You are on page 1of 16

EN BANC

[B. M. No. 1036. June 10, 2003]

DONNA MARIE S. RANA, respondent.

AGUIRRE, complainant, DECISION

vs. EDWIN

L.

CARPIO, J.:

The Case Before one is admitted to the Philippine Bar, he must possess the requisite moral integrity for membership in the legal profession. Possession of moral integrity is of greater importance than possession of legal learning. The practice of law is a privilege bestowed only on the morally fit. A bar candidate who is morally unfit cannot practice law even if he passes the bar examinations.

The Facts Respondent Edwin L. Rana (respondent) was among those who passed the 2000 Bar Examinations. On 21 May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass oath-taking of successful bar examinees as members of the Philippine Bar, complainant Donna Marie Aguirre (complainant) filed against respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to the Bar. Complainant charged respondent with unauthorized practice of law, grave misconduct, violation of law, and grave misrepresentation. The Court allowed respondent to take his oath as a member of the Bar during the scheduled oath-taking on 22 May 2001 at the Philippine International Convention Center. However, the Court ruled that respondent could not sign the Roll of Attorneys pending the resolution of the charge against him. Thus, respondent took the lawyers oath on the scheduled date but has not signed the Roll of Attorneys up to now. Complainant charges respondent for unauthorized practice of law and grave misconduct. Complainant alleges that respondent, while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel for a candidate in the May 2001 elections before the Municipal Board of Election Canvassers (MBEC) of Mandaon, Masbate. Complainant further alleges that respondent filed with the MBEC a pleading dated 19 May 2001 entitledFormal Objection

to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some Precincts for the Office of ViceMayor. In this pleading, respondent represented himself as counsel for and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, George Bunan, and signed the pleading as counsel for George Bunan (Bunan). On the charge of violation of law, complainant claims that respondent is a municipal government employee, being a secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan of Mandaon, Masbate. As such, respondent is not allowed by law to act as counsel for a client in any court or administrative body. On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, complainant accuses respondent of acting as counsel for vice mayoralty candidate George Bunan (Bunan) without the latter engaging respondents services. Complainant claims that respondent filed the pleading as a ploy to prevent the proclamation of the winning vice mayoralty candidate. On 22 May 2001, the Court issued a resolution allowing respondent to take the lawyers oath but disallowed him from signing the Roll of Attorneys until he is cleared of the charges against him. In the same resolution, the Court required respondent to comment on the complaint against him. In his Comment, respondent admits that Bunan sought his specific assistance to represent him before the MBEC. Respondent claims that he decided to assist and advice Bunan, not as a lawyer but as a person who knows the law. Respondent admits signing the 19 May 2001 pleading that objected to the inclusion of certain votes in the canvassing. He explains, however, that he did not sign the pleading as a lawyer or represented himself as an attorney in the pleading. On his employment as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan, respondent claims that he submitted his resignation on 11 May 2001 which was allegedly accepted on the same date. He submitted a copy of the Certification of Receipt of Revocable Resignation dated 28 May 2001 signed by Vice-Mayor Napoleon Relox. Respondent further claims that the complaint is politically motivated considering that complainant is the daughter of Silvestre Aguirre, the losing candidate for mayor of Mandaon, Masbate. Respondent prays that the complaint be dismissed for lack of merit and that he be allowed to sign the Roll of Attorneys. On 22 June 2001, complainant filed her Reply to respondents Comment and refuted the claim of respondent that his appearance before the MBEC was only to extend specific assistance to Bunan. Complainant alleges that on 19 May 2001 Emily Estipona-Hao (Estipona-Hao) filed a petition for proclamation as the winning candidate for mayor. Respondent signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao in this petition. When respondent appeared as counsel before the MBEC, complainant questioned his appearance on two grounds: (1) respondent had not taken his oath as a lawyer; and (2) he was an employee of the government. Respondent filed a Reply (Re: Reply to Respondents Comment) reiterating his claim that the instant administrative case is motivated mainly by political vendetta.

On 17 July 2001, the Court referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) for evaluation, report and recommendation. OBCs Report and Recommendation The OBC found that respondent indeed appeared before the MBEC as counsel for Bunan in the May 2001 elections. The minutes of the MBEC proceedings show that respondent actively participated in the proceedings. The OBC likewise found that respondent appeared in the MBEC proceedings even before he took the lawyers oath on 22 May 2001. The OBC believes that respondents misconduct casts a serious doubt on his moral fitness to be a member of the Bar. The OBC also believes that respondents unauthorized practice of law is a ground to deny his admission to the practice of law. The OBC therefore recommends that respondent be denied admission to the Philippine Bar. On the other charges, OBC stated that complainant failed to cite a law which respondent allegedly violated when he appeared as counsel for Bunan while he was a government employee. Respondent resigned as secretary and his resignation was accepted. Likewise, respondent was authorized by Bunan to represent him before the MBEC. The Courts Ruling We agree with the findings and conclusions of the OBC that respondent engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and thus does not deserve admission to the Philippine Bar. Respondent took his oath as lawyer on 22 May 2001. However, the records show that respondent appeared as counsel for Bunan prior to 22 May 2001, before respondent took the lawyers oath. In the pleading entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some Precincts for the Office of ViceMayor dated 19 May 2001, respondent signed as counsel for George Bunan. In the first paragraph of the same pleading respondent stated that he was the (U)ndersigned Counsel for, and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, GEORGE T. BUNAN. Bunan himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that he had authorized Atty. Edwin L. Rana as his counsel to represent him before the MBEC and similar bodies. On 14 May 2001, mayoralty candidate Emily Estipona-Hao also retained respondent as her counsel. On the same date, 14 May 2001, Erly D. Hao informed the MBEC that Atty. Edwin L. Rana has been authorized by REFORMA LM-PPC as the legal counsel of the party and the candidate of the said party. Respondent himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that he was entering his appearance as counsel for Mayoralty Candidate Emily Estipona-Hao and for the REFORMA LM-PPC. On 19 May 2001, respondent signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao in the petition filed before

the MBEC praying for the proclamation of Estipona-Hao as the winning candidate for mayor of Mandaon, Masbate. All these happened even before respondent took the lawyers oath. Clearly, respondent engaged in the practice of law without being a member of the Philippine Bar. In Philippine Lawyers Association v. Agrava,[1] the Court elucidated that:

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveyancing. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law, incorporation services, assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jur. p. 262, 263). (Italics supplied) x x x
In Cayetano v. Monsod,[2] the Court held that practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform acts which are usually performed by members of the legal profession. Generally, to practice law is to render any kind of service which requires the use of legal knowledge or skill. Verily, respondent was engaged in the practice of law when he appeared in the proceedings before the MBEC and filed various pleadings, without license to do so. Evidence clearly supports the charge of unauthorized practice of law. Respondent called himself counsel knowing fully well that he was not a member of the Bar. Having held himself out as counsel knowing that he had no authority to practice law, respondent has shown moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine Bar.[3] The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is a privilege. It is limited to persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of this privilege presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational attainment, and even public trust [4] since a lawyer is an officer of the court. A bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by passing the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can be withheld even from one who has passed the bar examinations, if the person seeking admission had practiced law without a license.[5] The regulation of the practice of law is unquestionably strict. In Beltran, Jr. v. Abad,[6] a candidate passed the bar examinations but had not taken his oath and signed the Roll of Attorneys. He was held in contempt of court for practicing law even before

his admission to the Bar. Under Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a person who engages in the unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt of court. [7] True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the lawyers oath. However, it is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a fullfledged lawyer. The fact that respondent passed the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law.[8] Respondent should know that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his lawyers oath to be administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys.[9] On the charge of violation of law, complainant contends that the law does not allow respondent to act as counsel for a private client in any court or administrative body since respondent is the secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan. Respondent tendered his resignation as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan prior to the acts complained of as constituting unauthorized practice of law. In his letter dated 11 May 2001 addressed to Napoleon Relox, vice- mayor and presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan, respondent stated that he was resigning effective upon your acceptance.[10] Vice-Mayor Relox accepted respondents resignation effective 11 May 2001.[11] Thus, the evidence does not support the charge that respondent acted as counsel for a client while serving as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan. On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, evidence shows that Bunan indeed authorized respondent to represent him as his counsel before the MBEC and similar bodies. While there was no misrepresentation, respondent nonetheless had no authority to practice law. WHEREFORE, respondent Edwin L. Rana is DENIED admission to the Philippine Bar. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, YnaresSantiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

[1]

105 Phil. 173 (1959). G.R. No. 100113, 3 September 1991, 201 SCRA 210. Yap Tan v. Sabandal, 211 Phil. 252 (1983). In the Matter of the Petition for Authority to Continue Use of the Firm Name Ozaeta, Romulo, etc., 30 July 1979, 92 SCRA 1. Ui v. Bonifacio, Administrative Case No. 3319, 8 June 2000, 333 SCRA 38. Bar Matter No. 139, 28 March 1983, 121 SCRA 217. People v. Santocildes, Jr., G.R. No. 109149, 21 December 1999, 321 SCRA 310.

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

[7]

[8]

Diao v. Martinez, Administrative Case No. 244, 29 March 1963, 7 SCRA 475. Beltran, Jr. v. Abad, B.M. No. 139, 28 March 1983, 121 SCRA 217. Respondents Comment, Annex A. Ibid., Annex B.

[9]

[10]

[11]

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC A. M. No. 139 March 28, 1983 RE: ELMO S. ABAD, 1978 Successful Bar Examinee. ATTY. PROCOPIO S. BELTRAN, JR., President of the Philippine Trial Lawyers Association, Inc., complainant, vs. ELMO S. ABAD, respondent.

ABAD SANTOS, J.: Charged by Atty. Procopio S. Beltran, Jr., president of the Philippine Trial Lawyers Association, Inc., of practicing law without having been previously admitted to the Philippine Bar, Mr. Elmo S. Abad could not deny and had to admit the practice. In exculpation he gives the following lame explanation: 1. On July 23, 1979, respondent conformably with the Resolution of the Honorable Supreme Court En Banc dated July 10, 1979, ... prior to his taking the Oath of Office as a member of the bar, paid his Bar Admission Fee in the amount of P175.00 as shown by Official Receipt No. 8128792, ... paid his Certification Fee in the amount of P5.00 as shown by Official Receipt No. 8128793, ... and also paid his Membership Dues for the year 1979-80 to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as shown by Official Receipt No. 83740,... . 2. On July 26, 1979, Atty. Romeo Mendoza, the then Clerk of Court of the Honorable Supreme Court, included the respondent as among those taking the Oath of Office as Member of the Bar as shown by a Letter of Request dated July 23, 1979, ...
3. At around Eleven o' clock in the morning of July 26, 1979, while waiting for my turn to take my Oath as a member of the Bar, I was made to sign my Lawyer's Oath by one of the Clerk in the Office of the Bar Confidant and while waiting there, Atty. Romeo Mendoza told me that Chief Justice, the Honorable Enrique M. Fernando wants to talk to me about the Reply of Mr. Jorge Uy (Deceased) to my Answer to his Complaint. The Honorable Chief Justice told me that I have to answer the Reply and for which reason the taking of my Lawyer's Oath was further suspended. *

4. On July 31, 1979, I filed my Reply to Mr. Jorge Uy's Answer with a Prayer that the Honorable Supreme Court determines my fitness to be a member of the Bar; 5. While waiting for the appropriate action which the Honorable Supreme Court may take upon my Prayer to determine my fitness to be a member of the Bar, I received a letter from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Quezon City Chapter dated May 10, 1980 informing the respondent of an Annual General Meeting together with my Statement of Account for the year 1980-1981, ... . 6. Believing that with my signing of the Lawyer's Oath on July 26, 1979 and my Reply to Mr. Jorge Uy's (Deceased) Answer, the Honorable Supreme Court did not ordered

for the striking of my name in the Roll of Attorneys with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and therefore a Member in Good Standing, I paid my membership due and other assessments to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Quezon City Chapter, as shown by Official Receipt No. 110326 and Official Receipt No. 0948, ... . Likewise respondent paid his Professional Tax Receipt as shown by Official Receipt No. 058033 and Official Receipt No. 4601685, ... . 7. On February 28, 1981, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Quezon City Chapter also included the name of the respondent as a Qualified Voter for the election of officers and directors for the year 1981-1982, ... . 8. Respondent's belief and good faith was further enhanced by the fact that on January 8, 1981, Complainant Jorge Uy in SBC607 died and herein respondent submitted a verified Notice and Motion with the Honorable Supreme Court on April 27, 1981; notifying the Court of this fact with a prayer that herein respondent be allowed to take his Oath as Member of the Bar; 9. Thereafter, respondent was again assessed by the Integrated Bar for his 19811982 membership due and other assessment for which the undersigned paid as shown by Official Receipt No. 132734 and Official Receipt No. 3363, ... . 10. Respondent likewise paid his Professional Tax Receipt for 1981 as shown by Official Receipt No. 3195776, ... . 11. Respondent likewise has a Certificate of Membership in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as well as a Certificate of Membership in Good Standing with the Quezon City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, .... Respondent Abad should know that the circumstances which he has narrated do not constitute his admission to the Philippine Bar and the right to practise law thereafter. He should know that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his lawyer's oath to be administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys. (Rule 138, Secs. 17 and 19, Rules of Court.) The proven charge against respondent Abad constitutes contempt of court (Rule 71, Sec. 3(e), Rules of Court.) WHEREFORE, Mr. Elmo S. Abad is hereby fined Five Hundred (P500.00) pesos payable to this Court within ten (10) days from notice failing which he shall serve twenty-five (25) days imprisonment. SO ORDERED. Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Makasiar, Concepcion Jr., Guerrero, De Castro, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Escolin Vasquez, Relova and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur. Aquino, J., is on leave.

Footnotes

* The case was SBC No. 607-Jorge Q. Uy vs. Elmo S. Abad which was dismissed on November 25, 1982 because of the death of the complainant. However, there is still pending BM No. 136-Esperanza T. Sistoso, et al. vs. Elmo S. Abad for qualified theft. The respondent was required to file an answer on October 26, 1982.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC A.C. No. 7056 February 11, 2009

PLUS BUILDERS, INC., and EDGARDO C. GARCIA, Complainants, vs. ATTY. ANASTACIO E. REVILLA, JR., Respondent. RESOLUTION NACHURA, J.: Before us is a motion for reconsideration of our Decision dated September 13, 2006, finding respondent guilty of gross misconduct for 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. To recall, the antecedents of the case are as follows: On November 15, 1999, a decision was rendered by the Provincial Adjudicator of Cavite (PARAD) in favor of herein complainant, Plus Builders, Inc. and against the tenants/farmers 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, who were the clients of respondent, Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr. The PARAD found that respondents clients were mere tenants and not rightful possessors/owners of the subject land. The case was elevated all the way up to the Supreme Court, with this Court sustaining complainants rights over the land. Continuing to pursue his clients lost cause, respondent was found to have committed intentional falsehood; and misused court processes with the intention to delay the execution of the decision through the filing of several motions, petitions for temporary restraining orders, and the last, an action to quiet title despite the finality of the decision. Furthermore, he allowed non-lawyers to engage in the unauthorized practice of law holding themselves out as his partners/associates in the law firm. The dispositive portion of the decision thus reads: 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.1 Respondent duly filed a motion for reconsideration within the reglementary period, appealing to the Court to take a second look at his case and praying that the penalty of suspension of two years be reduced to mere reprimand or admonition for the sake of his family and the poor clients he was defending.2

Respondent maintains that he did not commit the acts complained of. The courses of action he took were not meant to unduly delay the execution of the DARAB Decision dated November 19, 1999, but were based on his serious study, research and experience as a litigation lawyer for more than 20 years and on the facts given to him by his clients in the DARAB case. He believes that the courses of action he took were valid and proper legal theory designed to protect the rights and interests of Leopoldo de Guzman, et. al.3 He stresses that he was not the original lawyer in this case. The lawyer-client relationship with the former lawyer was terminated because Leopoldo de Guzman, et. al. felt that their former counsel did not explain/argue their position very well, refused to listen to them and, in fact, even castigated them. As the new counsel, respondent candidly relied on what the tenants/farmers told him in the course of his interview. They maintained that they had been in open, adverse, continuous and notorious possession of the land in the concept of an owner for more than 50 years. Thus, the filing of the action to quiet title was resorted to in order to determine the rights of his clients respecting the subject property. He avers that he merely exhausted all possible remedies and defenses to which his clients were entitled under the law, considering that his clients were subjected to harassment and threats of physical harm and summary eviction by the complainant.4 He posits that he was only being protective of the interest of his clients as a good father would be protective of his own family,5 and that his services to Leopoldo de Guzman, et. al were almost pro bono.6
1avvphi1

Anent the issue that he permitted his name to be used for unauthorized practice of law, he humbly submits that there was actually no sufficient evidence to prove the same or did he fail to dispute this, contrary to the findings of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). He was counsel of Leopoldo de Guzman, et al. only and not of the cooperative Kalayaan Development Cooperative (KDC). He was just holding his office in this cooperative, together with Attys. Dominador Ferrer, Efren Ambrocio, the late Alfredo Caloico and Marciano Villavert. He signed the retainer agreement with Atty. Dominador to formalize their lawyer-client relationship, and the complainants were fully aware of such arrangement.7 Finally, he submits that if he is indeed guilty of violating the rules in the courses of action he took in behalf of his clients, he apologizes and supplicates the Court for kind consideration, pardon and forgiveness. He reiterates that he does not deserve the penalty of two years suspension, considering that the complaint fails to show him wanting in character, honesty, and probity; in fact, he has been a member of the bar for more than 20 years, served as former president of the IBP Marinduque Chapter, a legal aide lawyer of IBP Quezon City handling detention prisoners and pro bono cases, and is also a member of the Couples for Christ, and has had strict training in the law school he graduated from and the law offices he worked with.8 He is the sole breadwinner in the family with a wife who is jobless, four (4) children who are in school, a mother who is bedridden and a sick sister to support. The familys only source of income is respondents private practice of law, a work he has been engaged in for more than twenty-five (25) years up to the present.9 On August 15, 2008, the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) received a letter from respondent, requesting that he be issued a clearance for the renewal of his notarial commission. Respondent stated therein that he was aware of the pendency of the administrative cases10 against him, but pointed out that said cases had not yet been resolved with finality. Respondent sought consideration and compassion for the issuance of the clearance -- considering present economic/financial difficulties -- and reiterating the fact that he was the sole breadwinner in the family. It is the rule that when a lawyer accepts a case, he is expected to give his full attention, diligence, skill and competence to the case, regardless of its importance and whether he accepts it for a fee or for free.11 A lawyers devotion to his clients cause not only requires but also entitles him to deploy every honorable means to secure for the client what is justly due him or to present every defense provided by law to enable the latters cause to succeed.12 In this case, respondent may not be wanting in this regard. On the contrary, it is apparent that the respondents acts complained of were

committed out of his over-zealousness and misguided desire to protect the interests of his clients who were poor and uneducated. We are not unmindful of his dedication and conviction in defending the less fortunate. Taking the cudgels from the former lawyer in this case is rather commendable, but respondent should not forget his first and foremost responsibility as an officer of the court. We stress what we have stated in our decision that, 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, is not to be performed at the expense of truth and justice.13 This is the criterion that must be borne in mind in every exertion a lawyer gives to his case.14 Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer has the duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice, and is enjoined from unduly delaying a case by impeding execution of a judgment or by misusing court processes.15 Certainly, violations of these canons cannot be countenanced, as respondent must have realized with the sanction he received from this Court. However, the Court also knows how to show compassion and will not hesitate to refrain from imposing the appropriate penalties in the presence of mitigating factors, such as the respondents length of service, acknowledgment of his or her infractions and feeling of remorse, family circumstances, humanitarian and equitable considerations, and respondents advanced age, among other things, which have varying significance in the Courts determination of the imposable penalty. Thus, after a careful consideration of herein respondents motion for reconsideration and humble acknowledgment of his misfeasance, we are persuaded to extend a degree of leniency towards him.16 We find the suspension of six (6) months from the practice of law sufficient in this case IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the letter-request dated August 15, 2008 is NOTED. Respondents Motion for Reconsideration is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Decision dated September 13, 2006 is hereby MODIFIED in that respondent is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months, effective upon receipt of this Resolution. Respondent is DIRECTED to inform the Court of the date of his receipt of said Resolution within ten (10) days from receipt thereof. 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. ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA Associate Justice WE CONCUR: REYNATO S. PUNO Chief Justice LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING Associate Justice ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice RENATO C. CORONA Associate Justice ADOLFO S. AZCUNA CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO Associate Justice MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ Associate Justice CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES Associate Justice DANTE O. TINGA

Associate Justice MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO Associate Justice TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO Associate Justice

Associate Justice PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice ARTURO D. BRION Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA Associate Justice

Footnotes
1

Decision, p. 17. Motion for Reconsideration, p. 13. Id. at 2. Id. at 5. Id. at 6. Id. at 8. Id. at 9. Id. at 4. Id. at 11. A.C. Nos. 5473, 6586, 7054. Santiago v. Fojas, A.C. No, 4103, September 7, 1995, 248 SCRA 68, 75-76. Miraflor v. Hagad, A.C. No. 2468, May 12, 1995, 244 SCRA 106.

10

11

12

13

Decision, p. 14; Plus Builders, Inc. v. Garcia, A.C. No. 7056, September 13, 2006, 501 SCRA 615, 625.
14

Ali v. Bubong, A.C. No. 4018, March 8, 2005, 453 SCRA 220. Ramos v. Pallugna, A.C. No. 5908, October 25, 2004, 441 SCRA 220. Rayos v. Hernandez, G.R. No. 169079, August 28, 2007, 531 SCRA 477.

15

16

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-46537 July 29, 1977 JOSE GUBALLA, petitioner, vs. THE HON. EDUARDO P. CAGUIOA, RICARDO G. CARLOS and DOMINGO FORTEZA, JR., respondents.

SANTOS, J: In this petition for certiorari with Preliminary Injunction, petitioner seeks to set aside the Order of respondent Judge dated July 12, 1977, denying his Petition for Relief from Judgment and allowing a writ of execution to issue in Civil Case No. 680-V of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. The factual antecedents may be recited as follows: Petitioner is an operator of a public utility vehicle which was involved, on October 1, 1971, in an accident resulting to injuries sustained by private respondent Domingo Forteza Jr. As a consequence thereof, a complaint for damages was filed by Forteza against petitioner with the Court of First Instance of Bulacan (Branch VIII), docketed as Civil Case No. 680-V. An Answer thereto was filed on behalf of petitioner by Irineo W. Vida Jr., of the law firm of Vida Enriquez, Mercado & Associates. 1 Because petitioner and counsel failed to appear at the pretrial conference on April 6, 1972, despite due notice, petitioner was treated as in default and private respondent was allowed to present his evidence ex parte. A decision was thereafter rendered by the trial court in favor of private respondent Forteza Jr. A Motion for Reconsideration was then filed by petitioner seeking the lifting of the order of default, the reopening of the case for the presentation of his evidence and the setting aside of the decision. Said Motion for Reconsideration was signed by Ponciano Mercado, another member of the law firm. The same was denied by the lower Court and petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals assigning the following alleged errors, to wit: a. That the Hon. Court erred in denying defendant Jose Guballa his day in Court by declaring him in default, it being contrary to applicable law and jurisprudence on the matter; b. That this Hon. Court has no jurisdiction to hear and decide the case; c. Award of damages in favor of plaintiff, more particularly award of moral damages is contrary to law; and
d. Defendant has valid, legal and justiciable defenses. 2

The appealed case was handled by Atty. Benjamin Bautista, an associate of the same law firm. The decision appealed from was affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 52610R. A Motion for Reconsideration was filed by petitioner, through a different counsel, Atty. Isabelo V.L. Santos II. However the same was denied and the decision became final on June 29, 1977 and was then remanded to the lower Court, presided by respondent Judge for execution. 3 A Motion for Execution was thereafter filed by private respondent with the lower Court which was granted by respondent Judge. 4 On July 6, 1977, petitioner, through Atty. Isabelo V.L. Santos 11, filed a Petition for Relief from Judgment alleging his discovery that Irineo W. Vida Jr., who prepared his Answer to the Complaint is not a member of the Philippine Bar and that consequently, his rights had not been adequately protected and his properties are in danger of being confiscated and/or levied upon without due process of law. 5 In an Order dated July 12, 1977, respondent Judge denied the Petition and directed the issuance of a writ of execution for the reasons that said Petition is ". . a clear case of dilatory tactic on the part of counsel for defendant-appellant ..." herein petitioner, and, that the grounds relied upon ". . . could have been ventilated in the appeal before the Court of Appeals ... " 6 On July 19, 1977, respondent Deputy Sheriff Ricardo G. Carlos, acting upon the writ of execution, issued by respondent Judge, levied on three motor vehicles, of petitioner for the satisfaction of the judgment. 7 Hence the instant Petition. Respondent Judge's forthright denial of the Petition for Relief to frustrate a dilatory maneuver is welltaken; and this Petition must be denied for lack of merit. The alleged fact that the person who represented petitioner at the initial stage of the litigation, i.e., the filing of an Answer and the pretrial proceedings, turned out to be not a member of the Bar 8 did not amount to a denial of petitioner's day in court. It should be noted that in the subsequent stages of the proceedings, after the rendition of the judgment by default, petitioner was duly represented by bona fide members of the Bar in seeking a reversal of the judgment for being contrary to law and jurisprudence and the existence of valid, legal and justifiable defenses. In other words, petitioner's rights had been amply protected in the proceedings before the trial and appellate courts as he was subsequently assisted by counsel. Moreover, petitioner himself was at fault as the order of treatment as in default was predicated, not only on the alleged counsel's failure to attend the pretrial conference on April 6, 1972, but likewise on his own failure to attend the same, without justifiable reason. To allow this petition due course is to countenance further delay in a proceeding which has already taken well over six years to resolve, WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the Petition for certiorari with Preliminary Injunction is hereby dismissed. The law firm "Vida, Enriquez, Mercado & Associates" of 209 Sampaguita Bldg., Cubao, Quezon City, is hereby ordered to explain, within ten (10) days from notice this Resolution, why Irineo W. Vida Jr. was permitted to sign the Answer in Civil Case No. 680-V of CFI, Bulacan, when he is not a member of the Bar. Fernando, (Chairman) Barredo, Antonio, Aquino and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., concur. Footnotes 1 Petition, Annex "A", pp. 22-24.

2 Id., p. 4. 3 Id., p. 5. 4 Id. 5 Id., Annex "B", pp. 16-21. 6 Id., Annex "C", p. 25. 7 Id., p. 5. 8 Id., Annex "D", p. 26.