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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. [A.C. No. 4921. March 6, 2003] xxx xxx xxx

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. CARMELITA I. ZAGUIRRE, complainant, vs. ATTY. ALFREDO CASTILLO, respondent. Immoral conduct has been defined as: DECISION PER CURIAM: Before this Court is a Petition for Disbarment filed by Carmelita I. Zaguirre against Atty. Alfredo Castillo on the ground of Gross Immoral Conduct. The facts as borne by the records are as follows: Complainant and respondent met sometime in 1996 when the two became officemates at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).[1] Respondent courted complainant and promised to marry her while representing himself to be single.[2] Soon they had an intimate relationship that started sometime in 1996 and lasted until 1997. [3] During their affair, respondent was preparing for the bar examinations which he passed. On May 10, 1997, he was admitted as a member of the Philippine Bar.[4] It was only around the first week of May 1997 that complainant first learned that respondent was already married when his wife went to her office and confronted her about her relationship with respondent.[5] On September 10, 1997, respondent, who by now is a lawyer, executed an affidavit, admitting his relationship with the complainant and recognizing the unborn child she was carrying as his. [6] On December 09, 1997, complainant gave birth to a baby girl, Aletha Jessa. [7] By this time however, respondent had started to refuse recognizing the child and giving her any form of support.[8] Respondent claims that: he never courted the complainant; what transpired between them was nothing but mutual lust and desire; he never represented himself as single since it was known in the NBI that he was already married and with children;[9] complainant is almost 10 years older than him and knew beforehand that he is already married;[10] the child borne by complainant is not his, because the complainant was seeing other men at the time they were having an affair.[11] He admits that he signed the affidavit dated September 10, 1997 but explains that he only did so to save complainant from embarrassment. Also, he did not know at the time that complainant was seeing other men.[12] After due hearing, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found Atty. Alfredo Castillo guilty of gross immoral conduct and recommends that he be meted the penalty of indefinite suspension from the practice of law. The Court agrees with the findings and recommendation of the IBP. The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. xxx that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. Furthermore, such conduct must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency. [13] In his affidavit dated September 10, 1997, duly acknowledged before a notary public, he declared explicitly: 1. That I had a relationship with one Carmelita Zaguirre, my officemate; 2. That as a result of that relationship, she is presently pregnant with my child; 3. That I hereby voluntarily recognize the child now under (sic) her womb to be my own; 4. That I am willing to support the said child henceforth, including his/her personal and medical needs, education, housing, food, clothing and other necessities for living, which I will give through his/her mother, Carmelita Zaguirre, until he/she becomes of legal age and capable to live on his/her own; 5. That I undertake to sign the birth certificate as an additional proof that he/she is my child; however, my failure to sign does not negate the recognition and acknowledgement already done herein; 6. That I am executing this affidavit without compulsion on my part and being a lawyer, I have full knowledge of the consequence of such acknowledgment and recognition.[14] More incriminating is his handwritten letter dated March 12, 1998 which states in part: Ayoko ng umabot tayo sa kung saan-saan pa. All your officemates, e.g., Ate Ging, Glo, Guy and others (say) that I am the look like(sic) of your daughter. Heres my bargain. I will help you in supporting your daughter, but I cannot promise fix amount for monthly support of your daughter. However it shall not be less than P500 but not more than P1,000.[15]

In the recent case of Luguid vs. Judge Camano, Jr., the Court in castigating a judge stated that: ...even as an ordinary lawyer, respondent has to conform to the strict standard of conduct demanded of members of the profession. Certainly, fathering children by a woman other than his lawful wife fails to meet these standards.[16] Siring a child with a woman other than his wife is a conduct way below the standards of morality required of every lawyer.[17] Moreover, the attempt of respondent to renege on his notarized statement recognizing and undertaking to support his child by Carmelita demonstrates a certain unscrupulousness on his part which is highly censurable, unbecoming a member of a noble profession, tantamount to self-stultification.[18] This Court has repeatedly held: as officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or the keeping of mistresses but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards.[19] While respondent does not deny having an extra-marital affair with complainant he seeks understanding from the Court, pointing out that men by nature are polygamous,[20] and that what happened between them was nothing but mutual lust and desire.[21] The Court is not convinced. In fact, it is appalled at the reprehensible, amoral attitude of the respondent. Respondent claims that he did not use any deception to win her affection. Granting arguendo that complainant entered into a relationship with him knowing full well his marital status, still it does not absolve him of gross immorality for what is in question in a case like this is respondents fitness to be a member of the legal profession. It is not dependent whether or not the other party knowingly engaged in an immoral relationship with him. We agree with the IBP that the defense of in pari delicto is not feasible. The Court held in Mortel vs. Aspiras: In a disbarment proceeding, it is immaterial that the complainant is in pari delicto because this is not a proceeding to grant relief to the complainant, but one to purge the law profession of unworthy members, to protect the public and the courts.[22] The illicit relationship with Carmelita took place while respondent was preparing to take the bar examinations. Thus, it cannot be said that it is unknown to him that an applicant for admission to membership in the bar must show that he is possessed of good moral character, a requirement which is not dispensed with upon admission to membership of the bar.[23] This qualification is not only a condition precedent to admission to the legal profession, but its continued possession is essential to maintain ones good standing in the profession; [24] it is a continuing requirement to the practice of law[25] and therefore admission to the bar does not preclude a subsequent judicial inquiry, upon proper complaint, into any question concerning his mental or moral fitness before he became a lawyer. This is because his admission to practice merely creates a rebuttable presumption that he has all the qualifications to become a lawyer. The Court held:

The practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the State on those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications required by law for the conferment of such privilege. We must stress that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. A lawyer has the privilege to practice law only during good behavior. He can be deprived of his license for misconduct ascertained and declared by judgment of the court after giving him the opportunity to be heard.[26] and in Dumadag vs. Lumaya: The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. Adherence to the rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality and faithful compliance with the rules of the legal profession are the conditions required for remaining a member of good standing of the bar and for enjoying the privilege to practice law.[27] Respondent repeatedly engaged in sexual congress with a woman not his wife and now refuses to recognize and support a child whom he previously recognized and promised to support. Clearly therefore, respondent violated the standards of morality required of the legal profession and should be disciplined accordingly. As consistently held by this Court, disbarment shall not be meted out if a lesser punishment could be given.[28] Records show that from the time he took his oath in 1997, he has severed his ties with complainant and now lives with his wife and children in Mindoro. As of now, the Court does not perceive this fact as an indication of respondents effort to mend his ways or that he recognizes the impact of his offense on the noble profession of law. Nevertheless, the Court deems it more appropriate under the circumstances that indefinite suspension should be meted out than disbarment. The suspension shall last until such time that respondent is able to show, to the full satisfaction of the Court, that he had instilled in himself a firm conviction of maintaining moral integrity and uprightness required of every member of the profession. The rule is settled that a lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. [29] ACCORDINGLY, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds respondent GUILTY of Gross Immoral Conduct and ordered to suffer INDEFINITE SUSPENSION from the practice of law. Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Castillos personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and a copy thereof be furnished the IBP and all courts throughout the country. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ.,concur. Ynares-Santiago and Corona, JJ., on leave.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION A.M. No. (2170-MC) P-1356 November 21, 1979 HON. REMIGIO E. ZARI, complainant, vs. DIOSDADO S. FLORES, respondent.

FERNANDEZ, J.: In a letter dated July 15, 1976 addressed to the Supreme Court, Hon. Remigio E. Zari, Presiding Judge of Branch VI. City Court of Quezon City, recommended the dismissal from the service of Mr. Diosdado S. Flores, Deputy Clerk of Court of Branch VI, City Court, on the following grounds: 1. Conviction for libel on April 28, 1967, (Criminal Case No. Q- 7171), Branch IV, Court of First Instance, Quezon City), a crime involving moral turpitude. He was sentenced to pay a fine of P500.00, which he paid on July 18, 1974, under Receipt No. 4736418. 2. Presistent attempts to unduly influence the undersigned amounting to undue interest in cases pending before Branch VI as shown by his handwritten notes to the undersigned and to my present deputy clerk of Court, Atty. Reynaldo Elcano. On March 8, 1976, Mr. Flores was relieved from his position as Deputy Clerk of Court upon request of the undersigned primarily to dissociate myself from these actuations of Mr. Flores, which I strongly disapproved of, and to avail my Court of the services of a full-fledged lawyer with unquestionable integrity. After his transfer, as can be seen from his handwritten notes, he persisted in taking this unwarranted course of action in at least three (3) cases of Branch VI. 3. Gross discourtesy to superior officers as manifested by his uncalled for and unjustified use of strong and contemptuous language in addressing the City Judges, when he wrote a letter, dated March 11, 1976. 1 In a resolution of this Court dated July 29, 1976, Deputy Clerk of Court Diosdado S. Flores was required to file his answer to the letter of Judge Remigio E. Zari and this case was transferred to the First Division. 2 The respondent filed his answers 3 on August 12, 1976 wherein he alleged, among others, that his conviction for libel did not involve moral turpitude; that the then Commissioner Abelardo Subido, who was also convicted of the crime of libel and was fined P5,000.00, had approved his appointment as Deputy Clerk of Court of Branch VI of the City

Court of Quezon City; that the respondent never tried to unduly influence the complainant in the discharge of the latter's duties and responsibilities; that while respondent's language in his letter dated March 11, 1976 is strong, the same could not be considered contemptuous either directly or indirectly, in as much as he was merely expressing the sentiments of an aggrieved employee who deserves a better treatment from his superior after more than six years and nine months of highly dedicated and very efficient service in the City Court of Quezon City; that if ever respondent requested favors from his superior, these were all done in the spirit of friendship which the complainant professed to him before he left Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City on March 9, 1976; that from October 15, 1975 up to his illegal transfer on March 8, 1976, the respondent was practically doing the work of the complainant; that the respondent has tutored the complainant on the fine interpretation and application of the law; that it was Judge Zari who tried to corrupt him as may be gathered from the following instances: On January 8, 1976, after the trial in Criminal Case No VI-5783 vs. Juanito Chua and two criminal cases against Emerito Lim, Judge Zari instructed the respondent to conduct an ocular inspection on the illegal constructions, subject of the cases; that Judge Zari, likewise, told the respondent to join him for lunch at Alfredo's Steakhouse in Quezon City; that after conducting the ocular inspection, the respondent proceeded to Alfredo's Steakhouse where he joined Judge Zari, Fiscal Loja and the defense counsel of Chua and Lim; that thereafter, Judge Zari directed the respondent not to prepare anymore his report on the ocular inspection to the site; that up to the time of his illegal transfer, the respondent did not see the records of said cases anymore; that in Criminal Case No. VI-166624 vs. Corazon and Macaria Tolentino, for the crime of estafa, the respondent was instructed to convict both the accused because the complainant was a relative of a certain Judge Erochi; and that in Criminal Cases Nos. VI-170682 and VI-170689 versus Gerundio Villanueva y Elazo, Dominador Garcia y Orteza and Balbino Domingo y Ramos, for the crime of theft, he was instructed by Judge Zari to convict the accused Dominador Garcia y Orteza because according to said judge, the complainant is AVESCO. In a resolution dated September 1, 1976, 4 this Court required Judge Zari to file a reply to the answer of the respondent within ten (10) days from notice thereof. The complainant alleged in his reply to the answer of the respondent that he had not allowed the respondent to interfere in the preparation of orders and decisions; that while the complainant is aware of his limitations, he is certainly not so naive as to allow someone not a member of the Philippine Bar to "tutor" and give him finer interpretation of the law; that he admits that Criminal Cases Nos. VI-5783 against Juanito Chua and VI-5788-5789 against Emerito Lim are pending before this court; that he did not call the respondent to his chamber and instruct him to conduct an ocular inspection on the illegal constructions; that he did not invite the respondent for lunch that day; that the truth was that after the trial, he went to Alfredo's Steakhouse in the company of his fiscal, Fiscal Guillermo Loja; that while in the said place, the complainant was surprised to see the respondent in the company of the accused; that he counseled the respondent to be more circumspect as these people had cases before his sala; that it is true that from then on up to the relief of the respondent on March 8, 1976, the records of the aforesaid case could not be found by the respondent because the complainant had the records brought inside his chamber in order to forestall any attempt on the part of the respondent to manipulate the records; that he did not instruct the respondent to convict the accused in Criminal Case No. VI-166624 and in Criminal Cases Nos. VI170682 and VI-170689 just because the complainant is a relative of a certain Judge Erochi and AVESCO, respectively; and that he requested Atty. Reynaldo Elcano to affix his initial in all orders, decisions and sentences in order to pinpoint responsibility. 5 In his reply, the complainant additionally charged that when the respondent applied for the position of Deputy Clerk of Court, Branch VI, City Court of Quezon City, he submitted, among others, an affidavit dated June 10, 1969 that contains the following statement "That I am a person of good moral character and integrity and have no administrative, criminal or police record;" that the respondent also accomplished Civil Service Form No. 212 (1965) which was subscribed and sworn to before then Judge Oscar A. Inocentes; that in the aforesaid data sheet, the respondent admits having acted as counsel for three companies; and that the giving of legal advice by notaries and others who are not admitted to the practice of law is dangerous to the welfare of the community, because such

persons have not demonstrated their capacity by submitting to examinations lawfully established in the practice of law. This administrative case was referred to the Executive Judge of Rizal, Quezon City, for investigation, report and recommendation after City Judge Minerva Genovea and City Judge Aloysius Alday had been allowed to inhibit themselves from investigating this case. 6 District Judge Sergio A. F. Apostol who conducted the investigation of this administrative case recommended that the respondent be separated from the service on the following findings: The first charge is "conviction for libel which is a crime allegedly involving moral turpitude." Presidential Decree No. 807, Sec. 36(b) No. 10 provides that one of the grounds for disciplinary action is "conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude." Evidence adduced by the complainant which was admitted by the respondent was that on April 28, 1967 respondent was convicted of the crime of Libel in Criminal Case No. Q-7171 of Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of Quezon City. Respondent was sentenced to pay a fine of P5,000.00 which he paid on July 18, 1974 under Official Receipt No. 276418. Moral turpitude has been defined as including any act done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals. 7 Some of the particular crimes which have been held to involve moral turpitude are adultery, concubinage, 8 rape, arson, evasion of income tax, barratry, bigamy, blackmail, bribery, 9criminal conspiracy to smuggle opium, dueling, embezzlement, extortion, forgery, libel, making fraudulent proof of loss on insurance contract, murder, mutilation of public records, fabrication of evidence, offenses against pension laws, perjury, seduction under promise of marriage, 10estafa, 11 falsification of public document, 12 estafa thru falsification of public document. 13 "Moral turpitude" has been defined as an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes his fellow men, to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. 14 It implies something immoral in itself, regardless of the fact that it is punishable by law or not. It must not merely be mala prohibita but, the act itself must be inherently immoral. The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute fixes the moral turpitude. 15 Moral turpitude does not, however, include such acts as are not of themselves immoral but whose illegality lies in the fact of their being positively prohibited. 16Hence, the crime of illegal possession of firearm or ammunition does not involve moral

turpitude for under our laws, what is punishable is the possession of a firearm or ammunition without a license or authority. 17 Bribery is admittedly a felony involving moral turpitude. 18 However in another, the Supreme Court seems to imply that libel is not a crime involving moral turpitude. The mere filing of an information for libel, or serious slander, against a municipal officer is not a ground for suspending him from office, as such offenses do not necessarily involve moral turpitude. 19 When respondent submitted his application for the position of Deputy Clerk of Court of Branch VI, City Court of Quezon City, he submitted among others an affidavit dated June 10, 1969, which reads as follows: That I am a person of good moral character and integrity and have no administrative, criminal or police record. On blank space of a personal data sheet opposite question No. 10, which asked if applicant has previously been convicted of a criminal offense, accused placed no. It was later discovered that accused was previously convicted of theft. Accused was acquitted of falsification of public document under Art. 171, par. 4, because there is no legal obligation to reveal previous conviction. 20 However he maybe guilty of perjury under Art. 183. 21 One of the grounds for disciplinary action under PD 807, Sec. 36(b) under No. 13 is "falsification of public documents." The second charge is "persistent attempts to unduly influence the complainant amounting to undue interest in cases pending before Branch VI as shown by his handwritten notes to the complainant and to his present Deputy Clerk of Court, Atty. Reynaldo Elcano." Respondent admitted that in writing the four (4) notes (Exhibits "F", "F-1", "F-2", & "F-3"), he intervened for and in behalf of Gaw Chin in Criminal Case No. VI-6196 pending before the sala of the complainant because the accused was a compadre of his friend, Salvador Estrada. On the other hand, the defense of the respondent is that he was practically doing the work of the complainant and tutoring him in the finer interpretation and application of the law, and he was preparing the decisions in both criminal and civil cases. Thus he was not trying to influence the complainant. The notes marked as Exhibits "F", "F-1, "F-2", & "F-3" speak for themselves. There is no need for the undersigned to quote the same.

A proposition by an attorney to his client to visit with his wife the family of the judge before whom the client's cause is to be heard, and to endeavor, in conversation thus to be had in advance of the hearing, to commit the judge to an expression of opinion favorable to the client's case warrants his dismissal from the bar. 22 The acts of the respondent amounts to conducts prejudicial to the best interest of the service. 23 The Third charge is "discourtesy to superior Officers as manifested by respondent in calling for and unjust use of strong and contemptuous language in addressing the city judges when he wrote the letter, dated March 11, 1976." To quote the pertinent provisions of Exhibit "D": 'By the tenor of your reply, you have made the change of heart and have developed cold feet. You have badly shaken my belief in your credibility. Indeed, you are truly a woman, very fickle and unpredictable, but very impulsive. I take this as a clear indication of your desire to enlist the sympathies and, if possible, like the other five (5) judges, involved them in the mess originally of your own making and design and align them with you against me, hoping to impress upon me that by the tyranny of numbers, I will be convinced that mine is a lost cause. However, I regret to inform the six of you that by your conduct, you have dismally failed to live up to your oaths, ... Kindly pardon me if I say that, the six of you must be out of your wits when you all decided to lay the blame on me and condemned without trial for the alleged inefficiency. Yes, when you all decided to sacrifice me you are all laboring under deep and nagging hallucinations, induced and prompted by your serious concern to save the face of a colleague. By the way, could any of the Honorable Judges of Branches I, III, V & IX honestly and truthfully say the public service in their respective branches is efficient, so that they could now come to the succor of a colleague and are also competent to promote the efficiency in Branch VI. My God, if that is true, promotions of Judges in the City Court would be fast, the Purge in the Judiciary would not have affected Quezon City and the unprepared and the inexperienced would not have come to the Bench.' Respondent reasoned out that the use of strong language by him in his letter was justified and very much called for it being the indubitable manifestation of the indignation and disgust of the respondent, urged upon him by the complainant who engineered the respondent's illegal transfer from Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City which he holds a valid and

subsisting appointment to the Appeal and Docket Division, by virtue of a letter of the Executive Judge (Exhibit "43"), to quote the pertinent provision of which: 'as a measure to promote more efficient public service, after due and circumspect deliberation by and among the judges. ' pursuant to the authority granted to the executive judge under Administrative Order No. 6 of the Supreme Court which provides as follows: To re-assign temporarily the personnel of one branch (sala) to another branch (sala) or to the Office of the Clerk of Court, in case of vacancy in the position of Presiding Judge of a branch (sala), or when the interest of the service requires. In the latter case, the assignment shall be made in consultation with the Presiding Judge of the branch (sala) concerned; and in case of disagreement, the assignment of the Executive Judge shall be effective immediately, unless revoked by the Supreme Court. The transfer was made in consultation with the presiding judge of the branch concerned who is the complainant in this case. A detail is the movement of an employee from one agency to another without the issuance of an appointment and shall be allowed, only for a limited period in the case of employees occupying professional, technical and scientific positions. If the employee believes that there is no justification for the detail, he may appeal his case to the commission. Pending appeal, the decision to detail the employee shall be executory unless otherwise ordered by the commission.24 An employee may be reassigned from one organizational unit to another in the same agency. Provided: That such reassignment shall not involve reduction in rank, status or salary. 25 In the instant case there was actually a reassignment of employee from one branch to the Office of the Clerk of Court in accordance with Administrative Order No. 6 of the Supreme Court and in consonance with PD 807. The language of attorney in his motion for reconsideration referring to the Supreme Court as a "Civilized, democratic tribunal," but by innuendo would suggest that it is not; in his motion to inhibit, categorizing the Court's decision as "false, erroneous and illegal" and accusing two justices for being interested in the decision of the case without any basis in fact; asking the other members of the Court to inhibit themselves for favors or benefits received from any of the petitioners including the President constitute disrespectful language to the Court. It undermines and degrades the administration of justice.

The language is necessary for the defense of client is no justification. It ill behooves an attorney to justify his disrespectful language with the statement that it was necessary for the defense of his client. A client's cause does not permanent an attorney to cross the line between liberty and license. Lawyers must always keep in perspective the thought that "since lawyers are administrators of justice, oathbound servants of society, their first duty is not to their clients, as many suppose, but to the administration of justice; to this their client's success is wholly subordinate; and their conduct ought to and must be scrupulously observant of law and ethics.26 Thru the use of uncalled language, respondent had committed insubordination, a ground for disciplinary action. 27 The evidence of record supports the findings of the investigating judge. It is a fact that the respondent was convicted of libel in Criminal Case No. Q-7171 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch IV, at Quezon City. 7 While this fact alone is not sufficient to warrant disciplinary action, the respondent's conviction for libel shows his propensity to speak ill of others. His letter dated March 11, 1976 to Judge Minerva C. Genovea, then Executive Judge of the City Court of Quezon City 8 contains defamatory and uncalled for language. The handwritten notes of the respondent regarding different cases pending in Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City, presided by the complainant, Judge Remigio E. Zari, show that the respondent had exerted undue influence in the disposition of the cases mentioned therein. 9 It is true that conviction for libel does not automatically justify removal of a public officer. 10 However, the fact of conviction for libel of the respondent, taken together with the letter he wrote to then Executive City Judge of the City Court of Quezon City, Judge Minerva C. Genovea, shows the tendency of the respondent to malign people. Respondent's act of interfering in the cases pending before Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City presided by the complainant is inimical to the service. This alone warrants severe disciplinary measures. In his affidavit subscribed and sworn to before then City Judge Oscar A. Inocentes on June 10, 1969, the respondent stated "That I am a person of good moral character and integrity and have no administrative, criminal or police record. " This averment is not true because the respondent had been convicted of libel in Criminal Case No. Q-7171, of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch IV, in a sentence dated April 28, 1967. This prevarication in a sworn statement is another ground for serious disciplinary action. The removal from the service of the respondent is warranted by the evidence adduced during the investigation conducted by Judge Sergio A. F. Apostol of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XVI, Quezon City. WHEREFORE, the respondent, Diosdado S. Flores, is hereby DISMISSED as Deputy Clerk of Court of Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City, with forfeiture of all retirement privileges and with prejudice to reinstatement in the national and local governments, as well as, in any government instrumentality or agency including government owned or controlled corporations effective upon the finality of this decision.

Let a copy of this decision be attached to his personal record. SO ORDERED. Teehankee, (Chairman), Makasiar, Guerrero, De Castro and Melencio-Herrera, JJ., concur.


agreed to buy Lot No. 106, and respondent, who, without being appointed by the court as administrator of the intestate estate of the late spouses Ricardo Nu[]ez and Paterna Nu[]ez, sold and conveyed to Imelda Nu[]ez and Elisa Nu[]ez-Alvarico the portions of Lot No. 106 they were occupying. After which Elisa Nu[]ez-Alvarico filed a criminal complaint for Estafa against respondent before the Municipal Trial Court of Baybay, Leyte docketed as Criminal Case No. R-4013-A. Sometime on 29 March 2001 at around 7:30 in the evening, respondent went to the house of Eduardo L. Nu[]ez at corner J.P. Laurel and M.L. Quezon Sts., Baybay, Leyte and threatened to kill Eduardo Nu[]ez by uttering the words ipaposil ta ka which means Ill have you shot. A complaint for Grave Threats docketed as Case No. R-4012-A was filed by Eduardo L. Nu[]ez before Municipal Trial Court of Baybay, Leyte. [3] In a hearing held on June 5, 2002, complainants appeared with their counsel, while respondent was represented by Atty. Arnold Logares. As respondent had not yet filed his answer to the Complaint despite a previous Order dated December 7, 2001, he was granted a period of fifteen (15) days within which to do so. The hearing was thus reset to June 26, 2002.[4] On June 26, 2002, only respondents counsel, Atty. Arnold Logares, was present. Respondent filed a Motion seeking a cancellation of the scheduled hearing and another extension of fifteen (15) days within which to file his answer. He was thus granted a non-extendible period of fifteen (15) days within which to do so.[5] On July 18, 2002, Atty. Astorga finally submitted his Answer. [6] He denied that he had utilized his profession to circumvent the law and averred that there were already several pending cases involving the same issues raised by complainants in the present administrative action: 2. That the Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase executed by the late Maria Ortega Vda. De Nuez on June 5, 1968 is more civil in nature and can be best threshed out in the amended complaint of Civil Case No. B-2001-10-27, entitled []The Intestate Estate of the late Spouses Ricardo O. Nuez, et al versus Spouses Bonito D. Alvarico, et al[] for Rescission of Contract[.] [T]he original complaint was filed in October 2001 at the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14, Baybay, Leyte; an amended complaint of which is filed where one of the issues is the declaration of invalidity of the foregoing questioned deed of sale with right to repurchase because if this document is really valid and existing then why did complainant Eugenio Nuez [affix] his signature as one of the instrumental witnesses in the Deed of Extra-Judicial Partition among Maria Ortega Vda. De Nuez and Ricardo O. Nuez on May 19, 1969 otherwise he would have protested at the time of the execution thereof because he is the temporary owner of Lot No. 106, one of the properties subject of partition. Why did he allow the late Ricardo O. Nuez to take control and full possession and ownership of Lot 106 to his exclusion after the partition in 1969? xxx xxx xxx

[A.C. No. 6131. February 28, 2005]

EDUARDO L. NUEZ, EUGENIO O. NUEZ, ELISA NUEZ-ALVARICO and IMELDA L. NUEZ, complainants, vs. Atty. ARTURO B. ASTORGA, respondent. DECISION PANGANIBAN, J.: Disbarment and suspension of an attorney are the most severe forms of disciplinary action; thus, they should be imposed with great caution. They should be meted out only for duly proven serious administrative charges. [1]

The Case and the Facts

This administrative case stems from a Complaint-Affidavit[2] filed with the Integrated Bar of the PhilippinesCommission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) by Eduardo L. Nuez, Eugenio O. Nuez, Eliza Nuez-Alvarico and Imelda L. Nuez. Atty. Arturo B. Astorga was charged therein with conduct unbecoming a member of the bar. The material averments of the Complaint are summarized by the IBP-CBD as follows: Complainants allege that sometime on June 5, 1968, the late Maria Ortega Vda. De Nu[]ez executed a Sale with Right to Repurchase in favor of Eugenio O. Nu[]ez Lot No. 106 covered by OCT No. 2651 (now TCT No. 8955) containing an area of 384 sq. ms. for a consideration of P400.00. In the said contract, the stipulated time of repurchase was ten (10) years from the date of execution thereof or until June 5, 1978. That said period of vendors right to repurchase expired without any agreement of extending said period of repurchase. To date, even the heirs of the late Maria Ortega Vda. de Nu[]ez have not exercised[d] their right of repurchase. A year after the execution of the said pacto de ret[r]o sale, the late Maria Ortega Vda. de Nu[]ez and her son Ricardo Nu[]ez, as the surviving heirs of the late Eleuterio Nu[]ez, extrajudicially partitioned his estate, among others, the subject [L]ot No. 106 was adjudicated to Ricardo Nu[]ez which eventually was the basis for the issuance of TCT No. 8955 in the name of Ricardo Nu[]ez. Eugenio O. Nu[]ez [has] occupied and possessed said Lot No. 106 for more than 40 years up to the present and it is also where his children, Eduardo, Elisa and Imelda, all surnamed Nu[]ez, grew and [are] presently residing. By virtue of a power of attorney executed sometime in 1982 by the late spouses Ricardo Nu[]ez and Paterna Nu[]ez appointing respondent as administrator, as well as on the alleged judicial confirmation of respondents wife, as acknowledged natural child of Ricardo Nu[]ez, respondent, on the pretext of administering the properties of the late spouses, had been disturbing the peaceful occupation and possession of complainants of Lot No. 106 claiming that complainants have no right over the same. With our desire to peaceably settle the controversy, complainants

[3] b) It is not only the authority of the Spouses Ricardo O. Nuez and Paterna Baltazar that herein respondent is relying as administrator of the said intestate estate but the same had been duly confirmed by the judicially declared daughter of Ricardo O. Nuez, namely, respondents wife Dr. Linda Teresa Tan -Nuez who confirmed undersign[ed]s authority as administrator of the aforenamed estate; [3] c) With the discovery of the aforenamed deed of sale with the right to repurchase only recently, the complainants were emboldened to actively [question] [the] estate as they now [refuse] to recognize the ownership and long time possession of the real properties forming part of the aforenamed [estate] to belong to the offspring of the late Ricardo O. Nuez;

[3] d) Undersigned respondent did not utilize his profession to circumvent the law. Complainants Elisa L. Nuez and Imelda L. Nuez are actually renting the cornermost portion of the consolidated Lot Nos. 106 and 107 of the Baybay Cadastre with an area only of 201 square meters, more or less, and when respondent was trying to eject them, complainants negotiated with the respondent to buy their area of Lot No. 106 they rented and in fact actually advanced part of the agreed consideration until their father Eugenio Nuez discovered an existing document of sale with right to repurchase when they, ill-advised by their counsel [started] filing [a] series of criminal, civil and administrative cases against respondent and his wife at the instigation of their lawyers, the late Atty. Jose C. Modina and their current counsel, Atty. Norjue I. Juego as a way of pressuring respondent and wife to give up [the] portion they are occupying [of] Lot No. 106[,] including [the] portion which complainant Eduardo Nuez is now renting of Lot No. 89; 4. That respondent in response to paragraph 7 of the complaint hereby admit the pendency of Criminal Case No. R-4013-A which was personally filed by Elisa L. Nuez without the intervention from any government prosecutor but said case is no longer pending in the Municipal Trial Court of Baybay, Leyte when then same was recommended for dismissal x x x. Later it was ordered dismissed by the Asst. Provincial Prosecutor Rosulo U. Vivero and approved by Provincial Prosecutor Teresita S. Lopez on February 22, 2001 x x x but complainants elevated the case for review to the Department of Justice x x x. Because of the pendency of this criminal case with the Department of Justice[,] a prejudicial question now exist[s] whereby this administrative case should be suspended until the resolution of that petition for review by the Department of Justice; 5. That respondent specifically denies the material allegations of paragraph 8, 9 and 10 of the complaint, the truth of the matter is that Amado Caballes at the instigation of the complain[an]ts and their counsel filed Criminal Case No. R-4011-A with the Municipal Trial Court, Baybay, Leyte which is pending pre-trial. Like Criminal Case No. R4013-A, the same was filed at the instance of Amado Caballes, x x x. But before the filing of this present action initiated by Mr. Caballess counsel and complainants Eduardo Nuez and Eugenio Nuez required Mr. Caballes to execute a document of resale on August 14, 2001 despite knowing that the same has already been long redeemed by respondent x x x. Despite legal redemption, and despite Amado Caballes having executed x x x a Deed of Resale which was witnessed by complainant Eugenio Nuez x x x, the complainants convinced Amado Caballes to file Crim. Case No. R-4011-A[.] x x x. That by virtue of the pendency of Criminal Case No. R-4011-A, there exist[s] a prejudicial question and that further hearing of the present administrative action should be suspended until the outcome of this criminal case; 6. That respondent is duly authorized to negotiate for the disposal of any part of the Intestate Estate of the late Spouses Ricardo O. Nuez and Paterna Baltazar x x x. 7. That regarding paragraph 12 and 13 of the complaint[,] this is a matter of existence and pend[ing] with [the IBP-CBD] and need not be a part of this complaint because this will be threshed out in another hearing[.] [T]he truth of the matter is that respondent had been already acquitted in Crim. Case No. CBU-29395 x x x. 8. That similar to other cases filed at the instance of the Nuezes, there is also filed Crim. Case No. R-4012-A for Grave Threats by complainant Eduardo Nuez and now pending in the Municipal Court of Baybay, Leyte despite the lack of witnesses x x x. Again, the pendency of this case will constitute a prejudicial question which necessarily will suspend further hearing of the present administrative action until the final outcome of the aforesaid Crim. Case No. R-4011-A; xxx xxx x x x.[7]

On August 8, 2002, complainants submitted their Reply. [8] Thereafter, IBP-CPD Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala scheduled the case for hearing on December 11, 2002. On this date, respondent requested and was a granted a period of fifteen (15) days to file his rejoinder. The parties agreed to file simultaneous memoranda on January 15, 2003, after which the case was to be considered submitted for resolution.[9]

Report and Recommendation of the IBP

In her Report,[10] Commissioner Villanueva-Maala found respondent guilty of serious misconduct. Thus, the investigating commissioner recommended his suspension from the practice of law for a period of one year. In Resolution No. XV-2003-346 dated June 21, 2003, the Board of Governors of the IBP adopted the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Villanueva-Maala. The Resolution, together with the records of the case, was transmitted to this Court for final action, pursuant to Section 12(b) of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court. Respondent also filed a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, to set aside Resolution No. XV-2003-346 of the IBP Board of Governors.

The Courts Ruling

We disagree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP, but find respondents offensive language against complainants and their counsel unbecoming an attorney.

Administrative Liability of Respondent

The legal profession exacts a high standard from its members. Lawyers shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on their fitness to practice law. Neither shall they, whether in public or in private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.[11] In Gonzaga v. Villanueva,[12] this Court, citing Tucay v. Tucay,[13] held thus: A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath, a patent disregard of his duties, or an odious deportment unbecoming an attorney. Among the grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court are deceit; malpractice; gross misconduct in office; grossly immoral conduct; conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to the practice of law; willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; corrupt or willful appearance as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. The grounds are not preclusive in nature even as they are broad enough as to cover practically any kind of impropriety that a lawyer does or commits in his professional career or in his private life. A lawyer must at no time be wanting in probity and moral fiber, which are not only conditions precedent to his entrance to the Bar but are likewise essential demands for his continued membership therein. [14]

However, the penalties of disbarment and suspension are severe forms of disciplinary action and must be imposed with great caution.[15] The allegations in the Complaint were not substantiated by clear evidence; they were bereft of convincing proof of respondents deceit and gross misconduct. The admission of respondent that there are various cases filed or pending against him does not ipso facto constitute serious misconduct. His contention that the pending cases against him pose a prejudicial question that will bar the instant administrative case is untenable. Likewise bereft of merit, however, is the finding of the IBP investigating commissioner that the mere existence of the same pending cases constitute serious misconduct on the part of respondent. Under Section 27 of Rule 138, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude is a ground for disbarment or suspension. Suspension or disbarment may follow as a matter of course, upon a finding that the crime a lawyer has been convicted of involves moral turpitude. By such conviction, such lawyer has become unfit to uphold the administration of justice and is no longer possessed of good moral character. [16] In the present case, however, while respondent has been charged with several criminal cases involving moral turpitude, he has yet to be convicted of any of them. Without clear and convincing evidence that he committed acts that allegedly constituted serious misconduct, the mere existence of pending criminal charges cannot be a ground for disbarment or suspension of respondent. To hold otherwise would open the door to harassment of attorneys through the mere filing of numerous criminal cases against them. Respondent contends that his right to due process was violated when the IBP investigating commissioner failed to conduct a formal investigation.[17] As borne by the records, Investigating Commissioner Villanueva-Maala conducted hearings on the case on June 5 and June 26, 2002, during which counsel for respondent, Atty. Logares, appeared. Respondent was allowed to file his Answer, as well as his Rejoinder. And, more important, he himself appeared at the December 11, 2002 hearing when the parties agreed to file simultaneous memoranda, after which the case was deemed submitted for resolution. Records show that respondent filed his Memorandum on January 29, 2003. Hence, he cannot claim that he was not given ample opportunity to rebut the charges filed against him. While we are not convinced that complainants have clearly and convincingly proven the charges of serious misconduct, we do, however, note the use of offensive language in respondents pleadings. 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. In his Memorandum[18] dated January 15, 2003, the opposing counsel, Atty. Norjue I. Juego, points out the manner and tenor of the language in the Answer[19] and the Rejoinder of respondent.[20] The latter suggested that complainants and their counsel had caused the filing of several baseless suits, including the present charge, merely to harass and place him in a bad light.[21] He hurled insulting language in describing the opposing counsel[22] and cast doubts on the latters integrity by implying that the lawyer had instigated the filing of the so -called baseless suits, violated the rules on non-forum shopping and committed malpractice.[23] Indeed, these statements, particularly the words who he is despite x x x his shortness not only in size but in arrogance, constitute conduct unbecoming a member of the legal profession and cannot be countenanced by this Court.

A lawyers language may be forceful, but should always be dignified; emphatic, but respectful as befitting an advocate. Arguments, whether written or oral, should be gracious to both court and opposing counsel and should use such language as may be properly addressed by one gentleperson to another.[24] WHEREFORE, Atty. Arturo B. Astorga is ACQUITTED of the charge of serious misconduct, but is held liable for conduct unbecoming an attorney and is FINED two thousand pesos. SO ORDERED. Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Garcia, JJ., concur. Carpio-Morales, J., on leave.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC A.C. No. 7136 JOSELANO vs. ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, respondent. DECISION PER CURIAM: Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4, 2002 a Complaint for Disbarment 1 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. August 1, 2007 GUEVARRA, complainant,

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


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 admitted 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

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 Affidavit 30 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.

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 aboveentitled 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 139 22 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 . . ."

. . . 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. Puno, Chief Justice, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, CarpioMorales, Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Garcia, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION [A.C. No. 3319. June 8, 2000] LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent. DECISION DE LEON, JR., J.: Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris Bonifacio for allegedly carrying on an immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, husband of complainant, Leslie Ui. The relevant facts are: On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon City[1] and as a result of their marital union, they had four (4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and Carl Cavin, all surnamed Ui. Sometime in December 1987, however, complainant found out that her husband, Carlos Ui, was carrying on an illicit relationship with respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot a daughter sometime in 1986, and that they had been living together at No. 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a graduate of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1982. Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent. Complainant then visited respondent at her office in the later part of June 1988 and introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon, respondent admitted to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged, however, that everything was over between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant believed the representations of respondent and thought things would turn out well from then on and that the illicit relationship between her husband and respondent would come to an end. However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her husband and respondent continued, and that sometime in December 1988, respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child. Complainant then met again with respondent sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with respondent to discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail. The illicit relationship persisted and complainant even came to know later on that respondent had been employed by her husband in his company. A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed on August 11, 1989 by the complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, more particularly, for carrying on an illicit relationship with the complainants husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer, [2] respondent averred that she met Carlos Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to be a bachelor, with the knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese woman in Amoy, China, from whom he had long been estranged. She stated that during one of their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry her and they in fact got married in Hawaii, USA in 1985[3]. Upon their return to Manila, respondent did not live with Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live with his children in their Greenhills residence because respondent and Carlos Ui wanted to let the children gradually to know and accept the fact of his second marriage before they would live together.[4]

In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she would only return occasionally to the Philippines to update her law practice and renew legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime in June 1988, respondent was surprised when she was confronted by a woman who insisted that she was the lawful wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon her discovery of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, respondent then left for Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July 1988 and returned only in March 1989 with her two (2) children. On March 20, 1989, a few days after she reported to work with the law firm[5] she was connected with, the woman who represented herself to be the wife of Carlos Ui again came to her office, demanding to know if Carlos Ui has been communicating with her. It is respondents contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit because they were married abroad and that after June 1988 when respondent discovered Carlos Uis true civil status, she cut off all her ties with him. Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never lived with her in Alabang, and that he resided at 26 Potsdam Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. It was respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which belonged to her mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said house was built exclusively from her parents funds. [6] By way of counterclaim, respondent sought moral damages in the amount of Ten Million Pesos (Php10,000,000.00) against complainant for having filed the present allegedly malicious and groundless disbarment case against respondent. In her Reply[7] dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that respondent knew perfectly well that Carlos Ui was married to complainant and had children with her even at the start of her relationship with Carlos Ui, and that the reason respondent went abroad was to give birth to her two (2) children with Carlos Ui. During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, complainant also charged her husband, Carlos Ui, and respondent with the crime of Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, docketed as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged. The resolution dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent reads: Complainants evidence had prima facie established the existence of the "illicit relationship" between the respondents allegedly discovered by the complainant in December 1987. The same evidence however show that respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to the latter part of 1988 and/or the early part of 1989. It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of respondents started and was discovered by complainant sometime in 1987 when she and respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26 Potsdam Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, MetroManila and they, admittedly, continued to live together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 or later 1988, when respondent Carlos left the same. From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the relationship, illicit as complainant puts it, had been prima facie established by complainants evidence, this same evidence had failed to even prima facie establish the "fact of respondents cohabitation in the concept of husband and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of which is necessary and indispensable to at least create probable cause for the offense charged. The statement alone of complainant, worse, a statement only of a conclusion respecting the fact of cohabitation does not make the complainants evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs. Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178). It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support of their respective positions on the matter support and bolster the foregoing conclusion/recommendation.

WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant complaint be dismissed for want of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged. RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.[8] Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to the Secretary of Justice, but the same was dismissed [9] on the ground of insufficiency of evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and Carlos Ui lived together as husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant filed a Motion to Cite Respondent in Contempt of the Commission [10] wherein she charged respondent with making false allegations in her Answer and for submitting a supporting document which was altered and intercalated. She alleged that in the Answer of respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, respondent averred, among others, that she was married to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of Marriage to substantiate her averment. However, the Certificate of Marriage [11] duly certified by the State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the Hawaii State Department of Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of marriage between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and not October 22, 1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer. According to complainant, the reason for that false allegation was because respondent wanted to impress upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child by Carlos Ui was within the wedlock.[12] It is the contention of complainant that such act constitutes a violation of Articles 183 [13] and 184[14] of the Revised Penal Code, and also contempt of the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false allegations in her Answer and submitting an altered/intercalated document are indicative of her moral perversity and lack of integrity which make her unworthy to be a member of the Philippine Bar. In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt),[15] respondent averred that she did not have the original copy of the marriage certificate because the same was in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she annexed such copy because she relied in good faith on what appeared on the copy of the marriage certificate in her possession. Respondent filed her Memorandum [16] on February 22, 1995 and raised the lone issue of whether or not she has conducted herself in an immoral manner for which she deserves to be barred from the practice of law. Respondent averred that the complaint should be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely: (i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the requirement of good moral character for the practice of the legal profession; and (ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent conducted herself in an immoral manner.[17] In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was the victim in this case and not Leslie Ui because she did not know that Carlos Ui was already married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent immediately cut-off all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no reason for her to doubt at that time that the civil status of Carlos Ui was that of a bachelor because he spent so much time with her, and he was so open in his courtship.[18] On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it was highly incredible for her to have knowingly attached such marriage certificate to her Answer had she known that the same was altered. Respondent

reiterated that there was no compelling reason for her to make it appear that her marriage to Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987, because the fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got married before complainant confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui who testified and admitted that he was the person responsible for changing the date of the marriage certificate from 1987 to 1985, and complainant did not present evidence to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on this matter. Respondent posits that complainants evidence, consisting of the pictures of respondent with a child, pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS 313, a picture of the same car, and portion of the house and ground, and another picture of the same car bearing Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture of the house and the garage, [19] does not prove that she acted in an immoral manner. They have no evidentiary value according to her. The pictures were taken by a photographer from a private security agency and who was not presented during the hearings. Further, the respondent presented the Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint filed by Leslie Ui against respondent for lack of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged [20] and the dismissal of the appeal by the Department of Justice [21] to bolster her argument that she was not guilty of any immoral or illegal act because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, respondent claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui in good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, or shameless, nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Ui whom she believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true civil status, she parted ways with him. In the Memorandum [22] filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she prayed for the disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent committed immorality by having intimate relations with a married man which resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant testified that respondents mother, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and her husband since the late 1970s because they were clients of the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch Manager.[23] It was thus highly improbable that respondent, who was living with her parents as of 1986, would not have been informed by her own mother that Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards the Commission for submitting a photocopy of a document containing an intercalated date. In her Reply to Complainants Memorandum [24], respondent stated that complainant miserably failed to show sufficient proof to warrant her disbarment. Respondent insists that contrary to the allegations of complainant, there is no showing that respondent had knowledge of the fact of marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The allegation that her mother knew Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that such information was made known to respondent. Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline submitted its Report and Recommendation, finding that: In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted by Carlos Ui, the latter represented himself to be single. The Commission does not find said claim too difficult to believe in the light of contemporary human experience. Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he represents himself to be single, separated, or without any firm commitment to another woman. The reason therefor is not hard to fathom. By their very nature, single women prefer single men.

The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left for the United States (in July of 1988). She broke off all contacts with him. When she returned to the Philippines in March of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and respondent only talked to each other because of the children whom he was allowed to visit. At no time did they live together. Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act on the part of respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she was more of a victim that (sic) anything else and should deserve compassion rather than condemnation. Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of having a normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by every single girl. x..........................x..........................x" Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a Notice of Resolution dated December 13, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: 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, the complaint for Gross Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for knowingly and willfully attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of Marriage with a stern warning that a repetition of the same will merit a more severe penalty." We agree with the findings aforequoted. The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy the practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics. The requisites for admission to the practice of law are: a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines; b. a resident thereof; c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age; d. a person of good moral character; e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude, are filed or pending in court; f. possess the required educational qualifications; and

g. pass the bar examinations.[25] (Italics supplied) Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must possess good moral character. More importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege. It has been held If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for retaining membership in the legal profession. Membership in the bar may be terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865). A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should have moral integrity in addition to professional probity. It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment. Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community." (7 C.J.S. 959).[26] In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she met Carlos Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love with him and they got married and as a result of such marriage, she gave birth to two (2) children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left him. Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of respondent are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before. This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility and thus must handle their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts of this case lead us to believe that perhaps respondent would not have found herself in such a compromising situation had she exercised prudence and been more vigilant in finding out more about Carlos Uis personal background prior to her intimate involvement with him. Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused respondents suspicion that something was amiss in her relationship with Carlos Ui, and moved her to ask probing questions. For instance, respondent admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with a woman from Amoy, China, yet it appeared that she never exerted the slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also, despite their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first child, a circumstance that is simply incomprehensible considering respondents allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her.

All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what respondent believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and respectable members of the community.[27] Moreover, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly immoral," that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree.[28] We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships x x x but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards."[29] Respondents act of immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui upon discovering his true civil status belies just that alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession. Complainants bare assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its disciplinary powers only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence. [30] This, herein complainant miserably failed to do. On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to her Answer, we find improbable to believe the averment of respondent that she merely relied on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate which was provided her by Carlos Ui. For an event as significant as a marriage ceremony, any normal bride would verily recall the date and year of her marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a lawyer as in the case at bar, can forget the year when she got married. Simply stated, it is contrary to human experience and highly improbable. Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an attachment to her pleading, especially so when she has personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching such Marriage Certificate with an intercalated date, the defense of good faith of respondent on that point cannot stand. It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality. The legal profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand no less than the highest degree of morality. WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L. Bonifacio, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED. However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer a photocopy of her Marriage Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date thereof, with a STERNWARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed on her for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future. SO ORDERED. Bellosillo, (Chairman and Acting C.J.), Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ., concur.


[A.C. No. 5141. September 29, 1999]

We do not, of course, ignore the fact that by virtue of ones membership in the IBP, a lawyer thus submits himself to the disciplinary authority of the organization. However, as the complaint lodged against the respondent in the case at hand did not pertain to an act that she committed in the exercise of her profession, the IBP need not assume jurisdiction to discipline respondent. As the Commission on Bar Discipline correctly suggested, complainants remedy is to file the necessary collection case in court for her to recover the amount respondent owed her. It was, however, still necessary for respondent to acknowledge the orders of the Commission in deference to its authority over her as a member of the IBP. Her wanton disregard of its lawful orders subjects her to disciplinary sanction. Thus, her suspension from the practice of law for one month is warranted.

PRISCILA L. TOLEDO, complainant, vs. ATTY. ERLINDA ABALOS, respondent. RESOLUTION MELO, J.: This is a case of a lawyer who borrowed money without paying it back. On July 9, 1981, Atty. Erlinda Abalos obtained a loan of P20,000.00 from Priscila Toledo, payable within six months from date, plus interest of 5% per month. To guarantee the payment of said obligation, respondent executed a Promissory Note (Exhibit B). After the lapse of six months, and despite repeated demands, respondent failed to pay her obligation. Afraid that she will not recover her money, Ms.Toledo sought the help of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which referred the matter to the Commission on Bar Discipline. On February 1, 1995, the Commission issued an order directing Atty. Abalos to file her Answer to the lettercomplaint of Ms. Toledo. Despite receipt of said order, respondent did not answer the complaint. On August 17, 1995, Investigating Commissioner Benjamin B. Bernardino, issued an order setting the case for hearing on September 29, 1995 at 2 p.m. Despite due notice, respondent failed to appear. Accordingly, complainant was allowed to present her evidence ex-parte after which, the case was considered submitted for resolution. Respondent received this order as shown by the registry return. However, she again did not do anything about it. On June 19, 1999, the Commission passed a resolution recommending the suspension from the practice of law of respondent for a period of six months for her flouting resistance to lawful orders of the Court and illustrating her despiciency of her oath of office as a lawyer. The Commission, however, declined to discipline her for failing to meet her financial obligation, the same having been incurred in her private capacity. We agree with the Commission that respondent may not be disciplined either by the IBP or by this Court for failing to pay her obligation to complainant. Complainants remedy is to file a collection case before a regular court of justice against respondent. The general rule is that a lawyer may not be suspended or disbarred, and the court may not ordinarily assume jurisdiction to discipline him, for misconduct in his non-professional or private capacity (In re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 569 [1923]; Lizaso vs. Amante, 198 SCRA 1 [1991]). We, however, find the recommendation to suspend respondent from the practice of law for six months to be grossly disproportionate to the act complained of , i.e., her failure to appear before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP. With her legal knowledge and expertise, respondent may have known all along that the Commission has no jurisdiction over a complaint for collection of a sum of money which she borrowed in her private capacity. Hence, her adamant refusal to appear before said body.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Erlinda Abalos is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of ONE MONTH from the date of the finality of this Resolution. Copies of this Resolution shall be furnished all courts of the land and the Office of the Bar Confidant. This Resolution shall likewise be spread on the personal record of respondent attorney. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.


time that has lapsed since he has been first required to do so. Respondent Atty. Alejandro failed to comply. Hence, we fined him P1,000.00 and directed that he file the required explanation and comment on the administrative complaint.[8] When copies of both resolutions were again returned unserved with postal notations moved, we required complainant anew to submit the correct and present address of respondents, within ten (10) days from notice, under pain of dismissal of her administrative complaint.[9] In a handwritten letter dated September 10, 1998, complainant disclosed respondents present address as 12403 Dunlop Drive, Houston, Texas. [10] We referred this case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation, within ninety (90) days from notice, in our Resolution of March 17, 2003. In a Report dated August 26, 2003, IBP Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan recommended that both respondents be disbarred on the following rationalization: In its Resolution dated 31 July 1996, the Supreme Court (Second Division) ruled that respondent Atty. Alejandro was deemed served a copy of the instant administrative complaint and of the Courts Resolution dated 4 July 1994, by substituted service pursuant to Rule 1, Section 6 of the Rules of Court. In the earlier Resolution of the Supreme Court dated 4 July 1994, respondents Atty. Alejandro and Atty. Villarin were directed to file their Comment on the instant Complaint within ten (10) days from notice of said Resolution. To date, no Comment has been filed by either respondent Atty. Alejandro or Atty. Villarin. x x x Complainant submitted a photocopy of the Marriage Contract (Annex A of the letter-complaint) between herself and respondent Atty. Alejandro executed on 3 March 1971. Complainant also submitted photocopies of the Birth Certificates (Annexes B to D of the letter-complaint) of the children born out of her marriage to respondent Atty. Alejandro. These documentary evidence submitted by complainant clearly show that there was and is a valid and subsisting marriage between herself and respondent Atty. Alejandro at the time she filed the instant administrative complaint against said respondent, her husband. In support of her charge of bigamy and concubinage against respondents Alejandro and Villarin, complainant submitted a photocopy of the Birth Certificate (Annex E of the letter-complaint) of one Paolo Villarin Alejandro. The said Birth Certificates states that the mother of said Paolo Villarin Alejandro is Ma. Cristina Arrieta Villarin, while his father is one Warfredo Tomas Alejandro. Said Birth Certificate also states that the parents of Paolo Villarin Alejandro were married on May 1, 1990 in Isabela Province. Given the Birth Certificate of Paolo Villarin Alejandro (Annex E of the letter-complaint), and considering the failure of respondents Atty. Alejandro and Atty. Villarin to deny the charges of complainant, it is submitted that there is sufficient evidence on record which establishes the immoral/illicit relationship between respondents Atty. Alejandro and Atty. Villarin. However, there is no evidence on record which would establish beyond doubt that respondent Atty. Alejandro indeed contracted a second marriage with Atty. Villarin while his marriage to herein complainant was subsisting. Thus, it is recommended that as prayed for by complainant, respondents Atty. Alejandro and Atty. Villarin be disbarred for willful violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline adopted and approved the above report and recommendation in its Resolution No. XVI-2003-169 dated September 27, 2003. We agree with the IBP recommendation with respect to respondent Atty. Alejandro.

[A.C. No. 4256. February 13, 2004]

JOVITA BUSTAMANTE-ALEJANDRO, complainant, vs. ATTYS. WARFREDO TOMAS ALEJANDRO and MARICRIS A. VILLARIN,respondents. DECISION PER CURIAM: This is an administrative case filed in 1994 by Jovita Bustamante-Alejandro charging respondents Atty. Warfredo Tomas Alejandro and Atty. Maricris A. Villarin with bigamy and concubinage. Complainant alleged that respondent, Atty. Warfredo Tomas Alejandro, is her husband; that they were married on March 3, 1971 at Alicia, Isabela, as evidenced by their Marriage Contract;[1] that she bore him three (3) sons, namely, Dino, Eric, and Carlo, born in 1971, 1973, and 1978, respectively, as evidenced by their respective Certificates of Live Birth;[2]that respondent abandoned her and their children in 1990 to live with his mistress, respondent Atty. Ma. Cristina Arrieta Villarin,[3] at 27-C Masbate St., Quezon City; that respondents have since then been publicly representing themselves as husband and wife; that respondent Atty. Villarin gave birth to Paolo Villarin Alejandro on January 17, 1992 as a result of her immoral and scandalous relationship with complainants husband whom she named as the father of her son in the latters Certificate of Live Birth; [4] and, that in said Certificate of Live Birth, respondent Atty. Villarin identified herself as Ma. Cristina V. Alejandro having been married to Atty. Alejandro on May 1, 1990 at Isabela Province. Complainant alleged that she filed this administrative complaint when she learned that her husband has been nominated as a regional trial court judge. She insists that he is not fit to be a judge considering that he, and co-respondent Atty. Villarin, do not even possess the basic integrity to remain as members of the Philippine Bar. We required respondent to comment on the administrative complaint in our Resolution dated July 4, 1994. When copies of our resolution and of the complaint and its annexes addressed to respondent Atty. Alejandro at 27-C Masbate St., Quezon City were returned unserved with notation moved, we required complainant to submit the correct and present address of her husband.[5] No similar return of service with respect to respondent Atty. Villarin appears on the record. In an Ex-Parte Manifestation and Motion dated December 5, 1994, complainant insisted that her husbands correct address remains to be 27-C Masbate St., Quezon City; that it was him who told the postman that he had already moved; and, that any subsequent service by mail will result in the same failure as respondent will either refuse service or misrepresent a change of address again. Complainant therefore asked that copies of the complaint and Court resolution requiring comment be served personally upon her husband by the Courts process servers. We noted and granted the prayer.[6] However, when the Courts process server attempted to effect personal service on February 16, 1995, respondent Atty. Alejandro was allegedly out of the house and his house helper refused to accept service. Consequently we considered the copies as having been served upon respondent Atty. Alejandro in our Resolution of July 31, 1996,[7] and required him to show cause why he should not be disciplinary dealt with or held in contempt for his continued failure to file comment, and to file such comment, considering the considerable length of

Indeed Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Thus we have in a number of cases[11] disciplined members of the Bar whom we found guilty of misconduct which demonstrated a lack of that good moral character required of them not only as a condition precedent for their admission to the Bar but, likewise, for their continued membership therein. No distinction has been made as to whether the misconduct was committed in the lawyers professional capacity or in his private life. This is because a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an attorney at one time and a mere citizen at another. [12] He is expected to be competent, honorable and reliable at all times since he who cannot apply and abide by the laws in his private affairs, can hardly be expected to do so in his professional dealings nor lead others in doing so. Professional honesty and honor are not to be expected as the accompaniment of dishonesty and dishonor in other relations. [13] The administration of justice, in which the lawyer plays an important role being an officer of the court, demands a high degree of intellectual and moral competency on his part so that the courts and clients may rightly repose confidence in him.[14] In the instant case, sufficient evidence was presented to show that respondent Atty. Alejandro, while being lawfully married to complainant, carried on an illicit relationship with another woman, co-respondent Atty. Villarin. Although the evidence presented was not sufficient to prove that he contracted a subsequent bigamous marriage with her, the fact remains that respondent Atty. Alejandro exhibited by his conduct a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as a member of the Bar. We have already held that disbarment proceedings is warranted against a lawyer who abandons his lawful wife and maintains an illicit relationship with another woman[15] who had borne him a child.[16] We can do no less in the instant case where respondent Atty. Alejandro made himself unavailable to this Court and even fled to another country to escape the consequences of his misconduct. The same penalty however cannot be imposed on respondent Atty. Villarin. I is noted that our Resolution dated July 4, 1994 requiring comment on the administrative complaint was never deemed served upon her, in the same way that it was upon Atty. Alejandro. In fact, it does not appear that copies of the administrative complaint, its annexes, and of our resolution requiring comment were even sent to her. Although sent at the address she allegedly shared with co-respondent Atty. Alejandro, the envelope bearing the copies was addressed to the latter only. [17] That was why when both service by registered mail and personal service failed, the copies were deemed served solely upon Atty. Alejandro.[18] The IBP for its part attempted to serve copy of the complaint upon Atty. Villarin with directive for her to file answer. It is noted however that the same was sent to respondent s old address at 27-C Masbate St., Quezon City, not 12403 Dunlop Drive, Houston, Texas, which was respondents new address on record supplied by the complainant. The return of service therefore showed the postal notation moved. Considering the serious consequences of disbarment proceedings, full opportunity upon reasonable notice must have been given respondent to answer the charge and present evidence in her behalf. It is only in clear cases of waiver that an administrative case be resolved sans respondents answer. WHEREFORE, for Gross Immorality, respondent Atty. Warfredo Tomas Alejandro is DISBARRED from the practice of law, to take effect immediately upon his receipt of this Decision. Let copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Alejandros personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and a copy thereof be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The complaint against respondent Atty. Maricris A. Villarin is REFERRED BACK to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for further appropriate proceedings. SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, andTinga, JJ., concur.


they advised respondent about it. Respondent, by Affidavit of February 18, 1986, acknowledged such obligation to be his and undertook to settle it within two years. Complainants were subsequently issued on January 21, 1986 a title over the Melencio property.

[A.C. No. 4904. August 12, 2004]

ANA A. CHUA and MARCELINA HSIA, complainants, vs. ATTY. SIMEON M. MESINA, JR., respondent. DECISION

Not long after the execution of the February 9, 1979 Deed of Absolute Sale or in February 1986, one Juanito Tecson (Tecson) filed an Affidavit[5] dated February 20, 1986 before the Cabanatuan City Prosecutors Office charging respondents mother, the spouses Chua, Marcelina Hsia and the two witnesses to the said Deed of Absolute Sale, for Falsification of Public Document and violation of the Internal Revenue Code. In his complaint affidavit, Tecson alleged that he was also a lessee of the Melencio property and was, along with the Chua spouses, supposed to purchase it but that contrary to their agreement, the property was sold only to complainant and her co-complainant, to his exclusion. Tecson went on to relate that the February 9, 1979 Deed of Absolute Sale did not reflect the true value of the Melencio property and was antedated to evade payment of capital gains tax. Tecson submitted documents showing that indeed the July 9, 1979 Deed of Absolute Sale was antedated.

PER CURIAM: By a verified complaint received by the Office of the Bar Confidant on May 5, 1998, Ana Alvaran Chua and Marcelina Hsia administratively charged Atty. Simeon M. Mesina, Jr., for breach of professional ethics, gross professional misconduct, and culpable malpractice. As related by complainants, the following facts gave rise to the filing of the complaint. Respondent was, for years, Ana Alvaran Chua and her now deceased husband Chua Yap Ans lega l counsel and adviser upon whom they reposed trust and confidence. They were in fact lessees of a building situated at Burgos Street, Cabanatuan City (Burgos property) owned by respondents family, and another property containing an area of 854 sq. m., situated at Melencio Street, Cabanatuan City (Melencio property), also owned by respondents family whereon they (spouses Chua) constructed their house. These two properties were mortgaged by the registered owner, respondents mother Felicisima Melencio vda. de Mesina (Mrs. Mesina), in favor of the Planters Development Bank to secure a loan she obtained. As Mrs. Mesina failed to meet her obligation to the bank, respondent convinced complainant Ana Chua and her husband to help Mrs. Mesina by way of settling her obligation in consideration for which the Melencio property would be sold to them at P850.00/sq. m. Accommodating respondents request, the spouses Chua and their business partner, herein co -complainant Marcelina Hsia, settled Mrs. Mesinas bank obligation in the amount of P983,125.40. A Deed of Absolute Sale dated January 19, 1985 [3] conveying the Melencio property for P85,400.00 was thereafter executed by Mrs. Mesina, whose name appears therein as Felicisima M. Melencio, in favor of complainants. As complainants were later apprised of the amount of capital gains tax they were to pay, they consulted respondent about it. Respondent thus suggested to them that another Deed of Absolute Sale should be executed, antedated to 1979 before the effectivity of the law mandating the payment of capital gains tax. As suggested by respondent, another Deed of Absolute Sale antedated February 9, 1979 [4] was executed by Mrs. Mesina, whose name again appears therein as Felicisima M. Melencio, in favor of complainants wherein the purchase price was also indicated to be P85,400.00. After liquidating the advances made by the Chua spouses in the redemption of the MESINA properties, Mrs. Mesina was found to have an existing balance due the spouses in the amount of P400,000.00, on account of which
[1] [2]

Respondent thereupon hatched a plan to dodge the falsification charge against Mrs. Mesina et al. He proposed to complainants that they would simulate a deed of sale of the Melencio property wherein complainants would resell it to Mrs. Mesina. Heeding the proposal of respondent, complainants executed a Deed of Absolute Sale dated April 1, 1986[6] conveying to Felicisima M. Melencio the Melencio property forP85,400.00. A new title was accordingly issued on April 4, 1986 in the name of Felicisima M. Melencio, the owners copy of which was entrusted to complainants. Tecson subsequently filed before the Cabanatuan City Prosecutors Office an Affidavit of Desistance dated September 5, 1986[7] alleging that his filing of the criminal complaint arose out of mere misunderstanding and difference with herein complainants and their co-respondents and he had no sufficient evidence against them. Some years later or on May 2, 1990, respondent approached complainants and told them that he would borrow the owners copy of Mrs. Mesinas title with the undertaking that he would, in four months, let Mrs. Mesina execute a deed of sale over the Melencio property in complainants favor. In fact, respondent gave complainants a written undertaking[8] dated May 2, 1990 reading: Received the owners duplicate copy of TCT No. 4383 issued by the Register of Deeds, Cabanatuan City registered in the name of Felicisima Mesina, widow, consisting of about 854 square meters more or less located at calle Melencio, Cabanatuan City from Mrs. Ana Chua and Marcelina Hsia. I promise to and undertake to have the Deed of Sale of the above-mentioned property in favor of Ana Chua and Marcelina Hsia to be signed by Mrs. Felicisima Mesina, within four (4) months from datehereof so that the above-mentioned property and title maybe transferred in the name of Ana Chua and Macelina Hsia. (Underscoring supplied) In the meantime, Mrs. Mesina died in the early part of 1991. Despite respondents repeated promises to effect the transfer of title in complainants name, he failed to do so. Complainants were later informed that the Melencio property was being offered for sale to the public.

The spouses Chua and complainant Marcelina Hsia thus filed on August 24, 1992 a Complaint[9] against respondent and his two siblings before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Nueva Ecija in Cabanatuan City, for Declaration of Nullity of Sale and Reconveyance of Real Property. As of the time of the filing of the present administrative complaint in 1998, the civil case against the Mesina siblings was still pending. This Court, by Resolution of July 13, 1998,[10] directed respondent to file Comment on the complaint within ten days. By Resolution of December 2, 1998,[11] this Court, noting that the copy of the Resolution of July 13, 1998 requiring respondent to comment on the complaint sent to him at his office address at S. M. Mesina Law Office, 30 Jupiter St., Paseo de Roxas, Bel-Air Subd., Makati City was returned unserved with the notation Moved, considered the Resolution of July 13, 1998 served on respondent by substituted service pursuant to Rule 13, Section 8 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Respondent was accordingly deemed to have waived the filing of the required comment. By the same Resolution of December 2, 1998, the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation within ninety days. The IBP, acting on the complaint, issued a notice of hearing on September 14, 2001,[12] copy of which was sent to respondent at his office address via registered mail, covered by Registry Receipt No. 2605 of the Meralco Post Office.[13] On the scheduled date of hearing, complainants personally appeared with their counsel. Respondent failed to show up. Given the length of time that the case remained pending from its filing, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, by Order of October 12, 2001,[14] directed complainants to just file their position paper with affidavits and supporting documents in lieu of actual presentation of witnesses and to serve a copy thereof to respondent at his last known address. In compliance with the IBP Order, complainants filed on April 1, 2002 their position paper,[15] annexed to which were photocopies of: 1) a May 5, 1993 Certification[16] issued by the Metrobank Cabanatuan Branch certifying that it issued the demand drafts to the payees enumerated below, which were debited from the account of Mr. Chua Yap An under Savings Account No. 760: D/D No. 214597 214760 214761 Payee Planters Dev. Bank Planters Dev. Bank Atty. Simeon Mesina, Jr.

A copy of complainants position paper was sent on March 18, 2002 to respondent at his office address by registered mail covered by Registry Receipt No. 5278.[25] There is no showing if respondent received this mail matter. The IBP once more scheduled, by notice of December 13, 2002, [26] a hearing of the administrative case to January 15, 2003, copy of which notice was sent to respondent at his office address by registered mail covered by Registry Receipt No. 2953 issued by the Meralco Post Office.[27] On the scheduled hearing on January 15, 2003, the IBP Investigating Commissioner, by Order of even date,[28] noted the presence of complainants, and the absence of respondent, copy of the notice of hearing to whom was returned unserved with the notation RTS-Moved. The case was thereupon deemed submitted for report and recommendation. On June 21, 2003, the IBP passed Resolution No. XV-2003-342[29] adopting and approving the report and recommendation of Atty. Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, the Investigating Commissioner of the case. In her March 3, 2003 Report and Recommendation,[30] Investigation Commissioner Maala observed as follows: A lawyer should not engage or participate on any unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. The moral character he displayed when he applied for admission at the Bar must be maintained incessantly. Otherwise, his privilege to practice the legal profession may be withdrawn from him (Rule 1.01, Code of Professional Responsibility). On the basis of the uncontroverted facts and evidence presented,respondent Atty. Simeon M. Mesina has committed gross misconduct which shows him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privilege which his license and law confer upon him, and recommended that respondent be suspended for a period of One (1) Year. This Court finds that indeed, respondent is guilty of gross misconduct. First, by advising complainants to execute another Deed of Absolute Sale antedated to 1979 to evade payment of capital gains taxes, he violated his duty to promote respect for law and legal processes, 28 and not to abet activities aimed at defiance of the law;29 That respondent intended to, as he did defraud not a private party but the government is aggravating.30 Second, when respondent convinced complainants to execute another document, a simulated Deed of Absolute Sale wherein they made it appear that complainants reconveyed the Melencio property to his mother, he committed dishonesty.31 Third, when on May 2, 1990 respondent inveigled his own clients, the Chua spouses, into turning over to him the owners copy of his mothers title upon the misrepresentation that he would, in four months, have a deed of sale executed by his mother in favor of complainants, he likewise committed dishonesty. That the signature of Felicisima M. Melencio in the 1985 document 32 and that in the 1979 document33 are markedly different is in fact is a badge of falsification of either the 1979 or the 1985 document or even both. A propos is this Courts following pronouncement in Nakpil v. Valdez34 As a rule, a lawyer is not barred from dealing with his client but the business transaction must be characterized with utmost honesty and good faith. The measure of good faith wh ich an attorney is required toexercise in his dealings with his client is a much higher standard that is required in busin ess dealings where the parties trade at arms length. Business transactions between an attorney and his client are disfavored and discouraged by the policy of the law. Hence, courts carefully watch these transactions to assure that

Amount P 805,299.54 100,000.00 77,826.10

Date of Issue 12-19-85 01-14-86 01-14-86;

2) Affidavit dated February 18, 1986 of respondent acknowledging a debt of P400,000.00 to complainant Ana Alvaran Chua and promising to pay interest thereon within 2 years to commence upon the signing thereof [February 16, 1998] and, in the event no partial or full payment of the principal is made within 2 years, Ana Alvaran Chua is under no obligation to pay any lease rentals over the lot situated in Burgos Avenue, Cabanatuan City where the Oceanic Hardware Bldg. is erected; 3) Deed of Absolute Sale dated January 19, 1985[18] and 4) Deed of Absolute Sale dated July 9, 1979,[19] both executed by Felicisima M. Melencio in favor of complainant; 5) TCT No. T48114[20] issued by the Cabanatuan City in the name of complainants on January 21, 1986; 6) Affidavit of Juanito C. Tecson[21] dated January 20, 1986 charging complainants et al. for Falsification of Public Documents; 7) Deed of Absolute Sale dated April 1, 1986 executed by complainants in favor of Mrs. Mesina;[22] and 8) TCT No. T48383issued on April 4, 1986 in the name of Felicisima M. Melencio; [23] and 9) Complaint of spouses Chua Yap An and Ana Alvaran Chua and Marcelina Hsia, for Declaration of Nullity of Deed of Sale and Reconveyance of Real Property against respondent and his two siblings.[24]

no advantage is taken by a lawyer over his client. This rule is founded on public policy for, by virtue of his office, an attorney is in an easy position to take advantage of the credulity and ignorance of his client. Thus, no presumption of innocence or improbability of wrongdoing is considered in an attorneys fa vor.35 (Underscoring supplied) Respondent having welched on his promise to cause the reconveyance of the Melencio property to complainants, consideration of whether he should be ordered to honor such promise should be taken up in the civil case filed for the purpose, the issue there being one of ownership while that in the case at bar is moral fitness. 37 In fine, respondent violated his oath of office and, more specifically, the following canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility: CANON 1. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND 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 shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. CANON 15. A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS. Rule 15.07. - A lawyer shall impress upon his client compliance with the laws and the principles of fairness. CANON 17. A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM. WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. SIMEON M. MESINA, JR. is, for gross misconduct, hereby DISBARRED. Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Bar Confidant. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ.,concur. Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., on leave.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC July 30, 1979 PETITION FOR AUTHORITY TO CONTINUE USE OF THE FIRM NAME "SYCIP, SALAZAR, FELICIANO, HERNANDEZ & CASTILLO." LUCIANO E. SALAZAR, FLORENTINO P. FELICIANO, BENILDO G. HERNANDEZ. GREGORIO R. CASTILLO. ALBERTO P. SAN JUAN, JUAN C. REYES. JR., ANDRES G. GATMAITAN, JUSTINO H. CACANINDIN, NOEL A. LAMAN, ETHELWOLDO E. FERNANDEZ, ANGELITO C. IMPERIO, EDUARDO R. CENIZA, TRISTAN A. CATINDIG, ANCHETA K. TAN, and ALICE V. PESIGAN, petitioners. IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR AUTHORITY TO CONTINUE USE OF THE FIRM NAME "OZAETA, ROMULO, DE LEON, MABANTA & REYES." RICARDO J. ROMULO, BENJAMIN M. DE LEON, ROMAN MABANTA, JR., JOSE MA, REYES, JESUS S. J. SAYOC, EDUARDO DE LOS ANGELES, and JOSE F. BUENAVENTURA, petitioners. RESOLUTION MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:+.wph!1 Two separate Petitions were filed before this Court 1) by the surviving partners of Atty. Alexander Sycip, who died on May 5, 1975, and 2) by the surviving partners of Atty. Herminio Ozaeta, who died on February 14, 1976, praying that they be allowed to continue using, in the names of their firms, the names of partners who had passed away. In the Court's Resolution of September 2, 1976, both Petitions were ordered consolidated. Petitioners base their petitions on the following arguments: 1. Under the law, a partnership is not prohibited from continuing its business under a firm name which includes the name of a deceased partner; in fact, Article 1840 of the Civil Code explicitly sanctions the practice when it provides in the last paragraph that: t.hqw The use by the person or partnership continuing the business of the partnership name, or the name of a deceased partner as part thereof, shall not of itself make the individual property of the deceased partner liable for any debts contracted by such person or partnership. 1 2. In regulating other professions, such as accountancy and engineering, the legislature has authorized the adoption of firm names without any restriction as to the use, in such firm name, of the name of a deceased partner; 2 the legislative authorization given to those engaged in the practice of accountancy a profession requiring the same degree of trust and confidence in respect of clients as that implicit in the relationship of attorney and client to acquire and use a trade name, strongly indicates that there is no fundamental policy that is offended by the continued

use by a firm of professionals of a firm name which includes the name of a deceased partner, at least where such firm name has acquired the characteristics of a "trade name." 3 3. The Canons of Professional Ethics are not transgressed by the continued use of the name of a deceased partner in the firm name of a law partnership because Canon 33 of the Canons of Professional Ethics adopted by the American Bar Association declares that: t.hqw ... The continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner when permissible by local custom, is not unethical but care should be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use. ... 4 4. There is no possibility of imposition or deception because the deaths of their respective deceased partners were well-publicized in all newspapers of general circulation for several days; the stationeries now being used by them carry new letterheads indicating the years when their respective deceased partners were connected with the firm; petitioners will notify all leading national and international law directories of the fact of their respective deceased partners' deaths. 5 5. No local custom prohibits the continued use of a deceased partner's name in a professional firm's name; 6 there is no custom or usage in the Philippines, or at least in the Greater Manila Area, which recognizes that the name of a law firm necessarily Identifies the individual members of the firm. 7 6. The continued use of a deceased partner's name in the firm name of law partnerships has been consistently allowed by U.S. Courts and is an accepted practice in the legal profession of most countries in the world. 8 The question involved in these Petitions first came under consideration by this Court in 1953 when a law firm in Cebu (the Deen case) continued its practice of including in its firm name that of a deceased partner, C.D. Johnston. The matter was resolved with this Court advising the firm to desist from including in their firm designation the name of C. D. Johnston, who has long been dead." The same issue was raised before this Court in 1958 as an incident in G. R. No. L-11964, entitled Register of Deeds of Manila vs. China Banking Corporation. The law firm of Perkins & Ponce Enrile moved to intervene as amicus curiae. Before acting thereon, the Court, in a Resolution of April 15, 1957, stated that it "would like to be informed why the name of Perkins is still being used although Atty. E. A. Perkins is already dead." In a Manifestation dated May 21, 1957, the law firm of Perkins and Ponce Enrile, raising substantially the same arguments as those now being raised by petitioners, prayed that the continued use of the firm name "Perkins & Ponce Enrile" be held proper. On June 16, 1958, this Court resolved: t.hqw After carefully considering the reasons given by Attorneys Alfonso Ponce Enrile and Associates for their continued use of the name of the deceased E. G. Perkins, the Court found no reason to depart from the policy it adopted in June 1953 when it required Attorneys Alfred P. Deen and Eddy A. Deen of Cebu City to desist from including in their firm designation, the name of C. D. Johnston, deceased. The Court believes that, in view of the personal and confidential nature of the relations between attorney and client, and the high standards demanded in the canons of professional ethics, no practice should be allowed which even in a

remote degree could give rise to the possibility of deception. Said attorneys are accordingly advised to drop the name "PERKINS" from their firm name. Petitioners herein now seek a re-examination of the policy thus far enunciated by the Court. The Court finds no sufficient reason to depart from the rulings thus laid down. A. Inasmuch as "Sycip, Salazar, Feliciano, Hernandez and Castillo" and "Ozaeta, Romulo, De Leon, Mabanta and Reyes" are partnerships, the use in their partnership names of the names of deceased partners will run counter to Article 1815 of the Civil Code which provides: t.hqw Art. 1815. Every partnership shall operate under a firm name, which may or may not include the name of one or more of the partners. Those who, not being members of the partnership, include their names in the firm name, shall be subject to the liability, of a partner. It is clearly tacit in the above provision that names in a firm name of a partnership must either be those of living partners and. in the case of non-partners, should be living persons who can be subjected to liability. In fact, Article 1825 of the Civil Code prohibits a third person from including his name in the firm name under pain of assuming the liability of a partner. The heirs of a deceased partner in a law firm cannot be held liable as the old members to the creditors of a firm particularly where they are non-lawyers. Thus, Canon 34 of the Canons of Professional Ethics "prohibits an agreement for the payment to the widow and heirs of a deceased lawyer of a percentage, either gross or net, of the fees received from the future business of the deceased lawyer's clients, both because the recipients of such division are not lawyers and because such payments will not represent service or responsibility on the part of the recipient. " Accordingly, neither the widow nor the heirs can be held liable for transactions entered into after the death of their lawyer-predecessor. There being no benefits accruing, there ran be no corresponding liability. Prescinding the law, there could be practical objections to allowing the use by law firms of the names of deceased partners. The public relations value of the use of an old firm name can tend to create undue advantages and disadvantages in the practice of the profession. An able lawyer without connections will have to make a name for himself starting from scratch. Another able lawyer, who can join an old firm, can initially ride on that old firm's reputation established by deceased partners. B. In regards to the last paragraph of Article 1840 of the Civil Code cited by petitioners, supra, the first factor to consider is that it is within Chapter 3 of Title IX of the Code entitled "Dissolution and Winding Up." The Article primarily deals with the exemption from liability in cases of a dissolved partnership, of the individual property of the deceased partner for debts contracted by the person or partnership which continues the business using the partnership name or the name of the deceased partner as part thereof. What the law contemplates therein is a hold-over situation preparatory to formal reorganization. Secondly, Article 1840 treats more of a commercial partnership with a good will to protect rather than of aprofessional partnership, with no saleable good will but whose reputation depends on the personal qualifications of its individual members. Thus, it has been held that a saleable goodwill can exist only in a commercial partnership and cannot arise in a professional partnership consisting of lawyers. 9t.hqw

As a general rule, upon the dissolution of a commercial partnership the succeeding partners or parties have the right to carry on the business under the old name, in the absence of a stipulation forbidding it, (s)ince the name of a commercial partnership is a partnership asset inseparable from the good will of the firm. ... (60 Am Jur 2d, s 204, p. 115) (Emphasis supplied) On the other hand, t.hqw ... a professional partnership the reputation of which depends or; the individual skill of the members, such as partnerships of attorneys or physicians, has no good win to be distributed as a firm asset on its dissolution, however intrinsically valuable such skill and reputation may be, especially where there is no provision in the partnership agreement relating to good will as an asset. ... (ibid, s 203, p. 115) (Emphasis supplied) C. A partnership for the practice of law cannot be likened to partnerships formed by other professionals or for business. For one thing, the law on accountancy specifically allows the use of a trade name in connection with the practice of accountancy. 10 t.hqw A partnership for the practice of law is not a legal entity. It is a mere relationship or association for a particular purpose. ... It is not a partnership formed for the purpose of carrying on trade or business or of holding property." 11 Thus, it has been stated that "the use of a nom de plume, assumed or trade name in law practice is improper. 12 The usual reason given for different standards of conduct being applicable to the practice of law from those pertaining to business is that the law is a profession. Dean Pound, in his recently published contribution to the Survey of the Legal Profession, ( The Lawyer from Antiquity to Modern Times, p. 5) defines a profession as "a group of men pursuing a learned art as a common calling in the spirit of public service, no less a public service because it may incidentally be a means of livelihood." xxx xxx xxx Primary characteristics which distinguish the legal profession from business are: 1. A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a byproduct, and in which one may attain the highest eminence without making much money. 2. A relation as an "officer of court" to the administration of justice involving thorough sincerity, integrity, and reliability. 3. A relation to clients in the highest degree fiduciary.

4. A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness, and unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising and encroachment on their practice, or dealing directly with their clients. 13 "The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is in the nature of a privilege or franchise. 14 It is limited to persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. 15 The right does not only presuppose in its possessor integrity, legal standing and attainment, but also the exercise of a special privilege, highly personal and partaking of the nature of a public trust." 16 D. Petitioners cited Canon 33 of the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association" in support of their petitions. It is true that Canon 33 does not consider as unethical the continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner in the firm name of a law partnership when such a practice is permissible by local custom but the Canon warns that care should be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use. It must be conceded that in the Philippines, no local custom permits or allows the continued use of a deceased or former partner's name in the firm names of law partnerships. Firm names, under our custom, Id entify the more active and/or more senior members or partners of the law firm. A glimpse at the history of the firms of petitioners and of other law firms in this country would show how their firm names have evolved and changed from time to time as the composition of the partnership changed. t.hqw The continued use of a firm name after the death of one or more of the partners designated by it is proper only where sustained by local custom and not where by custom this purports to Identify the active members. ... There would seem to be a question, under the working of the Canon, as to the propriety of adding the name of a new partner and at the same time retaining that of a deceased partner who was never a partner with the new one. (H.S. Drinker, op. cit., supra, at pp. 207208) (Emphasis supplied). The possibility of deception upon the public, real or consequential, where the name of a deceased partner continues to be used cannot be ruled out. A person in search of legal counsel might be guided by the familiar ring of a distinguished name appearing in a firm title. E. Petitioners argue that U.S. Courts have consistently allowed the continued use of a deceased partner's name in the firm name of law partnerships. But that is so because it is sanctioned by custom. In the case of Mendelsohn v. Equitable Life Assurance Society (33 N.Y.S. 2d 733) which petitioners Salazar, et al. quoted in their memorandum, the New York Supreme Court sustained the use of the firm name Alexander & Green even if none of the present ten partners of the firm bears either name because the practice was sanctioned by custom and did not offend any statutory provision or legislative policy and was adopted by agreement of the parties. The Court stated therein: t.hqw The practice sought to be proscribed has the sanction of custom and offends no statutory provision or legislative policy. Canon 33 of the Canons of Professional Ethics of both the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association provides in part as follows: "The continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner, when permissible by local custom is not unethical, but care should be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use." There is no question as to local custom. Many firms in the city use the names of deceased members with the approval of other attorneys, bar associations and the courts. The Appellate Division of the First Department has considered the matter and reached The conclusion that such practice should not be prohibited. (Emphasis supplied) xxx xxx xxx

Neither the Partnership Law nor the Penal Law prohibits the practice in question. The use of the firm name herein is also sustainable by reason of agreement between the partners. 18 Not so in this jurisdiction where there is no local custom that sanctions the practice. Custom has been defined as a rule of conduct formed by repetition of acts, uniformly observed (practiced) as a social rule, legally binding and obligatory. 19 Courts take no judicial notice of custom. A custom must be proved as a fact, according to the rules of evidence. 20 A local custom as a source of right cannot be considered by a court of justice unless such custom is properly established by competent evidence like any other fact. 21 We find such proof of the existence of a local custom, and of the elements requisite to constitute the same, wanting herein. Merely because something is done as a matter of practice does not mean that Courts can rely on the same for purposes of adjudication as a juridical custom. Juridical custom must be differentiated from social custom. The former can supplement statutory law or be applied in the absence of such statute. Not so with the latter. Moreover, judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws form part of the legal system. 22 When the Supreme Court in the Deen and Perkins cases issued its Resolutions directing lawyers to desist from including the names of deceased partners in their firm designation, it laid down a legal rule against which no custom or practice to the contrary, even if proven, can prevail. This is not to speak of our civil law which clearly ordains that a partnership is dissolved by the death of any partner. 23 Custom which are contrary to law, public order or public policy shall not be countenanced. 24 The practice of law is intimately and peculiarly related to the administration of justice and should not be considered like an ordinary "money-making trade." t.hqw ... It is of the essence of a profession that it is practiced in a spirit of public service. A trade ... aims primarily at personal gain; a profession at the exercise of powers beneficial to mankind. If, as in the era of wide free opportunity, we think of free competitive self assertion as the highest good, lawyer and grocer and farmer may seem to be freely competing with their fellows in their calling in order each to acquire as much of the world's good as he may within the allowed him by law. But the member of a profession does not regard himself as in competition with his professional brethren. He is not bartering his services as is the artisan nor exchanging the products of his skill and learning as the farmer sells wheat or corn. There should be no such thing as a lawyers' or physicians' strike. The best service of the professional man is often rendered for no equivalent or for a trifling equivalent and it is his pride to do what he does in a way worthy of his profession even if done with no expectation of reward, This spirit of public service in which the profession of law is and ought to be exercised is a prerequisite of sound administration of justice according to law. The other two elements of a profession, namely, organization and pursuit of a learned art have their justification in that they secure and maintain that spirit. 25 In fine, petitioners' desire to preserve the Identity of their firms in the eyes of the public must bow to legal and ethical impediment. ACCORDINGLY, the petitions filed herein are denied and petitioners advised to drop the names "SYCIP" and "OZAETA" from their respective firm names. Those names may, however, be included in the listing of individuals who have been partners in their firms indicating the years during which they served as such. SO ORDERED. Teehankee, Concepcion, Jr., Santos, Fernandez, Guerrero and De Castro, JJ., concur Fernando, C.J. and Abad Santos, J., took no part.

an Attorney in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce through The Legal Clinic beginning Monday to Friday during office hours. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC THE 7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave., LEGAL Ermita, Manila nr. US Embassy CLINIC, INC. 1 Tel. 521-7232; 521-7251; 522-2041; 521-0767 It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements above reproduced are champterous, unethical, demeaning of the law profession, and destructive of the confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar and that, as a member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and offended by the said advertisements, hence the reliefs sought in his petition as hereinbefore quoted. In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of publication of said advertisement at its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in the practice of law but in the rendering of "legal support services" through paralegals with the use of modern computers and electronic machines. Respondent further argues that assuming that the services advertised are legal services, the act of advertising these services should be allowed supposedly in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs. State Bar of Arizona, 2 reportedly decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 7, 1977. Considering the critical implications on the legal profession of the issues raised herein, we required the (1) Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), (2) Philippine Bar Association (PBA), (3) Philippine Lawyers' Association (PLA), (4) U.P. Womens Lawyers' Circle (WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers Association of the Philippines (WLAP), and (6) Federacion International de Abogadas (FIDA) to submit their respective position papers on the controversy and, thereafter, their memoranda. 3 The said bar associations readily responded and extended their valuable services and cooperation of which this Court takes note with appreciation and gratitude. The main issues posed for resolution before the Court are whether or not the services offered by respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as advertised by it constitutes practice of law and, in either case, whether the same can properly be the subject of the advertisements herein complained of. Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the merits of this case, we deem it proper and enlightening to present hereunder excerpts from the respective position papers adopted by the aforementioned bar associations and the memoranda submitted by them on the issues involved in this bar matter. 1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines: Annex B xxx xxx xxx GUAM DIVORCE. DON PARKINSON Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which respondent endeavored to distinguish the two terms, i.e., "legal support services" vis-a-vis "legal services", common sense would readily dictate that the same are essentially without substantial distinction. For who could deny that document search, evidence gathering, assistance to layman in need of basic institutional services from government or non-government agencies Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Problems, Visa Ext. Quota/Non-quota Res. & Special Retiree's Visa. Declaration of Absence. Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees. Adoption. Investment in the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call Marivic.

Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993 MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner, vs. THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent. R E SO L U T I O N REGALADO, J.: Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to cease and desist from issuing advertisements similar to or of the same tenor as that of annexes "A" and "B" (of said petition) and to perpetually prohibit persons or entities from making advertisements pertaining to the exercise of the law profession other than those allowed by law." The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner are as follows: Annex A SECRET P560.00 for Info on ANNULMENT. VISA. MARRIAGE? marriage. ABSENCE.



THE Please call: 521-0767 LEGAL 5217232, 5222041 CLINIC, INC. 8:30 am 6:00 pm 7Flr. Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Mla.

like birth, marriage, property, or business registration, obtaining documents like clearance, passports, local or foreign visas, constitutes practice of law? xxx xxx xxx The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) does not wish to make issue with respondent's foreign citations. Suffice it to state that the IBP has made its position manifest, to wit, that it strongly opposes the view espoused by respondent (to the effect that today it is alright to advertise one's legal services). The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain terms its opposition to respondent's act of establishing a "legal clinic" and of concomitantly advertising the same through newspaper publications. The IBP would therefore invoke the administrative supervision of this Honorable Court to perpetually restrain respondent from undertaking highly unethical activities in the field of law practice as aforedescribed. 4 xxx xxx xxx A. The use of the name "The Legal Clinic, Inc." gives the impression that respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it renders legal services. While the respondent repeatedly denies that it offers legal services to the public, the advertisements in question give the impression that respondent is offering legal services. The Petition in fact simply assumes this to be so, as earlier mentioned, apparently because this (is) the effect that the advertisements have on the reading public. The impression created by the advertisements in question can be traced, first of all, to the very name being used by respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is respectfully submitted connotes the rendering of legal services for legal problems, just like a medical clinic connotes medical services for medical problems. More importantly, the term "Legal Clinic" connotes lawyers, as the term medical clinic connotes doctors. Furthermore, the respondent's name, as published in the advertisements subject of the present case, appears with (the) scale(s) of justice, which all the more reinforces the impression that it is being operated by members of the bar and that it offers legal services. In addition, the advertisements in question appear with a picture and name of a person being represented as a lawyer from Guam, and this practically removes whatever doubt may still remain as to the nature of the service or services being offered. It thus becomes irrelevant whether respondent is merely offering "legal support services" as claimed by it, or whether it offers legal services as any lawyer actively engaged in law practice does. And it becomes unnecessary to make a distinction between "legal services" and "legal support services," as the respondent would have it. The advertisements in question leave no room for doubt in the minds of the reading public that legal services are being offered by lawyers, whether true or not.

B. The advertisements in question are meant to induce the performance of acts contrary to law, morals, public order and public policy. It may be conceded that, as the respondent claims, the advertisements in question are only meant to inform the general public of the services being offered by it. Said advertisements, however, emphasize to Guam divorce, and any law student ought to know that under the Family Code, there is only one instance when a foreign divorce is recognized, and that is: Article 26. . . . Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine Law. It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family Code (defines) a marriage as follows: Article 1. Marriage is special contract of permanent union between a man and woman entered into accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relation during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code. By simply reading the questioned advertisements, it is obvious that the message being conveyed is that Filipinos can avoid the legal consequences of a marriage celebrated in accordance with our law, by simply going to Guam for a divorce. This is not only misleading, but encourages, or serves to induce, violation of Philippine law. At the very least, this can be considered "the dark side" of legal practice, where certain defects in Philippine laws are exploited for the sake of profit. At worst, this is outright malpractice. 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. In addition, it may also be relevant to point out that advertisements such as that shown in Annex "A" of the Petition, which contains a cartoon of a motor vehicle with the words "Just Married" on its bumper and seems to address those planning a "secret marriage," if not suggesting a "secret marriage," makes light of the "special contract of permanent union," the inviolable social institution," which is how the Family Code describes marriage, obviously to emphasize its sanctity and inviolability. Worse, this particular advertisement appears to encourage marriages celebrated in secrecy, which is suggestive of immoral publication of applications for a marriage license. If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be reviewed, it can readily be concluded that the above impressions one may gather from the advertisements in question are accurate. The Sharon Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion example alone confirms what the advertisements suggest. Here it can be seen that criminal acts are being encouraged or committed (a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las Vegas) with impunity simply because the jurisdiction of Philippine courts does not extend to the place where the crime is committed.

Even if it be assumed, arguendo, (that) the "legal support services" respondent offers do not constitute legal services as commonly understood, the advertisements in question give the impression that respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it offers legal services, as earlier discussed. Thus, the only logical consequence is that, in the eyes of an ordinary newspaper reader, members of the bar themselves are encouraging or inducing the performance of acts which are contrary to law, morals, good customs and the public good, thereby destroying and demeaning the integrity of the Bar. xxx xxx xxx It is respectfully submitted that respondent should be enjoined from causing the publication of the advertisements in question, or any other advertisements similar thereto. It is also submitted that respondent should be prohibited from further performing or offering some of the services it presently offers, or, at the very least, from offering such services to the public in general. The IBP is aware of the fact that providing computerized legal research, electronic data gathering, storage and retrieval, standardized legal forms, investigators for gathering of evidence, and like services will greatly benefit the legal profession and should not be stifled but instead encouraged. However, when the conduct of such business by non-members of the Bar encroaches upon the practice of law, there can be no choice but to prohibit such business. Admittedly, many of the services involved in the case at bar can be better performed by specialists in other fields, such as computer experts, who by reason of their having devoted time and effort exclusively to such field cannot fulfill the exacting requirements for admission to the Bar. To prohibit them from "encroaching" upon the legal profession will deny the profession of the great benefits and advantages of modern technology. Indeed, a lawyer using a computer will be doing better than a lawyer using a typewriter, even if both are (equal) in skill. Both the Bench and the Bar, however, should be careful not to allow or tolerate the illegal practice of law in any form, not only for the protection of members of the Bar but also, and more importantly, for the protection of the public. Technological development in the profession may be encouraged without tolerating, but instead ensuring prevention of illegal practice. There might be nothing objectionable if respondent is allowed to perform all of its services, but only if such services are made available exclusively to members of the Bench and Bar. Respondent would then be offering technical assistance, not legal services. Alternatively, the more difficult task of carefully distinguishing between which service may be offered to the public in general and which should be made available exclusively to members of the Bar may be undertaken. This, however, may require further proceedings because of the factual considerations involved. It must be emphasized, however, that some of respondent's services ought to be prohibited outright, such as acts which tend to suggest or induce celebration abroad of marriages which are bigamous or otherwise illegal and void under Philippine law. While respondent may not be prohibited from simply disseminating information regarding such matters, it must be required to include, in the information given, a disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law, that certain course of action may be illegal under Philippine law, that it is not authorized or capable of rendering a legal opinion, that a lawyer should be consulted before deciding on which course of action to take, and that it cannot recommend any particular lawyer without subjecting itself to possible sanctions for illegal practice of law.

If respondent is allowed to advertise, advertising should be directed exclusively at members of the Bar, with a clear and unmistakable disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law or perform legal services. The benefits of being assisted by paralegals cannot be ignored. But nobody should be allowed to represent himself as a "paralegal" for profit, without such term being clearly defined by rule or regulation, and without any adequate and effective means of regulating his activities. Also, law practice in a corporate form may prove to be advantageous to the legal profession, but before allowance of such practice may be considered, the corporation's Article of Incorporation and By-laws must conform to each and every provision of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Rules of Court. 5 2. Philippine Bar Association: xxx xxx xxx. Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged in the practice of law but engaged in giving legal support services to lawyers and laymen, through experienced paralegals, with the use of modern computers and electronic machines" (pars. 2 and 3, Comment). This is absurd. Unquestionably, respondent's acts of holding out itself to the public under the trade name "The Legal Clinic, Inc.," and soliciting employment for its enumerated services fall within the realm of a practice which thus yields itself to the regulatory powers of the Supreme Court. For respondent to say that it is merely engaged in paralegal work is to stretch credulity. Respondent's own commercial advertisement which announces a certainAtty. Don Parkinson to be handling the fields of law belies its pretense. From all indications, respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." is offering and rendering legal services through its reserve of lawyers. It has been held that the practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court, but includes drawing of deeds, incorporation, rendering opinions, and advising clients as to their legal right and then take them to an attorney and ask the latter to look after their case in court See Martin, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1984 ed., p. 39). It is apt to recall that only natural persons can engage in the practice of law, and such limitation cannot be evaded by a corporation employing competent lawyers to practice for it. Obviously, this is the scheme or device by which respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself to the public and solicits employment of its legal services. It is an odious vehicle for deception, especially so when the public cannot ventilate any grievance for malpractice against the business conduit. Precisely, the limitation of practice of law to persons who have been duly admitted as members of the Bar (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court) is to subject the members to the discipline of the Supreme Court. Although respondent uses its business name, the persons and the lawyers who act for it are subject to court discipline. The practice of law is not a profession open to all who wish to engage in it nor can it be assigned to another (See 5 Am. Jur. 270). It is a personal right limited to persons who have qualified themselves under the law. It follows that not only respondent but also all the persons who are acting for respondent are the persons engaged in unethical law practice. 6 3. Philippine Lawyers' Association: The Philippine Lawyers' Association's position, in answer to the issues stated herein, are wit:

1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law; 2. Such practice is unauthorized; 3. The advertisements complained of are not only unethical, but also misleading and patently immoral; and 4. The Honorable Supreme Court has the power to supress and punish the Legal Clinic and its corporate officers for its unauthorized practice of law and for its unethical, misleading and immoral advertising. xxx xxx xxx Respondent posits that is it not engaged in the practice of law. It claims that it merely renders "legal support services" to answers, litigants and the general public as enunciated in the Primary Purpose Clause of its Article(s) of Incorporation. (See pages 2 to 5 of Respondent's Comment). But its advertised services, as enumerated above, clearly and convincingly show that it is indeed engaged in law practice, albeit outside of court. As advertised, it offers the general public its advisory services on Persons and Family Relations Law, particularly regarding foreign divorces, annulment of marriages, secret marriages, absence and adoption; Immigration Laws, particularly on visa related problems, immigration problems; the Investments Law of the Philippines and such other related laws. Its advertised services unmistakably require the application of the aforesaid law, the legal principles and procedures related thereto, the legal advices based thereon and which activities call for legal training, knowledge and experience. Applying the test laid down by the Court in the aforecited Agrava Case, the activities of respondent fall squarely and are embraced in what lawyers and laymen equally term as "the practice of law." 7 4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle: In resolving, the issues before this Honorable Court, paramount consideration should be given to the protection of the general public from the danger of being exploited by unqualified persons or entities who may be engaged in the practice of law. At present, becoming a lawyer requires one to take a rigorous four-year course of study on top of a fouryear bachelor of arts or sciences course and then to take and pass the bar examinations. Only then, is a lawyer qualified to practice law. While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in many jurisdiction as an aid to the administration of justice, there are in those jurisdictions, courses of study and/or standards which would qualify these paralegals to deal with the general public as such. While it may now be the opportune time to establish these courses of study and/or standards, the fact remains that at present, these do not exist in the Philippines. In the

meantime, this Honorable Court may decide to make measures to protect the general public from being exploited by those who may be dealing with the general public in the guise of being "paralegals" without being qualified to do so. In the same manner, the general public should also be protected from the dangers which may be brought about by advertising of legal services. While it appears that lawyers are prohibited under the present Code of Professional Responsibility from advertising, it appears in the instant case that legal services are being advertised not by lawyers but by an entity staffed by "paralegals." Clearly, measures should be taken to protect the general public from falling prey to those who advertise legal services without being qualified to offer such services. 8 A perusal of the questioned advertisements of Respondent, however, seems to give the impression that information regarding validity of marriages, divorce, annulment of marriage, immigration, visa extensions, declaration of absence, adoption and foreign investment, which are in essence, legal matters , will be given to them if they avail of its services. The Respondent's name The Legal Clinic, Inc. does not help matters. It gives the impression again that Respondent will or can cure the legal problems brought to them. Assuming that Respondent is, as claimed, staffed purely by paralegals, it also gives the misleading impression that there are lawyers involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc., as there are doctors in any medical clinic, when only "paralegals" are involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc. Respondent's allegations are further belied by the very admissions of its President and majority stockholder, Atty. Nogales, who gave an insight on the structure and main purpose of Respondent corporation in the aforementioned "Starweek" article." 9 5. Women Lawyer's Association of the Philippines: Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are clearly advertisements to solicit cases for the purpose of gain which, as provided for under the above cited law, (are) illegal and against the Code of Professional Responsibility of lawyers in this country. Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in that it is an advertisement to solicit cases, but it is illegal in that in bold letters it announces that the Legal Clinic, Inc., could work out/cause the celebration of a secret marriage which is not only illegal but immoral in this country. While it is advertised that one has to go to said agency and pay P560 for a valid marriage it is certainly fooling the public for valid marriages in the Philippines are solemnized only by officers authorized to do so under the law. And to employ an agency for said purpose of contracting marriage is not necessary. No amount of reasoning that in the USA, Canada and other countries the trend is towards allowing lawyers to advertise their special skills to enable people to obtain from qualified practitioners legal services for their particular needs can justify the use of advertisements such as are the subject matter of the petition, for one (cannot) justify an illegal act even by whatever merit the illegal act may serve. The law has yet to be amended so that such act could become justifiable. We submit further that these advertisements that seem to project that secret marriages and divorce are possible in this country for a fee, when in fact it is not so, are highly reprehensible.

It would encourage people to consult this clinic about how they could go about having a secret marriage here, when it cannot nor should ever be attempted, and seek advice on divorce, where in this country there is none, except under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws in the Philippines. It is also against good morals and is deceitful because it falsely represents to the public to be able to do that which by our laws cannot be done (and) by our Code of Morals should not be done. In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the Supreme Court held that solicitation for clients by an attorney by circulars of advertisements, is unprofessional, and offenses of this character justify permanent elimination from the Bar. 10 6. Federacion Internacional de Abogados: xxx xxx xxx 1.7 That entities admittedly not engaged in the practice of law, such as management consultancy firms or travel agencies, whether run by lawyers or not, perform the services rendered by Respondent does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that Respondent is not unlawfully practicing law. In the same vein, however, the fact that the business of respondent (assuming it can be engaged in independently of the practice of law) involves knowledge of the law does not necessarily make respondent guilty of unlawful practice of law. . . . . Of necessity, no one . . . . acting as a consultant can render effective service unless he is familiar with such statutes and regulations. He must be careful not to suggest a course of conduct which the law forbids. It seems . . . .clear that (the consultant's) knowledge of the law, and his use of that knowledge as a factor in determining what measures he shall recommend, do not constitute the practice of law . . . . It is not only presumed that all men know the law, but it is a fact that most men have considerable acquaintance with broad features of the law . . . . Our knowledge of the law accurate or inaccurate moulds our conduct not only when we are acting for ourselves, but when we are serving others. Bankers, liquor dealers and laymen generally possess rather precise knowledge of the laws touching their particular business or profession. A good example is the architect, who must be familiar with zoning, building and fire prevention codes, factory and tenement house statutes, and who draws plans and specification in harmony with the law. This is not practicing law. But suppose the architect, asked by his client to omit a fire tower, replies that it is required by the statute. Or the industrial relations expert cites, in support of some measure that he recommends, a decision of the National Labor Relations Board. Are they practicing law? In my opinion, they are not, provided no separate fee is charged for the legal advice or information, and the legal question is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal problem. It is largely a matter of degree and of custom. If it were usual for one intending to erect a building on his land to engage a lawyer to advise him and the architect in respect to the building code and the like, then an architect who performed this function would probably be considered to be trespassing on territory reserved for licensed attorneys. Likewise, if the industrial relations field had been pre-empted by lawyers, or custom placed a lawyer always at the elbow of the lay personnel man. But this is not the case. The most important body of the industrial relations

experts are the officers and business agents of the labor unions and few of them are lawyers. Among the larger corporate employers, it has been the practice for some years to delegate special responsibility in employee matters to a management group chosen for their practical knowledge and skill in such matter, and without regard to legal thinking or lack of it. More recently, consultants like the defendants have the same service that the larger employers get from their own specialized staff. The handling of industrial relations is growing into a recognized profession for which appropriate courses are offered by our leading universities. The court should be very cautious about declaring [that] a widespread, well-established method of conducting business is unlawful, or that the considerable class of men who customarily perform a certain function have no right to do so, or that the technical education given by our schools cannot be used by the graduates in their business. In determining whether a man is practicing law, we should consider his work for any particular client or customer, as a whole. I can imagine defendant being engaged primarily to advise as to the law defining his client's obligations to his employees, to guide his client's obligations to his employees, to guide his client along the path charted by law. This, of course, would be the practice of the law. But such is not the fact in the case before me. Defendant's primarily efforts are along economic and psychological lines. The law only provides the frame within which he must work, just as the zoning code limits the kind of building the limits the kind of building the architect may plan. The incidental legal advice or information defendant may give, does not transform his activities into the practice of law. Let me add that if, even as a minor feature of his work, he performed services which are customarily reserved to members of the bar, he would be practicing law. For instance, if as part of a welfare program, he drew employees' wills. Another branch of defendant's work is the representations of the employer in the adjustment of grievances and in collective bargaining, with or without a mediator. This is not per se the practice of law. Anyone may use an agent for negotiations and may select an agent particularly skilled in the subject under discussion, and the person appointed is free to accept the employment whether or not he is a member of the bar. Here, however, there may be an exception where the business turns on a question of law. Most real estate sales are negotiated by brokers who are not lawyers. But if the value of the land depends on a disputed right-of-way and the principal role of the negotiator is to assess the probable outcome of the dispute and persuade the opposite party to the same opinion, then it may be that only a lawyer can accept the assignment. Or if a controversy between an employer and his men grows from differing interpretations of a contract, or of a statute, it is quite likely that defendant should not handle it. But I need not reach a definite conclusion here, since the situation is not presented by the proofs. Defendant also appears to represent the employer before administrative agencies of the federal government, especially before trial examiners of the National Labor Relations Board. An agency of the federal government, acting by virtue of an authority granted by the Congress, may regulate the representation of parties before such agency. The State of New Jersey is without power to interfere with such determination or to forbid representation before the agency by one whom the agency admits. The rules of the National Labor Relations Board give to a party the right to appear in person, or by counsel, or by other representative. Rules and Regulations, September 11th, 1946, S. 203.31. 'Counsel' here means a licensed attorney, and ther representative' one not a lawyer. In this phase of his work, defendant may lawfully do whatever the Labor Board allows, even arguing questions purely legal. (Auerbacher v. Wood, 53 A. 2d 800, cited in Statsky, Introduction to Paralegalism [1974], at pp. 154-156.). 1.8 From the foregoing, it can be said that a person engaged in a lawful calling (which may involve knowledge of the law) is not engaged in the practice of law provided that:

(a) The legal question is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal problem;. (b) The services performed are not customarily reserved to members of the bar; . (c) No separate fee is charged for the legal advice or information. All these must be considered in relation to the work for any particular client as a whole. 1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer and non-lawyer, the Code of Professional Responsibility succintly states the rule of conduct: Rule 15.08 A lawyer who is engaged in another profession or occupation concurrently with the practice of law shall make clear to his client whether he is acting as a lawyer or in another capacity. 1.10. In the present case. the Legal Clinic appears to render wedding services (See Annex "A" Petition). Services on routine, straightforward marriages, like securing a marriage license, and making arrangements with a priest or a judge, may not constitute practice of law. However, if the problem is as complicated as that described in "Rx for Legal Problems" on the Sharon Cuneta-Gabby ConcepcionRichard Gomez case, then what may be involved is actually the practice of law. If a non-lawyer, such as the Legal Clinic, renders such services then it is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. 1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears to give information on divorce, absence, annulment of marriage and visas (See Annexes "A" and "B" Petition). Purely giving informational materials may not constitute of law. The business is similar to that of a bookstore where the customer buys materials on the subject and determines on the subject and determines by himself what courses of action to take. It is not entirely improbable, however, that aside from purely giving information, the Legal Clinic's paralegals may apply the law to the particular problem of the client, and give legal advice. Such would constitute unauthorized practice of law. It cannot be claimed that the publication of a legal text which publication of a legal text which purports to say what the law is amount to legal practice. And the mere fact that the principles or rules stated in the text may be accepted by a particular reader as a solution to his problem does not affect this. . . . . Apparently it is urged that the conjoining of these two, that is, the text and the forms, with advice as to how the forms should be filled out, constitutes the unlawful practice of law. But that is the situation with many approved and accepted texts. Dacey's book is sold to the public at large. There is no personal contact or relationship with a particular individual. Nor does there exist that relation of confidence and trust so necessary to the status of attorney and client. THIS IS THE ESSENTIAL OF LEGAL PRACTICE THE REPRESENTATION AND ADVISING OF A PARTICULAR PERSON IN A PARTICULAR SITUATION. At most the book assumes to offer general advice on common problems, and does not purport to give personal advice on a specific problem peculiar to a designated or readily identified person. Similarly the defendant's publication does not purport to give personal advice on a specific problem peculiar to a designated or readily identified person in a particular situation in their publication and sale of the kits, such publication and sale did not constitutes the unlawful practice of law . . . . There being no legal impediment under the statute to the sale of the kit, there was no proper basis for the injunction against defendant maintaining an office for the purpose of selling to persons seeking a

divorce, separation, annulment or separation agreement any printed material or writings relating to matrimonial law or the prohibition in the memorandum of modification of the judgment against defendant having an interest in any publishing house publishing his manuscript on divorce and against his having any personal contact with any prospective purchaser. The record does fully support, however, the finding that for the change of $75 or $100 for the kit, the defendant gave legal advice in the course of personal contacts concerning particular problems which might arise in the preparation and presentation of the purchaser's asserted matrimonial cause of action or pursuit of other legal remedies and assistance in the preparation of necessary documents (The injunction therefore sought to) enjoin conduct constituting the practice of law, particularly with reference to the giving of advice and counsel by the defendant relating to specific problems of particular individuals in connection with a divorce, separation, annulment of separation agreement sought and should be affirmed. (State v. Winder, 348, NYS 2D 270 [1973], cited in Statsky, supra at p. 101.). 1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its services are "strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory. "It is not controverted, however, that if the services "involve giving legal advice or counselling," such would constitute practice of law (Comment, par. 6.2). It is in this light that FIDA submits that a factual inquiry may be necessary for the judicious disposition of this case. xxx xxx xxx 2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically objectionable in that it can give the impression (or perpetuate the wrong notion) that there is a secret marriage. With all the solemnities, formalities and other requisites of marriages (See Articles 2, et seq., Family Code), no Philippine marriage can be secret. 2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically objectionable. The second paragraph thereof (which is not necessarily related to the first paragraph) fails to state the limitation that only "paralegal services?" or "legal support services", and not legal services, are available." 11 A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase "practice of law" becomes exigent for the proper determination of the issues raised by the petition at bar. On this score, we note that the clause "practice of law" has long been the subject of judicial construction and interpretation. The courts have laid down general principles and doctrines explaining the meaning and scope of the term, some of which we now take into account. Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristic of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give advice or render any kind of service that involves legal knowledge or skill. 12 The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. It includes legal advice and counsel, and the preparation of legal instruments and contract by which legal rights are secured, although such matter may or may not be pending in a court. 13 In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law generally engages in three principal types of professional activity: legal advice and instructions to clients to inform them of their rights and obligations, preparation for clients of documents requiring knowledge of legal principles not possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for clients

before public tribunals which possess power and authority to determine rights of life, liberty, and property according to law, in order to assist in proper interpretation and enforcement of law. 14 When a person participates in the a trial and advertises himself as a lawyer, he is in the practice of law. 15 One who confers with clients, advises them as to their legal rights and then takes the business to an attorney and asks the latter to look after the case in court, is also practicing law. 16 Giving advice for compensation regarding the legal status and rights of another and the conduct with respect thereto constitutes a practice of law. 17 One who renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is, to that extent, practicing law. 18 In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, 19 after citing the doctrines in several cases, we laid down the test to determine whether certain acts constitute "practice of law," thus: Black defines "practice of law" as: The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of legal principles and technique to serve the interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law. The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases on court.(Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken , 129 Ohio St. 23, 193N. E. 650). A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he: . . . . for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person, firms, associations or corporations as to their right under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings, pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to settle controversies and there, in such representative capacity, performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of their clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S. W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852). This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers Association v. Agrava (105 Phil. 173, 176-177),stated: 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, conveying. 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 or 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. Jr. p. 262, 263). Practice of law under modern conditions consists in no small part of work performed outside of any court and having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a large variety of subjects and the preparation and execution of legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no direct connection with court proceedings, they are always subject to become involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn between that part of the work of the lawyer which involves appearance in court and that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments in his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these manifold customary functions be performed by persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and acting at all times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules o Court, Vol. 3 [1973 ed.], pp. 665666, citing In Re Opinion of the Justices [Mass], 194 N. E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 197 A. 139, 144). The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of activities in and out of court. Applying the aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, we agree with the perceptive findings and observations of the aforestated bar associations that the activities of respondent, as advertised, constitute "practice of law." The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal support services can neither be seriously considered nor sustained. Said proposition is belied by respondent's own description of the services it has been offering, to wit: Legal support services basically consists of giving ready information by trained paralegals to laymen and lawyers, which are strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory, through the extensive use of computers and modern information technology in the gathering, processing, storage, transmission and reproduction of information and communication, such as computerized legal research; encoding and reproduction of documents and pleadings prepared by laymen or lawyers; document search; evidence gathering; locating parties or witnesses to a case; fact finding investigations; and assistance to laymen in need of basic institutional services from government or non-government agencies, like birth, marriage, property, or business registrations; educational or employment records or certifications, obtaining documentation like clearances, passports, local or foreign visas; giving information about laws of other countries that they may find useful, like foreign divorce, marriage or adoption laws that they can avail of preparatory to emigration to the foreign country, and other matters that do not involve representation of clients in court; designing and installing computer systems, programs, or software for the efficient management of law offices, corporate legal departments, courts and other entities engaged in dispensing or administering legal services. 20 While some of the services being offered by respondent corporation merely involve mechanical and technical knowhow, such as the installation of computer systems and programs for the efficient management of law offices, or the computerization of research aids and materials, these will not suffice to justify an exception to the general rule.

What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives out legal information to laymen and lawyers. Its contention that such function is non-advisory and non-diagnostic is more apparent than real. In providing information, for example, about foreign laws on marriage, divorce and adoption, it strains the credulity of this Court that all the respondent corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy thereof to the client, and stop there as if it were merely a bookstore. With its attorneys and so called paralegals, it will necessarily have to explain to the client the intricacies of the law and advise him or her on the proper course of action to be taken as may be provided for by said law. That is what its advertisements represent and for the which services it will consequently charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely within the jurisprudential definition of "practice of law." Such a conclusion will not be altered by the fact that respondent corporation does not represent clients in court since law practice, as the weight of authority holds, is not limited merely giving legal advice, contract drafting and so forth. The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an article published in the January 13, 1991 issue of the Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of the Philippines Star, entitled "Rx for Legal Problems," where an insight into the structure, main purpose and operations of respondent corporation was given by its own "proprietor," Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales: This is the kind of business that is transacted everyday at The Legal Clinic, with offices on the seventh floor of the Victoria Building along U. N. Avenue in Manila. No matter what the client's problem, and even if it is as complicated as the Cuneta-Concepcion domestic situation, Atty. Nogales and his staff of lawyers, who, like doctors are "specialists" in various fields can take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in taxation and criminal law, medico-legal problems, labor, litigation, and family law. These specialist are backed up by a battery of paralegals, counsellors and attorneys. Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in 1984. Inspired by the trend in the medical field toward specialization, it caters to clients who cannot afford the services of the big law firms. The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in clients. "when they come, we start by analyzing the problem. That's what doctors do also. They ask you how you contracted what's bothering you, they take your temperature, they observe you for the symptoms and so on. That's how we operate, too. And once the problem has been categorized, then it's referred to one of our specialists. There are cases which do not, in medical terms, require surgery or follow-up treatment. These The Legal Clinic disposes of in a matter of minutes. "Things like preparing a simple deed of sale or an affidavit of loss can be taken care of by our staff or, if this were a hospital the residents or the interns. We can take care of these matters on a while you wait basis. Again, kung baga sa hospital, out-patient, hindi kailangang ma-confine. It's just like a common cold or diarrhea," explains Atty. Nogales. Those cases which requires more extensive "treatment" are dealt with accordingly. "If you had a rich relative who died and named you her sole heir, and you stand to inherit millions of pesos of property, we would refer you to a specialist in taxation. There would be real estate taxes and arrears which would need to be put in order, and your relative is even taxed by the state for the right to transfer her property, and only a specialist in taxation would be properly trained to deal with the problem. Now, if there were other heirs contesting your rich relatives will, then you

would need a litigator, who knows how to arrange the problem for presentation in court, and gather evidence to support the case. 21 That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to carry out its services is not controlling. What is important is that it is engaged in the practice of law by virtue of the nature of the services it renders which thereby brings it within the ambit of the statutory prohibitions against the advertisements which it has caused to be published and are now assailed in this proceeding. Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P. WILOCI, said reported facts sufficiently establish that the main purpose of respondent is to serve as a one-stop-shop of sorts for various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal services from simple documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings. Most of these services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather, are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of law. 22 It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services being offered by private respondent which constitute practice of law cannot be performed by paralegals. Only a person duly admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Court, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law. 23 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 lawyers 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. 24 The same rule is observed in the american jurisdiction wherefrom respondent would wish to draw support for his thesis. The doctrines there also stress that the practice of law is limited to those who meet the requirements for, and have been admitted to, the bar, and various statutes or rules specifically so provide. 25 The practice of law is not a lawful business except for members of the bar who have complied with all the conditions required by statute and the rules of court. Only those persons are allowed to practice law who, by reason of attainments previously acquired through education and study, have been recognized by the courts as possessing profound knowledge of legal science entitling them to advise, counsel with, protect, or defend the rights claims, or liabilities of their clients, with respect to the construction, interpretation, operation and effect of law. 26 The justification for excluding from the practice of law those not admitted to the bar is found, not in the protection of the bar from competition, but in the protection of the public from being advised and represented in legal matters by incompetent and unreliable persons over whom the judicial department can exercise little control. 27 We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's position that the concept in the United States of paralegals as an occupation separate from the law profession be adopted in this jurisdiction. Whatever may be its merits, respondent cannot but be aware that this should first be a matter for judicial rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral adoption as it has done. Paralegals in the United States are trained professionals. As admitted by respondent, there are schools and universities there which offer studies and degrees in paralegal education, while there are none in the Philippines.28 As the concept of the "paralegals" or "legal assistant" evolved in the United States, standards and guidelines also evolved to protect the general public. One of the major standards or guidelines was developed by the American Bar Association which set up Guidelines for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education Programs (1973). Legislation has

even been proposed to certify legal assistants. There are also associations of paralegals in the United States with their own code of professional ethics, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal Association. 29 In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and limited acceptance of what may be considered as paralegal service. As pointed out by FIDA, some persons not duly licensed to practice law are or have been allowed limited representation in behalf of another or to render legal services, but such allowable services are limited in scope and extent by the law, rules or regulations granting permission therefor. 30 Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial policy that, in the absence of constitutional or statutory authority, a person who has not been admitted as an attorney cannot practice law for the proper administration of justice cannot be hindered by the unwarranted intrusion of an unauthorized and unskilled person into the practice of law. 31 That policy should continue to be one of encouraging persons who are unsure of their legal rights and remedies to seek legal assistance only from persons licensed to practice law in the state. 32 Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts. 33 He is not supposed to use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. 34 Nor shall he pay or give something of value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to attract legal business. 35 Prior to the adoption of the code of Professional Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics had also warned that lawyers should not resort to indirect advertisements for professional employment, such as furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his photograph to be published in connection with causes in which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation. 36 The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of his profession. advertise his talents or skill as in a manner similar to a merchant advertising his goods. 37 The prescription against advertising of legal services or solicitation of legal business rests on the fundamental postulate that the that the practice of law is a profession. Thus, in the case of The Director of Religious Affairs. vs. Estanislao R. Bayot 38 an advertisement, similar to those of respondent which are involved in the present proceeding, 39 was held to constitute improper advertising or solicitation. The pertinent part of the decision therein reads: It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . . is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This

cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.). We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that the best advertising possible for a lawyer is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be earned as the outcome of character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a client as well as to the community has a way of publicizing itself and catching public attention. That publicity is a normal by-product of effective service which is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no artificial stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He easily sees the difference between a normal by-product of able service and the unwholesome result of propaganda. 40 Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are prohibited. The canons of the profession enumerate exceptions to the rule against advertising or solicitation and define the extent to which they may be undertaken. The exceptions are of two broad categories, namely, those which are expressly allowed and those which are necessarily implied from the restrictions. 41 The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canons, of brief biographical and informative data. "Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of the lawyer's name and the names of his professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation, degrees and other educational distinction; public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with their written consent, the names of clients regularly represented." 42 The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is published principally for other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a law list the conduct, management or contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower the dignity or standing of the profession. 43 The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with, address, telephone number and special branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed in a telephone directory but not under a designation of special branch of law. 44 Verily, taking into consideration the nature and contents of the advertisements for which respondent is being taken to task, which even includes a quotation of the fees charged by said respondent corporation for services rendered, we find and so hold that the same definitely do not and conclusively cannot fall under any of the above-mentioned exceptions. The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of Arizona, 45 which is repeatedly invoked and constitutes the justification relied upon by respondent, is obviously not applicable to the case at bar. Foremost is the fact that the disciplinary rule involved in said case explicitly allows a lawyer, as an exception to the prohibition against advertisements by lawyers, to publish a statement of legal fees for an initial consultation or the availability upon request of a written schedule of fees or an estimate of the fee to be charged for the specific services. No such

exception is provided for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our former Canons of Professional Ethics or the present Code of Professional Responsibility. Besides, even the disciplinary rule in the Bates case contains a proviso that the exceptions stated therein are "not applicable in any state unless and until it is implemented by such authority in that state." 46 This goes to show that an exception to the general rule, such as that being invoked by herein respondent, can be made only if and when the canons expressly provide for such an exception. Otherwise, the prohibition stands, as in the case at bar. It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the American Bar Association after the decision in Bates, on the attitude of the public about lawyers after viewing television commercials, it was found that public opinion dropped significantly 47 with respect to these characteristics of lawyers: Trustworthy from Professional from Honest from Dignified from 45% to 14% 71% 71% 65% to to to 14% 14% 14%

operation or transaction proscribed by law or the Code of Professional Ethics as indicated herein. Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Office of the Solicitor General for appropriate action in accordance herewith. Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ., concur

Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present situation of our legal and judicial systems, to allow the publication of advertisements of the kind used by respondent would only serve to aggravate what is already a deteriorating public opinion of the legal profession whose integrity has consistently been under attack lately by media and the community in general. At this point in time, it is of utmost importance in the face of such negative, even if unfair, criticisms at times, to adopt and maintain that level of professional conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert all efforts to regain the high esteem formerly accorded to the legal profession. In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of the lawyer, subject to disciplinary action, to advertise his services except in allowable instances 48 or to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law. 49 Considering that Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales, who is the prime incorporator, major stockholder and proprietor of The Legal Clinic, Inc. is a member of the Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts which are involved in this proceeding will be dealt with more severely. While we deem it necessary that the question as to the legality or illegality of the purpose/s for which the Legal Clinic, Inc. was created should be passed upon and determined, we are constrained to refrain from lapsing into an obiter on that aspect since it is clearly not within the adjudicative parameters of the present proceeding which is merely administrative in nature. It is, of course, imperative that this matter be promptly determined, albeit in a different proceeding and forum, since, under the present state of our law and jurisprudence, a corporation cannot be organized for or engage in the practice of law in this country. This interdiction, just like the rule against unethical advertising, cannot be subverted by employing some so-called paralegals supposedly rendering the alleged support services. The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition by respondent is the concern and province of the Solicitor General who can institute the corresponding quo warranto action, 50 after due ascertainment of the factual background and basis for the grant of respondent's corporate charter, in light of the putative misuse thereof. That spin-off from the instant bar matter is referred to the Solicitor General for such action as may be necessary under the circumstances. ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN and ENJOIN herein respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., from issuing or causing the publication or dissemination of any advertisement in any form which is of the same or similar tenor and purpose as Annexes "A" and "B" of this petition, and from conducting, directly or indirectly, any activity,


on August 14, 2000, at around 8:30 p.m., she saw on the second floor of the pool house, the respondent and Lim talking. After a while, the respondent came down and passed by her carinderia. The respondent then informed her that he and Lim talked about the P20,000.00 which respondent would give to his alleged boss in Malacaang. During the hearing, she also recalled seeing Lim hand money to respondent who in turn put the cash in his attach case and immediately thereafter, she saw three men arrest respondent.[3] Notably, almost nine months before the filing of his complaint, or on August 14, 2000, complainant Lim personally submitted a letter to the NBI requesting the NBI to investigate respondent Atty. Edilberto Barcelona.[4] According to the NBI report, after due investigation, it decided to conduct an entrapment operation. On August 15, 2000, Special Investigator Marvin de Jemil, sent nine five hundred peso bills and five one hundred peso bills for fluorescent powder dusting to the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division. Further, the NBI reported that thru the NBI Identification and Records Division, it found no record of such person named Edilberto Barcelona. The NBI report also stated that on August 16, 2000, Lim informed the NBI operatives that at around 7:00 p.m. respondent would drop by his pool house to collect the money. At around 6:30 p.m., the operatives went to the pool house and strategically positioned themselves and posed as pool players. At about 7:20 p.m., respondent arrived, sat on a plastic chair and talked to complainant Lim. At around 7:30 p.m., Lim handed the marked money to the respondent who, in turn, received it. While respondent was counting the money and about to place it inside his bag, he was immediately arrested. The respondent initially resisted and tried to create scandal but was later pacified. The NBI averred that the respondent was informed of his constitutional rights and was brought to the NBI office where he was booked and fingerprinted. In his fingerprint chart, the respondent indicated that he was a government lawyer and assigned at the office of the Chief, Public Assistance Center, NLRC, Banawe, Quezon City. He showed his identification card. Later he was brought to the Forensic Chemistry Division for ultraviolet examination. The certification issued by Forensic Chemist Loren G. Janobas stated that there were yellow fluorescent specks and smudges on the back and palm of the left and right hand of the respondent. On August 17, 2000, the NBI turned over respondent to the City Prosecutor of Manila who eventually indicted him for robbery/extortion.[5] Complainant Richard Tan, owner of Tai Hing Glass Supply, a co-signee in the herein complaint, executed a sworn statement dated August 16, 2000. In it he alleged that he went to the Criminal Intelligence Division, Intelligence Service of the NBI to complain about respondent Barcelona. He said that sometime during the last week of July, respondent called him, introduced himself and informed him that one of his employees filed an illegal dismissal case against him. He remembered that before respondents call, he had suspended an employee, Bryan Tellen, for leaving his workplace without permission. Tellen received several warning letters from him regarding his misdemeanors. Tan remembered that Tellen once hinted that he knew someone in the Department of Labor, who turned out to be herein respondent, Atty. Barcelona. Before Tan sent his accountant, Ditas Guitierrez, to respondents office to represent him, he told her to bring a copy of Tellens suspension letter and to inform respondent that Tellen had not been dismissed. When Guitierrez returned, she told him that respondent wanted him to pay his employee. She added that respondent did not give her any copy of a formal complaint on the alleged illegal dismissal. After two days, according to Tan, respondent went to his office, showed him an identification card and gave him a handwritten calling card. Respondent told him to pay his employeeP20,000.00 to P30,000.00, otherwise respondent would go on with the filing of the illegal dismissal case. When he said he did not have that kind of money, respondent lowered the amount to P15,000.00. Complainant Tan added that when he gave respondent the money, the latter promised to take care of the illegal dismissal complaint. On July 29, 2000, according to Tan, respondent came to see him again. Respondent appeared drunk and told Tan to go to the respondents office because a problem regarding the case arose. Tan stated that before respondent left, respondent invited his employees to a game of billiards. Tan said he did not consent to the employees playing because they had work. On July 31, 2000, respondent went to him a third time and asked for an additional P10,000.00 allegedly for his employee, Tellen, since the P15,000.00 Tan gave earlier was for respondent only. After a few more visits by respondent, Tan finally told the respondent to show him the formal complaint and he would just get himself a lawyer.[6]

[A.C. No. 5438. March 10, 2004]




TAN, complainants,




RESOLUTION PER CURIAM: On May 9, 2001, Dan Joel V. Lim and Richard C. Tan, [1] both businessmen, filed a complaint for alleged robbery or extortion and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Atty. Edilberto Barcelona, a lawyer formerly employed with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The complaint was simultaneously filed with this Court and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.[2] Complainant Lim alleged that on the first week of August 2000, respondent phoned him and introduced himself as a lawyer and chief of the Public Assistance Center, NLRC. Respondent informed him that his employees filed a labor complaint against him in his office and it was necessary for him to see and talk with respondent. From then on respondent would often call him. Respondent visited him in his office and told him to settle the case or else his business, Top Gun Billiards, would be shut down. Lim recalled that on August 14, 2000, at around 7:30 p.m., respondent again visited his establishment and told him to settle the case for P20,000.00. In support of his allegations, Lim submitted a written complaint of Arnel E. Ditan and Pilipino Ubante; an endorsement letter dated August 2, 2000 of Atty. Jonathan F. Baligod of the Presidential Action Center; handwritten calling cards of the respondent; and an affidavit of desistance executed by Ditan and Ubante. In their joint affidavit, Ditan and Ubante confirmed the filing of their complaint against their employer, Lim, and that after some dialogue, the aforenamed employees executed an affidavit dated August 8, 2000 withdrawing their complaint. According to Ditan and Ubante, they met the respondent in Top Gun Billiards where the latter often played billiards. One day, respondent gave them a letter and asked them to sign it. Since they were busy at that time, they signed it without reading and understanding its contents. Their employer, Lim, asked what it was about and they told him that they were just made to sign a document without their understanding it. They added, they did not have any complaint against their employer. Despite such withdrawal, respondent still called Lim threatening the latter that he would pursue the case, have his establishment closed and he would be jailed if he did not come up with P20,000.00 as settlement. In the evening of August 14, 2000, respondent reiterated his demand for P20,000.00, again with the threat of closure of the billiard center and putting Lim in jail. Complainant Lim said that after his meeting with respondent, he agreed to give the amount but did not fix any date when payment would be made, whereupon, respondent gave notice that he would drop in at around 7:00 in the evening, on August 16, 2000, to pick up the money. Aurora Cruz y Libunao, owner of the carinderia adjacent to Top Gun Billiards, stated in her sworn statement as well as court testimony that she met respondent when he ate in her carinderia. She recalled that the respondent told her that he would shut down the billiard business if the owner would not talk to him. She also recounted that

The Joint Affidavit of Arrest, signed on August 17, 2000 by Agent Don R. Hernandez, SI Felix O. Senora and SI Marvin de Jemil, cited complainant Tans allegations.[7] Respondent Atty. Barcelona filed his Comment[8] on December 10, 2001, praying for the dismissal of the complaint against him. Respondent, in his defense, alleges that he normally played billiards at the Top Gun Billiard Center where he would drop by from his office before going to his residence; that when certain employees of the billiard center learned that he was a lawyer and Chief of the Public Assistance Center of the NLRC, they confided in him their grievance against their employer, Lim, for alleged violation of labor laws, there respondent gave them assistance; that with the proper complaint and required documentation accomplished, respondents office scheduled the case for a dialogue-conference between the complaining workers and their employer; that on instigation and coercion of complainant Lim, respondent became a victim of theft, billiard hustling, swindling and syndicated gambling on August 9, 2000; that on or about August 9, 2000, respondent filed a complaint for theft of cellphone and pack of cigarettes, billiard hustling, syndicated gambling, and swindling against Lim and his three workers, eventually docketed as I.S. No. 38251 to 53.[9] Respondents Comment narrated his version on how the money allegedly was given to him. According to the respondent, on August 16, 2000, at about 3 p.m., he received a phone call from complainant Lim informing him that Ian Gonvan,[10] one of the accused in I.S. No. 38251, admitted taking his cellphone and was willing and ready to return it at around 7 p.m., at the Top Gun Billiard Center. It was the birthday of his daughter that was why he took the day off from office. At about 7:30 p.m., he arrived at the billiard hall and there found Lim with one of his complaining workers, fixing the lamp of one of the billiard tables. He did not see Gonvan within the premises so he sat and watched the billiard games going on while he waited. After about 15 minutes Lim sat beside him and told him that Gonvan could no longer return the cellphone and instead Gonvan entrusted Lim with the equivalent value in cash. According to respondent, Lim persistently whispered to him to accept and count the wad of paper money Lim pulled out. According to respondent, he consistently refused to touch the money and he insisted, Gusto ko munang makaharap ang sinasabi mong si Gumban,[11] continuously refusing to accept, much less count, the offered wad of money. Respondent added that when Lim realized that he could not be prevailed upon to accept it, he placed and inserted the wad of money in the open side pocket of respondents shoulder bag that respondent normally carried, again pleading to respondent that he should count the money. Respo ndent added that Lims behavior was rude and intimidating so much so that respondent protested such rudeness. But respondent said while he was trying to retrieve the wad of money to throw it back to Lim, about five or seven burly men accosted respondent and handcuffed him over his vehement protestations.[12] On Tans complaint, respondent declared that he never demanded nor received money from Tan, and Tans accusations are but a product of the formers fertile imagination as leverage because he actively assisted a complaining worker of Tan.[13] Respondent added that a formal labor complaint has been filed against Tan.[14] Eventually, we referred the complaint against Atty. Barcelona to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. Its report with recommendation is now before us. We shall now proceed to the merits of the complaint. Respondents version seeks to discredit the NBI report to the effect that respondent accepted the marked money which Lim handed to him. His version, however, fails to explain why he was found positive for yellow fluorescent specks and smudges in his dorsal and palmar aspects of the left and right hands by the Forensic Department of the NBI. Respondent claims that he continuously refused to accept, much less count, the offered wad of money. Because of such refusal, according to respondent, Lim inserted the wad of money in respondents shoulder bags open pocket while complainant Lim was still pleading to count the wad of money. Respondent alleges that the alleged bribery or extortion is a mere concoction of complainant and as leverage for the cases against Lim and Tan.

Based on the NBI report, this case appears to be an entrapment operation. Notably, Atty. Don Hernandez and his team of arresting officers confirm the entrapment operation against respondent on the basis of complainant Lims call for NBI assistance. While respondent alleges that complainant Lim merely concocted a charge of extortion against him in retaliation to a complaint for theft which he had filed, it may be noted that the complaint for theft was not directed against Lim but only against his workers who were accused by respondent. Hence, there appears to be no strong reason for Lim to resort to a counter-charge for extortion against respondent. The Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP concluded that it is highly improbable that the NBI could be misled by complainant Lim into conducting an entrapment operation against respondent, if there was no merit to his complaint against respondent. From a reading of the NBI Report as well as the documents attached to said report, it is evident that the NBI considered the merits of Lims complaint of extortion against respondent. Finding it worth pursuing, the NBI conducted an entrapment operation against respondent. On the basis of the entrapment operation conducted by the NBI, respondent was caught in the act, so to speak, of attempted extortion. Respondent was brought to the City Prosecutor of Manila for inquest and the appropriate complaint for Robbery/Extortion was filed against respondent.[15] Based on its own evaluation and the NBI Report, the Investigating Commissioner of the Commission on Bar Discipline recommended the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for a period of two years. [16] In the final resolution dated September 27, 2003, the Board of Governors of the IBP imposed the penalty of disbarment for the reason that respondent in fact attempted to extort money as Chief of the Public Assistance Center of the NLRC to threaten/coerce Lim and that no less than the NBI caught him in the act of receiving and counting the money extorted from Lim.[17] The grounds for disbarment or suspension of an attorney are: (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 of any lawful order of a superior court; and (7) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without authority.[18] The NBI found that respondents hands had yellow fluorescent specks and smudges with which the money used for the entrapment of the respondent had been powdered. We find no reason to doubt the NBI report. Also, we see no basis to overturn the presumption that the NBI had done its duty regularly. Respondent would make us believe that the specks and smudges of yellow fluorescent were in his hands because Lim offered him what was allegedly the payment for the stolen cellphone by a certain Gonvan. Regrettably, there is no corroboration from Gonvan nor anyone else on this matter. Thus, respond ents story appears to us entirely self-serving. We had held previously that if a lawyers misconduct in the discharge of his official duties as government official is of such a character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or to show moral delinquency, he may be disciplined as a member of the Bar on such ground.[19] More significantly, lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official tasks have more restrictions than lawyers in private practice. Want of moral integrity is to be more severely condemned in a lawyer who holds a responsible public office. [20] Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. Extortion by a government lawyer, an outright violation of the law, calls for the corresponding grave sanctions. With the aforesaid rule a high standard of integrity is demanded of a government lawyer as compared to a private practitioner because the delinquency of a government lawyer erodes the peoples trust and confidence in the government.

Needless to say, lawyers owe it to the court and to society not to stir up litigations. Employees of the billiards hall, Ditan and Ubante, swore that respondent public officer encouraged complainant Lims workers to file a case against the latter. Rule 1.03 of the same Code states that a lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any mans cause. Noteworthy, as an Attorney IV and Chief of the Public Assistance Center of the NLRC, respondent failed to observe prudence by hanging out and playing in the billiard hall. By so doing, he exposed himself unnecessarily to certain elements and situations which could compromise his official position and his status as a lawyer. Time and again, we have declared that the practice of law is a noble profession. It is a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are competent intellectually, academically and morally. A lawyer must at all times conduct himself, especially in his dealings with his clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach. He must faithfully perform his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. A violation of the high standards of the legal profession subjects the lawyer to administrative sanctions which includes suspension and disbarment.[21] More importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice; otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege.[22] Indeed, the primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to punish and discipline the erring individual lawyers, but also to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the courts and the public from the misconduct of lawyers and to remove from the legal profession persons whose utter disregard of the lawyers oath has proven them unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar. [23] These pronouncements gain practical significance in this case, considering that respondent is a senior lawyer of the NLRC. It bears stressing also that government lawyers who are public servants owe fidelity to the public service, a public trust. As such, government lawyers should be more sensitive to their professional obligations as their disreputable conduct is more likely to be magnified in the public eye. [24] As a lawyer, who was also a public officer, respondent miserably failed to cope with the strict demands and high standards of the legal profession. In Montano v. IBP,[25] this Court said that only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer may disbarment be imposed as a penalty. In the instant case, the Court is convinced that the evidence against respondent is clear and convincing. He is administratively liable for corrupt activity, deceit, and gross misconduct. As correctly held by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, he should not only be suspended from the practice of law but disbarred. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Edilberto Barcelona is found administratively guilty of corrupt activity, deceit, and gross misconduct and is hereby ordered DISBARRED. Let his name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys effective immediately, and this resolution spread in his record in this Court and circulated to all courts in the Philippines. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C. J., Vitug, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, AustriaMartinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur. Puno, J., on leave. Panganiban, J., on official leave.


[G.R. Nos. 151809-12. April 12, 2005]

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT (PCGG), petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (Fifth Division), LUCIO C. TAN, CARMEN KHAO TAN, FLORENCIO T. SANTOS, NATIVIDAD P. SANTOS, DOMINGO CHUA, TAN HUI NEE, MARIANO TAN ENG LIAN, ESTATE OF BENITO TAN KEE HIONG (represented by TARCIANA C. TAN), FLORENCIO N. SANTOS, JR., HARRY C. TAN, TAN ENG CHAN, CHUNG POE KEE, MARIANO KHOO, MANUEL KHOO, MIGUEL KHOO, JAIME KHOO, ELIZABETH KHOO, CELSO RANOLA, WILLIAM T. WONG, ERNESTO B. LIM, BENJAMIN T. ALBACITA, WILLY CO, ALLIED BANKING CORP., ALLIED LEASING AND FINANCE CORPORATION, ASIA BREWERY, INC., BASIC HOLDINGS CORP., FOREMOST FARMS, INC., FORTUNE TOBACCO CORP., GRANDSPAN DEVELOPMENT CORP., HIMMEL INDUSTRIES, IRIS HOLDINGS AND DEVELOPMENT CORP., JEWEL HOLDINGS, INC., MANUFACTURING SERVICES AND TRADE CORP., MARANAW HOTELS AND RESORT CORP., NORTHERN TOBACCO REDRYING PLANT, PROGRESSIVE FARMS, INC., SHAREHOLDINGS, INC., SIPALAY TRADING CORP., VIRGO HOLDINGS & DEVELOPMENT CORP., and ATTY. ESTELITO P. MENDOZA, respondents. DECISION PUNO, J.: This case is prima impressiones and it is weighted with significance for it concerns on one hand, the efforts of the Bar to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in government service and on the other, its effect on the right of government to recruit competent counsel to defend its interests. In 1976, General Bank and Trust Company (GENBANK) encountered financial difficulties. GENBANK had extended considerable financial support to Filcapital Development Corporation causing it to incur daily overdrawings on its current account with the Central Bank.[1] It was later found by the Central Bank that GENBANK had approved various loans to directors, officers, stockholders and related interests totaling P172.3 million, of which 59% was classified as doubtful and P0.505 million as uncollectible.[2] As a bailout, the Central Bank extended emergency loans to GENBANK which reached a total of P310 million.[3] Despite the mega loans, GENBANK failed to recover from its financial woes. On March 25, 1977, the Central Bank issued a resolution declaring GENBANK insolvent and unable to resume business with safety to its depositors, creditors and the general public, and ordering its liquidation.[4] A public bidding of GENBANKs assets was held from March 26 to 28, 1977, wherein the Lucio Tan group submitted the winning bid. [5]Subsequently, former Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza filed a petition with the then Court of First Instance praying for the assistance and supervision of the court in GENBANKs liquidation as mandated by Section 29 of Republi c Act No. 265. In February 1986, the EDSA I revolution toppled the Marcos government. One of the first acts of President Corazon C. Aquino was to establish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to recover the alleged ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand Marcos, his family and his cronies. Pursuant to this mandate,

the PCGG, on July 17, 1987, filed with the Sandiganbayan a complaint for reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages against respondents Lucio Tan, Carmen Khao Tan, Florencio T. Santos, Natividad P. Santos, Domingo Chua, Tan Hui Nee, Mariano Tan Eng Lian, Estate of Benito Tan Kee Hiong, Florencio N. Santos, Jr., Harry C. Tan, Tan Eng Chan, Chung Poe Kee, Mariano Khoo, Manuel Khoo, Miguel Khoo, Jaime Khoo, Elizabeth Khoo, Celso Ranola, William T. Wong, Ernesto B. Lim, Benjamin T. Albacita, Willy Co, Allied Banking Corporation (Allied Bank), Allied Leasing and Finance Corporation, Asia Brewery, Inc., Basic Holdings Corp., Foremost Farms, Inc., Fortune Tobacco Corporation, Grandspan Development Corp., Himmel Industries, Iris Holdings and Development Corp., Jewel Holdings, Inc., Manufacturing Services and Trade Corp., Maranaw Hotels and Resort Corp., Northern Tobacco Redrying Plant, Progressive Farms, Inc., Shareholdings, Inc., Sipalay Trading Corp., Virgo Holdings & Development Corp., (collectively referred to herein as respondents Tan, et al.), then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Panfilo O. Domingo, Cesar Zalamea, Don Ferry and Gregorio Licaros. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 0005 of the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan.[6] In connection therewith, the PCGG issued several writs of sequestration on properties allegedly acquired by the abovenamed persons by taking advantage of their close relationship and influence with former President Marcos. Respondents Tan, et al. repaired to this Court and filed petitions for certiorari, prohibition and injunction to nullify, among others, the writs of sequestration issued by the PCGG. [7]After the filing of the parties comments, this Court referred the cases to the Sandiganbayan for proper disposition. These cases were docketed as Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099. In all these cases, respondents Tan, et al. were represented by their counsel, former Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, who has then resumed his private practice of law. On February 5, 1991, the PCGG filed motions to disqualify respondent Mendoza as counsel for respondents Tan, et al. with the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos. 0005[8] and 0096-0099.[9] The motions alleged that respondent Mendoza, as then Solicitor General[10] and counsel to Central Bank, actively intervened in the liquidation of GENBANK, which was subsequently acquired by respondents Tan, et al. and became Allied Banking Corporation. Respondent Mendoza allegedly intervened in the acquisition of GENBANK by respondents Tan, et al. when, in his capacity as then Solicitor General, he advised the Central Banks officials on the procedure to bring about GENBANKs liquidation and appeared as counsel for the Central Bank in connection with its petition for assistance in the liquidation of GENBANK which he filed with the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Manila and was docketed as Special Proceeding No. 107812. The motions to disqualify invoked Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Rule 6.03 prohibits former government lawyers from accepting engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service. On April 22, 1991 the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying PCGGs motion to disqualify respondent Mendoza in Civil Case No. 0005.[11] It found that the PCGG failed to prove the existence of an inconsistency between respondent Mendozas former function as Solicitor General and his present employment as counsel of the Lucio Tan group. It noted that respondent Mendoza did not take a position adverse to that taken on behalf of the Central Bank during his term as Solicitor General.[12] It further ruled that respondent Mendozas appearance as counsel for respondents Tan, et al. was beyond the one-year prohibited period under Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 6713 since he ceased to be Solicitor General in the year 1986. The said section prohibits a former public official or employee from practicing his profession in connection with any matter before the office he used to be with within one year from his resignation, retirement or separation from public office. [13] The PCGG did not seek any reconsideration of the ruling.[14] It appears that Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 were transferred from the Sandiganbayans Second Division to the Fifth Division.[15] In its resolution dated July 11, 2001, the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan denied the other PCGGs motion to disqualify respondent Mendoza.[16] It adopted the resolution of its Second Division dated April 22, 1991, and observed that the arguments were the same in substance as the motion to disqualify filed in Civil Case No. 0005. The PCGG sought reconsideration of the ruling but its motion was denied in its resolution dated December 5, 2001.[17]

Hence, the recourse to this Court by the PCGG assailing the resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001 of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan via a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.[18] The PCGG alleged that the Fifth Division acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed resolutions contending that: 1) Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility prohibits a former government lawyer from accepting employment in connection with any matter in which he intervened; 2) the prohibition in the Rule is not time-bound; 3) that Central Bank could not waive the objection to respondent Mendozas appearance on behalf of the PCGG; and 4) the resolution in Civil Case No. 0005 was interlocutory, thus res judicata does not apply.[19] The petition at bar raises procedural and substantive issues of law. In view, however, of the import and impact of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility to the legal profession and the government, we shall cut our way and forthwith resolve the substantive issue. I Substantive Issue The key issue is whether Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility applies to respondent Mendoza. Again, the prohibition states: A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in the said service. I.A. The history of Rule 6.03 A proper resolution of this case necessitates that we trace the historical lineage of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ethical standards for lawyers were pervasive in England and other parts of Europe. The early statements of standards did not resemble modern codes of conduct. They were not detailed or collected in one source but surprisingly were comprehensive for their time. The principal thrust of the standards was directed towards the litigation conduct of lawyers. It underscored the central duty of truth and fairness in litigation as superior to any obligation to the client. The formulations of the litigation duties were at times intricate, including specific pleading standards, an obligation to inform the court of falsehoods and a duty to explore settlement alternatives. Most of the lawyer's other basic duties -- competency, diligence, loyalty, confidentiality, reasonable fees and service to the poor -- originated in the litigation context, but ultimately had broader application to all aspects of a lawyer's practice. The forms of lawyer regulation in colonial and early post-revolutionary America did not differ markedly from those in England. The colonies and early states used oaths, statutes, judicial oversight, and procedural rules to govern attorney behavior. The difference from England was in the pervasiveness and continuity of such regulation. The standards set in England varied over time, but the variation in early America was far greater. The American regulation fluctuated within a single colony and differed from colony to colony. Many regulations had the effect of setting some standards of conduct, but the regulation was sporadic, leaving gaps in the substantive standards. Only three of the traditional core duties can be fairly characterized as pervasive in the formal, positive law of the colonial and post-revolutionary period: the duties of litigation fairness, competency and reasonable fees. [20] The nineteenth century has been termed the dark ages of legal ethics in the United States. By midcentury, American legal reformers were filling the void in two ways. First, David Dudley Field, the drafter of the highly influential New York Field Code, introduced a new set of uniform standards of conduct for lawyers. This

concise statement of eight statutory duties became law in several states in the second half of the nineteenth century. At the same time, legal educators, such as David Hoffman and George Sharswood, and many other lawyers were working to flesh out the broad outline of a lawyer's duties. These reformers wrote about legal ethics in unprecedented detail and thus brought a new level of understanding to a lawyer's duties. A number of mid-nineteenth century laws and statutes, other than the Field Code, governed lawyer behavior. A few forms of colonial regulations e.g., the do no falsehood oath and the deceit prohibitions -- persisted in some states. Procedural law continued to directly, or indirectly, limit an attorney's litigation behavior. The developing law of agency recognized basic duties of competence, loyalty and safeguarding of client property. Evidence law started to recognize with less equivocation the attorney-client privilege and its underlying theory of confidentiality. Thus, all of the core duties, with the likely exception of service to the poor, had some basis in formal law. Yet, as in the colonial and early post-revolutionary periods, these standards were isolated and did not provide a comprehensive statement of a lawyer's duties. The reformers, by contrast, were more comprehensive in their discussion of a lawyer's duties, and they actually ushered a new era in American legal ethics.[21] Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new form of ethical standards began to guide lawyers in their practice the bar association code of legal ethics. The bar codes were detailed ethical standards formulated by lawyers for lawyers. They combined the two primary sources of ethical guidance from the nineteenth century. Like the academic discourses, the bar association codes gave detail to the statutory statements of duty and the oaths of office. Unlike the academic lectures, however, the bar association codes retained some of the official imprimatur of the statutes and oaths. Over time, the bar association codes became extremely popular that states adopted them as binding rules of law. Critical to the development of the new codes was the re-emergence of bar associations themselves. Local bar associations formed sporadically during the colonial period, but they disbanded by the early nineteenth century. In the late nineteenth century, bar associations began to form again, picking up where their colonial predecessors had left off. Many of the new bar associations, most notably the Alabama State Bar Association and the American Bar Association, assumed on the task of drafting substantive standards of conduct for their members.[22] In 1887, Alabama became the first state with a comprehensive bar association code of ethics. The 1887 Alabama Code of Ethics was the model for several states codes, and it was the foundation for the American Bar Association's (ABA) 1908 Canons of Ethics.[23] In 1917, the Philippine Bar found that the oath and duties of a lawyer were insufficient to attain the full measure of public respect to which the legal profession was entitled. In that year, the Philippine Bar Association adopted as its own, Canons 1 to 32 of the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics.[24] As early as 1924, some ABA members have questioned the form and function of the canons. Among their concerns was the revolving door or the process by which lawyers and others temporarily enter government service from private life and then leave it for large fees in private practice, where they can exploit information, contacts, and influence garnered in government service.[25] These concerns were classified as adverse-interest conflicts and congruent-interest conflicts. Adverse-interest conflicts exist where the matter in which the former government lawyer represents a client in private practice is substantially related to a matter that the lawyer dealt with while employed by the government and the interests of the current and former are adverse. [26] On the other hand, congruent-interest representation conflicts are unique to government lawyers and apply primarily to former government lawyers.[27] For several years, the ABA attempted to correct and update the canons through new canons, individual amendments and interpretative opinions. In 1928, the ABA amended one canon and added thirteen new canons.[28] To deal with problems peculiar to former government lawyers, Canon 36 was minted which disqualified them both for adverse-interest conflicts and congruent-interest representation conflicts.[29] The rationale for disqualification is rooted in a concern that the government lawyers largely discretionary actions would be influenced by the temptation to take action on behalf of the government client that later could be to the advantage of parties who might later become private practice clients.[30] Canon 36 provides, viz.:


Retirement from judicial position or public employment

A lawyer should not accept employment as an advocate in any matter upon the merits of which he has previously acted in a judicial capacity. A lawyer, having once held public office or having been in the public employ should not, after his retirement, accept employment in connection with any matter he has investigated or passed upon while in such office or employ. Over the next thirty years, the ABA continued to amend many of the canons and added Canons 46 and 47 in 1933 and 1937, respectively.[31] In 1946, the Philippine Bar Association again adopted as its own Canons 33 to 47 of the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics.[32] By the middle of the twentieth century, there was growing consensus that the ABA Canons needed more meaningful revision. In 1964, the ABA President-elect Lewis Powell asked for the creation of a committee to study the adequacy and effectiveness of the ABA Canons. The committee recommended that the canons needed substantial revision, in part because the ABA Canons failed to distinguish between the inspirational and the proscriptive and were thus unsuccessful in enforcement. The legal profession in the United States likewise observed that Canon 36 of the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics resulted in unnecessary disqualification of lawyers for negligible participation in matters during their employment with the government. The unfairness of Canon 36 compelled ABA to replace it in the 1969 ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility.[33] The basic ethical principles in the Code of Professional Responsibility were supplemented by Disciplinary Rules that defined minimum rules of conduct to which the lawyer must adhere.[34] In the case of Canon 9, DR 9-101(b)[35] became the applicable supplementary norm. The drafting committee reformulated the canons into the Model Code of Professional Responsibility, and, in August of 1969, the ABA House of Delegates approved the Model Code.[36] Despite these amendments, legal practitioners remained unsatisfied with the results and indefinite standards set forth by DR 9-101(b) and the Model Code of Professional Responsibility as a whole. Thus, in August 1983, the ABA adopted new Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. The Model Rules used the restatement format, where the conduct standards were set-out in rules, with comments following each rule. The new format was intended to give better guidance and clarity for enforcement because the only enforceable standards were the black letter Rules. The Model Rules eliminated the broad canons altogether and reduced the emphasis on narrative discussion, by placing comments after the rules and limiting comment discussion to the content of the black letter rules. The Model Rules made a number of substantive improvements particularly with regard to conflicts of interests. [37] In particular, the ABA did away with Canon 9, citing the hopeless dependence of the concept of impropriety on the subjective views of anxious clients as well as the norms indefinite nature. [38] In cadence with these changes, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) adopted a proposed Code of Professional Responsibility in 1980 which it submitted to this Court for approval. The Code was drafted to reflect the local customs, traditions, and practices of the bar and to conform with new realities. On June 21, 1988, this Court promulgated the Code of Professional Responsibility .[39] Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility deals particularly with former government lawyers, and provides, viz.: Rule 6.03 A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service.

Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility retained the general structure of paragraph 2, Canon 36 of the Canons of Professional Ethics but replaced the expansive phrase investigated and passed upon with the word intervened. It is, therefore, properly applicable to both adverse-interest conflicts and congruentinterest conflicts. The case at bar does not involve the adverse interest aspect of Rule 6.03. Respondent Mendoza, it is conceded, has no adverse interest problem when he acted as Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 and later as counsel of respondents Tan, et al. in Civil Case No. 0005 and Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 before the Sandiganbayan. Nonetheless, there remains the issue of whether there exists a congruent-interest conflict sufficient to disqualify respondent Mendoza from representing respondents Tan, et al. I.B. The congruent interest aspect of Rule 6.03 The key to unlock Rule 6.03 lies in comprehending first, the meaning of matter referred to in the rule and, second, the metes and bounds of the intervention made by the former government lawyer on the matter. The American Bar Association in its Formal Opinion 342, defined matter as any discrete, isolatable act as well as identifiable transaction or conduct involving a particular situation and specific party, and not merely an act of drafting, enforcing or interpreting government or agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of law. Firstly, it is critical that we pinpoint the matter which was the subject of intervention by respondent Mendoza while he was the Solicitor General. The PCGG relates the following acts of respondent Mendoza as constituting the matter where he intervened as a Solicitor General, viz:[40] The PCGGs Case for Atty. Mendozas Disqualification The PCGG imputes grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Sandiganbayan (Fifth Division) in issuing the assailed Resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001 denying the motion to disqualify Atty. Mendoza as counsel for respondents Tan, et al. The PCGG insists that Atty. Mendoza, as then Solicitor General, actively intervened in the closure of GENBANK by advising the Central Bank on how to proceed with the said banks liquidation and even filing the petition for its liquidation with the CFI of Manila. As proof thereof, the PCGG cites the Memorandum dated March 29, 1977 prepared by certain key officials of the Central Bank, namely, then Senior Deputy Governor Amado R. Brinas, then Deputy Governor Jaime C. Laya, then Deputy Governor and General Counsel Gabriel C. Singson, then Special Assistant to the Governor Carlota P. Valenzuela, then Asistant to the Governor Arnulfo B. Aurellano and then Director of Department of Commercial and Savings Bank Antonio T. Castro, Jr., where they averred that on March 28, 1977, they had a conference with the Solicitor General (Atty. Mendoza), who advised them on how to proceed with the liquidation of GENBANK. The pertinent portion of the said memorandum states: Immediately after said meeting, we had a conference with the Solicitor General and he advised that the following procedure should be taken: 1. Management should submit a memorandum to the Monetary Board reporting that studies and evaluation had been made since the last examination of the bank as of August 31, 1976 and it is believed that the bank can not be reorganized or placed in a condition so that it may be permitted to resume business with safety to its depositors and creditors and the general public.

2. If the said report is confirmed by the Monetary Board, it shall order the liquidation of the bank and indicate the manner of its liquidation and approve a liquidation plan. 3. The Central Bank shall inform the principal stockholders of Genbank of the foregoing decision to liquidate the bank and the liquidation plan approved by the Monetary Board. 4. The Solicitor General shall then file a petition in the Court of First Instance reciting the proceedings which had been taken and praying the assistance of the Court in the liquidation of Genbank. The PCGG further cites the Minutes No. 13 dated March 29, 1977 of the Monetary Board where it was shown that Atty. Mendoza was furnished copies of pertinent documents relating to GENBANK in order to aid him in filing with the court the petition for assistance in the banks liquidation. The pertinent portion of the said minutes reads: The Board decided as follows: ... E. To authorize Management to furnish the Solicitor General with a copy of the subject memorandum of the Director, Department of Commercial and Savings Bank dated March 29, 1977, together with copies of: 1. Memorandum of the Deputy Governor, Supervision and Examination Sector, to the Monetary Board, dated March 25, 1977, containing a report on the current situation of Genbank; Aide Memoire on the Antecedent Facts Re: General Bank and Trust Co., dated March 23, 1977; Memorandum of the Director, Department of Commercial and Savings Bank, to the Monetary Board, dated March 24, 1977, submitting, pursuant to Section 29 of R.A. No. 265, as amended by P.D. No. 1007, a repot on the state of insolvency of Genbank, together with its attachments; and Such other documents as may be necessary or needed by the Solicitor General for his use in then CFI-praying the assistance of the Court in the liquidation of Genbank.

SEC. 29. Proceedings upon insolvency. Whenever, upon examination by the head of the appropriate supervising or examining department or his examiners or agents into the condition of any bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions, it shall be disclosed that the condition of the same is one of insolvency, or that its continuance in business would involve probable loss to its depositors or creditors, it shall be the duty of the department head concerned forthwith, in writing, to inform the Monetary Board of the facts, and the Board may, upon finding the statements of the department head to be true, forbid the institution to do business in the Philippines and shall designate an official of the Central Bank or a person of recognized competence in banking or finance, as receiver to immediately take charge of its assets and liabilities, as expeditiously as possible collect and gather all the assets and administer the same for the benefit of its creditors, exercising all the powers necessary for these purposes including, but not limited to, bringing suits and foreclosing mortgages in the name of the bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions. ... If the Monetary Board shall determine and confirm within the said period that the bank or nonbank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions is insolvent or cannot resume business with safety to its depositors, creditors and the general public, it shall, if the public interest requires, order its liquidation, indicate the manner of its liquidation and approve a liquidation plan. The Central Bank shall, by the Solicitor General, file a petition in the Court of First Instance reciting the proceedings which have been taken and praying the assistance of the court in the liquidation of such institution. The court shall have jurisdiction in the same proceedings to adjudicate disputed claims against the bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions and enforce individual liabilities of the stockholders and do all that is necessary to preserve the assets of such institution and to implement the liquidation plan approved by the Monetary Board. The Monetary Board shall designate an official of the Central Bank, or a person of recognized competence in banking or finance, as liquidator who shall take over the functions of the receiver previously appointed by the Monetary Board under this Section. The liquidator shall, with all convenient speed, convert the assets of the banking institution or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions to money or sell, assign or otherwise dispose of the same to creditors and other parties for the purpose of paying the debts of such institution and he may, in the name of the bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasibanking functions, institute such actions as may be necessary in the appropriate court to collect and recover accounts and assets of such institution. The provisions of any law to the contrary notwithstanding, the actions of the Monetary Board under this Section and the second paragraph of Section 34 of this Act shall be final and executory, and can be set aside by the court only if there is convincing proof that the action is plainly arbitrary and made in bad faith. No restraining order or injunction shall be issued by the court enjoining the Central Bank from implementing its actions under this Section and the second paragraph of Section 34 of this Act, unless there is convincing proof that the action of the Monetary Board is plainly arbitrary and made in bad faith and the petitioner or plaintiff files with the clerk or judge of the court in which the action is pending a bond executed in favor of the Central Bank, in an amount to be fixed by the court. The restraining order or injunction shall be refused or, if granted, shall be dissolved upon filing by the Central Bank of a bond, which shall be in the form of cash or Central Bank cashier(s) check, in an amount twice the amount of the bond of the petitioner or plaintiff conditioned that it will pay the damages which the petitioner or plaintiff may suffer by the refusal or the dissolution of the injunction. The provisions of Rule 58 of the New Rules of Court insofar as they are applicable and not inconsistent




Beyond doubt, therefore, the matter or the act of respondent Mendoza as Solicitor General involved in the case at bar is advising the Central Bank, on how to proceed with the said banks liquidation and even filing the petition for its liquidation with the CFI of Manila. In fine, the Court should resolve whether his act of advising the Central Bank on thelegal procedure to liquidate GENBANK is included within the concept of matter under Rule 6.03. The procedure of liquidation is given in black and white in Republic Act No. 265, section 29, viz: The provision reads in part:

with the provisions of this Section shall govern the issuance and dissolution of the restraining order or injunction contemplated in this Section. Insolvency, under this Act, shall be understood to mean the inability of a bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions to pay its liabilities as they fall due in the usual and ordinary course of business. Provided, however, That this shall not include the inability to pay of an otherwise non-insolvent bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions caused by extraordinary demands induced by financial panic commonly evidenced by a run on the bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions in the banking or financial community. The appointment of a conservator under Section 28-A of this Act or the appointment of a receiver under this Section shall be vested exclusively with the Monetary Board, the provision of any law, general or special, to the contrary notwithstanding. (As amended by PD Nos. 72, 1007, 1771 & 1827, Jan. 16, 1981) We hold that this advice given by respondent Mendoza on the procedure to liquidate GENBANK is not the matter contemplated by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. ABA Formal Opinion No. 342 is clear as daylight in stressing that the drafting, enforcing or interpreting government or agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of law are acts which do not fall within the scope of the term matter and cannot disqualify. Secondly, it can even be conceded for the sake of argument that the above act of respondent Mendoza falls within the definition of matter per ABA Formal Opinion No. 342. Be that as it may, the said act of respondent Mendoza which is the matter involved in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is entirely different from the matter involved in Civil Case No. 0096. Again, the plain facts speak for themselves. It is given that respondent Mendoza had nothing to do with the decision of the Central Bank to liquidate GENBANK. It is also given that he did not participate in the sale of GENBANK to Allied Bank. The matter where he got himself involved was in informing Central Bank on the procedure provided by law to liquidate GENBANK thru the courts and in filing the necessary petition in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 in the then Court of First Instance. The subject matter of Sp. Proc. No. 107812, therefore, is not the same nor is related to but is different from the subject matter in Civil Case No. 0096 . Civil Case No. 0096 involves the sequestration of the stocksowned by respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank on the alleged ground that they are ill-gotten. The case does not involve the liquidation of GENBANK. Nor does it involve the sale of GENBANK to Allied Bank. Whether the shares of stock of the reorganized Allied Bank are ill-gotten is far removed from the issue of the dissolution and liquidation of GENBANK. GENBANK was liquidated by the Central Bank due, among others, to the alleged banking malpractices of its owners and officers. In other words, the legality of the liquidation of GENBANK is not an issue in the sequestration cases. Indeed, the jurisdiction of the PCGG does not include the dissolution and liquidation of banks. It goes without saying that Code 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility cannot apply to respondent Mendoza because his alleged intervention while a Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is an intervention on a matter different from the matter involved in Civil Case No. 0096. Thirdly, we now slide to the metes and bounds of the intervention contemplated by Rule 6.03. Intervene means, viz.: 1: to enter or appear as an irrelevant or extraneous feature or circumstance . . . 2: to occur, fall, or come in between points of time or events . . . 3: to come in or between by way of hindrance or modification: INTERPOSE . . . 4: to occur or lie between two things (Paris, where the same city lay on both sides of an intervening river . . .)[41]

On the other hand, intervention is defined as: 1: the act or fact of intervening: INTERPOSITION; 2: interference that may affect the interests of others.[42] There are, therefore, two possible interpretations of the word intervene. Under the first interpretation, intervene includes participation in a proceeding even if the intervention is irrelevant or has no effect or little influence.[43] Under the second interpretation, intervene only includes an act of a person who has the power to influence the subject proceedings.[44] We hold that this second meaning is more appropriate to give to the word intervention under Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility in light of its history. The evils sought to be remedied by the Rule do not exist where the government lawyer does an act which can be considered as innocuous such as x x x drafting, enforcing or interpreting government or agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of law. In fine, the intervention cannot be insubstantial and insignificant. Originally, Canon 36 provided that a former government lawyer should not, after his retirement, accept employment in connection with any matter which he has investigated or passed upon while in such office or employ. As aforediscussed, the broad sweep of the phrase which he has investigated or passed upon resulted in unjust disqualification of former government lawyers. The 1969 Code restricted its latitude, hence, in DR 9-101(b), the prohibition extended only to a matter in which the lawyer, while in the government service, had substantial responsibility. The 1983 Model Rules further constricted the reach of the rule. MR 1.11(a) provides that a lawyer shall not represent a private client in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee. It is, however, alleged that the intervention of respondent Mendoza in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is significant and substantial. We disagree. For one, the petition in the special proceedings is an initiatory pleading, hence, it has to be signed by respondent Mendoza as the then sitting Solicitor General. For another, the record is arid as to the actualparticipation of respondent Mendoza in the subsequent proceedings. Indeed, the case was in slumberville for a long number of years. None of the parties pushed for its early termination. Moreover, we note that the petition filed merely seeks the assistance of the court in the liquidation of GENBANK. The principal role of the court in this type of proceedings is to assist the Central Bank in determining claims of creditors against the GENBANK. The role of the court is not strictly as a court of justice but as an agent to assist the Central Bank in determining the claims of creditors. In such a proceeding, the participation of the Office of the Solicitor General is not that of the usual court litigator protecting the interest of government. II Balancing Policy Considerations To be sure, Rule 6.03 of our Code of Professional Responsibility represents a commendable effort on the part of the IBP to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in the government service. As aforestressed, it is a take-off from similar efforts especially by the ABA which have not been without difficulties. To date, the legal profession in the United States is still fine tuning its DR 9-101(b) rule. In fathoming the depth and breadth of Rule 6.03 of our Code of Professional Responsibility, the Court took account of various policy considerations to assure that its interpretation and application to the case at bar will achieve its end without necessarily prejudicing other values of equal importance. Thus, the rule was not interpreted to cause achilling effect on government recruitment of able legal talent . At present, it is already difficult for government to match compensation offered by the private sector and it is unlikely that government will be able to

reverse that situation. The observation is not inaccurate that the only card that the government may play to recruit lawyers is have them defer present income in return for the experience and contacts that can later be exchanged for higher income in private practice.[45] Rightly, Judge Kaufman warned that the sacrifice of entering government service would be too great for most men to endure should ethical rules prevent them from engaging in the practice of a technical specialty which they devoted years in acquiring and cause the firm with which they become associated to be disqualified.[46] Indeed, to make government service more difficult to exit can only make it less app ealing to enter.[47] In interpreting Rule 6.03, the Court also cast a harsh eye on its use as a litigation tactic to harass opposing counsel as well as deprive his client of competent legal representation. The danger that the rule will be misused to bludgeon an opposing counsel is not a mere guesswork. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has noted the tactical use of motions to disqualify counsel in order to delay proceedings, deprive the opposing party of counsel of its choice, and harass and embarrass the opponent, and observed that the tactic was so prevalent in large civil cases in recent years as to prompt frequent judicial and academ ic commentary.[48] Even the United States Supreme Court found no quarrel with the Court of Appeals description of disqualification motions as a dangero us game.[49] In the case at bar, the new attempt to disqualify respondent Mendoza is difficult to divine. The disqualification of respondent Mendoza has long been a dead issue. It was resuscitated after the lapse of many years and only after PCGG has lost many legal incidents in the hands of respondent Mendoza. For a fact, the recycled motion for disqualification in the case at bar was filed more than four years after the filing of the petitions for certiorari, prohibition and injunction with the Supreme Court which were subsequently remanded to the Sandiganbayan and docketed as Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099.[50] At the very least, the circumstances under which the motion to disqualify in the case at bar were refiled put petitioners motive as highly suspect. Similarly, the Court in interpreting Rule 6.03 was not unconcerned with the prejudice to the client which will be caused by its misapplication. It cannot be doubted that granting a disqualification motion causes the client to lose not only the law firm of choice, but probably an individual lawyer in whom the client has confidence.[51] The client with a disqualified lawyer must start again often without the benefit of the work done by the latter.[52] The effects of this prejudice to the right to choose an effective counsel cannot be overstated for it can result in denial of due process. The Court has to consider also the possible adverse effect of a truncated reading of the rule on the official independence of lawyers in the government service. According to Prof. Morgan: An individual who has the security of knowing he or she can find private employment upon leaving the government is free to work vigorously, challenge official positions when he or she believes them to be in error, and resist illegal demands by superiors. An employee who lacks this assurance of private employment does not enjoy such freedo m.[53] He adds: Any system that affects the right to take a new job affects the ability to quit the old job and any limit on the ability to quit inhibits official independence.[54] The case at bar involves the position of Solicitor General , the office once occupied by respondent Mendoza. It cannot be overly stressed that the position of Solicitor General should be endowed with a great degree of independence. It is this independence that allows the Solicitor General to recommend acquittal of the innocent; it is this independence that gives him the right to refuse to defend officials who violate the trust of their office. Any undue dimunition of the independence of the Solicitor General will have a corrosive effect on the rule of law. No less significant a consideration is the deprivation of the former government lawyer of the freedom to exercise his profession. Given the current state of our law, the disqualification of a former government lawyer may extend to all members of his law firm.[55] Former government lawyers stand in danger of becoming the lepers of the legal profession. It is, however, proffered that the mischief sought to be remedied by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is the possible appearance of impropriety and loss of public confidence in government. But as well observed, the accuracy of gauging public perceptions is a highly speculative exercise at best [56] which can lead to

untoward results.[57]No less than Judge Kaufman doubts that the lessening of restrictions as to former government attorneys will have any detrimental effect on that free flow of information between the government-client and its attorneys which the canons seek to protect.[58] Notably, the appearance of impropriety theory has been rejected in the 1983 ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct[59] and some courts have abandoned per se disqualification based on Canons 4 and 9 when an actual conflict of interest exists, and demand an evaluation of the interests of the defendant, government, the witnesses in the case, and the public. [60] It is also submitted that the Court should apply Rule 6.03 in all its strictness for it correctly disfavors lawyers who switch sides. It is claimed that switching sides carries the danger that former government employee may compromise confidential official information in the process. But this concern does not cast a shadow in the case at bar. As afore-discussed, the act of respondent Mendoza in informing the Central Bank on the procedure how to liquidate GENBANK is a different matter from the subject matter of Civil Case No. 0005 which is about the sequestration of the shares of respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank. Consequently, the danger that confidential official information might be divulged is nil, if not inexistent. To be sure, there are no inconsistent sides to be bothered about in the case at bar. For there is no question that in lawyering for respondents Tan, et al., respondent Mendoza is not working against the interest of Central Bank. On the contrary, he is indirectly defending the validity of the action of Central Bank in liquidating GENBANK and selling it later to Allied Bank. Their interests coincide instead of colliding. It is for this reason that Central Bank offered no objection to the lawyering of respondent Mendoza in Civil Case No. 0005 in defense of respondents Tan, et al. There is no switching of sides for no two sides are involved. It is also urged that the Court should consider that Rule 6.03 is intended to avoid conflict of loyalties, i.e., that a government employee might be subject to a conflict of loyalties while still in government service. [61] The example given by the proponents of this argument is that a lawyer who plans to work for the company that he or she is currently charged with prosecuting might be tempted to prosecute less vigorously. [62] In the cautionary words of the Association of the Bar Committee in 1960: The greatest public risks arising from post employment conduct may well occur during the period of employment through the dampening of aggressive administration of government policies.[63] Prof. Morgan, however, considers this concern as probably excessive. [64] He opines x x x it is hard to imagine that a private firm would feel secure hiding someone who had just been disloyal to his or her last client the government. Interviews with lawyers consistently confirm that law firms want the best government lawyers the ones who were hardest to beat not the least qualified or least vigorous advocates. [65] But again, this particular concern is a non factor in the case at bar. There is no charge against respondent Mendoza that he advised Central Bank on how to liquidate GENBANK with an eye in later defending respondents Tan, et al. of Allied Bank. Indeed, he continues defending both the interests of Central Bank and respondents Tan, et al. in the above cases. Likewise, the Court is nudged to consider the need to curtail what is perceived as the excessive influence of former officials or their clout.[66] Prof. Morgan again warns against extending this concern too far. He explains the rationale for his warning, viz: Much of what appears to be an employees influence may actually be the power or authority of his or her position, power that evaporates quickly upon departure from government x x x. [67] More, he contends that the concern can be demeaning to those sitting in government. To quote him further: x x x The idea that, present officials make significant decisions based on friendship rather than on the merit says more about the present officials than about their former co-worker friends. It implies a lack of will or talent, or both, in federal officials that does not seem justified or intended, and it ignores the possibility that the officials will tend to disfavor their friends in order to avoid even the appearance of favoritism.[68]


The question of fairness

Mr. Justices Panganiban and Carpio are of the view, among others, that the congruent interest prong of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility should be subject to a prescriptive period. Mr. Justice Tinga opines that the rule cannot apply retroactively to respondent Mendoza. Obviously, and rightly so, they are disquieted by the fact that (1) when respondent Mendoza was the Solicitor General, Rule 6.03 has not yet adopted by the IBP and approved by this Court, and (2) the bid to disqualify respondent Mendoza was made after the lapse of time whose length cannot, by any standard, qualify as reasonable. At bottom, the point they make relates to the unfairness of the rule if applied without any prescriptive period and retroactively, at that. Their concern is legitimate and deserves to be initially addressed by the IBP and our Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition assailing the resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001 of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 is denied. No cost. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona and Garcia, JJ., concur. Panganiban and Tinga, JJ., Please see separate opinion. Carpio-Morales and Callejo, Sr., JJ., Please see dissenting opinion. Azcuna, J., I was former PCGG Chair. Chico-Nazario, J., No part. Carpio, Austria-Martinez,