiter in maintaining that the separation pay should be only one half month per year of service? Is jurisprudence on this not clear enough, or is there another reason known only to them? x x x If this is not grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC, First Division, it is ignominious ignorance of the law on the part of the commissioners concerned. The NLRC wants proof from the complainants that the fire actually resulted in prosperity and not losses. xxxRespondents failed to prove their claim of losses. And the Honorable Commissioners of the First Division lost their ability to see these glaring facts. x x x How much is the separation pay they should pay? One month per year of service and all of it to the affected workers not to some people in the NLRC in part. x x x They should have taken judicial notice of this prevalent practices of employers xxx. If the Honorable Commissioners, of the First Division do not know this, they are indeed irrelevant to real life. x x x we invite the Honorable Commissioners of the First Division to see for themselves the evidence before them and not merely rely on their reviewers and on the word of their ponente. If they do this honestly they cannot help seeing the truth. Yes, honesty on the part of the Commissioners concerned is what is lacking, not the evidence. Unfair labor practice stares them in the face. If labor arbiter Santos was cross-eyed in his findings of fact, the Honorable Commissioners of the First Division are doubly so and with malice thrown in. If the workers indeed committed an illegal strike, how come their only "penalty" is removing their tent? It is obvious that the Labor Arbiter and the Honorable Commissioners know deep in their small hearts that there was no strike. This is the only reason for the finding of "illegal strike". Without this finding, they have no basis to remove the tent; they have to invent that basis.

x x x The union in its "Union Reply To The Position Paper Of Management" and its Annexes has shown very clearly that the so called strike is a myth. But Commissioner Dinopol opted to believe the myth instead of the facts. He fixed his sights on the tent in front of the wall and closed his eyes to the open wide passage way and gate beside it. His eyes, not the ingress and egress of the premises, are blocked by something so thick he cannot see through it. His impaired vision cannot be trusted, no doubt about it. Commissioner Dinopol has enshrined a novel rule on money claims. Whereas, before, the established rule was, in cases of money claims the employer had the burden of proof of payment. Now it is the other way around. x x x For lack of a better name we should call this new rule the "Special Dinopol Rule". But only retirable commissioners are authorized to apply this rule and only when the money claims involved are substantial. When they are meager the ordinary rules apply. x x x how Commissioner Dinopol is able to say that the pay slips proved that the sixteen (16) claimants were already paid their service incentive leave pay. This finding is copied verbatim from the cross-eyed decision of Labor Arbiter Santos x x x . The evidence already on record proving that the alleged blocking of the ingress and egress is a myth seem invisible to the impaired sight of Commissioner Dinopol. He needs more of it. x x x Commissioner Dinopol by his decision under consideration (as ponente [of] the decision that he signed and caused his co-commissioners in the First Division to sign) has shown great and irreparable impartiality, grave abuse of discretion and ignorance of the law. He is a shame to the NLRC and should not be allowed to have anything to do with the instant case any more. Commissioner Go and Chairman Seeres, by negligence, are just as guilty as Dinopol but, since the NLRC rules prohibit the inhibition of the entire division, Chairman Seeres should remain in the instant case and appoint two (2) other commissioners from another division to sit with him and pass final judgment in the instant case. 4 (Emphasis supplied) In his Answer with Counter-Complaint dated April 6, 2005, respondent Alar contends that the instant complaint only intends to harass him and to influence the result of the cases between complainant and the workers in the different fora where they are pending; that the Rules of Court/Code of Professional Responsibility applies only suppletorily at the NLRC when the NLRC Rules of Procedure has no provision on disciplinary matters for litigants and lawyers appearing before it; that Rule X of the NLRC Rules of Procedure provides for adequate sanctions against misbehaving lawyers and litigants appearing in cases before it; that the Rules of Court/Code of Professional Responsibility does not apply to lawyers practicing at the NLRC, the latter not being a court; that LAs and NLRC Commissioners are not judges nor justices and the Code of Judicial Conduct similarly do not apply to them, not being part of the judiciary; and that the labor lawyers who are honestly and conscientiously practicing before the NLRC and get paid on a contingent basis are entitled to some latitude of righteous anger when they get cheated in their cases by reason of corruption and collusion by the cheats from the other sectors who make their lives and the lives of their constituents miserable, with impunity, unlike lawyers for the employers who get paid, win or lose, and therefore have no reason to feel aggrieved. 5 Attached to the Counter-Complaint is the affidavit of union president Marilyn Batan wherein it is alleged that Attys. Paras and Cruz violated the Code of Professional Responsibility of lawyers in several instances, such that while the labor case is pending before the NLRC, respondents Paras and Cruz filed a new case against the laborers in the Office of the City Engineer of Quezon City (QC) to demolish the tent of the workers, thus splitting the jurisdiction between the NLRC and the City Engineer's Office (CEO) of QC which violates Canon 12, Rules 12.02 and 13.03; that although Ng signed the disbarment complaint against Alar, respondents Parass and Cruzs office instigated the said complaint which violates Canon 8; that Ng's company did not pay income tax for the year 2000 allegedly for non-operation due to fire and respondents consented to this act of the employer which violates Canon 19, Rule 19.02; and that when the case started, there were more or less 100 complainants, but due to the acts of the employer and the respondents, the number of complainants were reduced to almost half which violates Canon 19, Rule 19-01, 19-02 and 19-03. 6

In Answer to the Counter-Complaint dated April 14, 2005, 7 respondents Paras and Cruz alleged: At no time did they file multiple actions arising from the same cause of action or brook interference in the normal course of judicial proceedings; the reliefs sought before the CEO has nothing to do with the case pending before the NLRC; the demolition of the nuisance and illegal structures is a cause of action completely irrelevant and unrelated to the labor cases of complainant; the CEO was requested to investigate certain nuisance structures located outside the employer's property, which consist of shanties, tents, banners and other paraphernalia which hampered the free ingress to and egress out of the employer's property and present clear and present hazards; the Office of the City Engineer found the structures violative of pertinent DPWH and MMDA ordinances; the pendency of a labor case with the NLRC is completely irrelevant since the holding of a strike, legal or not, did not validate or justify the construction of illegal nuisance structures; the CEO proceeded to abate the nuisance structures pursuant to its power to protect life, property and legal order; it was not their idea to file the disbarment complaint against respondent Alar; they merely instructed their client on how to go about filing the case, after having been served a copy of the derogatory MRMI; Canon 8 should not be perceived as an excuse for lawyers to turn their backs on malicious acts done by their brother lawyers; the complaint failed to mention that the only reason the number of complainants were reduced is because of the amicable settlement they were able to reach with most of them; their engagement for legal services is only for labor and litigation cases; at no time were they consulted regarding the tax concerns of their client and therefore were never privy to the financial records of the latter; at no time did they give advice regarding their client's tax concerns; respondent Alar's attempt at a disbarment case against them is unwarranted, unjustified and obviously a mere retaliatory action on his part. The case, docketed as CBD Case No. 05-1434, was assigned by the IBP to Commissioner Patrick M. Velez for investigation, report and recommendation. In his Report and Recommendation, the Investigating Commissioner found respondent guilty of using improper and abusive language and recommended that respondent be suspended for a period of not less than three months with a stern warning that more severe penalty will be imposed in case similar misconduct is again committed. On the other hand, the Investigating Commissioner did not find any actionable misconduct against Attys. Paras and Cruz and therefore recommended that the Counter-Complaint against them be dismissed for lack of merit. Acting on the Report and Recommendation, the IBP Board of Governors issued the Resolution hereinbefore quoted. While the Court agrees with the findings of the IBP, it does not agree that respondent Alar deserves only a reprimand. The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates: CANON 8 A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. Rule 8.01 A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper. CANON 11 A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others. Rule 11.03 A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts. Rule 11.04 A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case. The MRMI contains insults and diatribes against the NLRC, attacking both its moral and intellectual integrity, replete with implied accusations of partiality, impropriety and lack of diligence. Respondent used improper and offensive language in his pleadings that does not admit any justification. In Lacurom v. Jacoba,8 the Court ratiocinated as follows:

Well-recognized is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges. However, even the most hardened judge would be scarred by the scurrilous attack made by the 30 July 2001 motion on Judge Lacurom's Resolution. On its face, the Resolution presented the facts correctly and decided the case according to supporting law and jurisprudence. Though a lawyer's language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of unnecessary language is proscribed if we are to promote high esteem in the courts and trust in judicial administration. In Uy v. Depasucat,9 the Court held that a lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts. It must be remembered that the language vehicle does not run short of expressions which are emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive. 10 A lawyer's language should be forceful but dignified, emphatic but respectful as befitting an advocate and in keeping with the dignity of the legal profession. 11 Submitting pleadings containing countless insults and diatribes against the NLRC and attacking both its moral and intellectual integrity, hardly measures to the sobriety of speech demanded of a lawyer. Respondent's assertion that the NLRC not being a court, its commissioners, not being judges or justices and therefore not part of the judiciary; and that consequently, the Code of Judicial Conduct does not apply to them, is unavailing. In Lubiano v. Gordolla, 12 the Court held that respondent became unmindful of the fact that in addressing the NLRC, he nonetheless remained a member of the Bar, an oath-bound servant of the law, whose first duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice and whose conduct ought to be and must be scrupulously observant of law and ethics. 13 Respondents argument that labor practitioners are entitled to some latitude of righteous anger is unavailing. It does not deter the Court from exercising its supervisory authority over lawyers who misbehave or fail to live up to that standard expected of them as members of the Bar. 14 The Court held in Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer, 15 thus: 2. What we have before us is not without precedent. Time and again, this Court has admonished and punished, in varying degrees, members of the Bar for statements, disrespectful or irreverent, acrimonious or defamatory, of this Court or the lower courts. Resort by an attorney in a motion for reconsideration to words which may drag this Court down into disrepute, is frowned upon as "neither justified nor in the least necessary, because in order to call the attention of the court in a special way to the essential points relied upon in his argument and to emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons stated in the motion" are "sufficient," and such words "superfluous." It is in this context that we must say that just because Atty. Armonio "thought best to focus the attention" of this Court "to the issue in the case" does not give him unbridled license in language. To be sure, lawyers may come up with various methods, perhaps much more effective, in calling the Courts attention to the issues involved. The language vehicle does not run short of expressions, emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive. To be proscribed then is the use of unnecessary language which jeopardizes high esteem in courts, creates or promotes distrust in judicial administration, or which could have the effect of "harboring and encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is the source of disorder, thus undermining the foundation upon which rests that bulwark called judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn for protection and relief." Stability of judicial institutions suggests that the Bar stand firm on this precept. The language here in question, respondents aver, "was the result of overenthusiasm." It is but to repeat an old idea when we say that enthusiasm, or even excess of it, is not really bad. In fact, the one or the other is no less a virtue, if channeled in the right direction. However, it must be circumscribed within the bounds of propriety and with due regard for the proper place of courts in our system of government. 16

Respondent has clearly violated Canons 8 and 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. His actions erode the publics perception of the legal profession. However, the penalty of reprimand with stern warning imposed by the IBP Board of Governors is not proportionate to respondents violation of the Canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Thus, he deserves a stiffer penalty of fine in the amount of P5,000.00. Anent the Counter-Complaint filed against Attys. Paras and Cruz, the Court finds no reason to disturb the following findings and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, as approved by the IBP Board of Governors, to wit: The Counter-complainant Batan failed to submit any position paper to substantiate its claims despite sufficient opportunity to do so. At any rate, it must be noted that the alleged case with the Office of the City Engineer really partakes of a different cause of action, which has nothing to do with the NLRC case. The decision was made by the city engineer. Respondents remedy should be to question that decision, not bring it to this Commission which has no jurisdiction over it. We can not substitute our judgment for the proper courts who should determine the propriety or sagacity of the city engineers action. Furthermore, parties are not prohibited from availing themselves of remedies available in law provided; these acts do not exceed the bounds of decency. In supporting the action against respondents conduct, no such abuse may be gleaned. Indeed, it is the attorneys duty as an officer of the court to defend a judge from unfounded criticism or groundless personal attack. This requires of him not only to refrain from subjecting the judge to wild and groundless accusation but also to discourage other people from so doing and to come to his defense when he is so subjected. By the very nature of his position a judge lacks the power, outside of his court, to defend himself against unfounded criticism and clamor and it is the attorney, and no other, who can better or more appropriately support the judiciary and the incumbents of the judicial positions. (Agpalo, p. 143 citing People v. Carillo, 77 Phil. 572 (1946); Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel, 31 SCRA 1 (1970); see Cabansag v. Fernandez, 102 Phil. 152 (1957) Whether the disbarment complaint was filed by Ng or by his lawyers is therefore not of great import, what is more apropos would be the contents of the complaint and whether the same is sufficient to consider disciplinary sanctions. Likewise, the tax case is a different matter altogether. Since the respondent lawyers have already stated that they were not engaged as counsels to take care of their clients tax problems, then they cannot be held accountable for the same. If any wrongdoing has been committed by complainant Ng, he should answer for that and those lawyers who were responsible for such acts be held liable jointly. There is no showing [that] attorneys Paras and Cruz were responsible for that tax fiasco. Finally, while it may be true that Batans group has been greatly diminished from about 100 claimants to less than half the number is not by itself an actionable misconduct. Lawyers are duty bound to foster amicable settlement of cases; litigation and adversarial proceedings while a necessary part of the practice is not encouraged, because it will save expenses and help unclogged [sic] the dockets. If the compromise is fair then there is no reason to prevent the same. There is nothing in the counter-complaint which shows that the compromise agreement and waivers executed appear to be unfair, hence no reason to hold lawyers liable for the same. Besides, a "compromise is as often the better part of justice as prudence the part of valor and a lawyer who encourages compromise is no less the clients champion in settlement out of court than he is the clients champion in the battle in court." (Curtis, The Advocate: Voices in Court, 5 (1958); cited in Agpalos Legal Ethics, p. 86, 1980 ed.) What is therefore respondent Alar[]s beef with the execution of these waivers if these were executed freely by his clients? All told, we do not find anything actionable misconduct against Attorneys Paras and Cruz; hence the dismissal of the counter-complaint against them is proper for absolute lack of merit. 17 ACCORDINGLY, we find respondent Atty. Benjamin C. Alar GUILTY of violation of Canons 8 and 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is imposed a fine of P5,000.00 with STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely.

The Counter-Complaint against Atty. Jose Raulito E. Paras and Atty. Elvin Michael Cruz is DISMISSED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION A. C. No. 5398 December 3, 2002

ANTONIO A. ALCANTARA, complainant, vs. ATTY. MARIANO PEFIANCO, respondent. DECISION MENDOZA, J.: This is a complaint against Atty. Mariano Pefianco for conduct unbecoming a member of the bar for using improper and offensive language and threatening and attempting to assault complainant. The complainant, Atty. Antonio A. Alcantara, is the incumbent District Public Attorney of the Public Attorneys Office in San Jose, Antique. He alleged that on May 18, 2000, while Atty. Ramon Salvani III was conferring with a client in the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) at the Hall of Justice in San Jose, Antique, a woman approached them. Complainant saw the woman in tears, whereupon he went to the group and suggested that Atty. Salvani talk with her amicably as a hearing was taking place in another room. At this point, respondent Atty. Mariano Pefianco, who was sitting nearby, stood up and shouted at Atty. Salvani and his client, saying, "Nga-a gina-areglo mo ina, ipapreso ang imo nga kliyente para mahibal-an na anang sala." ("Why do you settle that case? Have your client imprisoned so that he will realize his mistake.") Complainant said he was surprised at respondent Pefiancos outburst and asked him to cool off, but respondent continued to fulminate at Atty. Salvani. Atty. Salvani tried to explain to respondent that it was the woman who was asking if the civil aspect of the criminal case could be settled because she was no longer interested in prosecuting the same. Respondent refused to listen and instead continued to scold Atty. Salvani and the latters client. As head of the Office, complainant approached respondent and asked him to take it easy and leave Atty. Salvani to settle the matter. Respondent at first listened, but shortly after he again started shouting at and scolding Atty. Salvani. To avoid any scene with respondent, complainant went inside his office. He asked his clerk to put a notice outside prohibiting anyone from interfering with any activity in the Public Attorneys Office. Complainant said that he then went out to attend a hearing, but when he came back he heard respondent Pefianco saying: "Nagsiling si Atty. Alcantara nga pagwa-on na kuno ako dya sa PAO, buyon nga klase ka tawo." ("Atty. Alcantara said that he would send me out of the PAO, what an idiot.") Then, upon seeing complainant, respondent pointed his finger at him and repeated his statement for the other people in the office to hear. At this point, according to complainant, he confronted respondent Pefianco and told him to observe civility or else to leave the office if he had no business there. Complainant said respondent resented this and started hurling invectives at him. According to complainant, respondent even took a menacing stance towards him. This caused a commotion in the office. Atty. Pepin Marfil and Mr. Robert Minguez, the Chief of the Probation Office, tried to pacify respondent Pefianco. Two guards of the Hall of Justice came to take respondent out of the office, but before they

could do so, respondent tried to attack complainant and even shouted at him, "Gago ka!" ("Youre stupid!") Fortunately, the guards were able to fend off respondents blow and complainant was not harmed. Complainant also submitted the affidavits of Atty. Ramon Salvani III, Felizardo Del Rosario, Atty. Pepin Joey Marfil, Robert Minguez, Herbert Ysulat and Ramon Quintayo to corroborate his allegations. In his Comment and Counter-Complaint, respondent Pefianco said that the sight of the crying woman, whose husband had been murdered, moved him and prompted him to take up her defense. He said that he resented the fact that complainant had ordered an employee, Napoleon Labonete, to put a sign outside prohibiting "standbys" from hanging round in the Public Attorneys Office. Respondent claimed that while talking with Atty. Salvani concerning the womans case, complainant, with his bodyguard, arrived and shouted at him to get out of the Public Attorneys Office. He claimed that two security guards also came, and complainant ordered them to take respondent out of the office. Contrary to complainants claims, however, respondent said that it was complainant who moved to punch him and shout at him, "Gago ka!" ("Youre stupid!") Prior to the filing of the present complaint, respondent Pefianco had filed before the Office of the Ombudsman an administrative and criminal complaint against complainant. However, the complaint was dismissed by the said office. The Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines found that respondent committed the acts alleged in the complaint and that he violated Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Committee noted that respondent failed not only to deny the accusations against him but also to give any explanation for his actions. For this reason, it recommended that respondent be reprimanded and warned that repetition of the same act will be dealt with more severely in the future. We find the recommendation of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline to be well taken. The evidence on record indeed shows that it was respondent Pefianco who provoked the incident in question. The affidavits of several disinterested persons confirm complainants allegation that respondent Pefianco shouted and hurled invectives at him and Atty. Salvani and even attempted to lay hands on him (complainant). Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility1 admonishes lawyers to conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor toward their fellow lawyers. Lawyers are duty bound to uphold the dignity of the legal profession. They must act honorably, fairly and candidly toward each other and otherwise conduct themselves without reproach at all times.2 In this case, respondents meddling in a matter in which he had no right to do so caused the untoward incident. He had no right to demand an explanation from Atty. Salvani why the case of the woman had not or could not be settled. Even so, Atty. Salvani in fact tried to explain the matter to respondent, but the latter insisted on his view about the case. Respondent said he was moved by the plight of the woman whose husband had been murdered as she was pleading for the settlement of her case because she needed the money. Be that as it may, respondent should realize that what he thought was righteous did not give him the right to demand that Atty. Salvani and his client, apparently the accused in the criminal case, settle the case with the widow. Even when he was being pacified, respondent did not relent. Instead he insulted and berated those who tried to calm him down. Two of the witnesses, Atty. Pepin Marfil and Robert Minguez, who went to the Public Attorneys Office because they heard the commotion, and two guards at the Hall of Justice, who had been summoned, failed to stop respondent from his verbal rampage. Respondent ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior can only bring down the legal profession in the public estimation and erode public respect for it. Whatever moral righteousness respondent had was negated by the way he chose to express his indignation. An injustice cannot be righted by another injustice.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Mariano Pefianco is found GUILTY of violation of Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and, considering this to be his first offense, is hereby FINED in the amount of P1,000.00 and REPRIMANDED with a warning that similar action in the future will be sanctioned more severely.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION A.C. No. 6968 August 9, 2006

ATTY. ORLANDO V. DIZON, Complainant, vs. ATTY. MARICHU C. LAMBINO, Respondent. x-----------------------------------------x ATTY. MARICHU C. LAMBINO, Complainant, vs. ATTY. ORLANDO V. DIZON, Respondent. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: The killing during a rumble on December 8, 1994 of University of the Philippines (UP) graduating student Dennis Venturina, the chairperson of the UP College of Public Administration Student Council, drew the then Chancellor of UP Diliman Roger Posadas to seek the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Acting on the request of Chancellor Posadas, Atty. Orlando Dizon, then Chief of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the NBI, together with his men, repaired to the Office of Col. Eduardo Bentain, head of the UP Security Force on December 12, 1994. As two student-suspects in the killing, Francis Carlo Taparan and Raymundo Narag, were at the time in the office of Col. Bentain, Atty. Dizon requested to take them into his custody. Atty. Marichu Lambino, Legal Counsel of UP Diliman, who repaired to the Office of Col. Bentain, advised against Atty. Dizons move, however, he not being armed with a warrant for their arrest. Chancellor Posadas and Vice Chancellor for students Rosario Torres-Yu, who also repaired to the office of the colonel, joined Atty. Lambino in opposing the turn-over of the suspects to Atty. Dizon, despite the latters claim that under its Charter the NBI was authorized to make warrantless arrests. The suspects lawyer, one Atty. Villamor, later also showed up at the office of Col. Bentain and after what appeared to be a heated discussion between Atty. Dizon and the UP officials, the students were allowed to go back to their dormitories, with Atty. Villamor undertaking to accompany them to the NBI the following morning. The two student-suspects were eventually indicted in court.

Hence, spawned the filing of a complaint by Atty. Dizon against Atty. Lambino before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), for violation of Canon 1, Rules 1.1 to 1.3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, docketed asCBD Case No. 346. Atty. Dizon had earlier filed a criminal complaint also against Atty. Lambino, together with Chancellor Posadas and Vice Chancellor Torres-Yu and Col. Bentain, before the Ombudsman, for violation of P.D. 1829 which makes it unlawful for anyone to obstruct the apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenses. Atty. Lambino in turn charged Atty. Dizon before the IBP with violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically Canon 1, Rule 1.01, 1.02, and 1.03; Canon 6, Rules 6.01 and 6.02; and Canon 8, Rule 8.01, docketed as CBD Case No. 373. The administrative cases were, on motion of Atty. Lambino, consolidated. Before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), the issues were defined as follows: 1. Whether the act of Atty. Lambino in refusing to turn over the suspected students to the group of Atty. Dizon constitutes violation of Code of Professional Responsibility. 2. Whether the act of Atty. Dizon in trying to arrest the student-suspects constitutes violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. By Report and Recommendation submitted to the Board of Governors of the IBP on June 20, 2005, CBD Investigating Commissioner Siegfrid B. Mison recommended the dismissal of the complaint against Atty. Lambino in light of a finding that she "acted within her official duties as she safeguarded the rights of the students in accordance with the schools substitute parental authority" and "within the bounds of the law as the NBI agents had no warrants of arrest." With respect to the complaint against Atty. Dizon, the Commissioner recommended to reprimand him for violating the Code of Professional Responsibility in "recklessly tr[ying] to arrest" the suspects without warrant. The IBP Board of Governors, by Resolution of October 22, 2005, adopted and approved the Commissioners Report. The IBP thereupon transferred to this Court its Notice of Resolution, together with the records of the cases which this Court noted by Resolution of February 1, 2006. As earlier stated, the issue against Atty. Lambino is whether she violated the Canons of Professional Ethics in "refusing to turn over the suspected students to the group of Atty. Dizon." When the complaint of Atty. Dizon before the Ombudsman against Chancellor Posadas, Vice Chancellor Torres-Yu and Atty. Lambino was elevated on Certiorari and Prohibition, this Court addressing in the negative the two issues raised therein, to wit: (1) Whether the attempted arrest of the student suspects by the NBI could be validly made without a warrant; and (2) Whether there was probable cause for prosecuting petitioner for violation of P.D. No. 1829. x x x,1 held that the objection of the said UP officials to the arrest of the students "cannot be construed as a violation of P.D. No. 1829, Sec. 1 (c) without rendering it unconstitutional,"2 they having "a right to prevent the arrest [of the students] at the time because their attempted arrest was illegal."3 Indeed, Atty. Lambino was legally justified in advising against the turn over of the suspects to Atty. Dizon, there being no basis for him to effect a warrantless arrest. Atty. Dizons administrative complaint against her must then be dismissed.

Respecting the complaint against Atty. Dizon, this Court, also in Posadas v. Ombudsman, held that "[f]or the failure of the NBI agents to comply with the constitutional and procedural requirements, . . . their attempt to arrest [the two studentsuspects] without a warrant was illegal."4 In the main, Atty. Dizon invoked Section 1 (a) of Republic Act 157 (The NBI Charter) which empowers the NBI "to undertake investigations of crimes and other offenses against the laws of the Philippines, upon its own initiative and as public interest may require"5 and to make arrests. The invocation does not impress. Said section does not grant the NBI the power to make warrantless arrests. The NBI Charter clearly qualifies the power to make arrests to be "in accordance with existing laws and rules." Members of the investigation staff of the Bureau of Investigation shall be peace officers, and as such have the following powers: (a) To make arrests, searches and seizures in accordance with existing laws and rules.6 x x x x (Emphasis supplied) By persisting in his attempt to arrest the suspected students without a warrant, Atty. Dizon violated Rule 1.02 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides: CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. xxxx Rule 1.02 A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. (Emphasis supplied). WHEREFORE, CBD Case No. 346 against Atty. Marichu C. Lambino is DISMISSED. Atty. Orlando V. Dizon is, in CBD Case No. 373, found guilty of violation of Canon 1 of Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is REPRIMANDED and WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar infraction shall be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Justice.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC A.C. No. 5148 July 1, 2003

ATTY. RAMON P. REYES, complainant, vs. ATTY. VICTORIANO T. CHIONG JR., respondent.

PANGANIBAN, J.: Lawyers should treat each other with courtesy, dignity and civility. The bickering and the hostility of their clients should not affect their conduct and rapport with each other as professionals and members of the bar. The Case Before us is a Sworn Complaint1 filed by Atty. Ramon P. Reyes with the Office of the Bar Confidant of this Court, seeking the disbarment of Atty. Victoriano T. Chiong Jr. for violation of his lawyers oath and of Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. After the Third Division of this Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline resolved to suspend him as follows: "x x x [C]onsidering that respondent is bound by his oath which binds him to the obligation that he will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same. In addition, Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor towards his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. In impleading complainant and Prosecutor Salanga in Civil Case No. 4884, when it was apparent that there was no legal ground to do so, respondent violated his oath of office as well as the abovequoted Canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility, [r]espondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2) years."2 The Facts In his Complaint, Atty. Reyes alleges that sometime in January 1998, his services were engaged by one Zonggi Xu,3 a Chinese-Taiwanese, in a business venture that went awry. Xu invested P300,000 on a Cebu-based fishball, tempura and seafood products factory being set up by a certain Chia Hsien Pan, another Chinese-Taiwanese residing in Zamboanga City. Eventually, the former discovered that the latter had not established a fishball factory. When Xu asked for his money back, Pan became hostile, making it necessary for the former to seek legal assistance. Xu, through herein complainant, filed a Complaint for estafa against Pan, who was represented by respondent. The Complaint, docketed as IS 98J-51990, was assigned to Assistant Manila City Prosecutor Pedro B. Salanga, who then issued a subpoena for Pan to appear for preliminary investigation on October 27 and 29, 1998. The latter neither appeared on the two scheduled hearings nor submitted his counter-affidavit. Hence, Prosecutor Salanga filed a Criminal Complaint4 for estafa against him before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila.5 On April 8, 1999, the Manila RTC issued a Warrant of Arrest6 against Pan. Thereafter, respondent filed an Urgent Motion to Quash the Warrant of Arrest.7 He also filed with the RTC of Zamboanga City a Civil Complaint for the collection of a sum of money and damages as well as for the dissolution of a business venture against complainant, Xu and Prosecutor Salanga. When confronted by complainant, respondent explained that it was Pan who had decided to institute the civil action against Atty. Reyes. Respondent claimed he would suggest to his client to drop the civil case, if complainant would move for the dismissal of the estafa case. However, the two lawyers failed to reach a settlement. In his Comment8 dated January 27, 2000, respondent argued that he had shown no disrespect in impleading Atty. Reyes as co-defendant in Civil Case No. 4884. He claimed that there was no basis to conclude that the suit was groundless, and that it had been instituted only to exact vengeance. He alleged that Prosecutor Salanga was impleaded as an additional defendant because of the irregularities the latter had committed in conducting the criminal investigation. Specifically, Prosecutor Salanga had resolved to file the estafa case despite the pendency of Pans Motion for an Opportunity to Submit Counter-Affidavits and Evidence,9 of the appeal10 to the justice secretary, and of the Motion to Defer/Suspend Proceedings.11

On the other hand, complainant was impleaded, because he allegedly connived with his client (Xu) in filing the estafa case, which the former knew fully well was baseless. According to respondent, the irregularities committed by Prosecutor Salanga in the criminal investigation and complainants connivance therein were discovered only after the institution of the collection suit. The Third Division of this Court referred the case to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation.12Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the IBP passed its June 29, 2002 Resolution.13 Report and Recommendation of the IBP In her Report and Recommendation,14 Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, to whom the case was assigned by the IBP for investigation and report, averred that complainant and Prosecutor Salanga had been impleaded in Civil Case No. 4884 on the sole basis of the Criminal Complaint for estafa they had filed against respondents client. In his Comment, respondent himself claimed that "the reason x x x was x x x the irregularities of the criminal investigation/connivance and consequent damages." Commissioner San Juan maintained that the collection suit with damages had been filed purposely to obtain leverage against the estafa case, in which respondents client was the defendant. There was no need to implead complainant and Prosecutor Salanga, since they had never participated in the business transactions between Pan and Xu. Improper and highly questionable was the inclusion of the prosecutor and complainant in the civil case instituted by respondent on the alleged prodding of his client. Verily, the suit was filed to harass complainant and Prosecutor Salanga. Commissioner San Juan held that respondent had no ground to implead Prosecutor Salanga and complainant in Civil Case No. 4884. In so doing, respondent violated his oath of office and Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The IBP adopted the investigating commissioners recommendation for his suspension from the practice of law for two (2) years. This Courts Ruling We agree with the IBPs recommendation. Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute and defend; and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence.15 Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain obligations. Mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession, they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly. Moreover, Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that "[a] lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor towards his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel." Respondents actions do not measure up to this Canon. Civil Case No. 4884 was for the "collection of a sum of money, damages and dissolution of an unregistered business venture." It had originally been filed against Spouses Xu, but was later modified to include complainant and Prosecutor Salanga. The Amended and Supplemental Complaints16 alleged the following: "27. The investigating prosecutor defendant Pedro Salanga knowingly and deliberately refused and failed to perform his duty enjoined by the law and the Constitution to afford plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan due process by violating his rights under the Rules on preliminary investigations; he also falsely made a Certification under oath that preliminary investigation was duly conducted and plaintiff [was] duly informed of the charges against him but did not answer; he maliciously and x x x partially ruled that there was probable cause and filed a Criminal Information for estafa against plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan, knowing fully [well] that the proceedings were fatally defective and null and void; x x x;

"28. Said assistant prosecutor, knowing also that plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan filed said appeal and motion to defer for the valid grounds stated therein deliberately refused to correct his errors and consented to the arrest of said plaintiff under an invalid information and warrant of arrest. "29. Defendant Atty. Ramon Reyes, knowing that the suit of defendant Zongoi Xu is baseless connived with the latter to harass and extort money from plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan by said criminal prosecution in the manner contrary to law, morals and public policy, resulting to the arrest of said plaintiff and causing plaintiffs grave irreparable damages[.]"17 We concur with the IBP that the amendment of the Complaint and the failure to resort to the proper remedies strengthen complainants allegation that the civil action was intended to gain leverage against the estafa case. If respondent or his client did not agree with Prosecutor Salangas resolution, they should have used the proper procedural and administrative remedies. Respondent could have gone to the justice secretary and filed a Motion for Reconsideration or a Motion for Reinvestigation of Prosecutor Salangas decision to file an information for estafa. In the trial court, a Motion to Dismiss was available to him if he could show that the estafa case was filed without basis. Moreover, he could have instituted disbarment proceedings against complainant and Prosecutor Salanga, if he believed that the two had conspired to act illegally. As a lawyer, respondent should have advised his client of the availability of these remedies. Thus, the filing of the civil case had no justification. The lack of involvement of complainant and Prosecutor Salanga in the business transaction subject of the collection suit shows that there was no reason for their inclusion in that case. It appears that respondent took the estafa case as a personal affront and used the civil case as a tool to return the inconvenience suffered by his client. His actions demonstrate a misuse of the legal process. The aim of every lawsuit should be to render justice to the parties according to law, not to harass them.18 Lawyers should treat their opposing counsels and other lawyers with courtesy, dignity and civility. A great part of their comfort, as well as of their success at the bar, depends upon their relations with their professional brethren. Since they deal constantly with each other, they must treat one another with trust and respect. Any undue ill feeling between clients should not influence counsels in their conduct and demeanor toward each other. Mutual bickering, unjustified recriminations and offensive behavior among lawyers not only detract from the dignity of the legal profession,19 but also constitute highly unprofessional conduct subject to disciplinary action. Furthermore, the Lawyers Oath exhorts law practitioners not to "wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same." Respondent claims that it was his client who insisted in impleading complainant and Prosecutor Salanga. Such excuse is flimsy and unacceptable. While lawyers owe entire devotion to the interests of their clients, their office does not permit violation of the law or any manner of fraud or chicanery.20 Their rendition of improper service invites stern and just condemnation. Correspondingly, they advance the honor of their profession and the best interests of their clients when they render service or give advice that meets the strictest principles of moral law.21 The highest reward that can be bestowed on lawyers is the esteem of their professional brethren. This esteem cannot be purchased, perfunctorily created, or gained by artifice or contrivance. It is born of sharp contests and thrives despite conflicting interests. It emanates solely from integrity, character, brains and skill in the honorable performance of professional duty.22 WHEREFORE, respondent is found guilty as charged and is hereby SUSPENDED for two (2) years from the practice of law, effective immediately.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC A.C. No. 7056 September 13, 2006

PLUS BUILDERS, INC. and EDGARDO C. GARCIA, complainants, vs. ATTY. ANASTACIO E. REVILLA, JR., respondent. DECISION PANGANIBAN, CJ: By their oath and under the Code of Professional Responsibility, lawyers must uphold truth and justice above everything else, even above their own and their client's interests. They must be willing and able to stand for their convictions against all odds; to carry on in spite of seemingly insurmountable opposition; and to be beacons for the weak, the oppressed and the marginalized. For failing miserably to live by this oath and Code, respondent must be sanctioned. The Case and the Facts This administrative case originated from a Verified Petition for Disbarment1 filed by Plus Builders Inc. and Edgardo C. Garcia before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Complainants charged Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr. with committing a willful and intentional falsehood before the court; misusing court procedure and processes to delay the execution of a judgment; and collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal practice of law. The material averments of the Complaint are as follows: "On April 7, 1999, Plus Builders Inc. filed before the Provincial Adjudicator of Cavite, against Leopoldo De Guzman, Heirs of Bienvenido De Guzman, Apolonio Ilas and Gloria Martirez Siongco, Heirs of Faustino Siongco; Serafin Santarin, Benigno Alvarez and Maria Esguerra, et al; hereinafter called [tenants/farmers] x x x. "On November 15, 1999, the Provincial Adjudicator of Cavite (PARAD) rendered a consolidated Decision in favor of petitioner/complainant [Plus Builders, Inc.], and against [tenants/farmers]. x x x. "[Tenants/farmers] filed several verified pleadings as part of the records of DARAB cases above-mentioned alleging under oath that they were 'MAGSASAKANG NAMUMUWISAN' or mere tenants of subject properties, acknowledging the rights of the registered owners at that time, even before the ownership and title were transferred to Petitioner/ Complainant Plus Builders, Inc. x x x. "On Dec[ember] 17, 1999, counsel for TENANTS/FARMERS who at that time was Atty. Damian S. J. Vellaseca, filed a pro-forma Motion for Reconsideration and Manifestation x x x. As a result, PARAD did not give due course to the same x x x. "On March 27, 2000, another counsel for TENANTS/FARMERS, by the name of Atty. Willy G. Roxas, who represented himself as counsel for TENANTS/FARMERS, filed a manifestation stating that he is representing TENANTS/FARMERS and alleged that they were 'bona fide' members of the [Kalayaan Development Cooperative] (KDC). Thereafter, he filed a Notice of Appeal on March 27, 2000 stating that they received the Decision on March 14, 2000 and alleged that the Decision is against the law and jurisprudence x x x.

"On May 31, 2001, Respondent Anastacio Revilla Jr., knowing that there was a monetary judgment by way of Disturbance Compensation granted to Tenants/Farmers, x x x filed a 'Motion for Leave of Court to Allow Correction of Caption and Amendment of Judgment' (referring to the Decision of PARAD of Cavite dated November 15, 1999 x x x) with a prayer 'x x x to include the name of the KALAYAAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION representing the following respondents herein above stated in the caption of [the] pleading.' Also, a Contract of Retainership dated April 4, 2001 was attached to the Motion x x x to make x x x KDC represented by Respondent, [the] retained x x x 'counsel on record' x x x. "After realizing that his motion failed to give him beneficial monetary gain from the PARAD judgment, a Petition for Preliminary Injunction with prayer for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and to Quash Alias Writ of Execution with Demolition plus Damages dated July 18, 2001 was filed by Respondent x x x before the DARAB Central Office, Quezon City, notwithstanding the fact that this instant case was appealed by another lawyer (Atty. Willy Roxas). x x x. "On the basis of this Petition, a Temporary Restraining Order by the DARAB Central Office, Quezon City, was issued on July 25, 2001 and an extension of or another Temporary Restraining Order was issued dated August 24, 2001, as a result of the active participation of Respondent x x x. "Emboldened by the two (2) TRO's coming from DARAB Central Office, Respondent x x x filed an Indirect Contempt case dated August 28, 2001 against Plus Builders Inc. and their Board of Directors, Edgardo Garcia and [its] counsel Atty. Leopoldo S. Gonzalez before the same Office. x x x. "Sensing a series of orders against herein Petitioners and considering, further, that the DARAB Central Office refused to hear arguments from Petitioners on the two (2) questionable TRO's, Petitioners decided to elevate the matter to the Court of Appeals by way of a Petition for Certiorari. A Decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals on [December] 20, 2001 stating that: 'WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed orders issued by the DARAB are hereby declared NULL AND VOID for having been issued without jurisdiction. Consequently, this Court sees no impediment for the IMPLEMENTATION of the 15 November 1999 Decision of the provincial adjudicator. 'SO ORDERED.' "This incident was further elevated to the Supreme Court by Respondent x x x through a Petition, but said Petition was dismissed with finality x x x. "Enraged by his defeat, Respondent x x x filed a verified "Action to Quiet Title" before the Regional Trial Court of Imus, Cavite praying for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), among others, to deliberately and maliciously stop the enforcement of the Decisions of the higher courts to implement the PARAD Decision dated November 15, 1999. x x x. xxx xxx xxx

"Respondent signed his pleading under a group of non-lawyers joining him in the practice of law as [KDC] LEGAL SERVICES, LAW OFFICERS AND ASSOCIATES which included KDC as law partners in violation of the Rules on the practice of law with non-lawyers. As a matter of fact, under the Retainership Contract submitted by Respondent before the PARAD of Cavite, it was specifically mentioned that legal fees were to be collected as counsel on record for the cooperative and respondent. Therefore, this contract was effectively used [for] unlawful solicitation of clients in the practice of law with non-lawyers, being the cooperative (KDC) to become "counsel on record [sic] x x x.

"On March 6, 2003, the Regional Trial Court of Imus, Cavite quashed the earlier issued TRO and dismissed the case on the ground of 'res judicata' because the Court of Appeals ruled that, 'x x x the Decision of the Provincial Adjudicator of DAR dated November 15, 1999 has already become final x x x' and that, prescription does not run against registered land. x x x."2 In his Answer3 dated March 29, 2004, respondent denied the charges against him. He averred that by filing the action to quiet title in Civil Case No. 2763-03, he had merely wanted to protect the rights and interests of his clients. According to him, they sincerely and honestly believed that their possession of the litigated land had already ripened into ownership. He explained thus: "Notwithstanding the claim of said farmers of tenancy relationship with [the] previous owner in the decisions of PARA[D], Court of Appeals and Supreme Court in the DISTURBANCE COMPENSATION CASES, (DARAB CASE NO. R-402-025-99; R-402-026-99; R-402-027-99; R-402-028-99; R-402-029-99; R-402-030-99; R-402031-99) the said farmers, are not precluded, by any law or jurisprudence, from entertaining in good faith an opinion or belief that they could legally be considered as owners of the subject-property precisely because of the undisputed fact that they have been in possession thereof in an open, continuous, public, uninterrupted possession for more than fifty (50) years. x x x. "It was on the basis of [a] sincere and honest belief and opinion o[f] acquiring ownership of the land through prescription that the said farmers had decided to pursue and file the Action to Quiet Title in Civil Case No. 276303, before the RTC of Imus, Cavite, Branch 20 x x x. xxx xxx xxx

"It should be stressed that the decisions of the PARA[D], Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court in DARAB CASE No. R-402-025-99; R-402-026-99; R-402-027-99; R-402-028-99; R-402-029-99; R-402-030-99; R-402031-99, [i]ndisputably refer only to the fixing of disturbance compensations. They did not in any way, involve [the] question of ownership of the subject property, which is the subject matter of Civil Case No. 2763-03, (Action to Quiet Title), filed before the RTC of Imus, Cavite, Branch 20. xxx xxx xxx

"As new counsel of the said farmers x x x, respondent has the complete discretion [of] what legal strategy or cause of action to undertake on their behalf and the complainant and their counsel have no business or right to interfere with or dictate [upon] the respondent on how to protect the rights and interests of said farmers under the applicable law and jurisprudence. xxx xxx xxx

"Respondent respectfully submits that he has not committed any illegal, unlawful, unjust, wrongful or immoral acts towards the complainant. Respondent, in good faith filed the aforesaid cases (Action to Quiet Title, RTC, Imus, Cavite, Branch 20; and Petition for Issuance of Preliminary Injunction and TRO, and Complaint before the Ombudsman), as a lawyer sworn to uphold justice and the law who was the bounden duty to exert utmost efforts to defend his client and protect his right, no matter how guilty or evil he appears to be, especially if they are poor and uneducated like the said farmers."4 In a Reply5 dated April 12, 2004, complainants emphasized that the nature of the possession of the subject land by respondent's clients had already been settled in the case for disturbance compensation. Complainants maintained that the PARAD Decision, which was sustained by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, clearly stated that these clients were mere tenants of the land. Thus, adverse possession could not be claimed by respondent in good faith, especially when he had previously acknowledged the rights of complainants as landowners.

On August 4, 2004, both parties appeared at a hearing scheduled by Edmund T. Espina, commissioner of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD). During the hearing, the parties were directed to submit their respective Memoranda. Report and Recommendation of the IBP-CBD In his April 30, 2005 Report,6 Investigating Commissioner Espina found respondent guilty of violating the attorney's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.7 Allegedly, respondent had "maliciously concealed the defeat of his clients in the case before the PARAD of Cavite and the higher courts,"8 in order to secure a temporary restraining order from the RTC of Imus, Cavite. As a result, he was able to delay the execution of the provincial adjudicator's Decision dated November 15, 1999. Moreover, Commissioner Espina opined that the charge that respondent had been engaged in the unlawful practice of law was neither satisfactorily explained nor specifically denied by the latter. The failure of respondent to do so led to the presumption that the allegation was true. Thus, his suspension from the practice of law for two years was recommended by the investigating commissioner. In Resolution No. XVII-2005-172,9 the board of governors of the IBP adopted the findings and recommendation of IBP Commissioner Espina. The Resolution, together with the records of the case, was transmitted to this Court for final action,10 pursuant to Rule 139B Section 12(b). The Court's Ruling We agree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP board of governors. Administrative Liability of Respondent Lawyers are officers of the court, called upon to assist in the administration of justice. They act as vanguards of our legal system,11 protecting and upholding truth and the rule of law.12 They are expected to act with honesty in all their dealings, especially with the courts. Verily, the Code of Professional Responsibility enjoins lawyers from committing or consenting to any falsehood in court or from allowing the courts to be misled by any artifice.13Moreover, they are obliged to observe the rules of procedure and not to misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.14 Good faith, fairness and candor constitute the essence of membership in the legal profession.15 Thus, while lawyers owe fidelity to the cause of their client, they must never abuse their right of recourse to the courts by arguing a case that has repeatedly been rejected. Neither should they use their knowledge of the law as an instrument to harass a party or to misuse judicial processes. These acts constitute serious transgression of their professional oath.16 In the present case, respondent claims good faith in pursuing the cause of his clients. The records show, however, that his course of legal action was obviously a stratagem. It was meant to delay unduly the execution of the provincial adjudicator's Decision dated November 15, 1999. It must be noted that when the Court of Appeals and this Court upheld that Decision, respondent resorted to a different forum to pursue his clients' lost cause. In the disturbance compensation case, he represented his clients as tenants and acknowledged that complainants were the owners of the subject land. In the action to quiet title, however, he conveniently repudiated his previous admission by falsely alleging that his clients were adverse possessors claiming bona fide ownership. Consequently, he was able to obtain a temporary restraining order preventing the execution of the provincial adjudicator's Decision.

Clearly, he was shielding his clients from the Order of execution. Contrary to his later claim of ownership of the land, he cannot feign ignorance of his previous admission of a tenancy relationship existing between his clients and complainants, as correctly observed by IBP Commissioner Espina. The propensity of respondent for doublespeak was also revealed in his declaration that his clients were pauper litigants. His prayer for an exemption to pay court fees, on the ground that they did not have sufficient income,17was granted by the trial court. Earlier, however, he admitted that they had engaged the services of his legal office for a fee of P20,000, in addition to P2,500 per appearance in court. Also, in the action to quiet title, he even alleged that they were willing to post a bond to answer for damages, in the event that the court ruled in favor of the defendants. These facts contravene his claim that his clients could not afford to pay the appropriate court fees. In support of the cause of their clients, lawyers have the duty to present every remedy or defense within the authority of the law. This obligation, however, must never be at the expense of truth and justice,18 as explained inChoa v. Chiongson:19 "While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to his genuine interest, and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights, as well as the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within the bounds of the law. He must give a candid and honest opinion on the merits and probable results of his client's case with the end in view of promoting respect for the law and legal processes, and counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to him to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law. He must always remind himself of the oath he took upon admission to the Bar that he 'will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit nor give aid nor consent to the same'; and that he 'will conduct [himself] as a lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [his] clients.' Needless to state, the lawyer's fidelity to his client must not be pursued at the expense of truth and the administration of justice, and it must be done within the bounds of reason and common sense. A lawyer's responsibility to protect and advance the interests of his client does not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives and malicious intentions against the other party."20 Moreover, we agree with the finding of IBP Commissioner Espina that the silence or failure of respondent to challenge the allegation that he allowed non-lawyers to engage in the unauthorized practice of law may be deemed an admission of the truth of the accusation. We note that complainants successfully substantiated their claim that respondent, who held himself out as a law partner of the "KDC Legal Services, Law Offices and Associates," was rendering legal services together with persons not licensed to practice law. His silence on this accusation is deemed an admission, especially because he had every chance to deny it.21 Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provide thus: "Canon 9 A lawyer shall not directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice of law. 'Rule 9.01 A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing.'" The significance of this professional norm was emphasized in Cambaliza v. Cristal-Tenorio,22 which we quote: "The lawyer's duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him not to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by,

any agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law."23 Respondent failed to live up to the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of law and justice. In line with jurisprudence, he is held liable for gross misconduct and is suspended from the practice of law. 24 WHEREFORE, Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr. is hereby found guilty of gross misconduct and is SUSPENDED for two years from the practice of law, effective upon his receipt of this Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent as attorney and served on the IBP, as well as on the court administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for their information and guidance. SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION Adm. Case No. 6290 July 14, 2004

ANA MARIE CAMBALIZA, complainant, vs. ATTY. ANA LUZ B. CRISTAL-TENORIO, respondent.

RESOLUTION

DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: In a verified complaint for disbarment filed with the Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on 30 May 2000, complainant Ana Marie Cambaliza, a former employee of respondent Atty. Ana Luz B. CristalTenorio in her law office, charged the latter with deceit, grossly immoral conduct, and malpractice or other gross misconduct in office. On deceit, the complainant alleged that the respondent has been falsely representing herself to be married to Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., who has a prior and subsisting marriage with another woman. However, through spurious means, the respondent and Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., were able to obtain a false marriage contract,1which states that they were married on 10 February 1980 in Manila. Certifications from the Civil Registry of Manila2and the National Statistics Office (NSO)3 prove that no record of marriage exists between them. The false date and place of marriage between the two are stated in the birth certificates of their two children, Donnabel Tenorio4and Felicisimo Tenorio III.5 But in the birth certificates of their two other children, Oliver Tenorio6 and John Cedric Tenorio,7 another date and place of marriage are indicated, namely, 12 February 1980 in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

As to grossly immoral conduct, the complainant alleged that the respondent caused the dissemination to the public of a libelous affidavit derogatory to Makati City Councilor Divina Alora Jacome. The respondent would often openly and sarcastically declare to the complainant and her co-employees the alleged immorality of Councilor Jacome. On malpractice or other gross misconduct in office, the complainant alleged that the respondent (1) cooperated in the illegal practice of law by her husband, who is not a member of the Philippine Bar; (2) converted her client's money to her own use and benefit, which led to the filing of an estafa case against her; and (3) threatened the complainant and her family on 24 January 2000 with the statement "Isang bala ka lang" to deter them from divulging respondent's illegal activities and transactions. In her answer, the respondent denied all the allegations against her. As to the charge of deceit, she declared that she is legally married to Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr. They were married on 12 February 1980 as shown by their Certificate of Marriage, Registry No. 2000-9108 of the Civil Registry of Quezon City.8 Her husband has no prior and subsisting marriage with another woman. As to the charge of grossly immoral conduct, the respondent denied that she caused the dissemination of a libelous and defamatory affidavit against Councilor Jacome. On the contrary, it was Councilor Jacome who caused the execution of said document. Additionally, the complainant and her cohorts are the rumormongers who went around the city of Makati on the pretext of conducting a survey but did so to besmirch respondent's good name and reputation. The charge of malpractice or other gross misconduct in office was likewise denied by the respondent. She claimed that her Cristal-Tenorio Law Office is registered with the Department of Trade and Industry as a single proprietorship, as shown by its Certificate of Registration of Business Name.9 Hence, she has no partners in her law office. As to the estafa case, the same had already been dropped pursuant to the Order of 14 June 1996 issued by Branch 103 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.10 The respondent likewise denied that she threatened the complainant with the words "Isang bala ka lang" on 24 January 2000. Further, the respondent averred that this disbarment complaint was filed by the complainant to get even with her. She terminated complainant's employment after receiving numerous complaints that the complainant extorted money from different people with the promise of processing their passports and marriages to foreigners, but she reneged on her promise. Likewise, this disbarment complaint is politically motivated: some politicians offered to re-hire the complainant and her cohorts should they initiate this complaint, which they did and for which they were re-hired. The respondent also flaunted the fact that she had received numerous awards and citations for civic works and exemplary service to the community. She then prayed for the dismissal of the disbarment case for being baseless. The IBP referred this case to Investigating Commissioner Atty. Kenny H. Tantuico. During the hearing on 30 August 2000, the parties agreed that the complainant would submit a Reply to respondent's Answer, while the respondent would submit a Rejoinder to the Reply. The parties also agreed that the Complaint, Answer, and the attached affidavits would constitute as the respective direct testimonies of the parties and the affiants.11 In her Reply, the complainant bolstered her claim that the respondent cooperated in the illegal practice of law by her husband by submitting (1) the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office12 where the name of Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is listed as a senior partner; and (2) a Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card13 signed by the respondent as Chairperson where her husband is identified as "Atty. Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr." She added that respondent's husband even appeared in court hearings. In her Rejoinder, respondent averred that she neither formed a law partnership with her husband nor allowed her husband to appear in court on her behalf. If there was an instance that her husband appeared in court, he did so as a representative of her law firm. The letterhead submitted by the complainant was a false reproduction to show that her husband is one of her law partners. But upon cross-examination, when confronted with the letterhead ofCristal-Tenorio Law Office bearing

her signature, she admitted that Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a lawyer, but he and a certain Gerardo A. Panghulan, who is also not a lawyer, are named as senior partners because they have investments in her law office.14 The respondent further declared that she married Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., on 12 February 1980 in Quezon City, but when she later discovered that their marriage contract was not registered she applied for late registration on 5 April 2000. She then presented as evidence a certified copy of the marriage contract issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar General and authenticated by the NSO. The erroneous entries in the birth certificates of her children as to the place and date of her marriage were merely an oversight.15 Sometime after the parties submitted their respective Offer of Evidence and Memoranda, the complainant filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint on 13 November 2002 after allegedly realizing that this disbarment complaint arose out of a misunderstanding and misappreciation of facts. Thus, she is no longer interested in pursuing the case. This motion was not acted upon by the IBP. In her Report and Recommendation dated 30 September 2003, IBP Commissioner on Bar Discipline Milagros V. San Juan found that the complainant failed to substantiate the charges of deceit and grossly immoral conduct. However, she found the respondent guilty of the charge of cooperating in the illegal practice of law by Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., in violation of Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility based on the following evidence: (1) the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office, which lists Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., as a senior partner; (2) the Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card of "Atty. Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr.," signed by respondent as Chairperson; (3) and the Order dated 18 June 1997 issued by the Metropolitan Trial Court in Criminal Cases Nos. 20729 20734, wherein Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., entered his appearance as counsel and even moved for the provisional dismissal of the cases for failure of the private complainants to appear and for lack of interest to prosecute the said cases. Thus, Commissioner San Juan recommended that the respondent be reprimanded. In its Resolution No. XVI-2003-228 dated 25 October 2003, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved with modification the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner San Juan. The modification consisted in increasing the penalty from reprimand to suspension from the practice of law for six months with a warning that a similar offense in the future would be dealt with more severely. We agree with the findings and conclusion of Commissioner San Juan as approved and adopted with modification by the Board of Governors of the IBP. At the outset, we find that the IBP was correct in not acting on the Motion to Withdraw Complaint filed by complainant Cambaliza. In Rayos-Ombac vs. Rayos,16 we declared: The affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case allegedly executed by complainant does not, in any way, exonerate the respondent. A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or lack of interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been duly proven. This rule is premised on the nature of disciplinary proceedings. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare. They are undertaken for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice in them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice. Hence, if the evidence on record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or disbarred despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the charges. Hence, notwithstanding the Motion to Withdraw Complaint, this disbarment case should proceed accordingly.

The IBP correctly found that the charges of deceit and grossly immoral conduct were not substantiated. In disbarment proceedings, the complainant has the burden of proving his case by convincing evidence.17 With respect to the estafa case which is the basis for the charge of malpractice or other gross misconduct in office, the respondent is not yet convicted thereof. In Gerona vs. Datingaling,18 we held that when the criminal prosecution based on the same act charged is still pending in court, any administrative disciplinary proceedings for the same act must await the outcome of the criminal case to avoid contradictory findings. We, however, affirm the IBP's finding that the respondent is guilty of assisting in the unauthorized practice of law. A lawyer who allows a non-member of the Bar to misrepresent himself as a lawyer and to practice law is guilty of violating Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which read as follows: Canon 9 A lawyer shall not directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice of law. Rule 9.01 A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing. The term "practice of law" implies customarily or habitually holding oneself out to the public as a lawyer for compensation as a source of livelihood or in consideration of his services. Holding one's self out as a lawyer may be shown by acts indicative of that purpose like identifying oneself as attorney, appearing in court in representation of a client, or associating oneself as a partner of a law office for the general practice of law.19 Such acts constitute unauthorized practice of law. In this case, Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a lawyer, but he holds himself out as one. His wife, the respondent herein, abetted and aided him in the unauthorized practice of the legal profession. At the hearing, the respondent admitted that the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office listed Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., Gerardo A. Panghulan, and Maricris D. Battung as senior partners. She admitted that the first two are not lawyers but paralegals. They are listed in the letterhead of her law office as senior partners because they have investments in her law office.20 That is a blatant misrepresentation. The Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card is another proof that the respondent assisted Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., in misrepresenting to the public that he is a lawyer. Notably, the identification card stating that he is "Atty. Felicisimo Tenorio, Jr.," bears the signature of the respondent as Chairperson of the Group. The lawyer's duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him not to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law.21 WHEREFORE, for culpable violation of Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, respondent Atty. Ana Luz B. Cristal-Tenorio is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months effective immediately, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely. Let copies of this Resolution be attached to respondent Cristal-Tenorio's record as attorney in this Court and furnished to the IBP and the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION A.C. No. 6317 August 31, 2006 LUZVIMINDA C. LIJAUCO, Complainant, vs. ATTY. ROGELIO P. TERRADO, Respondent. DECISION YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: On February 13, 2004, an administrative complaint1 was filed by complainant Luzviminda C. Lijauco against respondent Atty. Rogelio P. Terrado for gross misconduct, malpractice and conduct unbecoming of an officer of the court when he neglected a legal matter entrusted to him despite receipt of payment representing attorneys fees. According to the complainant, she engaged the services of respondent sometime in January 2001 for P70,000.00 to assist in recovering her deposit with Planters Development Bank, Buendia, Makati branch in the amount of P180,000.00 and the release of her foreclosed house and lot located in Calamba, Laguna. The property identified as Lot No. 408-C-2 and registered as TCT No. T-402119 in the name of said bank is the subject of a petition for the issuance of a writ of possession then pending before the Regional Trial Court of Binan, Laguna, Branch 24 docketed as LRC Case No. B-2610. Complainant alleged that respondent failed to appear before the trial court in the hearing for the issuance of the Writ of Possession and did not protect her interests in the Compromise Agreement which she subsequently entered into to end LRC Case No. B-2610.2 Respondent denied the accusations against him. He averred that the P70,000.00 he received from complainant was payment for legal services for the recovery of the deposit with Planters Development Bank and did not include LRC Case No. B-2610 pending before the Regional Trial Court of Bian, Laguna. The complaint was referred3 to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. On September 21, 2005, the Investigating Commissioner submitted his report finding respondent guilty of violating Rules 1.01 and 9.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provide: Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Rule 9.02 A lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal services with persons not licensed to practice law, except: a) Where there is a pre-existing agreement with a partner or associate that, upon the latters death, money shall be paid over a reasonable period of time to his estate or to the persons specified in the agreement; or b) Where a lawyer undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer; or c) Where a lawyer or law firm includes non-lawyer employees in a retirement plan, even if the plan is based in whole or in part, on a profit-sharing arrangement.

In finding the respondent guilty of violating Rules 1.01 and 9.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Investigating Commissioner opined that: In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant. To be made the suspension or disbarment of a lawyer, the charge against him must be established by convincing proof. The record must disclose as free from doubt a case which compels the exercise by the Supreme Court of its disciplinary powers. The dubious character of the act done as well as of the motivation thereof must be clearly demonstrated. x x x. In the instant scenario, despite the strong protestation of respondent that the Php70,000.00 legal fees is purely and solely for the recovery of the Php180,000.00 savings account of complainant subsequent acts and events say otherwise, to wit: 1.) The Php70,000.00 legal fees for the recovery of a Php180,000.00 savings deposit is too high; 2.) Respondent actively acted as complainants lawyer to effectuate the compromise agreement. By openly admitting he divided the Php70,000.00 to other individuals as commission/referral fees respondent violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal services with persons not licensed to practice law. Worst, by luring complainant to participate in a compromise agreement with a false and misleading assurance that complainant can still recover after Three (3) years her foreclosed property respondent violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which says a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.4 The Investigating Commissioner thus recommended: WHEREFORE, finding respondent responsible for aforestated violations to protect the public and the legal profession from his kind, it is recommended that he be suspended for Six (6) months with a stern warning that similar acts in the future will be severely dealt with.5 The IBP Board of Governors adopted the recommendation of the investigating commissioner.6 We agree with the findings of the IBP. The practice of law is a privilege bestowed on those who show that they possessed and continue to possess the legal qualifications for it. Indeed, lawyers are expected to maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty, integrity and fair dealing. They must perform their fourfold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients, in accordance with the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.7 Lawyers are prohibited from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct8 and are mandated to serve their clients with competence and diligence.9 They shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to them, and this negligence in connection therewith shall render them liable.10 Respondents claim that the attorneys fee pertains only to the recovery of complainants savings deposit from Planters Development Bank cannot be sustained. Records show that he acted as complainants counsel in the drafting of the compromise agreement between the latter and the bank relative to LRC Case No. B-2610. Respondent admitted that he explained the contents of the agreement to complainant before the latter affixed her signature. Moreover, the Investigating Commissioner observed that the fee of P70,000.00 for legal assistance in the recovery of the deposit amounting to P180,000.00 is unreasonable. A lawyer shall charge only fair and reasonable fees.11 Respondents disregard for his clients interests is evident in the iniquitous stipulations in the compromise agreement where the complainant conceded the validity of the foreclosure of her property; that the redemption period has already

expired thus consolidating ownership in the bank, and that she releases her claims against it.12As found by the Investigating Commissioner, complainant agreed to these concessions because respondent misled her to believe that she could still redeem the property after three years from the foreclosure. The duty of a lawyer to safeguard his clients interests commences from his retainer until his discharge from the case or the final disposition of the subject matter of litigation. Acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of fidelity to the clients cause. The canons of the legal profession require that once an attorney agrees to handle a case, he should undertake the task with zeal, care and utmost devotion.13 Respondents admission14 that he divided the legal fees with two other people as a referral fee does not release him from liability. A lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal services with persons not licensed to practice law, except in certain cases.15 Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended on the following grounds: 1) deceit; 2) malpractice, or other gross misconduct in office; 3) grossly immoral conduct; 4) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; 5) violation of the lawyers oath; 6) willful disobedience to any lawful order of a superior court; and 7) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without authority. In Santos v. Lazaro16 and Dalisay v. Mauricio, Jr.,17 we held that Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is a basic postulate in legal ethics. When a lawyer takes a clients cause, he covenants that he will exercise due diligence in protecting his rights. The failure to exercise that degree of vigilance and attention makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust reposed in him by his client and makes him answerable not just to his client but also to the legal profession, the courts and society. A lawyer should give adequate attention, care and time to his clients case. Once he agrees to handle a case, he should undertake the task with dedication and care. If he fails in this duty, he is not true to his oath as a lawyer. Thus, a lawyer should accept only as much cases as he can efficiently handle in order to sufficiently protect his clients interests. It is not enough that a lawyer possesses the qualification to handle the legal matter; he must also give adequate attention to his legal work. Utmost fidelity is demanded once counsel agrees to take the cudgels for his clients cause.18 In view of the foregoing, we find that suspension from the practice of law for six months is warranted. In addition, he is directed to return to complainant the amount he received by way of legal fees pursuant to existing jurisprudence.19 WHEREFORE, Atty. Rogelio P. Terrado is found GUILTY of violating Rules 1.01, 9.02, 18.02 and 20.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months effective from notice, and STERNLY WARNED that any similar infraction will be dealt with more severely. He is further ordered toRETURN, within thirty (30) days from notice, the sum of P70,000.00 to complainant Luzviminda C. Lijauco and to submit to this Court proof of his compliance within three (3) days therefrom. Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent and served on the IBP, as well as on the Court Administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for their information and guidance. SO ORDERED. CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila

EN BANC A.C. No. 7136 August 1, 2007

JOSELANO GUEVARRA, complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, respondent. DECISION PER CURIAM: Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4, 2002 a Complaint for Disbarment1 before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala a.k.a. Noli Eala (respondent) for "grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyer's oath." In his complaint, Guevarra gave the following account: He first met respondent in January 2000 when his (complainant's) then-fiancee Irene Moje (Irene) introduced respondent to him as her friend who was married to Marianne (sometimes spelled "Mary Ann") Tantoco with whom he had three children. After his marriage to Irene on October 7, 2000, complainant noticed that from January to March 2001, Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone calls, as well as messages some of which read "I love you," "I miss you," or "Meet you at Megamall." Complainant also noticed that Irene habitually went home very late at night or early in the morning of the following day, and sometimes did not go home from work. When he asked about her whereabouts, she replied that she slept at her parents' house in Binangonan, Rizal or she was busy with her work. In February or March 2001, complainant saw Irene and respondent together on two occasions. On the second occasion, he confronted them following which Irene abandoned the conjugal house. On April 22, 2001, complainant went uninvited to Irene's birthday celebration at which he saw her and respondent celebrating with her family and friends. Out of embarrassment, anger and humiliation, he left the venue immediately. Following that incident, Irene went to the conjugal house and hauled off all her personal belongings, pieces of furniture, and her share of the household appliances. Complainant later found, in the master's bedroom, a folded social card bearing the words "I Love You" on its face, which card when unfolded contained a handwritten letter dated October 7, 2000, the day of his wedding to Irene, reading: My everdearest Irene, By the time you open this, you'll be moments away from walking down the aisle. I will say a prayer for you that you may find meaning in what you're about to do. Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me to find fleeting happiness but experience eternal pain? Is it only for us to find a true love but then lose it again? Or is it because there's a bigger plan for the two of us? I hope that you have experienced true happiness with me. I have done everything humanly possible to love you. And today, as you make your vows . . . I make my own vow to YOU!

I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you from the first time I laid eyes on you, to the time we spent together, up to the final moments of your single life. But more importantly, I will love you until the life in me is gone and until we are together again. Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I have enough memories of us to last me a lifetime. Always remember though that in my heart, in my mind and in my soul, YOU WILL ALWAYS . . . AND THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO! BE MINE . . . . AND MINE ALONE, and I WILL ALWAYS BE YOURS AND YOURS ALONE! I LOVE YOU FOREVER, I LOVE YOU FOR ALWAYS. AS LONG AS I'M LIVING MY TWEETIE YOU'LL BE!"2 Eternally NOLI yours,

Complainant soon saw respondent's car and that of Irene constantly parked at No. 71-B 11th Street, New Manila where, as he was to later learn sometime in April 2001, Irene was already residing. He also learned still later that when his friends saw Irene on or about January 18, 2002 together with respondent during a concert, she was pregnant. In his ANSWER,3 respondent admitted having sent the I LOVE YOU card on which the above-quoted letter was handwritten. On paragraph 14 of the COMPLAINT reading: 14. Respondent and Irene were even FLAUNTING THEIR ADULTEROUS RELATIONSHIP as they attended social functions together. For instance, in or about the third week of September 2001, the couple attended the launch of the "Wine All You Can" promotion of French wines, held at the Mega Strip of SM Megamall B at Mandaluyong City. Their attendance was reported in Section B of the Manila Standard issue of 24 September 2001, on page 21. Respondent and Irene were photographed together; their picture was captioned: "Irene with Sportscaster Noli Eala." A photocopy of the report is attached as Annex C.4 (Italics and emphasis in the original; CAPITALIZATION of the phrase "flaunting their adulterous relationship" supplied), respondent, in his ANSWER, stated: 4. Respondent specifically denies having ever flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the truth of the matter being that their relationship was low profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families, and that Respondent, as far as the general public was concerned, was still known to be legally married to Mary Anne Tantoco.5 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) On paragraph 15 of the COMPLAINT reading: 15. Respondent's adulterous conduct with the complainant's wife and his apparent abandoning or neglecting of his own family, demonstrate his gross moral depravity, making him morally unfit to keep his membership in the bar. He flaunted his aversion to the institution of marriage, calling it a "piece of paper." Morally reprehensible was his writing the love letter to complainant's bride on the very day of her wedding, vowing to continue his love for her "until we are together again," as now they are.6 (Underscoring supplied), respondent stated in his ANSWER as follows:

5. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 15 of the Complaint regarding his adulterousrelationship and that his acts demonstrate gross moral depravity thereby making him unfit to keep his membership in the bar, the reason being that Respondent's relationship with Irene was not under scandalous circumstances and that as far as his relationship with his own family: 5.1 Respondent has maintained a civil, cordial and peaceful relationship with [his wife] Mary Anne as in fact they still occasionally meet in public, even if Mary Anne is aware of Respondent's special friendship with Irene. xxxx 5.5 Respondent also denies that he has flaunted his aversion to the institution of marriage by calling the institution of marriage a mere piece of paper because his reference [in his above-quoted handwritten letter to Irene] to the marriage between Complainant and Irene as a piece of paper was merely with respect to the formality of the marriage contract.7 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Respondent admitted8 paragraph 18 of the COMPLAINT reading: 18. The Rules of Court requires lawyers to support the Constitution and obey the laws. The Constitution regards marriage as an inviolable social institution and is the foundation of the family (Article XV, Sec. 2).9 And on paragraph 19 of the COMPLAINT reading: 19. Respondent's grossly immoral conduct runs afoul of the Constitution and the laws he, as a lawyer, has been sworn to uphold. In pursuing obsessively his illicit love for the complainant's wife, he mocked the institution of marriage, betrayed his own family, broke up the complainant's marriage, commits adultery with his wife, and degrades the legal profession.10 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied), respondent, in his ANSWER, stated: 7. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the Complaint, the reason being thatunder the circumstances the acts of Respondent with respect to his purely personal and low profile special relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral conduct as would be a ground for disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.11 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) To respondent's ANSWER, complainant filed a REPLY,12 alleging that Irene gave birth to a girl and Irene named respondent in the Certificate of Live Birth as the girl's father. Complainant attached to the Reply, as Annex "A," a copy of a Certificate of Live Birth13 bearing Irene's signature and naming respondent as the father of her daughter Samantha Irene Louise Moje who was born on February 14, 2002 at St. Luke's Hospital. Complainant's REPLY merited a REJOINDER WITH MOTION TO DISMISS14 dated January 10, 2003 from respondent in which he denied having "personal knowledge of the Certificate of Live Birth attached to the complainant's Reply."15 Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint due to the pendency of a civil case filed by complainant for the annulment of his marriage to Irene, and a criminal complaint for adultery against respondent and Irene which was pending before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office. During the investigation before the IBP-CBD, complainant's Complaint-Affidavit and Reply to Answer were adopted as his testimony on direct examination.16 Respondent's counsel did not cross-examine complainant.17 After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, in a 12-page REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION18 dated October 26, 2004, found the charge against respondent sufficiently proven.

The Commissioner thus recommended19 that respondent be disbarred for violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility reading: Rule 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Underscoring supplied), and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code reading: Rule 7.03: A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. (Underscoring supplied) The IBP Board of Governors, however, annulled and set aside the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner and accordingly dismissed the case for lack of merit, by Resolution dated January 28, 2006 briefly reading: RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2006-06 CBD Joselano Atty. a.k.a. Noli Eala Case C. No. Guevarra 02-936 vs. Eala

Jose

Emmanuel

M.

RESOLVED to ANNUL and SET ASIDE, as it is hereby ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE, the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and to APPROVE the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled case for lack of merit.20 (Italics and emphasis in the original) Hence, the present petition21 of complainant before this Court, filed pursuant to Section 12 (c), Rule 13922 of the Rules of Court. The petition is impressed with merit. Oddly enough, the IBP Board of Governors, in setting aside the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner and dismissing the case for lack of merit, gave no reason therefor as its above-quoted 33-word Resolution shows. Respondent contends, in his Comment23 on the present petition of complainant, that there is no evidence against him.24 The contention fails. As the IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner observed: While it may be true that the love letter dated October 7, 2000 (Exh. "C") and the news item published in theManila Standard (Exh. "D"), even taken together do not sufficiently prove that respondent is carrying on an adulterous relationship with complainant's wife, there are other pieces of evidence on record which support the accusation of complainant against respondent. It should be noted that in his Answer dated 17 October 2002, respondent through counsel made the following statements to wit: "Respondent specifically denies having [ever] flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph [14] of the Complaint, the truth of the matter being [that] their relationship was low profile and known only to immediate members of their respective families . . . , and Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the complaint, the reason being that under the circumstances the acts of the respondents with respect to his purely personal and low profile relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral conduct . . ."

These statements of respondent in his Answer are an admission that there is indeed a "special" relationship between him and complainant's wife, Irene, [which] taken together with the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha Louise Irene Moje (Annex "H-1") sufficiently prove that there was indeed an illicit relationship between respondent and Irene which resulted in the birth of the child "Samantha". In the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha it should be noted that complainant's wife Irene supplied the information that respondent was the father of the child. Given the fact that the respondent admitted his special relationship with Irene there is no reason to believe that Irene would lie or make any misrepresentation regarding the paternity of the child. It should be underscored that respondent has not categorically denied that he is the father of Samantha Louise Irene Moje.25 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Indeed, from respondent's Answer, he does not deny carrying on an adulterous relationship with Irene, "adultery" being defined under Art. 333 of the Revised Penal Code as that "committed by any married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her, knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void."26 (Italics supplied) What respondent denies ishaving flaunted such relationship, he maintaining that it was "low profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families." In other words, respondent's denial is a negative pregnant, a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial facts in the pleading responded to which are not squarely denied. It was in effect an admission of the averments it was directed at. Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a form of negative expression which carries with it in affirmation or at least an implication of some kind favorable to the adverse party. It is a denial pregnant with an admission of the substantial facts alleged in the pleading. Where a fact is alleged with qualifying or modifying language and the words of the allegation as so qualified or modified are literally denied, it has been held that thequalifying circumstances alone are denied while the fact itself is admitted.27 (Citations omitted; emphasis and underscoring supplied) A negative pregnant too is respondent's denial of having "personal knowledge" of Irene's daughter Samantha Louise Irene Moje's Certificate of Live Birth. In said certificate, Irene named respondent a "lawyer," 38 years old as the child's father. And the phrase "NOT MARRIED" is entered on the desired information on "DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE." A comparison of the signature attributed to Irene in the certificate28 with her signature on the Marriage Certificate29 shows that they were affixed by one and the same person. Notatu dignum is that, as the Investigating Commissioner noted, respondent never denied being the father of the child. Franklin A. Ricafort, the records custodian of St. Luke's Medical Center, in his January 29, 2003 Affidavit30 which he identified at the witness stand, declared that Irene gave the information in the Certificate of Live Birth that the child's father is "Jose Emmanuel Masacaet Eala," who was 38 years old and a lawyer.31 Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between respondent and Irene has been sufficiently proven by more than clearly preponderant evidence that evidence adduced by one party which is more conclusive and credible than that of the other party and, therefore, has greater weight than the other32 which is the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative case against a lawyer. Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases. . . . of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal case, proof beyond reasonable doubt is necessary; in an administrative case for disbarment or suspension, "clearly preponderant evidence" is all that is required.33 (Emphasis supplied) Respondent insists, however, that disbarment does not lie because his relationship with Irene was not, under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, reading:

SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a competent court or other disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been admitted as an attorney is a ground for his disbarment or suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the acts hereinabove enumerated. The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall be prima facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension (Emphasis and underscoring supplied), under scandalous circumstances.34 The immediately-quoted Rule which provides the grounds for disbarment or suspension uses the phrase "grossly immoral conduct," not "under scandalous circumstances." Sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances is, following Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code reading: ART. 334. Concubinage. - Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods. x x x x, an element of the crime of concubinage when a married man has sexual intercourse with a woman elsewhere. "Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of marriage should be characterized as 'grossly immoral conduct' depends on the surrounding circumstances."35 The case at bar involves a relationship between a married lawyer and a married woman who is not his wife. It is immaterial whether the affair was carried out discreetly. Apropos is the following pronouncement of this Court in Vitug v. Rongcal:36 On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extra-marital affair with complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not "so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree" in order to merit disciplinary sanction. We disagree. xxxx While it has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations between two unmarriedadults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for such illicit behavior, it is not so with respect tobetrayals of the marital vow of fidelity. Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under penal law, sexual relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifestsdeliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws.37 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) And so is the pronouncement in Tucay v. Atty. Tucay:38 The Court need not delve into the question of whether or not the respondent did contract a bigamous marriage . . . It is enough that the records of this administrative case substantiate the findings of the Investigating

Commissioner, as well as the IBP Board of Governors, i.e., that indeed respondent has beencarrying on an illicit affair with a married woman, a grossly immoral conduct and indicative of an extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his profession. This detestable behaviorrenders him regrettably unfit and undeserving of the treasured honor and privileges which his license confers upon him.39 (Underscoring supplied) Respondent in fact also violated the lawyer's oath he took before admission to practice law which goes: I _________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution andobey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well as to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God. (Underscoring supplied) Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article XV (The Family) of the Constitution reading: Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State. In this connection, the Family Code (Executive Order No. 209), which echoes this constitutional provision, obligates the husband and the wife "to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support."40 Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in "unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct," and Rule 7.03 of Canon7 of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in any "conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law." Clutching at straws, respondent, during the pendency of the investigation of the case before the IBP Commissioner, filed a Manifestation41 on March 22, 2005 informing the IBP-CBD that complainant's petition for nullity of his (complainant's) marriage to Irene had been granted by Branch 106 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, and that the criminal complaint for adultery complainant filed against respondent and Irene "based on the same set of facts alleged in the instant case," which was pending review before the Department of Justice (DOJ), on petition of complainant, had been, on motion of complainant, withdrawn. The Secretary of Justice's Resolution of January 16, 2004 granting complainant's Motion to Withdraw Petition for Review reads: Considering that the instant motion was filed before the final resolution of the petition for review, we are inclined to grant the same pursuant to Section 10 of Department Circular No. 70 dated July 3, 2000, which provides that "notwithstanding the perfection of the appeal, the petitioner may withdraw the same at any time before it is finally resolved, in which case the appealed resolution shall stand as though no appeal has been taken."42 (Emphasis supplied by complainant) That the marriage between complainant and Irene was subsequently declared void ab initio is immaterial. The acts complained of took place before the marriage was declared null and void.43 As a lawyer, respondent should be aware that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.44 In carrying on an extra-marital affair with Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage with complainant was null and void, and despite respondent himself being married, he showed disrespect for an institution held sacred by the law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer.

As for complainant's withdrawal of his petition for review before the DOJ, respondent glaringly omitted to state thatbefore complainant filed his December 23, 2003 Motion to Withdraw his Petition for Review, the DOJ had already promulgated a Resolution on September 22, 2003 reversing the dismissal by the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office of complainant's complaint for adultery. In reversing the City Prosecutor's Resolution, DOJ Secretary Simeon Datumanong held: Parenthetically the totality of evidence adduced by complainant would, in the fair estimation of the Department, sufficiently establish all the elements of the offense of adultery on the part of both respondents. Indeed, early on, respondent Moje conceded to complainant that she was going out on dates with respondent Eala, and this she did when complainant confronted her about Eala's frequent phone calls and text messages to her. Complainant also personally witnessed Moje and Eala having a rendezvous on two occasions. Respondent Eala never denied the fact that he knew Moje to be married to complainant[.] In fact, he (Eala) himself was married to another woman. Moreover, Moje's eventual abandonment of their conjugal home, after complainant had once more confronted her about Eala, only served to confirm the illicit relationship involving both respondents. This becomes all the more apparent by Moje's subsequent relocation in No. 71-B, 11th Street, New Manila, Quezon City, which was a few blocks away from the church where she had exchange marital vows with complainant. It was in this place that the two lovers apparently cohabited. Especially since Eala's vehicle and that of Moje's were always seen there. Moje herself admits that she came to live in the said address whereas Eala asserts that that was where he held office. The happenstance that it was in that said address that Eala and Moje had decided to hold office for the firm that both had formed smacks too much of a coincidence. For one, the said address appears to be a residential house, for that was where Moje stayed all throughout after her separation from complainant. It was both respondent's love nest, to put short; their illicit affair that was carried out there bore fruit a few months later when Moje gave birth to a girl at the nearby hospital of St. Luke's Medical Center. What finally militates against the respondents is the indubitable fact that in the certificate of birth of the girl, Moje furnished the information that Eala was the father. This speaks all too eloquently of the unlawful and damning nature of the adulterous acts of the respondents. Complainant's supposed illegal procurement of the birth certificate is most certainly beside the point for bothrespondents Eala and Moje have not denied, in any categorical manner, that Eala is the father of the child Samantha Irene Louise Moje.45 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) It bears emphasis that adultery is a private offense which cannot be prosecuted de oficio and thus leaves the DOJ no choice but to grant complainant's motion to withdraw his petition for review. But even if respondent and Irene were to be acquitted of adultery after trial, if the Information for adultery were filed in court, the same would not have been a bar to the present administrative complaint. Citing the ruling in Pangan v. Ramos,46 viz: x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the criminal charge is not a bar to these [administrative] proceedings. The standards of legal profession are not satisfied by conduct which merely enables one to escape the penalties of x x x criminal law. Moreover, this Court, in disbarment proceedings is acting in an entirely different capacity from that which courts assume in trying criminal case47 (Italics in the original), this Court in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pools, Inc. v. Atty. Naldoza,48 held: Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they mayproceed independently of civil and criminal cases. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Resolution No. XVII-2006-06 passed on January 28, 2006 by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, is DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct, violation of his oath of office, and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately executory, be made part of the records of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines. And let copies of the Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all courts. This Decision takes effect immediately. SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court Manila EN BANC CONRADO QUE, Complainant, A.C. No. 7054 PUNO, C J., CARPIO, CORONA, CARPIO MORALES, CHICO-NAZARIO, VELASCO, JR., NACHURA, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, BRION, PERALTA, BERSAMIN, DEL CASTILLO, ABAD, and VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. Promulgated: December 4, 2009 x ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x DECISION PER CURIAM: In a complaint for disbarment,[1] Conrado Que (complainant) accused Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr. (respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Committee on Bar Discipline (IBP Committee on Bar Discipline or CBD) of committing the following violations of the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138 of the Rules of Court:

versus -

ATTY. ANASTACIO REVILLA, JR. Respondent.

(1) The respondents abuse of court remedies and processes by filing a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA), two petitions for annulment of title before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), a petition for annulment of judgment before the RTC and lastly, a petition for declaratory relief before the RTC (collectively, subject cases) to assail and overturn the final judgments of the Metropolitan Trial Court[2] (MeTC) and RTC[3] in the unlawful detainer case rendered against the respondents clients. The respondent in this regard, repeatedly raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction by the MeTC and RTC knowing fully-well that these courts have jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer case. The respondent also repeatedly attacked the complainants and his siblings titles over the property subject of the unlawful detainer case; (2) The respondents commission of forum-shopping by filing the subject cases in order to impede, obstruct, and frustrate the efficient administration of justice for his own personal gain and to defeat the right of the complainant and his siblings to execute the MeTC and RTC judgments in the unlawful detainer case; (3) The respondents lack of candor and respect towards his adversary and the courts by resorting to falsehood and deception to misguide, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice. The respondent asserted falsehood in the motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of the petition for annulment of judgment by fabricating an imaginary order issued by the presiding judge in open court which allegedly denied the motion to dismiss filed by the respondents in the said case. The complainant alleged that the respondent did this to cover up his lack of preparation; the respondent also deceived his clients (who were all squatters) in supporting the above falsehood.[4] (4) The respondents willful and revolting falsehood that unjustly maligned and defamed the good name and reputation of the late Atty. Alfredo Catolico (Atty. Catolico), the previous counsel of the respondents clients. (5) The respondents deliberate, fraudulent and unauthorized appearances in court in the petition for annulment of judgment for 15 litigants, three of whom are already deceased; (6) The respondents willful and fraudulent appearance in the second petition for annulment of title as counsel for the Republic of the Philippines without being authorized to do so.

Additionally, the complaint accused the respondent of representing fifty-two (52) litigants in Civil Case No. Q-0348762 when no such authority was ever given to him. The CBD required the respondent to answer the complaint.

In his Answer,[5] the respondent declared that he is a member of the Kalayaan Development Cooperative (KDC) that handles pro bono cases for the underprivileged, the less fortunate, the homeless and those in the marginalized sector in Metro Manila. He agreed to take over the cases formerly handled by other KDC members. One of these cases was the unlawful detainer case handled by the late Atty. Catolico where the complainant and his siblings were the plaintiffs and the respondents present clients were the defendants.

With respect to paragraph 1 of the disbarment complaint, the respondent professed his sincerity, honesty and good faith in filing the petitions complained of; he filed these petitions to protect the interests of his clients in their property. The respondent asserted that these petitions were all based on valid grounds the lack of jurisdiction of the MeTC and the RTC over the underlying unlawful detainer case, the extrinsic fraud committed by the late Atty. Catolico, and the extrinsic fraud committed by the complainant and his family against his clients; he discovered that the allegedly detained property did not really belong to the complainant and his family but is a forest land. The respondent also asserted that his resort to a petition for annulment of judgment and a petition for declaratory relief to contest the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC were all parts of his legal strategy to protect the interests of his clients.

On the allegations of falsehood in the motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal of the petition for annulment of judgment (covered by paragraph 3 of the disbarment complaint), the respondent maintained that his allegations were based on his observations and the notes he had taken during the proceedings on what the presiding judge dictated in open court.

The respondent denied that he had made any unauthorized appearance in court (with respect to paragraphs 5 and 6 of the disbarment complaint). He claimed that the 52 litigants in Civil Case No. Q-03-48762 were impleaded by inadvertence; he immediately rectified his error by dropping them from the case. On the petition for annulment of judgment, the respondent claimed that a majority (31 out of 49) of the litigants who signed the certification constituted sufficient compliance with the rules on forum-shopping. The respondent likewise denied having represented the Republic of the Philippines in the second petition for annulment of title. The respondent pointed out that there was no allegation whatsoever that he was the sole representative of both the complainants (his clients) and the Republic of the Philippines. The respondent pointed out that the petition embodied a request to the Office of the Solicitor General to represent his clients in the case.[6] The respondent submitted that he did not commit any illegal, unlawful, unjust, wrongful or immoral acts towards the complainant and his siblings. He stressed that he acted in good faith in his dealings with them and his conduct was consistent with his sworn duty as a lawyer to uphold justice and the law and to defend the interests of his clients. The respondent additionally claimed that the disbarment case was filed because the complainants counsel, Atty. Cesar P. Uy (Atty. Uy), had an axe to grind against him.

Lastly, the respondent posited in his pleadings[7] before the IBP that the present complaint violated the rule on forum shopping considering that the subject cases were also the ones on which a complaint was filed against him in CBD Case No. 03-1099 filed by Atty. Uy before the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline. The respondent also posited that the present complaint was filed to harass, ridicule and defame his good name and reputation and, indirectly, to harass his clients who are marginalized members of the KDC.

The Findings of the Investigating Commissioner

Except for the last charge of unauthorized appearance on behalf of 52 litigants in Civil Case No. Q-03-48762, Investigating Commissioner Renato G. Cunanan[8](Investigating Commissioner Cunanan) found all the charges against the respondent meritorious. In his Report and Recommendation, he stated: While an attorney admittedly has the solemn duty to defend and protect the cause and rights of his client with all the fervor and energy within his command, yet, it is equally true that it is the primary duty of the lawyer to defend the dignity, authority and majesty of the law and the courts which enforce it. A lawyer is not at liberty to maintain and defend the cause of his clients thru means, inconsistent with truth and honor. He may not and must not encourage multiplicity of suits or brazenly engage in forumshopping.[9]

On the first charge on abuse of court processes, Investigating Commissioner Cunanan noted the unnecessary use by the respondent of legal remedies to forestall the execution of the final decisions of the MTC and the RTC in the unlawful detainer case against his clients.[10]

On the second charge, the Investigating Commissioner ruled that the act of the respondent in filing two petitions for annulment of title, a petition for annulment of judgment and later on a petition for declaratory relief were all done to prevent the execution of the final judgment in the unlawful detainer case and constituted prohibited forum-shopping.[11]

On the third and fourth charges, Investigating Commissioner Cunanan found ample evidence showing that the respondent was dishonest in dealing with the court as shown in his petition for annulment of judgment; he resorted to falsities and attributed acts to Atty. Catolico and to the presiding judge, all of which were untrue. [12]

On the fifth and sixth charges, the Investigating Commissioner disregarded the respondents explanation that he had no intention to represent without authority 15 of the litigants (three of whom were already deceased) in the petition for

annulment of judgment (Civil Case No. Q-01-45556). To the Investigating Commissioner, the respondent merely glossed over the representation issue by claiming that the authority given by a majority of the litigants complied with the certification of non-forum shopping requirement. The Investigating Commissioner likewise brushed aside the respondents argument regarding his misrepresentation in the second complaint for annulment of title since he knew very well that only the Solicitor General can institute an action for reversion on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. Despite this knowledge, the respondent solely signed the amended complaint for and on behalf of his clients and of the Republic. The Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline, through its Resolution No. XVII-2005-164 on CBD Case No. 03-1100, adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of Investigating Commissioner Cunanan and recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years.[13] On reconsideration, the Board of Governors reduced the respondents suspension from the practice of law to one (1) year.[14] The Issue

The case poses to us the core issues of whether the respondent can be held liable for the imputed unethical infractions and professional misconduct, and the penalty these transgressions should carry.

The Courts Ruling

Except for the penalty, we agree with the Report and Recommendation of Investigating Commissioner Cunanan and the Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline.

We take judicial notice that this disbarment complaint is not the only one so far filed involving the respondent; another complaint invoking similar grounds has previously been filed. In Plus Builders, Inc. and Edgardo C. Garcia v. Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr.,[15] we suspended the respondent from the practice of law for his willful and intentional falsehood before the court; for misuse of court procedures and processes to delay the execution of a judgment; and for collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal practice of law. We initially imposed a suspension of two (2) years, but in an act of leniency subsequently reduced the suspension to six (6) months.[16] Abuse of court procedures and processes

The following undisputed facts fully support the conclusion that the respondent is guilty of serious misconduct for abusing court procedures and processes to shield his clients from the execution of the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC in the unlawful detainer case against these clients:

First, the respondent filed a petition for certiorari (docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 53892) with prayer for the issuance of preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to question the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC for lack of jurisdiction. In dismissing the respondents petition, the CA held: Even for the sake of argument considering that the petition case be the proper remedy, still it must be rejected for failure of petitioners to satisfactorily demonstrate lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City over the ejectment case.[17]

Second, notwithstanding the CAs dismissal of the petition for certiorari, the respondent again questioned the MeTCs and the RTCs lack of jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer case in a petition for annulment of judgment (docketed as Civil Case No. Q-01-45556) before the RTC with an ancillary prayer for the grant of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The RTC dismissed this petition on the basis of the motion to dismiss filed.[18]

Third, the respondent successively filed two petitions (docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-38780 and Civil Case No. Q-02-46885) for annulment of the complainants title to the property involved in the unlawful detainer case. The records show that these petitions were both dismissed for lack of legal personality on the part of the plaintiffs to file the petition.[19]

Fourth, after the dismissals of the petition for annulment of judgment and the petitions for annulment of title, the respondent this time filed a petition for declaratory relief with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the complainant and his siblings from exercising their rights over the same property subject of the unlawful detainer case. The respondent based the petition on the alleged nullity of the complainants title because the property is a part of forest land.

Fifth, the persistent applications by the respondent for injunctive relief in the four petitions he had filed in several courts the petition for certiorari, the petition for annulment of judgment, the second petition for annulment of complainants title and the petition for declaratory relief reveal the respondents persistence in preventing and avoiding the execution of the final decisions of the MeTC and RTC against his clients in the unlawful detainer case.

Under the circumstances, the respondents repeated attempts go beyond the legitimate means allowed by professional ethical rules in defending the interests of his client. These are already uncalled for measures to avoid the enforcement of final judgments of the MeTC and RTC. In these attempts, the respondent violated Rule 10.03, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which makes it obligatory for a lawyer to observe the rules of procedure and. . . not [to] misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. By his actions, the respondent used procedural rules to thwart and obstruct the speedy and efficient administration of justice, resulting in prejudice to the winning parties in that case.[20]

Filing of multiple actions and forum shopping

The respondent likewise violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,[21] as well as the rule against forum shopping, both of which are directed against the filing of multiple actions to attain the same objective. Both violations constitute abuse of court processes; they tend to degrade the administration of justice; wreak havoc on orderly judicial procedure;[22] and add to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the courts.[23]

While the filing of a petition for certiorari to question the lower courts jurisdiction may be a procedurally legitimate (but substantively erroneous) move, the respondents subsequent petitions involving the same property and the same parties not only demonstrate his attempts to secure favorable ruling using different fora, but his obvious objective as well of preventing the execution of the MeTC and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case against his clients. This intent is most obvious with respect to the petitions for annulment of judgment and declaratory relief, both geared towards preventing the execution of the unlawful detainer decision, long after this decision had become final. Willful, intentional and deliberate falsehood before the courts

The records also reveal that the respondent committed willful, intentional and deliberate falsehood in the pleadings he filed with the lower courts.

First, in the petition for annulment of judgment filed before the RTC, Branch 101, Quezon City, the respondent cited extrinsic fraud as one of the grounds for the annulment sought. The extrinsic fraud was alleged in the last paragraph of the petition, as follows: In here, counsel for the petitioners (defendants therein), deliberately neglected to file the proper remedy then available after receipt of the denial of their Motion for Reconsideration thuscorruptly sold out the interest of the petitioners (defendants therein) by keeping them away to the Court and in complete ignorance of the suit by a false pretense of compromise and fraudulent acts of alleging representing them when in truth and in fact, have connived with the attorney of the prevailing party at his defeat to the prejudice of the petitioner (defendants therein) [24]

Yet, in paragraph 35 of the same petition, the respondent alleged that no second motion for reconsideration or for new trial, or no other petition with the CA had been filed, as he believed that the decisions rendered both by the MeTC and the RTC are null and void.[25] These conflicting claims, no doubt, involve a fabrication made for the purpose of supporting the petition for annulment. Worse, it involved a direct and unsubstantiated attack on the reputation of a law office colleague, another violation we shall separately discuss below.

Second, the respondent employed another obvious subterfuge when he filed his second petition for annulment of title, which was an unsuccessful attempt to circumvent the rule that only the Solicitor General may commence reversion proceedings of public lands[26] on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. This second petition, filed by a private party and not by the Republic, showed that: (a) the respondent and his clients requested that they be represented by the Solicitor General in the proceedings; (b) the Republic of the Philippines was simply impleaded in the amended petition without its consent as a plaintiff; and (c) the respondent signed the amended petition where he alone stood as counsel for the plaintiffs. In this underhanded manner, the respondent sought to compel the Republic to litigate and waste its resources on an unauthorized and unwanted suit.

Third, the respondent also committed falsehood in his motion for reconsideration of the order dismissing his petition for annulment of judgment where he misrepresented to the court and his clients what actually transpired in the hearing of June 28, 2002 in this wise: Likewise, the proceedings on said date of hearing (June 28, 2002) show, that after both counsel have argued on the aforesaid pending incident, the Honorable Presiding Judge, in open court, and in the presence and within the hearing distance of all the plaintiffs and their counsel as well as the counsel of the defendants resolved: TO DENY THE MOTION TO DISMISS FILED AND DIRECTED DEFENDANTS COUNSEL TO FILE AN ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT WITHIN THE REMAINING PERIOD.[27][Underscoring and emphasis theirs]

The records, however, disclose that the scheduled hearing for June 28, 2002 was actually for the respondents application for temporary restraining order and was not a hearing on the adverse partys motion to dismiss.[28] The records also show that RTC-Branch 101 held in abeyance the respondents application for injunctive relief pending the resolution of the motion to dismiss filed by the adverse party.[29] As stated in the order of the Presiding Judge of RTC-Branch 101: Browsing over the records of this case specifically the transcripts of stenographic notes as transcribed by the Stenographer, the same will indicate that the allegations in the Motion for Reconsideration are not true. how can this Court make a ruling on the matter even without stating the factual and legal bases as required/mandated by the Rules. Moreover, there are no indications or iota of irregularity in the preparation by Stenographer of the transcripts, and by the Court interpreter of the Minutes of the open Court session.[Underscoring theirs] The records further disclose that despite knowledge of the falsity of his allegations, the respondent took advantage of his position and the trust reposed in him by his clients (who are all squatters) to convince them to support, through their affidavits, his false claims on what allegedly transpired in the June 28, 2002 hearing. [30]

For these acts, we find the respondent liable under Rule 10.01 of Canon 10 the Code of Professional Responsibility for violating the lawyers duty to observe candor and fairness in his dealings with the court. This provision states: CANON 10 A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court, nor shall he mislead or allow the Court to be mislead by an artifice.

Likewise, the respondent violated his duty as an attorney and his oath as a lawyer never to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law.[31] The respondent failed to remember that his duty as an officer of the court makes him an indispensable participant in the administration of justice,[32] and that he is expected to act candidly, fairly and truthfully in his work.[33] His duty as a lawyer obligates him not to conceal the truth from the court, or to mislead the court in any manner, no matter how demanding his duties to his clients may be.[34] In case of conflict, his duties to his client yield to his duty to deal candidly with the court.[35] In defending his clients interest, the respondent also failed to observe Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which reads:

CANON 19 A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF LAW Rule 19.01 A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his clients x x x

This Canon obligates a lawyer, in defending his client, to employ only such means as are consistent with truth and honor.[36] He should not prosecute patently frivolous and meritless appeals or institute clearly groundless actions.[37] The recital of what the respondent did to prevent the execution of the judgment against his clients shows that he actually committed what the above rule expressly prohibits. Maligning the name of his fellow lawyers

To support the charge of extrinsic fraud in his petition for annulment of judgment, the respondent attacked (as quoted above) the name and reputation of the late Atty. Catolico and accused him of deliberate neglect, corrupt motives and connivance with the counsel for the adverse party. We find it significant that the respondent failed to demonstrate how he came upon his accusation against Atty. Catolico. The respondent, by his own admission, only participated in the cases previously assigned to Atty. Catolico after the latter died. At the same time, the respondents petition for annulment of judgment also represented that no second motion for reconsideration or appeal was filed to contest the MeTC and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case for the reason that the respondent believed the said decisions were null and void ab initio. Under these circumstances, we believe that the respondent has been less than fair in his professional relationship with Atty. Catolico and is thus liable for violating Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which obligates a lawyer to conduct himself with courtesy, fairness, and candor toward his professional colleagues. He was unfair because he imputed wrongdoing to Atty. Catolico without showing any factual basis therefor; he effectively maligned Atty. Catolico, who is now dead and unable to defend himself. Unauthorized appearances

We support Investigating Commissioner Cunanans finding that the respondent twice represented parties without proper authorization: first, in the petition for annulment of judgment; and second, in the second petition for annulment of title.[38]

In the first instance, the records show that the respondent filed the petition for annulment of judgment on behalf of 49 individuals, 31 of whom gave their consent while the other 15 individuals did not. We cannot agree with the respondents off-hand explanation that he truly believed that a majority of the litigants who signed the certification of nonforum shopping in the petition already gave him the necessary authority to sign for the others. We find it highly improbable that this kind of lapse could have been committed by a seasoned lawyer like the respondent, who has been engaged in the practice of law for more than 30 years and who received rigid and strict training as he so proudly declares, from the University of the Philippines College of Law and in the two law firms with which he was previously associated.[39]As Investigating Commissioner Cunanan found, the respondents explanation of compliance with the rule on the certification of non-forum shopping glossed over the real charge of appearing in court without the proper authorization of the parties he allegedly represented. In the second instance, which occurred in the second complaint for annulment of title, the respondent knew that only the Solicitor General can legally represent the Republic of the Philippines in actions for reversion of land. Nevertheless, he filed an amended petition where he impleaded the Republic of the Philippines as plaintiff without its authority and consent, as a surreptitious way of forcing the Republic to litigate. Notably, he signed the amended complaint on behalf of all the plaintiffs his clients and the Republic.

In both instances, the respondent violated Sections 21 and 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court when he undertook the unauthorized appearances. The settled rule is that a lawyer may not represent a litigant without authority from the latter or from the latters representative or, in the absence thereof, without leave of court.[40] The willful unauthorized appearance by a lawyer for a party in a given case constitutes contumacious conduct and also warrants disciplinary measures against the erring lawyer for professional misconduct.[41]

The Respondents Defenses

We find no merit in the respondents defenses.

Good faith connotes an honest intention to abstain from taking unconscientious advantage of another. Accordingly, in University of the East v. Jader we said that "[g]ood faith connotes an honest intention to abstain from taking undue advantage of another, even though the forms and technicalities of law, together with the absence of all information or belief of facts, would render the transaction unconscientious."[42] Bad faith, on the other hand, is a state of mind

affirmatively operating with furtive design or with some motive of self-interest, ill will or for an ulterior purpose.[43] As both concepts are states of mind, they may be deduced from the attendant circumstances and, more particularly, from the acts and statements of the person whose state of mind is the subject of inquiry. In this case, we find that the respondent acted in bad faith in defending the interests of his clients. We draw this conclusion from the misrepresentations and the dubious recourses he made, all obviously geared towards forestalling the execution of the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC. That he took advantage of his legal knowledge and experience and misread the Rules immeasurably strengthen the presence of bad faith. We find neither sincerity nor honest belief on the part of the respondent in pleading the soundness and merit of the cases that he filed in court to prevent the execution of the MeTC and RTC decisions, considering his own conduct of presenting conflicting theories in his petitions. The succession of cases he filed shows a desperation that negates the sincere and honest belief he claims; these are simply scattershot means to achieve his objective of avoiding the execution of the unlawful detainer judgment against his clients.

On the respondents allegations regarding his discretion to determine legal strategy, it is not amiss to note that this was the same defense he raised in the first disbarment case.[44] As we explained in Plus Builders, the exercise of a lawyers discretion in acting for his client can never be at the expense of truth and justice. In the words of this cited case: While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to his genuine interest, and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights, as well as the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within the bounds of the law. He must give a candid and honest opinion on the merits and probable results of his clients case with the end in view of promoting respect for the law and legal processes, and counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to him to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law. He must always remind himself of the oath he took upon admission to the Bar that he will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit nor give aid nor consent to the same; and that he will conduct [himself] as a lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [his] clients. Needless to state, the lawyers fidelity to his client must not be pursued at the expense of truth and the administration of justice, and it must be done within the bounds of reason and common sense. A lawyers responsibility to protect and advance the interests of his client does not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives and malicious intentions against the other party.[45]

We cannot give credence to the respondents claim that the disbarment case was filed because the counsel of the complainant, Atty. Uy, had an axe to grind against him. We reject this argument, considering that it was not Atty. Uy who filed the present disbarment case against him; Atty. Uy is only the counsel in this case. In fact, Atty. Uy has filed his own separate disbarment case against the respondent.

The sui generis nature of a disbarment case renders the underlying motives of the complainants unimportant and with very little relevance. The purpose of a disbarment proceeding is mainly to determine the fitness of a lawyer to continue acting as an officer of the court and a participant in the dispensation of justice an issue where the complainants personal motives have little relevance. For this reason, disbarment proceedings may be initiated by the Court motu proprio upon information of an alleged wrongdoing. As we also explained in the case In re: Almacen: . . .disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this proceeding is not - and does not involve - a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution. x x x

It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of-the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor.[46]

Hence, we give little or no weight to the alleged personal motivation that drove the complainant Que and his counsel to file the present disbarment case. Conclusion Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the respondent committed various acts of professional misconduct and thereby failed to live up to the exacting ethical standards imposed on members of the Bar. We cannot agree, however, that only a penalty of one-year suspension from the practice of law should be imposed. Neither should we limit ourselves to the originally recommended penalty of suspension for two (2) years.

Given the respondents multiple violations, his past record as previously discussed, and the nature of these violations which shows the readiness to disregard court rules and to gloss over concerns for the orderly administration of justice, we believe and so hold that the appropriate action of this Court is to disbar the respondent to keep him away from the law profession and from any significant role in the administration of justice which he has disgraced. He is a continuing risk, too, to the public that the legal profession serves. Not even his ardor and overzealousness in defending the interests

of his client can save him. Such traits at the expense of everything else, particularly the integrity of the profession and the orderly administration of justice, this Court cannot accept nor tolerate.

Additionally, disbarment is merited because this is not the respondents first ethical infraction of the same nature. We penalized him in Plus Builders, Inc. and Edgardo Garcia versus Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla for his willful and intentional falsehood before the court; for misuse of court procedures and processes to delay the execution of a judgment; and for collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal practice of law. We showed leniency then by reducing his penalty to suspension for six (6) months. We cannot similarly treat the respondent this time; it is clear that he did not learn any lesson from his past experience and since then has exhibited traits of incorrigibility. It is time to put a finis to the respondents professional legal career for the sake of the public, the profession and the interest of justice.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby AFFIRM Resolution No. XVII-2005-164 dated December 17, 2005 and Resolution No. XVII-2008-657 dated December 11, 2008 of the Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline insofar as respondent Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr. is found liable forprofessional misconduct for violations of the Lawyers Oath; Canon 8; Rules 10.01 and 10.03, Canon 10; Rules 12.02 and 12.04, Canon 12; Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility; and Sections 20(d), 21 and 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. However, we modify the penalty the IBP imposed, and hold that the respondent should be DISBARRED from the practice of law.

SO ORDERED.

REYNATO S. PUNO Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA Associate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA Associate Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA Associate Justice LUCAS P. BERSAMIN Associate Justice MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO Associate Justice ROBERTO A. ABAD Associate Justice

SECOND DIVISION

This is an administrative complaint filed against Atty. Ramon S. Dio by Carmelina Y. Rangwani before this Court. In her complaint, Rangwani alleged that sometime in the years 1995 to 1996, Atty. Dio befriended her. Owing to his status in the community as a good lawyer and businessman, respondent was able to convince the complainant to part with her title to a parcel of land located in Dasmarias, Cavite, under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 2791-97, Entry 5320102. After the lapse of five months, complainant demanded the return of her title from respondent who promised to return the same but failed to do so. After ten months, respondent was nowhere to be found. Complainant, with the help of an informer, was able to locate respondent who turned out to have transferred his residence to Makati City. Upon confrontation, respondent retorted that he could not give back the title to the land. Instead, he offered to buy the property. Thus, he issued the following checks[1] to complainant: Check No. 0062631 0062632 0062633 0062634 Date May 15, 1999 June 15, 1999 July 15, 1999 July 30, 1999 Amount P50,000.00 50,000.00 50,000.00 52,570.00

When deposited, all the checks bounced for the reason closed account.

In the year 1999, complainant filed Criminal Cases No. 55666, No. 57029, No. 276070, and No. 279784 for violation of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 22 against the respondent. Warrants for the arrest of respondent in relation to these cases were issued.[2] On 29 August 2001, this Court, acting on the Complaint, issued a resolution requiring the respondent to comment thereon on the complaint.[3] On 22 November 2001, respondent filed an Omnibus Motion for Leave of Court to Admit Comment and for a Formal Hearing. In this motion, he bared that the Courts resolution requiring him to comment was sent to his parents residence. He claimed he has been living for the past two years in a rented house at Signal Village, Taguig, Metro Manila, and has been in the province for the last three weeks attending to business concerns. He said he was not aware that a disbarment complaint has been filed against him. While he admitted that there were cases previously filed by complainant against him, said cases had already been withdrawn and the corresponding desistance, waiver and quitclaim had been signed by her and that complainant had in fact received (already) the monetary claims or their equivalent involving said cases.[4] Respondent was, therefore, under the belief that all those cases had been dismissed. Hence, he said, he was unaware that warrants for his arrest were issued. He had been a lawyer for the past twenty-three years and this is the first and only case filed against him before the Court and in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). He was a working student who took various jobs at the early age of seventeen. He took the 1977 bar exams and landed No. 13 with an average of 88.88%. He said his title as a lawyer and his license to practice are the only legacies he can leave to his children; hence, he prays that he be given the chance to be heard formally to be able to air his side. On 16 January 2002, complainant filed her counter-affidavit[5] disputing her alleged withdrawal of this complaint and the denial by the respondent of the standing warrants of arrest against him arising out of the incident in question. The same was referred to the IBP. In a resolution dated 28 January 2002,[6] this Court resolved to grant respondents Omnibus Motion for Leave of Court to Admit Comment on the administrative complaint and for a Formal Hearing, and noted the comment therein. The case was referred to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation within ninety days from notice. On 02 May 2002, complainant submitted a letter[7] to the IBP withdrawing the complaint she filed against respondent, stating that after much reflection and recall of the antecedent facts that led to the filing of the complaint, I have finally decided to withdraw the same as it arose purely out of misunderstanding and miscommunication and definitely not warranting any disciplinary action much less disbarment and apologize for whatever inconvenience the complaint had cause[d] the office. In an Order dated 19 June 2002, Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala of the IBP, Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), to whom the case was assigned for investigation, report and recommendation, notified the parties to appear for a hearing at said office on 03 July 2002. Per order dated 03 July 2002 of Commissioner Maala, it appears that when the case was called for hearing, neither complainant nor respondent appeared. It was not shown, however, whether they received notices of the scheduled hearing, hence, the same was ordered cancelled and reset to 17 July 2002. In a resolution dated 05 August 2002, this Court acting on the letter of complainant dated 02 May 2002, resolved to note the same and referred it to the IBP. On 07 October 2002, complainant submitted to the IBP a motion to hold and to quash withdrawal of the administrative case expressing a desire to actively pursue her complaint. According to complainant, respondent begged her to dismiss the administrative complaint she filed and promised to settle his obligations with her. It was only for this reason that she agreed to sign a written withdrawal of her complaint. This was, however, a mere promise which remained unfulfilled.[8] Not very long after, on 25 October 2002, complainant again filed before the IBP a Motion to Dismiss Complaint. As is usual in desistance, complainant manifested her interest to have the complaint dismissed after what she said was a mature reflection, realizing that respondent had served her faithfully, honorably and well in the various cases that he had handled for her at a time when she needed it most. She articulated that the cases she had filed against the respondent have long been settled between them and should have been dismissed by the Court, but she was not aware that

respondents presence is necessary for the dismissal of those cases, and she could not locate respondent. She only discovered later on that he was actually taken very ill due to hypertension and gastro-intestinal problems. On the other hand, respondent, in an effort to exculpate himself, averred he was under the impression that complainant would take care and see to the dismissal of the said cases against him. To convince the IBP that the case should be dismissed, complainant likewise claimed that respondent had no more obligation to her because the same had been offset by legal services rendered by the latter after an accounting was taken.[9] In an Order dated 05 November 2002, issued by IBP Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, the parties were notified to attend a hearing on the case which was set on 04 December 2002.[10] This scheduled hearing was, however, reset to 12 December 2002 for failure of the complainant to appear on the earlier date.[11] At the hearing set on 12 December 2002, both parties appeared but complainant moved to reset on 29 January 2003 without objection from the respondent.[12] On 31 January 2003, the IBP, in Compliance[13] with this Courts resolution dated 20 November 2002[14] directing it to submit a status report on the case every first day of the month until termination of the investigation, stated that because of complainants failure to appear and affirm her Affidavit of Desistance despite several hearings set by the Commission, it now considered the cases submitted for report and recommendation and to be decided on the merits thereof. Per report of Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, respondent Atty. Ramon S. Dio was found to have committed gross misconduct, and he was, thus, recommended to be suspended for a period of one year from the practice of his profession as a lawyer and member of the bar. This was reduced to six months by the IBP Board of Governors in a resolution dated 21 June 2003, which reads: RESOLUTION NO. XV-2003-343 Adm. Case No. 5454 Carmelina Y. Rangwani vs. Atty. Ramon S. Dio RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, with modification as to penalty to conform to the evidence, and considering that respondents issuance of checks in violation of the provisions of B.P. 22 constitutes serious misconduct and in addition respondent committed gross misconduct when he failed to comply his promise to complainant to settle the case, Atty. Ramon S. Dio is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months. We agree with the IBPs finding of guilt as the same is fully anchored on the evidence on record and on applicable laws, rules and jurisprudence. Quite conspicuously, despite the opportunities accorded to respondent to refute the charges against him, he failed to do so or even offer a valid explanation. The record is bereft of any evidence to show that respondent has presented any countervailing evidence to meet the charges against him. His nonchalance does not speak well of him as it reflects his utter lack of respect towards the public officers who were assigned to investigate the cases.[15] On the contrary, respondents comments only markedly admitted complainants accusations.[16] When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he denies the charges against him. He must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him. He must show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is expected of him.[17] These, the respondent miserably failed to do. Respondent relies, quite heavily, on the complainants move to dismiss the complaint, to secure exoneration. His reliance is misplaced. Firstly, because the same has not been confirmed and substantiated by the complainant at all as she failed to appear in the hearings scheduled for the purpose despite due notice. Secondly, and most importantly, we have consistently looked with disfavor upon such desistance of complainants because of legal and jurisprudential injunction. Section 5, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 5. Service or dismissal. . . . . ... No investigation shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of the desistance, settlement, compromise, restitution, withdrawal of the charges, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the same. In Bais v. Tugaoen,[18] the Court frowned upon the complainants affidavit of desistance, hence, in spite of it, proceeded with the complaint against the erring judge. In Reyes-Domingo v. Morales,[19] we expostulated that: The withdrawal of a complaint for lack of interest of a complainant does not necessarily warrant the dismissal of an administrative complaint (Dagsa-an v. Conag, 290 SCRA 12 [1998]). The Court cannot be bound by the unilateral decision of a complainant to desist from prosecuting a case involving the discipline of parties subject to its administrative supervision (Zamora v. Jumamoy, 238 SCRA 587 [1994]). The need to maintain the faith and confidence of our people in the government and its agencies and instrumentalities demands that proceedings in administrative cases against public officers and employees should not be made to depend on the whims and caprices of complainants who are, in a real sense, only witnesses (Sy v. Academia, 198 SCRA 705 [1991]). The later case of Executive Judge Pacifico S. Bulado v. Domingo Tiu, Jr. (A.M. No. P-96-1211, 31 March 2000, pp. 4-5, 329 SCRA 308), more pointedly stated that While complainant in this case may have forgiven respondent, this Court, charged as it is with enforcing discipline in the judiciary, cannot simply close its eyes to respondents acts of extreme intransigence. Withdrawal of the complaint will not free respondent from his administrative liability (Estreller v. Manatad, Jr., 268 SCRA 608 [1997]), particularly because administrative proceedings are imbued with public interest, public office being a public trust (Gacho v. Fuentes, Jr., 291 SCRA 474 [1998]). The need to maintain the faith and confidence of the people in the government, its agencies and its instrumentalities requires that proceedings in administrative cases should not be made to depend on the whims and caprices of the complainants who are, in a real sense, only witnesses therein (Estreller v. Manatad, supra; Gacho v. Fuentes, supra). The court cannot be bound by the unilateral act of a complainant in a matter that involves its disciplinary authority over all employees of the judiciary; otherwise, our disciplinary power may be put to naught (Sandoval v. Manalo, 260 SCRA 611 [1996]). Finally, in Bolivar v. Simbol,[20] the Court, citing In re Davies,[21] ruled that the discipline of lawyers cannot be cut short by a compromise or withdrawal of charges: It is contended on the part of the plaintiff in error that this settlement operated as an absolution and remission of his offense. This view of the case ignores the fact that the exercise of the power is not for the purpose of enforcing civil remedies between parties, but to protect the court and the public against an attorney guilty of unworthy practices in his profession. He had acted in clear disregard of his duty as an attorney at the bar, and without good fidelity to his client. The public had rights which Mrs. Curtis could not thus settle or destroy. The unworthy act had been fully consummated. Respondents act of having borrowed the title to the land of complainant, his presumed use of the said title for his personal gain, his failure to return the same despite repeated demands and worse, his issuance of three checks in exchange for the said land title which bounced, constitute gross misconduct for which he must be disciplined. In this connection Rule 16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is unequivocal. It states:

Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.[22] In the case of Judge Adoracion G. Angeles v. Atty. Thomas Uy, Jr.,[23] this Court held: The relationship between a lawyer and a client is highly fiduciary; it requires a high degree of fidelity and good faith. It is designed to remove all such temptation and to prevent everything of that kind from being done for the protection of the client (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1992 ed., p. 188). Thus, Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession. Furthermore, Rule 16.01 of the Code also states that a lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client. The Canons of Professional Ethics is even more explicit: The lawyer should refrain from any action whereby for his personal benefit or gain he abuses or takes advantages of the confidence reposed in him by his client. Money of the client collected for the client or other trust property coming into the possession of the lawyer should be reported and accounted for promptly and should not under any circumstances be commingled with his own or be used by him. This Court, in several cases,[24] has time and again ruled that the fiduciary duty of a lawyer and advocate is what places the law profession in a unique position of trust and confidence, and distinguishes it from any other calling. Once this trust and confidence is betrayed, the faith of the people not only in the individual lawyer but also in the legal profession as a whole is eroded. To this end, all members of the bar are strictly required to at all times maintain the highest degree of public confidence in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of their profession. Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that a lawyer should observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his client.[25] A lawyer may be disciplined for any conduct, in his professional or private capacity, that renders him unfit to continue to be an officer of the court. Every lawyer should act and comport himself in such a manner that would promote public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession.[26] Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility commands all lawyers at all times to uphold the dignity and integrity of the legal profession.[27] Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides: SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court; grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. The question now arises as to the proper penalty to be imposed. As to the propriety of imposing the supreme penalty of disbarment, the rule is that disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court.[28] While we will not hesitate to remove an erring attorney from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers, where the evidence calls for it, we will also not disbar him where a lesser penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end.[29] In this case, we find

suspension to be a sufficient sanction against respondent - suspension being primarily intended not as a punishment, but as a means to protect the public and the legal profession.[30] The following cases rendered by this Court and the penalties imposed thereto where Rule 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility finds application are enlightening. In the earlier case of Aya v. Bigornia,[31] the Court ruled that money collected by a lawyer in favor of his clients must be immediately turned over to them and failure to do so merits a penalty of suspension for six months. In Daroy v. Legaspi,[32] the Court held that lawyers are bound to promptly account for money or property received by them on behalf of their clients and failure to do constitutes professional misconduct warranting disbarment. Subsequently, in the case of Obia v. Catimbang,[33] respondent Atty. Basilio M. Catimbang was ordered indefinitely suspended for failure to return the amount of P11,000 entrusted to him. Still later, in Dumadag v. Lumaya,[34] the Court likewise ordered the indefinite suspension of Atty. Ernesto L. Lumaya for his receipt of and failure to deliver the amount of P4,344 to his client, complainant in the case. In the case of Burbe v. Magulta,[35] this Court imposed upon Atty. Magulta the penalty of suspension for one (1) year for his conversion into legal fees the filing fee entrusted to him by his client. In the case of Nuez v. Ricafort,[36] this Court ordered the indefinite suspension of Atty. Romulo Ricafort for his act of issuing bad checks in satisfaction of an alias writ of execution for money judgment rendered against him. Therein, the Court held: There is no need to stretch ones imagination to arrive at an inevitable conclusion that respondent gravely abused the confidence that complainant reposed in him and committed dishonesty when he did not turn over the proceeds of the sale of her property. Worse, with palpable bad faith, he compelled the complainant to go to court for the recovery of the proceeds of the sale and, in the process, to spend money, time and energy therefore. Then, despite his deliberate failure to answer the complaint resulting in his having been declared in default, he appealed from the judgment to the Court of Appeals. Again, bad faith attended such a step because he did not pay the docket fee despite notice. Needless to state, respondent wanted to prolong the travails and agony of the complainant and to enjoy the fruits of what rightfully belongs to the latter. Unsatisfied with what he had already unjustly and unlawfully done to complainant, respondent issued checks to satisfy the alias writ of execution. But, remaining unrepentant of what he had done and in continued pursuit of a clearly malicious plan not to pay complainant of what had been validly and lawfully adjudged by the court against him, respondent closed the account against which the checks were drawn. There was deceit in this. Respondent never had the intention of paying his obligation as proved by the fact that despite the criminal cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, he did not pay the obligation. While the case of Nuez v. Ricafort[37] holds some similarity to the present case, it is material to note that this is the first time that a complaint of this nature has been filed against the respondent. Likewise, unlike the Nuez case, the criminal cases filed by the complainant have not been finally disposed of, hence, no conviction against respondent was ever obtained. On all fours to this case is the case of Lao v. Medel.[38] Respondent Atty. Robert W. Medel, who issued four checks which were subsequently dishonored totaling twenty-two thousand pesos (P22,000) in payment of his outstanding obligation, was ordered suspended for one year by this Court in line with the cases of Co. v. Bernardino,[39]Ducat, Jr. v. Villalon, Jr.,[40] and Saburnido v. Madroo.[41] Finally, in the most recent case of Isidra Barrientos, et al. v. Atty. Elerizza A. Libiran-Meteoro,[42] this Court imposed upon respondent Atty. Elerizza Libiran-Meteoro the penalty of suspension for six (6) months for having issued several checks to the complainants in payment of a pre-existing debt without sufficient funds We have held that the issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account indicates a lawyers unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on her. It shows a lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to render her unworthy of public confidence. The issuance of a series of worthless checks also shows the remorseless attitude of respondent, unmindful to the deleterious effects of such act to the public interest and public order. It also manifests a lawyers low regard to her commitment to the oath she has taken when she joined her peers, seriously and irreparably tarnishing the image of the profession she should hold in high esteem.

This Court justified the imposition of a lighter penalty of six months upon Atty. Libiran-Meteoro instead of one year as was imposed in the case of Lao v. Medel[43] on the ground of Atty. Libiran-Meteoros payment of a portion of her debt to the complainant. In the same manner, we find that the lesser penalty of six months cannot be imposed upon herein respondent Atty. Dio on the ground that, just like the case of Lao v. Medel, there is no showing of any restitution whatsoever in this case on the part of the respondent. Likewise, the fraudulent manner by which he was able to entice complainant to entrust to him the title to her land should also be taken into account. As was so aptly stated in Cuizon v. Macalino:[44] Such conduct indicates the respondents unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on him, shows such lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to render him unworthy of public confidence and constitutes a ground for disciplinary action. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Ramon S. Dio is found guilty of GROSS MISCONDUCT and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. Respondents suspension is effective upon his receipt of notice of this Decision. Let notice of this Decision be spread on respondents record as an attorney in this Court, and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts concerned. SO ORDERED. Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur. Tinga, J., no part, relationship to a party.

SECOND DIVISION

ATTY. EDITA NOE-LACSAMANA, Complainant,

A.C. No. 7269

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson, - versus BRION, PEREZ, SERENO, and

REYES, JJ.

ATTY. YOLANDO F. BUSMENTE, Respondent.

Promulgated: November 23, 2011

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DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a complaint for disbarment filed by Atty. Edita Noe-Lacsamana (Noe-Lacsamana) against Atty. Yolando F. Busmente (Busmente) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

The Antecedent Facts

Noe-Lacsamana alleged in her complaint that she was the counsel for Irene Bides, the plaintiff in Civil Case No. SCA-2481 before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 167, while Busmente was the counsel for the defendant Imelda B. Ulaso (Ulaso). Noe-Lacsamana alleged that Ulasos deed of sale over the property subject of Civil Case No. SCA-2481 was annulled, which resulted in the filing of an ejectment case before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), San Juan, docketed as Civil Case No. 9284, where Busmente appeared as counsel. Another case for falsification was filed against Ulaso where Busmente also appeared as counsel. Noe-Lacsamana alleged that one Atty. Elizabeth Dela Rosa or Atty. Liza Dela Rosa (Dela Rosa) would accompany Ulaso in court, projecting herself as Busmentes collaborating counsel. Dela Rosa signed the minutes of the court proceedings in Civil Case No. 9284 nine times from 25 November 2003 to 8 February 2005. Noe-Lacsamana further alleged that the court orders and notices specified Dela Rosa as Busmentes collaborating counsel. Noe-Lacsamana alleged that upon verification with this Court and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, she discovered that Dela Rosa was not a lawyer.

Busmente alleged that Dela Rosa was a law graduate and was his paralegal assistant for a few years. Busmente alleged that Dela Rosas employment with him ended in 2000 but Dela Rosa was able to continue misrepresenting herself as a lawyer with the help of Regine Macasieb (Macasieb), Busmentes former secretary. Busmente alleged that he did not represent Ulaso in Civil Case No. 9284 and that his signature in the Answer1 presented as proof by Noe-Lacsamana was forged.

The Decision of the Commission on Bar Discipline

In its Report and Recommendation,2 the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) found that Dela Rosa was not a lawyer and that she represented Ulaso asBusmentes collaborating counsel in Civil Case No. 9284. The IBP-CBD noted that while Busmente claimed that Dela Rosa no longer worked for him since 2000, there was no proof of her separation from employment. The IBP-CBD found that notices from the MTC San Juan, as well as the pleadings of the case, were all sent to Busmentesdesignated office address. The IBP-CBD stated that Busmentes only excuse was that Dela Rosa connived with his former secretary Macasieb so that the notices and pleadings would not reach him.

The IBP-CBD rejected the affidavit submitted by Judy M. Ortalez (Ortalez), Busmentes staff, alleging Macasiebs failure to endorse pleadings and notices of Civil Case No. 9284 to Busmente. The IBP-CBD noted that Ortalez did not exactly refer to Ulasos case in her affidavit and that there was no mention that she actually witnessed Macasiebwithholding pleadings and notices from Busmente. The IBP-CBD also noted that Macasieb was still working at Busmentes office in November 2003 as shown by the affidavit attached to a Motion to Lift Order of Default that she signed. However, even if Macasieb resigned in November 2003, Dela Rosa continued to represent Ulaso until 2005, which belied Busmentes allegation that Dela Rosa was able to illegally practice law using his office address without his knowledge and only due to Dela Rosas connivance with Macasieb. As regards Busmentes allegation that his signature on the Answer was forged, the IBP-CBD gave Busmente the opportunity to coordinate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to prove that his signature was forged but he failed to submit any report from the NBI despite the lapse of four months from the time he reserved his right to submit the report.

The IBP-CBD recommended Busmentes suspension from the practice of law for not less than five years. On 26 May 2006, in its Resolution No. XVII-2006-271,3 the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the recommendation of the IBP-CBD, with modification by reducing the period of Busmentes suspension to six months.

Busmente filed a motion for reconsideration and submitted a report4 from the NBI stating that the signature in the Answer, when compared with standard/sample signatures submitted to its office, showed that they were not written by one and the same person. In its 14 May 2011 Resolution No. XIX-2011-168, the IBP Board of Governors denied Busmentes motion for reconsideration.

The Issue

The issue in this case is whether Busmente is guilty of directly or indirectly assisting Dela Rosa in her illegal practice of law that warrants his suspension from the practice of law.

The Ruling of this Court

We agree with the IBP.

Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states:

Canon 9. A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, assist in the unauthorized practice of law.

The Court ruled that the term practice of law implies customarily or habitually holding oneself out to the public as a lawyer for compensation as a source of livelihood or in consideration of his services.5 The Court further ruled that holding ones self out as a lawyer may be shown by acts indicative of that purpose, such as identifying oneself as attorney, appearing in court in representation of a client, or associating oneself as a partner of a law office for the general practice of law.6

The Court explained:

The lawyers duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him not to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law.7

In this case, it has been established that Dela Rosa, who is not a member of the Bar, misrepresented herself as Busmentes collaborating counsel in Civil Case No. 9284. The only question is whether Busmente indirectly or directly assisted Dela Rosa in her illegal practice of law.

Busmente alleged that Dela Rosas employment in his office ended in 2000 and that Dela Rosa was able to continue with her illegal practice of law through connivance withMacasieb, another member of Busmentes staff. As pointed out by the IBP-CBD, Busmente claimed that Macasieb resigned from his office in 2003. Yet, Dela Rosa continued to represent Ulaso until 2005. Pleadings and court notices were still sent to Busmentes office until 2005. The IBP-CBD noted that Dela Rosas practice should have ended in 2003 when Macasieb left.

We agree. Busmentes office continued to receive all the notices of Civil Case No. 9284. The 7 December 2004 Order8 of Judge Elvira DC. Panganiban (Judge Panganiban) in Civil Case No. 9284 showed that Atty. Elizabeth Dela Rosa was still representing Ulaso in the case. In that Order, Judge Panganiban set the preliminary conference of Civil Case No. 9284 on 8 February 2005. It would have been impossible for Dela Rosa to continue representing Ulaso in the case, considering Busmentes claim thatMacasieb already resigned, if Dela Rosa had no access to the files in Busmentes office.

Busmente, in his motion for reconsideration of Resolution No. XVII-2006-271, submitted a copy of the NBI report stating that the signature on the Answer submitted in Civil Case No. 9284 and the specimen signatures submitted by Busmente were not written by one and the same person. The report shows that Busmente only submitted to the NBI the questioned signature in the Answer. The IBP-CBD report, however, showed that there were other documents signed by Busmente, including the Pre-Trial Brief dated 14 November 2003 and Motion to Lift Order of Default dated 22 November 2003. Noe-Lacsamana also submitted a letter dated 14 August 2003 addressed to her as well as three letters dated 29 August 2003 addressed to the occupants of the disputed property, all signed by Busmente. Busmente failed to impugn his signatures in these other documents.

Finally, Busmente claimed that he was totally unaware of Civil Case No. 9284 and he only came to know about the case when Ulaso went to his office to inquire about its status. Busmentes allegation contradicted the Joint CounterAffidavit9 submitted by Ulaso and Eddie B. Bides stating that:

a. That our legal counsel is Atty. YOLANDO F. BUSMENTE of the YOLANDO F. BUSMENTE AND ASSOCIATES LAW OFFICES with address at suite 718 BPI Office Cond. Plaza Cervantes, Binondo Manila.

b. That ELIZABETH DELA ROSA is not our legal counsel in the case which have been filed by IRENE BIDES and LILIA VALERA in representation of her sister AMELIA BIDES for Ejectmentdocketed as Civil Case No. 9284 before Branch 58 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of San Juan, Metro Manila.

c. That we never stated in any of the pleadings filed in the cases mentioned in the Complaint-Affidavit that ELIZABETH DELA ROSA was our lawyer;

d. That if ever ELIZABETH DELA ROSA had affixed her signature in the notices or other court records as our legal counsel the same could not be taken against us for, we believed in good faith that she was a lawyer; and we are made to believe that it was so since had referred her to us (sic), she was handling some cases of Hortaleza and client of Atty. Yolando F. Busmente; e. That we know for the fact that ELIZABETH DELA ROSA did not sign any pleading which she filed in court in connection with our cases at all of those were signed by Atty. YOLANDO BUSMENTE as our legal counsel; she just accompanied us to the court rooms and/or hearings; f. That we cannot be made liable for violation of Article 171 (for and in relation to Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code) for the reason that the following elements of the offense are not present, to wit: 1. That offender has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts narrated; 2. There must be wrongful intent to injure a 3rd party; 3. Knowledge that the facts narrated by him are absolutely false; 4. That the offender makes in a document untruthful statements in the narration of facts. And furthermore the untruthful narrations of facts must affect the integrity which is not so in the instant case. g. That from the start of our acquaintance with ELIZABETH DELA ROSA we never ask her whether she was a real lawyer and allowed to practice law in the Philippines; it would have been unethical and shameful on our part to ask her qualification; we just presumed that she has legal qualifications to represent us in our cases because Atty. YOLANDO F. BUSMENTE allowed her to accompany us and attend our hearings in short, she gave us paralegal assistance[.] (Emphasis supplied)

The counter-affidavit clearly showed that Busmente was the legal counsel in Civil Case No. 9284 and that he allowed Dela Rosa to give legal assistance to Ulaso.

Hence, we agree with the findings of the IBP-CBD that there was sufficient evidence to prove that Busmente was guilty of violation of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. We agree with the recommendation of the IBP, modifying the recommendation of the IBP-CBD, that Busmente should be suspended from the practice of law for six months.

WHEREFORE, we SUSPEND Atty. Yolando F. Busmente from the practice of law for SIX MONTHS.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Busmentes personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant. Let a copy of this Decision be also furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in the land.

SO ORDERED. ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTURO D. BRION Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO Associate Justice Associate Justice

BIENVENIDO L. REYES Associate Justice